Posted by: quiscus | September 8, 2010

September 8, 2010

1.  “Report: NATO’s July 2011 ‘Drawdown’ May Not Involve Removing Any Troops

Already Trivialized by Most, Will Strategy Now Involve Shifting Troops Around?”

2.  “Rupert Murdoch Helping Fund North Korean Regime of Kim Jong Il”

3.  “Bankers, Bookies, and Gamblers

It seems that as a society we have lost sight of the crucial difference between productive investment and gambling, between the banker and the bookie, and between the insurer and the speculator.

Productive investment in a farm, a factory, a restaurant, a retail store, a cleaning service, education, physical infrastructure, and much more increases the real wealth of the society. The proper function of the banker is to convert savings into productive investment. The role of the bookie is to calculate the odds and hold the bets of people who are gambling on the outcome of a race in which they have no other skin in the game. Gambling on which horse is going to win the Kentucky Derby produces no new value for society.

Wall Street defenders commonly argue that Wall Street speculation stabilizes markets and protects real producers and real consumers from disruptive price swings. Beyond the mounting evidence that Wall Street speculation often creates and accentuates price volatility, this represents a failure to distinguish between the function of the insurer, who serves a vitally important social function by pooling risks to folks who have real skin in the game, and that of the speculator who has no other skin in the game beyond the bet placed with the bookie. It is entirely proper for me to take out fire insurance on my home. It is something else entirely when a stranger places a bet that my house will be destroyed by fire in the coming month.

Conventional banking and insurance are beneficial, indeed essential, social functions and they merit the support of public policy. These functions, however, are of little interest to Wall Street bankers who find gambling, bookmaking, usury, financial fraud, extortion, and the inflation of financial bubbles to be more profitable lines of business. With the benefit of massive public bailout funds, Wall Street is back to business as usual. Productive Main Street businesses continue to be starved of credit, however, because Wall Street is not in the business of funding productive investment.

Whether Wall Street banks have a right to engage in purely predatory activities may be subject to debate. Surely, however, reasonable people can agree that such activities should not enjoy the support of public subsidies and guarantees.”

4.  “Life destroyed by Corporate Agribusiness”: Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir”

5.  “U.S. Aim in “Peace Process”: Liquidation of Palestinian struggle”

6.  “ Time Magazine has a lengthy new article examining — and largely deriding — the intensifying fight over net neutrality.  Just as was true for prior articles on this topic, Time does so without bothering to mention that the corporation which owns it, Time Warner Inc., is vehemently opposed to net neutrality and is pressuring the FCC to refrain from enforcing its principles.  As both a cable provider and owner of massive amounts of entertainment content, Time Warner loathes net neutrality.  One would think that ought to be disclosed by the corporation’s news magazine when purporting to report on the issue.  Moreover, as the article note, many of the anti-net-neutrality groups — including those purporting to be grassroots groups — are covertly funded by large telecommunications companies, but the article says nothing about whether any Time Warner properties provide any such funding (see Update for correction).  The nature of a corporatized media is such that these conflicts are so pervasive that ignoring them is the norm.”


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