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Member since: Mon Apr 28, 2014, 07:28 PM
Number of posts: 11,013

About Me

Counselor, economist and public servant.

Journal Archives

Great toon.



Yes, I'm writing a series of essays about the corrosive effect the shareholder primacy

doctrine has had on workers, consumers, communities and our environment.

A couple of thoughts:

There is nothing in the law that requires shareholder primacy. That doctrine is nothing but a theory. It is such because most of the players agree it is so. That's it.

As evidence, I call your attention to the corporate lawyer and law professor Lynn Stout, who in 2012 wrote a book called "The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the Public." This is a sound book, written to refute the shareholder primacy doctrine. In the forward, Stout mentions that this 'ironclad' doctrine is relatively new - prior to about 1980, corporate officers tended to a much wider view of the purpose of a corporation. Then, the Chicago School arises, with Milton Friedman and postulates that shareholder primacy is THE way to go. So we had Enron, the BP Gulf disaster, and so on.

More people are wising up to this issue. Consider Warren's August 2018 legislation called 'The Accountable Capitalism Act.' This legislation, which would not pass in this congress, nor be signed into law by Trump, forces that fiduciary responsibility to expand to other stakeholders, not merely shareholders. I just saw Rep. Katie Porter on Maher, and she spoke about overturning that doctrine.

And, of course, against that backdrop, we have the Federal Reserve Act, which has created a system of scarcity that doesn't have to be. More people are now thinking about, and embracing Modern Monetary Theory in this vein.

The problem is, wasupaloopa, that our current system is simply unsustainable. I mean, morality aside, if we don't do something substantial to reorganize ourselves around human need as opposed to human greed, we will go extinct. That might not be a bad thing, I guess, because if you look at the effect sapiens have had on this planet (check Yuval Noah Harari's book Sapiens), you see that if we went extinct right now, at this very moment, ALL other species - flora and fauna - would actually be better off. That's saying something.

So, yeah, I'm an economist who tends to democratic socialism - in the sense I genuinely believe that people need to have a say in policies that affect them, at the local, state and national level. To me, that is the definition of democracy. Now, in this republic, we do that, in theory, through those we elect. Unfortunately, as Senator Whitehouse says, we need to get all this dark money and corporate corruption out of DC and our state houses, because it is a cancer.

I think Bernie has been misunderstood when he calls for a 'political revolution.' What he is saying is that when we all get fed up enough and stand up, demanding some change, that change will happen. And, you know, it can either be through this system or a bloody worldwide revolution. But that change is now an existential necessity for our species.

We should rename today's party of Trump as the 21st century Know Nothings.

The Republicans are really no longer Republicans - the have mutated into something far worse. They are now the party of Trump.

So, back in the 1850s, when the Whig party dissolved, they were replaced by the Know Nothing movement, which was was very much like today's Trumpians. It was anti-Catholic, xenophobic, and hostile to immigration, and started as a secret society. According to Wiki, adherents to the movement were to reply "I know nothing" when asked about its specifics by outsiders, which is how the group came to be called the Know Nothings.

Now, we have the party of Trump. When we think about what that party now stands for, and about the polarization in this nation, they are just like the Know Nothings were way back when.

And, when we think about the stupid things they say, their flawed reasoning, their cruel policies, it is clear how very, very ignorant most are.

Thus, they know nothing. The Know Nothings.

Hyperbole elevated to a high art by none other than the Mooch. (From Daily Kos)

You all know I love hyperbole when it is well done.

Well, I saw this on Daily Kos https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/8/17/1879721/-The-Mooch-drags-Trump-hard-in-new-interview-Oh-my-god-this-jack-ss, and just cannot resist posting it here!

The Mooch really gets going. See if it amuses you as much as it did me:

He is so narcissistic, he doesn’t see people as people. He sees them as objects in his field of vision. You know, he doesn’t look at people—and by the way, if you and I were in his field of vision and he had a cold and the two of us had to die for him to get a Kleenex, you’re fucking dead. I mean, there’s no chance. You understand that, right?

I think the guy is losing it, mentally. He has declining mental faculties; he’s becoming more petulant; he’s becoming more impetuous. Okay, you see just by the way he’s sweating, his body’s not doing well. It’s obviously not a guy that takes care of himself, right? And he doesn’t listen to anybody. And just think about this, okay? There’s no one—there’s no Jim Mattis; there’s no Gary Cohn; there’s no one to check him anymore. Whatever my differences were with General John Kelly, after he left, this thing has completely unspooled.

Yep, gotta give it to the Mooch - when it comes to hyperbole, the guy is a real artist.

So, allow me to pose a question.

You suggest that polls are the conversation because the press is too lazy to bother learning and reporting on issues and policies.

That the media always wants to report on a 'horse race' is a fair point, and one with which I quite agree.

Your point there is no national primary is also well put.

But, where I differ with you is that by saying, "...mostly due to the laziness of the political press, who don't want to go through the bother of learning and reporting on issues and policies..." you seem to be suggesting that it is a matter of laziness and ignorance, nothing more.

I think it is more. In fact, I'm convinced that the corporations who own our media outlets exercise quite a bit of power over what these talking heads report. So, even if the talking head is well versed in the issues, they are still beholden to their owners to bring in high ratings because shareholder profits rule all else in this society. So, you see, I am convinced the truth has long been made a slave to profit.

This is why Trump, the quintessential reality star keeps harping on 'fake news.' He knows this. He knows ratings, and thus shareholder profits, are king. So he deliberately undermines the fourth estate so people become acclimated to being fed lies and then watching the conflict that ensues.

Donald Trump's most horrible act, among very, very many, is this tearing down of American institutions. He has made political discourse just like 'professional' wrestling - everyone knows it is fake, so they watch it only for entertainment.

Cory Booker - I thought for a long time about where to post this. Yes, it is about Cory

Booker, but it is about something he's been working on for years, well before his presidential run.

I saw a piece earlier today on MSNBC highlighting the effort, and it is something you all need to know about, because it has true bipartisan support, and could dramatically improve the lives of many, many people, particularly people of color.

The Dems support it because it is morally right and saves money. Republicans support it because it saves money - they don't care much about morality.

So, here's the article. You can read it yourself, and I sincerely ask you to make a quick call and/or send an email to your US Senators and Representative in support of this legislation. It is past due, and if we light up the proverbial switchboard, we can really accomplish something nice this year!

So, please, I urge you to act for this excellent purpose. We say we are for leveling the playing field and getting rid of institutional racism, and we are! But here's a real-life chance to make a change that does that!

Cory Booker aims to give aging prisoners 'a second look': The Democratic presidential candidate is unveiling new legislation to take prison reform another step forward.


William Underwood, 65 years years old, is one inmate who wasn't eligible for release under the First Step Act. He has been in federal prison for 30 years, convicted of conspiracy, racketeering and non-violent drug-related crimes. Although it was his first felony conviction, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole under mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Booker, who first met Underwood in 2016, says he's a prime example of the kind prisoner who should be eligible for release. He points to Underwood's age, the time he's already served and his record of good behavior as as reasons why more reforms are needed, noting that even the prison guards have said Underwood doesn’t belong there.

The bill would also give people who have served more than ten years an opportunity to petition the court for release. And for prisoners over the age of 50, they would be offered the presumption of release, which means the the judge would have to show that the inmate should remain behind bars because they are a threat to society.

The measure likely faces an uphill battle in part because it would shift the burden onto the judicial system to make the case that a prisoner should remain locked up.

Now, it has some problems, like how there isn't an exclusion for certain crimes, which is why it faces an uphill battle. But if you don't like that, maybe suggest to the staffer you speak to that your person could add an amendment excluding those crimes you don't think should be considered under the law.

But this is a good thing, good policy. We've known for YEARS that people of color are disproportionately affected by the justice system, and here's a piece of good policy that could release people who should never have been sentenced as harshly as they were. Like this Underwood.

Thanks for listening!

And, by the way, I could easily support Booker if he ends up being our candidate.

No, it actually isn't. The concept is called conflation, and what it looks like

on the ground is that there are two separate issues.

First, the Obamas are waiting until the primary is over, or at least well underway to endorse any one of the candidates.

Second, Biden is under criticism for playing up how he successfully worked with these segregationists, and subsequently apologized.




But, by putting them together, the reporter and editor of the for-profit news media outlet can make it 'seem' more 'interesting' i.e. controversial, by writing the headline so it implies a causal relationship between the two separate events. Because to me, the headline seems engineered to imply that a) Biden made the comments, b) Michelle Obama heard the comments, c) Michelle Obama was offended by the comments, d) Michelle said she was specifically going to withhold endorsement from Joe Biden BECAUSE of the comment.

Then, of course, when you read the article, you see it doesn't say that at all.

Pardon me for being curious, but surely you've noticed this penchant for creating faux 'controversy' in headlines before? I mean, all you have to do is look at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and you can see this in action. I will remind you also that our major media outlets are all, every single one, owned by for-profit publicly held corporations. Remember that the primary mission of ANY emission from ANY of these stations is to either keep revenue stable or increase revenue, because increased revenue is the fiduciary responsibility of the CEO - to keep shareholder profits up regardless of the welfare of workers, consumers or the environment.

That's just how it is, blue.

Now, your motive here seems to be to take a poke at Biden supporters based on this misleading headline and generate lots of back and forth responses, but the problem is those back and forth responses are based on the fallacy of conflation. There are plenty of things all of the candidates need to answer for during this primary season, and it seems to me that you do not need to use a misleading headline that conflates two separate issues to do so.

If you wanted to make a credible criticism of Biden, there are certainly enough factual things out there, votes, support for bills, etc. to do that without this particular article. That is my point.

Well trade is a very complicated subject and your second sentence seems to imply that because

I may disagree with you about trade issues, I'm somehow flawed, or worse, in the Trump camp. I actually do resent that, not because it isn't true, which it isn't - I'm most definitely NOT in the Trump camp, but because I have seen many of your posts on here and they are much more thoughtful than this one is. So...I'm answering you now because I felt you deserve a thoughtful answer.

Trade is complicated. There are three major players - workers, businesses and government. And, yes, there are pros and cons to free trade as an economic concept. If you think it through, you'll also hit on some moral conundrums that go with it as well, particularly if you believe, like most billionaires and CEOs seem to, that we live in a zero sum world and that for me to win, you must lose.

I won't belabor those recognized pros and cons out of respect for you, because your post to me suggests you are aware of them.

Instead, lets merely explore the types of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), and see why having these provisions in a trade agreement can be good or bad. Or both.

Clearly, the main 'pro' around having ISDS provisions in place is that they protect companies that invest in operations in a foreign country from losing that investment to nationalization or other corruption. That is a good thing, at least on its face.

But what happens when we take the concept too far, as the TPP did? In the TPP, a company based in say, Seattle, could sue the city, the state of Washington and the federal government for loss of profits due to the imposition of regulations. Now, you know as well as I that there are some of these suits in court now. One example that comes to mind is the oil companies suing the US government for loss of profits over the Keystone Pipeline.

So, to be truly effective, an agreement must have benefits for all the stakeholders, and protections for all the stakeholders. Unfortunately, by the nature of these ISDS agreements, protections for the environment as a stakeholder simply is not included.

Now, stakeholders in any trade agreement are a country's people, workers in affected industries, consumers of product, shareholders and the environment. Right now, in this business climate, the pendulum has simply swung too far toward the primacy of the shareholder over all else, and it is materially hurting workers, consumers and the planet we live on.

Eliminate that doctrine by expanding fiduciary responsibility of C-Suite officers to recognize the interests of these four stakeholders as coequal would go a long way toward rectifying many of the seemingly intractable problems that beset us.

The proverbial bottom line here is that yes, we do need trade agreements, and yes, these agreements need ISDS provisions because there is corruption all over the earth, and a business expanding into an area in good faith needs those protections, PROVIDED that expanding business also must, by virtue of the way those ISDS provisions are (should be) written, protect the interests of the other stakeholders too.

In my opinion, the ISDS provisions in the TPP did not do this, thus I opposed the TPP based on that. Be mindful of the secrecy that surrounded the entire thing - members of Congress being allowed to go into a room alone, not take notes and simply read the thing was very strange to me. The 'fast tracking' of Senate approval was problematic. And the lack of any kind of open debate was problematic.

So you see, you cannot really just assume, as you did, that because I disagree with X must mean I agree with Y. That is a fallacy in logic and you are better than that. It is better to say, in a mathematical sense that I agree with X(business) + X(community governance) + X(workers) + X(consumers) + X(environment), but not merely X(business). And, since the TPP was written primarily by corporate attorneys deliberately trying to be obtuse - I know because I read it on wikileaks - to my mind other stakeholders were NOT considered as they should have been.

But again, please do not put words in my mouth or try in the heat of argument to impose some position that has nothing to do with my actual thinking on the matter.

The primacy of the shareholder doctrine, and our desperate need to expand fiduciary responsibility of CEOs in publicly held corporations is why I'm supporting Warren. This is the root cause of most of our problems. It really is, and in August 2018, she introduced legislation called the 'Accountable Capitalism Act.' She 'gets' it. I like Warren a lot.

And, you know, none of the candidates are perfect, including Warren. But Trump is a monster. Now, for a time, our primary race was pretty good in terms of not ripping each others' guts out. Now, just in the space of a few days, that has changed. Not good. The people on here have positions along a continuum between progressive left (social democrat) and centrist (like Eisenhower Republicans - if you read Ike's brilliant 1963 essay titled, "Why I'm a Republican," you will see what I mean).

I loved Obama and still do, but he was a centrist. I supported Bernie in 2016 but voted for Clinton when Bernie lost the primaries. That was a bitter battle on here, too. Now, we have a whole bunch of younger, fresher candidates that look a whole lot more like the American people, and they are elevating the dialog. People are talking about healthcare and the environment now, and our job is to advance arguments so people actually understand that medicare for all won't make private insurance illegal. Or my favorite - it will 'rip away the employer coverage you love,' when the truth is actually that what you will have will be better than what you did have. But that's a different debate.

Hopefully this clarifies my positions on the ISDS provisions in TPP and on ISDS provisions in general.

Sharia court orders jail for rape victim unless kids handed to rapist. No, wait.

That was in Alabama.

This is utterly appalling. I know women face gender discrimination daily but THIS goes way beyond the pale.

Here's an excerpt followed by the link. This is utterly shameful and un-American.

A young woman from Birmingham, Alabama, was raped and impregnated four times by her uncle. She was just 12 years old when the assaults started: Her mother’s half-brother started climbing into her bed. She endured this hell for years. Raped at 14, she miscarried. Raped at 16, she gave birth to a baby boy. Raped at 18, she gave birth, but her child died of a disease common to incest cases. Raped at 19, she gave birth to her second son.

Despite the DNA evidence, her uncle was never convicted of rape. It wouldn’t matter if he had been anyway: In Alabama, a rapist is entitled to visitation rights to children resulting from his crimes, and can even sue for custody. Alabama is one of only two states that allow this.

However, this horror takes on new meaning in Alabama, because last month the state passed a law outlawing the destruction of embryos for all victims of sexual assault. The law even prescribes jail for doctors who perform abortions. In fact, the only exception to the law is given to in vitro fertilization labs, which routinely destroy tons of fertilized eggs.

Now that abortion is outlawed for all rape survivors in Alabama, the survivor is forced to bear a child if one is conceived. At the very least, you’d think the lawmakers would fix the loophole (assuming it even is a loophole) that would give the rapist custody and visitation rights. Well, actually, one Alabama lawmaker did try to do just that by introducing a bill to terminate the parental rights of rapists. Unfortunately, “pro-life” lawmakers amended the bill so that it pertained only to people who rape their own children, and required that the perpetrator be convicted of first-degree rape.


Hello everyone! I seldom post in the Lounge but I was thinking about something

on my way home from work the other day.

For some reason, don't know why because I haven't heard the term in some time, I thought of 'supergroups' while listening to a song by Supertramp.

Now, I like Supertramp but I personally - just my own opinion - don't think of them as a supergroup. Not because they aren't good, because they are...or were. No, it isn't that.

I mean, what IS a supergroup? For me, they are groups whose music is absolutely timeless - most of it - and you can hear it now and love it just the same as when you first heard it when you were 10 or 12. They are groups, who when you hear them, somehow elevate your spirit in some indefinable but visceral way.

The bands I personally would think of as 'supergroups' would of course include the Beatles, the Who, and Led Zeppelin. Don't get me wrong - there's tons of really, really good music out there, but these three groups, when I hear their music, elevate me somehow in ways other music groups do not.

The term 'supergroup' was first coined, I suspect, by the 'money' side of the music 'industry.' I believe they positioned Supertramp as the next 'supergroup' and did a sophisticated marketing campaign around the concept, but to me Supertramp, even though I like them just fine, never really reached that realm of exaltation where the Beatles, the Who and Zep live in my spirit and memory.

You know what I mean?

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