January 2013

It's all one thing

There is much to study in the weekend's financial news but we came away with one new insight about an old problem: as public debt grows, public services decline; as public services decline, less taxable revenues are circulating, which makes the problem worse and worse. Today we see Gov. Jerry Brown, who won his tax increase, deciding how to spend it -- on services or on buying California out of debt. Or what mixture of the two?

Quarantine it!

What is intolerable about UC Merced is not its horrendous, on-going and future costs, the incredible number and size of the lies told to the public, the state Legislature and state and federal resource agencies, or its arrogance, condescension and deep anti-intellectualism: what is intolerable about UC Merced is that it is abysmally boring and predictable.

Global warming and black ice

When your car loses control on the black ice and is sliding toward the railing beyond which is the canyon, time seems to slow down. It seems to take you ever so long to get to the railing, to break through and start falling. Everybody knows the sensation. It even happens to whole societies in periods immediately prior to wars. Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities about Vienna in the year before the beginning of World War I is a masterpiece on this subject.

Merced's UC Pig-in-a-poke

(Merced Mayor Stan) Thurston agreed. "It's going to be the college's magnet that will bring both to this area, eventually, in the long-term," he said. "We know that in time, with UC Merced here, that is going to change, because as the university grows, high-tech companies will relocate to the Merced area to support the university." ...Officials believe those numbers will gradually increase. Aguilar said that before UC Merced was established, students didn't have access to pursue a higher education "in their own backyard." -- Yesenia Amaro, Merced Sun-Star, Jan. 11, 2013

To reiterate ...

But there's a practical lesson in those stats on why it's smart to hit the books: The estimated median annual earnings for someone with a bachelor's degree is around $50,846, almost double the $26,834 of someone with a high school diploma. -- Merced Sun-Star editorial board, 1-12-13.


The revolving door

This article represents a lapse of taste in a newspaper that is usually smarter than the ones that surround it in the northern San Joaquin Valley.

It's about the happy little, well, not quite so little, Cardoza family of Anapolis MD. Father Cardoza quit his seat as the region's representative in the House last summer. Gathered around the fire at Yuletide watcdhed CSPAN, Dr. Mama Cardoza asks the Great Man, "Aren't you glad you're not there?"

Salt, salt, salt!

This U.S. Court of Federal Claims decision ruled that the federal government had no contractual obligation to build a "San Joaquin Drain" to transport ag drainage full of salts and heavy metals from the west side of the Valley to the Delta. While not the end of the legal argument, eventually the issue will be moot because the west side, because of that irrigation it so highly prizes, is salting up. Field by field, it will eventually be abandoned as unfarmable wasteland.


As has been said with increasing force in the American economy by responsible critics for the last 40 years: THERE ARE LIMITS!
Badlands Journal editorial board

Paul Craig Roberts
Institute for Political Economy

Nature’s Capital Is The Limiting Resource

Life will perish as the environment perishes
21st century ecological economist

The economy against the environment

--from Ecological Rift, John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clrk, and Richard York, Monthly Review Press, 2010, p. 101.
The ecological blinders of neoclassical economics, which serves to exclude the planet from its preanalytic vision, are well illustrated by a debate that took place within the World Bank, related by ecological economist Herman Daly. As Daly tells the story, in 1992 (when Summers was chief economist of the World Bank and Daly worked for the Bank) the annual World Development Report was to focus on the theme Development and the Environment:

Water anxiety grips state press


Once again, as She does every year now, since its population hit 30 million, Mother Nature is betraying California by not providing enough rainfall to allay the anxieties of the finance, insurance and real estate special interests. The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite is only 1150 percent of normal capacity for this time of year; Shasta Lake is only 111 percent of normal; and lesser reservoirs are above or at 100 percent capacity.

It's just awful. -- ed