Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction. Erich Fromm

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Crony Communism

Hayek's Road To Serfdom Had Several Prominent Bumps

The phrase Crony Capitalism is being bandied about a lot lately, with the usual implication being that Capitalism, of the laissez faire sort, is just peachy, and it is only when the poor, innocent, just-fell-off-the-turnip-truck-last-night Capitalist is seduced by yon Politician, dressed in red with fishnet stockings, and hanging out beneath a street lamp, that  miscegenation occurs, and an illegitimate bastard named Crony Capitalism, pops its little head out of the birth canal and proceeds to pay Mommy and Daddy back for their illicit tryst, at a murderous rate of interest. And, the only way to keep this type of third rate rendezvous from occurring,  is to end all government regulation that stands in the way of said Capitalists from making as much money as their grubby little yacht can ferry to the Caymans.

But, this type of apologetic, is NOT new. It has been pushed before by the unlikeliest of propagandists, the Apologists for Communism. While Karl Marx was able to conceive of a economic/power system whereby the means of production were centrally planned and controlled, it took the non-philosopher types like Lenin and Stalin and Mao to move the process along from books to bullets, so to speak. And here is where the problems with Communism arose.  It is hard to push the ersatz compassion of from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs when millions are being slaughtered or condemned to various gulags and labor camps.  Even for those who could swallow the twin b0-b0s of death and imprisonment, and still mumble something about sacrifices,  the common good, and omelets,  the comparison between Communist and Free Market economies was unsettling.

People behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains were hungry, cold, and condemned to suffer shoddy goods, when goods could be had at all.  Vehicles, affordable by only a few, were complete pieces of crap, if home made. Meanwhile, on the other side of The Wall, people ate well, sat warmly in winter, coolly in summer, and could afford to trade in their clunker every three years for a brand new clunker! Dead Kulaks notwithstanding, this kind of stuff was giving Communism a bad name. People were beginning to snicker.

Sooo, the idea of Crony Communism (although not called that)  was invented. The trick was to divorce the theory of Communism from the reality of Communism by blaming the problems on the political side.  Communism per se wasn’t bad, it was just the way pure Communism was hijacked by these evil and/or misguided folk like Stalin. What people were seeing in The USSR and Red China wasn’t REAL Communism at all! It was just the perversion of Communism by intercourse with the political class, and if only you could go back to pure laissez  faire economic Communism, free from all that transitional political pollution stuff, then Communism would work like a charm!!!

Now, the same silly argument is being advanced by the Apologists for Capitalism. The last three years, and arguably the last thirty or so years, have been nothing if not a complete indictment of the failures of either under-regulated or stupidly-regulated Capitalism. Mark Rosenfelder (Zompist) wrote of this several years ago, and used the Banana Republic meme so rare then, and so common today.

http://www.zompist.com/libertos.html

Economics and Politics are just nicer names for Money and Power.  Perhaps the two were not so intertwined in The Garden of Eden, but outside the East Gate,  past the Cherubum and the Fiery Sword, the two have been getting it on for quite a while.  Read the Code of Hammurabi and see how many of the laws relate to contractual and economic rights. What is particularly ironic is that the damning of Crony Capitalism is pouring out of the same mouths who then turn right around and beg the government for favors! Gee, sometimes the best favor a cop can do for a crony is to just look the other way while a crime occurs.

While rightfully castigating  the recipients of bailouts for having privatized their profits while socializing the costs, or interfering in the process, the same  advocates then plead for the government to interfere in the process, and end  regulations–including  minimum wages, worker’s comp, and pollution laws or, begging for tax breaks to locate their new Widget Factory in the Lucky State or Fortunate Nation, all so that they might make a few extra bucks while passing the costs along to society. I am reminded of Me, as a teenager, begging for the car on Friday night because I was mature and adult enough to be careful and get home on time, and then Me,  locking my bedroom door, laying on my bed with my stuffed animals, kicking my feet, and crying because Daddy said, “No.”

Communism and all other systems where the government has too much power are going to degenerate into the Monstrosities of People’s Republics. Capitalism and all other system where the few have too much power are going to degenerate into the Monstrosities of Banana Republics. I think the Human Race can do better than either of those.

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

Bonus: Tito and Tarantula’s “After Dark” – From Dusk Till Dawn

The Rape of Greece: Leda And The Black Swan

Caressed By The Dark Webs

This deal may never transpire, but Karl Denniger reports on Market Ticker this ECB Statement:

The government is committed to significantly accelerate its privatization program. To this effect it will create a professionally and independently managed privatization agency, and has drawn up a comprehensive list of assets for privatization with the aim of realizing revenues of EUR 50 billion by the end of 2015. The government will assess progress against intermediate quarterly and annual targets.

http://www.ecb.int/press/pr/date/2011/html/pr110603_1.en.html

Denninger’s take is:

Ah, here we are.  What the EU/ECB demanded (and apparently got) is for the government to sell public assets (the things that all Greeks own collectively) and use that money to pay the banksters.

This is a direct financial rape of the Greek people and should be met with immediate refusal – not acceptance – by the Greek population.

http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?blog=Market-Ticker

There is in Greek Mythology, the story of Leda and the Swan.  Wiki notes: Zeus took the form of a swan and raped or seduced Leda on the same night she slept with her husband King Tyndareus.  From this union came Helen (of Troy fame) and Pollux. In some versions, she laid two eggs from which the children hatched.

In other versions, Helen is a daughter of Nemesis, the goddess who personified the disaster that awaited those suffering from the pride of Hubris.  Nemesis is the one taken by Zeus in the form of a swan and Leda merely finds the egg and hatches it.

The similarity to the present situation of Greece is obvious. Zeus, The Master of the Universe, takes the form of a swan and will have his way with Leda no matter what. Likewise, the Banking Class, the Modern Day Masters of the Universe, will attempt to have their way with Greece.

But there is one big difference.  Should the Greeks put up a better fight than helpless Leda, and Just Say No, the Black Swan may rape the Banking Class instead. Let us devoutly pray for this.

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

NOTE: The picture is by Nicholas Kalmanov (Nikolai Konstantin Kalmakoff). For other paintings he did, simply Google his name. His “Rat With Jaws of Gold” is particularly interesting.

Bonus I:

W.B. Yeats’ Poem, called by Camille Paglia “the greatest poem of the twentieth century.”

Leda and the Swan
By W. B. Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

BONUS II: A YouTube Video, with Nudity, of the Poem, In English and German (how Apropos!!!) I can’t tell if it was made by AMR0758, or just uploaded. Just left click when it starts and it takes you there on YouTube.


Droit Du Seigneur – Cherry Popping On Wall Street

The Banker Had A One Track Mind

Wiki defines Droit du Seigneur as “a term now popularly used to describe an alleged legal right allowing the Lord of an estate to take the virginity of his serf’s maiden daughters. Little or no historical evidence has been unearthed from the Middle Ages to support the idea that such a right ever actually existed. Droit du seigneur is often interpreted today as a synonym for jus primae noctis, although it originally referred to a number of other rights as well, including hunting, taxation, and farming.

In fact, this whole idea may have been a form of revenue generator, in much the same way as speed traps are utilized:

We have quite a few examples showing how the popular belief in a former jus primae noctis influenced social relations between lords and peasants in Switzerland, France and Catalonia in the 15th and 16th centuries. One of these stems from a Swiss village in the vicinity of Zurich. In a customal from about 1400 A.D., the rights of the inhabitants of Maur were itemised by the local “Meier”, a representative of the lord of Maur, which at that time was the convent of Zurich. “Item, who wants to enter the holy state of marriage in the village and court of Maur, whoever he may be, shall hand over the woman to Us for the first night or he may buy her out, as it is custom and tradition and written in the old customals. If he doesn’t do so, he must pay a fine of 30 pennies.” (STAZ [Staatsarchiv des Kantons Zürich]. Urkunden Stadt und Land Nr. 2563; copy of the 15th century, cf. Wettlaufer 1999: 251).

One hundred and fifty years later, the text had been slightly altered: in the 1543 version, written by a successor of the first editor, one reads “… and when the wedding starts, the bridegroom shall allow the sergeant to lie with his bride for the first night, or he shall buy her off with 5 pounds and 4 pennies.” (STAZ C. I 2562, [1543 AD] cf. Wettlaufer 1999: 255).

The amount of money mentioned in both texts was affordable for a peasant, and although customals generally reflect the lords’ claims about their rights over the people under their jurisdiction, these rights must nevertheless have been accepted by the peasants. Such texts were read aloud in front of the assembled village and everybody had to agree with them.

http://www.fibri.de/jus/arthbes.htm

While there might be some question as to whether the Royal “Right to Deflower” existed in the past, (notwithstanding the recent example of Dominique Strauss-Kahn) The Masters of the Universe seem to still have the first right of refusal on all non-sexual commodities. For just one example, oil. Stop Oil Speculation notes that a barrel of oil may trade over 20 times before it hits the gas pump. I have seen other estimates that range between 26 and 43 times. One problem is, that no one is actually sure.

http://www.stopoilspeculationnow.com/Pages/problem.aspx

It takes time to dig out even illegal speculation, and arguably i is more difficult to uncover than legal speculation. Within the last few days, May 24, 2011, Federal regulators charged five oil speculators Tuesday with manipulating the price of crude over three years ago and making a $50 million profit from the scheme. (A drop in the barrel.)

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleges the speculators bought enormous amounts of actual crude oil for sale in Cushing, Okla, during the early months of 2008.

This created a perceived shortage of oil in Cushing — a major point for oil delivery — and drove the price of oil futures contracts higher.

The speculators then bet the price of oil would fall by selling so-called “short” contracts to other investors. When the speculators sold their actual oil holdings in Cushing en mass, the price of oil did fall, netting the group a hefty profit.

The alleged scheme took place between January and April 2008, a time when oil prices were gradually climbing toward their all-time record of $147 a barrel set in the summer of 2008.

The price of crude during the months of the alleged misdeeds changed very little, generally staying within a $10 range but the traders made their money off the daily fluctuations. Crude traded at $99 a barrel Jan. 2, 2008, and ended March 2008 at $101 a barrel.

http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/24/markets/oil_price_speculation/index.htm

Yet, the author of the above Internet Article also feels compelled to assure us later that speculation is NOT responsible for the huge increases in price. Paul Krugman has expressed similar opinions, stating that if speculation was behind the price increase, oil inventories would be increasing. Yet, as was noted in February at Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog:

As naked capitalism poster Audrey recently wrote:

The only people with ability to really hoard oil are oil producers – by not producing as much as they could and leaving oil in the ground. So the speculation scenario would go like this – an oil producing company is producing and selling oil at $5/barrel. For whatever reason futures speculation drives prices up $10. Consumption shrinks, and the company cannot find buyers for all the oil it produces. At this point the company can either sell at $15/barrel, or reduce production. It reduces production, supply meets demand, price stays $10 higher.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/02/guest-post-the-price-of-oil-%E2%80%93-where-the-outrage.html

This might be a difficult issue to fully analyze, but the commodity speculation mop has been wrung out before:

But it’s important to remember that chasing destructive speculative activity out of a commodity market is not an impossible task. In January 1980, the Federal government and the exchange overseeing silver futures trading, the COMEX, took collaborative action: In a series of draconian but necessary measures, the exchange instituted a “liquidation restriction” for the market, forcing speculators to either take delivery of contracts or find massive credit for their holdings while the Federal Reserve blocked commercial lenders from extending that credit. The impact was immediate: Within three months, prices dropped 77%.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-dicker/oil-speculation-continues_b_844663.html

Just for curiosity, how does that 77% price drop compare to the drop in Oil Prices when the market hit bottom???

Here is a link to a chart where you can see for yourself:

http://www.moneyweek.com/news-and-charts/market-data/oil

Let’s see, $144.95 less $38.12 = $106.83.

$1o6.83 divided by $144.95 = 73.7% Price drop.

I am sure this is a coincidence?  But really, do we need 20 to 43 traders in between us at the gas pump and the oil in the ground??? Aren’t we just playing out the same old drama above where, “Such texts were read aloud in front of the assembled village and everybody had to agree with them.”

Why don’t we PEASANTS just stop agreeing???

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

UPDATE!!! The day after this was published, this Internet Article came out confirming the impact of speculation. Wikileaks says the Saudis informed Washington that oil supply was ample and speculators were driving up the price:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/05/wikileaks-saudis-warned-about-oil-speculators-in-2007-and-2008.html

Dominique – A Song For The IMF Head Incident!!!

The Poor Have NO Bread? Then, "Les laisser ME manger!"

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport, accused of attacking a hotel maid and forcing her to perform fellatio on him.

Dominique!!!
To the tune of Dominique
by Squeeky Fromm

Dominque, nique, nique
I will tell of Dominique
And of his foibles, too
How he took a little maid,
On the hotel bed he laid
Made her play his wee Kazoo.

I will tell of Dominique and I hope you will sing with
Dominique would sing it also but his Lawyer pleads the Fifth!!!

Dominque, nique, nique
Oh she told on Dominique!
Before he left for France.
Now the cops they made it there.
And they stripped his derriere
Seized his underwear and pants.

But Dominque he asked them “Do you not know who I am?
“I am a world wide Banker!” as the the old cell door went “slaaamm!”

Dominque, nique, nique
Oh Mon Dieu! Poor Dominique.
With Bubba in his cell.
Bubba’s house was foreclosed on
With a robo-signed ARM loan.
“Welcome, Dominique, to HELL!!!”

Here is a youtube video of the song.

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

The Libertarian National Anthem

Narcissus by Gyula Benczúr (1881).

The Libertarian National Anthem
by Squeeky Fromm

(To the tune of “Do Re Mi” from the sound of Music)

Me . . .The Center of the World.
Me . . .I’ll never have enough.
Me . . .The One, it’s all about.
Me . . .Keep your hands off my stuff!

Me . . . Don’t try to take my Dough!
Me . . . Will never be a “We.”
Me . . . It’s MINE, ALL MINE!!! and so,
Everything comes down to Me, Me, Me, Me.

Chorus: To the same tune:

Me. . .Me Me . . . Me Me Me Me.
Me. . .Me Me Me Me Me Meeee!!!!
Me. . .Me Me . . . Me Me Me Me.
Me. . .Me Me Me Me Me Meeee!!!!

Me. . .Me Me Me Me Me Meeee!
Me. . .Me Me Me Me Me Meeee!
Me. . .Me Me Me Me Me Meeee!
Me Me Me Me . . Me Me . . Me Me Me Me. . .

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

Note: Also see: Woody Guthrie’s “Do Re Mi”

Which Came First – The Hookers Or The Johns??? Economics Viewed Through The Lens Of Prostitution!!!

Use Of Satyre As A Tool

Which Came First – The Hookers Or The Johns??? Economics Through The Lens Of Prostitution!!!

This question is easier to answer than the famous Chicken and Egg problem first described by Aristotle.  Framing the question in terms of Prostitution gets rid of all the messy  micro-biological and evolutionary distractions related to chicken embryology.

Whither, the world’s oldest profession???   Is this a Trick Question??? Where do we apply the Stimulus??? Both parties are necessary.  Remove either party from the equation and there is no Prostitution. Remove the Hooker, and there is no supply. Remove the Johns, and there is no demand.  But in these days of Tight Resource Allocation, we must carefully select the best way to channel our efforts.

Republicans and  Libertarians, with their love of Supply Side Economics, would argue that Hookers stimulate demand, and that If you supply it, they will come. Simply free up the producers to produce, and the demand will be there. And not just be there, but be there pulsing, throbbing, and waiting for that supply to just EXPLODE.

This is turn leads to all the catering to the moneyed classes. It isn’t simply a vote-buying kind of Careless Love, like the Democrats do on the Down-Low. No.  This is the  deep  “I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him… ” kind of Love.  No trade barriers, no regulations, just on laisse faire la nature (“let nature run its course” – Boisguillebert.)

Progressives,  however, think that demand is the driving force.  And that demand requires the financial wherewithal to pay for that which is demanded. This is why Progressive agendas focus on infrastructure expenditures, deficit spending,  bringing jobs back to America, and making sure American jobs pay a decent and livable wage. Without demand, from the bottom up, Hookers aren’t even able to have a “Going Out Of Business Sale!!!” (And, OH I am sooo resisting the temptation to wonder at the possible advertisements and television commercials , such as— “Prices so low, we should have our head examined!!!” )

All in all, the Progressive argument seems more persuasive.  Because the underlying demand for satisfaction can be slaked in many ways.  Some, for FREE!  For example, Marriage, One Night Stands, Cold Showers, Friends With Benefits Arrangements, Prayer, Third Rate Romance, Low Rent Rendevouz, or Alimony, can all serve to allay Lust And, what I call the “Onan the Librarian” approach. (A Dirty Book, a Jug of Lotion(Male), [or a Loaf of a Ithyphallos (Female)] and WOW!)

To go beyond those options, and to pay for it,  is a move up to or beyond Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In fact, Prostitution directly conflicts with the 3rd and 4th level Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness and Needs for Esteem, respectively.

Of course, one can not examine this issue without considering PRICE. Fortunately, this Girl Reporter can rely on the work of others. From the TuftsObserver, Muddy Drawers: Sexonomic,  citing Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s book Superfreakonomics:

Superfreakonomics concentrates on the sex trade in the modern United States, more specifically on what the authors dub the “declining salary of prostitutes.” According to the authors, even the lowest-rent prostitutes in the 1910s made what amounts to $25,000 a year in today’s dollars, and women working at the most expensive brothels made over $430,000. Much has changed over the past century, and the average wage of prostitutes today “pales in comparison to the one enjoyed by even the low-rent prostitutes from a hundred years ago.” The book tells the story of a low-rent prostitute today, “LaSheena,” who makes about $350 a week working the streets in Chicago. This, according to the authors, is typical pay for prostitutes in America today.

Why the sharp decrease in salaries of prostitutes? Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, attributes this steep decline to a fall in demand. So why has the demand for prostitutes fallen? Are men today less horny than they were a hundred years ago? Probably not. Instead, Levitt attributes this decrease to something else: competition. It is no secret that sexual norms have evolved substantially, especially in the last couple of decades. The Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960s and the proliferation of contraceptive methods during the 1970s (especially the condom and the birth control pill) led to the “sexual revolution” of the United States. The sexual revolution was a period of loosening sexual norms and increasing sexual liberation. What does all of this have to do with prostitutes? When there are less stringent social norms, women are more likely to have sex before marriage. And when more women are having sex before marriage, men are less likely to seek out prostitutes. As Levitt puts it: “Who poses the greatest competition to a prostitute? Simple: any woman who is willing to have sex for free.”

http://tuftsobserver.org/2010/11/muddy-drawers-sexonomic/

So, Demand wins. Of course, I remember what my Mother told me very  early on,  “Men won’t buy a cow if they can get the milk for free. ” What she forgot to tell me  was,  “No matter how large the Supply of Cows.

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

Three Little Monkeys Pumping Thru The Fed!!!

Monkeys by williambanzai7 (http://www.zazzle.com/williambanzai7)

Three Little Monkeys Pumping Thru The Fed

by Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

Three Little Monkeys, pumping thru the Fed.
One was at the Treasury, a Figure Head!
But he had no head for figures, so the People said,
OMG! We wish he’d stayed at home in bed!

Two Little Monkeys, pumping thru the Fed
Qualitative Easing was for what one plead.
But the Qualitative Easing to Inflation led.
OMG! We wish he’d stayed at home in bed!

One Little Monkey, pumping thru the Fed.
When he saw the Budget, everything was RED.
“Hope and Change!”, and “Yes We Can!” won’t buy a loaf of bread.
OMG! We wish he’d stayed at home in bed!

Three Little Monkeys, all at home in bed.
Flung Poo at each other for a change instead.
They all got sick, from Monkey Poop, and ended up dead.
OMG! It served them right, the People said!!!

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

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