Posts filed under 'The Big Picture'

The Market – Tortilla Inflation

In case you haven’t heard, there are suddenly a lot of angry Mexicans these days.  I am not referring to the forced expulsion of illegal immigrants from this country, many of whom experienced disclocation from their families here in the States.  (Yes, they are illegal, and yes, it is a problem, but we probably could be a bit more humane with our illegal immigrant policy).  Nope, this instead is due to the price of their most basic food product, the tortilla, shooting through the roof. writes on 3/26/07, “In Mexico, manufacturers have already started to feel the pain of the [food] inflation, with political consequences.  In January, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon was forced to impose a price cap on tortillas of 35 cents a pound, after thousands stormed Mexico City’s Central Square in protest of the massive rise in recent prices of tortillas.  Tortillas are a staple in the diets of most Mexicans and a key component of the Mexican economy.  The price cap, which is 40% more than the price for tortillas only three months ago, is still generating political tension in the country.  The hike in tortilla prices is believed to be a result of the demand for corn ethanol, generated by President Bush’s recommendations for a fourfold increase in the use of the substance in his new “cleaner energy” initiative.””  Some may laugh at this thought, but let’s be sure to remind them of all the American’s who complained bitterly because their cigarette prices were hiked substantially in an effort to quantify and pay for the effect of smoking on the public health system.  And as far as I know, humans don’t need cigarettes to survive.  Furthermore, increasing food prices due to an emerging third world middle class and the surge in demand from ethanol production will also hurt American’s wallets.  Rising food costs is not simply a third world issue. 

So in another classic foreign policy blunder becoming so endemic of this Administration, we are now exporting poverty to the lower classes of the third world.  And we are doing so in an almost blind hope that our investment in ethanol will add a net positive energy balance to our economy, instead of spending the billions in spending and subsidies on other alternative energy technologies.  But… this is what the decrepit US auto industry wanted, this is what US oil companies wanted, and unfortunately in our country, more often than not, the corporations, and not consumers, have the government’s ear first.  So let’s give the third world another reason to hate us by making it more difficult to pay for basic daily meals.  And don’t be surprised if you hear Chavez start expounding about how the great American evil empire is now trying to starve Latin American countries.  We just can’t seem to stop giving ourselves a black eye.

Add comment March 28th, 2007

Politics – The Democrats Develop Some Stride

Well, the decision is made and for the next two years we will have a lame duck president while the Democrats will exert significant power in both houses.  Though I would consider myself more of a democrat as they support environmental initiatives and will likely bring a fresh face to international politics, I am concerned about them continuing to shoot themselves in the foot by potentially raising taxes and continuing to support extravagant trial lawyer litigation. 

Our society has become so damn litigious it almost makes me quake with hesitation every time I wish to enter a new venture.  Besides the astronomical increase in insurance rates to protect against potential liability for the most ridiculous of cases, (and increasing insurance is a cost that effects all of us at least indirectly), the fact that our society is so sensitive to potential legality has begun to prevent a lot of great ideas from been implemented, from allowing children to have a tetherball in the playground to letting adults establish a respectable business.  The true root of the problem are certain lawyers who will take any case, regardless of merit of misconduct, and with a no-upfront fee, attempt to ram litigation and briefs through the legal process in the hope of deriving that massive payoff wherein they will receive 40-50% of the settlement. 

Now certainly, as a self-coined ‘consumer advocate’, I do believe the interests of the consumer over big business should be closely watched (this also relates more importantly to the interests of the citizen in our democracy versus the power of corporations in our democracy).  One method of protecting the consumer against corporate malfeasance, as with Enron, is through the courts, as of our governing bodies have not established sufficient laws to protect the consumer/citizen.  And by citizen, I do not refer to the ‘corporate citizen’, which corporations have become as a ‘corporation’ by law has many of the rights of a breathing, emotional, living human. Amazing how a legal entity on a piece of paper can receive the same rights as a living human being! I jest.  In many cases, consumer/citizen laws do not adequately protect citizen interests, or worse, provide poor clarity on consumer rights, thus opening the portal to ‘advantageous’ litigation.

Word to the Dems: If you truly want to be the party of the future,

1) implement significant environmental and clean energy initiatives

2) don’t raise taxes unless we are really in grave danger of fiscal structural deficits

3) stop turning a blind eye to our litigious society

And can someone please reform the campaign financing system!!! 

1) Campaign financing should not be provided by corporations but by the citizenry

2) We should have a cap on available spend amounts for campaigns funded by a public funds

3) Some television and radio airtime should be provided for free in equal share to campaigning groups, mainly because these airwaves are public property

4) And candidates should be required to do more public debates instead of this ridiculous 30 second sound byte ‘let’s throw mud and not say anything of substance’ TV ads.  Let’s have some ultimate fighter verbal debates and not this moderating baloney where one candidate doesn’t have to answer to the tough questions and retorts of their opposition.  It seems our candidates have lost the ability of great leaders to debate as in the Lincoln-Douglas debate circuit (I can say this as I was there… jk).  You want to create more public interest into politics?  Pair up Oprah and Jerry Springer as moderators and let the debates begin.

Add comment November 8th, 2006

Space – Marveling at the big picture

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the agonizing minutia of our daily lives, we forget the bigger picture.  That’s when it is a good idea to peruse the fascinating 10 strangest things in space:

Add comment October 6th, 2006


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