Tag Archives: Politics

Stats are Pointing Up…

But should we care about the stats when our team keeps losing?

“”What we see in the United States and some other economies is a statistical recovery and a human recession.”

Larry Summers, Davos, Jan 30, 2010 (via CNBC)

Plus, he’s actually quite wrong on the stats and also understates the human reality:

Sadly for many, the stock market will eventually reflect reality.

Debt is kicking Incomes butt

This isn't going to end well.

Debt to GDP ratio

Where's the money coming from?

Employment, not bouncing yet

Employment over decades of boom/bust

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Iran – How Not to Rig an Election

Iran Election Video Update

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There had been some pundits predicting that Friday’s Presidential Election in Iran would devolve into their Tiananmen Square.

Given the Anti-Iranian propaganda we hear in America, I figured the Iranian theocracy was a pretty tight ship and they would easily rig this election and insure a peacful acceptance of whatever result the Grand Mullahs desired.

Turns out I was wrong as Iran is indeed seeing widespread urban protests, disrupted communications and the ongoing expulsion of foreign reporters.  As the above video attests, the Iranians are bad at both rigging elections and suppressing reporting on rigging an election.

All this could have been easily avoided had Iran just followed America’s lead in rigging an election.

Imagine this scenario:

Following the closing of polling booths Friday, the government should have gone into delay mode.  Whether blaming tremendous voter turnout or a close election the government could have spent the next weeks and even months counting votes and rounding up overly vocal protestors.

If Iranian leaders had known recent American history they could have used the example of of our election of 2000 to learn the value of a cooling off period when stealing an election.  Imagine our protests had Bush been declared the winner on election night 2000 with a unthinkable 65% to 35% margin of victory.  Even our uneducated electorate could have smelled that stinky a fraud.

Combine the delaying tactic with the anti-protest tactics of NYC Mayor Bloomberg.  The weeks of delay  could have allowed the Iranian authorities the dual benefits of being able to round up protestors and inserting agent provactuers to sully the oppositions reputation.

Unemployment

High unemployment is not only bad for the newly unemployed. It also forces down salaries for those still working by increasing competition for jobs. Simple supply and demand.

So all those “demanders”, owners and consumers, will now get to pay less for the labor portion of the production equation.

It is important to remember that a large portion of the populace thought the economy leading to the Great Depression era was just great, the gap between rich and poor, like today was approaching a good monarchy. Excepting the anarchy that punctuated the end to their laissez-faire policies, we might have already completely regressed to a serf type employment arrangement. Continue reading

Rotten Apple

 

Gimme your Money...and your house

Gimme your Money...and your house

Ever pick up a seemingly perfect apple only to start peeling it to find some small bruises underneath the skin.  Of course you can continue to peel the apple, grab a small paring knife and cut away the rotten parts.  What you will be left with is a delicious apple.

 

But imagine you are told to stop peeling that apple immediately, glue the old skin over it and wait until the rotten part reverts back to good apple.  Ridiculous huh.

 

Well that is exactly what we are doing in the economy.  In late 2006, the first layer of the rotten housing market was revealed, sub-prime.  And rather then continue to peel the apple of housing, revealing all the rotten and bruised portions we have been told these rotten parts are only temporary, just stop peeling and surround the rotten parts with additional apples waiting for the good ones to cover for the bad until they all miraculously turn good.

 

There are two types of people who don’t like throwing $700,000,000,000 of our apples into a basket with all the bad apples.

 

The first, like myself, have spent years studying finance and economics, look carefully at the legislation and can form smart arguments about why this plan will not work.

 

The second, and far more important, is the average “Main Street” American who isn’t confused by all the details.  They simply recognize the extortion for what it is.  For them it’s simple.  They DO understand that Wall Street impacts Main Street.  In fact they feel better if Wall Street might actually share their economic misery.

 

And are you for it?  They you must be scared and trust the same con-artists who got us into this mess or you ARE the con-artist.

 

Additionally, all you Supply Siders were sorta right.  Except rather then the billions made by the rich trickling down, the economic suffering of the middle class over the last ten years is trickling up.

 

Now that is something that everyone should understand.

Spitzer Must be Saved

Eliot Spitzer is a hypocrite of the highest order whose stupidity and hubris rival Greek and Shakespearean actors, but he must be saved to send a countervailing message to the Bear Stearns, ne Wall Street, bail-out.

Without the redemption of Mr. Spitzer, Wall Street will be doubly emboldened to rape and pillage both the American Taxpayer and the American Investor for years to come.

Hypocrisy and self aggrandizing behavior must be tolerated in this case precisely because the main target of Spitzer’s behavior was not the weak but, as evidenced by his swift downfall, the powerful.

Despite the dislike both Democrats and Republicans (the rich ones of both parties that is) have for him and his heavy handed prosecutorial methods, his public persona as a champion of the little guy must trump his other foibles and petty crimes.

Even though his attacks on Wall Street may have been motivated by electoral self-interest and, evidently his prosecution of prostitution was steeped in hypocrisy, his attacks on financial con games were still grounded in real, costly, and long-standing Wall Street malfeasance.

The dual encouragement of bailing out Wall Street stupidity at taxpayer expense and punishing the Sheriff of Wall Street for not towing the party line must not be allowed to stand. Make no mistake, he is no longer Governor because of he refused to follow standard operating procedure when dealing with the sacred NY cow of Wall Street.

Proportionality

Former Senator Phil Gramm, one of the architects of the deregulation that led to our current “credit crunch”, is now making millions as a Vice Chairmen of the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) while Elliot Spitzer is being crucified for sex.

Structuring” may be a crime but so is treason. Senator Phil Gramm championed legislation for yeas that allowed an agent of a foreign government, UBS, to profit enormously for years and which is now threatening the collapse of the American Economy (according to the Federal Reserve).

Of course, we don’t know for sure that Senator Phil Gramm committed treason and the constitution does require overt acts, but has the FBI dedicated the same effort to the investigation of $10 billion in losses that are now being covered by the American taxpayer as they did towards the movement of less the $100 thousand in unseemly commerce.

Add to UBS all the Caymen Island hedge funds that have reaped disgusting profits since both deregulation and the elimination of Glass-Steagall Act. These same tax dodging entities are now threatening our financial security and, if the Bear Stearns model is followed, will cost US taxpayers billions, and maybe trillions, of dollars.

Any prosecutor with high office aspirations could make a career out of attacking these tax dodging, tax bailout, millionaire hedge fund enterprises just like Spitzer did following the Dot Com bubble. But, with the seemingly perfect timing of Spitzer’s comeuppance, these potential prosecutors have been sent a none too subtle message; make your bones attacking the defenseless and handle the powerful with kid gloves .

Eliot Spitzer, like still serving Senators Larry Craig and David Vitter, is a high ranking hypocrite, but that is not the reason for his downfall. He attacked the status quo; attacking long standing Wall Street practices and applying intimidation techniques usually reserved for the defenseless defendant and not the well healed, influence peddlers of Wall Street.

Now I like an abusive prosecutor even less then I like a philanderer, but this country and it halls of of government are full of both. The truly rare thing is someone who attacks the status quo.

Is it any coincidence that the only other high profile disgraced prosecutor also tried to attack some rich kids, Mike Nifong? The “Duke Lacrosse” prosecutor’s downfall, considered on it’s own in a vacuum, is a triumph for defendant’s rights and a rebuke of an abusive prosecutor’s reprehensible behavior. But we don’t live in a vacuum.

What happened to the prosecutor in the Central Park Jogger Case, that, unlike the Duke case which resulted in no undeserved jail time, saw five innocent young boys serve sentences ranging from five to thirteen years.? Oh yeah, that prosecutor recently ran for President of the United States. See a pattern here?

Eliot deserves a “Get out of Infamy Free” card to send the message that while we bail-out Wall Street for the “Greater Good” we must also bail out the nemesis of Wall Street for the Greater Good.

Quote of the Day (or week if I’m feeling uninspired)

“Party affiliation is an easy way to disavow responsibility for knowing right from wrong.”

Me, March 4, 2008

Republicrats

Crime and Punishment…or No Punishment

A)Huffington Post 2/27/2008 : US Imprisoning More Than 1 In 100 Americans

“For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America‘s rank as the world’s No. 1 incarcerator.

B) Leonard Lopate Show 2/28/2008 : Unfair Crack and Cocaine Sentencing Guidelines

“According to current federal sentencing guidelines, convictions for the sale of 500 grams of powder cocaine – and only 5 grams of crack cocaine – both result in a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence. Jesselyn McCurdy, legislative counsel for the ACLU, explains why this sentencing disparity is unfair and fails to address the larger problem of the drug trade. Karen Garrison is the mother of 2 sons who are each serving long sentences in federal prison for non-violent crack cocaine offenses.”

C) Bloomberg 12/13/2008 : Bush Fraud Probes Jail Corporate Criminals Less Than Two Years

“Median sentences for white-collar crime changed little in the 1990s, holding in a range of 12 to 13 months, commission data shows. That number increased to 15 months in 2001 and reached 18 months last year, reflecting the new guidelines…On July 17, the task force’s five-year anniversary, then- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that the department had obtained 1,236 corporate fraud convictions….”

 

I’ll leave it to someone else to crunch the numbers thrown out in all these stories. It should be obvious that with 1,236 corporate convictions of less then two years, on average, would account for less the 0.0001 percent of the current prison population.

Even the high profile convictions of Enron, Ebbers and Conrad Black do not change the profitability of corporate crime.

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