Archive for economy

Hardball Time

Posted in economics, politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 9, 2009 by vagabondsaint

So, this Senate stimulus package.

Leading economists say that the cuts made to appease 4 moderate Republicans could very well be disastrous to our economy.  You know, economists?  People who have chosen to spend their lives studying the economy, as opposed to being politicians?

I’m going to say this one more time, to Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration:

Fuck the Republicans.  You have majorities in the House and the Senate.  You do not need their support.  If they want to filibuster the stimulus package, let them.  That delay will most likely harm our economy further if they choose to do so, but that’s their decision and you can be sure they will suffer the consequences of it.  They can read the reports of the same economists that I have, and if they do so (it’s called research, and I would think it’s what any smart politician would do when confronted with an issue they know little about) and still oppose an expanded stimulus based on party principle, then they’ve proven that they care more about sticking to outmoded, obsolete, foolish economic theories that run contrary to empirical evidence than they do the American people, and they do not deserve consideration, appeasement, or votes.

Basically, run the package Obama wants to run.  Remove these idiotic cuts and use your majorities to steamroll the opposition.  The GOP is a bunch of small, selfish, petty people, clinging to a unrealistic worldview, and they need to suffer the consequences of their ridiculous obstinancy to face reality.  Plow them under now so something better can grow in their place, and stop enabling this childish, foolish behaviour from them.  Please.  Remember, these people celebrated not voting for the stimulus bill in the House.  What kind of bullshit is that?

Oh, and a personal note to former Minnesota Norm Coleman, whose legal challenges of Al Franken’s victory are keeping Franken from being seated in the US Senate:  Listen, dick.  If God wanted you to serve, you’d be serving.  You’re not.  Take the fucking hint, jerkhole.

VS – 2.9.09

Campbell’s Soup And Meltdown Stew

Posted in economics, media failure, politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 25, 2008 by vagabondsaint

If, like me, you’re a bit worried about the impending meltdown of the American financial system, worry no more:  someone has a solution!

Unfortunately, it’s Sweden.

The Swedish faced a similar economic crisis in 1992, and dealt with it in a way that returned the grand majority of cash to the taxpayers and tightened up their banking industry.  By draining funds from shareholders first, forcing banks to write down losses, taking ownership of banks, returning the profits of distressed asset sales to the taxpayers, and eventually selling their shares in the banks, the Swedish government turned their economy around at very little cost to the taxpayer.

I say it’s unfortunate that Sweden has that solution in its history not because I have anything against the Swedish.  How could I have anything against the homeland of the Swedish Bikini Team?  It’s unfortunate because we in this country (America) have an administration in office that lacks the smarts to learn from its own mistakes, let alone the wisdom to learn from those of others.

Please, Sweden, send your ambassadors into the White House.  Let them explain to George Dubya and Barack “BS – for Black Superman” Obama and John “BS – for exactly what you think it stands for” McCain how your country saved itself from a financial meltdown.  Maybe they’ll listen, and whichever one shows the wisdom to learn from your mistakes (hint: it won’t be the white guys) is the one that needs to lead this country.

In other news. . .

I am gaining more and more respect for CNN’s Campbell Brown as this campaign goes on.  She’s been ranting like, well, any sane person would in this election season, and I gotta admit, I like it.  Let’s talk a walk through her best recent rants:

Here’s Campbell Brown railing against the GOP campaign’s effort to keep Sarah Palin away from the media:

And here she goes after Bush and Paulson:

And let’s not forget how she made McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds look even more ridiculous than his name does:

Ah, Campbell Brown.  The hearty soup of your rants is a welcome break from the watery gruel of other cable news correspondents.  Keep speaking out and speaking up; you speak for and to a segment of the population that desperately needs to be heard in the media.

VS – 09.25.08

Wait, What?

Posted in economics, politics, war with tags , , , , , on July 23, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I know, I skipped blogging last week.  My bad.  At least I used the time productively, to make a shiny new banner!

So, in the two weeks since my last column, some things have happened, I’ve heard.  I do want to catch my loyal reader up on some of those things, so I’ll start. . .oh. . .right here:

1.  The American Economy, or, The Audacity of a Dope

As I learned from watching The Daily Show, on July 15th, at 10:20 AM, Somehow-Still-President Bush gave a press conference on the economy. In case you’re too broke to pay attention to the article, I’ll sum up his speech for you:  he took the opportunity to blame Democrats for our weak economy, urge Congress to pass his spending bills and what amounts to a bailout package for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (while also saying “I don’t think the government ought to be involved in bailing out companies.”  Little disconnect there?)  and again press for allowing offshore drilling and Alaskan drilling, things that the American people have said time and again that they do not want.  His speech was optimistic about the economy while acknowledging the “difficult time” that American families going through right now.  That’s what he called it; a “difficult time.”  I think the President has “misunderestimated” the problem.

The really interesting thing about this press conference is that the President gave one at all, since he is notorious for not speaking directly with the press.  But that day was a special occasion.  Why?

Because on July 15, at 10:20 AM, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke was testifying before Congress and giving a very very different view of the economy.  Bernanke was pessimistic and, while he carefully avoided actually saying the word “recession,” he did say that all Americans should “lube up and bend over; we’re pretty much fucked.”

Okay, he didn’t really say that, but he might as well have.  He was so frank and honest about the situation in his testimony, it wouldn’t have been surprising at all if he’d said that.

Apparently Mr. Bernanke didn’t get the administrations memo about speaking optimistically when it comes to the economy, as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and SEC Chairman Christopher Cox did.  In their testimonies, they praised and supported Bush’s bailout plans and spoke a bit more optimistically than Bernanke did.

Hmmmmm.  So Bernanke goes out and gives a more honest view of the economy, and somehow the President gives a rare press conference at the exact same time?  Schedule mixup or deliberate attempt to draw attention away from the truth?  You make the call (hint: deliberate attempt).

2.  War – What Is It Good For?  Borrowing Tons of Money From Foreign Governments, Apparently

How’s that tax rebate – sorry, “economic stimulus” check feel?  Pretty good, yah?  While I’m talking about taxes, have you noticed that for the entirety of the Iraq War, we’ve had no tax increases?  It’s the first war we’ve fought that didn’t come with a tax increase, and in fact has has two tax rebates!  Our government must be doing pretty good with its money, right?

Wrong, wrong, so fucking wrong!  If “right” was sex with a supermodel, you’d be in the bathroom of a gay bar with your pants down, your mouth open, and surrounded by the Village People; that’s how wrong you’d be!

Our government has been busy borrowing money from numerous other countries both to pay for the war and to be able to give those tax rebates.  While I can understand wanting to tell the truth of Obama’s remarks, I must admit that I do find it a bit alarming that China (didn’t we get busted for spying on them a few years back?  Haven’t their spies in this country been busted recently?) and Saudi Arabia (I really don’t understand why people seem to keep forgetting that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, 50 of the Gitmo detainees are Saudis, and bin Laden himself has ties to the Saudi royal family?  With friends like those. . .) are two of the top three lenders to the US.  That kinda bugs me, considering both countries have bad recent track records with human rights issues.  Sayeth the Bush:  “We remember those seeking religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, where the religious police continue to arrest non-Muslims, yet where we also believe reforms pledged by King Abdullah can bring real change.”

Wait, what?  So our President is wagging the finger of his right hand at these countries, while eagerly taking their money with the left?  The words don’t match the actions here, and when that happens, always go with the actions. And our President’s actions send a clear message:  we don’t really care about your policies or how badly you treat people, or what you do to and against us, as long as you give us money.

Wow. . .our administration has become a bunch of crack whores.

3.  Barack Obama’s “See, The Rest Of The World Likes Me” World Tour

Presumptive Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama (damn, that’s long) has left the country!

That would be good news for the Republicans, except for two things:  one, he took all the major network news anchors with him, and two, he’s coming back.

It seems to be a fun trip for Obama, though; he’s visited Iraq (squashing McCain’s criticism of him for never having been there), and is currently in The West Bank, meeting jubilant crowds everywhere (Barack:  Bigger Than The Beatles?).  Apparently he represents a great hope for the American people, at least in the eyes of foreign people, who, it must be noted, get better and more accurate news than we do here.

Meanwhile, in the US, presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain got an essay rejected from the New York Times, which had published an essay by Senator Obama only a week before.  While some are saying that the NYT is showing a bias by doing so, I have to say that, having read both pieces, I would have made the same decision to publish Obama’s “Here’s How We Can Fix Our Problems In Iraq” piece and not publish McCain’s “Barack Obama is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong” piece.  Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer substance and solutions over point-scoring and the same naysaying and smokescreens that the current adminsitration has become so adept at using.  Again, maybe that’s just me.

I think that’s me caught up now. . .I swear, every time I have to get caught up, I get outrage fatigue..

VS – 7.23.08

Power-Up, Part One

Posted in economics, politics with tags , , , , , , on May 28, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Who has power?

Is the power in this country concentrated in the greedy claws of megalithic corporations? Or in the 1% of the population that controls 50% of the material wealth in this country? Maybe it’s in the hands of our elected representatives? Our law-enforcement professionals? Blackwater mercenaries?

Well, it’s all of those. And none of the above.

As Americans, we live in a country (America) that is truly a democracy. That means that we vote to show our choices, and the choices made by a majority determine our leadership, political, corporate, or even socially. But we don’t surrender our power when we make those choices. We retain it as the ability to choose again at a later time without warning.

“But wait,” I hear someone saying, possibly only in my head, “that covers elections. We don’t have that much power between elections, do we?”

Well, yes. Yes, we do. We have that power constantly.

In this country, we vote not only by ballot, but also by our dollars, our thematic support, our philosophical support, and our verbal support, among other methods. When we spend money on a particular product, we’re voting for that company, above their competition. That empowers the corporation whose product I purchased, and whom I have just given my support. I’m not just giving them a dollar; I’m giving them the amount of work I used to obtain said dollar. I’m paying all of their corporate salaries, along with many many other people, by purchasing that product, and conversely not paying their competition. Purchasing is a thumbs-up, not purchasing is a thumbs-down. That’s voting by dollars, in a nutshell.

But there is a caveat: our dollar does not go to that company attached to a specfic reason that we chose that product over another. For example, I might purchase Colgate toothpaste because I like the taste better, Colgate was on sale that day, I liked the packaging better, whatever. But that information is not relayed to Colgate-Palmolive Corporation, which makes Colgate; all they know is that I gave them my money. (Well, actually, I gave my money to the store that I bought it from; Colgate-Palmolive has already made their money on the wholesale end, and. . .you know what? I’ll do retail economics in another column.) By me giving them my money, I have given them support for their company as a whole, whether I know exactly what they do or not. That means that if they make sex toys for the bestiality crowd, if they use dwarf-slave labour in their fluoride mines, if they treat animals inhumanely, or even if they somehow have to strangle kittens to make their toothpaste, I have just given my support of those activities.

Likewise, if I cast my vote for a particular candidate, I have no way of letting that candidate know which issues I support them on, and which I disagree with them about. Yes, I can email them or write to them or whatever, but what, really, are the chances of the representative actually reading them? There are polls as well, but the success of polls depends on how much the people they pertain to care about them. It’s a poll, not an election (and Vice-President Dick Cheney has stated in interviews that he does not care what polls say. . .way to listen to the American people, jerkhole). All any candidate knows is that they got my vote, and whether it’s because I support their stand on abortion, gay marriage, fiscal reform, or only allowing midgets to breed while in captivity is not known to them.

The problem comes in when people start believing that, by giving their dollar or their vote, they have given away their power, or that someone who has acquired a large number of votes or dollars has, in effect, all the power and the people, the individuals, have no power left to them at all.

Only an optimistic State Of The Union address could be further from the truth.

More later. . .