Thursday, February 14, 2013

What is Quantitative Easing?

What is Quantitative Easing?

(Sounds very much like my Noble Solution the The National Debt to me)

Central banks usually strengthen the economy through a single, vastly powerful tool — lowering interest rates. When the Federal Reserve makes it cheaper for banks to borrow money, that stimulus generally flows through the entire economy, as the banks make loans that in turn stimulate economic activity.

But when times are so dire that banks are reluctant to lend or borrowers to borrow whatever the cost, interest rate cuts lose their punch. That happened in Japan after the bursting of its real-estate bubble in 1991, and happened again in the wake of the credit crisis that upended Wall Street in the fall of 2008. In those circumstances, central banks turn to what economists call “quantitative easing’' — unorthodox methods of pumping money into an economy and working to lower the long-term interest rates that central bankers do not usually control.

The most usual approach is large-scale purchases of debt. The effect is the same as printing money in vast quantities, but without ever turning on the printing presses. The Fed buys government or other bonds and writes down that it has done so — what is called “expanding the balance sheet.” The bank then makes that money available for banks to borrow, thereby expanding the amount of money sloshing around the economy thereby, it hopes, reducing long-term interest rates.

And buying bonds drives down rates by increasing competition for the remaining bonds, forcing investors to accept a lower rate of return or move their money into other, riskier assets.

The Fed has engaged in several rounds of quantitative easing. The first round of bond purchases, known as QE1, aimed to arrest the financial crisis, in part by clearing room on bank balance sheets. The second round, called QE2, was started amid concerns that prices were increasing too slowly, raising the specter of deflation. This round, by contrast, is aimed squarely at the huge and persistent unemployment crisis.

Multiple Rounds

Between November 2008 and May 2010, the Fed bought $1.75 trillion in debt held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage-backed securities and Treasury notes between November 2008 and May 2010. A second round, dubbed QE2, involved an additional $600 billion in long-term Treasury securities purchased between November 2010 and June 2011.

In September 2011, the Fed began a variant that was called “Operation Twist.’' Instead of expanding its balance sheet by just buying more and more bonds, it sold $400 billion in short-term securities and used the proceeds to buy longer-term ones. In June 2012 the ban announced an extension worth $267 billion more.

In September 2012, the Fed announced a new round of bond purchases, QE3, but with an important difference. For the first time, it pledged to act until the economy improved, rather than creating another program with a fixed endpoint.

In announcing the new policy, the Fed sought to make clear that its decision reflected not only an increased concern about the health of the economy, but an increased determination to respond – in effect, an acknowledgment that its approach until now had been flawed.

The Fed said it would add $23 billion of mortgage bonds to its portfolio by the end of September, a pace of $40 billion in purchases each month. It will then announce a new target at the end of every month until the outlook for the labor market improves “substantially,” as long as inflation remains in check. The statement did not further explain either standard.

The Fed’s statement made clear, however, that it would continue to stimulate the economy even as the recovery strengthened, suggesting that it was now willing to tolerate somewhat higher inflation in the future to encourage growth in the present.

Debate Over Impact

There is broad disagreement among economists about the effects of the Fed’s actions. The Fed’s own research shows it may have raised economic output by 3 percent and created more than two million jobs. Most independent analyses have reached more modest conclusions, and some experts argue that there is little evidence of any meaningful economic impact.

The decision to focus on mortgage bonds reflects the Fed’s conviction that the housing market still needs help, and that lower rates on mortgage loans will produce broad economic benefits. Buying bonds drives down rates by increasing competition for the remaining bonds, forcing investors to accept a lower rate of return or move their money into other, riskier assets.

But many experts said that while the Fed program would help the housing recovery at the margins, even lower mortgage rates would not be enough in and of themselves to spur a strong turnaround, given the weakened financial state of many households.


What's Wrong with Minimum wage?


Why Don’t We Just Leave the Well-off Alone?

I have worked for minimum wage or below for the majority of my employment career which started when I was about ten years old. I have always known that it is because of me that the world, at large, and the U.S. in particular, has been going to hell in a handbag. My bosses have explained this to me over and over.

You see, it is because of my demanding this exorbitant minimum wage that we have inflation, constantly escalating prices, unemployment, teenagers idling on street corners and a vanishing industrial and manufacturing base.

Strangely enough, people who make exorbitant paychecks and profits as owners of businesses and CEOs and CFOs, and Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists, Stock brokers, people receiving dividends from their stock portfolios and Indian chiefs who own gambling casinos in Miami have just the opposite effect on the economy. Their pay increases do not cause inflation or increase prices; instead their extra money acts as a stimulus to the economy, promotes investment at home and abroad, creates jobs everywhere and, in general, makes the world a better place for everybody to live.

It goes like this: if you give Bitt Homney or Ronald Trumpet (fictitious names of two very rich people) or some such wealthy person another billion dollars a week, as opposed to giving another dollar a week to each employee at the Nike factory in Slumbovia, or Bumslavia, or Weallstarvingistan – nothing negative, economically, occurs. Prices do not go up because Bitt, or The Ronald or another among the minority of the rich has more money. They already have everything they ever wanted. They don’t need to buy anything. How many Hummers, BMWs, yachts, and diamond rings can one person have? Besides if the price of a quarter mile long yacht goes from 147 million to 150 million who would notice. This increase wouldn’t even make it into the pages of Money Magazine.

You can give all the money you want to rich folks and nothing in the economic world will change. This is an economic fact that was proven in the laboratory of real life economic science in 1929 by that great American monetary savant, Herbert Hoover.

On the other hand, an extra dollar in the pockets of a bunch of poor people automatically throws any economy into a tailspin. Right off, the price of M-D 20-20 skyrockets along with bread, peanut butter, and Chevrolet automobiles. This hits the commodity and retail markets immediately. The price of grain and legumes all over the world goes nuts. Farmers instantly begin double cropping, planting in-between the rows, and doubling up on fertilizers and polluting pesticides; government subsidies go through the roof, while profits to the farmers go down and the price of a tomato at the IGA in Wisconsin goes to a buck-fifty apiece. General Motors has to increase production, but the cost of labor in the U.S. is bankrupting them; so their new plant in China gets the contract while the DuPont family sells off all of their shares in Aunt Jemima Pancakes. It’s chaos.

If I, and those of my ilk, were willing to work for half or one third of minimum wage, my boss then could hire two or three more morons like me and, of course, the unemployment problem would vanish. This would also, more than likely, solve the illegal immigrant problem besides.

You see, if I were willing to pick tomatoes and sleep in an abandon building or old slave cottage or a farmer’s barn or root cellar while defecating in the woods or orchards or behind the hedges of better-off people in the San Bernardino mountains like illegal immigrants do, then the farmers would not have to encourage Coyotes to smuggle poor Mexicans and Central Americans across the Rio Grande and into Miami, Seattle, New York, New Jersey and Kalamazoo Michigan. Nor would they be forced to continue to falsify their labor and Social Security reports.

But because I, and others like me, are unwilling to do this, these poor farmers and packing house owners, and cottage-garment industry owners, sweatshop owners, and restaurant and construction company owners and landscapers, and concrete company and gas station owners, and grocery stores, and chicken and beef processing houses, and home cleaning and domestic services, and large chain department stores etc., must do all of these illegal, immoral things.

We minimum wage earners are like the pornographic video and bookstores in Holyoake, Missouri. We are the evil temptresses that lure the Jimmy Swaggarts and Tammy Faye Bakers into the snake pit of moral depravity; we are the Chunky Cheeses to the video game addict; we are the irresistible impulse luring the unsuspecting all over the world; we are the ones who are ruining the economic world. It is us, with our benign satisfaction with mediocrity, our unwillingness to achieve, and our ignorant and obstinate choice to remain unsuccessful.

Why is it that we continually choose to work at JR stores and wash dishes in greasy-spoon type restaurants that provide no health insurance? Why do we continually take up residence in crime ridden ghettoes? Why the heck don’t we just move; why don’t we make application to better universities; why do we accept advice and principles from parents who are even dumber than we are?

All of our kindhearted, generous employers are, of course, very good people. They are not criminals. It’s us; it’s me. And you know, I don’t know what is wrong with me. I don’t know why I act like this. I have tried to get help for this problem but I have been unable to find any psychiatrists who are willing to work for minimum wage. They feel if they work for any less than one hundred dollars a minute, research in mental health will be abandoned and more nutty folks, like me, will be put out onto the sidewalks and alleyways of the American inner cities. This, of course, will increase the perv quotient, promote crime, juvenile delinquency and the threat of terrorism everywhere.

It was because of people like me, way back when, demanding their pays to be raised to a minimum that forced the textile mills to leave New England. It was the same type of ugly Americans in the Midwest and eventually in the South that forced these poor, patriotic hard working mill owners to go to South America, India and Asia where now, unfortunately, they are forced to deal with the same type ungrateful breed over there. We minimum wage earners keep breeding like flies. There seems to be no end to our kind.

What is the matter with us minimum wage workers? When will we ever learn?

If we continually ask for more money, this just makes the prices of things rise. And after the prices go up, we still don’t have any more money than we had previously. So what is the sense to it? What will it take for us to learn that we must figure out how to live on whatever it is the boss is willing to pay us?

We certainly can’t ask the bosses to take less money. Why just look around. They are barely getting by on what they have now. And besides, there are so few of them and so many of us. I mean, if we took all the money from the 10% who own and control everything – all the rich people in the world – and divided it up among all the poor in the world, the price of peanut butter and jelly in the U.S. would be a thousand dollars a jar; M-D 20-20 would only be served at fine restaurants; golf courses would disappear and America would become one huge bowling alley. Yes, every other cardboard house the poor have built in the garbage dumps of the world might get a new tin roof … big deal.

Poor people just don’t seem to understand; if God wanted poor people to be better off, He wouldn’t have created Republicans.

2nd Amendment

This link provides the current federal Supreme Court interpretation of the second amendment.

[According to the most receint decission in 2008 which at the moment only applies to the District of Columbia and is not yet Federal, a citizen has the right under the second amendment to have a gun for his personal protection BUT the type, kind, anount of amunition etc are all subject to government regulation. At this moment the 1939 interpretation is still the law.]

On June 26, 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller (PDF), the United States Supreme Court issued its first decision since 1939 interpreting the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. It also ruled that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right.

The Second Amendment, one of the ten amendments to the Constitution comprising the Bill of Rights, states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The meaning of this sentence is not self-evident, and has given rise to much commentary but relatively few Supreme Court decisions.

In cases in the 19th Century, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment does not bar state regulation of firearms. For example, in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 553 (1875), the Court stated that the Second Amendment “has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government,” and in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886), the Court reiterated that the Second Amendment “is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the National government, and not upon that of the States.” Although most of the rights in the Bill of Rights have been selectively incorporated (PDF) into the rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and thus cannot be impaired by state governments, the Second Amendment has never been so incorporated.

Prior to District of Columbia v. Heller, the last time the Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment was in United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). In that case, Jack Miller and one other person were indicted for transporting an unregistered sawed-off shotgun across state lines in violation of the National Firearms Act of 1934. Miller argued, among other things, that the section of the National Firearms Act regulating the interstate transport of certain firearms violated the Second Amendment. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas agreed with Miller. The case was appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which reversed the district court. The Supreme Court read the Second Amendment in conjunction with the Militia Clause in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, and concluded that “[i]n the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a [sawed-off] shotgun . . . has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.” 307 U.S. at 178. The Court concluded that the district court erred in holding the National Firearms Act provisions unconstitutional.

Since United States v. Miller, most federal court decisions considering the Second Amendment have interpreted it as preserving the authority of the states to maintain militias. Several of the post-Miller lower court opinions are discussed here (PDF).

The Supreme Court’s consideration of the Second Amendment this term was precipitated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision in Parker v. District of Columbia (PDF), 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. App. 2007). There, the D.C. Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that three District of Columbia laws regarding private gun ownership - namely a ban on new registration of handguns, a ban on carrying a pistol without a license, and a requirement that firearms be kept unloaded and locked - violated the Second Amendment. The court held that individuals have a right under the Second Amendment to own handguns for their own personal protection and keep them in their home without placing a trigger lock on them. This is the first decision since the Supreme Court decided Miller in which a federal court overturned a law regulating firearms based on the Second Amendment.

Following the D.C. Circuit’s decision not to rehear the case, the District of Columbia Government filed a petition for certiorari for review of the decision by the Supreme Court. The documents before the Supreme Court at the petition for certiorari stage have been collected here.

On November 20, 2007, the Supreme Court granted (PDF) the petition for certiorari. The Court framed the question for which it granted review as follows: “Whether the following provisions – D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 – violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

The briefs on the merits by the District of Columbia and respondent Dick Anthony Heller, as well as amicus briefs by some 67 “friends of the court,” have been collected here.

In its June 26 decision, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the D.C. provisions banning handguns and requiring firearms in the home disassembled or locked violate this right.

In the majority opinion authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court first conducted a textual analysis of the operative clause, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The Court found that this language guarantees an individual right to possess and carry weapons. The Court examined historical evidence that it found consistent with its textual analysis. The Court then considered the Second Amendment’s prefatory clause, "[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State," and determined that while this clause announces a purpose for recognizing an individual right to keep and bear arms, it does not limit the operative clause. The Court found that analogous contemporaneous provisions in state constitutions, the Second Amendment’s drafting history, and post-ratification interpretations were consistent with its interpretation of the amendment. The Court asserted that its prior precedent was not inconsistent with its interpretation.

The Court stated that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation, such as concealed weapons prohibitions, limits on the rights of felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of weapons in certain locations, laws imposing conditions on commercial sales, and prohibitions on the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. It stated that this was not an exhaustive list of the regulatory measures that would be presumptively permissible under the Second Amendment.

The Court found that the D.C. ban on handgun possession violated the Second Amendment right because it prohibited an entire class of arms favored for the lawful purpose of self-defense in the home. It similarly found that the requirement that lawful firearms be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock made it impossible for citizens to effectively use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense, and therefore violated the Second Amendment right. The Court said it was unnecessary to address the constitutionality of the D.C. licensing requirement.

Four Justices dissented, each of which signed both of two dissenting opinions. One, by Justice Stevens, examined historical evidence on the meaning of the Second Amendment to conclude that the amendment protects militia-related interests. A second dissenting opinion, by Justice Breyer, stated that even if the Second Amendment protects a separate interest in individual self-defense, the District of Columbia provisions at issue are permissible forms of regulation.

The outcome of D.C. v. Heller leaves some issues unanswered, including whether the Second Amendment restricts state regulation of firearms, and the standard for evaluating the constitutionality of other laws and regulations that impact the Second Amendment right. These issues will be the subject of future litigation.

As background to the Court’s decision, the following is a selective bibliography listing only some of the substantial literature of books and journal articles on the Second Amendment.

Back to Top

Carl T. Bogus, ed., The Second Amendment in Law and History: Historians and Constitutional Scholars on the Right to Bear Arms. New York: New Press, 2000.

Saul Cornell, A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Lawrence Delbert Cress, Citizens in Arms: The Army and the Militia in American Society to the War of 1812. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982.

Exploring Gun Use in America. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Stephen P. Halbrook, A Right to Bear Arms: State and Federal Bills of Rights and Constitutional Guarantees. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989.

Joyce Lee Malcolm, To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Andrew J. McClurg, David B. Kopel, and Brannon P. Denning, eds., Gun Control and Gun Rights: A Reader and Guide. New York: New York University Press, 2002.

Robert J. Spitzer, The Politics of Gun Control. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2008.

Mark V. Tushnet, Out of Range: Why the Constitution Can’t End the Battle Over Guns. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel, The Militia and the Right to Bear Arms, or, How the Second Amendment Fell Silent. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2002.

David C. Williams, The Mythic Meanings of the Second Amendment: Taming Political Violence in a ConstitutionalRepublic. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2003.

Back to Top

Akhil Reed Amar, The Second Amendment: A Case Study in Constitutional Interpretation, 2001 Utah L. Rev. 889 (2001).

Christopher A. Chrisman, Mind the Gap: The Missing Standard of Review Under the Second Amendment (and Where to Find It), 4 Geo. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 289 (2006).

Robert H. Churchill, Gun Regulation, the Police Power, and the Right to Keep Arms in Early America: The Legal Context of the Second Amendment, 25 Law & Hist. Rev. 139 (2007).

Saul Cornell, Commonplace or Anachronism: The Standard Model, the Second Amendment, and the Problem of History in Contemporary Constitutional Theory, 16 Const. Comment. 221 (1999).

Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. Diamond, The Second Amendment: Towards an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration, 80 Geo. L. J. 309 (1991).

Lawrence Delbert Cress, An Armed Community: The Origin and Meaning of the Right to Bear Arms, 71 J. Am. Hist. 22 (1984).

Robert Dowlut, The Right To Keep And Bear Arms: A Right To Self-Defense Against Criminals And Despots, 8(1) Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 25 (Winter 1997).

Daniel A. Farber, Disarmed By Time: The Second Amendment and the Failure of Originalism, 76 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 167 (2000).

Paul Finkelman, “A Well-Regulated Militia”: The Second Amendment in Historical Perspective, 76 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 195 (2000).

Pratheepan Gulasekaram, Aliens With Guns: Equal Protection, Federal Power, and the Second Amendment, 92 Iowa L. Rev. 891 (2007).

Stephen P. Halbrook, What the Framers Intended: A Linguistic Analysis of the Right to “Bear Arms,” 49(1) Law & Contemp. Probs. 151 (Winter 1986).

R. Don Higginbotham, The Federalized Militia Debate: A Neglected Aspect of Second Amendment Scholarship, 55 Wm. & Mary Q. 39 (1998).

David Thomas Konig, The Second Amendment: A Missing Transatlantic Context for the Historical Meaning of “the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms,” 22 Law & Hist. Rev. 119 (2004).

Sanford Levinson, The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L. J. 637 (1989).

Nelson Lund, Outsider Voices on Guns and the Constitution, 17 Const. Comment. 701 (2000) (reviewing Stephen P. Halbrook, Freedmen, The Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876, Westport, Ct.: Praeger Pubs. 1998).

Jack N. Rakove, The Second Amendment: The Highest Stage of Originalism, 76 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 103 (2000).

Glenn Harlan Reynolds & Brannon P. Denning, It Takes a Militia: A Communitarian Case for Compulsory Arms Bearing, 5 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 185 (1996).

William Van Alstyne, The Second Amendment and the Personal Right to Arms, 43 Duke L. J. 1236 (1994).

Eugene Volokh, The Commonplace Second Amendment, 73 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 793 (1998).

David Yassky, The Second Amendment: Structure, History, and Constitutional Change, 99 Mich. L. Rev. 588 (2000).

Back to Top

Last Updated: 08/08/2012

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Labor History

Wow here is a great site for books that are about labor or labor related.

Monday, February 04, 2013

The Unfair Trade - Michael J. Casey

The Unfair Trade

How Our Broken Financial System Destroys the Middle Class

Michael J. Casey

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

Michael J. Casey is not an economist. He is a journalist. All through the book, I kept searching for his credentials. I could not believe that I was reading an economist. I looked him up again and I am very happy to confirm my notion that this fellow could not possibly be an economist. I don’t know where I ever got that idea.

Mr. Casey is a journalist and he works for the Wall Street Journal and something called the Dow Jones (Business and financial review, I presume.)

I looked him up before I requested this book. That should have been warning enough for the likes of my kind but I ordered the book nevertheless.

The title of the book “The Unfair Trade” and the subtitle “How Our Broken System Destroys the Middle Class” led me to believe that this book would defend the notion that Globalism is destroying the American middle class and explain the “how” of it all from the author’s perspective.

After reading this book, I did not find it to be a criticism of globalism. The author has found numerous problems with globalism but offers instead more, bigger and better, Globalism as the cure.

He had the same problem with the free market concept. He wants to tweak and adjust it to “level the playing field.” Well I don’t mean to be overly critical but if that is done, it is my understanding that we no longer have a free market utopian village, guided by the invisible hand of self regulation and automatic adjustment. We have a managed economy if not a totally communistic planned economy.

As for the middle class, I don’t feel that it is the American middle class that this author is concerned about, or the European middle class for that matter. It might be the middle class of Ethiopia or Paraguay but not America or Europe as far as I could tell.

Let me take you to the back of the book to Mr. Casey’s chapter on solutions.

“The United States’ long term fiscal challenges are indeed daunting. Future obligations of Medicare, Social Security and other retirement programs showed total unfunded liabilities of 62 trillion as of 2009, according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, or $540,000 in claims per household. With baby boomers now leaving the workforce, these liabilities will inevitably precipitate a crisis if they aren’t reduced, an exercise that will weigh on growth for years, probably decades. Such is the price to be paid for the credit binge of the previous decade and for the transition the country must make from a financial economy to a productive one in which exports play a more fundamental role … My view: convince retirees, those with the most distorting electoral clout, of the counterintuitive but truthful notion that their long term interests lie in having their entitlements reduced. If the burden of paying for them is instead borne by the young, the productive generation on which our future depends and the groups hardest hit by the 2008 crisis all will be held back…”

Peter G. Peterson? The multi-billionaire who has had a long going campaign to destroy not only Medicare but Social Security, unemployment and any and all programs involving a safety net for any American, young or old? Is it from this man’s right wing, propaganda outlet that Mr. Casey is quoting?

Yes it is.

Neither the author nor Mr. Peterson seems to have heard that Social Security is an insurance program that is funded by contributions and has nothing to do with the deficit or the National Debt or the current fiscal crises. In fact, Social Security is solvent for a couple of decades and presents no immediate problems never mind a crisis.

It also has a very, very easy fix for the future. Remove the cap (another form of subsidy to the wealthy) and the future of our children is also secure … almost forever.

Medicare’s problem is with rising health care costs. Control the costs and extend the coverage – single payer universal care for everybody would be my preference.

I have this book filled with notes written in the margins and at the bottom of many pages.

I don’t really feel it will be worth my time or yours to quote more from this author’s text. Let me write here a few of my random notes, just for laughs.

1) Intermingled Contingent Liabilities: Brokers were allowed to make risky deals but yet cover their butts by betting against their own future success. This led to fraudulent transactions where deals were cut solely for the purpose of collecting on their counter bets.

2) The author gives a basic Republican explanation of economic collapse but does not credit here the corrupt financial and business practices. Instead he blames the Fed, Fannie and Freddie for allowing the theft and fraud to happen. Rather ridiculous. It is like blaming a bank for tempting bank robbers with their locked vaults full of money. Better education, better jobs and higher wages for the next generation will pick up and counter future tax increases – not cutting workers, firing people and lower salaries. Austerity is the wrong answer for a depressed economy. Wait until inflation becomes a problem. Now is the time for spending not cutting.

3) China must surrender Communism and become a Capitalist country in order to participate in the many benefits of the author’s suggested new and revised globalism? Is he nuts? And they say the liberals are the utopian dreamers.

4) Once again the author blames America and Americans for the problems, not the “system” or the rich investment community that corrupted it.

5) The author talks of the creation of new industries and improved technology in BRIC countries but does not mention the directly related losses in jobs and industries here at home. Author also forgets to mention that China, Brazil and Russia are making all these wonderful gains under Socialist rule … not capitalist.
And so it goes.

I regret that I wasted so much of my valuable time rehashing all this, for the most part, right wing dribble when I could have been reading something important.

If I regret reading this book myself, how can I recommend it to anyone else? Sorry.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Chomsky on Anarchism

Chomsky on Anarchism By Noam Chomsky

Selected and edited By Barry Pateman

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

Noam Chomsky, I would say, is our number one American dissident. He is obviously an extremely intelligent individual. Reading any of his works is an experience to say the least. He has been around forever but my personal exposure is fairly recent.

He is tough on governments … all governments.

Which brings this reader to ask, “He certainly can’t be against ‘government’ in itself, can he?”
Well, it seems that he can.

He refers to himself as an anarchist.

Before I started researching Unionism in America and around the world, I was like most. I associated Anarchism with the word anarchy. This is not the case.

Anarchism and anarchist have a range that swings from terrorist to “do gooder” moral reformers.
But what about Mr. Chomsky? Where did he fall into this range?

What does Chomsky believe he is?

He is such a bitter critic of the U.S. and Israel and the world at large he prompts one to ask what solutions he has to offer to all our world problems.

Finding or figuring out what Mr. Chomsky believes and what his answers are is not as easy as it is with some other authors.

Bertrand Russell, for example, wrote an essay entitled “What I Believe”

Now Bertrand Russell was also a very intelligent man. Many of his works are beyond my level of understanding. Yet, one can pick up Bertrand’s work on this subject and when finished reading, have an understanding of his personal beliefs.

It is rather simple and straightforward.

It is not so simple with Mr. Chomsky. As far as I know with all of his books he has not written a book specifically dedicated to his personal beliefs, political or religious.

This volume consists of a group of selected essays and interviews through which the editor, Barry Pateman, attempts to expose to the reader the personal political beliefs of Mr. Chomsky, specifically related to his declaration of anarchism.

It begins with a dissertation written in 1969 by Mr. Chomsky on what he calls “Liberal Scholarship.”
This lecture is almost one hundred pages long.

The first half of the lecture deals with some of the published attitudes of these Liberal Scholars towards the Vietnam War.

I found this presentation very interesting especially with regards to the liberal scholarship on how to deal with insurgencies. I must admit that after a while the liberal scholars began sounding like Dr. Josef Mengele and other intellectuals and scientists of the Nazi era. This is a bit scary, especially when Noam gets into the scholars and their understanding and applications of the school of behaviorism, reward and punishment being the approved method as opposed to the idea of “winning hearts and minds.” That the human subjects of the insurgency were to be looked at and treated as in the category of animals, rats and monkeys and not human beings, was shocking coming from American sources.

One quote from one of the Liberal Intelligencia of the period in this section:

“Science, as everyone knows, is responsible, moderate, unsentimental, and otherwise good. Behavioral science tells us that we can be concerned only with behavior and control of behavior. Therefore we should be concerned only with behavior, and it is responsible, moderate, unsentimental and otherwise good to control behavior by appropriately applied reward and punishment. Concern for loyalties and attitudes is emotional and unscientific. As rational men, believers in the scientific ethic we should be concerned with manipulating behavior in a desirable direction and not be deluded by mystical notions of freedom, individual needs, or popular will.”

And this was part of the logic used to support the massive carpet bombing in the North and elsewhere, napalm and Agent Orange.

Though interesting and enlightening, I found no connection in this part of the lecture to anarchism.

In the second half of the lecture Professor Chomsky takes on the Spanish Civil war in the 1936 and 1937.

This is one area of World War II that I have neglected and it always has me confused. Like who supported who and what was going on altogether.

Well, as I understand now, Franco was a Fascist. He was aided militarily and supportively by both the Germans under Hitler and the Italians under Mussolini.

Winston Churchill seems to be the only one in Europe who did not line up with Franco – one of his better decisions. He made some doozies. But Chamberlain and the British government did. They were more fearful of the spread of Russian Communism than fascism. At this time they looked at Hitler and his Nazi government as a possible future ally against Stalin and the Russians.

Roosevelt, in America, had much the same attitude.

So, consequently, we had the free world all lined up in support of another fascist in Europe.

There were Russian supported communists also participating in this mess. What was interesting for me to learn was that these Spanish communists had very dissimilar views from their Russian theoretical benefactors. It might be more accurate to state that the Russian Communists were no longer the saviors of the working class, if they ever were. In this conflict, the Spanish Communist and the Russians supported the established Republic, not the revolt of the workers as one might expect. The worker revolt in Spain at the time was the purview of Mr. Chomsky’s anarchists.
Professor Chomsky is no supporter of Russian Communism. He goes on at some length expressing his distaste for Lenin, Stalin and what they helped to evolve in the Russian Federation. Make no mistake; Chomsky is no fan of Russian Communism.

But in this half of the story the author gets into Anarchism and the several anarchist takeovers going on at this time as a part of this attempted overthrow of the Republic.

It is all very confusing, but Noam uses this part of his lecture to defend the anarchists and their attempts and successes against the Liberal Historical offerings of other experts.

Anarchism here, I interpret as “worker control” of whatever … an industry, a farm, a town or local government or all of the above.

The Lincoln Brigade and Earnest Hemmingway and “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” by the way, were anti-fascist and supported the Republic.

An interview which begins on pages 133 and discusses “The Relevance of Anarcho-Syndicalism” makes it very plain to me that what the author refers to as Social Libertarianism offers no solutions to our present government addiction. In order for the dreams and aspirations of this group to become a possibility requires a fundamental transformation in human nature, “an inner spiritual awakening” of sorts is the aspiration of the author. I don’t see such a thing ever happening.

In the author’s anarchist world there is no need for militaries and “in a decent society everyone should have the opportunity to find interesting work.”

Yeah, that would be nice. “Miss, this toast is burnt. My check please and don’t expect a tip.”

The author says he is a Social Libertarian. This is to be distinguished from the popular right wing libertarians so prominent on the political scene today.

I have read mostly right wing libertarians and they have a similar problem. They have a lot of things they would like to do away with but have very few realistic solutions as to what these things might be replaced with where necessary.
We all have dreams but are they possible must be considered also.

There is one constant refrain throughout this book. It goes like this: I don’t know the answer to that question; I’m not trying to be evasive; We’ll just have to wait and see; We just don’t know; it will require time and experimentation.

Mr. Chomsky has a dream but even he has no picture of this dream to convey. In truth, he doesn’t know what it is himself. If he does, it didn’t come through to me.

In the meantime he has a whole world of criticisms and very good criticisms of what is going on around us under our very noses. He is always a champion against violence, needless killing and wars in general.

He is always worth reading. He sees things that most of us never notice and often aren’t even aware of.

He does admit in one interview in this work that he is not in favor of all revolutionary changes. For example he would rather support the status quo in America today and its present Obama Government than support right wing radicals, like the Tea Baggers, whose ideas would certainly make things worse, in his opinion.

I definitely agree with that.

One last criticism. The word “freedom” needs to be defined. Freedom is one of those words like justice, truth, and God. They can be defined a million ways by a million different people.

For example, if I say, “All people should speak the truth, seek and promote justice and live their lives according to the will of God,” what have I said?

This phrase could be cheered by Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Protestants, Skinhead Nazis, soldiers on both lines of most battlefields and the majority of even our present day Congress – Republican and Democrat. Even Atheists could support it depending on the definition of God.

I read a very good book by Eric Foner a while back entitled “The Story of American Freedom.” In this work Mr. Foner follows the word “freedom” throughout American history. As he points out, depending on the current definition, one man’s freedom can be another man’s slavery as was the exact case in the American Civil War.

The Hobo Philosopher, Richard Edward Noble, is a writer and author of: America On Strike.