Saturday, January 25, 2014

Why is Propane Price Higher?

        The short answer is that we have had a lot of cold weather, and supplies are falling short of demand. A more complete answer is that we went into winter this year with much lower stocks of propane than usual-- because more had already been used up for grain drying than usual.  This was true because, since  the corn had been planted late,  the point in the life cycle of the plants where the grain is ripe and the plant starts to dry down did not occur until well after the hot, dry days of late summer were past.   The reason that the corn had been planted late is that in 2013, we had a very, very wet spring.  So, a wet spring one year equals high propane price the following winter.  For a better perspective , see The Cat's earlier post: Do We Eat Petroleum?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Agreement About Inequality

   There was an interesting article in the Jan 15, 2014 issue of the Wall Street Journal, by Wm. A. Galston entitled "Where right and Left Agree on Inequality.  I read the news pages of WSJ, but I usually don't bother with the editorial section.   Whereas the news pages still contain useful information about the price and availability of strategic things like oil, corn, and copper,  the editorial section is generally a wellspring of pompous, ultra-right-wing nonsense---a sort of "Fox News for the materially blessed."   When you do find something worth reading there, it is usually a guest opinion by some famous person responding to some outrage which WSJ printed a few days before.   But every once and a while, a article appears there that actually makes sense.
      Whether you consider yourself, left-wing,  right-wing, or something else,  you should read this brief article, if you are concerned about inequality.  If you are not concerned about inequality, then you are an idiot, because besides being a moral outrage, inequality is bad for business.  The World Bank now says that the principle reason for the sluggish recovery is inequality.   Put simply, sales are slow because though there is a lot of cash in the economy,  the people who need to buy anything are not the people who have any of it.