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jonathankaplan


Onward

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


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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?

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Huge difference between them, however, as the teaparty was created and financed by the billionaire Koch brothers, and the Occupiers are NOT. IOW, only one is authentically grass roots.


okay...the tea party has a lot of amorphous goals, it touches the minds of many with its "return to the original principles of the consitution" rhetoric, but would you say it already has its "nefarious" leaders in place?
I agree that a movement formed from the top (like the TP) rather than formed from the bottom (like OWS) will have plenty of different aspects from each other. Yet, even though the origin might be different, the TP is certainly now a populist movement within those starting limits, and the emotions and impact created now goes beyond anything the Koch brothers can marionette themselves, don't you think?
I appreciate your reply, even though it is increasing my apprehension on this topic. Thanks!

Well, I do spend a fair amount of time with the local Occupation, as it is quite close to where we live, and many of their marches go through my street, and end up in another of our area's parks.

However, I do not spend any time with teapartiers, nor would I be welcome there for many, many, many reasons. Which is another huge difference.

a bullet probably dodged.

In one specific sense, i am somewhat pleased that you would not be welcomed by the tea people ,(presumably, to name one factor, a few of your "social" beliefs probably would clash too strongly, ...just a guess?) Good, then. My strong(est) worry on this front is that someone very charismatic could manage to "use" the two groups simultaneously. That would be bad on too many levels.
The less likely that occurrence, the less worried i will be. Let the two groups work out their results separately, some positives might come from some of it. Put them together somehow and it turns into a potential mob machine.

thanks a lot for your reply, hope you are well.

as a postscript, I'll comment that, to me, both groups have racist implications in their gut. I hope that bile all stays there and doesnt vomit up. One of the good parts of the last 50 years has been the increasing demographic diversity in the US political, economic and social struces end up anti-diversity. hope that doesnt happen.

One more huge difference that's impossible not to see: the primary media and the cops treat the teabaggers very differently than they treat the Occupiers. Nor did the primary media demand the teabaggers come up right this minute with a detailed plan and fix it all right the minute after.

yes. and that is reprehensible, at best.
but as you point out, the tea people started from above, so it was more probable that reactions would play out that way.
but let me point out a silver lining. the US has a long history of the acceptability of non-violent (and some violent) civil protest and disobedience. the people wont allow it to get too far, hopefully. after all, people STILL remember the Kent State shootings, and that was a turning point that made the youth movement much more appreciated.
As long as the mighty HS doesnt accumulate too much power...

I'm not very confident that this is accurate in either direction.

I personally don't think there's anything to get apprehensive over -- from either side. I have seen or heard nothing that leads me to believe that the OWS movement will turn violent. And while I initially felt a great deal of concern about the Tea Party and its use of violent rhetoric, it's become clear that that movement isn't inclined to violence either.

thanks, Moose!
its always great to see you with a beer...even just that is some level of reassuring...smile....

Well, a senator did get shot, along with several others -- collateral damage -- in Arizona. Ooops, that was a merely a single mentally disturbed person.

Guns were brandished by other members last summer when Dems tried to have Town Halls, and so on and so forth.

Of course violence is used against the Occupiers, as here, and now, with how the mayor went after the ones in Oakland in the middle of the night while they were all sleeping -- with guns, helicopters, beatings, and other forms of violent destruction.

Why yes, HS scares me to death and it has from the moment the bushies bloated/floated it. I've never heard of a state agency named something like Homeland Security that wasn't used against the citizens rather than anything outside.

Love, C.

the foul and evil nature of Homeland Security deserves its own post. suffice to say i think we should eliminate the department immediately. that one department and its potential of pushing us into Fascist structures (and modes of thinking) is more dangerous than what it is purporting to protect by far, in my opinion.

My wife (who used to work in immigration law) and I literally cried the day that INS became part of homeland security.

The symbolism of treating foreigners who have come to our shores to join us as *primarily* a danger, rather than the huge bounty of creativity, labor, culture and strength that immigrants represent 99% of the time, is just crushing. For me, it was the last nail in the coffin of any hope I once had that we would respond in any way constructively to 9/11.

My take is we’re too comfortable for an Arab spring situation. Protestors with iphones and Aeropostale shirts aren’t going to overthrow the government if they even know what they're angry about. I think the Pee Party crowd mostly want attention, and to get baked. Many of these protestors have yet to work a day in their lives. They’ve been resource sinks for 25 years, and they’re mad at the system? Please. If they died today their tombstone would read "Contributed nothing."

They remind me of Rage Against the Machine. Multimillionaires from Orange county, employees of the billionaire Sony conglomerate, sitting poolside at the mansion writing songs about how unfair the system is, maaan. Die in a fire.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't worry.

there is much good thinking in your reply.
thanks a ton!

really? The description of the protests reads like a bunch of regurgitated right-wing and "serious centrist" tropes to me.

There are some pretty legitimate complaints:

1. the greater and greater tournamentization of the economy (nearly all the growth goes to a very small cadre of lucky (mostly also high skill) winners, while 80% of the population is actually losing ground).

2. The complete lack of government response to the economic collapse and the fact that we are still in a hole with huge unnecessary unemployment.

3. That those most responsible for the crisis have been largely bailed out (top execs/traders/marketers at investment banks), while everybody else gets a pile of rhetoric about how we have to tighten our belts, and maybe cut SS benefits, etc.

Of course, most of the people at the protests don't really have a good sense of the esoteric details of which policies have helped to get us here or what could be done about it. OTOH, many are talking about legitimate strategies.

I met somebody at Zuccotti park who was handing out flyers discussing about modern monetary theory, and the benefits of NGDP targeting or "helicopter drops." This might not do much about point 1, but could help immensely on point 2. I've also noticed that monetary strategies mostly limited to blog-discussions over the last couple years suddenly got recommended by some economists at Goldman Sachs and discussed all over the NYT and WP -- a few weeks after the protests started.

In the long run, yes. FedGov has assumed the role of protector and decider of all things. As long as they had lots of money they could buy people more than they coerced them. The fiat money fraud is unraveling which means more inflation. Inflation cannot disguise the reality of government payoffs becoming increasingly worthless. Since bribery is failing FedGov must resort more to direct violence which causes counter-violence and rioting. This is a necessary result of a deficit financed welfare/warfare state.
The global trade/banking system based significantly on USD means all countries are failing at about the same time. Rural areas of America which are well armed and ethnically homogeneous will be the safest places, even for ethnic minorities. Rural people hardly ever riot and there is less 'necessity' or scope for government to oppress armed rural people.

much of what i've written the last few years sounds a lot like that future. ugh.
but you are right about the rural people aspect, and its implications. there are amish farms all around here, for gosh sake, hard to see this area turning (as easily) into the apocalyptic hell that the Bronx (as example) could become. That is reassuring.
Thanks!

The rural areas tend to do very very well. It happened in Argentina. It happened in Germany. And I suspect it will happen here too.

Take heart, you might just be in the right place - at the right time :) It is what you're supposed to do as a trader, no?

I don't understand the current fear of hyperinflation. The amount of inflation required to control current debt is small. If the economy were returned to potential, we would be close to primary budget balance. If we paid the same amount for healthcare as the rest of the rich world, we'd have primary balance even today.

Where does the sense that we are doomed to hyperinflation come from? Except for automatic stabilizers that kicked in in the great recession, government is *shrinking* as a share of GDP.

The worry that I see, and that the markets see is that we are so irrationally afraid of inflation that we will refuse to pick up what look like trillion dollar bills on the sidewalk available in interest free funding of medium term infrastructure improvements, and further monetary easing.

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it


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