Inflation Now a Concern for Latin America

The comparison between economic performance in Latin America, Europe and North America could not be further apart. While Latin America continues to power ahead, with average growth of around 4% in the last four years, the situation in Europe and North America is going backwards. European and North American governments are struggling to maintain budget spending, economies are struggling to pull away from the recent downturn and indeed a number of fiscal stimulus packages are having limited impact to say the least.

The situation in Latin America is very different and indeed experts predict strong economic growth for the future. However, only this week we saw the Brazilian central bank airing the subject of inflation and a potential increase in base rates in the short term.

The Dangers of Inflation

Uncontrolled inflation can do untold damage to an economy as we saw back in the 1990s when Brazil nearly collapsed. It makes no difference how strong the underlying economies are because high inflation, i.e. double digit inflation as seen in the 1990s in Latin America, can obliterate economies and ruin the future outlook. Therefore, while on one hand it is good to see the Brazilian central bank broaching the subject of inflation before it actually becomes a problem, will it actually become a problem?

When you compare the current Brazilian base rate of 7.25% against near zero base rates in the UK, US and other areas of Europe, it is difficult to justify how the Brazilian central bank can even contemplate increasing the rate in the short term. However, that is before looking at the rate of inflation which is currently 6.31% against expected economic growth this year of 3.1% and 3.65% in 2014.

The Latin American Economy

Average growth rates across Latin America have been around 4%, with the exception of a small dip in 2012, for the last few years. The rate of economic growth may be slightly under the 4% mark in 2013 and 2014, if estimates for Brazil are anything to go by, but they are still very positive figures especially when compared to Europe and North America.

One thing which many people seem to forget is the fact that while Latin America is now more prominent on the international trading stage, there are still many efficiency savings to be made. Governments across Latin America have been looking at reducing red tape, opening markets to outside investors and indeed massive investment in infrastructure projects is required sooner rather than later. So, even if the Brazilian central bank, for one example, was tempted to increase base rates in the short term the potential fund tightening aim and impact upon the economy would be partly offset by infrastructure spending, employment opportunities and efficiencies going forward.

Expats in Latin America

Expats in Latin America will be looking at the figures from Brazil and other leading Latin American countries, comparing them with their former homelands and wondering what the problem is. The truth is there is no short term issue although the medium to longer term outlook with regards to inflation is a bit more uncertain. We should in many ways be grateful that Latin American governments are now being proactive rather than reactive with regards to inflation and indeed looking to tackle the problem before it becomes a major issue.

Even a slight increase in inflation across Latin America is unlikely to cause any major impact with regards to expat numbers. The long-term outlook for Latin America has improved dramatically in recent years and despite Mervyn King, the outgoing Governor of the Bank of England, suggesting the UK is on the road to recovery, at best this will take many years to fulfil.

Why the America We Knew Was Lost – How to Get it Back

America was a country where any person regardless of race, religion or creed could fulfill their dreams if they worked smart, hard, and long enough.

It was built on the backs of generations of American workers who had pride in their work.

And America was built by the dreams and energy of the small business owner who had a better product or a better way and the persistent determination to develop his ideas into a thriving business that would provide support for his family.

But, above all, more so than any country in the world, America had a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The central bank, insurance companies and other mighty financial powers within its borders were forced to abide by laws of human decency and fairness enacted to protect the health and welfare of its citizens.

American citizens are protected by child labor laws that make it illegal to exploit children, by laws that not only force employers to compensate workers for permanent bodily injury, but also laws that require employers to provide safe and healthful working conditions. American workers are protected from financial ruin by unemployment insurance. And, through the power of collective bargaining, for more than 50 years many workers had benefit packages to obtain the best health care available in the world.

Furthermore, companies operating within America’s borders are forced by law to conduct their business in ways that protect the quality of the air and water upon which we all depend upon for health and prosperity. To comply with these environmental laws, businesses are often required to pay millions of dollars to install special equipment or to use production methods that are far less efficient than other ways that assault the environment.

Beginning in the 1980’s cracks began to appear in the powerful American system that supported the highest standard of living for its workers of any nation in the history of the world.

Now, the apple cart has been turned upside down. Our nation is headed for ruin. The experiment devised by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and its other founding fathers has been destroyed.

A lot of people are pointing fingers, blaming everything from socialistic forces, to excessive government control of businesses to the exact opposite, the excessive control of government by business.

But, the real problem is as simple as apple pie.

Most businesses operating within the borders of America cannot compete with business in other countries.

Providing a high standard of living for the American worker and protecting the environment costs American businesses trillions of dollars every year.

Foreign companies who treat their workers and the environment like trash can operate at a fraction of the cost of American businesses.

To make matters worse, no, to make matters impossible for America, to promote the success of their businesses and economies, foreign governments who treat their citizens like trash manipulate the value of their currencies and limit imports of American made products.

During the gutting of the American way of life by foreign governments that protect their businesses and their economies by making it impossible for American companies to compete with foreign business, our government leaders have been preaching and practicing “Free Trade” as though it were the gospel of successful economics.

While the foreign nations of the world have been practicing “Trade Protectionism” to build their economies by leaps and bounds since the 1980’s, America, its government hell bent on Free Trade, has been crashing because businesses operating within its borders can not compete with the businesses in developing nations of the world that practice trade protectionism.

We freely opened up American markets to all the developing nations of the world. Countries using trade protectionism such as China and Japan flooded our markets with products at lower costs. We bought Chinese products at Walmart because they were cheaper. But with every dollar we thought we were saving, we lowered the pay and standard of living for the American worker.

Worse still, to take advantage of cheap labor costs of the underpaid exploited workers in foreign countries, American corporations invested in the development of factories and other industries in foreign countries and left the manufacturing base in America crumble. Their plan was to reduce product costs by building factories over seas and by importing cheaper parts. How could they have failed to realize the American could no longer afford to purchase their products if they stopped paying American workers for the production of the same products?

Chinese companies couldn’t offer their products at lower prices than American businesses if China hadn’t engaged in trade protectionism and currency manipulation. Chinese products in Walmart would not have been cheaper than American made products if the Chinese worker were paid a decent wage and had a decent standard of living.

The only way the United States of America can be saved is for its citizens to recognize that Free Trade is destroying it.

The most disheartening part of this is that those in power know that Free Trade is destroying America.

In fact, the destruction of America is intentional.

America is the breeding ground for the belief that the proficient worker has a right to more of the profits and wealth from the successes of a nations industry.

America is the breeding ground for the belief that the person who works hard and smart to become proficient in his services should enjoy the higher standard living, health and welfare that wealth buys.

America is the breeding ground for the belief that life can be enjoyable, worry free, and filled with opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

Destroying America will not only kill this costly belief that workers have a legitimate potential to earn the benefit of economic activity, but also, destroying it will add millions of American citizens to the easily exploited coy work force of the world.

Because the destruction of the American way of life is caused by intentional free trade policies that make it impossible for at home American businesses and its workers to compete, the American standard of living will be lost unless We The People wake up and push for the abolition of free trade with countries that don’t share our ideals of fairness and health and welfare for all productive workers.

If our government will not protect our home grown businesses, if our government will not protect our jobs from third world workers that live in squalor no matter how hard they work, then American workers must make some attempt at leveling the playing field or we will eventually live in squalor.

There are two actions we need to take, and take NOW.

First, seek out and vote for politicians who support Trade Protectionism for America.

Never vote for a politician who supports Free Trade. A politician who is preaching free trade, whether Democrat of Republican is a puppet involved with the destruction of America.

To save the standard of living in America, we need to start putting Americans back to work by charging import fees and imposing import quotas so our businesses can compete with those of countries that don’t compete fairly, countries that rig their currencies so they can sell products at a discount in America, countries that use child labor, countries that pollute the air without regulation, countries that don’t pay their workers enough to have a decent standard of living, and countries that treat their workers like dirt.

If you think child labor should be illegal, if you think some money should be spent trying to keep the air clean, if you think the average worker should be compensated when disabled from injury at work, then you better start buying American and stop voting for politicians who preach free trade because American companies can not compete with countries that keep their costs low by exploiting their people and the planet.

Stop voting for politicians who whine and complain about countries that engage in unfair trade practices and currency manipulations to grow their economies. Start voting for politicians who will take action and restrict imports from countries that don’t compete fairly. Vote for politicians who are willing to use import tariffs, import quotas and other trade protection measures to protect America from unfair trading nations like China.

The second thing you can do is buy American. When you buy American, you create American jobs. When you buy low priced imports, you are investing in the success of repressionist regimes that have no concern for the health and welfare or standard living of its citizens, nations that keep their costs low by not letting their citizens participate farily in the wealth created by economic strength.

Buy American and tell your congressman you don’t want to hear any more about Free Trade with nations who close their markets to American companies and use other immoral or unfair trade and currency practices to build their economies while they destroy ours.

Buy American!

You can begin this fall by planting American grown daffodil bulbs whose beautiful bright flowers will announce the end of winter year- after-year, long before other plants even begin to grow.

Let’s get it together before it’s gone for good.

Gary Springer, American Daffodil Farm

It’s Time We Stop Ignoring Racism In America

1. Has Racism And Bigotry Been Repackaged In America

It’s Time We Stop Ignoring Racism In America. Racism has obviously disguised itself in a variety of ways. One of Racism’s many personalities allows it to masquerade as justice. This is perhaps the deadliest weapon in violating African American rights. The deaths of Sandra Bland and Trayvon Martin are prime examples of how dangerous race tactics are when placed in the hands of unfair law enforcement. Racially charged killings by authorities are at an all time high and the hatred that rears its ugly head from behind a Patriotic mask has Americans chanting, ” Go back to Mexico!” to other Americans. We never see what race the monster is from behind its red, white and blue veil. Make America Great Again? Nobody ever told me that America had to be a certain color to be great?

2. Why Does Talking About Racism Make Some People Angry

Social commentary has been reduced to crude jokes and stereotypes? The media is not taking it seriously enough that there’s been no reparations made on behalf of the Government to people of color. Is the whole country laughing in the face of Black America? What is even more surprising is that we don’t believe African Americans should be angry. We forget that Segregation was still legal 54 years ago after a dreadful 400 years of slavery and America revisits this hell on earth every Black History Month. These images replay themselves in the minds of a slave’s descendent every time it’s talked about. Old wounds are reopened every time an African American is done an injustice. It’s been a long time coming but it will take twice as long to heal.

On the flip side White Americans are made to feel guilty and tire of having to proceed with caution around a person of color’. Images in pop culture suggest that Blacks are violent criminals, angering them is the last thing anyone wants to do but everyone has pride. I understand slavery was not your fault but the fact that the past is hurting our present is proof that America must deal with the sins of its forefathers. If we don’t, then the future will be divided. It’s Time We Stop Ignoring Racism In America before unspoken words become actions.

3. Does All Black People Have a Victim Mentality

Someone who is unaware that their lives are easier because of White privilege may even feel that the Victimization of Black people is a made up. Today some African Americans may be shocked that police kill unarmed Blacks because they never felt like victims themselves. This is understood, we are in an era where Barack Obama is a beloved president of the U.S. and well paid Black actors, musicians and sports stars are celebrated for their achievements. No, not all Black people feel victimized but the majority who grow up impoverished, racially profiled, and subject to police brutality insist that this victimization is a reality.

4. When It Come To Racism What Makes Playing The Race Card Wrong

It seems to me that Black Americans have learned to justify their actions from White America. Affirmative Action and Racial Profiling are labels that work in the same exact way that Patriotism and Conservative Politics do when they’re misused. It is unfortunate that individuals with bad intentions covertly use the sympathy or guilt of others to their advantage. I think we can all agree that the ruling in O.J. Simpson’s favor during his trial for the murder of Nicole Simpson, was outrageous. No one in either race should proudly support the murder of another person.

Anyone who requests a certain degree of leniency according to their race, gender, religion or sexual preference does not expect to be held accountable for their individual faults. If this is your way of life then you will never become a responsible human being. For this reason, the reputation of Blacks in America as revolutionaries has been profoundly tarnished by an excessive amount of childish behavior. It is okay to identify a racist epidemic but it is not okay to justify an act when you are completely aware that it is wrong. Two wrongs will never make a right.

5. The Negative Stereotype Of People Of Color

Racial slurs and Anti-Semitic themes enabled the Holocaust. It is shameful that American media still uses racist propaganda when it condemns Nazi Germany for dehumanizing a specific group by similar methods. The stereotyping of people of color preceded World War II so in many ways Nazism is a descendent of racist America.

We seem to poke fun at each other’s flaws but fail to realize how it has successfully divided us. If we must acknowledge that not every white individual is personally responsible for the trans-continental slave trade, then why can’t we see that not every Black American who uses slang and sag their pants is a criminal?

6. America Is Not The Black People’s Promised Land

This country’s proud forefathers never considered people of color as American. Not even the culture of indigenous people who were destroyed in its wake were American. After someone rapes and annihilates your culture, why would you even want to be one? That title was never intended for anyone else but the relentless Europeans who colonized this country.

It’s Time We Stop Ignoring Racism In America when Black Americans are still being mistreated but they have no place to go. They have no promised land, they were brought here on slave ships and their homeland is still ruled by the same people who brought them here. Other races were sold the American dream but Blacks were sold in America.

7. Have Black People In America Had The Same Rights As White People and Everyone Else.

Indentured servants who aspired to be Americans could work their way out of slavery but Blacks were lynched for trying to escape.There were never laws enforced on other races claiming that they were only three fourths of a human. I know you may think the intention for this was to enslave people on illogical grounds no one could prove. The truth is that slavery violated human rights that America claimed to uphold and the only way around the law was to have the court system agree that Blacks were 25% animal.

Also, there is nobody who a president must officially answer to in regards to blacks. The truth is that many allowances Blacks received can either be extended or shortened depending on who is in office. The United Nations have no designated representation for African Americans who would be appointed to speak on important Black American issues. Despite terrorism, even Islamic citizens are represented at these assemblies. Their leadership has standing armies so governments think twice before acting while no African country has spoken up for African Americans. For this reason Black Americans can be racially profiled and gunned down by law enforcement without any repercussions.

This is why the only way a people with no army or country could wage war on American injustice was by peaceful protests. It’s Time We Stop Ignoring Racism In America, some don’t have that privilege. If you’re born a Black American, then you live in a different world with a totally different set of rules. Your only chance for freedom was to break the rules. The Constitution applied to Americans but the word American didn’t apply to Blacks.

Who’s Your Favourite Captain America: Steve Rogers or Bucky?

(Warning: this will be quite long)

It’s Captain America month, and in case you haven’t heard, the latest Marvel superhero flick Captain America: The First Avenger has managed to knock Harry Potter off the number 1 box office slot in America. Not only has the film managed to overtake Potter’s final outing, it has also raked in some favourable reviews from critics worldwide. Cap fever isn’t just hitting Hollywood though. Right now Captain America is headlining the summer’s mega comic cross event ‘Fear Itself’, where former sidekick of Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes met his unfortunate demise last month. With the reception to Bucky’s death being extremely poor, I’m beginning to question if perhaps Barnes was the more popular Captain America after all.

Steve Rogers:

Steve is the original and most well known Captain America. Steve’s story began as a skinny art student from Brooklyn who was rejected by the U.S Military for his poor shape. Desperate to aid the war effort, Rogers agreed to take part in a top-secret operation known as Operation Rebirth, which transforms Steve into the peak of human perfection. In the closing days of World War 2, Rogers is hurled into the freezing Atlantic after trying to stop a bomb launched by villain Baron Zemo, where Rogers remained frozen in suspended animation for years, only to one day be awoken by The Avengers.

Steve gains appeal from being a man out of time. Although that has worn off drastically in recent years, Steve’s morals and vales constantly reflect his time in the past. His never say die attitude, is something all the heroes look up too, and his authoritive presence makes him one of the only few worthy of leading the Avengers. Steve’s morals have often led him to question the actions of some of his teammates. In the 2006-2007 mega crossover ‘Civil War’, Steve opposes a government superhero registration act, led by former team mate Tony Stark as he sees it as a removal of civil rights. Steve’s efforts to oppose the registration act led him to surrender to authorities where he was shot down upon his trial on the steps of the federal courthouse.

It was later revealed that Steve was trapped in time, as a result of the Red Skulls evil plan. After reliving his past, Steve was eventually rescued by the new Captain America and the New Avengers. Apart from a brief stint as Captain America during the 2010 comic event ‘Siege’, Rogers gave up the mantle of Captain America to focus on running the superhero community as Commander Steve Rogers. This is again what makes Steve such a pure character. His sacrifice of giving up the mantle of Captain America really emphasizes what a good heart the character has.

James ‘Bucky’ Barnes

Bucky was one of the three characters alongside Uncle Ben and Jason Todd that were thought would always stay dead in comics. Yet in 2005, Bucky was famously revealed to be a Soviet Assassin known as the Winter Soldier in Ed Brubaker’s brilliant Captain America series. Having spent his time as the Winter Soldier aiding the Cold War effort, Bucky was kept in suspended animation between missions so his masters could keep him under control.

It wasn’t until he was discovered by Steve Rogers did Bucky regain control after Rogers used the mystical device known as the Cosmic Cube to restore all of Barnes’s memories. After spending time working for S.H.I.E.L.D Bucky stepped up to the mantle of Captain America when Steve was gunned down in the aftermath of the superhero Civil War.

What made Bucky such a great Captain America, was that he was flawed. Unlike Steve, Bucky’s only superhuman asset was his bionic arm meaning he wasn’t as advantaged in combat as his predecessor. This often led to Barnes being captured, which actually became a cliché associated with the character. Barnes was not an idol to his fellow superheroes, as he had to earn their acceptance. Bucky was trying to redeem himself for his past actions as the Winter Soldier, he never wanted to be Captain America, he just didn’t want anyone other than Steve wielding the shield.

Brubaker created an epic narrative with the past eventually catching up with James. After his past life as the Winter Soldier was leaked to the press by Baron Zemo, Bucky was forced to go on trial where he was found guilty of crimes against Russia. It wasn’t long after escaping the Russian prison did Barnes meet his poor demise in Matt Fractions crossover Event ‘Fear Itself’.

Result: My favourite Captain America has to be Bucky. He’s drastically flawed, but he’s still a good guy. Barnes was a Captain America more reflective of the 21st Century. His story arcs were more compelling, and his character was richer. Steve will always be the classic Captain America, but as we enter the later half of 2011, Roger’s Captain America begins to feel slightly outdated.

Let me know what you think, do you prefer Steve or are you like me and think Bucky is a more compelling Captain America? Leave your comments below.