Wednesday, May 23, 2012

People need to know

Unlike me, Atrios gets read when he says this.  ...Of course, even he is not read by the people who need to get the message. 

So long as college grads are fucked, the economy won't recover.  The boomer generation is set or screwed already.  My parents' generation is still going, but they are largely too established in one way or another to be the source of change.  My generation and even more the one following are the ones that can really get us back on track (economically, anyway, politically, we still need the older folks).  If we're in debt to our eyeballs and having a hard time finding decent jobs things won't get better fast enough.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Debt is Hurting the Economy...

...Just not the way Republicans (and Germans) think.

In the US, the economy really sucks if you are un-/under- employed.  But there are still a lot of people who have jobs--even good ones--and they could provide a much needed boost if it wasn't for personal debt.

Young people buy lots of things.  We are just starting out, and need all sorts of things that we didn't have/couldn't afford in school: houses, cars, furniture, families, pets, vacation.  These all cost money, which helps the economy.  But now we are saddles with lots of debt--mostly student loan--so instead of getting/doing all these nice things with our new jobs, we are paying off debt.  In the 4 years since I started at my job I have paid off roughly $50,000 worth of debt that was accrued in some form or another while at school.

A more detailed breakdown:
~$22k on credit cards, of which about half was medical and moving expenses.
~$28k on student loans

I also paid off my car and some of my house, but I bought both of those since I started work. 

Of course it's worse than those numbers.  Interest means that closer to $70k was spent on debt reduction over that time frame.  That is $70k that couldn't help boost the economy at all.  Now if I had been debt free, a decent fraction of that would have ended up in savings/retirement accounts, to be sure, but a pretty good fraction would have gone for/would be going for house projects/rennovations, durable goods like furniture, toys like a road bicycle, probably more clothes/shoes (lots of holes in some of mine), ...

I still have student loans to go, so this is continuing, and I'm just one person.

If we handled education properly in this country, the debt levels would be dramatically lower for young people who have the most spending to do.  Managing health care properly would further reduce debt levels, especially for those who can't afford insurance but still manage to get hurt/sick.  This is excluding the immense good that could be done by properly handling the banks/housing mess.

Debt is hurting our economy badly, just not federal debt.  And more of the latter could fix the former.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Poor Deluded Writer

I have some pretty serious reservations about the notion that Philly is or could be a global top 10 shopping destination, but the writer of that seems to have a particularly delusional view as evidenced by two references to King of Prussia mall in a very short bit.  The latter of which was implying "We're so awesome that we're awesome even when you discount our most awesomest shopping place evah!"

King of Prussia is a suburban mall with no quick/easy transit access to the city, and without any type of character that can't be found at any of a thousand other malls in this country.  No city will ever make a top 10 anything for a mall that you have to drive to in the suburbs. 

"Imagine, a place that you can go to a Cheesecake Factory, a Macy's, a Restoration Hardware, a Victoria's Secret and a Teavanna!!!"  I know that that makes me think of KoP...or just about any other mall I've been to in Texas, Kansas, Illinois, North Carolina, Minnesota, Oregon...

If someone were to ask me where to go shopping in Philadelphia, first, I would look around, because no sane person would ask me about shopping.  Then I'd probably say that there seem to be a lot of shops around Rittenhouse. And I don't even live within the Philly city limits.  KoP is just a fucking mall.  So what?

I suppose that connoisseurs of indoor shopping malls may have a particular fondness for KoP, but a) I'm pretty sure that those people are the losers of the traveling shopper set, and b)KoP isn't in Philly, and it really isn't terribly convenient, so Philly wouldn't be on the damned list anyway, other than "'s within an hour drive of Philly, and within a 3 hours of NY, Baltimore and DC."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Apparently, the purpose is to be an ass...

The fact that this obscenely wealthy person defending the obscenely wealthy is so very wrong pretty early on is reason enough to discount any argument he subsequently makes: 
Google’s contribution is obvious. What about investment banks, with their complicated financial derivatives and overleveraged balance sheets? Conard argues that they make the economy more efficient, too. The financial crisis, he writes, was not the result of corrupt bankers selling dodgy financial products. It was a simple, old-fashioned run on the banks, which, he says, were just doing their job. 
Really.  He argued that, thus demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of his own fucking industry.  Could any rational person believe that this guy is capable of positive contributions to society? In multiplier talk, I would argue that his wealth likely has less than a 1x multiplier, meaning he would produce more economic benefit if all his money were redistributed to people with a clue...or at least people who need to buy milk. I don't doubt that there are wealthy investors who have wealth multipliers >1, and in some cases maybe >>1, but this idiot isn't one of them. 

That said, let's assume that his multiplier is > 1.  If such a terribly stupid person, just by virtue of having wealth, had a multiplier or > 1, then there is nothing inherent to the wealthy that justifies any individual having such wealth other than the wealth itself.  It's a circular argument.  And it follows that if the only economic benefit that wealthy provide is simply having wealth, then there is a strong social good that could be done by having wealthy people not be assholes, and probably not be idiots as well.