Daily Archives: June 24, 2010

Europe to U.S. : you defend us – we’re out of here

Bullies on bicycles, two by two - the French surrender

European budget cuts slash defense spending. Not that they were doing much up to now, but gee …

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Save the Bluefin

Harpooned tuna

The NYT has an article out  on the impending extinction of the Bluefin Tuna. This subject is just pure tragedy, a tale of greed, shortsightedness and pure stupidity. The fishing nations of the world, notably Japan, are killing off a magnificent fish and won’t stop the slaughter to give the species a chance to rebuild.

I’ve always been a fisherman and I love the sport and the quarry. For years, (undoubtedly at the suggestion of another of my brilliant cousins, Ed) I subscribed to Commercial Fishman, now called National Fisherman and read the arguments, pro and con, on limiting the harvest of cod. While the fishermen argued, the cod declined, and now there are none left and the cod fishermen are on the dole. Such a victory.

The same thing is happening to all our fish stock, and those who want to make the last buck out of it block every effort to save the fishery. It’s crazy and it’s appalling. I’m very careful what I buy at the fish monger’s these days but I think the only hope fish have is for their numbers to collapse to such low levels that commercial fishing will no longer be profitable and the industry will fail. Only then, perhaps, will the fish have a chance to replenish, but it may well be too late.


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Is this a bad thing?

Congress fails to pass another extension of unemployment benefits. I’ve been self-employed for most of my adult life and thus ineligible for unemployment benefits. That status has certainly caused me great consternation from time to time over the years but it also kept me employed or looking for employment all that time.

On the other hand, I knew folks who built their lives around unemployment. Construction workers, for example, who worked nine months a year and vacation in Florida on unemployment checks during the winter when they were “laid off”. Some of these folks were my friends, but I resented their laziness, even if it was paid for by their employer and, through reduced wages, themselves.

But why do we have such a bifurcated system? Why do we self-employed pay full freight on social security, Medicaid, etc. and have no unemployment insurance while salaried employees don’t? If we can make do without those benefits, why can’t they, and vice versa?

It seems to me that this is a good time to revisit the whole employment benefit package and eliminate a number of programs that serve only to encourage slothfulness and greed. We should be prodding people back to work, not prolonging their idleness.


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Nothing we haven’t been predicting here for the past two years, but …

UPDATE: Retired IB’r sent me the link to this interview several days ago, when I was under the weather, and I missed it. My apologies.

Meredith Whitney says of housing, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Adding to her skepticism of a recovery, said Whitney, is that more and more, people are choosing to not pay their mortgages, which is something she would not have predicted a year ago.

“What has happened in the last year,” she said, “has been the government and banks have provided a lot of mortgage modification programs, and a lot of consumers have been smart enough to say, ‘I can get a better deal on a modification program if I wait two, three, six months. So I will pay the things I need to pay the most — my credit card bill, auto bill, even home equity.’ And they’ve been not paying their mortgage.”

This has created, she said, “a massive, rotting pool of assets on bank balance sheets that have provided the consumer excess cash.”

That cash has allowed people to spend more freely in stores and restaurants, creating the feeling that the economy is, while not completely recovered, moving forward.

Just the opposite, said Whitney, who expects a double dip in housing to be inevitable. Those delinquent payers will soon have to answer for their actions, she said. In the second quarter, banks were becoming more aggressive about foreclosing on delinquent borrowers, she said. More houses on the market means still-low home prices.

“How can house prices grow?” she asked. “There’s no other way to look at it, they are going down again.”


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No wonder soccer is popular south of the border – they have Spanish announcers!

Here’s how to call “Gooooool!” Way cool.


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I claim first dibs on Crete!

Samaria Gorge

Greece putting its islands up for sale.

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Who knew?

Huge thunderstorms, maybe a tornado hit Bridgeport two hours ago. Here in Greenwich, twenty-five miles away, nothing. Weather is certainly fickle.

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