Thursday, April 12, 2012

FDA plan would seek voluntary limits of antibiotics in animal feed

My wife and I spent the winter in Arizona, primarily in Yuma, way down south bordering on California and Mexico. Desert. Well... is would be if the Colorado River hadn't been turned into a teeny-tiny stream. (Did you know that for the last twelve years, not a single drop of Colorado water has reached the Sea of Cortez?)

So... Yuma is the lettuce capital of America. Or maybe of the world. It seems that the flatness of desert, when properly irrigated, is perfect for growing lettuce. Square mile and square miles of lettuce. Some fields are planted with different kinds of lettuce, so that "mixed bags" are prepared right at the picking stage. Fascinating. Really.

OK... so there's lettuce in the desert. That doesn't mean that there's much in the way of forage for cattle. In fact, there's nothing at all. Zero. Zilch. Cattle would starve in a few days.

Except... that there are cattle being raised near Yuma. In the middle of the desert. In conditions that should cause every American to swear off beef forever.  The animals must have about ten square feet each. The smell permeates the air for miles. 

In order to keep the animals alive in such disgustingly unhealthy conditions, they are fed huge quantities of antibiotics.

Then those antibiotics arrive in people's plates. And microbes become immune...

... and the meat industry makes a bundle of money in the meantime...

The Problem of Low-Wage Jobs

Graphs can be wickedly explicit:

  -  The US has an awful lot of low-paying jobs
  -  The low-wage portion of the population is growing

CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST: The Problem of Low-Wage Jobs

Europe’s future is not up to the Bundesbank

"The future of Europe is a political issue: it is beyond the Bundesbank’s competence to decide."
Oh and... eurobonds... 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

German bond yields touch record lows

A couple days ago, the headline was about record-high Spanish yields. The two, taken together, should make it blatantly obvious to any average dolt that the "solution" to the eurozone problem is to do away with both German and Spanish bonds, in favor of eurobonds. 

Well... while this would be obvious to any average dolt... it is not obvious to the average German Finance Minister. Germany is getting a great deal of benefit from the crisis... and the backlash will be quite nasty when the other nations realize what is happening.

Bats' Super-Efficient Flight

I'm posting this just for the video!


Holy Memorandum! The Secret to Bats' Super-Efficient Flight Could Help Make Better Military Drones

Are MIT's "Double Bubble" Planes the Future of Air Travel?

Seventy percent lower fuel consumption?? Wow!!

Are MIT's "Double Bubble" Planes the Future of Air Travel?

This Is Why You Should NEVER Text And Walk At The Same Time

Lightening up for a moment... ;-)))))

This Is Why You Should Never Text And Walk At The Same Time

The bizarre baseline games you need to play to make Obamacare increase the deficit

The Washington Post has gotten so bad that an article that it published -- on page one -- got demolished the very next day by the newspaper's best economic commentator.

I really, really wonder why Ezra Klein stays with the WaPo. How many times will he put his own credibility on the line to save that of the newspaper?

The Liberalism of Fear

The New York Times takes its role as "journal of reference for the American political scene" very, very seriously. The Times therefore has its own in-house conservative voices in order to fulfill its self-imposed "he-said/she-said obligation". Rather than, you know, actually take a position on what is right or on what the country actually needs.

Because the Times is now the unchallenged national standard (since the WSJ went off into Murdoch cloud-cuckoo-land, and Kate Graham's heirs destroyed the WaPo), its conservatives get a lot of mileage. Even when they say outlandish nonsense:
"It’s the liberalism that cries “Social Darwinism!” when conservatives suggest any alteration to the existing welfare state, that paints even modest reductions in government spending (or, indeed, reductions in the rate of increase in government spending) as the first step toward a Dickensian dystopia of “prisons and workhouses,” and that portrays the Democratic Party as the only thing standing between Americans and a Hobbesian war of all against all."
No one has mention any "Dickensian dystopia". And the "alterations" proposed by Paul Ryan amount in fact to "dismantlement".

Mr Douthat is outraged by the term "social Darwinism".

But not by the reality.

State of Cool

Clinton / Warren 2016

That would scare the right to death!

State of Cool -

China accused of illegal bike subsidies

France is very good at logistics and distribution. While the biggest distributor in the world is American (Walmart), the second is French (Carrefour) and several other French outfits (Auchan, Leclerc, ...) figure among the biggest.

These companies are sharks! They will do anything to lower costs... so of course (like Walmart, Target, Kroger and all the other American retailers) they have long since been dealing with China.

Thirty-five years ago, the founder of the Leclerc group started a new company specialized in sports, under the name Decathlon. That is still the retailer's commercial name, but in 2008, the corporate name was changed to "Oxylane", to reflect the fact that "distribution" was no longer the essential characteristic of the company. Over the years, it had gradually taken on a greater and greater role in the conception of the products that it distributes.

Today, Decathlon distributes every sort of sports-related product you can think of, from energy bars to horse-riding tack to golf clubs to hiking shoes... 

Those products are conceived by specialized companies within the group. "Inesis" is the golf line. Striders, running machines, rowing machines, weight sets... are by "Domyos".

And bicycles are by "B'Twin". (Note that the link is to the UK site, so that you get it in English. Decathlon is now worldwide, of course.) These are very good bikes: Decathlon has come to totally dominate the sporting-goods sector in France by offering high quality... at a... Chinese... price.

So this is the choice now facing Europeans -- a choice that American ostriches has thus far avoided even asking: Will we agree to pay more for our bicycles in order to save the European bicycle industry?

... and all the other great stuff that Decathlon sells so cheap...

Soaking the rich...

A drive to raise tax rates on the rich is gaining ground all around the world, from Warren Buffet's very timid "the rich really shouldn't pay less than their hired help" to François Hollande's 75% solution. 

One of the essential bases of this movement is
"... recent analysis led by Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics using data from 18 OECD countries. Its conclusion – that “socially optimal top tax rates might possibly be much higher than what is commonly assumed”..."
The rate that was found to be optimum in that study was... 75%. Coincidence? I think not...

Soaking the rich might not be a panacea -

Two more posts on this subject:
     Hollande vows to raise taxes for rich and banks
     Obama makes case for ‘Buffett rule’

Obama makes case for ‘Buffett rule’

This is such a "Duh!!" issue. 

I cannot believe that the Republican party can be so foolish as to defend the idea that a billionaire should pay a lower rate than his secretary.

This is not a "sucker-punch" from Obama. This is the GOP "leading with the chin"!

Hollande vows to raise taxes for rich and banks


Just what does this guy think he's doing??

Is he some kind of Socialist, or something???

... oh, wait...

Why the Bundesbank is wrong

Martin Wolf is an economist... 

His analyses of "what is happening" in the euro crisis are based in economic theory.

But Mr Wolf is also very "European" -- he has been a close observer of the Union since long before it was born.

So his analyses of "why this is happening" and "how to proceed" are more political than economic.

... and that is why he has been consistently the most accurate observer.