Alexonomic's Outlook for 2013: South America

Yes, the Brazilians are still the centerpiece of South American economic growth, yet there are competitors arising. While Venezuala faces a period of uncertainty with the potential replacement of Hugo Chavez, Argentina offers a renewed challenge to the Falklands under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Alexonomic's Outlook for 2013: Europe

Europe reminds many historians of conditions during the 1930s. Economically depressed countries are embracing extremist political parties with racial divide, riots, and anger as the symptoms. Currently, most of the population is aware of the European debt crisis. Although a serious as the economic crisis is, the side effects of lower economic output can be more serious.

Americans and their Guns

To stray from the Predictions of 2013 series, I did an infographic of the gun control debate raging in the US, along with some statistics. The objectives of Obama gun control rules come plainly from the White House publication on the topic. As one can see, the proposed regulations are quite practical.

Alexonomics' Outlook for 2013: Africa

Egypt has often been the focus of news in Africa as of late. The removal of Mubarak and election of Mohammed Morsi has proven to be an interesting turn of events, but the excitement is far from over. Morsi symbolically removed ties from the Muslim Brotherhood, but that move hardly removes the influence the party has on the President.

A guide to Environmental Economics

Often, articles will be conclusions with a few supporting facts that will often sway the reader. I find this problematic for two reasons. First, the reader does not have the chance to fully understand the topic because no background is given. Secondly, the reader doesn't really have an opportunity to disagree with the writer's conclusion if the reader has little to no knowledge of the topic.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Walking the Walk with Walker

Wisconsin is set to become the nation's 25th so-called "right-to-work" state. Republicans in the state legislature are fast-tracking a bill to Gov. Scott Walker, who is a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
The state Senate passed a right-to-work bill late Wednesday, and the State Assembly could pass it next week.
The measure aims to weaken private sector unions by letting workers opt out of mandatory dues. Wisconsin Republicans appear to be following an anti-union playbook that's been circling the Midwest.
Four years ago this month, the biggest political story was Walker's Act 10, the law ending collective bargaining for public sector unions. Thousands of protestors swarmed the Wisconsin Capitol building for days, demanding lawmakers reject Walker's "Budget Repair Bill."
But state lawmakers did no such thing, and while Walker insists the policy has helped the state, he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last fall that a second battle with big labor would be a distraction.
"So particularly, on that particular issue, and any other substantive changes to Act 10, I just think that opens up a whole other can of worms out there," he told the newspaper.
"This old, old, old piece of unfinished business on the part of the American conservatism has come back," says Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara.But that can is now wide open. Walker, who's been inching into the national spotlight as a presidential hopeful, says he will sign a right-to-work bill. Opponents say his goal is to erode unions' ability to fund Democratic candidates and causes. But the governor argues that a right-to-work law makes Wisconsin more competitive with Indiana and Michigan, neighboring states that adopted right-to-work laws in 2012.
He says the right-to-work movement started in the 1940s in the anti-union South and trickled West. Lichtenstein says in Midwestern states that have recently targeted organized labor, private sector unions have lost significant members and clout. Republicans who control statehouses and governor's mansions have also made convincing arguments about union members getting more than their fair share.
"And so these Republican governors have been able to push this through in a number of states in the, what had been, the traditional heartland of American unionism," Lichtenstein says.
So far, recent laws have passed only in states with Republicans in control. In fact, even some language in the new state laws is nearly identical to a model right-to-work bill drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which seeks to advance a conservative agenda.
Patrick Semmens, a spokesman for the National Right to Work Committee, says this is about fairness.
"We think that every worker should be able to join a union and pay dues to a union, but no one should be forced, so on those merits alone, we think it's worth passing right-to-work," Semmens says.
But at a right-to-work protest this week in Milwaukee, retired steelworker Greg Gorecki says he can't understand why any working person would support a law weakening unions.
"Unions kind of set the whole tone for wages throughout the whole economy," he says. "We set the wages for the middle class. So if you take away power from the unions, it's only going to drop the wages for everybody."
And researchers like Gordon Lafer at the University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center, say Gorecki's right. At a public hearing on the Wisconsin bill this week, Lafer cited a study by the chief economist at the Labor Department.
"What the most rigorous research shows is that all other things being equal, the impact of adopting a right-to-work law in 2015 is to lower wages by about 3 percent for both union and non-union workers across the state," he says, "and to lower the chance of getting health insurance or pensions."
But those who support right-to-work present different data. Semmens says the policies lead to higher growth in private sector employment and income.
"And, you know, certainly in the Midwest, they're looking for good jobs and right-to-work has a good track record for that," he says.
But many academics dispute those claims, which come from groups that have a dog in the fight.
Still, warnings about spiraling wages have not seemed to gain much traction as the anti-union movement marches on. Right-to-work bills are now in play in a number of other states, including two states with Democratic governors, West Virginia and Missouri.

al Posted on NPR

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Great Religious Recession

Every great civilization that the world has seen has had a main religion of some kind or another. Zeus and his wife Hera ruled Mt. Olympus along with their fellow gods according to the Greeks and Romans. The Egyptians had Anubis, Isis and many more choices to worship while the head of the Babylonian gods was Marduk. Arabic and Ottoman empires had Allah and Muhammad while the Chinese' main religions taught moderation and balance in life with Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.  Polytheism continued in India with Hinduism, one of the world's oldest religions, while the rise of the Western nations brought with it the rise of both Protestantism and Catholicism, the two main sects of Christianity.

Often one's belief system is usually a product of the location and country of their birth, the parental belief, and communal traditions. Belief in something that can't be seen or necessarily communicated with is a powerful tool for the elite of society. For example, the Greek priests would use complex machinery including early versions of hydraulics and magnetism to ensure the people would constantly be amazed at the so called god's power and continue to give offerings. The Catholic church funded their extravagant church building through the selling of indulgences, which basically were certificates that would lessen your time in purgatory.

Pretty much buying your way into heaven.

Yes, a god that doesn't reveal himself to anyone except those who need either financial assistance or organizing a war such as the Crusades, George Bush Jr telling the world Iraq was part of the axis of evil, and the different Islamic terrorist groups, is quite useful. ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and the various other Jihadist groups all use religion for their own gain.
How will religious leaders buy their BMW's with less
people giving their money to them?
However, for the first time in history the grip on humanity that religion has had since the dawn of civilization is receding. Just over 50 percent of the world associates themselves with Christianity or Islam, while 13% of the world declares themselves godless. More interesting is the rapid rise of disassociation, or not having any affiliation to any religion. In 2012 it was reported that 20% of Americans do not have any religious affiliation, rising from 15% in 2007. Growth of the non religious is spearheaded by the millennials, who are abandoning the religious beliefs their parents have taught them.

This has huge implications for society in terms of policy, politics, and economics. However, the larger question is more complicated. Why is this happening?

Education is the largest driver. With the rise of the internet and technology, information has never been easier to access. In addition to this, more people than ever are attending post secondary institutions. This is a serious problem for the current religious institutions, which have abandoned education, learning, science, history, technology, in favor of emotionalism, experience, charisma, and irrationality. The mathematical advancements of Islam such as the discovery of calculus or the discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton who was a fervent Christian are long forgotten.

Evidence behind the lack of education and logic among the religious is everywhere. Pakistan has disowned their first Nobel Prize Laureate Abdus Salam because of his work on the Higgs-Boson, because it was nicknamed the God Particle. Saudi Arabia believes women are so lost without a male that women literally cannot go anywhere without them. The ridiculousness does not end in the Islamic world, but continues with Christianity. Mark Driscoll, founder of a megachurch that has branched out across five states, has stated women are not more than "penis homes" for men.  One women from the US retreated from Christian inspired misogyny to a women's abuse shelter.  And of course, there are the well documented horrors of religion such as the current Islamic State organizing rape and murder in the name of Allah, while countless Catholic priests have been charged with pedophilia.
Pastor Joel Osteen is seen April 14, 2013, during a visit to Faith Church's Sunset Hills campus dedication service in this public photo shared on Facebook.
Whatever makes you happy and I get
your money.

With more information available than ever before, more and more people are realizing the ridiculousness of religion. One radical Muslim found a website highlighting the contradictions in the Quran and renounced the religion working for the CIA to fight Islamic inspired terror. Sometimes, religious leaders are so uneducated that they don't even know their own curriculum. Joel Osteen, a multimillionaire pastor who has a net worth of over $56 million and lives in a $10 million mansion,  released a Facebook post that showed little knowledge of the Bible, stating Moses was alive during different events in the Bible when he clearly was not. Joel Osteen does not have a degree and has never studied at a secular University. He attended  but never finished Oral Roberts University, an institution created by another millionaire fraudulent pastor who even told his followers that God would end his life should he not raise $8 million.

An education is not needed to realized that everything from blowing yourself up in the name of a god to going to a mega church and giving money to a man is not reasonable. It's actually quite insane. However, that is okay for these religious leaders. They do not want educated people in their organization, quite the opposite. One study shows that the poorer you are, the more attracted to religion you are, while 63 studies show that the more religious you are chances are the less intelligent you are.  According to Jordan Silberman, a graduate student of neuroeconomics, "Intelligence may also lead to greater self-control ability, self-esteem, perceived control over life events, and supportive relationships, obviating some of the benefits that religion sometimes provides," 
Seems the Prosperity gospel isn't working that well. 

James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, stated the "purpose of  separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries" while Napoleon was quoted that religion was very useful for the control of the masses. There is much truth from this. Religion today does not enrich it extorts, does not provide happiness, but despair that one can never be classified as a good person. Religion divides as much as it conquers over beliefs that are antiquated as they are inconsistent. 

Religion is declining drastically, and has entered recession. As shown by the Netherlands, it is possible that anyone religious to become a minority by 2038.  For religion to make a comeback, they need to find leaders who are educated and contribute to society once again as they have in the past. Two Muslim women created the world's first University, and now according to some streams of Islam women are not even worthy of education. Christianity created the world's leading Universities of Oxford, Harvard, and Yale, and now creates organizations such as Liberty University that bans dancing and restricts opposite sex fraternization without being chaperoned

If religious institutions are to leave the recession that has led to Atheism becoming so popular, they must completely change their nonsensical, laughable leadership with people who are knowledgeable as religious leaders once were. 

Failing to do so would simply prove religion to fit within the description of Edgar Allan Poe, "evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry". 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Reflections on Young Fatherhood: Lucky Me

Editor's Note: This is a guest post written by Matt Henry, a comedian. These views do not necessarily reflect this publication, and are the views of the writer. To reach Matt Henry, email him at Lucky Me.
So I flew to close to the sun, and had my son when I was 19 going on 20. To be honest I was more afraid to tell my mom that I was going to be be a parent then actually becoming one. There was never a point in time where I thought about bailing. At the time I was “in love” with the girl I was having this child with and more importantly me having a son was a chance to get my shot.
A shot that I never had. 
I have my step dad who I consider my dad, but I never met my actual dad until I was like 19. So I felt so fortunate to be having a son because now I could do all the things with him I never did with my dad - and I do. 
The fact that I was young never phased me, I always liked the idea of having kids young. There are parts of it that are really sweet. Because our age gap isn't huge, I feel I’ll always be able to relate to him on things and learn as he learns, continue to grow as he begins to grow. I feel when the generational gap is to wide it may be difficult to relate on things from the Dad to son, because 15 and 55 I can only assume your into different things. 
The only thing that I envy older dads for I think is the fact that they are established and have money. I know you’re not supposed spoil your kids, but it’s something I take pride in. Respect is always there, however if I can get him something extra for my little guy, I will. 
I got lucky with a boy I know that. I would have welcomed a daughter.However, then I would have had to join the gym. With a son I feel like I have a tag team partner for life. And with all great Tag Teams there is leader. Then the leader gets old and the apprentice has a fantastic solo career. 
I'm addicted to attempting to set a fantastic launching point for my son. It’s because of him that I crave to be the best version of myself, so that he can use my shoulders if need be to make himself even better.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Answering the Riddle of Relationships

Editors Note: This blog is usually devoted to political issues, financial issues, world events or closely related topics. The following is off topic from the blog's content, and does not reflect the opinions of Alexonomics.

Most commonly, humans talk about events, issues, politics, sports, ideas or interesting facts. One topic has been left from that list, and that is relationships. Probably the most intense subject of conversation is the story behind the lives of others. Gossip, tall tales, airing the dirty laundry, defamation, slanderous babble often peak the interest of many. Participation in this conduct is widely spread, even by those who you would think not too interested. It's this reason why reality shows that document the supposed inside lives of people who society feels are interesting continue to be popular.

Cosmopolitan may give bad relationship advice to
keep their audience coming back. Decent business model.
These stories always are about an association, friendship, relationship - some sort of affiliation. Obviously, everyone has an opinion on how to engage in what used to be called courtship. Fortunes have been made banking on humanity's favourite subject. Cosmopolitan regularly gives their mostly female readers advice on relationships stating that to have a great relationship you should not "be BFF's" with one's partner, and to "grow your tolerance" of one's partner's downfalls. Ask Men tells their mostly male audience that friends and family, or persistent suitors are the biggest relationship killers.

Relationship advice does not only come from conversations or publications, but is also widely discussed on internet forums such as the the Reddit Relationship Advice subreddit to simple Yahoo questions from frustrated lovers. Interestingly enough, so called pick up artists teach males on how to impress and seduce their female victims.

It seems among all this discussion, debate, advice, analysis, venting, and deliberation, that no one actually has an actual answer for how to conduct a relationship.

To begin looking at an answer, science offers a glimpse. Recently a study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences found men's brains have a greater neural connection from the back of the brain to the front. This allows men to focus better, and hypothetically superior at learning a single ask and performing a task. According to the National Post, this allows men to navigate directions better than a female. In opposition, a female brain has more connectivity between the left and right hemisphere, allowing women to have better memories, and are supposedly more collaborative.

Basically, the study reveals females are more analytical while men are quicker to act on their perceptions. This means men could be more prone to make more rash decisions while women take their time to make an assertion by gathering evidence. Either way, the study reveals that the different genders have different methodologies of conducting themselves. Something that has been known by most humans since the beginning of time.

However, even if the difference between the genders brains could pose a serious problem to interconnection; the sorcery of a little thing called love begins the mutations of both genders. Science can tell us biologically why humans have allurement toward each other. If one looks towards Charles Darwin, evolutionary instincts toward procreation play a large part in attraction.

These instincts create quite the change, as the brain of someone supposedly in love looks a lot like a person who is on cocaine.

Maybe Rob Ford is just in love.

Cocaine lowers the threshold of pleasures centres in the brain, which is similar to one who is smitten by some special somebody. Basically, someone who has certain feelings toward another finds joy in even the smallest events during the day and begin to view a more romanticized world. Pain centres fire less, so one becomes less agitated. The chemicals that can be released by simply even looking at someone who holds a special place in one's heart (or more accurately - brain) are dopamine and Norepinephrine giving motivation to be with the loved one. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, is released during sexual acts or even more romanticized actions such as holding hands or looking into another's eyes. It is suggested that the continual release of oxytocin from these activities strengthens the neural bond between a couple, which means couples that stray from physical activities together may become less intimate. Additionally, couples in love have lower levels of serotonin, which means messages between one part of the brain and another may be slower. Unfortunately, this could mean neural circuits associated with the way people assess others may be suppressed.

Scientifically, love has been broken down to its biological realisms. The preceding paragraph could explain many different situations. Someone in an abusive relationship may not leave their partner because of lower levels of serotonin reducing their discernment or may be simply craving the chemicals released when their loved one is near. A relationship that slowly fades may be the result of less physicality and thus lower chemical releases which slowly erodes the neural connection between a couple. Or, someone who is spending more time with their significant other and ignoring their traditional social venues is simply creating a stronger neural bond and satisfying their addiction for more love hormones. 

Additionally, science can explain the continual relationship advice conversations that appear anywhere from on the train to work to social media venues. People are less sure of themselves because they realize their behaviour is less than normal. As a result, advice is sought. Over analysis, hair-brained theories, breakdowns of the smallest action, and intense scrutiny are often the result of this. However, it is important to receive the opinions of others in a relationship situation, as one may be blind to the faults of their affection while others not under the love spell will be able to see clearly.

Until geneticists discover the perfect algorithm for perfect couples, humans have simple trial and error to continue their quest of finding the one they will procreate with. No advice is perfect, and often over thinking can completely reduce one's mental capabilities to a state of turmoil. For once, this blog offers no conclusions or answers to have the perfect relationship as the sample size is too large and different to assess and find the perfect relationship recipe. Simply ask one question to oneself to determine whether you should continue a courtship.

Am I happier than I was when single?

Answering that question may be simple, but acting on it will be tougher.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Miss America: Solving the Issue of Ignorance


Hate, ridicule, antagonism, spite, malevolence, resentment.

All these words are relatively nasty little combinations of letters that have been used quite recently to describe the negative reaction of some Americans to the appointment of the new Miss America. It brings to mind the late Christopher Hitchens asking “What is it you most dislike?” and proceeding to answer his own question with “Stupidity, especially in its nastiest forms of racism and superstition”.  
The new Miss America - born and raised American and aspiring to be a doctor.
Hitchens should have followed up.

Yes, stupidity can be quite frustrating.  Comments of terrorism, association to radical Islam, and the geographic faux pas placing India as an Arabic country were all made because the new Miss America has a higher concentration of melanin than some would prefer. Yes, stupidity can accurately describe some of the comments made over social mediums. The quote from Hitchens implies we should hate this kind of stupidity. Dislike it. Fight fire with fire and initiate public shaming to those who make these statements.

However, hate usually doesn’t work.

Public shaming of individuals does little. It brings unwarranted publicity creating unnecessary controversy and anger. Hate does little to address the actual problem that is being displayed from these comments. These ignorant comments are the result, not the cause. To counter this problem, the cause must be addressed.

Aristotle stated that “all human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion and desire”. If Aristotle is correct, the cause of these actions lie within one of these seven words. It is arguable that it is nature. Many of the comments most likely came from individuals who have not been exposed to new surroundings, a different environment, and thus different persons.  Understanding begins with experiencing, and ignorance is the offspring of unfamiliarity.

So instead of initiating a hateful response of ridicule to those who stated such ridiculous comments, a proper response would be to broaden the minds of those of those who cannot understand how one who has a darker pigment can be American. Education of the matter is not enough. Perspicacity can only be accomplished through collaboration and interaction, not through chortling at others mistaken assertions.

The new Miss America has already stated that she will answer the hostility by rising above it. Rather, she may be more successful in engaging those who are ignorant. Challenge those who have not met those who have a different skin colour. Focus on the commonalities that make not just all those born in America, American - but all those born as a human a part of mankind.

As a famous writer once said, “our true nationality is mankind”. 

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Result of Every Nation Abolishing their Debt

Some readers have asked what would occur should every single government in the world just abolish, or default, on their debts. Although the answer may be simple to those who understand the global economy, for most it is quite a real question. If every single country in the world just decided to default on their financial obligations, the following would most likely briefly describe the general result. 
What if this was all eliminated? 

  • First realize that there are different governmental levels. Federal, State (Provincial) or Municipal (city). Each level has debt and obligations in the form of bonds. We’ll assume for the sake of the scenario that each level of government decides to default on their obligations completely wiping out their deficits and budget shortfalls.
  • This would wipe out the bondholders. Who are they exactly? Well institutional banks, international organizations such as the IMF or World Bank, could be another layer of government loaning to another (Federal to State/City does happen), personal investors, or even charities in the form of trying to keep a fund alive.
  • Why do you care? Well, banks invest the savings of their customers. This would completely wipe out the savings of most of the population, and destroy bank’s ability to issue credit. Why is credit needed? For almost everything from beginning a business, to buying a new car on payments, to buying a house with mortgages, you get the point. Bank’s would have a lot less liquidity and would essentially stop loaning.
  • International organizations who have now no fire power to help around the world with problems such as natural disaster to supplying rebels with the ammunition to overthrow their tyrannies would cease to exist. Why? They simply would have no money.
  • Personal Investors and people who invested in the bank or government bonds would see their entire life savings wiped out in most cases. This would flood the job market with anyone who was retired as they would be forced to work again.
  • The job market would be non existent as there would be no liquidity. Credit is used on a daily basis by millions of corporations around the globe to conduct daily business, like manufacturing plants securing parts in to continue production. Without credit this fiat currency based economy does not run. The money multiplier effect would cease to exist. The bank runs that would occur would destroy all banks. 
  • Governments may be debt free, but no one in their right mind would lend them money again. This would cut funding for many programs from Health Care, Welfare, to basic stuff such as police and fire fighter services.
  • With cutting to all these services as the government could not raise money from issuing bonds, the job market destroyed, bank runs causing the destruction of financial institutions, little taxation revenue, chaos would ensue.

    In simple terms, the above would be the answer to the question. The chain reaction should all governments default on their debt would be catastrophic, and most likely reset global economic activity a decade.