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Lifetime pensions are one of the factors killing Sears

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I spent a lot of time walking around Sears stores when I was a kid. It was my grandfather’s favorite place to shop for tools so at least once a week, while my mother was at work, we would make a trip to the store near his house in Washington, DC. I didn’t care much about the tools, to be honest, but they also had toys.

Sears has been closing stores for the past 10 years, trying to find some way to remain profitable. About three or four months ago I walked into a Sears store at a mall near my house. I was killing time waiting for a table at a restaurant, but I did buy a small set of tools, partly because I needed them and partly out of nostalgia. I went back to that same store about a month later and it was gone, an empty shell.

Yesterday, Sears announced its quarterly results and they were not good. From CNN Money:

Sears Holdings, which owns the Sears and Kmart brands, reported yet another huge loss in the second quarter — $508 million, about twice as much as it lost a year earlier…

Sears’ market value is only $134 million…

Sears and Kmart had 3,500 combined US stores in 2005, when they merger. Today they have fewer than 900, and the company announced in August that 46 more will close before the holiday shopping season.

There are certainly plenty of reasons for Sears decline, starting with WalMart but also Amazon and the internet in general. Sears was slow to move from traditional mall-based retail stores to online sales at a time when online was growing and malls were dying.

But there’s another factor dragging the company down which the CEO focused on in a letter that accompanied yesterday’s quarterly statement: The company’s ruinously expensive pension plan.

Lampert said Sears has paid almost $2 billion into pension plans in the past five years, and $4.5 billion since Sears and Kmart merged in 2005 to form Sears Holdings. The company pays retirees about $300 million a year, filings show.

If Sears could have put that money into operations, “we would have been in a better position to compete with other large retail companies, many of which don’t have large pension plans,” Lampert wrote in a blog post.

He also faulted the “very difficult” environment for retailers, but he said Sears has been “significantly impacted” by pension obligations.

Sears was once the largest employer in the U.S. and still has 100,000 pensioners. So it has spent $4.5 billion on pensions while going from 3,500 to 900 stores. And it’s currently spending double the market value of the entire company per year on pension obligations. Meanwhile, Amazon and Walmart have 401k plans that offer some matching of contributions (Amazon’s is pretty low) but don’t offer a guaranteed pension for life.

Something similar can, of course, be said about state pensions. Sears was founded and based in Chicago. The entire state of Illinois has been undergoing a pension crisis for years. This Crain’s piece from April summarizes the current situation:

Consider that the unfunded liability in the state’s combined retirement systems has risen in 11 of the state’s past 12 years—despite a roaring stock market, despite a steady increase in contributions that now amount to a stunning $8 billion or so a year, and despite passage several years ago of a plan that markedly reduces benefits for those hired after Jan. 1, 2011. Between 2004 and 2016 (the last year for which audited financials are available) unfunded liability quadrupled, to $123.8 billion, according to the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the Legislature’s financial watchdog unit.

The sad, slow demise of Sears is something to keep in mind as states around the country deal with their own pension obligations. This is something that is eating state budgets and taking money away from other priorities. There is not an unlimited supply of money to keep paying people to not work, no matter what unions convinced state governments to agree to decades ago.

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Mexican Protesters Scream at Illegal Immigrants: “Donald Trump Was Right! This Is an Invasion” (VIDEO)

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They don’t like being invaded either.

MEXICAN PROTESTERS WAVING MEXICAN FLAGS CONFRONTED ILLEGAL ALIENS IN TIJUANA AGAIN ON SUNDAY–

During the protest today one protester screamed at the illegal migrant caravan, “Donald Trump was right! This is an invasion.”

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Trump: I don’t know if Salman lied to me, skips question on weapons sales

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President Donald Trump isn’t really sure if Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had anything to do with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace there had been several conversations with Salman over Khashoggi and the story hadn’t changed.

I don’t know, who can really know, but I can say this…he has many people now who say that he had no knowledge.

He told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points…as recently as a few days ago.

Trump also noted it might be one of those situations where the truth will never come out on whether Salman was directly involved in ordering Khashoggi’s murder.

Will anyone really know? Will anyone really know? But he did have, certainly, people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved. You saw we put on very heavy sanctions – massive sanctions on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia. But at the same time, we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that’s been very good.

The comment goes against the CIA notion Salman had some involvement in at least getting Khashoggi to the Saudi embassy in Turkey where he died. The President is probably right in his assessment – as even the CIA didn’t completely implicate Salman – but it won’t go over well with a lot of people who prefer presidents speak in definitive answers regarding international incidents.

One thing which isn’t questionable is the ridiculousness of suggesting there were “massive sanctions” on the Saudis. Yes, 17 people were sanctioned – but they’d already had their visas revoked. ABC News suggested the sanctions show the U.S. is taking what happened seriously but I’m not convinced it’ll mean anything because there are plenty of questions on whether sanctions actually hinder those they’re meant to hinder.

The more damning statement by Trump is his decision to avoid a question from Wallace on Saudi arms sales.

Wallace: So if Congress were to move to either cut off any U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen or to block any arms sales, you wouldn’t go along with it?

Trump: Well, I want to see Yemen end, but it takes two to tango. Iran has to end it also. And Iran is a very different country than when I took over. It’s far weakened because of what I did with the so-called Iran deal – Iran nuclear deal – which was one of the great ripoffs of all times. But I want Saudi to stop, but I want Iran to stop also.

This is a beyond ridiculous answer and shows the failure of the President to change any sort of foreign policy. Trump is just going along with the previous administration’s policy of being “arms seller in chief.” There is no reason for the U.S. government to be involved in arms sales – and I know it’s because there’s a federal law on the issue.

The logic of those who believe the U.S. government should control who gets American weapons is so they can pick what country gets what. But where is the accountability? How does the public hold the government accountable when it’s full of bureaucrats and so-called ‘policy experts’ who are the ones who actually make the decisions.

The Government Accountability Agency noted in 2016 the U.S. had consistently failed in following procedures (and U.S. law) when it came to arms sales to Egypt (emphasis mine).

The U.S. government completed human rights vetting for 5,581 Egyptian security forces before providing U.S.-funded training in fiscal year 2011 through March 31, 2015; however, our analysis of a sample of names from training rosters of Egyptian security forces who received U.S.-funded training shows that that the U.S. government did not complete all required vetting prior to providing training, in violation of State’s and DOD’s policies. In contrast to State’s vetting requirements for training, State’s policies and procedures encourage, but do not specifically require, vetting for foreign security forces that receive U.S.-funded equipment, including those in Egypt. The primary method State uses in Egypt to comply with Leahy law requirements when providing equipment is to attest in memos that State is in compliance with Leahy law requirements. Various factors have posed challenges to the U.S. government’s efforts to vet recipients of U.S. assistance. Gaps and uncertainties in information have made it challenging for U.S. officials to vet some cases before providing training. Additionally, State has not established procedures for clearing smaller units or individuals within a larger unit that has been deemed ineligible to receive assistance. Finally, Embassy Cairo has recorded little information on human rights abuses by Egyptian officials in INVEST since the beginning of fiscal year 2011, despite State requirements to do so.

This is why it shouldn’t be the U.S. government doing these arms sales, and why Trump’s refusal to answer Wallace’s question regarding Saudi arms sales is disappointing – and more of a story than his “who can really say” answer regarding Khashoggi. Congress needs to stop the arms sales and completely change U.S. policy.

It’s so much easier to hold private companies accountable for sales, especially when there’s no government protection barrier surrounding them. One would think a businessman elected to the presidency would realize this. Apparently not.

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ALL OF ORANGE COUNTY Turns Blue After Democrats Find Thousands of Votes Post Election Day

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Orange County, a traditionally conservative enclave in Southern California turned all blue after Democrats found tens of thousands of votes post election day.

Just two years ago in 2016, only 2 Congressional districts in Orange County voted blue–now just two years later every single district voted blue.

Democrat blue wave? More like Democrat election fraud.

The 39th district was officially called for Democrat Gil Cisneros over Republican Young Kim who was up by 3 points on election night and was set to be the first Korean-American Congresswoman. The Democrats stole this race with ‘late votes.’

Young Kim was up by 3,900 votes on election night with 100% of the precincts reporting according to AP and she ended up losing by 3,000 votes 11 days after the election.

Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters in California’s 45th district was also ahead on election night then was magically defeated by Democrat Katie Porter several days after the election.

Democrat Katie Porter was trailing Mimi Walters on election night then jumped ahead by hundreds of votes after the Democrats produced thousands of ballots after the election.

There may be something more sinister happening in Orange County, California.


The Gateway Pundit spoke to two concerned voters in California’s 45th district who said when they went to vote, they were told they weren’t on the roster so they were given provisional ballots.

Two registered Republicans in California’s 45th district told this reporter that they have been voting for over 20 years in Orange County and what happened this midterm has never happened to them–EVER.

“I’ve been a registered Republican and an active voter for over 20 years and when I went to vote on election day, I was told that I wasn’t on the roster so I was given a provisional ballot,” a Republican voter told The Gateway Pundit.

Was this an isolated incident or is this more widespread?

One America News reporter Jack Posobiec spoke to a pollworker in California on election day.

The pollworker told Jack Posobiec, “I have received a very large amount of voters whose registration was changed to vote by mail without their consent and then not mailed their ballots. I’m allowing provisional voting. My registrar is giving me the runaround about this and just saying don’t worry. This is not my first election. I have not seen this problem before.”

The Drudge Report featured the story about the stunning losses in Orange County and the responses by concerned voters in Southern California raised eyebrows as well.

One woman who lives in Newport Beach in California’s 48th district said she hasn’t missed a vote in 43 years and was forced to fill out a provisional ballot on election day; her vote still hasn’t been counted.

“I was made to fill out provisional ballot after voting in the same precinct in OC consistently 20 years said I was mail in never have been My vote still has not been counted I check daily. Same with red friends. I’m ind. never missed a vote n 43 yrs,” tweeted a Newport Beach resident named Vanessa Butler.

Where the hell is the GOP??

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