Can Biden increase his electoral stock value?

The issue: Can Biden raise his electoral stock value in face of a Warren advance?

Predictit.org is reporting that the lowest price traders are being offered for purchasing a “yes” contract on Joe Biden‘s chances of winning the Democratic nomination is $.26.  This means that if the elections were held today and a trader purchases a yes contract and wins, they have a maximum gain of $.74 on the contract since a winning payout is one dollar.  With twenty-three other candidates in the hunt for the nomination, Mr. Biden’s chances and “yes” contract price should climb as more candidates drop out of the running.

One candidate who may not be on that drop out list is U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.  Ms. Warren has been climbing in the polls within the past couple months, with a Predictit “yes” contract now selling at $.20 at the time of this writing.  She has passed Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, for second place in the political prediction markets.  Mr. Sanders’ “yes” contract is currently selling at $.17.

Can Mr. Biden increase his electoral capital enough to ward off the challenges, particularly those offered by populists like Mrs. Warren and Mr. Sanders?

What Biden faces and what he has to do ….

Writing for Yahoo! News, Sahil Kapur and Emma Kinery cite data from a Economist/YouGov poll of South Carolina voters showing Joe Biden ahead of Elizabeth Warren by ten percentage points (26% to 16%), while Mr. Sanders comes in at 12%.  Among black voters, Kapur and Kinery note that Mr. Biden is polling at 50% while Mr. Sanders comes in second at 10%.  Mrs. Warren is back in a cloud of dust at 4%.

Nationally, Mr. Biden shouldn’t rest on his laurels.  In the political market place, Mr. Biden still has to make the argument why the electorate should release their vote in exchange for his narrative.  Political narrative becomes sound currency if backed up by solid policy or an argument for solid policy.  Writing for The New Yorker, John Cassidy argues that Mr. Biden has to dispel the notion that the former vice-president is an out-of-touch centrist riding the nostalgia of first black American and a very popular president’s coattail.  Mr. Biden also has to offer more detailed economic packages notes Mr. Cassidy, and explain how he would address underlying problems with American democracy.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren is driving up her electoral stock value with a personal narrative that seeks to connect with middle America while attempting to present complex policy prescriptions in a clear manner.  Mrs. Warren, according to Mike Allen and Jim Vandelte, provides specific liberal ideas.  They note that she has the ability to unite the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and should she lose the Democratic Party nomination to either Mr. Sanders or U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, she would still be in play to be king or queen maker given her increased populist clout.

Mr. Biden has to protect the nostalgia element of his candidacy.  So far, according to Politico’s Holly Otterbein, the rest of the Democratic field have been pretty much hands-off when it comes to the Obama-Biden years, fearing that any attack on policy or failure to enact policy during those years will bring the ballot booth wrath of Obama fans.

But, according to Ms. Otterbein, Mr. Biden’s many years in Washington also give his Democratic opponents a target rich environment at which to take aim.  Taking Mr. Biden back to his past policy mistakes may put him in a least progressive or worse, mildly conservative light.

Conclusion …

It is tough to predict so early in the race for the Democratic nomination whether attacks on Mr. Biden’s political performances prior to becoming vice-president will cause him to lose the nomination. At a minimum, he will have to take ownership of the negative optics of any less than progressive behavior prior to becoming Mr. Obama’s vice-president while providing a clarity of action plans equal to those being offered by Mrs. Warren.

 

 

 

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A philosophy of “political” engagement for the individual anarchist

Navigating the path to a good life in the realm of politics …

The good life is one where the individual pursues her self-awareness without the encumbrance of mass tyranny.  An individual anarchist that places personal liberty above all else will have as a goal near non-existent contact with government.  She will do what is practical to keep government off of her back.  She will, for example, file her tax returns and pay her taxes, taking advantage, of course, of any means of reducing her tax obligation that keeps her at the same time off of the government’s radar.  She should keep herself in a position to keep government at bay.

Does this mean that the individual anarchist must involve herself in politics?  That may depend on how you define politics.

The politics of human interaction …

I am a realist.  I acknowledge that 245 years ago, a bunch of well-financed strong men wrestled control of this jurisdiction from a strong man sitting in England.  I acknowledge that these strong men created a government for the day-to-day exercise of administration of this jurisdiction’s resources, and that if I am to navigate this environment in order to maintain myself and my family, then there will be some minimal exchange of information or currency between me and this government and the people who exercise non-thinking obedience to its policies.

Does this mean that I have to engage in the institutional practice of the administration of public affairs?  Does this mean that I have to vote in an election or run for public office?  Does this mean that I have to fund political campaigns and take bets on a better candidate?

The answer to the above is no.  Acknowledging the State’s existence creates no requirement that you feed the Beast.  Rather you should call the Beast out through constant critique.  To borrow from Emile Armand, “the work of the anarchist is above all a work of critique.”  The individual-anarchist, in order to enhance her chances of optimizing individual liberty, must live and need be agitate from the outside.  What “political” mechanism, then, should she use?

Political ‘string theory’ ….

The relationship between elected officials and the electorate is based on an exchange of a politician’s position and and a voter’s perception.  This exchange creates an equilibrium that is maintained where a politician conveys to a voter necessary and sufficient information that meets or guides a voter’s perception as to how well the environment of the political economy is doing.  For example, Donald Trump conveys to his constituency that his policies are leading to job growth.  His base, after consuming available data, continue to perceive that things are going well.

But the individual-anarchist may see Mr Trump’s policies as impeding her ability to, say, develop and use her own private energy resources.  At this point she may have two alternatives. She can be silent and allow Mr Trump’s policies and the electorate’s erroneous perception to crush her, or she can engage in a temporary strategic partnership with like-minded individuals to critique Mr Trump’s policies.  This is where the political string theory comes in.

Under this theory, the equilibrium between elected official position and voter perception lies on a fabric of data flow between both parties.  Warp the fabric by introducing surprise; by introducing information, and this relationship changes.  The goal of the temporary, strategic partnership of individual anarchists should be to publish accurate, data rich “surprise” that disrupts the inertia in the political system.

This type of agitation cannot occur from inside the system for two reasons.  First, the system’s core has in place editorial roadblocks that will dilute, eviscerate, eliminate the messaging.  Instead, the messaging should aim to pick off elements of the mass electorate who may be more susceptible to independent thought, those who may be sitting on the fence. Those who doubt the efficacy of the political elite.

The second reason for agitating from the outside is to ensure that the messengers are not co-opted.  Take for example the Libertarian Party.  Their policies or positions have yet to take hold with a significant amount of the American population. By operating within the mechanics of the electoral system, they have morphed into nothing but closet Republicans.

Conclusion …

“Political” engagement for the individual anarchist must be temporary and purposeful.  Prolonged engagement runs the risk of creating organizations that eventually exist for the sole purpose of maintaining existence.  Prolonged engagement means diluting your individuality. To be the effective critic, the new data introduced must be a surprise, truly new information that makes disruption all the more effective.

 

Blacks need a new political law game

The political battle between the Executive and the Congress has been intense to say the least over the last twenty-seven months since Donald Trump took office.  With post-Mueller report hearings ramping up next week, the saga only promises to continue way into campaign season.

My friends and family have expressed varying degrees of interest, with a significant number of opinions fueled more by emotion and less by critical thinking.  For example, the constant reference to “collusion”, a term that has no legal meaning, is disconcerting because it provides an example of how people are ignoring the particulars (even when readily available for examination) and rolling with the globs of misinformation thrown onto the plate most times by the mainstream media.

Black congressional leadership wasting political power …

What should also be disturbing is how two of the highest ranking blacks in the Congress, Maxine Waters and Elijah Cummings, are spearheading the charge in the impeachment debate.  Their distaste for the sitting president is evident, but what is less evident is how the use of a potent political law instrument as impeachment is supposed to translate into any increase in political power, wealth, or capital for black people.

If anything, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed caution about pursuing impeachment, appreciating the argument from some inside her party that pursuing impeachment could have a negative impact on the Democrats’ ability to oust Donald Trump from the Oval Office in November 2020.  Mrs. Pelosi’s hesitancy on impeachment should have provided Ms. Waters and Mr. Cummings an opening to show leadership and go against the impeachment grain, not because it would be in line with Speaker Pelosi’s sentiment, but as a signal that the energy expenditure behind impeachment does nothing for their prime constituency: black people.

When you are marginalized, you agitate …

With at least 51 voting members in the U.S. House, blacks in the Congress are in a position to be the pivotal swing vote on a number of issues including impeachment. Numerically, black members of the House, where articles of impeachment would originate, could clog the wheel by holding back approximately 20% of the Democratic vote.  With this leverage, black congressmen could attempt concessions from either the House leadership or from President Trump, though it is less likely that the black caucus would try to negotiate with the President for fear of becoming a pariah in the Democratic Party.

Therein lies a telling dilemma. If the premier block of black congressmen cannot leverage numerical strength without fear of reprisal, what good is their strength?  Another irony is that for a group of congressman that represent a marginalized group, their fear of marginalization within Congress does not put them in a position to do more for their black constituents.

Maybe the answer is to stay outside the box …

On the other hand, maybe blacks, particularly those who embrace their status as marginalized, need an approach to political law that allows them to carve out their own independent niche; one that unapologetically finds the seams or openings in the political economy in order to access capital or create substantive platforms for constructing true communities. Current black leadership is too afraid to do that.

A quick thought on stablecoin, Facebook nation, and government pushback

Just had a thought on creating a digital nation and admittedly I am still just fleshing out the idea so bear with me.

Crypto currencies still have a chance at succeeding, but the issue commenters and the public continue to overlook is that as currencies, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and whatever the hell else is out there have no underlying political economies to support them. Currency valuations transmit to the world the value and/or level of economic output a nation has. Bitcoin, for example, is not a nation’s currency. If it were, it would give Zaire’s currency volatility a run for the money. With the advent of stablecoin, particularly Facebook’s expected issue of the digital coin in 2019, we could see the beginning of a truly digital political economy.

Stablecoin is defined as a cryptocurrency pegged to some reserve currency like the U.S. dollar or another crypto currency such as Ethereum. No matter the model, the goal is to provide users with some stability in the coin’s exchange price. Consumers and investors may like the convenience of not having to check Bitcoin’s price every time they want to buy a cup of coffee or make a currency exchange. Stablecoins, at least in theory, helps to avoid all that.

Facebook will reportedly first play in India’s remittance market. As we descendants of the Commonwealth are all to familiar with, the remittance process can be emotionally taxing when the lack of necessary middlemen are not in place to get money to our relatives in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean.

The blockchain technology platform that Facebook’s stablecoin will use is expected to provide the transparency and peer-to-peer capabilities that ensure that monies are sent and received under a system of trust, verification, and lack of intermediaries.

But I can see Facebook and even Amazon going beyond playing a relatively minor role in a country’s payment system. Not only could Facebook or Amazon issue digital currencies in the next ten years, they could and should go all out in developing their own digital nations.

Facebook could finally add some meat to his currently weak mission of “connecting the world” by leveraging every business and consumer in his network to engage with each other commercially by using his stablecoin. Consumers subscribing to Facebook or Amazon could be assessed annual membership fees or be charged a “tax” substantially less than the average state or local sales tax in exchange for exclusive access to every merchant listed on either platform with the medium of exchange being a stablecoin.

As one of the largest companies in the world with a 2.5 billion people user base, Facebook, via commercial exchange on its platform, can generate the value necessary for traders in currency to express enough faith in the currency to trade in it drive up its value. Unlike current crypto currencies, a “Facecoin” could exhibit more organic and trustworthy movement because it would be backed by a company large enough to be a national economy.

As for local, state, and federal governments, they could be left a few decades from now with nothing left to regulate and tax but physical infrastructure. Would government be understanding and wish more and more taxpayers a fare thee well, or would government act like the pharaoh in the Old Testament, chasing the people with its tax chariots.

The ensuing issue may be the legal relationship between the old State and the new Digital State that online platforms like Facebook and Amazon will hopefully morph into and how best to treat citizens who have to spend time in both worlds.

Does Facebook’s business model disrupt the political information markets?

Facebook is engaging in a war against misinformation and divisiveness in the United States as perpetrated via social media, according to published reports by Bloomberg and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Having done a 180 degree turn from its position last year that its platform was not used to cause a disruption of public opinion leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Facebook is using artificial intelligence tools to identify inauthentic posts and user behavior.  With teams comprised of data scientists, policy experts, and engineers, Facebook is blocking fake accounts and vetting news stories posted on its site.

Critics doubt that Facebook’s attempts to thwart future social media influence will outweigh its incentives to distribute fictional political stories that keep people glued to Facebook while providing advertisers with millions of pairs of eyeballs.  Facebook, according its 10-K annual report, garners almost of its revenues from advertising.  In 2017, advertising made up 98% of Facebook’s revenues.  According to Facebook’s 10-K, at the top of the list of factors that could adversely impact advertising revenues: decreases in user engagement, including a decline in the time spent using the company’s products.

Having used Facebook for eleven years, I witnessed the increase in the use of the platform as a tool for political engagement.  Facebook has expanded opportunities for voters to vet politicians and their policies.  I have seen a significant number of posts, including memes and video, that got the facts wrong; that showed no knowledge of process, politics, or economics.  Cynicism, fear, passion, inaccuracies, sincerity, patriotism, anarchy, and indifference all run rampant on Facebook.  But do I buy the argument that messages placed on Facebook by Russian agents spread so much misinformation that America became suddenly divided overnight? That “Russian interference led to a Trump victory?

No.  The divisiveness was already there.  Giving a couple hundred million Americans the ability to quickly share their thoughts, accurate or not, on the political news of day simply tore away the scab.

Further evidence of divisiveness in American politics: print, broadcast, and cable media.  American media is meeting the demand of a divided public, with Fox News occupying the Right and MSNBC and CNN serving the frenzied Left.

What Washington may truly be afraid of is that politicians have less control over the channels through which they are vetted.  On the one hand, Jeffrey Rosen, president of the Constitution Center, shared the following with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg:

“Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms have accelerated public discourse to warp speed, creating virtual versions of the mob.  Inflammatory posts based on passion travel farther and than arguments based on reason.  We are living, in short, in a Madisonian nightmare.”

On the other hand, Americans may be taking to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in search of alternative opportunities to criticize the political packages and action plans that politicians offer in exchange for votes and increases in taxes.  The divisiveness may be stemming from an increased lack of enchantment with democracy itself.  After all, according to Professor Yuval Harari, democracies are “blips in history” depending on “unique technological conditions” and losing credibility as democracy faces more questions about its inability to provide for and maintain a middle class.

Democracy is hard up to explain why almost all the nine million jobs created post recovery from the 2007-2009 recession have been “gig work” paying little to no benefits.  Democracy has yet to come up with a solution to a wealth gap that the Left invests time in describing, laying blame at the feet of the rich yet coming up with no solutions for a society that prides itself on equal access to the ballot but still comes up short on adequate access to capital.

To the question whether Facebook’s business model has disrupted the political information markets, I would, for now, answer yes.  Facebook has contributed to bringing unreasonable, uninformed voices into the arena. I for one do not want to be lead or have policy fed by impassioned, unreasonable voices, no matter what part of the spectrum they fall on.  What the political class may have to look at for in the near term is that democracy may be less of a facilitator of a peaceful transfer of power between its factions as the mob continues to peel away the scab.