Someone told me that NOS, which is a sponsor of various auto events and gives away free samples of its drinks, has been bought out by Coca-Cola. As there were no drinking fountains I drank a lot of samples, and that wasn't a good idea. Besides having high fructose corn syrup, the drinks upset my stomach.
I could have stood by next to the track, but I wasn't so interested in watching the racing. Remembering that track-side spectators have been killed as a result of racing car accidents, I was a bit surprised that so many still stood so close to the racing...
I missed the Falken Tire team at their booth (signing autographs?) -- I don't know if they came later in the afternoon, or if I just didn't spot them when I walked by.
John Médaille posts this comment at another blog:
I think I have responded to every argument on trade. But surely you cannot think that “deficits don’t matter” and “it’s only bits of paper” are convincing arguments; it would certainly need a high theory to support such claims. If we are talking about challenges to economic orthodoxy, the “deficits don’t matter” school is at the extreme fringe; very few people with any right to an opinion believe that this can be prolonged indefinitely without a collapse, even of the entire global trading system. Indeed, it is only a peculiar combination of circumstances that has allowed it to continue this long, and these situations cannot continue much longer. Nor does it give me particular comfort to know that our most important assets are being bought up with money we shipped overseas. That kind of money floating around in foreign hands is nothing less than a threat to our very sovereignty.
As for betting on the future, I have no problems; I do it every day with my retirement account. But betting on a specific unemployment number I won’t do, and neither would anybody who understood what that number is. Basically, it is a vague construct that becomes very unreliable in times of turmoil, and there are any number of careful people who say it is unreliable now. Even the Official U6 number is already near 17%, while John Williams of “Shadow Stats” claims it is 22% (http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts) Williams is pointing to the fact that the Clinton administration changed the way the numbers were reported to make them look smaller than they had in the past. The numbers supposedly represent those who are actually searching for a job. It would be very easy to lower the unemployment rate very quickly; just drop coverage after 26 weeks. Then those who are in fact “discouraged” but only keep looking because it is a requirement of the dole will stop looking, and therefore will not be counted. Both the labor force participation rate and the unemployment rate would fall, but the situation would not improve. Further, cutting the benefits would decrease demand, which would further increase unemployment, maybe to the point of a death spiral.
Here are some real numbers, regardless of what “rates” you care to quote:
Total working age population: 238.099million
Total Working Full Time: 111.832 million
Total Part Time Workers: 27.418 million.
Total Working: 139.25 million
Total not working: 98.849 million
Total Searching “Unemployed”: 14.86 million
Total Not Working Full Time: 126.267 million (not that “unemployed” is only 1/6th this number.)
In the next 24 months, we would have to have 3.6 million more jobs just to keep up with population growth, at a minimum, and I think the number is closer to 5 million. So that gives us something like 18 to 20 million jobs that we need in the next 2 years. Do you know of any industry or combination of industries that can absorb that many workers?
Nor is that all. The welfare claims, already high, are about to explode. In addition to the unemployed, the businesses getting subsidies and bailouts, and such things, we have an aging population. This year, the Social Security fund, which has been subsidizing the general fund for 30 years, will require a subsidy (pay back of the so-called bonds) from the general fund; it will go cash-negative. And we have rising Medicare claims and rising healthcare costs, with or without the Bill.
Traditional measures have not worked and will not work. We are trying stimulus. This has worked for the better part of 70 years, perhaps the best 70 years in our economic history. But it works best in an economy that is closed or has balanced trade. Not only does more of the stimulus lead off-shore, but without a larger manufacturing base it is harder to reach “escape velocity” (as Bernanke puts it). After all, the Bush years were pure stimulus with little results. Bush added $6T to the debt, which is a lot of stimulus, and that’s not even counting the monetary stimulus from Greenspan’s Fed policies. And yet for all that, the results were anemic, even before the crash.
All of that would be enough, but it is not all. There is a worldwide crisis shaping up. Sovereign debt spreads in Europe are increasing, and the PIIGS are getting shakier. And you can bet on some commodity shocks.
Nor is there anything in current thinking that can fix the problems. Indeed, you cannot fix any problem with thinking on the level that created it, which is what we are trying to do.
You want some predictions? Obama will not be able to fix this. The democrats may do better in November than most people think, but it won’t matter. By 2012, he will be a dead man walking, and may not even get re-nominated. The Republicans will take the elections, but they have no answers either; and there will be a general looting of the treasury by the well-connected before things collapse (see the Soviet Union for a model of what this looks like). And then things will get bad. Under current arrangements and current thinking, there is no way out this side of social chaos.
Is that scary enough?
There are ways to save the system, but there is neither knowledge nor will nor sufficient dedication to the common good that such solutions require. Partisanship will win, which means we all lose.