Posts Tagged With: Economists

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 31 Capt. Coast 0008 (May 10, 2019)

 
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“War is for defending ideals, not exercising them.”
Bancroft, Josiah. The Hod King (The Books of Babel). Orbit.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
This morning I woke up and bleary-eyed looked into the mirror. I was surprised by what I saw there — something I haven’t seen for about five months. There on my upper lip hair was growing. I felt mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, now that my Chemotherapy has ended, this bit of fuzz on my upper lip signified my hair might be growing back and that is good. On the other hand, it means that I will have to begin shaving again and getting haircuts — Or, I could just let everything grow out. More decisions.

After the Barr testimony before the Senate a day or two ago, I get the impression that the White House is under siege again. The question I have is, why is He Who Is Not My President so frightened of having the Mueller report, his taxes, and business records released? It is difficult to imagine that his opposition to their release is simply a question of principle.

Also, is it just my imagination or does He Who Is Not My President seem to vociferously attack every potential Democratic opponent he may meet in the 2020 Presidential election except Bernie Sanders?

The weekend has arrived and so has Nikki. The weather is sunny and warm. The azaleas are still blooming. Naida busily works on volume two of her memoir. I sit here at my computer wondering what I will do today knowing full well I have ignored or forgotten things I should be doing. That is one of the aspects of arriving at the age of decrepitude, doing things are less important than having pleasant thoughts.

I drove up into the now once again Golden Hills and parked at the skatepark. Nikki met me there and we gossiped while waiting for Hayden and the scooter gang to show up. A large contingent of the gang soon arrived, including HRM, Jake, Caleb and a host of others. I imagined them all on motorcycles roaring into a tiny town in the foothills somewhere like something from a biker flick of the 60s. I shuddered and put the image out of my mind.

After a long time spent meeting and greeting all the adolescents on scooters that descended on us, HRM, Jake, Caleb and I piled into the car Nikki was driving and went off in search of a pizza. Milano’s, H and my favorite pizza place, seems to have closed permanently (sob). We found another place nearby, ordered the pizza and returned to Dick’s house. The adolescents disappeared into the basement to devour their pizza and play video games. Nikki and I retired to the back deck to sit in sun, eat ours, and continue our gossip session. After exhausting the scuttlebutt and gobbling down a few slices of pizza, I left and returned to the Enchanted Forest.

On the drive back, I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow I am failing HRM and that I simply am unable to give him the counsel, guidance, security, and friendship that he needs and deserves. Of the three children I have contributed to raising, I believe that somehow my efforts to guide them to happy and successful lives were horribly inadequate. It’s just another load of guilt we add to the pack on our backs that gets heavier and heavier as we grow older. Sometimes I think it is the crushing weight of accumulated guilt and failure that kills us in the end.

The weekend brought with it relief from my fit of melancholy. Perhaps it is because I keep lengthening my walks — you know, boosting my serotonin or dopamine or whatever. Perhaps it is because Naida wrote me a lovely poem — no one has ever done that for me before. Perhaps, it is because I was amused by attending a meeting at the clubhouse to meet those running for the Nepenthe HOC board — it seemed most of the people there favored the election of “anyone but the incumbents.” Of the pressing issues discussed, everyone seemed to agree they all hated leaf blowers. Naida suggested they be banned as they had been in LA.

Last night, Naida gave me a marvelous ring. It was made by one of her uncles, a prominent leader in the Methodist church. Naida said that when he was not doing minister things he would often wander into the desert looking for gemstones that he would bring home and, in a workshop in his basement, fashion them into jewelry. He made the ring from silver that he fashioned into lacework in which he set a remarkable opal he had found somewhere in the desert. The stone itself flashes through the spectrum from brilliant turquoise to a spectacular fiery red when light shines on it. I love it.
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I have noticed, after reading the last few T&T posts, my life has become dreadfully dull. Not traveling, wrestling with a crisis, or suffering through a real or imagined emotional or physical disaster makes retelling the day to day plod of an old man’s life tedious. After all, how many ways can one describe spending his days, reading the newspaper, checking his email and watching old movies on television? On the other hand, except for these fits of boredom and impatience, I am quite content and happy with my life as a grumpy old man starring at the end of his existence. It could be worse. I could be an adolescent again or I could be working in the Trump White House.

Today I drove back into the Golden Hills, picked up HRM and Big Tall Long Haired Jake at the Skate Park and drove them to the house where I left them after imparting to them today’s words of wisdom. “Remember.” I told them, “always keep on truckin.”

The next day HRM called me and asked me to pick him and Jake up again after school. I did. This time, after a brief stop at Dick’s house, I drove them to Caleb’s house in order for Caleb to give Jake his birthday present since it was Jake’s fifteenth birthday today. I then drove them back to Dick’s house where they picked up their bicycles and pedaled off to practice with the EDH mountain bicycling team.

 

 

B. OFF AGAIN TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
Another beautiful sunny day. While Sacramento is no Paradise, here in the Enchanted Forest nestled between that city’s slurbs and a gentle curve of the picturesque American River this morning broke as close to that as can be and still not be considered a dream. Alas, we spent the morning rushing around preparing to leave for the foggy Great Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion. That preparation included getting Boo-boo settled with the dog-sitter. He wasn’t happy.
IMG_6133

That night at Peter and Barrie’s house where we spent the night, Barrie prepared a delightful meal that featured pasta with a sauce of garlic, butter, parsley, lemon, and topped with asparagus. It was accompanied by chilled Prosecco. (It has only been in the last few years that drinkable prosecco has been imported from Italy.)

They had invited a friend to join us for dinner. He was an aspiring author and wanted to discuss with Naida his literary ambitions and get her advice on publishing. He hoped to publish several works including a play about the travails of a man named Thomas White who had homes in San Francisco, Mexico and Thailand. He was accused by several alleged victims (boys) of having who sex with them when they were underage. He was tracked down in Thailand extradited to Mexico where he was tried, convicted and jailed. After spending almost seven years in jail White learned that the attorney who represented the alleged victims and reaped several millions of dollars in payoffs, he along with his accomplice as well as one of the underaged youths were convicted in California of murdering the target of another scam. The alleged young victim also confessed to lying about sexual contact with White. With the new evidence, he was released from jail but died soon afterward.

We had an enjoyable evening listening to the discussion of things literary and the pitfalls of publication. Over dinner, we all told stories. Peter told several about the early days of the Coastal Conservancy. I could not remember much about the things that he talked about although I was a major actor in the drama or more appropriate comedy. It seems my memory lately resembles a ragged lace curtain blowing in the breeze — more holes than substance.

I told the story of the developer who had been stymied by Denise, my wife at the time, in his plans to build a large spec house in our neighborhood and who had shot and killed his two investor threatening to withdraw their financing for the development. He then, gun in hand, jumped into his car and drove up into the Twin Peaks area, presumably to do to Denise and I what he had done to his investors. At the corner down from our house, I guess he thought better of the idea or perhaps he was stricken with guilt and decided to shoot himself rather than us.

As we finished dinner, Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda showed up bringing dessert, a wonderfully light cake and strawberries dipped in chocolate.
IMG_6137.jpg

The next morning, we drove to the hospital for my immunotherapy treatment. The nurse explained that the immunotherapy was intended to halt reactivation of the cancerous cells that still remain in the tumor. Most of the time, however, was spent with the nurse and Naida discussing books and book clubs.

After the treatment, we drove home directly.

 

 

 

MOPEY’S MEMORIES:

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES: The depressing state of the American airline industry; two days in Orvieto; and a bunch of Giacomini’s.
June 2011

The following morning we left for LAX and our flight to Italy.

The depressing state of the American airline industry is additional evidence that the terrorists won. It was not the taking down of buildings, the killing of Americans or airplanes falling from the sky that was the goal of their attacks, but the subtle certainty of their understanding of the American psyche was their actual weapon. Their focus was to destroy the American economy by knowing precisely the reaction of America’s conservative elite’s thirst for power and profit. And we fell into the trap. Instead of making ourselves even stronger economically at home we wasted American treasure and dollars in unnecessary wars in the deserts of the middle east until we rewarded our attackers their victory, destruction of our economy. I consider the architects of our response nothing less than cynical traitors who wrapped themselves in the flag for personal benefit and power.

The American sad state of Airline travel is small but significant evidence of the extent of the terrorist success.

Anyway, following an especially uncomfortable flight, I arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport with swollen legs, aching back and a foul temper. We were met by Nikki, who had arrived from Chicago a few hours earlier.

After about two hours of trying to secure a rent-a-car for our trip to Milan during which we experienced the full fury of Italian efficiency, we set off.

Within minutes it became obvious that we were not going to make the 4 or so hour drive to Milan that evening as both SWAC and I began to complain to Nikki of our various discomforts. At my suggestion, we agreed to spend the night in Orvieto a small hilltop city not far off the Autostrada.

As we entered the town, SWAC became quite excited. She thought she recognized the town as the site of George Clooney’s escapades in the movie “The American” or some such.

We located a pleasant B&B called “Las Palmas,” dropped off our luggage and set off in search of dinner which we found at an attractive restaurant a few doors away. Following a very enjoyable meal and the downing of two liters of local red and white wines among the three of us, we stumbled back to our respective rooms and to sleep.

The next morning we checked out of the B & B and set off in search of the Duomo as well as to hunt for the locations of scenes in the film that SWAC might recall.

Orvieto’s Duomo is an interesting church with a large Romanesque interior and Italian gothic façade decorated with large Bas-reliefs, statues, and glittering mosaics. On the piers, about 30 feet high are carved a series of Bas-reliefs depicting biblical stories from the Old and New Testament that along with the view from the city walls are the towns glory.

Orvieto_cathedral
The Facade of the Duomo in Orvieto

 

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Orvieto

 

Orvieto like many of the hill towns in this part of Italy specialize in a type of pottery called Faience. Each town promotes in a slightly different design on the pottery and ever since Faience pottery became beloved of collectors, each town has developed its own pottery “artist.” In Orvieto, the renowned artist is the daughter of the owner of a pottery shop on the Plaza del Duomo called Giacomini.
MAL_5367a-150x150@2x
Giacomini’s

For those with knowledge and experience with the California Coastal Commission, yes they are the relatives of the late beloved suspender wearing, rotund, ex-Marin County Supervisor and Coastal Commissioner, Gary Giacomini sometimes also referred to as “Farmer Brown”.

Gary was an ardent environmentalist as long as it did not interfere with his and his family’s economic and political ambitions.

I spent about a half an hour swapping “Gary” stories with the family before we departed to search for the supposed locations of scenes from the movie, take photographs and return to the Autostrada to complete our journey to Milan.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 
The following was posted in T&T in 2011 before Faux News became the all-encompassing mouthpiece for the radical right it is today. It is interesting to note, however, that in eight years many of the pundits mentioned are still with us and would probably be ranked in the same categories were this poll to be taken again today. Of course, Russ Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and a few others deserve a category of their own — Deplorables will do.

2011: “Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air”:

Students at Hamilton College sampled the predictions of 26 individuals who wrote columns in major newspapers and/or appeared on the three major Sunday television news shows (Face the Nation, Meet the Press, and This Week) over a 16 month period from September 2007 to December 2008. They used a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “will not happen,” 5 being “will absolutely happen”) to rate each prediction the pundits made, and then they evaluated each prediction for whether or not it came true.

What did they find? Basically, if you want to be almost as accurate as the pundits they studied, all you have to do is a) root through the cushions of your couch, b) find a coin, and c) start flipping it. Boom! You are now pretty close to being a political genius. Only nine of the 26 pundits surveyed proved more reliable than a coin flip.

Using the students’ statistical methodology, the 26 pundits were broken down into three categories: “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” Here’s how they break down:

THE GOOD: Paul Krugman, New York Times (highest scorer); Maureen Dowd, New York Times; Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania Governor; Chuck Schumer, New York Senator; Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader; Kathleen Parker, Washington Post and TownHall.com; David Brooks, New York Times; Eugene Robinson, Washington Post; Hank Paulson, former Secretary of the Treasury

THE BAD: Howard Wolfson, counselor to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor/Fox News host; Newt Gingrich, eternal Presidential candidate; John Kerry, Massachusetts Senator; Bob Herbert, New York Times; Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC; Thomas Friedman, New York Times, David Broder, Washington Post (deceased); Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune; Nicholas Kristof, New York Times; Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State

THE UGLY: George Will, Washington Post/This Week; Sam Donaldson, ABC News; Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Senator; Carl Levin, Michigan Senator; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Senator; Cal Thomas, Chicago Tribune (lowest scorer)

In their executive summary, the students note:

“We discovered that a few factors impacted a prediction’s accuracy. The first is whether or not the prediction is a conditional; conditional predictions were more likely to not come true. The second was partisanship; liberals were more likely than conservatives to predict correctly. The final significant factor in a prediction’s outcome was having a law degree; lawyers predicted incorrectly more often.”

As for the factor of partisanship, it certainly didn’t help pundits if their predictions were primarily based on who they happened to be carrying a torch for in the 2008 election — Lieberman and Graham, obviously, did poorly in this regard. The students noted that “[p]artisanship had an impact on predictions even when removing political predictions about the Presidential, Vice Presidential, House, and Senate elections,” but I still imagine that this particular script may have flipped if the period of study was the sixteen-month period between September 2009 and December 2010.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Terry Pratchett on Top:

“Wen the Eternally Surprised.”

“Why was he eternally surprised?” And they are told: ‘Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, re-created anew. Therefore, he understood, there is, in truth, no Past, only a memory of the Past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.’”
Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 31). HarperCollins.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations
Trickle down economics is an enviable thing. It affords those who promote it the appearance of concern for the people — with no responsibility for delivering anything to them.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

Good Morning

In slow rhythm I awoke in a bundle
of comfort and peace made of arms and legs
and torsos in sync with your low-pitched
intake of breath from our air-pool, forehead
snug against cheek, and then our exhale moans
through my chest while somewhere deep
in our bundle a spark flares to another beat.

I love you tells only half what I feel
when you are the other half of me.
N.W.

 

 

D. Joey’s Mystery Novel:
My partially completed unfinished novel, Dominion, can be found at, https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/dominion-an-unfinished-and-never-published-novel/. Below is one of the draft chapters in which the main protagonist, Vince Biondi, is confronted by San Mateo County Sheriff Megs Polan.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL: “Dominion.” When Vince Meets Megs.

Chapter whatever:

Vince took into the office washroom the overnight suitcase he always kept available in his office in case he had to make a sudden short business trip or pulled an all-nighter like this one. He washed as best he could, shaved, changed his clothing and returned to his office just as Ray arrived to accompany him to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office. Ray had obviously been called by Ike and was dressed in what for him passed for business attire, pearl button earrings, a military-style camouflage jacket, matching camouflage pants and neon green Crocs on his feet.

When they arrived at the Sheriff’s office, they were immediately ushered into the office of Sheriff Megan (Megs) Polan, former beauty queen, bodybuilding champion and a rising star in local Republican politics. Vince and Ray sat in chairs across the hygienically clean desk behind which Megs sat enthroned like a medieval duchess. Her still super toned body so filled out her tan uniform that it looked painted on. She had curly auburn hair that hung down to her shoulders and the steely blue eyes of either a stone cold killer or paranoid schizophrenic. She did not rise to greet them or speak but leaned across her desk and pushed a transparent evidence bag containing a small piece of paper towards them. As she bent forward, Vince caught a glimpse of cleavage struggling to escape the casually unbuttoned shirt. He also noticed the large black pistol riding high on her hip. Vince disconcerted that he found himself turned on, covered his embarrassment by dropping his eyes to the proffered evidence bag and studying its contents.

Inside the bag was a piece of paper torn from a small spiral bound notebook and on it, written in a shaky hand, was the message, “If anything should happen to me, call Vincent Biondi,” along with Vince’s personal mobile phone number.

“So Mr. Biondi,” Megs intoned in her surprisingly whiskey edged voice, “what can you tell me about this note and what may have happened to Mrs. Stephanie Coign last night?”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Or an amicable pair,” said Sam. “Sorry?” “In math, that’s what we call two numbers each of which is equal to the sum of the divisors of the other. The smallest ones, 220 and 284, were regarded by the Pythagoreans as symbols of true friendship.”
Hill, Reginald. The Stranger House (p. 191). HarperCollins.

Consider telling your bestie, “I am 220 to your 284.” How long do you think your friendship will last? The Pythagoreans were always a pretty strange group. On the other hand, closer to our time, even Albert Einstein can appear somewhat otherworldly:

“We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.”
Albert Einstein

Try telling that to your bestie.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 14 Mopey 0007 (February 10, 2018)

 

 

 

“What good is seeking a greater law, when that law can be the whims of a man either stupid or ruthless?”

Sanderson, Brandon. Edgedancer: From the Stormlight Archive. Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Almost a week has gone by since I returned from Mendocino. Most of the time, I have felt too exhausted to do much other than driving HRM to and from school, sleeping, and reading. Hopefully, I will get back to swimming this weekend. The weather seems to be getting warmer.

SWAC returns in early March. It will probably better for all concerned that I leave for the month or so that she will be here. While it is a bit of a bother, I look forward to a little traveling if my health allows. The problem I have is in deciding where to go and what to do when I get there.

On March 24th, I intend to accompany Peter to another concert at SFJAZZ. That breaks things up nicely in the middle. Two weeks in March during which I can travel visiting friends in other parts of California and perhaps stay with my sister and George in Mendocino for a few days. Then, my finances willing, spending the next three weeks or so in Italy, or Thailand or on some adventure cruise somewhere. Alas, this needs all too much planning. I hate that. Probably, i’ll just drift and see what happens. Something always does. Didn’t I just go through this a month ago?

Recently, Dick requested an update from the school counselor about HRM’s performance. Amid a generally upbeat report, the counselor mentioned that in a recent History exam on a question to be answered in three paragraphs, the first two paragraphs of HRM’s answer were “positively brilliant” but the third was, “from Mars.” Should we worry?

On Saturday, after almost a month of finding reasons not to do so, some real others make believe, I got it together to exercise again. Even while I sat at the edge of the pool, I still told myself it would be too cold, I was too sick or tired yadda, yadda, yadda and I should simply return home, clutch my hot pad, and put myself back to bed. But, in the end, I dove in and enjoyed myself immensely. I feel good tonight, better than I have felt in a while.

That same night, I had a wonderful dream that seemed to last for hours. In that dream, there was an ancient Roman Ruin located on San Francisco’s shoreline somewhere near Candlestick Point (this is a dream after all). There the Roman Nobility would greet the ships returning from war, their holds full to bursting with treasure. It was decided by the present day city fathers to restore those ruins as another tourist attraction — sort of like Fisherman’s Wharf. To kick everything off, they held a grand party in the ruins prior to restoring them. I assisted in the preparations for the party throughout the day. That night, the rich and the powerful and even the not so rich and powerful arrived dressed in period costumes, togas, chitons and the like. The richest and most powerful men were often old and shriveled with paper thin skin and blue veins pulsing beneath. The women came in all shapes and sizes and were aggressive and bejeweled.

Each room had something different going on — different food, music, dances, conversation, drinks and the like. I visited most of them and enjoyed it, especially the dancing and the music.

During the evening, I noticed there were about five or six people who traveled through those rooms and hallways that had not been fixed up for the party. They clearly were searching for something. One large room was filled with water and they used small boats to search for whatever they were looking for. They appeared to be led by a tall, handsome man dressed in a tuxedo.

Later, after most of the guests had left, I joined them. I never learned what it was they were looking for, but I enjoyed going from room to room with them looking for it. Later, we all sat by a campfire in the corner of a vacant roofless room and talked about lots of things for awhile.

Dawn came. I knew that I would have to wake up soon and rejoin my waking life. I was a bit sad knowing I probably would probably never return.

While I lay in my bed in that grey time between sleep and wakefulness, I wondered if the dreams of our waking life were our reality — whether life was just a long daily slog from the darkness of the womb to the night with no morning or if it was a series of time garbled one night stands that go on changing each night forever.

The week has gone silently by. Looking out the window as I enjoy my afternoon snacks of Oreo cookies dunked in milk, I watch the days zip by like cars on a freeway.

I have given some thought to my spring travels. One half or about 3 weeks I probably will wander about California visiting friends. The other half, when I began to look into it, seemed to depend somewhat on cost.Thailand, Italy, A Caribbean cruise, and Cuba all seem to cost about the same and may be affordable. Only my dream boat trip down the Peruvian Amazon looks as though it is too expensive. I still need to get a new car. Oh well, I guess I will kick the can down the road for another week or so. Maybe something will happen to force a decision or change my options.

The week has trundled by. During my walk around the lakes this morning, I saw the first greening of the trees. It seems to be a bit early for that. I think of the wintertime in the golden hills as the silver time. The naked deciduous trees have a silver cast to them and the often overcast skies are silver also. Late summer is the gold time — golden hills with deep blue skies. Autumn — red, brown and yellow, and spring — virescent and speckled in brazen pastels.

One morning while driving HRM to school, I in my grandfatherly mode mentioned to him that he is now getting big, adult-sized, and that simple physical actions like suddenly spreading his arms wide or rushing through a restaurant that to an adult would seem cute were he a small child, now that he is almost man-sized would make some people frightened and when frightened adults often act angry. I wanted to warn him that now that he is a teenager simple physical actions that may have drew smiles when he was little may cause a different reaction now that he is becoming man-sized. “Stop!” he responded, “I do not want to hear that. I do not want to be a teenager. I do not want to grow up. Why should I want to?” I could not answer that. Sometimes, grandfathers are just old and not too wise.

 

B. RAGGED ROBIN’S NATURE NOTES:

 

End of January means it is time for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – like many of you I’ve been doing this for years and it is always interesting to read on other blogs what people have seen in their gardens.

It was raining heavily on Saturday and there were few birds about so I did my birdwatch yesterday when it was dry and sunny. Our garden faces South making photography (and even watching birds at times!) a bit of a challenge but it did cloud over a bit for the last half hour.

So what did I see?

House Sparrow x 5
Wood Pigeon x 5
Robin x 2 (sometimes we get 3 in the garden and it is amusing to watch the “resident” robin chasing away the other two intruders!
Blackbird x 2
Great Tit x 1
Blue Tit x 3
Dunnock x 3
Goldfinch x 3
Pasted Graphic
Starling x 1
Long-tailed Tit x 2

As many of you have commented several species fail to put in an appearance during the hour – here it was Magpie, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Wren and Coal Tit. The Blackcap we had on the feeders for about two weeks has disappeared but the Ring-necked Parakeets are still visiting – they turned up an hour after the Birdwatch finished.
MONDAY, 29 JANUARY 2018

(JP — It appears that the non-native Parakeets have become as common in the English Midlands as Parrots have on San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. Sometimes, when I used to walk home from my office in Embarcadero Center to my apartment, the parrots would congregate in the trees that grew in the little park I crossed to reach my building. They were a raucous bunch, as noisy as a singles bar on Friday evenings. Perhaps they were mating too.)

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

Karoshi is the Japanese word for “death from overwork.”

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. On Top — Another Florid Sentence by James Lee Burke:

“(O)n Monday I woke with a taste like pennies in my mouth and a sense that my life was unspooling before me, that the world in which I lived was a fabrication, that the charity abiding in the human breast was a collective self-delusion, and that the bestial elements we supposedly exorcised from civilized society were not only still with us but had come to define us, although we sanitized them as drones and offshore missiles marked “occupant” and land mines that killed children decades after they were set.”

Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 393). Simon & Schuster.

 

B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

 

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/01/thinking-about-president-donald-trump.html

A lecture by Brad De long in which he argues that although He Who Is Not My President is undoubtedly a fascist, he is a soft fascist and an incompetent one to boot. “We are not yet in trouble,” he suggests, because, “in other countries that have competent fascists, their democracies have died.” Our’s has not…Yet.

However, in a comment on his post, a student of his takes issue with this:
Professor:

i admire your optimism but I’m afraid the Republic is indeed lost. A full 40% of the population admires Trump and his programs. Moreover, the current system (2 senators per state, electoral college, Citizens United, etc.) gives this population a structural advantage that cannot be overcome. On top of this, you have a conservative media-industrial complex that expertly manipulates popular opinion with manufactured outrage. The white working class in this country always votes against its class interest. Seriously, what mechanism will cause this to change?

I think you are deceiving yourself on the ability of the system to regenerate positive change. The best hope for California is some type of peaceful dissolution from the rest of the US where Cali can be a France on the Pacific and the Deep South becomes South Africa. On the whole, the USA should become an EU-type union.

I just think we are so polarized and the forces causing polarization so powerful that we cannot be put back together again.
JustAnUndergraduate

(JP— Sigh! DeLong overlooks that Hitler’s “incompetents” were eventually purged while his student seems to suggest that had, for example, Saxony withdrawn from Germany in 1932 it would have survived the war. In fact, arguments like these also were made in the 1930s. They encouraged passivity and ultimately were proven to be dreadfully mistaken.)

 

C. Today’s Poem:

The following is not so much a poem as an experiment. I took the James Lee Burke florid sentence I quoted in a previous T&T post and broke it up into one image per line producing something appearing like a poem but lacking the rhythms of most poetry. Still, read slowly and pausing at the end of each line to take in the image, it overall leaves one with the essential compressed imagery of poetry along with two contrasting overriding concepts, one of growth and one of decay, one of nature and one of the works of humanity, one of hope and one of sadness.

Regardless of the time of year
Even in spring
When the petals of the azaleas
Were scattered on the grass
And the sunlight
Was transfused
Into a golden-green presence
Inside the canopy
Of the live oaks

The rooms of the house
Remained cold and damp,
The lichen on the trees
And the flagstones
And birdbaths
And even the tombs
Of the original owners
A testament to the decay
And slow adsorption
Of man’s handiwork
On the earth.
James Lee BURKE

 

D. Snippets from Comments on Prior Posts:

 

1. From Peter

Just finished reading a fascinating book called “The North Pole” by Kathan Brown, another Antioch graduate, and creator and owner of Crown Point Press in SF, around the corner from MOMA – an account of trips she took to the North Pole in 2002 and Spitzbergen in 2003. Includes many great photos she took, and discussions with scientists and others who had made the trip (by Russian icebreaker [tourists in the summer, breaking channel through the winter ice for shipping through the Northeast Passage]) or were/are otherwise interested in the polar regions, and historical references from earlier arctic explorers. Wonderful descriptions of the ice, the stillness, the light, and the comparatively few people who go there (seems only about 14,000 people have ever been up to the far north polar region).

Also some very thoughtful observations on the severe impacts of climate change on the world, especially the far north, and continued bad news if we don’t mend our ways. Apparently, the earth has experienced fluctuations of temperature over time, roughly 100,000-year glacial periods followed by roughly 10,000 year interglacial periods of warmer temperatures. No one knows for sure, but some think the “little ice age” of 1300-1800s may have been the start of a new ice age after 10,000 years of moderate climate, except that human-caused global warming, with greatly increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, began around 1850 and may have interrupted the pattern. So now we’re experiencing warmer temperatures and droughts, with the catastrophic results being mass uproars and migrations from the Mideast (e. g., Syria, and Iran’s mass demonstrations resulting from dried up farmland after several drought years), and chaos about to happen in South Africa with the water shortage, but eventually the glacial cold will return.

 

2. Adrian:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Leisure by W. H. Davies (3 July 1871 – 26 September 1940)

 

E. Xander’s Post

Several years ago I posted a piece about fishing on the Blackfoot River in Montana ( https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/musings-on-the-blackfoot-river-fly-fishing-and-hiawatha/ ). Recently, I came across an interesting Facebook post by Pete Xander about fishing and the environment along California’s southern coast. The following is an excerpt from that much longer piece containing Xander’s musings about fishing on Malibu Creek.
Hook, Line, and Sinker

… Steelhead in Malibu Creek? That’s right. And you thought the only steelhead in Malibu was Nick Nolte after one of his infamous drunken incidents (my mom and I saw him in the supermarket at Pt. Dume one 4th of July, squeezing cantaloupes, and I asked my mom who she thought he was. “Some hung-over beach bum,” she said, all too accurately….

SO, steelhead spawning in Malibu Creek. Absolutely there are. Hell, they used to spawn in rivers in San Diego County, and the rainbow trout that now occur in Pauma Creek on the southwestern shoulder of Palomar Mountain are the last of the original populations, the fires in 2003 having literally boiled away the water in the upper Sweetwater River west of the Laguna Mountains, killing the remaining native trout. The very last one died in a fish tank poorly managed by DFG personnel. …

Regarding Malibu Creek, in the early ‘80s, a biologist with the Department of Fish and Game (now known as the Department of Fish and Wildlife), Dave Drake, took me all throughout the Malibu shoreline, from Topanga Creek (where steelhead still spawn in years of average rainfall) to the Ventura County line, giving me a one-day crash course on the biota of Malibu. Even today there’s a creek I can take you to, where the stream goes under the road and a large pool is formed just before it, where there will be a decent sized steelhead, facing upstream and waiting for food to drift down. The quickest way to ID a steelhead from a rainbow trout is that steelhead have very few spots below the lateral line, while rainbows have spots all over.

So during the crazy El Nino storm season of early 1983, there was a break of several days around the second weekend of February, with a Santa Ana pushing the temperatures into the low 80s. I called my brother down in San Diego and had him come up to fish for the steelhead. The mouth of Malibu Creek was open to the sea, and so I knew steelhead would be in there, on their first spawning run opportunity in three years. But just a little over a mile from the ocean, a dam built in the 1940s — which silted up almost immediately — blocks their access to miles and miles of suitable spawning habitat of the upper Malibu Creek watershed and its major tributaries, Cold Creek and Las Virgenes Creek. The damn dam is scheduled to be taken down but that still has not started yet. The creek was full of first-year fish, bright as a newly minted dime and flashing a pale rose/lavender color and still with a few sea lice attached to their fins. They were far too young to spawn, but they wanted to check things out, a phenomenon previously thought to occur only on the Eel, Klamath, and a couple of other river systems in northern California and southern Oregon, where those yearling steelheads are known as “half-pounders.”

My brother and I caught and released over three dozen steelhead smolts apiece, each of them fat, healthy, and around 9” to 12” each that gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and personnel from DFG were there with avid L.A.area fly fishermen, there to assist DFG in sampling the steelhead population and bolstering the case to protect these critically endangered fish. We used ultralight gear with 2# test line, and Dardevle “Skeeter” spoons, weighing only 1/32 of an ounce, less than an inch long, and with barbs on the hooks crushed flat with needle-nosed pliers, to make it easier to release and less injurious to the fish (which is how I always fish).

After spending the night at my apartment in Long Beach, my brother went back up to Malibu Creek on Sunday. I had staff reports to write and couldn’t go back for another fun day of fishing. When he got back early that evening, I asked how he’d done, and his face grew pale. He had hooked and lost an enormous fish — nearly a yard long and weighing at least 15 pounds. There was no way he should have been able to fight such a large powerful fish with his tiny rod and light line. It has probably just spawned and was exhausted from the effort.

The pool was a long and deep one, with the water up against a steep rock wall on the west side and willows choking the east side. Had the fish gone upstream or downstream, it would’ve popped the line. As it was, my brother had it on for maybe ten minutes, thrashing up and down in that same pool. Exhausted, the fish surfaced and rolled on its side. When my brother reached down to grab the fish by its gill cover, it twisted away from him, and the line popped. He would’ve released it, of course, but it was every bit as large as the fish Dave Drake titillated me with during his telling stories of the fish he’d personally caught (a cleaned one was over 12 pounds).

This steelhead, officially referred to as the southern population or southern race of steelhead, are protected by the Endangered Species Act, and fishing for them is not allowed. The Santa Clara River in Ventura County and Sespe Creek, a major tributary, have good populations of steelhead (though only a small fraction of the historic levels), and the San Luis Rey River in northern San Diego County, with its tributary stream, the aforementioned Pauma Creek, can have a good population . . . IF alterations to the stream course and water withdrawals for agriculture don’t fill it in and desiccate it beyond sustainability….

Will I ever live to see a catch-and-release sport fishery for steelhead in southern California? I sure hope so. From just one action on my part in the early ‘80s, when I was on the staff of the Coastal Commission, I was able to keep the southern steelhead from extinction. It was for the expansion of the Tapia Water Treatment Plant in upper Malibu Creek. Although the service area is all outside the Coastal Zone, the plant itself is inside and subject to our jurisdiction, and so they needed our approval to expand to 8 million gallons of treated effluent to be discharged into the creek. I placed conditions of approval on it, requiring they upgrade to tertiary treatment and to discharge all of the treated water into

Malibu Creek. “Well . . . that’s what we want to do,” said one slightly perplexed engineer. I explained that I didn’t want it sold off to water the landscaping on Hwy. 101 — I wanted it all discharged into Malibu Creek. The upgrade to tertiary is what they as professionals wanted, but they knew their board of directors would never approve of it. But jeez — with that mean guy at the Coastal Commission FORCING them to upgrade, well, they had no choice. And with a wink and a nod, our meeting finished to the satisfaction of all of us.

Turns out that throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s, extended droughts dried up all of the streams in southern California, except for Malibu Creek, with its augmented flow keeping the stream and its inhabitants alive. Malibu Creek was the only supply of water for spawning, and while its spawning habitat is extremely limited, it kept the fish from becoming extinct. If I never did anything else noteworthy in my life, I’ll always be proud of keeping a magnificent species of sport fish alive through my actions. I was the right person, at the right place and at the right time to affect positive change, and I’ll wear that as an honor badge, and with pride, for as long as I live.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:
abstraction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_4010
A Path Through the Redwoods

 

 

Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. March 28, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOID:

a. 10,000 BC The Middle East domesticates goats (they later domesticate sheep).

(And the jokes have not ended yet.)

b. 2010 General Electric managed the remarkable task of paying absolutely no taxes on US profits of $5.1 billion.

(37 companies like Citigroup and AIG that received more in tax credits than they paid.)

c. 2006 Jackson Pollock’s 1948 painting entitled No. 5 sold for $140 million (Inflation-adjusted value: $151.8 million).

(Not a bad wage for spilling a can of paint.)

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. There was a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in northern Burma just across the border from Thailand. There was some damage to buildings in the area. As usual after events of this kind there are calls for strengthening the building code. Developers claim current codes are adequate (even though buildings did fall down). As far as I know Thailand has no significant zoning codes or planning laws. I am not sure if it has a building code or has code enforcement capability.

b. Apparently here has been a military reshuffle that has consolidated the power of the dominant “Tigers of the East” faction. This faction spearheaded the suppression of the Red Shirt protest.

c. Thailand has purchased 200 tanks (yes 200) from the Ukraine (yes the Ukraine). Many of the troops are unhappy with the purchase preferring a South Korean model over the Ukrainian. Apparently the Ukrainian model has to stop moving to reload.
(What foreign enemy does Thailand require 200 new tanks to repel? Stops to reload!!!)

d. A recent report in the Bangkok Post raises fears that a potential victory by the opposition party could lead to replacement of the current army chief (protegé of the leader of the military coup that toppled previous democratically elected regime) resulting in another coup attempt.

e. Fake Buddhist monks (usually foreigners) are becoming a problem in Thailand. It appears that these fake monks are wandering the streets of the country alms-collecting after 10 AM, the time the local monks end their activity and return to the temple precincts.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am writing this from Paradise by the Sea where I have been residing the past four days. I will probably return to Bangkok today and post this from there.It is still overcast and both the sky and the waters of the bay are a shimmering grey with almost no discernible horizon. The only colors are provided by the beach umbrellas and the flags fluttering from the fishing boats as the chug out to lay their nets in the bay.

I have done little since I have been here except enjoy the solitude and the break from parenting.

Of course Hayden’s impending departure is sad for me. I have the option of returning to the US with him and SWAC in early May. I may consider it since I have to arrange for my operation during May or June anyway.

SWAC is now contemplating sending him to boarding school in a year or so. For a young boy whose separation anxiety has become almost pathological, such a course of action seems incomprehensible to me. On the other hand he is now getting to that age where whatever trauma he has suffered begins to become hard-wired into his personality. Here may be a boy growing up too quickly being forced to face down life. What was once and endearing little boy suffering under the vagaries of adult insensitivity, within a year or two may congeal into the personality of an uncontrollable brat, making such drastic solutions the only options for such inept parenting. On the other hand, and there is always another hand, maybe not.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

Chapter 15:

The next sensation Vince had was of a strong hand pulling him up by his arm followed by blinding pain in his head. Slowly his vision cleared and he saw that it was Isabella pulling him upright with one hand. In her other she grasped a gun. As he gained his feet and leaned into her for support and the world continued to spin about he noticed a body lying in its back on the sidewalk bleeding profusely from its nose and mouth and gasping for breath.

“Whaa..” he got out of his mouth slowly before feeling her push him toward the car.

“Quick,” she said, “lean on me.”

As he turned for support he glimpsed what appeared to be the other assailant limping away around the corner.

“Give me your keys,” she demanded when the reached the car. She took the keys unlocked the doors and helped him into the passenger seat,got into the driver’s side, threw the gun into the back seat, started the car and squealed off down the street in the opposite direction from which the other attacker fled.

“Where are we going?” he asked, grabbing the back of his head and pressing on it in a futile attempt to stop the pain.

“To the hospital to have you checked out, you may have a concussion.”

“No, no,” he said. “Lets go somewhere I can walk around for a while. I am sure I will be all-right.”

So she drove them to Noe Valley, a fully gentrified San Francisco neighborhood. A one time working class ghetto, than artist hangout in the sixties and seventies, followed by an influx of yuppies flush with money from dot-com startups seeking a picturesque community in which to set down roots and drive up property values which they did with a vengeance until at one time property values were the third highest neighborhood in the City. With the collapse of the dot-com bubble, those who had not already cashed out of their inflated properties were trapped by their mortgages just like the working class families of a generation or so ago.

She parked about a block off the main commercial drag, 24th St, of the neighborhood and after walking about for about an hour or so they found themselves sitting in one of the overabundant coffee shops that sting up in neighborhoods like this like crab-grass in a suburban lawn.

“What happened back there?” Vince asked.

She stared at him for a moment with that placid look she affects. “You were very brave. You stepped in from of me and threw a punch into the face of that guy. He fell down and dropped his gun.”

“Why did I fall?”

“You probably swung so hard you tripped”

Later after driving him to his apartment and parking in the parking lot, she said,“I have to be going. I’ll take a taxi.”

“Won’t you come up? I may need medical assistance during the night.”

She laughed. “I am sure you will be all-right. I will call tomorrow,” and walked off.

He now stood in his bathroom the following morning, swallowing a handful of Tylenol to kill the pain. He stared in the mirror and began to have an uncomfortable feeling. At first he thought is was chagrin at his failure to appear attractive enough to he for her to accept his clumsy invitation to spend the night. No, although that was hard enough to deal with, it is something else he thought. Then he looked at his hands…

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Collins:

` “…[N]ilism is a male disease of the soul, because we are not bearers of life. Men do not carry hope the way women do.”

b. Pookie’s Epistle on Economics:

THE PROBLEM WITH ECONOMICS TODAY-

My underlying criticism of economics today is what it leaves out and not what it includes. Among the many things left out in its idealized systems is that in the real world markets are manipulative. The basic drive to avoid competition by gaming and controlling either supply demand or the markets themselves appear to be either downplayed or ignored by resorting to the myth of the “invisible hand.”
.
Let me begin by repeating the insightful quote by HM Keynes:

“Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.”

I think we all for the most part agree with his observation. I would, however, substitute Classical (or Neoclassical) Economic Theory for capitalism. It appears most economic theory essentially ignores the reality that these nasty men won’t work for the benefit of all of us and perhaps more importantly some of them will unduly effect the course of economic events affecting the rest of us in a negative way. Many economists appear to approach this problem in one or more of the following ways:

1. They wring their hands and call for political intervention (Keynesians, etc.).
2. They ignore it claiming it could never happen (Neoclassical economists).
3. They consider it an externality along with the host of other externalities that are outside of the scope of their discipline (All).
4. They think it is a good thing (Neoclassical again and others).

To some extent they are all right that this and other supposed defects are external to the discipline. Such things like ethics, fraud and the commons and so on are beyond the tools of their profession. Looked at another way however, these so-called “externalities” represent almost everything that is important and necessary in life and in society. Nevertheless, these panjandrums of industry, academia and government are asked to advise us and even to act on our behalf on such things as jobs, education, food supplies and even our national interest all of which are fundamentally determined by ethics, fraud, the commons and a host of other so-called externalities. Unless these externalities, especially the thirst for power, are brought into a sociological system, the discipline will remain both defective and dangerous.

A recent article in WIRED discusses the seemingly inevitable domination of goods and serves by the uncontrolled few and examines its genesis.

“It is the cycle of capitalism. The story of industrial revolutions, after all, is a story of battles over control. A technology is invented, it spreads, a thousand flowers bloom, and then someone finds a way to own it, locking out others. It happens every time.

Take railroads. Uniform and open gauge standards helped the industry boom and created an explosion of competitors — in 1920, there were 186 major railroads in the US. But eventually the strongest of them rolled up the others, and today there are just seven — a regulated oligopoly. Or telephones. The invention of the switchboard was another open standard that allowed networks to interconnect. After telephone patents held by AT&T’s parent company expired in 1894, more than 6,000 independent phone companies sprouted up. But by 1939, AT&T controlled nearly all of the US’s long-distance lines and some four-fifths of its telephones. Or electricity. In the early 1900s, after the standardization to alternating current distribution, hundreds of small electric utilities were consolidated into huge holding companies. By the late 1920s, the 16 largest of those commanded more than 75 percent of the electricity generated in the US.

Indeed, there has hardly ever been a fortune created without a monopoly of some sort, or at least an oligopoly. This is the natural path of industrialization: invention, propagation, adoption, control.

Now it’s the Web’s turn to face the pressure for profits and the walled gardens that bring them. Openness is a wonderful thing in the non monetary economy of peer production. But eventually our tolerance for the delirious chaos of infinite competition finds its limits. Much as we love freedom and choice, we also love things that just work, reliably and seamlessly. And if we have to pay for what we love, well, that increasingly seems OK. Have you looked at your cell phone or cable bill lately?”

And the writer identifies a rule that describes this tendency to control over the so-called market by individuals or a small groups:

“Monopolies are actually even more likely in highly networked markets like the online world. The dark side of network effects is that rich nodes get richer. Metcalfe’s law, which states that the value of a network increases in proportion to the square of connections, creates winner-take-all markets, where the gap between the number one and number two players is typically large and growing.”

To me it seems that this dolorous progression; invention, propagation, adoption and control — and some version of Metcalfe’s law are vital to a valid description of the economic process. But, in the public debates and analysis of economists on the current state of our society, I rarely observe any recognition that this problem even exists.

The great historian Fernand Braudel pointed out that a “capitalist” does not participate willingly in markets or specialize but instead he searches the world to find whatever it is that would give him control over supply. In other words the last thing they want is competition.

Perhaps instead of capitalist (which like the word Capitalism) has become defined more by emotion, politics and private interest than any referent , we should call them by the name coined by Buckminster Fuller, “The Great Pirates”.

Although individuals may open shops and small businesses as alternatives to working for someone else, the Great Pirates enter into an enterprise only if in fact there is sizable unmet demand that can be easily controllable, or they perceive the potential for controlling the supply of some good or service. No other purpose makes any sense. To the Great Pirates competition is anathema.

Nor do the Great Pirates plan much beyond the next quarter or to counter immediate perceived threats to their own income and wealth. Nothing else appears to be of particular significance to them except to game whatever system is available for their own benefit (They hire consultants, economists, accountants and attorneys for everything else). As Stephen Herrington put it:

“I’ve never met anyone that was that smart and that ruthless at the same time. Maybe I’ve just not met the man in charge. Bernie Madoff was not that smart, only ruthless. He, like our global finance system, adapted to conditions as they presented themselves. He had no plan other than the next paycheck… Madoff gamed the low-interest rates arising from government policy of monetary easing necessitated by tax cuts. He promised higher returns and security where banks and stocks could not. He created a Ponzi scheme not too dissimilar too what global finance undertakes internationally right now. Global finance is loaning, secured by nation/state assets, on assets that will eventually run out and leave the countries loaned to in default and the banks failing because of defaults. They, like Madoff, do not have a plan.

Global finance now preys on government’s obligations to meet the needs of people. They loan and government pays, never quite reaching the horizon in which the returns on Keynesian investments in national economies pays off. This has become a global socioeconomic hamster treadmill in which no one benefits except the brokers. Eventually the global economic decline this predicts will affect bankers too. They just refuse to see it coming, like Madoff.”

The Huffington Post, May 13, 2010

These Great Pirates individually or in concert exert a significant influence in the creation of distortions of the so-called market. Failure to account for their influence as sooner or later a given in every market is a core defect in economic theory and if it is treated at all it is treated as an anomaly or dismissed as impossible.

Exacerbating this problem with market capture or dominance is that we are also currently experiencing a fundamental shift in the nature of the institutions that provide the vehicle for this. Corporations were originally created by government for a specific manufacturing or trading venture or task intended to benefit the state. Because often the uncertainty was so high and the potential size of the loss so great, the then existing debtor laws placed the investor’s estate at risk for confiscation on account of the debts occasioned by the potential failure of the enterprise, therefore it was necessary for the state to protect the investors estate in order to encourage investment in these ventures. After a certain amount of time estimated to be required to achieve the goals of the venture, they were supposed to go out of existence and the market system returned with all its risks intact.

This governmental intrusion (the creation of corporate institutions exempt from individual responsibility) into the supposed normal workings of the market for a public purpose, has over the centuries evolved first into exempting them from any time limit on the existence of the enterprise except organizational suicide or bankruptcy. The latter in most cases merely being a reorganization of their immortality.

Currently, this public exemption from the basic risks upon which the entire edifice of classical economics is founded has progressed to where these publicly chartered entities appear to be successfully grasping for the right to be treated as individual citizens under the Constitution but with fewer, if any, duties (including paying taxes should the corporate tax structure be shifted onto a consumption tax as these entities clearly desire).

Nor are they required to adhere to any standard of patriotism other than that needed to sell their products. (When has a corporation gone to war like the citizen solider is required to do?) As one of our founding fathers put it:

Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains. Thomas Jefferson

As an aside, if the so-called bond market vigilantes as so dead set on threatening the government by raising their bond ratings if their income from prior bonds purchased by government are put at risk, shouldn’t they be considered to be traitors or terrorists. The kings of old were willing to throw a few of them in jail whenever they attempted that brand of extortion.

Perhaps one of the most fundamental concepts imbedded in the United States Constitution is the objection to and prohibition of the establishment of hereditary nobility controlling the resources and power of the nation. After 200 years or so the corporate entities created by we the people for a limited and comprehensible reason, now stand on the threshold of something the nobles of old could only dream about, immortal control of wealth and power.

Add to this creep to an enduring aristocracy of the corporate elite is the evidence that these same entities originally created by us but now almost laws onto themselves have begun to take over (as did the nobles of old) the very functions of government that here in the United States were reserved by our Constitution to we the people.

Corporate officials and employees are involved in all aspects of governing and negotiating “over policy making, implementation, and enforcement,” as one legal scholar has noted.

Yet contractors’ imperatives are not necessarily the same as the government’s imperatives. Contractor companies are responsible for making a profit for their shareholders; government is supposedly answerable to the public and the nation in a democracy.

Amid this environment complicated by mixed motives, new institutional forms of governing have gathered force as government and contractor officials interact (or don’t) in the course of projects; as chains of command among contractors and the agencies they supposedly work for have become ever-more convoluted; as contractors perform inherently governmental functions beyond the capacity of government to manage them; and, as contractors standing in for government are not subject to the same rules that apply to government officials. Wedel and Keenan, Shadow Elite The Huffington Post, August 26, 2010.

One cannot have a market system where major players in the market are exempt for the risks inherent in the concept. Instead of focussing on returning capital to the rules of the market, the elite seek the Economists as their mouthpieces who dutifully obsess with other thing things like breaking up community land holdings in order to bring them into the market (See DeSoto______)

Despite the obviousness of it all and irrespective of the fact that these entities (The Great Pirates and the Multi-national Corporations) are major players on the economic stage and have garnered to themselves the power and ability to destroy and enslave whole societies, should the worst occur, the economic consultant community I expect, once again, will claim they could not have seen it coming.

Make no mistake about it, this is not Capitalism. Marx was wrong. He did not comprehend the sociology or psychology of it all. This lust for wealth, power and control is fundamental to humanity and the various so-called economic systems (Capitalism, Feudalism, Mercantilism, yes and even Socialism and Communism) are merely the mechanism used to assure that the fruits of society are reserved for its most socially irresponsible members. Fraud is endemic to all these systems and yet mostly ignored in their intellectual underpinnings.

As a result of this, the basic concepts of supply and demand are ephemeral at best since both are almost infinitely manipulate (e.g., advertising manipulates demand and monopolization manipulates supply).

Another thing missing in most economic discussions that I have read or listened to, is the impact of transition costs (fees, etc.)inherent in a market as well as the independent entities (brokers, etc) managing the transactions in distorting the ephemeral efficient market (ultimately it is the parasite who usually does the best).

While many astute and responsible people call for a paradigm shift in the essential bases of economics (such as Krugman [New York Times September 2, 2009]) they must be approached with caution since they themselves are practitioners of that very discipline that has been found so wanting.

In Science a physical theory that is logically consistent may be considered to be the truth only until it is falsified. Once falsified the theory looses its status and should be thrown away. The Economists wish their discipline to be considered the next best thing to a hard Science but they seem unable accept their theories may be added to the trash heap of history. Not only is it lacking in its central concepts but almost without exception its practitioners work for the very interests that seek to preserve their hard-won ascendency. You would be considered a fool to believe an attorney retained by his opponent when he tells him that is looking out for your best interests. Why then do we believe the economists?

It we must choose a discipline with which to begin a reformation of this world view, I would much prefer sociology at least there the pretense of a panglossian world is muted. It also does not look back to a founding prophet (Adam Smith) from which all deviations can be described as evolution of the essential truth (whether or not referred to as paradigm shifts). That is a religion and not a science.

What I think is required now is to begin with the basic concept of the society that we wish to live in and the social science we call Economics today should be developed as a mechanism to describe how to get there, that is if we the people hire them before they go to work for those who would prefer we not get there at all.

c. Today’s chart:

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.”

~Alfred E. Wiggam

Categories: January 2011 through March 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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