Can the American worker compete with developing countries if he/she has to earn $5,000 a year just to pay for to cover farm subsidies, health care for the old and the poor, and the war in Iraq? That's the question today from Harvard's Philip Greenspun, who certainly has a point of view on the subject:
Given that a fairly well educated worker in China can be employed for $5,000 per year, it is tough to understand how the American economy is sustainable unless we believe that our workers are vastly better educated than Chinese workers.
Let's not forget that the working slobs are soon to be taxed another $1 trillion to bail out real estate and mortgage speculators.
Greenspun also refutes this week's New York Times editorial, which called for a mortgage foreclosure prevention plan.
...in many cities today, house-price declines are so severe that potential buyers are staying on the sidelines, fearful of further collapse. The result is declines that are deeper than need be to restore affordability. That's everyone's problem, because as long as house prices continue to fall, the financial system will remain unsettled and the economy will not revive.
Are we staring into the reality that something -- our "standard of living," perhaps? -- has to give? If so, what is it?
It's time to compare notes.
On the way home yesterday, I tried to calculate whether my plan of spending only $20 a week on gasoline is going to work. I think I can make it to Friday if I don't make any unnecessary trips, I get a tailwind, and I only drive downhill. We'll see.
When I got home, I fired up Quicken to find out whether all of my fretting about the price of gasoline has been a worthy endeavor. Has it -- at least as measured by the cost of gasoline I'm putting in my car -- been warranted?
Using Quicken's reports feature, I called up how much I spent in gasoline in 2007 from January 1 to May 22. $363.61. Then I ran the same report, but changed the dates to 2008. The result? $364.20. That's a 51-cents increase. And I haven't even started the whole bike-to-work-one-day-a-week thing yet.
How'd that happen? I've been focusing on increasing my miles per gallon (I drive 55, I brake and accelerate over a greater distance), and not really considering the effect of combining trips etc.
I know a lot of you use Quicken, too, to track your finances. Run the same report, please, and report back here on the net result of your changed -- or not -- driving habits.
Also, list some of the ways you've changed. One tip free: Don't fill up. Fill the tank only half full. Otherwise, you're wasting gasoline lugging around the weight of additional fuel you don't need unless you're on a long trip.(2 Comments)
Posted at 11:57 AM on May 22, 2008
by Bob Collins
Stars and Stripes reports that the commander of forces in Afghanistan has lifted the combat-zone ban on sex between people who are not married. Sort of:
The UCMJ contains several provisions under which sexual relations are prohibited between men and women. For instance, married persons cannot engage legally in sex with anyone other than their spouse, or they can be prosecuted for adultery. Sexual relations between subordinates and higher-ranking personnel are prohibited within the same chain of command. Sexual relations between officers and enlisted personnel are generally prohibited as well. Homosexual relations are completely prohibited under the code.
More reasons to love your earth's atmosphere.
We could be the moon where, according to a NASA news release, hundreds of explosions have occurred in the two years NASA has been monitoring the moon, in anticipation of a return of U.S. astronauts.
Here's video of one (supplied by NASA)
Meanwhile, there's new concern about global warming today... on Jupiter.(2 Comments)
MnDOT announced today that office drop-in hours for the Lafayette Bridge (Highway 52) replacement over the Mississippi River in St. Paul will be held 8-10 a.m. next Thursday at 222 East Plato Boulevard in St. Paul. I've been less successful at finding out what people will find when they get there in terms of how the bridge is going to be replaced in 2011. MnDOT did not return phone calls and e-mails to provide that information.
The bridge, for me, is one of the scarier ones. Its rating is worse than that of the ill-fated I-35W structure, and it's also a fracture-critical bridge, meaning -- like the I-35W bridge -- if part of it goes, the whole thing goes.
MnDOT officials have assured us there's nothing to worry about and while I accept their engineering expertise, I admit to being partial to bridges that at least look like they're not duct-taped together. Give me a can of Rustoleum and a few hours on the Lafayette's underbelly, and I'd feel a lot better.
This being a gorgeous Minnesota day, I went over to the bridge and, frankly, I was less scared than when I made a similar trip a few days after the August 1 collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis. But maybe I'm just getting used to Minnesota's bridges.
Still, I'm no fan of rusty girders...
Corroded plates with exposed and rusted rivet heads...
Plywood and 2 x 4s under the decking...
And I've been nervous about pigeon poo ever since some experts speculated that it might've had something to do with the I-35W tragedy.
Ugly? Yeah. But it's not exactly the bridge in Indiana Jones and the
Last Crusade Temple of Doom.
We'll be interested to find out -- maybe next week -- how the bridge will be replaced. Will they build another one next to it and then knock it down? Or will 81,000 cars a day be routed through downtown St. Paul and over the Robert St. bridge (and back onto 52 via Plato?).