Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Mobile credit repair!

Took this photo while driving driving to UNC Charlotte's front entrance dedication with Marcus! Mobile credit repair!

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As I was reading at the car inspection place waiting on my two month overdue inspection to finish, I couldn’t help but overhear Fox News on the waiting room televisions. John McCain was talking at his rally in Indiana about how it was the definition of the American Dream to own your own home. (And just to let you know that I’m not targeting McCain on this, Obama says similar things all the time).

At the exact moment when I heard McCain say that, I read in Master of Mysteries by Louis Sahagun (the biography of 1920-50s LA spiritual leader Manly Palmer Hall) the following excerpt,

‘A nation is an inert mass also if it has no appropriate and adequate idealism, any culture that is materialistic cannot survive because it lacks vital principle.’ 

And while I enjoyed the biography because it was a carnival side show of the wacked out new age beliefs that some of these “spiritual leaders” had, it is impossible for me to blanket judge these early century philosiphers because of their looseness with science. They did have some valid insights into human nature and American idealism. But Sahagun added some interesting notes of his own in the following paragraph which truly allowed the passage to register with me,

“But no sooner had WW2 ended than Americans with dependable union jobs… became absorbed with single family tract home and automobiles for no money down.”

An interesting insight delivered through the vehicle of synchronicity. 

That revised American Dream of the 1950s which embraced rampant consumerism has become the bane of modern society. As other cultures gain economic prosperity they seek to emulate our non-sustainable lifestyle. I’m far from a neo-malthusian thinker, believing that all resources are finite and that price plays no factor in human decisions, yet there is a fundamental physical truth to reality. Entropy will eventually change our forms of energy into less usable states. 

The problem with the current American Dream is clear to me: rampant consumer driven materialism and a desire to own too much.

Now I don’t fault the poor or the rich for seeking a more stable lifestyle. That is their right and an acceptable one at that. Yet, the means by which we have sought out that stability has resulted in a plethora of problems. Environmental degradation, externalities passed on to third world nations, a “need” for all these ridiculous electronic gadgets and such. A belief that simply being American means a right to cheap energy and world domination is meeting its end. And justly so, it simply was an illusion. 

I hope that Americans take this opportunity of financial crisis to look upon themselves and to examine their place in this global society. Are the ideas that we hold about our nation valid, or a mirage sold to us by generations of manipulative “patriots”? 

The idea that every American should own a home is problematic on many levels, it limits economic redistribution, keeping labor away from the jobs that need it. It also drives many people to volutarily enlist in slavery, running up debt that can never be paid. 

An interesting insight from my recent trip to Austria was the number of co-family homes and renters. Austrian home ownership is usually only for the most wealthy and those that can truly afford it. Why are these countries having the same problems we are? They either tried to emulate us or invested in our housing market from abroad. A move which has revealed itself as a fatal mistake. 

Let’s prepare for a new America, maybe not even one offered by either of the major political parties, where we can break free of the materialistic shackles that bind us. 


An example from Austria of multiple families living on the same property

An example from Austria of multiple families living on the same property

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I love Ciro’s and Jane’s dad says it has some of the best seafood in the Piedmont of NC! Sadly, they must raise their prices because of the economic downturn.

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In response to this question in my environmental economics class:

Mass transit critics frequently point out that while automobile use is
subsidized, transit is subsidized at even higher levels. Riders often
pay substantially less than half the operating costs. Many communities
offer even some transit services for free (like the Gold Rush at UNC
Charlotte and in Uptown), or at near free fares, to entice people onto
trolleys, buses, and trains. Is this an example of imperfect government
intervention preventing the free market from influencing transportation

Every road and freeway built that doesn’t have a toll
is a subsidy for driving. While road proponents point out that gas
taxes pay the price for roads, these taxes mainly cover costs of
There are still many shortfalls and subsidies. A society dependent on
cars requires cities’ general funds to pay for local streets, traffic
lights, policing, and the many other costs of the automobile.
Externalities generated by vehicle transportation (pollution,
opportunity cost of driving and deaths from automobile accidents to
name a few) are almost entirely negative, increasing the net cost of
roads to society.

As the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) and
cities subsidize mass transit they are making alternate transportation
choices, and specifically mass transit, cost effective and competitive
in order to compensate for the billions of government dollars used in
subsidizing roads. Local or Federal Government actions like subsidizing
walkable communities and building transit systems focused on rail may
seem expensive because a total and all-inclusive price tag can be
assigned to these projects. Price tags which aid the perception that
the cost is significantly more than the benefits or alternatives like
road-building. When the true cost of a road project is evaluated with
an understanding of externalities, the mass transit or walkable
infrastructure investments become the most efficient solution despite
the government dollars required.

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I think Google’s economics can be summed up with one simple graph,

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