• A PUBLIC COMPANY HAS MANY PRESUMED PURPOSES – building products & markets, providing jobs for employees, contributing to the community, and certainly providing financial returns to its investors. But in today’s business world, “only the maximization of shareholder’s wealth has become endemic, driving directors and executives to run public firms with a relentless focus on raising stock price. In the quest to ‘unlock shareholder value,’ they sell key assets, fire loyal employees and ruthlessly squeeze the workforce that remains; cut back on product support, customer assistance and research & development; delay replacing outwork and unsafe equipment; shower CEOS with stock options and expensive pay packages to ‘incentivize’ them; and drain cash reserves to pay large dividends & repurchase company shares, leveraging firms until they teeter on the brink of insolvency.” At least one country’s citizens are fed up enough to take action: The Swiss have recently “voted overwhelmingly to ban lavish signing bonuses & ‘golden parachute’ payouts to corporate CEOs, and give shareholders a binding vote each year on executive pay.” It’s a start. [THE INTELLIGENT OPTIMIST – Jan/Feb 13]
  • AUSTRALIA’S PRISION SYSTEM BOASTS “the first jail designed by do-gooders, where prisoners are treated not as criminals but as ‘customers,’ and guards are reinvented as service providers.” Amenities include five-bedroom coed cottages, open computer access, and absence of searches or drug testing after receiving visitors. Unsurprisingly, the “utterly bonkers system has produced… pregnancy (despite free condoms give to inmates), an internet child=pornography ring, and rampant drug use.” But progressive focus remains on “asking them nicely… and inmates not getting their feelings hurt,” as guards are trained through ‘anti-bullying’ seminars. [THE WEEK – Mar 8, 13]
  • “THE IMMEDIATE FINANCIAL CRISIS WE ARE LIVING THROUGH was precipitated in the 1990s by the dot-com boom and its bust, after which policymakers in Washington and the Federal Reserve believed that the public was unwilling to accept the full-blown, business cycle recession and have been seeking to use monetary policy to correct a string of fiscal and regulatory missteps… by injecting massive amounts of liquidity into the banking system to keep the private sector afloat.” Unfortunately, the law of ‘unintended consequences’ certainly applies to ‘easy fixes,’ and current uncertainty is a direct result of “several traps that continue to prevent the economy from recovering.” The biggest interrelated factors all stem from the eventually certain rise in interest rates, which have been kept artificially low by the Fed’s policies of intervention and money creation: (1) “During periods of excessive debt loads, the nation has averaged 51⁄2 percent inflation rates; emerging inflation means interest rates have to rise; (2) Rising interest “could cause a second housing crisis and another economic collapse… including collapse in the bond markets”; (3) Rising rates also dramatically impact the massive debt load and budget deficits – if bond costs only rise above the traditional 4% level, “the federal government would be paying around a trillion dollars a year just to cover interest.” There’s no realistic ‘easy fix’ and possibly no answer short of eventually defaulting. [FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT – Feb 13]
  • A TRULY AMAZING CALIFORNIA LAND SCAM apparently involves farmland being acquired by the Air Quality Resources Board – a California agency incorporated in Delaware, where secrecy of all financial transactions is protected and corporations are “explicitly immune for legislative oversight”. Under provisions of Cap & Trade regulations, landowners can be paid for not developing land or using it for agriculture, theoretically saving the earth from carbon emissions. AQMD, bullying with threat of taxation, use regulations, emissions penalties, etc. has evidently been acquiring portions of farmland at a discount, with outside investor participation, then reselling for industrial usage (along with the pollution credits) and utilizing its share of the profits to create “animal highways” – all part of a program to ultimately reduce automobile usage. Check this out: http://www.dickmorris.com/the-great-democratic-california-land- scandal-dick-morris-tv-lunch-alert/utm_source=dmreports&utm_medium=dmreports&utm_campaign=dmreports
  • THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Such a surprise! “The Los Angeles City budget deficit magically shrunk by more than half” after voters turned down a half-cent sales tax increase in last week’s election. Mayor Villaraigosa responded to press inquiries that “it turns out the deficit may be less than $100 million, instead of the $216 million deficit voters were told the city was facing prior to the vote… due to an improving economy.”

    A tangible example of true talent: Little Richard at age 4: http://www.wimp.com/oldschoolpage1image37720 page1image37880 page1image38040