Renaming the Washington Redskins

RenamingTheWashingtonRedskins  <–  PDF version

The Washington Redskins NFL football team has been criticized on and off for the past twenty years by some activists, supposedly representing Indian tribes, that the nickname “Redskins” is a racial slur.  Among the cases that have been litigated are Harjo et al v. Football, Inc. [1] and Blackhorse vs. Pro Football, Inc. [2], both objecting to the name under the disparagement clause of the Trademark Law. Apparently most persons of actual Indian descent are not particularly offended by the name (if we believe some polls taken among Indians).

More recently, two federal politicians, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) have voiced their opinion.  They wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on 10 Feb 2014, stating in part [3]:

“The terminology used by theWashingtonfootball team has been determined to be a racial slur.  It is, in fact, an insult to Native Americans.  We are calling on you and the National Football League to take a formal position on a name change.”

Team owner Dan Snyder, citing statistics indicating that the public generally favors the current name, and reluctant to incur the costs associated with changing it, has stated that the name will never change.  I believe that in the long run Mr. Snyder is wrong.  Given the continuous string of accusations of racism from all the “aggrieved” interest groups (real and imagined) it is likely that he will eventually have to change the name.

If there is going to be a name change, there are two ways to go.  The first type, under the category ‘maybe the complainants should be careful what they wish for’, is to rename the team to reflect what the natives actually stood for and what they were.  Then we could choose from several viable alternatives:

a.  Stone Age Barbarians

b.  Enslavers of Women

c.  Demon Possessed Primitives

d.  Merciless Indian Savages (as mentioned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence)

But there is no point in that; after all, the Indian Wars are long over and members of the Indian tribes have not offended anyone.  They have in fact, suffered greatly from all the “help” given them by the government (not to mention the recurring violation of the treaties).   Since the federal politicians have weighed in (apparently not having anything else to attend to), I favor a second type of name change, one that honors the city of Washington as the seat of the federal government.  How about these for possibilities:

a. Masters of Corruption

b. Pathological Liars

c. Bureaucratic Incompetents

d. Marxist Crusaders

e. D. C.’s (Destroyers of the Constitution) – my favorite

Since all of them are provably true, it is hard to see any objection on the grounds of disparagement.

References:

1.  Suzan Harjo sought cancellation of the team’s trademark in 1992 under the “disparaging terms” clause.  She won the initial verdict in the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in 1999, but that ruling was overturned by the D. C. Court of Appeals in 2005, citing insufficient evidence and expiration of the statute of limitations.

2.  This suit makes the same claim as Harjo, but with younger plaintiffs, supposedly not barred from a complaint.  It was filed in 2013 and is still in process.

3.   http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-26127941

 

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On Bail Outs and Bail Ins

OnBailOutsAndBailIns  <– PDF version

Are you tired of seeing the government rescuing wealthy bankers from their errors with your tax money?  Are you tired of watching banks creating questionable securities, then making large profits by selling them to unsuspecting customers based on risk ratings that were bought and paid for by the banks who created the suspect securities?  Meanwhile, when the bad securities crashed, the bankers took your tax money from the government to continue and expand their gambling racket.  Are you tired of watching your friends and neighbors lose their houses and jobs while the politically well-connected bankers are compensated and rewarded for failure?  In short, are you tired of seeing these Wall Street losers line up to take bailouts to save them from their own incompetence while the taxpayers take the loss?  Well cheer up chumps, in addition to future recurring bail-outs, there will come a day when you will be “invited” to “participate” in a bail-in.  Here’s how the scam will work.

When you make a deposit at a bank, you receive in return a demand deposit in the form of either a savings account or checking account entry.  Likewise, when you purchase a certificate of deposit, you receive a document, which is, like the savings and checking accounts, a receipt showing that the bank owes you the deposited amount upon presentation of a claim.  In other words, the bank does not sequester the money you deposited; it simply issues you a future right to a certain amount of money in the future, namely, the amount you deposited in one of the account types.  You are actually lending those assets to the bank, and the bank may do with it as it pleases.  The bank is merely obligated to fulfill its promise return it to you upon demand, and likewise with all other depositors.  The bank therefore keeps a small amount of cash on hand to disburse to its depositors from day to day; the rest is loaned out at a profit to the bank.  (Yes it’s true: banks make their profits by lending out something they do not actually own: your deposit).

But what if the bank engages in shady real-estate transactions, or lends money to people who refuse to pay back, or who cannot pay back; or if the bank over-extends itself through highly leveraged investments that decline in value?  There may come a time when the bank’s cash flow is insufficient to meet the daily demands by its depositors; in that case, it will have to obtain more capital to cover those losses and make good on its promises to the depositors.  But what if it cannot raise the required capital?  Remember, banks do not make money by risking their money; only by risking yours.  The CEO of the bank is not going to pony up $300 million of his own money to cover the depositors: he will inform the government that a bailout is needed.  If enough banks make the same mistakes, and the entire cartel becomes insolvent, then they get a very large bailout because they can claim that the entire financial system will collapse.  So it becomes an extension of the old rubric, which goes: “If you owe the bank $100 and can’t pay, you have a problem.  If you owe the bank $1,000,000 and can’t pay, the bank has a problem”.  To which we now add, “If the banks owe $1,000,000,000,000 and can’t pay, then the taxpayers have a problem.”  Hence the need for the government to bail out the bankers; the funds to do so are created by the central bank (the Federal Reserve in the U. S.), and the repayment is made by future tax increases to pay off the new debt created by the central bank.  A bail-out is when the bank is rescued by some external entity, usually the central bank acting on behalf of the government.

A bail-in is different.  A bail-in is when bankers are rescued by internal entities, which is to say, the depositors.  This is done by getting the government to allow the banks to refuse to honor claims by depositors, or prevent risk of capital loss to the bank by depositors demanding their own property back.  The bankers are unable to understand the colossal nerve of depositors, demanding to exercise their rights, formerly issued by the bank, to retrieve their own property on demand.  To the bankers, you are nothing more than an ingrate if you still insist that the bank uphold its end of the deal.  A bail-in is manifested by “capital controls”, (not on the banks since they do not risk their capital), but on its depositors.  It comes in the form of limitations upon depositors on how much can be withdrawn per day or week; a prohibition on the cashing of checks, limitations on how much currency can taken out of the country, limitations on overall volume of transactions, etc.  It matters not that a depositor needs money to pay for groceries or the mortgage: what matters is that the bank, by exercising a bail-in, gets to keep their money as long as it needs to, thus avoiding default, until it can coerce, bribe, or intimidate a government or other banks to give it a bail-out.  Now banks do not have the legal power to invoke a bail-in unilaterally: it has thus far required a conspiracy with the government to transfer such a power to the bank; for which consideration, the politicians are of course rewarded with favorable loan terms or even forgiveness of existing loans.  A bail-in generally does not permit the banks to pilfer the contents of “safe deposit” boxes, but it would be naive to exclude such a future possibility.

Lest you think this is all idle speculation, be advised that it already happened in Cyprus in 2013.  When the Cypriot national banks got into trouble, it negotiated a bailout with the IMF and other European central banks, but the deal was contingent upon the government of Cyprus to allow a bail-in binding on depositors.  So, in March of 2013, Cypriot depositors were saddled with the following restrictions on their own property [1, 2], some of which are still in effect:

a.  withdrawals limited to 300 euros per day

b.  cashing of checks prohibited

c.  Persons exiting Cyprus could take no more than 1000 euros with them

d.  Payments or transfers to foreign accounts limited to 5000 euros per month

e.  A 9.9% tax levied on depositors with balances greater then 100,00 euros, and a 6.75% tax on deposits less than 100,000 euros

What happened when the government imposed these violations of rights upon its own citizens in order to save the incompetent and/or corrupt bankers?  Did the people reach for the pitchforks and torches and descend upon the bankers and politicians?  No; they patiently waited in long lines like sheep; they raised no protest at the violation of their rights; they did not question the merits of the government’s actions against them.  You may be sure that this quiet acquiescence did not go unnoticed by the bankers and their political cronies.  When U. S. banks get in trouble again, as they are sure to do, it will create the perfect excuse for the government to restrict most cash transactions, allow the banks to prosper without risk, and track your every economic move electronically.

[1]  BBC News Europe, “Cyprus eases some bank restrictions after bailout”, 29 Mar 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21978286

[2]  Edward Harrison, “Cyprus’ Bank Deposit Bail-In”, 16 Mar 2013, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/03/cyprus-bank-deposit-bail-in.html

 

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The Central Lie of the 2014 Elections

CentralLieOf2014Elections   <– PDF version

Happy New Year, 2014.  This marks the beginning of the 2014 Congressional election cycle, ready or not.  At stake is control of the House (currently controlled by the Republicans) and the Senate (currently controlled by the Democrats).  Since the Democrats have more vulnerable Senate seats in play, and require only a small number of victories to take control of the House, it is important for the Democrats to capitalize on their successes to expand their power base.  Unfortunately, they do not have any successes.  Therefore, it will be important to turn their most important fiasco, namely, the roll-out and implementation of Obama “I Lied, Period” Care into a net positive.  To do so, the Democratic Party Central Lie must be repeated early and often (the same way dead people vote in Chicago).  The Democratic Party Central Lie this election year may be:

“Because of the interference of the evil Republicans, the Messiah/President has found it necessary in the public interest to make adjustments in the Affordable Care Act, which has resulted in its having been effectively repealed.  Therefore it is necessary to elect Democrats to large majorities in both the House and Senate so that the principle of free health care for all can be re-established without the undermining activity of the evil Republicans.”

It is possible that the talking-point narrative from the Democratic Party hacks, reinforced through constant repetition by the adoring sycophants at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS, and The New York Times, may be something like “More Democrats must be elected because….

a.  The initial difficulties with the health care exchange website were due to PATRIOT ACT restrictions imposed by the Republicans, which prevented the rollout from going as smoothly as planned.”

b.  The exemptions given to certain Democratic political groups were necessary in order to prevent the Republicans from taxing health care benefits of families whose main breadwinner are Union members.”

c.  The delay in the employer mandate was necessary because the Republican-driven government shutdown and sequestration prevented the economy from growing fast enough to allow employers to expand their businesses and provide free health care.”

d.  Over 350 million Americans have been provided with free health care already under the Affordable Care Act, but more needs to be done for minorities to counter the racist faction of the Republican Party.”

The Republicans are not politically clever enough to formulate a Central Lie of their own (and no one would broadcast it anyway).  It is better that way.  If the Republicans did attempt a Central Lie, they would inadvertently tell the truth about something and shock the entire political system.

 

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What’s Next for Obama “I Lied, Period” Care

WhatsNextforObama_ILied_Period_Care   <– PDF version

President Barack “I Lied, Period” Obama has suffered some bad press recently owing to the disastrous rollout of the healthcare.gov website.  Enrollment rates are far below what is required to make the system work, and at this writing about 5 million Americans have had their health insurance cancelled.  It is expected that ultimately 90 million people will have their health care interfered with by government regulations and the enforcement bureaucrats run amok. Of course, the good news is that Barack “I Lied, Period” Obama, his family, Joe Biden, his family, administration officials, their families, the members of Congress, their families, Congressional staffs, their families, the wealthy, their families, the politically well-connected, and their families will be unaffected by the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA).  Therefore, there is no problem for the “people who matter”, if you know what I mean.

The website is supposed to re-launch tomorrow, and the administration will regard it as a big success if only 20% of the people who attempt to access it are unable to do so.  The good news is that the technical problems with the web site will ultimately be engineered out; and eventually it will work almost as well as any of the other 100 million websites offering products to the consumer.

The website is not the real problem.  The real problem is that the algorithm underpinning it must coded by software engineers, who are eminently logical people.  They are faced with coding a law written by bureaucrats and self-serving insurance industry operatives, put into legalese by Congressional staffers who are immune from it, passed by members of Congress who did not read it, and signed by a President who lied about it.  It was then transmogrified into incoherent bureaucratic “regulatoryspeak” by employees of the Department of Health and Human Services, all of whom are also immune from it.  The political part was about what we expect from the political elite.  But the software coders still must implement the bureaucratic maze.  With 25 years of experience writing software, I can tell you that there are four possible types of answers in the course of integrating any software process:

a)  The answer is correct, and is verifiably correct

b)  The answer is incorrect, and is obviously incorrect

c)  The answer is incorrect, but cannot be verified

d)  The answer is correct, but cannot be verified

Before one can declare success by achieving option a), he must first verify that none of the other possibilities occur.  The second item b) is the easiest to deal with: if the power company sends you a residential electric bill for $25,852,902.45 for the month of October, there is clearly an obvious problem, and correcting it is a matter of investigation and correction of some erroneous input somewhere.  Those types of problems with the implementation of the ACA will all be tracked down sooner or later.

The last two are the real problems, and are likely to be widespread in a system as complex as the ACA.  We are likely to see in the next year or two, many cases where the premiums and subsidies as quoted appear to be consistent with expectations (higher cost, lower access to care) but are actually wrong, and will have to be revised (another increment of higher cost and lowered access).  Or, we may see cases where the quoted values are actually correct, but there is confusion within the health insurance industry because the result of the government’s implementation is different from what the insurance companies expected (or were lied to about); again requiring an eventual re-adjustment (higher cost, lowered access to care, in addition to lower profits for the insurance companies).  Both of these are very bad insofar as instilling public confidence, and from a software standpoint, are the most difficult and time-consuming to correct.  But, given the inept nature of oversized government in general and this administration in particular, what else should we expect?

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