The pursuit of greater returns on capital resulted in the blurring of telecom, media, and entertainment

Part of the naivete of the net neutrality argument was how it ignored the realities of the broadband industry and the role of capital.  Broadband access to the internet has never been about the democratization of self-expression but about the commercialization of the exchange of information.  Information comes in various forms whether it is scholarly work, news, or entertainment.  As Ivan Seidenberg notes in this piece, the lines between media, telecommunications, and entertainment have been blurring for decades where the silos that once represented media, telecom, and entertainment have finally been broken down.

If investors who put their capital into these industries want to see higher returns, then acknowledging that these walls have broken down is the first step they should take.  Pushing back against government actions that fail to recognize that breaking down these walls is necessary for capital to continue flowing to and growing in these industries should be the second thing to acknowledge.

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Good-bye .@LindseyGrahamSC

When Lindsey Graham uttered that he was 60 years old, never married, and no kids, I sensed in his voice that at that very moment he realized that most of his life has lacked something substantive. How can a man who wants to represent the sociopathic culture warriors in his party sell that story in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi. etc.

Personally his life is his choice but tonight he sounded like a man who was exposed for the first time and he prefer go back to his bachelor pad in DC and write a bill ….

Posted in Election2016 | Tagged | 1 Comment

@realbencarson should be disqualified from the debates based on his ignorance on the #economy

Ben Carson should be disqualified from the chase for the GOP presidential nomination based on his apparent ignorance about government’s role in managing the economy, including incentivizing markets, and encouraging capital flow to businesses and households.  His website alone is indicative of his lack of preparation on the matter, with an apparent preference for promoting cultural values versus an economic plan that would benefit a broader number of Americans.

Dr. Carson has no qualms with regulating the financial industry.  He believes de-regulation in the 1990s led to the meltdown in the financial markets experienced in 2007 and 2008.[1]  The problem with that perspective is that, while its populist bent may attract some voters, the premise that Wall Street’s faulty financial instruments and a failure to regulate them caused the economy to crash is a little too simpleton an approach and if policy were built on this premise, it would not serve to address the real problem in the economy.

That problem is that too many households were not diversified enough to absorb the impact of a declining economy.  Households, as well as banks, should have been able to pass a stress test.  Unfortunately, Dr. Carson prefers to add a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

The time constraints of tonight’s debate, unfortunately, may provide Dr. Carson enough cover to get away with not offering a proper economic plan.

  1. Ben Carson on Budget and the Economy.
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American society is dead. Long live American society

The problem with American politics is that too many members of the electorate believe they live in an actual society. A population of 315 million diverse individuals, a significant number of whom cannot trace their lineage to any of the nation’s founding fathers much less the country these founding fathers descended from, doth not a society make. Politicians have been getting away with this scam artist narrative for centuries.

It’s time to replace the narrative with something more realistic. What then is America? A confederation of individuals with nary a history in common held together by laws that favor the expansion of corporatism, the hoarding of capital, and high returns for those who hold the most capital.

Prissy-miss progressives insist on guilt-trippin’ individuals into mass redistribution of wealth based on the current false premise that we are one people. Yahoo bubba conservatives promote an economic philosophy that goes directly against their individual and societal interests, wondering why their lot has not improved even after eight years of George Bush and five years of GOP control of the House of Representatives and a cantankerous GOP minority in the Senate.

The moral arguments of one nation, one society continually hustled by zoot-suit wearing black political strategists and clerics, arguments eloquently made by Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders sixty years ago, ring hallow today as these impostors are seen merely as Jesse Jackson knock-offs and wannabes and quite frankly no one is listening to Jesse anymore.

The arguments made by the Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity/Bill O’Reilly types are so tinged with bigotry and upper-class snobbery that they only hold sway with the fringe twenty percent of Americans who believe Ronald Reagan was Moses and Elvis Presley the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

So how should men and women who prefer the level-headed, reasonable path navigate America’s resistance to firming down an identity beyond worship of celebrities, football players, and talk show host fucktards? By acting as truly free individuals; by being what I refer as a “by-law.” A by-law rejects narratives forced upon him or her by Madison Avenue, K-Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue. They make and play by their own rules and strategically connect with the individuals that can help get them from point A to point B on the survive and thrive path.

The media won’t like by-laws. By-laws would require that the media move away from its messaging model, a model designed to manipulate reader behavior, and move toward a boring, bland, NPR/PBS News Hour format where readers and TV watchers actually get data that can help them make an individual, informed decision.

Politicians hate by-laws for the similar reasons. Individuals who make and play by their own rules pursue disruptive business models i.e Facebook, Amazon, etc., and are hard to control much less understand.

Today’s technology assists the by-laws in furtherance of social and business disruption, making outside thought viral, catching the old school off-guard. More and more people can stay connected without having to follow the rules and false narratives of the old guard, including the sales pitch that we are all one nation. We may be connected by technology but socially we are increasingly disconnected.

If there ever was an American society it’s now dead. America is no longer connected by values. It’s connected by football teams and reality TV. We shouldn’t fear this, however. Instead we should take advantage of its porous nature and take advantage of the newer and truer freedoms it affords us….

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Presidential candidates not demonstrating that they can lead in a world without work

Derek Thompson recently wrote a piece in The Atlantic about how technology could erase millions of jobs and asked whether that would be a good thing.  While Mr. Thompson explored the benefits of more Americans enjoying the freedom of more creative work or pursuits spawned when technology replaces drudge work, I wonder when this campaign season’s presidential aspirants will determine whether it’s a good thing to tell Americans about the new world order that they should be preparing for.

According to Mr. Thompson the world Americans should be preparing for a world of both cultural and economic breakdown.  “The sanctity and preeminence of work lie at the heart of the country’s politics, economics, and social interactions”, says Mr. Thompson.

The major cultural impact would be that technology not only puts downward pressure on wages, but also the share of workers with full-time employment.  When people ask, “what do you do for a living”, the response maybe akin to “a little of this, a little of that” for more and more people.  Work is more than a paycheck.  Work goes to one’s identity and place in society as a contributing and participating member of community.  Idleness and a sense of not belonging are unemployment’s negative consequences.

In addition, culture will take on three distinct characteristics when it comes to work, according to Mr. Thompson.  First, labor will further its losses to capital as the amount of labor demanded and income going to labor continues to decline.  Second, the number of unemployed men and underemployed youth will increase as technology takes away jobs that have been best suited for men and labor markets continue hiring educated younger workers at lower wages.  Third, the dexterity of machines cannot be predicted.  One year your phone is just a voice communicator.  The next year it’s your pocket CPA, librarian, and Yellow Pages replacement, taking three or more direct jobs with it.

Workers may find themselves in three distinct boxes: the consumption box, where some workers devote their time to leisure activities; the communal creativity box, where other workers, according to Mr. Thompson, build communities outside of work; and the contingency box, where people try to put together a living with whatever gigs they are able to find here and there.

I haven’t heard any of the candidates discuss or describe this new world order that knocks louder at our political economy’s door.  Take a look at Bernie Sanders’ interpretation of American labor’s dilemma.  Mr. Sanders core argument on the economy is that the middle class is not doing well because the vast majority of the country’s wealth and income is going to the top one percent of income earners.  Mr. Sanders does not discuss the structural changes in the economy, particularly the current impact of technology on the workplace and how this impact is expected to be amplified over the next few decades.

Hillary Clinton does no better than Mr. Sanders.  She defines America’s major economic challenge as the need to increase middle class incomes.  Mrs. Clinton harps on strong growth, fair growth, and long-term growth, but again does not discuss how structural changes in the economy and work in particular will impact the three pillars of her economic policy.

Republicans are doing no better in defining the future most American workers face.  Jeb Bush lays part of the blame for the malaise in the American workforce on Obamacare.  He argues that Obamacare is a job killer because the mandates and taxes imposed on businesses are keeping them from hiring workers.  Mr. Bush also argues that approximately 7 million American workers are stuck in part-time employment because rules issued by the Obama administration have put a damper on hiring decisions.  While promising 4% growth and an additional 19 million jobs should he become president, Mr. Bush does not explain to Americans how this can be possible in an economy that apparently puts less value on full-time workers.

Donald Trump, the billionaire competitor for the Republican nomination, hasn’t provided much insight into developing a political economy for the rest of the 21st century.  In neither his speeches, his websites, or social media platforms does Mr. Trump lay out a detailed plan for creating jobs in this changing structural climate.

Campaigns are typically not the forum for educating the public about economic realities.  They are about manipulating the public’s existing perception of the world around them.  If the public perceives their plight as a result of an upper class taking advantage of the lower classes. a candidate will seize that scenario and package a message that feeds the perception while garnering votes.  Policy is the last thing on the campaigners agenda.

The approach of ignoring policy will be abandoned when one of these candidates takes office in January 2017.  Based on what they are showing me today, I don’t expect them to have an economic policy addressing the new world of work ready to implement at that time.

Posted in American society, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, economics, Economy, Election2016, government, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, labor markets, Political Economy, unemployment | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On #religiousfreedom and #gaymarriage

For my slightly right of center friends who are still sucking down Pepto Bismol after today’s Supreme Court ruling:

You are conflating “right to religious principles” with wanting the rest of the world to be submissive to your religious narrative. Today’s decision doesn’t tell religious people how to relate to their “god.” What it does is say how the State should relate to those who choose to be a part of an institution, marriage, created by the State; an institution for which a citizen needs a license issued by the State before they can partake in it. Gay marriage doesn’t stop people from sending telepathic messages to Shango, Thor, Jah, Jehovah, or Odin….

It’s ironic that some churchgoers are more concerned about a section of the populace that want to enjoy increased inclusion in American society at no cost to the majority versus a small but dangerous portion of the populace that walks into churches and kill people because they believe that a certain race shouldn’t be a part of American society….

….the irony ….

Posted in civil rights | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Of ‪#‎WhiteSupremacy‬ and Domestic ‪#‎Terrorism‬

I believe that apartheid South Africa and al-Qaeda have provided white supremacists a blue print for not only gaining control of substantial portions of American territory but for governing it. The splinter cell model used by Islamic terrorists is flexible enough to disrupt transportation and communications hubs in the U.S.

Terrorists do not fit a physical description, much to the chagrin of most Americans who choose to remain naive about domestic terrorism. Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nicols, and now Dylann Roof have squashed the theory that terrorists are all a bunch of rag-heads.

Let’s face it. A fraction of the estimated 300,000 white supremacists in the U.S. as cited in the article below could, if properly armed and supplied, wreak havoc in cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, Jacksonville, and Miami. I get nervous sitting in traffic on I-75/85 for this reason. A few armed asswipes with automatic weapons could take out hundreds of drivers. Supremacists could easily put a hit on a black church in West End Atlanta and escape unscathed even with a police precinct in the neighborhood. I believe we take our safety for granted.

I lived in Maryland during the DC sniper attacks. To this day if I’m sitting at a light and I see any type of flash, I get jumpy. I still recall walking in a zig-zag from my car to the courthouse in Rockville hoping that my pattern would throw off a sniper; hoping I’d get home to my toddler son. A couple years later, the violent gang, MS-13, would leave its impact along the I-270 corridor, raising concerns for law enforcement and the public at large.

Terrorism is real. Combine its threat with a changing economy that is leaving more people disenfranchised and I believe you create something similar to an emergence of Hitler’s brown shirts. White men, especially lesser educated and unskilled, may allow themselves to fall victim to the hate-filled narrative that their circumstances are the fault of black and brown peoples. Today’s technology allows the hate to spread faster. Just imagine if Hitler had the internet to spread “Mein Kampf”?

Yes, we can all act like the line from Don Henley’s “All She Wants to do is Dance” and keep our heads stuck in the sand or we can start taking the initiative to seriously address hate in the United States. Ignoring it or being emotionally reactive with calls for prayer time won’t cut it. Many of these white supremacists are carrying bibles and singing “We Shall Overcome” as well. It’s just that their lyrics are a tad different….

Posted in American society | Tagged , | 3 Comments

My last comment on #RachelDolezal

Rachel Dolezal’s “misappropriation” of black identity raises this question: What does it mean to be “black”? That Ms. Dolezal was able to “pass” as black, both culturally and physically should have members of society asking how substantive it is to base cultural, social, and political identity on physical appearance and word phrases. In a society where identity politics is so rampant, Ms. Dolezal’s outing should be no surprise.

For example, could she have gotten away with saying she was West Indian? Physically, yes, but she would have failed almost every other test because being West Indian goes way beyond how you get your hair “did” and using a few cultural phrases.

If black or African Americans want to maintain a bottleneck on who gets to be called “black”, then a redefinition or refinement of the membership criteria for who can claim being a part of the African Diaspora in America is in order. As long as membership is this permeable, then “blacks” in America should get used to seeing more Rachel Dolezals….

Posted in American society, black American | Tagged | 2 Comments

Waiting to hear Hillary Clinton’s plan on how to rescue the middle class

From press accounts it seems we won’t hear much substance on economic issues from Hillary Clinton during tomorrow’s campaign rally in New York City.  The framework appears built on creating opportunities for the middle class according to articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

While I expect to hear some populist buzzwords thrown around, I don’t expect Mrs. Clinton to harp on the banks or large businesses. Banks still lend financial capital and corporations, large and small, still deploy capital.  Without capital moving to areas of opportunity, there will be no incentives to hire a labor force capable of managing that capital.

Nor do I expect Mrs. Clinton to ask the middle class to be accountable for their share of the blame for the economic morass some find themselves in.  This includes failure to stay ahead of where labor and financial markets were heading; decisions to borrow and spend on non-income generating assets; and a failure to stay politically engaged beyond the usual two-year election cycle.

The middle class expects to be coddled and Mrs. Clinton may give them a little of that tomorrow as she swears that she is the candidate that can best “fight for them.”

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Jeb Bush should try viewing Putin as a corporate raider

Jeb Bush has been sharing his thoughts with German leadership and the European press about Vladimir Putin and his aggressive moves on the Crimean peninsular. The New York Times reports Mr. Bush referring to the Russian president as a “bully” and Mr. Bush as saying that Mr. Putin’s moves should be dealt with “resolutely.”  Mr. Bush believes that Russia will do what it pleases if left unchecked and Russia’s leadership, not its people should bear the brunt of the penalties issued by the West.  Mr. Bush went on to define the appropriate response to Mr. Putin as one that should show the Russian president what the consequences of his aggressive actions would be versus a response that was warlike or “bellicose.”

It may be a bit too late to show Mr. Putin the consequences of his prior bad acts.   According to a report in The Economist, Mr. Putin has gotten most of what he wanted and has given concessions to the West over the past year.  Mr. Putin has formally annexed Crimea, introduced instability into Ukraine making the nation toxic enough for the United States to avoid, he has avoided serious economic sanctions, and his popularity has increased.

Heck, even some U.S. congressmen have expressed admiration for his boldness versus the passivity of President Barack Obama.

Mr. Bush’s views are vague which should come as no surprise given that the U.S. is under 17 months out from the presidential elections.  What is also not surprising is that Mr. Bush’s views on Russia in general and Mr. Putin in particular are in line with other GOP hopefuls with the exception of probably U.S. Senator Rand Paul who has shown an aversion to anymore military adventures.  Rather, I think Mr. Bush and his GOP posse should start treating Mr. Putin’s moves the way a corporation that loses a bidding war to acquire a company treat the new competition.

Let’s face it, that’s what Mr. Putin’s takeover of Crimea is.  Mr. Putin calculated the rents he and his large state bureaucracy could receive from Crimea, including the claims to revenues stemming from the peninsular’s bank assets.  Consider this quote from another piece in The Economist:

“In an era when most wealth comes in the form of financial securities rather than physical resources, wars of conquest would seem to be a losing proposition. Why take over territory, when its value pales in comparison to that of a few credit default swaps? The Russian treatment of Ukrainian banks in Crimea suggests an answer: the conquest of physical territory can be leveraged to acquire financial assets, such as claims to revenue from car leases.”

That Mr. Putin was able to conclude that the discount rate applied to the future rents stemming from the invasion would not be increased by a high risk premium showed his prowess in assessing America’s lack of clout with Europe and the distraction in the Middle East.  It’s simply too late for Mr Obama or the next president to jack up the risk premium on Crimea. As discussed earlier, Mr. Putin already has what he wants.

If Mr. Bush became president, he would be stuck making the same half-assed moves as the current president.  He could try to make Mr. Putin’s newly obtained assets toxic by trying to disrupt Russia’s energy markets, but the big buffer would be America’s European allies who are more dependent on Russia’s oil exports than the U.S.  Expending the political capital necessary to get Americans to go along with any moves against Russia would require that Mr. Bush persuade the public that what Russia does in Crimea directly threatens U.S. citizens, an argument neither he, Mr. Obama, or any declared or undeclared candidates have yet to make.





Posted in Barack Obama, Crimea, Economy, Elections 2012, foreign policy, Political Economy, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment