At Davos, Debating Capitalism’s Future

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IS 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society? Members of the global elite debated that unusual question on Wednesday at the annualWorld Economic Forum.

There was a time, not long ago, when such a debate would have been held only among the protesters who annually shelter in igloos farther down the Alpine slopes. So it is encouraging that more than three years since the global financial crisis, a belated process of soul-searching has begun in search of the right lessons to learn from it.

InBritain, members of the Conservative-led government — not least the prime minister, David Cameron — have echoed the Labour Party’s call for a more responsible capitalism.

There is a great difference, however, between being willing to talk about an issue and being ready to act.

It is a difference between those who still believe that all governments can do is get out of the way and those who believe there is a real role for governments in first reviving our economies, and then setting the right rules for future success. The challenge therefore is not just to capitalism but also to politics.

At the Group of 20 summit in Londonthree years ago, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Obama led concerted action to guide the world economy from the brink. Three years later, some governments are engaging in a short-sighted fiscal protectionism that can only lead to stunted growth.

If we learned anything from the 1930s, it was that governments cannot shrug their shoulders and watch as their own people are consigned to unemployment. I find it tragic and astonishing that some governments need to learn this lesson again.

Nor should we forget the causes of the current growth and debt crisis as we seek to put our economies on a more sustainable footing.

Both the United States and Britain suffered because their economies were overly reliant on the financial sector’s artificial profits; living standards for the many worsened while the economic rewards skewed to the top 1 percent; a capitalist model encouraged short-term decision-making oriented toward quarterly profits rather than long-term health; and vested interests — from giant banks to media moguls —were deemed too big to fail or too powerful to challenge.

We need to recognize that the trickle-down promise of conservative theorists has turned into a gravity-defying reality in which wealth has flowed upward disproportionately and, too often, undeservedly. To address properly the squeeze in middle-class incomes on both sides of theAtlanticrequires fresh thinking from governments about how people train for their working lives and what a living wage should be.

Governments can set better — not necessarily more — rules to encourage productive businesses that invest, invent, train, make and sell real products and services. We need rules that discourage the predatory behavior of those seeking the fast buck through hostile takeovers and asset-stripping that do not have the interests of the shareholders, the employees or the economy at heart.  InBritain, the Labour Party is considering how we can raise the bar for corporate takeovers so that companies’ futures are not determined by just a handful of speculators.

And governments must remember they are elected to serve the people, not the powerful lobbies who can pay for access or influence. Too often the real enemies of market capitalism are some of the leading beneficiaries of the current model, which favors price-gouging cartels and consumer exploitation. InBritain, airlines need to be more upfront about  the true cost of their fares, and pension firms cannot continue to sign up customers for products that can chip away at their retirement income through exorbitant management fees.

As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, it is neither socially nor economically sustainable for the wealthiest and most powerful to avoid paying their fair share. I support proposals for a financial transactions tax levied equally on the major trading centers from Hong Kong andSingapore to Wall Street and the City ofLondon. The British government needs to show more leadership on this issue inEurope — and all members of G-20 need to help make it happen.

Britainloses billions of pounds in revenues because of outdated rules that allow our richest citizens to keep their money in off-shore tax havens. Tax authorities need to know about income and wealth hidden behind front companies, trusts and other complex financial products. If these rules cannot be changed by international agreement, progressive governments should go ahead and do it themselves.

As President Obama said in his State of the Union address this week, it is “common sense” to ask a billionaire to pay, proportionally, at least as much as his secretary in taxes. Indeed, in Davos this week, I will look around the room and ask myself who pays taxes at a higher rate — those eating the soup or those serving it?

In my country, I believe that changing the rules of capitalism will mean a change of government. But more generally, it will require a change in what citizens expect and ask of politics. The question is not so much whether 20th-century capitalism is failing 21st-century society but whether politics can rise to the challenge of changing a flawed economic model.

Ed Miliband is a member of the British Parliament and the leader of the Labour Party.

The short answer to the problem is taking the money back. Use the power of the governments and take the money back. There are too many old people who will suffer if we do not. Of course, they were the ones that LET their governments make this mess.

 

Brian Elwin Pomeroy

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Soros Promotes Crisis Plan for Europe

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Soros Promotes Crisis Plan forEurope

 

 

The billionaire investor George Soros said on Wednesday that it was possibleGreece could be pushed out of the euro zone this year.

“The odds, let’s say, are in that direction,” Mr. Soros said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Instead of working to keep the country as a member of the single currency, he added, European policy makers ought to focus on saving the rest of the euro bloc.

 

Recent action by the European Central Bank, which in December moved to provide large amounts of liquidity to the region’s banks, have calmed the financial markets for now, he acknowledged. But he said these measures would not be enough to solve the festering sovereign debt problems that have driven up the borrowing costs of weaker euro zone countries.Spain andItaly, he said, remain “dangerously exposed.’’

 

“It leaves the weaker members of the euro zone relegated to the status of third world countries that became highly indebted in a foreign currency,” he said. “Germanyis acting as the task master imposing tough fiscal discipline. This will generate both economic and political tensions that could destroy the European Union.”

Mr. Soros used the occasion to promote an alternative plan to deal with the euro crisis, as outlined in his new book, “Financial Turmoil in Europe and theUnited States.”

Under his proposal, the European Central Bank and others, including the European Financial Stability Fund, would act in concert as “lenders of last resort” to governments, a role that the central bank has steadfastly disavowed. Mr. Soros says this would allowItalyandSpainto issue treasury bills at around 1 percent.

The European economy will also need stimulus to get moving again, Mr. Soros said, adding that the cost would have to be shouldered collectively. As such, it will require the issuance of so-called euro bonds under which the debt of euro zone members would be pooled “in one guise or other.”

If nothing more is done, and if policy makers continue to mostly pursue austerity measures, the euro zone will fall into a debt-deflation spiral, he said. That, in turn, could prompt widespread social disorder, he added.

“What is happening in Hungary today,’’ Mr. Soros said, “is a precursor of what is in store.”

 

 

  • Michael S
  • Wappingers Falls,NY
  • Trusted

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The threat of social disorder should be the take away message from Mr. Soros’ comments. The current path of the economically strong nations is anti-democratic, ignores national sovereignty and is widely unpopular. The European public has indicated time and again they are in no mood to cede sovereignty to the EU (or technocrat governments).

As European history shows, economic crisis rapidly deteriorates into political crisis. The real elephant in the room isItaly and if that economy tanks watch out: the mobs will grow followed by the timbrels!

 

  • oyvey
  • burlington, vt

Seems to me a bit like the housing mortgage crisis/meltdown. A lot of worthless paper being passed back and forth and hustled between players. Just a matter of time until someone goes bust and precipitates the inevitable house of cards collapse…

 

  • Terrence Aubrey
  • Europe

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“If nothing more is done, and if policy makers continue to mostly pursue austerity measures, the euro zone will fall into a debt-deflation spiral, he said. That, in turn, could prompt widespread social disorder, he added.”

Why does it take one of the Worlds most successful curency speculators to articulate everything that is wrong with the policies currently being pursued to fix the Euro Zone?

The 99% within Europe had better just hope that the decision makers inEurope “at least consider both his counsel and dire warnings.

 

  • Charleston voice
  • Charleston,SC

Who really is Soros? What’s he about anyway?

Guide to the George Soros Network
http://chasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/11/guide-to-george-soros-network.html

 

  • JM
  • Houston,TX

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The problem with Europe is the Europeans… they love to talk, theorize, intellectualize, even in a crisis. They can’t act.

Post-WWI? Penalize (austerity measures?) Germany to set the stage for WWII.

Rise of Nazi Germany? Assume the weakest, most conciliatory position.

Cold War? Criticize the U.S. at every turn, while depending on it to head off the Warsaw Pact.

Great Recession? Austerity measures, “inflation” concerns, blah blah blah.Europe disintegrates… Soros is right -Hungary is a scary mess portending more radicalism throughoutEurope.

 

  • TNC
  • SC

There is an investment angle for him in this, guaranteed. He and his clever ilk see only the $, with nationality/citizenship a mere technicality. Look into his Petrobras – offshore drilling moratorium dealings.

 

 

Write a note or forward this to George. He is ready to retire and he sounds like he feels bad for the way he spent his life. His bosses are probably unrepentant but he does not care because he is old and tired and might be a little concerned about his maker and how he is to be received.

We had the chance to forgive and forget after nine eleven but we denied the rights of others.

Any child with a calculator could figure how the money would trickle to the top and start to accelerate and cause the people at the bottom to ever so slowly starve to death or kill to survive.

Take a lesson from George, it is time to relax, retire and think. If you can. Have a smoke and a drink and call a friend.

Straight forward solutions

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A reasonable straightforward solution to this problem is to diversify one’s investments. A sensible plan was suggested in a recent AARP bulletin: Divide your retirement assets into four bins. Put cash and near equivalents in the first bin, and investments with progressively greater risk and greater potential returns, such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and real estate, in the second, third, and fourth. If you don’t know what stocks, bonds, etc., to buy, buy diversified index-tracking mutual funds with the lowest fees possible, from large providers such as Vanguard, or exchange-traded index funds. Draw the income you need to live on from the first bin until it gone, then the second, and so on. This strategy offers the promise of good investment returns over time, especially in a low-interest-rate environment, because low rates are good for most stock-issuing businesses. Although the value of your investments will fluctuate, the risk of long-term overall loss is relatively low; time heals risk, as the author said.

 

And if you haven’t started taking Social Security income yet, defer that as long as possible, up to age 70. Doing so increases your ultimate benefit by around 8% for each year you defer – which reduces the amount you need to draw from savings to live on.

With care, things will work out, even today.

 

The only possible benefit that the Fed’s policy of near zero short term interest is to permit banks to borrow funds at that rate and then use those funds to purchase government bonds or commercial paper at interest rates at least 2.5% permitting banks to again earn without taking any risk. This policy which has been existence for a long period of time has not shown any substantial inprovement to the general economy, unemployment, improved home building etc. after all these years is there any prognosis that another three years will change the outcome? What this policy has accomplished is the fact that it has denied the average senior citizen of which I am one to a fair return on their savings. Savings which has been eaten away by inflation. The Inflation which the Fed also denies exists. Before 2014 the Fed will have created another economic disaster when many many of our seniors will require public assistance and then what Mr. Bernacke ?

If you must invest, buy bank stocks.

(Two good points from normal people. See below for a comment to fool people into voting for the right. Ronny the demented and Bush the retard made this mess. Leave Obama in the White House. More white guys from the old boys network means your children and grandchildren will have to risk death to eat.)

 

 

 

So basically, we think that nothing the present government can do will help at all for the next three years? Not sure I heard the President predict last night that if he were reelected it would be more of the same for a minimum of half his next term.

Here’s a definition of terms: “effective” means something you are capable of and are willing to do works. “Ineffective” is the opposite.

Not much hope, but a need for change.

(this one on the take, voting for the right, voting for the money people.)

RIM’s future isn’t with BlackBerry | CanadianBusiness.com

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RIM’s future isn’t with BlackBerry | CanadianBusiness.com.

The company’s most valuable assets right now are its software, servers and security. Focusing on its strengths and licensing those assets to rivals could be a smart way forward.

(It would appear people do not care about security.)

Europe Weighs Tough Law on Online Privacy

Europe is considering a sweeping new law that would force Internet companies like Amazon.com and Facebook to obtain explicit consent from consumers about the use of their personal data, delete that data forever at the consumer’s request and face fines for failing to comply.

(It would appear the governments DO care about security. Did Europe take the week off when us Internet people shut the web down? They must think people are as stupid or easy as I do.)

Father/Daughter Talk or pretending to know the way of the world

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Father/Daughter Talk or pretending to know the way of the world

A rather gentle explanation of the difference in thinking
between people with opposite outlooks.

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college.
Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be very liberal, and
among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to
support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch
conservative, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she

had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that

her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he
thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to
higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs.

The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had
to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking
how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0
GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was
taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left
her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn’t even
have time for a boyfriend, and didn’t really have many college friends
because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, “How is your friend Audrey
doing?”

She replied, “Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are
easy classes, she never studies and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so
popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She’s always invited to all
the parties and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes because
she’s too hung over.”

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don’t you go to the
Dean’s office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your
friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and
certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father’s suggestion,
angrily fired back, “That’s a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I’ve
worked really hard for my grades! I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of
hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played
while I worked my tail off!”

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, “Welcome to
the conservative side of the fence.”

If you ever wondered what side of the fence you sit on, this is
a great test!

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned
for everyone.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better

his situation.
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches
channels.
Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and Jesus
silenced.

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about
shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends
can have a good laugh.
A liberal will delete it because he’s “offended.”

Well, I forwarded it to you. I think you know where I stand.

Well. Like any entertainment for the ignorant masses, the money whores and blind work horses count on stereo types to make their point. Many of the ‘venues’ available to people are what the mega wealthy use to keep us fighting among ourselves or entertained. That is how they ‘keep’ their wealth; by keeping the competition fighting over scraps while some starve before they are five years of age and others kill each other and decide who runs the cages that the others are hired to tend.

 I would call it simplistic and self-serving. People with a little knowledge pretending to know the way of the world are dangerous to those who can not defend themselves. Hope Dad did not hurt anybody to get money for college. It must be nice to have a Dad who made a difference in her life with wisdom and encouragement. Too bad she learns from the professor about caring about others and her money grubbing Dad makes her education useless by sending a torpedo through her bow. Why did he buy her an education in the first place? Was he growing a plant to support him when he can not take care of himself? What is his thinking?

I think he is afraid but hides it well.

To make a long story short, he can make money by taking from others and if there is something wrong with society he turns the channel or his back. Hope he is prepared to defend himself from the marauding masses about whom he could not be bothered thinking too deeply. Or, hope his girl is not swayed by his self-centered; I-am-the-only-one-who-made-it without-anyone attitude.

— 
There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. -Washington Irving

Live Separate and Die Together (Chapter One)

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…they cannot interpret the information they need to vote…

…democracy founded on the consent of the governed…

“If citizens do not trust what candidates say, then they cannot interpret the information they need to vote. This cuts at the very roots of what we mean by democracy, founded on the consent of the governed.”

Yeh, Yeh, Yeh. And the same is true of my marriage, as I lie to my wife and she to me much of the time. And my boss and those who work for me. And my customers, and those who sell to me. Etc. This is what people do, both to themselves and to others. Get over it. Why should our relations with our political leaders be an exception?

WOW, give up on everything. Would it not make sense to demand accountability? When are people going to stand up?

 

So you wish to accept lies from your leaders? Apathy and cynicism never improved anything for anyone. I want politicians to be scrutinized and held to account. I want there to be an almighty fuss when they lie.

Why? Because they swear they’re telling the truth at the same time, & they’re held to a higher standard because of the fact that each individual lie doesn’t affect just you, or your wife, or your boss, or a single whomever. It affects 300 million of us. Personally I’d say that moves it into a different category entirely.

That means WE have to show them what accountability is by showing our cards. I will go first.

 

I am about a hundred thousand in the hole and have no assets. Anybody wants to see my accounts need only ask and I will take them to the bank and show them. If the average person offered that exposure of themselves the lies would show that they have cheated or lied at one time or another.

Many people in our world have more than they need and THAT is why people lie. They assume everybody else does it so why be a chump. Only you know what you have and have not, only you can come clean because the mega-wealthy are not. YOU could make the government make them, you really could.

 

Trouble is, who would go first, and who would offer it all up to society to make this a better world? People have cheated and lied and the magic date of accountability can not be set until everyone scampers around to bury the bodies. So accountability requires FULL discloser. I’m still up to bat.

 

I am 55 and have given up on people. I gave up ten years ago and spent five years bouncing around homeless shelters in Calgary and five with a wonderful woman. Four years before I worked with the steel people and saw what money or too much money for nothing can do to people. Money for nothing is like a drug; it causes guilt in people and that manifests into all kinds of undesirable behavior. No wonder everything is made out of plastic today.

 

I have been working on the courage to leave the house and apply for social assistance because my health is starting to fail. One eye is cloudy and it throws off my coordination so I keep doing clumsy things. The kind of work I did requires I know how to move my hands and feet and read at the same time. I had lost inspiration as the warehouses concentrated on speed and making more and more money without giving any thought to safety. People counting the money were making the decisions about how the money is made and making more of the money than the people doing the work. THAT is what they call accountability.

 

I saw the money going to make more money instead of improving the quality of life at work and at play. I ended up on the street trying to find myself and or some meaning to life. In the meantime, people were mortgaging their houses to get their hands on more and more money, effectively causing prices to rise and squeezing out people like me who were not playing the game or were willing to bend over to the collective addiction of money. I paid taxes in the form of GST on the 500% markup on pleasures like smoke and drink. What I got was evicted to smoke outside instead of getting a place where me and mine could go for a smoke and a drink. Only because some people could not find a job where there is NO smoke but no, make more rules to suck the fun out for some. The result has been a medical profession still short of money and people separating anyway to have a smoke. When they got separated they started smoking more and more weed and feeding the criminals more money than was seen in the days of prohibition.

 

I got frustrated at elitism and some looking down their noses at others. Instead of a live and let live attitude people have gone out of their way to make life uncomfortable and I have told them where to get off but I can not do it alone. If people do not stand up to the governments then society WILL fall apart and then people will whine. Then it will be too late.

 

People do not care about others; they say they do, but they don’t.

 

Brian Elwin Pomeroy