Monthly Archives: June 2014

Safe for Democracy

As you may know, demonstrations are planned to demand free elections in Hong Kong. This seems to have popular support, and may be permissible under the Basic Law. Coverage in FT is mainly about tactics – should protesters blockade the Central financial district, or no?

Pro-democracy activists fear that even with open voting, the list of candidates will be dictated by Beijing.

Comments on the topic have tended toward a referendum on democracy itself, and the assorted evils of the West. Here are some highlights:

  • Democracy is a scam whereby the West can remove inconvenient leaders and replace them with stooges.
  • Elected leaders in the West are idiots.
  • The latest survey shows Chinese respondents have a high level of trust in their government, versus a sharp decline for America.
  • The West got rich through exploitation, not democracy.

Jeremiah is not the best spokesman for American foreign policy, but he would like to assure his Chinese readers that we are sincerely pretty cultish about democracy. Our leaders are idiots, as the comment says, and we elect them regularly. President Obama has said, “go win an election,” on several occasions, as if that were the wellspring of legitimacy. If democracy is a poison, we imbibe it ourselves.

Brain surgeons are not elected but they rise through their merits. So why should the stupid but popular … have the legitimacy to lead a nation?

Our enthusiasm for democracy goes all the way back to the Roman Republic – and Greece, the cradle of our civilization. We believe that democracies are less likely to wage war, at least among themselves, and history reinforces this. Of course, Rome degraded into a dictatorship, and Egypt elected Mohamed Morsi – but our faith in democracy is undimmed.

Jeremiah insists that the people must have a right to choose their leaders, although he sometimes wishes this right came with an IQ test. Also, the more a government is constrained by laws, rights, courts, activism, and the media – the better it can withstand the occasional idiot. This brings us to the central paradox of democracy or, as we say, “you get the government you deserve.”

The Hong Kong activists are energized, and likely to vote responsibly. When people must fight to vote, they take it seriously. We Americans, who vote in low numbers and for stupid reasons, are badly suited to a democracy.

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Filed under Liberty

Phony Class War

Here is a fun piece in Politico, facetiously addressed to the 1% from one of their own. It warns that a revolution is coming, and “we may not have time to board our jets and fly away to New Zealand.” This is a clever lie. The real elites will not only escape the revolution – they are in on it. Blood will be shed, as it always is, between the poor and the bourgeois. The Washington elite – they of the surveillance state and the militarized police – will merely consolidate their power.

The author seems to be warning his rich buddies that they should stop hogging all the money, as if that would free some up for rest of us. This is the zero-sum fallacy, once again. Jeremiah, and Lenin, sees it differently. Do you really believe that you are poor because Mark Zuckerberg is rich? He’s a billionaire, after all – think of all the poor children his money could feed.

The political forces blame the rich and this merely creates class warfare with no resolution for the future. Even confiscating all the wealth of the so-called rich will not sustain the system.

Here is a different perspective, from Martin Armstrong. He writes that big government, not the rich, is what has bankrupted the West. Whom to believe? Here are some things to think about:

You are not poor because of Mark Zuckerberg. You are poor because America has an incompetent and corrupt government. When people write about revolution in Politico, note that they are pitting us against each other.

See also: What Do You Want for Free?

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Filed under Economy, Media

No Country for Old Men

Today we heard a story on NPR about how old ladies who are poor don’t live as well, or as long, as old ladies who are rich. This insight, supported by two anecdotes, was the sole content of the story. We kept waiting for some analysis, a policy prescription, or even some statistics.

The story went like this. Old poor lady is cheery and upbeat, but has a chronic illness and no health care, so her life sucks. Meanwhile, old rich lady is drinking carrot juice and having a massage. Her life is good. This was ostensibly a story about health, but – what about old men?

We kept waiting for the host to ask what ought to be done about this, or whose fault it is, or what percentage of poor people are also old. Crickets.

This is what Jeremiah calls a “so sad” story. It leaves you feeling that something ought to be done, and no idea what that might be. This being NPR, though, we’re pretty sure it means more power for the federal government. Maybe they can confiscate some of the rich old lady’s health and give to the poor old lady.

Seriously, though, you would want to do a root cause analysis first, and then design a policy prescription that would actually help someone – and you would need more facts than just two lousy interviews.

Jeremiah would like NPR to collect anecdotes about other demographic groups, like young men. Down the street, here, are some strapping young men who play basketball all day long. Being out of work actually seems to enhance their health. Then, NPR could follow the one young fellow who works two jobs and spends four hours a day on the bus. He’s looking rather tired.

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Read Pravda, It’s Truth!

We saw a comment today on the FT site, saying that more objective coverage was to be found over at RT.com. So, it’s not just Jeremiah, then. RT is short for Russia Today. It’s the official Russian state news, as China Daily is for China, and CNN is for America.

With the Russian news, you know what you’re getting. It’s pretty easy to spot the propaganda, and you end up better informed than if you merely read CNN. As far as state news goes, China Daily is actually quite good. The official “editorials” tend toward constructive engagement with the West, and they criticize their own government a fair amount.

Jeremiah has often given you guidelines for detecting media bias. In the past few years, CNN seems to have entirely stopped criticizing the administration. That must be because it’s perfect, Da?

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Stock Market Manipulation

A new study by the OMFIF discloses that the world’s central banks are buying stocks. So, there you have it. The well known correlation between Federal Reserve easing and stock market highs is now proved to be cause and effect. The references on their home page are illustrative:

  • FT finds irony in central banks’ yield hunt
  • Central banks fueling equity bubble
  • Central banks switch to equities for diversification

One weakness of the OMFIF report is that it lumps sovereign wealth funds in with central banks. The former may buy what they like – they don’t have the authority to print money. Central banks playing in the stock market are quite another thing.

A central bank, like the Fed, is the ultimate deep-pocket manipulator. They have an infinite capacity to bid prices up, and they have insider knowledge when easing will end. It is simply unbelievable that this activity is legal.

The justification, of course, is the good of (some) national economy. We are reminded of Lenin in this connection. Indeed:

Asset managers may face efforts to influence their investments in areas like infrastructure or social security systems. Public investors of all categories may be called upon to take part in global and regional safety nets.

Not content with the stock market bubble, central banks are now encouraged to funnel newly printed funds directly into government programs. That’s moar better.

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Filed under Finance