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Pay attention to this, because it’s your retirement money … November 7, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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… that these one-percenters are all about to hunker down and argue about protecting — or not.

This is the opening salvo in what will be a long battle over how much capital backup money market mutual funds need to have to protect ALL shareholders equally in the event of a bad market swing — and possible panic.

And that means what capital “buffer” must be there to cushion against a loss that causes some shareholders to demand their money back — and get it ahead of the folks like you and me who learn of the problem a day or so after it is a problem and way, way after the big money gets up and runs for safety.

Which leaves US with the dirty end of the stick — again — and potentially helps jeopardize the whole sytem, in theory.

It’s a problem that needs addressing — and not with a government bailout fund or “insurance” that does nothing more than send a blaring signal for fund managers to get all risky and Type A on us, knowing taxpayers will be there with the Super Glue when Humtpy falls off the wall. As he will some day.

But its YOUR JOB and mine to listen, to read and to watch these cats at each and every turn. Because while some safeguards are necessary in the view of just about all, there is money to be made by spinning the deal to one’s advantage.

Don’t want to smother the money market mutual fund market with needless red tape and cludgy rules that toss the baby with the bad bathwater.

But the Captains of Industry will try to work their lobbying magic. And they will win if we’re all too damned busy worrying about Lindsey Lohan and who’s on top in our Fantasy Football leagues.

And the needed “buffer” will come out our our end — not theirs.

 

 

 

I’ve had about enough of the Tory Party ‘Patriots’ October 22, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in 2012 elections, Economy, Politics.
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Well, the first non-political assessment of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan is in and, to the surprise of no one at all familiar with various forms of flat tax-ery, it amounts to a massive redistribution of wealth going forward.

As this assessment  from the Tax Policy Center shows:

— 84% of U.S. households would pay more than they do under current federal taxes.

— Households with incomes below $30,000 would have, on average, between 16% and 20% less in after-tax income than they do today, mainly because of the national sales tax and the loss of Earned Income Tax Credit.

— Households making more than $200,000 would see their after-tax income grow by between 5% and 22% on average.

— 95% of those with more than $1 million in income would receive an average tax cut of $487,300.

The study doesn’t specifically say what happens to most of the people between $30,000 and $200,000, but you can figure it out. The poor pay a lot more than they do now, but that won’t raise much. Those at the upper end get big tax reductions.

And since the Tax Policy Center agrees with Cain that his plan would raise just as much money as the current system does, the folks in the Big Middle have an awful lot of lost revenue to make up through much higher tax outlays.

And this proposal has catapulted Mr. Cain to the head of the class among Republican presidential candidates. The others now are scrambling to come up with something similar to placate a wing of this “party” that seems so enamored with the 1770s that it has become completely color-blind.

And I make no reference to Mr. Cain’s ethnicity in that. The Palin-Bachman-Perry-Paul front seems to be hell-bent on turning the GOP into the Tory Party, for all they seem to wish for is the destruction of any and all legal protections for our air, our water, our land, any laws that would safeguard our marketplaces from usury, fraud, rotten food and goods brought in by boat from lands comfortable with the employment of children in sweatshops, in many cases employed by subsidiaries of multinational corporations based in the USofA.

And they rush to support a taxation system such as the one put forth by Mr. Cain that would execute a massive redistribution of wealth from people making less than $200,000 to the very wealthy – the new American royalty who will control the faux-King they hope to choose to replace Mr. Obama.

This would take us very rapidly to a place akin to 1776, when these colonies chose to take up arms to liberate themselves from an English tyranny that came with the seal of the King, but was planned, controlled and executed by the merchant elite in jolly old London. In America, the Tories sided with the mercantile tyranny. As the Tea Party does today.

Indeed, they clamor to ladle praise on a Cain plan that would enact a new national tax of 9 percent on — well, tea, among other common commodities.

If this all were not so deadly real, it would be comedy. It amazes me that good conservatives, good well-intentioned Republicans do not rise and thrust this band of absolute idiots from the stage.

If  for no other reason than to protect themselves from this radical restructuring of the entire economy, done in the hope that once all this wealth is moved to the very rich, some of  it will trickle down somehow and make everything better.

No. Mr. Cain’s extremely disruptive proposal would rip just about every business plan in the country to shreds, destroy tens of thousands of small businesses and make the recession of 2009 look like a minor bump in the road.

It would do this by erasing every shred of discretionary income left in most of the economy, leaving the very rich with a whole lot more money they will not be able to spend.

And guess what? They won’t invest it in new businesses that would hire a bunch of people to make stuff that no one has any money to buy.  Trust me — that’s not a formula many of them used to get rich.

Let’s hope this CSM Cairo report is mistaken February 3, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Egypt, Musings.
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I’m hoping, but a lot of the events and statements they report here are disturbing and point to the conclusion the piece reaches: That a crackdown by the regime is imminent.

I think a tough response would backfire, but perhaps that is wishful thinking.

Obama’s call to arms January 25, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Obama, Politics.
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There will be those who say “how?” With a deficit in the trillions, and an accumulated pile far beyond even counting, when you come right down to it. With 9.5 % of us still out of a job.

But the President clearly “gets it.” He has some ideas, but realizes he and those on his side of our great political divide do not have all the ideas needed to build a new and greater nation — and world. He has some goals, in a line that comports to the world as he sees it. But knows this ranking is not the only set of priorities.

He calls it a “Sputnik moment” and it is that — a crossroads where we all choose whether to fight amongst ourselves for power and glory and bitty sized more of what there is, all on the way down to a scarcity world we should not care to visit; or together find a way to bear the burdens needed to restore sanity to a budget, while grooming a new generation of American leaders and innovators and building a new economic juggernaut — using people, enterprises and ideas from whatever color lips, in whatever dialect.

There are “big things” to be done. No one alone, no party in or out, can manage the task.

It is time to replace bitterness with diligence. And start laying the first course.

Thank you Keith January 21, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Communications, hope, Justice, Politics.
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for raising your voice, though there were times it topped the wall to my ears.

But right or wrong, you spoke for truth … and against the pretty narrative, the brazen grab, the bald-faced bulbous lie.

And too many just take the money and cower.

And above all else, I always got the sense that you felt that you could be wrong. As we all are on occasion.

So rest up for a bit and see and hear and taste and feel the world. Then tell us all again sometime how it all boils down to your mind.

We’ll be waiting.

Our Senate has some oddball logic December 18, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Justice, Politics.
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I’m pleased to see that the Senate finally voted to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy governing military service. It’s a step toward facing up to one of the realities in our make-up as a nation — the one where we all are differently blessed, differently obligated.

Even those who might profess that homosexuality is a sin had no leg to stand on with this wink toward injustice. For if we barred sinners from military service, or fair treatment after military service, I’m guessing the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs budgets dip to near zero.

But I’m left shaking my head by votes from Republican Sens. John Ensign of Nevada and Richard Burr of North Carolina. These two stalwarts joined the supermajority in removing the policy. But not before they voted in lockstep with most Republicans to block a vote on the matter with what passes for a filibuster today.

What’s that all about? I don’t really want to vote, but if we’re going to I’m for it? On an issue such as this, that rises or falls on a principle, you go for that kind of stuff — it’s more important to stand with my “team” and try to block consideration of such an important matter, even though I’m in favor of the matter and want my vote counted publicly as an “Ay?”

That’s the wrong message gentlemen: The people want matters to get full consideration, discussion, debate and then a vote.

We tire of these kind of games — and fancy footwork who you can pull a John Kerry someday and be for it and against it.

Grab your stones and stand for something.

Yes, let’s put Goldman back in charge December 4, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Environment, Justice, Politics, U.S. Budget, Wall Street.
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I’ve been listening very very closely to all the reform talk down in the Swamp, emerging only with confusion.

One group – the bright Red one – rails against an end to what always was limited tax relief for the top 1 percent or 2 percent of earners, now casting any act to not extend this relief as a move that would sap the slow 3 percent recovery we are in the midst of. Can’t take that $80-$100 billion a year out of circulation in what they continue to say is a “recession,” even though the economy stopped receding and started proceeding four quarters ago.

They know that. But they lie because it’s convenient for the narrative.

This group, then, does a wonderful spin with full gainer, and demands an end to extended unemployment benefits and an immediate return to 2008 spending levels, reigning in such stimulus-intended measures as broadened Medicaid coverage, boosted university research grants, various individual tax credits designed to spur household spending on energy efficiency upgrades. This, if put into effect, would take at least $100 billion in spending by individuals out of the economy – spending on doctors, medicines, researcher salaries and equipment purchases and all those things all those people scraping by need to buy. You know, rent, milk, bread, gasoline, spaghetti sauce, mostly from small businesses, if that matters (actually, the Wal-Marts are counting on taking that “market share” pretty soon, so it doesn’t long term).

Somehow, the Red team doesn’t think this will in any way slow down the economic expansion, though study after study show without dispute that the poor and unemployed and even the middle class university research assistant have a much higher propensity to spend than does the individual or couple making $250,000 and up. So if you are going to pull $100 billion out of the economy – and either way you are doing that – and your true intention is to not hurt the recovery, you draw from the top, not the bottom, of the take-home ladder, because the subtraction of spending multiplied down the line is less.

(more…)

We need to see a lot more of this November 25, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Justice, Politics.
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Tom DeLay. Guilty of felony crimes, punishable by time in prison.

He didn’t rob a bank, assault a neighbor, abuse a child. He saw a law he didn’t like, determined he would find a way to do what it outlawed and — in complete contempt of the rule of law and of We the People who put it in place — used his position of public trust to twist the democratic system to favor himself and his followers. He subverted the system we hold dear.

Oh he did that in a relatively small way. And maybe the money he manipulated unlawfully made no difference in the voting. Maybe his cause and the people fighting for it are angels sent to do just that. Not mine to judge all that.

But he broke the law, intentionally. And that is NOT politics as usual. That is a shard in a scrap heap of immorality, injustice and base corruption of souls that permeates our nation’s capital to this day, deeply encrusts our capital markets and commerce and eats away a little more each day at the greatness of our democratic experiment.

Deficits are a problem. Unemployment and slow growth are a problem. Costly inefficient healthcare is a problem. Unproductive and violent citizens are a problem.

But fixing the moral mess must be Job 1. Because if we do not address the lawlessness — the fraud, the theft, the arrogant abuse of position — nothing lasting and just can be done with anything we tackle no matter how earnest our efforts are. The rot will eat away at those fixes also, in time.

A lot of this involves long and expensive investigations, prosecutions and pursuit of appeals to make the point again and again in realm after realm that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to live, to earn, to govern. And there are real and somewhat immediate consequences for breaking the law. Without this type of deterrence, justice will submit to power and liberty is at risk.

But a lot of this falls to us, also. We cannot abide people who act in this manner, who scoff at laws and make their own rules. Not when they hold an opposite political view — and most importantly not when they share our view and seek to carry a banner we follow.

No manner how smooth, no matter how glib, no matter how gifted they seem, if their soul is thusly corrupted by arrogance, pride and lust for power, they must be cast aside. For within our ranks — Red, Blue or in that vast sea in between — there are far better hands for the task, far better tunics to pin our hopes upon.

We must just say ‘no’ to the dishonest ones, if we are to fix what needs fixing.

Two men laying bricks to build … something November 21, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Musings.
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Both of these guys — Apple Steve Jobs and News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch — can make you flinch often with their ego and their controlling approaches. But they have one thing in common that bears considerable study as we all move forward: They lead.

This venture they seem to be proposing does not appear all that radical in its design, though it does funnel distribution through a narrow needle, and of course opens up another potentially large information pipeline to the Murdoch empire — and philosophy.

But there is plenty of room for competition in this too.  Maybe.

The lesson, I think, is far more valuable than concerns about monopoly power or propaganda. And it is a simple matter of men with an idea taking considerable riches and putting them on the line to build something to meet what they see as a need in the marketplace, perhaps hedging the bet a tad with smartness to help create the need with buzz.

It’s a TV model: Here’s what we say is the “news” today, all packaged and buffed and piped to a predominantly passive audience, one that isn’t going to be floating all over the ether browsing. A loyal, measurable audience that can be sold to advertisers now pulling their hair out trying to line up with media with an audience that doesn’t change in the blink of an eye.

Many mega-rich folks out there are sitting on their pile, waiting for someone to point the way to a safe place with a high margin and no downside. They’ll do OK and I guess we need that also.

But we badly need people willing to point the way, hack through the first layer of brush and plant the flag in new territory.

Not just in media. In every realm. Because most of the old streams, mines and deep formations are played out, and new market share comes from someone else’s piece, not from growth.

This isn’t a government thing. Government and make this easier maybe, or harder maybe. And our elected officials need to work real hard to make sure the balance is properly tipped to the former.

But without this kind of vision focused on cultivation rather than on harvest, it does not happen. Stagnation happens.

Serious business for the infantile November 20, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Greed, Politics, U.S. Budget, Wall Street.
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Exactly when did these two guys — Simpson in particular — become the ultimate in Wise Men?

And from this piece, there seems to be a whole lot of chortling going on over the potential ruination of the U.S. economy if their particular strategy for reducing the deficit — and radically overhauling the entire tax code with little assessment of impact — is not swallowed pretty much whole. Get this:

“I can’t wait for the bloodbath in April,” Simpson said, relishing the prospect of political turmoil. “When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ‘em a piece of meat, real meat” in the form of spending cuts. “And boy, the bloodbath will be extraordinary,” he said.

Extraordinary indeed. It’s all a game to him too — the graying, dottering Fox can’t wait for the Hen House to catch fire.

Shameful.