We are addicted to simple solutions.
Teaching Point: The euro-zone bailout of Greece is a misnomer – it is a bailout of European banks. Opposition to Papandreou's plan to accept Germany's terms for surrender is growing and is unlikely to survive next weeks vote. But the EU has tied further support to the Greeks adopting “contentious” austerity measures. But the populace understands that it is unfair for the poor to suffer so European bankers can get paid, and if the austerity measures do pass “society will explode”. It does not matter; eventually Greece will default and the euro-zone collapse, but not until a few of the chosen get their new Greek Island playtoys.
Water Is Wet: A majority of real estate experts (that's generally someone who wants to sell you a house) believe that house prices will bottom in
2009, 2010, 2011.
Aqua Naturale: Italian voters have been negative of late. They voted not to re-establish a nuclear power program. They voted not to grant Berlusconi immunity from prosecution. And they most emphatically (96% against) voted not to let the government privatize their water supply systems.
Don't Just Do something, Sit There! The latest CBO analysis of the government debt problem shows that if Congress would only sit on their hands and Do Nothing about the problem, the problem would go away. But politicians want to Do Things, so they will do the wrong things (extend the Bush tax cuts ad infinitum, pay doctors more for Medicare patients), and make things generally worse.
Inconvenient Datum: Medicare spending has risen less than premiums on private health insurance.
Austerity is as Austerity Does: The British government wants to increase the retirement age from 60 to 66, to recalculate how they calculate pensions and to increase contributions by 3.2%. Work longer, pay more, get less. Ah, did you see where their labor unions are planning the biggest wave of strikes since before the Great Depression? Similar strikes have occurred (and continue) in every European country that has tried to impose severe austerity programs – like those planned for the US.
Horses... Mouth? According to the Fed, there has been “no change in the economy” and things are getting better at a
glacial “moderate” rate. Very moderate.
Step This Way: Unless you've been unlucky enough to have been assaulted by them, you are probably unaware that TSA
fondlers screeners slip away from airports from time to time and descend on train stations, bus stations, ferries, subways and even the San Diego trolley system, seeking ways to upset ever more Americans while wasting taxpayer money. The invasions of privacy will continue. Wear clean underwear.
Repeated: A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms that the current raise in seal levels along the US Atlantic cost exceeds any rise in the last 2,000 years and shows a consistent link to global warming.
Rear View Mirror: How'd we get here? Greatly it is a moral, not an economic problem. Our current levels of inequality are a moral problem, not an economic one. We've lost our way and the social norms that made us US have been trampled by individual greed and mass delusion.
Degrees of Difference? Republicans claim that their moral crusade to
cut the size of government reduce the deficit will (somehow, magically) create jobs. How is it that a company building a new office creates jobs while the government hiring people to repair our infrastructure doesn't? Why does it create jobs when a company buys new computers, but destroys job growth when the government buys new computers? How many fewer angels can dance on the head of a pin if government stimulus money buys it?
Porn O'Graph: A little in the red.