Posted by: sweeneyblog | March 20, 2015

Friday Odds and Ends: Kathy Exposes, Heather Responds and $15 Fights On

Hello Loyal Readers,

It’s that time for another batch of Friday Odds and Ends, all the news that’s fit to print, but not a big enough story to justify its own post. Don’t worry, I know you’ve already skipped ahead to the next paragraph where I hide the first story. It’s okay, I understand. For those still reading the intro, happy Ostara to all my fellow pagans out there and happy Spring Equinox to all the rest.

Kathy Kershner

Kathy Kershner

In the wake of not being appointed to the County Council on Tuesday, Kathy Kershner took to facebook, publishing an email from Councilman Ken Mann where Mann said he would be willing to support her if she promised not to run in 2015. She declined and Mann supported the candidate closer to his values, Satpal Sidhu. Good call.

This story was picked up by the Herald and more hilariously, trumpeted by the coal-PAC SAVEWhatcom. The coal-funded writers there blamed their second favorite boogyman*, Tom Steyer, saying that his hand-picked people denied the “Most Qualified and Conservative Candidate”.

I’m going to spell this out nice and simple for the readers over there at SAVEWhatcom in hopes that it sinks in.

You are not guaranteed a seat on the County Council.

No one is guaranteed a seat on the County Council. Complaining that you aren’t represented is not a valid argument. You need to persuade people why electing someone is a good idea.

Here, try this mental experiment. I live in North Bellingham, yet I am not represented in the State Legislature. No one from my district, the 42nd, shares my values. Do I stomp my foot and demand that they create a special seat just for people in North Bellingham? No. I work hard to try and change people’s mind – to show them that they are not served well by Free Lunch Doug.

Either way, I encourage Kathy Kershner to run for County Council this November against Satpal Sidhu. Both are talented candidates who care deeply about this county and while I don’t agree with Kershner very often, I do believe that everyone should have to compete for their seat.

Heffelmire in Action

Heffelmire in Action (on the right)

Switching gears, remember that State Senator who went on a racist rant in a committee meeting? The one who represents a majority Latino district? His comments drew protests from young community organizer Heather Heffelmire who unfurled a banner in the Senate gallery criticizing him (see right).

Heffelmire is a student at WWU and also their Legislative Liaison, the Associated Students representative responsible for lobbying for their legislative priorities.

The Western Front blasted her protest activities with the alarmist headline “Endangering Carver Funding”, making reference to the much-needed repairs to Carver Gym.

I could not disagree more passionately with the Western Front. When a public official starts using racist terms like when Honeygrove referred to “the negro”, it does not matter if they are writing the budget or not, the public must speak out against offensive behavior.

Heffelmire said it quite eloquently in her response to the Western Front,

I especially knew I had to take action because I have the privilege of having access to Senator Honeyford and to our legislature, something too few people in our state have. I think it’s important that those of us with these positions of power, regardless of what our job title specifies, use our privilege to speak out when others can’t.

The Political Junkie stands with Heather Heffelmire.

Finally, the panic over Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has echoed throughout the conservative media with frantic reports that restaurants were closing in droves. As usual, reality stubbornly refused to comply with conservative’s vision as the Seattle Times found when they actually spoke to restaurant owners.

They thoroughly debunked the claim – so go read their article, it is fantastic and shows that the change in wages will not doom those mom and pop stores, in fact, the extra spending money in customer’s pockets may actually increase business.

That’s it for this week. I will be temporarily out of cell range so commenters, please behave and try to avoid calling each other Hitler for a few days until I can get back and moderate comments. I mean it.

*The conservative’s first favorite boogyman? Lisa McShane or Barack Obama. Or maybe both (photographic proof!)



  1. Riley,

    You do know that boogey (man) is a RACIST term for a black person, so why did you use it with a picture of Barack Obama?

    “The coal-funded writers there blamed their second favorite boogyman*”-the asterisk.

    P. S. i will avoid calling Walter Haugen “Hitler” in your absence.

    No cell phone service in the Twilight Zone, eh?

    • Wayne,
      I was around the term for years and never saw it as “black.” This, from “Wikapedia:
      The word bogey is derived from the Middle English bogge/bugge (also the origin of the word bug), and so is generally thought to be a cognate of the German bögge, böggel-mann (English “Bogeyman”). The word could also be linked to many similar words in other European languages: bogle (Scots), boeman (Dutch), Butzemann (German), busemann (Norwegian), bøhmand (Danish), bòcan, púca, pooka or pookha (Irish), pwca, bwga or bwgan (Welsh), puki (Old Norse), pixie or piskie (Cornish), puck (English), mumus (Hungarian), bogu (Slavonic), buka (Russian, бука), bauk (Serbian), bubulis (Latvian), baubas (Lithuanian (Polish), papão (Portuguese), torbalan (Bulgarian), Μπαμπούλας (Greek), babau (Italian).[2]

      The word bugbear, from bug + bear, suggests that the bogey eating small children takes on the appearance of a bear.[3] The word bugaboo probably arose as an alteration of bugbear.[4]

      • Boogey NOT bogey.

    • Wayne – I have a better mustache than either you or Adolf.

      • Show me.

  2. And Wayne I refuse to call you a horses ass evidence notwithstanding. Nope, not gonna do it.

    • Thanks for your phoney civility Gary.

  3. On the Seattle minimum wage: Good old Henry Ford, not exactly a fan of socialist thinking, insisted on paying top wages to his workers. His reason? He wanted them to be able to buy Fords.

    All those conservatives who howl at the moon over any effort to increase wages really need to take at least an intro-level course in macroeconomics.

    • Good point Arthur. Those of you who are trying to figure out why lower crude oil prices are not stimulating the global economy might want to consider a similar line or reasoning.

      Rather than the popular trope of oversupply of crude worldwide, consider the demand destruction of the rich people hoovering up all the capital and sitting on it. This kills demand for goods, which kills demand for oil. Thus a downward spiral in oil prices.

      We can see how this plays out within the next year as the drill rig count continues to drop and the decline rate for fracking (65-70% in the 1st year) takes care of the oversupply. In other words, this is a testable hypothesis. If oil comes back to $100/bbl when the rig count is down below 500 nationwide, then it is a supply problem. If oil does not rise to above $70/bbl when the rig count is below 500, then it is a demand problem.

      The Baker Hughes drill rig count comes out at 1 pm every Friday. Last week it was at 1,192, down from about 1,600 in December. It is a proxy for capital invested in new oil supply, which is why Wall Street is so hot on it at the moment.

      • Have you noticed Walter, that when empirically and theoretically solid points are made that Wayne seems to “disappear?”

        If anyone’s curious, John Jost at NYU has been studying the “conservative mind” for years and finds precisely this pattern. As soon as coherent counterarguments are made they:

        a. engage the “slur machine”
        b. deny the validity or accuracy of the points
        c. leave the field, refusing to discuss the issue further.

        Jost’s research can be found here:

      • Good one. Thanks for the heads up on Jost.

  4. Thankyou Walter but i am still waiting for the “empirically and theoretically solid points”. I won’t hold my breath.

    • Wayne – Do you have a point here? Face it, your candidate lost and embarrassed herself. You lost face too by running away from substantive points. Just taking cheap shots at people only works with your fellow rightwingers. It doesn’t get you very far in arguments with people who are actually working for a living or working to make the world a better place.

      We are all waiting for your blog, Wayne, where you put the time and effort that Riley does into investigative journalism. Taking cheap shots from the comfort of your armchair doesn’t cut it.

      • “Face it, your candidate lost and embarrassed herself”-AND WHO WOULD THAT BE? Certainly not Kathy Kershner who went Progressive after she was elected on a conservative platform.

        Do you mean by substantive points:

        Sandy Brewer-changing boogey to bogey.

        Walter Haugen-“Wayne – I have a better mustache than either you or Adolf”.

        Gary Smith-“And Wayne I refuse to call you a horses ass evidence notwithstanding. Nope, not gonna do it”.

        I worked for a living for 48 years!

        My “cheap shots” are usually a response to the “cheap shots” of others.

        Riley’s “investigative journalism” is frequently tainted by non-factual statements.

        My blog will be announced when I am ready. This dog wags his own tail.

        “Taking cheap shots from the comfort of your armchair doesn’t cut it”-so I need to buy a tractor and then it will be ok?

      • Thank you Walter. Farber never has a point, he just repeats tired, worn out discredited right-wing (yawn) talking points that have nothing constructive to do with fixing mega-problems such as infrastructure repair that get worse every day. The candidacy of Ted Cruz is a perfect example of the uselessness of the far-right and the damage they continue to do to us. There never seems to be an original or positive thought to be had by their ilk in the Age of the First Black Man in the White House. Their hatred of him is irrational and is seriously damaging our country.

    • See below….

  5. Wayne: I’m staying sane and civil. The empirical record on the effective macroeconomic approach is simple and noncontroversial. A progressive income tax works for the greater good. A strong support system for the poor works for the greater good.

    The reasons are simple. When the wealthy have more money it goes into savings, off-shore banks and the stock market. None of these stimulate growth.

    When the middle- and working-class have more money they spend it. Spending drives production. When production goes up jobs are created. The overall economy recovers. When this happens tax revenues go up and services are improved.

    When unions are stripped of their impact, when unemployment compensation is reduced, when minimum wages go down (relatively speaking) the overall economy suffers.

    This is the theory. It was crafted by Keynes in response to the model introduced by the Austrian school (Mises, Hayek). Few, if any, modern economists doubt its validity. It is, unfortunately, unacknowledged by conservatives for political reasons that have little to do with promoting the overall state of the nation.

    There are myriad reasons why the classical Austrian theory fails. They are largely psychological in nature. We can discuss them any time you wish.

    • -Charity worked quite well historically and wasn’t used by the politicians to get votes.

      -“The empirical record on the effective macroeconomic approach is simple and noncontroversial”-show me some facts.

      -“When unions are stripped of their impact, when unemployment compensation is reduced, when minimum wages go down (relatively speaking) the overall economy suffers-check out Wisconsin.

      -“Few, if any, modern ACADEMIC (who don’t live in the real world) economists doubt its validity”.

      -Keynesian Economics has been a total failure. All it does is create BOOMS and BUSTS, just look at an economic cycle chart for the last 100years. The markets are self-correcting and don’t need tinkering. The most recent example is the last financial crisis which was created by “tinkering” with the mortgage market by the government-SUBPRIME loans.

      2003-2007: U.S. subprime mortgages increased 292%, from $332 billion to $1.3 trillion, due primarily to the private sector entering the mortgage bond market, once an almost exclusive domain of government-sponsored enterprises like Freddie Mac. The Federal Reserve fails to use its supervisory and regulatory authority over banks, mortgage underwriters and other lenders, who abandoned loan standards (employment history, income, down payments, credit rating, assets, property loan-to-value ratio and debt-servicing ability), emphasizing instead lender’s ability to securitize and repackage subprime loans.

      2004-2007: Many financial institutions issued large amounts of debt and invested in mortgage-backed securities (MBS), believing that house prices would continue to rise and that households would keep up on mortgage payments.

      Classical Austrian theory DOES NOT fail, Keynesian theory has always failed.

      • Fascinating. So many things so wrong it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ll just mention one and leave it at that. The role of Freddie and Fanny on the housing boom was minimal. The real problem was the banks peddling mortgages with big “down-the-road” payments that homeowners couldn’t cover and pump and dump games played by realtors. You are correct that a big problem was the lack of government oversight (which most conservatives don’t acknowledge). Greed dulls the mind, like any drug.

        Your history of economic boom and bust cycles, however, is so far off the mark it’s not worth discussing. And surely you know that outside of a few over-the-hill types at Chicago virtually no one is seriously adhering to the Austrian model. The reason is dead simple: the theory is based on rational choice, a commodity not found in our species (see Daniel Kahneman’s and Herb Simon’s research — two psychologists who have won the Nobel in economics).

        But thank you Wayne for trying. It is good to discuss things with a conservative who’s willing to hang in there and argue. It’s appreciated and I apologize for any snarks sent your way in the past.

      • WAYNE:

        “2003-2007: U.S. subprime mortgages increased 292%, from $332 billion to $1.3 trillion, due primarily to the private sector entering the mortgage bond market, [once an almost exclusive domain of government-sponsored enterprises like Freddie Mac].


        “The role of Freddie and Fanny on the housing boom was minimal”.



        “I’ll just mention one and leave it at that. The role of Freddie and Fanny on the housing boom was minimal. The real problem was the banks peddling mortgages with big “down-the-road” payments that homeowners couldn’t cover”.




        “virtually no one is seriously adhering to the Austrian model”.




        “I apologize for any snarks sent your way in the past”.




        “Your history of economic boom and bust cycles, however, is so far off the mark it’s not worth discussing”.


    • The Seattle minimum wage hike is a joke. They’re phasing it in over seven years, by which time inflation will have eaten up most of the raise, and applying it first to companies that already pay well above minimum wage. The nasty part of the law is that franchise owners – often people who are trying to work their way into the middle class – are being held to a different standard than owners of posh restaurants that serve the wealthy at $40 per entrée.

      Add to this the fact that Seattle gouges the poor so severely with regressive taxes, fees, fines and extortion-level rent that even if everyone got $15/hr tomorrow it wouldn’t be much of an improvement. These days in Seattle you can get a lousy one-bedroom apartment in a neighborhood that regularly features drive-by shootings for the bargain price of only $1,600 per month! That’s almost $20,000 a year, folks: about two thirds of your income if you work full-time at $15/hr. All so you can live in a place where you risk strong-arm robbery just walking to the local library (if you want a safe neighborhood, add about $400 to the monthly rent).

      Seattle’s problem isn’t the minimum wage; it’s the fact that beneath the progressive facade the city is relentlessly exploitative and hostile to working families and the working class in general. This minimum wage theater only serves to mask the real problems, which is why we see Hanauer, a venture capitalist who got obscenely rich off the abusive labor practices of (which conveniently moved all warehouse operations out of Seattle recently), leading the charge. Please forgive me if I’m a bit cynical about Hanauer’s motives here.

      • I understand that several of the “posh’ restaurants in Seattle have shut down because of the $15 minimum wage.

        The minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage it was meant to encourage employers to hire younger entry level persons with the idea that they would grow and move up the economic ladder to living wages and then on to affluence.

        There is no way most businesses could immediately go to $15. They couldn’t absorb or pass on the increased labor cost.

        We are still a “somewhat” free-market economy and it works. Take a look the EU, particularly Greece to see what happens when wages are artificially increased. I feel sorry for these people that are having a hard time making ends meet in Obama’s low-paying part-time jobs plan. A reduction in the corporate tax rate would go a long way in solving this problem by encouraging US multinationals to bring jobs back from overseas.

      • Wayne, I don’t think the posh restaurants are closing their doors. They whined a lot at first, but then they got themselves an exemption and calmed down leaving franchise owners to fight on their own. Also, the city has all but promised to turn a blind eye if they hire illegals at wage slave rates to wash the dishes and prep cook (see “sanctuary city” for more details). Typical Seattle.

        Seattle is most definitely not a free market society. Political and business insiders have upper hand, and essentially own the city. This is one thing that confuses me a bit about Republicans/conservatives who continue to claim that there’s a free market. The Democrat billionaires in Seattle and the periphery are cleaning their clocks where sheer profit is concerned, largely because of inside deals, and yet Republicans claim there’s a “free market.” Could they really be that clueless? I mean, Jess Bezos and Howard Schulz get tax breaks your small metro chamber of commerce types couldn’t dream of, yet Republicans defend the current regime like some little kids who are afraid of losing hand-me-downs.

        If we instituted a progressive capital gains tax, these billionaires would pay a more reasonable share of their shady profits. So yeah, go ahead and cut the corporate tax, but institute a usury/capital gains tax and use it to fund the democrats’ welfare constituency in Seattle and we’d have some more social justice.

        But Republicans will never support this, so it’s a moot point.

      • “We are still a “somewhat” a free-market economy”-i believe this states my position. This mostly applies to the small businessman and not to many large corporations that survive on corporate welfare-the big banks, GM, etc.

        BTW I am a Reaganite Libertarian.

    • The economic establishment failed to foresee the banking crisis seven years ago. They then assured us that monetary stimulus was all that was needed to get economic growth back on track. Despite their abysmal track record, they continue with the same flawed Keynesian and monetarist beliefs, refusing to even consider they might be wrong. They are a collective of wise monkeys, seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and saying no evil.

      The economic establishment blames today’s evils on free markets, a lack of government intervention, and banks for being reluctant to lend. It blames government deficits on cheats who don’t pay their taxes. I could go on; instead, I will attempt to identify the mounting dangers that face us all.

      There are four horsemen of the global economic apocalypse, all interlinked: the overburdened economy; broken banks; expensive interventionist governments; and a developing welfare and pension crisis. As a politician aptly described to me when I interviewed him a few months ago in Brussels, trying to squeeze out economic growth under these conditions is like trying to fly a plane with concrete wings. This simile applies best to the European Union, but it is also true in the US, Japan, and the UK.

      The economic establishment will never understand the true causes of our economic problems by focusing on econometrics. For example, reliance on gross domestic product (GDP) is a major error. Faith in this money-total of all transactions is so ingrained that the fact it can only measure quantity, not quality, is never considered. GDP treats wasteful government bureaucracy and genuine production that satisfies consumer demand as one and the same. For that reason, GDP is not an accurate measure of progress.

      As a result, the quality of economic transactions has deteriorated, and few seem to care or even notice. More government spending bolsters GDP, particularly when credit and money are issued out of thin air, which is why the Europeans so cherish their concrete wings. But it does not make us better off.

      Monetarists also persist in their belief that the velocity of money is a predictive tool, either for changes in economic activity or the rate of inflation. This can be traced all the way back to David Ricardo at the time of the Napoleonic wars, who tried to link increases in gold quantity to increases in prices. Now, it is true that there is a very rough correlation between the two, but at the very best it was a summation of price effects when gold circulated as money, which it does not today. Today’s fiat currencies are devoid of all intrinsic value and depend on confidence for their purchasing power, which changes independently from supply factors, though supply can be an influence.

      Ricardo suffered under the common delusion that prices were determined by costs, while any economist who truly understands prices knows that they are determined by the subjective opinions and desires of the consumer. Prices are not determined by a simple mathematical relationship, but rather people’s preferences for what they will buy and how much they will pay. Monetarists unquestioningly rely on mathematics, which is only a valid method of study for the physical sciences. This leads them to ignore reality—like the reality that we earn our income once, and out of that we pay for our needs, pleasures, and savings—all on our own terms. Nor do we hoard our money, as they seem to think happens when velocity slows. There is no mathematical relationship to predict or illustrate these human dynamics.

      It is no wonder that the greatest economist of the last century, Ludwig von Mises, wrote that “in the long run we are all dead” was the only correct declaration of the neo-British Cambridge school. He also concluded that Keynes merely wrote an apology for the prevailing policies of governments, a tradition followed by Keynesians and monetarists to this day.

      Our collective of wise monkeys has no interest in the truth, because the truth earns them no nuts. For that reason, we must make up our own minds. We must understand that from the days of Keynes, the economic establishment has been egging on governments to progressively destroy individual wealth and liberty. The ownership of wealth has been replaced by debt, and savings replaced by bank credit. The financial crisis of 2008 was merely the end of this unsustainable road. It represented a systemic refusal to continue down this route.

      Since then, central banks have sought to blow more air into the deflating credit bubble by creating more raw money. Central bankers are acutely aware that if they did not do so, many banks would go bankrupt. By subscribing to the GDP fallacy, they justify printing money to maintain government spending. Their naive belief in the quantity theory of money persuades them that they need to print money to make prices rise by a targeted 2% per annum, and moreover that the relationship between the quantity of money and prices can be managed.

      These combined errors lead central bankers to print too much money, a grave mistake illustrated by the chart below, which shows that growth rate of the US money supply is now at hyper-inflationary levels.

      True money supply is the sum of cash, checking and savings accounts, plus a few other minor deposit categories. This measure of the money supply quantifies deposits that can be withdrawn at short notice, making it superior to other measures. The black dotted line represents an exponential rate of growth—the fastest rate at which this measure of money can grow without eventually tipping into hyperinflation. Today, the actual money supply is about $3 trillion above the hyper-inflationary level. Thus to avoid monetary hyperinflation, $3 trillion must be withdrawn from the Fed and bank balance sheets. Ain’t gonna happen.

      We are already seeing early signs of price inflation, closest to where the money enters the economy. The wonkish name for this is the “Cantillon effect.” Asset prices are rising, and the cities that are major financial centers are thriving, with prices significantly above those in rural areas. Next, expect raw materials and commodities prices to rise as foreign exchanges try to recycle excess currency.
      I find the complete blindness to monetary hyperinflation in the economic and financial establishment remarkable, even in my most cynical moments. But there is no consolation in this knowledge—only the drive to prepare for what I consider inevitable nasty inflation.

      Hope this helps Arthur.

      • Wow. Stunning… Just one simple thing of note. All economic value is psychological. We are still and always will be on a barter system where we exchange things for things based on the belief that each thing has value in a society. Gold is valued because people value it. Paper (and, these days, digital) currency has value because it is backed by the faith of the government that produced it and folks accept this.
        There are good reasons why psychologists are (finally) becoming important contributors to economics (and, yeah, I’m a psychologist with a half-century of research in human cognitive functions).
        The deep problem with the classic economic models of the Austrians and, more recently, the Chicago School is that they are based on the rational decision maker who operates by making choices that maximize personal gain. The whole “silent hand” mystique that forms the basis for the free enterprise system is grounded in this axiom.
        Alas, it is wrong. And, a fortiori, the whole classic model crumbles.
        What works? Well, Keynesian models. Why? Because they’re based on surprisingly simple assumptions that don’t call on quasi-mystical notions. I know you’ll hate this but a careful reading of some of the writings of Krugman and Steiglitz might help you see these points.
        As for inflation…. Well, shucks Mr. Farber, you anti-Fed guys have been predicting this for years (and years) and it hasn’t happened. Why? Because Keynes was right.
        And now I’m done with this thread Wayne. More important things to work on — my latest novel is coming out soon. I’ll see again somewhere down that long dusty road…
        ; – ).

      • Wayne – It is so bloody obvious you have a drum to beat, no amount of “think for yourself” backpedaling is credible.

        Now if you would admit that Paul Krugman correctly predicted the housing bubble BUT he does not go far enough in criticizing the Keynesian model, then maybe you would get some support.

        If you had something good to say about Madrick’s latest book (Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World – 2014) AND pointed out the fallacy in Blinder’s review of it in the New York Review of Books, then you would have some credibility.

        Or if you even discussed the counterpoint:

        These are just examples of how you could reposition yourself as anything other than a rightwing ideologue who is willfully disingenuous.

        But you don’t, so you don’t have an credibility.

  6. Wayne – Uh, since you started the first post with a cheap shot at me, I think I was quite gracious to let you go with a humorous putdown.

    My substantive points were made in response to the Henry Ford analogy. You do know what demand destruction is, don’t you? Of course you do. Once again, you are just going for cheap shots even though my argument wasn’t even addressed to you.

    Your candidate was Kathy Kershner. You admitted it yourself in earlier posts. Since she lost re-election, you have been beside yourself. Since she was unable to get back on the Council through a back door, you have been beside yourself. Calling her a progressive just won’t wash. She is still a rightwing whacko. You cannot change the world by saying a different word.

    Really Wayne, when you start with cheap shots and then get solid arguments in reply, you should feel chagrined, embarrassed, and ashamed of yourself.

    I and all the rest of the commentators have treated you MUCH more charitably than you deserve.

  7. I voted for Kathy Kershner before she went off the reservation and would not vote for her again.

    I will leave it for you to ashamed of yourself.

    Thanks for your kindness wherever it may be.

  8. It was so important to Kershner to be on the council that she did not even show up before the council when the candidates were given time to pitch their reasons for wanting to be on the council. She sent someone to read a statement.

    • For the win!

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