Privacy not found!

Peep The All Seeing Spy EyeTrump demands secrecy himself but you cannot use the Internet with any privacy. To add insult to injury, every major company in any ties to the Internet are selling or going to be selling information about you.

Congress voted to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules on March 28.  President Trump signed the legislation (SR Res 34) April 3rd, to take the regulations off the books and prevent future privacy rules.

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “the only people in the United States who want less Internet privacy are CEOs and lobbyists for giant telecom companies who want to rake in money by spying on all of us and selling the private details of our lives to marketing companies.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said “It is worth remembering that the FCC’s own overreach created the problem we are facing today. Until 2015, the Federal Trade Commission was protecting consumers very effectively, policing every online company’s privacy practices consistently and initiating numerous enforcement actions. However, two years ago, the FCC stripped the FTC of its authority over Internet service providers. At the time, I strongly opposed usurping the FTC, and the FCC’s struggles to address the privacy issue over the past couple of years (along with its refusal to recognize consumers’ uniform expectation of privacy) has only strengthened that view.”

The FTC’s Privacy Guidelines seem to cover criminal acts with your data or very fragmented rules about using your data.  Rules about how AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon use and sell your data seem to be governed by the “Privacy” contract (3000 words) that you forced to sign before you can get service.  If you have every read one, you will find that they allow the company to do just about anything with your data and change the contract at anytime.

Big Data cartoonCollecting, using, and selling your data has become a huge growth industry benignly called Big Data.  This industry collects, analyzes, and extracts value (make money).  Facebook is a database marketing company, posing as a social networking service, that eliminated the need for data collection and data entry by convincing 1.86 billion+ people to enter lots of data about themselves.

Donald Trump, Still A Loser!

You lost $916,000,000 in 1 year! You are the biggest loser!  Business has it’s ups and downs, but claiming you are the best because you can be a success while losing money and not paying people that work for you makes you a narcissist, not a successful business person.

I can only assume that you will fix the loopholes (as you stated) by plugging all the ones for lower income people (less than a billion dollars).  At the same time, expanding the loopholes for billionaires?

You have shown lots of people how to lose money at several Trump businesses, like the Trump University and Trump Entertainment Resorts.  The German government believes that a Trump presidency would result in a ravaged U.S. economy, expanding by less than expected by $1,000,000,000,000 (trillion) by 2021.  So you would Make America Great Again by making U.S. citizens the world’s biggest losers!

Why no economic boom?

The current economic conditions in the United States has disappointed many in the government and business sectors.

Our current conditions have been decades in the making and business needs to shoulder most of the blame.  In the 1980s, business started out-sourcing and off-shoring, that reduced employment in manufacturing and information technology industries.  This gutted the middle class that had been the economic engine in the U.S. since World War II.

After that blow to the economy, the housing crisis hit reducing the largest asset of the middle class.  Meanwhile the top 1% gave themselves raises for “managing” their business so well.

In the meantime, corporate America’s cash hoard has grown to record levels.  Moody’s Investors Service reported in 2013:

The US non-financial companies that Moody’s rates held $1.45 trillion in cash at the end of 2012, up 10% from the record level of $1.32 trillion at the end of 2011…. Currently leading the pack with the most cash are Apple, Microsoft, Google, Pfizer, and Cisco. These five companies have $347 billion or 24% of the total non-financial corporate cash balances. This amount is up from $278 billion or 21% for the top five in 2011.

While they sit on piles of cash, they are waiting to hire, invest, and expand; for the consumer to spend.  The same consumer that they fired, hired at reduced wages or part-time; and whose income has not been growing with the economy.

GDP/Income Graph
GDP per capita vs. real median household income

This chart shows how U.S. economic growth is not translating to higher family incomes.  The term “real” means the figures are adjusted for inflation.  U.S. real GDP per capita, a measure of average total income per person, has increased since 1999 while the real median income per household has been flat, indicating a trend of greater income inequality.

It is up to the large American corporations and the wealthier 1% to start spending and keep spending until America booms again!

A Good Day for Internet Users!

Today, the FCC adopted strong legal protections for network neutrality that will yield civic, social and economic benefits for U.S. citizens.  The FCC issued a statement which said in part:

Today, the Commission—once and for all—enacts strong, sustainable rules, grounded in multiple sources of legal authority, to ensure that Americans reap the economic, social, and civic benefits of an Open Internet today and into the future. These new rules are guided by three principles: America’s broadband networks must be fast, fair and open—principles shared by the overwhelming majority of the nearly 4 million commenters who participated in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding.

The details can be view on the FCC web site at http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-strong-sustainable-rules-protect-open-internet

Comcast Failing Big!

As Comcast grows, their customer service seems to be getting worse.  This morning I turned on the TV to see the latest business news.  I usually watch Bloomberg as CNBC has gotten too political.  Something had changed!

There seemed to be different hosts.  Where was Betty Liu?  And the hosts seemed more political.  Then I realized I was watching Fox News, the propaganda channel of the 1%.  I hit my Bloomberg button on my third-party remote and again I got Fox News.  I looked at the on-screen guide and no Bloomberg channel was shown.  So I logged into Comcast’s web site to see if the channel line-up had changed.  Comcast’s channel line-up showed Bloomberg on channel 739, right where I had been watching it for several years.

Comcast Channel Line-up

So I called Comcast’s phone support.  After yelling at the IVR operator to forward me to a human for 3 minutes, I got connected to Paul (name changed). He listen to my problem and checked the line-up for my area and said “Bloomberg should be on channel 739.” He said he would remotely reset my cable DVR box and that might fix the problem after about 30 minutes.

While I was waiting for that box to reset, I checked my bedroom HD box to see if it had the same problem.  There was no Bloomberg on channel 739!  In fact, there was no channel 739, so the box went to the next available channel, Fox News.  While contemplating spending another 30 minutes trying to get to a human that could reset my cable box, I scanned around to see if other channels were missing.  And there on channel 747 was Bloomberg News HD!  Apparently hiding from everyone, including Comcast.

Comcast does not seem to know their head from their headend!  Someone moved the channel and the website and customer service knew nothing about it.  Since they moved the Science Channel to a higher tier, Comcast has been on my get-rid list.  Maybe it’s time to dump them for the Dish!

Are Free Markets Really Free?

Some people are demanding free markets to help the economy recover from the Great Recession.  Republicans and Libertarians maintain there needs to be less government regulation.  Free markets helped started the Great Recession and it has not ended!

The banking industry got their free market wish granted when Bill Clinton signed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, AKA the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, into law.  This removed regulation that prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company.  The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded that

  1. the financial crisis was avoidable;
  2. the widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets;
  3. the dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions were a key cause of this crisis;
  4. a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency put the financial system on a collision course with crisis;
  5. collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization pipeline lit and spread the flame of contagion and crisis;
  6. over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this crisis;
  7. the failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction.

To read the details of the report, download the official government PDF and make up your own mind.  My opinion is that laws and regulations that had protected us since 1933 were removed to create a free market.  This market crisis was not free and we are still paying for it! Laws and regulations are made to protect citizens’ lives and fortunes. Removing the laws that are working to that end allows people (and certain large corporations) to rob us blind.

As early as 1999 I was wondering how “mortgage companies” could loan out big sums of money to people that only had to show a drivers license.  When I heard about credit default swaps in 2007 and how they eliminated risk in risky mortgages, I could not see that could be the case in all situations.  When I tried to talk about these issues and my concerns, I was told to just refinance and keep quiet.  What I did not realize is that all that risk was being transferred to the citizens of the world and the biggest financial crisis in my lifetime was about to begin.  I doubt that the organizations that benefited from this crisis will every be held fully accountable, but I will not be silent when I see pending doom in the future.

Update 11/24/2014

It appears that the economy is recovering, but slowly.  Of course the conservatives are blaming President Obama because politically they cannot do anything else except to act defensively.  Big business leaders are blaming the federal government when they were the ones that gutted the middle class by moving middle class jobs off shore.  That has helped them to capture a greater share of overall income from the middle and lower income levels since 1967!

To Big To Fail?

We are the 99%If a company is to big to fail then it needs to be managed for the benefit of all of us (the 100%) and not for the benefit of the shareholders or top management.

If the public must subsidize a business to prevent it’s failing because it will cause catastrophic impact on all of us (the public), then the public needs to sit on the board of that company to make sure they do not fail.  Another option is to nationalize these businesses for the benefit of everyone.  I am not in favor of this option, because the U.S. Congress cannot seem to manage themselves or our country.  But there are many examples of non-profit companies, with no shareholders, managing water, electric, and phone services very well, for the benefit of their customers.

I am not advocating that the government is directly involved with management of a business, but the government makes rules that provide access to a businesses information and governance.  This public access could be accomplished in several ways: board seats, public notice of future plans, rules specific to a industry or business area.

As the US subprime mortgage crisis of 2007 showed, industry practices that might be OK on a limited basis can be devastating when practiced industry-wide.  This is the result of a free market behaving badly!

Global Post rails against privacy!?

I was surfing my news feeds and ran across this post on the Global Post that gave me pause.  Here is a quote from their site with emphasis added.

The letter was published a day before House Judiciary committee members will debate on the Stop Online Privacy Act introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.). Although Smith’s bill has attracted tons of support from media firms and the Hollywood industry, web companies and public interest groups strong oppose it, the Washington Post reported.

SOPA aims to cut the amount of pirated content online and would give content owners and the US government the power to request court orders to shut down websites associated with piracy, the BBC reported. The bill also aims to stop online ad networks and payment processors from doing business with foreign websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.

I know Mark Zuckerberg thinks privacy is over, but Sergey Brin of Google, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Elon Musk of PayPal (EBay), Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia?  Apparently they were opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act introduced by Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), which is very different.  And even Mark Zuckerberg is not as open as he wants you to be!

Apparently the editors and fact-checkers at the Global Post are out for the holidays.  Happy New Year!