Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Liberal vs Conservative

October 7, 2010

Liberals feel “called” for lack of a better term, to be inclusive. The Great Commission, as well as the Communist Manifesto are both visions of inclusive social, political, or religious movements. Communism can also be viewed as a “socialist” religious movement. Liberal movements practice conquest by inclusion. Liberal organizations loose their raison d’être when they have converted everyone. When reason to be is lost, more conservative elements take over and undertake purification to extend the life, as well as protect the lives and investment of those involved in the organization. Stalin was the conservative figure who seized control of the Soviet system and then purged his liberal rivals during the 1930’s. Likewise the bishop of Rome used the various councils to work out which of the common practices and beliefs of the early Christian Church would be included in Catholicism. Later popes used the inquisition to remove those who had divergent views. The Republican Party has made a similar transition. Liberal movements accomplish their purpose then either dissipate or become conservative.

Conservative movements, on the other hand, exist to conserve some vision of purity. This is accomplished by inviting imperfect individuals to make themselves absent. If such invitations are not accepted, troublesome individuals are forcibly removed. The methods which have been employed to accomplish removals range from shell games with meetings to the taking of life. History is filled with examples of conservative movements. Ancient Israel. The Roman Empire was the conservator of Greek civilization. The Papacy of the early middle ages served as the conservator of Ancient Rome. The Holy Roman Empire was the conservator of the Papacy of the early middle ages. The American Revolution was a conserving event used to maintain gains associated with the liberal era known as the enlightenment. Napoleon’s empire can be viewed as an effort to conserve the national status of France from before the liberal French Revolution. The American Civil War can be viewed as an attempt to conserve the rights of individual states to limit the freedom and status of certain of their citizens. The Third Reich was an attempt to conserve the German Empire which existed prior to World War One. The problem with conservative movements is they don’t go away easily or peacefully. War seems to often be required to resolve their issues.

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Contract on America

May 20, 2010

If you know any of the tea party crowd you know they are a bunch of modern day confederates who would love nothing more than to re-fight the civil war. No one should ever forget the whole confederate thing was about the supposed constitutional rights of states to allow certain citizens of privilege to enslave certain other citizens of less privilege. The tea party solution is to eliminate all supreme court decisions, case law, amendments, and go back to 1789 where anyone could pretty much do whatever they wanted unless they were caught in the act. Where upon they would be lynched and hanged on the spot. If the tea party gets control of the USA it could easily become more cruel and evil then Nazi Germany.

2010 State of the Union Response

January 28, 2010

As an independent and moderate with perhaps a more liberal view of politics and finance, I thought the president did pretty well. The president’s message has always involved reducing the gridlock and self serving negativity so real problems that actually mater can be addressed and fixed.

As a voter I want a financial oversight board which has the power to stop all of the nonsense in the financial industry. Lets face it Wall street might as well be a casino. If we are going to insist on regulating gambling, Wall street should be regulated as a gambling institution. As a voter I want the banks regulated enough to at least assure their stability.

As a voter I want the jobs problem fixed once and for all. That includes removing all tax credits for any company which primarily sells their products in the United States but does not maintain a US workforce which adds significant real value to said products. Marketing and management do not add value to anything. I would not be opposed to the government being an employer of last resort. As a voter I want the corruption in government to end, and the president’s ideas involving the dealings with lobbyist, seem immediately appropriate. If we need to pay public servants better so they don’t need to be part time lobbyist, then lets do it.

As a voter I expect the health care mess to get fixed without the special deals to get a vote here or there. I hold conservatives responsible for not contributing to a workable plan. As a whole, not one of the ideas republicans have proposed will significantly help solve this problem in any possible way. Each conservative proposal seems designed to fix things by making them eventually worse especially for the middle class. Remember the prescription drug plan which doubled the prices of prescriptions, and resulted in US Big Pharma being bought up by European firms who casually shifted production out of the US? Another legacy idea that got compromised into disaster by conservatives. We do not need any more of those. As for the idea of eliminating state control of insurance companies, the only beneficiaries of that scam would be investment bankers who are lucky enough to manage the consolidation frenzy. Any cost savings will be immediately destroyed by debt used by the winners of the bidding wars. Lets face it, people in the middle class and especially baby boomers are seen in the worst possible light by the conservatives. As large numbers of baby boomers approach retirement you can expect social security to become the target of a massive conservative assault if republicans regain control of the US government again. If the market bubbles since 1999 had not wrecked conservative plans, the current debate would be about eliminating all “new deal” financial controls and programs, including medicare and social security. If conservatives had their way, there would never be a debate about health care, as they are perhaps the primary beneficiaries of the current system.

As a voter I want something done about the student loan mess, as well as the cost of university. A first step in reducing future debt involves removing the tax on scholarships to cover housing while attending college. Current student loan debt will cripple any possibility of any housing recovery for at least the next fifteen, perhaps twenty five years, unless we have massive wage inflation, which is not possible in the current situation. The president’s proposals are a half step in dealing with this issue, which by the way is another one of those legacy issues, in that grants have been largely eliminated in favor of loans, and the tax on student housing grants has been around for a while.

Since most student loans are owned by the US government, I think people holding them should be given at least a tax credit for the amount paid straight off of their taxes. Those who paid for their education out right, or have paid off their student loans, should have the option of anonymously paying down student loan balances of at least one third party each year in return for a similar deduction or credit, with limits on the total amount of any such deduction or tax credit.

the offshore financial tsunami

November 24, 2009

In other news it is time to revisit February 12, 2004. That day Gregory Mankiw from the Bush White House economic department said something to the effect that outsourcing US jobs offshore was a good long term economic idea. I suppose five years later is getting on to long term, and It matter of fact does not look like such a fine idea. A wsj.com article on that date states that 2,000,000 jobs were lost to that point during the Bush presidency. Many of these were good paying middle class positions. You may remember trickle down economics from the Reagen – Bush era. You can’t remove 150,000,000,000 from the middle tier of any economy without some serious trickle down effects. In the communities where these positions were lost the impact was fairly immediate. The all night grocery store became the 8:00AM to 9:00 PM grocery. The classy car rental agency became rent-a-wreck. Restaurants closed. People lost their homes, cars, whatever. Some lost their families. Others moved in with relatives. In other places no one noticed. The market was up because companies could now pay bigger dividends. No one particularly noticed they were selling less stuff. Investors cashed out of the dot.com bubble and cashed in on the homes of displaced technical workers who once made $75,000 or better per year. Many of those displaced workers from 2001 either retired or worked part time for maybe 15,000 per year. Flippers flipped bargain basement foreclosure real estate for obscene profits to people with hidden balloon payment mortgages. Everyone was happy, except for those who had already lost everything. Bushie, Inc. was re- elected and all was good. Or so they thought. The free market crowd declared all the agencies which helped move the country out of the great depression could be disbanded, and all of that would have happened had Democrats been less successful in the 2006 election. No one but the affected voters had notice the brewing catastrophe. Voters had to some degree however, noticed, and a few of them were not particularly happy. But all was generally thought to be well, until those balloon payments on adjustable rate mortgages came due. By this time however the investor class had flipped out of the housing market into commodities, particularly oil. Bankers and their collateralizing friends were left to collect the profits in the wake of the flippers. All was thought to be well in the financial world. A couple hurricanes caused temporary shortages of gasoline and oil in the south eastern United States. This translated into a historic profit opportunity for the investor class, and they did not fail to take huge speculative positions in oil. The price of ramped up. For many months the retail price of gasoline would touch $3.00 per gallon in the United States. Demand would tank, and the price would fall back. This toying with disaster continued. Credit cards were maxed out buying gasoline for the big SUV. In the spring of 2008 retail gasoline prices again crossed the $3.00 threshold. A number of factors natural and otherwise kept the retail price of gasoline climbing this time however. The gas guzzling SUV was parked, sold, or traded for anything more fuel efficient. Demand trended down, but the price of oil kept climbing. All was well with the investor class, because everyone had to have oil. Everyone had to go to work to keep those ballooning ARM’s paid. Speculation pushed the price of oil toward $150 per barrel. The retail price of gasoline crossed $4.00 per gallon. Auto sales crashed, along with sales of most everything else. As sales collapsed, profits collapsed, and with profits, payrolls, which completed the feedback loop. Home foreclosures, already bad, hit record levels. Home prices most recently supported by the buyout cost of attached mortgages went underwater, shutting off US consumers home equity loan funds, and lots of credit cards. Adjustable rate mortgages went into foreclosure as their balloon payments came due. As ARM’s failed the underlying securities known as derivatives also failed. Investment banks in particular were forced into precarious positions, and many failed.

It is true there were many reasons for this chain of events. Mainly it was the final product of unbridled greed within the investment community, but it started with the movement of good US jobs offshore, and became a tsunami which wiped out main street and much of Wall Street.

This Fine Mess

August 20, 2009

The night the supreme court made Bushy, Inc president I told my in-laws our family would be unemployed, foreclosed, bankrupt, and homeless by the time he was out of office. This economic mess actually started much earlier – when the neo-conservative republicans took over the congress in 1994. Their win was a response to the liberal extremes on the democratic side attempting to force a more liberal vision of “morality” on a mostly moderate America. The middle class in our country has suffered through 15 years of oscillation between extreme political opinions on how to manage the economy, govern the country, and influence the world. The conservatives who claim to have all the answers have run up the US national debt in what can only be rationally described from their perspective as an effort to bankrupt the country. The only logical reason for this seems to be so that no future government could afford to pay for any social programs, particularly social security for neo-conservative’s most hated of all generations in history – the WW2 baby boomers. This has a lot to do with boomers social security being the largest government cost item in world history. Conservatives simply cannot get by giving up that much of a limited pile of wealth to support anyone in their old age. Up until now, these conservatives have been constrained in how to be rid of old boomers, by their supposed morality. Watch carefully, those nice woolly sheep are growing teeth, bushy tails, and pointy ears. The conservatives and their supporters in business systematically destroyed the fabric of the American economy in a desperate effort to maximize shareholder value, cut costs, save money, and eliminate taxes. At one point they even had a vision of going back and eliminating all the social programs that were put in place during the great depression. They have their depression. It will take more than a few months to move beyond this mess. Two years is a minimum.The republicans and their supporters did this thing over at least fifteen years. Their theory is basically there should be a limited amount of wealth in the world, they want it all, and no one else, including the American middle class should have any. This mentality pervades American business, and is the engine which is busy driving everything but retail, finance, and marketing out of the United States economy. Ok, so they haven’t eliminated your profession yet? You can bet they are busy figuring out how to eliminate you – because your salary is a cost on someone’s balance sheet. Eliminating you enables higher executive salaries and higher shareholder profits. If this train does not get turned about, your turn comes. If it can be moved off shore it will be. Ask those people who lost their jobs with the big hotel conglomerate a few weeks ago – they were outsourced to India. That particular outfit charges above one hundred bucks a night at their facilities across small town America which is almost double what it was only a few years ago. Their market is primary in the United States of America. Why are they further injuring the US economy by laying off people and running up the price of their service. Which makes fewer Americans able to afford to stay in their hotels? There is only one answer. They are greedy, beady eyed, and stupid. If they must move into these emerging markets, then they should build hotels there.

Sarah Palin and the Republicans

July 13, 2009

Wow. Things sure get cold in republicanville after a lost election. Especially, the vice presidential canidate is a relatively good looking woman. But wait – that is what they hated so much about Hillary in 1994 – wasn’t it? She was just too good looking to be a successful lawyer in her own right. Too pretty to fix health care. Sarah Palin has resigned from her governorship, probably for personal financial reasons, as well as the other big secret of state government – the job is incredibly boring. If it is not then why do the more interesting of the political types have these oh so secret lives, chasing interns, teleporting themselves from the hiking trail to Buenos Aires via the Atlanta airport, or cutting brush in 100 degree days in Texas. If being a governor is not so incredibly boring then why is it governors need these distractions? Lets face it being a governor IS incredibly boring. Sarah had a relatively simple choice. She could find trouble to get into. She could countinue the Obama bashing the republicans wanted which does not ring well one populist against another – party differences and looks aside. Otherwise, she could resign and go fishing. The republican pundits are of course having a field day, but one should look beyond the pundits. There has been a coordinated attempt by a handful of Republicans operatives in Alaska to destroy this Republican governor. Why? Because there is more to this than the fact she is a Republican. She is not the right kind of Republican. Republican women who make it to the big time are the daughters of wealth, power, pomp and circumstance. Not Sarah Palin.

Russian programmers manipulation of markets

July 6, 2009

If someone else could use this program to unfairly manipulate markets…  I presume that is exactly what “the bank” has been doing with said software. If this program was neting them millions and millions of bucks, I think you can bet they were using it to their own maximum advantage. Were other banks targeted by “the bank” using this program, or some similar technology, offensively? I think a US attorney should be looking into how “the bank” was using as well as mis-using this technology.

One other thing – as a software developer, we often insert clauses into contracts to protect our interests – particularly if our own prior art is involved. The defendant in this case is at least somewhat of an expert on image and neural processing. They would not be paying him 400K per year, if he were not. Any software expert would insert a clause into his employment contract, allowing himself a legal copy or “fork” of the code he developed. He would also insist on a clause maintaining his right to continue developing his “fork”. This would be particularly applicable if the developed system contained methods or algorithms he had previously designed, developed, or invented. This could be how the defense can say they have broken no law. It would also mean “the bank” is using the government, and the legal system, to break an otherwise legally binding employment or consulting contract.

Some other US attorney should also be asking what this software had to do with the price of oil one year ago…

I Love Republicans

July 1, 2009

I love republicans. Most of them are good people, but politically, they are their own worst enemies. Take the great governor of the great state of South Carolina. Mr. Governor screws up big time by sneaking off to visit his mistress in Argentina, while hiking on the Appalachian Trail. He gets caught on the way back to the trail by a reporter in the Atlanta Airport. Now he can’t stop talking. I hope his mistress is at least half as embarassed as the rest of us while he is revealing the details of their tryst to on-air reporters. His republican friends now want to dump him, cause he is no longer a good republican. He is no longer ideologically pure. The party must be pure to win. Some of his friends think “he needs help”. The rest of us have thought so for a while now. I guess a New York call girl wasn’t good enough for the likes of him. Before the governor snuck off to Buenos Aries, he was presidential material. Now, he is mentally unstable. Go figure.

Maybe double daring him to “out perform” that NY gov was a bad idea.

Colin Powel and the Republicans

May 8, 2009

Extremist movements whether they are national like the Confederate Republicans, or your local ultra conservative religious group, eventually suffer the same fate unless something forces diversification. Idealogical extreamists have a need to be “correct”. If they are “right” enough, their thinking goes, then they will win. Rush has been busy talking about the need to do this. Colin Powell, who is not a Confederate Republican, is voicing the exact opposite opinion: the GOP must expand to get beyond this recursion into self. If the recursion into self continues, all those who disagree with the “core” group which seems to be Confederate Republicans, will be kicked out of the party. Whether Stalinist, Nazi, Confederate Republicans, or a small fundamentalist church do this, it is always for the same reasons: Ideological Purification. Small fundamentalist churches do it something like this: There are sinners in the world. We are in the world. There must be sinners in us. No sinners found. If we were perfect we would win.  We are not winning.  Someone among us must have impure thoughts. Find the ideological sinner.  No sinners found.  Find the guy who looks like he has impure thoughts.  Throw him out. Repeat process until one man is left standing. Perhaps Powell understands the GOP will self destruct if this process is not stopped. Hitler destroyed Germany and much of Europe riding this engine. The same pattern can be found in any extreme ideology searching for purity. Consider the Soviet Union and Stalin’s purges if you are in doubt. The quest for ideological purity can destroy most human endeavors, and perhaps humanity itself. So what has suddenly killed Republicanism? The quest for ideological purity forced out government regulation. If they could, they got rid of it.  If they couldn’t get rid of it, they didn’t bother to enforce it. If capitalism and the market economy can solve every problem known to man: why do we need any regulation?  Or government, for that matter? So now we have toxic assets, toxic air, toxic peanuts, toxic toys, toxic vegetables, toxic water, and toxic wall board. Ok, so we had toxic government.  The nation tossed them out last year. Now they are off purifying themselves, tossing out all the impure ideological fellows amongst them. Shouldn’t be too long after that task is complete, they will be purging all their fellows who look idealogically impure.  When Rush is the only one left standing, he should consider himself lucky. In another place and time, he might find himself in his own bunker, in his own Berlin, waiting the arrival of his own Soviet Army. This America finds a comfort zone in the area under the bell curve. You might call it the umbrella of diversity of thought and union of common interest.  Powell would move the republican party back under the bell curve, and away from ideological extremism. That might save the party. Sure couldn’t hurt America.  Couldn’t hurt the rest of the world, much either.

Another set of dumb ideas

September 25, 2008

Original Post: September 25, 2008

Presidential pronouncements not withstanding, when one analyzes the primary effect of the Bush administrations cumulative actions over eight years, it appears to have something to do with elevating the price of oil. At some point an analyst must step back and ask himself whether the primary cumulative effect of an organization’s actions are just a co-incidence, or if those results were indeed the primary goal. We usually look at the set of discrete activities so as to determine how each of them has effected a problem. In this case this analyst strongly suspects the elevated price of oil was and is their primary goal – perhaps their only real goal.

Wonder how Hillary plans to make sure the oil companies do not pass the “windfall” profits tax back to consumers. Do the math Hill! Lets simulate this: You drop the $0.18 gas tax. The oil companies raise the price to what the market will bear – were it was before the tax was removed. You tax them for making too much profit, so they pass the tax on to the rest of us after doubling it to it’s “retail” values. This is NOTHING more than a gimmick.

If you want to lower the price of oil, the funds rate needs to go UP a quarter point, and then raise the margin on commodities trading to 20%. It’s simply nuts to let a guy with $5000 control $100,000 worth of oil.

We are obviously shrinking back to a value added economy, and speculators add no value to anything. For that matter neither do politicians.