Monday, December 7, 2015

I Just Got Gallup Polled.

I just got Gallup polled.  Over the phone. The lady was quite nice and quite patient.  Some of the questions were- limiting, and I was unable to provide a correct or at least an accurate answer that I considered truthful.  But maybe my thinking is too literal.  Anyway.  Their education question wasn't easy, as I have a lot of college, not some, though no degree, not even an Associate's.  Also, they didn't ask what my job was, but maybe the sample wasn't large enough for that to be useful. Hmm- No they could have grouped occupations so the statistics could be meaningful.  By economic sector, say.  There's like 8 or 10, so each would have had on average about 170 people out of a sample of about 1500, which I believe is typical for these kinds of polls. Or if I was retired, or disabled.  (According to the article linked below, they take 1000 samples per day. 

No questions on hobbies, which I think could also be grouped into a few useful categories.  They asked an interesting question- something about whether I had a leader in my life who helped me ah, feel good about things?  Something about that.  I told her no.  Lots of questions about my health.  I don't actually have diabetes, but I am pre-diabetic. How to answer that? Same with my blood pressure, for which I receive  minimal treatment.  I do have other health problems, but they are mostly pretty trivial. I won't go into them, here.  An I a Christian?  I value Christ's contribution to humanity, in general, and to society and theology in particular, but I don't obsess about it.  That I consider inappropriate.  Even un-Christian. Questions about depression, but not other mental conditions, of which I have one.

Some redundancy, but that may be for 'truth checking,' on which I may not have done well.

She did ask my opinion about the economy.  Is it good or poor?(Poor.)  Is it getting better?(No.)  I did say I thought my situation was going to get better.  Didn't ask where I got my news, (very little mainstream, mostly off the Web,) or whether I identify as a Republican or Democrat or neither, liberal or conservative.

They asked a lot of questions.  I think, by asking a few more and by further partitioning the domain of their sample space, they could have gotten a lot more information.  

For the interested:

Oops.  I got Gallup polled last night, but I forgot to publish this then.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Our Financial Sector has Become a Parasite

This post is (mostly) a copy of a comment (@131) in response to reason (@123 & @ 124) over at Crooked Timber:

This is John Quiggin, the original poster, quoting himself in a previous post:

The financialization of the global economy has produced a hugely costly financial sector, extracting returns that must, in the end, be taken out of the returns to investment of all kinds. The costs were hidden during the pre-crisis bubble era, but are now evident to everyone, including potential investors. So, even massively expansionary monetary policy doesn’t produce much in the way of new private investment.

“Hugely costly financial sector” does not really describe what is going on:  Massive tumor sucking the life out of its host is a much better description.  The financial sector no longer serves society.  It serves itself.  Indeed, is 'Serve Oneself." not the motto of Capitalism?  While the financial sector, (and we are talking about the activities of the large, and very large, and the wealthy, and very wealthy,) does occasionally allocate resources in the rest of the economy, to the rest of the economy, mostly it plunders the resources of society and allocates those resources to itself, for its own engorgement.

My comment:

You have disinflation in the real economy, but inflation in the fictitious (financial) economy. They have become separate economies. Money is being taken out of the real economy and pumped into the financial economy. Not only does this drive up the price of financial assets, (like money, BTW. but other assets which do not have a real value in themselves, but only value depending on the health of the real economy. Most tech toys and their industries, for instance. ) but financial assets chasing each other also drive up the price of financial assets.

Imagine a continuum of reality, starting at the left and going to the right, most real on the left, and decreasingly real and increasingly imaginary as you go to the right : Food and energy, on the left end, mining, then manufacturing, transport, etc, retail, hospitality, etc. in some order, high tech in there somewhere, then money in its various forms, bonds, stocks, etc. derivatives, other phantasmagorical financial instruments. It is an enormous bubble of ‘value’ where each item to the right is dependent for its survival on the health of the parts of the economy to its left. If, for instance, the food and energy sectors collapse, none of the rest of it will have any value.

The economy on the right is easy to capitalize and leverage and extract (financial) profits. So all investments are allocated over there. ( Capitalism invests in what is profitable, and only incidentally in what is needed.) The economy on the left, however, is leverage poor, and profit poor, so it is instead being allowed to deteriorate, and even where possible, plundered for its capital.

It is the size of this bubble which is maintaining the value of the dollar. And as the bubble increases relative to the size of the money supply, the value of the dollar also increases. (There is also a deflationary effect due to the trade deficit, since money is continually being taken out of the real economy, and put into the fictitious economy when, say, the Chinese deposit their money in US banks.)

It is all, of course, a manifestation of debt. Were the debt of the real economy honestly accounted for, it would be clear to everyone that there was no possibility that the people who actually produce the things we need could ever paying those f**king bloodsucking leeches even a fraction of what our f**king masters of the universe have defrauded the people of the world out of.

Indeed, our masters own our world, and our country several times over.
It just comes down to the day they decide to collect what is owed them.

Progress and Pseudoprogress

What changes to what elements of society would qualify as evidence of ‘progress?’  We sort of assume society is making ‘progress,’ but we seldom check to see what is actually happening, or ask if what is happening is really motion toward a desirable, and necessarily sustainable, goal.  So let’s look at some trends, and decide whether they are indicative of ‘progress.’
Let’s start with some of the good ones. 

For instance:  Is increasing inequality a sign of ‘progress?’  One could argue that it is a (necessary) price for progress, one that fortunately doesn’t have to be paid by the wealthier beneficiaries of progress.  But do those who do have to pay this price benefit from ‘progress’ at all?  Or is other people’s progress bought with their decline? 

The environment is mostly more polluted.

More people, greater stress on limited resources.

More forests cut down.

Fewer wild animals.

More fisheries depleted or facing depletion.

Soil depletion.

Increased depletion of ground water.

Warmer more acidic oceans.

(US).  Fewer factories  More office space

 Fuel efficiency

But use more energy

Increasing reliance on distant sources of oil minerals which must be extracted at increasing cost.   including mineral fertilizers.
Increased incarceration.

Increased polarization of society

Increased concentration of ownership of the means of production
  Increased concentration of ownership of media.

Increased concentration of ownership of whisky production

Increased debt burdens of government and non-wealthy

More people:

More land planted

Increased spending on military.

Increased threats from terrorism

Lots more ‘data’

More money

(US)More guns in private hands.

(US) Increased costs of health services

(US) Increased costs of higher education.

(US) Increased trade deficit
(click on the little ‘MAX’ button)

Reduced spending on infrastructure.

More and more expensive technology for non-poor  especially the very rich

The Internet.

(US ) Bigger houses.  More mega mansions.

(US) More homeless.  Increased poverty.

More useless anti-biotics

The rise of neo-liberalism

(US) More militarized police force

More corrupt politics  Serving narrow constituency, vs, the people.  

Increased concern with the self. Vs public.

Increasing privatization of the commons.

More mega yachts

I'll get around to filling in most of the other references. (Or you could.)  And perhaps some other indicators. (Or you could.) I apologize that some data are merely indicative.   But I wanted to get the next post out.

Thank you.