Monthly Archives: March 2009

More Interesting News For Business Types

The American Economy As Basketcase

A couple of weeks ago, I did point out that oligarchies do have their merits in stabilising systems. They’re uncompetitive, and perhaps even anti-competitive, but a stable economy seems to be built on oligarchic sharing of market segments, rather than a genuine free for all. Part of this might be because there simply aren’t enough smart people around to run a lot of tiny corporations, and in turn, there is possibly a natural pooling of talent in more stable environments which means the oligarchies tend to come out of the same social soil as the idiots who might be running these companies. With that in mind, check out this link from Pleiades.

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies—lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits—such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Several other factors helped fuel the financial industry’s ascent. Paul Volcker’s monetary policy in the 1980s, and the increased volatility in interest rates that accompanied it, made bond trading much more lucrative. The invention of securitization, interest-rate swaps, and credit-default swaps greatly increased the volume of transactions that bankers could make money on. And an aging and increasingly wealthy population invested more and more money in securities, helped by the invention of the IRA and the 401(k) plan. Together, these developments vastly increased the profit opportunities in financial services.

Oh dear. And Wall Street really ran with it, didn’t they now? The net result is the plum-pudding of financial doom we’re all being collateralised into. Who came up with this lousy plan?

It’s another rivetting read if you’re into why this Global Financial Crisis is so f*cked, begat in f*ckedness, and delivered from and unto f*ckednss by the f*cked.

Macquarie Bank Buys Into Brisconnetions

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at Brisconnections and its amazing collapsing unit prices, the $2-per-unit that had to be paid, and how one Nick Bolton who bought into these shares as penny-dreadfuls looking for a quick buck, has now moved to wind up the trust.

This week we find Macquarie Bank has waded into this mess by buying the trust units in order to forestall the windup motion.

What started as a circus sideshow has now turned into a serious headache for the investment bank, which is attempting to protect its $325 million exposure and a future fee stream.

Macquarie was a key member in the BrisConnections consortium that won the 45-year concession to build, operate and finance the 6.7-kilometre Airport link toll road in Brisbane.

But now the bank that turned infrastructure financing into a global franchise faces having one of its bread-and-butter tollroad projects derailed in a street fight with a 26-year-old internet entrepreneur.

Macquarie’s 8.1 per cent stake in BrisConnections, picked up for spare change, is aimed at thwarting Nicholas Bolton’s attempt at winding-up the toll road operator. This move had been looming as the escape plan for Bolton and thousands of retail shareholders who are holding onto toxic securities that have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of debt attached.

In rosier days BrisConnections represented a fee pot for Macquarie and a clutch of investment banks linked to last year’s $1.2-billion sharemarket float.

Macquarie secured a financial advisory fee of $56.1 million, a sponsor development fee of $12.5 million, and an equity underwriting fee of $28.2 million. It also stood to gain a dividend reinvestment plan underwriting fee of $14 million.

Deutsche Bank shared its equity underwriting exposure to Macquarie, and Credit Suisse and JPMorgan each had a small windfall in the underwriting fee.

Macquarie also stood to gain through an agreement that secured it as an exclusive financial adviser to BrisConnections for a decade.

Among all this is Deutsche, which is a not so disinterested bystander in proceedings. With Macquarie, Deutsche is the co-underwriter of the $390 million due to be paid on April 29. The two have a further $390 million underwriting obligation that is due again next year.

Unless there is a miraculous change in appetite for start-up infrastructure assets, the underwriters are likely to be left with the bulk of the shortfall, given the unrealistic prospect that retail shareholders will be in a position to pay for this.

Naturally, Deutsche Bank would rather not pay that sum of money just because Mac Bank floated the damn thing in a way that -pardon the pun – would sink rather than float. All very funny, and I do hope this Nick Bolton fella wins. The Mac Bank model of ‘infrastructure business’ is so reprehensible, they deserve this stuff to happen to them and probably more.

UPDATE: Of course  the news of the day (02-Apr-’09) is that Bolton wins the first round in court. BrisConnections can’t stop him from calling  the unit holders’ meeting to wind down the trust.

Rebel shareholder Nicholas Bolton has won his court battle with Brisbane toll-road builder BrisConnections.

Two planned meetings of unitholders will now go ahead, as scheduled, later this month.

The decision puts in jeopardy the future of Brisbane’s $4.8 billion Airport Link toll road, the biggest infrastructure project under way in Australia. The company’s unit holders will vote on a series of resolutions to have BrisConnections wound up at those meetings.

BrisConnections was seeking orders in the Victorian Supreme Court to have Bolton’s company, Australian Style Investments, wound up on the grounds it was insolvent and would not be able to pay a $77 million instalment owed to BrisConnections.

BrisConnections was also seeking orders to have two meetings of unitholders – called by Mr Bolton, ASI’s 26-year-old major shareholder – to be cancelled. BrisConnections told the court the meetings had been improperly called.

Justice Ross Robson found in favour of Mr Bolton and said the meetings could go ahead. “BrisConnections’ objections to the meetings are not valid objections,” he said.

The decision means that BrisConnections’ small shareholders, who control somewhere between 70% and 75% of the company’s stapled units, will be able to meet and vote on having the company wound up.

Whether that eventuates remains in doubt, as a special resolution to wind-up the trusts requires a 75 per cent vote.

Stay tuned. This is one interesting circus.

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Female Knuckleballer Debuts In Japan

Check This Out!

Eri Yoshida age 17, is a side-arm knuckleballer, who is also the first female professional baseball player in Japan.It’s an indie league that’s far, far away from the NPB, so we probably shouldn’t get too excited, but it’s a kind of pro-ball league all the same.

This is her throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.

Here’s a news story on her.

In the second video, Emoto, a critic says that if she doesn’t have a fastball to go with it, she won’t be able to get her knuckle to be effective. Well… the next video is where things get more interesting

Atsuya Furuta, one of the great catchers in the NPB history, who played in the 1999 Intercontinental Baseball Cup against Australia takes on the 17 year old Eri Yoshida and her knuckleball in this video.

In that video, you’ll see her fast ball is a gyroball.

Yes, you read that right, the mythical gyroball happens to be Eri Yoshida’s fast ball! (so eat your heart out Dice K!). The ball spirals on the axis heading towards the plate. You see it in super slow motion.

Then, the knuckleball demonstration in super slow motion shows that the ball heads towards the plate with virtually no spin. Atsuya Furuta who catches it says, “It really moves quite a bit”. This observation then turns into Furuta stepping into face Yoshida and her arsenal, only to end up striking out swinging on a full count.

Furuta explains that even if the last pitch looked high, he thought if he could hit it before it came down, he would be hitting it before it moved. He swings wildly over the knuckleball – He couldn’t even tell if the ball went over or under the bat. In fact, he didn’t even foul off a pitch in the 6 pitch sequence.

This video is the news story on Yoshida getting her first strike out having walked her first batter. Walking a batter on 4 pitches isn’t great, but the strike out is worthy. So worthy it traveled the wire to ESPN.

OSAKA, Japan — Japan’s first female professional baseball player made her debut Friday, striking out one batter in the ninth inning.

Eri Yoshida, a 17-year-old who throws a sidearm knuckleball, took the mound during Kobe 9 Cruise’s 5-0 season-opening win over the Osaka Gold Villicanes in the newly formed Kansai Independent League.

The 5-foot, 114-pounder walked the first batter leading off the inning on four pitches and allowed a stolen base before striking out the next batter swinging at Osaka Dome. She was then replaced after facing two batters.

“I wasn’t thinking about anything other than just going out there and giving it my all,” said Yoshida, who is hoping to stick with the Kobe team. “I think this was a bad result but the stadium is great and the fans were really cheering me on. I want to be able to pitch more innings and become a pitcher who can be relied upon.”

Which is great. And so Rob Neyer chimes in with this rather uncharitable commentary:

Hmmm, let’s see … five feet and 114 pounds … what happens when the enemy hitters start dropping bunts into that tricky area between the pitcher’s mound and the third-base line? Will Yoshida have the quickness and the arm strength to throw anyone out at first base? And speaking of arm strength, what happens when the count is three balls and no strikes? Or what happens when there’s a grounder to the first baseman and she has to cover first base and gets run over by some burly first baseman?

A publicity stunt? Why would anyone think that?

David Pinto writes, “I’ve thought for a while that the path for women to professional baseball would be through the knuckleball. Glad to see that happened in Japan.”

Well, yeah; it might be. You have to admire her dream and her persistence and her skills (or skill). But you can’t play if you don’t have the requisite physical tools, too.

I like Neyer, but his comment is clearly under-researched. She has a gyroball to go with her knuckleball, she throws sidearm; heaven knows if she has or hasn’t another pitch, but it’s not out of the question to learn another one – she’s still only 17!  I think the team that drafted her might have seen it as a stunt, but at the same time it’s clear she’s got technique. She’s got game.

The resulting brouhaha on BTF is fascinating too. I don’t know just how far she can go, but then again she’s only 17. It may yet start a trend of Japanese grils throwing the knucler, the gyroball, sidearm and deceptive. Maybe some of them might just get the NPB. Maybe some of them might even crack the MLB. Maybe the possibilities for baseball skipping over the gender barrier has just opened up?

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Yankees Update 25/03/09

Xavier Nady In RF Over Nick Swisher

This is not the choice I would make, but for the possibility that Nady is being burnished for a trade.

“If we were to break today,” Girardi said, “Xavier Nady would be my right fielder.”

At the start of camp, Girardi said right field would be a competition between Nady and Swisher. Each has played roughly to form, and because Nady had an edge at the start, Girardi said, he was comfortable giving Swisher the news Monday morning.

“I’ve been thinking all day about what I wanted to say,” Swisher told reporters after Monday’s game, an 8-3 loss to Philadelphia. “I’m the type of guy, I want to play every day, there’s no doubt about that. I guess we’re just going to see how it plays out.

“I love this team. I love the coaches, players, I love it all. I think it’s a great spot. But that’s the biggest thing; we’re going to have to wait and see how it plays out.”

Not happy to read that at all. Swisher is younger, more patient, has a better track record until his last season which was bad – which enabled him to be brought to NY, and he’s a better defender.

Another thing sort of did occur to me. Nady came up as a 3B. If they really like his bat that much they could throw him at 3B while A-Rod recovers and put Swisher in RF.

AJ Burnett Beats Bosox (in Spring)

The kind of news you have when it’s not news.

A.J. Burnett, who is 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA in his career against Boston, allowed one run on three hits and two walks in 5-2/3 innings, striking out four. He threw 82 pitches, 49 for strikes, extending his pitch count as high as any Yankees starter has this spring.
“I heard lots of cheers and boos,” Burnett said of his first Yanks-Sox experience. “When David (Ortiz) came up the first time, he was covered in them. It’s awesome. I can’t wait to get in there during the season and see what that’s all about.”

Well, it’s nice to know he can beat those guys so well, so often.

Jeter Is Back From The WBC

Jeter came back to Yankee land where he is most beloved and needed. His inability to lead the hastily assembled host of ‘yankees’ notwithstanding, that is.

Now that the whole world has seen just how bad his range is, you’d think the mystique has eroded on Captain Crunch.

“I need to play,” Jeter said. “I’ve had enough days off. We just had three days off before our last game. With tomorrow’s off-day, I didn’t feel I needed to miss three more days. I wanted to come and play today.”

Jeter hopes to play most of the Yankees’ final nine exhibition games, which is fine with Girardi. Even before Jeter arrived, Girardi penciled him in Tuesday’s lineup, batting second behind Johnny Damon. Girardi also listed Jeter on the travel squad to Clearwater for Thursday’s game with the Phillies.

“I told him, after today, give me what he wants to do, whether it’s one day off or two days off,” Girardi said. “Just let me know what you need, because you know better than what I do.

“I think there’s enough time for him to get ready. I do. But we’ll find out.”

Since Jeter has been gone for about three weeks, his return prompted a series of “hello stranger” moments. The bench coach Tony Peña greeted him with: “Cap’n Crunch! How you doing? About time you showed up.” Tino Martinez, Jeter’s former teammate and a special instructor in spring training, stopped by for a visit.

There were no insights if he had any, no new experiences he could incorporate or convey to the press, no new information. He remains oddly elusive from giving us a piece of his mind. You’d think he never went away and played those games for the USA. It’s bizarre.

Graig Nettles Is Better Now

Graig Nettles is recovering from prostate cancer. That’ good news.

*Feb 26 - 00:05*Nettles had surgery to remove his prostate in April of last year.
“Hopefully that’s all been taken care of and I’m cancer free,”  said Nettles, taking a break from working out with the Yankees in Tampa. “I still have to go every six months to get it checked out, but my health is good.”
Cancer hasn’t stopped the 64-year-old Gold Glove legend, who’s already talking about making his way to the Bronx this season.
“I’ll make it out there to the new (Yankee) Stadium a few times this year,” he says.
Nettles spends his springs with the current Yankees as an instructor and is more than familiar with the parade of havoc that comes with wearing pinstripes. He invited fans into his crazy days in the Bronx with his book entitled “Balls,” released in 1984, so he’s no stranger to the absurd. He once summed up his Yankee career succinctly and perfectly in 1978 by saying: “When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a baseball player and join the circus. With the Yankees, I have accomplished both.”

As with so many of my heroes in my life, I loved him because he was funny as well as good.

AFA 165588“I’m indebted to the Yankees for always inviting me out to spring training,” says Nettles, who came to Yanks in trade with Cleveland in 1972. “I know I can’t do the things I used to anymore, so I live through the players. It’s all in memory what I did.”
And Nettles did a lot, enjoying his best season in 1977, when he picked up his first of two Gold Glove and crushed 37 homers and 107 RBI in helping lead the Yankees to a World Series win over the Dodgers. The following season, Nettles earned his second Gold Glove and  made diving stop after diving stop against the Dodgers in what was back-to-back World Series championships in the Bronx.
But his most cherished memory?
“The biggest thrill I got was when (Chris) Chambliss hit the home run to put us in the World Series in 1976,” he says. “That was it.”

The memories that stay on and on. I remember that shot.

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John Brattain Passes Away

No More Laughs From John

This isn’t April Fools. He’s not going to pop up anymore with a line.

John Brattain was a witty man who posted over at BTF and Baseball Primer before that. He was always ready with a funny line and would sign off his posts with “best regards John”. His distinct style was remarkable in that his wit was accompanied by charm and generosity. He was probably one of my favorite posters. He also contributed regularly to The Hardball Times. The news come as a rude shock. He was a Toronto Blue Jays fan and was always keen to share his insight.

I’m going to miss this internet luminary. 😦

RIP John.

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WBC Ends

Japan Wins 5-3

Japan thus defended its WBC title, but it was no easy pickings.

Japan wins second WBC TitleSeattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki hit a two-out, two-run single in the top of the 10th, and Japan beat reigning Olympic champion South Korea 5-3 Monday night to win its second straight WBC title before a boisterous crowd of 54,846 at Dodger Stadium.

The Japanese won the inaugural tournament three years ago, beating Cuba 10-6 in the finals at Petco Park in San Diego.
South Korea had tied the game at 3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Lee Bum-ho\’s run-scoring single off Japanese closer Yu Darvish (2-1), who got in trouble by issuing one-out walks to Kim Hyun-soo and Kim Tae-kyun, the 3-4 hitters in the lineup.

Darvish struck out Choo Shin-soo before Lee lined a 1-1 pitch into left field, with pinch runner Lee Jong-wook scoring easily from second.
Seiichi Uchikawa opened the 10th with a single, was sacrificed to second and took third on a single by Akinori Iwamura. After pinch-hitter Munenori Kawasaki popped out, Iwamura took second on defensive interference.
Suzuki managed to foul off a pitch after it had bounced then lined the eighth pitch of the at-bat from Lim Chang-yong (1-1) to center for his fourth hit. The Mariners’ star entered with a .211 average and three RBIs in eight previous games.

Given the lead, Darvish worked around a leadoff walk to retire South Korea in the bottom of the 10th, setting off a wild celebration when he struck out Lee Jin-young to end the four-hour game.

I had 6 heart attacks watching the game from start to finish. Korea were a lot tougher than USA as it turned out and deservedly were in the finals. You don’t really get a view of how tough a team plays until you sit there and watch the grinding at-bats and the dirty big flyballs. They swing the bats hard in South Korea. the power hitters in the heart of their lineup were every bit as scary as the best of the MLBers from any country. And they played great defense.

The Japanese knocked out 15 hits over the 10 innings and seemed to get a runner in scoring position in just about every inning, but somehow the Koreans kept squirming out of these tight spots and keeping Japan within distance. There were no blow out innings, no long sequences of hits. Every at-bat was contested hard by the Korean hurlers, and the Japanese never looked like they were going to run away with it.

The Koreans caught up with the Japanese twice, the second time in the bottom of the ninth with 2 down, and strikes on the hitter. They’re mentally tough guys, and you just have to respect that- and the wonder of Baseball.

Hisashi Iwakuma was a revelation. The guy can really gather his strikes nice and low and pitches to both sides of the plate. The command was sufficient to stifle the Korean bats for 7-2/3 innings, holding them to 2 runs.

It was also the second time I’ve seen Yu Darvish pitch. His 9th inning was all tense and herky jerky, but his 10th was a lot more powerful and precise, even though he gave up a lead off walk. He’s got great tools but he\’s got a way to go yet in the experience stakes. It was very uncomfortable watching Darvish walk 2 guys and give up a hit after letting the count go to 3-1.

Then there was Ichiro who battled the Korean closer Lim Chang-Yong for 8 pitches to slap a 2-run single, who I think is going to go down in the annals of baseball as having balls of steel. That was just a magnificent at-bat. Also, full credit to the Korean manager In-Sik Kim for not walking Ichiro who was 3-for-5 at point in the evening, his bat suddenly finding form in the heat of a tense final. It was a gutsy, honorable call.

The really telling stats are how the only team to beat Korea was Japan and the only team to beat Japan was Korea. They played each other 5 times in 17 days, while playing other teams in between, which in retrospect seems like a novelty. It was one heck of a tournament an I’m already exhausted.

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WBC Update 23/03/09

So Much For That

Japan beat the USA to advance to the final. I have mixed feelings about all this because either team winning would have been good for me – but my glass is half empty when one of them loses too. 🙂

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Daisuke Matsuzaka remained undefeated in the World Baseball Classic and defending champion Japan beat the United States 9-4 at Dodger Stadium on Sunday to reach the final against South Korea.
“Can you believe this? Look at the score. I feel so bad about this,” Tom Lasorda, Hall of Fame manager and WBC global ambassador, said from his seat behind home plate.
“I’m very, very disappointed. We had high hopes. This is the second time we were supposed to win. We taught these people the game.”
Instead, Japan gave the lessons on American soil.
Matsuzaka sent his country into Monday night’s title game against South Korea, a 10-2 winner over Venezuela in Saturday’s semifinal. Japan won the inaugural tournament in 2006, defeating Cuba in the final.
Akinori Iwamura’s RBI triple was the key hit in a five-run fourth inning against starter Roy Oswalt, and the U.S. absorbed its first loss to Japan in major international play since the 2005 World Cup. The Americans had won four in a row, including an 8-4 victory in the bronze medal game at the Beijing Olympics.
“We didn’t play as well defensively,” U.S. manager Davey Johnson said. “We made it a ballgame through seven innings, and made some mistakes, walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth, and that’s not the way you win ballgames.”

Oh well. Derek Jeter was the goat with his error in the 8th. Not happy about that at all.  This comment is disturbing:

Jimmy Rollins went 4-for-4 with a walk and a two-out triple in the seventh. Masahiro Tanaka struck out Wright to end the inning.
“We had a lot of fun being an underdog, knowing that we were at somewhat of a disadvantage as far as having time to prepare,” Rollins said. “It shows the support and passion these other countries have for baseball. In America, we have many sports, so our attention is at whichever sport season is going on at that time.”

Come on Jimmy, you’re the MLB! You can’t be underdogs in playing NPB Japan! On the other hand Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to amaze as he is now 6-0 in WBC games. He lives for this stuff. So now it’s Japan vs Korea part 5. *sigh*.

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You Just Don’t Get It

“Suck On This!” He Cried As He Pulled The Trigger

I often think that most of life’s lessons are hard-earned or lucked-upon. It’s good in the cyber-age when people can write something and the idea travels the globe. Pleiades sent in this one which, you MUST read to get just how arcane and corrupt ‘the system’ has become. At the end of it you realise that it’s still a case of ‘Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss.”

People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they’re not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d’état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.

The crisis was the coup de grâce: Given virtually free rein over the economy, these same insiders first wrecked the financial world, then cunningly granted themselves nearly unlimited emergency powers to clean up their own mess. And so the gambling-addict leaders of companies like AIG end up not penniless and in jail, but with an Alien-style death grip on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve — “our partners in the government,” as Liddy put it with a shockingly casual matter-of-factness after the most recent bailout.

The mistake most people make in looking at the financial crisis is thinking of it in terms of money, a habit that might lead you to look at the unfolding mess as a huge bonus-killing downer for the Wall Street class. But if you look at it in purely Machiavellian terms, what you see is a colossal power grab that threatens to turn the federal government into a kind of giant Enron — a huge, impenetrable black box filled with self-dealing insiders whose scheme is the securing of individual profits at the expense of an ocean of unwitting involuntary shareholders, previously known as taxpayers.

It’s pretty bleak. There’s a whole section on how the US Fed has been secretly buying up bad debt to bail out these banks from the back door, all the while TARP was being argued over. It’s harrowing, but enlightening to know that US$3.1trillion of the US$13 trillion of Derivatives got accounted for through the back door, while Congress haggled over $700billion.

While I don’t necessarily buy into the conspiratorial angle of the story, I do accept that the US government in the end is an oligarchy of the rich that keeps it that way. It’s not the different to how democracies end up being run. It’s just that some bother with appearances more than others. Rome was thus, China was thus (and still is), England was thus and still is, and even France will forever slip back with the Ancien Regime. Germany and Japan have long devolved and Spain is only ever stable under oligarchs. Russi is nothing but, while the singular lessons learnt by Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War seems to be how to run a conemporary capitalist oligarchy o the rich. Afria has’t learned it, neither has the Arab world.

It’s universally a crappy deal, but what can you do? You’ve been bought and sold long before you were even born. It’s depressing, but these are the lessons we keep learning and learning again from history and in life.

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