Fake promises in the next presidential election

It appears the next American presidential election will be a battle of fake promises as Donald Trump and a left-wing democrat appeal to American emotions.

Trump will almost certainly bases his campaign on the formula that worked last time; vague general promises (make America great again) and some easy to keep promises that appeal to his core supporters (move embassy to Jerusalem.). Most of his promises will be appeals to emotions.

White House Flag Democrates RepublicanThe democrats will base their campaign on a promise of full employment as reported in this recent article in The Economist. Full employment has been an American policy goal for a long time, If it were possible it would have been attained a long time ago. To promote it now is an emotional appeal to counter Trump’s emotional promises. And it is destined to failure and will probably destroy the economic future of a lot of Americans.

One could probably predict that both Trump and the democrat will come out of the election with DBS degrees. (The D stands for doctor and the rest all English speakers should know).

The main issue, which will not be acknowledged during the campaign, is the size of the resource base for future economic activity. This blogger believes there are loads of energy and mineral resources left on the planet. However, we have cherry picked those which are readily available. Those which are left are so difficult to extract they are for the most part useless for future economic development.

If this analysis is correct then promises of full employment will be impossible to keep. Attempting to keep them will accelerate the use of the remaining energy and mineral resources and bring forward a major economic collapse.

Another factor when employment is an issue is our commitment to the work ethic. Some people believe their salvation depends upon their working hard and others worry that some people will receive benefits which they have not earned or to which they are not entitled. Everyone must do their share.

This blogger believes the material standard of living to which we have become accustomed is based on the agricultural surplus which allows a few people to produce enough food for everyone. As this surplus is the result of several millenia of technological development it should be a part of our inheritance. All of us should be entitled to a standard of living equal to everyone else regardless of what we do with our time.

With our standard of living dependent upon jobs and with our psychological well-being also dependent up on our having a job, promises of full employment will have a very strong appeal to many Americans. The success of the promise depends upon the ability of the economy for even more growth. This blogger has serious doubts about that. I am old enough to remember when people were saying we will just have to get used to an unemployment rate of three per cent.

The economic challenges facing the people of this world are overwhelming. Solutions will required a major rethinking of values about work and economic growth. An American presidential election would be an ideal time for a serious debate about the economic future.

The toughest part of this issue is how to deal with it. In the past I have voted for candidates with the least chance of winning because they have been the most honest. I have also deliberately spoiled by ballots. Both of these seem like a cop-out. I do not have the personality nor the skills to be a candidate let alone convince people of my economic policies. I do not even have the skills to go to election meetings and challenge the candidates. I also believe any candidate who tried to be honest would be nailed to the cross by fake election promises and appeals to emotions.

 

 

 

 

 

A simple market solution to internet privacy

The issue of internet privacy is easy to solve and in a way which should appeal to those who claim to believe in a free market economy.

Governments should pass legislation that all computer data should be publicly available without charge. This means we should be able to see what information about us is available and any business should also have access the same information. We should also be able to see who has accessed the information.

securitycamera-1-800pxWe would be responsible for deciding what personal information to make public realizing that it would be out there forever. We would also see who was using that information and would be responsible for protecting ourselves from exploitation.

Those of us who live in small communities are already used to others, including some business people, knowing quite a bit about us. It is now a question of scale. Once upon a time I worked on a small town newspaper in Ontario. As the junior reporter one of my duties was to write obituaries. Each day at lunch the elderly couple with whom I boarded wanted to know who had died. They also wanted to know which funeral home as Conservatives and Liberals were buried by separate undertakers

We often want and expect governments to protect us from people who would exploit us. But in the long run we all have to take responsibility for our behavior and our own protection. We are the ones who take the consequences.

Internet privacy is an issue because some people can make lots of money if they have exclusive access to the data. Making data free would change the dynamics of social media and some of it might become subscription based.

One of the biggest current economic fallacies is that we have a market economy. What we really have is an economy in which governments legislate to restrict competition so that some people can make profits. One of the fundamentals of a market economy is that knowledge, technical and market conditions, is known to all participants. Another fundamental principle is that customers pay the full cost of the goods or services they consume. Subsidies whether from the government, advertising or the sale of data make for an inefficient economy. What I am suggesting in this post is that we make the internet a part of a market economy.

In a true market economy there are no profits as competition keeps prices such that people can earn a wage and a return of investment but no profits. Therefor a market economy would take care of another current issue – equality.

I do not expect this idea to be taken seriously as those who profit from a noncompetitive economy have a lot of political power. Therefore internet privacy will provide a lot of work for lawyers and that Mark guy will become even more exploitive, richer and more powerful.

 

Internet financial firms

The potential for geeky financial firms is featured in an article in last week’s The Economist.  At this time the firms are small compared to the banks but there is probably enough potential that the banks could be threatened.

This could be both good and bad.

It will be good if there develops and alternative to fractional reserve banking.  I am thoroughly convinced that money creation by fractional reserve debt is a Ponzi scheme which frequently collapses in a financial crisis.  If these firms do replace the banks and avoid fractional reserves  we will have to find another way of creating money.  Whatever it is it will require that the money supply be flexible up and down to correspond with the level of economic activity.  I rather like the concept of Local Exchange Trading Systems which could be expanded to a national level.

The not so good feature of geeky financial services is that they would be an ideal new venture for large firms such as Amazon, Facebook or Google, firms whose commitment to privacy appears to be limited to their own.

buttom2I can see two groups rubbing their hands at the prospect of one of these large firms becoming  involved in most financial transactions.

The first are those in the online advertising business who use information about people to target advertising and the second are government spooks and those in government who believe they know what is best for the rest of us and want to control our lives.  Just think: emails, friends, shopping and financial data on everyone all available from one source. I wonder if the spies already have access to personal  financial data.

Probably the people into social control are the most threatening.  Once the monitoring  systems are all in place it will be easy for somebody to misuse them.

Another article this week, from Forbes,  talks about small groups of people getting together to provide each other with financial support.  This sounds like the early  credit unions on the Canadian prairies where a lot of transactions took place on someones kitchen table.

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