The Irrationality of holding drug dealers responsible for customer overdoses

Hearing about the prosecution of drug dealers not just for the dealing itself but for the death of one of their customers when one of those customers dies from an overdose , I have to wonder — what do the prosecutors expect to accomplish by such prosecutions?  Do those prosecutors really expect those dealers to make sure their product is labeled correctly and is untainted with some other substance because of such prosecutions?  If prosecutors are holding dealers responsible for overdoses from improperly labeled drugs that are more potent than described, it would seem that there is some expectations that the dealers will be more responsible in the future in making sure the potency and purity of their product is fairly accurate.  Do they expect that in the future, dealers will start to send samples from their latest batch to an independent lab for analysis to ensure the potency, purity and dosage are correct?  Maybe those dealers will start putting labels on their product that resembles legal drug labels that includes the advice to “be sure to consult with your physician before starting any illicit drug regimen.”  — On second thought, I don’t think that will happen.

But these prosecutions do indicate that the victims of overdoses are precious human beings whose lives deserve to be protected.  However, by continuing to maintain the illegality of some narcotics, the safety and security of drug addicts continues to be left in the hands of career criminal drug dealers.   But it is not a reasonable expectation that the dealers themselves will behave in a reasonable manner with regard to the quality of their product.  If the dealers were rational they would make sure their product wouldn’t kill their customers in the first place.  If dealers were rational they likely never would have chosen their profession in the first place that, regardless of any charges specifically for the deaths of their customers, tends to carry extremely stiff prison sentences just for act of carrying on with their daily grind.  If lawmakers and prosecutors really care about the precious lives of the drug users then they should not put the users lives in the hands of the career criminal dealers in the first place.

What should be clear by now is that the only way to protect users from tainted or overly potent drugs is to decriminalize all drugs and provide a means to properly regulate the manufacture and distribution of narcotic substances.  The manufacture could be done at cost by the government and the distribution could occur at designated public centers that would have the added benefit of being able to provide counseling and a direct route to treatment and rehab.  The cost of manufacturing the drugs and the distribution centers could be paid for through the enormous cost savings reaped from no longer having to pay for the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.  And another added benefit of removing the manufacturing of narcotics from the criminal element would be the protection of the environment from the harmful effects of some drug manufacturing as is the case with meth.  Additionally national forests and parkland would be spared the damage from illegal marijuana farms.

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If legislators support Right-to-try then shouldn’t they also legalise all drugs?

These right-to-try experimental pharmaceutical laws open up a whole host of interesting ramifications in terms of what follows from the conclusion that people should have the right-to-try even under the limited circumstances of the recent legislation. Why should terminal patients be the only ones allowed to try some experimental drug, for instance? If the principle is that the proper role of government is not to protect people from themselves, then wouldn’t it follow that an otherwise healthy adult should be allowed to try an experimental drug for, say, the common cold?

We can also easily venture into the question of narcotic drug laws and ask why should the government be allowed to prevent someone from using a psychotropic substance for whatever purpose the citizen chooses — whether it be for medical, recreational or other reasons? It would seem that if the legislators were operating under the rule of moral principles, then if they applied those same principles to both pharmaceuticals and currently illegal narcotics and all patients and citizens, then every adult should have the right to try whatever they want for whatever reason.

While I think there can always be found some utilitarian reason or reasons for banning an activity where otherwise the only seeming potential victim is the person engaging in the banned activity, there can also always be found a potential ulterior motive for the government to ban the substance or activity. For instance, while the government and politicians tout all the supposed harmful effects of illegal narcotics on the country, the war on drugs itself provides enormous funding and power to law enforcement and prisons — both public and private bondage for-profit prisons. And I don’t think the cotton industry would like it too much if the farming of industrial hemp were legalized in this country– as a result we are given the utilitarian cover story for banning industrial hemp farming as it supposedly would cause too much difficulty for law enforcement to differentiate between the narcotic marijuana plants and the non-narcotic industrial marijuana hemp plants. My response to that argument is that in a supposedly free country it is not the job of the citizens to limit their freedoms in order to make the job of law enforcement easier, it is the job of law enforcement to figure out how to do enforce the law without impinging on the freedoms of the citizens.

The Artisan Solution to Robots and Automation

by Glen Wallace

The government needs to redistribute wealth not in order to decides what people do or do not want, the government should redistribute in order to make it possible that more citizens can choose what they want or do not want from a selection of goods and services.   It is not right that others should sacrifice consumer choice and live in austerity and poverty in order that a few rich people have the ability to choose from a selection of ultra high end luxury items.  The Venus Project, however, makes the mistake of deciding what people will want under a given circumstances of scarcity or lack thereof.  The Venus Project makes no accommodations or contingency plans for circumstances that arise where citizens do not behave in accordance with how Jaques Fresco predicts they will.  What happens when someone, likely many people, want the improved but scarce version of the mass produced product?  Will the Venus Project ‘decide’ what people want and outlaw rare, perhaps handcrafted, versions of the robot mass produced common product?  Will such a legal system turn ordinary artisans and their customers into outlaws in a black market economy?

What I envision, and much prefer, is a scenario where a symbiotic relationship ensues between those who derive emotional and psychological satisfaction from work in general, what they produce in particular and the customers who want their product.  More specifically, I’m talking about a thriving economy of artisans producing hand crafted products and customers more than willing to spend money acquiring those products.  You might be thinking ‘well, doesn’t such a market already exist?’  Yes, it most certainly does, but I’m trying to come up with a solution to the wave of automation, especially with robots, leading to the potential mass displacement of workers.

While many of those displaced workers will be more than satisfied not working — assuming they will still be able to receive at least the necessities of life, and some of the niceties, I think many displaced workers will not be satisfied without a job.  A great number of people seem to derive a level of self worth from a job and get a sense of accomplishment and being needed, from having a job.  I’m concerned that even if there is some sort of guaranteed minimum income for all citizens that provides all the necessities and even plenty of niceties of life, many of those citizens will have some serious problems not having regular work.  Well, that’s where I think artisan, handcrafted cottage industries could potentially fill a need both for those wanting work as an end in itself, and consumers who want something unique and special and not made by a machine.

But to get to that point of having such a new age industrial revolution where everything from the old world becomes new again in a sort of futuristic steampunk artisan economy, a significant amount of wealth redistribution will be required.  As automation increases, without government redistribution intervention, there will be a strong tendency towards further wealth concentration in the owners and renters of the robots and other forms of automation.  As employees fall off the payrolls due to automation, obviously those displaced workers will no longer receive paychecks.  What used to go into the hands of the employees now goes into the few hands of the owners of the means of production.  If we just let those owners of automated production just keep the bulk of all their new found wealth, there will not be much left to go around to the displaced workers for them to buy much of anything — much less hand crafted artisan products.

But, if the government were to heavily tax the owners of automated production and redistribute that money to the workers displaced by the automation, the displaced workers could, if they wish, start small home based businesses building unique handmade products.  Some of those new small business could then hire a few artisans to grow the business a little, while others would be satisfied just working by themselves in a one person operation.  And given that many people would like a unique hand crafted product, instead of a mass produced one,  demand would come from both the owners of those cottage industries using their newfound revenue to shop their colleagues stores  and anyone receiving redistributed income.

 

The Group Ownership of America

by Glen Wallace

After the resignation of US Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price, once again I’m hearing people on the television tell how he misused ‘taxpayer dollars’.  I’ve written about this before, but apparently the message didn’t get around that well.  So once again I repeat, once the government has received the dollars paid by a taxpayer, those dollars no longer belong to the taxpayer.  It seems like a simple and clear enough concept, but the widespread misuse of the term ‘taxpayer’ continues.  So, if the money spent by the government does not belong to the taxpayer at the point of transaction between someone in the government spending some of that money, why do so many politicians, writers and news reporters insist on continuing to imply that the taxpayer’s have ownership of those dollars spent?  Some better terms to use would be ‘public dollars’ or the ‘people’s funds’ or the ‘citizen’s dollars’.

The payment of income taxes is just one form of revenue that the federal government relies upon to pay its expenses.  To my knowledge, however, there is no quid pro quo legal relationship between paying of those taxes and having that revenue be spent either in the interests of the taxpayer or at the direction of the taxpayer.  The taxpayer has no special standing compared with a citizen who, whether due to a tax loophole or deduction or low income, pays no income taxes.

I sometimes wonder if the misuse of the term ‘taxpayer’ is a deliberate attempt to maintain the illusion of a contractual understanding between paying taxes and how those revenue dollars are spent.  Maintaining the illusion could benefit those in power who are able to avoid contributing more to the government’s revenue than they currently are.  Once the common citizen realizes that income tax is merely one of many potential sources of revenue and not a payment for services for themselves or for the country, they may start to creatively look for those other potential sources of revenue — especially revenue derived from taxing wealthy individuals, corporations and institutions.  After all, if the ordinary workaday citizen starts thinking that maybe this country could be run with little or no money coming from the hourly and salaried worker, then they might start searching in earnest for those other revenue sources.

And those other potential sources of revenue are many:  tariffs are one — we could really leverage our trade deficit by increasing tariffs.  There would be a double benefit since not only would we be getting all that new revenue, but an incentive would also be created to bring back more manufacturing and the associated jobs to America — since a company that makes stuff here wouldn’t have to pay the tariff.  A high frequency trading machine tax could also be implemented that would directly tax Wall Street while leaving Main Street largely alone.

Additionally, a federal asset tax on billionaire individuals and corporations could be implemented that would act much like local property taxes, only this new property tax on billionaires would apply to all their assets, not just real estate.

And I think there are many more potential revenue sources outside of ordinary income tax, but for now I’ll list just one more:  While I’m a strong proponent of conserving our nation’s natural lands in as close to a natural state as possible and protect those lands from exploitation for natural resources, but if all those efforts at conservation on federally owned lands fails and the decision to exploit a parcel of land has been made, then I think we should at least act to maximize the fiduciary benefit to the country of that resource extraction on those lands.  But I think there has been and continues to be a long history of acting in a fiscally irresponsible manner when it comes to deriving revenue from natural resource extraction by privately owned companies on federally owned lands.  That needs to stop.

We, the citizens of this country should look at ourselves as an ownership group of a vast real estate empire.  As owners we have to decide on three main categories of use for that land: recreation, conservation, and income revenue.  Of course there can be a lot of overlap between those three categories, but we should always strive to do the best job we can in whatever direction for land use we decide on.

Given that we have representatives in Congress that are supposed to be managing the affairs of our ownership group, we should hold them responsible when they mishandle our real estate portfolio.  While those representatives will maybe get a passing grade when it comes to the first two; conservation and recreation, I think I’ll have to give a failing grade when it comes to income revenue when the land we own is primarily used for that purpose.  From my understanding, when a lumber company or a mining company wants to extract a natural resource from federal lands all they have to do is bid on the mineral rights or timber rights for that land in a no reserve auction, and the winning bidder gets to extract all they want and keep the entire bounty from that extraction, no matter how low the bid is.  There is a reason private landowners do not use a similar process when they decide to open their lands for resource extraction: it is a fiscally irresponsible way to do things.  We the people should be using the same methods to derive income from natural resource extractions that any private landowner would use who is acting in their own fiduciary best interest.

Edit to add:  After completing the above essay I started to think about Puerto Rico and all the hardships they are facing in the aftermath of hurricanes.  Well, we should see ownership as not just in the business sense of the term, but also in the responsibility sense of the term.  That is, we as a country need to take ownership of the responsibility to take care of those citizens in our country when they are in dire need.  Puerto Ricans are US citizens living in a territory owned by the United States.  We as a country need to take responsibility for doing what it takes to help our fellow citizens out whether they are on an island in the Atlantic or our next door neighbors.  There are currently just over 2 million combined active and reserve military personnel in the United States armed forces.  The last I heard there have been only about 7 thousand US troops sent to aid Puerto Rico.  I realize it might not be practical to send a large proportion of those 2 million members to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, but I’m confident we could, without that much difficulty, send over ten times the number of troops currently there.  It seems like conditions there are extreme enough to warrant a large scale deployment to rescue, rebuild and provide food, water, generators and medicine and medical care to our fellow citizens over there in need.

Topsoil Thoughts

by Glen Wallace

What is the timeline of the predicted length of time that industrial scale farming will be able to continue in the midwestern section of the US?  I’m working under the assumption that topsoil is being lost faster than it is being replaced by the current crop cycle.  My understanding is that the soil is being lost quicker than it is being replaced.  I’m concerned that the doom and gloom chicken little sky is falling predictions about topsoil loss may be ignored in a ‘cry wolf’ reaction to other environmental predictions that either haven’t panned out or have not been realized on the time scale predicted by the alarmists.  I’m thinking of the worst case scenarios that haven’t yet come to fruition such as those involving rainforest destruction, peak oil and the gulf oil offshore drilling accident.  However, I think that the near complete loss of topsoil scenario is a real possibility that could pan out as predicted — if so, I think the results could be catastrophic.

Topsoil has a necessarily large content percentage that is organic matter — that is, it is largely made up of living or once living  matter.  Therefore, engineers cannot synthesize topsoil from something non living like petroleum oil or coal.  Current industrial scale farmers are using the ‘savings deposit’ of thousands if not millions of years of grasslands and forest growth and withering cycles that have built up a deposit of many feet of topsoil that will only last so long at the current rate of topsoil spending.  But once it’s gone, there is not enough available topsoil on the planet to replace any near complete depletion of vast swaths of midwestern farmland — even if we had the sorts of equipment to spread all that dirt, which we don’t.  Imagine all the dumptrucks needed to haul all that dirt when you think how even a small city lot garden needs a whole dump truck load to fill it in sufficiently.  But even if we could find all those dump trucks and soil spreaders, where would we find the mountains of topsoil that could be used to spread to sufficient depth over hundreds of square miles of midwestern farmland?  No such mountain of  topsoil exists.  But if there is no topsoil, there will be no crops.  If there is no crops then people will starve and we will be seeing famine.

I got to thinking about this topic when looking at the backyard garden and a particular patch where in a previous year I piled a rather large mound of raked up leaves one fall to cover up a patch of an invasive species of plant.   The place where the mound of leaves was seems to be rather fertile now, but there is no noticeable rise in the level of dirt above that of the surrounding soil.  So, it takes a lot of leaves and plant matter over a lot of years to yield a significant material gain in the mass of topsoil needed to grow crops or any other plant.

So, how many years has intensive, factory scale farming been going on compared to how many years the topsoil was being built up naturally, before the farming began?

Ok, I’ve done a little bit of research on the subject matter since the first rough draft of the above essay, and I still have more questions than answers.  What is clear is that not sufficient empirical study is being paid to the question of topsoil loss.  There should be hundreds if not thousands of regular measurement readings involving poking some sort of ruler in the form of a rod into the ground to measure the depth of the soil until bedrock or hardpan is reached.  We need to find out if the crop waste such as corn stalks and bean plants left to wither on and into the ground is adding less than, the same or more mass and volume to the soil than ‘withdrawals’ by way of wind and water erosion.  Well, maybe that is being done and I just need to do some more reading and research to find out.  But it is a little remarkable how little popular attention is paid to the subject of topsoil loss when one considers the monumental importance of the subject — we all need to eat.  And once the soil gets washed down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico, there is no practical way to retrieve and desalinate all that soil once it reaches the salty seawaters of the Gulf.  The best thing to do is prevent the soil from being washed away in the first place.  I saw a very short documentary on the subject that I will post below that is put out by the Environmental Working Group that gives a glimpse into what is already being done and more that should be done by farmers and legislators regarding topsoil loss.  I think that organization is a good resource on the subject matter at hand and I think I will be looking into their findings and ideas on the matter of topsoil loss.

Environmental Working Group’s ‘Losing Ground’ short documentary about topsoil loss

 

 

Government and Regulations as an advocate for the ‘little guy’

The following is my comment I posted in response to this this article

 

by Glen Wallace

The ‘protected class’ referred to in your article is referring to protection by way of the circumstance of relative wealth. But, what I see as a fundamental oversight by those freemarket advocates in the ‘protected class’ is that some level of protection can be afforded to lower and middle classes by way of the government in the form of rules and regulations. As an example of that oversight by freemarket advocates, I need only present an email from this site (mauldineconomics.com) I received back on May 25, titled ‘Inside: Highlights from Day 3 of the SIC 2017’ that included a brief summary of the Strategic Investors Conference including one short paragraph that stated:

“Regulation was also discussed, with Faber receiving a round of applause for a passionate soliloquy deriding laws and regulations. “It is your duty to fight the government every day,” he said.”

Given the high entry fee to that SIC conference I think it is safe to say that most likely every member of that audience giving Faber a round of applause is a member of the ‘protected class’ protected by the circumstance of wealth. For Faber and his audience there at the conference, I don’t think they understand from a personal experience level, having to rely on the government and regulations to protect them from exploitation and harm by some ruthless capitalist member of the ‘protected class’.

The wealthy typically can afford to live far away from a factory or plant, so no need is seen to have any regulations in place restricting pollution and toxic discharge from those sites — the affluent can avoid the effluent. It is typically the poorer communities that live near those plants and factories and have to breath the air and drink the water that might be contaminated by the sites pollutants. But wealthy freemarket, anti-regulation advocates seem to think — ‘why is there any need for regulations restricting pollution when I get to live so far away from the polluters?’

If Faber, or any of his wealthy audience, wants to buy a bottle of 200 dollar scotch from a storied distillery, I’m sure he has no worry that bottle of scotch might contain toxic levels of wood alcohol even if there were no proper government distillery regulations. But the working class guy who just wants a cheap drink, might have to rely on government oversight and regulations to insure that cheap bottle of whisky he bought is safe to drink — in moderation of course. But it is rich people that can afford the best of everything where a competitive marketplace can often, but not always, substitute for government regulations given the huge importance on a reputation for quality in such a market. But for the rest of us coupon clipping bargain shoppers, who are not protected by the circumstance of wealth, we are often dependent on the power of government to act as a measure against the power of business, to help ensure the products we buy are safe.

While as a leftie progressive I am willing to admit that some regulations are onerous and unnecessary, I have yet to hear a right winger freemarketeer admit that at least some regulations are very valuable in protecting the worker, the environment and the consumer from harm and exploitation by business. I usually hear arguments against regulations along the lines of letting the market decide and just file a lawsuit if harmed by a business instead of imposing regulations.

I then would counter that letting the ordinary market and judicial system be the de facto regulator is horribly flawed insofar as it is reactive, at best, where regulations are proactive. I say ‘at best’ because a business can go on harming the consumer, the worker or the environment for years before enough people notices to file a lawsuit or stop buying their products. And even if they are caught by the marketplace or are sued, the most that often happens is the business just declares bankruptcy and the executives and owners leave with all the millions they gained from all those years of exploitative business practices. And the most that could be hoped for is criminal prosecution in the most egregious cases of harm by a business. But even if there is a conviction in such cases, I am sure it is small solace to the victims. Wouldn’t it be so much better if there were some good regulations in place to proactively protect the worker, the consumer or the environment from harm in the first place?

 

Open letter to Senator Klobuchar regarding price spikes in insulin and other pharmaceuticals and medical devices

by Glen Wallace

Hi Senator Klobuchar, I just saw a feature on the KSTP news featuring some comments by you about the recent run-up in the price of insulin recently. I believe an ideal solution is one you and your colleagues on capitol hill have not even considered legislatively. The solution to spikes in the price of pharmaceuticals and medical devices would be for the government to take over the production and distribution of those pharmaceuticals and medical devices at cost. Currently there seems to be a habit of thinking among healthcare policy makers that traps them into assuming that the only option to getting a needed healthcare product to the patient is by way of the commercial markets.

But there shouldn’t be any barriers to the federal government taking on the role of the production and distribution of at least the medicines and devices that are outside of patent protection. And keep in mind many of the most notorious recent cases of price spikes occurred with products that were already outside of patent protection — including, but not limited to insulin and the epipen.

Also, there is a long standing precedent of the federal government owning and operating the means of production and distribution of a product — the Government Publishing Office, formerly known as the Government Printing Office, has been around for many decades manufacturing, printing, publishing and selling to individuals and institutions everything from books to pamphlets to posters and just about everything printable in between.

Therefore, there should be nothing stopping the Senate and House from mandating the opening of a Government Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Office to bypass the market and get the needed healthcare products directly to the patients at the mere cost of production.

For years now I have been seeing hearings and statements from representatives such as yourself ranging from scolding to pleading of manufacturers to try and keep their prices down. I ask you; who’s in charge here? When I hear only talk from you in the form of scolding and pleading to some Big Pharma executive, it sure looks like it is the Big Pharma companies that are the ones in charge. I thought we were a country of, by and for the people. If they will not bring the prices down, then we the people should engage that American can-do spirit, and make those products ourselves.

And this could be just the beginning — we could start building a medical system that is entirely patient driven instead of where it is now in being market driven. I think people that go into the medical profession do it first and foremost because they care about people. With a patient driven, patient based system we can have as the primary decision makers, about what medical drug or device goes into production and their prices, be those medical professionals that care about the patients and not some bean counting CEO with only a legal fiduciary responsibility to some distant shareholders.

Referenced news story about insulin prices featuring Klobuchar comments

 

 

Why hasn’t Congresswoman Betty McCollum yet cosponsored H.R. 676 Medicare for all single payer act?

I just discovered that congresswoman Betty McCollum has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor of  H.R. 676 Medicare for All bill that has already garnered 112 cosponsors.  Here is the official listing of the co-sponsors.  I thought about this after watching a Jimmy Dore youtube video where he interviews a guy who is primarying against Nancy Pelosi, who is also not yet a cosponsor and who has said words to the effect that she is against single payer.  This makes me wonder if maybe I should primary against McCollum, even though she doesn’t represent my residential district.  That would be a little ironic because congressman Jason Lewis ‘represents’ my district, but resides in McCollum’s district.

Democratic constituents, in these congressional districts that lean so heavily Democratic that the Dem candidate is all but guaranteed to get elected, should see the primaries as brass ring opportunities to get the most progressive candidate possible.  By that I mean there isn’t much of a need in those districts for a candidate to compromise in order to acquire the moderate fence sitters that might get put off by the far left progressive positions of a candidate.  But instead, it seems more so that the opposite has occurred, whereby the constituents of perennial House Democrats settle for progressive mediocrity in electing very conventional neoliberal, corporate friendly candidates.

 

Bernie Progressive Challenging Pelosi In Primary Speaks Out

Progressive Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Is Primarying Corporate Democrat In New York

 

 

Democratic Party Strategy

by Glen Wallace

We need a strong central government imposing regulations to protect the common man from the tyranny of the wealthy.  While, as a leftie progressive, I’m willing to admit that some regulations are onerous and unnecessary, I never seem to hear from a right wingnut regressive admitting that some regulations are helpful and needed to protect the worker, the consumer and the environment from harm or exploitation at the hands of a ruthless businessman.  It seems like the free market set want to create a social political environment where we return to the days of company towns where the residents are considered to have freedom because they aren’t physically restrained from leaving — never mind that the company town is in the middle of nowhere and none of the residents own a car or have a dime to their name that could be used to move out.

Sure, let’s remove the income tax and put in its place a federal property tax on the wealthy that covers not just real estate but any and all assets held by the top one tenth of one percent.

Good regulations are proactive whereas, any competitive marketplace without any regulation, is, at best, reactive in dealing with problems.  I say ‘at best’ because some business can go on harming customers, the environment or workers for years or decades before, or if ever, they get punished in the marketplace for their actions.

The Democratic Party could gain their biggest strength by undermining or outright removing the biggest rallying points for the political right wing.  Democrats could start by eliminating income tax for most, if not all, the 99 percent.  The loss of revenue could be compensated for by increasing the income tax on the top of the top one percent.  Additionally, there are a great number of other sources of potential revenue the could, and should be tapped — high frequency trading machine tax, VAT tax, where resource extraction on Federal lands is a given, the transaction should be designed with a fiduciary responsibility towards the owners of that land — the citizens of the U.S.  Additionally, the power over the ability to create money needs to be returned entirely to the people and taken away from the private Federal Reserve Banking system.  I’m not saying “end the Fed”.  If they want to continue as a industry association where banks can voluntarily join, that’s fine.  But monetary policy should be set by the US Treasury.  While supporters and representatives may claim that the Fed is audited and nothing untoward has been found, I would counter that there still could be something untoward going on with the Fed and its relationship to the American people it is supposed to be looking out for.  While the Fed may have only one set of accounting books, it may have two sets of strategy books.  That is, it may have a public strategy that complies with the Congressional mandate it is supposed to follow, it may have a private strategy that it instead follows that is directed at aiding the Fed’s shareholders at the expense of the American people.  For, instance, had Fed insiders known early in the 2000’s where the housing crisis was heading they could have made some strategic shorts, thus benefiting from the Fed’s strategy to blow up the housing bubble.  Then when the bubble burst, Fed insiders could have had inside knowledge of the QE program and how it would be used to boost commodities and the stock market for which the insiders could take a long position ahead of the rise.

But regardless, Democrats need to look at what is motivating the populist base of the Republican party that leads them to vote the way they have.  And then have an answer that might just persuade them to switch sides.  Remember, most of those Republican voters are not rich.  Hired disinfo agents may try to fire up that middle to lower class Republican base by complaining about wealth redistribution.  But I find it hard to believe that base will get worked up into much of a lather when hearing about how some sherry swilling, tailored suit wearing, manicured male with soft hands that never have seen a callous in its life, with a sixty thousand dollar Patek Philippe watch sitting just above those soft hands, has to fork over more in taxes — especially when that would mean those working class Republicans get to avoid paying income tax altogether.

Additionally, where regulations are concerned, show how good regulations protect the consumer, the environment and the worker from unscrupulous business owners and how a strong government acts as a measure against such businesses.  Without a strong government there is a power mismatch between the little guy and the tycoon.  But where there is unnecessary, onerous regulations, Democrats should work hard being seen to end such bad regulations while continuing to strengthen, tweak, enhance old good regulations while enacting good new regulations

 

 

Too big to fail banks are still a problem

by Glen Wallace

A decision needs to be made regarding financial institutions as to whether they are a capitalist private enterprise or a public utility — they shouldn’t try to be both at the same time.  Well, a bank can be both at the same time but we saw the consequences of attempting those dual roles in 2008.  I’m concerned though that the government regulators and politicians have not learned the valuable lessons of the great recession.  Instead there seems to continue to be an intermingling of poorly regulated or completely unregulated speculation on risky derivatives by the same financial institutions providing both needed business and personal lending, and also management of retirement and life savings of individual citizens.  If, say, the speculations on derivatives were to fail spectacularly, as they did for the failed financial institutions in 2008, would any jeopardizing of large bank standing on the losing end of those bets, amount to a corresponding jeopardization of the flow of lending capital keeping the business world running and the funds of savers entrusting their savings and investments in those jeopardized banks?  If so, then it seems that would be prudent to take measures to completely separate banks engaging in traditional lending and cautious, well regulated investing,  from investment banks that are willing to take on the risks associated with derivative trading.  A possible world needs to be envisioned where we imagine that a given bank fails, and decide whether letting it fail will jeopardize the entire economy of the country and therefore will need to be bailed out by the country or if it will be largely just a loss for the shareholders of the bank.  If it is the former, then either a separation of the risky investment banking element from the conservative traditional banking element needs to be done, or the bank needs to be broken up into smaller pieces in a manner similar to the actions by Teddy Roosevelt on Standard Oil Corporation.  We need to keep taking those measures until we wind up not having to bail out any financial institution, outside of insured deposits, regardless of the scenario.