Hoping for the best is not a reliable economic policy.
Dreamland: Camden, NJ is becoming what the Republicans desire - a place where government intrusion into the life of the citizenry is disappearing. In order to balance its budget, the city is laying off 25% of its workers, including 50% of the police, 30% of the firemen. Plan a visit soon!
Half Time: The current European plan is to shift the PIIGS liabilities to China and to Europe's dwindling base of taxpayers in the hope that an economic recovery will occur sooner or later and bail them all out. What will they do when the Chinese do whatever it is they are up to and the European taxpayers turn Tunisian? This will not end well.
The Elephant: The real health care problem is the cost of health care services for the elderly – which is almost entirely paid by the government – that is, by the taxpayers. Seniors have, in fact, a single payer system, thanks to the taxpayers. Too bad the Republicans won't let the taxpayers have a single payer system for themselves. But the Republicans are opposed to such a reform for fear that the poor will not suffer sufficiently and that it would be immoral for the taxpayer to ease that suffering.
One Step Over the Line: The Tunisian disease has spread to Oman, where government employees are protesting low wages and soaring food prices.
Omerta: Giving the lie to the Vatican's claims that the church had never told bishops to hide priestly pedophilia, a 1997 letter has surfaced that instructs Ireland's Catholic bishopst to do precisely that. Now the Pope will have to cover up the cover-up.
Asked and Answered: Will the financial crisis lead to America's decline? Yes. What will the American Dark Ages be like? Not pretty. Or so says Niall Ferguson, who blames it all on economist's inability to realize that the economic system is really, really complex and constantly adapting. If it sounds familiar, it is. Check your bookshelf under Animal Spirits, Sandpiles, and Swans.
Infinity: Last week, insiders sold $163 million in stock and bought none. Zero. Bupkis. This is the first time in memory, and perhaps the first time ever, than not one business insider thought enough of his company to buy stock in it.
The Prestige: “The economy remains on government-assisted life support, and the government has been very successful in creating the illusion of economic prosperity. It is doing this to buy time and help preserve social stability as the adjustment towards housing deflation, consumer deleveraging, and chronic unemployment takes its toll.” Preserve social stability? Is that one of the Fed's new jobs, along with puffing up the stock market?
Growth Industry: The CEO of Unilever says the global crisis in food production is reaching "dangerous territory" with prices soaring and demand outstripping supply. He points out that EU and US “market distortions” work against the needs of the developing world, cites bio-fuel subsidies as harmful, and feels we must adopt sustainable models of agriculture. Unilever is one of the world's largest food producers.
Speed Kills: If we continue burning fossil fuels at our ever increasing rate, atmospheric CO2 will jump from the current 390 ppm to over 1000 by 2100. This will – over time – increase the global temperature by some 29ºF, which will make large parts of the earth uninhabitable by humans for thousands of years. The temperature rise will be much faster than many (most?) species will be able to adapt to.
Shocked: Paul Krugman, reprising the role of Captain Renault, is shocked to discover the GOP's political programs are illogical, and that they say things just to get elected and then do whatever their masters tell them to do. Wait until he finds out about a guy named Obama and the Democrats.