Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Jade Rabbit says, "Nǐ hǎo" (hello)

New unemployment claims fell sharply the week before Christmas despite widespread weather problems that was putting a drag on business activity. Early numbers suggest that retail sales were up for November and December justifying the increase in business inventory during the third quarter. This would be inline with the declining layoffs if inventory sold as predicted as more production will be required in January.

The Federal Reserve is cutting its $85b per month QE3 bond buying program by $10b in January and this is causing bond interest rates to climb, but so far has had no negative effect on the stock market that continues to set records. At $75b we're still talking about the better part of a trillion dollars a year in stimulus, of course this is 'soft stimulus' that mostly ends up as bank balance sheet entries.

If the government would spend $1t per year on infrastructure the US would be booming like China, instead of drifting toward becoming a third world colony of the People's Republic of China. Did I mention they have a rover named the Jade Rabbit on the moon? Twenty years ago there were almost no private cars in China, now the 'commies' are a bigger market for cars than the US. In five years their economy will be bigger than the US across the board.

The Republicans continue to attempt to sabotage the economy by cutting transfer payments such as unemployment benefits to 1.3 million laid off workers. Remember these people were fully employed at one time or they wouldn't be eligible for benefits. They aren't 'deadbeats', it's just that Conservatives sent their jobs to China.

Cuts to SNAP food benefits also cause harm to the economy, and not just in terms of the dollars lost, but in the general morale of a big swath of the population. In fact the more you cut holes in the safety net the more 'conservative' people become in their actions. I mean 'conservative' in that people begin to make bad choices out of fear and insecurity. Actually if you throw in ignorance and bigotry you have the regular meaning of 'Conservative' which is really just a word for 'making bad choices'.

People who have no unemployment benefits find it much more difficult to even look for work, let alone find a job as these cruel cuts also reduce the number of jobs available. Choices that people wouldn't make otherwise start to appeal to the newly desperate. Like buying really cheap but 'nutrition free' food for the kids, or using your last day of internet service to research 'cooking meth'.

The elderly also have a negative impact on the economy if they fear that they will run out of money and begin acting conservatively (making bad choices) because of the constant refrain from Conservatives that cuts to their 'entitlement' programs are inevitable. They are told that Social Security and Medicare will go broke, so they start saving instead of enjoying retirement by spending the money they have earned. Not to mention the theft of their pensions that they are told was inevitable, or was Obama's fault. In fact all that they are told by the right is nonsense of course, but the corporate media will repeat these refrains as faithfully as Congressmen will cash their checks from the Koch brothers.

One of FDR's very first speeches had that quote we hear so often attributed to the war, but is was really about Republicans in 1933, "All we have to fear, is fear itself". Republicans do their worst damage by convincing people that our problems can't be fixed, or maybe it's that they successfully convince people that it wasn't Republicans that caused these threats to Democracy and Civilization itself.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - where we examine that thin thread holding up civilization. zàijiàn (goodbye)

Monday, December 23, 2013

The 'great equalizer' that the Colt .45 could only dream of being

"Avtomat Kalashnikov" or AK-47 was designed by an intuitive machinist who had no formal training in engineering or gun design. It was built with few moving parts that were so sloppy that it barely hung together, but is was the friend of every soldier who held it. Legend has it that when the first M-16 rifles were issued to troops in Vietnam that US GIs would throw them away in favor of the 20 year old AK-47s captured from the Viet Cong. 

Mikhail Kalashnikov died today at the age of 94, he never regretted the rifle he designed. Well, he built it to kill Nazi's who were overrunning his home, so how could he. His subsequent designs have dominated light weapons production ever since. He said in a 2007 interview that politicians were to blame for every death his weapons caused. He was an intuitive man.  

Twitter - where we put the blame where it belongs

Friday, December 20, 2013

Punched or drilled? Use an inspection mirror & a spec sheet for comparison.

Numbers on 3rd quarter GDP growth are in, and we could be breaking into a chorus of 'Happy Days are Here Again'. A quarterly growth of 4.1% in GDP is not something that we have seen hardly at all since Ronald Reagan set about destroying the economy for the benefit of the 0.001% of Americans.

In the old days of New Deal Keynesian economics a 4% growth rate was the norm. Conservatives would like you to believe that such a number just isn't possible anymore unless you cut the tax rate on the rich to zero. Never mind that the Communist Chinese have been maintaining a pace of 2 to 3 times that for decades by pursuing FDR's or more accurately Alexander Hamilton's polices. You know, the guy on the ten Dollar bill.

The Chinese are big fans of our Founding Fathers, and it's paid off for them big time. The US went from making wooden shovels to being the undisputed industrial power of the world by following Hamilton's policies enacted by Congress in 1792. China has gone from making nothing more advanced than a 1940 style steam locomotive to putting a rover on the moon in just 30 years. This will be China's century in ways that we can't even imagine.

Where is the US? We do rank slightly above Romania in childhood poverty. That is to say that 33 countries do better for their children than we do. Where is China in this? They still have an awful lot of poor people, but on the other hand they have more middle-class people than the US has people. If you are smart kid in China you will get a World Class education, no ifs, ands or buts. In the US the odds are you won't get an anything like that kind of education if your parents aren't able to pay for it. So the US has a lot of George Bush types going to Harvard, and potential Albert Einsteins working at McDonalds.

What can we do about this? We can elect more Progressives to Congress. There are maybe a hundred members that have a clue as to whether their own posterior is punched or drilled. That's a joke that people who actually know how to actually make things will think is hilarious. I have some followers in China, they'll get it. Making stuff in the US has become passe, we need to change that or become a group of colonies for the predominant industrial power like we were in 1773.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - Find out how to tell if you were punched, or drilled. It's not too late.

Friday, December 6, 2013

All we have to fear about inflation, is nothing

The latest numbers suggest that we are finally into an actual self-sustaining economic recovery. Last week saw only 298,000 new unemployment claims, down 23,000 from the previous week and this was the lowest in six years.

November had 203,000 news jobs created according to the survey of employer establishments. While this is not a fantastic amount, it probably doesn't reflect the actual number of people currently working. The Household Survey on the other hand shows unemployment dropping to 7% which is the lowest it's been in more than five years.

The conventional (Conservative) wisdom is that this drop in the unemployment rate means people have given up looking for work since it's not reflected in the number of new jobs, but this isn't what they're saying (I'll come back to this). Simply put, the employer survey isn't all that accurate. In the Holiday season you are probably seeing a surge of hiring in areas that aren't being properly sampled, but it does show up when people are asked directly if they are working. This includes small businesses and so-called 'off-the-books' jobs that don't get counted, but do help the economy.

Further evidence that things are really picking up is the new University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey that surged to 82.5 for December, up from 75 last month. It had been predicted to increase only one point to 76.

The Conservative hacks aren't trying to downplay the jobs gains as you might expect since the Black Guy is still in the 'White' House. Instead they're actually trying to make it sound better than it really is, because that gins up the monthly 'FEAR' that the Federal Reserve is going to taper its QE3 bond buying program and tank the economy. Janet Yellen, the incoming Fed Chair has made it clear that she's not impressed with such talk.

The 'gold is the only real currency' crowd (gold is way down BTW) are still certain that there will be runaway inflation ANY DAY NOW! In fact the whole point is to create some inflation so business will stop sitting on its cash, but if too much inflation due to excess money in circulation were to occur the Fed could start selling its bond holdings to take money out of circulation again. Even if the Fed took a loss on the bonds, it wouldn't really matter, they just printed the money they used to buy them anyway. No tax dollars were involved.

Let's be clear, I'm not in favor of regulating the economy this way, except there are no effective government policies on trade, fiance, energy, on and on. So what the Fed is doing does hold things together for now. There is still the 'too big too fail' Wall Street bank crash coming in a couple of years if we don't get some real action from the 2015 Congress. Elections do matter, unfortunately Elizabeth Warren says she won't leave the Senate early to run for President, so there's that.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - Elizabeth Warren didn't say she wouldn't take the VP slot... at least I chose to hear it that way.

Friday, November 29, 2013

An Abundance of Caution

China is now scrambling fighter jets to 'defend' its claim over the formally international waters between China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. China ignored the B-52s that the US flew through the same territory, since the US has no claim over the waters. Japan and Korea don't get ignored, it doesn't sound like Taiwan even wants to risk it. The US has never been officially at war with China if you don't count Korea, but Japan is still reviled in China for its WWII atrocities, and needs to consider the very real possibility that things could get 'out of hand'.

It's not that China has any intention of shooting down the planes from Korea and Japan that have deliberately violated China's 'airspace', China just wants to raise tensions to a certain level. That level would be where no oil company will want to invest the big bucks it would take to extract petroleum in the disputed waters with the likelihood that their rigs would be seized by The People's Army. China is all about the 'long game', they know this will be their century, the planet is theirs for the taking.

Peace with Iran has brought to life a billion dollar cottage industry in vintage airplane parts. Iran has the distinction of flying some of the oldest commercial aircraft in the world, including one of the original 747-100s, a model that hasn't even been seen at a Boeing facility in 20 years. They fly planes that you don't even see in Africa. An engine fire? Just another day on the job at Iran Air. So now that spare parts no longer need to go to Iran via the Black Market there is a scramble by more mainstream parts dealers to lock down every Boeing jet that sits wasting away on some backwater tarmac.

Iran did have a go with using Russian built planes, but found the failure rate was worse than the bailing wire and chewing gum creations that they have been running. In reality they've only recently had a problem securing parts. Under Republican administrations there was no real enforcement of the embargos against Iran, but since Obama took over things have tightened up considerably. The USAF for example purchased a gigantic hydraulic shear to destroy landing gear struts for decommissioned F-111s that under the Bush Administration were routinely ending up in Iran.

Ronald Reagan committed Treason and got himself elected by promising Iran spare parts, anti-aircraft missiles and such. That business turned into the Iran-Contra scandal. During depositions Reagan claimed no recollection of such events, (his alzheimer's was conveniently revealed just prior to his appearance). George H. W. Bush who had bragged about being 'in charge' during the Reagan Presidency, claimed under oath that he knew nothing, saying that he just went to funerals like all Vice Presidents do. Bush went on to issue pardons for everyone involved, including people who hadn't even been indicted.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - Where you can ask, just what is baling wire?  

Breaking News: the Obama Administration has just recommended that US airlines comply with China's demand that aircraft flying into China's 'new' airspace comply with their notification requirements, "out of an abundance of caution". An abundance of caution would be to take the long way around.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Using Strategic air power to defend precious bodily fluids

New unemployment claims dropped by another 10,000 last week to 316,000 approaching pre Bush Crash numbers. California accounted for almost half of the decline suggesting that Conservative claims that the 7th largest economy in the world is in rapid decline since the Democrats took complete control of the state's government might be 'overstated'.

Wall Street banks are throwing a fit because the Federal Reserve is considering the elimination of the 0.25% interest that they have been paying banks on cash reserves that banks keep on deposit with the Fed. It doesn't sound like much except that these reserves total $2.4t. They only started doing this as part of the bank bailout and Wall Street has become accustomed to this $60b subsidy, it's almost half of their annual bonus pay. Banks didn't used to keep much cash on deposit but were encouraged to start doing this in case of further losses from the Bush crash. The Fed thinks that with the economy actually working again that maybe banks should start making loans with this money instead.

The possibility of peace with Iran has been putting further downward pressure on oil prices despite the Obama Administration's assurances that Iran wouldn't be allowed to pump more oil and natural gas any time soon.

The 21st century's Super Power, The People's Republic of China has laid claim to most of the South China Sea and has now created an new Air Defense Zone over what used to be a big chunk of International waters bordered by China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. This area happens to be rich in untapped petroleum reserves. China has a similar dispute going with The Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam over oil reserves in formally International waters further south.

The Super Power from the last century thumbed its nose at this flexing of Communist muscle by deploying some 1950s fire power to show them just who's the boss.  Flight Leader USAF Major T. J. "King" Kong (played by Slim Pickens in the movies) upon receiving his orders to challenge Chinese air defenses with two fifty year old B-52 bombers,  "Now I've been to one world's fair, a picnic and a rodeo and that's the stupidest thing I've heard come over a set of earphones. Are you sure you got today's codes?" 

When Dr Henry Kissinger was asked to comment on the wisdom sending of nuclear bombers into Communist airspace the 90 year old cold war expert became agitated. He leapt from his wheelchair took several steps and proclaimed, "Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!" 

China simply ignored the toothless lion's roar, and went about taking over the planet. 

Twitter @BruceEnberg - now with tips for avoiding the detrimental effects of fluoridation on your precious bodily fluids. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Knit two, purl one

New Unemployment Claims dropped by more than expected last week, down 21,000 to 323,000. This is approaching a post-Bush Crash record, and that was where we were before the Tea Seditionists tried to end Western Civilization by bringing us to the precipice of default. It's been revealed that the major banks spent 100s of millions on contingency planning and had set up 'war rooms' in an attempt to hold things together had the Tea Bag actually burst.

The markets reacted well to improvement in the jobs outlook despite the usual crazy talk from 'Fed taper' crowd. The disaster capitalists keep saying the Federal Reserve will surely stop printing money if the economy should start to improve the least little bit and we should all panic immediately! This scary talk is starting to have very little effect since people are catching on to how stupid it is.

There is also improved confidence because of the certainty of Janet Yellen's appointment as Fed Chairman, now that the right-wing crazies can't stop Presidential appointments anymore. Besides eliminating uncertainty about who will be in charge, Yellen also has a better record than the current Chairman in her response to the last banking crisis.

Remember how the Republicans had been blocking Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board forcing Obama to do recess appointments in order to have a functioning agency? Well the NLRB is finally starting to do its job and is bringing action against Walmart for its pattern of blatant union busting. This news should encourage the fledgling union movements by the employees of the wage slave operations in big box stores and the fast food industry.

Now that the Republicans can't block nominees this could allow the government work much more effectively. Not only will the top jobs now be filled in a timely manner, but there won't be the pressure to reappoint Bush cronies just to have somebody keeping the lights on. With competent people in charge it opens things up to reorganization and the elimination of corrupt Republicans that have been embedded deep in the government.

Just being able to fill Appeals Court positions should shift the Courts away from the hard right corporate rulings that have been coming down. The only fly in the ointment is that Supreme Court nominees weren't included in the filibuster crack down, so we're still in danger of having a hard right court run from the top down.

The right-wing noise machine is trying to claim (yet again) that Obama has been faking the unemployment rate by simply rigging the numbers, specifically they claim to have an insider that says this was done in the lead up to the election. The percentage rate of the unemployed is based a large phone survey of households to determine how many people are actually working. This is opposed to the Employer Establishment Survey that gives you the most often quoted number of new jobs, or during the Bush Crash, how we were losing 800,000 jobs per month. The household survey is considered to be the more accurate of the two surveys, but the media doesn't seem to grasp this, or more likely chooses not to.

The thing is, all of the raw survey data is available to researchers. It would take the complicity of everybody who worked in the Dept of Labor Statistics to pull off faking the numbers without getting caught. But if you're a right-wing ditto head you already believe everybody that works for the Federal Government is part of a vast conspiracy, and every storage lot with a chain link fence was built by FEMA to use as an extermination camp just as soon as Obama ends the filibuster.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - where I'm learning to knit in the manner of Madame Defarge

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fries with that? Or, Do we Hang together?

There has long been a debate about how slaves were treated in colonial America, records kept by slave holders suggested that they were grossly under fed. Archaeological digs however suggest that the 'masters' provisions were only a supplement to what slaves could grow for themselves, or harvest from the wild. But those were different times, land was plentiful, extensive gardens presented no problem, game and wilderness plantlife were plentiful.

Today we live in a much more dystopian landscape. While today's slave might be called a 'sales associate' or 'your server', they must still try to find enough to eat. This sage advice comes from the McDonald's 'employee only access' website, "to keep from feeling hungry, break up your available food into small portions and spread them out". Ronald McDonald doesn't even bother to have a canned food drive for his employees like the starving workers at Walmart get.

Mickey D's does have a number of tips for how its employees can get government assistance, no mention of the fact that a business that profits billions should at least be able to feed its slaves. In fact McDonald's could double its wages and only add 17 cents to a Dollar Menu item. At this pay scale McDonald's employees could afford to eat and have disposable income to stimulate the rest of the economy.

This "workers should have enough to eat" concept isn't in the billionaire's game plan, the whole point of high unemployment is to drive down wages to the point that people will not just work for food, but that in order to have enough to eat they are willing to kill those who oppose the billionaires. Jay Gould, a 19th century Railroad Baron, is quoted with articulating this concept, he said, "I can hire half of the 'working class' to kill the other half." It really wasn't a new concept with him, this has always been the Conservative way. Liberals fought the British East India Company in the 18th century and the Confederates in the 19th over this very idea.

Conservatives constantly conflate 'free markets' with a 'free people', citing Communism and other nonsense. In an actual 'free market' you can buy slaves, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars were fought and won by Liberals over this concept of 'freedom'. It has always been an imperfect implementation, but now we're in danger of going back to a truly 'free market'. You could wake up in factory complex with the slogan, "Work will set you free" above the gate, ("Arbeit macht frei" in German). The sign above the drive-though might not actually say, 'Arbeit macht frei, and would you like fries with that'. But that is exactly what they mean.

Twitter @BruceEnberg -  "we will all hang together, or hang separately" - attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Monday, November 18, 2013

The poor are the most generous givers to charity

It's a well known phenomenon that it's always those with the least that are most likely to share. It took a new twist last week as photos leaked out of a Food Drive conducted at a Walmart store in Cleveland OH. It wasn't supposed to be made public as it was conducted in the employee breakroom for the benefit of other Walmart employees who couldn't afford Thanksgiving dinner. The poor feeding the poor in the belly of corporate greed.

Walmart is having problems meeting sales goals, and they've issued a laundry list of excuses for why this is. The newest excuse is that their customers are fearful of the cost of the ObamaCare mandate to buy insurance. The reality is that their own business model is destroying the economy so that their target demographic simply can't afford to shop at Walmart. People are too poor to go to Walmart so they go to the Dollar stores (they're booming) or the Food Bank and Thrift stores. Mostly they just don't buy much, and the whole economy is dragged down.

New Unemployment claims continue to edge downward as the damage done by the Tea Confederates attack on the Government of the United States slowly heals. Some economists are predicting that the average family will spend less for the holidays than last year. The National Retail Federation however is predicting total sales volume to increase by 4.6%. Inventories have been built up in anticipation of a good retail season so that would be a double hit if the goods don't move. Excess inventory will require cutbacks even larger than what you would get from weak sales.

The stock market is flirting with 16,000 and the right wing can't say it often enough that it's from the Federal Reserve printing money. They're wrong about that, just like they're wrong about everything else. There is one problem with the Fed keeping interest rates so low, it's helping fuel the Dark Money lending market. Non-banks are using hedge fund money to make high interest loans to businesses that don't qualify for bank loans. There is an awful lot of it going on, and it's only speculation what sort of problems this will lead to if there is a crash in 2016, but it's not going to be anything good.

Gold is down again. It's been yo-yoing up and down and everytime it jumps up a $100/oz people actually buy more. They think this is the time that the Gold Bugs are going to be right, and the price will hit $10,000/oz as the USD collapses. There are stupider things that you can buy than gold, but I have a hard time thinking of any.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - don't forget to take your canned goods to the Food Bank before they expire

Friday, November 8, 2013

Children are Our Future, if they get out to vote

With 204,000 new jobs in October we saw a definite uptick in the economy despite the Tea Party shutdown of the Government. Some economists are saying that we might be approaching 'escape velocity', meaning that the economy could start to fly on its own producing real sustained growth. This might just be hype intended to convince the Federal Reserve to stop buying bonds as this would favor certain people in the financial markets. We'll know better after we see the November numbers.

There are complaints that half of these new jobs were minimum wage service, retail and temp jobs. Of course the other half were better paying jobs. A recovery has to start with as many people as possible getting a pay check. In the 1930s FDR began by putting men to work with shovels, today the Fed is trying to accomplish this by boosting consumer credit. This means an uptick in retail and service sectors will come first, so this could be a good indicator if an actual recovery has started.

Standard & Poors has downgraded France's credit rating for 'failing to take action' on their long term debt problem, except they did resolve their fiscal problems. They were actually downgraded for raising taxes on the rich. The billionaires that own S&P don't want the peasants catching on to the fact that the same things that fixed the economy in the 1930s, those New Deal policies that gave us steady growth and small deficits for 50 years, would work just fine now too.

There is actually a lot of pent up demand in the US after the 30 years of neglect initiated by Ronald Reagan. The three trillion dollars worth infrastructure repairs that are badly needed would put a lot of people work even without doing 21st century upgrades like the Chinese have been building. China owns half of the world's large construction cranes and produces half of the world's cement. Before Reagan, the US was like that, and it could be again. Instead the Republicans in the House alternate between passing bills to end ObamaCare and naming Post Offices after Reagan.

We could change that in 2014, in this recent election the Millennials turned out vote in bigger than expected numbers and they went for Democrats. Even Chris Christie with his big landslide lost the Millennial vote, the minimum wage increase passed on referendum in NJ even though it was opposed by Christie. Every year a new crop of Millennials turns 18, and they are the largest generation in history, out numbering even the Baby Boomers. Rush listeners continue to pass onto their reward every year, and they were demographic that has kept Republicans in business. At some point voter suppression and Gerrymandering won't be enough, and that could be the next election.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - send your favorite Millennial a retweet

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Best to wear a hat

New unemployment claims fell again last week and are starting approach the levels we saw just before the Tea Party Sedition movement knocked a sizeable hole in the economy. There were 28,000 Federal civilian employees drawing unemployment benefits last week which was 50,000 fewer than the week before. This adds to the $24b tab for the pointless government shutdown.

Federal employees will get back pay for their time off, plus the hourly employees will be getting overtime pay to catch up their work. Government contractors will doubtless be demanding compensation for the snafu conditions that occurred during our brief return to the Articles of Confederation when the Federal Government was basically voluntary.

The GDP grew at a 2.8% rate during the 3rd quarter, which is quite respectable for the Neo-Reagan Era. In the old days of the New Deal that level of growth would have been considered slow. However 0.8 points were attributed to inventory build up in anticipation of growth in the 4th quarter, and could cause a major pull back if that growth isn't realized.

The reason for the increased inventory is that major retailers are again extending credit in a big way for the first time since the Bush Crash in 2006, and the credit card companies are issuing high limit cards in anticipation of a big holiday shopping season.

This should have the effect of putting more people to work. The Federal Reserve's QE3 program of buying up bonds issued by banks as well as Treasuries from the open market is encouraging this creation of new consumer debt. This is inline with the Fed's mandate to keep unemployment down. Actual Federal policies on trade, manufacturing, energy, control of monopolies, and that sort of thing would work so much better, but we can barely keep crazy people in Tricorne hats from crashing civilization. So we're stuck with bankers trying to keep things going.

The stock market run-up has been making a lot of news, but it really isn't linked to the economy in any meaningful way. It's just a way skim money from people's retirement accounts, there will be another 'harvest' of wealth in the next couple of years. The billionaires will likely try to time a 80% drop in the markets to right before the 2016 elections. That is unless the Republicans are so pathetic by then that they can't make that a 'takeover' work, then it be a more subtle crash.

Oil prices have been drifting lower as the supply is simply getting to big for commodity traders to control. If the Dodd-Frank Act had been ever been implemented we would be paying under $2 for gas. Just as we did when the banks were forced to stop trading commodities during the credit freeze-up in late 2008. Obama has been complaining about the foot dragging from the commissions that have control over writing the regulations. The President actually has very little power to influence Federal commissioners. The idea is to keep people like Nixon from running things, so instead we have people like Dick Cheney running things with the promise seven figure corporate board seats when leaving government. Congress could step in, but then we're back to the crazy people who don't believe in government of any kind.

Twitter @BruceEnberg  I didn't cash in on the big Twitter IPO, of course if you can't buy the advance offering with the insiders, all you'll really get is Twitter droppings. Wear a hat, just not a Tricorne hat.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bits & pieces

To be fair to Rand Paul and the accusations of plagiarism (actually it's cut & dried), he wouldn't know the difference between a right wing Wiki article and one of his speeches, since they are all written by the Heritage Foundation. Billionaire funded Heritage maintains a boiler room operation that constantly edits Wiki articles to reflect their made up version of history. They repeat the Rightwing's manufactured facts, improbable numbers, as well as colors and shapes that Disney used in Fantasia. 

Drone Strikes: Not to put to fine a point on it, but we've been doing this since the Marines landed on the Shores of Tripoli. It's just a matter of just how crazy of a guy you put in charge of the muskets that determines whether it's 'good and necessary' Foreign Policy or just War Crimes .
Judging from all the pictures that pop up on Google search, the Orca Whales seem to like ferries. Whales in general seen to be fascinated with boats that cross their territory, at least the ones without harpoon guns.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hunger in the land of plenty

Food Stamps or SNAP benefits have been cut just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas by Conservative Congressmen that brag about their Christianity, (never mind JC saying to never do that). To be fair, 'real' Christians like them practice their faith every day, they keep as many people as possible poor and hungry whether it's a holiday or not.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"More power, Scotty"

Meet the USS Zumwalt DD-1000, a new multi-task fighting ship design that in its description sounds more like the 23rd century USS Enterprise than a common Navy destroyer. Impossibly sleek with improbable angles that are fundamental to its design, it doesn't exactly sail, more accurately it flies through the water, capable of cutting through the waves and making high speed turns in such a way so as to not leave a detectable wake.

She has a totally integrated electric drive system, all of the considerable power its turbines produce can go to any system on the ship as directed by Her skipper. This includes such Sci-Fi favorites as Rail Guns capable of throwing a projectile into space, high energy particle lasers able to take out missiles, or high energy radar capable of overwhelming enemy 'scanners'.

The USS Zumwalt's first CO lends a bit of futuristic flare to the story of this 'Next
Generation' warship as he is none other than Capt James Kirk USN. From his list of accomplishments as an officer at an young age for his rank, he's likely on the fast track to Admiral's stars or maybe going war with the Klingons.

Th DD-X class has actually been designated by the Navy to fulfill the Congressionally mandated landing force artillery support role that was previously filled by the Iowa Class Battleships. In theory this ship can throw high speed projectiles hundreds of miles with pinpoint accuracy and collect instant integrated intelligence confirmation of the effect, while at the same time land troops in shallow water. This is a relatively large ship, but going against Navy tradition it has a small crew dependent on high tech automated systems.

However this Bush era project has its critics. Rumors that the Zumwalt's carbon fiber hull plating has a habit of coming apart at the seams have been denied by the contractors. The really high tech weapons that are supposed to justify the obscene cost of this weapons system have yet to be demonstrated to actually work, and aren't yet even scheduled to be installed. It's totally integrated power systems could lead to a totally integrated failure of the ship in combat. Modular 'combat support' packages, 'imagine those giant Chinese container ships', the already configured systems that are supposed make the ship capable of serving multiple roles take so long to swap out, that any high speed Navy ship could sail far faster from the US already equipped for mission at a lower cost.

This will either be the most revolutionary ship since the Ironclads of the Civil War, or just variations on earlier boondoggles like 50s era Nuclear Reactor powered bomber, MacNamara's F-111 do everything but really nothing fighter plane, or Reagan's Star Wars Missile Defense system that turned out to be just a trillion dollar money drain. Did I mention that Dick Cheney was involved in letting the contracts?

Twitter @BruceEnberg - where it's already the 23rd century. One to beam up.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Living in John Galt's America

The Federal Reserve announced today that the $85b per month QE3 purchase of bonds from the open market with freshly printed money will continue for the foreseeable future. This policy is starting to have an effect on the economy with banks who are able to sell their bonds to the Fed being more willing to provide home mortgages & retailers are beginning to offer store brand credit cards again in a big way. Banks are also offering high limit cards with 18 months at zero interest offers to anybody with a passable credit rating.

Easy credit sounds like one of those nasty bubble economy things that I have a habit of ranting against. The thing is, that this is a perfectly acceptable practice when the economy is in the tank and you need some stimulus to 'prime the pump'. It's not okay to push easy credit when the economy is supposedly doing great, but you simply want to hide the fact that Reagan's 'trickle down' economic policies are in fact destroying America. That's not to say we don't need all those New Deal policies back again instead of letting the people whose behavior is right out an Ayn Rand novel run things.

Speaking of  'works of fiction', Alan Greenspan has come out with a new book. One of his doozies is that he claims that the Housing Bubble was easy to see coming. This completely contradicts his sworn testimony before Congress where he completely dodged responsibility for the crashing of the Housing Market. Only Bush (or Cheney) could be said to be more responsible than Greenspan, but you can put anything into a book since right wing corporations publish all the books.

Janet Yellen is the nominee to be the next Fed Chairperson, Rand Paul has declared that he'll hold up her nomination until the Senate votes on a complete Fed audit. A small problem for the Senator from John Galt's mountaintop paradise (Ayn Rand's rich guy utopian hero), is that as Vice-Chair, Yellen will simply take the position regardless of Ayn Rand Paul's theatrics. Rand Paul used to brag openly about his adherence to his namesake's economic principles. He's a little more coy about it now, but his beliefs haven't changed that the rich are the makers and the workers are the takers.

Let's not forget that Alan Greenspan was an actual disciple of Ayn Rand when she was alive, he personally brought flowers to her funeral. Greenspan's culpability in keeping Vice President GHW Bush's children out of prison during the S&L crash when Reagan sent 800 bankers to Federal prison is the only reason a hack like him was named to head the Federal Reserve. But he served his billionaire friends well, they were just millionaires when he took over the Fed, and he made them into billionaires in a few years. A billionaire has a 1000 times as much wealth as being a mere millionaire.

Obama didn't send any bankers to prison, and you hate to think of him as a worse President than Reagan, but the truth is that it was a different time. There were a lot of people around in the 80s who could remember the last big bank crash in 1920s & 30s. Today we live a sort of Dark Ages, where people think that economic policy is just magic. The elder Bush called Reagan's proposed policies 'Voodoo economics', but today it's considered normal that zombie banks wander the land. Today, every economic sector is dominated by billionaire owned monopolies, and you can have three jobs but still starve in John Galt's (I mean Allan Greenspan's) America.

Twitter @BruceEnberg  - telling you the things Ayn Rand and Allan Greenspan don't want you to know.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

snippets sent to Mike Malloy

It's not fair to include Obama in the 'opposition' to Elizabeth Warren, when the Senate would not confirm her as head of the Consumer Protection Agency, he appointed her as his 'fait accompli' representative to create the CPA, she had carte blanche to write the rules and hand picked everybody who works there now.  

Hey Uncle Mike, when all the racist, slave (want to be) holding, billionaire fantasy, gun nut, White Supremacy Texans gathered at the Alamo the other day, did the legitimate government kill them all in a SWAT Team raid like in 1836?

a Right Wing Nut Job with a gun is not a 'good guy' with a gun, he's a ticking time bomb. Where do the daily headlines about mass shooters come from? They come from Rightwing Hate Radio listeners who want to kill the 'bad guys', except those 'bad guys' are just a Right Wing fantasy. So their swirling brains get to the point where anything one of their "radio heroes" tells them, becomes the target, even if it's really an innocent person.

Given the climate of fear created by Right Wing Hate Radio and echoed by the (more or less) elected government of the Republic of Texas, the baby sitter was reasonably afraid. Doubtless everyone around her was 'packing' and exuding a fog of paranoia coupled with sexual aggression toward women. She's no more and no less responsible for this child's death than Rush Limbaugh and Rick Perry.

"It's time to make the barbecue , if you can't eat your enemies, who can you eat? Eating green wafers made from the random dead people might satisfy your protein cravings, or maybe those fake wafers at church that are supposed to be Jesus satisfy your 'needs'. Are you sure those church wafers aren't the missing Alter boys? Maybe it's really the 11 secret herbs and spices.... 

you know who is the first to be eaten? The guy who has reservations about the menu....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Treason, Sedition or GOP politics as usual, what's in a name?

The September jobs numbers are in two & 1/2 weeks late thanks to the $24b exercise in Sedition. It's called Sedition and not called Treason since no foreign power was involved in the attempted overthrow of the government of the United States, that's if you don't count Ted Cruz as an agent of Imperial Canada. The 148,000 new jobs created last month were more than twice the rate of new workers entering the workforce, and you have workers leaving into retirement at a higher than normal rate with the peak of the Baby Boomers leaving for the rocking chair. This is basically what's pushing down the unemployment rate and not huge numbers of 'discouraged' workers the media likes to talk about. Although a lot of older people would keep working if they could find a decent job. We can't all be overpaid radio talk show personalities in our twilight years.

The best estimate for the economic damage from the right wing Sedition is a 0.25% reduction in GDP or about $40b per year for the foreseeable future, that is until the economy fully recovers from its current slump. The Republicans have already hindered GDP growth by one percentage per year for the three years that they've controlled the House. They are currently cutting output by 3% or about half a trillion dollars each year and the damage continues to build.

All but the most stupid of Republican leaders know that this is the effect that they're having on the economy. You can tell because they create talking points that say the opposite. Liars often don't know when to just keep their mouths shut.

Contrary to the news reports, ObamaCare sign up has been a huge success. They are on track to exceed the half million enrollee goal for October despite all the glitches that are primarily occurring in Red States where the Federal website is having problems interacting with state databases. A total of 500,000 subscribers might not sound like that many out of the 40 million people who need coverage, but enrollment isn't counted until the new policy holder pays their first premium, and the bulk of enrollees have been deferring that first payment until December, so we really don't know how many people have actually signed up. Around Christmas time things are likely to suddenly become very festive around the White House when the enrollment numbers for Obama's namesake start coming in.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - Helping you keep track of the acts of Sedition, Treason and Tea Bagging by the paid saboteurs from the right

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The 'Not' Tea Party, or knowing the real names of stuff

It looks at this hour, that with the Senate sending a 'survival' budget to the House, that the United States of America will get past its gravest crisis since the near Oligarch takeover during the Great Depression, or from Civil War conquest... by basically the same Oligarchs.

And it was pretty much the same bunch that tried to undermine the Colonial rebellion against the British East India Company. Conservatives burned the houses of liberal soldiers and drove their families into the forest, overall ten percent of Americans died from this abuse before the United States became a reality.

In shear numbers, more Americans died during the 'War of Northern Aggression' than in all other American Wars combined, of course this total includes the deaths of Confederates who fought under a Traitor's flag while killing US troops. It's totally appropriate that Tea Party gray backs wave the Stars & Bars in defiance of the twice elected black President.

While it may seem less than ideal that the terms of the Tea Party surrender only extend the function of government until the start of the new Congressional year, and the debt ceiling only until February. The Republicans are not likely to make a fuss in an election year to block the government again, after the drubbing they just took. The big 'concession' from the Democrats was to tighten income verification before ObamaCare's low income participants get a subsidy. The thing is, the Tea Party's big objection to ObamaCare was that very involvement of the IRS in income verification. Now that this has been made intrusive, it has been transformed into the Republican's 'big' accomplishment from their $36b government shutdown.

So the GOP basically got nothing. ObamaCare is now history. How would FDR be remembered if Social Security were called FDR Security. The GOP will need to rename ObamaCare to make it sound like it was their idea. When 'Single Payer' starts to get traction, the TeaBag protest signs will say, "Keep you Government hands off my Constitutionally guaranteed ObamaCare".

twitter @BruceEnberg where the real names of stuff keep getting tossed in the faces of Conservatives

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hobbling the four horses of the Apocalypse

New unemployment claims jumped by 66,000 last week to 374,000 after months settling down toward 300,000. This doesn't begin to show the real effects of the government shutdown as contractors are only now beginning to kick people to the curb. The effect this will have on the rest of economy will begin to show soon as the lack of spending by those affected by the shutdown starts to mushroom into a reduction in US GDP. This is one of those self reinforcing feedback loops that are commonly referred to as a 'death spiral'.

You see, the problem isn't confined to the simple math of less spending, but is actually multiplied by the fact that the natural mitigators of an economic downturn that we commonly refer to as 'government safety nets' are also being removed. State run programs are running out of 'pass through' money, and the charities will be affected soon. Right wingers are always saying churches could care for the poor better and somehow do it at no cost, but the christian charities get 2/3 of their money from the Feds. With Uncle Sam out the picture, their private donations will dry up too.

President Obama is going for broke, he's told the Republicans he will accept no half measures. They will accept the will of the people as he and the majority of Congress represent it, or they will leave the world economy to be resolved by what ever emergency powers that Obama elects to use.

It appears that Obama is placing his hopes in the Federal Reserve bank to back his play with his announcement of Janet Yellen to replace Ben Bernanke as Chairman. The 'hard currency' crowd is freaked by the nomination of someone even more committed to 'money printing' than the current Chair 'person'. These people don't think that women should be able to vote and wear pants, let allow control the world's reserve currency. All of the gold that they bought from Glenn Beck at $1900/oz is now trending below $1300/oz despite the ongoing Apocalypse, and they know 'girl cooties' have got something to do with their world being upside down. The thing is, once Bernanke steps down, Yellen as his Vice Chairman will assume the position even if the Republicans in the Senate attempt to block her.

It's not incidental that the all of the 'too big to fail' banks submitted their final 'living will' plans as required by the Dodd-Frank Act to the FDIC in the past two weeks. Given a real crisis there will be no one page demand submitted to Congress for trillions in bailout money like during the financial collapse during the final months of the Bush Administration. The heart of billionaire capitalism will simply be broken up into manageable chunks based on this prior disclosure, and put back to work. The shareholders will be wiped out, upper management sacked with no golden parachutes, and the Dept of Justice on speed dial will get the call.

At least this is the plan, we'll find out if it really works, or maybe the Republicans will blink instead. There is still time for them to kick the can down the road to early 2015, and I have been predicting that they will do this. The thing is they might not see any future there with the House almost certainly going to Progressive Caucus. They might opt for the end of the world instead. We'll find out in the next few days how this will settle out.

Twitter @BruceEngerg for the Apocalypse in real time, for the End Times roundup.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Just one of the many dangers of a Default

If the US stops redeeming debt or it even looks like they might, the credit rating agencies could down grade the credit rating of Treasury bonds.

Reducing bonds from AAA would require certain funds that hold the bonds to sell them immediately at any price that they can get. This would trickle down to all sorts of debt instruments. Then there are the 600 trillion of derivatives in circulation. It was mortgage derivatives that caused the last crash and this would be much bigger.

Congress could outlaw the rating agencies taking such action or anybody from using this is a criteria for divesting bonds, but that requires the same Congress that caused the problem to act. 

The President could issue an emergency order, but by then it might be too late.

Article 2 gives all the required power to the POTUS since it lays out his duties as if he's actually expected to carry them out. All Presidents have found as much power in the Constitution as they chose to. Passing the ball to Congress is just politics, the President can do anything and everything unless the House is actually willing to impeach him & the Senate convict. Until he is dragged from the White House in chains the President can order any actions that the people of his administration are willing to carry out.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And there before me was a Pale Horse

Obama is talking to Wall Street about the Government Default as in, (the end of the F'n world) being a very real possibility. We'll see what that does to the markets starting in Asia in just a couple of hours. Is he really talking about a Pale Horse who's rider said unto him, "Come and see"....

Maybe we're just talking about the Federal Reserve going all QE666 and buying up all the outstanding dollar denominated debt on the planet. They could actually do that. It would put an awful lot of cash into circulation.... I'm not sure what that would really do.... Since all that cash would be in only a relatively few hands, maybe nothing would happen. Maybe we could just have a Biblical Jubilee, forgive all the debt and start over. That's probably not what the right-wing billionaires behind the current crisis have in mind. I'm thinking they have in mind bringing in the other three Horsemen and having a good old-fashioned Apocalypse.

In the 'real news' today, the production company that was paying Micheal Jackson's doctor to make him into a zombie, you know, just like the in the video 'Thriller'. They beat the liability rap in a marathon, as in (shamble along pursuing the living until they're exhausted and out of ammunition', they (the corporation) overtook and 'beat' the 'wrongful death' civil suit brought by the guardians of Jackson's kids.

Aren't you glad the Federal Courts aren't affected by the 'shutdown'? By the way corporations use 60% of the court system, but they don't think they should pay any taxes to support it. The Tea Party will take care of that taxing problem.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - providing daily tips on how to keep the Walking Dead of the far right from tearing the flesh form your bones and consuming your brains

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Young Dr Frankenstein to Igor, "You've brought me an abnormal brain?"

Treasury Secretary Lew informed Congress today that the Obama Administration is now using the final set of extraordinary measures to fund the government pending an increase in the debt limit. Wall Street seems unconcerned about a default, apparently accepting the Republican leadership's assurances that a default will not occur.

If the United States were unable to borrow, the likely action would be stop redeeming Treasury bonds that come due. The doomsday scenario should this happen is that major holders of US debt like China, Japan and Middle East countries would start selling off their bond holdings driving the value down and interest rates into hyperinflation territory. However, if the Federal Reserve were to step up and buy all available bonds this wouldn't be a problem. Since that's basically what they've been doing for several years already with QEs 1 through 3, this probably explains the total lack of panic on Wall Street.

In theory the government could also go to the Federal Reserve for needed cash by creating some sort of warrant system for paying major contractors that would then use these warrants as collateral to borrow from the Fed banks at zero interest. The idea of the platinum coin was rejected by Obama the last time the Tea Baggers broke loose from their restraints and began terrorizing the village, but there is no reason it couldn't be issued this time.

The Republicans could take Obama to Court for any scheme like this to maintain the Full Faith and Credit of the United States of America as all government officials are required to do by the 14th Amendment. How the Supreme Court would rule is anybody's guess, but they would probably side with the government rather than the Tea Party. If they didn't, would Obama go all Andrew Jackson on them, and tell them to take a hike?

Conservatives have created the fiction that the 'debt ceiling' has always existed because Congress has long been in the habit of approving bond issues. In fact the United States has always been running up debts, as opposed to issuing bonds that are an interest bearing device created for rich people to invest in. It was the idea of actually paying interest over a fixed maturity that needed Congressional approval, not borrowing money.

The resolution of all of this depends on how many people you can get to agree on what will happen next. You have the crazy people on the right that think the only gold coins should be used. By the way, gold dropped 3% today. You've got bankers that think that they are entitled to a slice of everything, even though they don't actually do anything. Then you have people like Sen Elizabeth Warren that think that we've had quite enough of this already.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - keeping the village informed about the goings on at the castle

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blood stained rag

I've been going round and round on Twitter with some rightwing nut job from Texas that posted a selfie of her in front of a Confederate battle flag. You know all the stuff, "Obama is not my president" he hates Conservatives, blah, blah, blah.

The thing about the 'Stars and Bars' is that traitors flew that flag while killing American soldiers defending their country. They say it's just a symbol of their 'heritage' after all, their ancestors were honorable men (except for that whole treason thing, slavery, misogyny, pick, pick, pick). Then, why not if you're German, why not fly the Nazi flag? Well, people a little bit further to the right do that too. The lamest excuse is they don't fly the CSA 'national' flag. The South stopped using it as the battle flag because it was mostly white and they couldn't keep track of if they had surrendered or not.

The Stars and Bars has a lot of the blood of patriotic Americans on it. To fly it is nothing less than treason, the same as it was in 1865.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Everything that you need to know about economics is in a Pyramid

On Tuesday we will all turn into pumpkins if the Republican controlled House doesn't pass the Senate budget bill. With this fiscal 'crisis' in mind, let's debunk the favorite talking point from the Conservatives: 'We can't afford that', or 'we're broke'. The reality check, the US prints its own money, unlike Greece that's dependent on the German Euro we can print our own, and as much as we need to make the economy work.

All money by definition is printed on something, even gold coins have their value stamped on them. The right-wing gold bugs are just nuts, gold has very little 'real' value. Ask the right-wingers who bought it a $825/oz under Reagan and are still waiting to see a profit. Adjusted for inflation, gold would need to be $2400/oz today for them to just break even, and that's with zero return on their investment.

As far as being able to 'afford' stuff, the government can buy anything that is available to buy. As long as it restrains itself to buying things that are actually in surplus there will be no inflation since the money is not competing for scarce goods.

When times are hard it's the government's responsibility to buy up surplus labor and surplus goods to re-energise the economy. In ancient Egypt they hired the surplus labor to build pyramids, that's why they were around for 6000 years. There is no Egyptian hieroglyph for 'austerity', if they really needed one, they used the one that also meant 'greedy idiot'. The glyph was depicted as a medium sized predator eating a small child, in modern English that translates into 'Fox News'.

The primary reason for the government to borrow money during economic downturns to take that money out the mattresses and put it to work in order to avoid panic spending later that could actually lead to runaway inflation. Another right-wing myth is that we've been borrowing money from China. China has never actually loaned us any money since our government has never spent any Chinese Yuans. China stopped buying Treasury bonds (using USDs) at the beginning of the Bush Great Depression in 2006.

It is true that the Federal Reserve is printing $85b a month in currency out of thin air to buy publicly traded treasury and mortgage bonds. But, that's basically what the Fed does all the time, only it normally loans it to banks instead of it being spent in this way. It's the Federal Reserve's job to add money to the economy, or sometimes take money out. Is it a perfect substitute for good government policies on trade, manufacturing, labor and so on? Hell no, but with Republicans controlling the House, it's all we have. It will keep the economy from collapsing at least through 2014. If you want to get through 2015, you'll need a few more good people in Congress like Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - You don't need to walk like an Egyptian, just build like one.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A road cone on the road to Hell

The new unemployment claims continue trending down with only 305,000 newly unemployed last week. The moving average is only 308,000 indicating that layoffs are actually staying fairly low. Home prices were up significantly last month, manufacturing orders were up slightly and consumer spending is up. Gasoline prices are down and expected to fall significantly over the next several months. This leads into a Christmas season with most retailers announcing more temp hiring than last year. Walmart that has been plagued with reports of understaffing has announced that they are reversing their trend of moving to part time workers and will move 35,000 people to full time positions.

While Sen Ted Cruz R-TX was pretending to filibuster ObamaCare the Texas Health Insurance Exchange announced some of the lowest policy rates in the country. Mainstream news stories based on information provided by Red State officials claiming higher rates would be the result of ObamaCare turned out to be false once the exchanges actually made rates public. Most of the 'state' exchanges are actually run by the Feds since the Republicans blocked participation by their individual state governments.

An orange tinted drunk is all that stands between us and economic Hellfire. Everyone is assuming there won't be a government default since the House Republican leadership has been reassuring Wall Street in private that such a thing can't happen. The likely scenario is that Speaker Boehner will use Democratic votes to pass the Senate bill at the last minute to avoid calamity. The only problem is that the Speaker has absolute say on whether a bill can come to the House Floor, and the guy isn't particularly stable. Oh well, we must assume that Obama has some contingency for dealing with this. There are things that he can do to at least buy time, don't mind the market crash and all that.

The Tea Bag caucus in the House is getting increasing arrogant in their defiance of the mandate found in Article One of the Constitution that Congress is to provide for the General Welfare. They don't even make any pretense of working for anybody but the handful of billionaires who pull their strings. They don't even bother to talk about the traditional hot button issues that consumes the right of God, guns and gays. It's all about slashing the budget, defunding ObamaCare and cutting taxes for the rich.

Their assumption is that they can simply keep their seats with Gerrymandering and voter suppression, but this isn't a sure thing. They are getting so far outside of reality that the average voter is starting to ask questions. Asking questions can lead to knowledge and even activism. The holy water and wooden stake equivalents that spell trouble for the evil right.

All Republicans really talk like tea baggers in private, the only difference is that these guys do it all the time, and the demographics that don't find this sort of talk amusing are in fact growing. The Millennium generation is larger than the Baby Boom generation and far larger than the Greatest generation that Republicans depend on for votes. Every year a slice of Republicans die off and are replaced with a much larger group of Millennials that are coming of age with a very skeptical view of Republican policy. This is the reason you even hear the Pope talking like Jesus, he's trying to build his base, and the Church has done its market research.

It just a matter of getting the Millennials to vote, if they were to come out in 2014 in the same numbers that they did in 2008, Democrats could take the House. That isn't as hard as it sounds with six years worth of new voters having come of age since 2008, and six years of Republicans gone. It's all about the numbers.

Twitter @BruceEnberg where I dispense even more numbers that Conservatives don't want to hear.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

messing with your head

you might think that you have continuity as a 'person', since you remember the 'past', but those are just sketchy memories that your current brain activity strings together into what you perceive as conscious thought. 

Consider that the brain of a 'crazy' person is not significantly different from your own, everything you 'think' that you know is just an illusion created by your barely functioning brain. The fact that some of us agree on certain of these illusions in our current state of minimal consciousness doesn't make any of it 'real'. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

the Heisenberg principle isn't just for quantum physics

Only one week until the government shutdown because the tea baggers need to be in the spotlight for as long as possible. The thing is, we've been here before. An actual government shut down in the 90s was a disaster for the Republicans which makes seeing Newt Gingrich on the Sunday morning shows acting like an expert statesman all the more hilarious. People forget that he was run out of the Congress by Republicans. And the tea baggers have already tried this fiscal brinksmanship themselves, and failed miserably. This time around Obama isn't even pretending that he give them anything, not even the courtesy of pretending that they are his equals. That has got to so burn under their white sheets and hoods.

Round two will be the debt ceiling disaster, it's unclear exactly when that will happen. The TV schedule has it for October 15, but that's just a guess, or more likely it's all just for show. In reality, Obama can simply ignore the debt ceiling if he wants to, or he may wish to orchestrate the total humiliation of the Republicans with some sort of default. That's assuming the more mainstream Republicans won't simply join with Democrats and pass the legislation that is needed as they did the last time around.

ObamaCare starts to make affordable insurance policies available on October 1st through the State exchanges no matter what the Tea Baggers do. Today's Rightwing Talking Point is that the insurance companies are limiting choices on the new exchanges to keep premium costs down. In most states you never had more than three choices and often you really had only one choice for health insurance. The big difference with these exchanges is that what they tell you is in your policy actually is what you'll get. They can't cheat you anymore. No more dropping your coverage because you didn't disclose the acne medication that you took when you were 13, and the dozens of other dirty tricks they pulled are also outlawed.

The rightwing assumes that this will drive up their premiums because the insurance companies have to pay everybody else's claims. They just don't get that someday they will be the 'everybody else' who needs to stay out of bankruptcy. It's ironic that the long running TV series Breaking Bad will end just before ObamaCare makes obsolete its premise of a terminal cancer patient turning to crime in order to save his family from financial ruin.

In fact, treating everybody's medical needs in a timely, efficient and effective way costs half as much as the 'free market' insurance system we had previously. Well, actually that is the efficiency of a single payer system, but ObamaCare is at least half way toward that goal and has provisions for single payer to be implemented.  Twitter @BruceEnberg where I go all HeisEnberg on the Conservatives (Heisenberg is a Breaking Bad reference, just in case you've been living in a remote cabin with no communication on a Vermont mountain in order to hide from the DEA)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slightly better than guessing

In a recent poll, only 27% of Americans could correctly identify the Federal Reserve program known as Quantitative Easing or QE3, even given five answers to choose from. If you stop and consider the math, 20% should have gotten the right answer just by guessing. It's hard to believe an $85b a month program that's run up over a $3t balance is that unknown, but I'll bet far more people have watched the latest Miley Cyrus video than actually even care what QE3 is. 

So in that context, it was big news today that the Fed money printing program will continue full speed, and not be 'tapered'. The pundits sing the song of 'taper' between the regular Federal Reserve Board meetings, you can bet it will be the focus of 'very serious' news articles again tomorrow. So this non-news was credited with the stock market setting a new record even though QE3 has nothing to do stocks. Okay, in theory people buy more stocks with bond interest being so low, but the stock market is really a Ponzi scheme intended to suck money from your 401(k), and doesn't attract the kind of people who buy bonds. 

Apparently the 'smart people' caucus in the Senate is starting to hold sway on economic issues with the scuttling of Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers' yet to be announced nomination to be the next Fed Chairman. This puts the focus on the current vice-chairman Janet Yellon who everyone that doesn't want to revisit past economic disasters favors for the post. 

The House GOP is sending a laundry list of wack-a-doodle Tea Bag ideas over to the Senate tied to a bill increasing the debt ceiling. That would be the 'debt ceiling' that is flat unconstitutional, but that's something from the 14th amendment, and not found in the 2nd amendment, so it doesn't count.  Even without the 14th amendment, the House already appropriated the money and this was made into law, so Constitutionally the President is required to write the checks. 

Obama isn't even pretending that he will negotiate with the Tea Baggers this time, he'll be around another three years, their terms end in 13 & a half months. He can simply ignore the debt ceiling and let them take him to court. Most likely they'll make a lot of noise and then simply give him what he wants. The Right has become enamored with the manliness of Vladimir Putin lately, and that's what he did when negotiating with Obama, made some noise and completely gave in. I hope the Baggers don't start imitating Putin too much and start taking their shirts off. Twitter @BruceEnberg and there are no pictures of prairie2 anywhere, never ever

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The numbers are what the number are

While the number of people killed by guns in the US is substantial, it really pales in comparison to the total deaths caused by an assortment of Right Wing policies. Lack of health insurance, cigarettes, contaminated food, work place hazards, childhood malnutrition, and there's more. Then we get into foreign policy, a million dead here and there from various wars & war like situations, not to mention such things as malnutrition and starvation in.... well in most parts of world to one degree or another. Then there's global warming that may kill 95% of all life if we take the Permian Extinction as a precedent. What is the point of trying to do the math in the end. It is the end after all. Do I see a pale horse?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Smart Person in the room

The rightwing is pushing the nonsense that Obama has stumbled into yet another foreign policy success. How many times does this need to happen before they admit he actually knows what he's doing. This would probably be infinity times infinity to get close to the odds of that happening. In the current manifestation of impossibility a ruthless dictator whose clan has ruled Syria for 100s of years, and a former KGB agent who is known for assassinating anyone who threatens him are about to make a deal with Obama for everything Obama wanted. Obama, and more importantly the United States of America conceded nothing and will drop not a single bomb.

Pressed during an interview on a Sunday talk show about the 'budget crisis', Obama simply laughed at Speaker Boner's debt default threat. Obama is in charge and no matter what the beltway pundits say, he will prevail.

Larry Summers's nomination as Federal Reserve Chairman was scuttled by progressives in the Senate, (that's a phrase not heard since the 1930s). Does this mean that an actual competent economist like Janet Yellon will be the next Fed Chairman? It's too early to tell, but if the Progressive Caucus could kill the chances of an insider like Summers, it seems likely that they can make it happen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fed Chair

Larry Summers withdraws his name from consideration for Federal Reserve Chairman even though he wasn't formally proposed for the job? Caught on tape with a live boy or a dead girl? Something big for sure. Fortuitous circumstance for the nation just the same.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I haven't been posting very many new blog columns, but I do try to stay current on twitter if you want to keep in touch. I don't like to repeat myself, and it is mostly the same old, same old. This weeks new unemployment claims sounded great, but there were two states that supposedly had computer problems that kept the number down. The thing is, don't believe these excuses when they appear in the corporate media, pay attention all the time. The week to week claims have been trending down on average, and this is good news of course. The real big problem is low wages and obstruction from the tea-baggers in Congress.

I'll try to write more columns next week. Keep digging those trenches, we'll win in the end. prairie2

Friday, September 6, 2013

Now is the time to write future history

New unemployment claims declined last week to near post-Bush-crash record levels. The week to week tracking number has been in steady decline, suggesting that the labor market is tightening. The new jobs created were 169,000 last month according to the large employers surveyed, but the unemployment rate declined based on households surveyed suggesting jobs were created outside of the 'normal' tracking data. This would happen if a large number of really small employers were hiring or self-employment had picked up.

The pundits attributed the the lower unemployment rate to the decline in the job participation rate, even though that's been in steady decline ever since the Baby Boom Generation started to retire. Remember W making a big deal about him being one of the first boomers to reach 60? The right didn't seem to notice the job participation rate declining all through his Presidency. In fact, anyone not in the Military or in an official institution is counted as being eligible to work no matter their desire to work, or their ability to actually work at a job. Reality is not a big thing over on the Right.

According to a survey of corporate purchasing managers there was huge jump in factory orders, this should result in a steady increase in manufacturing jobs over the next several months. Of course the big problem is that new factory jobs only pay $14/hour and companies are locking out union workers to take away any benefits that go with those substandard wages. In Germany an average factory job pays $56/hour.

Economists Richard Burkhauser of Cornell University and Jeff Larrimore, a staffer on the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, warned that demographic factors could end up pushing incomes down for the next 30 years or more. If nothing is changed we may be at the beginning of the longest period of economic decline in American history. When they say 'demographic factors' they mean that we've reached the point where we can't have on average more jobs per household then we do now, as wages continue to decline on the same trend line that we've seen over the past 30+ years, or worse.

In 1980 we had 1.1 jobs per household, then Reagan declared war on unions and the 'two job household' became the expected norm. Jobs per household are in fact close to 2, and only fall short from that number is based on the high unemployment rate among men who would be expected to have the higher wage jobs that are now out-sourced. In the new Conservative Workforce, Pro-life means that mom gives birth on the job and never misses a day. In fact a lot of households have multiple generations working to try to keep the roof over their collective heads, (grandpa at Walmart, grandson at McD's), if you don't have that multi-generation support group, then you live in your car or in a tent by the river.

Low wage worker strikes are spreading from Fast Food restaurants to Big Box stores where wages are a third of the economic reality based on worker productivity. We're on the verge of another Progressive Revolution like we saw in Teddy Roosevelt's time, the question is are there enough people who understand what we need to do? An economy for everyone, or feudalism for the very few?  Twitter @BruceEnberg Now is the time that history is going to be made. The winners will write about it. Will it be the truth of the people, or the fiction of the Oligarchs?

Friday, August 23, 2013

This Account is Suspended for non-compliance

New unemployment claims did increase during the previous week but are relatively low with the moving average still declining. This indicates that we'll probably see the usual number of jobs created this month. Mostly low paying jobs of course, the kind that don't lead to any sort of real recovery for the middle class.

Conservatives, (and this includes a lot of Democrats) simply don't want to admit that our economic problems are a matter of high level policy, and not some sort of natural order that they really can't change. When I say 'high level', I mean policy created at think tanks that are paid for by billionaires  then pushed through the media by people with 'credibility' who read from the scripts that they are given. I don't mean just the 'news' people, but people with academic credentials who do know better, but they like their paychecks better than what's good for their country.

Maybe these people rationalize that the country is doomed and they need to take care of themselves, or maybe they were selected specifically for their complete lack of scruples. After decades of domination by the Republicans the government is also chock o' block with the 'heck of a job Brownie' types who weren't selected for their scruples.

You can say what you want about Obama really being just a corporate shill, and you might be right, but the Republicans in the Senate have kept 25% of the Cabinet level jobs unfilled. This leaves a lot of Republicans in charge, and if at all possible until President Cruz (or insert the name of some other idiot of your choice), until another Republican takes office in 2017. Then you'll see the usual rotation of former government hacks into the offices of Wall Street law firms and corporate offices at high salaries, and the loyal up and coming 'heck of a job Brownie types' will be appointed into government positions.

This brings us to the Dodd-Frank Act that was passed during the brief 55 day window when Dems had 60 Senate votes. It was intended to rein in the Wall Street banks, or at least to keep them from being bailed out again after the next crash. Obama had all the head regulators from various agencies, departments and commissions (dominated by Republicans and 'bought out' Democrats), the President had them all over to the White House monday. He chided them to actually write some regulations that would make the Dodd-Frank Act enforceable. This job was only supposed to take a year at most, it's been three.

The next banking collapse could be a real doozy and it doesn't look like we're going to be prepared to deal with it at all. Twitter @BruceEnberg, and watch what you say on Twitter, bankers can do anything, but Twitter enforces its rules

Friday, August 16, 2013

Huff Puff ... Gasp

Last week's 320,000 new unemployment claims was the lowest weekly number since Oct 2007, this of course was before the Bush Crash really started to pick up speed. Back then 300,000 plus in weekly claims was seen as disturbingly high, but those weekly numbers would seem tame by the time Bush left office for a career in painting self portraits.

Core inflation has ticked up to 1.7%, and this with better unemployment numbers is reinforcing cries about the "imminent tapering of the Federal Reserve's bond purchases". The pundits who make their living predicting what the Federal Reserve is going to do have really latched on to this one, nobody seems to care that they're always less accurate than a coin flip. The Fed will at some point have to cut back on bond purchases, so they will someday be right. At the moment the Federal Government isn't creating any new bonds (except to roll over existing bonds) since they're up against the debt ceiling.

The Fed's target for inflation is 2% so they really aren't close to shutting down the printing press. Printing money like this drives the rightwingers nuts, but this is what the Fed is supposed to do, it is in the money printing business after all. Rand Paul got himself into a bit a pickle by suggesting Fed Chairman nominees of Fredrick Hayek and Milton Freedman. I suppose he thought he was safe since they're both dead, and they are heroes of far right crazies in the way Ayn Rand is. All three were writers of absurd right-wing fiction.

Nobody took Hayek seriously when he was alive since he was wrong about everything to do with economics, he thought the Great Depression was a fine thing. Freedman was taken seriously until Chile brought him in to redo their economy and completely destroyed it. That didn't stop Reagan from implementing as many of the same policies as he could. Milton Friedman wasn't a committed ideologue however, and favored printing massive amounts money the way the Fed is doing it as preferential to sliding into a Great Depression. Rand Paul seems undeterred by this small fact.

Rand Paul doesn't really favor either Hayek's or Friedman's approach to economics, he seems to believe in magical gold coins. The Paul family never explains how the government would go about putting a lot of gold into circulation without doing the very things they oppose being done with paper money. A really basic thing is that gold coins are no different than paper money when they circulate as money, the value is stamped on them, otherwise you'd have to check the gold market every time you went to the cash register. In that reality the price of gold would be listed in Yuan, since China would be the only major economy. Wait, we're in that reality already.

You can still have inflation and deflation with gold coins since prices are really set by the surplus or the scarcity of goods, and not just the money supply. The fact that there is a tiny market for gold in fillings and computer circuits doesn't really 'set the value' of gold. If people started hoarding gold coins the Treasury would have to issue more of them the same way the Federal Reserve is printing electronic money to defeat billionaire cash hoarders, and take the coins out of circulation to prevent inflation just like with paper money.

We're not seeing massive hyper-inflation that the far right is always predicting because there is no mechanism to make that happen. Wages continue fall with the corporate created labor surplus plus de-unionization, and there is a constant surplus of goods with factories operating far below capacity. You only see the situation of a wheelbarrow of money needed to buy bread when there's little bread to be had, but people continue to get paid ever increasing amounts of money.

The price increases we have been seeing are entirely due to the huge run up in oil prices by the Bush-Cheney regime, and from the market manipulation of fuel prices by the Wall Street banks. This pressure is starting to wane and we could see falling prices instead. It would be a great time to dramatically raise the minimum wage, but that's going to take getting rid of the Republicans. Twitter @BruceEnberg There's no hyper-inflation on twitter, just hyper-ventilation

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Until the canned goods run out

We're still getting cries from the Rightwing business pundits that hyper-inflation is just around the corner, or better yet that it's already happening. This would mean that the government numbers on inflation are lies, all lies (lies, lies, I tell you, sputter, sputter, drool). How many years do they think they can keep saying this without anybody catching on? For the brain dead right, the answer is, forever. Most people are starting to grasp that it's nothing but 'Horse Feathers' (uncensored internet radio, pleazzzee).

The proof that the 'untethered' right has been using throughout Obama's two terms has been that gold's steadily increasing price 'proves' inflation has been happening at a horrific pace. They've kept saying this even as gold prices have been falling by a third. (oops) Now they're claiming that 'real' gold, that is physical gold that you buy at the pawn shop hasn't gone down, and is in short supply. Except that it has gone down, the market is the market.

Oil is supposed to be the other harbinger of hyper-inflation, except that hasn't been going up either. Sure Bush taking Saddam's massive oil production off the market did drive the price of oil from $18/barrel (& falling) to $140/barrel until it collapsed the banking system, but that increase has been incorporated into the price of everything like you would expect, and it has stabilized.

What is Hyper-Inflation really? It is the printing of massive amounts of money, and distributing it to people who will spend it to buy goods and services that are in short supply. This drives up prices in a fantastic way, but only if you keep printing money in ever increasing amounts. We don't have that problem. There is really downward pressure on wages that inhibits spending even if the workers have some money. We have far more goods than people can buy, you should expect prices to actually fall. When you start seeing empty shelves at Walmart then you can worry.

Most of the $85b per month in new money that the Federal Reserve (a private bank, if you didn't know that) is printing is going to people that already spend millions each month to maintain their 'way of life'. Buying a new, larger Italian yacht or a French helicopter isn't going to produce any inflation. Most likely the rich just launder their increased cash flow through a Cayman Islands account that is really held in New York so as to not pay any taxes, but not actually buy anything.

The real goal of the Fed is to convince the super rich that the Fed is printing sufficient money so that it will lead to inflation, and make their wealth decline in real terms. The idea being that the rich will need to actually 'make' some money, and they will be tempted to engage in some sort of real commerce that will inadvertently do us 'little people' some good. There have been some minor signs of this increased commerce, primarily in the easing of mortgage requirements so that a few more people can buy homes.

In short, you can forget about buying a wheelbarrow for your loaf of bread money, but stealing a shopping cart to transport your hoard of canned goods while you still have some money, that might be prudent. Deflation is still the real fear, this is what has always defined a Depression, and we're still in one for the foreseeable future. Why? Because billionaires flush with cash love a good bout of deflation so as to buy up your assets for 10 cents on the dollar, and they still hold sway.

Most of the really vast fortunes that old white men are sitting on today came from their daddies taking advantage of the last massive deflation in 1930. In short, we stand on the precipice, we can control our future, but only if a significant fraction of the people come to understand all of the things the rich don't want you to know anything about.

Twitter @BruceEnberg  Twitter isn't affected by deflation, at least until the canned goods run out....

remember the Census

Monday, August 12, 2013

Comrade Santorum says that workers are all the same.

There is no middle class in American according to former Senator Rick Santorum. "Don't use the term the other side uses. What does Barack Obama talk about all the time? The middle class," Santorum said at a fundraiser in Iowa. "Since when in America do we have classes? Since when in America are people stuck in areas or defined places called a class? That's Marxism talk."
He blathered on, "When Republicans get up and talk about middle class, we're buying into their rhetoric of dividing America. Stop it. There's no class in America. Call them on it." No word on how much this confused his middle class audience.
Where do you start with a guy this dumb? Saying everybody is exactly the same is MARXISM. Never mind that Santorum has always uses the term 'middle class' himself. He seems to think that when Democrats use the term 'middle class' that it's some sort of lower caste designation, you know like 'untouchables' or 'the 47%' also labeled by the Republicans as 'takers'. 
The question, is this classless society a new Republican meme, or just Santorum getting all frothy again? Has the 'middle class' ceased to be part of the Republican base, or do they think they can actually convince their brain dead followers that there is a country club pass waiting for them at the guard house of the gated community. The place behind high walls with armed guards that the people who aren't in the 'middle class' really do live.
The average High School graduate can hope to make close to $1 million in his lifetime. Somebody with a bachelor's degree can earn close to $2.5 million if they can find a job that still pays those wages, and they don't end up working at Best Buy. For somebody in the 'class' of people that Rick Santorum answers to, $2.5 m is the monthly expense account. 
He's right in the sense that the middle class is rapidly disappearing. For millions of Americans it happened suddenly: the job goes to China, the pension gets stolen gets by a Private Equity firm, and then they borrow to pay for expensive retraining to get a job they can't make a living on, and often this repeated 4 or 5 times. 
For most formerly Middle Class Americans the frog boiled slowly. Wages may have stayed the same while benefits were eliminated, but inflation has tripled the cost of everything over the past 30 years while many things that are needed to have a middle class lifestyle, like healthcare and college have gone from cheap to dearly expensive. The number of jobs per household has gone from 1.1 to close to two just to keep them at the dismal place they are at.
Median household income has declined to $45,000 per year when it should be $90,000 per year to claim the middle class share of productivity gains. This is the face of austerity, there is no middle class, everybody is poor. The 'poor folks' in the gated community just burn through a lifetime of income each month, because you know times are hard.   Twitter @BruceEnberg we're all equal on twitter comrade