Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gary Kessler Photographer

Here are a few links to work by a good friend and photographer Gary Kessler. I hope you will take a look at his work. I love his shots of cars.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Is For Art & The Robbers' Stamp of Approval

It appears that the new legislation designed by Congress and the lobbyists to prevent another financial crisis, (at least prevent one for a few years), has left the problem of conflict of interest between the bankers that underwrite the new bond issues and the credit rating agencies that place a bond rating on the new bond issues, unchanged. Thanks Congress for standing up for the investor in this struggle. We know that we can always count on the Congress to favor the money interests when push comes to shove, and as a result, what happens is that the Congress usually shoves it up the peoples' ass.

What am I talking about? For those that have not taken my course in Bond Underwriting 101, let me explain. The three largest credit rating agencies are paid by the bankers that bring the securitized mortgage-backed bonds to them for their rating. If the banker is informed that the new bond issue will not be given a triple-A rating, which by the way is the highest rating given and means that there is little risk or chance of default, then the banker can "shop" the rating to another credit rating agency in pursuit of that triple-A rating. Congress in her wisdom could not see a problem with the existing structure and made no change in the way the bankers and credit rating agencies do business. In other words, it is business as usual and the conflict of interest remains.

Back in the 1980s, Congress thought it smart to let savings & loans invest in other investments besides mortgages and a number of them invested in "junk bonds" (also referred to as high yield bonds). Several savings & loans went under because they did not understand what they were doing. In the early 1990s I painted a stamp to commemorate the savings & loan fiasco. Since Saturday is for Art, I thought it would be appropriate to post this painting. Congress in its wisdom, spell that money in their pockets from lobbyists working for the family, has given the thieves license to continue to mint bogus triple-A bonds and in doing so, set people up to lose their money. Congress permits the robbers to use the flag as their mask as only Congress can.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Integrity, Bond Ratings & The Economic Recovery

The new financial regulatory legislation is probably so watered down that it will still leave plenty of room for less than honest people on Wall Street to cheat investors, but I suppose I should wait until I have read more about it before I pronounce this another piece of shit legislation.

As those who have been reading Moneythoughts know, my big thing was the Credit Rating Agencies and the role they played in the mortgage-backed bond market meltdown. This meltdown then put a liquidity crisis in play at the banks that had large positions of these now worthless bonds on the books and had leveraged themselves beyond reason. The liquidity crisis lead to the financial crisis which lead to the total economic crisis that resulted in more home foreclosures.

Trust in bond ratings and the Credit Rating companies that place the ratings on the bond issues is key to a successful bond market. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the new legislation deals honestly or effectively with this challenge. As long as the Credit Rating Agencies can be pressured by the investment bankers, the underwriters of the bond issues, there is going to continue to be fraud in the bond rating process.

If this credit rating problem is not dealt with in a satisfactory manner then investors, large and small, will not be comfortable with the credit rating process and this in turn will hold back economic growth. The economic engine can have every part working, but if the distributor cap is removed from the distributor, the engine is not going anywhere. The issuance of debt and the securitization of that debt is a powerful economic tool when used with integrity. Without it, the recovery of the economy is placed in jeopardy.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Let's Kill 'em In Afghanistan Or Get Out

Having been around and in the army during the Vietnam War (again, I was never in Vietnam, I was in the Army in Korea), I remember how stupidly that war was fought because President Johnson tried to conduct the war from the Oval Office. Aside from the fact that we got it wrong from the start in Vietnam, I didn't think the Vietnamese would put up with the Chinese running their country anymore than the Americans. So, in the end, what did we accomplish?

Afghanistan is a very different story, and while I have my doubts about how much nation building we can do there, I would like to think the General on the ground knows more than the administration in Washington that has one eye on the political situation in the states, and the other eye on public opinion polls about the popularity of the war.

The Afghan people know that the Americans are at some point going home. They knew that at some point the Russians were going home too. So, why are we there? We are in Afghanistan to destroy terrorists from having a base from which to attack us. If we can do that in a convincing way, perhaps we can gain some creditability with the afghan people.

But paying off the Taliban is no way to win in Afghanistan in my opinion. The mission originally was to destroy the Taliban not to bribe them into being our partners in the war on terror! We are wasting a lot of money bribing these Taliban and I don't think we are getting anything but trouble for it. We have the military power to take out the Taliban and that is what we should do, or stop wasting American lives and get out.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How Stupid Are We? A Personal View

I know it is not nice to say there are a lot of stupid people in this country, but the Republican Party to a certain extent proves my argument. The big question for me is whether those stupid people will go and vote in November, or, whether they will be just too stupid to bother to go and vote.

If you listen to some of the Republicans in Congress, you have to wonder: 1) do they really believe what they say, or 2) they don't really believe it, but know that the people that listen to them are too stupid to see the stupidity of what they are saying. It seems to me that with the exception of a very few Republicans, those holding state office like a governorship, that the Republican office holders will say anything so long it is dead opposite of what the Democrats are saying. I am waiting for one of these Republicans in Congress to say we don't need to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf. John Boehner, the minority leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, said a little while ago that the taxpayers should pay for the BP clean up. Evidently that didn't go over very well even with the few Republicans with an IQ greater than 100.

So, this November, 2010, the IQ of the nation will be tested, and that test will determine where we are as a nation and just how stupid we are as a nation. Can politicians say any foolish or stupid thing and get away with it, or, are Americans not nearly as stupid as their diet of TV would indicate.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Day In The Bluegrass State With My Cousin

Thursday I drove down to Lexington, KY to visit my first cousin and work with her on a project she has been interested in getting off the ground for several months - a video of us talking about our family history. Our parents came to the United States as children in 1923 from the Ukraine. They were born in Greater Russia as were their parents and grandparents. Life was good for my grandfather and his family as he had his own tailor shop with a few people working for him making clothes. Then August 1914 came and the beginning of the end for their good life in the Ukraine began. August 1914 saw the beginning of World War I. The German army moved into the Ukraine. Later after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, more trouble came to the Ukraine as the Civil War began between the White army and the Red army. By 1920, or there about, our grandparents decided that they had had enough and made the decision to leave Russia and come to America where my grandmother had several brothers already living. So, we recorded for our children and grandchildren stories that we remembered hearing from our parents and grandfather. Like millions of other Americans, we came from somewhere else.

The story for those of us living in the United States is that this country permits each individual to become an American. You may be from Ireland and call yourself Irish-American, but the noun is always American, and the adjective can be where you came from. For Jews, Russia never considered Jews Russians. Jews were a nationality and as such could never be considered Russian. Even Trotsky knew that he could not erase his Jewish ancestry even as he and Lenin lead the Bolshevik Revolution. This may, to some seem like such a small point, but it is what, in my opinion, is one of our (America's) greatest strengths. Each person can become a citizen of the United States regardless of where their mother or father came from. And, we should remember that when we participate in our democracy. This is a nation of immigrants and with each generation new immigrants come to our shores seeking a better life. We should not hold it against someone just because their parent or parents came from a foreign country and spoke a foreign language or practiced a different religion. We should try and judge people by their actions even if we have to push ourselves to be better people.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Comedy This Good Only Comes Once A Year

I know I watch too much TV news, but as a retired person, this is my choice and I like to keep up on what is being said. Take the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, this has been in the news every night since the oil rig burned down and 11 lives were lost. And, yet no one will stop to realize that the political philosophy of less Federal Government regulation is at the heart of the problem. But, that is just half of it. The other half is that these same people that believe "Government is the problem, not the solution" are now demanding that the Federal Government do more to take charge of the clean up and stop the oil leak.

Am I the only one that sees this contradiction in the political philosophy of the right wing in American politics? The close relationship between the oil companies and the Federal Agencies that are suppose to regulate them is the problem. This comes directly from a political philosophy that calls for the Federal Government to keep their nose out of the oil companies business.

Now the attack of the nuts right wing of American politics has turned to blaming President Obama for the oil spill while at the same time blaming him for wanting to take over the economy and bring about a socialist state. A lot of the crazies out there don't understand what logic is, so there is little sense in appealing to their sense of logic. The Republican Party does not need logic much less facts to attack the President, as that is all they can do.

I enjoy watching the brainless right wing of American politics on TV news because they are so entertaining, much like the Three Stooges were entertaining. And, let us not forget that these same politicians that don't believe the Federal Government has a duty to protect the lands, waters, beaches and wetlands of our nation, are the same ones that want the Federal Government to pay for the clean up with American taxpayer dollars. Comedy this good comes only once a year, and this must be the time.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Complicated Mathematical Equation For Congress

The Congress of the United States should be a reality TV show. No, not C-SPAN, I mean an 8 o'clock time slot on Thursday nights with the other comedy shows. Only Congress would be a comedy/reality TV show with questions coming from the audience. The ratings would go through the roof and the network that would pick them up would makes millions from this show. In fact, I am sure that BP would want a piece of the action as a major sponsor. I am sure a few Wall Street banks would no doubt want to advertise their financial products during a comedy show featuring the likes of Barney Frank.

The first episode would deal with the Credit Rating Agencies. Barney Frank thinks we need to have a commission look into the conflict of interest that exists between the Credit Rating Agencies and the investment bankers that pay them for rating the bond issues they underwrite. Al Franken, being new to Congress and possessing considerable comedic skills himself doesn't see a need to "study" this issue of a conflict of interest.

This conflict of interest is so easy to understand, even a caveman can see it. But, unfortunately, Barney Frank has so much shit in his mouth, he can't think straight or see it.

I have been writing about this conflict of interest between the Credit Rating Agencies and the investment banker underwriters of mortgage-backed bonds for so long, and yet the Congress acts like this is some kind of complicated mathematical equation. Well, it is a complicated mathematical equation because we have to first figure out how to get the members of congress to get their campaign contributions and at the same time vote for what is best for the majority of Americans. Congress's self interest verse the interests of the people is always a complicated mathematical equation.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 14, 2010

All We Need Is A Department of Agriculture

Monday morning and the national news cycle starts again. My blog, Moneythoughts, is such a small piece of noise out there, and yet for many months I took my postings so seriously.

Lately, I have had contact with members of my high school graduation class from 1960. After exchanging a few choice words with them, I realize that for some, it is still 1959. Nothing has changed, or, at least in their minds nothing should have changed and that which has changed they are very unhappy about. You see, in the 1950s, I was way way outside the mainstream from conventional thinking. Conventional thinking about Civil Rights was just one area where my opinions about the need for more equality drove many of my classmates mad. But, thank goodness, my fellow classmates from the 1950s did not prevail. A new day came to pass and America did rise up and we did try to make our society a more perfect place for people of all races.

Many people complain that the Federal Government is too big, that we need to have fewer departments. Well, I have been giving this some thought over this last weekend as I listen to the latest news about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I would suggest that we get rid of the SEC, Securities & Exchange Commission and the Department of Commerce, etc. and place everything in the Department of Agriculture. Why the Department of Agriculture? Well, let me explain it this way.

What we have in the United States today is the FARMING of the working class. How does this work? People work in their jobs , they save, then they invest in stocks and bonds and mutual funds, and then the investment bankers harvest their money and put it in their pockets. There is no charges of fraud and the cycle continues. This latest feeble attempt by Congress to regulate the investment and banking industry is going to be another disaster. A disaster because the Federal Government will be bailing out the bankers on Wall Street in a short time again.

By turning this over to the Department of Agriculture, there is the possibility that the bankers on Wall Street could be paid for not farming off the working people just as farmers were paid not to grow crops. This then might prevent the Federal Government from having to bailout the Wall Street bankers in the future. This idea may at first appear a little strange, but if you realize that our capitalist system is much like that of primitive tribes that farm off of those tribes that grow crops and do all the work only to have their crops stolen after they are harvested, you will see my point. Wall Street and the investment bankers may not be a primitive tribe, but their tactic of farming off the hard work of people that have harvested their money through their own hard work is very much the same point. With only the Department of Agriculture to deal with, perhaps the working people can catch a break and not have so much of their money harvested, never to be seen again.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I had a good ride this morning. The weather gave us a break as there was no rain. I worked the 25 miles hard and kept spinning. I feel I rode my best ride as I know I pushed myself the up and back. I need to continue to ride this summer and perhaps look for another ride to join.

Have a nice day and enjoy the weekend.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Is For Art & A Postage Stamp

With the oil spill in the gulf, I thought I would put up a painting I did in 1991 about oil. If you read from top to bottom, the postage stamp reads: UNITED STATES - HOSTAGE - 1973-1991 - ENERGY POLICY. The painting is done in oil paint on paper. The paper is prepared with a coat of gesso front and back so the oil paint will not rot the paper fibers. For a long time I have thought about turning this piece into a silk screen print and taking the image and turning it into four stamps connected as in a plate block. My artist friend Sam has introduced me to the silk screen printer I would use. Now all I have to do is have the image photographed and the file placed on a disc. I thought black for oil would work, but U.S. stamps that are 5 cents are traditionally printed in blue. Perhaps, I could do a series in black and another in blue.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Taking A Vacation For Now

The last few days I have not felt like writing anything. I continue to read the book I am reading, and reading articles on the Internet. I have been working more on my t-shirt business, and I am enjoying the challenge to build my sales. Leaving the world of investment securities 5 years ago perhaps took some time to get used to, but I am happy to be done with that part of my life. The warm weather makes me want to get outside and play golf or ride my bike. When I have something to say, I will write, but for now Moneythoughts is going to be writing less. I hope people have enjoyed some of my ideas. Have a nice summer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

RIDE CINCINNATI 2010 Is Just Around The Corner

Sunday is Ride Cincinnati and if all goes as planned, I will ride in the 4th RIDE CINCINNATI event. This ride is to raise money for breast cancer research at the Barrett Cancer Center of the University of Cincinnati. There are several distances that riders can chose, but I am only going to ride the 25 mile round tripper. I have been riding since April, but got off my conditioning schedule in May. I think I can gut it out. The pump works well, pressure is good and the legs can still work when called upon to pedal. All in all, I am a very fortunate 67 yr. old guy that enjoys good health. If I don't look too bad on Sunday, I will post a new picture with my bike.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When Is A Black Swan Not A Black Swan ?

Many many years ago, when I was a student and studying history, I had an idea that reading documents was only a part of what should be looked at when studying a group or a nation's history. History professors back then taught that there were primary and secondary sources of information. Newspapers and letters written at the time of events under question are primary sources to the historian. But, I had an idea that works of art, music, literature and styles of clothing etc., said something about a people and their values.

When I look through the Sunday New York Times, I see watches and jewelry and expensive handbags and other items that are advertised. They all try to convey that one can not live the "good life" without these items. So much of our culture is slanted towards the accumulation of wealth. And, the New York Times is not the only place I see this. Take a look through VANITY FAIR magazine and you will see more items being put forward and again the emphasis is on the accumulation of wealth.

I find nothing wrong with people wanting to accumulate wealth, but I do have a problem with people cutting corners to do it.

There is a theory out there called the Black Swan. Before black swans were discovered in western Australia, people only knew of white swans. A black swan became something of an near impossible event occurring. More recently the event of 9-11 and the collapse of the housing market have been referred to as Black Swans. Both of these events were believed to be highly unlikely to happen before they occurred.

But, my question is: when the system is gamed, can the disaster that follows be considered a Black Swan event? I will grant that the terrorist attack of 9-11 is a classic Black Swan event. Who would have predicted that a group of terrorists would use commercial aircraft to carry out a terrorist attack of such a magnitude?

On the other hand, I do not see the collapse of the housing market as quite a Black Swan event. Knowing as I do that the housing bubble was perpetuated by the credit rating agencies willingness to game the system, can the financial crisis that followed really be considered a Black Swan?

Now let us move on to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. When Congress, in their wisdom, placed a cap of $75 million for any accident resulting from an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP made a risk calculation that they would rather pay the paltry sum of $75 million than expend the additional expense of following their own oil drilling procedures, can we call such an event a Black Swan? I do not think so. Like any corporation faced with holding down their expenses and driving every invested dollar to maximize its return on investment, can BP be expected to behave in any other manner? Congress, in my opinion, had as much to do with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as BP by virtue of the risk/reward they put in place for BP to deal with.

The corruption in the government agency that is responsible for the oil drilling companies to adhere to the proper care and procedures for drilling in the gulf can hardly be considered a Black Swan event in my opinion. Gaming the system does not make the odds more likely, it simply, to my mind, insures it.

The bottom line is that people need to remember this and vote for representatives that work for the good of all the people and not just the corporations that flood the airwaves with their slick commercials.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Those That Place Money Before All Else

I live in Cincinnati and we don't have pelicans in Cincinnati, but it hurts me to see these beautiful birds covered in oil.

The Federal Government of the United States has failed its people and there is good reason why so many people believe that the Federal Government does not work.

The Federal Government, including the Congress have been corrupt, are corrupt and will continue to remain corrupt until big money is taken out of the election process. The Government of the United States is for sale to the highest bidder.

To read Sunday's New York Times front page article about who was in charge in the Gulf of Mexico on the oil drilling rig that lead to the oil spill disaster, is in a nut shell what is wrong with Washington and the lousy way in which the people of this country are protected from corporate greed.

The political philosophy that industries can be counted upon to regulate themselves is a fiction, a myth, and a lie. A lie pushed by a group whose agenda is to wring money for campaigns for re-election.

People in America will have to get a lot smarter and stop swallowing all the crap about regulations, accountability and enforcement not being good for the country's economy. Ask how good is this oil spill for the economy of this country?

After reading the complete article, I don't have a lot of hope for change to come to the way the federal agencies enforce their own regulations, much less update those regulations to account for changes in the technology in offshore drilling. Where greater care is needed, the federal agencies in charge are out to lunch. The whole issue of accountability is so far from what those of us that think we know what accountability means, that it might as well be a cartoon or a comedic farce.

We are a big country, and that bigness is a factor that keeps us from zeroing in on those that would destroy our country, its lands and waters, for a few dollars more. Corporations buy politicians and politicians let the agencies exist in a comatose state to the need for regulations to be enforced. This oil spill, like the disaster on Wall Street, are connected at the hip. And, that hip is the government of the United States, its corrupt Congress and its corrupt Supreme Court that places money before all else.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Morning & My Military Service

Lately there has been a lot of discussion on TV news programs about men that say they served in Vietnam, and are running for elective office. I just want to add my 2 cents. First, I am not running for elective office. I am enjoying my life as an artist, painter, blogger and sometime golfer. Not that playing golf and holding elective office are incompatible, but the last time I played golf on someone else's nickel it cost me several more nickels in restitution and a fine. So, the thrill of holding elective office for me is not in my vocabulary of emotions. The second point about serving in Vietnam, I would like to set the record straight here too. I was in the US Army and I did serve in one foreign country, Korea. I did not serve in Vietnam, nor did I ever even come close to serving there. I did serve with the 2nd Infantry Division north of the Imjin River with a training school for about 6 months (October to April) called Advanced Combat Training Academy or Imjin Scouts. We all slept in tents with heaters during the winter of 1965-66. That was a chilly experience. In April, 1966, I went to 8th US Army Headquarters where I worked for the Staff Historian of 8th Army. That was also TDY (temporary duty) until it was made my permanent assignment. I enjoyed living in Seoul and preferred it to living just a few hundred yards from the DMZ and having to listen to the North Korean music that they played in the evenings over loudspeakers. Seoul 44 years ago was an interesting place to be and I visited their art museum several times. So, I hope this sets the record straight.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Is For Art & A Sunflower T-shirt?

As many of my readers know, Moneythoughts is sponsored by Ski Cincinnati, a wholly owned subsidiary of the holding company F.D. Zigler Artist. F.D. Zigler Artist is a privately held company not engaged in any oil drilling or coal mining. F.D. Zigler Artist is more or less a think tank that has been coming up with "dumb ideas" since 1942. Some of the ideas were turned into visual images and placed on t-shirts as early as 1981. Ideas of the political genre were first placed on masonite boards in oil paint in 1988-89. In 2009, F.D. Zigler Artist attempted to break out and do sunflowers (I was told that everyone loves sunflowers). One sunflower painting was completed and another waits to be finished. The sunflower painting is now going to be adapted to t-shirts, or should I say attempted to be adapted to t-shirts. The silk screen process may turn out an attractive sunflower t-shirt, but that remains to be seen. The idea for this did not come from of the F.D. Zigler think tank, but was suggested by my silk screen printer. As we have some white t-shirts to try this on, why not. I did bring back another t-shirt design from the early 1980s - Chili Summers in Cincinnati. This t-shirt will be available later this summer if not sooner.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun filled weekend.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Based On A Political Philosophy That Is Stupid To The Core

Stupidity or deceit, that is the question. Are Republicans just stupid to think that corporations will consider what is best for the birds and animals of the Gulf of Mexico in their efforts to maximize their corporate profits, or is it just plain deceit. The political philosophy that the Republicans enunciate - less government is better government, is a lie. Whether people like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and the rest of the idiots that embrace the political philosophy of the Republican Party realize the destruction they have caused as a result of their ideas that government should turn a blind eye to the behavior of corporate America whether on Wall Street or drilling for oil in the Gulf, has given us the problems that we all will suffer. Look at what has happened to the birds covered in oil and dying!!! This is a political philosophy the Republicans can be proud of?

It is my sincere hope that the images of pelicans covered in oil and dying will cause people to realize that the political philosophy of less government is better government is bankrupt. Now that the oil spill has continued to gush for over 40 days and has effectively destroyed waters, wetlands, beaches, commercial fishing and a whole way of life and livelihood for the people of the Gulf, perhaps decent people will remember this the next time they go to the polls and vote. Voting for less government is a vote for no governing and a vote for destruction of our lands and waters. How much more would it have cost us if the government had enforced safe drilling procedures in the first place? How much would it have cost BP if they would have treated their permit to drill with reverence for the waters, lands wildlife and people that call this part of America HOME?

If this oil spill does not awakened a majority of Americans to the inherent stupidity of the Republican Party's political philosophy, then there is not much hope that we as a people have the intelligence to see the difference between right and wrong. This massive oil spill was man made, just as the financial crisis on Wall Street was man made, and it is the result of a political philosophy that is stupid to the core. It is based on a political philosophy that is stupid to the core. It is based on a political philosophy that is stupid to the core.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor...

June is the month of graduations. Graduations from high school and college all take place in June. So this June, when you are thinking of a gift for that special graduate, think about giving him or her a SKI CINCINNATI t-shirt. These t-shirts are 100% cotton and will give the wearer a comfy t-shirt to bang around in during the summer. Ski Cincinnati t-shirts can be purchased at the following locations:

Joseph-Beth Bookstore in the Rockwood Shopping Plaza in Norwood near Hyde Park Square.

The Contemporary Arts Center Gift Shop at the corner of 6th & Walnut Sts. in downtown Cincinnati. (also on-line)

The Cincinnati Museum Center Gift Shop at Union Terminal.

Ski Cincinnati Ball Caps are available at the following locations:

The Contemporary Arts Center Gift Shop at the corner of 6th & Walnut Sts. in downtown Cincinnati. (also on-line)

The Cincinnati Museum Center Gift Shop at Union Terminal.

Benchmark Outfitters on Kenwood Rd in Blue Ash.

The Good Samaritan Hospital Gift Shop on Clifton Avenue.

Get a Ski Cincinnati t-shirt for the summer and be cool.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Upon Which Wall Street Butters Their Bread

Question: Why are people buying gold?
Answer: Because dogs have no money?

Perhaps my attempt at humor is not ready for blog time, but if I got your attention, then that will suffice.

I have a problem with the way The Federal Reserve Bank, our central bank, conducts monetary policy in the United States. People that work should not have to invest their hard earned money in the capital markets to maintain the purchasing power that their money had when they earned it. In other words, it is my belief that, while commodity prices will fluctuate over time, our currency should not suffer a significant loss of purchasing power over an extended period of time. Those individuals, who wish to save their money in a savings account should have that option and that option should not be debased by the reckless administration of monetary policy for the benefit of the banking and corporate communities.

The fact is, individuals and institutions invest in the capital markets because there is no other way for them to meet the actuarial assumptions laid down by their actuaries to meet the financial obligations they have to their families or the institutions they represent. Pension funds, endowments, foundations and families can not, given the way monetary policy is administered by The Fed, hold onto the purchasing power of their money 20, 30 or 40 years later.

If this is the case, and the Congress can not protect the savings of average American workers from being eaten by inflation of the currency, then does it not make sense for Congress, at the very least, regulate the capital markets in a way that would level the playing field for all Americans? The way the capital markets are regulated today leaves much to be desired and yet, people do not understand that they are being moved in the direction of the capital markets for the purpose of hedging against the almost certain inflation that their dollars will suffer. Given what monetary policy is in the United States, and people's desire to maintain the purchasing power of their money, the capital markets become one of the biggest games in town.

That Congress can turn their back on the people in favor of those that make a living on Wall Street, means that the people on Main Street need to get up to speed on what is happening to their money. Until voters understand why they are being stampeded into the stock market like so many cows to the slaughter, they will continue to be the marks upon which Wall Street butters their bread.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

STOP, LISTEN, THINK: The Oligarchs Are Running The Country

Many people say they find history boring. History is not boring if the threads are pulled together to form a fabric that can be seen and understood. Just as a picture with too few dots leaves us wondering what to make of it, history without drawing those threads together is incomplete. So, what am I talking about?

I want to get back to the philosophy of less government and show how this philosophy is not only a joke, but a dishonest philosophy at best.

We have now the largest oil spill in the country's history taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. This oil spill resulted from the efforts of a publicly held corporation, BP, to drill for oil at a huge depth and not heed the safety procedures that their own industry has set down. Several mistakes were made, and yet the drilling continued to the eventual loss of 11 lives and millions of barrels of oil washing ashore and destroying the lands, beaches, wetlands, commercial businesses and a way of life.

Now comes the Governor of Louisiana wanting MORE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT involvement. Asking for more from the federal government AFTER the spill is the wrong time, in my opinion. The time to be asking for more federal government involvement is before there is an oil spill that damages the economy of possibly four states (LA, MS, AL, FL). The idea that the federal government is the "bad guy" is just plain wrongheaded in my opinion.

Had the federal government exercised proper governance over the oil companies and insisted that the rules and proper procedures be followed, this accident may have never have happened. But, for too many years, there has been too close a relationship between those that monitor the oil drilling offshore and the people that do the drilling. Now, when all hell breaks lose, those same people that cling to the philosophy of small government, or, a federal government that does not enforce its own rules and regulations, want the federal government to stop the leak and clean up the spill even faster.

This is the same kind of thing that happened on Wall Street. No enforcement by the SEC, downplaying the importance of accountability of the investment bankers, the credit rating agencies and a Fed that promotes a monetary policy for the benefit of the banks, and to the detriment of the majority of the people. After there is a bond market meltdown, a liquidity crisis, a financial crisis, and finally an economic recession, the idea of less government as a political philosophy takes on the appearance of a sick joke. And yet, with a need for accountability, transparency and enforcement, the new regulations coming out of Congress are weak and will not prevent another government "bailout".

Our government is no longer run by the people. Our government is now an oligarchy. Government by a few wealthy individuals for the benefit of those few wealthy individuals. Whether it be oil or banking, the outcome is the same. Make it possible for the few well connected to continue to farm off the labors of the workers, and to the detriment of the whole country. The Senate of the United States is for sale to the highest bidder, and the oligarchs of oil and banking are the highest bidders.

Stay tuned.