A little more information

The two main activities in my life: Helping the hungry in the late hours of the night and helping guitar players sound better one amp at a time.

I always try to remember that in order to do good one has to take action and actually do something.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have watched the city and Southern California change for well over half a century.

I can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/mylesr or on twitter at www.twitter.com/myles111us or on my own Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting website at www.mylesrose.com

Los Angeles Architectural History

Los Angeles Architectural History
1935 Art Deco at some of its finest: No. 168 - Griffith Observatory- (click on the photo for information)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What has been going on this week?

As I sit here for a few minutes writing this blog entry I do not feel one way or another at the level of activity in the last few days or the week.  Perhaps when I look back on what I wrote on facebook in real time or look at some of my photos I will get a better idea of the past few days or week.....

On September 1st I started posting a bit on Shay Kelley ( http://www.shaykelley.com/ ) and her Project 50/50.  My blog post can be seen at http://la-economy.blogspot.com/2010/09/shay-kelley-project-5050-please.html and as of a few minutes ago there have been 19,187 visitors to the blog.  Not too bad to spread the word.  I also sent the blog entry to Ford Motor Company as Shay is driving the country and sleeping in her 1984 For pickup truck.  Not exactly the most efficient year or most comfortable. 

Another person I have been following for a while is Mark Horvath.  Mark is the man behind http://www.invisiblepeople.tv/ and has a strong following as his videos on youtube ( check out the channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/invisiblepeopletv )  Mark has a background behind the lens of a camera.  As he put it ....  For years I’ve used the lens of a television camera to tell the stories of homelessness and the organizations trying to help. That was part of my job. The reports were produced well and told a story, but the stories you see on this site are much different. These are the real people, telling their own, very real stories… unedited, uncensored and raw.

The purpose of this vlog is to make the invisible visible. I hope these people and their stories connect with you and don’t let go. I hope their conversations with me will start a conversation in your circle of friends.

Mark is getting the word out on the homeless situation in a very effective way.  Feel free to share the invisiblepeople.tv link and http://www.hardlynormal.com/ his other link.  If you want to give Mark a hand feel free to spread his links and take a look at his page at http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/about/  I have posted some of these videos myself in the past.  Mark's road trip can be seen at http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/invisible-people-homeless-road-trip/  There is good info there and there is also a donate button if you wish to help a bit.   A side note; when this trip is complete Mark is still homeless.

Shay is on her own with little more than her dog and camera.  Please feel free to share Shay's website URL and distribute it to your friends.   She can use all the help and support that we can muster.  http://www.shaykelley.com/

I commented on a story ...

Food trucks are rolling into the mainstream

Restaurant chains such as Sizzler and Subway are joining the parade of roving gourmet kitchens that started with Kogi two years ago.  The story can be seen here:  http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-food-trucks-20100909,0,579393.story

When I posted this story on facebook one person made a comment that others agreed with:  Man, this is SUCH a bad idea! Best option is to NOT patronize the Sizzlers and Subways of the world.
I commented back:  I do not think you have to worry. A big part of the reason these trucks do so well is they run their own show, do not answer to corporate authority. The folks that operate the trucks in many cases are young, talented owner/operators. Their menus are creative and their overhead do not have to pay back into large corporation infrastructure. They use fresh ingredients that are bought locally at the produce, meat and fish markets every day in most cases. These chain trucks will be forced to follow stale menus and get their ingredients from the same places they do for their brick and mortar stores. They will probably not be owner/operators, they will be a franchise at best. There are some of these trucks that are a franchise but they started with a foundation of being unique and fresh rather than a scaled down menu which is old hat and lackluster at best.

The sixth annual L.A. Ampshow is on the horizon.  October 2,3.  I will be there as I have from the first show.  I have been getting ready for the show and answering questions.  http://www.ampshow.com/ for more info.

From the location of the seat of our nation's government came this story:

Initial unemployment claims drop by 27,000

By Vicki Needham - 09/09/10 10:06 AM ET
New claims for unemployment benefits dropped more than expected last week, an indication that employers are cutting fewer jobs amid the slow economic recovery.
Jobless claims dropped 27,000, down to 451,000 from last week's revised 478,000 for the week ended Sept. 4, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The four-week moving average for unemployment claims dropped 9,250 to 477,750. That average smoothes out the volatility of the weekly jobless numbers, providing a better gauge of the nation's employment situation.
Claims declined in 35 states and rose in 18 others, the report said.
The private sector added 67,000 jobs in August but overall employment dropped 54,000 as the federal government continued to let go of temporary census workers. The drop boosted the national unemployment rate to 9.6 percent.
Economists argue that jobless claims need to drop into the low 400,000s or high 300,000s to reflect stronger job growth in the private sector.
Although claims are well below their high of 651,000 in March 2009, they still aren't low enough to signal strong improvement in the job market.
The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance was little changed, while those getting extended payments rose.
Meanwhile, the number of people receiving unemployment insurance dropped by 2,000, to 4.48 million, in the week ended Aug. 28. That figure was less than analysts expected.
The number of people who have exhausted their extended jobless benefits — available up to 99 weeks in some states — increased by about 29,300, to 5.47 million, in the week ended Aug. 21.

The end of that story.   More nonsense.  More smoke and mirrors.   The last paragraph above is somewhat interesting when you realize that every two weeks the next group of folks drop off the roles of the counted.  The folks dropping off now are from the first wave of the folks who lost their jobs.  Later in the "recession" these numbers increased so we are only seeing the tip of the proverbial iceberg at this time.

Some other folks had comments on the story:

Never mind that 9 states did not file stats for the week.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-09/jobless-claims-in-u-s-decreased-27-000-to-451-000-last-week.html
If you are going to report a story, please tell the entire story.  BY YooDman on 09/09/2010 at 10:37

As Yoodman said, perhaps tell the entire story?

The number of people falling off the lists of those counted every two weeks as their benefits expire would show a much different picture that the one painted by this inaccurate news piece.

I did find that this earliest version of this story today originated out of the seat of government in our nation. This story is repeated a few times every month, usually just after a big drop in the market. It is generally followed by other stories which point out that the count was misleading and new data has been "discovered".
BY Myles Rose on 09/09/2010 at 11:13

I believe big brother…NOT!  BY uknow? on 09/09/2010 at 11:33

Did you take in account the 99ers that have lost all support? Or have they just been forgotten US Citizens that lost their jobs due to their jobs being sent to a different Country (out of the United States)?  BY pam on 09/09/2010 at 16:07

This story caught my eye:

Obama Stimulus Money Goes Where Needed Least:

By Veronique de Rugy - Sep 8, 2010 6:00 PM PT

When President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he promised that the $787 billion stimulus package would create or save 3.5 million jobs over two years, mostly in the private sector.

Without the spending called for in the law, the administration predicted, the unemployment rate would reach 8.6 percent. Today, the U.S. unemployment rate is 9.6 percent. What happened?

We spent a great deal of money. But if we wanted to spend it to benefit the states with the highest unemployment rates, we failed. Out of the total $787 billion, the federal government so far has allocated one-third, or $275 billion, in grants and contracts to shovel-ready projects. So far $190 billion of that amount has been spent, according to government figures.

With a few exceptions, the data show little correlation between the level of unemployment and stimulus spending. In fact, the opposite is true. The federal government has given far fewer stimulus dollars to states with high unemployment than it has to states with low unemployment.

Here is a chart that compares the five states with the highest and lowest unemployment rates and the amount of stimulus money per capita:

State Unemployment Rate Stimulus/capita

Nevada 14.3 percent $561.55
Michigan 13.1 percent $648.91
California 12.3 percent $546.34
Rhode Island 11.9 percent $164.83
Florida 11.5 percent $475.67

Vermont 6.0 percent $522.42
New Hampshire 5.8 percent $852.53
Nebraska 4.7 percent $591.17
South Dakota 4.4 percent $1,084.73
North Dakota 3.6 percent $1,059.95

Does it make sense that the state with the highest unemployment rate, Nevada, is getting roughly half the per- capita amount of the state with the lowest, North Dakota? Sure, Michigan, Nevada and California are all getting more per person than New Hampshire, but only a smidge more, even though their unemployment rates are at least twice that of New Hampshire’s.

What’s going on here? For one thing, these are raw numbers that reflect only the amount of stimulus money spent. What they don’t do is tell us anything about the reasons it was spent.

Testing Correlation

In order to find what forces motivated the decision to spend, I ran a regression analysis that tested whether a certain factor is correlated to the outcome -- in this case, whether the unemployment level helped determine the spending allocations.

In this case, though, even after running a series of analyses, I found no correlation between unemployment levels and stimulus spending. (The data and regressions can be downloaded at mercatus.org.)

What about the possibility that these numbers don’t take into consideration money sloshing around federal agencies that will eventually go to the states? After all, that’s why data available on recovery.gov, which tracks stimulus spending, show that the District of Columbia receives a whopping $5,078.78 per person. That’s money that has been allocated to federal agencies, but some of it hasn’t yet gone to the states.

Alaska Triangle

It doesn’t, however, explain why Alaska, with 7.7 percent unemployment, is getting $2,315.88 per person. Of course, Alaska always has been the Bermuda Triangle of federal spending -- some mysteries are eternal.

So if state unemployment levels weren’t the basis on which the federal government allocated these funds, what was? To me, it looks like it was just one: speed.

Back in February 2009, for all the talk about creating jobs, the administration wasn’t focused on distributing money to high-unemployment states, which, in theory, were the ones hurting the most. It was just trying to spend a massive amount of money as quickly as possible.

To achieve that, the stimulus bill distributed money among the states through existing channels -- such as the federal Departments of Education and Transportation -- whose main functions aren’t to address unemployment levels.

The Obama administration was wildly successful if its objective was to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time. Whether that money has done or will do anything for the people that need it most has proven far more elusive. As the saying goes, You can have it fast, you can have it good, or you can have it cheap -- pick two.

Sadly, we did worse than that: We only got one.

Is Homelessness Becoming Trendy?
This story was interesting - http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/bronstein/detail?entry_id=71858
The opening of the story:  Is homelessness becoming trendy? Not if you're actually homeless. But the housing collapse means more and more people are sharing the streets these days. And wherever there's a growing market, expect news and a cultural stampede to follow it.

Some of my thinking on the story:  Maybe what the folks at Men's Warehouse are doing is a good thing in some ways but when one looks into it a bit more deeply they are also offering a discount if you buy new things there.  Something like leveraging the subject of being homeless to that of a business advantage?  Perhaps I am just a bit paranoid of people doing things with unclear motivation?

Memo to Jerry Brown: Tell it like it is

This story just had me think about how I view our election process.  In a nutshell, it seems to be the lesser of two evils.  The story can be seen here - http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/la-me-0908-lopezcolumn-20100908,0,4195567,full.column

My comment.  I think that we should have extra boxes on the ballots ... "against". You would be allowed to check more than one. If all candidates had more against votes than for votes they would all be tossed.

At that point the Federal Government would step in. The secret service would drive down some street in middle income California and look for somebody unloading groceries or mowing their own lawn.  

They would have secret service take over the house of these folks for a term to keep the house in good shape. The family would be relocated to Sacramento. The head of household would be the one to take office. They would have a actual view of reality, what day to day problems are and have the same "experts" that are available now for better or worse. But, at least there would be some form of a real person closer to the real daily problems in office.

I followed Mark Horvath of http://www.invisiblepeople.tv/ and http://www.hardlynormal.com/ and looked at his slide show of great shots.  Mark has a great style of taking basic photos, unedited video and letting the subject speak for itself.  Many times he asks the simple question ... if you could have three wishes ....

The above slideshow is from Mark Horvath - http://www.invisiblepeople.tv/

From the series ... America Out of Work

From helping run a school to taking handouts

A 61-year-old former administrative assistant who lost her job in 2008 grapples with the inability to find a job while raising two granddaughters with the help of $485 a month from the state.

I found this interesting:

Foreclosures can make you sick, study of health effects finds

Victoria Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle

A comment from me - Initially I could not get past the title of this news piece .... Foreclosures can make you sick? DUH! You think so? A bit of stress there perhaps when people lose their home?

SAN FRANCISCO - As Dianne Huntsberry was losing her home last year, the result of a financing scam, she also wound up in the hospital -- twice -- for what seemed like heart problems.

"I thought I was having a heart attack -- I didn't know what was going on," said Huntsberry, 51, who said an unlicensed broker convinced her to put his name on the deed of her Oakland, Calif., home in exchange for a low rate, but then took the equity and signed the home over to a bank.

Huntsberry's heart palpitations turned out to be an anxiety attack, which she attributed to the foreclosure. She was put on medication for high blood pressure and stress. Today, nearly a year later, she still struggles with health issues: weight gain, canker sores, skin problems, acid reflux and insomnia.

A report released Wednesday found foreclosures have not only economic consequences, but create health problems for the people and families involved -- and those effects can ripple throughout a community.

In a survey of nearly 400 residents in two Oakland neighborhoods particularly hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, the Alameda County Public Health Department and Causa Justa/Just Cause, a housing rights group, teamed up to look at how people undergoing foreclosure experience higher levels of stress and increased medical problems. Tenants living in buildings in foreclosure have similar problems.

The research builds on work already conducted by Alameda County health officials showing that areas with the highest rates of foreclosures, such as the East and West Oakland neighborhoods surveyed in the report, already have life expectancies about 10 years less than other parts of Alameda County due to various social and economic factors, including high unemployment and crime rates.

The report "really highlights much of what we know about communities that are already overburdened by poor health outcomes," said Sandra Witt, deputy director of the Alameda County Public Health Department.

The survey found that residents who are going through foreclosure or recently lost their homes were more than twice as likely to say that their mental and physical health had worsened over the past two years than those not going through foreclosure. Those residents were also twice as likely to report stress, depression or anxiety over the past month.

Residents in the two Oakland neighborhoods reported increased crime levels, with vacant properties serving as magnets for illegal activity. Adding to the strain, foreclosures disrupted social connections as neighbors moved out, a problem that can be particularly difficult on children who may have to change schools.

"This kind of financial distress leads to intense levels of stress, which, in turn, makes it not at all surprising to find people who are suffering emotional and, in some cases, physical consequences," said Paul Leonard, director of the California office of the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer advocacy group.

Leonard said the report documents the kinds of impacts that health and housing experts hear about anecdotally. "This provides some really concrete evidence that foreclosures have many different kinds of negative impacts on borrowers and communities," he said.

Health problems are not limited to property owners, but extend to tenants who may not even know the property is in peril until they receive notice that their utilities will be shut off or when bank agents contact them.

About 37 percent of the foreclosed units in California were occupied by renters in 2009, which means that about 200,000 residents were displaced, according to a May report by Tenants Together, a statewide renters' rights organization based in San Francisco.

After she lost her home, Huntsberry, who works in security at a state health lab in Richmond, Calif., moved into an Oakland apartment that's about a fifth of the size of the home she owned for 13 years. She said she still wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and often turns to prayer.

"I've just been robbed of everything, and I have nothing to show for it," she said.

Last summer, representatives from Causa Justa/Just Cause interviewed 388 residents in East and West Oakland, two of the harder-hit neighborhoods, to investigate the impact of the foreclosures on health. Here are some of the findings:

-- Residents going through foreclosure or those who had recently lost their homes were twice as likely as others to say their mental and physical health had become worse over the past two years.

-- More than 3 in 10 foreclosed residents reported forgoing medical care due to money concerns.

-- 31 percent of tenants in foreclosed buildings said they were living with mold, rodents, cockroaches or other unhealthy conditions

I saw that California was in the big 3 ....  http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/a-tale-of-three-states/

But Los Angeles made #2 in another story when it came to most stressed out cities in the USA.  A nice PDF file with the results here:  http://www.portfolio.com/resources/Portfolio-2010-Metro-Area-Stress-Rank.pdf

Another piece from America Out of Work

For many unemployed workers, jobs aren't coming back

The U.S. unemployment rate will remain elevated for years, experts say, a grim prospect for Americans who have exhausted their benefits.  Full story:  http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-america-unemployment-mainbar-20100905,0,4701564,full.story
And it all started this week here:
Unemployment Extension 2010: Labor Day Celebrations Somber
The first Monday of September, known as Labor Day, used to be a day of celebration. For millions of unemployed Americans, there is no cause for celebration when they can hardly make ends meet.  The story in full at http://all247news.com/unemployment-extension-2010-labor-day-celebrations-somber/4745/
Ending this blog entry, things are not looking better from my point of view.  I see the number of people on the street increase.  I count them.  The numbers are getting higher.  The folks at Union Rescue Mission ( http://www.urm.org/ ) can probably confirm my findings.  They serve over 3,000 meals a day and are the oldest and largest of the Los Angeles missions.  I would bet they are serving more meals than this month last year and are providing more services than ever before. 
Using visual observations I wrote a bit about things last week: 
Here in Los Angeles I see the homeless problems grow every week. The homeless population of Los Angeles was somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 at the last count. I have no idea when that count was taken (some videos that mention this go back to 2005) but I watch the population density increase each month. May, June, July and August have been hard months. There are more folks on the street than ever before and no matter what the media reports about the economy, things are not getting better.
At night I "people count". I do this at the beginning of each month and the end of each month. I have a series of blocks mapped out and try to hit the same places on the same nights of a week during the same hours a few times a month.
Most of the street folks used to be sort of northwest of Union Rescue Mission, The Midnight Mission, LAMP and the Los Angeles Mission. The area of San Pedro Street toward Wall Street to Los Angeles Street between 3rd and 7th.
Numbers in the area noted above had increased but in June there was little activity southwest of San Pedro Street.
In July it the area southwest of San Pedro Street increased in population and in August it increased again about three times in those two months. My grandfather had a laundry business on Gladys where I worked as a teenager. I know my way around the area and have seen the changes.
This area of expansion of the homeless is southeast of San Pedro to Alameda between 8th and South Central Ave. This is the area that is up three times in population.
Towne Avenue between 5th and 7th is a war zone. Very high drug traffic, a lot of violence and girls that will do anything for a dollar. One hit off a crack pipe is $1.
Another way I look at things.  Using my system to judge the economy from factors that look at more than the market indicators:

If you don't get my chart here don't worry.  Bottom line is that things are not getting better regardless of what the media reports.

-the end for the moment-

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