MONEY

Are we getting to the point where any mention of the word “stocks” makes you want to throw up? An aversion so strong no ordinary person would go near them for the rest of his natural life? We’re not there yet, I fear – but that will be the bottom.

In the meantime, the President is doing the right things. Out of the crisis could come the well-reasoned adjustments we should have made long ago. “And these new priorities,” Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times, “are laid out in a document whose clarity and plausibility seem almost incredible to those of us who grew accustomed to reading Bush-era budgets, which insulted our intelligence on every page. This is budgeting we can believe in.”

Even so, there will be a lot of painful “dislocations” along the way. It’s one thing to say we need fewer car salesman and more solar-panel installers; another thing to lose your job selling Pontiacs and try to get one bolting panels to roofs. For which you would need an entirely different skill set and wardrobe.

There are no easy answers. If you studied less hard or now work less hard than your competition in China, say, it’s no longer a sure thing that you will live ten times as well as he or she, even though by rights (isn’t it our right?) you should.

Ideally, this gap will be narrowed as our competitors’ standard of living rises, not as ours declines. And with the astonishing forward momentum of technological progress – much of it made in the U.S.A. – that may in fact be what happens. Our houses and cars may stop growing in size, or even shrink; but this may be compensated for in other less energy- and materials-intensive ways.

PAC MONEY

This lets you see what proportion of any Senator’s or Congressperson’s funding came from Political Action Groups. Sort it any way you like. It’s dramatic.

Obama took no PAC money, but a great many in Congress get more than half their funding from PACs.

Not to say that the corporations, industry associations, and non-profit groups that form PACs are all evil by any means. Far from it. But is this really the best way to finance elections? Clean Elections are gaining traction in many states, and there is interest in applying the public-financing concept at the Federal level as well (click here).

COOL PREVIEW

Sally Holmes Holtze: “Have you thought of keeping your page open when the user clicks on a link? The way it’s set up now, it disappears.”

☞ You can fix this. Switch to the Firefox browser, as I now have with happy results, and use the CoolPreview add-on touted yesterday. Works nicely.

THATCHERISM

As recounted to, and then by, Peggy Noonan:

Margaret Thatcher held a meeting with her aides and staff, all of whom were dominated by her, even awed. When it was over she invited her cabinet chiefs to join her at dinner in a nearby restaurant. They went, arrayed themselves around the table, jockeyed for her attention. A young waiter came and asked if they’d like to hear the specials. Mrs. Thatcher said, “I will have the beef.”

Yes, said the waiter. “And the vegetables?”

“They will have beef too.”

CFL’s versus LED’s (versus INCANDESCENTS)

Click here. The LED lasts six times as long as a CFL and uses even less energy, generates less heat. But it costs way more (“and to my nephews, Brendan, Timothy, Darius, Mackenzie, Edward, Christopher, and Patrick, I leave my seven LED light bulbs”), so they provide the best return on investment in areas of high electric rates. And down south, where you never really want heat from light bulbs, even in the winter.

(Does anyone know how much energy and environmental destruction goes into making an expensive LED bulb versus a CFL?)

TEPID FILTH – II

Pieter Bach: “[You were unenthusiastic about the Japanese practice of washing their clothes in old bath water.] I’m sure you’ll hear from many others [I did! I did!], but have you forgotten that in Japan it’s expected that you will scrub (yes, scrub) yourself vigorously and thoroughly in the shower at least once before you even think about sinking into the bliss of the furo? Re-using the bath water has been traditional in Japan for centuries. In addition to laundry, it’s also used to dust and polish furniture and to wash the few areas of solid wood flooring in traditional houses.”

 

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