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Who: Kimball Corson. Text and Photos not disclaimed or that are obviously not mine are copyright (c) Kimball Corson 2004-2013
Port: Lake Pleasant, AZ
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God (Allah, Yehweh, el al.) Again
Kimball Corson
11/29/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

What God? Who's God? Which God? There are over 2200 of them, you should understand. You mean the one with all those photographs of him, confirming his existence, who goes from town to town in the Bible belt, so all can see and hear him? That one? Give me a break. I place my stock in what can be shown to be. This woman assumes way too much. Someone probably got to her when she was young or perhaps in prison, another great source of belief.

It is more than slightly amazing that some being, whom no one in their right, non-delusional mind has never seen, heard, touched, photographed or otherwise physically confirmed, can not only be said to exist, but more, be the ultimate claimed moral arbiter in all matters whom the rest of us not so afflicted are supposed to believe in and obey. It is dazzling.

Indeed, man created God to give his own puny voice more moral authority among other men foolish enough to believe or at least worry. The transparency of it all is patently clear. But those afflicted and engaged with such delusion simply never see or understand it. It proceeds psychologically at a sub rosa level. Reality is firmly blocked. A study several decades ago conducted at Harvard found that those who experienced religious ecstatic states suffered a conspicuous and glaring enzyme deficiency. When medically corrected, those experiences, while quite vivid and real to those experiencing them, abruptly disappeared.

Such is our capacity to fantasize with the conscious mind.

A Ha Ha
Kimball Corson
11/28/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Funny enough. From a friend

Weather Follow-up
Kimball Corson
11/28/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Winds have abated a bit. Steady at 25 mph and gusts to 35. But the forecasts conflict. NOAA says --


Windguru out of New Zealand says --

12h 15h 18h 21h 06h 09h 12h 15h 18h
Wind speed (knots)
22...33;..36...41 ...32...27...26....24....21
Wind gusts (knots)
31...40...46...49....38...32...31....27.... 24

ZYGrib out of Scandinavia agrees with Windguru.

I think NOAA is more likely to be correct this time for technical reasons I won't discuss here (low center moving quickly SE; will avoid back side), but neither is consistently better.

Here is the 50 foot boat that blew on the rocks. Tide is dropping. The threat is surf smashing it into the rocks. Surf is much lighter now. Still, depending on forecast, could lose the boat. Odds not, I think. We will all try to refloat it at high tide tomorrow. (Put line around mast above first spreaders and have shore people tip boat toward shore as a flotilla of dinghies with toe lines pull on starboard side to get it offshore.

A Fuss at Hand



Winds are heavier than forecast. Gusts are well above 60 knots. One guy's 50 foot boat is already on the rocks and being hit hard. He was at anchor, to get out of the way of the native long boat race yesterday. I went out of my way to his boat after the race and told him he needed to get back on his mooring quickly because the forecast for the next day was for 50 knot gusts, too much for his anchor. He didn't. I guess he didn't believe me or thought his anchor hold was good enough.

We are all hoping our mooring lines and chains will hold. I have lost two moorings in 40 knot gusts and made it, with my boat to safety, all in tact. Both times were at night, in the dark and difficult. This is much more problematic because gusts are well above 60 knots. I went to help someone who's dinghy was blown ashore stranding him there and had to abandon the effort for fear my 240 pound 10 foot plus dinghy would flip. I had a real hard time getting back to my boat which was and is swinging wildly about. I was almost unable to reattach or secure my dinghy to my boat. Winds are forecast to drop into the 30's by sundown. If we can make it until then without further mishap.

UPDATE: with a handheld very accurate aeronometer, I just measured a gust on my deck of 73 mph, about 10 feet off the water, 1 mph below the start of a category 1 hurricane level.

What Is the Matter with Indian Men
Kimball Corson
11/26/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

India has a major rape problem. Rape at large is rampant. Marital rape, as a recent article shows, is also a serious problem. One third of all married men admit to marital rape. That doesn't count those who don't. Some social critics say the problem has reach "tragic proportions."

Then there is nationally illegal, but community sanctioned gang rape used as a form of village administered punishment. The government has not been able, nor has it tried very hard, to stop this practice.

Do Indian men have a sexual screw loose? Why is the problem so serious and endemic to India? The wife rape problem would suggest they are not the best of lovers, but the growth of the Indian population certainly implies they are effective. India's population is expected to exceed China's by 2025.

Mainstream Economics Has Been Bought Off
Kimball Corson
11/26/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Mainstream economics is in, if not denial, at least a state of not being willing to address income inequality and its implications. The topic is treated like modern monetary theory. Basically ignored except by a few untouchables. Mainstream economics is too controlled and influenced by its private research sponsors who set some topics off limits. Look at the quantity and quality of research we are getting on the impact on the economy of reduced top end taxes, government spending and federal deficits.

Larry Lessig, law professor at Harvard University, has written and lectured on this financial corruption of our top universities at length (the Berlin Lectures first presented at the heartland of the problem, the Univ. of Chicago, my alma mater), focusing particularly on B schools and Econ departments. Stanley Fish has independently helped us define the problem --

Academic freedom is the freedom of universities and their faculties to engage in their core tasks --the search for truth and the advancement of knowledge -- free of interference from outside forces that wish to make the classroom or the research laboratory the vehicles of some preferred interest or ideology.

We saw this very precisely with Harvard B School Assistant Dean Rivkin's stream of obfuscatory lies attempting to rationalize or explain away what is in fact the simple theft of Labor's productivity gains by corporate America for the last four and a half decades.

We have basically written ourselves off at the demand of monied interests, that is, the oligarchy -- and we do it all to get their cash.

Corporate America Is in Trouble
Kimball Corson
11/26/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

An exceptionally strong case can be made, and I have made it, that acting with conscious parallelism, the corporate owners of capital in America have misappropriated or, stolen if you will, virtually all of the value of labor's productivity gains for almost the last four and a half decades. See graphs below. Although labor productivity grew by about 74 percent between 1973 and 2013, compensation for workers grew at a much slower rate of only 9 percent during the same time. Corporate American swiped the other 65 percent. It has been able to do this because it controls the business revenue stream. (recall the old adage of 'stay close to the money.') It was in the early 1970's that increases in income inequality first began to be noticed for this and other reasons.

But now there is this to consider. Even with the concurrent absconsion by corporate America of labor's productivity gains (instead of paying them to labor) corporate America's profits are nevertheless still beginning to fall anyway. See additional chart. That is, even with the major prop of its theft from labor, corporate America's profits are fading fast. We are left to guess how much earlier such profits would have collapsed had labor's productivity gains not been taken. We are also left to guess how deeply in the red corporate profits would be by now without including labor's productivity gains. Finally, we also have to face the fact of how pathetic we all are for not realizing all of this earlier notwithstanding the obfuscation and concealment.

The unhappy reality presents itself that corporate America is in truth in much worse shape in fact than we have supposed. Now, even labor's substantial productivity gains are not enough to prop profits up. Indications are corporate American might well be a sinking ship in truly worse shape than we imagine. That has dire implications for the US financial and real economies I need not spell out here.

Capital vs Labor's Share of National Income
Kimball Corson
11/26/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

before the recent collapse

Current Corporate Profits
Kimball Corson
11/26/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

sinking fast.

Russia Is Likely Building a Cobalt Bomb
Kimball Corson
11/24/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

That is a hydrogen bomb surrounded by large amounts of cobalt -- sometimes called a doomsday device -- because it is designed to produce enhanced amounts of radioactive fallout to contaminate a large area with radioactivity. When triggered, the neutrons from the nuclear fission reaction will be absorbed by the cobalt and turn it into the radioactive isotope Cobalt-60 which markedly enhances its nuclear fallout and radiological threat.

A cobalt bomb is a radiological weapon.The half-life of the radioactive cobalt produced is about five years, which is long enough to give the fallout plenty of time to disperse and settle before it seriously kills, but short enough to produce intense radiation for a lot longer than you could last in a fallout shelter. There's almost no upper limit to how much cobalt and explosive power you can put in nukes that are buried for deterrence or transported by sea. Climatological simulations have shown how hydrogen bombs can potentially lift fallout high enough to enshroud the globe, creating a real risk of extinction to humanity. An arsenal of cobalt bomb could easily make the earth uninhabitable.

Recently Russian state media "accidentally" leaked plans for a large underwater drone designed to piggyback on a large submarine which many think is to deliver a cobalt bomb. The leak was hardly accidental because the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost if it is kept it a secret. Russia is flexing its muscles and has a new found aggressive adventurism in Putin lately.

Obama should keep his election promise and take U.S. nuclear missiles off hair-trigger alert, then cancel the planned trillion dollar nuclear weapons upgrade, and ratchet up international pressure on Russia to follow suit? Just a handful of nuclear weapons is enough to provide powerful deterrence, and all but two nuclear powers have decided that a few hundred nuclear weapons suffice. Since the U.S. and Russia currently have about 7000 each, thousands of which are on hair-trigger alert, the main effect of reducing their arsenals would not be to weaken deterrence but to reduce the risk of accidental war and incentivize nuclear non-proliferation. The trillion dollars saved can be used in many more useful ways.

But make no mistake about it. A new threat and a most deadly one is among us and we need to act proactively regarding Putin's new adventurism. Future AI, if it ever comes to rival us for survival, might view an arsenal of cobalt bombs as the ideal weapon -- it would get us, but not them.

Has Labor Productivity Gone Flat or Collapsed?
Kimball Corson
11/23/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Has Labor Productivity Gone Flat or Collapsed?

In a word, "no." Then why haven't wages risen in the business sector. Answer: because capital has stolen most all of labor's gains. How? By controlling business revenue streams and simply taking the money.

Thinking on productivity is muddled. We are not talking about output here, but productivity. Productivity of anything has to be measured against the productivity of something else. Compensational productivity is marginal productivity which of labor is measured against capital and visa versa. The same is true for all factor inputs. Each has it own (marginal) productivity. As the absolute amount of labor is increased relative to capital, the (marginal) productivity of labor falls and that of capital increases, other things equal and visa versa.

Some economists are concerned that because the total labor input has fallen, with a larger percentage of the working age population unemployed, then the marginal productivity of labor, that is, the wages of labor in their minds should have risen, especially with the better workers left. Of course other things have changed, too. The quantity and quality of capital has increased and in fact for the last fifteen years or so especially labor productivity has sharply increased but the gains for that increase have been largely misappropriated by capital.Capital's share of national income has increased at the expense of labor's share and compensation is no longer according to the value of labor's marginal product. Labor productivity has increased. Wages have not and that befuddles people and economists because they do not understand that having control over revenues, capital can and has misappropriated labor's increased (marginal) productivity gains for itself. People don't get it. All of this is consistent with more and better capital, fewer and more capable workers, stagnant wages and greater labor productivity.

Just as CEO's and their officers and top management take more than they are worth and leave less for those below them, so to has capital taken more than its share, leaving wages largely flat --- but people, including neoclassical economists simply cannot wrap their heads around that idea and think since wages are flat that productivity must have collapsed, too. No so.

Or let's look at it in reverse. It has been said, "Though productivity (defined as the output of goods and services per hour worked) grew by about 74 percent between 1973 and 2013, compensation for workers grew at a much slower rate of only 9 percent during the same time period, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute."

So who got the other 65%? Did it evaporate? Does anyone seriously believe it wasn't capital, that is, the corporate owners of capital? We are not talking about a lost one or two percent here. This is major theft and a major reason for income inequality.

It is obvious. Should we go quietly like lambs to the slaughter? This is a theft of the type of the commons way back when. Many don't even like us talking about it. Top university academics try to stay mum about it or blow an incredible stream of BS to obfuscate the matter as Harvard Assistant Dean Rivkin did in a recent article:

"There are a number of causes, one is the underlying shift in technology and globalization. Another is systematic underinvestment in the commons, which is a set of shared resources that every business needs in order to be productive: an educated populace, pools of skilled labor, a vibrant network of suppliers, strong infrastructure, basic R&D and so on. A third is shifts in institutions and politics and bargaining power, which is embodied in the decline in collective bargaining and the weakening of labor unions. There's no question that that is part of the story. How large a part? I don't think anyone has a well-informed perspective."

Minor matter. Hey, why study it? There are people who don't want you studying it is why. People who control research grants, as Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig has explained

From its bribing of congress to this major theft, American capitalism is becoming corrupt at its core.

Skies Falling
Kimball Corson
11/23/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

For all the bad economic news, dire warnings and doom and gloom predictions we have read in the press over the last year or so (except for a few), the US economy and the world economy should both be lying in total rubble at our feet by now, but that is clearly not what has happened. Why not?

There are several reasons, I submit. First, we each do not have an adequate macroeconomic model of the US or world economy in mind to inform us us of the importance and weight of the news and information we report. To be sure we do have an implicit model in mind. It is just not well or adequately defined and we often do not know how to use it. It is too influenced by the financial media, for sure. They always tell us, in one way or another, what to think and it is often wrong or misleading. Secondly, the parameters of such a model and the reliability of the data and information we report are not well known. Thirdly, doom and gloom predictions stated in a strong declarative mood influence us more than we realize.

Fourth, we are unduly or too influenced by matters of finance and what the Fed will do relative to what is going on in the real economy and real economic data like the current level of container freight or the Baltic Dry index. That is, the implicit model of the economy we have and use in the back of our heads is bias toward financial aspects of the economy, rather than the real parameters of the economy. Fifth, unlike debt servicing dilemmas and the like in the financial economy, there is considerable resilience, flexibility and adaptability in the real economy which makes it slower to respond and react and less inclined to crisis than we implicitly realize. Our judgment is off.and biased. The finance aspects of the economy is only the tip of the iceberg but more interesting to most.

These problems and biases make us inclined to get too much wrong and to misjudge too much. We need a better implicit macro model and one more geared toward the real economy. One friend, for example, whatever his proclivities are to wander off into finance, doesn't get far because his vocational area is the housing market and that ties him to the real economy and keeps him grounded.. The rest of us are not so tethered..

To do better, we need to consider how these biases impacts each of us.

On Our Dazzeling Ineptness
Kimball Corson
11/23/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The handwriting is clearly on the wall. It spells out a great deal. It explains that massive and growing income inequality in the US (45% to top 10%) --

--is undermining national consumption expenditure
--is slowly destroying the US economy
--is causing us live in a new "lower low"
--is destroying the US middle class
--is corrupting our representative form of government
--is being materially aided by the Fed
--is being materially aided by the federal government
--is undermining our right of petition to our government
--is causing us to adopt mistaken economic policies
--is blocking needed social and economic programs
--is destroying our infrastructure
--is undermining taxation and tax collecting efforts
--is undermining and compromising our two political parties, and
--is promoting even worse income inequality.

YET WE DO NOTHING. Even when we have a presidential candidate who understands these issues and is willing to seriously try to fix them in Washington, we turn away. That is beyond pathetic. It is pathological. We should be ashamed of ourselves for letting image and the status quo rule.

It can be said we deserve what we are getting. What does it take, America, blood in the streets or must the vice on your nuts be tightened further? I am sure the oligarchy will oblige.
So glad I am gone.

Economics Is Hard and Not Just Common or Business Sense
Kimball Corson
11/23/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

We know economics is hard because so many get so much so wrong so often. Bad economic analysis is more common than rain. The problem occurs at all levels of education and success. Economic literacy is seriously in the toilet although more and more people -- in journalism and elsewhere -- are attempting such analysis all the time. Even various schools of economic thought get matters quite wrong from time to time. Usually because they have ideological blinders on.

If economics were all just common sense and sound reasoning, good advanced degrees in economics would be easy to get from top schools but in truth they aren't at all. Kartik Athreya from the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank wrote "Economics Is Hard" noting --

Macroeconomics is not, by any reasonable measure, simple. The majority of the training of new Ph.D.s in their macroeconomic coursework is giving them a way to come to grips with the feedback effects that are likely present [and, I would add, with identifying, balancing and assessing the conflicting forces that are often present. Non economists do this exceptionally poorly.]

Writers who have not taken a year of Ph.D. coursework in a decent economics department (and passed their Ph.D. qualifying exams) cannot meaningfully advance the discussion on economic policy [or even keep much straight.] [I think this is very true and why journalists of every stripe and especially those with a political ax to grind and especially those writing for conservative magazines, generally do so poorly. Many lack any relevant credentials at all and confuse or muddle a great deal, some rather intentionally, but more often simply because they don't know better.]

In summary, what I'd like to convince the public [of is] that economics is far, far, more complicated than most [lay] commentators seem to recognize. . . Everything depends and learning what "it" depends on, exactly, takes enormous effort. Just below the surface of all this chatter... there is a vibrant, highly competitive, and transparent scientific enterprise... the public remains largely unaware of this work.

[I struggle hard to make what I write seem simple and approachable, but the substance and reality of it is not at all easy, and it is very possible by thinking off tract to fall into trouble fast. Also, the world of economics is not so cohesive and integrated as the author implies.]

[There is a considerable and useful heterodoxy of thought and differing camps do not always agree, but there is also much unity of well. It is not at all the free for all that the conservative press likes to suggest after it muddies the water with nonsense.]

A Crisis of Demand
Kimball Corson
11/23/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The commodity price collapse we have been witnessing worldwide is now crawling into our own heartland USA. It is a consequence of failed derived demand. Without sufficient demand for final consumer, investment and manufactured goods, the derived demand for commodities to made them is likewise collapsing. Much of the problem worldwide is due to growing income inequality which takes money out of the hands of those who would spend it and places that money in far fewer hands that don't, but who hoard it in cash, near cash or secondary financial markets instead. Much is also moved or held offshore. The demand for consumer, investment and manufactured goods falls and so does the derived demand for the commodities to make them. We are now coming full circle and the effect is likely to be like a sledge hammer and not just in the US. We are watching it as if in slow motion.

Developing countries based on emerging markets of raw materials and supplies -- that is, mainly commodities -- are and will be especially hard hit. They will import few consumer, investment and manufactured goods. Many will experience and some already are experiencing recession.The line at the IMF for help is long and anxious. Private debt is over extended in many of these countries. Banks are being propped up. China's problems begin to pale beside those of these nations, Russia, Japan and Brazil. Exports of manufactured goods are also dropping and pushing Japan and Germany into recession. Consumer goods alone cannot hold the world economy up for long. Commodity demand and demand for manufactured and investment goods is also needed but not in sight.

The question ever and always is how far will things go. While it still has myriad problems, China is by no means the world's only economic concern. Nations are piling up on economic watch lists at an alarming rate. Too much at the periphery can't fail and still have the center still hold together. We are beginning to sense that in America, but our view is clouding by our booming stock market, strong consumer spending and busy construction industry. If those falter, watch out.


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