Sunday, June 3, 2007

I look at the newspaper . . .

I am an inveterate clip filer. I can't help it. I have newspaper clippings that go back 35 years. There is something about a well written news story, be it just the 5 W's written like it used to be, or today's more "I" oriented perspective. I savor the information that is brought to my eye by my own choice. I usually read a paper from front to back, keeping track of the stories and reading them as I go. It's my version of multi-tasking. What happens though is that over time I end up with a stack of newspaper sections, and sometime magazines, that I have read and bookmarked in my mind but haven't clipped yet.

Yes, I am back and now that I have had some time to think about it Sunday seems to be a good day to sum things up. So here are some more News Clips: Recently, on both the SimpleDollar and GetRichSlowly the discussion has turned to the question of ethical investing. In the LA Times, Tim Rutten tackled this question head on as he reviewed the ongoing status of the Rupert Murdoch acquisition attempt on the Wall Street Journal by purchasing the Dow Jones Co. According to Rutten, any analysis of Murdoch's financial dealings reveals a total disregard for morality and ethics in the name of business success. Fox television, the New York Post, his manipulations of the Chinese investment market, are all examples of making money coming first, cheapening the product coming second, and lowering the moral expectations of the public coming as the natural result. As Rutten points out, "Thus the formerly deviant join the mainstream and the whole social current becomes that much more abrasive and polluted." It strikes me that as true as this may be, just like the recent internet radio rulings by the FCC, this is something which is way outside of my control. I can think it's wrong but so much is wrong in the world of Wall Street that I am stuck with the choice of dropping out or taking advantage. Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly what the Rupert Murdoch's of this world want.

Meanwhile, in the virtual world of Entropia Universe, something else seems to be cooking. I have come to really look forward to the cyber research being done by David Sarno. This article takes a look at a game world that could be a personal finance dream for the computer oriented game players among us. Imagine a virtual world where you can earn real money. Wait, you don't have to imagine it. One player featured in this article earns $20,000 a month from virtual real estate holdings, and several other in the article are real time millionaires as a result of their participation. What I really like is the feature that makes the economy of Entropia run on the scarcity principle. The manufacturer "MindArk employs a team of balancing managers to make sure the game's economy stays viable, fair, and entertaining." It an idea that fascinates me. "Why couldn't the real world economy work the same way?", is what I think but what I know is that less is more only works for the few and far between.

Here's an interesting piece of info: On May 8th the LA Times reported that the consumer debt (non-mortgage credit) is rising at an annual rate of 6.7%. On May 16th, they reported that consumer prices rose .4% in April and .6% in March, and in LA prices are up 3.6% from a year ago. The thing is that the fed keeps saying that the news is good because core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, is moderate at .2%. Is this more government obfuscation or what? Inflation is here but just like during the housing boom when the economy was being supported by home owner's equity, it's being obscured by increased credit card use. Whoopee!

This is the last one for today. It's from April 1st's LA Times business section. Here's the heading, The Game of Life stirs concern when it replaces play money with plastic. "To the horror of some the game's biggest fans, the partnership (San Francisco based Visa) is getting rid of cash and replacing it was a branded Visa card." So the march to go paperless goes on. The thing is that there is some credibilty to taking this approach with a version of the game because real life is going this way too. But in real life adults have to learn to really be leary of credit card spending, let's hope that's what happens here.

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