Keep Wall Street happy but under control; Don’t tell the spirit of Barry Goldwater, but Romney is a me-too guy…

October 27, 2012

BLOGGER’S NOTE: A somewhat better edited version of my original post, I hope.

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Wall Street and big business may really be the enemy sometimes to the common working people, but maybe it is not a good idea attacking them head on.

It is better to rein them in, to curb their excesses, to make sure that everyday folks are protected against some of their excesses, without going to all-out war with them.

Even though we might not like the idea of the trickle down economy, the money does come from the top.

You know what they say about the woman of the house: “if momma ain’t happy, nobody is happy”.

And that’s kind of the way it is with the money crowd. If they ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

I write this in relation to the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama in which he hammers away with the mantra of asking the rich to pay more or to pay their fair share (that being more than others pay) in taxes.

Candidate Obama in the 2008 election made an issue of going after Wall Street. In reality I don’t think he has done much along those lines during his administration, but he has kept the rhetoric up.

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ADD ONE:

And now I am reminded that Obama has done something to fight Wall Street, signing a law that created a consumer protection bureau: http://news.yahoo.com/obama-warns-gop-not-undo-wall-street-law-101321442.html

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And I just scanned an article (that’s what you do on the internet, scan) in Politico that says an ex aide to Vice President Joe Biden has written a tell all book in which he claims that President Obama and Biden are financially illiterate and that is why they caved in to Wall Street. While this guy is just trying to make bucks with a book no doubt, I have suspected as much (He says the obvious too: Wall Street controls Washington, both Democrats and Republicans).

I mean it does not take a genius to figure out why Wall Street who caused the 2008 meltdown was bailed out by both Republicans and Democrats.

And the auto workers union had its grasp on Obama, getting a bail out for a failed auto industry, hampered by failed management and bloated, non-competitive union salaries and benefits.

Just as Mitt Romney was right when he said home foreclosures ought to be allowed to run their course to clean out the system, he was also right in suggesting the auto industry ought to go bankrupt. In the process of bankruptcy it could have continued and come out stronger or failed like it should have if it could not meet the demand of the market place (my words there). Now we have a false market that will no doubt eventually fail (my words again) unless it really weans itself off the guarantee of government bailouts (and didn’t we bail out Chrysler a long time ago?).

But back to not attacking the money people head on:

What I am trying to say is that when things are going gang busters in the economy, forces that usually might resist various social programs are much more amenable to them. Keep the little people happy — bread and circuses and all that.

But when profits are harder to come by those at the top and the wannabes may get a little more concerned about costs.

So, whether you are liberal or conservative or in the middle, the bottom line is that we must have a robust economy for all to be taken care of.

Well now that argument seems to make the case for electing Romney, that is if you believe what he has to say.

He promises to greatly improve the economy. But the president does not single-handedly improve an economy. And there is no way to prove or disprove what he says. It is all a boast. He does have a business record, but as many have noted, government is not really a business, even though it would seem better at times if it ran more like a business. But the role of government is not to make a profit for an individual or for a partnership or shareholders. It is to provide order for society and to serve the people. Just exactly how it does that is primarily up to the electorate acting through the people they vote into office, following the constitution. And ever since Marbury vs. Madison the Supreme Court (appointed by the president) decides what that constitution allows, and it has changed its mind through the years and will in the future.

And even Romney must know that he can’t just gives orders like a CEO; he has to go through congress and the bureaucracy.

We also do not know what political ideology Mr. Romney would follow or most closely follow. His record and his performance in the campaign seems to indicate he is a moderate who leans to the right as far as necessary to get support. And he goes left too if that works. It is one thing to change your mind after long and careful consideration, but one might easily conclude Mr. Romney has no core principles in governing. 

I don’t think there is any doubt that he favors a government that serves the interests of business, with the idea being that if that is accomplished, everyone else can be taken care of. I think Mr. Romney has a sense that it is his mission to look after the less fortunate, to a degree at least (although I think he feels this is more the work for private charity and benefactors such as himself, with some government assistance). But I am also sure that he feels those less fortunate need to understand the weighty decisions must be made by leaders such as himself and everyone just has to be patient and work hard.

Okay, I really have no way of knowing what Mr. Romney really thinks. He’s just someone who began with an advantage, having well-to-do parents, and made the best use of it, and who, by the way, belongs to a somewhat wacky religious sect, the Mormons (but then most religions have their wackiness), who, wacky though they may be, seem to have some good traits when it comes to working hard, raising families (the multi-wife, often teenagers, cult Mormons notwithstanding), and accumulating wealth.

So Mr. Romney is a centrist but one who often leans to the political right.

Obama on the other hand seems to be somewhat of a centrist who definitely leans to the left. Also as the top Democrat he is obligated to support a plethora of social programs and to cater to the trade unions. That just comes with the territory.

Obama has also made much of the concept that we leave no one behind in society, that we must help the less fortunate and that if we are successful we got what we have with the support of government and other individuals, even if we did sacrifice and work hard ourselves, so in that way, as he said it, or overstated it, we didn’t build it ourselves. Therefore we owe back to society.

Personally, that tack bothers me. Nothing wrong with a personal decision by someone who thinks he or she should somehow give back to society, but something akin to a legal obligation? We all have a civic duty (whether we actually perform it or not), I think, to do our part to support the health of our democratic (small d) society by way of doing such things as keeping informed on public issues and voting, but even this is really voluntary (if a duty can be voluntary). In addition we have a moral obligation to be concerned about our fellow man. We have chosen in our nation to do some of that looking after through the offices of government, and there is and always will be an ongoing argument as to at what level we carry this on.

I’m digging a hole here. I did not begin this post trying to make a case for Obama, but I am certainly not writing this in support of Romney.

In Romney’s constant pandering to the far right, especially the far-right crazies or wing nuts (not all on the right are in this category) he has altered his positions on things such as women’s abortion rights. It just seems as if it is a hot button issue he can go either way on, depending on who he wants to cater to at the time. Romney has flipped flopped on this through the years and in this campaign has proclaimed himself to be staunchly anti-abortion, but then in his recent centrist move, says he would not take any initiatives to change present law. But that in itself is misleading at best when one has to realize he would eventually appoint Supreme Court justices (it seems as though one of those old codgers is always either croaking or retiring) who would likely be on the right end of the scale. And abortion rights are dependent on a the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade, which could and probably would be overturned or altered by an additional conservative justice or justices.

Bottom line here: although one might buy into or at least put one’s hopes on Romney’s promise of magically fixing the economy, one also has to consider whether he or she will have the same rights under his administration and whether he or she will need services from the government, such as Social Security, Social Security Disability, Health Care, and the like and whether one is concerned about having clean drinking water and environmental protections — things that Republicans often seem to find too costly.

If Romney really could provide a better guiding hand for the economy and at the same time was an honest moderate, he might merit serious consideration. But in his constant flip flopping and his extreme pandering to the far right and his me too with Obama (me too? Barry Goldwater must be turning over in the grave) on foreign policy, one does not have any idea where he stands. He just seems to want to be president (and that is an important quality for getting elected they say).

I particularly do not care for his flip (as in too casual) attitude on the environment. He laughed at Obama for wanting to save the planet — yes I get it, he was implying that Obama was promising Godly powers rather than practical human power (I guess). Romney conveys the attitude that environmental concerns are fine, but if we need oil or coal or natural gas via fracking then everything along those lines be damned. Like so many, could he be crazy enough to foul his own nest? He of course would come back and say he would make sure there are necessary environmental protections. But those who think too much of dollars often seem to have blinders on when it comes to safeguards (British Petroleum?).

Even though I can’t, just can’t vote for Romney, it is a tough choice, I think, that American voters have.

Although there are signs that the economy is improving (and really aren’t these things primarily cyclical no matter who is in office?), Obama has not been able to restore or oversee a restoration of a robust economy and high employment. And the yearly federal budgets continue to run in the red and the national debt is staggering and has dire implications for the survival of our nation.

But even if Mr. Romney could turn things around, would we lose our social protections and the safety net under his leadership?

Society tends to run to the extremes in times of uncertainty, either to the far left and its socialism that can stamp out individual initiative and personal rights (you know everything is for the good of all) or to the far right and fascism, where, well about the same thing, strangely enough.

I don’t think either candidate fits those designations, but one panders to the right and the other has pressure from the left.

And consider this: an article on undecided voters I just read has one woman betting Romney would be a better choice for her vote, but she’s banking on him not keeping his promises to the right wing to work against women’s issues (I guess she realizes he might just be pandering). So there you have it, someone supporting a candidate on the premise he will break his promises.

P.s.

Did you notice?: Romney is at again. Now he has even stolen Obama’s 2008 mantra of hope and change. He’s using those words. He’ll say anything to win.

P.s. P.s.

I’d vote Libertarian or something if I thought it would do any good, but that always seems to be a vote against one of the two main party candidates and a vote for the other. And I just do not know enough about these people. In the past they have turned out to be nut cases. Remember Ross Perot?

P.s. P.s. P.s.

Link to Politico article:http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82897.html


Industry, not war licked the Great Depression…

February 21, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

“Government of Wall Street and by Wall Street and for Wall Street must not parish from this earth”, to paraphrase, no parody, Abraham Lincoln.

It seems, especially to hear the Republicans tell it, but also so many others, the primary bench mark we must look at each week day to judge our nation’s viability is the Dow.

It’s down again, the reports stream in, therefore everything President Barack Obama just did or said is for naught.

Excuse me for bringing the is up, but were not those movers and shakers and traders the ones who by their actions and the results and interpretations of those actions the ones who inflated the bubble so hugely that it finally burst?

And Wall Street is really just a generic title. Bank of America, at one time, maybe still, the largest financial services institution in the world, is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. Some worry that the bad assets from its Merrill Lynch acquisition, among other things, may pull it under (it could already in reality be insolvent, but then again, as we are finding out, nearly any business can be without the wider public knowing till it’s too late). And please, I have no idea whether it is solvent or not. I only know what I read on the web and the Wall Street Journal, traditional paper edition, when I get to the public library.

Bank of America is Bank of America in name only; it sold out years ago (okay was acquired). The name was kept, I suppose, for “brand recognition”, as the marketers and merger people call it.

It began in 1904 in San Francisco, founded by an Italian immigrant, who named it Bank of Italy. One story I read claimed he was able to rescue his cash from the rubble of the 1906 earthquake and fire and set up banking on a couple of wooden planks.

I knew a guy who took a Junior College banking course and upon completion went to work for Bank of America. I mentioned something about A.P. Giannini, the founder of Bank of America. “Never heard of him” he said, with a blank look on his face. (I had in conversation admitted to this guy that journalism did not pay well. This time he looked super puzzled: “why are you doing it?” he asked. No true journalist could have come up with a more obvious and at the same time probing question. I had no real answer).

But back to the problem of the failure of our economy and more specifically our banking industry:

Maybe the federal government needs to become the bank for awhile (isn’t it already?) and bypass Wall Street altogether. While preserving capitalism, maybe we need to work out a new business model.

Or, again, maybe the free market will sort this one out too eventually. If the big banks or the majority of them (not to mention small ones) are really insolvent (if the truth be known, as is often hinted in news stories and blogs), could they not be replaced by now smaller entities or even potentially larger ones who are independent of the Wall Street crowd as the source of capital?

I read in my local newspaper that one regional bank in my area never took part in all those subprime loans and therefore does not hold all that bad debt. I don’t know whether it has accepted federal bailout money, nonetheless – I would hope not.

I think at first everyone thought that some extraordinary emergency action, such as that started in the last desperate days of the Bush administration, could head off the disaster and we could all go back to business as usual. Such was not the case.

Bush, although he would end up being blamed for all the troubles just like Hebert Hoover was before him, would have done better to simply make sure that all investors were protected from bank failures up to the insured amounts and that financial scams were prosecuted and left it at that. But judging by his haste to do a 180-degree turn from traditional capitalism to state-run socialism, he either felt public pressure (and had legacy worries) or just a lot of pressure from cronies who said, do anything, just save our money and our way of life (or give us new money).

Meanwhile, although I realize he is politically committed otherwise, Obama would do better to concentrate on making sure the unemployed are offered benefits, health care is reformed, and education and job training prioritized.

At the same time, emergency infrastructure projects should be pushed forward to forestall such things as bridge failures. And there is nothing wrong with incentives to promote green industries. And along those lines, all industries. What we need is employment.

(Bailing out the failing auto industry is a mistake. We need an auto industry, but not a failing one, and funding the existing model will just prolong the agony. Please let a new more nimble and open-minded crowd of capitalists take over. As for big labor. You won’t have jobs unless there is healthy industry – leave it at that.)

Perhaps many thought there would be some utopia where all the smart people would invest money in money, rolling over dollars, not to produce products and services and employment, but to simply increase account balances.

Certainly people should be able to invest in anything they want to (and hooray for compound interest), but as long as the only incentive is to invest in interest on interest we will push ourselves toward a world where all the dollars one can earn will be worth very little, because people won’t be working to produce products and services and improving or even maintaining the infrastructure.

And even though I don’t quite understand why, I have an idea that down the line, a year or two, maybe sooner, we are headed for major inflation (good at first, not so good as it continues to climb) and maybe that old 1970s nemesis “stagflation”.

So while all this is being sorted out, the best that veteran workers can do is adjust to the ever evolving labor market (what there is of it). If you can go to school or get training, do it.

For the young, there is only one answer: get the best possible education there is for yourself and get the type that fits you best. People in all walks of life need to be more knowledgeable than ever because of technology and the need for extreme flexibility in the workplace.

Some say Obama is doing too much (committing too much money – I have suggested that), others say not enough. I imagine no one really knows.

I’ve touched on the idea before that some now say that FDR’s New Deal, although mitigating much human misery, did nothing to bring the nation out the Great Depression, only World War II did. But here’s a new twist I heard on that and I like it:

It was not the war itself that brought us out of the Great Depression, but the giant surge in our industrial output. Suddenly people had jobs in the war industries (and nearly all industries were turned into war industries, even the USA’s own division of Steinway Piano, if you can believe it (they manufactured wooden gliders). But once the war ended, the industry was in place and re-tooled from anti-aircraft guns to automobiles and from Radar to refrigerators, and the GIs came home, made use of their GI bill education benefits and moved to the suburbs.

The lesson here is not old history, but the need for industrialization. Yes it supports consumerism, but consumerism alone will not do the trick (have you noticed?), and solar panels will be nice, but I think we have to diversify.


Stock market recovery: good news, unfair rules

October 13, 2008

(Copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

With government help comes a lot more oversight (one would hope), and hopefully a whole lot more transparency, but if anyone doubted who or what controls our government, it is money, the Big Money. Big Money took an awful gamble and lost, but it successfully extorted the American taxpayers out of a trillion dollars or more and scared the whole world nearly to death.

Besides the U.S. government bailout, there was emergency action worldwide by governments to prop up the Big Money interests, thus proving Big Money could and did bring the whole globe to its knees.

Now that it got what it wanted,  bailouts, maybe it will be back to business as normal, or maybe not, there are real problems with our economy that go beyond the greed of the Big Money interests.

But how do you explain one of or the worst weeks ever on Wall Street last week, and one of the biggest rallies ever today as a new week opened? I don’t think the Big Money interests wanted it this way, that is all the likely government oversight and even control, but they had finally overreached, getting caught in a game they may not have fully understood themselves, with complex math formulations on derivatives and such that seemed to promise they could not lose.

Of course I’m writing all of this in the abstract. I don’t mean to say that there is some real single force out there called “Big Money”, but those with the big money play the game how it is played and in a sense are a united force.

Make no mistake about it, the rules for the Big Money are not the same for you or me. When we go broke, we go broke. When Big Money goes broke, we all go broke.

Having said all this, I hope it all works out anyway. Because those are the rules, albeit unfair, of the game and it’s better for all of us to win in our own way than to lose.

Now no one knows what the stock market will do tomorrow (at least I am not quite yet into the conspiracy frame of mind enough to think so). Today’s 936 point rebound, the biggest in 70 years (according to Bloomberg News), could just be a blip and lost again.

But if stocks go up again or even level off, I think it might be a good sign for John McCain’s failing campaign, and that is not my endorsement of him. As a matter of fact, he scares me and even more so, Sarah Palin scares me, and the ice berg that is Cindy McCain scares me too. Maybe I’m just timid.

I plan to write more on all of this later when I can put some real facts together, but this was my off- the-top-of-the-head reaction to today’s events.

Thank you for reading.