Dean Clough

May 20, 2024

Portico Darwin: The Newer Normal



2 Minute Read

Happy Monday, and if you had even half as much fun as I did over the weekend, you're probably ready for some reality.  

So today I am focusing on the world in which we live - not one that isn't coming back.

The High Interest Rates Aren't High

This nutty expectation of ultra-low interest rates must end.  Interest rates right now are completely in line with historical norms. 

But rates near zero are abnormal, artificially distort markets, and worsen wealth inequality.

Or:  There's no such thing as a free lunch.  Or free money.

Restaurant Meals are More Expensive, and That's Fine

I believe a person working a 40-hour workweek should be able to live above the poverty line.  For that to happen, wages must increase, and they have, as the inflation-adjusted graph above shows. 

Couple that with places (like California) banning so-called junk fees and requiring the price shown to be the price paid, and many long for a McDonald's that is bad for you and cheap, vs. just bad for you.

But:  If a restaurant can't 1) pay staff a living wage, 2) price items such that they sell, and 3) turn a profit, perhaps it shouldn't exist? 

Sorry, But Electric Cars Aren't Going Away

I can't help at chuckle at the last-ditch effort by the PR departments of Big Oil to undermine the adoption of electric cars.  Every bad charging experience for somebody becomes yet another news headline of how the whole thing is failing.


Is the rate of adoption slowing?  Perhaps, but the situation is more complicated, and remains overwhelmingly positive, at least if you care about not melting the Earth.   

If you'd like to know what's really happening, you will enjoy this recent 5-minute video:

From MotorWeek and AutoWorld:  The Facts about EV Sales

And don't forget:  a plug-in hybrid vehicle can work for everyone, even those horrified by the premise of doing something helpful in terms of the environment dealing with charging stations.

It's What the Money's For

I am baffled by those who think they can conduct active protests while at the office or factory.  Reminder:  that's why they call it work

And remember the money?  You know, your salary?  That gives your employer the privilege of directing your activities as they see fit while you work.   

On your own time, you can speak out against anything you wish, but it sucks to be a grown-up:  If you don't like your employer's policies, get a job elsewhere.

Debt Matters Again, or, Can We Resurrect Ross Perot?

I'll wrap with one of the worst examples of the vacuum of leadership we have in Washington.  It is how the national debt no longer matters - to either party.  Democrats have found talking about raising taxes is not popular, and Republicans have learned the same when it comes to cutting entitlements.   

It doesn't take a genius to guess the outcome, ever-higher interest rates, and less money to do things that matter.  I find the percentage of the budget that will go only to paying interest on the debt as particularly frightening.

Here's an excellent article from The Economist on what could easily become a crisis for our country if we let it.

Perhaps now is the time to recall an old saw in finance, regarding bankruptcy, before it's too late:

How did it happen?

Slowly, and then all at once.

Have a great week.


What, a honeymoon in Switzerland isn't enough for the emerging jetsetter Nicki Vale?

Booking a trip to these yurts ASAP! 

The famed artist Charles Clough liked my grand plan for Albany, however seems to miss the Yoko songs I omitted from Double Fantasy.  

Nice work on urban planning & listening to Double Fantasy for the first time ever.

In my never-ending quest for attention, I lightly edited that post, and put it on the not-evil social media site Reddit.  It worked - something I wrote got 36,000 views? 

I have to admit that's a new normal I (and my ego) could live with.

Thank you for reading this newsletter.


Here is some new and very cool music that also fits today's subject matter nicely.  Here is Badbadnotgood and Mid Spiral:  Chaos.  I bet you'll like it, and don't let its title - or the band's name - frighten you.

About Dean Clough