SteveG’s Posts


A Simple “Trade” Solution to Boost Workers Across the Planet

Naked Capitalism has the article A Simple “Trade” Solution to Boost Workers Across the Planet.

But the reason Third World workers get such a large share of jobs is because their wages are low. Third World countries export so much of what they produce because their workers cannot afford to buy these goods themselves. Handicapping them will only drive their wages lower, making them even more attractive to foreign corporations.

Is which group of workers to hurt, the only choice? Is there no trade policy that can help all workers at the same time? There is.

Remember that this is just one part of the solution. Don’t get hung up on thinking this is THE silver bullet that will fix everything instantly. However, when you hear representatives of the oligarchs tell you that we must protect “our” “intellectual property” from the foreigners learn to cringe at what they are trying to foist upon us.

There are a raft of ideas on how to rethink trade agreements so that they are good for everybody, not just the wealthy and the multi-national corporations.  Free trade done right is a good thing for all of us.  The ideas in this article are just examples of some of the things that could be done.


Obama’s Great Lie: What’s Good for Wall Street Felons is Good for America

New Economic Perspectives has the article Obama’s Great Lie: What’s Good for Wall Street Felons is Good for America.

 A president who has a good case to make on the merits of his economic policies can make that case to the public with all the advantages of his office.  Obama would have gained immense “political capital” if he had led a vigorous claim to hold the Wall Street frauds personally accountable for their crimes and he would have discredited the source of much of his future opposition.  A president who allows elite CEOs to grow wealthy through fraud and even wealthier through a public bailout will – and should – squander his political capital.

Obama admitted to Sorkin, that he chose the strategy of allying himself with Wall Street and disparaging its critics.

There is no nice way to put this, Obama is either a con artist or a fool.  If he found the country had been taken in and put into dire straights by the felons on Wall Street, what kind of answer did he expect when he went to those crooks and asked them how to fix the mess they had made.  You don’t go to the con artists to ask them what to do when you discover they are con artists who have treated you very badly.

In Hillary Clinton’s case, she is the con artist, so there is no wonder she likes the “solution” that Obama chose.  This country just cannot afford to put another Obama type into office as President.  I am surprised that when Clinton touts her economic plan over Bernie Sanders’ plan that he  doesn’t point out to us all that her economic advisers are all crooks themselves.  What kind of advice do we expect the crooks to give us?


What’s in a Name Change? Politics, Some at George Mason University Fear

The New York Times has the story What’s in a Name Change? Politics, Some at George Mason University Fear.

Those foundations have given more than $50 million over the past decade, most of it funneled to pet initiatives affiliated with the university, like the Mercatus Center, an economic think tank that churns out libertarian policy research, and the Institute for Humane Studies, which promotes libertarian philosophy. Mr. Koch sits on the boards of both.
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The Charles Koch Foundation usually insists on some say in how its money is used, going as far as asking for the right to have a committee it appointed sign off on hires to a new economics program it funded in 2011 at Florida State University.

This is what I fear is going on at The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. When MIT announced this project, my alma mater and I parted company.  I no longer give any money to MIT, which <sarcasm>I am sure they sorely miss</sarcasm>.  I didn’t dare go to my 50th reunion for fear that the speakers extolling the contribution for David Koch might make me sick to my stomach.


Watch Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, and Phil Gramm Have a Love Fest Over Repeal of Glass Steagall

Naked Capitalism has the article Watch Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, and Phil Gramm Have a Love Fest Over Repeal of Glass Steagall.

This clip is a reminder of the ideology that got us into our current mess: rising inequality and debt levels, a global meltdown that led to the greatest looting of the public purse in history, followed by stagnation and deflation that is too widely blamed on the march of technology and not on poor policies and overt corruption. And this thinking is very much alive.

 

I read the article, but I couldn’t stomach watching the video. I’ll save it here on my blog in case I ever need a good emetic.


Black Voters and the NY Primary

The Real News Network has the video discussion Black Voters and the NY Primary.

Historian Gerald Horne tells Paul Jay that the fear of the racist right drives black voters to support Hillary Clinton.

There were many other factors that were discussed other than the one emphasized here.  The in-depth discussion of this idea was saved to the last.  As the discussion of the other ideas went on, I kept wondering how this idea got to be the one that was emphasized.  As it turns out, there was much more to this emphasized idea than I had imagined.  It was quite enlightening.

This wasn’t  so much an interview, or an argument, as it was a discussion by two people of an important subject that got further developed as the two participants could feed off of each others ideas.

When The Real News Network does something really well, this is one of the usual ways they do it.


Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

The Guardian has a mostly terrific article Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

The history this article provides may be eye opening to those who didn’t live through neoliberalism’s ascendancy or didn’t understand its flaws.

The article does go seriously off the rails when it talks about the failures of John Maynard Keynes’ “general theory of employment interest and money.”

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream.
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Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

The trouble of the 1970s was not a failure of Keynesian policies, it was a failure to realize what Keynes’ theories demanded in the situation.  At the time, people were saying that you cannot have a policy of “guns and butter” or it would cause inflation according to Keynes.  This proved to be exactly right, as the “guns and butter” policy of fighting the Vietnam War and trying to fight a war on poverty at the same time proved to be impossible.  With the rise of the oil cartel, OPEC, it became impossible to get inflation back under control.  In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan applied Keynesian theory to stop inflation.  He brought on a huge recession, people cut way back on purchases of petroleum based products, and the power of OPEC was broken.

I don’t know what flaws in Keynesianism were exposed in the 1970s.  It seemed to me to work perfectly well.  Even Richard Nixon helped free up the application of Keynesian theory by taking us off the gold standard around 1972.  Some theorists are only now trying to explain the policy options that Nixon (perhaps unknowingly) opened up to us.  Neoliberalism does not want us to use those options if it means fairly distributing wealth.

Keynesian Theory explains how the economic cycle works, and explains the causes and cures for the ups and downs of the cycle.  With problems of global warming we now know that we have to be careful about the consequences of economic growth.  As we learn how to fairly distribute the fruits of economic growth to all the people of the world, Keynesian Theory will still tell  us how to control that growth.  Other theories will need to be developed to figure out how to channel that growth onto environmentally non-destructive paths, but Keynesian theory will still tell us how to control economic cycles.


Towards a Theory of Shadow Money

Naked Capitalism has the post Towards a Theory of Shadow Money.

The bigger task that follows from our analysis, is to define the social contract between the three key institutions involved in shadow money: the state as base collateral issuer, the central bank, and private finance.

I would call this a Donald Rumsfeld moment for me.  I have suddenly been introduced to the knowledge of what I didn’t know that I didn’t know.  Now at least I know that I don’t know this.

Armed with this, I can learn more about it to turn it into something I do know.  You can do the same, if you didn’t know that you didn’t know this.


The sugar conspiracy

The Guardian has the article The sugar conspiracy.

In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?

For probably 25 years after my 1989 heart attack, I followed a low fat diet. If you go low fat, the only think g left to eat is carbs. When I heard of a friend’s surgeon wife following an Atkins diet, I told him all I knew about low fat diets and essentially called his wife crazy. A year or so ago, I finally decided to heed my doctor’s complaint that my blood sugar was too high, nearing a worrisome level. I stumbled on a book that talked about lowering your blood sugar level. To my surprise, the book was about minimizing your carbs. I gave those ideas a try. The next time I had occasion to have my blood sugar measured, it was so low that I was told I could afford to eat more carbs. In the meantime, I had lost an additional 15 pounds beyond where my low-fat diet had gotten me. (It may not have been the low-fat diet that had helped me gain and then lose 40 pounds. That loss may have come from contracting noro-virus on a cruise. The thought of eating at the company cafeteria after returning from the cruise, turned me into bringing my own food to work.)


Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

I just started reading the book Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank.

I found this excerpt in the introduction which perfectly explains an issue I have been telling people for years. I probably got this idea from Elizabeth Warren or perhaps I figured it out on my own.

ExcerptFromListenLiberal

Trying to answer this conundrum is what Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are all about.