Stockman And Stiglitz On Crony Capitalism: Agreements And Disagreements.

The role of government in the economy has been a major public policy issue for more than two centuries. Critics of capitalism, at least since Karl Marx, have argued that the system is skewed to benefit the political and economic elite at the expense of the masses: the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, as Marx put it, or the 1 percent over the 99 percent, as the Occupy Movement that began in 2011 put it.
Two recent books have looked at these issues, one from the vantage point of the political left and the other from the political right. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate economist and frequent commentator on the political left, discusses the way the system is skewed to support the 1 percent over the 99 percent in his book The Price of Inequality (2012), while conservative writer and former Michigan congressman and budget director in the Reagan administration David Stockman addresses these same issues from the political right in The Great Deformsation (2013). Considering their political leanings, it is worth emphasizing how much their books have in common when describing the causes of the major economic and political problems they perceive in the United States.
Both Stiglitz and Stockman argue that corruption of the U. S. political system is damaging both the economic system and democracy. This article documents the commonality of ideas in their two books while recognizing the significant differences in their policy recommendations.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on November 17, 2014.

The How and Why Behind Obama’s Mysterious Rise to the Presidency

How does a man get elected President after serving less than one full term as a U. S. Senator? Does being a community activist/antagonist qualify one for the highest office in the land? Were the Soviet defectors correct in that Obama is the manifestation of a multi-generational plot to bring America to her knees? It is easy to comprehend how and why Putin would want to destroy America. But is Obama is his accomplice in this mission which could imperil all of us?
Former FBI Weatherman Task Force supervisor, Max Noel, noted that the FBI utilized a CARL test when it conducted background checks on various suspects. The acronym CARL stands for Character, Associates, Reputation, and Loyalty is used to assess candidates fitness to hold the highest office in the country. On each of these four points of power, Obama fails and fails miserably. Like many FBI law enforcementagents and officials, Noel was alarmed by the fact that someone like Barack Obama could capture the presidency. For some unexplained reason, Obama was never vetted before he became a candidate for the presidency by the FBI. This is an unacceptable result of our national security system and is wholly suggestive of internal plot to allow the installation of a blatantly communist advocate into the highest political position in America.
Soviet Defectors Warn of Deception and the Emergence of a Manchurian Candidate Did you really think Alger Hiss would be the last communist traitor to serve in a high level US governmental position?
Through the testimony of high-ranking Soviet defectors, it can clearly be established that the Russians have been engaged in a multi-generational plot to destroy the United States from within and from without. Domestically, the Russian communists are in the midst of completing a coup d’tat, with the help their communist stooge, Barack Obama. In the following paragraphs, the verbatim statements of high ranking Soviet defectors are offered as proof of these claims. The first three defectors tell how the Soviets are setting the table for America’s demise. Stunningly, the fourth defector warns our country of a Manchurian candidate type of leadership whose job it will be to hand over a weakened America to the Russians (see Part Two).
Today, many people have been in a position to now vet the President after Obama’s first six years in office and observed his ‘fundamental transformation of America’. This particular series will continue to connect the dots of the secretive and nefarious communist background of Barack Hussein Obama.

This post was published at The Common Sense Show on November 12, 2014.

‘Islamic State Suffers Setbacks’ – Really?

A Case of Wishful Thinking? A recent AP headline breathlessly informs us that ISIS is finally being pushed back. It is reportedly suffering setbacks in Iraq and Syria. Hurrah, the good guys are finally winning! A few excerpts:
‘For a force that has built its reputation on an aura of momentum and invincibility, the Islamic State group is now dealing with a series of military setbacks in Iraq and a prolonged stalemate in the small Syrian border town of Kobani.
Gone are the days when IS was able to seize territory in both countries with relative ease. Its newfound problems, including a loss of oil revenue, raise questions about the extent to which it will be able to continue recruiting fighters who want to be with a winner.
‘ISIS has run a very effective psychological campaign to intimidate its rivals and attract support and recruits,’ said Faysal Itani, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, using an acronym for the extremists. But now, he said, the need to maintain its reputation is limiting the group’s options.
This is particularly true in Kobani, where a pre-emptive IS withdrawal in the face of U. S.-led bombings from the sky and ethnic Kurdish fighters on the ground could prove too costly.
‘They have invested a lot in this battle, and people are noticing. They will soon start asking what’s going on?’ said Ayed, a Turkey-based Syrian activist who travels back and forth to the group’s stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa. He declined to give his full name.
The prolonged fighting in Kobani is also distracting IS from more strategically important areas in Syria and Iraq where the militant extremists are already stretched on multiple fronts.
[…] Syrian and Kurdish activists estimate nearly 600 Islamic State fighters have been killed – its heaviest losses since taking over large parts of Syria and Iraq in a summer blitz.
Kurdish residents say the group appears to be struggling with personnel, bringing in inexperienced fighters and new recruits to reinforce the town. These include members of the IS police force known as Hisba, reassigned from nearby towns and cities, such as Raqqa and Manbij, under the group’s control.
‘Many Hisba members have left Raqqa in the past two weeks, telling people they were headed to Kobani,’ Ayed said. They are not fighters.’
Kobani residents say recent U. S. airstrikes targeting IS in Kobani have inflicted heavy damage. ‘Their bodies are left for days rotting in the street without anyone picking them up,’ said Farhad Shami, a Kobani-based activist.

This post was published at Acting-Man on November 7, 2014.

The U.S. Veteran Fighting ISIS in Syria is Obviously a Propaganda Shill

Last month I reported on a member of a Dutch biker gang who went to the Middle East to fight against ISIS. Truth be told, there are numerous foreign volunteers who are heading towards Iraq and Syria from all over the world, and the U. S. is no exception. Recently, Radio Free Europe interviewed a United States Army veteran Jordan Matson, who left his life in Wisconsin to help the Kurds in their fight against ISIS.
‘For over a year, people were being slaughtered by ISIS,’ the 28-year-old Sturtevant, Wisconsin, native told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq (RFI), using another acronym for IS.
‘Anyone who didn’t conform to their way of life could either convert, be killed, or get driven off their land. So when Mosul fell and IS drove all the Christians and minorities from the town or killed them, I thought that enough was enough and I decided to come here to fight,’ Matson said via Skype.
For two months, Matson has fought in northeastern Syria alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). He said he decided to join the Kurdish militia after searching the Internet for a way to fight IS.
‘I found that the YPG was the only force in the area that would let Christians and Muslims live in peace together so I decided to join them,’ he said.
Personally, I think it’s admirable that someone would volunteer their time and skills to put down those vile thugs. Many of us have seen the footage of their atrocities and read the grisly news reports of their exploits. No sane person would doubt that ISIS is a scourge against Christians and Muslims alike, and that they must be stopped if we want even any kind of peace for the Middle East.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on November 5th, 2014.

US Struggles to Keep Asia in Dark Age

US-funded newspapers promote US-funded NGOs in their efforts to halt infrastructure projects that would reduce flooding, produce clean, renewable energy, and provide jobs and development for millions.
‘The Irrawaddy,’ which claims to be ‘a leading source of reliable news, information, and analysis on Burma/Myanmar and the Southeast Asian region,’ has doggedly covered efforts by so-called ‘activists’ to prevent the construction of dams all across Southeast Asia – from Myanmar (still called by its British imperial nomenclature ‘Burma’ by the Western media), across Thailand, and in Laos.
Its most recent article, ‘Thai Power Firm’s Business Tactics ‘Use Burma’s Weak Laws’,’ is a typical representation of these efforts. It reports that:
One of the chief financiers of hydroelectric dams planned on Burma’s Salween River is accused of investing in countries where there is ‘oppression and limited transparency’ in order to achieve its objectives.
Having been restricted in its activities at home, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) wants to use Burma and Laos as proxy suppliers of electricity via environmentally damaging river dams, the US-based NGO International Rivers told The Irrawaddy.
Dams are undoubtedly disruptive to the surrounding, existing environment and surely governments and special interests regularly sidestep their responsibility to ensure dam construction results in equitable outcomes for surrounding human populations as well as wildlife. However, to oppose their construction entirely is a regressive, politically motivated agenda peddled by some of the most sociopolitically and environmentally destructive special interests on Earth.
To understand this, one must understand what both The Irrawaddy and International Rivers have in common, and specifically why their agenda has become entwined in the battle against real development across all of Southeast Asia.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on New Eastern Outlook / November 5th, 2014.

More Executive Orders on the Way: Republicans Take Control of the Senate

The American people showed their discontent at the polls yesterday by voting for the Republicans to take control of the Senate. The GOP also strengthened their hold on the House of Representatives and will be in control of both chambers of Congress for the first time since 2006.
Obama now has two choices during the final two years of his leadership:
Issue Executive orders that require no approval from Congress. Seek bipartisan support for his plans. Many people have no doubt of which choice he will make.
What you have to ask yourself is will it make a difference? The vast majority of those that seek to rule us are from white collar backgrounds and most of them worked in for-profit organizations prior to going into politics. Over half of these people are millionaires. (source)
We are deluded if we think that these men and women will not vote with their/their cronies business interests in mind and therein lies the problem. The gap between rich and poor, the haves and have-nots widens year on year. The rich get richer and the rest of us get squeezed more and more.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on November 5th, 2014.

1000s Of Veterans Busted For Massive Benefits Fraud

When work is punished and grift is not, is it any surprise that, as The Washington Times reports, nearly60,000 triple dipping Veterans picked up $3.5 billion in benefits (collecting their military retirement pay; and disability benefits from both the Veterans Administration and Social Security too). The arrangement is legal, but since everyone else is abusing the system, from crony banks to deadbeat dads to squatting slummers, it was only a matter of time before even veterans decided to dip, then dip again and dip some more. Sen. Tom Coburn, noted it was “hard to understand,” but perhaps the hardest thing to understand is why it took veterans so long to realize we live in a world without consequences.
As The Washington Times reports, tens of thousands of veterans collect their military retirement pay and disability benefits from the Veterans Administration and disability checks from Social Security too, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. All told, nearly 60,000 triple dippers collected $3.5 billion in benefits.
The arrangement is legal, but it raises questions about the generosity of the American safety net system at a time when disability programs are already under severe financial stress. “This report shows that, like other government programs, there is little coordination between these overlapping benefits, which increase cost[s] to taxpayers,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who requested the GAO report. “We should fulfill our promises to the men and women who serve, but we need to streamline these duplicative programs.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 11/01/2014.

The Schizomedia Does It Again

With QE3 about to wind down, some are declaring that the age of Quantitative Easing is finally over. These probably forgot they said the same thing when QE1, QE2 and Operation Twist ended. Clueless “expertise” aside, who can really blame them: by now it has become all too clear that the Fed itself has absolutely no idea what it is doing and has bet (all in) not only the (taxpayer) farm but all of (crony) capitalism, that it can solve every problem just by printing free wealth for 1% of the population while at the same time impoverishing the rest, leading to precisely the record inequality… that the Fed itself rails against.
A script worthy of a soap opera, one that Kim Jong Un would shoot you just for watching it.
But at least one entity has got the Fed all figured out and knows exactly what is going to happen next. The Media.
Actually, scratch that.
Here is Reuters from a few hours ago…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 10/29/2014.

Back To The Future Was Right: Hoverboards Are Just Around The Corner (video)

We are now less than a year away from the day when Robert Zemeckis and Michael J. Fox inspired an entire generation to expect nothing less from 2015 than flying cars. Sadly, as a result of the past 6 years of human “progress” being redirected to finding creative ways of preserving crony capitalism, the failed way of Keynesian life and masking insolvent banks as lipsticked pigs, the only automotive question we have of 2015 is whether there are any GM cars that haven’t been recalled; cars which one hopes will neverbe airborne. And yet, there is one aspect of 2015 that the Back to the Future trilogy may have gotten correct: that “other” thing which every 80’s kid wants to have more than anything: hoverboards.
As a recent Kickstarter campaign by Los Gatos, CA company Hendo claims, a campaign which has already raised well over $100,000 more than its goal of $250,000, the company is preparing to introduce “the world’s first REAL hoverboard and hover developer kit.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 10/25/2014.

21st Century Eugenics: Population Reduction Done Through Vaccine Poisons

Attitudes toward medical ailments and treatment vary widely, usually based upon the degree of trust in the type of health care practice that a patient believes to be the best healing method.
The American Medical Association (AMA) is an advocacy association that promotes the validity of medical therapy, but it’s heavily based upon manufactured designer drugs.
The establishment corporatist scientists have a tendency to claim a corner on proof. However, they often expound on their accepted view using selective memory. Facts can stand in the way of implementing the master plan when the ‘so called’ humanitarian benefits remain elusive or worse, detrimental.
Primum non nocere as stated in The Hippocratic Oath is the original casualty in the practice of NWO health care.
To shareholders of the Big Pharma cartels, whether a vaccine is truly needed is beside the point. Although the throw away soundbite, ‘Saving lives’, is used to market the endless list of vaccines, it’s not really the goal…
The profits involved with the introduction of any new vaccine are immense. The high priestess of orthodox medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes on their site, Possible Side-effects from Vaccines, and provides the obligatory disclaimer.
‘Remember, vaccines are continually monitored for safety, and like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. However, a decision not to immunize a child also involves risk and could put the child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease.’


This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 21, 2014.

The Misguided Push for STEM

The higher education system is a mess, and it seems the more we try to fix it, the worse it becomes. With a parade of unflattering test score comparisons constantly being trotted out, widespread unemployment, and a mismatch of skills between workers and producers, the public intelligentsia is ever more concerned about the future of our children and what can be done to improve their prospects.
The current trendy solution is to relentlessly push students into pursuing degrees falling under the unappealing acronym: STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Policymakers like these fields because they tend to be high paying and they ‘sound’ both prestigious and practically worthwhile. Why produce students who know about history or literature, when you can train them to do useful things like research new medicines or design bridges?
It sounds reasonable enough on the surface, but it is important to remember that students do not emerge from university into a vacuum, but rather into a complex system of markets that may or may not demand whatever skills they have to offer. In most markets, we (more or less) let prices freely fluctuate in order to manage the relative supply and demand of the good in question. If too much of the good is produced, the price drops, if too little is produced, it rises. This continues until the market clears, or rather, it is an ongoing process that continually pushes the price towards the market clearing level.

This post was published at Mises Canada on October 20th, 2014.

Because This Time Is Never Different, In 100 Year Old Cartoons

Now this really is precious. From 1912: "The official mortgage on the human race now is $39,343,079,476." #deflation pic.twitter.com/jMobJqvQBD
— Rudolf E. Havenstein (@RudyHavenstein) October 16, 2014

Any time you feel like all the endless crime, rigging and cronyism on Wall Street and its lobbied puppets in the Capitol is something new, look at these cartoons from about 100 years ago. You will feel better that this time is not different… and much worse that in 100 years absolutely nothing has changed.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 10/17/2014.

Kudos To Herr Weidmann For Uttering Three Truths In One Speech

Once in a blue moon officials commit truth in public, but the intrepid leader of Germany’s central bank has delivered a speech which let’s loose of three of them in a single go. Speaking at a conference in Riga, Latvia, Jens Weidmann put the kibosh on QE, low-flation and central bank interference in pricing of risky assets.
These days the Keynesian chorus in favor of policy activism is so boisterous that a succinct statement to the contrary rarely gets through – -especially at Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street yarn factory. But here’s what penetrated even Brian Blackstone’s filters:
‘The biggest bottleneck for growth in the euro area is not monetary policy, nor is it the lack of fiscal stimulus: it is the structural barriers that impede competition, innovation and productivity,’ he said.
Needless to say, that is not only the truth but its one that is distinctly unwelcome to the policy apparatchiks in Brussels and the politicians in virtually every European capital. Self-evidently, printing money and running up the public debt are pleasurable and profitable tasks for agents of state intervention. But reducing ‘structural barriers’ like restrictive labor laws, private cartel arrangements and inefficiency producing crony capitalist raids on the public till are a different matter altogether. In the political arena, they involve too much short-term pain to achieve the long-run gain.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on October 17, 2014.

297 Congress Members Have Earmarked $3.8 Billion for Organizations Tied to Them or Family Members

Remember back when Democrat Congressman Jim Moran, U. S. Representative for Virginia’s 8th congressional district gave an interview where he said that Congress is underpaid at $174,000 a year and needs a raise because Americans need to understand that Congress is ‘the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world’?
Well, check out what the ‘board of directors’ has been up to.
According to watchdog groups Legistorm and CREW – Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – a total of 297 members of Congress have earmarked $3,776,001,807 for organizations that are connected directly to them or to their family members.
For just one example of how this works, check out this research into the conflicts of interest and crony dealings of Dem. Rep. Rosa DeLauro here – and she’s just one example.
Other interesting tidbits:

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on October 11th, 2014.

Meet The World’s First “Undercover, Super-Secret Central Banker”

First a secret “Doomsday book“, and now this?
Flash back to those days in September 2008 when the financial system was on the verge of collapse and when first Lehman failed and then AIG was knocking on heaven’s door. While the story of the former has been written, it is the still incomplete history of the latter that is the reason why Hank Greenberg, the largest shareholder of AIG at the time, is suing the US government for bailing out AIG, alleging the US exorted shareholders when it provided a $182 billion bailout to the insurance company whose Joseph Cassano had seemingly sold insurance on every insolvent mortgage-related security: a strategy which worked in a rising market and led to a near systemic catastrophe when the market crashed.
We won’t debate the merits of Greenberg’s lawsuit, which is currently raging in court under STARR INTERNATIONAL COMPANY V. UNITED STATES, U. S. Court of Federal Claims 11-cv-00779 (it should be painfully clear by now that neither AIG nor crony capitalism as it exists now would have survived had Goldman and its NY Fed branch not extended several trillion in taxpayer funds to preserve the status quo), however we will note one thing: recall that when the terms of the AIG bailout first made waves in 2010 courtesy of Darrell Issa we found out something pecliar: none of the members of the Fed had any intentions on making their procedure public.
As Reuters reported back then:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 10/09/2014.

Getting Conned by CONs

In the healthcare industry, a certificate of need, also known by the acronym CON, is an anticompetitive licensing restriction allegedly designed to promote fair competition by requiring hospitals to demonstrate the need for certain projects and services in order to receive governmental permission for those projects and services.
Under a CON scheme, a hospital – -let’s call it Hospital X – -that wishes to expand its facilities applies to a state health planning agency for a CON. Nearby hospitals – perhaps Hospital X’s competitors, Hospital Y and Hospital Z – may oppose Hospital X’s CON application. An administrative law judge (ALJ) reviews Hospital X’s CON application and supporting evidence, holds a hearing on the matter, evaluates the parties and witnesses, and determines whether Hospital X has met the statutory criteria for the issuance of a CON. These criteria differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

This post was published at Mises Canada on October 8th, 2014.

Crony Capitalism Is Kryptonite to Democracy and the Real Economy

When the machinery of governance is ruled by the highest bidders, democracy is dead.
Last week I described the sources of America’s America’s terminal political dysfunction. The engine of this terminal dysfunction is crony capitalism, the incestuous and oh-so-profitable marriage of the Central State and monied Elites.
Gordon T. Long and I continue our discussion of the perverse incentives and consequences of crony capitalism in a 25-minute video program.
Gordon argues that America’s Crony Capitalism closely resembles the Roman Tribute System, an arrangement that skims wealth and concentrates it at the top of the power pyramid.
Vast financial crimes are met with fines. Guilty parties do not go to jail but rather the corporation pays a fine. Billion-dollar crimes are assessed million-dollar fines– a percentage that closely mirrors a Tribute System. The government makes money through enforcement but not prevention. Corporations make illicit fortunes with the confidence that the government will settle for a small slice of the wealth stripmined from the people.
The fines for financial skimming operations act as a form of tribute to the Central State: the State and its corrupt elected officials and regulators turn a blind eye to the pillage of the citizenry via financialization schemes, and then skim a tribute via fines and campaign contributions.


This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 05, 2014.

Monsanto’s ‘zombie wheat’ case reveals serious legal vulnerabilities in business model

Monsanto’s business model is falling apart right in front of their own face, because the biotech firm blatantly disrespects the property rights of farmers, contaminating their fields with unauthorized genetically modified seeds. These unapproved GMO seeds inevitably cross-contaminate farmers’ fields, effectively destroying their yields. That’s exactly what happened in Oregon last year when some unauthorized “zombie wheat” from the Monsanto Company went from the lab and intermixed with a farmer’s natural wheat. The debacle disrupted wheat exports as Japan and South Korea blocked shipments. A contingency of farmers have joined forces and sued Monsanto.
Monsanto may finally admit to cross-contaminating farmers’ wheat Although the details of the case have been kept private, Monsanto did acknowledge that an “agreement in principle has been reached, but not finalized.”
Dave Murphy, founder of Food Democracy Now, is encouraging the farmers not to settle but to stand their ground. This case could establish a new precedent forbidding Monsanto and other biotech firms from cross-contaminating farmers’ crops. “Monsanto never settles unless they’re seriously vulnerable, and the farmers and lawyers involved in this case should reject any settlement,” said Murphy. “Contamination of farmers’ crops has been an integral part of Monsanto’s business plan, and these farmers need to gain strong legal protections from future contamination events, which are happening daily in farmers’ fields all over the world.”

This post was published at Natural News on Monday, October 06, 2014.

‘Cancer Vortex’: Medical industry profits pre-empt healthcare

I’ve reviewed two of Ken Anton’s books:
Popsicle Man is a novel form to share real-world history of US oligarchs with Emperor’s New Clothes’ obvious crimes centering in war and money Cancer Vortex provides similar powerful history of the medical oligarchs who block medically and legally proven cancer cures in order to protect industry profits in the annual billions (here, here, here, here). Ken explains more in this article, reprinted with his permission:
Medical Industry Profits Pre-empt Healthcare
The US healthcare industry is run by a Medical Cartel which explains why it is the most expensive in the world, yet provides less services than other advanced economies.
A strict protocol was established for cancer treatment involving just three procedures: surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Where innovators outside the tightly controlled Medical Cartel tried to introduce alternative treatments such as herbal formulas, special supplements, foods or complete nutritional programs, the AMA and FDA labeled these procedures quackery, harassing the owners, raiding their clinics and in some cases prosecuting them in the courts; whatever was necessary to shut them down.
Why such an aggressive attitude towards natural, non-invasive therapies? Basically, the cartel cannot tolerate competition from low cost, non-patentable therapies even those with scientific proof of actually curing cancer. The cozy relationship between the Food and Drug Administration (the primary government regulator) and Big Pharma is well known, as is the revolving door between the top echelons of each.

This post was published at Washingtons Blog on October 4, 2014.