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Have you noticed? September 2, 2011

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, Economics, Restaurants, Small Business.
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A rush of new kabob restaurants has popped up all over the Northern Virginia in recent months.

As economy turned sour, more people took control of their own situation, either out of necessity (laid off from their jobs) or frustration, and open a business on their own or with their friends.

It is not limited in the kabob business at all: pizza stores, sandwich stores, Indian restaurants, wraps of all kinds and Latino restaurants too.

This put pressure on existing restaurants especially the Chinese restaurants because the Chinese restaurants are all operating under minimal margin for a long time.

With declining economy and persistent unemployment rates, I am afraid that a shake down may be coming before we know it.

I wish I will be proving wrong.

Pado Seafood Restaurant, Seoul Plaza, Annandale, VA July 21, 2011

Posted by hslu in Economics, Food, Health, Restaurants, Small Business.
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Seoul Plaza used to be a vibrant strip shopping center filled with boutique stores and authentic Korean restaurants. We have been here a few times and had enjoyed our experience here which is hidden from the Korean Strip – Little River Turnpike.

Time has changed and the economy has apparently been very brutal for this place. The first sign that something is wrong is an ad by Pado (waves) Seafood Restaurant on local Chinese newspaper: $4.99 for all-you-can-eat vegetarian lunch buffet. The ad boasts a healthy meal with an unbeatable price.

Bao and I decided to check Pado out and sure enough, all you can get is vegetables, the kind of side dishes (banchan) we usually get when eating at any Korean restaurants.

The selections include spring mix salad, brown rice, mung bean sprouts, soy bean sprouts, cucumbers, radish, kimchi, seasoned spinach, stir-fried Korean  (Chapchae) noodles, sliced squash, and 荷包蛋 “he2 bao1 dan4” pan fried eggs. There is also some kind of stir fried ground pork mixed with vegetables you can sprinkle on top of your selections. For seasoning, two kinds of sauces are provided: fermented soy bean sauce and a very popular Korean hot pepper sauce called Gochujang .

The restaurant apparently caters mostly to Korean customers because there was only Korean signs on the wall.

The restaurant provides us with big aluminum bowls about 9″ in diameter and 3″ deep. The bowl is kind like the dog bowls you can buy for puppies but heck who was watching?

The restaurant was filled with Korean customers and there was a steady stream of more customers coming in while we were there.

Well, all I could eat was no more than 1/2 full of the big dog bowl of vegetables and rice for $4.99. It was okay if you like vegetarian banchans.

After we left Pado, we saw two restaurants just open their doors in recent weeks: Today’s Seafood House with $5.99 seafood lunch deal and Wara Wara Karaoke and Pub Restaurant at the end of the building with selections ranged from $5.99 to $6.99 specials. Apparently the previous owners decided to close doors and the new owner had to come out with cheap eats to fend off the $4.99 healthy eats by Pado.

It was apparent that Seoul Plaza is in trouble because there are three empty store fronts: a cafe, a computer shop and a boutique shop, all has been closed for a while.

Time is tough, economy is lousy and it really shows here.

 

The Third Depression July 7, 2010

Posted by hslu in Economics, Global Affair, Health Insurance, Obama, Politics, Small Business, Taxes.
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The Third Depression

Paul Krugman on June 27, 2010 in a New York Times Op-Ed page argued that we are in the early stage of a long lasting third depression.

He argues for more spending in time of economic slowdown and warned that austerity programs such as those adopted by Greece, Ireland, England and Germany and now considered in the U.S. Congress will lead to a Japan-style deflationary traps in the US and Europe. And tens of millions of unemployed workers will pay the price and remain unemployed for years.

In a word, he wanted to spend our way out of his look-more-like-the-Long-Depression depression. To be more precise, he wanted the government, not private sector, to spend our way out of what he called the third depression.

He didn’t say anything about incentives to the private business. He didn’t point out the enormous burden the U.S. government has added to the private sector in the form of a national health insurance program. He didn’t mention the TARP money benefited the financial firms on the Wall Street. He didn’t question the failed policy of withholding more than half of the $787 billion stimulus program money until 2011 and beyond. He conveniently avoided citing the example of Japan’s long depression during which the Japanese government initiated spending program after spending program since the early 1990’s but still failed to pop up its sagging economy. As a result, Japan is saddled with a national debt that’s more than 200+% of its GDP which Japanese has no hope of ever paying it off.

Instead, Krugman relied on the experience of Great Depression and urged Obama and Democrats to spend our tax money in inefficient, government-sponsored programs.

He wanted to dig a deeper hole first. It is the same liberal rhetoric all over again.

What this country needs right now are more company-friendly policies such as the repeal of Obama’s national health insurance law which will give the private sector more incentive to expand their businesses. The way it stands now, the private corporations will not hire any people because they still don’t know how this national health program will impact their bottom line. With that dark cloud over their heads, they will wait and hire nobody.

Krugman’s third depression will definitely come to reality if United States continues the liberal and Democrat’s tax and spend policy.

Celebrate Fairfax June 16, 2010

Posted by hslu in Obama, Politics, Small Business.
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We usually took some time out in the Summer to go to various events just for the fun of it. One of the festivals we went to in the past was Celebrate Fairfax held last weekend at Fairfax Government Center.

Well, the high unemployment rate and a slow economy made us think twice about going this year. Once I found out the admission fee has gone up to $12 each, I decided not to go. I think last year’s admission fee was less than $10.

I don’t know about you, maybe you still spend money like there is no tomorrow, we have cut back from last year’s spending. I think the growth of the US economy will be suppressed and the high unemployment rate will continue for 12 months or longer.

I haven’t forgotten Obama will take more money out of our pockets next year to pay for Obama care. Well, in time like this, more tax will delay the onset of economic recovery but I guess that’s not Obama’s concern. He’ll just give out more free money to his supporters in order to secure his re-election in 2012.

唉!Can we impeach Obama for doing such a lousy job on the economy and leading the United States on a self-destruct path?

The Decline of the United States Continues February 21, 2010

Posted by hslu in China, Economics, Energy, Global Affair, jobs, Politics, Small Business.
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The Decline of the United States Continues

Take a look of the graph of the annual rate of employment growth over the previous ten years and you’ll see the decline of the U.S. has accelerated in the past decade.

Source: NYT and US B of Labor Statistics.

During the early stage of the economic expansion after WWII, the U.S. enjoyed an unprecedented 4% annual job growth rate. After a dip into 1% or less in the 1960’s, it remained more or less at 2% for the next 5 decades until the end of last millennium.

The collapse of the dot com economy at the turn of the century began the slow deterioration of the U.S. employment picture. After the housing prices peaked in July 2005, the U.S. labor force took another beating with the burst of the housing bubble. The greedy Wall Street bankers and willing participants in U. S. Congress such as Democrat’s Barney Frank and Chris Dodd kicked off the deep recession and the latest financial crisis. The end result was that the U.S. economy failed to generate any job from July 1999 to July 2009, except a paltry 0.01%.

So what was the root cause behind the near contraction of the U.S. job market of the last decade? Was it the dot com bubble? Was it the Housing bubble? Or was it the financial crisis?

No. It was capitalism.

Capitalism is contagious and can be duplicated all over the world. All you need is amiable government policies, cheap labor, capital, natural resources and the desire to make a profit.

Japan did it in the 1980’s. But as Japan’s expansion started to threaten the U.S. economy, the United States killed its growth with the Plaza Accord. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Singapore joined the game but their combined economy wasn’t big enough to threaten the U.S.

Until China joined the club about 25 years ago!

China opened its door in the mid-1980, trillions of capital found its way into China and capitalism flourished. Its double digit growth rate in the last decade took the world by storm and exposed America’s structural deficiency due to the weakness of capitalism. The United States has pressured China to change but China’s economy of scale and closed currency policy left the U.S. little options to reverse the course. As a result, Americans are victim of the very thing that has put U.S at the top of the world.

The purpose of capitalism is to make a profit. The unstoppable thirst to squeeze out every drop of profit from its operation caused the company to search for new ways to improve its efficiency because, without it, the company can not compete. In order to survival,

  • Companies in the United States used automation to replace blue collar workers by the millions.
  • Union members were fired because their wages and benefits could not be sustained.
  • Service jobs were transferred to foreign countries because of difference in wages.
  • Automated cash registers took jobs away from people with the lowest skill levels.
  • Many Internet and software related jobs have been out-sourced because capitalism demands lower labor costs whenever possible.
  • Oil companies slowly moved their operations to other countries because of depleting resources, tough environmental laws and demanding regulations. Besides, the executives of the American oil companies are tired of spearing in front of the unfriendly members of the Congress to explain their operations and profits to these idiots whenever oil prices are pushed up by supply and demand.
  • Tough government regulations and policies on labor forces and environment gradually pushed companies to foreign countries in search of accommodating policies.
  • High corporate taxes gave little incentives for companies to move their operations into the United States.
  • Many companies moved their plants to developing countries because workers there are willing to work for much less, they don’t take sick leaves, they are easy to manage, the land is cheap and their policies are purposely made more accommodating to foreign capitals.

In fact, capitalism is aimed to generate as much profit with as few workers as possible. The American companies have to reduce their domestic work forces in order to compete with companies in other countries who have embraced capitalism with utmost enthusiasm.

The job growth rate in the last decade may be even lower if not for the following reasons:

  • The public sector, i.e., the governments, became bigger at every level: federal, state and city. However, these jobs are not productive.
  • The health care industry has been growing because of the aging of the population and obesity.
  • Lawyers, accountants, managers and consultants have grown because companies need them to operate in a more complex world.
  • People in the field of education have grown because parents demanded smaller classes.
  • Building industry expanded due to housing expansion in the first half of the decade and government spending.
  • More workers in the restaurant business because working parents don’t have time cooking at home.

Going forward, the exodus of the manufacturing sector will continue. Job losses in these industries will not stop. U.S. auto companies will face even more competition from Korea, India and China. Boeing’s market share and profit will be reduced with the introduction of China’s commercial air planes in a few years. U.S arm sales to foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia and UAE, the largest of the world, will be competing with the cheaper and equally deadly weapons from China. The leadership position in drug and medical instruments will disappear if the Democrat-controlled government has its way to socialize the industry.

In the end, the United States will become a service-oriented country and that’s the beginning of the end of the dominance of the United States on the world stage.

In the mean time, the Democrats under Obama, Pelosi and Reid are tirelessly moving the U.S. to a socialism country further reduce America’s competitiveness. They have to go if the U.S. has any chance to reverse the decline of the labor force. Government’s stimulus can not sustain economic growth in the long run. It is the private sectors which have generated the much-needed jobs. They have to embrace capitalism with the assistance of government to recapture market shares from foreign competitions. Without this, American jobs will continue to disappear. The employment growth curve in the graph above will continue to decline despite the pending recovery of the U.S. economy.

Another decade from now the growth curve may sink below the 0% line and by that time, the structural deficiency of U.S. industries and demographic make up of American population will make the reversal almost impossible to achieve.

America will slowly follow the foot steps of Spain, France and British and yield its leadership position to other countries such as China, India and then a country in Middle East such as Iran in 60 to 80 years or so.

$100 million down the drian February 8, 2010

Posted by hslu in Health Insurance, Politics, Small Business.
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That’s how much closing the federal government on Monday in the DC area will cost you and I, dccording to an Washington Post article.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/federal-eye/2010/02/federal_government_closed_on_m_1.html?wpisrc=nl_localalert

Hmm, let’s see how efficient the federal government is compared to my operation:

CK                          Federal

Friday          till 8 PM                 Closed at 12 PM

Saturday     Closed                   Closed

Sunday        Open                      Closed

Monday      Open                      Closed

On Sunday, we opened at regular hours. I had 7 guys and gals working. Once drove from Maryland. One came for Manassas. Two came from Sterling. One from Arlington. Two walked to work from Falls Church.

How come the federal government employees get a day off on taxpayers’ expense?

Would you like it to run your health insurance program?

Small Business Owners – Why don’t you hire more people? November 13, 2009

Posted by hslu in Economics, Health Insurance, jobs, Restaurants, Small Business.
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Small Business Owners – Why don’t you hire more people?

Let’s see a show of hands please!

Yes, you!I am talking to you!

Stopping hiding behind the Closed sign on the front door of your business.

Yes, I am talking to you, the small business owners all over the U.S..

Why don;t you hire more people to work for you in 2010?

No?

How come? You’ve been the engine of U.S. economy for as long as I can remember.

What? You are not hiring?

You will go with what you have, let the federal government do the hiring and kick start the economy.

I see. Why? Don’t you want to make more money with more employees?

Are you concern that they will goof off on the jobs?

Oh! I see.You don’t think you’ll be making more money with more employees.

Because of what?

Oh! you will be asked to pay for their health insurance benefits.

Hmm.That’s too bad. I am sorry that you feel that way.

What? Plus paper work!

Plus dealing with federal government on insurance claims!

Is that it? You can work over time to do paper work at home. No big deal. Are there any other concerns?

What? I don;t understand. Can’t you pass the cost on to your customers?

Oh! They are not buying the way it is now.

I see. What? They will buy even less if you increase the price of your products.

Hmm. That’s a big problems. Isn’t it?

Don’t tell me that you will let some people go!

Oh! I see. You’ll hire the illegals instead.

I guess you don’t have to pay for their health insurance. Yeah! let the emergency room deal with these people.

Hmm. What about the US economy? The high unemployment rates?

I am deeply disappointed in you.

What? You don’t care?

Well, I guess you are right: it is not your problem.

Well, BHO will answer our calls and comes to the rescue.

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