Yearly Archives: 2016

The Locust Economy

Ribbonfarm has the article The Locust Economy.

The war between the 1% and 99% seems to play out with the 1% and the 90% collaborating to prey on the 9% in the middle — the Jeffersonian middle class.

The article is rather long, but I found the writing entertaining enough to keep me interested. It is also very educational.

Ironically, my sharing this post with you is participating in the locust horde.

I don’t want to be a locust on the internet. I keep promoting the idea of how people can defend themselves from locusts like me, but they don’t seem to catch on. Perhaps one day they will wake up to how things have to change. See my previous post Monetizing Internet Content – A Working Example.

Thanks to João Geada for sharing this locust article on his Facebook page.

Nearly 95% of all new jobs during Obama era were part-time, or contract

Investing.Com has the article Nearly 95% of all new jobs during Obama era were part-time, or contract.

The research by economists Lawrence Katz of Harvard University and Alan Krueger at Princeton University shows that the proportion of workers throughout the U.S., during the Obama era, who were working in these kinds of temporary jobs, increased from 10.7% of the population to 15.8%.

I don’t know if this article is reporting accurately. The study to which they refer is described in a paper The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015. This paper, published in March 2016 is only 35 pages or so, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. If it says what this article claims it says, then this explains why so many prople are not so thrilled with Obama’s economic “recovery”.

The Global War on Cash – Lessons from History

Naked Capitalism has the very interesting article, The Global War on Cash – Lessons from History.

If payments systems users were that eager to adopt non-physical cash, they would have done so by now. Attempts to provide alternatives date back 25 years or more. Yet physical notes and coins remain in circulation and are the only legal tender in most jurisdictions.

Physical cash’s variable unit costs are progressive — the less wealth you have, the less of the systemic costs is passed onto you as a currency user. Stored-value card systems impose a cost on users and that cost is regressive — the less wealth you have, the higher the unit cost becomes.

Smartphone, “app” and NFC/virtualisation based systems impose an even bigger cost on users due to the high up-front purchase price of a smartphone. Even in cultures which have exhibited a fondness for novelty, technological advances and gadgetry like Japan, a payment system based on smartphones, apps and NFC technology have not proved to be transformative to the payments systems in that country.

I have led a nearly cashless life for many years. I have always realized that this works well for me because I am a free rider in the system. I always pay my credit card bills in full and on time, so I get a free loan from the credit card company for the time between when I make a purchase and when I have to pay the bill. I get the credit card for free. The people who carry credit card balances and pay high interest rates to the credit card companies are the ones paying for all the free stuff I get. This works so well for me, that I have never given much thought to the reality that this Naked Capitalism article discusses. As long as it still works for me, I am going to continue to take the free ride. However, what has never occurred to me before is that when the free ride is over, the old system may no longer exist for me to return to.

Do Not Turn a Political Defeat Into A Disaster 1

Naked Capitalism has the very important article too subtly titled A Strategic Thought posted on December 21, 2016 by J.D. Alt

Even though the fiscal-austerity position was a political ploy, it is still very much stuck in the thinking and rhetoric of the House and Senate Republicans. If the progressives come out first, and early―before Trump has an opportunity to reframe their allegiance―the Tea-Party politicians, who built their reputations by refusing to increase the federal debt ceiling, will have no choice but to, once again, loudly denounce and denigrate the spending proposals. If that happens, it will be much more difficult for Trump to initiate the secret weapon of every authoritarian populist government around the world: giving direct cash payments, stipends, and rebates to the unemployed and under-employed voters―transforming them into vehemently loyal supporters. (This is precisely what is happening today in Poland.)

This post was preceded by a video posted on New Economic Perspectives and titled Bill Clinton’s Surplus: Not Something to Celebrate.

If people could only learn this principle of economics, we could have an historic opportunity to prevent the Trump presidency from becoming a prelude to a turn toward a disaster that happened in Germany when Adolf Hitler rose to power.

It is enough that we failed to take advantage of a possible historic opportunity when people like Elizabeth Warren failed to endorse Bernie Sanders early enough to change the course of the recent election. So here is a proposal to still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately, I am fairly confident that our country will miss this opportunity, too.

Trump Didn’t Win The Election… Hillary Lost It.

YouTube has The Young Turks video Trump Didn’t Win The Election… Hillary Lost It.

The populist wave is here. Democrats can either ride it to victory or be crushed by it. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down.

Cenk Uygur quotes some statistics that show what I have suspected. There was no ground swell of voters for Trump. There were a whole bunch of voters who were so disgusted with both candidates that they did not vote. More of the possible Democratic voters did not vote than possible Republican voters. Plus 17% of the Trump voters thought he was not qualified, but they were so disgusted with Hillary as an option that they voted for Trump anyway.

These are facts that the Hillary supporters still refuse to believe. They are still trying to blame every other thing in sight. It’s not the elephant in the room they are ignoring. It is the big honking mirror that they refuse to look into.

The worst part of it is that some of these Hillary supporters want her to run again in 2020.

Practical Issue In Doing Away With The Electoral College

I have just thought of a practical issue that people might want to think about when they call for abolishing the idea of an electoral college. This really only applies to the fact that the vote in each state determines how many electoral college votes a candidate gets.

Imagine if all that matters for choosing the President is the totals in the nationwide vote. If the vote is very close, does that mean we need a nation-wide recount of all the votes? As it is now, we are more likely to only need recounts in a small number of states where the vote is close.

If people get their further wish for hand counted ballots, then that’s a lot of ballots to recount. Of course, I believe that electronic ballots can be counted more honestly, let alone just as honestly, as hand counted ballots if the system were designed from the start to promote honest elections. Such a system bears little resemblance to the electronic voting that we have today. See my previous post Making Electronic Voting Transparent for a description of such an honest electronic system.

If Obama Had Prosecuted Goldman Sachs’ Brain Trust, We Wouldn’t Be Plagued by Them Again in Trump’s Cabinet

Alternet has the interesting article If Obama Had Prosecuted Goldman Sachs’ Brain Trust, We Wouldn’t Be Plagued by Them Again in Trump’s Cabinet.

I’ll rearrange an excerpt from the article to put the emphasis where I think it belongs.

United States history features notable crackdowns after vast financial scandals. After the crash of 1929, the head of the New York Stock Exchange went to jail and the savings-and-loan scandals of the 1980s produced over 1,000 prosecutions.

[but despite this history] many chalk up President Obama’s lack of action to business-as-usual in Washington.

Well, this article is one more indication that Obama himself has brought on this disaster for us. Are we supposed to thank him, and cheer for him on his way out of office?

Trump Told China to “Keep The Drone.” China’s Response Is Chilling

Occupy Democrats has a silly article, Trump Told China to “Keep The Drone.” China’s Response Is Chilling. This article is typical of Occupy Democrats these days.

What might the “lessons” China seeks to teach Trump be? Economic retaliation? A provocative military posture?

Maybe China will stop selling their goods to us and stop stealing our jobs? Perhaps China will try to have a massive sale of its $300 billion in US bonds so that they drive down their value and become worthless to the Chinese.

Maybe we should continue our current foreign policy of refusing to cooperate with Russia in our common interests, and cow-towing to the Chinese to forsake our friends in Taiwan.

Or maybe, just maybe, Donald Trump actually knows how to fix both situations. We have become so fixated on judging Donald Trump as being incompetent we have lost our ability to recognize when he might have a good idea or two. Maybe two is all the good ideas he has, but let’s not paint ourselves into the corner of having to oppose everything he proposes. That would be like the Republican reaction to Obama.

Clinton Would Be A More Dangerous President Than Trump

I believe that using the electoral college to overturn an election result we don’t like is such a bad precedent that I have unsubscribed from because they are pursuing this line of action. The recent pronouncement of the Obama administration about Russian hacking is so dangerous that I would prefer to see Donald Trump be sworn into office than have Clinton/Obama be put into office in his stead. The lies about Syria that they have been duping us with is another reason why I think any establishment politician from either party would make a dangerous President at this time. I know it is unlikely, but at this point Donald Trump may be our best hope for avoiding the next war. Whatever other damage he may do to the country may not be as bad as letting ourselves be goaded into a war.

We can recover from a depression or more income inequality, but a nuclear war with Russia may not be something we would ever recover from.

Aleppo: One More Way The U.S. Political Establishment Has Lost Control Of The Narrative

Newslogue has the article Aleppo: One More Way The U.S. Political Establishment Has Lost Control Of The Narrative by Caitlin Johnstone.

The Syrian people will soon be able to start telling their own story, and people telling their own stories never makes the U.S. political establishment look good.
The U.S. establishment completely lost control of the narrative in 2016, which saw the first ever presidential election determined by the sudden democratization of information that widespread internet access gave the American people.
What if tomorrow everyone gets together on the internet and says “You know? Money is a conceptual tool invented by humanity to help humanity, and the way it works right now isn’t serving us. Let’s all agree that money works in a completely different way from now on.” Well that would be great for us, but death for the plutocracy we all live under. The billionaires who control everything are only “billionaires” if we all agree that money works a certain way and means a certain thing.

Of course, this article’s take on Syria and Aleppo is one that I have come to realize is more real than what our media has tried to feed us. I have been posting alot about that issue recently.

The third paragraph in the above excerpt is what made me sure that I want to read more from Caitlin Johnstone. This is an idea that I have been preaching since nearly the beginning of this blog.