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Volume 1-2016

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JOIN THE LIST

Use this link to add your email address to the RARWRITER Publishing Group mailing list for updates on activities associated with the Creative Culture and Revolution Culture journals, and other RARWRITER Publishing Group interests.

NEWS FEEDS

The RCJ provides RSS feeds from well-respected news organizations, giving our readers a convenient portal through which to stay abreast of world events and issues. Use the links provided. The following are on the RCJ Front Page Report homepage (scroll both columns to the right).

The New York Times

The Huffington Post

The Economist

 

These are provided on other pages within this site:

Politico

Politics Daily

Wall Street Journal

Ezra Klein's WonkBlog - Washington Post

Nuclear Threat Initiative

cnet

Wired

Variety

Rolling Stone

 

Other sites worth visiting:

Cracked.com
Political Punch (ABC News Blog)
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LIBRARY OF ARTICLES

9-11 Liberals and Salman Rushdie

Police Force "Bombing" in Iraq

Anatomy of a Screwing

Fix America Now

Iceberg Economy: How the Supply Siders are Sinking the Ship of State

Bloomberg Illustrates Dodd-Frank Regulations for Investors

DAVOS WEF Points Out Single Points of Failure in the New Global Economy

Soulless Possession of Santo Niño

What Keeps NBC's Chuck Todd Up at Night?

"King of Bain" - Documentary on Mitt Romney's Private Equity Firm Bain Capital

Robert Smigel's Lost Ode to the Evil of General Electric

Riddle This: Do Our Governmental Systems Hinder Mitigation of Harmful Influences to Our System of Government?

The Achievement Metric - Time for a New Way of Determining Public Policy and Positioning Revenue Spending

Hide Your Brains! Matthews from the Left! Gingrich from the Right! Blowhard Attack! Or, more to the point...book reviews of "JFK Elusive Hero" and "Valley Forge"

Art Sampler - An RCJ Review of Art in the Modern Period

Benicia, California Case Study in Traffic Engineering and Growth Management

Everyday Heroism - The Penn State Debacle

How to Keep Things Lousy in the USA

How Being a Socialist Became a Negative

Are You A Slave? A Brief History of the Subject Suggests "Probably"

Moses, Wall Street, Human Nature and Grover Norquist

Concepts of Resistance - The RCJ Provides a Road Map for the OWS Movement

Lance Henriksen - World's Greatest Actor in Reflective Mode

Conspiracy - A Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the New World Order

Elections 2012

What Does it Take to be President?

Rating the U.S. News Readers

The Antidote to Michelle Bachman

Ship of Fools - Why Won't We Save Ourselves?

White House Solar Bomb

What Is Happening to Us?

The Cloud - What It Is

Background on Afghanistan

Economics 101

Global Economic Risks

Islamic Definition

Middle East

Second Amendment Remedies

Sam Broussard - Republicans

Treason

Why All the Zombies?

Gun Rights

Leadership Chronicles

 

Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page

ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance" -AVAILABLE NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM AMAZON.COM. Use this link.

CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.

 

EXPLORE THE KINDLE BOOK LIBRARY

If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves at NOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.

 

 

ECONOMICS

 

General Motors Story

By RAR

The big walk away from GM's Super Bowl halftime purchase of a two-minute slot, to tout their recovery as an auto maker, was that GM is throwing their political support to the re-election of Barack Obama. This was not, of course, the real message of the GM commercial, but that was the message that the political Right came away with, and the reasons are profoundly loaded with emotional fireworks. To wit:

  • The "Halftime in America" theme closely paralleled perhaps the most heralded GOP commercial spot of all time, Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America". It even begins with a new day dawning and it is filled with the same romantic portrayal of American ideals, which is stuff the Right feels it owns.

  • The GM spot was delivered by Clint Eastwood, the former Mayor of Carmel, California, who is either a Republican or a Libertarian, depending upon the issue, but either way carries the same sort of weight that the Republican's late icon Charlton Heston once represented and, like Heston, Eastwood is supposed to be theirs, not some suck-up to the current Democratic president.

  • The GM yeah-us-yeah-America spot was shown at the front-end of a presidential election year, and seemed to break a long-standing tradition of corporations remaining neutral regarding candidate endorsements.  This, of course, comes after some very public statements by GM executives recognizing the gratis of the Obama Administration, and the anti-bail out rhetoric of the political right.

Most galling of all, to Right Wing politicos, was that the commercial seemed to them to imply that big government bailouts of struggling corporations work!

That last one bugs the Right because whether or not that's true depends upon whether you think your job was saved by the $85 billion the Federal government poured into GM, in early 2009, to keep the company afloat when it appeared that parts manufacturers and the entire supply chain was on the verge of collapse. The Canadian government also kicked in another $10 billion for GM's Canada Division. Today, GM is touted as the number one auto manufacturer in the world, regaining a title it had relinquished to Japanese automakers for some time. GM announced $8 billion in net profits in the last year, and has its eye on $10 billion a year, heretofore unimaginable.

The Obama Administration has made much of the fact that the loans to GM have been paid back in full, which would make the story one of heroic grandeur for Obama, savior of the American Way of Life, were it more than technically true.

Only $8.7 billion of the $85 billion loaned to GM were marked as repayable loans (and only $4.7 billion of the $10 billion loaned by the Canadians). Indeed, GM has completely returned that money.

The majority of that huge bailout went in share of GM stock, following a government-coordinated corporate bankruptcy. Of the new stock, sixty-one percent was purchased by the Federal Treasury, making every taxpaying U.S. citizen a shareholder in GM. (Currently the Treasury owns about one-quarter of GM's stock.) Some would call this the nationalizing of a major industry and a key stepping stone on the path to a Socialist government.

It is sort of hard to argue with that socialism charge, which of course comes from right wingers for whom socialism is a blood vessel-bursting boogie man, because the once-again wealthy GM has shown little inclination to relieve the American taxpayer-shareholders of their economic association with GM.

According to December 2012 reports, the U.S. Treasury owns 500 million shares of GM stock, which is valued at roughly $10.8 billion.

You will notice that the current value of the Treasury's stock in GM, plus the amount GM repaid as loans from the Treasury, don't equal anything near $85 billion.

What happened to the rest of the money?

It disappeared with the falling value of GM stock, trading at $25.95 and trending up at the time of this report (February 9, 2012). Treasury paid $33 per share at the Initial Public Offering in November 2010, so while the value keeps changing the U.S. taxpayer is still on the hook for approximately $20 billion in the GM deal. The Treasury has also written off $1.8 billion in debts from the "old Chrysler" division of GM, and they took a beating on the sale to Fiat of Chrysler shares owned by the U.S. and Canadian governments.

Here's the kicker: GM is sitting on $33 billion in cash - enough to buyout the shares owned by the U.S. taxpayer and make the deal square - but it will not make that move, offering a couple explanations. One is that they are holding on for the value of the stock to rise, and it has shown an upward movement since the end of 2012, despite the apparent failure of the Chevrolet Volt, which had been heralded as an important GM entry in the alternative energy market.

The other is that GM is struggling to fund a $128 billion pension plan, and thus has another incentive to hold onto that Treasury-owned stock for as long as possible, hoping for the company to gain value. Spots like "Halftime in America" cannot hurt.

GM chief executive Dan Akerson has reportedly offered a buyback to the government, which Treasury declined on an investment bet. Credit Suisse predicts that GM shares will rise to $32 by the November 2012 election. But what rankles the Right is that the Obama Administration won't sell the GM shares because it is loath to spoil its GM success story by having to report what the level of losses would actually be if the shares were sold back to GM at their current market value. Otherwise, GM looks a lot better on TV than it looks on paper.

The Obama Administration strategy really represents a high-stakes political-economic poker game using taxpayer money. And it is far worse than it sounds in that the $33 per share the Treasury paid in the IPO carries an actual break-even price of $53 per share. While GM's stock value has been rising, it has been downgraded significantly since the fourth quarter of 2011, when analysts thought it would go as high as $42 per share, still well below the break-even mark.

This is the basic truth underlying the Right's rage at the "Halftime in America" spot. It is warm and fuzzy, but has little to do with the reality of our nation's economic recovery.

GM

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Greed Greater than Rome's

An estimated seventy percent of the population of Rome were "slaves", in some technical or real sense. Some were teachers, artisans, scribes, and some were just doing hard labor. The glory of Rome was built on the backs of exploited people, and yet the Romans were exceedingly willing make citizens of "non-Romans". The slave masters allowed some of their chattel to buy their freedom.

However hierarchical and inequitable ancient Rome may have been, the infamous greed of the Roman elite in no way compared to that of our current Master of the Universe, defined as the investment class globally. In ancient Rome, the top three percent of the population controlled only 16 percent of the total wealth. In the United States today, the top three percent control 40 percent of the nation's wealth, representing an inequality in distribution of wealth greater than that of half the nations of Africa.                                                           (121211)


 

 

DAVOS: World Economic Forum

Single Points of Failure

Occupy Protesters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.▬►

 

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Bad Moon Rising

Congressional Leaders Skirting Congressional Process

Continued from the Front Page...


The debt ceiling debacle demonstrated a fundamental principle at work in the U.S. these days: people standing revolutionary-like on principle regardless of its application to reality. Even Grover Norquist, whose sophomoric oath to never raise taxes, contrived when he was barely out of high school but now 25 years later a "contract" held with the majority of those elected to Congress, found the idea of allowing the U.S. to default on its loans to be ludicrous.

The newly imagined "Super Committee" would be expected to create legislation that would be more likely to pass votes in the House and Senate, partly because the concept promises a 50-50 balance in spending cuts to Military and Domestic programs. The Democrats vow to protect popular programs like Medicare and Social Security.

The problem is in that principle referenced above - people standing revolutionary-like on principle regardless of its application to reality - because pull-backs in federal funding of any kind means fewer dollars in the system of commerce, which means less purchasing power, lower demand, cutbacks in production and supply, reduced tax revenues, and somehow this is supposed to eventually erase a $14 trillion debt.

The laws governing Economics, on this level, is about as intractable as the laws of physics. Reducing dollars in the economic system reduces the size of the system, which shrinks the economic prospects for us all.

Currently the U.S. government is operating at about 25 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product while bringing in only 15 percent of GDP in revenues. That is a gap with plenty of historic precedent that could be closed, as it has been in the past, by two mechanisms: Federal spending on job-producing infrastructure projects, which are in huge need of attention anyway; and levying higher taxes on people with incomes disproportionate to those of the rest of society.

There is no real argument about this among thoughtful people. The problems are clear, the solutions are tried and true. And yet, as we see with legislation on climate change and health care and a plethora of other key issues, the power of simple facts are failing to hold sway.
Somehow, through an extraordinary warp in the fabric of space beneath President Barack Obama's crotch, a Democratic majority has shrunk from both houses of Congress plus the presidency, to the presidency and the Senate, and after the 2012 elections probably nothing at all. All of this while polls seems to indicate that the majority of public opinion is with the Democrats on most key issues.

How can it be? Why have Democrats, under Obama's leadership, been so utterly incapable of playing their upper hand? Why have they ceded control of every negotiation? I'm not sure that anyone quite understands this. For some reason a cancer has matured in the system and infiltrated the brain. As a result of its illogical reaction to stimuli from a variety of sources, the body is seizing. Under the weight of this shaking, our governmental structures are crumbling, brick by brick. In the process, an odd light of moon is being allowed to shine on what is presently inside, and it is making everything seem pretty scary.

 

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Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers Discusses Confidence in an Economy and the Need for Federal Stimulus Spending

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted from a Reuters news release. The RCJ does not typically reprint articles but this piece by Summers is important, largely because it seems to be falling on deaf ears in the Obama Administration, which is loathe to mount yet another stimulus package after blowing so much borrowed money on financial industry bailouts. As Summers' article points out, over-confidence created the economic overreach that further created the housing bubble that burst in 2006. A resulting lack of public confidence can create a long period of recession, such as that experienced in Japan after a similar economic bubble, and the only way to avert a catastrophic lost decade of American economic vitality is to rebuild public confidence through job-producing stimulus programs. The obvious place to spend is on the U.S.' aged and ragged infrastructure. And, as Summers points out, the time to do it is now, when interest rates are at historic lows.

By Lawrence H. Summers

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 12, 2011 (Reuters) - Even with the massive 2008-2009 policy effort that successfully prevented financial collapse and depression, the United States is now halfway to a lost economic decade.

Over the last five years, from the first quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2011, the U.S. economy's growth rate averaged less than 1 percent a year, about like Japan during the period when its bubble burst. At the same time, the fraction of the population working has fallen from 63.1 percent to 58.4 percent, reducing the number of those with jobs by more than 10 million. The fraction of the population working remains almost exactly at its recession trough and recent reports suggest that growth is slowing.

Beyond the lack of jobs and incomes, an economy producing below its potential for a prolonged interval sacrifices its future. To an extent that once would have been unimaginable, new college graduates are this month moving back in with their parents because they have no job or means of support. Strapped school districts across the country are cutting out advanced courses in math and science and in some cases only opening school four days a week. And reduced incomes and tax collections at present and in the future are the most important cause of unacceptable budget deficits at present and in the future.

You cannot prescribe for a malady unless you diagnose it accurately and understand its causes. Recessions are times when there is too little demand for the products of businesses, and so they fail to employ all those who want to work. That the problem in a period of high unemployment like the present one is a lack of business demand for employees, not any lack of desire to work is all but self-evident. It is demonstrated by the observations that (i) the propensity of workers to quit jobs and the level of job openings are at near-record low levels; (ii) rises in nonemployment have taken place among essentially all demographic skill and education groups; and (iii) rising rates of profit and falling rates of wage growth suggest that it is employers, not workers, who have the power in almost every market.

I belabor the idea that lack of demand is the fundamental cause of economies producing below their potential because the failure to recognize the centrality of demand can have catastrophic consequences. But for Hitler and the military buildup up he caused, FDR would have left office in early 1941 a failure, with American unemployment above 15 percent and with the recovery promise of the New Deal shattered by the premature attempt in 1937 to reassert the traditional virtues of deficit reduction and inflation control. When I entered the Clinton administration in 1993, it was generally believed that Japan had the potential to grow its economy by 4 percent a year going forward, enough to have doubled output from that time until now. Instead output has barely grown, a consequence of the post bubble stagnation that Japan suffered.

A sick economy constrained by demand works very differently than a normal one. Measures that usually promote growth and job creation can have little effect or can actually backfire. When demand is constraining an economy, there is little to be gained from increasing potential supply.

In a recession, if more people seek to borrow less or save more, there is reduced demand and hence fewer jobs. Training programs or measures to increase work incentives for those with both high and low incomes may affect who gets the jobs, but in a demand-constrained economy will not affect the total number of jobs. Most paradoxically, measures that increase productivity and efficiency, if they do not also translate into increased demand, may actually reduce the number of people working as the level of total output remains demand constrained.

Traditionally, the American economy has recovered robustly from recession as demand has been quickly renewed. Within a couple of years after the only two deep recessions of the post-World War II period -- those of 1974-1975 and 1980-1982 -- the economy was growing in the range of 6 percent or more -- rates that seem inconceivable today. Why?

Inflation dynamics defined the traditional post-war American business cycle. Recoveries continued and sometimes even accelerated until they were murdered by the Federal Reserve with inflation control as the motive. When the Fed became concerned about inflation accelerating, usually too late, it raised interest rates and crunched credit, stifling housing, business investment, and consumer durable purchases and causing the economy to go into recession. After inflation slowed, rapid recovery propelled by dramatic reductions in interest rates and a backlog of deferred investment was almost inevitable.

Our current situation is very different. With more prudent monetary policies, expansions are no longer cut short by rising inflation and the Fed hitting the brakes. All three American expansions since Paul Volcker brought inflation back under control have run long. They end after a period of overconfidence drives the prices of capital assets too high and the apparent increases in wealth give rise to excessive borrowing, lending and spending.

After bubbles burst, there is no pent-up desire to invest. Instead, there is a glut of capital caused by overinvestment during the period of confidence: vacant houses, malls without tenants, and factories without customers. At the same time, consumers discover that they have less wealth than they expected, less collateral to borrow against and are under more pressure than they expected from their creditors. Little wonder that private spending collapses and that post-bubble economic downturns often last more than a decade and are only ended through external events like military buildups.

Pressure on private spending is enhanced by structural changes. Take as a vivid example the publishing industry. As local bookstores have given way to megastores, megastores have given way to Internet retailers, and Internet retailers have given way to ebooks, two things have happened. The economy's productive potential has increased and its ability to generate demand that fulfills the potential has been compromised as resources have been transferred from middle-class retail and wholesale workers with a high propensity to spend up the scale to those with a much lower propensity to spend. And the need for capital investment in distribution networks has come down.

What then is to be done? This is no time for fatalism or for traditional political agendas that the two parties have pushed in more normal times. The central irony of financial crisis is that while it is caused by too much confidence, borrowing and lending, and spending, it is only resolved by increases in confidence, borrowing and lending, and spending. It follows that the central objective of national economic policy until sustained recovery is firmly established must be increasing confidence, borrowing and lending, and spending. Unless and until this is done, other policies, no matter how apparently appealing or effective in normal times, will be futile at best.

We should recognize that it is a false economy to defer infrastructure maintenance and replacement, and instead take advantage of a moment when 10-year interest rates are below 3 percent and construction unemployment approaches 20 percent to expand infrastructure investment.

It is far too soon for financial policy to shift toward preventing future bubbles and possible inflation and away from assuring adequate demand. The underlying rate of inflation is still trending downward, and the problems of insufficient borrowing and investing exceed any problems of overconfidence. The Dodd-Frank legislation is a broadly appropriate response to the hugely important challenge of preventing any recurrence of the events of 2008. It needs to be vigorously implemented. But under-, not over-confidence is the problem of the moment and needs to be the focus of policy.

Most important, the fiscal debate needs to take on board the reality that the greatest threat to the nation's creditworthiness is a sustained period of slow growth that, as in southern Europe, causes debt-GDP ratios to soar. This means that essential discussions about medium-term measures to restrain spending and raise revenues need to be coupled with a focus on near-term growth. Without the payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance negotiated by the president and Congress last fall we might well be looking today at the possibility of a double dip. Substantial withdrawal of fiscal support for demand at the end of 2011 would be premature. Fiscal support should be continued and indeed expanded by providing the payroll tax cut to employers as well as employees. Raising the share of the payroll tax cut from 2 percent to 3 percent would be desirable as well. At a near-term cost of a little over $200 billion, these measures offer the prospect of significant improvement in economic performance over the next few years translating into significant increases in the tax base and reductions in necessary government outlays.

It is appropriate that policy in other dimensions be informed by the shortage of demand that is a defining characteristic of our economy. For example, the Obama administration is doing important work in promoting export growth by modernizing export controls, promoting U.S. products abroad and reaching and enforcing trade agreements. Much more could be done through changes in visa policy, for example, to promote exports of tourism as well as education and health services. In a similar vein, recent presidential directives regarding relaxation of inappropriate regulatory burdens should be rigorously implemented to boost confidence.

Perhaps the most fundamental strength of the United States is its resilience. We averted Depression by acting decisively in 2008 and 2009. Now we can avert a lost decade by recognizing current economic reality.

(Lawrence H. Summers is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University and a former U.S. Treasury secretary. He speaks and consults widely on economic and financial issues.) (Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters

 

By RAR

As this year's World Economic Forum (WEF) drew to a close on Saturday (01/28/12), the world's wealthiest people were expressing concern about the global financial situation. Keynote speaker and Hong Kong business leader Donald Tsang stated flatly - "I've never been as scared as now about the world, what is happening in Europe." 

What is happening in Europe is the collapse of the economy of Greece, despite several European Economic Union (EEU) plans to keep the country from defaulting on its government debts. This would almost certainly set off a domino effect putting the wobbly economies of Italy and Spain into default.

The problem, as Tsang states, is that "We do not know how deep this hole will be when the whole thing implodes on us." And he adds: "Nobody is immune."

INDICTMENT OF IN-SOLIDARITY: That last warning shot ("Nobody is immune") is an indictment of a world economic "community" that let Asian economies, that bubbled and then imploded in 1990s, struggle out of disaster on their own, a memory for Tsang that has left scars. Tsang's point to the economic leaders of the world was that "In Europe now, you need decisive action, you need overkill. You need to inspire confidence. That confidence must come in the decisive action of government, working together. And do it quickly."

Tsang is freaked out because the 17-nation EEU has not come up with a bailout scheme of sufficient proportion to do more than prop up Greece to stall its complete collapse. It turns out that the 17 nations -- each with their own histories, cultures and, previous to the invention of the "Euro", their own currencies -- are remarkably reluctant to suddenly begin acting as one. They are reluctantly committed to the promise of association with a large, benefit-sharing union, but not so much to the responsibility that membership confers.

A big part of the reason for that is that all of these nations are in trouble themselves, and while many are not in the desperate economic conditions of Greece, Italy and Spain, that are also not really in a strong enough economic position to help.

The governments of the world are at cross purposes, and sharing only one common trait: they are no longer in control of their fates.

CORPORATIZATION:  The world economy is staggeringly different now from even a time in history as recent as the 1990s. The global financial system is now so interconnected that any protective buffers enjoyed by the earlier, smaller economies of individual nations are largely gone.

Cato Institute associate Tom G. Palmer has notably defined globalization as "the diminution or elimination of state-enforced restrictions on exchanges across borders and the increasingly integrated and complex global system of production and exchange that has emerged as a result."

Otherwise put, we are now realizing the early harvests of a global deregulation that has allowed wealthy corporations to shift their jobs and accounting practices to those parts of the world that ensure the best return for their investors without regard for national allegiance. Government, the mantra goes, are intrusive and burdensome and do not produce economic benefits in the form of jobs, only treasury-draining social welfare.

Government debates aside, investors and consumers have become intoxicated with the products of the digital age, the existence of which are reinventing the way users interact with one another and manage their affairs. To make this happen, the corporate giants have set price points on products that can only be made profitable by minimizing labor and materials overheads, which are achievable only by outsourcing to low-cost manufacturers in Asia and other developing nations.

That price-pointing factor, which makes it possible for the working poor of the developed world to justify the purchase of iPhones and other electronic products, also makes it impossible for more than a few companies to compete, effectively creating a monopoly on whole groups of products that are now indispensable in the age the products themselves have created. This is true not only for electronics, but for brand-name consumer products in general.

This has been a neat trick of commercial evolution that is having devastating effects on the world it is reshaping, as might be expected when changes are taking place with rapidity unparalleled in all of human history.   

ECONOMIC IRONY: While the perceptions of most people would be that the world of today has gotten smaller, and people have probably become more sensitized to the living conditions of populations around the world, this has not translated into government policies that could be construed as responsive to the global community.

Quite the contrary, stewardship has been rested from governments by virtue of their inability to finance fiduciary burdens. Tax revenues have collapsed with global deregulation, and with them have collapsed the power of governments to do anything other than engage in conflict. With control of the economy ceded to international corporate powers, building weapons and putting poor people in uniforms is about the only certain job creation scheme that governments have left at their disposal, and it is among the last available expressions of nationalism.

The world seems on a collision course with itself, and in a period in which the temptation to isolate personal interests, from the ravages of a world beyond control, is strong indeed.

Deregulation has allowed this transition of power from governments to a few wealthy corporations, and a relative handful of ultra-wealthy stakeholders (the Davos WEF folks). The fruits of deregulation are a series of single point failures, put in place by the consolidation of wealth into a very few bank accounts worldwide - and they are not the bank accounts of the people viz a vie their governments.

As Donald Tsang ranted (some say) in his WEF address, the output of globalization confers no protection for anyone. He wondered aloud, as reported by The Huffington Post, about the health of financial institutions that trade with Hong Kong's banks and the potential for trouble rippling out from the Euro zone.

Will governments fall one by one? First Greece, then Italy, then Spain. Will it mean trouble for leveraged investors in Hong Kong? And where will it stop? Or will it stop at all?

Perhaps the "1 Percent" are remaking the world to their liking, paying believers and hucksters on all sides of the political aisle to flout their philosophy that promises that some will be kings, even as the well-being of most of us will continue to decline. As Tsang pointedly discovered, individual actors are not inclined to come to the aid of other actors, particularly if not doing anything, like sharing their debt load, yields a perceived advantage over the distressed.

Corporations are not really people, that's what governments are. It is people who are in trouble in Greece and Italy and Spain, and we live in a time out of sync with human need, and more in line with the needs of "the job creators".

They are like gods to us now, that jobs are so few and mean so much. We'll work for half of what we used to, if that's what it will take to just be employed. And we will be employed, when finally wages have been reduced to the point that it will be cheaper and more cost effective for corporations to bring their manufacturing operations back home, where there is cheap labor to exploit. And once government protections have been so eviscerated that corporations are free to behave as they want.

 

How the Financial Markets Work

 A video primer from www.gnutrade.com  

 

 

 

 

 

Dodd-Frank: Financing By the Rules

A Graphic explanation of what all the regulatory fuss is about. Bloomberg/Business Week came up with this handy guide.

 

 

©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), August, 2016

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