I don’t often write about stocks or the economy.. it’s just too difficult to know anything with any certainty anymore. We’ve been kicking this can down the road far longer than I thought would be possible at this point but a quick look around the world and you are seeing the wheels start to come off. Here are a few scary charts that when combined with the news coming out of Europe and Japan spell trouble.
A few quotes come to mind when I think about what Ron Paul and the Tea Party ideals represent. Churchill said: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” It seems the media is once again attempting to pick the Republican candidate much as they did last time around with McCain. The media is trying to focus attention exclusively on Perry and Romney… which reminds me a lot of the bit from Futurama where the two clones John Jackson and Jack Johnson were vying for the presidency. Both of these guys represent the old guard of the republican party.. much as McCain did in 08. This is not 08 though.. this time the stakes are much, much higher and I for one think it’s time to stop settling for the lesser two evils.. it’s time for something better. The last 20 years or so has been dominated by bad policy coming from both parties. I don’t blame the liberals for this… as surely as you can’t blame a snake for being a snake. It is what it is and you would be a fool for trusting it not to bite you. The republican party on the other hand is completely to blame. It has gotten so far away from its conservative roots as to be nothing but a shadow of its former self. RINO isn’t just a label describing certain members of the party it defines the party as it exists today. Regarding the current leadership I think it would be far easier to single out those to whom it does not apply.
So our illustrious Charlotte city council last night voted to take 25 million of federal money to start a new uptown street car boondoggle.. er I mean transit system. To avoid confusion with the multitude of pet rail projects around here they decided to end service on the uptown trolley that has been in operation for the last two years.. and which we spent a whopping 40-60 million to create and operate. The real numbers there are a little hard to come by but we know it was at least 40.. and 60 is more likely. This “free” federal money for the new street car will be paired with at least 12 million of local money that is going to come not from the 1⁄2 cent transit sales tax.. but from the general fund.. aka property tax which they promised never to do by the way. A little more history… back in 2007 there was a voter referendum to repeal the 1⁄2 cent sales tax in order to de-fund the light rail and put an end to all this train madness. One of the big reasons the repeal failed was because the powers-that-be made a promise to the black leadership that they would give them a transit project of their own.. aka the street car in exchange for supporting the funding for light rail… which will not run in the more ‘diverse’ parts of town. A few months after that vote.. the city leadership pushed the street car project to the back burner with a best case delay of about 10 years. Last night at the meeting this was referenced as being one of those ‘empty promises’ that the black leadership was none too happy about.
Ok.. so maybe Charlotte isn’t Rome.. and while it’s not exactly burning it’s certainly not good out there. Locally we still have a 12% unemployment rate and according to Civitas NC state government has grown over 12% while private employment has contracted by 1.6% between 01 and 09. Ouch. Tara talked about this during drive time today.. and there was a lot of anger coming her way by people who work for the city. It seems some city employees think they are entitled to yearly raises regardless of what’s going on in the real world and how dare we lowly citizens question that.
Reading more about the spill over the weekend.. the situation looks much worse than it did on friday. The visible surface area of the spill has grown much faster over the last few days than it should have if it were leaking at the rate of 5k barrels a day. The fear is that the piping will totally open up and release on the order of 165 – 250k barrels a day making it a bigger spill than the Valdez in as little as a couple days. Worse.. there is a pretty good chance at this point that the oil is going to migrate east and get caught up in the [gulf stream] which will carry it around to the east coast of Florida and potentially as far as NC affecting roughly half the east coast. One can just imagine the broad impact to the economy from fishing to tourism to real estate along all that coast line as we move into the summer tourist season. Many businesses in coastal areas depend on busy summers to survive.. even in the best of times. Somehow I don’t think people will be going on eco-vacations to clean oil off their favorite beaches.