Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election?

Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election?

Courtesy of Robert Reich

This, from the Washington Post’s conservative pundit George Will:

Total spending by parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups concerning every office from county clerks to U.S. senators may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt, but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons. Proctor & Gamble spent $8.6 billion on advertising in its last fiscal year.

Those who are determined to reduce the quantity of political speech to what they consider the proper amount are the sort of people who know exactly how much water should come through our shower heads — no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, as stipulated by a 1992 law. Is it, however, worrisome that Americans spend on political advocacy — determining who should make and administer the laws — much less than they spend on potato chips, $7.1 billion a year?

In a word, Mr. Will, yes.

The number of dollars spent isn’t the issue; it’s the lopsidedness of where the dollars come from. Even if the total were only $1000, democracy would be endangered if $980 came from large corporations and wealthy individuals. The trend is clear and worrisome: The great bulk of campaign money is coming from a narrower and narrower circle of moneyed interests.

Anyone who doubts the corrupting effect has not been paying attention. Our elected representatives have been acutely sensitive to the needs of Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund managers, and the executives of big pharma, big oil, and the largest health insurance companies. This is not because these individuals and interests are particularly worthy or specially deserving. It is because they are effectively bribing elected officials with their donations. Such donations are not made out of charitable impulse. They are calculated investments no less carefully considered than investments in particular shares of stock. They are shares in our democracy.

Why $4.2 billion and not ten times that amount? Because the high-rolling political investors don’t need to spend a dollar more in order to exert overwhelming influence.

This figure, by the way, leaves out the tens of billions of dollars dedicated to lobbying, lawyering, and public relations — all of which deliver specific legislative outcomes the campaign money fuels. The economy of Washington, D.C. depends on this gigantic flow of funds (supporting…
continue reading


Tags: , , , , , , , ,




Concentration of Wealth is Destroying Democracy

In this excellent essay, George Washington II concludes that America is no longer a nation governed by the rule of law.  Might this be why the stock market rally over the past year has been labeled by some as the "most hated rally"? – Ilene 

Concentration of Wealth is Destroying Democracy

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog

As I wrote in 2008:

The economy is like a poker game … it is human nature to want to get all of the chips, but noted that – if one person does get all of the chips – the game ends.

In other words, the game of capitalism only continues as long as everyone has some money to play with. If the government and corporations take everyone’s money, the game ends.

The fed and Treasury are not giving more chips to those who need them: the American consumer. Instead, they are giving chips to the 800-pound gorillas at the poker table, such as Wall Street investment banks. Indeed, a good chunk of the money used by surviving mammoth players to buy the failing behemoths actually comes from the Fed. 

No wonder billionaire George Soros says that the way US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was handling the situation was "very reminiscent of the way the central bankers talked in the 1930s", the time of the Great Depression.

And no wonder Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz stresses putting poker chips back in the hands of the little guy …

This is not a question of big government versus small government, or republican versus democrat. It is not even a question of Keynes versus Friedman (two influential, competing economic thinkers).

It is a question of focusing any government funding which is made to the majority of poker players – instead of the titans of finance – so that the game can continue. If the hundreds of billions or trillions spent on bailouts had instead been given to ease the burden of consumers, we would have already recovered from the financial crisis.

As FDR’s Fed chairman Marriner S. Eccles explained:

As in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.

As I pointed out last August, and again …
continue reading


Tags: , , , ,




The Grand Chinese Fraud

Here’s Karl Denninger on China,…

The Grand Chinese Fraud

Wen JaibaoWen "cats in the kettle" Jaibao spouted:

“I don’t think the renminbi is undervalued,” Wen said yesterday at a press conference in Beijing marking the end of China’s annual parliamentary meetings, using another term for the yuan. “We oppose countries pointing fingers at each other and even forcing a country to appreciate its currency.”

Oh really?

It’s time that we stop the the BS here with regard to China.

The entire premise of so-called "Free Trade" with the Chinese was predicated on the belief that if we opened our borders to their products on a "no tariff" basis that we would, over time, change their political system.  That is, we would import cheap Chinese plastic junk and export democracy.  More or less.

Well, we got all the cheap DVD players but they didn’t get any democracy.  Quite to the contrary.  There have been no meaningful improvements in areas of environmental protection, workers rights and wages or political freedom.  Indeed, the recent dust-up with Google just underlines the reality in China:Their government is a band of murderous brigands and thugs.

Disagree with them inside their nation, refuse to censor The Internet, for example, so that people can’t read about Falun Gong and China will be happy to arrest the executives of your firm inside the nation and provide this as "corrective influence" to your head:

Oh, they send the 50 cent bill for it to your family too.  Isn’t that special?

At least in this country they don’t shoot people for talking about the evil-doing that both private parties and government…
continue reading


Tags: , , , ,




Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

Courtesy of Robert Reich

Political Conference

I wish conservatives would stop complaining about big government and start worrying about the real problem – small democracy. I wish we’d all worry more about our incredible shrinking democracy.

It seems as if more and more decisions that should be made democratically are being shunted off somewhere to a few people who make them in back rooms. Which programs should be cut, which entitlements pared back, and what taxes raised in order to reduce the long-term budget deficit? Hmmm. Let’s convene a commission and have them decide.

Commissions are a default mechanism when politicians want to hand off difficult issues to “experts.” But reducing the long-term budget deficit has almost nothing to do with expertise. It’s about our nations’ values and priorities. Nothing could be more central to the democratic process.

Democracy requires at least three things: (1) Important decisions are made in the open. (2) The public and its representatives have an opportunity to debate them, so the decisions can be revised in light of what the public discovers and wants. And (3) those who make the big decisions are accountable to voters.

But these principles are in retreat, and I say this not just because of the proposed deficit commission.

The notorious Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) began with a virtual blank check from Congress. Treasury officials then secretly decided which companies were to receive hundreds of billions of dollars. Why these particular entities were chosen and not others remains a mystery. For months, the Treasury didn’t even disclose the identities of the major banks that giant insurer AIG repaid with its bailout money – 100 cents on each dollar AIG owed them.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has gone far beyond its traditional role of setting short-term interest rates. It has bought up massive amounts of debt – mortgage debt, Treasury bills, and debt instruments emanating several public agencies, many of them supporting a wide range of private entities. No one outside the Fed knows the ultimate beneficiaries of all this government backing, the criteria used by the Fed for making these commitments, or even how much debt the Fed is buying.

Even if the economic emergency justified such secrecy – and it’s hard to see exactly why it would – the emergency is over, and yet closed-door decision making…
continue reading


Tags: , , ,




 
 
 

Phil's Favorites

Ending the pandemic will take global access to COVID-19 treatment and vaccines - which means putting ethics before profits

 

Ending the pandemic will take global access to COVID-19 treatment and vaccines – which means putting ethics before profits

Indian health workers doing health checks in Mumbai, June 17, 2020. AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File

Courtesy of Nicole Hassoun, Binghamton University, State University of New York

As COVID-19 surges in the United States and worldwide, even the richest and best insured Americans understand, possibly for the first time, what it’s like not to have the medicines ...



more from Ilene

Biotech/COVID-19

Ending the pandemic will take global access to COVID-19 treatment and vaccines - which means putting ethics before profits

 

Ending the pandemic will take global access to COVID-19 treatment and vaccines – which means putting ethics before profits

Indian health workers doing health checks in Mumbai, June 17, 2020. AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File

Courtesy of Nicole Hassoun, Binghamton University, State University of New York

As COVID-19 surges in the United States and worldwide, even the richest and best insured Americans understand, possibly for the first time, what it’s like not to have the medicines ...



more from Biotech/COVID-19

Kimble Charting Solutions

Is the Nasdaq 100's Out-Performance Nearing a Top?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Is the latest ramp higher and Large-cap tech stocks have been the clear market leader, out-performing the broad market for months.

In today’s chart, we look at the Nasdaq 100 to S&P 500 performance ratio in an effort to answer the question: Is the ramp higher in tech stocks and severe out-performance sustainable?

While we may not be able to answer that question today, the ratio IS at an inflection point. And following today’s ratio chart should help us answer that question.

As a reminder, the ratio rises when the Nasdaq 100 is out-performing the S&P 500. Note also that it is a longer-term “monthly” price chart.

Important Br...

more from Kimble C.S.

Zero Hedge

Homebuilder Optimism Explodes Higher As Mortgage Rates Plunge To Record Lows

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

US Homebuilders’ Confidence index soared higher in July (to 72 from 58 last month), back to March (pre-COVID) levels.

  • Measure of present single family sales rises to 79 vs 63 last month

  • Future single family sales gauge rises to 75 vs 68 last month

  • Prospective buyers traffic measure rises to 58 vs 43 last month

...

more from Tyler

ValueWalk

Whitney Tilson Is Bullish On Bank Stocks

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors disucssing him being bullish on bank stocks; the bear case; Doug Kass with the bull case.

Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Earnings Season For The Big Banks

1) It's earnings season for the big banks this week.

Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and Wells Fargo (WFC) reported this morning... Goldman Sachs (GS) is up tomorrow... and Bank of America (BAC) and Morgan Stanley (MS) round things out on Thursday.

The sector has been decimated this year. The Invesco KBW Bank Fund (KBWB) is down 35% year to date, vast...



more from ValueWalk

Digital Currencies

Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bloomberg, Kanye, Apple Twitter Accounts All Hacked In "Nigerian" Bitcoin Scam, Over $100,000 Stolen In Minutes

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

The twitter accounts of two of the world's richest men, Bill Gates and Elon Musk (and perhaps others) were hacked late on Wednesday, in what appears to be a version of a "Nigerian" bitcoin scam.

At 440pm ET, Musk tweeted the following:

Microsoft founder Bill Gates had a similar tweet.

As did Jeff Bezos:

...



more from Bitcoin

The Technical Traders

Second Phase Real Estate Collapse Pending

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Real estate, especially commercial real estate, is likely to be the first segment of the real estate market to enter the second phase of an extended collapse.  The COVID-19 virus has created an atmosphere where continuing operations for retail, restaurants, and many other business segments is virtually impossible to maintain.  Without the ability to earn sufficient income, thousands of restaurants and other retail businesses have already closed or are in the process of closing.  This has pushed the commercial real estate market into turmoil.  We believe the residential real estate market will follow the commercial market because consumers are going to suffer as commercial real estate collapses....



more from Tech. Traders

Chart School

Dow 2020 Crash Watch - Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Like 1929 the markets have bounced. This time it is on the back of the FED $6.5T money printing.

Previous Post: Dow 2020 Crash Watch 

But can the FED blow $6T every time the market rolls down to test support.

Yes, maybe before the US 2020 elections the FED will do 'what it takes'. But post elections not so much, the year 2021 is a long way from the next election (presidential or congress) and defense of the markets may not be so supportive at $6T or $10T per market smash. The FED may hesitate, and that will be window for stocks to break lower.

The 36 month simple moving a...

more from Chart School

Lee's Free Thinking

These Charts Show COVID 19 Is Spreading in the US and Will Kill the Economy

 

These Charts Show COVID 19 Is Spreading in the US and Will Kill the Economy

Courtesy of  

The COVID 19 pandemic is, predictably, worsening again in much of the US. Only the Northeast, and to a lesser extent some Midwestern states, have been consistently improving. And that trend could also reverse as those states fully reopen.

The problem in the US seems to be widespread public resistance to recommended practices of social distancing and mask wearing. In countries where these practices have been practi...



more from Lee

Members' Corner

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

 

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Courtesy of John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge; Stephan Lewandowsky...



more from Our Members

Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

http://www.insidercow.com/ more from Insider

Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

...

more from Promotions

Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

more from M.T.M.





About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

Learn more About Phil >>


As Seen On:




About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.