Economy Politics

Better News on Jobs is Good, But About Those Prices….

Pew Research just released polling data on their People Press website indicating that the general consensus among those polled seems to be that they’re hearing less bad news about the jobs situation, but more bad news about prices:

Public Sees Better News about Jobs, But Not Prices | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Certainly, that squares with reality: the price of just about everything is going up and if the overall job market hasn’t gotten much better, it hasn’t gotten the same bad press.

But for Obama, its those prices – specifically oil prices – that he has to worry about for 2012. I would submit that oil prices are a lot more deleterious to Republican incumbent chances than they are to Democratic ones, but prices this bad are just toxic for anyone.


Recession? Low Gas Prices? Why Not Buy an Oil Company?

Today’s D&C is reporting that gas prices will likely stay at their current low levels through February. And you know what that means: time for oil companies to start buying each other up.

See? The big companies never really suffer.


Oh, Hum? Interesting Articles on a Sunday

Just because I haven’t been posting to the blog and just because there are an abundance of interesting articles out there for a Sunday morning, I decided to do a quick bit of news link blogging for your reading pleasure.

It seems that the low price of gasoline we have right now is sparking some more discussion about raising the gas tax as much as a dollar or more. As much as it’s fairly proven that higher gas prices did indeed cause Americans to curb their gas consumption and even buy hybrid cars, I think this is bad for an entirely different reason. That reason is that such a high tax on gasoline would inevitably make gas tax policy the fail-safe topic of Republican discourse for years to come, even more so than the Great Society policies which have an immediate positive impact on lower-wage voters that make up their base.

And one can hardly speak of gasoline these days without invoking the familiar of Sarah Palin. On that topic, she’s busy once again keeping herself in the spotlight by attacking journalism and making an ass out of herself. Sily Old Governor Grand-MILF! Everybody knows that you can’t attack the media when they’re attacking you.

But there’s another story that may keep her in the news, this one about her (allegedly) drug-dealing in-laws, the Johnson family. It seems that there are investigators and police union people now starting to grumble about political interference in the investigation of Sherry Johnson – mother of Levi, who begat Li’l Redneck, Bristol Palin’s child. Johnson was eventually caught in possession of a Crystal Meth lab. Given Palin’s history, I think we can all safely say that allegations of political interference are just plain crazy-talk.

Meanwhile, Exile on Erickson St has an interesting post up about the political machinations surrounding one highly-unpopular Governor Patterson and the appointment of a new Senator to hill Hillary Clinton’s seat for New York. It seems rather obvious that CK endorsed Obama specifically to make enough of a name for herself to get some juice in New York politics, one way or the other.

But I’m not sure I agree with Rotten in the comments section that putting her into the Senate seat will almost guarantee a Republican in that seat come the next election. That’s one option. The other option is to trade a junior Senator with lots of power for a junior Senator with really only the appearance of power but lots of money and rich friends that will make her a permanent fixture – to our enduring distress – for years to come. If you think Senator Clinton accomplished jack-shit in the Senate (and let’s face it, she did that and less), just wait for Senator Kennedy of New York.


Gas Below $2 a Gallon. Gosh, That Was Quick.

CNN Money is reporting that gas prices nationally have fallen below $2.00 a gallon. Of course, here in Rochester, we’ve yet to see it. The lowest price I’m seeing on Gas Buddy is about $2.35 a gallon. Still, we’re talking pre-Katrina prices of gasoline. That’s quite a jump in two months.

And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: nothing about the production of oil has so changed that could possibly accommodate a 50%+ drop in the price of a gallon of gas. Wasn’t that the idea of Free Markets? That producers charge what it costs to make a product plus a little extra for profit and no more? If only the useless government regulators would get out of the way? I believe that is the Randian Utopia the Conservatives have in mind, complete with gold-foiled cigarettes.

Yet now that their number 1 consumer is broke, wow! Suddenly gas is a whole lot cheaper. I think we know now whom the Free Market benefits, and whom it fucks over.


Gas Prices and the Indy Music Scene

Here’s a ripple you might not have considered: the high cost of gas hurts everybody who drives to make their living, especially those on slim margins, but its really hitting the music industry locally.  I imagine the same holds true elsewhere.  The irony is that what I’ve always viewed as a strength of Rochester’s geography is now it’s weakness: you’re a relatively short drive from a huge number of highly-active music scenes, from New York to Toronto, from Philly to Cleavland.  But the problem is, you have to drive to those places in order to make a decent showing of yourself.


Britt Hume isn’t Paying Attention

C&L posted a clip of Fox News Sunday that I just had to repost here. Never mind the fact the Britt Hume tries to make gas prices a good issue for John McCain despite all evidence to the contrary, check out this first exchange (emphasis mine) for a textbook example of cluelessness:

Crooks and Liars » Fox News Sunday: Damning John McCain With Faint Praise

CW: Let’s talk about the economy, because the news on Friday was certainly striking, Brit. I mean, you had this $10 spike in the price of a barrel of crude oil, you had the unemployment rate, there were some statistical issues, but it was up by a half a point, the highest in 2 decades. Stock market, 400 points down. If – and I repeat, if — not necessarily that set of perfect trifecta, bad economic news continues, does a McCain stand a chance?

BH: He stands a chance, because he is not the incumbent. But the candidate of the incumbent party is always affected badly by bad conditions in the country. And the economy is not likely to be perceived as particularly good. On the other hand, whatever happened to the recession? I thought we were in a recession; you don’t hear that. It hasn’t happened. It’s kind of a miracle it hasn’t, given all the forces that were weighed against the economy, which continues to kind of poke along at a very slow pace. But remarkable, nonetheless. . . (he goes on like this)

What happened to the recession, Britt? You’re soaking in it.


Up in Smoke

It’s crazy to think that, two years ago, I stopped smoking to save that $4.25 a day I was wasting on my habit.  It’s crazy to think that the state of New York has been hiking the taxes on cigarettes with at least the justification that pricey smokes would discourage smokers.  And it’s even crazier to think that in a few months time, I’ll be paying $4.25 a gallon for gas.

It begins to look like the more sound financial decision is to drive less and smoke more.  Now, ain’t that some shit?