Rants and Observations

Jun. 23, 2020

 

Wars are caused by-

 

 

 

  1. Elites wanting to spread their power and build wealth. Imperialist behavior over the centuries has many examples.
  2. Clashes between cultures. Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Middle East are a good example.
  3. Motivations of greed or survival lead to seizing scarce resources, land, water and minerals.

Often all are combined. Propaganda from those who benefit herds the masses to war.

The now lost global economy had some benefits-

In times and places where there was free trade between cultures and nations the common interest in commerce led to greater tolerance and knowledge of different groups. Tourism also supported this.  Jews, Christians and Muslims interacted in trade centers along the silk-routes. They rubbed along due to their common desire to prosper.

All change-

Since the recent collapse of world trade and globalization, we see greater, nationalism, isolationism and intolerance.

Enclaves of refugees and economic migrants with radically different socialization and without integration into the host societies is leading to escalating internal conflicts. 

The US and China-

Both the US and China have nasty regimes in their home countries.

The US seeks to promote its world dominance through bases, war and sanctions.

The Chinese are more interested in trade rather than exporting their regime. The picture shows US military bases around China. The Chinese have none near the US.

These changes and US threats to China make wars and intolerance more likely.

Jun. 14, 2020

Haas' s Eagle - was twice the size of large modern eagles. It lived with humans In New Zealand where it was the largest predator until around 1400. The arrival of Humans led to its demise.

An excellent YouTube account.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRED7pWHbPQ&fbclid=IwAR3kvrmR_0CD8yRdW-CGplP8BusK9EuCTm_e9vvbYvqVdvkTyRW6MDw66vM

Jun. 14, 2020
 
FB was driving me crazy.
You see a post against racism and click 'like', Maybe you write a response.
 
 
 
An acquaintance sends a pic of their cute kid.
You 'Like' out of courtesy.
Thousands more pics follow.
 
Some idiot is telling people now is a great time to move your money to Costa Rica, at a time the country speeds towards bankruptcy in the midst of a pandemic.
You disagree.
 
 
You see a post about saving the planet.
Great idea! How?
 
 
One post purports to be about history you are interested in. A person you don’t know comments on politics and you agree or disagree. Hundreds of others comment on that.
 
Another person sends you an interesting post about a country you have been to.
 
Before you know it, you are inundated by hundreds of posts on the same themes. Many with dozens of opinions or ideas you agree or disagree with. Some are abusive.
 
You get tired of same ole, same ole, so you just zip past them.
 
The numbers grow and grow. Eventually, skipping them takes too much time.
 
Finally, you click on the three black dots on the top right of each post.
 
 
Without being asked, you are following all these sites/people.
 
 
Phew what a relief, when you just unfollow them all.
May. 15, 2020
WILL TOURISM REBOUND?
It will take time.
 
Those countries heavily reliant on tourism, like Costa Rica, are desperate to promote the return of flights, especially from richer countries like the US, Canada and those in Europe.
We have all seen: the closed borders, the lines of grounded planes, deserted airports, empty resorts and beaches.
Tourism is economically vital In many countries. It is heavily concentrated around popular destinations. Some towns are dying without tourists.
Tourist flights feed into so many areas of the economy that exact data is difficult to measure. Government statistics are a starting point for those interested. 
Airports, hotels, car hire, hospitality outlets, gas stations, national parks, and a wide variety of other tourist related businesses are major employers and foreign currency earners. What economists call ‘the multiplier effect’, i.e. the way those taking tourist dollars spend them in the rest of the economy, makes this industry, even more crucial. The health of tourism also helps drive the real-estate industry and property values.
Distressed workers in tourism are interviewed nightly on the TV news.
Members of the Costa Rican government and legislature are red hot promoters of the industry. This could be due to family and funding connections to tourism and real estate. Less cynically the importance of votes from suffering families may interest them.
The only naysayers seem to be eco-warriors, happy about the return of wildlife and reduced pollution. I fall into that camp.
Eco tourism, may be environmentally friendlier, but seems unlikely to fill the vast void created by the pandemic. Much of the current tourist infrastructure is unsuitable for this niche.
So, why is a rapid bounce back for airlines unlikely?
There are two main factors,
-The sick state of Airlines.
-A tardy return of passenger volumes
 
The Sick State of the Airlines- There is an old joke about how to get a billion dollars. You invest $2 billion in an airline. Around the world, today’s endless rows of parked aircraft underline the point.
The industry grew to a million people in the air at any one time, from the days of slower but luxury travel for the very rich. Despite this, bankruptcies, desperation driven mergers and cost cutting have plagued the business, especially in the US and Europe.
Airlines rarely own, planes ground facilities and other assets. They lease them. High financial leverage means they have high interest charges and are especially at risk of shocks. They now face the biggest ever.
Unfortunately, inefficient operators are preserved to the detriment of the efficient. In the US, chapter 11 can wipe out the debt of an airline. It also allows airlines to override unions and force through radical cost cutting. Competing with airlines with lower costs makes it harder for others. This drives the next round of Chapter 11 filings.
On a global basis, National Flag carriers are subsidized or rescued as a matter of prestige and as important employers. This is currently happening in France, Italy and Germany to name just a few. There may well be trade disputes about subsidies to foreign competitors, especially from the US. The plane makers and airlines fund powerful political interests around the world. Arab oil-states seem obsessed with the status symbol of owning luxury airlines.
Getting mothballed assets back into service and re-configuring cabin seating for greater virus protection may take months and will raise both capital and operating costs.
As long as there is a risk of a second wave of Covid 19, borders will remain controlled and few passenger planes can fly. No one knows how long that will last.
 
A Tardy Return of Passenger Volumes- After a period when flights are restricted, there is always a short term surge of pent up demand. I traveled on the first flight to Milan from New York after 9/11. It was full. Thereafter, my other flights were nearly empty for months.
Several issues make lower volumes likely, in addition to remaining restrictions on flights. Recession impoverished consumers may need to rebuild their finances, before returning to foreign vacations. Long, slow queues, for flights and at immigration, plus quarantine issues will deter many travelers. New health insurance exclusions for viral infections are another problem.
Many of those at risk, especially the affluent elderly, may wait and see, whether it is safe to fly again. Uncertainty about potential cancellation and airline bankruptcies will also be a factor.
 
In conclusion, a rapid return to mass tourism is doubtful. It may take years rather than months, despite the best efforts of those lobbying for a revival.
Maybe more flights with La Negrita de Los Angeles, a supposedly miraculous Catholic Icon, as a passenger will be help.
May. 10, 2020

 Should we shout ‘Hooray!’ or be sad?

Some industries are suffering worse than others due to the lock down. Advertising is hard hit. Most businesses cut their marketing and advertising budgets, when the cost cutters take over from the growth junkies. Tourism, airlines, live entertainment, real estate and their supply industries are well publicized examples of those hard hit by the pandemic and panic. For them the question is whether the recently impoverished masses will want, or be able to afford, a return to past excesses. And how long that might take.
 
Pre pandemic, the newspaper industry was in steady decline. Press circulation in all major economies was falling, due to the availability of faster, and often free, on-line news. Much advertising migrated to the more fragmented on-line media, slashing an important revenue stream for the papers. The pandemic has dramatically accelerated this trend. Papers are reporting between 40% and 80% recent falls in advertising revenue. Their other major income stream was from sales at kiosks and other outlets. That has collapsed. Sales outlets are in lock down. There are fewer commuters. Many, who once enjoyed reading the news on the train or bus, are either working from home or unemployed. The home office has turbo-charged the computer skills of many former readers, speeding the domination of online sources.
 
So, we can feel sorry for the printers, news stand staff and professional journalists, in an already declining industry. They join the long list of those displaced by change, from coal miners to small farmers. They will have to adapt, reskill or face hardship. The virus has caused widespread hardship, especially for those at the bottom.
 
On the other hand, who owns the news industry? Ownership is highly concentrated in the hands of very wealthy and often ruthless media moguls, keen to manipulate public opinion. Sadly, they also control the on-line media. Maybe we will be no better off.
Trust in the veracity of newspapers is low in many countries. The plethora of competing on-line media increases opportunities for fake news and manipulation. It also allows for faster access to alternative views and information.
 
Let the reader beware!