Kenneth Arrow, Nobel prize winning economist, passed away February 21, 2017 at the age of 95 at his home near Stanford University where he was Professor Emeritus. He was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel prize. Dr. Arrow made many academic contributions, but chief among them was his Impossibility Theorem. [Read more…]
Globalization’s Dirty Little Secret
One giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50 million cars. Globalization and the offshoring of American jobs is directly responsible not only for good paying jobs leaving the US, but also for massive amounts of pollution put into the environment leading to increased global warming. These mammoth machines guzzle fuel at a rate of 16 tons per hour — equivalent to nearly 400 tons a day. They consume 86% of the oil exported from Saudi Arabia. So not only would bringing these jobs back home bolster the middle class and decrease the economic divide between the 99% and the 1%, but it would also forestall climate change.
Confidential data from the maritime industry shows that just 15 of the world’s biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world’s 760 million cars. In addition to getting fossil fuel burning cars off the road, we need to be concerned about getting container ships off the seas. [Read more…]
Profits Can Stay In State, Provide Local Funding
Alarmed by the corruption and greed of Wall Street, many US cities and states are studying the feasibility of establishing public banks. Public banks are owned by cities, states or other jurisdictions and serve to keep funds local instead of being deposited on Wall Street. The funds are then used to support local economic activities like small business loans and student loans.
Washington state has already cut its ties with Wells Fargo because they funded DAPL. Now they want to get rid of Wall Street as a place to park their money making use of the local economy and profiting the people of Washington instead of the bankers of Wall Street. Bills were introduced on January 18 in both the House and Senate of the Washington State Legislature that add Washington to the growing number of states now actively moving to create public banking facilities. [Read more…]
Amazon Go is the latest job destroyer by virtue of the fact that it is a grocery store with no check-out lines. High tech devices will monitor every item you put in your high tech grocery basket so you just load up and go. Your credit card will be charged the correct amount. It isn’t clear if a robot will bag your groceries or if you’ll do that yourself. This feat of automation is only the harbinger of things to come. With artificial intelligence and robots, jobs will be automated out of existence except for a few software engineers who will design the various systems.
So far there is only one store open and that’s in Seattle, but soon … soon check-out cashiers can kiss their jobs good-bye. By the same token, truck drivers will be losing their jobs to self-driving trucks. [Read more…]
2016 Breaks 2015’s Record Which Broke 2014’s Record
For the third year in a row planet Earth has set records for hottest year as the planet warms due to global warming. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row. Meanwhile, President Trump took down the White House climate change website. He has called global warming a hoax and a Chinese plot, and staffed his administration with global warming deniers.
The heat extremes were especially noticeable in the Arctic region where temperatures are running 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Sea ice is melting at a rapid pace and coastal communities are dealing with rapid beach erosion. Polar bears are losing their habitat and starving. [Read more…]
Ignoramus-In-Chief Is OK With Allies Who Sponsor Terrorism
Why did Trump try to impose tighter vetting on 7 nations in the Middle East without including Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Could it be that it’s because Saudi Arabia which is a hotbed of terrorism is also an ally of the US and an enemy of Iran?
Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. The machete wielding attacker at the Louvre recently was Egyptian. Neither Egypt nor Pakistan nor Afghanistan were included on the so-called President’s list. Pakistan harbored bin Laden. Afghanistan is the home of the Taliban. If Trump had wanted to keep terrorists out of the US, surely he should have included these countries in his ban. But terrorism is more about US alliances than it is about morality or human rights. [Read more…]
Not the Kind That Bombed Hiroshima
In Washington there’s such a thing known as the nuclear option which means changing the rules of the Senate to get rid of the filibuster. The Democrats shied away from this during the Obama administration even though Republicans effectively killed or watered down most of Obama’s initiatives by means of the filibuster. The Democrats could have changed the rules, but they were too nice, too traditional. Republicans just go for raw power. So now we’re at the pass where Trump says “If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, ‘If you can, Mitch, go nuclear.’” He’s talking to Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader.
The Junk Food That Is an American Tradition
Remember when Twinkies went out of business and people mourned the loss of such a time-honored treat? How could such a sorry state come to pass? Weren’t Twinkies profitable any more? Were people consuming less of them because they were mostly sugar and not good for you? Wrong and Wrong.
As it turns out, it was all about some hedge fund shananigans designed to make the wealthy even wealthier while sacrificing the jobs and pensions of loyal workers. It’s called financial engineering, and it creates profits by destroying jobs. [Read more…]
“Repeal and Replace” Just a Slogan
Republicans were fine with the way it was for the health care system before Obamacare went into effect. So why not just go back to the good old days when a pre-existing condition was enough to let an insurance company reject you from coverage? The good old days when price gouging by insurance companies was the order of the day. The good old days when pharmaceutical corporations could charge whatever they want for life saving drugs. Oh, that part is still true under Obamacare.
The “Repeal and Replace” mantra was always nothing more than a slogan. Republicans have had 8 years to suggest a different system or enhancements to the one currently in effect. [Read more…]
Taking a page out of the Bernie Sanders playbook, Governor Andrew Cuomo, with Bernie Sanders standing by his side, proposed free university tuition in New York state for residents making less than $125,000 a year. New York on the east coast and California on the west are taking the lead in preserving and advancing progressive values in the Trump era which will probably see conservative values extolled at the Federal level. But Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and others will do all they can to block Republican efforts to shred the safety net for poor and middle Americans. Meanwhile, state and local governments in progressive states will do all they can to advance the cause of values that benefit average Americans. [Read more…]
Restocking the Swamp
Trump’s new pick for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, his top campaign fundraiser, was a Goldman Sachs executive. Mnuchin spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs where he became a partner. He also worked for hedge fund manager George Soros, founded a hedge fund of his own and was the lead investor in IndyMac, a failed subprime lender that turned into a “foreclosure machine” during the housing crisis.
As the financial crisis worsened, Mnuchin was looking to make a profit off of homeowners who couldn’t pay their mortgages. In 2009, he got together with a group of billionaire investors and bought a failed California-based bank, IndyMac, which had been taken over by the FDIC after its portfolio went bust. Mnuchin and his partners bought IndyMac on the condition that the FDIC agree to pay future losses above a certain threshold. They renamed the bank OneWest Bank and, after running it for six years, they sold it last year for a profit, estimated at close to $1.5 billion. [Read more…]
The Safety Net Will Soon be in Shreds
The Trump administration will take over in a couple weeks. Essential benefits for tens of millions of low-and moderate-income Americans are in danger of being phased out or canceled immediately. These include the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor and further reduction of already squeezed funding for scores of other important programs serving the most vulnerable Americans such as rental vouchers for low-income families, programs to fight homelessness, job training, funding for poor school districts, Head Start for young children and Pell grants to help low-income students afford college.
Republicans are all about cutting non-defense discretionary spending, and that means any program that helps the poor and middle class. After Trump showers tax cuts on the rich and corporations, the Republican Congress will attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. It’s what they’ve been trying to do for years, but Obama stood in their way. Now they have a green light. In the House GOP’s most recent budget plan, 62 percent of a stunning $6 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years would come from programs to help the poor. [Read more…]
Earthquake Capital of US
We have written previously about the fact that Oklahoma is now the earthquake capital of the US. It seems forcing all the waste products from fracking down deep wells has disturbed the earth enough to cause a lot of earthquakes there. In addition to jolting the nerves of Oklahomans, it is destroying their property. In 2014, there were over twice as many earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma as in California, making Oklahoma the most seismically active state in the contiguous United States by a substantial margin.
Residents of the town of Pawnee, which has suffered the most earthquakes, have filed a class action lawsuit against 27 energy companies. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money for property damage plus emotional distress. The lawsuit claims that companies are showing “reckless disregard for public or private safety.” [Read more…]
A Secy of Labor Who Doesn’t Believe in the Minimum Wage
By John Lawrence
Trump has chosen fast food executive Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. Puzder is chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the corporation that owns Hardee’s and Carls Jr fast food chains. The corporation has 3300 locations in 42 states and 28 countries. Puzder has advocated replacing human beings with machines in fast food restaurants.
Puzder also is against the minimum wage altogether, let alone raising it to $15 an hour. He sees his job as executive of CKE as driving down the cost of labor and this means lowering the minimum wage and replacing workers with automated machines. [Read more…]
They Just Increase Amount of Poison We’re Exposed To
The controversy over genetically modified crops has focused on whether or not they were safe to eat. We have to ask ourselves what was the purpose for genetically modifying them in the first place. That was so they could be sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup and they wouldn’t die. Only the weeds would die. But this leaves the crops, mainly corn and soybeans, with a nice coating of poison. It won’t kill them, but it might kill you.
The next promise of the chemical corporations was that the use of GMO sprayed with weed killers would lead to a significant increase in crop yields, but that hasn’t happened either. The promise was that GMOs would “feed the world”. Monsanto and others pointed to the fact that the world’s population was increasing so we needed a far more abundant food supply, and the only way to get there was by means of GMOs liberally sprayed with RoundUp, the main ingredient of which is glyphosate. [Read more…]
His Supporters Have Been Snookered!
In a 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl, Trump back pedaled on his major campaign promises and a lot else. When asked what his sit-down with President Obama was like he replied, “I found him [President Obama] to be terrific. I found him to be– very smart and very nice. Great sense of humor, as much as you can have a sense of humor talking about tough subjects, but we were talking about some pretty tough subjects.” So no more questions about his legitimacy to be President? No more wondering whether he was born in Kenya? I guess not now that he, Trump, is a member of the club.
The interview went on: [Read more…]
A Hacker’s Wet Dream
By John Lawrence
Hackers are licking their chops over the latest push by high tech corporations including San Diego’s Qualcomm to create an Internet of Things in which everything is hooked up to the internet: your refrigerator, your thermostat, your security system, your car. It will be a hacker’s paradise. Already hackers have carried out a distributed denial of service (DDoS) taking Netflix, Twitter, Paypal and other major websites off the air. Hackers were able to direct an overwhelming amount of traffic to a company by the name of Dyn which acts as a switching hub for internet traffic.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is driven by corporate needs to find a new way to keep revenues flowing now that cell phones and computers seem to have reached their maximum growth capacity. So why not promote an internet in which all your household appliances are online? That way you can use your cell phone to set your thermostat, check on your refrigerator to see if you should pick up milk on the way home, check your cameras to see if the FedEx guy left a package etc. [Read more…]
Trump Astounded and Shocked Democrats — and Even His Own Pollsters
Hillary was a shoo-in.. or at least that’s what everyone thought. Hillary had a blue firewall and many paths to 270 electoral votes. Donald had a bunch of heavy lifting including an almost impossible flipping of one or two blue states.
Whaaa hoppened?! What happened was that angry, white rural voters went for the guy that was against free trade (much as Bernie Sanders was) and promised to bring their rust belt jobs back from China and other Asiatic places. You had only to look at the state by state maps to see solid red in rural areas even in blue states with the only blue being in the big cities.
It wasn’t enough for Hillary to win even though she came close, and unmistakably the popular vote by more than two million. According to an article by the New York Times, this 1.5 percentage point surpasses margins by Al Gore, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy . [Read more…]
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, Folks!
The American Egg Board, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, put out a hit on an eggless mayonnaise start-up which had come up with a product called Just Mayo which contains no eggs. Perceiving this as a threat to the egg industry and the thousands of chickens it represents, Egg Board members exchanged emails asking, “Can we pool our money and put a hit on him?”
This was in reference to the founder of the eggless mayonnaise company, Josh Tetrick. They also suggested that “old buddies from Brooklyn pay him a visit.” Evidently, the $7 billion egg industry saw the vegan start-up as a threat to its profits, and was determined to stop it in its tracks at all costs. The Board’s president, Joanne Ivy, sent an email to her organization’s public relations consultants at Edelman. “It would be a good idea if Edelman looked at this product as a crisis and major threat to the future of the egg product business,” she wrote. [Read more…]
Oil Corporation Tramps on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
Finally, there is an alliance of a major ethnic group – US Indians – and environmentalists who are taking a stand to prevent the furtherance of fossil fuel interests. Bill McKibben of 350.org says we must stop now insofar as building more fossil fuel infrastructure, which is what a pipeline represents, if we are to have a hope and a prayer of saving the planet from the effects of global warming. [Read more…]
Lyricist for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
E.Y. Yip Harburg (1896-1981) was born Isidore Hochberg on New York’s lower east side of Russian immigrant parents. His nickname, Yipsel, was later shortened to Yip. Unlike many of his contemporary songwriters like George and Ira Gershwin, with whom he was friends, Yip grew up in poverty and never forgot it.
He was known as “the social conscience of Broadway”. He wrote the words to over 600 songs including all the lyrics for the 1939 production “Over the Rainbow” starring Judy Garland. The music was composed by his collaborator, Harold Arlen. He wrote the words for the classic anthem of the depression, “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” [Read more…]
The Business of America is No Longer Business – It’s Finance
The rich today are making money not from making things, but by manipulating money. This is being done in such a way that it is driving the inequality process. It is ruining the middle class while exporting their jobs. The tax structure of the US engineered by Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan and their Republican followers has incentivized the creation of great wealth in a few hands while driving the majority of people into poverty.
So-called trickle down economics has only spurted up. While the rich have many ways of escaping paying taxes, middle class people are stuck paying them to a larger and larger extent. The government needs money to operate, and, if the rich don’t pay their fair share, the middle class has to make up for it. US tax policy makes sure that it does. [Read more…]
Keep It In the Ground
Bill McKibben of 350.org said recently, “If our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do? Here’s the answer: zero.”
The goal of keeping earth’s temperature rise below 2 degrees C is already in danger even with the coal mines, oil wells and pipelines currently in operation and assuming there will be no new ones. That means that we shouldn’t be doing any more digging or drilling. It all has to stop – now – if the earth is to survive. [Read more…]
Oklahoma Now Earthquake Capitol of US
The chickens are coming home to roost. A state that has thrived from oil wells is now being destroyed by them. The practice of forcing waste water from oil drilling down other wells has made Oklahoma the earthquake capital of the US.
Between 1978 and 2008 Oklahoma averaged about two magnitude 3 or above earthquakes per year. Then in 2014 the total zoomed up to 585, 3+ magnitude earthquakes, more than the number of 3.0+ magnitude earthquakes from the previous 30 years combined. In 2014, there were over twice as many earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma as in California, making Oklahoma the most seismically active state in the contiguous United States by a substantial margin. [Read more…]
The Measure Doesn’t Do Enough to Get Cars Off the Road
In a nutshell, Measure A is a something-for-everybody approach that doesn’t do enough to concentrate on climate change. A full on effort to get cars off the road and people onto public transit would do much more. That means more trolley and light rail lines paralleling major freeways.
When congestion is bad enough and transit gets better, at some point, commuters will switch to transit as long as it becomes more convenient. That should be SANDAG’s goal. And let’s address the issue of getting truck traffic off the road. Rail service should be encouraged. [Read more…]