Show Notes for Your Friendly Neighborhood Economist Show #004
to air Wednesday August 15, 2012, 2pm
1. Sustaining Membership Drive
Hey everyone. If you’re like me, you know that WGXC is ours. we run it, we listen to it, we make hands-on radio in Columbia and Greene Counties happen. So we know we need to support it. That’s why I’m a monthly sustaining member of WGXC. Every month, my donation is automatically processed, so WGXC has a steady reliable stream of revenue to cover the costs of running the station, especially paying our overworked and underpaid staff. We’re also growing rapidly and looking at adding More local news coverage, improving our studios to make them more accessible to our programmers and keeping our technical infrastructure in working order are just the beginning. We want to be continue turning ordinary citizens into media-makers, and to stay on the air twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. To do that we need consistent support throughout the year. So please join me this August 17 - 24. Or beat the rush and go now to http://wgxc.org/donate. It’s easy to set up and once you do, requires no added action on your part. No amount is too small; $20, $10, even $5 a month helps us tremendously. This is a very green way to help keep WGXC going. You can change your amount anytime if your financial situation changes. Our goal is to add 100 new sustaining members. Will you be one of them? Your Friendly Neighborhood Economist hopes so!
2. Local News
From a story entitled “For fruit farmers, a tough season to grow in” By John Mason in the Friday, July 20, 2012 Register-Star: the strange weather patterns we’ve had this year have hit local farmers pretty hard, especially the fruit farmers. early warm weather followed by a killer frost in April meant that many grape vines and fruit trees won’t have much of a harvest this year. that’s bad for the farmers and bad for the rest of us, too. According to a story in Al Jazeera English “US says food prices to soar due to drought”, the drought in the U.S. means high prices for food this year, especially the meat that most of the corn grown goes to feed. Beef prices may rise by 5% in the next year with other dairy and meat products rising almost as much. Fruits and vegetables are expected to rise by 2.5-3.5% this year and next year. Unfortunately this isn’t a one-time event. The warm days in the winter have been a yearly event the last few years, and one other predicted impact of global warming is drier weather in the U.S. Nevertheless, the area is attracting more people who want to get into farming. In a story headlined “County’s adding more farms, and farmers too” By Nathan Mayberg in the Thursday, August 2, 2012 Register-Star, it’s reported that the county gained over 60 new farms in the last decade most of them started by folks in their 20s and 30s. Many of them operate on the community-supported-agriculture model, in which people buy shares of the harvest ahead of time and pick up their food on a weekly basis.
I talk to Kieran Riley about climate change and the farm situation.
“New emphasis placed on tourism, economic growth: Planning and development to be invested in hands of new committee” By W. T. Eckert in the Tuesday, July 24, 2012 Daily Mail. The Greene County legislature formed a committee to oversee the development of tourism in the county, in part as a way to increase the tax base, given the restrictions imposed by Governor Cuomo’s 2% tax cap.
“$120K allotted for bus system”, By Nathan Mayberg, Register-Star, Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012. The county will spend close to half a million additional dollars on its public transportation system over the next decade, with three quarters of that coming from a state grant.
In hydrofracking news, Livingston, Clermont and Germantown residents met to learn more about hydrofracking in southern Columbia County in late July. Your Friendly Neighborhood Economist attended the meeting along with Cheryl K of the Jazz Disturbance, who taped it for WGXC (it’s available online). John Mason reported on the meeting for the Register-Star. The meeting consisted of three presentations which focused on basic information about fracking in the southern columbia county area, environmental concerns, quality of life concerns and legal approaches that towns and states have to regulate and/or prohibit fracking. In my last show, I reviewed the economic impact statement for hydrofracking prepared for the NYS DEC, and many of the same points were made in this meeting. Further meetings will reportedly provide more information. In terms of the marcellus shale that is the current focus of fracking in NY and Pennsylvania, it does extend into our listening area, stopping in southern Greene county more or less at the river. a deeper deposit of shale, the Utica, does reach into columbia county as well as greene county. The main environmental concerns have to do with the water that’s contaminated in the fracking process, both by the gas and oil and by the chemicals and other additives used to make the fracking effective. The quality of life issues raised are mainly about the destruction of the landscape and the huge increase in truck traffic experienced in towns that have wells. the legal issues break down like this in NYS: towns can control whether or not fracking is done in any part or all of the their area using the zoning authority, but cannot regulate the operations if approved; the state can regulate, but does not seem to be interested in doing so. This is disturbing since it seems that the state will move forward with allowing hydrofracking, as reported by Lissa Harris in the Watershed Post (Shale gas drilling before Labor Day?). The Cuomo administration has leaked plans to go ahead with a limited trial, though they say they’ll have to ask for more funding for DEC to regulate the drilling.
3. Global News
Anti-austerity statement by the International Association of Feminist Economists.
Seems especially important in light of today’s story from the BBC, headlined “Eurozone economy shrinks by 0.2%” Germany’s economy actually grew by 0.3% in the second quarter, but this was cancelled out by the flat french economy and the rest of the eurozone’s shrinking. That the story remains one of “a resilient core and floundering periphery” as the article states is entirely predictable. I think I said as much myself in an earlier show. The peripheral countries, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are getting bailouts for their debts, so that the German bankers they owe are getting paid, in return for which they are forced to slash spending in their own countries. This pressure only has one place to go: falling wages, rising unemployment, in short, catastrophe for workers. Germany won’t be able to keep growing even at 0.3% for long with most of the countries it regularly exports to in a recession. The news isn’t all bad though, as even in Spain there is at least one bright spot (though not Barcelona, where I made that recording). In the Basque country, the Mondragon cooperatives are faring well in the midst of the economic turmoil in the rest of Spain and Europe, according to another story in the BBC, “Basque co-operative Mondragon defies Spain slump”. A network of 250 worker-owned cooperative companies and organizations that employs about 83,000, Mondragon has not seen any of its businesses closed during the recession. They have had to look more outside of Europe to sell their products, but have done so successfully so far.
4. Presidential campaign Budget/Economic Plans
To introduce this subject, we have to deal with the central economic issue regarding the Presidential campaign: jobs. Oh wait, of course, it’s the deficit, really. ugh. In a blog post on the NY Times website, Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan and Bush 41 economic advisor, and a pariah among today’s Republican party, details what seems obvious to me, but may not be to you my loyal listeners. The current deficit problem we are having is a result of policies enacted under the previous occupant of the White House and the Great Recession. The projected deficit for 2009 when Obama was inaugurated was already $1 trillion ($3,300 for each resident of the US) which meant that the size of the stimulus plan that was passed ($787 billion about a third of which was in tax cuts) would be too small to fill the hole in the economy for political reasons, rather than economic policy reasons. So now we have candidate Romney claiming that Obama’s policies, most of which have never left congress and those that did were smaller than they needed to be, both caused the deficits we’re running and caused the slow recovery.
So anyway the deficits we have been seeing are due in the first case to the Bush tax cuts which have been expanded by the Obama stimulus, two long unfunded wars and a really bad recession. Each of these adds to the deficit in their own way: the tax cuts mean lower revenues; the wars mean a lot more spending; and the recession means both lower revenues, as incomes shrink and increased spending as more people fall into poverty and unemployment.
This month I talk a bit about the Romney plan. More on that, the Ryan plan and anythiing new from President Obama’s campaign next month.
show available online
Theme music: Drops of H2O ( The Filtered Water Treatment ) by J.Lang Creative Commons Public License