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The Purple Muse

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Welcome to the web site of The Purple Muse.  We offer commentary and opinion on the major issues being debated in our world today.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Gods of Eden

A few months ago I was ordering some books on-line when I noticed a book I has never heard of before.  It was a paperback.  It was inexpensive.  The subject matter looked interesting.  I ordered The Gods of Eden by William Bramley.  Due to my personal schedule, the subject matter and the length of the book, it took me over a month to read The Gods of Eden  from beginning to endIs the author's analysis of our world right or wrong?  I don't know.  After reading the book and thinking about it, I can't accept the author's analysis and conclusions as fact or dismiss it as complete fiction.  I will tell you a little bit about the book and you can decide if you want to read it or not.

The Gods of Eden was first published in 1989.  Twenty-five years have passed since Bramley finished the book.  Bramley originally "began researching the origins of human warfare."  "The Gods of Eden is written for those people who already take seriously the possibility that Earth has been visited by an extraterrestrial society."  Bramley's fundamental conclusion after completing his research is stated as follows:

"Human beings appear to be a slave race languishing on an isolated planet in a small galaxy.  As such, the human race was once a source of labor for an extraterrestrial civilization and still remains a possession today.  To keep control over its possessions and to maintain Earth as something of a prison, that other civilization has bred never-ending conflict between human beings, has promoted human spiritual decay, and has erected on Earth conditions of unremitting physical hardship. This situation has existed for thousands of years and it continues today."

The book is Bramley's explanation as to why he believes his conclusion stated above is true.  He discusses the historical role of the "Custodians",  the "specific extraterrestrial society (or succession of societies) which appears to have had ownership and custody of the earth since prehistory."  Bramley also explains the role of the "Brotherhood" throughout history.  The "Brotherhood" started out thousands of years ago as good guys.  Unfortunately, the "Brotherhood" evolved into very sophisticated bad guys that sometimes seem to be good guys, but are really bad guys when you get into details and put their actions into a spiritual context. The "Brotherhood" is responsible for most of the bad things that have happened on our planet for thousands of years, including wars.

Bramley covers thousands of years of history in 400 plus years of paperback book pages. His theory is extremely interesting but at times he gets lost in the details of a particular era and tells the same story others have told but in his context.  Bramley could have written The Gods of Eden in many volumes if he had desired to pursue it, but he didn't. He hopes that others will continue his research. Based on other books I have read that written within the past twenty-five years, I believe they have.  The search for truth continues.

TPM
9:19 pm          Comments

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Urban vs Suburbs vs Rural vs Industrial

This weekend my wife and I traveled to North Central Pennsylvania and Southern New York and passed through parts of Maryland and Virginia.  Earlier this summer we drove through Oklahoma, Missouri, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York City, Philadelphia and New Jersey.  We have traveled through many of the states of the United States of America in recent years.

During our travels this weekend we saw acres and acres of corn ready to be harvested.  We saw signs with directions to wineries in Pennsylvania and Virginia.  We drove along major rivers and railroads.  We have driven though the urban areas and the suburbs of major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington,  Orlando,  Phoenix, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Seattle and the San Francisco Bay area in recent years.  And we have visited and driven through many other cities and towns across the country.  A lot of our discussion while driving is about the tremendous diversity of life styles of the people living in all of these different areas.  Some of the areas are similar.  The corn fields of rural Missouri and the corn fields of Pennsylvania look very similar as we drive down the highway.  Some of the urban areas of New York and St. Louis look very similar.  Each state we visited has a huge variation of circumstances of the people that live there.  There are urban, suburban , rural and industrial areas in most, but not all, states. 

How does a state government provide the services its people need with all the diversity present in many states?  How does our Federal government create programs that have impact millions of people in widely differing circumstances?  Can Federal programs ever be fair?  Since the Federal government is so far away from dealing with the actual circumstances that exist does it make sense for many Federal programs to exist?

The more we travel around the country, the more ingrained our belief is that the concept of solving local issues at the Federal level is totally flawed.  It is not possible to develop programs where one size fits all.  The needs of people in different parts of the country are vastly different.  Many states are so diverse it is extremely difficult for state governments to deal with the diversity within the state.  Local problems must be solved locally whenever possible. 

The United States, both its people and government, has not adjusted to the increased diversity of lifestyle, culture and economics throughout our nation.  We need a fundamental change in philosophy is we are going to make major problems in solving our problems.  At the core of the needed changes is a need to move as much decision making as possible to the state and local level.  Citizens in urban areas, city suburbs, rural areas and industrial zones need uniquely focused government that works for each of them.

TPM

9:59 pm          Comments

Monday, August 25, 2014

Redevelop and Recycle Major US Cities

My wife and I traveled to Oklahoma and Missouri a couple of weeks ago.  We arrived in the St. Louis area the day after the Ferguson, Missouri ( an urban suburb of St. Louis) riots began following the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer.  During our two days of visiting the city of St. Louis we had an opportunity to drive around some of the less desirable residential neighborhoods of the city and see some of the abandoned industrial areas.  The city of St. Louis has a population of about 300,000 compared to its peak population of 856,000 in 1950.  Like Detroit and many other US cities the maximum population and operating industrial capacity peaked in the early 1950s.  Since the post World War II period many changes have occurred in the economies of US cities.  Much of the abandoned property looks as if it has been existing in a war zone.  The reduction of property values in all cities impacted by the reduced population and industrial activity has created large areas of poverty with no hope for revitalization.

The time has come for all Americans to make a major investment in the redevelopment of abandoned urban land and recycling of building materials that are salvageable.  Small scale programs of this type have been initiated in Detroit and Cleveland.  It is time for the US government to launch a major program that cleans up a significant percentage of the abandoned property over the next 10 years.  I don't know how much it would cost but an investment of $100B over the next 5 years would be a good start.  I see the federal government issuing grants to US cities and counties to execute specific proposals to clean-up blighted areas.  The contractors hired to do the work must commit to hiring workers from the impacted areas so that skills can be learned and money injected into the local economies.  Once the land has been cleared the land must be returned  to natural state with trees, grasses or other natural covering.  After clearing the land the ownership would remain with the city or country administering the program.  It would be hoped that at some time in the future the land could be returned to productive use.  All funds generated from the sale of recycled materials would remain with the city or country administering the program.  In the mean time the land would be green space within the urban area, not a blighted area.

I would prefer for this program to be funded through the transfer of budget dollars from entitlement programs.  However, if necessary, I would be willing to transfer spending from other budget areas to fund this program.  I would even be willing to include this program in a overall budget deal that is developed consistent with the Simpson-Bowles fiscal responsibility recommendations. 

We all need to help redevelop and recycle blighted portions of US cities where many of our parents and grandparents grew up and the businesses that helped make the US a great country got started.  We can also help some of the people living in these areas do some productive work and gain some marketable skills.  We can also help our large urban areas improve their competitiveness in attracting new business and residents,  Recycling materials is also a good thing.

The time has come to redevelop and recycle major US cities.

TPM

5:58 pm          Comments

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Haunted Empire - Apple After Steve Jobs

Sometimes interesting books appear completely unexpectedly.  I recently received Haunted Empire - Apple After Steve Jobs by Yukari Iwatani Kane as a gift.  This book is essentially a sequel to Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs with respect to the future direction of Apple Inc. and the lasting influence of Steve Jobs on the direction of the company.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in understanding how Apple has evolved over the past couple of years.  The manuscript was completed late last year so it is very current on all of the issues that Apple and its Chief Executive Officer, Tim Cook, have faced since the death of Steve Jobs.

It is clear the author believes that Apple is a company that has peaked in terms of its overall market influence and is now in a long term decline.  Apple has performed fairly well financially since Jobs death but the market (high tech, investors, users, media) continues to express concerns that Apple has not revealed its next blockbuster product area (wearable tech, Apple TV, or something else).  As I read the book I could almost hear Ms. Kane laughing at Apple's recent PR efforts to convince the market that their minor product upgrades are a big deal.  From the author's perspective Apple has passed its technology leadership position to other companies like Samsung and Google.

The book includes interesting discussions of many of Apples big issues that they have had to address over the past few years such as:  labor issues at its supplier factories in China; intellectual property battle with Samsung in courts all over the world; its international corporate structure designed to minimize US taxes and its legal problems related to its e-book business plan. Apple in one of the largest, if not the largest, publicly traded company in the world in terms of market capitalization.  It is no longer the small technology company trying to beat the big guys.  It is the biggest of the big guys.

We will see if the author is correct in her assessment.  Will Apple develop a sensational  new product line?  Can Apple keep growing the company and maintain its profit margins?  Will Apple's major legal issues finally get resolved?  Stay tuned.  I am sure there will be many more books about the legacy of Steve Jobs and the history of Apple in the years to come.

TPM

9:48 pm          Comments

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Value of Labor

I was reading an excerpt from Wonkblog in the Wednesday, July 30, Washington Post today.  Matt O'Brien, the author, was lamenting "for the middle and working classes, real wages have been stagnant for the past 30 years and housing equity has taken a nose dive.  At this rate, it won't be long until the American Dream isn't even a memory for the middle class."  O'Brien doesn't provide any causes for the outcome that he accurately described.

The fundamental underlying cause for the American loss of middle class income and wealth is the increased participation in the global economy of hundreds of millions of workers in China, India and other Asian nations during the same period.  The value of labor around the world has been reset by market forces greater than the power any individual government.  Once trade agreements were established and the World Trade organization was created the power of global competition for work and jobs was unleashed.  US workers protected status that had existed since World War II was removed.  US workers have been forced to compete against hundreds of millions of low wage workers that were never part of the global economy in earlier decades.  When large amounts of new capacity are added to any market the value of the product declines.  In this case the product is unskilled and semiskilled labor.  US labor has a lower market value today than it did 30 years ago because of a massive increase in global labor supply.  It is a market fact.  It should be no surprise. 

Politicians don't want to discuss the truth behind this issue.  They talk about redistribution of wealth and fairness.  They don't talk about the fact that the global trade rules were changed by actions by governments.  Market forces worked.  The governments didn't understand the impact of unleashing the forces of a truly global labor market.  Or maybe they did understand what would happen and didn't tell the people the truth when the rules were changed.  After all, hundreds of millions of people in other parts of the world have much improved living standards.  On a global basis the world is better off.  Some people won, some people lost. 

US unskilled and semiskilled labor were among the losers.  The only way to materially impact this problem is for US citizens to increase their competitiveness through education and training.  There is no other way.  Handing out free stuff by the government doesn't solve any problem over the long term.  US citizens must increase the value of their labor significantly if they want their labor to have a value that delivers a comfortable life.

TPM

11:38 pm          Comments

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