Categorized | happenings

The Biz Roundup February 2

So long, health benefits, nice to have known you, don’t be a stranger, now, y’hear?

Surveys suggest that rising premiums have prompted more than half of small businesses to reduce [health] benefits, raise deductibles or require workers to shoulder a larger share of an ever more expensive pie.

Workers in firms with fewer than 25 workers are now twice as likely to be uninsured as those in larger firms, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute. For those small-business employees who do have insurance, the share with high deductibles has more than doubled in the last two years.

(“Small Payroll, but Big Woes on Insurance,” New York Times, February 2) I have argued since the 1980’s that we will go to a single-payer, nationalized health-care system when health insurance becomes too expensive for the majority of small businesses to pay, when not only “unemployed” means “uninsured,” but when “employed at a small business” means the same thing. We’re hovering at that point this very day — less than half of businesses with ten or fewer employees offer any health benefits whatsoever and we’re fast approaching the halfway mark for businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Mark my words — a single payer health system is waiting in the wings to make its stage debut here in the States.

It’s Gregg!

President Obama will nominate Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) tomorrow for commerce secretary, a White House official said tonight. . . .

Gregg appears willing to take the Commerce job, but he announced one condition today: His replacement in the Senate had to be a Republican.

“I have made it clear to the Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle and to the Governor that I would not leave the Senate if I felt my departure would cause a change in the makeup of the Senate,” Gregg said in a statement.

(“WH Official: Gregg to Be Nominated Tuesday for Commerce Job,” Washington Post, February 2) What a great choice! I admit, I’m biased, because Senator Gregg is a brilliant, savvy, and amazingly pragmatic man who is one of the few conservatives who genuinely understands free markets and what makes them tick. And you have to admit that the concession that the New Hampshire governor and Obama are willing to make — to not replace Gregg with a Democrat — genuinely bespeaks a very different, very promising new style of governing.

Okay, you thought this was an “economic crisis.” Apparently a few myopic folks thought that said, “political campaign.”

Prospects for the bill as it is debated over the rest of this week are likely to hinge on two things. First, whether the Democrats are prepared to accept substantive Republican amendments. Democrats have hinted that they might agree to a Republican proposal that the federal government guarantee up to 40m mortgages at monthly interest payments of 4.5 per cent – a measure that would cost almost $300bn and would save the average homeowner more than $400 a month.

But the proposal would be included in the next emergency financial assistance package, which the Obama administration is likely to unveil this month, rather than in the stimulus, say Democrats. “Helping homeowners directly is a far more efficient way of getting consumers to spend quickly than most of the government spending programmes in the bill,” said a spokesman for Mr McConnell.

Second, Republicans will keep pushing for Mr Obama to remove earmarks and what they consider to be irrelevant, or ineffectual, spending items from the bill, even if they do not amount to a large share of the overall package. Mr Obama has hinted that he will press Democratic leaders to purge the bill of earmarks when the upper and lower chamber versions are reconciled following the Senate vote.

(“Republican rhetoric hardens on stimulus,” Financial Times, February 2) Okay, we need a stimulus bill of some sort. But both these Republican demands sound pretty reasonable to me. Can’t we all just get along?

Well, at least they have Bratz now.

Sales of the company’s signature Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels toys fell more than 20% compared with the fourth quarter of 2007 as the worst holiday shopping season in 40 years brought out the Grinch in parents.

“Toys have always been one of the most recession-resistant industries out there,” said Chris White, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles. “The thinking is that adults . . . are going to buy toys for their kids no matter what.

“But what we’re seeing in the current economic downturn is clearly without precedent in recent memory.”

(“Mattel’s quarterly profit plunges 46%,” Los Angeles Times, February 2) When kids are sitting on Santa’s lap and asking for a job for Daddy and not to lose the house for Mommy, you know that toys are going to lose their recession-proof armor.

7,000 fewer reasons to shop at Macy’s (“Macy’s cuts 7,000 jobs, 1,400 in San Francisco,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 2)

If you’ve lost your job, it could be worse. You could’ve lost your job in China, as 20 MILLION Chinese have learned the hard way. (“Downturn causes 20m job losses in China,” Financial Times, February 2)

Did you ever in even your wildest, craziest, most drug-addled dreams, ever believe that the most important person for rescuing our economy would be . . . Stuart Smalley? (“Stimulus bill’s success may hinge on Minnesota recount ,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 2)

Hollywood moves to Michigan. You won’t find this news in the LA Times. (“Pontiac lands movie studio, 5,000 new jobs expected,” Detroit Free Press, February 2)

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Shoestring Book Reviews

Shoestring Venture Reviews
Richard Hooker on Jim Blasingame

Shoestring Fans and Followers



Business Book: How to Start a Business

Shoestring Book

Shoestring Venture in iTunes Store

Shoestring Venture - Steve Monas & Richard Hooker

Shoestring Kindle Version # 1 for e-Commerce, # 1 for Small Business, # 1 for Startup 99 cents

Business Book – Shoestring Venture: The Startup Bible

Shoestring Book Reviews

Shoestring Venture Reviews

Invesp landing page optimization
Powered By Invesp
Wikio - Top Blogs - Business