Monday, April 29, 2013

Economics 101

Here is the situation:
1) There was a downward spiral, businesses were laying off so customers were not spending. This caused businesses to cut back more, which caused customers to cut back more, which caused businesses to cut back more. 
2) Expectation were also in a downward spiral because everyone saw what was happening so they cut back too. 
3) Deflation joined the party as businesses cut prices to try to get customers, so customers decided prices were going down and decided to wait before buying. 
4) Unemoployment caused people to ask for lower wages when they took a job, which put downward pressure on wages, so cutomers were cutting back even more, (go to 1) 

5) Etc., spiraling ever downward. 

In the past, society learned that the way to fix this is for government to step in and “stimulate” the economy by investing in things like infrastructure project, hiring people to fix roads etc., which stopped the spiral. In fact the Obama stimulus reversed the downward spiral. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month until the stimulus kicked in, then after a while we were gaining jobs again 
But then came the Wall Street-backed “austerians” demanding that government cut back instead of stimulate. Wall Street benefits from unemployment because the very wage drop means they pay less for the labor commodity. And they benefit from deflation because people with lots of money gain while people who owe money lose. And the “study” by Reinhart and Rogoff provided an intellectual justification for Wall Street’s demand.
And Paul Krugman:
Let’s start with what may be the most crucial thing to understand: the economy is not like an individual family. 

Families earn what they can, and spend as much as they think prudent; spending and earning opportunities are two different things. In the economy as a whole, however, income and spending are interdependent: my spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If both of us slash spending at the same time, both of our incomes will fall too. 
And that’s what happened after the financial crisis of 2008. Many people suddenly cut spending, either because they chose to or because their creditors forced them to; meanwhile, not many people were able or willing to spend more. The result was a plunge in incomes that also caused a plunge in employment, creating the depression that persists to this day. 

Why did spending plunge? Mainly because of a burst housing bubble and an overhang of private-sector debt — but if you ask me, people talk too much about what went wrong during the boom years and not enough about what we should be doing now. For no matter how lurid the excesses of the past, there’s no good reason that we should pay for them with year after year of mass unemployment. 

So what could we do to reduce unemployment? The answer is, this is a time for above-normal government spending, to sustain the economy until the private sector is willing to spend again. The crucial point is that under current conditions, the government is not, repeat not, in competition with the private sector. Government spending doesn’t divert resources away from private uses; it puts unemployed resources to work. Government borrowing doesn’t crowd out private investment; it mobilizes funds that would otherwise go unused. 

Now, just to be clear, this is not a case for more government spending and larger budget deficits under all circumstances — and the claim that people like me always want bigger deficits is just false. For the economy isn’t always like this — in fact, situations like the one we’re in are fairly rare. By all means let’s try to reduce deficits and bring down government indebtedness once normal conditions return and the economy is no longer depressed. But right now we’re still dealing with the aftermath of a once-in-three-generations financial crisis. This is no time for austerity.
Update: Ezra Klein says: The era of austerity is over (for now)

And .... they're off!

Louisiana Parents Fear Elementary School Cafeteria Scanner Will Implant the Antichrist’s ‘Mark of the Beast’ on Kids’ Hands

Congress: They don't work for you.

Bedbugs in hospitals.

We can blame Chile for deforming the earth.

This PROVES we should let the oil companies build pipelines all over the place and drill and ... oops...

Roundup ... is really really toxic.

Have telemarketing people been calling you more on the phone?

What single gif or picture would you show someone?

Georgie Bush's Great Mulligan.

Teaching Game Theory.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Paul Krugman on George Bush's presidency

Copying his entire article because this needs to be repeated loudly. They are trying to rewrite history. Why should we let them get away with it?
Paul Krugman: 
APRIL 27, 2013, 2:00 PM The Great Degrader 
I’ve been focused on economic policy lately, so I sort of missed the big push to rehabilitate Bush’s image; also, as a premature anti-Bushist who pointed out how terrible a president he was back when everyone else was praising him as a Great Leader, I’m kind of worn out on the subject. 
But it does need to be said: he was a terrible president, arguably the worst ever, and not just for the reasons many others are pointing out. 
From what I’ve read, most of the pushback against revisionism focuses on just how bad Bush’s policies were, from the disaster in Iraq to the way he destroyed FEMA, from the way he squandered a budget surplus to the way he drove up Medicare’s costs. And all of that is fair. 
But I think there was something even bigger, in some ways, than his policy failures: Bush brought an unprecedented level of systematic dishonesty to American political life, and we may never recover. 
Think about his two main “achievements”, if you want to call them that: the tax cuts and the Iraq war, both of which continue to cast long shadows over our nation’s destiny. The key thing to remember is that both were sold with lies. 
I suppose one could make an argument for the kind of tax cuts Bush rammed through — tax cuts that strongly favored the wealthy and significantly increased inequality. But we shouldn’t forget that Bush never admitted that his tax cuts did, in fact, favor the wealthy. Instead, his administration canceled the practice of making assessments of the distributional effects of tax changes, and in their selling of the cuts offered what amounted to an expert class in how to lie with statistics. Basically, every time the Bushies came out with a report, you knew that it was going to involve some kind of fraud, and the only question was which kind and where. 
And no, this wasn’t standard practice before. Politics ain’t beanbag and all that, but the president as con man was a new character in American life. 
Even more important, Bush lied us into war. Let’s repeat that: he lied us into war. I know, the apologists will say that “everyone” believed Saddam had WMD, but the truth is that even the category “WMD” was a con game, lumping together chemical weapons with nukes in an illegitimate way. And any appearance of an intelligence consensus before the invasion was manufactured: dissenting voices were suppressed, as anyone who was reading Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy) knew at the time. 
Why did the Bush administration want war? There probably wasn’t a single reason, but can we really doubt at this point that it was in part about wagging the dog? And right there you have something that should block Bush from redemption of any kind, ever: he misled us into a war that probably killed hundreds of thousands of people, and he did it in part for political reasons. 
There was a time when Americans expected their leaders to be more or less truthful. Nobody expected them to be saints, but we thought we could trust them not to lie about fundamental matters. That time is now behind us — and it was Bush who did it.

The cat says eff this...

Just because .. cat.

Thursday, April 25, 2013



An old post:
Res ipsa loquitur at Rising Hegemon lays it out for us: 
September 11th. Iraq. Katrina. FEMA. The DOJ. The deficit. Walter Reed. Surging rates of teenage pregnancy, soldier suicides, and income disparity. Lurita Ding Dong Doan and the GSA. Bernie Bada Bing Kerik and the DHS. Heckuva Job Brownie and FEMA. Wolfowitz. Rumsfeld. Condi Ferragamo. Megan O'Sullivan. We scream, "Incompetence!" Still think incompetence across virtually every spectrum of government is an accident? 
You're missing the overall. This is incompetence by design. Disdain as a philosophy. Contempt as a core value. You want the bridge to fail? Let me design it. You want the government to fail? Send a twenty-one-year old whose most meaningful job experience has been driving an ice cream truck to Iraq to rebuild Iraq's interior ministry. Let "The Fucking Stupidest Guy on the Face of the Earth" formulate defense policy. Put a schmuck with no disaster management experience in charge of FEMA. 
I've said before that we're going to have to fire virtually every person hired into federal government after January 20, 2001. But we need to go farther. Every time a Republican runs, voters need to be reminded that Republicans should never be permitted to run government again. Ever. They don't believe in it.
And today looking back.

How about toxic magic fairies then?

Believing in clean oilsands like believing in ‘magic fairies,’ top scientist says
OTTAWA — Claims that Alberta’s oilsands are environmentally harmless are “lies” and won’t convince anyone in Washington, one of this country’s most famous ecologists said Friday. 
Political leaders in Alberta and Ottawa “seem to think that Americans believe in magic fairies — just shut your eyes and say the oilsands are clean four times and it happens,” said David Schindler of the University of Alberta. 
He said this reflects the current federal ideology — not anti-science, but “anti-some kinds of science. Anything with ‘environmental’ in it seems to be anathema.” 
Schindler, a freshwater scientist, was speaking at Carleton University. He has been a leading researcher on pollutants ranging from phosphates to acid rain to toxic waste, and in 2001 won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, a national award given to the country’s top scientist. 
Showing his audience an aerial photo of a scarred landscape in oilsands country, he said environmental assessments commissioned by oil companies show there is no impact and those same companies claim the damage is later remediated. 
“Why are people allowed to lie to the public like this? I just don’t understand this. We have to challenge them,” he said. “Obviously the people who used to challenge them, the civil servants, are no longer allowed to. 
“If you got towns around the world to nominate the village idiot from every town and flew them over the oilsands, and asked them: ‘Yes or no, is this a significant impact?’ I think I know what the answer would be. 
“It gives you an indication of how stupid this must seem to people in Washington. They must think we’ve all just fallen off a turnip truck ... We’ve had premiers and prime ministers and ministers of the environment spouting this stuff.” 
He said tailings ponds in the region total 170 square kilometres, forming “a toxic Great Lake.”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday weirdness, women and wimps

Poor Florida. Giant African Snails are invading. We need to find out if they're edible...

A hedge fund CEO who supports privatization of public schools wants to "help" with the teachers' pension funds...

Overuse of fertilizer is killing us... on the other hand, it allows us to feed our ever burgeoning population.

Anyone remember  Best hits.

Women should know their bodies belong to them.

Ramping Up Renewables: Energy You Can Count On

Gabby Giffords speaks out about the senators who "filibustered the bipartisan gun background-check proposal".

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday skittles

Melissa Harris-Perry's apology to the Steubenville rape survivor.

Peru Bans Monsanto and GMOs
The decree banning GMO foods was drafted in 2008. It not only bans GMO crops like Monsanto’s BT-Corn, but also expands on a prior law that required all foods on supermarket shelves that contain GMOs to be labeled. Those GMO containing foods will now be completely banned. After being subjected to public discussion, being amended, and finally passed in the Peruvian congress in April of 2011, the ban is finally going into effect this week. 
A study done in April of 2011 by the Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users (ASPEC) tested 13 products purchased in major supermarkets and shops in Lima, Peru. Unsurprisingly, 10 out of 13 tested positive for containing GMOs.

Pesticide Suspected in Bee Die-Offs Could Also Kill Birds
Controversial pesticides linked to catastrophic honeybee declines in North America and Europe may also kill other creatures, posing ecological threats even graver than feared, say some scientists.

According to a report by the American Bird Conservancy, the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticides to birds, and also to stream- and soil-dwelling insects accidentally exposed to the chemicals, have been underestimated by regulators and downplayed by industry.
First transgender character in comics.

4 Myths About Emergency Contraception Explained

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Republican War on Women continues...

Kansas Senate Prepares To Kill Reproductive Rights, Republicans Mock Rape Victims while France... France Makes Contraception and Abortion Free

Update 4/5: But amazingly there is a federal judge:
Judge Orders Morning-After Pill Available for All Ages 

A federal judge ruled Friday that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. In his ruling, he also accused the federal government of “bad faith” in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available, and said its actions had been politically motivated.

From belly buttons to Jesus.

I never thought I'd be able to write that sentence....

The science of belly button bacteria.

Beijing rejects North’s envoy request
BEIJING - Pyongyang has allegedly asked Beijing to send them an envoy in order to improve their soured relations, but Beijing turned it down, seen as a warning regarding the regime’s recent warmongering rhetoric.
Because small government means being able to insert it into your private parts.  Republican Attorney General: Oral And Anal Sex Should Be ‘Crimes Against Nature’ In Virginia

Remembering Roger Ebert.

Reaping What You Sow: Are White Supremacists Preparing to Fight a new Civil War?

The Very Smell of Olive Oil is Good for You

Demotivational cat

Breakthrough in hydrogen fuel production could revolutionize alternative energy market

Gulf Of Mexico Dolphin Deaths Point To Continued Effects Of BP Oil Spill, Group Alleges

How much does going solar actually cost you and how long does it take to pay for itself.

Tennessee GOP’s Plan To Shove Jesus Down Our Throat Goes Hilariously Wrong

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

What was that about how safe our nuclear power plants are?

Fukushima Meltdown Driving Increased Abnormalities Among US Infants
According to a new study (.pdf) published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics, children born in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington between one week and 16 weeks after the meltdown began are 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism (CH) than were kids born in those states during the same period one year earlier. 
CH results from a build up of radioactive iodine in our thyroids and can result in stunted growth, lowered intelligence, deafness, and neurological abnormalities—though can be treated if detected early. 
Because their small bodies are more vulnerable and their cells grow faster than adults', infants serve as the proverbial 'canary in the coal mine' for injurious environmental effects. 
"With the embryo and fetus, there can never be a 'safe' dose of radiation," writes founder Harvey Wasserman. "NO dose of radiation is too small to have a human impact." 
According to researchers from the Radiation and Public Health Project who performed the study, “Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the US, and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation.” They add that CH can provide an early measure to "assess any potential changes in US fetal and infant health status after Fukushima because official data was available relatively promptly."

North Dakota. Who would want to live there anyway?

 photo northdakotawomb_zpsb3074358.png