Comparative Gems

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Billionaires Rule the Globe

There is nothing wrong with billionaires becoming billionaires and even wealthier if they were to produce products and services raising the living standard.   Unfortunately, this hasn't happened enough. The corporate shareholding structures and the global mutual harmonizing interest of billionaires prevents it.  They interact in identical fashion by investing in Wall Street, the London stock market or the emerging NEOM in Saudi Arabia.  Over the years, they have become conditioned and seemingly addicted to rapid profits extractable out of stock markets.
In fact, in many ways, the global corporate shareholding structures are the economic deformation that divert billionaires from raising the living standard.  It is terrifically easy for them to profit from buying and selling corporations, trading shares, benefiting from insider knowledge and short term rapid profits. Long term, decentralized initiated investments which raise the living standard are of little attractions to them.
As the global financial structure is playing out, it keeps the living standard from rising as much as it could if the structure were reformed.  Beyond this, the structure exhibits strange co-operations.  Chinese Communist billionaires are co-operating and happily investing and profiteering in western stock markets and capitalistic western corporations.  Arab billionaires are intensely interacting with pro-Israeli billionaires and are mutually profiteering while their people are locked into a seemingly never ending confrontation.  Cynics can emit a loud psychocathartic: ah, the ironies of history.
Examples of co-operating and mutually backscratching billionaires are plenty.  It emerges more and more that billionaires Trump and Putin co-operated.  Both are transnational, globally investing billionaires, yet both pretend to be nationalists.  Las Vegas billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn donate to billionaire politicians.   Adelson was a top contributor to the recent campaign, and Wynn is the head of the Republican National Committee finance committee.  Often opposing them politically is billionaire George Soros. 
Globally, Russian, Chinese, Muslim, Latin American billionaires are heavily investing in Wall Street and the London stock exchanges and in untold corporate and other investments.  Nearly all resent national boundaries and/or regulations restraining their rapid investments and profiteering that is mostly devoid of benefiting the people.  Some have citizenships of several nations and tax havens spread globally to no end.
Many of them are even exhibiting symptoms of the fact that there is no honor among thieves.  Trump and Putin, seemingly on very friendly terms earlier, are now estranged.   A Saudi billionaire playboy and heavy investor in Blankfein’s Citigroup, Lyft, Twitter and lots of western fancy hotels has been arrested for fraud by Saudi’s King.  He bonded investing with billionaires Murdoch, Bloomberg et al. in spite of the people of their societies being locked into a severe seemingly never ending diplomatic/military confrontation line.  The question arises if societies’ wealthiest people can co-operate, why can’t their people and their governments?
Meanwhile, wealthy Chinese and Saudis, having tasted the offerings of rapid massive profits through stock speculation, are expanding efforts to enlarge their financial markets.  Saudi Arabia is planning the so-called NEOM free economic zone, a 500 billion dollar project.  It would have few regulations with drone services and driverless cars and presumably becoming a hub for global investment.  No doubt if the Saudi state owned oil company offers its initial public offering to the world in NEOM, it would give Wall Street and London massive competition.  No surprise that Trump recently urged the Saudis to list its oil company on Wall Street.
The solution to unproductive investments by billionaires is actually quite simple.  Taxing less those investments which raise the living standard and taxing heavily unproductive ventures could easily be enacted.  A partial decentralization of all stock markets around the globe would definitely be beneficial for the people.  It would retain investment money regionally and locally where the results can be seen and enjoyed literally by the people.  It would spread wealth far more uniformly across all economies instead of concentrating it into the hands of the few.  As it is, the political will for this is still missing and may not emerge until some overwhelming event, so history proves too often.  The current disclosure of the Paradise Papers showing global tax havens is unlikely to evoke necessary reforms.  The fact that billionaire Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, is co-operating investing with billionaire Putin’s family is also likely to be insufficient to evoke long overdue reforms.
So the globe’s population will have to wait for the sine qua non reforms to serve the living standard and not the top 0.001 percent.

The Long Road from 1917 to 2017

By any standards 1917 was a pivotal year.  President Woodrow Wilson got us into the First World War and Vladimir Lenin imposed Communism onto Russia.  It was the insignificant start of Wilsonism competing with Leninism, and Leninism competing with Wilsonism.  Both practiced universal missionism.  One drew its inspiration from Manifest Destiny while the other drew its inspiration from the Communist Manifesto.   Both forged ideologies which axiomatically assumed human nature to be good.  Both condemned the old and regaled in utopian futures.  Both tended to deify politics, which dangerously neglected ethics.  While Wilsonism wanted to make the world safe for Democracy, Communism soon formed the Third Communist International to make the world safe for the industrial workers.
In an uncompromising crusading fashion that emphasized unconditional surrender, the two future Super Powers, over the long term, put the primacy on foreign policy over domestic policy.   In so doing, both incurred trillions in costs which would ultimately force both to reverse themselves to place the priority on domestic policies.
During the Cold War, the economies of Russia and the U.S. drained their wealth through monstrous military expenditures which caused horrible militarily induced environmental pollution.  Both are still afraid to admit this and actually avoid focusing on it.
In their unrelenting competition both drowned the globe with massive propaganda.  One of the major manifestations of this was the competitive race to the moon. 
During the 40 year long Cold War both engaged in hot wars and supported dozens of client states around the world.  Without much demur, Russians and Americans bore the cost. 
Both engaged in foreign guerrilla wars which both lost.  Ironically enough, both even lost a guerilla war in the same country, Afghanistan, after many years.
Neither learned from the origin of guerrilla war in Spain in 1808, when a few guerillas, i.e. self-appointed warriors, tied down Napoleon’s war machine to no end.
During the 1917 to 2017 period, neither viewed themselves as having major similarities in their historical evolution.  Yet, that was and is the case.  The U.S. had a massive Western Frontier and Russia had a massive Eastern Frontier.  Neither retreated until they met in Alaska, a confrontation which fortunately was solved through a purchase, though without the consent of the native population. 
Russia had serfdom and did not retreat from it until the overwhelming event of a war, the Crimean War.  The U.S. had slavery and did not retreat from it until the overwhelming event of the Civil War.
Presently, both economies are, for all practical purposes, run and dominated by billionaires.  Both have military retiree villages, expressive of their military having acquired symptoms of a caste system, an oddity which does not exist in any other Western economy.
The final irony of the competitive confrontation started in 1917 is the fact that it happened in spite of strong historical similarities.  In a way, this negates somewhat the self-congratulatory belief that the U.S. won the Cold War.  Even Europe’s formulation---to appease Russia--- that everyone won the Cold War is invalid.   The correct historical assessment is that everyone lost during the Cold War.  In a qualified way, everyone  lost during the hundred years, 1917 to 2017, when Wilsonism v. Leninism started the century long competition.  It will not totally end until the priority is placed back on domestic events and not on foreign affairs, especially foreign wars.

Veterans Clubs Can Help To Forge a Long Overdue American Economic Miracle

Comparative global economic facts have proven for many years that the U.S. has been in a relative economic decline.

Train systems in China and in all advanced economies are stunningly ahead of America’s backward system.

 A global wealth study done by an international bank revealed the shocking fact that a mismanaged, crowded and resource poor Italy working 29 percent less than Americans, has attained a median family net worth THREE times higher than resource rich and spacious America.

Almost all towns in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia, etc. outmatch in their clean and attractive appearance our run-down towns with their slum houses and their marginal trailer homes. 

On top of all this, Americans are working more hours than any advanced economy and longer into old age, yet are not gaining.  In a recent year, according to one study, 47 percent of all working Americans did not take a single vacation day.  In spite of this, debts are not reduced and the 1.4 trillion student debt expands the national economic malaise and contributes indirectly to what one could almost call a financial and housing slumerica.

These brutal facts demand, in fact scream, to be solved.

To solve them and to reduce the harsh and destructive political confrontations in D.C. that echoes across the nation, a stunning 20 to 30 year-long economic miracle is needed.  It will not only improve the rusty infrastructure but benefit everyone so that contentment and hope are offered along with lots of other benefits.

Thousands of vet clubs spread across the nation with their Ladies Auxiliaries and their substantial popular support and influence are a suitable nationwide network for prodding the economy into the right direction.  Its members could discuss, criticize and evaluate policies locally, regionally and nationally on the exclusive basis of whether or not they will assure a contribution to a stunning economic miracle. 

Super wealthy people, who have too often produced services and products which did not enhance the living standard but did precisely the contrary, would be admired if they got wealthier through actions benefiting everyone.  Wall Street parasitism could be reduced substantially.  Investment money would have a favorable impact on everyone and not just on the few.

For too long, savings and investments have been collected and concentrated into one locality, Wall Street.  This maximized distances, minimized transparency, and maximized fraud and mismanagement.  It benefited primarily a few Wall Street CEOs and hedge fund managers.  From there the money was re-injected into the economy to spread chain businesses which prevented and/or demolished locally and regionally owned businesses.   Profits were not retained locally but were sent to Wall Street.

CEOs who do not produce products raising the living standard would be mindful of what the nationwide network of veterans clubs thinks of their actions.

To retain savings and investment locally and regionally could be facilitated by the nationwide system if vet clubs were to focus on this.  The results would gradually become self-evident and literally visible locally and regionally.  Wealth would spread more uniformly across the economy.

The shocking fact of having luxurious and pompous corporate/bureaucratic office buildings in ALL metros often next to rundown states of human habitation would no longer be tolerated if veterans were critical.  Wealth accumulation by bureaucracies, a major feature of America’s economic tragedy, would gradually change into wealth accumulation by individuals and families.  GDP growth would directly serve the people and not bureaucracies or the top 0.0l percent.

All of this could be achieved while working less, enjoying more vacations as nearly all successful advanced foreign economies do with mandated 4 to 6 weeks vacation per year and far more holidays.

If the veterans were to start a nationwide focus on an American economic miracle it would not only have untold positive domestic results but also foreign policy benefits which would be nothing less than awesome.  People around the globe would be so impressed with the U.S. that many would try to emulate its policies.  The U.S. would play the global role which Switzerland and Sweden have done in a modified way in Europe, and Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and China have done in Asia. 

Overall the global feedback and results would serve America’s interest far more efficiently at far lower cost than holding a gun against communism or against any perceived or real enemy.  Military costs could be reduced and global influence enhanced through economic indirection and through its many intangible influences which would not be perceived to be a threat. 

If successful, veterans would enjoy the immense satisfaction of having decisively contributed in a very patriotic way for something which everyone wants, needs and respects.   The people would revere American Legion and VFW clubs across the nation.  The clubs will have garnered the admiration and thanks of all who benefited.  The results of an American economic miracle would last for generations and would indeed make America the greatest country in the history of the world.