3 Obama Abominable Policy Decisions

The GOP Leadership is prepared to tell you that Barack Obama is the worst President in US History because they need  a scapegoat  for George W. Bush disastrous inJust consider the consequences of  Bush decisions. Bush systematically ignored all the September 9/11 warning signs preventing his administration from ‘connecting the dots that blasted into the World trade Center Towers and changed American History and policy for decades.

Bush  literally and figuratively flew over the Katrina ravaged New Orleans setting a new standard for ignnoring the needy. Bush’s DOJ and other finacial agencies were so crippled in fighting Wall Street excesses that the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 was made devastatingly crippling. And Bush ceded so many military and foreign policy  decisions to Dick Cheney that he, with his Gang of Draft Dodgers Neocons,  conjured up the Iraq War myths and got the US embroiled in disastrous  sectarian wars in the Mideast. So the GOP recriminations on Obamacare and Deficit Spending are wasted breath especially considering the GOP  have some very legitimate targets – let us call them the 3 Obama Abominable Policy decisions.

3 Decisions by the President were early, awful … actually, abominable. First, Obama gave a pass on investigating and prosecuting the Bush administration for building up its false case for the Iraq War. Clearly there was evidence for malfeasance but the political wisdom in the name of bipartisanship was “do not prosecute”. The supreme irony is that as GOP’s reward for these “pardons” was to plot during Obama’s inauguration by the GOP Congressional leadership their brutally Partisan and largely successful NO Sabotage Strategy against Obama.

The second abominable decision was similar in scope. Presidential advisers Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner argued that the Wall Street Banks were too weak and so the Wall Street executives responsible for the Financial Bubble and the need to break up the banks in effect had to be left left intact. Suffice it to say for these mercies the Obama administration was rewarded with very limited reduction in mortgage amounts by these same banks. And then to add to the insult, the Banks just bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions of government dollars, committed  a series of scandalous robosignings of mortgage foreclosures followed by LIBOR interest rate manipulations, massive illegal tax shelters for the wealthy and money laundering for drug lords and political tyrants.  In essence this decision set the tone for the kid glove treatment accorded to Wall Street executives.

The third abominable Obama decision was the appointment of Eric Holder as Attorney General. Before he was appointed, Eric Holder had worked as Covington & Burling partner – “no law firm has done more to protect Wall Street executives from the consequences of their criminal activities than Covington & Burling.  Their roster of clients includes every mega-bank in America: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America.” And Eric delivered for his banking clients while Attorney General – no prosecutions or disqualification of HSBC executives for blatant money laundering; no action against banks executives at JPMorgan-Chase,  Citigroup, Ally Financial, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and others for mortgage foreclosure illegal robosignings; no executive prosecutions just fines for Barclays, Credit Suisse , JPMorgan-Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland for Libor interest rate fixes; again just fines for Credit Suisse for tax evasion manipulations; just fines against BNP Paribas for evading financial sanctions, just fines for Bank of  Americas huge $17B fines for gross mortgage misconduct , and similar treatment of fines but no white collar prosecutions or disqualification of bank executives of ever working for any financial institutions for their financial  crimes from 2007 thriough 2011. This is the US Attorney General aiding and abetting defiance of the Rule of Law by Wall Street executives.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder REUTERS/Gary Cameron

So now what does the NYTimes tell us? The Justice Department after having the white collar crime barn door propped open for 6 long years by Attorney General Eric Holder is now going to be working hard to get white collar financial crime prosecutions. But who will be opposing the US Justice Department in getting those financial white collar convictions – why of course, ex-Attorney General Eric Holder who now works for his old law firm of Covington & Burling as a partner defending Wall Street Financial Executives.

Meanwhile the Justice Department under Eric Holder was responsible for allowing Police Actions against Blacks to get out of hand so we have the Black Lives Matter crisis. Congratulations Barack Obama you have not just General Shinseki at Veterans Affairs, Department of Health’s Katherine Sibelius, but most despicably Attorney General Eric Holder as proof that a)Government does not work,  b)the Democrats can rival the GOP for government executive incompetence of the highest order, and c)most tellingly, big money talks bigtime in the Beltway. But even, more amazing is the fact that the GOP lets all these issues slide and rather emphasize that Obama fails because  “he is not born in the US”, Syria/Libya/Benghazi “failures”, Obamacare “sucks”, the Iran deal betrays Israel and false Deficit concerns. No wonder the American public is increasingly skeptical of the Beltway politicians as reflected in the latest Presidential polls. Bernie Sanders has hit the Beltway nail right on the head –  by allowing unfettered corporate and wealthy  elites  to flood money into not just Beltway but politics at every level – government is subject to ever more  corrupting and corrosive effects and has become ever more dysfunctional and unable to deliver good policy for the majority of Americans.

Incoming Jobs Tsunami: WTF! Economy

timorIn the past week, Takethe5th has been describing the incoming Jobs Tsunami in which AI and massive processing capabilities now take over a large chunk of white collar as well as blue collar jobs. Well here is a conference by Silicon Valley Guru Tim O’Reilly called the Next Economy which confirms the pervasive nature of the Jobs Tsunami. It is Tim’s fundamental argument that grabs attention – “Every industry and every organization will have to transform itself in the next few years, in multiple ways, or fade away.

Here is a sample of the topics to be discussed:

WTF?! In San Francisco, Uber has 3x the revenue of the entire prior taxi and limousine industry.

WTF?! Without owning a single room, Airbnb has more rooms on offer than some of the largest hotel groups in the world. Airbnb has 800 employees, while Hilton has 152,000.

WTF?! Top Kickstarters raise tens of millions of dollars from tens of thousands of individual backers, amounts of capital that once required top-tier investment firms.

WTF?! What happens to all those Uber drivers when the cars start driving themselves? AI technologies are flying planes, driving cars, advising doctors on the best treatments, writing sports and financial news, and telling us all, in real time, the fastest way to get to work. They are also telling human workers when to show up and when to go home, based on real-time measurement of demand.The algorithm is the new shift boss.

WTF?! A fabled union organizer gives up on collective bargaining and instead teams up with a successful high tech entrepreneur and investor togo straight to the people with a local $15 minimum wage initiative that is soon copied around the country, outflanking a gridlocked political establishment in Washington.With a mobile era epithet, WTF!, Tim O’Reilly underlines the massive scope of incoming change in Work and Business. It is Silicon Valley powered and who better to observe that scene.

State of Canadian Labor Relations and Media Coverage



Friday, July 3rd,  there was a two day wildcat strike at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. On a busy summer weekend 37 then 50+ workers called in sick on Friday and Saturday disrupting traffic at the Airport. Here was the coverage of the event in the Toronto Newspapers:

Toronto GlobeandMailToronto StarToronto SunNational Post
Toronto GlobeandMail

Scores of passengers saw their plans disrupted Friday when about 100 flights at Toronto Pearson International Airport were cancelled and many others delayed as a result of an apparent protest by workers facing job losses when a refuelling contract changes hands later this year.

A union spokesman says 30 of 47 workers scheduled for the Friday morning shift called in sick, while others refused to work overtime. Just 17 of 56 workers showed up in the afternoon with one shift remaining to provide fuel for the rest of the day’s flights. “Basically these guys are all going to lose their jobs Oct. 1 and so I think frustration is the key phrase,” ….

A number of airlines are switching their refuelling business to Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG) in Toronto as of Oct. 1 and have already moved to Swissport in Montreal as of July 1.Trbovich said employees of Consolidated Aviation Fueling Services will have to apply for the same type of job at ASIG at lower wages and with no pension. Workers currently earning between $18 and 23 per hour will start at minimum wage up to a high of $14.

Toronto Star

A wildcat job action by workers who refuel aircraft has delayed or cancelled dozens of flights to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport on Friday.

“We are experiencing some delays and cancellations due to discussions between the airlines and the aircraft fueling company,” the airport said on its webpage. “Please check with your airline regarding flight information before proceeding to the airport.”

Delays of more than four hours were reported on Friday morning and flight delays and cancellations could get far worse throughout the day for various airlines using the airport.

As the disruption extended late into Friday afternoon, Air Canada issued a tweet announcing that change fees would be waived for flights on July 3, 4, and 5. This follows an announcement from earlier today allowing changes to Friday flights to be made without charge.

The Star went on to describe the disruption suffered by several passengers but no mention was made of the the loss of pay, pensions and even jobs to be suffered by the fuel workers on Oct 1.

Toronto Sun

Dozens of employees responsible for fuelling planes at Pearson airport called in sick Friday morning over a job action dispute which left passengers stranded.Employees with Consolidated Aviation Fuelling Services held a “sick-in” to protest job losses after Air Canada announced it was switching fuel providers….

Air Canada is switching its Toronto and Montreal fuel providers from Consolidated Aviation to ASIG in Toronto, effective Oct. 1, and to Swissport in Montreal, effective July 1. Trbovich says the fuelling staff are worried about job losses, benefits and pensions. “The airline walked away from the contract and can’t say they are the victim in this,” Trbovich said.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick says the airline isn’t involved in the labour dispute and that the disruption involves all airlines at the airport.”This is not a labour disruption between the airlines and their fuelling company,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is a labour disruption at Consolidated Aviation Fuelling Services which is affecting all airlines at Pearson. Delays and cancellations can be expected as a result and passengers should check on the status of their flight before getting to the airport.” The fuelling employees should be able to find work with the new company as their jobs are highly skilled and require strict security clearances, Fitzpatrick said.

Note like the Star, the Toronto Sun did not cite the fact that the fueling employees faced a cutback in wages of greater than 50% to just above minimum wage with no pension benefits despite the fact that “their jobs are highly skilled and require strict security clearances”. Given that assessment by Air Canada’s Fitzpatrick the obvious follow-up questions were whether Fitzpatrick would take a  new  PR job with a 50% drop in wages with no benefits and would the new minimum-wage employees enhance the security and reliability of fueling for domestic Air Canada flights.

National Post

More than two dozen flights were cancelled at Toronto’s Pearson Airport on Friday after a group of disgruntled staff did not show up to put fuel in the planes.More than 45 departing flights were cancelled as of Friday afternoon. The fuelling company, Consolidated Aviation Fueling of Toronto (CAFTL), said 60% of its employees unexpectedly took the day off. In a statement, CAFTL said the disruption is believed to be a “worker led response” to the airlines’ decision to cut ties with the company.

“We’re trying to contact our people to go back to work and they’re not doing it,” said Bill Trbovich, a spokesman with the International Associated of Machinists, which represents the CAFTL employees. “We didn’t condone it, OK? We didn’t know this was happening.” In October, CAFTL will no longer be the exclusive fuelling service at Pearson — with airlines independently entering into agreements with other companies.

Air Canada — one of the worst-affected airlines on Friday — issued a travel alert for Toronto Friday, citing an “airport disruption” and offering to waive penalties for passengers willing to change their travel plans.

“This is not a labour disruption between the airlines and their fueling company,” Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email. “This is a labour disruption at (CAFTL) which is affecting all airlines at Pearson.” Air Canada plans switch to ASIG for fuelling in Toronto on Oct. 1. In a statement Friday, Air Canada said the CAFTL employees that lose their jobs “would be able to apply for jobs at ASIG.”

“The airlines are saying they were innocent victims in this, which is a crock of sh-t,” Trbovich said. “They started it.” Thirty-five arriving flights were also cancelled, but not because of the dispute, the airport said. The fuelling-related cancellations make up less than 4 percent of the 841 scheduled departures from Pearson on Friday.

The National Post also failed to tell its readers that the fueling employees could have their jobs back at 50% less wages and no pension benefits.

Summary of News Coverage

Toronto is served by four major newspaper but only the Toronto GlobeandMail got the story right, telling the crucial facts about the cut in wages with no benefits being offered by the new Fueling company that has taken over already in Montreal and will be taking over Oct 1 this year in Toronto. The 3 major Toronto TV news networks[CBC, CTV and Global] also got the story right but only in later broadcasts and web stories. Curiously, the Toronto Sun which did not tell the wage and benefits rollback story did describe Air Canada PR spokesmen as saying ” their jobs are highly skilled and require strict security clearances”; so why hire a contractor that pays these highly skilled workers minimum wage and no benefits?

Finally, in the online commentary sections of the newspapers  one found that the reaction was largely sympathetic to the fueling workers because the commenters filled in the crucial wage gap information. But there were some Donald Trump Wannabee Trolls that scoffed at any injustice or danger insisting that the free markets would quickly correct for any over reach. “The airlines that were affected by the refueling problem should replace Consolidated Refueling with a non-union supplier and then the employees who booked off sick can be without a job permanently” or “ok yes the new company pays less, should government guarantee them wage levels? what level? 30, 50 or how about 100 an hour etc. no pal the free market works things out,, your industry going down hill, back to school etc, people have to adjust to reality.

Raiding the Consumption Commons

Like most developed countries in Europe and North America, Canada relies on Domestic Personal Consumption for 70% of its economy. A vigorous, consuming Middle class is vital to the prosperity of all Canadians. But this “labor disruption” is another example of the  Canadian Business laser-like focus on driving down labor costs regardless of consequences. True, it is only a very small set of workers and wages. However, given the existing nearly 7% unemployment rate in Canada and a contracting economy [once again the IMF downgraded Canada economic growth, this time from 2.2% to 1.5%] Canada can ill afford a business sector that is relentlessly cutting wages, benefits and jobs.

But even of greater concern is the Tsunami of new AI Automation that will be hitting developed economies over the next 5 years that will result in even more cutbacks in major job categories from train and truck driving, legal counsel, financial analysis, medical tests and interpretation, to story writing and project management. This next job cutting wave will effect white color workers as broadly and deeply as blue color jobs. Being able to secure a living wage is going to become ever more challenging. Worse, gaining a living wage without having to go into debt to get the education and  training  required is tough enough; but there is the added risk the jobs just trained for may disappear. This  is going to be the social and economic challenge of the next 20 years not just in Canada but throughout the World.

More worrisome is the fact that Canadian Business seems as oblivious and uncaring of the imminent jobs dangers as portions of the  Canadian media and government. Even  some of the public believes the punishing fiction that business markets are perfect and faultless allocators of wages and capital forgetting the recurring history of business triggered depression and financial turmoil, child labor and  draconian working conditions plus the passing of environmental costs onto the public. The libertarian ideal that the best government is less government is constantly at odds with harsh business reality of costs being passed onto governments, public and other businesses.


Bernie Sanders on Guns

You know that Senator Bernie Sanders is making inroads on the Democratic Presidential Primary when you see the latest polls on Iowa and New Hampshire which show Sanders narrowing the gap with front runner Hillary Clinton. Also stories in liberal websites like TheDailyBeast.com  have become more like Hillary attack ads such as the following graphic:
dbeastThe headine is Bernie Sanders parrots the NRA . Reading the piece one would get the impression that Senator Sanders votes en masse against gun control. This is far from the facts. Politifact shows that Sanders has a long history  of voting for gun control measures about half the time with votes for background checks and banning the sale of assault rifles occurring often. It is no surprise that Sanders gets a D rating from the NRA. But it is a surprise that theDailyBeast omits these facts  leaving it up to readers to get the more balanced view of facts from The Tampa Bay Times Politifact website which shows in detail all of the Bernie Sanders votes on gun control. Also In contrast, a more complete story by NPR shows a much more nuanced view of how Sanders the politician has approached gun control; particularly in recent years.


After reading this and other stories, political analyst Cliff Schecter has dropped a couple of big notches in my assessment of his ability to deliver a  political analysis with probity and fairness. Ditto for theDailyBeast and their coverage of the 2016 Presidential races. In contrast, I have found the Tampa Bay Politifact organization to be like the CBO-Congressional Budget Office,  a good source of balanced accounting and fact checking information.  And if you are looking for a summary of all the latest 2016 Presidential polls,RealClearPolitics does a top notch job both in summary and details. Yes Dorothy, there are some reliable media sources for basic political information.

Bernie Sanders Is The Real Deal

Reading Salon, CNN, NPR,  NYTimes, Washington Post, theDailyBeast, Politico and other popular political websites this Spring into Summer, one can see the transformation of Bernie Sanders as Democratic 2016 Presidential candidate with “no chance” thru “picking up steam” to “the real deal”. Will Bernie do an Obama on Hillary? Two months ago that would be deemed demented wishful-thinking. Now on the 4th of July, the odds given Hillary’s financing advantage and huge Democratic institutional support are still long. But clearly they are out from under  the Mission Impossible epithet.

Just look at the latest trends in the polls regarding the key primary races in Iowa and New Hampshire:
pollsiowaThis summary of polls is from RealClearPolitics.com.

Notice the trend in the Quinnipiac polls. In February Sanders has barely 5%. Two months later in April he is up to 15%. In June his numbers have more than doubled again to 33%. The same pattern occurs in New Hampshire which is the second 2016 primary state:
pollsnhThis summary of polls is from RealClearPolitics.com.

The contest is even closer in New Hampshire. But is also noteworthy that Sanders gains have come as much from other democratic candidates as from Hillary. Here is a good summary of why Bernie Sanders is popular in New England.  But even of greater interest is the coverage that Sanders is getting in the foreign press – here is a series of articles in Britain’s the Guardian which underlines the increasing polling popularity of the candidate and how that is translating into large campaign crowds and  funds.

Salon.com’s Sophia Tesfaye has written the best assessment of Bernie Sanders popularity. His strong  positions on  the Veteran Affairs Debacle, Occupy Wall Street Wealth Disparity issue, College Student Debt, Citizens United Unleashing Malevolent Campaign Financing Trends in US politics, and reinforcing Obamacare. These are all issues that in the current political paralysis other candidates turn a blind eye to. But even more important is the notion that Sanders is is returning to Hope and Change issues with renewed public support: “Sanders’ campaign, surely more so than that of any of the Republican candidates, seems to be gaining traction more for the ideas he espouses than because of a cult of personality.Granted, many supporters have pointed to Sanders’ straightforward manner and willingness to call out bad actors as refreshingly appealing, but unlike with Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Chris Christie, it isn’t just a brash style that’s being sold. Sanders makes a direct effort to address many of the issues that have arisen since the Hope & Change campaign of 2008 and it appears as though he is tapping into very real and long-simmering sentiments in the Democratic base.” So Bernie Sanders is a throw back to what the country is yearning for – politicians willing to address issues that have been left behind in the new era of complete obstruction and sabotage politics.

Twitter on Race

President Obama’s election in 2008 supposedly ushered in a Post-Racial Era in America. But actually Race ugliness vis a vis the President started early in 2008 with the birther nonsense caused by Hillary Clinton supporters sending out  thousands of emails calling into question Obama’s citizenship. The controversy crossed the aisle and was picked up by the GOP  through the Drudge Report and extended the controversy into 2011.

But perhaps the turning point in the  Post-Racial Era was signalled by GOP representative Joe Wilson shouting “You Lie” at President Obama in a Joint Session of Congress in 2009 – an unheard of event . This coincided with the backroom machinations by Senator Mitch McConnell who back in 2008 as Obama was being inaugurated formulated a policy of sabotaging any bipartisanship with Blanket Legislative No-votes to deny any policy victories for President Obama. The calculation by Senator McConnell was that failure to deliver infrastructure jobs, tuition and tax relief, and other Obama relief programs could be stalled in the Senate[with cynical repeated use of the cloture vote requiring 60 vote majorities] while the GOP could disguise their tactics by calling for more bipartisanship from the President. In the 2010 and 2014 elections the tactic worked as the Presidents popularity fell and  the GOP gained control of the Senate while enlarging its majority in the House.
Then a series of shootings by police and pseudo-police across the USA erased any notions of a Post Racial breakthrough as witnessed by the number of unarmed blacks killed by police over the last year:

Apr 30 2014 in Milwaukee Dontre Hamilton shot 14 times by a police officer outside a Starbucks.
May 31 2014 in Cleveland Ohio an unarmed black couple, Timothy Russell and Melissa Williams, are shot at 100 times. After stopping after 25 minute traffic chase,  shooting had subsided but Officer Brelo got on the hood of the car and shot through the windshield 15 more times.  5  were fatal shots. A white Cleveland judge just cleared Brelo of any charges.
Jul 17, 2014 in NYC Eric Garner is choked to death by police even after calling out 11 times “I can’t breath”.
Aug 5 2014 in Dayton Ohio John Crawford is shot by police because he was carrying a bb-gun.
Aug 9 2014 in Ferguson Missouri is shot death despite being unarmed. DOJ declines to prosecute.
Aug 11 2014 in Florence California unarmed Ezell Ford is shot dead by police officer, once in the back.
Aug 12 2014 in Victorville California  Dante Parker, father of 5, is tased to death. Investigation ongoing.
Nov 13 2014 in Cleveland Ohio Tanisha Anderson is killed when police bash her head against the pavement.
Nov 20 2014 in NYC unarmed Akai Gurley shot by police in stairwell walking with his girl friend.
Nov 22 2014 in Cleveland Ohio 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot within 10 seconds of police arrival on the scene as police officers “mistake” a toy gun for the real thing.
Dec 2 2014 in Phoenix Arizona Rumain Brisbon is shot dead by police when a bottle is mistaken for being a weapon.
Dec 30 2014 in Bridgeton New Jersey Jerame Reid is shot dead while exiting with hands up from car.
Mar 6 2015 in Madison Wisconsin unarmed Tony Robinson is shot 3 times by police officer.
Mar 30 2015 in Vineland New Jersey  Phillip White dies in police custody,. There is ongoing investigation.
Apr 2 2015 in Tulsa Oklahoma unarmed Eric Harris was shot when officer  “mistakenly” used gun instead of taser.
Apr 4 2015 in Charleston South Carolina unarmed Walter Scott is shot in the back by police officer.
Apr 19 2015 in Baltimore Maryland Freddie Gray dies of spinal cord injuries in police van.
18 unarmed Black deaths by police provide ample proof that the racial divide, especially in policing, is still well entrenched.

Finally Salon magazine did a story about the President getting a Twitter account. I had a bad feeling:
And Twitter followers did not disappoint my expectations of bad Tweets  for POTUS – lots of trolls, name-calling, 140 characters of incivility and an ample layering of racial hate mongering. And so there you have it, Racism is alive and well in the USofA!

Ted on Jobs

This Ted Talk by Andrew Mcafee is supercalifragilisticexpialidociously optimistic about jobs:

AI Driving Away with Trucking Jobs

AI Driving Away with Trucking Jobs

There are four existential wicked problems of increasing danger facing the World:
1)Man made climate change that demands  wrenching alterations in how energy is produced and used worldwide;
2)Income inequality growing at exponential rates in both developed and developing countries. The ever more concentrated wealth  concentrated in the elite 1% is undermining basic political processes within and between countries worldwide;
3)Long festering religious strife that fosters increasingly violent and widespread slaughters of “infidels”;
4)the increasing scarcity of jobs as AI and automation move ever higher in the job hierarchy taking over not just blue color manual jobs but now white collar knowledge  jobs in service, analysis and decisionmaking. These loss of jobs are not being replaced by new and better jobs but rather few and poorer paying positions. Unemployment rates and schooling debts among youth now reach into every continent and at alarming levels. This lack of employment and opportunity for betterment permeates all societies and feeds Wicked Problems 2) and 3).

Now tell me again why we should not prepare for Lack of Jobs Becoming the Tipping Point to International Crises? And just when Government needs to formulate a very intelligent response to the problem – the GOP has destroyed the  workings of  government. Just like the GOP’s Starve the Beast Policy initiated by Ronald Reagan which  was designed to create deliberate and massive deficits so across the board cutbacks would have to be made to everything but tax relief for the wealthy  and defense spending. Now the new focus by the TeaParty and Senator McConnell is to sabotage government elective and legislative processes so “we have proof that government is not working” and we can force our agenda. So 6 more years and counting of bitter, divisive, and partisan politics [the very things the electorate wanted to eliminate back in 2006 and 2008] means government will be ill-prepared to cope with the coming Massive Job Drought. And the Executive Suite embraces the Job Drought because they can reduce their marginal wages costs to zero.   Wow, sounds like the recipe for economic and social disaster.

Crains – A third of the $3trillion knowledge worker economy is up for grabs by AI substitutes.
TechRepublic – AI taking away more jobs than it creates
Pew Research – some very educated projections on the state of the IT + AI art to 2025
Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford – Silicon Valley expert’s dire warning
Shadow Work by Craig Lambert – the unpaid, unseen work left after AI takes over
The Second Machine Age by Byrnjolfsson and McAfee – states the job-technology problem but no help
Lights in the Tunnel by Martin Ford – First look at AI+Computing automating away knowledge jobs
Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin – economic implications of production revolution
Race Against the Machine by Byrnjolfsson – First look at  the 2nd machine age
No Ordinary Disruption by Dobbs et alia – another Pollyanna look at the problem

A Gagging Dose of Diana Furchtgott-Roth at MarketWatch

dianaFurchtgott-Roth_100The WSJ’s sibling website Marketwatch has a resident liberally bearish voice , Paul Farrell, who regularly rains hell and brimstone on the perpetual bull market, climate change consequences and his latest tirade, the Inequality Bubble Is Accelerating. To balance that blue point of view, Marketwatch needed an Ann Coulter-like bloody red flak attacks . Voila Diana Furchtgott-Roth – More military spending could actually save the U.S. money5 reasons to counter climate-change regulation and 5 reasons Janet Yellen shouldn’t focus on income inequality. Perhaps not the cynical conservative slashings of Ann Coulter but still  prime red meat.

But her latest column is Gagging at the Mouth GOP Claptrap:The best way to “spread the wealth” is to leave it in the hands of the wealthy and Outsourcing makes Americans better off and Sea levels aren’t rising. If climate change were resulting in rising sea levels, coastal homes would not go for such fabulous sums. Rather, properties near the sea would be dropping in value every year. A quick look at the “Mansion” section of Friday’s Wall Street Journal shows that this isn’t happening.

Ohh… sorry these are not the views of Diana but rather her editor, John Tamny at RealClearMarkets.com. My apologies, Diana. You go girl with your own GOP claptrap – New Congress breaks into action with smart bills correcting Marketwatch’s Rex Nutting and The five dumbest things Congress did in its first 100 days.

Marketwatch, a Rupert Murdoch property, is at least a couple steps ahead of that other Rupert Murdoch tribute to Freedom of the Press, Fox News.  No, Marketwatch has not come close to matching Fox New’s record breaking 50 Lies in 6 seconds; but Marketwatch is doing its best to meet Rupert’s “New Press” standard for screeds, uncivility, and partisan propaganda. And so Rupert through Marketwatch and other press properties is hacking away at the value of Freedom of the Press by making his properties success keyed on new lows of shrillness and untrustworthy reporting. And to think, Rupert’s Fox News will, despite its 50 Lies in 6 seconds, get to sponsor a Presidential Debate.

Bibi Netanyahu : Duplicitous

bibi1It appears that after the Israeli election that Palestinian Premier Mahmoud Abbas, President Barack Obama  and other Western leaders will be safe in identifying Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu as two-faced, cheating, deceitful, dishonest, serpent-tongued, shady, and a two-timing double-dealer. Certainly BibI  Netanyahu will not be accused of honesty and trustworthiness. The NYTimes and theGuardian list the most grievous electoral travesties and about-faces as:
1)”I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel.” – this comment  breaks the Netanyahu commitment to a two state solution in 2009 and confirms the stark reality of 6 years of fruitless negotiations with the Palestinians which has been Bibi debased.There are dire consequences for this stand. Bibi needs the support of Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the US for any “defensive strikes against Iran” and the Arab group likely will not budge unless tangible movement to a Palestinian statehood has been made by Israel.

In addition, the reality of the slow Israeli invasion of Westbank through controversial settlements, a point of contention between Europe and the US versus Israel comes more sharply into focus. Literally, Bibi condoned settlements to swallow up Arab land:

Settler population 1948 1972 1977 1980 1983 1993 2004 2007 2010 2014
West Bank (excluding Jerusalem) 480 1,182 3,200
17,400 22,800 111,600 234,500 276,500 314,100 400,000
Gaza Strip 2 30 700  500  900 900 4,800 7,826 0 0 0
Golan Heights 0 77 6,800 12,600 17,265 18,692 19,797 21,000
East Jerusalem 2,300 8,649 76,095 152,800 181,587 189,708 198,629 300,000-350,000
Total 2,810 10,608 106,595 281,800 441,178 485,170 532,526 721,000-771,000

Reversing this Israeli occupational tide through “land transfers” and closing of Israeli settlements will be ‘nigh impossible’ given the popular resistance in 2005-2006 to abandoning the small Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip of less than 8,000 Israeli  settlers.
2)”Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses.”
Even Israel’s more right wing media pulled Netanyahu up on his election night claim that his rivals were bussing in Arab voters in order to defeat Likud. Not the least, critics pointed out, because Arabs in Israel have as much democratic right to vote as Israeli Jews. And this  violence has consequences in Israel between Arab and Jewish citizens. In the West, only the Arab on Israeli violence gets media play; but the reverse – Israeli violence on native Arabs is also widespread and just got a Bibi “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” greenlight.
3)If Tzipi [Livni] and Bougie [Isaac Herzog] form a government, Hamastan B will be established here.
The many variations on these remarks by Bibi imply that the opposition party is in cahoots with Palestinian, leftists and overseas radical elements – all conspiring to do in Bibi and the Likud party. This abjectly false and  bitterly partisan ad-hominem  series of attacks  make US political partisanship [“Obama is the worst President in US History”] look tame.
4)Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews and this […] is expected to continue. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe.
These remarks are extremely  unpopular in Europe which sees itself with growing differences with Israel. There is a strong group looking to bring economic sanctions, boycotts, and other restrictions used to prod Israel into more movement on Palestinian statehood. The gulf has gotten wider since the Charlie Hebdo, Belgian, and Danish attacks with Bibi calling for Jews to leave Europe.
5)American money [is] bringing the Arabs to the ballot box.
This is one of many tirades against Americans, and even American Jews living in Israel. Blatant and partisan attacks against President Obama are just the tip of the iceberg of antipathy between the US and Israel. This is an Israel which gets $3-5 billion per year for the past 30 years and  has gotten  often solitary US blank-check vetoes in the UN  against any limitations on Israel’s actions for six decades.

In sum, two-faced Bibi has an enormous task of repairing fences worldwide which the NYTImes credited the Supreme Political Chameleon, already in full damage control mode, fully capable of turning an about face:
“By the night’s end, Mr. Netanyahu, seemed to realize he needed to recalibrate his message. In a late night speech claiming victory,he spoke of delivering security and social welfare ‘to all citizens of  Israel , Jews and non-Jew alike.’

Ahhh,  recalibration of forked tongue-speak which becomes the master-stroke of a politican whose end justifies the means. And Aluf Benn, in his evaluation of Netanyahu strategy in the election is profusely praiseful of Bibi – “Netanyahu deployed the politics of fear. It worked like magic”. Benn could cite the same rascist and fear-mongering magic deployed by an Austrian politician in the failing years of the Weimar Republic of 1931 to 1933.

USA: Israel’s Flak Catcher

The USA has been Israel’s Flak Catcher for the past 6 decades by virtue of its military aid and staunchly protective UN Security Council vetoes for Israel. This flak-catching role has been increasingly hazardous reaching a disastrous  peak in the 911 attacks on New York City. Here is Osama Bin Laden’s justification to the US People for that attack:

“(1) Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.

a) You attacked us in Palestine:

(i) Palestine, which has sunk under military occupation for more than 80 years. The British handed over Palestine, with your help and your support, to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than 50 years; years overflowing with oppression, tyranny, crimes, killing, expulsion, destruction and devastation. The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel. The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its*price, and pay for it heavily.

(ii) It brings us both laughter and tears to see that you have not yet tired of repeating your fabricated lies that the Jews have a historical right to Palestine, as it was promised to them in the Torah. Anyone who disputes with them on this alleged fact is accused of anti-semitism. This is one of the most fallacious, widely-circulated fabrications in history. The people of Palestine are pure Arabs and original Semites. It is the Muslims who are the inheritors of Moses (peace be upon him) and the inheritors of the real Torah that has not been changed. Muslims believe in all of the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all. If the followers of Moses have been promised a right to Palestine in the Torah, then the Muslims are the most worthy nation of this.”

Bin Laden then went on to cite US support for  actions against Muslims in Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya,Lebanon, Kashmir, Iraq and elsewhere. Bin Laden was particularly scornful of the Arab prison in Guantanamo where hundreds of Arabs are detained without trial. But clearly the increasingly repressive confiscation of Palestine by Israel is the major point of contention and conflict.

What the US and Europe will have to weigh carefully in the near future is whether  they can continue to offer unconditional support to Israel when the lie of negotiating towards a Palestinian state has been clearly exposed and declared by Bibi Netanyahu. Terrorists like the Tunis murderers today will have the excuse that the US and Europe show false support for Muslim causes as long as this blank check support is accorded to Israel.

Yes,  the Muslim religion is morally reprehensible with its allowance of savage attacks on “infidels” as seen in the Tunisian attacks on tourists, the slaughtering of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, and unrelenting attacks on  “Muslim infidels”. This sectarian violence is a perversion of the Muslim faith that mainstream Muslims have not been able to control. But likewise, Israelis have been unable to control the increasing duplicitous dealings of its Prime Minister indicating either that Bibi has the tacit permission for “no Palestinian State” and less and less of full citizenship for Israeli Arabs, American Jews settling in Israel and Ethiopian and other minority group Jews. Privilege is accorded a few ‘right’ Jews – sounds like Muslim exceptionalism. .

The Passing of Logic, Science, and Mr. Spock

000fixLeonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, passed away at 83 last Friday and captured the collective conscious in unexpected ways. Marketwatch, the blog of Wall Street, published a bulletin reserved for big Bull or Bear market movements on the day. The news captured headlines at the NYTimes, Entertainment Weekly, Toronto Globe and Mail, TheGuardian, Sydney Morning Herald, Luxemburger Wort, France 24, etc, etc. The news traveled with Internet speed and was featured on all the major evening newscasts in  Canada and the United States. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr all lit up with hundreds of personal messages of grief.

Google Trends showed strong pulses of reaction in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada,  Columbia, Chile, France, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Spain, Sweden,UK, USA, etc.mrspock

In sum, Mr. Spock’s passing touched the World Psyche on a day filled with great irrationality and illogic:
– 7 Missourians killed in yet another senseless gun rampage in the USA.
– Vladimir Putin’s Russia emerges starkly Stalinist with the killing of his political critic Nemtsov.
– Israeli Premier Bibi Netanyahu comes election barnstorming to Washington barely invited.
– House Republicans desert their leader and virtually shutdown Homeland Security amid a terror filled World.
– ISIS raises the level of its barbarity yet again with attacks on art, Christians, and women.
And as coping mechanism many again just tuned out segments of the news. But this repeated withdrawal from reality has consequences.

Reality aversion by tuning out sustains profound reality denial. This is a topic covered in several Star Trek episodes. For example, see Denial of Destiny. Denialists succumb to acceptance of truthiness where a person makes an argument or assertion claiming to know intuitively “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts- see here for origins.  In the worst case, there is acquiescence to authority in Milgram fashion.

The reaction to Leonard Nimoy’s death is the contemporary realization that Mr. Spock’s  LLAP – Live Long And Prosper is becoming a more distant possibility as jobs become more scarce and lower paying as evidenced by  participation in the labor force reaching new lows in North America while Wealth Inequality expands.Trickle-down Economics has gutted the Middle Class to the massive benefit of the 1% Wealthy. So beware of the political dogs that bark  that we must give tax breaks to the “Job Creators”. This deception for profit is a theme in several Star Trek episodes including Profit and Loss and False Profit.

Data from World Bank

We see this Ponzi scheme enacted today as business worldwide works relentlessly to increase profits by lowering wages and  cutting jobs. But most economies are dependent on robust consumer consumption for their growth and prosperity. So it is too often repeated Tragedy of the Commons, where Businesses own cutbacks threaten their own profitability.  As a result of this short-sighted business tactic, the  labor participation rate has steadily declined from a high of 67.3%  in 1999 to only 62.9% of the US labor force working. That 4.6% drop represents 7 million workers who used to be  employed. Unemployment is a world wide problem particularly high in Europe and the Middle East.

Likewise, in what Spock would identify as “most illogical”, the same pattern is seen in the decline of median income [adjusted for inflation] with a high of  $56,200  to a current low of $51,000 – Middle class incomes have steadily declined while the 1% rich incomes and wealth have skyrocketed – and this is a worldwide phenomenon. No doubt there has been a recovery from the 2007-2009 Great Recession but the biggest beneficiaries have largely been confined to the stock markets on Wall Street, London, Zurich and  Hong Kong.

The Decline of Science

In the 1950’s and 1960’s Ronald Reagan used to host General Electric Theater on NBC where he promised that “Progress was GE’s most important product”. Ronnie didn’t have to add “Progress for all” because that went without saying as Science was making life better throughout the World with spectacular improvements in  computers, telecommunications, drugs, agricultural devices and food production, home appliances, etc.


The Space Race was on and the US  and other developed nations were putting ever more emphasis on maths, science and engineering from grade school  through college. Science  was uncovering both the start of the  Universe and the Origin of  Man. The whole world was a beehive of activity and discovery through science. And Star Trek celebrated that World of Science & Discovery with its very mission statement:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Invention, discovery and science were prized and celebrated – and no more so than on Star Trek..

Fast forward 50 years. True, US leadership in Science continues unabated at the upper echelons but signs of distemper also abound:
– Science & engineering enrollment is declining slowly  in the US as foreign students displace US students who have moved to Finance and Law.
– Climate change deniers have managed to slow if not halt climate change controls in both the US and Canada despite growing weather extremes and continuing evidence of  environmental overheating.
– More broadly PR Merchants of Doubt use  refined propaganda techniques  and the  truthiness  phenomenon to delay, diminish and neutralize science-based control of health, environmental, and climate issues. For example delays in smoking regulations  kills 7.5 million/year  of Lung Diseases including Leonard Nimoy.
– And to see Truthiness in action look at the Creationism vs Evolution Debate and the Texas School Book controversies on the topic.
In sum, Science is being systematically discredited by various groups but most tellingly by major businesses who on one hand depend on science and engineering for their very well being; but on the other hand use devious methods to sow doubt about science when “its in their interests“.

Finally, there is another undercurrent against Science – its human cost. There is no doubt that major  industries have been changed in how they do their business several times over in the past 50 years.  Just ask the VHS then CD then DVD  then Cloud Drive providers. Or consider musical, image, writing and journal/press talent with their multiple upheavals over the past 40 years with PCs, mobile devices and  then the  Internet. Or assembly line works in countless industries who have seen multiple changes in how their work is done and whether they will even have a job. Meanwhile the cost of getting a Science or Engineering education is rising 4 times  faster than inflation and at 1012% since 1978 surpassing even notorious health care cost rises at 610%. Worse the benefits of getting a degree are also declining.

This employment vs educational cost disparity has been the subject of continuing evaluation. Star Trek visited the issue in the episode Past Tense part II. Here is a contemporary review from the Issues of Science entitled Anticipating a Luddite Revival. The writer, Stuart Elliott, examines how a new wave of advanced Artificial Intelligence apps could revolutionize manufacturing, delivery of medicine,legal processing, and operation of commercial transportation networks among other business and industry sectors. Here is the crux of the argument:

In principle, there is no problem with imagining a transformation in the labor market that substitutes technology for workers for 80% of current jobs and then expands employment in the remaining 20% to absorb the entire labor force. Considering the contrasts across the occupational groups in Table 3, such a change might involve a drastic reduction in sales, management, administration, construction, maintenance, and food service work accompanied by a massive expansion in health care, education, science, engineering, and law.

The United States experienced a labor market transformation of this scale between the early 19th and the late 20th century, when the portion of the workforce employed in agriculture shifted from roughly 80% to just a few percent. However, in the shift out of agriculture, the transformation took place over a century and a half, not several decades.

Clearly this argument is a repeat of the often made aphorism – “for every job lost more than another is created.”
Of course the problems with such labor transfers is manifold:
1)Will the new jobs created appear as fast as the old ones are lost;
2)Will the displaced workers have the skills to take on the newly created jobs;
3)Will the “massive expansion of jobs” match the possibly more massive loss of jobs;
4)Will the pay for the new jobs match or exceed those for the old ones.
And this job displacement will take place in a business climate where the top 1% are more than amply rewarded while the lower 80% have seen not only their incomes decline but their total taxes paid as % of income rise while the 1% are now paying lowest taxes in decades. Clearly Science as the major agent of change will not be wholly welcome. To which Mr. Spock might argue “The whole model is illogical. Equal opportunity for  prosperity and well-being for all is Society’s Prime Moral Directive.

Logic Shaken

To Mr Spock logic and morality are one in the same thing – what is logical is also what is morally fit and right. But world wide, morality and logic are under social siege.
– one sect of Islam sees  a moral right to attack, enslave and kill any infidels including rival Islam sects.
– worldwide major financial institutions who depend on the rule of law to maintain  the validity of  their millions of contracts flaunt that same rule of law regarding their own actions. No NewYork, London, Paris, Zurich, Singapore,  HongKong or Tokyo  banker has  been banned from holding financial office nor gone to jail for their transgressions in not just the worldwide 2007-2009  mortgage and derivative-based crisis but ongoing gross financial misconduct including massive money laundering, huge tax evasion dealings,  Libor interest rate manipulations  among a continuing stream of financial misdeeds.
– the US Supreme Court under the guise of Freedom of Speech has allowed  organizational executives to speak and spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns without recourse or approval of the organization’s shareholders, employees, suppliers or customers. This has unleashed huge political spending and influence peddling on Federal, State and Local politicians and governments.
– major news media  in the US, Britain, and Australia [almost all Rupert Murdoch properties] flaunt any semblance of truth as “opinion pieces”. The classic catching of the journalists with their moral pants down is the Jon Stewart video – 50 Fox News lies in 6 seconds. The problem is  the Fox  network gets to moderate a Presidential debate and so its  libelous behavior get legitimized much like the Wall Street bankers who escape prosecution and censure – and having gotten off Scott Free are in the process of repeating their financial shenanigans including endangering the Financial System with another very profitable but increasingly risky Derivative-based Bubble.

Each of these illogical behaviors has a contradiction at its core. A religion, Islam,  whose moral code enables/condones killing of “infidels” including mostly other Muslims. Finance which is dependent on rule of law flaunts it in the executive suite where legal transgressions has now been factored in “as the cost of doing big financial business”. US Supreme Court whose role in government is to make rulings that are respectful of precedence, while balancing evolving social mores with  non-partisan judgments  has become patently partisan in the past 10 years. News media which are expected to be fair, balanced and non-partisan have switched to infotainment where opinion pieces provide the cover for biased, partisan, and deliberately deceitful coverage. And these logical contradictions persist because accountability has faltered with counter-balancing institutions  failing  to censor or check the offending organizations  and their most deviant players.


Now it is only a 70-year lifetime ago when the World was concluding an all consuming Second Earth-wide War of horrific proportions. It was a war of immoral logic which had an Ideology of Supremacy threatening to thrust the rule  “Might and Right can  impose its will on any and all that oppose its absolute rule” upon the World. It is notable the writers of Star Trek envisioned a future World of Universal Conflict where Earth and Spock’s Vulcan race and logic were an outpost against such tyranny.It is also interesting that the Star Trek writers added empathy in episodes like Empath and  as a trait for characters like Counselor Troi and Captain Picard – acting as antidote against aggressive tyranny.

But it is also vital to realize that the Vulcan’s absolute, stoic, emotionless devotion to the dictates of logic just would not work in  humans. Emotions are crucial to writing the value of experiences in human learning and behavior. Leonard Nimoy recognized this in his book I Am Not Spock where emotion and humour are on full display. 20 Years later in 1995 and after a successful career in acting directing, photography and poetry, Leonard wrote I Am Spock where he celebrated  human emotion and humor but also the worth of rigorous logic and science. The World would do well to observe Leonard’s final epilogue  – “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Live long and prosper”. As logic and science dim, a fictional but fine spokesman for them has passed away.