Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tom Paxton Is At It Again!

I'm Changing My Name to Fannie Mae

And here's Arlo Guthrie singing 'I'm Changing My Name To Chrysler". It's the first version of Tom Paxton's bailout series... :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

McCain Continues To Protect Osama Bin Laden

Remember back on the campaign trail when McCain told us that he knew exactly how to catch Osama Bin Laden? I know it seems like a long time ago, when he made that promise. Most Americans have probably forgotten it.

But Osama Bin Laden is supposedly still at large. McCain has the secret to catching him, but continues to obstruct justice, while aiding and abetting terrorism.

McCain when will you come clean and tell the appropriate authorities that secrets that are keeping Osama Bin Laden safe.

Now it could be that you're mad at America for not electing you President. And out of revenge, you're protecting the terrorists so that they can attack again.

Please McCain, stop protecting Osama Bin Laden. Give him up. Don't be a terrorist and an enemy combatant. Be a patriot. Don't let the price of your arrogance, come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Rambles

Some folks I care about, are still taking losses in the market. Now they look at me with pained looks when I repeat myself and say it's just going to keep getting worse.

It's heartbreaking to see people that I care about cling to their traditional economics education, and their unwavering faith in the market fairy tales.

They worked hard. They played by the rules. They made prudent decisions when things were good, and they profited by it. But they can't yet bring themselves to believe that the game has changed and that they must change with it.

My retired friends are cutting back on trips, renovations, and eating out as their stock devalues and their monthly income shrinks.

I have no good advice, and on occasion I've been asked. There are no good answers. The best I can come up with is, get your debts paid. Sell your stock before it's worth nothing and put it into distressed real estate.

But for those too old to maintain real estate, the options are fewer. Do they buy gold and silver? If they do, will they eventually just get robbed of that, one way or another?

I think it's very likely that by the end of the year, we'll see losses in the stock market that go past 80%. the only way that I feel we won't see this is if we start seeing hyperinflation in prices. Then the market can rise with the price of gasoline. Mike over at Mike's Neighborhood, has written a good piece explaining why price hyperinflation may well be on it's way.

The last time I drove through Plano Texas, I saw a man around retirement age on the side of a busy street. He was wearing a suit and tie, and looked like he'd driven a desk for decades. He was hold a sign that read, "I need a job. Please!"

I fear that for my area, this is just the beginning.

And Plano is one of those places that Kuntsler would deem a misallocation of resources. It used to the be a farming community. When I was a younger man, I'd ride my Trek bicycle up that way on on weekends, taking all day to meander the countryside, visiting a different Dairy Queen in a different tiny town on each trip.

At that time, Plano consisted of a small town downtown, surrounded by farms and ranches. In the spring, the fence rows were abloom with wildflowers. I catch a glimpse of deer, wolves, coyotes, wild turkeys, jack rabbits and other wildlife, as sped along on my quiet metal steed.

Fast forward to today. Plano is a jungle of concrete, wide fast roads, shopping centers and suburbs full of expensive looking homes, with barely a strip of green separating one slab of concrete from another. All of the small towns in the area have undergone a similar transformation.

Now I don't hate suburbs as much as Kuntsler does. I live in one. But mine is old school. The folks that built mine, still believed in yards, in gardening and in having a little patch of green, with the power to restore our sanity after being cooped up in a factory or office cage all day. My neighborhood could actually go semi-agricultural and produce enough food to make a dent in imports from out of town. But in in the newer suburbs like Plano, houses would have to be torn out, and foundations ripped up, to make room for green spaces and gardens. And that will happen. But between now and then, there will be a lot of pain.

Already in many cities, Guerilla Gardening is taking off. In Detroit and Akron, vacant lots are being converted by neighbors into vegetable gardens. With the economy so depressed, when a house burns down, the lot stands vacant for years. I'm sure that many of the arrangements are consensual, but others, may well be on the sly.

Take a look at Google Earth, and look at some of our major cities to see how they are being transformed from industrial sites, back to the their small town roots, as their economies worsen. Look at Detroit and you will be amazed how many lots have greened over.

Change is coming. Some bad, some good. What will your place be in this?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guilt And Anger

Over on The Automatic Earth, StoneLeigh and Ilargi have poted some excellent food for thought. And kicked off a discussion that definitely got me involved. I'm very tempted to just keep commenting and commenting, but I think It's best if I don't start becoming an annoyance there.

The discussion that got me going, was on the Wall Street folks that are now on the public dole, feeling entitled to huge bonuses. Stoneleigh made the argument that we shouldn't get angry at them, as we've enjoyed the same sense of entitlements, and the third world looks at us the same way.

I took this as an appeal to be motivated by feelings of guilt. A strategy that boils my blood. I do not believe in original sin, or any variant thereof. I believe we are responsible for our own actions, not the action of people we have no power over or influence over.

I misunderstood the point I think. As I made the argument that I didn't intentionally commit crimes to gain my booty, and destroy the livelihood of others. Nor have I done this to repress folks in third world countries.

This argument evolved into a couple of clarifications for me. the point was made that anger is not constructive.

I made an argument on this point, and I still think it's valid. If we as a people did get angrier faster, at misdeeds committed in our name, we wouldn't be here today, in this particular pickle. We wouldn't have had the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Iran Contra Affair, Sandinistas, the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, and on and on. Righteous anger, in my view can be constructive.

Vicky made a Zen point that my anger isn't actually constructive, because it only hurts me. She calls it obsessive. I concede the point on the level that I believe that she intends it. But once again, if none us got angry, we'd have already been ground into the dirt as slaves, long ago. Slave revolts are driven by anger. Without it, they never happen. Slavery spreads, with no one to fight it.

Our ruling class polls us frequently. They keep a gauge on the public anger, and try not to get us so angry, that we won't let them steal from us any longer. Our anger is manipulated.

And Stoneleigh addressed this point. Collective anger can be channeled to drive horrible deeds. Anger fueled the Nazi Party into power for instance. But this is an incoherent anger. And even as I'm reminded of how that went, I also remember the French Revolution, and even though it was horrible and bloody incident, it was also cathartic, and the French were better off after it occurred. It taught the rulers that the public does have limits.

I worry though that the Nazi example may be the one the USA will follow. Like the Germans, we have strongly divisive party politics, working to drive a party furor. In our national consciousness, the enemy isn't the collective ruling class, it's that other party. The enemies are our friends and neighbors that worship the wrong rulers.

I think that Vicky and the others that responded, feel I'm too angry and as Vicky put it, obsessive. But when I'm working in my garden, playing guitar or engaged in any other activity, I forget politics for a time. My anger subsides. I think that what upset me most about this line of argument though, is that I fear that it leads to apathy. If don't get angry about injustices, then there is no opposing force to counter a continuation of these policies.

An anonymous commentator reminded me of a point that makes me angry every time it comes up.

Obama tells us that we can't prosecute the criminals, because we're all guilty to some degree. Only the sinless have the right to apprehend criminals, charge them, judge them and sentence them. As no one is without sin, no one has the right to interfere with criminals and their criminal activities. When I first read Stoneleigh's comments, this is exactly what I thought she meant. Though I understood she was channeling Obama's seemingly wise words without considering what he meant when he said them.

To lose my anger, I'd have to give up my love for my country. I'd have to quit caring. I'd have to become one of those that I vent my anger at. I don't think that I can be that person.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

FerFal's Book Is Out!

Surviving the Economic Collapse: A Modern Survival Manual

Be sure and visit the Discussion Page for the book.

I've already ordered my copy.

Our Economic Evolution Continues

See the following article:
Goldman reports $1.8 billion profit.
The big investment firm also sets plans to sell $5 billion in stock, paving the way for it to repay its TARP loans.

This sounds great doesn't it!

Goldman Sachs is solvent again! It earned 1.8 billion this quarter!

Except that it didn't. It received more bailout money. That's where the $1.8 billion came from. It was a gift from you and I. And now that it's stock is up, it's going to ride the bubble and cash out while the getting is good.

And where is this stock coming from? Are they issuing new stock? Splitting? Selling off a percentage of their ownership? I doubt it, though I don't know the answer as a fact.

But I'll be happy to speculate. A few months ago, the US Gov (Paulson) paid $10 billion for preferred shares that had a market value of $2.5 billion.

Then later the gov, so that GS wouldn't have to pay dividends, traded them for common stock at over $7.00 share, when the street price was under $3.50 a share. A few days later GS was a penny stock.

So I can't help but wonder, did Paulson just give the shares back to GS? I think this is a logical outcome of his crappy investment plan.

And what does this have to do with evolution in the economic system? Well it's survival of the fittest in action. The fittest banks, get regular gifts from the government. They don't just work in the marketplace, but they also compete and win at the government trough. Being a Corporate Welfare Queen Whore, pays big. It gives you the power to crush the competition. Especially when the competition doesn't get Sugar Daddy handouts from Uncle Sam.

Investors have caught on. They see that long term survival for a corporation is contingent on regular gifts of free money from the government. Corporations not receiving bailouts, are likely to be squeezed out and go under.

The marketplace is evolving to one in which, regular stimulus payments from the government, is a normal part of doing business. The bailouts are becoming an institutionalized part of our government. Soon it will have a firmly entrenched bureaucracy and will have a very serious name. All of the very important people will agree that this is very necessary and very modern.

I believe that this in inevitable because, the market fundamentals don't suggest a rosy outlook for Goldman Sachs. They and others like them are too big for the planet to support with just normal business. They need for the Ponzi Scheme to continue, to stay afloat. the only way to do this, is for the U Government to become the next bubble and fuel the Ponzi Scheme directly, using taxpayer funds.

I have no doubt that GS will repay the TARP funds. Uncle Sam will give them the money to cover that debt. Uncle Same will keep giving them money to buy good publicity with.

And check this article out:
Uncle Sam won't make ends meet
The IRS will bring in a lot of cash this week, but not nearly enough to foot the government's bill this year.

Government spending grew 33% over the last year and tax receipts are way down.

The article says that spend is projected to be 3.5 trillion this year.

Spending growth at 33% implies a near doubling rate of two years. Let's see how spending will look if it continues at this pace for a few years.

Spending per year in trillions of dollars
2009 $3.5
2010 $4.7
2011 $6.2
2012 $8.2
2013 $11.0
2014 $14.6
2015 $19.4
2016 $25.8
2017 $34.3
2018 $45.6
2019 $60.6
2020 $80.6
2021 $107.2
2022 $142.6
2023 $189.7
2024 $252.3
2025 $335.5
2026 $446.2
2027 $593.5
2028 $789.3
2039 $1049.8 Over One Quadrillion Dollars!

How many of you expect to, or hope to live that long?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Major Banks Accidently Smuggle WMD Materials!

h/t Market Ticker

See the following:

Iranian nuke plot vaporized in the city: NY banks unwittingly aided in material transfers, says DA


Chinese financier Le Fang Wei indicted in plot to send nuclear materials to Iran

Just to summarize, the following banks, , Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Wachovia Bank/Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Standard Charter Bank and Lloyd's of London, accidentally smuggled the following to Iran:

* 33,000 pounds of a specialized aluminum alloy used almost exclusively in long-range missile production.
* 66,000 pounds of tungsten copper plate, which is used in missile guidance systems.
* 53,900 pounds of maraging steel rods, a superhard metal used in uranium enrichment and to make the casings for nuclear bombs.

Now, I didn't realize that these corporations doubled as shipping companies. I wonder what else they ship, and to whom? Is there a 1-800 number, a drug warlord can call to get a few thousand pounds of heroin moved? Will a friendly voice from India walk you through the process with a smile in her voice?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Protection Sport Association

A friend recently directed me to a dog sport I hadn't heard of, that enjoys quite a bit of support in local communities. It turns out that in my area, two different clubs compete for members.

The sport is called PSA for Protection Sport Association.

The club I will be checking out on Monday is Texas Protection Sports.

I went to a meet last Monday with their rival club and liked what I saw. The dogs enjoyed the exercises. None were mistreated. For the dogs it was a game, and they loved participating. In one exercise, a woman put her bull terrier into a car and told him to stay. She went around to the back where she was 'accosted' by a member wearing a protective suit. Her dog answered her cries and came around, and attacked her attacker. When she got free, she called him off a single word and he let go and sat at her feet. The dog thoroughly enjoyed this 'game'.

Now the important aspect of this training isn't to teach a dog to defend you. Most dogs will come to a family member's defense if the need arises. What it does teach the dog, is how to recognize actual dangerous situations, react appropriately, and obey the owner's commands.

Being able to call a dog off, is as important as having a dog defend you. You don't want the dog harming someone, because of a misunderstanding or a joke, and you don't want your dog killed, because it can't be stopped in a fight.


Paul from TPS sent me this correction:
Hello Jack, I got the link to this in your email. Hope you don't mind me posting this. You are a very talented writer and I am glad you enjoyed your visit to Khoi's club. If I may, make one correction though. They aren't our rival club and we don't compete for members. We are friends and this week our two clubs trained together to get ready for our trial. They are a great bunch over there and enjoy having them out. I know you didn't mean any harm by it, I just didn't want the wrong message being sent. Take care and maybe we'll see you on the field soon.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

De-Regulated Capitalism

We have arrived! The conservatives have won their de-regulation battle. We now have at the top levels, a completed De-Regulated government and a De-Regulated Banking System.

There are no longer any rules, or laws, to limit what they do.

They are free to pursue capitalism in any manner they choose. No action is out of bounds in the pursuit of profits.

So we have devolved to outright theft. Stealing, without fear of justice or recrimination, can return a 100% profit. And the De-Regulated Banks are doing just that. They are now stealing our money.

And no one can stop them. Our government is aiding and abetting these crimes. They are helping the banks steal trillions of dollars from us. And no one can stop them.

The White House and Congress no longer have laws or constitutional restrictions constraining their actions. They are De-Regulated. After all, who's gonna tell them what they can and can't do? The top law enforcement officials are standing idly by, napping on the porch of the sheriff's office, as the bankers go on a looting spree.

Our Justice Department doesn't legislate from the bench thank goodness, nor do they bother to uphold and defend the US Constitution. They don't like it, they don't care for it. They collect checks and laugh at us, for demanding justice. Justice isn't just blind, it's in a coma.

This is what De-Regulation looks like. Make no mistake. With no rules, the bankers just loot what they want. They smash and grab.

With no rules, no laws, no Constitution guiding their behavior, the White House Gang are also just smashing and grabbing what they want. Now the White House Gang are in control and defacto owners of the automakers. What will they do with their new toys? Obama says that the government model of spending more money than you can steal or borrow, printing what you can't get from others, is the best example of how to run a business. That's what the banks are doing. But when GM tries it, Obama steals the whole corporation for himself and his buddies.

This is another great example of De-Regulated Capitalism. If you don't like what someone is doing with their business. Just steal it, and do with it as you please.

The final outcome of De-Regulated Capitalism is that a handful of corporations will hold a complete monopoly on all business in the US. They will destroy all smaller competitors (by theft and murder), and they will rule the government.

Over on the Market Ticker, I got into a heated discussion on this topic. I pointed out that Al Capone ran a De-Regulated Business. Folks pointed out that the tax man got him, or laughed at the idea that he was De-Regulated, or that stealing can be considered a business model. I was a bit surprised that so many folks didn't understand that organized crime is a business and uses business models. they buy and sell, extort, eliminate competition, engage in marketing wars, provide services, or withhold service, etc... all to chase profits.

Al Capone's business was Un-Regulated in the sense that he ran his business as he chose. Elliot Ness never dictated to Al Capone, what he should or should not do. Al Capone committed crimes daily as a part of his regular business operations. To argue that this is false, because Al Capone was removed from power by the tax man, is akin to arguing that Automakers don't run a business because Wagoner was removed from power by the US President. Wagoner and Al Capone both, did run businesses.

Now that the US Banking model is free from all regulations, they are free to conduct business in any manner they choose. In Argentina, politicians, community organizers, etc... that tried to stop them, had horrible crimes committed against them or their families. They will be forced to do the same thing in the USA, in order to keep their power. And power is all you need in a De-Regulated Economy. Whomever can wield this power most brutally and successfully, will get all of the money.

Congratulations you dyed in the wool conservatives. You got your dream. Complete De-Regulation. No Laws, No Rules, no US Constitution. It's simply survival of the fittest predator.

I hope we can survive this.

And let me reiterate, I do not believe in political parties. I recognize that they exist, but I do not have a religious faith in them. They exist solely to divide us as a people. So long as we're divided by parties, and fighting each other, they'll keep stealing from us. Republicans call me a liberal and Democrats call me a conservative. I truly am a man with no party. All I care about at this time is restoring the Rule of Law, based on Constitutional Principles, to the US Government. But I realize that this may not happen in my lifetime. I am after all 46 years old. I won't live forever. If we never do this one thing, then nothing else matters. So long as there are no laws constraining the actions of those who rule, then our interests can never be served. No other victory can be gained in our favor.

Far right Republicans, worked hard to make the US Government immune to the constraints of the US Constitution. They fought long and hard to insure that the President, could break any law, commit any crime with impunity. Because an all powerful president, would make them feel safer. And Obama is clearly not giving up the power that the Republicans granted to the office he now holds. Nor will the next President. True Red Republicans worked to make sure that Obama will have the power to ignore the law and the Constitution. I hope they are pleased with themselves.

We have become a nation, completely in service to Mammon. And in the purest sense of the word, it's not only the worship of money, but the worship of power. Our top banks and our top levels of government, now have complete power. They can do anything they want, commit any crime, openly, with no fear of repercussions. Under eight years of Bush II, the Rule of Law was finally, utterly, dismantled. And here we are today, living with that legacy.

Good luck folks. Keep your heads down. Protect your families. As I've said before, the system will need scapegoats. Try not to be one. People love you, they don't need you to be disappeared.