Category Archives: Business

Everything on Demand, by John Stossel

The more capitalism produces, the more it’s maligned. From John Stossel at townhall.com:

Reporters complain about business. We overlook the constant improvements in our lives made possible by greedy businesses competing for your money. Think about how our access to entertainment has improved.

“When I was a kid,” says Sean Malone in a new video for the Foundation for Economic Education, “my TV broadcast options were PBS, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS. Depending on the weather, it was hit or miss whether or not they were even watchable.”

1977 brought the first video rental store. “We literally had to rent a VCR along with two or three movies we could get on VHS from Blockbuster,” Malone reminds us, pointing out how much changed. “Now just about anything I’ve ever wanted to watch is available at the click of a button.”

Here’s a short version I released this week of the FEE video. It wasn’t government or big movie studios that made the amazing array of new options available. They dragged their feet. Malone points out that “the astounding wealth of home entertainment options we have today are the result of entrepreneurial start-ups, like Blockbuster.”

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Never the Pentagon, by Mandy Smithberger

In Washington, nothing succeeds quite like failure, and the military-industrial complex is the prime example. From Mandy Smithberger at tomdispatch.com:

How The Military-Industrial Complex Gets Away With Murder in Contract After Contract

Call it a colossal victory for a Pentagon that hasn’t won a war in this century, but not for the rest of us. Congress only recently passed and the president approved one of the largest Pentagon budgets ever. It will surpass spending at the peaks of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. As last year ended, as if to highlight the strangeness of all this, the Washington Post broke a story about a “confidential trove of government documents” — interviews with key figures involved in the Afghan War by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction — revealing the degree to which senior Pentagon leaders and military commanders understood that the war was failing. Yet, year after year, they provided “rosy pronouncements they knew to be false,” while “hiding unmistakable evidence that the war had become unwinnable.”

However, as the latest Pentagon budget shows, no matter the revelations, there will be no reckoning when it comes to this country’s endless wars or its military establishment — not at a moment when President Donald Trump is sending yet more U.S. military personnel into the Middle East and has picked a new fight with Iran. No less troubling: how few in either party in Congress are willing to hold the president and the Pentagon accountable for runaway defense spending or the poor performance that has gone with it.

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GM Woke, by Eric Peters

An electric Hummer sounds almost oxymoronic. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

If Bruce can transition into Caitlyn then GM can do basically the same thing – with the difference being Bruce probably paid for his own surgery.

GM is going to want your “help” paying for its transition.

In a few days, you’ll see what you’ll be paying for. The shaved Adam’s apple; the . . . augmentation. And the removal.

Behold!

The electric Hummer.

It is GM’s virtue-signaling plea for forgiveness. The bad ol’ GM wants you to forget all about those “gas guzzling” Hummers it made back in the early 2000s. It will now make a time-guzzling electric version of the same thing. Which is just as wasteful, by the way – but in a way that’s acceptable today.

But far more obnoxious.

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After Blowing $43 Bn on Share-Buybacks in 6 Years, Boeing Scrambles to Borrow $10 Bn, on Top of a $9.5 Bn Credit Line in Oct, to Fund its 737 MAX Fiasco, by Wolf Richter

Boeing wouldn’t be in the fix it’s in if it had spent more money on plane design and less on share buybacks. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Having become a master of financial engineering instead of aircraft engineering.

The first thing to know about Boeing’s mad scramble to line up “$10 billion or more” in new funding via a loan from a consortium of banks, on top of the $9.5 billion credit-line it obtained in October last year – efforts to somehow get through its cash-flow nightmare caused by the 737 MAX fiasco – is that the company blew, wasted, and incinerated $43.4 billion to buy back its own shares since June 2013, having become a master of financial engineering instead of aircraft engineering.

If Boeing had focused on its business – such as designing a new plane instead of doctoring an ancient design to save money and time – and if it hadn’t blown $43 billion on share-buybacks but had invested this money in a new design, those two crashes wouldn’t have occurred, and it wouldn’t have to beg for cash now. The chart below shows the cumulative share-buybacks in billions of dollars since Q1 2009. In Q2 2019, it belatedly halted the share buybacks (share buyback data from YCharts):

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Go Home Greta, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Greta Thunberg is being played, big time. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

I have a lot of sympathy for young(er) people who are upset about what has happened, and still is happening, to the planet they were born on, during their lifetime and that of the generations before them. I have less sympathy for the “climate movement” even if those same young people thinnk it represents them, because it has grown too big and too diverse, and has come to rely (for no reason) too much on hype and exaggeration. Don’t feed your opponent or enemy.

The movement also has too little attention for what younger people themselves contribute to the descent into chaos. If you don’t start with yourself, how are you ever going to tell others what to do? How many phones and gadgets and cars do you have? Do your clothes also say Made in China? Personal question.

Naming one’s movement “Extinction Rebellion” strikes me as odd, because the movement appears to be, from what I can see, based almost exclusively on the deleterious effects of carbon emissions, though these have -at least so far- played just a small part in the actual extinction of -far too many- species, much less than the use of chemicals, the loss of forest, and land use in general, just to name some examples.

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Ike Was Right, by Eric Margolis

Ike’s famous “Military-Industrial Complex” was right as far as it went, but it’s become the military-industrial-intelligence-academia-media complex. From Eric Margolis at ericmargolis.com:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.
Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.”

General Dwight D Eisenhower
Farewell address 1961

Congress just passed a near trillion dollar military budget at a time when the United States faces no evident state threats at home or abroad. Ike was right.

Illustrating Ike’s prescient warning, Brown University’s respected Watson Institute just released a major study which found that the so-called ‘wars on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan have cost US taxpayers $6.4 trillion since they began in 2001.

The extensive study found that over 800,000 people have died as a result of these military operations, a third of them civilians. An additional 21 million civilians have been displaced by US military operations. According to the Pentagon, these US wars have so far cost each American taxpayer $7,623 – and that’s a very conservative estimate.

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China’s Growing Economic Miracle…(Collapse). Or… Everyone Pays the Piper! by Brett Redmayne-Titley

Nobody knows just how much of China’s economic miracle was bought with a credit card. We may soon find out. From Brett Redmayne-Titley at watchingromeburn.uk:

In emulating the American economic raison d’etre,China has attempted to develop its unique capitalist model while ignoring that it too will soon suffer the same fate for the same reason: Unsustainable debt.  When examining the recent realities of Chinese banking and finance over the past year it seems the steam that president Xi Jinping touts as powering the engine of his purported economic miracle of a master-planned economy is only a mirage, now almost completely evaporated before his eyes.

Like the many other similarly foolish western nations, China seeks only one path out of this fiscal death spiral, one that will likely spell doom and/or revolution in many countries soon: More debt.

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