Monday, June 27, 2016

Week of 06/27/2016

You Brexit You Bought It... (And A Few Other Thoughts)
So once again we enter a time when a whole bunch of things popped up, and rather than try to focus on just one of them, I have to try to get them all.
So here we go...
Brexit: The absolute big news this past week is England’s decision to leave the European Union.  The so-called “experts” said that it really wouldn’t happen.  That this was just the sour grapes of a few malcontents in England and this would all blow over once people realize what would be at stake.
Hell, the financial world bet the farm on England remaining with the EU!
That, I think, should have been the first warning sign right there.  Any time the financial world does that, they often lose.  And “they” don’t really lose; the rest of the world does.
I’m not going to try to pretend to know everything about what was going on with England and the European Union.  But I will suggest that both England and the EU deserved this vote.
First you have a country that really wasn’t embracing the EU.  It was like they were still in the trial period and they just can’t make up their mind to commit.  Hell, they were still working on the pound currency instead of wholeheartedly embracing the Euro.
Second, you still have a whole bunch of people pissed off over what happened in 2008 with the Great Recession.  Yes, the 1% ended up with the gold over there too... and everyone else got the shaft.  And then add to that a whole bunch of people from Eastern Europe and the Middle East who were looking for work, and you get a whole segment of the populace pissed off at “outsiders”.  Hell, in this country they’d be called “’Muricans” and would be voting for Trump.
So you have Europe and the British politicians that quite simply underestimated the discontent that is in England right now.  They either dismissed the group outright, or they just ignored the grumbling masses.  What they thought was a meaningless gesture is now a swift kick in the bullocks.
The funny part is all of the Monday morning quarterbacking of the vote and how the so-called “experts” screwed up.  They’re ready to blame anything and everything that doesn’t include the word “ourselves” in it.  The media script says that the voters somehow didn’t “understand” what was at stake when they voted to leave the EU.  They point to one jerkoff that claimed that he didn’t think his vote “really mattered”.  Excuse me?  The whole “my vote don’t matter” excuse is supposed to be used when you don’t vote, not as an excuse for how you voted!  Another script says that the British newspaper, The Sun, is to blame for the surprise victory because they ran an 11th hour “special”.  Guess who owns that?  Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News.
So now we have the markets crashing, the British Pound getting so cheap it could practically be sold at Wal-Mart, the pompous elitists in the EU demanding that England go ahead and leave right this very minute (spoiler alert: that won’t happen and that’s by design and they damn well know that), Scotland and Northern Ireland wanting to do their own reverse-Brexit from the UK, France wanting to do their own “Brexit”, and the self-promoting clown, Donald “The Ego” Trump, taking credit for all of it.
In short, folks, I think this will be a learning moment for both England and Europe.  You don’t ignore the masses that you’ve been screwing over.  You’d think that England, of all places, would keep that in mind, but, then again, they still celebrate Guy Fawkes Day as an insult to the grumbling masses, not as an important lesson.  You know what they say about those that fail to learn the lessons of history...
Orlando Crisis Loons and the “Sit-In” – So after a screwed-up loser shoots up a gay nightclub in Orlando, murders forty-nine people, and pledges allegiance to two warring Islamic factions that hate each other (which is like pledging allegiance to both the Hatfields and the McCoys) before being done in, we have our usual political temper tantrums about how to supposedly “prevent” these things from happening again.
The chicken-hawk fascists on their masturbatory fixation on hating Islam say that we need to embrace Trump’s McCarthist anti-Islam policies.  That and bomb more places around the world... just ‘cuz.  Hell, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the pompous adulterous hypocrite, is even suggesting we should resurrect McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities!  Oh, and did I forget to mention that Gingrich is supposedly a contender to be Trump’s running mate for the GOP ticket?
But the liberals aren’t any better!  They have their same broken record script that they’re gurgitating faster than a Hollywood bulimic with a seven-course meal and a bottle of ipecac.  Their script is even simpler: Ban guns, ban guns, ban guns, ban-ban-ban g-g-g-g-uns!
I know it sounds like a no-brainer to say that someone who is on the “no-fly list” shouldn’t be able to get a gun, but that list in and of itself is an Orwellian wet dream that needs to be taken to a shooting range and used as target practice.  You don’t know if you’re on “the list” until you go to the airport and find yourself on that list.  There are no set standards for being on “the list”, and no recourse that can be made if you are on “the list” and you’re not supposed to be.  And who determined whether or not you should be on “the list”?  And what kind of accountability is made if someone puts you on “the list” and they’re not supposed to?
It’s rather ingenious if you think about it, because the liberals are using the favorite weapon of the neo-conservatives born from their fanatical obsession of 9/11 against them!
The only problem is, they can’t win, even with this weapon.  They don’t have a majority in either side of Congress.
So the Democrats decided to stage a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Good old-fashioned sit-in from the 60’s!  Led by Congressman John Lewis, no less!
Unfortunately for him, it still didn’t work.  Speaker Paul “Mister Budget” Ryan simply adjourned the House early.  It was useless, just like Senator Ted Cruz’s filibuster a few months ago.
My problem is this: the same people that were calling Canadian-born Cruz a “hero” for his filibuster stunt were mocking and making fun of Congressman Lewis for his sit-in.  I may not agree with what the Congressman is pushing for, but he’s been putting his neck out for what he believes in far more times than anyone on the opposite side ever has! 
Would you take a fire hose to the face and a police baton to your gut for what you believe in?  Would you be willing to go to jail for what you believe in?  I don’t see any of those gutless chickenhawks willing to do any of that.  They’d rather be holding the truncheon instead of being on the receiving end of it.
I’ll make this painfully simple for those “’Muricans” who suffer from Fox News ADD: If you hold your allies to one standard and your opponents to a separate one, then you forfeit any claim to be a champion of the rule of law!  If you can’t tell the difference between the rule of law and the rule of egotistical sociopaths, then you are the problem in our society, not the solution.
Speaking of Orlando Crisis... – We’re all obsessively fixated on the nutcase with the automatic weapon, but he wasn’t the only villain in Orlando that weekend.  There was the premeditated murder of “Voice” singer Christina Grimmie at her concert just the day earlier, and then the death of a two-year old boy at the hands of an alligator not far from Disney World.  Three tragedies in the same weekend in the same area... I’d hate to be part of the tourism board over there right about now.
And that brings me to my last subject...
Speaking of Loons... – The mass-shooting in Orlando has turned the LGBT community into the momentary cause-to-protect group.  It was a year ago this week that the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriages were constitutionally valid nationwide, but that didn’t change the minds of those bible-thumping extremists, nor those of the Fox News crowd that saw the decision as a complete and utter failure of the United States.  But now, after the shooting, those same factions are in a bind because of a self-professed Muslim extremist.  Now they have to support the very group that they spent last year wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth over.  There is a part of me that is laughing over that little bit of tragic karma.
But not everyone in the Fox News crowd has signed on to the new protect-the-group mission.  There are still some extremists that see the LGBT community as being biblically evil.  And they’re not afraid to say that the Muslim loon who couldn’t decide which extremist group to support on the phone was not only “right”, but that he didn’t go far enough. 
Yes, those people still exist.  And they’re not afraid to say what they believe.
Unfortunately, they’re getting an ugly taste of the very persecution that the rest of their political allies used to dish out.  Their signs are being vandalized and they are facing vocal threats.
And I have a serious problem with that.
Let’s get brutally honest here... while I’m not a supporter of the anti-LGBT crowd, I recognize that they have every right to say what they believe on church signs and their own home signs.  It’s called the First Amendment, and it was the very constitutional amendment that the LGBT crowd celebrated this time last year.  And if you really do love freedom as I do, then you have to show the same kind of tolerance for their hatred as you expect others to show for you.
Tolerance is not one-sided.  It’s not “do as I say not as I do”.  That’s the hypocrisy of our joint enemies.  Don’t be like them.  Be better than them.  Show them how it’s done through example, not through posturing. 
A lot has happened in the past two decades that I’ve been doing online commentary, but the really important stuff didn’t happen overnight.  It happened when we decided that we needed to be better than what we once were.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week of 06/20/2016

The Myth Of The “Wealth Effect”
Imagine, if you will, a nasty car accident.  One with many vehicles involved, wide-spread damage, loss of life, and traffic jammed for several hours.  But the driver of the vehicle responsible for the accident somehow manages to not be injured at all.  Not one scratch.  However, the trauma of the accident caused him or her to suffer from temporary amnesia.  They have no idea what happened.
So here’s the challenge: imagine trying to explain what happened to that driver.  But you can’t do it in a way that lets the driver know that he or she caused the accident.  Maybe the driver is a loved one or a relative.  Maybe you have something to gain from the driver being free.  Either way, you have to let them know what happened without telling them that they were the cause of it.
Think you can do it?
I think that’s what some in financial media is going through right now. 
They’re trying to explain to their audience what is going on in America, not to mention pretty much most of the westernized world, when it comes to our overall malaise concerning the economy.
On one hand, everything is going great since the Great Recession ended.  Profits have been through the roof.  Business has never been better.
But on the other hand, there has been this general malaise among the masses.  They aren’t buying houses like they should.  They’re not buying cars like they should.  They’re not consuming like they should.  The fact that consignment stores are prospering while the normal clothing stores are shutting down is proof enough.  People aren’t happy.  How else can you explain why they’re voting for a self-promoting clown act like Donald Trump as the GOP’s nominee for President?  How else can you explain the continued support for an admitted “democratic socialist” like Senator Bernie Sanders even after his rival, Hillary Clinton, is now the presumptive Democratic Party nominee?  Don’t they know the Great Recession is “over with”?  Don’t they know that the economy is “fixed” and they are free to spend again?
You see, what should be happening is a little thing called the “Wealth Effect”.  That’s the idea that if people feel that they’re making more money, they’ll spend more money.  If they feel wealthier, they’ll spend and consume more.
And the media, along with President Barack Obama and his ilk, certainly are singing from the same choir book on this.  And while some in America are going along with the chanting, a whole bunch of other people are mumbling and grumbling the opposite.  They don’t feel “wealthy”.  They feel like they’re getting left behind.  To most Americans, the Great Recession never ended.  It’s still going on.
So now, those in the financial media are trying to explain this to their audience - the ones that are singing loudly from the choir book about how great the economy is - because their audience just can’t understand why the “wealth effect” isn’t reaching everyone like it should.
One writer tried desperately to explain this as being the fault of government.  According to that writer, many Americans are feeling burdened by taxes and regulations, so they just aren’t spending like they “should”.  This theory follows the tried-and-true K-Street scapegoating of “the government” as some shady villain that is intentionally “ruining things” for the people.  They also conveniently forget that K-Street is often guilty of coming up with many of the regulations that they complain about, and they do so on behalf of the greedy money-grubbing profit-at-all-costs corporations.
Another so-called “expert” actually came close to the truth and said that there are actually “two economies”; one for the super-rich, and one for everyone else.  And while the super-rich economy is doing great, the economy for everyone else is barely getting by.  This is actually a good explanation, and far better than saying “the government broke it”.  But it doesn’t really address the problem.
Let’s get brutally honest here... the truth of the matter is that the so-called “Wealth Effect” is a lie.  It’s a confidence game just like any other con out there.  Trying to get people to believe that they have more money just so they can spend more money is no different than if you’re telling them they won some foreign lottery or some sweepstakes they never entered in.  It’s just a con game with a larger group of beneficiaries.
The truth of the matter is that what we are seeing is a long string of broken promises made by politicians and pundits on behalf of big corporations and their K-Street lobbying groups.  The broken promise repeated over and over that if we bail out Wall Street, that Wall Street would bail out Main Street, and then Main Street would then bail out Our Street.  They call it “trickle-down economics” and it’s been the promise that has been given to us since the days of Ronald Reagan.  Well, something has been “trickling” down us, but it’s not money, jobs, or opportunities.
And while I would otherwise be a supporter of this idea, I’ve been in this game long enough to recognize it as being just another game to Big Corporate.  They get the tax breaks, the bailouts, the get-out-of-jail-with-a-fine card, they get the preferential treatment, but when the profits come in, they claim that the economy is just “too unstable” to hold up their end of the deal.  So they rake in the money while the masses suffer and make do with less and less and less.
If governments large and small want the masses to actually spend more money, then they need to start putting pressure on the only group that has been feeling the “wealth effect”.  They need to stop trying to lie to the masses and actually let them feel more wealth.  Only then will they actually spend it.