On This Day In History, The Exxon Valdez Runs Aground

Submitted by Roanman on Thu, 03/24/2016 - 18:42

 

One of the worst oil spills in U.S. history occurred on this date in 1989 when the supertanker Exxon Valdez, owned and operated by the Exxon Corporation, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound in southern Alaska.  An estimated 11 million gallons of oil were spilled into the water.  Wind and currents spread the oil more than 100 miles from its source, eventually polluting more than 1,100 miles of coastline.

Click on the photo above for an outstanding account of the accident, the cleanup and the consequences of this tragedy from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Council.  Way recommended.

It took more than four summers of cleanup efforts before the effort to clean the beaches was called off. Not all beaches were cleaned and some beaches remain oiled to this day.  At its peak the cleanup effort included 10,000 workers, about 1,000 boats and roughly 100 airplanes and helicopters, known as Exxon's army, navy, and air force.  It is widely believed that wave action from winter storms accomplished more cleaning of the beaches than four years of human efforts.

 

The Chapwood Index

Submitted by Roanman on Sun, 03/20/2016 - 19:01

I've been going on for sometime about what I view to be the cynically dishonest calculation for the headline unemployment number, otherwise known as U3. Which number only the most blatant of our government's paid shills in the press and the most willfully ignorant of both left and right wing partisans are able to tout without cringing.

This morning we'll look into what I view to be the equally dishonest inflation numbers being offered up as factual by the Federal Government's Bureau of Labor Statics or BLS and worse yet supposedly beiing used to drive monetary policy at the Federal Reserve.

Ed Butowsky, managing partner for Chapwood Equities has developed his own method for calculating the rate of inflation and has compiled it into "The Chapwood Index".

That's Ed over there on the right.

Click on the image below for a trip to the Chapwood Index.

Here's a short history of the CPI as seen by Mr. Butowsky.

"In 1983, the government CPI rose roughly 12% and the government modified the CPI calculation to save money. In order to save money on salary increases and entitlement benefits, which are tied to CPI, the government changed their calculation of the CPI to reflect a much lower number.

The statistic underwent another reconfiguration in 1995/96 with the Boskin Commission. These changes made the CPI an even worse indication of the real cost of living increase.

It is estimated that between 1996 and 2006, this reconfiguration of the CPI saved the US government over $680 billion.

Since then, the government has been artificially deflating the CPI to keep figures as low as possible. The readings you see published today no longer represent the real out of pocket expenditures incurred by most Americans.

The government’s baseline CPI measure excludes items such as taxes, energy, and food; which are not only necessities, but also often a majority of our daily expenditures.

The CPI increase from 2008-2012 was a total of 10.2%, but our research has found that for many cities, the cost of living increase was more than that in 2012 alone.  The increase was slightly more in 2013."

... and furthermore ...

"While the CPI was originally a measure to evaluate a pre-defined, consistently weighted basket of goods, over time, the basket of goods grew to an unreasonable 80,000+ items, muting dramatic price changes in common goods and services.By adding too many layers of complexity and algorithms you lose the organic, real results in a muddled mix of diluted data.

Perhaps more dangerous have been the changes in the way the CPI is calculated and consistent manipulated to keep government expenditures down and mislead the public with misinformation."

I'm not entirely sure about the bolded sentence above. Among the reasons I am not entirely sure about the bolded sentence above is that having actually gone over to the Bureau of Labor Statistics site in an effort to figure out just exactly what the hell they are doing to come up with their rate of inflation, I run into a lot of stuff like this,  or this.  Then there's this,  and of course, that. 

Actually I read most of what BLS offers on the subject and came away from the experience with the distinct impression that on this particular subject, there is a sincere desire on the part of the Bureau of Labor Stastics to baffle with bullshit.

Just sayin'.

Anyway, I give creedence to Mr. Butowsky's method on the basis that it makes sense to me when he explains it in plain English.

The Chapwood Index reflects the true cost-of-living increase in America. Updated and released twice a year, it reports the unadjusted actual cost and price fluctuation of the top 500 items on which Americans spend their after-tax dollars in the 50 largest cities in the nation.

It exposes why middle-class Americans — salaried workers who are given routine pay hikes and retirees who depend on annual increases in their corporate pension and Social Security payments — can’t maintain their standard of living. Plainly and simply, the Index shows that their income can’t keep up with their expenses, and it explains why they increasingly have to turn to the government for entitlements to bail them out.

It’s because salary and benefit increases are pegged to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which for more than a century has purported to reflect the fluctuation in prices for a typical “basket of goods” in American cities — but which actually hasn’t done that for more than 30 years.

The middle class has seen its purchasing power decline dramatically in the last three decades, forcing more and more people to seek entitlements when their savings are gone. And as long as pay raises and benefit increases are tied to a false CPI, this trend will continue.

The myth that the CPI represents the increase in our cost of living is why the Chapwood Index was created. What differentiates it from the CPI is simple, but critically important. The Chapwood Index:

Reports the actual price increase of the 500 items on which most Americans spend their after-tax money. No gimmicks, no alterations, no seasonal adjustments; just real prices.

Shines a spotlight on the inaccuracy of the CPI, which is destroying the economic and emotional fiber of our country.

Shows how our dependence on the CPI is killing our middle class and why citizens increasingly are depending upon government entitlement programs to bail them out.

Claims to persuade Americans to become better-educated consumers and to take control of their spending habits and personal finances.

 

Again, click on the spreadsheet above for some plain English regarding the increase in the cost of living across 50 or so American cities.

 

Sometimes A Map Along With An Occasional Chart Is All You Need

Submitted by Roanman on Sun, 03/20/2016 - 10:18

 

I'm just wandering around some this morning, asking myself questions.

So, for lack of a better idea to be perfectly honest about it, let's start here.

As always, you can click on any of the maps below to go to the source material.

This map shows Federal government spending as a percentage of total state GDP for the years 2004-2013.

 

As you would expect, Virginia benefits mightily from Federal government spending as it surrounds the nation's capital.. Answers to questions regarding New Mexico and Mississippi show up below.

The following provides twenty year cumulative totals of taxes paid into the Federal government as compared to Federal spending received. Surplus, in this conversation means that green states are paying more into the federal government than they are receiving in returned government spending.

 

Nearly 2/3 of Federal spending went to benefit payments for individuals.

You can read just about the exact same thing below, I'm not really clicking yet this morning.

 

As for the growth in government spending from 2004-13 ....

 

I hit this one a couple weeks ago, but I do believe it to be one of the two most important issues facing America today, so ..... I hit it again.

 

 

As you would fully expect.

 

I'm about out of time for today, but going back one conversation .....

 

I'm thinking we need to step up our defense of the Canadian border.

Kidding!

I'd like to be offering a whizbang solution or failing that, some conclusion for all of the above this morning, but ..... evidently ..... no.

I'm just thinking.

As an aside, that's just a real good looking horse going around there, I don't care what anybody says.

 

The BusBoys

Submitted by Roanman on Sat, 03/19/2016 - 16:55

 

  It's Saturday night. Time to rock.

The Head Buckaroo and I went and saw The BusBoys ... I can't remember where.

I do remember it being one of the funnest shows I have ever seen.

It was made more fun by the fact that we got there way early for a general admission show, met Kevin O'Neil wandering around up in the balcony and then watched the show from right down in front, smashed up against Brian O'Neil's Fender Rhodes piano.

  I may be prejudiced by the experience, but I can't think of many bands that have ever rocked as hard as The BusBoys, or many records I have played more than Minimum Wage Rock And Roll.

  I've waited a long time to write this post mostly because I couldn't find a video that I thought did justice to their live show.

  From Friday Night, probably best known for their unreleased for the better part of 20 years hit single The Boys Are Back In Town from the Eddie Murphey/Nick Nolte film 48 Hours, here is Brian O'Neil on vocals and keyboards, Kevin O'Neil on vocals and bass guitar, Vic Johnson on lead guitar, Mike Radi playing still more keyboards, Steve Felix on the drums and Reggie Leon doing James Brown as good or better than even James Brown did James Brown, along with a bunch of other stuff I don't even know what it is.

The Bus Boys.

KKK and Johnny Soul'd Out

 

 

Minimum Wage.

 

 

To Quote Jim Rogers

Submitted by Roanman on Thu, 03/17/2016 - 17:18

 

 

 

The following are some charts taken from research done by the St. Louis Fed.

As always, click on any chart for a trip to the site from whence it came ..... probably.

 

 

     

 

The following charts were taken from research published by the New York Fed.

 

 

 

Interesting how it is that your "public four year colleges" have increased in cost so much more rapidly than both "private nonprofit" and "public two year colleges".

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. It's nearly impossible and for damn sure expensive to get student loans discharged via bankruptcy.

Just sayin'.

 

Michigan Primary Results

Submitted by Roanman on Wed, 03/09/2016 - 07:38

  

 Seemingly and despite protestations otherwise, most notably from Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, as far as the electorate in the state of Michigan is concerned, Donald Trump is fit to carry the conservative mantle. Particularly in Macomb County Michigan, home of the storied "Reagan Democrats".

On the other side, Bernie Sanders edged Hillary Clinton in a shocking upset as Hillary was holding huge, double digit leads across the board in pre-primary polling. 

From The New York Times, click on this little gear right here  for some very nicely done interactive maps for the raw numbers and percentages from each of Michigan's counties.

 

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