The StingRay Is Exactly Why the 4th Amendment Was Written

Foundation For Economic Education has the article The StingRay Is Exactly Why the 4th Amendment Was Written.

Police have the power to collect your location along with the numbers of your incoming and outgoing calls and intercept the content of call and text communication. They can do all of this without you ever knowing about it.

I was horrified to read this article. I wanted to do an independnt check of the veracity of this story. Rather than use the links in the aricle, I did my own Google search.

YouTube has the video How StingRay cellphone surveillance devices work from The Washigton Post.

The ACLU has the article Stingray Tracking Devices: Who’s Got Them?.

WikiPedia has this article Stingray phone tracker.

I am now convinced that this is a real threat.

Max Blumenthal on why Hillary Clinton smeared Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein   Recently updated !

YouTube has the video Max Blumenthal on why Hillary Clinton smeared Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein.

Hillary Clinton has smeared Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein as Russian assets, and almost no Democratic politicians are pushing back. Max Blumenthal says that Clinton’s comments reflect a continued effort by Democratic neo-liberals to deflect responsibility for their loss to Trump in 2016; marginalize voices like Gabbard and Stein’s who challenge their pro-war, corporatist agenda; and preview their potential future attacks on Bernie Sanders.

The real test of Bernie Sanders’ courage will come in the presence or absence of his defense of Tulsi Gabbard. If he continues his mouthing of the Russiagate propaganda, he will be brought down by his own timidity in foreign affairs.

Sanders: I Wouldn’t Make Obama’s Mistake of Shutting Down Grassroots Pressure on Washington

The Intercept has the article Sanders: I Wouldn’t Make Obama’s Mistake of Shutting Down Grassroots Pressure on Washington.

The debate over the fate of Obama for America, Obama’s campaign arm, goes back to 2008, when Obama adjudicated an internal dispute within his operation by mothballing the organization and folding it under the auspices of the Democratic National Committee, which itself was forbidden from pressuring Democrats to push Obama’s agenda. Some in his orbit argued that Obama’s insider approach to the presidency needed to be complemented by robust outside pressure from grassroots organizers. But Obama believed that he and his team, led by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, would be able to work more effectively with moderates and Republicans if grassroots activists weren’t pressuring them from the outside. That turned out not to be the case.

The above quotation is what motivates me to post this own my blog. I have had people deny that Obama did any such thing as mentioned in this quotation. The next time someone denies this when I bring it up, I will have this post to put before them.

Also, that’s “our” Richard Neal they talk about in the article. In my years with the Sturbridge Democratic Town Committee, they were so afraid of offending Richard Neal that they wouldn’t even entertain the thought of giving a challenger a platform to speak. I hope this comes back to haunt them.

Life in Sturbridge is just too cushy for some people to realize that there are people who are hurting very badly from years of neoliberal policies of the Democratic Party.

In 2015, I tried to tell them that there were people in this country who despised Hillary Clinton. They thought I was nuts. They probably still believe that Hillary lost because of Russia.

The People’s Money (Part 2)

New Economic Perspectives has the article The People’s Money (Part 2).

You will be amazed at how much smarter you become when you read this. The words are fairly simple, but they are so far from what you have been told to believe that you might have to read it slowly and then reread it.

Here is a sample to get you started.

The overarching purpose of the Federal Reserve Act was to enable “money” to be created, as necessary, to support the scale of commerce that American Enterprise decides to undertake and accomplish. If the labor, materials, energy, technology, and ingenuity exist to do something—and it is desirable that it should be done—it is illogical to say it can’t be done because there isn’t enough “money” in the system to pay for the doing of it.

Facts and Factoids   Recently updated !

Politifact pretended to do some fact checking in the article Rand Paul’s claim about taxes went over poorly on The View, but it was pretty accurate.

“We’ve taken the poor off of the rolls. They don’t pay income tax any more. Most people below $50,000 don’t pay any income tax,” Paul said during the Oct. 11 episode. “The top 1 percent in our country pay 40%.”

This is what I call a factoid. It is a fact out of context that is supposed to engender a certain feeling in you. If you put it in the context of the percentage of income and wealth that the top 1% has, then it would not seem like the rich are overburdened. The panel on the TV show The View are just not qualified to present useful information to the public about the subject. What is the morality of pretending that they are qualified? How many people know that The View is a case of the uninformed trying to inform others who are uninformed?

Here is a piece of context that Politifact added.

The picture shifts once you include other types of federal taxation. Those below $50,000 still pay a small share of the full federal tax burden, but the share paid by the top 1% falls to about 30%

Here is something from 2007 data in a 2012 article from The Dreaded New York TImes, Measuring the Top 1% by Wealth, Not Income.

But an analysis of the Fed data is still revealing in that it shows the wealth gap, as measured by net worth, is much more extreme than the chasm as measured by income.

This is another excerpt from the 2007 data. Remember that inequality has grown significantly since 2007 before the economic crash.

The wealthiest 1 percent took in about 16 percent of overall income — 8 percent of the money earned from salaries and wages, but 36 percent of the income earned from self-employment.

I still have not found the figure that gives the percentage of wealth owned by the top 1%. Remember that the wealth grows as stock prices rise, but until the stock is sold, the paper gain is not considered income. It is “unrealized” capital gains that do not get taxed.

Here is some info from the WikiPedia article Wealth inequality in the United States.

Just prior to President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address, media[7] reported that the top wealthiest 1% possess 40% of the nation’s wealth; the bottom 80% own 7%; similarly, but later, the media reported, the “richest 1 percent in the United States now own more additional income than the bottom 90 percent”.[8] The gap between the top 10% and the middle class is over 1,000%; that increases another 1,000% for the top 1%.

Economic Update: Worker Co-Ops, Socialism’s Future   Recently updated !

YouTube has the video Economic Update: Worker Co-Ops, Socialism’s Future.

If you learned about socialism in the 20th century, or heard the propaganda about it that continues, then perhaps it will be a good idea to learn what it means now. Socialism is changing in ways that most people in the USA don’t know.

I was wondering if Bernie Sanders is even aware of these changes. Then I thought about his experiences in his youth with a kibbutz in Israel. I’m no expert on the way a kibbutz works, but I suspect there is a lot of similarity to what Richard Wolff describes in this talk (only as far as how production was organized).

Here is a little snippet from a Wikipedia article on Bernie Sanders.

In 1963 Sanders and Deborah Shiling Messing, whom he met in college, volunteered for several months on the Israeli kibbutz Sha’ar HaAmakim.

The People’s Money (Part 1)   Recently updated !

New Economic Perspectives has the article The People’s Money (Part 1).

The Federal Reserve System, then, was cobbled together to solve these three problems. No one claimed it was the perfect solution. There were many compromises made to reach consensus in in the U.S. Congress. The banking interests didn’t want politics and the government to run the show. The government didn’t want the bankers to have exclusive control over something that the common good, ultimately, depended on. The FED, then, became a partnership—partially under the banker’s control, partly under the control of the federal government.

I think this is a pretty good description of how money works in the USA. See if you find anything in this description that you didn’t already know. If you have questions, then there are answers. The discussion can happen on my Facebook post, or you can join the conversation on New Economic Perspectives.

Did We Abandon The Kurds?

YouTube has the video Did We Abandon The Kurds?

This is an education you probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Now that Kim Iverson has done the research and made this presentation to us, it wouldn’t surprise me if other independent journalists start telling you similar stories. She starts out hyping the story, and all her hype turns out to be true. This story will change your minds about a lot of things you thought you knew.

I think the lesson is that we should never promise an ally that we will support them in anything and everything they choose to do. We should certainly not make such promises to someone who happens to align with our interests on one issue at a moment in time. Even if Donald Trump is the only one who seems to recognize that the love affair is over and we need to go our separate ways, he may turn out to be right.

All Things Co-op: Mondragon

Mondragon is a very large cooperative business that started in the Basque region of Spain. It is hard for me to get a really solid understanding of how it works. So I grab at opportunities to learn more. This doesn’t answer every question I can think of, but it does push my thinking in a direction that I might find will be very productive. If it does not keep pushing me in a productive direction, I will just lose interest in it. I have found that education is a process of accumulating information. This blog is one of my repositories of accumulated information.

Democracy At Work published the podcast All Things Co-op: Mondragon.

Spreading the Gospel of Modern Monetary Theory

The New Republic has the article Spreading the Gospel of Modern Monetary Theory.

It is a very good article, but I want you to go into reading the article with the following caution firmly in mind.

A government that issues its own currency cannot run out of money in any real sense and needn’t rely on taxation or budget cuts to make up funding shortfalls. The true limit on spending isn’t the numbers on federal balance sheets but inflation, which MMT proponents argue can be managed by taxation and other policy mechanisms.

All the above is exactly true, but somehow the implications of the message still get lost. We need taxes to control inflation. If we spend and spend until the economy recovers to the point where we need more taxation, it will take too long to get increased taxation through Congress. That’s why now is when we need to introduce the ideas of more steeply graduated tax, fewer exemptions for the wealthy, and a wealth tax. These taxes need also to be flexible to accommodate current economic conditions. (Or maybe it is the government spending that needs to be flexible. Or both)