Reality, the final frontier.
Why is Alan Greenspan allowed near a microphone?
Rewrite: Remember a week or so ago when the experts announced the resolution of the Greek drama? Turns out it was only the end of Act I. Now the IMF has arrived and is huddled offstage working on a re-write of the script, which will feature sharp cuts in public payrolls, 15%-20% reductions in private wages, higher unemployment and “liberalization of the labor market” - in economics “liberalization” means the bankers get richer and the poor suffer more. Critics expect the play to turn into a road show, touring the Continent, Great Britain and possibly the US.
Down Is Up: The Labor Department reported jobless claims were up 18,000 to 460,000 last week and the 4-week moving average was up 2,250 to 448,000 – instead of the predicted reductions. All together 11.1 million people are drawing unemployment benefits, minus the 373,000 folks who fell off the dole and no longer count.
Couch Surfing: Where do all the former mortgage holders go when the house gets foreclosed? Some rent, but not enough to drive up rents. Some end up living in their cars. A goodly number – as many as 1/3rd – end up on someone's couch. If you sleep on a couch as part of a vacation, that's an adventure. If you are back at Mom's or bunking with a college friend or an increasingly distant acquaintance, the romance wears thin.
Relative Wealth: In Tennessee if a family of four makes more than $16,500 they are no longer eligible for Medicaid assistance – no matter how severe the medical condition. Since January 2009, over 100,000 such freeloaders have been kicked off the rolls. Both of Tennessee's Senators voted against the health care bill.
Savings: Private contractors supporting our military effort have certainly made the Pentagon more efficient at dispensing huge payments to firms like KBR for hours not worked, tasks not done. In the first half of 2009 only 1 hour in 9 billed by KRB was for actual work – they billed for over 1.1 million hours while their employees documented only 116,000 hours of work. KBR says it had to keep the workers on standby in case something came up.
Yes, But: Fixing the things that went fundamentally wrong on the way to the current collapse would mean taking some money or power or both away from the moneyed and powerful, and that's not going to happen.
Geography: Kyrgyzstan is a key to the US strategy for keeping Middle Eastern and Central Asian oil out of the hands of the Chinese and the Russians. Its importance centers on the Manas air base, which US forces rely on for resupply of forces in Afghanistan especially after the closure of K2 base in Uzbekistan. A while back the Kyrgyzstan leadership invited the US to leave Manas, but increased bribes to their President smoothed things over. Now Bakiyev is gone and the rent'll probably go up.
Braggadocio: If you believe CERA, OPEC and the cornucopians there are at least 1,350 billion barrels of conventional oil in known reserves. But those are made up numbers. One famous example is Kuwait, which has only 48 billion barrels of proven (95% sure) and probable reserves (50/50 chance of being there) but continues to claim 102 billion barrels of proven reserves. Once you take out the lies, worldwide the figure is closer to 850 billion barrels, or quite possibly as little as 600 billion. The world uses over 30 billion barrels a year.
Porn O'Graph: A neat graph that shows when mom went to work.