Business Voyages Archives
Webpage, Internet, and Facebook Articles and Posts by Richard John Stapleton: June 13, 2011-September 25, 2015
Business Voyages Ship’s Log
Periodic reactions, thoughts, epiphanies, analyses, epistles, prescriptions, warnings, predictions, essays, editorials, etc., by Richard John Stapleton, shown below with his infamous trusty Classroom De-Gamer™, used 30 years to start case method discussions in his business courses. Most of these postings shall probably have some connection with the material published in Business Voyages, so it will probably help the reader keep these posting in context if s/he has read Business Voyages. These postings shall probably update, make current, add to, polish, embellish, emphasize or correct analyses and conclusions published in Business Voyages.
SEE THE STAPLETON GALLERY OF FOLK HISTORY AND CONVERSATION ON FACEBOOK AT https://www.facebook.com/richard.stapleton.397.
September 25, 2015
All Hands On Deck
This is my first All Hands on Deck briefing since December 12, 2013. As I explained in my article below published August 15, 2015 in MWC News (Media with Conscience) at http://www.mwcnews.net/focus/politics/53583-waiting-on-a-hurricane.html we have had relatively smooth sailing for almost two years. Such is not the case now. We are experiencing serious headwinds and the storm could get much worse, requiring major changes of course. Hopefully we won’t have to batten down the hatches before the storm passes.
Waiting On A Hurricane In The Summer Of 2015
I posted December 12, 2013 “All Hands on Deck: The World Has Not Gone to Hell in a Handbasket—Yet.”
That was the last post I made in the Ship’s Log, a blog-like page, on the website of Effective Learning Company, at www.effectivelearning.net.
I did not post anything in the Ship’s Log after December 12, 2013 up to now because I did not detect any new threats on the horizon I considered serious enough to write about, and I more or less got tired of blogging, having reached the ripe old age of 74. Also I began to think my Internet writing was not doing any good, that few people read it, and there were other writers out there saying about the same things better than I can.
But yesterday I felt like making another post in the Ship’s Log and I produced this piece of writing.Don Quixote rides again.
I think this new presidential election campaign is a serious new threat. It a tiresome banal process, replete with a new crop of bought and paid for lightweight Republican ideologues thrown in our faces in mainstream media, saying little or nothing of significance about real problems, smiling and strutting around the country shaking hands with poorly-informed credulous voters, like robot mannikins, spewing their canned propaganda and slogans in speeches—and the scariest part is one of them might actually get elected president of the US in 2016.
As situations in Greece and other emerging markets show, the global economy is now in desperate straits. The US stock market after gradually sinking this year for the first time in several years could start collapsing at any time, as in Greece and China. There are still not enough good jobs in the US; poverty is endemic; there are race riots in the streets; racist terrorists in the US are shooting defenseless people at point blank range in cold blood; and the US Federal Reserve board probably does not have a clue about what to do now, after they have injected about three and a half trillion new digital dollars into the US economic casino, while still holding interest rates at almost zero, to little avail for lower and middle classes, mainly making the rich richer.
The first article I posted in the Ship’s Log March 11, 2011 was titled “Can Another Great Depression Happen?” The answer, I now fear, is yes, and we may be in the middle of it.
The Ship’s Log now contains 32 articles and 2 books scrollable on one page, documenting my take on the US and global economic and political system, either posted in full or linked to non-mainstream media, such as Amazon.com, MWC News (Media with Conscience), Consortium News, and the Intrepid Report.
The Ship’s Log contains one mainstream media article I got published in the Macon Telegraph July 21, 2011, the only mainstream media print publication I have found intrepid enough to publish any of my writing. I tried many of them, sending out hundreds of email submissions to daily newspapers all over the United States, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. The Macon Telegraph was the only taker, Macon being a city of 89,891 in Central Georgia.
My Macon Telegraph print article titled “The US Budget Deficit and Federal Debt, What to Do?” was also posted in an Internet edition of the Macon Telegraph from whence it was forwarded and reposted on the Internet at various sites in and outside the US. It was discussed and cussed, and vilified by some. One local yokel around Macon wrote in an Internet comment I reminded him of the guy his daddy told him about. He said his daddy told him if you could buy that guy for what he is worth and sell him for what he thinks he is worth you could get rich. On the other hand, one reader in the Macon area, a farmer, whom I had never met, telephoned and thanked me for writing the article, telling me he was glad we had at least one person in Georgia who could write something serious and critical about Republicans and get it published in the Macon Telegraph.
Following are two excerpts from the article posted in the Ship’s Log.
“I watched and listened in amazement (almost in shock) with millions of others July 22 (2011) as the president of the United States explained how his debt and deficit negotiations with the speaker of the House of Representatives came to a halt with nothing accomplished.”
“This article set the stage for the spectacle we witnessed this year in the fall of 2013 in the latest budget standoff between the president of the US and the US speaker of the House, with petulant juvenile tea partiers in the House causing a government shutdown costing billions of dollars.”
Many of my colleagues publishing or posting articles in Internet journals refer to mainstream media as the presstitute media, bought and paid for by the US fascist corptocracy now running the US. Some say real democracy in the US is now dead. The editor of the Macon Telegraph knew most of his readers would take umbrage to my article.He took some risk publishing the article, and I appreciate that.
Read this article in full on the Ship’s Log at www.effectivelearning.net, several posts down from the top of the page, posted under the title, “The US Budget Deficit and Federal Debt, What to Do?”
Following my December 12, 2013 Ship’s Log post about the world having not gone to hell in a handbasket yet, reposted immediately below summarizing how we got here, I will give my view of the economic situation today and what I think lies ahead.
It seems to me we may be in the lull of the eye of an economic and political hurricane that struck in 2007, with the worst yet to come. It could be what is often referred to as the Great Recession of 2007 was a large hurricane that made landfall and passed through, and what is now forming is another independent large hurricane; but it seems to me we could be in the lull of the eye of one monster system.
December 12, 2013
All Hands On Deck
The World Has Not Gone To Hell In A Handbasket—yet
This is the first All Hands On Deck meeting we have had on this Ship’s Log page since March 13, 2013 at www.effectivelearning.net. A good bit of water has gone under the bridge and we have made some headway. Obama got elected again in November 2012 and we have now sailed almost five years with his administration. He got us out of Iraq as promised, and, as I understand it we are pulling troops out of Afghanistan as promised, although not as many as promised, if our military and the Obama administration get what they now want, to leave US troops on the ground in Afghanistan until, would you believe, 2024, 11 more years. This is beginning to sound more like permanent occupation rather than war fighting and nation building to me. As I understand it the US now has military troops on the ground in about 100 countries, doing one thing or another. What would Earth do without the US military? Republican ideologues want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid expenses, but they do not want to cut military expenditures, because their sugar daddies in the military-industrial complex paying their political expenses do not want their political incomes and the sales of military hardware cut.
US troops were supposed to completely withdraw from Afghanistan after 2014, but after 14 years of fighting the Pentagon is now crawfishing on the deal. Apparently they are worried the Taliban will again take over as soon as they pull out. So now they have had John Kerry, US Secretary of State, craft some sort of Bilateral Agreement that would allow from six to twenty thousand US troops to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely after 2014, or at least until 2024, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign it, saying he wanted all US troops out as agreed after 2014. Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of Defense, says he is confident he can get Karzai to sign the Bilateral Agreement with the US and NATO, which would at least allow NATO to keep troops in Afghanistan after 2014, including no doubt US troops, as advisors. Meanwhile Karzai is getting friendly with Iran, worried about foreign presence in the region, and apparently has signed some sort of bilateral security agreement with Iran. This is not a pretty picture any way you look at it. Bush II got us in Afghanistan looking for Osama bin Laden, who was supposed to be hiding there. When we did not find him we should have got the hell out then. No country in history has ever been able conquer or cow down Afghanistan. How long will it take the Pentagon to figure it out they can’t either? Or is it they just plan to stay there forever trying?
The Obama administration got us through the Great Recession and the Banking Collapse of 2008 after the Federal Reserve pumped trillions of dollars of new funny money into the banking system, thus saving the hides of miscreant bankers and enriching them even more, thus keeping the economy afloat, but not creating many new jobs, especially good jobs paying a living wage for American workers. More and more Americans are now living on food stamps and working two or more part-time jobs to keep body and soul alive. About 20 percent of all US citizens now live in poverty. The official unemployment rate of the US, the percent of working age workers, starting at age 16, actively looking for a job, is now 7 percent. The actual unemployment rate, the percent of working age workers who would like to have a job, is probably about 25 percent. The percent of working age workers not working, counting housewives and househusbands, successful people who retired early, lucky children being reared in affluent homes who spend their after school hours doing homework and other things, and disabled people, is about 40 percent.
The OA (Obama Administration) oversaw the creation of a new banking reform law, the Dodd-Frank law, that did very little to reform the basic problems of the banking system. They should have restored the Glass-Steagall Act of the 1930s that forbade banks from using other people’s money to gamble in financial markets buying and selling stocks, bonds and other securities, such as collateralized debt obligations, and, especially, buying and selling weapons of mass financial destruction known as derivatives, the worst form of gambling yet devised by human beings. The world is now saddled with about $600 trillion of nominal derivatives contracts that could explode at any time. These people are betting with one another that debtors may not make their loan payments, principal and/or interest, at any time, having no assurance all their gambling partners will have the ability to pay off their bets if they lose, knowing full well the whole house of cards will implode if a large number of losers can’t fork over cash to cover their bets. They place their bets in the first place to make it seem they have less risk of getting back money they have loaned out, so they can then borrow more money to loan out, and buy or sell more stocks, bonds, collateralized loans, and derivatives contracts, and on and on it goes, day after day, thereby stretching the actual collateral, i.e. skin in the game, in the system thinner and thinner, which is necessary in order for banksters to earn bigger and bigger bonuses every year, and get richer and richer, based on their short run, ephemeral digital profit.
Just today (November 10, 2013) I read US banking regulators intend to impose a new Volcker Rule on banks that will cut down on their gambling and force them to act more like real bankers. How long it will take to get this rule operative remains to be seen. Quite naturally the banksters are opposed to it and are fighting back.
US stock markets have reached new highs during the OA, and a good many people have made some money in the stock market, primarily the elite rich who did not need the money, thanks to the Federal Reserve pumping trillions into the system and keeping interest rates low, thereby enabling the OA to reduce the federal deficit. Interest rates have been the lowest in living memory enabling the federal government to sell its short-term bonds for almost nothing and its long-term bonds for less than 3 percent. The outstanding federal debt is now about $17.2 trillion. If the average interest rate the US treasury has to pay on this debt goes up to 5 percent, the federal interest expense will be about $850 billion per year, up from about $400 billion per year now, which will cause the budget deficit to explode again.
Needless to say, things are by no means financially sound now. How long will it be before we have the next financial crisis? Nobody knows.
In order to make serious improvements in the domestic economy something should have been done to create good jobs since 2007. This requires raising the after loophole effective tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich back to 1980 levels where our wisest and fairest ancestors set them, and borrowing and printing money to directly fund infrastructure jobs in transportation, green energy, education and the like, which thanks to a multiplier effect would create millions of jobs in the small business sector. Unfortunately all the stimulus money to date has been used to directly fund banks and large corporations run by rich banksters and CEOs. Republicans have self-righteously and steadfastly refused to allow these tax increases to happen to keep getting funding from their corporate and elite rich patrons.
The OA was able to get a health care reform act passed that will help some low income people and make some improvements to our overall healthcare system, however inadequate it is. Republicans have fought this tooth and nail to no avail. What we should have had was a single payer system, such as Medicare for all; maybe we will get it sooner or later. See my article “The Affordable Care Act—No Gain Without Pain” posted below on this Ship’s Log page.
How good of a job has Obama done? Not as good as he said he would, but not nearly as bad as Republicans say he has. He has done a hell of lot better than Reagan and Bush II did, and I am convinced he has done infinitely better than McCain or Romney would have. He has not done anything totally stupid like invading and conquering a sovereign nation not posing a military threat to the US, or getting caught fooling around with a Monica Lewinsky. Despite Clinton getting caught with his fly open, he and Al Gore cut federal expenses and eliminated the federal budget deficit, producing a $200 billion per year surplus by the time they left office. Bush II, in my opinion the worst president in US history, turned the Clinton-Gore budget surplus
into a $1 trillion budget deficit in short order. I vividly remember talking with a fellow business professor in my GA SO Univ office, who was a retired Army lt. colonel, who had taught at West Point, who thought bombing Iraq was fine if that was what “they” decided to do, right before Bush II started bombing Iraq, and me telling him if they did it the budget surplus would be totally wiped out.
Unfortunately, I hit the nail right on the head. The budget surplus was wiped out in short order. The bombing and invasion created a $1 trillion budget deficit in about one year, setting in motion one of the worst economic episodes in US history. I still can’t believe the US federal government was dumb enough to do that, or that our political system would make it possible for someone as unethical, irresponsible and stupid as Bush II to decide to invade, conquer and destroy a sovereign nation posing no military threat to the US. Bush II, to use his own word (the word he used praising Brownie in New Orleans after Katrina hit) did a heckuva job snatching economic failure from the jaws of economic success. And it’s been downhill ever since.
Obama’s biggest downfalls in my opinion have also been caused by military problems—not closing down Guantanamo, detaining terrorist suspects indefinitely, and spying on everyone with electronic surveillance. Drones, as terrible as they are, it seems to me might be justifiable dealing with some hardcore terrorists. I think Obama ought to get us out of Afghanistan in 2014 as he said he would. I think we have had enough unnecessary militarization.
Obama’s approval rating has fallen to about 40 percent from his high of about 75 percent; but he has some way to go before he sinks as low as Bush II, 25 percent, who sunk from a high of about 90 percent.
Since retiring at GA SO Univ in 2005 I have published two books and several articles, and I decided to post them on this Ship’s Log page in annotated form with links to the actual articles in the media in which they were published. To read any of the books or articles all you have to do is click on the link. Most professors do something to stay productive after they retire from teaching. Some get involved with civic clubs, churches and the like, some volunteer with community groups such as Habitat for Humanity doing things like helping build free houses for poor people or sell used goods in Habitat stores to help poor people; some join breakfast clubs or lunch groups that regularly meet; some do pro bono consulting; some continue to do research and writing. Most do something to “give back”. In my case I have tried to give back by doing something to help make the world a little better place through research, writing and publishing, however quixotic and grandiose this notion might be. Following on this Ship’s Log page are some jousts at windmills since 2005.
August 11, 2015
All Hands On Deck
Ordinary Life, Politics And Economics
A large majority of my Facebook friends and fellow Internet writers have decided while Democrats are less harmful than Republicans in Washington, both parties are corrupted by corporate and elite rich campaign financing and both parties must please the rich at the expense of we the people. Some of us think the best remedy would be to vote all sitting politicians out of office ASAP. In my opinion if you were to randomly select educated intelligent US citizens off the streets, who had no desire to be a politician, and send them to Washington to replace all sitting senators and representatives the US government would improve overnight, since these citizens could use their common sense to vote for the right thing for we the people. Most government problems are not that complicated. The problem is obvious solutions cannot be implemented because of vested interests. Therefore you have to put in office people with no vested interests to bring about significant change. See various posts substantiating this conclusion on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/richard.stapleton.397 and on my Ship’s Log page at www.effectivelearning.net. See also my Facebook page for Effective Learning Company at https://www.facebook.com/www.effectivelearning.net?pnref=story.
Randomly selecting people to serve in public office is not a novel idea. The process is called sortition and the ancient Greeks did it as early as the 6th Century BC.
I was recently appointed to the board of USVRA.US, a section 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation, founded by my long-time friend William John Cox, a political activist, author, retired prosecutor, and public interest lawyer, of Long Beach, California. Wm and I were friends in the first grade at Wolfforth, Texas on the South Plains in 1945. He is convinced the US Constitution should be amended to provide funding for voting discussions and paid voting holidays for all citizens for federal elections to generate true democratic involvement in the process, giving all citizens the right to write-in candidates at elections on secure paper ballots, among many other things. I strongly support this movement. See the USVRA (United States Voters’ Rights Amendment) at http://usvra.us/the-voters-rights-amendment/.
In the meantime, seeing as how we are stuck with the current system, at least in the short run, I am convinced Bernie Sanders is by far the best candidate for president of the United States in 2016. If only he can get the Democratic nomination, or run as an Independent, so we can actually vote for him for president. I think the risk of him splitting the Democratic vote as an Independent thereby enabling a bought and paid for disingenuous lightweight Republican ideologue to become president is a risk worth taking if necessary. Hillary Clinton in my opinion is as bought and paid for by the plutocracy as Republicans.
Last Saturday night my wife and I saw and heard the Charlie Daniels Band, possibly the best Country & Western band in the world, perform in the Western Carolina Performing Arts Center at Franklin, North Carolina. Charlie Daniels is now 79 years old and says he has no intentions of retiring, that he enjoys every concert, has no anxiety or stage fright, knows exactly what he is doing, that he enjoys being in charge on stage, and he walks on stage every time confident they will do it right again.
Charlie was born in the eastern lowlands of North Carolina but he said Western North Carolina in the mountains was always one of his favorite parts of the country. He plays the fiddle, guitar, banjo and mandolin. He had two assistants at the back of the stage the whole time doing nothing but tuning his instruments that would frequently hand him a new one to be used with different songs. All he had to do was strap on the appropriate instrument depending on the song and take off again with no dead time. I never saw anything like it. He said he had been making a living in the competitive country music business since 1957. He said his current band members, a keyboarder, a drummer, and three guitarists, are the best musicians he has ever worked with. I agree with his high opinion of them.
The band played about an hour and a half nonstop, about perfectly without a single glitch or hitch as near as I could tell. How they could remember the words to that many songs and the notes for that much music is phenomenal, especially Charlie, at his age. One band member was maybe in his sixties but the rest were relatively young men. Charlie did all the talking and almost all the singing. He connected well with his audience emotionally and intellectually. They play all genres of country and western music, including the music of Bob Dylan.
The Western Carolina Performing Arts Center, constructed and owned by the owner of Drake Software in Franklin, who made millions of dollars from a piece of accounting software he invented and programmed to help accountants do tax work, seats 1500 people. It was almost sold out Saturday night.
Charlie said he believed in his god and Jesus and the American flag, and he liked cornbread and his chicken fried. He said he liked pickups and tractors and nobody better try to take away his guns. He is a big supporter of military veterans and exhorts his audiences to respect men and women in uniform. Although he said his son, a college graduate, had convinced him to get a computer and a webpage and a Twitter account, he said he had little use for intellectuals. He said it is amazing what you can communicate in less than 45 characters. He said if someone told him he was a redneck and a southerner he had only two words to say to them: “Thank you!”
He could have used the word liberal rather than intellectual but he didn’t, possibly because he had no desire to add fuel to the fire now raging in the US class war. Most of the audience appeared to be working class people. It was obvious a sizeable portion of the audience had military experience and/or appreciation for the military, as evidenced by their boisterous applause when military service and veterans were mentioned and the Army and Marines stickers affixed to their vehicles in the parking lot. I did not notice anyone of African descent in the audience, but I detected no racial remarks or innuendoes.
The band did their thing flawlessly, and the audience was pleased, satisfied, and affirmed. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the show and we were glad we went.
Tickets for the concert weren’t cheap, $40 and up. The gross for the night was probably about $60,000. I have no idea how it was split up, but most likely it was a good night for the band monetarily. I would guess if they did that well once a week the band members would earn over $100,000 per year with Charlie earning more. But for sure they are not doing it just for the money. They are mainly doing it for the fun of it and the satisfaction and the pride. There is nothing better than doing something you like to do better than anyone else can do it and getting recognized for it. They seemed to enjoy doing the show as much as the audience enjoyed watching it. Charlie gives some of his money back to support military veterans.
My wife and I attended the concert because we happened to be staying for a week in our vacation home four miles from Franklin and I happened to see an article promoting it in the Macon County News. We spend most of our time in our home in the flatlands of Southeast Georgia near Statesboro. I listen to country music on our car satellite radio to stay awake during the five-hour trip. Franklin is always about ten degrees cooler than Statesboro. It’s interesting I can’t remember hearing the Charlie Daniels Band on country and western satellite radio channels.
We have been making the trip from Statesboro to Franklin and back via Stillmore, Swainsboro, Louisville, Stapleton, Thomson, Washington, Elberton, Lavonia, Toccoa, and Clayton several times per year for some 16 years. It’s a pretty good drive with decent roads and not much traffic with good views of pine forests and productive farms. The towns however are in decline, especially since 2007. They contain lots of vacant business buildings just sitting there rotting away. Most noticeable are what were once building supply stores, grocery stores, automobile dealerships and restaurants. Unemployment in the towns is relatively high and incomes are relatively low. There are three McDonald’s pit stops en route.
If only everyone could be as accomplished and successful making a living as Charlie Daniels and his band.
Ubiquitous Economic Failure
I became convinced after the crash of 2007-08 this eventuality was not business as usual, at least during my lifetime. Yes, we had sailed through a savings and loan housing crisis in the 1980s and 1990s requiring shutting down or otherwise resolving over 1000 savings and loan associations and sending a few of the criminals running them to prison; but never before had major banks such as JP Morgan Chase and insurance companies such as AIG threatened to take down the entire money and banking system because of their incompetent, greedy and unethical gambling practices. Yes, Chrysler had to be bailed out in 1979, but never before had General Motors required federal bailing out to stay afloat. Yes, we had had high unemployment before, but never before had we had unemployment that won’t go away. Never before had we had employment like we now have, a situation in which millions of people even if they have a job, or several part-time jobs, cannot make a decent living. The government now tells us unemployment is at its normal overall level, about five percent; but this does not count the millions of people who have given up looking for a job, and the employment number includes millions of workers having jobs not providing a decent standard of living.
There are now US cities going bankrupt because corporations sent the good jobs of their citizens to low wage countries, a major cause of unemployment and underemployment and the depressed job market in the US. Sure, part of this unemployment was caused by corporations using computers and robots instead of humans to do jobs in the US, but there is no doubt much of the problem was caused by outsourcing.
Since the crash of 2007 the US Federal Reserve System has resorted to “quantitative easing”, a euphemism for printing money, itself a euphemism, since no money is actually printed, attempting to jolt the US economy back into recovery. In reality all the Fed has to do to create digital money out of thin air is make a few strokes on computer keyboards to affix digits to computerized accounts. Personnel at the Federal Reserve have keystroked in digits representing over $3 trillion in new money in their accounts enabling the Fed to buy back bonds from banks, thereby putting the new money in banks, enabling them to buy things and make loans to spur economic activity, which helped get the economy back on track to some extent, especially for the elite rich.
Keystroking this digital money into the banking system enabled banks, corporations, hedge funds, rich investors, and the like to borrow this digital money at low interest and loan it out or gamble with it in “markets” for a higher return. Corporations have borrowed money at low rates and have used it to buy back their own stock in the stock market, so their top fat cats can cash in their stock options to enrich themselves, thereby also enriching their stockholders in general. Thus we now have an inflated stock market that could start crashing at any time. And the banks, insurance companies, and other speculators have continued to leverage their capital with derivatives trades supposedly hedging their bets, thereby creating counterparty risk. There are now hundreds of trillions of dollars of nominal derivatives trades globally, which could explode in a figurative mushroom cloud. Some say the global derivatives market now comprises over a quadrillion dollars in nominal trades, becoming the first monetary evaluation of anything I ever heard about to be expressed as a quadrillion.
By no means has the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill of 2010 corrected all the policies and practices of the banking industry causing the 07-08 crash, and the bill added a major new worry to the list of problems. The Dodd-Frank bill makes it legal for the government to rescue banks using a new procedure. Instead of only bailing out banks after the next crash, the Dodd-Frank bill makes it possible to also save them with bail-ins. Yes, to get their hands on cash to continue operating in the next crash banks can simply confiscate depositor money if the government so decrees. You can wake up one day and find out the government decided to keep banks open that day by decreeing they could simply subtract some numbers from your bank balance and use it for operating cash. This has already happened on the Island of Cyprus.
It would be nice if the US were the only country managing its money and finances in such a shabby risky fashion. But, no, all countries are about as bad as the US, some worse, China, Japan, Germany, Ireland, especially Greece. All countries in recent decades have done about what the US has done. They have used digital free money to make loans and now a sizeable percentage of the loans cannot be paid back. Greece has dominated mainstream and non-mainstream media news recently as it has tried to borrow more money from the EU to stave off a financial collapse.
It is harder for Greeks to deal with their debt problem than most sovereign nations because Greece is a member of the European Union, which caused Greeks not to have their own currency, meaning they cannot create new digital spending money out of thin air, or depreciate their currency. They have to use the Euro, the same currency Germany and other EU members use, and to keep operating they have to have new loans from the European Central Bank or the International Monetary fund or the World Bank, or elsewhere, and they have to obey rules set by their lenders regulating how they spend the money they borrow.
Greece is technically bankrupt. The Greek government cannot repay its loans and the only way they can keep operating is to borrow more money from outside Greece to make payments on loans they already have. Almost certainly Greece can never repay the loans it has now no matter how impoverished the Greek people become, no matter how much their pensions are cut, no matter how much their wages are cut, no matter how much their taxes are raised. Unemployment, poverty, and misery have significantly increased in Greece in recent years because of already being forced to make such cuts by their creditors.
The only logical and humane solution is for Greece’s loans to be written down, meaning some percentage of them must be forgotten or forgiven, meaning people and institutions that loaned them the money will have to take what is commonly called a “haircut.” As with any bank or lender loaning money to what is obviously a bad credit risk in a real market if the debtor cannot repay then it’s tough luck, and the loans have to be written off or reduced. But the lenders of Greek debt don’t want to do this. They want to make the Greek people pay, no matter how much they have to suffer. England before the American Revolution threw people in debtor’s prisons for not repaying their loans, thereby insuring the debtor would never be able to repay his or her debits. Many were finally shipped off to America to get rid of them.
Greece is now in a debtor’s prison of sorts, but there is no way you could ship 11 million Greeks off to America.
Most countries around Earth are now in a pickle to some extent analogous to Greece, as are certain citizens of all countries, thanks to the creating of digital money used to make loans to everyone, regardless of credit ratings, regardless of low probabilities the money could be paid back based on earning power and market conditions. Anyone who cannot repay loans and who must borrow more money to pay off old loans is in a debtor’s prison of sorts, living under constant stress and duress, possibly at the poverty level, or at a subsistence level, with little hope of getting out, much less ahead.
The US now has about two trillion dollars of such money loaned to students and car buyers much of which cannot be paid back, in credit bubbles somewhat analogous to the housing bubble of 2007.
The crash of 07-08 in the US and in Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and elsewhere was primarily caused when debtors could not make payments on house loans made with such money. Bankers loaned money to people they knew had little means of repaying the loans on time. Regardless, this increased their profit and executive bonuses for that year, and future losses were ignored. And they often sold their toxic loans to bigger fish in bigger banks who combined them with other loans and sold them to even bigger banks, trying to get rid of their sins, all the while calling it profit and using the profit to borrow even more money to gamble with in the global economic casino. When debtors at the bottom of the chain of debt began to default on their house payments the reduced cash flow caused cash flows to reduce up the chain to such an extent that ultimately the fat cats atop JP Morgan Chase, and Bank America, and Goldman Sachs could not make timely payments on their loans; but, whereas, the poor house buyers at the bottom defaulting on their loans were foreclosed on, thereby losing their equity, the fat cats atop the big banks went to Washington and told the US federal government to give them a trillion or so digital dollars to stay in business, which the government did.
The problem is the rich and powerful have moral hazard on their side, whereas the weak and poor do not. The consequences of not rescuing the big banks entailed dysfunction and chaos in the entire economy, whereas not rescuing the weak and poor was relatively inconsequential for the entire economy. So the poor were ignored.
And that is pretty much the story worldwide. Strong and rich creditors have been bailed out with new loans and weak and poor debtor Greeks and others are left to suffer. Almost all the new EU money being loaned to Greece is being used to bail out banks and the government; almost none of it is being used to alleviate the suffering of the weak and poor.
Sovereign nations having their own currencies and central banks, unlike hapless Greece, can do what the US has done. They can just keystroke more digits into computers and call it money and spend it and loan it out. Bank balances pile up, people use the numbers in the bank balances to buy things like corporate stock, bonds, real estate, gold and silver, houses, vacations, groceries, college educations, retirement plans such as 401ks, or pay taxes, or whatever.
Right now, no matter how rich or poor you are, no matter where on Earth you live, there is a good chance you are going to be less rich before too long if you measure your wealth in monetary units. Most likely somewhere around Earth at some time, perhaps soon, something is going to cause a significant number of debtors to default on their loans, causing bigger fish up the chain of debt to also default on their loans and derivatives obligations, causing a serious lack of cash flow worldwide, known as a liquidity trap, causing the monetary valuation of everything to decrease, creating a serious deflation.
Greedy and needy borrowers and speculators will sell stock, bonds, real estate, gold, silver, or any asset class, attempting to make loan payments and margin calls, causing the monetary valuation of most if not all asset classes to go down, causing unemployment to go up, causing aggregate demand to plummet everywhere, causing a downward economic spiral into a possible abyss.
My wife and I are among the lucky ones; we have no debt, except for monthly credit card debt, which we pay off every month, incurring no interest charges. On the other hand, the monetary valuations of all our asset classes have already gone down, including the value of both our houses, both of which are fully paid for. How low they will sink remains to be seen. Three houses in our neighborhood have been on the market for several years with no takers. We have five acres of beautiful high land in the Tessenntee Valley with long-range panoramic views 14 miles from Franklin we have had on the market about five years, without a single offer. Macon County this year lowered the assessed value for our house and land for property taxes about 20 percent while increasing the millage rate. Hopefully we shall one day be able to sell our mountain property for something. The mountains around Franklin are beautiful. It’s a shame fewer and fewer people can afford to buy property there and enjoy them.
Sovereign governments with currencies can punch more digits into computers and call it money and use it to pay their employees and military personnel and give it to too big to fail banks and corporations to keep them operating, in the short run; but most likely they won’t do it for people, businesses and corporations without moral hazard, which includes most people. If they did it for everyone numbers denoting the valuation of assets and goods of all sorts would become meaningless as they exploded upward, creating a nightmare phenomenon known as hyperinflation.
John Maynard Keynes though deceased is probably still the smartest economist in the room when it comes to staving off and curing economic depressions, because of the published work he left behind, especially his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). As he pointed out in 1936 the least bad alternatives when capitalism stops working include increasing government spending on infrastructure projects, cutting taxes, lowering interest rates and printing money, to increase aggregate demand, which should increase retail sales, construction and manufacturing, increase investment and reduce unemployment. But if capitalism starts working again politicians and economic policy makers should eliminate budget deficits and reduce debt as soon as possible, to insure against bankruptcy and debt defaults and repudiations down the line.
In the meantime they have to sail a treacherous course between two monsters poised to attack on both sides of a narrow strait: the Scylla of runaway inflation and the Charybdis of runaway deflation.
Most of these alternatives have already been tried in the US since 2007. What has not been tried is using digital money to directly fund infrastructure projects to create employment in the domestic economy. Another thing that has not been tried is raising the tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich back to where they were before 1980, as President Roosevelt did during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and using the proceeds to fund infrastructure projects to directly create jobs for the unemployed in the domestic economy. These things were not tried in the US after 2007 because our illustrious Republican House of Representatives would not allow them to be tried. Almost all Republican politicians in Washington during this period had signed a spurious pledge concocted by a lobbyist never to raise federal taxes for any reason, an egregious abrogation of responsibility.
Keynes recommended using both monetary and fiscal policy to deal with the Great Depression of the 1930s. By and large the US government has used only monetary policy administered through the Federal Reserve to deal with whatever it was that hit in 2007, thanks to the Stone Age economic doctrines of mindless Republican politicians. Republicans have allowed one form of fiscal policy that should have been simulative, namely military spending; but even the tremendous military spending that began under Reagan has not done lower and middle class workers in the domestic economy much good. The US has created plenty of good military jobs since 1980 but nowhere near enough good jobs for non-college educated civilians.
Given where we are now, it seems to me a fair and rational thing for all governments to do would be to decree haircuts for creditors who loaned digital money to governments, corporations, other organizations and people who have no chance of making loan payments without enduring inhumane suffering, thereby reducing debts down to rational levels serviceable by debtors. This is desperately needed right now in places like Greece and Puerto Rico, and it may be desperately needed in many countries before too long, perhaps, even, in the US. If everything else has to be deflated why not loans?
Governments in capitalistic countries are loathe to do this, since politicians in capitalistic countries must serve the interests of the rich at the expense of the poor to get campaign money to get elected in the first place.
Whatever we are in now, a lull between two large recessions or a lull in the eye of a hurricane-like monster depression, when the winds hit again the potential economic destruction is greater than anything we have seen before, possibly threatening the existence of capitalism itself, as we have known it.
On the other hand, one can build the case capitalism, as we knew it, has already been destroyed by banksters, corrupt politicians, digital money and militarization.
On the bright side, if there is one, as painful as this would be, the coming economic destruction might make it possible for Earthians to start co-constructing an economic system that really works for all Earthians, finally eliminating chaotic and painful boom and bust economic cycles; homicidal, suicidal and genocidal wars; and economic injustices and ripoffs of all sorts.
See my article “Toward the Creation of Spaceship Earth Incorporated,” published in MWC News, Monday, 09 September 2013 at http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/31023-spaceship-earth-incorporated.html showing how this might come to pass.
Richard John Stapleton, PhD, is an emeritus professor of business policy, ethics and entrepreneurship at Georgia Southern University. He is the author of Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds (2008, 2010, 2011), 746 pages, at http://www.amazon.com/Richard-John-Stapleton/e/B001KHS3P6.
December 12, 2013
All Hands On Deck
The World Has Not Gone To Hell In A Handbasket—yet
This is the first All Hands On Deck meeting we have had on this Ship’s Log page since March 13, 2013. A good bit of water has gone under the bridge and we have made some headway. Obama got elected again in November 2012 and we have now sailed almost five years with his administration. He got us out of Iraq as promised, and, as I understand it we are pulling troops out of Afghanistan as promised, although not as many as promised, if our military and the Obama administration get what they now want, to leave US troops on the ground in Afghanistan until, would you believe, 2024, 11 more years. This is beginning to sound more like permanent occupation rather than war fighting and nation building to me. As I understand it the US now has military troops on the ground in about 100 countries, doing one thing or another. What would Earth do without the US military? Republican politicians want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid expenses, but they do not want to cut military expenses, because their sugar daddies in the military-industrial complex paying their political expenses do not want their sales of military hardware cut.
US troops were supposed to completely withdraw from Afghanistan after 2014, but after 14 years of fighting the Pentagon is now crawfishing on the deal. Apparently they are worried the Taliban will again take over as soon as they pull out. So now they have had John Kerry, US Secretary of State, craft some sort of Bilateral Agreement that would allow from six to twenty thousand US troops to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely after 2014, or at least until 2024, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign it, saying he wanted all US troops out as agreed after 2014. Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of Defense, says he is confident he can get Karzai to sign the Bilateral Agreement with the US and NATO, which would at least allow NATO to keep troops in Afghanistan after 2014, including no doubt US troops, as advisors. Meanwhile Karzai is getting friendly with Iran, worried about foreign presence in the region, and apparently has signed some sort of bilateral security agreement with Iran. This is not a pretty picture any way you look at it. Bush II got us in Afghanistan looking for Osama bin Laden, who was supposed to be hiding there. When we did not find him we should have got the hell out then. No country in history has ever been able conquer or cow down Afghanistan. How long will it take the Pentagon to figure it out they can’t either? Or is it they just plan to stay there forever trying?
The Obama administration got us through the Great Recession and the Banking Collapse of 2008 after the Federal Reserve pumped trillions of dollars of new money into the banking system, thus saving the hides of miscreant bankers and enriching them even more, thus keeping the economy afloat, but not creating many new jobs, especially good jobs paying a living wage. More and more Americans are now living on food stamps and working two or more part-time jobs to keep body and soul alive. About 20 percent of all US citizens now live in poverty. The official unemployment rate of the US, the percent of working age workers, starting at age 16, actively looking for a job, is now 7 percent. The actual unemployment rate, the percent of working age workers who would like to have a job, is probably about 25 percent. The percent of working age workers not working, counting housewives and househusbands, successful people who retired early, lucky children being reared in affluent homes who spend their after school hours doing homework and other things, and disabled people, is about 40 percent.
The OA (Obama Administration) oversaw the creation of a new banking reform law that did very little to reform the basic problems of the banking system. They should have restored the Glass-Steagall Act of the 1930s that forbade banks from using other people’s money to gamble in financial markets buying and selling stocks, bonds and other securities, such as collateralized debt obligations, and, especially, buying and selling weapons of mass financial destruction known as derivatives, the worst form of gambling yet devised by human beings. The world is now saddled with about $600 trillion of nominal derivatives contracts that could explode at any time. These people are betting with one another that any of them may not make their loan payments, principal and/or interest, at any time, having no assurance that any of them will have the ability to pay off their bets if they lose, knowing full well the whole house of cards will implode if most of them lose at one time. They place their bets in the first place to make it seem they have less risk of getting their money back on money they have loaned out, so they can then borrow more money to loan out, and buy or sell more derivative contracts to reduce this risk, and on and on, thereby stretching the actual collateral, i.e. skin in the game, in the system thinner and thinner, which is unfortunately necessary for banksters to earn bigger and bigger bonuses and get richer and richer.
Just today (November 10, 2013) I read US banking regulators intend to impose a new Volcker Rule on banks that will cut down on their gambling and force them to act more like real bankers. How long it will take to get this rule operative remains to be seen. Quite naturally the banksters are opposed to it and are fighting back.
US stock markets have reached new highs during the OA, and a good many people have made some money in the stock market, primarily the elite rich who did not need the money, thanks to the Federal Reserve pumping trillions into the system and keeping interest rates low, thereby enabling the OA to reduce the federal deficit. Interest rates have been the lowest in living memory enabling the federal government to sell its short-term bonds for almost nothing and its long-term bonds for less than 3 percent. The outstanding federal debt is now about $17.2 trillion. If the average interest rate the US treasury has to pay on this debt goes up to 5 percent, the federal interest expense will be about $850 billion per year, up from about $400 billion per year now, which will cause the budget deficit to go up again.
Needless to say, things are by no means financially sound now. How long will it be before we have the next financial crisis? Nobody knows.
In order to reduce systemic risk something should have been done to create jobs and help the real economy since 2007. This requires raising the after loophole effective tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich back to 1980 levels where our wisest and fairest ancestors set them, and borrowing and printing money to directly fund infrastructure jobs in transportation, green energy, education and the like, which thanks to a multiplier effect would create millions of jobs in the small business sector. Unfortunately all the stimulus money to date has been used to directly fund banks and large corporations run by rich banksters and CEOs. Republicans have righteously and steadfastly refused to allow these tax increases to happen to keep getting funding from their corporate and elite rich patrons.
The OA was able to get a health care reform act passed that will help some low income people and make some improvements to our overall healthcare system, however inadequate it is. Republicans have fought this tooth and nail to no avail. What we should have had was a single payer system, such as Medicare for all; maybe we will get it sooner or later. See my article “The Affordable Care Act—No Gain Without Pain” posted below in this column.
How good of a job has Obama done? Not as good as he said he would, but not nearly as bad as Republicans say he has. He has done a hell of lot better than Reagan and Bush II did, and I am convinced he has done much better than McCain or Romney would have. He has not done anything totally stupid like bombing Iraq or getting caught fooling around with a Monica Lewinsky. Despite Clinton getting caught with his pants down he and Al Gore cut federal expenses and eliminated the federal budget deficit, producing a $200 billion per year surplus by the time they left office. Bush II, in my opinion the worst president in US history, turned the Clinton-Gore budget surplus into a $1 trillion budget deficit in short order. I vividly remember talking with a colleague in my GA SO Univ office, who happened to be a retired Army lt. colonel, who had taught at West Point, who seemed to think the war bombing Iraq fine if that was what “they” decided to do, right before Bush II started bombing Iraq, and me telling him if they did it the budget surplus would be totally wiped out.
Unfortunately, I hit the nail right on the head. The budget surplus was wiped out, setting in motion one of the worst economic episodes in US history. I still can’t believe the US federal government was dumb enough to do that, or that our system would give someone as unethical and irresponsible as Bush II the power to make this sort of decision. Bush II, to use his assumed Texas vernacular, did a heckuva job snatching decline from the jaws of economic success. And it’s been downhill ever since.
Obama’s biggest downfalls in my opinion have also been caused by military problems, not closing down Guantanamo, detaining terrorist suspects indefinitely, and spying on everyone with electronic surveillance. Drones, as terrible as they are, it seems to me might be justifiable dealing with some hardcore terrorists. I think Obama ought to get us out of Afghanistan in 2014 as he said he would. I think we have had enough unnecessary militarization.
Obama’s approval rating has fallen to about 40 percent from his high of about 75 percent; but he has some way to go before he sinks as low as Bush II, 25 percent, who sunk from a high of about 90 percent.
Since retiring at GA SO Univ in 2005 I have published two books and several articles, and I decided to post them on this Ship’s Log page in annotated form with links to the actual articles in the media in which they were published. To read any of the books or articles all you have to do is click on the link. Most professors do something to stay productive after they retire from teaching. Some get involved with civic clubs and the like, some volunteer with community groups such as Habitat for Humanity doing things like helping build free houses for poor people or sell used goods in Habitat stores to help poor people; some join breakfast clubs or lunch groups that regularly meet; some do pro bono consulting; some continue to do research and writing. Most do something to “give back”. In my case I have tried to give back by doing something to help make the world a better place through research, writing and publishing, however quixotic or grandiose this notion might be. Following are some jousts at windmills since 2005.
Quite a few of my Facebook friends and fellow writers have decided while Democrats are definitely better or less harmful than Republicans in Washington, both parties are addicted to corporate and elite rich campaign financing and both parties must please the rich at the expense of we the people. Some of us think the best remedy would be to vote all sitting politicians out of office ASAP. In my opinion if you were to randomly select educated intelligent US citizens off the streets, who had no desire to be a politician, and send them to Washington to replace all senators and representatives the US government would improve overnight, since these citizens could use their common sense to vote for the right thing for we the people. Most government problems are not that complicated. The problem is obvious solutions cannot be implemented because of vested interests. Therefore you have to put in office people with no vested interests to bring about significant change. See various posts substantiating this conclusion and suggesting ideas for how to do it on my Facebook page at
Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds
Published by Effective Learning Publications, Statesboro, Georgia, 2008, 2010, 2011, 754 pages, a business bible for people who want to do the right thing in business for all Earthians. Contains concepts, cases and exercises useful for anyone trying to make sense out of today’s business world and how to adjust to, cope with and solve business problems. A major premise of the book is that capitalism must be competently regulated by governments to provide efficiency, effectiveness and fairness for all stakeholders. On the other hand, some individuals can create their own business worlds by owning and operating their own businesses while charting unique business voyages, becoming some of the freest of all Earthians. The book provides insights useful for anyone managing his or her personal estate and retirement funds, presenting a chapter on family business, showing problems and issues encountered by family members who choose to work in family businesses for a career, and problems encountered when the time comes to will the family business and wealth to children. The book contains some of the ideas of Buckminster Fuller who invented the word Earthian.
Available in paperback, hardback or ebook at the following link, or at any brick and mortar bookstore or Internet book seller.
Recommendations for Waking Up From the American Nightmare
Published by Effective Learning Publications, Statesboro, Georgia, 2012, an eBook, 186 equivalent print pages. An analysis of what went wrong with the US economy after 1970 and what should be done to put it back on track.
July 25, 2011, Published in the Macon (Georgia) Telegraph
The US Budget Deficit and Federal Debt, What to Do?
“I watched and listened in amazement (almost in shock) with millions of others July 22 as the president of the United States explained how his debt and deficit negotiations with the speaker of the House of Representatives came to a halt with nothing accomplished.”
This article set the stage for the spectacle we witnessed this year in the fall of 2013 in the latest budget standoff between the president of the US and the US speaker of the House, with petulant juvenile tea partiers in the House causing a government shutdown costing billions of dollars.
Read the rest of this article published on this column on this Ship’s Log webpage, several posts down this page.
June 27, 2012, Intrepid Report
Voting: Duty, Privilege or Right?
Some voters primarily see voting as a duty and encourage increased voter turnout for all, while others consider voting to be a privilege and try to suppress the votes of the opposition. With their government now controlled by corporations and the wealthy elite, many voters are questioning why voting is not one of the rights guaranteed by the US Constitution, while others believe the best way to preserve their self-respect is not to vote at all.
October 22, 2012, Intrepid Report
Comprehending the US Presidential Debates
I had thought up to this point in the debates Obama was winning handily. On the other hand I was afraid Romney had won this one. It appeared Romney was winning in the minds of voters by spinning plausible-sounding stories on the fly, throwing them at his opponent in a flurry of jabs, as if fighting in a championship boxing match, landing damaging body blows with zeal and moral force, with the relish and excitement of Elmer Gantry. But, alas, he did not win the election.
December 7, 2012, Intrepid Report
A Christmas Story About the US Fiscal Cliff
This article is based on a story in the Statesboro Herald about the fiscal cliff (December 4, 2012). It summarizes some the “negotiating” so far, with, to channel and paraphrase Republican Senator Everett Dirkson back in the 1960s, a trillion here and a trillion there being bandied about as if Boehner and Obama were dickering about buying and selling a house. The article includes photos of Boehner and Obama juxtaposed on page 1 as if they were talking to one another. I was tired already hearing about this fiscal cliff nonsense, as if politicians were talking about real negotiations. Their positions had been clear for some time and nothing was going to change. This was a Christmas story with no cheer or presents, with Scrooges acting as if they were heroes.
December 18, 2012, Intrepid Report
Let’s not Fiddle while Rome Burns
I reported in this article the problem Obama was again having getting a budget passed dealing with John Boehner and his band of know nothing tea party Grinches in the House, who were determined to make the poor suffer if their rich Scrooge-like sugar daddies in the upper class had to pay a penny more in taxes, shamelessly violating, so they seemed to think, the gift their Santa Claus lobbyist, Grover Norquist, gave to them to sign on a snowy night before their cheery fireplaces, a pledge never to increase the taxes of the elite rich for any reason, to receive wonderful Christmas presents from the elite rich every Christmas.
January 17, 2013, Intrepid Report
A Democratic Town Hall Meeting in the Deep South
I attended this meeting in Statesboro, Georgia conducted by Congressman John Barrow, the only remaining white Democratic US Representative from any of the Republican red states, made possible apparently by his voting like a Republican. In this meeting he said he was opposed to a ban on assault weapons and he said he voted against Obamacare, although now that it was the law of the land he wanted to keep parts of it, and would not vote to get rid of it. He praised Ronald Reagan for his tax policies. I argued against this, saying Reagan was one of the worst presidents in US history, adding twice as much debt to the total debt in eight years than all previous presidents had added in US history. The meeting started with guns and ended with guns.
February 1, 2013, Intrepid Report
Would it Be Fair to Restore the Tax Rates of Big Business and the Rich Back to Their 1980 Levels?
Yes, without a doubt. Our wisest and fairest ancestors had it right. We had no problems creating jobs and middle class incomes when the maximum effective tax rate for the rich was 80 percent. This had been the case for decades before the happy go lucky right wing movie star Ronald Reagan rode into Washington from Hollywood and started lowering tax rates for his buddies and cronies, to be followed twenty years later by the arrogant blockhead George Bush the second. One can build the case restoring the after loophole effective tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich back to their 1980 levels is vitally necessary if our country is ever to produce satisfactory lives for all its citizens. The inequality we have now can only produce more and more misery, frustration and dissatisfaction among lower and middle class citizens. The upper class must once again pay its fair share of the infrastructure costs of the US based on proportions. Citizens should be taxed to maintain the system in proportion to how much they benefit from the system.
February 8, 2013, Intrepid Report
The Gramm-Leach-Biley Act, The Most Disastrous Economic Act of the 20th Century
This is the act that replaced the Glass-Steagall Act of the 1930s that more than anything caused the Great Recession of 2007. Glass-Steagall forbade banks from acting like gambling houses using stockholder money to buy and sell stocks, securities such as collateralized debt obligations, and weapons of financial destruction such as derivatives. The Gramm-Leach-Biley Act was passed at the end of the Clinton Administration and was approved by Clinton. The Act unleashed hungry bankers and traders working for them like packs of starving hounds on the scent of pots of gold in the form of bonuses earned for making short run profits through almost any financial scheme imaginable. The most disastrous new products these banksters sold were home mortgages bundled together in packages which were sold from bank to bank with little attention paid to the credit worthiness of individual mortgages in the package, and derivatives, especially credit default swaps, which enable banks to leverage their capital more and more, which enabled lucky gamblers to log large short run profit and collect a bonus, regardless of whether the deal blew up later. Well, a lot of deals blew up and big banks had to be rescued with infusions of trillions of taxpayer money to prevent the whole banking system from collapsing. The new finance reform bill Congress passed and Obama has signed did little to prevent this same thing from happening again. The greedy hounds are still chasing profits from derivatives and securities. Bankers should be bankers like they were before the Clinton era, making money the old fashioned way, and loaning money to credit worthy borrowers for sensible reasons. Bring back Glass-Steagall ASAP.
May 10, 2013, Intrepid Report
Jim DeMint—America’s Number One Chief Executive Mouthpiece
DeMint gave up his senate seat to take over the Heritage Foundation at a salary of $1 million per year. This is quite a salary for telling Republican fairy tales.
April 3, 2013, Intrepid Report
Why the US Supreme Court Should Legalize LGBT Marriages
This should be done because it is the right thing to do, promoting fairness and equality of opportunity. No one can help being what he or she is. Sexual orientations are implanted and introjected into humans in the womb and shortly thereafter in early childhood by genes and messages of various sorts, some messages being transmitted electro-chemically in the womb and some being transmitted from various sources in the environment, especially from the earliest caregivers. Once a person is wired up with an orientation producing sexual satisfaction in a certain way it rarely changes. There are actually many more orientations and satisfactions than straight and LGBT. None are morally superior to the others due to the way they were fixed in individuals. Whether LGBT marriages would produce more problems for individuals and society than straight marriages remains to be seen, as most straight people who have been through divorces with children can tell you.
April 23, 2013, Intrepid Report
The Greater the Power, The Greater the Greed
One can build the case all individuals, groups, organizations and countries are greedy and power hungry, causing much of the world’s current problems. I made a C in a Comparative Economic Systems course as an undergraduate because of not learning the assigned reading for communism and socialism. The professor asked me why I was not learning the material. I told him I did not want to, that I believed in free enterprise and capitalism. He said, well, you should learn what these people have to say even if you do not believe it. Now with 53 years’ experience it seems to me no economic system works, including capitalism and communism. Power hungry cronies at the top will selfishly appropriate all the power, prestige and money they can get their hands on regardless of what kind of economic system they purport to be using. China’s communist ruling elite is now just as corrupt as our capitalist ruling elite. I think the computer is about all that can save us. Be sure and read my essay “Toward the Creation of Spaceship Earth,” in this series explaining in detail how the computer and computer programmers can save us from our selfishness and greed.
July 11, 2013, Intrepid Report
My Evolution in the Deep South of the United States
As I documented with Census Data in my book Business Voyages several generations of my family on both sides were slave owners, not something to be proud of, kept secret from me all my life. My oldest-traced direct ancestor is Stephen Stapleton who farmed in Marlboro County, South Carolina in 1800, his ancestors supposedly having lived in Virginia in the 1600s. Some of his relatives later moved down into Long County in Georgia. He had a son named Ludowic, one of my direct grandfathers. My US ancestors moved west from Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia to Alabama to Mississippi to Texas and finally to New Mexico, where the music stopped, every few generations as the fertility of their farm land played out or they bred too many children to support with the land they had. They did not have easy lives, and many were short. My grandfathers seemingly believed in breeding many children, six or more each generally, to produce their own cheap labor supply for their farms. I had one relative, Matthew Fontaine Maury, who was a commodore in the Confederate Navy and another relative, Dabney Herndon Maury, who was a general in the Confederate Army. My great great grandfather, Thomas Sanford Gathright, the first president of Texas A & M, was a Confederate draft dodger who opposed the South’s seceding from the Union.
July 2, 2013, Intrepid Report
Is Modern Technology Rendering Our Institutions Obsolete? Watch Out For Big Brother and Little Brother
One of my favorite economics professors put this question on a test when I was a senior at Texas Tech majoring in economics. I confessed I had never read anything about this but it seemed to me it was not because institutions evolved to satisfy human needs and since those needs had not changed institutions would not become obsolete. He liked the answer and gave me an A on the test. With benefit of 53 years’ experience I’m not sure my 1961 answer is still right. Computers with mice as input devices, the Internet, and social media had not evolved then. There wasn’t near as much difference in a tractor and a horse as there is between a modern computer hooked to the Internet and a typewriter. Who could have imagined a Drone, an unmanned aircraft that can shoot people on the ground with precision by someone sitting in a swivel chair clicking on a computer mouse a thousand miles away as if playing a computer game? Who could have imagined the US government being able to watch people by downloading their cell phone and Internet records? Who could have imagined individuals being able to take pictures with their cell phones and instantly transmit them to others on the Internet? We may have now reached the point where our institutions must change because of technology if human life as we have known it is to continue.
August 8, 2013, Intrepid Report
Are Northwest Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma in Another Dust Bowl?
This article was stimulated by “Dust Bowl Blues,” by Sasha Abramsky in The Nation Magazine, one of the most depressing articles I have read in a long time. I grew up in Northwest Texas in the 1940s, ten years after the Dust Bowl Days of the 1930s, hard times that caused my father to graduate from high school at age 20, having had to drop out of high school for two years to cut firewood to help support his family. Abramsky interviewed people for her article I played basketball against that now farm within 40 miles of where I grew up and they are again in hard times, having had a drought lasting three years, and the sandstorms are getting worse. I covered this in my book Business Voyages and used a quote from a section on the causes of the Dust Bowl on several Plains states in this article. Back then they did not have to worry about the possibilities of global warming and systemic climate change.
August 13, 2013, Intrepid Report
Have Republicans no shame or sense of shame?
In a “fair and balanced” mainstream media article the author told us Georgia Republican legislators were considering doing away with the state income tax and replacing it with a higher sales tax, perhaps a 14 percent state sales tax, which is the last thing the state should do now in hard times when jobs are scarce. This would harm the small business sector by decreasing aggregate demand by reducing the disposable income of poor people who spend all their incomes and increasing the disposable income of rich people who would not spend the money they saved on taxes.
August 29, 2013, Intrepid Report
Moving farther west to escape problems at home is no longer an option
There is no more raw land to expropriate from Natives, no simple options for growth through agriculture and territorial expansion. Earthians have got to learn how to work smarter and wiser to find satisfying lifestyles.
October 24, 2013, Intrepid Report
November 22, 1963—the day America started dying
The day JFK was assassinated America began a long turn to the right, less concern for all people, more concern for the rich and powerful, that continues to this day.
November 18, 2013, Intrepid Report
The Affordable Care Act—No Gain Without Pain
The article discusses causes of problems implementing the Affordable Care Act, taking the view the act is imperfect but better than nothing resulting hopefully in creating a greater good for a greater number. It remains to be seen where President Obama can convince more Republican red state governors to expand Medicaid so more people can be helped.
Posted November 20, 2013, Intrepid Report
The CBS whitewash of the JFK assassination
In a CBS program the moderator stated with certainty that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK. This article asserts there is no certainty regarding the matter and the program distorted the truth of the matter.
September 9, 2013, Posted by MWC News (Media With Conscience)
Toward the Creation of Spaceship Earth Incorporated
Probably the best essay I have written, this is my take on the long run solution for the Earthian problem, entailing the use of linear programming to schedule, produce and distribute the necessities of life, new belief systems, and the reduction of the human population through better family planning policies.
November 20, 2013, Bella Ciao
Truth in the Real World—The JFK Assassination
The JFK case is not so different epistemologically from most business cases. Almost never does one know with certainty the answer to real world cases. The truth is the JFK case shall probably remain probabilistic forever. I estimate the probability JFK was killed by a conspiracy of some sort to the as high as .80 and the probability he was killed by a lone nut, Oswald, is as low as .20.
December 13, 2013, Facebook
To the Stapleton Gallery of Folk History and Conversation
Home of the FFPP
The Freedom, Fairness and Progress Party
Join now! Here’s how!
From a passage embarking on page 645 of Business Voyages, a business bible for people who want to do the right thing for all people:
“I am not a Democrat, or a Liberal, and for sure I am not a Republican, or a Conservative. I am a member of the FFPP party, my own creation, the Freedom, Fairness, and Progress Party. If you would like to join this party, send no money, but act in such a way as to encourage all people to act in a truly free, fair, and progressive manner. Most Democratic congress people seem about as devoid of workable solutions for real problems in today’s world as Reagan and Bush II, although I will say I think Democratic politicians in Washington in general have been more Christian-like than Republican politicians in Washington since 1980. At least they did not take from the poor and give to the rich. Most Republican and Democratic politicians have done little in the last 25 years but slavishly vote for their party line, as they were told by their party bosses, to conserve their chances of getting help from their party bosses in their next election.”
Vote the rascals out ASAP and replace them with free, fair, responsible, progressive members of the FFPP, who want to do the right thing for all people.
December 13, 2013, Facebook
Georgia Republican Fantasies and Wishes May be Harmful to Your Financial Health
The Georgia Republican governor and legislators and Chambers of Commerce pride themselves on being conservative and pro business; but how good are they at actually doing business for we the people of Georgia?—Richard John Stapleton
December 10, 2013, Facebook
Bernie Sanders for President, 2016
“It is incomprehensible to me that the Republicans continue to protect huge corporate loopholes that benefit some of the largest and most profitable corporations in America. This obviously is not the budget I would have written.”—Bernie Sanders
December 10, 2013, Facebook
Ego as Opiate for Disease of Humanness … Turns Flaws Into Supreme Accomplishments, Wrong-Gettedness: The Sixth Prasad from the Planetmates (updated)—Michael Adzema
“Another iconoclastic prasad from SillyMichel Adzema. In this one he tells us humans our major problem is we were born too quickly, after only nine months of gestation, which was required to exit our wombs given our relatively large heads, which were necessary to contain our large brains, which will later enable us to think abstractly and use complex language and symbols to communicate and create things, which unfortunately leads to the creation of our “egos”, causing us to become arrogant and aberrant in the world of nature, unlike the development process of all other species of fauna, causing us to develop superiority complexes to compensate for our innate feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, caused by being born helpless, causing us to inflict our egoistic constructions on others, thus compounding the problem, causing us to become even more separated from nature, causing us to become increasingly addicted to egoistic constructions, necessary to stave off depression and despair, originally caused by our hasty gestations. Ego thus becomes the ultimate opiate of the people producing euphoric highs necessary to enable us to tolerate the carnage and wreckage going on and piling up around us in our environment as an inevitable consequence of our ego addictions.”—Richard John Stapleton
December 6, 2013, Facebook
Take Me To Your Leader
“I am doing what I can to address the destruction of democracy in America. ______ Without taking back our government, nothing will change.
“It’s an electoral strategy called ‘Throw the bums out!’”—John D Rachel
September 14, 2013, Facebook
Georgia Republican Brags About Sabotaging Obamacare as Governor Gets Paid by Health Care Industry
“The problem is Obamacare. We’ve got to now determine what we can do to solve that problem. Let me tell you what we are doing; everything in our power to be an obstructionist. You probably have heard about the exchanges. Well exchanges are coming to Georgia, but the state is not setting them up. The federal government is going to set them up. But we have passed a law and with the help of Senator McCoon and others, we have passed a law that says that a navigator, which is a position in that exchange, has to be licensed by our Department of Insurance. The Obamacare law says that we cannot require them to be an insurance agent, so we said fine, we’ll just require them to be a licensed navigator. So we’re going to make up the test, and basically you take the insurance agent test, you erase the name, you write ‘navigator test’ on it.”—Ralph Hudgens, Georgia Insurance Commissioner
March 8, 2013
Would It Be Fair To Restore The Tax Rates Of Large Corporations And The Elite Rich Back To Their 1980 Levels?
I attended a Town Hall meeting January 10, 2013 in Statesboro, Georgia, conducted by our US Representative John Barrow, the only white Democratic US Representative left in the deep red southern states of America. Barrow is a blue dog Democrat who talks and votes like a Republican.
Someone asked him what he thought about the federal debt. He said the best thing to do was lower taxes even more and raise revenue by closing loopholes while cutting expenses.
Interrupting him as he attempted to move on to another topic, I strongly asserted my disagreement with this, arguing there was no way Congress could close loopholes any time soon; and the best way to raise revenue to create jobs ASAP was to raise taxes on large corporations and the elite rich back to where they were in 1980.
Barrow then proceeded to tell his assemblage Ronald Reagan proved cutting taxes produced growth and there was no need to increase the taxes of the rich, asserting that was unfair. I asked him how did he know taxes were not fair in 1980 before Reagan lowered them? Before he could answer someone said flat taxes were the answer. Barrow responded he believed in progressive taxes. What were progressive taxes she wanted to know? Barrow attempted to define them. Why is that fair he wanted to know? Why not tax everybody the same? Why is it forty percent of all Americans pay no tax at all? Barrow said many of them were on social security, etc.
Reasserting my argument about raising taxes for large corporations and the elite rich, I said Ronald Reagan had tripled the federal debt during his eight years in office, proving his tax policies did not work. Barrow said Reagan proved the Laffer Curve did not work but he proved during his second term that cutting taxes created growth. Ignoring his argument for growth that ignored my argument about debt, I said, “You mean you think all that debt increase during the Reagan administration was due to spending?”
Looking perplexed, Barrow did not say anything, but someone sitting in the back of the room, sporting a black goatee, apparently a fact checker or verifier of some sort, said Reagan’s spending resulted in debt as a percent of GNP better than most. Ignoring this, raising my voice, I said, “Based on debt accumulation relative to starting debt Ronald Reagan was the worst president we ever had.”
Then I saw I had struck a nerve in the assemblage, apparently Reagan was some sort of demigod to many of these people, and their shocked expressions, beady-eyed glares and clenched jaws told me I was treading on thin ice.
In retrospect, it seems the rebuttal to me from the goateed gentleman about Reagan’s debt as a percent of GNP was a red herring, but somewhat relevant. Although I had no opportunity to rebut this directly in the Town Hall meeting with the following information, not in fact remembering the details until I looked them up with a Google Internet search writing this article, the truth is Reagan’s debt to GNP ratio was low relative to most presidents that followed him, since it was so low to start with when he took office, but he increased the debt to GNP ratio more than most presidents, from about 26 percent to about 41 percent over eight years, meaning that while he did create growth, he did not increase GNP significantly relative to his outlandish spending increase. I suppose you could say Reagan was one of the most Keynesian presidents we ever had but his success creating growth was very expensive.
Here is what I wish I could have said in the Town Hall meeting.
The US total federal debt remained about the same, around $2 trillion, from 1945 to Ronald Reagan’s time in 1980, when it significantly increased, from about $2 trillion to about $5.5 trillion over eight years. The debt increased more slowly under Bush I, about another trillion in four years; and Clinton-Gore balanced the budget and reduced the debt in 1999, the only administration to do so since 1980. The debt then resumed its upward climb at an accelerating pace under Bush II, about $5 trillion in eight years, and under Obama, about $5.5 trillion in four years. The total debt is now about $16.4 trillion and the yearly deficit is about $1 trillion.
Standard Keynesian doctrine says to get out of a depression a country should use both monetary and fiscal policy to stimulate economic growth, necessitating lower interest rates, increased government spending, decreased taxes, and money printing. Well, interest rates in the US for some time have been about as low as they can go, government spending has been elevated for decades, starting with Reagan in 1981, tax rates were lowered dramatically for large corporations and the elite rich by Reagan and Bush II, trillions of dollars have been printed by the Federal Reserve. And here we are today still not stimulated back to full employment.
Although Keynes did not say this to my knowledge, it seems to me common sense would tell you raising tax rates for large corporations and the elite rich back to 1980 levels in these times under these conditions will not significantly decrease aggregate demand in the domestic economy, thereby significantly restricting or reducing growth in GNP, since the elite rich have so much money they can buy all the consumer goods they need and might want if their taxes are raised by what would be a minuscule percentage of their disposable funds; and raising the tax rates of large corporations will not cause them to invest significantly less for new plant and equipment in the US since aggregate demand is already too low in the consumer economy to produce sales for products produced by new investment.
Large US corporations faced with an absence of profit-engendering aggregate demand never have and never will knowingly produce unsellable products to produce jobs.
Therefore, raising the taxes of the elite rich and large corporations, without decreasing spending, to fund infrastructure jobs is the best option for significantly stimulating the US economy ASAP to get us out of our depression-like economic conditions. By some estimates some 20 percent of the potential US labor force, 30 or so million people, are unemployed, counting the long-term unemployed who have given up looking for jobs.
Another option, probably what shall happen, is not to raise the tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich back to 1980 levels but to continue to borrow and print money, without significantly cutting defense or welfare spending, allowing the debt to continue its rapid climb, which might create growth like Reagan did and increase employment, in the short run, especially if the Federal Reserve were to start handing out printed money directly to contractors to construct high speed rail lines and restore decrepit highways and bridges in the US, instead of starting wars like Bush II did in Afghanistan and Iraq, and instead of handing out trillions to busted bankers, credit default gamblers and manufacturers as Obama was required to do; but common sense would tell you more jobs in the US would be created and less debt would accumulate if real money paid in taxes by the elite rich and large corporations was added to the borrowed and printed money requisite for creating infrastructure projects to restore full employment.
Admittedly, it’s debatable whether raising the tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich back to 1980 levels is fair. I argue it is fair since large corporations and the elite rich would be giving back the tax savings they were unfairly granted by Reagan after 1980 and Bush II after 2000. On the other hand, most Republicans, and some Democrats, would argue our ancestors had unfairly set the tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich too high before 1980, and Ronald Reagan, and Bush II, in their wisdom, fairly lowered them to where they should have been all along, correcting the mistakes of our ancestors.
Who knows how much better off we would be now had Ronald Reagan not started our tax cutting, spending and debt accumulating binge in 1981, and had Bush II not started two unnecessary wars, while cutting taxes for the elite rich and large corporations even more after 2000.
Yesterday, January 15, 2013, on the 6 o’clock PBS Evening News, Governor Jerry Brown of California told the world they had solved California’s budget problem, after Californians passed with referendum votes new laws raising the state taxes of the elite rich and eliminating tax loopholes for corporations. Brown said 54 percent of Californians voted for this.
If only the federal budget deficit were so easy to theoretically fix. If only we could have a federal referendum for all US voters to vote for national equivalents of California’s Propositions 30 and 39.
I argue we would find in a national referendum this proposition is true: More than 50 percent of US voters think it would be fair to restore the tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich back to their 1980 levels.
How about Jerry Brown for US president in 2016?
What Good Are Business Schools?
Having been bred and born to spend my days slaving in business in Texas, I decided to major in business in college, taking a bachelor’s degree in economics from Texas Tech in 1962. I went back to my hometown, Wolfforth, ten miles from Lubbock, home of Texas Tech to work for my parents. My father told me he was glad I had a college degree, since it proved he was smart enough to get one himself, and it kept me off the streets for four years while I matured. He said I should now forget everything I learned in college, that I would now have to learn about business “from the ground up“ working for him.
I worked for him about three weeks in June before we had a major blowup, at which time I left for Dallas. I decided to go to law school, having been accepted at SMU and UT. Back home in September, after working as an office manager at a brick and tile company for two months, our relations having improved, my parents convinced me not to go to law school and work for them instead, taking the place of one of their employees who got mad and quit. I gave family business another try; but we had another blowup after about three weeks, at which time I told my father I was through working for him for good.
I paid my own way from then on except for two $1000 loans from him and my mother that I paid back with interest when I was in my twenties. Forty some odd years later after they died they willed the remainder of their estate equally to my younger brother and me.
I always thought my father was a slave driver, forcing me to get up early in the morning to work for him during summers and on Saturdays, starting about age 8, for wages. He was a farmer after I was born in 1940 but he sold the farm and became a contractor building houses and anything else he could contract for, such as a fence surrounding a nearby air base, later branching out into lumber and hardware retailing, natural gas pipelining, banking and ranching. I grew up his chief flunky, doing a little of anything he was up to at the time. He even found jobs for me to do when he started a bank with his partners, the Wolfforth State Bank, the first bank in the town’s history, when I was 21, telling me to help install counters and such, since he was the contractor for the bank building. He had the title inactive vice president when the bank opened for business, outranking all other directors and stockholders, and the active president.
My father Richard Gathright Maury Stapleton had also been bred and born for business taking to it much better than I. I traced his Stapleton line last year on the Internet to Stephen Stapleton in Marlboro County in northeast South Carolina in 1800 where the lineage search ended, with an article asserting Stephen’s ancestors came to Virginia in the 1600s from northern England. I found numerous Stapleton sirs and lords in England on the Internet, including a Brian de Stapleton in northern England that signed Magna Carta in 1215.
American Stapletons starting with Stephen Stapleton according to the article were relatively wealthy, using the surest strategy for getting richer at the time in the southern part of North America: Take over and own lots of land and slaves growing crops to export as raw material for English factories and shops.
Every two or three generations my Stapleton ancestors in America, who produced large families, sometimes 10 or more children, would move farther west to tend new more fertile land recently swindled or taken from Native Americans, to Alabama, to Mississippi, to Texas, to New Mexico. My father’s father, who sired seven children, only one of whom died in childhood, producing cooks and maids, farm hands, carpenters and cowboys to work on his land, in the 1920s owned and ran a 10,000-acre ranch near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, “The Old Bear Ranch,” which he lost in the Great Depression of the 1930s. My father’s mother during their Old Bear Ranch days would sometimes be gone for days at a time traveling for miles around, serving as a midwife. My grandfather burned a Spear-X brand on cattle and horses on the Old Bear Ranch, which my father registered and used on his 1000-acre ranch near Eastland, Texas in 1965, which he called the Spear-X.
A branch of Stapletons related to Stephen Stapleton went south from South Carolina into southeast Georgia, to Long County, possibly founding the town of Ludowici, about sixty miles from where I live now near University Park, a golf course owned by Georgia Southern University six miles from Statesboro, Georgia. Stephen Stapleton had a grandson named Lodowick from whom I am descended.
I mostly took after my mother’s side of the family. They were lazier than my father’s side. My mother’s father was much less active than my father, who did little but work all his life. My grandmother told me her Coston husband and his four brothers never did a day’s work in their lives: “All they ever did was sit up on the front porch and read.” Freed slaves did the work on the Coston farm in East Texas, near a place called Honey Grove, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas, after the Civil War. Reading on the porch however paid off in a way. One of them became a lawyer and judge, another a college professor, another a school superintendant, and my grandfather became a preacher. My grandfather and three brothers disclaimed their inheritances so a brother who wanted to farm would inherit the whole farm. My grandfather generally suppressed or shut off conversation about his ancestors and the above is about all I know about them. I asked him about them one time and all he said was “If you go back far enough you will always find a horse theif.”
On the other hand, my father’s father’s ancestors kept a family tree with names an dates going back to Lodowick and his mother’s ancestors kept one going back six generations. Some of my father’s mother’s people were readers with a literary bent. One of his great grandparents on his mother’s side, Thomas Sanford Gathright, who did not have a college degree, was a professor and the first president of Texas A & M. An uncle Richard Gathright Maury was a well-known lawyer in Houston in 1912, a public prosecutor who once sued John D. Rockefeller for violating Texas anti-trust laws with his Standard Oil of New Jersey, home schooled on a plantation in Mississippi. He became a lawyer reading law with a law firm, never attending a law school. A distant relative on my father’s mother’s side Matthew Fontaine Maury published books on navigation and became a professor of physics at the Virginia Military Academy without a college degree after serving as a commodore in the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. Back in those days you didn’t have to go to school if you could read and teach yourself and act like you knew what you were talking about using what you read. Consider Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Lincoln became a lawyer and US president with only a third grade education, and Frederick Douglas, a former slave, after teaching himself to read became a famous author, speaker and politician. Mark Twain dropped out of school when he was 13 years old.
After emancipating myself from my father in the fall of 1962 it dawned on me that working my way through law school in Dallas or Austin would not be an easy task. Federal school loans were almost non-existent in those days, and I had saved only a few hundred dollars during my summer work in Dallas. So I took a job weighing cotton at a local cotton gin in Wolfforth for the fall. During the spring of 1963 I started a weekly newspaper, the Wolfforth-Frenship Gazette, and a fire and casualty insurance, real estate, and mortgage loan business, Rick Stapleton Agency, which I operated for two years, at which time I decided to sell out and see the world, first taking a job with Litton Industries in Lubbock as a production control dispatcher and expediter in their electronics assembly plant, which I worked at for 7 months.
They said I didn’t move fast enough from job to job and I was too sensitive to the needs of people for production control work; but the real reason they fired me was more complicated. The biggest problem was I was not a good employee. I argued with my wimp supervisor who had come with Litton to Lubbock from UCLA about how to treat assembly workers on the plant floor to get more work out of them and about how to do my job; and I played chess to win during the lunch hour in the cafeteria against higher-up managers and engineers. I played an engineer who was probably the best chess players in the plant, who had played chess in Europe, to a draw on the very day they fired me. They thought hourly dispatchers and expediters at the lowest level of management weren’t supposed to seriously contest their bosses.
Having been involuntarily emancipated from my servitude at Litton Industries, having saved some money working there, counting what I had sold my businesses for, I embarked on an MBA degree at Texas Tech University, majoring in organizational behavior at age 25, having decided the key to success in business was ass-kissing and brown-nosing. After I had been in the MBA program for a few courses the coordinator of the management area said one day in class he was looking for some warm bodies to serve as his graduate assistants, and would any of us like to apply. I said I would and he took me on. At the end of my MBA studies he recommended me to the economics department to teach two courses of ECO 133, American Economic History, a sophomore weed-out course required for all business majors, every fall and spring semester, as a part-time instructor in economics, at a salary of $3000 for nine months, so I could work on a doctorate in business administration. I majored in management science and minored in economics at the doctoral level, receiving a doctorate in business administration in three years in 1969. The management coordinator also suggested I send in a grant proposal for funding for my doctoral dissertation to the Department of Labor in 1967, which I did, resulting in receiving a $6500 grant for my doctoral research, An Analysis of Rural Manpower Migration Patterns in the South Plains Region of Texas, published by the Department of Labor in the National Technical Information Service in 1969.
I left Texas Tech in 1969 with my doctor’s degree for the University of Southwestern Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana, where I had been recruited as an associate professor of management, skipping the assistant professor level, by two professors who had Harvard Business School DBA degrees. They taught me how to use the case method, which they required in all their management courses. I left USL after one year, primarily because of culture shock living in South Louisiana. A fellow doctoral student from Texas Tech called me one morning in Lafayette and said he had heard I was not happy there and why didn’t I come to Georgia Southern College (now university) where he had gone when he graduated from Tech. I went there in July of 1970 and stayed there for a career, retiring in 2005 as a full professor of business policy, ethics and entrepreneurship and director of a Small Business Institute.
I had no regrets about leaving Northwest Texas, especially the sandstorms. I never did fit the Texas mold and I always thought the dry arid place was boring and uninteresting. I liked mountains and streams with good fishing and hiking. Almost no one out there appreciated my critical thinking skills, except for a few professors at Texas Tech, whom I held in high esteem, who taught me a great deal, for which I am grateful. I understand Texas legislators in the last few years have seriously considered outlawing the teaching of critical thinking skills in Texas public schools, being convinced they need to teach students to be docile and obedient, so the state probably got even worse after I left in 1969. Texans have elected the dumbest governor, Rick Perry, and the looniest US senator, Ted Cruz, I ever heard of, both, of course, Republicans. Now on January 3, 2013 the date of this writing things have turned out much better for the US than they might have looking back to the summer of 2012. The Republican primaries presented a cast of lunatic political panderers smiling and strutting on the American political stage running for president. Thanks to the powers that be none of them got to be president.
Despite some administrative skirmishes with administrators and colleagues I had a satisfying life as a professor at Georgia Southern. I enjoyed going into class discussing business policy, strategy, ethics, entrepreneurship, and small business cases with students, with all students assigned the task of answering each day three basic questions about the cases in democratic class discussions: What is the problem, what are the alternatives, and what do you recommend? I used a spinner every day to randomly select the discussion leader, making sure everyone had an equal democratic opportunity to be the leader of the day. Students generally sorted themselves into four groups arguing about relevant case considerations in a semester’s time—excellent, good, average, and poor. The excellent students got A’s, the good students got B’s and so on. I documented this grading system in my book Business Voyages in a case titled “The Georgia Southern Business School,” and in an article titled “Evidence the Case Method Works.” It was easy to see which students were in the excellent group, the good group, the average group, and the below average group, after watching and listening to them discuss cases face to face day after day in a course.
Grades in my classes averaged out about a middle C, about 2.45, according to pickaprof.com, an Internet service provided by some enterprising students at the University of Texas showing grades assigned by professors at various universities, sold to students to help students select professors for courses. About 15 percent of my students made A’s and about 15 percent made D’; most made C’s. Most of my colleagues had course g.p.a.’s over 3.0 when I retired in 2005. A professor teaching an online Internet course recently told me research had shown possibly 90 percent of work turned in for online university courses is copied and about 60 percent of students taking such courses make A’s. Some online teachers teach as many as 500 students in one course, turning their universities a handsome profit. I rarely had over 30 students in my face-to-face case method courses.
After retiring from Georgia Southern in 2005, with time on my hands, I became increasingly dismayed and obsessed with how the US economy as a whole had been managed since 1980. I was astounded and dismayed by what Bush II, a Harvard MBA, a Texan (and/or transplanted Yankee), was doing to this country, starting unnecessary wars, and adding insult to the neoconservative injuries Ronald Reagan inflicted with his supply-side, voodoo, deficits-do-not-matter economics. I criticized and discussed this at length in Business Voyages, a 756-page book, which I started writing in 2004 and first published in 2008, in a chapter titled “On Living With and Changing Worlds.”
Having had a heavy dose of Keynesian macro economics, I know it is standard procedure for professors and others to assert the way to stimulate aggregate demand, which the world still needs today after falling off a real fiscal cliff in 2007, is to increase spending and lower taxes and interest rates; but whether this works, economic history since 1980 has shown, depends on what kind of taxes are lowered for whom. It’s true if you lower taxes for small businesses and lower and middle class taxpayers aggregate demand will be increased, because they will spend their cash tax windfalls on consumer goods in local communities, setting in motion a positive multiplier effect in the economy at large, making things better for everyone; but if you significantly lower taxes for large corporations and the elite rich, as Reagan and Bush II did, aggregate demand will not be increased if they move their cash tax windfalls offshore, to the Cayman Islands, to avoid even more taxes, or to low wage countries to buy goods on the cheap for importation into the US, like Wal-Mart, or use it to plunder weak corporations in the US using vulture capitalist strategies. Lowering the taxes of large corporations and the elite rich after 1980 made the rich richer and increased the US budget deficit.
By the same token, raising the taxes of large corporations and the elite rich now will not reduce aggregate demand and destroy jobs, since they can afford all the consumer goods sold in the US they want or need even if their taxes are raised by a minuscule percentage of their disposable funds; and they won’t reduce their investment spending in the US to build new plant and equipment if their taxes are raised, since aggregate demand is now too low to enable them to sell whatever new investment in the US would produce. Yet Republican propagandists are still spreading the lie in mainstream media that raising taxes for large corporations and the elite rich destroys jobs, like Henny-Penny squawking the sky is falling, to make sure large corporations and the elite rich, as rich as they are, do not get less rich, so Republican politicians and lobbyists will continue receiving their political payments. Some Democratic politicians are as guilty as Republicans in this regard, and they too should be voted out of office.
What does it take to qualify as a member of the elite rich? Who knows? But I think Obama’s definition of over $250k in yearly income is closer to the mark than $450k.
Unfortunately taxes have been lowered for everyone in the US for years and interest rates have been lowered so much many people are now paying banks and the government to store their money in bank deposits and treasury bills and notes, earning negative real interest since the inflation rate is higher than the interest rate, and still aggregate demand is too low to provide a satisfactory level of employment. Meanwhile know nothing tea party Republicans are clamoring for spending cuts to reduce the budget deficit, sure to make things worse in the short run for the unemployed. As Paul Krugman as pointed out for several years about the only option left to produce a satisfactory employment level is to increase government spending massively creating infrastructure jobs. I say increase taxes progressively on everyone above about $100k in income and use the proceeds to create infrastructure jobs, while borrowing or printing even more money if necessary to restore full employment ASAP. Whether this will work and for how long remains to be seen, but this is the best option we have in the short run. What we need for the long run are some truly innovative changes in the way we live, produce goods and services, and do business.
Now in the earliest days of 2013, the US has not yet fallen off a new fiscal cliff, our reelected president and dysfunctional congress have agreed to yet another plan that will raise income taxes only on taxpayers with over $450k in yearly income and require all working citizens to resume paying their FICA contributions, i.e., their Federal Insurance Contribution Act contributions, i.e., their payments for their Social Security and Medicare old-age insurance plans, which Orwellian politicians, bureaucrats, and pundits for years have been calling “Payroll Taxes,” as if these social security payments were just another form of tax the federal government can use to pay any sort of current bill of the government, as if that money does not belong to the social security system, a system of insurance to provide a floor of security for all US citizens against the inevitable suffering of old age, which has accumulated some $2.7 trillion since 1935 in the Social Security Trust Fund, the cumulative excess of yearly FICA contributions over social security benefit payments from 1935 to now, which was loaned to the federal government, which is now being paid back at the rate of a few billion dollars per year to cover a yearly deficit in social security contributions/benefit payments cash flows. It would take about 60 years for the $2.7 trillion to be paid back to the social security trust fund at the current rate of repayment.
Unfortunately requiring all working citizens and employers to resume making their FICA contributions (about 15 percent on the first $100k of income for every income-earning person in the US) will reduce aggregate demand and de-stimulate job growth, and new income tax increases on incomes over $450k won’t produce much cash for infrastructure jobs; but, requiring all workers and employers to resume making FICA contributions will increase the cash flow of the government in the sense these contributions will put cash in the treasury after the contributions have been borrowed from the SS trust fund. That cash theoretically would increase cash available for the creation of infrastructure jobs to jumpstart the economy towards full employment.
What will happen to the US economy from here on remains to be seen. In the meantime US business schools should do a better job of educating students to become better voters, bureaucrats, regulators and politicians to better manage our capitalistic economic system in the interests of we the people, rather than in the interests of large corporations, the elite rich and their political lapdogs. Business schools should start turning over a new leaf by giving their students more opportunities to develop their critical thinking skills in democratic random-selection case method discussions instead of spending most of their class time lecturing or showing power-point slides and videos about dogma and doctrine to be used for true-false and multiple-choice tests to receive high scores on student evaluations from students who have been led to expect relatively high grades in courses for memorizing easy to memorize dogma and doctrine. See my article “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” published by the Journal of Management Education in 2001, cited as a reference since 2001 in 42 refereed professional journal articles, for backing for this assertion and recommendation.
I discussed at length the above democratic random-selection case method process in my 2012 eBook Recommendations for Waking Up From the American Nightmare, in which I recommended that democratic random-selection case method discussions of economic and political problems be widely and frequently conducted in face to face town hall meetings among people from all walks of life to better educate voters about economic history as it happens to insure against them voting for clueless selfish politicians having no concept of what it would be like to vote for the good of everyone.
August 22, 2012
Voters In The Less Than Upper Class Thinking About Voting For Romney—ryan Are Playing With Fire, Jeopardizing The Long-term Interests Of Themselves, Their Children And Their Children’s Children
Romney—ryan If Elected Would Worsen The Depredations Of Reagan And Bush II
Vote No To Plutocracy
Vote Yes For Democracy
What did Reagan and Bush II destroy? They destroyed the confidence of thinking Americans that the US stands for freedom, fairness, equality and progress for all. Those two administrations made it clear what counts for Republicans are the interests of large corporations and the elite rich, what a wise-cracking Bush II flippantly called the have mores, giving a talk to an elite economic club in New York City when he was president.
Reagan and Bush II cut the taxes of the upper class saving them trillions of dollars in taxes after 1981 while increasing government spending primarily on military actions to help corporations and the elite rich in global markets while doing everything they could to reduce government spending on social, environmental and educational programs, and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, setting in motion a process of flagrant hubris, profligacy, obtuseness and callousness resulting in the weakened, dysfunctional, polarized government we have today, drowning in trillions of dollars of debt.
If anyone in the less than upper class thinks she or he or his or her children and their children will not need Social Security, Medicare, and possibly Medicaid, then s/he had better think again; and if s/he votes for Romney-Ryan with knowledge of these consequences then s/he shall deserve what s/he reaps.
Barack Obama’s Performance
Obama has not been a superstar miraculously curing the economic troubles he inherited in 2009; but he’s made progress.
The US banking system did not collapse despite the depredations of bankers during the Bush II years 2001-2008 after the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 under Clinton, which made it possible for bankers to do most anything they wanted with other people’s money deposited in their banks: gamble in stock and commodity markets, merge and expand however they wanted, sell structured mortgage investment packages, buy and sell derivatives and credit default swaps—enabling greedy irresponsible bankers to drive their banks into rack and ruin while enriching themselves with bonuses—costing most Americans about 30 percent of their monetized wealth in the form of house prices—necessitating expropriating from US taxpayers handouts, bailouts and corporate welfare to prevent the failure of sorry banks too big to fail that were threatening the entire US economy with a catastrophe if the welfare payments were not made. Bankers in big banks know how to play the game of moral hazard better than they know how to play bridge.
The Obama administration has made progress with a new banking reform law to control banks and bankers to insure against another banking crisis like what happened during the Bush II years, despite being obstructed and undermined by Republicans at every step of the way, with Romney now promising to get rid of the “shackles” banks and bankers were put in by the new banking law. Electing Romney president would be like putting the proverbial fox in charge of the hen house so the fox in this case can open the hen house door to let in all foxes.
The same is true for the new health care law, which is better than what we had, which needs further improvements.
What we need is not less Medicare: What we need is Medicare for all US citizens, Medicare being the most rational and efficient health insurance program in the US, the only one with any chance of controlling the ever-increasing costs of the irrational inefficient wasteful US health care system, the most expensive per capita of all rich nations.
The Obama administration has wound down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars started by Bush II; and they tried to make further cuts. They have a process in place to automatically reduce military and social expenditures in 2012, which is now being obstructed and undermined with no holds barred fighting by Republicans. The Obama administration has offered to cut expenses for some programs for the lower and middle classes, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; and they have advocated increasing the taxes of the upper class, people making more than $250,000 per year, which would significantly reduce the deficit and debt.
Taxes Must Be Raised
Republicans have irrationally obstructed and undermined efforts to raise taxes for the upper class, advocating lowering its taxes even more instead, which is one of the worst things they could do to reduce the US deficit and debt. Most Republicans in both the Senate and House have signed a pledge created by a lobbyist, Grover Norquist, not to raise tax rates for any class for any reason, which is the height of mindlessness, irresponsibility and shameless vote pandering.
Most Americans know US income tax rates, capital gains tax rates, and estate tax rates must be raised to cure the US deficit and debt problem and avert the evolution of a fascist plutocracy in the US.
Surely most lower and middle class voters over age 30 or so have learned by now in mainstream media that Republican trickle down supply-side voodoo economics entailing the cutting of taxes of the upper class ostensibly to create economic growth and reduce the federal deficit and debt does not work. Doing this increases deficits and debt instead of reducing them. It reduces government revenue that would strengthen the US as a whole and puts more money in the pockets of the upper class, with a large percentage of their tax windfall money winding up in tax shelters in banks on non-US islands, and in Switzerland, having little or no impact on US economic growth. Romney did it with his surplus millions of dollars and hundreds if not thousands of upper class Americans have done the same thing.
Déjà vu All Over Again
And now Romney and Ryan, and senate and house Republicans, want to do the same thing Reagan and Bush II did all over again, as in Yogi Berra’s déjà vu all over again, a form of insanity in this case advocating doing a failed thing over and over while supposedly expecting a positive result.
It could be Republicans actually know better; and it could be they just don’t care what happens to the economy, so long as telling voters the fairy tales they want to hear reelects them.
The Romney-Ryan economic plan is very simple, as was Reagan’s and Bush II’s: Cut taxes and increase military expenditures for the upper class, and cut social, educational and environmental expenditures and, if possible, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the lower and middle classes.
Adding a new sadistic touch this time around, Ryan wants to increase the federal tax rates of the lower and middle classes by using flat taxes, which will generally entail higher tax rates than those now applied against them.
Surely, American voters, we are not dumb enough, unethical enough, self-destructive enough, irresponsible enough, or callous enough to let this happen.
Read my book Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds, written over 40 years, and the rest of this Business Voyages Ship’s Log Web Page, written in the last two years, for more facts, data, evidence and reasoning supporting these conclusions.
Superman or Batman?
I predicted in Business Voyages millions of credulous, infantilized, narcissistic voters would elect Romney president in 2008 because of his patriarchal Billy Graham-like forehead and chin and his being the son of George Romney, another Mormon patriarch who ran for president. I thought after being bombarded with Republican propaganda in mainstream media such voters would see Romney as a new incarnation of Superman, regardless of his simplistic disingenuous comments and his curt uninformative responses to questions.
Despite his generally patrician appearance Romney has a problem with the way he walks, often shown by unkind TV camera-people. He has a prancing-like gait, resembling the gait used by the dressage horse he bought his wife that competed in the London Olympics. Perhaps his wife trained him to prance like this, thinking it looks elegant, but it seems to me it looks a little odd used by a grown man.
But it now appears Romney will be playing to credulous infantilized narcissistic voters before November 2012 as a new incarnation of Batman, with his boy wonder Ryan playing Robin at his side.
Many American voters are impressed and excited and made to feel secure by presidential candidates who had fathers who were powerful politicians in family dynasties resembling British royalty, such as the Bush dynasty, or who look and act like movie or reality show stars, such as Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan.
Romney will make a better Batman than Superman. Superman is a strong determined character zooming through the sky having no trouble deciding once and for all how to neutralize evildoers coming to his attention. Batman is more helter-skelter as he darts about in his batmobile fighting evildoers with Robin’s help, often flip-flopping his opinions.
I’m not sure however Romney wants to neutralize evildoers. It may be he just wants to play the playground bully, with his new pal Ryan and their gang imposing their wills on playground weaklings domestically and internationally.
During high school in 1965 Romney cut the hair of a classmate presumed to be gay at their exclusive all-boy Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan who was forcibly held by Romney’s fellow bullies.
If you can believe leopards can change their spots then you can believe Romney now has a high regard for or empathy for people in relatively weak political and economic positions, such as LGBT people, straight women, racial minorities, and the poor and disadvantaged having accidentally been born the way they are in any nation. Romney let it slip talking about a problem with one of his yard workers around one of his mansions that he “likes being able to fire people”, reported on ABC News January 9, 2012.
Religion and Politics
During the last US presidential race John McCain tried to show he was a regular nice guy and was concerned about the life problems of Joe the Plumber. Who would be a better guy to sit down with and have a beer, Republicans wanted to know: McCain or Obama?
Well, this time around I don’t think there is any doubt about who would be a better guy to sit down and have a beer with, considering Romney can’t drink a beer because of his Mormon religion.
Even if Romney could drink a beer, he is not the sort of fellow I would want to have a beer with, or a scotch and water.
If you think Mormonism is just another Christian denomination like Primitive Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, Great Commission Baptist, Church of Christ or Pentecostal, having never read a copy of the Book of Mormon, as I have, handed to me free by two Mormon boys knocking on my door serving as missionaries within the US as a rite of passage into Mormon patriarchy, I suggest you get a copy of the Book of Mormon and read it. In my opinion, Mormonism is one the least plausible religions, considering Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity and Islam.
Although I am not a member of any organized religion, I have read about, studied and thought about religion more than most, growing up the grandson of a Methodist minister attending church every Sunday and attending a Southern Baptist college in Abilene, Texas on a basketball scholarship two years where I was required to take Bible courses. When I was about age 35 I bought a set of scholarly books about the world’s religions, which I read, and I have always read a good bit about religion in magazines.
I am more or less a pantheist, entailing the belief that a mysterious God-like intelligence evolved all evolving things in all universes in all time, including homo sapiens on Earth, including the founders of all religions on Earth, such as Brahmin, Moses, Abraham, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Joseph Smith and others, having had this belief for a long time. My Methodist minister grandfather E. H. Coston with no equivocation told me when I was about 25 years old there is no old man sitting up there in the sky sitting on white puffy clouds wearing a long white beard dressed in a white robe sitting on a gold throne holding a walking stick in his hand looking down on and loving, protecting and judging billions of his children now alive on Earth living in some sort of heaven with millions more who lived and died in the last 2000 years with knowledge of thousands or millions more he cast into hell to be tortured eternally because they did not do what he told them to do. I believe in fundamental ethics taught by all religions such as doing unto others as you would have others do unto you, loving your neighbor as yourself, not killing people, not stealing, not lying, not being greedy about money or concerned about piling up riches or paying taxes. Of the dominant religions, I like Buddhism best because of its peace and harmony-inducing nature. I believe our universe is about 10 billion years old.
MSM Talkers and Writers
Although some MSM talkers and writers slander Barack Obama without mercy, twisting and construing anything he says, writes or does into a heinous, incompetent or treasonous act, and some criticize or ridicule Romney, most mainstream media (MSM) TV talkers use happy upbeat words and demeanors with seductive voice intonations and cadences talking about the presidential candidates, as if one candidate was as good as another, innocently participating in a harmless spectacle devoid of possible dire consequences, as if the voice sounds, demeanors and personae of the TV talkers were more important than the content of what they are talking about, with little connection between the emotions and persona projected and the seriousness and portent of the information.
MSM writing and talking about politics often makes it seem facts of history and the likely consequences of candidates’ political beliefs are irrelevant. MSM talkers and writers, especially in media such as Fox (so-called) News, turn political happenings into psychodrama and entertainment, as if they had been scripted and produced to entertain people and make money for mainstream media, appealing to emotion rather than intellect, sometimes inciting hatred and contempt.
It’s a wonder most Americans have not been seriously confused and intellectually handicapped by this narcissistic manipulative process. Come to think of it, maybe they have been.
If you are talking about something sad and serious it seems to me you should at least show some empathy or concern for the victims or possible victims instead of appearing happy, glib and self-righteous; and if you are talking about something important you should act as if you think it is important instead of doing everything you can to look and sound like a clever and beautiful or handsome Barbie or Ken doll, however much your infantilized narcissistic viewers or friends might admire people who look and sound like Barbie or Ken dolls.
Almost nobody in MSM ever just comes out and honestly tells it like he thinks it is anymore, as I have on this Ship’s Log Web page, and as I did in Business Voyages. If they did they might lose their jobs or destroy their long-term careers as MSM talkers and writers. At my age 71 I could care less what people think about what I authentically look and sound like; and I do not have a long-term career to worry about.
Every year I become more and more a stranger in my own land talking in my native accent, not because of foreign immigrants, but because of native-born young people mimicking accents, mannerisms and personae used by role models in electronic media everywhere. Who knows how this phenomenon will sort out? For sure it is a major historical change affecting cultures around Earth, no doubt producing both positive and negative outcomes. It’s as if young people are primarily being parented by people they see and hear in electronic media rather than by their biological parents. If this continues before long there won’t be any foreigners left.
I may be wrong about what I write, but if I am I am honestly wrong. I am not writing what I write to tell suckers what I think they want to hear or impress them with my wonderful marvelous pleasing personality to build an audience to sell advertising or raise campaign funding to buy propaganda to brainwash voters, or sell my book.
Selling my book would be fine with me, but this is not why I write what I write, as my book sales testify. I am the sole editor and publisher of Business Voyages and my Business Voyages Ship’s Log Web Page, answerable to no one, thanks to the First Amendment of the US Constitution. I am an idealistic Don Quixote-like free citizen of the US, telling what I think the truth is, come hell or high water, striving to improve the functioning of my country and planet.
American Central Casting
Schemata and scripts are cognitive structures recorded in the brains of people around Earth as they live their lives, most often introjected through vicarious learning in daily life in families, groups and cultures, but sometimes consciously taught in families, schools, churches and other places, sometimes inculcated on purpose in people by people in propaganda vocations to manipulate people into doing what power people want them to do to further the economic, social or political interests of corporations, groups, organizations, religions, classes, and cultures.
Schemata tell people what strategies to use in various situations and scripts tell people what to feel, think, say and do in particular situations, such as what to feel, think and do in voting booths.
People living in states of the US called red and blue states have been scripted to generally feel, think, believe and behave in certain predictable political ways.
Schemata and scripts are difficult to change, but they are not cut in stone.
Read Business Voyages for more about the nature and consequences of schemata and scripts. Read about what I call American Central Casting, a process scripted to select and script actors to act out the script of president of the US, and other high offices, entailing the acting out of pastimes, rituals, games, and activities, in the greatest show on Earth.
There is more to being president of the US however than acting out pastimes, rituals, games and activities. There is also the matter of working with and motivating people to do the right thing about real threats and opportunities, which involves communication and trust.
Necessary Lies and Unnecessary Lies
All people lie. No one tells the full truth about what s/he is feeling, thinking and doing all the time. Although few people tell overt lies containing known factual errors most of the time, most people lie by omission much of the time. It is one thing to tell someone something you know is false for an ulterior reason; it is something else not to tell someone the truth s/he needs to know, keeping your mouth shut, withholding the truth to protect your selfish interests. Most people have shameful secrets they keep hidden from others for good reasons.
All presidents and high government officials must keep secret state secrets, or be considered traitors, including secrets such as the leaked wikileaks email messages, showing how ordinary and banal are most high governmental officials and their secrets as they secretly communicate with one another.
On a lying continuum from 1 to 10, 1 being minimum lying and 10 being maximum lying, I rate Obama about a 4 and Romney about a 9. Obama has made public his income taxes over several years and advocates raising his income taxes; Romney showed one year of his taxes and refuses to show the rest, while advocating lowering income taxes even more for himself and his rich cronies in the upper class.
Romney is lying by omission about his taxes, withholding information voters need to know to make a good decision about whether they should hire him to lead their government four years. Does he have something to hide? In the vernacular of Sarah Palin, you betcha he has.
Get Real About Taxes
My wife and I are poor relative to Romney and his wife; yet, on our 2011 joint tax return we paid an average income tax rate of 21 percent, with a marginal tax rate of 28 percent, as shown in more detail below on this Business Voyages Ship’s Log web page. Our 2011 taxes were a little higher than usual because of some non-recurring income, but the rate has been about the same for 10 or more years.
Romney has said lately (around August 15 or so) he paid as much as 13 percent as a tax rate over the last several years. Pushed by Democrats to show his actual taxes and rate for the last five years he continues to stonewall.
If I could have legally reduced my tax rate to 13 percent I would have done so, but neither my tax preparer nor I knew how to do it. If Romney legally reduced his rate to 13 percent with millions of dollars of income then he and advisors know something we don’t, or the elite rich can legally do things using loopholes in offshore islands we poorer folks landlocked in the US can’t.
I say unto you my fellow Americans this just ain’t right.
Knowing About Business
Romney says over and over in MSM-land like a parrot he is a successful businessman who understands business and he knows how to create jobs and he wants to put America back to work, implying therefore you should vote for him for president.
Well, as anyone exposed to MSM in the last two years should know, it’s highly unlikely Romney created more jobs than he destroyed during his career as a vulture capitalist at Bain Capital. Doing so would be about as likely as a rich man passing through the eye of a needle on his way to heaven. As for his creating jobs at the Salt Lake City Olympics, it’s unlikely he had much to do with creating jobs there. Local officials and workers following the standard script for staging an Olympics did this automatically. Romney the glory-hound is taking credit for work they did.
I do agree however Romney does know a good bit about business. After all he has a Harvard MBA with two years of business case method training studying under some of the best business professors on Earth; and he has to have business and political street smarts, otherwise he could not have piled up a personal fortune of $200 million as chairman of Bain Capital, apparently staying in good stead with his cronies and fellow bullies for 13 years, implementing vulture capital strategies without getting into serious trouble with the law, although some of his fortune could have been inherited. Romney’s father George was a rich man, and he probably willed Mitt a fortune in the eyes of most people, also teaching Mitt business and political street smarts around the dinner table at home when he was CEO of American Motors and Governor of Michigan.
Unfortunately the probability of Romney helping all classes of US citizens using his Bain Capital smarts and skills as president of the US is close to zero.
Since Romney understands business he should know a fundamental script for running a US public corporation is that CEOs must use generally accepted accounting principles keeping their corporate books and they must have their books audited every year by Certified Public Accountants who must certify the books were properly kept and the results of revenues, costs, expenses, taxes, and other matters as reported in a required public annual report in their opinion were properly prepared.
The Enron Episode
The Enron episode is logged in Business Voyages in a case titled Accenture Consulting, which Arthur Andersen morphed into, researched and written from public records in 2004 in my capstone Business Policy and Strategy course (BA 450) by perhaps the best student I ever taught, Dennis Lackey, who was selected by the Georgia Southern president as the outstanding student of the university that year, of 16,000 students, receiving the President’s Award, graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average at age 22, paying all his college expenses working part-time for small businesses, with time left over to play on the rugby team.
During the early Bush II years we experienced a business scandal in this country of epic proportions involving Enron and its accounting firm Arthur Andersen, who committed accounting fraud and faulty or criminal auditing. Enron’s house of corruption collapsed wiping Enron off the map causing not only its demise but Arthur Andersen’s as well, one of the largest CPA firms on Earth.
Among the most dismaying aspects of the Enron fiasco were the arrogance, hypocrisy and scripts of the Enron top executives. It was as if they had been scripted to act in some sort of HBO movie presenting themselves as innocent grown up choirboys or altar boys playing the role of corporate executives. It turned out the whole company with its surreal skyscraper in Houston, Texas was about as make-believe as a Hollywood movie. When the Enron top brass said anything it sounded like something they had memorized, and they looked like mechanical mannequins, all form and no substance.
Hard working lower level employees believing they had career jobs, buying Enron stock through an Enron stock option plan, thinking they had a bright future, were kept completely in the dark about the true nature of the company’s financial situation and plight until the very end. The next day they were on the street looking for another job, the value of their Enron stock having gone to nothing or almost nothing, falling from $90 per share to $1 per share.
The Enron scandal precipitated the creation of the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 which among other things requires CEOs to sign a statement they are aware of how their accounting systems work, know they are personally responsibility for them, and will not try to blame underlings, claiming they did not know what was going on, when things blow up in their faces, as did the Enron CEO Ken Lay, a personal friend of Bush II and Cheney, calling on them for help in the White House, the Bush II cast being about as scripted and banal as the Enron cast, even having the audacity to make disparaging wisecracks about “reality-based” decision-making.
Thousands of investors, employees, suppliers and creditors suffered serious mental harm and financial losses caused by the Enron executives, some of whom were put behind bars for their crimes, and the Enron CEO Ken Lay would have joined them in jail had he not died of a heart attack before he could be locked up.
The Enron case is one of the most flagrant and pathetic ethics cases in US business history, involving a culture of deception and lies at the top of a large public corporation, built on fantasy, debt and manipulation, having access to public stock markets, creating accounting data out of thin air showing on financial statements revenue and profit that did not exist to swindle stockholders, using secret strategies and tactics any high school student would know were unsustainable and immoral.
Clever from the start, Enron, primarily in the business of trading energy, oil, electricity, and such, derived the En of its name from energy and the ron from oil companies, such as Chevron. Existing from 1985 to 2001, 16 years, building a tall modern architectural structure for their headquarters in Houston with borrowed money, in which to act out their scripts and fool people, the Enron founders wanted to make it seem they were as big and established as Exxon, derived from John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New Jersey founded in the 19th century. Enron was no Exxon and Ken Lay was no John D. Rockefeller.
As reported in the New York Times April 15, 1913 my uncle once removed Richard Gathright Maury a district attorney in Houston served papers against John D. Archbold, president of Standard Oil of New Jersey, and John D. Rockefeller, in New York in a suit brought against them and others to recover approximately $100,000,000 for violation of the anti-trust law of the State of Texas. Richard Gathright Maury had to personally travel to New York to serve the papers, where he found Mr. Rockefeller staying near a place called Lakewood.
According to the New York Times: “When Mr. Maury got off the train at Lakewood he found Mr. Rockefeller’s private conveyance waiting to take him to the golf club. He was piloted out in the direction of the third hole, where Mr. Rockefeller could be seen, surrounded by other players. Mr. Rockefeller saw him approaching and met him half way. He was in his regular golfing clothes and wore a paper vest, such as he has recommended for others. He greeted Mr. Maury affably and asked:
“Aren’t you afraid of being devoured, young man?
“Mr. Maury disavowed any fear for his immediate safety in the presence of the ‘oil octopus,’ as it is usually described in Texas, and after he delivered his papers, the two chatted together for some time, after which an automobile was ready to take the officer back to the railroad station.”
Now that is the way to do business as a robber baron and a criminal prosecutor from Houston, Texas.
To read the rest of the story click here.
Two other sensational cases came to light in 2003 involving corruption in large US corporations, Tyco and WorldCom, and then a few years later the Bernie Madoff scam erupted in MSM-land, a case in which people who had invested their life savings in a supposedly professional and competent investment service overseen by the US Securities and Exchange Commission were furnished completely fictitious computer-generated statements showing their invested funds were growing at a rate of 9 or so percent per year on investments that were never made, costing them billions of dollars when Madoff finally threw in the towel and came clean in 2009, spilling his guts about his Ponzi scheme, and the lies he had gotten away with since the early 1990s.
Unfortunately while a few rotten apples can spoil a whole barrel, in my opinion the ethics of most American CEOs and public corporations are at least satisfactory, despite their greedy grandiose executive salaries and compensation packages, including bonuses and golden parachutes.
While I have become increasingly dismayed through the years about the campaign contributions and lobbying payments of corporate CEOs in the last 40 or so years made to reduce the corporate share of US tax revenues, I think most CEOs and business people in general are at least satisfactory dealing with customers.
In defense of CEOs it seems to me the major continuing business ethics problem for at least 30 years in the US is the relationship of corporate CEOs with politicians who rely on corporations as a source of political campaign funding, with politicians shaking CEOs down by merely threatening to support or not support bills affecting their corporate interests.
On the other hand, being a septuagenarian, I can remember what business was like in the 1950s working for my parents in their businesses, including a lumber yard and hardware store, and in my opinion American business back in those days was fairer and more satisfying than it is now. In those days you could walk in any business and get waited on in seconds or minutes, pay for your purchase at a cash register, and get out of there much faster than you can now, and you could telephone any business and talk with a human being about any problem you might have in seconds or minutes. Now you get subjected to mechanical voices and algorithmic choices and a good chance you will eventually talk with someone in India who does not have a clue about what is going on in the business. I don’t think most employees in most large US businesses today have a clue about what is going on overall in the businesses in which they work, largely thanks to computers and computer-based information systems, installed to cut costs and expenses by getting rid of employees.
Two Enron executives sent to jail during the Bush II years have Harvard MBAs, proving being smart enough and rich enough to get a Harvard MBA, maybe even being the smartest guy in the room, as one of them, Skilling, was said to be, does not guarantee someone learned what is required to ethically do the right thing when push comes to shove and the chips are down.
For whatever it’s worth Bush II also has a Harvard MBA; and although many people thought he should be impeached for committing alleged criminal acts in the White House, and only about 20 percent of US citizens approved of his performance as president when he left office, he was not indicted for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Hopefully we shall never experience a reincarnation of Enron, Madoff, or Bush II. The fundamental ethical issue in these cases was transparency, telling people the truth, about business facts, taxes, and other matters, including weapons of mass destruction, and not keeping secrets or lying unnecessarily. You can argue forever about whether the US Securities and Exchange Commission has the wherewithal to oversee corporations and enforce business laws to protect the public from Enron-like or Madoff-like fraud; but at least we have a government agency and laws in place to make the attempt. In the case of US presidents the final check on malfeasance and miscreants is voters. The best thing we can do is not vote for them in the first place.
You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
Romney wants to be the CEO and Commander in Chief of the largest public organization on Earth, the US government, yet he wants to keep his taxes secret as a private citizen. He wants the power, prestige and perks of the most important public post on Earth, yet he wants the advantages of an ordinary citizen.
He obviously has little respect for transparency with respect to his taxes. Is this a character trait? If he should become president of the US would he unnecessarily declare relevant facts and decisions state secrets, unnecessarily keeping we the people in the dark? I think this is almost certain.
Romney should put the truth of his taxes on the table so the people can better decide whether he should be president. Unfortunately he could win however scandalous his tax secrets might be. After all many voters have the ethics of an alley cat. Many Americans cheat on their taxes and they might admire Romney for figuring out a way to get out of paying taxes, believing this qualifies him to be president, however much in reality this unethical behavior undermines the fiscal health and social functioning of the US government.
For sure Romney and his cronies are not want I want to have to see, hear and read about over and over for four years in MSM-land, which could be even more depressing than watching, reading about and hearing about Bush II and his cast of lightweight ethically-challenged ideologues during 2001-2008.
Obama and his aides and appointees shown in MSM-land during 2009 and up to now have been acceptable, including Joe Biden. There have been no major scandals since Madoff. I think the adage if it ain’t broke don’t fix it definitely applies in this case.
Hopefully Romney can’t have it all, including the presidency of the US.
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June 21, 2012
Doak Walker Of Texas And Competition In Athletics, Academics, Business, Politics, Religion And Life In General
Is The Game Rigged?
How To Reduce The Chances Of Another Great Depression
I was born to be an athlete. My mother Ida Belle Coston Stapleton started my athletic training when I was four years old, throwing and catching a ball with me day after day in sessions lasting up to an hour. She was born and raised in East Texas and was probably related to Doak Walker on both sides of her family, through her mother Darlie Brown Walker and through her great-grandmother on her father’s side Catharine Doak. My mother’s father Elbert Harry Coston, a Methodist minister, was the best baseball pitcher I ever knew. He showed me how to throw a dropping sliding curve ball when I was 12 years old, throwing one himself right over the plate the first time, still dressed in his coat and tie before our Sunday dinner after preaching a sermon.
Doak Walker was unquestionably one of the greatest athletes in American history, a three time All-American football player, in 1947, 1948 and 1949, at Southern Methodist University, Heisman Trophy winner in 1948, a Phi Delta Theta fraternity member who also lettered in basketball and baseball at SMU, going on to play professional football for the Detroit Lions, leading the NFL twice in scoring, in 1950 and 1955, becoming a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To see what Doak Walker looked like in his prime please click here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doak_Walker).
I became a successful athlete myself in a smaller pond as I documented in my book Business Voyages, becoming the starting quarterback of our junior high and high school teams during my 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grades. During my freshman season in 1953 at age 13, 110 pounds and 5’3″ tall I was according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal probably the youngest and smallest Class A high school starting quarterback in the United States.
I was an extremely accurate passer. I’m pretty sure I completed over 60 percent of my passes over my career, from ages 11-17. With today’s 71-year-old memory I can remember throwing a good number of touchdown passes in various seasons but I cannot visually recall a single interception. I can vividly recall warming up for a practice my senior year and impulsively throwing a football and knocking down a football someone had punted that was moving overhead about 30 yards up in the air, the only time I ever tried such a thing, which was probably the most astounding and satisfying throw I ever made.
I was All-District four years in high school basketball, honorable mention All-State one year in basketball, All-Tournament in every basketball tournament I ever played in, averaging over 20 points a game my senior year, almost as many every year, rarely missing a free throw, sinking maybe 30 percent or so of the shots I took from anywhere on the court, All-District and All-Regional my senior year in football, the 2nd leading Class A scorer on the South Plains of Texas in football my senior year, counting extra points I kicked, earning a full scholarship in basketball at Hardin-Simmons University, averaging about 20 points a game on the freshman team, becoming the only holdover from that team for the varsity team my sophomore year.
I didn’t play football my junior year in high school because of spending the summer between my sophomore and junior years in a body cast after undergoing back surgery that fused my tailbone to the first three vertebra to prevent a vertebrae from slipping out, a condition caused by a birth defect. I played tailback my senior year because the teammate taking my place at quarterback my junior year could not play any other position and I was now the fastest man on the team. I threw more passes from the tailback position than he did as quarterback. The center would snap the ball between his legs directly to me and he would sometimes pitch the ball to me on fake end sweeps. I threw several touchdown passes with this play, stopping my fake end run and throwing the ball down the field thirty or so yards to a fast wingback who could get behind everyone. I ran, passed, kicked off, punted and kicked extra points, also running back punts and kickoffs, playing every second of every game on both offense and defense my senior year. We won 7 out of 10 games.
I gave up my athletic career just before the first season game my sophomore year at H-SU, giving up a full scholarship. While the back surgery was successful it left me relatively stiff due to those fused joints in my lower back that no longer bent. This caused my ankles to give out. Both feet had to be taped for every practice and game and I had serious blisters on both feet all the time, caused by having to run faster, cut sharper and stop quicker in this league to make the team. All in all it was not worth it, especially considering there was some chance I might not be the starting point guard when the season opened, something I had never not been.
The coaches accepted my decision and we remained on good terms. They paid for my tuition, books and room and board my first semester after I quit basketball. My parents agreed this was the best thing to do. They saw me play only one basketball game my freshman year at H-SU at Abilene, Texas, three hours away from our hometown Wolfforth, Texas near Lubbock. My mother, my first coach and avid fan, never missed a single football or basketball game I played in during my junior high and high school years. She arranged for the high school coaches to give me Doak Walker’s SMU football jersey number when I was a freshman: 37
I decided to concentrate on my studies at H-SU after I quit basketball. I made better than average grades my freshman year considering the time and energy basketball took and they improved my sophomore year after I quit basketball. I had about a 3.25 grade point average my sophomore year and could have done better had I been able to study for finals. I got sick during finals both semesters that year. I could have made straight A’s had I done well on the final exams. Most likely the sickness, a flu-like bronchial condition, was caused by stress and psychological problems. Serious athletes were not supposed to be bookworms or make straight A’s in college.
H-SU was a Baptist college in Abilene, Texas with 1,900 students and their tuition was relatively high, so I transferred my junior year to Texas Tech College (now university) with 10,000 students in Lubbock, Texas, ten miles from where I grew up. I majored in economics and worked part-time for my parents in their businesses at Wolfforth, also pledging a fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta. I graduated, worked for my parents some more, started some businesses of my own, made a profit but sold the businesses, worked for Litton Industries in production control, got fired at Litton for arguing with a supervisor, went back to graduate school at Texas Tech, got offered a part-time instructorship teaching economic history at Texas Tech to finance my doctoral studies, earned a doctorate in business administration, became a business professor at Georgia Southern University where I taught 35 years, earning a certification in transactional analysis at Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1978, and here I am now at age 71 an emeritus professor of business policy, small business, and business ethics, writing books and essays, investing in the stock market, living with my wife Debbye in our home near Statesboro and in our log cabin in the mountains of Western North Carolina near the town of Franklin.
The above is documented in my book Business Voyages in the first chapter called Causes and Influences, in 71 pages of 756 pages of the book, first published in 2008. The remaining pages are concerned with how anyone can learn how to be successful in business. The last 149 pages of the book documents, analyzes and discusses what I think went wrong with American business after 1980 and what to do about it in a chapter titled On Living With and Changing Worlds. Unfortunately it seems the odds of business success are now lower for most Americans than they were for me when I started out.
In response to the question “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” my answer is, well, I am rich. My wife and I had a combined income in 2011 of $192,840, paying federal income taxes of $35,421, with a 28 percent marginal tax bracket, counting income from pensions, social security, mathematics tutoring, part-time math teaching, book royalties, tax sheltered 403b variable annuity withdrawals, stock trades and dividends, and owner-financing payments received from the purchaser of some land we sold, also paying $4,585 in Georgia state income taxes. We own assets worth about $1 million and we have no debt, including credit card debt. We make most of our purchases using credit cards but we pay the monthly balance in full every month, paying no interest. We’re not rich relative to the elite rich or the 1 percenters, with multi-millions or billions of dollars of net assets and millions of dollars in yearly income, but we’re rich indeed relative to the mass of mankind, probably richer than we deserve.
Following in a nutshell is what I think I learned from the above experience. Read Business Voyages if you want more facts, analysis, and reasoning to support these conclusions.
Competition and Fairness in Athletics, Academics, Business and Politics
Despite dreading hard totally exhausting and depleting sometimes painful football workouts and suffering serious anxieties before season football games, I found football satisfying, not only because I was relatively good at it but because of the fair competition. If you won it was because you were better than your competitor, and there was little doubt about it. Many people watched the game and the rules of the game were fairly and impartially imposed on both teams by impartial referees who closely watched every play. You might win or lose a game now and then because of lucky or unlucky breaks or a bad call by a referee but in general you won or lost because you were smarter, faster, stronger, tougher and better than your competitors, or not. The same was true for basketball except practices and workouts were less agonizing and you didn’t have to worry about getting seriously hurt.
Why you were smarter, faster, stronger, and better or not than your competitors is another story. It could be you were smarter, faster, stronger, etc. than your competitors playing the game because of working-out and practicing harder, longer and smarter, and thinking about the game more, doing a better job of getting yourself psyched-up for the game, and so forth. On the other hand, it may have been you were born smarter, faster, stronger and so forth than your competitors, in which case you could have made a loser out of yourself by not working out and the like or you could have increased your natural advantage by working out more than others. But, if you were born smarter, faster, stronger, etc. and you win because of it, is this fair?
It is fair if you win in this case if fairness is defined as a matter of obeying the rules of the game, but was it fair you had more natural ability? No, fairness has nothing to do with this. This was a matter of inevitable human evolution unrelated to merit or virtue.
Now, let’s look for a moment at fairness in business and politics. Do winners in business and politics win because of their merits and ethical behavior following the rules of the game? Maybe sometimes, but most of the time there is no way to tell.
First of all, there are no clear cut rules in business and political games, there are no spectators watching the whole game and there are no referees watching every play to make sure the players follow the rules. Players sometimes do everything they can to change the rules in their favor by buying or currying favors and influence from rule makers, bosses or legislators, and they sometimes try to bribe or influence what referees there are to make calls in their favor, or they might pay legislators to get rid of the referees.
Whereas most ball players are fairly similar in terms of natural characteristics such as body weight, height, speed, etc. before the season starts and the teams are formed, in business the size and strength of players vary dramatically before the competition starts in a particular game or market. When Wal-Mart opens up a new superstore playing against local small businesses in a newly invaded market the competition when the game starts is about as fair as would be the New England Patriots or the Chicago Bears attacking local junior high or little league football teams.
The Scott Walker Recall Election in Wisconsin
I was greatly dismayed when I learned Scott Walker (no relation) won his recall election as governor of Wisconsin on June 5, 2012.
As the preacher said in Ecclesiastes in the Bible over two thousand years ago the race is often not to the swift, especially in politics. Winners in politics do not win in most cases because of being smarter, faster, stronger, better coordinated, quicker and more ethical than competitors playing games with fair rules enforced by impartial referees. President Lyndon Johnson said President Gerald Ford was so dumb he couldn’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, maybe caused, said Johnson, by not wearing his helmet enough playing football.
Winners in politics generally win because of telling voters what they want to hear and possessing physical attributes that satisfy the narcissistic desires of voters, having little to do with merit, virtue, ability or ethical decisions, since politicians are born the way they are. I predicted Mitt Romney would win the presidency in 2008 because he was bred and born to be president, being the son of George Romney who also ran for president, and after being subjected to political propaganda credulous voters would fall in love with Romney because of his looks, coming across to them as a new incarnation of Superman. I was wrong about 2008, and hopefully I shall be wrong about 2012, but Mitt Romney is now coming on very strong with credulous admiring voters.
The Walker recall election is a good case in point. Walker was born in Colorado the son of a Baptist preacher. He became an Eagle Scout and became involved in leadership activities in high school sponsored by the American Legion and others such as the Badger Boys State in Wisconsin and Boys Nation in Washington, DC, where he met Ronald Reagan who became his role model. Walker even looks a little like Reagan from certain angles on TV. He attended Marquette University but dropped out before graduating.
Walker worked part-time for IBM and fulltime for the Red Cross. He presents himself as a fiscal conservative staunchly opposed to legal abortions. He was elected to several state and local political offices in Wisconsin, including the governorship in 2010, becoming subjected to a recall election June 5, 2012 because of voter resentment stemming from his fomenting legislation to eliminate collective bargaining in Wisconsin for all public servants except police and firemen, becoming one of only three US governors in history subjected to a recall election.
The 45-year-old Walker won the recall election June 5 with 54 percent of the vote, after winning his initial 2010 governor’s election with 52 percent of the vote, against the same opponent in both elections, Tom Barrett, a 59-year-old Democratic former state politician and US Representative with grey hair. Barrett earned a degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Governor Walker generally fits the post-modern profile for male winner Republican politicians, coming across to credulous voters as an innocent charismatic divinely inspired grown-up choirboy or altar boy, like Governor Rick Perry, Senator Rick Santorum, and Governor Mitt Romney, and President Ronald Reagan. Walker has a youthful vigorous decent appearance, except for a strange bald spot in his black hair near the top of his head in the back, sometimes broadcasted by unkind TV camera people, possibly jeopardizing his political career. His political opinions mirror those of extremist fundamentalist Republicans.
Some say Republicans outside Wisconsin buying propaganda broadcasted in Wisconsin mainstream media promoting Walker brainwashed voters into voting for him in the recall election, causing him to win. Republicans apparently bought 7 or 8 times more airtime for propaganda in support of Walker than Democrats bought for Barrett.
Is it fair that Walker won? Did he win because of ability, education, intelligence, speed, strength, moral integrity, or ethical correctness? No, he won because he reminded his supporters of Ronald Reagan and he told 54 percent of Wisconsin voters in this election what they wanted to hear. The two vote results, in 2010 and 2012, were pretty much the same, meaning Wisconsin voters changed their minds very little from one election to the other despite the large sums of money spent broadcasting propaganda by Republicans attempting to brainwash them.
For sure Walker did not win because of what he learned in college before he dropped out. His policies are based on Republican ideological platitudes, dogma and doctrine, which would take about 30 minutes to memorize, with no facts or evidence supporting the technical correctness, necessity or ethics of his union-busting policies. He said he wanted to get rid of unions to reduce spending to save his state from a budget crisis, even though such spending cuts if widely made in all state governments in the US could cause another depression by reducing aggregate demand, as I explained on March 2, 2011 on this Ship’s Log webpage when I first learned what Walker was up to in Wisconsin. If interested in why reducing aggregate demand can cause a depression scroll down this webpage to my posting titled Can Another Great Depression Happen?
Most likely the primary reason for Walker’s union-busting attack in Wisconsin was not to solve a state budget problem but to make a grandstand play in the Republican war on unions in the US, to make a name for himself as a tough guy or playground bully, reminiscent of Ronald Reagan putting down the hapless PATCO air traffic controller’s union during his tenure as president in 1981.
Political Winners and Losers
The real losers in the Wisconsin recall election are schoolteachers and other public servants who have lost some of their dignity and self-esteem and could lose their collective bargaining rights possibly causing their incomes and employment benefits to be reduced. Since voters knew this could happen before the recall election this means 54 percent of Wisconsin voters decided the dignity, incomes, health insurance benefits, and pensions of schoolteachers and public servants should be reduced and 46 percent did not. Which side was really right?
Walker’s basic goal to do away with all public unions in Wisconsin except police and firefighters, the only unions who supported him politically, entailed numerous ethical questions. For one thing, the US legal system still has some semblance of fairness about it, so why is it fair to outlaw collective bargaining for public unions but not private unions? It is unclear how this could play out in courts ruled by judges generally ruled by a rule of law instead of mere whims and prejudices. It has long been decided in the US that citizens have basic rights and responsibilities for collectively bargaining in unions with large corporations in the private sector if they vote to do so, given laws such as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 and the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Why should state legislators have the right to strip schoolteachers and other public servants of this right simply because they work for state bureaucracies? The NLRB did not guarantee the right to collectively bargain for certain types of workers in agriculture and elsewhere, including state workers, but it did not prohibit such rights for such workers. Given judges now on the Supreme Court appointed by Bush I and Bush II the game is biased against the right of government workers to collectively bargain if cases reach the Supreme Court, now dominated by five right wing Republican ideologues among nine total judges, creating 5-4 split decisions such as Citizens United of 2010, split votes analogous to the 54-46 percent split vote of Wisconsin voters on collective bargaining as exemplified by the Walker recall election.
Scrooge McDucks and Robber Barons have dominated Republican politics with their money since Walker’s hero Ronald Reagan’s time as president in 1981, believing the income and security of public servants and private workers should be cut while the taxes of large public corporations and the elite rich should be reduced more and more, thereby taking from the relatively poor and giving to the relatively rich reverse Robin Hood style, ostensibly to improve the fiscal problems and competitiveness of the US.
Class Competition, Antagonism, Resentment and Agitation
Since public servants such as schoolteachers must have college degrees and most lower level jobs in corporations and small business do not require college degrees much of the actual political antagonism and agitation in the US since 1980 has been between less educated middle and lower class Americans who have had their incomes cut or stagnate and more educated public servants whose incomes have increased in line with inflation, with health insurance and pensions left intact, some of whom having enjoyed the benefits of collective bargaining giving them countervailing power to negotiate with employers, which is apparently a sin according to Republican dogma and doctrine.
Most employees in large corporations in the so-called private sector either never had collective bargaining power or have lost it since 1980 and were thrown to the wolves running large corporations whose incomes and security went up as the incomes and security of lower-level employees went down. Wolves in the Republican Party have convinced many of the sheep working for them they will better off if they try to make public servants as bad off as they are, which will actually do them little or no good. All this will accomplish is make public servants as miserable and insecure as they are, while upper class wolves at the top of large corporations keep getting richer and richer, thanks to Republican tax cuts caused by obedient and misguided middle and lower class Republican voters and their elected representatives in Washington—which is unfair competition indeed—nothing like competing in a football game or in a basketball game, or in university courses for high grades.
How Can There Be A Middle Class If There Is No Upper And Lower Class?
Most politicians and mainstream media (MSM) talkers and writers in the US would have you believe we only have one class in America, the middle class; and while they sometimes lament or even rant and rail about the war on the middle class in America since 1980, I have yet to hear or read one of them regretting or criticizing the war on the lower class in America by the upper class.
Sometimes you will read or hear a politician or MSM talker or writer mentioning the “working class” of the US. I have yet to understand what they mean by this. Are they saying we have a class of Americans who work and the rest do not? Do they mean by the “working class” people paid to mindlessly do the bidding of bosses without question? Are they saying those above the middle class of Americans, CEOs and the Wal-Mart Walton’s and other elite rich in America who inherited billions from their parents do no work at all? Are they saying these people deserve millions of dollars per year in income for merely breathing, walking around, conversing with underlings and supplicants, and sitting in their office suites atop skyscrapers gazing out the windows of their corner offices, looking down on millions of people doing actual work below?
Americans are barraged daily with Republican propaganda in mainstream media telling the working class that members of the non-working upper class should have their federal income taxes reduced even more because it will “get America back on track”. What a crock!
Both upper and lower class Republicans would have you believe labor unions have been a major cause of the decline of the US automobile industry and other industries, by causing the historical wages, health insurance and pension incomes of labor union members to be so high they caused the price of American cars and other manufactured goods to get so high they would not sell in global markets. So to “get America back on track” all Americans have to do is get rid of labor unions, not only in private business but also in government agencies.
While this view is simplistic and self-serving for the rich, it contains a grain of truth. Unions were necessary to countervail the lopsided power of robber barons such as John D. Rockefeller in the late 19th century, and unions were successful raising the share of American income for American workers, causing by the 1950s wages in the US auto industry to increase so workers could afford middle class life styles, with a decent house and a car with a chance to send kids to college.
To read about the exploits of Richard Gathright Maury of Texas, a Houston public prosecutor, my father’s uncle, documented in Business Voyages, dealing with the likes of John D. Rockefeller in New York, please click here. Or just Google his name and read various sites.
Fraud, Waste, Abuse and Just Plain Unfairness
I am well aware that fraud, waste, abuse and unfairness exist in state and federal government bureaucracies and in many private corporations, including the US military-industrial complex, the welfare system, and university systems, including the one I taught in 35 years. I published a case I researched and wrote in my book Business Voyages titled Games Educators Play in which I assert administrator salaries in most university systems are inflated relative to professor salaries simply because administrators control the budgetary and evaluation systems all the way up to the governor’s office and they write themselves compensation checks at least ten percent higher than those of most professors simply because they have the power to do so; and many university teachers receiving merit pay raises are over-compensated relative to their peers because they pander to their students giving relatively high grades to receive high teacher evaluation scores from students.
See my article “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” published in the Journal of Management Education in 2001, easily found by typing the title into Google, to see the Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity (CITP) I invented to cure the student evaluation and teacher evaluation problem. This article has by now been cited as a reference in 40 peer-reviewed articles published in professional journals by professors in various academic disciplines around Earth, according to Sage Publications, the publisher of the Journal of Management Education, on the Internet. Whether my CITP has actually been used in most colleges and universities around Earth to cure the ills it was designed to cure is doubtful, but obviously a relatively large number of serious researchers think the CITP has merit. Most journal articles are cited little or none in other journal articles.
Our university system during my 35-year tenure created more and more administrator positions at Georgia Southern of dubious value such as assistant and associate dean positions, with salaries significantly higher than most professor salaries, wherein the holders spent most of their time obediently and politely conversing with superiors, peers and subordinates in the chain of command and filling out paperwork, instead of teaching, researching and writing articles for publication in competitive journals, having been ordained based on their “people skills” worthy of membership in an inherently superior and privileged administrator class, exempt from the hard work of teaching and research.
I paid a high price for the relatively low grades in my classes and my unappreciated critical thinking skills dealing with administrative problems. When I was hired at Georgia Southern in 1970 I was paid the highest salary in the business division except the chairman, whose salary was only $250 a year higher, one of the highest salaries on campus. By the time I retired in 2005 my salary was way down the list, despite teaching more classes than most, publishing more articles than most, and directing a Small Business Institute with some success, documented in Business Voyages.
I am sure an analogous process exists in the so-called private sector, causing manager salaries to become grandiosely inflated the higher up you go in the organizational chain of command, with higher and higher salaries paid for supposed “people” skills, skills sometimes modified using unappealing parts of the human anatomy as adjectives instead of the word people.
Why Tenure Must Be Preserved
Do we need tenure in schools and universities? You bet we do! If tenure is done away with few teachers will be able to maintain their intellectual honesty and integrity regarding such things as what grades students deserve for what sort of performance in their classes and how their classes and schools should be run. In the absence of tenure, society shall wind up with obsequious obedient servants posing as teachers doing their best to please their bosses, whatever this entails, to keep their jobs in their administrative hierarchies and cultures.
In the absence of tenure intellectual honesty and integrity with teachers and researchers exercising independent professional judgment telling the truth as they see it simply because they think the truth is the truth based on facts and reason could become almost extinct. If you doubt this just take a look on the Internet at the teachers and administrators in Georgia and in other states without tenure who were forced to lie about, change and forge student test scores to comply with the Bush II No Child Left Behind school mandates to keep from losing their jobs.
Teachers should not automatically receive tenure; they should earn it by demonstrating on the job before receiving tenure they possess competence and knowledge in the subject matter and skills of their disciplines, functional personalities capable of dealing with diverse students, a genuine desire to teach people things, good ethical standards, and intellectual honesty and integrity. And don’t forget tenure does not guarantee a lifetime job or that teachers cannot be fired for cause after they receive tenure; it merely guarantees a teacher cannot be fired for arbitrary reasons unrelated to job requirements, such as not smiling right or not agreeing with the whims of administrators, students and parents, or not pleasing colleagues who may accuse them of not being collegial enough, or being too abrasive, or too blunt, or forceful, or whatever. Had I not had tenure I would have been run out of teaching in less than 10 years.
While fraud, waste and abuse should be eradicated in all state and federal governmental agencies, and private companies, including the US military-industrial complex, through better management practices and techniques, neither this fraud, waste and abuse nor labor unions is the primary cause of the budget deficits and debt of US governments since 1980. Elected Republican politicians spending taxpayer money on new programs and military actions and reducing the revenue of the federal government by trillions of dollars by lowering the taxes of large corporations and the elite rich are primary causes.
Root Causes of American Uncompetitiveness
What caused American car manufacturers to become uncompetitive was not pernicious or unethical behavior on the part of unions. Unions merely did what was rational to negotiate enough money to enable their members to achieve middle class standards of living. The main cause of the American auto industry, and many others, such as the steel industry, becoming relatively less competitive was inevitable Earthian industrial evolution that turned against the US and began to work in favor of relatively poor nations that industrialized. Unions became scapegoats obscuring the fact the US was losing more and more economic games in global competition through no fault of Americans, even American CEOs.
Since 1980 wages in the US increased relatively little as private-sector employers increased health insurance costs to workers and eliminated their defined benefit pension plans, while sending millions of their jobs to newly industrialized low-wage countries. This caused non-unionized wage earners to become resentful or jealous of union workers, schoolteachers, bureaucrats and others in the US with decent health insurance, defined benefit pension plans and more security, and dignity.
So, now that hundreds of thousands of good unionized well-paying middle class jobs in the auto industry have been wiped out with new collective bargaining contracts cutting the wages and benefits of new auto workers in half, are non-union workers happy? No, they now want to wipe out collective bargaining for schoolteachers and everyone else in the “public” sector. Will this do them any good? No! It will simply pull all workers down to their level.
An alternative, of course, would be to reenergize labor unions for all private and public workers to give all workers more power to negotiate with their betters in the upper echelons of their organizations, be they large public corporations or government bureaucracies. Rather than pull down everyone in the less than upper class, raise everyone in the less than upper class and pull down the upper class, making things more fair and egalitarian. This would not “Get America Back on Track” or cause America to gain market share against competitors in global markets, but it would as least make American life more fair, rational and satisfying.
Unfortunately this probably won’t happen until the upper class has spent its last dollar buying propaganda in mainstream media trying to convince everyone in the less than upper class this will cause them to go to hell.
The American Dream has been transformed since 1980 by voters and politicians into a polarized American Nightmare; and the case can be made Americans and other nationalities also have been living in dream worlds in more ways than one for several decades.
Americans, Canadians, Australians, Japanese, Western Europeans, Brits, Irish, Greeks and others, some 1.5 billion or so people of 7 billion or so now alive on Earth, have had much higher average incomes than other nationalities for decades because of luckily inheriting historical advantages such as better or more natural resources, infrastructures, industrial facilities, technology, educational institutions, philosophies, governments, legal systems, and cultures, endowing them with competitive advantages around Earth through relatively little merit or virtue of their own, as a birth right.
Those competitive advantages have been eroding for decades through inevitable natural evolutionary processes, as hitherto relatively poor nations got richer by educating their populations and industrializing, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, and becoming able to manufacture anything manufacturable, with much cheaper workers than exist in relatively rich nations.
When the supply of anything, caused by industrialization or anything else, goes up more than demand goes up price goes down, including the price of labor. This means the incomes of workers of all sorts, including the incomes of workers doing construction work, reading and manipulating numbers on computer screens, arguing with politicians, arguing with voters, tending machine tools, welding, figuring income taxes, teaching students, making loans, giving legal advice, growing crops, mowing grass, or doing anything productive in relatively rich nations, must relatively go down over time because of ineluctable iron laws of supply and demand around Earth, as relatively poor nations industrialize and put in productive work another billion or so of their surplus populations.
If all factors of production of equal quality in all nations cost the same except labor the nations with the cheapest labor will gain market share in global competition over time, causing layoffs or wage cuts in nations with the highest-priced labor, assuming free and fair trade exists in a global capitalistic economic system.
Concurrently all nations would be at risk of economic losses caused by the pernicious effects of on-going population increases, resource depletions and global warming.
This is gruesome competition for the long run. It’s neither fair nor unfair. It’s just the way it is, until Earthians make serious changes in the ways they live, work and do business.
But what is definitely not fair or acceptable in the short run is for all citizens in relatively rich nations to take a pay cut except the upper class, as happened in the US after 1980.
President Bill Clinton on Growth vs. Austerity
Former US President Bill Clinton made some cogent comments June 7, 2012 on the Public TV News Hour talking with Judy Woodruff: he said the question is whether to have austerity now and growth later or growth now and austerity later, having no doubt it’s far better to have growth now with low interest rates and more spending, not just in the US but in Europe. I agreed completely, but in addition to that, it seems to me federal income tax rates should be reset back to 1981 levels ASAP, to provide funding for infrastructure jobs to jump-start the US economy back to full employment in the short run, before it’s too late. For more detail regarding Clinton’s interview see http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/06/two-views-of-the-economy-add-up-to-two-different-worlds.html
Many millions of Americans have experienced serious austerity since 1981 caused by corporations sending their jobs to low wage countries and losing jobs because of recessions and the automating and computerizing of work formerly done by humans. Millions of Americans lost middle class jobs after 1980 and were only able find lower class jobs to replace them, or perhaps several lower class temporary jobs, taking large permanent cuts in income. The US currently has over 4 million long-term unemployed workers, people looking for work more than 27 weeks.
As I pointed out on this Ship’s Log webpage last year resetting the income taxes of large corporations and the elite rich back to 1981 levels will not significantly decrease aggregate demand because this class has so much money it can afford all the consumer goods it wants and needs regardless of tax increases. Raising its taxes will not cause it to spend less on investment goods since aggregate demand is already too low to entice investment. If you cannot sell more goods because of low aggregate demand there will be no investment to produce new jobs in the private sector, since large corporations and the elite rich are not in the business of doing charity work piling up unsellable inventory.
It’s only fair the upper class should give back some of the trillions of dollars of booty their political representatives provided them through lower tax rates and loopholes after 1980.
The British have shown what austerity now, as recommended by US Republicans, will do. It will put the US economy back into a recession, as happened in the last year in Britain, where the Brits are now, under the rule of Tories, the equivalent of US Republicans. As I pointed out on this Ship’s Log webpage in 2011, austerity now could do worse than put the world back into a recession: it could cause another Great Depression.
Austerity must come sooner or later for all relatively rich nations, but, for Pete’s sake, don’t start it right now in the US, with the Earthian economy on the brink of collapse, by voting into the White House and Congress in 2012 mindless, irresponsible, self-serving, power-hungry right wing Republican ideologues bent on not only not raising taxes for their sugar daddies in the upper class but cutting their taxes even more, putting even more money in their pockets—while promiscuously cutting government spending, including the incomes and jobs of barely middle class efficient government workers doing necessary work, who will have less money to spend, depriving small businesses of purchases those laid off government workers would have made, possibly causing small businesses to lay off workers or shut down, setting in motion a negative multiplier effect in the economy at large reducing aggregate demand, possibly bringing on a serious depression, in the short run.
Almost all Republicans in both the US senate and house have signed a pledge created by a Washington lobbyist, of all things, Grover Glen Norquist, to adamantly oppose increasing federal income tax rates for any reason, presumably forever. You don’t get much more mindless and irresponsible than that. Is that what we taxpayers are paying elected representatives in Washington to do, especially if you and I voted for their better-qualified opponents who lost their unfair political races because of the votes of uninformed credulous narcissistic voters?
Paul Krugman on Growth vs. Austerity
Economics is only a matter of probability and to win you have to make better bets than your competitors. No one knows with certainty what to do about all economic problems, even Paul Krugman, a Princeton professor and economist with whom I have agreed since the Bush II years, who is a columnist for the New York Times and one of the most cogent and influential economists in the world today. Krugman has unflinchingly stuck by his guns that most of the current debt problem of the US was caused by the Reagan and Bush II tax cuts and military spending on two unnecessary wars started by Bush II.
I just saw and heard Krugman June 18, 2012 talking with Paul Solman in a book review/interview on the PBS News Hour, in which Krugman reiterated his judgment that the US needs massive stimulation to get out of what he now calls a depression in his new book, titled End This Depression Now! He is talking about stimulation equivalent to what was required to get the US out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, entailing creating infrastructure jobs approximating in scale and scope those created by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration and the military spending of WWII. Krugman said in the PBS interview what he calls a depression is getting worse by the day.
I agree infrastructure jobs is the key to increasing aggregate demand necessary to jumpstart jobs to get out of the current depression, if this really is a depression. I’m not sure I agree we are in a depression; but without doubt our current economic state of affairs is ominous and strange, whatever it is.
Since interest rates have been almost rock bottom for several years I cannot imagine how they could be lowered much lower or how spending can be dramatically increased without raising taxes given the current deficit and debt. Krugman did not mention resetting income tax rates back to 1981 levels for the upper class to provide funding for infrastructure jobs. Nor do I remember John Maynard Keynes advocating raising the income taxes of the upper class during the Great Depression of the 1930s to create infrastructure jobs. Regardless, it seems to me based on my reading of economic history resetting income tax rates back to 1981 levels is appropriate in our circumstances now since it will provide funding for infrastructure jobs and will not significantly reduce aggregate demand, as I have explained several times in the last two years on this Ship’s Log webpage.
For more detail regarding Krugman’s interview with Solman June 18 see www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/.
The Great Depression of the 1930s
Having taught economic history three years at Texas Tech in Lubbock working on my doctorate during 1966-1969 being born in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1940 but growing up in Northwest Texas starting out in a frame farmhouse at age four on a dry land farm with no indoor plumbing and no electricity working under my father Richard Gathright Maury Stapleton who was born in East Texas but raised in New Mexico and Oklahoma who was severely traumatized by the Great Depression of the 1930s and who instilled in me his fear of economic depressions I have no desire to experience a Great Depression with 30 percent unemployment with displaced people scattered around the US living in Hooverville shanty towns, with hungry hoboes tramping about pleading for any kind of work around a yard, house or farm to compensate for a meal provided by a housewife with a little food left over in her kitchen from the last meal she scraped together for her impoverished family.
A similar thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago for the first time in my life. My wife Debbye and I were in Vidalia, Georgia one hour from where we live in Statesboro on a Friday afternoon tending to business related to her parents’ death and dying. I was sitting on the back patio of their home, which they built in 1960, a split-level 3300 square foot Frank Lloyd Wright-type structure custom designed by an Atlanta architect, situated on three acres covered in centipede grass, mowed all those years under the supervision of Debbye’s mother, studded with pine, pecan, magnolia and dogwood trees.
Debbye’s mother died about a year ago and her father age 90 now lives with his son and his wife in Aiken, South Carolina.
The house has been vacant and on the real estate market for over a year without a single interested prospective buyer. Debbye said for years the house and three acres on Center Drive, in what used to be best neighborhood in Vidalia, was worth at least $200,000, but she would now sell it for $130,000 if she could.
I took my self-propelled walk-behind lawn mower with us to Vidalia that day in the back of my 2001 Volvo station wagon and cut some bahia grass seed stems that were sticking up on the three acres. Centipede grass grows slowly and produces few unsightly seed stems so most of the yard did not have to be mowed. The yard still looks fairly good considering it has not had much attention since Debbye’s mother died.
This scenario is far from untypical. Millions of what used to be successful middle class people who had a taste of the American Dream will never be replaced. Small towns and cities in the rural South have been especially hard hit since 2007.
About sunset I heard this person walking around the side of the house saying he lived down the hill in an apartment and he wondered if we had any work he could do. He was a clean-cut young man in his twenties or early thirties who appeared to be a well-educated good citizen. He said he was willing to do any kind of repair or yard work, painting, carpentry, lawn mowing, whatever. I told him my wife had already hired some people to work on the house and mow the grass but she might need someone else. I took him inside and introduced him to Debbye who had been working that afternoon sorting out pictures, books, china, silverware and such for a yard sale.
She told him to write his name and telephone number down on a sheet of paper telling him she would contact him if she needed anything. As I walked with him back toward his old car he told me he was unemployed and nobody was hiring and he was out trying to find any kind of work to earn some money to get something together for supper for his family. He said his mother-in-law lived with them and she was mean and crazy. He showed me a picture of his daughter on his cell phone. I think he was sincere and his story was true and he was doing what it behooved him to do given his circumstances. I slipped him a $20 bill to get something together for supper.
As I have pointed out in Business Voyages and on this Ship’s Log webpage for over a year cutting government spending will reduce aggregate demand and will create more unemployment, increasing the probability of a depression; and not raising taxes for large corporations and the elite rich now to raise revenue to create infrastructure jobs to jump-start the economy back to full employment and ameliorate governmental budget problems will also increase the chances of a depression, assuming doing and not doing this has not already caused a depression.
It’s unfortunate, and risky, that the US has to continue deficit spending to defend against or cure a depression, thereby piling up even more debt; but that seems to be the reality of the situation. Faced with more deficit spending or falling off a catastrophic cliff, it seems to me the decision is pretty much a no-brainer.
Assuming more stimulation works and the US ever gets back on an even keel, all American citizens, voters, government workers, the military-industrial complex, and especially bankers and politicians, have got to get serious about creating a rational and fair management system that will cure the overall problem of long-term deficit spending and the piling up of more and more debt; but austerity now is the riskiest bet of all, analogous to cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The Looming US Presidential Election of 2012
Since I am about as powerless as the average American all I can do is recommend what I think is right on my Internet webpage, which I have the power to write, edit, control and publish, and hope for the best. Hopefully we shall not all go down with the ship if Romney wins in November, or even if Obama wins.
As I emphasized in Business Voyages, President Bill Clinton, with Al Gore’s help, was the only US president since 1980 to actually run a yearly budget surplus, in 2000, at the end of his eight years in office. Republicans cannot gainsay this happened because of implementing their simplistic disingenuous ideologies, dogmas and doctrines before Clinton took office. Let us not forget this.
In my opinion, President Obama is a much better bet than Governor Romney for president in November 2012. Vote for Obama to increase the probability the US shall avoid another serious depression and we the people of the US shall make progress toward co-constructing a more fair, just and sustainable world. In my opinion, you should not vote for a Green Party candidate or anyone else in any minor party in this presidential election, given the stakes of the game, since you will simply waste your vote, increasing the probability Romney shall win, thereby increasing the chances of a major depression, larger budget deficits, a higher rate of debt increase, greater income inequality, and more frustration and resentment among increasingly befuddled polarized citizens, as Romney reads from the same script and uses the same mental map used by Reagan and Bush II.
It’s not so much the physical and personality characteristics, intelligence, ability, or even the character of politicians that count after they get into office; the most important consideration is the baggage they carry into office with them, campaign promises made to rich contributors. Both candidates will carry into office with them in 2013 such promises: but I am willing to bet Obama’s promises will be less detrimental for the less than upper class than Romney’s.
Support the USVRA
For the long run I am convinced we the people need to amend the US Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College system of counting votes in presidential elections, creating in the process more direct democracy, more voter participation in policy-making, paper ballots and write-in options, greater voter responsibility and competence, and less voter suppression, as proposed by the US Voters’ Rights Amendment, authored by my long-time friend William John Cox, a retired prosecutor and current public interest lawyer and activist living in Long Beach, California.
Wm Cox and I were in the first grade together and sat in the same Methodist Sunday School class at Wolfforth, Texas, a town with a population of 200 or so in 1946 built adjacent to a railroad track, a stockyard and a grain elevator on the South Plains of Texas, containing also two cotton gins, two grocery stores, a lumber yard, a blacksmith shop, two filling stations, a garage, a butane distributor, a Methodist Church and a Baptist Church, a red brick schoolhouse with a playground, and a public library in a one room frame building, with a paved highway running through town parallel to the railroad track.
Kids in the town had it pretty good. We could wander around unsupervised by adults wherever we wanted, play ball, ride bicycles, make forts and such, walk outside town for two or three miles to explore native buffalo grass pastures not yet turned under for cotton fields, buy a pop or a Baby Ruth or a Snicker or some peanuts at the filling stations for a nickel, and climb in, around and over railroad freight cars sidetracked near the stockyard, or go swing in the swings at the school playground, tall ones with chains 15 or so feet long. You might even check yourself out some sort of adventure book at the library or buy a funny book at the store.
However relatively lucky or unlucky we might have been, most of us give some thought to our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats daily, and we keep on learning and doing, which requires courage and work, among many other things.
Given the magnitude and insidiousness of the ecological, religious, political, educational, military, psychological, sociological, scientific, technological, and economic storms now tormenting, distressing, frustrating, threatening and worrying people in various degrees here and there around Earth and the storms predicted ahead the optimum strategy for most of us in the roughest seas as always will be to batten down the hatches and hope for a better day.
In case you might have wondered, I do have some experience as a sea captain of sorts. I kept my own sailboats at marinas on Wilmington Island near Savannah for several years during the 1970s and 80s, and I sailed in the Atlantic.
No one knows what our worlds will be like after our current storms are over . . . in ten years, or twenty years . . . or in any number of years . . . you and I might imagine . . . out into the unknown.
Be sure and check the weather reports before you set sail and use good charts and maps. It’s easy to run aground or get lost if you’ve never been where you think you’re going.
Please read the details of the USVRA and register your support at www.usvra.us.
Please sail this Business Voyages Ship’s Log webpage on the free and open Earthian Internet as far and wide as you can see by emailing this webpage address: http://www.effectivelearning.net/Business_Voyages_Ships.html
April 15, 2012
Ethical Behavior In Business And Politics
Doing The Right Thing In 2012
My book Business Voyages includes information dealing with relevant issues in business education and practice: Information and procedures for teaching business ethics; information and exercises for constructing business plans, explaining how the EOQ model integrates all functional areas for businesses with inventories; longitudinal research data providing evidence the case method really is the best method for teaching and learning business; data and analysis I published in the Journal of Management Education showing student teacher evaluation forms (SETs) filled out by students should always include study production, learning production, and relative expected grades questions to provide a modicum of fairness for professors teaching in all academic areas using different teaching methods; and a 130-page summary essay in which I pulled no punches criticizing what I think went wrong with real world business in the US after 1980.
Student Evaluations of Business Teachers
Please see my article “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations: A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production and Expected Grades,” published in the Journal of Management Education in 2001, substantiating the above assertion about student evaluations, easily found with a Google search. According to the last count I saw by Sage Publications on the Internet this article has been cited in 39 professional articles. I published a case using the data of this article in Business Voyages, titled “Games Educators Play”, in which I explained my concept of academic alchemy—administrators using student evaluations to make some poor teachers look like good teachers and some good teachers look like poor teachers.
The Case Method and Business Ethics
I reprinted in Business Voyages two articles I researched and wrote that were originally published in the Organizational Behavior Teaching Review (now the Journal of Management Education) and the Transactional Analysis Journal, containing original contributions to entrepreneurship teaching and practice, such as using the case method to simulate competitive business markets in class to train entrepreneurship students to function in small business markets, and an application of transactional analysis that makes business students and practitioners aware of the nature and significance of family, personal and business scripts, introjected into and co-constructed in the brains of people from birth, that often psychologically determine whether people win or lose in business—regardless of cognitive knowledge they might learn in school or through adult business experience. Business Voyages provides insight into winner, loser and banal scripts, a winner being someone who achieves personal goals and objectives.
I am the only business professor I am aware of who has any quantitative longitudinal research data providing evidence his teaching worked for former students in their careers, documented in Business Voyages.
I taught no less than two case method courses in entrepreneurship, small business, operations management, organizational behavior, information systems, control, or business policy in 50 minute face to face classes every quarter or semester from July 1970 through May 2005, at which time my wife—Deborah Coleman Stapleton—an emeritus Georgia Southern mathematics professor—and I started Stapleton Learning Company and Effective Learning Company, offering mathematics and business tutoring and consulting, books and learning products.
I taught at least one course of case method BA 450–Business Policy & Strategy–almost every quarter or semester throughout my academic career; and here I am still teaching business policy on the Internet at age 71, just for the fun of it. I was the senior professor of our business school for the last 15 years of my academic career, having been promoted to full professor at age 36.
Every case discussion every day in all my courses involved ethical decisions in which students were required to discuss and decide how to do the right thing in a business situation that had actually happened.
Business Skylab Conference
As written in the first line of the Preface I wrote Business Voyages over 40 years since it includes pieces I wrote at various stages of my academic career, even including one piece I wrote for a doctoral course in 1968 at Texas Tech University, titled “Business Skylab Conference”, in which I imagined what would happen if a group of business professors and practitioners were to have a conference in a secret skylab orbiting Earth that would enable them to scientifically observe from outer space human specimens doing business on Earth (somewhat like biologists study specimens on slides under microscopes), using a macroscope that could be adjusted to various levels of specificity, zooming into view business phenomena deemed relevant by participants. The most hotly discussed issue among the Business Skylab participants was salaries for different business majors and which major they thought was best. One accounting professor was adamant accounting was superior to economics, management, marketing, finance and all the rest. Most of the participants were glad to get back down to Earth after the conference was over, while some preferred to stay in outer space.
My senior case method capstone Business Policy course according to longitudinal research I documented in Business Voyages was ranked the most valuable course in the Georgia Southern business school during 1972-1987 by a sample of business graduates a colleague and I surveyed in 1992, making sure the respondents had at least five years’ experience applying what they learned in our business school in the real world before they evaluated business courses they had taken for our survey. Sophomore and junior level accounting, economics and marketing principles courses were ranked in the top four most valuable courses. All courses in our business school were ranked in this list, documented in Business Voyages. The respondents were unaware I was involved in the research since the colleague signed the cover letter.
Respondents who chose case method courses reported higher mean incomes than respondents who avoided case method courses, documented in Business Voyages.
Real World Business
I started writing my 130-page summary essay in Business Voyages, titled “On Living With and Changing Worlds,” in 2003, finally finishing the book in 2011, and I documented errors and excesses of the Bush II administration as events happened. I was convinced their neoconservative ideologies and fantasies would be disastrous, and their chickens would come home to roost, as they have.
I first published Business Voyages in 2008 and I have revised it three times since, the last edition being published in 2011.
I predicted humans shall be forced to use something like linear programming to schedule and distribute the necessities of life around Earth at some point in centuries hence, if they are merely to survive, much less experience peaceful and satisfying lives, given trends in global warming, resource depletion and population growth, implying humans are on a collision course given business policies and strategies now applied around Earth.
Hopefully humans shall be able to maintain market systems for goods and services beyond necessities in the distant future. It seems to me all humans should have the right forever to start new small businesses to contribute to society, or to make some extra spending money, or get rich, just for the fun of it.
I have degrees in economics, organizational behavior, and management science, and a certification in transactional analysis.
I started in my hometown at age 22 in 1963 a weekly newspaper the Wolfforth-Frenship Gazette, a fire and casualty insurance agency, a real estate brokerage, and a mortgage loan brokerage, Rick Stapleton Agency, which I managed with employees and a profit for two years, documented in Business Voyages.
I decided home town life was not what it used to be, so I sold my small businesses and went back to graduate school, planning to explore the world after getting an MBA. Near the end of my MBA studies I was offered a part-time instructorship in economics. I taught a course called American Economic History—Eco 133—at Texas Tech during 1966-1969, two courses every fall and spring semester for three academic years, to finance my doctoral studies, documented in Business Voyages.
Getting Started in Business Teaching
When I went to Georgia Southern in 1970 the business faculty there had recently added a new course in small business management, which I was assigned to teach, since I had started and run small businesses of my own, having been born and reared in a successful entrepreneurial family, documented in Business Voyages. There had been a good bit of argument about whether such a course should be added to the business curriculum at Georgia Southern. Some faculty members argued it should not be added because business was business in businesses of any size. I did not have a strong conviction about this issue at the time.
I became convinced however as time went by there is a big difference between small business and big business, the biggest difference being that small business owners now average about $75,000 per year in income and hired CEO employees of large public corporations average about $2,000,000 per year in income.
Applying Business Techniques in Politics
I published December 25, 2011 a 13,648-word essay titled WHAT DO DON QUIXOTE, ECONOMIC HISTORY, STEVE JOBS, BILL GATES, THE INTERNET, GOOGLE, AMAZON.COM, BUSINESS VOYAGES, CORPORATE AMERICA, MAINSTREAM MEDIA, THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY, HOLLYWOOD, OCCUPY WALL STREET, AND THE CASE METHOD HAVE IN COMMON?: SOLVE PROBLEMS BY ATTACKING ROOT CAUSES INSTEAD OF TILTING WINDMILLS, in which I asserted Corporate America has done us wrong and needs to improve; and the way we the people should attack root causes to cure the problem in this case now is to vote for no Republican political candidates in federal elections until federal income tax rates for large corporations and the elite rich are raised back to where they were in 1981, to provide funding for infrastructure jobs necessary to jump-start the US economy back to full employment.
Sure, some good politicians would unfairly be jettisoned if this across the board political personnel restructuring program should be implemented, but these are hard times and the health and functioning of the US as a whole is far more important than the personal ego trips of individual politicians. Most of them are rich already, so they won’t suffer if they lose their jobs, unlike millions of US citizens who lost their jobs for economic reasons after 1980.
Voting Like a Federal Politician
Most politicians in Washington have been bought and paid for by large corporations, and the US federal government has become increasingly dysfunctional because of greed and mindless party line voting. One way we the people of the US can help solve the problem now is by mindless party line voting ourselves, making no attempt to discriminate between good and bad politicians, voting for only one party at a time to out place or send home all incumbent politicians in a few years, which will teach federal politicians they should at least use common sense when they cast their votes, attempting to do what is right for we the people, rather than themselves, their party and their corporate patrons.
Using the same harsh medicine corporate CEOs and their minions in the US used downsizing, rightsizing, out placing, out sourcing, or otherwise firing and terminating employees since 1981, sending their jobs to low wage countries or replacing them with robots and computers to put more profit on the bottom lines of their corporations, to enrich themselves with bonuses, we the people of the US should now replace all incumbent politicians in Washington for the good of the country and to increase our security and peace of mind, if not our bonuses; and the first to go should be Republicans, since they are more to blame for causing the morass and paralysis in Washington than Democrats.
Freedom is not free, especially in large corporations, where everybody is a lackey to somebody.
Please read my Don Quixote essay posted on my Ship’s Log web page at www.effectivelearning.net for more insight into the insidiousness of this problem. Better yet, buy and read my book Business Voyages.
Correcting Ethical Abominations
One of the most disastrous ethical abominations now polluting the US business environment is the Citizens United case of 2010 in which right-wing Republican US Supreme Court judges absurdly decided in their 5-4 decision that corporations are people and have rights of free speech, entitling said corporations to spend as much corporate money as their CEOs wish on political advertising to get their cronies elected. Another major ethical contaminant, probably the worst of all, is large public corporations spending billions of dollars on lobbyists in Washington and propaganda in mainstream media to change the rates, rules and laws of business, especially tax rates, rules and laws, in their favor at the expense of others, as they have successfully accomplished since 1981. Those rates, rules and laws should be reset back to 1981 to protect the interests of we the people of the US.
Pandering to the Republican Base
I was appalled by absurd inane economic analyses and strategies pontificated by the Republican candidates as I watched the 2012 Republican primary debates. Are these candidates really as dumb as they seem or are they faking being dumb to say what they think their Republican “base” wants to hear?
They still expect the American people or at least the Republican base to believe cutting taxes for large corporations and the elite rich, bashing labor unions and increasing military spending will cure all that ails the US economy. They expect us to believe continuing to do the things that caused our current economic, social and political nightmare will make it go away.
To acquire political power necessary to reduce the income taxes of large public corporations and the elite rich by trillions of dollars wealthy well-educated cynical elites in the Republican Party since 1981 have shamelessly manipulated and exploited fears, hatreds and superstitions of lower income less educated frustrated Republicans in an unholy alliance, telling them they believe criminalizing or eliminating red herrings such as abortions, gay marriages, gun control laws and drugs will somehow magically cause their lives to be less insecure, impoverished and banal—and these same stories have been recycled in the Republican primary debates, stoking fires of hatred, irrationality and tribalism. That such voodoo feeling, thinking and manipulating could eventually help transform the US into a third world country is apparently irrelevant to the Republican presidential candidates and their cronies.
Rather than vote to reset tax rates back to optimal 1981 levels to help the plight of the unemployed and the underpaid, Republicans have told them they can have all the guns they want.
It’s as if the Republican presidential candidates have little or no knowledge of US economic history or macro economic cause-effect relationships—such as the causes, consequences and cures of the Great Depression of the 1930s, or the specter of the Great Depression now haunting Earth, as I documented several times in 2011 on this Ship’s Log web page.
Worse, more and more Americans are probably becoming less and less knowledgeable about the facts of US economic history as they read the torrent of right wing propaganda published in letters to the editor in newspapers caused by the presidential race. Most of these letters are devoid of facts and logical reasoning, being based on nothing more than ideological dogma and doctrine, loaded with empty slogans and smear words designed to threaten citizens who do not believe the beliefs of the writer and denigrate or defame citizens advocating different views. Many of these letters are written in angry, self-righteous paternalistic omniscient tones as if prophets had carved them in stone. Their writers apparently believe if they can threaten or manipulate people in mainstream media into believing or pretending to believe something is true then it is true and the more people they can convince the truer it gets.
Unfortunately a falsehood remains false, regardless of what people pretend to believe about it. And, to paraphrase Mark Twain, politics is rife with lies, lies, and damned lies.
Changing the System
My friend William John Cox, a retired prosecutor, public interest lawyer, author and political activist living in Los Angeles, CA published on February 12, 2012 a Voters’ Rights Amendment he wrote for amending the US constitution to deal with ethical contaminants. For an eye-opening exposure, please read his Voters’ Rights Amendment posted on his websites at www.thevoters.org; www.williamjohncox.com; and www.usvra.us. Logins are not required to read his proposed constitutional amendment in its entirety on these websites.
In addition to eliminating the poisonous consequences of Citizens United with his amendment, Cox recommends requiring citizens to vote; providing hand-countable paper ballots in federal elections on which citizens may write-in candidates for President and Congress, to create truer democracy; and creating regular recurrent referendums in which free US citizens create policy platforms for actions to be taken by elected politicians, providing yardsticks for holding politicians accountable.
I am convinced there are thousands of Americans, myself included, having no obligations to plutocratic political patrons, who could do a better job as president of the US if written in than any of the bought and paid for Republican presidential candidates now cynically pandering, posturing and pontificating on the national American political stage.
The American Class War
Unfortunately the Democratic Obama re-election campaign is now also soliciting PAC (Political Action Committee) support, legalized by Citizens’ United, for the 2012 presidential election, telling us they have to do it in self-defense to compete with PACs supporting Republican politicians. How much quid pro quo government will this cash buy for Democrat plutocrats, at the expense of we the people, after the election?
Yes, I do think we are in a class war. The problem is nobody knows for sure what the classes are, or who started the war.
I think Barack Obama has been a good president making progress in a little over three years despite political obstacles and mistakes; and I hope he is voted back in office for another four years. He generally agrees with my business policies, which I independently developed over 50 years of business experience, research and teaching; and I do not think he will be forced to change his mind about most of them to get things done if reelected. For sure he wouldn’t if eligible voters were to vote in the next four years as I have recommended in this essay.
I shudder to think about what would happen in the next four years if any of the Republican presidential candidates were elected in November 2012. It’s easy to imagine much higher unemployment and Hoovervilles scattered around the country. This could happen if Obama is reelected, but it seems to me it’s much more likely if economic stories told by Republicans in the primary debates come true.
The most dangerous Republican story told over and over is that cutting taxes even more for large corporations and the elite rich and cutting government spending will certainly boost the economy and create jobs. As I pointed out several times last year on my Ship’s Log web page at www.effectivelearning.net this will destroy jobs and cripple the economy if sufficient aggregate demand does not exist for corporations to sell increased output. This policy could actually cause a major depression, since cutting spending reduces aggregate demand and cutting taxes for large corporations and the rich reduces revenue needed for infrastructure jobs to restart the economy. What it certainly will accomplish is increase the monetary campaign contributions of large corporations and the elite rich to Republican politicians, which is the real reason Republicans advocate the policy.
Amend the Constitution
Regardless of what politicians do or don’t do in the short run, I think we the people must take action to correct the inanity, haplessness, corruption and dysfunction in Washington for the long run by changing the system itself—through constitutional amendments. I think the historical record shows our constitution as currently written does not provide processes for automatically correcting the worst political abomination of all—the relentless financial manipulation and exploitation of the entire political system by large public corporations and the elite rich for selfish gains over time, taking from the poor and giving to the rich.
It’s likely business as usual in Washington if uncorrected with constitutional amendments will cause even worse problems for most Americans.
Wm Cox and I were in the first grade together in the Frenship School System at Wolfforth, Texas in 1946, sat in the same Sunday school class, and played on the high school football team. We also had the common experience of living in frame farmhouses without electricity or indoor plumbing on dry-land cotton farms on the South Plains of Texas, documented in Business Voyages. Wm’s Voters’ Rights Amendment has received an amazing positive response from around Earth after it was published on February 12, 2012, as shown at www.usvra.us.
Apparently more and more Americans are comprehending the political predicament they face.
According to William John Cox’s biographical information at wikipedia.com:
“Alleging that control of the United States government had been seized by corporations and special interest groups, Cox filed a class action lawsuit in 1979 on behalf of every American citizen. As a remedy, Cox petitioned the Supreme Court to order the President and Congress to conduct a National Policy Referendum to restore political power to the voters.
“In 2004, Cox’s book, You’re Not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency, was published by the Progressive Press.
“Since retiring in 2007, Cox has dedicated himself to the promotion of a peaceful political evolution. The political movement focuses on: holding a National Policy Referendum every four years coincident with the presidential election; using a national paper ballot to allow voters to personally answer the 12 most critical policy questions; and encouraging voters to write in the name of the candidate they most trust to effectuate their policy.”
The US Supreme Court decided not to hear Wm’s case in 1979; but he showed it’s possible for individuals to do something to change the system for the better, legally and peacefully. His well-written and researched 334-page book contains 883 footnotes citing facts and reasoning from hundreds of credible print and Internet sources documenting errors, excesses, foibles, lies and worse of the Bush II administration. Wm has not given up. And he’s made progress.
Direct Democracy vs. Representative Democracy
Switzerland in my view comes closer to direct democracy today than any country on Earth. The Swiss conduct national referendums every year in which all citizens may vote their decisions to contribute to the creation of national rules, regulations and laws. For example, a Swiss majority recently voted against a proposed law that would provide all Swiss citizens a national six-week paid vacation every year.
There have always been arguments for and against direct democracy. Greeks in Athens created a form of direct democracy in 505 BCE in which all citizens voted on governmental issues. Since that time democracy has waxed and waned over and over in various times and places, and now exists in various forms in various countries at various federal, state, province, canton, county, parish, prefecture, city, town and village levels, with various forms of participation by citizens with respect to various forms of rules, regulations and laws, creating a complex array of combinations and possibilities for citizen participation around Earth.
The United States has never been a true direct democracy. A majority of our founders created and approved a republic-democracy in which citizens would vote for representatives who would vote for or against rules, regulations and laws proposed by legislators in a congress; but citizens would not have a vote about the rules, regulations and laws, as do Swiss citizens.
Opponents of direct democracy in what was to become the US argued such a process would result in a “tyranny of the majority” in which an uneducated immature prejudiced frustrated inconsiderate majority of citizens would enact rules, regulations and laws unnecessarily harmful to minority interests. Then as now in various countries a major concern was and is frustrated immature inconsiderate believers of a dominant religion having enough votes to make their religion a required national religion in a religious tyranny, unnecessarily harming the interests of believers of other religions and non-theists.
Assuming the judgments of the majority of founders of the US were correct with respect to the competence, wisdom, fairness and responsibility of citizens in their time, perhaps such judgments would not be correct today, since hopefully US citizens today are in general better educated, more understanding, more compassionate and more responsible than were their counterparts of the late 18th Century; and therefore today’s citizens would create a better society in a direct democracy than would elected representatives in a republic-democracy.
Democracy in 2012
2011 saw democracy theoretically spreading in North Africa in several countries with their dictators deposed, with a major democratic uprising now in progress against the secular dictatorship in Syria. At issue is what sort of democracy shall these countries create and what laws should they enact? The biggest problem now in every one of these countries is large groups of frustrated prejudiced religious believers attempting to create new constitutions that would enable them to ram their idiosyncratic religious beliefs, rules, regulations and laws down the throats of all would-be citizens, feeling and thinking this would cause their gods to bestow special favors on them. In cases of this nature, there is a very real risk after a dictatorship has been eliminated and democracy is installed there shall happen only one true national democratic vote—the vote establishing a theocracy, or religious tyranny—and true direct democracy, and real freedom, shall then be banished from the land, until another revolution occurs, as happened in Iran when the US-backed Shah was deposed in 1979.
Various states of the US have provisions in their constitutions legalizing referendums for direct voter participation or a form of direct democracy for certain issues. A major disadvantage is that popular votes on such things as taxes may cripple a government, such as the referendum in California that reduced property taxes so much it starved the state government of operating funds, contributing to an untenable debt problem. Since most people instinctively fear and hate taxes there is danger a direct democracy could wind up with no funding to govern anything, since theoretically an irresponsible poorly educated frustrated citizen majority could vote to eliminate all taxes.
Raising taxes is probably the toughest thing ethical responsible mature governments have to do to help insure that all citizens shall experience a modicum of satisfaction in their lives.
The Voters’ Rights Amendment
I recommend William John Cox’s Voters’ Rights Amendment for creating truer more direct democracy in the US to deal with the current “tyranny of the minority” in the US, created by large corporations and the elite rich who unnecessarily caused trillions of dollars of US federal debt to be accumulated since 1981 for selfish reasons, whom are now starving the US federal government of tax revenue to jump-start the economy back to full employment.
I am willing to bet a majority of US citizens would vote to reset US business tax rates, rules and regulations back to 1981, wisely and fairly established by our parents and grandparents, if they could participate in a game-free democratic dialectical discussion fully considering and discussing the probable causes, consequences and cures of our current economic dilemma.
Republicans Won the Class War
If only real conservatives had won the US economic class war since 1981 and US tax rates, rules, regulations and laws established by 1981 by our wisest ancestors had been conserved. Instead Republican neoconservatives won the class war; and they used their newly acquired political power to change rates, rules, regulations and laws established by 1981 to satisfy their selfish interests and desires. The neoconservatives were possibly the most immature, rapacious, violent, uninformed and irresponsible political sect in US history, borrowing and spending federal money after 1980 like rampaging drunken cowboys just off the trail, shooting up Dodge City just for the hell of it.
If you doubt this, just take a look at how much the total US federal debt increased percentage-wise during the Reagan and Bush II years, relative to other US administrations. The Reagan Administration during 1981-1988 was the most profligate and reckless administration in US history, increasing the US federal debt in eight years by 200 percent, from $1 trillion to $3 trillion, writing the script for the Bush II neoconservative orgy of borrowing, spending and violence during 2001-2008.
Democracy—Past, Present and Future
For more information about the history of democracy, direct democracy, referendums in Switzerland and the like all you have to do is type these terms into Google and read some of the sources or watch and listen to some of the U-tube videos that will appear on your screen. As the Swiss lament, direct democracy has its disadvantages, requiring time and homework for citizens to competently and peacefully participate running their nation. On the other hand, the Swiss majority obviously thinks direct democracy is the best system, producing satisfactory results for most citizens, otherwise they would have changed the system in a yearly referendum.
I think we need more direct democracy in the US, which would necessitate more face-to-face discussion and participation among citizens in meetings to figure out how to rationally deal with current problems. I spent my academic career conducting democratic case method discussions with students to figure out what to do about factual business problems. As pointed out in the Switzerland literature on the Internet one of the problems of direct democracy is how to conduct discussions in meetings in such a way that all citizens have a fair chance to speak up about what they think. One of the Swiss approaches was to randomly select participants in meetings to start discussions, which is what I resorted to in my classes to start case method discussions, using what I called a Classroom De-Gamer™, pictured at the top of this web page, explained in a Transactional Analysis Journal article titled “The Classroom De-Gamer,” reprinted in Business Voyages.
My book De-Gaming Teaching and Learning, offered by Effective Learning Publications at www.effectivelearning.net, explains concepts, principles and processes useful for de-gaming participatory discussions in groups and organizations. The book is concerned about psychological games—fake wars people play day in and day out to acquire structure, stimulus and recognition in their personal interactions with others—that entail persecutors, rescuers, and victims interacting with one another around a drama triangle in homemade soap operas. The US Republican presidential primary race of 2012 has produced the most game-infested spectacle I have seen, largely devoid of rational, honest, truthful participatory discussion, designed to dazzle, titillate, excite, manipulate and pacify befuddled frustrated passive sheeple on a drama triangle, positioning presidential candidates on the drama triangle as the would-be President of the United States, the most significant rescuer and persecutor on Earth, having unfortunately the power to play games with real wars, as did Johnson, Reagan and Bush II.
What we need in the US to create truer democracy is a Political De-Gamer to facilitate citizen discussions giving all citizens a chance to participate in meetings to honestly and truthfully figure out in a calm rational peaceful extended open communication process what to do about the political problems of the US. What we have now are elected politicians and bureaucrats creating rules, regulations and laws with their cronies in isolated closed groups, playing games to enhance their personal political power and careers. In many cases when they do take into account what they think a majority of citizens really want the real reason is because they think doing so will help them get reelected, not because they think the rule, regulation or law is really best for the country, state, county, or city. Thus even our republic-democracy may create a tyranny of the majority.
Giving Back to Your Country
If you or your group or organization would like to consult with me free of charge about how to de-game participatory discussion groups call me on my cell phone at 912-687-5049. I will arrange to meet with you in my office at Stapleton Learning Company or in any public meeting place barring scheduling and transportation problems and expenses.
Some of us have long attention spans and we have not forgotten what happened in real businesses or in our business schools as we practiced and taught business from 1962 to now.
Although there have been many millions of excellent and ethical US businesses of all sizes doing the right thing in business markets in the last half century, with a smattering of rotten apples tainting the barrel, one can build a strong case based on a long list of cases that business ethics have degenerated in the US; and ethical business educators and citizens now more than ever should devote thought and research to considering how they teach and practice business; what students of business need to learn; what their attitudes and policies should be regarding large public corporations and the elite rich bent on financially manipulating and exploiting our political system for selfish gains; and what they might do to improve the economic, political and social environment for all Earthians, now and in the long run.
Business Voyages provides food for thought for such a process.
Please forward this message on the free and open Earthian Internet to free citizens and would-be free citizens sailing in all directions.
“The world is all that is the case”….WITTGENSTEIN
“So he had grown rich at last, and thought to transmit to his only son all the cut-and-dried experience which he himself had purchased at the price of his lost illusions; a noble last illusion of age”….BALZAC
December 25, 2011 Business Voyages Ship’s Log Posting Richard John Stapleton www.effectivelearning.net
All Hands On Deck
As usual in the past year we have passed through some adverse winds, currents and storms. The US stock market has sunk and floated back up again yet it threatens to sink again at any time because of debt problems of the governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, maybe France, and banks therein. Like people everywhere they have borrowed more than they should and are having trouble paying the money back. If they default there is danger all Earthian economies could plunge into a major depression. The US Federal Reserve recently decided it could print even more money if necessary and offered to throw the Europeans a lifeline if they are in danger of drowning. We Americans are sailing along fairly smoothly in financial markets at the moment, despite our 8.6 percent unemployment, but we could encounter a perfect storm at any time. I can’t imagine the US Federal Reserve could possibly print enough funny money to keep Europe afloat if they all start sinking at once, especially when you consider the US is not fully seaworthy itself. Its derelict Congress failed to create a sensible plan for dealing with the US budget deficit and debt, deciding to do nothing and let nature take its course until automatic changes are made in 2013, after the presidential election of 2012, which has a couple of silver linings.
The Bush II tax cuts for large corporations and the elite rich will automatically expire in 2012 and military spending will automatically be cut about $500 billion over 10 years, per the Budget Control Act of 2011 passed in August 2011, and this will help cure federal financial problems. The US Congress and President Obama just today December 23, 2011 passed a bill that will enable the $1000 yearly “payroll tax” cut to stay in effect two more months, overpowering opposing know nothing Tea Party Ultimate Grinch Republicans in the House, providing a Christmas present for 160 million Americans. What politicians and mainstream media talkers and writers have been calling “payroll taxes” are actually FICA or Federal Insurance Contributions Act contributions, that is contributions people make toward their Social Security which will now not be added to the Social Security Trust Fund for their retirement for two more months and which will not be used to pay current bills of the federal government, adding to its deficit and debt $160 million thousand per year, or $160,000,000,000, that is $160 billion per year. The two-month Christmas present extension is worth $26.6 billion ($160 billion/12×2). Instead of calling FICA contributions what they are politicians want to call them “payroll taxes” since politicians in effect are simply taking the FICA contributions to pay current bills of the federal government rather than let them accumulate for Social Security retirements in the Social Security Trust Fund. Many Republicans and mainstream media talkers and writers would have you believe FICA contributions are nothing more than “payroll taxes” for paying current bills of the federal government and there is no such thing as a Federal Insurance Contributions Act or a Social Security Trust Fund, which has accumulated about $2.6 trillion since FICA was passed in 1935, which was lent to the US government and legally should be paid back when needed for Social Security recipients.
The US Republican primary debates are a farce, madmen and one madwoman strutting and fretting their hour on the US national political stage saying nothing of significance, all having mastered the art of never answering a question with a straight answer. When asked something like “Will the sun come up tomorrow?” he or she will look into the camera with a rapturous innocent smile brimming with enthusiasm and conviction and say with paternalistic and childish affect whatever pops into his or her apparently feeble mind, jumping from one notion to another in short sentences with poor syntax, not only not answering the question but confusing anyone who might try to understand anything about the question, or remember what it was, doing everything they can to posture themselves as wise and innocent miracle workers. Any decent teacher grading students answering questions like this in class would flunk them all. It’s no wonder our students are doing poorly in school. Look at the role modeling they are receiving from these apparent dunces who want to be the leader of the whole US, as slick millionaire TV questioners and moderators ignore their inane answers and move on to another question, while TV cameras pan the audience showing handsome, beautiful, smiling faces rapturously glowing in excited approval and acceptance, just like they do for big-time preachers and game-show hosts on TV.
What Do Don Quixote, Economic History, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, The Internet, Google, Amazon.com, Business Voyages, Corporate America, Mainstream Media, The Republican Primary, Hollywood, Occupy Wall Street, And The Case Method Have In Common?
Solve Problems By Attacking Root Causes Instead Of Tilting Windmills
I was glad to see young people doing something however quixotic it might be to correct some of the deficiencies, abuses and problems of Corporate America by camping out in major cities, calling their movement Occupy Wall Street. I learned about Don Quixote as an undergraduate and I’ve often been one myself. Following are 13,648 words attempting to tilt a very large and ferocious windmill, perhaps the largest and most ferocious of my chivalric career, jousting knights exemplar of various persuasions in several arenas.
These Occupy Wall Street people were complaining about some of the same problems I had complained about for 35 years teaching my case method business policy course at Georgia Southern University and writing my book Business Voyages: Allowing US multi-national corporations to outsource, downsize, right size or otherwise destroy jobs in the US by moving jobs to low-wage countries with impunity was not right, however euphemistic the terms they might use to describe the process; it was not fair to allow corporate CEOs who made a specialty of destroying jobs in corporations cannibalizing their own employees to write themselves bigger and bigger bonus checks after they put more profit on their bottom lines ostensibly to maximize the long-term wealth of stockholders by getting rid of employees; it was not right to allow bankers, after banking laws were changed to remove restrictions on the creation of branch banks, to run around the country buying up more and more banks, creating now-sick behemoths such as Bank of America, leveraging their capital with borrowed money to buy the stock of smaller banks at inflated prices, causing employees and customers of smaller taken-over banks to be squeezed to pay back the loans, causing bankers to take more and more risks with derivatives, securitized mortgage loan packages, investment banking ventures, and god knows what else, to try to pay back money they borrowed, until the banking system almost collapsed in 2008 with the fall of Lehman Brothers; it was not right for state and federal regulators to approve more and more bank charters in small towns so local promoters could start new small banks to create stock they could sell to taking-over bigger banks at inflated prices; it was not fair for politicians such as Ronald Reagan and George Bush II and their soul mates to start unnecessary wars, creating huge yearly federal budget deficits and piling up a mountain of federal debt to be paid by future generations; it was not fair for large corporations to use their cash hoards of billions of dollars to pay lobbyists and propagandists to influence federal lawmakers to change the rules and laws in their favor at the expense of others, especially middle and lower class Americans lacking the resources to purchase political access and influence; it was not fair for big business and the elite rich to buy political influence causing their income tax rates to be lowered causing the US government to be starved of tax revenue for maintaining technological and social infrastructures.
Wall Street Has Done Us Wrong
I thought the OWS movement would peter out in a week or two after it got started in October but it is still around in some cities as I write this today some two months later. There have been a few altercations with mayors and police but the protests have been peaceful. Paternalistic mayors now argue the camps are not sanitary and safe for the occupiers themselves and their tents and debris infringe on the rights of citizens who are deprived of their rights to enjoy the parks and sidewalks. Both sides have good points, especially with winter coming on. You don’t want these idealistic young people to freeze to death. And you certainly don’t want them to starve to death, which is why you should hope one of their major complaints and demands is met: jobs. Yes, most of the occupiers are educated young people who do not have jobs. They do not have jobs because jobs do not exist. Jobs do not exist because the American economic system has not provided them. And as they well know, the system evolved in such a way as to benefit the rich and powerful and worked against the middle and lower classes. The system needs to improve and do better.
Root Causes of Economic Troubles
Regardless of Wall Street’s sins in the last 30 years, I think it is important to bear in mind that the root cause of current economic troubles in the US is not big banks and large multi-national corporations. A deeper cause is global economic competition and natural laws of supply and demand. Politicians and corporations could have done a better job of coping with these forces but they did not cause the forces in the first place. To put things in perspective, consider at the end of World War II the US still had its industrial capacity intact having been unscathed by bombs dropped, whereas most other industrialized countries had been damaged, some severely, Germany and Japan especially, by catastrophic bombing. By some estimates the US at the end of WWII controlled about 50 percent of Earth’s resources while only possessing about 6 percent of Earth’s population; and now the US controls about 20 percent of Earth’s resources with about 6 percent of the population. The US was in a buyer’s and seller’s dream market at the end of WWII. It was easy to manufacture goods in the US paying high wages to factory workers and sell them in foreign markets because the US was about the only country with the capacity to do so, and raw materials could be bought cheap around Earth. Not so today. Not only did Germany and Japan rebuild their factories and restore their industrial capacity becoming formidable competitors; numerous hitherto undeveloped countries such as Brazil, Korea and China have now industrialized and are competing in global markets. In the meantime the human population of Earth has grown to about 7 billion people, up from about 5 billion people only 25 years ago. As the supply of workers producing manufactured goods in hitherto unindustrialized countries increases and industrial capacity is installed the supply of goods offered for sale in world markets increases dramatically, creating more and more competition for the US. When the supply of anything goes up more than demand goes up prices go down, including prices for labor as expressed in wages and salaries. These world trends made it possible and rational, based on standard capitalistic practices, for US corporations to destroy jobs in the US and have their products made at much lower prices by workers doing the same jobs in low wage countries with surplus workers. Since US corporations are in the business of making money, not doing charity work, it was rational to send US jobs overseas. It increased their profit margins and their total profits. And now the US has about 8.6 percent unemployment with no end in sight for the jobless. And so long as this global competitive situation exists caused by surplus workers being bred and born in poor countries forced to work for a pittance American factory workers and other types of workers also, including high tech workers sitting at computer screens, will continue to experience downward pressure on their wages and salaries, caused by iron laws of supply and demand.
For sure Americans out of work are not to blame for the lack of jobs in America, and, given the way the world has worked up to now, in a sense, corporations are not to blame, and nor are the politicians who peddle influence to corporations for campaign funding. They were all just doing what seemed rational given the lay of the land confronting them, just competing the American way to survive as they had been taught, doing their duty as red-blooded capitalists.
Charting a New Course
Unfortunately humans have got to find a new way of working if all humans are ever to have peaceful and satisfying lives around Earth. We Americans have been living much higher on the hog than people in most countries for over 50 years because we were lucky enough to inherit the benefits of economic history as it evolved on Earth, having a large country with abundant natural resources that were easy to expropriate from the original inhabitants, being separated from the invading armies and bomb-dropping airplanes of older killing fields by two very wide oceans, and so forth. Our per capita Gross National Product or GDP is still among he highest in the world. We currently rank 7th among nations on Earth in terms of per capita GDP according to the International Monetary Fund, with $47,860 per capita, meaning if you divided the total gross production of the US by the US population such division would result in $47,260 per person per year. Total US production is of course not divided equally among US citizens. About 30 percent now live below the poverty level and as you no doubt have heard the top 1 percent now control about 30 percent of US wealth. The richest country on Earth in terms of per capita GDP is Qatar with $88,222; next is Luxembourg with $81,466; then Singapore, $56,694; Norway, $51,959; Brunei, $48,333; United Arab Emirates, $47,439; us, the US; Hong Kong, $45,944; Switzerland, $41,950; and so on, down to Congo at the bottom of the IMF list at $329 per person per year.
Earth is a very unfair planet. Some people are born in prosperous happy situations through no merit of their own, and others are born in hellholes through no merit of their own. Everything is relative. People born in the US and in other rich countries are lucky merely to have been born in rich countries, even if they live on the dole in poverty as poverty is defined in those countries, relative to the truly wretched of Earth born in the poorest countries who work hard and long every day merely to stay alive. Over 1 billion people on Earth somehow manage to stay alive on less than $2 per day.
While our rich American corporate CEOs averaging over $2,000,000 per year in pay (some making $50,000 per day) have been the primary beneficiaries of the way Earth history evolved they did not cause things to turn out as they did. They could have done things differently to make the situation less unfair but they saw fit not to. I suspect most top dog or fat cat American CEOs would probably say if pushed “You would do the same thing yourself if you had the chance.” It’s not only American CEOs who have been greedy. All Americans have been greedy relative to the truly poor around Earth. It’s patriotic for Americans to be greedy since this motivates them to win in global economic competition.
President Obama has been telling us Americans lately we need to get tough and do a better of job of competing in foreign markets to increase our manufacturing exports to create jobs in the US. That sounds like good common sense but it’s just more of the same thing we have been doing since the American industrial revolution began and the same thing every other nation on Earth would like to do. It won’t work if everybody does it. Every nation cannot have a larger share of the global market; and if world production should go up enough through industrialization for all nations to get rich using current technology Earth’s resources would soon be exhausted, and its atmosphere would be polluted many times worse than it is now, accelerating the global warming process, possibly causing human extinction. No, Earthians sooner or later have got to change in fundamental ways how their economic and social processes work. The human population of Earth needs to be peacefully reduced over many generations through lowered birth rates and new systems need to be devised for scheduling, producing and distributing the necessities of life, entailing the recycling of resources to the maximum extent. Rather than denude Earth producing more and more goods to increase Earthian per capita incomes for an ever-growing population Earthians should increase incomes per person by dividing a shrinking pie by a human population shrinking at a faster rate than the economic pie shrinks. This could happen peacefully over many generations by reducing birth rates through better family planning, making future humans on Earth much happier than humans now, since they will have much less to worry about.
How to Create Jobs
How do you create jobs in a capitalistic system right now? For sure you do not do it by cutting even more the income taxes of large corporations and the elite rich, as Republican politicians in Washington would have you believe. You do not solve problems by spouting simple-minded platitudes. You have to understand cause-effect sequences and attack the root causes of problems. To create jobs in the current case somehow you have got to put purchasing power in the hands of customers who will buy goods from existing businesses who will then hire people because of selling more. Since market demand is already too low, inevitably caused by the individual decisions and actions of billions of consumers, banks and businesses in markets around Earth, aggregate demand must be jump-started through the intentional creation of infrastructure jobs not dependent on market demand through concentrated government will power.
These infrastructure jobs will hopefully put sufficient money in circulation to cause the creation of increased aggregate demand sufficient to cause new investment that leads to new jobs in markets in the economy as a whole. Governments are the only organizations on Earth that can create infrastructure jobs to start the cause-effect sequence necessary to create large numbers of jobs in the whole system. Corporations cannot start making more products that cannot be sold and pile them up in inventory to jump-start jobs for the jobless without jeopardizing themselves in their competitive markets. Although large corporations are soulless, heartless and mindless, in their defense they cannot intentionally do busywork for any length of time in a capitalistic system without going bankrupt.
Unfortunately governments have run out of money to create infrastructure jobs yet Republican politicians, lobbyists and political lapdogs in Washington insanely want to reduce federal revenues by cutting the taxes of large corporations and the elite rich even more, making sure governments have even less money for infrastructure jobs to jump-start the above cause-effect sequence. If you decreased the taxes of large corporations and the elite rich without aggregate demand being increased jobs would not be increased one whit. You would simply increase the federal government deficit and increase the total debt and make the numbers representing money in the computerized bank accounts of large corporations and the elite rich get larger, and for sure those numbers/money will not become smaller, i.e. “get spent”, to create jobs unless aggregate demand increases enough to sell whatever products and services new employees would produce.
Where is the money/computer numbers for creating the jump-starting infrastructure jobs going to come from? The money has got to come from increased taxes if you do not borrow it or create it out of thin air, making the US federal government budget crisis even worse.
Or is it you actually want to accelerate the transformation of the US into a third world country, creating ever-larger masses of unemployed people with a small elite at the top who own, talk and boss for a living? If not, something has got to give. To nip the problem in the bud right now, let it be Republican politicians. Vote every one of them out of office; and vote in people who will vote to raise the income tax rates of large corporations and the elite rich. Capitalistic America has been seriously blown off course by right wing political forces, as it was in the late 19th century during the heyday of the Robber Barons. Once countervailing winds are restored on the left capitalistic America can then continue sailing on an even keel.
Vote In 2012
In addition to camping out in cities young people should be on the streets everywhere encouraging everyone, especially young people, to vote in the next election, as I have seen some of them doing on sidewalks near their tents. Republicans have a majority in the US House and a filibuster-assuring number in the US Senate because young people got disillusioned with Obama’s accomplishments and refused to vote in 2010 federal elections in retaliation, shooting themselves in their own feet. It is obvious some of these young people in the OWS movement are very smart. Unfortunately a large percentage of young voters in the US became so disillusioned Obama did not create the change and improvements he promised in 2007 by 2009 they refused to vote at all in 2010, enabling Republicans to gain their majority in the House and their filibuster-assuring percentage in the Senate, enabling them to block rational Democratic proposals, leading to the deadlock now paralyzing Congress. So, young people, vote in 2012 and make sure all Republican candidates stay home in 2013. Then you will see significant change emanating from Washington, D.C.
OWS Libraries, Steve Jobs, Google, and Business Voyages
The thing that surprised and encouraged me most about these OWS camps is that these bright young Americans have set up libraries inside their camps. Yes, libraries. They read books. They even have card catalog systems to keep track of who has checked out which books, which I suppose they actually return. They got the books in the first place through donations. Who knows someone might have donated a copy of Business Voyages.
What does Business Voyages have to do with OWS, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Google and Amazon.com? Business Voyages would never have happened in the first place had it not been for the creation of personal computers and information technology. As a business teacher in a university I was supposed to do research and write articles in my field. I did more research, writing and publishing than most business professors. I saved some of the stuff I wrote and I pasted it into Business Voyages, with permission of academic publishers.
I bought myself an Apple Macintosh when they first came out in 1984, paying $2400 for it as I recall, with about 180 megabytes of memory. I was amazed when I saw how it worked. One of my former entrepreneurship students, Perry Ziegler, ran a small business called Micro Computer Power in Statesboro he inherited from his parents, and he showed me how to use a Mac in about five minutes. All I had to do to correct a manuscript was put a cursor behind a word, sentence, paragraph or whatever and backspace to wipe it off the page, shown on a screen, right before your very eyes; and you could then type in whatever correction you wanted to make. Steve Jobs and his friend Steve Wozniak after they dropped out of college in Jobs’ parents’ garage developed this marvelous machine and that miraculous hand-held device the Mouse that you used to place that cursor wherever you wanted on the screen. And then you could “Save” whatever you wrote on that screen on what they called a “floppy disc” that could be inserted into and ejected from your computer whenever you wanted to do more work on a research paper that popped up in your mind.
Long live the personal computer! A new era began. Never before in history had humans been provided a new toy and tool of this nature, creating a hopeful, entertaining and educational reprieve from the bleak and dreary developments and possibilities of business as usual. Jobs and Wozniak did not do it by themselves, of course. Being naturally inquisitive and intelligent young men tinkering in that garage they accidentally put together through laborious trial and error several computer hardware and software inventions created by others that had been gradually evolving for several decades, and they struck gold with that Mouse.
I learned how to program a giant IBM 7040 computer that looked like a control system for a spaceship when I was working on my doctorate at Texas Tech in 1968 using the computer language Fortran IV. The 7040 was so complicated and cumbersome I had nothing to do with computers until the Mouse came along in 1984.
Making Money With Personal Computers
Bill Gates, as I pointed out in Business Voyages, got filthy rich because he luckily became the owner of the greatest golden egg-laying goose of all time, the MS-DOS operating system that, thanks to IBM, had to be used in all non-Macintosh personal computers, generating about $100 per click of free money every time the MS-DOS operating system was copied into a new non-Apple PC, known as IBM PCs and IBM Clones, such as Dell Computers and all the rest, since IBM agreed to allow all other computer hardware companies to clone the IBM PC. Therefore the MS-DOS operating system had to be copied into millions and millions of PCs, at $100 or so per click, which was about as close to manna from heaven as you can get. As a consequence, Bill Gates became the owner of more stock wealth than he could possibly spend on himself and his family in many lifetimes, and he no longer works in business. Instead he and his wife are working full time giving money away in their charitable foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, funding medical research and the like around Earth. At one time Bill had a net worth of about $100 billion and was the world’s richest man.
Steve Jobs in my opinion is the most significant single innovator of the personal computer revolution because he made the Mouse happen; but he only amassed a net worth of $8 billion or so before he died young a few weeks ago, a pittance compared to Gates’ fortune, and Jobs said Gates never invented anything.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were lucky beneficiaries of the technological evolution that enabled personal computers to be used by everyone that led to iPads, smart phones, the Internet and social networking, and companies like Amazon.com, Google, Facebook and Twitter which enabled and encouraged young people to do something like OWS. Business Voyages is what is called a print on demand book, meaning anyone can print one copy at a time whenever they wish using computer technology and you can now read it as an ebook, with no printing at all, 756 pages, reading it with Kindles, iPads, smart phones, Nooks, or whatever. Computer and information technology evolution caused homo sapien life on Earth to change considerably in the long march of evolution which began about 1,500,000 years ago on Earth with homo habilis.
Publishing A Book
There is confusion on the Internet as to who is actually the publisher of Business Voyages. I am the publisher. I own the copyright. On the other hand, Xlibris Corporation, a subsidiary of Random House when I contracted with them to format the book at the outset of the project in 2005, is listed as the publisher at most sites on the Internet. In some places you will see Effective Learning Publications, my publishing company, listed as the publisher. Xlibris is essentially a book formatting and printing service, not possessing editorial authority, called a publisher because of historical precedents in the book industry. Unfortunately for self-publishers like myself millions of competing books now exist in the global book market, and some 20,000 new ones per year are produced using print on demand technology, creating ever more competitors. Consequently, the probability of making money as a self-publisher is extremely low. Regardless, in the vernacular of Richard Nixon, make no mistake about it; I am your publisher of Business Voyages. I am the sole lord and master of the entire conception, financial, writing and editing process that made Business Voyages happen. To my knowledge there is not a single spelling or grammar error in the entire book. I have proofread the book several times since 2006.
However grandiose the above might sound, fewer than 300 copies of Business Voyages have been printed since 2008 when I first released the book, which I have revised four times since. On the other hand, earlier this year, 2011, I signed an agreement with Xlibris that I would share with them half the ebook royalties if they would format the book as an ebook at no charge to me and arrange for its sale by ebook sellers globally. I agreed to this because I had no desire to do it myself, since doing it myself would have required many hours of frustrating work learning which options to hit on which websites. I am tired of having my brain crammed with algorithmic computer sequences necessary to make something happen on the Internet. You could spend your whole life doing this sort of thing and wind up an algorithmic dodo knowing a lot of computer sequences and very little else. Any percent of some royalties is worth more than 100 percent of no royalties, so I let Xlibris do it, possibly living to regret it down
Thanks to new innovations at Google and Amazon.com it appears this ebook strategy might work. Just this week I learned when you Google for information about Business Voyages using my pen name and the name of the book joined together typed into the Google search slot Richard John Stapleton Business Voyages you will pull up hundreds of sites offering Business Voyages for sale around Earth. It remains to be seen how many copies will eventually be sold in ebook format but it is satisfying to know my book is offered for sale by large numbers of Internet sellers around Earth.
I intend to Google Occupy Wall Street and find out how I can donate copies of Business Voyages to their OWS tent libraries. So far public and university libraries have ignored it. I have read they never purchase print on demand books, even though you cannot tell by looking there is any difference in formatting, printing or binding quality between POD books and traditional printing press books requiring hundreds or thousands of books to be printed in press runs. Apparently librarians think most self-publishers are producing poor quality because of not having their books edited by professional editors. I have been a writer, editor, and publisher since 1963 when I started my own newspaper in my hometown in Texas, the Wolfforth-Frenship Gazette, and I am fairly good at it.
Most of those hundreds of Internet sites offering Business Voyages for sale have ways for readers to review and rate books offered for sale on the sites. Almost nobody ever does it. I never have. Only best sellers ever seem to get reviewed on these Internet sites. I paid for a review that was published in the Sacramento Book Review that was posted at www.amazon.com. To my knowledge only one reader of Business Voyages has written an Internet review, which is posted here. Please read this review to see what at least one genuine reader had to say about Business Voyages. I would appreciate it if you would write a review for Business Voyages and post it on the Internet.
On the other hand, someone at an Internet seller located somewhere around Earth called Neotake at this site and somehow found a summary of Business Voyages I wrote in 2010. I have no idea where the person at Neotake found the summary, which may be best one I have written. Following is a copy of the summary formatted as it appears at Neotake, giving you insight into my theory of infinite causation running throughout Business Voyages:
Everything That Happens Is Inevitable
We are all floating on a quick voyage in the current of infinite time and space. An American Indian chief once remarked that life is like the flash of a firefly in the night. People who study and do business have been caused to sail through life in business ships with other people. This book includes the voyage of Richard John Stapleton who was caused to work for his parents in family businesses, start some businesses of his own, earn a PhD in business, and teach 35 years as a business professor.
The book includes in the author’s judgment the most relevant concepts and techniques in the business field for entrepreneurial and small business success; transactional analysis concepts and techniques relating to entrepreneurship and family business; the results of a national study of family business owners showing their opinions about how to manage family businesses; an explanation of the case method asserting the case method is the best method for teaching and learning business; 18 cases presenting business problems and opportunities for discussion; three exercises showing how to create creativity, construct business plans, and get on with it; and a summary essay discussing the plight of the global economy and what might happen. A major refrain of the book is that people perceive their worlds as they do and do what they do because of schemata and scripts read into their brains from birth onward. Scripts and schemata are cognitive structures stored in brain memory that cause people to recognize certain objects, problems, and opportunities in their worlds and ignore others and to think, feel, and act in certain ways. Scholarly articles are cited explaining the nature and significance of schemata and scripts. Business success sometimes requires learning new schemata and scripts. Too often people are taught to deal with trees rather than forests.
Teachers have a tendency to only consider problems that fit their tool kits, especially in business schools. Teachers have a tendency to teach only what is in their textbooks and quite often students are given little training in analyzing and dealing with problems and opportunities, as they exist in the real world. A major assertion of Business Voyages is that many business people need more case method training to analyze whole situations and to discover relevant aspects and interrelationships.
The case method process is simple: What is the problem, what are the alternatives, and what do you recommend? It is so simple it seems anyone could do it. But, no, it rarely happens anywhere. In group encounters leaders and their true believers generally control the communication process in such a way that most people are unable to express their opinions regarding whole situations, to preserve the authority and prestige of the leaders and to maintain the status hierarchy. Only the boss can say what he thinks is the problem, etc. Business Voyages shows how to break the pattern by randomly selecting leaders to say what they think is the problem, what are the alternatives, and what they recommend. The de-gaming random selection device explained in the book can be used to de-game games in various organizations and groups and can increase creativity and power among members. An article published by the author in the Transactional Analysis Journal in 1979 explaining the De-Gamer is reprinted in Business Voyages. He used a De-Gamer in all his classes since that time at Georgia Southern University.
The world has always been a screwed-up place and humans have a long way to go to co-construct a good world for all passengers aboard Spaceship Earth. The author presents several new ideas for making this happen, one of which, science fiction at present, entails using linear programming to schedule the production and distribution of basic necessities for all humans, leaving everything else to be scheduled and distributed by a market system.
Volunteering For President of the United States
I’m ready to do something different, having had my fill of computers and the Internet, at age 71, in my retirement years. Being president of the US sounds more interesting, not requiring the learning of algorithmic computer sequences, or anything else for that matter, or so it seems watching and listening to Republican presidential candidates. It appears all you have to do to be president is memorize a few simple platitudes and go around squawking them over and over: No gay marriages, no abortions, cut spending to create jobs, lower taxes for large corporations and the elite rich, make government smaller, get America back on track.
If Ronald Reagan could do it at age 69 I ought to be able to do it at age 71. On the other hand, there’s no way any president could compete with the Gipper reading and reciting lines in heroic speeches. He was a master at this, thanks to all his years as a movie star reciting lines he had memorized for war and cowboy movies. He may have fallen asleep in his cabinet meetings and he may not have been able to remember whether he remembered things, but he made a lot people feel better delivering heroic speeches and providing photo opportunities.
In many ways Reagan really was an ok honest guy, and I couldn’t keep from liking him. I’ll never forget one day Sam Donaldson, a TV news person, on the air in the White House showing Reagan and his cabinet members in a meeting and asking President Reagan if the cabinet meeting was not just for show. Reagan quickly replied with a twinkle in his eye, “No, we really don’t know what we’re doing. That’s why we’re having this meeting.” Like Ronald Reagan, I’d much rather die on a field of battle or riding the range fighting for what I think is right than waste away in a rocking chair watching soap operas or reruns of old movies.
I would be honored to stand for president of the United States if I were written-in as a write-in candidate, knowing full well I have no political ability or disposition whatsoever, being one of the world’s worst politicians, having a strong need to tell it like I think it really is, having told people all my life what they did not want to hear, knowing full well I might catch some grief because of it.
A major cause of the current US government budget disaster is the way our two-party political system works. It costs so much money anymore to get elected president of the US or to the US House or Senate that anyone running as a Republican or Democrat has to sell his/her soul to the devil, or special interests, to raise enough money to purchase enough political propaganda in mainstream media to get enough votes to win. Since right wing US Supreme Court judges absurdly decided in 2010 large corporations have free speech like individual US citizens even more money is now required to compete with the billions of PAC, or Political Action Committee, dollars now being poured into political races by the plutocracy. Consequently some US citizens have decided we need to amend our Constitution to make it clear only individual human beings are citizens with free speech, thereby drastically reducing the horrendous wholesale buying of political favors now going on by large corporations. Some US citizens also want to amend our Constitution to make it possible for voters to write-in candidates for national presidential and congressional races, using paper ballots easy to count by hand. This would make it theoretically possible for a write-in candidate not affiliated with the Republican or Democratic Party to get elected to high office with no money corruption involved. Let us pray this comes to pass. I wonder if these right-wing US Supreme Court judges think large corporations have a right to go to heaven after they die?
I think I could do a better job as president of the US if selected in a write-in process than any of the candidates running in the Republican primary simply because I would have no obligations to special interests. I would go in there for four years, do what I thought was right for the whole country, and get out, not worrying one whit about getting selected for a second term or protecting the interests of a political party. Or so I now think, having never experienced the joys of serious power. It seems power does things to people: it energizes them, addicts them, inflates their egos, makes them feel better about themselves, and they do not want to give it up after having had a taste.
Now would be a good time for me to get written in as a political candidate. Rick seems to be a good name for a politician these days, with politician Ricks popping up not only in the federal elections but also in state governments, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and others. Don’t vote for Rick Perry or Rick Santorum, vote for Rick Stapleton. I never heard of a politician named Rick until the past few years. It’s as if politician Ricks are a new type of action figure, complementing Barbie Doll action figure politicians like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, designed to appeal to a narcissistic culture.
Back To The Republican Presidential Debates
Assuming these Republicans now running for president, who spout and spew over and over the same dogma, are not smarter and more competent than they sound, I think I could do a better job generating ideas and strategies for solving problems and coping with national crises than any of them.
I do not think however they are as dumb as they seem; and if this supposition is true then they and their handlers have decided in a Machiavellian way their saying naive and disingenuous things over and over is an optimum solution that maximizes their chances of getting votes and money from special interests and credulous voters, that it’s best to fake being dumb to get money and votes, and that’s all that counts. Furthermore, it seems likely reasonably bright mainstream media writers, talkers, moderators and the like have been told by their corporate bosses not to react like intelligent human beings when exposed to inane political statements spouted by political candidates, or they will be fired. Thus, Republican political candidates are getting away with telling millions of people utter nonsense in dignified sanctimonious ways without being contested, casting a psychological spell their nonsense for some strange reason might be right.
Come to think of it, how could it be any other way? These political actors are providing mainstream media free programming, which attracts large audiences, which enables mainstream media to sell advertising.
The US Chamber of Commerce is now lobbying in Washington for SOPA or the Stop Online Piracy Act to create censorship and regulation of the Internet ostensibly to prevent copyrighted material being taken from websites and reused. The danger is the act could reduce the freedom of individual citizens to publish whatever they want in their emails and on their websites, especially essays such as this one and whistle blowing information about the misdeeds of large corporations. Assuming the corporate establishment seriously intends to attack freedom of speech on the Internet with their money arsenal and is successful buying legislation to make this happen, we middle and lower class citizens shall have our communicative power significantly reduced. If this should happen we might ultimately have to content ourselves having freedom of speech talking with our families and friends during Thanksgiving dinners and the like. For sure we will not be able to afford to purchase advertising in mainstream media to compete with large corporations and the US Chamber of Commerce to reach and influence large audiences.
Less Bored And Threatened But Dumber
The Internet like all new developments is a mixed blessing, causing advantages and disadvantages from the perspectives and vantage points of various affected individuals, groups and processes. The Internet has increased the power of individuals to communicate with others rapidly and frequently possibly giving individuals more power to influence others and secure information and security for themselves. On the other hand, the Internet has a tendency to isolate individuals within groups sharing information, ideas, conclusions and the like only with members of the group, which causes the minds of people in the group to focus only on topics, subjects, beliefs, etc. of interest to the group, causing the creation of more and more small groups with narrow interests, thus tending to atomize society as a whole, weakening the ability of a large society of people to develop common goals, consensual opinions and the like about reality itself, closing the mind of the entire society. Large groups can use the Internet to increase their power relative to other groups, especially if freedom of speech on the Internet usage should be constricted for individuals, making individuals relatively less powerful and relevant in the overall scheme of things. How these issues shall sort out in the future shall be interesting. Hopefully the net effect will be to increase individual freedom in open societies, not decrease individual freedom in closed societies.
One of the time honored functions of book publishers, newspaper publishers and other media was to provide an editing function insuring public discourse in relatively free societies remained at a reasonably high level of honesty, decency and truth. Editors of mainstream media would presumably edit the writings and public pronouncements of individuals and groups to insure what was published would be truthful and appropriate in light of rules of decorum, scientific and ethical standards, and facts. Modern mainstream media have reduced the quantity and quality of editing in public discourse, exemplified by Republican debates, causing both positive and negative effects, less factual reporting being one effect and more spontaneous entertaining statements being another effect. A serious negative effect of these so-called Republican primary debates is that mainstream media can aid and abet a process making it seem utter nonsense is holy writ, said over and over in dignified sanctimonious ways by aspiring politicians. If everyone should believe the resulting propaganda and nonsense a more orderly, obedient, entertained, secure, dumb and poor society might result.
How do you acquire power in contemporary American politics? The best strategy is to arrange to be born to rich, powerful and/or famous parents, be good lookin’, graduate from Harvard, Yale or Podunk State, and/or be smart enough, dumb enough, unethical enough, cynical enough, lucky enough, and/or tricky enough to tell rich supporters and voters what they want to hear in ways that somehow convince them you are sincere and sanctimonious and will decide and vote in their favor at the expense of others. Politics is not a zero-sum game; but it is never a win-win game. There are always losers. The stakes in national politics are extremely high, and the game is never fair.
Cutting Spending Destroys Jobs
Major contemporary Republican nonsense told to large audiences in dignified sanctimonious unchallenged unedited ways in mainstream media includes telling people cutting federal government spending will create jobs and raising taxes for large corporations and the elite rich will destroy jobs.
As I have pointed out recently in writings in this Ship’s Log web page and elsewhere, including my Macon Telegraph article posted below, cutting spending will destroy jobs.
Sorry, the sad fact is when you cut government spending in most cases people are going to get fired and their jobs are going to be destroyed, and those people will consequently buy less from businesses, causing businesses to sell less, probably causing them to destroy even more jobs by firing some of their employees. Fraud and abuse exists in the federal government budget and this sort of spending should be completely eliminated, but for Republican political candidates to run around the country spouting over and over that cutting government spending of all types in a general way is a panacea for all that ails the US economy is utter insanity, and an insult to millions of hardworking federal and state government employees doing necessary work to make our whole system function.
Technically Smarter But Ethically Dumber
In the vernacular of Mitt Romney, let me very clear, my friend, the only thing that will motivate large corporations and the elite rich to create jobs or not destroy jobs is being able to sell goods and services that absolutely require employees to produce them. Large corporations are not in business to help people; they are in business to make money for their stockholders. Corporations and the elite rich do not invest money to create jobs or destroy jobs because their taxes have been lowered or raised. If they create jobs it because they think sufficient aggregate demand exists to make a profit selling more of something already invented and produced or selling newly invented products and services; and anytime their sales go down for any product or service they automatically destroy jobs by laying off employees rather than produce unsellable inventory or have employees sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Many CEOs hired to run large corporations believe the major purpose of large corporations is to enrich CEOs and their cronies at the top, rather than stockholders, but that’s another story.
Mitt Romney now tells people they should vote for him because he learned how to create jobs working with Bain Capital. If you check that assertion with a Google search you will find businesses like Bain Capital for sure do not exist to create jobs. They are private equity leveraged buyout operators, sometimes called vulture capitalists. Their main strategy is to leverage a small percentage of their own capital with borrowed money to take over struggling corporations, which they hen reorganize, reengineer and the like by firing a sizeable percentage of the original employees. As soon as this process puts more profit on the bottom line they then try to resell the business to another corporation; and if they are lucky enough to make this happen they take a huge capital gains profit. Mitt Romney became a lucky rich man doing this, piling up a net worth approaching $200 million; and it’s no wonder he’s not in favor of raising the US capital gains tax, capital gains being where he got most of his money. I’ll bet Mitt Romney destroyed far more jobs than he created during his 15-year career running Bain Capital.
Reality Copying Hollywood Fantasy
Republicans know Romney is the best looking candidate they have, better looking than Ronald Reagan and Bush II were, looking like another incarnation of Superman or a righteous patriarch or deacon, from any angle on TV; but unfortunately there is something about his personality and the way he says things the Republican base does not like. It could be being a Harvard MBA makes it hard for him to sound sincere reciting Republican nonsense necessary to pacify the Republican base. Maybe being a Mormon makes it hard to lie with a straight face. Yet none of the other Republican presidential candidates seem smart enough to stand a chance debating President Obama.
Gingrich, a former social studies teacher at West Georgia College and a disgraced Speaker of the US House of Representatives, comes across as arrogant, glib and untrustworthy, especially when you consider his unethical behavior documented in public records, and he is having serious trouble passing his screen test at Republican Central Casting. Most of the other candidates look and act like cartoon characters. Perry and Bachmann seem even more confused than Don Quixote when they open their mouths, trying to tilt several windmills at once, trying to tell Republican voters what they want to hear, frantically flailing about jumping from one vague inane idea to another, desperately trying to keep smiles on their well-proportioned attractive faces. So the Republican version of American Idol is not playing well on TV. I cringe at the thought of having to look at and hear any of these characters on American TV for four or more years pontificating their simple-minded ideological platitudes and spinning tales to rationalize their actions supposedly running the US government as president, playing the leading role in what they consider the greatest reality show on Earth.
One would think Gingrich’s character problems would have reduced his chances as a Republican presidential candidate to zero but apparently his character is not a problem with the Republican base. Bush II’s story about overcoming his alcohol problem if anything seemed to increase his standing and appeal with the Republican base. The most significant determinants for winning Republican primaries are being able to make up and tell entertaining fairy tales that confirm and reinforce the ideologies, biases and prejudices of Republicans and being able to titillate them with body language. Character and ability are relatively unimportant determinants for winning Republican primary races.
Mitt Romney has been branded a flip-flopper, as was his father, George Romney, CEO of the extinct American Motors Corporation and Governor of Michigan, who ran for president of the US in the Republican primary of 1967 against Richard Nixon. Out in front at the start of the race, George Romney lost the Republican primary partly because of flip-flopping on Vietnam. He was originally for staying in Vietnam but changed his mind. He blamed his flip-flop on the military for initially brainwashing him about casualties in Vietnam. It seems most people have forgotten about George Romney. I have yet to hear anyone on TV mention that Mitt Romney is George Romney’s son, that Mitt was bred and born, predestined if you will, to be a presidential candidate, part of another hereditary Republican political family. While the Romney’s are no slouches at moving up in the American dream world, they have yet to make it to the top of the American political heap as president, as did two hereditary Bushes, almost as noble as British aristocracy.
In my opinion Mitt Romney is by far the least risky and flaky of the Republican primary candidates. If he is elected president although I think he will wind up enriching the rich even more and impoverishing even more the middle and lower classes it seems to me he has better than average capacity for understanding the facts of complex situations and will generally make decisions based on facts and reason, not being as likely to base decisions on irrelevant ideology tilting windmills as Reagan and Bush II.
The Case Method
After all, Mitt is a Harvard MBA and the Harvard Business School is generally considered the best business school on Earth, using nothing but the case method in its courses since it invented the case method of business teaching in the early part of the 20th century. Romney has been taught at Harvard Business School to make decisions based on real world facts, and it’s obvious based on his track record at Bain Capital he has competence making decisions to achieve goals and satisfy his selfish interests. Bush II is also a Harvard MBA and studied business using the case method. In his case however it seems he must have rarely prepared for class and must have been socially passed. He seemed to get where he got in business primarily because of his family name. Not a good role model for his No Child Left Behind education program, he is the only US president I am aware of who had difficulties speaking grammatically correct compound sentences. I remember a woman who ran a bar and grill in a backwater town being asked in 1999 by a TV interviewer why she intended to vote for George Bush the second. Her quick response was, “Cuz he’s a good lookin’ man.”
Harvard Business School has one of the toughest and most rational grading systems of any business school on Earth. Their grades are not inflated. Every professor in every course has to grade his or her students using a manly rigorous curve, assigning one-third high passes, one-third passes, and one-third low passes. I suspect Romney might have received a few high passes, but I wonder about Bush II. While it’s hard to earn high passes at HBS it’s easy to graduate once you get in with low passes, especially considering your two-year MBA degree will cost you or your parents about $100,000. I have read the University of Texas rejected Bush II when he applied to attend their law school. Harvard Business School has high entrance standards so Bush II could be reasonably bright, just having some sort of thinking and speech disorder, assuming he did not get in because of his family name. Although he may have been a “decider”, as he made a point of reminding us, as near as I can tell he never held a real job in his life.
I define a real job as a job you have to have with a boss who can fire you at the drop of a hat, a job you have to have to buy food, put a roof over your head, and pay for your other necessities, so as to avoid having to stand in a line to sign up for unemployment compensation, which I did one time, for about 30 minutes, before I decided to forget about the whole humiliating process, or stand in another kind of line to apply for another real job, to hopefully avoid having to ask banks, family members or charitable organizations for loans and handouts when your savings completely run out. Professions, business ownership, careers, positions, commissions, appointments, scholarships, internships and the like in most cases are not real jobs based on this definition.
If you would like to see my academic and employment record read my book Business Voyages. I published my grade point averages for three university degrees, including a PhD, in economics, organizational behavior, and management science at Texas Tech University; and I discussed my grades in grade school and high school in the Frenship School System at Wolfforth, Texas. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, during the 1954 football season I was probably the youngest and smallest Class A high school starting quarterback in the US, at 13 years old, 110 pounds, and 5’3″ tall, as discussed in Business Voyages. I got accepted at two law schools in 1962 but never went: the University of Texas and Southern Methodist University. My grandfather E. H. Coston a Methodist minister who had a brother who was a lawyer and judge said he never saw a lawyer who was fully honest, so I decided I should find some other way of making a living.
I know what it feels like to have a real job and get fired, as I documented in Business Voyages. I told my father, a successful entrepreneur, I was through working for him for good at age 22; and I paid my own way from then on with profits from three small businesses I started, three real jobs, a teaching assistantship, a part-time instructorship, research grants, and three professorships, with the exception of two $1000 loans I had to ask my parents for to pay bills on time at age 23 and 25, the first one I repaid in three months and the other one I repaid in three years, as I recorded in Business Voyages. Abraham Lincoln said there are two things you can do for a living after you have failed at everything else: teach school or get into politics. I became a teacher; and here I am at age 71 still trying to teach people something in this essay.
Vote The Republican Rascals Out
Since we do not have a write-in voting system for high political offices in Washington we must make do with the system we have now to solve current problems before we can make amendments to our Constitution authorizing write-in candidates. Therefore, the best strategy in 2012 for brave and smart OWS people and for all of us in the US middle and lower classes is – Number One – get off your – disillusioned cynical behind and make sure you vote in the 2012 presidential and congressional elections, voting for no Republican candidates. This is a draconian extreme strategy, unfortunately required given the predicament the US government is now in, analogous to a large corporation inevitably tottering towards bankruptcy. This Vote the Rascals Out strategy is necessary to cure the political corruption, morass and irresponsibility in Washington, making it possible for a new crop of politicians with fewer ties to special interests to significantly reduce the influence of large corporations and the elite rich, cut the budget deficit, reduce the debt, and restore the US government back to its intended status as a government of the people for the people.
Sure, some good politicians would unfairly be cast aside if such a voting strategy were to happen; but these are hard times and hard times require hard strategies. The health and functioning of the US as a whole is far more important than the personal ego trips of individual politicians you happen to care about. Most of them are rich already, so they won’t suffer if they lose their jobs, unlike millions of employees in real jobs in private businesses who were terminated because sales declined because of the new world that began unfolding in 2007. Once the potentially catastrophic problems of the moment are eliminated or controlled and happy days are here again people can go back to voting for movie stars and cartoon characters, or anyone they happen to like and admire for any reason in either political party.
Three-fourths of all US citizens now know income tax rates must be raised to cure the US budget problem and put the US back on sound financial footing. Three-fourths of all US citizens would probably vote for raising tax rates back to where they were in 1981 to make this happen; but it can’t happen now because too many politicians in Washington have sold their souls to large corporations and the elite rich, ultimate Grinches who stole the spirit of America. In their view the US is a republic of paid-for politicians acting in the interest of large corporations and the elite rich, not a democracy of the people for the people.
I have been an Independent politically all my life, voting for the person and his/her political intentions, as best as I could discern them, not a political party line; and I would like to say I am still non-partisan; but I must say I now think Republicans are more to blame for the economic and political disaster in Washington than Democrats, not that I think Democratic politicians are lily-white innocents. I think a major cause of Republican errors since 1981, in addition to standard greedy narcissistic hungers for money, power and fame bedeviling most people, was Republicans buying and selling hook, line and sinker ideas attributed to economists Milton Friedman and Arthur Laffer.
Friedman’s idea as exploited by Republicans was that large corporations are largely responsible to their stockholders, having few social responsibilities to citizens of any country; and Laffer’s big idea as exploited by Republicans, launched during the Reagan regime in the 1980s, was that “deficits do not matter” since cutting taxes for large corporations and the elite rich while simultaneously increasing military spending will create such GDP increases in the future that future tax revenue increases will more than compensate for current budget deficits and debt caused by the initial tax rate cuts and increased military spending. In other words, go ahead and have your party now, since doing so will cause the federal government to eventually be in better shape than it would have been in had you not had your party; and forget about old-fashioned conservative notions such as saving for a rainy day and the Protestant work ethic. The Laffer Curve as applied by Republicans was a curve ball bending standard pump-priming Keynesian economics to fit the aims and ambitions of Republican politicians during times when there was no technical need for serious pump-priming.
The fly in Laffer’s ointment is that cutting income tax rates for large corporations and the elite rich will stimulate economic growth for your country only if the resulting tax savings are spent on goods producing employment in your country. Jobs will not be created, GDP will not go up, the federal government budget will not balance, and the federal debt will not be reduced if you let large corporations and the elite rich hoard their tax savings in their bank accounts or send them overseas to produce jobs in competing countries or use them to take over businesses and fire employees so they can resell the business at a capital gains profit, flipping corporations just like speculators used to buy, fix up and flip houses.
To verify the truth of this all you have to do is look at the historical record of what happened during the Reagan and Bush II years. Reagan added $2 trillion to the $1 trillion of federal debt he inherited and Bush II added about $5 trillion to the debt he inherited; and neither one of them, unlike Obama, were forced to do what they did. Most likely they did what they did because they wanted to satisfy their rich upper class political supporters. Obama did what he did causing the deficit and debt to increase because he had no choice but to do it to stave off a major depression, dissatisfying his lower and middle class political supporters. Reagan and Bush II were not faced with a probable depression; they faced mere economic stagnation and run of the mill recessions, certainly not necessitating the massive pump-priming actions they took, including starting unnecessary wars. While their intentions may have been honorable given the schemata and scripts lodged in their brains over time, their policies and actions were nevertheless major causes of today’s perilous US fiscal problem.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to prove what anyone’s real reason is for doing anything. It may have been the real reason Bush II started his wars was thinking this would protect US oil supplies, or he may have started his wars to pay back favors owed his vice president Dick Cheney and his cronies at Halliburton, or his god may have told him to do it, or he may have personally hated Saddam Hussein, or he may have thought this would spread democracy, or some or all of the above; but it seems to me the dominant reason was to pump up the economy to make his administration look good primarily in the eyes of his supporters in the US upper class.
In Praise of the US Military
I just finished watching tonight December 20, 2011 a ceremony on C-Span commemorating the ending of the Iraq War and the return of US troops from Iraq, listening to two outstanding speeches by two army generals who summarized the war and gave appreciation to those who served. Attending on stage were the president and vice-president of the US. I agreed with everything the generals said. As I documented in Business Voyages I took one year off from Georgia Southern in 1982-83 and taught on leave with Troy University Europe who had a contract with the Air Force to offer a master’s degree in management on US Air Force NATO Bases. I taught four three-month stints at Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey; Hellinikon Air Base at Athens, Greece; Soesterberg Air Base near Utrecht, The Netherlands; and Aviano Air Base at Aviano, Italy, teaching also at Hessich, Germany the quarter I taught in Soesterberg. I got to know US military people well that year teaching mostly Air Force personnel but also Army personnel. This was one the best years of my life. In addition to carrying out their missions at the direction of their civilian commanders in chief, the US president, the US military have created in my opinion excellent operation systems and ethical organizational cultures. They are indeed deserving of our admiration and respect. It is not the job of the US military to decide whether to start or stop wars. They have done their duty and they have done it well.
The Long Economic War
The US economy received its first serious shot across the bow in the long global economic war in October 1973 when OPEC embargoed oil in support of the Arab-Israeli War, during the dying days of the corrupt Nixon administration, increasing the price of oil from $2 to $12 per barrel, letting rich developed nations know loud and clear their days of cheap oil from the third world were over. I owned a 40-acre cattle farm at the time. Nitrogen fertilizer derived from oil shot up from $40 to $200 per ton and cattle prices sank from 40 cents a pound to 20 cents a pound almost overnight, making it impossible to make a profit running 20 head of mother cows on 40 acres. All American agricultural commodities suffered similar if less drastic fates and American agriculture has been less profitable ever since. And the case can be made this is when American economic life peaked and started gradually sliding downhill for most Americans, caused by fundamental irreversible changes in human populations, technology, and resource availabilities around Earth.
President Jimmy Carter recognized an economic malaise in the US during his administration during 1977-1980 and although he faced stagflation or stagnation and inflation at the same time he did not resort to serious pump-priming starting wars or cutting taxes that would significantly affect the long-term financial health of the US. Carter had the good sense to appoint Paul Volcker Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1978; and Volcker raised the federal funds rate to 11 percent to control inflation, which was controlled by 1983. Reagan resorted to fiscal policy trying to cure the stagnation and malaise, cutting taxes and increasing military spending, which no doubt worked to some extent; but here we are now with a fiscal crisis on our hands of historic proportions, partly caused by inappropriate ideology inserted into American politics during the Reagan administration.
Google and The Case Method
The Internet and Google have greatly increased the learning possibilities and capabilities of humans. If you are discussing or debating an issue if you forget the exact date of something or what specifically someone did all you have to do is punch a couple of key words about it into Google and presto up will pop detailed information about it. I do this writing books and essays such as this one. There is no excuse anymore for not knowing the facts of cases. You have an amazing database easily accessible right at your finger tips serving up facts for any topic or subject in the flick of an eye: Google. You can argue about the causes or significance of historical facts based on your schemata, scripts, beliefs, prejudices or divine revelations until you are blue in the face but the facts are easily provable by simply punching a couple of words into Google. We need more and more students in schools of all sorts and people of all sorts elsewhere who argue face to face in groups about the causes and significance of facts of cases and what to do about them to develop syntheses and consensual realities fair to everyone. Our educational systems need this sort of educational experience more than anything to create and encourage truly educated, creative and functional people. Unfortunately in some ways our mainstream media are taking us in the opposite direction, making the flow of talking more and more one way from the top down.
The case method is very simple: What is the problem? What are the alternatives? What do you recommend? It’s so simple it seems anyone could do it. All you have to do is read the facts of cases, randomly select someone in a group of people free to say whatever they wish to start the discussion or argument answering the above three questions; and then argue about the significance and implications of facts of the case and what to do about it for an hour to hopefully reach a consensus. If a consensus does not emerge in an hour do it again the next day or in a few days until a consensus is created. Do this over and over day after day and people will get smarter and understand what is going on.
But, no, this process rarely happens anywhere to protect designated leaders and their true believers. Most designated leaders, whether they be authoritarian corporate CEOs, politicians, military generals or religious leaders, want a free ride with the right to cram anything they think down the throats of underlings without being ethically bound to defend themselves from challengers using facts and reasoning in dialogues, serious discussions about the truth of cases. Authoritarians want to make sure no underling has any chance to use his or her schemata and scripts to analyze the whole case and create a workable strategy better than the boss’s.
Why don’t mainstream media interviewers and moderators keep a laptop computer on their desks and Google up facts during these so-called Republican debates and confront the candidates with errors of fact? The problem is power and protection. Those in power or seeking power want as much power as they can get and they want others to have as little as possible. And, almost unbelievably, many powerless people prefer closed authoritarian hierarchical structures instead of open democratic horizontal structures. Open democratic horizontal structures, especially those with random selection devices that select discussion starters from among all members of the group, potentially expose the strengths and weaknesses of anyone in the group; and however much such processes motivate people to learn and develop, many people prefer closed systems, despite the intellectual stagnation they cause, to prevent their intellectual weaknesses (such as not knowing and understanding the facts) from being exposed. As W.C. Fields is reputed to have said, their attitude is, “Tis far better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.”
The antidote of course is to realize it’s ok not to know all the facts, that nobody can know all the facts in complex cases; but authoritarians don’t want this attitude to exist because they want to make it seem designated leaders in their superior wisdom know everything any of them need to know, and there’s no need to waste time letting inferiors have a chance to lead the group by starting a case discussion after being randomly selected. During a good case method discussion or course it becomes obvious who in the group are the better leaders or who is the best leader; and in a good case method process this should not make the non-leaders feel bad about themselves. Everyone knows everyone cannot play on the first string on a football team. Yet everyone can be a valued member of the team, even the benchwarmers; and everyone enjoys watching a truly outstanding player do his or her thing on the field pulling out all the stops to win. In these Republican presidential debates voters are supposed to judge which player should be the quarterback by watching him or her throw a few passes with no receivers, with nobody on defense trying to sack them.
I researched, wrote, edited and published four articles, a teaching note, and 18 cases in Business Voyages explaining how to use the case method and attempting to prove the case method really is the best method for teaching business and business leaders. I am the only business teacher I know of who has any longitudinal research data providing credible evidence his teaching worked for former students in the real world, published in Business Voyages.
Most former presidents and presidential candidates publish autobiographical books; but I suspect most of them just talk remembrances into tape recorders and professional researchers, writers and editors polish and finish the books. People buy the books because of who supposedly wrote them, so their pictures and names will be visible on coffee tables, not to learn something serious to improve their lives.
Giving Back to Your Country
For whatever it’s worth, my wife Debbye and I, being lucky enough to be members of what’s left of the American middle class, having no tax shelters, pay a higher percentage of our income in federal taxes than large corporations and members of the elite rich with tax shelters, but we are willing to pay even more in federal taxes to help solve our country’s financial crisis and unemployment problem. I figure since large corporations and the elite rich caused most of the problem since 1981 they should pay more now to fix it, shouldering about 60 percent of the burden with higher taxes. If all Americans would pay their fair share of necessary new taxes, it’s possible the US federal deficit and debt problem and the US unemployment problem could be resolved with relatively little pain for anyone, relative to the pain that lies ahead if the whole system collapses, caused by ignorance, greed, selfishness, fear and hatred in a class war. Politicians on both sides of the aisle in Washington and mainstream media talkers and writers would have you believe we have only one class in America, the middle class, rarely mentioning any other kind of class. How can you have a middle class if there are no upper and lower classes?
Information and conclusions for this case were caused to be lodged and created in my brain over time by many causes and sources but especially by my being caused to earn degrees in economics and management science; teach a course called American Economic History three years at Texas Tech University to finance my doctoral studies at Texas Tech during 1966-1969; read and discuss thousands of business policy cases with my students at Georgia Southern University during 1970-2005; read publications such as The Economist, Financial Times, The Populist, The Nation, The New York Times, The Smithsonian, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and Free Inquiry; watch and listen to Jim Cramer on Mad Money and watch and listen to various well-informed and ethical experts on the PBS 6 o’clock News Hour and on C-Span. I was also recently caused to read Noam Chomsky’s book How the World Works and Allan Bloom’s book The Closing of the American Mind.
The evolution of computers, information technology and social networking empowered and ncouraged young unemployed people cooperating in open democratic horizontal structures to overthrow tyrants in three North African nations in 2011. How much these innovations shall empower and encourage people in the middle and lower classes to spread free and fair democratic policies and practices and provide jobs for all in all countries remains to be seen in coming years, decades, centuries or millennia, assuming homo sapiens do not become extinct on Earth in the meantime because of global warming, climate change, overpopulation, and wars.
Unfortunately there are no permanent cures for the Earthian economic long war until population and production scheduling and distribution problems around Earth are solved. All humans can do in the meantime is tinker around applying band-aid solutions that keep the show running for a few years at a time, mostly kicking cans down the road, as various governments around Earth see fit, however their decision-makers are caused to exist for whatever time periods, dealing with problems that have recurred over and over in up and down cycles for millennia, using the same economic and political procedures governments have always used: raising and lowering taxes, raising and lowering government spending, raising and lowering interest rates, borrowing and printing money, raising and lowering tariffs, and starting and stopping wars.
Let us pray our bright young OWS people in the US, and their soul mates in other countries, are smart enough, energetic enough, and idealistic enough to create and implement ideas and approaches hitherto un-dreamed of that shall enable humanity to sail through seemingly insoluble problems visible on the horizon and co-construct new and better worlds of peace and satisfaction on Earth.
Please copy this Business Voyages Ship’s Log posting and sail it as far and wide as you can see on the Internet. Best Wishes, Richard John Stapleton, December 25, 2011, www.effectivelearning.net.
To order your copy of Business Voyages by credit card please call Manny Chavez at 888-795-4274, Ext. 7348.
October 17, 2011
Business Voyages Is A True Story Of American Business
People buy goods at Wal-Mart at low prices because the goods were purchased at low prices from suppliers employing people paid low wages in the poorest countries on Earth.
Sam Walton invented his retailing system in the mid-1960s in Arkansas in the United States and his system spread around Earth. Sam was a hard-working, honest, down-home, friendly fellow who played quarterback in college where he learned how to motivate a team. After he started his business he held Saturday morning meetings for associates at his business somewhat like chalk talks in a football locker room and he psyched up his team for the game by having pep rallies. And win they did, with a winning strategy that entailed attacking the weakest competitors first, in small towns in the rural South. Sam’s team by now has eliminated millions of small businesses around Earth that didn’t stand a chance competing against them. Wal-Mart won by employing smarter strategies, better people and the best computer system. Over 1.5 million people now play on Sam’s team.
Most of the folks buying goods at Wal-Mart do not look happy to be there; but they come back again and again, like addicts getting another fix of food, beer, clothes, toothpaste or whatever they have to have at the lowest prices.
The Wal-Mart system is part of the Earth economic system inexorably evolving after human savages around one million years ago instinctively learned how to band together to enhance their chances of survival competing with other bands doing the same thing. Up until the last quarter of 2007 it seemed Earth economic and political bands were muddling along pretty much as usual, with most humans in rich countries doing fairly well, with unlucky humans born in truly poor countries gradually becoming a little better off.
At the end of 2007 however Earthians experienced a Great Economic Shock: the ostensibly booming economies of the US and other rich nations suddenly ran aground. What appeared to be a deep wide river of money gushing from credit cards, consumer loans, home equity loans and mortgage loans suddenly narrowed to a shallow stream. Borrowers all of a sudden could not pay their bills for lack of liquid money. The biggest fish at the top of the financial food chain had borrowed too much money at low interest they loaned at higher interest to smaller fish down the chain who loaned the money at still higher interest to consumers at the bottom, who should not have had money loaned to them in the first place because of credit risk.
This mindless avaricious process was given a major boost in 1981 when a handsome movie star Ronald Reagan rode into Washington from Hollywood to act out his greatest role as president of the United States, reading from a script in which adoring fans believed Republican fairy tales—especially core beliefs about the supremacy of the US military, Christian fundamentalism and large corporations—with a new core belief thrown in the mix—a strange belief for a supposedly conservative political party—a voodoo-like belief that budget deficits for the US federal government “do not matter”.
The inevitable relentless piling up of the current $14.8 trillion US mountain of federal debt started with the Reagan Administration in 1981 and was significantly accelerated by the neoconservative Republican administration of George Bush II in 2001—accomplished by military spending, two unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the lowering of income tax rates for large corporations and the elite rich.
The US after presumably recovering from the Great Recession of 2008 now has over 9 percent unemployment with no relief in sight for the jobless, a deadlocked dysfunctional US Congress that cannot agree about how to deal with the federal budget deficit and debt, state governments dominated by Republicans bent on shredding the safety nets of the American poor and Republican candidates running for president in 2012 who seem even more simple-minded and ethically-challenged than Ronald Reagan and George Bush II.
Unemployed young people with college degrees empowered with cell phones and social media in recent months have overthrown tyrants in three North African nations; and unemployed Americans with college degrees empowered with cell phones and social media are now demonstrating in large cities throughout the US against corporate greed and the machinations of the US military-industrial complex, calling their movement “Occupy Wall Street”.
Yes, it’s a fine kettle of fish.
Please read Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds for some truly new ideas about what to do about it.
To order your copy of Business Voyages by credit card please call Manny Chavez at 888-795-4274, Ext. 7348.
July 25, 2011
Article in the Macon Telegraph
The Us Budget Deficit And Federal Debt, What To Do?
By RICHARD JOHN STAPLETON – Special to The Telegraph
I watched and listened in amazement (almost in shock) with millions of others July 22 as the president of the United States explained how his debt and deficit negotiations with the speaker of the House of Representatives came to a halt with nothing accomplished.
I thought President Barack Obama was going to tell us a budget agreement had been reached and happy days were here again. Instead, we saw and heard how childish, irrational and undependable our congressional process has become. It seems Speaker John Boehner had led Obama to believe after weeks of negotiations between the two that a budget compromise agreement between Democrats and Republicans was almost done; but, as Obama put it, Boehner left him standing at the altar again, pulling out of the negotiation with little or no warning, refusing to return a phone call from the president about the matter early in the day.
In a little over 30 minutes, Obama told the world the facts of the problem and answered questions and Boehner followed, and in about 20 minutes defined the situation as he saw it and answered questions.
Boehner told the world as far as he was concerned the president was now out of the debt and deficit discussion process and he and congressional
leaders would take charge of the budget problem without the president being involved — with 10 days remaining before the country was to go into default on its debt. In my view, Boehner’s action took political games to a new level of ignominy.
I have been an independent politically all my life, voting for the person not the party. I am an emeritus professor of entrepreneurship and small business, teaching 35 years at Georgia Southern University and directing a small business institute 18 years.
I have written few letters to newspaper editors about politics. Unfortunately, I now consider it almost a duty as a conscientious U.S. citizen to speak my mind publicly about the elementary economic errors or lies I saw and heard expressed on TV by Boehner.
Allowing the U.S. to default on its debt would have not only been disastrous; it would be an insult to the pride of every American, showing for all the world to see just how far the U.S. had fallen economically, politically and socially. Following is the heart of the matter.
Cutting spending will not produce jobs as Boehner asserted in a very sanctimonious manner. That was utter nonsense or an abominable lie, no doubt part of the “Cut, Cap, Slash and Burn” mantra of the know-nothing tea party wing of the Republican Party.
Cutting spending will reduce jobs. When people lose jobs because of spending cuts, jobs are destroyed, pure and simple, and people who have their incomes cut by spending cuts will buy less, primarily from small businesses. This can cause small business owners to lay off employees or possibly discontinue their small businesses altogether, destroying even more jobs.
Raising taxes for large public corporations and the elite rich will not destroy jobs, as Boehner also asserted. The elite rich have so much money they will reduce their consumer expenditures little or none if their taxes are increased, not affecting jobs. Raising taxes for large corporations and the elite rich can actually increase jobs because governments will have revenue to create infrastructure jobs that are not dependent on current market demand.
The only thing that will motivate a large corporation to create jobs or not destroy jobs is being able to sell goods and services that absolutely require employees to produce them.
Small business owners are not members of the elite rich. There is a big difference between small business and big business.
The median income of small business owners with employees is about $73,000 per year, about 6 percent make less than $12,500 per year, and only about 5 percent make more than $250,000; while most hired CEO employees of large public corporations make more than $2 million per year www.effectivelearning.net.
Flattening taxes as Boehner wanted will increase the taxes of the poor and decrease even more the taxes of the corporate and elite rich, which is not fair.
As Obama said, “All the American people want is a little fairness.” Trillions of the current $14 trillion-plus U.S. debt was incurred because of the President Reagan and President George W. Bush tax cuts for large public corporations and the elite rich after 1980 and 2000 that reduced the cash inflow to the U.S. government. While it put money in the pockets of the rich, it made deficits worse, causing the government to borrow more and accumulate more debt.
Aside from this sort of thing being a very un-Christian-like reverse Robin Hood thing to do (taking from the poor with sales tax increases and giving to the rich with income tax decreases) such policies if widely adopted will make an economy worse, not better. The increased sales taxes and proposed flat taxes will reduce the consumer expenditures of relatively lower income citizens, which reduces aggregate demand, which destroys jobs.
Why were these Republican ideologues so dead set on not increasing taxes for large corporations and the elite rich?
The answer is very simple. They told the elite rich in behind-the-scenes deals they would not vote to increase their taxes if they would contribute money for election campaign expenses. Politicians making such deals now have to deliver what they promised.
This problem was made worse after the U.S. Supreme Court absurdly decided 5-4 in the Citizens United case of 2010 (caused by right-wing judges appointed by Bush) that large corporations are people with free speech, making it possible for large corporations with their cash hoards to spend as much money on advertising as they wish to get their cronies elected.
What Republican politicians in Washington and many state politicians are proposing–cutting government spending and raising the taxes of the poor through flat taxes, sales taxes and the like, without raising the income taxes of the elite rich–is the worst thing to do to insure against a major depression, and the best thing to do to cause a depression.
As John Maynard Keynes pointed out in 1936 in his “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,” the best policy for staving off or curing a depression is to increase government spending, lower interest rates, cut taxes and print and borrow money, to increase aggregate demand, the only thing that will motivate corporations and the elite rich to start new businesses and create jobs.
By no means has the U.S. recovered from the mortgage banking meltdown and Great Recession of 2007; and while I am not sure what if anything Keynes said about raising the income taxes of the elite rich to prevent or cure a depression, I’ll bet he would agree with me in this situation.
Obama presented the facts of the deficit and debt case well during his various news conferences. He came across as an intelligent and effective leader, often extemporaneously composing complex efficient and effective sentences artfully expressing thoughts dealing with a wide range of facts and issues with well-reasoned conclusions. I was impressed with how he was able to maintain his emotional composure given the gravity of the situation and the treachery of the disingenuous and vacuous Boehner.
Doing the right thing in Congress entailed not only voting to increase the debt ceiling but voting to raise the tax rates of large public corporations and the elite rich to balance the budget and reduce the federal debt, ideally raising tax rates back to where they were when the handsome movie star Reagan, resplendent and smiling, rode into Washington from California to act out his greatest role as president of the United States in 1981. That’s when the largest governmental transfer of wealth and power from the relatively poor to the relatively rich in human history began.
Meanwhile, a deal was struck just before the witching hour, a deal that the markets responded to Thursday by dropping more than 500 points.
Yes, the 70 million checks went out for the month of August, but the fundamental issues remain unsolved. Forty-one cents of every dollar theU.S. federal government now spends is either borrowed or printed.
August 31, 2011
Hard Times Require Hard Decisions
I became so depressed watching President Obama and House Speaker Boehner talking about the collapse of their debt and deficit talks July 22 that I wrote a 1400-word article and emailed it to the leading newspaper in every state and to every daily newspaper in Georgia.
A week or so later a reader of the Macon Telegraph telephoned telling me he appreciated the article, telling me I hit the nail right on the head. He asked if I thought many Georgians did not understand economics, and I told him I was afraid so. He had an undergraduate degree in chemistry and an MBA and he farmed 800 acres. As far as I know the Macon Telegraph was the only newspaper with the nerve to publish the article.
My caller may have been the only positive reader. A dozen or so readers sent in vituperative comments to the Macon Telegraph, which were published on its website and in print, and the article, also berated on talk radio, was posted on the Internet nationally and internationally. To read the article and comments please type the title in quotes into Google, “The U.S. budget deficit and federal debt — what to do?”
The comments criticized me personally and ignored my reasoning and conclusions: that cutting spending without increasing the income taxes of large corporations and the elite rich can cause another depression; to balance the budget income tax rates for the elite rich should be raised back to where they were in 1981; big business has been undermining small business and relatively lower income citizens since 1981; and Republican House Speaker Boehner apparently did not know that cutting spending will destroy jobs.
I sent this piece you are now reading as a Letter to the Editor in an email to some 40 newspapers in about as many states August 22 and to my knowledge not a single one published it.
Are most newspaper editors and politicians afraid of the corporate military-industrial establishment and the plutocracy in the US? I know I was in 1963-1965 when I published my own weekly newspaper in my hometown in Texas the Wolfforth-Frenship Gazette. If established businesses cancel their advertising because of what you write your paper is history. The same is true for most politicians. If they can’t raise campaign funds because of what they say or write they can’t get elected. Which is why the corporate establishment and the elite rich over time generally get what they want by paying for politicians and political propaganda in mainstream media, especially in mainstream media such as Fox (so-called) News.
Many strange things have befallen humans in the last three decades, perhaps the strangest being the advent of electronic devices such as personal computers, the Internet and cell phones, which enabled ordinary humans to gain access to more timely information regarding events causing change politically and socially, giving them more power to influence such events by enabling them to more quickly disseminate their own thoughts to others, sometimes many others, creating new non-mainstream media, such as this “website”.
This electronic invasion caused a strange bifurcation in the thought and myth-worlds of humans, a polarization of believers and non-believers, not necessarily between believers of various religious doctrines but between humans who are inclined to believe anything opposed to those who analyze what they see and hear. Believers are rewarded by other believers of the same beliefs because of being a loyal member of the belief-group fighting for what the group believes, whether the group believes the beliefs of the ordinary violent street gang of unemployed testosterone-fueled males or the beliefs of myriad economic, political, religious, military, civic or social groups. Non-believers think for themselves and may or not belong to groups, comprising whether they know it or not a generally silent group of isolated individuals.
This process evolved over a million years ago when human savages instinctively learned to band together to fight and defend themselves from other bands to enhance their chances of survival and hopefully reign supreme.
What a fine kettle of fish.
March 1, 2011
Can Another Great Depression Happen?
As an economics major at Texas Tech University in 1960 I asked Dr. Lester Levy, my professor in a course called Government and Business, what caused the Great Depression of the 1930s and if he thought such a thing could happen again.
Professor Levy encouraged comments and questions from students in his class and I was taken aback that my question seemed to unsettle him, as if I was out of line by asking the question. Nonetheless, after quickly assessing where I was coming from, he composed himself in a formal professorial demeanor and addressed the question.
As to the causes of the Great Depression, he reiterated the standard textbook causes—lack of aggregate demand in the economy as a whole, causing people not to buy houses, automobiles and all sorts of consumer goods, causing small businesses to shut down, causing large corporations and small businesses still standing to lay off workers and not spend on investment goods, causing unemployment, causing debtors not to make their loan payments to creditors, causing a collapse of the banking system.
As to whether another Great Depression with 30 percent unemployment could happen, Professor Levy tensed up again and produced an iffy answer: He doubted, hoped or didn’t think another Great Depression could happen, because we had in 1960 too many stabilizers built into the economy, a stabilizer being guaranteed incomes flowing in the economy protected from business cycles. In other words, he thought so many Americans were receiving checks from governments in 1960—for agriculture subsidies, military salaries and pensions, Social Security,
disabilities, welfare, teaching and government work of all sorts that aggregate demand would never plummet as much as it did in the 1930s.
I believed him and I felt better after I heard his answer, especially considering Professor Levy was one of the most distinguished professors at Texas Tech in 1960, with a PhD from a prestigious university and publications in high quality economic journals. His answer caused me not to worry much about depressions—until the last year or so.
I became a university professor myself, teaching entrepreneurship and small business at Georgia Southern University 35 years, and I essentially repeated Professor Levy’s 1960 answer about depressions to my students many times during my career. Having retired at age 64 with a pension in 2005, I no longer repeat Professor Levy’s conclusion. Can another Great Depression happen? In the vernacular of Sarah Palin—you betcha it can!
When capitalism falls on its face, as it did in 2008, federal bureaucrats paid lowly salaries are forced to rescue with taxpayer money top dog CEOs hired by multinational corporations, living in office suites atop skyscrapers, paid millions of dollars per year in salaries and bonuses, who allowed or encouraged the global capitalistic system to collapse, or almost collapse, from the top down. Had the Bush II and Obama administrations in the US and the governments of other rich nations not started injecting trillions of dollars of socialistic money into the global capitalist system in 2008 we would now most likely be in another Great Depression.
Unfortunately the US and global economies, after moving up from the economic bottom of 2008, could fall off the cliff again, as happened in the 1930s after the Crash of 1929. Seemingly oblivious to the causes of economic depressions, power-hungry political zealots, who probably never took a Government and Business economics course, or slept through it if they did, keep chipping away at those stabilizers, from the bottom up, ala Wisconsin as I write this today March 1, 2011, weakening the pillars of the US economy with every hammer blow.
If such people and their soul mates in all countries by some quirk of fate should extensively implement their shortsighted mean-spirited ideological prescriptions in all governments there is no way to predict how low the US and global economies could sink—caused by a collapse of aggregate demand.
June 13, 2011
Capitalism and Earth’s Economy
In many ways the US economy has improved; the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been above 12,000 for several months, approaching its high of 14,000 in October 2007 when the Great Recession started; manufacturing output and profits have improved; some economists see improvements in construction and job creation.
Yet the US stock market has declined a bit in recent days, unemployment has edged up a little, and the international economic and political situation is very uncertain.
Some politicians in Georgia and probably state politicians in other states have considered increasing sales taxes on food and other retail purchases and cutting payrolls to balance their budgets; and some voters and politicians still advocate decreasing income taxes for large corporations and individuals, still arguing this will attract new businesses, spur investment and increase employment for their states, counties, cities and towns, at the expense of other states and their counties, cities and towns.
Aside from this strategy being a very un-Christian-like reverse Robin Hood thing to do (since increasing sales taxes will take money from the pockets of poor people who find it difficult to pay for their basic necessities of life, and decreasing income taxes will put money in the pockets of rich people who have no trouble purchasing their necessities of life), very likely this reverse Robin Hood approach will stimulate less new business activity and help budget problems less than would increasing the income tax rates of the rich and decreasing the sales taxes of the poor.
Why? Because poor people would spend the new money lower sales taxes would make available to them purchasing more goods and services; and rich people would decrease their purchases of goods and services relatively little if their income taxes were increased. Increasing the income tax rates of the rich would probably help budget deficit problems by producing significant new revenue for governments; while increasing the income tax rates of the poor would raise little revenue because poor people have little income to tax in the first place.
What local economies now need most is more demand for real goods and services so existing small businesses can sell more and hire more people; and the way to do that is to put new money in the hands of consumers who will spend the new money on goods and services. Multi-national corporations and wealthy taxpayers won’t start new factories or expand existing factories and hire people if they cannot sell what the new capacity will produce, due to a lack of customers who can afford to buy things—and cutting income taxes for large corporations and the elite rich can only make a government budget deficit worse if the economy is not stimulated enough by the tax cuts to cough up enough new tax revenue to offset the revenue wiped out by the tax cuts.
The Reagan and Bush II tax cuts for multi-national corporations and the elite rich for sure did not generate enough new tax revenue to offset the bird in hand tax revenue they eliminated and those two administrations wound up adding about $5 trillion to our mountain of federal debt, starting in 1981, when the total debt was only $1 trillion, not $14 trillion as it is now. Major causes of the horrendous current $1 trillion + budget deficit of the Obama administration are the Reagan and Bush II tax cuts, which are still in force because Republican congress people would not agree to let them expire in 2010.
The proposition that some of the benefits of cutting taxes for multi-national corporations and the upper classes will always trickle down to local small businesses and the lower classes and balance government budgets is patently false. So why do many politicians and even many relatively lower income voters advocate reverse Robin Hood policies—taking from the poor and giving to the rich?
Most likely it’s because politicians need to raise campaign funds from large corporations and the elite rich to get elected or reelected; and it seems millions of fearful and insecure relatively lower income voters feel and psychologically think good things will happen for them if they cater to and appease the powerful elite rich.
There is considerable risk reverse Robin Hood policies if widely implemented by state and local governments in 2011 could make current economic troubles worse—hurting the relatively rich and the relatively poor alike—by decreasing aggregate demand, which will cause more small businesses to be discontinued than would otherwise have been the case, more unemployment, more budget problems, more social unrest, and more angry omni-befuddled Mad Hatter-like outbursts, diatribes, threats and demonstrations on Fox Propaganda, talk radio, and Mainstreets in towns and cities.
John Maynard Keynes though deceased is probably still the smartest economist in the room when it comes to staving off and curing economic depressions, because of the published work he left behind, especially his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). As he pointed out in 1936 the least bad alternative when capitalism stops working is to increase government spending, cut taxes, lower interest rates and print money, to increase aggregate demand, which should increase retail sales, construction and manufacturing, increase investment and reduce unemployment.
But if capitalism starts working again politicians and economic policy makers Should eliminate budget deficits and reduce debt as soon as possible, to insure against bankruptcy and debt defaults and repudiations down the line. In the meantime they have to sail a treacherous course between two monsters poised to attack on both sides of a narrow strait: the Scylla of runaway inflation and the Charybdis of runaway deflation.
Probably the most significant question about the current US economy is whether the federal government has enough borrowing and money-printing power left to stimulate the whole US economy into a decent recovery—one more time—despite the Mount Everest of federal debt accumulated since 1981—and the de-stimulating budget cuts and revenue enhancements that must be made, by law, by state and local governments in 2011?
In the long run voters and politicians in all countries cannot suspend natural economic laws of supply and demand by feathering their own nests and the nests of their favored few by cutting taxes; lowering interest rates; bailing out and subsidizing certain groups of workers, farmers, banks, insurance companies, manufacturers and industries; erecting tariff barriers; increasing military expenditures; and borrowing and printing money—without destroying the whole economy of Earth, upon which all Earthians depend.
Our Washington politicians fled the halls of Congress last week and went home without agreeing to raise the federal debt ceiling and pass a new federal budget, generally adhering to their party lines, jockeying for personal power and money to increase their chances of reelection.
It is one thing to say the US federal budget must be balanced fairly soon; it is another matter to say it has to happen right now if doing so would cause a catastrophic debt default. The US apparently has a good bit of rope left for more money printing and borrowing to keep the US ship of state sailing with budget deficits and increasing debt, for several years if necessary, which would be far better than power-hungry politicians playing their short-sighted self-interested political games bringing on an unnecessary debt default in the here and now.
Surely the US budget can be balanced in the next few years without ruining our credit rating with debt defaults or repudiations.