Monday, March 21, 2011

When you lie down with dogs...

Some people believe "the enemy of your enemy is your friend." FDR, for example. How else would the United States form an alliance with Joseph Stalin?

But this is terrible. Why can't we stop making the same mistakes over and over?

From the

SANAA, Yemen – A massive demonstration against Yemen's government turned into a killing field Friday as snipers methodically fired down on protesters from rooftops and police made a wall of fire with tires and gasoline, blocking a key escape route.

At least 46 people died, including some children, in an attack that marked a new level of brutality in President Ali Abdullah Saleh's crackdown on dissent. Medical officials and witnesses said hundreds were wounded.


The protest in the capital, Sanaa, drew tens of thousands, the largest crowd yet in Yemen's uprising. It began peacefully. A military helicopter flew low over the square just as protesters were arriving after the main Muslim prayer services of the week.

A short while later, gunfire rang out from rooftops and houses, sending the crowd into a panic. Dozens were hit and crumpled to the ground. One man ran for help cradling a young boy shot in the head.

Many of the victims were shot in the head and neck, their bodies left sprawled on the ground or carried off by other protesters desperately pressing scarves to wounds to try to stop the bleeding.


The United States, which supports Yemen's government with $250 million in military aid this year alone to battle one of al-Qaida's most active franchises, condemned the attack on protesters.

"Those responsible for today's violence must be held accountable," President Barack Obama said. He called on Saleh to adhere to his public pledge to allow peaceful demonstrations.
Instead, Saleh declared a 30-day nationwide state of emergency that formally gave his security forces a freer hand to confront demonstrators. The declaration bars citizens from carrying and using weapons.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It's all relative

In the early 1960s, gasoline cost $0.25 per gallon and the minimum wage was $1.00 per hour.

Stated differently, you could exchange an hour's worth of minimum wage labor for 4 newly minted quarters, or 4 gallons of gasoline.

Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25, and gasoline is around $3.50 per gallon. An hour's worth of minimum wage labor can now only be exchanged for roughly two gallons of gasoline. Measured in gasoline, minimum wage labor has lost half of its value. Or, measured against the minimum wage, gas is twice as expensive.

That's not all. Until 1965, quarters were 90% silver and 10% copper. If you can find one of them, at current spot prices you can buy almost two gallons of gasoline, and nearly a full hour of minimum wage labor. Measured in gas, silver has nearly doubled in value. Measured in labor, silver has nearly quadrupled in value. Gas has lost half its value compared to silver. Labor has lost nearly 4 times its value compared to silver.

A quarter from 1963 was worth $0.25 at the time. That same quarter is now worth around $6.50, or approximately 26 newly minted quarters.

In other words, our currency has lost about 96% of its value since the early 1960s. That's scary. What's more, it's lost half its value against silver in just the last few months.

This is why higher stock prices are not all they're cracked up to be.