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Paulh's rant about market forces, trade, sovereignty, attitudes toward money, Don Quixote, and, of course, Donald Trump

One or two of my online friends have an almost religious devotion to the idea that any economic problem can be solved by letting markey forces work on it unimpeded. Exhaustion of fossil fuels? Renewable energy sources will at some point become more
economical than fossil fuels, so don't send time worrying about it. That's easy to say if you aren't one of the people who will be displaced during the transition. Plus, the environmental problems, among them the fact that developing a machine to remove CO2 from
the air doesn't promise to be a money-making endeavor, hence the unlikelihood of its coming to the rescue. In any event, I don't wish to get mired in the existence or nonexistence of global warning/climate change. This is science, not theology, not politics. Scientists have gotten some things right and other things wrong regarding climate, and this is exactly what a reasonable person would expect science to do. Scientists are always on the lookout for mistakes that other scientists have made. It's in their job descriptions. Let's let them do their work.

I have other friends who think business [except for the mom and pop variety] is a dirty word. I'm afraid of discussing stock portfolios with them, even the neutral portfolios in index funds. And if you have to ask what index funds are, maybe you should not have the discussion with me. We'll agree to disagree.

But to make my apologia concise: I devoted three decades to saving and investing for retirement, using simple mathematical models to make it as likely as possible that bad guesses in one asset
category would not make me a pauper in old age, while good guesses would make me reasonably comfortable, though not a billionaire. It looks as though my work has been successful. Who knows how it will look a year from now? If I'm poorer than I am now, it's likely that others will also be poorer. But I will never be rolling in dough. And this doesn't bother me in the least.

I watched the Brexit campaign with interest. It seemed to represent a change of direction for the nationalism/globalism pendulum. The elevation of Donald Trump to the leadership of the U.S. seems to make a similar statement. Globalism may have gone a far as it can, and nationalist forces seem to be coming to the forefront. How far will the pendulum swing away from globalism? It's too soon to tell.

Sovereignty is a key element of nationalism. Japan could feed its people perfectly well by allowing them to eat non-Japanese rice, but it still protects its domestic rice farmers by slapping a 778%
tariff on imported rice. Don't believe me? Read this link: Switzerland has traditionally mde it hard for foreigners to become Swiss citizens. Apparently this is
changing, but it remains to be seen how far they're willing to go.
I have a friend from France who has bitterly criticised the European Union for interfering in the production of foods that have traditionally been produced in specific areas. Cheese, for example. I noted with some satisfaction that, in late 2008, President Bush and Obama seemed to eb in agreement
that the U.S. government should intervene in the free-fall of the U.S. economy. This included bailouts of Ford and General Motors, though Ford seems to have rejected the help. In any event, a perfect system of free trade based on market forces would have allowed General Motors to fail. In this sense, the U.S. was just as nationalist in its policies as any other country would have been. Japan's rice, France's cheese, and America's auto industry.

Now i come to Donald Trump. He's not as ridiculous as some people seem to think he is. He remembers when the American steel industry was a major force in the world. If fossil-fuel pipelines are to be laid, why shouldn't they be made from American-made steel? Now that General Motors has recovered, why can't they make cars in the U.S. so American workers can get jobs making them?

many of us hav gotten used to watching the U.S,. adopt a more and more globalist approach to trade, as if the process could go only one way. But some of us remember when the work that our citizens did was a source of pride as well as a means of making a living. We could believe that what we were doing helped America become great or, if we thought it already was great, then it kept America great. Trump seems to be looping back to a set of assumptions from this earlier era. To be honest, I think market forces should be ignored so that the U.S. can still have a steel industry and an auto industry, etc. It doesn't have to be market forces or nothing. It can fall somewhere toward the middle of the spectrum.

Al those who haven't fallen asleep0 reaidng this, please raie your hands. smiley - smiley

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Latest reply: 6 Days Ago

Twelve inbches of snow in Boston as of 4:30 p.m.

This is not a big monster storm, but it's big enough.

They originally predicted 6 to 12 inches of snow here, then this morning they upgraded it to 12 to 18 inches. What we have now is about 12 inches, so both forecasts seem to be in range.

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Latest reply: Last Week

Xenophobia is neither new nor foreign to America

Xenophobia is a fear of the foreign and the new.

Now that President Trump has created chaos at airports as he seeks to reduce the number of people from Islamic countries in the U.S., I think it would be good to consider how this squares with earlier attempts to keep foreigners away.

The Immigration Act of 1924 was one such attempt. Unlike Trump's executive order, this was an act passed by Congress. The Guide has no material on this act, so I am including a link to a website that gives some detail:

Reading between the lines, and using information I gathered when reading books about the run up to Prohibition, I would like to point out that restrictions on immigrants from Eastern European countries were dear to the hearts of leaders of the temperance movement. Letting in too many people form places where heavy drinking was part of the culture might put too many foes of prohibition into the cities, where they might amass enough voting power to lead to weakening of prohibition. Ha, ha, it was in vain anyway, as the blue bloods became the decisive bloc in the repeal of prohibition in the early 1930s! smiley - laugh

As you read the above link, think about the liberal numbers of people allowed from Britain, based on so many Americans having had so many British people in their family trees. Asians? There were prohibitions early in the country's history, so the Asian population never got big enough to merit much representation in the immigration quotas.

Looking back at the attitudes of that era from almost a hundred years later, I wonder if anyone could think of such attitudes as sane? By 1952, immigration had been liberalized quite a bit. Nowadays, American seems like a benevolent host with outstretched hands.

Just remember, though, that xenophobia can rear its ugly head again with little or no notice.

But better it should be discussed in Congress, so that the whole society has a chance to weigh in, than that a single individual such as Mr. Trump should act as if he alone understood what the national interest consisted of. Such one-man rule hasn't occurred here since Lincoln suspended habeas corpus.

smiley - yikes The horror, the horror! smiley - sadface

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Latest reply: 3 Weeks Ago

Scolding the squirrels in the park

Maybe some of you remember hearing that in December the squirrels in Boston Common kept chewing through the electric lines that supplid power to the lights on the trees.

I happened to be in Boston Common yesterday, so I did my part by scolding every squirrel I saw.

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Latest reply: 6 Weeks Ago

predicted nominations for the oscars

I found a site that predicted the Oscar nominees for movies released in 2016, but which in reality might not get anywhere near the theaters most people visit until February:

best picture

“Moonlight” (A24)
Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski
Fred Berger, Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt
Lauren Beck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Kimberly Steward, Kevin J. Walsh
Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Barbara De Fina, Randall Emmett, Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Irwin Winkler
Todd Black, Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington
“Hacksaw Ridge” (LIONSGATE)
Terry Benedict, Paul Currie, Bruce Davey, William D. Johnson, Bill Mechanic, Brian Oliver, David Permut, Tyler Thompson
Iain Canning, Angie Fielder, Emile Sherman
Dan Levine, Shawn Levy, David Linde, Karen Lunder, Aaron Ryder
“Hell or High Water” (CBS FILMS)
Sidney Kimmel, Peter Berg, Carla Hacken, Julie Yorn:


Barry Jenkins – “Moonlight“
Damien Chazelle – “La La Land“
Martin Scorsese – “Silence“
Kenneth Lonergan – “Manchester by the Sea“
Denis Villeneuve – “Arrival“

lead actor

Denzel Washington – “Fences“
Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea“
Viggo Mortensen – “Captain Fantastic“
Ryan Gosling – “La La Land“
Andrew Garfield – “Hacksaw Ridge“

lead actress

Natalie Portman – “Jackie“
Emma Stone – “La La Land“
Amy Adams – “Arrival“
Meryl Streep – “Florence Foster Jenkins“
Ruth Negga – “Loving“

supporting actor

Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight“
Hugh Grant – “Florence Foster Jenkins“
Dev Patel – “Lion“
Jeff Bridges – “Hell or High Water“
Issey Ogata – “Silence“

supporting actress

Viola Davis – “Fences“
Naomie Harris – “Moonlight“
Nicole Kidman – “Lion“
Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea“
Octavia Spencer – “Hidden Figures“

originaL Screeenplay

“Manchester by the Sea” – Kenneth Lonergan
“La La Land” – Damien Chazelle
“Hell or High Water” – Taylor Sheridan
“The Lobster” – Efthimis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos
“Captain Fantastic” – Matt Ross

adapted screenplay

“Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney
“Fences” – August Wilson
“Lion” – Luke Davies
“Arrival” – Eric Heisserer
“Loving” – Jeff Nichols

animated feature

“Zootopia” – (Walt Disney Pictures)
“Kubo and the Two Strings” – (Laika)
“The Red Turtle” – (Sony Pictures Classics)
“My Life as a Zucchini” – (GKIDS)
“Miss Hokusai” – (GKIDS)

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Latest reply: Dec 27, 2016

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paulh, planting seeds on my windowsill

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