Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Sonic Boom

Apparently Boeing lost a bid for a government contract building booms for the United States Air Force. A boom being an airplane that refuels other planes (such as fighter jets) in mid-air. The whole affair created an uproar because the contract instead went to Northrop Grumman, a company under the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company. Apparently they offered the Air Force a better product. Boeing seemingly didn't realize they were actually competing for the contract, they thought that had it just because they were an American based company. But now they are upset and are calling out the Federal government. Politicians might rally behind this story to make a political point. I hope not though because there seems to be nothing wrong with this decision made by the Air Force. They simply operated by the rules of a global economic marketplace and purchased the best product. Claims of US job losses due to this are overstated. Large over-riding economic issue are far more relevant to the US at this point. Those concerned with jobs in the US should look at the larger picture and look for policies that will make this economy strong again.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Biggest Problem in the World

It's not terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or even global climate change, it's the availability of energy. The increase in the standard of living over the past century is entirely proportional to our use of energy, as is the growth of population. And we are running out of our main energy source!! This resource is, of course, oil. Experts who study oil production place the date at which oil will peak at 2010, just two years from now. This is the date when the supply of oil can no longer meet the world's demand. What does this mean? More than anything it means economic shock. Our entire way of life is built upon the foundation of oil. As the price of oil continually increases so will the price of everything else, particularly anything that uses oil in production or shipping. Drastic changes in the price of oil have drastic effects on the US economy, the 1970's the most notable example of this. But the future will be worse. Other countries realize this problem as well. China's demand for oil is growing faster than any nation, as its economy is growing at over 10% a year. As a result China has attempted to buy as many oil fields around the world as it can and has been expanding its navy to secure "sea lanes" in a future where they decide not sell the oil they need on the world market. As people living at this time in history, we must realize that we are in for difficult times. The good news is that we can solve this problem. The answer is clean, renewable energy. But we don't have forever. We can delay the switch as we have before, by increasing the efficiency in our use of oil (the overall increases in technological efficiency, a most recent example being hybrid vehicles), but we must start switching. The sooner we start the better chance we have and the smoother the transition will be. This is a transition that MUST occur if we want to mantain any resemblance of our current way of life. A failure in making this transition will result in disaster, and possibly an early demise for a great number of the over six billion people living on this planet.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Global Economic Crisis

The pessimists will say that we are headed for one, and that it is not the result of the bust of the housing market but more an endemic problem with our overall economic system. Mostly that it has allowed financial interests to be in control, unchecked and unregulated for too long. Is that really a surprise? Those with money, knowledge, and the will to move the world in a direction favorable to their interests and philosophies will easily win. The danger is that we are doomed to repeat our past mistakes, that people living today are too far removed from the last great financial crisis. That we have forgotten the lessons we were supposed to have learned. What worries me is to hear the managing director of the International Monetary Fund and the head of the Federal Reserve speak of possibly using Keynesian economic policies, a school of thought generally rejected by such high ranking financial experts. They must have a terrible outlook to recommend, what is to them no doubt, desperate initiatives. Luckily we are not without hope, a smarter Federal Reserve will have no fear of using expansionary monetary policies, and policy makers in governments all over the world have options. The best may be to dust off their old textbooks on Keynesian economic philosophy, and work towards strengthening their own spending bases, to make sure developed countries each have a strong middle class with a will and an ability to participate in a global economy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Stimulus Plan

As economists claim the US is headed for recession, Congressmen in Washington argue about the proper role of government in preventing it. Democrats offer a plan to put money in middle and low income earners hands to boost consumer spending temporarily. Republicans want to make Bush's high income earners tax cuts permanent. The usually conservative leaning Federal Reserve seems to side with Democrats in this instance. I should point out that by keeping Bush's tax cuts, the US budget deficit would likely worsen - meaning more Treasury Bonds with higher interest rates leading to higher interest rates overall that will hurt consumers and homeowners and only worsen the future economy. Why do these supply-siders insist on their nonsense when even the Fed recognizes the weakness is on the demand side?

Celebrity Stalking

I can't stand the news media's fascination with Britney Spears, usually coverage prompts me to change the channel. I read this article in the opinion section of the AJC. Leonard Pitts is an amazing writer, often providing well needed clarity and wit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Little Trouble in Big China

Apparently government officials in China have the power to physical abuse citizens at will. This article speaks to that and to the role the internet can play in opening and perhaps changing a closed society.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A False Idol

This NYTimes article tells it like it is. Giving a great explanation of the economic debate being waged in this country, with the current mortgage crisis as its main example. Also brings up some history of government - market interaction, mentioning anti-trust laws as a response to Robber Barrons and increased accounting laws after the corporate scandals of the late 90's. Well you can read it.

A False Idol

Saturday, January 12, 2008

08 Presidential Race

People in America are paying a great deal of attention to this year's presidential race. Perhaps it's because more people then ever realize that it DOES matter who the president is. The pundits claim that Democrats have an advantage is this election cycle. This may be true, although I've always felt this country leaned conservative. Nonetheless it is important to get a Democrat back into the White House. I don't really care which one, whichever one can win and govern with the largest amount of support. Barack Obama seems the most likely. I certainly like him the most, although I like Edwards as well. Hillary is hard to like, even though I believe she is smart and understands the issues very well. It would be the most fun to watch Obama as the next president. Idealists would say that shouldn't be a consideration, but let's be real about it. For a lot of Americans, undecideds and independents, it does come down to personality, not policy.

So Why do we need a Democrat, any Democrat?
Because Democrats make practical, pragmatic decisions based on evidence after carefully considering the different sides of an argument. They are not perfect, they are politicians, but they are far more likely to think objectively and responsibly about any issue. Plus their base tends to be more educated and progressive, whereas the Republican base tends to be more extreme and unreasonable.

Not that all Republicans are bad. A lot of Republican voters are good people, as are a few of their politicians. Republican policies are generally terrible (Fair Tax, Neo-con foreign policy, school vouchers, Marriage Ammendments, Trade Policies, etc). Republicans tend to support or oppose policy ideas based on ideology, instead of looking at facts and thinking practically. The two best examples of this are the Neo-conservative Foreign Policy and Free-market Fundamentalism.

I am most interested in Political Economics and the debate between the Right and Left in this country. This debate is probably under the radar of most Americans, even though the outcome effects the economy and therefor all our lives in innumerable ways. Almost all issues tie back to economics, such as health care, education, energy, trade policies, Social Security and Medicare, the Iraq War, defense spending, NASA, and many many more. Understanding that the federal government can interact in a positive way with markets is core of the Left's economic argument. Smart regulation combined with smart investments are the basis of this argument. Whereas the Right wants to de-regulate all markets and stop government investment. The argument goes much deeper into taxes, wealth distrubution, and the proper role of government. More about this later.