Paul Krugman: Zombies of Voodoo Economics - "Because it offers a rationale for lower taxes on the wealthy": Zombies of Voodoo Economics, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: According to many reports, Donald T...
2 hours ago
"Where snow falls there are no borders." A view across the border of the US and Canada including economics, poetry, zoology, books, trivia, and religion considered as an engineering practice.
Downturn Drags More Consumers Into BankruptcyThis raises a few questions in my mind.
...the number of personal bankruptcy filings jumped nearly 8 percent in October from September, after marching steadily upward for the last two years, said Mike Bickford, president of Automated Access to Court Electronic Records, a bankruptcy data and management company.
Filings totaled 108,595, surpassing 100,000 for the first time since a law that made it more difficult — and often twice as expensive — to file for bankruptcy took effect in 2005. That translated to an average of 4,936 bankruptcies filed each business day last month, up nearly 34 percent from October 2007...
November 15, 2008, 7:27 amWarren has been researching and documenting why the middle class has been taking it on the chin for 20 years. That's you and me, folks.
Change it’s hard to believe in...
...because it’s such good news. Elizabeth Warren, expert on personal bankruptcy, crusader against credit card industry lobbyists, and founder of the extremely useful blog Credit Slips, to be a member of the bailout oversight board.
Elections have consequences.
Distinguished law scholar Elizabeth Warren teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law at Harvard Law School. She is an outspoken critic of America's credit economy, which she has linked to the continuing rise in bankruptcy among the middle-class. Series: "UC Berkeley Graduate Council Lectures"Her must-see online talk "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class", is entertaining as well as sobering. If you view it by way of Miro (a very good video portal) you can save a copy for yourself and your friends. Have them over for popcorn and pizza, make a night of it.
More In TechnologyOkay, to be a little kinder I must say this story came to me today in E-mail, as part of the Tech section update. It was actually printed in the NYT paper version: "A version of this article appeared in print on November 11, 2008, on page A19 of the New York edition.
* Judge Rules Against White House in E-Mail Case
* Midway Games Reports Loss
* Sirius XM Takes $4.8 Billion Charge Related to Merger
* Comparing YouTube and Hulu
* VMware Lends Virtual Hand to Mobile Phone Crowd
Judge Rules Against White House in E-Mail Case
Published: November 10, 2008
A federal judge ruled against the Bush administration in a court battle over the White House’s problem-plagued e-mail system. The judge, Henry H. Kennedy Jr. of the United States District Court, said two private groups, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and the National Security Archive, may pursue their case as they press the administration to recover millions of possibly missing electronic messages. The administration had argued that the courts did not have the power to order the White House to retrieve any missing messages. A document obtained by The Associated Press in August said the White House was missing as many as 225 days of e-mail dating to 2003 and invited companies to bid on a project to recover them.
Inside the Tent...
Youth: Why do the Democrats let Joe Lieberman caucus with them?
Me: You know, it is the old Lyndon Johnson saying: better to have him inside the tent pissing out rather than outside the tent pissing in.
Youth: But he's inside the tent pissing in!
November 04, 2008 at 07:42 PM
We also have to pay far more attention to public diplomacy and outreach. Our Afghanistan and Pakistan policy is a mess in part because Osama bin Laden’s approval rating in Pakistan (34 percent) is almost double America’s (19 percent). You know we need a new approach when we lose a public relations competition to a fugitive mass murderer.--Nicholas Kristof
Maybe wear a suit and monocle and go as a corporate fat cat? The Journal fronts a good analysis of how the banks now being bailed out by the government owe roughly $40 billion in unpaid executive pay, bonuses and pensions. While the Treasury Department is putting restrictions on what executives at bailed out banks can earn now, it won't affect these debts. In the case of some companies, the debts to executives are greater than their entire pension program.The whole story, in the Wall Street Journal, is here. [subscription]
Here are the amazing numbers: the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the government agency that is supposed to protect the private pension system, recently estimated that the amount of money currently owed to cover pension liabilities is $450 billion; 851 pension plans are underfunded by at least $50 million. United Airlines may have been the biggest pension default ever but we’re looking at a looming financial catastrophe: The PBGC, which takes over defaulted plans, had a $23 billion deficit in 2004 and that’s just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Part of the crisis stems from the 1990s collapse of the stock market and low interest rates (which keeps returns on bonds low).That was from 2005. I can't imagine it has gotten any better since then. Anxiety much?
The table below shows the ten largest plan termination losses in PBGC’s history. Nine of the ten have come since 2001.These defaulting companies and the years of plan termination are (about a third of the way down the page):
Pan American Air, 1991, 1992 [business collapsed 1991]Times are tough, okay. So I am wondering: why not just have the PBGC take over ALL pensions, since that would probably save money, time and effort (not to say anxiety) in the long run?
Trans World Airlines, 2001 [renamed TWA Airlines LLC in 2001, acquired by American Airlines in 2001]
LTV Steel, 2002, 2003, 2004 [filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 29, 2000, merged with Weirton Steel to form the International Steel Group.]
National Steel, 2003 [filed for bankruptcy in 2002, sold to US Steel in 2003]
Bethlehem Steel, 2003 [filed for bankruptcy 2001, acquired by the International Steel Group 2003]
US Airways, 2003, 2005 [Still in business, merged with America West in 2005]
Weirton Steel, 2004 [bankrupt 2008]
Kaiser Aluminum, 2004, 2007 [Still in business. "In 2005, it recorded revenues of roughly $1.1 billion and employed more than 2,000 people..." Wiki]
Delta Air Lines, 2006 [Still in business. Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005,emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2007. "(Delta's) bankruptcy exit strategy was vastly different from that of United in that it expanded its way out of bankruptcy, rather than retrenching " --Wiki]
"...And Alaska—we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs. Our state constitution—it lays it out for me, how I’m to conduct business with resource development here as the state C.E.O. It’s to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.
- Sarah Palin, from "Letter from Alaska: The State of Sarah Palin" by Philip Gourevitch in New Yorker Magazine (September 22, 2008)
”Poetry is the elegant distillation of understanding into language.”Poetry is not a frill -- witness the habit of dictators to kill or imprison poets.
The purpose is communication.
The intended audience need not be large.
The dictionary and thesaurus are your friends.
Waiting for inspiration does not work – or not often. Write every day, it primes the pump.
Read read read
Read out loud, to hear the music of poetry. (This is especially useful with your own stuff.)
Good writing gets better the more you read it.
Experimentation can create new and significant stuff. Or not.
Some people say rhyme and structure are passé. They are wrong.
Writing without editing is not writing.
Recognize what is good in your stuff, but be ready to edit with a machete. However, wait at least a year before burning any piece.
People make poetry just as trees make leaves. There is always more.
Write passionately, edit ruthlessly.
Avoid clichés like the plague!
[someone asked] *** why should the "economy" suffer because the financial industry can't get out of its own way? we still have everything we need to make the things we need.***Thanks Jack. Looking back over the last eight years, I search in vain for evidence that the sucking dry of the US economy was not deliberate. Can any of you offer evidence on that account?
[and someone else commented] "There is no doubt that the US is wealthy enough to do that. The problem is how. Regrettably, perhaps I fear that the Communist solution of taking all the right wing jerks out and shooting them is neither practical nor likely to work"
[and then Jack tells us] These are related points and one begins to answer the other by trying to answer itself. Has anyone noticed that in spite of the crisis and all of the hand wringing surrounding it here and every where the foxes remain in the coop? First they tore the place to smithereens bloating themselves to the point of regurgitation. The chickens are devastated. The place is a shambles.
Even the eggs have been devoured. The farmer is about ready to sell the farm. Does he think to shoot the fox and build a more secure fence? No, because some how the fox has managed to convince the world that the chickens were all to blame in the first place and the farmer was an accomplice to the deed. "Buy more chickens. They'll lay more eggs. I'll be happy to guard the place so that this doesn't happen again." Who better to guard the coop than the experts who know best how to vanquish it to begin with?
Jack | 10.16.08 - 3:41 pm | #
The US state of Texas has banned the use of fish in providing pedicures over health and safety concerns... fish pedicures - where customers pay to have the dead skin nibbled off their feet by small tropical fish - are no longer allowed in the state.
The Department said that, since the same fish are used to clean the skin of multiple people, that there are concerns that the practice could spread infections.
A number of salons and beauty centres have reportedly purchased the fish and now need to rehome them.
The use of fish to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis is popular in Turkey, where warm pools are stocked with a small cyprinid fish called Garra rufa, which nibbles flakes of skin from the body...
However, most of the fish pictured in the news reports covering the live fish pedicures in the US have not been Garra rufa. They have in fact been juvenile Tilapia - a species of cichlid which is commonly farmed for food and reaches a size of 30cm or more.
"Tell me the weight of a snowflake," a mouse asked a wild dove.
"Nothing more than nothing," the dove answered.
"In that case I must tell you a marvelous story," the mouse said. "I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow. Not heavily, not a raging blizzard, no -- just like in a dream without any violence the snow silently fell.
Since I had time, I counted the snowflakes setting on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952 when the next snowflake dropped onto the branch - "nothing more than nothing" as you say - the branch broke off."
Having said that the mouse went away.
I have wondered for years how to hold these amoral *****'s to account. Because normally, people do it with shared recognition and condemnation of wrongdoing, and the wrongdoer either is ashamed, or has to stop doing whatever it is, because his misdoings have been revealed.
Rove, however, is no more subject to shame than an image in a mirror or an actor on the TV screen. No matter how angry people are at the actor, he won't, can't, respond to their dirty looks.
How many years does it take for the average person to learn not to scold TV actors? Roughly 0.00757, I would guess. People who don't stop scolding TV actors, who address paintings as though they were going to answer back, have mental problems usually,
So the widespread right-wing ability to disregard all shaming has taught most people to stop trying. It has formed a kind of armor. Left-wingers, still subject to shame, are perversely both held to a higher standard and more successfully scolded, giving the appearance of weakness.
We scold our dog for misbehaviour, but not a wolverine. The wolverine is far stronger, true, but that may be why we prefer dogs. That we haven't realized we have wolverines in office is our next step forward.
One final point -- our governmental wolverines ignore dirty looks, but are keenly aware of real threats to their position. These people and institutions are preemptively targeted long before they are in a position to muzzle the wolverines. One example is the US Justice Department. In Canada, the elections agency, the nuclear energy agency and freedom of information (hah!) were some of the targets.
As for the Little Guy -- well, Mr. Smith would never make it to Washington. His reputation would be smeared in the tabloids and on Fox before he latched his front door.
I am hoping that Mr. Obama will, almost at once, put all the watchdogs back in action and fund them to the hilt and set protections around them and quietly, soberly dig the wolverines out of their dens.
For to steal is nothing else than to get possession of another's property wrongfully, which briefly comprehends all kinds of advantage in all sorts of trade to the disadvantage of our neighbor... to steal is to signify not only to empty our neighbor's coffer and pockets, but to be grasping in the market, in all stores, booths, wine- and beer-cellars, workshops, and, in short, wherever there is trading or taking and giving of money for merchandise or labor.--Martin Luther, c. 1530, The Large Catechism
...When a manservant or maid-servant does not serve faithfully in the house, and does damage, or allows it to be done when it could be prevented, or otherwise ruins and neglects the goods entrusted to him, from indolence idleness, or malice, to the spite and vexation of master and mistress, and in whatever way this can be done purposely (for I do not speak of what happens from oversight and against one's will), you can in a year abscond thirty, forty florins, which if another had taken secretly or carried away, he would be hanged with the rope. But here you [while conscious of such a great theft] may even bid defiance and become insolent, and no one dare call you a thief.
Furthermore, in the market and in common trade likewise, this practice is in full swing and force to the greatest extent, where one openly defrauds another with bad merchandise, false measures, weights, coins, and by nimbleness and queer finances or dexterous tricks takes advantage of him; likewise, when one overcharges a person in a trade and wantonly drives a hard bargain, skins and distresses him. And who can recount or think of all these things? To sum up, this is the commonest craft and the largest guild on earth, and if we regard the world throughout all conditions of life, it is nothing else than a vast, wide stall, full of great thieves.
Therefore they are also called swivel-chair robbers, land- and highway-robbers, not pick-locks and sneak-thieves who snatch away the ready cash, but who sit on the chair [at home] and are styled great noblemen, and honorable, pious citizens, and yet rob and steal under a good pretext.
This is, in short, the course of the world: whoever can steal and rob openly goes free and secure, unmolested by any one, and even demands that he be honored. Meanwhile the little sneak-thieves, who have once trespassed, must bear the shame and punishment to render the former godly and honorable. But let them know that in the sight of God they are the greatest thieves, and that He will punish them as they are worthy and deserve.