Student Loans- The Next Bubble

The say the ticket to success is an education unless it bankrupts you along the way.

In case you’re unaware, a student loan bubble is brewing that’s set to explode. The crisis is looming large in terms of outstanding debt and is beginning to worry a lot of people.

Currently, there is $1.4 trillion in outstanding student loans which are growing at about 20% per year. This debt is greater than the national debt of many countries.  By our own government’s metrics, roughly 1 in every 3 loans is either not being serviced or is in outright default!

Presently, at more than 1,000 schools (representing about one-quarter of all U.S. colleges and other schools) over  half of its students have already defaulted or failed to pay any amount toward these loans within seven years of leaving school. In other words, according to the government’s own data, at least 40% of this debt – representing more than $500 billion – will never be paid.

Even more alarming, much of this debt was packaged up, “securitized,” and sold to investors around the world as “good” debt. Given the “implied guarantee” of the U.S government for these loans, global investors bought them up. Once again,   they will go bust just as the loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went bust.

If the economy was as good as the pundits claimed, and education as valuable as the universities claim, these students would all have jobs and payback on these loans would not be an issue. But, my countrymen and women like to believe in fantasy and so they believed in the tale Obama and the media told them.

The tale?  All is well in the U.S. economy.

Adding insult to injury, student debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.  So, even if the former student has no job and thus no way to pay back the loan, he or she will be forever be obligated to pay it back. There will never be an escape from the indebtedness.

In times past, there existed debtors’ prisons, where people who could no longer pay back their debts were incarcerated and put to manual labor until their debt was paid in full. As our society advanced, sane people recognized that this was no way for a rational society to resolve an economic problem. Bankruptcy courts were set up, the discharge of debt, in whole or in part became common practice.

To the contrary, the student debt problem harkens back to ancient times as these people will never be able to discharge their debt.  While they will not be imprisoned, at least not for the moment, the looming debt and the pressure to pay it off will seem as if they are. Furthermore and perhaps most disturbing, is that should government and its agencies of enforcement continue to grow in size and in power, a crisis (economic or otherwise) puts an indebted person in the weakest possible position…and the least autonomous.

Bankruptcy, the settling of debts and forgiveness of loans, is quite common in America. Businesses as well as frequently  use the legal process of bankruptcy to settle up with creditors or wipe the slate clean to start again. President Trump, by way of his corporations, has used the bankruptcy courts on numerous occasions to “settle up” his finances.

One of the main reasons that the U.S. is so successful in the business world is how we view risk, failure and success. We inherently understand that life is risky, business life particularly so in a free market, and so we  have mechanisms in place to deal with failure. Failure is never final. We can begin anew. In other cultures, such as Japan, failure is so avoided and its reality so disgraceful, that people so “afflicted” choose to commit suicide as the rightful end to failure. That culture even has a name for these individuals: “evaporating people.”

In U.S. tech world, the purview of private equity investment, the risk is that only about 10% of those companies will ever make any money.  When the odds on happens, investors don’t come screaming and threatening to put the company’s founders in jail; they don’t try to relegate them to debtors prison. They know life and business is inherently risky and failure happens.

Failure: We all dislike it. Prefer to avoid it. Don’t plan for it…but it happens.

What makes the pending student loan crisis even more sickening is that it is penalizing the youngest and most vulnerable segment of our society. The ones we have convinced of the lie that a college education is imperative to their future success no matter what the cost. These students are coming out of college with a bill due of over $37,000 and with, at best, uncertain job prospects. The debt for those coming out of graduate and professional schools is multiples of that number.

We have two massive problems on our economic horizon: 1) 1.4 trillion dollars of mostly uncollectible debt and, 2) a weak labor market yet to be addressed. There are currently over 95 million unemployed Americans. You are deemed to be in the “labor force” if you have a job or are looking for one. You are counted part of the participation rate if you are in the labor force. But we have 95,000,000 Americans no long in the labor force! They don’t have a job and/or have stopped looking for one.

Both of these critical issues need to be faced and reconciled. If not, the U.S economic recovery will continue to falter even following the miracle Obama recovery I must have blinked through.

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com



Theft in The Financial Markets

Many people in positions of  power tend to think of themselves as being God-like.

bankers-theft

No where is this more apparent than among the financial and government planners who beset the West. Educated at the best schools and responsible for the finances of the rich and powerful, it is understandable that they think of themselves way. They have come to believe, due to their education and responsibilities, that they know better than mere mortals. This hubris and arrogance was given credence in part by a British economist named John Keynes.

Keynes developed an economic model of thought which asserted that the government had a rightful role to play in the financial markets. Central to Keynes’s theory was the premise that the economy was just a matter of inputs and outputs that could be tinkered with to effect greater efficiency. The main thrust of Keynes’s argument was that whenever the economy stalled the government had an obligation to inject money into the economy to get it moving again.  Keynes’s theory is known as “Keynesian economics” and his disciples now act as the main policy makers in the West.

Today, it is standard practice for government officials to start meddling in the private sector whenever there is a slowdown. They cite Keynesian economics for their actions. During recessionary times, government officials will increase public spending, create more public works projects and inject money into the banking system. President Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama, both presidents during recessionary periods,  resorted to massive government spending to aid the economy.

Keynesian economics has become the dominant form of monetary policy today in government circles. The way policy makers inject money into the economy is by lowering the cost of money. They do this by manipulating the financial markets. The idea behind it is that cheaper money will stimulate the economy and create new jobs.

For example, during the last eight years, most major central banks have been buying their own debt to lower the yields. But these lower yields have not spurred any economic activity. Rather, it has caused actual investors to earn less interest income. If government bonds actually yielded something tangible, private investors would be earning a return on their money and putting that money to productive use. But since that money is not going to individual investors, the economy is continuing to stall.

The slower growth that we have seen over the last few years has pushed the government to enact more and more policies for even cheaper money. The end result is that, in many countries, we now see negative interest rates.

Figuring out what interest rates should be is not hard.  Take GDP growth (currently 2%) and add  2.5% for inflation and you get your money which should be 4.5%.  However, currently bond yields are only 2.15%. The difference between 4.5% and 2.15% rates is the money that is being stolen by these bad policies. Given the size of the market, we are talking billions of dollars that are not flowing into the private sector.

For some reason, this theft by the government is never reported as such. Instead, we use the terms “quantitative easing”, “buy backs” and stimulus packages to mask the central planners’ actions.  Call it what you will, its theft.

Pension funds, IRA’s, and retirement plans all use the rates on the bond market to plan their investments. However, because the bond markets have been so distorted by government interference, the yields that investors were expecting are no longer there. Investors have been forced to speculate and invest more heavily in the market to recoup this “stolen” money.

The scope of this government manipulation of global stock and bonds markets is enormous —larger than the U.S. government’s manipulation of housing prices when they kept rates low and used Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to back housing loans. Most economist believe central banks around the world have created more than $11 trillion in new money, all of which has been invested in financial securities, real estate and commodities. The amount of government investment and intervention has never before been done on such a massive scale.

There is simply no way for this to end well.

Eventually, markets  always correct themselves. The U.S. stock market is trading at record highs and at record-high valuations; but, earnings have fallen for five straight quarters. This simple observation is obvious to many but somehow not to our elected leaders. The world’s major economies are groaning with inflated securities prices and a debt burden they can not afford.

Who knows what will happen when investors realize that the party has ended? When investors scramble for the exits, there will be nowhere to go. By law (The Volcker Rule and others) banks will not be able to act as as intermediary for the majority of these trades.

We have forgotten the seed of all growth is capital. Capital is essentially the surplus from our economic activity which is then used to fund future growth. With rates being what they are, investors are being forced to risk and speculate in the markets and not save that all  important seed —  capital. Our government policies are discouraging capital formation.

When the market implodes, and it will, there will be no capital stored up to start over. It will all have been destroyed. So while we’re distracted by demonstrations and the illusory insanity of politics, the very foundation of our thriving nation has been eroded right before our eyes by the very people we trust to use good judgment in protecting it.

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

New York State & Airbnb

Did you ever see the 2002 movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise? It is a great film with a brilliant premise which is that  it is better to stop a crime before it ever happens. Tom Cruise plays a police officer in a unit called “The Pre-Crime Task Force.”  With the aid of super psychics, they use their abilities to stop crimes just prior to their commission.

precrime

Once notified by the psychics, the police officers arrest the perpetrators before the crime is committed and incarcerate the “criminals”  before they can take action. So, even though they’ve committed no actual crimes, they are still sent to prison.

The “intent” was all that mattered.

Although it’s a science fiction movie and takes place in the “future” you’re left with the impression that the idea is far fetched and could never happen. That is….until now.

Just last week Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State, signed a bill making it illegal to advertise your home for short-term rentals on websites like Airbnb. So, even though you might not ever rent your space, the sheer fact of publicizing your intent to rent will run you afoul of the law. Like pre-crime, you don’t even have to rent out your unit to get into trouble.  You just need the intent. No it’s not science fiction…its New York State.

As it stands, New York already has a law on the books making it illegal to rent out your home, or rooms, to short term tenants. The state also has heavy handed condo Boards that rule and restrict New York real estate associations. Most of them have stringent measures that forbid short term rentals.

The penalties to advertise carry up to a $7500 fine. Seem egregious? Yes…when D.W.I fines in N.Y range from $500 to $5,000 dollars and reckless driving fines are only $300 dollars! These are fine for actual crimes not an intent to commit one.

The fact is, Airbnb solved a huge issue for visitors to N.Y.  New York, especially New York City, has some of the highest hotel rates in the world along with some of the highest hotel occupancy rates. It is hard to find a hotel room that rents for less than $200 a night in New York City, so cheaper alternatives were needed.

Companies such as Airbnb filled a need. It’s not like New York City isn’t benefiting. Airbnb generated over $400 million dollars for New York City property owners last year.  So, at face value, it would seem everybody would be better off by having Airbnb in New York.  Hotels still have high occupancy rates that are not being negatively effected and property owners can generate additional income while having visitors enjoy a better experience. Finally, even the politicians get their tax slice of the $400 million.

Now those benefits are gone.

The reason why Airbnb was barred was alleged to be “safety reasons.” This seems always to be the justification of every action the government takes.  The statement read, “The government must ensure that all buildings comply with fire, building and other safety codes relative to their class.”

Give me a break!

I lived in New York City. You can barely walk down the street without obtaining a multitude of permits. Now, all of a sudden, those rental properties built over the years somehow slipped through licensing and zoning agency purview and were built without the government’s oversight in the first place? Please.
 
State Senator Liz Krueger issued a statement in favor of the law, calling it “a huge victory for regular New Yorkers over the interests of a thirty-billion dollar corporation.” Really?  The majority of Airbnb’s profits flow to individuals. In fact, the company Airbnb has lost billions of dollars since it was founded. It has never generated a profit. The platform was designed for individual parties to benefit, not corporations. Senate Liz Kruger is a liar for saying something so blatantly false and misleading!

So this “victory” is actually one for the power brokers and against regular New Yorkers…ordinary people who use the site to generate extra income and help make ends meet. These people will now lose that needed extra income.

With stupidity like this so pervasive in government, especially in N.Y., it’s no wonder why people are leaving the state. Since the 2010 census  653,071 people have left the state. This was the largest decrease of any state, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of estimated population since the start of the decade.

The Empire State doesn’t say why residents are leaving, but we can think of several possible reasons: high taxes, high unemployment upstate, high housing costs in the city, and a large (and corrupt) bureaucracy—for starters.

Ironically, New York City already has the infrastructure within the surveillance state to “detect” pre-crime…not unlike the world which “Minority Report” portrayed.  So it should not come as a shock that in real life, and in real time, the bureaucrats and administrators are already writing laws that will allow them to impose upon New Yorkers what they obviously thought was a darn good plot.

Truly scary stuff.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

Real Estate Ownership

For years, the financial industry and media pundits have told us that the way to wealth is through real estate. So what do we really own when we buy a house?

Many people feel that once they buy a house they own it; but, if you have a mortgage, its the bank that owns the house not you. Forget to pay your property taxes? The tax man will take your house regardless of who “owns it.”

real-estate-businessThe real estate industry has an entire machine that promulgates the benefits of home ownership. From the ads on TV to radio commercials… the average consumer is inundated with messages assuring that real estate is the way to achieve financial success. Yet, when the real estate market crashed in 2008, many people were wiped out.

What happened?

Real estate prices had become so over-inflated that it was no longer economical to buy.  Without any more buyers entering the market, prices collapsed. It got so bad in some cities such as Detroit that houses could be bought for one hundred dollars!

In fact, business colleagues of mine started a company to capitalize on the rock bottom prices in Detroit.  Because of the huge downturn, the city was literally giving houses away. The municipality was going so far as to raze certain neighborhoods because there was just too many vacant houses. In fact, wilderness began reclaiming parts of the city with deer actually showing up in Detroit!

It wasn’t only houses that were on sale. Skyscrapers in parts of downtown Detroit were selling for under five million dollars. This was crazy when you realize that prime apartments in major cities such as Miami were being valued at the same amount as skyscrapers in Detroit.

The funny thing was that even at rock bottom prices, Detroit had a hard time finding buyers.  If you think about it, it makes no sense that a house could sell for so little.  But, if you truly understand how housing works and the role government plays in that equation, it makes perfect sense.

The $100 price was an only an illusion of the true price of the home. If you bought the home, there were bills that had to be paid; mainly the ongoing tax bill levied by the government that ran north of $5,000 dollars per year. So what my colleagues were really buying was a $5,000 annual liability that they would have to pay.  In addition, in order to buy the house, the old tax bills (tax liens) had to be paid off to make the house current.

This is why Detroit had such a hard time selling its houses for rock bottom prices. Nobody likes to buy a liability, particularly one that would likely increase if more people continued to leave Detroit.  The people who remained would have to pick up the shortfall in property tax revenue created by everybody else who moved.

Detroit became the epicenter of the lie of real estate. There is no such thing as home ownership in the U.S.  We are all tenants. Our landlord? The government. And their claim on your land has first priority as a lien over all other creditors.

Tax liens are all the proof you need to know to prove that the real owner of your house is the government. If you fall behind on your mortgage, the taxes on your property don’t get paid. When that happens, the local tax office will auction off the unpaid taxes that you owe to investors for double digit returns. If your tax bill remains unpaid for a long enough period of time, the tax lien holder owns your house. In terms of debt structure, tax lien holders are senior to mortgage debt.

So for example, if you fall behind on a $300,000 mortgage and a tax lien holder buys a $3,000 tax lien on your property, that tax lien holder now has a lien senior to the mortgage holder. If, by chance, you default and the bank cannot/will not pay off the lien holder, the tax lien holder can be awarded the house. So, even though the mortgage company took the biggest risk and lent most of the money, by law, they are junior to the tax man.

I give credit to the millennials. They see first hand the dangers of owning too much real estate and the stresses it can cause. They have shunned home ownership and seem less concerned about material goods. Out of the crisis in 2008 came the movement to own your own home; but, without having the government as your landlord.

Tiny houses are the solution to owning your house free and clear. The way that that they get around this law is by building small houses and placing them on a trailer. Because the house can be moved by vehicle and house never touches the ground, the government can not tax it. Although the houses are small, they are fully functional and can be bought for as little as $35,000 dollars.

tinyliving

Life in the U.S over the last fifty years has revolved around living in a communities. Home ownership has been a way for politicians (and municipalities) to tax homeowners to achieve their objectives. Public education has been the main selling point for living in these communities and the means by which politicians sold their plans. But look at what happened in Detroit. Citizens rejected the notion that it was worthwhile to stick around for a public education…one that was sub-par at best. Having lived in New Jersey for many years, I know first hand how run down many of these public schools have become.

The tiny house movement, home schooling and the move to online education courses have all become threats to the notion that we need to live in one community and have our tax dollars used for public education.

Man’s natural inclination is to be free… especially from the tyranny of government. Because government uses tax payer monies to pay for local, state and federal employees its fair to conclude that government employees’ lives and their income are more important than us non-government employed citizens. The fact that the government can take away our houses because of a tax bill,in order to keep funding its own sustenance and growth,  just goes to show you what governments’ and politicians’ priorities are.

The tiny house movement might just be the first step toward a nation of true home ownership. Bravo to the millennials on this one! They looked around and saw that more is never enough so they’ve concluded that…less is more.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

An Open Letter To Senator Ted Cruz

NOTE: Last week I posted an Open Letter to radio talk show host and author Mark Levin. Ironically, I am re-posting it here with one minor change. Its now an Open Letter to Senator Ted Cruz.

I was a Cruz supporter early and to the bitter end. I defended my support of him to my many friends and colleagues who could not comprehend why standing on principles was more important than winning. Now, sadly with Senator Cruz’s endorsement of Donald Trump, it seems the Senator doesn’t understand the distinction either.

In response to Senator Cruz’s justification, articulated this morning on the The Glenn Beck radio program, that its a “binary election” and therefore the reason he has decided to back Trump, I direct the Senator to my post to Mark Levin (re-posted below) who also perceives this to be a “binary election.” 

One week ago I was able to use Senator Cruz’s memorable speech at the Republican Convention to make my point to Mr Levin. I believe that the content of the speech still stands as truth. The only change is that Senator Cruz abandoned that truth.

I have a great deal of respect for talk show host Mark Levin.  As a lawyer, author of several outstanding books on the U.S. Constitution, cabinet advisor in the Reagan administration, chief of staff to Attorney General Ed Meese, secretary for elementary and secondary education for the U.S. Department of Education and deputy solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Mr. Levin can claim an impressive resume which garners him respect and credibility on matters of politics and policy.

Recently, on his syndicated radio show, Mr. Levin followed through with his promise to announce, post-Labor Day, for whom he would be voting in the upcoming Presidential election.  Early on, he had been a Ted Cruz supporter; but, once Cruz’s candidacy ended, Levin spent months railing against the weaknesses of both Clinton and Trump, so I was eagerly awaiting his announcement.

It came, as promised, earlier this week. Levin is voting for Donald Trump because this is a binary election. It is a rationale that, for me, is flawed.

We owe “binary thinking” to Aristotle. He was the progenitor of the concept of absolutes and dualistic thinking. Black or white…yes or no…up or down…summarized mathematically as “x” or “not “x.” (or think of it as X or Y).  It was, and still is the basis for decision making in Western cultures. In fact, its where we get the word dilemma, “di” meaning two and “lemma” meaning argument or choice.

It is in the West our method of thinking; but, it is not the only method of thinking. In fact, its a very limiting approach to problem solving. It is just such an approach that has caused Mr. Levin to think there are only two choices in November, making this the “binary” election he perceives.

Nagarjuna, Hindu turned Buddhist philosopher, lived about 500 years after Aristotle. He put forth the concept of a “tetralemma.”  Tetra means four and, as stated above, “lemma” means argument or choice. So in an Eastern approach to problem solving, there are four possible choices or resolutions:  (1) X;  (2) Y;  (3) both X and Y; (4) neither X nor Y.  Such an approach widens and opens up the possibilities and creative thought process for problem solving.

Back to Mr. Levin’s binary election. In the dilemma approach that Mr. Levin applied, he had two choices: X=Hilary Clinton or Y=Donald Trump. But in tetralemma problem solving we have (1) X=Hilary Clinton; (2) Y=Donald Trump; (3) =both Clinton and Trump; (4) = neither Clinton nor Trump.

Obviously number (3) is not an option. But number (4) is!  Mark Levin, and every other voter who thinks that neither Hilary Clinton nor Donald Trump is fit to hold the office of the Presidency, has other options. There are other candidates running. The Libertarian, Constitutional, and Green Parties all have candidates in this race. There is a write in option as well. I know the “dilemma” knee jerk reactions. People say either (1) a vote for any of those is a wasted vote or (2) it won’t matter anyway because the Electoral College elects the President not the popular vote. Again, thank you Aristotle!

I’d like to take a broader and longer view of the problem. I’d like to look at it as something other than an absolute and from a higher perspective as well.

When Ted Cruz spoke to the Republican Convention, he angered many Republicans by suggesting that people vote their conscience. He did not explicitly endorse Donald Trump and his suggestion was interpreted as having the effect of a vote for Hilary Clinton. But Cruz was doing what we say we want in our leaders. He was standing by his conviction. He was following his conscience and suggesting others do the same. He stood with his country, and his party, but would not overtly and in good conscience endorse a man he did not believe to be fit for the office. We would all do well to listen to our own internal guidance system, which some call intuition and others call “gut”, and act in accordance with its prompting.

Further, have we not learned by now that there are as many choices in or lives as we have the courage to make? Have we not yet come to understand that media and politicians and people who lust after power want us to believe we have only the choices they put before us? Have we not yet grasped the true blessing of free will… as well as the responsibility that accompanies it and the consequences of abdicating it?

I hear only one voice publicly espousing and living the broader option. Radio host Glenn Beck has held firm in that neither Clinton nor Trump is fit for office and so he is voting otherwise. Beck is more focused upon voting his conscience than on limiting himself to what externals tell him he must do. I get that. I didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 because I had an intuitive feeling that he was not what he appeared to be.  Almost everyone I knew voted for him.  I look back knowing I did the right thing for myself and my country. In the end, that’s all we have. Our word and our conscience. I want to be able to live with both. I suspect so does Mr. Beck.

AI and technology are teaching us, at warp speed,  just how little we comprehend about reality and the limitless boundaries of human creativity and consciousness. We are on the cusp of experiencing just how literally we create our reality. And so, Mr. Levin, I already live in a world and have an understanding of the critical importance of my thoughts and my actions.

Therefore, Mr. Levin, this is not a binary election. To the contrary, it is much more than that. It is an opportunity to be the best we can be by refusing to settle for the least among us.  That is the future I and others are creating and we ask you to join us in that creation.

Carole Gold

comtact@carolegold.com

 

 

What al-Sisi Knows About Obama

This isn’t the first time I’ve written that I didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012.

soros

I had my reasons. But today I listened to a caller, an African American man, who explained why he didn’t and it struck me like a ton of bricks.

My reason back then had been based upon a book I read by a former NY Times African American writer who, having been raised in a mixed family similar to Obama’s and shared significant other similarities, set forth the reasons why Obama didn’t know who he was. Wasn’t sure if he was Black or White. Didn’t know in which community and culture he belonged. The book was so well written, and reasoned, I closed it after the last page and knew Obama wasn’t fit for the job.

The rationale of the African American who called in today was quite different. He said, simply, “Obama was trained to be a community organizer. He was trained to play upon discontent, stir it up and use it to create civil unrest to accomplish a political agenda. This is who he is and this is why, eight years later, he has done just that to the nation. It is the unrest and violence that has erupted everywhere. It’s the effect of Alinsky-like tactics that he and those he surrounds himself with were trained in.”

Whoa!

It isn’t as though I didn’t know Obama was a community organizer or that he was friends with Bill Ayres, Bernadine Dorn, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Vann Jones and others.  Or that they all have Socialist leanings. Or that George Soros is funding the whole game. It’s that I never connected the dots in quite the way this guy had done it.

Suddenly, even the Muslim Brotherhood connection and support made sense.  After all, doesn’t radical Islam in its early stages (before it gets to the beheadings) use community organizing tactics to foment discontent within the Arab world? It would be a natural for Obama to find common ground with such organizations that were using the same, or similar, tactics and strategies he had learned to “help liberate oppressed” communities both inside and outside the U.S.

So the riots taking place across the country and the blood in the streets, such as tonight in Charlotte, North Carolina are the direct result of the down and dirty tactics of a community organizer dressed in Presidential garb and wrapped in an American flag.

He’s had, by the standards of the radical Left, a great run. He’s brought the nation within a stone’s throw of Socialism, brought bloodshed to our streets and imported enough radical Islamists to assure the inevitable, massive, terror attack just waiting to happen.

However, by the standards of freedom loving, independent, hardworking people everywhere, he has been a plague upon us. His protégé, chomping at the bit, wants you to elect her to continue his “legacy.” If we are blind enough and dumb enough to do so, it won’t be a legacy as much as a terminal metastatic event that will eat away at what pockets of health and sanity still exist within our Republic.

Sometimes the only way to really see ourselves is in the reflection of another.

Today, President al-Sisi of Egypt went public, having met with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. No one knows the Muslim Brotherhood better than the Egyptians who, despite Obama and Clinton’s ill-devised support of the Arab Spring, unseated the Muslim Brotherhood and have been keeping them at bay ever since.  Al-Sisi and other high-up Egyptian leaders stated that they don’t trust Hillary Clinton and that they have suffered under the non-support of the Obama Administration as it cozied up to, and supported, the Brotherhood against the will of the Egyptian people.

So, if you’ve been unable to see Obama and Clinton for who they really are (and I am not a Trump supporter) take a look at our reflection in the eyes of the Egyptians.  For the moment, they are a lot closer to the problem, and far enough away from here, to have a vantage point you may not have considered. Looking through their eyes may open you own.

Carole

contact@carolegold.com

In Response To Mark Levin

I have a great deal of respect for talk show host Mark Levin.  As a lawyer, author of several outstanding books on the U.S. Constitution, cabinet advisor in the Reagan administration, chief of staff to Attorney General Ed Meese, secretary for elementary and secondary education for the U.S. Department of Education and deputy solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Mr. Levin can claim an impressive resume which garners him respect and credibility on matters of politics and policy.

options

Recently, on his syndicated radio show, Mr. Levin followed through with his promise to announce, post-Labor Day, for whom he would be voting in the upcoming Presidential election.  Early on, he had been a Ted Cruz supporter; but, once Cruz’s candidacy ended, Levin spent months railing against the weaknesses of both Clinton and Trump, so I was eagerly awaiting his announcement.

It came, as promised, earlier this week. Levin is voting for Donald Trump because this is a binary election. It is a rationale that, for me, is flawed.

We owe “binary thinking” to Aristotle. He was the progenitor of the concept of absolutes and dualistic thinking. Black or white…yes or no…up or down…summarized mathematically as “x” or “not “x.” (or think of it as X or Y).  It was, and still is the basis for decision making in Western cultures. In fact, its where we get the word dilemma, “di” meaning two and “lemma” meaning argument or choice.

It is in the West our method of thinking; but, it is not the only method of thinking. In fact, its a very limiting approach to problem solving. It is just such an approach that has caused Mr. Levin to think there are only two choices in November, making this the “binary” election he perceives.

Nagarjuna, Hindu turned Buddhist philosopher, lived about 500 years after Aristotle. He put forth the concept of a “tetralemma.”  Tetra means four and, as stated above, “lemma” means argument or choice. So in an Eastern approach to problem solving, there are four possible choices or resolutions:  (1) X;  (2) Y;  (3) both X and Y; (4) neither X nor Y.  Such an approach widens and opens up the possibilities and creative thought process for problem solving.

Back to Mr. Levin’s binary election. In the dilemma approach that Mr. Levin applied, he had two choices: X=Hilary Clinton or Y=Donald Trump. But in tetralemma problem solving we have (1) X=Hilary Clinton; (2) Y=Donald Trump; (3) =both Clinton and Trump; (4) = neither Clinton nor Trump.

Obviously number (3) is not an option. But number (4) is!  Mark Levin, and every other voter who thinks that neither Hilary Clinton nor Donald Trump is fit to hold the office of the Presidency, has other options. There are other candidates running. The Libertarian, Constitutional, and Green Parties all have candidates in this race. There is a write in option as well. I know the “dilemma” knee jerk reactions. People say either (1) a vote for any of those is a wasted vote or (2) it won’t matter anyway because the Electoral College elects the President not the popular vote. Again, thank you Aristotle!

I’d like to take a broader and longer view of the problem. I’d like to look at it as something other than an absolute and from a higher perspective as well.

When Ted Cruz spoke to the Republican Convention, he angered many Republicans by suggesting that people vote their conscience. He did not explicitly endorse Donald Trump and his suggestion was interpreted as having the effect of a vote for Hilary Clinton. But Cruz was doing what we say we want in our leaders. He was standing by his conviction. He was following his conscience and suggesting others do the same. He stood with his country, and his party, but would not overtly and in good conscience endorse a man he did not believe to be fit for the office. We would all do well to listen to our own internal guidance system, which some call intuition and others call “gut”, and act in accordance with its prompting.

Further, have we not learned by now that there are as many choices in or lives as we have the courage to make? Have we not yet come to understand that media and politicians and people who lust after power want us to believe we have only the choices they put before us? Have we not yet grasped the true blessing of free will… as well as the responsibility that accompanies it and the consequences of abdicating it?

I hear only one voice publicly espousing and living the broader option. Radio host Glenn Beck has held firm in that neither Clinton nor Trump is fit for office and so he is voting otherwise. Beck is more focused upon voting his conscience than on limiting himself to what externals tell him he must do. I get that. I didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 because I had an intuitive feeling that he was not what he appeared to be.  Almost everyone I knew voted for him.  I look back knowing I did the right thing for myself and my country. In the end, that’s all we have. Our word and our conscience. I want to be able to live with both. I suspect so does Mr. Beck.

AI and technology are teaching us, at warp speed,  just how little we comprehend about reality and the limitless boundaries of human creativity and consciousness. We are on the cusp of experiencing just how literally we create our reality. And so, Mr. Levin, I already live in a world and have an understanding of the critical importance of my thoughts and my actions.

Therefore, Mr. Levin, this is not a binary election. To the contrary, it is much more than that. It is an opportunity to be the best we can be by refusing to settle for the least among us.  That is the future I and others are creating and we ask you to join us in that creation.

Carole

contact@carolegold.com

 

 

 

Sarah Palin vs Barack Obama

“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.” Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

Barack Obama-SarahPalin

In the 2008 election, the power of ridicule was out in force and on full display.  It was the main tactic used by the left to help Barack Obama ascend the Presidency. During that presidential season, John McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, was mocked relentlessly by the main stream media concerning her qualifications, demeanor and intelligence. It was done in order to destroy her party’s chances of winning.  Democrat advocates who produced and starred in the comedy show Saturday Night Live went to great lengths to her with the infamous Tina Fey impersonations.

The viciousness and scope of these attacks were so pointed and over the top that even commentators began to question the relentless assault. The hubris of the media and leftist Hollywood in thinking that it was their duty to educate the American voters on how unqualified Palin was and, to be blunt, what an ignoramus they deemed her to be.

Personally, I thought that the attacks on Sarah Palin were so extreme as to be indicative of the fear the Left had regarding the danger she presented to their chosen candidate, Barack Obama. Plain was actually quite an accomplished person. She had been a newscaster, small business owner and governor of a successful state. She had held real positions of power and  done well in every venture that she undertook.

Normally the focal point of any presidential election is the Presidential candidate themselves given that they are the one who, if successful, will wield the power. For all intensive purposes the Vice President has no real responsibilities and is seen more as an aide and, in some cases, advisor to the President And yet the most pointed attacks were directed at her and not McCain. Given the fact that she was not running for President but rather Vice President,  the attacks seemed disproportionate to the role she was playing in the campaign and would play as VP.

Knowing that Barack Obama, by any measurable standards, was untested and unqualified for the office, they attacked Plain for the qualities that their candidate did not posses. And it worked. In the end, Palin was branded as “not qualified” by the public. Ironically Barack Obama, with zero experience, was seen as infinitely better prepared to handle the office.

In order to elect Obama, the media did their part to bring down Sarah Palin. Obama’s lack of qualification was stunning and apparent for all to see; yet, incredulously, he was not the subject of their scrutiny.  Any halfway decent journalist could have scratched the surface of Obama’s history to find a paper thin resume.

  • Although Barack Obama’s academic institutions’ credentials are impressive, Columbia undergraduate and Harvard Law, he has refused to release any of his transcripts. His actual performance is unverifiable. If his claim was that he should have been elected President due to his extraordinary intellectual  acumen, then why not release the transcripts in support of that claim?  In addition there have been real questions raised about his time at Columbia given that no students in his program have vouched for him. Not one student or professor has gone on record to say they knew him or saw him there.
  • After Harvard Law School, he worked as a professor and a community organizer.  That was followed by a term in the Illinois State Senate and a term as a U.S. Senator whereupon he immediately ran for the Presidency.
  • The Lefts’ attacks on Sarah Palin were relentless because they feared her. By shifting the focus and the narrative to Palin, the Right was put on the defensive without ever having had the chance, or media support, to investigate and bring up Obama’s lack of experience. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.” Again….Saul Alinsky.

History is written by the victors. This has always been the case and recent history is no different. In many minds, the 2008 election was between Palin and Obama. Obama was smart…or his handlers were. He/They knew that Palin was the threat… not McCain

Irony is that Obama obtained the qualification he desperately needed but at the nation’s expense. His was clearly a case of on-the-job training. We erroneously put so much emphasis on the status of being President as an unparalled accomplishment that we bestow upon those who get there gifts and skills they may or may not have. Remember candidates for President are first and foremost better at one thing more than any other: getting elected.

The Left is not stupid. Far from it. They are focused, organized and take the long term view of things. They knew Barack Obama had not accomplished much in his life prior to winning so, upon assuming the Presidency, they bestowed upon this unaccomplished individual the Nobel Peace Prize for the “hope” that he brought to the world.  Not accomplishment. Just a feeling.

The Left doesn’t trade in facts. It trades in emotion.

This is not revisionist history and the Left knows it. Immediately following the 2008 election, the  Arizona State Board of Directors rescinded an honorary degree given Obama because they felt he was not a sufficiently accomplished person to speak at the event they were holding. They knew that the merit in the Presidency come from what you do once you are in office…not what you claim you’ll do while on the way there.

The consequences of the 2008 and 2012 elections will be with us for a very long time. I know politics is a blood sport but there should be boundaries.  Any rational person who observed what happened to Sarah Plain in 2008 understands the great personal risks involved in seeking the White House.  Its easy to conclude that only power hungry sociopaths would ever want to subjugate themselves to such madness.

The Left’s motto is “the means justifies the ends.” They lived it in 2008 in getting rid of Sarah Palin, and McCain in the process. But take a moment to think about the price paid. Think about the decent and qualified leaders who will never run for elected office because of what the Left did to her.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

The Clinton Email Scandal- Another Take

Given that everything is now seen through a political lens, many people can no longer see the fact that Hillary Clinton actually committed a crime while serving as Secretary of State by not safeguarding her emails.

Clinton

When I mention this fact to my liberal friends, the best defense they can muster is that it is a Republican witch-hunt. Okay, maybe it is. I’ll concede the possibility; but whether it is or isn’t doesn’t change the fact that she still committed a major crime.

When I was in the military, I was given numerous briefs on how to handle classified material along with the severe penalties if I were to make  a mistake. For example, the radios that we took out into the field were encrypted and considered as classified material. They were treated with the utmost care because if one of them ever made it into the hands of the enemy, they would be able to decipher the military’s communication system.

On one particular field event, a radio operator lost his radio and the whole battalion (over 1,000 people) was ordered to “walk the woods” until the radio was found. It took over 20 hours to find it; but, that is how the military treats classified information. All measures are taken-  at all costs – to safeguard national secrets.

A fellow officer with a higher security clearance than mine told me that whenever he needed to read or send classified email (Secret, Top Secret, Top Secret Sensitive Compartmentalized Information) he had to obtain entry into a special vault called the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility). No cell phones, cameras, thumb drives, disks etc were allowed in the vault. Why? So no one would purposefully or accidentally cross contaminate classified information onto non-classified devices!

Once a disk or thumb drive was used on a “classified only” computer, that devise was tagged with a classified sticker and was not then used on a non-classified computer. If he ever had classified email on a non-classified computer, his career would have been over and he would likely have been incarcerated. That is how serious the military takes classified material.

Classified material is a big deal because it helps protect our military personnel and our agencies.  The President is first and foremost Commander in Chief and, as such, his or her first responsibility is to protect American lives. Hillary Clinton is running for President of the United States, (a/k/a/ Commander-in-Chief). In her reckless or intentional disregard she, as Secretary of State, failed to protect American lives by placing them in jeopardy. While not an American, just this weekend the Iranians hanged an Iranian nuclear scientist who was convicted of providing the U.S. with information on the Iran nuclear program. The scientist was specifically discussed by Hillary Clinton on her unsecured email server.

Benghazi and now a hanged Iranian scientist. She has already cost lives. Who can imagine the scope of the damage she will cause with even more power!

One of the things missing in the debates thus far has been Hillary Clinton’s recklessness with her email server. But America is on trial as a result as well.  Every sane person knows that if an ordinary person did what Clinton did, they would be in prison by now for a very long time. Hillary Clinton did what she did because she knows the same laws don’t apply to her. There is one set of laws for the “common folk” and a different set for her and other elites.

The whole world is watching how America’s vaunted legal system where “all men are treated equally” and where “the rule of law applies to everyone” is deteriorating. From a financial perspective, investors will view the country skeptically knowing that laws are arbitrarily applied and enforced. The whole world, in subtle and not so subtle ways, will treat America differently.

We the people, not the elites, will suffer the end result.

When I worked in emerging markets and traded bonds from Argentina, investors would demand a risk premium on the assets they would buy because they knew the laws in Argentina were arbitrary. They needed to be compensated for that risk. So, if a 10-year bond with a single A rating in Argentina traded at a 10% yield, that same bond in the U.S would trade for 7%. Investors would demand 300 basis points because they perceived the risk as different.

Investors knew if there was ever a problem in the country, Argentine officials did not have a history of a stable and fair legal system and, thus, needed to be compensated for their risk taking. Having worked in finance for many years, I can guarantee you the “quants” who price risk will adjust America’s risk premium higher which will, in the end, make every American instrument more expensive.

There are consequences for what Hillary Clinton did and the ramifications will be felt over various aspects of our society for years to come. Over time, the decision not to prosecute Clinton will impact us all. Her detractors as well as her supporters will all be worse off.  Nobody wins in this scenario except for one person: Hillary Clinton.

Welcome to Hillary’s America.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com