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!
From Monster’s online job availability report for May, “The Monster Employment Index rose three points in May (see chart above), suggesting U.S. online recruitment activity and related demand for workers has stabilized at the end of the busy spring hiring season. Overall, 13 of 20 industries and seven of 23 occupational categories tracked by the Index registered increases of varying degrees last month. Year-over-year, the Index’s annual growth rate dipped slightly to 13%, but showed a moderate improvement over the slower pace recorded in the first quarter of
The Monster Employment Index is based on a real-time review of millions of employer job opportunities culled from more than 1,500 different Web sites, including Monster®.
Here are the top ten states in terms of per-capita online job availability during the month of May:
In a previous post, I quoted Business Week, “Run a Google geographical-hit query, and you’ll see that, per capita, nowhere in the world are there more searches for the words “Peter Drucker,” the late management guru, than in Bogotá. No. 2? Medellín.”
After reading the Business Week article, I tried to figure out how it ran the “geographical-hit query” on Google, and couldn’t find the right website. Searching for “geographical-hit query” didn’t help.
To the rescue comes Tim Worstall, who had a recent post on Spanx Undergarments, and revealed the mystery: “Google Trends,” which reports the highest concentration of Google searches on a particular word or phrase by city, country and language, and tracks search traffic over time. Here are some interesting search results using Google Trends.
4. Hong Kong
Top 5 Countries for Aretha Franklin searches:
Top 5 Countries for “affirmative action” searches:
2. South Africa
If you find other interesting results, let me know and I’ll post them.
I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had, and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change.
First of all, I don’t think it’s within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings, where and when, are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now, is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.
~NASA Administrator Michael Griffin
From today’s NY Times: New York is poised this week to become the latest state to ease or eliminate decades-old restrictions on ticket scalping.
For the first time, it would become entirely legal in the state for average fans to scalp their seats on the Internet. And, for better or worse, they could sell those tickets at what ever price the market is willing to bear.
NY Governor Eliot Spitzer said “Ticket scalping laws historically have not worked. I think permitting a free market to work its magic there is the smart approach.”
Other states have also reconsidered anti-scalping laws. Minnesota tossed its old anti-scalping laws this spring. A bill that would ease Missouri’s ban on selling tickets to sporting events at more than face value passed the legislature and is now before the governor.
The shift has been propelled in part by the explosion of Internet ticket sales that has made it nearly impossible for states to enforce price caps. New York’s old rule limiting a seller’s profits to no more than 45 percent over face value has been widely ignored online.
Another NY Times article on ticket scalping from yesterday is here.
Just wondering, won’t this lead to “unconscionably excessive” ticket prices? And “ticket gouging” for sporting events? And doesn’t the “free market magic” also apply to gasoline?