Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SAR #11289

America has rescued itself before.

Depending on the Definition of 'Is': Citi reported earnings of $3.8 billion, based on earnings of $500 million and the enthusiastic application of accounting magic. Goldman Sachs lost $383 million this quarter - $.84 a share. Couldn't happen to nicer Masters of the Universe.

It's A Girl Thing: Thousands of Yemeni women demonstrated in Sanaa, begging the UN to intervene in the ongoing strife with the American-backed repressive dictatorship. Elsewhere, the Arab League has given Syria's President Assad 15 days to come to his senses or else.’ Or else’  what was not specified.

Price Tag: In order to save its banks, Europe needs to impose some $7 trillion worth of austerity measures on the hapless citizenry, rather quickly. This will, of course, ensure a decade or more of chronic depression-level economic misery, but must be done to save the rich from their mistakes.

For Want of a Nail: Amazon, which first taught readers they didn't need bookstores, then freed them from print itself, is about to demonstrate the antiquity of the publishing business. It will publish 122 books this fall, in both physical and e-book form. It is the natural step in the progression from movable type to no type at all.

Get Out the Vote: Ex-wannabe (well, he's probably still a wannabe but he's aware that it is not going to happen) Mike Huckabee suggests that one fine way to insure the Republicans carry the day is to slash the tires of known Democrats on election day. So many of us vote early/absentee anymore that this will probably not work.

Getting to Zero: Empirical data suggests that, contrary to established theory, lower, zero and negative interest rates actually prompt people to save more, not consume more. And followed to its extreme this can (in theory) lead to total state ownership of everything. Or so this interesting theory suggests.

Politics, Illustrated: In a perfect demonstration of the logic of politics, the Department of Agriculture is being chastised by senators from potato-growing states for attempting to fight America's obesity epidemic by cutting down the starch in school-kids lunches. Profits, and thus votes, before children's health; sounds about right.

Acceptable Risk: Four US banks: JPMorgan, Citi, BofA, and Goldman Sachs hold 95.9% of all American-held derivatives. They say that the risk inherent to derivatives is modest and under control. Yet the notational value of outstanding derivative contracts is above $600 trillion. The total annual output of the entire world is only $65 trillion. Even if only 10% of derivatives were to go splat there would not be enough money in the world to kiss it and make it better. But the experts say that less than $8 trillion is actually at risk - as though that's supposed to make us feel better.

Secret Is As Secret Does: According to the administration, the federal government's interpretation of the Patriot Act is so flaky it must be kept secret. Not even a redacted version will be released in response to FOI requests. If they let you see it, they have to cart you off to Guantanamo - for your own good.

To Better Serve... Verizon is selling to third-party marketers your Internet history, your cellphone usage and location at the time of use, and the applications you use on your cellphone. It's part of the service and there will be no extra charge.

Multiple Guess: The Arctic Ocean will be ice free in: a) 100 years. b) 50 years. c) 25 years. d) 10 years. These estimates, in this order, have all been “right” at one time or the other over the past decade.

Them: Wannabe Ron Paul wants to cut the federal workforce by 10%, eliminate five Federal Departments - starting with Education and Energy. He would cut the federal workforce by 10%, cut the EPA's funding by 30%, eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends and do a whole bunch of other silly things. This may explain why Mr. Paul gets the respect he deserves little respect in the mainstream press.


TulsaTime said...

It's 'funny' how almost anything done by the conservatives is to protect democracy, and the same efforts by the liberal sphere are a threat to the republic. Voter outreach is just the latest wrinkle, but I recall efforts to influence education policy branded the same way.

kwark said...

RE: "Politics Illustrated". Well, the dear senator from Maine is partially correct (about the nutritive value and preparation issues). The fact that these are Republicans complaining because the Government will spend LESS sets the hypocrisy bell ringing. It's only bad if producers (read potential donors) in some OTHER state(especially the blue ones)are receiving money or if it's going directly to poor folks without a corporate intermediary siphoning-off it's share.

kwark said...

RE: "Them". One is left to wonder how Mr. Paul arrives at his "solutions. ". . . freezing spending by numerous government agencies at 2006 levels the last time Republicans had complete control of the federal budget. . ." Pulled straight out of his ass but, what the hell! "The EPA would see a 30% cut, the FDA 40%. . . . That'll work, so underfund them that none of your corporate donors ever has to worry! . . .foreign aid would be zeroed out immediately. He’d also take an ax to Pentagon funding for wars." Which ALONE guarantee that Mr. Paul will never receive the Republican nomination - too many influential CEOs/corporate donors profit from those programs. I'm waiting to hear Mr. Cain question Ron Paul's patriotism because he wants to cut military spending!

CKMichaelson said...

Oh, I agree that potatoes, properly prepared, can be nutritious - I grew up on meat and potatoes, gravy and veg, followed by fruit pie. But today a potato is either french fried or baked and loaded. kwqark is right - the loss of profit to contributors is the decision making point. Take the gravy away from someother state.

Which explains the defense budget.


Patrick said...


ron paul has NEVER IN HIS CAREER taken a corporate campaign donation. if your first impulse wasn't to ridicule him you would notice that his proposed cuts to the federal bureaucracy are part of a SYSTEMATICALLY different approach to governance, one that is based in individual freedom. he would cut the police state, end our wars (including the war on drugs), and the federal reserve system which makes our financial sector a cartel. the great elizabeth warren wouldn't do nearly as much to stop the processes that have actually brought us to this position. why not take a look at the forest before hacking at the trees?

kwark said...


Respectfully, I think you missed my point. I said he would never receive the Republican nomination - because all those folks with deep pockets control the Republican party - not that Mr. Paul won't receive their money.

I find many of Mr. Paul's ideas very appealing. . . but about the individual freedom thing. Near as I can tell, a basic tenet of the "individual freedom" part Mr. Paul's ideology appears to be that the economic "playing field" is level for everyone. Since that is patently not the case, from the get-go I'm highly skeptical of the catchy "individual freedom" thing and leery of any candidate that tosses-around that kind of rhetoric. On other fronts, I'm also bit confused about the "individual freedom" thing as an effective method of governance. Case in point, Mr. Paul want's to effectively get rid of the FDA. He's in favor of "free market" methods to enforce safety. Free market methods are the reason US-made plywood is among the poorest quality in the world. Same can be said for US-sourced honey. . . so call me HIGHLY skeptical. CERTAINLY the FDA and many agencies need to be reformed but in my view, first and foremost, that means eliminating corporate influence, not the regulatory authority. Mr. Paul's notions of wholesale elimination of agencies appears more to me like a knee-jerk ideological response justified by cherry-picking examples of real problems. The result being a policy that throws the baby out with the bath water.