Senator McCain chalked up another, and Senator Obama won his eighth consecutive state moving him ahead of Senator Clinton. CNN reports “Obama’s wins in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia primaries propelled him past Sen. Hillary Clinton in the race for delegates.” Obama’s increased success was aided by the female vote and overwhelming “close to 90 percent” black majority. “According to exit polls out of Virginia and Maryland, Obama won roughly 60 percent of the female vote — a demographic that has carried Clinton to success in past primaries. Clinton fared worse among men — more than two-thirds in both states chose Obama.”
I was walking to McDonald’s last night when my friend Drew told my friend Parisa that there was no more double cheeseburger on the dollar menu. Upheaval ensued, just as the AZCentral reported today on the high demand for that particular item, “Perhaps the most noticeable example of the more-food-for-less strategy is the appearance on more dollar menus of the double cheeseburger, long a staple of the regular menu and combination meals.” The fast food industry is very lassiez-faire in which the members operate very close to the margin which could not bode well in a lagging economy, “But with commodity prices rising, lowering the prices of fast food sandwiches could squeeze margins, especially if it doesn’t lead to better traffic and sales. The chains say the drawbacks don’t outweigh the benefit of offering more value to customers dealing with rising prices and a weak economy.” The article also reinforces sentiments I already have as a college student strapped for cash, being affected primarily by the price elasticity of “gasoline prices” and “fast food.”
A burning economic and political issue was fueled yesterday with an announcement by Trader Joe’s, the specialty grocery store, when it announced cutbacks of imported Chinese goods. The LA Times reports “‘Our customers have voiced their concerns about products from this region and we have listened,’ the company said in a statement.” A move that could have been criticized as political was dispelled as “Food safety experts said there was cause for concern. They cited the application in China of excess or dangerous pesticides, improper use of sewage for fertilizer and the use of illegal antibiotics in seafood farming.” This follows a common economic trend as goods are often produced in places with low production costs, so as more firms enter the market, those costs rise, prices fall to stay competitive, and as a result quality decreases. China is a prominent example of this in our current economy, not only in the food industry, but also evidenced in other industries, most notably Mattel’s lead painted toy recall in August 2007.
The New York Post reports that the city will cut funding to its day-care centers that are not operating at full capacity, “Instead, ACS will use the extra funds to train staffers at the various centers on better ways to recruit kids and other enrollment procedures.” This makes sense, if those funds are not being allocated to increased care for the children that are already enrolled. The presiding city agency, Administration for Children’s Services, is being blamed by the individual care centers. “[The political director] said as a result of a ‘bottleneck’ at ACS, many kids are not getting the day-care service they applied for because of a long waiting list.” No one knows the length of this list, but consolidation could be the answer if the list is short.
“The ink is still moist on Capitol Hill’s latest energy bill and, as if on cue, a scientific avalanche is demolishing its assumptions. To wit, trendy climate-change policies like ethanol and other biofuels are actually worse for the environment than fossil fuels. Then again, Washington’s energy neuroses are more political than practical, so it’s easy for the Solons and greens to ignore what would usually be called evidence.” This Wall Street Journal article is right on the money regarding a topic that I embrace as a former Chemical Engineer. The energy costs of building these “temporary” energy solutions is more than that of the current infrastructure. The oil and other energy usage to destroy what exists now and then build new to accommodate these alternative energy sources wastes energy that could be used for much more progressive operations. However the article does sum up the time aspect, “Ethanol and biofuel proponents always point out that current options are little more than placeholders, temporary fixes until the technology advances and ‘second-generation’ options emerge: ‘It’s just around the corner,’ we’re told.” That corner better be close.
KTVB News in Boise, Idaho reports that the state is entertaining a bill that would offer money to high school students for staying off drugs. “Teens would have to agree to random drug testing and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.” The reward is quite substantial, “If they do that they would receive a $2,000 scholarship to be spent at any Idaho college or university. And their high school would get $200 per participating student.” The only downside of this ideology is that it will further the divide between college educated people and those who are not. However, most teenagers are fueled by the profit motive which can always overcome peer pressure. I hope this legislation goes through, and maybe this will be another incentive to move to Idaho.
A great indicator of the economy is the housing market. Bad press on the subject has been all too common for the past year as Reuters reports “Most of the metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates were places like Stockton, California and Las Vegas, which experienced meteoric growth and unsustainable price appreciation over the past few years, or cities such as Detroit, which have undergone a widespread economic downturn with higher unemployment rates, he said.” The saddest story is of the Motor City where “A total of 72,616 foreclosure filings on 41,273 properties were reported in the metro Detroit area in 2007, up 68 percent from a year earlier.” The American auto industry’s hub of activity cannot seem to get a break, but with a little elbow grease, it can regain most of its dignity, right?
The most ridiculous story of the day comes from a most unlikely locale: Alaska. There is a housing shortage. In Alaska? What? That just does not seem to make any sense on the surface, but upon further review is not completely preposterous. A concern voiced in the Juneau Empire article is that “Some residents worried their property values would go down as a result of the development.” Property values would go down because as one resident said, “I think the density is a little too much for that area.” This does have a layer of truth. Why do people live in Alaska? They want open space and they want a purer version of nature, both of which are compromised by increased numbers of housing developments. So if you need a place to live, I hear there’s plenty of housing available in the lower 48, Detroit anyone?