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The Fed isn’t the enemy folks

constitution quill penPrivatization of the federal workforce was a goal of Ronald Reagan during his administration. He convened the Grace Commission to look into how best to do just that. Now, more than thirty years later, the number of contract employees compared to career federal employees approaches a five to one ratio.
Clearly, there are some benefits to contracting out some very skill-specific functions, but the value of a properly staffed and experienced federal workforce should not be taken lightly. Nor should a dedicated federal workforce that is sworn to uphold the Constitution and not the profit motive of the company winning a federal contract be something that is taken for granted.
Placing the burden of the federal deficit on the shoulders of the federal workforce is doing exactly that and is certainly not cost effective.

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Push back on minimum wage study by County

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoLast week’s release of a Montgomery County-commissioned study if the County increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour was a devastating blow to its proponents.

The results of the study, conducted by Philadelphia-based PFM Consulting group, are a dark prediction for minimum wage increase advocates, projecting the County would lose 47,000 jobs and $396.5 million in aggregate by 2022. The study also concludes that the County’s current minimum wage of $11.50 per hour is too high and the ideal minimum wage for the County would be $11 per hour.

Despite the sharp public relations blow the study dealt to their plan for a minimum wage increase, the members of the County Council that voted in favor of it have no intentions of backing down. However, even with the anticipated public rebuke of the study when its authors speak to the Council on Sept. 19, finding a way to increase the minimum wage will be a daunting task.Advocates on the Council for the minimum wage increase have attacked the study’s methodology saying it was conducted to reflect the sentiments of business owners surveys, saying the study were biased in favor of the feelings of business owners, not economic science.

“To me it’s just a total bogus study,” said Council member Marc Elrich (D-at large), the lead sponsor of the bill to increase the minimum wage.

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County restarts marketing itself after 2-year stoppage

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Montgomery County has restarted actively marketing and advertising itself in the last few months, after a hiatus of more than two years.

David Petr, CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, described the new program for the County Council at its June 20 information session on innovation and attracting businesses and jobs to the County.

MCEDC is a private, nonprofit corporation funded by the county government. It began operating last summer. After building a staff, Petr, who has a background in advertising, started the marketing effort.

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Holy shades of 2005 economy Batman

for sale sign outside houseEveryone seems to be excited about this week’s Case-Shiller home price numbers reported for February. Even the title of the April 25th press release sounded a little giddy: “The S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller National Home Price NSA Index Sets Fourth Consecutive All-Time High” (spice-indices.com). Yes, the Case-Shiller 10-city and 20-city composite indices are close to the 2007 level. But before you become intoxicated with the thought of becoming rich by selling your home, here’s more to the story.

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County Businesses Export $5 Billion per Year, Supporting 35,000 Jobs

  • Published in Local

Montgomery County exporters brought in more than $5 billion in 2015, supporting 35,000 jobs and comprising 6.5 percent of the county’s overall economy, according to data jointly produced by the Brookings Institution and the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University in Virginia.

Much of the county’s – and Maryland’s – economy is “knowledge-based,” said Signe Pringle, director of the state Commerce Department’s Office of International Investment and Trade, which assists businesses with exports and helps to attract foreign companies to invest in Maryland. That’s reflected in high-tech exports in fields such as life sciences (mainly drugs and medical equipment), information technology and defense equipment, Pringle noted.

Jeannette Chapman, deputy director of the Fuller Institute, a top source of information on the regional economy, said, “Because our [metropolitan Washington] region specializes in services, we export relatively few shippable items.” The Brookings/Fuller data in Tables 1 and 2 are “the best available estimates” for service exports, which “are somewhat harder to track” than shipments, Chapman explained. Table 2 shows the importance of service products in Montgomery’s exports, she noted.

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The coming optimism in the housing market

for-sale-sign-outside-house

There’s no doubt that 2016 was an outstanding year for real estate and the housing market. In fact, National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun was reported to say in a January NAR press release (www.nar.realtor) that the 2016 housing market was the best since the Great Recession. There were 5.45 million total existing home sales in 2016, which exceeded 5.25 million during 2015.

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Letters to the Editor, October 13, 2016

Robots and the school year?

To the editor;

“OK, robot waitress.  Your first recommendation was the slow baked salmon with lemon and thyme.    I’ll try that.  With the peas and carrots.  By the way, that is a snazzy outfit you’re wearing…. You’re welcome. ”  

In a few years conversations like this will become common.   More broadly, robots will increasingly perform many jobs now performed by humans.   We may expect that the robots generally will first be used to do repetitive physical jobs.   Jobs remaining available to humans will involve greater complexity and skill.  Less skilled humans will have a harder time finding work.   New kinds of human jobs will be created more slowly than traditional jobs disappear.

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Minimum wage hike debated

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Fallout from the county’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 came as expected Tuesday night as business owners and laborers found themselves on opposite sides of the issue.

Forty people testified Tuesday night about Bill 12-16, which would raise the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour in 2018, $13.75 per hour in 2019 and $15 per hour in 2020.

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State delegate talks new leadership position

  • Published in Local

Anne R. KaiserSILVER SPRING – Delegate Anne Kaiser is ready to assume her new role as the Nancy Pelosi of the Maryland General Assembly. When the 2015 state legislature session convenes in mid-January Delegate Kaiser (D-14) will assume the role of majority leader, a position she will take over from fellow Montgomery County delegate Kumar Barve (D-17).

“As majority leader I will be a key part of the process for my democratic colleagues. There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to. I think the role entails many things and I will be learning them soon,” Kaiser said.

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