Monthly Archives: January 2008

Relative Wealth

Posted by Deepish Thinker on January 20, 2008
New Zealand / No Comments

In contrast to the previous post, from time to time data emerges that illustrates how wealthy New Zealand is in ways that are not really captured by GDP. The fascinating book Microtrends contains the following, very encouraging, observation:

“And who gets the most sleep? New Zealanders and Australians, where 28 and 31 percent, respectively, get more than nine hours of sleep a night.”

By contrast, the average American apparently sleeps less than seven hours a night, while four out of ten Japanese sleep less than six hours a night. Inspired by this evidence of cultural superiority I think I will take a relaxing mid-morning nap.

Relative Poverty

Posted by Deepish Thinker on January 17, 2008
Economics, New Zealand / 1 Comment

One of the things that has always struck me about the US is what a spectacularly wealthy country it is. Or alternatively, how pathetically poor New Zealand is by comparison. Occasionally data crops up that depressingly reinforces this impression.

The cunning cartographers responsible for this map of the US have replaced the name of each state with the name of a country that generates similar GDP.

Embarrassingly, it turns out that New Zealand’s GDP roughly approximates that of Washington DC (population 580,000, area 177 square km).

Evidence of Pundit Credibility

Posted by Deepish Thinker on January 07, 2008
Uncategorized / 1 Comment

In a revolutionary move your faithful correspondent is going to actually offer some evidence of his competence as a pundit. While the value of his opinions on politics, culture, economics and business are still in doubt, his brilliance in the arena of American Football can no longer be denied. In the Peter King Challenge your favorite blogger proved better than Sports Illustrated correspondent Peter King at predicting the results of NFL games.

Peter King Challenge Scoreboard

Your inestimable reporter is so pleased with this unprecedented triumph that he has begun to refer to himself in the third person. The inevitable fall to earth is anticipated shortly.

If I were…..

Posted by Deepish Thinker on January 04, 2008
US Politics / No Comments

The Iowa caucuses are done and results have confirmed that the nomination races are just about as wide open as they have ever been. This being the case, it seems like now would be a good time to consider how some interested observers who will not be voting in the remaining primaries would like the races to turn out.

If I were a Republican party strategist my choices for the Democratic nominee would be:

(1) John Edwards
(2) Hillary Clinton
(3) Barack Obama

Edwards is running to the left of the Democratic party, which puts him well to the left of the average general election voter. He also made his millions suing doctors, which would be a gift for Republican speech writers in an election where health care is shaping up to be a big issue.

Hillary of course would carry all the accumulated baggage from the Clinton administration. Republican campaigners would relish the opportunity to dust off all those old files and nothing would fire up the Republican base more than the prospect of a second Clinton presidency.

By contrast, Obama has a short political record, which makes inexperience the only real angle Republicans can attack. In addition, his likable personality and the historic nature of his candidacy could potentially generate enormous crossover appeal.

If I were a Democratic party strategist my choices for the Republican nominee would be:

(1) Rudi Giuliani
(2) Fred Thompson
(3) Mike Huckabee
(4) Mitt Romney
(5) John McCain

Giuliani has an erratic and abrasive personality, is widely disliked by socially conservative Republicans, who might well stay home rather than vote for him, and has a cupboard chock full of skeletons. If there is any Republican candidate more or less guaranteed to melt down it’s Rudi Giuliani.

Thompson is a notoriously lazy actor with an unimpressive political track record. He has loser written all over him (of course there is good chance he won’t be in the race much longer).

Huckabee is beloved by evangelical christians, but doesn’t really impress anyone else. However there is some danger for Democrats in a Huckabee candidacy. He does have a very likable personality and espouses populist positions that could generate some crossover appeal.

Romney is another candidate strongly disliked by parts of the Republican base. However he has deserved reputation for competence, was a Republican governor in a Democratic state, which indicates considerable ability to appeal to independents and moderate Democrats, and he has a bucket load of cash.

McCain would be a real threat in the general election. He was a vocal critic of the Bush administration, so it is difficult to hold him responsible for it’s mistakes. Generally speaking McCain has genuine crossover appeal, a reputation for taking principled stands and a done everything resume. There is also the military record to contend with. In addition, while he might not be trusted by social conservatives, they don’t despise him in they way they do pro-choice Giuliani. The only real knock on him as a general election candidate is that he’s about 2,000 years old.