Captain Rick: Callistemon species are commonly referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers resembling a traditional bottle brush. They are evergreen desert shrubs that flower in the spring and summer. Bottlebrush bushes take full sun and are somewhat drought-tolerant. The blooms are brilliant red.

A beautiful bottle brush captured in full bloom at my Oasis in Gilbert, Arizona …   

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Captain Rick: Obamacare will likely become one of the biggest socialistic welfare programs in U.S. history. It will help to financially destroy America. For now, lets have some laughs, compliments of some great cartoonists.

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Thanks Ken of California for contributing these cartoons.

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Captain Rick: I captured this rare glimpse of Crater Lake and Sentinel Rock thru the firs at Phantom Ship Overlook, on the lake’s southeast edge.

At 1,943 ft. deep, Crater Lake is one of the deepest and bluest lakes in the world. It’s 5 miles wide and ringed by cliffs 2,000 feet high, creating amazing, majestic views. The lake was formed by the shattered remnants of a volcano called Mount Mazama, the largest in North America, which erupted and collapsed into itself 7,700 years ago. Crater Lake is one of purest and most pristine lakes in the world. Crater Lake became a national park in 1902. It is one of the most incredible places of beauty I have ever experienced.

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Captain Rick: U.S. Job Growth is not keeping up with population growth. The 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession will never return. Despite the ‘glory employment talk’ presented by the Obama Administration, America’s job situation qualifies among the worst since the Great Depression. I present the simple math to expose a monumental economic problem developing that will help deliver America to the edge of the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’.

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BLUE LINE: 185,000 jobs need to be created each year to keep up with U.S. Population growth of 0.7%

RED LINE: 177,000 jobs represents the average number of jobs created during the past year. This demonstrates a negative pattern that is not keeping up with population growth.

Great Recession Job Losses are Gone Forever

8.7 million jobs were lost during the Great Recession of the late 2000s. It has been stated that 8 million of those have been restored. Simple math proves this to be incorrect. In actuality, none of those jobs have been restored when considering the jobs needed to be added each year to keep pace with population growth. America is running a significant job deficit.

Captain Rick’s Job Numbers Math

317,725,000 U.S Population

0.7% growth rate (*.007)

2,224,075 people enter job market every year

/12

185,340 people enter job market every month

*12 months *5 years

11,120,375 jobs needed to be added in past 5 years since prior to great recession to keep up with population growth

-8.7 Million jobs lost

+8 Million jobs regained

.7 Million jobs still needed to be recovered

+11.1 Million jobs needed to be added to keep up with population growth

11.8 Million jobs short since prior to the Great recession 5 years ago.

At the current pace of job growth, which is not keeping up with population growth, the jobs lost during the ‘Great Recession’ will never be regained.

Where the new jobs were created

The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs last month

Construction added 15,000 jobs, restaurants and bars added 20,100 jobs and education and health services added 33,000 jobs.

By far, the strongest hiring came from professional and business services industries, which include accountants, architects and technology workers. This sector alone added 79,000 jobs last month.

Wages are up: Average earnings ticked up 9 cents, to $24.31 an hour in February. It was the largest monthly wage gain in more than two years.

Long-term unemployment and underemployment remain high

Long-term unemployment remains high. As of February, 3.8 million Americans were unemployed for six months or more.

The underemployment rate — technically known as the U-6 — was 12.6%. That includes the unemployed, plus part-time workers who want to work full time, and people who want a job but haven’t searched for one in the last four weeks.

Labor Participation is lowest since 1978

Labor participation lowest since 1978; just over 63% of the population is engaged in the workforce, driven partly by Baby Boomers retiring, but also by workers who had simply given up hope after long and fruitless job searches. It means that a smaller chunk of the population is paying for promised entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. If a smaller share of the country is working, it will also act as a drag on economic growth.

What does this Employment data mean concerning the future of America?

America is stuck in a land of anemic growth…actually declining in real growth because its economy can not consistently produce enough jobs to keep pace with America’s 0.7% population growth. In reality, this means that America is declining in economic strength. In the coming few years America faces an astronomical increase in expenditures due to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and welfare programs like Medicaid and Obamacare. America’s relatively level revenue will not be able to cover the mushrooming expenditures. Congress will not be able to address this problem by simply ‘kicking the debt can down the road’ as it has in recent years. At some point soon, the fiscal mess that is brewing will explode as America plunges over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’.  At the bottom lies America as a third world country.

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GDP

U.S. Debt Crisis

Economy

Entitlement Reform

Social Security

Medicare

Medicaid

ObamaCare

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Captain Rick: This Great Blue Heron cools itself in the shade of a pine tree by the pond at the Civic Center in Gilbert, Arizona. Don’t be fooled…it is not looking to the right…its right eye is focused directly on me as I inched ever so close to this beautiful bird that stands over a meter tall. When I came one inch too close, this giant bird would fly with a wing span of about 2 meters. It is one of the most magnificent birds to enjoy along the canals, lakes and ponds in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun.

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Captain Rick: Final U.S. GDP for Q4 2013 was a disappointing 2.4%, downgraded from the earlier estimate of 3.2%. Early estimates are notoriously optimistic. This GDP figure sounds a wake-up alarm that America is stuck in the GDP ‘Anemic Zone’ … a place between zero real growth and ‘Recession’. 

GDP (Gross National Product) is the broadest means of quantifying the health of an economy. GDP is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders.

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BLUE LINE: 3.0% GDP Growth is required to keep up with U.S. Population Growth. GDP above the blue line represents real growth that adds real jobs. GDP below the blue line indicates real economic decline that is loosing real jobs. GDP below the blue line, but above zero line (‘Recession’), is what Captain Rick calls the ‘Anemic Zone’.

RED LINE: 2.24% GDP Growth is the average of what the U.S. economy scored in the past 8 quarters (2 years). This demonstrates that the U.S. economy is stuck in the economic ‘Anemic Zone’…not mustering enough growth to keep up with population growth. 

What caused the recent GDP decline?

Weakness in the housing sector is a factor. Investment in residential real estate slowed for the first time in three years. I see that as good, as the previous pace was heading rapidly towards another real estate bubble.  Real estate values have peaked and have begun decline in some areas of the U.S., like Gilbert, Arizona that led the value resurgence a few months ago.  

Perhaps the decline in federal QE (debt) spending played the biggest role as a result of the $20 Billion reduction QE (debt) spending per month. The latest GDP decline demonstrates the power that debt spending can have on the economy. If the U.S. were to curtail the remaining $65 Billion in QE debt spending per month, the U.S. might slip into recession. The bottom line is that the U.S. QE debt spending helps the U.S. economy look like its only anemic…when it is actually in recession. This will play out as the Fed is forced to reduce QE debt spending to keep the U.S. from going over the new U.S. Debt Ceiling, recently raised to $17.2 Trillion by the U.S. Congress.

U.S. Fiscal Reality Check

U.S. GDP: $16.1 Trillion

U.S. National Debt: $17.4 Trillion (already exceeds new ceiling), ($55,000 per citizen, $151,000 per tax payer)

U.S. Debt held by foreign countries: $6 Trillion

U.S Federal Spending: $3.5 Trillion

U.S. Federal Revenue: $2.9 Trillion

U.S. Federal Deficit: $0.6 Trillion

Source: USDebtClock.org

What does this GDP data mean concerning the future of America?

America is stuck in a land of anemic growth…actually declining in real growth because its economy can not consistently rise above 3% growth … a level required to produce enough jobs and income to keep pace with population growth. In reality, this means that America is declining in economic strength. In the coming few years America faces an astronomical increase in expenditures due to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and welfare programs like Medicaid and Obamacare. America’s relatively level revenue will not be able to cover the mushrooming expenditures. Congress will not be able to address this problem by simply ‘kicking the debt can down the road’ as it has in recent years. At some point soon, the fiscal mess that is brewing will explode as America plunges over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’.  At the bottom lies America as a third world country.

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Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

GDP

U.S. Debt Crisis

Economy

Entitlement Reform

Social Security

Medicare

Medicaid

ObamaCare

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Captain Rick: The Barrel Cactus, found in the Sonoran Desert of southwestern Arizona, can grow to beyond a meter in diameter, hold 500 liters of water and live to 100 years. Its juice is deadly, but its fruit was a food lifeline for native Americans in years of drought. Its flowers rank among the most beautiful of all.

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I captured the above image at the Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Click the image to visit my Flickr Photostream where you can view it full size in high definition on our HDTV or widescreen computer monitor.

About Barrel Cacti

Barrel cacti are mainly found in the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona.
The barrel cactus easily reaches over a meter in height at maturity and have been known to reach 10 feet.
Barrel cacti can store 500 liters of water and live to 100 years or more.
Its ribs are numerous and pronounced, and the spines are long and can range in color from yellow to tan to red.

Small yellow flowers appear at the top of the plant only after many years.
The barrel cactus buds start to bloom in April with a bright yellow flower.
As the yellow flowers begin to wilt in early May, they turn orange in color.
A late summer desert monsoon rain can produce a late orange bloomer that continues to bloom through the end of September.

The buds mature into a small pineapple-shaped greenish fruit that is left behind as the flowers wilt away.
The bitter fruits can last a year and were collected by Native Americans as emergency food during extreme drought conditions.

Barrel cacti are one of the more dangerous plants in the desert.
Their spines can easily puncture human skin. Its has been said that a wound that draws blood could take several months to heal with antibiotics needed for some. It has also been said that liquid in the cactus can be deadly if ingested or even sniffed.

Captain Rick’s Barrel Cactus
I have a barrel cactus growing at my Arizona Oasis that is about 10 years old. Its still less than the size of a basket ball.
I have been punctured by its needles. It wasn’t pleasant, but all healed properly a week or so later.
I will pass on testing that out sniffing or tasting its cactus juice. Perhaps one day when it flowers, I will taste its fruit. I also have a Peruvian Apple Cactus that grows huge red fruits that taste sort of like a kiwi.

My barrel cactus is still too young too bloom … but when it does, I will capture the beauty of the occasion to share with the world.
Few flowers anywhere on earth can measure up to the awesome beauty of those that bloom on an Arizona barrel cactus.

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