Monday, October 31, 2011

As Expected ...

Herman Cain has now been predictably accused of sexual harassment ... see: Politico.  I wonder if this has anything to do with a pubic hair on a Coke can?

(For those of you too young to understand this reference, here is the connection: Anita Hill's Accusation.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Population Bomb

The United Nations Population Fund has stated that the population of the world will hit seven billion people this coming week, see: U.N. Prediction.  Now this seems like a bodacious number and, I'm sure, will bring many Malthusians out of the woodwork with their hair on fire ... predicting the end of everything.  May I suggest that you, dear readers, follow the Clintonians' advice and "step back and take a deep breath." 

This is really not as many people as one might think.  There has been some analyses that put this number into more rational perspectives.  See a little older analysis: and a much better newer one: Detailed Analysis.  Both these studies indicate that the world's population could relatively easily reside inside Texas with enough room to move around (not counting food production and water availability.)  I have also heard two other comparisons that I have not yet found detailed on the Internet, but I believe to be somewhat factual: 1) all the world's population could be crowded (ala a New York subway car) onto the area the size of Cape Cod and Nantucket, and 2) this same population, if stacked like cord wood would fill something like a mile of the Grand Canyon.

I think that these images place this seven-billion-person world population figure into a less frenetic perspective.  More interestingly, one can also think of this "population bomb" in terms of "biomass" (see: Biomass Definition).  It is estimated that the total human biomass is 250 to 450 million tons (see: Democratic Underground and Google Reference).  This is maybe less than one percent of the total biomass of the world (an estimated 44 billion tons) ... whereas termites, by themselves, represent about an astounding 17% of the world's biomass!

I hope that these numbers will allow you worrywarts out there to now rest easier.

ADDENDA: Read what some countries have done to control their populations: Powerline Part1 and Part 2

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Flea Party

Rhymes with "Tea Party."  I think that this appellation is attributed to Ann Coulter.  She is referring to the "Occupiers" of course.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble"

There are a variety of gripes being voiced by the "Occupiers" of Wall Street and other cities ... from "millionaires are evil" to "legalize pot now."  However, there is one complaint that has merit and deserves some focus: "I owe $50,000 [or much more] on my college loans and I can't find a job to begin paying it back."  It is estimated that there are now close to one trillion dollars of college loans outstanding.  This is a particularly onerous burden for such graduates who majored in gender of other hyphenated studies and are all vying for the only jobs they are realistically qualified for -- that of teaching gender and other hyphenated studies courses.  And the entity that they owe this money to is (drum roll please) the federal government ... since The Barry has nationalized almost the entire student-loan industry.  Therefore, a good many of these demonstrators unknowingly hate the very one they love.

The real reason that there is this financial dislocation is that colleges and universities have, for years, been increasing tuitions and fees far beyond the rate of inflation.  And the reason that they have been able to do this is that the federal government has insinuated itself into the economics of this industry with numerous grants, student loan guarantees, and a drumbeat about the importance of a college education.  (Ignoring the fact that neither Bill Gates nor Steve Jobs completed college.)  Somehow, like in the health care industry, whenever the federal government meddles in things, inflation rates there go haywire.

And what have these higher-education institutions been doing with all this largess?  The have bloated up their administrations with Deans of Diversity (kind of like the job Michelle Obama had in Chicago), Directors of Sustainability, etc. ... and their pampered staffs ... as well as numerous professors of gender and other hyphenated studies.  In my opinion, this is the next bubble that is about to be pricked by the exigencies of today's economic situation.  It is difficult to imagine that all the brilliant minds in almost all of these pedagogical institutions don't realize the precariousness of their situation  ... and start shedding administrative and hyphenated professorial staffs so that they might freeze or even reduce tuitions (Princeton possibly being the small exception.)

And, when this bubble does burst, may I make a prediction?  Instead of stepping out of the way and allowing an educational-industry normalcy to get re-established, the federal government will insert itself even further to prop up this silly situation ... with something like TARP II.  Will we never learn that capitalism has its own self-healing mechanisms?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Arabs Spring

Last night on TV, I watched a Youtube video of Egyptian military vehicles turning into crowds and purposely running over Coptic Christians who, two days ago, were demonstrating in the streets of Cairo (see: Telegraph Article and Youtube Video).  These reportedly peaceful demonstrations had been organized to object to the Egyptian government's autistic response to the numerous burnings of Egyptian Christian churches by Islamic extremists.  Reports indicate that as many as 25 Coptics were therein killed by this and related Egyptian army savagery.  Indicating the seriousness of these events, Egypt's Deputy Prime Minister has resigned in protest (see: NY Times Article.)

Equally outraged, The Barry requested and went on prime-time television last night to denounce in very strong terms the purposeful martyring of these Coptic Christians.  Oops, he didn't?  Never mind ...

Friday, October 07, 2011

Yuan for the Money, Two for the Show ...

The conventional thinking is that free trade is good and protectionism, through higher imposed tariffs, is bad.  It was the Smoot-Hawley protectionist-trade bill that is thought to have contributed the Great Depression in 1930 as trade wars then became the order of the day and economic growth slowed around the world (see: The Economist Article).
Now the United States is contemplating imposing tariffs on certain Chinese goods in retaliation for China not allowing its currency, the yuan, to float (allowing world currency markets to determine its value as opposed to China itself pegging an artificially low yuan-to-dollar rate.)  It is thought that China keeps its currency at 20-30% below fair market value in order to subsidize its exports and discourage imports.  In other words, such manipulation amounts to a virtual tariff and many politicians in the United States now believe that it is time to bring things back into balance with selective U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.  A bipartisan Senate bill that so does should be voted on today ... see: Expected Senate Vote.  China has threatened to retaliate (see: China's Threat) and this has caused some politicians, particularly John Boehner in the House, to speak out against taking such an protectionist action.  President Obama is noticeably absent in this kerfuffle (see: Wall Street Journal Article) since staking a claim on either side doesn't seem to help his reelection chances.

Whatever the results of this action against China in the U.S. Congress may be (my prediction, it will eventually pass), I believe that China's bark will be worse than its bite.  One has to only look at the recent trade numbers (see:  Trade Balances with China) to see that, if a full-fledged trade war does break out, China would be far worse off than the United States in terms of its balance of payments.  Yes, U.S. domestic economic activity may turn down in the short term, but, longer-term, there should be much benefit to be gained for U.S. industries.  However, since the United States is the major buyer of China-made goods, an industrial production  turn-down there would likely cause great social unrest ... a situation that Chinese leadership might find difficult to damp down.  Already, there are predictions of such Chinese economic dislocations independent of protectionism actions on the part of the U.S. Congress ... see CNBC Comments.

Possible investment consequences might well be: a further deflation in world-wide commodity prices, an inflation in consumer goods prices in the U.S., and an increase in interest rates on U.S. government securities (if China starts dumping its holdings).  Also, holding onto the stocks of Walmart, Best Buy, etc. might not be a great idea.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


How can we have an Attorney General who lies to Congress?  See: Fast and Furious.

Or an Energy Secretary who gives billions of unvetted dollars to the Administration's friends?

Or, for that matter, how can we have a Treasury Secretary who cheats on his income taxes?

(You fill in the other blanks ...)

The Barry's cabinet is as fetid as a Calcutta garbage dump.

(And who knows what all those czars are up to?)

Underdog to the Rescue

"There's no need to fear ...  Underdog is here!"  See: The ABC Interview.

Apparently, an Obama transmogrification is the order of the day.  Things are so far down, they look like up. Admit that re-election prospects suck, you've screwed up big time, and play for the sympathy vote in the 2012 election.  It just might work ... considering that the weepy females in this country helped elect Obama in 2008.  Such a strategy blunts the ability of his opponent to attack him in the debates next year.  He can just play the rope-a-dope and look put-upon to counter such obvious rhetorical parries ... kind of like what Hillary Clinton did when she ran for Senator.  Remember when Rick Lazio confronted her on the debate stage?  Many think this Lazio aggression is what won it for her.

The only thing is ... unlike Underdog's alter ego, Shoeshine Boy, I don't think The Barry ever stooped to that level ... but maybe that's next.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Rock

When I was much younger, there was a law in Virginia against sodomy.  In so many words, this law stated that "sodomy is a crime so heinous that it can not be described."  I often humorously imagined what would happen in a courtroom where someone was being tried for this crime.  What evidence could be produced?  How would the defendant counter such a nebulous charge?  What would the judge's instructions to the jury contain?  And how would such a convicted defendant feel spending years in the slammer without any specifics ever having been given at trial? 

I was reminded of this enigma this morning watching Morning Joe where there was an allusion to a word on a rock at the entry leading in to a Texan hunting lodge that Rick Perry had used/rented/owned.  No one on this TV show would describe what was on this rock except to decry it and, in hushed tones, say that it could not be specified.  So I had to wait until I read the Powerline blog later in the AM.  Here's where I found what I couldn't hear on Morning Joe -- The Rock.  I'm not writing this blog entry to defend Rick Perry.  You will have to judge this for yourself after reading all the various spins on this "indescribable incident" ... but rather to indicate how amused I am by the lexical temerity of those who are usually so outspoken on Morning Joe.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Breaking Wind

Billions for green energy, not one cent for nuclear ...  Here is a recent Op Ed from the New York Times revealing what the tree huggers are doing to the trees in Vermont ... all to reduce our nation's "carbon footprint" by a teeny weeny fraction of one percent. See: Green Mountaineering.  It's one thing to see huge wind farms on the barren highway passes between LA and Las Vegas, but on an entire ridgeline in Vermont?  Ouch!  And how do these hugely-expensive politically-correct projects get funded?  You guessed it ... mainly by that kindly old man with the billy-goat beard, striped pants, and a cut-away coat.

Have we learned nothing from the failure of the green energy initiatives in Spain? (See: No Gain in Spain.)  Please also read this link that describes an Obama $61 billion slush fund called the Federal Financing Bank ... see: Secret Government Bank.  This revealing reference was given to me by a contributor who also seems worried about how our current government is squandering billions upon billions of dollars on questionable green-energy projects ... none of which so far involves the splitting of an atom.

Afterthought: Here is a list of wind turbine manufactures: Wind Turbines.  Is all this green energy B.S. adding or subtracting from our balance of payments and employment levels?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A Snipe Hunt

Recently I blogged a piece about the International Monetary Fund and, in it, referenced its incredible lack of transparency (see:  Since then I have spent time on the IMF site (see: IMF Site) trying to find out exactly how much money the United States contributes and has contributed to this fund ... and into all the various slush-fund pockets it seems to have?  Ditto for China. Ditto for Russia. Ditto for Germany and France.  Etc.  And I would also like to find out who is lent (given?) this money on a year by year basis from these various slush funds?  And how much of this money has been paid back historically?  And how much has never been paid back?  What interest rates are charged? 

How much does the IMF spend annually for operating expenses?  (The former IMF head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn spent $3,000 per night for the hotel room where he was caught in his peccadilloes.) Specific salaries (I found on the NY Times how much Strauss Kahn was paid.  He made $442,000 per annum with a $79,120 expense account ... see: NY Times Article)?  What does the IMF income statement look like?  How about its balance sheet?  A cash flow statement?  Who has contributed gold to the IMF reserves?  Has much of this gold has been sold or otherwise disposed of?

If any reader out there has a week or so to devote to this snipe hunt on the above referenced web site, I welcome your travails and answers.  Like the U.N. (see: The U.N.) and the World Bank (see: The World Bank), I suspect  that the real meaningful numbers are locked up in New York or Geneva or Washington somewhere where prying eyes such as mine will never find them.  (I just hope that the Congress has access to this data.)  The only thing that these international (unelected) agencies allow us schnooks to see is the mountains of  gibberish and spin provided on their web sites.  They are self-perpetuating bureaucratic mazes whose major function seems to be politically correct arm waving and spending someone else's moolah.  If any U.S. corporation were as opaque as these international organizations, its entire management team would be peeking out from behind bars.