21 March 2011

Did You Hear the One About the Two Economists...

I sit here doing my various things, all the while listening to that hated Liberal NPR, usually the station at Sacred Heart University, which as its name implies, is associated to the RC church; after watching that fat guy on "60 Minutes" last night, the right wing agenda of the RC church is clear.  May be NPR isn't quite the Liberal Bastion.  So, anyway.

The news minute just ran, and one topic was the existing home sales number, released this morning.  It was down, and the home price the lowest in nine years.  The reporter questioned an economist with the realtor lobby, who asserted that home prices have to rise because the population is growing.  There's a reason economists are held in such disrepute, and such crap "analysis" is a big reason.  For that statement to be true, then there never would have been a Great Recession in the first place.  House prices rose in the face of stagnant and falling real median income just because the mortgage companies, then the banks in their lemming fashion, fudged the numbers to *force* prices up.  Builders were the ones who made out on the deal; build them expensive, sell them expensive, leave.

Without a rise in real median income, folks won't be buying houses at any price higher since the mortgage payment is 1/4 of gross median income, and without the fudge factor, prices must return to historic norms.  That's been the serviceable level for a very long time.  It won't change, and Steve Jobs will see to it.  For every added dollar that goes to a mortgage company is a dollar that Steve can't put in his pocket.  One needs to ask the obvious question:  where does the cash come from to buy iPads and iPhones and all the other iCrap present and future when median income is not rising?  The answer, in the short term, is trading a nice living room for Steve's toys.

Steve's toys is a metaphor, to curb flummoxed responses, for any and all discretionary spending.

10 March 2011

Putsch in America's Heartland

Scott Walker has done a Hitler.  For those who've forgotten, Germans elected Hitler on the theme that a minority was the source of all its economic problems.  Walker did the same.  Now, he's put Wisconsin's economy in the tank, and handed the 1%-ers even more wealth.

The unions negotiated lower wages in exchange for better health care and retirement.  Pure and simple.  The state of Wisconsin mismanaged, and short funded, those benefits.  Failure was guaranteed. 

Hitler did much the same.

Walker's union busting will only make Wisconsin worse, well on the way to being Alabama in the snow.  Don't be surprised to when Walker and fellow Right Wingnuts outlaw all unions in Wisconsin.  Mark my words.

Will Wisconsin's economy perk up in response?  Hardly.  State workers (well, those not needed to enforce a Police State, of course) now have 8% less income, transferred to the well to do.  Private sector employers now have a weapon to reduce salaries and wages.  In due time, and it won't be much, no one with a functional frontal cortex will work for the state.  Just as in Germany (now and then) and Britain, which wage war on the middle class as we speak, economic activity (GDP for countries) in Wisconsin will go down the tubes.  Like the propagandists they are, they will conjure up some new Enemy of the People.  I'll guess unwed mothers.  Yeah, kill them off, and all will be well.

09 March 2011

Fit to Be Tied

Tie me up, Buttercup!  Well, lock me out Rex Stout!!!  The stomach churning that is the NFL and its players needs addressing, if only a little bit.  Long, long ago, when I was paid to be an economist, I had a look at public financing of private facilities.  Primary among these are stadiums for football, baseball, and to a lesser extent basketball/hockey which usually share a facility.  I could only find data which showed that the taxpayer didn't get much out of it.  Owners, who, absent slavery, own little or nothing, generally made out very well.

So, in a fit of search hysteria, I found this piece at the HuffPost.  I don't much like the HP, since it is mostly about indentured servitude, but this piece appears to be authored in-house.  I guess.  Hard to say.  Whether this is a paid author, don't know.

Here's the bit that matters:
"Twenty-eight of the league's 31 stadiums (the Jets and the Giants share the New Meadowlands Stadium) have been built with some amount of public financing...  Eleven have been 100 percent publicly financed. Taxpayers have put up more than $5 billion since 1990."  Welfare for the rich??  Could be.  Those teachers sure don't deserve retirement or health care, though.

08 March 2011

Onward Christian Soldiers

Say it with me brothers, "Onward Christian soldiers!"

On more than one occasion, I've ranted about the subversive christian element in the US military.  It's been a while since the last bit of news, but here's a bute.

They're bound and determined to blow up the world in the name of Jeeeeeeeeesus!!  For this they claim Constitutional authority.  Inbred rednecked morons.

A Knife at a Gunfight

Herewith the shortest posting yet.

The militias, white supremacists, and Tea Baggers take note:  what's going on in Libya is what you will face should you act out your fantasies of rebellion.  The government has F-15's.  You don't.

And, if you think that all those Christian pilots will shoot down their buddies just because you expect them too.  Not going to happen.

07 March 2011

A Comedian

I think I've mentioned a few times that I've not traveled much out of the country.  In fact, I believe I once said that my only trip was to Haiti, in 1984 (or thereabouts).  Not true; I was in Bermuda a few years ago, by very rocking boat.  The only time I've flown is Haiti.  Tony Bourdain's been there.

Now, Tony Bourdain is an acquired taste, so I'm told.  I wouldn't know, as I've been impressed with his style of reportage from the beginning.  This show is far more sober, still snarky, but not so with the people of Haiti.  He doesn't travel far; only up the mountain to Petionville.  The show is really about Port Au Prince, not Haiti.  That's as it should be.

He did a piece on the Israeli attack on Beirut back in 2006, but that wasn't on purpose.  He just happened to be there when the attack happened.  The first few days of the shoot went normally.  Then all hell broke loose.  He turned to reportage.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, he goes.  I've no idea why he thought of it, but he begins the episode reading "The Comedians", Graham Greene's novel set in a fictionalized version of the Hotel Oloffson in downtown Port Au Prince.  We stayed up the mountain, in Petionville, at the Montana.  A bit of irony:  the Montana was (yes, past tense) up the mountain some few miles and farther from the quake's center, made of concrete, and pancaked by the quake; while the Oloffson is in the middle of the city, which is to say, almost on top of the epicenter, made of sticks, and still standing.  We ate there, and sat on the balconies. 

You have to watch this show.  Check the Travel Channel for the schedule.  If this doesn't get an Emmy, there's not a shred of justice.  "60 Minutes" rarely makes such reportage.  The Beirut episode was nominated, but didn't win.  That episode was serendipitous, this one was very much on purpose.  See it.

02 March 2011

An Ouroboros Tale

My favorite weatherman got canned a month or so ago; as a result of tracking him down, I found that he has a long running site/blog, to which I am getting addicted.  His latest post (as I write) is one in which I became enmeshed, and has some of my cutest prose in a while.  Teehe.

This is it.  Much in the general theme of this endeavor.  I'll also note that the folks who canned him, LIN Media, is threatening to pull its local channels (that's all it owns, I believe) which include Geoff's former weather screen, from Dish, which is how we get our TV needle, if it doesn't get some fat increase.  More and more, folks are turning to HD antennas in urban and suburban settings.  May be it's time to go that route.  No more "Bathtastic", alas.