Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another step backwards for America!

There is a story in today’s Denver Post about a guy who dropped his lawsuit against the family of a 17 year old he hit with his car and killed while driving 100 mph. Apparently, the kid's head and bike trashed his Audi, and he was trying to recover the money to fix his car from their settlement from his insurance company. Sound crazy? Here’s the even crazier part: this happened in Spain, not the US.

Come on America! Our standing in the world has been diminished by the actions of our idiot President, but surely we are not going to give up our spot as the world leaders in ridiculous lawsuits! We can’t push the world around in basketball, women’s soccer, or war anymore……are we going to give up litigiousness too? Go out and sue someone. It’s your patriotic duty!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Maybe we are a bunch of idiots!

I am currently teaching 3 Economics classes at Front Range Community College. Classes started last week, and I decided to give my students a little quiz to see what they know about what’s going on in the world. The results are quite depressing. Below are the questions and data.






Who is Sec. of State



Who is Ben Bernanke?



Name the leader of:


















What is the Bill of Rights



What is Brown v Board



Who is Sec of Treasury



How many in US Senate?



Name a Commie country



Who is Gov of CO



Name CO Senators



Who is Speaker of House



Only 25% know the name of the Governor of their own state! No one, including one student who is a Canadian citizen, can name the PM of Canada, or knows Sarkozy’s name (although several know he is dating a pop singer). Only 30% know how many Senators there are? What the hell are kids learning in school today?

I didn’t expect many would know Hank Paulson is Secretary of Treasury. And it is surprising that 1/3 know about “Brown v Board of Ed. of Topeka”. But the rest of this is just scary.

What does this say about our youth, and the future of our country? Does it explain why the White House is occupied by a complete idiot? These people can vote, yet they would badly fail the test to become a US citizen!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The must think we are complete morons!

There are very few things you can get most Economists to agree upon. The benefit of free trade is probably at the top of the list. But it also seems that the stupidity of public funding, via tax dollars, for sports stadiums is another. I’ve never read a single article or study that says this makes sense. This is also one of the few issues my dad and I agree upon. Yet the politicians and snake-oil salesman keep convincing voters their money is better spent building playgrounds for the rich than on their own needs, or on education or infrastructure. A recent post on The Sports Economist speaks to this.

About 11 years ago the voters here in the Denver area voted to tax themselves to build the Broncos a new palace. The issue actually passed more easily than an issue a few years ago to allow the state to keep money it had to refund to taxpayers (google “TABOR” if you want more details). The money from that is being used on frivolous things like infrastructure and higher education, so it makes sense that an important thing like a football team would get into our pockets more easily.

Well, some folks around here must think we are real suckers. A story on the front page of The Denver Post today describes a plan to build a massive complex that will include the Great Western Stock Show, the US Olympic training facility, and a NASCAR track. No talk yet of how much they are going to want us to pony up, but I’m sure they will make it sound like SO little for SO much! They must think we are morons…..and maybe their right.

The article says the proponents haven’t yet decided what areas they want to include in the region that would be taxed. They hope to have an issue on the ballot in November. Fortunately for me, I live in Boulder, where folks will tax themselves like crazy for wild animals, but probably not for cow, and definitely not for NASCAR. Boulder is one of the most educated cities in America… stock car racing fans here! This is my best hope of not having my pocket picked for this ridiculous boondoggle: that they will realize this is a loser here in Boulder, so leave us out of it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Joe Jackson shills for Taco Bell?

I wasn't shocked when the Stones sold some songs for commercials. They've always been into money. Nothing wrong with that. I was a bit surprised a few years ago when I heard a Spinal Tap song (“Gimme Some Money”) used in a financial services ad on CNBC. I actually found that one amusing, what with Spinal Tap being a fake band.

But Joe Jackson for Taco Bell!!!!???? Come on ! Joe Jackson? And not a hit song, as if he ever had one (Stepping Out?). But “One More Time” off his very old album “Look Sharp” ( a great album by the way). I'm not pissed....everyone has a right to make some bucks from their creative talents....but JOE JACKSON? This is a guy who has always struck me as being happy to be a niche guy, happy to make good music, make a decent living, and never cared whether he had a hit. So now he let's Taco Bell use his song to sell cheesy stuffed gorditas! Weird!

If you haven't seen the add, go here

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The NHL does it again!

Those of us who love hockey have long known that the NHL is run by the dumbest rich guys outside the middle east. Here is the latest example:

Today, the Buffalo Sabres played a a great hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Ralph Wilson Stadium before about 73k fans. I'm sure the rating will suck, because the NHL over the years has marketed it's great product so badly that most American sports fans would rather watch illiterate, criminal college football players drop pass after pass than watch a great hockey game. I was in Buffalo, where they love hockey and their Sabres, around Christmas and the morons who run the NHL had not managed to get any merchandise for this unique event into stores before xmas. The day after, I did see one ugly baseball cap in a store. Meanwhile, in a city where Sabres merchandise is appropriate apparell for any occasion, they miss out on millions in sales.


Stop the Ethanol Insanity!!!

As usual, when it comes to subsidizing ethanol, bad politics is clobbering good economics. There are no scientists or economists who will tell you that ethanol from corn is a good idea, only politicians and farmers. Anyone with half a brain would know that subsidizing ethanol from corn is a losing proposition. In fact, we consumers get to pay twice for this stupidity: our tax dollars go to the ethanol industry, and our food prices skyrocket as supplies of other foods decrease because more acreage is planted as corn.
I was willing to write this off as just another case of unstoppable idiocy, until I read this story in The Economist:

A shortage of hops threatens Christmas

JUST as the festive season gets going, drinkers in America are finding their favourite beer suddenly more expensive or even—horrors!—not available at all. Hit by price increases and shortages, many breweries, particularly the small “craft brewers” and the even smaller microbreweries, are being forced to raise prices, make do with modified recipes or shut off the spigots altogether.

The humble hop, the plant that gives beer its distinctive flavour, is the main problem. Many farmers in the Pacific north-west, where America's hop production is concentrated, have turned to more profitable lines—especially corn, which can be made into ethanol. The decrease in hop production, put at some 50% over the past decade, has sent prices through the roof. Brian Owens, the brewmaster of the O'Fallon Brewery near St Louis, Missouri, says that the variety he once bought for $3 a pound (0.45kg) now costs five times that. Many smaller breweries cannot find what they need at any price. Industry giants like Anheuser-Busch and Miller are better off, thanks to long-term contracts. But even Anheuser-Busch has been forced to raise prices for its six-packs.

A shortage of good beer? This has gone far too far!!!

Rise up America. Write your Congressmen. Better yet, slap them around. Make them stop now. We already pander to farmers like babbling idiots, but this is threatening the great American lifestyle, and I won't take it anymore!