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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dance along the edge

Whatcha gonna do? We use too much oil. Quickest and easiest way to cut oil consumption is to raise the price. Tack on another $1 per gallon and watch oil consumption drop. But of course, you can't do that, Americans like their gasoline too much. And raising the price of gas will make it so expensive poor people won't be able to drive to work. Whatcha gonna do?

I wonder how many people in this country have real jobs. By that I mean a job that pays enough to live on and be able to afford good medical care. Jobs that actually produce something useful. I don't mean minimum wage jobs, and I don't mean celebrity jobs, or any job that pays more than ... wait a minute, what would a good upper limit be? $40,000 a year was recently considered a "family wage" kind of job. At what point does a wage become obscene? Seems I recall military contractors were making a thousand dollars a day in Iraq. Soldiers in the US military are getting what? Maybe $10 a day? Maybe a hundred?

A thousand dollars a day for an eight hour day translates to $125 an hour or $250,000 dollars a year (roughly 40 hours a week times 50 weeks a year). My lawyer charges $250 dollars an hour for his time, but I don't know how many hours he actually bills a year. Say he manages to stay busy half the time, then he is bringing in $125,000, which probably keeps him comfortable, but he has to keep working to maintain that level of comfort. And it's not a job, he does not work for anybody else, he is dependent only on himself.

We constantly hear about the guys on Wall Street making millions, ten of millions, or even hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but even if we are hearing about it constantly, it is not that many people in actual numbers. You can only hear so much news in a day. There are pert near 300 million people in this country, and if you listen all day long (and you give them one minute of fame each) you will only have time to hear about 300,000 people in a year, which is one person in a thousand.

Much of that so called wealth is just paper. The money is invested in stocks or bonds or something and so their net worth is dependent on whatevery body else thinks their stuff is worth. If you can't sell it, it's not worth much. And you don't really want to liquidate a hundred million dollar investment. I mean what would you spend it on? How many houses can you live in? How many jet airplanes do you need? Shoot with a hundred million dollars you could probably start a small war someplace and win.

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