Endgame?

The endgame is approaching. The truth about Trump is being revealed. After disastrous midterm elections he is weak and has the stench of a loser attached to him. The most recent revelations are going to be the the last straw, and his part will finally abandon him. This week showed us why.

Of course, this has nothing to do with what’s been said in court. Nevermind that his longtime lawyer has completely turned on him, or the man who buried his secrets for decades. The Republican Party doesn’t care about illegal activities now any more than they did before the election – when it was just about as obvious as it is today, as chronicled here.

It’s the steep decline in the stock market that is the unforgivable sin.

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The Eyes of a Child

This is my first holiday season with no children at home.  So enjoy this piece from 11 years ago, when my life was very different.  Consider this a note to my future self, now being repeated.

This time of the year, the holidays bring back memories that allow us to see the world, once again, through the eyes of a child. This is not some sentimental side effect of the rituals we go through, but is in many ways the reason they are important. A few moments spent contemplating this over a swirling mug of cocoa can show that seeing the world through the eyes of a child is actually a vital lesson.

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A Model for Federal Equity, not Debt

Given that the stock market appears to finally be taking a pause after a decade long run, this may seem like a terrible time to talk about subtleties like debt versus equity or how to finance federal debt. Yet this is exactly the time when something like what is proposed here would be useful for the government and investors alike.

Our national debt is financed through a complex system with fixed interest and market trading which is cumbersome and difficult. Worse, it ties the government down to fixed costs which are currently taking up 329B$ per year in interest payments, nearly $3,000 per household.

In short, there has to be a better way to manage the 21T$ or so of debt. Step one would be not creating more, but here is a plan for managing the potentially crippling debt we already have.

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GM & the National Industrial Model

The layoff notices came right after Thanksgiving. GM, a symbol of American industry, was going to close four US plants and can over 14,000 workers. Despite the relatively low numbers of people involved, the symbolic value is tremendous. The company was once the symbol of American manufacturing might. Besides, after a bankruptcy and government bailout the company surely has had what it needs to bounce back, right?

Yet there is much more to the story than this. Automobile manufacturing is in a period of massive, completely disruptive change. GM has been in trouble for a very long time simply because it cannot possibly change, and there are reasons to believe that everything is only going to be worse.

Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, has been trying to explain the situation to members of Congress this week. It’s unlikely that she can, especially since the very fact that she is obliged to do so points to the real problem. The national industrial model is dead, and it is being replaced with a global market model. GM’s problem is that it simply has not adapted to this reality in any important way.

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Visit From St. Klaus

Long ago, I would occasionally write “news poems,” or silly li’l rhymes on current events.  This one, from a full ten years ago, highlights just how bad things were then.  This reminder of Christmas past is intended to help everyone get through the difficult times in the stock market which are surely a part of 2018’s present and future as a brand new bubble bursts. 

‘Twas the hours before trading, and there on the screen
The markets abroad were all tranquil and green;
In Europe and Asia they each held to their course,
With decent increases in bourse after bourse.
But yet I couldn’t sleep in the dark of the night
Knowing somewhere that something just possibly might
Take a dive, though the hour was terribly late
For the year wasn’t over, this bad two-oh-oh-eight.

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“Civics”

While sorting out the goals and needs of People’s Economics, one thing stands out: how do we wind up with some general agreement on the system(s) of our world?  That’s where this piece, first run two years ago, comes in.  

Driving down the interstate, your safe travel and even your life depends a lot on the competence of many other people. Sure, there is a body of law and court precedent and paid agreements with insurance companies that enforces the basic codes of decency and safety. But in the end it really comes down to the skill and attention of comrades in gasoline and steel being at their best not just casually but constantly.

Of course this fails from time to time, but considering how much time people spend behind the wheel it’s amazingly seamless and simple. The system largely works – we all get there nearly all the time. We depend on each other to not be stupid and the vast majority of the time it comes together.

This basic lesson in civics is a good place to start as the nation unravels into some kind of dark hole that frankly promises to only become darker with time. It’s a thought experiment, a self-taught lesson worth thinking through by malcontents and eggheads alike, by both those in power and those in pain.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas is a time for remembering everything that has come before us. It’s not a kind of memorial day when we remember what we lost, but instead a day to remember the great gifts that have come to us over the many years. The circle of gratitude is widened every year as the holiday expands with new love and new memories.

It may be more important this year than ever.

One tradition for many people about my age is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. In many ways this defines the tension of Christmas itself, even though very little in popular culture has been willing to decry the commercialism that is the true “War on Christmas”. And in the process it gave us a new definition of holiday cheer, bringing Vince Guaraldi’s cool jazz into the warm holiday like a sprig of winter itself.

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