Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cleaning up after the Trolls

A new Troll came through today, so I got out the shovel and wheelbarrow and waded in:

"The more the govt. taxes, the more it spends. ... starve the out of control beast." on We are warm blooded, we are legion Except that the Federal Government is the smallest its been since 1952. The Billionaires want it small enough that they can kill it, then they will be the government, and the peasants will learn what the lash can teach them.

"'China graduates twice as many engineering students every year as we do.' So why does China steal our technology if this is true?" on The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them No capitalist re-invents the wheel, or develops technology that he can steal from its rightful owner. You righties would call him a fool to do otherwise.

"Hoping the fiscal cliff starts on Jan. 1 .. have lots of cash to buy as others panic and run for the hills. .. Repeat of 2008-09, ... buy low, sell high." on The fiscal gentle slope Only a rightwinger would wish for catastrophe as a business opportunity. This dovetails with their belief that creating more poor people will benefit them. The only possibility of their being another 'bank panic' as in 2008 (Bush) would be from the collapse of the 'too big fail' banks again. This is a real possibility, but not from the Fiscal Bunny Slope.

"I say get rid of Walmart and all overseas merchandise. Made in America for all Your cheap underwear from Indonesia will now cost 5 times as much when made in USA. ... Sweet." on The Real Takers I guess he's trying to be sarcastic with this. Small problem, the cost of labor is only in the single digits in any manufactured product. If you think about it, it can't be more than that. Who would pay for everything else in the retail price of a product? It was never about making it cheaper, or making more money. They were doing incredibly well making products here. It's about destroying the middle class, capturing all the wealth for a handful of people, and consolidating absolute power for them. And that doesn't mean you, rightwing troll. If we liberals don't prevail, in the end you won't own your underwear, it will belong to your master.

"'The right-wing Elf of the Senate, John McCain, came out of his tree on Fox Sunday' ... I saw that lefty cockroach Harry Reid right behind him." on Don't eat his cookies  I don't know how he even thinks this makes any sense.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

We are warm blooded, we are legion

Some people on the left are alarmed that Treasury Sec Timothy Geithner is leading negotiations to deal with the Fiscal Cliff (or the Fiscal Bunny Slope) being held between the Obama Adm and the Congress. Okay, he wouldn't be my pick, but he does have the expertise and the staff to deal with it.

Let's clear up a couple of things, Geithner never worked for a Wall Street bank. He was Governor of the NY Fed, which is largely responsible for riding herd on the the Wall Street banks, but that business was completely out of control before he got the job.

Now this doesn't prove anything one way or another, but Geithner was simultaneously on the board of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). It was this body that pulled the plug on the Wall Street banks transferring money between banks in 2008 over their involvement in the selling of a quadrillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000,000) worth of un-backed derivatives. This effectively froze the US banking system overnight. John McCain was caught completely flat footed by this move. He said when reporters asked him about the imminent end of Western Civilization, "the fundamentals of the economy are sound". Obama was not caught off guard, even though Obama has no experience or training in banking or economics. He seemed completely comfortable talking about it, just like he had been briefed. He did make Geithner Sec of the Treasury, typically a plum appointment given to an ally.   

Okay, even if Geithner can't be trusted, Obama's Chief of Staff Jack Lew is himself an economist with experience in banking. He's also worked at the State Department, the Council of Foriegn Relations, Office of Management and Budget, and several other jobs that suggest that he's nobody's fool. He is also expected to replace Geithner in Obama's second term.

Anything that happens over the budget negotiations will be with Obama's full understanding. Even if Obama "gives in" to Republican demands for cuts, it's the timing you need to look at. If the 'cuts' are put in far down the road, they are like no cuts at all. Anything done now can be undone by any future Congress, good or bad. Since the Republicans are just a bunch of dinosaurs waving their tiny arms in the air as the asteroid approaches, we liberal mammals need not panic. If we stick together we will prevail.

The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them

"The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them", normally attributed to Lenin, maybe he said it, maybe not. However, the founder of the Koch dynasty made his fortune selling American oil technology to Stalin, and that allowed him to win WWII.

Prat & Whitney Inc. has admitted selling software to the People's Republic of China that allowed them to develop the the Z-10 Attack Helicopter. Equal to if not superior to American helicopters it advances China into the 21st century in a big way. Not that it gives China a head to head advantage over America, it's really just an example of American capitalists selling our only edge to China. Can you say 'treason'. Probably not, since you didn't hear it on the corporate news channels.

Let's be clear, this sort of super helicopter is the 'edge' that turns tank battles, or suppresses the rebellion that a repressive regime wants to put down. More disturbing is the fact that China was actually able to build them at all. It's not just propaganda, they've been demonstrating them in public. A helicopter that can do a four point roll at combat speed while carrying more ordinance than an F-18 is nothing to trifle with. 

It shouldn't be any surprise, China graduates twice as many engineering students every year as we do. When you say one in a million, with four times our population, China knows how to use that to their advantage. The US doesn't make any real effort to recruit 'the best and the brightest'. China does this to perfection. In the US, math wiz students are recruited to develop algorithms that 'beat' the stock market. In China they are developing the next generation... of well, everything. Thirty years ago they were building steam locomotives, now they put people into space with ease. They are capable of shooting down our spy satellites, they can sink our aircraft carriers from 5000 miles away. They have more and better nukes than we have, and they are concealed them in a vast underground system we know little about.

Why are we in this position? Republicans believed in their arrogance that they would always be superior to the non-whites. They thought they were taking advantage of the little yellow people by selling the egg-head stuff they couldn't possibly understand. In fact they were just kidding themselves. In an effort to consolidate power away from the Middle Class, they gave it all to China. Is this position hopeless? With the defeat of Republicans in this election, it is isn't insurmountable. That doesn't mean the road ahead will be easy, it just means we have a chance.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The fiscal gentle slope

The right is trying to gin up fear for the 'fiscal cliff'. It's not a cliff in any sense of the word. Tax rates will go up only slightly to Clinton levels. Mitt Romney won't be to happy as his taxes will increase by about 50%. The middle class will take a hit, but compared to what the Republicans had in mind to do to them, the tax increase is a warm bath. Even at that, the middle class can be taken care of anytime between now and April 2014 when the taxes will actually be due. The spending cuts are another matter, but even they aren't really all that draconian. The cuts the Republicans claim to want would be far worse.

Oddly they claim the loss of defense spending will torpedo the economy. Doesn't that mean the government has been creating jobs? I thought that didn't ever, ever happen.

The right keeps saying that the real problem is the deficit, but when adjusted for inflation and the increase in population, the Federal debt is no bigger now then it was when Reagan left office, if not smaller. They keep comparing it to the GDP, but the GOP tanked the economy, the GDP should be much larger.

The Republicans want Obama to 'compromise' and adopt the Romney 'plan'. Bush never actually won an election, yet he claimed a mandate and 'political capital'. Obama has won two elections by landslide margins, and the exit polls indicate that 70% of voters support his plan to raise taxes, but he needs to do exactly what the Republicans want as a 'compromise'?

The Romney plan calls for closing loopholes and rate cuts for the rich. The plan is to be 'revenue neutral', meaning it doesn't do anything to cut the deficit. That is except they claim this would result in more revenue by magically growing the economy. Historically the opposite happens, cutting taxes on the rich tanks the economy.

In fact you could balance the budget by closing loopholes on the rich. Eliminating all their deductions, tax deferments, special rates on capital gains and such would raise exactly enough to balance the budget. This isn't in their plan, when they say, 'close loopholes', they mean your 'loopholes', not theirs. Forcing the rich and corporations to pay US taxes instead of hiding money offshore would generate another 500 billion on top of that.

Producing goods here and reducing oil imports would ad trillions to the GDP, and generate still more tax revenue. We could have the sort of booming economy that they have in China, but that's not in the Republican compromise. You can build a third world oligarchy that way.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Real Takers

Selected numbers appear to show consumer spending is way up thanks to the 'black' days, cyber day and on and on with the hype. A closer looks suggests it's really more like a one or two percent increase for the quarter, it's really all about building up a shopping frenzy. Are consumers really spending more at all? Or are they simply desperate to stretch their ever declining incomes to meet pent up demand to replace worn out consumer goods.

Then there is the gnawing need to provide the American dream for yourself and your family. It's not that people really feel the need to buy more junk from China, it's that they know deep down that they're in trouble. And they want so badly to kid themselves that they are still middle class. The evidence for this is that consumer debt is way up. The business channel folks actually point to this increase in debt as proof the economy is turning around, and there is a certain amount of truth to that, in the same way a soap bubble is new house.

Down at the Big Box Store the Typical Fox Viewer is pushing through the doors chasing a bargain that isn't really there. Like 'trickle down economics' the super low price prize the right-wing shopper is expecting to receive is just a lie. The Wall Street Journal surveyed the 'bargains' that were advertised and found that fully a third had been advertised previously at lower prices. This was just the ones they could track. Big ticket items are often given unique model numbers to disguise their true worth, which always less than what they are being sold for. The practice of manufacturing stripped down models using inferior parts that closely resemble the item shoppers think they are getting results in what are called 'derivative' models. These are much like the Wall Street 'derivatives' that resemble something of value, but have none.

Facing the mob of low information 'voters' (I mean shoppers) is the people who are the end result of this business model. Wearing thrift store clothes and a cheap vest is the big box employee, he/she can't even afford to shop there, they frequent the dollar stores, thrift stores, and food pantries. They aren't even referred to by name by the company, the computerized tracking system requires them to enter their 'social' at every turn. That's their Social Security number, how ironic, since they have no security. They are dependent on food stamps, medicaid, state child care, public housing assistance, Earned Income Tax Credits, their own family's support and charity to survive. They are seldom full time workers since that isn't company policy, but constant schedule changes make having GW Bush's uniquely American second and third jobs difficult. No matter how long they work they will never get a significant enough raise to make a living.

The right is chortling that the Black Friday worker walkout had little effect on Walmart. After all, creating more and more poor people is the American way. Mitt Romney may not have won the election, but by God the Billionaires will keep the 47% in it's place. Indeed of the 47%, the 'takers' Willard derided, 60% are in the 'working poor with children' group. Another 25% are low income elderly of which the majority voted for Mittens anyway. The remaining 15% are unemployed, because everything in the Big Box Store is made in China.

The fact is that Walmart only makes $9000 per employee. Well, that's what's on paper. Their accountants are well paid. Even so, if Walmart were required to pay decent wages and benefits they wouldn't be profitable. The small businesses that they drove under were profitable. How does that work? For one thing 'economy of scale' is largely a myth. Like a battleship, it's not cheap to run, but destroys the competition with ease.

For another thing, the Big Box model is self defeating. When you cut wages you destroy the very economy you need to operate your business. This matters not to the Walmart Billionaires, the five Walton heirs have more personal wealth than the bottom 40% and climbing. It's not about making a profit, it's about taking wealth. These are the real takers.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Don't eat his cookies

The right-wing Elf of the Senate, John McCain, came out of his tree on Fox Sunday to continue his demand for a Select Committee on Benghazi-gate. A so 'no story there, there' story that Fox has stopped covering it. The only reason McCain wants this committee is that he would be ranking member and could hog the spot light. There are so many long serving Republicans in the Senate (longer than him), that he can't get a plumb committee. The Ranking Member (that's the minority equivalent of chairman) has great sway with budget negotiations, appointments, and most importantly gets to hold press conferences and act important.

He has exactly zero chance of making this happen, in fact the more the far right talks about this 'no story...' the sillier they look. The Fox Sunday Panel even gave Susan Rice tacit support to be Secretary of State, (while beating up on the President at the same time). Why do they 'like' her? She's always advocated for a heavier hand in the Middle East, as opposed to John Kerry who they characterize as being opposed to all US involvement anywhere for any reason.

John McCain also has a personal ax to grind with Susan Rice, as an expert on foreign relations she left the Brookings Institute to be the 2008 Obama campaign's face on the 'John McCain is talking out his ass' team. John McCain, who thought a small market sportscaster 'who could see Russia from her house' was competent to be a heart beat from the Presidency, and Dr Rice, a Rhodes Scholar with decades of experience is not competent to be Sec of State. Fox would probably not even have a joke like McCain on anymore, but the bulk of Republicans they can pick from come across as even more stupid.