Saturday, February 26, 2011

The United Nations should NOT have voted to impose sanctions on Libya until...

...they vote to kick Libya off the UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL FIRST!!  Who thought THIS was a good idea in the first place? So much for trying to create kinder, gentler, dictators by being more inclusive in hopes they will change. Nice job, UN. Please save your outrage and condemnations for a time AFTER you clean up your own house. Thank you in advance for doing so...

Here is list of the other members of the Human Rights Council.  Any of the other names sound familiar and have been in the news lately? Why do you think they WANT to be on the Human Rights Committee?  Foxes guarding the henhouse?

Angola Argentina
Burkina Faso
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Republic of Korea
Republic of Moldova
Russian Federation
Saudi Arabia
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United States of America

Friday, February 25, 2011

Vinyl records making a comeback! Can 8-Track Tapes be far behind??

Can 8-Track Tapes be far behind? Some things just need to remain Creatively Destroyed...The first 8-Tracks I bought were Kiss Live and Peter Frampton Live...So long ago...

Vinyl records spin back into vogue

According to recent Nielsen SoundScan numbers, vinyl was the fastest-growing musical format in 2010, with 2.8 million units sold, the format's best year since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

Vinyl's increase in popularity is providing a beacon of hope for independent record stores — an industry that has suffered with the increase of digital downloads this past decade.

When Cretsinger moved his business from Keiser, Ore., to Cedar City in 2000 there were two other record stores in the college town of about 28,000. Now, the closest independent record store is in Las Vegas, 175 miles away.

"Vinyl seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who have hung in there," he says. "It's kind of a surprising light at the end of the tunnel. It's incredibly exciting."

Not only have vinyl album sales picked up, but the interest in record players has increased as well. Cretsinger said he got tired of directing his customers to other businesses where they could purchase turntables, so he began offering a small selection at his store in January.

Pres. Clinton makes the right call on Ethanol, but does it get him in trouble with Mrs Clinton???

President Clinton makes a statement that, I assume, is none too pleasing to corn farmers and the ethanol lobby.  Considering the road to the White House starts in Iowa, a major corn growing state, I wonder if he cleared this through Mrs. Clinton or gave much thought to her future political career...Guessin' not...However, it IS encouraging to see a politician come out against this awful policy (although it was lukewarm).  When you don't have much at stake, it is much easier to be honest, I suppose.

Clinton: Too Much Ethanol Could Lead to Food Riots

Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday warned farmers that using too much corn for ethanol fuel could lead to higher food prices and riots in poor countries.

Clinton told farmers and Agriculture Department employees that he believes producing biofuels such as corn-based ethanol is important for reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But, he said, farmers should look beyond domestic production and consider the needs of developing countries.

"We know that the way we produce and consume energy has to change, yet for farmers there are no simple answers," he said. "There is a way for us to do this and to do it right."

Clinton's foundation has worked to develop agribusiness in African countries such as Malawi and Rwanda. He said the United States needs to look at the long term, global effects of its farm policy.

"I think the best thing to say is we have to become energy independent, but we don't want to do it at the cost of food riots," Clinton said.

We have our own bonds of oppression that we need to break...

ASource: CSM

Nice Graphic on how money earned by foreigners in the US and sent back home have been affected by the Depreciating Dollar...Standards of living are at stake!!

When foreigners in the US earn money and send some or all of it back to their home country (called a "Remittance"), the government tracks this flow of funds in the nations "Balance of Payments". The Balance of Payments has two sides to its ledger--The Current Acccount and the Capital Account.  Remittances are recorded in the Current Account.  When US Dollar is appreciating, this is a good deal for them. They are able to exchange dollars for more of their home currency than before the appreciation. In the graphic below, you can see this is what has happened with the currencies of Nigeria and Bangladesh.  However, when the dollar depreciates, they can exchange for fewer units of their home currency. This is what has happened to the currencies of the Philippines, China and Mexico (see below)...Relative change in the value of currencies in the foreign exchange market affect many transactions around the world, not just exports and imports.  Standards of living rise and fall at its mercy....

Dollar's Fall Rocks Far-Flung Families

The world's currencies are gyrating, but the strains are being felt beyond financial capitals and corporate boardrooms. Millions of families in developing countries rely on relatives sending dollars, euros and other weakened currencies from abroad to prop up spending at home.

Lorena Baquillos's husband, Jimmy, is one of nearly 10 million Filipinos working around the world. She's managed to open a small grocery here on the money Jimmy sends home as a merchant seaman, but his dollar-based pay is translating into fewer pesos at home than it did a few years ago.

"I used to get 43,000 pesos every two months, but now that's down to 33,000," says Ms. Baquillos, 37, who uses her husband's earnings to feed and school their three children.

For years, the Philippines has encouraged its citizens to seek out work in other countries to keep the home economy afloat. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos used to serenade overseas Filipino workers while on visits to the Middle East in the 1980s.

Today, funds channeled home, or remittances, account for more than 10% of the Philippines' economic output, making it one of the most remittance-dependent countries in the world.

Many of these workers are in the U.S. or Britain or Italy, where currencies are struggling to recover from the global financial crisis. There are hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in places such as Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong, where currencies are closely linked to the ailing greenback.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I guess the "Buy American" provision is only a suggestion to the Smithsonian..Statues of Presidents are made in China. Maybe it really is over...

I guess it makes sense...They have so many pieces of green paper with several presidents pictures on them, who better to make the statues? 

At Smithsonian, Americana 'Made in China'

Tens of millions flock to the Smithsonian museums in Washington each year to see Americana -- everything from Abraham Lincoln's top hat to Archie Bunker's chair.

Take the miniature sculptures of presidents sold at the National Museum of American History, located right on the Mall in the nation's capital.

From the busts of George Washington to Barack Obama, they were made in China.

Last month Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, was so outraged by the situation that he fired off a letter demanding that the museum sell products made in the USA.

The Federal Budget buy the numbers....and what does a Trillion Dollars look like??

 The number "trillions" is the new norm. Whether it is revenues, spending or worse--budget deficits.  The graphic below represents ONE Trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000)  in $10,000 bundles each containing one hundred $100 dollar bills. This years budget deficit is projected to be $1.1 Trillion (probably going to be much more). Notice the average size man in the lower left hand corner.

Source HERE

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do you think gas prices are high? Nice graphic showing what other rich countries pay for gas...

This graphic shows the difference in gasoline prices among various "rich" countries. It is measured in dollars per litre. One litre is a little more than 1/4 of a gallon, hence there are a little less than 4 litres in a gallon.  Ignore the actual scale.  It is only important to look at the US cost of gasoline on the bar graph RELATIVE to the other countries.   Look at the bars. The gray-ish part of the bar represents the amount of the tax as a proportion of the price of gasoline. I am assuming the lighter blue bar represents the actual cost of gasoline.Notice the blue bars are mostly the same length, which means in most places the actual cost of gasoline is about the same.  The big difference in the total price is the tax that is levied.   Gas in the US is taxed at a much lower rate.  Gas is taxed at the state level and the Federal level in the US. The Federal portion is $18.4 cents and the State (Texas) is $.20 cents.  Some States it is less, most it is more.  So Texans pay $38.4 cents for every gallon pumped.  Are you surprised how much other countries pay in gas taxes?  It make the price very expensive in many European countries.  Why do you suppose that is so?  Good answers earn extra credit!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"No Coke, Just Pepsi"--Pepsi as a Social Enterpriser in developing countries---I hope more corporations go this route...

In AP Microeconomics today, a topic of conversation was how to best lift the economic fortunes of those in poor countries.  I used supply and demand analysis to show how agricultural subsidies result in surplus food that is sent to foreign locales as food aid.  In some countries this has been devastating to local agriculture (Ethiopia, for example).  I also used Toms Shoes as an example of when you give a good to people that COULD be produced locally, you may unintentionally harm the local production of that good. (Yes, in most poor countries they do make shoes for local consumption).  I believe these policies, in general, are not in the interest of the intended recipients.  There HAS to be a better way---MAYBE the following is it....

In the past, American companies doing business in the developing world have not been known for their abilities to forge mutual business relationships---that is a fancy way of saying in many instances it has been outright pillaging. Perhaps Pepsi is breaking new ground in this relationship.  If it is genuine and works the way described below, I believe this is THE way to help people improve their standard of living.  Giving small farmers a real incentive to produce and be more productive AND do it with a mutual respect for what they do.  Seems to be a win-win situation, which is what you want when you trade with someone...Let me know what you think...

For Pepsi, A Business Decision with Social Benefit

In the past, farmers would make the dangerous trek north from this tiny town hidden in the rugged folds of the Jalisco mountain range to the United States, hoping to earn enough money doing odd jobs to cover debts incurred while cultivating the small plots of land that have been in their families for generations.

But more recently, many have managed to avoid the trips, staying home as the result of a new venture with PepsiCo, which buys their crops.

“Some of us used to go north to work to make money to pay off debts, but no longer,” said Martín Ramos Torres, a farmer, adding that at least two members of the cooperative he leads had been caught by United States border patrol agents and deported. “In just three years, everything has changed.”

Mr. Ramos and some 300 small farmers here no longer sell their corn to middlemen but directly to PepsiCo, which guarantees the price it will pay for their crops upfront. The deal enables the small farmers to secure credit to buy seeds and fertilizers, crop insurance and equipment.

“Before, I had to sell my cow to buy what I needed,” said José Guzmán Santana, another farmer selling to Pepsi. “Now I keep the cow and my family has milk while I grow my crop.”

PepsiCo’s work with the corn farmers reflects a relatively new approach by corporations trying to maintain a business edge while helping out small communities and farmers. Begun as a pilot project by the foundation affiliated with the company’s Sabritas snack foods division, it is expanding to about 850 farmers to develop a local source of sunflower oil, which the company needs to improve the nutritional quality of its products.

The corn project saved PepsiCo transportation costs because the farms were close to two of its factories, and the use of local farms assured it access to types of corn best suited to its products and processes. “That gives us great leverage because corn prices don’t fluctuate so much, but transportation costs do,” said Pedro Padierna, president of PepsiCo’s operations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

The social benefits of the corn program are obvious in higher incomes that have improved nutritional and educational standards among the participating farmers, not to mention its impact on illegal immigration and possibly even the reduction of marijuana production.

Teachers who want a pay raise---Be careful what you ask for!!

Read the article below and think about it before making a judgement.  What if your school district DOUBLED your salary for next year.  Would you feel  more pressure to perform (whether is came from Admin OR yourself)? The doubling of your salary would make teaching a more attractive career choice for others.  Would the prospect of more competition for your job add stress to your life?  Many of you came from other professions where you made more money. Was the trade-off worth it--less money for more time off, more normal working hours AND a chance to make a REAL difference in kids lives?  Does that not factor into your personal calculation of your overall quality of life, as well as a paycheck?

I am worth $50,000 a year for what I do. Am I worth $75,000? $100,000? If so, am I (or you) willing to pay the price to earn that salary? Do we make about the right amount to keep the wolves of undue stress at bay?  I dont think these are unreasonable questions....

Go ahead, take your shots. Tell me where I am going wrong...

Feeling Stressed? Blame Your Raise

People who complain about being pressed for time often blame an overload at work, home—or both. Now researchers are pointing to a surprising culprit: the pay raise.

Individuals who make more money tend to feel more time pressure, after controlling for a wide range of factors, according to “Time Is Tight,” an article in the latest issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology. The authors drew on an economic principle to explain the finding: The more value we assign to our time, the scarcer it seems to us.
The findings make sense to me. I’ve noticed a tendency in both family members and myself to rush around more after a promotion or raise, which seems to elevate one’s sense of importance as well as raising the economic stakes.

Researchers for decades have tried to explain why Americans feel so rushed, studying issues from longer work hours to growing use of technology to multitasking. But based on time-diary studies, neither actual time worked nor the amount of free time they have has changed enough to account for the collective sense of time pressure. Past studies have suggested that time-squeeze stress may be at least partly in our heads. The article suggests a general rise in affluence may at least partly account for the perceived time famine.

“It may be that rising income over the past several decades within many countries—a phenomenon that makes time appear more valuable—can help explain the so-called modern time bind,” according to the study by Sanford DeVoe, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto and Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University. Presumably, lower pay would lead people to feel less time pressure: If they aren’t being paid much, they may find it easier to go at their own pace and avoid getting stressed out.

The article encompasses five studies. The first, of 6,846 people in Australia over several years, found people felt more pressed for time as their income rose. A second study assigned 67 college students to a fictitious corporate job and told some to charge 15 cents a minute for their labor, and others $15 a minute. Although both groups did the same tasks for the same length of time, those who charged more reported feeling more pressure.

In two other studies, college students were asked to report their assets and then were made to feel either wealthy relative to others, or relatively poor. Those who were made to feel wealthy reported feeling greater time pressure. They also showed less patience and rushed more quickly through a reading assignment, compared with students made to feel poor.

In a final study, 427 people were encouraged to focus consciously on the value of their time by calculating their per-hour earnings. That awareness strengthened the link between income and perceived time pressure.

Readers, what causes you to feel time pressure? Does it have anything to do with your income? Or is it just clashing roles or a lack of help? Have you ever noticed feeling more time pressure after you get a raise?
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