It's quite ironic for the West to criticize state censorship (which might arise from benevolent intentions) when our own mass media is such a mess of deliberate misdirection/misproportion, corporate spin and mindless 'roadside carnage' journalism. Americans have to fight and struggle to learn the truth at least as hard as the Chinese.
I'm truly shocked that none of the Iberian or LatAm carriers made the top 5, and ignorant me I would have never thought an Arab national airline would permit itself the possibility of consideration... And yes it's a dumb question to be asking; real travellers have far more practical priorities.
I don't mind the idea behind government licensing schemes, but have to wonder if private guilds could not provide the same or greater value. It's not like the government assumes responsibility for the malpractice of its licensees anyway (unless we're talking about federally-chartered financial institutions). At best, the executive branch may revoke a license here or there while the courts provide uneven but sometimes instructive means for redress if there's enough money in it for plaintiff's counsel.
Oh boy this is such fertile ground...but I must..resist...
OK, my extreme impulses have passed. Kouroi's got my most palatable points covered. We gots lots of problems and most are going the wrong direction; many are picking up speed. Maybe we haven't exceeded the earth's human carrying capacity yet, maybe we have. But we're sure doing our darndest to shrink it down.
And all the talk about fighting warming without dealing with GHGs reminds me of a favorite episode of Squidbillies where corporate sociopath Dan Halen recalls his doubters-in-science: "They said I couldn't establish a Panda sacntuary on the Moon...and it turned out they were right...but that's really not the point is it."
Yes, but if loose Fed policy weakens the dollar, doesn't that amplify the structural inflation from increasing emerging market demand in globally-traded inputs, including those produced here in the U.S.? Could the result be stagflation domestically, not deflation as G.I. suggests?
And not to worry about surplus capacity. The Asians are buying up American mills and factories, ripping them from their concrete foundations, and taking them across the Pacific for reassembly. U.S. unemployment will ameliorate as Americans are called to the mines and fields to extract valuable resources for export to the prosperous foreigners who have assumed our former purchasing power.
Weak currency plays only work on the way up the ladder, I'm afraid.
HFG - You asked whether public sector employees might get stock options like some private sector employees. I'm fairly certain they don't, and that your question was meant rhetorically. But it got me thinking about ways income-generating public assets could be monetized to meet the underfunded municipal pension obligations. Not stock options or share grants, per se, but perhaps unredeemable bonds paying a coupon based on the profitability of stadiums, airports, transit systems, etc. in lieu of pensions might align more interests than current approaches.
HIV, war, malnutrition etc. notwithstanding, Africa's human population expands. Thus the prudent conservationist directs his worries to the sustainability of shrinking African forests. Of course, ignoring the condom issue will ultimately--evidently--not be good for the trees. So maybe he's merely half-prudent.
I must have a different information diet than R.A. because much more occurs to me besides advances in computers/electronics--which have had derivative value to every other technology which preceded them. We are in a golden age of astronomy/cosmology, discovering Einstein-worthy facts about the origin and operation of the universe pretty much every year. Genetic engineering has moved past selective breeding to the threshold of de novo design of organisms. Nanotechnology has moved from rudimentary and theoretical to ubiquitous. Now it's true that the population multiplier to science has fallen well below one, but that's because we use an increasing proportion of our people and resources for leisure, comfort and entertainment than ever before.
bampbs - Even if your'e right that investment fashion is a significant driver of commodity price increases, I doubt there's any constructive way to prevent it. Even without futures contracts there myriad other probably more expensive ways to invest in (hedge against) rising prices--but it would be much trickier to hedge against falling prices. Result: less capital investment in production, followed by rising prices even absent financial speculation.
The sad irony is that the same group of people who demand proof of AGW were willing to drop half our army and 5% of our GDP into Mesopotamia on the basis that Saddam might, probably be pursuing WMDs--and even if he wasn't he's a bad guy and even a remote risk of a high severity event is too great to ignore. Ironical.
I'm with you baseballhead, restructuring (i.e. reducing) promised liabilities is decidedly un-nice to the affected employees/retirees and their communities. And no politician wants to be the guy/gal who screwed over local law enforcement. But the math isn't amenable to honoring them in full while holding onto a mobile tax base that will demand at least some level of public services in exchange for a reasonable tax burden.
So maybe you've considered the 'easy' alternative of having the federal government bail out the public pension systems, pretty much at the same time it will be bailing out its own underfunded promises (easily several years of GDP is missing from those kitties). I see that as a possibility, but keep in mind existing practice of the Pension Benefit Insurance Corp. is to shave down the richest pensions, so even there you've got partial default as the model.
SA Solow: "seizing children from their biological mothers merely based on their age and their marital status strikes me as morally repugnant"
Yes, but once the state gets involved in subsidizing a child, perhaps it would be morally repugnant not to remove that child to a state-operated facility where the public can be more assured that the child is actually benefitting from the state's expenditures. All the better still if we thus discourage pregnancy among those who lack the tangible and intangible means to care for their creation.
OK, so the carbon tax and rising prices aren't affecting the demand side of things enough to re-establish equilibrium. But we haven't even started to consider the virtues of a high-mortality pandemic to stretch our finite resources out longer while we await large scale hemp biodiesel, fusion or whatever follows fossil energy. Laugh, wince or scowl but at least admit it's too obvious for somebody not to be working on it. Probably lots of somebodies.
States and municipalities don't need bankruptcy, they need the ability to renege on their employee retirement obligations--or more likely to unliaterally modify them so that they will not obliterate one or both of: the critical services they provide; or the health of their local economies. The most easily understood way this can be done is to convert their existing reserves into DC plans for past and current employees; it would make political sense for some one-time borrowing to subsidize the lump sums given to near and post-retirement employees. But this shift must happen, so that going forward we don't end up with these crushing understated future obligations. If that also means that current compensation needs to be increased for police, fire, clerks, etc. then so be it and taxpayers can decide what level of services they're willing to pay for in real time--not borrowed from future generations.
Trying to learn more - A dividend yield that exceeds GDP growth is no problem--distributed earnings are a component within GDP. Of course GDP is a flawed measure full of double-counting, but that's for another day.
It would be--as you say impossible in the longer term--for the growth in dividend yields to outpace GDP expansion. In thory, we might see the dividend growth rate exceed that of GDP for awhile, if profits from offshore activities were substantial for the index concerned and rising more rapidly than the home economy (or alternatively falling more slowly).
To clarify, is there a Constitutional distinction between direct taxation (by the government) versus compelled private transactions that have the same effect (of course, where no particular privilege other than the privilege of not being imprisoned is being conditioned upon said private transaction).
OK, so we're not talking about a law that forces people to consume broccoli. Nor are we talking about a law by which the government will tax people to pay for everyone who wants broccoli to have broccoli at a minimal or at least affordable price. What we're really talking about is Congress deputizing the private broccoli distributors to forcibly collect fees from people who may or may not wish to consume the broccoli thus paid for.
Good luck getting Trenton, Albany, Hartford and Harrisburg to go quietly along with even partial severance of their core economic engine and such critical tax base. The Constitution might better have prescribed that state boundaries be adjusted along with Congressional districts to match population patterns. But the hour is late for that.
OneAegis - Allowing insurance sales across state lines would be rather pointless if you layer national standards on those policies. The whole idea for cross-border sales is to allow states to experiment with varying standards to see if there is a better formula that delivers needed services at much lower cost. It would then take just one state/regulator with an open mind to enable such experimentation on a scale (multistate) that is also worthwhile for an insurer to put its capital at risk in the attempt. A federal standard-maker would be too easily captivated by the drug companies, equipment manufacturers, hospitals, etc. to allow experimentation that might resist their rentseeking. States, being farther from K Street and less (not entirely free, but less) guided by campaign finance realities, are the more hopeful laboratory.