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THESE ARE OUR SAVIORS? SPARE US!

THESE ARE OUR SAVIORS? SPARE US!

It is interesting that people who hate government are so desperate to be involved in its epicenter. Thus we have Bennett of Utah and now Lugar of Indiana who are insufficiently right wing to cut the mustard, and must go – and have gone.

 Apparently the rationale of the far right wing is to get into government so that they can destroy it. There seems to be an attitude that government is inherently bad and that we must follow the constitution in order to defray its excesses, real or imagined. This view is the opposite of the view of the Founders who wrote the constitution and considered government to be a noble exercise of representative democracy, the central thread/rationale for having a government in the first place.

I am of the opinion that a lot of the line we hear from the right is false by design; that they care little of the real issues of the day (unemployment, international trade issues, the environment etc.), but use them very cynically for the purpose of effectuating their real design, which is to make the rich and corporate class richer with a view toward a form of a latter day feudalist state in which we are the vassals and corporations are (effectively) the state. I have blogged on this topic a couple of times to this effect.

Methodologies to make this happen include privatization efforts (designed to make profits and remove public control over public matters such as education, social security and other now government programs where lots of money is there for the taking). It is important in such a scheme of things that all such programs subject to privatization be trashed by pre-takeover propaganda about how  cost ineffective and un-American they are, how government cannot do anything right, and how private enterprise can come in on the white horse and save the day.

There are those of us who disagree with this cozy assessment; we have seen the bankrupt prone Trumps, Gilded Age trusts, the Enrons, Madoffs et al. and have witnessed firsthand the performances of those on the white horses in our recent bailouts of these intrepid horsemen, who never met an asset that could not be securitized.

These are our saviors? Spare us!

It appears that the role of government should properly be to bail out the rich but leave the poor and the veterans under the bridge in the far right wing’s philosophy of government. It seems to me that if the only real purpose of government is to serve as a blocking back for the rich ball carrier to make money, whatever the pretense and propaganda, then it is time to cancel the game. I, for one do not wish to participate in such a phony excuse for government, where money capital writes and enforces the rules ranging from sexual mores to the air we breathe. There are numerous and better options, and all involve an active engagement of the citizenry and a refusal to sell our public wealth and our futures as serfs serving a corporate culture.

 We should show corporate privatizers the gate and proceed to flesh out our own futures (financed in part by more equitable taxation rates – the latest outrage being that GE has paid an annualized rate of only 2.3% on its billions in profits over the last decade, a far less rate than many pay who are on food stamps)! Such disparities in financing America (among other things) must cease – now!  GERALD E

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WALLACE, RICHARD SPENCER AND CHINA

This is a mea culpa to the above captioned blog which I published yesterday in which I  inadvertently wrote that the Chinese knew the route around the Cape of Good Hope centuries before da Gama rounded South Africa. It should have read “long before,” not centuries before.

WALLACE, RICHARD SPENCER AND CHINA

WALLACE. RICHARD SPENCER AND CHINA

Nearly everyone knows of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, a theory which is proven daily by researchers and others though not without dissent, but what they may not know is that Darwin was a co-discoverer of evolutionary theory. His co-discoverer was Alfred Russell Wallace.

A friend sent me a page from a Kansas City Star editorial written in 1978 which gives us some insight into the mind of Wallace when discussing his theory of evolution in nationalistic (and necessarily racial) terms. Here is what he wrote: “The intellectual and moral qualities of the Europeans are superior; the same power and capacities which have made him rise in a few centuries from the condition of the wandering savage with a scanty and stationary population to his present state of culture and advancement. . . . enable him when in contact with savage man, to conquer in the struggle for existence.” (Uh, Alfred, do you suppose it is the intellectual and moral qualities of the Europeans or the musket and cannons versus spears that account for European superiority in your version of the struggle for existence?)

I know of no such blatantly Eurocentric claim by his co-discoverer, Darwin, in applying nationalism to evolutionary happenstance, and I reject Wallace’s 19th century Eurocentric view of superiority over the “savages” since though he makes reference to Europeans as “wandering savages” it was the Europeans who were the savages for many centuries leading up to the Florentine Enlightenment, centuries marked by ignorance and superstition. While the Byzantines, Arabs and Persians were saving the Greek and Roman treasures for later Western discovery in their universities and libraries and regarded Europeans as ignorant savages, which they were, Europeans were running around dressed in skins, saving nothing and contributing little if anything to human advancement for century after century following the fall of Rome.

I also reject the 21st century Eurocentric views of Richard Spencer, a neo-Nazi bully who runs around the country these days starting riots and making speeches that specifically calls Europeans of the white race superior and all others inferior in a walking endorsement of Eurocentrism, racism, riots, Second Amendment excesses and membership in the KKK (endorsements Trump has not specifically disavowed to date). Spencer has taken nationalism to new heights by playing off race, religion or any other identifying characteristic of the body politic with his white supremacy blather. He seems to be ignorant of white history in Europe, a history which included, among other things, papal crowning of Charlemagne as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which Voltaire later noted was “neither Holy, Roman nor an Empire.” Note to Spencer the white European nationalist/supremacist > Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was white but illiterate. He was crowned emperor by a vote of one, the pope, who made such decisions for the European savages of Central Europe, among many others, in an early demonstration of how things work out when there is a complete lack of separation or church and state.

Speaking of the rise and fall of civilizations and societies in history and the evidence to support what they did or did not contribute to human progress, I am of the view that those of European stock like me have made too little of the Chinese contribution. I have just finished reading a fascinating book written by a professional navigator, a former British submarine commander named Gavin Menzies. The book, “1421, The Year China Discovered America,” is in paperback and was originally published in 2002 after years and years of research involving explorers and cartographers, Chinese junks and Portuguese caravels, the  lucrative silk and spice trade, Chinese colonization, mandarins who attempted to destroy all references to Chinese history, building of the longest canal ever, the total destruction of the “Forbidden City” (Beijing) by fire, and perhaps most significantly, the Chinese exploration of every continent (including even Antarctica) except Europe.

Menzies has pieced his story together by noting that the Straits of Magellan had long since been charted by the Chinese and that the chart was in Magellan’s possession before he “discovered” such straits, contrary to our Eurocentric views of history. He also claims from the wreckage of Chinese junks, votive stones and vestiges of Chinese DNA found in America (from Rhode Island to the Sacramento River in California and from Mexico to Peru) that the Chinese with their great “treasure fleet” of junks discovered America in 1421, some seventy years before Columbus, again contrary to our Eurocentric view that Columbus discovered America. He concludes from evidence he has so meticulously gathered that Rhode Island was first colonized by the Chinese and that our present designation of such northeastern states as measured by first exploration should be called New China rather than New England.

European monarchs of the time of Columbus both before and after were very interested in finding a new route to the Orient in order to cash in on the highly lucrative silk and spice business. With the circumnavigation of the globe by Magellan east to west, such could be accomplished, but the bigger story and much shorter west to east route around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa had to wait on the great cartographer and Portuguese Prince Henry the Navigator and da Gama to “discover” that route to Oriental riches, a “route” known to the Chinese centuries before.

We are (perhaps grudgingly) told by Eurocentric historians that the Chinese invented gunpowder and paper, and so they did, but there is little talk of Chinese inventions and innovations in engineering, mining, botany, undersea repair of their junks’ hulls, metallurgy, porcelain, cartography, paper money etc. that only became known to Europeans centuries later, and why?

Perhaps our Western historians are either witting or unwitting victims of nationalism and racism as Wallace and Spencer are in describing history from a Eurocentric perspective, albeit a subjective perspective not supported by the evidence.  This conclusion is what I mainly gained in reading Menzies’s book, and though not on any bookseller’s or author’s payroll, I recommend reading his book by readers of this essay for a fresher look at human history.

So per Wallace, whose “intellectual and moral qualities are superior?” It plainly depends upon the time and place we are talking about in history as measured by that particular society’s contributions to human history, and being white or black or yellow is irrelevant to such measurement. As I often note, if the Enlightenment/Industrial Revolution had begun in  colonializing Congo, it might well have been us white people who would have been picking cotton for our black masters.     GERALD        E

EXPERT TESTIMONY, UNETHICAL ADVISERS AND BIG PHARMA

EXPERT TESTIMONY, UNETHICAL ADVISERS AND BIG PHARMA

As my followers know, I am no friend of Big Pharma and their political efforts to keep the good and greedy times rolling with their armies of lobbyists and lawyers. Elizabeth Warren in her book This Fight is our Fight has given me additional fuel to add to my distaste of their tactics, all of which are designed to add to their bottom lines but which are threats not only to our democracy but, literally, to our survival, or at least to the survival of 83,000 Americans.

Senator Warren in her book reviews the use of expert testimony before Congress and the courts bought and paid for by corporations to fashion our laws, rules and regulations and such descriptions are unsettling to say the least. She, for instance, zeroes in on testimony given by Dr. Robert Litan before Congress on the issue of a rule regulating kickbacks given to the investment advising industry (aka bribes to such advisers) which included “prizes” in return for steering retirees to higher-priced annuities and other investments, “prizes” which included points toward vacations at fancy resorts, luxury cars, “Super Bowl-style rings” and, of course, cash. Such advice to retirees was based not on what investments were best for the retirees but rather on what was best for the bottom lines of such unethical investment advisers, which I define as bribes pure and simple.

The Department of Labor figured that these “prizes” were costing American consumers about $17 billion a year and had tried for years to pass rules to shut down this steering practice, but the industry’s lobbyists were always successful in beating back such attempts. In 2015, the Department developed a set of stringent rules to clean up these investment malpractices and, unsurprisingly, Republicans sided with the investment industry and called for hearings on the proposed rule with a view toward killing the rule.

One of the expert witnesses called to testify before Congress was Dr. Robert Litan, a non-resident member of the Brookings Institution, an otherwise respectable think tank, who offered expert testimony before the Congress as an independent witness. Contrary to the Labor Department’s findings of a cost of $17 billion a year to consumers, he testified that adoption of the rule would actually cost consumers as much as $80 billion per year! This conclusion by an otherwise well-credentialed expert ran not only counter to the Department’s findings but was also counter to the findings of the Council of Economic Advisers and by independent peer-reviewed studies as well.

Senator Warren rightly thought such a conclusion didn’t make sense since such expert witness “was basically saying that if investment advisers couldn’t steer people to bad products, the customers would lose money.” She thought such testimony did not pass the smell test, so she questioned whether Dr. Litan was an independent witness or a hired gun. Upon further investigation, she found that he was paid $85,000 by the Capital Group and that this investment “Group” had “helped” Litan prepare the report by providing “feedback” and “editorial comments” before he testified. In other words, Litan was a paid gun and one described by the Washington Post which pointed out that Litan’s work was “a spectacularly unpersuasive hack-job.” Dr. Litan left Brookings later and the institution appropriately updated its rules on conflicts of interest in short order.

Most “experts” garnish their reputations by publishing in academic journals. In one such journal, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, there was published an article that compared three diabetes medications. It reported that Avandia, a diabetic drug produced by GlaxcoSmithKline, performed best. GlaxcoSmithKline touted the findings everywhere near and far and sold lots of the product, but it failed to mention that that all eleven of the article’s authors were on the company’s payroll (just as Dr. Litan neglected to mention his stipend of 85 grand from an investment company who had a stake in the outcome of adoption of a rule to prevent fraud and false dealing in investment advice). The Big Pharma result was even worse. This big pharmaceutical company was peddling poison.

Senator Warren notes that every one of the eleven well-paid authors of the report missed the evidence of something that became tragically apparent years later, to wit: that Avandia significantly increased the risk of heart attacks. Before the drug could be pulled off the market it was estimated to have been associated with 83,000 heart attacks and deaths.

So how is our “market economy” faring with its “experts” testifying under oath and falsely in order to influence and/or make policy for all of us? Are our politicians endorsing fraud and false dealing in investment matters (and other matters as well) in return for “campaign contributions?” How about better research of the secondary effects of FDA-approved medicines in the absence of which thousands of people are maimed or die? Do we really favor policies or lack thereof which fleece retirees and literally kill people so that the corporate world can enjoy ever more profits? What happened to our value system? Do we care? Is this the best we can do? Who are we?      GERALD        E

IS THE WORLD RUN BY “THUGS?”

IS THE WORLD RUN BY “THUGS?”

I read an article in a magazine recently in which the author wrote that the world is run by thugs. I went to my Webster Handy College Dictionary, Third Edition, and found that a thug is “a professional cutthroat” and that the term originated from the Hindu “thag, thief, orig. members of an organization of assassins and robbers in India.”

I then looked around the world to determine whether one could fairly say that the world is run by thugs and I think the author is on to something, but that the thugs are not all politicians. Those who finance and otherwise aid and abet the thugs in gaining power for their own benefit are clearly accessories before, during and after the fact and are thugs as well, one or more layers removed. Thus defined, are Putin and his oligarchs anything but thugs? The African dictators? The Saudi family? The North Korean dictator? Trump and his Wall Street greedhogs? Retailers who require their employees to work overtime off the clock? Don’t these retailers who front for policies of greed as well as the greedy meet the dictionary definition of robbers and thieves when they steal an employee’s labor under threat of outsourcing, being fired etc.?

Should we define a thug only in pecuniary terms? What else is available for theft, like the right to vote and earn a living? What about Jerry Falwell, Jr., the preacher who endorses thugs in power in order, presumably, to come up with a theocratic state where he and his ilk would share power? Would he destroy our constitutional wall of separation of church and state, and if so, which church or temple or mosque does he propose to blend in with government? How about state governors with their voter suppression and right to work activities? Aren’t they thugs as well with their thievery of the rights of people to vote and make a living wage?

The only substantial distinction between absolute dictatorship and what the thugs are doing is that the thugs are operating under a pretense of legality and propriety via legislation and contorted judicial decisions by those elected by libertarians with deep pockets such as the Kochs and Mercers. who are also thugs one layer removed from the action. Absolute dictators are more honest than these thugs in that they operate from a position of brute power and make no pretense of representing the people they govern.

The thugs frame the issues to make it appear that their thefts are in consonance with democratic institutions and the common good when they are plainly neither. No? Then tell me how Republican proposals for hundreds of billions of dollars more in tax relief for the superrich advance the common good. Trickledown? Hardly. Try trickle up, i.e., from the poor to the rich. I call it highway robbery, and in broad daylight!  We cannot afford another such increase in our multi-trillion dollar debt, especially at the expense of programs for the underrepresented needy and working class. Unconscionable!

Why are corporations freely organized to do business in states with weak corporate governance laws (deliberately weak in order to draw “home office business” while vying with one another in a race to the bottom for who can be weakest, e.g., Oklahoma and Delaware – General Motors, for instance, is a Delaware corporation) while at the same time passing strong right to work laws which make it almost impossible for unions to organize and represent the human capital of their members? I think that can be classified as thuggery and dictatorship under the cover of policy choice, which it is not, but rather a payoff to those who elected such legislative dictators in order to puff up their corporate bottom lines via payment of slave wages to their workers.

I could but for time and space cite scores of such demonstrations of thuggery masquerading as policy choices for the common good when the result is plainly one that was bought not for the common good but due to enormous payoffs by the secondary thugs in this exercise of corporate ownership of our politics, a process quaintly known as “campaign contributions” but which are in truth bribes, and much more such bribes now with the unleashing of corporate contributions resulting from the holding in Citizens United, a decision that unless reversed or modified could signal the end of our democracy.

So is the world run by thugs? Not altogether. There are countries like Canada, Germany and Sweden and others who actually legislate for the common good and their political leaders are not on the take so far as we know. Then there are the Putins and the Trumps and Third World dictators who pretend to represent the people who elected them (if they are elected – unlike in China’s case) but actually represent the people who provided them with the bought votes to obtain and consolidate political power and deliver the quid pro quo to those whose money elected them. This is, to reiterate, an exercise only one step removed from the “destruction of the administrative state” and dictatorship favored by Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, who was fired but still remains in an unofficial advisory capacity to the Trump administration.

Putin is a dictator and Trump calls him “a strong leader” and the North Korean dictator “a smart cookie,” so the reader can draw his/her own conclusions as to Trump’s politic

al aspirations. Both Putin and Kim are, in my opinion and by any reasonable definition, thugs. So though perhaps the entire world is not run by thugs, large and/or influential countries in international politics such as Russia, China, the U.S, North Korea, Iran, and some of the African states are currently run by thugs as defined in Webster’s Dictionary and by the policy initiatives they have undertaken that are clearly opposed to the common good and a peaceful planet.

So what to do?  In our American case remove such thugs from power at our earliest opportunity and replace them with representatives of the people who govern for the benefit of the many and not the few with deep pockets. As to thugs on the international level, I leave that to the people involved and hope all such changes can be accomplished without undue civil commotion.         GERALD       E

INEQUALITY IN SHARING NATIONAL INCOME

INEQUALITY IN SHARING NATIONAL INCOME

As Piketty in his blockbuster book Capital in the Twenty-First Century notes, “There are many among upper income groups in the United States (including some economists) who believe that the U.S. economy is working “fairly well and, in particular, that it rewards talent and merit accurately and precisely,” which he characterizes as “a very comprehensible human reaction.” Whether our economy is working well, in my opinion, depends upon whom you ask. I agree that in terms of returns to the rich that the economy is performing well but I disagree that such criterion is the appropriate measurement.

Per Piketty, from 1970 to 2010, the top decile’s share of the national income can be broken down into three groups: the richest one percent, the next four percent, and the bottom five percent. The bulk of the growth in inequality came from the one percent (those making more than $352,000 in the year 2010) who during such period gathered in almost three-fourths of the increase, of which roughly half went to the 0.1 percent (those making more than $1.5 million a year). I am always decrying the share of the national income paid to the poor and middle class as unfair and inequitable, as it is, but it appears that there is unfair distribution of the national income among those in the upper decile as well.

Let’s get more specific: There are always “shocks” to the economy such as wars, burst bubbles and the like, but history shows that such financial crises such as that started by the Lehman Brothers collapse, the internet bubble and Bush’s Great Recession are not in themselves causes of structural inequality. We go up and down and then average the results to find out what happened and is happening, but structural inequality continues apace through good times and bad. It is interesting to note in this connection that the share of the upper decile peaked twice in the past century, once in 1928 on the eve of the 1929 crash and the Great Depression, and again in 2007 on the eve of the crash in 2007 and Bush’s Great Recession. See any connection, as when the greedy become super greedy and criminal in their pursuit of the buck? (See millions of foreclosures, mortgage fraud, bailouts etc.)

I often blog that the lack of purchasing power is a major cause of our economy’s stagnation and that such lack of demand as the final arbiter of economic growth means that we are treading water and going nowhere, citing policies leading to wage inequality and thus to tepid demand, and Piketty takes it a step further with conclusions drawn from his incontestable research. He writes: “In my view, there is absolutely no doubt that the increase in inequality in the United States contributed to the nation’s financial instability. The reason is simple: one consequence of increasing inequality was virtual stagnation of the purchasing power of the lower and middle classes of the United States, which inevitably made it more likely that modest households would take on debt” (credit card debt is currently the highest in history) “especially since unscrupulous banks and financial intermediaries, freed from regulation and eager to earn good yields on the enormous savings injected into the system by the well-to-do, offered credit on increasingly generous terms.” Piketty could not be more right in his diagnosis.

His incontestable research shows that there has been a considerable transfer of the national income amounting to fifteen points from the poorest ninety percent to the richest ten percent since 1980, and more specifically, that from 1977 to 2007, we find that the richest ten percent appropriated three-quarters of the growth, and that the richest one percent alone absorbed nearly sixty percent of the total increase if U.S. national income for the period while the ninety percent had less than one half of one percent of such growth. Piketty finally notes in this connection that “whatever one thinks about the fundamental legitimacy of income inequality, the numbers deserve close scrutiny and that it is hard to imagine an economy and society that can continue functioning indefinitely with such extreme divergence between social groups.” Amen!

He is right to a fault and his prediction of the day of a non-functioning economy may be nearing. Even if we admit to a structural inequality built into capitalistic economies, there is room for fairness and equality in distributing the income and wealth of such economies among all the actors rather than handing our income and wealth over almost exclusively to the financial sector as though the ninety percent of us did not exist. I think we may be approaching a point of no return with our failure to share the fruits of our economy, especially with a Republican Congress intent on exacerbating such failure with their proposals of still further tax cuts for the already superrich and other measures which will only make matters worse, but perhaps making the day of reckoning with its attendant chaos nearer.

Lately there have been reports of average wage increases on the order of 3.2 percent. That is not a proper measurement of reality since average wages include Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, among others. The proper measurement is the median, which hasn’t moved for some four decades, and even if it has nudged upward lately, it would have moved up from a slave wage base and has a lot of catching up to do. And demand? It has inched up a bit lately but has largely been financed not with wage increases but with record credit card borrowing on the other side of the ledger. My conclusion? Unless we have substantial increases in wages, from minimum wages to living wages, we again risk recession or worse, including a deflationary spiral and the possibility of civil commotion.     GERALD       E

 

I am a member of a discussion group which responds almost daily to a lady professor’s blog inviting commentary. Following is my commentary which addressed another commentator’s discussion of countervailing force and which employed the metaphor of horses versus tanks in describing Poland’s resistance to Nazi Germany in 1939. My effort is designed to expand today’s meaning of countervailing force from the political to other areas where countervailing force is either weak or not to be found, as follows:

Marv tells it all today with his discussion of countervailing force. It is not only a lack of countervailing force in matters political, it is also a matter of countervailing force in matters economic with political implications, to wit: the lack of countervailing union and citizen power to stop or at least slow down the corporate forces set to take over this country lock, stock and barrel, and as a for instance, it might be much more difficult for DeVos to privatize education if every school teacher in the country’s public schools belonged to a union opposed to such treachery. The continuing lack of countervailing force invites yet such further invasions of policies dedicated to destruction of the common good. What’s it going to take to stop the corporate takeover of America? Socialism? A takeover of Wall Street and corporate governance? Public rather than private investment? Limits on profits? All of the above, and others? These people are asking for a surge in countervailing power that exceeds the modest reforms I am suggesting with my talk of wage inequality and right to work travesties, and if it happens, it could amount to a new disequilibrium of too much power to the left. Horses and tanks amounts to a good metaphor, and Marv is right on, but we need to extend the political to the economic to the social and indeed to our folkways and mores since we are on the cusp of losing the whole shebang to the forces of greed and government by psychotic tweet.     GERALD      E

 

ECONOMIC GROWTH OR HAPPENSTANCE?

ECONOMIC GROWTH OR HAPPENSTANCE?

We are told by the business press in glowing terms that wages are up and consumers are spending more for August, thus stoking demand in the marketplace and setting the stage for a three percent economic growth rate with an increase in the Dow and 156,000 new hires for the preceding month.

What the reports did not tell us is more interesting than what they did tell us, like for instance, credit card debt rose to the highest levels ever (which, instead of an almost imperceptible increase in wages, and subject to usurious interest rates, stoked the demand); the increase in new hires was below that predicted by economists; unemployment inched up one tenth of one percent (back to school for seasonal workers); the percentage of workers who remain out of the workforce since Bush’s Great Recession did not diminish but rather remained stable; prices for gasoline among other inflationary effects cancelled out the miniscule increase of one-tenth of one percent in median wages (which have forty years of “catching-up” to do) and, of course, the fact that the Dow does not measure economic growth but is rather a barometer of how the moneychangers think they can make a buck on the stock exchange via capital gains, enhanced collateral for loans and other forms of leverage etc.

There is real economic growth as defined by GDP and other even more sophisticated analyses and there is economic growth as defined by Wall Street and the politicians. The two are at odds more often than not as reality collides with propaganda. I think we should look behind the numbers and that when we do we will find that the August numbers are a mere blip, and not a big one way or another at that. Equilibria at work. . .

Real economic growth is to be found in the efficiency by which producers of real goods and services perform (perhaps through new automation or other such means of producing more for less), thus increasing profits as a result of such managerial and worker insights and leaving their competitors behind while making their stock more valuable. The moneychangers’ and politicians’ pretenses that their efforts had anything to do with such true economic growth are demonstrably false, as human capital and expertise as well as private money capital (which unlike human and managerial capital, could be efficiently procured elsewhere) are involved in the process of production of goods and services in the real economy.

Such calls from the sidelines from those who profit by the prospects of economic growth, both financially and politically, are irrelevant and post mortem in any event, and their continuing attempts to propagandize the message of true economic growth to fit their selfish ends is reprehensible, as even their hero Adam Smith would agree.

A corporate enterprise or project and its financing are two very different animals. To make for the metaphor, there is a big difference between watching the Indianapolis 500 from the stands with a bet on the winner and actually driving the race cars out where the rubber truly meets the road. All of us, whether financiers, consumers, corporate workers, ecologists, producers or whatever are in the stands and have a stake of varying proportions in who wins and who loses, but the Dow merely measures the finance sector’s expectations, and the pretense that the financial sector is driving in the race is a contrived illusion fostered by Wall Street and their captive business press both print and electronic. They, like the rest of us, are mere bystanders in the race for increased corporate efficiencies and hoped for capital gains to their bets on the race while the rest of us look forward to lower prices due to such enhanced corporate efficiencies in delivery of their goods and services.

So are the August numbers indicative of true economic growth? Perhaps, perhaps not, but in any event, such a snapshot in time is just that, a snapshot, and tells us little to nothing about real economic growth, which occurs on Main Street and not Wall Street, and which is measured not by the Dow but by increased efficiencies in the real economy of production of goods and services, a measure, like the car race, that is not decided after the first or second lap of the race. Time, as our domestic corporations compete with corporate efficiencies both here and abroad, will tell.

Economic growth or happenstance? I think, truth be known, that its place on the spectrum of time is happenstance, but take your pick, because it amounts to much ado about nothing – or very little.       GERALD        E