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Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Pet Peeves of 2010—My Lewis Black self-indulgent moment

In Current Events, Entertainment, History on December 31, 2010 at 21:45

Here is a list of pet peeves for 2010. They are all tied for first place and not ranked.

Obama’s bipartisanship: Republican Party rigidness.

“Obamacare”—the name, the discussion, the fake debate, the delay in implementation, the bill itself.

Vegetarians who think anyone who eats meat is an insensitive bastard who doesn’t know how “cruel it is” to eat meat.

People who comment on my articles and videos who think insults are facts.

Air guitar and the affiliated air instruments.

Tribute bands. I can’t wait for my trip to Vegas to see the Miley Cyrus Experience and Boy II Men Again tribute shows.

Heroes substituting for good social policy. Good thing we have all those people feeding the poor during the holidays because we have a tax policy that allows jobs to go overseas. Yea America! Way to love thy neighbor folks.

People who get congratulated for covering a song someone else wrote just because the song they covered is a good one even if their version sucks. I especially love it when people like Celine Dion tries to be hard by singing “You shook me all night Long” or Pat Boone sings from his heavy metal album.

<object width=”480″ height=”360″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/xoyun?width=&theme=none&foreground=%23F7FFFD&highlight=%23FFC300&background=%23171D1B&start=&animatedTitle=&iframe=0&additionalInfos=0&autoPlay=0&hideInfos=0″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always”></param></object><br /><b><a href=”http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xoyun_you-shook-me-all-night-long_music”>You shook me all night long</a></b><br /><i>Uploaded by <a href=”http://www.dailymotion.com/razfin”>razfin</a&gt;. – <a target=”_self” href=”http://www.dailymotion.com/us/channel/music”>Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.</a></i>

The rules for capitalization state that the word “Internet” gets a capital letter. Was that the proper name the military gave it? Why don’t we capitalize “Radio” and “Television” then?

People who don’t teach telling teachers how to teach. Moreover, I have disdain for anyone that implements an expensive testing regimen before finding out if the tests are valid or test student achievement. Well, if you are trying to test memorization and test taking skills, mission accomplished.

Movies about boxing. Shouldn’t writers and directors have stopped those projects after Raging Bull came out?

People who thank God (or Jesus) for winning a football game or winning a Grammy or any other personally aggrandizing pursuit. Do you really think that the mythical man in the sky really cares about sports and awards?

I’m tired of people being tired of vampires and Harry Potter.

When do I get my own talk show?

Articles based on quotes instead of articles about substantive issues. Why is what Sarah Palin, John Boehner, Christine O’Donnell or Glenn Beck said news? At least Boehner will soon be speaker of the house, god bless him.

Capitalizing the word god when you are a non-believer.

Scapegoating immigrants for everything from lack of jobs to tooth decay.

Too much Mark Zuckerberg and not enough Aung San Suu Kyi.

John McCain. I’m not sure who the man is any more than he knows who he is. Aren’t you ready for your tribute in the Senate yet Mr. McCain? At least Jon Kyl has been consistently bigoted and racist plutocrat his whole life.

News about how the middle class is suffering. What about the poor? Yea, I know, they don’t vote or give you money or work in the Fortune 500 companies as your lumpen prols.

Lies about taxes. Taxes ate my baby!!

Homophobia. Sure, they’re not homophobic if they are against gay marriage, gays in the military or think gays can be cured. It’s okay if you want to call it religious bigotry and not homophobia. You decide.

Racism denial by racists. And everyone in prison is innocent too.

Drone attacks.

The Bill of Rights can be ignored when it suits the narrow agenda of the powerful. Examples: unlawful detentions, spying, extrajudicial assassinations, banning a legally permitted mosque, etc.

Jon Stewart being one of the only sources of sane commentary on television. Luckily for you, you are reading my blog where sane commentary and humility reign.

The royal family’s return to prominence because Prince William is getting married. Why do people in Britain and America (and Australia?) care so much about the royals? Is Manchester United having a bad football season in London, or what? Don’t they get MTV and Lady Gaga videos in Great Britain and the Commonwealth?

References in articles to people few people know, like Lewis Black.

2010.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Happy 2011 y’all!

Congress and the White House to the Middle Class, “It’s for your own good”

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics on December 28, 2010 at 01:14

The Democratic and Republican plutocrats have once again called on the spirit of the middle class in order to grant largess on the richest Americans while further abandoning the lower classes.

To “defend the middle class tax cuts”, Obama and Congress have increased the deficit by about $900 billion dollars.  Only $53 billion goes to extending unemployment (less than 6%), $75 billion goes to upper bracket tax cuts.

The estate tax will be capped at 35% with a $5 million dollar exemption, meaning only families with estates larger than $5 million will pay anything. http://abovethelaw.com/2010/12/estate-tax-compromise-could-save-thousands-of-lives-of-millionaires/ The exemption was $1 million and would have returned in January if not for the compromise. Remember, these benefits for the wealthy were to protect the middle class and their tax cuts.

Republicans demanded “liberalization” of the estate tax on inherited wealth as the second part of the payback to the rich in exchange for letting workers and the unemployed keep their benefits and income for the coming year. Why not? After all, corporations and the rich lavished hundreds of millions on their Republican rubber-stamps through anonymous campaign contributions  in the November midterm elections.  Now they want theirs!! Along with extension of the billions in Bush era tax cuts on income, the rich certainly got a huge return on their investment: $139 Billion for just the top 2% of the population, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities! The campaign contributions were enabled by the outrageous Supreme Court decision which permits “corporate fronts” to contribute unlimited funds to candidates without ever revealing the names of the  real donors.

http://www.politicalaffairs.net/estate-tax-giveaway-i-paid-my-millions-now-i-want-my-billions/

In order to defend the middle class, the social security tax will be reduced from 6.20% to 4.20% in 2011 (Ibid). That extra $20 dollars for every thousand you earn will boost the economy, I’m sure. These cuts could lead to further reductions in the Social Security payments, in defense of the middle class, in the future and be used as a reason to privatize the program.

The middle class protection act also allows U.S. citizens to assist large businesses as they make products to sell to you. The R&D tax credits will be continued, so the middle classes and others that pay taxes can pay for companies to do research and make a profit. Hey, it’s not socialism if it’s government money for corporations. As long as government money doesn’t go to people to get jobs or unemployment insurance or health care, it’s well spent. Now that would be socialism. And besides, paying for the R&D of companies helps the middle classes by ensuring the development of new products to buy. Who doesn’t like new consumer products? Only commies!

In addition, the middles classes will help businesses with that 100% write off of their purchases in equipment in 2011 and 50% in 2012. Well, it’s not like we haven’t giving deductions for capital purchases already. What I like about this deduction is that is screwed toward larger and more well financed companies, for they will be able to buy more equipment and get larger deductions.
http://www.chicagocriminaltaxattorneys.com/criminaltax/details-of-the-tax-compromise/

Sure, unemployment payments were extended 13 months and the middle classes had their tax cuts continued. But that wouldn’t matter if this didn’t help the business and upper classes, right?

Perhaps our Congress should work like tradition Chinese medical practitioners who didn’t get paid by a patient if they were sick. They would only be paid by healthy patients. Perhaps Congress could forgo their pay as long as unemployment was over 5%.

The super rich wins!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFdN2zbXbKk&feature=player_embedded

Tax cut compromise misdirection

Joe Biden, from the LA Times:

This bipartisan effort was prompted by the fact that tax rates for every American were poised to automatically increase on January 1st. If that had come to pass, the average middle-class family would have had to pay an extra $3,000 in taxes next year. That wouldn’t have just been a blow to them — it would have been a blow to our economy just as we’re climbing out of a devastating recession.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/12/obama-biden-bush-era-tax-cuts.html

That would amount to $250 a month, which can be a lot for many people. But what is the average middle class family? How much do you earn to receive this discount? According to the conservative Tax Foundation website, the middle-income bracket was 37,000-60,000 in 2007. http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/22600.html And their tables show the various brackets various rates going up if the tax rates expires. http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/151.html

The President, wholeheartedly — wholeheartedly committed to serving the middle class. And that’s what happens when you have a President who knows in his gut that the middle class is the backbone of the American people, and that a full economic recovery will only happen if we have — if they, the middle class, have the support they need in order to succeed. Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

Applause indeed. And to help the middle class slop their kidney pie, the wealthy had to be served their Beef Wellington first.

What about the swelling poor, hungry, homeless and unemployed in America? The tax cuts don’t create jobs in the amount we need. In fact, the job growth from tax cuts is near zero. The wealthy don’t spend it. At best, the tax cuts were a give away so the President could get a few scraps. Unemployment was extended, and that is a kind of stimulus that does create jobs and spending.

The President says, “Middle class tax cuts not a game” (link). In his speech, he said “middle class” eleven times in his call to vote for the middle class tax cuts.

The Democrats didn’t even force a vote against middle class tax cuts by the Democrats before caving. It’s another indications of poor leadership and a loss of the political message, what sociologists call framing.

Even if a plurality of the American public favored reinstating tax rates for those families making over $250,000 dollars a year as well as being in favor of a middle class tax cut, Obama and the Democrats didn’t fight for that position. They didn’t want to make the Republicans face the consequences of one vote against middle class tax cuts. Do you really think the Republicans wouldn’t have taken the current deal after having block a return to the Clinton area rates for their wealthy patrons? Here’s how it works Mr. President and Congressional Democrats:

Steps:

1. Pass a middle class tax cut and bring it to the Senate.

2. Use reconciliation to avoid the Republican filibuster and get a debate on it. Get the Republicans on record lying about how the tax cuts for the top brackets create jobs. Get your VP or other mouthpiece to point out the lies on the nightly news. By the way, the reconciliation process was used to get the tax cuts passed in the first place, so that justifies it’s use to get rid of the cuts.

3. If the Republicans succeed, The President can go to them and act contrite. He could say, “You got me, now here’s the deal”.

4. Then you offer the deal you ended up with. You don’t give up on the deal before even putting up a fight. And if you are going to “compromise” you make the Republicans look as much like the plutocrats they are.

If the White House and Democrats tried this, it didn’t get a lot of press. Why all the behind the scenes negotiating? Why not make the votes embarrassing for the Republicans? Is it that Democrats and Republicans are feeding from the same trough and in the end, they are on the same team?

I don’t see much effort to get a better deal for the lower classes and be more fiscally sound. In the meantime, the gap between rich and poor is wider than ever. The appearance that Obama didn’t really try is clouding his image. The same is true for Democratic Senators. They could have pushed the issue with the Republicans, but they didn’t.

The question remains as to why the Democrats didn’t address the issue of taxes the last two years. Part of the problem was the time spent on the health care bill. More and more, I see that bill as a waste of time and political capital even if there are some positive changes in the bill regarding pre-existing conditions.

This compromise appears to be the best Congress and the White House can do because they can’t upset their benefactors, the wealthy classes. That shows just how far out of touch with reality politics has become. And when the budget comes up for cuts, you can bet that Republicans and what’s left of the decimated Blue Dog Democrats will got after Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and the new health care bill, few of the only laws in the U.S. that help make our society more equitable.

While the middle class get their tax cuts, who is going to employ all the teachers, nurses, police officers, and others that have been laid off due to tightening state budgets? Is this “stimulus” as pundits have called this tax bill going to bring back their jobs? And what of the rising credit costs, the rising tuition in universities, the weakened infrastructure, the lack of health inspectors? Is the middle class prepared to pay more so the wealthy can get their tax cut?

Who’s going defend the public when more police are laid off because no one is working? Who is going to pay for the road maintenance? Who is going to pay your increased property taxes, the increased sales taxes, the increased car registration fees that will ensue because the billionaires got a tax cuts and states can no longer afford to pay for services? The middle class, the lower classes, everyone. But the billionaires will have enough to pay them. Be careful of Trojan Horses.

Do we really want to borrow billions from China to give the wealthiest 6,600 estates a tax break averaging more than $1.5 million?

The fact is, that when you give the wealthiest Americans a tax cut history shows that they will save the money rather than spend it. (link)

And yet the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which conferred almost all their benefits on the rich, continue.

Democrats have decided to delay voting on whether to extend them for the top 2 percent of Americans or for the bottom 98 percent until after the mid-term elections.

Democrats have thereby given up a defining issue that could have enabled them to show the big story of the last three decades — the accumulation of almost all the gain from economic growth at the top — and to make a start at reversing it. When will they ever learn?

http://www.truth-out.org/the-super-rich-get-richer-everyone-else-gets-poorer-and-democrats-punt63544

From: http://sensen-no-sen.blogspot.com/2010/07/land-of-greatly-diminished-opportunity.html

In “Introducing the Great Divergence”, Timothy Noah writes,
“That was when (1920s) the richest 1 percent accounted for 18 percent of the nation’s income. Today, the richest 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation’s income.”

Let’s look at it this way:

1% of the population

Controls about this much of the national income.

In what types of government is this gap considered righteous? I guess if you were a monarchy, this makes sense. And in a dictatorship where the top 1% would be the leader and his family this would be normal. Czarist Russia was much like this. And the plutocratic United States has this distribution. I am so glad our national government has passed another bill to increase this discrepancy.

The Income Gap

http://chattahbox.com/us/2010/09/28/census-data-middle-class-wiped-out-by-record-gap-between-rich-and-poor/

Happy New Year Everyone!

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Today is the Best Day to Be Kind

In Current Events, Religion on December 23, 2010 at 23:52

Phil Jackson, coach of the Los Angeles Lakers known for his Zen-like Buddhist qualities, has joined the chorus defending Christmas from the scourge of heathens wanting people to work during the holiest holiday of the calendar year, December 25.

“Now, I see they have like six games (actually, five) on Christmas. It’s like Christian holidays don’t mean anything to (the NBA) anymore. You just go out and play and entertain (on) TV. It’s really weird.””

Yea, it’s really weird that millionaires who entertain the public for a living might be asked to work on Christmas like millions of other people at airports, in restaurants, in convenience stores, in hospitals and fire and police stations around the nation. Yea, it’s weird that the NBA might want to make money out of a holiday like Christmas. Nobody else in America is trying to make money and commercialize Christmas. How dare the NBA try to commercialize a Christian holiday.

I’ll make a deal with you Phil. If you want to take the day off, I will coach for you for the $122,000 you get per game. I will even provide my own transportation to Los Angeles. Heck, with Kobe Bryant on the Lakers, the team basically coaches itself. Jackson will make over $10 million dollars to coach the Lakers this year.  http://www.nesn.com/2010/12/phil-jackson-in-no-position-to-complain-about-working-on-christmas-day.html Do I begrudge him his salary? No. But his complaints about working on Christmas are out of touch and belittles all hard-working Americans.

Who here feels sad for Republican Senators and Representatives who had to do the hard job of voting no on bills before Christmas? Many Americans work up to the 24th of December, get Christmas off, and if they don’t take vacation days, go back to work the next business day or the 26th, whichever is sooner. Senator Kyl and Senator DeMint are “outraged” by this intrusion into the Christmas season by making them work as much as other Americans who still have jobs do every year. http://www.politicususa.com/en/gop-christmas-hypocrisy

“It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing – frankly, without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff,” Kyl said Tuesday.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/15/senators-argue-over-christmas/

How dare Senator Reid and Representative Pelosi make these poor beleaguered Christians work. Kyl and DeMint must see themselves as Christians who are being put upon by Herod, the Democrats, and they are the innocent Christian babies in Bethlehem or the Christians in the Coliseum fighting lions.

While I don’t call myself a Christian, I was taught that Christians, and Christ, are on earth to help others. By passing unemployment insurance, ending DADT, and passing the START treaty during December, Congress has help millions be able to eat, serve without discrimination or breaking the eighth commandment injunction against bearing false witness and increased peace on earth by reducing the number of nuclear weapons on our planet. Working during December to better the planet is a great Christian act. At least that is what this Taoist-leaning humanist learned about authentic Christians during his childhood.

A few other things to note: First, humans are the one’s who sanctified Dec. 25th. There is nothing more sacred about that day than any other except there is common agreement on its value. Second, why didn’t we hear Joe Liebermann or Bernie Sanders complain when they worked on days of Hanukkah? Perhaps they see their duty as Senators is something worth taking seriously? Perhaps they aren’t looking for an excuse to avoid work? What about Ralph Ellison, the only openly Muslim Congress Member? He worked during Ramadan without a peep. Why? Because like it is in Christianity, the call to service in Islam is strong.

What about the pagans that worked on the Solstice, or the atheists that had to put up with the Christian ramblings during Senate hearings?  How about the unemployed, homeless, poor, and other suffering Americans who would gratefully work any job on the holidays? Do Republican Senators really care?

When is the best day to help others, to be of service, to talk with whatever god you believe in, to be kind to someone? Today is the best day.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

P.S. Tex Shelters will be posting against next week, on the 27 or 28 of December, the heathen!

Twas the Night Before Christmas—a Tex Shelters version for 2010

In Current Events, Economics, Humor on December 17, 2010 at 18:32

Twas the Night Before Christmas—a Tex Shelters version for 2010

(Play the audio while you read along: sorry, couldn’t link the audio only version, yet)

Twas the Night before Christmas, when all through the House
failed ideas were stirring, from Congressmen’s mouths
platitudes were spun by the podium with care
that deficits would be cut with John Boehner there

The billionaires were nested in their diamond-crusted toboggans
While visions of slave labour danced in their noggins
Obama and Clinton tried hard to run this village
along with corporate pirates on their long winter’s pillage

When out on the mall I heard such a noise
Glenn Beck held a rally for his Tea Party boys
Holding signs with slogans calling Obama a commie
crying for Santa, Jesus and their mommy

The media shone on the new-minted star
“Republicans love America more, by far”
When from my bloodshot eyes should arise
riding bloodless horses were death’s allies in human disguise

Came a buxom hot driver, so delightful and spunky
I knew in a moment that she was no flunky
More rapid than glaciers her clever quips came
faster than teen pregnancy Sarah Palin met fame

Now Koch, now Wal-Mart, now Citigroup and Kaiser,
On AmEx, On Goldman Sachs, On AIG, and Pfizer
To the top of the Congressional steps, to the top of the list
Now take away, take away, take legislative gifts

As the empty cupboards in the recession they dry
When they meet the Congressman who loves to cry
So up to the lobbyists the Congressmen flew
every year the donations and the lobbying grew

And then in a cheer I heard from the rich
The dancing on graves in delight made them twitch
As democracy died and was hitting the ground
in our pockets and bank accounts the plutocrats bound

They were dressed up in gold from their teeth to their soles
felt they deserved our money, they were brutishly bold
a bundle of bills have been written for them
then they took all our clothes, down to the hem

Their eyes did shimmer, their portfolios merry
they took from the government, they were never wary
that they would pay for the benefits they got
if you own Congress, you’ll never get caught

On their list of excuses for taking such wealth
Was that it was good for everyone, the economies health
They said if the government stopped all their plunder
The economy would falter; it would be a blunder

They became chubby and fat on all of our cash
ending their tax cuts would be too rash
they promised that there would be no more jobs
if we tried to make sure they couldn’t rob

They’d say that the tax cuts created work
if you disagreed with facts, you were a big jerk
And sticking their fingers inside our nose
They gave a nod to Congress as their profits rose

Congress stopped payments, to those unemployed
This part of the job they really enjoyed
increasing the suffering and holiday plight
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Hero Hypocrisy: Part One, we are NOT the world.

In Current Events, Economics, World Affairs on December 12, 2010 at 20:36

Author’s Note
There may or may not be a part 2, 3, or 4, but I feel this could be a multipart post. I generally don’t like post in parts, nor do I like reading blogs in parts, but this issue is too big and complicated for one post. This part can also stand alone. I suspect that during this season of fake giving and political taking, there will be more. I have already started part 2 on U.S. poverty hypocrisy.

Excerpt from the Benjamin Hoff translation of the Tao Te Ching, Tao Te Ching: The Way of Life

When deceit begins,
Honesty is discovered.
When weakness develops,
Strength is recognized.
When arrogance increases,
Respect is appreciated.
When cruelty becomes common,
Kindness is admired.
When treachery is everywhere,
Loyalty is rewarded.

A nation of heroes
Is a nation in trouble.

During the Thanksgiving holiday this year, CNN had a tribute to heroes. The event honored people who spent their lives helping others. That is how they came to be honored. However, all I could think about when I saw this was on the air was that quote from the Tao, “A nation of heroes is a nation in trouble.”

How afflicted is our world that these people have to sacrifice their lives to these causes while the rest of the world looks the other way?  And how pathological must our society be that we address these issues once a year, honor those doing the work that a healthy society would not require, while the rest of the year our greed, ignorance and apathy fuels the very crises we donate money to?

Several of CNN’s heroes were involved in providing food for the hungry including Narayanan Krishnan and Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow. I salute that, but the very need for such food assistance is troubling in a world that provides so much.

Governments protect markets to keep the prices of food high; the U.S. dumps grains on the world market to control the market, or cuts back to keep prices high.

Levels of U.S. dumping

Analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to compare the cost of production with farm gate and export prices of five major commodities, it is clear that there is widespread dumping by U.S. grain companies. In 2003, wheat was exported at 28 percent below its cost of production, soybeans were dumped at 10 percent, corn was dumped at 10 percent, cotton was dumped at 47 percent and rice was dumped at 26 percent. http://iatp.org/iatp/factsheets.cfm?accountID=451&refID=48538

People that still believe markets are free say that this dumping damages markets. That is self-evident. However, having a “free market” in food is the problem, and it leads to increased hunger and suffering in places like Africa. If “We are world”, why are we harming our neighbors through a manipulated market in food and other commodities?

Dumping hurts farmers around the world

If farmers can’t get a price that covers expenses then it’s difficult to stay in business. Farmers in other countries are hurt because dumped exports push them out of local markets and eliminate their ability to export. Poor countries facing hunger are particularly vulnerable if their farmers are pushed off the land. As domestic production falls, these countries become dependent on the fluctuating prices and availability of imports.  (Ibid)

The damage to food insecure countries is two-fold: first, there is less local production of staples and second, there is less hard currency earned through exporting of products because they can’t match the subsidized commodity prices of products from more industrialized nations.

Another issue in world and U.S. hunger is that instead of providing subsidies to farmers to grow food to feed the people, farmers are still given money to NOT grow crops. http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread491850/pg1 You see, if we grew more food, the market would be saturated and world food prices would collapse. Then there would be no incentive to grow food. Again, the fix is not in the market, the fix is decoupling food from the world commodities market and having a bank of cash available so all nations can pay farmers to grow food for all people.

Yes, it sounds like a communist food coop that has already failed. Those failed due to pressure from Western industrialized farms and farmers who have been able to exploit immigrant labor in their nations for years and were giving the best farming technology in the world. The Soviets and Chinese never had such advantages in the time of their collectives and they were run as totalitarian enterprises. An international food security group would have no such impediments.

If all nations worked together to create a stable food supply, it would reduce some of the world’s gravest problems. The incentive growers would be like it is for all workers: bonus for production and utilization of sustainable farming practices, firings for farmers that didn’t get the job done. It’s either that or let the 925 million people living with hunger on this planet continue to suffer and starve. Read and download the FAO report here: http://www.fao.org/publications/sofi/en/

But what of the rising population that would ensue, you ask? Populations decrease with increased prosperity. Just look at plummeting birth rates in Europe, the U.S., and the decrease in China and India. In fact, Europe is alarmed that they aren’t reproducing themselves and their economies will collapse. However, there are more than enough people in the world to replace that population and only xenophobes with prevent a replacement of the European populations by hard-working immigrants. By increasing food security you will eventually increase prosperity and reduce the planet’s population.

Another example of harmful price supports and dumping is the subsidizing of cotton by the U.S. and other nations. The U.S., EU and India subsidize cotton production and dump it on the African market. We then turn around and send aid to African nations that suffer under poverty. It might be more cost effective and it would certainly be more humane to stop the dumping and pay cotton farmers in these nations directly for their product.

And while US and EU agriculture policies destroy the livelihoods of farmers and their families in rural Africa, EU & US aid programmes support the poor farmers in Africa, the FF criticizes.

http://starmanns1.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/us-taxpayers-pay-147-millyear-for-us-cotton-farmers-to-keep-farmers-in-west-africa-in-poverty/

Afterwards, we can congratulate ourselves for being generous with the concert to support Africa and the song “We are the World” http://www.inthe80s.com/weworld.shtml among other aid to poor nations.

Were the Live Aid musicians and producers heroes? That is in dispute. Were they self-serving attention mongers. Some were. If they weren’t looking for attention, why didn’t they just send money to Africa, the UN, or other food programs? How many of these celebrities actually addressed the causes of African hunger such as economic colonialism, military dictatorships, structural adjustment programs, GMO and other seed bank projects, and industrialized agriculture? Few, if any.

Structural Adjustment Programs
I have a few special words on structural adjustment programs or SAP. When nations borrow from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank it is to keep their government running after mostly corrupt governments accrued unsustainable debts. These governments that go to the IMF and World Bank are forced to go through some structural adjustments. And do the elites in these nations pay for these adjustments? Do you really have to ask?

The conditions on loans are a structural adjustment program include:

Conditions of Loans

On giving loans to countries, the IMF make the loan conditional on the implementation of certain economic policies. These policies tend to involve:

  • Reducing government borrowing – Higher taxes and lower spending
  • Higher interest rates to stabilise the currency.
  • Allow failing firms to go bankrupt.
  • Structural adjustment. Privatisation, deregulation, reducing corruption and bureaucracy.

http://www.economicshelp.org/dictionary/i/imf-criticism.html

As the analysis points out, these adjustments make the economic conditions for the working classes and joblers, harder, not better.

And in many places the population has rioted under these conditions. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Globalization/Brief_Hx_StrucAdj_DGE.html

So, we make things harder for the people in these nations by forcing them borrow money to meet their obligations and give them harsh conditions they have to meet in order to get that loan. And it more often than not makes it worse for people in these nations.

But remember, if the industrialized modern nations make people suffer as they adjust, they can always rely on their people to donate to charities to help these suffering children or send aid paid for by the taxes of the people in these nations. Then we all get to feel like heroes and go back to our shopping malls and consumption of cheap third-world produced products made with subsistence wages.

It’s an endless cycle of causing then trying to relieve suffering in the poorest regions of our planet instead of going after the deeper cause of this suffering: Western greed and domination.

Is it good to give to “Save the Children”. Sure. But next time, write to your Congressperson as well and tell them to stop the dumping, bombing, adjusting and stop supporting trade deals that benefit the already wealthy on this planet and harm workers and the environment. Also, ask them to create a world food bank and international farming collective.

Stop the U.S.-Korean trade act:

http://washingtonfairtrade.org/wordpress/ Great page with all sorts of Korean FTA information

http://www.citizen.org/korea-fta-petition Petition

More on Structural Adjustment

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/IMF_WB/adjust_costs_Dark.html

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/IMF_WB/Haiti_StrucAdj_MNM.html (Haiti)

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Reforming_System/World_of_Debt.html

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/IMF_WB/BrutalBanking.html

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/40/index-dcb.html (History archives, Latin America)

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/30/index-fh.html (History archives, Africa)

Peace,
Tex Shelters

 

It’s Time for the Obama Denial to End and Anger to Begin

In Current Events, Election Politics on December 8, 2010 at 21:15

The Swiss-American psychiatrist and researcher Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about the five stages of grief in her seminal work, On Death and Dying. She developed this over years interviewing grieving patients and people who have overcome the loss of loved ones. I read the book in my thanatology (study of death and dying) class high school. It is time to apply these stages to the loss of the Obama presidency.

Denial
The stages start with bad news that leads us to a grief spiral and denial of the reality of the loss. Bad news has come with the Obama presidency on a number of occasions. First, the President didn’t immediately end “don’t ask don’t tell” with his executive powers like Truman desegregated the military in 1948. We denied the lost by telling ourselves that it was a minor disappointment, but he’ll get back to it, right? Then Obama (and the Democratic Congress) immediately abandoned single payer health care plans with Obama giving advanced warning to the Republicans that he would even be willing to drop the “public option”. Denial continued with the thought that well, at least we got a health care bill passed. http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2009/12/feingold-jabs-obama-on-public-option.html

The litany of Obama back peddling and failures to support the base grows weekly. A short list includes offshore oil drilling, the extension of the Afghan war into at least 2014, the continuation of detention centers, rendition, torture, spying, upping the ante on No Child Left Behind with the even more draconian Race to the Top and much more. At each disappointment we denied the reality of his failing presidency by making excuses for him or by blaming Republicans or Blue Dog Democrats. We each had our own excuses for the President and reached our limits at different times until we were pushed to the next stage of grieving, anger.

Anger
Now is the time to get over the denial stage and realize that Obama won’t deliver. It’s time to get angry, if you’re not there already. Anger is a high-energy stage of grief according to Kubler-Ross. We see that in the Tea Party actions and the various riots in U.S. history. It’s time to get angry and demand change. Obama will again, as he did when talking about the compromise with Republicans on tax cuts, deflect the anger of his former base and blame progressives for wanting more http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/40559613#40559613.

“I’m as opposed to the high and tax cuts as I have been for four years,” Obama said at his press conference on the compromise. If that’s true President Obama, then why don’t you fight now when you still have a Democratic majority in Congress that wants to end the tax give away to the wealthy? If as you say, “The polls our on our sides” then why not challenge them now when the time is right? I no longer believe what you say. It’s now time to put Obama in the category we put Bush in, “Liar-in-Chief”. It’s time to push back and say, “ENOUGH”. Get angry; then take action.

<a href=”http://s370.photobucket.com/albums/oo146/texshelters/?action=view&amp;current=stages-of-grief.gif&#8221; target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i370.photobucket.com/albums/oo146/texshelters/stages-of-grief.gif&#8221; border=”0″ alt=”Photobucket”></a>

Bargaining
Is it time for the third stage, bargaining? No. We have already tried that. We have tried to come up with reasons for Obama’s inability to take on the Republicans. At first, many of us rightfully blamed the Republicans for their attacks on Obama and their negation of any ideas Democrats had, no matter that many of these ideas aligned with much of what the Republicans had in mind. In his press conference, Obama called the left “sanctimonious” for wanting him to stand for what they think is right and act in a way that we believe benefits most Americans. http://spectator.org/blog/2010/12/07/angry-obama-lashes-out-at-left

The outcome of his tirade against the left is that we now know more clearly than ever where Obama stands and what he thinks of people who elected him. It’s time to let him go. It’s time to stop bargaining for scraps from a President who keeps dismissing and insulting us. Maybe it’s okay with Obama to work with Republicans who hate and dismiss him. We on the left, center, and Americans in general deserve better than to take the blame for the failings of this President.

Apparently, Republicans can make compromises with the President when they are getting what they want, an extension of the tax cuts for themselves and their wealthy cronies. It is time to realize that Obama is the problem, not the Republicans. Republicans will be Republicans. However, it’s time to take it to Obama and that includes telling the liar that it’s not our fault nor the fault of the Republicans when we rolls over without resistance to what the party on the right wants.

Depression
Obama is not our man. He is not a man of hope. He is a capitulator, though he says that he isn’t. As much as I thought Bill Clinton sold out with trade deals and welfare to work, I don’t remember him making grand promises and then blaming liberals when he stepped back or abandoned his promises altogether. Then again, Bill Clinton is a man with thick skin; Obama is not.

Depression is not the way to go right now when action needs to be taken. Depression is understandable, but it’s a low energy stage that leads to inaction. Get pissed if you need. Stay pissed. If you can’t get to acceptance and move on, stay angry.

Acceptance
Acceptance is the last stage of grief. Acceptance brings us back to our normal energy state and allows us to mentally and emotionally move on with our lives. This stage is healthy culmination of a process of grieving. With Obama, the nation has lost opportunities to improve the condition of many, to start to reduce the inequalities in our nation by pulling back on the handouts to the rich. However, that didn’t happen. One sign of the growing acceptance is the call from progressives to mount a challenge to Obama. That’s a healthy response.

I admit that I had hope in Obama. I still admire the man. He is the decent and intelligent man in the wrong time and his personality makes him a poor leader at this time in history. Obama might not understand this, but left leaning critics like me are not his enemy. Moreover, we are not zombies that will worship him no matter what he does. We expect better, and Obama hasn’t delivered.

Acceptance means admitting that the change we need won’t happen in an Obama presidency. If it does, it will not be because of Obama but through extraordinary leadership in Congress and efforts of Americans working individually and collectively. If nothing else, help a neighbor, give to a friend, and shut out the White House.

I say we give Obama what he wants and stop bothering the poor man who has it so rough being President without having the burden of dealing with needy Americans asking things of him. It’s not like he’s a public servant or anything, the poor man.

Let’s give Obama what he wants, no more donations, no more support, no more giving to Democrats unless it’s directly to a candidate that supports you, and no more helpful advice. We need to shut him out and say, No More!

Instead…Write letter of support to Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi (who has redeemed herself somewhat lately) and ask them to 1) pass the middle class tax cuts only, 2) pass the unemployment extension and 3) fight Obama’s “compromise” with the Republicans.

Honorable Nancy Pelosi
235 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0508

Phone: 202-225-4965
Fax: 202-225-8259

Honorable Bernie Sanders
332 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-5141
Fax: 202-228-0776

Find your Representative here: http://www.votesmart.org/official_congress.php

Peace,
Tex Shelters

It’s Time to Bend Over Again

In Current Events, Entertainment on December 7, 2010 at 22:27

With the impending extension of the tax cuts for those that have taken a majority of the wealth in the last 30 years, I thought it was time for another rousing chorus of “Bend Over America” with special thanks to the Tea Party, Neocons and the mainstream media.

Give it a hit on YouTube if you like it.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Investment bubbles and the Stock Market: Reclaiming Sunshine from Vegetables

In Current Events, Economics on December 6, 2010 at 17:18

I was doing research for a blog about the stock market lies, and I reread this blog I had on MySpace about 1.5 years ago. I am reposting it because it deserves more exposure. Besides, it is one of my best written serious pieces. It is updated but the basic themes of stock market manipulation, lies, and insider trading still apply. If you think we should allow brokers to invest our Social Security, I hope this changes your mind.

Investment bubbles and the Stock Market: Reclaiming Sunshine from Vegetables

The stock market is the world’s best wealth creator. It can make something from nothing, if you believe. When stock markets stabilize; the recession is over. So stop whining about unemployment and showing how you hate America, i.e. Wall Street.

Tulip Bulb Bubble

Ever since the days of the Tulip Speculation in Holland, stock markets have made people all over the world richer and richer. There is always someone who gets rich even if millions loose money in the stock market or it goes up or down, thus the stock market is a constant good in our lives. And certainly there were other parts of the world that were suffering under slavery and war, but as long as there is a stock market, everything is okay.

The Dutch East India company (sic) was actually the first to allow outside investors to purchase shares entitling them to a fixed percentage of the company’s profits. They were also the first company to issue stocks and bonds to the general public, doing so via the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in 1602 according to Britannica.

http://www.mint.com/blog/investing/the-history-of-the-stock-market/

The South Seas Bubble Bursts

The British also had their own speculative market burst in the early days of their stock exchanges. But remember, while millions lost their knickers, some people got rich, so it all turned out okay. And even though the Irish over the Irish Sea were being recolonized and losing their lives, land and livelihoods to the British, the world was okay because there was a stock market. After all, the markets were pulling wealth upwards, as they were designed to do, to the new royal class of bankers in Britain.

The British East India Company had one of the biggest competitive advantages in financial history – a government-backed monopoly. When the investors began to receive huge dividends and sell their shares for fortunes, other investors were hungry for a piece of the action. The budding financial boom in England came so quickly that were no rules or regulations for the issuing of shares. The South Seas Company (SSC) emerged with a similar charter from the king and its shares, and the numerous re-issues, sold as soon as they were listed. Before the first ship ever left the harbor, the SSC had used its new-found investor fortune to open posh offices in the best parts of London.

Yes. Investors bought and resold shares from the SSC in a trade venture before ships left the harbor.  This is similar to creating household mortgages and immediately selling them on a secondary mortgage market and them turning them into securities. Essentially, the mortgages were bundled together and sold to investors as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and other mortgage-backed securities (MBSs). http://bryblum330.wikidot.com/the-subprime-mortgage-crisis

By originating a loan and then selling that loan, you didn’t have to bare the financial responsibility for it. When there is a secondary mortgage market, originators of loans don’t have worry about the pesky details of credit histories, collateral, or down payments when loaning money. Their loans were now out of their hands and no longer their problem. Similarly, people who bought shares in the South Seas Company and resold them made large profits. Investors that owned the stock when the market collapsed lost their trousers much like those that owned mortgage backed securities took a bath when the housing bubble burst.

However, some of the mortgages get sold in a new form when the knowledge of these bad loans gets out,

These days, however, the bundles of home loans that were once highly rates and gave a good return on investment are no longer in demand. The solution for mortgage lenders is to repackage the bundles and sell them on in a different form. The way this is done it to shred the old portfolios of loans which were sold on as Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs) and repackage them. http://screamnews.com/repackaging-adverse-credit-mortgages/

The South Seas Company’s success brought in other companies and the people bought in.

Encouraged by the success of the SSC and realizing that the company hadn’t done a thing except issue shares, other “businessmen” rushed in to offer new shares in their own ventures. Some of these were as ludicrous as reclaiming the sunshine from vegetables or, better yet, a company promising investors shares in an undertaking of such vast importance that they couldn’t be revealed. They all sold. Before we pat ourselves on the back for how far we’ve come, remember that these blind pools still exist today. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/07/stock-exchange-history.asp And people still buy shares blindly in companies that have no tangible value. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/blind_pool.asp Bernie Madoff ran a very successful blind pool until investors asked for their returns. Soon they realized that Madoff didn’t have their money.

The amount the market declined from peak to bottom: Stocks in the South Sea Company were traded for 1,000 British pounds (unadjusted for inflation) and then were reduced to nothing by the later half of 1720. A massive amount of money was lost.

http://www.investopedia.com/features/crashes/crashes3.asp

But remember that the people who originated these stocks made out like bandits, thus it’s okay. The money flows upwards to the bankers and investors, and so all is good.

The Dot-com Crash in 2000

Turn the clock ahead almost three centuries and we see the blind pools still exist. Investing in dot.com companies is akin to investing in a boat that has yet to leave the dock. Both investments led to massive losses.

http://www.shadowstats.com/

Introduction: The Dot-Com boom

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I kept hearing about how people were making millions of dollars with IPOs (initial public offerings) on Internet stocks. I was suspicious of the whole thing from the start. How could a company that didn’t make any of their own products, a company that sold goods online, goods that one could buy at a local store, make any money? Thus, the prices for the stock became immediately overvalued before the sites were up and running.

The poster child for Internet speculation was pets.com, but there were others. Pets.com raised $82.5 million in an IPO in February 2000 before collapsing nine months later. http://www.cnet.com/1990-11136_1-6278387-1.html

The most spectacular IPO and collapse according to CNET was Webvan. In a mere 18 months, it raised $375 million in an IPO, expanded from the San Francisco Bay Area to eight U.S. cities, and built a gigantic infrastructure from the ground up (including a $1 billion order for a group of high-tech warehouses). Webvan came to be worth $1.2 billion (or $30 per share at its peak), and it touted a 26-city expansion plan. Alas, the venture was doomed to fail. Grocery outlets have thin margins for profit and the venture couldn’t attract enough companies or customers to make a profit.

The lesson is twofold: don’t invest in something unproven even if they have a clever sock puppet (picture here) and don’t invest in an internet company that replicates what someone can do locally for less with a proven track record, i.e. sell kitty litter and groceries.

In 1999, Internet companies’ stock prices began to grow very rapidly. Supposedly, the competitive advantage of these businesses was the elimination of heavy investment in capital. Dot-coms aimed to be competitive through value added information elements, such as consulting or electronic commerce. Many analysts called this industry, “the new economy” because of the competitive use of technology and knowledge, as opposed to “old economy” companies, which are capital and labor intensive. Nonetheless, almost none of these companies were showing profits during that period. Balance sheet and income statement figures were not very promising either. On the other, hand stock prices here extremely high. For example the stock of Scient, an Internet consultant company, had a peak price of $133.75, which represented a 1238% increase from its Initial Public Offering(IPO) in 2000. One year later, its stock decreased to $2.94 .

http://econc10.bu.edu/Ec341_money/Assignments/stories_stock_market.htm

It was no surprise to me that a companies with no productive capacity, companies that didn’t produce anything you could put your hands on, tanked, much like the U.S. economy today. Too many people were relying on the new Internet technology that not everyone had bought into at the time.

In the decade since the Nasdaq stock exchange reached its all-time high at the peak of the Internet bubble, the tech-heavy index has recouped just half of its stomach-churning losses. On March 10, 2000, the Nasdaq closed at 5,048.62. On Wednesday, March 10, 2010, the Nasdaq closed at 2,358.95. http://srph.it/byHhAE

That’s just one more example that stock markets are based on speculation value and not use value.

Do you think that investment firms looked at Internet start-ups realistically during this dot com market bubble? After all, how could stock from companies with no track record of profits increase so dramatically in a “free market”? The answer is two-fold.

First, the market does not give us “perfect information” as economists used to claim, and second, insiders (traders along with the companies whose stock they sell) can manipulate stock reports and stock prices to their own benefit. Since companies that sell stock profit from each sale, there is an incentive to sell as many shares in an IPO as possible. That per share commission leads brokers to sell stock they don’t believe in to make a buck. Yes, can you believe it? During an IPO is when much of the stock will be available and big profits can be had selling as many stocks as you can. Why would you NOT recommend a stock that you get a commission selling?

…if demand is given faulty information, investors are biased towards stock that they would not invest in otherwise…information depends heavily on very few specialized firms such as Investment Banks and Analysts firms. These firms are capable of misleading the market, as it happened in the dot-com crash in 2000. Based on simple accounting and financial principles I propose that Investment Banks and analysts were not ethical during this bubbles because they did not value Internet companies as rigorously as they do with other start up companies.

The author concludes “During the dot-com bubble, financial intermediaries, analysts and investment banks did not provide accurate information to investors.”

http://econc10.bu.edu/Ec341_money/Assignments/stories_stock_market.htm

With the “experts” promoting and packaging dot com stocks in 401ks, pension and other large investment groups, the same expert that made a commission selling those stocks, the dot com market was artificially inflated.

Again, overvaluing future returns based on imperfect market information is reminiscent of the South Seas trading bubble of the 1700s.

Past Mistakes, Current Lies, and a New Economic Collapse

Skip ahead to the roaring 00s. There is an old adage: if your money isn’t making money, you are losing money. Money not invested is money losing value. People with capital, banks, investment firms, and large investors like Warren Buffet, are always looking for the next big investment opportunity. This time it was housing.

The Housing Bubble

There are several factors that led to the housing bubble and inevitable collapse. Among these are easy credit, subprime mortgages, lax regulations on the market, a loosening of lending criteria, the secondary mortgage market, and the deregulation of banks allowing them to speculate in derivatives and other non-banking functions.

However, that is a list of the mechanisms that allowed the housing bubble to get out of hand. The underlying cause of the housing bubble was greed. First, we have the greed of the lenders looking for a mark, a homebuyer. Since they made a commission that equaled a percent of the housing values, they earned more money the more the house was worth. That system can encourage large institutional reality firms to push the value of the houses. Small realtors that relied on word of mouth also benefitted, but they also relied on word of mouth and had to try to get the best deal for their clients, the sellers of homes.

Lenders benefitted from an overheated mortgage market as well. Even if interest rates were kept artificially low and cut into their profit, it was balanced by the high housing prices and the number of houses being sold. Interest rates were going down, and it attracted new homebuyers. That also led to higher demand for housing and higher prices. Moreover, homebuyers were sold on the idea that housing prices never dropped and thus this was a good investment. They were lured to housing with balloon payments and with adjustable rate mortgages with the confidence that they could easily sell their homes later at a profit if the interest rates went up.

Down payments were reduced from 20% to 2-5% in the subprime market because, of course, the market was going to go up. Millions of first time homebuyer signed a mortgage based on imperfect information and the myth of the never-ending increase in home prices. When they lost a job, got sick or had additional expenses, they were unable to pay their mortgages they had barely been able to afford in the first place. Millions of houses were not on the market having been foreclosed on. The market collapsed.

National housing developers also got into the act. They went into a building frenzy trying to keep up with housing demands in Nevada, Florida, Arizona, and California. Now many projects are on indefinite hold as they wait for the housing market to rebound.

The only way to stop this type of irrational speculation in the housing market is to make all parties involved in the process responsible for the loan, from the realtor, the owner/investor, and the originator or the mortgage as well as the holder of the loan. Otherwise, the profit motive is to great an incentive to fudge the numbers during the lending process.

At the end of the clip that is cut off, Warren Buffet admit, “Yeah, I blew it”. http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2010/06/warren_buffett_on_the_housing.html

So, if master genius investor billion Warren Buffet can be trapped by the housing bubble, how can the average real estate agent and mortgage banker know that the end is nigh. People love money, people are addicted to its aroma, lead to the rocks to crash by its siren song.  There’s nothing wrong with making money per se. However, too many people bought into the myth of the never ending increase of housing prices and we are living with the effect of the inevitable collapse: layoffs, foreclosures, unemployment like we haven’t seen for decades, bankruptcies, states cutting essential programs for lack of tax revenues, increasing debt, and so forth.

How Housing Bubble is like Buying Into a Blind Pool

Owning a house has been part of the “American Dream” since the fifties. Why is that? The idea that everyone should own a home fed the housing bubble, which in turn led to loose credit and a subprime market. Easy credit and the manufactured desire to own a home led to the housing crisis as did the secondary mortgage market and credit default swaps.

Mark Thorton in moment of prescience wrote this for the Free Market http://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=500 in 2004,

Signs of a “new era” in housing are everywhere. Housing construction is taking place at record rates. New records for real estate prices are being set across the country, especially on the east and west coasts. Booming home prices and record low interest rates are allowing homeowners to refinance their mortgages, “extract equity” to increase their spending, and lower their monthly payment! As one loan officer explained to me: “It’s almost too good to be true.”

Yes, it was too good to be true. As the saying goes, what goes up must come down. Or as Lao Tzu put in 600 AD, and I paraphrase; That which is raised above its natural state will later fall. Because of market speculation and loose credit, the demand for housing shot up in the 2000s. Demand shot up costs and people everywhere were paying outrageous prices for houses in the belief that prices would continue to rise.

However, that is not the way markets work. Eventually, the market for any product becomes saturated and equilibrium prices (market prices) will fall back to a more realistic rate. Those that bought houses at high prices later discovered that housing prices do fall and owed more than their houses were worth.

http://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=500

Other Problems with the Stock Market

Many times the Stock Market goes up when unemployment goes up, so the value of the market has no relation what so ever with employment or what’s happening a majority of Americans.

Shorting Stock or How to Bet Against Yourself and Win

Here’s how shorting works, in brief. Basically, it’s a “hedge” that the value of a stock or commodity will go down.

First, you borrow stocks through a broker with a guarantee that you will buy the stocks in the future at whatever the stock price is. This allows you to make money on stock if the price decreases.

Here’s an example:

You buy 500 shares of Tex Shelters, Inc at $20 dollars a share. That’s a $10,000 investment. You are confident that the price is going down. Therefore, you sell the stock immediately and wait. You have $10,000 dollars.

A few moths later, the stock price goes down to $15 a stock. You pay off the lender of the stock at the current stock price. The total bill for the 500 stocks is $7500 dollars. You sold the borrowed stock priced at $10,000 and paid $7500 dollars to the lender of the stock. You just profited $2500 on a tanking stock.

What’s wrong with profit you ask? Nothing’s wrong with profit, in theory. But shorting stock, some of which has been made illegal in Germany as they contemplate banning all short selling, is open to manipulation and insider trading. Not only that, but by shorting stock you are investing in failure, and if the stocks do fail, the lender of the stock loses. It also hurts economic growth for everyone in the nations while garnering short-term profit of a few people.

Some say banning shorting is interference in the free markets and that it will hurt investing. However, people that yell the loudest against regulation profit from manipulating the market while betting on failure. They don’t care about the economy; they care about profit. Moreover, the pretense of “free markets” is used to defend their manipulation of the same markets. These investors are the whores Ayn Rand salutes in her tomes. Profiting within a system you manipulate to your advantage is the opposite of free trade.  It’s a form of insider trading and should be illegal.

To continue the example: Let’s say I have news that one of Tex Shelter’s stocks in oil exploration is about to take a huge hit because a future site that we have been drilling in for a year is found to have no oil. Plus, I realize the public is turning against offshore drilling. So Tex Shelters Oil Property’s Inc is about to take a huge stock hit.

Therefore, I get TJ Snodgrass Investors, a subsidiary of Tex Shelters, Inc. with corporate papers hidden in the Cayman Islands, to short 1,000,000 shares that are currently selling at $100 a share totaling a $100,000,000. A week later, the news comes out that we wasted a year of exploring and came up with nothing. The stock plummets to $10 a share. We make a cool $90 million off of our failure. You think that doesn’t happen? Goldman Sachs made 3.7 Billion shorting mortgage securities that they helped originate. God bless capitalism when the rich get richer and the poor can suck on it.

Senate: Goldman Made Billions Shorting Mortgage Market

(MarketWatch) – Goldman Sachs made $3.7 billion betting against mortgage-related securities as the housing market started to collapse, according to an estimate released Monday by an influential Congressional subcommittee, MarketWatch reported.

One of the securities, known at Timberwolf I, was described as a “shi**y deal” by a senior Goldman executive at the time, Thomas Montag, according to an email disclosed by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpps/money/senate-goldman-made-billions-shorting-mortgage-market-dpgonc-20100426-mh_7258426

They made a lot of money betting against mortgage investments.

Now we learn that the crisis in Greece was also due to loose credit from Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs arranged swaps that effectively allowed Greece to borrow 1 billion Euros without adding to its official public debt. While it arranged the swaps, Goldman also sought to buy insurance on Greek debt and engage in other trades to protect itself against the risk of a default on those swaps. Eventually, Goldman sold the swaps to the national bank of Greece.

http://www.businessinsider.com/goldman-sachs-shorted-greek-debt-after-it-arranged-those-shady-swaps-2010-2

And Goldman Sachs bet against the debt to Greece in equal shares as they bet for the return on profit, which means they were “flat”, or balanced in the investment when the loan Greece failed to return profit.

Because Goldman Sachs knew about the 1 billion dollar Euro loan that was hidden from public view, “Goldman was uniquely well-positioned to understand that Greek debt service obligations were higher than they would have appeared just by looking at its official debt levels, making Greece a riskier credit. This knowledge may have allowed Goldman to acquire credit protection on the trades on the cheap.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/goldman-sachs-shorted-greek-debt-after-it-arranged-those-shady-swaps-2010-2

Goldman’s ability to short their loans to Greece allowed them to loan without risk to Greece and help lead to the collapse of the Greek economy and a global crisis. And other banks that didn’t know about debt deal lost their shirts, and pants, and an arm and a limb. Do you still think shorting is a good investment practice?

Will there be future bubbles? I wish I could say that there will be no more. But humans have been creating investment bubbles at least since the 1600s, so how can I say there won’t be another bubble? Here is my prediction, in writing, for the next bubble in the next decade: carbon futures and green technologies. There will be a huge lead up and propaganda about how carbon trading and green technologies will save us, investments will outstrip technology and profit making capabilities of the market and actually use of technology, returns, won’t match investments, and the market will collapse.

Carry on in our bright and happy future. Remember, if the stock market is going up, all is well for the sector of America that counts, whether we create jobs or not.

Yours,
Tex Shelters

Reference:

http://www.antitrust.org/cases/pricefixing.html

 

Memo from the Desk of John Boehner: A SheltersLeaks Production

In Current Events, Economics, Education, Election Politics on December 3, 2010 at 18:35

Just released are the patriotic priorities of the John Boehner House. Thank God we have Republicans looking out for the interests of the only class that matter, the Billionaires.

Dear Republican Colleges. We now have a 47-seat majority in the Senate and control the house. It is time for the final solution. It is time to push our agenda for a new, older America. What follows is our agenda for the next millennium, until the apacolypse.

1. End all taxes for those making over $250,000. The paupers should have to pay for the privilege of having us in their country. Or should I say, the paupers should have to pay MORE for that privilege. By giving more wealth to the well off, the nation will be a better place to live in. Reading the history of King George the Third, Marie Antoinette, The Shah of Iran and the Czar Nicholas I and the Romanov family clarifies that having a wealthy class makes you great nation. Why would we want to spoil it by making them (us) pay our share?

2. Destroy the Obama presidency. Obama’s caution on ending on don’t ask; don’t tell, his damn unwillingness cede his thrown to the more patriotic Sarah Palin, his extension the Afghan war, his continuation of the Bush torture and spying regimen, have all shown what a communist he is. The Democratic Obama is a danger to all future Republican presidencies mostly for one reason; he’s running his presidency like a Republican. Now what is a Republican president supposed to do?

3. End Big Government as we know it. It worked under Reagan, and look how the government shrank under GW Bush. http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0906b.asp

4. Forced Fertilization camps. Certainly, Republican legislatures in many states have made it harder for young women to terminate an unwanted group of cells that are taking over her body. That is a good start. But we need a national law to protect white babies, of which there are too few. So, we will propose a fertilization camp somewhere in the Bible belt (Oklahoma City or Waco?), where families can send their daughters, who are born in sin, to have their babies. And if they aren’t pregnant when they get there, we’ll take care of that. The contract for building the camp will go to Haliburton under the name “Fertilization Unlimited Camps of the United States” or F.U.C.U.S.

5. Tax Cuts for Backyard Oil Drilling Communists at the E.P.A. want to give tax credits for the unproven (just like global warming and evolution are unproven) technologies of solar and wind power. What we know is what we do best, oil. So, we will pass the Backyard Lease And Home Beautifying Loan Allowable Help bill, or B.L.A.H.B.L.A.H.

6. A Gun in Every Pot. Nazis in Congress and the White House think guns should be registered, licensed and kept out of the hands of criminals. Keeping guns from criminals is the first step in keeping guns from law abiding citizens. If you ban guns from criminals, only criminals will have guns. Thus, we need to make sure that guns are more readily available.

For starters, we should install gun vending machines on subways and in the bathrooms of truck stops. Guns should also be for sale at sporting events right next to the beer stands. And vending licenses around city’s parks for gun sale, like Lincoln Park across from the White House, Central Park in New York and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, will make us all safer.

7. End Obamacare. Our allies in the health care industry benefit from this law that will force everyone to get health care, but it doesn’t go far enough. Really, where are the death panels we were promised?

8. National Day to Celebrate Ronald Reagan’s birthday. This needs no explanation.

9. Start a new war in Iran (perhaps on Reagan’s Birthday). We could use Wikileaks for this. Fake a press release in Iranian or Muslim, or whatever language they speak in Iranibad, saying that they are planning to attack the United States. Ignore it for a while, then when Sarah Palin is President, blow up Dallas Cowboy’s stadium. Palin can announce it was terrorists from Saudi Arabia, but they have funding from and shelter in Iran where they planned the attacks. And there you have it, a new and patriotic war.

10. Get our paws on Social Security. Our banking friends, and stock broker Congressional Members, have yet to find a way to get our hands on that Social Security trust so we can make money off of it. So, if we tell people that the stock market always goes up (like housing), the idiotic American people will believe it and we can exploit what little they have left.

11. End all public schooling. Schools should be run by corporations what will teach children what is essential to function in America: greed and fear. Schools today teach hope, opportunity, and in the worst cases critical thinking. Our No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top programs aren’t destroying schools and minds fast enough. We need to privatize schools now before the public catches on.

12. End earmarks and balance the budget. No, just kidding.

More later. Congrats on your election you pretty things.

John “The Speaker” Boehner

Peace,
Tex Shelters

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