How economic boom times in the West came to an end

Out of the chaos of World War II came the greatest economic boom the world has ever seen. Fueled by a rapidly modernizing workforce, productivity increased in the years between 1948 and 1973. Then war in the Middle East and the oil embargo put a stop the boom and the productivity increase.

But it wasn’t just the oil crisis. The improvements in education, the transfer of workers into manufacturing and the move of women into the workforce had all peaked. Despite minor blips here and there the sad fact is productivity has not significantly increased since 1973, there’s simply no more improvement to be gained.

Countries that elected left-leaning governments tried electing right-leaning governments in hope of changing things. It didn’t work. The old ways simply don’t work and no knows what will. Keep this in mind as the year progresses.

A valuable lesson in economics

This is one of my infrequent personal stories, feel free to skip.

When I was 12 or so I wanted to buy a 35 mm camera. My parents told me I’d have to earn money to pay for half of it and at that age a paper route was the only legal means of doing so. We got Newsday “Long Island’s Picture Newspaper” and our paperboy was getting too old for that. A few short conversations later I took over for him.

Our paperboy, it would turn out, was in possession of knowledge I was not. Within two weeks of my starting, the price per week went from 30 cents to 60 cents. Yes, each paper was now going to be a dime instead of a nickle (it was 1969 or so). Within a week of that price increase almost half my customers dropped the paper. My income, which was based entirely on tips, was cut by even more as many of those who kept it punished me by cutting back on their gratuity. I was devastated.

But I still had customers and I kept going. As it turned out, almost all of those customers eventually came back. At the time Newsday competed with The Long Island Post as the afternoon paper and as their byline said, they had a lot of pictures in every edition. People just liked it better and that helped a lot. Even better, signing up those returning customers allowed me to win prizes for new subscriptions. It almost made up for the lowered tip income (which lasted much longer). And I learned a valuable lesson in elasticity of demand, which I didn’t realize I had learned until I was in college.

I did buy that camera, a Nikkormat FTN by Nikon, and it served me well in the photo club in high school. I used it to take the last photos of my mom before she passed away. I still have it and it still works.

Why the rich are better off than ever but still paranoid

Recently, Tom Perkins, one of the world’s wealthiest and most successful Silicon Valley venture capitalists, wrote an oped for the Wall Street Journal comparing the rising critique of income inequality and “the 1%” to Kristallnacht.

Amidst the world-wide critique of this shameful comparison a question has arisen. The rich are arguably better off today (economically, politically, etc.) than they’ve been in a long, long time. So why are they acting (and writing op eds) like they were under attack?

Why Amazon Can’t Make A Kindle In the USA

Steve Denning, writing in Forbes, explains Why Amazon Can’t Make A Kindle In the USA.

Please read this article. Then read it again. Then read parts 2 and 3 twice.

I’ve been talking about this for years but it takes a Forbes article to get the message across to those who need to hear it. There’s a reason there are no jobs and if you don’t do something, and soon, there will never be any ever again.

What Standard & Poor’s got right

David Case makes the argument that despite some significant mistakes, Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the US wasn’t totally wrong.

S&P stated that the “effectiveness, stability and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened” at a critical moment for the economy. The agency added that it was “pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the administration to be able to leverage [the Aug. 2 debt ceiling agreement] into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon.” It added, “the political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed.”

Translation: America doesn’t deserve your unflinching trust because it’s fallen prey to political lunacy.

Reaganomics’ ‘Trickle Down’ doesn’t

Back in the sad, delusional 1980s, Ronald Reagan and his cronies managed to convince Americans that lowering taxes on rich people and corporations would cause a “trickle down” effect that would ultimately benefit low and middle class folks. The idea being the rich would spend more and corporations could afford to raise wages for workers. But what has happened is the rich are richer than ever and corporations are sitting on vast wads of cash while shipping jobs overseas.