Friday, March 24, 2017

The Poverty of Slavery: Slavery Is Alive, but Unwell

This recently appeared on Palgrave's blog:

Slavery Is Alive, but Unwell 

Robert Wright, author of The Poverty of Slavery: How Unfree Labor Pollutes The Economy, writes about the continued existence of slavery today and its impact on the global economy.
About 46 million people worldwide today are enslaved. In absolute terms, that is more than at any other time in recorded history. In terms of percentage of the total population, though, slavery is less important today than during any previous epoch, raising the hope that it might soon be extirpated once and for all.

That any significant number of people remain enslaved today runs counter to the widely taught but erroneous belief that slavery ended thanks to a wave of Great Emancipations by Britain, the United States, Brazil, and others in the nineteenth century, and the outlawing of domestic slavery by nations throughout the globe over the course of the twentieth century. While slavery did end de jure throughout the world, it never ended de facto anywhere.

In the United States, for example, the Thirteenth Amendment allows for the enslavement of convicts, a loophole that white bigots leveraged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to enslave large numbers of African-Americans, most convicted of minor crimes like loitering, on plantations and in coal mines and factories. Such practices formed the basis of today’s carceral state. Meanwhile, so-called “white slavery” was perpetrated in most major urban areas throughout the nation and over time morphed into today’s sex trafficking.

Although the term slavery has lost some of its precision over the years due to its misapplication to a wide variety of heinous practices, the 46 million person estimate is legitimate, referring only to people who are physically or psychologically prevented from seeking employment elsewhere. Unlike slaves of yore, which were valuable assets, today’s slaves are cheap and hence disposable. Enslavers regularly work them to death or until they are no longer able to function, then discard them unceremoniously.

Despite its illegality, slavery persists because enslavers find it profitable. Enslaving others entails only a minimal purchase price and the biological minimum needed to keep the enslaved at his or her assigned tasks. It is said to be the third most profitable illicit business in the world today, after drugs and arms dealing, but few enslavers are ever convicted because they are able to buy off law enforcement officials or intimidate witnesses.

Over the last twenty years or so, however, antislavery NGOs and governments have recognized the size of the problem and taken steps to raise public awareness and to strengthen antislavery laws and enforcement. Their efforts are strengthened by the conviction of all but a few fringe groups, like ISIS, that slavery is morally unacceptable in today’s world.

Unfortunately, a bevy of historians has recently broken the 150-year consensus that slavery is also economically bankrupt by arguing that slaves, slavery, and/or the slave trade spurred British and American industrialization. Their works are popular in some circles because they provide the descendants of slaves with a source of pride and fodder for reparations claims.

Ultimately, however, the notion that slavery can be good for the overall economy is deeply flawed because enslaving others creates large negative externalities, or costs borne by society (and not by enslavers). Those externalities are myriad but not easily seen. Where slavery is legal, they include the cost of returning runaways, special slave codes, and slave patrols. Where slavery is illegal, the costs include corruption, environmental degradation, and lives ruined by rape, drugs, disease, and torture.

The negative externalities, or pollution, caused by the enslavement of others pervades every known slave society throughout the globe and throughout history, proving that slavery has never, anywhere, induced economic growth or development. African-Americans in search of economically powerful forbears should look to early West African empires, like Timbuktu, rather than to slave regimes like the U.S. South.

While the inability to accept alternative employment (or not to work at all) is a key indicator of enslavement, a new 20-point freedom scale details the myriad ways in which individual workers suffer loss of freedom. The freedom index helps to differentiate chattel slaves, who generally score 2 or less on the scale, from other forms of bonded or coerced laborers, who typically score 3 to 5 on the scale, from workers, like interns, apprentices, and long-term contract workers, who enjoy more freedom than bound laborers but considerably less freedom than most modern employees, their bosses, or proprietors. The freedom index also explains how NBA players worth millions can equate themselves with slaves.

The index is important because less freedom (more slavery) leads to larger negative externalities, so policymakers interested in increasing economic output should strive to help workers achieve as much freedom as they can, consistent with the available technology set. Technological advancement reduces unfreedom in the workplace by allowing producers to replace labor with capital whenever the latter becomes cheaper than the former, even in its cheapest enslaved form. But those concerned about modern slavery cannot wait for technology to produce viable sexbots or machines that can roll bidis or weave carpets cheaper than enslaved children can. Slavery is simply too morally reprehensible, and too economically costly, to ignore.

Robert E. Wright is the Nef Family Chair of Political Economy at Augustana University and the author of 18 books, including The Poverty of Slavery: How Unfree Labor Pollutes The Economy.

NB: All opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent the views of Palgrave Macmillan.

© Springer
This ground-breaking book adds an economic angle to a traditionally moral argument, demonstrating that slavery has never promoted economic growth or development, neither today nor in the past. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

"Wells Fargo Withholds Top-Level Bonuses" by Emily Glazer and Austen Hufford

In today's (3/2/17) Wall Street Journal, Emily Glazer and Austen Hufford describe how the board of directors of Wells Fargo has stripped 8 top execs of bonuses tied to the fake account creation scam. That is certainly a step in the right direction. What the Wells Fargo board and investigative reporters need to look into, though, are the scams that Wells Fargo ran on borrowers who had defaulted on their mortgages during the subprime mortgage fiasco. This included hiding behind  "holder in due course" doctrine though WF (or at least some persons employed by WF) knew the bank was buying tainted paper and colluding with the lawyers of mortgage defaulters to induce their clients to settle deficiency suits when it best suited WF execs. (When anything is collected on debts previously written off as bad the funds go right to the bottom line.) Finding sufficient evidence would take some digging, and will probably require a whistle blower, but the story would be worth a Pulitzer or at least a Peabody.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Selling Slavery: Conflating Profits with Prosperity in the Early Republic

Apologies for the last post but I hit both the ASSA/AEA and the AHA this year, while teaching an intensive January course to boot! So this slipped my mind until now.

Selling Slavery: Conflating Profits with Prosperity in the Early Republic
Robert E. Wright, Augustana University, at the American Historical Association Conference, Sheraton Denver, CO, 7 January 2017, 1:30-3:00 p.m. Governor’s Square 15

Slavery in America was often called the “Peculiar Institution” but what is truly peculiar is the historiography of slavery. From about 1850 until about 2010, people opposed to slavery held that slavery hurt economic growth, defined as increased, inflation-adjusted per capita aggregate output and measured by indices like GDP, and development, defined as the capacity for growth and measured by various indices of literacy, education, technology, and infrastructure. People who argued during that period that slavery aided economic growth and development were racist, pro-slavery advocates like George Fitzhugh, or, like Robert Fogel and Stan Engerman, they were castigated as racist, pro-slavery advocates by various liberals and progressives.
That equilibrium made good intuitive sense because it allowed anti-slavery thinkers to advocate abolition on both moral and economic grounds. No tradeoff between morality and growth was necessary on either side; either slavery was all bad or it was all good. In recent years, however, a spate of books by Ed Baptist, Sven Beckert, Robin Blackburn, Walter Johnson, Calvin Schermerhorn, and others has attempted to break the equilibrium by maintaining that slavery, while a moral evil, aided, nay caused, U.S. economic growth and development. None of those authors has been called racist because their goal is to make a case for general reparations from taxpayers to the descendants of slaves. Such a policy, though, would be fraught with difficulties, the most important of which is that slavery actually hurt the overall U.S. economy.
As I show in Poverty of Slavery: How Unfree Labor Pollutes the Economy, which Palgrave is publishing in early March of this year, slavery creates profits for enslavers but it does not stimulate growth or development. Most obviously, only a few slave nations grew rich and some grew rich without, or before, becoming slave powers. Without having to run a single regression, we therefore know that slavery is neither a necessary nor a sufficient cause of economic growth.
Poverty of Slavery also shows that slavery could not have aided growth or development at the margins either. That is because slavery creates huge negative externalities, or costs not born by enslavers. So while slavery was often profitable for enslavers, its marginal net effect on the economy was clearly negative when the costs of controlling slaves and numerous other negative externalities, like decreased innovation, population, and non-slave wages, are accounted for. That holds not just for the antebellum U.S. but for every slave society the globe over since prehistoric times. Those few slave nations that attained wealth and development did so despite slavery, not because of it.
Without the concept of negative externalities, which economists did not formally name until the early 20th century, identifying the poverty induced by slavery is difficult to discern. That is why prior to about 1850 or so abolitionists were often silent about the economic effects of slavery. They knew that slavery was a ubiquitous institution because it was usually profitable and feared that those profits meant that slavery stimulated growth and development. So they remained fixated on the moral and religious aspects of the institution, a message that many Americans did not find compelled them to action. Early proslavery thinkers also did not calculate the negative externalities created by slavery, yet they often downplayed the profitability of enslaving others for rhetorical and competitive reasons, so they, too, generally concentrated on the cultural and religious effects of enslavement.
Those who came to see the negative externalities created by slavery became abolitionists because it removed all doubt from their minds. Hinton Helper was the most famous of these. His Impending Crisis is basically an extended, if somewhat sloppy, analysis of the negative externalities created by slavery. “Slavery,” he wrote, “benefits no one but its immediate, individual owners, and them only in a pecuniary point of view.” “Does the slaveholder, while he is enjoying his slaves,” Helper wondered, “reflect upon the deep injury and incalculable loss which the possession of that property inflicts upon the true interests of the country?” Or my favorite: “Slaveholders! … You are daily engaged in the unmanly and unpatriotic work of impoverishing the land of your birth. … Your conduct is reprehensible, base, criminal.”
Helper was not the first to separate profits from growth and development, nor was he the first to point to the many costs that slaves imposed on the larger economy. In 1764, Philadelphia merchant Nicholas Waln wrote to Richard Waln: “The illicit Trade wch has been carryed on a long time has probably enriched the Individual, but I believe in the Event will extremely derogate from the Good & true Interest of the Colonies.” A few years later, a writer in New York also noted that “a Merchant may, and often does, get rich by a Trade that makes his Country poor.” In one of his famous state papers, Alexander Hamilton also noted that profits and economic growth were sometimes incompatible. In 1817, Littleton D. Teackle of Maryland noted that “merchants, speculators, stock-jobbers and money changers … may flourish and get rich though the country be ruined.”
The notion that the enslavement of others was one of the activities by which a few became enriched at the expense of the whole can be dated back to at least Jean Bodin, a sixteenth century French philosopher, who argued that the profits created by slaves were offset by the fear induced by the institution in both slaves and the general population. As Bodin put it, slave societies were “always in daunger of trouble and ruine, by the conspiracie of slaves combining themselves together: All Histories being full of servile rebellions and warres.” Eighteenth century German scholar Johann Gottfried Herder also clearly saw that slavery created social costs not borne by slave masters. He attributed to slavery the spread of syphilis and the devastation of three continents.
In the early nineteenth century, the notion that slavery imposed large costs on non-slaveholders gained traction in America. In 1805, Thomas Branagan of Philadelphia compared slavery “to a large tree planted in the south, whose spreading branches extends to the North; the poisonous fruit of that tree when ripe falls upon these states, to the annoyance of the inhabitants, and contamination of the land which is sacred to liberty.” George Mason had also likened slavery to a “slow Poison” and in 1832 fellow Virginian Henry Berry argued that slavery was akin to raising tigers, something the state certainly had an interest in arresting, even if it was “a very lucrative business.” Virginians would not be allowed to raise “the far-famed Upas tree” (the “Tree of Death”), he argued, even if it grew entirely on their own private land. That same year, Charles James Faulkner said the same thing but much more directly before the Virginia House of Delegates: “Slaves are injurious to the interests and threaten the subversion and ruin of this Commonwealth.”
Just a year later, on the other side of the Atlantic, Joseph Conder argued that free laborers cost society less than slaves did because slavery encouraged “a wasteful and deteriorating husbandry” due to its reliance on monoculture and primitive tools as well as “contingent social evils, which demand a precautionary provision.” “The ultimate cost of slavery,” he concluded, also included “the state expenditure which it renders necessary in order to provide against the dangers inseparable from the existence of a servile class.”
Such arguments could at first be dismissed as mere rhetoric but as the years turned into decades one of the greatest natural experiments in history, the division of the United States into free and slave slaves, helped observers to test the negative externality hypothesis. As early as 1824, the economies of Pennsylvania and Virginia were compared and the former found superior. Several decades later, the economic differences between otherwise comparable free and slave states were even more pronounced, a point made forcefully by Cassius Clay, a Kentucky slaveholder ‘mugged by reality’ and converted to the antislavery cause. Despite Virginia’s natural advantages over New York, the latter exceeded the former in “the elements of National prosperity and glory; wealth, numbers in new countries, literature, industry, the mechanic arts, scientific agriculture, &c.” Slavery, Clay concluded, was clearly to blame. “The twelve hundred millions of capital invested in slaves is a dead loss to the South,” he declared, predicting, accurately, that the free North would defeat the slave South in a civil war.
At the outset of that war, Irish economist John Elliott Cairnes established the orthodox view that held until about 2010:
Those who are acquainted with the elementary principles which govern the distribution of wealth, know that the profits of capitalists may be increased by the same process by which the gross revenue of a country is diminished, and that therefore the community as a whole may be impoverished through the very same means by which a portion of its number is enriched. The economic success of slavery, therefore, is perfectly consistent with the supposition that it is prejudicial to the material well-being of the country where it is established.
Before closing, I need to make clear that the issue of externalities and the economic effects of slavery is not a merely academic one. In case you haven’t heard, slavery did not end in the nineteenth century, it merely changed form, into debt peonage, bonded labor, sex trafficking, child soldiers, and myriad other forms. Although unfree laborers compose a much smaller portion of the global work force than ever before, in absolute numbers they are now more numerous, between 30 and 45 million by common estimates, than at any time in history. The notion that slavery can jumpstart economies can, and has, been used to justify enslaving people today. Claims that Britain and the U.S. grew rich due to slavery have emboldened those in developing nations to ignore international anti-trafficking protocols on the supposition that it is not fair for the rich nations to prevent poor nations from catching up economically by outlawing a key growth driver. What this paper, and Poverty of Slavery, re-establish is that slavery is not just immoral, it is bad economics because any economic benefit produced by enslavers’ marginal profits, the profits earned above and beyond what would have been earned using a less coercive labor regime, is more than wiped out by the societal costs created when people are forced to work against their will. This in no way diminishes the sacrifices of African-American slaves or indeed any other group enslaved in the past, which, by the way, would include most people alive today. It does, however, suggest that general reparations for slavery are not merited and that the descendants of slaves should look to the profits created by their ancestors for recompense.
Thank you.

Punched in the Gut, Twice

This first appeared on the blog of Historians Against Slavery.

Whenever I hear anyone earnestly claim that slavery is/was good for the economy, I feel like I have been punched in the stomach, twice. That is because I’m a neo-abolitionist and a scholar of economic growth who knows that slavery causes only poverty.

My first seven books, from my dissertation (unpublishable at 1,300 pages) through Financial Founding Fathers, explored the finance-led growth hypothesis, the notion that financial services like intermediation and risk management cause economic growth. While writing those books, I noticed the crucial role played by the protection of human rights, especially the rights to life, liberty, and property, underlying financial development. That led to books like One Nation Under Debt and Little Business on the Prairie. I also noticed that economic growth was often impeded by irrational institutions and public policies of dubious quality, themes I explored in books like Broken Buildings Busted Budgets, Bailouts, Fubarnomics, Corporation Nation, Genealogy of American Finance, and, ultimately, The Poverty of Slavery.

Nobody seriously doubts the claim that slaves were important components of many economies, especially the economies of slave societies like the antebellum U.S. South. But many important factors of production can be adduced and none of them are causal in any fundamental sense. What differentiates wealthy (high real output per capita) economies from poor ones is the incentive to produce goods for market. People in poor countries fear for their lives and property, just as the colonists in British North America did before, during, and just after the Revolution. The Constitution, and the policies enacted during the Washington administration, changed that and the U.S. economy has been growing at more or less modern rates ever since, subject only to the periodic and temporary reversals associated with business cycles.

The U.S. economy should have, indeed would have, grown faster early on but it was held back by slavery, which created enormous negative externalities, or costs not borne by enslavers. Slave patrols, public whipping stations, standing military garrisons, and fugitive slave acts were among the most palpable ways in which enslavers milked taxpayers to keep their wretched system alive. The fact that slaveholders were heavily subsidized became widely understood by the late antebellum period and helped lead to the sectional break that ended in civil war.

The Poverty of Slavery describes the negative externalities created by enslavement in great detail, not only in America but in every major slave society across the globe, from 10,000 BCE to the present. It pays particular attention to the ways in which enslavement changed in response to the Great Emancipations of the nineteenth century and, while doing so, defines slavery along a 20-point scale of freedom designed to allow scholars and activists to identify subtle differences in the lived experiences of sundry types of laborers, both free and unfree, across time and space.

The final chapter explains that slavery must be ended, once and for all, because it is always a moral abomination and a drag on prosperity. Eradication must entail catching and convicting enslavers and stripping them of their wealth. Then, and only then, will they conclude that slavery does not pay and give it up. We will all be the better, both spiritually and materially, for de facto abolition.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bad News: Banning Muslims May Be a Prelude to Killing Them

Follow me here:

If X wants to kill Y, X is going to figure out a way to kill Y. If Y tries to stop being killed by banning X, all that will do is induce X to look like ~X to get around the ban. Y would be much better off by discovering why X wants him/her dead and coming to terms.* If it is not possible to resolve the dispute (or if Y won't even bother to try due to prejudice), then the only rational solution is for Y to kill X first (or be prepared to die but the ban suggests Y is not up to that). So, bad as the ban is, it may only be the tip of the proverbial spear.

*What Trump should do instead of a ban, then, is to pull the U.S. military and oil interests out of the Middle East. We don't need the oil there anymore and Israel can take care of itself at this point (and we'll always have missiles, drones, aircraft carriers, and submarines if necessary). That essentially would turn Americans into Canadians in the eyes of Muslims. Americans are safe and we can redeploy our military assets or, better yet, wind them down.

Addendum 3/19/17: What was that song? "It's no fun, being an illegal alien?" Seems an understatement now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Can the South Dakota Constitution check the Tyranny of the Majority?

South Dakotan voters, in their infinitesimal wisdom, have in recent years passed laws that prevent poor people from working unless they can convince employers that their labor is worth at least some minimum wage per hour and from borrowing small sums for short terms unless they can convince lenders that their credit is good enough to merit a negative interest rate (the interest rate cap recently established is so low that lenders will actually lose money by lending no matter how punctual borrowers are about repaying).

Here is what I had to say about the matter on KCPO's "The Facts" on 27 November 2016:

In other words, the tyranny of the majority is in full force thanks to South Dakota's carefree system of ballot measures. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, the "tyranny of the majority" refers to two wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner! The term is generally attributed to Alexis DeToqueville, who wrote over a dozen pages about it in his masterful tome Democracy in America:

If you accept that one man vested with omnipotence can abuse it against his adversaries, why not accept the same thing for a majority? ... What is most repugnant to me in America is not the extreme freedom that reigns there, it is the lack of a guarantee against tyranny.

Well, South Dakotans, ALL South Dakotans whether in a majority of all or a minority of one, are supposed to be protected from tyranny by the state constitution, particularly its bill of rights (Article 6), and especially Sections 1 and 27. They read:

§ 1.   Inherent rights. All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring and protecting property and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

§ 27.   Maintenance of free government--Fundamental principles. The blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

How can either of those constitutional rights be reconciled with laws that force people, against their will, from entering into contracts (employment, credit) that they feel to be in their own best interests? I do not think they can, so the minimum wage and usury laws need to be struck down, now, and as harshly as possible. And in the future, measures that are patently unconstitutional should not even be allowed on the ballot. As a general rule, ballot measures should deal with the government's powers, politics, etc. NOT with the regulation of individuals, especially in matters economic. That is clearly a "fundamental principle" as the only early ballot measures that dealt with socioeconomic matters was Prohibition and it was an even bigger disaster at the state level than at the national one.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

South Dakota Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Loan Sharks

Yesterday (11/8/16), three out of four voters in South Dakota approved a measure inviting loan sharks into the Coyote State by approving Initiated Measure 21, which caps interest rates on short-term loans at 36 percent per annum and imposes Arkansasian limits on work arounds.

This is what happens when initiated measures are twisted away from their original intent, which was to check government power, not to extend a tyranny of the majority over economic policy.

Replacing, not just repealing, Obamacare

Trump has promised to repeal Obamacare. To prevent its reinstatement down the line, or its replacement with something even worse, however, he ought at the same time to introduce a new system. I made the following proposal in Fubarnomics and think it still our best alternative:

1) make it illegal for employers to offer health insurance and for insurers to offer group health policies, i.e. all policies become INDIVIDUAL. This way job loss does not mean loss of benefits/uninsured status.
2) allow the creation of federally-chartered MUTUAL LIFE/HEALTH INSURERS that will offer individual variable premium policies throughout the NATION that cover life, own occ. disability, and health insurance in a single policy, with the payoffs tied to premium payments (i.e., savings) and actual claims. So holding premiums constant, somebody healthy who dies in an accident at 45 gets a big life insurance payout while somebody disabled at 25 gets none and somebody with average health insurance claims gets a medium life insurance payout. (Simple concept, somewhat tricky actuarially but I've never, ever met a dumb actuary and I know about a dozen of them. Can't say that for any other profession.)
3) randomly assign uninsured Americans to the mutual insurers so there is no serious adverse selection.
4) going forward, mandate pre-testing in utero coverage so there is no serious adverse selection. Any mother who does not start a policy for her embryo/fetus before it is tested or born shall pay a substantial fine and the baby shall be randomly assigned to a mutual insurer.
5) policies can never be cancelled and can never lapse but will lose value over time if premium payments stop.

If these ideas do not make sense to you, you don't understand insurance or behavioral finance and you should bone up or shut up. The proposals are designed to:

A) limit uninsured individuals by breaking the tie to employment and not allowing cancellation or lapses
B) limit adverse selection through random assignment and in utero coverage
C) encourage young, healthy people to make premium payments by compensating them with more life/disability insurance
D) make elderly patients face the trade off between extending life via expensive medical treatment vs. leaving assets to their heirs
E) keep costs low through the mutual form (i.e., ownership by insureds not stockholders) & competition & creation of a large, powerful interest group (mutual insurers and their policyholders) interested in finding ways of reducing medical expenses
F) bond insurers to pay for healthcare via the life insurance tie in: they will rationally spend money to save someone's life to prevent a life insurance payout.
G) if income redistribution is desired by the electorate, it can happen through government premium payments on behalf of the poor, veterans, or other subsidized groups

This morning, Friday, 3/24/2017, I emailed the Wall Street Journal's Jerry Seib about his article in today's WSJ called "The Big Health Fix Bruises Ryan and Trump" the following:

Mr. Seib,

Why won't anyone in the "mainstream media" mention health insurance deregulation as a solution?

Everyone assumes that government intervention is necessary but there are entrepreneurs ready to make the whole system much more efficient if only they are allowed to.

We don't have crises in chewing gum manufacturing or even in closely allied insurance products like life because we allow markets to function in those realms. Health insurance was developing nicely in the U.S. until it was rocked by the Depression, then distorted by the tax incentives for work-related group insurance. It could work nicely again if only the government would allow entrepreneurs to test their ideas in the marketplace unimpeded by the onerous regulations currently imposed on the industry with the consent of both parties.

Bob W.

I have yet to receive a response. Go figure!

How to Stop Michele Obama from becoming POTUS in 2020 or 2024

Democratic party leaders are already planning to re-take the White House in 2020 or 2024 (depending on how Trump's first term goes), by using their largest remaining asset, Michele Obama. The easiest way to stop her is to clarify that the 22A includes SPOUSES. It was passed right after World War II, in response to FDR's unprecedented 4 terms (the 4th cut short by his death), when nobody believed that a woman could become president. Well, that ship has sailed so we have to make sure that we do not turn into a banana republic and subvert our own Constitution thru such a ruse as spousal succession. I think Michele would make a fine president but this isn't about her per se, it is about preserving de facto term limitations for POTUS. I think the American people sense that HRC was overstepping by trying to serve a third term, which is why her own party rejected her in 2008 and the national elector sent her home in 2016. Granted the discussion was personal, about her lying and being part of the establishment, rather than on the principle of term limitations. But now that the smoke is clear, we should act. (I'd like to include parents-children and siblings as well but that is more of a stretch than husband-wife as the former do not share a bed.)

We should also consider creating a new body, sort of like a grand jury, that vets people BEFORE they are allowed on presidential ballots regarding age, non-spousal relationship to a 2 term prez, and birth. I'm thinking 105 people drawn randomly from the population, 2 from each state, the District, and PR, plus one at large to preside and break any ties. This is so we do not ever have the embarrassment of electing someone ineligible.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wells Fargo Is Still an "Evil" Bank

John Stumpf, not to be confused with Donald Drumpf, has finally stepped down as the head of Wells Fargo. But guess what? The culture of Wells Fargo has not changed; it is still one of America's "evil" banks. Check out my Genealogy of American Finance, which shows that some of America's 50 largest bank holding companies are "good" banks that make their profits the old-fashioned way, by earning them. Others, like Wells Fargo, are "bad" banks that are more akin to vampires than legit businesses. It's a fun read and there are lots of pictures, hence the relatively high price. But if you want to avoid banking with "bad" bankers, it is an essential resource.