Thursday, March 10, 2011

SAR #11069

Word for the Day: Eschaton, which refers to the end of the present world.

Just As You Suspected: Do not get excited about the bull market being two years old. Unless you bought at the bottom and have made back what you lost. For the rest of us, the Dow is a sideshow, having absolutely nothing to do with reality. There's no job growth. No consumer spending growth. The top 5% are doing okay thought; they make up 35% of the nation's spending. The rest of us – the other 95% - are trying to figure out how to pay for the gasoline to go to the store for increasingly expensive food.

Deeds, Not Words: Saudi Arabia did not increase oil production between 2005 and 2008 while tight supplies drove the price to nearly $150 a barrel. If the Saudis weren't able or willing to supply the market then, why expect they will (or could) now, for 30% less?

Apples & Oranges: If you count Social Security as “wages” and Medicare payments as “salaries”, then 35% the nation's wages and salaries are made up of these “social welfare benefits”. Usual prize for identifying the tomfoolery behind this view of life.

Mystery Guest: We're back to claiming that 'speculators' are driving up the price of oil, with outstanding futures contracts for more than six times the amount of oil that can be held at the WTI terminal in Cushing, OK. Question, isn't there both a buyer and a seller for each of those contracts? Which one is the speculator, the one who profits if oil goes up or the one who profits if the price of oil goes down?

Faint Praise: All is well in the PIGGY states. Portugal was able to sell its latest bonds. But only at 5.99% interest, up from 4% the last time out.

Counting Down: We start with night sticks and water cannon in Bahrain. Egypt looks to relapse. Libya is burning down its oil infrastructure. Kuwait has discovered politics. Saudi Arabia is upset about a 'day of rage'. Yemen is still shooting citizens. Is Iran a candidate?

Facts in a Row: . State and local governments are struggling to balance their budgets. The Republicans say it is all the fault of public unions, especially teachers. New Jersey's pension problems exist because the state failed to make 13 of its last 17 payments to the fund. The politicians stole the money and now blame the employees. In Wisconsin the overpaid state workers are paid roughly (total compensation) 5% less than private sector workers. The much maligned Wisconsin union pension system is – despite what the GOP claims – very healthy and not a threat to the states budget.

If, Then: It seems that as much as 40% of the Pentagon's budget is “black,” - a secret hidden from the public and most of Congress. Conspiracy theory or modern democracy?

Fantasy Island: The UN put out a charmingly data-free dream of a better world, 9 billion happy organic farmers working their little plots. Of course it presumes massive infrastructure expenditures for roads, energy, electrification... and introduces the word 'Agroecology', which seems to mean 'farming the way I think you should do it.'

Data Point: 54% of Americans support legal abortion, only 42% oppose. The noise is just political hogwash.

It's Only Make-Believe: Demand is growing for "synthetic" financial instruments that let investors bet on junk bonds without either owning the bonds or having enough money to buy them. Can you say “synthetic CDS”? Should you have to?

Old Question: How law abiding will you be on the third day you cannot find food for your family? How long before you become Jean Valjean? How many lampposts are there in lower Manhattan?

Porn O'Graph: Going broke is back!


rjs said...

kash @ angry bear already did a takedown on apples & oranges:

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

re Eschaton and if, then...

the article from Foreign Policy Journal about various surprising coincidences connected with 9/11/2001 (the day which has an excellent claim to be the end of the world as we knew it) is on the same site as one titled "An 8 year war built on lies - but when did the lying begin?"

A commenter on the latter piece brings up the issue of cui bono - for whose benefit? The commenter states, in part,

"Not only was Iraq not involved in 9-11, muslims did not do 9-11 according to respected author and researcher David Ray Griffin. Many already have connected the dots as to who the prime suspects are for having committed 9-11. The biggest clue, in my view, as to who did it is the complicit mass media and Hollywood who have parroted the official lies of 9-11. We dare not speak of the real perpetrators of 9-11, lest we be attacked and ridiculed as a trick to distract from their lies of Biblical proportions." [emphasis added by me]

I dare not speak either. But I do dare to mention the names of authors like Mearsheimer and Walt. A wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse.

Anonymous said...

Fantasy Island:

Surprising that in a supposed Peak Oil World, it still makes sense to some people to ship "food" (some of it is just industrialised, processed, non-nutritional quasi-food) thousands of miles. Of course, they also advocate growing this "food" with petrochemical derived pollutants, some of them known carcinogens.

Others suggest it is time to look for a new system and even now grow or buy their food outside of Big Agri. One of the very commonsensical concepts is to grow the food near where it is to be consumed starting with one's own backyard.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

I very much suspect that feeding the multitudes has a number of necessary solutions. One, smaller multitudes. Two, locally produced crops (and home grown, too). Three, spreading bio-engineered varieties inexpensively throughout the improvised nations of Africa. And so on. Certainly shipping food 10,000 miles is a suspect activity, but shipping knowledge, access and information that far can only help.

And yes, the profit motive gets in the way of paradise, again.


rjs said...

top ten crops (8 grains & 2 beans) take up about 5/8 of arable land

corn is the largest crop, mostly used for fuel & animal feed..

corn @ 150 bu/acre = 4 tons / acre

cabbage or potato yields could be 20 tons/acre, tomatoes only slightly less...

it's pretty clear that substantially more people could be fed with intensive gardening, rather than growing grain...

kwark said...

rjs - Corn mostly gets a bad rap because of the abuses of corporate agriculture. Corn is a great small-scale crop, easily grown with little care, productive, and easily taken from ear to plate. Grown with compatible squash and beans (for example) the returns in food quantity and quality are high. I think it's more about HOW we grow what we grow and obtaining a diversity of good quality food not just maximizing carbohydrate production per acre. I like cabbage (and grow it) but I certainly don't want to make a steady diet of it!

rjs said...

kwark, i have no problem with growing sweet corn, i'd grow it myself if i could keep the critters out; i was just doing the exercise with typical field corn yields to demonstrate that more could be fed on that land that's now used for livestock food & ethanol...

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

Comments re food:

Population forecasts assume adequate food availability between now and then. Circumstances may well prevent the expected growth. Restricted supply now inevitably results in restricted demand later.

One relatively humane way of reducing demand is to reduce intermediation - eating plants, instead of eating animals that have been fed the plants that people could have eaten. Beef production may move back to a primarily grass-fed mode, also.