Stan looks at the U.S. — by the dollars

I include my e-mail address in all of my columns and a great big “thank you” to those who write to me even if you disagree with my thoughts.

President Reagan said, “You can disagree without being disagreeable.” Today’s column is one of your favorites: “America, by the dollars.” Feel free to disagree — just, be nice.

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What foreign country is the biggest holder of U.S. debt? You’re thinking China, right? Wrong! Japan is back up there on top. As of last month, China owned $1.2237 trillion worth of U.S. Treasuries, compared to $1.2244 trillion owned by Japan. That difference of $0.0007 trillion, with so many zeros, doesn’t seem like a lot of money when you look at it that way, but believe me, it is. The headline of a 2013 story on World Net Daily reads: “China poised to demand U.S. land as payment for U.S. debt.”

If this is true, what do you think about it?

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Aiden, my 9-and-a-half-year-old grandson, was a bit saddened when he learned that his five shares of McDonald’s was down a buck. I consoled him when I said “Don’t worry your shain kup about it. All of these major companies have managements who seek out ways to increase sales and profits.”

Last year the Burger King people moved its headquarters to Canada and merged with Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee shop chain. Between the tax finagling and the menu changes, the numbers are in and Burger King sales increased 9.6 percent in the first quarter of 2015. In the meantime my little guy is rooting, “Come on Big Mac.”

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There are more than 20,000 Starbucks coffee shops in 65 countries. In 2013 the company grossed $15 billion, an increase of 12 percent over 2012. I’m not a fan of Starbucks, but with numbers like that, there are clearly a lot of people who are. I am a fan of Mr. Howard Schultz, the former CEO who hails from the Bayview Houses in Canarsie. Yes! The U.S. is truly the land of opportunity. I want to take a minute to salute Mr. Schultz, who proved that America is truly the place where you can succeed if you really work at it.

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When a tragedy strikes somewhere in this world, we Americans reach for our checkbooks and donate our dollars to the cause. In 2010, Haiti was wracked by a monster earthquake. We dug into our pockets and donated $488 million to the American Red Cross for the purpose of rebuilding houses and communities.

Here we are five years later and we ask how many communities were rebuilt? Answer: zero. How many houses were constructed? Answer: six.

Perhaps America should be looking for better charities. I have spent many days in Labadee, a beautiful beach resort on the northern coast of Haiti. If they could get the rest of the country to look like and be as safe as this area is, Haiti would not need our money. It will become a wonderful, wealthy tourist destination.

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We recently learned that Americans spent $70 billion playing the lottery in 43 states last year. That was more than we spent in all 50 states on movie tickets, sports tickets, video games, recorded music, and books combined.

Something is just not right about those numbers. There was a study done a while ago at Duke University with results that told us the poorest third of all households buy half of all lottery tickets. We also learned that state lotteries are advertised most aggressively in the poorest communities.

I am StanGershb[email protected]ellsouth.net shouting: “Nice going.” Our state governments give away money to the unfortunate people who need it most and then take it back by encouraging those folks to gamble.

Read Stan Gershbein’s column every Monday on BrooklynDaily.com.

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