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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wall Street Journal

Have you ever read the Wall Street Journal? I don’t mean glanced at it or seen one. But have you really spent some time with even one issue, pouring through the articles and the editorials? I like to read the Wall Street Journal; I always have.

The problem is that I usually don’t have the time to read it. I can breeze through the local morning paper or the USA Today while shaving (with an electric shaver). But the Wall Street Journal will easily consume an hour or two of my time. Who can afford to offer that to a newspaper every day?

Perhaps you’re asking why anyone would want to spend such time in any newspaper. After all, they’re a dying breed. Circulation has dropped, revenues are falling and many are struggling for survival. The younger generation seems to see them as dinosaurs, ready for extinction. Trendy post-moderns will tell you they are quite happy to get their news on-line, even via their trusty Blackberry. And they’ll tell you that’s all the news they want to know. But I must argue that these folks are leaving a lot on the table.

There is a great deal of intelligence to be consumed (or acquired) in reading any daily newspaper. Unless one acquires that intelligence, they are left with intellect’s vacuum --- ignorance! So is this intelligence worth acquiring? What kind of things might I learn about in a regular edition of the Wall Street Journal, for example? Let’s look at today’s issue and a few of the highlights in it.

General Motors divested itself of its captive parts subsidiary, Delco, about ten years ago. Since then, Delco has gone through bankruptcy and continued to struggle. Now GM is in talks to take all or part of it back. Why would a nearly bankrupt auto maker want to acquire an already bankrupt parts company? Because GM qualifies for federal financial assistance --- and Delco doesn’t. If it is part of GM, Delco can be bailed out as well. (This seems to be a common theme in Detroit. Recently GMAC converted itself to a bank holding company --- so it could qualify for TARP bailout money.) As a U.S. taxpayer, shouldn’t you know about things like this?

Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the U.S. House was heralded as a change agent. When she took the position, she spoke in very Obama-like tones, promising “a new America.” Less than two years later, the lady has delivered little. She’s shown herself to be a bitter, divisive individual who will load bills she doesn’t like with pork so she can get what she wants if she has to pass them. (A good example was the funding bill last year for the Iraqi war. Pelosi condemned President Bush for the war and said she’d fight to force him to end it. Yet when he asked for more money, she packed billions of dollars in pork onto the request --- and passed it with flying colors.) Again, as a U.S. taxpayer, shouldn’t you know about this?

California is running out of water. We’ve been hearing this for decades. But more than rhetoric, California is now beset by one of the worst droughts in its history. Farming communities throughout California are being decimated by shortages of irrigation water. As a result, they’re idling farms because they can’t get the water. Thousands upon thousands of acres of crops headed for our dinner tables are being taken out of production. The likely effect (besides bankrupt farmers)? Rising food prices. As someone who eats food, shouldn’t you know about this?

OPEC countries have decided to post-pone production projects “until the price of oil recovers.” The price of oil has dropped in recent months. That is true enough. But it is still multiples of what it was just 20 years ago. Do the oil-producing nations really believe that $4.00 - $5.00 gasoline in America is a sustainable business model? If they do they are more ignorant than we could have imagined. Perhaps they can bring America to its knees with their over-priced oil. But Americans simply cannot afford to sustain those prices. They were prices that the market simply can’t bare. Yet OPEC is “waiting for them to recover.”

Canada has socialized medicine – the kind that Obama is championing for America. But many Canadians find it doesn’t work. Fatal brain tumors go undiagnosed because the waiting times to see the specialists take forever. Some people are disqualified for hip replacement, because at 57 years old or so, they can be deemed to be “too old to enjoy the benefits” of the surgery. Is this the health care solution that Americans are clamoring for? Why do we think that socialized anything is a panacea for social problems?

So you see, there are some pretty interesting things to be had in the Wall Street Journal, and I’ve just scratched the surface of what was in it yesterday. To be fair, I will still not be able to read it every day – because I don’t have the time. But when I get the opportunity, I intend to continue investing myself in a good long read to see what this old world is all about.

Pick up a Wall Street Journal or any daily newspaper today --- and resolve to give it a thorough reading. Get your money’s worth. Then watch that ignorance just sail out the window!

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