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

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 ...

Problems galore for the new government headed by Mr. Narendra Modi in New Delhi – Imperative for the first time PM and his council of ministers in governance amidst multiple challenges

The phenomenal victory for Mr. Narendra Modi and his party (the BJP) in May 2014 general elections has not only drawn the adulation of people world over but also silenced all its die hard critics at home and abroad. It was so stupendous and stunning that even the American government and its top leaders across party lines acknowledged Mr. Modi as the emerging democratic leader of the world, setting aside their past antagonism as an error of judgment, not based ...

Embarrassing Weekend for NSA and CIA Good for Democracy

U.S. intelligence took a couple of pretty hard slaps in its face this past weekend and, when reading the articles about their wasteful and ridiculous actions, the slaps were clearly justified. First off, it was announced on Friday that Germany had arrested a man accused of spying for the United States and passing on the details of a German parliamentary committee’s investigation.  It’s pretty disgraceful that the U.S. is spending taxpayer dollars to buy spies so we can know about an ...

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 ...

Will Cheney Help Or Hurt The Republicans In The Mid-Terms?

Will the re-emergence of Dick Cheney help or hurt the Republicans in the mid-terms?  There is so much going on about which voters are rightfully incensed my guess he will have little impact. I think it depends, however, on what happens in the middle east over the next couple of months. Those who believe it wouldn't be in the mess it is if it weren't for the Bush/Cheney policies and rush to war will be reminded of just that - the ...

So Sue Me

I often wonder these days how our country is going to survive the remainder of Obama's term.  Whether or not you agree with the Supreme Court decisions, they have been made never-the-less and the President has been slapped down on many occasions.  Sometimes unanimously. So why, I wonder, has the President decided to continue his mantra of it's my way or the highway.  He complains endlessly about the Republicans refusal to work with him.  House Speaker Boehner explains one reason is ...

To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, 'to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare.' For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. 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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