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Loose Ends

When I write these blog pieces, I’m sitting alone in my kitchen relating the best information I can on a topic.  That doesn’t mean I cover any of them thoroughly.  Your comments always raise new perspectives that sometimes flat-out school me – and either make my arguments stronger or tell me to drop them.  I can’t thank you enough for this great experience in social media, where community works together to arrive at something like “truth”.

Lately there have been a number of loose ends that have come to my attention from other sources, however.  Those, combined with an interest in longer replies say that it’s time to tie a few things back together.  It’s all good!

Conspiracy Theories:  This post was picked up by MinnPost for their excellent roundup of local blogs called “MN Blog Cabin”.  On that site, a number of people called me out for ignoring the Iran-Contra affair, a conspiracy that has indeed been proven.  For those of you who don’t remember, the Reagan administration was specifically forbidden to fund the rebels in Nicaragua, but found a back door way to do it anyway – probably with money they got from drug sales.  I was humbled, to say the least.  Iran-Contra is an excellent example of a conspiracy that did indeed take place, and I’m shocked that my old “Iran Contra Trading Cards” didn’t even come to my mind (are they worth anything now?).  Boy, did I miss a big one here!

The Managed Depression:  On the same day I published my own research, there was this excellent piece on John Mauldin’s blog featuring the work of Rob Arnott, an economist.  Where I wanted to name the event, he is working to tame it (to borrow from a phrase given in my comments!).  The piece is long and breathtaking, but it shows that there is a lot of reason to believe that the core problem is that we are faking ourselves out by looking at a very flawed measure – a Gross Domestic Product that includes government deficits.  If you care about our nation’s economic health I cannot tell you how important it is to read this piece!

Churn & Burn:  I’ve been watching the unemployment initial claims very closely, and I have to say that this week’s number only confirms that layoffs are continuing.  Initial claims have dropped from last week, but not enough to stop the 4-week moving average from adjusting up to 437k per week.  In the past we’ve seen this figure spike well ahead of the release of job growth numbers, often by 2-3 months.   Things definitely do not look good!

Back to Reality:  I was hopeful that the death of Osama bin Laden would force us to focus on issues that really matter – a sentiment that I found was remarkably universal.  There was hope.  The Fox Nooze spin machine has been trying to provide another diversion, this in the form of a rapper invited to the White House.  But it’s not getting them anywhere, which is very encouraging.  Check out how thoroughly their efforts have been trounced by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show if you haven’t seen it already.  I think we may have entered a new era where this kind of diversionary nonsense is going to be put down fast and hard.  Perhaps there is reason for hope!

Are there other loose ends out there which deserve special mention?  I’m sure there are.  I’d be forever grateful if any of you can point out places on the ‘net where my work has either been slammed or amplified.  Both are good.  Thank you again for being a reader and letting me know what you think!

11 thoughts on “Loose Ends

  1. I admire your honesty and humility. But I’m also pretty ticked that I didn’t think of Iran-Contra. Did anyone ever prove that Reagan made a deal with Iran to delay the hostages release?

  2. Jim, thanks! I don’t think that angle was ever proven, but I remain very suspicious. Another point worth making – in the piece on conspiracies I noted that Southern Air Transport was a well known CIA front operation. The airplane that Eugene Hasenfus was shot down in over Nicaragua was owned by Southern Air Transport, if I remember correctly. There’s a definite tie-in.

  3. Eric:

    Frankly I didn’t take your argument about unproven conspiracies as something to be taken literally. There are so many indisputable examples of major falsifications by government and big business. Gulf of Tonkin, WMDs in Iraq, Nicaragua (over and over again), Guatemala (over and over again)…. One can argue about, say the sinking of the Maine (much investigated and usually attributed to an accidental magazine explosion), or the failure to defend Peal Harbor effectively against the Japanese raid. Was the failure to put the defenses of Pearl on alert intentional or unintentional? Books will continue to be written on this question but does it really matter? The indisputable reality is that Roosevelt had decided to take the US into war and he did so, partly by backing the Japanese into a corner they had to lash out from. A last-minute warning was sent to the Pearl Harbor defenders by commercial telegram to be delivered by a kid on a bicycle…..

    So, if your point was that governments can be trusted–that they don’t “conspire”– I’d join in roasting you for that one.

    I read you blog because frequently you make me think…..

    As for the Arnott piece, he’s surely right that the fundamentals of the US economy are rotting out, but look at this patronizing, victim-blaming language, so typical of wealth-serving money writers:

    “Consumption is not prosperity. The credit-addicted family measures its success by how much it is able to spend, applauding any new source of credit, regardless of the family income or ability to repay. The credit-addicted family enjoys a rising “family GDP”—consumption—as long as they can find new lenders, and suffers a family “recession” when they prudently cut up their credit cards.”


  4. Alan, I know governments and big biz “conspire” all the time, but I was trying to think of the more popular definition – an elaborate scheme conceived and executed entirely in secret. People always talk and operations like that are found out pretty quickly. But Iran-Contra went along for quite a long time, with great success, before Hasenfus was shot down. I think that by the time it was discovered the major goals had been achieved. That is pretty unusual, from what I can tell.

    I looked the other way at a lot of Arnott’s language, as I usually do when reading this stuff. Yes, people in these kinds of places have very different friends than you and I (as does Paul Krugman, BTW). But I think he has something very important to add to the discussion, and it’s a lot more elaborate than what I was saying (but in principle the same). I’m always looking for new perspectives and this one count as one worth listening to, IMHO. But I do wish he’d stay with the facts, yes.

  5. I visited Nicaragua in 1985 and saw some of the consequences of the “success:” blown up schools and health centers, teenage terrorists showing off their bullet wounds…. The details of the financing may have been secret, but what was happening on the ground was no secret. Just as, I’d argue, the bogus nature of the excuses for the second US invasion of Iraq was no real secret. One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.
    To get back to the point: We know about the “conspiracies” we know about. How many don’t we know about because they were “successful?” QED?

    I was glad to have the Arnott piece pointed out. Didn’t mean otherwise. But, typing this in Red Wing, with vacant and foreclosed properties all around, whole households commonly ending up in dumpsters … the City curtailing services … the cost to individual humans of our misgovernment calls out on that emotional level. Basta.

  6. I didn’t know all of Fox went after Common but I heard Sarah Palin saying something stupid. Thanks for the Daily Show link, it was hilarious! We have to start showing these people for just what hypocrites they are – & laugh at them for it!

  7. Alan, when I say “success” I mean they accomplished their goals – including secrecy. The whole operation seemed pretty ridiculous to me from the start, especially our fear of Daniel Ortega. But they did pull it off, or at least nearly so, before being discovered. That almost never happens, from what I can tell.

    Anna, I didn’t want to name any names because I don’t see that they are important at all to this story. It’s all a diversion and a rather transparent one at that. Feh.

  8. I especially like your writing today altho it is probably more like 2 blogs. I hope I get credit for being the first to mention Iran contra. My memory is not too good but I can still visualize the day working in a clinic with the radio on MPR and Pointdexter(?) claiming over and over he did not remember, it was so evasive and probably dishonest I remember a coworker exclaiming how can a reasonably bright official not remember a god damn thing!

  9. Dan, you get full credit for bringing Iran-Contra to my attention, yes! And I do remember those hearings very well. It’s probably what made me a Democrat – well, that and Mike Dukakis (as I wrote about back in January). Democrats may be ineffective, disorganized, and a bit cowardly but in the end they are … well, I dunno, there’s something I like in there. 🙂 Oh, wait, I have it – Democrats at least give a damn about things other than themselves!

  10. Pingback: Inflation and “Real” | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare

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