THE LONE BEAR LETTER #11

100 Daze!

100 Days   For me, the most obvious problem in last 100 days is the inability of the Trump administration to govern. President Trump decided not to attend the White House Correspondents dinner. Instead, he spoke at a rally of his own supporters in Philadelphia. This action typifies President Trump’s temperament. He is still, in his mind, running a negative campaign, rather than running the country. By the latest polls, he has the lowest rating at 36%, of any other president for a first 100 day period. He has lost almost all support from independents and Democrats. However, his base is holding, for now, with the promise of jobs, jobs, jobs! His plan is to rebuild the economic architecture of the past. Actually, his plan seems to change, based upon whomever he has last talked to, or the last television program he watched. Not being addressed, is new technology and globalization, the market forces that have shrunken the middle class and increase the number of unemployed and underemployed poor. While the rest of the world is moving to carbon alternatives, our President is building pipelines. President Trump brags about his accomplishments in the first 100 days. However, most of his accomplishments are by executive order. Most executive orders have reduce regulations such as the Clean Power Act, protection of healthcare pre-existing conditions, privacy of credit card information and EPA protection of drinking water, streams and rivers. He has been unable to eliminate and replace Obama care, build a wall or have Mexico pay for it, initiate a travel ban or to punish sanctuary cities. His main accomplishment was to point a conservative to the Supreme Court, save 200 jobs out of 1000 at Carrier plan in Indiana. The economy in the first quarter was up less than 1%. Welcome to the new economy.

President Trump’s inconsistency would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous. One moment he is threatening war with North Korea and the next minute he’s proposing that he would be honored to meet with its leader. Recently he commented  that the economy would benefit with the government shutdown in September. Soon after that he said it might be a good idea to break up the big banks. The Trump administration has no experience in governing and his advisers appear to be just as incompetent. President Bush had a high popularity rating early and because of the September 11 terrorist attack. However he had his Katrina moment, when he failed to face a national emergency with competence. What will it be, that will cause Trump to face a Katrina moment? I doubt if his 36% approval rating will last much longer, as it becomes obvious that the jobs are not coming and he reneges on almost all of his campaign promises, I expect his base within a year or so, will falter to a 25% rating. When this happens, combined with Russian implications (see below) in his administration, I believe all hell will break loose on the downside!

AND YET THE MARKET IS UP!

Although the Republicans have shown no ability to govern, the stock market has risen some 3000 points, since the Trump election. There is an illusion, in my opinion, that what Trump is offering, is good or big business, which should be good for the economy. I disagree! The tax plan President Trump is proposing would eliminate the estate tax and alternative minimum tax. This is self-serving to the only the elite  and would have saved President Trump approximately $31 million on his alleged 2005 tax report. He wants to bring down the corporate tax to 15% from 35%. The highest tax rate would be reduced from 38% to 35%. This discrepancy, in my opinion will lead individuals to form sub chapter S Corporations to receive the lower rate. It is estimated that the Trump tax plan will add approximately $7 trillion to the $19 trillion deficit. Trump continues to blame the Obama administration for this large a deficit. However, most of the increased deficit was for bailouts of the banks, whith some $3 trillion caused by the Bush Administration. How to make up for the deficit? The Trump administration suggests that a 4% growth rate in the economy will make up the difference. The Laffer Curve isn’t called laughable without reason. Whereas, President Reagan use the Laffer Curve in an economy that was just entering a technological breakout, the Trump era is one in which the market forces of globalization and automation should be addressed. So, it’s a mystery to me why the market is rising. The good news for corporate CEOs is that their average pay as of 1992 was $2.7 million a year, rose to $14 million a year in 2000 and now it is estimated to average $21 million a year. I continue to argue that income inequality and lack of regulation, will lead to future economic debacles. The banks had $67 trillion derivatives in the 2008 debacle. They now have over $350 trillion in derivatives. This time, a bank bailout will be impossible.

WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING? Ten Points

Sure, it’s easy to criticize, as the Republicans did during the Obama administration, but it is a whole other thing to come up with positive solutions. What do I suggest?

1) Here number one on my list is gerrymandering. The way the House of Representatives are chosen is unconstitutional. They do not represent their constituency. Democrats consistently get more votes than Republicans, but still lose their seats in the House of Representatives.  2) Voter ID also must be addressed. It targets the poor as they have more difficulty getting identification and banking privileges than the average American. There has been consistent scientific documentation that voter fraud is almost nonexistent (Unlike Trumps claim that 3 million people committed voter fraud). 3) The Citizen’s United ruling must be reversed. If corporations are individuals they are sociopaths. They are only interested in profits, executive pay, takeovers, leveraged buyouts in the increase of their share price, no matter how many workers have to be fired and communities damaged. (See four movies below to see where this could lead us) 4) Glass Stiegel must be reinstated. Banks like Goldman Sachs can sell questionable securities to buyers while they go short in their own account as they did with CMO’s in the 2008 crisis. Banks and investment banks must be separated for the same reason that the law was enacted in the 1930s. Banks do not have a conscience. Like many corporations they are only motivated by profits not the common good.  Dodd/Frank laws must be enforced. As mentioned earlier the banks have over $350 trillion in derivatives outstanding. Interest rates on  Bank credit cards are over 20%. This should be against the law. The public must be protected. 5) The country must develop carbon alternatives for energy production. This is what China is doing and the rest of the world. For instance Germany has passed a law that there will no longer be production of the internal combustion engine after 2030. Are you ready GM and Ford?  6) There are two kinds of companies that have addressed cyber security. One is companies that have been attacked and the others are companies that don’t know they have been attacked. Not only is this important for business, but also for government, as the recent hacking by Russia of our last election demonstrators.  US should sponsor free Internet throughout the United States. Technology and innovation is one way to compete in this world. 7) The other way to compete worldwide is through education. New York is proposing a plan that all qualified students leaving high school (if family income is below $100,000 a year) can receive a college education for free. Also, there should be a job training program, similar to that Germany, for those who do not wish to go to college, but wish to enter the trades. 8) Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Below $10 an hour is nothing more than another form of serfdom or slavery. Raising the minimum wage, in my opinion, well actually help the economy with increased consumer spending. 9) Here is the one place I agree with President Trump. We need an $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Damn the deficit! This will create jobs, promote the general welfare and secure a safer America. 10) As Bernie Sanders continues to harp, the United States is the only developed industrial nation in the world that does not have free health care. In my opinion, the only way to keep down costs and maintain adequate quality of service is through national healthcare. We can start incrementally, by including children up to 12 years old into Medicare. We can modify Obama care, but the long run, in my opinion; I see National Health Care as the only solution

RUSSIAN SPYING?

The guerrilla in the room or in this case the elephant, which nobody is taking seriously about, is the Russian involvement with the Trump administration. There is no question that General Michael Flynn was in contact with the Russian prior to the election and received fees from the Russians, which he did not report. The Trump’s administration is saying that this man was already vetted by the Obama administration and does not have any documentation of their own vetting. This seems to be highly unlikely, as Flynn was national security adviser. Admitting incompetence would be a better alternative, than being caught in a lie. News sources indicate that this responsibility goes all the way up to as high as the vice president. Other administrative connections to the Russian connection are also being investigated by the House, Senate and FBI. In my opinion, what these agencies find, maybe earth shattering to the Trump administration. In addition, there is every reason to believe President Trump must disclose his annual tax reporting. It is paramount that the nation sees for itself if there is any conflict of interest with the president receiving income or loans from Russia, that may be influencing his decision making. There could be some problems under the emolument act which reads as follows: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.ARTICLE I, SECTION 9, CLAUSE 8

  CITIZENS UNITED AT THE MOVIES! 

“I can only hope that it never happens. However, the effect of Citizen United reminds me of a three science fiction movies!!!

Rollerball. 1975 movie called Rollerball. It stars James Caan as the sports hero Jonathan, Maude Adams as his ex-wife and John Houseman as Mr. Bartholomew, a high-level executive of the Energy Corporation. The film takes place in 2018, where the word is run as a global corporate state. The Energy Corporation is a global energy monopoly based in Houston, which controls access to all transportation, housing, communication and food on a global basis. Energy Corporation sponsors Jonathan’s team. Jonathan’s wife, Maud Adams was taken away from Jonathan by a corporate executive, which simply exerted his power and took her. The game Rollerball is a substitute for all team sports and for warfare. It is designed to bring euphoria to the masses. While the purpose of the sport is entertainment, Mr. Bartholomew, describes it as having a “distinct social purpose”: to show the futility of individual effort. In order to defeat the individual star Jonathan, The Energy Corporation simply changes the rules, so that Rollerball soon degrades into senseless violence, which nullifies any individual effort with humiliation. In the movie Jonathan emerges victorious against the Big Corporation.  This seems unlikely!”

Handmaid’s Tale, a 1985 book and now a TV Special, The Handmaid’s Tale, a work of  fiction by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The novel is set in a near-future in New England, in a totalitarian theocracy, which has overthrown the United States government. The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic military dictatorship formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America. It begins with a staged attack that kills the President and most of Congress with a Christian fundamentalist revolutionary uprising, called the “Sons of Jacob”.   The revolution suspends the United States Constitution, under the pretext of restoring order. The new regime, the Republic of Gilead, forms a new militarized hierarchical regime, based on Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism, which creates newly created social classes, with only the elite ruling. In this society, human rights are severely limited and women’s rights are even more curtailed, as women are forbidden to read. The story is told in the first person by a woman called Offred. The character is one of a class of women kept by the ruling class for reproductive purposes and known as ‘handmaids’.”

Elysium. The 2013 film offers deliberate social commentary, which explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulationhealth careworker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues. In 2154, Earth  most of the earth’s citizens live in poverty, on the edge of starvation, and with little technology and medical care. The rich and powerful live on Elysium — a gigantic space habitat located in Earth’s orbit. Elysium is technologically advanced with some of its technology including Med-Bays: medical machines that can cure all diseases, reverse the aging process, and regenerate new body parts. A long-running feud exists between the wealthy residents of Elysium and the citizens of Earth. The earth and its multitudes are destined to perish in pollution, drought and rising seas.”

Phase Three, (In the not too distant future) 1) All classes except the oligarchy will disappear in the financial crisis, sometime after 2018. Congress, this time, will not bailout the banks, as conservative Republicans will reject any government sponsored program. Also, without any strict regulations, the banks will be so deeply in trouble with uncollectable loans and some $350 trillion in derivatives outstanding, that a bailout this time, will be impossible. The banks will close. The New York Stock Exchange will close. The United States government will fail and all functions of government will cease to exist. The only ones that will have any money and power will be the oligarchy. Class warfare will at last come to an end, as the oligarchy will dominate. 2) All national governments worldwide will fail. The oligarchy will then be composed of approximately 2000 selected families worldwide and their Corporations will rule the world. The 2,000 families will hold their estates in walled castles, protected by a paid army. 3) All land and businesses in the world will be owned and ruled by the oligarchy. 4) Most people will be unemployed and uneducated. All those, because of their needed skills, that will have a job, will be Corporate employees and will be designated as serfs or slaves. 5) The world will be at peace at last, as law order will prevail. 6) The oligarchy will eventually move away from earth to either ‘sky lab type 2001 Space Odyssey satellites’, or when it becomes possible, to the moon or Mars. The earth and its multitudes are destined perish in pollution, drought and rising seas.” (Yes I made this up! “Sometimes fiction can be a truer reality, than reality itself”

TWO NEW BOOKS:

  • HOMO DEUS: Yuval Noah Harari, author.“There was a time when the oligarchy needed the public to fight their wars, to manufacture their goods, produce their food and buy their products. That time is quickly coming to an end. Wars can no longer be fought on either a conventional or a nuclear basis. Wars are too expensive, impractical and are dangerous to all. Manufacturing of goods and food can now be done by a few, with automation. The oligarchy no longer needs the public to buy its goods, as it is completely independently wealthy. It will no longer be to our advantage to serve the common good. Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution.
  • THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE CLASS CONSTITUTION. Why economic inequality threatens our republic.
    For most of Western history, Sitaraman argues, constitutional thinkers assumed economic inequality was inevitable and inescapable—and they designed governments to prevent class divisions from spilling over into class warfare. The American Constitution is different. Compared to Europe and the ancient world, America was a society of almost unprecedented economic equality, and the founding generation saw this equality as essential for the preservation of America’s republic. Over the next two centuries, generations of Americans fought to sustain the economic preconditions for our constitutional system. But today, with economic and political inequality on the rise, Sitaraman says Americans face a choice: Will we accept rising economic inequality and risk oligarchy or will we rebuild the middle class and reclaim our republic? The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution is a tour de force of history, philosophy, law, and politics. It makes a compelling case that inequality is more than just a moral or economic problem; it threatens the very core of our constitutional sy

Carl M Birkelbach

4/30/2017

 

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