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December 28, 2015


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Wow. I learn something every day.

I shall return.
Ned Warren

Ned Warren now there is a name to remember. I consider myself one of the few people to have "scammed" old Ned and lived to tell about it. That is a long story better told at another time.

Thank you for an informative and educational post. I guess it's just me being an American, or the descendant of homesteaders (ranchers and farmers both), but I have always held a high esteem for "the land" and I value highly its wise use and preservation. The state and federal governments are imperfect stewards, but the inaction of bureaucracy and democracy in action have at least preserved tremendous amounts of the wild land in the West for the future, and I think we are probably better off for it. There is still, clearly, plenty of privately held land in play for development and speculation.

Mark I just as soon my hero Teddy would have declared Arizona a roadless wilderness but he mistakenly gave us a dam.

Ramjet, Jr is still here.

We all want to live in Eden, and by the time our Free Market buccaneers are done, we all will. Except it won't be Eden anymore. It will be Hell.

You don't have to go the Full Malthus (or Abbey) to see the problem with letting "markets" decide something as critical as water use, the built environment, transportation, and economic development. What you end up with are the lowest-common denominator practices That is, whatever makes some rich hustlers even richer.

There is no substitute for political will and public power. You either exercise it or you turn your Eden over to snakes like Keating and Wolfswinkel. The apple came with worms shaped like dollar signs, and it's too late to unbite the tantalizing poison of extravagant wealth. This story is as old as time and, at long last, as fundamental to our fall. Arizona handed itself over to the highest bidder for no better reason than greed. Not to worry, however. The remediation costs will be socialized.

Wolfswinkel gets 104 hits in the Relevant series of the American Continental Corp. Records at ASU Libraries Arizona Collection. Available by appointment. Relevant series contains files deemed by Judge Bilby and attorneys to be relevant to the MDL-834 bundled case prosecution of Charles Keating and ACC. https://repository.asu.edu/items/25672

Interesting read; I find nothing that surprising.

There’s one thing Christianity, or at least the traditional version of it, get right: we are all natural born sinners; All of us. Some of us are just bigger sinners than others. Rather than be surprised that people will act like pigs and gluttons it should be expected.

There’s one aspect of this saga I find gratifying: all the principles, or at least most of them, carried the odor or past shadiness. Well, if you’re going to climb into a pit filled with vipers – well you’ve got to expect a little (or a lot) of fangs in action. It sounds like they were all screwing each other – and not the public. Who built the 30 mile road is unclear.

There has been a gradual change in society over the decades. That is the loss of the notion of shame – or its flip side honor. I don’t know that any system of written laws can prevent a slick operator from gamming a system. One can only hope that the fear of exposure would be so devastating, that most will not stray too far.

@Soleri: the record of non-market systems does not give one any solace regarding these matters.

I think there is a need for a moral background that is near-universally accepted by a society for it to function with any real success.

wkg, you won't be surprised to learn that I reject completely your notion that "non-market systems does not give one any solace regarding these matters". In fact, I would suggest this is a complete reality inversion. It's why every advanced nation on Earth, even including the U.S., has regulatory frameworks that attempt to keep financial mischief in check. There are no exceptions. When we start making exceptions, as during the financial deregulation mania of the late '90s, disaster ensues. Or was it black people buying houses in 1979 that caused the Great Recession? Millions of people - white and black - lost their houses in the collapse of a housing bubble that free-market types didn't even see coming. Alan Greenspan was famously vexed by the failure of the market to adequately check its own excesses. We suffered through a remarkable period of 70+ years without a major financial crash since the Great Depression, which resulted in right-wingers hating government with remarkable fury. Sadly, this misplaced fury represented the tendency of human beings to let ideology rather than experience guide their thinking.

Homework assignment: see The Big Short, Adam McKay's hilarious new movie showing what happens when market-based solutions meet morality head on. Also, tell me about this supposed golden era when America's financial elites were actually moral. Maybe Glenn Beck is offering a class in this at his online university.

I do have a question for you: why are conservatives incapable of learning? I don't mean to be prickly about this although I wouldn't blame you for thinking this about me. But let me lay it out for you: there are no free-market paradises anywhere in the world. Indeed, when I ask conservatives to name one, they hem and haw, and like Trotskyites of yore, simply suggest that the One True Faith hasn't been fully implemented yet because [insert conspiracy theory]. Your ideology's track record here is, I note with studied understatement, abysmal. I know your media is constantly portraying a cosmic battle between Godly "makers" and libtard "takers". Psst: it's all bullshit. They're playing you for rubes. They wave the flag, weep over fetuses, say blacks have a "culture problem", and suggest Mexicans and Muslims are destroying America. Yet all they seem to accomplish is reducing taxes on the wealthiest and most powerful citizens and corporations. Is it possible your ideology is just a classic con job?

Well said, Soleri.

WKG: her's my moral contribution: BAD POOCHPIZZLE! Hope that helps.

Soleri, Interesting and well said, except the Trotsky analogy. I think U and Trotsky had a lot in common. Particularly your Fire in the Belly convictions.
But Stalin won. And like the perpetual con men alluded to here, he is back. His name is Putin.

And I like your George Carlin nod. "It's all bullshit and it's bad for you."

Soleri, of course, sets up two inane options- one is and a world or country that is a "free market paradise" and the other is something that he won't even describe or propose- I guess it's "everything else".

Of course there is room for laws, regulations, and rules. Like most progressives, Soleri does not even know what question to ask.

That question is- when confronted with choices today at the margins, do you favor more regulation or less? Do you favor the part of Obamacare that required health insurers to offer certain things or do you respect the market enough to let those choices be made by consumers and providers? Do you really think that a higher minimum wage won't effect employment? Want the government enforcing net neutrality or not? Ever get frustrated communicating with your healthcare provider? Read the HIPAA regulations sometime. Want the government regulating the sale of used firearms? Then vote that way.

Want to buy a new lawnmower without the mower safety switch pull bar? Not gonna happen.

Think extra regulation will hold back the big banks? Problem is, then little banks don't even get formed.

Inherent in any free market is the rule of law and property rights. If you're looking for the entities that the rest of the world should aim to become, read about Hong Kong and Monaco.

Those are the best answers to the way a free market, with the rule of law and property rights, can probably optimally exist in todays world.

And what hellholes they are.....

Two other things-

Why are so many jobs today part time?

Do you favor allowing consumers to choose between Uber and taxi cabs?

Cal, I'm tempted to accept your Trotsky comparison as a compliment except, I suspect, you're mistaking my passion for ideological certitude. It's one reason why as much as I like Bernie Sanders and his analysis of our predicatment that I can't support him. Political reality is always going to be the toughest teacher we have. We have to make deals with pigs, split the difference with thieves, and seek crumbs from entrenched power. No one wants to hear this! Most of us want to believe a high-school civics version called America the Ideal. Someone like Bernie comes along and we start believing once again in that ideal. The purist left, in this way, is every bit as naive as wkg and his Tea Party. You're neither going to levitate the Pentagon nor usher in an Aquarian Age. Politics drips with cynicism and the blood of young men sent to die in vainglorious wars. It's haunted by ghosts of massacred indigenes and rebellious slaves. We are tainted by this, each and every one of us. The last thing we need is to think we're somehow better than our own history and genes. By all means, "go Bernie", but remember there's no absolution available to us. We can try to make this nation and planet better but we'll die choking on the words "I don't know". That's life and there's no redemption from our failing efforts. That said, it beats the alternative.

INPHX, is this your new pose? Pragmatist?

Please, dude. You're a free-market zealot who hates the government, "takers", complexity, nuance, and anything that interrupts the free-for-all that your tribe of chirpy stooges celebrates.

Government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. Anything else to add?

By the way: Hong Kong and Monaco are not nations. One is part of the Communist nation known as China, even though it has operated as an open port for many decades. The other is a principality. You apparently can't name any sovereign country with diverse needs like security, agriculture, defense, and various economic interests that approximates the America we know and gnash our teeth over. But go on trying to invent a category where the name of a third-rate novelist describes a completely deregulated marketplace in some misty paradise we can only hope to emulate for our own good. Oh, I know! Somalia!

Well Lenin was more pro workers and unions than Trotsky but it was an error for Lenin to support Stalin over Trotsky. So will Hillary offer Bernie a post or send him into exile.

" He declared that Beneath the waters of "Lake Foul" was a national treasure that had been snatched away from ordinary Americans by politicians and developers in order to pursue and promote thier crackpot ideology of growth, profit and power."
Edward Abbey on Glen Canyon dam

Cal near Sedonas Secret Canyon reading by camp fire light The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko.

Back next year to the lower Sonoran desert where the mighty Sajuaro stands tall. WHAT'S left of them?

So... about that free-market utopia of Hong Kong--land of public transit, high inequality, and low rates of homeownership. It does seem like we're headed in that direction.


--land of public transit, high inequality, and low rates of homeownership.


Having covered business for many years I agree with B'Ham, it's the recognition of shame and its relevance in a good life that keeps society decent. Enacting laws is good politics, having the will to vigorously enforce them is the test of a 'civil' society.

How can Seattle and Hong Kong have such dramatically different approaches to economic policy that they wind up having similar social conditions? I'd like to see free-market orthodoxy explain that.

10-4 Dravao. And we should be putting the likes of Navient, CEOs in prison.
Bernie and Warren for president and VP.
we should be doing away with the DEA.
I C Jon has a new post.
Back in a while going off trail in the Red Rocks for a while.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: free market utopias are every bit unattainable and ridiculous as free love and workers' paradises.

I'd rather have our water resources in the hands of the public than say a psycho like the Nestles CEO or a con man like Wolfswinkel.

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