The Monopoly Man!

9 October 2017At the last minute we were incredibly lucky to get an interview with the oh-so-popular Monopoly Man! Amanda Werner, of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen, joined us right at the top of the show to talk about her experience as the Monopoly Man at the recent Senate hearing on SJ Res 47. GOP members of the Senate want to rollback the new rule from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) which eliminates forced arbitration clauses. Due to careful tactical planning, the Monopoly Man was able to get a seat behind and just a bit to the left of the (now former) CEO of Equifax so that every time the CEO was on camera Amanda was right behind him making her point by clowning it up. Within a matter of minutes the meme blew-up on Twitter and generated a truly phenomenal amount of coverage. Obviously, this was a powerful and funny way to get the word out about a topic many would otherwise overlook. Amanda (cough!), I mean, Monopoly Man, take a bow! Now the rest of us need to do our jobs and call our Senators to let them know we oppose SJ Res 47. We cannot let this one slip through the cracks unnoticed.

Since we had already recorded the entire show and because it was an unusually formatted episode anyway, the only way to hear the complete show is on the website or through your favorite podcast app. The last ten minutes of Will’s block and all of my block are pushed back into Extra Mad.

Following the Monopoly Man interview, in the original top of show block, I talked about the work Big Pharma, and especially Indiana-based Eli Lilly, is doing to support their employees in Puerto Rico, to mitigate supply-chain disruption for critical medications for the US and to supply medication into the region. Pharmaceuticals comprise 72% of Puerto Rico’s exports and the 80 pharma and medical device facilities there employee nearly 100,000 people. It is an enormous job made no easier by the failure of the Trump administration and their disaster response. Will followed-up by talking about the response of private individuals and companies to the problem of entirely rebuilding the electrical grid and cell service system in Puerto Rico. Again, a massive task which should be the responsibility of the US federal government but which is being totally mishandled by unqualified Trump appointees and understaffed, under-resourced agencies.

Will did an extended block on self-determination. This was especially timely because of the recent vote in Kurdistan and the attempted vote in Catalonia. Will underpinned his later discussion of specifics with a thoughtful backgrounder on who it is who determines who will be “allowed” to determine themselves. He moves from there seamlessly to use the nationalist movements of the Kurds and the Catalonians to illustrate his points.

In my block I talk about why cash is still king. Unlike electronic transactions, cash is resilient enough to accommodate disasters like that in present-day Puerto Rico. But that is just a small thing in comparison to the fact that we are rapidly being trained to believe that a so-called cashless society is upon us and if we don’t give up (literally) dirty and ecologically harmful cash then we are falling behind the trend. This is a corporatist agenda being pushed by the companies who are skimming a bit off every single digital transaction. …and then there’s the digital trail. A cashless society is one where we forfeit the power of a transaction to the middlemen and we leave behind us a record of the “micro texture of our electronic life,” to quote economist/anthropologist Brett Scott. Preventing the subversion of cash to a cashless society not only preserves choice, it preserves our option to be anonymous. Cash equals privacy for all of us equally.

Until next week, many carrots! – Arliss

P.S. Giving Arliss the “Wild Haggises at Dawn” treatment, I closed out the show with a bit of a song called Subdisco by Niteworks, an Electronica band from the Isle of Skye who make a ton of great music, much of which modernizes Gaelic song traditions. –Will

Download Here.

 

Flipping the Senate, Trump’s Lies & the AltRight

3 October 2016 – We are fortunate again to have back on the show progressive political pundit Jesse LaGreca (@JesseLaGreca) to talk about the efforts by Democrats to flip the Senate. Something we were once so sure of has become seriously imperiled and Jesse takes us through the top targeted Red to Blue Senate races step by step. It matters that we are about to put a Democrat in the White House but without the Senate President Clinton will not be able to accomplish many of our goals, including appointing decent human beings to the Supreme Court. We can not roll-back Citizens United or restore the weakened Voting Rights Act or wisely protect the environment or be sure that women are free to make their own decisions without securing the Supreme Court. This is a more than critical election. We cannot allow GOP money to shut out our voices again.

Will gets into detail with the horror that is the AltRight and the ties of the Trump campaign to openly racist groups. He discussed the ideological backing of the fascist branch of the alt right, rooted in conspiracy theories, and shows how the Trump campaign and the alt right is moving from covert, dog-whistle racism, to overt antisemitism, including this death threat sent to Jewish Politico journalist Julia Ioffe, which is fairly representative of the way Trump’s supporters have been attacking Jewish journalists. Next week, He’ll talk about the misogynistic “Manosphere” component of the Alt-Right.

I dive into dissecting the morass of lies Trump told about economic issues during the first debate. In fact, there are so many that I will be back next week with even more. (How sad is that?) This week I get into the fact that China is NOT manipulating their currency, factories in Mexico are NOT more sophisticated than those in the US and Mexico is NOT the “8th wonder of the world” as claimed by Trump. Then I go after his lies related to jobs and Ford Motor Company. Ford is NOT putting workers in Michigan out of work in order to move manufacturing to Mexico and the US is NOT shedding manufacturing jobs. In fact, the Obama Administration (or Obama/Clinton Administration, as Trump puts it) has added 800,000 new manufacturing jobs in the last five years.

At the top of the show Will tells us that Jeremy Corbyn still can’t lead his Labour Party out of a paper bag, much less to Downing Street. I get into it over Trump’s lie about the condition of the US nuclear arsenal.

If you haven’t seen them yet, Team Arliss, on Instagram at ImHoppingMad, has their own take on the recent Presidential debate. Carrots! – Arliss

Download Here!

1st Anniversary! Media, Money & Bitcoin

19 September 2016 – We are ONE! This is our first year podcast-aversary and we truly want to thank those at Netroots Radio who were so much a part of getting us launched. Also right at the top of the show I talk about where we came from and where we are going. We’re pretty excited about the future.

We do not have an interview this week. Alex Lawson, of Social Security Works!, had a family emergency and had to cancel at the last minute but we can all look forward to having Alex with us next week.

In his segment Will focuses tightly on a terrible article in New Republic which exemplifies one of the dramatic failings of the media during election cycles. Guess what, folks, most of the time it isn’t “both sides.” Most of the time it is facts and reality on one side and absolute make-believe fear mongering on the other side. What is amazing is how easy it is to slip lies into the public space when journalists, like Clio Chang, completely fall down on the job.

I get really wonky and go into the differences between money, sovereign currency, monetary instruments and commodities like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is no more a form of money than is a Beanie Baby. Both are commodities which only have value because the market has deemed it to be such and just like the infamous Pet Rock or, historically, tulips, that “value” can dry up and blow away at any time. Bitcoin is also not a cybercurrency. Thinking of it that way is Bitcoin Bro hype which has been accepted by journalists sheep. These are the links to some of the articles I mention in the show.

Bitcoin is Not a Currency by Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism

Everything I was Afraid to Ask About Bitcoin but Did by Lambert at Naked Capitalism

Money & Banking Part 16:  FAQs About Monetary Systems by Eric Tymoigne at New Economic Perspectives

Bitcoin’s Deflationary Weirdness by Dan Kervick at New Economic Perspectives

A note about the music in this show:  I wanted to use some short snippets which fit with the themes of the blocks we were doing this week. As in the past this will not be a common thing for us, I just really love these particular songs and I thought you might want to hear them too. Selling the News, by Switchfoot, and and Channel 5 News, by Bo Burnham, both have dense and brilliant lyrics. The songs are well worth hearing in full and many times. At the very end of the show I slip in a tiny part of Cyndi Lauper’s genius acoustic reworking of her hit Money Changes Everything. It is seriously wonderful and a must-own piece of music.

Thank you to all of you and a huge thank you to Will. It has been such fun and I can’t wait for more. Carrots! – Arliss

Download Here!

We’re BACK with Failed Tech & Blockchain

12 September 2016 – The stars have almost fully aligned. Will and I are both fully functional this week. Sadly, we have no interview or Extra Mad, because we are both frantically catching-up at work, but the show is all new this week and next week, for our 1-year anniversary show, we have an interview I have been trying to get for a while so I’m excited.

At the top of the show I talk about the bankruptcy filing by South Korean shipping giant, Hanjin. Sea freight is a canary in the coal mine economic indicator and the sinking of Hanjin speaks volumes. Also, with Christmas on the horizon, the Toy Shippers Association (no joke, there’s clearly a club for everyone), is expressing deep concern. It is already apparent that the stranding of so many toys will be putting extra pressure on reindeer-based transport systems on the night of 24 December. Also during the top block, Will, as predicted/promised, gets into the appearance of Nigel Farage at a Trump rally in Mississippi. Fascism is real and it’s gone mainstream. The “Lauering” of the bar by the press has allowed it to go unchallenged for years and now we are all reaping the crop of hate so carefully nurtured by the AltRight.

In his block Will has some fun talking about the history of tech and projects that failed because they were too far ahead of their time. The Scottish efforts to build a canal across Panama, the Macon and Akron airships and the Apple Newton were all failures. Still, there is a tiny bit of Newton in every iPhone. Eventually, good ideas tend to take root. The photo below is of the USS Macon during a visit to new York City in 1933.

enosmacon

US Navy Photo colorized by Jared Enos.

 

In my segment I answer the question, what is blockchain? Bitcoin, the first iteration of blockchain, is an interesting experiment but it has substantial limitations. Blockchain itself, however, will have a big future and be used in many applications. It will not replace currency, for reasons I will get into in more detail next week, but it is an important technology which is on the rise. I do spend some time on the technical limitations of blockchain including the Byzantine Generals problem. There are many serious descriptions of this hurdle as it has been an unresolved challenge, both for programmers and applied mathematicians, for nearly forty years but there was one genuinely short but funny article and I promised to link to it here.

Both Will and I thank you for sticking with us through the past few weeks. – Carrots! Arliss


Download Here!

Jesse LaGreca, China & Italian Banks

25 July 2016Jesse LaGreca (@JesseLaGreca), political activist and commentor, manages to be both incisive and hilarious with his jackhammer-pounding, nailgun-fast insight into the underlying structure of the current election cycle. In the first half of the interview Jesse both breaks down the structural problems with the GOP and brings true thoughtful analysis to the pick of Tim Kaine. In Extra Mad he gets into more detail and provides some of the sharpest wit I have heard on these topics to date.

At the top of the show I round-up the latest developments in court rulings on voting rights summarizing the Wisconsin, Texas and Virginia decisions. I also take a moment out to remind everyone that, (to paraphrase James Carville), “It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!” Will , then, takes a few minutes to talk about just how dangerous the GOP has become and concludes by quoting Professor Halford E. Luccock, of the Yale Divinity School, who said during World War II,

When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called ‘fascism;’ it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism.’

If you did not hear Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, the word “Americanism” features prominently. No joke.

In Will’s block he brings us all up to date on the ruling handed down addressing the conflict between the Phillippines and China over the Spratly Islands and, more importantly, the surrounding sea lanes. What is especially interesting about the ruling really comes down to how international law will be enforced in the foreseeable future.

In my block I get into the Italian banking crisis and talk about the difference between a bail-out and a bail-in. Just when you were thinking that Italian banks can’t possibly be a big deal for you personally, I explain why the new bail-in regime Italy is fighting will likely cost you money when you go to buy a car or a house.

We had fun this week and I hope you do too. – Carrots! Arliss

Download Here, or check us out on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play!

Award-Winning Author Matt Rees

4 April 2016 – Most of us have a short list of “desert island” authors and I have to admit that award-winning author Matt Rees has been on my list since I stumbled across his novel, The Collaborator of Bethlehem, early in 2007. Reading Matt’s work over the years has changed my perspective and every time I re-read one of his books I find that once again I am seeing part of the world in a new way. In the interview today we spend most of our time on Matt’s newest book, The Ambassador, which he wrote with co-author Yehuda Avner. You will likely recognize Mr. Avner’s name as he was the well-known Israeli diplomat and advisor to Prime Ministers who passed away just this past year. In the interview Matt talks to us about both the process and the fabric of his thoughts on writing. Matt was born in Wales, grew up in London, went to university in the States and then worked as a journalist, briefly covering Wall Street but then for nearly fifteen years in Jerusalem much of that as the Time Magazine Jerusalem Bureau Chief. Matt, his wife, the writer and author Devorah Blachor, and their children now live in Luxembourg. The Blachor-Rees family are pro-rabbit. Matt joined us over Skype but under a blanket (to cut down on the echo) for a truly lovely and fascinating interview.

Will brings the horror this week talking about the only recently recognized scorched-earth massacre which took place on 30 January in the village of Dalori, Nigeria. This is Boko Haram/Islamic State at its worst and the West completely overlooked it for more than a month.

I begin the show with a few comments on the book I read this week, Dan Ephron’s, Killing a King:  The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel. Later in the show, and following weeks of other topics, I finally return home to talk about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and the Bloomberg article, Ignored for Years, a Radical Economic Theory is Gaining Converts.

For your entertainment, Will sent me this link  and I thought I would share it with you because it’s just that good. Enjoy! – Carrots! Arliss


Download Here

Jim Crow Never Died

11 January 2016 – Ever since the Black Lives Matter hashtag rose to prominence I have found myself on a steep learning curve. Our guest for this show is Dr. Lawrence Brown an Assistant Professor at Baltimore’s  Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy. Dr. Brown is a rising national voice spreading the word that Jim Crow never died and the kind of hyper-segregation seen in Black communities, like that in Baltimore, has shocking and far reaching public health and societal consequences far more pervasive than are initially apparent. Dr. Brown clearly conveys the implications of policies, both historical and current, which have been imposed on Black communities.

In doing my pre-show research I read many of Dr. Brown’s articles but the one that really knocked me back is one I recommend that you read as well. Down to the Wire: Displacement and Disinvestment in Baltimore City encapsulates many of Dr. Brown’s points and should be required reading for everyone seeking greater understanding of the underlying causes behind the current racial crisis. Really. Read it. This is what you will be talking about for a long time after you make the investment.

We open the show with Will talking about polls in the Democratic race and I try to put the precipitous drop in the Chinese stock market (and ours) into perspective. Then Will goes on to talk about policing as it relates to terrorism and I get deeper into the way money flows through the US economy.

It’s good to be back! Carrots! – Arliss

On another note, three polls were published AFTER we recorded this, putting Bernie neck-and-neck with Hillary in Iowa. So my analysis in the first five needs amendment. All polls in Iowa now put Clinton and Sanders within the margin of error of each other, so it’s anyone’s guess. It just goes to show you how fast things can change. I’m excited to see what happens next, and I’m looking forward to the general election. – Will

Download Here