Just a short discussion of a few news stories for this weekend. Some strange things are happening.
Economic chaos? On Thursday, the Swiss bankers stopped trying to keep a cap on the value of the Swiss Franc, relative to the Euro, and the value of the Franc soared against the euro (and the dollar), triggering a major economic blow to the Swiss economy but benefiting hundreds of thousands of Swiss people who live at home but work in other countries, and ending the hemorrhaging of Swiss banks only to the detriment of Swiss industry and trade. I think this may be a consequence (one of several) of the Swiss election several weeks ago, in which they decided NOT to require that banks return to the old system of a gold-backed Franc and increase their gold reserves. It could trigger much greater damage to the economy of the EuroZone, and is already pushing the dollar to new highs against the Euro. I don’t think anyone can really predict the impact over the next several months. I do note that Swiss interest rates are officially “insane” – you must pay 0.75 percent for the “privilege” of storing your money in a Swiss bank now!
American police get a major hit. Incredibly, Fuehrer minion Eric Holder on Friday announced limits on the seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police. The Attorney General barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proving that a crime occurred. Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs. Now, I am not sure by what authority Holder did this, but of course, I’ve never understood how the stealing and sharing was legal or constitutional (much less moral) in the first place. The disgusting thing is that Congress should have done this long ago. Worse, I am not sure WHY Holder did this: he does NOT do things for moral or constitutional reasons. What do he and his putative boss gain from this?
Mama’s Note: Don’t start the celebration quite yet. From what I’ve been able to glean over the last day or so, this is another Holder bait and switch. Even if this action is truly intended to rein in a small portion of the FED confiscations, it will have little or no effect on the thefts perpetrated by most state and local cops. The “war on drugs” will continue, and that is the greatest driving force behind the “forfeitures.”
The Crash of 2009 continues, with this latest long-term trend: a majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty. For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation (so claims the Washington Post). American families are getting poorer, driven there by a vast array of federal, state, and even local programs: more taxes, more fees, more restrictions on private business that immediately result in lower wages paid and less profits for investors. But we have to remember that to too many government types, this is a GOOD thing: dependency on government grows as the number of people in official poverty grows.
Mama’s Note: Consider this.
In the United States of America:
1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet half of the population is subsidized.
2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.
3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.
4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.
5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet they want America to be more like those other countries.”
For over a year now, the prices of meat (beef, pork, and chicken – but beef and pork specifically) at the supermarket have been climbing to record new highs. Scott shared one of the latest stories about that with me: Steak and bacon get more expensive as cattle and hogs get scarcer (and fatter) (from the Guardian). He comments: “This article makes no sense. Does ethanol use up the entire grain – protein, oil and all? The process ought to destroy the lectins, making antibiotics unnecessary for livestock fed the residual grain.”
Scott is right: it doesn’t make sense. The analysis isn’t bad in some places, but really REALLY wrong in others. Among other things: (a) Actually, the byproducts (waste) from producing ethanol from corn produces a mash that is actually BETTER cattle and hog feed than the corn was. (I know this because I’ve done consulting in and around corn ethanol operations in eastern South Dakota.) Total quantity in volume and tons is less, because the fructose has been removed, but the quality is better and the digestion process is better: bluntly, the cows poop less for the amount of meat that they put on. (b) Ranchers did not “cull” their herds – this implies that they went out and aborted calves or killed them at or near birth. Poor weather means poorer grass and less corn, hay, or whatever to feed, so they put on less weight: this article saw that in hogs but apparently can’t leap in logic to understand that the reverse can be true, and applies to cows and chickens. You sell thinner cows, and you sell and butcher more calves and more yearlings before they breed and calve. (c) Large numbers of livestock were wiped out in the Northern Plains in October 2013, which depressed herd numbers. AND more and more federal rangeland is off-limits for livestock, again cutting availability of forage and space. All of these are factors.
I am apparently NOT the only person to think that the Pope’s got it wrong. And it is embarrassing that I agree with one of the Fuehrer’s shills. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday disagreed with Pope Francis’s comments on free speech, even when it applies to one’s religious faith. While admitting that he had not read all of the pope’s comments, Earnest said, “This is something that the pope would readily agree on. There is no act of public expression in terms of free speech that would in any way justify an act of violence.” Of course, I’d go a lot farther than Earnest: “… in any way justify the THREAT of an act of violence.” INCLUDING law enforcement and the threat of legal action as applied to commercial speech (cigarette commercials, anyone?) AND the right of people in schools and the public to express their political and religious opinions EVEN IF that speech offends someone. Or if in response to that speech, other people make threats against people, whether military or civilian. I cannot reconcile THIS statement with the Fuehrer’s speech on Monday… not in the least.
Mama’s Note: Now, that’s downright amazing. Maybe Josh can make the leap to understand that nothing can justify an act of violence except an attacking act of violence. Self defense violence is justified by an act of aggression.
Not My Problem. For some reason, the privileged one believes he/she should be able to dictate how others speak or act, yet totally rejects any limitations on their own behavior. How does that work? If mere words are seriously harmful, why doesn’t that work both ways?
There is never going to be a “one size fits all” definition of much of anything, nor universal agreement on even half a dozen definitions. We’ll have to negotiate our differences. That’s what arbitration is for… and perhaps good old fashioned dueling. There is a big difference between seeking agreement in a climate of courtesy and mutual respect, and “laws” that predetermine what can and can’t be said, and who can and can’t control that.