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  • Crossing the line into politics?

    Any serious discussion of economics must include politics, but too much politics will distract iTulip from its mission.

    Lately we have received a number of critical notes from iTulip community members about videos and posts that appear to take a political position for or against a particular political party.

    We do not want iTulip to devolve into primary a political site that secondarily talks about economics and markets. On the other hand we do we want it to be an economics and markets site that naÔvely ignores the influence of national and international politics on the economy and markets.

    We could try to treat the economy like some kind of abstract machine, its behavior the result of disinterested internals and inputs and outputs, but that's not how an economy works in the real world, so that approach does not serve the interests of our community. Governments have a profound influence on the economy, and centers of finance have a profound influence on governments. One cannot discuss the relative merits of investing in one asset class or another, or where they are going, without considering politics.

    For example, the 1997 Tax Relief Act, among other provisions, gave a married couple in the US the opportunity to earn $500,000 in capital gains tax free on a primary or secondary residence owned for at least two years. Compare this to the tax on capital gains earned by selling gold bullion or gold ETFs. These are classified as "collectibles" and taxed at 28%, the maximum capital gains rate. Which type of asset do you think the US government wants you to own, the one manufactured by an industry with a large and effective lobby or the one manufactured by an industry with a small and ineffective lobby? The one that earns Wall Street investment banks billions of dollars in fees annually or the one that earns them a few hundred million?

    Several notes we have received specifically criticize videos that deal with weapons manufacturers and military contractors. Can a site that deals with economics and finance avoid the topic? Here in my area of the US, the military industry has, according to a recent Boston Globe report, pumped over $2.6 billion in the Massachusetts economy over the past year, dwarfing the much publicized biotech industry. Home prices have declined locally due to the declining housing bubble, but likely would have collapsed if not for employment provided by Raytheon and other mil contractors in the area.


    MSNBC Still Reports News (did a piece on iTulip back in 1999)

    True, many of the videos covering this topic are not very good journalism. But, under the circumstances, they may be the best we'll get. Some, if not instructive, are at least entertaining.


    In the words of one professional journalist who works for the mainstream press and advises us, "Newsrooms are more controlled than ever by corporate interests. Reporters don't need to be told what to write–it's in the air. Columnists, either pro or con, will continue taking sides as they have been and workers will continue to adjust, retrain and/or go down the tubes."

    Way back when I was a studying journalism in college in the late 1970s, Larry Stites, then national editor of the NYTimes, at a conference we held at the UMass, Amherst, in response to my question about accusations of press bias in coverage of the Vietnam War which were coming to light, told me–and I'm paraphrasing here:
    Wherever you have concentrations of political and economic power you have control over the press. So what? What's the alternative, a politburo? In our system you're either on the outside of the system criticizing it and not making money or you're inside, supporting it, and making money. Pick one. Journalism here is the art of using the system's money to point out its problems and abuses without anyone–including your editor–knowing what you're up to. You've got a bullhorn but have to be careful what you say. If you go outside the system, you are talking through a kazoo and can say whatever you want.
    Good advice for a young lad considering a career in journalism. (Before I could decide whether or not to pursue a career as a journalist, I discovered computers and have been in that industry every since.)

    Blogs and their variants cover topics that mainstream press reporters and editors cover as best they can within the constraints imposed on them by the system, as they pursue that art of "using the system's money to point out its problems and abuses." Some blogs are high end, doing primary research–performing interviews and original analysis–but they are, from the standpoint of modest reach and the limited credibility conferred on them by lack of brand, still "kazoos." Sometimes the chorus of kazoos can drown out the mainstream press; it is when each is playing well and many are playing together that they are most effective at performing a constructive role in society. Aside from an occasional article, we expect little coverage of the military industrial complex from from well paid professional journalists on the inside (infrequent coverage of a topic is also a measure of compliance) leaving us–if we choose to continue to cover the topic–with kazoos to do so, videos and other stories which may not always meet the journalistic standards we'd like to see. Frontline they ain't, but isn't it better than nothing?

    Our community needs to consider politics in our exploration of where our economy has been, where it is now, and where it is going. But not too much politics, and open to the views of all political parties. With theses as our objectives then the questions are, do we have the right balance of political coverage versus economics and finance? And if not, how do we achieve it?

    I appreciate your input.

    Eric Janszen
    Founder & President, iTulip, Inc.
    Last edited by FRED; 05-22-07, 09:06 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Crossing the line into politics

    The exercised mind strives for the nontraditional coverage and expression in addition to the mainstream. I think the critics and non or first time posters should step up and load the servers with expressions and ideas.

    I would like to see more video coverage as I can pull my eyes off the print and listen.

    To step up the kazoo, I canít wait until a voice activated forum is used as a platform so I can talk my post and listen to the replies. http://www.jott.com/ , http://www.spinvox.com/ This request of course comes from such a terrible typist like myself struggling with every pecking word.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Crossing the line into politics

      i almost never view the videos. they're too slow, chew up too much time. i'd rather read.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Crossing the line into politics

        Originally posted by bill View Post
        The exercised mind strives for the nontraditional coverage and expression in addition to the mainstream. I think the critics and non or first time posters should step up and load the servers with expressions and ideas.

        I would like to see more video coverage as I can pull my eyes off the print and listen.

        To step up the kazoo, I canít wait until a voice activated forum is used as a platform so I can talk my post and listen to the replies. http://www.jott.com/ , http://www.spinvox.com/ This request of course comes from such a terrible typist like myself struggling with every pecking word.

        Cool idea. We'd need to figure out how to integrate it into the forums. Now it's email based. I think there's a vB API that will allow external email tagged a certain way to be posted to a thread.

        A greater challenge, tho, is that it doesn't seem to recognize the kinds of words we use, so the voice-to-text feature may not work.
        Ed.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Crossing the line into politics?

          One wonders if Thomas Paine hadn't had the cajones to use his own money to print out Common Sense, far outside the mainstream papers, where we may be today.

          Eric, I can't speak for anyone else, but I see where you are coming from. You are advocating responsible economic policy, both for individual citizens of this world, for corporations, and for governances. You are a realist, and as such understand that the mass "news" media is really a mouthpiece for whoever is giving them the most money (see: NAR's 40 million dollar advertising budget). Also, since itulip deals with mainly macroeconomic type analysis, it is impossible to separate politics since government policy sets the tone if not directly influences macroeconomic factors (see: China and the insanity around their currency and peg to the US$).

          If someone doesn't like the political slant of the videos, or your analysis of the FIRE economy or the housing bubble or the military-industrial complex, that is their right. I think, for me, one of the most frustrating things in learning about the current status of economic reporting is the public's acceptance of official government inflation and unemployment numbers. While I live in a city and county with seemingly endless jobs, I have seen places (recently!) in this country that are hurting. Under-reporting of inflation, bad statistics for unemployment, no official M3 from the Fed.

          As the proprietor of this website, I can understand wanting to take a more neutral, stay-with-the-facts type tone. Fortunately, your audience is given freedom to expand beyond that. It is clear to me that the Bush II administration is the absolute worst in U.S. History. There is nothing they haven't screwed up. Nothing. Well, I take that back. They haven't screwed up the profits of the oil and military industrial complex. But in any case, the evidence is there. Anyone not completely blinded by the fox news channel and their own narrow world view can see that he has harmed our country, and this world, very gravely. And not just that, but the opposition party still does not have the willpower or the balls, or maybe even the want, to do anything about it (knowing that the system that props him up also makes the other politicians a lot of money as well).

          If someone chooses not to see a link between Iraq, Bush administration policies, history, and economics, and other political events, that is their choice. Caveat emptor. People also choose to buy record numbers of homes at the top of the RE bubble in 2005, despite your analysis. It is likely now you have more influence than in 2005 with itulip being around and likely gaining in popularity. And how many people also did not listen to itulip in 1998, 1999, and 2000 with the tech bubble?

          To be frank, people writing "critical notes" should air their grievances on the public forums and give their reasonings. If they are too chicken-S to do so, and are just whining or bitching or going wah wah you are being unfair, they can frankly all go to hell, or go read a mainstream media newspaper, which is probably worse. Or they can start their own websites or blogs. Either way for some reason all I can think of is Trinity from the Matrix:

          "And since I am the ranking officer on this ship, if you don't like it... I believe you can go to hell. Because you're not going anywhere else."

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Crossing the line into politics?

            Nice rant. Funny that bagholders won't sit down at the blackjack table and bet $5 without at least knowing the basics of how blackjack is played. Yet these same bagholders will bet their life savings in the big casino knowing even less about the stockmarket and how that game is played. The market owns the government, the market owns the media, so how someone can keep this destintion separate I have no idea.
            Last edited by Tet; 05-22-07, 10:50 AM.
            "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
            - Charles Mackay

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Crossing the line into politics?

              Originally posted by Tet View Post
              The market owns the government, the market owns the media, so how someone can keep this destintion separate I have no idea.

              Shssss... Why give away the store?

              You know, I have come to find out that helping your fellow human beings is pretty much a thankless job. I have much more to say but it would be just a waste of your time and mine.

              Cheers,

              -Sapiens

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Crossing the line into politics?

                Originally posted by Sapiens View Post
                Shssss... Why give away the store?

                You know, I have come to find out that helping your fellow human beings is pretty much a thankless job. I have much more to say but it would be just a waste of your time and mine.

                Cheers,

                -Sapiens
                Actually, it's worse than that. "No good deed goes unpunished."

                You have to charge $$$.
                Ed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Crossing the line into politics?

                  Originally posted by Fred View Post
                  Actually, it's worse than that. "No good deed goes unpunished."

                  You have to charge $$$.
                  Wow, isn't that the truth! At least you would get paid when people turn ungrateful. Life is a fickle business indeed.

                  Thanks for that!

                  -Sapiens
                  Last edited by Sapiens; 05-23-07, 04:47 AM.

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