Arch Stanton Guest Posting: Teen Vogue Takes On “Capitalism”

Earlier this week I stumbled across a primer on “capitalism” by beacon of critical economic journalism, the Wall Street Journal…the Economist…Teen Vogue (https://www.teenvogue.com/story/what-capitalism-is). Yes, Teen Vogue is now branching out from “Cardi B’s Fashion Nova Collection”, “5 Hottest Prom Trends”, “Beginner’s Guide to Coachella”, and “Your Weekly Horoscope” (I swear these are all currently on their front page) to instead tackle THE REAL ISSUES, like capitalism versus competing methods of economic systems, despite our Dear Reagan having concluded this debate when he karate kicked the Berlin Wall down. Seeing this blasphemy being forced fed to me and our nation’s youth (really, one in the same), I had to take a look at this bullshit. You’re not going to believe this, but it’s not very good, poorly researched, and of questionable journalistic integrity. Let’s review some of the more pertinent sections:
“Capitalism is defined as an economic system in which a country’s trade, industry, and profits are controlled by private companies, instead of by the people whose time and labor powers those companies.”
This third-grade-presentation-ass introduction includes a hyperlink to merriam-webster.com, and already has misattributed the quote. Per the hyperlink, capitalism is defined as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market”. Hmm. That seems a bit less biased than the one our revered author Kim Kelly manufactured. One sentence in and we have identified a fabricated definition and the writer’s biased opinion. Certainly this will improve!
“The United States and many other nations around the world are capitalist countries, but capitalism is not the only economic system available; throughout history, other countries have embraced other systems, like socialism or communism…”
Interesting how she chose to refer to these other systems in the past tense.
“CNN recently reported that 66% of people between the ages of 21 and 32 have nothing saved for retirement.”
This CNN (FAKE NEWS) article cites a study completed based on 2014 Census data, or, shortly after the Great Recession, so the statistics are dubious. With one Google search, conflicting information was identified, including the New York Times saying Millennials save more consistently than previous generations (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/business/retirement/millennials-retirement-saving.html) and Fortune stating 1 in 6 Millennials already have over $100,000.00 invested for retirement (http://fortune.com/2018/01/24/millennials-saving-money/) and further stating Millennials have shown to be more rigorous in investment planning than their parents. Again, this was ONE search before we disproved this notion.
“The millennials Salon spoke to expect to see a grand societal shift in their lifetime, either toward socialism — a political and economic system in which the means of production are collectively and equally owned by everyone — or toward a sort of dystopian Mad Max nightmare in which resources have dwindled, rich plutocrats own everything, and ordinary people need to band together in small, autonomous communities to survive.”
Lots to unpack here! The shift towards socialism is a very fair and understandable point to consider. As many capitalist nations continue to expand social programs in order to care for their poorest and most disadvantaged, there is a legitimate discussion to be had here. For the record – I am not arguing against these programs. But the thought of shifting towards ever-growing government agencies responsible for my well-being… isn’t this more of a reason to save and fend for yourself?
And the second part – whooo boy! If Mad Max manifests itself in this world, all the Baby Boomers will be dead in a month, and the rest of us will be hanging out at Burning Man Plus.
“…socialism has become increasingly popular among young people in the past several years, following Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders’s underdog run for president and the authoritarian creep of the ultra-capitalist, anti-socialist Trump regime.”
Oh, so young people are just getting into socialism the last few years? Not Baby Boomers in the free-love era of the 60’s? Bernie was popular for the same reason Donald Trump was – he wasn’t Hillary Clinton (and the free college for everyone thing too, people seemed to like that). I don’t even know where to begin an approach on “authoritarian creep” and “ultra-capitalist”, but I can agree with Trump on the anti-socialist thing. A first time for everything!
Hey wait a second — isn’t this article supposed to be defining capitalism? So far we’ve spent three paragraphs with made up definitions and questionable statistics, but I still don’t understand why I’m supposed to hate capitalism! That is the point here, correct? There is still SO MUCH left here.
“You have probably heard the word “capitalist” floating around in the past couple of years…”
You maaaay have heard about capitalism, the agreed-upon best approach by countries and economists around the planet to managing a global economy, or in, ya know, middle school, since that is the target demographic for this article. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather look at pictures of ‘nose art’?” (again, a real article).
“The origins of capitalism are complicated, and stretch back to the 16th century, when the British systems of power largely collapsed after the Black Death, which was a deadly plague that killed off up to 60% of Europe’s entire population. A newly formed class of merchants began trade with foreign countries, and this newfound demand for exports hurt local economies and began to dictate overall production and pricing of goods. It also led to the spread of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism.”
Very nuanced, this Kim Kelly! I wonder what else we can irrationally extrapolate? Let’s see… humans domesticating animals has led to the Middle Eastern crisis. Prove me wrong. The Treaty of Westphalia has led to the explosion in the popularity of the Fast and Furious franchise. The Taco Bell I had last night led to the diarrhea currently plaguing me. Okay maybe the last one is true.
Kelly notably stands up for “local economies” of the Middle Ages. I imagine these local economies were basically John Cleese dressed as a peasant woman in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” stacking mud. At the direction we’re heading, we can logically expect the writer to conclude with a defense of Chinese tariffs, deconstructing NAFTA, and #MAGA since she is so concerned with “local economies”. Remember, we’re free to conclude anything we want!
“The death of feudalism — a hierarchical system often seen as oppressive that kept poor people bonded to their masters’ land…”
Feudalism wasn’t so much “oppressive” as “you have a sword, and all these people keep trying to kill me and rape my wife – if I work for you, will you use your sword?”. History can be fun!
“By the 18th century, England had converted into an industrial nation, and the dawn of the Industrial Revolution saw an explosion of manufacturing overtake the island. It is within those smoky factories and flammable textile mills that our modern idea of capitalism — and the opposition to it — began to fully flourish.”
People were VERY MAD about having more individual freedom and the ability to earn higher wages! Why you could say they were furious they didn’t have to, uhh, stack mud (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx7zI1W_5JI).
“A capitalist nation is dominated by the free market, which is an economic system in which both prices and production are dictated by corporations and private companies in competition with one another, and places a heavy focus on private property, economic growth, freedom of choice, and limited government intervention.”
Are you guys as turned on as I am right now?
“Generally, those to the right of the political spectrum tend to be pro-capitalist; those on the left veer toward anti-capitalism.”
Damn! She makes a great point here that could never be assailed. People on the left are rarely interested in the continuation of capitalism. People like Hillary and Bill Clinton (estimated net worth: $111 million), John Kerry ($200 million), Al Gore ($200 million), the Kennedy Family ($163 million), Diane Feinstein ($53 million), and Nancy Pelosi ($30 million) all have stridently fought against capitalism!
“How does capitalism impact people? The kind of impact that capitalism has on your life depends on whether you’re a worker or a boss.”
No fucking shit.
“The more profits your company brings in, the more resources you have to share with your workers, which theoretically improves everyone’s standard of living.”
I may be wrong (note – never the case) – but was that something POSITIVE about capitalism?!?
“The problem is that many capitalist bosses aren’t great at sharing the wealth, which is why one of the major critiques of capitalism is that it is a huge driver of inequality, both social and economic.”
Ah, shit.
Notably absent of the effects of capitalism are: global decrease in poverty, infant mortality, large-scale conflicts, and global increase in vaccinations, life spans, health, education, literacy, democracy, which has had a ripple effect in countless other aspects. Were these deemed not important, or did the University of Phoenix journalism degree make it difficult for you to find these?
“They view it as the only sensible way to organize a society, insisting that alternatives like socialism, communism, or anarchism are doomed to fail.”
I love this. “Guys if only communism was given a fair chance! Anarchy has never been truly attempted by any modern government!” Unrelated, but I was recently blocked on Twitter by @SocialistParty after responding to a tweet about how USSR was never truly socialist because Stalin was not a true believer with “are you sure that’s THE ONLY reason?”
“They also believe that the competition between companies benefits consumers by making products more affordable…”
Have you noticed any positives brought about by capitalism are phrased as unfounded opinions whereas the negatives are firmly stated as beyond reproach? But again, we’re critiquing someone free-lancing politics for Teen Vogue, so what did you expect?
“Anti-capitalists view capitalism as an inhuman, anti-democratic, unsustainable, deeply exploitative system that must be dismantled.”
This is cited with a link to counterpunch.org. If you click to their homepage, the current trending article is, “When Zionism Rubs Up Against Reality”. I don’t believe I need to further prove the validity of this statement.
“As German Communist philosopher and economist Karl Marx — perhaps the most famous opponent of capitalism in history…”
…until Bernie showed up mumbling like Steinbrenner from Seinfeld.
“The essential anti-capitalist argument is that “the hallmark of capitalism is poverty in the midst of plenty.””
This quote is attributed to Jacobin magazine. If you were hungover staring at the girl sitting in front of you during your European History class (note – definitely not a biographical circumstance), Jacobins were a party during the French Revolution who turned a noble revolution into the Reign of Terror where they got reeeeeal flippant about the use of guillotines. Again, I don’t think we need to spend more time addressing the credibility here.
Unrelated, but when people talk about bloodthirsty monsters from history, we always hear Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, but everyone always leaves out Robespierre. I got you buddy, you and your estimated 16,500 executions in Paris in less than a year.
“Capitalism and socialism are generally seen as polar opposites, and discussions of either system are often framed as in opposition to the other. There are many forms of socialism, but at its root, socialism is an economic system in which a whole community — not just bosses or private companies — control the means of production equally. It assumes that people are naturally cooperative.”
Our writer has clearly never tried to get a drink at a busy bar on a Saturday night or been stabbed in a Walmart parking lot on Black Friday.
“In a capitalist country, the focus is on profits over anything else; in a socialist country, the public is seen to be more important, and social welfare is a major priority.”
This is the final paragraph. She prattles on a bit about Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands and how well socialism has worked for them. And – FINALLY – China and the Soviet Union (as well as Cuba) are addressed. Granted, that’s it. No mention how sensationally the Soviet Union failed, no mention how China, despite being the largest socialist country in history has far greater economic disparity than the US (https://www.ft.com/content/3c521faa-baa6-11e5-a7cc-280dfe875e28), and Cuba, who only suffered half a century of dictatorship and public executions as a result of their shift to socialism.
So what was the point of this article being on Teen Vogue? Aside from “no one else would publish it” (YES I KNOW I’M BITCHING ON A BLOG WHATEVER), it really only exists to pander to easily manipulable teenage girls into… “The RuPaul Drag Race Queen Are All “Team Eureka’s Knee”” – I GOTTA read this hold on.
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Arch Stanton Guest Posting: Mark Zuckerberg vs. Congress

As I am sure you are aware, America’s vengeful nerd king faced off against a board of Senators who we were very pleased were able to avoid asking about “how to download the wifi” or to explain what memes were. The purpose of this hearing was… to, ahh… well, it was never made abundantly clear. I guess the Cambridge Analytica stuff? Don’t fret, because our Senators made sure to really rack Zuckerberg over the coals by giving him the authentic Facebook experience — a confused cluster of septuagenarians complaining about things they don’t completely understand. At one point, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS, 66 years old) became perplexed after Zuck mentioned using cookies to track Facebook users. “Oatmeal cookies, I hope, because this Fixodent has not been living up to the hype promised to during “Murphy Brown” reruns,” the Senator attempted to follow up.
Zuckerberg also had to explain how Facebook makes money (“we run ads”) and had to stave off a cranky Bill Nelson (D-FL, 75 years old) who complained that Facebook was showing him ads for chocolate BUT NOT THE KIND HE LIKED MR. ZUCKERBERG HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS. As embarrassing a display this was by a group of technologically illiterate Baby Boomers, we still should applaud how far we’ve come since Ted Stevens (R-AK, 83 years old at the time of the following comment) referred to the internet as a series of tubes. I have a hunch this piss-poor line of question was some combination of ignorance and sympathy for a company responsible for $11,510,000.00 of lobbying in 2017 and at least $3,100,000.00 in the first quarter of 2018 (https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000033563). Democracy is great!
During this hearing, everyone’s favorite-birthday-reminder-tool and Farmville-venue’s stock price closed up 4.5% at $165.04 for the stock’s largest rally since the Cambridge Analytica news broke; if you were curious what the markets thought of the hearing, they suddenly remembered the person largely responsible for the sophistication of the modern internet is facing off against a panel of senile poor people.  Lest we remember this hearing as a humiliating expose for the lack of knowledge by the people running almost every aspect of our lives, let’s hit some of the other pertinent items from the Senate Apple Care session:
– Zuck admitted Facebook personnel had been working with Mueller in response to claims of Russian tampering.
– We learned the value of constant monitoring and monetization of your identity is worth roughly $12 to Facebook (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pFX2P7JLwA). Oh wait, our Senators didn’t touch on that.
– We undercovered how Facebook dredges your phone whether you give them person or not in order to find everyone you’ve ever met (https://gizmodo.com/how-facebook-figures-out-everyone-youve-ever-met-1819822691). Wait, we didn’t get there either.
–  We learned Facebook uses shady and aggressive tactics to lure inactive users back, and does not delete their data even if you disconnect completely from the service (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-01-31/facebook-really-wants-you-to-come-back). Whoops that didn’t get addressed either. I’m starting to think this was a waste of everyone’s time!
– Facebook told us how it is bad for your mental health (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/15/facebook-just-admitted-that-using-facebook-can-be-bad-for-you.html) and answered for internal emails stating their growth-at-all-cost model with the direct line, “maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.” (https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanmac/growth-at-any-cost-top-facebook-executive-defended-data?utm_term=.mpkooznj3l#.cdYjjvJAmk). No? Didn’t touch that one either?
– They said they would at least be developing software capable of identifying fake news and hate speech in the next five to ten years, at which point that software will be grossly outdated. Was Zuckerberg pressed on who is the arbiter of “fake news” or “hate speech” (which, just a polite reminder, is still protected under the First Amendment as free speech).
Geez it looks like the most-punchable-face in Silicon Valley got out of this hearing scot-free. Just kidding! Look at the little baby-man sitting in his big-boy seat!
Zuck

Article Recommendation from Arch Stanton: $1,500 Sandwich Illustrates How Exchange Raises Living Standards

Great article from this blog on the economics of free trade. While I typically avoid blogs given they’re really just a mouthpiece for gutless, nameless bitchers and moaners, this article was different. But before I share the article, here’s a piece of produce from my local grocer:

Took this ages ago. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while… I had to shift it from its prior location – it was bruising the plums. Reminds me, Toys ‘R’ Us is liquidating. Any sell-side bankers want to pitch this to Brazzers or Dogfart? If Kids ‘R’ Us goes up for sale, we could sell it to Apple as an upstream vertical integration play – the name perfectly bespeaks their Chinese supplier base.

And the article:

$1,500 Sandwich Illustrates How Exchange Raises Living Standards

What would life be like without exchange or trade? Recently, a man decided to make a sandwich from scratch. He grew the vegetables, gathered salt from seawater, milked a cow, turned the milk into cheese, pickled a cucumber in a jar, ground his own flour from wheat to make the bread, collected his own honey, and personally killed a chicken for its meat. This month, he published the results of his endeavor in an enlightening video: making a sandwich entirely by himself cost him 6 months of his life and set him back $1,500.

(It should be noted that he used air transportation to get to the ocean to gather salt. If he had taken it upon himself to learn to build and fly a plane, then his endeavor would have proved impossible).

The inefficiency of making even something as humble as a sandwich by oneself, without the benefits of market exchange, is simply mind-boggling. There was a time when everyone grew their own food and made their own clothes.  It was a time of unimaginable poverty and labor without rest.

The greater the number of people involved in exchange, the more beneficial the process becomes. This morning, thanks to international trade, I am drinking coffee grown in Latin America, viewing a computer screen with eyeglasses made in Europe, and typing this blog post on a keyboard made in Asia. Fortunately, freedom to trade internationally has improved, on average, around the world. Increased trade has helped raise living standards and decrease global poverty.

However, the recent trend in the United States is less positive. If trade protectionist politicians, like Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right, have their way, then U.S. freedom to trade internationally may deteriorate further. They put down trade by claiming that it harms the U.S. economy and destroys jobs. Yet, there is a widespread agreement among economists that free trade is key to prosperity.

This morning, as you drink your coffee, take a moment to consider where it comes from. You probably would not be drinking it right now if it were not for trade. This video elegantly draws attention to the myriad ways in which the exchange of goods and services across national borders touches lives and helps raise living standards. Almost everything you use is the product of a complex web of human cooperation, often extending beyond your country. Even something as simple as a bag of groceries or a pencil is the end result of a “symphony of human activity that spans the globe.”

Article: United Replaces Small Worker Bonuses With Chance to Win $100,000

This article is absolutely gold, GOLD JERRY! How on Trump’s green Earth is United getting away with this shenanigan? The article, United Replaces Small Worker Bonuses With Chance to Win $100,000, is from Bloomberg. Article below:

United Continental Holdings Inc. is overhauling an incentive program to give employees a chance to win $100,000, a luxury car or a swanky vacation. One union leader says his membership would rather have a shot at bonuses that are far, far smaller — but also a much surer thing.

Under the new approach, one lucky winner will take home the six-figure cash prize every quarter, with as many as 10 people getting Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans or $40,000 each, President Scott Kirby said in a memo to employees Friday. The program includes smaller awards as well. Workers need perfect attendance to participate. And the airline has to hit its performance targets.

“We believe that this new program will build excitement and a sense of accomplishment as we continue to set all-time operational records that result in an experience that our customers value,” Erin Benson, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based carrier, said in an email.

The prize drawings are a sharp break from the past, when the airline would pay broad-based employee bonuses of as much as $300 a quarter if it hit certain on-time operational measurements, said Craig Symons, president of United’s flight dispatchers union. For some employees, he said, a chance at a new Mercedes apparently isn’t as nice as a small-but-steady stream of cold, hard cash.

“I think everybody really likes Scott Kirby’s ‘If you’re not first, you’re last’ competitiveness,” Symons said. “We all want to win, but this program doesn’t encourage a team approach to winning. No team-oriented reward should be dictated by lottery.”

Everyone Always Says That Our Generation Doesn’t Want to Make Anything…

…that we’re entitled, refuse the threat of hard labor, and are merely paper-pushers looking to make the next quick buck without actually producing anything.

Bullshit. That’s a Grade-A load of malarkey. That sort of nonsense is on par with Chelsea Manning kicking off its political campaign with theme song Born This Way by Lady Ga-gaaa. I have no qualms with rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. In fact, I have every intention of making the world’s first Quintuple Levered, Rolling Ten-Year Forward-Contract ETF based on a price-weighted, hourly-rebalanced, ever changing basket of Venezuelan-based cryptocurrencies.

And sort of like my caught-in-limbo friend R. Batory, this ETF may seem a bit ar-bitrary. And just like the threat of a proliferation of overly complex Venezuelan cryptocurrency ETFs, having too many FRA Deputy Administrators could be problematic, just Juan is good enough.

And now, I give you the greatest cereal you’ll ever eat again:

Well. Second only to Trix, but we all know how that turns out:

Random Bidtits (2/5/2018)

Fuck the Patriots, ya heard? Separately. How are my boys doing out there in these turbulent markets? Enjoying some volatility? I know it’s a rollercoaster but as my true finance boys know, you’ve got to speculate to accumulate.

And now, some photos to enjoy:

I hope everyone enjoyed watching the Patriots stumble on the national stage as much as I did. Great show. As was the SOTU address! Who else got face paint and streamers to watch the address? I was rocking the face paint pretty hard but it was still rather tame compared to Melania’s. Also, how do I reconcile Donny T-zone’s rhetoric that 1) he’s saving the manufacturing industry, while at the same time in his personal life, 2) he’s focused on supporting the service industry ala Stormy Daniels? Eh, I get it, and am actually cool with him focusing on the services sector. The last time he actually made something, it was the Trump children. And I do NOT, need another helping of that heap of gelled ruffians. Donald Jr, Eric, Barron, Ivanka? Ugh. And Tiffany?!? She looks like a life-long boxer. Or boxer’s wife in the case of Mike Tyson.

Ellen Pao.

And finally, does anyone else have someone in their life who sends text messages or leaves voicemails with “call me, I have something to tell you” with literally NO ADDITIONAL DETAIL?!? This bullshit has to end. This is what anarchy looks like, people.

Well, I’m back to watching the markets open in Japan, China, and Best Korea.

Song of the Day (1/25/2018)

Today’s song of the day is Listen by Dave Eakin and Steve Hoke. It’s a lovely, timeless little ditty with a strong message.

Separately, to my homies in the tech and finance worlds, I came across this article and accompanying photo and it’s absolutely priceless:

It’s clear to me that none of the three gentlemen accompanying our Clementine-in-Chief wants to be there. Especially Tim Cook, who you can tell is at the edge of his seat, squirming on his chocolate starfish. Tim wants nothing to do with the American Technology Council, although I’m guessing that wouldn’t be the case if Mueller probed them too.

And finally, Japan’s Central Bank is keeping rates low as inflation expectations move sideways: