frankilin roosevelt

It's not about being liberal or conservative anymore y'all. That is a hype offered by the fascist whores who want to confuse the people with lies while they turn this country into an aristocratic police state. Some people will say anything to attain power and money. There is no such thing as the Liberal Media, but the Corporate media is very real.



Check out my old  Voice of the People page.


Gino Napoli
San Francisco, California
High School Math Teacher

jonsdarc@mindspring.com




Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.

a middle-aged
George Washington



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Tuesday, 14 October 2008 at 19h 47m 30s

Funny comic about ATM machine


Image courtesy of sinfest.net.


Tuesday, 14 October 2008 at 19h 31m 28s

Wierd journalists named Balz

Dan Balz, putative journalist of the Washington Post.

My comments will be italicized and contained within brackets [ ... ].


By Dan Balz

For the past two weeks, the focus of the presidential campaign has been on John McCain. [really now, by what measurable metric do you use to cast this assertion? The focus from WHOM?] Given the state of the race, it may well stay there for a while. [Are you serious? It might stay where you presumed without proof to be located? Indeedy.]What can McCain do? Should he attack more? Should he go all positive? Can he come back?

[Yes lets think like we are on McCain's team. Should he ATTACK what? And going all positive means ... he was going all negative? Negative? Postitive? WTF are you talking about? ... You mean: Should he tell the truth? Should he lie about Obama's past and mis-characterize his policy statements?

With 22 days left in the race, that's understandable. McCain is the focus because what was thought to be a close race doesn't look like one at this moment. [Oh that makes sense ... because people thought something was going to happen, they now have to explain why they were complete morons by focusing on the wrong topics at the wrong time.]Which is all the more reason that the real focus now ought to be on Barack Obama.

The Illinois senator has been the political beneficiary of one of the worst months of economic news in the country's history. Since the fall of Lehman Brothers, Obama has expanded his lead and solidified his position in the presidential race.

He leads nationally in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll by 53 percent to 43 percent. He leads, too, by a wide margin in estimates of the Electoral College. Virtually all of the closest states left at this point voted for President Bush four years ago.

The presidential race is not over, but at this point, Obama has a better chance of becoming president than McCain, and as a result, the questions ought to be going toward him as much or more than McCain -- questions not of tactics but of substance.

[Questions of substance? Oh my, yes let's ask those substantial questions much much more, why don't we. Might what these questions be?]

Obama has dealt deftly with the economic crisis -- at least in a political sense. Unlike McCain, he was fairly calm during the first days after Lehman's collapse and the government bailout of AIG.

He stayed in close contact with Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke and with Democratic congressional leaders. He both embraced the sense of urgency to act on the $700 billion bailout package and offered criticisms of the administration's initially sketchy plan. His criticisms were in line with changes that Congress made before eventually approving the package.

But it's not clear that he has had any better ideas -- or put them forward more aggressively -- than Paulson and Bernanke when it comes to dealing with the crisis in the credit markets. It's not clear that he has pushed ideas that would have dealt with the crisis more effectively. At every turn, he has voiced support for the general course the administration has outlined, but he's not been far out ahead.

[Are those questions of substance coming anytime soon? And Wait, did I catch that ... Are you really implying Paulson and Bernanke had better ideas? What ideas would those be? And are you calling Paulson's blatantly vague lack of oversight an aggressive pursuit of ideas, without mentioning that Paulson worked for Goldman Sachs up until 2 years ago and was instrumental in laying the foundation for this economic mess? You say that Obama voiced support but hasn't been far out ahead? Ahead of what, and of whom? Two scared idiots who dress up in suits and make bad decisions?

Do you mean media outlets haven't played Obama's spoken words more than they have rushed to make the administration look like wise old sages who are aggressive and have better ideas. What a waste of a paragraph. Are you going to state what Obama has said, or just make this blanket ambiguous insinuations you call questions?

Nor is it evident that he has dealt realistically with the impact the economic crisis may have on the next president. He has not backed away from ambitious plans for a second stimulus package, for dramatically expanding health care, for reducing dependence on foreign oil or for other spending plans that long have been part of his campaign agenda.

[That's what a thought, you will make blanket statements of ambiguous insinuation. Are we asking those questions of substance yet?

He's backed away from saying what he has already stated publicly according to what reference frame. Faux journalists refuse to remember -- because frankly it gets in the way of your real intentions. Or you are just too lazy to do the homework, and would rather pontificate your biases underneath a ruse of questions.

Changing circumstances have not changed his view of what can or should be done if he becomes president. It would be helpful to voters to know now, rather than after the election, whether he will take a zero-based look at everything and rearrange priorities.

[Yes it would be helpful Mr. Balz if you could provide that education, rather than wobbling left and right while you make ambiguous insinuations of empty details. I thought you were gonna ask questions of substance.]

It is hard to think of a new president who inherited such a rapidly altered landscape. Franklin Roosevelt inherited a country in crisis, but the crash on Wall Street began years before he was elected in 1932. The 44th president's world has been turned upside down in a matter of months, and literally on the eve of the election.

How adaptable is Obama to all of this? How willing is he to address these questions in real time, as opposed to later? How much time has he given recently to rethinking the scope and ambition of a possible Obama administration? Would he come to office with a determination to be bold or to be cautious? Is he the pragmatist that allies have suggested -- or committed to a more ideologically oriented agenda, as his critics say?

[Again, nothing here educates the reader about the issues you stated to be important for voters to know. Would he do this? Would he do that? What does your speculations about the future have to do with elucidation of factual information? That's what journalists do. Mr. Balz however decides to speculate.]

Other questions that ought to be raised include what his commitment to bipartisanship amounts to at this point. He has talked about turning the page on old politics throughout his campaign. What does that mean?

[Really, what does that history of bipartisanship that Mr. Balz won't detail amount to? What does it mean when Mr. Balz prefers to insinuate and write empty speculation rather than inform his readers of silly historical details?]

All hard-fought campaigns become more partisan toward the end, but how much would that color Obama's approach, should he end up in the Oval Office? Will he hew closely to the wishes of Democratic congressional leaders or will he demonstrate some independence from them in an effort show the country what he might to do create a broader coalition as president? Will he do anything before the election to signal what he thinks?

[So has Obama not signaled what he thinks already, over the last 19 months? Is that one of your substantial questions? By implication, Mr. Balz is planting the notion that Obama has not signaled what he thinks, even while he hasn't offered any proof that this question has any merit. Will he do some signaling? Why is that important? You could provide the details of what Obama has said he would do in the past, and then speculate on these prior statements. But no, doing that kinda research is too much for an overpaid moron who can type. Speculation without providing the reader something with which to speculate from is called circuitous emptiness.]

McCain has begun this week with a fresh stump speech, a "fighting McCain" persona and the determination of an underdog, which is always where he is most comfortable. Speaking in Virginia Beach on Monday morning, he said with a smile:

[Hey now, he's a fighter with a smile, watch out. He's determined. Unlike Obama, McCain doesn't have to signal. He's got a fresh stump speech even.]

"We have 22 days to go. We're 6 points down. The national media has written us off. Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq. But they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them."

His criticisms of Obama were not personal, as they've sometimes been in the past week, but substantive. He hopes to claw his way back into the race and he hopes that the polls could tighten as Election Day nears, and that, if that happens, the voters will take yet another look at their choices.

[You hear that. Mr. Balz won't quantify McCain's criticisms of Obama more than half of a sentence in a complete 2 sentence quote. He won't even provide an unbiased veracity of the claims. But rest assured that Mr. Balz finds them substantive not personal. And that's a really big deal. Because that's how we get the polls to tighten, eh Mr. Balz. We squeeze the discussion of policy positions into 2 words and leave out all historical details in order to throw out conjectures and questions.

Accordingly, these substantive issues are : "to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq." Are you kidding me? Those are the big 4 issues of substance?]

McCain has been criticized for raising questions about Obama that were seen as questioning his patriotism or his commitment to the values the country holds dear. But there ought not to be any moratorium on asking hard questions of both candidates right now, and especially of the Democratic nominee who sits in the pole position heading into the final three weeks.

[Is that all McCain has been criticized for? Not acting like a fool when he first suspended then unsuspended his campaign. Not accepting lobbyists into his campaign like whores trawling the Las Vegas clientele. Not his flagrant flip-flopping on almost every issue he's ever taken up over the last 20 plus years as a public official.

We should ask hard questions of both candidates, right Mr. Balz? Questions like : how many lobbyists does MrCain have on his staff? And why was he the only Senator of the Keating 5 who had financial relations with Keating and flew free on Keating's jets? After all, didn't you say you wanted to ask questions of substance?]


[SOURCE: Dan Balz | Washington Post | 13 October 2008]

The article is called "Questioning Obama". It Should be called, "Empty questions and an Attempt to blow life into the McCain plane wreck".

Mr. Balz is a pathetic journalist. He could have spent the entire scope of this article educating the public about the difference between 3 or 4 various policy choices. Instead he develops a narrative about Obama benefiting from the drama of the economic meltdown and casts various speculations about the thought process of Obama and what he might do or not do in the future. He puts a false assertion that Obama hasn't signaled what he thinks yet. Then he transitions how the McCain camp is on the rebound, fending of those who said he shouldn't have questioned Obama's patriotism or his committment to American values.

Not one quote from Obama. Not once was a policy position from Obama ever stated, and the only reference to a policy position by McCain was in the two sentence quote Mr. Balz chose to use towards the end of his article. Mr. Balz cries much about voters needing to know things, and how hard questions should be asked, and then Mr. Balz promptly refuses to give the voters what they need know while asking silly questions.

Mr. Balz is not a journalist. He's a framer of events who is hired to craft conjectures of events without providing any knowledge. He puts questions into the air, without bothering to evince an answer because the questions are really insinuations. They are frail incorrigible distractions from the details of history that Mr. Balz can't be bothered to research or read. Instead he blows air bubbles of speculation, all of which pop moments latter, leaving a residue of bias. The entire structure of the article is meant to leave a negative opinion of Obama. It's a sordid opinion piece without any substance, that plants slander like little innocent seeds by asking suggestive questions like a little brat who refuses to answer the first question before bombarding his adversaries with 20 more.

In other words, he's an con artist.


Monday, 13 October 2008 at 11h 57m 17s

McCain's ear-marked History

Click here to read a long list dating back to the 1980's. A lot of McCain's ear-marks for defense contractors over the years also seem to get beset by delays, lags in production, faulty manufacturing, and cost over-runs.


Sunday, 12 October 2008 at 12h 23m 14s

George Soros speaks about the Economic Crisis


Click on the icon above to open a page with the Bill Moyers interview with George Soros (It's not through YouTube, so I can't guarantee you'll get the vid pic). Here are 3 or 4 poignant, highly enlightening segments of the transcript that I liked :


BILL MOYERS:So as we talk, Secretary Paulson and the government seem to be coming around to what you've been advocating and that is taking taxpayer money, public capital, and injecting it directly into the banks — in effect, nationalizing some of these banks. Why do you think that will work when everything else has failed?

GEORGE SOROS:Well unfortunately because they are delaying it, it may not work so well because there's a certain dynamism. And they're always behind the curve. So there are many things that they're doing now if they had done several months ago, it would have turned things around.

BILL MOYERS:That's a very gloomy assessment. You're saying that everything they're doing is coming too late? How does that ultimately play out?

GEORGE SOROS:Unfortunately, that is the case. I'm quite distressed about it. I hope that you know, eventually they'll catch up.

We are determined to put the money in, not to allow the financial system to collapse. And that's the lesson we learned in the 1930s. It's an important lesson. But because we are behind the curve, the amounts get bigger and bigger. If we understood it earlier, we could have brought it to a halt perhaps sooner. But they've got still a number of things to do. And this idea, you see, of just buying noxious instruments of you know, off the balance sheet of the banks was a non-starter.

BILL MOYERS:But that was the idea.

GEORGE SOROS:But it was the wrong idea.

BILL MOYERS:But this is disturbing, George. If everything we're doing keeps accelerating the downward negative feedback and isn't working, are you suggesting, can one insinuate from what you say that we're heading for 1930?

GEORGE SOROS:Hopefully not. But we are heading for undoubtedly very difficult times. This is the end of an era. And this is a fact.

BILL MOYERS:End of an era?

GEORGE SOROS:At the end of an era.

BILL MOYERS:Capitalism as we have known it?

GEORGE SOROS:No. No, no, no. Hopefully, capitalism will survive. But the sort of period where America could actually, for instance, run ever increasing current account deficits. We could consume, at the end, six and a half percent more than we are producing. That has come to an end.

[. . . ]

GEORGE SOROS:I am very worried about it. And I hope that they will have a new secretary of treasury, somebody else.

BILL MOYERS:Sooner than later?

GEORGE SOROS:I...

BILL MOYERS:You don't think...

GEORGE SOROS:It would be very helpful if...

BILL MOYERS:You don't think Paulson's up to it?

GEORGE SOROS:Unfortunately, I have a negative view of his performance.

BILL MOYERS:Why?

GEORGE SOROS:Because he represents the very kind of financial engineering that has gotten us into the trouble. And this buying off the noxious things was a...

BILL MOYERS:Buying the bad assets, that was his...

GEORGE SOROS:Yeah.

BILL MOYERS:First idea.

GEORGE SOROS:Yeah, and before that, he wanted to create a super SIV, special investment vehicle, to take care of the other special investment vehicles. That didn't fly. And they are now within a week recognizing that they have to change and inject money into the banks to make up for the whole in the equity because those banks lost money. And they can't make it up by taking their assets off their hands. You have to recognize the losses and replenish the equity.

BILL MOYERS:Is that what you would do with the bailout money now? Right now?

GEORGE SOROS:Yes, yes, yeah.

BILL MOYERS:You would put it where?

GEORGE SOROS:Into the capital of the bank so that the capital equity can sustain at least 12 times the amount of lending. So that's an obvious thing. And every economist agrees with this.

You see, what is needed now the bank examiners know how those banks stand. And they can say how much capital they need. And they could then raise that capital from the private market. Or they could turn to this new organization and get the money from there. That would dilute the shareholders. It would hurt the shareholders.

BILL MOYERS:Of the bank?

GEORGE SOROS:Of the banks. Which I think Paulson wanted to avoid. He didn't want to go there. But it has to be done. But then, the shareholders could be offered the right to provide the new capital. If they provide the new capital then there's no dilution. And the rights could be traded. So if they don't have the money, other people could, the private sector could put in the money. And if the private sector is not willing to do it then the government does it.

BILL MOYERS:The assumption of everything you say is that the government is going to be a big player now in the economy and in the financial markets. But what assurance do we have that the government will do a better job?

GEORGE SOROS:We don't. Right now they are doing a bad job. So you want to use the government as little as possible. The government should play a smaller role. In that sense, people who believe in markets, I believe in markets. I just want them to function properly. To the extent you can use the market, you should use the market.

Governments are also human. They're also bound to be wrong. Moreover, they are bureaucratic. So they are slow and they are subject to political influence. So you want to use them as little as possible. But to not to use them, see, assumes that markets are perfect. And that is a false belief.

BILL MOYERS:Has the whole global system become so complex with such gargantuan forces interlocked with each other, driving it forward, that it doesn't know how to obey Adam Smith's natural laws?

GEORGE SOROS:No, I think our ability to govern ourselves doesn't keep pace with our ability to exercise power over nature, control over nature. So we are very complicated civilization. And we could actually destroy our civilization because of our inability to govern ourselves.

BILL MOYERS:Would this all be happening if we still had a strong sense of the social compact? I mean, our social safety net has been greatly reduced. The people have a real sense that the gods of capital have left little space for anyone else. People at the top don't have much empathy for people at the bottom.

GEORGE SOROS:There is a common interest. And this belief that everybody pursuing his self-interests will maximize the common interests or will take care of the common interests is a false idea. It's a suitable idea for those who are rich, who are successful, who are powerful. It suits them to justify you know, enjoying the fruits without paying taxes. The idea of paying taxes is an absolute no-no, right?

BILL MOYERS:Unpatriotic.

GEORGE SOROS:Unpatriotic. So, yes, you must have, in my opinion, you need, for instance, a tax on carbon emissions. But that is unacceptable politically. So we are going to have cap and trade. And the trading will have all kinds of loopholes and misuse of the regulations and all kinds of ways of making money without actually dealing with the problem that it's designed to cure. So that's how the political process distorts things.

[...]

BILL MOYERS:One of the British newspapers this morning had a headline, "Welcome to Socialism." It's not going that way, is it?

GEORGE SOROS:Well, you know, it's very interesting. Actually, these market fundamentalists are making the same mistake as Marx did. You see, socialism would have worked very well if the rulers had the interests of the people really at heart. But they were pursuing their self-interests. Now, in the housing market, the people who originated the houses earned the fee.

And the people who then owned the mortgages their interests were not actually looked after by the agents that were selling them the mortgages. So you have a, what is called an agent principle problem in socialism. And you have the same agent principle problem in this free market fundamentalism.

BILL MOYERS:The agent is concerned only with his own interests.

GEORGE SOROS:That's right.

BILL MOYERS:Not with...

GEORGE SOROS:That's right.

BILL MOYERS:The interest of...

GEORGE SOROS:Of the people who they're supposed to represent.

BILL MOYERS:But in both socialism and capitalism, you get the rhetoric of empathy for people.

GEORGE SOROS:And it's a false ideology. Both Marxism and market fundamentalism are false ideologies.

BILL MOYERS:Is there an ideology that...

GEORGE SOROS:Is not false?

BILL MOYERS:Yeah.

GEORGE SOROS:I think the only one is the one that I'm proposing; namely, the recognition that all our ideas, all our human constructs have a flaw in it. And perfection is not attainable. And we must engage in critical thinking and correct our mistakes.

BILL MOYERS:And that's one...

GEORGE SOROS:That's my ideology. As a child, I experienced Fascism, the Nazi occupation and then Communism, two false ideologies. And I learned that both of those ideologies are false. And now I was shocked when I found that even in a democracy people can be misled to the extent that we've been misled in the last few years.


[SOURCE: Bill Moyers Interview | PBS.org | 10 October 2008]


Sunday, 12 October 2008 at 11h 48m 13s

The discarding of old ideas

Click here for the depth and perspicacious capacity of Barry Ritholtz. He criticizes a market ideologue's journalistic intent to blur the responsibility for the 2008 economic collapse with human nature, who tries to assert that extreme ideology is only innate human pragmatism. As usual Barry quickly tears the ediface down and follows up with the white glove to the chin in his last paragraph:


Only ideologues are capable of such sheer intellectual dishonesty.

The author may be right about one thing: Ideas that fail are discarded. That process is going on right now. I suspect we are watching the death rattle of a certain type of ideology. Its a tainted brand called unregulated, market absolutism.


You get out there with your bad self, Mr. Barry Ritholtz. I completely agree. And I will add to the criticism.

... Because ... How can an extremist absolutist even begin to understand pragmatism? Believing the most rigid interpretations while applying the purist conceptions of mental theory towards human society, an extremist absolutist does not adjust the theory to suit the situation. What happens instead? They change or try to dominate the situation in order to implant their theoretic principles. Unwillingness to do so is considered a weakness in this paradigm. Changing one's belief to conform to reality is heinous to someone who thinks all humanity must be judged by a few well chosen precepts.

A pragmatist is a person who is after a goal, not in pursuit of conformity to principle. Saying that someone develops an extreme absolutism out of practical approaches across a long span of time is ridiculous; unless you speak of that higher plane sociopaths who seek power as their only goal, who are willing to negotiate their belief system for the next step up towards the hierarchy of achievement. In this sense, perhaps the author describes himself, a writer who blends contradictory archetypes merely to salvage his own rigid belief system. People do that you know.

When the walls and the foundation come crashing down, the constructors of the poorly constructed edifice can't blame the inhabitants of the building who made practical choices. The self-proclaimed adults were all being practical about their extreme absolutism. They had the right to do what wanted, whenever they wanted, and no mean government regulator or IRS agent had any right poking their audit books where they didn't belong. History-Smistory. This was the end of history, remember? We had supposedly evolved beyond history, when government was unnecessary and profits were endless.

Yes people made practical choices alright. They capered along assuming the wisdom of the people who made bad decisions in high places, thinking themselves as infallible to the human contradiction as their ancestors did during all those ancient economic collapses of yore.


Sunday, 12 October 2008 at 11h 2m 27s

An Eulogy for the stumbling McCain Campaign

Gail Collins in the New York Times. You should read the entire piece.

I miss the good old days. Remember when the presidential campaign was all about oil drilling? That sure was fun....

Remember how we used to joke about John McCain looking like an old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn? It’s only in retrospect that we can see that the keep-off-the-grass period was the McCain campaign’s golden era. Now, he’s beginning to act like one of those movie characters who steals the wrong ring and turns into a troll.

During that last debate, while he was wandering around the stage, you almost expected to hear him start muttering: “We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious.”

....The Republican campaign strategy now involves sending their candidates to areas where everybody is a die-hard McCain supporter already. Then they yell about Obama until the crowd is so frenzied people start making threats. The rest of the country is supposed to watch and conclude that this would be an enjoyable way to spend the next four years.

Maybe the Republicans should have picked somebody else. I miss Mitt Romney. Sure, he was sort of smarmy. But when Mitt was around, the banks had money and Iceland was solvent. And, of course, when we got bored, we could always talk about how he drove to Canada with his Irish setter strapped to the car roof...

I miss the old Cindy McCain. The one who used to go to rallies and sit huddled in the corner looking as if she thought the audience had a communicable disease. Now, she’s right up there on stage, standing behind her husband and making disgusted faces when he rails on about the opposition. And she’s started railing herself. (The family that rants together ...) Obama is waging “the dirtiest campaign in American history.” His votes on Iraq were votes “not to fund my son when he was serving.”

Remember when the McCains wouldn’t talk about the fact that their son was in Iraq? Oh well.

Maybe Cindy is trying to hold her own against Sarah, who is with John almost as much as she is. I miss the old guy-guy McCain who had so many male pals around he looked like a walking fraternity reunion. Now, he’s starting to resemble an ambulatory patient accompanied by female attendants on an outing.

Palin has been pressing the line that people don’t really know “the real Barack Obama,” and who could make the argument better than a woman who we’ve already known for almost six weeks? Really, she’s like one of the family.

We’ve gotten so close we’ve already learned that she didn’t actually sell the plane on eBay, didn’t actually visit the troops in Iraq and didn’t really have a talk with the British ambassador. As soon as we get the Trooper thing and Alaska Independence Party thing and the tax thing figured out, she’ll be an open book....


[SOURCE: Gail Collins | New York Times | 10 October 2008]


Thursday, 9 October 2008 at 18h 6m 55s

Tax cuts don't help society or the economy

Thom Hartmann does an excellent analysis of how the Reagan tax cuts ruined the long term health of the American economy.

The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities reports, 42% of the “fiscal deterioration” and explosion of the deficit that occurred under Bush was due to tax cuts.

After the Republican Great Depression, FDR put this nation back to work, in part by raising taxes on income above $2.3 million a year (in today’s dollars) to 91 percent, and corporate taxes to over 50% of profits. The revenue from those income taxes built dams, roads, bridges, sewers, water systems, schools, hospitals, train stations, railways, an interstate highway system, and airports. It educated a generation returning from World War II. It acted as a cap on the rare but occasional obsessively greedy person taking so much out of the economy that it impoverished the rest of us.

Through the 1950s, though, more and more loopholes for the rich were built into the tax code, so much so that JFK observed in his second debate with Richard Nixon that dropping the top tax rate to 70% but tightening up the loopholes would actually be a tax increase.JFK pushed through that tax increase to take us back toward FDR/Truman/Eisenhower revenue levels, and we continued to build infrastructure in the US, and even put men on the moon. Health care and college were cheap and widely available. Working people could raise a family and have security in their old age. Every billion dollars (a half-week in Iraq) invested in infrastructure in America created 47,000 good-paying jobs as Americans built America.

But the rich fought back, and won big-time in 1980 when Reagan, until then the fringe “Voodoo economics” candidate who was heading into the election trailing far behind Jimmy Carter, was swept into the White House on a wave of public concern of the Iranians taking US hostages. Reagan promptly cut income taxes on the very rich from 70% down to 27%. Corporate tax rates were also cut so severely that they went from representing over 33% of total federal tax receipts in 1951 to less than 9% in 1983 (they’re still in that neighborhood, the lowest in the industrialized world).

The result was devastating. Our government was suddenly so badly awash in red ink that Reagan doubled the tax paid only by people earning less than $40,000/year (FICA), and then began borrowing from the huge surplus this new tax was accumulating in the Social Security Trust Fund. Even with that, Reagan had to borrow more money in his 8 years than the sum total of all presidents from George Washington to Jimmy Carter combined.

In addition to badly throwing the nation into debt, Reagan’s tax cut blew out the ceiling on the accumulation of wealth, leading to a new Gilded Age and the rise of a generation of super-wealthy that hadn’t been seen since the Robber Baron era of the 1890s or the Roaring 20s.

And, most tragically, Reagan’s tax cuts caused America to stop investing in infrastructure. As a nation, we’ve been coasting since the early 1980s, living on borrowed money while we burn through (in some cases literally) the hospitals, roads, bridges, steam tunnels, and other infrastructure we built in the Golden Age of the Middle Class between the 1940s and the 1980s.

We even stopped investing in the intellectual infrastructure of this nation: college education. A degree that a student in the 1970s could have paid for by working as a waitress at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant (what my wife did in the late 60s - I did so working as a near-minimum-wage DJ) now means incurring massive and life-altering debt for all but the very wealthy. Reagan, who as governor ended free tuition at the University of California, put into place the foundations for the explosion in college tuition we see today.

The Associated Press reported on August 4, 2007, that the president of Nike, Mark Parker, “raked in $3.6 million [in compensation] in ‘07.” That’s $13,846 per weekday, $69,230 a week. And yet it would still keep him just below the top 70% tax rate if this were the pre-Reagan era. We had a social consensus that somebody earning around $3 million a year was fine, but above that was really more than anybody needs to live in America.


[SOURCE: Thom Hartmann |  | 9 October 2008]

The idea that tax cuts enable investment is a fallacy. Investment is only effective when it is targeted to produce a desired end that lifts up society as a whole. Enabling individuals and businesses already well-off and competitive to increase their profits does not automatically transition into societal investment. Increased profits only further ownership and accumulation. Giving people more money only helps them buy more stuff. Necessary social investments like hospitals, roads, education, and effective government regulation don't get paid for by charitable contributions, and when for-profit institutions do invest, the incentive is based on making money rather than providing a quality product for everyone. And even when a quality product like a private school or hospital or road exists, the surcharge for access becomes prohibitive to all but those who can afford the price of quality, which creates an under-served underclass of people who have to go without or settle for inadequacy.

The simplistic notion that tax cuts put more money in your pocket-book ignores the increases in social expenses that result. Bad schools, expensive health-care, poor transportation networks, and pitiful government regulation is a cost added to everyone's expenses that far out-strips the extra dollars in the bank for the 98% of Americans who make less than $200,000 a year. The super-rich could care less, because when you make more than 5 million dollars a year, paying $25,000 tuition and a $60,000 hospital bill is still less than 2% of total yearly income.

And look what happens to the economy when the SEC and the IRS don't have enough government regulators to do their jobs? How many food borne diseases cause Americans to lose work or die when they get sick because the FDA and Department of Agriculture has to have a voluntary regulatory system because the government can't afford to hire 20,000 more people at $100,000 a year to do the job right? How many traffic jams could be avoided if investment in public transportation ever became a reality, not to mention lessening the stress on fuel supplies and stimulating local economies?

The elite control the media and use it as a mouth-piece for their self-serving opinions. But factual history is a funny thing, and the truth will painfully show them all to be damn fools soon enough.


Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 19h 44m 22s

60 minutes explains the financial meltdown in less than 15 minutes

Click here to watch an excellent 60 minutes analysis of the recent financial events.

I just finished watching it, and the story is one of the best 60 minutes has ever done. You come away with a good understanding of what happened, why it happened, and who is really ultimately responsible.

One of my favorite lines ... when asked by the narrator (Steve Kroft), an ex-Wall Street analysis says of the mathematics that was used to justify the diversification of risky investments,

You can't model human behavior with Math.

As a a math teacher and recreational mathematician myself, I agree.

Math can only model based upon repeatable and quantifiable events. Randomness cannot be completely isolated and put into a formula. Assuming that any one human is perfectly understood at any given time during the entire life span of a certain individual : what model could possibly evince the true spirit or the essence that is individuality. Math seeks to control rather than understand. Math puts fences around events that cannot be controlled, but the distance between the fences cannot ever achieve an exactitude of precision. This would be equivalent to following one molecule of oxygen as it traversed the hemisphere over the course of a week. You might be able to follow that one molecule, but how could you also keep track of zillions of other molecules and aggregate events at the same time, with such effective control that you transcend God in your perspicacity of all knowing?

Remember: Avogadro's number of molecules per mole is 6.02 times 10 raised to the 22nd power. A Billion is 10 to the 9th power. A trillion trillion is ten to the 24th power. 6.02 times 10^22 is a little more than a billion trillion. This is the number of molecules or atoms with a certain volume unit called a "mole". A mole is the amount of volume containing that many molecules or atoms for any given molecule or atom. It's different for every molecule and atom. It depends on the temperature and pressure, and what form of matter the molecule or atom is at any given temperature and pressure. One mole of oxygen at standard temperature and pressure is 22.4 Liters, or nearly 6 gallons (5.92).

Math cannot effectively model the path from an interactive nature of entities whose randomness and imperfect understanding is not quantifiable, or dependent upon events which can not be foreseen. The bias or the imperfect knowledge of the human who uses math to model such events cannot help but create anything but an imperfect replica in such a situation. Things work merely because we ignore the exceptions, or disregard other effects. The noise or the minor errors might be due to the imperfections of estimation, or they might be significant factors waiting to explode. We can never be certain, and if we develop an attachment to the imperfect model we will of course ignore the factors and presume estimation errors.

Math might be useful. It might interesting to create a logical universe, or to push an idea to a conclusion. However, Math has to be reality driven and responsive to events or it will always be just another island inhabited by an anti-social hermit whom everyone hears about but few persons ever understand; and most of those only claim to understand because the hermit is nonetheless a celebrity, like a wizard who performs tricks, and the claimants want to associate themselves with the mystique without pretense to authenticity.


Friday, 3 October 2008 at 17h 14m 0s

The same one who got us into this mess

From New York Times

"Many events in Washington, on Wall Street and elsewhere around the country have led to what has been called the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s. But decisions made at a brief meeting on April 28, 2004, explain why the problems could spin out of control. The agency’s failure to follow through on those decisions also explains why Washington regulators did not see what was coming.

On that bright spring afternoon, the five members of the Securities and Exchange Commission met in a basement hearing room to consider an urgent plea by the big investment banks.

They wanted an exemption for their brokerage units from an old regulation that limited the amount of debt they could take on. The exemption would unshackle billions of dollars held in reserve as a cushion against losses on their investments. Those funds could then flow up to the parent company, enabling it to invest in the fast-growing but opaque world of mortgage-backed securities; credit derivatives, a form of insurance for bond holders; and other exotic instruments.

The five investment banks led the charge, including Goldman Sachs, which was headed by Henry M. Paulson Jr. Two years later, he left to become Treasury secretary.


[SOURCE: Stephen Labaton | New York Times | 3 October 2008]

In other words, Paulson moves into the government from the private sector to use government to serve the interests of the private sector.


Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 21h 45m 15s

Nawlins Napsters wins

Its official. The Nawlins Napsters win for the second year in a row.

This year was much more competitive than last year. I also had a lot more injuries to contend with, but pulled out the distance in the last 3 weeks.




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