Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Men with beards respond…

I’m posting this here as a topical subject.  It may not seem economics related, but to me it is as it speaks to trust.  There is no way a nation can continue to produce $16 trillion dollars a year and not have trust as a basic position to starting all conversations.  No nation built on mistrust survives long as an economic growth machine  compared to humanity’s existence.

In response to all the intentional distortion regarding Bob Bergdhal’s appearance for the sole purpose of creating another path to discredit President Obama as part of a strategy for winning elections via the promotion of generic societal distrust, I present these men with beards and their response to tragedy which few have or will experience.  It is a tragedy that is not debated as to being the most powerful force for destroying ones sprit and will.

Amish men leaving trial

Men such as these did the following:

Charles Roberts wasn’t Amish, but Amish families knew him as the milk truck driver who made deliveries. Last month, it was announced that the Amish community had donated money to the killer’s widow and her three young children.

It was one more gesture of forgiveness, gestures that began soon after the shooting.

“I think the most powerful demonstration of the depth of Amish forgiveness was when members of the Amish community went to the killer’s burial service at the cemetery,” Kraybill says. “Several families, Amish families who had buried their own daughters just the day before were in attendance and they hugged the widow, and hugged other members of the killer’s family.”

But the above picture is not of those particular men.  It is a picture of men who were attending a trial for a hate crime that manifested in a man’s beard being cut off.   Sixteen men went to jail for that hate crime against a group of people who are capable of forgiving what the nation could not believe was forgivable.

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Capital in the 21st Century Discussion at The Graduate Center, CUNY

Last week there was an 1.5 hr discussion with the following participants:  Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University), Paul Krugman (Princeton University), and Steven Durlauf (University of Wisconsin–Madison) participated in a panel moderated by LIS Senior Scholar Branko Milanovic.

The Center just posted it yesterday on their youtube channel.

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Oxytocin and lying from a psychology and ECONOMICS study center researcher

I am posting this because the source of this study caught my attention.  It is out of the  Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Amsterdam, Psychologists Dr. Shaul Shalvi and Dr.  Carsten K. W. De Dreu respectfully.  Dr. Shalvi is the head of BGU’s Center for Decision- Making and Economic Psychology.

Who would have thought that there was economic related research happening which actually is looking into the thought process of all those free market agents with perfect knowledge?

The short of the study’s results:

Oxytocin is a hormone the body naturally produces to stimulate bonding and psychologists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Amsterdam say it even causes participants to lie more to benefit their groups. People do so more quickly and without expectation of reciprocal dishonesty from their group…

“Together, these findings fit a functional perspective on morality revealing dishonesty to be plastic and rooted in evolved neurobiological circuitries, and align with work showing that oxytocin shifts the decision-maker’s focus from self to group interests,” Shalvi says.

“The results highlight the role of bonding and cooperation in shaping dishonesty, providing insight into when and why collaboration turns into corruption.”

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Seattle University Symposium on Inequality, Nick Hanauer

The following video was posted in Ed’s Post by Marko.  I thought it deserved a wider audience.

The symposium included a discussion regarding raising the minimum wage to $15.  Mr. Hanauer, being an honest to goodness real billionaire talked about what that would mean for his situation.  I like the way he put it.  He earns 1000 times the median wage and yet he still only needs 1 pillow when he sleeps at night, not 1000.

You might also know of him from his TED talk that was originally  refused for posting.  He has been talking for a while about the wrongness and dangers of income inequality.

Now, if only he would team up with one or 2 more billionaires and start fighting against the Koch et al’s money in the political arena.  Then we just might see some balance.

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Apple has some money burning a hole in its pocket

Getting real about Apple’s $100 billion stock buyback. 

Updated*

So I was hearing some where that Apple has a lot of money just burning a hole in it’s pocket. Seems there’s an arson named Carl Icahn trying to really ignite it by using twitter.

Apple has implemented a plan to spend $100 billion of it’s current estimate of $148.6 billion pocket money by 2015 to buyback it’s stock. Mr. Icahn has tweeting his joy.   Others say Apple needs to grow to grow it’s stock price.  Now wouldn’t that be the New Deal thing.

Apple has 80,300 full time equivalent employees of which 42,800 are “outside the retail division”.  Yup, you guessed…what if Apple instead of buying their stock back distributed that $100 billion to its employees?  Try $1,245,300.01 to each of them by 2015.  That’s 80 thousand new millionaires. Now that’s some job creating.

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David Simon via Bill Moyers

I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets, they’ll solve everything.  And if profit is your only metric, man, what are you building?  David Simon

This is the first part of an interview with David Simon.   He is a “journalist and creator of the TV series The Wire and Treme…”   Mr. Simon talks about America as a “Horror Show”.   (video below the fold)

What caught my attention is that this is the first time I have heard someone in the public sphere use the word “selfish” instead of the more benign word “greed”.

You know when we started out space program, which was, you know, an unqualified success in the end, the rockets kept blowing up on the launching pad. Somehow we figured out a way to keep launching rockets and do it right. And that’s a very different America from the tonality of this one, which is selfish, which is I have my health care still and I don’t want to pay for anybody else to get back in the boat.

Some excerpts:

The Supreme Court has walked away from any sort of responsibility to maintain democracy at that level. That’s the aspect of government that’s broken.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s Obama or Clinton or Bush or anybody at this point. If this is the way we’re going to do business, we’re not going to do business. You know, they’ve paid for it to be inert. And it is inert. And ultimately that aspect of capitalism hasn’t been dealt with in any way.

We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together. This is about sharing and about, you know, when you say sharing there’s a percentage of the population (and it’s the moneyed percent of our population), that hears socialism or communism or any of the other -isms they want to put on it. But ultimately we are all part of the same society. And it’s either going to be a mediocre society that, you know, abuses people or it’s not.

If how much money you have is the defining characteristic of citizenship or of value or of relevance, of human relevance, and if that’s all that we’re going to measure (and apparently, since 1980 this all we’re going to measure), you’re going to get a society to live in that is structured on that metric. And it’s going to be a brutal one.

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Did you hear the one about a corporation and a democracy?

Time for a bit of comic relief. (video below the fold)  Julianna reporting on Net Neutrality.  Remember when President Obama said the days of lobbyists setting the agenda was over?

I’m posting this here because this is about “markets”.  It is about competition.  It is about freedom.    The free market competition of…wait for it…IDEAS.  It is not corporations or products that compete they only represent the materialization of what truly is protected in this nation, of what is the singularity within the US Constitution: IDEAS.  Everything, outside of nature its self is derived from ideas.  I was taught this about economics in high school in the early 70’s.  Was I taught incorrectly?

 

Here’s the thing about ideas competing.  The business model is not the end all and be all for the means by which to determine their value, as some have worked so hard to have society and the world believe.  That an idea can not be immediately or expediently monetized is not determinate of its worth to life and the reduction of the risks of living.

It is not just about the money.

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When it comes to finding money: People vs Corporations, $535 billion over 10 years

As we continue this fight regarding the national budget, funding for the people, (food, unemployment, medical), entitlements and the overall moral position this nation has and will take with its money, let’s recall the truth about a program that was sold and is still sold as a benefit for the people.   It’s cost is intentionally excluded from the overall budget discussions and thus remains hidden as to the extent of the benefit and beneficiaries.

The Medicare Prescription Drug law. Billy Tauzin (former congressman and former president/CEO of PHRMA, Dem from ’72 to ’95, republican there after):

it’s been good for the patients whom the drug industry represents

Dan Burton and Walter Jones, republicans were against it, for to them it was a “sellout” to the drug companies.

No offsets were needed.  The 15 minute vote was held open for 3 hours and was in the middle of the night because it was going to be defeated.  The longest roll call in the history of the house.  Threats to those who did not want to vote for such a huge wet kiss to the industry were of the Tea Party type.  They would run a person against you.  The Medicare boss, Tom Scully Bush’s “lead” negotiator went to lobbying for the drug industry “10 days after the president signed the legislation”.  He was negotiating for his lobby job during the bill negotiations.

 

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Pictures of the Trans Pacific Partnership and to Giroux’s biggest lie: Capitalism is Democracy

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, I mean, I think that’s the biggest lie of all actually. The biggest lie of all is that capitalism is democracy. We have no way of understanding democracy outside of the market, just as we have no understanding of how to understand freedom outside of market values.

I learned about two maps that show the connection of corporations.  I found copies of them at Occupy Educated.   The first one “Corporate Connections” was created in 2003.  You can read about it here.

corporateconnection World

 

 

The second one is a condensed update looking at just 10 corporations and the brands which they control.

Corporate connections by brand

 

These two maps make me think of all sorts of things.  Like, do we have choice in the market place?  Do we have choice in the market place of ideas?  Choice of  ideas are professed to be necessary for a healthy capitalistic system.  It is ideas that compete not products as they only represent an idea.

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Who is the true beneficiary of welfare? or Please define: Entitlement

I wrote in February of 2012 about welfare: Welfare, I’m not hurting from it and neither are you.

I noted the following: but it looks to me like what we spend on welfare is not much more than what the government is spending on just doing the government thingy, unless of course people can’t get a job. Interestingly enough, the share of GDP spent on welfare in 1992 and 2010 is the same. In fact, at the peak of unemployment of the 2001 recession which was 2003, we spent just 0.0098 on welfare.

Understand that 0.0098 is the fraction of our GDP spent on welfare.  That is 0.98% of our GDP.  I did not include the medicaid/healthcare expenditures.

Of course there was the often heard comment to this article about welfare recipients not contributing. No skin in the game, not contributing, blah, blah, blah….stuff for free.  My first response and really the only needed response is “So what?”  I mean really Sooooooooo What!  Is the welfare person really stopping you from getting your Mercedes?

Well here’s the so what. The Public cost of low-wages in the Fast -food Industry

“Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enrollments in America’s major public benefits programs are from working families. But many of them work in jobs that pay wages so low that their paychecks do not generate enough income to provide for life’s basic necessities.”

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