2012 Federal Issues 

This page was started in 2011 as a way of taking notes on the issues while I was running for the House of Representatives. 
Results of California 2nd district House of Representatives race (Wiki).
When I see something interesting I add it to this web page.

2016
The key message when I ran for the House of Representatives in 2012 was that electing either a Democrat or Republican would result in no change in Wall street or War policy.
Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with any possibility of making a change.
If you are happy with how Obama fulfilled his campaign promises then vote for Hillary.
If you are happy with Bush43 vote for the Republican candidate.
If you want a change vote for Bernie.

The lesser of evils is still evil.

Introduction
    The Newsroom & Truth and Duty
    USSR
    Progress & Science
Democrats the same as Republicans on the big issues
China and the One Party System
Laws are the Cause of Many Problems
    Good
    Bad
Law breaking is another source of problems
Structural
Office of the President
    No Choice
Supreme Court
    DOJ
Congress
California "Top Two" primary
Others
The Problem of Authoritarian Followers
    Authoritarian
    Milgram Experiment
    Examples
        Prison
        Teen Pregnancy
        U.S. Children living in poverty
        Making Sex Normal
End War in all it's forms
Other
    Justice
        Presidential Pardons
    Education
    The Economy
        Modern Monetary TheoryMMT References
        The Global Minotaur
        Monetary Theory
            Killing the Host & Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy
    Capitalism - It's OK but can be a lot better
    The Laffer Curve & Voodoo Economics
    Adam Smith vs. John Nash -> Capitalism 2.0
    Privatization
    Jobs
    Infrastructure
    Health Care
    Sustainability
        USGS Menlo Park & Climate Change
        Books related to Climate Change
    Marijuana, LSD & Ecstasy
    The use of Money in Politics
    Human Rights
    Right to Vote
    Diet and Nutrition
    Creditability
Sources
Contact

7 Key Ideas .pdf


Nov 1, 2015
YouTube - Left Out : Beyond the Two-Party Horse Race - "Noam Chomsky" - Clip - also see
Lefties by Mark Foire 

2012 Rocky Anderson for President & the Justice Party

Note: a vote for a Republican or Democrat is for sure a wasted vote.  See: Democrats the same as Republicans on the big issues


Introduction

Here are a couple of key concepts:
1. The Republicans and Democrats are in agreement when it comes to supporting big business and war.  They only differ on a few other issues.  So if you want reform in how business works or our war policy do not vote for either of them.

2. The bad outcomes we are experiencing (for example we pay the most for our medical care yet the quality of that care is ranked much lower than other countries) are the direct result of policy decisions we have already made.  The outcomes are not random.

The Newsroom

This is a good summary of where we are as of 2012.


The Newsroom Season 1: Episode 1 - Full Episode
The Newsroom may be based on some of the ideas related to the book and movie about Dan Rather's (Will McAvoy) 60 Minutes II story on George Bush's National Guard produced by Mary Mapes (MacKenzie (Mac) McHale).  The ACN (CBS) network owned by Atlantis World Media (Viacom (Wiki)) and the owners want to be friendly with the Republican administration because decisions made by the government had a strong influence on their profits.  The news was not particularly easy on the government.

Movie: Truth (Netflix, IMDB) - The story of the Mary Mapes production about Bush43's National Guard stint.  This incident caused Dan Rather to step down from doing the news.
YouTube Oct 2015 - Dan Rather: ‘Truth’ Is Less About Me Than ‘What’s Happened To The News’ | TODAY - "The story was true!" 

Book: Truth & Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power by Mary Mapes 2005
Mary Mapes (Wiki) is the producer of a number of stories presented by Dan Rather (Wiki) on 60 minutes (Wiki) and/or 60 minutes Wednesday (Wiki).  She won a Peabody award for breaking the Abu Ghraib (Wiki) prison torture story.  She makes a very convincing case that her 60 minutes II story is true.
In the book a web page truthandduty.com is mentioned, but today (21 Feb 2016) it is directed to some other web site.  Sort of like the Saturday Night Live opening sketch of Obama's first 100 days has been scrubbed from the web (Huffpost - SNL Vs. Obama: Sketch Details All The President's Failures Since Taking Office (VIDEO) - The article remains (even has VIDEO in title, but the video has been scrubbed. ""There are those on the right who are angry. They think that I'm turning this great country into something that resembles the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, but that's just not the case. Because when you look at my record it's very clear what I've done so far and that is nothing. Nada. Almost one year and nothing to show for it."  PS If you have a copy of that SNL sketch please contact me.


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U.S.S.R. 1960s

While learning about the problems we face in a number of places I've seen a strong parallel between where we are now (2012) and the U.S.S.R. in the 1960s.  When I was working in Silicon Valley in the 1960 - 1980 time frame it was a common saying that the difference between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. was that in the U.S. a business can fail, but in the U.S.S.R. that does not happen.  That can no longer be said of the U.S.  Here are some points to consider:

Progress & Science

I put this paragraph on a web page about politics because we currently have a misconception about many aspects of how society can be best governed and they need to be replaced by better misconceptions (in the sense that the new one works better than the old one).

It turns out that for almost all of humanity's existence the life of children was pretty much the same as their parents.  That's to say there was no progress.  Here I'm talking about progress as any of the measures of well being.  The change came about because of the scientific method which I'd say started with Copernicus (Wiki) around 1514 when he told some friends about his heliocentric hypothesis (Wiki).   It was almost 100 years later when Galliello (Wiki) had visual evidence that it was true and the Bible was wrong.  The problem with dogmatic religious belief is that it must be accepted as truth with no possibility of improvement, which means no progress.  Most practical religions do not act as if their "book" is factual and so society can improve even when some of it is made up of practical religious people.

So, rather that believe in an absolute truth, society advanced by using the scientific method.  But there continues to be a question about what 'science' really is.  In my opinion the key difference between science and religion is that in science there are no facts, only conjectures.  For example you might talk about Newton's misconception of gravity or Einstein's misconception of relativity this allows a misconception to be falsified and be replaced by a better misconception (in the sense that the newest misconception is the best description of all the experimental evidence).

Example 1
In the late 1970 through 2000 a new misconception of economic theory emerged that looked to be better than the post depression misconceptions and this new theory was tried out, but it failed, but today we have not replaced the failed economic theory.  But we could.  One of the key ideas on this web page is that many of the misfortunes we experience are the direct result of laws we have passed.  There needs to be a better mechanism to remove the bad laws (see below).  In science when a new theory (misconception) is adapted as the current one projections are made and tested to try an falsify it.  In a similar way new laws might contain some metrics as to how well they are working so they could be reviewed after a few years to see if they should remain.

Example 2
The supreme court (see below) made a number of bad decisions such as Citizens United v. FEC (Wiki), Bush v. Gore (Wiki), Shelby County v. Holder (Wiki), and many others that have tarnished the reputation of the supreme court.  For most cases pretty everyone knows how each justice will vote based on their political bias.  This could change if more impartial judges were appointed. 

Example 3
The two party system.  It's not part of the constitution, which provides only for the election of congressmen and the president.  The inability of Congress to act on many issues and the 2016 presidential elections where the voters are clearly not happy with either party demonstrate that the current misconception of how a representative democracy should work is false.  We can learn a lot be looking at how the rest of the world holds elections and their multi party system.

Most of the paragraphs on this web page could be reworded in such a way as to demonstrate that the current way many things are being done is based on false ideas and need fundamental change.  But that would take something like constitutional congress made up of intelligent fair minded people, an unlikely event.

Books about how science works:

The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch 1997 -4  key areas: quantum physics, epistemology, theory of computation, theory of evolution
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch 1998 - amplifies and develops the 4 key areas
Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge by Karl Popper 1963 -
The Myth of the Framework: In defense of science and rationality by Karl Popper 1994 -

Democrats the same as Republicans on the big issues

I'm running for the House of Representatives mainly as a public service to let people know about the major problems we face and point out that there's hope if  the voters will stop doing the wrong thing, that's to say don't vote for any Democrat or Republican.
2016 -  For many of the past presidential elections we've been voting for the lesser of two candidates, i.e. voting against the less evil candidate.  For the first time in decades there may be a candidate to vote for . . . Bernie.
The lesser of evils is still evil.

Feb 2013 - Reading "The Parties versus the People" by Mickey Edwards, ISBN: 978-0-300-18456-3 as part of the description of the problem he has a quote from Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore:

"always voted at my party's call,
and never thought of thinking for myself at all."
This is by far the biggest problem where the voters have the power to make a real change.

Expecting a Republican candidate to do a bad thing because it was a campaign promise is like expecting a Democrat to do a good thing because it was a campaign promise.  Neither will happen.  They will both do what the money and their party tells them to do.

Rita Mae Brown in her book Sudden Death on Pg. 68 from 1983.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results."


The Democrats and Republicans have the same position about war, the economy, health care, justice, environment . . . .     Obama is a good case in point, he is out Bushing the prior president.

In the 2012 2nd district Congressional race there are a number of Democrats saying things that the people want to hear, and they may even believe it themselves, but once in office they must follow their party line.  Even if they got elected without much or any help from their party, if they don't follow the party line they will be replaced by their party at the next election.  Those candidates who have accumulated many times the salary of a Congressman are trying to be a career politician and want to be reelected over and over so will follow their party line even if that means NOT following what they said in the campaign.

It's clear the people want single payer health care (and it's the only viable solution), yet the two front running Democrats are already saying they will support Obama Care rather than saying they will support Single Payer Health Care.  Many of the candidates say they will support Democrat or Republican Values and then mention Right to Choose or Gay Rights, i.e. their only "values" are these issues.  But as the two front runners have demonstrated they have no values when it comes to the big issues, they are good party members and will follow the party line.  This reminds me of the U.S.S.R in the 1960s.

The two parties vote on party lines, not because of PAC or SuperPAC money, but because of the higher dollar value support they get from their respective national committees.  This shows up in Congressional votes that block bills and nothing gets done.

Note that virtually all the money spent lobbying goes to the campaign committee for that Congressman, it does not go into his or her personal pocket.  The money is then used for TV spots, mailings, yard signs, etc. for the next election.  This means it will take a real grass roots movement (not the astro turf tea party) to make a real change.

For an independent to make a change it's not necessary to have a majority.  Instead only a few votes are required to give a whole new complexion to Congress.  A very small number of independent votes can make all the difference in getting a bill passed or blocked.  This forces both parties to come up with good bills and court the independent votes.

Constructing Public Opinion: How Politicians and the Media Misrepresent the Public a documentary by Media Education Fund (6 min YouTube, small format full length preview)
based on the book: Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What They Like and Why We Seem to go Along With It by Justin Lewis (2001)

They also produced: Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire (Wiki) (2004 DVD)

This is a MUST watch video interview.
PBS - Bill Moyers Journal - WEB EXCLUSIVE: Glenn Greenwald - Transcript
Salon.com - Glenn Greenwald - With Liberty and Justice for Some (Book)

The Democrats and Republicans are now to the far right and so the party names no longer have meaning.
Lefties by Mark Foire

The Young TurksBill Maher: Democrats Are the New Republicans


Rachel Maddow - Goofy gun conspiracy surfaces in Congressional action



21 May 2012 - there seems to be a rash of "Values" press releases.  For example: Obama coming out for Gay marriage.  This is an example of the Democrats and Republicans making an issue of the one thing they differ on.  The media is lapping it up and NOT reporting on how the agree on: the defense budget, the economy, health care, the environment, justice, etc.

China and the One Party System

This TED Talk clearly shows that the idea of all countries moving to a democratic from of government is false.  What the U.S. and much of the world needs to be doing is fixing our political problems.

Eric X. Li: A tale of two political systems (TED, YouTube)

Laws are the Cause of Many Problems

Many of the problems that we have were caused by politicians in the sense that they authored laws now on the books that were a mistake.
See the authoritarian section for Prison and Teen Pregnancy.

Since 2008 there has been no improvement and in fact it's getting worse.  Obama's JOBS Act of 2012 (the Wall St. boiler room full employment act) and the good parts of Dodd-Frank have not been implemented on schedule. There's talk of new laws to further gut Glass-Steagall and counteract the good parts of Dodd-Frank.

All lawmakers are human and therefore make mistakes in the form of bad laws.  It's not that they set out to make bad laws.
But, there's no provision to get the bad laws off the books.  A very few laws have expiration dates.

Good Laws that worked

Bad Laws

Law breaking is another source of problems

The thing that's allowed this to work is that the people who enforce the law have quit enforcing against the top 1%.  Regulatory capture (Wiki) means that the agencies who are tasked to regulate are now working to protect the industry from criminal prosecution. 

2014 - Eric Holder worked to NOT criminally prosecute any of his Wall St. cronies while the local police put people in prison at an all time high rate.
See the book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi

The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia by Matt Taibbi June 21, 2012 - bid rigging for municipal bonds.
Note: the insurance business is exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act (Wiki) and so it's legal for them to do this.

Why Bankers Don't Go to Jail: Taibbi Visits with Bill Moyers - February 4, 2013

Bill Moyers Journal - William K. Black - Video interview, transcript (William K. Black TEDx talk)
The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry by William K. Black

If the president and members of Congress take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and they do things that are clearly in violation like is now happening then can they be impeached for failing to uphold their oath?

Structural

Over the past 30 years the Constitution has been subverted and is no longer operational on many levels.  This is the number one thing that needs to be fixed.  Without it all the rest will be meaningless.  I think a Constitutional amendment is needed to get away from the corruption that Lawrence Lessig talks about (see his talk: Congress), although there a chance that election finance reform can be done on a state by state basis.  A possible answer is if many states enact election finance reform that limits campaign contributions so that they can only come from voters registered to vote for them and with a dollar limit on each of those.  That would eliminate contributions for people who were not voters, i.e. eliminate a dependency that is not to the people who vote.

Irrationality

TEDxMileHighSalon - Michael Huemer - The Irrationality of Politics
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Office of the President

No Choice in elections

For a number of decades there really was not a president to vote FOR, rather there was the choice between the lesser of two evils.  It seems the party in power (not really the man who is president) does something to cause the country to change political parties.  The problem is that both parties agree on the big issues the economy & war) so changing parties does not bring about the change the voters want to see.
2016 - Both Democrats and Republicans are fed up with the establishment and there's strong popular support for Bernie and Donald.  Bernie is popular with college students (maybe because they have considered his positions) and Donald is popular with many Republicans that are also tired of the establishment politicians.

Year
Wiki
Winner
Looser
Issue

1960
Kennedy (D)
Nixon (R)
Kennedy offered hope, poor prior (R) economy

1964
Johnson (D)
Goldwater (R)
Kennedy was popular, no party change, Goldwater was seen as a war monger

1968
Nixon (R)
Humphrey (D)
Johnson's Vietnam policies unpopular, change party & anti New Deal (Wiki), (R) Southern Strategy (Wiki)

1972
Nixon (R)
McGovern (D)
good economy, relations with China improved, no party change

1976
Carter (D)
Ford (R)
Watergate Nixon quits, change party

1980
Reagan (R) Carter (D)
economy in big trouble, Reganomics (Wiki),stagflation (Wiki) change party

1984
Reagan (R)
Mondale (D)
economy OK, no party change

1988
GHW Bush (R)
Dukakis (D)
economy struggling, no party change, Willie Horton negative TV ad (Wiki) &start of tough on crime
1992
B Clinton (D)
GHW Bush (R)
problem economy & taxes, change party
Clinton adapted Republican Financial ideas because the Republicans got money from business and they got none.  So the Democrats now get money from Wall St. and Republicans from other businesses.
1996
B Clinton (D)
Dole (R)
economy doing well,  no party change

2000
GW Bush (R)
Gore (D)
Clinton sex scandal (Wiki), Supreme Court decision on Florida vote count (Wiki)

2004
GW Bush (R)
Kerry (D)
Post 9/11 (Wiki) no change in party even though the 2003 invasion of Iraq (Wiki) had no basis

2008
Obama (D)
McCain (R)
Bush very unpopular, the (R) over reaction to 9/11 caused a change in party.  Obama offered hope, but did not deliver.

2012
Obama (D)
Romney (R)
hope continues, but Obama has not delivered on most of his promises.
Obama & Romney agree on war in debate No. 3 (YouTube)

2016
Sanders (D)?
Trump (R)?


The Office of the President has much more power than the Constitution allows.  In some cases this has happened by presidential directive and in others (like war powers) was given away by the Congress.  The Department of Justice (Wiki: DOJ) has become a branch of the White House (index0811.html#SEC) and no longer enforces the law.

The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act
(Wiki) is just the latest example of the office of the president taking on powers that are in violation of the Constitution and international law.
Wiki: Hedges v. Obama - Challenge to the NDDA - YouTube interview with Chris Hedges - repeals the protection of the Posse Comitatus Act (Wiki)

Supreme Court

Restrain Yourself by Mark Foire (2:31)


United States of John Roberts by Mark Foire (1:39)




The Supreme Court (Wiki) has lost sight of fairness and needs to be over-ruled by Congress.  Note the U.S. Constitution (Wiki) defines the powers of the federal government: Congress (A1), the President (A2), the Courts (A3) and all powers not so defined are left to the States (A4).

Corporate Personhood

In Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010) (Wiki) the court ruled that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions.  The idea of corporate personhood (Wiki)

In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad 118 U.S. 394 (1886) (Wiki) - Thom Hartman has pointed out that the ruling had nothing to do with corporate personhood, that was an idea wrongfully put into the case summary by a clerk.  Note the actual decision was OK, it's just that the wrong summation has become the basis of the current law.  Thom claims it's also the reason that the supreme court threw out the Kasky v. Nike, Inc. (Wiki) case because they knew that the case would reopen the meaning of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad.

Corporations can not be sued for torture and “extrajudicial killing” (can you say assassination?) that's just for people
Mohamad, et al., v. Palestinian Authority, et al
. (docket 11-88)
Bowoto, et al., v. Chevron Corp., et al. [docket 10-1536]
Kiobel, et al., v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, et al. (10-1491)
Opinion analysis: Anti-torture law given narrow scope (UPDATED)
I guess that means Blackwater (Wiki) mercenaries are individually responsible but not their employer.
Young Turks - Witchcraft More Popular Than Citizens United -

Voter Photo ID

In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008) (Wiki) the supreme court upheld a 2005 Indiana law requiring all voters casting a ballot in person to present a United States or Indiana photo ID.   Note the U.S. Constitution does not contain a "right to vote" clause. 

Equal Protection Clause

In Bush vs. Gore  531 U.S. 98 (2000) (Wiki) the Court ruled that the Florida Supreme Court's method for recounting ballots was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Wiki).

Commerce Clause

The Commerce Clause (Wiki) of the U.S. Constitution (A1, S8, C3) reads:
[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;
Commerce means trade, not manufacturing, retail sales etc. and only commerce (trade) between foreign nations and the U.S. or between states or between states and Indian tribes.

In Gibbons v. Ogden 22 U.S. 1  (1824) (Wiki) - The court (I think unfairly) concluded that Congressional power over commerce should extend to all aspects that "significantly affected" interstate commerce.  This opened the door to more abuse of the Constitution.

In Wickard v. Filburn 317 U.S. 111 (1942) (Wiki) - Mr. Filburn was growing wheat on his own land for consumption by his farm animals, none of it was sold anywhere.  The court ruled that the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (a United States federal law of the New Deal era which restricted agricultural production by paying farmers subsidies not to plant part of their land) (Wiki) applied to him using the commerce clause as the basis of the decision. That's to say it would force him to buy some of the wheat he needed.  In my opinion this was a huge mistake and should be repealed.

In United States v. Lopez 514 U.S. 549 (1995) (Wiki) - The court ruled that the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (Wiki), part of the Crime Control Act of 1990 (Wiki), was unconstitutional based on the commerce clause.  I think this was the correct decision but is not consistent with Wickard v. Filburn.

In Gonzales v. Raich  545 U.S. 1 (2005) (Wiki) - Raich grew and consumed California legal marijuana in her home.  The court ruled that, based on the commerce clause, she was guilty of a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (Wiki). I think this was a wrong decision, there was no interstate commerce and this is a states right.

There have been a few Individual Mandates (Wiki) by the U.S. government. 

The first was the Militia Acts of 1792 (Wiki) would have required every "free able-bodied white male citizen" between the ages of 18 and 45, with a few occupational exceptions, to "provide himself" a weapon and ammunition.  It was not legally tested in the courts.

The second is contained in the mandate to pay income tax which was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1895 because it was a direct tax not apportioned according to the population of each state.  Income tax became legal after passage of the 16th amendment to the Constitution (Wiki) in 1913.

The third Individual Mandate (Wiki) is contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Wiki: Obama Care) of 2010 due to go into effect in 2014 but in the court now (2012).
National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 11-393 (2012) (Wiki, SCOTUSblog)
Department of Health and Human Service v. Florida, 11-398 (2012) (Wiki, SCOTUSblog)
Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services (Wiki, SCOTUSblog)
SCOTUS for law students: Health-care litigation -
Right to Privacy (Liberty)
Griswold v. Connecticut
(Wiki) - establishes a right to privacy based on
self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  It was cited in Roe v. Wade (Wiki).  Also see: Justice Stevens and the so-called right to privacy

DOJ

The Department of Justice (Wiki) and the U.S. Attorney General (Wiki) are supposed to prosecute criminals.  But this is not longer the case for the top 1% and businesses.
In 2007 Alberto Gonzales (Wiki) supported the Bush43 administration rather than the constitution and eventually resigned.
In 2007 (after two interim AGs) Michael Mukasey (Wiki) continues to support Bush43 instead of the constitution.
In 2009 under Obama Eric Holder (Wiki) not only supports the continuation of the Bush43 polices, but the "Holder Memo" (DOJ) is used as the basis of stopping prosecution of Wall St. criminals.
With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful 2012 by Glenn Greenwald - how the holder memo was used to protect Wall St, while people using small amounts of pot were sent to prison (not jail) for many years.
YouTube: Modern Money & Public Purpose 7: Financial Reform - about the criminal actions taken by Wall St. and how the DOJ stopped prosecutions.

Congress

There are two branches of Congress. 

The Senate where the members serve six year terms.  There are two Senators from each state.  The idea is to give each state an equal vote at the federal level. An interesting observation is that whenever I have contacted my Senators neither of them ever responded, except a recent answer from D. Feinstien saying she backed giving the NSA more power to spy on U.S. citizens.  Although she's clearly in the pocket of the people feeding her money, at least she is now aware that she can't continue to totally ignore those who can vote her out of office.

The House of Representatives was supposed to have one member for each 30,000 people, but when it grew to 435 members the Constitution was changed locking the number at 435.  Note:  If the population of the U.S. is about 300 million then we should have 10,000 Representative.  But as it is each Representative has about 700,000 voters in their district.  There's no way that they can represent such a large group of people.  Note:  Every 10 years when a new census comes out the 435 districts get redrawn.  In most states this is a chance for that state's legislature to gerrymander (Wiki) the boundaries so that the political party in power will get the most votes.

@Google: Lawrence Lessig: Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress

The Sequester starts today Monday 7 Oct 2013.  Here's a SNL skit about how the House Republicans are blackmailing the country to defund Obamacare.
We Did Stop - SNL Highlight


California "Top Two" primary

In prior years California used a closed primary (Wiki) where only registered Republicans get to vote for the Republican candidates and only Democrats for Democratic candidates.  The problem with this system is that there's no oath or other way of confirming which party you belong to when you register.  So voters would register in the opposition party so that they can vote for the candidate most likely to loose the election.

The Top Two primary system that started with the June 2012 primary has the effect of eliminating third party (i.e. all except Democrats and Republications) from being on the November ballot.  That's because only two candidates are on the ballot and there's no provision for a write in.  In the presidential race there's provision for a voter to write in the name of anyone for president.

The people who vote in  the primary are at the extremes of their parties, i.e. they do not represent the main stream voters.  So the extremists pick the candidates who will run in the November general election.  There's also low voter turnout. 

We should just get rid of the primary elections, their main function is to eliminate candidates that are good for the people and put in candidates that big money wants.  This is a KEY point, i.e. Citizens United v. FEC (Wiki) was passed by the Supremes because the voters do get a chance in the November election.  If the primary election is removed that invalidates Citizens United.

Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim

Others

The Problem of Authoritarian Followers

Authoritarian

Wiki: Authoritarian,

Bob Altemeyer has spent a number of decades refining his measure of authoritarian behavior and it's now a very valid indicator.  Instead of using a book publisher he has chosen to make his book "The Authoritarians" a free on line pdf file.

Conservatives Without Conscience, ISBN-13: 978-0670037742, 2006, by John Dean is where I learned about Authoritarian behavior along with the Milgram Experiment (Wiki) (see below).  Milgram has shown that some people will do the bidding of an authoritarian figure, even to the point of killing someone else.  His experiment has been repeated many times with a number of variables and the result is confirmed.  The point is that it's not good for society to blindly follow authority figures.

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, ISBN-10: 1568584172, 2010, by Max Blumenthal http://maxblumenthal.com/ - much of the analysis is based on the idea of authoritarian behavior.  It's interesting that Max uses Erich Fromm (Wiki) instead of Bob Altemeyer as his authoritarian expert although he uses Bob's phrasing.

Fromm's books that are referenced in Gomorrah:
Escape From Freedom (US), or The Fear of Freedom (UK) (Wiki)
"Fromm characterizes the authoritarian personality as containing a sadist element and a masochist element. The authoritarian wishes to gain control over other people in a bid to impose some kind of order on the world, they also wish to submit to the control of some superior force which may come in the guise of a person or an abstract idea."
The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973) ISBN 978-0805016048
"Fromm detected a profound link between necrophilious (Wiki) character traits and right-wing ideology."
"In all of the samples, we found that anti-life tendencies were significantly correlated to political positions that supported increased military power and favored repression against dissenters."
"Fromm identified necrophilious characters as among the most dangerous members of any society.  'They are the haters, the racists, those in favor of war, bloodshed and destruction,' he wrote.  'They are dangerous not only if they are political leaders, but also as the potential cohorts for a dictatorial leader.  They become the executioners, terrorists, torturers; without them no terror system could be set up.  But  the less intense necrophiles are also politically important; while they may not be among its first adherents, they are necessary for the existence of a terror regime because they form a solid basis, although not necessarily a majority, for it to gain power."

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill - it's very clear that there is a strong link between Christianity and the military.
In the bonus features for the movie Green Zone it's also very clear that soldiers in a squad will do WHATEVER they are ordered to do when they have respect for their commander.
In Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews by James Carroll 2001 (book and movie) - it's clear that the New Testament was written to be different than the Old Testament and the it's built-in hatred of Jews lead directly to the Holocaust (Wiki).  Also that the battle sword became the symbol of Christianity because of Constantine's victory at Rome.

In the TED Talk How economic inequality harms societies: Richard Wilkinson says that income inequality is the cause of many social problems, but I say that authoritarianism has a stronger correlation to those problems by up to a factor of two.  Here's some data I collected based on fifty U.S. states ranked by percent of population that was Evangelical Christian (as a proxy for authoritarianism).  Income inequality is an available parameter for each state.  R*R is a measure of the statistical fit of a straight line to the data.
Some of these correlations are mentioned in the book Republican Gomorrah.

Correlation based on Authoritarianism is better than Income Inequality for: Life Expectancy,  Obesity, Infant Mortality, Hi School Grad, Teen Birth Rate and Prisoners.
Correlation based on Income Inequality is better than Authoritarianism for: Murder, Abortion, Suicide and Army Recruiting.
There does not appear to be a correlation preference for: Unemployment, Economic Growth or Rape.

There is nothing in any of his or my data the goes to causality.  It may be that some states have a lot of problems and that drives their population to be Evangelical.
Or it may be that people who are Evangelical make poor decisions that lead to social problems.

Authoritarian
R*R
Income
Inequality
R*R
Life Expectancy 0.52 0.26
Obesity 0.49 0.01
Infant Mortality 0.40 0.27
Hi School Grad 0.40 0.30
Teen Birth Rate 0.37 0.21
Murder 0.25 0.32
Abortion 0.07 0.31
Suicide 0.00 0.28
Prisoners 0.25 0.12
Unemployment 0.22 0.20
Army Recruiting 0.03 0.15
Economic Growth 0.07 0.00
Rape 0.03 0.04
The UN's Human Development Index (UN, Wiki) - shows similar data but based on countries instead of states.

Milgram's Experiment (Wiki)

This is why Altemeyer's work is so important.  People that are Right Wing Authoritarian can be very dangerous.

YouTube - Milgram's Obedience to Authority Experiment 2009 1/3
                 Milgram's Obedience to Authority Experiment 2009 2/3
                
Milgram's Obedience to Authority Experiment 2009 3/3

Examples

These are not only examples of authoritarian behavior but also of how current problems are caused by the actions of politicians where the Democrats and Republicans agree on the policy.

Prison

The U.S. has more people in prison that any other country in the world (Wiki).  This is a result of the authoritarian mind set of the law makers when there was a "crime wave" in the 1980s and 1990s (Wiki).  As a result about half the people in prison are there for victimless crimes and need to be released and also have their rights restored.  The "Tough On Crime" laws, like Three Strikes (Wiki) need to be repealed.  The War on Drugs (Wiki) needs to be stopped both because it's wrong and because, like all wars, it's expensive.
YouTube - Stanford Prision Experiment
IMDB - The Experiment
60 Spins Around the Sun (IMDB, NetFlix) - Randy Credico & his work on prison reform

In the book My Life with Lifers (2012) Elaine Leeder makes that case the the majority of lifers have reformed themselves in spite of the prison system and no longer belong behind bars.  So it's not just the pot laws that need reform, it's much bigger than that.

Brooke on Prison

Law & Disorder by Mark Foire (00:01:36)



The Mean World Syndrome by Media Education Foundation

California Prisons: Cruel & Unusual Blues


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Prison -

Teen Pregnancy

The U.S. is No. 1 of the industrial countries in teen pregnancy.
Joycelyn Elders (Wiki) was the U.S. Surgeon General while Democrat Bill Clinton was president and fired for honestly answering a question about masturbation.  At that time (and still in 2014) the official U.S. policy was that teenagers should abstain from sex.  The Republican position on anything sex related is from the dark ages.  And even today under Obama the surgeon general advice dances around contraception in education, see:

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior - from their web site as of May 2012 but is dated 2001. It's an eleven year old policy that hasn't been updated.

U.S. Children living in poverty

Tens of millions of children living in poverty in the world’s richest countries - Brussels, 29 May 2012 – UNICEF - Report Card 10
"The Nordic countries and the Netherlands have the lowest rates of relative child poverty, at around seven per cent. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have rates of between 10 and 15 per cent, while more than 20 per cent of children in Romania and the United States live in relative poverty"

Making Sex Normal: Debby Herbenick at TEDxBloomington

In the talk starting at 05:38 are U.S. maps showing Gonorrhea and HIV.  Notice that the authoritarian states have a much higher infection rate than other states.
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End War in all it's forms

Where do the other candidates stand on the Defense (war) budget and foreign military bases?  This is the No. 1 expense of the U.S. and is taking money away from other uses.

Any other "War on . . . " needs to be looked at in the light of ending it.
Wiki: List of countries by military expenditures - U.S. 711 Billion, China 143 Billion - the U.S. spends more than all the other countries combined on war.
Wiki: List of countries by number of military and paramilitary personnel - U.S. has 4.7 soldiers per 1,000 population, a much smaller fraction than 49 other countries. 
When you combine the above two statistics you can see that the U.S. spends the money on equipment, like aircraft carriers, fighter planes, bombs, bullets, etc.
Wiki: List of countries by level of military equipment - the U.S. has 12 aircraft carriers, no other country has more than 2

Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism 2005 by Robert A. Pape - He makes a good case that suicide terrorists have a strategic goal of getting an invading army to withdraw.  The invading army is from a democracy (there is no point in trying to change the mind of a dictator) and the terrorists have a religion that's different from the invading military.  It's very clear that the religion of the terrorists is a secondary factor.  The primary factor is that they are being invaded.

This means our foreign policy is wrong on many counts, especially stationing U.S. troops in non Christian countries.  Much better to get them all out ASAP.

Institute for Economics and Peace (Wiki) - 2012 Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks the U.S. at 88 out of 158 countries. 
The Economic Consequences of War on US Economy.pdf - "The higher levels of government spending associated with war tends to generate some positive economic benefits in the short-term, specifically through increases in economic growth occurring during conflict spending booms. However, negative unintended consequences occur either concurrently with the war or develop as residual effects afterwards thereby harming the economy over the longer term.

War on Terrorism

Wiki: Criticism of the War on Terror

YouTube: Days of Revolt - Why the Brutalized Become Brutal - Chris Hedges - 22 soldiers per day commit suicide in the U.S. - not because of what was done to them but because what they have done.

War on other countries

The U.S. is the world's imperialist war monger.  We must remove all ability of the President to declare war. The Constitution says it's the job of Congress to declare war.  If we are really attacked AND the enemy is really known, I think Congress will act.
The 700-plus foreign military bases need to be closed.  Not only is what we're doing ugly, but it's also extremely expensive.  We simply can not afford it.
Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope (American Empire Project) by Chalmers A. Johnson (2010)
The Book Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum (2005) explains the current U.S. situation.

TED: Regina Dugan: From mach-20 glider to humming bird drone
- why spend all this money on what will become a faster Predator drone instead of doing some good?

Bill of Rights Defense Committee - Issues
Biometric identification and tracking, Due process, Executive power, Freedom of speech and dissent, Government secrecy, Immigration, enforcement, Infiltration of First Amendment-protected groups, Militarization of local police, Military detention, Privacy, Racial profiling, Torture, Second Amendment, Surveillance and intelligence collection

In California there are FasTrak towers along the 101 freeway to monitor cars (not for charging tolls) and in areas where there are no FasTrak towers they have license plate readers.  This all goes into a data base so when asked someone can find out where you drive. Combine that with every use of a credit or charge card, or photo posted to a web page (the EXIF data on the photo often have location data and face recognition puts a name, date, time and location together) and you have a location data base for everyone in the world.

Heart and Mind-O-Matic by Mark Foire (00:01:31)



Declaration of Thingamajig  by Mark Foire (00:01:56)


War on Terror Note:  Whether you call someone a terrorist or a freedom fighter depends on which side you are on.  I think that all those the past two administrations have called terrorists are being called freedom fighters in their country.  So a war on terrorism makes no sense.  That's to say they are attacking us because of something we are doing that they can't stand.
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum (2000 & 2005)
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert Pape (2005)
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Robin Wright (2006)

The War on Drugs (Wiki)

April 2016 update
Harper's - Legalize It All, How to win the war on drugs By Dan Baum

"I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Has been a very expensive failure in many ways and needs to be ended.
The Wiki web page looks at the cost to tax payers and only uses two economic factors: law enforcement savings ($ 44 Billion) and tax revenues ($33 Billion).  But the U.S. annual spending on prisons is $ 60 Billion.  If half the prison population is there because of victimless drug related crimes there's a savings of about $ 30 Billion.  It's not clear of the wiki number for law enforcement includes the prison savings.  I think it's just the enforcement aspect of the War of Drugs.
One More Reason to End the War on Drugs: It's Spreading HIV/AIDS - June 26, 2012 By Julian Brookes Rolling Stone
TED Talk: Shereen El-Feki: HIV -- how to fight an epidemic of bad laws
"Australia and Switzerland were two countries which introduced harm reduction very early on in their HIV epidemics, and they have a very low rate of HIV among injecting drug users. The U.S. and Malaysia came to harm reduction a little later, and they have higher rates of HIV in these populations. Thailand and Russia, however, have resisted harm reduction and have stringent laws which punish drug use. And hey, surprise surprise, have very high rates of HIV among people who are injecting drugs."

From footnote 3 of  The Riddle of the Gun by Sam Harris (written just after the Sandy Hook school shootings)
Our misguided war on drugs is surely an important factor where gangs are concerned. This is another vicious circle: Like Prohibition before it, the war on drugs renders the sale of illicit drugs extraordinarily profitable while requiring that drug dealers function outside the law, protecting their investment and turf with guns. If we ended our war on drugs, the money that finances most gang activity would disappear, as would one of the primary reasons for gang violence. No doubt, gangs would remain. But with the war on drugs abandoned, our police, courts, and departments of corrections could focus on the real problem of violent crime.

Youtube - Retired Police Captain demolishes the War on Drugs

TED -Ethan Nadelmann: Why we need to end the War on Drugs Oct 2014 - Speaker's Footnotes -

The War on Fat (see my Diet and Nutrition web page)

12 June 2014 - Time magazine cover Eat Butter: Scientists labeled fat the enemy.  They were wrong by Bryan Walsh
Time's video: Ending the war on fat- the science is sound, but the politicians don't get it and are still promoting sickness.

War on Terrorism (Wiki)

Wiki defines a terrorist as people who commit "violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or, ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians)."  Notice that there's no focus in this definition, that's to say if the attack was motivated by religion then the attacks would be everywhere in the world where that difference existed.  If people in a country feed they are under attack by another country then they will focus their efforts at that country.  I think that's what happened on 9/11.

The 9/11 hijackers (Wiki) were all affiliated with al-Qaeda (Wiki) one of it's founders was Osama bin Laden (Wiki) and he explained why they attacked (Wiki).  This explanation does not involve terrorism (even though Wiki says it was a terrorist act).  From the point of view of those who planned and executed the attack thought they were defending their way of life from attacks by the U.S. in the form of sanctions against Iraq (Wiki), Presence of U.S. military in Saudi Arabia (Wiki) and by Support of Israel by the United States (Wiki).

This is a witch hunt that needs to be ended.  In the book Dying to Win: the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert Pape (2005) the case is made that they were trying to get a foreign military out of their religious region.  And that the religion of the invading military was different from that of the region and that the military came from a a democracy.

TEDx Michael Huemer - The Irrationality of Politics -

9/11 Conspiracy Theories: Chris Mohr's rebuttal to Richard Gage - This 20 part series is one of the best.
National Geographic Science & Conspiracy Part 01 -This 10 part series is also very good.

International Agreements

The U.S. has lost sight of these.

Hague Convention      of 1907 (Wiki)
Geneva Protocol        of 1925 (Wiki)
Kellogg–Briand Pact  of 1926 (Wiki)
Nuremberg principles of 1950 (Wiki)

Others

Things like jobs, the economy, Global Warming and education can not be improved unless the above issues are greatly reduced in importance.  Part of the benefit of addressing the above issues is that a huge amount of money will become available for peaceful purposes.

Justice

Here's an example that demonstrates a number of the problems.

 In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Figures, by Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story NYT April 14, 2011

The End of Habeas Corpus? By Ryan Cooper June 11, 2012 - the Supremes have come out against the Constitution - SCOTUSblog

Latif v. Obama, 11-1027 - the Supremes ruled that you are guilty unless you can prove you are innocent.

Fox News Scares Obama Admin - EPA Resignation May 3, 2012 by


Salon.com - Glenn Greenwald - With Liberty and Justice for Some (Book)

Presidential Pardons & Grants of Immunity & Cover Ups

Ford pardons Nixon for criminal activity (Wiki) - Watergate
Carter pardons G. Gordon Liddy (wiki) - Watergate
Reagan pardons George Steinbrenner (Wiki) - Obstruction of Justice, Watergate
G.H.W. Bush pardons: Elliott Abrams, Duane Clarridge, Clair George, Alan D. Fiers, Robert C. McFarlane, Caspar Weinberger - Iran-Contra, Armand Hammer CEO of the Occidental Petroleum Co. & many many others (Wiki)
Clinton pardons: Roger Clinton, Jr. - his brother,  Lewis Libby Watergate, Fife Symington III - Republican Governor of Arizona, Susan McDougal - partners with Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Henry Cisneros - Clinton's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Mel Reynolds - Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, John Deutch - Director of Central Intelligence, FALN - commuted the sentences of 16 members of FALN, a violent Puerto Rican terrorist group that set off 120 bombs in the United States
G.W. Bush pardons: Lewis "Scooter" Libby - Assistant to President George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney related to Valerie Plame & gave retroactive immunity to Verizon, AT&T, and Qwest.  "...the Bush White House had converted the DOJ into it's own political group and was firing honest prosecutors who refused to advance that agenda." (from Greenwald's book With Liberty and Justice for Some page 196)
Obama gives immunity to the telecom industry (Wiki).  He also has stopped foreign governments from prosecuting the Bush43 administration for war crimes (see: Greenwald's book With Liberty and Justice for Some starting at page 181 Philadelphia Daily News "The Day That Barack Obama Lied to Me" by Will Bunch (1 Oct 2010).

"In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. An April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution."

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Barak Obama's Righteous Drone Strikes - "has carried out 5 times as many drone strikes as Bush43...
Rather than send prisoners to Gitmo, he's taking the high road by sending them to their maker."
NYT -"Mr. Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding...to take no prisoners alive."

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive


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The Colbert Report - The Word - Due or Die

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive


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Another way justice is thwarted is by means of Executive Privilege (Wiki). Examples:

United States v. Nixon (Wiki)-- about getting the Watergate tapes
Clinton tried to use it in the
Lewinsky scandal but failed.
G.W. Bush used it on many occasions (Wiki)
The SEC used it Feb. 4, 2009 during the House Investigation of why they failed to act when information about Bernard Madoff was presented (Wiki)

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act CISPA (Wiki) - this proposal contains a grant of immunity from criminal prosecution for the companies who provide private information.  This is in addition to throwing out the 4th amendment of the constitution.

"State Secrets" (Wiki) - I believe there are a number of things that should be secret and we have the National Security Agency (Wiki) who makes and breaks secret codes.  But I also think it's very wrong for the government to hide behind the claim that something can not be disclosed because it involves something related to a state secret.   The problem is that the government is saying "trust us".  And as the book Why Leaders Lie: the Truth About Lying in International Politics by John Mearsheimer it's common for leaders to lie to their own people.  Hiding behind the claim of a state secret started with the supreme court case United States v. Reynolds (Wiki) which led to the State secrets privilege (Wiki).  The proposed State Secrets Protection Act (Wiki) would have made it harder for the government to hide what it was doing, but it could not be passed in Congress.

Education

The quality of education in the U.S. is very poor considering that we spend more than any other country on it (in terms of absolute dollars or in terms of dollars per student).

Our whole education system is geared to turn out factory workers but almost all those jobs have moved to China.

When I went to Foothill Jr. College then transferred to San Jose State there was no tuition (Wiki).  I only needed to pay for my books and lab fees.  This was part of the plan for California higher education.  When I was working in Silicon Valley there were more Masters and PhD degrees there than anywhere else on the planet.  Because of that, there were (and still are) a lot of high technology start up companies located there.  So the state of California got back much more than they invested in higher education.

When Ronald Reagan was running for Governor of California some college students threw a vegetable at him in protest of his ideas.  In retaliation, when he became governor he fired Clark Kerr (Wiki, movie: The Reagans IMDB, book: First Ladies Vol 2 Amazon) and changed the funding system of the colleges in California to make students pay, i.e. reversing the system the Brown and Kerr had put in place.  This has lead to the current situation where the UC system is so expensive (UC: admissions, does not include normal living expenses like food, clothes, computer, gas, etc.) that even if you live here it's not affordable to normal people.

This will have an impact on where high technology businesses will locate, both in terms of California and the U.S. vs. other countries.

Since the manufacturing jobs that depend on labor have been (or will be) exported to countries with lower labor rates, it's even more important to increase the level and quality of education in the U.S.

The United Nations - Human Development Report - Public Data Explorer - the U.S. is spending about 5% of GDP on education or about $750 Billion per year but the results are very poor for the money.  It's the same story as our health care.

High School Graduation rates in the U.S. are below the OECD  average, and just barley above the G20 average.  See OECD: How Many Students Finish Secondary education?

Wiki: List of countries by literacy rate
- U.S. is No. 45 , 46, 47, 50  100 (Feb 2016) a pretty poor showing. 
PS I edit the page every now and them.  When I first made it (2012) the U.S. was 45th, but each time our ranking goes down a notch or two.  Feb 2016 we are now half way down the list since there are about 200 countries in the world a ranking of 100 is average, that's to say half of the countries in the world have better education than we do.

John Gato (Wiki) says our "schooling" system was designed to put the "lesser people" in their place so they could be controlled.  I don't buy all of his ideas, but some of them may be correct.

TED Talk: José Bowen: Beethoven the businessman - it's not till the last few seconds that he makes the parallel to education, but it's a very good one.
and that leads to:

TED Talk: Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education - Khan Academy - students learn on line and do homework in class with a teacher
The Los Altos school district is using this system and it includes breaking the lessons into units that match the California curriculum.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Student Debt - the for profit schools are an embarasment & the student dept is a national disaster

Possible Solution

The educational system of Finland (Wiki) may be a better model of where we should be heading. 
Note: compulsory education is through 9th grade (Wiki) and admission to upper secondary school (17 & 18 year old) is based on GPA (Wiki).

In Taiwan there are national tests and only some percent of students can advance in public education (Wiki), so only the very best students attend public high school.
This has the effect of weeding out students who are troublemakers.  In the U.S. the schools keep all students, and the troublemakers pull down the rest.

In Denmark (Wiki) "education is compulsory for children below the age of 15 or 16, even though it is not compulsory to attend"

Now reading: Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About our Schools - and why it isn't so by Jay P. Greene
Promotes the idea of Charter Schools (Wiki) - this privatization (Wiki, Major U.S. cases all of which turned out badly) of the schools is a bad idea for a number of reasons.
The U.S. is now suffering many of the problems of the U.S.S.R in the 1960s.  One of those is that the factories in the U.S.S.R. were under contract to the government, but they did stupid things, while in full compliance with their contract.  Whenever any business comes about by privatization they have a capitalistic motive to make profit by strictly following the contract but doing things that harm society.  So although it's possible to have a successful privatization, it requires an iron tight contract and those are as common as chicken's teeth.

It used to be that the U.S. Vocational Schools (Wiki) were run by the state governments.  This provided three options for people leaving high school: college, vocational school or no further education.  But it seems most of the state run vocational schools are gone, either because their graduates could not find jobs or because they were replaced by privatization in the form of businesses offering vocational eduction who can get money from the federal government.  It turns out that some of these private schools falsified their placement rates to defraud their investors, get money from the U.S. government and to get more enrollment.  In order to have a viable vocational education system there needs to be jobs for those who graduate, but that's a questionable idea today. 

If we shrink class sizes and give schools the power to expel difficult students then we also need to think about where the expelled students end up.

Why you should take your children out of public school -
"Advice from Harvard: 10 Skills for Success in the Global Economy" - Enter your email on John's page for a free copy of his paper, or just Google the title.
10 qualities to acquire to meet the changing standards
1. Ability to define problems without a guide.
2. Ability to ask questions that challenge common assumptions.
3. Ability to work without guidance.
4. Ability to work absolutely alone.
5. Ability to persuade others that yours is the right course.
6. Ability to debate issues and techniques in public.
7. Ability to re-organize information into new patterns.
8. Ability to discard irrelevant information.
9. Ability to think dialectically.
10.Ability to think inductively, deductively, and heuristically.

The Economy

Modern Monetary Theory

Scope
MMT applies only to sovereign governments where there are no constraints on the money (for example not on the gold standard).  The U.S. federal government operates using MMT rules.  MMT does not apply to states, cities or households.  The key concept is that the government can always pay for what it wants, i.e. it's checks never bounce.  But inflation, currency exchange rate fluctuation and other things can be influenced by government spending just as in classical economic theory.  It's not a free lunch.

Introduction
April 2016 - I've been learning about Modern Monetary Theory (Wiki: MMT) and have read The Seven Frauds book (Ref) and have a bunch of MMT books on order.
Here's an introduction to the idea:
YouTube: L. Randall Wray -- MODERN MONEY: the way a sovereign currency "works" & there are a number of others by The Modern Money Network (YouTube).
Here are the pop quiz questions asked in the beginning of the video:
1. Just like a household, the government has to finance its spending out of its income or through borrowing. [ ]True   [ ]False
2. The role of taxes is to provide finance for government spending. [ ]True  [ ]False
3. The National Government borrows money from the private sector to finance the budget deficit. [ ]True  [ ]False
4. By running budget surpluses the government takes pressure off interest rates because more funds are then available for private sector investment projects. [ ]True  [ ]False
5. Persistent budget deficits will burden future generations with inflation and higher taxes.  [ ]True  [ ]False
6. Running budget surpluses now will help build up the funds necessary to cope with the aging population in the future. [ ]True  [ ]False
See answers below.

Profound changes occurred in 1934, when FDR stopped allowing citizens to hold gold, and in 1971 when Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard (see Gold below).  Economic theory has been in development for hundreds (thousands) of years and virtually all current knowledge is based on what I'd call "old thinking", that's to say it's flat out wrong.  What were valid ideas when we were on a gold standard are now no longer valid.  The key idea that separates MMT from Keynesian economics (Wiki) is that there was a gold standard when Keynes was formulating his ideas.  So MMT shares some ideas with Keynes, but has some differences.  Important Note: Going back to the gold standard would be a huge mistake.  It only worked for a few decades after W.W.II. and NOT prior to that like including the great depression.

Keynes recommends deficit government spending (Wiki: Fiscal Policy) when there's a recession as does MMT.  But a faster way would be to reduce taxes, for example have the U.S. Treasury (Wiki) pay both employer and employee FICA (Wiki) taxes.  The idea is that if the FICA taxes were eliminated the determination of Social Security benefits would be difficult, but with the Treasury paying the records would be as they are now.  Note that there's no problem funding Social Security (Wiki) since the U.S. is a sovereign country and our money is not constrained to gold or the euro.  Note that employment taxes hurt the economy, not what you what any tax to do, by penalizing employers, employees and drives jobs off shore.
But the idea that lowering interest rates (Wiki: Monetary Policy, Quantitative easing) will stimulate the economy is wrong "you can not push a string" (Wiki).  If a business has no customers they don't care what the interest rate is.  Getting out of a depression or recession requires fiscal policy adjustments.

A sovereign government (U.S., Japan, Turkey, &Etc. but not EU) puts money into circulation by spending.  Banks can also generate money but that's a small fraction of the total money.  The money has value because it's what's needed to pay taxes and other government fees.

The purpose of taxation is not to raise money but rather to control the economy.  The government funds whatever it wants to do directly.  For example to pay for a war the government just writes checks to it's suppliers.  There was not a tax increase to pay for the recent wars.  The old idea that taxes are needed to pay for government programs is just flat out wrong.

The government buys some goods and services and what's left the private sector can buy.  In a hot economy, where the government competes with the private sector for goods and services inflation results.

The standard of living for U.S. citizens depends on the sum total of goods and services provided in the U.S. plus what is imported less what is exported.  Imports improve the standard of living for those getting them.  When China (or anyone) exports to the U.S. they are paid in U.S. denominated currency (dollars).  They can use those dollars to by treasury bonds which is often funding the U.S. deficit, but that's not the case.  Suppose they get mad at us what can they do: buy stuff in the U.S., get U.S. paper money to take back to China, exchange U.S. dollars into some other currency.  If the later that would cause the exchange rate between China and the U.S. to change making the dollar weaker and Chinese goods more expensive.  But the U.S. has been trying to get China to increase the value of their money for many years and if the changed their dollars to something else it would have that effect, i.e. making Chinese imports more expensive and U.S. products less expensive.

EU

When the EU (Wiki) was setup the European Central Bank (Wiki) was setup to maintain price stability.  But in times of recession the central bank needs to pump money into the economy, but the ECB does not have this power and the member countries in the EU do not have that power.  The problems will continue until there's a way to deficit spend money into circulation.  The IMF (Wiki) was founded at the Bretton Woods conference and was intended to work along side a gold standard, the Marshall Plan and other economics of the 1945 time frame, not the post 1971 non gold standard times.  It appears that the IMF is causing much more harm than good and needs to be shut down or totally revamped to take into account MMT.

MMT References

Warren Mosler (Wiki, Mosler Economics, YouTube: Modern Money Network, Amazon)

L. Randall Wray (Wiki, Amazon, UofKS, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College)
Frank Newman (Wiki, Amazon, )
Mathew Forstater (Wiki, UMKC Pubs)

Wynne Godley  (Wiki, Amazon, ) - WIki: Sectoral balances - Federal Reserve Economic Database (Wiki: FRED: MBST, ) -
Michael Hudson (Wiki, Amazon, YouTube,

 
The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy 2010 by Warren Mosler (free pdf version) He's the father of MMT.

Soft Currency Economics II: The Origin of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT - Modern Monetary Theory) (Volume 1) 2013 by Warren Mosler - on order
Six Myths that Hold Back America: And What America Can Learn from the Growth of China's Economy 2011 by Frank Newman - on order
Vimeo (2012, Suny Global Center): “Six Myths That Hold Back America- and What America Can Learn From the Growth of China’s Economy” - (1:20:26) Frank Newman (Title is book title)
The six myths:
1. Asian nations are bankrolling the U.S.
2. Treasuries "crowd out" financing for the private sector.
3. If everyone tries to save more, the nation will save more, and Investment, GDP, and employment will increase.
4. If the deficit is reduced, then national Saving and Investment will increase.
5. Deficits create great burdens of repayment and taxes for our children.
6. If the U.S. does not get its fiscal deficit reduced soon, U.S. Treasuries will face the same problems as bonds of Greece and Ireland.
Freedom from National Debt – May 2, 2013 by Frank Newman - on order
The Observer Aug 31, 1997: Curried Emu - the meal that fails to nourish by Wynne Goodley -
London Review: Maastricht and All That Oct 1992 by Wynne Godley - "The central idea of the Maastricht Treaty (1991 Wiki) is that the EC countries should move towards an economic and monetary union, with a single currency managed by an independent central bank. But how is the rest of economic policy to be run?"
 
Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire by Michael Hudson 1972 - may be the first book to describe American Dollar Hegemony (Wiki: Dollar hegemony)

Understanding Modern Money:The Key to Full Employment and Price Stability 2006 by
L. Randall Wray (free KindleUnlimited version)
MMT, The Euro and The Greatest Prediction of the Last 20 Years (free html) based on a 1992 article by L. Randall Wray
YouTube: L. Randall Wray - Modern Money Theory: Intellectual Origins and Policy Implications -
Theoretical basis of MMT:
Georg Friedrich Knapp (Wiki) - The State Theory of Money 1905 -
Abba P. Lerner (Wiki) - Functional Finance 1943 (Wiki) - government should finance itself to meet explicit goals, such as taming the business cycle, achieving full employment, ensuring growth, and low inflation.
Beardsley Ruml (Wiki) - Taxes for revenue are obsolete (free pdf)  1946 - We learned from W.W. II that taxes do not fund spending.
Hyman Minsky (Wiki) - Financial Instability Hypothesis (Wiki) - "Stability is destabilizing". 3 types of borrowers: hedge borrowers, speculative borrowers & Ponzi borrowers.  People are momentum investors by nature, not value investors.
Alan Greenspan (Wiki) - the Greenspan put (Wiki): supposedly eliminated risk in the financial markets, but, according to Minsky, that increased risk.  "Matt Taibbi described the Greenspan put and its bad consequences saying: "every time the banks blew up a speculative bubble, they could go back to the Fed and borrow money at zero or one or two percent, and then start the game all over", thereby making it "almost impossible" for the banks to lose money. He also called Greenspan a "classic con man" who, through political savvy, "flattered and bullshitted his way up the Matterhorn of American power and...jacked himself off to the attention of Wall Street for 20 consecutive years".
Ben Bernanke (Wiki) - The Great Moderation (Wiki) aided by the Taylor Principle (Wiki) - The pronouncement of a new stability caused instability.
Employer of last resort (Wiki)

On Taxes (goal is to drive the money, change behavior and be progressive):
Duping Dopes will not work - BitCoin will not succeed since that's their model
Taxing work is bad idea (Wiki: Payroll Tax, FICA) - regressive, discourages work, discourages employing people, favors moving jobs outside America, favors replacing people with robots
Taxing corporations is a bad tax: drives them out of America, encourages cutting deals
The Income tax: he's neutral
Likes taxing bads: alcohol, tobacco, pollution, financial transactions,
A Hut tax based on cubic feet of your house.
Inheritance tax to stop family fortunes he likes.
Levy Economics Institute - MMT Papers - Working paper 778 Modern Money Theory 101: A Reply to Critics 2013 (free pdf)
High Powered Money (Wiki) is mentioned in the paper and I didn't recognize the term and the Wiki page was less than helpful.  Warren Mosler has this to say:
"That's just cash plus dollars held by member banks in the reserve accounts at the Fed.  It was called high powered money because it was convertible into gold before 1934.  Randy (Wray) still uses it because his professor's initials were HPM (Hyman P. Minsky)."

Regarding the large upturn since 2007 (Wiki plot) L. Randall Wray says:
In any case what happened was that the Fed got confused and thought that QE would stimulate something. Exactly what, we do not know.
Fed also started paying interest on reserves--which makes them equivalent to bills. So think of the $4T of reserves as bills paying low interest.
That was the kink in the curve you saw. You could just as well exchange the reserves for bills and then the kink goes away.
Three UMKC Professors Among The Nine Who Predicted Eurozone Crisis -  and confirm that there was no profit recycling mechanism as Yanis says.

Little Book of Big Ideas: Economics 2007 by Mathew Forstater - on order


The Global Minotaur (This may not be the real problem instead it looks like not understanding MMT: see MMT above)

TED talk: Yanis Varoufakis capitalism will eat democracy unless we speak up - how the recycling systems used since W.W.II that used profits to reduce debts has now failed and currently we are accumulating both debt and cash with no mechanism for them to get together.

Minotaur


Feb 2016 - If, as Yanis Varoufakis (Wiki) says, Greece is the canary in the coal mine (Wiki) then we need to really understand what's going on.  He says there are two indications of the problem.
1. A growing mountain of debt caused by borrowing.
2. A growing mountain of cash caused by it not being used productively to reduce the mountain of debt.

Gold Standard (Wiki)
Up to 1971 (Wiki: Nixon Shock) our currency was based on gold.  The idea was that the total amount of paper money is tied to the amount of gold held by the central bank.  If times are good there should be a lot of money in circulation.  the Gold Coinage act of 1834 (Wiki) made gold the basis of our money.  Gold Certificates were used between 1863 & 1933 (Wiki) but in 1933 after the Great Depression (Wiki) citizens were not allowed to hold gold (Wiki: Executive Order 6102).  In the 1960s a guy (Bob B.) where I worked spent his vacations panning for gold and would come back with a test tube with an inch of gold dust, but it was against the law for him to smelt (Wiki) it into solid gold.  Silver Certificates (Wiki) were used between 1878 and 1964. 

Is Finance Fit To Purpose? 14 April 2016 - A quick overview of Yanis idea.

Profit Recycling by Gold Standard
If a country maintained it's money supply based on it's gold reserves then the exchange rate between countries would change if either of them changed it's money supply.  Suppose that, like after W.W. II the U.S. starts to buy more from Japan than it exports to Japan (a negative trade balance).  The U.S. ships gold to Japan in exchange for cameras, cars, TVs &Etc.  Then the exchange rate will change making those things more expensive and making U.S. goods look cheaper to the Japanese.  This happened and Japan went on a buying spree in the U.S. acquiring a lot of real estate among other things.  This also happened with Europe and Germany in particular.  The U.S. bought a lot of Volkswagen and Merecedes Benz cars, Hasselblad cameras, machine tools, &Etc.  By 1971 Europe was expecting the U.S. to ship billions of dollars worth of gold to them and Nixon turned off the gold standard.

Marshal Plan
During (and for some time after) W.W.II the U.S. accumulated a lot of gold as a result of a trade surplus.  At the Bretton Woods Conference (Wiki) in April 1944 the Marshal Plan (Wiki) was a way that the U.S. recycled it's trade surplus to strengthen Japan and Germany (the offer made to the U.S.S.R. was rejected).  This essentially sent U.S. dollars to Germany and Japan and allowed them to buy U.S. products.  So from the end of W.W.II until 1971 when the U.S. left the gold standard (Wiki: Gold Standard, Nixon Shock) the U.S. sent it's excess trade balance to other countries.  This allowed them to buy U.S. products.  PS The CIA actions in South American politics (1944 to 1971) is related to the U.S. Global Plan for Japan in protecting it's raw material suppliers.

Paul Volcker (Wiki) & American hegemony i.e. the Global Minotaur
When the Gold Standard ended so did the Bretton Woods System (Wiki) since the gold standard was part of it's construction and the U.S. was no longer running a trade surplus (we were buying a lot of products from Germany and Japan), but those countries (and most other countries) sent their money to Wall Street (the U.S. dollar was the strongest currency in the world).  So between 1971 and 2008 what Yanis Varoufakis calls the Global Minotaur served the same purpose as the Marshal Plan except instead of recycling a U.S. trade surplus it recycled the trade surplus of other countries.  In an attempt to reign in Wall Street congress passed Dodd-Frank (see good laws above) which included the Volcker Rule, but as of 2016 Wall Street is fighting it tooth and nail and it's not yet been implemented.
YouTube - Ron Paul Questions Paul Volcker During Joint Economic Committee 02 26 200 - Since 1971 (the end of Bretton Woods the stability of fiat currency (Wiki) needs to be better
On order:
Volcker: The Triumph of Persistence Hardcover – 2012 by William L. Silber 

Noam Chomsky portrays hegemony (Wiki) as a bad thing, but that was not always the U.S. goal.  Recently the U.S. has lost sight of the good it could do.
YouTube - Is the Human Species Doomed? Noam Chomsky on Hegemony or Survival  2004 talk promoting his book

But as the post 1929 financial crash laws were repealed between 1965 and 2007 (see: Bad Laws) the banks were allowed to gamble with depositors money.  For example the wide use of Collateralized debt obligations (Wiki: CDO) in association with liar home mortgage loans (Wiki) along with false AAA credit ratings (Wiki) resulted in the financial crash of 2008 (Wiki).  This killed the Global Minotaur and has allowed a lot of debit to accumulate in some places and a lot of cash to accumulate in other places instead of allowing the cash to be invested in places where there's debt to allow both accumulations to get reduced.  The 4  handmaidens of the Global Minotaur - Chapter 5 (1.Wall Street, 2. Walmart, 3. the ideology and politics of 'trickle-down' and 4. toxic economic theory)  These are discussed in Chapter 5 The Beast's handmaidens.  Note the 2008 crash has killed the Global Minotaur but the handmaidens are still around and out of control, sort of like the Sorcerer's Apprentice (Wiki)

Note: Walmart pays more than the minimum wage, but virtually all of it's employees are below the poverty line which means they qualify for food stamps and other government aid.  So the government is subsidizing Walmart, i.e. privatize the profits and socialize the losses.  Walmart is a socialist business.  I'm not saying it's a bad idea, rather I'm saying it's not fair to allow corporations to work in a socialized economy yet not allow people to do it.

A related idea is the "part time worker" (Wiki) and/or "independent contractor" (Wiki) - these are both ways that employers get around the requirement to provide benefits to their employees that they otherwise would be required by labor laws to provide.

What's needed is a way to recycle excess debt or cash so neither accumulates.

The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy by Yanis Varoufakis 2015 (with new Chapter 9 A world without the Minotaur) - highly recommended (free 2011 edition.pdf)
http://www.ted.com/talks/yanis_varoufakis_capitalism_will_eat_democracy_unless_we_speak_up (YouTube)
http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/
DiEM25.org - DiEM25 is in the air – a preliminary Q&A (31 Jan 2016) - it would be a mistake if the U.S. did not join this discussion.
 Vicious Disequilibrium by Yanis Varoufakis 2014 - easy to understand
A world without the Global Minotaur: Why is the world economy failing to recover? by Yanis Varoufakis 2012
The Global Minotaur: An Interview with Yanis Varoufakis 2012 - Q&A
Modern Political Economics: Making Sense of the Post-2008 World 2011 - expensive textbook, but a lot is free on Amazon in Look Inside!

In the first chapter there's reference to a Monthly Review Volume 55, Number 3 (July-August 2003) paper: The Global Minotaur by Joseph Halevi & Yanis Varoufakis (it's behind a pay wall but here's a free version pdf)
Here's a 2015 YouTube talk by Joseph Halevi:
Joseph Halevi - Farewell Lecture - the '29 crash was because of oligopoly (Wiki) not monopoly (Wiki).  Also there are two distinct pricing structures one for raw goods (cost of extraction) and one for industrial goods (labor?).

Modern Political Economics: Making Sense of the Post-2008 World 2011 by Yanis Varoufakis, Joseph Halevi, Nicholas J. Theocarakis - pricey so haven't read the book, but have read the free Amazon part pg 338 Kissinger & Volcker's plan mentioned. 
Volcker - Quarterly Review of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (The political Economy of the Dollar (FRBNY.pdf Quarterly Review winter 1-12) and the Fred Hirsch (Wiki) Lecture at Warwick University, Coventry November 1978:
"It is tempting to look at the market as an impartial arbiter ... but balancing the requirements of a stable international system against the desirability of retaining freedom of action for national policy, a number of countries, including the US opted for the latter...'
and quoting Fred Hirsh:
"[A] controlled disintegration in the world economy is a legitimate objective for the 1980s."

22 May 2013 - Jared Huffman has his first telephone Town Hall meeting.  I was No. 6 to ask a question "What was he doing to bring back Glass-Steagall?" but after over a dozen answers he didn't get to my question.  At the beginning he said he would answer everyone's questions off line if not on line, but as of 13 Oct 2014 he has not answered this one.  See the TED talk above Capitalism will eat democracy for an explanation of how politicians no longer can control the financial markets.

He also responded to a direct question where I was in disagreement with the idea of taxing internet transactions.  It turns he is a sponsor of "H.R. 684, the Marketplace Fairness Act".
So here's the federal government making a law about sales tax that will very substantially increase record keeping and customer disclosure requirements.  The idea that people will buy on line instead of locally to save paying the sales tax ignores the reality that the shipping costs are typically much higher than the sales tax.  The definition of a "small business" that's exempt from the proposed law is sales below one million dollars, but that's far different than the definition of a small business in other branches of government where it's 20 or 30 million dollars in annual sales.

The book Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics by Nicholas Wapshott (Wiki) 2011 - Both Keynes and Hayek started by looking into the causes of the Great Depression (Wiki) from, two very different points of view.  Hayek (Wiki) based his Microeconomic (Wiki) ideas which looks at the actions of individuals whereas Keynes took a top down Macroeconomic (Wiki) view.  That had never been done before.  In my opinion Microeconomics is a failed idea because humans (and other primates) do not behave rationally (Wiki) when making decisions involving loss (Wiki).  During depressions everyone throws out Hayek and adopts the Keynes idea that government should borrow and stimulate the economy.  From the end of W.W.II to the election of Ronald Reagan (Wiki) Keynesian economics (Wiki) were popular.  Reagan had a foot in both camps, he cut taxes in line with Hayek and he radically increased spending by borrowing in line with Keynes.  But beginning in the 1980 some the ideas of Hayek became popular.  From pg 219:
"Hayek's utopianism often spilled over into religiosity.  As his disciple Ralph Harris described it, "once . . . you understand there is no other way to preserve the substance of individual freedom except through dispersed property ownership, . . .  you can say it's almost like a religious belief . . . I have said - and it's offended some of my other Christian friends; they have said this is awful, sacrilege- . . .  that the market is almost god-ordained"21 In Hayek's vision, government would be left to manage only those elements of society that could be run by no one else, such as defense.  Among the services Hayek believed should be privatized were "all those from education to transport and communications, including post, telegraph, telephone and broadcasting services, all the so-called 'public utilities,' the various 'social' insurances and, above all, the issue of money."22 Tellingly, and perhaps surprisingly for those who subscribe to Hayek's general aims today, he advocated mandatory universal health care and unemployment insurance, enforced, if not directly provided, by the state, and he believed there should be free movement of labor across national borders."

21. Interview of Ralph Harris (Wiki), July 17, 2000 Commanding Heights, PBS
22. F.A. Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty, VOl 3: The Political Order of a Free People, Univ of Chicago Press 1979, pg. 147
This included steps to privatize the U.S. Postal Service, deregulation of the banking system &Etc.

The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper 2013 (First published in 1945 as 2 volumes, this book combines them and adds some new information) - on order

Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire by Berman, Morris (Wiki: links) 2006 - on order

The Twilight of American Culture by Berman, Morris 2001 - on order

Social Change and Scientific Organization: The Royal Institution, 1799-1844, by Berman, Morris 1978 - on order

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges 2007 (Wiki: Links, Amazon) - on order because of Donald Trump (Wiki)

Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy by Michael Hudson (Wiki: )2015 - looks very interesting
Episode #91.2 // Michael Hudson on Killing the Host - 1 hour audio interview based on the book
Government Debt and Deficits Are Not the Problem. Private Debt Is. - 2013 paper
The Economic Crisis & Crisis Theory II 2014 - includes a video  Alan Freeman Consumption, Profit and Finance: why can't the left get it right? (0:00 to 21:45), Andrew Kliman Were Corporations--or Corporate Executives--Really Hogging a Bigger Share of the Income Workers Produce? No. (23:00 to 45:35), Michael Hudson The New Austerity: Feeding the FIRE sector overhead (46:45 to 1:50:00), Q&A (1:50:30 to end)
Banks through out history, even when Marx was writing, only lent money to already existing products, not to industry or business.
Michael Hudson, Financial Parasites, Left Forum 2014 Excerpts- Parasite different than Vampire Squid - an excellent 30 minute explanation of his idea
Michael Hudson: Money & Debt 2012 - historical overview and how canceling debts makes sense.
MMT vs. Austrian School Debate 2013 - Warren Mosler (Wiki, Amazon, home page) for MMT (Wiki) - The Austrian ideas work with fixed exchange rates, but not when rates float, so after 1971 no longer works.  In today's floating rate world MMT describes how things work.

Economic History

Mercantilism (Wiki) was the economic system from the 1500s to 1800s replaced by Adam Smith's Capitalism.  "Most of the European economists who wrote between 1500 and 1750 are today generally considered mercantilists."  "In modern economic theory, trade is not a zero-sum game of cutthroat competition because both sides can benefit."

The Wealth of Nations (Wiki) laid out what's called classical economics including the concept of the Invisible Hand (Wiki).  I think the Invisible Hand sort of worked in Adam Smith's time (i.e. before the Industrial Revolution (Wiki) and large corporations), if there was a retail mom and pop store that was doing something underhanded you could easily open a shop that was fair and be successful, but that no longer is the case with large corporations.

There was a change in focus from the King's wealth to the wealth of the population. 
PS. I think neoclassical economics (Wiki) is a waste of time because humans do not make good decisions under negative conditions i.e. they do NOT act as rational persons.  There are a number of TED Talks on the topic of how humans and chimps make the wrong choice when loss is involved.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Wealth Gap -

Monetary Theory

This is a subset of economic theory and addresses how the amount of money will be determined.  There are two major historical schools of thought:

British Banking School (Wiki, Fiat Money)

Wanted to issue paper money with no reserve requirement on the amount of gold deposits.

British Currency School (Wiki, Gold Certificate, Silver Certificate, Gold Standard)

Supported the Bank Charter Act of 1844 (Wiki) which said that only the central bank could issue new paper bank notes and then only if they were backed 100% by gold.

Homo economicus (Wiki)

The idea that people are rational in their decisions relating to money.  It's not true on a number of levels.
The book "How we Decide" by Jonah Lehrer goes into some depth about how our mind works and it's not how most people think it works.
When humans make a choice where gain is involved they act rationally, but when making a choice where loss is involved they make very poor choices, this is also true for the grate apes.
This means that the basis of most microeconomic theory (Wiki) is flawed.

Money based on debt (Wiki)

When a bank makes a loan they just make two entries in their books. One puts the principal amount into your checking account (as a bank liability) and the other puts the principal amount into their collection of assets.

Example:
You borrow $100,000 for 30 years at 6%.  The amount of money created is $100,000.  Your checking account entry is a liability for the bank and your loan is an asset for the bank.
But, you need to pay back close to $216,000.
This is a big problem because the money to pay back the interest was NOT created.  There is no provision to create money for the interest.  Where is it going to come from?
Either the economy keeps on growing putting new money in the system, some of which is used to pay off old loans or there are bankruptcies that cancel loans.
A possible way around this is to eliminate interest from the system.
Islamic banking and finance (Wiki) does not allow interest and while the religious components don't make sense, the basic idea seems valid.
One way of doing this would be to make banks a utility operated by government paid employees where no interest is charged and the bank partners with the borrower.

Capitalism- It's OK if Regulated but can be so much more -> Capitalism 2.0

The year 1776 is notable for (1) the Declaration of Independence and (2) the publication of the Wealth of Nations (Wiki) by Adam Smith, the basis of Capitalism.  Prior to this there was Feudalism (Wiki).  At the time products were made by craftsmen one at a time, and there was no manufacturing, electricity, plumbing, etc.  A high technology business was making cast iron cookware.  So the philosophy of doing what’s in your own self interest (greed) and an invisible hand (Wiki) will guide you for the good of society might have worked then.  But greed is no longer working and we need to move on to a better idea.

Note: in the book Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline (2012) Morris Berman makes the case that the United States was founded on the idea of the swindle.  He bases this on the group of people who founded the U.S. being driven by the idea of getting away with something.  Note the founding fathers were all: white men who owned slaves.

The Constitution was ratified over a dozen years after the Declaration of Independence was signed and so our economic system of greed and the "invisible hand" was built into it not only in terms of the economic system but things like the legal system.

Joseph Stiglitz: Smith's "Invisible Hand" a Myth? (00:02:35)


 
90 years later in 1867 Carl Marx published Das Kapital (Wiki) and said Capitalism could not work and socialism was the answer.  The U.S.S.R. tried socialism and it failed in 1989.

John F. Nash won the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics for his theory of Governing Dynamics.  In the movie A Beautiful Mind the bar scene is an example of his two part idea that starts with Adam Smith’s Capitalism and adds a second idea:  “doing what is in the best interest of the group”.
http://www.end2partygovernment.com/2012Issues.html#ASvJN <- the 3 minute bar scene
We need to move to Capitalism version 2.0.

Wiki: List of countries by income equality - The U.S. is in the group of third world countries.

Fractional Reserve Banking (Wiki, Criticism)

Has built in the idea of a growing economy and that's not sustainable.  This needs to be changed.
YouTube - Money As Debt-Full Length Documentary - the only item they may have wrong is the idea that spending on infrastructure promotes the economy.  I think R&D on sustainable projects would be a much better way for the government to spend money.
ContagionEx by by Mark Foire(00:01:32)

The Laffer Curve & Voodoo Economics


Nick Hanauer - 2012 TED Talk (pulled by TED) March Long Beach
Are the rich America's job creators?
at The Last Word, at YouTube1, Who are the job creators? by Nick Hanauer (Wiki, TED controversy)
A newer 2014 version: http://www.ted.com/talks/nick_hanauer_beware_fellow_plutocrats_the_pitchforks_are_coming - March 2016 he's got it correct.
"Saving American Capitalism" with Nick Hanauer -

When Reagan cut the marginal tax rate G.W. Bush used terms like "voodoo economics".  The reason was that what Reagan said was that by cutting the marginal tax rate the government would take in more money.  This is a counter intuitive idea, you would think that raising the marginal tax rate would increase income and the cutting it would lower government income.  But that simple thinking does not take into account what's called elasticity of tax rates or the Laffer Curve (Wiki).

Prior to the Reagan tax cuts the marginal tax rate was 70% (IRS: 1980 Marginal Tax Rates).  What this means is that the IRS takes 70 cents of the next dollar of income made.  This caused stupid behavior like buying tax losses (Wiki: Tax Shelter) rather than trying to actually make more money.  It caused those paying the tax to do stupid things.  For more on how incentives effect behavior see the books with Freakonomics (Wiki) in the title.

The Laffer curve says that if the effective tax rate is zero then the government will collect a very small amount of money by means of charitable contributions.  If the effective tax rate is 100 percent then the government will collect a very small amount of money from those who volunteer to work for free.  Somewhere between 0 and 100 percent there's an optimal tax rate that will bring in the most money.  If the current effective tax rate is higher than the optimum rate then lowering the tax rate will result in bringing in more money.  And that's where we were in 1980.  So when the marginal rate was lowered there was a huge influx of money. The tax cut part of what Reagan did worked well.  The thing he did wrong was the massive increase in war spending.  Instead of a peace dividend (Wiki) we got massive military expansion at a time when the U.S.S.R. had disintegrated. (Wiki: Peace Through Strength).  Some critics of tax cuts cite the increased national debt when Reagan left office as proof of it's failure, but that ignores the military spending.


Today (2012) we are at the other end of the Laffer curve, i.e.the marginal tax rate is about 15% (Huffington Post: Marginal Tax Rate Chart).  So raising the marginal rate will bring in a lot more money into the government.

Note that the Laffer Curve is not Trickle-down economics (Wiki).  This is a very false idea.

Adam Smith vs. John Nash -> Capitalism 2.0

Adam Smith (Wiki) is commonly credited with formulating the idea of Capitalism or free markets.  He published The Wealth of Nations (Wiki) in 1776 this is at the start of mass production and before the problems caused by large corporations were known. Smith thought that when everyone works for their own best interest an "invisible hand" guides them to also do what's best for society.  There was no electric or phone service and plumbing was yet to come to homes.  All businesses were family run.   Free market "hands off" capitalism failed in the early 1900s with the advent of big business and big banking.  This led to government regulation of business and banking.

After W.W. I Russia was in a very bad way economically, and medically (Wiki) which allowed Lenin to stage the October Revolution (Wiki) and install the Communist party in Russia which used the ideas of Karl Marx for their economic system.  This economic system did not work and the U.S.S.R. fell apart in the late 1980s.

Capitalism can work when applied to a competitive market, for example things sold in grocery and hardware stores.  But it's not so good when applied to monopolistic cases like utilities.

John Nash (Wiki) won the Nobel prize for his idea that there are two factors that determine the best outcome (1) what's best for the individual and (2) what's best for the group he is in.     This has implications for both national and world wide economic theory.

See the bar scene from A Beautiful Mind (a bio on Nash) for a practical explanation of his idea.

Bar Scene from A Beautiful Mind: Governing Dynamics by John F. Nash  "Adam Smith was Wrong" (00:03:16)


This means that the Republican Party ideas about economics are based on a false idea "free market capitalism" and a false idea "voodoo economics" about tax cuts.

Using Nash's idea we will get the best outcome if we do what's best for the Earth and what's best for us individually.  It may be a good idea to call this Nashism rather than keep using the word Capitalism.  This has a profound impact on economic thinking.

Brooke on Capitalism 2.0







Alexis de Tocqueville
  (Wiki: Democracy in America) -  “self-interest properly understood.” looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.

"Tocqueville warned that "modern democracy may be adept at inventing new forms of tyranny, because radical equality could lead to the materialism of an expanding bourgeoisie and to the selfishness of individualism. In such conditions "we lose interest in the future of our descendents...and meekly allow ourselves to be led in ignorance by a despotic force all the more powerful because it does not resemble one." Tocqueville worried that if despotism (Wiki) were to take root in a modern democracy, it would be a much more dangerous version than the oppression under the Roman emperors or tyrants of the past who could only exert a pernicious influence on a small group of people at a time. In contrast, a despotism under a democracy could see "a multitude of men," uniformly alike, equal, "constantly circling for petty pleasures," unaware of fellow citizens, and subject to the will of a powerful state which exerted an "immense protective power". Tocqueville compared a potentially despotic democratic government to a protective parent who wants to keep its citizens (children) as "perpetual children," and which doesn't break men's wills but rather guides it, and presides over people in the same way as a shepherd looking after a "flock of timid animals."

Privatization (Wiki)

It turns out that the Bush43 administration has put a poison pill into the Postal Accountability Act of 2006 (Wiki) (truth-out).  This was part of a larger move to privatize everything. 
In Eat the Rich by O'Rourke (Wiki, Amazon) the chapter on Russia during the cold war has information on how poorly the factories worked.  The description fits most cases in the U.S. where a government monopoly is privtized.  What happens in both cases is that the business operates strictly to the letter of their contract and they find loopholes that allow them to optimize some other parameter (minimizing material requirements for the USSR and maximizing profits for the U.S.).

Jobs

The jobs went overseas because of trade agreements we made that allowed corporations to do that.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAFTA#U.S._deindustrialization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAFTA%27s_effect_on_United_States_employment 

Note: caution is needed when looking at exports and imports after NAFTA because we then started exporting a lot of sub assemblies to Mexico and Canada that came back to us a final products.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GATT
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Organization 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_World_Trade_Organization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Standards_in_the_World_Trade_Organisation#Problems_with_the_Current_Approach

Infrastructure

The TED Talk: Yasheng Huang: Does democracy stifle economic growth? makes the case that infrastructure follows the economy, it does not lead it.  That's to say making a big investment in infrastructure in the hope of stimulating the economy may not be a good idea.

The reason to invest in infrastructure now (2012) is because in a poor economy you can get more done for each dollar spent.

But for the long term it's much better to spend on R&D.  But not for things like a Mach-20 replacement for the current Predator drone (TED: Regina Dugan: From mach-20 glider to humming bird drone) , but things to help society.

Wiki: List of countries by number of broadband Internet subscriptions - the U.S. is No. 27 (28%) when ranked by percent of the population with broadband connections.  Liechtenstein has 64%.  This is an area were the U.S. government could do a lot of good, like when Eisenhower built the U.S. Interstate Highway system.  Getting a lot of our population connected by broadband internet would greatly increase our ability to communicate not only with each other but with the world.  2014 Google may be doing a lot to increase internet connectivity, but it may be just a way to sell advertizing space, i.e. they are doing it to make money.

Health Care

The PBS Frontline "Obama's Deal" goes into how he campaigned against the politicians who made the Medicare Part D midnight deal to prevent the SSA from negotiating prices of medicine, but when he wanted to pass his Obama Care medical package made a deal with the big pharmaceutical companies right after he made a deal with the insurance companies to take single payer (Medicare for all) off the bargaining table.  His health plan was written by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.  The big problem it has is profiting from peoples medical problems and the government forces everyone to pay those profits.  It's way too expensive and if implemented the costs will go up astronomically. 

Jan 2014 - So far there has been a lack of enrollment by young people since they will be paying premiums that will be going to benefits for older people.  By April 2014 we'll know if the system will require a massive federal subsidy to the insurance companies.  That's to say taxpayer money going to the profits of the insurance business.

The PBS Frontline special Five Capitalist Democracies & How They Do It (Watch on line) looked at: United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland.  In no country was there any business making profits on peoples first order medical problems and there were no people going into bankruptcy because of medical expenses.  When private insurance companies were providing medical insurance they were not allowed to make profits on that business.

I've personally seen the Taiwan system first hand and think it's great.  For many people it would make sense to buy a round trip first class plane ticket, go to Taiwan (or other county) and have the treatment done off shore and return to the U.S.  The savings will more than pay for the plane ticket and expenses.  For many procedures it makes sense to fly to Canada or Mexico and pay their going rate which are a tiny fraction of the U.S. rates for the same procedure.

An interesting fact is that Japan set the price for various imaging procedures (spiral CAT, MRI, etc.) at a very low level.  Japan is one of the key sources of high technology imaging equipment and the manufacturers developed newer lower cost machines to comply with the government low cost target.  It turns out that my hospital has the spiral CAT scanner that was developed because of the Japanese medical system.  So I'm seeing a benefit from their health care system.  The implication is that if the U.S. does a similar thing a benefit may show up in other places in the world.  This is consistent with John Nash's Governing Dynamics.

YouTube: Health Care: Cuba vs. U.S. - (0:01:15) Apr 8, 2016 -

Sustainability

Some of the products made in the early 1900s are still serviceable today whereas products made today to perform the same functions will only last a short time.  It's my understanding the car makers now use Mean Time Between Failures (Wiki: MTBF) as a design parameter for each model but it's not public information.  I'd like to see manufacturers advertize the MTBF.  For example when shopping for a car, you could choose how you want to trade initial cost and the life of the car.  Given the choice I'd choose a car that would last a long time over a cheap car that would need to be replaced in a few years.  For example in The Warranty Direct Top 100 Most Reliable Used Cars Of The Past Decade (Gizmag 2006) not one was made in the U.S.

New U.S. Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Wiki about Japan: MITI).  We can't do everything, so what areas should we be going after?

The idea of making products that will last a short time and must be thrown away is very short sighted and is unsustainable.

Here's an excellent video that ties together many of the issues related to the limits on growth.

There's No Tomorrow (00:34:52)


M. King Hubbert (Wiki) - quantified oil depletion (Wiki) - Peak Oil (Wiki)
Food vs. fuel (Wiki)
Industrial Revolution (Wiki) - 1750 - 1850
Note that GDP (Wiki: criticism) is NOT a measure of anything useful.  Criminal activity is included.
YouTube: Days of Revolt: How We Got to Junk Economics Part 1, Part 2,
Harper's: the new road to serfdom by Michael Hudson 2010 -
--------------
The There's No Tomorrow video is based on the implications of exponential growth and explained in this 8 part series of videos.
The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett
Part 1 - Arithmetic, Population & Energy - the magic number "70" divided by the annual growth rate 7% = time to double 10 years
Chess board & grains of wheat example -
The growth in any doubling time is greater than all the proceeding growth
Part 2 - in 70 years (about a human lifetime) the number of doublings is 2 ^ (percent), for example at 7% there would be 2^7 or 128 doublings
zero population growth is going to happen.  Table of Options with columns for Increasing Population and Decreasing Population.
Nautre will choose from the Decreasing Population list and we don't have to do anything.
Part 3 - Steady growth in finite environment - bacterial in bottle - "growth is the centerpiece of the national and global economy".
M. King Hubbert (Wiki) - graphical representation showing areas doubling
Part 4 - about oil
Part 5 - about oil
Part 6 - Definition of Modern Agriculture: the use of land to convert petroleum into food.
Ethanol from corn is a looser if you look at energy in vs. energy out
Part 7 - Liters per person of oil consumption  peaked in the mid 1970s.
"In Growth we trust"
The 1st law of sustainability: Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption or resources CANNOT BE SUSTAINED!
Population is the focus in this issue.
Part 8 - Global Warming
"If ever there was a time when the human race needs people who will think, it's right now.  It's our responsibility as citizens in a democracy to think."
Eric Sevareid's Law: "The chief source of problems is solutions." (article) - Example of the Nile river flooding.
"The Greatest Shortcoming of the Human Race is our Inability to Understand the Exponential Function."

M. King Hubbert (Wiki) is cited in both of the above videos in relation to peak oil (Wiki). The bottom line is that no system that requires growth is sustainable.
The idea mentioned above about getting back to products with a long MTBF, i.e. products designed to last 100+ years is part of a sustainable human existence.
--------------------------

Joseph Stiglitz - Problems with GDP as an Economic Barometer(00:08:06)


  Joseph Stiglitz (Wiki) - Joseph Stiglitz: Smith's "Invisible Hand" a Myth? - Vanity Fair Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% -

00:06:12) "The United States has about 10 times as many people per capita in prison as other advanced industrial countries.  That contributes to our GDP, because we have to spend money to incarcerate them.  And now some states are spending as much on prisons and on constructing them, as they are on Universities.  Well that's good for GDP.  But any measure of societal well being says it's not so good to have so many people in prison and it's a symptom of something dysfunctional."

(00:06:52) "Another example is we spend more on health care than any other country as a percentage of GDP and our health outcomes are much lower than in other advanced industrial countries, and actually lower than many developing countries.  Well, the extra money that we spend on health care shows up as a contribution to GDP. If we got more efficient our GDP could go down.   . . .You're looking at the wrong thing."

There are a number of problems when using Gross Domestic Product to measure the economic well being of a country.
Wiki: Measures of National Income: National Income and the welfare of it's citizens
Prior to 1991 the U.S. used Gross National Product (Wiki) as a measure, but then changed to Gross Domestic Product (Wiki).

"To take the United States as an example, the U.S.'s GNP is the value of output produced by American-owned firms, regardless of where the firms are located. Similarly, if a country becomes increasingly in debt, and spends large amounts of income servicing this debt this will be reflected in a decreased GNI but not a decreased GDP. Similarly, if a country sells off its resources to entities outside their country this will also be reflected over time in decreased GNI, but not decreased GDP. This would make the use of GDP more attractive for politicians in countries with increasing national debt and decreasing assets."

---------------------

Paul Gilding: The Earth is full (TED2012) (00:16:47)



James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change (00:17:52)


His Wiki web page & his own web page at Columbia University, at Goddard Institute for Space Studies:

Argo Ocean floats (Wiki) official ARGO web page.
Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Wiki: GRACE) official GRACE web page

TEDx Will Steffen - The Anthropocene (00:18:16)




Holocene (Wiki) then? Anthropocene (Wiki: Holocene extinction)

USGS Menlo Park& Climate Change

While watching this talk I noticed a number of statements that seemed to contradict high school physics.  I sent an email to the speaker with a general question and got an answer, but when I asked the harder questions he "was too busy" to answer.

Projected Climate Change Impacts in California March 22, 2012-
Top 5 CO2 Emitters
Rank
Country
2010
Giga Tons
of CO2
2010
% of
Total
2009 Tons
Per Capita
CO2
1999-2009
% Change
In Co2
emissions
1
China
7.7
25.4
5.1
+161%
2
United States
5.4
17.8
16.2
-13%
3
India
1.6
5.3
1.4
+100%
4
Russia
1.6
5.2
10.8
-27%
5
Japan
1.5
3.6
8.6
-0.3%
"Until about 2007 the U.S. was No. 1 for total CO2 emitted."
The 13% decrease in the U.S. is mainly due to fuel efficient cars.

(00:43:00) The 2007 IPCC estimates about a 1 meter sea level rise by 2100.
In the new 2014 (BC: pub date) assessment more factors will be included and probably the 1 meter rise will occur sooner. (didn't happen, IPCC 2013 see Fig 13.10, pg 1180 for the results of 5 models, average about 0.5 meters
(00:44:39) The global map of sea level shows the California coast not being effected that much, but Japan will see a lot of change.
San Francisco, Seattle & San Diego are experiencing a 2.2 cm (1 inch) increase in mean sea level per decade.
(00:45:40) Most (2/3 to 3/4) of the sea level change is due to thermal expansion
00:46:18) Globally sea level is rising 0.32 cm/year i.e. 3.2 mm/year or about 1 foot per century
(00:48:27) If we keep on with business as usual by 2500 Florida and San Francisco may be under water.

There are some problems with this presentation.  I've asked the presenter of the talk but he's too busy to respond.
1. The tide gauges at Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego are showing a linear ocean rise of 2 mm per year, or 500 years to get to a 1 meter rise.  The slide at 00:45:03 shows 2 cm/decade, why this strange choice of units, is it to confuse us into thinking it's 2 cm/year?  But later in the talk he's talking about 2 cm per year which calculates to 1 meter in 50 years.  Where did the change come from?   Wiki: Sea Level Rise: IPCC 3rd Assessment: Minority uncertainties and criticisms regarding IPCC results)
2. The reason for ocean rise is given as 2/3 to 3/4 due to expansion.  That means the ocean is warming, but later in the talk he says there's more and more CO2 in the ocean leading to problems for the formation of skeletons for sea life.  But a warming ocean should be releasing CO2.
3. The plot at 00:53:53 has three lines: atmospheric CO2, ocean surface CO2 and ocean surface pH.  This reminds me of the debate about does the Sun orbit the Earth or does the Earth orbit the Sun.  That's to say is the atmospheric CO2 driving the ocean surface CO2 or is the ocean surface CO2 driving the atmospheric CO2?
4. The slide says "ocean surface CO2" because that's the place where acidification is taking place.
5. In the California Coastal Commission paper on sea level rise they point out that tide gauges only measure the relative position of the ocean and the gauge.  Because of plate tectonics (Wiki) the land is also changing elevation and that needs to be backed out of the tide elevation numbers for each measuring station individually.  The paper also acknowledges that expansion plays a large part in ocean rise.  Are there precision GPS stations attached to the tide guages to see how much they are changing elevation?
6. So far I haven't seen any mention of the idea that the oceans are being filled up.  A local reservoir used for drinking water has it's water level going down, but they do not really know how many acre feet are in it because they don't know how much silting and other stuff is on the bottom.  I would find it easy to believe that dead sea animals and underwater volcanoes are raising the bottom by a thickness of 2 mm per year.  If that were the case then a rise in ocean level of 2mm per year would be accounted for without any change in the amount or temperature of the water.  Has this been investigated? Contact me if you know

Tedx Talk: Melissa Garren: The sea we’ve hardly seen

Microbes in the sea generate half the oxygen we breath, 1/4 comes from land plants and 1/4 from macro algae like kelp.

I believe that the climate is changing, but I'm not convinced that the cause is all man made.  That's because the ocean is very large and as it warms it's releasing not only CO2 but also a lot of methane, but I can not get anyone to tell me how much.  We need to cut down on emissions, but a larger problem is sustainability and it's impact on economic systems.  2014 update - the idea of silting and dead animals 2mm thick every year all over the ocean bottom may be a much simpler explanation.

Recently in many places I've seen the argument that 97% of climate scientists believe that global warming is a problem. 
This is not a valid argument.(Wiki).  For example Galileo was the only scientist who thought the Earth went around the Sun, all the others thought the Earth was the center of the universe.
PG&E did some studies and found this type of appeal worked because people want to be part of the crowd.

Nov 2014 - I have the book "Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest" on order after having read some of the free part at Amazon.  In chapter 1 it's mentioned that there were survey results that suggested land movement on the order of a few millimeters per year but before Plate Tectonics (Wiki) no one paid attention to the data.  On the Wiki page they show horizontal movements for various parts of various plates on the order of 20 to 100 mm/year and if only a few percent of that was vertical movement then  you would get the few mm/year of sea level rise we are now seeing.  It seems to me that a whole ocean could rise if the plate(s) under it rose.  Sort of like lifting a bowl of soup up off a table.  If you are measuring the liquid height using a gauge on the table then lifting the bowl shows a rising water level, but there's been no addition of water and no temperature change in the water.  So I question the current model that says there are only two factors, i.e. added water (melting glacial ice) and added volume (thermal expansion).  There's a third factor geodesy (Wiki).

Sept. 19, 2014 Wall Street Journal - Climate Science Is Not Settled by Dr. Koonin - this is the most balanced paper I've read so far. (annotated pdf version)

IPCC - Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis - Full Report (1552 pages, 375 MB) I have added bookmarks to my copy.  Makes it much easier to navigate a big document like this.

Books related to Climate Change
State of Fear by Michael Crichton (Wiki) 2004 - fictional story but, like many of his books, based on facts (appendix 1: Why Politicized Science is Dangerous & a bibliography)
The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World  by Bjorn Lomborg (Wiki) 2002 - main source of data is the IPCC.
In A Dark Wood: The fight over forests and the rising tyranny of ecology  by Alston Chase (Amazon) 1995 - about spotted owls and old growth redwood forests (I live in N. California)
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300 - 1850 by Brian Fagan  (Wiki) 2000 - a lot of data based on the historical record showing the little ice age was real.
The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels 
by Brian Fagan 2013 - on order March 2016
Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years by Fred Singer (Wiki) and Dennis Avery 2007

Merchants of Doubt: How a handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes (Wiki) & Erik Conway (Wiki) 2010 - rather than make an argument with any of the information in The Skeptical Environmentalist the authors attempt an
ad hominem attack (Wiki) on some of the messengers cited in the above books.  Even that can be seen to allow for the possibility that at the time the positions were easily dependable, but the authors seem to be using today's standards on events in history.

Marijuana, LSD & Ecstasy

I believe recreational use of marijuana in all its forms (Wiki: marijuana, aka: cannabis, Kief, Hashish, Hash oil and resin) and LSD and Ecstasy should be legal in the same way alcohol is legal to use.  That implies that like tobacco it should be taxed.  Note it's legal to brew your own beer and make your own moonshine and in a similar way you should be able to grow and refine hash for you own and your friends use, but selling requires the tax stamp just like tobacco or alcohol.

Wiki: Alternatives to scheduling - "The new classification system suggested that alcohol and tobacco were in the mid-range of harm, while cannabis, lysergic acid diethylamide ("LSD") and MDMA ("Ecstasy") were all less harmful than the two legal drugs."

This means the existing federal drug schedule is based on politics rather than on scientific facts and needs to reposition these drugs into their proper place in the
Controlled Substances Act (Wiki).

H.R. 689 Rescheduling Marijuana - introduced 14 Feb 2013 - Huffman is cosponser.

The Young Turks Jun 21, 2012 - DEA Head's Absurd Marijuana Testimony


The use of Money in Politics

July 2014 -

David Cay Johnston: Governmental Capture - a one minute video.  Just as the government regulatory bodies have been captured, the government itself has been captured by the campaign funders.

--------------
10 May 2014 - Here is an email I sent to someone promoting a constitutional amendment to nullify the Citizens United vs. FEC (Wiki) decision. 

The problem is that adding an amendment to the constitution requires ratification by a 2/3 majority of the states, so even if both houses passed it that would not make it a law.  Note the Equal Rights Amendment (Wiki) was never ratified by the states so is not part of the current constitution.

I think Lawrence Lessig has a good handle on the overall problem, see his TED talk and get his book.
http://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_the_unstoppable_walk_to_political_reform
Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It

Since the states must ratify an amendment let's start with a state initiative to change the rules here.  For example here's a question I submitted at a meet the candidates meeting in town last week.  Note these were candidates for the CA state senate and assembly.

"Considering the corruptng influence that campaign finance has on making politicians more responsive to their funderes than the voters, would you promote a bill that would only allow campaign contributions from voters registered to vote for that candidate?"

As it is now all candidates get campaign contributions from pretty much everywhere, I'd guess that 90% of it comes from outside the district they are supposed to serve.  You can confirm that for federal politicians by looking at www.FEC.gov. and there's an equivalent web site for state politicians.  That means that the candidate needs to be responsive to people who may and probably do have agendas that are in conflict with the voters.

A state law would be much easier to pass and would serve as a model for other states.  It would also effect federal elections in that state.

--------------

Note that in the 1970s and 1980s politicians were accepting cash to vote for (and more importantly to kill) bills and a number of them went to jail. (Wiki: Abscam)  Today the vast majority of politicians do not accept cash bribes, but instead their campaign committee accept contributions which is legal although is still corrupt.

This very well may be the NUMBER ONE issue.  For example the current (Oct 2013) shutdown of the government is caused by the fear of Representatives that if they make an enemy of the Tea Party they will loose the next Primary election (note: fewer voters turn out at primary elections than general elections and it's easier for negative campaign money to defeat a candidate in a primary).  But the problem isn't just the Tea Party, it's anyone with enough money to campaign against a candidate, either an incumbent or challenger.

Another example of this effect is the Norquist Pledge that's been signed by 236 House members and 41 Senators as of the 112th Congress.  If any of them break their pledge to NOT vote for any tax increase they know they will be kicked out at the next primary election.  There's no way that Congress will do anything to change this situation since it's in their best interest to keep it going, even if that means bringing the country down.

We can act by promoting a Constitutional Convention where we can overturn Citizens United vs. the F.E.C. and probably McCutcheon vs FEC (SCOTUSblog) where the supremes probably will make another bad decision.
Note: this effects not only Congress, but also the Supreme Court and the office of the President.

TED Talk - Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim


Money allows a candidate to gain recognition by means of phone calls, mailing cards, letters, polls, etc, TV and radio spots and person to person contact either door to door or at public locations.  Corporate Personhood is a big part of this problem.

Secret Right Wing Money Spent On Deceptive Ads

A large part of our news media is now a propaganda operation like in the USSR in the 1960s.


Human Rights

A Cruel and Unusual Record By Jimmy Carter June 24, 2012 NYT Op Ed
UN - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - has 30 articles and the U.S. is now (2012) breaking 10 of them.
Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will By and NYT May 29, 2012

Right to Vote

The Newsroom - Tea Party is the American Taliban
Sarah Silverman | Let My People Vote 2012 - Get Nana A Gun

Diet and Nutrition

May 2014 - For the past couple of months I've been reading about bad science.  When Gary Taubes (Wiki)  finished his second book (published in 1993) on bad science "Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion" people in the physics community said if he wanted to see real bad science to have a look into nutrition and diet.  In July 2002 he published the article:  What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie? in the New York Times.  Based on this article he received a book contract that paid for four years of his time to do research, he spent 5 years and published Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease.  This book gets into the nitty-gritty of all the mistakes that were made in U.S. nutrition research resulting in pretty much all of "official" organizations telling us the wrong things to eat.  The American Medical Association, American Heart Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, &etc. all said we should eat a low fat diet.  The base of the "Food Pyramid" (Wiki) was seventy percent carbohydrates.

It turns out all of them were very wrong and carbohydrates are the real problem.  But politics prevents a change any time soon.  Note that a can of beer has the same effect on anyone's (including children) waistline and liver as a can of soda pop with sugar or a glass of organic fruit juice.

A few years ago the World Health Organization said that chronic disease (Wiki) had become a larger problem that infectious disease (Wiki).  The cost of chronic disease in terms of death and disability is staggering.  There are predictions that the impact will bankrupt Medicare in a couple of decades.

It turns out the Metabolic Syndrome (Wiki) medical problems are a very large part of chronic disease and it seems are the direct result of eating foods (carbohydrates) that are harmful.

This is a huge problem that needs to get fixed at the federal level.

For more see my Diet and Nutrition web page.

Creditability


This is a problem I discovered in Diet & Nutrition where U.S. authority figures (USDA, NIH, AMA, CDC and many others) have for decades been promoting ideas that have no basis in science and so the scientists have lost creditability.  The implication of that is a disaster since how do you know anything coming from these organizations is factual?
See: Crisis In Nutrition IV - Vox Populi & Science For Smart People both by Tom Naughton. 
Although humorous this is not far from the truth in terms of what's passing for science: Teen Boys Losing Virginity Earlier And Earlier, Report Teen Boys

Sources


http://en.wikipedia.org - this is my starting place and highly recommended  Google is not good for political ideas because there's a lot of crack pots out there.
If you use Google and pay attention to the URLs very often a Wiki page is near the top of the search results.

http://snopes.com/ - a good way to check up on forwarded emails.  Many, but not all, of these contain some type of misinformation that tries to paint someone or something in a bad light. 
I sometimes see a few of these per day.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics -  an excellent source for political news and Matt Taibbi has excellent coverage of Wall Street.

http://politics.salon.com/ - Glenn Greenwald (See above)

Supreme Court Of The United States blog http://www.scotusblog.com/ - for anything related to the Supremes.

http://www.ted.com/ - Technology, Education & Design

In the book Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline (2012) Morris Berman makes the case that the United States has already failed and we're now, like Rome, in our decline.  He cites the failure of all branches of government, the economy, &etc.  He mentions that the U.S. has a strong soviet component, not for the people but rather the corporations, that's to say the socialist policy of the government protecting business from failure. Berman, a U.S. citizen has moved to Mexico permanently because he's given up on the U.S.  Other names mentioned on this page are also U.S. citizens who have moved out of the country.  It turns out upon reading the book that he thinks technology, like say the telescope, are bad for society and likes the culture of the South around the time of the Civil war (excepting the slavery), but it was the culture that saw slavery as a good thing and it was the culture that formed lynch mobs, i.e. high authoritarian behavior.

Movie: Ethos (IMDB, Netflix) - touches on many topics and they seem to have all of them correct (except maybe the hint of 9/11 domestic conspiracy).

U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Votes, 112th Congress - 2nd Session (2012) - Prior years -

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 112th Congress - 2nd Session (2012) - Prior years -


Back to Clarke 4 Congress

Answers to MMT pop quiz:  They are all False.