Monday, November 28, 2011

Where would Wall Street be without Bureau of Labor Statistics?

Lucky it was Department Of Commerce with it's Census Bureau, rather than the Department of Labor that Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry suggested eliminating. The Census is important, but without that constant stream of numbers flowing from the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, those friends of Republicans, who reside on Wall Street would be lost. Employment data, cost of living analysis and other barometers to the economy seem to give the stock market it's bearing. Is it good news or bad news? Should stocks go up or down? Without these figures, they might have to resort to using roulette wheels. Come to think about it, they might as well be using roulette wheels. Is it killing the goose that lays the golden egg?

Ipod better for environment than wood stove

I think an Ipod puts less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus contributing less to global warming than a wood stove. It does take some energy to make the Ipod, but not much to use it. Overall, probably less total "carbon footprint."

A friend of mine pointed out, you can't cook over an Ipod. True. Nor will it heat your home. When He said that, I immediately thought about parabolic solar cookers, for some reason. Science to the rescue. This cooker featured in the 1956 documentary about the sun titled Our Mr. Sun.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Congratulations on the successful launch of curiosity

Curiosity probe is now headed to Mars. Should arrive around August of 2012. A lot of interesting jobs are created putting something like that together.

On another note, Fabric Of The Cosmos Nova PBS series is very interesting. Available on the web, also DVD. Narrated by physicist Brian Greene. I watched on-line. So there's more to the vacuum of empty space than just "nothing."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Remembering Pizza Haven and more

I recently found a Facebook Group about remembering Pizza Haven, an old restaurant chain that used to have around 30 locations in the state of Washington.

My job was custodian at the downtown Bellingham location. That place is now Binyon optometrist. Good memories working part time with lots of free time for bicycling and thinking.

I've always opted for low pressure careers.

The Facebook Group brings back memories of some Pizza Haven culture.

Now I'm on custodial crew of downtown YMCA.

Below is ghostly image of lobby reflected in the door glass to a conference room. Outside window, one sees glare of mercury vapor lights that illuminate front facade of building. Just below is a glass owning over sidewalk. Across the street is the red signs of Key Bank.

Glad my living expenses remain low. The economy has worked for my modest needs so far, but I realize things aren't working that well for more and more people. In some cases, expectations are too high. In other cases, people are given a raw deal.

Voluntary simplicity is one strategy, in an economy where growth is difficult. A strategy to deal with lowering the carbon footprint.

Changing technology is also a way to deal with these things. Ipods most likely have a lower footprint on the environment than wood stoves.

We are living in a changing world and to some extent, upper income people are still living in a fantasy world. The world has big problems when CEOs of corporations and presidents of colleges still expect huge salaries while their businesses loose money and state supported institutions face large cuts.

Tuition at colleges is shooting way up. I'm glad my college days were cheap and I didn't have to deal with student loans.

Money is only one aspect of a job. Peace of mind is another.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It takes Superman, rather than the Super Committee to solve the deficit

We need "Superman" to fly out of the sky and fix it all. Is Superman a dictatorship? The committee is one tool of Democracy. I'm not advocating dictatorship. That would be even worse. Superman is just an angle that comes up, by coincidence, because of the name "Super Committee."

Part of the problem is, democracy needs compromise. Senator Patty Murray, a Super Committee member, stated it well when she talked about the need for shared sacrifice.

I notice that if high income people can't pay anything more in taxes, everyone else seems to refuse to give an inch. They say, "No cuts to Medicare, veteran's benefits or whatever."

What happened to the concept of everyone pitching in to help out?

One would think the military might be good at this. They talk about sacrifice and serving one's country, even giving one's life for country, but they don't seem to want to give an inch either. Can't the Pentagon take cuts too?

When the automatic cuts go into effect, the cuts that were placed into law for the occasion of the Super Committee not agreeing on a deal, the Pentagon is cut. The Pentagon is cut along with everything across the board. However, now there's rumblings in Congress to spare every last penny of Pentagon budget.

Maybe our solders could lead the way in sacrifice, so our world wide military could be smaller. Would that endanger the nation? Maybe, but if our economy implodes, the nation is endanger anyway.

Another solution is to just print the money we need to run our government. Just print it and don't worry about the inflationary consequences of printing money.

Seems like part of the reason why our economy is in it's current state of despair is inflation. Not future inflation, but past inflation. USA has ALREADY priced itself out of world markets for many goods and services.

The cost of living and doing business in USA is pretty high. We already have the high cost of US medicine, we've had the housing bubble; even though that's now deflating, we've had the spiraling costs of corporate executives. We have had multi-million dollar law suites and, of course, we have way too many lawyers.

At the same time, overall inflation remains low. Cost of many products and services, such as MP3 players, keeps going down. There are strong factors, in the economy, that are anti inflationary. One of the most important of those factors is technology. It's getting cheaper to do lots of things. Labor is being replaced with robots which are often cheaper than workers, especially workers here in America that are saddled with high healthcare, housing and education costs.

Technology can also mean consumers providing their own service, like booking one's travel, on line, rather than employing a travel agent. We're getting more "self service checkout" in the supermarket. This situation has been building for a long time, but it is most likely accelerating today.

Here is an interesting aside. Years ago, the state of Oregon outlawed self service gas stations. I think they were trying to preserve jobs for gas station attendants. Law is still in effect today. That may not be the best way to preserve jobs, but it's interesting to note. I wonder about how many people know about that law, outside of Oregon, or if any other states do it?

There's a lot of factors holding down prices in some sectors of the economy. Standard worries about inflation may not apply. It certainly seems true that worries about inflation do not apply the same way in all sectors. Instead, there's concern about unemployment. One's hears people say, "it's unemployment stupid."

Technology is a game changer.

Technology can bring great advantage to society. More leisure, for instance, but we have to be willing to rethink some economics to make this work. Not giving an inch doesn't work.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The revolution will be delicious

Quote on a shopping bag I saw for sale at the Bellingham Food Coop.

"The revolution will be delicious."

I guess that's as good a reason as any to support said "revolution."

Also, one might add, the dancing is fun. Free form, non bar, hippy style dancing which is quite popular here in Bellingham. The mix of music, people and endorphins can create a delicious experience.

Then there's walking, bicycling and all that stuff. Tends to all go along with what is called sustainable living and sustainable economics.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Information overload graphic

On Facebook and other places there has been a recent trend to present sound byte messages as graphics in order to be seen above the fray of messages, apps, games, videos, links and all that stuff cascading at our brains.

All ones in the date wouldn't be as unique if 20 was included

11/11/11 wouldn't look so unique if it was 11/11/2011.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Healthcare may be dimming as an employment bright spot

Recent article in Bellingham Herald about layoffs at Saint Joseph's Hospital. Budget cuts in state and federal programs are taking their toll.

Looks like a lot of articles in the media about employment trends of the future will need to be updated.

For years, healthcare has been cited as a place for future job growth. Some of these predictions were based on the large post war baby boom generation entering older ages and needing more medical services.

Well, the articles must have not taken into account economic issues related to budget cuts in spending on healthcare by governments. Also less and less employers are able to offer private insurance. Eventually this is bound to effect employment predictions in the healthcare industry.

Access to healthcare is also an issue. In some cases, Americans may be over medicated, including those in the post war baby boom generation. Getting older doesn't always imply needing lots more care. Healthier lifestyles can go a long ways to reducing the need for care, but there are still cases when needed care is not be available due to budgetary constraints. These economic issues are bound to effect both the availability of care and the prospects for future employment in the healthcare field.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Timeline dating back to early 1800s about global warming worry

On blogs associated with Science Friday show on NPR Radio. Interesting timeline.

In comments section at end of article, see my comment about remembering a film made in 1958 with section about global warming.

Instead of saying extinct, the species go obsolete

Maybe we don't have to worry about climate change. It just means a few species will go "obsolete." No big deal. New jobs can be created by the process of inventing new species. Bio engineering.

I'm just kidding.

Is this the thinking of business interests?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Could defaulting on debt be like a graduated tax on wealth?

Looks like investors will be "taking a haircut" as Greece defaults even 50% on it's debt as the most recent agreement I heard about calls for. Those who have the most money will have the most to loose. The most money invested in Greek debt; that is.

Hopefully this is the case. At least it sounds logical to me. Of course, folks always try to Wiesel out of everything, but hopefully logic can prevail.

Does this mean that default is sort of like a graduated income tax? A graduated tax on accumulated wealth?

Big investors loose more than small investors.

Same thing could happen with default of US debt. The more money one has, the more one has to loose.

Default could be like the graduated tax that conservatives usually don't want.

If the wealthy don't pay the tax up front, like supporting a higher income tax, they may end up paying it later, if things default.

Large accumulations of wealth would loose more than small accumulations. Accumulations that are "invested" in these debts at least.

It could be sort of like justice in the end. Another term for this is "poetic justice."

Of course, people with less wealth have a lot to worry about also since even a slight haircut could mean the rent isn't paid or no dinner is on the table. Folks with vast sums of money can take a haircut and still have their basic survival needs met, but here's the catch.

Folks with vast sums of money still have worries. Its a different kind of worry. Folks with vaster wealth have worry about business responsibilities and obligations that can't be met. Watch out, if you are wealthy. Here come your employees, clients, vendors, customers and tax collectors. They are all banging down the door. The wealthy have a lot to worry about. The wealthy have more to loose.

Responsibilities = Headaches.

Still, our world wide debt load means we have to accept taking haircuts. It's best if this can be done as rationally as possible.

Rational haircutting can be a lot of things. One form of it might just be "means testing" for Medicare and Social Security.

If we can get through this rationally, and accept a few haircuts, we can get beyond the world debt crisis.

It was stupid, for the managers of all these various investment instruments to have lent out all this money anyway, but that's water under the bridge now. Or, maybe I should say, "that's money under the bridge;" ... the bridge that needs to be rebuilt.

It's all under the bridge now, but we need to look to the future. We have to take a haircut. The rich will have to take a bigger haircut. We have to resolve this debt mess and move on. Partial defaults, like what's likely happening to Greek debt, is part of the solution.

Printing money may ease the situation some, with the accompanying "tax" of inflation.

Means testing, budget cuts, tax increases and economic growth to pay down current debt. All these things are part of the solution.

Looks like the debt is so big that some of the solution will be "investor haircuts." When we get beyond this "debt overhang," we can move on into what will hopefully be a brighter future.