We have a pretty thick marine layer this morning.

Dear Jody:

We have a pretty thick marine layer this morning. It will clear off around 11 or so. Nonetheless, I put down cracked corn for Chuck the Duck and his mate and held the Canadian geese families at bay until the two Indian Runners had their fill. Then the Canadian geese moved in as I left for home,

I heard reports about what the news folks are finding out about the collapsed condo in Surfside, FL. Apparently, (I would stress that this is tentative and not fully verified yet) in addition to the inspection warnings about the building three years ago, there are reports from the recovery work that there is less re-bar in the rubble than the design (structural plans) called for and that the wrong size of re-bar may have been used.


I am reminded of the confidence quote attributed to either John Glenn or Alan Shephard while sitting on top of a launch vehicle built by the lowest bidder. “ ‘I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder.” Now, would you buy a condo in a multi-story building put up by the lowest bidder? (I personally would not buy, rent, or lease in any tall building, period.)

On a totally different topic, I think we run our tax system wrong. We need to more heavily tax income, active and passive, that goes into wealth accumulation rather than heavily taxing income that provides for living expenses. Income that is used to pay for housing, food, medicine, recreation, education, and consumer goods and services will have a greater multiplier effect in the economy at large than income that is directed into the financial sector and investment vehicles. So heavily taxing income used for non-investment purposes is a drag on the ability of those earning taxable income from accumulating wealth. Not to mention the overall level of economic activity. Nevertheless, a tax on money going into wealth accumulation needs to be progressive.

Two more fireworks shots from the television on the 4th.

S 20210704_194921
S 20210704_185004

Nancy sends her love. Stay safe, healthy, and having fun. Love Ed

Ongoing coup d’état

A few years ago, sometime after Trump’s election, a friend of mine from undergraduate days at Indiana University commented that he fully expected a right win coup d’état here in the US in his lifetime. That friend is a Washington, DC lawyer with a thriving practice. Over the four years of Trump’s presidency we witnessed Trump outwardly fluting the norms that have guided (restrained) presidents and administrations. That cumulated in his denial of the outcome of the 2020 election, the January 6th insurrection, and the spate of Republican sponsored laws to cripple the various state’s fair elections which are open to all citizens. None of that is over for the Trump base and the elected and aspiring to be elected Republicans at the local, state and national level. If we view these continuing efforts as a coup d’état in progress, out in the open, so far without arms being employed, and compare it to other coup d’états we find one difference between this attempt and others, some of which were successful. That difference is this attempted coup d’état is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . .”, the willingness of a large swath of our population (largely a white swath) to believe they are somehow injured or their way of life is threatened by some lies they are told, an alternative reality, and racist superiority nonsense.

The alternative reality is the most easily addressed. If we go back to the decades before 1776 in this country, we find that there was a growing willingness for Americans to believe they were exploited by England by the tax structure, military occupation, government from England, and while they were Englishmen, they had no representation in Parliament. So, the American Revolution was itself stimulated by an alternative reality. The colonialists here thought of no taxation without representation,” not being forced to quarter troops in their homes, and taxes that went to community use and not use in far off England was a better alternative to what the facts on the ground were. But unlike the current crop of alternative realities, the 2020 Presidential election was fair, the changing demographics of America have been well known and predicted for all of my life (3/4th of a century), and the folks who are funding the current coup d’état are the financial beneficiaries of tax laws.

So, our problem today is how do we fight against an ongoing coup d’etat that is based on lies, culture wars, and racial prejudice when all of it is legal speech? How do we fight against the ongoing coup d’etat when we are constrained by democratic values, practices, and even laws?

Yes, this scares me .

This will appear tomorrow in deartedandjody as part of the letter to Jody

HAPPY JUNETEENTH

Dear Jody:

I was amused yesterday when I read Congressman Norman’s (R-SC) comments  “On Fox Across America with Jimmy Failla, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) explained why he was one of fourteen Congressmen to vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

“Thirteen others of us will be the only ones voting against this. There’s one Fourth of July. There’s one birthday, Independence Day is Fourth of July. And I had a lot of negativity on it. But this was an easy no vote. The fact that they would try to make race a part of it, it had nothing to do with race, how many holidays do we want? What’s the magic number? This would put it to eleven. Do we want twenty? . . .”

https://crooksandliars.com/2021/06/republican-congressman-explains-his-easy

I was amused with his comment because I have an answer for the Congressman, it is 52! I hasten to add, that the congressman is a conservative. However, I rather suspect he is a Coprolite instead. We don’t know at present from what species, only more utterances from him will betray that (bray that? It is most likely a cross between a horse and a mule 🙂 . Regardless, it has become clear that the conservative Republicans have become less ideological of late and more into other “things.”

I think the holiday is not only appropriate but long overdue; however, I would think we would be more concerned with systemic racism, the preponderance of racist behavior and complicity by whites, equality, and things that matter in everyday lives. Nonetheless making the day all blacks who were held in slavery for two extra years were finally freed, is well worth a celebration.

Nancy is in transit again today. Liz, her daughter is driving through Tennessee and Kentucky. Nancy has a habit of putting her left foot into the floorboard as if she were pressing on the brake peddle, Liz says Nancy is getting better as a passenger for she has only done the foot on the floorboard 5 times (so far 🙂 ) in Tennessee and Kentucky.

When I got to the boat ramp at 4:20 this morning, Chuck and Duck and his mate were waiting for me. Indeed his mate came up to the Palisade. After she ate, she disappeared into the brush on the south side of the boat ramp. Chuck hung around and ran most of the mallards off who wanted a piece of the “action.” There was no color this morning, as the clouds were too thick on the northeast horizon.

s 20210619_045708 B&W calc

However, I think those same clouds were responsible for this last night 1 minute after sunset.

p 20210618_211634 3h shot Panorama 64x39 inches 72 dpi 37pt6

Nancy sends her love. Stay safe, healthy, and having fun. Love, Ed 

Central banks hold 20% of all the gold ever mined

Dear Jody:

Reading economics as I have been of late, I run into things that make me wonder, “Why exactly is that?” I either make a note to pay attention to anything that might give me an answer or I Google the question. One fact I came across yesterday was that central banks around the world owned 20% of all the gold that has ever been mined. I wondered “Why would central banks own all that gold?” The fairly standard answer I got was: to mitigate risk, as an inflation hedge, and to facilitate stability and growth. https://investingnews.com/daily/resource-investing/precious-metals-investing/gold-investing/why-do-central-banks-buy-gold/#:~:text=To%20facilitate%20stability%20and%20growth,and%20speed%20of%20market%20growth. I found the part about mitigating risk was the only part that made real sense to me. It was an answer given in a report from the Dutch central bank: “Central banks such as DNB (Dutch National Bank) have therefore traditionally had a lot of gold in stock. After all, gold is the ultimate nest egg: the trust anchor for the financial system. If the entire system collapses, the gold supply provides collateral to start over. Gold gives confidence in the strength of the central bank’s balance sheet. That gives a safe feeling.” The part about “if the entire system collapses” really struck me.

I deduced another answer in reading The Deficit Myth in her chapter 5, “Winning at Trade.” While Stephanie Kelton does not say as much, from what she writes, I deduce that a nation with a positive US trade deficit, China for example, could instead of holding US Dollars, or converting those dollars into Treasuries (which pay interest), that nation could purchase gold which those dollars (in case “the entire system collapses” 🙂 ). Nonetheless, given the Dutch National Bank statement, I do wonder if the international financial system is that fragile.

Yesterday was a bad day for former president Trump. A judge ruled his nondisclosure agreements were not enforceable which probably means some of his former nondisclosure folks will monetize what they know in tell-all books. https://hillreporter.com/court-rules-against-donald-trump-on-secrecy-agreements-96734 And, the NY Attorney General changed her inquiry into his “organization ” from a civil investigation to a criminal one. Poor Donnie.

This morning was a chilly 37 degrees F.

s 20210519_050317

Nancy sends her love. Stay safe, healthy, and having fun. Love, Ed

Black Reparations

In The Devil You Know.  https://www.amazon.com/Devil-You-Know-Black-Manifesto/dp/0062914669 Charles Blow cites some statistics about Black arrests and fines that are disproportionate to their percentage of the population. In places like Ferguson Mo, and NY NY they are mind-boggling. That got me to thinking about reparations. I have heard discussion about the economic value added to white slave owners’ coffers and the economy of the US when Blacks were slaves. If measured in today’s dollars I am not at all sure there are enough dollars to make up for what modern Blacks’ ancestors contributed to those coffers and the economy. What did occur to me while reading Blow’s The Devil You Know is there may be enough dollars in circulation to make up for the fines, bail deposits, forfeitures contemporary Blacks have paid and the low wages (statistics he partially provides), and all the other economic disparities Blacks in America have endured because of systematic discrimination in their lifetimes.

Looking at what is happening in the news of late, I am rather convinced that if a reparations arrangement were adopted today, Blacks would be royally under-compensated. This I think because almost all whites in America do not think they are to blame for the status and treatment of Blacks today or in the recent past. However, those same whites have been silent in almost all, if not all, of the atrocities they have witnessed (or turned a blind eye toward) on a daily if not hourly basis. While liberal whites think they are not racists, that statistics of police shootings happen outside of the Southern states, and the executions of Blacks happen, again, outside of the Southern States, the race riots happened in places like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and not in the cradle of the Confederacy. Yet if reparations were adopted today the, so-called, white liberals outside of the south would be the impetus behind them.

Then there is the problem of a white backlash. Every time Blacks make even the smallest step toward equality and justice, whites react, and often that reaction is violent (I did mention race riots). Whites think that they lose something when Blacks gain something. Imagine if the Black gain comes out of white tax dollars. However, I do have a possible solution.

Since my idea of democratizing money by monetizing citizens has yet to gain traction in the body politic, why not use the approach I take in that plan,

https://www.amazon.com/Democratize-Money-Monetize-Citizens-Proposal/dp/1549614487 ,  , to provide funds for reparations for blacks? Since Charles Blow wants to have Blacks vote to gain political power, put all the aspects of my plan into effect in paying $20,000/year in reparations for the life of all Blacks 18 and older. Require voting by recipients (and stiff penalties for anyone or entity obstructing in any way their exercise of the franchise), give the state governments and the federal government the payments in lieu of taxes (no tax on the reparations). I am not altruistic here, this may stimulate the overall adoption of the idea. In the long run, it may be better to bring everyone along at the same time. It would thus avoid being called a “socialist” plan.

Anti-republican bills submitted by Republican legislators– A solution?

As I understand the justification for the bills it is because there had to be massive frauds and other funny business in the 2020 Presidential Election. The evidence for this is first, former President Trump says he won and “they” stole the election from him. And second, the voluminous evidence (my sarcasm is showing here) is illustrated in the State of Texas where the Attorney General’s office found sixteen cases of voter fraud billing over 22,000 hours of staff time to find them. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/texas/article/Ken-Paxton-s-beefed-up-2020-voter-fraud-unit-15820210.php?utm_campaign=CMS%20Sharing%20Tools%20 And third, because a significant portion of the Trump voters believe the former president’s big lie and a significant number of elected Republican officeholders refuse to refute the big lie.

Now these bills which will make it more difficult for citizens to vote are sponsored by Republican legislators. There is irony in Republican sponsorship, for the word republican when applied as a modifier before government means “representative.” Measures which make it harder for citizens to vote are anti-republican. Now if these measures are passed into law and signed by the state governors those state elections will produce less representative outcomes.

Non here is the kicker. Article IV Section IV of the United States Constitution provides that “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government. . .” If those bills pass, those states will have nonrepresentative governments. Any claim to representation that those states claim will be to a segment of their populations. Given the wordage of the rest of the US Constitution, particularly the 14th Amendment, it is clear that all citizens in a state are equal in the eyes of the law, Thus any measure designed to exclude some renders the state in noncompliance with having a republican government. Further its representation in Congress will over-represent a class of voters who do vote under their restiveness laws. Can representation be assured if only part of the population of citizens is able to vote? No, it can not.

The remedy is straightforward. The Brennan Center

https://www.brennancenter.org/ has determined that if HR1 is enacted into law the over 200 bills introduced into the more than 40 state legislatures would be obviated by the precedence of federal law. The courts would strike them down. If the US Senate is unable to find a way to pass HR1 because of its rules which get in the way of passing laws, then the US Attorney General should initiate legal action to declare these laws unconstitutional as they violate Article IV and the 14th Amendment.

T. Edward Westen, March 18, 201

The Health of the Economy v. The Health of the People

Yesterday was the anniversary of the WHO declaring the Covid19 pandemic. Today is the anniversary of Nancy and I being in lock-down. Yesterday a number of people on television were amazed at how bad the pandemic hit the United States of America. Clips of the former president minimizing the pandemic from the start of the pandemic to his leaving office. Yet, yesterday the Attorney General of the State of Texas filed a lawsuit against a Texas municipality for trying to maintain a mask mandate in the face of the Governor of Texas lifting the statewide mask mandate. https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/11/us/texas-mask-mandate-attorney-general-austin-travis-county/index.html The argument the Texas AG makes is that a locality mandating masks is contrary to the explicit intent of the Governor’s lifting the mandate to restore the economy.

Keeping the economy going has been a theme of former President Trump and most Republican governors for the past year. Texas has been particularly intent on opening its economy from any lock-down and mask-wearing requirements. The theme in Texas has been that a mandate that calls for wearing masks and limiting or shutting down business violates their “freedoms and liberties.” The thing about “freedom and liberty” is that without “equality” both “freedom and liberty” are at best illusions, and at worst words to placate people who are being prayed upon by the economic interests behind keeping the state open for business during a normal pandemic. Never mind that “your personal freedom or liberty” from not following public health guidelines (or even mandates) become a personal right to spread a deadly disease, the Covid19 virus. In fact “your personal freedom or liberty” from not following public health guidelines becomes an indiscriminate license to kill some of those you may infect. Exercising what you call freedoms and liberties when exercised by all, will cause the death of some, and thus your exercise of your freedoms and liberties results in the inability of others to exercise their liberties and rights because you have killed them by transmitting the disease to them.

A mask-less person might argue that a) they don’t have the virus, or b) if they had it they didn’t know. Either way, this particular virus can take days to manifest its presence, or never give signs it is there at all (asymptomatic carries). So they are not at fault for spreading it. Unfortunately, the nature of the virus is such that one does not know immediately if one has caught it and because it is so widespread (it is a pandemic after all), one has to take precautions not to spread it. Then too, if one had been wearing a mask one would likely not have caught it in the first place. Look at the population of medical personnel who have successfully avoided infection by wearing masks and other personal protective equipment for the year during the time the pandemic has been declared.

Strangely most people who insist on exercising their freedoms and liberties will tell you that a person’s freedom stops at the end of other peoples noses. And they would add they are not striking anyone in the nose. (“Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Zechariah Chafee, Jr., and the Clear and Present Danger Test for Free Speech: The First Year, 1919” Fred D. Ragan  The Journal of American History Vol. 58, No. 1 (Jun., 1971), pp. 24-45 (22))

Ironically, breathing through one’s nose is the primary way people catch the Covid19 virus. The virus would not be in the air for a person to catch unless someone carrying the virus is breathing without a mask has very recently, or is currently, in the vicinity. So, they are extending their freedom and liberty directly, by air, into someone’s nose.

Setting aside Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, and successor cases that treat corporations under the law as if they are people, the major trade-off between masks, social distancing, washing hands and economic entities is with small, largely unincorporated businesses for these smaller entities must stay open to continue to be viable economic units. Major corporations have various stream of income that will largely continue through a pandemic and are unlikely to have to close their doors. Indeed, in one looks at the equities market valuation of major corporations during this past year, the New York Stock Exchange for example,, closed at a record the day before yesterday. So the major corporations are doing relatively well (actually making out like bandits).

Small local businesses are going under during the pandemic. Those that stay open have lost revenue and had to lay employees off. As long as mask mandates and limited occupancy is in place, small, local businesses will continue to fail. However, if the mask mandates and occupancy limits are lifted too soon, some of the owners and employees of these small businesses will become infected and some will die. One has to wonder if business failure is worse than the death of the owners, the owner fatalities, and the owner’s employees (not to mention customers who are infected and die from a contact in the small, local business.

I am not aware of any, in Texas, for example, efforts to shore up the finances of the small, local businesses. For in most states the firms were on their own. Yes, the first Covid19 Relief package back in 2020 did have some provision for assisting small businesses. But that did not go too well in the application.

So what is the problem? Succinctly put, it is that Members of the US House of Representatives and Members of the US Senate are elected because of campaign donations which largely come from moneyed interests (major corporations are moneyed interests). So our representatives seem to be acutely more aware of major corporate needs than they are of smaller, local business needs. And clearly, our elected national representatives are much more acutely aware of moneyed interests than they are of the needs of the rest of us. So, even at the national level, the health of the economy has been of greater import to lawmakers than the health of individual citizens (former President Trump’s mask-wearing and pronouncements [untruths] underscore this point).

So in the tension between the health of the economy and the health of the citizens it was foreordained that the economy, at least the economy represented in the New Your Stock Exchange and other markets would win. Putting it another way, we all may have freedoms and liberties, but we all are not equal we are just consumers for those who are “more equal.” (George Orwell, Animal Farm)

NOTE: This will also appear in Deartedandjody today.

Will Racism Rule the Nation?

Why do so many people living in our democracy want to take steps towards a non-democratic form of government? Inevitably there is an underlying reason such as belief in their superior status, aka white privilege and white supremacy. Pretexts used to restrict voter access seem to be the “thing” in States legislatures these days.

It is easier for them to use pretexts rather than the truth that they want to prevent black and brown people from voting as that truth is unacceptable to a whole lot of us and they know it, I remember the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas in September of 1957. That fall, a friend asked me if I would go bowling with him to find out if the bowling alley in Terre Haute, Indiana, was integrated. He want to take a girl there and he did not know if it would accept them as he was black. I remember a whole lot of other events over the years that have us in an uneasy state of “official” integration of our nation; yet, still today, the number of white people coming out of the woodwork to express their supremacy or privilege under the guise of lies told by Trump and his minions about the theft of an election, the election, as far as I can tell is the fairest election we have ever had, is frightening.

I say pretexts to restrict voting as the proponents of these bills argue that there was fraud in the recent presidential election, or that the laws were not followed or similar statements all based upon Trump’s Big Lie (you know the one he started selling in August, three full months before he lost). Apparently the truth that they don’t want minorities to vote is apparently too awkward for them to articulate. For example Senator Kennedy at a hearing on Tuesday asked “You mean to tell me that people war prejudiced and don’t know it?” The answer to Senator Kennedy is, “No, Senator, there may be some whose behavior is racist and they don’t realize it because it is second nature to them, but by in large, those who are knowingly racist have learned over the years being racist is unacceptable in the larger body politic that is the USA.”

The problem is that for the past five years, Donald Trump has given white supremacists and those who enjoy white privilege permission to come out of the woodwork—go public in greater numbers. I do suspect white supremacists and those enjoying white privilege see the demographic trends and reality they will firmly be in a minority if not next week (from their perspective) in the fairly near future. I rather suspect white supremacists fear being in the minority, for they fear being treated when they are in the minority the way they treated the blacks (and other minorities) in America since 1619. The whites dehumanized the blacks and do so to this day. The thing is it is still socially unacceptable to be outright racists, so they channel their racism through a set of filters most of the time: socialism, left wing rioters, and the like. I would use Antifa here, but it is not clear to me that it exists as an organization similar to Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, or other white extremist groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map or the FBI. However, if Antifa did not exist, the white supremacists and their voices in the Congress would have to invent it to blame when white violence becomes identifiable as white supremacy violence, as Senator Johnson did in a hearing a day or so ago.

When I taught my first American National Government class at the University of South Carolina in 1969, I recall the class reaction to my assertion that if the government allowed discrimination against any group, no group was potentially exempt from being discriminated against if it was of benefit to someone with political influence. One redheaded young man with blue eyes said, “But we are not like them.” My response was, that makes you easily identifiable for special attention.” Unfortunately the sense of white privilege and superiority was so ingrained in those young minds, that the would not look at the possibility of such a thing ever happening. Unless I miss my guess, the possibility I reference above of their being treated the way they treat and treated blacks, some 50 plus years later is occurring to them and their progeny today.

As a nation we have never address white supremacy, white privilege, and racism. The Civil War did not do it. The Civil War Amendments did not do it. Brown v. Board of Education, did not do it, Swan v, Charlotte-Mecklenburg did not do it, President Johnson handing over the South to the Republican Party (Signing the Civil Right Act of 1964) did not do it. Assassinations, murders, and The KKK losing a case and their property to a black woman did not do it. Electing Obama did not do it. Unfortunately all those failures to solve white supremacy, white privilege, and racism leaves the nation in a state of vulnerability from the racists today.

The answer to my question, “Why do so many people living in our democracy want to take steps towards a non-democratic form of government?” seems to be, they do not believe in the fundamental tenets of democracy, one of which is equality. They can not ascribe equality to non-whites. They scream freedom and liberty, but they do not realize that freedom and liberty are largely the products of equality. They do not seem to realize the appearance of freedom and liberty are products of democracy. For without democracy they would be sujgect to the wims of autocrats, monarchs, or soviet councils and any other form of opression one can imagine. However, with democracy, which is predicated on the elquality of one person one vote and that means every person, they can not count on the freedom and liberty they seem to clammor for. They have it now, but risk loosing it because they would subjegat blacks and other minorities. And as I told that red-headed, blue eyed young man in 1968 if the government allowed discrimination against any group, no group was potentially exempt from being discriminated against.

However, that leaves us with the question of how to squash white supremacists and white privilege and other forms of racism and still keep our republican and democratic form of government?

Supreme Court declares Trump emoluments lawsuits moot

It would appear that the Supreme Court has little concern for Presidential Emoluments violations. Unfortunately this sets a bad precedent for what future presidents have to consider when they take the oath of office to uphold the constitution and faithfully executed the laws, for example, by accepting emoluments. Tossing suits for being moot because Trump is no longer in office, fails to recognize that the Maryland and DC suit filed in 2017 near the end of Trump’s first years in office suggests that Trump’s legal strategy of causing delay paid off. In effect the Supreme Court by dismissing a case for not being moot because conditions have changed (the person no longer occupies the office) suggests that the Court itself can utilize delay to avoid making decisions. (Note, delay was often the case in abortion cases). It may be a way the Court can avoid fashioning a penalty or remedy for an emoluments violation. While there are federal laws that prohibit government employees from accepting gifts from foreigners and foreign governments, I doubt that there are laws on the books dealing with the President or entities owned by him doing business with foreigners or foreign governments.

When the issue of emoluments first arose, one may recall the debates over the meaning of the term. In the 18th Century emoluments seemed to have a broad meaning including profit or gain from a transaction. https://www.npr.org/2017/09/05/548002254/professor-37-historic-dictionaries-disagree-with-trumps-definition-of-emolument Unlike the Trump lawyer’s claim that emoluments did not include business transactions. It would appear the Supreme Court did not want to get into the business of translating the 18th Century English into modern English.

Other than the fact that by throwing cases out for being moot so there is no name to the non-decision such as Dread Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, or Citizens united, the Court’s decision of “mootness” does not share the same level of bad decisions the aforementioned cases, but belongs rightfully in the same category as those badly thought out decisions that sought to avoid a decision consistent with the Constitution.