Thursday, October 24, 2013

They Are Not Asking

See this recent Melanie Hicken/ report: Pensions Ask Retirees to Pay Back Tens of Thousands. Hah, such a headline! They aren't asking. The very first line of the report says "Some pension plans have overpaid retirees for years -- now they're demanding their money back."

According to the report, the pension plan for American Water Works Co. is demanding about $45,000 from 67-year-old Carol Montague as a result of more than five years of over-payments.

Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 73 Pension Fund is demanding "recoupment" from nearly 600 retired sheet metal workers and their spouses because of miscalculated pensions from 1974 to 2004. Not only is the Pension Fund cutting the payments to the correct amounts, but then cutting even more to recoup the losses caused by their own mistakes. Then they demand yet more for interest. Then they demand up-front payments if they calculate that the victims will not live long enough to pay back an adequate amount.

For example, 75-year-old Carole Grant was told that she owed almost $61,000 for nearly 20 years of over-payments on her deceased husband's pension – she was paid $349 per month when she should have been paid $249. She has been "asked" to make a $54,000 up-front payment.

Miscalculated payments since 1974? It seems to that there is a statute of limitations for even the most serious crimes, but it does not appear that the poor are ever off the hook to rich pension plans. Ms Grant's husband probably thought he was helping provide for her with his pension plan.

According to the report, Karen Ferguson, director of the Pension Rights Center in Washington, D.C., believes that imposing a statute of limitations and other measures would help.

Finally, 63-year-old Ed Cochran has been told that he owes the fund nearly $100,000, of which over $42,000 is interest. Mr Cochran paid years of inflated federal taxes and child support based on his miscalculated pension payments. We wonder what his chances are of getting his excess tax and alimony payments back?

As far as is concerned, these cases are just additional examples of the exploitation of the poor. That is, those who can defend their wealth taking ever more from those who cannot. Here is the deal: The rich make the mistakes and the poor pay for them.

These cases are so obviously unjust. However, if you think that additional laws and regulations will fix these problems, we have to ask why they have not been implemented already. We will not speculate about that right now. We will simply point out that these injustices would not happen under the system.

The reason is that on the other side of capitalism, the basics would already be covered for Ms Montague, Ms Grant, and Mr Cochran. Every participant in the internal markets would get a basic living. Individuals could improve their retirement by saving money in the internal currency, savings that would never end up in the coffers of the rich because they could not own it. It could not be transferred into an external currency account.

Furthermore, the internal currency accounts would be protected by the ability of the government to print the internal currency at will to make up for Bernie Madoff-style fraud or John Corzine-style misunderstandings. 100% of such losses, if it ever became necessary, would be made good.

Finally, there would no longer be any huge unexpected debts created for poor pensioners because of someone else's mistake. There would no longer be attempts to collect on loans that have been forgiven or discharged – so-called zombie debt.

We have only touched the surface of how rotten our economic system really is. We cannot fight these kinds of things as weak individuals against strong groups organized by those who want to exploit us. We have to join together, separate ourselves from them, and get the government on our side. Support

The way capitalism should be.

Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.

TheOtherSideOfCapitalism (

Copyright © 2013 TheOtherSideOfCapitalism

Friday, October 18, 2013

Working As Designed

We have to say again that we are disturbed to see so many comments about government "dysfunction" regarding the debt ceiling debates in the popular press. The fact is that our government is working as designed.'s concern is whether the attitude of the popular press reflects a widespread dissatisfaction with the processes of democracy in the U.S. We are concerned whether it reflects a true desire to enforce political "function" by any means – ultimately meaning giving up democracy. How long can real democracy last if the people do not want it anymore?

Just as the purpose of capitalists is to make money, the purpose of political parties is to win elections. Do not expect a capitalist to save capitalism if it costs too much. Capitalism is nice in theory but capitalists are about the bottom line. Who cares what the economic/political system is as long as the money is pouring in? The ultimate goal of a capitalist is to make ever more money and keep doing it until everyone else is run out of business.

In the same sense, do not expect a political party to save democracy if it costs too many elections. Democracy is nice in theory but parties are about winning elections. Who cares what the political/economic system is as long as the party wins elections? The ultimate goal of a party is to win ever more elections and keep doing it until everyone else is run out of politics.

If a party succeeds in this, they may still call their system a democracy or a republic because they continue to have elections. In any meaningful way, however, their democracy is dead – it has become a zombie democracy like they have in Zimbabwe. They can have as many elections as they want, but they cannot change anything.

Another example is North Korea. There are elections in North Korea, too, but as we pointed out in The Rich You Will Always Have With You, the Kim family is really a dynasty. This became official last August when it was announced that the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" legally had made the Kim family hereditary rulers in its "constitution," or 10 founding principles. See the UPI article Hereditary Rule. Far from being an egalitarian system, the fundamentals of scientific evolution force Communism to adopt the idea that some people are better than others and some bloodlines are better than others. Egalitarianism in Communist systems is an illusion and genetic superiority is the reality, however hidden it might be by the illusion. The only surprising thing is that North Korea has now thrown the illusion away and publicly proclaimed the reality.

All the above means perhaps that Democracy/Republicanism has the same problem that Capitalism does. When one or a few participants become enormously powerful compared to the others, the system becomes competitively unbalanced and the very people who are representatives of democracy and the republic actually work to destroy it.

Therefore, instead of wanting our representatives to join together, pick a goal, and march unified in one direction, we should cherish it when they publicly disagree. We should cherish the fact that they are still able to publicly disagree. We need tolerance and diversity, not hardline people who will never negotiate. Beware of monolithic, single-party systems in which everyone by law must agree with the party line.

Tosoc readers, we say again that the problem facing us is not the debt ceiling or the sequester or the fiscal cliff or the rising national debt. The true problem is that we are chained to the rich by the dollar – the single currency. All those other issues are just manifestations of the rich jerking the dollar chain to make the rest of us pay more. This will continue to happen and we will become increasingly impoverished until we divorce ourselves from the rich by divorcing ourselves from the single currency. Support

The way capitalism should be.

Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.

TheOtherSideOfCapitalism (

Copyright © 2013 TheOtherSideOfCapitalism

Saturday, October 12, 2013

That Sounds Pretty Bad

"The world will look much more unfair and much less equal and indeed it will be.
That sounds pretty bad and maybe it is."

This quote is from the last chapter of Tyler Cowan's 2013 book Average is Over. Tyler Cowan is an influential economist and a professor of economics at George Mason University. (See also his 2011 book The Great Stagnation.)

Let us get this straight: the U.S. will lose what fairness and equality it has left and Professor Cowan can only muster up enough feeling about that to say that it might be bad – maybe. This and other "decline and fall" predictions we have seen cause us at to ask if economists and MBAs are required to go through dehumanization courses, or treatments, before they get their degrees. See our posts No Jam Ever Again and No Jam Ever Again II, for example.

In essence, Cowan predicts that the Übermensch will inherit the earth. In the future only those with enough intelligence, drive, and computer skills will really prosper. He says, "We will move from a society based on the pretense that everyone is given an okay standard of living to a society in which people are expected to fend for themselves much more than they do now. I imagine a world where, say, 10 to 15 percent of the citizenry is extremely wealthy and has fantastically stimulating lives ... Others will fall by the wayside."

If a large percentage of the population "falls by the wayside," Professor Cowan, it will not be some unfortunate natural event – it will not be what used to be called "an act of god." It will be because we deliberately drop them there to, as you say, "fend for themselves." It will be our responsibility.

Cowan does a fine job of representing and justifying the attitudes of the uncaring rich, but we have to give him some credit. By uncritically praising the rich he at least is living out his own vision of the future. In chapter 2 he says, "... making high earners feel better in just about every part of their lives will be a major source of job growth in the future. ... Better about the world. Better about themselves. Better about what they have achieved."

Whether his prediction turns out to be accurate or not, there is something slimy and slavish about these comments. There is not a word about accountability or community. According to Tyler Cowan, it seems, ask not what the rich can do for their country (to paraphrase the newly-elected President John Kennedy in 1961). Ask what their country can do for them.

Tosoc readers, the more of this kind of thing that we see, the more we believe that the rich really do intend to reduce our wages and make many of us live in Cowan's proposed "shantytown" environments. We need a way to keep the rich from ultimately forcing the rest of us to live at subsistence levels.'s multiple exclusive currencies and markets will prevent that from happening. Our proposals are designed to keep it from happening. To us, the level of exploitation by the rich is already too high even without Tyler Cowan's ever-increasing exploitation in the future.

See our previous posts. Like the rich, we must be able to defend our wealth. The reason we cannot do that now is that we deal with the rich as individuals rather than collectively. This gives them the ability to use divide-and-conquer techniques against us. We use the same currency that they do, so they can vastly improve the finances of any group of individuals by giving them relatively small amounts of money. In effect, the rich can buy out any set of leaders that look like they might actually unite the people against exploitation. That is why the rest of us need our own currencies and why we must collectively agree not to use the same currencies as the rich. Support

The way capitalism should be.

Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.

TheOtherSideOfCapitalism (

Copyright © 2013 TheOtherSideOfCapitalism

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Economic Football

We are breaking precedent by publishing more than one post this week. The reason is that we are always searching for new ways to explain why multiple currencies really are necessary. Here we will try the sports metaphor. (At the same time, do not forget to see our "regular" post this week: Non Sequestitur II:  Fair Play.)

Think of any sport that you are familiar with, a team sport or an individual sport. Some people are just better at it than others. That is a natural consequence of human diversity. We celebrate this diversity because it is such a pleasure to watch the best players play at their best.

Now think of all the diverse sports there are.  Those who are professional level in one sport may be -- they probably are -- just amateurs in another sport.  For example, Michael Jordan was arguably the best player and team leader of his time in NBA basketball, but he failed in his attempt to play professional baseball.

Then there is diversity by age, level of development, and experience. We find the best players by introducing sports to children in grades K-12. Then we groom the best of them and give them experience in environments that gradually become more and more competitive.  It takes years to develop the top professionals in any sport.

Later, when the top professionals lose their edge because of age, health, or injury, they either retire from serious competition or play in "senior" tournaments.

Contrast our sports world with our economics. In our capitalist economy, there is no gradual progression of competitive environments to help learners survive while they learn to play. There is only one game and everyone has to play it. The game never stops and there is no escape. There is only one kind of ball, the dollar, and there is only one kind of playing field.  Unless you have someone playing on your behalf, like a parent taking care of a child, there is no protection. Young and old, educated and uneducated, pros and novices, strong and weak -- we are all thrown together to see who comes out on top. This is barbaric and crazy. It makes the sports world seem perfectly sane.

If we have Pop Warner football for kids, we should have Pop Warner markets for them, too. If we have junior high, high school, and college teams, then we should have different levels of markets, too.  The key is that the teams at the "higher" levels are excluded from playing against the teams at the "lower" levels. The reason is that games should be competitive rather than destructive. There is no point in allowing the high school kids to regularly "destroy" the junior highs.  Yet that is exactly what we do in our economic system.

Our capitalist system is destructive rather than competitive.  It will remain that way until we can prevent the rich from exploiting the poor. You do not lose your house when you lose a sports game, but it is easy to lose your house when you make a mistake in our economic system. In fact, in a sense that is what the financial pros try to profit by -- making other people lose their houses. We need to stop trying to ruin one another, yet that is "fair play" according to the rules of capitalist markets.

That seems like a reason to eliminate capitalist markets, but we at do not see it that way.  History shows that there have been many such attempts, but they have all failed.  What might work instead is to separate the rich and the poor into different markets in order to mitigate the advantages of the rich.  Different exclusive currencies are also needed because it is so much easier to keep the rich out of the the markets for the poor if they do not have any currency to use in them.

As long as rich people have dollars, we cannot keep them from screwing up our dollar markets. That is because markets and their currencies are tightly linked. Anyone who has the right currencies can buy and sell in those markets. Currencies must be exclusive in order to control where the rich can trade.

The way capitalism should be.

Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.

TheOtherSideOfCapitalism (

Copyright © 2013 TheOtherSideOfCapitalism

Friday, October 4, 2013

Non Sequestitur II: Fair Play

In our last post Non Sequestitur we made the case that our version of capitalism is fundamentally broken. The markets are terribly distorted by the extreme and growing wealth of the rich in comparison to the rest of us.

The markets are also terribly distorted by government policies that impossibly must attempt to please everyone at the same time.  At this very moment the government is partially shut down because none of the factions can compromise.  Any faction that compromises, loses, because at this time what is good for one faction is bad for another. There is no middle ground.

That is what happens when everyone has to compete in the same arena -- the big and the small, the strong and the weak, the skilled and the unskilled, those with hope and those without it.  Some will lose and some will win. Those who lose constantly must find ways outside the system to win enough to survive. To the winners that is cheating, so they take steps in turn to avoid "anarchy" by strengthening the rules that serve them so well. No faction believes that the market is quite fair.

One side or another in the U.S. will eventually break our deadlock and dominate for a while, but the fundamental problem with our system will not be resolved and therefore the period of economic stability will be short.  That is what will happen if we remain on this side of capitalism.

If we were on the other side of capitalism, the situation would be very different. For one thing, there would never be a government shutdown because the government would operate on an independent, internal currency. The main competition would be external, not internal. Every internal participant would have a stake in the success of the system no matter what their differences, so there would always be a middle ground based on the internal currency and markets. Compromise would always be possible.

For another thing, we could have an honest budget.  As it is now, it would serve few of the factions well to demand that our true economic situation be socialized.  They find it better to set up obscure sequesters, fiscal cliffs, and debt limits. However, when everyone's financial interests are similar, these things will not be necessary and we will be able to discuss a real budget again.

Finally, on the other side of capitalism, basic economic fear would no longer be a factor.  This would greatly reduce the energy fueling demagoguery and the bitterness of disputes. It is a lot easier to keep your head, and to remind others to keep theirs, when we all are confident that our value to society will never become zero.

That is the key. On this side of capitalism we still allow the strong to drive the value of the weak to nothing. Only when we have a currency that is managed for the benefit of the poor, and the markets to use it in, will we be able to keep that from happening.

The way capitalism should be.

Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.

TheOtherSideOfCapitalism (

Copyright © 2013 TheOtherSideOfCapitalism