Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Peanut Gallery

Statements, comments and forecasts that have no substance, but just might turn out to be relevant.

1. Six ME countries have severed ties with Qatar. Trump is taking credit and so he should. Sometimes keeping things simple is the easiest way forward. Perhaps the president should have stayed in the background but thats not always his style. Qatar has been a sponsor of terrorism for years. At a minimum, confronting them head on places this problem on the table and talking to them via Kuwait keeps the negotiating option open. Good move by Trump. COMMENT: This is a departure from the Obama doctrine (Kerry and the State Dept used to talk to Hamas via Qatar). In the Arab world occasionally bulldozer diplomacy is more effective than lip service. The Trump national security team appears to get it. 

2. GPF: There are reports that Syrian Kurdish forces are attacking Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State. This was expected. What was not expected are reports that Syrian government forces are preparing to attack the city as well. Reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Al-Masdar News say the Syrian army has crossed into Raqqa province and is garrisoned roughly 50 miles from the city. But according to an unconfirmed report from by Lebanese Al Mayadeen TV, the army has actually reached the city itself. The assaults, nearly simultaneous, cannot be a coincidence. COMMENT: this combined assault could indicate a new understanding between Moscow and Washington. It appears that Trump has given his NS team the go ahead to get the job done. This will be a long and bloody campaign.

3. The United States is preparing to go to war in North Korea. The Americans have assembled a huge maritime and air armada in the vicinity. Obviously a diplomatic solution would serve all sides. However, any diplomatic solution at this time would look like a North Korean capitulation. COMMENT: This will be a moment of truth for China. They understand that the US intends to use substantial force to get the job done including the possible use of an EMP device. An attack on NK will potentially send world markets into a tailspin, so stay tuned.

4.Yuval Steinmetz (Israeli energy minister) :“Even if there’s a 50 percent likelihood that climate change and global warming are caused by human activity, it is our duty to act to minimize risks,” Steinitz posted on Facebook Thursday, the same day as Trump’s announcement. “The Paris accords were a rare occurrence in which the world united — save for Syria and Nicaragua — to care for the welfare and health of future generations.” COMMENT: Anybody who does not believe that the planet is in dire straits, should simply step outside and smell the coffee. This phenomena is putting our kids and grandkids in danger and needs to be addressed urgently.

5. So Trump has decided not to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. TOI: "Disappointing Jewish and Evangelical supporters in Israel and the US, but not really surprising anyone, Trump set his signature underneath the exact same “presidential determination” that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama made before him. The president has already publicly urged a most unhappy Netanyahu to rein in settlements, and openly differed with him over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s readiness for peace." COMMENT: Israel's supporters were ecstatic at Trump's words of friendship. Now apparently Trump doesn't want to upset the "peace process" applecart. Been there...done that!

6.Mark Yusko: "According to the CDC, the fertility rate in the US is at its lowest level since records began in 1909. This, coupled with the fact that 10,000 people turn 65 each and every day in the US, means growth in the working-age population will remain at record lows... thus weighing on any economic expansion." In addition by removing labor costs, automation is driving down the price of core goods. But no longer is this just in manufacturing. In a recent study, PriceWaterhouseCooper found that 38% of US jobs will be automated by 2030. COMMENT: Automated vehicles, automated manufacturing...this does not bode well for Trump voters or Chinese manufacturers. lets hope these folk don't get left behind. Leadership is required!

7.WPO: Ricky Best was stabbed to death last Friday on a Portland light-rail train when he and two other passengers tried to calm a man yelling anti-Muslim slurs at two teenage girls. Best and the two other stabbing victims have been hailed as heroes. Now, Portland police say that as Best lay helpless, someone apparently made off with his wedding ring and backpack. The suspect is described as a “white male with a blonde hair mullet, wearing a black Jordan Brand baseball cap, a black T-shirt featuring an image of Marilyn Monroe and an American flag. COMMENT: God Bless America!

Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out - Bullyville.com

Bullying builds character like nuclear waste creates superheroes. It's a rare occurrence and often does much more damage than endowment -  Zack W. Van

That millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane - Erich Fromm, The Sane Society

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trump-A Peanut Gallery Special Edition-Part One

Statements, comments and forecasts that have no substance, but just might turn out to be relevant.

General Michael Flynn is spilling the beans. The Trump team is freaking out over the leaking boat and the US is preparing for war on the Korean Peninsula. 

Michael Flynn is making a deal with the FBI. You can take that thought  to the bank. In order for him to to get immunity he has to give up somebody higher on the food chain. The president. All the FBI leaks lead back to Flynn and the bad news for the Trump Train is that the investigation is much more advanced than the leaks might indicate. The science behind the leaking is straightforward. Once the investigators confirm a fact, it is leaked at an appropriate time putting the cat amongst the pigeons. The targets are then interviewed and entrapped trying to cover up and have to make a deal. Other targets are followed to see whom they contact...and so the investigation widens. The two main channels in the investigation are collusion and financial...specifically money laundering.

GPF: The U.S. Navy has announced that the USS Nimitz will leave Bremerton, Washington, on June 1, for the Western Pacific. This is the third carrier battle group to be sent to the region – enough to support a broader military mission – and it will take roughly a week to get to its station, after which it will integrate with the fleet. So here’s the situation: Soon the United States will have its naval force in waters near North Korea. It already has strategic bombers in Guam, and it already has fighter aircraft in Japan and South Korea. The US is preparing for war in preparation for a situation where North Korea does not back down. A moment of truth for the administration, the tough talk and the markets.

Recently I was asked by a member of the anti-Trump media on my thoughts as regards the way forward in Trump saga. My advice was simple: Supporters of Donald Trump have no moral clarity. It does not bother them that this already married man chews on a tic-tac before grabbing married or unmarried pussy or his obsession with kissing young beautiful women. It does not bother them that he mocks the disabled or labels immigrants as rapists. It does not bother them that he is selectively disdainful of Goldstar families or of Senator John Mcain's military service. Climate change to them is a Chinese hoax.

So what would they understand? The great leveller that most of humanity understands is a monetary subterfuge. In the Trump believer world world a financial con man reverberates...even at the bottom of the barrel. Which brings us to the money laundering part of the investigation. Perhaps this is the most damming part of the collusion between the Russians and the Trump machine. The numbers are the numbers, Trump refuses to release his tax returns and his poodle Kushner meets in secret with the head of VEB Bank, a Putin Poodle. You can run baby but you cannot hide. Stay tuned.

I've always loved movies about con men. I think con men are as American as apple pie - Bill Paxton

One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don't go into government - Donald Trump

A Criminal always returns to the scene of the crime - proverb

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Peanut Gallery

Statements, comments and forecasts that have no substance, but just might turn out to be relevant.

1.Trump-type politicians are taking a hammering in Europe. First Holland and now France. The "revolution" is mutating. Apparently Europeans want change....."Anything but a Trump-type" change will do. The traditional European attitude of disdain for anything American is clearly being reflected in high voter turnouts. The silhouette of Russian election interference  also looms in the background. COMMENT: The struggle between nationalism and globalism continues while Europe's multi-cultural approach is highlighting the lines of polarization. Next up are Italy and Germany. Their choice is between the devil and the deep blue sea. Tolerate Islamic jihad or tolerate the empty promises of racist right wing politicians. 

2.China has moved 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea. It has also refused permission for North Korean ships laden with coal to unload their cargo. NK News says the price of petrol in North Korea jumped 83 percent by the end of last week. it appears that China is slowing exports of oil to North Korea (The other option is that NK is hoarding gasoline in case of a military confrontation). COMMENT: Perhaps the US pressure on China is paying dividends. This storm in a teacup 'crisis' suits the Trump administration at this time.  
The less talk about Russia in the media the better. 

3.Analysts estimate that by 2030, self-driving cars and trucks (autonomous vehicles) could account for as much as 60 percent of US auto sales. Are they safe? They are not, but they are much, much safer than human drivers! First and foremost, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 90 percent of all traffic accidents can be blamed on human error. Next, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 29% of the total vehicle traffic fatalities in 2015. And finally, of the roughly 35,000 annual traffic fatalities, approximately 10 percent of them (3,477 lives in 2015) are caused by distracted driving.
Remove human error from driving, and you will not only save a significant number of lives, you will also dramatically reduce the number of serious injuries associated with traffic accidents – there were over 4.4 million in the United States during 2015. COMMENT: A rough ride for Insurance, truck drivers, first responders and more.

4.TOI: Recently released documents show that the Allied forces were aware of the scale of the Holocaust some two years earlier than previously assumed. They did little to stop the deaths or rescue the victims. The unsealed United Nations files show that the US, UK and Russia knew as early as December 1942 that two million Jews had been massacred and millions more were at risk of being killed. COMMENT: The refusal to take in Jewish refugees by many countries just amplifies why a strong Israel in todays world is a crucial component to the survival of the Jewish people.

5.Truckers from the city of Moscow and the surrounding region have joined the Platon trucker protests against new state and national road taxes, BBC reported April 18. These demonstrations, which involve blocking roads and other actions, are now taking place in varying degrees in 80 regions across the country. The Kremlin has imposed a media blackout on the strikes. The truckers now claim 600,000 of them will be out of a job if the tax hike remains in place. COMMENT: This is a symptom of the economic stress in Russia created by the fall in the price of energy and could easily spread to other parts of the economy.

6.  Canadian real estate: Ontario is following British Columbia’s lead, promising to introduce a tax on foreign homebuyers that the province hopes will help cool the frantic housing market, easing concerns about a potential bubble in Canada’s fastest growing urban region. The 15% “non-resident speculation tax” was among 16 housing measures the provincial government announced Thursday, which also included a promise to expand rent control, allow Toronto to impose a tax on vacant homes and use surplus provincial lands for affordable housing. COMMENT: Houston, we have a problem...

7. WSJ: What would a country’s stock market do if its neighboring country threatens to attack it with nuclear weapons? Hit a record high, of course. South Korean shares reached all-time highs Thursday, brushing aside concerns about a potential military conflict on the Korean Peninsula. The market’s benchmark Kospi has risen 4% since the beginning of April, when President Donald Trump warned that he could take unilateral action against North...COMMENT: Follow the money. Tuesday is election day in South Korea.

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” 

― Alexander Pope

“We fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living.” 

― Stephen King

How awesome it would be if a liars pants actually caught fire....

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Peanut Gallery

Statements, comments and forecasts that have no substance, but just might turn out to be relevant.

1.When James Comey stated before congress that there was a criminal investigation into co-operation between the Trump camp and the Russians, he put the cat amongst the pigeons...deliberately. All the leaks emanating from the intelligence services are designed to sow panic amongst potential targets. It works....and sooner rather than later it will be every man for himself. General Michael Flynn has probably been offered a deal and is chirping to whomever will listen. Note that he is the only target that has not volunteered to testify before the intelligence committee. The plot thickens! 

2.The IDF is preparing contingency plans for a post ISIS era. ISIS will eventually be crushed  as a militarily power (although I suspect they will continue to live on in the minds of potential terrorists). Other groups will replace them on the ground...Al Qaeda and Hezbollah jump to mind. With one potential caliphate weakened, the Shiite caliphate, Iran and its satellites Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others will try and seize the advantage. COMMENT: Israel and its new coalition partners in the Sunni world are readying for this new threat and we can expect to see more activity, especially on the Golan, in Syria and Lebanon.

3.TOI: "The head of a Lebanon-based United Nations agency that promotes development in Arab countries resigned Friday, after the body she led was ordered by the UN secretary-general to remove from its website a controversial report that charged Israel has established an “apartheid regime” guilty of “racial domination” over the Palestinians." The report was compiled by Richard Falk, a Princeton professor with a history of Israel demonization. COMMENT: The Trump administration is finally starting to function. Go Nikki Haley! A victory for truth!

4 Amos Gilad, the former head of the Defense Ministry’s political affairs bureau, credits Israel’s security with its relationship with its Arab neighbors. “All our security services have great relationships with Arab countries. That’s an incredible asset for Israel,” he says, referring to Egypt and Jordan, as well as “other” unnamed Arab nations. COMMENT: This also includes the relationships with Arab communities in Judea and Samaria. "Tough" guys like Trump would do well to take note of this.

5.Foreign ministers from 68 countries are convening in Washington on March 22 to discuss the fight against the Islamic State, Reuters reported. The meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against the group – the first since President Donald Trump's election – will focus on Mosul, where Iraqi security forces are locked in a major battle against the Islamic State, and the upcoming fight for the group's de facto capital of Raqqa. COMMENT: Another indication that despite the noise, Trump's national security team is operational quietly "oblivious"  of the fact that they are implementing the Obama plan. 

6.During a 2012 election debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama laughed at the idea Russia posed any threat to the United States. “Not Al Qaeda, you said Russia,” Obama continued. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.” COMMENT: Now who's laughing? Words matter...the truth matters even more...but misguided intellectual arrogance in a US president can be deadly!

7.The State of Texas and the Samaria Regional Council signed a cooperation agreement Wednesday to share information and expertise on agriculture and water technology. The head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan said, "This is a significant move that sends an unequivocal message to those attempting to boycott Israel. COMMENT: The Trump footprint is definitely having a positive effect in Israel.

8.There are more millionaires than ever in the United States. As of the end of 2016, there were a record 10.8 million millionaires nationwide, according to a new study from Spectrem Group's Market Insights Report 2017. That's more than ever before and marks a 400,000 person increase from the previous year. COMMENT: The new American middle class and the American dream compliments of debt and a devalued dollar!

9. No Peanut Gallery would be complete without a comment on the healthcare debacle. Its time for Trump and his supporters to sober up and reach out to democrats in order to repair Obamacare. The ACA is here to stay and regardless of the hogwash and tweets emanating from the White House, Trump now owns Obamacare. He would do well to understand that when it comes to healthcare there are no Republicans or Democrats. 

As every scuba diver knows, panic is your worst enemy: when it hits, your mind starts to thrash and you are likely to do something really stupid and self-destructive -  Daniel Dennett

Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us - Jane Austen

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt - Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Age of Transformation

Believe it or not, we are only at the very dawn of a new hi-tech revolution...a period in which change will continue to accelerate until it comes at us blazingly fast. This change will have both political and individual consequences that will range from the positive potential betterment of humankind to a situation of extreme danger to society as we know it today.

When world population jumped from two billion souls in the 1950's to about 7 billion today, the powers that be realized that the only way for the US to survive this throng of humanity, was to compete with them. They also understood that the US advantage lay in the fact that they were were the masters of innovation but were unable to compete with the cheap labour in poorer developing countries. Thus globalization was born under the heading of "our technology and know-how for your cheaper goods". On the surface this sounded pretty good. At the end of the day, though, technology is replacing jobs...and not only manufacturing jobs!

Employment and job creation are also changing extraordinarily quickly. Lets take a look at the impact of driverless cars. Estimates are that by 2030, 25% of vehicles will be autonomous. I happen to believe that percentage will be much higher. John Mauldin: There are 250 million cars and trucks on US roads today. there are 3.5 million truck drivers, 75% of whose jobs (at least) will be replaced. Ditto for the 250,000 taxi drivers and 160,000 Uber drivers, not to mention the 100,000 Lyft drivers. 

Mauldin continues - "Estimates are that automated driving will reduce accidents by 90%. That will obviously reduce insurance costs but will also decimate the ranks of auto insurance agents. Each year 1.3 million people are injured in vehicle accidents, that’s a lot of hospital visits. Eventually, 90% of those injuries will go away, reducing demand on hospitals and eliminating jobs. We won’t need as many policeman, firemen, and ambulance drivers at accident scenes, either. The total job loss just in the United States might approach 10 million."  And that folks is just one industry! The Bank of England: The adoption of driverless cars will leave a massive dent in the car insurance market, forcing insurers to team up with car firms as they transform their business.

The Guardian: "New technology is revolutionising modern farming, but this brave new world of robot farms and hi-tech sensors could have consequences for rural livelihoods. Around the world, but especially in the developing world, food and farming systems continue to rely on 20th century technology. But this is changing. The same information technologies that brought us the internet and transformations in medicine are now revolutionising farming." It’s a new era for agriculture and one that does not bode well for middle America. For example, Japanese company Spread has recently announced that robots will carry out all but one of the tasks required to grow tens of thousands of lettuces each day in its indoor automated farm. Hopefully the talking heads and decision making bigwigs are aware of the breathtaking transformation we are facing.

In simple language, billions of people are going to be left behind when this transformation arrives. We either find a way to move forward together or humanity will be draining a different swamp.

I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination - Jimmy Dean

Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world - Malala Yousafzai

Without a struggle, there can be no progress - Frederick Douglass

Saturday, March 18, 2017

“It just doesn’t matter”

Author: Mark Diamond

 I don’t disagree with many of the thoughts and essays we are so fortunate to receive from you such as the most current piece  regarding the “Great Anti-Semitism Panic” (which you just sent to me) but my concern is everyone is missing the most important point. Trump should not be in power and the damage he is doing will be felt for years to come and therefore he must be stopped with every legal means possible using the checks and balances in the U.S. system which for once is there to help rather than hurt a challenging situation. The issue is not if Trump has directly caused more anti-Semitism or not, the issue is what does his approach do to the state of the world order for all races and for the safety of person kind and does he perpetuate hatred. 

I think Liberals, Conservatives, left wingers and right wingers, so all of us, always look to the answers which are most consistent with our world view because we are busy and want to believe our views make sense as we do not have the necessary time to do the complete research required to challenge our basic assumptions.  So instead of being critical and questioning of our assumptions, we look for information to support them. But are we not better off to read articles and books that counter our viewpoints?  It’s time for left wingers and right wingers to be open to each other’s ideas because ultimately this makes us a stronger society where we can apply real facts rather than emotions to the world issues.

 So, let us do this now with respect to Trump and let’s not deal in ideology but with facts:

As someone that is just a basic camp director I can tell you that after speaking to 30 families in Mexico in a country that since WW2 has been as good to the Jews as any country worldwide, Netanyahu’s statements about the wall put the Jewish community 50 years back. This community had to take out full page ads indicating they do not support the Israeli Prime Minister in any way since for understandable reasons anti-Semitism spiked because of such comments. This is not helpful to Israel or to the Jewish People nor to the Mexicans. Without Trump in power this clearly would not have occurred. Some of you may feel that this is not a cause of Trump but this is where I feel the biggest point is being missed. As the President of the United States, Trump’s actions affect every other politician worldwide which creates a domino effect. We see this in Europe now where racist politicians are using Trump’s name to garner power as well.  

Closer to home, professionals and experts in Canada and the U.S who work in the Canadian Jewish community say that antecdotal evidence shows an increase in anti-Semitism since the election but the facts will not be available for six more months. But this is a red herring as the only thing that matters is that one of the reasons (not the only reason) that Trump was elected was a result of his intolerant views. The facts do show that the year before Trump was elected there was a spike in racism in North America.  It’s a chicken and egg thing- is Trump increasing racism or was he elected because of it. WHO CARES- IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!  

For my American friends in New York, I have had three families in New York tell me that for the first time in their lives they are scared and that there is a permissiveness now that makes it acceptable  to be racist, against Jews and against anyone that is different.   They feel that their children have been impacted to a degree that is unprecedented.   

When you see the anti-Islam sentiment taking hold, and where for the first time ever Muslims are murdered in their place of worship in Quebec city (ironically those killed were members of a very tolerant and progressive community ), again this would not have occurred if not for the Trump Era. Those same murderers and racists and anti-semites previously would have talked quietly about their views but in the past would have  decided not to act, but now our world leader is empowering them to act. It seems like Trump is allowing not only the worst of American society to lead us but that it’s empowering the worst of all the world to do the same.

When you see the riots in Montreal and the three bomb threats at Concordia against Muslims, the cemetery desecration, the bomb threats across North America, all since Trump took office, I think this is no coincidence. Whether Trump inherited this situation, or is creating it, we need a leader that will not encourage and exacerbate this horrific situation  When Jewish Community Centers around the world, including in Toronto, have bomb threats it’s easy to say there was no bomb but I cannot imagine the pain and horror in the hearts of mothers and fathers right now wanting to instill in their children the value of a Jewish education but wondering if doing so could put their lives in jeopardy. It doesn’t matter whether a bomb goes off and it doesn’t matter if there have been other years where such threats occurred. Can we dismiss the 120 threats against Jewish Organizations since Trump took office, or we can admit the obvious?   

The issue at hand is not that Trump is anti-Semitic or racist; we can argue that point. It’s the fact that he is a narcissistic and illiterate bully who encourages worst in all of us to come out. It’s the fact that he is ill and says things that are so outrageous that is makes it acceptable for everyday people to act in even more outrageous ways. It’s the fact that he limits freedom of expression and demonizes anyone that does not agree with him. Every dime he made was by not paying his trades, or his taxes and by destroying everyone in his path. Having someone in office with such a weak moral code allows everyone else to rationalize their behaviour. By setting a lower standard, given his position, he empowers behaviour which would otherwise be seen as inappropriate. If there is one key role for a president, it is to maintain the tenuous balance in the world, as there will never be world peace; the goal is to hold that balance in check by acting with intelligence, and a high moral code that the rest of us can try to live up to.  

Thank goodness, we see the money raised by Muslims for the desecrated cemeteries in the U.S.A. and as usual we see the Jewish Community reaching out in Montreal, Quebec and Toronto to show as much support as possible. Maybe that will be the good that will come of this horrific situation. Even the Iman of the Quebec City mosque which was the site of the killings reminded us of the humanity of the alleged killer, noting that this murderer also had ruined the lives of his own family. Trump’s fear and all our fears of terror attacks are grounded in fact but the approach in dealing with those facts whether you agree or disagree must be done in a way that promotes tolerance and is grounded in effective strategies not just angry outbursts (or tweets).

 If you read an excellent book called “The Muslim Tide” you will learn that Canada is a model for the world in terms of how we deal with immigrants and our approach to religious tolerance. This book challenges some basic assumptions on terrorism that are often based on emotion and assumption rather than fact.  And while I don’t have any issue with anyone saying that Trump has some good ideas,  any President must articulate his approach with substance, facts and a proper moral code.   If it comes to pass that there is someone from one of the banned countries who perpetrates a terrorist act, we will hear Trump say “  told you so”, without recognizing that he is in the process of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by giving excuses for the polarized, and sick segments of society to act out.   In fact, by putting overt bans on immigrants from certain countries, he helps ISIS and Al Qaeda recruit new members, thereby making them stronger!   

Every day we hear of acts that fan the flames of xenophobia such as when a man kicked and assaulted an airline worker for wearing a jihad saying “Trump is here now” and “he will get rid of you”.  Maybe those things were already happening but when you can quote the President whether you are Conservative or Liberal you can easily see the concern. We used to say when Islamic extremists go after the Jews the Christians will be attacked next. Well when every day Americans go after Muslims or Mexicans, and paint any group with one brush then any possible minority is next, whether it be the LGBTQ community or others.

It doesn’t matter if the racism is the same or worse since Trump took office. It matters that the most influential leader of the western world is both explicitly and implicitly endorsing these new behavioural norms.   

The only point that matters is that Trump needs to be limited in every way so that these four years he does as little damage as possible. It is our responsibility to help guide the discourse so that we can limit his ability to effect negative change as a result of his mental disorder that has been described by many professionals as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. (definition attached). 

(note- since writing this article, Trump has accused the former President of wire tapping his phones without having any evidence of it having taken place, and as this situation has unfolded, he has turned to blaming Fox News as the source instead of taking responsibility for his actions.  It only gets worse).  
Note: For a definition and characteristics of Narcissitic Personality Disorder please read http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20025568

Thursday, March 16, 2017

When Polarization gets Dangerous

The Roman Empire probably believed that they had invented the wheel when they increased the money supply by removing the silver content in their coins and replacing it with copper.  When the silver content of the coins reached zero, the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 a.d. The elitist Romans were invaded by hoardes of barbarians in search of a better life. These days we just vote.

In 1971 an event known as the "Nixon shock" took place. The famous (or infamous) Nixon shock was a series of economic measures undertaken by United States President Richard Nixon, the most significant of which was the unilateral cancellation of the direct international convertibility of the United States dollar to gold. Simply put, the politicians removed the disciplinary shackle of gold from our coins (notes) and placed themselves in charge of the money supply. At the time US national debt was $398 billion, the Dow was about 1000, the money supply was $658 billion and being a millionaire was the American dream. Today the national debt is $20 trillion, the Dow is at 21000, the money supply is $14 trillion and being just a millionaire is a nightmare. Removing the gold from our currencies has made the rich...stinking rich, the middle class is in tatters and the poor live in "inner cities" and rural America. More polarized than this picture is difficult to imagine.

With this in mind in January I wrote "Hillary Clinton declared "We are stronger together!" Donald Trump stated “People talk about how we’re living in a globalized world, but the relationships people value most are local—family, city, state and country." Those two sentences elegantly describe the fault line that is splitting entire nations and continents right now." Polarization is an exclusively man made peculiarity conceived by human nature in the form of greed, arrogance, lust, fear and temptation amongst other excesses. 

The fault lines have been exacerbated by a high tech and medical revolution that, believe it or not, is only in its infancy (I will be writing about some of the ramifications next week). The name of the game for our kids and their kids.... is a good education. The educated and street smart are pulling away from the majority of folks. The Trump plan to create more debt will only emphasize the pain. Multiply that by the planned deficits in Europe and other countries, and we have a prescription for troublesome times.

Its a fact that at least 80% of the US budget goes to social security (25%), Medical benefits (25%), Safety net programs for the poor (10%), Defence (16%) and interest on the debt (7%). What does that leave for discretionary spending, tax cuts and infrastructure? Not much. Acclaimed analyst Richard Russel provided a no-option "quick fix" twenty years ago by saying "The creation of debt with expensive dollars and repayment of that debt with devalued dollars is an easy and temporary political solution to the problem." Another way of phrasing the above so that we all understand is -  "Kick the can down the road". The politicians have devalued our buying power and the barbarians are cloaked in a Trojan horse awaiting the right polarizing moment. This is an perhaps a reality for some of us to contemplate in more sober moments.

“Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us.” 
― Donna Tartt

“Sometimes you hit a point where you either change or self destruct.” 

― Sam Stevens

Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction - Erich Fromm

And I know I'm paranoid and neurotic, I've made a career out of it - Thom Yorke