A few Random Items

Random Items

The Story of the Two Things

A few years ago, I was chatting with a stranger in a bar. When I told him I was an economist, he said, “Ah. So… what are the Two Things about economics?”

“Huh?” I cleverly replied.

“You know, the Two Things. For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay, here are the Two Things about economics. One: Incentives matter. Two: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Harboring destruction
The U.S. has a few key vulnerabilities. One in particular: its ports. A few smart companies are developing technology to plug – and profit from – those security holes.

Gmail Invitation Prices Crash
Nelson to speculators: Ha-ha!

Food Makers Changing Genes
Not a surprise at all . . .

2004 Top Ten Favorite Words
Some favorites: Onomatopoeia, discombobulate, plethora, persnickety, kerfuffle . . .

Quote of the Day
“The average big company grows at about ten percent a year. So if you’re running a big company and you do everything the way the average big company does it, you can expect to do as well as the average big company–that is, to grow about ten percent a year.

“The same thing will happen if you’re running a startup, of course. If you do everything the way the average startup does it, you should expect average performance. The problem here is, average performance means that you’ll go out of business. The survival rate for startups is way less than fifty percent. So if you’re running a startup, you had better be doing something odd. If not, you’re in trouble.”

Paul Graham, “Beating the Averages”.

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  1. Joanne in Tampa, Florida commented on Jun 15

    [NOTE: Why do people post this stuff here? Gawd, send it to Cavuto!]


    Re: the Las Vegas segment, I was so disappointed to hear you say “it’s all about money” when your guest pointed out that many middle managers would lose their jobs. You revere the stock market, but do not seem to realize that the money which inflates the stock market comes directly out of Middle Class America’s paychecks and jobs.

    You pointed out that only a few corporations would own the many casinos and hotels. Do you not understand the danger of monopolies in free enterprise? When the top management uses creative accounting to rob the corporation’s assets, the company fails, huge numbers of workers are displaced, and historic buildings are abandoned.

    My niece just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. I asked her about outsourcing of American jobs. She said it’s no big deal, only a few manufacturing jobs have been outsourced. I asked if she was aware that America had run out of bullets for the current wars, and we were trying to find out where we could buy some; and how could we ensure quality. “Duh?” was her only reply.

    I got my degree in Business in 1972. I learned Keynsian Economics. When President Nixon/Carter passed wage and price controls, I didn’t think it would work. It did. Senators are now making more money in the stock market than any other group, including insider traders. A congressman passed a bill unanimously to prevent government contracts from being granted to corporations operating outside the United States. He was trying to keep taxpayer dollars for jobs for Americans in America. His bi-partisan bill died in the Senate.

    It was recently reported that the number of American millionaires has increased a great deal in recent years. At the same time, the American Middle Class is becoming extinct. We need to retrain for healthcare or education; industries we were never interested in and are notoriously underpaid.

    Doesn’t anyone understand the danger of the degradation of America’s infrastructure of skills, knowledge and manufacturing? Taxes are lost from overseas activities; cheap labor enables these crooks to underbid American businesses, and a few will make money on stock. Educated Americans have seen the demise of opportunity for us. We get to look forward to unemployment compensation and Social Security.

    Meanwhile, we are making China so rich they are competing with us for oil and polluting the air; and India’s new Prime Minister wears a blue turban. America’s short-sighted greed is enriching countries we can hardly call allies.

    You seem like a nice young man, but you need to see the big picture. Just because the stock market has been propped up by downsizing, outsourcing and overseas production over the last twenty years, the bottom will soon fall out. People like you should wonder where all that money is coming from. The Middle Class is being robbed on behalf of the stock market. Hedge funds artificially inflate prices. How much damn money does anybody need?

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