Take a few minutes to appreciate Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

On September 18th, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of pancreatic cancer that had spread throughout her body. She stubbornly fought that cancer for many years before it ended her life. Several summaries of Ruth Bader Ginsburg are available in print on-line and elsewhere. I encourage you to read at least one of them.

What I have felt as I read about her life is that she was an important contributor to our legal system by fighting to protect economic opportunities in the age of neoliberalism. She fought for equality under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. She fought to protect the opportunity for fathers after their spouse dies to get benefits in support of the family, for women as they seek employment and for disabled people whom Justice Ginsburg believed should have opportunities too. There are many other examples.

She believed that the government shouldn’t be able to restrict a woman’s right to chose an abortion if a woman wanted one. This opinion has angered some people, and some connect Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court’s continued support for Roe v. Wade (1973). Some blame her with others for the number of abortions that have happened in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade (1973). I don’t think that she deserves to be blamed for what some people have chosen to do because they had liberty to do what they wanted to do. Free choice has been a part of American tolerance since the founding of our nation. Perhaps instead of blaming Ruth Bader Ginsburg it would be better to examine changes in our economic and political system that have created new obstacles to family formation and to family prosperity.

My husband read aloud a couple of paragraphs that the Justice wrote about the end of WWII when she was only 13 years old (https://democraticunderground.com/100214102557). When I listened to the words that Justice Ginsburg wrote as a young child, I was amazed at her wish that everyone in our society should be connected by bonds of affection. Inclusiveness is so needed in our society today.

Some will complain about this or that when they see what Justice Ginsburg did. She continued all the way to the end of her life in a long legal career that gave generously and lovingly to whatever Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed would be the right thing to do under the law. She was a great writer and couldn’t have influenced our legal system so well without knowing the law very well. So few examples are there for us to see nowadays of that kind of generosity: generosity in learning and applying knowledge and sharing that knowledge to make a huge difference over a lifetime career. She must have been both tired and ill during her treatments for 5 bouts of cancer but she found a way to contribute throughout her life in a way that shined a caring light on issues involving individual opportunity. I don’t expect more than that from anyone.

As we go forward without her it is fitting that we remember her as a champion of fairness in people’s lives under the law. She battled for all of us in a way that made a difference for how Americans live their day-to-day lives, now. She concentrated on one area under the law and fought individual cases where her written legal opinions could carve new standards into our nation’s practice of the law. Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t contribute to every area of the law. She couldn’t make our system perfect. But she made it better according to what she believed was fair. She supported liberty.

Buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries available at Amazon.com to discover more about political ideologies over U.S. history and how they have shaped our nation.

According to Mish Shedlock, the Federal Reserve owns one third of U.S. mortgages.

Did Fascist dreamers ever imagine our government owning 1/3 of the U.S. mortgage market?

Two trillion dollars of mortgage backed securities are now owned by the Federal Reserve.

I’ve been using the internet to keep an eye on real estate prices all across our nation since about 2016. After the Great Recession, U.S. real estate lost around 30% of its value. To stem that deflation, investors started buying and trading properties, increasing the property price each time. Since then, some markets have tripled their prices. Real estate values are inflated more than anyone would expect if you consider the declining number of Americans who can afford to buy a house because of insecure employment and falling wages.

The absence of bargains and the missing deflation after numerous foreclosures in real estate assets has happened because investors have purchased properties with low interest loans, treating America’s home portfolio as just another capital asset. They’ve done cosmetic improvements and resold that property at an inflated price: often double the price before improvements were made. The whole real estate market has been inflated into a bubble.

If you look at foreclosure real estate online, there’s a suggested price that is usually significantly higher than what should be expected for properties that sometimes need significant repairs. How can “As is” properties be sold at such a high price?

This seems like a crime to me. How can the American monetary system be used for low interest loans to investors AND be cycled into real estate mortgage backed securities in order to maintain those same high prices? Is it any wonder that there are so many homeless Americans? Property taxes are kept at higher rates because of this. Americans can’t get an affordable real estate price in this rigged market that ignores the market mechanisms of supply and demand. A real market, unlike our current real estate market, is affected by what people want and by what they can afford.

Shame on the Federal Reserve. It’s time to close it down. It’s time to make derivatives like mortgage backed securities illegal. It’s time to restore interest rates to around 5%, their historical average. Higher interest rates would end casino stock market gambling and allow people to save for retirement.

If you want to understand more about out-of-bounds actions by our government and how they have come about including banking deregulation, monetarism, corruption in the federal government, and how politics and economics act together to influence our opportunities in the United States, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries available at Amazon.com.

Here’s the source citation on mortgage backed securities owned by the Federal Reserve: Mish Shedlock, The Street, http://www.thestreet.com/mishtalk/economics/the-fed-now-owns-nearly-one-third-of-all-us-mortgages, accessed 14 September 2020.

What stands between you and getting ahead with a good job?

This is a longer post because what I’m talking about is complicated. I hope that you will stay with me to the end.

What stands between you and getting ahead with a good job? Here’s a list that may seem familiar to you:

(1) The U.S. has a tax structure that undermines small businesses as compared with large corporations.
(2) An expiration date has now been added to your college degree. If you got it ten years ago, it’s expired.
(3) Covid-19 mandates now elevate on-line buying over in-person shopping.
(4) HR algorithms can disqualify you for an unknown reason.
(5) There’s an economic demand gap so that people have less disposable income to buy a product if you should try to sell them one.
(6) Long-term unemployed people need not apply because they are disqualified; a small business owner may be seen as similar to the long-term unemployed.
(7) Universities in the U.S. have expensive inflated tuition as compared with your last degree’s cost and some people with new degrees also can’t get work.
(8) Volatility in the workplace means that mergers and acquisitions can displace you after you find a job–getting another one is your problem.
(9) Unfair labor discrimination can happen because employers don’t have to tell you why they don’t want to hire you when they post an overly specific job description.
(10) Real earnings continue to fall in the atmosphere of dollar overprinting by the Federal Reserve.

During my life so far, I’ve watched computers become more important. Every business has to use them from a mechanic that fixes your car and his diagnostic tool to a computer data base that holds medical records or criminal records. Computers have changed the way stocks are traded and how banking transactions happen from automatic check readers to digital transfers of money. Computers have affected how pilots fly their planes. Computers are essential to communications that happen in e-mails, in text messaging and now having a cell phone is becoming an essential requirement “for security reasons” when you apply for a job.

But somehow, with all these computer aids, people are losing their ability to trust each other. They are also losing their ability to get ahead by finding a good job. The whole job application process has been changed with computers so that you don’t get to meet anyone at the company where you apply, and you may never hear from them after you apply for a job. Sometimes it looks like unfair decisions are being made that affect your employment. The person who made an algorithm that is excluding you is someone you will never meet. If you can’t get work, you are just invisible in the job hunting process and your desire for work is easy to ignore. There’s no appeal or any kind of a remedy as your opportunities are going from bad to worse.

Some say that the long-term unemployed will never work again. What a waste. And now, the economy has come to a mandated stop. Why is that?

Back in the 1990’s when people told me that computers were taking over and becoming essential, I had doubts that it was possible for computers to do that. Why? Because of Moore’s Law. According to Moore’s Law, computer processing capacity and processing speed had been and would continue to double every two years. This is an exponential rate of growth. But human beings are not capable of sustaining prolonged exponenial growth. Even when you can hire the cheapest labor in the world.

A while ago, the rate of processing speed growth started to slow down. Some say that because of physics-based processor limitations computers are now reaching their processing expansion limit. But I think that our society went past our biological and societal limits a while ago.

If you look at my list of obstacles to finding a good job some of them are related to computers causing an increase in complexity. Politicians have been willing to embrace that growing complexity. The idea of limitlessness was once so appealing.

Global trading policies that once provided more generous tax advantages for doing business abroad are still hurting American workers who can’t find a job at home because our labor landscape has been so altered by outsourcing policies. President Trump changed our global trading policies in order to help American workers during his first term in office, but corporations have grown accustomed to large profits from low labor costs abroad; they don’t want to invest in American labor. There’s a lot of complexity in global trade and knowing how Americans will come out in the end is and has always been pretty impossible to do. Potential profits in the short-term motivated Congress’s policies to enhance global trade opportunities. The long-term consequences haven’t been and aren’t being addressed.

What about the talk that all of us have heard about the value of an on-going education? When your degree is disqualified after 10 years, it undermines its value and your value as an employee and this devaluation of you makes computers seem more valuable in comparison. Wages keep falling. New algorithms have come into play for your job applications, “Apply on-line, it’s easy,” we heard, and now there’s new cell phone security protocols. Doesn’t all of that ease of application make you blame yourself as you face day after day without the prospect of a gainful job? But who is really to blame for the number of unemployed Americans? There certainly aren’t enough good jobs in the U.S. for the number of people who want a good job. And there are obstacles to “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.”

Why did media and governments around the world engineer a global panic over covid-19 when we have effective drugs to treat it? Was the purpose to transfer more money to a centralized global banking system and simultaneously stimulate on-line purchasing while people stay at home with not enough to do? Who is winning from that strategy and where will it lead us? We should find out.

Why is it ok to replace an HR person with an algorithm? Is it to save the salary you would otherwise pay to a person while also circumventing the rules of hiring? I think that long-term unemployed people shouldn’t be blamed for being unemployed in an atmosphere where people are commonly displaced from employment by mergers and acquisitions. And job descriptions list so many qualifications that even well educated people can’t qualify. Someone with two university degrees, suddenly isn’t qualified to be a shop keeper at a manufacturing facility. Are they really unqualified? Has it become possible only to hire people for exactly the same job over and again or nothing? What exclusion protocols are in play? Is there no prospect for a worker to try a new challenge of their abilities in a brand new area? I hear that credentials are less important, but job descriptions don’t show that.

If computers are too expensive for society to afford their constant need for processor evolution and they’ve now reached their processing limit it doesn’t prove that people are worthless. I’m sick of hearing that people’s jobs are all going to be replaced by a robot. Maybe the computer revolution has just hit the wall and its constant improvements in processing have stopped for now.

Recently, I was trying to discern if there are any new manufacturing jobs coming our way. For a long time, I’ve hoped that fusion energy could revolutionize our economy by providing cheaper energy. When I checked on government expenditures for fusion energy research, it was seriously outpaced by government research into artificial intelligence. I wonder, has our government decided to let the computer finally save our economy? With a room temperature superconductor, processing speeds could increase and actually, LENR fusion technology may be able to create a room temperature superconductor. Is LENR providing the change needed for a faster processor? Shhh….if that’s happening, it’s probably a big secret. Even if there were a super-processor, I’m not sure that computers can save us. Maybe we have to save ourselves with more accountability in politics. Vote. We also need more accountability in hiring and transparency in the use of hiring algorithms. It’s easier sometimes to see what isn’t working and stop that before you know what else to try. Computers have circumvented oversight and that’s damaging the people who make up our society.

If you want to learn more about how the economy and our political system are entertwined, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries at Amazon.com.

Corporations scared each other in 1933 under the National Recovery Administration.

I’ve been enjoying some summer reading of Hard Times by Studs Terkel. I came across an interview he did with Gardiner C. Means, who was a member of the Consumer Advisory Board of the NRA (National Recovery Administration) in 1933 during the Great Depression. He was enthusiastic about the work that he did on the Consumer Advisory Board, the National Resources Planning Board, and the Budget Bureau. There had been a consequential storm of deflation in wages and prices that scared people and the NRA tried to bring wages back up and bring prices up by acting as a bridge between consumers, workers and corporations. Gardiner thought that the NRA served to make an essential improvement but he acknowledged that it was necessary to abolish it after a short time. Why?

” Things had been going downgrade–worse, worse, worse. More than anything else, the NRA changed the climate. It served its purpose. Had it lasted longer, it would not have worked in the public interest…Had the NRA continued, it would have meant dangerously diminishing the role of the market in limiting prices. You see, there was little Government regulation of the NRA. The Government handed industry over to industry to run, and offered some minor protection to others in the form of Labor and Consumer Advisory Boards. Industry became scared of its own people. Too much power was being delegated to the code authorities. It was business’ fear of business rather than business’ fear of Government…You might say, NRA’s greatest contribution to our society is that it proved that self-regulation by industry doesn’t work.” (1)

The New Deal was when neoliberal partnerships between the federal government and businesses were being tried out in the United States. Today we live with neoliberalism in a later stage after eighty four years of neoliberalism in the United States if you count the beginning of neoliberalism here as starting with the end of WWII.

The same problems erupt today in government partnerships with corporations as what Gardiner commented on under the NRA. Today, there are problems with prices not matching market demand. The market can’t limit costs because the market mechanism has been ignored by the powerful. This is true in the real estate market, in the cost of a university education, in the cost of automobiles, in the cost of pharmaceuticals and medical treatments, in the inflated stock market. There are also now added problems with tyranny growing as can be seen with covid-19 mandates and Obamacare mandates. We see fewer jobs. We see more monopolies. We see lower wages. We see falling demand for products but a huge effort by the Federal Reserve to prevent deflation that would correct higher prices than the market can support. Now we see more monetary malfeasance with printing dollars not supported by production which is leading to a lower dollar value–an effort to create inflation. We see an added problem of endless pointless bickering among politicians and an appearance of corruption. Corporations are becoming scared of each other, scared of government, scared of their own employees.

Neoliberalism is failing us. Again. If you want to learn more about political ideologies over American history and if you want to understand the way our economy is affected by political policies buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries available at Amazon.com.

(1) Studs Terkel, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression, The New Press, New York, London, copyright 1971, 1986, 247-250.

Unplug and empower yourself.

Every moment of your life belongs to you to invest whatever effort you wish whether to help yourself or another person. You have power to order your free time.

For a whole day, or a whole week, or a whole year, or even perhaps for seven years (I did that a long time ago), unplug your television. What will you do with your time?

Television is full of anxiety producing jeopardy that drive the plots in police stories, medical examiner investigations, reality shows, remodeling shows and many others. Instead of passively watching stories about what tv characters are doing, you could create and write a story with characters that you may begin to care about. There’s no deadline when you take pleasure in creating a story all on your own. What will your story show you about your own experiences and opinions? Will you learn a new way to appreciate your own creativity? Will you learn to appreciate the knack of story-telling that others have entertained you with for most of your life?

Maybe instead, you will want to investigate a topic of interest like symmetry in physics, or art or some other branch of learning. You could look into emergent properties in complex adaptive systems. Our economy is a complex adaptive system. So is the politic. And social networks. Would you like to avoid being manipulated by social networks? Stop visiting them and start investigating them by learning how more social networking isn’t the same as a little bit of it. How can a social network create crowd effects? How can it affect your opinions and beliefs?

You could instead design and build a new piece of furniture or sew a new duvet cover or make (really) almost anything. Paint a picture. Write a poem. Write a letter.
Your pent up potential is wanting to be set free. Grab some courage and face your world of open possibilities. There’s no telling where it may take you if you make something, learn something, or do something new.

If you want to learn about how our political and economic system works to create or limit new opportunities for you, get a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries: Liberalism, Pragmatism, Opportunism, available at Amazon.com. Learn all about political ideologies and the people who invented them. Learn about the policies that affect American outcomes over history.