Monday, August 24, 2009

SAR #9236

We're nearing the end of Eat, Drink and Be Merry.

Down, then Out: Pemex reports Mexico's July oil output fell 7.8% y/y to 2.56 mbd, while Cantrell – eighth largest oilfield ever discovered – dropped to 588,210 barrels a day, down 41% from a year before. Mexican production has fallen every month since July 2006. Exports to the US are down 33% y/y. This is peak oil on steroids.

Election Day: Report from the poppy fields.

Democracy Inaction: Why does the fate of health care depend on the whims of six Senators who together represent 2.6% of the American people, when Obama's side has 57 votes without any of these guys and over 70% of the people want health care reform?

Lukewarm: The ocean off Maine is 72ºF this summer, and off Ocean City, MD it's 88ºF. The world's oceans are at an all time high – an average of 62.6ºF, over a full degree warmer than the 20th Century average. Near the Arctic, water temps are 10ºF over average. It takes a lot of heat over a long time to do that.

Then & Now: The last time US unemployment was this high, we built the Interstate Highway system. This time around we bought cars to drive around on them.

Foggy, Foggy: Never mind that millions are running out of jobless benefits, millions more will lose their homes in the coming months, states see tax receipts drying up, and that teachers are being laid off – by economists' standards the recession is over. Best not put it to a vote.

Contaminants: You can run fish but you can't hide. All of the fish sampled from 300 streams around the US were found to be contaminated with mercury. Another study found that 92% of all US currency is contaminated with cocaine. Price of admission.

Priorities: Isn't there something wrong with a society that spends $216,000 a year to incarcerate a kid but less than $8,000 to send him to public school?

Mascot: The Republicans should bring back Nancy Reagan – the perfect symbol for the “Just say No!” approach they've adopted.

Fantasy Numbers: In the next few years the Social Security program will bring in less money than it will pay out. So? Why is Social Security a separate item when the Defense Department isn't? Why are there separate taxes for Medicare and Social Security, but not for the Air Force? Taxes are taxes and government spending is government spending. Certainly the government has happily been spending lots and lots of money taken in from Social Security on things like wars. Turn about's fair play.

By the Numbers: In the first great depression there was no branch banking. If branches were counted as the equivalent of 1930's free-standing banks, we've closed over 3,600 so far this year.

Meanwhile: If recovery depends on consumer spending, then it'll be delayed a bit. US Personal Income has taken its worst annual decline since 1950. Until the US median wage improves relative to the cost of living, there will be no recovery.

With A Straight Face: The administration now says the 10-year deficit will be $9 trillion, up from $7 trillion. Monopoly money.

Drill, Baby Drill: From a peak in 2001, through the era of $141 a barrel, the number of rigs drilling off-shore has consistently fallen. Could it be that even at over $100 a barrel the oil companies didn't have places to drill? And as drilling falls off, can production be far behind? Yet the EIA predicts a large rise in off-shore production...

Numb-ers: If the 40% of the $10.1 trillion in mortgages that are underwater are only 10% underwater, that's a trillion dollars missing from the pot.

Porn O'Graph: In Comes before Out goes.


Unknown said...

Oy, sometimes your comments make me laugh about things I shouldn't laugh about. Tragedy really is comedy.

Bill said...

Democracy Inaction: I hate to break the news to you, but we don't have a democracy; rather, the US is a democratic Republic. There's a big difference. I'm surprised that Reich "doesn't get it." And how many folks does he think had a hand in drafting the House bill? Not many.

Either Robert suddenly got stupid or he purposely wrote a disingenuous article to fan the flames of ignorance. I'm betting on the latter.

Politics is compromise.

Keith Hazelton Anecdotal Economist said...

Re: Contaminants...

From the linked article: The main source of mercury to most of the streams tested, according to the researchers, is , "emissions from coal-fired power plants."

So if we burn as much coal as possible to keep the lights on, we'll become human thermometers if we keep eating fish.

On the other hand, if we stop burning coal, mercury-free fish will be really tasty cooked over a wood fire, but it would be more difficult to read SAR by candlelight if there's no electricity.

Land sakes, what's a body to do? Say, what if we could generate electricity from the power of the sun or the wind or little atoms bumping into each other?

Just a thought...

Bill said...

Fantasy Numbers: Why is Social Security a separate item when the Defense Department isn't? Why are there separate taxes for Medicare and Social Security, but not for the Air Force?

You've got to be kidding! Either that or you need to read up on how to run a business. So do our career politicians.

Pay-as-you-go post-retirement benefit plans are not only irresponsible ponzi schemes, they are also illegal except for the federal government.

Here's a better question: How did Social Security become such a problem?

In early 1968, President Lyndon Johnson made a change in the budget presentation by including Social Security and all other trust funds in a “unified budget.”

Social Security’s Trust Fund, instead of being a separate, untouchable stash of cash and investments (i.e., instead of being run like a normal pension plan), became money that the rest of the government could raid.

This fiscal sleight-of-hand didn’t matter much until the mid-1980s; the net Social Security surplus from 1968-1985 was only about $3 billion. But the system’s surpluses exploded after that as the Baby Boomers entered their prime earning years.

What have the politicians in Washington done with those surpluses? They’ve spent them, by continually borrowing from Social Security’s “Trust Fund.”

By including Social Security in a “unified” budget and raiding its surpluses, Uncle Sam has been able to paper over typically huge deficits in all other government operations. For example, in fiscal 2007, the government’s operational (“on-budget”) deficit was $343.4 billion; but after netting in the Social Security surplus and the Postal Service, it “officially” reported a deficit of $162 billion.

This situation has been allowed to continue through Republican and Democratic administrations, with the acquiescence of Republican and Democratic Congresses, for 40+ years. This demonstrates the breathtaking irresponsibility of our political class.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Bill - You (intentionally, I suspect) miss my point completely. Social Security has always been a transfer payment system. Is not, was then. It is something the US government is going to do - support old folks - and they are going to do it by taxation. It is simply another thing, like education, national defense, and the CDC that the G is going to fund. With tax money.

If it was looked at that way - and included in the tax system as just part of the taxes we all pay - just like the money that goes to blow up Pakistani weddings - and forget all the horseshit about it being a retirement pension actuarial boondogle with unfunded obligations - we could simply look at the transfers, means test it, and go on with the show.

We might have to cut down on the money we shovel into DOD, but so?

We are going to support the old, at least those who really need it, and we are going to tax folks to get the money to do so. Forget the rest of the ho-ha; it's just noise.

Bill said...

The Anecdotal Economist said...

I second that! Here we are, moving to electric cars, and we have no nuclear power strategy and a self-proclaimed communist as our green jobs czar.

God help us!

Bill said...

CK, SS and Medicare should be funded responsibly, especially given the regressive taxes that supposedly fund SS.

Regarding DOD, I strongly believe that all wars, especially wars of choice should be funded via additional taxes. The US used to do this.

kwark said...

RE "Lukewarm": 7 comments and not one from a card-carrying member of the "global warming is a scam" deniers guild. I'm shocked. I mean I was COUNTING on at least one meaningless factoid or pointless ad hominem attack.

K Ackermann said...

If you want to see a hilarious video, this Robert Greenwald video about Afghanistan is good for a laugh a minute.

My favorite joke is when Petraeus agrees that Al Qaida is no longer in Afghanistan.

I find that hilarious, to have a whole army once again in the wrong country. There are a ton of other jokes, such as the people of Afghanistan are starting to hate Americans because we keep killing their children and goat herders.

One part that really is funny is an Afghan lecturing the US military on the proper way to wage war over there.