Monthly Archives: May 2009

What’s Your Tax Burden?

Nice interactive flash map on forbes.com based on estimated costs per resident of paying out-of-state personal taxes  and census bureau information on total in-state collections. NY and CA have always been terrible. But the South is getting worse than the national average slowly.

WordPress Is Better Than Typepad

Better UI. Better stats dashboard. Simply easier to use and more fun.

Gamar Jobat

I’ll say it again, Gamar Jobat. See them at the New Victory Theater before they go back to Japan. That is, if you like mime.

Cars versus Oil

When I first read the news today about the Obama administration's grand pact with the states and the auto industry over new mileage standards, I thought it looked like yet another blow to the auto industry. Here were the car companies having to make more fuel-efficient engines and jack up the vehicle's sticker price in exchange for one nationwide standard to shoot for. To meet the federal government's new standard, car companies say they will have to add $700 more to each vehicle, on top of the $600 already destined to be added to meet Bush era regs passed in 2007. It will probably be more like $1000-$4,000 more per car. Read your Jerry Flint.

The Obama administration could achieve a similar effect by hiking the gas tax. It's regressive, but people would gravitate to smaller cars. But they're not proposing that. Obama & Co. is making the car companies solve the problem. The oil industry escapes taxation and watches as the auto industry gets stuck with the bad PR of having to
scramble to greener pastures by government fiat. 
You'll blame the car companies
for the price you pay the keep the planet green, not the oil companies.

But what if Oil has the most to lose here. This is where things get interesting. Nowhere at the White House announcement were the oilmen. Here are Obama's words: "As a result of this agreement," Obama said, "we will save 1.8 billion
barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five
years."

No love for petroleum, and no bailout either. Every dollar the car companies spend on cleaner engines, electric cars and smaller cars is going to get guaranteed and underwritten by Washington. The taxpayer is going to pay for the auto industry's evolution into an electron-fueled future. The oil industry is going to get nothing from DC, and will be the long term loser. Except that there is no long-term in politics. Everything is divisible by 4.

And the money the auto industry is spending on the cleaner engines they will pass on to you. And all this could be moot by the time we get a new Administration in several years.

Kindle is after the textbooks

I was looking around for comparative economics between bookselling in stores and  on the Kindle. No luck, as I plan to write something up for Forbes on the unveiling in NY tomorrow morning. But ran across this post at ZDNet. Author Larry Dignan straw-mans his way into a lead about how the Kindle is not the savior of newspapers as one might think. The real meaning of the new, rumored widescreen Kindle is the demise of the textbook. College textbooks are expensive and heavy. The Kindle, or any viable digital reader, takes care of both fronts. Here is the graphic that shows how a $1 of textbook revenue is chopped up. I see half of that no longer being necessary.

Textbooks