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PatrickforB's Journal
PatrickforB's Journal
March 2, 2020

Hello! You know, I've thought about that.

First, I stand corrected on the Kaiser Foundation. You were right and I was wrong. As to what is below, I wanted to give you a thoughtful answer to your statement about me leaving out millionaires in my little diatribe.

When you study economics, or at least when I did, I kind of had a crisis of conscience about capitalism as a system.

But capitalism, like socialism, is a term that is a bit foggy for most people.

I believe the one thing that could solve a whole plethora of problems right away is to force changes in corporate charters so the fiduciary responsibility of corporate officers expands beyond mere shareholder earnings, which is what we have now, to more of a stakeholder approach.

That was our mistake - we allowed this imbalance in the first place. Because if you're the CEO of a publicly held company, and you are a true believer in shareholder primacy, you will be relentless. You will do anything you can get away with to increase earnings - bust the union, drive the wages down, cheapen the benefits, pass more of their costs to workers, compromise on safe working environments, and even gobble up pension funds if you can swing it.

As to the consumers of your product, you want to make them pay as much as the market will bear for as little as possible. To this end you will substitute unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones, decrease the size of the container and charge the same or even claim the product is improved and so raise the price. The Brits call the latter 'shrinkflation.'

And, if you discover that your product is somehow unsafe, you will consult with your management and legal teams to ascertain if it will be less costly to merely pay claims to the people who get injured, or if you should do a recall, which is quite costly. But, you see, the unsafe product happened because of your dilution of the product's quality in the above paragraph.

Lastly, you will foul the environment any time you can get away with it. If you, for example, release fly ash by night, or pump sludge into a river, or illegally dump toxic waste, and aren't forced by government to clean it up, then you can consider that an 'externality' in your 10K report. All is good. Think about the nuclear waste dumped off the coast of Somalia as soon as that poor country didn't have a functioning government. Now those people HAVE to be pirates because all the fish that used to sustain them are gone from their coastal waters.

And the waste. Paper plates. Plastic everything. A disposable society.

This is what capitalism does, but if we expanded fiduciary responsibility of corporate officers around workers, consumers, the environment, and shareholders, then we'd solve a lot of problems. But we'd have to have a strong regulatory presence in governments worldwide, and would have to negotiate international agreements around these things. That concept takes fair trade into account as well.

So now, (at least in my own mind we have established that the doctrine of shareholder primacy is neither efficient nor moral, we can look at your statement on millionaires.

We can blame the Chicago School of Economics for much of the current thinking about shareholder primacy, and also for the 'trickle-down' or supply-side economics model. They are the ones who, in part, came up with 'supply-side' economics, the idea that you can cut taxes, which will stimulate job creation and actually bring in more revenue due to the increased worker earnings.

Well, that isn't true. Funny, on Maher I saw Steve Bannon put out that talking point yet again. But it is the big lie. It has never worked, really, does not work now, and will likely never work. And, as a corollary, it transfers more wealth into the hands of fewer people.

Shareholder primacy is bad enough. But with the 4th industrial revolution which is currently in motion, we have the information industry groups growing exponentially. Think about those kitchen table stories about Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Paul Allen and the rest of the tech billionaires. Romantic, right. Sitting in their garages or basements and inventing ways to massively increase productivity. The world runs on Microsoft. They have something like an 85% market share.

And the way they've set it up to maximize profit also maximizes waste. This waste takes centuries to biodegrade, and much if it can also be toxic. Consider Guiyu, China, where all the old monitors and other parts go to die. China's not taking them any more, but google pictures of that place.

So, does Bill Gates deserve to be a BILLIONAIRE? Does Zuck, or Bezos, or Allen or Adelsen? Do the Mercers?

I mean, I live OK in the sense that I have enough. My family has enough. We struggle sometimes, but we do OK. And like you, I work hard. Every day. But I can't even get my head around what it would be like to be a billionaire. Seems like a lot more to worry about to me. And how would I ever use it? What will it do? Sit around and grow? That's the capitalist mantra. The purpose of wealth is to create more wealth.

Hence my thoughts on billionaires. I've often written on here that I believe they are parasites. They only need two or three suits, just like me. They only need to eat as much as me, and so on. And their money just sits there. In fact, they have salted away over $22 trillion in offshore tax havens as we speak.

Every tax cut, every effort to deregulate or privatize, helps these people take just a little bit more wealth out of circulation, while the rest of us fight over an ever smaller pie.

So, yeah, I believe in a confiscatory tax system that would make billionaires into millionaires, and redistribute wealth to help pay for things that all of us need, that would make our lives materially better. Like health care. Like a postsecondary education system that actually invests in our children and grandchildren (I have three) instead of victimizing them with predatory loans. Et cetera.

As to millionaires, let's be realistic. If you have good ideas, start a company and get to be a millionaire, that's GREAT! I rejoice in your success. I do. In fact, I can use you as a role model, and work as hard as you do, save my money, and so on. I can get ahead, put my hands on that good old American dream!

Anyway, if you look at increased life expectancy, a man will live (on average) to around 79 or 80, and women to 82 or 84. If your retire at 65 or 66 years of age (because you've worked for fifty years or so by this time and you're TIRED of it and want to just spend time with your grand kids, your spouse and your children, maybe putter around, do some writing...), you are gonna get a whopping $2,300 a month from Social Security, but that is TAXED, thanks to Republicans, and you have to pay a premium on Medicare and if you're lucky get supplemental insurance so you can actually afford insulin or whatever other drugs you need to make your life a bit more comfy.

So, bottom line, you'd better have a couple million saved up in a pension account, because you will need it to maintain a decent lifestyle until you go. Anyway, what? One in three of us will end up in a nursing home, and that's about $6 large a month, so you'll blow through those assets at the end anyway and leave this earth naked and broke just like you were when you came here out of your mom's womb.

There it is. No objection to millionaires, but we don't need the billionaires. They are parasites no matter how much value their companies have created - they themselves do not need to hoard that kind of wealth.

If you made it to the end of this, please accept my good wishes. I like the people here on DU.

March 1, 2020

Pence says there could be more deaths due to the coronavirus

Source: CNN

Pence said federal officials are addressing the lack of testing kits in the US.

“It’s a very fair question. And it’s one of the first issues governors I spoke to raised with me. I’m happy to report that this weekend more than 15,000 testing kits have been released. Also the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved a testing regimen that state and local officials can be using. And beyond that we actually are working with a commercial provider with new testing framework to send another 50,000 kits out," Pence said.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-03-01-20-intl-hnk/index.html

Think about that for a minute. A whopping 15,000 testing kits, with another 50,000 promised at some unspecified time in the future.

For a country with 325 million people.

Talk about a WOEFULLY inadequate response.
February 4, 2020

Well, I tell people to make sure they are checking the status of their voter registrations.

Last thing you want is to find out you cannot vote because of some political shenanigan.

So, I went into my state's database and looked myself up.

I've been a registered Democrat since 1990.

Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but...

(pat, pat, pat)

...do check the status of your own registration at some point soon.

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About PatrickforB

Counselor, economist and public servant.

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