Saturday, January 30, 2010

SAR #100130/Weekender

Faust would be quite at home.

Confusion:  US GDP grew at a 5.7% pace in Q4 – but 3.4% of that was in inventory growth.  The leading sectors of GDP, personal consumption and residential investment, both slowed in the quarter just ended. In that 2009's increase in wages and benefits, at 1.5%, was the weakest since records were available (1982), it's hard to get excited about any of these numbers.  Reinforcing the general grimness is this marvelously depressing chart that shows the economy is still 3.2% smaller than it was before the bottom fell out.

Fine Print:  It is an open secret that US Special Ops teams are deeply involved in 'secret' operations in Yemen, including attacks that have killed scores of people, including 6 al-Qaeda in Yemen franchise holders.  One of the targets is Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American citizen thought to be working with al-Qaeda, who has been put on a list of those the US would like to see killed.  Or captured.  Uncle Sam wants you, dead or alive and to hell with a trial.

No Problem:  To avoid slipping back into Great Recession, The Sequel, massive deficit spending must be continued so we can bubble up some jobs and such.  Do these deficits matter?  Certainly, and in the long run we must pay (some of) the money back.  The long run - when deficit reduction, increased taxes, smaller government and minimal social spending becomes necessary is defined as when somebody else is in office.

Have You Herd?  The recession has driven beef and dairy producers to reduce their herd sizes. But it's not quite that bad, because today's cattle are on steroids and weigh about twice what their ancestors did.

Definite Mystery:  Along with nuclear power, Obama is seeking expanded investment in 'clean energy' such as coal mining and oil drilling.  Maybe nuclear power qualifies, but to include fossil fuel burning under the heading of 'clean energy' requires the sort of redefinition of 'clean' that only Big Energy and politicians could love.

If/Then:  The bailout has only worsened the problems at the big banks, and if the too big to fail banks are not reined in, the economy as a whole is headed for serious trouble.  And we're not doing diddly about reining in the banks, so...

Whistling:  The International Energy Agency's Fatih Birol says that the demand for petroleum in the developed world has peaked and that the demand levels of 2006-2007 will not be seen again because of higher fuel efficiency and the use of alternatives.  So we can continue the high-consumption perpetual-growth energy party without as much energy?  Really?  What changes in the economy have you seen other than the recession that has significantly reduced energy demand  Isn't it nice that this peak in demand came along right when some were sure that supply had peaked?

And That's The Way It Is...  “America Is In Serious Trouble And Our Government Is Too Wimpy And Incompetent To Do Anything About It.”   Okay, that's the problem.  What's the solution?

Nose/Face:  In an act that demonstrates the futility of pretending that any effective action will be taken to reduce global climate change, Australia says it will not try to reduce its CO2 emissions by more than 5% by 2020 without guaranteed reductions by the US, China and India.

On the Other Hand:  Harvard economist Ken Rogoff says the world's economies will come crashing down if nations continue “gorging on debt”.  Just the opposite of what that fella from Princeton keeps saying.  Maybe they're both right about the crash & burn part and it does not matter how we get there.

Once Upon a Time:  It used to be that the US would hold an election and the people would, by majority vote, chose who was to run the country.  Now it takes only 41% of the vote to ruin the country.  It is time for the Senate to change its own rules – the Constitution says nothing about filibusters.  The need for super-majorities on every vote was invented recently, by the Republicans.  It's the losers' way of acting out and preventing the will of the majority from being done.

Porn O'Graph:  Climate Change graph works for foreclosures too.


TulsaTime said...

I just viewed the linked article on our military same old same in Yemen. The public was really taken to the cleaners with the Change lies of the election. The only change has been the names on the doors. The crash of this society is going to be spectacular when all the bad trends come together, perfect storm fashion.

Did you see where they are going to 'privatize' the manned space effort? Werner will be spinning in his grave, he was the only reason we had a good manned program that was government run.

SIGH...abort the old man rant about those criminal clowns in charge. How bout them Colt's?????

Blissex said...

«It used to be that the US would hold an election and the people would, by majority vote, chose who was to run the country. Now it takes only 41% of the vote to ruin the country. »

Careful what you wish for.

The 60% rule means essentially that a few large (democrat) states can veto legislation pushed by many small (republican) ones, and to some extent counteracts the small state (republican) bias of the Senate.

If the Senate ran on simple majority rule, small state coalitions could screw large states all the time.

The reverse is true of course, which is wrong because small states are already over-represented in the Senate and don't need to be further protected by a veto for a subset of their numbers.

In practice there needs to be a veto in the Senate but only for the large states that are under-represented in it, and one that is only exercised rarely.

The problem with the 60% cloture rule is not that it is a veto that overrides the will of the majority; it is that it is a poor way to create veto power, and it can be abused by those states that are already favoured by equal representation, and it is used far too often and not as an exception.

But then for small state conservatives things like healthcare are veto-worthy, as they lead down the road to serfdom and the degeneration of the USA in a tyrannical communist hellhole like Canada, France or the UK.

CKMichaelson said...

Blissex - Well one bright spot is that if "that government that governs least governs best" is close to being true, we've got a pretty good thing going here.


Anonymous said...

Fine Print:...who has been put on a list of those the US would like to see killed. Or captured. Uncle Sam wants you, dead or alive and to hell with a trial.

Hate To Ask:
Who actually does an autopsy and forensic analysis to prove that any of these Wanteds are ever actually killed? Sure sounds like an Assassination Audit is in order.

Which raises the further question: on what factual reports/evidence/PROOF are announcements made in the media that so-and-so Bad Guy has been killed? (Assuming in the first place, he was indeed a Bad Guy.)

CKMichaelson said...

Anony 2:10 But providing that sort of proof would prevent us from killing the same guy several times (as in Iraq). Far better to claim the kills by position "senior al Qaeda leader" or 'top lieutenant in al Qaeda' and so on - we've killed any number of these guys. Or so the claim goes.

But the government issuing fatwa's against our own citizens bothers me.

Anonymous said...

I agree the worst job al army is the number 2/3 spot some have been killed 3 to 4 times. I wonder if the vendor gets paid on each kill?

Anonymous said...

And That's The Way It Is...

Can we stop listening to Krugman. His world view is too steeped in politics to take his economics seriously.

CKMichaelson said...

No, Anony 1:41, we cannot 'stop listening to Krugman', precisely because his economics is steeped in politics. All economics is steeped in politics - you didn't think it was a science did you? Economic theory is always in service of a political orientation - and vice versa.

Krugman-watching is both a fun sport and a requirement for monitoring the liberal/progressive/populist chunk of American thought & I find it quite instructive that he has become disenchanted with Obama and that he realizes his advice is not going to be followed any time soon.

So, no, we here at SAR are not going to ignore Professor K - we'd miss his witty word play if nothing else.