Category Archives: What’s in a Name

Weaponised Nonsense

For all my author and reading friends, this is a great read…nothing to add from here. Start with this quote from the article…well worth a very short time commitment. Thanks for caring about the meaning of language.

Without language, there is no accountability, no standard of truth. If Trump never says anything concrete, he never has to do anything concrete. If Trump never makes a statement of commitment, Trump supporters never have to confront what they really voted for. If his promises are vague to the point of opacity, Trump cannot be criticised for breaking them. If every sloppy lie (ie: “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower … This is McCarthyism!”) can be explained away as a “generality” or “just a joke” because of “quotes”, then he can literally say anything with impunity. Trump can rend immigrant families in the name of “heart”, destroy healthcare in the name of “life”, purge minority voters in the name of “justice”, and roll back women’s autonomy in the name of “freedom”. The constitution? Probably sarcastic. There are “quotes” all over that thing!

“Fed News Sends DOW into a Dive”

Between the article itself and the MSN headline they’re trying to make news when there is none. You professionals should be able to do better than that. If you’re going to write about the market give me the facts. Knock off doing what all the computer algorithms are already trying to do i.e. create your own trading outcome.

Here’s the fact: the market went down today a total of 108.13 points Woo hoo, that is a whopping seven point seven tenths of just one percent.  Not even a single whole percent, certainly not news unless you’re in the business of trying to create some where there isn’t by using words like “concern”, “volatile”, and “slide”.  Hello, did anyone think QE would last forever? Nope, and neither did the market. Well except it seems MSN Money editors.

What Inflation?

In a discussion the past few days an educated, knowledgeable, articulate friend, was professing the effects of Quantitative Easing (QE) on inflation. His position being QE is devaluing the US dollar and inflating prices for those on fixed income. Mine being it has not. Inflation occurs when demand exceeds supply, nothing more, nothing less. But in this case more importantly I simply have to ask; what inflation?

Inflation over the past few years, specifically since early 2009 when QE began, has been nearly zero. It actually dropped toward deflation in 09 then has hung in the lowest of single digits since. 2012 for example inflation ran just two decimal zero something percent. Oh how we would love to have seen that in the 70s verses that decade average over seven percent! So I have to ask again; what inflation?

    My friend went on to point out how several metals have gone up significantly since QE, how the price of heating oil has shot up along with fuel. All true of course, then Energy Transitionwent on to point out how the only heating product that has not risen in price is natural gas because of the improvements in technology making it more abundant. I believe he just made my point. Where oil demand is outpacing production, we have seen price inflation, where gas production has outpaced demand the price is neutral, even lower. Sure sounds like supply and demand to me.

Metals; of course have gone up. With the inflation mongers howling inflation due to QE for now nearing five years, a lot of wealth has migrated toward precious metals. Ah there is that pesky demand exceeding supply again with the price inflation. But again nothing to do with QE.

US Historic CPI Inflation

US Inflation

So back to the point; what inflation? We can slice this a couple ways first by looking at annual inflation data over the past decade. Yup, miniscule.

Financial verses Trade Weighted Dollar

US Trade Weighted Dollar

Or we can look at the dollar value relative to other currencies. Well nothing there either. We can however see big drops beginning in the 80s and again in 01-03. No QE going on then.

So where is the argument coming from? Well a lot of mainstream “experts” have been yelling about inflation fears as I mentioned earlier for about five years. I’m really torn as to whether this is just big dollar politics where if you yell loud enough and long enough people will just believe it on faith. Or whether the inflation mongers had once studied blues progressions. I remember one of my blues instructors telling me “don’t worry if you hit a wrong note…just hold it until it gets right.” Meanwhile; show me the inflation.

Welfare Spending/Reform – Military Reservists and the UCMJ

Last Week the Heritage Foundation Published Welfare, Undermining True Reform, and it’s been reposted by a couple conservatives. Even far right conservative candidates like Mr. Ayers, a Florida transplant running for the US House posted it, referring to “King” Obama and claiming he is circumventing the congress and constitution. This is flat wrong. The article doesn’t stand the rigor of research and the candidate is a military member.

Candidate Darren Ayers is a US Army Reservist, so as I understand technically he can call the Commander in Chief derogatory names, even when the comment is right under his own in uniform photo. Our active duty service men and women cannot as it is considered to undermine good order and discipline. For all of the 24 plus years of my service as an enlisted airman, officer, and five time unit commander I have briefed and been briefed reserves and active duty forces are equals. I cannot conceive after all my military leadership experience how a reserve officer referring to the Commander in Chief in a derogatory way would not undermine good order and discipline but an active member making the same statement would; and they would stand to be prosecuted under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. We are not equals after all.

The article titled Welfare, Undermining true reform by Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. His statements and facts just don’t stand up to the rigor of research. It is easy for special interest groups to throw out a few statements stirring public discord in the political arena, but several points stand out so strongly I am surprised any newspapers reprinted the article. To give them credit however, all I’ve seen placed it under editorials verses news as it masquerades on the Heritage Foundation’s web site. Unfortunately many right wingers treat it as another verse from the gospel.

Mr. Rector’s use of terms “illegal move” and “power grab” in reference to the current administration adjustment to policy is his belief, not fact, and the law is far from “overturned” as indicated in the editorial piece. It is simply a administrative adjustment of which no one has yet to see if there are and what any impacts may be. Meanwhile throwing another log on the fire of political conflict without support, legal finding, or case study is questionable. He works to sway opinion with indications of “liberals” attempts to “fight” the TNAF work requirement, again without reference and ignoring that Welfare Reform (and the TNAF work requirement) was done in 1996 as a cooperative effort between both parties and under another administration (Clinton) argued as too “liberal” by the very same Heritage Foundation. Rather than follow up with legal support for his belief, he attempts to fan the fire with off (legal) topic arguments.

Mr. Rector makes misleading reference to Welfare spending so let’s look at the budget numbers. The 2008 budget (Bush) increased programmed welfare spending by $76 billion in 2008 and another 128 billion in 2009 (Bush), we saw an $89 billion increase in 2010 (Obama), and a reduction of $33 billion in the 2011 (Obama) budgets. It appears Mr. Rector is confused on the federal budget process or more likely attempting to confuse the public in attributing the 2009 increase of 128 billion to the current administration. Considering inflation for 2008/09 was a mere 0.1% and 2.7% percent respectively makes the inflation adjusted increase of the last two Bush budgets the largest in recent history and individually larger than any of the present administration years. In addition his closing numbers on means-tested welfare is of combined federal and state spending, artificially making the numbers higher, and discounting the fact that federal means-tested welfare spending in 2012 appears to be less than that spent in the last year of the Bush (2009) budget.

Throughout the writing, the author make an assumption of a cause and effect relationship between welfare reform and the number of persons on welfare. We all know there have been significant economic swings both up and down in the years between 1996 and today. First we began with a long period of economic growth, fiscal and housing bubbles, and now fiscal contraction, recession, and unemployment. No educated economist or researcher would discount those impacts, nor try and claim just one to be singular cause of the welfare caseload as Mr. Rector implies in his editorial. A person trying to create political malcontent just might.

Political malcontent brings me to my final point. The Heritage Foundation may have a wonderfully wholesome sounding name, but they are an organization with a very political agenda. Its stated mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” They have repeatedly fought accepted research and sound science in support of their conservative causes and big business interest of their contributors. This article is an example of a special interest group being heard just because they have big business funding. It is unfortunate that while we have freedom of speech in this United States, being heard costs so much money.

Link to the Heritage Foundation Article: http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2012/07/undermining-true-welfare-reform

I may not agree with the current administration on many issues, nor do I agree with the challenger. But to espouse beliefs and commentary without facts or presenting facts in a misleading way is irresponsible, further stokes the fires of the malcontent, and impedes our politicians and us from working together to solve some of the issues we face as a democracy. Oh and let’s get our military forces on the same UCMJ… we are after all equals, right?