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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More Ross Macdonald

In a previous blog I talked about the Lew Archer series of detective novels written by Ross Macdonald (Kenneth Millar).  After rereading all of the Lew Archer novels in recent months, I reread all six of Ross Macdonald's other novels, which I bought in paperback form in the 1970s.  These novels are:

The Dark Tunnel - 1944

Trouble Follows Me - 1946

Blue City - 1947

The Three Roads - 1948

Meet Me at the Morgue - 1953

The Ferguson Affair - 1960

All of these novels are terrific reads.  Each is a form of detective story.  

One of the most interesting aspects of reading these novels, most published in the late 1940s, is the economics of the era.  Salaries are mentioned for a few jobs.  Meal costs are mentioned in some of the books.  Costs for a variety of consumer items are mentioned.  For the same salary today or the cost of the same item available today there is a difference of 10 to 15 times, reflecting the inflation that has occurred during the past 70 years.  The combination of the very long actions of the US government and the Federal Reserve have destroyed the buying power of the US dollar.  When was the last time you purchased breakfast for less than one dollar. 

The early novels were written during or just after World War II.  They reflect impacts of the war on the lives of individuals featured in the novels.  Very few people alive today were adults during the war and collectively we have very little appreciation for magnitude of the impact of the war on everyday life.  This is a very interesting side element of the novels. 

Not everyone is interesting in reading old detective novels. I enjoyed all of Ross Macdonald's work in the 1970s when I first discovered them and today about 40 years later.  Maybe you can find them in your local library, in a used book store, antique store or on-line.  They are worth the effort to find and read. 

TPM

1:34 pm          Comments

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The New Case for Gold

In 2010 I published my article The Case for Gold, http://thepurplemuse.com/id29.html.  I completely updated my article in 2013.  Last week James Rickards' new book, The New Case for Gold, hit book stores.  It is time for me to update my article again.   Some of the points Rickards makes in The New Case for Gold were previously made in his first two books, Currency Wars and The Death of Money.  However, in his new book Rickards' primary emphasis is on the future role of gold in the world monetary system.  Rickards also makes the case for a ten percent allocation of a persons net worth to gold.

In this era of electronic money and the attempt of governments to reduce or eliminate private currency transactions, how can gold possibly be important to the global financial system?  Rickards explains that gold is the bed rock behind the financial systems of all major nations.  Governments and central banks don't want to tell the public this is true because they want to continue converting the world to electronic money they can control.  It is very clear that without its gold stocks, the Federal System is very close to being insolvent.  Rickards clearly explains why this is the case. 

In making the new case for gold Rickards discusses the US Federal Reserve, global central banks, the International Monetary Fund, the Bank of International Settlements and the G20.  He explains the global economic competition between China, Russia, the United States and Europe and the role of gold in establishing relative economic power now and in the future.  Rickards continues his discussion from his first two books regarding the inherent economic instability in the current global economy.  Rickards explains why we will have another global financial crisis that will be more difficult to deal with than the 2007/2008 financial crisis. 

Rickards has written a book that everyone can read.  It is not long.  It is direct and to the point.  It is not written in an academic tone.  It is written in everyday language that most people can comprehend easily.  I just watched Rickards appear on CNBC with Rick Santelli to promote the book.  If you care about preserving wealth over the long term I recommend you read The New Case for Gold

TPM

10:53 am          Comments

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Trump and Dark Money

We are now deep into the 2016 election cycle.  The success of Donald Trump in the Republican primaries held to date has been a shock to the Republican establishment and the left leaning main stream media.  The Republican establishment appears to be working extremely hard to find a way to deny Trump the nomination.  Much of the media and its stable of "expert" talking heads are attacking Trump at every opportunity.  So far Trump has knocked 14 opponents out of the race and has a solid delegate lead.  Can Trump win a majority of Republican delegates in advance of the convention?  We will learn the answer during the next three months.

It isn't often that one finds a new book in a book store that relates directly to current events.  However, it happened to me a few weeks ago when I picked up a brand new book by Jane Mayer, Dark Money - The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.  Mayer explains how some of the richest people in the United States lead by Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries, have led the Conservative political revolution that has fundamentally changed the US political system.  Mayer's book is extremely well researched with names of people, names of organizations, amounts of money raised for conservative activism and dates of meetings and events all put into context of the conservative movement. 

Many of us have heard of many of the people and organizations involved in the Conservative movement.  Mayer tells a pretty complete story about how the Conservative movement developed over 40 years.  It appears from the tone of the book that Mayer is a left leaning person and may be very liberal progressive in her personal views.  The book doesn't discuss any details of liberal progressive organizations that have been involved in similar political activity.  If you read the book it won't appear fair and balanced.  The analysis of the history of liberal progressive activity is a different issue for a different day.  Mayer has exposed the warts of the Conservative movement and that is a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding our recent political history. 

Some of the significant questions that were raised in my mind when I read Dark Money include the following: 

Have we let tax-exempt organizations get out-of-control when using its funding for political purposes?  Why haven't our tax laws been enforced in this area? 

Should extremely wealthy people be permitted to use their fortunes to influence politics in the United States at any level of government?  If we want to set limits, how do we enforce them? 

Has our education system at all levels been compromised by political activists of all types?  What can we do about it?  Is there any form of centered education? 

What should our Federal income and estate tax rates be in the United States?  How much should the richest contribute to help the poorest in our nation make progress?  

I have a few policy thoughts after reading the book that I believe everyone should think about. 

Massive amounts of pollution of our land and water by a variety of industries has damaged many areas of the United States, either permanently or requiring massive amounts of money to remove the pollutants.  It is unacceptable for industries to rape our land and water for their profit and leave the clean-up to the public.  It is also unacceptable for regulators like the Environmental Protection Agency to create regulations that make doing business financially impossible.  There has to be an economic reality element to the environmental decision making process. 

It is very obvious that emitting black smoke into the air from human activity isn't good.  It is clear that smog over our cities created by human activity isn't good.  It is also clear that attempting to fundamentally rework the energy footprint of the United States without regard to market forces and economics in order to achieve an arbitrary climate change objective doesn't make sense either.  This is even more important when one considers what is happening or not happening in the rest of the world on this issue.  Making our overall environment cleaner is a good objective we should all help to achieve, but the extremists on both sides need to work toward rational objectives we can all support.  We don't need to be spending billions of government dollars that don't make economic sense to achieve artificial objectives. 

So how does Dark Money relate to the rise of Donald Trump.  The last section of the last chapter of Dark Money discusses the plans of the Koch brothers and their team of donors and conservative activists to raise and spend $889B for the 2016 election cycle.  The fund raising began in January 2015.  At that time Donald Trump was not in the picture.  The Conservatives envisioned using their money to capture the presidency as the capstone to their decades of efforts.  They envisioned a committed Conservative to follow their doctrine after taking over the White House. 

Guess what happened?  Donald Trump joined the race in June and decided to self-fund his campaign and eliminate the influence of the wealthy Republican donor community including the Conservative faction led by the Koch brothers.  By self-funding his campaign and appealling to people that have been left behind by globalization; those people that are frustrated by failure of Republicans to accomplish anything meaningful in the governing process in Washington even though they have Congressional majorities; and those that are fed up with political correctness of the liberal progessives; Trump has taken a significant lead and is now the favorite to win the Republican nomination.  All the big money players and big power establishment people have been left behind by Trump and a couple of his campaign people  and they can't stand the thought of a Republican president being elected and they have no influence over him.  All the "experts" of early 2015 were grossly wrong 14 months later. We will see what happens in the months ahead. 

Dark Money is an extremely interesting book for those interested in the subject matter.  The questions raised by the book are legitimate and apply to all players in our political process.  As a nation we have to decide who are and how we want to conduct our political process and manage our nation.  Do we want to elect legislators that have been bought by special interests? 

Lots of questions, not enough answers. 

TPM

11:16 pm          Comments

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Magicians of the Gods

I have commented on many books during the past few years and rarely have I been waiting with a great deal of anticipation for the publication of a book.  Graham Hancock's new book, Magicians of the Gods - The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization, which was published in late 2015, is one of the books I couldn't wait to read.  Magicians of the Gods is a sequel to Hancock's 1995 book, Fingerprints of the Gods.  I highly recommend that anyone that is interested in learning more about Hancock's view of our ancient history read this book. 

Ancient history is probably the wrong term.  What Hancock really addresses is the prehistory of our planet.  He discusses new discoveries by the scientific community during the past 15 years or so.  Hancock's fundamental contribution to the topic area is his integration of large amounts of new information from all over the world.  Hancock is the "systems engineer" of pre-history.  He is attempting to explain all of the new findings in a context that makes sense in a logical flow of history.  One can't ignore new information and pretend it doesn't exist.  New information must fit into our "system" of history.  Traditional archaeologists and historians tend to ignore data that is inconvenient to their established theories because to make a significant change means people with established reputations are wrong.  Very few people like to admit that they are and have been wrong and they must adapt to new facts. 

Hancock has traveled the world, including Turkey, Indonesia, Lebanon, Peru, and the United States, in researching this book.  He has read scientific papers that very few of us in the general public would ever see, much less read, and extracted the essence of them for the benefit of the reader.  

How did we get to where we are today?  What happened thousands of years ago that helped shape our destiny?  Graham Hancock has attempted to help us answer these questions in Magicians of the Gods

TPM

3:10 pm          Comments

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Devil's Chessboard

If any of my readers are interested in obtaining a better understanding of the life and times of Allen Dulles, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, I suggest you read David Talbot's new book, The Devil's Chessboard - Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America's Secret Government.  I have no doubt that as you read the book you will experience a range of emotions depending on your political perspective on the US political and economic scene in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. 

Allen Dulles is one of the most important government figures in our national history and most US citizens know nothing about him.  Some people have heard of Dulles International Airport which serves the Washington, DC area.  The airport is named after John Foster Dulles, the older brother of Allen Dulles, and former Secretary of State under President Eisenhower.  Allen Dulles was one of the original Cold Warriors, an extremely powerful man that oversaw the development of the CIA into an extremely powerful military/intelligence organization. 

Talbot explains how the Dulles brothers began their careers as Wall Street lawyers dedicated to serving America's largest banks and corporations as they expanded their business around the world.  Allen Dulles became part of the US government intelligence community before World War II.  Even as the US was fighting Nazi Germany Allen Dulles was developing relationships with key Nazis that he would establish in the US and German intelligence community as part of his effort to engage the communists in the USSR and other European nations.  Dulles was an important figure in the OSS, the predecessor to the CIA under Roosevelt and Truman. 

Talbot tells the Dulles story during this entire period.  I believe Talbot is telling the truth about what happened.  President Eisenhower lost control of the Dulles led CIA during his eight years in office.  It is hard to believe some of the actions that were taken by our government that were outright evil but justified at the time as protecting our nation from Communists.  We can trace many of the issues we are dealing with today to the actions Allen Dulles took in the 1950s.  Who benefited from many of Dulles actions?  The banks and corporations that were the Dulles brothers clients when they were Wall Street lawyers. 

When John F. Kennedy was elected President he made the decision to keep Allen Dulles as Director of the CIA.  Talbot explains how JFK and his brother Robert began the process of changing the fundamental direction of the nation.  Allen Dulles and his long time "sponsors" despised JFK and the direction he was headed.  Talbot provides substantial evidence that Allen Dulles, after being fired by JFK from his job, was the central figure that organized the operation that resulted in President Kennedy's assassination.  After all the information I have received on this topic and discussed in detail on this site, I believe Talbot's conclusion is correct.  Until the final classified documents on this topic are released by the government we will not know absolutely for sure, and maybe not even then.  But the weight of the evidence that has been developed for over 50 years by many researchers supports Talbot's conclusions. 

Part of the title of the book is "the Rise of America's Secret Government".  There is no doubt that during the administrations of Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy, the President of the United States couldn't control the actions of intelligence organizations that appeared to march to the directions of a different drummer, namely banks and very large corporations.  Has anything really changed since then?  Who is really controlling US policy around the world?  Is it the President of the United States and his advisor's?  Or does part of our government respond directly to the desires of others? 

I hope we have put the "Secret Government" behind us, but who knows what is really happening.  Has anything really changed in the past 50 years.  Is The Devil's Chessboard even more complex today?

TPM

9:20 pm          Comments

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