The Jefferson Tree - A platform for debate and discussion of current events and politics...

Palestine Borders and Demographics Prove to be A Ghetto

Thanks to a good idea given to me by my partner here at STL, I started to research and analyze some geographic information regarding the Jewish land-grab in Palestine. I then followed by studying some demographic info on the Gaza Strip and drew some interesting conclusions. Here’s what I found: First, some great maps over at Wikipedia with adjoining historical context info and links portraying the boundaries of Palestine/Israel since the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement (The linked information could have you reading ...

Social Protest Lit: Ebenezer Elliot, “The People’s Anthem”

A poem from Ebenezer Elliot entitled The People’s Anthem from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice: When wilt thou save the people? O God of mercy! when? Not kings and lords, but nations! Flowers of the heart, O God, are they! Let them not pass, like weeds, away! Their heritage a sunless day! God save the people! Shall bring crime for ever, Strength aiding still the strong? Is it thy will, O Father? That man shall toil for wrong? “No!” ...

Stephen Moore’s Ridiculous Anti-Clean Energy Rant

Hard right-winger Stephen Moore took a break from pushing debunked trickle-down economic policies to take a pathetic shot at clean energy.  Let the stupid begin. …radical Greens, one of the most influential political forces in America today… Seriously?  He goes on to mention the famed Sierra Club as one of these forces.  And where did they rank in 2013 on lobbying: 755.  In fact, if we look at the top 50 interest groups giving to members of Congress this year, no sign ...

Anti-Israel Policies/Actions Is Not Anti-Semitsim

There have been growing protests in Europe against the mass murder of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the State of Israel. These actions are in response to the IDF killing 500 Muslims there with the vast majority of them being civilians. But what is troubling about these movements is, according to this article in the NYT, an anti-Semitic tinge has taken place at these protests. The story reads that in France: Several recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris have boiled over ...

Warren For President?

Today at the the annual Netroots Nation conference in Detroit, the nation’s largest gathering of liberal activists and organizers, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) reportedly drew an applause that Hillary could only dream of. According to NYT and Politico reports, Warren was a rock-star while Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate for President, was absent. Warren’s populist talking points and her history of taking Wall Street to task (remember that Warren was an early advocate for the creation of a new Consumer Financial ...

Social Protest Literatue at Sparking The Left

Here at STL we are starting a new feature. In between our political-insight posts, I will start publishing excerpts or entire pieces of great literature that speak to crucial social and political issues which span the centuries. Though almost all in the Western tradition, the subject matters are transcendental. Now first to name my source, I am taking pieces from Upton Sinclair’s selected and edited collection “The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Great Social Protest Literature of All Time.” ...

Pulitzer-Winning Journalist Detained for Being Undocumented

I was first brought aware of Jose Antonio Vargas’ story last week in a piece he penned in Politico. He explained that he was in the Rio Grande Valley, in the city of McAllen, just north of the Mexican border. He was there to see first hand the tens of thousands of undocumented children, most of them from Central America, and observe how they were being treated. The trip was also used for a news conference appearance and vigil organized by United We Dream, ...

GOP Refuses Funding for Border Children Projects

A humanitarian crisis unseen before at our borders is becoming more and more urgent everyday at Rio Grande Valley, TX, and other Southwest locations. And yet the GOP is arguing over numbers. Yesterday President Obama requested an amount of $3.7 billion from Congress to help aid the 57,000 unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the border from the Mexico side since October. They are mostly from violence-ridden Central American countries, like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (Honduras has the world’s highest murder ...

Selective Outrage

War is hell.  All we have to do is look around the world to see its toll.  That being said, I don't understand the lack of outrage coming from this President and his administration other than that aimed at our one ally - Israel which is doing no more than trying to protect it's people from rocket fire and constant raids from Hamas. The fact that Palestinian civilians are getting killed is a tragic yet unavoidable aspect of this war.  Why ...

Why Are We So Full Of Hate?

What has happened to human kind?  No matter where you look we find ourselves surrounded by a world filled with hate. What puzzles me is how it's combined with political correctness.  Take this country where so many words are now frowned upon and even forbidden because they are hurtful to certain people.  Redskins, squaw, savage plus a whole lot applying to blacks, orientals and hispanics not to mention middle easterners.  Has it dawned on anyone banning the names has done nothing ...

Has Putin Over Reached Once Too Often?

My, oh my.  We've watched this man make mince meat of Obama over the past several years.  Each time you could see the smirk broaden and the swagger get more pronounced. He and his allies - Iran, China, Syria and North Korea were truly enjoying themselves. But as happens with a lot of bullies, they get over confident and suddenly everything around them collapses. I'm wondering if this is the case with the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet. With the death ...

If Only It WERE The Heat!

What a day.  A passenger plane has been shot down over Ukraine uncomfortably close to the Russian border. Hamas reneged on the humanitarian cease fire so Israel launched their ground offensive. Children still pour across the border while Congress dithers. It's now being reported parents are giving them birth control in case they are raped during the journey. Along that line former member of Congress, Todd Aiken, who once talked about legitimate rape and the idea that women's bodies protected them from becoming ...

Hannity's Histrionics

For a person who doesn't have much faith in the intellect of pundits, I wonder why I watch them so often.  I wonder even more why the cable outlets and networks that employ them don't take more care in who they hire. Many of them get on crusades that bear no resemblance to reality.  Sean Hannity is one of the most prominent. The night before last  he was on his Bowe Bergdahl kick demanding to know why he was returned to ...

Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

If the President could run away from the border mess any faster I'm sure he would. It's being said it's because being seen in the setting of kids crammed into confined spaces with their scabies and lice would reflect badly on him.  It could even be his Katrina.  Well, maybe.  But who's fault is that? It goes to show his handlers aren't as smart as they think they are.  For one, drinking beer and shooting pool in Colorado, a state where ...

The Kids Always Went Home

Watching the immigration mess going full bore brought to mind a lot of things that have involved children from other nations.  The first thing that comes to mind is the Disney song It's a Small World After All that speaks to all we have in common. Hopes, dreams, all the warm fuzzy stuff. We've had exchange student programs where a student from another country lives with a local family to learn not only academics but what life in American and Americans ...

The Militia Is Coming, The Militia Is Coming!

That's all we need! News has it a call has gone out for militia, both unarmed and armed, to gather along the border to help private land owners protect their property in something called Operation Save Our Borders.  Terrific! Remember how well it went when militia turned out to help to  help Cliven Bundy in his fight over Federal grazing rights in Nevada?  It came within a hair's breadth of turning violent. I really feel for the border towns who are the ...

The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to everyone exactly the functions in which he is competent ... It is by dividing and subdividing these Republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations until it ends in the administration of everyman's farm by himself, by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. Thomas Jefferson
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Ralph Musgrave - Ralphanomics

Banks should maximise profit, and should not have to consider environmentally responsibility, equity, etc.

The conference in Edinburghlast week on banking was organised by Friends of the Earth and was entitled “Just Banking” with “scales of justice” logos plastered all over the literature handed out. The implication of the latter, plus the actual titles of several of the meetings was very much geared towards environmental, ecological and equity matters.

However, several of the more enthusiastic supporters of the above objectives had little grasp of how to achieve their desired objectives at minimum cost.

That is, the latter “enthusiasts” have no grasp of the Tinbergen Principle. Jan Tinbergen was an economics Nobel laureate, and his principle (or at least my preferred variation on it) states that for each policy objective, one policy instrument is required, and one only. I.e. the above “enthusiasts” were advocating policies that would have resulted in more than one policy instrument for each objective.

The environment.

For example, one way of inducing banks to invest in environmentally responsible ways is to make them consider the environmental effects of each investment decision. That involves a HUGE amount of person-hours, bureaucracy, form filling and so on.

Moreover, the latter imposition on banks fails to deal with investments that are NOT bank funded!!!

A vastly cheaper way of cutting CO2 emissions, for example, is simply to tax carbon based fuels, as is already done. In Britain, about 60% of the retail price of petrol and diesel is tax. (Personally I’d be happy to see the retail price of petrol and diesel doubled.)

And the latter sort of tax AUTOMATICALLY makes CO2 emitting investments less profitable: it will divert investment (bank funded and non-bank funded) away from petrol and diesel consuming activities and towards other forms of economic activity. Job done. No need for any extra bureaucracy.


At least one speaker at the Edinburgh conference claimed that banks should promote equality. I’m baffled. I cannot for the life of me see how banks do much to this end, laudable as equality is.

We ALREADY SPEND BILLIONS promoting equality: progressive personal taxes, social security, state education, etc. That is, using Tinbergen phraseology, we already have “policy instruments” to deal with inequality. And presumably we have chosen the most efficient instruments. Further policy instruments are a waste of time – never mine further and probably LESS EFFICIENT instruments.

Bubble blowing versus productive investments.

Another popular criticism of banks is that they invest and lend relatively safe ways, e.g. in property rather than in productive activities.

Well given that those who deposit money in banks want their money back, banks are bound to do go for relatively safe investments, aren’t they? If you want to take a risk with your money and potentially make bumper profits, then invest direct in the stock exchange, set up your own business, pay a visit to Las Vegas, or put your money on a horse – the options are numerous. No one is stopping you.

But don’t ask to have to have your cake and eat it: that is, don’t expect an institution to invest your money in a risky and potentially profitable way, at the same time as expecting your money to be 100% safe.

Indeed, therein lies one of the basic flaws in the existing banking system: depositors are promised 100% safety thanks to the taxpayer, while banks can lend in relatively risky ways. The solution to that problem, as advocated on p.7-8 of this submission to the Vickers commission, is to force depositors to choose between 100% safe deposit accounts and “investment” or “risky” deposits where they get a decent rate of interest, but stand to lose their money if it all goes belly up.

Fatuous statement of the obvious: we need more money put into productive investments.

Obviously a country will be better off if more capital is put into productive investments. That just begs the $64k question: “which investments are productive?”. Anyone who has a sure fire answer to that question will quickly make a billion.

Simply diverting money from property to allegedly productive industries other forms of investment will not automatically raise GDP. Some of the latter or “other” investments will be winners and some will be losers.

It looks like the UK is not too good at making finance available to small businesses compared to other countries. So there is probably SOME MERIT in putting this right. But I doubt that in itself will transform economic growth.

Ralph Musgrave - Ralphanomics

Author: Ralph Musgrave - Ralphanomics

I wrote a book on unemployment recently with James Galbraith, and others. Galbraith is one of Obama's economic advisers. I love the different cultures that exist in this world. I took an interest in them long before the daft word 'multiculturalism' was widely used. I want to see these cultures preserved. I want to see Tibet staying Tibetan, and Britain staying British.

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