Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

Putting Solyndra In Perspective

Many on the right and the middle are whining and pointing fingers in every which way demanding scalps for the mess that is Solyndra. However, I would just like to put this manufacturer of thin-film solar cells in a bit of big federal government perspective with nothing but numbers.

1. $560.1 million – this represents the total handouts to Solyndra, with $535 from the Department of Energy and a $25.1 million tax break from the state of California…0.015% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget.

2. $700 billion – this represents the Bush-Paulson carried out and Obama-Geithner stewarded Troubled Asset Relief Program…18.97% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget

3. $1 trillion – unilaterally issued Federal Reserve program called the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) designed to infuse money into the pockets of already under water consumers with the aim of goosing consumption…27.00% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget

4. $144billion to $323 billion – the first number represents what the disastrous F35 was supposed to cost and the second what it will cost when it is completed…8.75% of Obam’s 2011 Federal Budget

5. $22 billion 30 people – the cost in dollars and deaths of the V-22 (aka Osprey) one of the Pentagon  and the Military Industrial Complex’s favorite cash cows along with the aforementioned F35. As NPR’s Graham Smith reported:

“In a nutshell, the story of the Osprey is it cost more in time, money and lives than anything else the Marine Corps ever bought”


Three major accidents gave the Osprey its bad reputation and earned it the nickname “The Widowmaker.”


The worst, in Arizona in 2000, killed 19 Marines.”

SO when considering who to pick on and who to hold accountable by any means necessary it is important to acknowledge that the folks at Solyndra are deserving of the criticism they are receiving for extorting money from the federal government, but it is way more important to address the Big Fish as it were feeding at the tit of the Pentagon. I can’t defend Solyndra’s actions but I hope that this brief post put them in perspective relative to a far more important and costly addiction to tools of war and the propping up of Wall Street. The Occupy Wall Street movement has brought attention to the crimes of Wall & Broad. An even greater level of extortion has been occurring in the parallel and opaque universe that revolves around the Pentagon.

At least Solyndra was an attempt to wean us off our addiction to hydrocarbons, while the Pentagon could be excused for being under the impression that it’s charter is solely to perpetuate and lubricate that addiction.

Concrete Suggestions for Occupy Wall Street

Excerpt from a project I am working on and a helpful blueprint for how to curb irresponsible activities throughout the financial services industry:

According to the FDIC you Mr. Big Banker (i.e., 109 banks with more than $10 billion in assets) have no qualms with giving depositors a measly 0.8% annually, while the country’s 7,651 local/smaller banks paid 1.29% vs. values of 0.49% and 0.69% in 2009 [275], respectively, even though it was you not them that we the taxpayer bailed out and we Generation X will continue to feel the austerity backlash of for years to come. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a fifth-grader for that matter much in the way of mental exertion to understand how easy it is to mint huge profits when you borrow money from The Fed or investors for the aforementioned paltry rates and lend it to private citizens or the Tim Geithner led Treasury at 3-4%, however, in doing so you Mr. Banker are failing to do what you most likely state in your charters “furnishing money to firms and funding capital investments.” [276] We need our banks to act as utilities not casinos. Banks must stop making in the words of the Bank of Engl Read the rest of this entry »

Post-Unemployment Stress Disorder

Consider the real or fictitious call for austerity among DC, Wall Street, and Brookins/Cato/AEI elites one of my favorite radio personalities Tom Ashbrook presented one of the best shows on the subject of structural unemployment and the notion that – just like engaging in war – the rest of us are being asked to sacrifice for the whims and arrogance of  old white men.

I have pasted my response to the show below because while it deserves the attention it gets PTSD has a new cousin in The Great Recession Fallout which I simply describe as Post-Unemployment Stress Disorder. I should know I have it and have it bad on some days better on others………..even though I now have a job!

I would add that I recently ended a 9 month drought after having completed a Ph.D. here at the University of Vermont. It was brutal and the uncertainty (true uncertainty not the BS kind referred to on Wall Street or by big business) has delayed my marriage to my favorite human being and delayed us having children. I still suffer what I call post-unemployment stress disorder (PUSD) which manifests itself in me looking for better/more secure jobs even though I have one. I was right in doing so because I found out yesterday – thanks to my insistence as I have another great job offer – that my current employer who had already changed my contract from 2yrs to an 8mo probationary period that they were not going to guarantee me a contract extension. This was not the rough and tumble world of business but rather academia. I was told that if I hadn’t come to them with this other job offer and an ultimatum they might not have let me know of my status until the days prior to the contract’s expiration in October. This is no way to treat people even if you do have leverage! Employers are in the catbird seat and that is generally a good thing as it yields the best corporations or in this case academic institutions. However, there is a certain degree of decency that is missing from Main St, Wall St., and DC for how you treat your fellow man/woman especially in a jobs environment like the one we find ourselves in. That means giving people proper warning so they can prepare or improve their lot. That means understanding that when you do let someone go they are going to be fending for themselves for – chances are – quite some time and maybe even 2.5 years as one of the guests on Mr. Ashbrook’s show described. The UK prime minister David Cameron made a great point in the aftermath of the London Riots recently that decency is no where to be found in The City, Parliament, and at the country’s numerous Murdoch owned rags. So why when the “common man” sees this should they operate by a different set of rules? Leaders need to lead and not divide, condescend, or obfuscate. Like his opposite number in DC Mr. Cameron talks a big game but I would be willing to bet that the have nots of Tottenham like the have nots of Watts, Gary, Indiana, Detroit, etc. will suffer a more oppressive case of austerity than any of the latter offenders.
I am amazed at how callus people are in the face of having someone’s career in their hands. Such a flippant disregard for basic short- and medium-term needs is really not what this country is about….At least that is what I thought!
I will be fine and my fiance and I will have a wonderful marriage and an even more wonderful child but what I will never forget about this Great Depression is the rapidity with which people backed away from words like loyalty, respect, fairness, and transparency. I for one will always have the scars of the uncertainty and unknowns that soaked into my every fiber during this recession. They say that Depression children saved every nickle etc. Well I think my generation and those that were unemployed for a prolonged time will always have in the back of our minds when the next shoe is going to fall. Especially those of us not looking to get filthy rich but rather just teach or give back to the planet or our fellow man nothing gaudy or selfish but simply good work that doesn’t involve off-shoring or newfangled “financial products”. PUSD is real and I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way. I don’t know when this fear and anxiousness will go away but I hope soon because it really sucks! It is not made any better when we see the haves with such contempt for basic decency and empathy. The ovarian lottery has been cruel to some and unnecessarily generous to others, while others have fought out of the former to reach the latter economic prosperity, but that doesn’t mean we should paint such broad strokes on those that have not fought out of the cruelties of the lower quartile. Most likely it ain’t their fault and piling on while forcing them to eat spinach as the oligopoly eats cake is not what I think the phrase “American Exceptionalism” means! Warren Buffett seems to be coming around to this notion!

Response to the Ice Queen

My response AND the data in response to Ms. Amity Shlaes attack on Paul Krugman and unions.

Ms. Schlaes
With all due respect your NLRB canard is beyond fiction. Haven’t we done enough to emasculate unions in this country all ready? Don’t MegaBanks and the biggest of the big multinationals already have politicians in their pocket? Doesn’t Scott Talbott’s consistent presence in DC on behalf of the Financial Services Roundtable mean there needs to be a yang to the lobbying yang of the aforementioned along with chronic lobbying criminals like the Koch Brothers? Would you be more content if to paraphrase Grover Nordquist we reduced the size of unions where we could drag them into a bathroom and drown them in the bathtub? It is true that the Big 3 automakers unions got drunk with power as do factions of the teacher’s unions but you are implying their elimination or castration are you not? All parties need to share in the austerity and haircuts but at this point it is only the “have very littles and “have nots” with the “haves” making out like the plutocracy that they strive to be and are at the present time. Please consider an empirical look at who is to blame besides Fannie/Freddie and the Unions because a crisis like that that has occurred most recently surely is not the fault of these two alone?
See graph below

2.8% and 170,000

These are the two numbers Wisconsin man-child Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is touting for his “A Roadmap for America’s Future: Version 2.0”. The first has to do with what he and the Heritage Foundation project will be the rate of US unemployment and the latter is what his manifesto says will be average US economic growth per capita by 2083 or put more magically a nearly four-fold increase over current US GDP per capita (See Page 30).

These are nonsense numbers and the kinds of voodoo economics that convinces “middle America” that Republicans like Ryan are on their side when as point of fact he and his fellow Wisconsin governor Scott Walker have no problem putting out this kind of BS with one hand while simultaneously taking in the largess of the Koch Brothers with their other hand. Read the rest of this entry »

“Cut it or Shut it”

I totally agree Tea Party I totally agree! Government shutdown now!

HOWEVER that means we shut down the TSA, the military, coast guard, national guard, social security, medicaid, medicare, homeland security, agricultural subsidies, pork spending, etc.

SO if your all for that than indeed lets SHUT ER DOWN!!

HOWEVER don’t start carving stuff out and proclaiming your disgust with government!

HOW ABOUT We pullback the security state being built by the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, and private security firms along with the Military Industrial Complex? That would save a boat load of money! How about we step back from being The World’s RoboCop? NO? Why?

Well I am all for scaling back the depth and breadth of government spending in the areas of bloat and hubris, but to say “Cut it or shut it” remember what that comes with? NO MORE SPINACH………BUT NO MORE CAKE AS WELL!

Note From a Friend

Someone I know pretty well and admire quite a bit sent me the following string of emails regarding Obama’s “John Wayne” moment in Libya. I don’t agree with everything he wrote me but thought much of it was spot on and it came from someone I would call of the Libertarian persuasion. ENJOY!



Hate to say it dude… but I’m done with Obama after this Libyan Adventure. What a cluster_ _ _ _ of a situation… and Constitutionally dubious to boot.

I freely admit that most Republicans are nuts too. Most of the “leading” 2012 candidate-types would have had us in there (boots on the ground) 3 weeks ago. Utter insanity. Of course- they’re now leading the chorus of criticism- which is beyond nauseating. Anyway- whether democractic or repulican- this country appears to be irretrievably at the mercy of a…”pro-intervention” council of foreign relations type cabal that is hell-bent on bankrupting us in a vain quest to remold the Middle East (recently substituting “international norms” and “human rights” for “WMD’s”). Meanwhile Congress is nothing more than the pathetic dude who walks in on his wife getting banged by Joe the Plumber. The Founding Fathers are turning in their graves. Book it.

Anyway, unless Ron or Rand Paul somehow miraculously secures the GOP nomination… I guess I’m voting Libertarian here on out.



Whatever the case- should be some interesting times on your blog. I didn’t put in my last my e-mail but to me Obama’s speech could best be described as “The Fog of War”. I don’t care if we run Gadaffi out of there in 2 days and Arabs are waiving the American flag (an unlikely result of course). The Middle East is the type of place where things are measured in 50 and 100 year increments. I’m sure we felt cool as hell when we shot up Iran and put the Shah in or ran the Soviets out of Afghanistan or handed victory to the “Northern Alliance” or took down Saddam… or…. How did any of those work out for us? Meanwhile- I certainly wish Gadaffi treated his people better- but the UN should raise its own army of folks (God bless them) who individually feel willing to lay their lives down for “international norms” and “stability” and NOT usurp war-making authority from the US Congress- or any other proposed “combatant’s” governmental body in charge of declaring war. That’s always been my problem with the Security Council set-up- and why I frankly think it’s imperative for American liberty for the US to either withdraw from the UN completely- or alternatively- withdraw from the Security Council at least.


I know Rand’s a whipping boy for the Left… but all I can say to this is A-FREAKING-MEN!!!

Why is it so hard to have a President who actually gets and understands this stuff!!??! I certainly would have thought a Costitutional Law Professor from the University of Chicago with a law degree from Harvard would have been capable of it. Guess not!


Well I am confident they represent the empirical and pragmatic sentiment (if I may be so bold). I’m less confident that they represent the “Republican” sentiment though. Perhaps. As I’ve told you for awhile now- the party is in the midst of a Civil War of sorts pitting the true traditional, “Goldwater”, non-interventionist, Libertarian, conservative (correct usage) wing of the party (I’d estimate it at about 20%) against the ultra-nationalist, imperial, guns and butter, neo-conservative, manifest destiny, Theodore Roosevelt wing (give these guys 50%). I’m not at all certain how that will play out as our wing is clearly more in-step with the main street common sense views of the country (while there’s was thoroughly discredited under Bush II) on the one hand- but they have FAR MORE resources, influence and political savy to bring-to-bear on the other. I think what you’ll see is unapologetic neo-conservative  Republicans like Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich (and his shrill Dick Morris), etc. posing as re-formed “limited government Constituionalists” for a period of time in order to draw in those more pliable elements of the Tea Party and the social conservatives (these two make up the balance) to their banner- only to ultimately give us Bush III (if elected). If I had to wager- right now- I suspect they will succeed. Sadly.

Interesting Shareholder Vote

So I have a couple of shares of GE and now that I know about their unwillingness to pay taxes and actually receive corporate welfare to the tune of $3.2 billion I am worried about the justification for this investment. Conveniently or coincidentally GE turned around in the last couple of days and announced “on Tuesday that it planned to spend $3.2 billion for a 90 percent stake in Converteam, a company based in Massy, France, that specializes in high-efficiency electric power conversion components like motors, generators, drives and automation controls.”

This comes around the same time as President Obama named the CEO of GE Jeffrey Immelt chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Surely an ominous sign for both the word jobs and the word competitiveness when the man in charge of fueling a fire under both doesn’t believe in either when it comes to his own firm’s presence in the US.

Anyway in receiving my voting option I think I found another way that GE manages to skim that little bit of cream off the top of each investment/product margin. Below are questions C4 and C5 of GE’s most recent proxy ballot (Note: The Bold is what the board recommended and the standard is what I voted):


Barack I am Your Father

President Obama has completely embraced his capitulation side at this point as is demonstrated by Paul Krugman’s recent salvo in the direction of the White House. AND my comment regarding PK’s pointed piece (See Below). Read the rest of this entry »

Benefit to Cost Ratio

In his last post Dave noted that the real reason for events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Maghreb and eastward was finite resources. That is extremely true AND if you couple that with the increasing influence of derivative speculation by those that don’t give a hoot about social cohesion AND the declining benefit to cost ratio associated with agricultural related biotechnology you have a Terrible Trio that needs to be addressed via long-term stewardship of biomass and the planet’s limited biogeochemically available elements such as phosphorus. Read the rest of this entry »