Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good Morning, Good Morning.  At least it is morning and not later today when a nasty winter storm is expected to come in.  As usual we are in an ambiguous area where what we will get (rain, freezing rain, oodles of snow) depends entirely how far north or south the system goes.  We are simply glad that we have nothing to do that will require getting out in it.  We simply hope that we will miss the freezing rain and ice.  We don't really want to test the electric grid the way that in New England got tested last week.  We are also glad we don't live in a smaller town just north of us.  Their electricity goes out when a squirrel sneezes.

On to business.  This is an amusing post I found by way of the latest Tomdispatch.  Econowhiner has a slant Madoff story and makes some very pertinent, snarky comments.  I have just added the site to my bookmarks.  

By the way, the Tomdispatch post that led me to Econowhiner concerned the publishing industry which is facing a melt down that very much resembles that of the auto industry.  Some of my reactions to the story surprised me, avid reader that I have always been.  One was 'well here is another story of economic woes the mainstream media has ignored.'  There have been so many such stories.  But then some of his comments led me to think about my own experience over the last couple of decades.  For better than twenty years I have had Preferred Reader cards at Barnes & Noble or at Waldenbooks or at both simultaneously.  I bought enough in books and magazines to justify the cost of the cards.  Recently, however, the Barnes & Noble card expired (the Waldenbooks card expired several years ago).  I am not renewing because I no longer buy enough books, videos, and magazines to justify the cost of the card.  We stopped buying newspapers over a year ago after several years of buying only the Sunday papers.  We get most of our information on line and the newspapers were redundant.  A decade ago, when I was still a graduate student and teaching at the local community college, I was aghast at the cost of books both those I had to buy and those I assigned for my students.  I am not surprised that publishing is on the ropes along with everything else in this wacky economy.

Robert Reich asks where the democracy is in the plans Bush and Paulson are pushing to use TARP funds to provide the automakers with the $14 billion bridge loan.  Good question. If the House of Representatives, the President and the President-Elect listened to voters, 60% or so of whom (depending on the poll one reads) oppose the bailout, they would have dropped the matter long ago.  But I don't really think that the Senate was listening to voters as a whole when they blocked the measure.  For the most part the plan was derailed by Southern senators whose states are home to foreign automakers production facilities and whose constituents work at those plants. Their pious citing of the free market scriptures is so much self-righteous swill.  There is no democracy on either side.

Rotwang at TPM Cafe has a few cogent points to make on this issue.  By the way, Senator Shelby from Alabama has frequently been referred to as the "Senator from Honda" (or fill in you least favorite foreign automaker) by some of the reporters on CNBC.  At the same time Bush and Co. are trying to convince other countries not to engage in 'beggar thy neighbor' policies the southern Senators are trying to use the power of the Federal government to begger other states in this alleged Union.  And I don't mean UAW here.

And, for those who don't know, I have been very luke warm on the whole notion of bail-outs.  I feel they simply protect inefficient, bloated organizations that should die anyway.  I doubt they will succeed in 'saving' the economy.  I don't think anyone has really defined what 'saving' the economy means.  But, being unemployed now for 15 months (without benefits of any kind) and seeing nothing on the horizon, I absolutely hate the notion of more people unemployed.  Between luke warm and absolutely hate, you all know where I stand.

Here we go again.  Thanks to The Hollywood by way of digg by way of newsfire. Yes, I know it is New York.  And yes, Indiana already has sales tax on things like cell phone service, cable TV service.  But where will it end.  Various states have tried with varying degrees of success to tax internet transactions.  I am always irritated when politicians resort to raising sales taxes.  Those are the most regressive of the taxing schemes.  Those lower on the economic food chain pay more of their incomes on these kinds of taxes than those at the higher end.  Come on, folks.  I know you have a nearly $2 billion deficit to close but how about spreading the pain more fairly.

ABC Nightly News had an interesting little animated feature on the dangers of deflation last night.  Everything makes sense but I have a nasty feeling that deflation has already been stealthily moving in the economy.  On the lower levels especially.  Almost five years ago I worked as an inventory auditor.  I started at $9/hour and left a year later making $9.50.  I know that sounds good until you realize that the hours were incredibly variable.  I had months during that year when I had between 20 and 30 hours for the entire month.  After I left, for two jobs that paid less but offered at least the possibility of more hours, I often looked at the want ads in the paper to see what was available.  I saw listings for my former employer but the new starting wage was only $8/hour.  Soon after that the ads stopped listing the starting pay.  I also saw my employer of that moment hire new employees for much less than I had started at.  Honey, deflation has been here all along.  The media just didn't report on it.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

I agree with you. We in the Rust Belt are far too aware of what's been happening and none of this is exactly a news flash.