Tuesday, August 10, 2010

SAR #10222

What if it's already too late?

Mourning for America:  The American middle class has been slowly suffocated since the early 1970's, with income in real terms being essentially flat for nearly 40 years.  The rich, as expected, have seen their incomes increase 300% in real terms.  And while middle class incomes have remained essentially unchanged, expenses for things like healthcare and education have doubled and redoubled.

Rail Time Indicators.  Rail traffic was down for third consecutive month from 2009-10's peak and down 12% from the pre-downturn average.

Trip Report:  Four things stand out as I look back on my vacation in Portugal: There were few children visible, very few black people, almost no obese people, and there were windmills everywhere. After a five year push, about 45% of Portugal's electricity will come from renewable sources – mainly wind power – this year. While they pay about double what Americans do for their electricity, the Portuguese I met were proud of their clean energy, their clean streets, and their nation-wide recycling efforts.

Let's Think this Through:  The US plans to sell $30 billion worth of F-15s. After all, they're our friends and the planes would never be used against our interests as long as the Saudi family is in control...

Bedtime Story:  Once upon a time America led the world in education.  Once upon a time we had the world's best roads.  Once upon a time there was nothing we couldn't do.  Now we can't keep the streetlights on, the fire stations open, the police stations staffed.  We can't afford teachers for our children. We can't afford to keep the parks open.  We've had to close the libraries.  All we can afford to do is to give tax money to bankers, borrow more more money and give that to bankers, and then cut back on the health of our old folks and take away their retirement security.  What changed? What changed other than letting the financiers take over the government so that it is no longer for, of, or by the people?

Explicate:  Water security is more important than food security. 500 words or less.

Part of the Path:  In the 1970's, the financial sector took less than 16% of domestic corporate profits.  In the current decade Wall Street takes 41% of all corporate profits.  And still all they do is push paper and play with numbers. They don't actually make anything, they just siphon off the profits.

With Two You Get...  The Chinese miracle has resulted in 65 million vacant housing units. There are entire cities standing vacant.  A 2.2 million square foot mall has never opened.  It was all done with debt. Sound familiar?

Repeat After Me:  Unemployment will continue its dismal performance until the consumer-based economy picks up. The consumer-based economy will not pick up until consumer spending does.  An increase in customer spending depends on an improving employment picture.  Unemployment will continue its dismal...

Porn O'Graph:  Are we having fun yet?

7 comments:

rjs said...

ckm, your bringing up childless portugal again brings back a question i had when you first mentioned it...

what are your thoughts about where such societies will end up 40 years hence? japan's population, for instance, is expected to decline by 2/3rds from the peak, with more retirees than workers...

CKMichaelson said...

rjs - I think the next 40 years will be so over-loaded with stress and change that the issue of children supporting elders will be a minor theme. Societal reorganization and re-ordering of priorities is inevitable, but I am in no way equipped to guess what they might be.

Another reader asked why I mentioned the perceived absence of black people in Portugal as "important".

I didn't say it was "important", I said I noticed it. Given Portugal's history in the slave trade and their resolute rejection of blacks during their colonial empire days, it is not surprising that blacks have no history of flocking to Lisboa.

I also noticed that there were a lot of well staffed pharmacies where most customers seemed to have paperwork granting them free rx's. Of note, too, was an absence of bad teeth among the populace (I'm from Tennessee where bad teeth are less than rare and obesity is epidemic). In the north there were a lot of Joe Stalin type mustaches - and that is surely simply an observation and of little import.

But their wind-generated electricity and their dedication to preserving the environment seemed, to me, important parts of the society.

And for all the talk of pending fiscal disaster - maybe so, but the streets showed no sign of anything but happy, active people buys with their lives and living. The government may have overextended itself, but the malls were busy.

ckm

rjs said...

ckm, good enough...

it just seemed to me that you were mentioning it with some intent to convey something more than an observation...

CKMichaelson said...

rjs - Perhaps like my hero Darwin after I have pondered my observations for a couple of decades I may eventually come up with some insightful interpretation, but for now I'm content to note and report.

ckm

Demetrius said...

I've got this great idea. "No taxation without representation". Do you think it could catch on?

Dink said...

"but for now I'm content to note and report."

And we're thankful for the observations. Its nice to hear about Portugal's push towards sustainable energy. Please keep us posted about any self-sufficient (but not survivalist) communities that you come across.

CKMichaelson said...

Demetrius - Another crackpot idea from the Brits...


ckm