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

The Fallacy of Unions

Because it had always been that way, none could think differently. From time immortal, labor was that what did much of the work of production. There is now a generation, maybe two, on this earth, most of whom will never know labor; will seldom see it performed. The energy for their world will not come from the sweat of the back’s of coal miners. So, if it wasn’t (production = material + labor) what was the real equation for production? The input was work, not labor. Today, machines, can and do, do the work. These machines doing the work are becoming more and more intelligent.

Without the help of governmental restrictions on immigration, the unions would never have been able to organize the coal miners; they had no leverage as long as there was a constant flow of poor and desperate immigrants. Point Pinole Regional Shoreline Park is nearby. The Park was once site for the manufacture of gunpowder and dynamite. Originally, the company had been located in what is now known as Glen Canyon Park in San Francisco (owners had one of the original licenses to manufacture dynamite). In 1869, an explosion destroyed every building on the site (including the fence around the plant), killed 2 and injured 9. So, they moved the plant to what is now the Sunset District of SF (area was sand dunes then). Blew up again. This time they moved across the Bay to Berkeley. When the plant in Berkeley blew up, it killed everyone on site. Wound up at, the then remote, unpopulated, Pt. Pinole on San Pablo Bay. The point? They never had any trouble hiring immigrants, mostly Croats, it seems, to work in the plants.

A “Seditious Caucus” Stunt to Defraud America

History Professor Heather Cox Richardson at Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, Boston College writes a daily(?) news letter (Letters from an American) which she describes as; “a chronicle of today’s political landscape, but because you can’t get a grip on today’s politics without an outline of America’s Constitution, and laws, and the economy, and social customs, this newsletter explores what it means, and what it has meant, to be an American.”

These were the same questions a famous observer asked in a book of letters he published in 1782, the year before the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War.

Hector St. John de Crevecoeur called his book, “Letters from an American Farmer.”

Like I say, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure rhymes.

Myself: Professor Richardson encapsulates all of the never ending BS being tossed at the American public by Republicans. Enough is enough and this is little more than a power struggle to fill the vacuum left by a man who never was President and just a figurehead giving this eleven, others, and financial interests cover.

I find the Professor’s words interesting. I hope you do also.

January 2, 2021

Today the fight to pick up Trump’s supporters continued. Eleven senators, led by Ted Cruz (R-TX), said they would object to certifying certain state electoral votes when Congress meets on Wednesday, January 6, to count them. They want a commission appointed to audit the results. This attempt is separate from the one launched yesterday by Josh Hawley (R-MO) to object to the counting of the electoral votes from Pennsylvania, but both are a transparent attempt to court Trump voters before 2022 and 2024.

The senators signing onto the effort are: Ron Johnson (R-WI), James Lankford (R-OK), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Kennedy (R-LA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Mike Braun (R-IN), and Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

A Few Questions

A Few Questions

  1. What constitutes the wealth of a nation?
  2. What is the source of all wealth and revenue?
  3. Does the method by which one receives income — whether wage, rent, profit or interest — indicate the ultimate source of the value represented by it? 
  4. Do stores of money, machinery, manufactured goods or produce represent reserved surplus labour?

Final jobless claims of 2020 continue to show a lack of progress

Final jobless claims of 2020 continue to show a lack of progress

New jobless claims declined for the second week in a row this week, but are still significantly above their recent pandemic lows, while continuing claims, seasonally adjusted, once again made a new pandemic low. There is a sizable but by no means certain likelihood that December’s jobs number will be negative.

On a unadjusted basis, new jobless claims declined by 31,736 to 841,111. Seasonally adjusted claims also declined by 19,000 to 787,000. The 4 week moving average, however, rose again by 17,750 to 836,750. All of these are above their recent lows. 

Here is the close up since the end of July (for comparison, remember that these numbers were in the range of 5 to 7 million at their worst in early April): 

Looking ahead, politically

Infidel753 at Infidel753 blog had an interesting post up which I thought makes for a good read. Infidel753 can also be found at Crooks and Liars blog.

Soon the time of Trump will give way to a Democratic presidency and House and hopefully a 50-50-plus-Harris control of the Senate.  Some things to keep in mind:

1. When 2022 and 2024 arrive, most of the Democratic voting base will judge Biden and the Democrats in Congress mainly by results.  Has the pandemic been vanquished?  Have jobs and wages (not “the economy”, which takes in all kinds of things, but jobs and wages specifically) recovered?  Has federal legislation to protect voting rights from state-level gerrymandering and vote suppression been enacted?  Has Medicare access been expanded or some other kind of public option been provided?  Have DC and Puerto Rico become states?  If the Democrats achieve results, our voters will care only that it was done, not how it was done.  Conversely, if little or nothing is accomplished, nobody will much care about whatever reasons or excuses are offered.

2. Achieving such results will partially depend on two intermediate steps — abolishing the filibuster, and enlarging the Supreme Court or otherwise neutering the ability of its current McConnell-Trump-imposed hard-right majority to block progress.  The obstacle that a few Democrats oppose abolishing the filibuster should be surmountable — Feinstein needs to hear, vociferously, from a few million of her constituents, and Manchin can perhaps be brought around with the offer of some major benefit for his state, etc.  One or two Republicans might even be brought to support the move.  But if Democrats gain control of the Senate and don’t abolish the filibuster, the reasons for not doing it won’t matter — it will just mean they’ve handed the Republicans the rope to hang them with.

Coronavirus dashboard for December 29: a final look back at the pandemic disaster in 2020

Coronavirus dashboard for December 29: a final look back at the pandemic disaster in 2020

US confirmed cases: 19,132,726*
Average cases last 7 days: 184,005
Total US deaths: 333,118
Average deaths last 7 days: 2,207 

Total vaccinated: 2,127,143 (per CDC via Bloomberg)

*Because many asymptomatic people probably never get tests, actual cases are probably more like 26 million, or about 8% of the US population

Source: COVID Tracking Project

The good news is, we finally have started the process of vaccination, and 1% of the population should be vaccinated by the end of this week. The bad news is, at the current rate, it would take over 4 years to vaccinate everyone in the US. I do expect this to ramp up, both as more States get more efficient at administering the vaccine, and because the Biden Administration will be much more activist and competent at ramping up production and improving the supply chain.

As we end 2020, let’s take a look at total infections and deaths per capita so far.


Professors Piketty, Saez, and Zucman!

Have a minute? A minute to talk about rentiers, retirement, growth, and sharing?


Seems some sixty-percent of Americans think that things are going pretty well. For them, things are going pretty well. But, for the lower forty, things aren’t going well at all. Surely, this sixty – forty ratio is not a healthy economy? What’s worse; it’s getting worse.

Fifty, maybe even as few as thirty, years ago, one could lease a commercial space for, what at the time, seemed a princely sum and start a business. Today, upon comparison, that princely sum seems a mere pittance. Today, more than half of what one could possibly gross in a small start up goes to the landlord, the rentier. Between the rent, insurance, utilities, …, and the bottom line; one winds up paying their employees less than they deserve. Hardly anything left. Plunge taken, the budding entrepreneurs, and their employees, winds up working for the rentiers, the insurance company, the utility company, …; wind up working for next to nothing, or even worse.

Violence Against Women Act Blocked

While everyone is social distancing (?), wearing masks when out, and staying at home (mostly); there has been an uptick in women and men not getting along together well when confined to apartments or homes. No place to go and the heart may not grow fonder of your-other when confined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Domestic violence surges during mandatory lockdowns

USA Today: The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported a 9% increase from 2019 in calls between May 16 in 2020. During that period many states declared lockdowns.

The San Antonio Police Department received 18% more calls related to family violence March 2020 compared to March 2019, the New York City Police Department experienced a 10% increase in domestic violence reports over the same period, and the Portland Police recorded a 22% increase in arrests YOY in March related to domestic violence.  

Review of Act History