Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On occupying Wall Street

I don't know if this is the best approach.  We have to think out very carefully what it is we want changed in our financial institutions and propose an alternative structure.  Just protesting does not give an alternative.  Just overthrowing a structure and leaving nothing in its place leaves chaos

There are several points that I think are important.

1. Computerized trading that makes automatic trades based on mathematical trends in the market should be illegal.
2. There should be no hedge funds that are not subject to governmental oversight and hedge fund managers should not be able to take investor funds without the same controls that are in place at brokerage firms like Merrill Lynch
3. There need to be stricter regulations on the trading of various instruments, especially petroleum futures and derivatives based on real estate mortgages
4. no one should be able to borrow money, buy up the public stock of a profitable company, and the loot the company to pay off the loan (thereby destroying lots of jobs)
5. imports of goods and services should be regulated more to make sure that the imported goods and services are not artificially low in price due to: unfair or unsafe working conditions *or* currency exchange rates that do not reflect the real values of currencies.  (which can be checked by the price of a Big Mac, for instance, in the various countries)
6. Executive pay at corporations needs to be regulated so that executives do not abuse their positions of power to loot company assets and stockholder initiatives need to be binding rather than advisory on the board of directors

This is going to require some thought and careful drafting of legislation.  Just protesting is going to accomplish nothing or worse than nothing.  If there is a reasonable alternative, we might have a chance of doing something constructive.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

regarding taxing fats -- a la les danois

The Danish law is entirely misconceived.  Those who propose that the US might imitate this measure must be roundly denounced.

Fat is not the evil that is so often depicted.  Fat is an essential nutrient.  Cholesterol is in every cell membrane of every cell in your body.  Fat is crucial in the formation of the myelin sheaths around your nerves.  Fat is used in the digestion of carbs.  Cholesterol is critical in brain development of fetuses.  Children under 2 should get at least half their calories from fat.  There are suspicions that people with certain brain disorders ought particularly to have fat and cholesterol, e.g. people with autistic spectrum disorders.  Cholesterol has been connected with preventing cancer.

Low fat diets were never supported by any medical evidence whatsoever.   They are a complete myth.  Low fat diets are partially responsible for the current obesity crisis.  People who try low fat diets end up bingeing on fat, because they are deprived of an essential nutrient.  This starts a yo-yo diet cycle, with every bounce taking the victim higher.

This tax is completely misconceived and very unhealthy.

update: 11/14/12

I was happy to see that this legislation was ultimately eliminated in Denmark.  Yay!