Framing the Dialogue

Archive for August, 2011

Return to Prosperity

I often wonder how political “leaders” can look at a problem and see such divergent paths to remedy the situation. In my adult life, this period is the worst that I have encountered. I don’t care that pundits say that the “recession is over” because it doesn’t feel that way to me or my wallet. Author Arthur Laffer provides an in-depth look at the state of the economy and gives a pretty detailed prescription for bringing America out of the blackness (redness if you are an accountant). Return to Prosperity should have used this quote from one of our presidents very early in the book,

Nature’s A Mother

Last Friday there were four tragic deaths in the City of Pittsburgh due to a flash flooding incident.  A mother, her two young daughters were killed when trapped in their van and another woman is believed to have been swept away as she fled her vehicle.  Everyone empathizes with their families and our hearts go out to them as these stories bring back tragic thoughts of loved ones that we have lost. 

Image and data from USGS StreamStats

Update 5 – A Rough Pitch

The headline says it all…

Ohlendorf has rough return to major leagues

The $2 million dollar pitcher had to return to the line up sooner than expected due a colleague’s injury.  The Pirates didn’t do Ross Ohlendorf any favors by starting him against one of the better teams in the National League and the team the Pirates historically have struggle against. 

“Making his first start for the Pirates since early April, Ohlendorf allowed 14 baserunners in five innings. The Brewers roughed him up in the second and cruised to an 11-4 victory. Ohlendorf (0-1) gave up seven runs, 11 hits and two walks, with four strikeouts.”

Anyone Can Do It When It’s Dry

I spent part of my career working as the environmental manager for a large waste firm. I was part of a new management team that was coming into an older landfill facility that had a less than stellar reputation. When I considered leaving and taking the position I asked a colleague about the company and facility since he worked with them a lot his advice was that “they could sure use the help.” I took the challenge and spent nearly eight years with the company.  Most times I likened my days to what a surfer must feel like with a big wave.  I always had my day planned, but once I got on that wave it took me places that I had not planned.

U6

As I was doing some research on unemployment numbers I came across a gem of a news story.  This economist was disparaging the President about his U6 unemployment numbers,

“U6, the broadest measure of unemployment and underemployment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (No data available before 1994.) You can still argue that presidents really don’t have that much influence on the economy. But…supporters eagerly claimed that downward stretch…coinciding with the worst excesses of the housing bubble.”

Update – Rich Man Poor Man

About two years ago I wrote a post about what “poor” really means in America and what amenities many of those below the poverty line have.  I don’t want to delve back into that because you can read the original post at this link.  I was somewhat perplexed by the fact that the poverty line in the United States seems rather static in that we always have a certain percentage of folks below the line and I believe that there is political incentives to always have the poor.  The poor seem to be a handy voting block for whoever will promise them the most entitlements.  I generally stopped there in my deep thoughts, but there is more.

Update – One To Watch

“When we take a position that isn’t willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position,”

“we actually were willing to shun science and become a party that was antithetical to science. I’m not sure that’s good for our future and it’s not a winning formula,”

Update 1 – Fat, Drunk, and Stupid

This is the second year in a row that my wife convinced me to go somewhere that I really didn’t want to go and it again involved the group Train.  This time instead of the opening act for John Mayer, Train played after a Pittsburgh Pirate home game against the San Diego Padres.  The Pirates had been fairly hot and recently even had first place in the division.  I have never really been a big baseball fan, but I do enjoy going to the ballpark.  I should say used to as it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a game.  It may stem, at least partially, from the fact that I had a brief stint as one of poor souls who cleaned up after ball games.  I was in high school and I think I lasted two or three home stands.  If I close my eyes I can still conjure up the odor of stale beer, peanut shells, and damp popcorn.  Brrrrrrrr.

Econ 1

The Great Vilsacko performs his money magic trick.

I am currently reading Return to Prosperity by Phd economist Arthur Laffer and I’ll review the book as usual after I finish it, but a recent statement by President Obama’s Agriculture Secretary had me referring to the “Econ 1” phrase Dr. Laffer uses frequently when describing politicians lack of knowledge that is taught in a basic economics class. Secretary Vilsack appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to tout the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP” or Food Stamps as we used to call it). Vilsack called SNAP the “most direct stimulus you can get into the economy during these tough times.” I guess that he also considers the fact that America has vastly increased the number of people “stimulating” the economy as 1 in 7 people are in the program. Let that sink in…NEARLY 15 PERCENT OF OUR FELLOW AMERICANS GET FOOD FROM THE GOVERNMENT!

Spycatcher

In his debut thriller, Matthew Dunn introduces us to Will Cochrane an elite MI6 operative code named Spartan.  Dunn is a former MI6 field officer himself so that gives him some credibility regarding the spy game and his first novel was thrilling though not quite up there with Daniel Silva and Brad Thor yet.  The action is there, the intrigue is there, and he has developed a very good hero in the vein of Scot Harvath and Gabriel Allon.  I think the title of the book, Spycatcher, is a little misleading though since the book is more about trying to stop a terrorist plot though spies are involved. What I like about the Will Cochrane character is that he is different than the more well known characters mentioned above. He is similar in his determination and skill, but he is different.