Think about how a majority of the general public would answers these 9 questions, let me predict their answers as follows:
1. Is global warming a problem and do automoblies contribute significantly to it? YES
2. Is increased energy efficiency desirable? YES
3. Are alternative fuels like wind and solar desirable? YES
4. Should we encourage hybrid cars? YES
5. Should we try to reduce energy consumption as much as possible? YES
6. Should we try to promote increased energy conservation? YES
7. Are higher gas prices, like $5 per gallon, a good thing? NO
8. Would you like to see lower gas prices this year, like $2 per gallon? YES
9. Should we legislate against “price gouging” by oil companies? YES
Bottom Line: The general public’s predicted answers to Questions 7 – 9 are in direct opposition to their answers to Questions 1 – 6. That is, based on the predicted answers to Group A questions, people should advocate HIGHER prices for gas and NOT LOWER prices!
Higher gas prices, e.g. $5 per gallon, would lead to MORE energy conservation, LESS pollution, and INCREASED use of alternative fuels, whereas lower gas prices, e.g. $2 per gallon, would lead to LESS energy conservation, MORE pollution, and a DECREASED use of alternative fuels.
The chart above (click to enlarge) is from Gongol.com’s monthly Traffic Rankings for Major Business and Economics Websites, see the top 10 blogs above and Carpe Diem (#43) from June 1.
From John Stossell on ABC 20/20: “One reason that people are upset by gas prices is that the price is in your face every time you drive by the gas station. But it may surprise them that this year the price of lettuce, broccoli and apples increased much more than the price of gas. You probably don’t know that because they don’t post big signs like gas stations do.”
Stossell is correct, see the annual price changes (April 2006 to April 2007) in the chart above according to the BLS: lettuce increased by 13.5%, broccoli increased by 12.7% and apples increased by 15%, which are far above the 3.7% increase in unleaded gas during the same period.
New food prices are not yet available from the BLS for May, but updating retail gas prices from the EIA shows that the year-to-year May 2007 increase in gas prices was about 8.0%, which is still lower than inflation for the 3 items mentioned by Stossell on 20/20.
Here’s a related AP article that starts out “Rising gasoline prices have been getting all the attention, but the cost of another, more-important staple is actually rising even more: food.”
What’s next, claims of “unconscionably excessive” celery prices, “price gouging” for oranges, and taxes on the “windfall profits” of egg producers and lettuce farmers?
“Bob Dole once told me that there are 42 senators from farm states and that pretty much means the government is going to be into ethanol.”
~T. Boone Pickens in the WSJ
From About.Com: Geography, which also has a very interesting list of the most populous cities througout history.
From the WSJ, an interesting article “The Butler Boom: Wealth Explosion Sparks Labor Shortage” and related Wealth Report blog posting on butlering, one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States after more than a half-century of decline, driven by the greatest surge in American wealth in nearly a century.
Aside from learning the traditional butler skills (ironing a pair of French cuffs in seconds flat, storing a sable coat, washing a Bentley), today’s butlers have a learn a whole series of new duties. The new rich are building mansions so big, complex and expensive that they’re more like resorts or small businesses than homes. The butler has been rebranded as the Household Manager, becoming a kind of Chief Operating Officer for MyHome Inc.
While Jeeves fetched the slippers and served tea, the household manager oversees dozens of “vendors” — from pool cleaners and arborists to the home-theater installer and the dog groomer. The household manager is part accountant, managing multimillion-dollar budgets, and part techie, keeping shopping lists on spreadsheets and networking computers for three vacation homes. The acronym CHM, for Certified Household Manager, can now be found on business cards.
The exploding population of rich people has made demand for good household managers so great that staffing agencies are now talking about a butler shortage. Pay for starting butlers has soared to around $70,000, with some of the more-experienced butlers earning more than $200,000, along with free room and board at the mansion or guest cottage.
Where do you get training to become a butler aka CHM? “Butler Boot Camp,” aka Starkey International International Institute in Denver. Watch a video here of butler boot camp.
We hear a lot about “Exxon Mobil’s record profits” (108,000 hits on Google), but considerably less attention is paid to “Exxon Mobil’s record taxes” (only 97 Google hits), which is approaching $30 billion per year (see chart above). That’s a large number, so here are some ways to put $28 billion of taxes in perspective:
1. According to the IRS, there are about 134 million individual income tax returns filed yearly, and the amount of federal income tax collected by the bottom 50% (67,000,000 taxpayers) is about $28 billion per year. Therefore, Exxon Mobil pays about the same amount in taxes as 67 million individual taxpayers!
2. $30 billion is equivalent to the entire GDP of countries like Luxembourg, Guatemala and Qatar.
3. $30 billion is the amount of state tax revenues collected (income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, licenses and fees, etc.) from these 12 states COMBINED: South Dakota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, Alaska, Rhode Island, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, and Nebraska.
4. $30 billion is enough to fund the COMBINED budgets of the Department of Agriculture ($19 billion), the FDA ($2 billion) and the EPA ($7.6 billion).
The Internet is a tightly controlled privilege in Cuba, reserved for the trusted elite. Private citizens are prohibited from buying computers or accessing the Internet without special authorization. Access in Cuba is limited to citizens who can prove they are engaged in research or connected to an accredited and approved institution.
And only about 2% of Cubans even have telephones, so Internet access, even if they could acquire a computer, would be almost impossible for the average person in Cuba. I guess they won’t be visiting Carpe Diem, or any other blog or website, any time soon (see the map above of visits to Carpe Diem)!
Aprovecha el dia!