27 April 2011

Casual Dress Acceptable

This story just appeared in the news.  It contains this wonderful quote:

Leprosy can't be spread through casual contact such as handshaking, or sexual intercourse.

So, just let your date know that casual means, well... casual.  You'll both be happy.  Ecstatic, even.  Look it up in a good dictionary.

Seriously, you should read the story, if only to dispel myths you might still have.  Except for that faux pas, it's informative.

24 April 2011

Place Your Bets

Another re-cycled spleen venting.  This time, a letter to the editor at Bermuda's Royal Gazette.  The writer praised an essay by some (unidentified) high schooler, who praised the idea of Bermuda casting its future with casinos.  What follows is my reply.

It's very, very easy to overestimate the boon from casinos.  Nevada, Las Vegas in particular, is a wasteland.  As you may know, it depends on casinos.

Here in CT, we have two of the largest casinos on the planet.  Few understand how they make their money.  Here's the answer:  they bus in old people from New York and Boston (Asians are particularly susceptible) who spend their giveaway rolls of quarters, then empty their pockets.  The notion that it's a bunch of high rollers making poor folks rich is a myth (or perhaps just a lie).  It's far closer to the truth that it's poor folks making rich folks richer.

So:  what would be the draw?  Anyone who's spent time at casinos knows the main fact:  the casinos go to great lengths to keep folks inside.  The wonder of Bermuda makes no difference to casino operators.  Access to lots of dupes is what makes the difference.  Atlantic City hasn't done so well just because it isn't right off the interstate between major cities; the CT casinos are, and that's how they manage to keep a steady supply of bus people.  Who will be the bus people for Bermuda casinos?  That's right, the poor folk of Bermuda.  Casinos end up being a form of regressive taxation; something the 1%-ers dearly covet.

To determine whether casinos on Bermuda could make sense, there is a simple test available.  Permit the cruise boats to run casinos while in port (with a split on gross to Government, of course). 

Doing so will demonstrate a number of useful points.
- is the income from casinos greater than the loss from other business revenue
- is there any net increase in revenue at all

Remember, Bermuda isn't like the Caribbean islands, which are not only individually larger, but comprise a connected "country" of much larger size.  Bermuda is just a tiny rock in the middle of nowhere.

19 April 2011

The New KKK

The Ku Kux Klan exists for a simple purpose:  to extract economic value from a majority for the benefit of a minority.  It happens that the majority is black folks and the minority is white folks in the South.  That the precursor to the KKK was slavery is, of course, not a coincidence.  Nor is it a coincidence that the KKK wraps itself in the Bible.

Well, those good white folks at Standard & Poors have done the KKK one better.  It's still a minority seeking to subjugate a majority, and the minority is still a handful of white folks.  But S&P are after really big bear, this time.  They want to tell sovereign governments what to do.  Recall that the rating agencies exist to provide transparency into the workings of private capital, a function at which they have traditionally been captive to the capitalists they're supposed shine light on. 

So now, in order to punish the government for having the temerity to point out their failure to perform their primary mission, S&P decides it has the right and obligation to run our government.  This is tyranny, pure and simple.  The .1%-ers are using a proxy to run our government.  Obambi will just roll over, again.  You'll know these guys on the street when you see them.  The white dunce cap, brown shirt, and nicely polished boots.

Krugman, and others, have been spent a good deal of ink debunking the bond vigilante justification for sending the country into a true Depression, as the .1%-ers clearly desire.  I don't recall him, or the others, connecting the dots to the rating agencies as the implementers.  Well, here we are.  Get ready for a rapid descent, and keep your hands inside the vehicle.

14 April 2011

Dee Feat is in Dee Flation, Part 13 [UPDATED]

Along with a lackluster initial claims, which rose some, we also got the PPI (Producer Price Index), which was up a tad, although nothing major.  Moreover, the "core" number was downright laggard.
Here's the briefing.com description:
Excluding food and energy, producer prices increased a much more tepid 0.3% in March. The consensus among economists polled by Briefing.com had called for a 0.2% increase.

Despite what the Right Wingnuts have been braying for what is now *years*, the stimulus and TARP and all that other money has been funnelled to the 1%-ers, who don't spend much, if any, of this largess slathered over largess.  Regular folks, who the Tea Baggers should be supporting (but don't, since Tea Baggers are the pawns of the .1%-ers), aren't getting the $$$, so the $$$ doesn't make it to the spending stream.

What the Usual Class of Pundits is ignoring:  the inflation inherent in food and fuel is *Cost Push* (i.e., shortage) and their knee jerk "raise interest rates before the sky falls" will only hasten the fall, and make it that much worse.  Figure out how to increase supply of shortages, morons.  There was a story in a recent NY Times about farmers switching from useful crops (well, useful as food, anyway) to fuel crops.  D'oh!!!

The Core CPI was just released, at .1%, below the expected .2%.  The money ain't getting to normal peoples' pockets.

Obambi is such a waste of time.  If I were Biden, and had to sit through his speech, I'd have fallen asleep, too.

07 April 2011

Blind Faith

For those who haven't been singing along with the Tea Baggers and the religious Right Wingnuts, I'll take a moment to remind y'all of one of their primo arguments against Science:  only God could create an organ as complex as the eye, so therefore the Bible is literally true, all of it.

Well, Boy Howdy this development (pun intended) must be especially bitter.  I love it.  Stupid is as stupid does.

06 April 2011

Lies, Damn Lies, and Whining Tea Baggers

The tea baggers, in the person of John Boehner mostly, are whining that the rich pay too much tax, and the poor get too much services.  As they always do.  The counter example is always Alaska, home of the Tea Baggers, and blessed with the highest per capita Federal largess.

So I thought I'd lay out a small thought experiment.  The Tea Baggers continue to argue that taxes are too high, ignoring (not out of ignorance) that during their much loved 1950's (when men were men, women stayed at home, and darkies did all the real work for pennies) the highest tax rate was 91% and a Republican ran the White House.  I suppose they've already ousted him from the party.

Let's start with a country of 1,000 people, $1,000,000 of GDP, divided as it was in 1980 (approx. of course) with 1% taking 8% and the remaining 99% getting 92%.  Let's set the 1% rate at 60% and the 99% rate at 30% at the start.

Here's the arithmetic:

.6 x .08 x 1,000,000 =  $48,000
.3 x .92 x 1,000,000 = $276,000
               total = $324,000

Now, fast forward to today, with the same rates, just a shift in distribution with the 1% getting 24% and the 99% getting 76%.

.6 x .24 x 1,000,000 = $144,000
.3 x .76 x 1,000,000 = $228,000
               total = $372,000

The problem, of course, is that Reagan/BushI/BushII cut the 1% rates about in half, so

.3 x .24 x 1,000,000 =  $72,000
.3 x .76 x 1,000,000 = $228,000
               total = $300,000

For some actual numbers, have a look here.  The conclusion, so far as I'm concerned, still holds.  Warren Buffett said that there really is a class war, and that the rich are winning.  Boy Howdy, I'd say.

01 April 2011

Dee Feat is in Dee Flation, Part 12

The monthly data is out, and the non-farm payrolls are a bit better than expected.  Two flies, that have so far gone unremarked:  government jobs continue to be scorched, mostly state and local, of course, so the poor states will get poorer by way of the negative multiplier; and earnings are flat, which means Our Capitalists are creating "want fries with that" jobs rather than "I'll have the filet" kind of jobs.  With earnings flat, the only inflation momentum in the economy will come from shortages, some real, such as food, and manufactured, such as petroleum.  The 1%-ers, who clearly now run this benighted country, will demand monetary solutions (of which there are none), and Obambi will cave in as he always does, thus cementing his 1937 moment.  And I voted for this patsy!