Thursday, March 16, 2023

There are 3 (and a half) reasons for the Silicon Valley Bank failure...

There are 3 (and a half) reasons for the Silicon Valley Bank failure. Change any one of the 3 and everything would have been ok.

1) Large deposits were not FDIC insured. If they had been, depositors would NOT have panicked. Congress MUST extend FDIC insurance (which is paid for by a fee on banks, and NOT by taxpayers) to cover ALL deposits in regulated banks.

2) The Fed changed interest rates TOO FAST.  Banks can live with high rates or low rates, but NOT with rapidly changing rates.

3) SVB management erred by buying longer-maturity treasury bonds.

3.5) Ending Dodd-Frank reduced regulatory oversight of banks in the $50B-$250B range. Even with DF, regulators might or might not have disallowed SVB's purchase of US bonds. Also, DF would do nothing to protect depositors in small banks.

"Most accidents do not have a single cause: there are usually multiple things that went wrong, multiple events that, had any one of them not occurred, would have prevented the accident." ― Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

Saturday, March 4, 2023

What is "Freedom?" My very personal perspective


For *ME*, Freedom (should we call it #HumanRights?) is:

1) The right to do whatever I want as long as it doesn't cause undue harm to another.

2) Being protected (by my government) from being harmed by others.

Some of the freedoms I personally have and am grateful for:

The right to eat what I choose.

The right to live where I choose.

My right (as an American citizen with a passport) to travel almost anywhere in the world.

My right (as an old American on Social Security) to work or not work as I prefer.

Clean water, safe food, emergency medical services and hospitals

Some of the freedoms I do NOT have that I personally think I should have:

The right to #DeathWithDignity.

The right to use whatever drugs I want for whatever purpose without needing a prescription. (Why should anyone else have the the right to prevent me from controlling my pain.)

The freedom to live without fear that my car will be stolen or my home broken into.

The right to have a bumper sticker on my car without being harassed and threatened.

The right to use the phone, messaging, and email without being assaulted by spam.

Some of the freedoms that I have to a large extent, but NOT enough:

The right to access everything that exists electronically (internet) and on paper.

The right to live without religion being imposed on me.


Is freedom anything else than the right

to live as we wish? Nothing else.

- Epictetus

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

- John F. Kennedy

Majority rule only works if you're also

considering individual rights,

because you can't have five wolves and one sheep

voting on what to have for dinner.

- Larry Flynt

Saturday, November 26, 2022

A Proposal to Replace (Most) Content Moderation with Profile Matching

Content moderation has long been a thorny issues for social media. Nobody likes how it works (or doesn't work) today, and the stricter and less well-defined rules and "norms" on newer platforms like Fediverse/Mastodon and Counter Social just make this more contentious. I have a radical proposal...

Let's replace (most) content moderation with "Profile Matching." Yes, Profile Matching sounds like the way dating sites work, and that's intentional. Here's how it would work...

Everyone's account profile contains two rather long checklists - one is a list of subjects they want excluded from their timeline, and the other is a list of subjects they Post messages about. By default a new account would be marked as both posting and accepting most subjects, with a very few subjects like NSFW images defaulting to not posted and not accepted. Of course the account owner is encouraged to customize both lists.

As an example, an account that excluded #Politics posts, would not see any posts on their timeline from accounts that stated they posted about politics.

There would also be the ability when Posting to override the account setting, such as an account that seldom posted about politics making a single political post, or a politics account posting a cute cat photo and wanting to reach a wider audience.

Content moderation would consist of two functions:
1) Warn and quickly suspend accounts that post ILLEGAL content. (Illegal in the strict sense of breaking laws, such as child porn, libel/defamation, or copyright infringement)
2) MARK accounts that post types of content they said they wouldn't post. For example, FORCE an account to be marked #Politics is it makes political posts without having that checked on the profile.

Here are a few EXAMPLES of the many subjects to be on the "I Post" and the Exclude ("I don't want to view") checklists... There could also be sub-subjects, so someone could view Politics in general, but exclude Anti-Democratic Politics. These examples are from an American's perspective, but of course the post/exclude lists need to be globally applicable. The lists will need to be added-to over time. Whenever a new subject is added, the defaults would be "I Post" this, and I Don't Exclude this subject.

 Images of food
 Animal-based food

 Weight reduction

 Natural Disasters

 Pro-Democratic Politics
 Pro-Republican Politics
 Anti-Democratic Politics
 Anti-Republican Politics
 Requests for political donations



#Anti-Choice ("pro-life")



# Advertising, Solicitation (other than political)

Monday, June 21, 2021

The decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestine *IS* a Crime-Against-Humanity.

The decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestine *IS* a Crime-Against-Humanity. The Israeli leaders who continue to commit this atrocity and the American leaders who continue to support the occupation *ARE* morally bankrupt. We MUST purge our government of elected leaders who turn a blind eye to Israel's Crimes-Against-Humanity and elect a new generation of leaders committed to FORCING Israel to unilaterally withdraw to the pre-1967 borders and recognize the Free Nation of Palestine!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Reparations are NOT the Answer

Black Americans have been treated terribly for centuries, but Reparations are NOT the answer.

1) We need to make life better for ALL disadvantaged Americans on a CONTINUING basis. A few of the many crucial steps are better schools for all kids, pre-school education for all kids, healthcare for everyone.

2) MANY groups have suffered grievously at the hands of our government or through the inaction of our government. Native Americans as a group have suffered even worse fates than Black Americans. Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, LQBTQ Americans, Female Americans, Muslim Americans, and more have suffered grievous harm. If Black Americans deserve reparations, all these other groups do also.  

3) Where would you draw the line for which Blacks get reparations? Those who can prove slave ancestors? Those who claim slave ancestry? Everyone with African DNA? Everyone who "looks Black?" 

Let's raise up EVERYONE who has been discriminated against, and let's help each of them every year for all time.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Brave New World - After the Pandemic of 2020

Someday the Great Pandemic of 2020 will be over, whether in 6 months or 12 or 18. But we will NOT return to what we considered "normal." It is a certainty that things will be different, but what will the NEW "normal" look like.  This is my opinion of what our post-pandemic "brave new world" will look like - some of my predictions are quite obvious, while others are purely speculative...

Cruise lines and airlines will never fully recover. There will be more government restrictions on international travel, and for decades individuals will not feel safe in international travel, plus the new level of xenophobia and racism will also put a drag on international travel.

Business travel, especially international, will never fully recover. In addition to airlines, this will also impact hotels, rental cars, convention facilities, high-end restaurants and more.

The use of video conferencing will continue to expand rapidly long after the pandemic is over. This will become part of the new "normal." (As an aside, Zoom Video Communications Inc ZM:NASDAQ stock has seen a huge rise during the pandemic, and has, I believe, become overvalued.)

The reduced air travel will impact companies like Boeing even more than it impacts airlines. I predict that it will be years before there is ANY demand for new airplanes. And of course this will impair all Boeing's subcontractors and vendors.

"Destination" entertainment centers will never fully recover. Las Vegas and DisneyLand/World will never regain their previous level of attendance, especially from international visitors.

In-person professional sports events will be quite slow to recover.

Movie theaters are unlikely to ever fully recover.

This pandemic will be the death blow to many shopping malls and their tenants. Macy's, JC Penney and such stores may never reopen. 

Fashion will never fully rebound. A lot of people are going to find that one of the things they like about staying at home is dressing very casually. They may also get used to more casual hairstyles, fingernails, etc.  This is of course further pressure on the likes of Macy's as well as many others.

Our relationship with doctors is going to be very different. We are going to find that we like telemedicine and getting prescriptions by mail. (As an aside, Teladoc Health Inc TDOC:NYSE stock has seen a huge rise during the pandemic, and has, I believe, become overvalued.)

The restaurant business will be unrecognizable. So many mom & pop restaurants will never reopen. I don't have a good guess for what the restaurant landscape will look like, but it will be littered with tombstones.

My guess is that grocery delivery will only see a modest increase after the pandemic ends. I don't see Instacart etc. keeping all the extra business they are getting now.

This pandemic will give a big boost to a cashless society. This is good news for the likes of Paypal and Stripe as well as the big players.

Americans are going to like the idea of getting a monthly check from the government, and aren't going to want it to end. There will be increased calls for something like Andrew Yang's "Freedom Dividend" on a permanent basis. 

The idea of a national identity card is going to get a boost. Whereas Americans used to worry about the government controlling them and taking away from them, the idea of being easily identifiable to the government is going to come to be associated with more easily receiving government money.  I can even see a national identity card doubling as a debit card for instantly accessing government benefit payments. [My recommendation is that the government NEVER REQUIRE a national identity card, but rather just say that if you want to receive government benefits, you need a national identity card.]

This pandemic will add greatly to the calls for free healthcare for all Americans. There will still be heated discussions about the details (personally, I'm a fan of government/private partnership rather than a government takeover), but there will be big changes soon.

US consumer confidence will not recover for decades. Overall, Americans will spend less and put more into their "rainy day" jar (as well as repaying debts incurred during the pandemic).  Among many other things, this means Americans owning their cars longer, buying smaller houses - in general less "discretionary" spending. [and of course I acknowledge the number of Americans who have never been able to make "discretionary" purchases like a new car.]


In addition to the above changes that I predict will happen, there are also some changes that we need to make (and may or may not)...

We need a MUCH better National Strategic Reserve. In addition to the obvious huge and continuously updated stock of masks and other personal protective equipment, we also need a large and continuously updated stock of drugs, especially including those that are typically manufactured overseas, like most antibiotics. In addition to future pandemics, our National Strategic Reserve must prepare us for all sorts of natural disasters and geopolitical disruptions.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Economic Crisis The Pandemic Will Cause Is NOT a "Recession," It Is Altogether Different

We need new terms to discuss the economic consequences of the current pandemic.  Terms like Recession (or even Depression), Economic Growth, Jobs Growth, Monetary Policy, and Fiscal Policy simply lose their usual meaning.

The usual goals for addressing a Recession are to create more jobs and more spending. However the economic problem caused by the pandemic is not too few jobs, but essentially too few workers, in the sense that the jobs are still there, but many workers are not able to perform those jobs - in some cases because that are actually sick, but in many more cases because a societal lockdown prevents them from leaving their homes to travel to a job. So the idea of creating more jobs to address the economic crisis of the pandemic is simply meaningless.

As to spending, it will generally decline greatly during the pandemic. Other than food and rent, most purchases will be put on hold for the duration. Why would anyone even think of buying a new home or car or fancy clothes when they are in lockdown at home? All restaurants and all retail stores other than food and medicine will likely be closed. Nothing, and certainly not lower interest rates, will (or should) cause people to spend beyond the basics of survival.

What the pandemic WILL REQUIRE is that the government provide sufficient immediate cash to everyone to make up for the lack of a regular paycheck. 

We need to simply forget about the usual metrics like "Recession," and just focus on surviving both medically and economically during the pandemic.