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The Morning Grumpy – 4/12/12

12 Apr

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Toys For The Whole Family

1. Would you like lower gas prices? Me too. It’s time to ban or at least radically reform, oil speculation.

According to Congressional testimony by the commodities specialist Michael W. Masters in 2009, the oil futures markets routinely trade more than one billion barrels of oil per day. Given that the entire world produces only around 85 million actual “wet” barrels a day, this means that more than 90 percent of trading involves speculators’ exchanging “paper” barrels with one another.

Because of speculation, today’s oil prices of about $100 a barrel have become disconnected from the costs of extraction, which average $11 a barrel worldwide. Pure speculators account for as much as 40 percent of that high price, according to testimony that Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, gave to Congress last year. That estimate is bolstered by a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Of course, you remember how it got this way, right? Those tea party libertarians like the Koch Brothers, who believe the “free market” will result in trickle down awesomeness for us plebeians, rigged the game in their favor.

2. Ever wonder how people manage to get by on minimum wage? Oftentimes, they don’t. This infographic demonstrates how many hours, on average, a minimum wage earner must work to pay for a fair market priced two bedroom apartment in their state.

In most places, it takes more than 70 hours of work per week, 52 weeks per year, to afford a basic apartment. Of course, people earning minimum wage also need to cover other expenses like transportation, food, clothing, insurance, education expenses, child care, and more. Minimum wage is not a living wage in America.

3. Where is Buffalo’s version of Dan Gilbert?

Detroit is poised to unwind decades of bad management, unnecessary costs, uncompetitive functions and redundant departments, and key leaders are betting they’ll get more right than wrong in the months and years ahead.

(Quicken Loans CEO) Dan Gilbert’s effort to assemble a high-tech hub in his expanding real estate empire along Woodward Avenue is unspooling steadily despite the city’s fiscal troubles, the latest coup being a Detroit office for the microblogging site Twitter. GalaxE Solutions Inc., a New Jersey-based information technology services firm, is spearheading an “Outsource to Detroit” initiative.

Tennessee-based Vanguard Health Systems is investing nearly $1 billion in the Detroit Medical Center, sitting as it does smack in the middle of the poorest major city in the United States.

Consequently, this uptick in investment has created demand for, wait for it…old buildings in need of rehabilitation!

The supply of Class-A rental space downtown is struggling to keep pace with accelerating demand, and demand so far appears to be relatively undeterred by the critical financial problems causing gridlock in City Hall. Why? Because the people making the decisions to invest, to expand and to live where they work, despite some well-known inconveniences, are coming to the conclusion that opportunity in Detroit outweighs the risk.

This isn’t rocket science. Build demand for our decrepit infrastructure through economic development and it will be “saved” not by well-meaning hipsters in bulky glasses or concerned white bearded men, but by actual businesses and people who wish to fill them.We need a political solution and this Mayor is not the man to design it.

4. Last week, a writer at the Motley Fool put together “50 amazing numbers about today’s economy“. It is a fascinating read, here’s a few bullet points:

49. According to economist Tyler Cowen, “Thirty years ago, college graduates made 40 percent more than high school graduates, but now the gap is about 83 percent.”

45. Adjusted for inflation, federal tax revenue was the same in 2009 as it was 1997, even though the U.S. population grew by 37 million during that period.

38. The Census Bureau now classifies nearly 1 in 6 Americans as living in poverty.

28. Just five companies, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Google, and Pfizer, now hold nearly one-quarter of all corporate cash, equal to more than a quarter-trillion dollars.

24. In the S&P 500, 334 companies earned more profit in 2011 than in 2007, when the economy peaked. The median gain is 38%.

Damn you, socialist, economy crushing Obama!

5. This election season is going to make 2008 look like a coffe klatch at the country club. Why? Because as it stands right now, Romney is going to lose in a landslide. To make up ground, he’s going to have to get real nasty, real fast. And he has the billions of dollars required to do it.

Using TPM’s aggregation of the latest poll numbers, here is the current state of the electoral battleground. I’m even keeping in Rasmussen polls to give the GOP an unwarranted bump in their numbers.

Romney needs to make huge inroads with young voters, women, and latinos to have a shot at sniffing 200 electoral votes. It’s a massive uphill climb, I don’t think he has the juice.

Fact Of The Day: Charles Manson’s mother once sold him for a pitcher of beer.

Quote Of The Day: “Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.” – Carl Sagan

Video Of The Day: Anderson Cooper with a case of the giggles. Not related to yesterday’s Dyngus Day kerfuffle.

Cartoon Of The Day: “Field and Scream” by Tex Avery

Song Of The Day: “Ramrod, Live in Barcelona, 2002” – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

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