Category Archives : Periodic Posts

Posts made periodically by a particular author. The periodicity may be totally random.


How the Federal Reserve Is Destroying Your Economic Future

Naked Capitalism cross-posted the article How the Federal Reserve Is Destroying Your Economic Future by Lynn Stuart Parramore, Senior Editor at the Institute for New Economic Thinking and a contributing editor at Alternet.  The article is an interview of economist Gerald Epstein.

LP: What kind of Fed policies would help close the inequality gap in the U.S.?

GE: The Fed needs to adopt new tools, on its own and perhaps in cooperation with the other parts of the U.S. government, to improve the economy from the bottom up. This includes increasing facilities for debt forgiveness for under-water mortgages and excessive student loans; increased credit facilities for small businesses and cooperatives; helping to underwrite mechanisms for creating affordable housing in cities; and more restrictive enforcement of financial regulatory rules to help rein in excessive banker risk and pay.

But the Fed cannot reduce inequality on its own; far from it. This requires a concerted effort by the government, broadly speaking, to support a variety of efforts. These include things like raising the federal minimum wage, eliminating unfair restrictions on union organizing, increased fiscal spending on needed infrastructure with a condition that these jobs will be decent paying jobs. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and far from the question of the role of the Federal Reserve.

I also liked Epstein’s explanation of the difference between two different kinds of criticism of the FED.

LP: Many libertarians want to audit the Fed or just plain end it, while conservatives like Rick Perry label the Fed’s actions treasonous. On the other side of the political spectrum, members of the Occupy Movement and progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren challenge the Fed’s ties to Wall Street. How do people with such vastly different ideologies end up distrusting the Fed?

GE: On the surface, it may look like the right wing and progressive criticism of the Fed is similar, but there are key differences. Many of those on the right distrust the Fed and want to eliminate its power in the belief that the private economy, including the private banks, will be much more efficient, productive and even democratic if they are left to themselves: in other words, the criticism of the Fed really reflects a desire to cripple the government in the service of increasing the power and authority of the market.

The perspective of most progressive critics is quite different: they don’t want to destroy the power of the Fed to regulate the macroeconomy and finance. They want to regain control over it so that it better serves the interests of the whole population.

So the right wants to destroy the power of the Fed to increase the power of finance; and the progressives want to reorient the Fed so that it will stop protecting the interests of finance and protect the interests of the broader population instead.

Now you know why I think the criticism of the FED by the likes of Rand Paul and Ron Paul show their utter misunderstanding of the FED, but I also criticize the FED sometimes.


The Ivy League’s favorite war criminal: Why the atrocities of Henry Kissinger should be mandatory reading

Salon has the article The Ivy League’s favorite war criminal: Why the atrocities of Henry Kissinger should be mandatory reading,  I have picked out just one of the accusations about Kissinger that were in the article.

1. Sabotaging U.S. Government Diplomacy

Five days before the 1968 election, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a bombing halt of North Vietnam to begin negotiating an end to the Vietnam War. Johnson needed to keep this decision a secret; any leak could jeopardize the peace he was seeking. Kissinger, who had been an adviser to the negotiators, called the Nixon campaign and said, “I’ve got some information. They’re breaking out the champagne in Paris.” In his own memoirs, Richard Nixon says that he had received advanced word of the negotiation “through a highly unusual channel.” Three days before the election, the South Vietnamese pulled out of the talks because a Nixon confidant named Anna Chennault informed them that they would get a better deal under a Republican administration. The number of Vietnamese and Americans killed because of Kissinger and Nixon’s sabotage of the Paris negotiations remain unaccounted.

All this time, I thought Reagan’s sabotage of Jimmy Carter on freeing the Iranian hostages was an unprecedented action thought up by Reagan;s henchmen.

When I wrote my previous post Hillary Clinton Calls Henry Kissinger a Friend, Praises His Commitment to Democracy, I knew that Kissinger was an immorally sleazy character, and I didn’t even know about the incidents in the current article.

Some of Hillary;s friends make my skin crawl.  Is this really who we  want as President?

As per the theme of the day, remember that you never know what to believe, including this article in Salon.  So, do we let everyone off the hook because you just don’t know what to believe?

 

 


The “Possible Military Dimensions” Bomb That Could Blow Up the Iran Deal

Truthout has the story The “Possible Military Dimensions” Bomb That Could Blow Up the Iran Deal.

The Obama administration has been under heavy pressure from the Israelis and their supporters in Washington to insist that Iran confess to having carried out nuclear weapons research and development as a condition for sanctions relief.

That pressure is the result of several years of news media coverage that has treated allegations that Iran carried out research and development on nuclear weapons, published by the IAEA in 2011, as established fact. The media have constantly repeated the theme that Iran has been “stonewalling” the IAEA to cover up its past nuclear weapons experiments.

Absent from the media narrative is the fact that the allegations that the IAEA is demanding that Iran explain are all based on intelligence that is now known to have come from Israel and which the IAEA itself suspected of being fabricated, from 2005 to 2009.

Put this together with my previous post NBC’s Conduct in Engel Kidnapping Story is More Troubling than the Brian Williams Scandal, and you no longer have to wonder why I am skeptical about everything I read including the Truthout article.  I might as well be reading the Ripley’s Believe it or Not section of the paper as anything else.  At least Ripley warned you about its stories.


NBC’s Conduct in Engel Kidnapping Story is More Troubling than the Brian Williams Scandal   Recently updated !

It is a very interresting trip to follow the links I followed to get to this story.  First thanks to Nancy Weinberg for putting this on her Facebook Wall.  I followed the link she gave to Glenn Greenwald’s First Look which had the story NBC’s Conduct in Engel Kidnapping Story is More Troubling than the Brian Williams Scandal.

That there was ample reason to doubt Engel’s belief about the identity of his captors is proven by how many people publicly called it into doubt. That NBC’s broadcasts reflected none of this doubt, and instead allowed a one-sided tale that we now know to be false to go unquestioned by the entire network is bad enough. That these executives seemed to have had ample reason to doubt the story themselves makes it far worse than just merely “bad”: it is the type of systematic journalistic deceit and propaganda that we have seen over and over, almost always on the side and in service of the U.S. government’s agenda of endless war.

The First Look story says that The New York Times broke this story. The link to The New York Times that I followed was NBC News Alters Account of Correspondent’s Kidnapping in Syria.

NBC’s own assessment during the kidnapping had focused on Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj, according to a half-dozen people involved in the recovery effort. NBC had received GPS data from the team’s emergency beacon that showed it had been held early in the abduction at a chicken farm widely known by local residents and other rebels to be controlled by the Sunni criminal group.

As long as I had come this far, I decided  to go to NBC itself for the Engel post New Details on 2012 Kidnapping of NBC News Team in Syria.  This article was anti-climactic by comparison.

I don’t know what is most ironic.

  1. NBC news executives acting more deceitfully than Brian Williams whom they have suspended for what he did.
  2. The New York Times taking umbrage that a “respected” news medium would lie about a story to support the US government’s cause of the moment.
  3. Richard Engel downplaying the role his bosses played in this farce.

I refer to a certain network as Faux Noise.  What should I start calling NBC?  Or The New York Times for that matter. I already say that The New York Times “prints all the news it sees fit to print”.

The New York Times motto

It just proves that one should always be skeptical of what one reads, even (or especially) about what one reads on this blog.  I don’t even believe myself anymore.


The Second Amendment Doesn’t Say What You Think It Does

Mother Jones has the article The Second Amendment Doesn’t Say What You Think It Does.  The article is an interview with Michael Waldman the author if the book The Second Amendment: A Biography.  I liked the following example in discussing the legal “scholarship” that went into the Heller decision at the Supreme Court.

MW: They certainly supported a lot of it. The way it works in constitutional law is that legal scholarship plays a pretty big role. So there became a rather deafening roar of the pro-individual gun ownership model: They were publishing and reinforcing each other. Some of it was very useful, and I cite it in the book. And some of it, when you look at some of the claims, they are easily punctured. It reminded me of the people who write movie posters, in terms of pulling quotes out of context. Like this Thomas Jefferson quote—”One loves to possess arms.” It is in serious law review articles. It’s presented as proof of what the founders really meant. But what happened was Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to George Washington, saying, “Remember I sent you a bunch of those letters from when I was Secretary of State? Could you send them back to me? I think I’m going to get attacked for this position I made. I want to be able to defend myself: ‘One loves to possess arms,’ even though one hopes not to use them.” It’s a metaphor! But it’s in these law review articles. It’s funny! When you go to the NRA website, it’s still there. You can buy a T-shirt that has the quote!

I couldn’t find the T-Shirt mentioned in the article, but I did find this “scholarship”, CLEARING THE  SMOKE FROM THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS AND THE SECOND AMENDMENT by ANTHONY J. DENNIS Copyright © 1995 Akron Law Review

Thanks to Summer Starbuck for posting this on Facebook.

 


Jeb Bush Backs Hike in Social Security Retirement Age   Recently updated !

Social Security Works posted this on their Facebook wall.

Jeb Bush Quote

When we have too much unemployment already  and too much pressure to keep wages down, the last thing we ought to be doing  is trying to prevent people from retiring as early as possible.  How oblivious to the consequences of our actions can one person be?

Social Security Works linked to the National Journal article Jeb Bush Backs Hike in Social Security Retirement Age.

At his appearance, Bush said America’s demographic realities would force changes both to Social Security and Medicare, which he called an even “bigger challenge.”

“We have to be cognizant of that and recognize that someone in their 30s is not going to get the benefits under their current situation,” he said of Social Security.

What Jeb (John Elias Bush) Bush wants you to ignore is that technological changes bringing on ever more rapid automation will trump demographic changes.  Future society will require much less physical work to provide for all the needs of the people on earth than is true of current society.  We will have to choose how to deal with this fact of life.  Do we turn this into a society where every one can have a decent standard of living while equitably sharing in the minimal amount of labor that is needed?  Or do we concentrate the wealth and the work in the hands of the few, because we can eliminate the income and wealth  of all the people that are not “needed”?

This is an important decision that we in society will have to make.  We cannot avoid it.  We see which way the oligarchs want the choice to be made.  Are you going to let them trick you into accepting their choice?

If you find my prediction hard to believe, just mull over the changes we have seen in going from an agricultural society to an industrial one, and soon to a post industrial one.  Fewer and fewer people have been able to produce more and more per hour worked.  Can you project this trend into various possible futures? Can you imagine how impossible it was for people in the old agricultural society to foresee where we are today?


Elizabeth Warren Throws Down Gauntlet, Calls for Genuine Financial Reform

Naked Capitalism has the article Elizabeth Warren Throws Down Gauntlet, Calls for Genuine Financial Reform.

At the Levy Conference, Elizabeth Warren launched a new campaign for tough-minded, effective financial regulation. This ought to be a straightforward call for restoring banking to its traditional role of facilitating real economy activity. Instead, in this era of “cream for the banks, crumbs for everyone else,” common-sense reforms to make banks deal fairly with customers and remove their outsized subsidies will no doubt be depicted by pampered financiers as an unfair plot to target a successful industry. But as we’ve stressed, Big Finance gets more government support than any line of business, even military contractors. They are utilities and should be regulated as such. Thus even Warren’s bold call to action falls short of the degree to which the financial service industry need to be curbed.

If you don’t watch this video, you won’t have a clue as to what is going on in the financial world that absolutely must come to a halt. You won’t have a clue as to how weak the Obama administration has been in enforcing the laws against the big banks. You also won’t have a clue as to what steps need to be taken to fix the problems. If it is ok by you to be choosing Presidential candidates while remaining in the dark about these key issues, then you aren’t living up to your civic responsibilities.

I give you permission to skip about the first 50 seconds of the video where people are just waiting for the introduction to Elizabeth Warren.


American corporations should create decent-paying jobs here – not in China   Recently updated !

Bernie Sanders has a poster on his Facebook wall.

Bernie Sanders' poster

What Bernie Sanders says here is on the edge of what I can support. For years, I have been saying other people in the world deserve to have good jobs, too. We have no right to tell other people what is an acceptable level of pay for them.  They should have the right to decide that for themselves.  We also have no right to a standard of living that is far higher than what exists in developing countries.  For historical reasons, we do have a higher standard of living, but in a fair world, this cannot go on forever.  We should be working for a solution that raises other peoples’ standards of living to come up to our level rather than trying to depress our standard of living to match theirs.

American exceptionalism has given us in the USA an exaggerated concept of the right to the exceptional standard of living we enjoy. If people in other countries are willing to work for lower wages and yet do a good job, then there is justice in the work flowing to them. The key is their “willingness”. The only thing we should be negotiating in trade agreements is a certain standard of human rights. Beyond that, we have no right to complain about the other people willing to do our jobs as well or better than we can, and at a lower wage. We may not like it, but the world does not owe us the higher standard of living that we enjoy.

In the adjustment of our standard of living that seems inevitable to me, we don’t have to choose a method that puts all the pain on the backs of American working people. Letting the value of our dollar weaken as it should do, will let all the people in the USA, the wealthy included, share in the pain of the adjustment. If we don’t compare ourselves to other countries, the relative adjustment could be almost unnoticeable to us. In other words the rise in standard of living in other countries could be much larger than the fall here. If we were really lucky there would not have to be any fall here, just a huge rise elsewhere.

The people who call for maintaining the strength of the dollar, are asking for the most painful way to have the adjustment to occur.  Well, painful for us average folk, but good for the richest among us.


N.J. Deli Forced To Shut Down After Posting ‘White History Month’ Sign

Talking Points Memo has the article N.J. Deli Forced To Shut Down After Posting ‘White History Month’ Sign.

A Flemington, N.J. deli was forced to close its doors after the owner placed a “White History Month” sign in the window of the establishment, the Hunterdon County Democrat reported on Thursday.

This story caught my eye because we lived in Flemington for a couple of  years in the mid-1970s.  Should I have a sense of pride for having lived there?  Maybe this incident redeems New Jersey’s reputation for having been a southern like state when it came to civil rights.


The Media Fall for Hillary Clinton’s Gensler Gambit   Recently updated !

New Economic Perspectives has the article The Media Fall for Hillary Clinton’s Gensler Gambit by William K. Black. While he does praise Gensler’s work during the Obama administration, he comes to the following conclusion:

Ignore the media crush on Gensler’s appointment.  As campaign CFO for H. Clinton his job is the care and feeding of the DLC’s financial base – the finance industry.  H. Clinton’s Gensler gambit is smart politics, but if you think it means she is seeking progressive advice you are being played – successfully.

You’ll have to read the article to find the details behind this conclusion.

Looking at my previous post Clinton to name former financial regulator as CFO -Bloomberg, you will see that I was almost played successfully.  However, I did show some skepticism about the appointment.  In fact, I said that I was waiting to see what William K. Black had to say about this.