PrestoPundit

Archive for August, 2006

Was The Gulf -Iraq War, 1991-Present A Mistake?

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/31/2006

Consider this:

we’re spending 50% more on occupying Iraq each year than all the whole country’s current oil production is worth at $70 per barrel

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Posted in International | Comments Off on Was The Gulf -Iraq War, 1991-Present A Mistake?

Katrina

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/31/2006

All you need to know about what really happened — and what really didn’t happen — in less than 300 words.

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Katrina

Gunter Grass’s Nazi Soul

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/28/2006

Pre-war German Nazis — like post-war German leftists — loathed Western liberalism, especially as exemplified in the United States. It’s no surpise then that famed author Gunter Grass seamlessly transitioned from Hitler enthusiast to lefty intellectual. Quotable:

German commentator Jens Jessen .. notes, there is a common thread underlying [Grass’s] political weltanschauung. Jessen writes that in his work “Grass points out with verve the anti-bourgeois attitude of the Nazis” and the fascination of the Nazi ‘Volksgemeinschaft’ (people’s community), in which there are no ‘class differences and religious darkness.’”

Posted in The Left | Comments Off on Gunter Grass’s Nazi Soul

The NY Times on Real Wages — News or Spin?

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/28/2006

Cafe Hayek takes a closer look.

Posted in The Left | Comments Off on The NY Times on Real Wages — News or Spin?

The Memory Molecule

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/28/2006

Yet more support for Hayek’s synaptic connection model of mind/brain. Quotable:

The SUNY Downstate researchers reported in the August 25 issue of Science that an enzyme molecule called “protein kinase M zeta” preserves long-term memories through persistent strengthening of synaptic connections between neurons. This is analogous to the mechanism storing information as 0’s and 1’s in a computer’s hard disc. By inhibiting the enzyme, scientists were able to erase a memory that had been stored for one day, or even one month.

Posted in Hayek | Comments Off on The Memory Molecule

Immigration — Facts to Think About

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/28/2006

Quotable:

There are 36 million immigrants here, a number almost equal to all who ever came from Jamestown in 1607 to JFK.

We are host to more illegal aliens, 12 million, than all the Jews, English and Irish who came over 400 years.

In George W. Bush’s tenure, 6 million [illegals] have been caught on our Southern border breaking in. One in 12 had a criminal record.

Behind them .. are the world’s 4 billion to 5 billion people whose average income is less than that of Mexico.

Last year, 155,000 OTMs (“other than Mexicans”), triple the number of 2003, from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia were caught. Four of five never appeared in court. They vanished into our midst ..

Posted in Immigration, International | Comments Off on Immigration — Facts to Think About

Real Wages Fall

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/28/2006

Even as labor productivity and corporate profits increase — so reports the New York Times:

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers’ benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data.

At the very top of the income spectrum, many workers have continued to receive raises that outpace inflation, and the gains have been large enough to keep average income and consumer spending rising.

More:

Although the economy continues to add jobs, global trade, immigration, layoffs and technology — as well as the insecurity caused by them — appear to have eroded workers’ bargaining power.

Trade unions are much weaker than they once were, while the buying power of the minimum wage is at a 50-year low. And health care is far more expensive than it was a decade ago, causing companies to spend more on benefits at the expense of wages.

Together, these forces have caused a growing share of the economy to go to companies instead of workers’ paychecks. In the first quarter of 2006, wages and salaries represented 45 percent of gross domestic product, down from almost 50 percent in the first quarter of 2001 and a record 53.6 percent in the first quarter of 1970, according to the Commerce Department. Each percentage point now equals about $132 billion.

Total employee compensation — wages plus benefits — has fared a little better. Its share was briefly lower than its current level of 56.1 percent in the mid-1990’s and otherwise has not been so low since 1966.

Over the last year, the value of employee benefits has risen only 3.4 percent, while inflation has exceeded 4 percent, according to the Labor Department.

In Europe and Japan, the profit share of economic output is also at or near record levels, noted Larry Hatheway, chief economist for UBS Investment Bank, who said that this highlighted the pressures of globalization on wages. Many Americans, be they apparel workers or software programmers, are facing more comptition from China and India.

In another recent report on the boom in profits, economists at Goldman Sachs wrote, “The most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor’s share of national income.” Low interest rates and the moderate cost of capital goods, like computers, have also played a role, though economists note that an economic slowdown could hurt profits in coming months.

For most of the last century, wages and productivity — the key measure of the economy’s efficiency — have risen together, increasing rapidly through the 1950’s and 60’s and far more slowly in the 1970’s and 80’s.

But in recent years, the productivity gains have continued while the pay increases have not kept up. Worker productivity rose 16.6 percent from 2000 to 2005, while total compensation for the median worker rose 7.2 percent, according to Labor Department statistics analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group. Benefits accounted for most of the increase.

Posted in Economics, Immigration | Comments Off on Real Wages Fall

Greenhut on Schwarzenegger’s Bid

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/27/2006

California GOPers can’t wait to be fooled again.

Posted in California | Comments Off on Greenhut on Schwarzenegger’s Bid

Quote of the Day

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/27/2006

The problem with being poor today is not so much that you don’t own enough goods but that you have to live around other poor people.

Steve Sailer.

Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Quote of the Day

Sailer Debunks Gladwell

Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/27/2006

Again — this time on demographics and economic growth. Quotable:

” .. Last year, Ireland’s dependency ratio hit an all-time low: for every ten dependents, it had twenty-two people of working age. That change coincides precisely with the country’s extraordinary economic surge.”

So, that must explain why Ukraine, with a total fertility rate of 1.17 babies per woman, is so prosperous these days! Ukraine has a higher percentage of its population in the age 15-64 bracket (69.3% according to the CIA World Factbook) than Ireland (67.6%).Yet, Ukraine’s per capita income is barely 1/6th of Ireland’s.

Similarly, Tunisia’s population is more clustered in the working years “sweet spot” (68.6%) than Ireland’s, yet Tunisia is not an economic hot spot. It’s per capita income is only 1/5th of Ireland’s.

Contraceptives were legalized in Ireland in 1979. (Ireland’s birthrate was not all that high before then, though, due to its extraordinarily high first marriage ages: 31 for men and 26 for women. Because of the sexual shenanigans of the Kennedy clan, we Americans forget the old and valid stereotype of Irish sexual restraint). But when I visited Ireland in 1987, it was still economically stagnant. When I came back in 1994, it was not yet noticeably wealthier. No, it was the economic reforms of the 1990s, more than anything else, that liberated Ireland from its traditional poverty ..

Sailer goes on to discuss the problem of poverty in Africa. Worth a read.

Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Sailer Debunks Gladwell