On Monopolies

Botanists define a rheophyte as an aquatic plant that thrives in swift-moving water. Coming from the Greek word rhéos, meaning a flow or stream, the term describes plants with wide roots and flexible stalks, well adapted to strong currents rather than a pond’s or pasture’s stillness. For most of the 20th century, U.S. lawmakers worked to maintain just these sorts of conditions for the U.S. economy—a dynamic system, briskly flowing, that forced firms to adapt to the unpredictable currents of the free market or be washed away.

In the past few decades, however, the economy has come to resemble something more like a stagnant pool. Entrepreneurship, as measured by the rate of new-business formation, has declined in each decade since the 1970s, and adults under 35 (aka Millennials) are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation on record.

This decline in dynamism has coincided with the rise of extraordinarily large and profitable firms that look discomfortingly like the monopolies and oligopolies of the 19th century. American strip malls and yellow pages used to brim with new small businesses. But today, in a lot where several mom-and-pop shops might once have opened, Walmart spawns another superstore. In almost every sector of the economy—including manufacturing, construction, retail, and the entire service sector—the big companies are getting bigger. The share of all businesses that are new firms, meanwhile, has fallen by 50 percent since 1978. According to the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank dedicated to advancing the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, “markets are now more concentrated and less competitive than at any point since the Gilded Age.”

On Monopolies

Rigged? Trump’s a Buffoon

Let me explain something.

I’ve worked for the Feds for nearly 30 years. In those 30 years the Department I’ve toiled for has been reorganized at least ten times; the division I work in has been reorganized, on average, every 18 months. Each and every time a reorg comes down the pike, all large-scale efforts come to a halt while senior management figures out a way to accomplish their Congressionally directed mission within the latest reconfiguration of resources.

This process often takes months.

Months in which the worker bees 1 buzz about in place. That is to say, normal day-to-day operations still occur, but everything else is put on hold; any planned initiative, new program or reforms are dropped like polonium-filled potatoes. And this effect is greatly exacerbated in years Congress, in its great cowardice, issues continuing resolutions 2 instead of doing a complete and thorough appropriation process for all cabinet-level Departments, as is their Constitutionally mandated duty.

Finally, when a reorganization occurs (as in this year) close to a national election, that hurry up and wait effect is compounded exponentially as everyone from each Secretary of all cabinet-level Departments down to every agency head (and the SES slots therein) have already tendered their resignations and are busy too looking for work right now to think about getting up to any mischief.

If it’s helpful, try to think of the Federal government executive management as running a cruise ship; all the presidential and political appointees crew and staff that liner, with the SESers climbing aboard for the ride. Well, as of about 2 months ago that vessel went on auto-pilot, and it will remain that way until whomever next occupies the White House signals the liner about whom –if anyone– will remain aboard for the next cruise.

Immediately after January 20th a new crew and staff will replace the disembarking staff, with the SESers, in many cases, being summarily heaved over the side. Those lucky enough not to tossed into the political seas will scatter to remote islands to finish out their careers.

Got it? Anyone with any amount of influence within the Federal government is either too busy looking for work to pull any shenanigans, or too apathetic to try and cause any havoc, much less put together the necessarily overly large cross contingency of employees and contractors needed to try and rig a national election. 3

Now…how an election might be rigged at the local level I was unsure of. So I went looking to see if I could find a template and came up with the below. Perhaps you will find it useful…

Rigged? Trump's a Buffoon

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Generally speaking, GS-13s and below.
  2. See here.
  3. Regardless of the schizophrenic guidelines for military officers regarding politics, the exception here is the armed services; if anything they are all on heightened alert status. This is true every time a presidential transfer of power occurs.

Werewolves, Vaccines and Vampires

Apparently Lee’s Summit residents nail silver crosses, garlic cloves and religious exemption letters to their doorways, lest a werewolf, vampire or a doctor with a dose of measles vaccine threaten them…

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — More families are opting out of vaccinations for their children in the Lee’s Summit School District.

“If you don’t vaccinate your child they’re going to be subject to spreading life-threatening disease. Their life is at risk as well. I think it’s irresponsible not to,” said Michelle Higinbotham.

She vaccinated her three children; it was no different for her granddaughter, Willa. But the number of parents choosing not to vaccinate for religious reasons is on the rise in the Lee’s Summit School District. Pediatrician Steve Lauer works at The University of Kansas Hospital.

“People are, in our views, misusing that as a way or just saying we don’t want to have this done. It’s still an exemption on the books in many states and can be used for that,” he said. “We think that’s a mistake and really shouldn’t be a part of the deal. There are some states moving away from that now as we see a rise in vaccine preventable disease.”

Over the past five years, the number of families claiming religious exemptions has more than doubled in the school district. That means 326 families did not vaccinate their child or children this year…

…The district says parents don’t have to vaccinate if the immunization violates their religious beliefs. Higinbotham says she’s surprised at the number of people using religious exemptions from vaccinations.

“It’s a problem. I don’t think it should be a religious question. The science has shown it’s important and protects children, it saves their lives,” she said.

Werewolves, Vaccines and Vampires

No Fly List

In addition to making the “no fly” list, above moron was just added to the FBI’s “person of interest” list.

But, whatever you do, do NOT refer to him as “deplorable.” That would be wrong; this type of behavior shall henceforth be known as droit de l’unforgivavle.

No Fly List

Mexican Drone Ads for UBER

UBER dronesDrivers stuck in traffic in Mexico City lately have found themselves being buzzed by a fleet of sign-toting drones. “Driving by yourself?” some scolded in Spanish. “This is why you can never see the volcanoes” — a reference to the smog that often hovers over the mega-city and obscures two nearby peaks.

It wasn’t exactly a plea for environmentalism, though — it was an ad for UberPOOL, part of Uber’s big push into markets across Latin America.

Frankly we won’t believe they’re truly Mexican drones until we’ve seen one rolled & tucked and sporting pom-pom fringe. 1

Mexican Drone Ads for UBER

Show 1 footnote

  1. Tejano music emanating from the drone would help, too.

Good News

It’s mid-October. In a very real sense, the election is being held today. I have my absentee ballot, I’ve filled it in and I’m walking it over to the Registrar of Voters today. In a lot of places, people are filling in their ballots, either early voting or absentee. We still have three weeks and change before we know stuff for a fact, but the Trump Slump continues, putting his chances of winning down to 724 parts per million. Obama never had a lead like this over Romney, this looks more like Obama-McCain.

Simply put, it’s a major ass-kicking and it’s very late in the game.

Good News

The Rule of Law

If there’s one country you can depend to on to follow the rule of law, it’s…Iceland.

Iceland’s Supreme Court has return[ed] a guilty verdict for all nine defendants in the Kaupþing market manipulation case, the court trial for which began in April 2015.

Back in June last year, the Reykjavik District Court found seven of the nine defendants guilty, acquitting two.

By fully financing share purchases with no other surety than the shares themselves, the bankers were accused of giving a false and misleading impression of demand for Kaupþingi shares by means of deception and pretence.

The Supreme Court has now overturned the acquittals, finding Björk Þórarinsdóttir (credit representative at Kaupþing) and Magnús Guðmundsson (former CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg) also guilty alongside the other seven.

That’s how it’s done. Also, remember where Iceland forced the banks to pay out 30,000kr to each and every citizen as partial repayment for their part in The Great Recession?

Remind us again? The US Government has done what, exactly, in terms of punishing our financial institutions?

Wake up, people.

The Rule of Law