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Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life.  The money is the gravy.
    —    Bette Davis
[It normally takes seven to seven and a half years of retirement for the average American to “recover” all of the funds paid into their Social Security retirement funds during their forty odd years of work.  I’m well over half-way there and looking forward to the gravy!    —    kmab]
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On This Day In:
2021 Four Down, Three To Go
It Still Ain’t
Boosted
2020 Three Down, Four To Go
Twenty-Four ‘Til You
2019 Two Down, Five To Go
2018 Year One, Done!
2017 First Day Of Retirement!
2016 Revere And Criticize
2015 Global Climate Change May Test This Statement
2014 Adaptability Won
2013 Disappeared
2012 Fuller
Life On The Range
More Classics
2011 Stoned Again?
2010 Insubordination… And That’s Why I Love Her!
Losing – Week One

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The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.  But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.
    —     Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
2021 Hold That Thought
Got Love?
2020 Everyone I’ve Ever Met
A Secret Chord
2019 A Big “IF”
2018 Silence Presence
2017 Feeling Small Standing In Front Of My Shelves
2016 Show Willing
2015 If He Only Knew…
2014 Dared To Love
2013 Strong Kung-Fu
2012 Two Tribes
2011 Made Any Assumptions Lately?

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One of the many advantages of being a loner is that often there’s time to think, ponder, brood, meditate deeply, and figure things out to one’s satisfaction.
    —     Andrea Seigel
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On This Day In:
2021 A “Modest” Goal
I’ve Had Enough
2020 BLM
2019 Courage And Patience
2018 Push The Envelope
2017 Ents
2016 Are You Sure?
2015 Distracted
2014 What It Takes
2013 We Are
2012 Utopian
2011 Seen Any Black Swans Lately?

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Americans are in a cycle of fear which leads to people not wanting to spend and not wanting to make investments, and that leads to more fear.  We’ll break out of it.  It takes time.
    —     Warren Buffett
It’s never paid to bet against America.  We come through things, but its not always a smooth ride.
    —    Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
2021 Sift And Stir
Some Oaktown Beat
2020 Role Reversal
Time To Defend The Constitution (Part I)
Time To Defend The Constitution (Part II)
2019 Right Or Wrong
2018 Open Doors
2017 When It Deserves It
2016 Expiation For Rest
2015 You’ll Get Through It
2014 A Special Kind Of Fall
2013 Very Rewarding
2012 MIB3 – The Team Is Closer Than Ever
Yet
2011 Little By Little

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We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads.  But to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both.
    —    Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2021 Broaden The Circle
The Phone Keeps Ringing
2020 Stay Gentle
2019 Immoral #45
2018 From My Soapbox
2017 The Single Most Effective Thing For Health
2016 A Trumpet Solo
2015 Potential Is A Heavy Burden
2014 Fear Not, Weep Not
2013 Half Way There
2012 Sacrificed Any Lately?
2011 The Value Of One’s Character
2010 Intervals
On Being Human
Non-predictive Emergence
Events
Bodily Functions
Standing Thoughts
Sent Home Is Better Than Fixed

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All the old history was written for the amusement of the ruling classes.  The lower classes couldn’t read, and their rulers didn’t care about remembering what happened to them.
    —     Francis Zappa
As quoted by his son:  Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2021 Together Forever
Think It Over
Small But Fun
2020 Still Learning
2019 Almost Hallmark
Beyond All Reason
2018 Daydreams And Wanna-Be’s
Or Work For #45
2017 Summer Pale
2016 Ain’t It Funny
2015 At Both Ends
2014 Whiner(s)
2013 Just Passing Through
2012 Dog-gone Heaven
2011 Occasional, Sad Results

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It was recognized that free trade in goods, though to be continued, was likely to be much less important to rich countries in the future than freedom for international and transnational telecommunications.  Now that factories (except in low wage areas) were bound to become more and more automated, people in the rich northern one-third of the world would mostly be in white collar jobs where they would be working with their imaginations rather than their hands.  But people in such jobs would not necessarily need to live near their workplaces.  What should be the nationality and tax position of a Belgian dress designer who lives in Monte Carlo and St Moritz in the winter, at Stratford-on-Avon in the spring, and Corfu in the summer, and does his work by daily telecommunication through a portable console to colleagues and computers at the largely automated textile factory at Volgograd where he works – who becomes, in fact, a telecommuter?
    —     General Sir John Hackett (et al)
From: “The Third World War: August 1985
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On This Day In:
2021 Still A Work In Progress
An Innocent Man
2020 Three Stooges
2019 #Impeach45: Halt The Slide Into Tryanny
2018 Expecting Profit
2017 In Spite Of The President
2016 And Sets
And My God For His Graces
2015 About Character
2014 Your Gain
2013 Look Up
2012 Count Me In
2011 Pirates Four, Three Songs
Sir Charles
Look First, Not Last
2010 Par-a-diddle

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The wars of the late nineteenth century – the American Civil War, for example and the Franco-Prussian War – were wars of the railway, the telegraph, breech-loading small arms and tinned rations.  The seas were dominated by the ironclad.  At the beginning of the twentieth century the Russo-Japanese War show to any who cared to learn the dominance on the battlefield of the spade, barbed wire and automatic weapons.  The First World War rammed home the same lesson, in a war in which the internal combustion engine, artillery, the submarine, air power and armoured vehicles became the dominant features.  The Second World War was one of worldwide mobility on land and sea and in the air, of total mobilization of population and industrial reserves, of sea power and of air forces.  It ended in the shadow of the nuclear weapon.  The Third World War was widely expected to be the first nuclear war – and perhaps the last.  It turned out in the event to be essentially a war of electronics.
    —     General Sir John Hackett (et al)
From his book:  “The Third World War: August 1985
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On This Day In:
2021 The Correct Answer Will Be In The Form Of A Question
Listen Up
2020 Testing To Open The Economy Safely
2019 Or Thought I’d Thought
2018 Go And Dare
2017 And Wealth A Poor Substitute For Ability
2016 Neither Darkness Nor Shadows
2015 It Took Roots
2014 Hard Evidence
2013 Full Participation
2012 Roving (Again)
Ooops, Again
2011 Why Not?

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Russia is still contending with the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Russia can meddle in Ukraine at the margins, but threats to fully invade and occupy a country of more than 44 million people aren’t credible.  That big a move would cost too many Russian lives and too many rubles for a chronically weak – and weakening – Russian economy.  In recent months, Belarus provided the latest example of the post-Soviet demand for fundamental change and the need to shoot people to keep protests under control.  In the most recent presidential election in Moldova, a Harvard-educated economist toppled a pro-Kremlin incumbent.  Last year, Turkey’s backing for Azerbaijan dealt a humiliating defeat to Russian ally Armenia in a region that Russia once dominated.  Beijing is increasingly competing for influence with Moscow among the former Soviet Central Asian states.
    —     Ian Bremmer
From his opinion piece:  “The Risk Report: What game is Putin playing?
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  dtd:  21/28 June 2021
[It seems the “threat” of invasion was a little more “credible” than Mr. Bremmer believed (the editorial was from 2021).  IF the West continues to support Ukraine and IF Putin doesn’t resort to tactical nukes, it appears Mr. Bremmer will ultimately be proven correct that Russia bit off it bit more than it could chew (let alone conquer).    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2021 Or Faith In A Creator…
It Seemed The Taste Was Not So Sweet
2020 Nearer My God To Thee, By George
I’ve Got To Keep Working On It
2019 Laugh With Me
2018 Both Sides, Mr. President?
2017 Republicans Better Wake Up
2016 Truth Telling
2015 To Be Effective In The Modern World
2014 A Little Cover
2013 Binding
2012 Lift
2011 Another Good Movie, Another Excellent Book
miSFits
I’m Just Not Sure

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In absolute terms, moreover, the mass and volume (to say nothing of the cost) of all that was required, particularly in fuel and munitions, to maintain an army in field operations at an intensive rate against a similarly equipped opponent, was now very great.  It had taken a quantitative jump since the Second World War.  Warfare in the Middle East in the seventies had shown this very clearly, if on relatively small scale.  It was just no longer possible, at the rate at which stocks could now be exhausted, to sustain intensive operations of war for months on end.  Head – and equipment – counts were no longer the true measure of an army’s capability.  Formation in large numbers could be a liability rather than an advantage unless they could be kept effectively in action.
The Soviet war-fighting philosophy, from whatever origins it may been evolved, was in the circumstances of the 1980s exactly right.  It enjoined the initiation of total and violent offensive action, swiftly followed through to the early attainment of a valuable objective.  The position of military advantage thus secured would then be exploited by political means.  Speed was everything. The corollary was that failure to secure the objective in good time must result in a thorough-going reappraisal, in which to continue to press towards the same end might very well be the least sensible course.
    —     General Sir John Hackett (et al)
From the “future-history” novel:  “The Third World War: August 1985
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On This Day In:
2021 Facing Life
70’s Sunshine Sound
2020 #IncompetentTrump And His Pandemic Briefings
#IncompetentTrump
2019 I Hope So
2018 Painted Into
2017 Prayers, Miracles And Lottery Tickets
Roman View
2016 Dignity And Grace
2015 Is It Warm Enough For You
2014 What The Right STILL Wants
2013 Embrace Serendipity
2012 Your Order, Please
2011 Well Enough Anyway

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The Fed has had almost no success gently bring down inflation once an economy has started to overheat.
The long-run threat (facing the economy) is that we will cease to be one effective country.  Whether that’s a failure of public investment in everything ranging from collecting the taxes that are owed – where there will be $7 trillion in taxes that are owed but not paid over the next decade;  that is a huge loss to the government  …  [and] a huge source of injustice because most of the nonpayment comes among the highest-income Americans.  Whether it is the fact that at the early stage, we were dependent on other countries for masks, and we were not well prepared for a pandemic, despite the fact that there had been repeated warnings that a next pandemic would come.  Whether it is the fact that it takes half an hour longer on the schedule to fly from Boston to Washington that it did when I first started taking the trip regularly 40 years ago.  This falling-apart of society is our greatest long-term threat.
I think another important part of the calculus is that when governments lose control over money, people tend to lose confidence in them.  Progressives need to ponder the fact that when they’re not able to keep inflation under control, they can pay a very large political price.
    —     Larry Summers
Former Secretary of the Treasury
In an interview with / by:  Eben Shapiro
The interview was titled:  “The Leadership Brief: Inflation worries are keeping Larry Summers up at night
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  dtd:  21/28 June 2021
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On This Day In:
2021 Questioned By Life
If There’ll Come A Time
2020 Trying To Grow Pearls?
2019 Instantly Turned
2018 Sitting
2017 No Right Way
2016 Still Ticklish
2015 Maybe Sooner Than You Think
2014 The Path Of Mastery
2013 Love’s Ignorance
2012 Here’s To Enjoyment
2011 Not Just The Facts, Ma’am

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Every day, in countless ways, the competitive position of each of our businesses grows either weaker or stronger.  If we are delighting customers, eliminating unnecessary costs and improving our products and services, we gain strength.  But if we treat customers with indifference or tolerate bloat, our businesses will wither.  On a daily basis, the effects of our actions are imperceptible;  cumulatively, though, their consequences are enormous.
When our long-term competitive position improves as a result of these almost unnoticeable actions, we describe the phenomenon as “widening the moat.”  And doing that is essential if we are to have the kind of business we want a decade or two from now.  We always, of course, hope to earn more money in the short-term.  But when short-term and long-term conflict, widening the moat must take precedence.  If a management makes bad decisions in order to hit short-term earnings targets, and consequently gets behind the eight-ball in terms of costs, customer satisfaction or brand strength, no amount of subsequent brilliance will overcome the damage that has been inflicted.  Take a look at the dilemmas of managers in the auto and airline industries today as they struggle with the huge problems handed them by their predecessors.  Charlie [Munger] is fond of quoting Ben Franklin’s “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  But sometimes no amount of cure will overcome the mistakes of the past.
    —     Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
2021 Core Strength
Thinking Of You
2020 Rising Danger
210 Day Health / Weight Update (Apr 2020)
2019 Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat
2018 Just Two?
2017 Living Without Love
Good News!
2016 At This Moment
2015 Still Dreaming
2014 Good Wins
2013 Before
2012 Look To This Day
2011 One View Of Man

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Conversations about democracy, technology and the economic dominance of surveillance capitalism are now inseparable.  Looking ahead to the year 2030, I put my bet on democracy because it’s the best idea humanity has ever had, despite all of its obvious imperfections.  When I wake up every morning, I’m thinking about what I can do to contribute to this so that our societies mobilize to double down on democracy.  This begins with saying out loud that the current state of affairs is intolerable.  As citizens, we begin by joining together in our communities, organizations, associations, political networks to demand an end to commercial surveillance.  Our lawmakers hear from the tech lobbyists every day.  They need to feel us at their backs instead.  We are poised at a new beginning, and not a moment too late.
    —    Shoshana Zuboff
From her interview:  “Living up to the promises of the digital age
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  dtd:  1 / 8 February 2021
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On This Day In:
2020 Still On The Obstacle Course?
Thunder
2019 Expecting A December Correction
2018 Dominoes II (Update From Last Year’s Post)
2017 Dominoes
2016 Itchin’
2015 In The Not So Distant Future
2014 Sources
2013 Three Essentials
2012 Just Looking
2011 Religious Lessons
2010 View From Under The Bus… (A mid-term report card on the Obama Administration. Long, but still worth reading for historical perspective.)

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Personal autonomy and democracy are under assault from surveillance capitalism.  And yet today’s tech industry is largely unregulated, having emerged in the midst of an era of deregulation and defunding of enforcement agencies.  This has allowed tech giants to behave as unelected governments.  Their communications systems have become central to our way of life, as the impact of this week’s Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp outage underscores, but they have their thumb on the scale, amplifying content that triggers fear and outrage because doing so maximizes profits.
The sad truth is that the unregulated tech industry produces products that are unsafe.  Congress has faced the challenge of dangerous products in the past.  When the food and medicine industries were unsafe, Congress created the Food and Drug Administration.  When petrochemical companies dumped toxic waste indiscriminately, Congress approved a series of environmental laws.  Just like tech companies today, the affected industries claimed they would not be able to operate with regulation, but that turned out to be wrong.  Now we need something like an FDA for technology products, designed to prevent harmful technologies from coming to market.  For qualifying products, it would set safety standards, require annual safety audits and certification as a condition for every product, and impose huge financial penalties for any harms that result.  There should also be amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to create better incentives for Internet platforms.
Congress also needs to protect people’s privacy from relentless surveillance.  My preference would be for Congress to ban surveillance capitalism just as it banned child labor in 1938.  (The many industries that employed child labor complained then that they could not survive without it.)  At a minimum, Congress must ban third-party use of sensitive data, such as that related to health, location, financial transactions, web browsing and app data.
The third area for legislation is competition, where Congress needs to update antitrust laws for the 21st century.  The six-hour outage of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp illustrated for many one downside of monopoly:  absolute dependence on a service.
All of this may be true in Mark Zuckerberg’s mind, but the design of Facebook’s business model suggests that growth and profits are the only factors driving “the company we know.”
Based on the evidence of the past five years, one might say that Internet platforms have launched an attack against democracy and self-determination.  It is a battle they will win unless voters and policymakers join forces to reassert their power.  We have been losing the battle since 2016, but I would like to believe that this week was a turning point.
We have the power.  The question is whether we have the courage to use it.
     —     Roger McNamee
From the article:  “Facebook Will Not Fix Itself
Appearing in:  Time Magazine; dtd: 25 Oct / 1 Nov 2021
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On This Day In:
2020 Two Quotes Which Remind Me Of Our Lame Duck President
Still Running
2019 I’m Up For Trying
60 Day Health / Weight Update (Nov 2019)
2018 #PresidentBoneSpur
2017 My Staggering Confusion
Zapped!!!
2016 And Bloggers?
2015 Ethical Energy
2014 Are You Likely To Defend It?
2013 Might As Well
2012 The Long And Short Of It
2011 Bravery

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“We cannot ignore the effect of rapid development of the local economy on the loss of wildlife habitat,” Professor Zhang Li, a renowned expert on Asian elephant migration at Beijing Normal University, wrote on his Weibo page.  “Clear waters and green mountains are as valuable as mountains of gold and silver.  A healthy and complete ecosystem is the cornerstone of sustainable economic development.”
    —     Charlie Campbell
From his article:  “China’s herd of wandering elephants may be climate-change migrants
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  dtd:  2-9 August 2021
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On This Day In:
2021 Sustainable Development
Duke, Duke, Duke
2020 #IncompetentDonald Is A Clear And Present Danger
VOTE – “We The People” Can Save America
2019 Why #45 Is Fated To Endanger Our National Security
2018 Dehydrated
Dehydrated II
2017 And Some Of Us Have Books
2016 I See No Proof
2015 Whither Tea Party?
2014 Nothing Is Known Absolutely
2013 Decoration Time
2012 The Beatitudes
2011 Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
2010 Back On The Asphalt
No Sweep – Rangers Win Game 3 by 4 to 2
Greek Myths For Kids

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