Tag Archives: ECONOMICS

Rookies With Bullshit

A lot of laid off coal miners voted for Trump because he got them to believe in the lie that coal was coming back to Eastern Kentucky and Trump would be driving the lead truck. Well that’s just not going to happen if you believe in reality. There is not a single indicator lending evidence that coal is in out future.

While coal consumption has been dying in America the same has occurred in other nations. China just cancelled the construction of 103 coal-fired generating plants in favor of natural gas. China has stopped importing coal and has laid off tens of thousands of their own miners due to lack of demand.

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Give Me the Money!

During the years I taught government another teacher and myself would invite state politicians to discuss our classes about the realities of being a politician. We had both a Democrat and a Republican and they always did a wonderful job.

One question always asked by students was some form of, “How’s come you guys don’t do thus and thus?” The standard answer was always, “OK, I’ll do that, just give me the money.” People want to believe government functions on air and politicians can just wave their hands and things happen. Of course, the reality is that everything takes money and the most common source of money for government is taxes.

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Voodoo Economics, Trump Style

Maybe forever the Republican Party has billed itself as the party of conservative fiscal policy. They always claim to opposed to government’s size and what government spends. Less government, less taxes is their age-old mantra.

My Voodoo Priestess tells me these bones say we don’t need a new jet fighter plane or another new aircraft carrier.

At least in recent decades they have had a hard time keeping true with these basics. The Reagan administration tried to outspend the Soviet Union and ran up a huge deficit. George W. Bush spent money like an undisciplined teenager with his own credit card. And Donald Trump may think he behaving in a conservative fashion but the reality is much different.

I’ve said this many times and it’s true, you can’t cut taxes and spend lots of money and end up not deeper in debt. George W. Bush couldn’t have a major tax cut for the wealthiest and then create Part D of Medicare, deal with the nation’s needs during both 9/11 and Katrina, go to war in Afghanistan followed by Iraq. and deal with the collapse of the housing, banking, and automobile industries and avoid adding a ton of borrowed money to the national debt.

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Capitalism

THE GOOD CAPITALIST: A guy named Charles Feeney made about $8 billion during his working life. Then he decided to give it all away to various causes. It was just announced that Feeney had finished his mission. It’s all gone except for $2 million he kept so to continue his “modest retirement.”  Just goes to show that not all capitalists are assholes and one can share and still live a good life.

Sorry Charlie, You Ain’t Your Average Tuna

I became interested in saltwater fishing in the mid 1990, especially around the Morehead City, NC area. The Gulf Stream runs along the NC coast about 35 miles out and is prime fishing for dolphin, king mackerel, wahoo, and several species of tuna. The most prized tuna is the Atlantic bluefin and can bring huge money in Japan. The US government and the state control the tuna catch and the penalties for bagging one out of season can be substantial.

My brother, who lived many years at the coast told me one year a couple of guys had been out in the gulf stream and hooked up a pretty large and very out of season bluefin. Greed got the best of them so they hid it in the bilge and brought it to shore. That they had the animal for sale quickly became known and it didn’t take long before the tuna cops tracked them down. When it was all said and done the fish had cost them many thousands of dollars in fines, some jail time, and the loss of their 35′ center console deep-water boat, it’s trailer, and the big dually they used to pull the rig.

This memory was prompted by a story I just read about the first fish auction in Tokyo for 2017. The highest priced tuna brought $632,000 ($1,300 a pound). The same restaurant that bought this fish paid $1.76 million for a fish in 2013. That represents the world’s record.

What you don’t hear so often is how the demand for horribly expensive sushi is making tuna horribly rare. There is a worldwide need to place the fish on the endangered specie list before it ends up dead as the dodo birds.

Want to Contest Trump’s Behavior?

I don’t know about you but I would like to be associated with people who will work to closely monitor the actions of the Trump presidency and bring pressure wherever pressure is warranted. But, I don’t want to drive to WDC and march in a Million Woman March. Last evening I learned of an alternative, organizing on a local level, with like-minded people, and truly resisting at the grassroots level.

An organization has been formed called Indivisible and its goal is to learn from what the Tea Party has shown us and adapt those lessons to fit progressive needs. To facilitate this a group of former Democratic congressional workers has written a small simple guide to help provide direction and ideas. To learn more about Indivisible and get your name on their email list go to their website.

And, to download a .pdf file of their printable guide just click on the link below.

A Few Notes on History Repeating

I was listening to a TV discussion this afternoon and one of the subjects talked about was how we are having to deal with things that most of us thought were long gone into the pages of history. As a history major in college I was required to take a class in historiography, which includes theories of why things change. One idea that most are familiar with is that history repeats itself.

There are other theories but what we’re seeing unfold today has elements that were common in the decades between the two world wars. Throughout much of the world there was a huge increase in militarists and nationalists groups. In Japan the military came to power and pushed for military solutions to Japan’s problems. In Italy and Germany people turned to dictatorial leadership and its promise of resolving the effects of the First World War and the Great Depression.

I grew up and became educated after these things had occurred. In my time most of us came to believe we’d seen the last of fascism, Nazis, genocide, and religious and ethnic wars. My generation grew up in the post war prosperity of the 1950s, got an education,  a decent job, and went on to out do our parents. I suppose we thought it would always be that way, if not get even better.

Well, it wasn’t to be. Changes in business practices and rapidly changing technology turned against the middle-class prosperity I had witnessed. Millions of jobs went where labor was cheaper, became obsolete, or are now performed by robots. The good “people” jobs remaining in America now go to those who have a high degree of technical skill. What’s left are low paid, low skilled, and too few.

So here we are, back to those days when jobs are few, education expensive, young adults are still living at home, and whole parts of America is in ruins. The same feelings of despair that turned Germans to fascism in the 1930s have given rise to right-wing extremists in 2016’s America. Both Hitler and Trump are the products of people feeling desperate.

Next time you’re wondering what causes our story to change, add desperation and despair to the list. But keep in mind that history repeats itself so the good times may someday return. I just hope we don’t have to endure what the world witnessed that last time so many became desperate.

FOOTNOTE: Since I wrote this piece both Putin and Trump have began talking about increasing each nation’s nuclear arsenal. From out of nowhere the world is suddenly knocking on the door of another nuclear arms race and the weapons makers are seeing their stock values hit the roof. It’s good to be a war monger!

In an attempt to end on a happier note reading this article I’m reminded of the bit they did on Hee Haw about, Gloom, Despair and Agony On Me!

A Town Hall I Hoped You Saw

One of the best things of a political nature I’ve seen lately was a town hall meeting from Kenosha, WI moderated by Chris Hayes and featuring Bernie Sanders. The room of around 300 people was composed of Democrats, Republicans, Sanders supporters, independents, Trump voters, literally the spectrum of Americans. Much of the conversation centered on why did people vote for Trump. The answers ranged from:
 
1. He’ll bring our jobs back.
2. He listened to us.
3. He wasn’t Hillary.
4. And so much more of what he often heard during the campaign.

We Need You Gene Feldman

I’ve been thinking about a statement being made by Trump, that he wants people in his cabinet who have made a fortune. It made me think of a man I knew in CA named Gene Feldman. Gene was the VP of the company I worked for and had made his fortune from the ground up. He began life at the bottom and through education and hard work became very wealthy.

About once every other month Gene would take whoever wanted to go to a local restaurant for beer and finger food. We’d all sit there as equals and do what people do, talk sports, jobs, family, etc. The “as equals” thing was at his request. For a couple of hours he wanted to be one of the crew and not the boss. He wanted us to know each other as people and not as boss/worker. We all knew and accepted that when the evening was over Gene became, Mr. Feldman again.

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CEO

CEO TAX: Portland has passed a tax that targets companies where the CEO makes 100 times as much money or more than the average employee. City businesses pay a tax of 2.2 percent of net income, but companies where the CEO makes more than 100 times as much will be assessed a further 10 percent tax, and if they make more than 250 times as much the penalty is a further 25 percent tax. I like this!

Eric’s Tit Got Caught

Apparently Eric Trump got his tit caught in the Twitter wringer last weekend when he claimed the Wisconsin presidential recount called for by Jill Stein cost the lives of 5,000 children.

One might ask how did Jill Stein kill 5,000 children by ordering a recount? Well, according to young Eric, if the $3.5 million the recount cost had been spent on malaria relief that many kids lives could have been saved.

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A Goldman-Sachs Golden Sack

Why would anyone with a high-end sweet job at Goldman-Sachs want to give it up and go to work for the federal government? Well, one answer is pure economics.

People who have a penthouse office with a corner window at places like Goldman-Sachs are partly compensated with stock or shares of the company. If/when they sell these shares they have to pay taxes.

But, if they take an executive job with the government they get to sell those stocks and keep the proceeds, tax-free. The government essentially hands them a tax-free bag of gold.

Donald Trump has now reached out to at least two such people and that number will most likely grow.

This is yet one more way the very rich get richer at our expense. Keep this in mind next time you cash in a CD or a tax-sheltered annuity and you get a tax bill along with the funds.

Thoughts on Infrastructure

Following the great recession of 2008 the congress passed a stimulus bill that was supposed to focus on “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. In my opinion it was not as successful as it could have been because it didn’t authorize enough spending and it didn’t demand that every penny spent be spent with American contractors using American labor, American made equipment, and American made supplies.

Another major problem with big government spending programs has always been keeping them from becoming financial boondoggles and money trees for big corporations.

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Update on Welch, WV

A few days ago I wrote a piece about the future of coal in WV and mentioned the community of Welch, WV, the county seat of McDowell County. I know just a little about Welch because of once having some amateur radio friends in the area and by selling the local school system a bunch of computers back in the early 1990s.

The assistant superintendent of schools told me that Welch was one of the most economically depressed areas of WV and a large percentage of the residents were on some sort of welfare or relief. There was so much welfare money coming into the county that K-Mart built a brand new store on the edge of town to keep the money from going to Walmart in neighboring Bluefield and Princeton.

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