Jeffrey Neil Jackson

The Fed’s Fiduciary Fumble

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The Covid pandemic created a lot of economic changes. Privileged employees who taunt their employers and claim they will never return to their office. Wages moved up because of a lack of talent. (“Talent” is human resource jargon for employees.) Members of the U.S. Congress made high-yielding stock purchases because of inside information, and now dare their constituents to try to make such inside information trades illegal while they waive their gains in the face of their electorates.

Some information before we continue. There is a public organization called the Federal Reserve System. No, wait, it is a private organization. No, wait, the Fed, as it is called, is, um, both. Owned by the banks (big ones, naturally) the Fed is a privately held public organization, and don’t you dare ask the names of those banks. After all, knowing the names of those banks would open to public scrutiny decisions about interest rates charged to the public, and we just can’t have that, now can we? After all, private organizations that have a vested interest in public policy deserve their privacy, now don’t they? If only they were on Facebook, then we could buy all of their personal information, but no, they have far too much money for that to happen.

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Trucks, Terrain, Trepidation

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The pickup truck and SUV markets in the U.S. increased by 9.9% between 2019 and 2022, let’s just say 10% for the sake for simplicity. More and more people seem to be wanting buy an SUV or a pickup truck and venture out into the wilderness, at least that’s what the commercials are reflecting. No matter what brand we are looking at, commercials show their owners (mostly fairly young) taking their vehicles out where any sign of human civilization cannot be seen. The new owners crave to be In The Middle Of Nowhere, or, ITMON, a new acronym. 

The truck/SUV owners are “exploring” places where the roads aren’t paved, no speed limit signs, traffic signals. There are also no fueling stations, food, water, toilets, emergency services, doctors, nurses or walk-on clinics. Just buy this truck/SUV and get out there in the Great Outdoors, get yourself ITMON. New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Vermont and Oregon have laws that allow rescue services to bill you if you get yourself in a bad situation out ITMON and need to be rescued.  These bills can run up to $5,000 if the rangers have to do a lot to find you, especially in the middle of the night.

I have seen a fair number of younger people buy 4-wheel drive trucks with the specific purpose of using them to tear up the countryside. It seems these young truck owners are in competition to see who can tear up more of the landscape. We can’t be sure if the truck manufacturers condone such behavior, but their commercials certainly don’t discourage it.

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Scrapping the Slippery Slope Supposition

Not a lawyer, but took a few law classes; the professors taught the law classes as if they were teaching in law school. The constitutional law professor (Harvard grad, by the way) stated that there were aspects of the law that our Supreme Court deliberately stayed away from, because they were “slippery slope” issues. Welcome to the slippery slope, America.

The recent decision, which will probably be known as Dobb v. Jackson, turned to federalism. “Turned to federalism” means the issue has been turned back to the states to decide for themselves. The federal protection of abortion is no more. The SCOTUS decided that the federal protection of the right to get an abortion was not constitutional, that is to say, there is nothing in our Constitution that guarantees the right to get an abortion; Roe v. Wade is overturned.

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Wrecking the Refund Reckoning

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The student debt problem remains, but there are always options.  Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.,  Maxine Waters, D-Calif. and Senator Elizabeth Warren, like spoiled children who can’t get what they want the fair and proven legislative way, will create a workaround. The aforementioned representatives are suggesting, or, even insisting, that President Biden achieve what they cannot accomplish via legislation by issuing an executive order relieving millions from their student debt.  An executive order would be a great boon (in the way of votes) for the Democrats who pushed for it. Look for such a move close to the election, where it will be firmly in the minds of voters.

To quote Senator Elizabeth Warren: “Student loan debt is crushing millions, especially during this pandemic. It’s an anchor dragging down our struggling economy.” So adding trillions to the government debt will be a good economic move?

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AOC’s Atrocious Assessment

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (from this point described as AOC) has determined capitalism in the United States as “irredeemable.”  AOC has a degree (cum laude) in economics and international relations from Boston University. So a member of the U.S. Congress with an economics degree describes capitalism as: “Capitalism is an ideology of capital-the most important thing is the concentration of capital and maximize profit.” While the aforementioned quote is a great summary of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, there are other considerations regarding capitalism.

Capitalism was outlined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations in1776, with the newly-minted United States as an “early adopter” (gosh, I’m sure I heard that somewhere else.) Mercantilism, which preceded capitalism, was the fruitless feudal attempt of the nobility to retain the wealth created by the peasants and serfs. The United States gave up the feudal system and set out on a capitalist journey after fighting off the greatest power on earth. In case you are wondering, Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the states from granting titles of nobility, that is, prince, duke, or any other title to a citizen. In short, the founding fathers had enough of kings and royalty. (I’m sure they would have exempted Elvis, but that’s another essay.)

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Pugnacious Putin’s Presentiment

With 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, Vladimir Putin (whatever his title) is playing a very dangerous game. Putin wants the Ukraine. His Russia is not enough for him. Like any power-hungry autocrat, the largest country on the globe is not enough. Putin doesn’t want to “liberate” Ukraine; he wants to enslave it, although he will put any conflict in terms of a “liberation.” He will also explain any conflict as being Ukraine started by the Ukraine, even though the Ukraine has no interest in attacking Russia.

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COVID-19, Conspiracies, and Corpses

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Before year 2020, what does not kill me makes me stronger. After the year 2020, it mutates and tries again. Freedom in the Unites States means you can choose to die if you wish. You have the right to refuse to wear a mask, and the organizations that you visit have the right to refuse you entry into their property if you decline to wear said mask. The reason these organizations have the right to refuse your entry is because you do not have the right to infect other people. When your rights impose a risk to other citizens, it becomes a societal problem.

Historically, free speech in the United States has seen limitations. You cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theatre.  Free speech ends when it threatens lives of other citizens. Citizens have been tried for manslaughter when they urged other citizens to kill themselves.  The great thing about the United States is that you may listen and follow the advice, no matter how naïve, of other citizens. If that advice results in your demise, then the mistake is yours, a decision you are free to make.

You may believe that you have the right to consume intoxicants and operate a vehicle, but if your behavior threatens the safety of other citizens, that right impinges on other citizens who have the right to be protected from your behavior.  As a citizen, you have the right to refuse vaccination, which in some cases, has cost people their lives.  Social media has become saturated with uncredentialed self-proclaimed “experts” who have found numerous reasons why you shouldn’t be vaccinated.  These experts have reasons too long to discuss in this essay. Statistically speaking, there is, and I will not deny it, a small amount of risk if you get vaccinated, since the vaccine has not been tested on millions of people, but that risk is very, very small.

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Salad Days, Swindling, and Social Media

In November of 1964, Jack Weinberg posed the phrase “don’t trust anyone over 30.”  While this phrase has been attributed to the Beatles, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin, all icons of the 1960s, research finds that Mr. Weinberg coined the phrase when he was a member of the Free Speech Movement. 

While a free speech is a tenant of the United States and a right outlined in our Constitution, from our founding fathers to Mr. Weinberg, few could imagine what technology has brought us.  Social media has redefined free speech in a manner never imagined over two-hundred years ago. While free speech is protected by law, its amplification has exceeded anything imaginable two-hundred years ago.

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Reporting, Reproach, and Our Republic

According to The Wall Street Journal of September 18, 2021, on September 17, 2021 attorney Michael Sussman was indicted by Special Counsel John Durham for lying to the FBI regarding Donald Trump’s association with Russians. Specifically, Sussman (allegedly) lied about the Russian-based Alfa Bank and the Trump Administration. Mr. Sussman was an attorney for the law firm Perkins Coie and was working for the Clinton Campaign  when he presented then FBI general counsel James Baker documents purporting to show “secret internet communications between the Trump Organization and the Russian-based Alfa bank” on September 19, 2016.

The indictment reads that Sussman represented himself to the FBI General Counsel as a “good citizen” and was not working “for any client” and not an advocate for a candidate. It turns out that he was lying to the FBI, something that is taken quite seriously by our federal government. Just ask Martha Stewart about lying to the FBI. The first question should be: How competent is an FBI who can be fooled by someone (even a lawyer, who are universally generalized as being adroit liars) who misleads them about their employer. I’m pretty sure that having access to tax records and financial transfers (of which it seems that the federal government can review) might reveal that someone is getting money transfers from a firm associated with a political campaign. I guess that the IRS is too busy examining citizens with more than six-hundred dollars in their bank account than to verify the income of wealthy and powerful liars.    

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Covid’s Collateral Contamination

For many Americans, the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming a life-changing event. As millions of jobs openings go unfilled, thousands, if not millions of American workers are quitting their jobs and seeking more rewarding opportunities; some of the workers claim that they are striking out on their own to start a business. As marketing classes taught those of us who went to business college, “find a need, fill it.” Business college also taught how to evaluate a market as well as determine what to charge your clients. A few numbers for the quitters to consider: Fifty percent of new businesses close within five years, and lack of management experience is the number one reason that small businesses fail.

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The Mindset of Our Mythical Meritocracy

In a very disturbing article by Noah Smith in “Bloomberg Opinion,” Smith seems to be of the mind described in the article’s title, “Too Many of America’s Smartest Waste Their Talents.” Smith cites a lawsuit by a group of students who call themselves Students for Fair Admissions, the lawsuit alleging that Harvard University used “highly subjective personality ratings to penalize Asian applicants.” By definition, subjective means “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions.” Welcome to the world, Students for Fair Admissions.

One of the most painful lessons of Life is that your accomplishments might mean nothing to someone making a decision to give you an opportunity, but if it is any consolation, they will tell you how much you impressed them in the rejection email they send you.  

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A Dilapidated Defense of Dependency

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 I never knew that slavery and addiction could be so satisfying. Recently on a social media website, one of the addicted slaves made some startling comparisons that need some sincere comments. Claiming that our fears about our youth being too “dependent” on technology, and that those fears were nothing but “BS” our dependent youth made the following arguments:

His first point was that we use automobiles to travel instead of horses and buggies. Yes, that is true, but the Model T Ford began production in 1908. His second point is we don’t use outhouses to go to the bathroom. Yes, that is true, but the flushing-rim toilet was introduced in 1824. His third point is we don’t use typewriters to write comments. Yes, that is true, but typewriters were invented in 1868. His fourth point is we don’t heat water for our bath on the stove. Yes, that is true, but water heaters were patented in 1889. His closing statement was, “Do you see what I am getting at?”

Yes, I see what he was getting at, (including his poor grammar ending a sentence with a preposition) and his point was that apparently it is a valid argument to compare technology from centuries ago with the present technology. My professor whose essay tests frequently asked to compare and contrast concepts would have given him a failing grade.  None of the inventions this person mentioned can generate information, they only serve in a physical perspective.   

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Just Some Thoughts About Just In Time

For the past decades, corporations such as Toyota, General Motors, Walmart, and others have practiced a supply chain blueprint called Just In Time. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things, and the Just In Time practice (which will be referred to as JIT in this article) is one of them.

JIT began with Toyota, manufacturing automobiles. The JIT supply chain model is where the assembly plant receives the parts for the automobile in a manner that is just in time, that is to say, the delivery of parts comes just when needed, and the parts are used in the assembly of the automobile within hours.

Just in Time Manufacturing

The JIT model saved millions (some say billions, but whenever I asked them to show me the actual figures, they declined) of dollars in warehousing parts as well as the managers and personnel required to maintain those warehouses. Thousands of parts all arrive and within just a few hours they are assembled into the finished automobile.

The JIT model became a blueprint for logistics managers all across many industries. I dare say that many of these JIT-educated managers never managed a fleet of a trucks, never handled crates on a forklift, or tackled a complex assembly process by hand on the factory floor.  

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The College Credit Conundrum

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The CARES Act, Public Law No: 116-136 (03/27/2020) aka the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act allows student loan borrowers to defer payments without accruing interest from September 2020 to October of 2021. The balances, or the total loan debt, will not increase in that time frame. As of the fourth quarter of 2020, none of more than half of the federal student loans totaling $1.6 trillion will be required to be paid back. Twenty-two million citizens who borrowed money from the federal government for college won’t be making an average payment of $400 a month .The interest that has been cancelled by the CARES Act totals $5 billion per month, with a total projected to be $90 billion. The taxpayers are footing that bill, all while the debt of the United States climbs to record highs.

Student Loan Forgiveness
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

In the meantime, Senator Elizabeth Warren is asking President Biden to cancel $50,000 per student of their loan debts. The request is for President Biden to just cancel the debts, by presidential order. The prevalence of our “cancel culture” means whatever anyone wants is now just a presidential declaration away. As former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said, “never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

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Saturation, Satiation, & Subjugation – Tech’s innovative push for your dollars

Human knowledge, what we know, is based on fundamental, basic knowledge and understanding. We have to understand those basic symbols and their relationships before we can apply them in complex equations.

We have to understand letters, words, sentences and punctuation before we can combine those symbols into paragraphs, books, and manuals. The technology of today has been built upon the existing technology of yesterday; and it has always been this way.

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Battle with the Bureaucrats

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“After all, the chief business of the American people is business” is a quote from Calvin Coolidge in 1925. From 2016 to 2020 America had a president who was primarily a businessman. While many politicians would see the presidency as their ultimate achievement, there are plenty of politicians who will never attain that office, for various reasons. It seems that someone with only a business background and no political experience would have no chance of winning the office of the presidency. Yet, in 2016, we elected a president who had never held public office before.

When faced with a pandemic of enormous proportion, in nine months, the president via Operation Warp Speed motivated public officials and the private sector to concentrate their efforts and created two vaccines, in a speed that will go down in history. Not that the president will be remembered for that, though. In 2020 the American stock market roared back, to heights that exceeded Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom, while home sales and automobile sales swelled.

Impeachment 2.0
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Democrats Disingenuous Demeanor

As quoted recently, on or about October 26, 2020 by political journal  The Hill, by reporter Celine Castronuovo, Rep. Alexandria  Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) took to Twitter late Monday to call for the  expansion of the Supreme Court as Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as a  justice, with the progressive first-term lawmaker arguing that  Republicans don’t believe Democrats “have the stones to play hardball  like they do.”

More of AOC from The Hill:  “Remember that Republicans have lost 6 of the last 7 popular votes, but have appointed 6 of the last 9 justices,” she wrote. “By expanding the court, we fix this broken system and have the court better represent the values of the American people.”

OK, Um, don’t we have the Electoral College so that populous, left-leaning states such as New York and California do not run roughshod over the more sparsely populated states? If you choose to do  away with the Electoral College, then, by all means be fair, and offer  the states such as Wyoming, Iowa, the Dakotas and the other  conservative states the option of seceding, since it seems that they  do not share the “values of the American people.”

While AOC may be the spokesperson for socialist-leaning “let’s take from the rich and then give all the money away” folks in her congressional district, I’m not convinced that she is a “spokesperson for the American people.”

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Racism, Riots, and Our Republic

The tragic death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, has set into motion a public outcry that will go down in American history. In Mr. Floyd’s case, the officer who was responsible for his safety will be held responsible for his demise. Anyone issued handcuffs should be aware of the fact that handcuffed suspects who are laid on their stomachs cannot breathe because the pressure on the diaphragm restricts their breathing. If the officer charged in the death claims he was never advised of the potential danger, then he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, under the much-used police phrase: “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” 

The United States is a nation of laws, where those who enforce those laws are the police. Accused of being the hands of unfair laws and enforcers of discriminatory policies, there are now movements to defund and even disband police departments. There have been riots, burned buildings, and destroyed public monuments. There have also been dozens of murders of those of the same race as George Floyd, all presumed just as innocent (certainly the murdered children were innocent) as Mr. Floyd. How the murders of innocent citizens will motivate legislatures remains to be seen. Which moves us to legislation.

Image Credit: NY State Senate
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The Mortality of the Meritocracy Mentality

*Who is the luckiest person you have ever met or known? Were they all wealthy, or did they have some other sources of satisfaction with their lives, be it love, family, religion, other than being filthy rich?

Clifton Mark, in an article on the website Aeon, closed a disappointing essay on meritocracy with the following:  “Despite the moral assurance and personal flattery that meritocracy offers to the successful, it ought to be abandoned both as a belief about how the world works and as a general social ideal. It’s false, and believing in it encourages selfishness, discrimination and indifference to the plight of the unfortunate.”

My first question would be: Don’t those people who were born into wealth, sent to expensive private schools (fully stocked with legacies), and who then take positions in organizations where legacies are the rule and not the exception, also have a considerable amount of selfishness, discrimination and indifference to the plight of the unfortunate? Why stop with meritocracy? Aristocrats have a long history of a callus disregard for those less fortunate than themselves.

The prevalence of the term “privileged” used to epitomize a generation that regards hard work as pointless is approaching its maximum; Mr. Mark is preaching to the choir of the privileged generation, who are dyspathetic to hard work of any kind. Keep Reading

China Goes Viral

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*The global economy has suffered and enormous punch to the gut, and the economies of many nations are coughing and wheezing while dozens of their citizens perish. The culprit in this calamity is the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The origin of this pandemic (empowered by the global economy) has been traced to the city of Wuhan, in Hubei province, China, where it emerged in December of 2019.

Actually, according to Helen Davidson of “The Guardian,” COVID-19 was first detected on November 17 of 2019, and by March 13, 2020, had killed 4,702 people. The Chinese government only admitted that there was human-to-human contact on January 21 of 2020. Doctor Ai Fen of the Wuhan Central hospital lost four of her fellow doctors to the virus and is guilty of “criticizing hospital authorities for suppressing early warnings of the outbreak.” To further add to the global mayhem, Dr. Fen and whistleblower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang were risking their jobs as well as detention to reveal to the public about the conditions in Wuhan. The global economy advances (and kills) everyone equally, if not for the preparations by their nation. Keep Reading