The American Economy: What’s Going On?

It has all gone a bit quiet on the American economy front, especially in comparison to the tumultuous experience it had at the start of the year. Perhaps the silence has been a result of the recent implementation of the sequester – a series of federal budget cuts that will take place across a wide spectrum of government programs until the year 2021. Since it is going to be a while until these spending cuts are felt in American society, we should probably think of this silence as the “calm before the storm.” Largely, the only noise we are likely to hear over the next few months will be from interest groups directly affected by the sequester cuts, such as Greenpeace, the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign. Although the news has devoted little attention to the actual process of the sequester budget, it is highly likely the issue will rise to the surface in the upcoming months and years.

Although most people are aware of the serious budget in the American economy, very few understand what it consists of or how it will ultimately affect them. Essentially, the major recipients of government spending, Medicare and Social Security, will see their budgets being cut every year for the next eight years. Along with these, many defense programs and military budgets will be cut in order to prevent the government from spending money that they do not possess. Some of the most significant cuts will be to some of the nation’s most famous and beloved programs and institutions. For example, funds to The Library of Congress will be cut by $31 million; The National Science Foundation will be cut by $388 million; The FBI by $480 million and The National Institute of Health will be cut, most significantly, by $1.6 billion. In addition, those arriving into America over the next few years will perhaps find it slightly easier to pass border patrol as border security is being cut by around $581 million as well as national airport security being cut by around $323 million.

For travellers, it is unlikely that the sequester will hamper a visit to America, as the cuts are largely focused on those who invest large amounts of time and money into government systems – such as those who use Medicare. If anything, it may mean that we are faced with a bunch of depressed Americans (if that is even possible?), or no Americans at all as they will have probably fled the country from all of its economic woes. But, one impact that the sequester cuts will have on tourism will be from the rapid decline of America’s National Parks, meaning that there will be less money available to employ people to care for the Parks, resulting in less tourist facilities such as campsites and hiking trails. This degradation of the Parks will not be because Americans no longer care for them, however, but because they no longer have the money to look after them.

However, those who do travel to America in the next few months, or years, will find that some states will appear better off than others. According to some economic experts, the states with the largest amount of government agencies will probably experience the consequences within their own economies. For example, California and Virginia are expected to be the worst hit of all – the former because of its size and its catering to some of the world’s biggest technology companies, the latter probably because of its proximity to the Whitehouse and government agencies. The greatest repercussions of the sequester are yet to be known, but two things remain certain: tourism will become more important to local economies and Americans themselves will think twice before booking a vacation, whether at home or abroad.

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Living like a Gaucho – an Argentinian ranch experience

Everyone knows what waking up to a sweaty, smelly and loud 16 bed dorm is like. On a good day, it’s an incentive to get going and on a bad day, frankly, it sucks. You lie there thinking of all the places you’d rather be sleeping: a bed that isn’t a bunk, complete absence of the bragging super-traveller, somewhere with an ensuite! It might sound like an impossible dream, but with a bit of hunting and scrimping for it, you can actually stay in this type of paradise.

In Argentina, my dream was always to go to a ranch. Initially I had dismissed the idea, convinced it was too expensive and there would be no point looking at it. Admittedly, I was being super lazy as well; my Spanish is beyond basic and I couldn’t face more Google Translate to trawl through endless websites that I wouldn’t understand. Luckily, my friend was a lot more proactive, and she managed to find an absolute gem of a place that, crazily, was actually kind of affordable.

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Cazando Luciérnagas: A Review

Cazando Luciérnagas isn’t a film I would typically choose to watch, but with the ¡VIVA! Film Festival taking place in Manchester – which last year introduced me to my favourite Spanish language film of all time, También La Lluvia – I decided to take a risk and, I must say, it paid off.

Cazando Luciérnagas is Flores Prieto’s directorial debut in which he presents the audience with an isolated, middle-aged man, Manrique, who lives alone and works as a guard at an abandoned salt mine on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Manrique has no interest in engaging with the outside world and seems content to spend his life in solitude; that is until his thirteen-year-old daughter, Valeria, and a dog bursting with life unexpectedly arrive. Both ultimately force him to embrace his emotions and to enjoy life whenever he can.

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The Real ‘Life of Pi’

Jose Salvador Alvarenga has hit shore after spending 13 months in the Pacific as a castaway. Mr Alvarenga had set off from Mexico in November 2012 in an attempt to catch sharks, when he was blown off course by northern winds and then caught in a storm. The severity of the storm wrecked the boat’s engines, leaving Mr Alvarenga and his shipmate stranded.

Strange as it seems, this is not the first time a story like this – a shipwrecked individual stranded in the Pacific – has come to light. In 2006, three Mexican fishermen travelled a similar route for nine months.

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Brazil’s Very Hungry Caterpillars

While the rest of us are enjoying the transition from winter to spring, Brazilian farmers are fretting over the rather problematic animal: Helicoverpa Armigera, a type of caterpillar currently destroying valuable crops all over the country.

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

 

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