Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

Revised Oscar Pix

Best Picture: Inception
Best Director: Darren Aronosfky
Best Actor: OK so I wanted to pick Colin Firth but i am going with Javier Bardem in an upset
Best Actress: Natalie Portman
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale
Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter
Original Screeplay: Inception
Adapted Screenplay: Winter’s Bone
Foreign Language Film: Biutiful (In all fairness this is the only one I saw!)
Animated Feature: What it should be if Hollywood was not about the mega-movie “The Illusionist” (i.e., My Pick!)>>>What it will be because it is “Toy Story 3”
Original Score: Inception
Original Song: Don’t know any of them
Art Direction: Inception
Cinematography: Inception in a route!
Costume Design: The King’s Speech
Makeup: Don’t know any of them
Documentary: Inside Job
Sound Mixing: Inception
Sound Editing: Inception
Visual Effects: Inception
Film Editing: Black Swan

Benefit to Cost Ratio

In his last post Dave noted that the real reason for events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Maghreb and eastward was finite resources. That is extremely true AND if you couple that with the increasing influence of derivative speculation by those that don’t give a hoot about social cohesion AND the declining benefit to cost ratio associated with agricultural related biotechnology you have a Terrible Trio that needs to be addressed via long-term stewardship of biomass and the planet’s limited biogeochemically available elements such as phosphorus. Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Budget Fact From Fiction

So President Obama released his much anticipated budget today and I took a couple of minutes to analyze the numbers to find the winners and losers. The results will surprise those on the right and left alike (See Figure Below).

The big winners are:

1. the Natural Resource Conservation Service with respective 2011-2012 and 2010-2012 budget increases of 123% and 167%.

2. the Department of Energy with a 2010-2012 increase of 134%.

3. the Department of Transportation with 2011-2012 and 2010-2012 increases of 113% and 115%

4. a recipient near and dear to natural/environmental scientists hearts the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a 2010-2012 of 118%.

True many of these recipients could be considered liberal or dare I say the word “scientific” causes, but the fact is that there are many progressive recipients on The Big Losers list below.

The Big Losers:

1. Well we have to start with the undisputed biggest loser of them all and one you would think would be in the previous category given how often Obama, Democrats, and Republicans talk about the importance of small-business creation. The Small Business Administration is going to be 20% of what it was in 2010 in the following 2 years if Obama gets his way. This will be an interesting pivot point around which we will see whether conservatives who say Obama is anti-business fight him OR whether the small businesses of America call Obama’s bluff and the Republicans if they jump in bed with him on this one invoking his recent placating speech at Tom Donahue’s Chamber of Commerce. This country is clearly decoupling both at home and in the workplace with Too Big To Fail Military contractors, Banks, and Agribusiness clearly in the driver seat not just with Republicans but with Democrats as well. What a shame.

2. OH and then there is military family housing, which one would assume everyone would want to increase with the patriotic rheotirc booming out of MSNBC and Fox News equally. I thought we valued our warriors and their sacrifice? Guess not because military family housing is set to shrink by 25% 2010-2012.

3. Education and who – like military family housing – could argue with education? Apparently an Obama administration that has found it’s Reaganomics Religion all of a sudden. Education will be slashed by 11% and 24% between 2011-2012 and 2010-2012, respectively.

4. Finally, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be slashed by 31% between 2010-2012.

SO WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS BLOG? The point is that Obama has shown he is hardly a socialist, fascist, liberal/progressive populist and that with respect to the SBA we will see whether all those jokers on Capitol Hill really do care about small businesses because if the Obama administration gets it’s way the SBA will be hacked to a fifth of it’s size today.

NOW if only we could get the Pentagon to incur more than the 2011-2012 4% decline only to rise like a Phoenix the following year giving it a 2010-2012 6% increase.

If we don’t address the retirement age, tort reform, the military industrial complex leviathan, and things like Bureau of Land Management gifts to the coal/natural gas industry via infinitesimal land rents we are not being serious. Hacking away as the Republicans and Democrats are at discretionary spending, which depending on the year ranges from 10-12% of the federal budget means that honesty is in short supply in DC and that faith is winning out over rationality. What a sham I mean shame!

Chart of the Day and it’s a doozy


So in the past here and elsewhere I have commented on the general lack of relevance to real world prosperity reflected in the classic

GDP = C+I+G+(Exp-Imp)

For so many important reasons GDP sucks not the least being its unwillingness or inability to account for the monetary value of raising children or for that matter ecosystem services. One estimate that does a far better job of addressing not these issues but inequality is the Gini Index. A while back I discussed the bottom-left to upper-right trajectory of this index here in the US at a rapid and disturbing pace. The higher the number the more inequality exists. Simply put it is a number between 0-1 and at absolute Zero it means perfect equality and 1 means that all wealth is perfectly aggregated at the top among the types of elites that attend the Davos World Economic Forum, or TED, or whatever gathering you want to name including the Koch brothers recent get-together in Palm Springs, which was by invite only and the only requirement was that you be worth 1 Billlllllllion dollars!

Anyway tangents aside. I was originally disturbed by the slope of the Gini Index here in the US AND NOW……….I am even more so. I just got my hands on the index back to 1913 courtesy of an obscure paper by Eugene Smolensky and Robert Plotnick at UCal Berkeley (Yeah I know liberal haven but the data don’t lie folks!!!). Take a look and keep in mind the trendline just demonstrates the clip at which inequality is increasing annually, which at this point is about 0.47% per year. Soon we’ll be in Robert Mugabe and Myanmar territory….NO SERIOUSLY WE WILL!!

Wealth inequality has not done wonders for Zimbabwe, Myanmar, North Korea, etc., what makes us think it is a good thing for Ground Zero of Laissez-Faire capitalism? American Exceptionalism will turn the corner and run into reality at some point.