John Norris: Country’s tax code is beyond ridiculous

August 22, 2017, by John Norris

Years from now, if not after next year’s elections, historians may wonder how the GOP squandered a wonderful opportunity to pass meaningful tax reform. While I am not privy to all the back door machinations in Washington, outward appearances certainly suggest the ruling party is kind of disinclined to work with itself, let alone those on the opposite side of the aisle. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. While no one really likes...

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Some Common Cents for August 11th, 2017

August 11, 2017, by John Norris

During a conference call on Monday, I told our wealth management associates the markets were/are as boring as I had/have seen them in my career. A steady diet of modest economic growth and acceptable, if unremarkable, earnings will do that. Further, there is really nothing on the foreseeable horizon to suggest any significant change. Yesterday, the stock markets sold off, and a number of people have asked me whether this is the start of something...

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Norris: Income inequality is about to accelerate

July 26, 2017, by John Norris

The other day, I saw an advertisement on the television for a company which delivers snacks to your house. While I doubt executive management would put it like that, that about sums it up. My initial reaction was: “Are are we really so lazy we can’t even go to the store to stuff our face between meals?” My second one was wondering where the pretzels and ranch dressing were. What was this with all the...

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Norris: Why has Alabama’s employment rate spiked so dramatically?

July 21, 2017, by John Norris

In my last column, I mentioned how Alabama seems to be on an employment tear thus far in 2017. While I have read numerous articles and scoured any number of websites, I can’t seem to find an ironclad business reason why the state’s labor market has strengthened so dramatically in such a short period of time. Consider this: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Household Data survey, the national economy created roughly 812,000 new...

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Some Common Cents for July 14th, 2017

July 14, 2017, by John Norris

The other night, I dreamt a massive meteor hit the earth. Since I typically dream in comedy and am not prone to worrying during waking hours, this was both a departure from the norm and somewhat disconcerting. After all, not much good will come out of a cube with 1 mile edges hurtling into the earth from deep space at what could only be described as a very rapid rate of speed. Perhaps my dream...

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John Norris: Fundamental flaw in minimum wage debate

July 12, 2017, by John Norris

A group of economists recently released a research paper that suggested Seattle’s increase to a $15/hour minimum wage has had a negative impact on the lowest skilled workers. It would seem the market clearing rate for unskilled labor out there is around $13/hour. Up to that level, hourly workers largely benefited from the gradated rate increases, in aggregate. Past that, the report implied the well-intended $15 minimum wage has had some ironic consequences on a...

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Some Common Cents for July 7th, 2017

July 10, 2017, by John Norris

I have recently written about the potential for some form of consolidated government in the Birmingham metropolitan area. For those not in the know, many, if not most, of our suburbs have incorporated themselves over the last 70+ years. The endgame has been a relatively diminished ‘center city’ surrounded by fully functioning municipalities with their own unique identities. Tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands, in the metro area might not even...

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Some Common Cents for June 30th, 2017

June 30, 2017, by John Norris

I am able to track how many people who directly receive Common Cents actually go to the trouble to open it. Last week, I apparently touched on a subject of particular interest, because the number of ‘click throughs’ was significantly higher than it has been in, quite literally, months. If you didn’t read it, it was about the discussion surrounding a consolidated form of local government for the Birmingham metropolitan area (MSA). More specifically, the debate...

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John Norris: Creativity should matter more in Alabama’s economy

June 26, 2017, by John Norris

Years ago, I had an internationally recognized economist tell me it didn’t matter if the U.S. physically manufactured a single thing. After all, the value added proposition of many finished products, if not most, is in the design, engineering and technology. In her way of thinking, the production process is a means to an end, and people don’t really pay for it. They pay for the creativity behind the product or service. If this seems a...

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Some Common Cents for June 23rd, 2017

June 26, 2017, by John Norris

This is sort of part one in an intermittent series. Recently, I received an email with a link to a study about the need for a consolidated form of government in the Birmingham metro area (MSA). For those of you not familiar with Birmingham, most of the suburbs have incorporated themselves. All of them have their own fire and police departments, and the larger, wealthier ones have their own school systems. Some of these cities/suburbs,...

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