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jonathankaplan


Onward

...wherever you go, there you are...


opportunistic politic
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jonathankaplan
An American is taxed about 35% of their wage income (if they are in a high tax bracket). That American is taxed about 15% on their investment income (assuming the income is long term gains). So, why is it surprising that Romney, who has about 250 million in wealth, but has a wage income under one million, is paying net taxes of about 15%? Almost all of his income is from long term capital gains. The other (less wealthy) candidates pay higher net rates on income because they have less wealth, and their income comes much more from wages than investments.
Is the publicity about this the start of efforts to raise the capital gains tax or is it merely an obfuscation of a political nature to attack Romney?

hands out to your side, palms up.
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jonathankaplan
Everytime I go through a TSA checkpoint, I get patted down now. EVERY time. Admittedly, some of it is because I refuse to go through the "new" full body radiation machines (not the old ones, I'll walk through those), I mean the new ones that look like radiation closets. My body has had 3 lifetimes worth of radiation, I am sure. But even where they dont have those machines (yet), they give me a patdown. And interestingly, the other people I see waiting with me for a manual search are ALWAYS people who look...uh..."different" from W.A.S.P.s, unless they are clearly college age.
I think the government has decided to use more profiling at these checkpoints than they used to, following the Israeli example. The Israeli example works efficiently, but what is the social and cultural cost of doing it here? I know I feel somewhat offended, even though the TSA employees try to be as accomodating as they can be.
Still...

(As an aside, one of the machines had a sign on it saying, "This machine creates less radiation per use than you will receive from 2 seconds of time up in the airplane." Somehow, that is NOT reassuring on ANY level.)

the sun will come out tomorrow.
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jonathankaplan
Populism makes me nervous. I'm a nervous guy anyway, an ex-risk manager (a psyche one never manages to overcome, at least, not me, not yet), a conservative person with paranoid tendencies. Populism is, on one level, about the masses feeling discord with the system, and with the "elite" that succeed in that system.
In very recent times, there has been ever-increasing dissatisfaction with the system (in the US, at least). As an adjunct, two populist movements have sprung up, the Tea Party and OWS (Occupy Wall Street). Although these two groups come from different parts of the political spectrum, they have considerable similarity. The Tea Party thinks that the DC elite has corrupted the system and too greatly diluted the US Consitution and Bill of Rights. Even non-Republicans know that DC is corrupt, that money runs the system, that there is something wrong. The OWS group thinks that the Financial elite has corrupted the system and, through tricky machinations, has stolen a chunk of their wealth. They don't know HOW exactly, but they know it was done, cause they feel the pain. Even non-Dems feel the economic pain. Right now, the different leaders of these two groups are relatively unsophisticated and naive at using the popular emotion these groups symbolize. So far.
Arab Spring has some similarity with these concepts, and the various leaders of the successful movements, now that they have "won" power, are a little lost. This creates a power vacuum, and who knows exactly what future gets sucked into that void. The same has happened with the Tea Party and with OWS. Their leaders are not strong enough, not clever enough, to coalesce into a civil movement of change. If they can't do it, then the masses can easily transition to what the masses do best/worst, become a group of angry mobs. Perhaps OWS is a little behind the Tea Party in this rut, but they are catching on quickly, I see that Rev. Sharpton (and various labor unions) have been visiting some with the OWS....ugh. If when these movements, here in the US (and/or in the Arab Spring) are "taken over" by more powerful, charismatic leaders, we better hope those leaders are not as nefarious as they could be. If not, we could (in a bad scenario) end up with far less freedom, both political and economic, than we currently delude ourselves into thinking we have.
Populism is majoritarian. I am a very visible individual in an historically persecuted minority. The idea of mobs forming, then showing up outside my door banging loudly, makes me nervous. Do you think I should be anxious about this?

one way to save the economy, or at the least, the perception of it and the confidence in it.
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jonathankaplan
During/After the 1987 Stock Market crash, Ronald Reagan and company did (at least) one thing that totally saved the situation. He and his cronies got on the phone and talked, twisted arms, whatever, but they got american listed companies to start announcing buybacks of their own stock.
Today, a great many US companies are awash in cash, but won't invest it because of the uncertainty. So, the cash sits in T-Bills at banks. And the financial institutions are much much less likely to lend it to anyone, cause it might cause them to have to adjust their balance sheets and take writedowns. So, the money sits there.
If even a couple dozen companies that have high cash levels announced stock buybacks, the stock market would get the confidence it needs. Obama is, all things considered, a rather pro-business president. He and his group should be on the phone right now. Or maybe they are planning it all for closer to the end of this year, so the length of the rise stretches through the 2012 election.
My, how cynical I have gotten as the decades go by.

thoughts on the yellow metal
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jonathankaplan
The link below is an article from Forbes, printed in 1931 originally. It is long and dense, but it is very very informative of how currency worked when usage of the gold standard was much more common. If you want to know anything about the banking system (generally), this is an excellent read, and very thought provoking.

An interrelationship of gold and other currency, and a primer of banking in general.

diametrics
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jonathankaplan
in thinking about all the recent events politically in the US, in some sense, it comes down to two different themes. Centralism v. Federalism. ,Monetarists v. "Keynesians. So, on the second of those two themes, I was just curious where you all fall, simplistically.
Here's an easy poll.


Poll #1768958 Monetarism v. Keynesians.

are you a monetarist or a Keynesian?

Monetarist
7(50.0%)
Keynesian
4(28.6%)
In the Middling area
0(0.0%)
Don't Care
2(14.3%)
Don't Know
1(7.1%)


Comments appreciated.

sad clowns
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jonathankaplan
The debt ceiling "crisis" is a farce, created by DC Republicrats, and has almost no meaning at all but one. "They" knew this would happen, probably expected it to happen during the election year though, they planned it for a fight about taxes v. spending. Like, there is a fight there, we need to work on both. The only actual thing that might come from this is, these scum, used to grandiose lives, ego-driven, are risking the faith and credit of the US Government for their own gratifying aims.
The US currently benefits dramatically from the AAA rating given "our" debt. (The ignorance of the rating agencies are a different topic.) If we go into technical default, then they have threatened to lower our rating to AA+. This will raise interest rates for, not merely all US Government debt, but every debtor in the US. This means a great transfer of wealth from someone to someone, rest assured, you/we arent on the receiving end, except will get the proverbial stick.
I could solve this crisis with two strokes of a pen. The US Federal Reserve owns about 1.5 trillion dollars worth of US debt. Why? The US government's own central bank, during the recent stimulus, monetized some debt. Their ownership is irrelevant, we own the government, we own the central bank, if the Fed would just rip up those bonds, then "our" debt would go down by 1.5 trillion dollars. Why won't they do that, I wonder?
The Social Security fund, which is backed by the US government, owns over 1 Trillion dollars of US Debt. We are on the hook for their obligations regardless. Maybe SS stays the same, maybe it gets reformed, whatever, but the Social Security admin. could do the same thing, just rip up the bonds, voila, another 1 trillion in debt expunged.
Why don't the egomaniacs in DC not do either or both of these actions? You tell me.

a review of what looks like an interesting book.
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jonathankaplan
and a different perspective on some of the big financial "busts" of our time. Just reading the review might give enough sense of the perspective, but i'll get the book, i am sure.

a Krugman review, pushing his slant, but well written, as usual.

shake it up
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jonathankaplan
I like LulzSec. I can't help thinking of the movie War Games, tho.

the prejudice of this century
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jonathankaplan
Prejudice never really changes its face.
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