25 Feb TLR’s Four-Year Anniversary!
“It may seem that America has experienced major changes over the last four years, but the reality is that the more things appear to have changed, the more they’ve stayed the same.” – The Lonely Realist
Today marks the beginning of TLR’s fifth year. With more than 200 commentaries, TLR’s four years have fostered communication on a variety of controversial subjects. This is a good thing! Moreover, any number of TLR commentaries have encouraged discussion between disparate groups and, while not creating consensus, have led readers to focus on real problems and on perspectives they had previously dismissed. This understandably has increased interest in seeking actual solutions. Today’s four-year anniversary therefore provides an opportunity for TLR’s readers to broaden the discussion by inviting friends and associates to join in TLR’s search for answers. You can do so by forwarding today’s commentary to those of your contacts who may be interested in the issues that TLR addresses, from America’s antiquated tax system to its weakening educational standards, America’s fractured social mores to the partisanship at both the Federal and State government levels, etc., etc., etc., each of which erodes America’s democracy. In short, broadening TLR’s readership will help America get real about its problems and sow the seeds for constructive change.
More to TLR‘s substance, today’s fourth anniversary is an appropriate time to look back and review a few of the subjects addressed by TLR in February and March 2019. It shouldn’t be surprising that they are among the same subjects that occupy America today. For example, TLR’s first commentary was entitled “Elon Musk” and said in pertinent part:
“Elon Musk is the CEO of Tesla. He previously also was Tesla’s Chairman, but was forced to resign that position when he committed securities fraud by Tweeting that he had secured financing to take Tesla private. That was a lie. He agreed to a fine of $20 million and he and Tesla jointly agreed that he would not Tweet without a Tesla lawyer’s pre-clearance. In a subsequent 60 Minutes interview, he said that he and Tesla were not going to abide by any such agreed-upon pre-clearing obligation …, adding that he doesn’t respect the SEC. He was being honest. He demonstrated that honesty(?) shortly thereafter by Tweeting that Tesla would be producing 500,000 cars in 2019, which wasn’t true. Alerted to the Tweet, Tesla’s lawyers forced him to correct himself and he re-Tweeted that what he’d really meant was that Tesla would be producing 500,000 cars in the next year, 2020. Ooops! Tesla’s recently-hired general counsel promptly resigned. His reason was not explained and the SEC was neither amused nor mollified. It asked the Judge to hold Musk in contempt. What does that mean? It’s already clear that neither the SEC nor the Judge believes it’s in the best interests of Tesla to remove Musk, so he’s going to remain Tesla’s CEO. This is so even though Musk has flagrantly violated the securities laws – securities fraud used to be a big deal for CEOs [as TLR subsequently wrote here]! No more – and Musk has made it abundantly clear that he will not comply with those laws … or with SEC directives or with the rulings of U.S. Courts. In any event, it would have been prudent for Musk to lie low and await the Judge’s reaction, but that’s not in his nature….”
Some view Elon Musk’s actions as representative of spoiled billionaires who believe themselves to be “above the law,” providing proof positive that laws are applied only to common people. Others view his actions as an appropriate exercise of his God-given right to do what he believes is best – that is, the government cannot tell Americans what to do. This represents a brand of Ayn Randisn that at the extreme advocates anarchy. The bifurcation of such tribalist beliefs has not softened over the last four years. On the contrary.
TLR’s “Elon Musk” commentary was joined in February 2019 by “The Markets”:
“Has the government at last gained control over the economy as well as the stock market? Can America print money indefinitely and enjoy the fruits of growth that seemingly limitless money-printing provides? So far, so good! It’s been working like a charm. Active investors who were once renowned for their ability to root out value have had their comeuppance. Their style of investing hasn’t worked this decade. Passive investing – going with the momentum of the leading stocks – has worked. If you’d invested solely in the FAANGs in 2009, you would have been the big winner, the best of the stock pickers. Which seems to have been what the Federal Reserve was struggling to achieve – a perpetually rising tide that would irrigate the economy. Quantitative Easing and its related manipulations have achieved what the Fed intended, albeit with the help of tax cuts and without consequences (except for the increase in wealth inequality). We’ve very neatly recovered from the Great Recession. The U.S. economy has been growing and the stock market has been rising for the last 10 years. It’s unprecedented! Those who believed that history repeats and that we were headed for a fall were wrong. Welcome to a new era of perpetual growth!”
Well, since 2019 there have been bumps along the perpetual growth road, as TLR most recently discussed here.
These February 2019 commentaries were followed in early March by “Are our Tax Laws Overly Complex,” where TLR wrote that “Yes they are! They also distort economic activity, misallocating resources and reducing productivity. They were drafted by politicians pressured by special interests. They don’t adequately address our unsustainable deficits…,” etc., etc., etc. – America needs a VAT tax –, and by “Executive Power,” a diatribe against America’s slide into Statism, the arrogation of power by Federal and State governments and, particularly, by government executives. This has been a regular TLR theme.
The subsequent March 2019 TLR continued with “A Perpetual Bull Market,” one that Cassandra recently commented on here, TLR noting that “as long as the largest economies – the U.S., China, the EU, Japan and Great Britain – continue to coordinate their fiscal policies by stimulating their economies by printing money, there is little danger of potentially lethal economic disconnects. But for how long can money printing, GDP growth, deflationary and inflationary risks be managed? Just how good are the central bankers? And for how long can geo-political and domestic policy risks remain irrelevant?” Also in March, TLR vilified America’s disjointed foreign policy, first in “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” and then in “America at War.”
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. [The more things change, the more they stay the same.]
An index of TLR titles can be found here.
Finally (from a good friend)