Thursday, December 11, 2008

Worst Christmas Toast of All Time

"I run a Giant Ponzi Scheme...  Cheers!"  Bernie Madoff as paraphrased by Jeff Mackie on Fast Money

 

Meanwhile here is my 2008 Christmas toast...

Best wishes for continuing survival (happiness is obviously out of the question) under a disintegrating Capitalist hoax, driven by greed and corruption, perpetuated through collective ignorance and miseducation.

May the bulk of the human race one day realize that the joke is on us and that we (workers) are far greater in number than the lying, elitist, Harvard Business School types manipulating us as we collectively ruin our one and only planet.

In the meantime, consider drugs!  Detachment and disaffection may help you cope far better than reason allows.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

CHAPTER 7

Maybe the only viable solution for America this time is CHAPTER 7?  Liquidation!  A Fire Sale!  Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here!

Jimmy Carter said as much in 1979, but then came Ronald Reagan - and his dimwit, Shining City upon a Hill optimism carried the day.

So here we are, America!  It's thirty years later, and Piggy, the true base of our Democracy, has never been bigger, richer, more in charge and less capable! 

And where has it gotten Joe, The Average American?  He's fat.  He's old.  And he's largely been cheated.  Surprise!  Surprise!  Surprise!  Joe's on something of a buyer's strike.  Joe seems to have lost confidence...  But then, his plastic is maxed.  His mortgage is delinquent.  And soon he may need to apply for unemployment.

It's no wonder he's unhappy.  After all, Joe's America is obsessed with score-keeping.  And Joe works as hard as anyone on this planet.  Yet his standard of living is falling, his life expectancy ranks 42nd and his happiness ranks no higher than 23rd. 

So it's 1980 all over and Joe's fed up with the status quo - again.  Only this time he's not sure if he needs bio-fuels, solar panels, chicken coops, vegetable gardens or all-of-the-above as he tosses back another beer on the patio in the back yard of his devaluing exurban home.

Exxon Mobil says Joe needs to fill up the tank and head to the mall - again.  Merry Christmas, Joe!  Gasoline and "Made in China" are twenty percent off this season!  Just sign here on the dotted line.

Barney Frank says Joe needs another Wall Street bailout.  Or is it Detroit, Washington, or Main Street that his grandchildren's future economic prospects are underwriting this week?  In the face of so much financial innovation, it's hard just keeping track.

Max Baucus says mandatory, private Health Insurance is the answer.  After all, look how well that worked out for Auto-America!

But as Carter advised thirty years ago, maybe what America needs most is finally to get honest and rational - with itself?  Maybe this time America should be allowed to hit bottom rather than gin up another fake cycle of printing press prosperity?

That's where Chapter 7 comes in.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Big Toxic Stupid

I’m not voting for bigger banks, bigger insurance companies, bigger mergers, bigger debts, bigger tax cuts, bigger numbers, bigger capitalism, big, big, big, big, big... ever, ever ever again!

I’m voting for community and for sustainability.   I'm voting for "provincial" values.  I'm voting for the 1800s, with broadband.  My new catch-phrase is “buy local.”

Because the way America lives today is fundamentally and demonstrably wrong - it's environmentally, socially, economically and utterly discredited.

And exporting America's big, toxic and stupid model, at gunpoint or debt-point, to the rest of the world is a recipe for the very same disaster and collapse we see today.  And I no longer wish to vote for this - for any of it!

I want to change my way of life: smaller; better; sustainable.

I don’t fear China. I don’t fear Iran. I don’t fear anyone “coming after me” when my country already has enough weapons to blow up the planet ten times over. 

I fear only big, toxic and stupid.  I fear they have won!  I fear this insanity only stops at Armageddon.

I see now that Ronald Reagan was a dimwit.  I see now that America (and the world) would arguably be better off today if we'd listened to what Jimmy Carter said in his so-called “malaise” speech in 1979.


Corruption, inefficiency, arrogance, stupidity and a fake "empire" too much supported by consumption and debt was our problem then.  But instead of fixing it, since Reagan, we watched it metastasize like a cancer.

Now the only option is big surgery, big change and a smaller, sustainable way of life.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Gap

Hey, I'm in the top ten percent!

And I live in a big, old, stone house in Montana and my wife and I hold hundreds of thousands in our accounts -- at least in a broker's computer somewhere...

And no matter which selfish, petty, individualistic issue bothers me at this very moment, I find I'm just so very PROUD of myself! 

After all...

I'm a Gunslinger! 

I'm a Rock Star! 

I'm John Fucking Wayne, American!

But then I ask myself, "Gee, Todd, but isn't that the real problem here?"  Now that the whole of human existence has been reduced to competition, score-keeping and consumption -- or at least insuring I posses the means to consume, perpetually.  Maybe that's how we became broken?  Maybe that's why we (collectively) can't fix big problems any more?  Maybe that's why our world is unable to achieve or sustain real, existential human progress?

And then I remember the lyrics from an old Steely Dan song...
I heard it was you.
Talking about a world where all is free.
It just couldn't be.
And only a fool would say that!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Argument for Trial and Possible Execution of Financial Terrorists

Wall Street solution

If the evil, greedy, Wall Street and Washington terrorists that wrecked America committed mass suicide, by jumping out corner office windows or imbibing cyanide-laced Kool Aid, Jonestown style, it would not be enough! 

Not enough to put a floor under stocks.  Never enough to counter the destruction of the lives and life savings of millions, perhaps a billion, investors.

Thus, the only real solution, to re-instill confidence in America's legal and financial system, is to file charges, hold trials, and if legally warranted, stage death penalty executions for anyone responsible for perpetrating acts of war and terrorism against the United States!

In short, I simply do not understand the common argument that, under current statutes, no crimes were committed leading to the 2008 financial crisis ?!  That no depth of knowing or negligent greed or incompetence can be construed as criminal in this matter?!

And even if I believed that argument was reasonable, I would simply posit the following scenario:  Imagine if the actions of the Al Queda terrorists responsible for 911 had not been technically illegal under U.S. law at that time?  Surely our government , our country and we as a people would have rendered their acts illegal, retroactively, using new or reinterpreted laws.

Thus what I am proposing is merely a legal shift or reinterpretation similar to that of U.S. torture policy under John Yoo.  Because such despicable acts as these -- of greed, theft, torture, perhaps even murder against U.S. citizens constitute Acts of War!  And punishing individuals responsible for ultimately hostile actions leading to the destruction of the U.S. financial system and the loss of American lives is perfectly legal under The War Powers Act.

Today, there are various and sundry bankers, politicians, lobbyists and enablers free in the United States.  But rather than allow them to collect and spend hundreds of millions in severance pay and contract bonuses, our government arguably has a responsibility to hold them legally responsible for the wave of terror and death they perpetrated.

After all, our present financial and human catastrophe is no less damaging to the United States of America than if its perpetrators had exploded a nuclear bomb on Wall Street! 

Surely intelligent, elite and educated financial experts knew they were creating a financial house of cards.  Emails and conversations released anecdotally imply this.  As far back as 2003, Warren Buffet labeled the $60 Trillion in derivatives as "weapons of financial mass destruction."  Today, results argue they simply didn't care.  That they took billions in profits and left America and the world to face the consequences of this disaster.

Now lives have been lost.  Families have been ruined.  Retirements have been canceled.  And the future of the U.S. economic system has been destabilized and rendered unknowable, perhaps even unthinkable.  In a time of war, or any time, such acts, engaged in knowingly or negligently, are crimes punishable under the U.S. Constitution.

Thus, why are there no trials or tribunals?  Why is legal and military redress to seemingly seditious acts of war and terrorism not being pursued?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Shining City Upon a Hill

I see our present, consumption induced, crisis as yet another symptom of economic disparity in this country, where wage earners are bombarded, virtually 24x7, with images of thin, rich, beautiful, charming and successful people – the “upper”, the “successful”, the “American Dream” class.

In other words, our consumer centric economy, through advertising and media in general, trains its lens primarily at the top of the capitalist pyramid, then replays those images to exploit the lower classes, inspiring meaningless consumption in a fallacious quest for “wealth,” as seen on TV, in magazines and real life.

When, instead, we consumers could do better by ourselves and our system by simply admitting that the very nature of “capitalism” requires a rigid class hierarchy. 

Unfortunately, it seems the necessity to accept this hierarchy has been forestalled in post World War II generations by the myth of an American Dream which presupposes a lie over capitalist reality – of boundless and unlimited opportunity – available to anyone willing to assume ever higher risk in reaching for it.

Thus the underlying problem, leading to our present economic crisis/collapse of over-lending and over-borrowing – i.e. of over-risk – is that a majority of Americans have not yet resolved basic emotional and class conflicts inherent in their economic system, instead substituting a “Dream” to fill the void.  But unless these conflicts are resolved, then over-reach and over-risk are destined to recur as consumer underlings resume their statistically improbable quest to get, or at least to feel, rich!

Traditionally, our churches have at least fostered class acceptance – e.g. “render unto Caesar…” and “be in the world, but not of the world”, etc.  But in America today, the “Dream” has displaced religious based class humility, leading directly to a confused, chaotic and arguably collapsing version of capitalism.

Thus, our “crisis” highlights a critical need – for a vast majority of Americans to stop deluding themselves and ultimately to choose between the Capitalism outside their front doors (and stability) or the fake American Dream (and its inevitable overreaching collapse) throbbing inside their heads. 

It’s really a Hobson's choice, however, as it seems historically obvious that we are incapable of a degree of love and egalitarianism necessary to implement any alternative, arguably more highly evolved, humanistic system, of the kind espoused by thought leaders like Marx, Voltaire, Rousseau, Rimbaud, Pound, et al.

Thus my simple advice for my country is this:  Let’s get to the business of accepting the limitations of ourselves and our dominant economic system.  Because the false hope of American Dream consumerism has become a too destructive religion leading to excessive risk and economic instability.

Because let's face it, after thirty years of Ronald Reagan’s trickle down, dimwit optimist capitalism, our “shining city upon a hill” is owned by one percent of us.  The rest of us just work there.

So it's time for America to either vote to change that – or at least get used to it.  Because the present culturally-divided, lowest-common-denominator, "American Dream" consumer limbo is wrecking a fairly decent country!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

McCain generation, you've had your chance -- Now, please, Get Out of Our Way!

Here is my question for Tuesday's Town Hall Presidential debate...

Senator McCain, given that for decades, the American Left has sternly criticized and forewarned of the dangers inherent in the economically profligate, politically divisive, racist, morally selfish, socially intolerant, environmentally unsound  and religiously superstitious politics practiced by post World War II and Baby Boom cohorts of the U.S. voting population, and given that, today, these chickens have come home to roost:  Don't you think it's time, Senator, to accept and acknowledge that older, failed, but politically numerous segments of the U.S. voting population must now step aside, to allow for younger, more vital and future-oriented Americans to lead this Nation forward, out of its present abyss?

And by this, Senator McCain, I do not mean practicing politically cynical ploys, like the selection of an obviously incurious, unqualified runner up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant as your Vice Presidential running mate. 

For you sir are at the top of your ticket.  And in the minds of millions of younger Americans you are simply too old and unrealistic to lead America to any kind of sustainable future.  On the contrary, from a younger person's vantage, your generation seems intent on sustaining America's current selfish and dissipative decline -- characterized by bumper stickers on 3 MPG recreational vehicles driven by American retirees reading: Spending My Children's Inheritance!

Thus, don't you think it's time, McCain generation, to reject your sick and unprecedented philosophy of I've Got Mine dissipation and decline, before it's simply too late to turn back from this obvious self-destructive course?

In light of your candidacy, I assume, Mr. McCain, that your answer would be NO

But in that light, and with all due respect sir, I am compelled to forewarn -- that in coming years your generation will be incapable of defending itself from the very same lousy and ruinous future you have voted time and again to thrust upon this Nation. 

And unfortunately, since you seem irrationally unwilling to abandon a pre-1973 false vision of American superiority, it is conceivable that younger Americans will in future be forced to undertake morally painful and economically draconian measures, including default (on your debts) and conceivably, unfortunately perhaps even euthanasia.

Thus, I am advising your generation to please lead, follow or get out of the way of a sustainable American future, in light of a potential future elder-holocaust your present course of action might one day force upon America's children and grandchildren! 

The longer you put off real change by twiddling the knobs of your generation's selfish, unyielding capitalism, the more likely its destructiveness becomes your own destiny.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Todd Ryder

Friday, October 03, 2008

TARP II Passes

The anal rape of the American taxpayer, known as TARP -- a bailout designed to enrich Wall Street billionaires -- er... I mean main street: small businesses, pension funds, 401Ks, etc... -- has passed both houses of Congress and will become law following President Bush's signature.

And the only problem I see is that:  a.) Most U.S. workers don't have pensions any more and  b.) Anyone stupid enough to have money in stocks today (as of last August when the collapse of the housing sham became apparent) probably (at least under Capitalism, which they tell me underpins our economic system) deserves to lose their money, in my opinion.

Stocks promptly sold off from daily highs on the news, with the DJIA ending down 157 points.

In philosophical circles, we refer to this as a universal concept known as JUSTICE!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Great Renewal?

It's too late now!

TARP isn't going to work.

Banning short selling isn't going to work.

Eventually, the SEC will probably ban all selling of stocks - i.e. the U.S. government may legislate that stocks can only go up!  But I don't think that will work either.

Because the real problem is simply that, since Reagan, the U.S. economy has steadily evolved into a Ponzi scheme -- more akin to the Soviet Union of America than to a Democracy with transparent and accountable markets.  In short, today, America is no longer capable of providing real economic opportunity for Joe Sixpack.  And, finally, Joe's as mad as hell and he doesn't want to take it any more.

Thus, I assign no blame for the millions of people that have and will soon default on their mortgages.  Rather, I admire their courage -- for finally making sound financial choices -- contrary to the buy, buy, buy mantra broadcast 24x7 over the corporate media that shapes public opinion in this country.

Today we see that the stolen 2000 election of George W. Bush, followed by his subsequent reelection, marks the collapse of the fake American economy.  The one that spent the Social Security trust.  The one that created the illegal and immoral Iraq war to further transfer public money into private crony hands.  The one that spawned and exacerbated the housing collapse.

This is why I have for years labeled George W. Bush the Marie Antoinette of the 21st Century.

Today, before our very eyes, the Soviet Union of American Ponzi scheme is collapsing -- and Joe Sixpack is so indebted, so tapped and finally, so angry, that Joe will join liberal/anarchists like myself and vote for a Black President.

Thus, it probably only gets worse -- for the 1% Wall Street-Washington ruling class.  And I believe that's a good thing!  Because for 99% of us, this period of economic contraction and de-leveraging finally marks an opportunity for American renewal!

Because America is so much more than its cynical, decadent, jejune ruling class. 

America is 300 million, mostly well meaning, people -- working hard, honoring the rule of law, and desperately looking for a reason to have and to hold faith -- something other than a plastic Jesus on a plastic cross hanging in an overpriced McMansion made of fake wood and leaching cancer-inducing cyanide gas.

Yes!  America has promise!  But first it must become leaner, decentralized, localized, pluralistic and sustainable.  First, America must get off fossil fuels, stop lying to itself and the rest of the world about its economic and military greatness and start living within its means.

Absent that, the end of America is at hand.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Another Open Reply to Accrued Interest

Please READ your feedback, Mr. Accrued Interest!

In short, I don't see much support for TARP in the comments here, among those of us that follow economics closely and/or perhaps even among some working in the financial industry!

In short:

  • What's wrong with collateral?
  • What's wrong with long term financial security for human beings?
  • What's wrong with financial sanity?
  • What's wrong with an economy where cash (finally, again) is king?

On the contrary, those supporting the bailout simply wish to return to business as usual -- albeit now requiring forced participation on the part of the American taxpayer in Wall Street's  high risk matrix -- as the ultimate backstop to secure unjust and irresponsible Wall Street exploitation of the Democratic majority.

While those of use opposing the bailout simply wish to embrace this opportunity to FIX the system, returning it to sanity.

We (the sane) want secured lending.  We want less churn and constant trading to attain and sustain financial security. Thus, we want future, greater stability in financial markets.  We want American (world) financial systems to work as they did for prior generations, when cash, not leverage, mattered most, when America and the world economy were far less prone to the instability presently inherent in the system, producing bubble after bubble after bubble and crisis after crisis after crisis and now collapse after collapse after collapse.   Like Warrent Buffet, many of us wish to return to an economic system wherein we might become rich slowly, through sound lending, borrowing and investing practices!

Thus, the current crisis and potential collapse represents a unique opportunity, not some kind of mean-spirited pyrrhic victory, as our position has been described by the corporate media.

In short, those of us considering ourselves sane simply wish to alter/fix the present economy, presently consisting of two false choices for wage earners and small investors forming the core of  the U.S. (consumer-centric) economy:

  1. spend our wages immediately (and borrow/leverage on top of them) to avoid loss of principal relative to inflation OR
  2. invest (which today means trade) in insanely risky markets -- only to be exploited by hedge funds and very, very large investors in general -- who generally sell off profit nearly instantaneously.

We simply do not wish to forcibly participate in these schemes, where sound economics has been replaced by gambling and where we can be sure of just one thing: "the house" always wins and we (wage earners and small investors) always lose!

Thus, if, in the process of de-leveraging, as sanity requires, the U.S. and world economy goes "into the tank" for several years or even decades, then so be it, as far as I am personally concerned.

After all, economic collapse, which seems unlikely under virtually any scenario purported by government, financial and media fear mongers, has happened before.  Perhaps it should happen again -- if there is any chance for an ultimate outcome redounding in favor of return to economic sanity and stability.

Wall Street's "business as usual" approach has simply failed the vast majority of human beings participating in the world economy today.  Therefore business as usual cannot (or at least should not, in rational terms) be allowed to continue.

CASH SHOULD BE KING (again) and money (fiat currency) -- versus 100-to-1 leverage -- should be worth something again -- to allow for a return to traditional saving and real, long term, investing!

Otherwise, what is the point of having a complex, highly structured economy?  What is the point of an economy where the vast majority of human beings work for it, but it merely exploits them, for the obvious gain of a statistically tiny (1%) minority -- aka the house -- aka Wall Street?

The answer is: there is no point! 

We raising our voices loudly in protest to TARP have chosen to risk the (very unlikely) possibility of economic collapse over forced participation in yet another bailout of Wall Street's status quo, with our own money (taxes), which will only guarantee further diminishment of our (99%) future economic prospects in favor of Wall Street's one percent.

Finally, Wall Street, if you want our money to bail you out, then either give us equity or give us [economic] death!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's the DERIVATIVES, stupid!

Once again, America, it's not the mortgages, stupid, it’s the DERIVATIVES!

http://www.newsweek.com/id/161199

SIXTY-TWO TRILLION in derivatives -- collateralized by less than $1.5 Trillion in mortgage backed securities -- to be exact.

The U.S. economy can survive – even if e.g. $3 Trillion in mortgages and property values essentially went to ZERO -- which would never happen anyway... because at some point, say $0.05 to $0.20 on the dollar, there are buyers – there always are.  That’s why we call it market-based Capitalism!

Hell, the stock market lost a TRILLION yesterday alone!  Has Nuclear Winter ensued?  Well, I don't know about you, Mr. and Mrs. TV robot consumer/voter, but the sky is clear and the sun is shining where I live!

However, Wall Street cannot survive $62 Trillion in derivatives going to zero.  Their business/economic model is broken, and was catastrophically flawed to begin with. 

Suddenly, today, Wall Street’s financial “engineers” can no longer “manufacture” new ways to turnover the same nickel 1000 times, aggregating BILLIONS in fees from those transactions.

That is America’s problem – i.e. economy/government by Wall Street, through Washington.  It is fundamentally a house of cards.  And guess what?  The house of cards may finally be collapsing.

To this I say: Good riddance!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

TARP Again Official -- But No Smiles Allowed

Remember.  It’s not the mortgages but rather the $62 TRILLION in Wall Street generated derivatives (e.g. Credit Default Swaps) collateralized by them…

 

But at least, out of all of this collapse and bailout, someone (actor and finance editorialist, Ben Stein) that sort-of works for the man has finally been published describing basically just how and how much rigged the investing game is for you and me, the little guy taxpayer/investor: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/business/28every.html


Though what really pisses me off, at the moment, is that I wanted to link a picture here -- like the one on the front page of the Times a mere 2 hours or so ago (when I should have snabbed it).  It showed the whole sordid gang: Paulson, Frank, Pelosi, Reid, Baucus, et al. smiling ear-to-ear after they had finally shammed the official shite (bill) together.

But SUDDENLY (and I’m not kidding about this) all smiling TARP II, The Sequel celebration pictures have been taken down, replaced with dour, concerned, serious poses, seemingly across the entire www.

Thus, I hereby defy anyone to submit a picture of our glorious pigs (er… I mean leaders) in all their shit-eating-grin glory, celebrating the Stock Market’s (er… I mean Main Street’s) salvation!

Proceeding to youtube.com. Maybe someone uploaded a “smiley” clip there before the serious-only edict officially came down?!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Open Reply to Accrued Interest

http://accruedint.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-would-ya-like.html

So as much as we all hate the idea of a government bailout, we really need to consider what kind of capitalism we think we're defending. I'd love to hear more about long-term solutions to our problems. But in the short-term, we have to stem the relentless waves of fear. Before its too late.

Too late for what?

No personal offense intended, Mr. anonymous fixed income investor, but perhaps the real answer is… too late for you to keep your Wall Street job?

My wife and I have ½ Million in liquid investments (all cash and CDs today).  We largely own our property, including two rental homes.  We have small government and defense industry pensions.  And she can sign up for Social Security in two years.  Finally, we live in sparsely populated, ruggedly individualistic Montana, where we won’t have to cope as much with America's increasingly Soylent Green social and economic reality – except over the TV.

Thus, I told my wife yesterday that I think I could accept having that ½ Million in cash GO TO ZERO – as long as it meant Wall Street was wiped out too!

By this I mean:

  • Wipe out every dimwit, Ivy League MBA that caused this mess thinking he/she was smarter than those of us that play by the rules and pay our bills on time.
  • Wipe out the Washington lobbyists and mega corporations behind the entire ugly, cronyistic Wall Street and Washington sham such people cover up behind labels like market-based capitalism.
  • Wipe out government by Dow Jones Industrial Average.
  • Wipe out government by Hedge Funds.

In short, wipe out government by those whose TARP actions are presently designed to insure that my, and the vast majority of Americans', quality of life will never, ever, ever improve -- no matter how hard we work, save or invest!

If we, the American people, had a vote in this, I suspect it would be to wipe out the whole rigged game.  As long as the house is wiped out too!

Seeing that would be worth MILLIONS of my own dollars – if only I had that much to lose!

Friday, September 26, 2008

After Eight Years...

In tonight's debate, after ceding the first 30 minutes to McCain on taxes and spending (earmarks),  Obama finally got up off the canvas on Iraq.

But what I do not understand, is how Obama lets McCain get away with the whole concept of Bushonomics in the first place.

My response, had I been up on that stage, would have been something like this: "My God, John, if your policy of rewarding those that don't need it with more and more tax cuts, with greater and greater capital gains profits, with more and more and more and more... IF THOSE POLICES COULD EVER BENEFIT A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS, THEN MY GOD SIR, WOULDN'T THEY HAVE DONE SO BY NOW!?  AFTER EIGHT YEARS, JOHN, WOULDN'T THEY HAVE DONE SO BY NOW!?  Shame on you, John McCain, shame on you!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dollar For Dollar

If taxpayers have to bail out Wall Street, then we must own any profits resulting from the bailout.

The bottom line is: one dollar of equity (control) for every dollar of bail out.

If we must buy them then we must own them too!

They're OUR banks now!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

NO to Wall Street Greed and YES to Saving Again

In light of recent proposals for a Cosmic ($1 TRILLION) Wall Street bailout, it seems to me that, as a LEGISLATIVE body, Congress should enact laws to nationalize ill-gotten gains (through fines and incarceration), rather than merely absorb lousy debt created by Wall Street pirates. 

Encouraging Moral Hazard has failed to build and sustain our economy.

Incestuous corporate board room and CEO relationships should be rendered illegal.  No corporate officer should be compensated in excess of 100x average worker pay at a firm.  Corporate personhood, in the form of incestuous lobbying, which exploits and undermines our Democracy must be ended. 

Now that excess is the norm, Congress must consider taxing away Wall Street's most egregious practices by, for example, enacting new Federal trading transaction fees (e.g. 0.25% of the dollar amount of each trade) and by raising, not lowering, capital gains rates (or simply taxing all active and passive capital gains as ordinary income).  Only investment and saving can create stable jobs and economic growth.  In contrast, current, mostly Republican led, economic policy has produced a fundamentally unstable American economy -- a house of cards built on a foundation of debt and speculation producing only bubbles and crashes.

A better future demands that America pay down its debts and save again. 

To this end, Congress should enact a National Savings Plan -- to replace existing IRA, Roth, 401K and SEP accounts with a single, comprehensive national savings policy to cover both tax deferred and taxable retirement and savings accounts.   Absent real alternatives to dollar destruction and Wall Street speculation and risk, Americans and their government will never save substantially and America will continue into decline, instability and class warfare.

Under a National Savings Plan, there should be a fixed yield option guaranteeing at least 5% annual interest, in addition to standard, high risk, equity-based growth options.  Risk and inflation prevent and negate savings.  In contrast, a reasonable, safe and non-volatile return on savings would do exactly the opposite.

One-time consumption, stimulus packages should be discouraged. 

Exacerbating overspending will never fix America's negative per capita savings rate -- which has broken retirement for older workers and prevented younger workers from effectively participating in the U.S. economy.

Recent crises requiring drastic government intervention prove that current U.S. economic policy and structure is unsustainable. 

Economic crisis must be replaced by economic stability, where policy success is measured by increasing wages and living standards -- not by useless, risk and inflation rewarding metrics like GDP growth rates and average wage statistics skewed by the high salaries of the wealthiest workers.

In short, it is time for bold action to reform U.S economic policy.  The system is broken for the majority of workers, who are further burdened over and over and over and over to fund bailouts for failed Wall Street schemes and Republican robber baron ideology.  Fix the dollar.  Fix saving.  Fix retirement.  Fix America!

As Bob Reich has said, in a healthy democracy, "the economy should work for us [the majority], and not the other way around."

Cosmic Bailout

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, you are now the lucky owners of all the lousy debt instruments that Wall Street created, but no longer wishes to hold.

And since The Pigs own the system, it is you, and not they, that must pay for its mistakes!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Unconventional Ruin

"A sound banker, alas, is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him."

John Maynard Keynes, 1931

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

God Bless America!

Latest news…

Apparently, the bailout of AIG (er… I mean bridge loan) may require fully ½ of the actual, liquid capital the U.S. government has on its books presently…

At the start of the year, the Fed had close to $800 billion on its balance sheet. Tony Crescenzi, bond analyst for Miller Tabak & Co, estimated that following the rescue of American International Group, the Fed may only have $195 billion left.

In other words, apparently, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT is now low on liquidity…

Thus more dollars must be printed and more treasuries must be sold – to sterilize those dollars – so that the bailout slash Nationalization of all these insolvent/POS firms (like AIG) that have been running secret hedge funds can continue unabated!  (There will no doubt be more -- and Mr. Stock Market knows it.)

For review, (yes, I know it's something of an oversimplification but it's accurate enough, based on net effect) these secret hedge funds within firms like AIG (god knows how many there really are at this point) have been driven, either directly or indirectly, at least until the gimmick collapsed, by the carry trade resulting from free (1% interest) Alan Greenspan money that essentially capitalized the housing/credit bubble.   It takes as much as 30-40x leverage to milk the carry trade arbitrage.  Much of this leverage has been collateralized by mortgage backed securities (MBS) then hedged through credit default swaps (CDS).  At AIG it was the CDS gamble that blew up as reserve requirements for insurance on hedged debt tied to increasingly worthless mortgages (ultimate writeoffs will utlimately exceed $1 TRILLION).  In short, the net effect is that credit losses and downgrades are so rampant that money (credit) - i.e. the buck as we know it -- has been broken.

For review, MBSes are becoming worthless because each day more and more homeowners walk (forcibly or willingly default) on low/no equity mortgages (even 20-30% equity holders are walking at this point in bubble markets like California and Nevada – Ed McMahon syndrome) because millions of homeowners finally understand that they never, ever will be made whole, investment-wise, at their inflated purchase prices and colossal jumbo loan sizes.

Thus no one will trade with anyone.  Defaults are soaring and CDS issuers like AIG face a Katrina like storm of bad bets.  Thus, virtually every liquid investment (equities) held by endangered firms is being liquidated as I write this.  And spreads, swaps, tranches -- i.e. financial derivatives of all shapes and sizes -- are simply blowing up (rate/spread-wise) as capital markets become illiquid.

In summary (gallows humor)…

I wonder if  this will affect interest rates – i.e. the ultimate value of U.S. currency?  (Though today flight to safety is causing the dollar and long treasuries to rise in value).

In summary (simple description of true economic reality America faces)…

Today, in technical terms, the U.S. economic scenario has changed yet again, having obviously become quite fluid.

Yesterday we were The Soviet Union of America (bailouts of rich people to privatize profits while socializing losses to poor people -- taxpayers).

Today, if our creditors – China, Europe, Japan, Russia, oil States, etc. – start balking at buying ever more U.S. paper we will embark on a path to become the next Weimar Republic.

Meanwhile, to try and put a tourniquet on the blood-letting, the uptick rule may be reinstated or shorting stocks will simply be made illegal.

God Bless America!  God Damn America!  Either way, the Pigs will always win and You, their serf/taxpayer, will always lose!

Monday, September 15, 2008

500 Points Closer to ZERO!

Remember the final scene in Fight Club?  – when banks on Wall Street explode and topple like dominos…

Well, I never thought I might actually live to see it – but that's how George Bush's economy looks today.

But, suddenly, I find I'm looking forward to a world where all men are created equal -- again – as always it should be!

Though, like Steely Dan sang so many years ago, Only a Fool Would Say That...

Peace, Love, Out!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Greenspan: "I wouldn't put my money on it."

"I wouldn't put my money on it."  was Alan Greenspan's answer to George Stephanopoulos' questioning if the United States could skirt an economic recession in 2008 or 2009.

He's right!  I wouldn't put my money on it either! 

But then he's also one of the most culpable contributors to America's current economic predicament.

  • Greenspan supported repeal of the Glass-Steagall act which had regulated U.S. depository institutions in order to prevent off-balance-sheet (remember Enron?) Special Investment Vehicles (SIVs) that created the housing bubble and led to a credit collapse that has essentially taken America's investment banking system down and placed every single financial account and transaction in the world at greater risk.
  • On January 25th, 2001, Greenspan testified before Congress in support of the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich that ultimately led to larger and every growing Federal Budget deficits under the Bush administration.  Greenspan testified that the U.S. government should essentially be prevented from accumulate capital surpluses, because public accumulation of capital, even to pay down the National Debt, could limit economic growth.
  • During the recession following 911, Greenspan approved lowering the Fed Funds rate to one percent which,  adjusted for inflation, created negative Federal interest.  Currency debasement in turn stimulated promiscuously irresponsible lending, spawning a carry trade arbitrage against the U.S. Dollar, whereby speculators like large hedge funds profited immensely, but briefly, simply by borrowing short from the U.S. government then lending and investing long outside the U.S. using 30 or 40 times leverage.

With friends like Greenspan and the Republicans, who needs enemies?

Above all else self evidently wrong with pandemic Wall Street and Washington synergy today, Greenspan's cheap money policy, coupled with unending cycles of Republican-led financial system deregulation, precipitated the bubble and current collapse in U.S. housing and banking and exacerbated off-shoring of U.S. factories and jobs through the carry trade.  Such profligate and arguably corrupt leadership, leading to unsustainable levels of systemic risk, explains why a bear market in global equities and debt instruments has likely only just begun, as well as why the per-capita savings rate in this country, in contrast to creditor G8 nations and all BRIC nations, is negative.  History shows that debt crises punctuate the decline of great nations.

Thus, today marks a unique opportunity for the Left with regard to the pursuit of a Real, Populist, Egalitarian American Democracy.

As the three legs -- jobs, homes and consumption comprising the stool that is American class aspiration crumble -- the same stool upon which Alan Greenspan would today not risk his own capital in support -- the probability rises, perhaps unlike any time since The Great Depression, that America's White, Male, pseudo-Christian, Ivy League educated aristocracy, comprising 2 or 3 percent of its population, will finally be called to account by the electorate for its crony capitalist hegemony.  Perhaps Enough is [finally] enough!

So, despite obvious and growing economic anxiety and suffering, for which I do not rejoice, ironically I am compelled to thank Mr. Greenspan, today -- for rendering populist arguments for economic justice and real American Democracy so much easier to make!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Katrina Economy

Note that this is a one hour Charlie Rose clip, with guests: New York Times' Floyd Norris and Gretchen Morgenson  as well as PIMCO's Mohamed El-Erian, and New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini -- about the economy we inherit from George Bush.

If you watch the clip, you may agree with me that Chris Matthews was utterly wrong today on Hardball in asserting -- if Obama can somehow articulate a bridge to the future for the next generation -- that white, middle-class mothers under age 45, with whom he's apparently slipping in national polls, will vote for him. 

The reason he's wrong is that Matthews, an elite media celebrity with a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract, is incapable of a legitimate assessment of the true state of the U.S. economy -- in its frightening middle-class context -- given the ongoing housing collapse and in the wake of taxpayer-funded bailouts of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

And the reason Matthews' too future oriented strategy would fail is -- because each passing day leading to this election, millions of mothers (and fathers) in this country are feeling increasingly panicky.  Like 2004, such troubled people may yet again not vote for change.  Instead, they may again mistakenly vote for normal, for a fictional, nostalgic Andy Griffith past, when America was happier, as a natural avoidance to the bleak future they see every day in the news and the Dow Jones' Industrial Average.

Today, millions of working Americans are stranded on the rooftops of George Bush's Katrina Economy.  The water is rising -- and they're praying a helicopter is on its way!  

But if that helicopter arrives, there seems a growing fear among them that the pilot may be different (young, black, thoughtful, highly-educated and articulate).  And America is not used to different.  So, as in the aftermath of 911, some could be fearful enough to again vote Republican -- for Grandpa, the War Hero and a common, white, pretty, eerily familiar mother that would carry a disabled child to term, no matter the defect.

Thus, like 2004, this election has again unfortunately descended -- to personality, values, and added race.  Panic, after all, is an emotion.  And emotions muddle clear thinking.  

How can any woman's children cross a bridge to the future when parents lose their houses, their jobs and their tiny, but highly coveted, trickled down slice of the American dream?

Yes.  It's insane!  With McCain-Palin, the helicopter never gases up, let alone rescues anyone -- anyone not already listed on the Fortune 500.  Whereas, with Obama-Biden, and a new Congress, maybe America's middle and under class still has a fighting chance?

So, Messers Obama and Biden, please do all that you can to empathize with gnawing, growing middle-class economic panic.  Like Reagan in 1980, level with us daily and especially during the debates.  Americans need to better understand why things are so bad and how much more likely they are to worsen under the disregard and profligacy of the Bush administration's 3rd term Presidential candidate, John McCain.  Like Ross Perot, use pie charts and statistics if you must.   Unemployment is rising.  When it reaches 8 percent, that giant sucking sound will be so loud we won't be able to hear ourselves think.

So, first, calm us down!  Then clearly and rationally demonstrate exactly why and, most importantly, how you will help those of us most in need first -- instead of providing yet another victory lap for globalism's winners' circle .  Then Democrats may win, for once, and finally get an opportunity to provide some overdue relief.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Depressionest Guys in the Room

Ousted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac CEOs Daniel Mudd and Richard Syron are expected to pocket as much as $50M in severance pay -- for running Fannie and Freddie, the too big to fail ($5.3T outstanding MBS debt) government sponsored entities that sustain liquidity in the U.S mortgage market, so far into the ground the U.S. Treasury had to take action, defining a Federal conservatorship and paving the way for ultimate public/private reorganization.

During their tenures since 2003, Mudd and Syron have separately received at least $38M in compensation.

But then I'm sure the movie (hint, hint) will supply even more gory, inside details...

And Republicans call this shit Free Market Capitalism?!  Try crony capitalism and trickle-down capitalism!

Frankly, at this point, wouldn't Socialism be more cost effective?

Why not, for example, nationalize energy exploration, production and distribution?  How about nationalizing health care?  I mean, if  we taxpayers must bail out morally, now financially, bankrupt Wall Street over and over and over again, then we at least deserve the opportunity to reorganize a few firms that can a.) benefit our society and b.) turn a profit!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Barack, Let Your Hands Go...

After watching your post-speech interview with George Stephanopoulos on This Week (I mostly liked the speech clips but disliked the interview), I am compelled to invoke a perhaps cliched metaphor -- that you are a young, gifted boxer in a long and grueling bout.  It's the tenth of twelve rounds.  The scorecards are even and the judges are deadlocked.  Your opponent, the Champion, is tired, old and slow, but he is as powerful as he is brutal and ruthless.  Win or lose, it is time to abandon caution, calculation and flippancy.  It is time to let your hands go... guided less by your mind and more by your instincts and your heart.

In other words, Mr. Obama, please stop trying to crossover to the Republican base and to the confused middle with carefully-parsed, four-minute answers, where any casual observer can see electoral college calculus computing behind your eyes.  You said Americans are not stupid!  Give us a chance to prove it.  Barack, you're a winner, let your hands go... close the deal through greater engagement with old and new Democrats during interviews and the forthcoming debates.

Simply put, at this point in U.S. political history, the Republican party is not big enough to win a Presidential election.  Thus, you need only Democrats to win.  How did Ronald Reagan win?  Democrats.  Why did John Kerry lose?  Democrats.  If Democrats turn out, as they did in the primaries -- you win.  If they are lukewarm and uninspired, or only moderately inspired on election day -- you will probably lose. 

I also contend that the majority of swing voters, whether they know it or not, are Democrats.  They have moderate incomes.  They aspire to working and middle class dreams: a house maybe, perhaps a better life for their children.  And as you well know, they long to believe in something beyond cynical, divisive, Conservative Think Tank manipulation masking corporate fascism.

Thus, you need voters like my wife.  A lifelong Democrat, she donated money and volunteered time as a precinct captain for your primary campaign in Helena, Montana.  She made get-out-the-vote calls.  She was disappointed with the poor logistics behind the call lists (many calls she made were repeats, seemingly due to poor record keeping).  But she became disillusioned (and stopped volunteering) after your middling Senate vote supporting telecom immunity under FISA renewal.

You don't need voters like my dad.  He is emblematic of voters you will never reach: white, old, peevish, angry and confused.  People that decry "big government" yet sign up early for Social Security and Medicare -- "before the Government goes bankrupt."  People that "don't care" about recycling or global warming.  People that "earned" their right to drive cars and consume oil -- forever.  People that were always financially secure in America and retired after many years at the same job.  They can't help feeling lucky, exceptional and entitled.  But to do so, they need to delude themselves -- that it's still 1959 in America.  They wouldn't vote for a 47-year-old, black President in 1000 years.  They voted for George Bush twice.

So please, Mr. Obama, stop trying to be safe enough to reach everyone and try harder to honor, to strengthen and to enlarge The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party -- that put you over the top against Hillary Clinton.  We do not want smiling, pretty, innocuous, prom-king Barry Obama.  We want Anti-Bush Barack Obama.  We want someone less comfortable as our candidate and generally more earnest and authentic -- to mobilize every single adult in families with incomes under $50K per year to vote.  Please try and be less flip and more solemn in making our case -- that George Bush's Republican Party, despite its cynical "small town values" rhetoric, abandons ninety percent of its constituency the day after every election.

Despite the fact you are not Left enough for us, Mr. Obama, you remain our only choice in America, short of emigration.  Please honor our trust and endorsement by making a real difference for America's politically and economically exploited majority.  First, however, you must convince that majority that John McCain, if he cares, cannot possibly change Washington and America due to the narrow self-interests driving his Party.  To this end, we wish to see you smiling and calculating less and caring more.  America is in deep, deep trouble and being President is always serious business.  Surely, a purer heart than George Bush's is needed.  If it be yours, please simply show it more!

Good luck and Godspeed.

Sincerely,

Todd and Mary Ryder

Friday, September 05, 2008

What's not to like?

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/stock-market-may-already-voting/story.aspx?guid=F82F7147-937C-4AC7-A226-5002673EAC0C&dist=SecMostRead#comments

A 72-year-old, cancer-ridden, pus-bag President?
A gun-toting, oil-drilling, MILF, beauty-queen VP -- one heartbeat away from the hardest job in the world?
Come on, Mr. Stock Market, what's not to like?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

On the whole, the plot was perhaps too fanciful for me to entirely suspend disbelief.  But the symbolism was deep, wide and dead on!  Gone Baby Gone is simply one of the best chronicles to date of America's current predicaments: War, Greed, Poverty and Class.

My wife and I had a HUGE argument regarding the basic moral dilemma over baby Amanda McCready's fictional future.  Like the film's protagonist, Patrick Kenzie, I too was compelled to defend a life lived as closely as possible to "the rules" of Church and of State over the alternative, where "the end justifies the means".

In short, my argument was that: Each time any of us willingly places a thumb on the scale of justice, to bend or break the basic code (evolving, egalitarian, democratic rule of law) establishing the moral framework, however flawed, for our complex society in a world of competing motives, then we are all damned.

When President Bush chose to invade Iraq because America needs oil or because Saddam Hussein was evil;  when banks risked collapsing our financial system, lending trillions to borrowers unable to repay, because the transaction fees were lucrative;  when radicals bomb clinics because abortion is murder in their eyes -- then we are all damned.

In other words, just where should my choice to "play God" begin or end?  With this riveting film noir, director Ben Affleck contends that no matter where it begins, it always ends badly!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Matt Taibbi and John McCain's "Gimmick"

Maybe it's homo-erotic, but I love Matt Taibbi.  I just don't see any media figure (maybe Bill Marr or Bill Moyers, albeit from different venues and to different audiences) swinging for the bleachers the way he does.

Thus I am waiting like a child for Christmas to hear and read Taibbi weigh-in on McCain's cynical, Nth-degree-focus-group, secure-the-base-at-all-cost, gimmick VP Sarah Palin. 

To that end, these are MoveOn's  Sarah Palin talking points, fresh from my inbox:

  • She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.1
  • Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.2
  • She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000. 3
  • Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.4
  • She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.5
  • She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.6
  • How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.7

And having just now spent an hour or two coursing YouTube for Taibbi snippets, poring over reviews of The Great Derangement, and rereading his Rolling Stone blogs, I find myself, at least momentarily, spiritually renewed by Mr. Taibbi's humanity, authenticity and integrity in documenting the current plight of average Americans.

I may be wrong, but I like to think that, like me, a switch flipped inside Taibbi with the 2004 Bush reelection.  At least that's when I really started paying attention to American polity, compelled to know what has gone so terribly wrong with my country.  And after Iraq, after the Bush reelection, after Katrina, suddenly there they were: Taibbi, Krugman, Maher, Oberman, Moyers, et al. -- new heroes for a New Left for a new Me.

I see now that Taibbi's Derangement thesis is essentially correct!  To quote Elton John lyrics, "We've all gone crazy lately..."  Like millions of Americans, I have become disillusioned, disenfranchised, anxiety-ridden -- basically crazy -- just like America's far left (911 was an inside job) or its extreme right (blindly supporting Israel in preparation for Biblical Armageddon).  In short, the status quo proves that any singular perspective, no matter how seemingly righteous or inspired, is best not taken to extremes.  After reading Taibbi, I struggle with basic questions like:  How much change can anyone really effect calling Americans idiots?  Or if 911 was an inside job, why couldn't our neocon puppet masters keep Katrina off the front page?

So where to go from here?  All I know is that, today, this is my credo:

  • War and murder are synonymous.  I would defend myself, my family, perhaps even this country -- if forced.  But I would never choose a war.
  • Economic profit and loss are mostly synonymous with luck.  And good luck, good ideas and good will are best shared within any healthy society.
  • Unregulated corporatism and crony capitalism has given rise to a corrupt socio-political-economic aristocracy that has unjustly profited at the expense of 98 or 99 percent of the world's population by suppressing wages and restricting upward mobility through narrow social, political and academic pedigree.

Obama understands the predicament better than McCain.  Obama is less, or at least more recently, a member of the corrupt class.  I will vote for Obama and for all matter of egalitarian change in general.

 

MoveOn.org Sources:

1. "Sarah Palin," Wikipedia, Accessed August 29, 2008
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Palin

2. "McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate," NARAL Pro-Choice America, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17515&id=13661-6457446-osY38_x&t=1

3. "Sarah Palin, Buchananite," The Nation, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17736&id=13661-6457446-osY38_x&t=2

4. "'Creation science' enters the race," Anchorage Daily News, October 27, 2006
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17737&id=13661-6457446-osY38_x&t=3

5. "Palin buys climate denial PR spin—ignores science," Huffington Post, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17517&id=13661-6457446-osY38_x&t=4

6. "McCain VP Pick Completes Shift to Bush Energy Policy," Sierra Club, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17518&id=13661-6457446-osY38_x&t=5

"Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past," League of Conservation Voters, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17519&id=13661-6457446-osY38_x&t=6

"Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor," The Times of London, May 23, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17520&id=13661-6457446-osY38_x&t=7

7 "McCain met Palin once before yesterday," MSNBC, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=21119&id=13661-6457446-osY38_x&t=8

Friday, August 29, 2008

An open letter to David Brooks

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/29/opinion/29brooks.html?8ty&emc=ty

FYI... Satire works best when you're poking the stick in your own eye, David.

So where's your sense of humor when it comes to the 72-year-old, cancerous, swollen-gland (yech!), pus-bag your own party has nominated? 

Better yet, in honor of your newly minted GOP VP candidate Sarah, "Palin and Tall", how about a snarky piece on non-disjunction?  I'm thinking maybe something titled "SARAH PALIN: RETARDS NEED OIL TOO!"

BTW, Maureen Dowd cuts us (liberals) better anyway! "I wonder if she'll [Michelle Obama] fist-bump the Queen?" -- now that's funny!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Arc of the Moral Universe

http://prudentbear.com/index.php/commentary/bearslair?art_id=10105

Unlike most ideologues, I admit I could be wrong … but we won’t know for several years, if ever, that “Obamanomics” makes things worse.

At least Mr. Hutchinson correctly identifies the main culprits for our current predicament: “It is here that one can most ferociously blame Messrs Greenspan and Bernanke and their decade of irresponsibly cheap money. By distorting price signals throughout the economy, and producing burst bubble after burst bubble without significant improvement in living standards except at the very top, they have enabled the left to claim that capitalism “doesn’t work” [at least not fairly] so we must bring in government and the unfortunate taxpayer to solve economic problems.” 

For my money, I hold that Keynes was correct – i.e. a Free Market economy (see Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 1962) is simply unlikely to ever truly exist.  One important reason I see is inheritance.  In short, no one can rationally argue that Cindy McCain has “replaced” (or even sustained) the economic “productiveness” of her father – so why should she control the firm he built?  Another reason is that democracies rarely tolerate the violent (see Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, 2007) cycles, alternating between utter suffering and absolute bliss, necessary to attain and maintain Friedman’s theoretically “unencumbered” economy.

Thus government is never the only answer, but neither is plutocracy.  Recent history clearly demonstrates it is both economically unproductive and morally irresponsible to legally sustain, mostly through inheritance, a permanent two-percent ruling class containing unproven and sometimes catastrophically unsuccessful trust-fund-baby leaders like George W. Bush.

Thus some form of balanced compromise must be continuously struck.  And when the vast majority of citizens in any democracy experiences painful, quality-of-life-wrenching economic hardships, then I see no reason not to tip the scale in the opposite direction -- in this case toward increasing wealth redistribution.

Where is America today, for example, without both its Roosevelt Presidents?  Without Lincoln?  Thus, in stark contrast to Friedman and later Reagan dogma, government has a moral role -- even in economics.  As Obama’s seeming favorite quote (see Martin Luther King, Jr.) goes “…the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

The time has simply come to favor more, egalitarian balance and opportunity and less George W. Bush and Cindy McCain leadership-as-birth-right.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wave Goodbye to Reagan's Idiot America

Yes.  It’s all a joke.  Only the joke’s on me.  And the joke is on you… 

Because no one can dispute that the top-two-percent has resoundingly succeeded in spreading its gospel of crony (er... laissez-faire) Capitalism (er... Democracy) around this planet.  But in doing so has seemingly missed that it spoiled the joke -- especially for the once proud and the once mighty American Middle Class.  And not surprisingly, this sudden realization -- that decades more Reagan-Bush-style financial profligacy is certain to lower living standards for 98% of us -- is not sitting at all well with the American electorate in an election year.

I liken the present situation to a friend's response years ago when I tried to convince him to watch Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room – “No thanks!  I know how it ends.”

Eventually even Joe America Sixpack wises up.  And the process has a name.  And that name is Populism!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why I'm voting Democrat

I’m voting Democrat because having 2% of the human population control >50% of the world’s capital is simply not working!  Because NO ONE is that smart and therefore power (hegemony) should never have been allowed to become so concentrated in so few hands!  Because Iraq, Katrina, the credit crisis, the energy crisis, stagnant wages (for 98% of us) and rising prices have clearly demonstrated the sham inherent in the myth of a 2% ruling class.

I am voting Democrat because history has clearly shown the 2% club cares mostly about itself – and trickle down economics, if it ever worked, has certainly STOPPED working for me as a voting citizen of the United States of America!

I am voting Democrat because I cannot understand that anyone in this country could vote for so long against his/her economic interests (98%) and in favor of theirs (2%) – that is simply beyond my comprehension.  That’s why I’m a liberal – because during the course of my life I have come to appreciate that human existence is neither a sport nor a game – with a small cadre of (lucky) winners and all others (98%) simply losers.  Because the world I see is not simple, not black and white, not a corporate profit and loss statement – despite what Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan and John McCain have said or written. 

I am voting Democrat because the world has too many weapons and not enough food.  Because safety can never be assured through murder.  Because The War on Terror will only be won following the rule of law -- through cooperative, multi-lateral law enforcement, through sharing ideas and ideals, through negotiation -- not through invasion and colonization. 

I am voting Democrat because we all breathe the same air; we all drink the same water.  We are all vastly more the SAME than we are different, and believing otherwise – i.e. believing primarily in the cult of individualism and in personal consumption without impact or consequence -- is the reason this planet is devolving to a giant, steaming pile of SHIT -- where each day the largest happiness any reasonable person can objectively muster is that he/she is one day closer to death -- one day closer to not having to live with competition instead of cooperation, with hatred instead of love or even empathy, with lies, oversimplifications and advertising over the pursuit of science, with worshipping my imperfect, owning, all-too-human (animal) self instead of the whole, perfect, abundant, sharable world.

I'm voting Democrat because, until things really change, it's just about the only hopeful, positive and life affirming thing I can do.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Agent Of Change

Don't denounce the rage, Obama!

Ludacriss is but an inkling, trickling indicator of that rage.

The lying, status-quo pigs and their mass media pundits have destroyed our economy and the lives of millions -- even as they've enriched themselves beyond measure.

Angry Blacks vote!

Exploited Hispanics vote!

And angry, jobless or under-employed and equally hopeless young whites WILL vote too!

Mark my words, a tsunami is coming!  And anyone with eyes can see the pigs are not polling the tsunami.

As banks collapse, foreclosures spiral, new mortgages disappear and the economy implodes under rising un/under-employment and commodity prices, it is possible that 60-70% of Americans under age 50 will vote for Barak Obama.

The Repiglican revolution is OVER!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Seventh Seal

http://www.moviemartyr.com/1957/seventhseal.htm

It occurs to me that Nietzsche distorted many elemental truths...

Yes.  Particles contend for space.

But there are orbits as well as collisions.  And life is as much dance as riot.

Bergman, Fellini, Truffaut, Kurosawa, et al. portend that, for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, nature is not so much clumsy brute or witless whore as cunning and occasionally beneficent dictator.

Suck on it, baby! Suck on it!

Capitalism – you gotta love it!?

UPDATE: Paulson Tops Hedge-Fund Pay List At $3.7B
Last update: 4/16/2008 10:05:22 AM

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

John Paulson, who earned $3.7 billion in 2007 shorting the subprime-mortgage market, was the highest-paid hedge fund manager in 2007, according to Alpha magazine.
George Soros and James Simons were second and third, respectively, each earning nearly $3 billion last year.
The three are among five managers who earned more than $1 billion.
Paulson, a former Bear Stearns Cos. (BSC) investment banker, runs New York-based Paulson & Co., which oversees $32 billion in assets. The fund pocketed a whopping $15 billion last year on bets that the housing market would crumble and the value of subprime mortgages would shrink.
Simons, who led the 2006 list with $1.7 billion, is head of Renaissance Technologies Corp., a leading quantitative hedge-fund firm that oversees more than $30 billion. He earned $2.8 million last year.
Soros runs Soros Fund Management and took home $2.9 million in 2007. He was the top earner on Alpha's inaugural list in 2002, with $700 million.
In fourth place was Philip Falcone of Harbinger Capital Partners who earned $1.7 billion, and Kenneth Griffin of Citadel Investment Group was fifth with $1.5 billion.
The top 25 managers earned, on average, $877 million in 2007, up 65% from 2006. Alpha doubled the list to 50 this year, and eight people from the U.K. made the cut. Managers needed to earn $210 million to qualify for the ranking.
-By Kathy Shwiff, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-5975; Kathy.Shwiff@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 16, 2008 10:05 ET (14:05 GMT)

And his tax rate was 15%.  It's so refreshing to see Democracy in action!

 

And now for something completely different…

Merill Lynch today offloaded $30B in toxic mortgages for $7B (that’s $0.23 on the dollar) and raised $8.5B in new capital issuing another 320M shares – a mere 20% dilution for current shareholders already down ~40% YTD.  The stock is up after hours.  Priceless!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

There Will Be Blood

I just watched the movie – it's a poem really – about America’s twin diseases: God and Capitalism.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/

And the moral of the poem is that Greed is not good and God, despite all legends to the contrary, provides no absolution from all-too-human selfishness.

In other words, one might say that want and starvation are the two sides of Satan’s coinage – surely one side kills the body, but the other kills the soul!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fuck You Grandpa War

Grandpa War, you ugly, old, pot-bellied, infected, cancerous, $300M cuckold. 

What the fuck would you know about change(?) -- when you've done nothing but suck the tit of the STATUS QUO for 72 years. 

You lying, evil fucking pig!

Grandpa War, you war-mongering, shriveled, old, idiot-Bush, offshore-drilling, senior-citizen, Socialism-for-the-Rich, Capitalism-for-Everyone-Else, dissipated, dissipative, hurry-up-and-run-this-planet-into-the-ground-before-I-die fucking pig. 

What the fuck would you know about anything -- except RUIN?

RUIN -- that is your Reagan-Bush-Pig legacy!  And now it's time for you to get down on your knees and suck on it!

You and your fucking Republican pigs have ruined this planet.  Ruined this country.  Ruined every living and dead thing.

You are EVIL.  You are CORRUPTION.  You are DEATH.  You are DISSIPATION.  And you are RUIN.

You wouldn't know change if it was shot up your catheter on the end of a silver bullet you fucking Bush-Pig!

And I pray to God that one day soon you filthy, lying pigs will know that EVEN THE STUPID, DELUDED, MIS-EDUCATED AND DEFECTIVE ARE CAPABLE OF WISING UP!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What about FAILURE don't you understand?

Grandpa War, Commander and Chief of the Iraq War, just what about the word failure don't you understand?

Don't you understand that America is fed up with being led by half-cretins with southern accents.  Because America finally understands that having the United States run by the same, evolution doubting, inbred Southern whites I hoped to compete against for university admission is not a good idea!

Grandpa War, don't you understand that America is fed up with BIG OIL and BIG OIL REPUBLICANS -- spouting more and more bullshit like "We need more offshore drilling. We need to drill for oil in Yellowstone Park.  We need to drill for oil in your front and back yards.  We need to drill for oil in your children's foreheads.

WE'RE SICK OF IT! 

Americans are not as stupid as you think, Grandpa War.  We can all pretty much see that Big Oil doesn't want to drill -- it wants to own.  But Big Oil doesn't own any oil.  Norway does.  Russia does.  Canada does.  Venezuela does.  Iran does.  Iraq does.  Saudi Arabia does.  But Big Oil doesn't -- but it desperately wants to. 

Grandpa War, we can see now that Big Oil only wants more, perpetual leases -- so it can sit on them indefinitely -- until oil is $250.00 or $500.00 a barrel.  Then, Grandpa War, Big Oil will claim it needs more leases, more tax cuts, more subsidies...  In short, Grandpa, BIG OIL REPUBLICAN GREED just never ends!  And America has finally figured out that BIG OIL REPUBLICAN interests are not in America's best interest.

Don't you understand, Grandpa War, that Republicans have mostly controlled the Presidency for 40 years?!  How many more chances to fix this do you deserve? 

ZERO!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Joe American Idiot

They won't post my Joe America comments on youtube.com, so I have posted them here...

Iraq OWES us...

Just what does Iraq owe us for?

  • Because we INVADED their country?!
  • Because we KILLED six hundred thousand innocent Iraqis?!
  • Because we DISPLACED four and one half million Iraqis – now refugees -- that fled to escape the violence and death we either perpetrated or unleashed in their homeland?!
  • Because we made SADAM HUSSEIN look like a good leader?!

Iraq OWES us for that?!

It's time to face reality, Joe America. 

The U.S. does not own this planet and this planet owes the U.S. nothing!

So stop boring the rest of the planet with your, "pull my finger" flatulent, pot-bellied, high-cholesterol, diabetic, jingoistic, trickle-down Capitalism already!

It's time to admit that Capitalism (er... I mean Democracy) at gunpoint is a failure.  And just what about the word failure don't you understand, Joe?

In the end, it seems we just don’t have enough American men and women ready, willing and able to die -- so the U.S. can attain a low cost oil supply.  You see, Joe, on this planet, to steal another country's oil, you need boots on the ground -- lots of them in order to keep the derricks pumping and the pipelines flowing.  And we just don't have them -- at least not willingly.  And we just can't afford the cost of mercenaries like Blackwater.  And with our shoddy, corrupt and exploitive record, we just can't win a battle of ideas with the rest of the world, which -- surprisingly to most Americans apparently --  objects to theft.

Face it, Joe!  America, as most of us perceive it, is in decline.  Our failed Iraq War is heading for its sixth birthday.  And Guess what?  Iran won!  And now Iran gets to have THE BOMB too -- which arguably it needs to protect itself from impending U.S. and Israeli attack, if for no other reason.

Much as you hate advice, Joe.  Here's some anyway: SHUT UP!  Go on a diet.  Learn to pay market price -- presently ~$135/barrel -- like everybody else.  Or go without -- e.g. by switching to windmills, solar panels, plug in cars, etc.

But then we all not-so-secretly know that Alternative Energy will never be implemented substantially in this country…   Because Big Oil and Big Utilities and Big Corporate Everything simply don't want it!  Because sustainability and individual empowerment means less profit for them.  And when it comes right down to it, America is their country, Joe -- not yours, not mine, not ours.

Thus the truth, Joe, is that your hope for a better future, like the one you and your father -- as workers -- might have had, but squandered to the Right, lies in this country somehow ending its losing wars to steal the natural resources of sovereign nations;  In ending the killing of innocents;  In voting to weaken U.S. corporate/government fascism;  In voting to dissolve Big Brother's Wall Street Cabal;  In voting to disempower the Washington insiders that began stealing this country in earnest under Reagan, then gradually hollowed it to little more than a rotting, crumbling shell under Bush. 

Yes, Joe America, your only hope is in demanding the dissolution of the Soviet Union of America!  In waking up while there is perhaps still time, to demand... "Mr. Bush, Tear Down This Wall!"

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Great American Myths

The following myths have long persisted in this country.  Mostly they have been perpetuated by the Right, by the Reagan Coalition if you will.  But they are un-truths that must be un-taught and undone if we are to save the United States and Planet Earth from continuing and inevitable decline in life quality.

Virtue, Democracy, Liberty and Capitalism are the same thing.  The American Right has conflated those terms and concepts for decades.  And politically it's worked -- until now.  After 911, George Bush spoke of liberating Iraq.  But on the ground, U.S. military, government and corporate actions in Iraq have demonstrated that what Bush really meant was liberating Iraq's oil for multinational corporations and eager (but struggling after 911) U.S. consumers.  That's not liberation.  It's theft and its murder. 

Instantaneous information through the Internet and other real-time media has ended the era of pirate capitalism.  Globalization has created an integrated world economy which promises fair market prices, basic rule of law and freedom from violence -- for all.  Today it is finally time for the United States of America to learn to go along, get along, renounce war and violence, pay fair market prices like everyone else, or learn to do without.  As a citizen of the world, America must acknowledge that unregulated Capitalism benefits primarily the richest, while The Bill of Rights defends the poor, the weak and the powerless from exploitation by subjugating everyone to the rule of law.  In short, Capitalism fosters greed while the rule of law fosters justice.  As human beings, Americans must work harder to mitigate the damage produced from these irreconcilable differences.

It was only through simplistic, bumper-sticker conflation of human values, masking a greed agenda, coupled with fear-mongering -- first under The Cold War then later The War on Terror -- that the Right could ever induce a majority of Americans to vote against its own best interests for three decades.

Cheap gasoline is an American birthright.  Henry Ford may have invented (essentially first to economically mass produce) the automobile, but he didn't invent oil -- and neither did John D. Rockefeller.  Oil is a naturally occurring commodity resulting from millions of years of slow geological processes.  And today, after more than a hundred year industrial and technological revolution, gasoline is still mostly refined from crude oil.  But now our world is running out and Peak Oil is a legitimate economic and geopolitical concern.  Thus -- absent real technological transformation away from oil to renewable energy sources and conservation -- America's cheap gasoline economy is doomed -- a too-far-flung, suburban dinosaur of economic history. 

Finally, the two-time election of a smirking, imbecilic, ne'er-do-well oil man as President of the United States has exposed America's addiction to oil.

When the rich get richer, everyone benefits.  When I was a boy, one salient aspiration I held was to earn $12,000 annually (my father's approximate salary at the time), live in a well maintained home that I could keep as I pleased and to try and be happy.  Today my wife and I have amassed a net worth, including our home and rental property, well in excess of $1M -- but I am not rich nor happy.  Instead I feel mostly cheated and resentful -- just another victim of Milton Friedman's Trickle Down theories of economics. 

What exactly do I resent?

  1. I resent that -- no matter how hard I work, how much I save, or how well I invest -- I will never become rich -- as I was taught my whole life I could.  At age 46, I realize that I am simply not lucky or connected enough to become a member of the one percent club.  Thus, under Capitalism, like other top-down, politburo systems -- e.g. Soviet Communism, when one is unable to attain membership in the one percent club, then intelligence, education or any form of self/world awareness is simply a vexation to one's existence.
  2. I resent that in my country, I cannot afford health care; that if my wife or I became very sick, we would be forced to spend two lifetimes of savings in very short order.
  3. I resent that the President of my country is a war-mongering imbecile.  And that my country might very well elect another war-mongering imbecile, John McCain, to replace him.
  4. I resent my leaders -- all of them -- these government and corporate leaders of myriad nameless, faceless, amoral agencies and corporations that I must serve to remain economically viable as price inflation and currency deflation (baseless, fiat currency is the ultimate economic bubble) erodes my paycheck and my self esteem.
  5. I resent that corporate officers where I work earn 300 times what I earn annually.  And I resent that by most comparisons, my situation is actually quite good, because for most workers, CEO-to-worker pay ratios are often greater than one-thousand-to-one.
  6. I resent that my electoral government and capitalist corporations have merged -- are basically interwoven threads of the same corrupting fabric of minimally regulated, under-taxed capitalism that has never produced any meaningful economic outcome except the one-percent-club and everyone else
  7. I resent that corruption and concentration of power is so great today that I see little difference between my country (where all my life I was taught I was free to choose my destiny) and Ronald Reagan's former evil empire, the Soviet Union.  I resent that today, my nation is a soft neo-fascist State ruled by oligarchs and aparatchiks, with a collapsing national currency, with its economic vitality drained to further enrich the top one percent -- and inching ever closer to the old Soviet adage of "you pretend to pay us and we pretend to work."   In other words, I resent working to stay poor.
  8. I resent that my Grandfather's America is gone and that my Father's America, built from post-WWII Baby Boom optimism (resulting undoubtedly from basic survival in the face of incomprehensible war and death) has produced little more than a morally and intellectually deteriorating materialist society consisting of desolate highways between myriad, sprawling suburban tracts surrounding rotting city cores .  That I, like most American citizens, am simply caught up -- distracted if you will -- in my own inevitable self-burial under a seemingly endless supply of new and improved consumer goods, manufactured elsewhere by workers like me, earning slave wages.
  9. Finally, I resent that amoral ambition is so frighteningly overrated while happiness -- or simply sustainability -- is so vastly underrated, by Capitalism.

War, for lack of a better term, is good.  The Cold WarThe War on Terror.  These are not wars but rather insidious advertising campaigns designed to engender permanent obligation on the part of citizens -- to a government and multi-national corporate Military Industrial Complex

In the modern world, War is nothing more than government/corporate-induced plague.  And we as citizens are both ignorant and foolish for yielding to the illusion of its necessity. 

First, we are ignorant (from a basic statistical standpoint) for panicking at every incident of unrest anywhere on this planet.  Second, we are fools for queuing like cows in chutes to the killing floor to die en masse for essentially capitalistic and corporate goals masked by sick jingoism ("...the people who knocked down these buildings [will] hear all of us soon.") -- for swearing oaths (I am a veteran of the U.S military, by the way) of servitude to governments no smarter (only more cynical and manipulative) or omniscient than ourselves. 

In rational -- and later technological -- terms, Nietzsche may very well have killed God, but his fake Church and his lying State (Stendhal's Red and Black) are ever prospering on Planet Earth -- at the expense of every living, especially thinking, thing!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Barak Obama

1. Barak Obama is a Black man in a White country.

Obama came from humble but diverse origins.  One advantage he had, that most African Americans don't, is that he grew up in Hawaii -- a multi-racial, pan-Asian/White culture where racial discrimination is not as prevalent as in the continental U.S.

But obviously, in order to become the Editor of the Harvard Law Review and a Senator from Illinois, Obama has had to both understand and to cope with American racism.  And while as a white American I cannot understand it, I see no bitterness but only optimism and clear and decisive pragmatism in Barak Obama.

2. John McCain is a Hater.

I know a hater when I see one.  I am a hater.  My father is a hater.  My grandparents were haters.  George W. Bush is a hater.  And Senator John McCain and the America he represents clearly exhibits a pathology of hate: race hatred, class hatred, religious hatred and political hatred -- hatred that has crippled political and economic progress in this country for decades if not centuries.

Haters cannot tolerate diversity.  Haters exhibit superiority complexes.  Haters seek revenge over justice.  Haters extol unbridled Capitalism, which in turn spawns class hatred on the part of its victims.  Worst of all, haters tend to start wars for no good reason. 

Mr. McCain was a POW in America's no good war against North Vietnam.  The Vietnam War, like the Iraq War, failed catastrophically and led the nation into recession.  During Vietnam, John McCain was a Navy pilot as American warplanes bombed Vietnamese and Cambodian civilians for more than a decade, killing two million Vietnamese -- one in ten Vietnamese people -- a literal Cold War Holocaust. 

Under Vietnamese captivity, Captain McCain was starved and tortured to the point of attempting suicide at least twice.  It's arguable these experiences have irreparably seared hatred and vengeance into John McCain's psyche. 

Thus, it is logical that John McCain will plunge America ever deeper into war -- into wars larger and more catastrophic than Vietnam and Iraq combined.  Only this is not 1944, and America doesn't have six hundred thousand boys to sacrifice on John McCain and George Bush's  "freedom"  altar.  In 2008, America is old, fat and stupid, but still gullible to John McCain's delusions regarding its military power. 

But hasn't the Iraq War already proved to this planet that America can no longer sustain, let alone win, an extended ground war against poor and desperate people -- the kind of war it would have to win to steal the oil from poor countries like Iraq, Sudan and Nigeria. 

When will America learn to stop attacking, stop sacrificing innocents for economic gain, resort only to defending its citizens by the rule of law, and most importantly, to negotiate with its rivals and its enemies?  This will never occur under Bush-McCain; never under delusions of greatness and empire; never under hatred.

Still, in the world view of people like John McCain, America holds one trump card:  Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Yes.  America can destroy the planet if it comes to that.

Thus, Mutually Assured Destruction is all that remains of America's military prowess.  And it's time to be realistic about the fact that MAD will never entitle the U.S. to a single drop of foreign oil -- no matter how much simple reality angers delusional haters like Bush, Cheney and McCain.

In short, when I look at John McCain, I see all of America's ridiculous delusions -- it's obvious inability to cope with basic economic and political reality for nearly forty years -- in one unhappy, pot-bellied, wrinkled, angry little man. 

And I simply don't see that when I look at Barak Obama.

3. Barak Obama is both well educated and intelligent.

At a time when such a view was both unpopular and misunderstood, Barak Obama openly criticized George Bush's catastrophic decision to wage war against Iraq.  Since then, as America has lost blood, treasure, prestige and security under a Bush-Cheney-McCain foreign policy putting aggression first, Obama's then prescient views have clearly been vindicated .

There can be no question that today, after eight years and more of retarded Republican energy policy and utterly failed international aggression, that America's wrong-headed Republican-led War On Terror has failed and today America is weaker and at greater economic and military risk than at virtually any time in its history.

4. Barak Obama is young enough to understand the needs of the future.

In November, Barak Obama will be 47 and John McCain will be 72.  Simply do the math. 

America doesn't need another President nodding off or drooling on himself through cabinet briefings with titles like "Bin Laden Determined to Attack U.S." 

Isn't eight years of drool, drivel and stuttering enough already? 

I certainly think so.

5. It's simply time for CHANGE in American politics.

I think there can be no question that that the politics of America today is that of failure and of status quo.  And while I could prattle on about the need for lobbying reform, campaign finance reform, against corporate soft fascist hegemony, et al, suffice it to say that from my vantage John McCain is a mirror on America's failures over forty years, while Barak Obama is a looking glass to America's possibilities;  To the possibility that America can somehow find a way to stop hating, stop killing and stop resisting essential social, economic and environmental change for the better. 

In short, it is time to go through the Obama looking glass.  Maybe things will improve.  Maybe they won't.  But I think we can mostly agree that at least four decades of Republican and Republican Lite politics has painted this country and this planet into a corner;  that our collective future must somehow be different than our past; or that we are simply doomed -- because America cannot kill or print its way out of this mess.