Tag Archive for Federal Reserve

Good night and good luck, America

I had to say a few things before this election. As I write it isn’t over yet, but whoever wins, the entire campaign will leave a lot of bad taste in many mouths.

I keep wondering how it is that one candidate for President is able to quantify how many jobs he will supposedly “create” if elected. If he truly cared about the country he’d disclose just how, and yesterday. Truth is he hasn’t got any more ability to “create” jobs than your dog. Now just where did he get that number, 12 million?

What if, just suppose that the membership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been intentionally holding back on hiring. Why would they do that? Perhaps they hate having an African-American Chief Executive. Or they simply want to be able to do whatever they like. Either way, from what I read, those who do have jobs aren’t getting raises and are just about to work themselves into the ground. Stress and burnout are really good for productivity.

Twelve million sounds like a lot. That requires growing the paycheck lines by about five per cent. Actually, I’m not an economist, but if maybe around eight million were hired in short order, making the “capitalist” candidate look pretty darned good, those mysterious “multipliers” could take care of the other four million.

I would not put it past them. The Chamber has made no secret of its disrespect for and dislike of the sitting President. And many on the “red” side of the aisle (I remember when that meant they’d be Communists) openly express their dislike for the current Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Prof. Ben Bernanke. What now?

Bernanke’s “quantitative easing” has meant a lot of companies were able to hold on when pure “market” economics would have meant doom. These moneyed conservatives hate that. They read Schumpeter. They salivate over buying up assets for pennies on the dollar. They haven’t had many opportunities to do that since 2007, and they’re unhappy. According to this way of thinking GM and Chrysler should have been on the block that way, but the Administration headed off the Indians at the pass. No wonder the candidate with Utah connections has been upset over the bailout of the car companies.

Likewise, the “failed” stimulus. Bull. Picture the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. When he grows tired or has to honor Nature’s call, he needs someone to stick his thumb in for him, or the Netherlands becomes the New Jersey shore last week. What if no one shows up? Would any Dutchman logically be unhappy if at the last minute some stranger shows up with a fresh thumb? Would anyone in Holland care very much who this new guy is? Truly, if no one fills the hole sooner or later those lowlands are gone. This is pretty much what happened starting in 2007, when that other rocket scientist from Texas sat in the White House. Was his policy misguided? No? You can’t have it both ways, pilgrim.

Onerous regulations are said to be the bane of American business now. If that were true, wouldn’t we expect to see dozens of lawsuits in federal district courts challenging every one of them? No, the Federal Register hasn’t hurt many. Businesses would apparently rather blame their own lack of innovation and creativity on the White House. If that fails, then there’s the Chinese at fault. Once in a while it might be labor unions. Or, if all else fails, there’s that tried-and-true bogeyman, the cost of money. Oops! Interest rates have been lower than a snake’s butt for so long it seems like forever. Corporations have been borrowing like crazy thanks to these tiny rates, trillions of dollars’ worth. Now, if government were run like a business, then they’d borrow and . . . Oh, fudge. There goes another mantra!

It’s sad to admit it, but the USA already has a health care system that rations service by income. Some want education to be the same. Where does that take us? Not to Canada, not to Norway, not even to Saudi Arabia. Try a place like Pakistan, or Niger. Some of these self-styled conservatives might envy Niger, because of their oil. Heck, I even see where some in Longmont have expressed envy over Firestone and Frederick. These people don’t get out much.

If voters want to buy a horse, they would almost always check its teeth. They should go a bit farther with their government. And if they are serious about having a government run like a business, they must ask themselves who benefits. If they have corporate experience, answering THAT question will be easy, and enlightening.

I wonder if Franklin Roosevelt wasn’t saved from assassination just before his first inauguration by the hand of divine intervention. FDR also avoided a coup from wealthy “businessmen” whose utterances would sound very familiar today. Then we were winners in World War II. It was fortunate for the nation that Hoover preceded FDR and not the other way round. A parallel is advocated by some today. If we get this wrong and elect a REAL non-Christian President, then what might befall us? Was Hurricane Sandy a warning? Or was it the wave one candidate needed?

Another contributor to this thread is fond of stating that the American public doesn’t like having a President smarter than they are. Well, in 2000 and 2004 they darn sure got exactly that. Now they’re uncertain, as they believe they have another one. I remember clearly during the GOP debate season (21 of them, I believe) that many “men on the street” claimed they wanted “somebody else” and not the man who was eventually nominated. Now in many cases that guy on the street is again saying, with regard to the incumbent President, I’d like to see “somebody else.” The electorate will never be happy. As for me, I am voting for the Presidential candidate who actually strikes me as having a bit of humility. This human quality will serve better than having a wallet at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In case you’re wondering, this candidate is the one with daughters and not sons.

Good luck, America.

Class warfare unabated

By Ron Forthofer
Longmont Times-Call, November 23, 2010

During the recent financial crisis, the privately controlled Federal Reserve led an effort that provided $13 trillion of taxpayer money to bail out the financial sector, which, through crimes and speculation, had almost caused the collapse the world’s financial system. Yet many of these wealthy gamblers were bailed out while the needs of the public were mostly ignored.

Warren Buffett stated it well in a Nov. 26, 2006, New York Times article : “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

During the Wall Street bailout, there was nary a word about the consequences for the deficit or long-term debt. Since then, there has been a steady drumbeat about the debt, with particular concern raised about Social Security and Medicare, two programs that greatly benefit the public.

On Feb. 18, President Obama created a commission to make recommendations on reducing the deficit and long-term debt. The co-chairmen recently presented their proposals, a few weeks before the full commission’s results are due. As expected, they laid out a proposal that mostly, but not completely, targeted programs benefiting the public. I am all for being fiscally responsible, but It needs to be done in a way that protects the public’s interest. The co-chairmen could have presented these Ideas:

• Reinstate the progressive tax levels from the Eisenhower era thus requiring that those who ‘greatly profited from the financial crimes and speculations of this decade share in the sacrifices demanded of “we the people.”
• Place fees on speculative financial activities that would raise large sums and decrease the risk of another financial disaster.
• End corporate welfare.
• Eliminate fraud and waste in military contracting.
• Reverse the wasteful privatization of the military effort and other public work.
• Greatly reduce the military budget. We need a military for defense, not for running an empire.
• End our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and pay reparations for the devastation we caused.
• Enact single-payer health care reform.

The co-chairmen could have taken on the greed, fraud and waste inherent in our corporate dominated system that benefits the few at the top, but they didn’t. Unfortunately, their proposals were not surprising. In “Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith warned that “The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

How much longer will we tolerate the transfer of wealth to the top while we are made poorer and poorer? Almost a century ago, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis warned: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Which do you want: democracy or oligarchy? ‘To get involved, call Carolyn at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, 303-444-6981.

Ron Forthofer, a retired professor of biostatistics has been a Longmont resident for 19 years.