Saturday, January 11, 2014

SAR #14011

Things evolve very slowly, except when they don't. 
Gotcha: The Chairman of the RNC thinks the Democrats are only pretending they want to help the poor in order to campaign on the tired old 'rich vs poor' mantra. Okay, let's see the GOP raise the minimum wage, increase food stamp payments, extend employment benefits, increase Social Security, and allocate several tens of billions to job creation programs... Sure.

Interesting: The Obama administration says that Utah's 1,300 same-sex marriages will be honored by the federal government and federal benefits will be extended to them. Apparently there will be no retroactive annulments acknowledged by the feds.

It's Baaack: The development of shale oil and other unconventional fuels in the US has been claimed to 'disprove' the idea of 'peak oil'. It does not. Talk about the perpetual gusher of shale oil is... talk. Mostly on the part of people with a financial interest in the matter. The IEA now says that shale oil may delay the onset of peak oil by a year or so, but only by a year or so. All the increases in shale output must be balanced against declines in the production from conventional sources – those that make up over 95% of the oil on world markets. Long story short, as oil becomes harder to find and more expensive to extract, its cost of production will eventually exceed its value. At that point supply will fail to meet. Sadly, the world's supply of petroleum is not boundless Viola, peak oil. 
Limits: Our greatest challenge is that the earth is finite. That, alone, is sufficient to defeat all our dreams. Worse, we can be very close to those limits without recognizing the problem. Or the danger. 
Get Out Of Jail Free: Wall Street expects it will take the major banks another $50 billion or so to buy off the federal agencies trying to get back some of the losses from MBS peddled by the banks. The six biggest banks paid out nearly $20 billion last year and still pocketed nearly $75 billion, so don't feel too bad for them. The payments will not affect bankster bonuses.

The People's Mansion: For the first time, the majority of Congressmen are millionaires. Any questions?

Terminology: It has never been a war on poverty so much as a war on the poor. On Them. The conservative position – which they've managed to sell to most of America – has always been that every beneficiary of a safety-net program is committing fraud and is really 'a Cadillac-driving welfare queen.' But it is becoming a harder sale because They have turned out to be We, and We are learning that not everyone who needs a little help is a morally unworthy taker. 
Knock, Knock: What do you get when you add 74,000 jobs and force 1.3 million former workers out of the employment pool? 6.7% unemployment! Good one.

Just Say No: By 2017 the British public will get a chance to vote to leave the EU. The Conservatives, of all things, are in favor of staying in the union, so you know who will benefit the most from continuing membership.

Target Acquisition: The timing of the email that started the GW bridge closure suggests that the lane closures were directed not at the mayor of Fort Lee but at state senate Democratic leader Loretta Weinberg (whose district includes Fort Lee) because she was one of 'the animals' (Christie's term) who forced him to withdraw a judicial nominee. As long as he had a good reason.

Another Thing: The nation's health is not just a matter of health insurance or healthcare providers – the health of the population depends on “upstream factors” - lifestyle and environmental factors which depend on factors far beyond the healthcare industry's reach. We know them as social programs, and we spend a lot less on them than countries with less expensive healthcare systems and better outcomes. Huh, you think things like healthy food and decent housing might matter?

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