My Blog List

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Economic, Democratic Subsidiarity and local democracy

Greece in 2015, Puerto Rico Now, What to do?

Almost a year ago I blogged a series on the Eurozone and what was happening to the Greeks and what that means for us:

"The privateers give a Broadside to the Greeks",
Privateering through Banks and the EuroZone and
Going Greek on the Whole World
And I showed that neo-liberalism is not Bill Clinton, us Democrats and Company. It is our Republican movement:
Neoliberalism versus Economic Policy that Really works

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I want Unicorns

I want Unicorns, I said!
They gave me donkey's instead!
I must have Unicorns!
Donkeys are no fun!
Unicorns smell nice,
They dance above reality
and fly up into the clouds!
Donkeys stink. They get dirty totally
And you have to shovel up behind them!
Give me Unicorns instead!
 
I want unicorns!
Reality is smelly and messy!
People have to work together
and clean up each other's messes!
We have to fight real enemies
Who think they are Elephant's
Or Ganesh taken form on Earth!
I want Unicorns!
I don't want to have to convince anyone!
Do what I say or I'll walk away!
Darn Donkeys need a carrot,
Or they won't walk my way!
 
Christopher H. Holte, watching the Berners, 7/26/2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

Two Strategies

Good Bye Representative Schultz:

I imagine you have mixed feelings about your role as Democratic National Chair. On the one hand, you've been trashed and subject to contradictory expectations. At the same time the job you've been doing as Chair was one of two full time jobs with built in conflict of interests between doing both excellently at the same time. You are also a Representative from Florida. The DNC chair should go to someone not holding a current elective office. One of your jobs is protecting the competitiveness and integrity of Democratic primaries. That means making sure that the party is not an "incumbent protection machine." As an incumbent your wearing those two particular hats looked bad all along.

Nevertheless, Up until the 2014 election I made donations to the DNC when I had the funds, and supported you 100%. After the election I with-held support for you. I think you could have done more to vigorously elect a house and senate for Obama. And you did things that didn't help him.

There are two DNC strategies. One involves trying to use scientific calculations to pick which folks are going to win and support them; while writing off "losers." The other involves using a different kind of strategy, long term propaganda and is known as the 50 state strategy.

You gave lip service to the 50 state strategy while pursuing the "invest where one is most likely to succeed" strategy. I thought that was and is counterproductive as we humans are fickle and if we write off populations we guarantee losses. But we can never guarantee wins. So the long term strategy will get us solid majorities and the short term thinking so prevalent now will guarantee us minority status.

I also didn't like the way you took your time with some IT projects and similar. Those also are related to the 50 state strategy. So I'm glad you are stepping down and wish you'd done so on Nov 10 2014.

Your conflictive relationship with the Bernie campaign just illustrates the feckless way you've done your job at times. In some areas you've done well. But you didn't seem to even get the importance of managing party functions in a way that brings people in, give an appearance of openness, and let us Democrats have a say in how our party is run. I don't agree with the Bernie campaign's efforts to make our primaries open, but we do need to improve our primary process and make our party more open to participation.

Open primaries as Bernie envisions them would just lead to mischief from Libertarians, Republicans, the far left and big money. Democracy is in participation. Not simply the forms. And our role as democrats isn't only to vote for you and send you money. This is our party too. This is also how we defeat the corrupt Citizens United Decision. If the party provides a neutral vehicle for candidate selection and a powerful tool for the general election, we can't be beat. That tool is two way communication and quality reporting. It can be provided by volunteers if the party provides the resources.

We win elections when we have consensus. And we get consensus by getting involved. So I can't blame you for the Bernie-bots or Russian infiltration of our system. But we can do much better! We need a two way system and more participation. We get that through involving people in the internal operations of the party, by electronic voting and polling. We don't get there by being treated as subjects.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Northern Summers

In the far north summers
are sweet and intense
They come on too fast
and leave even quicker
But what a glorious time they are!
 
If you don't mind mosquitoes and midges
You can grow things if the soil will melt.
Flowers and sedges,
tundra up north,
and forested taiga down south
Green everywhere, so brief, so delicate!
 
And then winter will return,
sometimes suddenly in a day.
Summer is short, it never will last.
But it leaves a sweet taste anyway.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Paranoid Left's Insane Demonology

I never could figure out why my leftie friends were so anti-Hillary and so anti-Democratic until I started really listening with my mind, and not just my heart, to what they were saying. Then one day I figured it out! They think we are possessed by demons! They are as fictional, demagogic and delusional as the Right wing! They sound like the preacher in a tent revival! You can see the exaggerated and strident rhetoric on display right now as Bernie endorses Hillary and the "Busters"/far lefties, start bashing him just as they turned on Elizabeth Warren and most of the Democratic "establishment" during this election cycle.

Christopher Hedges is the ???Best??? example of this. He wrote in Truthdig back in February:

"The Democrats, like the Republicans, have no interest in genuine reform. They are wedded to corporate power." [Truthdig]

If he said "some Democrats" or "some of the Democratic leadership", or similar I probably would have agreed with him. I probably read this article around then and didn't take it too seriously because of my partial agreement. But this was around the time I was experiencing the "Bernie or Bust phenomena" and starting to realize I was dealing with something broader than simple "Hillary derangement Syndrome", which I'd often seen on the right but hadn't experienced much on the left. Naivety I suppose.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Getting Punished for Doing the right thing.

On October 31st 1990 this article appeared in the Washington Post about Brunswick Maryland:

"Voters in this former railroad town on the Potomac River ousted their mayor today in what was apparently the first-ever successful recall election in the state's history." [WashPost]

The Mayor was Susan V. Fauntleroy. What was she recalled for? The report says she was attacked for:

"increased spending and water rates that skyrocketed under an effort to modernize an antiquated system." [WashPost]

What she had done was to fix Brunswick's water supply and sewage system. She also had committed the crime of being a woman who was a "relative newcomer:"

"Fauntleroy, who had attributed the recall move to her sex and her status as a relative newcomer, said in the statement she had prepared in case of defeat that she was sorry that "prejudice has arisen in Brunswick and that it has overcome, for now, the progress of good government. I regret that I will no longer be involved in charting the future of our town."

I guess no good deed goes unpunished.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A modern Sailor's Benediction

May the wind be at your back,
and all your navigation equipment working fine.
May you arrive with the tide
And leave as it goes out.
May the waves breaking outside the channel
leave your boat alone
And may there be a fine woman,
waiting in the port for you to come home.
Christopher H. Holte, 7/10/2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

Render Unto Caesar what is Caesar's

Ultimately all taxes come out of exchange and production mediated by exchange of tokens. Income comes from receiving those tokens. Taxes and rents compete for the same pool of surplus value because people charge rents on the properties they control, in the form of those same tokens. If they have surplus tokens they rent the tokens to others and that is a form of rent on money we give the name "interest." Government, rentiers, businessmen and bankers all compete for those tokens called "money." It either comes out of folks surplus income (like shearing a sheep in the springtime) or it is hacked out of their "arms and legs."

We call it Money but you can't eat money.

We call those tokens "money." At one time the wealthy required them to be of Gold or Silver, and people fought over them. Ships set sail out of Europe hunting Gold or silver. Indeed the indigenous were so impressed by the "gold hungry" behavior of European Explorers here in the Americas that they sometimes punished particularly ruthless and greedy "explorers" ("Conquistadors) by feeding them molten Gold. You can't eat Gold. But Gold tokens, money, can be exchanged for a lot of things, rented to others, or paid out to pay taxes or debt.

Money doesn't have to be Gold or Silver. The powerful Roman Empire made money of Bronze, and as long as the Roman Empire controlled it's markets and economy, that money was remarkably valuable. The Roman Empire's bust was usually on that money. And when Jesus reportedly said "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" and "unto what is God what is God's" he was making both an exegetical point referring to Mosaic law about donations to the Temple and a political economic statement. The money belongs to the Government. Not God. Not the Temple. Not the Church. Or the money changers. It's got the Emperor's face on it. In modern times it usually has some more abstract image, but the point hasn't changed. Fiat Money is rightly issued by and comes from the Government. Bitcoin sounds kewl. But I don't trust privateering money and I think it's a scam. Bitcoin as something the treasury controls is fine.

Jesus was fine with folks taking their money to make donations to the Temple. He also was fine with folks recognizing we are interdependent and that the tokens we call "money" come from functional government.

Privateers and Bankers

When money originates privately or falls into private hands that is private money. Private money is usually less secure than that produced by Governments. But when private persons become Government they are either privateers or once it becomes official, nobility. Private money is governed by private individuals and gangs. When it is governed unjustly (for private separate advantage) then the private governance is simply privateering. J.P. Morgan and other famous bankers from the 19th century were quite proud of their relationship to the "Sea Dogs" and conquistadors of past generations. Modern Privateering is perfectly legal and they can wear Armani Suits and not need peg legs or eye patches.

Usurpation of a Public Good by Privateers

Private money rapidly becomes the usurpation of a public good by private individuals, when it is not regulated or taxed. When folks have surplus tokens or commodities that can serve as money, they tend to loan them out and live on the charges for renting them or the properties they buy with them. When they do that money becomes the property of the "money men" and they essentially become the legislature, executive and judges of those tokens; again privateers. They become private government, for private separate gain and the artificial scarcity of tokens hurts those not in the privateers clubs. The term is "rent seeking" and the privilege of living on rents is one that is granted by governments through corrupt courts and legislatures - or simply an artifact of being the first to arrive at a formerly vacant or recently conquered property.

If people can't get their tokens without paying massive rents, then some people an live on the unearned tokens they possess. While others finding out they increasingly don't own anything. In the past common folks would wind up enslaved when those controlling the tokens found they could control the availability of the commodities everyone else needed to survive. The bible recounts how Joseph was able to enslave both Egyptians and his brother Hebrews by controlling access to surplus food.

The Tokens belong to the Community

Thus there is real value to those tokens. When valued properly they provide a universal markup or accounting for the relative value of things people need. Of course, if there were no material goods and services to exchange then taxes come out of hoarded goods or compelled labor -- or those constituting the government would starve along with consumers and producers both. The whole apparatus of government can exist only by creating and allocating surplus goods, and that is dependent on creating and regulating money tokens. The good here is that marking up value in terms of tokens and notches on a stick lets people delay gratification and makes communications, exchange and availability of necessities more efficient and possible. Money as "unit of account" for measuring value becomes something useful or allocating resources. Markets aren't possible without uniform weights and measures. And essentially money can and usually does perform a function where markets would not be possible without those tokens in some form.

Taxes necessary for Regulating Commerce/Society

Taxes are necessary to regulate privatized (privateering) money, keep it in circulation encourage valuable spending (investment) and recapture superfluous or waste tokens. It also is needed to provide tokens governors can spend to do their governing business and provide public services to their constituents. The enemy of a prosperous and well governed realm therefore, is excess privateering money. Governments must be able to prevent or mitigate the power of money to make money and monopolize its possession and to bind surpluses to the wasted purposes of a self selecting elite. Surplus money has to be taxed and redistributed or it undermines the functionality of the societies that depend on markets and exchange of tokens to survive.

Taxes, rents and financial charges all come from those tokens and the same pool of production. Let that wealth be wasted by being monopolized and it will be misallocated. Since those tokens are almost entirely fiat money ultimately all the income of any country comes from Government mints and notes printed by banks ostensibly backed by those mints. The wealth of a country has to belong to all the people, not just a sliver elite of super-wealthy.

Income taxes are paid out of surplus tokens. The term for the surplus is either profits or "net income" depending on whether one is parsing business behavior or referring to a family. Taxes should be paid out of net income. And a fair tax system would not be taxing wage compensation at a higher rate than it taxes net income from rents or sales. The government needs to recapture its surplus tokens and control the money supply. The wealthy want to BE the government. So they invent all sorts of fancy sounding sophisticated arguments. But that is the reality.

We need income taxes to recapture tokens not needed for production or for individuals to pursue happiness. Without taxing surplus tokens, the happiness of the few becomes a yoke on the happiness of the many. Those who control surplus money use it to generate (consciously or unconsciously) private separate advantage, inequity, inequality and to arrogate and usurp powers that ought to belong to the people.

This is a meditation and I'll probably rewrite it later.

To Luke Skywalker

Beware the dark side of the force my son.
The magic of the Fairies is subtle and deep.
Their Sithi lords walk quietly among us.
And whisper hatred in our sleep.
 
You have to step out into the light.
And win the eternal, inward fight.
And shine out thy moral authority for all to keep.
To defeat the dark side that walks within.
 
For alongside love walks fear and sin.
And every berserker makes an insane choice.
For beside the better lights whispering in one ear
is always another sinister whispering voice.
 
There is power in hate.
Power to destroy.
Power to display, power to deploy.
But it is power that feeds on life
it cannot last.
 
And hate echoes hate.
Feeding on hurt.
Feeding on the past.
But it can bring only one kind of peace.
the peace of unburied unquiet bodies.
 
Christopher H. Holte 7/8/2016

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Fishy Benediction

May you only catch edible things,
and nothing hunt you that thinks you are too.
May the mosquitoes find you taste bad,
but the fish love all your baits.
 
May the water be peaceful, deep and full of life.
May your tackle box be full, and your tools sharp as a knife.
May your old friends be rested and tell soothing tales.
May you not run out of water, snacks and ales.
 
May the time pass slowly and you enjoy the stars on high.
May you hear birds sing and animal calls.
and hear the wind sing in the trees.
May the sun smile on you and your companions too.
 
May the fish you catch be as big as you describe.
and may you leave the place as beautiful as you find it.
May you "leave no traces" except nature's smile.
Christopher Hartly Holte