The Trump Trilogy

I just bought a condo and am in the process of downsizing. One of the hardest things I’ve had to sort through is an extensive collection of old magazine issues and newspaper editions that I saved because I thought they had historical significance. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper editions for about a week following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Life Magazine’s edition on the Challenger shuttle disaster; an edition of Vogue devoted to Princess Diana after her death, just to name a few.

Then I came across this.

TrumpGeorge1a

The March 2000 edition of George magazine, the short-lived political commentary publication that was the brainchild of the late John F. Kennedy, Jr. (In case you don’t recall, JFK, Jr. died, along with his newlywed wife Carolyn Bessette, in an airplane crash on July 16, 1999). Just eight months later, the magazine he founded published an interview by Christopher Byron with Donald Trump.

It was the March cover story.

I read the interview as I sat down to eat my dinner tonight. I cannot imagine how the Cruz or Rubio camps have not seized upon this article and brought it front and center during this Republican Primary season’s battle. It is a scathing portrait of an opportunistic, ego-maniacal, greedy and ruthless man who was, 16 years ago, as determined to use the Office of the President of The United States for his personal gain as he is today. Trump has, on two prior occasions, flirted with running for President: 1987 and 2000. The article quotes him as saying that doing so enables him to “raise his rents” and allow him to be “the only guy who makes money when he runs.”

The article chronicles his financial failures, his shell corporations to hide debt, his robbing Peter to pay Paul, and his shameless self-aggrandizement based, not on fact, but on his lust for fame and recognition. His famous property Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida where the interview took place, has a huge “library with no books in it” but instead a huge portrait of Donald in tennis clothes…blonde hair a-flying. His office wall, floor to ceiling, is covered with photos of only himself.

I think the one paragraph that most impacted me is where Byron states:

“It is perhaps the measure of the American temperament that few people seem to regard his obsession with money as diminishing his qualifications for the job [the Presidency] in any way. It is as if wealth and leadership in America have become flip sides of the same coin, so that the ostentatious display of the former is now seen as a way to demonstrate competence in the latter.”

Either Byron was prescient… or we’ve been lost at least as far back as 2000.

I understand the lure. We’re fed up with career politicians and corrupt government. We’re angry and frustrated. But does that necessarily translate into us also being dumb and blind?

Donald Trump will tell you that he knows who the bad guys are, who the good guys are, feels your pain, and knows who to blame. It’s a soothing mantra after what we’ve been through. Soothing and seductive. But, make no mistake. You are being seduced. Seduced, manipulated, and led to the slaughter of the document that created this great nation, all for the feeding of one man’s insatiable hunger for money, fame, recognition…and lest we dare forget…winning at all cost.

Carole

Things That Ain’t So

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain

Over the last 40 years, we have been bombarded with news about a variety of environmental disasters that await us.  The first to be  promulgated by the press was over population. This perceived threat to mankind was so grave that some governments started legislating and implementing polices to stem the impending doom.

polar bear on wall street

The over population bomb, promoted by Paul Ehrlrich, proposed solutions to make the planet’s resources last longer lest we end up with global famine.  His ideas were not only not dismissed outright, they actually found a home in think tanks and even within some governmental agencies. Some of Ehrlich’s ideas included taxes on diapers and children, covert sterilization of the public through their drinking water, and spiking foreign food aid with anti-fertility drugs.

Ehrlich’s theories were taken seriously by many.  China went so far as to implement a one child policy in the late 1970’s  which resulted, by some estimates, in China aborting millions of infants. One of the main consequences of the policy was that it left China with a subsequent preponderance of men. Social scientists in China say the upcoming census results could reveal a gender ratio of 122 boys born for every 100 girls. Under natural conditions, there are typically 105-106 boys for every 100 girls.”

To better understand that number in 2010, the Economist ran a cover story highlighting the fact that over 100 million baby girls are “missing” – dead through sex-selective abortion, infanticide and general neglect.  Ehrlrich’s forecast, as well as China’s implementation of such fears in the form of law, caused massive devastation in China. The reality is that there are financial, not to mention spiritual, consequences for killing millions of babies. What does it say about a nation that would commit such violence against its most helpless members of society?

Or, take the latest scare issued from the environmental movement. We have been warned incessantly about the threats of Global Cooling, followed by Global Warming and, now finally, the main stream media has settled on “Climate Change” (I guess that covers their bases on both heating an cooling!) as the greatest threat to mankind. It seems that the environmental movement is continually looking for a new bogey man to scare the public; hence the ever changing threats to mankind.

I think what has disturbed me most about the latest environmental debate are the arguments made by the Climate Change proponents:

  • All the scientists now agree we have a problem with “Climate Change”
  • All the data is in on “Climate Change” and we have to act now!

These types of statements lead me to ask: “Why is there such a rush to cut off the debate?”

History is replete with theories that we once believed true that were not so. For eons, humans believed the world was flat until the 1500’s, and it was accepted fact that the earth was the center of the universe… prior to Copernicus dispelling that myth.

Having the benefit of hindsight and, of course, history, it seems ridiculous that anyone could have believed the world to be flat or the earth the center of the universe, but we did. If it hadn’t been the work of scientists who continued to question and test our assumptions where would humanity be?  Just imagine if the leading political powers back then had only funded scientists who believed in the flat earth doctrine! It seems ridiculous right? But isn’t that what’s happening today? Only proponents of Climate Change are deemed credible and legitimate recipients of funding.  But, what if in 20 or 30 years we look back and it turns out Climate Change was an expertly marketed false belief…not a fact?  Where are we then having closed off legitimate debate?

I would argue the essence of science itself is a series of questioning and testing of hypotheses that are meant to continue to explore and unlock the mysteries of our world. It seems the whole notion of cutting off the debate and settling “Climate Change” is political in nature not based in science.

Every human being benefits from a healthier and more robust planet. Our food, medicine and roles of stewardship of the earth is a responsibility upon each of us. No one I’ve ever met likes smog or pollution. So with statements like “All the science is in and its settled” there must be a hidden agenda because humanity can only benefit from continued intelligent dialogue, some of which raises legitimate questions as yet unanswered.

One of the main beneficiaries of the global change movement, if implemented in full, would be Wall Street and the United Nations.  The U.N would be the governing body and arbitrators of carbon emissions, while Wall Street would be the marketplace in which these credits would trade.  Climate change advocates believe that carbon emissions are one of the biggest contributors to global warming. The U.N. would set  quotas on the amount of carbon emission that companies could produce. In addition, the U.N. would also determine which companies, and their projects, were eligible for carbon credits.

To understand how this works in practice look at the following transaction: Costco produces 10 million in carbon emissions that have to be offset. They would have to buy 10 million in carbon credits from a carbon credit producer.( for example, a tree farm would be a carbon credit producer). Enter Wall Street.  Financial Institutions and traders would set up the exchanges where sellers of carbon credits would interface with carbon credit producers. Wall Street would be extremely happy because they would make money on both sides of such trades.

Given the declining revenues on Wall Street, now more than ever, they need a new product through which to fleece the unsuspecting public. The United Nations (and governing bodies all over the world) would be happy as they would have more power.  The U.N would be able to dole out carbon credit projects to their friends and family, thereby enriching themselves. Finally, the violators of excess carbon production could be shaken down and fleeced by the political class and other regulatory bodies. Everyone prospers…well, not everyone.

Everyone but the general population.

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, what we learned is that the wealthiest  and most powerful institutions were saved by the government at the expense of the taxpayer and the middle class. The Climate Change Movement has the same formula in place; fleece the middle class in order for money to flow to a select few and into the most powerful institutions in the world.

Prior to the real estate crisis of 2008, the government sold home ownership as the ultimate form of wealth and we know where that got us.  In 2016, they and the financial markets are selling a new product: Climate Change.

We all need to help save the planet from carbon emissions and…oh yes… the middle class can pick up the tab one more time.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

Time To Print My Taxes

As 2016 begins, the day of reckoning is fast approaching for all Americans: April 15 2016. This is the day we are obligated to pay our personal income taxes.

print money

Most Americans don’t realize that this hasn’t always been the case. The Constitution, as originally drafted, had no tax clause. Excise taxes (like sales tax) and tariffs were the primary ways that the U.S. government financed its operations. But given government’s penchant for power, it was only a matter of time until it figured a way to feed its financial hunger by creating a Constitutional Amendment for taxing citizens.

We live in strange times. The notion of paying personal taxes has become more complicated as a result because the federal government has developed a much more intrusive role than was ever intended by the Founders. In its original design, the role of government was to provide for its citizens’ safety, enforce the laws, and honor basic property rights. There are many other derivative laws which flow from these; however, the government’s role today is nothing like what the Founders envisioned or intended.

The U.S government now reaches into almost every aspect of our lives. From education, to housing, to labor law… there are few things we can do freely as citizens that do not infringe upon some law penalizing or criminalizing behavior.  Due to this overreach by government, there are many things for which tax money is spent that the average citizen finds objectionable. From wars to abortion services there is now something to which almost every citizen can object. Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Progressives all have something to loathe in the IRS Code;  yet, they continue to pay because 1) they want a functioning government and 2) they fear the heavy hand of government should they  not pay.

As stated earlier, this growth in government has been accompanied by a voracious need for money. As citizens, we hope the government is a good financial steward because absent that, the results can be dire. Many would say we have reached that point.

Part of the problem is that the federal government has poorly (no pun intended) mismanaged the nation’s finances, particularly over the last 15 years . Since  2008, the national debt has doubled from 8 trillion dollars to 16 trillion dollars!  Much of this debt and spending was attributable to the financial crisis of 2008. The narrative from the government is that the crisis was initiated by greedy bankers who caused the system to fail. But like everything in life… the story is much more complicated.

At the heart of the crisis was the Community Reinvestment Act passed in the 1970’s but only enforced as of the 1990’s. The federal  government began forcing local and regional banks to make riskier and riskier loans to the under-qualified lest they lose their banking license. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (two quasi government entities) bought these loans and in-turn sold them to investment banks touting U.S. seal of approval. This set the stage for a massive scandal that nearly wrecked the entire U.S. economy.  If you want more information please take a look at the fascinating story here: (Reckless Endangerment).

After the crisis in 2008, the government bailed out the banking sector at a tune of 700 billion dollars. Realizing this wasn’t enough, the governments started printing money in the form of quantitative easing. Printing money is not done by firing up the printing press but rather by the central bank buying securities in the open market, lending new money to private banks and/or buying assets from banks. The money is then credited to private banks. Theoretically, the private banks then use this money to create more money through lending (although this did not happened). This process then adds more money into the economy.

Part of the reason that this money never went back into the economy in the form of new loans was because there was no incentive for the banks to do so. In the role that government took, it became the proverbial “300 pound gorilla” in the room, buying tons of assets from the banks. All the banks had to do was copy what the federal government was doing to start making money.  Once the banks got wind of what the Treasury was buying, they in turn bought the same assets and sold them back to the government at a profit. Its called “monetizing the debt.” There was no longer a need to loan money to make money as the government itself was providing free money.

Sadly, this bailout only helped a select few institutions in the form of free money and asset purchases paid for by that taxpayers. But for those same taxpayers, we the people, there has been no aid. The whole notion that the government needs taxpayer money to function seems a bit of a stretch given the fact that when it needs money it can print (digitize) it… and has done so repeatedly. The IRS Code, as it stands today, is the way the government keeps people in line, indebted and for some enslaved. It is the ultimate tool of control.

If only I could act the same way the government does, come April 15th, I’d print my taxes instead of sending them a check.

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com