Elizabeth Warren appears to go deeper on the issue of corrupt officials

Findings by a Chapman University study found that 73.6% of Americans were concerned about corrupt government officials.  Proposals by the top polling candidates show a range of policy initiatives, ranging from careful one-line proposals to more granular initiatives.

Elizabeth Warren provides the more granular approach to addressing “corrupt officials.”  Specifically, Ms. Warren proposes that all lobbyists must register with the federal government and that foreign governments should be banned from hiring Washington lobbyists.  Ms. Warren also addresses Washington’s “revolving door” issue by proposing a prohibition on senators and congressmen becoming lobbyists.  And in a nod to requests that President Trump disclose his tax filings, Ms. Warren proposes that every candidate for federal office put their tax returns online.

None of the other top polling Democratic candidates are at parity with Ms. Warren.  The closest is Bernie Sanders who proposes that, in addition to overturning Citizens United super PACs (independent political action committees that may raise unlimited campaign financing funds from corporations and individuals but cannot donate directly to a candidate) be banned.  Also, Mr. Sanders proposes replacing corporate funding and donations from millionaires and billionaires with public funding.

Pete Buttigieg also proposes overturning Citizens United.  He also proposes implementing a small-donor matching system for federal elections.  The hope is that federal funds matched with small donations would help promote and encourage lesser known candidates in federal elections.

Kamala Harris has also jumped on the overturning Citizens United bandwagon and in addition supports disclosure of donations made by “dark-money” interest groups.  Political non-profit groups are under no obligation to disclose their donors.

Lastly, Joe Biden has limited his corrupt government officials initiative to simply overturning Citizens United.

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To be Savage …

And they found Thanos, the Savage, working the land, in touch with a natural environment that provided his sustenance, in a world where there was enough nature to go around. They couldn’t understand that kind of freedom. So they killed him so that they could return to a world of systems upon systems upon systems that serve only to separate man further from what is natural. They would rather live in that artificial world than one where they could get closer to themselves ….

….Thanos was right …and in the end, in reality, The Avengers failed…

Libra coin and broadband provide a template for increased economic empowerment

The eye catcher: Maxine Waters’ reaction to Facebook’s Libra …

Facebook’s announcement that it is getting closer to releasing a cryptocurrency has regulators in the United States in a wee bit of a tizzy.  For example, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, asked that Facebook put a moratorium on activity to release the crypto-coin, known as Libra, in 2020.

“Given the company’s troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congress and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action,” Mrs. Waters said.

Facebook’s issues with adequately protecting the behavioral data of its platform’s users is a continued topic of discussion among the consumer protection folks.  As a protector of the American payment system, Mrs. Waters concerns are expected.  A platform that is used by 2 billion people across the globe with a digital payment system overlay should raise concerns for any nation as that new payment systems entrant poses a competitive alternative for people using currency to seek out and purchase goods and services of value to them.  Reducing the transaction fees assessed on currency movement and purchases provide a benefit to consumers and to holders of capital seeking to increase returns.

Privacy. Disposing the non-issue …

I will dispose of the data privacy issue side note before moving on to the more important issue of black political economy empowerment.  If Mrs. Waters is that concerned with saving Americans from the privacy bogeyman, she would bring members across the aisle in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation and offer a comprehensive bill on privacy that encompasses data collection behavior on the part of core providers, such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, and edge providers, such as Facebook and Google.

Democrats have shown no balance on the issue of internet regulation and acting as if Facebook’s cryptocurrency is a surprise only signals to the internet industry that Congress lacks vision and intends to remain hopelessly behind the technology curve.  The privacy issue should not be used to slow down Facebook’s crypto initiative.

Facebook’s Libra is an outline for the African Diaspora’s Next Step ….

What Mrs. Waters and the rest of the black American political elite may not appreciate is the schematic a digital coin tethered to other currencies or securities provides for the African Diaspora community.  For example, a digital payment system provides a conduit between the African Diaspora in the United States and the African continent.  Currency is an information transmitter and if digitized it means that the information currency transmits about wealth and opportunity can be sent without the friction introduced by unneeded intermediaries.

The block chain technology that such a platform would be built on provides transparency in the form of a digital ledger linked by cryptography.  By design, data transmitted in the block chain is resistant to modification.

Reduced friction in transactions facilitates digital data flows.  It means reduced costs for the cross border flow of capital.  Broadband technology would not only enhance the search and confirmation of investment opportunities in Africa, it makes greater use of block chain technology possible.

And while Facebook’s mission is to “connect the world”, Facebook’s priority is not economic empowerment of blacks.  This opens an opportunity for engineers, scientists, technologists, and economists in the African Diaspora to build their own digital platform linking the western and eastern hemispheres with a digital currency designed to run over this platform.  The resulting creation of capital on both continents can be used to build food processing plants that are desperately needed in Ghana and increasing the size, production efficiencies, and marketing efforts of black-owned farms in the United States.

Conclusion: Keep the eyes on empowerment and digital future …

Rather than slowing down Libra, Mrs. Waters and the rest of the black political elite should be asking, “How can we use this platform or the idea of this platform to our benefit?”

 

 

Kamala Harris’messaging on busing out of touch 40 years later

The eye catcher ….

Kamala Harris attacked fellow Democratic candidate Joe Biden during last night’s second round of debates between Democrats vying for their party’s blessing to go up against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in November 2020.  Ms. Harris scored points on Mr. Biden when the U.S. senator from California challenged his position in the early 1970s on school busing.  Ms. Harris asserted that Mr. Biden was against busing, the policy that transferred black students from schools in poor neighborhoods with under-performing, under-funded schools to schools in majority white, more affluent communities.  Ms. Harris argued that were it not for that policy, she would not have enjoyed the personal and professional success she is enjoying now.

From the perspective of a candidate seeking votes in the political markets, does the issue of busing resonate enough with the electorate’s fear that the narrative will garner votes?  The answer is no.

Ms. Harris’ busing argument doesn’t address Americans’ fears …

For millions of Americans, the issue of busing does not pull at the heart strings.  With a median age of 38 years, the policy of busing was waning when half of America was alive.  For the past two decades, cities across the United States have implemented remedial plans to address the problem of school segregation.  Ms. Harris’ mother faced the fear of her daughter receiving a less than stellar education in their neighborhood and likely believed this was the best or only available option.  And while there is still the concern about poor funding in low-income neighborhoods, options, including vouchers, charter schools, private schools, and relocation are available to alleviate these fears.

But while the issue of busing will quickly fade from the memories of the electorate who watched last night’s debate, what may linger a little longer is Ms. Harris’ performance.  The push back on Mr. Biden included a picture of Ms. Harris as a school girl and when combined with the tone and delivery of Ms. Harris’ remarks provided enough of an emotional message to connect with people in the audience and with traders in the political futures markets as the price of an event contract on Ms. Harris’ nomination climbed as much as seven cents last night on PredictIt.

But her performance may not address the fear of some in the black community that her record as a prosecutor does not reflect serious attempts at law enforcement reform.  There is the argument that her record is mixed, having not done enough to address the efficacy of investigating police shootings, declining to weigh in on recreational use of marijuana, and her defense of the death penalty.

Kamala Harris, while probably liked by her sorority sisters and the professional class, may not be endeared by those who have had a less than pleasant run-in with law enforcement.

Conclusion: Kamala Harris has work to do …

Ms. Harris has managed to present energized optics over the past 24 hours, but in the 21st century digital world, those optics can be blurred quickly by opposing messaging provided on tens or hundreds of other mediums.  Right now as I type this post, Joe Biden is mounting an energetic rebuttal to Ms. Harris on C-SPAN and while the political futures markets have Ms. Harris’ selling at a higher price than Mr. Biden, the ability for Mr. Biden to go on a policy offensive across multiple platforms with a deeper bench of media and civic leader support could put him back in the driver’s seat.

The corporation serves the State, not the other way around …

The eye catcher ….

During last night’s debate among candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, a number of candidates including U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, criticized corporations operating in various industries for the greed they perpetrate on Americans.  From internet to health care to energy companies, the candidates took issue for predatory prices for health care, the anti-trust implications of large internet companies, and the tax breaks companies receive while rank and file Americans struggle.

In short, corporations should be feared …. or should they?

History of the fear ….

As usual when selling a fear narrative it is important to leave out the education component from any assertion that there is a bogey man to be afraid of.  What consumers of the political narrative should be asking is, “What is a corporation?”  “Why should I be afraid of it?”

corporation is an extension of the State.  A corporation’s purpose is to extract resources, process them, convert them into goods and services, and distribute those goods and services using price as the allocating mechanism in order to generate tax income for the state and private income or profit for itself.

To varying degrees this has been the corporation’s role for the last 400 years.  Americans have been so programmed to believe that America was discovered by adventurous Europeans that they overlook or are simply ignorant about its corporate beginnings.

Prior to the 17th century, corporations, originally not-for-profits that received charters from the British monarch, were established to meet some public works need with their duties overseen by government. During the 17th and into the early 18th century, colonial corporations had the primary responsibility of expanding the British monarch’s empire, creating monopolies and controlling trade.  These companies bought or extracted raw resources, sent then to England for manufacture, and then imported the manufactured goods into the colonies for purchase by the colonists.

Americans have forgotten (if they ever knew) that although their ancestors were miffed by the trade monopolies held by these companies and the economic oppression they contributed to, post the American Revolution, corporations were the structure that drove the private investment into the American industrial revolution.

The problem for American government by the 1820s and 1830s that like the monster from Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein: or, The Prometheus Man, the corporation sought their own version of self-awareness and increased freedom from the strictures of the State.  It has been a back of forth battle between the State and the corporation, with the State taking a more interventionist approach by stepping up regulation in the areas of banking, energy, securities, and telecommunications.  Corporations had been created to carry out the State’s bidding in maximizing America’s resources.  Intervention via regulation is indication that the State fears that it may lose control over the corporate power it relies on to administer the Nation’s resources.

Spreading the fear to the consumer …

It wouldn’t be good social policy for the State to drop the hammer on corporation monopoly over resources if the sentiment of the public were not incorporated in its policy actions.  The optics of an arbitrary application of administrative power does not fare well in a democracy.  There has to be an excuse and in a democracy the excuse should include a discussion on the harms an unregulated corporation could have on the consumer.

Americans may be uncomfortable with the ability of corporations to engage in predatory pricing, but they have a bigger fear of a government that exercises power on a whim.  One can always substitute the product of a corporation with another product, but one cannot easily get away from a State with a monopoly on force.

To stem the fear of arbitrary and capricious application of force, the State gives the impression of fairness and due process in its rulemaking by asking the public to comment on or, when applicable to the decision, to vote.  The State gets the public to buy into regulation of the corporation by painting the corporation as harmful to the public’s interest.  It makes the corporation the bogey man; the entity that transfers wealth from the consumer to its treasury unjustly via high prices or non-disclosure of prices, terms, and conditions.

Conclusion: To serve the State …

By substituting the fear of consumer abuse for the fear of reduced power over the Frankenstein monster, the State accomplishes to goals. First, it keeps the public in check by holding itself out as a consumer protector. Second, it reminds the corporation of its role in the American political economy: that the corporation serves the State and not the other way around.

 

 

 

 

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/041515/what-history-corporations-america.asp

 

The World’s First Corporations

How Andrew Yang is doing so far on the nomination trail

What paths are available to Yang to win the nomination?

Mr. Yang is in the nomination campaign stage where he is trying to win delegates to the Democratic national convention.  As a little-known candidate, Mr. Yang will need a spring board into the national spotlight, similar to the tact that Jimmy Carter applied in 1976, by winning one of the early primaries or caucuses: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina.   Waiting until Super Tuesday in March will be too late because along with the spring board of the early caucus or primary wins comes the financial support that is in search of a winner.

It is all about the delegates.

What is Mr. Yang’s game plan in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina?

Mr. Yang’s primary and caucus focus appears to be Iowa and New Hampshire.  Since March 2018, Mr. Yang has visited Iowa at least 29 times and New Hampshire 34 times.  He is following the standard playbook as inspired by Jimmy Carter during the 1976 election where an early win in Iowa and New Hampshire propelled the unknown former Georgia governor into the national consciousness and later the Oval Office.

What should be of concern to traders and investors in the political markets is Mr. Yang’s relative non-appearance in South Carolina.  To date, Mr. Yang has been to South Carolina three times since March 2018.  South Carolina is an important state because of its large bloc of African American voters.  In addition, South Carolina gets to set the tone for the subsequent Super Tuesday primaries. It appears that, for whatever resource constraint, at least at this point on the nomination campaign, Mr. Yang is delaying efforts to secure a large bloc of voters in South Carolina for a distribution of delegates in two smaller states.

Is Mr. Yang discussing policies that resonate with voters?

Mr. Yang has made universal basic income a centerpiece of his economic policy.  For example, he has established an Iowa Freedom Dividend which provides an Iowan in need with $1,000 a month.  The rationale behind the Dividend is to demonstrate how cash transfers can make an economic difference to voters under financial stress; where their value may be reduced to zero as a result of a hardship.

Mr. Yang argues further in support for his freedom dividend that just as Alaskans receive dividends from oil drilling proceeds, Americans can receive dividends from tech firms that drill for information

While Mr. Yang has only been in South Carolina so few times, he believes, as he relayed in an interview to the staff of The Root, that his universal basic income plan or freedom dividend, would go toward resolving certain issues impacting blacks specifically.

 

While Mr. Yang gets more into the weeds with his policy proposals, he still has to battle the name recognition of front runners such as Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.  I am not ready to say that he cannot make further head way against elected officials with name recognition. The political prediction markets have him ahead of Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and a share on a “yes” vote for Mr. Yang is only two pennies shy of that of South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.  This tells me that either Mr. Yang’s sales pitch is as potent as the next candidate or that the tech entrepreneur is exercising internet savvy in getting his narrative out to voters.

As of 8:01 pm EST this evening, PredictIt has a “yes” vote for Mr. Yang selling at $.12.

 

Biden’s remarks about civility won’t impact electability much

Joe Biden took a hit in the political prediction markets today as the media reported on comments he made regarding his ability to work with two segregationist senators, the late Herman Talmadge and the late James Eastland.  Two Democratic candidates, U.S. Senator Cory Booker and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, took issue with Mr. Biden’s use as an example of civility episodes of working with the late senators, citing the negative impact segregation and racism have had on black people in general and their families in particular.

With the Democratic debates just seven days away, Mr. Biden will have this weekend’s Sunday talk shows through which his political strategists can turn the negative reaction into a positive.  I expect Mr. Biden to make a clearer and more forceful argument that the experience of having to work with segregationists within his own party has prepared him for working with conservatives across the aisle.

Ironically, the only candidates getting any type of bump in the prediction markets have been Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.  None of these Democratic candidates were vocally critical of Mr. Biden’s comments.  Messrs Booker and de Blasio saw no changes in their paths to the White House.