Thursday, November 25, 2010

Unsustainable Consumerism As Economic Engine

Greece, Ireland, and now Spain is the target for bailout and austerity plan in order to satisfy their debtors.

All those countries had been following the once shining example of American consumerism and "ownership" society.

That trend of relying on consumerism to propel economic has proved unsustainable, yet some economists are hoping that tomorrow, the after Thanksgiving spectacle in the US, a.k.a. Black Friday, will rescue the US's economy.

On international level, they are preaching the once frugal Chinese to splurge.

Perhaps, it's time for the world to turn inwards and consume less precious resources, be a good steward of fragile earth, and rely on self-sufficiency more, and rely less on the unsustainable growth of economy for the basis of a wonderful and meaningful life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bush Tax Cuts? Let's Talk About Obama Tax Cuts

President Obama and his Democrat congressional colleagues are outmaneuvered by their Republican opponents once again and was dragged into the debate of partially or fully extension of Bush Tax Cuts, which was allowed to pass on the condition that it would expire at a fixed time. The time is approaching and the Republicans are now demanding to made the tax cut permanent, therefore made that condition a pretext and a cover for Blue Dog Democrat for robbing the poor to pay rich.

Instead of debating if Bush tax cut should be extended at all, for how long and for whom, Democrats should propose a new temporary tax cuts to combat the economic crisis we are still in.

Only by fully owing the tax cuts Democrats want to sanction, they will be given due credit. Otherwise, be prepared that people would bestow the mantel of hope to George W. Bush.

Kampf / 抗爭 / Kampf
© Matthew Felix Sun

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nancy Pelosi vs Barak Obama

Nancy Pelosi was elected House minority leader for next session.  Someone thought that she ought to make way to moderates.

Wrong.  The voters punished the Democrats not because they did too much, too boldly, rather too timidly, or too quietly.

After eight miserable George W. Bush years, American people were eager to reclaim democracy and human decency in this once great country and that was why Obama's "change" mantel fired up so many people's imagination.  People wanted to resurrect like phoenix.  It was a great opportunity to move the country forward.

Once Obama entered the White House, he could have moved the agenda boldly, with a clear reasoning and articulation.  The Republican congressmen and senators could be called upon to join his then unstoppable bandwagon, or face the fate of eternal irrelevancy.

Obama took the opportunity but flaunted it.

It was due to Nancy Pelosi's skill as House Speaker that Obama could claim any achievement in the first two years of his presidency, but he not only declined to lead, he never lifted a finger to help his fighters, refused to articulate what those agendas could help people.  He instead sat on his hands and waited for a bi-partisanship to emerge, and ceded bully pulpit to his opponents who wanted only his destruction. 

I think President Barak Obama owns House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her congressional colleagues an apology, and above all, an apology to American people who installed him to move the country out of the dark age of George W. Bush.

Someone were upset and blamed Pelosi for losing the majority of the house.  If you don't wield your power, then what was the point of granting you that?

The voters didn't punish Pelosi's actions; the voters punished Obama's (seemingly) inaction.

I am afraid that next two years, we won't be able to see much achievement, even if Obama became a fighter.  The golden opportunity was lost and there was no remedy for that.  Pelosi or anyone else as the House minority leader has been neutered as well.

This poor country will get poorer.

Leisurely / 悠然 / Gemächlich
© Matthew Felix Sun

Gini Index - UN Human Development Report

Nicholas Kristof reported in his article "Our Banana Republic" that the richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976.

C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

The recently published UN Human Development Report, though still ranked the US No. 4 overall, it did point out that the US Income Gini coefficient is 40, while No. 1 country Norway has Income Gini coefficient 25.8.  Below is the list of such index in a sample of other countries: 
Canada (ranking 8): Income Gini coefficient 32.6
Mexico (ranking 56): Income Gini coefficient 48.1
China (ranking 89): Income Gini coefficient 41.5
United Kingdom (ranking 26) Income Gini coefficient (not listed in UN report; according to Wikipedia map, it falls in the range of 30-34)

According to Wikipedia, "The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" (Italian: Variabilità e mutabilità).

The Gini coefficient is a measure of the inequality of a distribution, a value of 0 expressing total equality and a value of 1 maximal inequality. It has found application in the study of inequalities in disciplines as diverse as economics, health science, ecology, chemistry and engineering.

It is commonly used as a measure of inequality of income or wealth. Worldwide, Gini coefficients for income range from approximately 0.23 (Sweden) to 0.70 (Namibia) although not every country has been assessed."

It also has a visual demonstration of global information:

The inequality in our country is getting greater yet most Republicans are demanding the extension of Bush tax cut for the super rich.

It's plainly immoral.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It Will Be A Bumpy Ride

The preliminary report by President Obama’s bipartisan debt-reduction commission recommended many painful changes in order to rein in the unsustainable national debt, including increasing social security collecting age with reduced benefits and the inevitable tax increases, which drew fire from both left and right, who vowed to defeat these measures.

Perhaps, only perhaps, there are alternative means to any specific solution, but there is absolutely no alternative to shared pains - both the rich, the poor and those saddle in the middle will have to give some, and the way of life most Americans have been enjoying for generations will have to change.

Otherwise, the abyss will grow deeper.

The problem is not only the federal issue.  In California, about only a month after current year's budget passed with 100 days' delay, emerged another $6 billion deficit and it is projected that there will be $25.4 billion deficit in next 20 months.  California's current fiscal year budget is $86.6 billion.  Petulant Californian voters just approved a spate of propositions which would tie governor and legislators hands further and will make it even more difficult to solve this problem.  The state is golden no more.  So are many other states.

People might choose to behave like ostriches but that won't stop our descending to the netherworld.  True, we are still in economic crisis therefore those austerity measures must be introduced in the (near) future instead of now.  However, act we must.

In order to act, we need a national leader who will educate the masses and persuade people to accept hard choices.

Next few months would be crucial for Obama to achieve this.  I surely hope he will change his hands-off style as displayed disastrously during Health Care Reform.  He hid behind the congress and Nacy Pelosi's skirt and allowed his opponents to convince people, including those who'd benefit the most from the reform, that the good bill was actually poisonous.  He cannot hide again, behind the deficit commission this round.  He must man up and lead. 

We don't need an Obamiccolo.

House of Hope / 希望之家 / Haus der Hoffnung
House of Hope
© Matthew Felix Sun

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beer Pong Nation

Recently, I learned in a gathering a new term - "Beer Pong". According to Wikipedia,
Beer Pong, also known as Beirut, is a drinking game in which players throw a ping-pong ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in a cup of beer/water on the other end. The game typically consists of two two-to-four-player teams and multiple cups set up on each side set up in triangle formation. There are no official rules, so rules may vary widely, though usually there are six or ten plastic cups arranged in a triangle on each side.

The order of play varies—both players on one team shoot followed by both players on the other team, or players on opposite teams can alternate back and forth.


Beer pong tournaments are held in the United States at the local, regional, and national levels.


The Wall Street Journal, Time and other media outlets have reported on the increase in businesses selling beer pong paraphernalia, such as tables, mats, cups, or clothes

I am no moralist and enjoy a mug of beer or a glass of wine time to time.  But the cheers Beer Pong game is receiving is incomprehensible, because it is nothing but brain decimating, manner destroying activity.

When the US is heading to be a Beer Pong nation, it is high time to cede the claim to a great nation forever.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Victory They Paid So Much For

2010 mid-term election is largely over.

Meg Whitman, who spent $141.5 million her own money trying to win buy the governorship of California conceded her defeat.  She said that such:
... We did not achieve the victory we worked so hard for, but that is not a reason to give up on what’s most important. ...

Really?   I think she meant that they did not achieve the victory they'd paid so much for.

Barbara Boxer survived.  So did Harry Reid.  Otherwise, it was a dismal night and this country is further doomed.

Falling / 墜落 / Fallen
Falling © Matthew Felix Sun