The dead have already had their turn ….

I get weary of and wary when community leaders start touting the virtues of knowing history. Makes no difference if it’s a conservative touting the questionable virtues of the Framers of the Constitution, or a progressive reminding us how liberating an ass whooping on a bridge in Alabama can be. History, unfortunately, is used to create a prison for those living today.

History is used to keep our thinking inside a box whose parameters are modified by the people telling the story in order to keep our thinking in check. It is amplified by the false narrative that in order to know where we are going, we need to know where we or ,more accurately, our ancestors came from. To that I say, poppycock.

I don’t look behind me to see where I am going. That’s how you get in an accident, the accident being the application of an old, out-of-date, irrelevant way of doing things to the problems faced today. When I am considering moving forward I consider the environment I am in right now and envision the environment I want to be in should a thing called “tomorrow” ever materialize. History is populated with many events that have ocurred and when placed side-by-side with an unclear or unforseeable future, history starts looking more certain; more comfortable.

We shouldn’t look to history for comfort. A minimal amount of time should be spent dwelling on history lest we lull ourselves into believing that we the living are compelled to relive it for the sake of the dead or the ailing. Observe, quantify, and document today’s problems and come up with solutions that help move you toward your vision….

….. the dead have already had their turn…..

Posted in black American, civil rights | Tagged | 1 Comment

Rudy Guiliani and political dementia

Rudy Guiliani shows signs of dementia as he uses a 2008 campaign line to criticize a U.S. president with less than two years left in office (thank you FSM). Mr. Guiliani may be laying out another argument for impeachment, one that will only appeal to the birthers and misinformed conservatives in America.

Barack Obama is a statist, just like every other president before him. I would argue that he has taken statism to a new and dangerous level, but as the country’s elected leader, he is expected to have a vision for the country that may not align with the visions held by others, including the aforementioned former mayor of New York City. Does this mean that Mr. Obama does not love his country? No.

What Mr. Obama loves, a love he shares with Messrs Guiliani, Boehner, McConnell, Biden, etc., is the idea of the State in its current form which makes the above mixed bag of politicians and ideologies equally distasteful…..

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The libertarian problem with fluff of society

Critics of libertarian philosophy spin libertarians as pretty antisocial.  For example, Alex Patton, blogging at OzeanMedia.com, describes libertarian philosophy as:

  • Selfish;
  • Splitting or potentially splitting on social issues;
  • Cruel;
  • Supporting markets that will move toward monopoly; and
  • Lacking coherent arguments for getting society to libertarianism

Writing for Salon.com, Will Moyer believes that libertarianism fails by not addressing the nuances of human interaction; how power and exploitation affects us.  Getting rid of the state should only be the first step.  Other forms of hierarchy predicated on race, gender, class, and sexuality will have to be addressed.  Falling behind a “property rights and non-aggression” argument won’t be enough.

Mr. Moyer was pretty transparent about the type of world that he’d like to see; a flatter world that not only gets rid of hierarchies, but one that addresses racism, class, and the role of religion and superstition in society.  Mr. Moyer wants to see a good society and in order to get there, libertarianism will have to actually get more radical by moving away from its strict, political ethic, view of the state and society.

Yes, I believe that libertarianism opens itself up to criticism as a philosophy that promotes a “Wild, wild west, winner take all” view of social interaction.  This perception underlies Mr Patton’s view of libertarianism as cruel and uncaring.

In my view libertarianism or any other political thought or ideology isn’t responsible for being caring.  Caring is left up to us humans.  We decide how humane and cooperative we are going to be to each other.  What libertarianism as a tool should be used for is to help maximize the benefits an individual hopes to enjoy as members of society. To determine those benefits we need to look at what society is in its most basic form.

In my opinion, society is a mechanism for spreading the costs an individual incurs for protecting himself against the threats to his physical safety and emotional well-being.  The individual wants the greatest access to the cooperation and protection that alleviates these threats at the least possible cost.  Only the individual can determine what those costs are.

In identifying these costs, the individual may determine that he will only tolerate so much racism in order to live in a society.  She may determine that tolerating the separation of church and state may not be too high a cost in exchange for the law and order a society provides.  A society’s acceptance of alternative lifestyles may be an attractive feature for someone deciding whether to subject themselves to a society’s culture, mores, and rules. Libertarianism, to increase its acceptability by a wider audience, may have to explore how best to incorporate these societal concerns into its philosophy.

Libertarian preference to avoid issues outside of the “political ethic” is understandable because at the core of libertarianism is the right of free individuals to pursue their own paths without interference by others including the State.

But if libertarianism is to have any influence on American politics, the philosophy will have to find a way to address these aesthetic, fluffy, social concerns.  It may simply boil down to a better articulation of how varying views, lifestyles, and value judgments are maximized via a framework that focuses on rights in the person and their property.  We may find that it may not take that much of a leap.

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The Cloud is our new god; the hashtag our new chapel

About 15 years ago I was a reporter covering a technology event in Washington, DC. I happened to sit next to a gentleman in his mid to late sixties who started up a conversation about the internet. Broadband was in its infancy and quite a few Americans were still using dial-up or ISDN (don’t ask). There were thousands of internet service providers, basically little AOL wannabes and yes, AOL was still the big dog and Comcast wouldn’t make a big splash until purchasing AT&T Broadband a few years later. But this gentleman, unbeknownst to me, was way ahead of his time.

The gentleman asked those of us sitting at the table to imagine a world where all you had to do was issue a voice command into the air and your request for information would be provided no matter where you were on the planet. My thoughts were that the guy had been watching too much Star Trek (I have since repented for there is probably no such thing as too much Star Trek). He went on with his idea and unfortunately I and others at the table started to tune out.

Today that old man is probably a very rich bastard for what he was describing, in my opinion, was the Cloud. The Cloud is fast becoming a repository for information, whether personal or commercial. Data is being transferred to the Cloud, huge warehouses storing servers and sucking up electricity. The Cloud is crunching huge amounts of data on our commercial transactions and personal lives. We use it to find restaurants and to communicate with each other. Businesses use it to predict and influence your next commercial decision or in some instances how you respond to the news in your timelines. The Cloud is becoming that very flying spaghetti monster in the sky that Google and Facebook would like you to turn to for guidance, social relationships, and consumption.

Your answers are in the Cloud.

When social media went ape shit over a black “God” with a dying cell phone battery in one of the Super Bowl commercials last weekend, the hoteps obviously missed the real meaning behind the commercial. One hundred years from now the hotep’s “God” won’t be the “god” that everyone else is turning to for answers. Throw in a little Moore’s law and artifical intelligence and we may see the tech world convening the Council of Nicea 2.0. Unlike the version two trillion earthlings are bowing down to today, it won’t take two thousand years and some printing presses to write the new scripture….

There will be one last step needed to incorporate true connectivity to our new divinity. That step will bring our privacy laws (a comical concept already) to its knees. I won’t share my thoughts on that last step here. I’d rather you have a good night’s sleep ….

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So what the hell is middle class economics?

President Barack Obama during his state of the union address last night introduced the concept of “middle class economics.” My first reaction was, “what the hell is middle class economics?”  Are we referring to how middle class consumers leverage their capital to create output and income?  Are we talking about the decisions the middle class make that impact income and output?

Or are we talking about how decisions on output and income made by business and the state impact that subset of consumers known as the middle class?  And who the heck are the middle class anyway?

Mr. Obama’s definition of middle class economics still left me with more questions than answers.  Based on his story about a young couple, Rebekah and Ben, and their son, Jack, Mr. Obama’s apparent social policy goal of middle class economics is to grow and “protect” this particular group of consumers to which Rebekah, Ben, and baby Jack belong.

The troubling part about Mr. Obama’s social policy, however, is whether it’s about helping Americans make better home economics decisions or about government managing a stronger macro-economy.  Before addressing that question, let me summarize what Mr. Obama, based on his speech, believes middle class economics to be.

The components of middle class economics appear to include:

  • Reversing outsourcing which creates new jobs;
  • Reducing dependence on foreign oil and bringing online more wind and solar power;
  • Falling gas prices;
  • Stopping tax-funded bank bailouts while putting in place a consumer watchdog to protect consumer from the ravages of predatory lending;
  • Increasing the number of Americans covered by health care insurance.

His definition, based on his speech, lacks the macroeconomic focus necessary to make his policies legitimate approaches toward managing the economy.  Is his mission to be the uber community organizer building better communities or helping build an economic ship that individuals can choose to board on their own?

It’s bad enough that we can settle down on a definition of the middle class.  A significant portion of Americans believe they are a part of this category and the income ranges for inclusion in this group, from $30,000 to $100,000, are a politician’s dream because with an income range that wide, he enjoys creating a moving target that constituents can’t nail him down on.

But the question is important to answer if anything for the sake of equity.  If you start coming up with laundry lists of benefits, you have to decide who is eligible for them.  The person in Atlanta making $96,000 a year may be upper middle class, but the person making $96,000 a year in San Francisco or New York City may just be getting by.

From a macroeconomic perspective, the only perspective I believe the government should be concerned about, you want a middle class that can keep pumping the engine via consumption.  Economist Jared Bernstein aptly describes the propensity to consume depending on income:

“The theory is simple enough and has its roots in basic microeconomics, specifically the decline in marginal propensity to consume as incomes rise.  That may sound trick but it’s just commonsense: an extra dollar that finds its way to an ‘income constrained’ (or ‘poor’ or these days even ‘middle class’) is likely to be spent than saved.”

Mr. Bernstein is describing the President’s growth from the middle out philosophy that while differing from the conservative, “take care of the wealthy first, everything will follow” approach, ends up with the same result: maintaining a class of consumer that acts as the battery for the national economy.

The irony is that the middle class that Mr. Obama is so focused on re-energizing can end up being a perpetual trap for those who are drawn to its comforts, comforts that Mr. Obama is enthusiastic to create.  Just give them enough insurance coverage, two years of free education, and the feeling that Wall Street isn’t getting over on them and the middle class will spend 70% of its income to maintain the illusion while keeping the commercial sector profitable.

So what is middle class economics? A scheme to create a class of consumer fat and happy enough to settle while providing a steady flow of income to the commercial sector in the form of cosumer expenditures.  It’s about making sure the consumer side of the social contract can meet their obligation.

Posted in Barack Obama, Economy, Political Economy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Of “‪#‎Selma‬”, ‪#‎media‬ manipulation, and discussions of true value.

Once again the main stream media has borrowed the advice of Heath Ledger’s “Joker” and has created insanity among the socio-economic group known as “black” people by carefully coordinating two events, the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday and the Academy Awards, by simply giving a little “push.” Unfortunately, the socio-economic group known as “black” people have taken the bait and allowed itself for one of too many brief moments to take its eyes off the prize.

A number of writers are substantiating their paychecks by bringing to the attention the apparent snubbing of black actors from this year’s list of Academy Award nominees. Social media has a number of ratchet hotep fuckery memes flowing through its channels as well. This stirring is brilliantly coordinated every year around this time to take advantage of Dr. King’s dream of a society where minorities should be allowed to pursue an ever shifting or evasive standard of equality while dozing off on the couch after eating a post Sunday go-to-meeting meal.

By applying the Dream to a racially-based slight, the media can score ratings as they invite countless overeducated Phds in sociology and hotep fuckery to come on various talk shows and blab about how the system royally fucked over Denzell and Kerry Washington, Oprah Winfrey, and countless other actors.

It works every year because the socio-economic group called “black” people place a lot of value in imagery (thus the NAACP Image Awards) and any slight that runs afoul of the narrative of a long dead, deified Southern preacher will bring rebuke from the over-the-hill fat farts and blow hards who constantly remind us that they held Dr. King’s head as he died ( stop telling that lie Jesse) or that they got their ass beat on that bridge in Selma (true story John but do you have to keep bringing it up every two fucking years?)

The media and so called black leadership do a bang up job focusing the socio-economic group called black people on the major shortcomings of that other American socio-economic group known as white people (who, by the way, are just as equally confused but we’ll deal with them some other time.). White people, the same old tired narrative goes, are to blame for everything that black people (who also have cars, degrees, and jobs) are going through in the 21st century.

It has never ocurred to the socio-economic group known as “black” people to ask “Why would white people, who allegedly take a low view of us as valueless, spend so much time focusing on us?’ If the socio-economic group known as “black” people seriously pondered that question, the answer would get them kicked out of their churches or greek lettered organizations. Since I am proudly not a member of either, I will answer the question for you. White people don’t sit around thinking about ways to fuck with black people. If they do fuck with “black” people, the act is usually incidental and the collateral damage already worked into the decision matrix.

What the socio-economic group known as “white” people think about is whether things will turn around in Europe and Asia fast enough so that my average household wealth of $110,000 can grow to $125,000 by year’s end. We really don’t have time to fuck around with a group of people whose average household wealth is around $5,000.

You see, with the exception of a few naive liberals, white people don’t think about justice. They think about value and if black people aren’t on their value radar, then blacks need not worry about conspiracies.

One, there is no group conspiracy, albeit there is bad behavior by some individuals based on racial bias, and two, black people need to avoid media attempts to stir them into conversations and expressions of futility and despair that generate no value.

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On pacifism …. #libertarian

There is a difference between self-defense and war.

Self-defense is a logical reaction to any threat to your individual physical and emotional existence.

War, on the other hand, is illogical,immoral, and inhumane. It leads to the subjugation of another people and eventually a dilution of the individual liberties of the conquered populace. Its results are absurd.

If one believes war is okay because in exchange for making one’s self a willing agent of mass violence you received an educational stipend and a meager pension, then you have selfishly draped yourself in a delusional state created by an absurd need for false comfort.

In addition, no entrepreneur in their right mind would think that the chaos created by war is good for business, revenues, or profit. Only a non-entrepreneur, a slave, would make that claim.

From this day forward, I am a pacifist…..

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How to measure Congress’ performance in an entrepreneurial society?

A lot has been made about the “do nothing” 112th and 113th congresses.  The media has been using Congress’ lack of legislative output as a measure of their poor performance.  I think a significant reason for the accusation that Congress is ineffective is due to the media and the public’s misconception as to what Congress’ role is.

For example, the link I included in the above paragraph is to a Bloomberg View article written by Barry Ritholtz discussing Congress’ alleged dysfunction.  According to the article, one of Congress’ basic duties is to help educate the next generation of leaders and productive citizens and that Congress, along with a little help from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve, has been derelict in its duty.

Really?  That seems to be a problem; that American society places all kinds of duties and expectations on Congress that the legislative body was never intended or designed to address, with educating society being among them.  Congress, under Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, does have a number of powers, none of which give me the impression that Congress’ job is to drop manna from heaven.  And the laws that Congress is expected to pass are for the purpose of putting those powers into actual force.

As an entrepreneur I’m not interested in Congress’ ability to drop manna.  I’m interested in Congress’ regulation of trade and commerce between individuals and the fewer legal barriers to entering a market for the purpose of selling and buying goods and services, the better.  My reading of the Congress’ powers as enumerated in the Constitution tells me that Congress was concerned primarily with how government could both promote commerce within and outside of America’s borders while protecting commerce from foreign attack.

Unfortunately when Congress starts racking up laws, those laws go more toward regulating day-to-day behavior, usually on an ex-ante versus ex-post basis.  Of the 296 bills signed into law during the 113th Congress, only three appeared to have anything to do with the economy or markets.

For example, H.R. 3329 addressed enhancements to small financial institutions including boosting consumer savings at these banks.  H.R. 3374 authorized the use of savings raffles to boost consumer savings.  H.R. 5771 extended a number of business tax credits including credits for research and new market entry.

So, by my calculations just about three percent of bills passed into law had anything to do with the economy.  From an entrepreneur’s view, Congress can’t exactly be called a “do nothing” Congress, but there is room for a lot more when it comes to keeping the Executive branch in check.

Posted in Congress, Economy, Political Economy | 2 Comments

#Cuba: Is the tourism party over for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands? #USVI

President Barack Obama wants to normalize relations with Cuba. That’s nice. What I want to know is whether the Administration gave any consideration to the economic impact such a move would have on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Given their heavy dependence on tourism, Cuba could pose a very strong competitive factor in the coming years.

In the mean time, the USVI and Puerto Rico may have to seriously consider diversifying their economies to meet the challenges of the next two decades. With approximately 12 million inhabitants in Cuba eager to earn some of that American greenback and an infrastructure that needs a serious upgrade, Cuba is ripe for investment capital.

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The police make it clear that blacks do not belong here ….

The police have managed to sell the “officer friendly” image to the public for so long that the public believes that what it gets in exchange for the tax dollars they pay is the protection and service of the main spear-bearers of the State; the police. What minorities actually receive from time to time all too often is a constant reminder that after the Civil War ended in 1865, blacks have been staying in America on a month-to-month lease courtesy of a couple amendments to the U.S. Constitution, some well argued Supreme Court cases, and three or four major pieces of legislation. Throw in some emotional need by minorities to serve in the Armed Forces and blacks end up buying into a citizenship narrative that simply is false.

In reality, to be a citizen you have to be invited. The nation has to view you as a person, community, or society that holds the same values as the nation. Blacks were never invited and those in control of the State in 1865 hadn’t quite figured out what to do with their uninvited guests. It is this lack of a cultural invitation versus a legal invitation that has primarily kept blacks out of the American political economy.

As an interviewee, a resident of Ferguson, Missouri, opined to The Economist, “The problem is that we don’t belong here. We should have never come on those boats from Africa.”

Not that many black Africans had a choice during the African slave trade, but if there is one group that has been standing under the exit sign holding the door open and asking blacks to leave, it has been the police.

What we refer to as the modern police force came into being in September 1829 when the London Metropolitan Police was established. This police department became the model for police forces in Europe and in the United States. The police force, both in Europe and the U.S., were developed to respond to social tensions and unrest in municipalities. At the heart of social tensions were urbanization, industrialization, and immigration. In the American south, historians add slavery to the core of social tensions.

Slave patrols were the forerunners to police departments in southern and slave states including Georgia, Florida, Missouri (yes Missouri), and South Carolina. Slave patrols hunted down runaway slaves and regulated the movement of black slaves and free blacks alike. In other words the boys on the Ferguson PD have two hundred years of experience to rely on. It’s in their DNA, at least when they have their uniforms on.

Given the shooting of Michael Brown; the death of Eric Garner, bigoted remarks in social media, and the history of policing in the United States, the observation made by the Ferguson resident is not surprising.

What would be surprising is if more Americans became attuned to this reality ..

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