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The Register ends the editorial cartoon. Sad news: The Des Moines Register is going through a new round of layoffs and staff cuts. One of the jobs going away is that of editorial cartoonist. It's a sad loss of a unique institution that made the Register special. The editorial cartoon -- especially the Register's unique front-page treatment, which dated at least back to Ding Darling -- is the kind of thing that made the Register more than just a conduit for generic news stories. We get it: Times are tough, especially in the newspaper business. But destroying a profoundly special institution and turning a once-great newspaper into just a ghost of itself is exactly the wrong thing to do in a downturn. (Listen to the discussion in our podcast)
Job losses. The Federal government says 1.9 million jobs have been lost throughout the US economy this year. That's left us with an overall unemployment rate of 6.7%. Ideally, unemployment would be limited to people voluntarily changing jobs -- but even in today's environment, in which much unemployment is due to large numbers of involuntary layoffs -- we still have a lower unemployment rate than Finland, Belgium, or France had last year -- before things turned downward.
Gas prices. Today's gas prices are the lowest we've seen around here since 2005 or even earlier. At the long-term trend we'd been on for over half a decade, today's prices would have been about $2.70 per gallon. They'll certainly go back up -- so it would be a really good idea to take the difference between that expected price ($2.70 a gallon) and today's real price (about $1.45 a gallon) and save it. If you're filling a 12-gallon tank, that's $15 per fill-up. Investing those $15 from every stop at the gas station could turn into some considerable profits over time -- espeically since there's plenty of reason to believe that today's stock market is undervalued based on historic averages.
Nuclear language. Why in the world did it take until 2008 for the US and China to come up with a way to make sure we can accurately translate each other's nuclear-weapons terms? China has had nuclear weapons since LBJ was President, and they have at least four nuclear reactors for electricity generation. Seems like nuclear science would be the kind of thing about which we might have wanted to prevent misunderstandings a long time ago.
Mumbai. The tragic terrorist attacks in Mumbai serve as a good reminder that some people remain bent on trying to send us all back to a time when tribalism ruled. But we know that commerce is a great way to ensure that lots of people who believe lots of different (and even conflicting) things learn to get along, even if that's not what their tribal instincts want to do. Someone else put it well: "The best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever".
Doing better even in rough times. A few things to do in a rough economy to make life better. Among other things, getting rid of personal debt would be a good idea -- especially considering that the Federal debt is $10.653 trillion as of Thursday. Your share: $34,835.60. That's per person.
Keywords in this show: Belgium • China • Darling, Ding • debt • Des Moines Register • economics • editorial cartoons • Federal debt • Finland • France • gas prices • institutions • investment • jobs • layoffs • Mumbai terrorist attacks (2008) • newspapers • nuclear reactors • nuclear weapons • savings • stocks • terrorism • translation • unemployment