Monthly Archives: June 2013

Black and White and Red

Researching the Windsor decision, we found that comment about being gay and black, and could not resist running this image.

TDCoupleThis is not one of those Benetton ads, calculated to offend.  It is a genuine solicitation from Toronto Dominion, a Canadian bank.  Gay marriage has been legal forever in Canada, and it’s a big business.  So, why is Jeremiah offended by all this?  An interracial gay couple?  Guess again – they’re Canadian!  They have nationalized health care.

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Filed under Center Field

Supreme Court Lotto

Gays win and blacks lose in Supreme Court lotto, according to Bloomberg.  Of all the institutions demeaned by partisanship and tabloid reporting, Jeremiah mourns the Supreme Court most.  As one commentator put it:

What is the point of this headline?  Other than dividing people into ‘groups’… I mean what if you’re gay and black?  You make it sound like there is a points total where people are constantly winning or losing.

The article goes on to label each Justice according their presumed political bias, and never once considers the specific cases or their merits.  For that, you need The Economist.  Jeremiah has written about this before.  Partisans see the three branches of government as an undifferentiated mass of politicians, each of whom is “either with us or against us.”

In Windsor v. United States, the plaintiff was legally married according to the state of New York, which the Court upheld, and so she does not have to pay tax on her wife’s estate.  Rich old lesbian spanks IRS.

See also:  Judicial Restraint

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Blind Faith Majority

Returning to the NSA scandal as an objectivity test – we understand that Michael Moore (far left) and Glenn Beck (far right) have both come out in support of whistleblower Edward Snowden.  The mainstream is uniformly against Mr. Snowden, calling for him to be captured and tried for treason.

Thus, you might conclude that “the center” is pro-NSA.  Alas, that would be one dimensional thinking.  See Jeremiah’s quadrants.  Here is how we break down attitudes toward the case:

Principled support of NSA surveillance.  We must be fair to those who are acting on principle, even if they’re wrong.  This group includes the congressional oversight of the NSA – Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) – and maybe Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  Most of Congress is satisfied with their level of control over the NSA.

Principled opposition to surveillance.  There are a number of congressmen calling for more disclosure and better oversight, including Mark Udall (D-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Dean Heller (R-NV).  You must support them in the 2014 election.  They are the only thing between you and a police state.

Blind Faithers.  We are in this mess because Republicans eagerly support a surveillance state, as long as Republicans are in charge – and Democrats feel the same way.  Yes, it’s unbelievably stupid, but there are survey results to prove it.

Pew

If you have ever been in business, you may have played this game with your suppliers.  When they call about the bill, you say, “I don’t know anything about this order, call my partner.”  Then your partner says, “Jeremiah handles all the bills, call him.”  You can run them around for sixty days or more.

Blind Faithers!  This is the game the fascists are playing with you!  Oh, no – it was George Bush.  George Bush does all the wiretapping.  You’ll have to talk to him.  Now, where did old George get off to?

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Currency Manipulation

Sold soul to devilSen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) now tops our list of shameless demagogues, for his redoubled whining over China’s currency.  He could be forgiven, if he were not aware of Chairman Bernanke’s unprecedented manipulation of the U.S. dollar – manipulation which is, in fact, stated policy – except Schumer exhorted him to do it!

If we’re printing more money to buy more of our national debt, then we are diluting the value of our dollar.

Here he is, last year, with his famous “get to work, Mr. Chairman,” demanding additional monetary stimulus.  In the same hearing, Sen. DeMint (R-SC) warned, “If we’re printing more money to buy more of our national debt, then we are diluting the value of our dollar.”  So, who is the currency manipulator?  Here is Sen. Schumer again:

That’s why we’re making a renewed, bipartisan push to get this bill passed and on the President’s desk, and send a strong message to the Chinese government that the rigged game must come to an end.

Sen. Schumer plays to the groundlings with alacrity, one day demanding currency manipulation from the Fed, and the next day damning it from the Chinese.  Schumer’s co-conspirators may be unaware of the doubletalk – Sessions (R-AL), Brown (D-OH), Stabenow (D-MI), Burr (R-NC), Collins (R-ME) and Casey (D-PA).  They may not all be hypocrites.

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Not Bradley Manning

It is easy to get your whistleblowers mixed up.  We have had Manning, Binney, Drake, Wiebe, and now Snowden.  Jeremiah strongly supports the four NSA whistleblowers, because this agency is clearly not answerable to the American public.  Jeremiah does not support Manning, as we have written previously.

MiniPaxNSA

If we take the position that spilling government secrets is always good – like Julian Assange ­– then we allow real spies and real threats to security.  This weakens the argument in favor of good whistleblowers like Snowden.

So, how to tell a good whistleblower from a bad one?  We consider what was leaked, with what intent, and to what effect.  Manning disclosed a potpourri of government secrets for no clear reason, including the identities of American informants in Afghanistan – who were summarily murdered by the enemy.  The NSA would like to place Edward Snowden in the same category.

Snowden, by contrast, revealed important facts that the public needs to know.  He has not, contrary to the charges, put American lives at risk – and his motives are entirely patriotic.  This is from the Booz Allen ethics manual:

Simply because something is lawful does not mean that it is right or would reflect positively on us, individually or as a firm.  Indeed, upholding our commitment to ethical business means that we will voluntarily refuse to do something – even though it is allowed legally – if it is not consistent with our Core Values.

Snowden had a good job and a desirable lifestyle.  He has thrown it all over, and risked his own life, to make these disclosures.  He was astute enough to see that his duty to America overrode his duty to the NSA, and courageous enough to act.  Not all whistleblowers are heroes, but Snowden is.

See also:  Government Accountability Program

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Thank You, BIS

On June 20, Jeremiah documented some of the distortions caused by global monetary easing.  Adding one more to the list, we have found hedge funds borrowing cheap dollars and lending in Europe – distorting the foreign exchange rate.  On June 23, the Bank for International Settlements advised central banks to start work on an exit strategy.

Of course, the Keynesians are unimpressed.  Here is the Financial Times, and here is Paul Krugman.  They are correct about aggregate demand, a touchstone of Keynesian policy, but they overlook the time element.  This is an example of the synchronic fallacy.  At any point in time, Dr. Krugman can say “not now,” and cite aggregate demand – but the time has been “not now” for four years.  If not now, when?

The fact is that monetary policy can only go so far, and it is now dangerously overextended.  Just look at the bizarre side effects.  The real work must be done by fiscal policy, and governments have had four years to do it.  Keynesian frustration is better directed at national policy makers, not the central banks.

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First Rule of Tax Policy

Jeremiah was so pleased with the Chile post, he has us ransacking tax policy around the globe.  This nugget is from Canada:

Interest on a loan secured by your home is NOT tax deductible, UNLESS you use the money for a profit making investment.

This is one reason Canada didn’t experience the housing crash – although pundits say it could still happen.  Canadians pay tax on government bonds, but not their savings accounts.  To an American investor like Jeremiah, Canada is “through the looking glass.”  Run, don’t walk, to put your money in a Canadian bank.  They’re offering 1.1% APR.

You may have noticed that our national economy staggers from one bubble to the next.  Jeremiah is not the first to make this observation, but he is the first to coin a general rule:

If government policy favors some good or service, then the price of that good or service will become a bubble.

This simple rule explains the housing bubble, the dot com crash, the student loan crisis, municipal bankruptcy, and even the high cost of medical care.

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