Monday, October 20, 2008- - -
The more things change..
The Casper Star runs an article on odd historic trivia. The caption on this one was irresistible:
A Look Back in Time: Sex confuses men
Friday, October 10, 2008- - -
Let's not forget Darwin's finches..
An interesting bit at the InstaPundit's. Stephen Hawking says that 'if humans can survive the next 200 years and learn to live in space, then our future will be bright.' "I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space," says Hawking.
Sounds good to me, but.. Isolate a small gene pool and you get fairly rapid evolution. Thus, Darwin's finches, isolated on several islands, soon became several distinct species. Isolate humans in various space habitats that have no contact with one another and there's no reason to believe the same wouldn't happen to us. Would we still be "the human race" at that point? Interesting.
Happy days are here again!
WASHINGTON -- As the national economic meltdown takes its toll on local economies, some out-of-the-way states are enjoying unprecedented prosperity. Home prices in states such as Wyoming, West Virginia and North Dakota continue to rise, wages are growing and unemployment is at record lows.No, I'm not dead, just fully employed.. and then some. A very interesting article. It's not the first time that this contrarian* economic situation has been noted and I think there are factors at work other than those described here. First, I'd disagree with Mr. Liu's assessment of the value of public works. Sure, we're building new libraries and community centers, but most of the boom in construction that I'm seeing is due to the influx of energy workers -- new company offices, worker housing and new motels going up like mushrooms -- and housing for all the blue state refugees.
"The downturn in the economy has winners and losers," explained Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. "After 9/11, it was fairly uniform -- everyone had a downturn. This time it's very different because of the high agriculture and energy prices," and because the deflating housing economy is a regional phenomenon.
Wyoming anticipates a $100 million budget surplus this year, and its economy has grown threefold since 2001. North Dakota has rising wages and an unemployment rate that is half the national average. And West Virginia's top budget official says the state's economy is better than at any time since it was founded in 1863.
Wenlin Liu, senior economist with Wyoming's economic analysis division, said his state is especially strong, thanks to a government that derives two-thirds of its revenues from the energy industry. Wyoming's general fund has grown threefold this decade, Liu said, and home price appreciation there is second only to Oklahoma's. Even the construction sector there is growing, thanks to state spending on public works.
The article notes that "Colorado expects to take in 84 percent more in energy-extraction taxes this year than last, but faces a $99.4 million shortfall because of lower income and sales tax collections ..." Is this because they're taking in fewer actual dollars in income and sales taxes? I doubt it. Rather, it's because the increase in income and sales tax collections hasn't kept pace with the increase in state spending. They for sure charge plenty of sales tax (I'm back working in Colorado and I about choked when I got the first restaurant bill).
A state can only put the squeeze on its residents for so long. Taxes go up, state services remain the same or go down, and finally people get fed up and leave. Wyoming is benefiting from all those people who were tired of paying higher and higher taxes for fewer and poorer services. That's why our home prices are rising, people are moving here. Of course they're also coming for the jobs, but I don't believe employment is as bad elsewhere as these folks make out. 5-6% unemployment isn't a disaster unless you're one of the folks who are unemployed. Like the news media folks who write these articles..
*Update: I should explain. Perhaps "contrarian" isn't the most accurate term for the phenomenon, but it's something like that. It seems that when hard economic times hit the coasts and big cities, as is supposedly happening now, the economy booms out here in the hinterlands. And vice versa. When times are good and the national economy is booming, we're hurting. Go figure.