Tuesday, January 1, 2008

SAR #8001

Without oil, American civilization as we know it
could not exist.

~Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, 1933-48

Limbo: Bush cut funding to the State of Washington for requiring schools to provide medically accurate information about preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Can't go around giving kids accurate information, sets the bar too high.

Without Comment: Merill Lynch's CEO spent the long weekend in talks with Chinese and Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds, looking for another $10 to $15billion cash infusion to cover 4Q07 losses. New Year's vacations were canceled for his top aids as they reportedly "worked around the clock on various 'scenarios' that could be employed to save the bank."

Investments: Two types of people: the realtor gushes on about the sea views and the neighborhood while the surveyor checks for termites, tries the plumbing, looks in the cellar. Second guy is the Scot.

Location, Location, Location: Yale's Robert Shiller, co-founder of the S&P Case/Shiller house-price index, foresees a 15% to 30% decline in average house prices. This would mean $3 to $6 trillion loss in US household assets. Shiller fears this would plunge the US into a Japan-style slump, with house prices declining for years.

Health News : Our expensive but nonfunctional healthcare system may be caused by the growing gap between the haves and have nots in US society. Once a country has achieved a first world standard of living, "income relative to others is more significant for our health than absolute standard of living." Capitalism may not be a sickness, but unequal societies make people sicker.

Clarification, Please: I was just reading about something called "The Bush Boom". When did that happen? Who did it happen to? Was I out of the room? I thought that a boom would benefit more than the CEO class. Only 'Bush boom' I remember was back in March, 2003.

Boosterism! Existing home resales were up in November! From 4.98 to 5.0 million a year! 1600 more a month! 32 in each state! Wow! That's a 0.4% increase. We're saved! Meanwhile, home prices declined 3.3%. Get a bigger truck, we'll make it up on volume! So says the National Association of Realtors.

No Soft Soap: According to Bush&Co washing your hands is a terrorist act - if you are a nurse or doctor. Seems that following a simple five-step checklist designed to prevent common hospital infections violates scientific ethics regulations unless you get each patient's informed consent. Johns Hopkins had to halt its anti-infection program. Wait until some kid tells mom that washing before meals is un-American.

Choices: Bangladesh's 8.39TCF of proven natural gas reserves will be gone by 2011 and their 'probable' reserves will be gone by the end of 2015. Their choices: shut down 90% of their power plants or switch to coal and dump ever larger amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Sure, they'll chose to go without, for the good of U.S. all.

Good Idea: Given our tendency to put current wants over risks to our grandchildren's future, every governing body, from town council to national legislature should have a “legal guardian for future generations” with veto powers.

Time Flies: The time span between successive speculative excesses and subsequent collapse is approximately the lifespan of the youngest person to clearly remember the last one. Those 12 in 1929 are 90 today.

East is East: According to Indian and CIA analysts, Bhutto was assassinated by Pakistani military elements acting on behalf of Islamists/jihadis/al Qaeda - not by Musharraf. A pro-al-Qaida regime in Pakistan would change the entire geopolitical alignment in southwest Asia and the Middle East. "Half of Paki intelligence analysts have bin Laden screen savers," according to a former CIA official. Look up some pictures of the Khyber pass route to Afghanistan - through which we supply some 56,000 troops

It is not 'different this time'... It never is.

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