Blog Archives

Has California Lost The Mandate of Heaven?

In Chinese history, natural disasters were viewed as portents that the The Mandate of Heaven (tianming or “Heaven’s will”) had been withdrawn from the ruling dynasty. Broadening this concept a bit to regional dominance and power, we might ask: has California lost the Mandate of Heaven?

How many conflagrations does it take for it to sink in that the Golden State has lost its lustre in some profoundly karmic fashion?

How many messes of human excrement on our doorstep does it take to realize the situation will never get better, it can only get worse–much worse?

How many power blackouts, traffic gridlocks and mandatory evacuations does it take for those in denial to accept that the Mandate of Heaven has been withdrawn?

Young residents of the state have never experienced the velocity and depth of California’s famous busts. The last real spot of bother in California’s economy occurred almost 30 years ago in the early 1990s. Since then, it’s been one boom after another.

(more…)

Tagged with: ,

The War on Weed Is Winding Down – But Will Monsanto Be the Winner?

The war on cannabis that began in the 1930s seems to be coming to an end. Research shows that this natural plant, rather than posing a deadly danger to health, has a wide range of therapeutic benefits. But skeptics question the sudden push for legalization, which is largely funded by wealthy investors linked to Big Ag and Big Pharma.

In April, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, a form of the plant popularly known as marijuana. That makes nearly half of US states. A major barrier to broader legalization has been the federal law under which all cannabis – even the very useful form known as industrial hemp – is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance that cannot legally be grown in the US. But that classification could change soon. In a letter sent to federal lawmakers in April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said it plans to release a decision on rescheduling marijuana in the first half of 2016. (more…)

Tagged with: , ,

Building an Ark: How to Protect Public Revenues from the Next Meltdown

 

 

Concerns are growing that we are heading for another banking crisis, one that could be far worse than in 2008.  But this time, there will be no government bailouts. Instead, per the Dodd-Frank Act, bankrupt banks will be confiscating (or “bailing in”) their customers’ deposits.

That includes local government deposits. The fact that public funds are secured with collateral may not protect them, as explained earlier here. Derivative claims now get paid first in a bank bankruptcy; and derivative losses could be huge, wiping out the collateral for other claims. (more…)

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

California’s Top-Two Primary Eliminates Third-Party Rivals

Primary elections originated in the American progressive movement and were intended to take the power of candidate nomination away from party leaders and deliver it to the people.  California’s Top Two Primary takes power away from third parties representing the 99% and delivers it to the 1%.

Voters have increasingly become disillusioned with the Democratic and Republican Parties. According to a poll reported by Rasmussen in April, more than half the country believes that neither of the top two parties represents the American people. (more…)

Tagged with: , , ,

Robbing Main Street to Prop Up Wall Street: Why Jerry Brown’s Rainy Day Fund Is a Bad Idea

There is no need to sequester funds urgently needed by Main Street to pay for Wall Street’s malfeasance. Californians can have their cake and eat it too – with a state-owned bank.

Governor Jerry Brown is aggressively pushing a California state constitutional amendment requiring budget surpluses to be used to pay down municipal debt and create an emergency “rainy day” fund, in anticipation of the next economic crisis.

On the face of it, it is a sensible idea. As long as Wall Street controls America’s finances and our economy, another catastrophic bust is a good bet.

But a rainy day fund takes money off the table, setting aside funds we need now to reverse the damage done by Wall Street’s last collapse. The brutal cuts of 2008 and 2009 shrank the middle class and gave California the highest poverty rate in the country.

The costs of Wall Street gambling are being thrust on its primary victims. We are given the choice of restoring much-needed services or maintaining austerity conditions in order to pay Wall Street the next time it brings down the economy. (more…)

Tagged with: , , , , ,

The Stone that Brings Down Goliath? Richmond and Eminent Domain

In a nearly $13 billion settlement with the US Justice Department in November 2013, JPMorganChase admitted that it, along with every other large US bank, had engaged in mortgage fraud as a routine business practice, sowing the seeds of the mortgage meltdown. JPMorgan and other megabanks have now been caught in over a dozen major frauds, including LIBOR-rigging and bid-rigging; yet no prominent banker has gone to jail. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of all mortgages nationally remain underwater (meaning the balance owed exceeds the current value of the home), sapping homeowners’ budgets, the housing market and the economy. Since the banks, the courts and the federal government have failed to give adequate relief to homeowners, some cities are taking matters into their own hands.

Gayle McLaughlin, the bold mayor of Richmond, California, has gone where no woman dared go before, threatening to take underwater mortgages by eminent domain from Wall Street banks and renegotiate them on behalf of beleaguered homeowners. (more…)

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,