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Number of posts: 198
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Posts by Monica Smith:
Instructions From the Top
*+-For some reason, a letter from the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation was characterized as having been received by NBC News, as if it were some sort of privileged communication. In fact, the thing was a press release and rather obviously designed to change the conversation about the Heritage Foundation from trying to defend the indefensible “study” of Hispanic intellectual insufficiency to food stamps, a real two-fer issue.
*+-Yes, labor force participation is back to what it was when the contributions of most women to the economy weren’t counted. That people aren’t getting paid doesn’t mean they aren’t contributing. Sometimes it’s just a counting problem — an accounting problem.
Actually, there are many accounting problems. One has been discovered and and is now being addressed and will result in a revision to the GDP. That is, the Gross Domestic Product is going to take into account what dollars people invest in creative endeavors that don’t manifest in material products –
*+-The Lord of Little Rock, Arkansas is, of course, Warren Amerine Stephens, the head of Stephens, Inc, the premier private equity firm not located on Wall Street. That he’s hosting the Western Amateur Championship (July 29 – Aug 4) at the Alotian Golf Club in Roland, Arkansas should not come as a surprise. One suspects that Stephens is proud of being an amateur himself, someone who does what he does out of love. At least that’s what I get when I peruse this interview he gave to inARkansas.com last year.
Flower to the People
*+-We, the people of the United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, have been issued a patent for Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. According to the abstract:
Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases…
*+-I’m stealing this title and part of the post from David Waldman at DailyKos because it is just too perfect. Guns fail — never the people in whose hands they end up. Can we say “false attribution of agency”?
This week’s summary:
Among this weeks GunFAILers, we have three who shot themselves removing their guns from their cars, which I suppose lends support to the guns = cars crowd.
Big Fat Juicy Ones
Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
I think I’ll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones,
Eensie weensy squeensy ones,
See how they wiggle and squirm!
That nursery rhyme is about as good as any to explain how the Sequester, with which we are now wrestling, came about. The Congressional leadership had a hissy fit and the Sequester is the result.
*+-Perhaps that’s the problem. The Cons, people stuck in an antagonistic stance, can’t differentiate between words that sound so much alike. Or, they don’t want to be asked, tasked or taxed because they can’t respond. Poor Boehner. His “no, you can’t” rant really was more of a plaint, an expression of his own frustration, discovered in the other because the self is unknown.
No wonder “Yes, we can” was such a frightening anthem. It hit the nail on the head of the Cons’ problem — endemic incompetence.
God & Taxes
*+-First, let me assert that money, like any other tool (a hammer, for example) is worthless, unless and until it is taken in hand and put to use. To be more precise, money is a measuring tool, at the same time that it is symbolic of energy expended and value accumulated. In that sense, money somewhat resembles a mound of oyster shells or cache of flint flakes, which attest to the activities of many collectors or one collector over a long period of time. Or the collection may just be evidence of a failure to dispose of waste. Regardless, just as a collection of detritus is tangible evidence of activities which occurred in the past, so is money…
Behind the Gates
*+-The perception that modern day crooks, in addition to having figured out how to manipulate the law to their advantage, are ostentatious came to me overnight. I suppose it’s a consequence of tracing how and by whom some of our so-called “gated communities” were acquired and developed to hide what are surely ill-gotten gains.
Perhaps it is unfair to suggest that medical doctors, when they are lured into purchasing building lots on the edges of marshes and meandering streams, nature’s nurseries for crustaceans and fish, are investing ill-gotten gains.
Laundering More Than Sin
*+-e IOR is, apparently, not a believer. The IOR, in case that acronym is unfamiliar, is the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, the Vatican’s bank. That’s right, the place where the Church of Rome collects money is where the work of religion originates. “In God We Trust”
Anyway, the Vatican’s bank is in bad odor with the Bank of Italy, as the Economist reports
*+-It has been reported that Congress has stymied research on gun violence since 1996 by explicitly prohibiting the spending of dollars for such research by the Centers for Disease Control. Given that one of the main Congressional obligations is to “provide for the general welfare, the wanton killing of thirty thousand persons a year, most in the prime of life, coming up with a sensible strategy to prevent that would seem a reasonable thing to do. But, the Congress taking the opposite tack is actually quite rational.
Exploitation Or Slaughter
*+-The Australian journalist, John Bailey, came upon the story of Sally Miller while he was researching the laws of slavery in the United States. He found the story of Sally Miller, supposedly a German child who had been sold into slavery so compelling, that he decided to use her as an exemplar of what he’d discovered about the law and tell her story, which had been publicized in many pamphlets in the early 19th Century when the action took place, from a slightly different perspective. Legal principles do drive the tale.
Full Faith & Credit
*+-We are agitating over figments of the imagination.
We already know Obama loves him a kerfuffle. The real issue is how to get Congress to realize that their job is to spend or dispense money. Managing the currency is one of their prime responsibilities. Scrimping and hoarding is not managing. The Congress hoarding dollars is not only unseemly, but detrimental because the federal government is the only source and without money to mediate transactions, we are left with taking things on faith.
*+-America’s State Parks Association is sponsoring a first day hike in which all fifty states will participate. Texas, being a big state, has forty five venues on offer, while Georgia is promoting twenty sites and Missouri is offering programs at thirteen parks. Meanwhile, poor Louisiana seems able to manage guided hikes at just two of its parks. But, they are free.
*+-It really doesn’t matter, from an economic perspective, what useful endeavor people are engaged in, as long as they are compensated sufficiently with currency (money) to enable them to compensate others, who do the things they don’t have talent and time for, in turn.
What really undermines efficient trade and exchange of goods and services is the rationing or sequestration of the currency (money) we use to mediate those transactions. Rationing currency is comparable to restricting access to reading and writing skills in order to hobble the ability to communicate.
*+-The spouse, a now-retired professor of film studies, who was certainly entitled to be considered “outstanding in his field,” addressing movies from a literary and communications media perspective and having authored a couple of biographies of Nevil Shute Norway and Charlie Chaplin, as well as the totally original study of movies about war, “Looking Away; Hollywood and Vietnam”, is not really a studious person. Indeed, it’s quite likely that he moved from the study of novels and poems to film because movies made it possible for him to be somewhere else, even as he had to sit still in a room.
*+-Yes, that’s a flippant title. I could call it the fiscal scam, but “scam” is getting to be a hackneyed term. Besides, it is hard to take the most recent fiscal kerfuffle seriously. That the President’s spokesperson enunciates according to news reports:
“We should address the drivers of the deficit and Social Security currently is not a driver of the deficit,” Carney told reporters today. The senior retirement program is solvent for another 21 years, at which time recipients could see a reduction in benefits.
*+-If people aren’t obligated to pay taxes on their income in the first place, what difference does the rate make?
If your car is electric, what difference does the price of a gallon of gas make to you? Yes, there may be some psychic pleasure in seeing your neighbor having to shell out more and more dollars at the pump, but that’s not nice.
This whole kerfuffle is starting to look like the campaign finance scam in which Congress put restrictions on individual contributors and no limits on what incumbents could collect and even distribute to their cronies — all to insure their continuance and power in office.
Were It Used For Good
*+-It’s peanuts compared to the trillions we spend annually on medical procedures and pills, but the psychic rewards of participating in the most expensive U.S. election ever are much greater.
While the billionaire donors who opened their trust funds and expense accounts so generously deserve a hearty thank you and some pretty notes, everybody who chipped in a buck or an hour or a month or a year is entitled to a good gloat and a hearty pat on the back. Truer words were never spoken than the President’s “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Your Vote Might Count
*+-There has been lots of talk during the 2012 election season about efforts to suppress the vote or, as I like to refer to it, “thinning the electorate.” The legislative requirement that voters validate their existence with documentary evidence was part of that effort, made supposedly less onerous by letting forgetful people fill out provisional ballots and then come back with the paper-work a few days later. Suspicious people assumed that the provisional ballots would, like the ballots of absentee voters never be counted, regardless of whether they’d be validated, because that’s what had always been done…
Education Goes Bad
*+-Willie Sutton explained in his autobiography that he never actually explained his bank robbing as being motivated by the money’s location. Sutton just liked robbing banks. He collected the money as evidence that he’d done it. Willard, on the other hand, has acknowledged he’s going to D.C. ’cause that’s wherethe money is. He’s got a Willie Sutton complex.
Guess where he got it? At the Harvard Business School.
Religion of Growthism
As if to validate my hypothesis that economic theory has veered into the management and manipulation of people, rather than the material resources and assets we need to sustain our existence, the Nobel Committee has awarded this year’s prize to two Americans:
Two researchers whose work has made for better matchups among students and the schools they wish to attend, and between kidney donors and recipients, were awarded the Nobel Prize in economics Monday.
While I’m arguing as follows on the internets…
John Kenneth Galbraith, American economist, famously said that “the best money is worthless.” His son, James Kenneth Galbraith, now teaches at the University of Texas in the LBJ School of Public Policy, whence he continues to agitate for a more realistic science of economics.
James has a number of acolytes who make their home at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. And they’ve actually come up with a moniker that, quite frankly, is not a barn burner. MMT for Modern Monetary Theory may remind of the MTA, where Charlie was famously lost in Boston, but it doesn’t resonate. MM, for Modern Money, seems to work better…
Wake up, America
Like a bad penny. This time I found him on my doorstep. He’s written an op-ed for the Florida Times Union, the major paper in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, pretending to be a movie reviewer and touting something put together by Dinesh D’Souza:
The author and co-director is Dinesh D’Souza, an intellectual; a distinguished author and journalist; a conservative; and an honest man in every respect.
Right. And, in typical conservative fashion, Swindle touts his own “credentials” in support of what would seem to be a hatchet job on the President of the United States…
A Mean Clown
When Rachel Maddow introduced a segment of her show about four unknown United States Senators, who recently voted to deep six legislation to provide additional support for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars coming home to unemployment, she started out by saying most people probably don’t know who these men (they are all men) are.
I know who John Boozman is because I’ve been paying attention ever since the establishment-favorite Blanche Lincoln was selected in the Democratic primary in Arkansas in 2010 and then replaced by the newcomer, John Boozman because, as Howard Dean rightly pointed out, when voters have a choice between a fake Democrat and a real Republican, they vote for the latter.
Funny how that sentence can have two opposite meanings. Anyway, Mike Lofgren, writing in The American Conservative, charges the rich with revolting and seceding from the nation state. While many of his observations are on point, I’d argue that he’s got the causality backwards. The rich are always the same, disconnected from the societies in which they exist, because they share a common quirk of personality.
They’re not disconnected because they’re rich; they get rich because they are disconnected.
The Constitution of the United States of America is based on the belief that what individuals do is good, unless and until it is proved to have injured or insulted someone else. Also, the Constitution directs the agents of government to provide for the general welfare, which includes individual human rights. Of course, before the ink was even dry on the original document, the human rights of some persons were legally discounted or abrogated.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
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Some of my readers at Gwinnett Forum have asked if I was serious about requiring that the Georgia General Assembly meet only once in every two years. In short, you betcha! Why? Because most Georgians will tell you that nothing is safe when the Georgia Legislature meets, as members introduce all sorts of measures that negatively impacts its citizens, most bills only benefiting some local constituent. Major case in point: while the state government seeks cuts in school budgets (read as taking away bus driver’s health insurance, while raising the salary of judges), they dance around a billion dollar sales tax rebate f Read on →
As a young boy doing my homework while staying over with a favorite aunt, I was puzzled by a word and asked her where her dictionary was. She looked at me with befuddlement and finally said she didn’t have one. I thought that odd, but continued to ponder away at the word “sundry” which I also thought odd, and just assumed in my youthful innocence that it was simply a misspelling for “Sunday.” I’ve always had lots of dictionaries lying about, even foreign ones since my late wife was a professional translator. Somewhere hidden out of sight are a couple of vintage Rom Read on →
Once upon a time it took thirty pieces of silver to sell out a man. Now, in the electronic age, when all precious metals have been replaced by paper or electric currencies, millions of people, some not yet born, can be sold out for next to nothing. That's progress. Some people work to conserve the environment and to prevent further pollution and degradation of the organisms that make up the basic web of life. Others are content to simply exclude their fellow man. Still others promote financial interests by making some lands inaccessible, thereby increasing the market value of what's left. Read on →