The Weiner Component V.2 #39 – Money & the President: Part 5: Barack Obama

Official photographic portrait of US President...

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. VIRIN: 090120-F-3961R-919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Barack H. Obama was elected in November of 2008.  He assumed the Presidency on January 20, 2009, inheriting a country on the verge of a massive depression whose economic downfall could also have brought down the rest of the Industrial nations of the world.

 

Most of the banking houses within the United States were close to if not at the point of bankruptcy.  They had been involved for the last 30 to 40 years in a process of increasing the amount of available currency in the overall economy by financing and continually refinancing a large percentage of American homes, and in doing this raising property values virtually to the clouds.  Their philosophy at that time was for homeowners to use their properties as bank accounts by continually refinancing them.  During the year 2008 this Real Estate Bubble burst with property values crashing in some cases 60 to 80 percent.  Initially in 2008 former President George W. Bush had partially bailed out some of the banks before he left office; but the bulk of this problem was left to the new incoming President, Barack Obama.

 

Among other things the country faced, with the sudden fall of values and the fact that the banks suddenly stopped refinancing homes, was a sudden massive level of unemployment.  On the one hand many people owed more on their homes than they were worth and on the other hand, because of the sudden massive unemployment, many people were no longer able to afford to make their monthly mortgage payments, even if the value of their homes was above their mortgage debt.

 

It should be noted that if a large percentage of the banks were allowed to fail then the movement of money within and across the country would slow to a trickle destroying the economy for a number of years until a new banking system could be set up, however long that took.  In 1929 with the Great Depression the disintegration lasted until the 1940s, the outbreak of World War II.  This one with its added complications could last 20 to 30 years, if not longer.

 

Another immediate problem was the fact that the numerous Hedge Funds that had bought the original mortgages, each of which had been divided up into a hundred or more pieces and sold piece by piece to different Hedge Funds, had very sloppy records of these transactions.  The banks sold the mortgages and/or set up their own Hedge Funds. Then they continued to administer them but no longer owned the mortgages.  At this point mortgage money was no longer coming in.  The banks stopped receiving their fees and the Hedge Funds no longer received their incomes.  What emerged was an impossible situation.

 

The problem here was that no one owned enough of a mortgage to foreclose legally on a property for nonpayment of the mortgage.  Ownership, however, did not bother the banks, many began foreclosing on properties they did not own but did service.  Initially the courts felt that the banks would do nothing illegal.  When it was proven that the banks were acting illegally the practice was stopped by the courts and those banks were heavily fined.  People who had been foreclosed illegally in some cases received some financial compensation from the banks.  Other than that no one from the banks was charged with criminal activity.

 

President Barack Obama made hugh government loans to the banks.  He also bailed out the American auto industry.  These were all interest bearing loans.  Former President George W. Bush had signed the 2009 Budget the prior year into law.  President Obama needed an additional amount over 300 billion dollars to fund all the loans.  A Democratic Congress authorized the amount needed and the Federal Government  was eventually mostly paid back with interest.  The companies that did not pay their loans back went bankrupt.

 

President Obama made a point that the near-bankrupt banks could no longer compensate their executive with million dollar salaries.  Their leaders had, after all, brought these financial institutions practically into bankruptcy.  The CEO of the Bank of America complained vigorously that his company would pay back their loans as soon as possible so they could get back to paying their executives proper compensations.

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Immediately upon assuming the presidency the Obama Administration faced two massive problems: one was a high rise in unemployment; and the other was the fact that most of those homes whose value had collapsed had mortgages that each had hundreds of owners.  Actually no one held enough of a mortgage to do anything with it.  In reality this meant that no one really owned the houses.  Functionally if nothing was done to alter the situation then it would take at the very least one or two decades for the problem to be resolved.

 

No one owned enough of a mortgage to do anything with it.  The people in these homes could go one living there without making payments, which in many cases was happening because of the unemployment, and no one could foreclose on them.  Of course no one knew which homes came under this and which did not.  But in time many homeowners figured it out.  They had made no mortgage payments and no one bothered them.  Many of these people were employed or became eventually employed and still made no mortgage payments.  Instead they ended up with more money than they ordinarily had when they were employed and so they spent this money in restaurants or other places essentially enjoying themselves and also helping economic growth.

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What the Obama Administration had been able to do was to turn a potential depression that would have been larger than the Great Depression of 1929 into what has been called the Great Recession.  By the use of money they made a potentially massive depression into a recession from which the country recovered while Obama was still President of the United States.

 

The mortgage dilemma which ordinarily should have taken a decade or more to resolve was solved by President Obama and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.  For a term of a little over two years, during President Obama’s second term in office, the Federal Reserve bought $50 billion worth of mortgage paper a month and then destroyed or discarded the mortgage pieces.  Fifty billion a month for a period of two years is one trillion, 200 million dollars’ worth of mortgage pieces.  In addition the government also added this same amount of money to the National Cash Flow.

 

In essence the Obama Administration bought the country out of a potential depression and recession.  Adding all this money to the economy did not cause any real inflation.  Instead it reduced unemployment to under 4% toward the end of President Obama second term in office and essentially brought about a return to a positive and healthy functional economy.  Interestingly neither Obama nor Bernanke flaunted this fact and not only did they get no credit for it, most people didn’t even know it happened.

 

In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt doubled the money supply in the U.S. but the Great Depression did not really end until World War II.  In 2015 Barack Obama more than quadrupled the money supply and ended the Great Recession.  The country learned a lot economically over the years.  Money was accepted by the Federal Government as a tool to end National economic disasters.  It was no longer an object of value.

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Shortly after Barack Obama assumed the Presidency the Republicans from both Houses of Congress met in caucus and concluded that they would make Obama a one term President.  Was this because he was Black or because he was a Democrat?  For whichever reason they would support nothing for which he could gain credit.

 

At this time, 2009, the Republicans were in a minority position in both Houses of Congress.  After the midterm election of 2010 the Republicans would gain the majority in the House of Representatives and keep it for the rest of President Obama’s term of office.  In 2014, for his last two years in office, the Republicans would also gain the majority in the Senate.  As a consequence after his first two years as President it would be impossible for President Obama to achieve any new legislation.  He would essentially run the country by executive orders.

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As a footnote included in the text of this essay we should consider what might have happened if the Republican candidate, John McCain had won the 2008 Election.  How would he have run the United States as President?  The probability is that he would have had the same problems that President Herbert Hoover had from 1929 to 1933.  The country would have fallen into and continued with a Grand Depression.  There is no way that McCain would have had the imagination to do what President Barack Obama did.

 

During his first two years in office President Barack Obama not only modified what might had been a massive depression he also got through Congress a great deal of positive legislation.  Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was later known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  In order to avoid a repeat of the 2008 Property Bubble Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that the President signed.  There was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  In addition he signed Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and the Job Creation Act of 2010.  For the military there was the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.  Sexual orientation was no longer to be considered in the military.

 

By 2011 the Republicans or GOP gained control of the House of Representatives.  After a lengthy debate the President signed the Budget Control and American Taxpayer Relief Act.  As the President and the House of Representatives could not come to any agreement of funding the government this bill was signed as a compromise.  The House wanted to cut entitlement programs and increase military spending while the Administration refused to support cutting entitlement programs.  What occurred was sequestration.  If the President and Congress could not work out any way to reduce government spending then beginning in 2013 the Sequester would come into being.  This would automatically reduce an equal percentage of all aspects of Federal spending.  It officially began on March 1, 2013.  Exceptions could be made but each required a separate bill from Congress signed by the President.  Sequestration is still with the Federal Government.

 

During his second term in office the President In addition to Sequestration increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, reduced nuclear weapons with the United States-Russia New START Treaty, largely ended military involvement in the Iraq War and ordered military operations that brought about the death of Osama bin Laden.

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In 2012 President Barack Obama ran for a second term against the Republican, Mitt Romney.  What was fascinating in the election was the shortness of the Republican memory.  One of the things Romney promised was to do away with all the legislation that was passed to do away with the abuses that had caused the 2008 Real Estate Bubble.  All of that would wait another four years for when Donald Trump became President.

 

In this four year period President Obama promoted the LGBT Americans with his Administration filing briefs that urged the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional.  Obama also urged gun control after shootings.  He strongly supported climate change and immigration.  Militarily he ordered intervention in Iraq and continued operations in Afghanistan.  He supported the Paris Agreement on global climate change and initiated sanctions against Russia after the invasion in Ukraine and interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  He also, after over one half a century, normalized U.S. relations with Cuba.  President Obama left office in January with a 60% approval rating.

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When President Barack Obama assumed the office of President of the United States the population of the country, according to the Census Bureau was 306.77 million people.  At the end of his eight year term it had grown to 325.34 million people.  An increase of 18.57 million persons.  People or whose antecedents’ had come from all over the planet changing the population so that Caucasians were no longer the majority of the population.  They continued as a large minority within the population.

 

It should also be noted that in 2009, at the end of the George W. Bush Administration, the National Debt was 10.6 trillion dollars, doubled from the end of the Clinton Era.  By January of 2017 it was 18 trillion dollars.  It had been extremely expensive keeping a Grand Depression from happening.  The alternative for the American people would have been total disaster.

 

The Weiner Component V.2 #38 – Money & the Presidents: Part 4

English: Official photograph portrait of forme...

English: Official photograph portrait of former U.S. President George W. Bush. Português: Foto oficial de George W. Bush, presidente dos Estados Unidos da América. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. President George W. Bush and Afghan Presi...

U.S. President George W. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai appear together Wednesday, March 1, 2006, at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afganistan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clinton raised taxes for the very wealthy and lowered them for everyone else.  There was prosperity with deficit reduction for his last three years in office.  George W. Bush lowered taxes for the rich and gave everyone else a token discount on their income taxes.  He also got the U.S. involved in two wars, one of which was unnecessary and the National Debt zoomed to the point of almost doubling.  Over his eight years in office the National Debt went from 5 trillion 792 billion dollars to 11 trillion 898 billion dollars.

 

In November of 2,000 George W. Bush won the Presidential Election in an extremely controversial election.  His Democratic opponent, Al Gore, had a greater popular vote.  And in Florida they used a punch out ballot in the election.  The problem here was that the punch outs required an additional effort to be totally detached from the ballot.  Numerous ballots contained partially punched out votes.  These were not immediately counted and later had to be considered one by one.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, made a negative point over counting individual ballots and the practice was discontinued, giving the presidential victory to George W. Bush.  It was victory by default!

 

From January 20,Th when he assumed office, until the early afternoon of September 1, 2001 nothing much happened in the country.  On the morning of that day President George W. Bush was reading to a Primary school class from one of their textbooks when news arrived of what had happened at the New York City World Trade Center.

 

Four large passenger American airplanes, after takeoff from Eastern airports, had been hijacked by groups of Al-Qaeda terrorists.  Two had crashed into each of the two main towers of the 110 story World Trade Center, destroying the towers.  One plane had crashed in the countryside on its way to Washington, D.C. and the fourth plane had crashed into the Pentagon, destroying a section of it.  2,996 people had been killed and over 6,000 people were injured.  There was over 10 billion dollars in property damage.

 

The leader and founder of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, had set up the terrorist mission.  He would be killed several years later by navy seals working under the orders of then President Barack Obama.

 

President Bush’s reaction was to declare War on Terrorism and go after Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which was then housed in and which also controlled the government of Afghanistan.  The United States, initially supported by Canada and the United Kingdom, and later by a coalition of over 40 countries, all belonging to the United Nations, would attack Afghanistan, the home country of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.  Their object was to deny the terrorists a safe haven in Afghanistan by removing it from their control.

 

On October 7, 2001, President Bush launched Operation “Enduring Freedom” with Great Britain.  They were later joined by the Afghanistan Northern Alliance which had been fighting the Taliban in a Civil War since 1996.  In December 2001 the United Nations Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force.  NATO became involved in August 2003.  The U.S. provided the commanding general.  This force included troops from 43 nations.

 

Osama bin Laden and his forces had been driven out of the country but the Civil War continues today, over 16 years after.  The Afghanistan government, democratically set up by the U.S. and U.N., has never been able to control the country.  This has been done by the United States and its United Nations allies.

 

In May 2012, NATO leaders ordered an exit strategy.  In 2014 the U.S. announced its major military operations were over and that it would leave a residual force in the country.  In 2014 the British handed over their bases to the Afghan government and on December 2014 NATO formally ended military operations.  In September of 2017 the Trump Administration deployed an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan bringing the U.S. presence there up to 14,000 soldiers.  There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.

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Early in the Afghan War President Bush, his Vice President, Dick Chaney, and his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, met in Texas to discuss with the Commanding General Tommy Franks “Desert Storm II,” the invasion of Iraq which Bush considered part of the “axis of evil.”  Presumably, under Saddam Hussein, Iraq contained “weapons of mass destruction” and was a threat to the United States.

 

Iraq, at that time was allowing U.N. experts to examine their military facilities searching for illegal weapons.  The United Nation inspectors complained that Bush’s invasion cut their investigation short.  In fact the CIA had mixed feelings about Iraq having these weapons.  They mostly felt that there were “no weapons of mass destruction.”  It turned out they were right.

 

Why did Bush and his coterie insist upon invading Iraq?  There was no evidence that they had in any way participated in the destruction of the Twin Towers.  Bush was creating another war that was not really necessary.  Two reasons emerge here.  One was that they believed they could remake Iraq into a small version of the United States.  All they had to do was get rid of its dictator, Saddam Hussein.  Then they could hold a Democratic Election and the new Iraq would live happily ever after.  They did not understand anything about the Middle East.  They were either totally naïve or completely ignorant.

 

The other reason was the fact that Saddam Hussein had attempted to have George W. Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush assassinated and the son wanted to punish him.  It could have been a combination of the two reasons.  They saw it as a win, win situation.  In any event the cost of this decision was over 3,000 American soldier’s lives and about ½ million Iraqi lives.  In addition it destabilized the Middle East and forced us to continue to keep troops in Iraq as the government there was never able to maintain control of the country.

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During Bush’s last year in office, 2008, the Real Estate Bubble, which the banks had been creating since the 1980s, burst.  People had been encouraged to use their homes as bank accounts.  They could always refinance their home whose value kept increasing  largely because of the continual refinancing.  In essence the banks had gradually created money in the trillions of dollars throughout the country by continually refinancing homes at ever increasing value.  By 2007 the problem became obvious but the majority of bankers were in denial.  In fact some of them began refinancing homes at 125 percent of their appraised value.  The entire system collapsed in 2008, Bush’s last year in office.  Many homeowners suddenly owed more on their houses than they were worth.  Bush and his Secretary of the Treasury bailed out the banks with multi-million dollar loans.  This was the state of the union that George W. Bush handed over to his Democratic successor, Barack H. Obama.

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In essence George W. Bush, who had initially won the Presidential Election over a quirk, the Florida punch ballots, had brought about an unnecessary war, in all probability, to punish a dictator for attempting to have his father killed.  In this process innumerable people, both American soldiers and Iraqis had lost their lives.  The financial cost of this action would double the National Debt and put an unnecessary financial burden thereafter upon the United States.

 

He would also pass on to his successor a country on the verge of a depression great than that of 1929.

.The Weiner Component V.2 #37 – Money & the Presidents: Part 3

(George H.W. Bush riding in a Humvee with Gene...

(George H.W. Bush riding in a Humvee with General Schwarzkopf in Saudi Arabia, November 22, 1990) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Ronald Reagan became President in 1981 the National Debt was $997 billion 885 million.  In 1989, when he left office eight years later, it was $2 trillion 857 billion 431 million.  If

Jimmy Carter had won the 1981 election it would still have gone up but, certainly, not as much.

 

President Ronald Reagan was followed into office by his Vice President, George H. W. Bush in 1989.  His initial goal was to lower the Nation Debt; but he had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.  They also wanted to lower the debt but their approach was totally different from that of the Republican President, George H. W. Bush and the Republicans.

 

Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress wanted to lower the cost of funding entitlement programs for the poor and middle class.  This was unacceptable to the Democrats who wanted to raise taxes, particularly income taxes for the upper echelon and reduce loopholes for the well to do.  During his presidential campaign Bush had stated once in exasperation: “Read my lips.  No new Taxes.”  In order to raise additional funds he had to go back on his word and raise taxes.  This alienated a large number of Republican voters.

 

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Germany was unified within a year after that.  By 1991 the Soviet Union dissolved.  For the United States President George H.W. Bush negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico which ended tariffs between the three countries.

 

The Gulf War broke out in August 2, 1990.  Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq, invaded this oil rich neighbor, Kuwait.  With the United Nation’s approval President Bush announced operation Desert Storm.  A coalition of nations under U.S. leadership would liberate Kuwait.

 

On January 17, 1991 Allied forces launched the first air attack.  There would be 4,000 bombing raids by coalition aircraft for four weeks.  Then essentially American forces landed at Kuwait on February 24, 1991.  The offensive stopped at the border of Iraq after 100 hours.

 

The war was expensive.  When Bush left office on January 20, 1993 the National Debt was $4 trillion 411 billion 489 million.  President George H.W. Bush had just about doubled the Reagan National Debt.

 

In addition in 1991 there was a mild six month recession.  Unemployment edged upward.  President Bush signed a bill providing additional benefits for the unemployed.  Welfare increased at that time as more people lost their incomes.  Unemployment reached 7.8%.  Because of the negative economic conditions many corporations reorganized, laying off numerous employees.  Many of them were Republicans who had voted for Bush and had expected their jobs to continue indefinitely.  These people found themselves suddenly unemployed.  The Census Bureau reported that 14.2% of Americans lived in poverty.

 

Could the Gulf War have been avoided?  The answer is: Yes.  President Bush sent a plenipotentiary, who did not have much authority, to Iraq to meet with Saddam Hussein.  He chose a female to emphasis women’s rights, which meant to Saddam that Bush did not consider the matter important.  From what I understand the two verbally fenced for a while.  When she left Saddam assumed that Bush did not consider the invasion important and would ignore it.

 

When the invasion occurred Bush’s response was the opposite.  Saddam would attempt to get even later by unsuccessfully attempting to assassinate Bush.  And, of course his son, President George W. Bush would several years later get even by invading Iraq and spending another few trillion dollars on that.

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In 1992 Bush ran as the Republican Candidate for another term.  This election ended up having three candidates, in addition to George H.W. Bush, the Democrats ran William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton, the former governor of Arkansas, as their candidate, and Ross Perot, the Texas billionaire businessman, ran as an Independent.  He financed his own campaign.

 

Ross Perot received 18.91% of the popular vote, 18,943,321 votes, and zero electoral votes.  President George H.W. Bush got 37.45% of the popular vote, 39,104,550 votes, and 160 electoral votes.  Bill Clinton achieved 43.01% of the vote, 44,369,806 popular votes, and 370 electoral votes.  He became the 42nd President of the United States, serving from January 20, 1993 to January 20th 2001.

 

Clinton was the first Democratic President since Jimmy Carter.  He was the 42 when he became President; the second youngest man to assume the presidency, Theodore Roosevelt had been the youngest.  Clinton would preside over the longest period of peacetime expansion in American history.

 

The National Debt was 4 trillion 400 billion 489 million when he assumed office.  During his last three years in office he was able to reduce the debt.  In 1998 there was a $69 billion surplus at the end of the fiscal year.  In 1999 it was $126 billion and in 2000 it had grown to $236 billion.  All of this reduced the debt slightly for the first time.

 

Somehow he thought that the military was large enough and that he didn’t need to increase it or maneuver it into a major war activities.  While he utilized the military in United Nation activities in the Near East to try to lessen genocide and violence he did not involve the U.S. in any actual wars.

 

President Bill Clinton signed the North American Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico which President Bush had initiated.  He attempted early, during his first term. Unsuccessfully to pass a national health care bill.  Interestingly the Democrats had a majority in both House of Congress at this time but lobbying prevailed against it.  The slogan that defeated it was: “There has to be a better way.”  He did later get a State Children’s Health Program passed.

 

During his first term (1993 – 1997), within two months of becoming President, Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave bill that allowed unpaid leave for pregnancy or serious medical conditions.  The Bill had bipartisan support.

 

He revised restrictions on domestic and international family planning, allowing programs that Reagan and Bush had restricted or gotten rid of.  He allowed abortions which declined during his administration by 18.4 percent.

 

He also signed the Omnibus budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.  This bill cut taxes for the 15 million lowest income people.  It made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses in the country and he raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers.  The Bill passed without getting one Republican vote.

 

Following Nixon’s initiation of relations with Communist China, Clinton signed the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000; this law granted permanent normal trade relations and trade status to the People’s Republic of China.

 

In the Midterm Election of 1994 the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives which they kept thereafter through the rest of Clinton’s presidency.  After that it was very difficult getting any legislation he supported passed.

 

Newt Gingrich, as Speaker of the House of Representatives initially led the campaign to impeach President Bill Clinton.  He was tried shortly after the seating of the 106th Congress on February 1999.  But the charges against him were brought by the 105th Congress in late 1998.  By the time the vote was taken Newt Gingrich, for legitimate reasons had resigned from the House of Representatives.

 

The process of impeachment is that the House of Representatives votes a Bill of Impeachment against the President and a 2/3d vote is required by the Senate after functioning as a jury to impeach him, that is 67 votes.  Bill Clinton was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.  On the perjury charge, 45 Republicans voted guilty and 55, practically all Democrats, voted not guilty.  On the obstruction of justice charge the vote was 50 for and 50 against.  It missed finding him guilty by one vote.

 

Clinton served out the rest of his term in office.  He was a very popular President before, during, and after his trial.  There was a lot of animus against him by the Republicans, particularly those in Congress. To a large extent they were able to vent their spleen though the attempted impeachment.

 

The National Debt, when Clinton left office, was $5 trillion, 678 billion, and 178 million.  It had been $4 trillion, 411 billion, and 490 million when he became President in 1993 and for his last three years as President, Clinton had lowered the debt almost a half-trillion dollars.  Actually the Clinton years were good years for the American public.

The Weiner Component V.2 #36 – Money & the President: Part 2

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

English: US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet...

English: US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachov at the first Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. Česky: Americký prezident Ronald Reagan a sovětský generální tajemník Michail Gorbačov na prvním summitu v Ženevě. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until the Reagan Administration the National Debt had been below one trillion dollars.  During Reagan’s time it reached and went beyond the above figure and with succeeding presidents, particularly Republican ones, has gone far beyond that figure.  Today, in late 2017, it exceeds 19 trillion dollars and if the plans of the current President, Donald J. Trump, are carried out it will take a sudden jump of at least 3 additional trillion dollars.

 

The National Debt has been the means by which the amount of currency in circulation has been controlled.  The Federal Reserve uses the Debt to control the amount of cash in circulation.  It continually sells and cashes out long and short term bonds.  By selling less new bonds than it cashes out the FED increases the amount of money in circulation.  By selling more bonds than it cashes out it reduces the amount of money in circulation.  The amount it sells is controlled by the interest it pays on the bonds.

 

The problem, of course in controlling currency in circulation is that there are other necessary expenditures which can throw off the above process.  Today it would seem that the National Debt is completely out of control and currently getting ready to zoom even further in that direction.  Basically what this means is a redistributing of the Gross Domestic Product or National Wealth upward to those who can afford to buy the Government Bonds.  They get additional benefits upon money they invest.  This spending phenomena began on a large scale with Ronald Reagan’s Presidency.

 

Up until this time the Federal Reserve was generally able to control the amount of money in circulation but during the Reagan years the National Debt went to one trillion dollars and then passed beyond that.  The adjustment power did not work with that much debt.  Other presidents, mostly Republican, took the debt far beyond that point so that it is today over 19 trillion dollars and growing.  The current President, if he gets his way with a Republican Congress, could increase it another 3 trillion dollars with his so-called tax reform.

 

Can the country ever get out of this cycle?  That’s an interesting question.  The National Debt consists of two groupings: the public debt and the private debt.  Over the years the Treasury has taken any funds left over by any Department of the Government at the end of the fiscal year and put that money into the General Fund.  They have then credited the particular Department with those excess funds.  Technically each Department still has access to those funds which the Government has spent.  Over the years this has reached a point of at least 50% of the National Debt.  It could even be as high as 70%.  On a quarterly or by-yearly basis the Federal Reserve turns over to the Treasury Department the interest on that part of the National Debt it owes itself.

 

Interestingly Social Security holds the largest amount of the National Debt.  It is well over one trillion dollars and could be well over two trillion dollars.  During the Reagan Administration the Federal Government was facing the possibility of reaching a break-even or worse level with Social Security payouts.  The Reagan People adjusted the amounts collected so that there was a fairly large surplus from that point on.  We are now looking forward to running short of the amount needed in another 20 or 30 years.  In fact, rumor has it that many of the people today paying into Social Security will not have it in existence when they retire.  Is this true?  I doubt it.

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Ronald Reagan was born in 1911.  He became President in 1981, which put him at 70 years of age when this event occurred.  Up to that time he was the oldest man to assume the presidency.

 

Reagan apparently went to college in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the time of the Great Depression.  When he was questioned at the end of his presidency over the illegal Iran-Contra Deal, beyond stating that he had done something illegal, Reagan stated that he had majored in economics in college.  Economics, during this period was still a relatively new science.  Much was not understood.  When a similar condition occurred in 2008 and 2009 the Obama Administration was able to tone down a potentially greater depression than the one in 1929, making it into a recession.

 

President Reagan did not have the sophistication to understand what had happened in 1929.  He believed in simple answers to most problems.  To him economics functioned best under a totally Free Market system.  He did away with the laws that had been passed during the Roosevelt Administration to keep the country from the banking abuse that had brought about the Great Depression.

 

Reagan kept stating that the problem of government was the government, which we had to get out of the way for real economic growth to occur.  He did this while increasing the size of the Federal Government.  It was this action that brought about the Real Estate Bubble in 2008, and caused the government to bail out the banks which had caused the situation, and to pass laws to avoid a greater depression than that of 1929.

 

It is interesting to note that under the Republican President, Donald J. Trump, the country is again hearing the same arguments that brought about the Real Estate Crash of 2008 and the Great Depression of 1929.  It will be fascinating to find out what eventually happens.  Apparently the Republicans have no memory of the past!

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When Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency he firmly believed that the Soviet Union, which he later called the Evil Empire, was far ahead of the United States in military weaponry and men.  His military goal was to catch up and get ahead of them.

 

In point of fact the United States was far ahead militarily of the Soviet Union.  Their keeping up with us would eventually bankrupt them.

 

Reagan had been a movie actor earlier.  He seemed to believe that the weaponry used in science fiction movies could be developed by American scientists as they were needed.  His program, which was named after a Sci-Fi movie was called “Star Wars.”  Trying to do this in real life can be inordinately expensive, even if the chances of success are low to zero.  Luckily none of these hypothetical weapons were required during his presidency.

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During the Reagan years a very small number of economists came out with the theory of supply-side economics.  It began with the concept that Supply determines Demand; that is, if a good or item is manufactured people will want to buy it.  The basic economic theory has been and still is among most economists that Demand determines Supply.  The theory here is that if people want something it will be supplied.  This has been espoused by most economists in the 20th and 21st centuries.

 

The Reagan Administration coming out of the stagflation of the 70s, the combination of unemployment and large increases in the prices of all goods, came out with this theory.  It was called Supply-Side Economics or Reaganomics.  According to this macroeconomic theory economic growth can be most effectively created by lowering taxes and decreasing regulation.  This, in turn, will increase income for the general public and give the wealthy more money to invest in new production.  Everyone would benefit from a greater supply of goods and services that would cost less to produce and, at the same time, increase employment.

 

One of the so-called proofs of this was what happened during the Kennedy Presidency.  In response to a recession income taxes were lowered and people spent more with the government collecting increased taxes.  Unfortunately Reaganomics did not work during Reagan’s eight years as President.  The Nation Debt would rise to over a trillion dollars.

 

This Trickle-down Economics resulted in the wealthy taking their new additional funds and investing them in old productivity like the stock market.

*************************************

On August 5, 1981 President Ronald W. Reagan fired all striking air traffic controllers in the United States, 11,345 of them.  In doing this he would undermine the labor movement and help bring about the wage and salary inequities between labor and management.

 

Two days earlier nearly 13,000 airport air controllers walked out after talks collapsed with the Federal Aviation Administration.  7,000 flights were cancelled across the nation.

 

Technically the strike was illegal. But there had been 39 prior illegal work stoppages against the Federal Government from 1962 to 1981.  President Reagan called the strike illegal and threatened to fire any controllers who did not return to work within the next 48 hours.  Federal judges fined the union one million dollars a day.  11,345 controllers stayed out and were fired.

 

Some 3,000 supervisors joined 2,000 controllers who returned to work, with an additional 900 military controllers in manning the airport towers across the nation.

 

Reagan broke the union at considerable risk.  An air disaster might have resulted from the replacing of the striking workers.  It didn’t happen.  It would take several years and a cost of billions of dollars to return the system to a pre-strike level.  More would be spent doing this than the workers had demanded.

 

Presumably Reagan showed how tough he could be to both workers and foreign leaders.  In all probability the Soviet leader, Gorbachev, was impressed by his action or, at least, the recklessness of his action.  At the time I was daily waiting for an air accident to occur.

 

Reagan arranged that none of the striking air controllers ever be rehired.  In 1993 when Bill Clinton became President he countermanded that order.  About 800 of the former air controllers were rehired.  They joined a different union since Reagan had broken their former union.  Also American labor has not done that well since that time.

*************************************

Initially Reagan was going to be a one term president but in 1983 he was so popular that the Republican Party decided to have him run for a second term.  President Reagan easily won against the Democratic former Vice President, Walter Mondale.  Mondale received 40.1 percent of the popular vote but, since the electoral vote was on a winner take all basis, practically all of the electoral votes went to Ronald Reagan, 525 out of 538.

 

Ronald Reagan would begin his second term as President at the age of 74.  It came out at that time that occasionally he would fall asleep at times during staff meetings.

 

During this term Reagan concentrated more on foreign relations.  Because he had believed that the Soviet military was better equipped than that of the U.S. he continued to upgrade the American military.  The truth was that the U.S, was far ahead of Russia.  This move forced the Russians to engage in a military buildup, actually an arms race with the U.S.  This started during his first term.  Russia could not afford the race.  In America it would bump the National Debt to over one trillion dollars.  In Russia it bankrupted the U.S.S.R. and caused it to collapse.  It also created a situation where parts of the Soviet Union broke off into separate nations.

 

Reagan saw other nations as good or evil; the Libyan leader, Gaddafi, was the evil leader supporting terrorism.  Using that premise he had the American Air Force bomb the Libyan capital.  There had been earlier incidents between the Libya and the U.S. military but war had not been declared.  The immediate justification for the air raid, on April 14, 1986, was a Berlin terrorist bombing at a nightclub frequented by American military personal.  Reagan in his speech to the American people held Gaddafi personally responsible for the bombing.

 

While Reagan did not approve of the government of Nicaragua he did support the revolutionary Contras against the government.  Congress passed a law barring the use of funds for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.  In January 1984 the CIA mined the harbor in the capital of Nicaragua.  Suggestions from people in the Administration got countries like Saudi Arabia to contribute money to the Contras.  Obliquely, going against the will of the majority of Congress, the Contras or “Freedom Fighters” as President Reagan called them got some funding.

 

Toward the end of his second term in office President Reagan authorized what has historically been called the Iran-Contra Affair.  With the approval of the President arms were illegally sold to Iran and the money obtained bought arms and other military materials illegally for the Contras to use in overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.  While Nicaragua may not have been that friendly to the United States at that time they had a democratically elected government.

 

From what I remember the Contras were terrorists attempting to gain power.  Reagan unsuccessfully attempted to get Congress to appropriate funds for them.  Reagan was sure he was right and the Congress was wrong.  He needed the funds for a group “Freedom Fighters” so they could fight for freedom.  A group of people illegally sold arms to Iran.  The money from that transaction was used to fund the Nicaragua revolution unsuccessfully.  The Reagan people disregarded the arms embargo the U.S. had placed on Iran and used the money gotten illegally.

 

The person handling the operation was an army officer, Colonel Oliver North, whose political leanings were to the far right.  I got the impression that he saw himself in the middle of a James Bond adventure.

 

When the news of this broke, toward the end of the Reagan presidency Reagan gave a speech in which he stated that he couldn’t believe that he had done something illegal.  Reagan has been called the Teflon president, nothing unpleasant stuck to him.  Apparently the American public also couldn’t believe he was capable of doing something illegal.

 

No impeachment charges were brought against him.  After his term as President he was never charged with an illegal act.  This fact also saved most of his staff who had also been involved in the crime.  Colonel North had testified before Congress.  Nothing in his testimony could be used against him.  This made it impossible to develop a case against him.  He ended in talk-radio, ran for the Senate, lost, and returned to talk-radio.

**********************************

President Ronald Reagan changed not only the politics of the world by inadvertently ending the Cold War, he also changed the economic functionality of the United States.  The Federal Reserve would lose much of its ability to control the amount of currency in circulation from his presidency on.  Thereafter much of the money added to the National Cash Flow would be done because of the size of the debt.  It would obliquely help bring about conditions that would help the banks bring about the Real Estate Crash of 2008.  Labor and management relations would change to the detriment of labor.  The levels of wealth between the rich and those below them would change, with labor economically crawling upward while the rich became far richer.  America would begin to change with a very gradually decreasing middle class.  The distance of separation between the rich and everyone else would widen.  While Reagan cannot get credit for all of this he is still responsible for the country moving in this direction.

The Weiner Component V.2 #35 – Money & the Presidents: Part 1

English: Plaza of the Presidents, commemoratin...

English: Plaza of the Presidents, commemorating all the US presidents who served during World War II; outdoor display on the grounds of the National Museum of the Pacific War, Fredericksburg, Texas, USA. Each monument honors a US president who served during World War II (FD Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LB Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and GHW Bush) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Four Presidents: President Ronald Rea...

English: Four Presidents: President Ronald Reagan with his three predecessors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wealth of a nation is its level of productivity which is determined in terms of monetary value.  The monetary value is in terms of the currency of the nation.  The currency itself is merely the agent of exchange; it allows the goods and services of each individual to be exchanged for those produced by all other individuals.  All of this is finite in that there is a limit as to what a particular nation can produce.  This limit is set by the national level of manpower and by the available resources.  While wealth is determined by the currency value an individual controls, the currency itself is an instrument of exchange, not of value.  Money is basically the tool that allows for the creation or production of the actual wealth: the products or services produced.  The actual wealth is the productivity of the nation, all the goods and services it produces, its GDP.

********************************

President Harry S. Truman continued the policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He presided over the end of World War II and he created the Fair Deal as his economic policy.  Truman also presided over the beginnings of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Korean War or police action.

 

The next president was former General Dwight David Eisenhower.  He was the 34th President, entering the political race in 1952 as a Republican.  He was President from 1953 to 1961, the first Republican elected since 1928.  Eisenhower was a moderate conservative who continued the New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security.  Economically he built the first interstate highway system in 1956.  Presumably this was done because of the Cold War: an interstate highway system would be beneficial if needed for military operations within the country and it would also be beneficial in helping to provide continued economic growth.

 

In the 1961 Race Republican Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s former Vice President, ran against Democratic John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy won the election by 6/10s of 1% of the popular vote.  In the electoral vote he did better.

 

When Kennedy took office on January 20, 1961 the country was facing a mild recession.  His policy was to lower rates on the income taxes.  As a result of this the Federal Government collected more taxes than it had previously done.  People had more money and spent more and the recession ended.  Interestingly since that time many Republican Presidents like Ronald Reagan have claimed that lowering taxes would actually increase government revenue.  It hasn’t happened.

 

Despite negative incidents during his tenure like the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy was one of the most popular presidents that this country had.  His approval rating was 77%.  Unfortunately he was assassinated on November 22, 1963.  His Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson replaced him as President and then was elected in his own right for another four years.  President Johnson was able to get Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress.  In fact Johnson was able to get through some of the bills Kennedy had strongly supported.  In his own right Johnson declared War on Poverty and had a measure of success on that until he extended the war in Viet Nam, bringing American troops directly into combat.  President Kennedy had used U.S. troops as advisors only; President Johnson attempted to defeat the Viet Cong.  He apparently felt that the United States was that powerful.  He was wrong.

 

President Johnson’s domestic policy was called The Great Society.  He attempted to do too much.  Attempting to fight his War on Poverty and at the same time conduct a full scale war against North Vietnam without the American Public being affected was more than the country could handle.  The cost of all this began a spiral of inflation which was not ended until the second year of the Reagan Administration in the early 1980s.  Johnson began the excess spending during the first half of the 1960s, Reagan ended the growing inflationary spiral during his second year in office during the early 1980s; growing inflation existed for about a 20 year period.  The termination of the inflation was a very economically painful process upon small business.  The inflationary spiral was broken by raising interest rates to about 20%, making money too expensive to borrow.

 

The number of American military personnel in Viet Nam was increased dramatically during the Johnson years, going from 1600 advisors to 525,000 combat troops in 1967.  American casualties soared.  In addition the sorted battles were shown nightly by the news on television throughout the United States.  There was an angry antiwar movement especially on college compasses.  Summer riots broke out in most major cities after 1965 and crime rates soared in the U.S.  With all of the above and not being able to win the Viet Nam War or police action, since it was not officially a war, broke Johnson’s spirit.  He refused to run for the presidency in 1968.

 

In that year, after a tumultuous Democratic Convention in Chicago, Hubert Humphrey, ran against and lost the election to the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon.  Nixon, the country’s 37th President, if he hadn’t been involved in the Watergate Break-ins, would have probably emerged as one of the outstanding Presidents of the United States.  In 1970, he created the Environment Protection Agency.  He did after a long period of time end the Viet Nam War in 1973, bringing home all the American prisoners of war.  His visit to China in 1972, the first such for an American President, led to diplomatic relations with that country.  These relations caused the Soviet Union to sign an Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the United States later that same year.  He initiated détente.

 

When he first took office he imposed wage and price controls in 1969 in an attempt to stop the inflation spiral that had reached 4.7%.  It didn’t work because of all the exceptions that had to be applied.  Fighting the Viet Nam War and attempting to maintain peacetime conditions in the nation which would continue well past his time in office brought on the continued rise in inflation.  Not Nixon nor anyone else as President would have been able to stop it.  It would take extreme action by the Federal Reserve to do so.

 

For his second term in 1972 Nixon wanted a massive victory.  This required assorted actions, some of which were illegal.  Nixon and the Republican leaders secretly supported the far left Democratic candidate that would be unacceptable to the majority of the American people.  They chose South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who had unsuccessfully attempted to replace Robert Kennedy after his assassination in 1968.  McGovern was generally considered a far-left liberal.  He was the hero of the radical college groups.  The Nixon campaign contributed heavily to the McGovern candidate.  That action may have been immoral but it was not illegal.

 

In addition to this Nixon had a group in Washington called the “plumbers.”  They broke into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel a number of times and were finally caught and arrested.  From that point on a cover-up ensued until it finally came apart two years into Nixon’s second term.

 

Nixon was informed by Senator Barry Goldwater, probably the leading Republican in the U.S. at the time, that he had to resign or proceedings to impeach him would be begun the next day.  On August 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first President to resign from the presidency.

 

Ironically he was replaced by the Vice President he had himself appointed, Gerald Ford.  The original Vice President, Spiro Agnew, had earlier resigned from office rather than face a lengthy corruption trial which would have found him guilty.  Ford, shortly after assuming the Presidency, pardoned Nixon for any crimes he had or might have committed.  Nixon accepted the pardon, thus admitting his guilt by accepting the pardon.

 

Gerald R. Ford had been appointed to the Vice Presidency by then President Richard M. Nixon.  He was also earlier appointed to the Senate by the governor of Michigan.  At that time he was Minority Leader at the House of Representatives.  He had served there for 25 years in the House of Representatives.  As President he appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President.

 

President Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, which officially marked an end to the Cold War and brought about détente.  He presided over the end of the Viet Nam War nine months into his presidency.  Domestically, he served as President over the worst economy since the Great Depression, dealing with growing inflation and a recession.  His foreign policy was characterized by the increased role Congress began to play.  He served as Chief Executive of the United States for 895 days, the shortest term for a president who did not die in office.  In 1976 Gerald Ford lost the presidency to the Democratic candidate, former Georgia governor James Earl (Jimmy) Carter.

 

Jimmy Carter had been elected Governor of Georgia from January 12, 1971 through January 14, 1975.  Despite the fact that he was little known outside of Georgia Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter defeated Republican President Gerald Ford in 1976.  He assumed office on January 20, 1977 as the 39th President of the United States.

 

On his second day as President, Carter pardoned all Viet Nam draft evaders of the Viet Nam War.  He was able to get the first signed agreement between the Palestinians and Israel, the Camp David Accords.  He signed the Panama Canal Treaties that gave Panama control of the Canal and the second round of Arms limitation Talks (SALT II).

 

Economically the country was going through stagflation during his tenure, both high inflation and high unemployment.  Carter had his Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, attempt to break the inflation spiral which had reached about 15%.  Volcker did this by raising the interest rate to about 20%, making money too expensive to borrow.  This, in turn, would drive many small businesses into bankruptcy as they could not afford those rates during their economic dry seasons.  Many complained to the President and he had Volcker end the policy.  The next President would enforce it and end the inflation spiral while driving numerous small businesses into bankruptcy.

 

Gasoline and fuel prices rose in 1980 to about $2.16 a gallon for gasoline and went considerably higher for heating fuel also.  President Carter recommended that people keep their thermostats set at 65 degrees and wear sweaters.  He did this at the White House.

In 1979 to 1981 there was the Iranian hostage crisis which ended shortly after the next President took office.  Because the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan Carter ended détente and resumed the Cold War.

 

In the 1980 Presidential Election the Republicans chose Ronald Reagan to run against President Jimmy Carter.  Reagan won an overwhelming victory.

**********************************

Up to this point in our history the National Debt, which had almost always been with us was under one trillion dollars.  The Federal Government had spent money but it had always been on a limited basis.  Roosevelt, perhaps the greatest of the spending presidents, while he doubled the money supply that had been available in the country, did so without raising the National Debt significantly.  Even with World War II, the immediate post war spending, and the Cold War the country’s spending did not reach this point.  All of this would change after 1981 with the election of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency.

 

The Weiner Component V.2 #35 – Money & the Presidents: Part 1

 

The Wealth of a nation is its level of productivity which is determined in terms of monetary value.  The monetary value is in terms of the currency of the nation.  The currency itself is merely the agent of exchange; it allows the goods and services of each individual to be exchanged for those produced by all other individuals.  All of this is finite in that there is a limit as to what a particular nation can produce.  This limit is set by the national level of manpower and by the available resources.  While wealth is determined by the currency value an individual controls, the currency itself is an instrument of exchange, not of value.  Money is basically the tool that allows for the creation or production of the actual wealth: the products or services produced.  The actual wealth is the productivity of the nation, all the goods and services it produces, its GDP.

********************************

President Harry S. Truman continued the policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He presided over the end of World War II and he created the Fair Deal as his economic policy.  Truman also presided over the beginnings of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Korean War or police action.

 

The next president was former General Dwight David Eisenhower.  He was the 34th President, entering the political race in 1952 as a Republican.  He was President from 1953 to 1961, the first Republican elected since 1928.  Eisenhower was a moderate conservative who continued the New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security.  Economically he built the first interstate highway system in 1956.  Presumably this was done because of the Cold War: an interstate highway system would be beneficial if needed for military operations within the country and it would also be beneficial in helping to provide continued economic growth.

 

In the 1961 Race Republican Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s former Vice President, ran against Democratic John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy won the election by 6/10s of 1% of the popular vote.  In the electoral vote he did better.

 

When Kennedy took office on January 20, 1961 the country was facing a mild recession.  His policy was to lower rates on the income taxes.  As a result of this the Federal Government collected more taxes than it had previously done.  People had more money and spent more and the recession ended.  Interestingly since that time many Republican Presidents like Ronald Reagan have claimed that lowering taxes would actually increase government revenue.  It hasn’t happened.

 

Despite negative incidents during his tenure like the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy was one of the most popular presidents that this country had.  His approval rating was 77%.  Unfortunately he was assassinated on November 22, 1963.  His Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson replaced him as President and then was elected in his own right for another four years.  President Johnson was able to get Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress.  In fact Johnson was able to get through some of the bills Kennedy had strongly supported.  In his own right Johnson declared War on Poverty and had a measure of success on that until he extended the war in Viet Nam, bringing American troops directly into combat.  President Kennedy had used U.S. troops as advisors only; President Johnson attempted to defeat the Viet Cong.  He apparently felt that the United States was that powerful.  He was wrong.

 

President Johnson’s domestic policy was called The Great Society.  He attempted to do too much.  Attempting to fight his War on Poverty and at the same time conduct a full scale war against North Vietnam without the American Public being affected was more than the country could handle.  The cost of all this began a spiral of inflation which was not ended until the second year of the Reagan Administration in the early 1980s.  Johnson began the excess spending during the first half of the 1960s, Reagan ended the growing inflationary spiral during his second year in office during the early 1980s; growing inflation existed for about a 20 year period.  The termination of the inflation was a very economically painful process upon small business.  The inflationary spiral was broken by raising interest rates to about 20%, making money too expensive to borrow.

 

The number of American military personnel in Viet Nam was increased dramatically during the Johnson years, going from 1600 advisors to 525,000 combat troops in 1967.  American casualties soared.  In addition the sorted battles were shown nightly by the news on television throughout the United States.  There was an angry antiwar movement especially on college compasses.  Summer riots broke out in most major cities after 1965 and crime rates soared in the U.S.  With all of the above and not being able to win the Viet Nam War or police action, since it was not officially a war, broke Johnson’s spirit.  He refused to run for the presidency in 1968.

 

In that year, after a tumultuous Democratic Convention in Chicago, Hubert Humphrey, ran against and lost the election to the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon.  Nixon, the country’s 37th President, if he hadn’t been involved in the Watergate Break-ins, would have probably emerged as one of the outstanding Presidents of the United States.  In 1970, he created the Environment Protection Agency.  He did after a long period of time end the Viet Nam War in 1973, bringing home all the American prisoners of war.  His visit to China in 1972, the first such for an American President, led to diplomatic relations with that country.  These relations caused the Soviet Union to sign an Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the United States later that same year.  He initiated détente.

 

When he first took office he imposed wage and price controls in 1969 in an attempt to stop the inflation spiral that had reached 4.7%.  It didn’t work because of all the exceptions that had to be applied.  Fighting the Viet Nam War and attempting to maintain peacetime conditions in the nation which would continue well past his time in office brought on the continued rise in inflation.  Not Nixon nor anyone else as President would have been able to stop it.  It would take extreme action by the Federal Reserve to do so.

 

For his second term in 1972 Nixon wanted a massive victory.  This required assorted actions, some of which were illegal.  Nixon and the Republican leaders secretly supported the far left Democratic candidate that would be unacceptable to the majority of the American people.  They chose South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who had unsuccessfully attempted to replace Robert Kennedy after his assassination in 1968.  McGovern was generally considered a far-left liberal.  He was the hero of the radical college groups.  The Nixon campaign contributed heavily to the McGovern candidate.  That action may have been immoral but it was not illegal.

 

In addition to this Nixon had a group in Washington called the “plumbers.”  They broke into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel a number of times and were finally caught and arrested.  From that point on a cover-up ensued until it finally came apart two years into Nixon’s second term.

 

Nixon was informed by Senator Barry Goldwater, probably the leading Republican in the U.S. at the time, that he had to resign or proceedings to impeach him would be begun the next day.  On August 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first President to resign from the presidency.

 

Ironically he was replaced by the Vice President he had himself appointed, Gerald Ford.  The original Vice President, Spiro Agnew, had earlier resigned from office rather than face a lengthy corruption trial which would have found him guilty.  Ford, shortly after assuming the Presidency, pardoned Nixon for any crimes he had or might have committed.  Nixon accepted the pardon, thus admitting his guilt by accepting the pardon.

 

Gerald R. Ford had been appointed to the Vice Presidency by then President Richard M. Nixon.  He was also earlier appointed to the Senate by the governor of Michigan.  At that time he was Minority Leader at the House of Representatives.  He had served there for 25 years in the House of Representatives.  As President he appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President.

 

President Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, which officially marked an end to the Cold War and brought about détente.  He presided over the end of the Viet Nam War nine months into his presidency.  Domestically, he served as President over the worst economy since the Great Depression, dealing with growing inflation and a recession.  His foreign policy was characterized by the increased role Congress began to play.  He served as Chief Executive of the United States for 895 days, the shortest term for a president who did not die in office.  In 1976 Gerald Ford lost the presidency to the Democratic candidate, former Georgia governor James Earl (Jimmy) Carter.

 

Jimmy Carter had been elected Governor of Georgia from January 12, 1971 through January 14, 1975.  Despite the fact that he was little known outside of Georgia Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter defeated Republican President Gerald Ford in 1976.  He assumed office on January 20, 1977 as the 39th President of the United States.

 

On his second day as President, Carter pardoned all Viet Nam draft evaders of the Viet Nam War.  He was able to get the first signed agreement between the Palestinians and Israel, the Camp David Accords.  He signed the Panama Canal Treaties that gave Panama control of the Canal and the second round of Arms limitation Talks (SALT II).

 

Economically the country was going through stagflation during his tenure, both high inflation and high unemployment.  Carter had his Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, attempt to break the inflation spiral which had reached about 15%.  Volcker did this by raising the interest rate to about 20%, making money too expensive to borrow.  This, in turn, would drive many small businesses into bankruptcy as they could not afford those rates during their economic dry seasons.  Many complained to the President and he had Volcker end the policy.  The next President would enforce it and end the inflation spiral while driving numerous small businesses into bankruptcy.

 

Gasoline and fuel prices rose in 1980 to about $2.16 a gallon for gasoline and went considerably higher for heating fuel also.  President Carter recommended that people keep their thermostats set at 65 degrees and wear sweaters.  He did this at the White House.

In 1979 to 1981 there was the Iranian hostage crisis which ended shortly after the next President took office.  Because the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan Carter ended détente and resumed the Cold War.

 

In the 1980 Presidential Election the Republicans chose Ronald Reagan to run against President Jimmy Carter.  Reagan won an overwhelming victory.

**********************************

Up to this point in our history the National Debt, which had almost always been with us was under one trillion dollars.  The Federal Government had spent money but it had always been on a limited basis.  Roosevelt, perhaps the greatest of the spending presidents, while he doubled the money supply that had been available in the country, did so without raising the National Debt significantly.  Even with World War II, the immediate post war spending, and the Cold War the country’s spending did not reach this point.  All of this would change after 1981 with the election of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency.

The Weiner Component V,2 #34 – The Concept of Money: Part 2

One of a number of posters created by the Econ...

One of a number of posters created by the Economic Cooperation Administration to promote the Marshall Plan in Europe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Logo used on aid delivered to European countri...

Logo used on aid delivered to European countries during the Marshall Plan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marshall Plan

Marshall Plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If one draws a horizontal line in United States history both before and after World War II one gets an interesting perspective.  Before the war the U.S. was a poor country still working its way out of the Great Depression with a large lower class, a small middle class, and a smaller upper class.  After the war the country still had a lower class but it was much smaller than it had been before the war, a large ever-growing middle class, and a smaller upper class.  What happened was an infusion of paper money during the Great Depression, World War II and afterwards which reconstituted the nation as it had never been before and turned it into a middle class country.

 

After the war there was also intensive government spending in the form of free education for veterans, the GI Bill.  Veterans were also funded who didn’t go to school, so they could start their own businesses and buy homes.  There was continued intensive government spending.  Also from 1948 this was added to, with the Marshall Plan or European Recovery Plan, for the next four years.  The European countries rebuilt their infrastructures with goods from the United States.

 

Where did all this money come from?  It came from the Federal Government printing presses.  What it did was unleash the productive capacities of the population.  Specifically it was the tool that allowed massive production of goods and services which freed the labor potential of the people within the country and helped create the new growing middle class.  The spending greatly increased the National Cash Flow throughout the nation and also brought in an immense increase, on all levels, of taxes.  We were by this process a much richer nation.

 

There had been rationing during the war.  Not much had been made available to the general public, most of the goods produced went overseas to the armies fighting the war.  Excess money had been put into war bonds; many of these were now cashed in.  There were new industries, like television; radio had existed before the war; now there were two major home entertainment entities.  Only military vehicles had been manufactured during the war.  As the automobile industry was converted to civilian use people bought new cars for the first time in years.  There were jobs or new businesses for the returning veterans.  It was a new era.

**********************************

To move to an earlier period: during the Civil War money had been gold and silver coins.  The Federal Government bought and minted all the gold that was mined in the United States.  Consequently the legal tender that existed in society at that time was both the gold and silver that could be mined and minted.  Since wars are expensive and their cost generally exceeds the amounts of money that exists or could be collected in taxes or minted, the government had an immediate need for more cash.  This problem was solved by issuing paper currency called greenbacks.  The reason they were called greenbacks was because one side was green and they were legally made into currency.  There was nothing behind these bills except the word of the U.S. Government.  From 1861 through part of 1862 they were Demand notes.  From 1862 through 1865 they were United States notes.  After the war the greenbacks were gradually retired, replaced by gold and silver coins.

 

Since more money had been needed to fight the Civil War the Federal Government had arbitrarily created it and spent it fighting the war.  Once the war was over the Government gradually withdrew and replaced that money with gold and silver coins.  It was actually a form of no interest borrowing.  But this process began the growth of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.  After the war we were a much richer country than we had been before it started.

*****************************************

Toward the end of World War II from July 1 through July 22, 1944, the Bretton Woods Conference or the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.  It consisted of 730 delegates from 44 Allied nations.

 

The basic currency in the world then and during the post war period was the American dollar.  All the Allied currencies were pegged against the dollar, generally taking their value as a percentage of the dollar.   Bretton Woods established the rules for international trade that would continue from the end of World War II on.  After the Marshall Plan all these nations functioned on a higher plain than they had before the war.

 

It should be noted that none of these nations, with the exception of the United States initially had any gold.  All the currencies of all these nations were based upon the productive ability of each of the nations.  Their currencies values nationally and internationally were based upon their credit.

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In addition another thing to keep in mind has been and is population growth.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau on July 1, 1929, the year the Great Depression began the United States population consisted of 121.77 million people.  By 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt became President it had grown to 125.58 individuals.  By 1945, the end of World War II, it had reached 139.93.  By July 1, 1970, it was 205.05 million people.  By 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected President, the population was 227.22 million people.  By the year 2,000, when George W. Bush was elected to the presidency it was 282.16 million people.  By 2010 the population was 309.35 million people.  By July 1, 2017 the Census Bureau estimates the population in the United States to be 325.34 million people.  Also keep in mind that in every official census introduction there is an apology for the people who were somehow missed, that is, not counted.  The estimate in 2010, admitted by the Census Bureau, was that they had missed millions of homeless people throughout the country and the estimate was much closed to 350 million people.

 

While we are not considering the fact here the world population has also phenomenally increased.  It is estimated today to be somewhere above 7 ½ billion people.  It is also continuing to grow.

 

The overall count in the United States has tended to increase each year by about 2 ½ million.  This includes deaths, births, and immigration.  According to the Census Bureau there is one birth every 7 seconds; one death every 12 seconds; one international migrant every 32 seconds.  The net gain is one additional person every 12 seconds.  And this includes periods of peace and war.

 

In order for the country to function properly as the population grows there has to also be an increase in the amount of money available in the National Cash Flow otherwise the country would be facing a gradual growing deflation, seeing the amount of money available per person decreasing in amount and increasing in value.

 

The Federal Reserve controls the money supply.  It can increase or decrease the amount of money available in the general society by its open market operation and otherwise.  From 1987 to 2006 Alan Greenspan was Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  He had stated that it was not his job to deal with the money supply.

 

To be fair the powers of the Federal Reserve have evolved from its founding in 1915 to the present.  Certain powers have been granted to it by Congress over the years, other powers it has taken on.  Under Alan Greenspan it choose not to deal with the need for more money within the society.

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The banks, which operate for a profit, have the power to expand or contract the amount of currency available to the general public.  Probably beginning slowly sometime in the 1970s the banking houses gradually created a new type of hedge fund based upon the value of homes owned by people throughout the United States; they began using mortgages as investment securities.  In the 1980s, with the Reagan Administration supporting Free Markets or theories of pure capitalism, these hedge funds took off and the country underwent a binge of refinancing that would not explode until the Housing Crash of 2008.  Homeowners were encouraged to use their homes as bank accounts that they could freely spend. By doing this they caused the homes to shoot up in value while massively expanding the economy and the value of their homes.  In the process a housing bubble was created which gigantically inflated the values of the houses allowing many people to constantly refinance their homes during this period.  When the crash finally came in 2008 a large number of people were underwater on their homes; that is, they owed more on the mortgages than the properties were worth.

 

Many, if not most, of the banking houses began foreclosing on these properties until it was discovered that the banks didn’t own the mortgages on these houses, they merely serviced them.  They belonged to the hundreds of people who had shares in these Hedge Funds.  Actually they didn’t belong to anyone because numerous Hedge Funds, each consisting of hundreds of owners, actually owned the houses and there was virtually no way of discovering who held 50+ percent of an individual property.  Virtually all the banks paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for their illegal seizures and sales of these properties.  It should be noted that the banks solved their illegal behavior totally with fines; no one went to jail for these illegal acts by the banks.

 

It was an unbelievable mess that defied straightening out.  For a period of a little over two years the Federal Reserve, under Chairman Ben Bernanke, with the support of President Barack Obama, bought up 50 billion dollars’ worth of mortgages a month and also added 50 billion dollars a month directly to the National Cash Flow.  At the end of this period the new Chairperson, Janet Yellen ended the practice gradually over a period of months by systematically decreasing the amount of the monthly purchase until it reached zero.

 

If we ask what happened to all the mortgage pieces that the Federal Government purchased at this time?  Logistically the cost of matching up all the multitudinous pieces of mortgage paper would have been impossible.  And the government did not want to put any additional hardships upon these people.  The mortgage paper was destroyed.  Nobody whose paper the government held was foreclosed upon.  If a house was deserted because it was under water it would eventually be sold for back taxes.  If the people stayed in the house no one foreclosed upon them as long as they paid their property taxes.

 

The problem was that the Federal Government made no announcement about what it had done or was doing.  People found that they could live in their former home without making any further payments.  Many tended to generally spend the money they would have used toward their mortgages.  There was an increase in overall spending due to the generosity of the Federal Government.  People couldn’t sell their homes because they no longer owned them but they could continue to live in them as long as they paid their property taxes.  If they were elderly and eventually passed on the homes would eventually be sold for back taxes.  Some people who had cash and figured this out made a lot of money.

 

Were these funds the Federal Government spent added to the National Debt?  The probability is negative.  These funds were just added to the Cash Flow.  They supplied needed money to the economy and helped the country get out of what was called The Great Recession.  They also helped avoid a greater depression than that of 1929.

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The level of the National Debt today is over 19 trillion dollars and continuing to grow.  The Federal Government has added additional billions of dollars to the National Cash Flow which were not counted as part of the National Debt.  This was from the period of the Great Depression on, through World War II, the post war period, and particularly through the Obama Administration.  By and large the country has moved forward positively during all this going from being a lower class nation to a middle class one.

 

The basic problem that seems to exist is that the understanding of the general public, and seemingly most members of Congress and even a good percentage of the ruling administrations, still have an early Twentieth Century concept of money being an object of wealth rather than a tool that allows the society to operate.  Money defines an individual’s level of wealth but it is not viable until it is used.  This has and can cause confusion in national development.  A true understanding of money and of the true wealth of the nation throughout the country would make a significant positive difference.

The Weiner Component V.2 #33 – The Concept of Money: Part 1

Various Federal Reserve Notes, c.1995. Only th...

Various Federal Reserve Notes, c.1995. Only the designs of the $1 and $2 (the latter not pictured) are still in print. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: USA annual GDP from 1910-60, in billi...

English: USA annual GDP from 1910-60, in billions of constant 2005 dollars, with the years of the Great Depression (1929-1939) highlighted. Based on data from: Louis D. Johnston and Samuel H. Williamson, “What Was the U.S. GDP Then?” MeasuringWorth, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood terms in the world today is money.  Practically all people understand it to be what it was one hundred years ago.  Money can be used as a commodity; whereby it can earn more money.  But it has always had that ability.  Mainly, however, it is a means of exchange.  It allows goods and/or services to be transferred into other goods and/or services.  By itself today it has no intrinsic value.

 

Most people think of it as having an intrinsic value that it had up to the end of the first third of the 20th Century when it mainly consisted of precious metal.  The problem with money being a precious metal like gold or silver is that it makes two unrelated entities dependent upon each other.  These two entities are never in balance.

 

For the economic system of a nation or nations to work properly there must always be enough precious metal available to equal the required amount of exchange of goods and services.  This condition has almost never existed.  With the exception of the 16th Century, when there was too much gold available in Europe because of the looting of the New World, there has never been enough precious metals available to match the needs of the business world.  Today all money in every country consists of valueless tokens generally printed by the Government controlling each particular nation.  This allows for a reasonable exchange of goods and services.

 

The wealth of a nation is not its money supply; it is the human productivity of a fiscal year, twelve months.  Since it is a measurement the value of the goods and services are expressed in terms of dollars or whatever the monetary measurement is of the particular country.  It is the Gross Domestic Product, the GDP.

 

Today money is a tool, having no value in itself, that allows for the exchange of goods and services within each nation.  Its effectiveness is determined by the sophistication of the nation utilizing it.  The amount needed within the society is ever changing.  The ability of each particular nation to determine these changes and continually bring them about determines the level of sophistication.  It is not an easy process.

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Little is actually known about the specific origins of money but the probability is that it was first used by the Phoenicians in the pre-Christian era (1500 to 300 BC).  They were one of the first known merchant groups, trading along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  Initially goods were traded for other goods (barter) or for valuable metals, gold and silver.  Presumably scales were used to measure the gold or silver that was traded.  At some point, during this period, someone came up with the idea of taking a small weight of the metal and stamping its weight upon it.  Eventually this would be replaced by some sort of image, probably a side view of the ruler.  These would be the first minted coins.  Less expensive metals could be used for smaller amounts.  The development of this process could have taken hundreds of years.  The value of money would be universal and largely equal, making the coins equally usable in virtually any nation.

 

This type of trade would continue into the early 20th Century.  With time and the development of technology, coins would become sophisticated but the methods of international trade would remain essentially the same.  During the 14th and 15th Centuries Letters of Credit would become available with financial institutions having offices or banks in a multitude of countries making international trade easier.  The use of checks would develop later.

 

When the Great Depression began in 1929, the Republican, Herbert Hoover was President of the United States.  Hoover believed in the Free Market making all economic decisions and kept waiting for prosperity to return.  The depression continued, growing deeper.  In 1933, the Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President.  He had promised the nation a New Deal.  His program was Relief, Recovery, and Reform.  Suddenly in various ways the Federal Government began providing for people who couldn’t provide for themselves.

 

The program had to be paid for.  The GDP had decreased as unemployment increased.  The government couldn’t raise taxes.  What the Roosevelt Administration did was to collect all the money in the country; that is, collect all the gold coins.  Many people objected, the government sued them and won every case.  The coins were melted down into gold blocks and paper gold certificates were issued and kept by the Federal Government.  Presumably, based upon the gold certificates paper money, Federal Reserve Notes, were issued in place of the gold coins.  In addition the government legally changed the value of the gold from sixteen dollars an ounce to thirty-two dollars an ounce.  The Federal Government doubled the money supply and kept half of the newly created money to pay for its programs.

 

One dollar and five dollar bills were silver certificates, ten dollar bills up were Federal Reserve Notes.  The question arises: Did the Federal Government carefully monitor the amount of paper money it issued to perfectly match the gold certificates it held.  The answer, I suspect, would be, No.  I remember, as a child, in the late 1930s hearing how good the money was because of the gold certificates.  But I never heard of anyone questioning the issue.  It was just assumed.  In point of fact, the probability is that money was issued as needed.  The gold certificates, while they did exist as the basis of money were essentially a fiction.

 

World War II ended the Great Depression.  The United States became the “Arsenal of Democracy;” it essentially supplied all its allies with the materials they needed to fight the war.  Initially the allied nations sent their gold to the United States for safe keeping.  But as the war continued they used that gold to buy food and materials to fight the war.  In time they spend all the gold and were still fighting the war.  Roosevelt came out with his “Lend Lease” plan, which was to continue to supply the Allied Nations in their fight against Germany, Japan, and Italy; the Axis Nations.

 

Actually the U.S. wanted to avoid the mistakes made during W.W.I.  Then, America lent money to the Allied Nations in its war against the Central Powers, Germany and Austria Hungary.  Most of that money was never repaid and led to bad feelings between the U.S. and its war allies.  Lend Lease was actually a gift to the Allied Nations.

 

It is estimated that the United States spent 1,075 trillion 1945 dollars in fighting W.W.II.  Where did all this wealth come from?  The answer would be from the Federal Reserve printing presses.  The amount of money merely denotes the productivity that was needed to win the war.

 

The Federal Government raised taxes and sold war bonds to raise money.  It rationed almost everything so that there was very little upon which to spend money.  After the war ended there was a burst of spending upon almost everything.  That and the government paying for many veterans to finish their education avoided the recession that followed W.W.I.

 

Basically what the government did was to print money as needed.  The gold certificates still existed even though they were basically a fiction.  No one questioned the situation because economic prosperity existed throughout the country.  The so-called process of paying for the war got the country out of the depression and brought about economic prosperity.

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When World War II ended in 1945 those areas where the war had been fought were a shambles.  They had undergone massive destruction from bombing and battles fought during the war.  Their infrastructure and much of their cities of Europe had been destroyed during the six years of warfare.

 

Politically the world emerged in 1945 with two political systems: one largely capitalistic led by the United States and one communistic led by the Union of Soviet Republics or Russia.  Russia was attempting to dominate the world by spreading its influence over non-communist countries.  It was felt in the United States that Russian efforts could be successfully countered by helping the war-torn countries return to prosperity.

 

The Marshall Plan or European Recovery Program (ERP) was introduced by George Marshall, the United States Secretary of State in June 1947 in an address at Harvard University.  It came into being by law on April 8, 1948.  Its objective was to rebuild war-devastated regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, make Europe prosperous once more, and prevent the spread of communism.  The United States gave over $13 billion.  This would be $130 billion in 2016 dollars to help rebuild Western Europe.  Approximately 26% went to the United Kingdom, 18% went to France, and 11% went to West Germany.  18 countries received Plan benefits.

 

In the United States taxes were not increased.  It did not increase the National Debt.  Where did this money come from?  The United States printed and issued it.  Actually what they issued to the different European countries were checkbooks with amounts of money that could be spent in the United States.  The Marshall Plan lasted four years.  Its result was to not only return Western Europe to prosperity it was also to maintain prosperity in the United States where most of this money was spent.

 

By arbitrationally issuing this money the United States brought prosperity to Western Europe and expanded it in the United States.  There were no financial upsets and no real inflation.  The basic money supply of U.S. currency was simply increased.  The conclusion this leads to is that this money was needed not only by the United States but also by the rest of the world.  It allowed for a massive expansion in national and international production.

The Weiner Component V.2 #32 – Pollution: Global Warming

Temperature predictions from some climate mode...

Temperature predictions from some climate models assuming the SRES A2 emissions scenario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Great Global Warming Swindle

The Great Global Warming Swindle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Global Warming Map-tgk

Global Warming Map-tgk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If a person lights a fire in a fireplace in a small room, and the chimney flue is somehow blocked, the smoke will be trapped in the room, polluting it.  If the fire is allowed to continue to burn eventually the smoke in the room will become toxic.  If this is done in a large room the same process will take longer.  If an area is finite, no matter how large, the same effect will eventually result.  The difference will consist of a lot more toxic gases.  The Earth is the largest physical finite space we know of; it would require a tremendous amount of polluting gases to make it toxic.  But enough people over a large number of years releasing carbon-based polluting gases could and have achieve this.  The current population of the earth was approximately 7.5 billion people in April of 2017 and growing with three people being born for every single person who dies.  We may in some regions have currently reached the point of toxicity.

 

It has been argued that the planet goes through long warm and cold phases; and no doubt it does.  There have been warm rich volcanic exploding ages and frozen ice ages.  We are now in a period of gradual non-volcanic warming of the earth.  The ice at the poles is slowly melting.

 

Is this being caused by mankind daily sending millions of tons of polluting gases into the atmosphere which gradually has blocked much of the sun’s daily heat from dissipating back into space or is it occurring by a natural cycle?  The majority of people seem to blame man and his machines.  Individuals like Donald Trump and the Koch brothers who deal in oil production argue for a natural cycle.  Could it be a combination of the two?  Both contributing to a warming cycle, with man’s burning of polluting gases exacerbating the extent of the pollution and greatly increasing the rate of global warming.

 

My wife and I live on the West Coast about 40 miles from the ocean.  Recently in September we had a day when the heat wasn’t 100 degrees or hotter.  My wife complained that while it wasn’t hot enough to run the air conditioning it was still very muggy with the air filled with water vapor.  My comment was: Isn’t that what comes from global warming, moist air brought about by excess heat over the ocean?  She ran the air conditioning to take the moisture out of the air in our house.

 

These gases are not allowing much of the sun’s heat to dissipate, thus continually warming the earth.  The higher temperatures are generating storms by heating ocean currents and creating low pressure zones which absorb additional evaporation that create storms    like Hurricanes Harvey and Hurricane Irma which, in turn, are redistributing moisture, flooding cities like Huston in Texas, the fourth largest urban area in the United States.  Hurricane Irma has done the same thing in Florida and South Carolina.  While Harvey was a category 4 storm, Irma started as a category 5+ storm.  Winds of 157 miles per hour are considered a category 5.  Irma had winds of 187 mile per hour.  The East coast of the United States has never been hit by anything stronger than a category 3 storm.  On Sunday, September 10, after doing devastating damage throughout the Caribbean it came ashore in Florida as a category 6 storm with winds well over 150 miles an hour.

 

Is Hurricane Irma being caused by a single force or by a combination of forces?  Hurricane Irma has come up one week after Hurricane Harvey.  We have Hurricanes Jose, which is currently forming into a category 4 storm.  That makes ten hurricanes the United States has experienced so far this year.  We can conceivably have Hurricane Karen, and others this year.  Following Hurricane Irma by less than a week is Hurricane Jose.  Hurricane Irma is over four hundred miles wide.  It can and has covered the entire State of Florida.  We seem to be getting more and larger hurricanes.

 

The pole’s ice caps are melting, causing the oceans to very slowly rise.  The land surface very gradually decreases as the ice caps at the poles and glaciers decrease.  Is it wise to definitively say that the burning oil in the automobiles and otherwise are not affecting the atmosphere?  One can understand the position of the Koch Brothers and Donald Trump.  After all, they are businessmen and make a good part of their incomes and profits through the sale of oil.  One can even understand why Volkswagen cheated on the cars they sold, having the cars computer software purposely giving false information about the amount of pollutants each car was-throwing into the atmosphere.  After all their bottom line is profits; they are not really concerned with the condition of the planet.

 

Practically all scientists believe in the theory of man-caused global warming.  Because it is a theory and cannot be definitely proven there are global warming deniers.  It’s been my experience that these deniers generally have a vested interest in global warming not being man- induced.  Usually that interest is economic.

 

Historically there have been other scientific theories that could not be absolutely proven in the past.  One is the theory of evolution.  For a long period of time, when the Catholic Church had control of Europe the Theory of Evolution was heresy.  It went against the Church’s theory of the earth centered cosmos.  But as knowledge increased the Church rethought its theory.  There are still some religious groups today that deny evolution because it goes against the Biblical theory of creation.  I suspect the same thing will happen with the theory of man-made global change.

 

One can even understand why the oil companies are the chief financial supporters of the Republican Party, making generous continual contributions to them.  By legal definition political contributions are not bribes.  Consequently a goodly number of Republicans truly believe that the burnt oil pollution has nothing to do with weather conditions.  Of course an equal percentage of Republicans know better.  I suppose they are hypocrites.  But money is needed for political campaigns and they are all practical men.

 

One of the political comedians recently came out with the comment that some of the global warming deniers own vacation property in Florida that may be destroyed or seriously damaged by Hurricane Irma.  They may be facing a political or economic dilemma.

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Not too long ago President Trump visited Europe.  On the 7th and 8th of July 2017 the G20 2017 Summit took place in Hamburg, Germany.  Over 20 heads of government and representatives of international organizations met to discuss global warming.  President Trump, used this conference as an opportunity to directly communicate with Vladimir Putin, the Russian President.  Also since he believes man’s usage of oil products does not affect the environment he withdrew his country from future Summits.  The U.S. had been one of the leaders in this group; in essence under Donald Trump’s leadership it withdrew from a leadership position in the world.

 

However, people like Governor Jerry Brown of California and other leaders around the United States stated that they will continue the struggle to lessen pollution within the U.S.  So the United States representatives both left the G20 and largely stayed with it, following its goals.  If a Democratic President is elected in 2020 the country will be back officially in the G20.

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Hurricane Harvey negatively affected everyone living in Houston, Texas while Hurricane Irma did the same for everyone living in Florida and beyond.  It is estimated that 96 percent of the houses in the Florida Keys were damaged or destroyed by the storm.  Someone commented that the area looked like the aftermath of an atomic explosion.

 

The cost of the damage is in the multi-trillions of dollars.  The total effects of the damage may never be completely eradicated.  Once all the water that covering the city and state is gone and the cleanup and building replacement is done all the structures that survived the flooding will have a mold problem. No matter how much cleaning is done the people doing the cleaning will never get rid of all the mold.  All the inhabitants from these areas will be, among other things, breathing in mold.  Will that shorten some lives?

 

From what is now known now Hurricane Irma killed, going through the Caribbean and parts of the United States at least 46 people, mostly in the Caribbean.  In one old age nursing home six people died because of a loss of electric power.

 

Many people in the U.S. left the area before the storm arrived.  The storm left about nine million people without electric power.  Presumably all the power will be restored by September 22, ten days from now.  The storms turned streets into extensions of rivers.  People traveled by boat where before the storm they had walked or driven.

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When any sort of pollutants are used that effect human beings in a negative fashion a factor that comes into being is the social cost of the use of that resource or resources.  For example the burning of gasoline by vehicles produces impurities in the air that can cause respiratory problems when breathed in.  In addition the burnt gas blocks a percentage of earth’s heat from dissipating, exacerbating the warming of the earth.  This, in turn, causes an increase in global warming.  The social costs would be an increase in medical costs for the increasing poor health of the people involved as well as the cost of the physical damage done by the hurricanes.

 

We have no way of ascertaining what the level of the storms would be if the pollutants had not been present.  Hurricane Irma was one of the largest storms to ever come through the area.  Would it have been a category 3 or 2 hurricane or would it have just been a storm if there had been no global warming?  The fact remains that the storms, at least in part, are caused by the pollutants in the atmosphere.  I doubt that a scientist can be found to dispute that.

 

If the social costs exceed the profits made in producing and selling the gasoline then the general public is taking a tremendous economic and health loss in the use of a particular resource.  They are being forced to assume the social costs brought about by the use of gasoline.  Alternate forms of energy that are harmless to the environment need to be found.  One way to encourage this would be in the form of numerous class action law suits against the companies that produce and sell the gasoline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component V.2 #31 – The Significance of the Arpaio Pardon

Map of Arizona highlighting Maricopa County

Map of Arizona highlighting Maricopa County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Friday, August 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump pardoned the misdemeanor conviction of Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.  He was found guilty of criminal contempt by a Judge after illegally targeting Latinos, a group that constitutes about 1/3 of the population of Arizona, as illegal immigrants.  The sentencing phase of his trial was due on October 5, 2017.  He could have gotten up to six months in confinement.

 

Apparently Trump did not clear the pardon with his Justice Department.  He assumed that as President he could just issue a pardon.  While Arpaio may have acted criminally as sheriff he was not accused of breaking any law.  Instead he was found guilty of criminal contempt.  He has systematically refused to obey Court Orders.  This was his crime.

 

The government of the United States is set-up in three parts.  Each of the parts serves as a check upon the other two sections.  Trump pardoned Arpaio of refusing part of the system of checks and balances.  Basically he abrogated the power of the Courts given to them by the Constitution.  Does the Constitution give him the power to weaken itself?

 

Listening to Trump and Arpaio after the pardon had been issued one got the impression that neither of these two understood the significance of the Constitution.  Both spoke of the case having gone away like it never existed.  When former President Richard Nixon accepted a pardoned in 1974 from then President Gerald Ford, even though he had never been tried or convicted of any crime, he acknowledged that he was guilty of participating in the Watergate burglary and cover-up.  Former sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio, by accepting Trump’s pardon, officially admitted that he was guilty of the Contempt of Court charge, that he had practiced racial profiling as sheriff and had refused to follow court orders to stop the practice, that he, in a manner of speaking had abrogated the concept of checks and balances between the three different parts of government: the administration, the legislative, and the courts.

 

With Trump’s pardon the criminal case had presumably ended.  Arpaio’s pardon was an admission of guilt. By accepting the pardon Joseph Michael (Joe) Arpaio had admitted guilt; he had made innumerable arrests and jailing’s based upon racial profiling.  This action would also be true for all people of color.  I would assume that virtually every Latino and Black who had been arbitrarily stopped, hassled, possibly arrested and jailed in the years from 1993 to 2016, the years Arpaio was sheriff, could sue both him and the county for racial profiling.  In fact it would make a splendid class action suit.  The ACLU or even some private law firm could take the case.  To date there have been over 44 million dollars paid out to individuals that Joe Arpaio had had arrested, jailed, or otherwise mistreated.  This included newspaper reporters to Latinos who were born and live in Maricopa County.

 

One should also keep in mind that according to the July 1, 2016 Census the state of Arizona has, out of a population of 6,931,071, 30.9% Latinos.  We should also keep in mind that at that time 4.9% of the population was Black.  That means that just from his own state he had about two million, four hundred and ninety thousand people upon which to pick.  I would also suspect that even though the majority of the state votes mostly Republican there has been quite a lot of voter suppression.

 

A massive class-action law suit, particularly one in the billions of dollars, would send a very clear message throughout the United States.  If racial profiling became too expensive it would definitely be dropped throughout the nation.

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio is 85 years old.  He has been the country’s “toughest sheriff,” according to his own testimony, from 1993 through 2016, for 23 years.  He was voted out of office in 2016.  He had served 6 terms.

 

Starting in 2005 Arpaio took an outspoken stance against illegal immigration.  He is also known for his investigation of former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.  After sending, at taxpayer expense, one or more investigators to Hawaii to examine the President’s birth certificate. Since they found one he claimed it was forged.

 

Arpaio has been accused of various types of police misconduct, including abuse of power, misuse of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes; improper clearance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, and election law violations.  A Federal court monitor was appointed to oversee his office’s operations because of complaints of racial profiling.  The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history and filed suit against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct.

 

Over his law enforcement career Arpaio cost the county over 44 million dollars in lawsuits over illegal abuses perpetrated upon the press and citizens.  In essence Joseph Michael Arpaio ruled Maricopa County, Arizona like a little Hitler, interpreting the law to fit his prejudices.  This is the man that on August 25, 2017, President Donald Trump pardoned from a possible six month incarceration.

 

Despite numerous Court Orders to end racial profiling Joe Arpaio continued the process, essentially ignoring Court Orders.  In 2016 Arpaio lost the election for sheriff. The office went to the Democratic candidate, Paul Penzone with 56% of the vote.  Arpaio received 44%.  Apparently the sheriff wasn’t able to frighten away enough minority voters in that election.

 

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in another hearing said that evidence demonstrates that Arpaio’s “flagrant disregard” for another Judge’s order that halted Arpaio’s signature immigration roundups, was guilty of illegal action.  The sentencing phase was to begin October 5, 2017.  Arpaio faced up to six months in confinement for ignoring the order.  The contempt charge was a misdemeanor.  Since he had committed a Federal crime he presumably came under the jurisdiction of President Trump.  Trump pardoned him stating that he had spent years enforcing the laws and he should be rewarded not punished.

 

Why did Trump pardon Arpaio?  For one thing they had both several years earlier denounced President Barack Obama as not being born in the United States.  They had both presumably sent people to Hawaii to prove this, Arpaio literally and Trump only verbally.  In addition it would seem that Trump was sending a message to all his relatives and cohorts that if they were arrested and tried for any crimes he would pardon them.  This included any of his supporters who had had relations of any sort with Russia both before and during the Presidential Election of 2016.  It could include both family members and participants who helped him get elected.  The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has been investigating the election and has impounded two separate Grand Jurys.

 

According to John McCain, Joe Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt after illegally targeting Hispanics.  Trump’s pardon “willfully violated” a 2011 Court Order barring him from detaining individuals solely on suspicion about their legal status based solely on their ethnicity.  The President undermined professed respect for the rule of law.

 

McCain stated, “No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold.  Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based upon their perceived immigration status in violation of the judge’s orders.”

 

Obviously the move was blatantly political.  Arizona’s leading newspaper as well as many others in the state denounced Trump’s move.  “The vast majority of Latinos in Arizona are not undocumented, yet they all fell under heightened scrutiny, “the editorial stated.

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Trump’s pardon occurred while a hurricane was approaching Huston, Texas.  The President announced it then, he said, because it would get the most media coverage at that time.

 

While the Constitution gives the President the pardoning power it does not define the extent of this power.  Trump apparently interpreted it to mean unlimited power to grant pardons.  But the Constitution was set up with a system of checks and balances which, in turn, keep any one segment of the Federal Government from taking over control.  There is an executive, a legislature, and a court system.  Each serves as a check upon the other two parts of the Federal Government.  When Trump pardoned Arpaio he encroached upon this system of checks and balances.

 

Arpaio was not forgiven for breaking a law, which he did do, but for invalidating a Court Contempt charge.  He pardoned a legal decision by a Judge.  In doing this he abrogated one of the checks and balances of our legal system.  Does he have the authority to do that?

 

Judge Susan Bolton of the U.S. District Court, handling the Arpaio’s case has cancelled a sentencing hearing for the former sheriff but stopped short of throwing out his conviction.  She stated that because a presidential pardon carries the implication of guilt she wants both Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers and the U.S. Department of Justice to submit briefs on why she should or should not vacate Mr. Arpaio’s conviction.  The arguments have been scheduled for October 4th.    She will make a decision at that time.

 

In addition House of Representatives Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are demanding a hearing on the Arpaio pardon.  Mr. Arpaio is also currently appealing his conviction.  Appeals and pardons cannot occur at the same time.  The case is far from being over.  It has yet to be determined if the pardon was legal.

 

Was the pardon legal?  The Constitution gives the pardoning power to the President.  It does not define that power.  Up to that decision all pardoning cases dealt with the breakage of a law brought into existence by the legislative body, Congress.  This case deals with a Court decision.  That power is inherent in the Constitution.  Does the President have the power to override a power given by the Constitution?  That ultimate decision rests with the Supreme Court, the ultimate definer of the Constitution.  Whatever Judge Susan Bolton decides, the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court.  There five Justices are conservative and four are liberal.  However two of the conservative Justices, Kennedy and Roberts, have occasionally voted with the four liberal ones.  In any case will the Supreme Court vote to limit its own power?

The Weiner Component V.2 #30 – Trump & Afghanistan

On Monday, August 21, 2017, President Donald J. Trump gave a foreign policy speech dealing with Afghanistan.  It stated that there would be a continuation of our troops being there and that at some near point in the future more troops would be added to our presence.  The Afghanistan War, if it is a war in the strict sense of the term, is to date the longest war or military action in which the United States has ever been involved, it has now lasted 16 years.  Of course one could argue that we are still at war with North Korea since we have had troops stationed at their border since 1953 when a truce was declared.

 

The issue with Afghanistan is rather complex.  President Trump edited out a lot of information in his presentation.  It will be useful to consider some of these facts.

 

Shortly after the terrorist assault and destruction upon the Twin Towers in New York City on 9/11/01 the U.S. military attacked Afghanistan which was then ruled by the Taliban.  The terrorist raid upon America was organized from there.  While that war was going on the U.S. also attacked Iraq, a country which presumably had weapons of mass destruction.  To President Bush, his Vice President, Dick Cheney, and his Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, this was an ideal opportunity to remake both of these nations into copies of the United States.

 

Unfortunately by the American leaders there was no understanding of either of these countries or of their cultures or people.  Iraq was then ruled by Saddam Hussein, a dictator.  The country was quickly militarily taken over and a new government was established by the U.S.  One of the major problems of the new Iraqi government was that it functioned by favoritism, nepotism, and corruption.  For another thing the new government instead of treating all its citizens equally favored the Shiites over the Sunnis, one major religious sect over the other.

 

These forces that existed in both the military and the government put people in positions of authority regardless of their capabilities.  In the army it chose its officers in this fashion, meaning the military corps were essentially led by incompetents.  Given a combat situation they would probably be the first to run, leading to mass desertions during battles, particularly against determined fighters.

 

The Iraqi example of corruption that stands out was a large building put up by an Iraqi contractor and paid for by the U.S. government on the edge of the desert.  The building, when finished cost millions of dollars and was never used.  It’s probably become part of the desert today.  It seems that the builder, in order to increase his profits, minimized the amount of concrete mixed with the sand to such an extent that when water hit a part of the building it dissolved the concrete.  And it does at intervals rain there.  It was never safe to enter the structure because any part could dissolve at any time.  The probability was that the builder pocketed his profits without any complaints.  This is one blaring example, there are countless others.

 

In battle, when the Iraqi military faced determined fighters like ISIS, they would throw down their weapons and flee the scene.  The Iraqi President demanded that if the Americans stayed in Iraq they came under the legal jurisdiction of the Iraqi civilian legal system.  The American army has its own code of military laws which would try American soldiers for infractions of the laws.  They would not put their men under Iraqi jurisdiction.  Consequently, as the Iraqis wished, the United States began removing its army from Iraq.

 

Essentially the same thing happened in Afghanistan.  Under President Barack Obama the troops were being removed from that country.  Both Iraq and Afghanistan had been able to order the U.S. around but their governments were not strong enough to hold their territories against the Taliban, ISIS, and Al-Qaida.  This has necessitated the return of American troops and the continued war in these countries.

 

Presumably today, there have been improvements.  The American troops serve as advisers.  President Trump, in Afghanistan, wants them to kill members of the terrorist groups, that is, to go back to a combat mission and win the war.

 

Is it really a war?  Or are we holding these territories for governments that are not really capable of controlling their own land?  If this is true then we are stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan for the duration, however long that may be.

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Trump’s new strategy for war in Afghanistan is very similar to Obama’s old strategy.  A large number, possibly 4,000 or more American soldiers will be added at some point in the near future bringing our military forces there to just over twelve thousand men.  The U.S. will, according to President Trump, presumably quickly kill the enemy and win the war.     The actual probability is that the enemy will then fade away, essentially leave the country during the American buildup and then return when the U.S. removes most of the troops.  They’ve done this before.

 

What will it take to change this pattern?  And is it possible?  Can the Afghanistan’s stand up to their radical forces?  This was President Obama’s plan.  If we again take up the war and fight it will we be actually doing Afghanistan a favor or encouraging their traditional position?

 

In point of fact, is it really a war that is being fought in Afghanistan or are we just maintaining the status quo?  Will these countries ever be strong enough to maintain their own security?  That’s an interesting question.  Can it be answered at present?

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a ...