fogbound.net




Page 1 of 41234

Mon, 7 Oct 2013

Dear Mr. Speaker

— SjG @ 8:02 pm

Dear Speaker Boerner,

I had thought that the current shutdown was simply obstructionism and petulance over the recent elections, but now I’m beginning to understand. You have realized that the hijacking of the Republican party by mad ideologues is untenable, and, for the good of the country, are euthanizing the party. It’s a good plan. At least you will leave a legacy of having taken decisive action, and putting the interests of the American People above petty politics. I congratulate you on your resolve.

Sincerely,
Samuel


Thu, 24 Jan 2013

Conspiracy Theory

— SjG @ 9:58 pm

I don’t get these people who think Sandy Hook was a evil conspiracy on the part of Obama to take away their guns.

Clearly they didn’t listen to Henry Peterson, when he said “Follow the money, Earl, because that’s where it’s going to be.”

Anecdotally, after Sandy Hook (and Aurora, and … and …) gun sales were up significantly, as were NRA memberships, and ammo supplies have been slammed worse than they’ve been since the months immediately after the 2008 election1.

If there’s any conspiracy2, I’d be looking at the armaments industry, not at the President.

But then again, I prefer Occam’s razor to his bayonet.

1 Remember how, even well into 2010, it was nearly impossible to find .380ACP?
2 There isn’t. Let’s face it. We’re a violent culture, and an alienating culture. A lot of people are not only alienated, but depressed. Some people are mentally ill. Some are medicated. Some snap. There’s no conspiracy; it’s a structural problem.


Thu, 11 Oct 2012

Perplexing

— SjG @ 8:40 pm

I have to admit, this latest presidential election has me perplexed1. Why is there even a contest? The Democrats love Obama, and the Republicans should too. After all, the Obama administration is the apotheosis of traditional supply-side GOP ideals — a Republican wet dream. “Wait. What?” I hear you say. Turn off the partisan filters for a moment, and consider the following facts:

  • Corporate profits are at an all-time high.2
  • CEO salaries are the highest ever.3
  • Wall Street salaries are close to the highest they’ve ever been.4
  • The Stock Market is within a few percent of its all-time high.5
  • Interest rates are the lowest on record.6
  • Corporate Taxes are at the lowest effective rate ever (recording begun in 1947).7
  • Tax rate for highest earners is the lowest it’s been since 1931.8
  • The US Defense budget is at an all-time high.9
  • There are more deportations of illegal immigrants than ever.10
  • More terrorists / enemy militants killed per year than ever before11

So, given this list, why is the current administration so hated by the American Right and so loved by the American Left? We have, in essence, a pitched battle between two symbols, which we choose to take at face value. Never mind that the actuality is nothing like what it says on the label12.

1 OK, not really. But the phrase works better, rhetorically. This entire posting should be considered in that light.

2“Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low”, Business Insider Magazine, 22 June 2012.
US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

3“Historical Trends in Executive Compensation” (PDF), 1936-2003, Carola Frydman and Raven E. Saks, November 15, 2005.
“C.E.O. Pay Is Rising Despite the Din,” NY Times, 16 June 2012.
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics survey for 2001-2010.

4“Wall Street Pay: A Record $144 Billion, Financial Overhaul Has Affected Structure but Not Level; Revenue-to-Compensation Ratio Stays Flat”, Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2010.
“The Giant Pay Gap Between Wall Street And Everyone Else Isn’t Going Anywhere”, Business Insider Magazine, October 10, 2012.

5The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 13,494.6 on 3 Oct 2012, the all time high was 14,164.53, so it’s only 4.8% down from the highest it’s ever been. The S&P 500 was 1,450.99 on 3 Oct 2012, the all time high was 1,576.09, so that’s a bigger gap, but it’s still only 8% down from the all-time high.

6“Mortgage rates now below even lows of early 1950s”, Associated Press, 30 Sept 2011.
National Bureau of Economic Research, Macrohistory: Interest Rates.

7St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, FRED® Economic Data, “Graph: Federal Government: Tax Receipts on Corporate Income (FCTAX)/(Corporate Profits After Tax (CP)+Federal Government: Tax Receipts on Corporate Income (FCTAX))”

8Historical Top Tax Rate, Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

9Government Printing Office, Budgets
US Census Bureau historical records

10“President’s Approval Rating Drops, but He Leads 2012 Rivals. As Deportations Rise to Record Levels, Most Latinos Oppose Obama’s Policy” PEW research, 28 Dec 2011.
Numbers may have been inflated by changes in how they’re counted; even so, deportations are still higher than Bush numbers. “Deportation statistics said to be inflated”, Washington Times, 23 August 2012

11“The Year of the Drone. An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2012” New America Foundation

12And just so you don’t think I’m picking on the Democrats alone, I only point out the one side as it’d take a whole additional posting to show that the Republicans are the “spend and borrow” party, etc.


Thu, 4 Feb 2010

Life in the Big City

— SjG @ 10:38 pm

Sometimes, I think I just ought to move out to the peaceful countryside… City life can be disconcerting.


Thu, 2 Apr 2009

Big Numbers

— SjG @ 1:19 pm

There are 1011 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.

— Richard Feynman
US educator & physicist (1918 – 1988)

A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars — billions upon billions of stars.

— Carl Sagan
Astronomer, author, & media personality (1934 – 1996)

Even though Wikipedia claims 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way, Feynman’s number varies by only a couple factors of two.

Now:
According to Oxfam, there has been $8.4 Trillion spent on bailouts. So, call that about US $21/star in the Milky Way. That’s a lot of money.

Oh, but doesn’t stop there. According to the Office of the Comptroller, the “notional value of derivatives held by U.S. commercial banks” is around $200.4 trillion. So call that US $500/star in the Milky Way.

As has been widely reported, DK Matai, the Chairman of the ACTA Open, has published that the outstanding value of the derivative market worldwide is US $1.1 Quadrillion. That’s a cool US $2,750/per star in the Milky Way galaxy.


Page 1 of 41234