Copyright laws in this country are absurd and amount to little more than givaways to the entertainment industry.
Additionally they hamper creativity and the development of new ideas and markets.
In the attached article Virginia Postrel explains that, “A copyright isn’t supposed to be a reward. It’s supposed to be an incentive.”
Copyright should encourage creativity, not shut it down. Right now we are shutting it down for the sake of a few very powerful interests. Mickey Mouse, I’m looking at you.
A young Capitol Hill staff member named Derek S. Khanna published a Republican Study Committee policy brief titled “Three Myths About Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It.” The paper attacked the current copyright system, particularly the continual and retroactive extension of copyright terms at the behest of entertainment-industry lobbyists.
The target wasn’t new — today’s expansive copyright law has long been a pet peeve of many technorati and left-leaning critics of corporate power — but Khanna’s critique was striking. He made his case in the traditional Republican language of free markets, limited government and constitutional intent.
“The Federal government has gotten way too big,” the report declared, “and our copyright law is a symptom of the expansion in the size and scope of the federal government.” The current system, it went on, “bears almost no resemblance to the constitutional provision that enabled it and the conception of this right by our Founding Fathers.”
The post Fix copyright in the USA. It was never meant to be a way to entrench the already powerful. appeared first on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org.
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The Democrats, the Republicans and especially Barack Obama promised that something would be done about the too big to fail banks so that they would never again be a threat to destroy our financial system. Well, those promises have not been kept and the too big to fail banks are now much bigger and much more powerful than ever. The assets of the five biggest U.S. banks were equivalent to about 43 percent of U.S. GDP before the financial crisis. Today, the assets of the five biggest U.S. banks are equivalent to about 56 percent of U.S. GDP. So if those banks were “too big to fail” before, then what are they now? They continue to gobble up smaller banks at a brisk pace, and they continue to pile up debt and risky investments as if a day of reckoning will never come. But of course a day of reckoning is coming, and when it arrives they will be expecting more bailouts just like they got the last time.
The size of these monolithic financial institutions is truly difficult to comprehend. They completely dominate our financial system and everywhere you look they are constantly absorbing more wealth and more power. The following comes from a recent Bloomberg article….
Five banks — JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. — held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy, according to central bankers at the Federal Reserve.
Five years earlier, before the financial crisis, the largest banks’ assets amounted to 43 percent of U.S. output. The Big Five today are about twice as large as they were a decade ago relative to the economy
Despite all of the talk from the politicians, they just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
So why isn’t anything ever done?
Well, one reason is because these gigantic financial entities funnel huge quantities of cash into political campaigns.
For example, Barack Obama gives nice speeches about the dangers of the too big to fail banks, but he is also more than happy to take their campaign contributions. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup were all ranked among his top 10 donors during the 2008 campaign.
So do you really expect that Barack Obama is going to bite the hands that feed him?
Of course he is not going to do that.
The truth is that the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve have done everything they can to make life very comfortable for the big Wall Street banks.
During the last financial crisis, the too big to fail banks were absolutely showered with bailouts.
Meanwhile, hundreds of small and mid-size banks were allowed to die.
When representatives from those small and mid-size banks contacted the federal government for help, often they were told to try to find a larger bank that would be willing to buy them.
Sadly, the last financial crisis simply accelerated the consolidation of the banking industry in the United States that has been going on for several decades.
Today, there are less than half as many banks in the United States as there were back in 1984.
So where did all of those banks go?
They were either purchased by bigger banks or they were allowed to go out of existence.
This banking consolidation trend has allowed the big Wall Street banks to absolutely explode in size.
Back in 1970, the 5 biggest U.S. banks held 17 percent of all U.S. banking industry assets.
Today, the 5 biggest U.S. banks hold 52 percent of all U.S. banking industry assets.
So where will this end?
That is a good question.
The funny thing is that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other Fed officials keep giving speeches where they warn of the dangers of having banks that are “too big to fail”. For example, during a recent presentation to students at George Washington University, Bernanke made the following statement about the U.S. banking system….
“But clearly, it is something fundamentally wrong with a system in which some companies are ‘too big to fail.’”
So does that mean that Bernanke is against the too big to fail banks?
Of course not.
The truth is that he showered those banks with trillions of dollars in bailout money during the last financial crisis.
Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Bernanke has shown that he is willing to move heaven and earth to protect those big banks.
So what did those banks do with all that money?
They certainly didn’t lend it to us. Lending to individuals and small businesses by those big banks actually went down immediately after those bailouts.
Instead, one thing that those banks did was they started putting massive amounts of money into commodities.
One of those commodities was food.
Over the past few years, big Wall Street banks have made huge amounts of money speculating on the price of food. This has caused food prices all over the globe to soar and it has caused tremendous hardship for hundreds of millions of families around the planet. The following is from a recent article in The Independent….
Speculation by large investment banks is driving up food prices for the world’s poorest people, tipping millions into hunger and poverty. Investment in food commodities by banks and hedge funds has risen from $65bn to $126bn (£41bn to £79bn) in the past five years, helping to push prices to 30-year highs and causing sharp price fluctuations that have little to do with the actual supply of food, says the United Nations’ leading expert on food.
Hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Capital now dominate the food commodities markets, dwarfing the amount traded by actual food producers and buyers.
Goldman Sachs alone has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from food speculation.
Can you imagine what kind of mindset it takes to do this?
Can you imagine taking food out of the mouths of hungry families on the other side of the world so that you and your fellow employees can pad your bonus checks?
It really is disgusting.
But that is the way the game is played.
It is set up so that the big guy will win and the little guy will lose.
The other day I wrote about how this is particularly true when it comes to our system of taxation.
Well, since that article I have discovered some new numbers that were just released by Citizens for Tax Justice. Some of the things that they have uncovered are absolutely amazing….
Between 2008 and 2011, Verizon made a total profit of $19.8 billion and yet paid an effective tax rate of -3.8%.
Between 2008 and 2011, General Electric made a total profit of $19.6 billion and yet paid an effective tax rate of -18.9%.
Between 2008 and 2011, Boeing made a total profit of $14.8 billion and yet paid an effective tax rate of -5.5%.
Between 2008 and 2011, Pacific Gas & Electric made a total profit of $6 billion and yet paid an effective tax rate of -8.4%.
So why should middle class families continue to be suffocated by outrageous tax rates when hugely profitable corporations such as General Electric are able to get away with paying nothing?
Our current tax system is an utter abomination and should be completely thrown out.
But as is the case with so many other things, our current system is going to persist because the “big guys” really enjoy the status quo and they are the ones that fund political campaigns.
It would be bad enough if the “big guys” were beating us on a level playing field.
But the truth is that the game has been dramatically tilted in their favor and they know that the politicians are going to take care of them whenever they need it.
So what is going to happen the next time the too big to fail banks get into trouble?
They will almost certainly get bailed out again.
Unfortunately, the big Wall Street banks continue to treat the financial system as if it was a gigantic casino. The derivatives bubble just continues to grow larger and larger, and it could burst and absolutely devastate the entire global financial system at any time.
According to the New York Times, the too big to fail banks have complete domination over derivatives trading. Every month a secret meeting that includes representatives from JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup is held in New York to coordinate their control over the derivatives marketplace. The following is how the New York Times describes those meetings….
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
When the derivatives market fully implodes, there will not be enough money in the world to bail everyone out. According to the Comptroller of the Currency, the too big to fail banks have exposure to derivatives that is absolutely outrageous. Just check out the following numbers….
JPMorgan Chase – $70.1 Trillion
Citibank – $52.1 Trillion
Bank of America – $50.1 Trillion
Goldman Sachs – $44.2 Trillion
So what happens when that house of cards comes crashing down?
Well, those big banks will come crying to the federal government again.
They will want more bailouts.
They will claim that if we don’t give them the money that they need that the entire financial system will collapse.
And yes, if several of the too big to fail banks were to collapse all at once the consequences would be almost unimaginable.
But of course all of this could have been avoided if we would have made much wiser decisions upstream.
Our financial system is more vulnerable than it ever has been before, and the too big to fail banks just continue to grow.
The lessons from the financial crisis of 2008 have gone unheeded, and we are steamrolling toward an even greater crash.
What a mess.
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Why Is The Heartland Of America Being Ripped To Shreds By Gigantic Tornadoes That Are Becoming More Frequent And More Powerful?
What in the world is going on in the heartland of America? Spring has barely even begun and we are seeing communities all over America being ripped to shreds by gigantic tornadoes. A lot of meteorologists claimed that the nightmarish tornado season of 2011 was an “anomaly”, but 2012 is shaping up to be just as bad or even worse. These tornado outbreaks just seem to keep getting more frequent and more powerful. For example, several “supercell” tornadoes ripped across the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area on Tuesday. People all over America were absolutely horrified as they watched footage of these tornadoes toss around tractor trailers as if they were toy trucks. Personally, I have never seen a tractor trailer tossed 100 feet into the sky before. This is not normal. CBS 11 meteorologist Larry Mowry told his viewers that one of these torandoes was “as serious of a tornado we’ve seen in years“. So why is this happening? Why is the heartland of America being ripped to shreds by gigantic tornadoes that are becoming more frequent and more powerful?
Up to this point in 2012, at least 57 people have been killed by tornadoes across the country. Thousands more have been injured and countless homes have been reduced to splinters. In fact, there have been a couple of small towns that have been essentially wiped off the map by giant tornadoes.
What we are witnessing is not normal. Prior to the horrific tornadoes that we saw on Tuesday, there had been 326 tornadoes in the United States so far in 2012. That is about twice as many as usual for this time of the year.
Overall, the United States only sees about 1,200 tornadoes for the entire year usually. The busiest time of the year for tornadoes is still a way off, and we are on pace for a truly historic year.
But it is not just the number of tornadoes that is the problem. Many of these tornadoes are immensely powerful. The following is how the local CBS affiliate described the damage done by the recent tornadoes in Texas….
Multiple tornadoes threw tractor-trailers in the air, ripped the roof off an elementary school, leveled houses and shut down airline traffic out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport as one of the worst storms in years hit North Texas Tuesday.
Baseball-sized hail punched holes through car roofs, and a Red Cross spokeswoman warned the breadth of the destruction may not be cleared until well into Wednesday. The mayors of Arlington and Lancaster declared a state of disaster following the storm strike.
There were even reports of massive “debris balls” in Dallas, Ellis, Johnson and Tarrant counties. These tornadoes picked up huge amounts of debris into the air that were just carried along by the storms. That must have been an absolutely horrifying sight to behold.
A lot of jaw-dropping footage from these tornadoes has already been posted on the Internet. For example, the following video shows tractor trailers being tossed about like rag dolls….
Have you ever seen anything like that before in your life?
I know that I haven’t.
Look, one bad year can be dismissed as a coincidence.
But two historically bad years in a row?
Many would call that a trend.
Last year, America experienced one of the worst tornado seasons of all time. Many Americans will never, ever forget the devastation caused by the tornadoes of 2011.
For example, National Geographic reported that a gigantic F5 tornado that ripped through the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area had winds of up to 260 miles an hour. If you drive through Tuscaloosa today you can see that they are still trying to recover.
And Joplin, Missouri may never be the same again after what happened to that city last year. The gigantic tornado that ripped through Joplin was called by some the deadliest single tornado in more than 60 years.
That mammoth tornado ripped a path of destruction through Joplin that was more than a mile wide and more than 6 miles long. You can see some amazing before and after photographs of Joplin right here.
But people don’t think about what happened to Joplin much anymore because there have been so many other horrific disasters since then.
Overall, 2011 was the worst year for natural disasters in U.S. history.
Many were hoping that there would be a return to normalcy in 2012.
Unfortunately, that simply is not happening.
In 2012, we have already seen one of the worst tornado outbreaks ever recorded in the month of March in all of American history. A couple of small towns in Indiana were virtually completely wiped out by that outbreak.
Sadly, what we have already seen in Indiana and Texas may just be the warm up act.
The truth is that usually May is the worst month for tornadoes in the United States.
So how bad are things going to get this year?
How many other communities across the nation are going to be absolutely ripped to shreds before tornado season is over this year?
In 2009, there were 1146 tornadoes in the United States.
In 2010, there were 1282 tornadoes in the United States.
In 2011, there were 1691 tornadoes in the United States.
In 2012, we are on pace to far exceed the total we saw in 2011.
So would could be causing all of this?
Do you think that you have a theory that explains these tornadoes?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
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The World’s 10 Most Economically Powerful Cities
If you’ve ever visited friends in New York City, you’ve probably wondered why so many people are willing to put up with such lousy living conditions for so much money. But New York is not alone. I spent last Friday in the company of a group of newly arrived Eastern European diplomats who were appalled by the living conditions they’ve had to put up with in London compared with the creature comforts available to them in global hot spots such as Belgrade, Serbia, or Bucharest, Romania.
This morning, I went to see an apartment in a building where a 19-year-old Lady Diana, the future Princess of Wales, lived when she was a kindergarten teacher before meeting Prince Charles. You can move in tomorrow for a mere $2,050 per week. No wonder London has become home to the "global 1%," consisting of an endless supply of Russian oligarchs and Saudi princes.
Despite this high cost, more people than not choose to congregate in the cramped confines of large cities. Last year marked the first time in human history that more people lived in cities than in the countryside.
Whether it’s economists like Paul Romer or public intellectuals like Richard Florida, City Gurus agree that the concentration of land, labor and capital play a key role in shaping economic growth. Cities and their surrounding metropolitan regions are the economic engines of the global economy. They bring together talented, ambitious people and help stimulate the innovation and enterprise that spur long-term economic growth and prosperity. Globally, cities with over one million people account for more than half of the world’s economic output and nine of every 10 innovations.
As Richard Florida has pointed out, even in a large, spread out country like the United States, cities account for nearly 90% of total economic output, and generate 85% of U.S. jobs. That’s why you can’t throw a rock in Silicon Valley without hitting a delegation of foreign visitors trying to discover the secrets that produced an endless stream of high- tech successes including Google, Apple, eBay, Yahoo and HP.
To measure the impact of the world’s leading cities, Florida developed The Global Economic Power Index, which reflects three key three dimensions of economic power –economic, financial and innovative. Economic power is measured as economic output or gross regional product. Financial power is based on the Global Financial Centers Index, which ranks the banking and financial power of cities across the world. Innovation is based on patenting activity.
With that, here are, according to The Global Economic Power Index, the world’s 10 most economically powerful cities, based on data in 2005, the latest available.
#1 – Tokyo
Economic Output: $1.2 trillion
Global Economic Power Score: .992
Financial Center Score: 697
Innovation Rank: No. 1
#2 – New York
Economic Output: $1.1 trillion
Global Economic Power Score: .984
Financial Center Score: 770
Innovation Rank: No. 4
#3 – London
Economic Output: $452 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .935
Financial Center Score: 772
Innovation Rank: No. 8
#4 – Chicago
Economic Output: $460 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .915
Financial Center Score: 678
Innovation Rank: No. 7
#5 – Paris
Economic Output: $460 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .882
Financial Center Score: 645
Innovation Rank: No. 5
#6 – Boston
Economic Output: $290 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .854
Financial Center Score: 655
Innovation Rank: No. 6
#7 – Hong Kong
Economic Output: $211 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .846
Financial Center Score: 760
Innovation Rank: No. 9
#8 – Osaka
Economic Output: $341 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .821
Financial Center Score: 601
Innovation Rank: No. 3
#9 [Tie] – Washington, D.C.
Economic Output: $218 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .813
Financial Center Score: 621
Innovation Rank: No. 2
#9 [Tie] – Seoul
Economic Output: $299 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .813
Financial Center Score: 649
Innovation Rank: No. 10
#10 – Sydney
Economic Output: $172 billion
Global Economic Power Score: .756
Financial Center Score: 660
Innovation Rank: No. 12
Many of the names in the Top Ten are predictable enough. Perhaps you’re surprised that Tokyo takes the top spot, besting New York and London. But with a population of 35 million — almost the size of California — and nearly $1.2 trillion in economic output, Tokyo is the world’s largest urban economy. Only New York comes close, with $1.1 trillion in economic output. Individually, both Tokyo and New York would rank among the world’s top 15 economies. Both are slightly smaller than Canada or Spain, but are larger than India, Mexico and South Korea.
That said, some of the results of the survey left me scratching my head.
1) For all of the talk of U.S. decline, four of the top 10 cities are in the United States. As an American, you may find that reassuring. But you’d be shocked at how much that angers grumpy foreigners who revel in the idea of the United States’ inevitable decline.
In fact, I would argue that the United States is underrepresented in this list.
For one thing, California — the world’s eighth-largest economy — seems to have fallen into the ocean. San Francisco, including Silicon Valley, is nowhere to be found. Los Angeles — the second-largest city in the United States and home to Hollywood — is also curiously absent. Neither city even makes it into the top 25, while Boston, Chicago and Washington D.C., are in the top 10.
Meanwhile, Canada, whose economy is smaller than California’s, has three cities in the top 20 — Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Sure, Canada is nice. But its overwhelming presence in the top 20 is more wishful thinking than a measure of true impact.
2) There isn’t a single German city on the list, not even Frankfurt, the financial and industrial heart of the world’s third-largest economy. You’d figure that 80 million Germans exporting as much as 1.3 billion Chinese, all the while still bailing out their ne’er do well Southern European neighbors, would merit some sign of recognition.
3) Speaking of China — where is it on the list? Hong Kong is technically Chinese, but Shanghai — which aspires to be the premier global financial center by 2020 — is also conspicuous by its absence. Ditto for China’s capital, Beijing.
4) There are two Japanese cities in the top 10. And if you’re like me, you would not have pegged Osaka at #8 in the world. At the same time, Australia boasts two cities — Sydney and Melbourne — in the top 20.
With all of its faults, Florida’s list does remind you that as far as global economic impact is concerned, you’re better off thinking about cities than countries. Yet, no matter how you slice and dice it, the United States still has an enormous lead over the rest of the world. Let’s just hope we can keep it.
Nicholas A. Vardy
Editor, The Global Guru
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:28 pm
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