Monthly Archives: February 2019

US GDP exceeds expectations 1

CNBC has the story Stocks in Asia gain following stronger-than-expected US economic data

US GDP exceeds expectations

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 69.16 points to close at 25,916 and the S&P 500 shed nearly 0.3 percent to finish its trading day at 2,784.49. The Nasdaq Composite also lost about 0.3 percent to close at 7,532.53.

The losses stateside came despite the release of data which showed the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the U.S. government. That was above forecasts of economists polled by Dow Jones, who expected the economy to grow at a pace of 2.2 percent.

Maybe there are enough astute investors who realize the GDP, which grew at 2.6%, includes gains made in the FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate) Any growth in that industry is a dead weight overhead on the economy, and actually subtracts from the productive capacity of the economy.

When Trump brags about the growth of GDP, he surely hopes that most of the people in the 99% don’t know this about the GDP. Then again, maybe Donald Trump doesn’t even know that buying and selling real estate does not add anything to the economy. Building real estate does add something if it is useful for carrying out business or satisfying a real need.

Yes, there is fake news, and it comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth when he talks about stories like this one.

Bernie Repeats CIA Talking Points On Venezuela

YouTube has the Jimmy Dore video Bernie Repeats CIA Talking Points On Venezuela.

Jimmy Dore is shouting at the top of his lungs trying to get people to understand. I take it as my mission to get the word out on this. The future of the wrold may depend on our ability to put a halt on USA imperialism and our methods of laying siege to anybody who doesn’t do things the way we want. Oil and Socialism seem to be the hot buttons for the USA. Having a certain amount of socialism in a mixed economy is necessary to keep the oligarchs from having total control. If we let the USA oligarchs, and oligarchs around the world, wipe out even the possibility of some socialism, we will return our civilization back to the days of feudal lords.

Does Socialism Affect Freedom?

YouTube has the David Harvey video Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: Does Socialism Affect Freedom?.

This is not an exact quote, but it is how I remember his point – Socialism is the idea of providing basic necessities through the public domain. This fits in quite nicely with my previous post – The Roles of Capitalism and Socialism in a Mixed Economy. In fact, you might learn more by looking at both posts. This one may explain some things in the other post, and the other post may explain some things in this post. It’s not a matter of which one you see first.

Bernie Sanders Works To Defeat Himself

I have been saying that Bernie Sanders needs to look at what is going on in Venezuela as an object lesson in what the oligarchs in the USA will try to do to him when he becomes President. In Venezuela, the people against Maduro are the oligarchs of Venezuela. They are manufacturing undemocratic opposition to Maduro because their democratic opposition failed to unseat Maduro.

The USA has been fighting Chavez and Maduro in Venezuela for 20 years for two reasons. First and foremost our oil oligarchs want to take back control of Venezuela’s oil. Second, the USA has to prove that socialism is a failure as an economic system. The USA has done this in Cuba and Nicaragua, and now they are doing this in Venezuela.

As Bernie Sanders proudly declares that he is a Democratic Socialist, the USA oligarchs see Venezuela as the perfect political tool to prove that Socialism does not work. If they have to lay siege to Venezuela to make that point, they have no hesitation.

As I have been saying for quite a while, a true political leader changes what is politically possible. Bernie Sanders did a wonderful job of that with his 2016 campaign and subsequent initiatives. Venezuela is how the oligarchs fight back to close off the possibilities that Sanders has been working so hard to open up.

My previous post The Roles of Capitalism and Socialism in a Mixed Economy is all about how the oligarchs have been twisting economic theory for over 50 years to hide the fact that capitalism without socialism is how the oligarchs take control of all wealth and income.

How can Bernie Sanders not see any of this? Why would he ignore the chance to make an issue of what we have been doing to Venezuela for 20 years? When he talks about Venezuela, he never mentions what the USA has been doing to sink their experiment with Socialism. He wants to offer humanitarian aid to Venezuela without saying that lifting our siege on that country would be the greatest humanitarian aid we could possibly give. As with any ism like capitalism or socialism, you can do it right, or you can do it wrong. Bernie does not have to defend the way that Chavez and Maduro have done the job. All he has to do is defend their right to find out how to make socialism work in their country. Whether they succeed or fail in a fair test of their ideas, we can learn something. If their experiment is sabotaged by the USA, we will learn nothing except how to sabotage another country’s efforts to govern themselves. The USA has had plenty of practice doing that.

March 30, 2019

Here is the very disappointing response that I received.

The Ecological Impacts of a Border Wall

The Environmental Law Institute has the article The Ecological Impacts of a Border Wall.

Often lost in discussions of efficacy and payment relating to the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall is what would happen to the environment if a concrete divider were placed across a nearly-2,000 mile swath of habitat. While wall-like barriers already stand on hundreds of miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, expanding to a full-border wall would constitute a massive transformation of the rest of the United States’ southern borderlands, posing substantial threats to the wildlife that roam the area.

The Roles of Capitalism and Socialism in a Mixed Economy

In the book J is For Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception by Michael Hudson, there is a section that has a relatively simple explanation of the value of having a mixed economy that includes socialism and capitalism. (I have taken the liberty to change the punctuation of lists to match the style I find most readable. I have also fixed a minor typographical error. I hope I haven’t introduced any errors of my own.)

How many participants in today’s economy understand this way the economy ought to work to be “efficient”? How many people really understand what “free” means in the term “free market”?

Intrinsic cost-value vs. value-free rentier price theory

Factories and farms that produce commodities are different from rent-extractors who set up monopolies as legal tollbooths to charge for access to land, water, and other natural resources, or for credit, roads, and other infrastructure, or drug company patents and information technology. The costs of tangible capital investment in industry and agriculture ultimately can be resolved into the expense of labor to make products, the machinery that produces them, and the raw materials, or other inputs needed for their production. But land rent, natural resource rent, monopoly rent, interest, and financial fees have no intrinsic cost, except that of paying lawyers and lobbying politicians for favors and privileges. The resulting technologically unnecessary charges add to the prices without reflecting real value based on cost of producing the “service” being provided.

That is why socialist economies can adopt technology and operate with lower costs of living and doing business, They are free from having to bear a rentier overhead. This is the kind of free market that classical economists wanted. It is industrial capitalism at its most efficient. It can only exist in a mixed economy,which is now vilified as socialist – which was not a bad word in the 19th century. The question was, into what kind of socialism was capitalism evolving? Into a mixed economy of state socialism, Christian socialism, a utopian plan such as the Fourier communities, or labor socialism?

Whatever the answer, certain common denominators spanned the reform spectrum on classical moral philosophy that viewed economic rent as socially coercive and unfair as well as unnecessary for applying the new industrial technologies.

Landlords, monopolists, and other vested interests defended their privilege to charge what “the market” will bear by denying that there is any such thing as unearned income. High prices that included heavy economic rents were viewed as reflecting consumer “utility” – otherwise, users of monopolies and renters simply would not pay the prices being charged (assuming that they have a “choice” not to eat or live in a dwelling).

The proverbial “idle rich” and other recipients of economic rent applaud economists who depict them as productive and even necessary for society to function. Rentier income and wealth is supposed to “reward” its beneficiaries in proportion to what they are assumed to contribute to the economy’s output. This is the economic theory of John Bates Clark and his followers. It assumes that everyone earns whatever income and wealth they manage to obtain, regardless of how they do this.

The resulting orthodoxy depicts finance, insurance, and real estate as part of the GDP, not as a subtrahend or transfer payment from the economy to rent takers. This practice rejects any distinction between intrinsic value and market price, or between productive labor and credit compared to “zero-sum transactions.”

To cap matters, any transaction is said to be a voluntary exercise in choice by definition – even borrowing to avoid starvation, or sleeping under a bridge. Accepting at face value whatever “the market” obliges consumers and investors to pay for a house, education, or food in a famine sidesteps the classical focus on the extent to which an economy can minimize prices for its services, housing, and other goods or assets. The key for classical economists was to change the tax laws and regulate monopoly prices to bring them into line with “real” costs of production, and indeed to provide goods and services at public subsidy. Today’s economic mainstream has rejected the analytic framework and even the ideology necessary to do this. “Value-free” theory lacks any criterion for regulation. For deregulators, that is its political virtue.

Mozilla partners with news subscription service Scroll to build an ad-free internet

The Verge has the article Mozilla partners with news subscription service Scroll to build an ad-free internet.

Scroll is an upcoming news subscription service that promises to let you read all your favorite news websites ad-free in exchange for a monthly fee.

I am glad to see this finally happening. I first suggested this idea in April 2010 in the post Monetizing Internet Content.

Other posts that I have made on this topic include the following.

  1. Why Does John Oliver Not Know How To Monetize Internet Content?
  2. Monetizing Internet Content – A Working Example
  3. Monetizing Internet Content – One More Time
  4. Monetizing Internet Content – Refresher Course

September 1, 2020

I have signed up for a trial subscription to Scroll. I think this could change the face of the internet in ways I have been advocating for quite a while. See my list of previous posts that is shown above. In that list, I have posts from as early as 2014.

Why Socialism is Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Bernie Sanders’ explanation, the other night on the meaning of Socialism (Democratic Socialism) was far too complicated. I think our Declaration of Independence explained it very nicely.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Socialism happens when people in a country gather together in government to preserve those inalienable rights. If a powerful bully tries take away people’s right to pursue happiness, then the people’s government steps in to prevent the powerful bully from interfering with our inalienable rights. A country that would stand by, and let a powerful bully take away those rights for some of its residents is not a country living up to the promise of our own Declaration of Independence. Anybody who would promote the right to rob others of their rights is not being true to the social contract we rightfully believe we have all agreed to.

How did we forget what our founders thought was self-evident?

MintPress News Debunks Falsified Narratives About Venezuela.

Oneness Of Humanity has the article MintPress News Debunks Falsified Narratives About Venezuela.

Venezuela coup d’état shill Joanna Hausmann failed to disclose she is the daughter of Ricardo Hausmann, member of the board of the central bank of Venezuela during the 1980s/90s and Chair of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Development Committee – before the Venezuelan people roundly rejected his failed neo-liberal economic and financial policies, and elected Hugo Chavez president in 1999.

So reports MintPress News’ investigative journalist Kei Pritzker … in a devastating, calmly understated, smart and tough debunking of the repugnant lying-narrative “sales pitch” deployed in United States President Donald Trump’s attempt to illegally overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro.

YouTube has Kei Pritzker’s video A Millennial’s Guide to Promoting Regime Change In Venezuela that was embedded in the above article.