SteveG’s Posts

The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders   Recently updated !

The New York Times has the article The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders by Tony Schwartz. His article talks about three leaders, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos.

What disheartens me is how little care and appreciation any of them give (or in Mr. Jobs’s case, gave) to hard-working and loyal employees, and how unnecessarily cruel and demeaning they could be to the people who helped make their dreams come true.

I have been thinking about why it is that I reserve a special animosity for Steve Jobs compared to the other two. I think there are two related reasons. First, I was much more aware of Steve Jobs personality from early on than I have been with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Second, Steve Jobs’ attitude and behavior affected me and what I wanted to do with the type of product each person’s company sold. With Elon Musk, there is no product of his company that I have ever bought or contemplated buying.

With Steve Jobs, I was affected by his disdain for standards and his constant reinvention of the wheel. Many of Apple’s products were and are incompatible with Microsoft Windows, Digital Equipment’s VMS, and Unix, and Linux. He purposely kept interfaces to his products and the design of his products proprietary. That made Apple the sole source of many things related to his computers. I could understand this as a good business decision for him that allowed him to charge exorbitant prices, but it wasn’t a decision that benefited me. As I used multiple different computer operating systems at various times on the same day, the incompatibility could be quite frustrating and annoying. I had similar annoyances with Microsoft’s software, but there were alternative pieces of software that would run on a windows machine that were much more standards oriented – HTML being one of the most important standards. Microsoft’s violations of the standards for Javascript were gaping holes in security, so I just used Mosaic, then Netscape, and later Firefox. I stopped using Outlook for email, and switched to Mozilla’s Thunderbird.

The wonders of graphical user interfaces made using computers easier in many cases. However, there were many things I needed and wanted to do with computers every day, even every hour, that were not well served by graphical user interfaces. With VMS, Unix, and Linux, there was no problem using the best method for the task at hand. With the introduction of Cygwin’s virtual Unix on Windows machines, I had what I needed to make Windows useful to me. MSDos was so inferior to the DEC-10 and VMS machines, that I refused to buy a PC until Windows-3 came out.

My dislike for Steve Jobs was well entrenched and many years old before I learned about his conspiring with other Silicon Valley companies to keep engineering wages low. Even if the companies I worked for were not part of the conspiracy directly, (and I have no way of being sure of that), they certainly benefited from the lack of competition on salaries.

The Washington Consensus and Long-Term Austerity in Latin America 1   Recently updated !

Naked Capitalism has published the excellent article The Washington Consensus and Long-Term Austerity in Latin America.

The burdens of slow economic growth have not been borne equally by all Latin Americans. Historically, Latin America has been one of the most unequal regions in the world. The gap between rich and poor widened with neoliberal policies. Government policies to promote export-led growth concentrated the burden on workers and peasants. Trade liberalization and deregulation policies led to higher unemployment rates, which drove down wages and pushed workers into the low-wage informal sector. Governments exacerbated the trends by repressing labor unions and lowering minimum wages. Latin America saw a dramatic increase in inequality after 1980, with the average national Gini coefficient (the most widely used measure of income inequality) rising from 0.50 to over 0.53 by 2003. Since then, with the renewal of progressive economic policies in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and elsewhere, the Gini has declined most of the way back where it was in the early 1980s.

Remember this paragraph when you hear President Obama and his Republican allies tell you that the way for our economy to grow is for us to export more. If the successful economies get that way by exporting to us, then won’t those economies decline as we increase our exports to them? Then who will we export to? Unless we expand the middle-class around the world, there won’t be a market for our exports. As I keep saying, “What part of no freakin’ customers do you not understand?”

As with many posts on Naked Capitalism, the comments are excellent and informed. That’s true of even the dissenting comments.

Here is a non-dissenting comment by “Oakchair”.

I can see why people would think that policies that focus on export led growth would be better then policies that focus on domestically producing goods for local demand. It seems intuitive that the way for a poor country to get rich would be to focus on producing things to sell to rich countries. The problem is that export led growth makes your economy subject to the whims of the rich countries you are exporting to. While domestic production creates growth not only in producing the good but in the demand created in the local purchase of that good. And when you focus on local demand you can always export that stuff and are more subjected to the whims of your own economies demand.

With a country the size of the USA, I would think that “import substitution” would be a better cure for our economic ills than more lousy trade deals (TPP).

Has Obama got his head on backwards with regard to free trade, just as much as he has with other economic issues? Can we afford to elect another President who is so ill-informed and ill-advised on economic issues? I am naturally talking about choosing Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. That would be the definition of insanity.

Bernie Sanders Annihilates Scott Walker At Record Setting Madison Rally 1

Politicus USA has the article Bernie Sanders Annihilates Scott Walker At Record Setting Madison Rally.

Sanders responded to Wisconsin Republicans who called him an extremist, “Let me just say a few words to my friends in the Republican Party about extremism. When you deny the right of workers to come together in collective bargaining that’s extremism. When you tell a woman that she can not control her own body, that’s extremism. When you think a woman is a child and can’t purchase a contraceptive, that is extremism. When you give tax breaks to billionaires and refuse to raise the minimum wage, that’s extremism.”

Bernie Sanders might have been talking about Republicans in general, but he was specifically detailing the record of Scott Walker.

Seeing pictures of the crowd is one thing, but hearing them adds a whole other dimension.

Even Politicus USA can’t give up the “unlikely” meme, although in a slightly different nuance than NBC news.

If Bernie Sanders is Batman, Scott Walker is the Joker, and the unlikely 73-year-old superhero had all of Gotham behind him tonight in Wisconsin.

The one thing to note is that Bernie Sanders does not shy away from attacks against him. He uses those attacks, and turns them against the attackers. Isn’t it great to see a progressive politician stand up and defend the principles that we progressive voters hold dear? I feel betrayed by other so-called progressives who fail to make a vigorous defense of what I (and presumably they) believe.

Labor Leader Joins Bernie Sanders’ Campaign, Citing Clinton’s ‘Silence’ On Fast Track   Recently updated !

The Huffington Post has the article Labor Leader Joins Bernie Sanders’ Campaign, Citing Clinton’s ‘Silence’ On Fast Track.

Larry Cohen, outgoing president of the Communications Workers of America, told The Huffington Post he will serve as an unpaid volunteer stumping for Sanders as the Vermont senator seeks the Democratic nomination. One of the main factors in his decision, Cohen said, was Clinton’s equivocation on granting President Barack Obama so-called fast-track authority on his mammoth trade deal.

“I did everything I knew how to do to get Clinton to speak out on fast track, and she wouldn’t,” said Cohen, whose 10 years leading CWA came to an end in June. “We begged her to speak out.

“There was a million ways she could have done it. … Why was she silent on this?”

Cohen said Clinton’s hesitation on fast track “won’t be forgotten” anytime soon.

“We’re not a rubber stamp for the Democratic Party,” Cohen said of organized labor, “and certainly not for corporate Democrats.”

I think this news is a big deal. I can imagine the Clinton camp attacking this retiring labor leader for his stance. However, such an attack would violate the first law of holes. “When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.”

I had no idea that some in the labor movement had tried so hard to get Clinton to break her silence on the TPP. That’s one of the things that makes this such a big deal.

I could see the Sanders campaign using some political jujitsu on Clinton, if they don’t think this tactic would be negative campaigning. They could say that “Some people call Clinton a corporate Democrat.” One of the signs of this is that she takes large donations from large corporations. She could disprove the corporate label by refusing such contributions, but that would take away one of her major advantages over Sanders. Either choice she makes, continuing to take corporate money or refusing to take corporate money, would be a bad one for her campaign.

Warren doesn’t dismiss campaigning for Bernie

The Boston Herald has the article Warren doesn’t dismiss campaigning for Bernie.

“These are people who care about these issues, and that’s who Bernie’s reaching,” she said. “I love what Bernie is talking about. I think all the presidential candidates should be out talking about the big issues.”

I don’t think I could have asked for anything better than this, but I did ask for something like this.

WATCH: Larry Wilmore Had the Best 2 Minutes on the Confederate Flag You’ll See   Recently updated !

I post this for the two nice young men I know who have decided to post an image of the confederate battle symbol on their Facebook pages. If you look at who replied to my comment, you can see exactly where the bigotry comes from.

I can imagine what my reaction would be if I were Jewish like me and saw people running around displaying a symbol that is particularly obnoxious to me. You can imagine what that symbol might be.

Just in case your imagination doesn’t extend as far as mine does, Huffington Post has the article Jon Stewart Offers The South A New Symbol To Replace The Confederate Flag.

Unlike Comedy Central, HBO is blocking the viewing of John Oliver’s Epic Takedown of the Confederate Flag. The video clip as of this writing is labelled private. I presume that is HBO’s doing. Rolling Stone provided this quote.

“The Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should really only be seen on T-shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world.”

Greek debt crisis: Banks to stay shut, capital controls imposed   Recently updated !

The BBC has the article and video Greek debt crisis: Banks to stay shut, capital controls imposed.

“[Rejection] of the Greek government’s request for a short extension of the programme was an unprecedented act by European standards, questioning the right of a sovereign people to decide,” Mr Tsipras on Sunday said in a televised address.

“This decision led the ECB today to limit the liquidity available to Greek banks and forced the Greek central bank to suggest a bank holiday and restrictions on bank withdrawals.”
The Greek prime minister said that wages and pensions, as well as bank deposits, were guaranteed.

I had hoped that Greece had a plan to roll out its own currency at the same time as taking the steps it took today. Or maybe I should have read the article Greek debts cannot be repaid in euros!

If debts cannot be repaid they will not be repaid. Debts, in the commercial world, usually end up being settled.
Therefore, it has to pay in real goods and services: Tourism. Olives. Feta cheese. Ouzo. Shipping. Whatever Greece makes, does and sells, Germany needs to buy to enable the debt to be settled. And it needs to buy more from Greece than it sells to Greece. That way Greece ends up with the euros, which pays the Greeks for growing the olives, running the tourist hotels, making the cheese etc . This enables Greece to provide jobs for the unemployed, improve its Government’s tax revenue base, grow its economy, and also enables the Greeks to service, and eventually settle, their German debts.

The same naturally goes for Spain, Italy and even France. In other words, German debts get repaid when, and only when, Germany decides to accept real goods and services instead of euros. This in turn means that Germany has to run an economy more along the lines of the UK and the USA economies and import more goods and services than it exports.

If Germany and Holland don’t want to accept the reality of the situation, it is they who should exit the Euro not Greece or Spain.

June 29, 2015

I wake up to find that the Japanese stock market index, Nikkei 225, has fallen 599 points or 2.88% to a level of 20,110. Financial Times has the article Greece referendum plan jolts world markets.

This is delicious irony, as the EU tries to punish Greece, but the investors outside of Greece are being hit really hard. The hardest hit investors might be the very people who are trying to punish Greece. This is the clearest example of the too big to fail syndrome. If someone owes you a little bit of money, you can hold them hostage to their debt. On the other hand, if someone owes you a lot of money, they can hold you hostage to their debt.

The BBC article EU chief feels ‘betrayed’ by Greece is even more hysterically funny. You don’t even have to read the article. Reading the headline is funny enough.

Bernie Sanders Confronts Alan Greenspan

Women For Bernie Sanders has this great video that they have assembled.

Watch Bernie Sanders tell Alan Greenspan, in 2003, that Americans are not living the way that Mr. Greenspan imagines they are.

Then just 5 years later Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, admits that there is a flaw in his ideology.

I could say, “Pay no attention to the man behind Bernie’s left shoulder”, but you would be missing a minor amusing part of this video if you did.

Bernie Sanders Tames George Stephanopoulos   Recently updated !

I just love the way Bernie Sanders tames the pundits. This one is Gerorge Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent who has risen quickly in the polls for the 2016 Democratic nomination, predicted with confidence Sunday that he’ll secure the nomination and be elected president next year.

In the past, I have been most upset at some reputed progressive politicians who can’t figure out how to respond to public attacks on our principles. Bernie is exceptionally good at turning back the attacks into reasonable explanations of what is right and good about progressive ideas. He handled the gun issue fabulously in this interview.

As for getting more support from the Hispanic Community, watch the interview Precandidato Bernie Sanders reacciona a polémicas declaraciones de Donald Trump. Or as Google translates “Bernie Sanders candidate reacts to controversial statements of Donald Trump”

Momentum turns against the Confederate battle flag   Recently updated !

MSNBC has the amazing interview shown below. This is a segment of All In with Chris Hayes 6/23/15 where you can see what came before this interview at 12:10 into the episode.

Crooks and Liars has an article Jack Hunter, Former ‘Southern Avenger’, Repudiates Former Hateful Stance that quotes some of the article mentioned in the interview.

Speaking to Chris Hayes Tuesday, Hunter repeated these same points and went on to discuss his revulsion at the events in McKinney, Texas, where a policeman manhandled a 14-year old girl. From his column:

A 14-year-old black girl attending a pool party in McKinney, Texas, had been manhandled and thrown to the ground by a police officer. The girl had done nothing except talk. She was just standing there with other teenagers.

It was revolting to watch. I asked others to imagine it was their daughter.

The Daily Beast article mentioned in the interview and the Crooks and Liars article is The ‘Southern Avenger’ Repents: I Was Wrong About the Confederate Flag.

Thanks to Tangelia Sinclair-Moore for the post on her Facebook page. The video lived up to her promise.