Saturday, January 23, 2010

Football is a Game of Action?? I think not!!!

Click on the Graph to enlarge:  There are 100 squares in the graph. Each square represents 1% of the total time for an entire football game (100% excluding commercials).  Looking across the top, we see 9.4% of the squares, or 9.4% of the game is spent in ACTUAL playing can interpret the rest...Football is a game of action??? I would like to see this analysis of a hockey game... 

Source: Chartporn

"McMeanie" Part II---McDonalds is a champion of Private Property Rights!! Super-Size Me!!

After a comment from a trademark law professor, I have thought about the previous "McMeanie" posting I made. I did not keep with my "economic way of thinking" and let "emotion" get in the way of the larger concept (I am not emotionless/non-emphathetic. Just trying to be consistent) of private property rights, which in my opinion, is the fuel for our economic engine.  That is what trademarks/patents do and MUST continue to do. Professor Randazza makes an excellent point in his blog response to McDonalds action:
This isn’t heavy-handed, it is smart business. McDonalds has a strong brand in its “Mc” prefix, and stopping someone from securing a trademark registration inside that turf is not the same thing as stopping them from using the name. If you don’t protect your trademark turf from minor incursions, after a while, the mark can die the death of a thousand paper cuts. McDonalds has some pretty well-established trademark turf, with registrations for McPen, McBurger, McBuddy, McWatch, McDouble, McJobs, McShirt, McPool, McProduct, McShades, McFree, McRuler, McLight, etc. Allowing a McFest to enter the field would cause some ever-so-slight erosion of their McHegemony in that area, and make their trademark worth just a bit less.
Look at it this way, if Ms. McClusky got her registration for McFest, then she could potentially license that trademark to Burger King for a concert festival. Yeah, really. Either that, or she could expand her tiny McFiefdom, and eventually cause some real branding problems for Grimace and the gang. Sure, the likelihood is low, but McDonalds didn’t get where it is by being lackadaisical about its trademark rights.
Yes, this case is VERY small potatos (fries?) but if McDonalds allowed  a precedent of trademark registration for a name/logo so closely related to its brand, it does open the door to the erosion of Private Property Rights...So, McDonalds takes a hit in the PR department but preserves private property rights and avoids a "Commons Problem"...Super-size my combo and pass the ketchup…

The best book I have read on the sanctity of private property rights is "The Mystery of Capital" by Hernando De Soto...I highly recommend it...

Help me!! I am in Debt up to my eyeballs!!

Consumer Debt (Credit Cards) vs Change in the money supply...Notice how the two correspond  over time rather  consistently.  The slopes are similiar with a slight lag as the increase in debt catches up with the increase in money supply.  What if a graph of new housing construction since 1995 were inserted here? How about a graph of used housing sales? How about a graph of changes in housing prices since 1995?  Do some research and tell ME!!

Souce: Daily Kos                                      Source: Mises Institute

Statistics of a recent Consumer Reports survey:
• One-third of Americans do not own a credit card.
• 54% pay their balance in full each month
• 33% carry balances up to $10,000 (median balance: $2,254)
• 13% carry balances over $10,000 (median balance: $17,366)
• 21% of consumers said they were treated unfairly by card companies and 32% have paid off and closed a card since January 2008. Half of those that canceled did so in direct response to the actions of credit-card issuers, such as cutting limits, hiking rates, or imposing fees.
• 45% of survey respondents say they are charging less
• 11% are charging more than they did a year ago
(source: Consumer Reports Magazine, November 2009)

Friday, January 22, 2010


Three years ago, teenager Lauren McClusky thought she'd help raise money for the Special Olympics in Chicago by staging concerts with local bands. Lauren raised more than $30,000 to help people with conditions like Down syndrome or autism take part in sports competitions.Because her last name is McClusky, Lauren called the concert series "McFest." After 3 years of success, she applied to trademark the McFest name. Silly -- Didn't she know that might make McDonald's unhappy? McDonald's sees that as an infringement on its trademarks, something the McDonaldland lawyers refer to as "the McFamily of brands."  These include (deep breath): McPen, McBurger, McBuddy, McWatch, McDouble, McJobs, McShirt, McPool, McProduct, McShades, McFree, McRuler, McLight -- and even the prefix "Mc" itself.
And even "McFest" apparently, which has nothing to do with dried-out burgers.Ronald McDonald may clown around but his lawyers are serious. A McDonald's spokeswoman spelled it out:

"(T)he law requires us to guard against third parties that infringe our trademarks and to take the necessary action to stop those infringements"...

McDonald's filed an opposition. So instead of donating funds from her 2009 concert to Special Olympics, McClusky's had to hire lawyers to answer a series of administrative proceedings McDonald's filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To date, it's cost her roughly $5,000 -- money she wishes had gone to Special Olympics kids instead of attorneys.
No good deed goes unpunished. Lauren McClusky has learned the new Golden Rule: He who has enough gold to hire lawyers makes the rules. If you have the legal firepower, you can claim ownership of something as basic as the prefix "Mc," even though Lauren and millions of others use it as part of their names. Give me a break.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tragedy of the Commons Part II---Tigers are NOT so lucky...

From Carpe Diem:  Tigers could use some help to escape "The Commons"...

"The Telegraph reports that there are now fewer than 50 wild tigers left in China. The selling of tiger parts has been banned for many decades, yet tiger numbers continue to fall. The policy fails yet many persist in defending it.
There is a market solution: the commercial farming of tigers."

~JP Floru on the Adam Smith blog

"Tragedy of the Commons"---See You Later Alligator....

For AP Micro and Macro students:  NICE example of the significance of Private Property Rights when it comes to preserving endangered speices.  Economics really does help solve some problems...

From Carpe Diem
Case Study: In 1967, the American alligator was listed as an endangered species (under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973), meaning it was considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. American alligators were depleted from many parts of their range as a result of hunting and loss of habitat, and 30 years ago many people believed this unique reptile would never recover.

However, the creation of large, commercial alligator farms contributed significantly to saving alligators in the U.S.. Alligator farming is a big and growing industry in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Louisiana, and these states produce a combined annual total of some 45,000 alligator hides. Alligator hides sell for about $300 each, though the price can fluctuate considerably from year to year. The market for alligator meat is growing and approximately 300,000 pounds of meat is produced annually.
Today, in just the state of Louisiana, there are 723,000 alligators on alligator farms, and biologists estimate Florida has 2 million wild alligators. In fact, there are so many wild alligators in Florida that state officials have lifted the ban on alligator hunting, and they now have an 11-week hunting season each year. The American alligator was removed from the endangered species list in 1987 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pronounced a complete recovery of the species.
Bottom Line: Private property rights, commercial farming, and the commercial sale of alligator meat and hides was largely responsible for the full recovery of the American alligator and helped save it from extinction. The same approach could help save tigers (see recent CD post), elephants and rhinos, or any other endangered species.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

China picks up a Silver Medal in the GDP race...

It looks like I may have to change my lesson on relative GDP's....China may have just surpassed Japan to become the SECOND largest economy in the world...
BBC::China says its economy expanded by 8.7% in 2009, likely leap-frogging Japan to become the world's second largest economy behind only the US.
However, caution is advised..
But analysts say currency fluctuations make it difficult to compare China and Japan, and some experts question the accuracy of China's figures.
It is inevitable that they will move into 2nd place by the end of the year.  Is this something we should  worry about? Should we perceive this as a problem or as an opportunity?

How much time do YOU spend online??? Could it REALLY be this MUCH!!

Interestingly enough, I had this conversation with one of my classes today...
NYTIMES: "The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation... Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones...And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours."
I am truely amazed when I step back and think about all the changes in technology in last 20 years.  I say often that is has become part of kids DNA today.  A professional agrees with me:
Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.”
In your experience, do the numbers in the graphic match your media consumption habits?  I am just curious...

Question is : How do teachers deal with this?  Is there a way for us to make this work in our favor rather  than fight it or spend time lamenting it??? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

More Evidence: Where Americans are moving to in the US and WHY!!...

(HT: Carpe Diem)...Map showing where Americans are moving to in the last year.  United Van Lines publishes a yearly migration report. An accompanying artle in the Wall Street Journal makes an interesting point...
As for the biggest winner, well, our readers won't be surprised to learn that it was Washington, D.C. by a large margin. United Van Lines moved nearly seven families to the federal city last year for every three it moved out.
Why on earth are people, on net, moving TO Washington D.C in 2009?  When power is concentrated in one place, the special interests concentrate there too because that is where the money is---in economics we call that "rent-seeking". 
Also, it is noted that people perhaps are moving for a different reason...
 Six of the eight states with no income tax were magnets for families, while eight of the 10 highest income tax states had more people packing.
Taxes and the scale and scope of government matter to people and businesses alike.  How come policy makers on both sides of the political spectrum dont seem to get this?...just askin'...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Barack Obama is the keenest presidential globetrotter

From The Economist: "WHEN Barack Obama was campaigning for the presidency he promised to seek “a new era of international co-operation”. In his first year in office he has changed the tone of American foreign policy and helped to shift foreigners' perception of America. Perhaps it is no surprise that he has spent much more time overseas than his predecessors. Mr Obama has been abroad twice as long as George Bush junior managed in his first 12 months as president. Mr Obama is the first president since Jimmy Carter to travel to the Middle East in his first year and the only one whose first-year foreign forays have taken him to Africa. Franklin Roosevelt made it to Canada in his first year, but only for a holiday."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yo Quiero Taco Bell...Founder has Died...Go eat your favorite selection and remember him...

The entrepreneur who founded Taco Bell has died...Go have a meal and remember how great he was...

What is the Definition of Insanity??

I was a bit surprised to see in a New York Times editorial today a comment on something that I have been teaching in class as a form of insanity in the banking/govenment relationship as of late "TARP"..
...Here’s what’s happening: By lowering the short-term interest rate it controls to virtually zero and creating lending programs, the Federal Reserve has enabled banks to borrow cheaply. The banks re-lend that cheap money, but not necessarily to consumers and businesses. They can, for example, lend it to back to the federal government by buying Treasury securities, and earn a nice spread between their cost of funds and Treasury yields.
So, let me get this straight---Banks recieve bailout money from Congress, who borrowed that money to bailout the banks (Debt #1). Instead of loaning that money out, they LOAN it BACK to Congress (Debt #2..The Federal Reserve lends money to banks at approx. 0% interest rate...Said banks THEN LEND that money TO Congress (Debt #3) and earn interest FROM Congress (I mean taxpayers) ...Rinse and Repeat...As the banks pay back the Fed and Congress pays back the banks, it seems this money, originally meant to be lent out to people and  businesses who may actually stimulate the demand (consumers) for a good or service, or  businesses that may actually create a new good or service, is just circulating between the Fed, Banks, and Congress.  How can this possibly help our economy?  I am just a dumb ol' high school teacher, but I dont see how this promotes economic growth...Seems like it just promotes LARGER bank profits at the expense of the taxpayer.   Is THIS the reason for record bank profits in the last two quarters?  GeeWhizz!!!  Some one please educate me!!! :)

Can You Match the Slogan with the Product/Service??? Kinda Fun!!

CLICK HERE to test your knowledge of recent and past advertising slogans associated with products and/or services we all know and love...I got stuck on some of them...
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