Saturday, November 17, 2012

Is our emphasis on "manufacturing" as industrial policy in 2012 really folly and based on political pandering? Does it miss the point regarding the changing nature of the modern economy? Yes, I think so. Find out why here...

Is our emphasis on "manufacturing" as industrial policy in 2012 really folly and based on political pandering? Does it miss the point regarding the changing nature of the modern economy?

I think in many ways we are chasing ghosts from the past and not looking to the future. 

The value in manufacturing increasingly takes place in the intellect and creative crevices of the mind, not in the calluses on the hands or sweat of the brow of the laborer. 

Here is an excerpt from a commentary on the topic from The Financial Times (the whole article is below).
When you look at the value chain of manufactured goods we consume today, you quickly appreciate how small a proportion of the value of output is represented by the processes of manufacturing and assembly. Most of what you pay reflects the style of the suit, the design of the iPhone, the precision of the assembly of the aircraft engine, the painstaking pharmaceutical research, the quality assurance that tells you products really are what they claim to be.
Physical labour incorporated in manufactured goods is a cheap commodity in a globalised world. But the skills and capabilities that turn that labour into products of extraordinary complexity and sophistication are not. The iPhone is a manufactured product, but its value to the user is as a crystallisation of services.
Many of those who talk about the central economic importance of manufactured goods do so from an understandable concern for employment and the trade balance. Where will the jobs come from in a service-based economy, manufacturing fetishists ask? From doing here the things that cannot be done better elsewhere, either because of the particularity of the skills they require, or because these activities can only be performed close to home. Manufacturing was once a principal source of low-skilled employment but this can no longer be true in advanced economies.

Video: The Miracle of the Pencil...And everything else...

In posting just before this one I extolled the virtues of the Capitalism and Creative Destruction (by implication) through a high tech device---a Smartphone.  Now, I would like to do the same with a
very low tech device---a Pencil!

Here is a nice video (about 6 minutes long) illustrating the Miracle of the Pencil and how it comes to the marketplace.  Innumerable resources and activities have to be co-ordinated to create such a simple thing at such a low price.  Look at a pencil, then look at EVERYTHING else around you.  Think about the effort it took to get those things within your reach. 

I dont think the word miracle is that far-fetched...

HT: Cafe Hayek and the links from there...

Look at this photo then look at your Smartphone. I see the most environmentally friendly device EVER produced. What do you see?

If you have a Smart Phone take it out. Look at all the things it came pre-loaded to do and all the apps you have added to it. 

Now, think of all the separate "gadgets" you either have or used to have that now your pocket-sized phone can do anywhere you go. This photo below really should be much bigger and have many, many more items in it.

I see a device that saves an incalcuable amount of societal natural resources. Start adding it up! Impossible, isn't it? 

Why can't we give a shout out now and then to an economic system, though it has its faults, that produces goods and services that make our lives richer, better and environmentally better off? 

Just askin'...

Source: Carpe Diem

Eye-Opening video (very short) on Brazils effort to curb destruction of the Amazon Rainforest in order to grow food. Will make you think about your next bite of food!

Balancing the need to grow food for a world that is growing richer and the need to be mindful of the effect on the environment is no easy task.

Here is a recently produced video of Brazil's effort to curb "rogue" farming and illegal destruction of the Amazon Rain-forest.

Eye-opening and makes you think! Worth 4 minutes of your time if you are interested in the topic.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nice Infographic showing the Income and Wealth of the Characters in "Twilight". Very Walmart family-like...

I am not a fan of this movie series.  Don't hate me for it.

This is a nice example and illustration of people who are "income poor" but asset rich and are considered "wealthy".  We tax income at much higher rates but don't tax physical or financial assets until they are sold (for the most part, anyway, at the FEDERAL level). 

I guess you could say the characters from this movie are kinda like the children of Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame.  Asset rich, income "poor".   Ok, no jokes about them being retail Vampires.  :)
Source: Business Insider

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Taking stock of my own ignorance---a 24/7 task...

"I always try to take stock of my own ignorance in certain subjects before I label someone else as such. That seems only fair and I usually find, upon genuine reflection, I don't really know as much as I thought I did..."

Not an original thought. I have seen variations of it from a variety of philosophers. It is prompted by various postings I see in the blogosphere and on my Facebook newsfeed.

I try to post things (here and on my FB page) that either informs; points out something different to; or makes laugh, anyone who wants to read it.  For me it is fun, stimulating, educational, professional development, a hobby, blah, blah, blah...All good stuff!

Many others post things that mock, demean or other wise plays on the "ignorance" of others, and the comments flow in agreement and then some. Congratulatons: you win the game of intellectual superiorty!  I hope you feel better in your cozy blanket of smugness.  I say you are lazy and ask if you were really as smart as you think (know) you are, why not just forgo the "low-hanging fruit" of judgement and let it pass by? 

I guess (ok, er, I know) I have a thin skin. That stuff bothers me, especially when it comes from people I know and respect OR from people  I don't know but I read and respect.

I will just let John Coffey speak for me.  He says it best and definitively. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teachers/Students---Here is a link to a TERRIFIC explanation of the the Pros and Cons of a Carbon Tax OR a Cap and Trade system to reduce Carbon Emissions.

There are two primary ways under consideration for reducing carbon emissions that contribute to climate change---A straight carbon tax on individual consumption of fossil fuels (i.e. gasoline) at the point of sale OR a "cap and trade" system  that affects producers of goods and their use of carbon based fuels/energy/inputs.  Both are designed to make emitting carbon more expensive, either directly for the consumer or the producer. Ultimately, the consumer bears the brunt of either policy in higher prices.

Here (Economics in Plain English) is a terrific and pretty definitive lesson/explanation (complete with graphs!) on the pros and cons of implementing a carbon tax.  It contains MANY, MANY Microeconomics topics and concepts that are covered in class and on the AP Microeconomics test.  If you are interested in the topic, this is a must see!

Economics in Plain English also has a most excellent explanation of the Cap and Trade system HERE.

Read both, ponder them, then decide which would be more effective.

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