Monday, January 16, 2017

Another measure of inequality

The World Economic Forum has just published a report using a different measuring stick, which it calls the inclusive development index . The index is made up of data on income, health, poverty, and sustainability. We don't do very well; we rank 23rd out of 30 developed nations.

We performed worst in measures of the distribution of income and wealth, and the level of poverty. We didn't do well in what the WEF calls social protection—defined as efficiency of public goods and services and robustness of social safety nets—and employment and labor compensation.

8 people - $426 BILLION

Oxfam has just released a study comparing the eight wealthiest people in the world to the those at the bottom of the financial ladder (about half of the world).The eight people have as much wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The report attributes this inequality to businesses dodging taxes, driving down wages and using their power to influence politics. And the report goes on to say "many of the super-rich are not ‘self-made’. Oxfam analysis shows over half the world’s billionaires either inherited their wealth or accumulated it through industries which are prone to corruption and cronyism." Some other quotes: 
1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day.
The world could see its first trillionaire in just 25 years.
Seven out of 10 people live in a country that has seen a rise in inequality in the last 30 years. Between 1988 and 2011 the incomes of the poorest 10 percent increased by just $65 per person, while the incomes of the richest 1 percent grew by $11,800 per person – 182 times as much. 
Who are these 8?
Bill Gates: founder of Microsoft (net worth $75 billion) 
Amancio Ortega: owns the Zara fashion chain (net worth $67 billion) 
Warren Buffett: largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8 billion) 
Carlos Slim Helu: owner of Grupo Carso (net worth: $50 billion) 
Jeff Bezos:  founder of Amazon (net worth: $45.2 billion) 
Mark Zuckerberg: co-founder of Facebook (net worth $44.6 billion) 
Larry Ellison: co-founder of Oracle (net worth $43.6 billion) 
Michael Bloomberg: founder of Bloomberg LP (net worth: $40 billion)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bacevich on Mattis etal

Excerpts from an article by Andrew Bacevich in the Atlantic:
The most intriguing aspect of the exchange between Mattis and members of the committee was the absolute absence of interest, from either side, in how the armed forces of the United States have performed in recent years. In Afghanistan, in the now-resumed war in Iraq, in U.S. combat operations, large and small, in Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria—none has yielded anything approximating conclusive victory. However you define U.S. aims and objectives—promoting stability? Spreading democracy? Reducing the incidence of Islamist terrorism?—they remain unfulfilled. Yet no senator thought to ask Mattis for his views on why that has been the case, what conclusions he draws from that absence of success, and how he might apply those conclusions as defense secretary.
None of the lawmakers present—several of whom made a point of promoting weapons systems produced in their state, or engaged in politically correct posturing—thought to solicit Mattis’s views on the this gap between effort and outcomes. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut elicited ironclad assurances that Mattis favored modernizing the navy’s submarine fleet, subs being made—surprise—in Connecticut. And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York was able to advertise her credentials as a champion of women serving as combat infantrypersons. So of senatorial preening, there was plenty on display. Of questions touching on core issues of national security, there were next to none.
The strategic vacuum in which America’s endless wars drag on went unremarked upon. Whether members of the Armed Services Committee are oblivious to the absence of strategy or don’t see such matters falling within their jurisdiction is unclear. Perhaps they just don’t care.
Mattis responded to senatorial questioning like the career military officer that he is: by making the case for more. More money for maintaining and refurbishing hard-used equipment, more money to buy new weapons, more money to expand the size of the army, navy, air force, and Marine Corps. New nukes? Yes. New strategic missiles? Yes. A new long-range manned bomber? Yes. New submarines? Yes. The gold-plated, years-behind-schedule F-35? Love it. Oh, yes, Mattis promised to be a careful steward of the nation’s resources, a vow that senators pretended to take seriously. The various entities comprising the military-industrial complex, from General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, to Boeing and Raytheon, have got to be licking their chops.
It’s misguided policies based on a flawed understanding of what armed force can and cannot do, and when it should or should not be employed. On that score, Mattis and members of the Senate Armed Services are certainly on the same page. They are clueless.

Snow Day at Oregon Zoo

Now he's promoting L.L. Bean

What company will he endorse next? Here's his tweet:

Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. @LBPerfectMaine — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Jan. 12, 2017

The first photo of a Ruby Sea Dragon

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Money or Country

I have been relatively silent about Mr. Trump's becoming president. I've hoped that his outbursts and non-presidential actions as president-elect would be minimized when he took office. I now doubt that will be the case. I find him still excessively egotistical and unable to accept the facts that he is not universally loved and that he is as fallible and error-prone as the rest of us. 

I can understand his not wanting to "play the game" as practiced over the life of this country. But, one would think at age 70 he would realize that his job now is to be president, not a businessman. Why he is afraid to finally reveal his tax returns can only lead people to believe he is hiding something nasty and clearly non-presidential. As president and former president, he will never be financially troubled. Why can't he establish a trust fund which he does not control? Why must he act in violation of the Constitution?

Who's the biggest

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Helping the Needy

The GAO released a study showing that as of October 31, 2016, the government “had disbursed $22.6 billion (60 percent) of the $37.51 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds” that were directed at helping distressed homeowners as a result of the 2008 Wall Street financial crash and the resulting housing bust. The Federal Reserve loaned to both U.S. and foreign banks $16.1 trillion.  It gave $7.7 to just four Wall Street banks from 2007 to 2010. The Fed funneled $2.5 trillion to Citigroup; $2 trillion to Morgan Stanley; $1.9 trillion to Merrill Lynch; and $1.3 trillion to Bank of America. 

How many bombs did we drop in 2016?

The Council of Foreign Relations says 26,171. They used Pentagon data to arrive at this number, which may be an underestimate. The countries bombed were Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.  In 2016, the United States dropped 3,027 more bombs than in 2015.

Debt, a major aspect of college sports

Monday, January 09, 2017

Mars sees the Earth and the Moon

Mars was about 127 million miles from the earth.

He must have a lot of free time...

maybe he has trouble sleeping or he has a personality disorder. Why does he have to respond to situations where he is not praised? Why doesn't he tweet about his tax audit?

Per Capita Gun Deaths in 2014

From the BBC

A Serious Problem

The white strip in the photo above shows the beginnings of a breakup of one of the ice shelves in Antarctica. Scientists expect it to continue and in their words, "it will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.” Ice shelves keep glaciers in place. If the breakup continues, it is likely that  global sea levels will rise by almost four inches.

The rift has grown about 50 miles since 2011, 11 miles of which have happened since the beginning of December.  It has now widened to over 1,000 feet and only 12 miles of ice continue to connect the chunk with the rest of the ice shelf.