Politics is the art of putting things off.
Unspun Data: Unemployment fell from 9.4% in July to 9.7% in August. The Dow ended the day up 96 points. The economy lost another 216,000 jobs, 50,000 less than in July, suggesting that more people were on the streets looking for jobs. The 'underemployment rate' now stands at 16.8%, and there are 14.9 million unemployed Americans. Spin it any way you want.
Fuelish Citizens: At least 40 civilians were killed in a giant fireball and many more burned when a US jet bombed two NATO fuel tankers that had been captured by the Taliban and was being emptied by the local populace, who needed an object lesson. As General McChrystal has said, the US needs to rethink its strategy. Rethinking its tactics would seem in order, too.
Wish I'd Said: “War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; ... the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.... No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” That was James Madison, long before we turned into the most bellicose nation on the planet.
Moving On Up: Prime credit-card loans are performing worse than the subprime group. The nation's most credit-worthy borrowers are defaulting on their mortgage and credit-card payments at a faster pace than people with poor financial histories. Sounds like text for Sunday's sermon.
Snap Quiz: In today's economy, do we see (a) too many consumer dollars chasing scarce goods. Or (b) too many goods looking for buyers. If (a), then inflation is probable. If (b), deflation is underway. School's out.
Take Home Exam: The Arctic has been receiving less energy from the sun over the last 8,000 years, and yet a 2,000 year cooling spell has been dramatically reversed in the last century. Usual prize for the first to explain this phenomena without reference to burning fossil fuels. Accurately explain.
Resetting the Clock: Debt got us into this mess and we seemed determined to leave with the one what brought us. Seems unlikely that a short-term, unfocused stimulus will solve long-term structural problems. At best it will put off until tomorrow that which should have been done long ago. Printing more chits redeemable in future Monopoly money is not part of a real world solution.
Career Counseling: To get a job offer, be willing compete on price. Of the competition, 65% will take a 30% wage cut. If you are willing to accept about half of what you used to make – or minimum wage, whichever is higher – you chances of getting an offer improve greatly.
Montezzuma's Revenge: The head of public security for the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico (think Cancun and Cozumel) has been arrested for involvement with drug gangs. His arrest followed the earlier arrests of a number of other senior officials, including Cancun's chief of tourism police.
Why Finance? The financial sector is supposed to connect savers with borrowers – providing “intermediation services”. But modern finance has largely if not completely decoupled asset prices from any underlying reality. How else to explain half a quadrillion dollars in derivatives? The basic purpose of the financial market has been forgotten.
Enlightenment: The problem with explaining the origin of life on Earth is that the conditions that existed before life (little oxygen, lots of UV radiation) are wholly different than the conditions that life created (an oxygen rich atmosphere). Scientists now suggest that life originated at photosynthetically-active porous structures made of zinc sulfide similar to deep-sea hydrothermal vents. And now you know.
Porn O'Graph: See if you can locate the Industrial Age.