Friday, January 20, 2012

Barry Does Disney Does Newt

I am not a big believer in conspiracy theories, but I do love a string of coincidences -- or, in this case, a loosely tangled web of a week's worth of unfortunate events.
First, the timeline:
Saturday: The White House signals that it will not back SOPA and PIPA -- the twin bills meandering through Congress that would censor the internet and make it harder to do the cyber version of sneaking into a movie theater without paying.
Wednesday: a national day of protest and dissent against SOPA and PIPA. Congressional sponsors of the bills drop like flies.  Hollywood millionaire ex-Senator Chris Dodd goes ballistic and says Big Entertainment will cut off Barry's Big Entertainment money. Waaaaaah.
Thursday: Barry goes to Disney World to soothe Donald Duck's ruffled feathers  be a tourism shill and promote the theme park to rich people (not Americans). You see, the Disney people also had gone ballistic over the treason of its bought and paid for politicians running away from the anti-piracy bills that Disney helped pay for. Especially since Obama is the biggest single political recipient of Disney money. As a matter of fact, Disney donates to Democrats over Republicans two to one. WTF!!
Thursday Night: ABC (a Disney subsidiary) airs the juicy interview with the second Mrs. Ex-Newt. Newt goes ballistic. 
Where does one even start?  First, let me disabuse you of any notion that I am defending Newt Gingrich. I loathe everything about this dangerous, mean little man. He must never become president. But I find it strange that as soon as Newt started gaining on Mitt Romney in South Carolina this week, ABC/Disney suddenly has this big scoop of an interview with the former wife. (It is common knowledge that the Obama campaign would rather fight Mitt than nasty Newt any day.)  The network execs were said to be absolutely agonizing over whether they should even run it, because they have consciences and stuff.  But after about an hour, they started leaking out dribs and drabs of clips, and they ran the whole thing immediately after Thursday's debate.  Which Newt had handily won. His smackdown of CNN's odious John King was worth the price of admission. These kinds of withering smackdowns are what Obama '12 can ill-afford.
Everybody was shocked, shocked, shocked that Newt wanted an open marriage. But there is only one problem with this scenario. Not only was this no scoop, it is very old news. Of course, people actually have to be readers to realize how stale this stuff is, so I guess the point is that few people bother to read in this Age d'Information. Especially those vaunted "swing" voters.

As John H. Richardson points out in an Esquire blogpost, Marianne Gingrich spilled her guts to him more than a year ago, leading to his own lengthy real scoop of an ignored article. And ABC/Disney is taking credit for its own blockbuster of non-originality?  So now, it is serious journalism's turn to go ballistic:
Her portrayal of Gingrich (writes Richardson) was devastating, complex, nuanced, and compassionate. She held nothing back. And we continued talking after the piece was published, a conversation that continues (more on that in a moment.)

And so it's kind of funny, actually, seeing news that you broke a year and a half ago being blasted out on the Internet as some kind of world exclusive. Why, it's as if we're all amnesiacs. All last night and into today, alarmed headlines have blared across the masthead of the Drudge Report. SHOCK CLAIM: Newt moved for divorce just months after she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.... Or: Gingrich Lacks Moral Character to Be President, Ex-Wife Says... Bitter Marianne Gingrich Unloads, Claims Newt Wanted Open Marriage... Or: Adviser: Marianne 'very bitter'...
Follow those links and you arrive at breathless stories about Marianne Gingrich's "first television appearance," which will be aired tonight on ABC. She will say that Gingrich "lacks the moral character to serve as President" because "his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage."

That's Disneyfication for you. It's all about the family values glitter, glitz and glamour of forcing an old coot's dirty laundry down our throats. But
back to the Disney/Barry/DNC connection.  Obama is a master at fence-straddling. I can just picture the conversation he had with his miffed Hollywood bundlers-not-lobbyists over his pretend defection from the piracy bills. (wink,nod..."It's an election year, so I can't be too obvious about helping you guys out till I'm safely back in the WH. This SOPA/PIPA thing, we just gotta kick the can down the road for a little while.... but how about I jet down to Orlando and do a giant commercial for you guys in the meantime.... and hey, how can your people help my people with the Newt problem?)

The Center for Responsive Politics has the whole scoop on the Disney Company's political heft and generous giving. It spent $3 million on lobbying Congress last year, mostly to pimp out PIPA/SOPA. (John Podesta, listed as one of the Disney lobbyists, is also the founder of Obama's favorite centrist think tank, the Center for American Progress).  Disney has "officially" given $28,800 to Obama's re-election effort this cycle, with Rick Perry coming in with sloppy seconds of only $2500. And poor Mitt got only two grand from Mickey Mouse and friends.  Newt got nada. Unless you count the free publicity Disney gave him last night.
And going back to  Obama's Cinderella photo-op: the announced purpose of his Florida visit was to make it easier for rich foreigners to come here and drop their cash, being that about half of Americans are either in or close to poverty and theme parks are beyond their means. Isn't tourism promotion one of the main functions of dictators in Banana Republics? Defined by Wikipedia, a banana republic is "a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by the collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, whereby the profits derived from private exploitation of public lands is private property, and the debts incurred are public responsibility". Sound familiar?

One of the main profit drivers in third world economies is tourism. The rich foreigners self-indulging and spending their currency in Disney World need never see the surrounding squalor of Florida, with its blighted neighborhoods of foreclosed homes and destitute citizens and private jails full of minority victims of the War on Drugs. But with the increased tourism the president is touting and increased profits to his political backers, the upside (we are told) is that the cute Disney "cast members" might see a nickel or two extra trickled down in their wage-slave paychecks.

No word yet on when Obama might fly back down to Disney to dedicate its new Anti-Pirates of the Caribbean ride.


Denis Neville said...

Karen, you are so cynical!

Obamabot news outlets are no truth vigilantes. Ergo, “Obama at Disney World, Simplifying foreign tourism to create jobs.”

"It's an election year, so I can't be too obvious about helping you guys out till I'm safely back in the WH. This SOPA/PIPA thing, we just gotta kick the can down the road for a little while....

“SOPA PIPA…I think the not quite made enough point about these types of laws is that they're really not about stemming piracy, they're about big media companies declaring that the internet is ours now, bitches!” – Atrios

Obama “rejection” of the Keystone XL pipeline, emphasizing that he did not see his rejection as a definitive statement on the pipleine project itself. “This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.” Kicking the Keystone XL oil can down the road until after the 2012 election, when the political pressures will be much less for a lame duck president, another transparent political ploy by Obama to appease his environmental base.

Barry does Disney; Barry kicks the Keystone XL oil can down the road; Barry ramps up the heinous “multi-state” mortgage settlement deal; Obamabot news outlets dutifully print the WH Newspeak talking points.

And the Obama “Love Train” just keeps chugging along, and all the Obamabots stand by the tracks waving gloriously, their range of consciousness always a little smaller…

Third rail, SHOCK, coming post 2012!

Anne Lavoie said...

Thanks for another great piece, Karen. I especially enjoy having you connect the dots for us.

Wow, I just watched Newt rip into John King during that CNN debate, and was that ever good! Here it is for anyone who missed it:

I sure hope Newtie gets the nomination just for the entertainment value alone. It would be much better than having to listen to a debate between the suave, flipflopping Tweedledee and Tweedledum, aka Rombama.

James Singer said...


Thanks. I hadn't thought of it that way before. But the vision of Crazy Uncle Newtie debating Mr Cold Fish has a lot in it's favor. High kabuki if nothing else. Maybe Obama will actually have to commit to something, and wouldn't that be a pretty.

Denis Neville said...

In the second broadcast of his new series, Bill Moyers talks with David Stockman and Gretchen Morgenson about crony capitalism.

Watch, listen, read, and weep.

Bill Moyers: “After what we've been through since 2008, the millions of lost jobs, the millions of foreclosed homes, the people whose pensions have been shrunk, you both are saying not only can it happen again, but it will happen again. I mean, I have to tell you it boggles my mind.”

President Obama’s new best friend? According to The New York Times, it is Robert Wolf. They play golf, basketball, and they talk economics when Wolf is not raising money for the President’s re-election campaign. Now, just who is Robert Wolf? Well, he's top dog at the U.S. branch of the giant Swiss bank UBS, the very bank that helped rich Americans evade taxes.

Where is Obama’s shame? There’s none on the “Love Train.

Zee said...

@Denis Neville et al.--

My Tivo box is set for a season pass to Bill Moyers' new program courtesy of alerts from both you and @Valerie.

I am especially looking forward to his interview with David Stockman on the subject of "crony capitalism," which, I think is at the heart of much of America's problems today.

Stockman is a thinking Conservative who has had the courage to stand by--and suffer for--his principles in the past, and he is standing by them now.

But if Moyers--and his audience--are willing to listen to Stockman on the subject of crony capitalism, perhaps they should also consider listening to him on the subjects of the necessity to
(1)reduce our debt and (2) either increase taxes on the middle class--not just the "rich"--or, gasp, reduce entitlements, e.g.:

If Stockman is worth listening to on one topic, perhaps he is worth listening to on another.

Anne Lavoie said...

The Obama Love Train pulled into the stations of ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news tonight.

All three evening broadcasts gave Obama free advertising for his charming performance romantically singing the line 'I'm so in love with you' from the Al Green song, Let's Stay Together'. Everyone swooned, including Barry. He was loving it and it showed. Three free ads for the lover in the White House by the three networks.

Then both ABC and CBS news went above and beyond the call of duty. In a 'tribute' to recently deceased singer Etta James, they disgustingly chose not to show Etta singing her signature piece 'At Last' but instead the one with Beyonce singing it while showing Barry and Michelle lovingly and elegantly dancing at their inaugural ball, holding each other tenderly.

So why didn't they show a film of Etta James singing her own song during a piece about her life and death? Because Barry and Michelle wouldn't be in it! To their credit, NBC showed Etta singing her own song, no Obama in sight. Anyway, that made two more free ads for lover boy, for a total of 5 freebies just tonight.

So look for more performances of the elegant, romantic crooner Barry Obama (ala Barry White). He is hoping to ride the Love Train to re-election by pulling at your heartstrings.

Get on board the Love Train. Your heart will melt. Or break.

Valerie said...

@Denis - or anyone -
Just connecting a question to your last comment on the previous post. I am willing to make some phone calls from Australia - I use my calling card all the time to tell Obama how unhappy I am with him - But I am wondering which AG's to call. Actually, I am willing to call all of them if there is a comprehensive list of which AG's are fighting for the Middle Class as opposed to collaborating with Obama and the banking industry.

Jay - Ottawa said...

PIPA, SOPA, ALAI, BIRPI, WIPO – are all of them tramps pimped out by corporations, legislators, diplomats and judges? I’m not so sure. Copyright law is complicated, but let’s hope that doesn’t keep you and me from thinking clearly about what’s fair and what’s theft.

Suppose Karen writes a book: it’s original, sardonic, and opens people’s eyes to lots of stuff the perps would like us not to know. We all know how few investigative reporters and honest critics there are in the media today. Do we want them all to end up in the garrets of the storied starving artists?

True, a relative few (I'm talking percentages here) inventors, writers and musicians are paid scandalous amounts of big money, sometimes for junk. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the majority of thinkers and artists must struggle to support themselves from their intellectual property.

Suppose it takes Karen a year or two full time to complete a manuscript then deal with a publisher who backs her with a big dollar investment to put the book in the bookstore window. She and the publisher deserve compensation for their work – no? The public should expect to pay for its use of her work, right?

But let’s say the country next door has a copyright law too, but only to protect the work of its own artists and intellectuals. Someone there can legally pirate “foreigner” Karen’s book as if it were already in the public domain, and even put it on the net where anyone in that country or back in the US (where her book is still protected) may also copy it without any royalties to the creator. No problem?

Suppose the US copyright protection for intellectual property is, say, Life + 50 years, while that for foreigners in the neighboring country is only 5 years after she publishes in the US. What’s theft in one country becomes legal after 5 years in the second. Still OK with that?

The starting line and the finish line for copyright protection should be the same for all creators, no matter which country they come from.

When the US signed on to the ever-evolving Berne Convention, it accepted that proposition. The Supreme Court in Golan v Holder (6-2) just agreed. Seems fair, especially when you look into the intent and the history of the Berne Convention. Or do we invoke American exceptionalism again?

Check these two articles (with remarkable maps and charts) on the history behind Golan v Holder and the Berne Convention going all the way back to Victor Hugo, who founded ALAI in 1878.

Kat said...

This post is brilliant. And that is coming from someone firmly in the Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone camp.

John in Lafayette said...

A little tangential to the topic, but......

I teach hospitality/tourism amangement classes and you raise a very important point that those of us who love to travel should consider when planning the next vacation.

In our introductory class we teach freshmen about the multiplier effect; the idea that money spent is good for a local economy because it is re-spent, adding to that economy a second, third, and fourth time. Tourism dollars are especially good for a local economy because people come from far away, spend their money, then go home, leaving their money behind.

Of course, that spending is good for the local economy only if the people you spend that money with don't haul it off to their corporate headquarters in Burbank to be paid out as dividends to the Romneys of the world. It's also why spending money at a local merchant is better for all of us in the long run than saving a couple of dollars by going to WalMart. WalMart profits go to Bentonville, while local merchants keep their profits in your community.

So please, when planning your next vacation - if you are among the fortunate few who can actually afford one - go someplace where you can get a real feel for something genuine. My wife and I, for instance, spent our last vacation (five years ago) in Homer, Alaska, where we spent a week at a local B&B, ate in local non-chain restaurants, bought arts and crafts from local artists, and saw scenery and wildlife far more compelling than a magic castle and a talking mouse. We went home, leaving our money with the local community absolutely convinced we got the better part of the bargain.

You will have a life experience far more memorable than anything else, and you will do far more good for the people who are your hosts.

John in Lafayette said...

@ Zee: Nobody is saying that our national debt is not a problem, but it's a long-term problem, and the best thing we can do to start paying it off is get people back to work. Higher employment means more people paying taxes and fewer people requiring services. I've listened to Stockman on the debt, and he's wrong. Stockman believes we should cut services (spending), regardless of the number of people needing them and that this will somehow bring more jobs.

@ Jay: You make very good points. The problem with PIPA/SOPA was not their protection of intellectual property, which I absolutely believe people have a right to protect. It was the vague nature of the language that would allow large players to shut down the web sites of smaller competitors without even the semblance of due process and for things beyond the control of the web sites themselves. The bills would have made punishment of the innocent far easier than punishment of the guilty, and I think the backers of the bills wanted it that way.

I'm all for doing things that protect the rights of those who spend their time, talent, and energy creating content that can be streamed over the internet. But we shouldn't give those people carte blanche to attack those who never did them any harm.

Denis Neville said...

More Cognitive Dissonance… “Congratulations, citizens, on your cute little ‘democracy’ SOPA/PIPA victory…"

Glenn Greenwald, “Two events this week produced some serious cognitive dissonance.”

“…just as the celebrations began over the saving of Internet Freedom, something else happened: the U.S. Justice Department not only indicted the owners of one of the world’s largest websites, the file-sharing site Megaupload, but also seized and shut down that site, and also seized or froze millions of dollars of its assets — all based on the unproved accusations, set forth in an indictment, that the site deliberately aided copyright infringement.

“In other words, many SOPA opponents were confused and even shocked when they learned that the very power they feared the most in that bill — the power of the U.S. Government to seize and shut down websites based solely on accusations, with no trial — is a power the U.S. Government already possesses and, obviously, is willing and able to exercise even against the world’s largest sites…

“...the defining power that had everyone so up in arms about SOPA — shutting down websites with no trial — is one that already exists in quite a robust form, as any thwarted visitors to Megaupload will discover…

“…[the Megaupload seizure] nonetheless sends a very clear message when citizens celebrate a rare victory in denying the Government a power it seeks — the power to shut down websites without a trial — only for the Government to turn around the very next day and shut down one of the world’s largest and best-known sites. Whether intended or not, the message is unmistakable: Congratulations, citizens, on your cute little “democracy” victory in denying us the power to shut down websites without a trial: we’re now going to shut down one of your most popular websites without a trial…”

Welcome to the Orwellian world.

d said...

@ Zee

David Stockman’s candor* was evident thirty years ago. He was "taken to the woodshed" by President Reagan for it.

William Greider, The Atlantic, “The Education of David Stockman”

* "None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers."

* "Whenever there are great strains or changes in the economic system, it tends to generate crackpot theories, which then find their way into the legislative channels."

* "The hogs were really feeding. The greed level, the level of opportunism, just got out of control."

Anne Lavoie said...

We are in a period when our government is overhauling our legal and justice systems to enhance the power of the corporate government and weaken the protections of the citizenry. Important parts of the Constitution applying to our rights are essentially being nullified. And this is on top of an obviously rigged system with bought politicians of both parties, including the President. So why wouldn't we think that any laws they pass will be used to benefit their ilk and screw us over?

The Obama administration has no qualms about denying the right of due process of law to those it suspects are pirates of internet content or suspected enemies of the Corporate State of America. Based only on these suspicions of wrongdoing, this administration seizes assets, detains and even assassinates American citizens, shuts down websites, and cuts off their financial support, all without respecting due process rights.

On the other hand, the Obama administration will not even investigate the very people who nearly collapsed the entire national economy. President Obama gave them all a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card when he publicly announced 'What they did might have been immoral or unethical, but it was not illegal' without even a formal investigation by the proper authorities to determine that fact. He also encourages sweetheart deals where corporate violators avoid any guilt at all and only relatively minimal fines.

This is the same President of the United States who publicly proclaimed, pretrial, the guilt of the Tucson shooter of Gabby Giffords. Simply put, the President of the United States recognizes, respects, and protects the rights of the wealthy and powerful and presumes them all to be innocent, but acts as Judge/Jury/Executioner and presumes the guilt of everyone else. The wealthy and powerful are the new Untouchables, blessed and protected.

Those of us without wealth or power are, on the other hand, unilaterally and preemptively DISARMED of our Constitutionally protected rights to due process of law if we are merely suspected of some violation against the Corporate State of America. That strikes me as being far more dangerous than even disarming the population of weapons. Taking away the right to due process effectively leaves us DEFENSELESS, quite literally. The Magna Carter was written to correct that very sitution nearly 800 years ago! King John, meet King Obama. It's not just the 200 year old Constitution being trashed.

It is truly revolutionary when our Constitutional protections are cavalierly trashed by our own President and Congress. There's a war going on, and we are definitely on the losing end.

Denis Neville said...

“Debt is the slavery of the free.” – Publilius Syrus

@ Zee - reduce our debt and either increase taxes on the middle class--not just the "rich"--or, gasp, reduce entitlements

Michael Hudson, “Democracy and Debt”

“The reason why this won’t work is that trying to collect today’s magnitude of debt will injure the underlying “real” economy, making it even less able to pay its debts. What started as a financial problem (bad debts) will now be turned into a fiscal problem (bad taxes). Taxes are a cost of doing business just as paying debt service is a cost. Both costs must be reflected in product prices. When taxpayers are saddled with taxes and debts, they have less revenue free to spend on consumption. So markets shrink, putting further pressure on the profitability of domestic enterprises. The combination makes any country following such policy a high-cost producer and hence less competitive in global markets.”

“Neither banks nor public authorities (or mainstream academics, for that matter) calculated the economy’s realistic ability to pay – that is, to pay without shrinking the economy…

“To put matters bluntly, the result has been junk economics. Its aim is to disable public checks and balances, shifting planning power into the hands of high finance on the claim that this is more efficient than public regulation. Government planning and taxation is accused of being “the road to serfdom,” as if “free markets” controlled by bankers given leeway to act recklessly is not planned by special interests in ways that are oligarchic, not democratic. Governments are told to pay bailout debts taken on not to defend countries in military warfare as in times past, but to benefit the wealthiest layer of the population by shifting its losses onto taxpayers.”

Debt slavery destroyed Rome and it will destroy us unless it is stopped, says Michael Hudson. “Among Rome’s leading historians, Livy, Plutarch and Diodorus blamed the fall of the Republic on creditor intransigence in waging the century-long Social War marked by political murder from 133 to 29 BC. Populist leaders sought to gain a following by advocating debt cancellations…They were killed. By the second century AD about a quarter of the population was reduced to bondage. By the fifth century Rome’s economy collapsed, stripped of money. Subsistence life reverted to the countryside as a Dark Age descended.”

“The failure to take the wishes of voters into consideration leaves the resulting national debts on shaky ground politically and even legally. Debts imposed by fiat, by governments or foreign financial agencies in the face of strong popular opposition may be as tenuous as those of the Habsburgs and other despots in past epochs. Lacking popular validation, they may die with the regime that contracted them. New governments may act democratically to subordinate the banking and financial sector to serve the economy, not the other way around.

“At the very least, they may seek to pay by re-introducing progressive taxation of wealth and income, shifting the fiscal burden onto rentier wealth and property. Re-regulation of banking and providing a public option for credit and banking services would renew the social democratic program that seemed well underway a century ago.”

Anonymous said...


Check out the Magna Carta. Not a great document if you are a woman or if you are not a nobelman.

Anne Lavoie said...

The Establishment absolutely hates Newt Gingrich. Can you imagine how interesting this year is going to be? I am already getting giddy with excitement!

Zee said...

@Denis Neville--

I have printed off Debt and Democracy and Europe's Transition from Social Democracy to Oligarchy by Michael Hudson and will read them in detail.

Still, from my rapid first skim-through, the first article looks more like an international banking conspiracy theory dating back to ancient Egypt, running through Rome and then on to those centerpieces of all conspiracy theories, the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller.

I've read the "About Michael Hudson" page of his website and he sounds like a respected economist.

But can you tell me more about him from your perspective?

Valerie said...

@ Denis

So glad you quoted Michael Hudson. I am a huge fan!

Valerie said...

Like @Zee, I am looking for information from the group.

I have called and written notes of appreciation to Eric Schneiderman the NY AG that had fought the banks and the Obama administration on the paltry settlement offered concerning the mortgage crisis, but my information seems to have dried up after that. Does anyone know of a comprehensive list of AGs who have joined Schneiderman?

I agree with @Denis - not only do they need our encouragement and to know we are watching and care about what they are trying to do, and DESERVE the encouragement, but they get less mail and phone calls from the public so our words will carry more weight.

We are always griping about our lousy bought and sold elected officials. Here are some publically elected AGs going out on a limb. The least we can do is thank them.

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee – Hudson’s article on Debt and Democracy, “an international banking conspiracy theory dating back to ancient Egypt…” ??????

Michael Hudson and Modern Monetary Theory

When Paul Krugman wrote “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?” he left out the economists who got it right.

Dirk Bezemer, Groningen University, instead of asking why economists got it so wrong, studied economists who got it right, ‘No One Saw This Coming’: Understanding Financial Crisis Through Accounting Models.”

Michael Hudson was listed as one of the 12 economists who predicted the crisis in Bezemer’s paper. [see Appendix]

Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, which is the home of the “Kansas City school” of new economic thought, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).

Both deficit hawks and deficit doves say the deficit needs to be cut; MMT says that is nonsense.

Modern Monetary Theory, according to Paul Krugman is “a school of thought - the modern monetary theory people - who say that deficits never matter, as long as long as a country can issue its own currency. I wish I could agree with that view…since the clear and present policy danger is from the deficit peacocks of the right. But for the record, it’s just not right.”

James K. Galbraith called Krugman out on his “On Deficits and the Printing Press.”

“Should we, or should we not, act today to cut projected deficits at some future date? For instance, by cutting Social Security and Medicare? I say no. I say there is absolutely no economic reason to enact future cuts in these vital programs. I say that the economic forecasts of vast deficits and high interest rates after the return of full employment are implausible and internally inconsistent, for reasons given in my testimony to the deficit commission, and elsewhere. I say that good policies cannot be based on bad forecasts, that we should solve the unemployment problem first, and that when we have done so, the most likely thing is that tax revenues will rise and the deficit forecasts will be proven wrong. This is what happened in the late 1990s. Why should we think it wouldn't happen again? Paul, I challenge you to drop the long-term deficit argument entirely -- it will be used in a few months, in a dishonest way by unscrupulous people, to support cuts in Social Security and Medicare that cannot be justified by economic logic. These are cuts which, I am sure, you will oppose when they are proposed. Don't set yourself up.”

There was an excellent response to Krugmam’s “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?” by James K. Galbraith, “Who Are These Economists, Anyway?” pointing out what Krugmam had missed.

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee - an international banking conspiracy theory dating back to ancient Egypt…”

(Unintended) ?????? fright response due to a close lightening (freak, brief January thunderstorm) strike near my house; room going white (I almost went to the light); my cat landing on me for protection; decision to immediately exit the computer…so I didn’t finish my thought, which was, as I best can recall, to be about the theme of control fraud in writings of the economists at the Kansas City School of New Economics.

William Black, also at the UMKC, developed the concept of "control fraud."

“Crony capitalism is the antithesis of “free enterprise.” The best way to destroy free enterprise is to allow CEOs to commit control fraud with impunity because that maximizes the perverse Gresham’s dynamic. Only big business had the power to destroy “free enterprise” in America.”

“Criminogenic Environments, Bubbles and Financial Crises,” William Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC, at the UMKC Law Review Symposium [Recorded November 11, 2011]:!

Black refers to George Akerlof’s famous article on “lemon’s” markets, The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, which led to the Nobel Prize in economics for Akerlof in 2001.

“Wanting to prosecute criminal CEOs is not hostile to “free enterprise,” but rather essential to the success and continued existence of “free enterprise.”

Akerlof explained why: “Dishonest dealings tend to drive honest dealings out of the market. There may be potential buyers of good quality products and there may be potential sellers of such products in the appropriate price range; however, the presence of people who wish to pawn bad wares as good wares tends to drive out the legitimate business. The cost of dishonesty, therefore, lies not only in the amount by which the purchaser is cheated; the cost also must include the loss incurred from driving legitimate business out of existence.”

Zee said...

@Denis Neville--

Many thanks for the additional discussion about Michael Hudson, and the additional links to the Kansas City school of modern monetary thought.

Thanks especially for the additional time that you have spent in expanding my horizons.

I will do my best to work my way through all of this material.

Jay - Ottawa said...

PIPA and SOPA were mean pugs. Now they’re back in their cages. Google, on the other hand, is a big dog that could swallow us whole if it gets a little more leash. It’s working towards that scenario, as the links below describe. Google, for all its useful wonder, is not the new public library with a free card for everyone. It’s a business (2008: $ 21.7 billion revenue, $ 4.2 billion profit).

Did you take note of its blackout last week? Scarier than a Donald Duck tantrum. The blackout put us on notice that Google can play rough. Access to your own data and information from elsewhere could be choked off anytime Google and other internet big dogs feel bitchy, or if they, in turn, must cower before an even bigger dog, like The Party or, closer to home, the 1%.

Europe is also struggling to find the balance point between intellectual property and freedom of speech. This morning’s LeMonde has an article about a European wide conference being held in Munich to arrive at an equitable solution.

Blackouts are especially worrisome. They can be used to protest against a competing interest or the threat of regulation, as was the case last week. Part of the Google protest also involved being slotted to an easyclick petition that registered several million of votes in one day. Wouldn't you like to occupy that, Bernie!

Blackouts can be used to censor. Blackouts can be used to squeeze more money out of the net. Blackouts can be used to cripple communications among unfavored groups. Are we stepping on your toes yet?

Google is no longer a benign search engine pointing elsewhere on your command. It has a corporate mind of its own, or it can be turned into a tool to hurt you as well as help you.

More and more, Google is making itself the repository for everything. Too many of us are going along without protest, demanding few safeguards. Over a few short years, we have witnessed how the old sources of communication – books, newspapers, telephones, magazines, journals, radio, TV – are being swallowed by the internet, one of whose greatest gatekeepers is Google. Internet Service Providers and search engines can shut themselves down to pout, as they demonstrated last week. With alternate means of communication much diminished, the rest could be silence until the big dogs get their way.

John from Lafayette mentioned the benefits of supporting locals. Decentralization does indeed have its good points. Google’s ideas for renovating and expanding the Ancient Library of Alexandria may not be the way to go after all. What did grandma say about putting all your eggs in one basket? Many European countries as well as research libraries in the US are fighting Google on these issues. There are many competing interests here and many solutions, some of them impractical, some attacking fundamental freedoms, some of them enabling theft. For more detail on Google’s long-range plans, I suggest these articles: