The Big Short

I’ve been a hobby stocks and finance guy since i was 11. I have a huge collection of books on the subject of markets, economics, and related math. so, when I struggled to understand the economic collapse of 2008 in much depth, i figured my knowledge was just dated. Turns out that wasn’t
The case. In fact, the situation was mostly fucked.

Reading Michael Lewis’s The Big Short filled in the last few details I needed to understand. the answers on a technocratic level seem to be pretty easy. You start by cleaning up the ratings agencies. That might have been enough, in theory. If that doesn’t work you can try limiting the dimensions of abstraction allowed in a derivative away from the actual asset.

In that way too you could limit the total risk to the system. But, you see, that’s treating those problems as the cause. Until income equality increases in America again, these kinds of games will continue to be played on an increasing level, and it’s doubtful that the good guys will be able to keep pace with the highly motivated malefactors.

It now seems clear to me that until the tax structure impedes the hoarding of great wealth in a highly concentrated group, the “markets” will keep finding new bubbles, new ways to cheat, and new ways to screw the other 99%.

I’m glad there appears to be some reform occurring in Washington, but as soon as the ink is try or the web pages’s electrons are observed, the new laws will be worked around.

I’m no saint, I just want in.

Direct Action

The cutesy blackout staged more as a PR stunt than as an effective protest of global warming obviously had no effect. But the peak of global warming awareness that corresponded to the success of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Hurricane Katrina is abating. The economy is used as an excuse to do nothing.

A much more powerful statement would be a general strike by those in the science and technical fields whose work directly depends on climate science. If this could be spread out enough to cost the economy 2% of its output that day, it would correspond with the worst-case scenarios estimated for the current climate-change legislation.

But I wouldn’t link it with anyone’s legislation or anyone’s party.

If people are saying climate science is fake, then all of the work that depends on it as being real shouldn’t be necessary. Shouldn’t really hurt the economy, right?

What’s even better is that a general strike like this would be confined to elites who can afford to do a sick day a lot more than someone who needs to put food on the table and is an hourly worker.

I would also suggest that doctors in Texas—or anyone else upon whose work the science of evolution depends—do the same. If it’s so wrong, they don’t need you, right?

Of course that’s bullshit and people who know damn well that this science is good are just stirring up the yokels. It’s long past time to call their bluff.

Airline Idiocracy

The reason Spirit Airlines’ decision to charge for carry-on bags is creating a tempest in a teapot is because, like RyanAir charging for the toilet, we are tired of having new fees tacked on. But it wasn’t necessarily a bad idea in the first place. But, despite that, the other airlines now say they won’t do it.

If you’ve flown lately, you know it’s hell. You know it’s hell and you’re nickel and dimed at every turn. But one of the ways it is made hell is by people bringing too much carry-on luggage, slowing the boarding and deboarding process hugely. This started because it started taking longer and longer to collect checked baggage, and in many airports it became a lot easier to not go to the carousel. Also, it’s harder for them to lose. Then they started charging for bags. So, people started bringing everything on. This is annoying.

I can see why they should apply supply/demand price curve controls to this abuse. But they probably wouldn’t have to if they (a) didn’t charge for bags; and (b) didn’t charge for everything else.

I, for one, would be willing to pay just about double to use a convenient airport, not get nickel and dimed, not get jerked around when there’s a delay or a cancellation, have a tiny bit more room in coach (I don’t need a sleeper seat, but something not made for the lollypop twins would be nice too), etc.

The next time the airlines come hat in hand for a bailout, I hope we either don’t do it, or only do it on the condition that their management is rebuilt entirely from scratch.

(Of course, they should then need to be hired from a business that did not receive a communist bailout before, either. Therefore, no banks, defense contractors, auto manufacturers, large government construction contractors, the health care oligopoly, the oil cartel….)

The Outrage!

Clearly, one of the most important matters for our national security is that some teachers in New York City might be getting paid for little work.

Yes, yes, I know. It’s “taxpayers’ money”! I suppose. But isn’t it also “TAXPAYERS’ MONEY” when tax-cut funded companies who feed off the public teet for contracts and whose executives pay little or no tax using schemes almost no one can afford engage in self-parodying materialism?

The fact that this kind of thing is even in the news might signal that we have reached a kind of Lithium stupor of good times like the 1990s. In fact, it just signals that outrages, both imagined and exaggerated, are the stock and trade of today’s politics.

Really, folks. This is about #129,266 on our list of things to do.

More on space…

Apparently, I’ve been spun.

Obama announced today that the cancellation of the moon mission doesn’t mean that the progress towards a Mars mission is off. I’m not surprised by this. Lately, the conservative noise machine has been fomenting outrage about things that haven’t even happened yet on the theory that they could.

I still think that a more permanent presence on the moon makes more sense before a shot at Mars, but that’s nitpicking by comparison to a cancellation of manned missions.

They just lie about anything and everything to gin up a little friction against the President. I should have known.