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November 29, 2011

DOOM: Tied to the whipping post


PSA: Appy-polly-loggies for the DOOM-less Monday. Real life presented some small-scale DOOM that kept me from fulfilling my Ace of Spades duties. I denounce myself.

AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, has filed for bankruptcy.

The most terrifying chart-fu yet.

Steyn: “More, more, more”. That might was well be the theme song of the Democrat Party.

The problem is not with a fundamentally broken banking sector. No, the problem is with...stupid investors, apparently. This story just underscores the problem with the mindset of many financial people: they underestimate the role human psychology plays in the markets. When you get right down to it, human behavior is all that matters in economics, because economics is just people doing what people do.

Michael Barone: blame entitlements, not tax cuts, for the wealth gap.

Personally, I dislike the whole “wealth gap” argument. In a country where the poorest people can afford iPods, video game machines, cars, refrigerators, flat-screen TV’s, plenty of food, and a roof over their heads, then the “gap” is nothing compared to most of human history. A poor man can now buy and own things that kings and emperors of ages past couldn’t have bought for all the wealth in the land. Poor people have access to healthcare that a hundred years ago would not have been available even to the President of the United States. To me, it’s like saying that a millionaire is poor because his neighbor is a billionaire. This whole thing is really just a hoary old Democrat chestnut: class envy.

In Japan, unemployment is a bigger problem than many people realize.

Are we all really expendable? I don’t think so, but my quibble is with the word "expendable". A person's worth to the world is composed of more than their productive output. I do think that we’re going to have to sit down as a nation and really think about what kind of society we want. Work is starting to mean something very different than it has meant in the past -- in both good and bad ways. You can now “make a living” with comparatively little effort and time investment compared with most of human history. But it’s socially very expensive to have a lot of unproductive people around, especially in a vast welfare state like ours. It’s unsustainable to keep transferring wealth from the productive to the unproductive.

Liberal tool Michael Hiltzik spends a lot of words trying to explain how the welfare state can be kept on a paying basis by jacking up taxes, and still completely fails to make the case.

The Democrats are running the same “class warfare” shtick as they did during the Carter era, and with pretty much the same results.

The Eurozone has been on the “edge of a crisis” for more than a year now, but the hammer seems to be ready to fall soon. The Eurozone problem was dogged by two interrelated pieces of European folly: one, a badly-designed monetary union; and two, a deeply undemocratic process that put the wishes of the citizens behind those of the bureaucrats. America’s monetary union works in part because America's federal system of sovereign states compromise an actual nation. America is a single political entity in a way that “Europe” is not, and never will be. The only way a “United States of Europe” is going to come about is over the strenuous objections of the citizens, and such a union would probably cause more long-term problems than it would solve. Expending this much effort, treasure, and national will on a failed vanity project is yet another indication of the arrogance and incompetence that has characterized the Euro project from the very start.

The Eurozone’s presumed savior (and engine of future growth) is Germany...and Germany is starting to show some strains itself.

Greece’s role in the Eurozone drama now playing out? A combination of scapegoat and sacrificial lamb.

The main problem with Greece -- and Portugal, and Spain, and maybe Italy -- is that they have no realistic prospects for growth. They will be money-sinks forever, and the Germans know this. From the PIIGS perspective, the whole point of the Eurozone was to get German and Scandinavian money flowing south -- but the Germans are feeling cheated, because they assumed that the Med countries would commit to being more productive like their northern neighbors. Not so much, as it turns out.

If the Eurozone is to avoid chaotic collapse, the governments are going to have to show more political and economic skill than they’ve shown so far. I personally think the Eurozone’s failure is almost certain at this point -- oh, they may whittle it down some, or split it in two, but ultimately the whole thing will collapse. I think at this point the best possible outcome will be a return to the national currencies (though that certainly will not be a pain-free solution either).

More on the looming collapse of the Eurozone: "The death of a currency". There is no happy ending to this story.

Teh Krugman wants your money. Fork it over, Moneybags.

Do those OWS hippies have more than armpit-funk up their sleeves? I must say I’d be more worried if the bulk of them weren’t so obviously cretinous coddled turds.

The “consumer brigade” turned out on Black Friday, but it remains to be seen how the spending shapes up. Did consumers spring for big-ticket items or the smaller stuff? Was most of it done with cash, or credit? Did the retailers have to discount too deeply to draw customers?

Baby Boomers are having to delay retirement and reform their spendthrift ways.

I don’t favor physical labor for nonagenarians, but having more people work longer in life is not a bad thing — for the country or for the people themselves. Many of our nation’s economic problems could be solved by getting more people to work later in life. This is no terrible injustice; many people now remain in school well into their twenties — two generations ago many entered the workforce at sixteen. Paying for ten extra years of school when young with ten extra years of work at the end of life seems like a fair bargain. Changes in the American economy and the shift away from manual labor have made this bargain more attractive still. While it would be wrong to expect workers to continue to perform backbreaking labor in their late seventies, America’s economy is becoming increasingly service-based and much of our work can be done part time and from home.

It turns out that taking a 20 or 30-year vacation after you turn 65 isn’t economically sustainable. Who knew?

We need to invest in our infrastructure, but we’re broke. So where do we go for the money to improve our roads and bridges? Why...the Chinese, silly!

Assuming “priceless” economic consequences is a fallacy that even economists can fall into. Remember, pricing is a market mechanism to handle scarcity. It’s not an absolute measure, or a frictionless one. What’s the fair “price” of a good or service? Whatever the market will bear...or whatever the buyer and seller can agree on.

Warwick, RI: 92.5% of all new revenue in the last decade went to benefits for public-sector employees. Sooner or later the taxpayers are going to get fed up with this abuse.

Gimme a minute while I frag this gate-camping d-bag.

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posted by Monty at 08:47 AM

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