Tag Archives: Economics

Would Someone Just Shut The Pope Up?

Would Someone Just Shut That Pope Up?

Some on the political right are going absolutely nuts over Catholicism’s new pope, Pope Francis.

Rush Limbaugh has labeled him a Marxist and numerous rightwing conservatives want the pope to stick to moral and spiritual issues rather than discuss economic challenges of the common man, which he supposedly knows nothing about — it seems that the pope has limited infallibility powers, although Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was heavy on economics: not an economic prescription but clear recognition that there are those that have and do not work to benefit those with little, and those that are without much more than their soul through the length of their lives.

Pope Francis biography

Yet, not all American conservatives are going bonkers. The American Conservative just published a piece that takes a balanced look at what the pope has actually said and tried to consider his words in context, which is rare in almost any discussion of policy these days.

From the opening paragraphs of The American Conservative‘s story Would Someone Just Shut That Pope Up?

Since the release of Evangelii Gaudium there have been countless articles and commentary about the economic portions of Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation. Some of the commentary has been downright bizarre, such as Rush Limbaugh denouncing the Pope as a Marxist, or Stuart Varney accusing Francis of being a neo-socialist. American conservatives grumbled but dutifully denounced a distorting media when Pope Francis seemed to go wobbly on homosexuality, but his criticisms of capitalism have crossed the line, and we now see the Pope being criticized and even denounced from nearly every rightward-leaning media pulpit in the land.

Not far below the surface of many of these critiques one hears the following refrain: why can’t the Pope just go back to talking about abortion? Why can’t we return the good old days of Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI and talk 24/7/365 about sex? Why doesn’t Francis have the decency to limit himself to talking about Jesus and gays, while avoiding the rudeness of discussing economics in mixed company, an issue about which he has no expertise or competence?

Pope Francis has done much more than just talk, the pope has made some early substantial changes both in how the church interacts with people (moving homeless centers to where the homeless are) and in how the pope personally presents himself to the public (less bling, more humility, less judgement and more embracing of people as having challenges).

Reality is that Pope Francis is not trying to prescribe economic policies. He is acknowedging that our economic lives have gone a bit of whack. Those that have seem to have much more than they did just a few years ago, and those without seem to have less. This varies based upon locale. In many areas of the world where 25-50% of work-age adults have no jobs then the pope’s message is bound to ring true. Within the USA, with its widespread affluent society, the message will seem quixotic to many as we live life in our zoned affluent neighborhoods and do not have to live with those that fall from economic grace — because when they do they move out and disappear.

Below are some ways that Pope Francis is working to portray himself as a pope of the people:

1. Uses a wooden chair instead of a golden throne.
2. Does not wear the gold-embroidered red stole.
3. Wears his old black shoes instead of the classic Prada red slippers.
4. Wears a metal cross instead of the one with rubies and diamonds.
5. His papal ring is silver, not gold — and he reused a prior design. Tradition is that each pope have a unique design created for their reign.
6. Wears black pants under the cassock, same as he wore when a common priest.
7. Had the red carpet removed.

 

Pope Francis - how he is different

Pope Francis – how he is different in personal style from his predecessors.


Note: I am not a Roman Catholic. As a Unitarian we are taught to investigate and to honor the best of thought and philosophy offered by all of the world’s religious traditions and teaching. Pope Francis seems to be off to a good start on getting a conversation going about where our society is and where it is going. In my personal belief, all actions undertaken in our lives are economic actions no matter how trivial or whether an exchange of money is involved. Economics involves the making of moral decisions, whether that is our intent or not. I look forward to hearing more from Pope Francis. Actions are more important than words.

Bill Golden
aka Bill4DogCatcher

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On being ‘conservative’ in 2013 by Erick Erickson of RedState.com

On being ‘conservative’ in 2013 by Erick Erickson of RedState.com

Bill Golden, aka Bill4DogCatcher says: I often get called a ‘fake conservative’, a liberal claiming to be a conservative, or worse … Reality is that I believe that math has numbers which matter. Ideas should be open to criticism. And I believe that American conservatives themselves are largely responsible for President Obama being president for two terms … and I believe that conservative economics make no more sense than liberal economics. The numbers just don’t tally up and balance out.

Because I refuse to follow the talking points for being conservative it must be that I am not one. It can be lonely being a conservative that believes ‘maybe there are no best answers’ and ‘let’s experiment’.

My loneliness has at least one new voice added to it. One of the most popular conservative blogs, RedState.com, is also now taking fellow conservatives to task.

Erick Erickson of RedState.com:

What I am finding is that among conservatives there is too much outrage, piss, and vinegar. It makes our ideas less effective. We have become humorless, angry opponents of the President instead of happy warriors selling better ideas. We are not even selling ideas.

Conservatives, frankly, have become purveyors of outrage instead of preachers for a cause. Instead of showing how increasing government harms people, how free markets help people, and how conservative policies benefit all Americans, we scream “Benghazi” and “Fast & Furious.”

We’re off key and off message. We’ve become professional victims dialed up to 10 on the outrage meter.

You can read all of Erick’s comments at http://www.redstate.com/2013/01/20/the-loyal-opposition/

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Barack Obama – ‘the worst president in history’ – koolaid and destiny

Over and over the faithful repeat the mantra that President Barack Obama is the worst president in history, and the second coming of Jimmy Carter.

Keep drinking the koolaid: The GOP is doing itself longterm damage if it keeps up the mantra that President Obama is the worst president in history. That constant repetition would seem to absolve the GOP of coming up with ideas and having to appeal to people with real alternatives.

Repeatedly saying the worst president in history just means that the rest of America is comprised of idiots if they somehow don’t see it that way. Some of those idiots vote.

Bad news: when it comes to Obama being the worst president in history the rest of America doesn’t see it that way. Not the great majority nor a simple majority see it that way.

Surveys show that fewer than half of Americans blame Obama for today’s economic situation. Two-thirds still blame the Bush Administration — you can’t get to 2/3rds unless a sizeable number of Republicans also believe the same way … and they do.

Surveys show that independents such as myself would like to vote for a conservative candidate … but we aren’t buying the worst president in history mantra. Mitt Romney responded recently to complaints that he wasn’t bashing Obama enough — Romney noted that his own focus groups just didn’t buy in to the storyline of the worst president in history.

Yes, Obama made some promises that he couldn’t keep. As a conservative independent (a real one, not one that votes straight GOP and then claims to be independent), I’m disappointed in a lot of things as regards the Obama Administration. However, I also don’t believe that the GOP has acted in good faith over the last four years. The GOP has shown neither the ideas nor the maturity of real remorse to claim that it can do better than Obama.

I voted GOP and for John McCain in 2008. In 2012 I lean towards Libertarian Gary Johnson but will vote for Obama if it appears that Virginia is on the edge of tipping to Mitt Romney, which at this time it is not.

Yes, I want the GOP to lose. A big loss would be great. Super. I would like the GOP to have a come-to-Jesus moment where it really reflects on how we and it got here.

As a stalwart GOP member from 1980-2009 it hurts me to say that I would like the GOP to go down in defeat in 2012 — but it is also the truth.

For the GOP, the last four years have been all about ‘taking our country back’ … back to what? … and to when? … Occasionally the words get mumbled ‘We could have done better …’. Those few perfunctory words are neither sincere nor followed by examinable public policy that shows the GOP means action, real reform, and not just more empty words that can’t pass a Math 101 review.

President Barack Obama is not the worst president in history.

Chances are good that history will record Obama as a president with a difficult economy that includes an aging population and a revolution in business productivity plus massive outsourcing plus two wars on his hands. History will also record that anything that Obama achieved was done with one of the most intransigent oppositions ever in American history by a Congress that was at a low of 19% approval rating — and has since fallen to barely a 10% approval level lead by folks that want to take us back and to tell us that President Barack Obama is the worst president in history, and the second coming of Jimmy Carter.

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21 Major International Economic Systems (Humor … for some of you)

My son’s economics teachers posted this list defining the 21 economic models of the world. Enjoy.

The list starts out much like it has for the last 40 or 50 years … and then gets interesting.

SOCIALISM

You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbour.

COMMUNISM

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

FASCISM

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

NAZISM

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

BUREAUCRATIC

You have 2 cows..
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away…

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM
You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

SURREALISM

You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

AN INVESTMENT BANK

You have two cows.

You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.

The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.

You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys your bull.

A FRENCH CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called ‘Cowkimon’ and market it worldwide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.
You engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You decide to have lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION

You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION

You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows. You worship them.

A BRITISH CORPORATION

You have two cows. Both are mad.

AN IRAQI CORPORATION

Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none..
No-one believes you, so they bomb the sh*t out of you and invade your country.
You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a Democracy.

NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION

You have two cows.
The one on the left looks very attractive.

AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go to a bar to celebrate.

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Change before you have to. Oops, too late! 2017 cannot come too quickly.

“Change before you have to.”
– Jack Welch, CEO GE (Retired)

How Bill4DogCatcher.com sees the world:

I am not a dour pessimist. I am a pragmatic optimist — and this is about as optimistic as I can bring myself to be.

The economic pain of 2008-2011 will be looked upon one day with some sense of historical nostalgia.

It will be seen as the time of great change and the beginning of a very difficult period in American history. It will be both a tipping point and a turning point.

The challenges of 2008-2011 will be remembered as having far less turmoil and drama than will come within the next five years, 2012-2017.

And yet perhaps we didn’t need to be here at all. Now we find ourselves in 2011 living in the land of a Super Committee to negotiate our national budget woes, and having 18 competing Balanced Budget Amendments just two weeks prior to voting on having such an amendment proposed at all.

Not long ago, we were on the road to national financial solvency — just barely 10 years ago, in the late 1990s. Then we chose a different path.

So here we are at the end of 2011 and less unified than ever as our economic fuel tank sits on ‘E’. Although that is not necessarily so true; huge record setting profits have been recorded for the last five fiscal quarters despite those profits not being positively felt by the average American.

The answer to our economic issues will not be found on either the left or the right. We cannot tax the rich ever enough to pay for the black hole of expenses that we’ve run up and locked ourself into for the future.

The answer will come through a shared pain of experimentation and reflection. Americans will come to reject both the answers of the left and right, because neither have answers. Both are beholden to special interests that would only prolong our economic problems, while enriching their own supporters.

The answer will not come soon for the very reason that people want an answer ‘now’. The only answers available now are A) screw the poor/tax them more or B) screw the rich/tax them more. Neither are an answer.

So we will just have to survive the battle of left and right until we get past pride and ego. When enough of America moves to the middle only then will a grand compromise be found — after all, the very word ‘compromise’ is an impossible word to even consider using in public places these days without being set upon by ranting partisans.

Compromise will not come next year, or the year after, or the year after that. My bet is that a grand compromise will not arrive until possibly 2016 or 2017 — once American demographics have shifted and the complete folly of left and right has had a chance to run its course, several times over.

Grand Follies – we cannot continue to pretend that taxes are the ultimate evil. We cannot continue to embrace the empty promise of economic trickle down. Cut taxes and grow the economy is a broken promise too, at least where we are in time and place.

I believe in tiered flat taxes, but am not simple-minded enough to believe that everything would all just magically work if we just cut taxes and equitably taxed everyone at the same rate — which just ends up screwing the people that do the dirty, thankless jobs in our society — with them actually paying far more than anyone else as a percentage of their income. Yet, there is plenty of room for many Americans to have a little more stake in the game by seeing their taxes at work because they pay them.

Am not sure how it will all end up. Our history has had periods of higher turmoil in the past and somehow we’ve gotten ourselves to today still as one country. Yet I anticipate that the next five years will be among the ugliest in American history as left and right both battle for a vision that will not come to pass by either. We will make it all work out. It will be painful and traumatic, however. Very painful. Very traumatic.

Please fasten your seat belts as the fun is just about to really begin. Hello 2012!

I am not a dour pessimist. I am a pragmatic optimist — and this is about as optimistic as I can bring myself to be.

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How Bad Is The Economy? Some Indicators.

I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

CEOs are now playing miniature golf.

Exxon-Mobil had to lay-off twenty-five Congressmen.

I bought a toaster oven; and my free gift was a bank.

Angelina Jolie adopted a child *from America*.

Motel Six won’t leave the light on anymore.

A picture is now only worth 200 words.

They renamed Wall Street: “Wal-Mart Street.”

When Bill and Hillary travel together, they now have to share a room.

 

Thanks to Scott Compton for sharing this with me.

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National Debt / Deficit Meltdown — Maybe kicking the can down the road is the better path + an idea

The smell of financial meltdown is in the air.

We stand at the threshold of maxing out our national credit card and there is absolutely no plan that has been presented to the public that seems to really make economic sense — mostly because no one wants their sacred cows touched.

>> A tax deduction for the interest on your home is not much different than helping someone that lives in subsidized housing. Welfare is welfare.

I almost agree at this point that kicking the can down the road could be a desirable outcome.

My logic is that it really is too late now for there to be any comprehensive plan. A short term bandaid plan that drops the need for decision prior to the 2012 elections only serves political purposes, it doesn’t matter what party you support.

Kicking the can down the road has the beneficial effect of guaranteeing that bad things will happen to good people. Hopefully it will sober them up enough that they will empty their heads of all the partisan crap. Then perhaps they will try to think a bit more critically about the situation and to think a bit more objectively.

Whether Left or Right, reality is that neither side is anywhere near agreement — not even among themselves — as to what should be done.

Politics are just economics draped over other issues. It is always about power.

All or nothing works no better at one end of the fringe than the other.

If we respected the average taxpayer we would ask them to choose the plan that they believe we should pursue. Let’s hold six months of public debate, critiqued by both citizens and academics, and then let’s hold a referendum.

Let’s let Americans choose by line item vote in a referendum what goes and what stays or what changes.

If we truly believe in ‘We the People’ then let’s let Americans decide their future and their fate.

What say ye?

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