Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

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The Internet: Gutenberg Press 2.0

In a remarkable coalescence of time and circumstance, Michael Hart typed the Declaration of Independence into his computer on July 4th, 1971, Independence Day, and launched Project Gutenberg,

http://www.gutenberg.org/    Project Gutenberg

the world’s largest non-profit digital library available on the Internet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/business/michael-hart-a-pioneer-of-e-books-dies-at-64.html?_r=3&pagewanted=2   the world’s largest digital library

On his way home from a fireworks display, Hart stopped in at a grocery store and was given a copy of the Declaration of Independence, printed on parchment. He typed the text into his computer, intending to send it as an email to his friends on Arpanet. A colleague persuaded him that his message would cause the system to crash and so Hart merely posted a note that the full text could be downloaded instead. And thus, according to the obituary noting his passing on September 6th, 2011 in the New York Times, “Project Gutenberg was born.”

http://www.gutenberg.org/   Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg, with more than 38,000 free eBooks available online, represents Hart’s goal to “encourage the creation and distribution of e-books to help break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy.” Even in its infancy Hart saw the potential, according to the Times, of “overturning all established power structures.” (emphasis added)

It is doubtful that Hart in 1971 had any idea of how the growth of the Internet would impact the world, just as the son of a cloth merchant in the small German town of Mainz, Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg   Gutenberg

would have any idea of how his invention of the moveable-type printing press in 1436 would impact his world. Not only is the Gutenberg press responsible for the printing revolution that spread across Europe and the world, it had enormous impact in the flowering of the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. It was responsible for the formation of the basis for the modern market economy, the development and spread of the concept of national sovereignty, and the revolution leading to the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of the American republic.

Gutenberg’s first project was the printing of 180 copies of the Bible, each of which sold for much less than a handwritten Bible which could take a single scribe more than a year to complete. Within six years there were 1000 copies in print.

http://thedailybell.com/2645/Martin-Luther   there were 1000 copies in print

As his printing press was copied and spread throughout the continent,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_spread_of_the_printing_press   spread    through the continent

by the year 1500 one thousand printing presses were in operation and had already produced more than eight million books. By 1600 that number had grown more than twenty-fold to between 150 and 200 million. And the discovery and development of sea routes West (Christopher Columbus, 1492) and East (Vasco da Gama, 1498) greatly expanded the use of his printing press. By 1620 the impact of the Gutenberg press caused English philosopher Francis Bacon to remark that it “has changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world.” In America, Mark Twain wrote:

What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg. Everything can be traced to this source, but we are bound to bring him homage…for the bad that this colossal invention has brought about is overshadowed a thousand times by the good with which mankind has been favored.

The press enabled friends of Martin Luther to distribute copies of his “95 Theses” across Germany within two weeks, all across Europe within two months, and within the year into France, England and Italy.

The challenge of the Reformation to the existing establishment led to The Thirty Years’ War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years’_War   Thirty Years’ War

which ended with the signing of a series of peace treaties summarized as the Peace of Westphalia, establishing vital concepts now taken for granted: sovereignty of states, right to self-determination, equality between states and the principle of non-intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westphalian_sovereignty  vital concepts

John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion was propelled by the Gutenberg miracle so that by 1560 the Scottish parliament had repudiated the Pope’s authority and approved in its stead the Protestant Confession of Faith. The Scottish Reformation reached America and influenced the American Revolution. Calvin’s influence was so great that Leopold von Ranke,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_von_Ranke  Leopold von Ranke

one of the profoundest scholars of the times, concluded that “John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.”

Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense_(pamphlet)   Common Sense

rode not only the revolutionary discontent of the colonies but the increasingly common printing press to become, according to historian Gordon S. Wood, “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era.” First published anonymously in January, 1776, the 48-page booklet sold 120,000 copies in its first three months, 500,000 in its first year, and went through twenty-five editions in its first year alone. George Trevelyan, author of History of the American Revolution, said,

It would be difficult to name any human composition which has had an effect at once so instant, so extended and so lasting…It was pirated, parodied and imitated, and translated into the language of every country where the new republic had well-wishers. It worked nothing short of miracles and turned Tories into Whigs.

And so, from the development of movable type in 1436 to the printing of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455, to the explosive duplication of Luther’s 95 Theses beginning in 1518, to the Scottish immigration to America in the 1600s, to the Peace of Westphalia in 1668, to the bursting forth of “Common Sense” in January 1776, to the Declaration of Independence, one can trace the impact that the Gutenberg Press had on political, social and religious institutions in just over three hundred years.

But it took just three years from the start of the commercialization of the internet in 1995 (the year the first sale on Echo Bay – later to become EBay – was completed)

http://sixrevisions.com/resources/the-history-of-the-internet-in-a-nutshell/    first sale on Echo Bay

that the political power of the Internet as the “alternative media” began to be felt. Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff had been investigating the relationship between Monica Lewinsky

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewinsky_scandal#Denial_and_subsequent_admission    Monica Lewinsky

and then-President Bill Clinton for nearly a year, and his story was about to be published on Saturday morning, January 17th, 1998. After listening to one of the taped conversations between Lewinsky and a friend, Isikoff’s editors decided to spike the story. Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Drudge_Report    The Drudge Report

an online news aggregator, learned of the decision to withhold the story, and ran his exposé with the headline: “Newsweek Kills Story on White House Intern: 23-Year-Old Sex Relationship with President,”

http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/data/2002/01/17/20020117_175502_ml.htm   ran his expose

which instantly, profoundly and permanently transformed the Internet into an alternative to the mainstream media. By Sunday morning, so many individuals were seeking more information from Drudge’s website that it couldn’t handle all the traffic.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/special_report/1998/clinton_scandal/50031.stm   couldn’t handle all the traffic.

According to BBC News, “This may be the first time that a story of such consequence developed on the Internet. Love him or hate him, Matt Drudge’s report on the Clinton scandal is the most visible sign to date of the changing nature of journalism.”

The Presidential campaign of 2008 is considered to be the first “Internet election”

http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/The-Internet-and-the-2008-Election.aspx   internet election

with candidates using the Internet to promote their positions. PewInternet noted that “a record-breaking 46% of Americans used the Internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views, and mobilize others…[and] 6% of Americans made political contributions online, compared with 2% who did that during the entire 2004 campaign.” One of those enjoying the Internet’s capability to raise campaign funds was Presidential candidate Ron Paul whose “money bomb” raised a record $4.3 million in a single day, followed by another $4.4 million raised just a few days later.

The Internet had a significant role in the retirement of Dan Rather from CBS in 2005. In 1988 Rather interviewed six former servicemen, each of whom had witnessed horrible acts during their time in Vietnam.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Rather    interviewed

Two of them said that they had killed civilians and each talked about the impact the war had on their personal lives, including periods of depression, unemployment, drug use, and homelessness. Unfortunately for Rather, authors B. G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley, in doing research for their book Stolen Valor

http://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Valor-Vietnam-Generation-History/dp/096670360X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316710624&sr=1-1   Stolen Valor

obtained the service records of all six of those interviewed by Rather and discovered that only one of them had actually been stationed in Vietnam, and that he had only served as an equipment repairer. Bloggers on the Internet had a field day.

http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=421    had a field day

And then in 2004 Rather reported on a series of memos he had obtained about President George W. Bush’s service with the Texas Air National Guard. The memos found their way onto the Internet and were declared by experts to be forgeries. The mainstream media reluctantly printed the story of the forgeries, forcing CBS initially to defend Rather’s report. Two weeks later CBS retracted the story. In 2005 Rather left CBS after being relegated to a corner office with few responsibilities.

The internet’s video-sharing website, YouTube, has more than one billion videos in its online library

http://thenewamerican.com/tech-mainmenu-30/computers/4458-the-power-of-the-internet    more than one billion

but none more damaging to the credibility of one of the establishment’s favorite institutions, The Federal Reserve System, than the confrontation between Congressman Alan Grayson and Fed spokesman Elizabeth Coleman. In five minutes and 26 seconds,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXlxBeAvsB8&feature=player_embedded   In five minutes and 26 seconds

on May 5th, 2009, Coleman stuttered and stammered and deflected and finally wilted under Grayson’s barrage of questions about the Fed’s off-book balance sheet activity. Her lack of preparation and inability to answer the simplest of questions has been viewed by more than four million people, doing irreparable damage to the prestige of the Fed. As noted by Anthony Wile

http://thedailybell.com/2024/Is-Anyone-Minding-the-Store-at-the-Federal-Reserve.html   noted by

“It is one of the single most astonishing moments (or minutes) ever manifested or preserved in this already amazing digital era.” Wile wrote:

During the questioning of Coleman, Grayson asks her over and over if there is a formal accounting available for the trillions in off-book balance sheet activity for the Fed. He asks patiently, and he repeats the question many times. Coleman stutters, makes statements that are obviously evasive and finally all but admits that she actually has no authority even to examine the Fed’s off-balance sheet activities. She admits this in a frazzled manner, but only after losing her way so badly that she has to ask Grayson to repeat the question (which he has already asked about ten times).

The whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org has proven the power of exposure as a disinfectant, especially in its leaking of the Kroll Report,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_Moi    Kroll Report

an intelligence report commissioned by the Kenyan government in 2004. For political reasons the government sat on the report until Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, published the report on the Internet. Interviewed on TED TV by Chris Anderson, Assange said

http://thenewamerican.com/tech-mainmenu-30/computers/4458-the-power-of-the-internet    Interviewed by

This report…became a dead albatross around [the president’s] neck.

Anderson: And…word of the report leaked into Kenya, not from the official media, but indirectly [via the Internet]. And in your opinion, it actually shifted the election?

Assange: Yes. This became front page [news] and was then printed in all the surrounding countries of Kenya, in Tanzania and South Africa…

It ran for 20 nights straight on Kenya TV [and] shifted the vote by 10 percent…which changed the result of the election.

Anderson: So your leak really substantially changed the world?

Assange: Yes.

The Internet revolution is reaching into the highest levels of the education cartel which for years has required students to pay enormous sums for the privilege of attending prestigious schools to obtain a piece of paper that many are finding of questionable value in today’s marketplace. In 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) started putting all of its courses’ lecture notes, videos and exams online where students could access them for free. In the ten years that followed nearly 100 million students have taken advantage of the opportunity. Recently, MIT introduced “MITx” which grants, for a small fee, a certificate of accomplishment to students proving their mastery of the subject. This innovation challenges at its very core the paradigm that only a wealthy few should have access to such learning. As Kevin Carey noted in The Chronicle of Higher Education,

http://chronicle.com/article/MIT-Mints-a-Valuable-New-Form/130410/  noted

“It is simply untenable [for traditional universities] to claim global leadership in educating a planet of seven billion people when you hoard your educational offerings for a few thousand fortunates living together on a small patch of land.”

The internet is also allowing citizens to stand up against corrupt politicians and police behaving badly. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) discovered how his attempts to keep people attending his town halls from taping them using cellphones failed miserably and led him to change his policy.

http://teapartyeconomist.com/2012/01/19/bonehead-congressman-who-confiscated-cell-phones-backs-off-too-late/  failed miserably

Said a chastened Chabot, “We will be modifying our policy to allow individual citizens to bring cameras to our town hall events…”

Simon Glik was walking by the Boston Common on October 1st, 2007 when he observed what he perceived to be an excessive use of force by three police officers in subduing a suspected drug offender. He used his cell phone to take pictures of the event and was arrested. He sued and courts ruled in his favor: “We conclude…that Glik was exercising clearly-established First Amendment rights in filming the officers in a public place, and that his clearly-established Fourth Amendment rights were violated by his arrest without probable cause.”

http://thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/10828-courts-and-dept-of-justice-agree-videotaping-police-is-ok  ruled in his favor

Last September the pro-life film “180” was released with expectations that it could change the abortion debate significantly. Producer Ray Comfort said that “knowledge is very, very powerful and when we have knowledge…it can change our whole perspective.” Comfort expressed the hope that the video would go viral. In the first 24 hours of its release on YouTube, there were 30,000 visits. By October 9th, there were 638,000 visits. As of February 15th, 2012, there have been more than 2,350,000 visits.

Attempts to pre-empt the Internet or to restrict it are failing. When Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corporation, purchased MySpace for $580 million in July 2005, he intended on inserting Fox News political content into the site and thus help to redirect the political conversation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Space#Politics   inserting Fox News studio content

At the time, MySpace was the most popular social networking site in the United States, while Facebook, its primary competitor lagged behind. However, by April, 2008, Facebook surpassed MySpace based on monthly unique visitors, and Murdoch’s attempt to get political with his acquisition failed. With three-quarters of its workforce laid off, Murdoch sold what was left of the company in June 2011 for $35 million, taking a loss of half a billion dollars.

When it appeared that federal attempts to threaten the internet such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Internet Privacy Act) were going to be enacted, users rebelled mightily and loudly. Millions of people signed online petitions, overloaded circuits with phone calls, and generally stood in the gap and said NO. As Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group said:

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9223531/Twitter_Facebook_fuel_SOPA_protests?taxonomyId=70  said

“This is huge. [Social networks] pretty much drove the mass objections and stopped this bill from becoming law. I think we are actually seeing the beginning of a huge change in the political process worldwide that [has] social networks at the core.”

Even before the cratering of those efforts to regulate and emasculate the internet, clever individuals had been hard at work developing “work-arounds,” just in case. A Firefox add-on called, appropriately “de-SOPA” allows searchers to get past any sites that might have been censored by using IP addresses instead of web addresses.

http://lifehacker.com/5869665/desopa-for-firefox-bypasses-sopa-dns-blocking  deSOPA

And if that doesn’t work, there’s Pirate Bay Dancing

http://boingboing.net/2011/11/30/mafiaafire-teams-latest-brow.html Pirate Bay Dancing

that also was developed in anticipation of such attempts at regulation.

Telex is another of many innovations designed to foil attempts to restrict the flow of truth by Internet. The developer’s software turns the Internet itself into an anti-censorship device. Software that is installed on a computer connects with the Internet service provider that has Telex stations attached to the wires carrying the digital traffic. “So,” says the developer, “if you’re in China, and you want access to a banned site like YouTube, you just type YouTube.com into your computer, and the Telex station will see that connection, and disguise it as something innocuous. You might be watching YouTube, but to a censor, it will just seem as if you’re visiting a harmless, non-blocked site.” If governments pursue Internet censorship, they will find that the free-market innovators have gotten there first, in plenty of time to make such efforts not only fruitless but obsolete.

Because of the Internet, false renditions of history are exposed. Half-truths are uncovered. Statist assumptions are questioned. George Orwell’s Memory Hole has been illuminated. History, it is said, is written by the survivors. With more than 300 million websites feeding the Internet and billions of people seeking the truth, when this history is written it will proclaim the free unhindered flow of information via the Internet as the victor. With this new information, the final choice lies, where it always has, in the hands of an informed electorate. Writing to William Charles Jarvis on September 28th, 1820, Thomas Jefferson said:

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

All that the Gutenberg press did then, and all that the Internet is doing now, is informing the peoples’ discretion. The rest is up to them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Santa Clara’s Field of Dreams

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 21, 2014:

Ray Kinsella, meet the Mayor of Santa Clara, California, home of the brand new Levi’s Stadium where the San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to play their home games starting this fall. And where, it is predicted, their fans will come to watch.

Whether enough of them will is an open question.

Already nearly a third of the 49ers’ season ticket holders have given them up, partly because price increases have put them out of their reach and partly because Santa Clara is at least an hour south of San Francisco, one way. On game day that could double, or more.

But never fear, those who built the stadium from the dreams of the dreamers and spending someone else’s money are positively ecstatic that it will all work. At the stadium’s opening ceremonies last Thursday, everyone with a finger in the pot was invited to attend. The beer was flowing, the confetti was flying, enthusiastic self-congratulations were on every lip. Said Jed York, the team’s CEO, to those as yet invisible but greatly needed fans: “You deserve to have the best stadium in the world. And now you have it!” On cue, 49ers’ President Paraag Marathe added: “You can feel the difference [here compared to Candlestick] and you know the fans are going to feel the difference.”

The event was jaw-dropping. Mike Rosenberg, an observer with the San Jose Mercury News who attended the gala event, saw

hundreds of workers wearing white “I built Levi’s Stadium” shirts and hard hats march[ing] down two red-carpeted giant staircases. Thousands of white, red, and gold pieces of confetti burst into the air at the end of the event, as dozens of cheerleaders waved their pom-poms and guests rushed to take selfies in front of a giant screen on stage.

One could hear echoes from Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” The math requires that most of the seats in the 70,000-seat stadium be filled with fans coming to see every game. If they don’t, this could be one of the biggest municipal fiscal implosions in the history of professional sports.

The 49ers tried to cut a deal to stay in San Francisco, offering to demolish the old and aging Candlestick Park and build a new one on its parking lot. But owner squabbles and parking and traffic problems got in the way, and in 2006 the team’s new owners announced they were moving south, to Santa Clara, a high-end but very tiny (116,000 population) town. The wining and dining of the city council began in earnest and before long Measure J was offered to the taxpayers in the form of free money: no increase in taxes, no liabilities assumed, no hidden charges. Trust us.

Here’s some of the language that the taxpayers bought into:

No use of City General or Enterprise funds for construction; no new taxes for residents for stadium; private party pays all construction cost overruns; no City/Agency obligation for stadium operation/maintenance…

25,000 taxpayers showed up to vote on that fateful day in June 2010, with 15,000 of them voting to shackle everyone to the harness of a potentially impossible burden of debt.

In less than a year after passage, the language of the proposal, now law, had been breached, both frontally and behind the scenes. Frontally, the city gave up $114 million in cash and incentives to meet the 49ers’ demands. Behind the scenes, they set up a stadium “authority” granting it the power to borrow up to another $330 million, just in case it was needed.

Goldman Sachs was the lead lender in the deal, offering to raise $850 million to help build the new stadium and taking its usual ten percent commission off the top. The NFL ponied up another $200 million on the condition that it be paid back from gate revenues, leased seat revenues, beer and trinket sales, parking lot fees, and an increase in hotel room taxes. Levi Strauss paid $200 million (over ten years) to name the stadium. Nowhere could this writer find any financial contribution to the stadium by the 49ers. The only thing found was a promise that any cost overruns would be covered by the team.

Ignoring for the moment that most sports stadia built over the last twenty years in this country have never paid for themselves (a single exception: New Jersey’s Meadowlands Stadium), the assumptions underlying a successful experience in Santa Clara are unnerving:

  • The 49ers must continue to have winning seasons,
  • The fans must continue to be willing to pay to see them win,
  • Interest rates must stay low, and
  • New infrastructure costs and their maintenance expenses must be low.

If any of these assumptions go awry, then the Levi’s Stadium could indeed make history of another kind: we built it, but no one showed. For instance, if interest rates rise just a little, refinancing of the debt incurred (thanks to Goldman), which is required by 2015, could put debt service out of reach of the city’s stadium authority.

There are also the unmentionables that were omitted from the initial calculation: the subsidies. Judith Long, an urban planning specialist who teaches at Harvard University, noted that

Governments pay far more to participate in the development of major league sports facilities than is commonly understood due to the routine omission of public subsidies for land and infrastructure and the ongoing costs of operations, capital improvements, municipal services, and foregone property taxes.

 

Adjusting for these omissions increases the average public subsidy by $50 million….

Adding $50 million to the $114 million already spent, plus the $330 million borrowing authority not yet tapped by the city’s stadium authority, would bring the total cost to Santa Clara taxpayers awfully close to $500 million. And this in a town whose annual budget is less than $140 million a year.

A couple of writers at Bloomberg said that Santa Clara “is taking what may be the largest per-capita risk for any municipal sports facility [in the country.].” Roger Noll agrees. Noll, a retired economics professor from nearby Stanford University, looked at the same numbers and called this deal a dog:

The thing that makes this such a dog is that Santa Clara first of all is a small town. There’s some amount of financial hit the city could probably pay [if things don’t pan out as projected], but the probability that it’s going to exceed that is certainly not zero.

This is how a college professor, trying to be polite, says that the city has made a helluva mistake.

From a pure population viewpoint, Santa Clara and its environs, including the county, number about 1.7 million. San Francisco, on the other hand, sports 17 million. Even drawing a circle around Santa Clara, say 100 miles, from which the 49ers might draw its fans, leads to an inevitable mathematical conclusion: the city council has bitten off way more than it can chew.

There will be a period of “normalization,” after which it will be clear whether all the assumptions made will pan out: winning team, traffic congestion, maintenance expenses, interest rates, etc. Give it three years, maybe five, and the taxpayers will know all they need to know about their experiment with their Field of Dreams.

—————————-

Sources:

Time: Football: A Waste of Taxpayers’ Money

The New American: NFL Extends Its Winning Streak on Tax Breaks

Levi’s Stadium

San Jose Mercury News: 49ers open Levi’s Stadium with showstopping NFL ceremony

San Francisco 49ers

Bloomberg: Santa Clara Borrows Against Odds of Gain With 49ers

Full Count: The Real Cost of Public Funding for Major League Sports Facilities

Santa Clara, California

Santa Clara County, California

San Francisco

Field of Dreams

Entrepreneur magazine: Why the Motto “If You Build It, They Will Come” is BS

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Homebuilders’ Housing Market Index Surge Shows Recovery More Than Just Homes

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 16, 2020: 

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Homebuilders’ Housing Market Index Surge Shows Recovery More Than Just Homes

Written by  

Homebuilders’ Housing Market Index Surge Shows Recovery More Than Just Homes

The astonishing rebound in the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) implies much more than just a rebound in residential housing. It also reflects a positive impact on the overall economy and likely the election as well.

In April the HMI stood at 30 (50 is neutral; below is contracting, above is expanding), the lowest level seen since June 2012, eight years ago. In May it jumped to 37, in June it hit 58, and in July it leapt another 14 points to 72. That’s the level it hit in March before the pandemic shutdown.

Simply put, that means that housing has come all the way back to where it was in March, just four months ago.

But it means much more than just strong traffic of potential buyers now free to visit model homes. It means much more than an increase in mortgage applications by those taking advantage of record-low interest rates (Freddie Mac just reported that the rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage has dropped below three percent, the lowest since 1971).

It also reflects an enormous shift in demand for larger homes in suburban areas as home buyers are adjusting to their new daily work-from-home (“telework”) schedules. They aren’t worrying about commuting, and see the advantages of living away from the hubbub of big cities. Accordingly, they are asking builders to give them separate work spaces instead of, or along with, more bedrooms. As Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said, the “flight to the suburbs is real.”

Although residential construction averages about five percent of the country’s gross domestic output of goods and services (GDP) — this includes not only building new single-family homes and multifamily projects, it also includes remodeling, manufactured homes, and brokers’ commissions — it also impacts the economy for all the related services. Put together, residential housing represents nearly 20 percent of GDP.

But even that misses the impact of the recovery in housing. It reflects confidence in the future, with new families forming and planning for children in the new telework environment.

More and more both parents are able to work from home, allowing much more interaction with their children and involvement in their lives. Homeschooling is being considered increasingly as an alternative to government schools for myriad reasons.

It also bodes well for the reelection of the president. After all, in an awful combination of clichés, if the “status is quo, why change horses in the middle of the stream?” Especially if that stream is bringing families together in a more positive work and school environment.

Dietz is right. The “flight to the suburbs is real,” bringing with it many advantages, not just economically.

Photo: Irina Kulikova / iStock / Getty Images Plus

An Ivy League graduate and former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at Â badelmann@thenewamerican.com.

 

 

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Latest NFIB Report Confirms Robust Health of U.S. Economy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, November 14, 2018:  

 

Democrats Call for Investigation Into Trump’s Alleged Interference in Roger Stone Sentencing

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 13, 2020: 

 With time on their hands now that the faux Trump investigation has fizzled. House Democrats now have an opportunity to open a new investigation into the president’s alleged misbehaviors.

During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Roger Stone created “back-channel” communications with WikiLeaks in order to learn more about the stolen e-mails that were damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. When the Mueller investigation uncovered Stone’s efforts, it turned its focus on him. In November Stone was convicted on seven counts, including witness tampering and lying to the investigators.

He is due to be sentenced next week.

The Department of Justice prosecutors had recommended that Stone be imprisoned for seven to nine years for his crimes. Stone’s defense attorneys argued that the guideline for first-time offenders is 15 to 21 months.

When the president learned of the matter, he tweeted late Monday night: “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

The next day a spokesman for the Department of Justice said the department was overriding the recommendations of the prosecuting attorneys, saying that they “did not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence” and that the initial recommendation “would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case.”

This was all that the Democrats needed to call for another investigation of the president. It didn’t matter that the spokesman said the decision to override had been made long before the president tweeted his disapproval. It didn’t matter that others who had been investigated and convicted of various crimes stemming from the Mueller investigation received sentences of just a few weeks in prison for lying to investigators or other crimes. It didn’t matter that a DOJ official, speaking off the record to USA Today, characterized the initial recommendation as “extreme, excessive and disproportionate,” adding that they “differed” from what the prosecutors had previously told the department they were going to recommend.

It just didn’t matter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted: “By tweet [the president] engaged in political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone. It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation. Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended & actions of the DOJ should be investigated.”

Predictably, other Democrats jumped on board. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) immediately asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate just “how and why” those recommendations “were countermanded” and which officials from the department and the White House were involved in the decision. Wrote Schumer: “This situation has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution”, adding:

The American people must have confidence that justice in this country is dispensed impartially. That confidence cannot be sustained if the president or his political appointees are permitted to interfere in prosecution and sentencing recommendations in order to protect their friends and associates.

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the DOJ’s decision to override the initial recommendations, declaring that his committee — having ended is investigation of the president last month — will now have the time to “get to the bottom of this.”

Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — also free now to turn its attention to the next investigation — said that the Justice Department is sending “an unmistakable message” that it has now joined the president in protecting those who lie to Congress in order to protect him.

Two legal analysts for NBC/MSNBC, Mimi Rooah and Glenn Kirschner, have already declared the president guilty: “This is about [Trump’s] attorney general and [Trump’s] political appointees reversing decisions of career prosecutors without cause.… There can be little doubt that this dramatic turnabout in the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation was the product of political meddling.… The fact that a presidential tweet can result in a reduced sentence is a sign that the criminal justice system is being corroded from the inside out. It is a move that smacks of cronyism, favoritism and exploitation.”

It doesn’t matter that the decision to override was made long before the president knew about it or that a U.S. president is allowed to even pardon altogether the crimes of those he feels were wrongly convicted. The Democrats and their sycophants in the press see only what they want to see: another opportunity to investigate the president. 

Keep reading…

Aramco IPO is Extortion on a Grand Scale

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 13, 2019:

Now that the IPO results are coming in, commentators are applauding it as a move away from Saudi Arabia’s near total dependence upon oil and into other ventures like real estate, tourism, entertainment, and manufacturing. Said the Wall Street Journal at the end of the first day of trading: “The public offering of the world’s most profitable company is part of a sweeping overhaul of the kingdom’s economy to invest in non-oil industries and create jobs for young Saudis.”

A closer look reveals no such thing. By nearly every metric, the Aramco IPO was a failure. It posted an initial value of the company below bin Salman’s value of $2 trillion and generated just one quarter of the $100 billion he claims he needs to bring his sand and oil empire into the 21stcentury by diversifying into entertainment, manufacturing, and tourism. By the second day, shares in the tiny Saudi-controlled Tadawul stock exchange had jumped 20 percent, but by that time the Prince was out, licking his wounds, and no doubt wondering how he was going to fulfill the promise of his Vision 2030 without the additional billions. He was also no doubt pondering just how much longer his kingdom could run double-digit billion-dollar deficits.

Aramco’s CEO put the best face he could on the fiasco:

We are happy on the results today. And you have seen the market responds to our results, the company will continue to be the leader globally when it comes to the energy sector and at the same time we are looking at sustained and growing dividends to our investors. At the same time we continue our growth strategy, increasing profitability across cycles.

On the other hand, Ellen Wald, author of “Saudi, Inc.” (a look behind the façade of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ruthless murderous oil empire), called the first day’s results a “hollow win,” adding that “The local demand from retail investors wasn’t as high as (Saudi Arabia) hoped for. The investments were almost entirely local and attracted [almost] no money from outside the region … the government had to manufacture demand [for shares].”

Just 10 percent of offers to buy came from foreign investors, according to Samba Capital, one of Aramco’s financial advisors. The rest came from threats, intimidation, pressure, and blackmail as reported in articles listed below (under Sources).

The real value of the company remains opaque. In the real world, investors can price a company through the market’s valuation of its shares. Not so with Aramco. The tiny sliver – just 1.5 percent of the company went on sale on Tuesday – means that the Prince’s empire controls 98.5 percent of the company, and, according to the fine print in the “risks” section of the 600-page prospectus made available just a week earlier, he can do pretty much whatever he wants to do with the money.

His government’s desperate need for cash to cover the deficits his kingdom has been running since 2014 forced him to demand a “special” dividend from Aramco of $20 billion last year, and to enter the bond market for the first time in history to obtain another $12 billion. His finance minister just announced that this year’s deficit is $36 billion, while the shortfall next year is expected to exceed $50 billion. The $25 billion from Tuesday’s stock offering is more likely to be absorbed by his government to sustain its welfare state spending rather than be invested in new projects.

Because most of the offering was purchased under threats, and is subject to many risks not faced by established international energy producers, the real value of those shares won’t be known for months. That’s because built into the purchase agreement is a “lockup agreement” that prohibits insiders from unloading their shares for a year. There’s another incentive to keep the share price from tumbling: individual investors who hold their shares for at least six months will receive a “bonus” share for every 10 shares they own.

Finally, the government itself has sufficient interest in keeping the company’s valuation above market that it will no doubt be more than willing step in to buy shares following the expiration of that lockup agreement to keep share prices high.

This is not a typical free market IPO, but an attempt to sell a tiny sliver of a state-owned and -controlled oil company in order to help its owners pay its bills. It’s worse than that: in order to raise the $25 billion, the prince had to resort to threats and intimidation to get his Saudi princes – the same people he locked up last year during his inquisition against their corruption – to cough up the money he needs.

This is not an investment. It is extortion on a grand scale.

—————————

Sources:

The McAlvany Intelligence AdvisorSaudi Arabia’s Aramco’s “Road Show” Ends on Wednesday; Shares to be Offered a Week Later

The McAlvany Intelligence AdvisorRun, Do Not Walk, Away from the Aramco IPO

The Wall Street JournalAramco Shares Rise 10% After World’s Biggest IPO

CNBCSaudi Aramco shares surge 10% as historic IPO begins trading

MarketWatchAramco shares climb on second day to top $2 trillion valuation

CNNSaudi Aramco shares spike after historic market debut

ArabianBusiness.comSaudi budget deficit set to grow to $50bn for 2020

BloombergAramco’s Failed IPO Went Pretty Well

Economic TimesSaudi Aramco’s true value is still a mystery

Washington PostSaudi oil giant Aramco starts trading shares a week after historic IPO

What Is a Lock-Up Agreement?

CNBCSaudi Aramco prices shares at top of the range, valuing it at $1.7 trillion

Amazon: Saudi, Inc.: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power , by Ellen Wald

No articles for awhile

Due to my accident I won’t be writing any articles for awhile. Thanks for your patience and understanding. Please check back from time to time.

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.
Copyright © 2020 Bob Adelmann