Your World is Changing

Written By Nick Hodge

Posted July 23, 2011

Welcome to the Energy and Capital Weekend Edition — our insights from the week in investing and links to our most-read Energy and Capital and sister publication articles.

Your world is changing.

Actually, it’s always been changing… But for some reason, right now feels especially turbulent.

Chalk it up to divisive politics, rapidly advancing technology, or the Third World coming of age, never in my life have I seen a time when the world faced such serious problems and at the same time engaged in so much idiotic and fruitless behavior.

Something’s awry, indeed. Stay focused and you can make the chaos pay off for you. (Ideas on how to do that further below.)

But first, a bit more prodding of this craziness.

The New “Poor”

Results out from the 2010 Census claim 40 million Americans — one in seven — are “poor.”

But don’t cry for them just yet…

The Census also shows the average “poor” family lives in a home that is in good repair, has air conditioning, a washer and dryer, two color TVs and cable or satellite, a coffee maker, a microwave, an oven, a DVD player, and if children live in the house, a video game system like Xbox or PlayStation.

These “poor” families also had enough money in the past year to meet essential needs including adequate food and medical care.

Your Congress continues to give these “poor” families nearly $1 trillion per year in handouts.

And then they act like children as the country is about to default.

But that might be alright… the new poor doesn’t look too bad.

What’s Another Trillion or So?

The Navy decided to put two ships in the graveyard last week. But neither of them had ever gone on a mission.

The Benjamin Isherwood and the Henry Eckford are being taken from a Virginia port to a Texas salvage yard to be scrapped… Over 1,200 feet and $300 million worth of brand-new oil tankers never to be used. And the Treasury won’t get a dime back.

And a Congressional Research Service report shone some light on how $1 trillion in tax breaks are handed out each year.

Eskimo whaling ships can deduct $10,000 a year, even though commercial whaling is illegal in U.S. waters; businesses can deduct the entire cost of “recreational, social or similar activities” for low-paid employees (I wonder if that includes the cocaine and sex being shared between oil and Interior Department employees?); junkyard owners can take a deduction for feeding stray cats.

I should have been a poor, junkyard-owning Eskimo whaler.


Spending Your Money to Spy on You

The National Security Agency (NSA) is commissioning a project even PBS is calling Orwellian.

It’s a massively powerful computer designed to figure out what you are thinking.

Called the Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence (AQUAINT), the system will analyze your phone calls, credit and debit purchases, social network activity, GPS locations, cell phone location, Internet searches, and toll records to know exactly where you are, what you’re doing, and even what you’re thinking.

Keep an eye on your liberty, folks.

Cussin’ the Sun and the Texas Heat and the Skeeters

The intense heat you know about. Rolling blackouts are now occurring.

But there’s another danger to look out for on your deck.

I thought I was crazy the last few weeks as I angrily swatted mosquitoes while tending my garden. They were like none I had ever encountered — larger and much more persistent.

Turns out I wasn’t crazy, as I often think, but right. Our latest treat from China is the Asian tiger mosquito.

The Wall Street Journal reports it is “more vicious, harder to kill and, unlike most native mosquitoes, bites during the daytime.”


“It also prefers large cities to rural or marshy areas.”

Rutgers entomology professor Dina Fonseca says these litter buggers are “very aggressive… You can try and swat it all you want, but once it’s on you, it doesn’t let go. Even if it goes away, it will be back for a bite.”

More than half the states now have them.

Keep these and other less-reported nuggets in mind as cable news diverts your focus to the incredible drama of the NFL lockout, which Palin sibling is next to be a parent, and which pose kids are photographing themselves in this week.

There’s a lot of nonsense out there. Keep your eye on the prize.

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge
Editor, Energy and Capital

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