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PatrickforB's Journal
PatrickforB's Journal
March 26, 2022

This is a really good thoughtful post, and I have something personal to support your point.

Again, on a strictly personal note, there have been several times in my own life where events have forced me to a realization of how wrong I had been. I have heard this kind of thing be called an 'epiphany,' and so suppose I can call it that since the word is defined as a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, or an intuitive grasp of reality, where different pieces of the puzzle fall into place and suddenly you realize the enormity of something.

In the way back when, I was in my twenties during the 1980s, and was a 'Reagan Republican.' I was this because my grandma Max was, and shared screed after screed with me - long tracts in small font designed to gin up fear of the old Soviet Union - the 'commies.' This made me a truly obnoxious college student. I can remember being a horrible thorn in the side of the professor teaching a class called Social Change.

He taught the class from a Marxist perspective, which drove me bananas, and forced me to write my semester paper using a Marxist perspective. Of course, I bent over backwards putting qualifying language in it, because I didn't want anyone to think I was a 'commie' for goodness sake!

When I look back on my behavior in that class, I am truly ashamed because I was an awful bully during class discussions, and it was the very first class this professor had taught, and I drew him into a proverbial pissing contest. Horrible experience, I'm sure, for the rest of the students in the class, and all because of me. I suspect I ruined the class for everyone. Sigh.

Later on, as time passed, I learned things. I was exposed to different ideas by people I respected, and darned if I did not keep remembering things people had said in the class referenced above, things the professor had said, things his guest speakers had said. Since I am a curious individual and a voracious reader, I compiled a list of authors I wanted to read, beginning with the Communist Manifesto. You know, the USSR and Maoist China never reflected what Marx actually said. I ended up doing additional massive research in economics - looking at books on money supply and central banking, and on the doctrine of shareholder primacy - what capitalism really means.

And, of course, Noam Chomsky - I found him difficult reading. I liked Howard Zinn much better, and his book, "A People's History of the United States," literally blew me away. I learned about oligarchs, wedges, manufactured consent, and then read Klein and learned about shock and awe capitalism. We saw that applied here by Brownie in the aftermath of Katrina. The Bushies allowed private sector companies to maximize profits at the expense of the people who had lost everything in the hurricane.

Somewhere along the line I had the epiphany and became the fervent Democrat I am now.

I share this painful memory because I am human. I was wrong, and when I felt the full weight of my former zealotry, I was ashamed. Big time.

For this reason, I cannot support the assertion by many that no Republicans have any sense of shame. All human beings have a sense of shame. Oh, I don't hold out any hope for dirt-bags like Hawley, Cruz, little Marco, Bats**t Boebert, Marjorie 'Traitor' Greene, McCarthy, Cotton, Gohmert and the rest. They are useful idiots that are towing the line for the billionaire parasites, the oligarchs that have so corrupted our Republic.

But - I am an economist, and interact regularly with people in both parties - local elected officials, economic developers, chamber executives, businesspeople, postsecondary educators, and leaders in other community based organizations. Some, I suppose, are sociopaths. In fact a couple of them are, for sure. But not all, by a long shot. Most are basically decent, and DO have a sense of shame.

The problem is they get their 'news' from biased sources such as Fox and talk radio, because Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine way back in 1987, and we have seen the growth of what Rachel Maddow calls the Right Wing Noise Machine. That is truth, and Trumpy took that to a whole new level, and now we have the Kluxers, Nazis, crazy-right Evangelicals and other tin-foil types crawling out from under slimy rocks everywhere.

This is why I harp on forcing changes to corporate charters to get rid of shareholder primacy. On identifying the government's role as providing services where the profit motive is in direct conflict with the interests of the people receiving the service - like healthcare. On why we should consider eliminating the Fed and having the US Government take over central banking. On why we need to beef up voting rights by passing that John Lewis Act. And so on.

Policies affect us, you know. And some of the policies put in place around taxation, courtesy of Reagan and the supply-side people at the Chicago School, have really, really hurt the Republic. They have.

Anyway, I am human. I was wrong. I have a sense of shame. I was ashamed. I changed.

So can nearly every other human being. But it is hard. When you believe something fervently and are confronted with facts to the contrary, it causes massive discomfort.

If we are to save this Republic, we must, it seems, change our minds as a people.

Sorry for the long post. If you have read this far, why, you get a nice gold star!

March 17, 2022

War is stupid, and Putin is in fact a war criminal. But how does the military industrial complex

feel about it all?

Well, I'll tell you.

If we want the world peace Zelinsky spoke of yesterday morning, then we need to force changes in corporate charters away from shareholder primacy to a stakeholder approach. For those of you who have read my little soapbox on this before, bear with me.

In 1919, the Dodge Brothers, who were shareholders in Ford Motor Company sued Henry Ford on the basis that raising the wages of his factory workers to the point where they could afford to buy the cars they produced deprived them of profits to which they were 'entitled' as shareholders. They WON that suit in a Michigan Supreme Court ruling and the doctrine of Shareholder Primacy was born.

It has hardened since then, to the point where 'the market' rewards CEOS who engage in sociopathic behavior. We often get called 'snowflakes' when we say our system holds profits over people, but this is a true statement. Profit is king, and people are nothing. Every. Single. Time.

Think - if you are CEO of a publicly held company, the first thing you're going to do is bust the union. Then, you will drive wages and benefits down, and steal the pension fund if you can. You will compromise on worker safety and cut costs at the expense of good working conditions.

You will downsize the packaging of your products and charge the same amount. If people are hurt by your product sometimes, you will decide, based on shareholder profits, if it is more 'cost effective' to just pay the claims of the people who are maimed or killed from your product, versus recalling the product and fixing the problem. Seriously. Most of you can cite at least several examples of this behavior off the top of your heads.

And the environment? LOL. You will foul it whenever you can get away with it, and if you get caught, or screw up in some other way, you will run to the 'gummint' for a bailout at the expense of taxpayers, but you'll pocket any and all profits. You won't pay any taxes, either, if you can find loopholes. Corporations only pay in 6.8% of the government's tax revenue, while individual taxpayers foot 86% of the bill. This is how you want it.

Finally, you will fund campaigns for as many Republican legislators as you can, because what could be a better investment in keeping this policy just the way you like it? You will also 'earn' millions per year because of a tax loophole that allows corporations to deduct much of your 'compensation.'


And until we force changes to corporate charters to a stakeholder approach that holds workers, consumers and the environment on an equal footing with shareholders, we will continue to have the problems we do. And the corruption we have.

I know this is an esoteric point, or so you may think. You may believe the average 'Murikan cannot understand such a complicated thing, and that's just what the oligarchs want you to continue thinking.

I say this because we have a military industrial complex (MIC) that is driven VERY MUCH by shareholder profits, with patriotism a distant second place. This MIC will NEVER, EVER allow the UN to have the power it should have, or allow Zelinsky's world peace organization to form. It would, after all, be BAD for PROFITS.

March 10, 2022

Biden should not be blamed for higher gas prices. It is an error to conflate Biden's policies

on Russian oil with the rise in prices at the pump and here's why:

I'd like to respectfully remind everyone that profits are up generally in the oil industry, and that they are using the war as an excuse to gouge us at the pump because they can - they are driven by the doctrine of shareholder primacy - profits over people, rather than by any patriotism or even decency.

To put the ban in perspective, the US imported around 700,000 barrels a day from Russia. In 2021, the United States consumed an average of about 19.78 million barrels of petroleum per day. So we imported around 3.5% of our oil from Russia.

According to the US Department of Energy, in 2021, the United States imported about 8.47 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum from 73 countries. Petroleum includes crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs), refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels. Crude oil imports of about 6.11 million b/d accounted for about 72% of U.S. total gross petroleum imports in 2021, and non-crude oil petroleum accounted for about 28% of U.S. total gross petroleum imports.

In 2021, the United States exported about 8.63 million b/d of petroleum to 176 countries and 4 U.S. territories. Crude oil exports of about 2.98 million b/d accounted for 35% of total U.S. gross petroleum exports in 2021. The resulting total net petroleum imports (imports minus exports) were about -0.16 million b/d in 2021, which means that the United States was a net petroleum exporter of 0.16 million b/d in 2021.

The top five source countries of U.S. gross petroleum imports in 2021 were Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Colombia.

Here's who we export oil to:
The top five destination countries of U.S. total petroleum exports by export volume and percentage share of U.S. total petroleum exports in 2021 were:

Mexico—1.16 million b/d—13%
Canada—0.84 million b/d—10%
India—0.62 million b/d—7%
China—0.59 million b/d—7%
South Korea—0.56 million b/d—6%

Now here's the thing I cannot stress enough: The oil companies are governed by the doctrine that shareholder profits are king, and must be held above the interests of workers, consumers and even the environment. Period. They are out for profits. There is absolutely no patriotism there.

So for anyone to say that Biden's policies have driven prices up at the pump is a gross error. The market is far too complicated for such a statement to be true. This really is a price gouge. Nothing more. It is just sick that the media will for the most part conflate Biden's policies with price rises at the pump. Gas has been going up for months and has contributed a lot to the high inflation we're already seeing.

Fortune reports that Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, and Total have all returned to profitability in this year's fourth-quarter earnings—in fact, reporting the biggest profits they've seen in eight years.

Here's a nice link to an editorial from Earth Justice that tells you that the oil companies already have a bunch of unused leases (because drilling costs money) on federal land. They are only trying to get the government to use our tax dollars to help fund them. It's the capitalist way - pocket profits and pass all the costs you can on to taxpayers. Corporate socialism at its best: https://earthjustice.org/from-the-experts/2022-march/the-oil-industrys-dishonest-effort-to-wring-profits-from-pain.

March 8, 2022

Fighting Disinformation Can Feel Like a Lost Cause. It Isn't.


This is a really provocative editorial. Worth the read. Here is a quick excerpt:

Over the past five years, Finland has become one of the world’s leaders in disinformation education. High school students there are given a series of political topics and asked to compile lists of stories and commentary from across the internet. They’re then tasked with investigating the veracity of claims. In some schools, even elementary school students are given a “tool kit” that provides them with ways to spot dubious information online.

When I read this, I thought, "What a great idea! We should do that here in the US."

But we don't. The article continues:

In my last newsletter about disinformation, I wrote about a study by the Stanford History Education Group that showed that American high school students were failing basic media literacy and disinformation-spotting tests. Today, I want to dive a bit deeper into the results, which were largely divided by class and race.

So there you have it.

As always, one must ask the pointed queston cui bono? Who benefits from keeping us in ignorance?

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About PatrickforB

Counselor, economist and public servant.

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