Good ol’ USA

Remember when: Companies paid a guaranteed 100% retirement? Or employees had the right to negotiate salaries? Remember unions? The economists say there is a shortage of workers. Bull chips – there is a shortage of salary and benefits. Here’s another one:

Data: Center for Economic and Policy Research. Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios

Ancient Mariner


With all the social confusion, with the growing menace of global warming, with all the corruptness in politics, a giant walks among us: Goliath, AKA super large monopolistic corporations.

It isn’t just the communication sector (Big Data) with Google, Meta, Apple, Microsoft and a large number of software companies providing cloud and internet services. It is also the retail sector with super conglomerates like Amazon, Walmart, Costco and Walgreen.

Endless examples abound: show business has Disney, butchering has Tyson and Hormel; news has CBS and NBC.

Anti-trust laws have not been properly enforced for decades. Corporations buy potential competitors when those companies still are small. Marketing companies do the same thing in different retail markets.

There are two things to be concerned about. The first has been obvious for many years: monopolization diminishes competition thereby controlling market prices and availability of alternatives.

The second is a new issue available since the internet was invented: government policy intervention. For example, does anyone know who will set health policy when Amazon owns one of the largest hospital corporations in the US? How about a wanky space engineer owning Twitter – one of the most used communication channels in the country. Who will set regulations? Zuckerberg already has proven that if a corporation is large enough, the government has a hard time getting its arms around it.

One could almost say “Huge monopolies are like city or county governments.” Counterarguments may claim that global supply chains require large monopolies; not true (what happened during the pandemic when too few manufacturers caused failure?) Another counterargument is the international nature of business today; not true (The EU has imposed $million+ fines for not complying with privacy and false information regulations and impeding free trade.)

Whenever the US government can get its act together, two things will make or break the nation: fix taxes and break up monopolies. It can be done. Remember Ma Bell and Standard Oil?

Ancient Mariner

Connect the dots

֎ Mariner was up early this morning. As usual, first get a coffee then turn on the computer. His standard procedure is to go to NOAA to check the weather, then to the blog, then open email.

Before mariner got past the weather check, Googlesyndication had made 138 attempts to enter his computer system. Fortunately, he has software that blocks this kind of silent intrusion.

֎ Mariner read the commentary of a Big Data executive who said, “Our future in the metaverse is to be a dot similar to the dots in a George Seurat painting.” The inherent value will not be in any one dot; one will have to step back to view the entire collection of dots.

Things like individualism, one person-one vote and personal choice in life no longer will exist. Instead, the entrapment of becoming a pink dot whether or not one prefers pink will be the extent of individualism.

֎The Trumpian movement occurs because the labor class in the United States for decades has been discounted as an unsuccessful class because they are not white collar; their salaries have fallen in value because of inflation versus employer disregard for economic well being; they carry no respect in the gestalt of US culture; their voice through unions was systematically eliminated. Now to be a dot . . . 29 percent of US citizenry believe it is somewhat likely that within ten years there will be a civil war.

The situation is made more complex because of a dysfunctional Congress. We can blame Newt Gingrich for that dysfunction. During his tenure as Speaker of the House of Representatives (1995-1999), he weaponized party politics; the opportunity for Bob Dole and Ted Kennedy to cut a deal could no longer happen.

In Congress, party dominance became Job One; citizens weren’t on the job list. Campaign fundraising became the influence on policy. When Al Franken resigned, he said he spent five hours a day making calls to raise campaign funds. Today, Mitch McConnell carries the torch but isn’t the leader of the party. The party stands armed and ready under the Trumpian flag.

So, reader, will there be a civil war? Who cares if one is just a statistical dot?

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On the good side of things, unions may be coming back. Gallup news reports that public approval is rising and is at its highest since 1965 (71 percent). Mariner’s brother is a union advocate. He reports that many trade companies are voluntarily coming to unions to have access to workers. Obviously the economic effects of the pandemic have messed up employment enough that unions are the only dependable source to find workers.

Ancient Mariner

The new law firm takes over

In a recent post, mariner used a metaphor suggesting that Mother Nature was taking over the issue of disarray in the human world. Here is an example of Mother Nature taking charge of economy, agriculture and civilian priorities:

AXIOS – “The heat wave roasting China is setting records for its reach, with an area equivalent to California, Texas and Colorado experiencing high temperatures exceeding 104°F.

Why it matters: At 71 straight days, the heat wave and drought have no parallel in modern record-keeping in China or around the world, Axios Generate co-author Andrew Freedman reports.

More than 260 weather stations saw their highest-ever temperatures during the long-running heat wave, according to state media reports.

The severe drought has throttled back China’s hydropower production, leading the government to cut power to key industrial hubs.”

So it isn’t only Europe, the United States and the Middle East having their toes put to the fire, it includes China and Southern Asian nations as well. The use of heat, storms, flooding, shifting weather patterns and drought are Mother Earth’s legal documents ordering humans to cease and desist. Fresh water is increasingly scarce; worldwide, industry and agriculture are suffering economically.

We have only begun to see disruptions to housing markets and other fiscal practices. It won’t be long before nations of the world have to stop profiteering and fighting wars in order to commit resources to Mother Nature’s style of reform.

Ancient Mariner


It warms the heart

֎ Mariner watched a short video from NEWSY broadcasting which revealed a growing market for farm equipment built with standard parts rather than having to abide by the privatized and copyrighted and BIG dollar cost of companies like John Deere. The reader will enjoy a sensation they probably haven’t felt in a long time. See:

֎ Mariner lives in a semi-rural area of Iowa, several small towns and no large metropolitan areas. Nevertheless, the public libraries in the region all have seen the new light in these changing times. Libraries aren’t quiet, dusty archives anymore. Libraries have become public activity centers with almost continuous programming for all ages from old people playing euchre to preschoolers running around on the lawn. Technically the libraries are up-to-date, even having supported some public school classes during the pandemic.

֎ The reader knows by now that Kansas voted overwhelmingly to keep the right to have an abortion. This may or may not be good news to an individual reader but the really good news is the turnout. Dangerous Donald continues to loom over politics like a possible tornado. His followers, mostly conspirators, racists, misogynists and illicit opportunists drew only half as many voters as those who voted for abortion. These numbers bring hope to those who know that the only way to defeat the Trump movement is to outvote its advocates. And most of us did not have faith that this could happen. Dare we think the Kansas turnout may be good news for November?

Ancient Mariner

Private Equity

Private equity investors are different from venture capitalists, who provide a cash infusion to small startups and hope they blossom into the next Facebook. Nor are they stock traders making split-second decisions to buy or sell shares in public companies. Rather, private equity funds aim to take control of a business for a relatively short time, restructure it and resell or liquidate the company at a profit.

It is mariner’s opinion that private equity firms are the most evil and destructive element of uncontrolled capitalism. The impact on local newspapers across the country has been in the news. Small newspapers are disappearing because of private equity take-overs.

It is a form of thievery. Mariner knows about four billionaires who bought a bank and immediately foreclosed on every mortgage – creating great financial hardship for homeowners. The billionaires either received immense amounts of cash when property owners could pay off their mortgages or took title to properties well below their market price. The event was a tragedy for mortgage holders and demonstrates the disregard of private equity for any form of moral behavior.

Propublica reports that private equity manages over six trillion dollars in the US economy. The Congress, of course, does not attempt to change the tax structure advantages.

An unexposed impact of private equity is the disregard for employees who are summarily laid off, fired, and whose retirement benefits are redirected to private equity.

Does the reader have a hobby?

Ancient Mariner


Before we start, here’s a headline for the reader:

122 candidates running for election in November believe the 2020 election was stolen. Yes, Virginia, democracy is in great danger.

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֎ Mariner’s wife came across unusually good coverage of a looming issue that gets little press. Published by Forbes, the article[1] discusses the related issue of shrinking population versus today’s attitude toward older people.

It is true that most wealthy nations have shrinking populations. Population size is measured by the fertility rate (the total number of children that would be born to each human female if she lived to the end of her child-bearing years). For a population to sustain its numbers, the fertility rate must be 2.1 children per female. China has a fertility rate of 1.15, Australia and the United States have rates of 1.6 and Japan has a rate of 1.3.

As the average age of the population grows older, there are fewer women of child-bearing age. The average age of a US citizen has risen from 29.5 in 1960 to 38.6 today. It is frustrating to some that the very antidote for falling population is immigration – both mathematically and economically. Racial prejudice is a damaging phenomenon.

Associated with the shift in average age is the impact it has on the workforce. The UN suggests there will be around 30 million fewer people of working age in the world’s five largest economies. Changing the general attitude toward older people being inept and brain-dead will be difficult. Research has shown retired folks to be quite capable although some jobs involving strength or dexterity may have to be modified. Further, as the tech industry already has learned, older folks aren’t as interested in new technologies –they are rife with Luddites like mariner.

This issue will grow slowly, like a 1950 Ford reaching 90 miles per hour. It is growing slowly now but will become a serious, rapidly interfering issue in a few years.

Ancient Mariner


Privacy continues to dwindle

Before we start, mariner has been asked about the accuracy and prejudice of his cluster of news sources. Anyone who knows mariner knows he is critical about everything – especially doctored facts. He has collected the best commentary, best fact checking and least biased reporting available. That being said, the two news sources below aren’t trying to change minds, just enlighten them.

Mariner owes it to his readers to reprint a Protocol (news agency) article that clearly demonstrates how large corporations can erase privacy even for the most personal aspects of one’s life. This issue also begs the question whether super giant corporations like Amazon should be allowed to be so large as to control what should be independent government oversight.


“Amazon announced yesterday that it’s buying its way into a huge slice of health care provision with the acquisition of One Medical for nearly $4 billion. It claims the deal will allow it to “reinvent” health care, and it’s raising some eyebrows.

One big concern with the deal: data. Health care companies hold a massive amount of information, especially in the age of telehealth. The deal gives Amazon new ways to glean data to help it build AI, Protocol Enterprise reporter Kate Kaye writes.

One Medical operates clinics throughout the U.S. and already has roughly 800,000 members enrolled for both in-person and virtual services. Amazon will have access to a treasure trove of valuable data for AI health products.

This means that talking with your doctor could be used to improve things like voice-enabled health apps or in-office ambient software.

This deal is also unlikely to face antitrust pushback despite its size, Protocol Policy editor Kate Cox told me.

Because Amazon doesn’t yet have a strong foothold in the health care industry, other than its work with Amazon Pharmacy, the deal will likely be viewed by regulators as “competition-neutral,” Kate said.

This reveals a flaw in current antitrust laws, allowing massive corporations to continue to grow their influence: Antitrust laws go after companies that are trying to grow in one particular sector, not “octopus” companies working on a little bit of everything.”

Join Amazon Prime! Cancer cured with Amazon products. Get Amazon health insurance discounts not based on averages but specifically targeted to your ailments except for existing conditions . . .

If Amazon doesn’t produce goosebumps, read this article by Axios that reveals Donald’s active pursuit to dismantle the FBI and IRS as part of a scheme to make America great again as a dictatorship, should he be re-elected. Winning aside, his advocates are deadly serious. See:

Ancient Mariner

Sharing is a battlefront weapon

Make no mistake, the next several years will get tougher than today. Already the climate is wreaking havoc with the economies of whole nations – including the United States. Everyone already knows that the less financial cushion one has the more rapidly they become severely destitute.

The governments at all levels have demonstrated failure across a wide spectrum of issues, especially sustaining the health and well being of those who have life changing disasters and the normal hardship of destitute life.

Here is a crazy correlation: As AR-15s are dangerous in the public’s hands, so, too, is sharing inversely helpful to the public. Sharing is the primary weapon against adversity. Some examples:

Does the reader have a drawer full of socks? Does the reader know socks have the highest demand in charity distribution centers? Give the drawer full to a distribution center and buy a new dozen to replace them.

Does the reader have a closet full of tee shirts? (mariner confesses he has a tee shirt he bought in 1988) Give all of them to a charity distribution center and buy a new dozen to replace them.

Does the reader have a house full of shoes? Keep three pairs and give the remaining but usable shoes to a charity distribution center.

Repeat this process for every kind of clothing, even long forgotten underwear stuffed in the back of the drawer.

The alternative, if the reader is so disposed, is to purchase equal quantities new and give them to the charity distribution center.

Some local charities depend on donations of soft drink cans. Take the time to deliver them to the charity.

Sharing is a primary weapon in the battle against adversity.

Another sharing weapon is a quarterly cash donation to charity food distributors. It doesn’t need to be so big that it imposes on the reader’s budget; it’s the steady, quarterly donation that really helps.

There are large corporations in the charity business; the Salvation Army is one example. The reader’s contribution to these corporations helps but some of the donation is redirected to corporate overhead. Just as mariner believes in bottom-up politics, he also believes sharing is a personal experience with a local end-of-process deliverer.

And of course, calamity may strike friends and family. Be prepared to share.

Ancient Mariner

The Future Economy

A frequent subject on the blog is the shape of United States participation in globally-based economics. Often mentioned is the big three of the ‘Sumo’ league, US, China and India, who have economies large enough to lead massive supply chain agreements. But things already are changing – welcome a new member to the Sumo League: the G7. On June 26 the group of nations committed to a plan to spend $600 billion to invest in low and middle income nations over the next five years. Its title is “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)”

Quoting Wikipedia, “the Group of Seven (G7) is an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, the European Union is a ‘non-enumerated member’. . . As of 2020, the collective group accounts for over 50 percent of global net worth ($418 trillion), 32 to 46 percent of Global Domestic Product, and approximately 770 million people (10 percent) of the world’s population.”

Further good news is that the group is organized around the principles of liberal democracies.

G7 has not named its target nations but mariner hopes the nations include those in South and Central America. In any case, the monetary power of the group is incomparable even considering China and India.

Even though the PGII doesn’t address the Pacific Rim situation directly, this is great news and mariner wants the readers to know – this is a good news post!

Ancient Mariner