Let’s trade

It is the habit of the electorate, and with good cause, to blame politicians when things go wrong. The United States, along with other nations, has suffered severe shortages of food, medicine, numerous grocery stock items and industrial components. In large part, the shortages were caused by pandemic interference with the shipping and processing companies that ship products to retail outlets. The politicians could do little more than watch.

In a PBS broadcast of NOVA last night, a viewer becomes aware that the supply chain itself is vulnerable to mishaps that can cause worldwide shortages. Container-carrying ships of massive size (as long as four football fields) carry unbelievable volumes of goods; for just one of these ships to fail in delivery, many smaller businesses can fail because their shelves are empty.

The NOVA episode analyzed the impact of one of these container ships blocking the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal is located in Egypt and is a key link between Asian shipping and Mediterranean shipping. Unfortunately, it is only one lane wide. If something blocks the Canal, hundreds of ships are held up at both ends – hence shortages on retail shelves. In the NOVA piece, one ship runs aground and stops all shipping, perhaps a thousand of these large container ships.

The reason this caught the interest of mariner is because ‘shipping’, aka ‘supply chain’ is the verb in the future of global economics. In the last century the concept for international trade was based more on trade agreements, e.g., “I’ll swap you two sheep for ten chickens and if you give me any trouble, I’ll slap a tariff on you.”

Needless to say, communication technology in this century has made the delay and overhead of trade agreements too expensive and too subject to circumstantial politics. What has become possible, however (if ships don’t run aground in canals), is an international arrangement where each nation can collaborate at the production level – thereby speeding productivity and increasing volume such that world markets may be available instead of piecemeal nation-to-nation deals.

A comical metaphor but perhaps it can clarify the new advantage: Nation 1, a large, rich nation that acts as an anchor to the supply chain, says to nation 2, the chicken producing nation, “You can grow chicken feet faster than I can but I can grow chicken heads faster than you can. We can save 25 percent of the time it takes to grow chickens if you send me your chicken feet. Then you’ll have room to grow even more chicken feet.” The anchor nation plays the additional role of an insurance company by covering market shifts, weather, etc.

Understanding this model, a move toward global economic domination, explains why China, the US, India, the European Union, South America (resource rich) and the Pacific Rim nations (Australia, South Korea, Japan et al) are jockeying hard to monopolize supply chains.

Except for Putin. He doesn’t understand the principle of sharing. It is important to know that Trump and his cronies don’t either.

Lest we forget, there is only one issue that will dominate world economics even more than global supply chains – global warming.

Ancient Mariner

 

Follow up to Vladimir

Mariner was asked what he meant by ‘gunslinger’ capitalism.

RENO – In late 2016, an out-of-state casino owner, Jeffrey Jacobs, started buying up property surrounding Nystrom House, a large old hotel for low income families, vacant land, derelict houses, historic mansions, a car repair shop, a dry cleaner, a wedding chapel, a neighborhood bar, a gas station. And motels, lots of motels. Within months, Jacobs owned Nystrom House,

Jacobs began demolishing the motels. First the Carriage Inn and Donner Inn Motel. Then the Stardust Lodge. Next, the Keno, El Ray and Star of Reno fell. The motels, decades past their prime, had served as housing of last resort for hundreds of people with extremely low incomes and few other options. Jacobs was clearing the way for what he said will be a $1.8 billion entertainment district anchored by his two casinos.

The exact same thing is happening in Miami, Florida.

Given a national crisis in low income housing, that’s gunslinger capitalism.

Elon Musk buying Twitter is gunslinger capitalism.

Venture capitalists buying small newspaper publishers, stripping away the ability to cover news and turning them into low-staffed rags for profit is gunslinger capitalism. Unfortunately, venture capitalists are invading medical centers and hospitals with the same intention by limiting or outsourcing services and requiring patient quotas. That’s gunslinger capitalism.

Lumber companies trying to cut down the most ancient trees on Earth within a nature preserve is gunslinger capitalism.

Buying small banks and foreclosing on every single mortgage is gunslinger capitalism.

A very painful fact is that the Federal Government doesn’t even ask them to pay taxes.

Ancient Mariner

Vladimir

Mariner often has made the argument that older politicians cannot properly interpret the broad picture of a world in which they did not grow up. It occurs to mariner that Vladimir Putin is a classic example.  Putin is seventy years old.  He grew up in the cold war years, was an intelligence officer and was stationed in an office in sight of the Berlin Wall when it fell.

He briefly served as director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and secretary of the Security Council, before being appointed as prime minister in August 1999. After the resignation of Yeltsin, Putin became acting president and, less than four months later, was elected outright to his first term as president.

It is Putin who spearheaded the war against Georgia and the takeover of Crimea. Putin obviously understands the power of old fashioned war as a political force. It is Putin who developed his understanding of Russian myth during its expansionist years after World War II when Russia acquired much of Eastern Europe.

Putin perceives Russia as a dominant force in today’s European reality when, in fact, because of the nation’s tsarist history, has never been a politically dominant nation except as a player in the Paris Peace Conference that ended the war.

In today’s world, large nations understand the cost of an old fashioned bullet war and have moved on to sophisticated economic machinations including the power of computer-driven conflict. Major influences in whether there is a bullet war are organizations like the G7, G20 and the World Monetary Fund – economic organizations with powerful economic influence in international monetary affairs. In short, bullet wars are too destructive, too expensive and do not serve as resolution to a competitive situation.

But Putin grew up in the era of bullet wars; his judgment is warped by his intrinsic values. Even if he intellectually understood the supply chain battles going on between China and the United States, he would feel no satisfaction in such a conflict.

In the US today, mariner carries anxiety that too many important politicians are even older than Putin. While bullet wars aren’t the primary concern, it is an interpretation of last-century capitalism that has too much sway in a century where there are not enough resources for gunslinger capitalism.

Land is disappearing. Water is disappearing. 300 million people may not leave room for ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ for everyone. Tax policy does not speak to modern technical opportunities or a growing imbalance between rich and poor.

The leaders in the US government who still espouse unbridled capitalism are, for the most part, older than Vladimir Putin.

Ancient Mariner

 

The Truth shall make you Whole

Is it right, either spiritually, politically or culturally, for one person (Musk, Zuckerberg et al) to own a conduit to the truth? Is this a new form of dictatorship? Do we already live in an oligarchical state? Where is our ‘democratically’ elected government?

Is it right for one person (Rupert Murdoch) to own: (He owns everything until the reader reaches two dashes)

News Corp. holdings including three national newspapers in the U.K.; almost 150 publications in Australia; the New York Post and Community Newspaper Group in the United States; The Wall Street Journal and related publications in the U.S., Europe and Asia; Dow Jones information services;

HarperCollins book publishers. The list includes:

Daily Telegraph; Dow Jones; Harper Collins Publishers; Herald Sun; Inside Out; New York Post; News International; NT News; Post-Courier; Sunday Herald Sun; Sunday Mail; Sunday Times; The Advertiser; The Australian; The Courier-Mail; The Daily; The Mercury; The Sunday Mail; The Sunday Telegraph; The Sun; The Sunday Times; The Times; Times Literary Supplement; The Wall Street Journal; The Wall Street Journal Digital Network; Weekly Times; Zondervan.

Broadcasting

Businesses include the FOX Broadcasting Company; the 27 stations in the Fox Television Stations group and various television operations throughout the world. Cable properties produce and license programming for cable and satellite platforms in the U.S and Asia, including the FOX News Channel and FOX Business Network, FX and STAR. News Corporation wholly owns Italy’s most popular pay-TV company, SKY Italia. The company also has significant holdings in British Sky Broadcasting, Germany’s Sky Deutschland; Asia’s TATA SKY and FOXTEL in Australia and New Zealand.

The list includes:

FOX Broadcasting Company; FOX Sports; FOX Sports Australia; FOX Television Stations; MyNetworkTV; Big Ten Network; FOX Business Network; FOX Movie Channel; FOX News Channel; FOX College Sports; FOX Sports Enterprises; FOX Deportes; FOX Sports Net; FOX Soccer Channel; Fuel TV; FX; Nat Geo Wild; National Geographic Channel United States; National Geographic Channel Worldwide; Speed; STAR; Stats, Inc.; BSkyB; FOXTEL; Sky Deutschland; SKY Italia.

Movie and television production and distribution

Move production and distribution through Fox Filmed Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Film. Television production includes 20th Century Fox Television and other TV studios.

The list includes:

20th Century Fox; 20th Century Fox Espanol; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; 20th Century Fox International; 20th Century Fox Television; Fox Searchlight Pictures; Fox Studios Australia; Fox Studios LA; Fox Television Studios; Blue Sky Studios; Shine Group.

Other assets

“Next generation” media properties including Hulu, an online video joint venture with NBC Universal and Disney; and News Outdoor, an outdoor advertising company.

The list includes:

American Idol.com; AskMen; careerone.com.au; CARSguide.com.au; Fox.com; FoxSports.com; FoxSports.com.au; hulu.com; IGN Entertainment; Milkround; National Rugby League; NDS; News.com.au; News Digital Media; News Outdoor; Scout; Spring Widgets; truelocal.com.au; WhatIfSport.

– –

The list goes on with media monopolies like Disney or Belo, another corporation that takes in $1.4 billion a year and owns or operates eight print outlets, 20 TV stations, and ten cable news channels.

Ownership of information is not benign. In mariner’s home broadcast area, one station is owned by a conservative organization called Sinclair Broadcast Group, a media company that also owns or operates 294 television stations across the United States. Each local news broadcast is required to insert a conservative commentary as though it were part of the news.

Specifically, mariner isn’t trying to be critical. Recently he has been focusing on the issue of truth and how it has become rudderless; no one knows what truth is. This is dangerous at the species level because each of us, individually and generally, must know what our stable, normal habitat looks like. Interpreting cause and effect is managed primarily by the subconscious brain. Should we flee? Fight? Ignore? Interpret? Impossible without the truth – what is real?

At this moment, mariner recognizes control patterns similar to gerrymandering. Not that specific government jurisdictions are controlled but more a control of information across viewing areas which may include several districts or regions. Think FOX or MSNBC; think Texas truth versus California truth – which one is true either politically or capitalistically or especially empirically?

In the old days before broadcast technology (dare we include the telephone), truth was local. Truth was hands on. Truth was based on existential reality. When the ownership of news was local, the broadcaster couldn’t range far from existential reality. These last bastions of local truth are being bought by venture capitalists, stripped of capability and turned into advertisement brochures. Today, truth has no foundation, no existential reality. The definition of truth is ‘manipulated broadcasting’. No wonder populism prevails; government, science and existential experience are irrelevant and not to be trusted.

Each day mariner dislikes uncontrolled capitalism more.

Ancient Mariner

A new definition for Musk Ox

Yes, the subject is Elon Musk. The article below from Axios is an important read. His ascendancy and power remind mariner of the Edwardian Age in England when money and wealth controlled government, society and the economy. Today, Musk also will control truth.

https://www.axios.com/elon-musk-power-influence-twitter-tesla-spacex-neuralink-boring-company-951463dd-774c-458c-8232-3a575c6d2ec7.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosfinishline&stream=top

“What Musk and others portray as a battle over ‘free speech’ is a proxy fight over who is entitled to attention,” says Renée DiResta, of the Stanford Internet Observatory.

Musk is the most obvious of a class of oligarchs that is growing wealthier without taxes, without national commitment and with the ability to buy out any government policy of their disliking.

The government of the last century no longer works for the common citizen. Will there be a destructive collapse sometime in the near future? Is democracy doomed as the world’s resources shrink and wealth rises in power? Does the US want to be a Putin Russia run by a dozen oligarchs?

Ancient Mariner

 

Did you know?

Not only can one make ghost guns, one can make ghost kidneys.

Denver, Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, El Paso, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego may not be sustainable by the end of the 21st century because of water shortages.

Independent local election campaigns no longer exist. The concept of local campaign-local-citizen-related funding no longer exists. Local citizen funding as an indicator of local citizen interest is a victim to giant PACs who can fund regional broadcasters, who can saturate local markets even if a local election committee wanted to spend money; PACs can dominate social media. The republican reelection campaign PAC alone is spending $141 million on district races. Three cheers for totalitarianism!

Elon Musk tweets are the new Trump tweets: Have you noticed cable news shows increased programming around Musk tweets?

Oklahoma’s four abortion clinics have been overrun with demand from out-of-state patients. When a team of academic researchers posed as pregnant people and called the Oklahoma clinics at the beginning of March, all four told the callers they couldn’t schedule them for an appointment.

Used car prices are a staggering 35% higher than last March. Many consumer products will never retreat back to pre-Covid days.

Syria is gearing up its military to join Russia against Ukraine.

Guru speculates that as many as three different regional wars may erupt similar to the Ukraine-Russian war because of regional, longstanding issues:

The Middle East War. See the map for possible players. Some players like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran are seeking more power through unification but common human struggle exists throughout the region. The West counterparts may involve Europe, Greece, Israel, India and the United States.

 

 

The Southeast Asia War. See the map for possible players. This is a China-centric war that includes a current sore spot, Tibet, where a current conflict is China’s genocidal policy against Uyghur Buddhists. Beyond Tibet are a number of nations that depend on independent trade that China would like to own – Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. The West counterparts may include India, the United States, the Philippines, Taiwan and perhaps if China acts out in a certain manner, the third regional war for economic control of the Pacific Rim will join in. Other nations would join in like Australia, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Canada and perhaps Columbia and Mexico. In the expanded regional war for the Pacific, Russia and North Korea would step in as China’s allies.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marching Forward

֎ As if there weren’t enough disruption to what reality is, the age of cryptocurrency is coming to our governments. Cities and states, as well as other nations, already are at the stage of experimenting with blockchain data storage. Let’s hope it at least eliminates standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. In the recent past mariner has been refused his purchase with cash, requiring a credit card – now what, anyone have change for a bitcoin?

The purported asset in blockchain is that no one ‘owns’ the data or can secretly manipulate values – which is a common practice in dictatorships. Let’s hope blockchain storage can alleviate the fears of the republican states that want to outlaw open elections.

֎ The untold story today is the desperate condition of the low income financial class. More than 11.4 million renters are behind on rent, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Over 300,000 black female single parent families have been evicted; white female single parent families aren’t far behind.

Add to this a new press for charity food centers and low income housing opportunities (which don’t exist). Our own law abiding citizens are no better off than the homeless children in immigration facilities (another sin on US society). Sadly, mariner sees no sympathy from our disabled governments. The reader and mariner must make every effort to ease the undeserved pain in these unfortunate families.

֎ [Inflation Footnote] In an effort to turn a depressing, terrible national situation into something with personal value, mariner has made a game, if that’s the appropriate word, of trying to alter his financial overhead by the going rate of inflation. For example:

Mariner drinks a lot of coffee. He isn’t a connoisseur, he’s after the caffeine. Typically mariner will finish a pot plus some each day. Each morning he pours out a cup or two of yesterday’s coffee and makes a fresh pot. Recently, his online supplier advised him that each pound of coffee will cost $2.50 more because of a notably bad growing year for coffee in South America and because of inflation.

To modify his behavior to account for the increased cost, mariner preserves yesterday’s leftover coffee and drinks it before he makes a fresh pot. He feels successful in his adjustment which, when calculated, amounts to an increase of 8 percent in coffee cup availability, thus offsetting the increased cost – at least when compared to inflation.

This is a con on himself to allow him to feel successful in combating inflation but to tell the truth, it does not block the depression that comes from the terrible state of millions of desperate citizens. The governments aren’t up to the job – this is a citizen’s responsibility. Don’t storm the Capital; storm the charitable sources to help even in one’s own neighborhood. Find a residence for a family that doesn’t have one; send a check to any number of charitable organizations.

Ancient Mariner

Inflation 2022

It is no surprise that lower income families, retirees on fixed income and debt-laden families are suffering under inflation much more harshly than those with higher income. An individual bringing home minimum wage will have to pay proportionately more for necessary commodities and food than a higher income individual.

For example, a person may bring home, after deductions, about $250/week. Because of a shortage in low income housing, as much as 50 percent of the individual’s income will be for rent. The remaining $125/week must purchase all other consumables, children’s expenses and fossil fuel needs.

If inflation rises by 7 percent as it has in just 4 months, the individual doesn’t have $125/week; they have $116/week. Mariner’s grocery shopping jumped by 15 percent. If the individual had shopped at mariner’s supermarket, their net value would be reduced by more than 7 percent.

Of course inflation affects everyone. Inflation inflicts tragedy on the poor but even ‘middle class’ families need to adjust spending patterns to minimize the higher cost of family living. What follows are suggested modifications for offsetting the loss of spending power:

  • Have two dinners each week that are meatless. Fruit salads, meatless vegetable pasta, bean soup are much less expensive without meat and, in fact, better for you.
  • Move away from pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods. Does the reader remember how to use flour, rice and eggs?
  • How many channels on the smart TV are paid for? Cut back by half. Spend more time with your family – that’s free.
  • Many families have a weekend night out. How about switching to a night out every other week or not at all?
  • Adjust the furnace thermostat down by three degrees and wear a sweater – raise it for air conditioning.
  • Analyze auto trips per week. Find a way to stretch those trips to 10 days. A good game for this category would be to shop less frequently but limit the amount to what the old schedule would have purchased in a shorter time.
  • Alcohol consumption along with snacks is relatively expensive. Cut back by half or more; perhaps this is a good time to start a serious diet.

These ideas are offered to help the reader develop a mindset that lessens the impact of inflation. Mariner is positive that there are many more ideas the reader can conger.

Ancient Mariner

It is time for change . . .

. . . Let’s hope the change will be productive. Mariner, especially with the input of Amos, knows he complains a lot. In this post, however, mariner simply is sharing evidence about why the nation is in dangerous disarray. Mariner will share with the reader his personal experiences which show the extent of fragmentation this nation suffers.

First, accept the fact that mariner is an old geezer with many of the typical maladies that come with old age. One malady among others is a lung issue. When mariner was young he suffered lung damage while working in an industrial factory. The resulting years since have been normal with no effects but in recent years the lungs are suffering a gradual decline.

Each year when mariner gets his general physical, three different pulmonologists have offered him a prescription that ‘may’ slow the decline. It is important to know that this prescription costs $10,000 each month. The firm that sells this prescription has arranged for some off-shoot firm to pay $8,000 in his behalf.

To each pulmonologist mariner said, “I will die before I accept that prescription.” This is the point of truth about the condition of our society: The CEO of the pharmaceutical firm that sells this drug each year makes $2.4 million in base salary. If mariner pays him 10 thousand/month, he will let mariner live longer.

This is the result of forty years of unbridled capitalism in the United States. This is the underlying cause of Trumpism and direct attacks on the principles of the Constitution. Working classes statistically make less today than they did forty years ago (Minimum wage in 1980 was $5/hour; that equates today to $19.50/hour). Mariner can throw many charts and comparisons at the reader that show a rapidly growing poverty class – coupled with a rapidly growing billionaire class. In past posts, he has demonstrated the social stratification between post-college life and labor class life – including the deliberate, premeditated elimination of unions.

On the society front, mariner has complained continuously about abuse by big data technology; he will not belabor the issue except to say that the right to live an individual life centered on the existential experience of that life is under great threat by a capitalistically driven technology.

Human life has lost its priority to a handful of dollars.

The pandemic is a dreadful way to force to the surface deep, embedded values that are fracturing this nation.

Ancient Mariner

It is about the times

Mariner’s wife has a desktop Zen calendar. Most of the time mariner struggles to grasp the point of the quote but today it couldn’t be clearer or more apropos to these times:

“The dignity of man lies in his ability to face reality in all its meaninglessness.”

We must find our dignity within ourselves – in the world today the reader won’t find it anywhere else. There is no news outlet broadcasting good times. Even marginal advances in humanism and technology are fraught with negatives and controversy. There is the Putin war, the totalitarian legislatures, the republican autocracy, the uncontrolled metaverse, the age of misinformation, global warming, pandemics, housing shortages, inflation, skyrocketing medical expense, China, North Korea, societal disintegration, the age of mass murders, the destructive influence of venture capital, uncontrolled private equity, growing plutocracy, Christian-based Trumpism, abusive tax structures that protect the wealthy, ignorance about the disappearing biosphere, disrespecting the very immigrants who will bolster the national population and its GDP.

Okay, mariner will stop. Oddly, it seemed almost like good news when the news outlets broadcast the passing of Madeline Albright; it wasn’t, of course, but it seemed better because it carried no angst. Bless her; she helped run a more civil nation in a different time.

Within ourselves we must find stability, sameness, a reason we exist. We must use behaviors that show responsibility for others, by doing what we can to help victims of our age.

We must separate our emotions from our thinking. Pure, educated thinking is in short supply today. We must act with vision and wisdom.

As the Zen quote implies, we must search for a world with meaning.

Ancient Mariner