mcclatchy

Expect more cuts in the already lean newsroom of The State newspaper.

Parent company McClatchy said Monday it plans to eliminate 1,600 jobs or 15 percent of its workforce, as it tries to deal with declining revenues and a worsening economy.

McClatchy’s stock is trading at less than 70 cents a share.

The State, which has already been through two rounds of job eliminations, has been on notice for several weeks that more cuts were coming, and the latest round may have already been announced prior to McClatchy’s announcement today.

McClatchy also owns The Charlotte Observer, The Raleigh News & Observer, The Myrtle Beach Sun News, The Rock Hill Herald, The Hilton Head Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.

One is left wondering exactly how long it will be before there’s no one left to report the news.

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The concept of “soaking the rich” sounds great, both on the campaign trail and once demagogues get elected to office.

Since overall there are far fewer “rich” than “non-rich,” it’s a sure-fire way to get votes and publicity, particularly given Big Media’s leftist leanings. 

The fact is, there’s long been a predisposition in our society toward the view that many of the so-called rich must have come about their wealth through either luck (i.e. inheritance) or illegal means (crime, fraud, etc.).

So it’s hardly surprising that President Obama has embraced the class-envy game with unbridled gusto.

“Let me be absolutely clear … If your family earns less than $250,000 a year – a quarter-million dollars a year – you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime,” President Obama said late last month.

What’s unsaid is that if your family is on the other side of the $250,000 threshold, you can expect to be asked to bend over and smile.

The problem with that plan is, as author Bill Bonner points out, that the top 5 percent of America’s earners already pay 60 percent of the costs of government, while the bottom 40 percent pay nothing.

“Obama’s new budget is the biggest bag of leeches to come along since the Roosevelt Administration,” Bonner writes. “We have not seen it in detail. But from what we’ve gathered from the press reports, it has something in it for almost every bloodsucker.”

“The raw numbers are breathtaking,” he says. “Whereas the feds have taken about 21 percent of the nation’s income in recent years, now they’re going to take 28 percent. The deficit alone will equal more than 12 percent of total GDP.

“Put the feds together with state and local hacks, altogether they will consume 40 percent of the nation’s total output,” Bonner adds. “Whoa … that puts it close to the levels of such free-market bastions as Zimbabwe and Algeria, both with 43 percent of spending done by government … and Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, where the government spends 41 percent of GDP.”

Soaking the rich, in other words, is ultimately a sucker’s bet.

President Obama and his advisers would do well to read “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s masterpiece that looks at what happens to a society that hamstrings its achievers at the point of a gun for the sake of those who claim to be unable or unwilling to succeed on their own. It’s not a happy story.

 1933-cadillac

Stock in General Motors hit its lowest point since 1933 last week, but it’s not clear if GM can fashion another rebound similar to the one that not only got it through the Great Depression, but made it into the world’s pre-eminent automaker for decades.

For one thing, consider the difference in the quality of the cars GM produces today with that of more than 75 years ago. Not the technological quality, which, of course, far surpasses anything engineers could have imagined in 1933.

Instead, consider the makes, models and variations that General Motors produced, even at the depths of the Great Depression.

At the top of the line was, as today, the Cadillac. Despite the tough times, Cadillac fielded an extensively revamped lineup of V-8s, V-12s and V-16s for 1933. The boxy look of the 1920s had begun to give way to the streamlined look of the ’30s, which included fully skirted, flowing fenders and a graceful “windsplit” veed grill, according to the Motor Era website.

A step below the Caddy was the LaSalle, which was referred to as a “baby Cadillac,” and was nearly as elegant.

General Motors also produced such makes as Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac. While these weren’t as expensive or luxurious as the Cadillac, all featured impressive styling and tended to include classy models. Each had many different variations.

Take the 1933 Buick. It came in four models, the Series 50, Series 60, Series 80 and Series 90. The first three featured five different variations, ranging from the Series 50 Business Coupe to the Series 80 four-door convertible Phaeton.

Then there was the Series 90, which came in four variations: the two-door Victoria Coupe, four-door club sedan, four-door five-passenger sedan, and four-door seven-passenger sedan.

Even though Buick of the 1930s was definitely considered a step down from Cadillac in the GM pecking order, Buick’s bigger models were far classier, respectively speaking, than anything the company currently manufactures.

Today, Buick produces three models: The LaCrosse, Lucerne and Enclave. The LaCross comes in the CX, CXL and Super styles; the Lucerne comes in the CX, CXL, CXL Special Edition V6 and Super; and the Enclave comes in the CX AWD, CX FWD, CXL AWD and CXL FWD styles, according to the company’s website.

While Buick makes some of the more attractive GM cars being produced today, its variety is nowhere near that of 1933, 1953 or even 1973. In reality, GM has been reducing consumer options in terms of makes and models for many years.

Not surprisingly, consumers have taken notice and many have taken their business elsewhere.

The beauty of the free market system is that consumers are free to pick and choose what fits them best. If General Motors is no longer willing or able to provide choices car buyers desire, there are other automakers who will.

Three-quarters of century ago, GM’s stock price was near what it is today and there was considerable trepidation about the auto giant’s future.

The difference between then and now, though, is that GM understood that its survival depended on satisfying customers and potential customers, not relying on getting a federal bailout.

cotton-field

The US Department of Agriculture is projecting that 8.5 million acres of cotton will be planted in the US in 2009, according to Southeast Farm Press.

That’s slightly higher than the 8.11 million-acre estimate that the National Cotton Council projected last month, but still represents a double-digit decrease from last year.

Cotton producers have had a rough go of it lately, due to falling commodity prices, rising fuel prices and decreasing acreage.

Cotton planted area fell 12.5 percent in 2008, including reductions of about 30 percent in the Delta and West, while the Southeast reduced acres by 15 percent, Farm Press reported. 

Most of the decrease is attributed to higher prices for corn, soybeans and wheat in combination with higher input prices that affect cotton more than most other crops, the publication added.

According to National Cotton Council survey results released last month, all four US regions show intended upland cotton planting area decreases compared with last season. The West and Mid-South show the largest percentage drops of 31 and 23 percent, respectively. Smaller reduction of 18 and 9 percent are expected in the Southeast and Southwest, respectively.

Most Southeastern states, the National Cotton Council reported, expect to see significant declines in cotton acreage in 2009:

  • South Carolina plans a cutback of 18 percent as growers shift primarily to soybeans.
  • Alabama reports a projected reduction of 33 percent;
  • Virginia anticipates a 23 percent decline;
  • Georgia expects cotton production to be off 17 percent;
  • North Carolina plan a cutback of 12 percent;
  • Florida was the only Southeastern state to indicate an upland expansion, with an increase of 3 percent expected for 2009.

Cotton is the single most important textile fiber in the world, accounting for nearly 40 percent of total world fiber production, according to the USDA. The United States, while typically ranking second to China in production, is the leading exporter, accounting for over one-third of global trade in raw cotton.