Monthly Archive for December, 2013

Blasingame’s 2014 Crystal Ball Predictions

Here are my predictions for 2014

Prediction: Five years after the end of the Great Recession, U.S. economic growth will average no more than 3% in 2014.

Prediction: Small businesses will benefit from the economic growth, but will continue to report optimism levels below the NFIB Index’s 40-year average of 100 points.

Prediction: Small businesses will continue reluctance to take growth risks, producing the sixth straight year of low levels of investment and bank loans.

Prediction: With uncertainty about the impact of Obamacare lasting through Q4, small businesses will continue their reluctance to hire.

Prediction: More significant than the U3 household unemployment percentage, the employment participation rate, currently 63%, will remain at the lowest levels since the Carter administration.

Prediction: The Fed will follow through and reduce the unprecedented quantitative easing (QE) that has infused trillions of dollars into the economy (primarily Wall Street) since 2008.

Prediction: Incoming Fed Chairman, Janet Yellen, will promote policies that will be friendlier to the twin pillars of Main Street: small businesses and community banks.

Prediction: A combination of Fed QE tapering, a cooling global economy, and continued Obamacare disruptions will produce a challenging year for Wall Street.

Prediction: Like watching a train wreck in slow motion, Obamacare will produce a kind of national economic double jeopardy of real damage to millions of people, and continued uncertainty for everyone else.

Prediction: After over a dozen arbitrary and unilateral changes to Obamacare by the Obama administration, with more to come in 2014, Constitutional challenges will manifest as lawsuits.

Prediction: Democrats running for re-election will run from the president, making 2014 a lonely year for him.

Prediction: Only one thing will overcome the record low polling numbers of Congressional Republicans enough to propel them to regain control of the Senate while maintaining a majority in the House in the mid-term elections—Obamacare.

Prediction: President Obama will win the debt ceiling and immigration debates, but will lose on raising minimum wage.

Prediction: Hillary Clinton will announce her 2016 presidential intentions, but not until after the mid-term elections.

Prediction: Auburn will defeat Florida State in the BCS Championship Game.

The die is cast: Obamacare will be the most pervasive financial, economic, and political factor in America in 2014.

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For a more in-depth guide to my predictions for 2014, listen to my latest segments from The Small Business Advocate Show® linked below.

Five of Jim’s 2014 Crystal Ball Predictions

Five more of Jim’s 2014 Crystal Ball Predictions

The last seven Crystal Ball predictions by Jim Blasingame

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

SBA Poll Results: How has Obamacare impacted your spending?

The Question:
How has the troubled roll-out of Obamacare this year, and uncertainty about healthcare coverage for next year impacted your holiday spending?

15% - It has had no impact at all. We’re not concerned about it.

38% - We’re somewhat concerned but haven’t adjusted our holiday spending.

31% - We’re concerned, and it has somewhat impacted our holiday spending.

16% - Our concerns about Obamcare have significantly lowered our holiday budget.

My Comments:
Well, less than half of our respondents, 47%, report Obamacare concerns have impacted their holiday spending. But those who confess concern, if not spending restraint, represented 85% of our audience.

Once we were merely concerned about Obamacare based on uncertainty about how it would work. Now we have plenty of troubling evidence that makes the damage of this law less uncertain, and yet there is still so much more to come that we don’t know about in the remaining roll out in 2014. Thus, at this moment, Obamacare has created a kind of double jeopardy–bad news that is real and more uncertainty about what’s yet to come.

One day in the future, when political science and government classes focus on how to create and launch successful political policy, Obamacare will surely be the all-time example of how NOT to do it. In the meantime, Americans are having to live the reality that is Obamacare as the metaphor for an epic fail in government and politics.

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Take this week’s poll HERE!

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Video: In defense of scrooges everywhere

In this week's video I share by Christmas message while offering advice about dealing with the scrooges of the world.

“Merry Christmas, My Friend”

There is a poem that has been popular on the Internet for several years which describes a visit by Santa to a soldier’s simple home. There are several versions with different names as authors, but here is the story of the original poem as told by its author, L Cpl James M. Schmidt, U.S. Marine Corps.

“While a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington DC, under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers [in 1986], Iwrote this poem to hang on the door of the Gym in the BEQ. When Col. Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire Battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed wordwide and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine.”

Over the years the text of “Merry Christmas, My Friend” has been edited to change the Marine-specific wording into Army references (U.S. Marines do not refer to themselves as “soldiers”).

Here is L Cpl Schmidt’s version as printed in Leatherneck in 1991:

Merry Christmas, My Friend

Twas the night before Christas, he lived all alone, in a one-bedroom house made of plaster & stone. I had come down the chimney, with presents to give and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see, no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree. No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand. On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind, a sobering thought soon came to my mind. For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen. This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more, so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door. And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone, curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene, not how I pictured a U.S. Marine. Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read? Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan. I soon understood, this was more than a man. For I realized the families that I was that night, owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would plan, And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day. They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year, Because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone, On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home. Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye. I dropped to my knew and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice, “Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice. I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more. My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep, I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still. I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill. So I took off my jacket, the one made of read, and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.

Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold, with an eagle, globe and anchor, emblazoned so bold. And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride, and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave his so quiet in the night, This guardian of honor so willing to fight. But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure, said, “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”

One look at my watch and I knew he was right, Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

Indeed. Merry Christmas and safe holidays to all of my small business heroes and those who are defending our freedoms.

Hug a scrooge today; they need love, too

Some say I’m a scrooge; they might be right. But here are three exhibits in my defense:

1. The early part of my career was spent in retail, which is tough on the holiday spirit. There’s a syndrome for everything else; why not one for retail survivors? Let’s call it PTHSS: Post-Traumatic Holiday Shock Syndrome.

2. Since I don’t wait until the holidays to give someone a gift, I just don’t get all worked up about holiday giving. Not that the ladies mind getting stuff all year (let’s not lose our heads!) — it’s just that they want me to be giddy about giving at Christmas-time. Giddy? Bah! Humbug!

3. As an avowed contrarian, it would be antithetical for me to feel obligated to do what everyone else is doing. And one thing that is part and parcel of the holiday season is obligation. For example:

a) If someone gives my significant other and me a last-minute gift before Christmas, “Other” feels obligated to reciprocate. I don’t. I’ll do something nice for them in March.

b) After the holiday cards have been sent, if a card comes in from someone not on your list do you rush to reciprocate? Not me – maybe next year. In fact, to a scrooge, not reciprocating is endearing.

It’s not that I don’t like the holidays. As a Christian, this is an important time in my faith life. As a capitalist, the importance of holiday spending to the economy is not lost on me. But I just don’t care for what we self-absorbed humans hath wrought on the holiday season; and if that makes me a scrooge, guilty as charged.

On behalf of my misunderstood brethren and sisteren (I heard of a female scrooge once), let me clear up a few things.

  1. Scrooges can be lovable – even cute.
  2. Some are actually generous, but without the giddiness.
  3. Scrooges can be compassionate without saying, “Bless their hearts,” over and over.

To influence my acquittal, I offer two challenges into evidence; one for me and one for us:

1. I challenge myself to be more receptive to, and tolerant of the silly parts of the holiday season. But please, be patient; the mill of a scrooge grinds slowly.

2. I challenge us to be more generous, loving, thankful and spiritual all year long, not just during the holidays.

Imagine what would happen if we all practiced peace on earth and goodwill toward everyone, every day. It might sound something like this: “Let’s help those people right now, in the middle of July!”

Peace to you and yours. Shalom. Salaam. Que la paz este con ustedes.

SBA Poll Results: Climate Change?

The Question:
What do you think is the impact of human behavior on the climate of the Earth?

11% - Climate change is real and dangerous, and humans are the cause

27% - Climate change is real, but humans are only part of the reason

48% - The climate was changing for millions of years before humans

14% - Climate change is a religion practiced by environmental zealots

My Comments:
As you can see, only 11% of our respondents think human behavior is causing climate change, while 63% think humans are not responsible.

Allow me to direct you to an article I wrote about this a few months ago, which should add some perspective on what American businesses have done based on innovations and business decisions, not hysteria.




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