Showing 1 - 10 of 14 posts found matching keyword: economy

According to my latest credit card statement, if I continue to pay the minimum balance each month and I make no new charges, I will pay off my current card balance in 23 years. That's far longer than it took to build the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, and the carvings on Mount Rushmore.

Fortunately for me, all of those things cost far more than my outstanding credit card balance, even including interest incurred over the next 23 years. In fact, the reported total payment over the next 23 years wouldn't be enough to buy a new economy car. Whether that says great things about how low my interest rate is or terrible things about the spiraling inflation of the American economy is a thought exercise I will leave up to my readers.

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Overheard by a Rite Aid manager recently was a lament that Coca-Cola now controls domestic distribution and prices with an iron fist, leading directly to decreased sales in the face of Coke's exorbitant price inflation. To illustrate this point, supermarkets routinely sold 2-liter bottles of Coke for about $1.09 as recently as 2005. Supermarket prices now routinely top $1.79 despite an inflation rate of only about a dime over that time. Coca-Cola blames their poor domestic sales in recent years on health-conscious Americans avoiding sugary drinks (as if!) and declining economics. Of course we're drinking less, Coke, you're selling us half as much for nearly twice the cost!

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Blizzard, publisher of the "more than famous" World of Warcraft video game, has had trouble in the past week selling their new Celestial Steed. Their trouble, it seems, is that everyone wants one. So many people have tried to buy the Steed that the Blizzard shopping carts have had to put people into ques to handle pacing for their servers. Some reports indicate that Blizzard is making as much as $500,000 per hour on this little bit of ephemera.

This boggles my mind. These steeds cost $25 in real, actual, U.S. government-backed money for use in a virtual world. I understand that entertainment has value, but compare that cost against going to the movies: for $10, you'll get 2 hours of entertainment. Can Blizzard's new beast of burden really entertain someone for 5 hours? Sure, it virtually "flies" (insomuch as anything displayed on your heavier than air video monitor can be said to fly), but only as fast as your skill makes it go. To get the most from your Steed, you'll have to spend even more time practicing riding it. Figuring a recurring monthly fee for server access ($14.99) and the actual time spent playing (at $7.75 Federal Minimum Wage for, let's say, 20 hours per week), that's an equivalent expense of about $8 per hundreds of man hours of practice and farming time to get the most from your imaginary horse after you've already wasted time in a virtual line to pony up the real cash. No matter how I slice it, this is a terrible deal: wasting money to waste time.

Paying for play in a virtual world is one thing. But standing in line to pay to accessorize that world, that's something else. Something stupid. Maybe I'm just a cheap curmudgeon, but maybe the world really is full of gullible fools with more money than brains.

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This weekend, I had a hard time finding Crest Whitening Expressions Cinnamon toothpaste, and I fear that the economy has stolen my toothpaste from me. Officially, I can find no news that Crest will be limiting or ceasing the production of the toothpaste, but local suppliers seem to find no reason to carry it anymore. I'm probably only a tube away from having to use >ick< mint flavored toothpaste.

You think you're pretty big right about now, don't you, economy, stealing hygene products from us lowly consumers! Well, I've got news for you, I'm not going to take this lying down! One day, you'll come crawling back with your hat in your hands -- you always do! -- and you know what? You'll be getting no sympathy from me! No, sir! We'll see who has the last laugh, then, won't we? Ha!

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Our government is as dysfunctional as ever. (Sorry, Obama, but I'm not buying what you're selling.) If we want to escape this new Great Depression, we'll have to look to our citizien heroes to solve this problem.

I suggest you hire a CPA, Batman; that's a lot more than a million dollars.

Thank you, Batman. Take note, Robin. The way to stimulate the economy is to spend money, not save it. Batman's stack of glowing $1,000 bills will certainly go a long way towards restoring consumer confidence. (Don't worry, they're not radioactive bills, they shine because they're squeaky clean, just like Batman himself!)

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It appears that the United States government will soon pass a bill worth $790 billion to stimulate the economy. That's a lot of money. A whole lot of money. Especially when you take into account that as recently as 4 months ago, our government passed a bailout bill giving away an additional $700 billion which has proven to be a political and economic nightmare. (Don't worry. I'm sure they got it right this time. >derisive snort<)

Taken together, $1.5 trillion is more than the GDP of all but the 13 wealthiest countries in the world. That means that in the span of half the year, the United States government has given away more money than 94% of the world is capable of producing in a single year of sustained industry. That's more than the combined 2007 revenue of the top 6 Forbes 500 companies. (Or, rather amusingly, approximately the estimated value of Forbes' largest fictional company on record, CHOAM, a galaxy-wide mega-corporation that controlled the spice in Dune.) That's $250 for every person on the planet!

It takes Coca-Cola 100 days to serve 1.5 trillion servings globally. It would take a forest of 56 billion oak trees to produce 1.5 trillion leaves. There are only 100 billion stars in our galaxy.

These numbers are so large that they defy comprehension; there are simply no comparable values that people can relate to. I'm no economist, but that sounds fucking crazy.

I could go on, but I suspect that the only people less qualified than me to talk about money management are currently my "representatives" in the United States Congress.

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New York Governor David Paterson has proposed an 18% "obesity tax" on soft drink sales in New York state. The American Beverage Association objects ('natch), claiming that this tax will put the squeeze on the middle class. ("In an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on hardworking families." -ameribev.org )

Let's say I consume a single 2-liter Coca-Cola every 2 days. That's 180 2-liters per year. (Don't judge me.) At $1.50 per 2-liter, that's $270 I spend on Coke per year. I already pay 7% sales tax for Coke, meaning that $270 of Coke costs me $288.90. If I were forced to pay an additional 18% tax on top of that, those 180 Cokes cost $337.50, a nearly $50 increase over the course of a year. (That's a lot more than I spend on comic books these days.)

Even in these hardscrabble times, that's not really a lot of money. And I drink a LOT of Coke. (Don't judge me.) How many families in New York consume as much soft drink per person as I do? Turns out that according to the National Soft Drink Association, the national average is somewhere near 105 2-liters per American per year. For the average New Yorker (at, say 1700 Broadway in Manhattan, the home of DC Comics) paying a sales tax of 8.375% on that same $1.50 Coke, they'll be paying $199.04 instead of $170.69, an annual difference of about $30.

Needless to say, ABA, I don't think this will break the back of New Yorkers. And the number is so low, that it is unlikely to really discourage that many obese middle class buyers. (Though I do think of my dad, who won't buy any 2-liter soft drink at a cost greater than $1.00, because "the price was never that high when I was a kid!")

But don't take this article as me supporting the government involving itself in my buying habits on the grounds that it knows better than I do what's good for me. I'm the guy that opposes seat belt laws, remember? If I want to get too fat from sipping sugary beverages to be thrown to my death from my car in an accident, I think that's my right!. And I'll let the ABA use that argument if they think it will help them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go to work saving my life by pouring another Coke.

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Today was supposed to be the end of the world. So if you're reading this, we must all be dead.

Worst case scenario? Superman has to circle the Earth backwards a few times. No big deal.

A lot of furor was made this summer over the activation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. The LHC is a $6 billion chemistry set designed to replicate the natural collision between sub-atomic particles at near the speed of light in order to substantiate the existence of theoretical particles of matter. Try doing that in your garage!

However, some grizzled curmudgeons have complained that the replication of the natural collision of particles could result in black holes that will rend the Earth atwain! But who ever listens to the town drunk who warns us not to go down to the lake? At least these complainers are smart enough not to make the more logical complaint that Switzerland has built something the size of a city to explore a purely academic scientific pursuit instead of throwing that $6 billion at something more practical, such as clean coal, hydrogen fuel cells, or growing hamburgers on trees. It's the more sensational fear of the apocalypse that grabs headlines, not simple whining about political boondoggles.

This morning, it turns out that sucking sound you hear is really just the implosion of the U.S. economy. Fortunately for all of mankind, the LHC sprung a leak (meaning that it could no longer contain those black-hole spawning particles) and was shut down last month, long before it could reach the tests scheduled for today that would end the world. Those Earth-destroying tests have been rescheduled for next year.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I for one am pleased that we have several more months until an artificial black hole births a rampaging energy being that threatens to destroy the Earth, as depicted in the Sci-Fi Channel documentary The Black Hole. Even though scientist Judd Nelson will no doubt arrive to save the day, I'm already constructing a rocket ship to blast my newborn son to a distant planet where, in comparison to the primitive men that populate that planet and aided by the world's white sun, he will have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

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The same day I discovered how much spam I was receiving (see previous post for details), I watched the 1973 Michael Crichton-written film Westworld in which the attractions in a lavish theme park inexplicably become murderous. (Really, it's exactly the same movie as the 1993 Michael Crichton-written film Jurassic Park but with less explanation for why the attractions are killing people.) Perhaps it's because I had already been looking at numbers that afternoon, but I became captivated by the economics of Westworld.

The park guests attending the theme park Delos (of which Westworld is just one part, like Frontierland or Adventureland at Walt Disney World Resort) each pay $1,000 per day for a week-long visit to the theme park of their imagination. So for a mere $7,000, these guests spend a week surrounded mostly by robots who simulate the lifestyles, behaviors, and mores of inhabitants of the mythical American West. While that may seem expensive for simple park admission, think about it this way: for $7,000 they get to abuse, kill, or sexually molest machines, who for all practical purposes, are human beings. Says one fellow in a promotional video at the beginning of the movie, "I shot six people!" When you look at it that way, the price of admission becomes a bargain when you consider that the costs of the same actions outside of theme parks is likely life in prison or worse.

It's worth noting here that the Grecian island of Delos was once sacred to the ancient Athenian civilization. Besides being the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis -- god and goddess of arts and the hunt, respectively -- Delos was also famed as a location upon which people were forbidden to be born or die. Quite fitting for a theme park populated by robots. And a way better name than Six Flags.

But more to the point, there are approximately 20 guests seen delivered to Delos by hovercraft for their weekly stay. (Apparently, even in 1973, monorails were artifacts. And to be fair, an actual count appears to be 18 people, but I'm rounding up, figuring in Delos' favor that this was an off-week as they appear to have a slightly greater capacity than they are using.) That means that the gross weekly income at Delos was $140,000, or over $7 million per year generated by 1040 guests, assuming there is no "off" season.

Delos is a very large enterprise, consisting of three "worlds," each populated by dozens of unique and technologically-advanced robots, period-accurate buildings and an underground central command and control complex coordinating the entire site's operations. Weekly expenditures for power and maintenance of such amazing facilities and mechanical marvels would have to be staggering, well exceeding $140,000! (Walt Disney World doesn't release operating costs, but they recently bragged that an energy overhaul saved them 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. At the average Florida commercial price of 10 cents per kwh, that's a monthly savings of well over $800,000!)

To compare, Walt Disney World, opened in 1971, is a huge operation maintained not by expensive robots but by teenagers dressed as "cast members." Well more than 10 millions visitors pass through the Walt Disney World gates every year, 10,000 times greater attendance than Delos achieves! A well-to-do modern day visitor to Walt Disney World could pay well over $5,000 for park admission, room, and food for a week, all of which are included in the admission price to Delos. Transform that $5,000 in modern cash to 1973 dollars, and you find that it's roughly equivalent to... $1,000. Just think about how much red ink there must be on Delos' books!

While having your rides assassinate all of your guests and staff is certainly bad for business, it's probably a better option than actually letting your guests shoot holes in your rides. I'm certainly no business major, but I'm pretty sure that Business 101 includes the maxim that if you construct one-of-a-kind replicas of famed Western actor Yul Brenner, don't let your customers destroy them for a mere $1,000 a day. After all, also in 1973, the United States Government spent six million dollars upgrading just one man! And that was only 2 legs and an arm!

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While performing some routine maintenance on Wriphe.com last week, I counted that in the past 60 days my email address had received 17,776 junk emails. That's an average of 8,888 per month, more than 296 per day, more than 12 per hour, or more than 1 spam email every five minutes.

That made me a little curious, so I did some research. In the same 5 minute span between my spam emails, 24 Americans died, 40 Americans were born, 62 Americans were in car accidents, the average American heart beat 350 times, the Earth moved 5,584 miles around the Sun, Americans consumed 1,045,624 servings of Coca-Cola, and the United States Federal Government spent approximately $25,655,864 (before any bailouts).

Now, every time I receive a spam email, I have the urge to spend $25 on a glass of Coke.

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To be continued...

 

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