One day a week, I write a letter that’s a grab bag of topics. This is the day. Here’s what is in today’s letter:
- Why 15% unemployment should make you worry
- Why there isn’t any organic honey
- Why honey doesn’t spoil
Why 15% Unemployment is Worrisome (and not for the reason you think it is)
Here’s a chart most people haven’t seen. It’s the real unemployment rate in the US.
It’s called U-6 Unemployment and it is measured the same way unemployment was measured during the first depression.
One thing you will notice is that the unemployment rate is at a very high 15%. In contrast, the “official” unemployment rate is something called U-3 and it has us at about half this number. Why the difference? U-3 massages the data. It takes out people who have given up or people who have worked an hour a week. U-6 doesn’t do that. In short, the official number is a misrepresentation of what is really going on.
The same is true with the way we measure our progress economically. The GDP (gross domestic product) is supposedly a measure of the economic health of the US. It’s not. The US isn’t an abstract economic system, it’s made up of citizens. Real, living, breathing, people.
A real measure of the economic health of the US would be the median income (or median household wealth). The question we should be asking is: Is the median income of America (the collective we) going up or down? Well that number has been going down, and down. It dropped 1.5% last year at the very moment economists and politicians were celebrating an economic recovery due to 1.7% growth in the GDP….
The reason I’m pointing this out isn’t because it’s a scary chart (it is). I’m pointing it out because it’s impossible to take effective action if you aren’t getting information that correctly describes what is going on. If you don’t get good info, it’s garbage in/garbage out. You make the wrong decisions.
In this case, the rosy picture of economic recovery that is being painted would suggest that it’s possible to relax. To put off becoming resilient and becoming really productive.
It’s not. The real data is providing us with a signal. A signal that says it’s time to get our minds, bodies, families, and neighbors in gear.
It’s time to get resilient!
Why there isn’t any truly “organic” Honey
Entomologist Alex Wild points out that bees can travel from 5-10 miles (circular) from their hives to gather nectar. This means that it’s impossible to prevent exposure/collection of pesticides. Here’s some more interesting facts about the productivity of Bees:
- A colony of bees produces 250 pounds of nectar.
- A colony produces 50 to 100 jars of honey a year.
- Each jar of honey = 1 million flower visits.
Why doesn’t Honey spoil?
Here’s the summary of an excellent answer by the culinary expert Jonas Luster (via Quora):
- Honey is a supersaturated solution of sugar. Since sugar is a hygroscopic (a substance, like cotton and salt, that attracts water) it desiccates bacteria, yeast spores, and other micro-organisms that it touches.
- The pH of honey is 3.26 to 4.48, which weakens the cell walls of bacteria (which makes it easier to desiccate them).
- Finally, bees use an enzyme called glucose oxidase, also known as Penicillin A or Notatin.
PS: I’m not political. That means I don’t believe that the political process will solve the current crisis. Why? I believe it’s an existential crisis we are facing, and that’s way beyond national politics. On top of that, every political party in power over the last thirty years has made this crisis worse. In contrast, the only way forward is to focus on what is important at the human scale: building resilient communities that can provide you prosperity, security, and happiness.