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Decline of the Middle Class

February 11th, 2014 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

Decline of the Middle ClassMany articles have been written about the decline of the middle class in America. In our post we are assuming that the middle class is already well on the way to decline which really means that the middle class will shrink leaving fewer people with sufficient money to achieve the American dream. The 1% group continue to get rich, while more and more people have trouble just making enough to pay for food, clothing and lodging. These are the basics for many people without even considering simple extras like owning your own home, saving for retirement or paying for health care. Why is this occurring?

Many factory jobs have left the country for other countries as well as many jobs have been automated. The jobs that are left are either very few high skilled jobs or many jobs that are not paid well and are low skill jobs. The Walmarts, the fast food stores and the retail industry in general are examples of low paid, low skilled and no benefits types of jobs. Consumers with these types of jobs can barely survive let alone even think about saving for retirement.

It has often be said that money breeds money. It is certainly true for the rich, who have invested in the stock market and seen their share values escalate by huge amounts over the last 5 years. Sure they may have lost some money during the recession, however they only lost this money if they cashed in these investments at that time. If they held onto these investments, they not only recovered their loss, they are well ahead of these potential losses. They are even more rich than they were before, but the poor middle class guy has fallen further behind due to his lack of investments in the stock market.

Decline of the Middle Class

The gap has certainly widened between the upper class and the poor with the middle class getting further  squeezed. As time goes on and these people approach retirement, they will find that they are having to work well into retirement years with no thought or ability to even think about retirement.

Over the next 20 years we anticipate that this decline of the middle class will become even more pronounced and will lead to more crime, to more poverty, to situations where families must look after each other since there will be no one else to look after them. This will create a lot of hardship, even more than what we have today. Unfortunately this is the environment that we have to look forward to over the next 20 or 30 years.

There will be more gated communities, there will me more crime, there will be more people begging and so on compared to what we have today. This is not a great scenario, unless we can get America back to work and lower the cost of living.

What are your thoughts?

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Drones delivering parcels for Amazon

December 17th, 2013 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

Drones delivering parcels for AmazonA few years ago we might have thought a story about drones delivering parcels  for Amazon would be pure science fiction! It turns out though that Amazon believes that by 2015 it will be doing just that. They will be delivering parcels within a 50 mile range of their major distribution centers. There’s a lot of development work to take place between now and then. But this is the stuff of pure science fiction becoming reality.

We read the story about Amazon intending to use drones to deliver parcels in December 2013, so it is only two years away. We anticipate that the initial wave in 2015 will be just the beginning. There will be many drones delivering as well as monitoring our services and our lives in the future.

Drones delivering parcels for Amazon

Can you imagine ordering a diamond ring through Amazon in the morning and a few hours later the package is dropped on your front doorstep by a buzzing drone with eight rotating blades! This is the current plan of Amazon to be able to arrange for same-day delivery of small packages and parcels to their customers.

The drone may be controlled by an operator back at the plant or even at a central control agency. It will be equipped with video cameras as well as microphones and speakers to communicate and ensure that the packages are delivered to the correct person at the address it is to be delivered to. We may even have to provide a thumbprint to ensure that we are the right person that the package should be delivered today.

There are lots of processes to be worked out and there are rules and regulations to be developed to ensure that the public is safe from buzzing drones over our heads as well as the lighting or avoiding collusion with low-flying aircraft. A lot of work will need to be done over the next few years to develop this into a full-blown service delivery opportunity.

We can’t wait for FedEx and UPS to also become interested in this type of service delivery. More to come.

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Canada Post pensions at risk?

December 16th, 2013 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

Canada Post pensions at riskOur last post about Canada post summarize the changes that they are planning to make. Canada Post pensions at risk in an effort to reduce their debt load and to reduce their operating loss. In summary they will be reducing 8008 positions and increasing the cost of the postage stamp to one dollar. They also plan on introducing community mailboxes in urban areas which previously had door-to-door service. All of this is aimed at a eliminating the operations loss or at the minimum reducing it significantly so that there is less burden on taxpayers.

This post is questioning the pension commitment by Canada Post to its pensioners. Whether they will be able to fund the Canada Post pension into the future? Will pensioners from Canada Post have to take a haircut in order to keep the pension system solvent?

Canada Post pensions at Risk – Precedents

While there is no precedent for post office system reducing their pensions to their pensioners at this time, there is a precedent for city and state governments in the United States having taken this action to reduce the pension payouts to their pensioners. This specifically has occurred in states or cities that have had to declare bankruptcy.

While it will be many years before Canada post reaches this position and it will be a question of the Canadian government deciding not to prop up the Canada Post pension system there will be a lot of discussion in the next 5 to 10 years about Canada post pensions how much they are and whether they should be sustained.

If you are a pensioner with Canada post and expect to collect your pension over the next 5 to 10 years we suggest that you plan for a decrease in your pension and funding to ensure the quality of life that you would prefer to have during your retirement years. If it does not happen then it’s a bonus and you’re way ahead of the game. If it does happen you’re prepared!

While many people might feel that this will never happen, it is better to be prepared and planning for such a pension calamity versus not to be ready for such a disruptive pension issue.

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Canada Post reduces service

December 13th, 2013 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

The Canadian post office system has just announced a program that will take place over five years to reduce the service to Canadians. Many people are upset and worried that they will not receive the service that they have been used to. This announcement took place in 2013. A new liberal government has just been elected and now they have put the Canada Post reduces service program on hold until the new government has a chance to weigh in on this issue. Too bad, they will go on to lose millions at taxpayers expense.

The fact of the matter is the post office is losing billions of dollars and if we don’t do something soon this will just cost the taxpayer great deal of money which we cannot afford.

Over 8000 people will lose their jobs, the price of stamps will go up to one dollar, and local door-to-door service will replaced by community mailboxes. There are other steps that they are taking however these are the main ones that will reduce the cost to the post office over the future.

Canada Post reduces service!

Why are they taking these specific steps? Consumers simply are not using the post office in the same manner that they have been over the past hundred and 50 years. The majority of mail is being sent by email, electronic bill statements are common and people are cutting their costs by simply not sending out birthday cards, Christmas cards and other mail that they can just as easily send by electronic means.

In addition operations costs have increased at the post office with the higher wages, significant pension payments and many people retiring from the post office. The amount of money that they owe to the pension system is staggering.

Canada post is not alone! The US postal system has been losing billions of dollars for years and Congress is struggling with eliminating Saturday delivery service. The English UK post office has been receiving money from the government for years to keep them afloat. All of them are struggling to retain the same level of service that they’ve been delivering for years when their communities the customers no longer require the service.

Our next post is going to post some questions about the Canada Post pension system and whether it is sustainable or not. Will Canada post pensioners have to take a haircut?

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A Bracelet that Cools or Heats your Body

November 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

Bracelet that Cools or Heats your BodyA team at MIT has come up with a new device that could revolutionize the clothing industry and also heating in buildings and even outdoors. The new product called Wristify is an invention by MIT students. It is a bracelet that cools or heats your body.

The device is powered by a lithium battery. It is attached to the wrist of the person. By heating it by .1° the entire body can be warmed up and kept at a more pleasant temperature. This device would be ideal for conditions out of doors, in buildings where you want to lower the temperature and save energy, and for people who are suffering from cold temperatures even when other people are quite comfortable.This device could revolutionize the clothing industry.

Bracelet that Cools or Heats your Body – Clothing

There already exists clothing that you can wear to keep you warm. It could be used by people riding on motorcycles for example in the wintertime. Just plug the cable attached to your jacket into your motorcycle connection. It keeps you warm while you’re riding your motorcycle.

The device we’re talking about is quite different. It rests against the skin. It keeps your body warm by raising the temperature of your blood as it circulates through your system.

Right now it’s still in the prototype stage. We are looking forward to hearing more from the MIT team that developed this unique device.

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Virtual Presence Through Robots

June 11th, 2013 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

Virtual Presence Through RobotsCan you imagine sending a robot to your work place to represent you at work! This is called, Virtual Presence Through Robots. The robot could even have the same facial image as you! He or she or i guess it would look like you and be your eyes and ears at the office. Employees would be connected to their virtual robot and be able to see and hear everything while at home or on the other side of the world.

This is something out of the future. Robots have ready replaced people on assembly lines, but could they replace people at work in an office? Could one human manage several robots doing routine tasks interacting with other humans and only intervening when needed?

Virtual Presence Through Robots – Other Scenarios

This and many other scenarios are being considered and thought about now. There are trials taking place and we may see over the next 20 years many more developments such as this one.

This is the stuff of science fiction but more and more ideas will be forthcoming in the near future. We talked about robots providing health care and companionship in a previous post. What if these robots were managed by some central agency with one human managing several robots remotely?

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Helper Robots are Part of Our Future

May 25th, 2013 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

helper robots are part of our futureWe have all heard of robots in the factory building cars and other electronic parts, but now they are beginning to make the way into our private lives. We like many people are wondering what form they will take and how will they change our lives. Will they help us or will they take some of our freedoms away from us? How intelligent will they be and how will we treat them? We read an article recently that discussed some of these concepts and this is what peaked our interest in this subject. Helper robots are part of our future. We decided to write a post about this subject giving our own opinion and wondering what other people think of these ideas. Let us know if you have thoughts and comments either way.

Helper Robots are Part of Our Future

There are robots that are under development that is designed as a helper around the home. His name is Herb, and he is being designed to fetch things around the home such as cups and even clean up the kitchen. Another robot, Hector, is designed to remind patients to take their medicine and help them keep track of things like eyeglasses and even assist in the event the person they are looking after falls.  Finally there is a robot named Cody, who can help you bather and is gentle enough to help elderly patients.

While the technology is pretty close for production, do we really want these robots looking after us? Some people will be talking to their robots and treating them as if they are a human being. Will they in turn carry on a conversation with us and will we begin to think that they care about us. Will they provide emotional comfort in the same manner that a pet will be a friend to many elderly patients?

These are all questions that are being asked and will only be answered once robots are introduced into homes around the country. Many people will adopt them to make their lives easier and many will steadfastly refuse to use them. Only time will tell how well they work, how well they are adopted and how many uses we can use them for in our homes.

The more human we can make them look, in terms of form factor and even dressing them with clothes will probably enhance their use and make us more comfortable with having them around. We are looking forward to hearing more about the use of robots in our homes.

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Person of Interest is Here

May 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

Person of InterestWe watched a show last night about Person of Interest. Not the show or series that is actually  called by that name, but another one called 20:20 last night. It is a news show that does video narratives about a variety of topics. Last night they covered an interesting topic that looked at the subject of combining video surveillance with computing technology to automatically identify people for various reasons.

If you are not already aware, you are probably on camera many times a day particularly if you go into down town areas or you enter a store etc. All government offices and entertainment locations have surveillance with video and it is all recorded for future reference in case it is needed. We have known this for several years now and it is increasing as more and more people add video surveillance capabilities. Some people even have this technology in their cars and can match the police with video capabilities.

Person of Interest – Facial Recognition

Now the government and corporations are using this technology combined with facial recognition software to recognize and track people. Governments are working in computing capabilities that will recognize a person from a video taken of them from some location, identify them and then alert who ever needs to be informed. This is useful in finding people who are avoiding police or who have escaped or who have committed a crime.

Companies are developing their own software to do something a little more capitalistic in nature. If you walk up to a store and are on video, the store wants to be able to confirm your sex, your age and even your preference in clothes for example. They will use this information to display advertising on monitors near were you are passing with the hopes that they will catch your attention. If you are a person who is middle aged, a male and dressed conservatively, they may display appropriate advertising for what they think you may be interested in.

Who knows where all of this will go. It certainly is interesting and we will be watching just were this new technology takes us.

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Europe vs. Asia vs. The West – who is winning?

February 21st, 2012 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

Europe vs. Asia vs. The WestEurope vs. Asia vs. The West? Some people might think that this is off the wall. However, please read this post and provide your opinion. If you divided the world into three competing super power areas, Who do you think they would be and who do you think would be the most powerful? Would it be the United States or China or an amalgamation of the countries of Europe? Perhaps India and the African countries? Who will win the economic War?

Hopefully there will not be a real world war, because then we all lose. Mankind would be sent back to the dark ages, so we will ignore this scenario in this post.

Grouping of Countries

If you lumped North and South America together and called them the “West”. If you lumped all of the European countries together and called them “Europe”. This includes Russia and the countries that made up the USSR along with some of the Muslim countries. And then you have Asia which encompasses China of course, the Koreas and even Pakistan.  Africa and India and the middle East are a collection of countries that might go one way or the other or even form a fourth group. Australia would probably try to adhere to the West initially, but not last long. It would succumb to one of the others economically.

Europe vs. Asia vs. The West – Economic Alliances

I am not talking about war in this post, nor am I talking about domination of one group over an other. What I believe is gradually happening, and it might take 100 years, is that these groups of countries will form into economic alliances. They will come  with supporting war machines that will dominate their part of the world. They will compete with the rest of the world. Right now we are all aiming for open international trade, open skies and all of that stuff, but I believe that is only temporary.
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The ABC’s of World Politics

February 7th, 2012 ernie Posted in Future Trends No Comments »

I recently saw a post about the world in chaos and I just had to express my opinion about this concept. It seems that the author feels that the world, every continent and major countries are in chaos at the moment. Hence the post – The ABC’s of World Politics. It can be represented by four letters – A,B,C and D!

  • A is for anger
  • B is for borrowing
  • C is for competitiveness
  • D is for deadlock

And I think that this guy who wrote the original post had some real insights here that are worth thinking about. Knowing this information will not solve the problem, but they will help you to understand the big picture of what is going on in the world.  I would add:

  • E is for eager
  • F is for frustration

Let’s talk about each one and explain what they mean to the original writer and to me another writer who puts his own spin on this topic.
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