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Saturday, October 31, 2015

The sabotage of the New Deal

How con artists corrupted the New Deal Part I

Continued review of James Galbraith's "The Predator State"

At the end of Chapter 8, "What the Rise in Inequality is Really About"; in his book "The Predator State" James Galbraith notes that:

"public policy"..."can create oligarchs", but also that it can "destroy them." [inequality-and-oligarchy.html]

Friday, October 30, 2015

Innocence is no reason to stay the noose

Today was a report in Slate about corrupt crime labs which reminded me that one of the lousiest Supreme Court decisions I've seen in recent years which was Herrera Versus Collins.

Dookhan & Farak Frauds

Our System that is supposed to be about Justice is corrupt and inept (and thus unjust) when it allows evidence from sloppy crime labs to stand as reported in the slate article concerning the Dookhan scandal up in Boston:

"Over her nine-year career, Dookhan tested about 60,000 samples involved in roughly 34,000 criminal cases." [Slate]

This is pretty awful, but what is really galling is the comment in the slate article:

"despite the fact that there were between 20,000-40,000 so-called “Dookhan defendants” (depending on whether you accept the state’s numbers or the American Civil Liberties Union’s), fewer than 1,200 had filed for postconviction relief.*" [Slate]

Most of these defendants remain jailed because despite their tainted evidence, prosecutorial power is so strong that they fear prosecutorial retaliation!:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Taxing the right people for the right reasons

Can Unscrupulous Speculation be Solved with a Tax?

The Washington Post printed an article: "Poorer tenants fear being pushed out by planned Congress Heights complex"

"To build the project, the developer would have to raze four rent-controlled apartment buildings where residents already feel they are no longer welcome. The tenants are largely poor, elderly and live on fixed incomes. They said they believe they are being pushed out by two politically connected developers, who have failed to make improvements to the four apartment buildings even as many residents live in squalor."

Walter Rybeck, Silver Spring wrote:

"The Oct. 15 front-page article “Tenants in path of D.C. renewal” might instead have had the headline “Affordable housing remedy missing in action.” It told a sadly familiar tale: tenants in wretched dwellings unable to afford decent housing elsewhere, and slumlords given a green light to oust their tenants and proceed with lucrative real estate projects. This classic gentrification scenario cannot be fixed with housing subsidies or rules requiring developers to offer dwellings at below market rates, as many housing advocates urge. These approaches at best help a tiny portion of those in need."

In our modern "market" heresy the Bull of "markets" reigns supreme over common sense, common-wealth, common properties and our politicians. Admittedly one:

"...problem is high land costs — the sites that housing sits on."

High land costs aren't the only problem here. But it is a start. And as Rybeck notes:

"Officials and their advisers ignore the one tax that, unlike others, lowers the selling price of what is taxed: The more you tax the value of land, the lower its price. The less you tax it, the more its value rises, making housing unaffordable. Thus, shifting the property tax off the value of homes and apartments and onto the site value spurs slum upgrading and new housing at lower prices, as over a dozen Pennsylvania cities have demonstrated."

What he's talking about is a tax that ignores capital properties and home values and focused on the unearned value of property and taxes that. He's also right that:

"By modernizing its property tax, the District could lead the nation in easing the housing crunch."

But it won't do it by itself and simply changing the tax system may alleviate the problem, but won't eliminate it. Especially if it is sold as a tool for Development.

Getting it Right

By capital George meant:

"Capital is ... [that] part of wealth—that [is] devoted to aid production." and Capital is "wealth in the course of exchange." [Georges Definitions]

So the LVT tax was a means to get to unearned incomes and unearned rents. It wasn't meant as a tool for slum clearances, gentrification, or even "new housing at lower prices" -- it was meant to break the power of monopoly over land ownership. So, yes a LVT tax is a great idea -- but not by itself. Without tax reforms that exclude wage compensation and hit at unearned wealth -- it is a shadow of what George Had in mind. Indeed George called folks who advocated the LVT for the wrong reasons as "unsound followers." As long as taxes "fall on users of land as users, and ....add to the cost of production or increase prices" the tax solution is a Kludge and not what George Had in mind. Indeed the history of the Tax was that it was struck down by the Supreme Court as a Direct Tax and so George's followers started pushing it as a reform of the Real Estate tax, and when the 16th amendment was passed in 1913, they were already set in their ways.

A Right to A Decent Home

The other side of this is that home ownership should be a right - though not necessarily the right to a house or mansion, wages should be a right and wage compensation not taxed. This is something that American's have affirmed since the beginning of the country. And FDR put it in writing:

The benefits of a right to a home. Of "property in land," which includes tenants and renters. If tenants have a property right in their apartments, they'll take care of them themselves. Deny folks power over their own neighborhoods and this is what you get.

If home ownership were the right -- then the takings clause would apply to renters and tenants too. The District, or unscrupulous developers, or other authorities should not be able to take people's homes without compensating them -- with a new home. If one's home is a right they can't offer just money so that the person can move to another substandard neighborhood, they'd have to protect their right to home, livelihood, etc... And it would thus be more expensive to stiff people than to do right by them. Yes, if a person lost all their money or is a drug addict, and is poor as a result; a "home" doesn't have to be the mansion or a giant house they once lived in. But it also be a "Decent Home." It has to be a home that their wages can afford.

None of that will eliminate speculation. But certainly taxing unearned income, unearned rent, is a start at taking the smoke and gas out of the gasbags of repeated bubble swindles.

Sources and Further Reading

References to Rybeck
"Poorer tenants fear being pushed out by planned Congress Heights complex"
Walter Rybeck's Editorial: []
Georgist Definitions of Capital
Related Posts:

Friday, October 23, 2015

No Sushi for me

No Sushi for me.
It glows in the dark.
Cesium makes me sneeze
and iodine glows blue.
How can you live,
in Japan without Sushi?
They send ships to the end of the world,
because they can't fish in Japanese Seas.
It glows in the Dark too.
Is there something in the water?
Besides radioactivity?
Does this stuff make people crazy?
Or are they just mentally lazy?
It certainly does blow around the world on a breeze...
And their claims it is over are untrue.
No Sushi for me.
It glows in the dark.
Japan is committing Hari Kari
And taking us with them, too.

Note: no actual fish were killed to write this poem. And I haven't seen any fish literally glow in the dark, yet.

Christopher H. Holte, 10/23/2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Inequality and Oligarchy

James Galbraith's 2008 book "The Predator State", touches on so much I consider important, I've been writing in installments. In Chapter Seven he touches on inequality:
"What the Rise of Inequality is Really About"

Galbraith explains how accounting for inequality has two sides. On the one hand is the disenfranchisement of what the Occupy Group came to call "The 99%", and on the other hand is the emergence of a billionaire class and oligarchy, as those benefiting from repeated finance driven bubbles start flexing their political-economic muscle using their newfound wealth. He notes:

"The Rise in income inequality reflects something that happened to a very small group of reflects, ... the rise of a new class -- very small and unbelievably rich. It did not come from the labor market at all. It came instead from the [financial] capital market. Specifically, came from the stock market."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Who would you rather be?
Ahab or Queequeg?
King Midas or a Gold Statue?
Helen or Cassandra?
We sail this ship together,
with a demented crew,
on a futile mission,
chasing a lost whale.
Christopher H. Holte 10/20/2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Hillary and Jeb Bush's Donors are NOT the same

Hillary and Bush's donors compared

An examination of the Top 20 Donors to both Hillary and Jeb shows similarities but mostly differences. Their donors include Wall Street main-lights. For example Morgan Standley donated to both Hillary's campaign and Bush's campaign. But otherwise their donors represent a different base of rival oligarchs. Hollywood, entertainment and communications are strongly represented in Hillary's donation list and the Energy sector in Hillary's. All together, they are not supported by the same donors unless by 'the same donors' you mean one donor. So the argument that they are 'the same' is faulty propaganda, not truth. They are not the same

Jeb Bush/Hillary

Bush Contributor
Hillary Contributor
Morgan & Morgan
Neuberger Berman LLC
Sullivan & Cromwell
Yale University
Tenet Healthcare
Latham & Watkins
Rooney Holdings
Jeb 2016 (Employees)
Creative Artists Agency
Southern Strategy
Munger, Tolles & Olson
NextEra Energy
Dannenbaum Engineering
Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett
Hunt Companies
Centene Corp
Fidelity National Information Services
Manchester Financial Group
Paul, Weiss et al
Wilmerhale Llp
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Google Inc
Guggenheim Partners

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Reagan's subversion of the Four Freedoms

Sabotaging FDR's Four Freedoms

You wouldn't think that anyone would argue with FDR's Four Freedoms:

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Freedom of worship
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

But believe me they not only did, but they do. To the Right Wing wannabe oligarchs who gathered around Ronald Ronald Reagan, the "four Freedoms" were the enemy of their arbitrary power and their dreams of unmeasurable loot. Especially the last two. Rentiers depend on fear-mongering, war-mongering and keeping resources scarce, for their power. And oligarchs get and keep power by scaring people and providing scapegoats for that fear. A system that has equity may have it's wealthy and it's poor, but the poor have a decent life, and the rich aren't so rich. In my last post:

Have we become the society depicted in The book 1984?

A friend of mine and some folks from the Roosevelt Institute keep the ideals FDR expressed late in life alive. Because these freedoms need to be re-emphasized in our constitution. The first two of them are implicitly in the first Amendment. But we all know how adept corrupt legislators and judges are at subverting them, from their history. But the last two "freedoms" have not only not been in our constitution but have been a recurring fact of life for most people in this country, and around the world, for many years. The first two can be secured mostly by negative laws that say "Thou shalt not infringe on free speech" or "impose a religion on the country. But the last two require a commonwealth. They require a project. Because they require positive law. Roosevelt sought to implement them through his "Second Bill of Rights:"


Sabotaging the Four Freedoms

Who can argue with these either? These rights, though they are "positive rights" and thus require institutionalization, policies, programs, projects - to become reality -- Are important to implementing the Four Freedoms. Without them the rich get richer and the poor live lives of insecurity and privation. What is freedom without the resources to pursue happiness? What does it require for most people to do that? A decent living, access to health care, and some help when things go south. You'd think this would be obvious. But it's not. To the right the Second Bill of Rights evoked horror and anger. Secure people do things like growing their hair long or demonstrating against wars. The Right Wing Term for that was "permissiveness". Like all Righties "freedom" either is a 1984 newspeak term, or their own privileges, and not for the "hoi poi."

Reagan's subversion

For that reason the Right Wing searched and found a Hollywood actor, who having been a spokesman for New Deal Policies at one time, couldn't resist the honors, money and fame, promised him for becoming a spokesman for the right. Reagan was familiar with New Deal policies through and through. But he was recruited by millionaires to go after communists, paid handsome sums to speak for the wealthy and large businesses and with the initial excuse of being offended by the dishonesty and unpatriotic attitude of some folks on the left and made himself a willing tool of the right -- first in their efforts to shut up the left wing in Hollywood. He became, literally the face of the Right Wing. But he went beyond shutting down Communism, he took aim at his erstwhile colleagues in Hollywood, at the people he once served as a Union Organizer and at the New Deal he'd once spoken for eloquently. He used his silver tongued voice to subvert the New Deal

He wasn't just a puppet. On the contrary the things he articulated, in retrospect, seem the work of an evil genius. And he started by substituting his own list of Rights for the ones that FDR articulated. He had a convenient memory even before his Alzheimer's kicked in, but only someone sharp could have picked the following list of "freedoms" to oppose FDR's Four Freedoms:

His list was:

  1. The freedom to work.
  2. The freedom to enjoy the fruits of one's labor.
  3. The freedom to own and control one's property.
  4. The freedom to participate in a free market.

It is only when I begin picking away at them that the nastiness of them begins to to show. These display an intimate knowledge of the new deal and a degree of cynicism that is astounding. Everything in this list was designed to subvert Roosevelt's concept.

Incidently he started his political career attacking the notion of affordable education. For more on this read:

Privateering on Higher Education, Reagan's war on "permissiveness":

The Freedom to Work! Work Makes Free!

In German the expression "Work Makes Free" "Arbeit Macht Frei" was cynically posted over Auschwitz. Access to jobs and a decent pay makes people free. Work itself produces things, but unless there equity in control of the distribution of the resources of enterprises and industries, work doesn't make free, as folks laboring in Auschwitz found out. When Reagan visited the Nazi Cemetery in Bitburg in Germany, he had to know that history. This "freedom" formulation is as cynical as that of the Nazis.

And this "Freedom to Work" is in direct contravention to the first two of Roosevelt's "Second Bill of Rights" (the Right to a job and to a decent wage." It was a well thought out subversion.

They talked about "freedom" but their idea of freedom includes the choice to become enslaved to others. They were explicitly against notions such as Democracy, which they rebranded as "collectivism" or notions such as common good, which they huffed at with perfect Social Darwinian logic while trying to ban the teaching of Charles Darwin's theories. So to the ideological and elitist far right defeating "communism" was as much about restoring the proper place of economic royalty, ending "permissiveness" and protecting unearned wealth - as about stopping the spread of communism. So Reagan did a masterful job:

Thus the very first of Reagan's Four Freedoms is aimed at replacing the security from want or fear, with the insecurity of a system that forces people to compete with each other.

Right to Work Laws

And the "Right to Work" gives some kind of sense to "right to [not] work laws." Right to work laws are aimed at preventing people from forming Unions, making people free to free ride on any Unions that do exist while opting out of paying dues, and "At Will employment". Going along with that is the complete impunity of companies to "outsource" to either outside the United States or to "contractors" who can often skirt any laws or regulations aimed at large enterprises. "Right to Work" laws and "at will employment" end any pretense of workplace democracy. Again without security in employment and pay, "right to work" is the opposite of any kind of security, freedom from fear or want.

Freedom to enjoy the Fruits of [other's] labor

Similarly the "freedom to enjoy the fruits of one's labor, equally cynically means that working people are intended to enjoy their minimal labor compensation for their energy expenditures and the wear and tear on their bodies. And wealth/Capitalist the rest. Without workplace democracy, consent of the managed or the right to bargain employers get to enjoy the fruits of their employees labor and to drive wages down to subsistence levels. For a time our country masked this trend with a push to let workers borrow money, which eventually at compound interest, means complete slavery. For the Far Right this was a slogan, never truly even intended to be paid attention, even by those uttering it.

Piketty's book "Capital" pretty much divides Production into Capital, and Labor compensation, with the bulk of compensation going to Capital and Capital pretty much synonymous with Wealth.

The Right to Own Land and People

The right to own and control one's property was often sold as an "ownership society." But for most of the laws used to implement the notion, the notion didn't apply to everybody. An ownership society that includes the right to own someone's labor, to extract rents from property and to own property absolutely, means a right for the few over the many. "Every man should have the right to do as one pleases with one's own property." And "Every man who owns a castle should have the right to be King." And every man who can't should, rightly be a serf with the perfect freedom to choose between serving his (or her) master and suffering prison, starvation or homelessness. In a commonwealth such kings are forced to deal with a parliament. For the RW that claim that is "socialism." Between abusive labor laws and abusive lending, our "capitalists"/"wealthy" now own something like 80% of the property in the country.

The Freedom to Shop

And of course with the ability to mortgage everything and borrow on personal credit at usurious levels, the freedom to participate in the market meant the freedom for owners to buy and sell people's lives and the "right to shop" for those not yet maxed out on their credit limit or evicted from their homes. As James Galbraith explains in his book "The Predator State", Market Freedom is about the "Freedom to choose" for those who have choice, but not for everyone!

And as people max out credit cards, are not allowed to use bankruptcy to get out of debts, lose their homes and find themselves with Job insecurity, the "Freedom to Shop" becomes a cruel joke, even for those who still can find enough unused credit to buy things.

The Market Trope as Idolatry

Indeed markets became the "God" of many cons, at least in their propaganda. Thus many cons claim to be both Christians and anti evolution – which comes from Charles Darwin – while preaching Social Darwinism. These people worship the Bull of the Market in a way that would have pleased ancient Minoans or Canaanites.

Work Will make you Free

This convenient attitude towards freedom was accompanied by some very unrealistic notions of Markets. Market Democracy? Can that even be real? Freedom of Choice? Sounds good, but it implies a freedom to become a slave based on bad choices. Absolute right of property -- does that include owning people? Does that mean that those who lose out the property game of music chairs have no rights? Conservatives talk about freedom, but their ideas usually involve religious views that they want to impose on people too, so that and

....Their desire to "protect" "Property" from the 99% also means that they could be so happy about the outcomes of brutal regimes such as that of Pinochet, or machiavellian machinations and warfare if it worked to achieve their ends. To the Right the funding of dirty wars against ordinary folks and social activists through selling illegal arms and drugs was a case of the ends justifies the means.


Thus Reagan's Four Freedoms was a set of banners, talking points, tropes, propaganda that worked well to subvert the ideals and doctrines of the progressive movement. It helped them replace FDR with Reagan as the 20th centuries hero.

Tropes are truisms and these are tropes that were cynically offered as recruitment to a "hierarchy enhancing ideology" by folks who live off of rents and arbitrage between production and labor. There were some truths, but on the whole it all was a con

Indeed we'll see that Reagan's revolution and the ideas of Neo-Liberalism and pseudo-conservatism are Zombie ideas with faulty premises, fail when applied, and faulty logic. Yet, we can't seem to kill them. Even when we shoot them in the head. Super Zombies.

Second Bill of Rights
The Infamous Sign over Auschwitz
Reagan's Four Freedoms
Have we become the society depicted in The book 1984?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Have we become the society depicted in The book 1984?

I was reading Bill Moyer's article "Iraq and Afghanistan Have Officially Become Vietnam 2.0 from October 14, 2015, by Andrew Bacevich" [] when it hit me. This sounds familiar.

Like 1984.

So I decided to get out my Hitler Avatar and do a little digging for his latest poster.

Suggest people read his article and then read the excerpt from 1984 at Old Uncle Dave Blog called "Orwell on Eternal War" []

Chilling, and it invites the question. Are these people trying to hold us all down by keeping us at eternal war?

If so, the trouble with that strategy, is that it in the long run is a loser for everyone, including the top of the hierarchies that use that strategy to keep other's down. Like the rival governments in "1984" they vacation together. But unlike them, we still have the means to sweep them away.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The arrival of the ship wrecked Sailor

Thoughts for Columbus Day

Commerce around the world easily pre-dates Columbus. That we don't have much in written records doesn't mean that the archeological and genetic record doesn't show that we humans have used the oceans for commerce a lot longer than since 1492. Humans have been traveling all over the world for centuries. Siberian people's peopled the Americas, People started in Africa and then migrated to Eurasia, and then vice versa. Anyone who thinks that all this travel is one way is engaging in borderline thinking.

My own theory is that many of these trips were one way due to a combination of technological limits and human limits. For example the similarity of some South American pottery and Japanese pottery of similar period, may well owe to sailors using pacific currents to catch fish and winding up in South America. The Toltecs could be evidence of two way trade routes with Africa. And who knows, people may have crossed from the Americas to Europe and Africa in one direction and across the pacific -- long before Europeans went there in their tall ships. Thor Heyerdahl postulated that some of the people in Easter Island immigrated from the Americas -- and that others wandered in from Polynesia. Humans are remarkable. The book cited below describes how the British and other Atlantic Islands may hae been home to "Finns" who used technology similar to the Eskimos as well as other skin covered boats. He also suggested that such sailors could swim, and wore suits made of Sealskin. Such suits would have been remarkable clothing, like modern wetsuits. Certainly there were "Finns" among the Vikings. Whether they came from East or West might have been immaterial. We know that the ancients of the bronze age, got their copper and tin from Islands. Certainly the "Cassiterides", maybe the Scilly Islands too.

Who Knows? There might have been two way trade in those "dark ages." Columbus didn't discover the New World, he publicized new trade routes and stuck "For Sale by New Owner" signs on their Shores. Maybe he was looking for a place to bring friends and business partners to escape his motherland; as the day he left Spain was also Tisha B'av, and the day that Queen Isabella and Ferdinand had expelled Jews from Spain. In a way all immigrants are shipwrecked sailors. They stay, sometimes because they see opportunity, but always because they see no way home.

Wanted to write this down for future reference.

Further Reading

The Testimony of Tradition

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Disambiguating Capital from Simple Wealth

To the modern wealthy, as Piketty notes, [See Capital Versus Unearned Wealth] all wealth that is not paid in labor compensation is Capital. Effectively, and in modern Newspeak this is true. But the reality is that Actual Capital as a moral and effective mover of general prosperity is not synonymous with all wealth. This conflation of arrogated wealth in the hands of an elite and actual capital is...

The Verbal Sleight of hand of the Supply Side movement

We live in circles.
Closer and farther,
tangled and mangled
The family is a circle we can't break,
tied by heart-strings that stretch and shake, and thin
Our hearts will break before they do.
Ties of love and affection do not go away,
though the strings may rot and stretch,
They can stretch so thin, they become invisible
and tracking them down is impossible.
But they never really are gone.
And when we've cared for someone
We know because part of them lives on,
no matter how far they go.
Inner circles and outer circles.
Are fences to keep our hearts within;
Because the ties don't break,
though they stretch and shake, they thin
Sadly, our hearts do break,
and a piece breaks off with them.

Christopher Hartly Holte, 10/11/2015

Rest of Images:

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Predator State - Review of James Galbraith's book

Review of Galbraith's Book on the "Predatory State" (part one)

In the book "The Predator State" James Galbraith shows the history; genesis, development and fashion shifts in the governing ideology and moraes of our political economy. more immediate. He's showing how we are a Predator State, and how Tory "Con" economics is warping our economy.

{This is going to take several posts.}

The Newspeak of the Reagan Revolution

When James Galbraith (following in the footsteps of J.K. Galbraith) writes on economics and it's ills, he's describing the results of a predator state ideology that has it's roots in Empires dating back to the Classical period, but is heavily influenced by what can be called "Tory Economics". James Galbraith has explicitly written on the subject of the "Predator State" and calls one of his books by that name.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Not So Innocent Frauds

A Review of J. K. Galbraith's book "The Economics of Innocent Fraud"

Reading this book by John Kenneth Galbraith is like hearing someone preaching to a choir. In this book about not so "innocent Frauds", Galbraith identifies pretty much most of the shibboleths of the 20th century and tags them as the frauds they were.

While some of the frauds he identifies were identified as frauds before he was born, even so the man deserves a lion's share of credit for the entire 20th century and he fought a rear guard action against those frauds when they were first offered up as "fine new clothe that only a fool can't see how valuable it is". He's actually kind to the Reagan Revolution. He calls what to me were diabolical and almost violent frauds. But by "innocent" Galbraith is referring to the fact that most of the believers in these frauds don't know they've been conned.

Definition of Innocent Fraud

"Most progenitors of innocent fraud are not deliberately in its service. They are unaware of how their views are shaped, how they are had. No clear legal question is involved. Response comes not from violation of law but from personal and social belief. There is no sense of guilt. More likely there is self approval."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fixing our Banking System and Fixing infrastructure are tied


The following Youtube article explains the distinction between "Greenbacks" and "Federal Reserve Notes" fairly clearly. One is money notes issued through the privateering banking system. The other are notes issued without interest. What we did during the Civil War points to a way forward for our country.

More on this later

Related to:>