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Category “Economics”

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This Alone is Telling, Huh?

A short snippet from Mike Allen’s “Politico Playbook” email from this morning:

ANNIVERSARIES: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a.k.a. the Stimulus, is five today. (hat tip tote board: Republicans, too many to count; Democrats, zero)

Gee, you think the Stimulus was successful if its authors don’t want to celebrate?

Keynesian Economics — Making the world stagnantly poor, while encouraging the growth of government since 1936.

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H-1B Visa Reform Would Have At Least Made Sense

Let me preface this post by saying: “I’m not for amnesty, just sanity.”

While largely dead for the rest of the 2013-14 congressional calendar, there were some things I personally would have liked to have seen touched in an immigration package or separate bill.  (You know, that piecemeal approach talked about, but apparently not going to be tried.)

At the top of that list is “H-1B Visa Reform.”

“H-1B” is, like most visas issued by the State Department, one of a variety of work visas granted to immigrants who are temporary workers inside the United States.  H-1B’s are a specialty type of visa which only are available to the following qualifications:

  1. You must be a foreign national.
  2. You must have already earned a college degree.
  3. Said degree must be in a career related to what are called “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) fields.

The visas last for three years and can be renewed for another three for a total of six years; and with their employers sponsorship, they can gain citize That stay can be up to ten years, only if you are working for a defense contractor.  They are highly-coveted by technology firms in Silicon Valley such as Google, IBM, Facebook and Oracle.

Annually, 65,000 new H-1Bs are issued, with an additional 20,000 to eligible immigrants already in the country who getting their college degrees. Estimations are that since the program began around 2,000, over 850,000 H-1Bs have been issued.

So why reform them and what to do?  The common answer — accepted on both sides — has been to lift the annual quota.  Why? Because the world is a competitive workplace, and despite constant interest in computer sciences and IT, America isn’t generating enough of them fast enough.  Also, other nations also have substantial technology sectors themselves and will grab up these wouldbe employees.

In the most recent podcast episode for the center-right website Ricochet, renowned political analyst Michael Barone told a story of how a Canadian diplomat prayed that America didn’t change its immigration policy towards high-skilled workers (the ones sought through the H-1B program) because then all these folks could come to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.  British Columbia is well-known to be the high-tech hub matching its neighbors south of the border in Washington State and Silicon Valley.

It is this exact thing which makes the immigration debate as a whole so frustrating.  While we’re fighting over what is clearly a horrific Senate bill, both sides need to take a moment, figure out where there is actual consensus on immigration — like visa reform, which has nothing to do with amnesty much if at all — and craft a bill.

Anyone who still demands a full, “comprehensive approach” (Chuck Schumer, I’m looking at you.) should be barred from the room.  Hammer out something that works, not just for those getting the H-1Bs’, but for the U.S. economy as well.

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RadioShack to Close 500 Stores

No word on where they will be, or how many will be in Wisconsin.  Guess this more or less proves the theory that the $4 Million they laid down for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII ad was a last grasp at attention for the brand.

Anyone honestly thinking that not spending the money would have saved these stores for anything longer than another week or so (RadioShack has revenues in the $3 to 5 Billion range) is kidding themselves.

U.S. electronics chain RadioShack Corp is planning to close about 500 stores within months, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The struggling retailer, which is due to report results for the fourth quarter later this month, said it could not comment on rumor or speculation.

RadioShack has been working with bankers from Peter J Solomon Co to boost its liquidity and with AlixPartners on its operational turnaround.

Its sales have been in free-fall amid executive departures, strong competition and an image problem. Despite its ubiquitous presence in the United States, analysts say it has not done enough to transform itself into a destination for mobile phone shoppers, nor has it become hip enough to woo younger shoppers.

RadioShack has been struggling for some time.  Heck, there were rumors of the company filing for bankruptcy protection in July 2013.  The company fought back against these rumors saying it was more likely to “restructure.” 

If they are indeed going that route, than the Super Bowl ad would likely be “Step 1” in its attempt at re-branding itself and its image.

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