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Posts Tagged ‘Capitalism

Taxation Fairness

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I’ve often seen data from the USA showing the proportions of income and tax but rarely in such a clean, simple format as this graph.

Mind you, if the wealthy continue to flex their privilege they’ll find increasingly little support from the GOP for tax cuts for them, on top of the GOP’s four decade efforts that have created an ever more progressive tax system that, as the graph shows, very much taxes the rich.

See also Why do Millionaires hate Billionaires? and Every Billionaire is a Policy Failure. Those people are not part of the graph since they don’t rely on “income” and are therefore untouched by income tax.

I wonder what the corresponding data for New Zealand is?

Written by Tom Hunter

November 15, 2021 at 12:18 pm

Big Metal

One of the most basic things you learn in economics is the classic supply-and-demand graph, showing how the two things interact to produce the delicate balance that establishes the price of something, be it strawberries or cell phones.

What they don’t tell you is how useless that graph is in the practice of predicting what the price will be when demand or supply (or both) change. Behind that calculation sit super-computers and richly detailed software models, but the best they produce is a range, sometimes so broad as to be practically useless..

All one can say for certain is that supply exceeds demand the price will drop, and the greater it exceeds demand the greater the price drop will be. The supply does not even have to be in the marketplace to have an impact. For example, below is a graph of US prices for LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) over the last twenty years.

There are price spikes all the time, driven by all sorts of factors. But you’ll notice that there was a steady rise up 2005, followed by a steady drop to the present day. That’s the impact of the practice of fracking and horizontal drilling in gas fields, a technology that had been developing for decades but which only took off in the mid-2000’s. Fracking showed that the USA had vastly greater reserves of gas than had been predicted only a few years earlier. In fact, previous forecasts were that the nation would have to start importing LNG, which resulted in several giant terminals being built around the coast to unload the stuff from ships. Within a few short years that had been turned around, literally. The reserves “discovered” were so vast they amounted to hundreds of years of use and the terminals were re-configured to export the stuff.

Meanwhile the impact on the price was not just to greatly reduce it but to do so as far out into the future as could be seen, and another impact was that electrical generation companies switched large numbers of coal-fired power plants to being gas-fired. That, in turn, resulted in the USA reducing its CO2 emissions on such a scale that by 2020 it was beating the reduction targets of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty, (which its Senate had rejected), and the 2009 Waxham-Markey bill (which never passed).

So if you like reducing GHG’s (Greenhouse Gases), hug a fracker and thank them.

It’s not so easy to pull the same stunt with other commodities. Metals in particular, since it’s hard to see any revolution in mining them – although there will be steady, incremental improvements, and the planet has been well searched over the centuries for sources.

But there is one potential source that could change things in the 21st century:

Astronomers have now identified two metal-rich asteroids in orbit near the Earth, with one having a precious metal content that likely exceeds the Earth’s entire reserves.

Asteroid 1986 DA is estimated to be about 1.7 miles across, based on radar data obtained during a close Earth fly-by in 2019. The second asteroid, 2016 ED85, appears to have a similar content from spectroscopy, but no radar data has as yet been obtained of it, so much less is known.

figure 13 from the paper, illustrates the amount of precious metals available in asteroid 1986 DA, compared to the world’s entire reserves (FE=iron, Ni=nickel, Co=cobalt, Cu=copper, PGM=platinum group metals, Au=gold). From this single metal asteroid a mining operation could literally double the metal that had been previously mined on Earth.

Sure, but the technology to mine those metals and transport them to Earth does not yet exist, although there have been plenty of ideas over the decades, and the basics are understood.

But even when it’s developed there’s going to be a question of cost versus revenue, which brings us right back to that supply-and-demand graph. What would happen to the price of all these metals if such a source could be mined and added to the world’s reserves? The paradox is that the price might fall so low as to make the whole effort uneconomic.

The authors of that paper actually do try to account for this price drop, but the simple fact is that it’s as much of a guess as predicting the price of strawberries when that market is flooded. You know it’ll go down but to precisely what value?

We estimated that the amounts of Fe, Ni, Co, and the PGM present in 1986 DA could exceed the reserves worldwide. Moreover, if 1986 DA is mined and the metals marketed over 50 yr, the annual value of precious metals for this object would be ∼$233 billion.

In any case, it may well be that the metals never get to Earth because heavy industry slowly moves off the planet and there will be human colonies established in space that will need the metals right there. Getting them from asteroids certainly makes more economic sense than digging them out of the Moon or another planet. That seems to be what Jeff Bezos is thinking as he pushes forward with his Blue Origin rocket company (To rouse the spirit of the Earth, and move the rolling stars):

In Bezos’ view, dramatically reducing the cost of access to space is a key step toward those goals.

“Then we get to see Gerard O’Neill’s ideas start to come to life…

“I predict that in the next few hundred years, all heavy industry will move off planet. It will be just way more convenient to do it in space, where you have better access to resources, better access to 24/7 solar power,” 

Written by Tom Hunter

November 1, 2021 at 6:53 am

The privilege of wealth

Some time ago a longtime, regular Leftist blog commentator, “Sanctuary“, dismissed a Chris Trotter blog post by saying that he now understood why so many on the Left regarded Trotter as a man whose time had passed.

I don’t think that’s the case but Trotter certainly suffers increasingly from incoherence.

In one post he’ll blast the Identity Politics and Woke-fest obsessions of the modern Left, lamenting about how the Working Classes are being ignored and the Class War is being lost, see Why We (Don’t) Fight.

Then in another post he’ll gloat about the same thing, Go Woke – Or Go Politically Broke:

By alienating corporate capitalism and making bitter enemies of the mainstream media and universities, the Trumpists are, if they only knew it, corralling their followers into a socio-economic and cultural dead-end.

By shutting themselves out of liberal capitalism’s Emerald City, Trump’s poorly educated munchkins are slamming the door on their own and their children’s best chance for a happy and prosperous future.

In that post he also demonstrated that he should never write about the USA, where a simple-minded repeating of Democrat Party talking points is not sufficient to debate.

You would think that somebody buried in the Old Left would be able to see the obvious, and sometimes Chris does, but not here. For that we have to turn to historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing from deep inside the supposed future of the USA (and the world?), California, who nails the points that Leftists should automatically understand, Wealthy and Woke:

The most privileged CEOs of corporate America—those who sell us everything from soft drinks and sneakers, to professional sports and social media—now jabber to America about its racism, sexism, and assorted sins. The rules of cynical CEO censure are transparent. 

First, the corporation never harangues unless it feels it has more to lose—whether by boycotts, protests, or bad publicity—than it stands to gain in staying neutral and silent. 

Second, class concerns are never mentioned. Bastian is paid about $65,000 for each working day of the year. In a sane world, he might seem a ridiculous voice of the oppressed. 

Third, CEOs never fear offending the conservative silent majority, who are assumed not to boycott or protest.

But it goes further than simple fear and #MeTooism at the corporate executive and Board level. This trait of being lectured about your sins by very privileged people runs across the USA now:

The woke revolution is not a grassroots movement. It is powered by a well-connected and guilt-ridden elite. Yet the religion of Wokeness assumes these high priests deserve exemptions. Their wealth, credentials, contacts, and power ensure none are ever subject to the consequences of their own sermons.

Self-righteous elites rant about carbon footprints, needless border security, defunding the police, gun control, and charter schools. But they rarely forgo their own private jets, third and fourth homes, estate walls, armed security guards, and prep schools. Apparently to rant about “privilege” means the less you need to worry about your own. 

He lists them specifically, demonstrating that “across the USA” is no figure of speech:

Multimillion-dollar NBA stars blast America’s “systemic racism.” They utter not a word about Chinese communist reeducation camps, the destruction of Tibetan culture, or the strangulation of Hong Kong’s democracy. 

Tenured administrators and university presidents pulling down seven-figure salaries are far more likely to virtue signal their universities’ “racism” than are untenured, poorly paid, and part-time lecturers.

The woke media? Its clergy are elite network newsreaders, not so much reporters on the beat. 

The richest in America—the families who own and operate Amazon, Apple, Bloomberg, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—are the most likely to voice their derision for its unwoke lower- and middle-classes. 

Ditto the multimillionaires of politics—an Al Gore, Dianne Feinstein, John Kerry, or Nancy Pelosi.

The richest celebrity billionaires such as Jay-Z, George Lucas, Paul McCartney, or Oprah Winfrey weigh in a lot about the oppression of a supposedly rigged system they mastered, rarely about the plight of the less-well paid in their own professions.

Even the military are not immune…

The retired and current military who lecture us on the evils of Trump or promise to ferret out “insurrectionists” among the ranks are mostly generals and admirals—and some retired top-brass multimillionaires.

We don’t hear privates, corporals, sergeants, and majors pushing through subsidies for transgendered surgeries or petitions to garrison a quiet Washington with barbed wire and national guardsmen.

Well, there is a reason why the latter created the phrase, “Perfumed Princes” during the Vietnam War.

Wokeness is an insurance policy. The louder the damnation of American culture, the more likely a career will be saved or enhanced.

Wokeness is classist and elitist. Those who made or inherited a fortune, got the right degree at the right place, made CEO or four-star rank, live in the right ZIP code, or know the good people, believe they have earned the right to decide what is moral for their inferiors. 

It is all these things, but I think Hanson comes closest with the following comment:

So wokeness is medieval. Sin is not given up as much as atoned for—and excused—through loud confessionals.

[It] is not really about fairness for minorities, the oppressed, and the poor, past or present. It is mostly a self-confessional cult of anointed bullies, and hypocrites of all races and genders, who seek to flex, and increase, their own privilege and power.

Wealth has always been the ultimate privilege, more so than ever nowadays in social circles created by none other than the modern Left. Ultimately this is what the likes of Trotter struggle with, but at least he still struggles. Most Western Left-wing parties caved in to this reality some time ago.


Written by Tom Hunter

April 10, 2021 at 1:12 pm

172

Hours that is. One hundred and seventy two hours is what shows up in my last fortnightly pay slip for the agricultural contractor I work for.

I finally have a Sunday off. A beautiful, lovely, empty Sunday after twenty consecutive days of 5am wake ups and 11pm bedtimes.

Others have more hours and I’m informed by those who’ve worked here for several years that two hundred plus hours per fortnight is a more normal harvesting season. We assume that it’s because we’ve had a long stretch of fine weather and started a little earlier than usual, so the load has been more spread out than in the past. The boys – and most of them are boys – are not happy about this since such incredible hours are a bonus on top of their other income earned on random jobs during the rest of the year. Without such work, times would be tough.

I’d probably be working longer hours were I on the chopper crews (maize chopping) that use tractors and trailers. Suitable only for short road runs from chop site to stack site, those drivers work deep into the night to get the job done.

By contrast my crews are all trucks because we’re serving customers located fifty kms or more away from the chop sites. The hours are limited by truck driving regulations: a thirty minute break after five-and-a-half hours driving; a ten hour break after thirteen hour driving; a twenty four hour rest break after seventy hours. The thirteen hour daily limit means that they have to be off the road by 7 or 8pm, having started at 6 or 7am – and “off the road” counts even when they’re being driven home by someone else.

Of course my specific work, and those of other members of the crews, like the chopper and stack tractor drivers, means that I’m still left with a one-two hour pack up and commute routine, but at least I’m getting home before midnight.

An alternative title for this post would be: “Rabid capitalist discovers the joy of government regulations” ! I doubt we’ll ever see a union though.

The technology may have changed but harvest has always been intense. I recommend a relatively unknown New Zealand book called Nearly Out Of Heart and Hope”, by the New Zealand historian Miles Fairburn.

It’s based on the 800,000 word diary crafted by one James Cox, an itinerant labourer who came to New Zealand in 1880 and died in 1925. The title of the book is one of the phrases he occasionally used when things were dark. Here’s a short sample of the dairy itself, which he wrote every night for thirty seven years, crafted by candlelight with pencil on little strips of paper (not being able to buy sheets) which he then folded up into tiny booklets:

“my shoes are got very bad… I have only one shirt I can wear, nearly worn out so I am in an evil case and cannot get either money or goods from the firm. Most of the fellows… are getting doubtful if they will get their wages at all. The firm appears to be nearly bankrupt.” 

After an even lower period of poverty in 1892/93, during which he took to the roads as a “swagger”, he found new work:

Things improved a little in 1894 when he found work with a Carterton agricultural contractor. He worked on traction engines harvesting grain until 1902. This was a harsh and unreliable form of work which was anything but romantic.

That sentence barely covers the raw detail provided by Cox himself and the more concise descriptions of such work by Fairburn: unrelenting days of tough physical effort in the heat and dust of Wairarapa summers with no showers at the end and just a shared tent with the other unwashed men. I get to return to a solid home and a hot shower and food, such are the wonders of the modern world. By comparison to that man I’m just slumming it.

James Cox

The book quotes only those portions of the diary that Fairburn can use to make his points, like any good historian. He struggles most of all with why this well-educated, sober and hard-working man never advanced his life beyond such toil. He was probably more suited to clerical work but he could have been in charge of the crews, indeed he was offered such work by his employer, yet for some unknown reason he did it only reluctantly and occasionally. He didn’t like it.

I think the reason Fairburn struggles is that he is trying to imposing rationality on yet another irrational human being (rational humans are the basis of economics and much other social science). When he turns to examining the ideology of the times and how it may have worked in the mind of Cox he fares little better. Niether does the sympathetic reviewer:

His account of the way in which the potent and pervasive Victorian ideology of self-help shut off opportunity for Cox is the best piece so far written in New Zealand on the way in which ideas influenced individual behaviour. Cox never realized that hard work and self-discipline were insufficient means of climbing out of the poverty trap.

Once he recognized that failure was probably a permanent state from about 1893, he maintained the code as a way of ordering his life and reinforcing his sense of superiority over ‘rough’ workmen. It seems that ideology not only justified the success of winners in the social laboratory: it also shaped the actions of losers.

I agree that hard work and self-discipline are not enough on their own. But the unspoken assumption of that reviewer is that they’re not really necessary either if those implied other factors exist: presumably things like unionised wage rates, unemployment benefits, free healthcare and other social welfare assistance (housing!).

In fact without self-discipline and the ability to work hard all those other things will also be found to be “insufficient” for lifting up the James Cox’s of the world. I think we’re seeing that around us every day.

No, in Cox’s case, despite all his admirable qualities, there was a strange seed in his mind that prevented him from rising and doing better in the world. Nothing that any government could have done would have changed that.

… labour reforms which also helped earn New Zealand the title of a ‘social laboratory’ apparently did not reach much beyond city limits and brought little help to Cox. Fairburn wonders if Cox was unusual but the reader is left with the feeling that many New Zealanders on low wages have long struggled to do little more than survive, and ended their days without savings or assets.

The sad and terrible truth I see every day is that this is still the case almost a century after James Cox departed this world.

This is his grave in the Greytown Cemetery and it was unmarked until 2013 when a Wairarapa historian, Adele Pentony-Graham, paid to have his headstone installed, “I felt it was the least I could do for him,” she said.

So say we all.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 28, 2021 at 9:30 pm

Why do Millionaires hate Billionaires?

I was pondering this question the other day while observing a hilarious interchange between two such people, Robert Reich and Elon Musk.

Reich is in many ways a creature of the distant past. An old-style American Boomer “liberal” economist who strongly pushes old-fashioned ideas like boosting the minimum wage, empowering unions, and so forth. I only know of him because he was Secretary of Labour in Bill Clinton’s first Presidential term (1993-1997). He was disappointed to find that Clinton’s famous “triangulation” strategy for winning re-election in 1996 meant that Reich’s economic ideas around labour were never implemented to the extent he wanted.

Since then he has maintained a steady patter of pushing these ideas through books and articles. He’s also on Twitter and as an example of how the world has changed, he may have been surprised to find that modern Robber Barons of our age are not the hidden figures of the 19th century but are also on Twitter, which is how the following exchange came about after Reich unloaded one of his usual scathing takes on the modern US economy.

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Further humiliation followed as people began to point out one of Mr Reich’s long-standing and well-known sources of income.

According to data from 2014 Reich makes $40,000 for a 1-hour speaking engagement plus hotel, flight and food. Sweet! And it’s probably increased since then.

Down with capitalism. Up with my speaking fees.

See also, Every Billionaire is a Policy Failure.

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Written by Tom Hunter

September 12, 2020 at 7:26 am

The Seeds of 21st Century Socialism?

I’ll finish off this series on where Socialism might be going in the future by putting out an example of how thinking on capitalism may be changing with the generations.

Coming of age in the 1980’s meant passing through the world of Thatcher, Reagan and, here in New Zealand, Roger Douglas. A world of privatisation of government-owned businesses, deregulation and the general encouragement to get out there and make big bucks.

All of this was more than just a political moment. It was cultural as well. There were TV characters like Alex Keaton of Family Ties, who appalled his Baby Boomer, hippie-values parents with his Right-Wing, pro-business attitudes, as well as keeping a framed photo of Nixon beside his bed. The series was pitched to studio as “Hip parents, square kids“: some things never change. Then there were movies like Risky Business and The Secret of My SuccessWorking GirlTrading Places, among many others.

But the one that probably had the biggest impact was Wall Street in 1987, Oliver Stone’s acidic take on the 1980’s financial world. 

And of all the scenes in the movie it’s the following one that has stuck in people’s minds, as actor Michael Douglas chews up the scenery on his way to winning the Oscar for Best Actor as Gordon Gekko, giving the famous “Greed is Good” speech explaining to the stockholders of Teldar Paper exactly how the company’s management has screwed them over while creaming it themselves.

It certainly is a speech for the ages, and to the horror of Stone and Douglas, has resulted in countless people telling them over the years that it’s the reason they got into financial trading.

America has become a second-rate power. Its trade deficit and its fiscal deficit are at nightmare proportions. 

2020: Hold my beer!

Now, in the days of the free market, when our country was a top industrial power,..

Sound familiar with any recent political rhetoric? Paens to an American past:
 
The Carnegies, the Mellons, the men that built this great industrial empire, made sure of it because it was their money at stake. Today, management has no stake in the company!
And in a strange way, perhaps because of Stone’s beliefs, he puts words into the mouth of a corporate raider that might have come from any enraged Socialist raging against the Rich: 
… you are all being royally screwed over by these,…. these bureaucrats, with their steak lunches, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.

… our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. 

A few years later in 1991, came a movie that I regard as superior to Wall StreetOther People’s Money. It never made as big an impact, perhaps because the moment had passed, it originally being a play written in 1987.
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As in the former movie one of the key points occurs during a stockholders meeting as an old company, New England Wire & Cable, tries to fight off another corporate raider, this time Larry “The Liquidator“Garfield, played with deliciously brazen evil by Danny DeVito. 

 
There are two scenes here, the first where the Chairman of the Board, Andrew Jorgenson, played by the great Gregory Peck, pleads – in fact almost begs – the stockholders not to sell. Like Gordon Gecko he too appeals to a past America, but the nature of the appeal is different and I’ve always thought that Peck, in what would be his last prominent role, could have written the words himself, as one of the Old Guard Left in Hollywood who believed in FDR’s New Deal, most other Left-Wing causes and who was publicly appalled by the Age of Reagan.
 
 

There is the instrument of our destruction. I want you to look at him in all of his glory, Larry “The Liquidator,” the entrepreneur of post-industrial America, playing God with other people’s money. 

The Robber Barons of old at least left something tangible in their wake — a coal mine, a railroad, banks. 

So it’s not just corporate raiders making that appeal. But Jorgenson, calls out to something that Gekko does not.

God save us if we vote to take his paltry few dollars and run. God save this country if that is truly the wave of the future. We will then have become a nation that makes nothing but hamburgers, creates nothing but lawyers, and sells nothing but tax shelters. 

And if we are at that point in this country, where we kill something because at the moment it’s worth more dead than alive — well, take a look around. Look at your neighbor. Look at your neighbor. You won’t kill him, will you? No. It’s called murder and it’s illegal. Well, this too is murder — on a mass scale. Only on Wall Street, they call it “maximizing share-holder value” and they call it “legal.” And they substitute dollar bills where a conscience should be. 

Dammit! A business is worth more than the price of its stock. It’s the place where we earn our living, where we meet our friends, dream our dreams. It is, in every sense, the very fabric that binds our society together.

I was lucky enough to see the original play in a Chicago run and during this speech the guy playing Larry The Liquidator – who was built more like Pavarotti than DeVito – would stroll up and down the aisles of the audience and burst into songs from the musical Oklahoma and other classics. It was an excellent way of showing the contempt he held for Jorgenson.

Larry gets his turn to respond and unwinds one of the greatest pro-capitalism speeches ever. There’s a better quality clip at this site.

 

You just heard The Prayer for the Dead, my fellow stockholders, and you didn’t say, “Amen.”  

This company is dead. I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me. It was dead when I got here. It’s too late for prayers.

You know, at one time there must’ve been dozens of companies makin’ buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company?
 

You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let’s have the intelligence, let’s have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future.

I’ve actually sat in one or two meetings where the buggy whip analogy was used, though luckily about systems rather than entire companies. 

“Ah, but we can’t,” goes the prayer. “We can’t because we have responsibility, a responsibility to our employees, to our community. What will happen to them?” I got two words for that: 

Who cares? 

Care about them? Why? They didn’t care about you. 

They sucked you dry. You have no responsibility to them. For the last ten years this company bled your money. Did this community ever say, “We know times are tough. We’ll lower taxes, reduce water and sewer.” Check it out: You’re paying twice what you did ten years ago. And our devoted employees, who have taken no increases for the past three years, are still making twice what they made ten years ago; and our stock — one-sixth what it was ten years ago.

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The reason I’ve put these clips up, plus the 1980’s background, is that a couple of weeks ago my kids had some of their friends around for a post-lockdown catchup and they watched a couple of movies. They’re all into Media Studies and History and Mathematics and Science and so forth, but not Economics. They’re interesting to talk to, so I showed them these three clips – none of them had ever seen either movie – and asked them what they thought of the ideas and arguments expressed in each.

  • The Wall Street clip elicited anger at the useless, fat-cat managers of Teldar while knowing that Gekko was obviously just using those sentiments to screw people and make money for himself. They didn’t admire him one bit.
  • The first OPM clip caused rolled eyes. Yes, Jorgenson seemed like a decent man but all this mythologising of the past and the idea of a company being the centre of a community just seemed unlikely. But (shrugged shoulders) if it worked for people then why not try to save it?
  • But the second OPM clip with DeVito’s speech brought forth anger: real hatred of the character and what he was about to do. Why could the company not be saved? Why could investments not be made to grab those new opportunities in fibre optics and the like? Why did it have to be destroyed? What would happen to the town that depended upon it?
I was fascinated by these reactions, which were mostly the exact opposite of me and my peers when we watched these movies thirty and more years ago.

 

I also informed them that, as with most Hollywood fantasies, the dream is saved at the end of Other People’s Money: investment is found to make hi-tech metal fibres for airbags.

By contrast the play had no such happy ending, only grim reality. Larry takes over and the company shuts down. The jobs, and likely the town, go with it. He even gets the girl at the end.

So there you are. A new generation that thinks somewhat differently than I do about capitalism, free enterprise, free trade and local communities, including nations. Perhaps the socialism of the 21st century will have new soil in which to grow and new seeds from which to raise warriors for the working day.

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See Also:
 
Fully Automated Luxury Communism

Written by Tom Hunter

July 1, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Selling the rope to your hangman

There are a number of variations on this theme, all attributed to either Lenin, Stalin or Khruschev – and it’s almost certainly apocryphal. Still, they all expressed ideas along these lines, and I’d bet that Khruschev in particular, with his puckish sense of humour, may have wished he’d said something like it:

When the time comes to hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use.

I thought of this quote the other day as I read an article about where Bernie has been getting his money from. He has famously boasted that he is not supported by corporations but by individuals – and not much via Superpac’s either:
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Super PACs, officially known as “independent expenditure-only political action committees,” may engage in unlimited political spending (on, for example, ads) independently of the campaigns, but are not allowed to either coordinate or make contributions to candidate campaigns or party coffers. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups without any legal limit on donation size.

And he appears to be telling the truth, judging by the data from the US Federal Election Commission website on the fundraising and expenditure of the various campaigns. You can download the data if you wish to go totally geek.
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He raised $25 million in January alone and has spent more than $50 million to date on his campaign, beating Biden in both categories.
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That will almost certainly decline now as it becomes more obvious that the bulk of the Democrat Party is not going to allow him to win the primaries and get the nomination.
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Still, what got me was the sort of “ordinary” people this data tells us are supporting Bernie:
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Geographically, Bernie’s top dollar zip code is 94110 in San Francisco. The average household income in this part of the Mission District, specifically the Inner Mission, the Bernal Heights area, is $166,302. The median home value is around $1.5 million and the median rent is almost $5,000 a month.

That should not be a surprise given that it’s the employees of Google, Amazon, and Microsoft who make up three out of the top 4 Bernie donors-by-employer, with Apple employees in fifth place. A typical senior engineer at Google makes $US 250,000 per year – before stock options.
But it’s the same story on the other coast where the talk has been of the support Bernie gets from his old Brooklyn neighbourhood; working class and all that. Nope:
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[Zip code] 11215 or Park Slope is the second biggest top dollar zip code of Bernie donors.The neighborhood, formerly urban, known as the home of Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the Park Slope Food Co-Op…. [is] filled with renovated brownstones filled with wealthy hipsters. It’s a place where a three-bedroom apartment can go for $2.9 million.

And so on down the list. It’s quite a joke considering the Class Warfare that Bernie constantly preaches. This is not the top 1%, they’re the top 0.001%! Why are these wealthy young people supporting a guy who condemns people like them?
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A bottle of your best micro-brew! And be quick about it.
Perhaps it’s guilt? While the tech engineers of Silicon Valley work brutal hours for their high incomes that’s not true of the urban hipsters of Park Slope or Chicago’s Logan Square (#8 on Bernie’s list).
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Such places have gentrified rapidly in the last twenty years, with renovated houses and apartments and filled with all the usual stuff of micro-brew pubs, delis and “farmers markets”. The jokes about Trust Fund babies made by other inhabitants of those cities have a sting to them.
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Perhaps like the old elites of the European Middle Ages with the Catholic Church they’re simply buying indulgences, paying off their sins both past and future, as we see with Warmists flying private jets.
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But I think it’s more that they just don’t think any of the Socialist stuff will hurt them. Their wealth, particularly for those who have inherited it, has made them unthinking about how it is created, how it can be so easily destroyed, and how the free enterprise system can be so screwed up that nobody can ever become wealthy. And when you look at the stupidities of supposedly educated people when it comes to money in the realm of millions and billions (“I was told there would be no Math“) you can see how the problem compounds.
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They believe in Free Stuff because they’ve been the beneficiaries of free stuff all their useless lives. They think that’s how society can work.
There’s Class Warfare all right – and it’s being waged on the working classes and the poor by Bernie’s people. It starts with wealthy young white people in major urban areas who have made places like Logan Square, Prospect Heights and Echo Park so expensive that working and middle-class people have been forced out. But it ends when the same people support the wholesale destruction of industries – like fracking – that enable working class people to have good, even large wages that allow them to buy houses and cars and have families.

In all this they’re perfect matches for the likes of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao, Che, Castro, Pol Pot and a host of other communist leaders and activists who in no way came from The Toiling Masses but from wealthy or at least comfortable backgrounds of inherited wealth and good education.

Carlos Mazza
And here’s the latest example, Carlos Mazza.
Isn’t he just such a perfect match for the generic hipster whose photo I included earlier?
Mr Mazza is a fearsome Far Lefter, judging by his Twitter account description:

“Marxist pig. Liberal fascist. Queer scum. He/Him. YouTube profits off of hate speech. IG: gaywonk.”

Wow! Impressive. He apparently has a couple of hundred thousand followers on Twitter so naturally I’d never heard of him before yesterday.
His particular speciality was ripping other Lefties who claimed to speak for the common folk while being as rich as shit themselves. Starting with a recent Bernie Foe, former Bill Clinton advisor and solid Democrat James Carville:

.

Now given the thrust of this OP I’m somewhat on board with this message. There’s just one problem and it was uncovered by a reporter from – yes – the New York Post. It turns out that this is where Mr Mazza lives:

Carlos’s bachelor pad

Public records show Vivian, Scott, Carlos and sister Isabel all registered to vote at a five-bedroom, eight-bathroom waterfront palace in Boca Raton, Florida. The property sold in 2018 for $10.8 million

Well it’s one of the places where he lives. Turns out that they also own a $7 million condominium on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They also own a yacht by luxury maker boat-maker Donzi.

All of this due to his Mummy and StepDaddy having created a software firm in Florida that now employs about 5000 people. They are worth hundreds of millions of dollars at a minimum and apparently support their sons “lifestyle”. If this prick ever does do a hard week’s work – especially physical work – in his pathetic life, he’ll probably drop dead of exhaustion on the Friday.

Incidently, the reporter who dug all this up, Jonathan Levine, was punished by being locked out of his Twitter account. Exposing socialist hypocrisy is contrary to Twitter’s guidelines which, given its membership, is not surprising.

It also turns out that Mr Mazza solicits donations of $2 per month to $10 per month from “comrades”, using sites like Patreon.

I’d suggest he sell them rope instead. The “comrades” will know what to do with it.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 9, 2020 at 6:36 pm

A Final Cheer for Christmas 2019

Venezuela has been a slowly developing horror story for two decades now as Socialist policies of state ownership together with centralised command and control of the rest of the economy have slowly strangled it to death. And there was a decade of encroaching socialist policies preceding that, albeit with a lighter touch.

The country still has the highest rate of inflation in the world at about 15,000%, which is down from 1.5 million%, and about 4.5 million people have voted with their feet and left the dump. And as is always the case, the horror becomes a vortex where things get worse faster towards the end.

But the good news this Christmas is that the end point, the lowest dip in the curve, may have been reached, if the following televised comments from Maduro count for anything (he should have worn a Santa suit):

“I don’t see the process they call dollarization as bad,…. it can aid the recovery of the productive areas of the country and the functioning of the economy.”

Venezuela’s line up beside graffiti saying “Hunger”

 

Wait, what? Dollarization? Surely that can’t mean the evil Yanqui dollar? From the same “foreign empire” that “has been waging economic war” against Venezuela for a decade now?

And surely not after boastful articles over the years about how they’re going to adopt the Euro, like this 2018 piece from Putin’s propaganda organ, Russia Today.

As an aside, a few years earlier large-brained mammal Robert Fisk was super-excited about the demise of the US dollar, with the Euro as the new global currency (CAUTION: Do not read that last if you have coffee near your keyboard).

Star-Struck on Google That article is just one more reason why I laugh every time I see No RightTurn in our “Blogroll Left” column announce the thrilling headline “NEW FISK”.

My how the worm has turned:

“…It can help the recovery of the country, the spread of productive forces in the country, and the economy … Thank God it exists

No, No, Mr Maduro! Thank the United States of America it exists.

America says “You’re Welcome”, Mr Maduro

It turns out that three things have forced the situation.

First, all those Venezuelans who have escaped to find work abroad are sending between $70 – $100 a month back to their families in Venezuela, and irrespective of where they are working that money is sent as US dollars. It amounts to about $US 3.5 billion per year, a huge sum for such an impoverished nation.

Secondly the government, facing empty shelves because of price controls, finally relented on taxing imports, which have thus surged. But again purchased only with US dollars, aided further by the government freeing the exchange rate.

Third, this flood of US currency has caused local business to start using only it for their transactions. Whether it’s car mechanics, electricians or architects, they’re charging in greenbacks, and the government has turned a blind eye to it.

But nobody who cares about people should be complaining. Things may be on the way up, assuming the idiots in charge don’t try and revert to their old socialist ways. Christmas has come early and still limited, but now there is hope.

Ricardo Cusano, who is the president of Fedecamaras, Venezuela’s Chamber Of Commerce, probably summed it up best:

“The government had been unable to restart the economy any other way, so it’s doing what the people want..”

Yes, by giving into free enterprise and markets. And as for the Socialist government that’s still in power:

they have lost the ideological war.

As they always do – eventually – but only after yet another society is wrecked. Unfortunately the lesson seemingly has to be learned again and again and again, and even when it’s learned it’s only local, and for a few decades at best. The one Christmas present we don’t get is a permanent loss by the socialists: another recession and they’re right back in the picture.

Oh well, can’t have everything. Sounds like Venezuela might have a good New Years as well for once: As Hans said “It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of miracles. So be of good cheer…

And now here’s the Andrews Sisters singing Maduro’s tune from 1944.

 

Written by Tom Hunter

December 29, 2019 at 11:38 pm

The Mentality of Modern Rich People – three takes

TAKE ONE
Rich people who don’t know they’re rich and have all sorts of ideas about how to make you poorer.

TAKE TWO
Rich people with a sense of immunity from the real world affects of what they advocate for – affects that will hurt you worse than them.

And in this example, there’s a dose of entitleism also, as a bunch of Harvard/Yale students take to the football field as part of the Extinction Rebellion rallies currently circling the Western world.

In this case it was only the Harvard-Yale football game that was interrupted, rather than something really important like Ohio State vs. Georgia Bulldogs, but even so.

The sense of immunity and entitleism? When police officers tried to persuade them off the field, some of these students shouted “My father is a lawyer!”

Oh yes, little ones, I’ll bet he is, and a high 6-figure lawyer too if you’re at Harvard. Mummsy is probably a lawyer also. Ironically they’ve apparently never taught their kids how to argue, although that hardly matters since it’s not a skill demanded by Harvard or Yale nowadays.

TAKE THREE
Rich people who don’t know what it’s like to be poor – and have all sorts of ideas of how to make you poorer.

“Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money.

And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves.

So, I listen to people saying ‘oh we don’t want to tax the poor.’ Well, we want the poor to live longer so that they can get an education and enjoy life. And that’s why you do want to do exactly what a lot of people say you don’t want to do.”

That’s Michael Bloomberg talking about taxes on the little pleasures of life like booze, tobacco and sugary drinks. He’s a 77 year old man who is currently worth around $58 billion and is running for the nomination of the Democrat Party to be the next President of the United States.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 5, 2019 at 1:45 am

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with , , ,

Real Socialism (UPDATED)

There was a recent comment here to the effect that the USSR was not really a communist nation.
This has long been a regular feature of people who regard themselves as “Real Socialists”, dating right back to when the USSR started up.
So for your amusement here is a wonderful graph of this “thinking”, produced a couple of years ago by some Communist group in the USA.
UPDATE:
I’m almost always grateful to our commentariat who supply ideas for further debate and investigation and this thread has not disappointed. So let’s go to Hugo Chavez Speaking Freely, in the 2000’s:

Everything I’ve said about socialism in the last two years is a concept,”

“It’s not like I carry a catechism. Over there in Russia during the early 1900s when a group of intellectuals wrote down a catechism, a communist catechism.”

“No, we’re not going to fall into those same mistakes. Those mistakes that dogmatized that proposal and at the end of the Stalin era even tyrannized it. We are calling on everyone, I am calling everyone. I am calling to all Venezuelans to contribute to the debate for the construction of the Venezuelan path to socialism
.”

Effectively the same argument made by the people who produced that graph and I guarantee you that Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and a host of other Western “Centre Leftists” will make and have made the same arguments:
– Those failures are not examples of Real Socialism.
– We won’t make the same mistakes with our Real Socialism.

Although to give the graph artists credit, at least they didn’t blame the USA “Capitalfacism” for all those failures – unlike their “Centre Leftist” pals.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 7, 2019 at 8:19 pm