06 February 2013

"Link of the Day" Some Thoughts From David Ruccio on the Teaching of Stephen Resnick

David Ruccio's Blog is daily filled with valuable critique of capitalism.
One of his posts today was more personal.
I encourage you to read this short summary of what Professor Resnick meant to Ruccio as a teacher.  Many of his thoughts echo my own (that I have not yet been able to face and clearly articulate since Steve's death).
I would also like to draw attention to the point that capitalism, has a history, thus a beginning and an end.  Profound and beautiful in summary.  Thank you to David for this post....

Canadians Continue to Complain About "Price Gap"


It is irritating for Canadians no doubt.  The Canadian and American dollars are currently at par, yet every time a resident of Canada goes to make an online purchased they are faced with the fact that the price is lower in the United States.  14% lower according to the article above (based on a Bank of Montreal study of a basket of goods).

I am still baffled as to why the main arguments here seem to be about tariffs and discrimination?  It doesn't take an econometric study to confidently state that distribution costs are much higher for large corporations in Canada. Getting goods to people just costs more! Although much of Canada's population is concentrated in South Western Ontario and on the west Coast of British Columbia it remains the case that Canada is a country of 9,984,670 sq km and only 34,300,083 (July 2012 est.) people.  Compare this to the United States with a population of 313,847,465 (July 2012 est.) inhabiting 9,826,675 sq km (including Alaska) and if anything it is surprising that the price discrepancy isn't larger.  The model of distribution for large online retailers is the same as the (struggling) postal service.  Charge more than shipping cost to people in concentrated population centers to offset the cost of getting goods to people is sparsely populated areas. 

This is a call to my fellow Canadian's.  Every since I can remember being first aware of the existence of the United States as a child, I felt as if all Canadians had a neglected little brother type inferiority complex.  It is time to stop feeling this way, economically and otherwise.  Perhaps prices are 15% higher, but is Canada not at least 15% more wonderful?  Subjectively speaking of course, but life expectancy, literacy rates and self reported happiness have to count for at least as much as prices on Amazon.com? 

04 February 2013

Gambling on Sports, is it Good for the Economy?

In a word, YES, gambling is good for an economy.   It is spending that might not otherwise take place, and since the gambler has already accepted the likelihood of losing the "stake" the propensity to consume on any winnings tends to be very high.
In an event such as today's Superbowl there is around 100 million dollars gambled legally at the sports books in Nevada alone.

This doesn't include illegal gambling websites, ridiculous prop bets, or the focus of my brief points here, small (or not so small) wagers between friends.

In betting with 3 different people on tonight's game, though shear luck, I won 6 beers to be purchased at local establishments and a gift of small monetary value (around $20) to be purchased on ebay.  The important thing for the economy is that none of this money would have been spent without gambling on the American football game.  When we make small wagers with the aim of making an otherwise fairly pointless sporting event slightly more interesting (tolerable) to sit through, we are essentially increasing both our spending (individually and on an aggregate level), and as I will argue, temporarily increasing our propensity to consume.

Without the Superbowl tonight neither myself nor my "victims" would be spending the small amounts of money necessary to pay off / collect on our wagers.  This extra little bit of money spent at local pubs on a Sunday evening (and on ebay tomorrow) multiplied by the millions of people who bet small amounts on the game with their friends just as I did tonight, has to have a large economic impact.  Instead of staying home and cooking dinner tonight millions of people went out, spent money and left tips.  Assuming some kind of multiplier effect, illegal gambling on the Superbowl is a far more effective economic stimulus than much of what is being discussed in Washington these days.

Gambling revenue / economic activity like all economic activity based upon "vice" continues to drive a significant portion of the American economy.  We are a depressed working class (in many ways), who are getting further in debt, watching inequality in our country skyrocket, and for many of us experiencing chronic un or under employment   Drinking, drugs and gambling continue to be part of the solution for millions of self medicating American proletarians.  American's self medicating actions are always there, they are just more obvious during a large scale sporting event.  It is during events like today's Superbowl, the World Series, the Kentucky Derby, etc. just how much we rely upon the little joys that "vices" bring to continue to stick our heads in the sand about the exploitation taking place all around us, and to us, everyday in our capitalist system. 

As a side note.  I really wanted to bet the "prop" for tonight's game that Jay-Z would show up on stage at half time.  Turned out it was Destiny's Child making a special guest appearance with Beyonce instead.  I'm glad my credit card didn't work on the gambling web-site based outside of US territory or I would have lost my wager.