Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mr. Quarter on Basic Economics

The progressive argument goes that the current economic conditions and run up of the deficit are all Bush's fault. If you listen to Paul Krugman and others, it goes on further to say that the $800 Billion economic stimulus wasn't nearly big enough - should have been even larger. Well, for clarification, lets see what Robert Reich (former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary and noted progressive) says on his own blog today:

"Before I turn to the President, though, let’s be clear: The lousy economy is due to insufficient demand. Consumers – who are 70 percent of the economy — can’t and won’t buy because they’re running out of cash. They can’t borrow against homes that are worth a third less than they were five years ago, and most consumers are bad credit risks anyway because they’re losing their jobs and their wages are dropping. They also have to start saving for the kids’ college or for retirement, which will cut their spending even more.

Without enough consumers, businesses won’t hire enough people and pay them enough to reverse the vicious cycle. So we’re dead in the water. Even the stock market has caught on to the truth."

So, let me get this progressive argument straight 'cause I am just a dumb Iowa farm boy: The economy is bad because consumers are running out of cash and can't stimulate demand? Did I get that right? So, the Bush tax cuts which leave more cash in consumer pockets were bad? Massive stimulus spending by the federal government that creates debt that must be repaid through higher taxation that takes cash out of consumer pockets is good? It would be better for the economy to take a "balanced" approach that includes both increased revenues (higher taxes) and decreased spending rather than simply spending less and lowering tax burden? Wait a minute, did Reich say that business won't hire enough people and pay the enough to reverse the cycle? I thought our president said that businesses (i.e., corporations) were getting a pass and not paying their fair share? Is Reich saying that Corporations need to make a profit so they can hire workers and pay wages, leading to consumer demand and a better economy? Even to my simple understanding of economics that seems sort of like a contradiction.

Mr. Quarter needs to get a book because this whole economics thing is really confusing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Deuce In Crisis

I have this book. I dust it off every couple of years and go through it. I've read it several times and have many paragraphs and lines highlighted. I tend to go to it when the world is not making sense. It posits a number of hypothesis' that I don't want to believe in, but with every year that goes by I find myself agreeing with more and more.

The core idea of the book is fairly simple: You are everything. The individual is everything. Everything you think, everything you say, everything you do should have but one enrich you, not just in material wealth, but in all things. Power, women, glory, security, status...EVERYTHING!

Ultimately, nobody else matters more than you do, and why should they? Life for human beings is no different than life for every other living thing. Hunt, or be hunted; survive if you can; place no one's welfare above your own because you were born to further your own existence, not someone else's; find a way, anyway, to get all the good things life has to offer...honestly if you can, but in the end business is business and the devil take the hindmost. Love a your your kinsman...protect them and nurture them as best you can. But remember, wives and children are property. They exist and prosper only by your good graces, and if the should every fail to "love, honor and obey you", cast them out.

There is no reward after death for living a "good" life. Nor is there any punishment for failing to do so. No Heaven, no Hell, so why abide by the teachings of a pacifist Jew who got himself killed 2000 years ago? Any "God" or "prophet" or "enlightened one" who taught anything but self-enrichment at any cost was a fool and anyone who follows such teachings is a fool in turn.

Do not fear death, for death is better than living as a slave. Not just a slave in literal chains, but also those slaves who rely on the sustenance provided by any master, be him a boss, corporation or business owner. Taking orders from and being reliant upon any other man for one's living is slavery. A few slaves are very well paid, but most are given a slave's wages...barely enough to survive. And never forget, the master will keep you only as long as you are of value to him. The very moment you cease to be of value is the very moment he will kick you into the street with the trash.

All men are not created equal.

Governments exist for the sole purpose of controlling the mass of slaves that make up mankind. The men too weak, too sickly, too stupid, too fearful to rise to prominence and rule over other men. The rich and powerful make those laws that best benefit themselves, and why not? They've earned the right to do so by securing for themselves the ability to do so.

All of life is competition, and competition is warfare. It is the way of all living things, and so is the way of mankind. Win the war and you reap all things good in life. Lose the war, and die, or worse live in slavery, until such time as you are able to rise up and make war again, if you have the will to do so.

I trust you get the idea.

As I said, I don't want to believe these things, but as I watch the world turn and the great movers and shakers around the globe maneuver their armies of soldiers, bankers, propagandists, sophists and toadies, I find it harder and harder to deny what seems obvious. In short, money talks and all the rest is b.s. Or, as some wit once said, "He that has the gold makes the rules."

Money means power, and power means control, and control means you get almost whatever you want.

Consider; the current salary (2011) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year. The Senate and House Majority and Minority Leaders get $193,400. The Speaker of the House gets $223,500. This is not bad money. Not filthy rich by any means, but not starving either. And yet, members of Congress, especially the Senate, raise tens of millions, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars to get re-elected. Why? The plain answer is wealth and power. Their personal wealth almost always increases while in office, whether by hook or by crook. Congress members are not subject to "insider trading" laws as are corporate execs. Sweetheart deals and outright bribery abound, whether for mortgages (Obama) or trading on cattle futures (Hillary Clinton) or legislation that favors one's business constituents and personal investments, Star Kist/Del Monte Foods (Nancy Pelosi) or taking millions in cash from defense contractors (Randy "Duke" Cunningham). There are dozens of other examples for those that need further convincing.

So many of our "leaders" live by the credo, "Get it while the getting is good." They cut whatever deals are necessary to stay in office and win favor with the monied elite and their local constituents, like Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) who's "Cornhusker Kickback" made Obamacare possible. They utter the most inane things, arguably the most memorable being Speaker of the House Pelosi's "We have to pass the bill to know what's in it". They resort to the most despicable ad homonym attacks to smear their opponents, as John Kerry (D-MA) did just yesterday when, refering to the Tea Party movement, he urged media outlets to "not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual." The Tea Party wants lower taxes for everyone, reduced federal spending and a balanced budget. And Sen. Kerry calls that an "absurd notion." In other words, don't cover a political or economic opinion that differs from my own. The senator's hubris is astounding.

Crony-capitalism festers in the body politic. Do a little research on the CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, and his relationship with the Obama administration. Or conversely, Obama and his ties to organized labor and AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka. Or perhaps most disturbing of all, the hydra-headed connections between Obama administration officials and the myriad far left advocacy groups funded by billionaire George Soros.

Does Obama have it right? Is Obama's world-view accurate and mine hopelessly naive? Does the world really boil down to an endless war of "The Haves vs. The Have Nots" with no rules except don't get caught. Is there nothing more, nothing deeper to life than getting all you can while you can, no matter what? Do the ends justify the means after all?

Is human existence, stripped down to it's basic reality, stripped of all it's supposed moralities, it's "golden rule", it's "turn the other cheek", it's promise of paradise for the life lived "loving your brother as you love yourself" and "be your brother's keeper", it's right and wrong and good and existence nothing more than screw everybody else, I'm getting mine, if you want to be successful in life? Is that what it takes?

Is that really the way of the world? Is that really the way of life for any truly rational man? Are words like honor, integrity and honesty...ultimately just words, to be used when convenient and discarded when not?

I hope not. But I'm not sure.

That scares me.