Sunday, October 29, 2006

zero-sum games and oil

Here's the bottom line: Any finite resource is a ZSG. Even an infinite resource has only 100% of marketshare, to be divided amongst competitors. That percentage is also a ZSG.

Let's see how some of these zero sum issues apply to different areas:
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Markets: are probably the best example of a ZSG. In 2000, the Wishire 5000 was worth $1.2 trillion more than it is today. Some people bought, some people sold. Mark-to-market, there is a loss to the collective buyers from the collective sellers. Its even more specific with individual companies.
I short the SPX to you -- each tick is zero sum -- there's a winner and a loser.
Stocks that always go up and never go down are exempt from this; Please let me know as soon as you find any.
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service economy that is “post industrial”.

Productivity is a simple measure based on total output, divided by the number of workers. Since we have a negative return on capital, the more factories we close to raise capacity utilization, and the more factories we move to China, the fewer workers we will need. Therefore, by definition, productivity goes up. So when our Fed Chairman says “everything is all right because productivity is rising and this is good for the economy and good for the “market”, you should stop and think about who Chairman Greenspan is really talking about. As in every downturn in the past 25 years, when manufacturing jobs go, they don’t come back. We are continuing to move to a modern service economy that is “post industrial”.
The real bubble that remains is the Debt Bubble. What ails corporate America is the need to pay down debt. Moreover, there is no need to invest in new equipment until such time as there has been enough corporate restructuring to get capacity utilization back up to 85%. If new investment is going to be undertaken it is then likely to be undertaken where the labor is hard working and cheap, like China. Even service industries are letting workers go. Productivity is rising, but lay-offs are at recession levels. There are no new jobs. Wages in some industries are dropping, benefits are being slashed, and pensions are not going to be there. We have rising productivity, falling incomes, a negative return on cash, and the destruction of financial capital that will continue until enough factories are taken off line and permanently closed. Both physical and financial capital are in surplus and need to be “destroyed” to bring back a positive return to new investment.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Here comes the sun!! link

Prodigal Sun :
“Solar energy was a rising star in the '70s -- until it was banished by the powers that be. Are we ready for its return?
It was the winter of 1981 and the country was just beginning to feel the sharp edges of the Reagan revolution. Denis Hayes, head of the fledgling Solar Energy Research Institute, was walking through the halls of the Department of Energy when an acquaintance came up to him and said, "Has Frank lowered the boom on you yet?" The Frank in question was an acting assistant secretary, but the boom, it turned out, was falling from the top. President Reagan had once been General Electric's most camera-ready tout, and his administration viewed alternative energy with open scorn. "They're going to kill your study," the gray-suited informant warned Hayes, before slipping down the corridor. “

Here comes the sun!! link

Prodigal Sun :
“Solar energy was a rising star in the '70s -- until it was banished by the powers that be. Are we ready for its return?
It was the winter of 1981 and the country was just beginning to feel the sharp edges of the Reagan revolution. Denis Hayes, head of the fledgling Solar Energy Research Institute, was walking through the halls of the Department of Energy when an acquaintance came up to him and said, "Has Frank lowered the boom on you yet?" The Frank in question was an acting assistant secretary, but the boom, it turned out, was falling from the top. President Reagan had once been General Electric's most camera-ready tout, and his administration viewed alternative energy with open scorn. "They're going to kill your study," the gray-suited informant warned Hayes, before slipping down the corridor. “

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What Happens When You Tax the Rich? They Flinch...

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAX THE RICH?
EVIDENCE FROM EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
Austan Goolsbee
University of Chicago, G.S.B.
and American Bar Foundation
Original Submission: October, 1997
Revision: February, 1999
Abstract
This paper examines the responsiveness of taxable income to changes in marginal tax rates using
detailed compensation data on several thousand corporate executives from 1991 to 1995. The
data confirm that the higher marginal rates of 1993 led to a significant decline in taxable income.
Indeed, this small group of executives can account for as much as 20% of the aggregate change in
wage and salary income for approximately the one million richest taxpayers; one person alone can
account for more than 2%. The decline, however, is almost entirely a short-run shift in the timing
of compensation rather than a permanent reduction in taxable income. The short-run elasticity of
taxable income with respect to the net of tax share exceeds one but the elasticity after one year is
at most 0.4 and probably closer to zero. Breaking out the tax responsiveness of different types of
compensation shows that the large short-run responses come almost entirely from a large increase
in the exercise of stock options by the highest income executives in anticipation of the rate
increases. Executives without stock options, executives with relatively lower incomes, and more
conventional forms of taxable compensation such as salary and bonus show little responsiveness
to tax changes.
___________

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The future of democracy interview W/ Noam Chomsky

The future of democracy
Noam Chomsky interviewed by John Titlow
dragonfire, July 5, 2005
This week, Americans celebrate 229 years of independence. In your view, are we as free and independent as we pride ourselves on being?
A few years ago, after the Reagan years, polls showed that about 80 percent of the public thought that the government works for the few and the special interests, not for the people. Well, if that’s true, then we’re not very free. We don’t have anything to do with our government. If you take a look at the last election, 2004, I don’t think that particular question was asked, but if you compare public attitudes, which are very heavily studied, and the positions of the two candidates, they are poles apart. Both of the political parties are far to the right of the public on a host of general issues. In fact, people had to make guesses about the positions of the parties, because they weren’t really articulated in any comprehensible form. Most people, it turns out, seriously misunderstood the positions of the candidates.
For example, take a current issue: support for the Kyoto Protocols. The United States rejected [it], [but popular support for the Protocols] was so strong that a majority of Bush voters thought he was in favor of them. The same runs true on a host of similar issues. When people were asked to evaluate the federal budget, the opinions of the public are almost the opposite of the budget. A large majority wanted cutbacks in military spending, increases in social spending, health, education, veterans’ benefits, renewable energy, more funding for the United Nations, which the public strongly supports – though neither of the parties do – and more foreign aid. You can just run through the list and see what the public wants and see what the policy is. They’re almost diametrically opposed. That shows up in feelings of helplessness and that the government doesn’t have much to do with us.

Sanctioning Lawlessness by David Cole (link)

Sanctioning Lawlessness
by David Cole
The Nation magazine, October 23, 2006

In a decisive 1-0 decision Monday, President Bush voted to grant the president the constitutional power to grant himself additional powers.... Republicans fearful that the president's new power undermines their ability to grant him power have proposed a new law that would allow senators to permit him to grant himself power. --The Onion, August 1
It's so hard to be a satirist these days. When reality outstrips even The Onion, what's left for Jon Stewart? This summer, the Supreme Court issued a shot across the bow, decisively repudiating expansive executive authority to try "enemy combatants" in kangaroo courts as a violation of Congressional dictates and the Geneva Conventions. On September 28 Congress rewarded the President's lawlessness by giving him a blank check to do it some more. At the same time, it watered down criminal sanctions against abusive treatment of war prisoners and did everything it could to keep that pesky Supreme Court out of the picture, stripping the courts of jurisdiction. In essence, Congress responded to an executive branch that had thumbed its nose at Congress and the world by joining in. After all, what's more important: America's standing in the world and the rule of law, or partisan advantage in the midterm elections?
Under the rules struck down by the Supreme Court, "enemy combatants" could be tried and executed on the basis of coerced testimony, hearsay and classified evidence that the defendants had no meaningful way to confront. Under the Military Commissions Act, some marginally positive changes were made, but enemy combatants can still be tried and executed on the basis of coerced testimony, hearsay and classified evidence that the defendants have no meaningful way to confront. This time, however, Congress declared that its tribunal rules fully satisfy the Geneva Conventions, as if saying it makes it so. Just to make sure, Congress barred anyone from invoking the Geneva Conventions in court against the government or its officials. Instead of remedying the President's violations of international law, in other words, Congress chose to immunize the lawbreakers.

American Fascism Is on the Rise by Stan Goff (link)

The precursors of fascism -- militarization of culture, vigilantism, masculine fear of female power, xenophobia and economic destabilization -- are ascendant in America today.

When I was 18, before student tracking in the public schools had been formalized, an informal tracking system was nevertheless in place: the university track, the craft track, the poultry worker track, and the prison track. I was somewhere between the last two. Both my parents were working in a defense contractor factory, and I was left adrift in the factory-worker 'burbs to be trained by television and alcohol. Raised on a curriculum of McCarthyism, I did the most logical thing I could think of to avoid both the factory and eventual incarceration with the ne'er-do-wells with whom I was keeping company. I joined the Army, and volunteered to fight communists in Vietnam.

I tried to get out of the Army once, and it lasted for four years, whereupon I ended up doing piecework in a sweatshop outside Wilmar, Ark. Back on that public school track, I suppose, but given that the U.S. was no longer invading anyone's country, and that I was responsible for an infant now, I went back into the Army. One thing led to another, and as it turned out I was good at something called special operations, and I ended up making a career of it. By the time I signed out on terminal leave in December 1995, I had worked in eight places designated "armed conflict areas," where people who were brown and poor seemed to be the principle targets of these "special" operations. At some point toward the end, I had decided that plenty of people could look back and say they wished they'd lived differently; and I was just one of them; and that I might salvage something worthwhile from the whole experience by telling the people who had paid me -- people who pay taxes -- what their money was really being spent to do.

Among other activities, I started writing books.

The bad apple

There was nothing more inflammatory in my first book, about the 1994 invasion and occupation of Haiti, than my assertion that Special Operations was a hotbed of racism and reaction. "Hideous Dream - A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti" was my personal account of that operation, and I was explicit not only about the significant number of white supremacists in Special Operations but how the attitudes of these extremists connected with the less explicit white male supremacy of white patriarchal American society and defined, in some respects, the attitude taken by U.S. occupation forces in Haiti toward the Haitian population.

The resistance to this allegation was particularly fierce, and not merely from those inside the Special Operations "community," whose outrage was more public-relations stagecraft than anything else. There was outrage from people who hadn't a moment of actual experience in the military at all. This is an affront to something sacred in the public imaginary of a thoroughly militarized United States: that we are an international beacon of civilized virtue, and that our military is the masculine epitome of that virtue standing between our suburban security and the dark chaos of the Outside. Questioning the mystique of the armed forces is tantamount to lunacy at best and treason at worst.

This is the reason bad-apple-ism has been the predominant meme of the media and the Pentagon when they are compelled to discuss the stories of torture, rape and murder in Iraq and Afghanistan. "A few bad apples" committed torture. "A few bad apples" raped prisoners, fellow female soldiers, and civilians in their homes. The massacre was not descriptive of the Marine Corps, but the work of "a few bad apples." Anyone who wants to be the skunk at this prevarication party need only ask, "How do these bad apples all seem to aggregate into the same units?"

Third World Traveler (link)

THIRD WORLD TRAVELER puts up articles and book excerpts
that offer an alternative view to the mainstream media about the state of democracy in America,
and about the impact of the policies of the United States' government,
transnational corporations, international financial institutions, and the corporate media,
on democracy, free speech, social and economic justice, human rights, and war and peace,
in the Third World, and in the United States.
THIRD WORLD TRAVELER also provides information and links
to aid international travelers.

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