Fascism in Greece

Flag of the National Fascist Party of Italy. F...

Flag of the National Fascist Party of Italy. Fascism utilized the fasces as its political symbol. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wherever and whenever there is economic distress, you can expect fascism to rear its ugly head. The Great Depression led to the rise of fascism is Spain, Italy and Germany and led ultimately to WW2. The prolonged economic distress of the Great Recession has led to the rebirth of fascism in Greece. By prolonging the Great Recession to defeat President Obama and regain power, the GOP are contributing to the rise of fascism in Greece. The GOP state that we are in danger of following Greece into economic disaster, and they are doing everything in their power to make it happen.

Please see http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19065-the-surge-of-neo-nazism-in-greece

Ponzi

Ponzi circa 1920

Ponzi circa 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ponzi, The Incredible True Story of the King of Financial Cons by Donald H. Dunn. Carlo (Charles) Ponzi, born in Italy in 1882 and died in 1949 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, did not invent the Ponzi scheme, but he gave it its modern-day fame. I purchased this book when the Bernie Madoff scandal was in full flower, but I did not get around to reading it until after Barack was re-elected. Ponzi’s life is a fascinating tale of small successes and many failures until he had an inspiration.

He discovered that postal coupons purchased in one country could be used in another country, and thus exploit currency exchange rate differences. Huge percentage profits were possible, but the dollar amounts were small. Ponzi decided to proceed as if dollar profits were unlimited. He sold notes to buyers who were promised a 50% return on their money, at first after 90 days and later reduced to 45 days. When the banks were paying only 4% in 1920, word spread rapidly that Ponzi was paying 50% every 45 days. Lines started forming as people rushed to take advantage of the get-rich opportunity that Ponzi offered.

For 6 months, Ponzi prospered and then the wheels started to come off. Ponzi refused to reveal how he was redeeming the postal coupons that he claimed were the source of his profits, as similarly Bernie Madoff refused to reveal how his stock buying and selling could consistently beat the market in both Bull and Bear markets. To succeed for a time, a Ponzi scheme must grow in size as new investors’ money is used to pay off older investors. Eventually someone will question how such large operations function without leaving a trace of evidence of doing what they say they are doing. There were not enough postal coupons in the world to support Ponzi’s operation, and the stock tickets supporting Bernie Madoff’s operation were counterfeits.

During the GOP primary season, there were accusations that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Untrue. All the numbers supporting Social Security revenues and obligations are known and public information. In a true Ponzi scheme, the operator refuses to tell how he/she generates the extraordinary returns. Mitt Romney’s tax proposals where he refused details more closely resembled a Ponzi scheme than Social Security does.

Wild cards

Bicycle brand playing cards, showing one of ea...

Bicycle brand playing cards, showing one of each type plus the joker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pay no attention to current polls nor to pundits.  I have listed below some of the wild cards that may influence the November election:

  1. Iran develops a nuclear device.
  2. Israel attacks Iran.
  3. Al-Qaeda attacks US soil again.
  4. Spain or Italy leaves the Euro currency.
  5. Japan permanently abandons Tokyo because of increased radiation levels.
  6. Mother nature produces rash of tornadoes and hurricanes.
  7. Supreme Court rules on Obamacare.

I am sure that there are other wild cards that I don’t know about that should be added to the list. The results in November are likely to fall in one of these three categories:

  1. Democratic sweep leading to faster recovery from Great Recession.
  2. Divided government causing slow recovery from Great Recession to continue.
  3. Republican sweep leading to Paul Ryan budget and the Great Depression 2.

Costa Concordia

English: The "Costa Concordia" in Pi...

Image via Wikipedia

This is what we think we know: the Costa Corcordia ran aground due to human error, there may have been an electrical fault, and the captain abandoned ship in a cowardly manner. It may be months, if not years, before we know for certain what really happened. In the meantime, I suggest reading or re-reading as I just did, Joseph Conrad‘s Lord Jim. Conrad was a competent seaman, but he was an extraordinary observer of and writer about man’s relation to the sea.

Jim was an ordinary man, not a British lord, who exhibited cowardice at a critical moment on a ship that struck a concealed obstacle and then did not sink. The European crew abandoned ship and left 700+ Muslim pilgrims onboard to their fate. At a hearing, Jim was stripped of his license as a ship’s officer and then began to work as a liaison between ships and on-shore suppliers. As his story followed him eastward, he fled before it. Finally, he could flee no farther and he sought escape among the native Malays where he thought his story would not follow. They called him Lord Jim in their native tongue. There after another act of cowardice by a renegade who Jim allowed to depart caused the death of the chief’s son, he met his death at the hands of the grief-stricken father.

Conrad makes the point that no one knows if he will meet a challenge or retreat in cowardice until he is tested. An act of cowardice frequently causes death to others. Finally it results in the death of the coward himself at a later date.

Please see Joseph Conrad | The Mirror of the Sea | Google Earth | Wind