Numlock News: July 24, 2018

By Walt Hickey


It turns out there’s a fortune to be made in cartooning, despite what every one of my friends who have ever worked with the company Medium has emphatically stressed. A copy of the “Join or Die” political cartoon from the Pennsylvania Gazette will go up for auction, with bidding starting at $40,000. For some reason I can’t find the artist, Benjamin Franklin, on Patreon, which I suppose justifies the price for what is reported to be the only copy in existence that is not in the Library of Congress.

Joseph A. Gambardello, The Inquirer

Door-To-Door Vendors

It’s tougher than ever to be a door-to-door vendor in the U.S., as sales from self-employed merchants fell to $34.9 billion in 2017 from $36.1 billion in 2015. Whether it’s the ascendance of online retail or plain ol’ discrimination against smooth-talking musical instrument salesmen just trying to start an honest-to-gosh brass band right here in River City, probably the first one, companies that sell their products through sales reps are looking elsewhere for growth. The number of active sales reps for Avon, the cosmetics company, fell 4 percent over the past year, and the company’s market share is down to 1.5 percent in 2017 from 1.8 percent in 2015.

Eric Pfanner, Bloomberg Businessweek

Bears vs. Sheep

France has been dumping drugged, Slovenian brown bears in the Pyrenees for approximately 20 years in what is either a fledgling ecological program to restore the nations’ bear population or a dangerous escalation of an epic continental prank war. This fall the French government will add two more, bringing the population to 43 bears. This is causing some chafing with the local shepherding communities: attacks on sheep increased 46 percent in 2017 year-over-year, and 464 sheep were maimed by bears.

Adam Nossiter, The New York Times

American Meat

The U.S.D.A. forecasts that the meat business will produce about 102.7 billion pounds of turkey, beef, pork and chicken this year. That’s more than Americans can eat because much of that is exported. However, new retaliatory tariffs from China and Mexico on U.S. meat exports have contributed to some 2.5 billion pounds of meat piling up in cold storage facilities. This could lead to prices falling, threatening producers and processors. Listen, if this nation needs someone to consume a medically inadvisable amount of steak, I volunteer as tribute.

Jacob Bunge, The Wall Street Journal

Spilled Milk

When cows get too hot, they don’t want to do stuff and sometimes can’t even bring themselves to eat, which I think we can all empathize with. This however causes problems for dairy farmers, because hot cows mean fasting cows which means milk production falls by a third and that’s the thing they get to sell for money. Estimates say the U.S. dairy business loses $900 million to heat stress annually, and another study estimates the hotter summers that stem from climate change decrease Holstein cow milk production by 2 percent.

Mose Buchele, NPR

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In the two and a half months before Feb. 14, 2018, voters aged 18 to 29 made up 26.23 percent of new registrations in the state of Florida. On Feb. 14, a gunman carried out a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the aftermath, voter registration of young people jumped that figure by eight percentage points; in the two and a half months following the shooting the age group made up 34.22 percent of new registrations.

Alex Daugherty, McClatchy DC

State and Local Tax Hike

Due to the new tax law and the elimination of parts of the deduction for state and local taxes, more than 10 percent of New Jersey residents, 8.6 percent of Californians, and 8.3 percent of New Yorkers will see their taxes go up. The affected states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland are suing to invalidate the cap. While there’s been lots of talk of people splitting town and heading toward a more amenably taxed region of the country, many high earners are realizing that it’s actually way more difficult to swap residencies than one may expect.

Ben Steverman and Simone Foxman, Bloomberg

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