we have a demand problem, swiftcurrent lake rain storm wallpaper, the perfect failures of psychic detectives

In an otherwise thought provoking post an unfortunate headline – Graph of the Day: Is the “Great Recession” Really a Household Debt Crisis?

“Why is everyone still referring to the recent financial crisis as the ‘Great Recession’?” asks Harvard economist and former IMF chief Kenneth Rogoff, in a recent article for Project Syndicate. “The phrase ‘Great Recession’ creates the impression that the economy is following the contours of a typical recession, only more severe – something like a really bad cold,” he adds. “But the real problem is that the global economy is badly overleveraged.”

Unfortunately, the American household is no exception. While political discourse has been dominated in recent months by arguments over our enormous national debt, climaxing with the tense mid-summer negotiations over the debt ceiling in Washington, the problem of household debt has gone largely unmentioned in the media. Now that is beginning to change, as a consensus develops among economists, pundits, and policymakers that Americans’ paralyzing mortgage and credit card debt is the main factor holding the economy back from recovery.

Household debt

The facts are these: although household debt peaked at $116,457 per household in 2008—nearly 100 percent of GDP at the time the financial markets collapsed—mortgage and credit debt has decreased merely seven percent as of 2010. The average American household would have to deleverage an additional 97 percent to return to 1976 levels. And while no one is arguing that household debt needs to be at those levels to restart the economy, it is generally understood that consumption will not increase adequately until Americans’ debts are significantly lower.

When we last experienced a deep recession in 1982, the household debt-to-GDP ratio was about 45 percent, or $17,286. So when the government adjusted its monetary policy, the economy was able to recover quickly. Today, with the average household still holding over $100,000 of debt, a more ambitious program will be required to return demand—and thus unemployment—to pre-recession levels.

At least for the time being those of us on the moderate side of the debate of our economic ills are on the losing end of, not the debate, but being heard above the Chicken-Little cries of we have a spending problem. Where there is human beings and government certainly there will be waste. We could not cut spending as a path to wiping out the deficit short of doing away with the military. The excerpt above gets to a progressive liberal argument that has been around for at least two years and gets no real hearing in the press. Saying that most working class Americans are drowning in debt is one way of saying there is no demand for products and services. Demand creates jobs. In Catch-22 fashion, people without jobs, people who are afraid to spend because they might not have a job or people who have found jobs that pay half what they were making means no consumer engine to get the demand revved up to create more jobs. Only government spending could break the stalemate, but the austerity peacocks are against spending. They think spending cuts creates jobs. Why they think this is not supported by any empirical data, but when have facts ever made a difference in defeating the echo of right-wing dogma on the economy.

There is one option discussed in that post. Free up some consumer spending by allowing underwater homeowners to refinance their homes at lower rates. Sounds like a good idea and likely doomed. If we start experimenting someone in the upper 10 percent of income might have to cut back their pool cleaning to once a week.

photography, landscape, nature, forest, snow

black and silver winter morning 

Psychic Detectives Have a Perfect Record – of Failure

Take the story of Portland, Ore., clairvoyant Laurie McQuary. A creative sting was set up by the Inside Edition TV show in March. A producer posing as a distraught brother in search of his missing sister hired McQuary for $400. She looked at the photo of the girl and claimed she had been sexually assaulted and killed, but the case was still solvable. The psychic detective even pointed to a remote location on a map where the body could be found. The next day, McQuary was taped in an interview with an Inside Edition correspondent who revealed that the photo was the correspondent as a young girl and not the missing sister of the show’s producer. Asked how she could be so wrong, the psychic ended the interview and walked off the set.

A sample of one does not prove the case, but 10 other psychics contacted by the show similarly stated the girl had been murdered. Such errors confirm what the FBI told Inside Edition: They were “not aware of any criminal investigation that has been resolved as a direct result of information provided from a psychic.”

[  ]…But surely we’ve heard of some successes by psychic detectives. Consider the case reported in January in the New York Post: “A psychic eerily predicted where the victim of a suspected serial killer could be found — nine months before cops dug up the corpse and that of three other young women on a Long Island beach, police sources said.”

Claiming to see the body in a grave “overlooking a body of water” with a nearby sign that had the letter “G” in it, did the psychic really “nail it?” Turns out the body was not buried in a grave, any location on Long Island would be near a vaguely described body of water, and no sign was found. And if it had, would the letter “G” be a surprise on Long Island?

Skeptical thinking requires that we distinguish between vague, generally applicable common-sense statements and the precise breakthroughs demanded of serious investigations. On closer inspection, other than anecdotal accounts, there are no documented discoveries of missing persons by psychics.

 

In another small sudy which pitted self described psychics against students who claimed no psychic abilities, the non-psychics guessed correctly as often as the psychic predictions or visions. One of the best daily examples of how to make generalized predictions which sound like someone might have at leasta tiny bit of pyschic ability is the daily horscopes in newspapers and on sites like Yahoo.

Nothing is exactly what it seems today. You need to make sure that you’re paying close attention and probing anything that seems fishy — but you may still be taken by surprise later in the day.

 

Without seeing the astrglogcal sign first can you tell which sign that horscope for today is for. Sounds like something that cuudl apply to anyone on any given day. here is another one,

Everyone knows you’re the master of detail work, and today you show off for the masses. It’s easier than ever to score big with something that others would have terrible trouble with.

 

Everyone likes to think they are masters of detail when they put their mind to it. is this for a Virgo or a Taurus. Could be anyone. The claims made are so general it could be construed to apply to anything you accomplish today. Psychics use very similar techniques.

Glacier National Park,USA, Montana, landscape, conservation, nature

swiftcurrent lake rain storm wallpaper

Claudius Galenus (AD 129-c. 217) was a Roman( of Greek ancestry) authority on anatomical theory and medical practice. And he was also a philosopher. Among some medieval texts a researcher recently found a copy of a letter written by Galen called . ‘On the Avoidance of Grief’- Galen and the Great Fire of Rome

By AD 192 the Horrea Piperataria had stood secure for almost a century, so Galen rented one of the units to store the valuable eastern materials he required for his medical practice. In ‘On the Avoidance of Grief’ he explains the situation.

People deposited their most precious treasures in these store rooms because they trusted that the warehouses along the Sacred Way would never be affected by fire. People were confident because there was no wood in these buildings other than the doors, and these warehouses were not close to any substantial private homes. What is more, the facilities were watched over by a military guard.

But Galen was proved wrong about the safety of the spice complex.

 

Much of galen’s life long collection of remedies, medical recipes, personal writings and his collection of wirtings by others was destroyed when Rome’s Temple of Peace was destroyed in a fire.

“I’m in employee services. I make sure the lunch room is clean, the vending machines are stocked. We had a huge mix up the other day between the tampon machine in the lady’s room and the condom machine in the men’s room. And now some woman is suing because of a latex infection.” One of Lisa Kudrow’s patients in Web Therapy, episode 6.

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another post about stuff

Up to a point I can understand supporting someone who runs on an anti-war platform. In addition to the death and destruction, wars tend to drain national resources best used elsewhere. War is not the only issue. Becoming fixated on it as an issue is like continuing to date someone just because they’re tall and pretending the semi-weekly slap downs aren’t real. 5 Reasons Progressives Should Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution

There are few things as maddening in a maddening political season as the warm and fuzzy feelings some progressives evince for Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the Republican presidential candidate. “The anti-war Republican,” people say, as if that’s good enough.

But Ron Paul is much, much more than that. He’s the anti-Civil-Rights-Act Republican. He’s an anti-reproductive-rights Republican. He’s a gay-demonizing Republican. He’s an anti-public education Republican and an anti-Social Security Republican. He’s the John Birch Society’s favorite congressman. And he’s a booster of the Constitution Party, which has a Christian Reconstructionist platform. So, if you’re a member of the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-senior-citizen, anti-equality, anti-education, pro-communist-witch-hunt wing of the progressive movement, I can see how he’d be your guy.

While some conservitarians are agnostic or not particularly dogmatic, Paul does in fact pander to the Christian Reconstructionists. If he seems lukewarm to callous towards Israel it is not because he views Israel through the lens of a rightie isolationist, it is because he believes the government and people of Israel are not libertarian fundamentalist when it comes to economic issues and that many Israelis are actually very secular in their world view. In other words Israel is filled with statists and atheists, so they’re too worldly for Paul.

Paul has delivered addresses to the anti-civil rights John Birch Society which was founded by old school reactionary candy magnate Robert Welch, with the help of Fred Koch ( father of the infamous Koch brothers who believe in freedom except for American workers).

silver blue thing wallpaper

Sylvia Sleigh(1916-2010) was a Welsh realist painter who became a naturalized American citizen. From an interview here  – Art Space Talk Sylvia Sleigh

SS: A friend of mine asked me to say in two words what my work was about and was very Surprised when I said, “Love and Joy”. I have always felt so strongly that there are so many wonderful things to enjoy we could all have a happy and satisfying life. But of course with global warming and the horrible political scene who knows. In 2003 I decided that I needed a motto well mottoes are usually in Latin which gives them Grandeur & prestige. So, I chose a line from an old time popular song “Remember you’re the one who can fill the world with sunshine.” A kind friend translated it into Latin: “Tene memoria tu es quisdam quie mundum cum luce solis compiere potes.”

The Turkish Bath by Sylvia Sleigh

Rick Perry Sought State Profits From Teacher Life Insurance Scheme

According to the notes, which were authenticated by a meeting participant, the Perry administration wanted to help Wall Street investors gamble on how long retired Texas teachers would live. Perry was promising the state big money in exchange for helping Swiss banking giant UBS set up a business of teacher death speculation.

All they had to do was convince retirees to let UBS buy life insurance policies on them. When the retirees died, those policies would pay out benefits to Wall Street speculators, and the state, supposedly, would get paid for arranging the bets. The families of the deceased former teachers would get nothing.

These were not active teachers where the state might be able to claim to have some financial interest in their mortality, they were retired. In what appears to be a Bizarro World layer cake Perry and former conservative senator Phil Gramm were going to bundle the life policies to use as synthetic CDOs( Collateralized debt obligations) like Wall St did with mortgages, car loans and other consumer debt.

Navajo Woman and Child Canyon de Chelle Arizona 1940s. From the archives collection of Ansel Adams in the Records of the National Park Service – Ansel Adams Photographs. I did touch this one up. Many are not the best prints, but still interesting to see that part of his work that was more documentarian oriented rather than pure esthetics.

nicole kidman. just a photo i liked. a couple art house movies she made you might have missed, margot at the wedding – people don’t decide to be part of a dysfunctional family, they just get up one day and find they are. birthday girl – being lonely is a little like being drunk. you do stuff you would not normally do – like order a russian bride. what seems like a budding sweet romance careens out of control. there are worse things than being lonely.

If there is another chapter in the Pirates of the Caribbean, a perfect place to build a legend around – Secret river discovered under the Amazon

THE Amazon basin covers more than 7 million square kilometres in South America and is one of the biggest and most impressive river systems in the world. But it turns out that – until now – we have only known half the story.

Brazilian scientists have found a new river in the basin – around four kilometres underneath the Amazon River. The Rio Hamza, named after the head of the team of researchers who found the groundwater flow, appears to be as long as the Amazon but up to hundreds of times wider.

Some of the water flows horizontally of course, but some flows vertically.

twin studies not without merit, barley field storm, climate change and disasters

Brian Palmer at Slate makes some good points about monozygotic (identical) twins not being absolute genetic copies of each other and some of the historically flawed studies of twins. On the other hand he goes a bridge too far. Double Inanity – Twin studies are pretty much useless.

That’s just the beginning of the genetic differences between monozygotic twins. As a result of mutations during development, about one in 10 human brain cells has more or less than the typical two copies of a chromosome. Identical twins also have different mitochondrial DNA, the genetic information stored in the cellar organelle responsible for processing glucose. Research suggests that mitochondrial DNA affects brain size among a host of other neurological traits.

Twin studies also rely on the false assumption that genetics are constant throughout one’s lifetime. Mutations and environmental factors cause measurable changes to the genome as life progresses. Charney cites the example of exercise, which can accelerate the formation of new neurons and potentially increase genetic variation among individual brain cells. By the time a pair of twins reaches middle age, it’s very difficult to make any assumptions whatsoever about the similarity of their genes.

 

Palmer more or less declares that studies of twins are nearly useless because of all the reasons monozygotic (identical) twins are different. he says monozygotic twins have differences derived from the genetic phenomenon known as copy number variations. Further more he notes they have different mitochondria DNA. Both true. Yet in both those instances the similarities between twins in their copy number variations and their mitochondria DNA are closer to each other than one of the twins and any other person on earth. Those similarities are also greater than any two random individuals, even from the same family. So twins can provide a base line for studying genetically based behavior even if such studies do not produce writ in stone behavioral theories. Some of the studies he cites were awful to some degree or another, especially going back to Sir Francis Galton. Some early theories about the atom were in error as well, that doesn’t mean early nuclear theorists like Neils Bohr did not make a contribution to eventually understanding the basic atom model. Palmer is also correct about the equal environments models for identical twins. Each twin experiences time and space in its own way as they can never have the exact same experience. Though it might be a mistake not to acknowledge that some environments are similar and two people who have very similar genetic make-up would not have some common ground in the way they filter and process their experiences.

moody, field, farm, storm clouds, barley, green

barley field storm wallpaper

I supposed that since global warming is not occurring, the consequences of global warming are just a figment of our imaginations – First link between climate patterns and civil conflict

The analysis included 175 countries and 234 conflicts, over half of which caused more than 1000 deaths. It found that the risk of conflict in tropical countries rose from 3 per cent during La Niña years to 6 per cent during El Niño years. The effect was absent from countries only weakly affected by these climate cycles (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature10311).

“I was surprised by the strength of the effect,” says Halvard Buhaug of the Peace Research Institute Oslo in Norway. “Doubling of risk is a large increase, about on a par with poverty and ethno-political exclusion.”

Buhaug has been sceptical of similar studies, and though he finds the statistics convincing, he says he is puzzled, as the study offers no explanation for how El Niño might exert an influence over stressed human societies.

Hsiang’s team found that El Niño appeared to have an immediate effect – in their analysis, conflicts erupted within months of the onset of El Niño events – but the correlation was independent of local weather events like drought, which can bring famine and increased tension.

Hsiang cannot yet explain what is causing the link. One possibility is that international markets spread climate signals around the world. For instance, widespread drought in an El Niño year could cause global food prices to rise.

But as Andrew Solow of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts points out, “People do not start wars simply because they are hot.” And until we know what it is about El Niño that increases the likelihood of conflict, it will be impossible to say whether this means we should expect more unrest due to climate change.

 

This is at least enough of a strong correlation, though admittedly some of cause and effect issues need some work, to continue to monitor weather events and conflicts. The effects might be largely confined to countries or locals which do not have the kind of infrastructure such as western Europe and the U.S. Those large developed economies with large land areas are better able to deal with the impacts of large-scale floods and droughts. Conflicts are less likely even in worse case scenarios. The drought in Texas is historically awful, but the overall impact on the U.S. economy is something we can deal with.

black and white rocky sea coast

Various linkage: People like to be respected, some even enjoy be admired. There is a point where those things can get creepy – In the ruins of Gadhafi’s lair, rebels find album filled with photos of his ‘darling’ Condoleezza Rice

Monkeying with the Medicare eligibility age. There are several lovely magical answers to all that ails us and that awful social safety net in regular play on the national noise machine. Rising the Medicare eligibility age is not only not a panacea, but will cost us all more money as it drives more seniors into poverty. Guaranteed to please public policy wonks.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) has Police Confiscate Video Cameras & Cell Phones from Constituents at Town Hall. In short I want you to come to my town hall meetings I just don’t want anything I say ending up on YouTube.

Gheen Floats Military Coup And Arrest To “Remove” Obama From Office “As Soon As Possible”

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC’s William Gheen is out in force after we at People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch reported on an interview with Janet Mefferd in which he said that “extra-political activities” that he described as “illegal and violent” might be the only way for people to stop the “Dictator Barack Obama.”

 

What does it say about the moral compass of today’s conservatives that they despise a Democrat who is economically to the Right of Saint Ronnie Reagan.

slavery and human rights, expressive autumn, dodging a relationship bullet

Inhuman Bondage: On Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights

When it comes to the consequences of abolition, Blackburn presents a rather somber assessment. Antislavery ideas were always linked to notions of liberty and progress, but less often to racial equality. As they extended their empires across the globe in the late nineteenth century, European powers “claimed to be inspired by abolitionist principles” even when acting in blatantly racist ways. Everywhere in the Western Hemisphere, new systems of racial and labor subordination succeeded plantation slavery. Emancipation’s economic impact turned out to be less drastic than many had hoped or feared. The export value of the main crops—American cotton, Brazilian coffee and Cuban sugar—quickly recovered.

Blackburn is particularly pessimistic about the postslavery United States, warning against a scholarly tendency to “exaggerate the gains made by former slaves and their descendants.” While acknowledging the remarkable effort during Reconstruction to create an interracial democracy in the South, he sees that era as a minor detour on the road to a new system of racial domination based on segregation, disenfranchisement and economic subordination. He goes so far as to say that in the entire hemisphere, “the blacks of the US South gained least from the ending of slavery.”

 

Who settled the Americas. Setting aisde the indigeuos people already here and who were doing quite well, remarkably of the total settlers who crossed the Atlantic to The New World, 80 percent of those between 1500 and 1820 were slaves. This look at slavery weighs the economic impact along with the snail’s pace of abolition. The idea or ideals of abolition were there almost from the beginning. A lot of high minded folks called themselves abolitionists, but they remained a minority for years. Even those not interested in the history of slavery, human rights and states rights might find this article interesting in terms of how slow progress can be. Progressives, some anyway, become easily discouraged. We started a group, got on the internets, we voted – where’s all the change we wanted. It took 320 years and a war to end slavery. Even then it was not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that Jim Crow really ended.

expressive autumn wallpaper

We hear it so often that even those not on the far Right might take it as a given that liberal thinkers in the US have a history of being a little elite. On the contrary, early on in the modern progressive movement 9early 20th century) intellectuals were prone to enjoying their solitude. Snobbery and the desire to have large quantities of solitude are frequently confused. So you think you’re too good to spend time with the rest of us. From a review of Robert Vanderlan’s Intellectuals Incorporated: Politics, Art and Ideas inside Henry Luce’s Media Empire

Luce was no Eliot or Sartre. He was a man of sizable intellectual ambition whose deepest talent was for business, and through three magazines—Time, Life and Fortune—he created an extraordinary media empire. Luce’s profit-motivated kingdom had to be in New York, “a city whose position at the heart of the emerging consumer culture disciplined more than it liberated,” in Vanderlan’s words. The irony of Vanderlan’s story is that many of the same New York intellectuals who appeared in the pages of Partisan Review—Dwight Macdonald, Irving Howe, and Daniel Bell, for example—wrote for Time and Fortune as well. Margaret Bourke-White and Walker Evans also took pictures for Luce. Luce gave these artists and intellectuals more than a salary. He gave them access to an audience, a massive audience, and in doing so he influenced the course of their careers.

Vanderlan’s subject is “the interstitial intellectual,” neither fully autonomous nor coercively employed. Such a subject requires him to trace a historical trajectory. American intellectuals veered toward bohemian autonomy in the 1920s, decrying the pursuit of money as vulgar. Then came the Great Depression. Not only had the imperative of making money, or making a living, grown unforgiving, but the cherished autonomy of the 1920s could be experienced over time as unwanted solitude.

 

[  ]…By the 1950s, in Vanderlan’s view, creativity was vanishing from within the Luce empire. At fault were Luce’s calcifying conservatism and “the strengthening of the Cold War consensus” in America. Intellectuals began their long escape into academia and journalists their descent into grubby commercialism. Intellectuals went one way, magazines another, and a tenuous middle ground was lost. This narrative of structural decline is reductive; it exaggerates the aloofness of academia and the crassness of American journalism in the second half of the twentieth century; but for Vanderlan it confirms the historical salience of Luce’s magazines. In their best years, the Luce magazines furnished “a model worth emulating.”

 

There is also a difference between distance by way of autonomy and that created by a growling stomach. The modern media reflects the older Luce. We live with the kind of media framing that declares the NYT liberal because Paul Krugman is a resident Keynesian. What else is close to liberal about the Times, how it helped the Bush administration sell the invasion of Iraq as the best thing since sprinkles on cupcakes. Anyone who discusses ideas – repeating memes like a parrot doesn’t count as discussing ideas ( Fox News, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal) is simply called some names. The pursuit of knowledge is dismissed as elitist. While the net still has promise people are as misinformed as ever. This book is not the first to suggest we lost our way as we as a nation became more frightened.

narrow miss storm wallpaper

They were made for each other or some bullets are destined to be dodged – Sexist men and women

The results showed that men who were keen on ‘one-night stands’ were more likely to use ag-gressive strategies when flirting with women, and women who were also open to casual sex were more likely to respond to this type of aggressive courtship. In addition, men with negative, sexist attitudes towards women, justifying male privilege, were more likely to use assertive strategies, which may serve to ‘put women in their place’ in a submissive or yielding role during courtship. Women with sexist attitudes towards members of their own gender were more likely to be res-ponsive to men’s assertive strategies. This suggests that they find men who treat them in a dominant way during courtship more desirable, because it is consistent with their sexist ideology.

Hall and Canterberry conclude: “Our results suggest that assertive courtship strategies are a form of mutual identification of similarly sexist attitudes shared between courtship partners. Women who adopt sexist attitudes are more likely to prefer men who adopt similar attitudes. Not only do sexist men and women prefer partners who are like them, they prefer courtship strategies where men are the aggressors and women are the gatekeepers.”

 

In the movies it is usually the nerdy guy, the nice buy that to some degree envies the aggressive guy who gets the girl. In real life it might be the destiny of individual sexual ideologies working behind the scenes to save them from a doomed relationship.

less education equals less church, light and rain, government by and for the one percent

Less educated Americans turning their backs on religion

While religious service attendance has decreased for all white Americans since the early 1970s, the rate of decline has been more than twice as high for those without college degrees compared to those who graduated from college, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Our study suggests that the less educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market,” said lead researcher W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.

The study focuses on whites because black and Latino religiosity is less divided by education and income. Most whites who report a religious affiliation are Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, Mormons, or Jews.

Relying on nationally representative data from the General Social Survey and the National Survey of Family Growth, the study finds that moderately educated whites—those who have a high school degree but who did not graduate from a 4-year college—attended religious services in the 1970s at about the same rate as the most educated whites—those who at a minimum graduated from a 4-year college—but they attended at much lower frequencies in the 2000s.

 

I would not make the leap in assuming this means lower-income less educated Americans are becoming rational secular humanists. It only means what it says, they are less involved with organized religion. One irony of this trend is that if conservatives believe church attendance is the road to a more moral USA, than they should be encouraging public policy that gets people prepared for college by the time they graduate from high school. They should also support for funding for college grants and loans. By doing so they’d increase the church attendance they say they care about.

light and rain wallpaper

This is a few months old, but some may have missed it. Economist Joseph E. Stiglitz offers up a daunting possibility about the five decade long trend toward the U.S. having the worse income inequality of all western nations, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance).

[  ]…But one big part of the reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1 percent want it that way. The most obvious example involves tax policy. Lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive a large portion of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride. Monopolies and near monopolies have always been a source of economic power—from John D. Rockefeller at the beginning of the last century to Bill Gates at the end. Lax enforcement of anti-trust laws, especially during Republican administrations, has been a godsend to the top 1 percent. Much of today’s inequality is due to manipulation of the financial system, enabled by changes in the rules that have been bought and paid for by the financial industry itself—one of its best investments ever. The government lent money to financial institutions at close to 0 percent interest and provided generous bailouts on favorable terms when all else failed. Regulators turned a blind eye to a lack of transparency and to conflicts of interest.

 

We can find a poll that thinks the wealthy are not taxed enough, but when people go into the voting booth they vote the way all the commercials run by conservative anti-tax interests groups say to vote. Messages echoed by a well-organized media machine. And the issue is far from being the simplistic and false crazy Marxist lefties want to take all your hard-earned income versus the virtuous Right who always spends money wisely. It’s largely about making taxes about what they were under the Right’s saint Ronald Reagan.

Untamed Youth was released in (1957). The plot summary at IMDB reads, “Sisters Jane and Penny are arrested for hitchhiking on their way to Los Angeles when they stop for a quick skinny dip in a rural town. Local agricultural magnate Trump is a sponsor for a local prison work program and the women get put in the fields to work off their sentence. Trump is dating the widowed judge in order to ensure a stable supply of cheap labor in order to undercut his competition.” According to Wikipedia the star of Untamed, Mamie Van Doren was the first woman to sing rock and roll in a Hollywood musical.

Untamed Youth movie trailer

transnational coporations do own the world, cappuccino leaf, women guns and empowerment

Depending on is spreading the urban myth the people who really control the world are the UN, The Trilateral Commission, the military ( in some countries this is obviously true), Christian Scientists, Jews, the Vatican and the Masons. There are plenty more, but these have been very popular. One of the more popular is the generalized corporate elite. By posting  about this study that does not mean I believe there is a conspiracy in the traditional sense. Rather that a lot of financial, thus political power is concentrated into a relatively small group. The network of global corporate control, from the abstract,

The structure of the control network of transnational corporations affects global market competition and financial stability. So far, only small national samples were studied and there was no appropriate methodology to assess control globally. We present the first investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic “super-entity” that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers. ( There is a full pdf of the complete study at the link)

 

A popular summary from here states,

Diagramming the relationships between more than 43,000 corporations reveals a tightly connected core of top economic actors. In 2007, a mere 147 companies controlled nearly 40 percent of the monetary value of all transnational corporations, researchers report in a paper published online July 28 at arXiv.org.

 

What could be wrong with such a small group with common goals, strengths and vulnerabilities owning so much of the world’s monetary value?

This remarkable finding raises at least two questions that are fundamental to the understanding of the functioning of the global economy. Firstly, what are the implication for global financial stability? It is known that financial institutions establish financial contracts, such as lending or credit derivatives, with several other institutions. This allows them to diversify risk, but, at the same time, it also exposes them to contagion [15]. Unfortunately, information on these contracts is usually not disclosed due to strategic reasons. However, in various countries, the existence of such financial ties is correlated with the existence of ownership relations [23]. Thus, in the hypothesis that the structure of the ownership network is a good proxy for that of the financial network, this implies that the global financial network is also very intricate. Recent works have shown that when a financial network is very densely connected it is prone to systemic risk [24, 16]. Indeed, while in good times the network is seemingly robust, in bad times firms go into distress simultaneously. This knife-edge property [25, 26] was witnessed during the recent financial turmoil.
Secondly, what are the implications for market competition? Since many TNCs(Transnational Corporations) in the core have overlapping domains of activity, the fact that they are connected by ownership relations could facilitate the formation of blocs, which would hamper market competition [14].

 

Governments still have a large influence themselves by way of regulation and monetary policy. Even so, that did not stop the recent world-wide financial crisis. In the US previous to the crisis there were 12 ‘too big to fail’ financial institutions. Now there are seven. One of the nearly extinct moderate conservatives has acknowledged the dangers of systematic risk, yet the conservatives in Congress have fought the modest financial reform package passed in 2010. The reasons for the fight are not based on studies. The Right refuses to believe the people at the top, which they call the producers in society, could be responsible for crashing the economy. They choose to ignore the whole concept of systematic risk and blame those lazy leeches in the bottom 50% of the economy. Even if some people do not act in their own rational self-interest – a phenomenon that can be difficult to comprehend – wouldn’t those same people correct their behavior after a catastrophe largely brought about by not acting in their rational interests in the first place. Or one would think even the most hardheaded would learn from their mistakes.

cappuccino leaf wallpaper

Cool Cappuccino Foam Art – There is a video on how to make a foam designs toward the bottom of the page. Some art is very temporary.

Empowerment, Self-Defense Motivating Factors for Texas Women to Hold Concealed Handgun Licenses

Texas women who hold concealed handgun licenses (CHLs) are motivated to do so by feelings of empowerment and a need for self-defense, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“A mixture of motivations made the women feel empowered—the thrill of being good shooters, self-defense, and being different from ‘other kinds of women’—and propelled them to want a license,” said Angela Stroud, a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

In the United States, 47 percent of men but only 13 percent of women own a gun. According to gender scholars, the disproportion is due to the association of guns, aggression, and violence with masculinity. Nonetheless, the number of female gun owners is rising.

In Texas, women obtained 190,000 out of the 800,000 CHLs issued between 1995 and 2009. Stroud interviewed 15 Texas women who hold CHLs to discover their motivations for becoming licensed. She found that gender played a central role, with guns reducing the significance of size and strength differences between men and women and decreasing women’s feelings of helplessness.

“They were thrilled by their shooting competency because guns were marked as men’s things,” Stroud said. “They developed a sense of confidence in their ability to defend themselves because they were personally rejecting the link between femininity and vulnerability.”

 

Up until that part of the article it’s all good. Who would blame a woman living alone or and a couple of roommates for evening up things with a gun. Invasions into the home are one of the few relatively easy calls to make when using deciding to reach for a firearm and use it for protection. Though guns are not magic and their use can go sideways in so many ways it is best not to make them into fetish objects.

For some women—including those who began carrying guns after being victims of a crime—obtaining a CHL leads to an increased fear of crime and sense of vulnerability when unarmed. This may be a result of the CHL licensing process, in which instructors teach their students to be constantly aware of potential threats. According to Stroud, women immersed in CHL culture begin to see carrying a gun as the only way to feel safe. This is a significant drawback to guns as a form of self-defense.

“Some of these women locate their strength and empowerment in their firearm,” Stroud said. “When they are unarmed, this has the consequence of increasing their feelings of vulnerability. It is as though their sense of empowerment resides in their gun, not in themselves, limiting the extent to which CHL use ultimately empowers those women who use this form of self-defense.”

 

These feelings of being weak yet empowered by firearms is much of the problem with gun rights organizations like the National Rifle Association. A lot of extremely insecure men, despite all their tough talk, whose feelings on empowerment enter through their guns then enter their ego.

intimate partnerships can promote unhealthy habits, moon lit beach, fox defends our overlords

Isn’t one of the conventional wisdoms of the committed relationship that your partner, who says they love you for what you are, then proceeds to change you. If, in their opinion you drink too much, or smoke, or crack your knuckles, leave bathroom towels on the floor( I once considered becoming a paid assassin to track down the bathroom floor towel reprobates), talk too much, do not socialize enough, read too many comic books, wear bad shoes, burp during dinner, chew with your mouth open, wear your pants too long, wear your skirts too short? Your loving partner will, with the kindness and patience of a modern saint, help straighten you out. Or they could drag you down with them, Long-Term, Intimate Partnerships Can Promote Unhealthy Habits 

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health – there’s a long line of research that associates marriage with reducing unhealthy habits such as smoking, and promoting better health habits such as regular checkups. However, new research is emerging that suggests married straight couples and cohabiting gay and lesbian couples in long-term intimate relationships may pick up each other’s unhealthy habits as well.

[  ]…Corinne Reczek, a UC assistant professor of sociology, reports three distinct findings into how unhealthy habits were promoted through these long-term, intimate relationships: through the direct bad influence of one partner, through health habit synchronicity and through the notion of personal responsibility.

Reczek reports that gay, lesbian and straight couples all described the “bad influence” theme, while in straight partnerships, men were nearly always viewed as the “bad influence.”

“The finding that one partner is a ‘direct bad influence’ suggests that individuals converge in health habits across the course of their relationship, because one individual’s unhealthy habits directly promotes the other’s unhealthy habits,” reports Reczek. An example would be how both partners eat the unhealthy foods that one partner purchases.

The straight men as slobs who think of their girlfriends or wives as also their mother substitutes and maids, is occasionally funny when safely removed from the immediacy of it by the TV or movie screen. Not so funny is the reality of month after month, year after year. Neither is that well-kept secret that at least half of the female population are bathroom slobs who collect lotions, creams, ointments, tubes and canisters for years.A little scary are the subclass of bathroom slobs who keep the little ledge around the sink lined with lipstick, lip balm, mascara and whatever. It would require some kind of super human dexterity to use that sink to wash one’s hands. So some hands must be going unwashed.

“Gay and lesbian couples nearly exclusively described how the habits of both partners were simultaneously promoted due to unhealthy habit synchronicity. For these individuals, one partner may not engage in what they consider an unhealthy habit on their own, but when their desire for such a habit is matched by their partners, they partake in unhealthy habits,” writes Reczek.

“Third, respondents utilized a discourse of personal responsibility to describe how even when they observe their partner partaking in an unhealthy habit, they do not attempt to change the habit, indicating that they were complicit in sustaining their partner’s unhealthy habits. The final theme was described primarily by straight men and women,” says Reczek.

I’m going to guess that the tendency not to speak up is based on conflict avoidance. We hate to confront our partners. Our culture teaches that all personal conflict is bad. So many people keep that hidden. The resentment builds up and suddenly you’re having a terrible fight about stupid overcooked potatoes. If more people realized that low-level confrontation was a good thing. And in addition learned how to have constructive confrontations with their partners those fights that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere would be rare.

It is interesting that same sex couples seem to be able to recognize and acknowledge the unhealthy habit synchronicity. I wonder if it isn’t because the psychology that goes along with the war of the sexes is not in play. Gender pride doesn’t keep either side from admitting that something isn’t quite right.

sea coast, full moon,

moon lit beach wallpaper

If you just landed on this planet and all you knew about history is what conservatives told you, this is what you would know: Michele Bachmann fears the rise of the Soviet Union. The USSR ended in 1991. Paul Revere’s famous horseback ride was all about warning the British. The housing bubble did not burst until Jan. 15, 2009 – Sean Hannity may have just gone on record as the last person on the planet to recognize the housing bubble. The Civil War? That was “Christendom’s Last Stand.” The states can nullify any federal law they don’t like – Rick Perry Signed Unconstitutional Law Nullifying Federal Light Bulb Law. Former Catholic and now occasional Mormon Glenn Beck knows more about Jews in Israel than the Jews actually living there.

blue lake, western U.S., landscape

dam and lake

Jon Stewart Defends the Poor from Money-Grubbing Conservatives (Video). Stewart got the graph and statistics he uses from Business Insider, but since the graphs at their link is broken we’ll use this blog post instead – The ‘mind-blowing’ surge of wealth inequality in America

Business Insider has an excellent slide show that adds depth and breadth to this phenomenon. Here’s one graphic (via the Institute for Policy Studies) showing that in 2007 the top 1 percent owned over a third of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 50 percent had a measly 2.5 percent.

Here’s what Dennis Kucinich told me a couple months ago: “Every area of the economy is still about taking wealth from the great mass of people and putting it into the hands of a few. If you don’t have a economic democracy, you don’t have a political democracy.”

 

 

Stewart uses the fact that the bottom 50% of the population – half the country owns 2.5% of the wealth. These are the people who Fox pundits, like a chorus a good little sheep, declare should be chipping in to pay down the deficit rather than taxing those hard-working “producers” at the top. In Fox lingo it is a war between the “makers” and the”takers”. Let’s take someone in that bottom 50% like a roofer that doesn’t feel they’re doing too bad at $14.00 an hour. It is Foxes POV that someone who makes millions of dollars off just having money is a valuable member of society for which the roofer should be grateful they pay as much taxes as they do. What was even more stark in terms of financial rewards versus merit is the top 10% in terms of income. They own 71% of the country’s value. Fox says this is the natural order of things. The wealthy at the top of this steep pyramid do all the work. Being a capitalist I would agree that work should be rewarded. That money and all the things it buys are indeed quite an incentive, or should be. The problem with all the pundits on the video ( which includes a deeply ignorant libertarian) is that the wealthy are not rewarded in proportion to the work they do or the intellectual capital they add to the system. They are rewarded because they are wealthy. As Warren Buffett recently explained,

Taxes on investments. Okay, now we’re getting closer to Buffett’s main point here, and that’s taxes on investments. The tax rates on investments tend to be lower than taxes on regular income. If you make money buying and selling stocks or receiving dividends from stock ownership, those earnings are generally taxed at 15 percent, the rate for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends.

Some hedge fund managers and other finance-sector executives get taxed at this rate on their earnings because their compensation is classified as “carried interest” and taxed as a capital gain. (The Wall Street Journal breaks down how carried interest works.) In fact, some economists believe that the lower rates for capital gains actually encourages tax dodges, because it motivates high earners to look for ways to classify normal income as capital gains. Defenders say the lower tax rate helps the economy because it rewards investors for risk-taking and entrepreneurship. They also argue that taxing dividends amounts to double taxation because corporations pay taxes on their income before investors are paid dividends. We won’t settle the argument here, but there’s no doubt that investors get lower tax rates on their income than workers.

 

The argument usually goes that these high earners deserve a break because they are taking risks, encouraging growth, financing new entrepreneurs. The latter two are just so much urban myth. The part about risk is part of what is out of wack. That 50% of the people who only own 2.5% of the nations’ asset take regular risks – financial and physical – all the time. If they screw-up that, well that is why we have these predatory pay-day/car title lenders. The 2.5 can end up out on the street. We hear about the occasional millionaire going broke, but those stories are rare. Notice that none of the big players at Goldman-Sachs or AIG Financial, or even GE Capital which lost $50 billion during the crash of 2008, ended up in homeless shelters. The executives at the big three auto companies have been mismanaging those companies to some extent for years. Many have walked away with millions in golden parachutes. There are losses – straight up business losses, plus eroding shares of the marketplace, but they never pay for risks the way the myths makers of crony capitalism at Fox would have you believe. When Dick Cheney was VP he kept getting a multi-million dollars salary from Halliburton( it went into a trust while he was in office). What did Cheney do exactly to earn that money. The system is rigged to punish the speculators at the bottom, but those at the top stay at the top almost regardless of their behavior, and certainly regardless of how much work they do. Half of America does pretty much operate on the capitalism of that we so often hear about. Those above that 50% on the other hand have become the modern version of entitled overlords.