November 28, 2008 archive

Introduction to Marxist Economics

Original article via Socialist Appeal (US):

Many workers are concerned about the present crisis of U.S. capitalism and how it affects them. Therefore, Socialist Appeal thought it might be helpful to explain some basics about capitalism and why we believe that socialism is the only solution to the crisis.

Late Night Karaoke

Speak To Me

Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Local First This Holiday Season

It’s ironic that WalMart has become an iconic symbol of the very same small towns that they’ve destroyed.  Main Street sits, rotting if even in a beautiful way, as a vacant reminder of the not-too-distant past when we built walkable communities that worked.  Places worth caring about, aesthetically pleasing mixed-use human scale neighborhoods that grew organically over time as the need arised.  Buildings designed and built by real people, kept up with pride by the business owners who lived in an apartment on top of the store itself, or in a house a few blocks away.  One with a long porch, on a street with sidewalks…so they could greet their neighbors as they walked by on a Sunday morning.

I’m not gonna think that I can influence the shopping habits of America with one blog post, but I am going to ask you the favor of at least considering what I have to say.  If you’re gonna shop tomorrow, at least consider our neighbors and our neighborhoods.  America is in the late stages of a serious disease, but fortunately there’s a cure…

Black Friday

Who wants to be long?

For stores, the holiday season may already be over


Thu Nov 27, 4:33 am ET

Major department stores and mall-based chains have cut prices up to 70 percent to move out mounds of excess inventory stuck in the pipeline since the financial crisis hit in September and people snapped their wallets shut.

Big moves of merchandise happen every year – but usually after Christmas. This year stores are desperate to shed inventory even before Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t supposed to be this bad. Stores, which typically place orders about four to seven months in advance, had cautiously planned their holiday inventories about 15 percent below last year’s levels.

But because of the free fall in consumer spending, stores are now stuck with about 15 percent to 20 percent excess holiday inventory, estimated Burt P. Flickinger, managing director of Strategic Resource Group.

How bad will the season ultimately be for stores? Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wachovia Corp., expects total retail sales to fall 0.5 percent for November and December. That would be the first decline in holiday sales since 1982.

The problem for a retailer is that most of their capital is tied up in merchandise, most of which is ordered up to 6 months or even a year ahead of time.  Like everyone else they buy on credit and count on income from sales to pay off the loans when they come due.

This year, just like hedge funds, they are liquidating assets (inventory) in anticipation of margin calls and redemptions.

But Wait!

Writing in the Raw: Tradition

this essay is mostly a re-post from last year, with minor up-date editing.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

When I was growing up my Dad was in the Air Force; we moved around… a Lot. Most holidays it was just us, no extended family. I guess in some way to make up for this perceived lack, Mama and Daddy always had ‘orphans’ for the holidays: cadets who couldn’t get home, officers just posted to the base whose family hadn’t yet arrived, young wives whose husbands were overseas and later stranded college kids my sibs brought home.

    Mama always put on quite the  feast…we weren’t allowed anywhere near the kitchen for several days before each holiday. It became a running joke. “She’s doing this on purpose, you know” Dad would stage whisper several times, “Starving us so our appetites will be immense & we’ll declare whatever slop she dishes out as food of the gods.”

Jackson Browne – Before the Deluge

I’ve been moving all day so I’ll keep this brief.  This is my happy Thanksgiving wish for you all.

I think it’s interesting how artists can be ahead of their time in ways that maybe even they don’t understand.  Some works of art only resonate the more as time passes.  Orwell’s 1984 for example.  

I felt that way about Paul Simon’s American Tune, and I think Jackson Browne speaks to our time in a similar fashion in Before the Deluge.

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