Friday, June 1, 2012

Just light up a Big Gulp, and relax

Job creation numbers for May were considered disappointing at 69,000, but would have been higher without the subtraction of another 17,000 red state government jobs, mostly teachers and highway project workers. Construction job losses of 28,000 also pulled the net jobs number down. This reflects the winding down of Obama’s stimulus projects, and the austerity of those red states again as private sector lost 11,000 jobs in civil engineering and heavy construction. Republicans in Congress are dragging their feet on approving new Highway funds that run out June 30, and this could really tank the economy if allowed to happen.

A May hiring slump after a warm winter is normal, but March and April have been revised downward too. On the other hand May was still better than an average month under Bush, and that’s without subtracting the millions of jobs lost at the end of Bush’s disastrous reign. I can hardly wait to read his new book on economics due out this Fall. Should be a best seller, like Napoleon’s “See Russia on 3 francs a Day.”

There are positive indicators in housing, manufacturing and most sectors are at least holding their own. Declining gasoline prices should boost the economy in the coming months and the auto industry was still showing record growth in the past month.

Mayor Bloomberg (a Republican) has figured out the tonnage that he can in theory take off the butts of New Yorkers by not allowing the sale of the mega-gulp size sweetened beverages. The numbers are real, and the restaurant business should embrace the regulation. It reduces their overhead if they don’t need to provide the barrels for the super-extra-mega-drown a whale size drinks, since the guy next door won’t be selling them either.

As far as the health benefit goes, the Mayor has missed the real problem, people will probably drink just as much as they are in fact addicted to a chemical comparable to cocaine. We’ve long known that sugar is bad for you, but we had cheap sugar for hundreds of years without these problems. Epidemic obesity and type II diabetes only appeared 35 years ago, before that it was so rare it didn’t have a name. What changed was the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup. To begin with, it’s not even corn syrup (a fermentation product), High Fructose Corn Syrup a chemically manufactured molecule made from corn starch.

A study done on lab mice two years ago identified the obesity/diabetes problem quite definitively. Mice fed a 100% conventional sugar diet looked exactly the same as the control group fed standard mouse-chow. The test group fed High Fructose Corn Syrup experienced a transformation into a tennis ball size and shape, resembling a mouse only from the fur covering and the tail. This occurred in 100% of those mice exposed to the “big-gulp” diet.

Any pharmaceutical drug that produced this sort of 100% fatal side effect in test mice would be banned. Food processors that weren’t dependent on the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup in their products immediately discontinued its use. The Big Gulp industry took a different route. They attempted to persuade the FDA to allow them to rename High Fructose Corn Syrup on ingredient listings as “corn sugar”. They’ve been running an ad blitz in the meantime to make consumers think that “smoking is good for you”, wait, same people - wrong quote, err, it‘s “corn sugar is natural, nutritious, and ‘good to the last puff‘“.

The FDA this week politely declined the request from the Big Gulp Industry on the grounds that sugar is traditionally “dry” and syrup is not, it might also confuse those consumers that are allergic to corn. The chemical the Big Gulp Industry would like you to call “corn sugar” can’t be produced in a “dry” form.  I would think the FDA would be more concerned that 100% of mice are fatally “allergic“. With 50% obesity rates and an estimate that a third of today’s kids are expected to become diabetic by age 50 might indicate that 100% of humans are “allergic“ as well.  Mayor Bloomberg shouldn’t restrict the size of drinks, just include a “black box” warning like is done on drugs that kill a certain percentage of the people who take them. In this case it seems to be at least a third of users.  Might as well smoke it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Chickens are Naked, and Proud

The Dow fell like a rock today, the reported reason for this was the Wall Street banks exposure to Spanish bonds. But it was industrials like Alcoa and Caterpillar that were the big losers followed by the oil companies, and only then the banks. Oil company profits are expected to decline with the falling price of gasoline as if they didn’t still have a monopoly.

Companies like Caterpillar are locked in major labor disputes where they are attempting to strip the benefits from so-called second tier union employees. These are people hired since Reagan broke the unions. They typically receive in the neighborhood of $11/hr plus benefits. In Romney land, these benefits have to go. The hourly wages these workers receive are the same, or less than the minimum wage of 25 cents/hour (adjusted for inflation) that workers got under the New Deal in 1938. Union wages were several times that then, but not in our brave new world of unregulated capitalism.

Another 200,000 people are losing unemployment benefits under the deal the Republicans forced through Congress in December as more states come under this austerity plan. The long term unemployed are now currently out of work even longer than those similarly affected during the Great Depression of the 30s. Of course they had the New Deal, we don’t. Even Hoover tried to put people back to work, the right today calls Hoover misguided.

The people who try to make sense of the retirement swindle plans estimate that the typical couple retiring now after paying into a 401(k) since Reagan invented them, has paid $155,000 in hidden fees. Some have been swindled out of several times that. New regulations to be put in place by Obama in July will force companies to reveal to you how bad they are ripping you off. It won’t stop the practices, but the Republicans are spitting mad just the same.

Obama signed into law today the renewal of the Import-Export Bank that Republicans had sought to kill under the guise of fiscal responsibility, even though it is self funded from fees. They just wanted to crash the economy under Obama’s watch, but enough Republicans lost their nerve in this election year for it to pass anyway.

It turns out that the NY Fed that supervises JP Morgan Chase, with a staff of 60 on site auditors, wasn’t watching the highly risking operation they were running that has lost at least $5 billion. BTW, Jamie Diamon who is the CEO of JP M C sits on the NY Fed Board, and has the ability to pay anybody who works for the Fed a lifetime of income for a short stint as a “consultant” on their way to retirement in the Caymans. All perfectly “legal”, of course.

It’s official that Obama won’t be going to Wisconsin in advance of the Koch Brothers owned Governor’s Recall Election. This has certain liberals fuming, but not everybody in Wisconsin agrees with that the President should come. Let’s do a little reality check. The Obama campaign in Chicago has a super computer, the smartest people in the world to run it, and millions of dollars worth of polling data to feed into it. They’ve decided that Obama’s appearance would only fire up the Republican base, who might otherwise let Walker be recalled since the FBI will get him soon anyway.

Obama has devoted considerable resources behind the scenes to promote the recall just the same. Democrats in Wisconsin don’t need to see Obama to be fired up, they already have their pitchforks sharpened, their torches are lit, the tar is boiling and every chicken in the state is naked, having given its feathers for a good cause. Governor Walker should be able to fly after Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Huge Show, Huge

Romney made a huge show of going to Sin City to kiss the ring of The Donald (again) despite George Will making a huge show of calling Trump a 'bloviating ignoramus'. Notice I'm repeating 'huge show', it's because that's all they've got left. The irony of George Will calling anybody a 'bloviating ignoramus' is the very definition of the pot calling the kettle black. 

The thing is that Mittens is falling so fast in the polls that the election could be rendered moot. Now only polling 35% nationwide, including averaging in states that never accepted the surrender of Lee as the final word on their secession from the Union. It's not so much that Obama is winning over the flat earth crowd, but rather they aren't going to vote in big numbers. The new Millennial Generation is going to vote however. They are the biggest generation in sheer numbers ever (outstripping the baby boomers). They represent 2 million new voters a year and are motivated like no generation since the Progressives of a hundred years ago. This means that just between now and the election nearly one million newly minted 18 year old Americans will join Obama's Forward movement. In short Obama is gaining voters faster than Mitt Romney can commit verbal gaffes. 

The media is wallowing in Super Pac money so they aren't going to admit that it's all but over. And, that's a good thing. If they weren't doing it just for the money you could call them Patriotic, even call them the Liberal Media (as if there could be such a thing). If they keep the "race close" despite all evidence to the contrary, they will produce a huge turnout of Democrats. This really could be a huge show.