Tempus Fugit

On Sunday we go through the ritual of changing over to Standard Time.  Spring water, fall down, as the saying goes – or something like that. It always seems perfectly ridiculous to think that somehow we “save” an hour when all we’re really doing is moving it around.

It’s even worse if you have friends or colleagues in Europe, which left daylight time last week.  This week and this week only there were six hours between St Paul and Frankfurt instead of the usual seven.  Next week it’s back to normal.

All this messing with the clocks only proves how artificial the whole idea of time is.  Perhaps we’re better off with one time across the globe.

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Paint the Map Blue!

If you’re a Democrat, there’s a good chance that you’ve cackled with glee over the turmoil in the Republican Party. Between the presidential campaign running so far off script that inside fave Bush is polling in fourth at 8% and the chaos in the House there’s a lot of schadenfreude to be had.

Then again, it also might be distracting us Democrats from our own problems which, while not as public and nasty, are still rather bad. There’s nothing wrong with the party that can’t be fixed in the next year but time is running a bit short. Those of us who care about the future of our party, our movement, have a responsibility to kill the party over Republican misfortune and start calling out our own shortcomings.

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Credit Cards – Still Failing?

Have you received your new chip-protected credit card yet? The new cards are supposed to eliminate fraud by requiring a PIN, stored in the chip, at every purchase. As Barataria reported last year, the credit card system has to be considered completely compromised after a large number of security breeches at nearly every retailer. The largest ones are reported, but we it is wise to consider every use of the traditional “swipe” credit cards which are easily duplicated once the numbers and names are stolen.

That’s why the new cards were mandated to be in use by 1 October. But the system is plagued by delays at all ends – and may not be as secure as promised. That’s a big problem for merchants who, as of the deadline, assume responsibility for a lot of credit card fraud.

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Clinton & the Team

It has been a good two weeks for Hillary Clinton. First came the opening debate where she did what she needed to convince the party faithful and the pundits she is the front runner. That leveraged into Vice President Biden announcing he will not run. Finally, she sat down in front of the Benghazi Committee of the House and made a good case that the whiff of scandal was behind her.

But more impressive than all this was how it happened. This was a team effort where the Democratic Party started to rally around her and unite. It’s what it will take to win the election – and today there is little doubt she is the odds-on favorite to be the next president.

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The Glass-Steagall Battle

It’s the debate of the moment in the Democratic Party today. The Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking went from being something no one was against from 1933-1999, then something no one was for circa 1999-2014, and now is finally part of a vigorous debate. On the one side is the “Break up the big banks!” call from the Sanders wing and on the other is the much smaller “Yes, but it’s way more complicated than that!” voice of the establishment, usually Hillary Clinton.

It was the hottest topic at the last Democratic Debate on 13 October and it continues today. Your stand on it probably identifies who you back for president as well as your status in the Democratic Party. But is it worth all the hoopla?

Call me a pale male establishment type, but this is not a good argument.

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Econ for Everyone!

To keep it 100, economics is boring. But it’s also a study of the way those with money spend it, accumulate it, and keep it. It’s all about how we keep on keepin’ on as well as how some of us gain incredible power.

In the intro to his book “Rules for Radicals”, Saul Alinsky state that where Machiavelli’s “The Prince” was a book on how the powerful can gain more and keep it, his book is for those without power to obtain it. The bottom line is that without understanding the mechanisms of power you have no chance of doing more than throwing a wrench into the works and hoping it hits a weak point.

Barataria is focusing itself on the same principle applied to the mother’s milk of power, economics. The premise is that economics should never be just for those who want to preserve the establishment but for those who want to take it on. And rather than simply write a book we’ll start with a party.

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Holiday Shopping 2015

Like the stores that put out Christmas decorations before Halloween, it’s become a Barataria tradition to put up holiday sales projections in mid-October. Don’t blame us, that’s when they come out as retailers gear up for the mid-November rush.

Last year just over $600B in sales went out the doors at retail establishments, about 19% of their total for the year. $90B of that was online. 2014 was a big turning point, marking the biggest selling season since 2009. Will 2015 come in even bigger?

Retailers are counting on it, and that’s the prediction. A big holiday shopping season to launch us into a happier 2016.

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