TODAY FROM THAILAND:
Since it rained in Bangkok last week, the skies have been somewhat overcast and the temperature cooler (but see B.1 below).
I continue to spend my mornings at the health club and my afternoons in my apartment playing with my computer. My exercise effort and reduced my food intake has a resulted in my weight dropping to a level I have not experienced for over a decade. Good for me!
Alas, LM mentioned that the hotel management may close down the health club and consolidate its massage services into the Hotel Spa. The exercise facilities and lockers will be available then only for hotel guests. The reason they are considering this is that health club membership has fallen off greatly as members leave for the newer health club facilities in other hotels. The only part of the business that seems to be growing is the club’s increasing popularity with middle age and older women seeking massages with happy endings from the male masseurs working there. Surprisingly, and annoyingly for LM, many of the remaining elderly male members (not a joke) as well as the increasing number of Muslim hotel guests seek out their happy endings with the masseurs as well.
Recently I learned that Hayden would not be going to spend the summer in San Diego with the man he does not like. This man, by the way, is in effect a federal government policeman. At one time he served in the US embassy in BKK and along with his coworkers was known to be a frequent customer of similar services to those the notorious Secret Service officers were alleged to have bought in Cartagena.
During a trial in the US regarding an American citizen residing in SE Asia who may have violated US law, the principle evidence was supplied by a translator with whom it is alleged the arresting officer, our man from San Diego and previously BKK, was having an affair at the time. The conviction has been appealed because of this gross indiscretion.
It seems, our man from San Diego, had refused to agree to return Hayden to his mother after the summer was over so she decided not to send him there. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing I do not know. But in any case, Hayden may spend most of his vacation in the south of Thailand or in Italy or in the US while his mother spends it in the north of Thailand or somewhere he is not.
In any event, I may be returning to the US in early June, or I may be going to Italy or I may stay here.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Heat wave and stuff:
The Bangkok Post reported that the average daily temperature in Bangkok during April was over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Bangkok also has one of the lowest ratios of green space per resident in the world; Three square meters per person versus thirty-nine square meters per person average in the rest of the world’s major cities.
Thus it is in Bangkok that not only are you uncomfortable because it is hot, but you cannot breathe as well; nor does one have shade trees to walk under.
2. Indonesia; leading the way?
By 2014, Indonesia plans to ban exports of raw minerals in order to encourage local processing to add value and thereby redistribute the benefits of the country’s natural resources from foreigners to Indonesians.
I actually like this approach. Why shouldn’t countries (the US included) prohibit export of certain raw materials? It simply means that those with the money have to build factories in those countries producing the raw materials, thereby creating more higher paying jobs for its citizens.
3. China comes back down to earth:
In December, in one of my “This and that…” posts, I predicted that China’s economy would stumble during the early part of 2012. A recent HSBC survey shows manufacturing in China has contracted in April for the sixth straight month.
Hooray for me!
4. Lese Majesté:
Recently a 60-year-old man, affectionately referred to as “Uncle SMS” who a year ago had been jailed for 20 years for violating Thailand’s Lese Majesté law that prohibits anyone from insulting the Royal Family died of liver cancer. According to news reports he had been convicted for sending four SMS messages from his mobile phone to a government official that were deemed in violation of Lese Majesté laws. I have never seen copies of the messages but from reports it appears they were neither threatening nor directly critical of the monarchical institution. Uncle SMS claimed he had never sent the messages and that someone else had sent them after stealing his phone number. Uncle SMS requested bail 8 times and was rebuffed. Despite the fact that his tumor was obvious, the judge in denying bail opined that the accusations were serious and his illness not life threatening.
It should be noted that the King himself has said that Lese Majeste laws are unnecessary and that only through criticism from citizens could he know if he were doing a good job or not. Those who claim they most love the King and respect the Monarchy, however, refused to pay any attention to his request, as they also refuse to pay any attention to any of his requests if they clash with their political or financial goals. But they nevertheless, love and respect him with all their might. God help those who do not love and respect him as well as they do.
Who hid the Capitalist?
Capitalism arose when some people (eventually called Capitalists) joined together to pool their money to invest in a usually short-term enterprise like backing a trading venture to send lower cost goods somewhere where someone was willing to pay a lot more for them. Later they invested in things like brick factories and coal mines. Capitalists risked their invested money (and more if they had to pay off the debts of the venture should it fail) unless they were able to buy insurance.
This then was what originally we called Capitalism.
Government had little or nothing to do with the system except to keep general order. For example, you did not want people breaking into the coffee houses where these transactions were taking place shooting the capitalists and taking their money. This governmental activity, since government had to do it anyway to protect the king and his ascendency, did not cost much and taxes were relatively low.
Then an interesting thing happened. Governments of the time (usually Kings) saw a good way to raise money for things they wanted to do (like own the world) without increasing taxes. (Governments do this all the time and usually in the long run they get in trouble for it.) They told those people with money to invest, that if they invested it into a company called a “public corporation” set up by the government to carry out a specific task (e.g. Take someone else’s land establish colonies and import slaves to do the work) they will not be liable for any more money than the money they invest.
Corporations were not people. They were creations of the State. This was a prime example of government intruding into operation of the market by capping risk so that investors into corporations had a government created advantage over other capitalists. Investors into corporations were therefore not capitalists per se but could be called something like “corporatists.” (Why don’t Libertarians call for abolishment of the most fundamental intrusion of government into the so-called free market, limitation of financial risk represented by the corporate form?)
Corporatism is not Capitalism.
Another thing; people with money often did not wish to risk it in an investment where there was a chance that it could be lost. Instead, they found other people who needed the money and were willing to give the person with money something they owned of equal value that he then held until the money was returned. The person with money charged for the transaction. The transaction fee eventually was called interest, the man with the money the lender or the creditor and the man who needed the money, the debtor.
For a number of reasons, most of them bad, the lenders got the governments of the time to agree to use their swords and later guns to force the debtor to pay his debts and thereby freeing the lender from the difficulty of transferring and storing the debtors goods as well as the risk inherent in selling it should the debtor not repay the loan on time. But, the lender still charged interest for the less costly and risky transaction. What it ment was that the lender was able to transfer a significant amount of the cost of the transaction on to the general government and still keep the profits, arguing that the taxes (paid by everyone, but which the lenders usually strenuously objected to) charged by government made up for it. The enforcement of debt obligations, courts and the like added to the expense of general government.
The bond or the debt market is not capitalism and its denizens on Wall Street and elsewhere are not capitalists. If they were then they should not be asking government to shield them from risk (or at least they should be willing to pay their taxes).
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES,THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES and JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Removed for revision and reflection.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
The Federal Reserve was a Republican idea.
Social Security is solvent through 2038.
God is a particle.
George W. Bush held hands with the King of Saudi Arabia.
Evolution is real.
Since 1980 Republican administrations increased the national debt more than Democrats have.
The Earth is 4.54 billion years old.
Fox News is owned by an Australian and has a Saudi prince as a major investor.
Jesus was a Jew.
The current corporate tax rate is the lowest in 60 years
In 2011, the US became a net exporter of oil products — for the first time since 1949 — earning record profits for oil companies yet Americans pay almost $4 or more for a gallon of gas.
In Venezuela people pay less for fuel than for bottled water.
In Turkmenistan drivers are entitled to 120 gallons of free gasoline per month.
In Bahrain, which has almost no oil, the price of gasoline is $.78 per gallon.
Venezuela, Turkmenistan and Bahrain, as well as most other countries with low gasoline prices own their oil companies.
Therefore private oil companies are good for the environment. They keep gasoline prices high and thereby discourage driving, producing less CO2 resulting in lowering the greenhouse gasses and reducing the effects of climate change. Did you ever wonder why ownership of oil production by the Saudi government is not considered socialism by most conservatives but in Venezuela’s case it is?
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
1. It is time to return to the good old days when the US led the world in high wage work.
2. Perhaps it also is time our executives should get paid salaries similar to those paid to executives in countries whose corporate executives are eating our lunch?
What is even more amazing is that these same executives whose companies are steadily losing market share to more frugal executive paying foreign corporations often blame their relatively poor performance on US government interference while at the same time warning the rest of us to be wary of adopting the “socialist” policies existing in the countries whose corporate executives manage to compete for market share better than they do.
B. E.L. Doctorow: “Primer on Unexceptionalism.”
TO achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished, traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the world, do the following:
If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, ignore the first sacrament of a democracy and suspend the counting of ballots in a presidential election. Appoint the candidate of your choice as president.
If you’re the newly anointed president, react to a terrorist attack by invading a nonterrorist country. Despite the loss or disablement of untold numbers of lives, manage your war so that its results will be indeterminate.
Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail, make business, medical and public library records available to government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of homes and offices.
Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those you decide are enemies. For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens.
Suspend progressive taxation so that the wealthiest pay less proportionately than the middle class. See to it that the wealth of the country accumulates to a small fraction of the population so that the gap between rich and poor widens exponentially.
By cutting taxes and raising wartime expenditures, deplete the national treasury so that Congress and state and municipal legislatures cut back on domestic services, ensuring that there will be less money for the education of the young, for government health programs, for the care of veterans, for the maintenance of roads and bridges, for free public libraries, and so forth.
Deregulate the banking industry so as to create a severe recession in which enormous numbers of people lose their homes and jobs.
Before you leave office add to the Supreme Court justices like the ones who awarded you the presidency.
C. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
Although I do not feel like apologizing for anything today, I feel I must say something about why I believe, “This and that…” has recently become so boring to me and I assume to you. Perhaps it is due to the enervating effect of the heat wave since I returned. On the other hand my sadness for leaving behind Hayden and my friends and family who have been so kind and understanding to me may have affected me more that I realized. Or, it may be with the effective end of the Republican presidential nomination, I have become disappointed with the disappearance of God’s (that practical joker in the sky) chosen candidate for lunatic of the month. (Now, I certainly have my problems with Mitt, but give him credit for defeating all of God’s own candidates.) It may also be the ennui settling in as the realization that, “This and that…” is coming to its end. But, for whatever the reason, I apologize.
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
(Graphics unavailable at this time)
The map on the left shows the counties that voted strongly Republican in 2008 the purple mixed Republican and Democratic and the blue Democratic. The map on the right shows the same information but adjusted for population size. I guess it is safe to assume from these maps that Democrats prefer to be near water and where there are a lot of other people while Republicans seem not to like water and prefer to be left alone.
Pookie should appeal to all Americans, he likes cities but not people too much. He likes to swim but prefers to drink things other than plain water.
1. “The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt
2. “I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.”
3. “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
6. “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
If you do not think it can happen again, look at the results in the Greek election. The Greek unemployment rate has approached 25 percent and the Nazi Party in the recent election has garnered almost 10 percent of the vote to for the first time in 65 years win seats in a european national legislature.
Gary’s photograph of Pattaya Bay