For Peet’s Sake: Who’s Roasting Who?

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I have always been a coffee house aficionado. The cacophony of sounds emanating from caffeine-buzzed coffee drinkers and pulsating espresso machines appeals to my love for vibrant and hip locales.

Starbucks, which is largely credited with bringing specialty coffee to America, was my first orientation to this whole craze. As a young entrepreneur in Chicago back in 1993, I would indulge in an espresso at my favorite Wacker Drive location, amid a sea of boisterous traders from the Chicago Stock Exchange. Few of us at that time pondered the effect this coffee house trend would have on the culture of American society.

Many years later while on a business trip to San Francisco, my client recommended that I break rank with Starbucks and try a place called Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Amusingly, I thought my client was referring to some lowly guy named Pete who perhaps had a ramshackle vending cart on a downtown street corner nearby. Instead, I was excited to discover a Peet’s store which evoked a pleasant atmosphere and a strong coffee aroma (that can cling to your clothing if you hang around in there too long). Keep reading…

Earnings Stagnation: How Will People Cope?

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Since the Great Recession of 2008, the U.S. economy has struggled to regain full momentum. This is most evident when you examine the earnings of most middle-class Americans. And a recent report by the U.S. Department of Labor seems to suggest that this trend shows little sign of abating.

The findings of this employment cost index report suggest that paychecks of U.S. workers grew at a very tepid rate this summer, rising a paltry 0.6% during the July-September period, compared to the April-June period. Overall during the past 12-months, pay and benefits have risen only 2%; well below the 3.5% to 4% that most labor economists feel is indicative of a healthy economy.

What all of this signifies is that there’s still an ample supply of workers for businesses to hire at much lower pay rates; an indication that the job market has yet to return to full health. Over the past year, employers have added 2.2 million new jobs which has resulted in a decline in the unemployment rate from 5.9% to a seven-year low of 5.1%. Nevertheless, wage advancement remains sluggish.

There is also the issue of the 6.5 million (at last count) Americans working part-time who really wish to work full-time. That accounts for about 2 million more workers than prior to the recession. And it is important to keep in mind that the unemployment figures have been skewed even further because millions more Americans have ceased looking for work altogether, even though they would take a job if offered one.

Federal Reserve officials view wages and salaries as the key metric in assessing the economy’s true health, because a sustained uptick in wages would signify a leveling out of the unemployment rate. As unemployment drops, businesses are often forced to increase their pay in order to attract and retain talent.

Unfortunately, according to many economic analysts, there are no signs of this trend occurring in the foreseeable future.

Upping The Minimum Wage: Help or Hindrance?

There has been a ton of media chatter this year about efforts by several states to boost the minimum wage. And for good reason, since wages are a hot issue, particularly among those Americans working in service-related jobs.

Unfortunately, the collateral damage is starting to rear its ugly head in states that have recently boosted the legal minimum wage. Take Seattle for example, which has been a hotbed of talk on this issue. According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, which has been monitoring this development, the Emerald City began to experience declining numbers of restaurant employees around the first of the year, when the minimum wage increased to $9.47 per hour. This represents the highest minimum wage in the nation. The reported loss of 1,300 jobs between January and June is the largest drop off since the Great Recession of 2008. Moreover, 1,000 restaurant jobs were lost in May, following the minimum wage increase in April, the largest one-month job decline since a 1,300 drop during that recessionary period. This is in contrast to a national increase in restaurant jobs to the tune of 130,700, an overall 1.2% increase in employment in the Seattle area and a 3.2% restaurant employment increase in the State of Washington (excluding Seattle) – all during this recent period.

The bottom line is that small businesses like mom-and-pop restaurants and coffee houses lack the greater profit margins needed to withstand the expenses associated with a minimum wage increase. So they resort to cutting staff and reducing hours, paying fewer workers more money. Even well-funded enterprises like McDonald’s are reportedly pondering labor-saving methods like self-checkout kiosks, robots on the food production line and robots to manage expenses, all of which would lead to an overall reduction in staff numbers.Keep reading…

HP Divided In Hopes To Conquer

HP-LogoThe Great Depression scorched the 1930s like a wildfire, showing no bias and engulfing millions in the crippling flames of economic crisis. In 1939, as the Depression came to an end, a technology ingenue arose from the smog.On New Year’s Day in 1939, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded Hewlett Packard inside a backyard garage. Now, after 76 years and periodic highs and lows, HP ceases to exist as the entity originally forged in Packard’s garage.

A company whose standard Read More…

5th of November Photo Caption Contest

One of the best films – with a message – is celebrating its day of inspiration this week, and Anthem Vault plans to make it an exciting week for our customers. The 5th of November is celebrated as ‘Guy Fawkes Day’, mostly in Great Britain. Citizens celebrate the failed attempt of taking down King James I. This same story was interpreted into the blockbuster hit “V for Vendetta”, which sent shockwaves through Hollywood. It became an allegory against oppression, and many political groups have since referenced the film. This controversial film, that was first a book, tells the story of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, attempted by Guy Fawkes as well as 10 or more other plotters.

One of the original authors of V for Vendetta describes the film’s significance in society today:

“The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny – and I’m happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way.”

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We are celebrating the 5th of November all week and giving away a 2 ozt Warbird, .999 silver round. All you have to do is join our Facebook page’s caption contest.

The person who contributes a caption and receives the most likes will win. We will also have a winner picked by the judges here at Anthem Vault. Visit the page and submit your caption! The winner will be announced on Thursday at 4pm MST.

Global Internet Access – The Race Is On

48405289  ‘Global internet access’ has become a paramount goal of     humanitarian effort. Companies like FaceBook, Microsoft and Google are chomping at the bit to provide broad internet access in the most remote corners of the earth. Google’s latest initiative, Project Loon, sends balloons into the stratosphere to boost 4G signal to countries like New Zealand and, most recently, Indonesia. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg finds himself particularly concerned with connecting India to the internet, and ultimately of course to FaceBook. India has a population just north of 1.2 billion with less than 20% having internet access. A market of this size stimulates internet developers to pioneer the cause. However, FaceBook and Google may be late to the party, as far as India is concerned.

An Indian company based in Bangalore may have the necessary technology to provide access to most, if not all 1.2 billion people in the country. Saankhya Labs has developed Meghdoot, a transmitter that utilizes TV white space to provide and boost internet signals. At the core of the transmitter lies a microchip no bigger than a postage stamp. The Pruthvi chip powers the transmitter and allows it to convert the unused TV bandwidth into amplified internet signal. Read More…

My Winning Presidential – Double – Ticket (Except They’re Both Dead)

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Like many Americans, I’ve been immersed in the 2016 Presidential debates. Truthfully, I’m not the least bit impressed. They seem like nothing more than a series of clown shows. I’d rather curl up with a cup of fair-trade coffee and read Nietzsche. So last night, I decided to create my own Presidential ticket. I’m calling it Election Fantasy Football.

Back in the eighties when I was attending a Catholic Jesuit high school in my native Columbus, Ohio, one of the requirements for graduation was to recite all of the U.S. Presidents in order with their terms in office. My recall is good, so I jogged my memory in search of the one president most closely aligned with my libertarian bent.  

Drum roll please. My choice……………

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th U.S. President

And for his running mate, I chose Jack Kemp, former New York Congressman and Housing Secretary under George H.W. Bush.

Below, I’ll make the argument as to why Americans should support a Coolidge/Kemp Presidential ticket. But before you read this, I want to remind you not to get too far upstream with your excitement because they’re both dead.

The Case for Coolidge

I know, I know term limits – as well as Coolidge’s death – would prohibit this fantasy from occurring. But work with me here. As the 30th U.S. President, he was a modest and humble man (unlike Trump), and he is arguably the last true laissez-faire, libertarian-oriented political leader to see the Oval Office. Read More…