Archive for Economics

Let’s Avoid a Deal!

POTUS Trump is beyond unclothed. His life lie is that he cuts great deals (just look at his ghosted book). Truth be told he has neither the wit nor the ability to cut a deal with anyone.

Consider the current legislative agenda — raise debt ceiling, fix DACA, drive tax reform, and more. So far, since inauguration, his tack is steering toward avoidance. He has repeatedly said Congress failed (as in repealing the ACA), and throws the burden of proposing, fleshing out and passing fixes to problems.

Were he not so ignorant and dull-witted, he’d know that Presidents in his lifetime, well, cut deals. Rather than saying, “Hey, Congress, fix this!,” they proposed rough and sometimes detailed legislation to start the stew. Then they cut deals (that idea and word again) with key legislators. They had it happen. They did deals.

This bozo is not in the same circus.

Update: #45 might get a deal lesson. He aligned with Congressional Dems on debt ceiling and hurricane relief. Of course, this fits the definition of irony in showing he can finally cut a deal, but only with the nominal opposite party.

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Capitalism Made Me Do It

#45, Donald Trump the Elder is again weeping onto his gold cufflinks. This wee melodrama concerns his (and his daughter Ivanka’s) foreign sourcing. In the midst of his ironically misnamed Made In America Week, the House of Trump source their booze, clothes and tchotchkes typically via Chinese or Pakistani sweatshops.

He, honestly truly, pulled out the basest of disingenuities — he and his daughter are forced, forced they tell us, to use the suppliers who offer the lowest prices. That’s the evil corollary of one of the big lies of fantasy capitalism. That is, the only duty of managers is to maximize profit. Anything else is an abrogation of duty of shareholders, a failure.

Well, kiddies. That’s hooey.

First, if capitalism was its perfect version, if supply-and-demand worked as promised, there would be some justification for such amorality. Alas, we live in a nation of oligopoly and monopoly and government protection of and intervention for corporations.

Businesses in general do not respond to the ideal market forces in timely fashion. They really can’t claim they must do this or that when they have real reasons and choices. Nothing demands they be brutal and vicious to make a profit, much less that maximum short-term profit is the only goal.

Pic Note: Public domain image of a 1913 Ford assembly plant.

Let’s think about a serious capitalist, a certain Henry Ford. He loved his money and made a lot of it. Yet he was much, much smarter than #45.

For example, Unlike textile magnates, railroad builders and mine owners, he took a broad view as well as a narrow one (yes, Ford was savvy enough to look short and long simultaneously).

He pioneered the assembly line, but was not a vampire or monster about it. He paid more than other manufacturing owners…and for good reason. As he put it, he wanted his workers to earn enough to buy the cars they made. And they did, which made him even richer than if he had underpaid and overworked them.

Today, this Trump character claims that because he got a transfer undergraduate degree from a good business school and that he didn’t totally blow his multi-million dollar inheritance, he is the epitome of a capitalist. He also claims that he’ll make America great again while hiring American and buying American.

The latter set is total jive. His companies source overseas from the cheapest, from steel to finished goods to contractors. He seems to get the maximum-profit sliver of capitalism. He misses the broad view that Ford understood well.

So, consider whether any of the Trumps or any business owner at all made a slightly smaller profit margin, while helping their workers, industry, state and nation grow and prosper. The mindless subset of self-proclaimed capitalist may scream that the shareholders would never allow that and would force them out.

Of course in Donald and Ivanka’s cases, that won’t happen. They don’t lead public corporations. Even if they did though, the optics and PR of (pause to allow the Ann Coulter types of retch) the gentle altruism of helping the nation and workers would surely hold the day. The greediest of shareholders might switch their investment to a more parasitic company. Meanwhile, we see that socially responsible companies do quite well, thank you very much, and have no problem attracting cash.

Capitalism has its uses, but hiding behind it simply to exploit does not serve anyone in the supply chain or in this case the nation. I fear #45 does not have the brain power to see the issues, much less to lead the nation in solving them.

 

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Whither Dems Podcast

rightsign2The Trump win Tuesday is the right time to stop these weekly podcasts after 9½ years. Watch this URL for occasional commentary, maybe a little video…later.

Today was my usual half-Vulcan Spock self.

We shall survive as a nation, as we did during and after the George W. Bush time. He ruined the economy even more than the typical Republican. We haven’t climbed all the way out of his debt pit. We’ll never get back the many thousands of lives lost to war and jobs destroyed. I fear more of that from Trump.

I snort as Speaker Ryan and GOP sorts claim mandate. The lost the popular vote, held the House only due to gerrymandering in previous years, and hold a paper-thin Senate majority. Mandate, my bad head!

We don’t yet know what malicious laws Congress will try to enact. We do know that the wave of emotion that brought us President Trump is as irrational and ignorant as he. We need look no farther than comparing the cries of do-nothing Congress and throw the rascal out to right-wing voters keeping nearly all the do-nothings and rascals from the GOP in office. Huge duh.

We’ll surely have at least two years of pettiness and malice. As the economy slides and unemployment climbs, even the loudest Trumpettes will feel shame. Let us look historically to see in the last century that again and again Dems have rescued the nation after the GOP has goofed it up.

It’s going to be a rough, disheartening, anti-American two to four years.

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MBTA Fair Fares Podcast

The MA legislature and recent governors have lacked vision, and still do on mass transit. They look for shortcuts, quick fixes and binary left-brained answers to questions that should demand deep analysis and keen insights.

Residents, particularly those in the Boston area, will get another fare hike of between 9 and 10%. It makes life harder on poorer citizens and solves absolutely none of the T’s troubles.

I talk a bit about the absurd and irrational debt service, about the shameful forward-funding scheme the legislature pile on the MBTA, and why they won’t even consider admitting they thoroughly blew it, much less try to fix it.

When these hikes are under discussion, a few of us call and yell and write and testify that they need to ask meaningful questions. The only one they seem to come up with is not meaningful, rather it is “How big a fare raise and we get?”

Honk. Wrong question.

My rant is has two sides. First and most obvious is fix the damn funding blunder, so the T can have cash flow for operations and maintenance. Harder but more important is asking what we want and expect from the T.

The answer is not the stupid one — on-time trains that are clean and safe. Those should be sine qua non. No, if we want mass transit to be affordable for getting all from where they live to where they work, if we want it to reduce vehicular traffic, noise, pollution and other congestion, we need to be willing to subsidize it like we do with cars and trucks.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report on T funding is here.

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Goosing the Lame Duck Podcast

Still stunned Republicans in Congress must also be hearing their leaders bluster about how the POTUS and his Dems had better do whatever they say. Huh?

We kicked around what was possible in this lame-duck Congress and short-term 2013. Listen in below as we hit the fiscal cliff (totally manufactured brinkmanship), immigration reform (and GOP efforts to get just a little Latino voter love), and more. The fiscal slope is a better term and Congress has months to concoct a fix, although House Republicans could stop this foolishness immediately by passing the Senate-approved bill extending middle-class tax cuts.

We think aloud about the kind of blame the right will take if they fool around too much, too long and too obviously.

We ended up comparing MA Dems’ rethinking after the Sen. Scott Brown victory three years ago and our amazement that the national Republicans can not thrown themselves into the kind of restructuring that served Dems so well here.

icon for podpress  Goosing the Lame Duck [30:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Election 2012 Showdown Podcast

Double guests, double insights today. Mat Helman of ProgressMass and Jason Stephany of MassUniting joined us to talk the races for POTUS and US Senate from MA.

There’s no secret that all four of us favor Elizabeth Warren over Scott Brown and Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. Helman and Stephany got down into details about why their and their organizations were working for them.

As background, you might also check out ProgressMass’ PDF file on Brown’s rhetoric v. record here.

Listen in as Stephany rips into the myth of Brown’s alleged independence and bipartisanship. Helman goes into depth about how Brown gets away with portraying himself as the concerned middle-of-the-road guy while voting for winger agenda on every important issue. It’s a PR primer.

We deal a bit with Brown running from a fourth and final debate and the effects of Hurricane Sandy on next week’s vote. Click below to listen.

icon for podpress  Election 2012 Showdown [33:54m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Picking Paul Podcast

It’s not an assured victory for President Obama following Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as VP candidate, but it’s close. There are those unknown issues, such as the couple of billionaires and many millionaires who have pledged to spend whatever it takes in PAC and direct contributions to put the GOP in power.

Perhaps more important, Obama and his crew have to frame the monstrous Ryan budget proposals clearly. Then, they have to make sure the Dems, moderates and independents drag themselves to the polls on November 6th.

Listen in as our Ryan Adams and Mike speak to the Romney/Ryan horror show. Our Ryan has some comparisons and contrasts to Sarah Palin. Mike notes the foreign policy deficits and ignorance of both Romney and Ryan. This is not the time or state of the world for bumblers to try to learn on the job. Those gross shortcomings should reveal themselves in debates and campaign coverage.

Mike again went on about how this election more than any in memory will come to fantasy v. reality. The 40% or more of voters who need to believe in the abject failure trickle-down-economics that forms the core of Ryan’s income stream. Listen in as we scoff.

For this to work for Obama and the Dems, they have to make the effects of the Romney/Ryan proposals plain. Moreover, the media have to pay attention. PACs can suck it.

icon for podpress  Paul Ryan VP Pick [30:33m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Picking (Apart) Paul

We can’t always ignore the obvious. Tomorrow, August 14th, we’ll do the Paul Ryan VP pick. Mike has a rant about fantasy even before this selection. Our Ryan offers both specifics and overview.

If you can catch us live, go here at 2:30 PM Eastern 8/14. We’ll open up to callers; as the expression goes, dialRomney graft (718) 664-6966, then press 1 when you’re ready to chat.

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Kearns Goodwin Update Show

A month from the primary that almost certainly will decide the 3rd Middlesex MA Senate race, five Dems are in the race for the open seat. Joe Kearns Goodwin joined us got an update.

We couldn’t get him to pick on fellow candidates, but he did get into his issues. In a contest to replace a respected progressive, Susan Fargo, who’s retiring, a big part of this race is differentiating yourself. Listen in as Kearns Goodwin describes his emphasis on specific areas of education as well as a drive for a graduated income tax. While he has combat experience in two wars and has detailed proposals in education, he still sees the big battle to be fought in the Joint Revenue Committee area. Hear him describe how refining the tax burdens, and as important, defining where additional moneys should go are the future.

Kearns Goodwin is a champion of training MA workers (maybe starting in kindergarten) to have the skills employers will need and many already have going unfilled. Click below to hear him describe the ways he thinks we need to match jobs with job seekers.

He also spoke about what he liked and saw lacking in the recent agenda of the General Court.

icon for podpress  Joe Kearns Goodwin update [29:44m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Joe Mullin on His MA Sen. Run

Joe Mullin from Weston details his economic advancement plans in next week’s show. He is running for the 3rd Middlesex MA Senate seat vacated by Susan Fargo.

If you can join us live, click here at 2:30 PM Eastern, Tuesday, May 29th. Afterward, his show will be there, back here on Left Ahead and on our iTunes pages.

He came from working-class immigrants through Harvard on scholarship and into a successful career. He’ll discuss his understanding of worker and family struggles and aspirations. He’ll describe his jobs-oriented aims and platform.

Mullin completes shows with the five Dems running for the seat. Mara Dolan was the first, Mike Barrett the second, Joe Kearns Goodwin the third, and the most recent was with Alex Buck.

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