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 ...

It is always better to have no ideas, than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong. In my mind, theories are more easily demolished than rebuilt. Thomas Jefferson
Please visit the authors blog by clicking on the link below!

Ralph Musgrave - Ralphanomics

Edinburgh banking conference.

Just been to an amazing banking conference in Edinburgh (organised by Friends of the Earth). The main speakers (in no particular order) included:

* Adam Posen (Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee).
* Steve Keen (Economics prof University of Western Sydney).
* Ben Dyson (Positive Money).
* Richard Werner (International Banking prof Southampton University).
* Ann Pettifor (Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics).
* Mary Mellor (former sociology prof, University of Northumbria, UK)
* Huw Davis (Head of Personal Banking at Triodos bank).
* Chris Cook (Senior Research fellow, University College London).
* Tony Greenham (New Economics Foundation).

Highlights of their speeches (for me) are set out below – but this won’t be a fair summary of their speeches.

First a couple of general points. Several speakers were very critical of the fact that private banks are free to create money and of the use banks have made of this freedom. But none of them (far as I remember) actually said, “let’s ban private money creation” – though they got very near.

Second, two or three of the speakers seemed to have no idea of the likely bureaucratic costs of the changes they proposed to the existing banking system. These were the speakers particularly concerned with environmental and ecological matters. I’ll enlarge on that in a post in a day or two.

Anyway, the interesting bits for me were thus. Comments by me are in brackets.

Adam Posen said:

* He accepted his current job at the Bank of England partially because of the intensity of debate in Britain as to what to do with the banking system.
* No central banks have successfully pricked bubbles.
* All of the worst bubbles were caused by house / property price increases. (This was subsequently contradicted by others who pointed to 1929 which was mainly about shares.)
* A possible way of deflating property bubbles might be to use existing property taxes – i.e. hike those taxes when bubble enlarges.
* Britain is good at international banking and has been for a long time. But it is not good at local banking for small businesses. Britain needs the VARIETY of types of finance for small businesses that the U.S. has.
* Bank subsidies are more dangerous than subsidies for other industries
* We need to question the idea that a country benefits much from having an internationally competitive banking industry.
* Bank subsidiaries in other countries should be capitalised from sources in the latter countries.

Steve Keen said:

*Schumpter said in 1934 that private banks create money out of thin air.
* Neo classical economists are clueless on money, banking, etc.
* Krugman does not realise that private banks create money.
* Solow debunked neo-classical economics.
* There is an undesirable feed-back mechanism in the private bank money creation process. (I quite agree. I think this is one of the main flaws in private money creation: it is pro-cyclical.)
* Private debts are much bigger than government debts.
* Keen showed several charts / graphs showing a close relationship between the ACCELERATION of private debt and economic buoyancy: things like employment levels, stock exchange levels, etc.
* Keen favours what he calls “jubilee shares”.
* Re the business of banks lending first and finding reserves later, they now have a month in which to find reserves, which is longer than it used to be. (Not sure if this applied to the US, UK or both or all over the world.)
* Quoted Marx on the subject of financial capital messing up industrial capital.

Richard Werner said:

* He was part responsible for originating the term “quantitative easing”. It originated by his thinking up a phrase to describe the process that would be acceptable to the Japanese (who he was advising at the time). The Japanese phrase then got translated into English as QE. (However, subsequent speakers pointed out that QE was first implemented centuries ago. Thus Werner was responsible for the phrase, but not the idea)
* Text book description of how banks work is nonsense.
* The Asia crisis was caused by excessive reliance on banks as opposed to other forms of finance.
* 97% of money in circulation is privately created, and central banks try to hide the fact.
* Quoted Donald Kohn’s attack on neo-classical economics.
* Banks are not financial intermediaries: they are creators of money. (They’re both aren’t they?)
* If newly created money / credit is used productively rather than to fund asset purchases, inflation is lower. (Not sure about that.)
* The activities of credit unions in Britain are restricted, so the activities of large private banks should also be restricted: in particular, directed towards to something better than bumping up asset prices.
* Small local banks in Germany play a much bigger role than in Britain. (There were two or three Germans at the conference who offered suggestions and support.)
* Local currencies are a good idea.
* A recent survey showed that about 80% of the population think money is created by governments / central banks. The interviewees were biased towards the more educated section of the population, so a realistic figure would be over 80%. 90% were against letting private banks create money.

Ann Pettifor said:

* Money created by banks (forget whether she was referring to central or private banks) should be allocated to specific purposes, e.g. environmentally responsible investments. (Sounds bureaucratic to me.)
* Private banks have displaced central banks when it comes to credit / money creation.
* The rise in private sector debt has been more significant than public sector debt.
* The crises was sparked off by the big rise in interest rates in the five or so years prior to the crunch plus de-regulation.
* Debt is being cut, but slowly and chaotically.
* Roosevelt as of 1933 had made a good job of dealing with the recession.
* Rogoff and Reinhart’s ideas are flawed.
* The EU has no idea what it is doing.
* Another crisis is coming. After that, everyone will be so sick of the private banking industry that draconian controls will be imposed.
* She is keen on the so called “golden age” of banking: 1945-71. This was a period during which there were much tighter controls on banking than today.
* Those of us who want a better banking system need to organise politically, but at the moment we are in a muddle as to exactly what we want.

Tony Greenham said:

* The New Economics Foundation has had plenty of help from the Bank of England with research to back the NEF’s unconventional ideas on banking. (This could be on instructions from Mervyn King, because King is very open to such unconventional ideas.)
* The conventional view of how banks work is out of date: private banks lend first, then look for reserves. And if there are not enough reserves available, the central bank is forced to supply them.
* Most bank lending goes to the asset rich, not to productive industries.

Ben Dyson said:

* The fact that privately created money or credit is backed by government means arguably that such money is in effect publically created.
* The time taken for the average household to pay off their mortgage has approximately doubled over the last 20 years. (I think it was 20 years – might be wrong there.)
* Private banks have in effect taken over seigniorage from governments / central banks, and the profit from this activity is around £2bn a year in Britain.

Mary Mellor said:

(Mary Mellor is a sociologist and fairly left of centre, which means that violently right wing male chauvinist pigs like me tend to disagree with her!! She has written a book about the crisis). She said:

* Re-jigging the private bank system needs to be done so that banks take environmental matters into account. (I don’t agree: for example CO2 emissions are best cut by increasing the price of carbon based fuels, I think.)
* Repeated the point made by Ben Dyson, namely that since government stands behind private money creation, that money is effectively publically created. (Interesting point.)
* Barter economies have never existed in any very formal sense, though there has been what she calls “recopricity”.
* The cards handed out in baby-sitting economies (she was presumably referring to Krugman’s baby sitting economy) are effectively monetary base or publically created money. (She was hinting that this is a better form of money than privately created money, though (to repeat, I don’t think she actually said “let’s ban private money creation”).

Huw Davies (Triodos Bank – www.triodos.co.uk)

(This bank lends only for environmentally and ecologically responsible investments. It was set up in 1980.) He said:
* 30% of depositors think their money is just kept in bank vaults, and not loaned on.
* He’d like to see every depositor ask their bank what the bank uses their money for.
* Triodos has no bonus culture.

Chris Cook.

(This fellow is clever, articulate, and knows his stuff. His ideas are very unconventional. I haven’t yet worked out whether he is a genius or is right off the rails.)
* He wants to seek solutions to banking problems from centuries ago even a thousand years ago. In particular, he wants a return to the tally stick system, but done in a high tech way.
* Pointed to the municipal banks that exist in some areas in Scotland.

 

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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