By James A. Kidney Presidential Rasputin Steve Bannon called for “deconstructing the administrative state” at a convention of those-who-used-to-be-known-as-Reagan-conservatives-but-are-now-just-Trump-nuts Thursday at the new MGM gambling palace in Maryland. “Deconstructing the administrative state” echoes Lenin after a couple bottles of vodka screaming in Red Square, or maybe just a long-haired 19-year-old outside the 1968 Democratic convention. It is both threatening and laughably cracked. The phrase probably is just a word pudding for the old Republican oligarch’s favorite book, A Treasury of Economic Nonsense, a political Kama Sutra coauthored during a fevered coupling of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. These are the erotic (to Republicans) positions that cause enthusiastic ejaculations by Paul Ryan – no taxes, no rules, no government, except to buy military equipment and to protect patents. Give Bannon credit for PR. “Deconstructing administrative excess” certainly is gentler sounding than “gutting the government.” Once you are accustomed to the … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Tuesday’s election results — President, Senate and House — freed liberalism from its shackles. The ransom payment is high. In the long run, it may be worth the price. The key is to put aside defeatism and start adopting new tactics now that the Democratic Party elite has been shamed and defeated by a horrible con man and his angry allies. Liberalism — by which I mean a set of political goals recognizing and trying to contain the power of the elite, bringing genuine equality of economic opportunity to those not sharing in the top five percent, and sponsoring a strong foreign policy using force as a last resort — has been treated by the Democratic Party for years as the smelly uncle at the dinner table who talks too much but contributes too little. Hillary Clinton embodied this party sentiment in her campaign, fully endorsed … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Happy birthday, Vanguard S&P Index Fund! You turned 40 years old on August 31 and you are the granddaddy of index funds, says a congratulatory article in The Wall Street Journal. You also are very healthy and growing like a newborn. But investing in the Vanguard S&P 500 or other such funds will not save “market capitalism” which, at about 250-years-old is suffocating to death — thanks to Wall Street. Two other Wall Street Journal stories provide signs — as if any more were needed — that the stock markets no longer function as places where people and institutions make bets on those public companies that are expected to perform well and those expected to perform poorly. That is, or was, the sole utility of stock markets — to reward companies with a bright future and punish those that misstep. It was the way capitalism among public … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Now that the major party nominees are chosen, the economic pundits are making their recommendations on how to boost what remains a moribund economy. Despite recent months of reported job increases and a slight uptick in average pay last month, few believe the economy is robust or expected to be so. See also here (pay wall). The reasons — and proposed cures — depend on your politics, of course. Where the Candidates Stand Donald Trump this week proposed the usual failed trickle down policies. He wants tax cuts for the wealthy, including elimination of the estate tax (which effects about 0.2 percent of citizens). He would increase the earned income tax credit, which is a pure redistribution of a little income to the poor which does not create jobs. He would provide only a tax deduction for child care — which means you have to … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Whether you are a reluctant or die-hard supporter of Hillary Clinton, or even an increasingly rare “undecided” voter, take the weekend to savor the just-concluded Democratic convention. Enjoy your own post-convention “bounce”. Set aside your serious worries about the Republican candidate, though by-all-means enjoy the dark humor his candidacy has engendered. If you think about presidential politics at all, be sunny. If necessary, suspend your disbelief. The hard and fearful events of the campaign will come again soon, if they have not already begun. Savor the warm recollections of our gorgeous First Lady and her thanks to the American people for providing love and confidence as she, her husband and two beautiful daughters weathered vicious attacks on their Americanism, heritage and hope from politicians and people who have not a flicker of their good spirit. Remember the vice president’s speech. He knows the disappointments of life … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney The New Yorker and Pro Publica websites today posted an article by Pro Publica’s Jesse Eisinger about the de minimis investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into the conduct of Goldman Sachs in the sale of derivatives based on mortgage-backed securities during the run-up to the Great Recession of 2008. The details of the SEC’s failure to aggressively pursue Goldman in the particular investigation, Abacus, and its refusal to investigate fully misconduct by Goldman and other “Too Big to Fail” banks, stands not only as a historic misstep by the SEC and its Division of Enforcement, but undermines the claim that the Obama Administration has been “tough on Wall Street.” The Pro Publica version contains links to a few of the documents I provided. No one in authority who was involved in the Goldman investigation ever gave me an explanation for why the effort was so slight. … Read more of this post . . .