TODAY FROM THAILAND:
The heat wave continues here in Thailand. Today, however, is somewhat overcast. That could signify the coming of the rains bringing cooler air and the breaking of the drought.* Cordt has moved back to Chiang Mai and David has returned to Qatar.
SWAC has reported that Hayden is doing poorly in school and requires a tutor. I suspect that now that he has reached seven years old, the effects of his many abandonments are manifesting themselves in his personality and performance. Nevertheless, SWAC intends leave him again in two weeks. This time he will stay with Joey. She will then be sending him to spend his summer in San Diego with the man he hates while she decides where she wants to live next year. She has suggested to me that she may like to move to San Diego, as a change of pace. She has asked Joey to abandon his business in the US and move to Thailand and open a pizza shop in her bar. I have heard that he is considering it.
On a more positive note, I am pleased that Norbert’s activities documenting the events surrounding the drafting and the passage of the Coastal Act of 1976 put me back in touch with Jerry Smith. Jerry Smith for whom I worked at the time, was the California State Senator who was the principal author of that monumental piece of legislation and who successfully shepherded it through the legislature. Despite the fact that he was a freshman legislator with no seniority, he nonetheless rescued the legislation from defeat and masterfully maneuvered it through the hostile political morass that was the State Legislature. Sadly, he has been all but forgotten by those self-identified environmentalists who had little if anything to do with the process. These same environmentalists nevertheless later flocked to honor, as saviors of the coast, some of those who most tried to weaken the program.
Anyway, Jerry after serving eight years in the California Legislature, was appointed a judge in the California Court of Appeals and following retirement from the bench commenced an entirely new career as an accomplished and successful bronze sculptor. The sculptures are in bronze not Jerry. (Sculptors in marble can only chip at it while those that work in bronze pour away.)
It seems as though this has been a week for re-connecting with legislators, I knew during my time in government service. Because of my involvement with my sister’s innovative education internet site, I needed to contact Jack O’Connell, a former legislator who became California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.
I first met Jack when, as a young man in his twenties, he was elected to the California Legislature as assemblyman from Isle Vista in Santa Barbara County. He was notable for every weekend taking a folding card table and a couple of folding chairs and setting them up in various shopping centers in his district in order to conduct constituent services directly. After a few terms in the Assembly he served in the State Senate before being elected to the post of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Jack’s enthusiasm and guilessness made working with him a pleasure. I supported him as much as I could.
To round things out, Terry Goggin, another ex California assemblyman has written from New York City where he has relocated in order to run his burgeoning restaurant business. His newest (second) restaurant in the City called Preserve24 has been designed by his son, the well known sculptor Brian Goggin. As Terry describes it:
“The design of Preserve24 is really, really good. It’s an Alice and Wonderland art installation: Argentinian inspired coffee cafe; live 24 hour bakery, cellar theater kitchen, restaurant and pub bar all rolled into 6,000sq.ft. on two levels, in the rock’in, roll ‘in lower Eastside. Its next to a 7 shows a night music venue. The design uses found objects, like 100 year old fishing skiffs; very old tenement doors in a paneled “Door Wall” ; tables made out of recycled old growth wood; and old grand pianos (as a back bar for the pub). We are carrying out in practice a green sustainable ethos, unlike hypocritical Starbucks et al.
…but the real sizzle is using the PR from the crazy design (and an ancient ice reliquary with 100,000 yr. old preserved Arctic ice)…
It will all come to a head In 2013 when the 6 tons of 9ft x 4ft ancient ice, carved from a Greenland iceberg, will come to NYC on a wooden sailing schooner (a real “Tall Ship”) through the Verrazano Straights right to the foot of Broadway. It will then be put on a horse-drawn wagon, and transported in a parade up Broadway to P24. We think it might draw some attention.”
PT Barnum would love it. I hope the food is good. I expect everyone reading this who finds himself in NY to stop into his new restaurant or into SPRIG his existing one, and write a review.
*Since that was written it has rained, cleaning the air and cooling things down a bit.…
Just before the end of the Nineteenth Century through their mouthpieces, neoclassical economists, the élite classes came up with the greatest coup of ideas to justify their existence since the Devine Right of Kings.
Prior to that the classical economists beginning with Adam Smith and his contemporaries, observed that all production required three things. Land, Capital, and Labor. For example take a brick factory. The building and oven needed to create the bricks are the “capital” – the owners are the capitalists. The people making the bricks is the “labor” – the people doing the actual work. The Land the factory occupies and the clay used to make the bricks is the “land” – the owners of the land are the “Rentiers”. Any money made by selling the bricks is then divided up between these three groups: the rentiers, the capitalists, and the workers.
According to Adam Smith only two of the three groups made any real contribution to the production process. The workers contributed their time. The capitalists contributed their capital, but is now used and worth less than before. The Rentiers contributed their land, but have lost nothing. Once the manufacturing of the bricks is done, they get their land back and it is still worth the same as it was before. Any income they made by renting out their land was made without work, and without risk to their assets. There is a word for someone who only takes, but doesn’t give back: a parasite. Smith and those who carried on his work used the nicer term, Rentier. This is where the phrase “economic rent” originates. It originally described a no value added landlord.
Adam Smith and his contemporary classical economists existed in a time where the noble families of medieval Europe were still the large landowners. The nobles had just turned into Rentiers. Because they owned the land, they were able to rent it out to capitalist and workers and claim a portion of their profits and wages by charging “rent”. They were able to do this without ever working. It was unearned income.
Much of the work done by economists from Adam Smith until the late Nineteenth Century was all about finding and identifying “rent-seeking.” These classical economists didn’t want to overthrow capitalism, they wanted to free it from the “rent-seeking” parasites.
Then along came the so-called “neoclassical” economists. The neoclassical economists and their élite supporters, perhaps terrorized by the growing popularity of Henry George and his theories, decided to begin treating land and capital as the same. If land is treated as capital then the concept of rent can effectively go away and those who reap what Smith referred to as “unearned income” suddenly became “Capitalists” and their unearned income became “profit.”
“Rent-seeking” is not just “ownership of the land”. It can take several shapes. Rent-seeking is any income that is unearned. An alternative definition is “profit without a corresponding cost of production”. “Economic Rent” can come from ownership of land and just “renting” it out for money. It can also come from collecting so much capital that a firm now has a monopoly and can set the price independent of supply and demand considerations, It can be from government monopoly granting, control of other “land” like our rivers, broadband spectrum, or “mineral rights” of land. It can come from control of financial assets like capital gains, dividends, and interest on loans (especially usury). It can also come from political favors from the government.
Once the neoclassicists removed the entire concept of “rentier” from economic analysis, and eventually political, conversation, it was all capitalism and capitalists in their world.
Now when some people object to the obscene profits made for example on Wall Street (e.g., derivatives) specifically that portion that is the unearned income of the rentiers, they lack the vocabulary to properly express what is happening. Instead, the mouthpieces (Lawyers, lobbyists, economists, etc.) of those making the unconscionable amount of unearned income try to make it look like those complaining are railing against capitalism itself or against businesses in general. Often, however, the criticism of the “excesses of capitalism,” are actually an objection to the parasitic rentiers that are hurting the true capitalists as much as the workers.
“Wealth creation” by debt leveraging – that is, asset-price inflation – was celebrated as a post-industrial economy, as if this were a positive and natural evolution. But in reality it is a lapse back into a rentier economy, and even into a kind of neofeudalism.
When a company has a monopoly and can charge whatever they want, that’s not being a capitalist or an entrepreneur, that’s being a “Rentier.”
When oil company’s make “windfall profits” as the price of oil goes up, that’s not profit, that’s “economic rent.”
When a drug company can keep the government from negotiating lower prices, that isn’t capitalism, that’s classic “rent-seeking” behavior.
Much of the money made on Wall Street is nothing but pure rent-seeking. Companies lobbying for tax loop holes is just more unproductive rent-seeking.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of influential economists are still neoclassical and don’t believe land and rentiers exist. They can try to deny their existence, but when the top 1% of the country make more money in one night while they are sleeping then most will make working at their job for 6 months, it’s hard to deny their existence. It’s unfortunately that our intellectual class “lost” these words and concepts from the mainstream discussion.
One could argue history is repeating itself. 200 years ago, the conservative vs. liberal mantra was that conservatives were fighting to keep the power of the nobles and large landlords intact. The liberals were the ones trying to free themselves politically and economically from their control. Today it’s the same. Conservatives are fighting to maintain the privilege of the Rentiers by pretending to defend capitalism itself. And once again, liberals are fighting to free the market from the parasitical Rentiers.
Recently the economic commentator Michael Hudson wrote:
“The classical free market economists endorsed taxes on unearned income: land rent and natural resources, monopoly rent and financial privilege. These categories of income have no counterpart in a cost of production undertaken by the rent recipient. The more that governments can shift the tax burden on to land and property, the lower housing prices will be – and the less governments will need to tax labor by income and sales taxes.
Bankers back anti-government ideology because they want to obtain all of the untaxed rental revenue as interest. So taxes that otherwise would be paid to the government will be paid to the bankers. The result – what you’re seeing today in Europe and North America – is an economic grab that is in many ways like that which gave birth to European feudalism. But this time around it is financial, not military.”
(Note: Most of this is an adaptation of a blog written by someone else with which I agree. I decided to revise it for “This and that….”)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES, THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES and JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Renewed for another season.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
1992: the Japanese government relinquished possession of 20,000 Korean noses it had been holding on to for almost 400 years. Stored in the Okayama Nose Tomb, the pickled noses were originally brought to Japan as war trophies by samurai, paid a bounty for each nose they hacked off. Although the noses have been returned, a further 75,000 Korean ears remain–shipped over in barrels of brine and now deposited within Kyoto’s Mimizuka Ear Mound. Needless to say, the abducted appendages form a major bone, or more precisely cartilage, of contention in Japanese-Korean relations.
It gives a whole other meaning to Marc Anthony’s oration in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”
The Okayama Nose Tomb and the Mimizuka Ear Mound? Are they major tourist stops? Well, what did you do on your trip to Japan?
Perhaps Terry’s son Brian may find in it inspiration for a sculpture or a theme for a restaurant. Something called “Feet.” Wait a second, someone already tried to place a sculpture of a foot on the SF waterfront. It probably would have had better luck if they buried a bunch of feet under a mound of grass, “The SF Foot Mound.” Then across the street someone could open a restaurant called “Foot Mound Restaurant.” I am sure it has been done already, probably somewhere in Japan.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
1. Isn’t it time we consider what really occurs when we severely cut taxes of the rich?
2. We need to do better than this:
a. In 1970, 65 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”. By 2007, only 44 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.
b. According to a recent report produced by Pew Charitable Trusts, approximately one out of every three Americans that grew up in a middle class household has slipped down the income ladder.
c. In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
d. The poorest 50 percent of all Americans now collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
e. The number of Americans that fell into poverty (2.6 million) set a new all-time record last year and extreme poverty (6.7%) is at the highest level ever measured in the United States.
f. According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.
g. America has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities a day over the last 10 years. During 2010 it got even worse. Last year, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day shut down in the United States.
h. Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low-income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
i. Most Americans are scratching and clawing and doing whatever they can to make a living these days. Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
In China, a 42-year-old man was reportedly killed last week during a fight over a parking space when a 41-year-old woman squeezed his testicles until he collapsed and died.
C. A high point in the annals of science:
In a recent study in Science magazine the question was asked, if you buy two items for a total of $110 and one item was $100 more than the other what was the cost of the other item.
The conclusion drawn from said study is that those who answered $10 are more intuitive people, folks who “think with their gut,” like George W. Bush and others who are reportedly “fun to have a beer with.”
Meanwhile, the $5 peeps solve their problems analytically, thinking a bit more deeply about the problem, not just jumping to conclusions.
It should be pointed out, this isn’t a problem with two answers, nor is it a Rorschach test. $5 is really the only answer, if you’re worried about answering correctly. So, instead of “intuitive” and “analytical,” the more accurate phrasing should be “right” and “horribly, stupidly wrong.”
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
Is Mitt Romney the Antichrist?
It should be noted the every candidate in the Republican Presidential primaries endorsed by God lost to Mitt Romney, a man who wears magical underwear and makes his dog ride on the roof of his car.
Another reason to vote for Pookie for President. He is the only candidate endorsed by God still running. Also, he does not have a dog and no one would call Pookie’s underwear magical.
VOTE FOR POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT ON THE NO PARTY PARTY PARTY TICKET IF YOU REALLY WANTS GOD’S GUY IN THE OVAL OFFICE. POOKIE TALKS TO GOD ALMOST AS OFTEN AS POOKIE TALKS TO HIMSELF.
OK I admit it. How could I refuse to post a quote by Rutherford B. Hayes if I came across one? How many of you reading this even knew we had a President named Rutherford B. Hayes? How many of you thought he looked like this? How did he eat his oatmeal in the morning?
Hayes, the 19th President of the United States, was a Republican at the time the Party was considered the reform party and the Democratic Party the party of northern scoundrels and southern bigots.
Hayes was a reformer who began the efforts that led to civil service reform and attempted, unsuccessfully, to reconcile the divisions that had led to the American Civil War fifteen years earlier. He ardently supported civil rights laws to protect the newly freed slaves from reprisals at the hand of the defeated Confederate leadership and the Democratic Party.
His approach to the emerging conflict between labor and capital can be summed up in the following quote:
“The strikes have been put down by force; but now for the real remedy. Can’t something [be] done by education of strikers, by judicious control of capitalists, by wise general policy to end or diminish the evil? The railroad strikers, as a rule, are good men, sober, intelligent, and industrious.”
He was elected President in a disputed election in which he actually garnered fewer electoral votes than his opponent, but, in a political compromise, was awarded those electoral votes that had been challenged. The so called “compromise” ended reconstruction by removing the remaining Union military administration from the South. This enabled the Democratic Party to gain absolute political control in the South for almost 100 years until, as a result of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the segregationist Democrats abandoned the party for the Republican Party, occupying that Party’s right-wing until it was able to drive the reformers and moderates who controlled the Party out and establish the long sought victory for the South in the Civil War that they could not win on the battlefield.
In his later life Hayes continued his reformist activities writing in his diary:
“In church it occurred to me that it is time for the public to hear that the giant evil and danger in this country, the danger which transcends all others, is the vast wealth owned or controlled by a few persons. Money is power. In Congress, in state legislatures, in city councils, in the courts, in the political conventions, in the press, in the pulpit, in the circles of the educated and the talented, its influence is growing greater and greater. Excessive wealth in the hands of the few means extreme poverty, ignorance, vice, and wretchedness as the lot of the many. It is not yet time to debate about the remedy. The previous question is as to the danger—the evil. Let the people be fully informed and convinced as to the evil. Let them earnestly seek the remedy and it will be found. Fully to know the evil is the first step towards reaching its eradication. Henry George is strong when he portrays the rottenness of the present system. We are, to say the least, not yet ready for his remedy. We may reach and remove the difficulty by changes in the laws regulating corporations, descents of property, wills, trusts, taxation, and a host of other important interests, not omitting lands and other property.”
Making Rutherford B. Hayes a presumptive precursor of the “Occupy” movement.
Another chart that I have no idea what it means. I assume they are trying to show that Democrats are good for business. Maybe, but no one believes the Dow is an indication of either a nations economic health or business growth. It measures what a bunch of people with too much money think about 30 overly large businesses will do sometime in the future. For most of us economic health means a well paying job. On the other hand, private sector jobs actually have increased under the last few Democratic Presidents while they have fallen during the Republican administration. Ironically, public sector jobs have increased during the antigovernment Republican administrations while they have fallen under the Democrats until now 100% of the job losses since the lesser depression began in 2007 can be blamed on the reduction of the number of governmental employees that occurred under Democratic administrations.)\
Is there anything happier than a child with a gun?