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Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Bastards Keep Winning- The Sunday Collage

Oh how I used to love St. Patrick's Day. It's like Fat Tuesday- Butte, Montana style.

On March 17 of each year, the town of Butte is transformed into a sea of drunken debauchery. It has been that way my entire life and this weekend will be no different. Butte owes it's St. Patrick's Day revelry and roots to the mining industry and it's copper kings. Most notably Marcus Daly- the copper king who for decades hired the Irish and killed the Irish in some of the most unsafe working conditions ever conceived. Amidst all of that working and dying, the Irish found time to drink. They always found time to drink. In Butte, the bars just like the mines, stayed open every hour of the day and night.

History is not always kind to the good men nor do the willfully arrogant always get what they sow.

When you are paying people 3 dollars a day and you have an unlimited amount of workers, in some cavalier and sociopathic sort of way, people (particularly immigrants) become disposable. This was not lost on those immigrant miners working twelve hour days, six days a week, and watching as their friends died of black lung and their widows went without. This tends to anger any man and it certainly had a cumulative effect on Butte's miners. Eventually the "copper kings" sold out and died off and the Anaconda Company was born. By the time WWI and 1917 rolled around, while the Anaconda elite made millions- they had also proposed a pay cut for the miners just as copper prices soared. That level of "in your face greed" lit a fuse. The company (I never heard it referred to in any other fashion) used people in the same disposable ways that it's predecessors had with an added pinch of ruthlessness. In fact, the Anaconda Company might have been the most lawless, criminal enterprise of it's kind.

It all came to a head in the summer of 1917. There is a fantastic book (rated 4.8 stars out of 5) about Butte and that disaster.

Butte became the "Gibralter of Unionism." You probably owe what work benefits you still cling to- in some measure- to the efforts of a bunch of immigrant miners and their unions. Once unions were embraced- the bar was raised for corporations with competing interests. They had to get competitive or lose workers. Workers began receiving benefits, defined work and vacation hours, safety measures, overtime pay.

In Butte for many years, the Anaconda Company employed "rustling cards." These cards were used to identify and blacklist miners. They were a dossier on potential employees and they were hated. I have actually seen a few of these cards. Perhaps they were the predecessor to today's references and job history.

In many respects, the working world really hasn't changed all that much. A few things have changed. Government is by far the largest employer now. Human resources, litigation and law have taken over where most unions left off. We have taken credentialing to ridiculous heights. The government, bankers, and universities routinely exploit students seeking the means and the education to increase their lot in life. Companies skim the best and the brightest  students and demand steadfast loyalty. They want obedient slaves- not independent thinkers. In time, corporations will eventually reduce every fringe benefit that they can in order to enlarge margins.  They can't really kill you anymore. They just dump you onto the government unemployment dole. Or offshore your job to one of 2 billion Chinese workers willing to work for one dollar an hour.

It's always been about greed and money. Always. It was that way in 1917 and it is still that way in 2013. The bastards just keep winning.

So who are these elite bastards?

The bastards are a class of people who understand how to exploit labor. They pay people just as cheaply as they can while reaping enormous profits for themselves. They are never concerned with anyone other than themselves really- although they will pretend to care about workers because civility and propriety demand it and they must continually recruit and attract new workers as they dispose of old ones. Having garnered huge fortunes- they occasionally fling a few crusts of bread to some charity here or there. They use charities to enshrine themselves. Buildings are built for them, often christened with their name. They claim to be great humanitarians but that's not who they are. They are simply people who happened upon a great opportunity and seized it. They then extract the maximum amount of wealth that they can- any way that they can. They always have a few key people who surround them and facilitate their wealth gathering. Those people are handsomely rewarded and often act as professional cheerleaders and ego guards. They deflect any criticism.

I have always known this. It was a gift bestowed upon me by the son of miners in 1971. It was by far and to this day, the most important lesson I have ever learned.

Many folks don't know that the the copper industry, the Anaconda Company and their owner/ manipulators, played a huge role in fleecing America just prior to, and perhaps actually caused, the great depression. From Wiki:

Great speculation

In 1928 Ryan and Percy Rockefeller aggressively speculated on Anaconda shares, causing them to go up at first (when they sold) and then to go down (when they buy them back). Known today as a "pump and dump", at the time it was not illegal, and was actually quite common. The prices, under the pressure of a "joint account" set up by Ryan and Rockefeller of nearly a million and a half shares of Anaconda Copper Company, fluctuated from $40 in December, 1928 to $128 in March 1929.
Smaller investors were completely wiped out. The results are still considered one of the great fleecings in Wall Street history. The American Senate hearings concluded that those operations cost the public, at the very least, $150 million. A 1933 Senate banking committee called these operations the greatest frauds in American banking history and a leading cause of the 1930s depression.[citation needed]

[edit]Great Depression

In 1929 Anaconda Copper Mining Co. issued new stock and used some of the money to buy shares of speculative companies. When the market crashed on Oct. 29, 1929, Anaconda suffered serious financial setbacks. Moreover, at the same time, copper prices started going down dramatically. During the winter of 1932-33 copper prices had dropped to $0.103 per kg, down from an average of $0.295 per kg only two years earlier.
The Great Depression took its toll with massive unemployment in both the United States and Chile (up to 66 percent unemployment rate in the Chilean mines). On March 26, 1931, Anaconda cut its dividend rate 40%. John D. Ryan died in 1933 and was buried in a copper coffin. His mighty Anaconda shares, once worth $175 each, had dropped to $4 at the bottom of the Great Depression. Cornelius Kelley became the Chairman in 1940.

Cornelius Kelley, or "Mr. Anaconda" was no saint. But that biography will have to wait for another time.

Is there an alternative to the greed based, capitalistic working model that enslaves most of us? Yes Virginia my dear, I believe there is.

Years ago, I stumbled onto an extraordinary business model. It was a model wherein the owner/operator of a company paid himself the exact same salary as his 6 other workers. All of their salaries were based on their mutual success and they were all paid exactly the same amount and they worked similar hours. Each had a specific job to do- and they all agreed upon this socialized business model. Because nobody was taking a lion's share of the profits- all of them made very good money. I would dearly love to find that company and find out if the business model went well or if not, how it failed. I remember thinking at the time that I stumbled onto it- that someone had finally found a way to succeed without exploiting others. Here's the socialist business model that operates in much the same way as the business I just described.

Today in Butte, a bunch of drunken lunatics will take to the streets in uptown Butte. They will drink green beer, listen to the bands play, watch the kids try to grab a greased pig. Many do not know or perhaps care, that they are dancing amidst the history of this country. This is where the elite and the uneducated working stiffs squared off for a brief moment in time in the 1910's. A lot of people were killed in uptown Butte and they are mostly forgotten now. Heroes don't always triumph. The sons of miners taught me that when the good guys lose...

... often, the bastards just keep winning.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Escape and Subsequent Round Up Of The Sheep

Of all of the stupid things we do, changing our clocks each spring and fall, has to rank near the top. The anarchists of Arizona don't recognize the spring forward, fall back national stupidity that occurs twice a year at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

In fact, Arizona seems to do just fine without that bi-annual disruption. Odd.

The question I have isn't whether or not the time change is useful- clearly it is not. The real fun occurs when we ask ourselves, "How do we get rid of it?"

Society clings to useless ideas- ideas that have lost their utility or didn't really have any utility to begin with. Nobody wants to say, "that whole time change thing was bullshit." Because if we do that, somebody's feelings might get hurt. Or we might have to actually admit we were idiots for trying it in the first place. So instead, 300 million of us- minus those heartless heathens in Arizona- dutifully disrupt our lives because we are sheep. That's what sheep do. We can't even get rid of some make believe energy saving practice that hasn't saved any energy at all. This has been going on for 40 years. Some dip shit named Hudson started all of this, thus I blame him and in all fairness- back in the 1800's it might have been useful. Now rather than argue about it anymore- we just do the sheep thing twice a year.

So probably, we will never get rid of this piece of national insanity despite Arizona's trailblazing. The point of this blog will have you scratching your head, I hope, when I beam down the real reason I showcase this sheep-like behavior.

As a nation, we are absolutely outstanding when it comes to implementing ideas. We are true professionals. We will try any lame brained shit based on an outlier, a glimmer of potential success. But where this nation really falls flat on it's face, where we really suck- is our inability to measure the success of something and get rid of it... if it doesn't work. We never make plans to measure the success of a new program or law and if it's not working- have some plan in place to get rid of it. Definable and measurable results. Did the plan achieve measurable results? What a novel idea!

More often than not- our shitty ideas languish like antiquated liquor laws- forever wasting time, taking up space, and irritating folks who are forced to comply with some foolishness generated in the 30's.

Sometimes, bad ideas just make me feel stupid. Near my house and less than a mile away, is a red light that should never have gone up in the first place. It just isn't needed. But rather than get rid of the light in this fully developed area with no potential for future growth- the light will undoubtedly remain in place for eternity. I feel stupid when I am stopped at this light with absolutely no traffic for miles. It is on a two minute timer. I am on a 30 second timer. Sometimes I look both ways and then I run it.

I cannot tell you the amount of joy and exhilaration I get when I run this thing. I do not feel shame or remorse. It is my middle finger to a world where everything must be regulated and where nobody ever questions the need or usefulness of some government intrusion that has no utility or purpose other than it's mere existence.

In 2008, while the world was collapsing and hemorrhaging jobs left and right, it was my contention that  healthy people who had lost jobs would simply drop their health coverage. It was too expensive. The first people to get cut or laid off were always the most junior. The younger, healthier people. So as the healthy people did in fact that very thing- opt out of health care coverage- the old and unhealthy felt the pain. They could not opt out. The insurers, with their shrinking pools of healthy people and thus shrinking pools of available dollars, ratcheted premiums through the roof. This brought health care costs to absolute stratospheric heights as the greed of insurers, malpractice lawyers, administrators, fraud, government waste, patent protection and drug and device company gouging- were all put on full display.

The only way to recapture those healthy minions and their money- was to pass a law which forces the healthy all back in and then call it something else to really hide your true intentions. The affordable care act is bullshit and it most certainly is not affordable unless you live on the poverty line. Then it might be a good deal. More welfare.

Occam's razor. The simplest assumption is often the most accurate. Occam's razor (also written as Ockham's razorLatin lex parsimoniae) is a principle of parsimony, economy, or succinctness used in logic and problem-solving. It states that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. The healthy minions escaped and that was the collateral damage that occurred in 2008. The health care lobbyists and government want you back. They need your free and unencumbered money to redeploy to unhealthy people and keep their profits and margins intact.

It was always that simple.

The roundup begins later this year. Of course, people are absolutely going to shit bricks when they see just how bad all of this Obamacare really is. Expensive and terrible coverage. Most of us will just opt out and pay the penalty. The penalty is cheap the first year. It is only 95 dollars in 2014. Where else can you get less for more? That is real economy.

We are a long way from measuring the effects of Obamacare. Like daylight savings time and shitty stoplights- Obamacare might have been done with good intentions but the results will be disastrous.

Where did they screw up? Where they always screw up. They forgot to measure and address all of the failing components in the system. Outrageous litigation costs and awards, outrageous malpractice insurance costs. Ridiculous patent protection for drug makers and devices. Price gouging. Ballooning  administrative costs overpaid administrators. Fraud. Medicare and disability fraud. Non profit and tax exempt status.

They didn't lift one finger to fix our broken system. They don't care about fixing it. These aren't public servants- they are employees of the crony capitalists. Anything having to do with cost containment or regulation was simply ignored because those are the elite areas. Lawyers, lobbyists, big pharma, public companies, even bankers. Those people were left untouched because they write the re-election checks, they give the politicians' kids nice jobs.

Government doesn't care as long as they get the healthy minions and their money back.

And they will gouge and tweak Obamacare until such a point that we will all get tired and just "stfu." And it will be around forever. It will never be measured for effectiveness. Like daylight savings time or that light at Shoshone and Overland. It is here to stay.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Golden Blog Report- The Pointman

Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then and so I must confess. If I had any writing ability at all, I would want it to look like this.

Excellent. Free.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Adam Carolla's Epic Anti- Huffpo Media Rant- Not For Women, Children, Monks, or Mormons

I couldn't have said it better. Grab a beverage, you'll like this.

Judge Tells Bloomberg, Nah... You Don't Get To Run The World

Striking a blow against tyranny while acknowledging  "freedom" , a judge has struck down billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg's edict that people must quit drinking big soda pop.

This is the quintessential EGO- the one that tells us how stupid we all are- while he- King Bloomberg, occupies the vaunted and soda free high ground.

Gawd I hate tyrants. Now if only the Supreme Court had gotten rid of that POS Obamacare edict- I might actually have believed that we lived in a free country.

Huge POMO Month, Link to Sheep SmartAssery

Somewhere I bookmarked the POMO (permanent open market operations, aka FED counterfeiting) schedule for March. In a nutshell- anyone shorting the market this month is crazy. I remember that Mar. 15 is the juiciest day of the month...

With the Fed buying mortgages and treasuries hand over fist- 5 billion on Friday alone- you simply have to stand out of the way. The banks selling the FED these products are going to park that money in the market. The great tulip craze continues.

This is a market that you cannot go long on- you cannot short (right now) however, I am convinced the grand experiment is almost over. Bernanke's going to keep the accelerator mashed on the floorboard right up until his term expires Jan 31, 2014. By that time the full scope of Obamacare will be on display and there is not a doubt in my mind that Bernanke will get the fuck out of Dodge.

I continue to be in awe, daily, at the greatest zombie stock market ever created. With trillions of debt added, reduced corporate earnings which were earned and off shored, reduced wages and shitty jobs, rising inflation and taxes, some expensive Obamacare taxes with horrible coverage on it's way, and a media culture absolutely owned by the state- Ben Bernanke's thesis continues.

How would you like to be the poor sap that follows this shit up?  Not me. Forward to smartassery.

Here's the deal. You simply can't ignore the effects of FED intervention. They have taken an absolute dead patient (US economy) and injected epinephrine and defibrillated it with trillions upon trillions of anti-deflation dollars. (stimulus, gawd how I have grown to hate that term) How long can they continue to keep the patient alive?

Who knows? Just because the patient's heart is beating doesn't mean he is going to sit up and run a 5k.

Nobody really likes a smart ass. Especially a smart ass who thinks they are brilliant. They annoy those of us who really are brilliant.

Which brings me to the salient point. I simply can't deny the illusion of a healthy market that the Fed has created. The simpletons would like to forget the inconvenient fact- that this illusory and healthy market was created and manufactured with the aid of trillions of dollars in the form of QE 1,2,3, Operation Twist and Now QEternity at 85 billion a month. Trillions of debt which somebody is going to have to pay.

The smartasses always and very inconveniently forget to mention the brontosaurus in the room. It is simple. You ain't rich if you have two million and owe the IRS 6 million.

It's a funky delusion. The same one that is occurring daily in the U.S. as I write. However, right now the sheep are winning. The delusion is working up until some point at which somebody else will say- "I want my fucking 16.6 trillion or I am gonna double or triple the interest" which some will say is metaphor, others inevitable, as future generations are taught to hate us and rightfully so.

So as you gaze at this piece of smartassery, quite possibly written by the same authors as those who write at naked capitalism, note the absence of that most inconvenient of facts. That Hauser's Law states that you can't tax yourself to prosperity and you certainly can't do it beyond 19.5%-

All debts are paid, either by the lender or by the borrower. That includes that 16.6 trillion with a currently flat lined GDP.

Convince me oh great optimists how we are going to take care of that. How are we gonna pay that debt? If you can do that- I'll renounce my doomer status and extoll your brilliance.

I have 2000 years of recorded human history and tragedy on my side. Right now I am losing and the sheep are winning. But that will change. It always does. I can almost taste that Gyro sandwich now.

Here's the counter view to all that which I hold near and dear. Who says I don't play fair?