EnduringSense

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Plato

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John Kerry Equates the Dangers from Climate Change and Terrorism

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 24, 2016

Perhaps no one in the Obama Administration better epitomizes the loony-left then Secretary of State John Kerry.  This past week Kerry was at his “best” when he compared the dangers from terrorism with climate change.

On Thursday, Kerry attended a conference at the State Department to Counter ISIL.  Two days later he was in Vienna attending a climate change conference when he referred to both meetings saying: “It’s hard for some people to grasp it, but what you are doing here right now is of equal importance, because it has the ability literally to save life on this planet.”

As seen in the video below, Kerry first refers to the terrorist organization as ”DASH”, a term rarely used.  The need to obfuscate seems genetic with those who are supposed to be representing the People.

Then, in typical Progressive-elitist fashion, Kerry calls the American people stupid given that their concerns for safety are more focused on terrorists then climate change.  It is likely that Kerry’s lack of personal concern against terrorists emits from the fact that he is protected by armed guards 24-7.  Similarly, his wealth allows him to avoid the personal pain that is proposed policies inflict on the common man through increased cost of energy and other necessities.

Posted in Climate Change, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brexit Consequences to Come

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 2, 2016

The political elites and many in the economic community warned of dire consequences should Britain vote to leave the European Union.  Immediately following the announcement of the vote equity markets worldwide drop significantly.  However, one week later they have rebounded and are about back to where they started.

The action of the equities markets suggest either the predicted dire consequences were severely exaggerated, or as an alternative, equity markets with the assistance of continuous central banker interventions no longer believe that stock valuations can go down.  Neither is very comforting.

How the UK’s exit from the EU will affect the world economy remains to be seen.  The Daily Reckoning suggests that political elite Progressives will take a play out of Obama associate Rahm Emanuel strategy book, who infamously said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”  Using this strategy, they will use the Brexit vote as an excuse for more central bank spending and interventions into the economy.  Why not, that strategy has failed for the last eight years so let’s double up on it.

The Daily Reckoning reports that since 2009 central banks have printed over $12 trillion.  In addition, they have made 654 interest cuts worldwide.  This has succeeded in creating equity bottles that have made the wealthy wealthier.

The Daily Reckoning expects more Quantitative Easing, QE 4, and an even more radical policy called “helicopter money” where the Fed basically froze money to the masses.  These radical steps are not taken out of stupidity.  Instead, they are an acknowledgment by central banks that we are reaching the end game.  Without continuous and more aggressive interventions, the rebalancing of the economy will begin and it will be painful.  Irrespective of the central banks’ actions, that rebalancing will occur.  It is only a matter of time.

Posted in economics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Brexit Vote Explained

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 28, 2016

Last week’s vote by the British people to extricate themselves from the European Union (Brexit) seems to have left many, including the political ruling class on both sides of the Atlantic, in shock.  It is a wonder that a vote that has two possibilities would create any such consternation when it goes one way or the other.

Governments of all sorts of philosophical directions have proven often throughout history an inability to hear the people.  At the same time, they have created an elite ruling class that has benefited substantially from their positions.

Nigel Farage, a British member of the European Parliament, has been a strong proponent for Britain to leave the EU.  During today’s Parliamentary session, Farage made a speech in which he did a victory lap, taunting other members of the European Parliament, posted below.  While his aggressive approach can be questioned, the logic he lays out helps explain the People’s anger building in the EU, as well as other countries.

Posted in European Union | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

UK Says “Yes” to Brexit

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 24, 2016

Yesterday the United Kingdom held its referendum as to whether it would stay or exit the European Union.  The vote is in and the British decided to leave the EU.

Today, markets throughout the world have experienced turmoil, seemingly surprised by Brits’ decision.  This reaction is curious given that the various indicators, except the polls, pointed towards a British exit.

The British electorate’s decision to leave the EU is part of a broader worldwide phenomenon.  Governments and bureaucracies in many countries have been growing at increasing rates over the decades.  This has enriched and given additional power to ruling elites.  The masses accepted this until recent years when their standard of living stagnated.  Two changes affected the mentality of the masses:

  • A growing number of middle class in Western Europe and the United States have seen decreasing living standards.
  • Bureaucracies, unelected shadow governments, have exerted more influence through regulations.

Born of dissatisfaction, is a new type of revolution enhanced by social media and the Internet is occurring.  In the United States the phenomena is epitomized by the popularity of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  Their popularity is resounding “no” vote for the status quo, irrespective of the potential consequences of electing untested populists.

Similarly, Britain’s decision to leave the EU is a resounding vote against the status quo.  The British people no longer will allow unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to create laws and regulations for the UK.  They also indicated their desire for stronger border controls.

The European Union was a mismanaged creation of the political class.  The goal was to create a United States of Europe increase economic activity and lessen the likelihood of armed conflicts, as so often happened in Europe.  Unlike the United States with a powerful central bank, European countries still control much of their monetary policies, irrespective of the single currency.  Also unlike the United States where the central government is elected by the people, Europeans have no vote concerning the bureaucracy in Brussels that creates laws and regulations that member states must abide by.  The British say “no more”, irrespective of the consequences of leaving the EU.

Since World War II the world has traveled through two different periods.

  • The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union for all practical purposes divided the world into two spheres. This period effectively ended in 1991.
  • Since the end of the Cold War, the political class worked to create a new world order where sovereign borders would be made moot. The beginning of the end of this period started in 2008 with the great financial meltdown.  This meltdown exposed the weakness of this new order that in part was built on flawed policies and excessive debt.

We are in the early stages of the next phase that involves rejection of the political elites’ vision for the world since 1991.  It is likely that the UK’s Brexit vote will be viewed historically as the start of this next phase.  It is difficult to visualize what this new reality actually means, other than significant change.  Progressives overreached in a power grab for themselves and their bureaucracies.  History has shown that this type of action generally leads to overreaction from the other side.

This Blog has repeatedly written of the illogic of the European Union from an economic standpoint.  One posting in October 2013 titled Noble Peace Prize Awarded to European Union reviewed rather incredulously of the European Union being the Nobel Peace Prize.  The turn of events since helps show just how far out of touch the political elites are, including those that award the Nobel Peace Prize.

Posted in European Union | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Department of Justice would Punish People for their Scientific Ideas

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 16, 2016

Townhall.com reported on a story that should bring chills down any American’s spine, irrespective of their political views.  In congressional testimony earlier this year, Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch stated that the Justice Department (DOJ) is considering punishment for some including academics and others in the fossil fuel industry for denying climate change.

Irrespective of where one comes down on the climate change discussion, we should all be outraged by the DOJ even considering such outrageous action.  Sacrosanct to what is America is the Constitution and freedom of speech.  For the DOJ to use intimidation and possibly the law to stifle free speech is not only illegal, but the start of a slippery slope that is reminiscent of actions of totalitarian governments.  Governments that attempt to control the thoughts of its citizens have often become enemies of the citizens.  The results are often ugly.

A few centuries ago the then “powers to be” persecuted those who did not believe the earth was flat.  The US Department of Justice is now one of the “powers to be”.  History repeats itself.

Posted in Political Correctness | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

April’s Employment Numbers Miserable, Yet Unemployment Rate Drops

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 4, 2016

The April jobs report has been released by the US Department of Labor and it is not pretty.  According to CCNMoney, a mere 38,000 jobs were created in the US, the lowest monthly rate in six years. To put this into perspective, in the past two years the monthly increased averaged about 200,000 new jobs and the number required just to keep up with new entrants into the job market is in excess of 200,000 monthly.

Commenting on the job’s number, Curt Long, chief economist at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, correctly said, “It’s a pretty gloomy report, hard to find a silver lining in this one“.  Contrast this realistic assessment with the Department of Labor’s unemployment number released indicating that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.7%, the lowest level in 9 years.  How does the Labor Department come up with such rubbish?  They merely stop counting those Americans who have given up the job search for lack of success.  Now that’s banjo accounting!

There are many reasons behind the US economy’s poor performance with government being a major factor.  Included in this list is the government’s willingness to create false reports to further its own political and bureaucratic agendas that often in conflict with those of the American people.

Posted in Unemployment | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Understanding the Trump/Sanders Phenomena

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 22, 2016

Let us travel back in time only 12 months.  America was starting to focus on the next potential President.  There was seeming certainty over the choices.  For Republicans, Jeb Bush was anointed the chosen one with a campaign war-chest that was unrivaled.  Similarly for Democrats, Hillary Clinton was to be anointed, being the next person up.  What was certain twelve months ago has since evaporated, ushering in a paradigm shift in American politics.

There is much in common between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and their supporters.  Historically, Donald Trump’s politics have had more in common with Democrat platforms.  Until recently Trump not only donated to Democratic candidates, but also hobnobbed with many of its elites including the Clintons.  Like Trump, Hillary has led a protected life, enjoying the benefits of the top 1% and with access to and being a powerbroker in Washington.

It is ironic that given the many similarities between Hillary and Donald, that Hillary is considered an insider and Donald the insurgent.  Both in fact are consummate insiders.

Trumps ascendancy to being the presumptive Republican nominee is remarkable.  He defeated 16 Republicans in the primaries, some who had been quite formable candidates.  Trump has since broken the spirit of the Republican establishment, who were powerless against his insurgent appeal.

Bernie Sanders, who has near zero chance of becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee, has encountered remarkable success against the Party’s anointed one, Hillary Clinton.  Hillary has the backing of nearly every Party leader, has had a significant funding advantage, yet has had difficulty competing against the 73 year old socialist.  With a bit of luck and a more sophisticated campaign early on, Sanders could have won the Party’s nomination.

Ignoring policies proposed by Sanders and Trump, there are similarities behind their successes.  Both are seen as outsiders to voters who are disenchanted in the direction the Country has taken, even though their support comes from opposite ends of the political spectrum.  Understanding the reasons behind this disenchantment by is more important than who wins in November.

Economist John Mauldin recently published a piece titled “trump” that goes a long way towards explaining American’s radically switched politics.  While Mauldin shows compassion and understanding of the plight many less fortunate Americans, his economic background helps explain the difficulty in problem resolution.  Mauldin’s comments/conclusions include:

  • He castigates both political parties for giving us the choice of, as Peggy Noonan states, “Crazy Man vs. Criminal ”, concluding that: “People have real problems, and increasingly they don’t trust traditional leaders to solve them.”
  • Sanders is supported by left-leaning Americans who are “living on the edge, vulnerable and unprotected”.  Trump is being supported by another portion of Americans who believe they are being marginalized.
  • Mauldin divides Americans into the “protected” and “unprotected”.  He makes the important conclusion that the protected make public policy, but it is the unprotected who must live with the results.  The protected that create public policy are not subject to the penalties of these policies with Mauldin including “Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.”  The unprotected are now saying enough is enough.
  • The protected Mauldin refers to are both Republicans and Democrats.  So too are the unprotected.  Party affiliation has become meaningless in this discussion.
  • A Federal Reserve survey found that nearly 50% of Americans could not cover an unexpected $400 expense.  No wonder voters are scared.  No wonder they have lost faith in politicians who not only promised so much, but whose policies helped create the economic problems the Country now faces.

sandersThere are many examples of policies created by the protected that inflict pain on the unprotected.  Progressives propose open borders for immigration.  These immigrants are mainly unskilled and compete for the lower skilled jobs in the United States.  This increased competition hurts poorer Americans.  It also benefits businesses that have access to cheaper labor.  In an effort to fix the damage done by the ill-conceived immigration policies, the protected then promote increasing the minimum wage.  This too hurts poorer Americans who lose their jobs to machines that are made still cheaper by the artificially low cost of capital.  A higher minimum wage also benefits larger corporations who are better equipped to pay higher wages than startups, their potential competitors.

Obamacare is another example of Progressive policies damaging the unprotected.  While many Americans now face doctor shortages and increasing healthcare premiums caused by Obamacare, the protected have access to concierge doctor services.  They also have access to accountants and lawyers who can take advantage of the ever-increasing regulatory and tax environments that average Americans do not have access to.

Finally, there is the rigged government numbers.  Unemployment is supposedly down to 5%.  However, this number does not take into account those Americans who have quit looking for jobs.  It also does not take into account less hours available for workers or the quality of jobs available.  Similarly, the government’s inflation numbers are rigged, removing from the calculation must-have goods and services whose costs have increased.  As a result, many Americans feel they are being left out of a supposedly improving economy.

We are eight years after the beginning of the Great Recession.  While various government stimulus programs and artificially low interest rates created bubbles that increased the wealth of the protected, it damaged the unprotected, increasing the wealth gap.  This led to the popularity of Sanders and Trump.  The fact that a Socialist and a bully have become so popular indicates how deep the frustrations are.  While this trend favors Donald Trump in the upcoming election, it blocks intellectual discussion concerning realistic policies that could actually improve the plight of middle Americans.

Posted in economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Increasing Minimum Wage Killing Jobs

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 17, 2016

Discussions relating to raising the minimum wage inevitably include to the issue of “fairness”.  Those in favor of raising it point out that the minimum wage is not a “fair wage”.  Once this emotional claim is made, those who oppose increasing in the minimum wage are pegged as unenlightened and against allowing the lowest wage earners the opportunity to make a reasonable living.  Economic realities tell a different story.

Wendy’s is a large fast food chain with approximately 6,000 restaurants nationwide.  They have historically started employees at the minimum wage.  They recently announced steps to offset the cost increase due to the increased minimum wage and it is not good for workers.

According to Investors Business Daily, Wendy’s is replacing many of its order takers with an automatic kiosk system.  This action should surprise no one with a basic understanding of economics.  Not only does the new minimum wage increase the cost the labor, but with government inflicted artificially low interest rates, the cost of capital has decreased.  This decreases the cost of capital equipment at the same time the new minimum wage will increase the cost the labor.  Wendy’s response to the increased minimum wage will be duplicated by many in the service industry across the Country.

The political elitists who are behind the increased minimum wage will not be negatively impacted by the coming loss of lower paid jobs in America.  Their political positions could even improve with the additional votes they likely will receive from those who believe the increased minimum wage helps the working poor.  Further, with more Americans being unemployed these same political elitists can then offer handouts in exchange for future votes.  It’s a nice, but unholy, gig if you can get it.

There is another group of crony capitalists who will benefit from the increased minimum wage.   Large corporations who do not employee lower paid American workers will benefit by the increased wage pressures placed on upstart competitors who might try to make a better mousetrap.

Posted in economics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chicago Murder Rate Continues Climbing

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 14, 2016

Parts of Chicago are beginning to look like a failed Third World state.  Following are statistics supplied by USA Today in an article titled “Chicago’s murder rate soars 72% in 2016; shootings up more than 88%”.  According to USA Today:

  • For the first quarter of 2016, murders in Chicago are up 72% with shootings increasing by over 88%, compared to the same quarter in 2015.
  • In the first quarter 2016 there were 141 murders in the city, compared to 82 in the previous year.  During the same period, shootings increased from 359 to 677.
  • The 2016 increased carnage follows increases in 2015 with murders jumping by over 12% and shootings increasing to 2,900, an approximate 13% increase compared to 2014.
  • Chicago police report that the surge in violence is related to gangs and mainly located in the South and West sides of the City, which includes mainly minority populations.

The trend in Chicago is getting worse by the month according to USA Today.  In March alone, the city saw 45 murders and over 271 shootings.

Possibly the most troubling aspect of Chicago’s carnage is the seeming lack of concern in the media, or by politicians, and civil rights organizations.  The victims of these crimes are mainly minorities.  It is hard to believe that had the victims been white that there wouldn’t be greater outrage expressed not only locally, but also nationwide.

It is not the purpose of this posting to try to determine reasons behind the breakdown of civil authority and increased violence in America’s inner cities.  Neither will this posting offer suggested solutions.  Such discussions cannot be productive until the problem is acknowledged at a national level.

Progressives have made a cornerstone of their social reengineering thesis that when minorities are shown to be statistically at disadvantage, corrective actions is required.  Their unwillingness to use this same yardstick for the murder of minorities in Chicago brings into question their actual motivations.  It is likely that since Barack Obama associate Rahm Emanuel is mayor of Chicago, that this city is getting a pass on scrutiny other cities have received.

Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly recently had an exchange with Progressive Kirsten Powers (video posted below) that discussed not only the violence in Chicago, but the motivations behind those politicians who refuse to take action to protect its citizens.  Ms. Power’s unwillingness to question motivations of the politicians in charge of Chicago, or those at the federal level, is telling.  Progressives are quick to experiment with social engineering.  However, when things go wrong they refuse to accept any responsibility.  This goes to the crux of the dangers of an activist government for without accepting responsibility for failed initiatives, the only answer is to double down on the failed policies.

Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Michael Bloomberg Warns Students of Danger from Being Coddled

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 2, 2016

While this Blog tends to support libertarian type conservative principles, there are voices on the Left that offer positive points of view on society and the political discourse.  Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, is one such politician.

Bloomberg is known for speaking his mind irrespective of dogmatic political views.  He was at it again this past weekend during a commencement speech at the University of Michigan, according to CNN.  During his presentation, Bloomberg attacked political correctness and its anti-intellectual approaches at the university level that include “safe spaces”.  Bloomberg’s comments in the video below included:

The fact that some university boards and administrations now bow to pressure groups, and shield students from these ideas through safe spaces, code words, and trigger warnings, is in my view a terrible mistake.  The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations, not to run away from them,” and “A microaggression is exactly that, micro.  But in a macro sense, one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is the so-called safe space, because it creates a false impression that we can isolate ourselves from those who hold different views.  We can’t, and we shouldn’t try.  Not in politics, not in the workplace.”

It is refreshing to hear a politician share such straight talk.  While this Blogger disagrees with many of Bloomberg’s stated positions, those disagreements do not overshadow the importance and courage Bloomberg shows in attacking some of the greatest dangers to American’s freedom.  Compare this to the doubletalk coming from likely candidates for the Democrat and Republican parties.  There are better choices, but they are not currently running for the presidency.

 

Posted in Political Correctness | 1 Comment »

 
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