Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Econ 01 by Professor Ballistic

Hello class! Sit down, shut up and put your smart and dumb phones on silent. I do not care if you attend class, text or draw, just don't annoy me or I'll have to use the TASER (air quotes) on you.

Today we'll explore the bizarre topic of Job Creation.

So, just how are jobs created?

Put your hands down. It was a rhetorical question, as almost all questions I ask in this class will be. I hate audience participation events.

OK. Some think jobs are created by LEADERS (air quotes)
I suppose this depends on how you define the word leader (air quotes). Most define it as a charismatic preacher who extracts his salary and much more from you at the point of a gun. ie; politician. I will discount this method of job creation.

My beloved students.
Now I have their rapt attention
...as they pore over the ledger accounts of last night's drug transactions and prostitution proceeds...

In the world of nature in which humans dwell, surprise, surprise, a job is created when someone comes up with a good and/or service which others want and will trade for. Because not everyone needs a house built and who would give you a house for that shirt you made, we have money, which ideally represents a fairly universal unit of value, or effort combined with skill, need, etc. Brain surgeons used to be paid more than electricians due to skill level, need, and scarcity of talent in that field.

OK. So, someone figures out how to make your house cool in summer. That is worth a bundle to many sweltering souls. This person finds that more people want what he has to offer and will pay an amount that covers costs plus affords him a decent standard of living. He or she then reasons that people could be paid to help do the work, distribute the magic machines, etc.

It's easy, right? Oh maybe not so easy. Now he has to satisfy a dozen government agencies, buy a license, get bonded, be inspected purchase insurance and pay various agencies an amount equal to at least 40% of his employee's salary. Better not hire too many. Looks like we'll let part of the demand go unsatisfied. Competitors will take up the slack once they figure out how to make these things.

Oh, by the way, if you are wondering what the difference is between macro and micro economics, think of it like this:
micro economics is a dollar bill, or a gold piece.
Macro economics is a roll of toilet paper with pictures of dollar bills stamped on it. That's all you need on that.

In short, when someone or some group makes things or does things that people will give up something to have, jobs are created. I'm not sure I really count census workers in the mainstream of that. Especially if they gather information which is not useful or voluntary.

This applies whether you talk public sector or private sector. The only difference between the two is that it is legal for the public sector to demand wealth from the private sector at gun point. That door don't swing both ways.

The real trouble comes from elements cloaked as private getting in bed with elements of the public sector. Then you have preffered members of the private sector getting theirs at gunpoint through a convoluted legal process. This presently makes up 81.5% of our commerce. Many of the others would salivate at the thought of a cushy, unneeded government contract. People are mostly thieves, as long as no one knows or it is given some other name.

Anyway, the public sector does not produce much of anything. They provide services, some of which the population at large want, need, and find it best to accomplish in that sort of collective fashion. Defense of the country and border was once one of those functions---not sure what it is now. Protecting people from force and fraud perpetrated by riffraff was another. Presently it is impossible to discern the private riffraff from those who allegedly protect against it.

All that said, a job is still created when someone is willing to make or do something for someone who is willing to pay more than it costs that person to do or make it. (anything less and they can't cover cost of production or eat so they cannot keep operating) The only way the public sector can aid in job creation is to make it easier for someone to do these things. One way is by refraining from taking too much of a cut off the top. And another is by making rules and regulations streamlined. When dealing with government, complicated tax codes, city codes, state codes and the goddammed united nations requires hiring full time employees, in even a small firm, job creation suffers.

There are many culprits in the mix on this job thing. A huge portion is attributable to the "partnerships" between government entities and business. That is mostly due to the lack of constraints on government function. They are into the charity business, research, giving money to other countries for totally unknown purposes, negotiating contracts overseas for corporations, deciding how and who regarding marriage, the list goes on and on. It all costs money and the only producer of wealth is everyone but government.

Many have come to see "profit" (air quotes optional) as a dirty word. Were it not for the tax structure, the issue would rarely arise. Profit is what is left after you pay your bills. Since it costs more to take your money and put it away for whatever, or use it to buy a bunch of stuff, they have it set up so the owners pay themselves a salary and then put the rest back into the company or otherwise juggle it around without it appearing to go into their own pockets. If it were in their pockets they'd probably spend more and that might mean some hapless company gets to hire more and that means there is more to do for those willing to do it.

Like I said, there are certain things that are best left to government to do--it is a necessary evil. Veteran's hospitals and police, for example--although I think tactics and scope ought to be drastically changed in the latter realm. Some might argue for private veteran's hospitals, but it would still have to be paid collectively.

But we are talking economics. Neither George Bush nor Barrack Obama held/hold a position which actually has the right or the authority or the wit to create jobs. They did/do have the opportunity to remove stumbling blocks and get out of the way. Putting the private sector and everyone else in debt to pretend to make work is ludicrous and short sighted. As we've seen, only a few of their private sector bedfellows benefit and it leaves the rest of us poorer.

I'd get into unions but I doubt you'd understand. The only reason unions were ever even marginally justified is because some companies were in bed with government to the point that they violated the code against force and fraud in various ways, with the aid of the body sworn to protect against it. Now the unions themselves have become big corporations who live by the creed "might makes right" and do it with the help and blessing of government and many corporate interests which would surprise some.

So, you want to create a job? Just try franchising lemonade stands or starting a home window washing enterprise and see how much it costs or if it is even legal.

Alright, get the hell out of here. The test will be on the economic and spiritual implications of Shakespeare's Hamlet, or the movie Artois the Goat, or the movie Boondock Saints--your choice. If you can adequately impersonate Wilem Defoe in his role in Boondock Saints, you get an automatic A..

And if you want to bitch to someone about "creating"(air quotes) jobs, don't go asking would-be kings, dictators and charlatans who've never had a regular job to do it for you. Just tell them to back off, to quit funding crazy ass things all over the world, and to shut up unless they are suggesting laws and agencies to be repealed or abolished. If they utter the phrase "new program", wash their mouths out with soap.

Hold it!!! Sit down. Just want to quickly add that forcing you to pay more so I can hire more people to be sure you pay, and more people to make you safe from enemies I enriched with your money and my clever people skills, is not really creating(air quotes) Jobs(air quotes). You might just decide to quit your enterprise and do something simple like work for CALTran holding a sign that says Slow on one side and Stop on the other.

It's fun. You can hold it edgewise to traffic so they don't know whether they're coming or going. And you can avoid all those new hires paid by money I intended to take from you, But if you do that, I'll just borrow the money in your name and call it job creation.

OK. Let's flee this scene. Go away.

ps: I secretly envy G1 for managing to be a college/university professor. I would so love that opportunity--captive audience on a daily basis and you don't have to take the crap a high school teacher deals with from students with no recourse.

You just cope with the usual phony pressures of academia---I have a tweed coat with elbow patches and a pipe picked out just in case. The beard part is easy. Once you've got tenure, you have a license to be nuts and they'll call you eccentric and brilliant

Too Good to Ignore

Photo of DC Earthquake damage

That showed up in my email. It came from http://jmckinley.posterous.com/dc-earthquake-devastation# . The picture did, not the email. The message was from the usual suspects. Subject line: Pray for DC earthquake victims. I'll say a prayer of gratitude that I do not live in that wasteland of skulduggery and fuquittedness.

Really, it is such a big deal if something happens in DC or New York but places like Memphis have had earthquakes. I know my old apartment house rattled more than once.

I wonder who will get blamed; George Bush? Exxon? The DC transit system? Racism? Got to blame someone or some thing, and the usual blamers are unlikely to blame Obama. Global warming and evil industrialists. God, I hope the usual demagogues and charlatans don't have nerve enough to weigh in on this one.

I know, blame The Rich!! He's a guy who lives there, not unlike how The Donald lives in NYC.

Best title for a movie and best explanation for most things: The Gods Must Be Crazy

California Dreamin; part VIII-XXIII-MMXI

Since you asked, I will discuss traffic slow-downs, jams, and snafus. Some of these issues are unavoidable when you have too many people traveling on too few roads...


Under normal conditions with no massive roadwork, suicide jumper teetering on a bridge, etc., a huge part of the slowdown is due to either ignorance of or blatant disregard for a few simple principles of the highway.

First--lane usage. When you are on a highway, the left lane is for passing. If you aren't going faster than the cars to your right, get the hell out of that lane. What happens is one or more drivers decide to hang in the left lane, not passing anyone. Other cars come up behind them hoping to pass the people on their right. They get backed up and start going into right hand lanes to pass.

That screws up the flow. If you have more than two lanes, the right lane is generally for ultra slow drivers or those who plan to exit soon. Driving in that lane when you see an entrance ramp which merges into the lane up ahead, if you have a choice, is NOT the thing to do.

If you can't move left from the right-most lane, then do not speed up in hopes of blocking people from merging. Let up a little and let them in. In the long run this promotes the flow.

It should go without saying that if you follow too closely to the car in front of you, and worry that someone will move into your lane ahead of you if you leave adequate space, you need driver therapy and a sharp slap to the face.

On the other hand, if you are merging, don't gun it and cut in two inches in front of the other car.

If only 50% of the drivers on CA highways, and elsewhere no doubt, observed these practices, traffic congestion would be relieved by a good 43.5%, minimum. People would get where they are going quicker and there would be fewer accidents.

In the interest of political correctness I will not break down the offenders by ethnic origin and the like. We only do that when trying to prove certain groups are being victimized by others, or the universe in general. I will say that it is clear that none of these concepts are standard procedure in some nearby countries and the third world. Or in places far, far away, for that matter.

About 29% of typical legal US citizens get it, and that is the largest group who does.

What do I conclude from all this?

I conclude that driver's licenses have little to do with ensuring or promoting highway sanity and safety, and that the curriculum for driver's ed must be severely lacking in matters of real use and substance. And I conclude from observation that in some circles one is considered a sell out and a sissy if he/she in any way contributes to the safe and sane flow of traffic. First to go would be the turn signals--guess they traded 'em in for rims.

Also, in SoCal, a large portion of the twenty something women in the Honda Civics seem an angry and ignorant breed--driving wise. They appear to have the idea that being aggressive without cause is somehow an act of liberation.

I sense that the word "empowerment", or variations thereof come up in most conversations one might have with them. Just a hunch. Their boyfriends most likely ramble on about tipping points, play bad ass in internet chatrooms and such, and have been trained to pee sitting down. They also appear to believe that they know what they are doing, yet a huge percentage really don't get it. Maybe they dated too many bad boys from the circle of society mentioned above and they learned their ways.

I guess I did not do well with the PC aspect of my tirade. oops Hey, if they can drive without creating a battleground or a parking lot out of the highways then tip that point all to hell and more empowerment to them.

I'll leave trophy wives and trophy children out of the equation for now. They are so pretty, why say something mean?

Oh yea, if you plan to change lanes, use your damn blinker, even if you don't understand why.

Walk or Run?

My brother told me, about the time I left on my wandering drive, that all the remnants of my nuclear family and his offspring, etc. were hitting the Keys for Christmas at his place. I figured, OK, well they usually don't book cheap flights that far in advance so I'll wait awhile. Both nephews reiterated that this was the year everyone was heading south for the holidays. I hate to commit money far in advance of the service sought.

Holy smoke!! I checked flights and they are not the super bargains I had hoped. The cheapest one has me returning at 3 A.M. from Fort Lauderdale airport. All the cheapest flights go to Ft Lauderdale rather than MIA. We are used to that from years past, and I am not the only one who flew in there.

I guess I'll bite the bullet, pull yet more of my dwindling savings out and arrange to get there. Part of me starts feeling quite separate from my brother and my nephews, and certainly their wives and may-as-well-be wives. It doesn't take much because I feel like a failure and a fraud.

The odd thing is that the fraud part is because I pretty much threw the fight. I did not have to lose. It goes back a long way when that started, but it was mostly because I felt bad and guilty for the shortcomings and difficulties of those around me and didn't want them to hate me for winning. So, I learned how to lose in style. It became a habit that I can't change. Doom is always the imperative and dark goal.

The discomfort and feeling of being an outsider, misguided as that may be, causes me to feel like I have to show up just because one should face the fear head on. The worst it could do is kill me, and that would not be a big deal.

The cost of flying is almost as much as driving. It is still cheaper to fly, I guess. The thing I hate is having to book so far out and having no refund. Southwest is not the cheapest way at this point. At least they don't just pocket your money and forget it. You can get full credit of what you paid toward any other flight, whenever. They are so much better to deal with than anyone else.

I'm still not sure about booking. I guess I'll work every angle tonight and do something, even if it is wrong. You'd think this constant state of moroseness would kill a person by now or age the hell out of him. Maybe it is and I just don't know it.

At least I wrote a little more in my book. It probably sucks, but that is too bad. Lots of books in the library, on the book shelves and in Kindle suck big time. And many f them sell. Someone got them out on the market. I'm assuming that the books which suck but aren't in-your-face ripoffs which took little effort and involved no real talent are the ones most easily lost in the rejection world.

Ever see those books that try to be funny but really seem to be saying, between the lines, "You are paying for total tripe here because I'm an allegedly cool celebrity"? When you compare the effort and work involved in one of those with a good novel, or even a friggin romance novel, you wonder how they charge even half the price.

My book will get written, and that may be the end of it. It may not be as good as the worst pandering semi-funny piece of tripe but it will be mine and between the lines it will be telling lots of people to screw off, and lots of people to hold their heads high and take no prisoners.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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