"I write to discover what I think."

  ~Daniel Boorstin


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(Caveat Emptor)

News and opinion from all over the political universe. 

Much of it to be taken with several grains of salt.

May 25th, 2020


“I couldn’t make it through a workout without music,” remarked Tim Cook, Apple CEO. “Music inspires, it motivates. It’s also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it’s better than any medicine.”

     We don't detect much melody in musical fare these days.  Nor are lyrics memorable, if they can be heard over the bang of the drums and the screech of over-modulated guitar amplifiers. 

       But we are very patient.  As teenagers of the early 1940s we did our share to annoy the older generations with our adoration of big band swing and stupid songs like "Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats,"  or "Hut-sut Ralsin on the Rillarah."  The grownups of that day had forgotten the crazy songs of their own youth like "Who takes care of the caretaker's daughter when the caretaker is busy taking care?"
 
       Browse the folios of popular music of the '20s, 30s, and '40s and notice the clever lyric rhymes, the memorable tunes - the kind people tended to whistle on the street or to themselves when performing chores.  Try to find the melody in the hard rock stuff that circulates today.  Moreover, try to find lyrics that rhyme. 

       The noise that passes for new "music" today generally lacks melody or lyrics that reach the heart.  Maybe a new trend will catch on that slows the frenetic tempo, softens the volume, and makes way for Doris Days, Frank Sinatras or Bing Crosbys. 

        One can hope.



PRICES 72 YEARS AGO.
Read it and weep.


From May-June issue "Good Old Days."

      We and the Missus celebrate our 72nd anniversary this summer. One of our hobbies is to watch the rise of general prices and compare them to the prices of the day we galloped out of a northern Baptist Church and drove to Maine for a two week honeymoon. 

                                          Post-war price inflation was already showing up at the grocery store. For as long as we could remember a loaf of sliced bread cost nine or ten cents, but by 1948 the price had shot up to fourteen cents.

             We have experienced eleven economic recessions in our years as man and wife, and hit by price inflation in all but two of our married yeara - 1949 and 1955.  We did not expect to be alive when the general economy went haywire and slipped into a bona fide depression, but we seem to be headed quickly in that direction after the world-wide onset of the coronavirus pandemic. 

             We are not particularly upset about a depression coming to clean out the deadwood because we grew up as kids in the depressionary era of the 1930s. From a child's perspective it was not that awful. We were thrilled to be finally able to raise $5.00 of our very own money to buy a much used balloon tire bicycle and paint it blue. We were eight years old. Prior to that we did a heck of a lot of walking!

              Here's something to bear in mind:  In 1948 we were carrying real 90 percent silver coins in our pockets and the paper currency was still officially redeemable in lawful money. Although Americans had not been able to own physical gold coins or bars since 1933 the dollar was still tied to gold at the rate of $35.00 per troy ounce. 

              Two weeks before our 23rd anniversary the dollar was disconnected from any backing by anything of instrinsic value thereby allowing it to be created by government fiat. Supporters of the Constitutional mandate concerning the minting of money were quick to point out "They can create all the currency they want with the printing press or computer key strokes. But they can't print gold."


To "V" or not to "V". . .

We think the economy is more apt to go to "L".

   Some Harvard economists are predicting the economy will not snap out of its lethargy by election day.  They think we're in for a "U shaped" recovery with no specific guess on how long the bottom of the letter U will persist.  It could be bathtub shaped.

        Our guess, as we mentioned recently, is the recovery will be L shaped with the lower part of the letter stretching for a consierable length of time.

   The Internet is jammed with amateur and professional economics bloggers who believe they have the brainpower to predict how the U.S. and global economy will unfold in the near future.  All agree the virus scare set the economy back to such an extent the federal government is having to run multi-trillion dollar deficits in order to put some air under the wings of a suddenlyweak economy.  The leading liberal in the U.S. House of Representatives believes another $3 trillion should be pumped into the domestic economy to keep it going,  although Nancy Pelosi appears to have no understanding of what eventually happens to economic systems that are based on the creation of dollars from nothing (borrowed from the future on the promise of repayment  with dollars of less purchasing power). 

    White House staff have no choice but to hope for a v shaped recovery. That is, a sharp dip...which has already happened....and a relatively quick return to re-employment and recovery.  It is difficult to run a presidential election campaign when the economy is in tatters - as Herbert Hoover discovered in 1932.

     The U shaped recovery features a sharp dip, which we have, a flat spot for a while, and then a recovery thanks to a money flood from the government. 

      Then there's the W.  This really is two Vs hooked together.  Sharp drop, quick recovery, another dip when reality sinks in, and the a return to happy-ever-after.

       We think the L shaped prospect is more realistic.  It feature the steep drop, which we have just experienced, then a flat period that drags on until the average citizen realizes no individual or nation can build solid wealth through constantly borrowing more than one takes in.  The sages through the ages were right.  You cannot constantly live beyond your means without one day going broke. 



    Cycle of Democracy

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.

"From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.  These nations have progressed through this sequence:

"From bondage to spiritual faith;
 from spiritual faith to great courage;
 from courage to liberty;
 from liberty to abundance;
 from abundance to selfishness;
 from selfishness to apathy;
 from apathy to dependence;
 from dependency back again into bondage."

Dr. Alexander Tytler, a Scot professor, wrote a scholarly tome, from which this concept comes,  called "The Athenian Republic" which was published shortly before the thirteen American colonies gained independence from Britain.  "Google" him to learn more.

In publishing a handout on the "Cycle" in 1994 I noted that the national debt had reached a staggering $4.5 trillion dollars. By October 1, 2007,  it had soared to $9.06 trillion!.  Barely one year later (Oct. 17, '08) it was $10.3 trillion!! . By May,2020, tjhe debt exceeded $25 trillion with prospects of several trillion more! s .  Our forebears thought of debt as slavery.  They would be shocked at what their descendants have done.   - - John Wrisley.

Note:  We are aware of the selfless efforts of a Georgia attorney to disprove the "Cycle."  He says he painstakingly researched everything Professor Tytler wrote and cannot find the above sequence.  He does, however, observe that in Tytler's extensive writings on the nature of democracies through the ages the general trends are as the Cycle sequence states. ~JW

Compliments of www.wrisley.com 

     "There are two structural reasons why consumer spending will not rebound, no matter how 'open' the economy may be. Virtually everyone who glances at headlines knows the global economy is lurching into either a deep recession or a full-blown depression, depending on the definitions one is using. Everyone also knows the stock market has roared back as if nothing has happened."  ~Charles Hugh Smith
   Mr. Smith says it's important to note that risk is an internal assessment. Thus the economy can be completely open again but people who feel cautious won't resume their old spending habits, and there is no way to force them to do so.


      
Think about it.  Middle and lower income folks have been slapped hard in the pocketbook forcing them re-think how they spend their income (if they still have an income stream) and many are logically  concerned.   The money hustlers insist the injection of ready cash into the present wobbly economy will help it snap back to its former health.  But the "health" was mostly an illusion based on debt.  A bubble was created by borrowing and that bubble has been pricked by the virus pandemic. We are now in a recession that could easily deteriorate into a prolonged depression. 


      A caution flag is fluttering for all to see.  If it's a deflationary depression prices (including wages) may be forced down to levels not seen in some time. 


 
   We and the Missus are retired to a high rise old folks home, the management of which has done a good job of promoting behavior to discourage contagion of the nnotorious coronavirus pandemic.  So far as we know no cases have been detected here, but a high percentage of the population is staying cooped up in their apartments and wearing masks when they venture out to circumnavigate the building in an attempt to exercise. 

    rECENTLY, a team of health workers came to the building to administer COVID-19 checkups.  We chose not to participate mainly because 1/ We feel fine and believe we are presently virus free, and 2/ we really hate the idea of strangers poking Q-tips up our noses. 

      Yes, we think this virus is dangerous, particularly to old people with underlying frailties, but we also think most media outlets are overblowing the data.  In the last 24 hours we are told 3 deaths from the virus occurred in our state.  We have no idea how many people died of heart attacks, cancer, car crashes, and other problems that sweep away a fraction of the population each day.

       The master of curmudgeonry, Fred Reed, has finally dashed off a commentary on the virus.  As usual, some of his logic will infuriate the reader.  A critic once described him as " ...seditious, outrageous, inflammatory, evilly funny. Fred dislikes everything he is supposed to like, and likes everything he is supposed to dislike."  GOV'T DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW.

Former S.C.  governor Nikki Haley sounds like former Colorado governor Richard Lamm. 
   Her critics, and she has plenty, will say Haley is merely paving the way for a run in 2024 for the U.S. presidency.  Or, maybe she'll sign on as Trump's running mate if Mike Pence bails out this summer. 

     Whatever her political aims, her view that the monumental national debt is a Sword of Damocles swinging over the heads of future generations is quite true.  There is no chance the voting majority will ever permit direct taxes rise to the level required to halt budget deficits, let alone pay down any of the $25+ trillion public debt.  Politicians will continue to inflate the number of dollars in circulation with the result a sort of inflation/deflation called "stagflation."  This is a condition that results in a lower living standard as dollars become less efficient as measuring tools for the exchange of goods and services. 

   
Former Colorado governor Richard Lamm slammed the technique of borrowing from the future to pay current bills as a form of "Christmas in reverse" by which we enjoy the presents and send the bill to our posterity.  Haley appears to understand...and worry...about the habit of running multi-trillion dollar public debt.