June 21, 2013

“What in the world…” is a weekly segment on GPS where Fareed Zakaria tells anecdotes. I am going to steal his phrase here to describe few issues that make me wonder what are we coming to.

Surveillance Programs
So we have reached a stage in life where it is okay for Google, Facebook, Verizon, and others to accumulate our private information and use it or abuse it for them to make money by selling it—our private information—to others or snoop on us themselves and make us offers which they think is relevant to us based on our pattern of behavior, but it is not okay for the government to use it to save our lives.

What in the world, indeed!

Have we gone crazy? Have we lost our minds? Are people really serious about it?

I understand the concern about abuse; we just saw the IRS abusing their power. But what about the abuse by the private companies? At least if the government abuses it, there will be someone who will leak, a REAL whistleblower, or someone, a victim of abuse, will complain and ultimately the abusers will pay the price. What happens if someone in Google abuses the information? What do we do then?

I am okay with a law that will make the investigations into abuse fast and furious and the penalty for abuse severe. But let’s not pour the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s be rational about it. We long ago gave up our rights to privacy on anything that happens in cyber space. It simply is NOT private. Let’s bring sanity to the discussion here and stay alive.

Ben the Enabler
The Fed chairman is becoming bolder in his hints that the Fed will soon start slowing the amount of monthly government bond buying.

Is there ANYONE out there that notices the “surprising” coincidence that this is happening as the government budget deficit is shrinking? I have been saying from day one that the whole notion behind the QE policy was to enable the extraordinary fiscal Keynesian exercise of huge government deficits. Now that, at least for the time being, the deficit is slowing, the Fed can buy less. It is frustrating that I am a lonely voice in the desert. No one, simply no one else is making the connection.
This is not just semantics. If I am correct, the implications are grave. The Fed is supposed to be independent of the administration, and here is a Fed chairman that led a policy, which clearly was coordinated and made possible a very risky behavior by the administration that I consider irresponsible. That should be highlighted and investigated thoroughly.

As to what all this means, we will only know the results of this unprecedented experiment in few years’ time when it will be time to pay the piper. Many people voice great doubt about the ability of the Fed to unwind this QE policy and get rid of the $ Four Trillion of government bonds that they now proudly own. We will see what happens. I predict that a few years after he leaves his post, the platitudes given to Mr. Bernanke now will change to scorn and derision. That will not help us when we are reaping what he sowed—the great inflation probably together with stagnation—the dreaded stagflation.

James Gandolfini
He died. I am truly sorry for his family. But COME ON! Is this really headline news? Is this really the stuff of breaking news bulletins? Who are we? What have we become? Hundreds of people die in Syria every day; the president is calling for the reduction of nuclear weapons; Iran goes on developing them; China and Russia contemptuously ignore the U.S.; the IRS abuses its power; the AG lies to the American people, and the top news is that Gandolfini died? What in the . . . WORLD!

This celebrity culture has really gone over the top.