Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rice rationed

Reuters " Sam's Club, a chain owned by retail giant Wal-Mart, announced Wednesday it was placing a limit of four 20-pound (nine-kilogram) bags per person for imported jasmine, basmati and long grain white rices as a "precautionary step."

"This temporary cap is intended to ensure there is plenty of rice for all our members," said Sam's Club, which has 600 stores across the United States, adding that the measure did not apply to smaller bags of rice."

From a buisness point of view, this doesn't seem to make sense, limiting your sales. Still, if your waiting for demand to rocket, then you can hold the rice and sell it at a premium.
Good for stockholders and those willing to buy it at that price, anyways.

It's a self-enforced rationing, not government. I can take my economic flamethrower and mosey on else where.

Still, it's not helping public opinion any in regards to this economic situation. Note, not downturn. :D

And yes, I did take that picture. No, I don't know whats in it.

Zimbabwe's neighbors refuse arm shipments

Rueters: A shipment of Chinese arms bound for Zimbabwe will be recalled after South African port workers refused to unload the vessel and neighboring countries barred it from their ports, China said on Thursday.

The recall of the An Yue Jiang, carrying 77 tonnes of assault rifle ammunition, mortars and rifle grenades, came after unprecedented regional opposition in addition to Western pressure over Zimbabwe's election crisis.

No results have been announced for the March 29 presidential vote, while the outcome of a parliamentary poll which the opposition won is also in doubt because of partial recounts.

European Union already has an arms embargo against Zimbabwe, part of sanctions in place since 2002. The embargo bars the 27 EU states from supplying arms or equipment intended for military operations. The U.S. has also imposed sanctions."

Seeing how Robert Mugabe is likely on the loosing side of this election, I can understand the regional countries refusing shipment of weapons inland.
Just a bit of interesting world events that probably have more impact then that primary yesterday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Food Prices and Government Policy

One of the cardinal rules for a politician, particularly those from Washington, is to know the price of milk and eggs in a town that you're speaking in. Well, those numbers have been rising.

AP: "The U.S. is wrestling with the worst food inflation in 17 years, and analysts expect new data due on Wednesday to show it's getting worse. That's putting the squeeze on poor families and forcing bakeries, bagel shops and delis to explain price increases to their customers.

U.S. food prices rose 4 percent in 2007, compared with an average 2.5 percent annual rise for the last 15 years... Eggs cost 25 percent more in February than they did a year ago, according to the USDA. Milk and other dairy products jumped 13 percent, chicken and other poultry nearly 7 percent."

How does this happen? For everything, there is a cause and then effect. So, the effect is obviously rising food prices. The Cause? - Most of our food is home grown, so the dollar weakening on the global scale has a minimal impact on food prices at home. - Speculators playing the market? Not so much. Speculators buy 'futures', meaning they pay a fixed rate some time down the road for a certain amount of wheat/corn/rice/soy/peanuts. So paying to much and then trying to make a profit upon delivery is inefficient and a loosing proposition.
Just the same, the farmer doesn't want to undersell himself, and so he looks at the coming markets and attempts to make a profit. It's been this way for years and years, and nothing has changed except the market for the product. So the speculator is not to blame.
- More demand? The 3 basic explanation for most price increases: Increased supply costs, Rising Demand, or Decreasing Availability. Growing costs have increased recently due to rising energy and water costs, coupled with Rising Demand and Decreasing Availability.

- Biofuels, Ethanol in particular. When Congress and W mandated a 500% increase in the use of biofuels, it was presented as a solution to a vastly overstated oil problem, a dream of growing all of our own fuel at home. No longer would ArcherDanielsMidland have sole control over the field, but soon Exxon Mobile Refineries would dot the landscape...
A couple of problems. Biofuels are inefficient compared to traditional gasoline, are difficult to transport, and only feasible in localized areas. They also require biomass, and the most readily available is that of Corn, Rice and Wheat. So, with they're fat government surplus checks in hand, the bio-manufacturers began buying massive quantities of food for the purpose of fuel. Seeing this and a rising demand for a product, the farmers jumped on board, and now 20% 0f corn acreage is devoted to ethanol. Thus, the price of corn in particular has risen, affecting everything from cows to chickens to pigs to turkeys, and a wide variety of livestock in between.
So how did this get started? Liberal, Socialism mandates from the Feds. Thank you W.

Why else is their rising demand? The world is flat in an information
sense, but is still opening up in a physical sense. As more and more products are shipped to more people and an ever rising population, the demand rises. China and India are the two most populous nations, and they are steadily rising in level of income and in imported material. This is also contributory to rising oil prices.

Still, this is marginal news for us. We'll grumble and then go have a bar-b-q. Or whatever it is you do in your neck of the woods.

"U.S. households still spend a smaller chunk of their expenses for foods than in any other country -- 7.2 percent in 2006, according to the USDA. By contrast, the figure was 22 percent in Poland and more than 40 percent in Egypt and Vietnam.

In Bangladesh, economists estimate 30 million of the country's 150 million people could be going hungry. Haiti's prime minister was ousted over the weekend following food riots there."

The rest of the world? Not so lucky. Once again, we can point to government interference in a market as the cause of many of these ills.

Restrictions on the amount of oil available, in the form or drilling moratorium and refusal to allow new Refineries in the US has all lead to expensive gasoline.

Mandates on Biofuels, a 500% increase, due to
fears of global warming and oil dependency.

Those two causes are killing people abroad, while the elite liberals of the ivory towers sit complacent and congratulate themselves on a job well done, ignoring the real world consequences of Marxism.

A taste of Canned Energy

Friday, April 11, 2008

Quick update

So I looked at this blog today, and realized it's been a really long time since I posted.
With a little bit o' prodding from Joel, I think it's time for an update.

I've been sick for the past three days (better now), but my apathetic posting is from more then that.
I'm disgruntled with this administration, and as usual, disgusted with the democrats. But I can live with that, and willingly go to war with them on a daily basis, cheerfully battering down the inanity of the left.

But these kicks in the teeth from republicans is really frustrating.
We've got McCain as the 'conservative' nominee.
A federal/world bank take over of much of the financial systems.
Blithering ignorance cascading down from the highest levels of education through kindergarten students, and the only thing done about it is throwing more bloated taxpayer money.
An employment rate of 95%, and we complain. Oh, how soft we've become.

I'm not furious, but beaten down. So I've taken some time off, and I'll probably take some more time off from the blogsphere. Don't worry, I'll let you know when I'm back. :D

Not that I'm withdrawing from my involvement in the electoral process. I served as a page at the local Republican Convention two weeks ago, I'm slated to work the State convention in June, and I'm applying for National Convention paging later this summer. Pray that comes through, because it would be really really cool.

I've also had my creative energies funneled off into a different direction. My younger brother and I host a weekly podcast, Canned Energy. It's about a 20 minute show reviewing energy drinks. Yeah, I know. Typical youngster. :D
But it's relaxing to back away from the morass of the current political spectrum.