Category Archives: Blogs

How the U.S. Debt Affects You

$20 Gold Coin
Real Money: 1907 $20 gold coin

Fiat money, that is money without intrinsic value, is a fascinating topic. Only money backed by a commodity that has intrinsic value, such as gold and silver, can be said to be of value. Such money is redeemable in gold or silver, and its quantity in circulation is limited by the amount of gold of silver available.

The money we use today has only government’s say so that it is of “value.” It is not redeemable in anything. Its quantity is at the will of the Federal Reserve, who has control of the money supply via its power to create credit with interest rates and reserve requirements.

Pictured above on the left is a $20 United States Bank Note, which was redeemable in gold until 1971; that can be considered real money.  On the right is a $20 Federal Reserve Note, backed by the “full faith and credit” of the federal government.  Good luck hoping it will maintain any “value.”

An associate of the Just Vote No Blog editor considers the topic of fiat money the most important one of our day, and provided some insights used by JVN in this article.

Money 101

The U.S. Constitution has two authorities on “money” (Article 1, Section 8):

* To coin money and regulate the value thereof.

During Colonial days gold and silver were considered “money”.  Money was a commodity. “Setting the value thereof” is like making sure a pound is a pound so people can buy the same pound of coffee, for example. A dollar is a dollar is a dollar. This is not the case today. As Consumer Price Index fluctuations show, a dollar today may not buy the same amount of goods as a dollar tomorrow.

* To borrow money on the credit of the United States.

This is the arrangement under which we operate today. There is no actual “money” with intrinsic value in circulation. We are operating under a credit/debit system which is a system of accounts. Under this system, money and debt can be created at will to finance government operations, provide for public assistance, maintain the armed forces, and pay for any other function government decides to undertake. Near-zero interest rates allow for servicing the debt.

Outcomes

All actions, including implementation of government policies, have outcomes or consequences – good and bad. The U.S. monetary/financial model characterized by liberal use of borrowing and the existence of a central bank (the Federal Reserve Bank) is no different. Let’s pick some outcomes at random:

* The Federal Reserve System through debt-issued currency, manipulation of interest rates and steady inflation allows our wealth to be eroded without us even realizing. When government increases money in circulation, consumers will likely use it to purchase additional items they would not have normally bought. Often the supply of goods does not keep up with the increased demand, resulting in a rise in prices. So, if you needed $20 to buy your lunch, now you need $25 or $30. If you were confident your bank savings would help you through a financial setback, you might not be now.

* A central bank’s control of interest rates and bank reserve requirements allow for manipulation of people’s behavior. Near-zero interest rates form the habit of living on credit – why worry about saving or having any cash to pay one’s living expenses or obligations? Cash is anonymous, but credit is not. When you buy with credit, businesses inventory and catalog you, not only so they can stay in touch and collect the debt, but also so that they can try to sell you even more stuff.

* The current U.S. debt was about $21 trillion in March 2018 — the largest sovereign debt in the world for a single country. Debt is necessary to run a country when revenues such as taxes and fees are not sufficient to cover expenses. As debt approaches unsustainable limits, it is logical for government to ensure that every citizen pays his/her “fair share” of taxes. That includes encouraging traceable payments systems. So, it is not only businesses that want you to move towards a “cashless society” so you can be watched. 

The Fading Free Society

We cannot preserve our liberty if we cannot maintain our purchasing power and stay solvent as people, as a state and as a nation. We need to focus on the issue of fiat money, and the associated issues of central planning and debt. The Founding Fathers were forced to do so when faced with enormous war debts and worthless currency. Their solution was to include in the U.S. Constitution Article I Section 10, which prevents states from making “any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” But the U.S. Congress was granted power the “to borrow money on credit.” We the People need to be more mindful of that credit card.

Poverty in the Land of Plenty

The U.S. is a rich country judging by its massive economy as measured by GDP, standard of living and availability of goods and services. Yet, the U.S. has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. Among OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) member countries, mostly developed countries, the U.S. ranks third highest in poverty.

Poverty is not evenly distributed among the U.S.’s 50 states, but is concentrated in a few, with California leading the way as having the highest poverty rate in the nation and contributing the most to the U.S.’s lamentable rank among developed countries. Even more disturbing is the fact that California’s GDP in current U.S. dollars ranks No. 1 among all other states.   Read More

Supplemental Poverty Measure

 

 

Pick one: Tyler Durden or Paul Krugman

The news media is having its problems these days. If the media is not being called fake news, it’s being called conspiratorial. Fact checkers have sprouted like crabgrass, and legislators – state, federal, you name it – have rushed to protect consumers from being stripped of all their personal information or being exposed to deviations from the status quo.

So what to do? The macro approach suggests that you read a variety of news sources – established, alternative, left-leaning, right-leaning, and even libertarian if you are really brave. The micro approach is to pick your favorite echo chamber and stick with it. The latter approach might be advisable if you need/want to do things other than look at the news. If you really need/want to narrow your choices even further, pick either Paul Krugman or Tyler Durden. Why those two? Why not.

Helping You to Pick

Fifht Club - CopyAs everybody knows, Paul Krugman is the Nobel Prize winning economist that explains our present and predicts our future on the New York Times. Tyler Durden is a fictional character in the book and movie The Fight Club, but he also lends his name to the writers and editors of the political/financial/life-experience website Zero Hedge. Although Professor Krugman is predictably and consistently left-leaning, “Tyler Durden” of Zero Hedge is, according to reviewers, alt-right, anarchical, doom and gloom, and “extremely influential in the New York, London and global hedge fund community.”  (Pictured:  Tyler Durden, i.e. Brad Pitt, in The Fight Club)

Their track record? Let’s pick what each said on November 9, 2016.

* Paul Krugman on November 9, 2016, regarding the U.S. stock market:

I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in, eight years after the great financial crisis.

Now comes the mother of all adverse effects — and what it brings with it is a regime that will be ignorant of economic policy and hostile to any effort to make it work. Effective fiscal support for the Fed? Not a chance. In fact, you can bet that the Fed will lose its independence, and be bullied by cranks.

…So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.

* Tyler Durden on November 9, 2016, regarding the U.S. stock market:

Just like with Brexit, the so-called Wall Street experts scrambled to paint a picture of doom and gloom, warning traders, and markets, that the end of the world is imminent should Trump win, and that stocks could drop by 5%, 10% or more should Donald Trump get elected president. And again, just like in the case of Brexit, they convinced the algos and the momentum chasing traders. Briefly. Because after futures hit the 5% down limit shortly after the market realized it was dead wrong about the presidential election, they have since soared nearly 80 points of the overnight lows and are well above the Friday, pre-Comey close, level.

How come?

Simple: as we have repeatedly said, a Trump victory, coupled with lower taxes, a spike in infrastructure spending, and a surge in debt is precisely what the economy – and a normalized market, one not manipulated daily by central banks – wanted and needed, as it not only will prompt yields to rise, but it will assure even more QE in the near future as foreign buyers of US debt disappear (assuming Trump does not do away with the Fed entirely, which for a man running a real estate empire, he won’t do as he ultimately needs lower rate.)

It’s the Fundamentals

RationalWiki describes Zero Hedge colorfully, and as several other reviewers mentions that ZH follows the Austrian School of Economics — you, know, the non-Keynesian guys.

Zero Hedge is a batshit insane Austrian school finance blog run by two pseudonymous founders who post articles under the name “Tyler Durden..”

Bill Clinton’s rousing campaign slogan “It’s the economy, stupid,” was instrumental in his winning the presidency against incumbent George H.W. Bush. Tyler Durden should adopt a similar slogan about the stock market, “It’s the fundamentals, stupid.”

However, there are plenty of people who prefer ideology over fundamentals, so Just Vote No suggests Paul Krugman.

The Great Social Media Purge of 2018!

Vulture 8Media users that do not follow today’s prescribed line of thinking are feeling the pain. Outliers big and small are squawking loudly and persistently about curtailed “reach” of posts, invisible tweets, and shadow banning. Seems that The Powers that Be have devised a most effective way to help silence any differing views.

The Decline of America

Such media efforts are only the latest developments aiding in the nation’s covert decline – a decline evidenced by a gargantuan and growing national debt, decimation of our manufacturing base, rise of the 1% accompanied by decline of the middle class and explosive growth of the dependent class.

Why would this media tantrum rank right up there with the biggies, such as the tax-and-spend mentality that led to the gargantuan debt, that led to the need for near-zero interest rates to enable debt payments, that led to easy borrowing, that led to breezy acquisitions on borrowed money, that led to monopolies.

The reason is that the media tantrum is 1) the result of powerful monopolies, and 2) monopolies demand obedience.

Obedience creates an echo chamber into which we plebeians must fit. Inhabitants of echo chambers do not think; they regurgitate. They do not create; they copy. They do not question; they accept. They are good at following orders.

Rise of the Monopolists

Conversely, monopolists do not follow, but lead. Take for example, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook. There is no question that Mr. Thiel’s innovations in several industrial and financial sectors have greatly benefited people. Most of us have made good use of PayPal or aspire to own an electric car, and businesses benefit from the data integration provided by Palantir. However, in spite of his obvious intellect, Mr. Thiel’s view of monopolies seems self serving. Here is an excerpt from an article discussing Peter Thiel’s book Three Cheers for Creative Monopolies.

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel advocates the benefits of creative monopoly. That’s a company that is “so good at what it does that no other firm can offer a close substitute.” They give customers more choices “by adding entirely new categories of abundance to the world.

He goes on to say, “All happy companies are different: Each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: They failed to escape competition.” He suggests entrepreneurs focus on “What valuable company is nobody building?”  The Balance, May 2018

A monopoly is a monopoly, creative or not, since causes and effects are the same no matter what one calls a monopoly. Today, the cause is barrels full of cash generated by cheap borrowing that enable vertical and horizontal acquisitions. The effect is concentration of products and services in a few gigantic companies, regulated or unregulated.

Sure the giants in their field offer consumers “choices,” as Peter Thiel says. But to what extent? You don’t like the way Facebook is treating you? Go to the competition! Oh wait, there isn’t any.

There Once Was the Model T

Ford Model T 2 - CopyOne might say that when Henry Ford perfected the assembly lines that produced the Model T, a car that dominated the market for its relative affordability and simplicity, his company earned the distinction of being so good that no other firm offered a close substitute. With the mass-produced Model T, the company also added an entirely new category of abundance to the world.

However, like today’s media giants, the Ford Motor Company had a strange way of offering consumer choices. Henry Ford famously said,

Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.

So, General Motors, who up until then catered to the moneyed class, started to make affordable cars that were not black, and had bells and whistles that the utilitarian Model T eschewed.

Good lesson on how to thwart a company’s dominance in a market!

It’s Their House

Private companies, including those that provide media services, should be free to run their businesses as they see fit. It’s their house.

It is up to consumers to do their due diligence so they understand what they are purchasing and how they are paying in one form or another for the products and services they buy. The cost might be a tacit agreement to tow the prescribed line of thinking. Or the cost might be sharing all your needs, wants, preferences, and ideals so you can be efficiently placed in the appropriate marketing and cultural category.

It is also up to consumers, as well as voters, to make choices. Some consumers now suffering from the whims of media might be tempted to clamor for government regulation, thereby exchanging one master for another.

Miracles do happen, and perhaps once enough consumers of media, especially social media, complain about their dissenting opinions being scrubbed from view, media companies will see the error of their ways and be inclusive (a favorite term of progressives). But if that miracle does not happen….

Be Creative!

Must you settle for being dependent on media, especially social media? How about creating your own mailing lists, reaching out to like-minded people and groups, supporting the endeavors of like-minded people in exchange for their support?

Might participating in the rise of creative alternative means of communication be a better choice than continuing to send out invisible tweets and posts?

One Republican in a Sea of Democrats

Although the Just Vote No Blog is non-partisan, it is definitely political, and definitely liberty-leaning!

Thus the reason for this post on John Dennis, a Republican who is running for City Supervisor in a town without one single Republican elected official. The only Republican to hold elected office in San Francisco in the recent past was James Fang, who was unseated from his Bay Area Rapid Transit Board seat by Nick Josefowitz, a Democrat whose campaign made a point of suggesting that a Republican had no place in San Francisco.  Now Josefowitz is also running for Supervisor in the same district as John Dennis.

The Uncharacteristic Candidate

A peculiarity of this Supervisorial campaign is that John Dennis is a peculiar Republican. One would not discern that from his current campaign website, since the office of San Francisco City Supervisor (what other towns might call council member) is non-partisan and nowadays pretty much focused of homelessness, the housing shortage, and dirty streets.

However, Dennis conducted three most lively campaigns, against totally entrenched Democrat Representative of Congressional District 12, Nancy Pelosi (2010, 2012, 2014). In those campaigns Dennis made news as an uncharacteristic Republican. As sample, here are excerpt from a 2014 Los Angeles Times article.

He differs with social conservatives on same-sex marriage, believing such wedlock is none of the federal government’s business, and also on legalized abortion, saying he is “not comfortable using the force of the state” to outlaw the procedure. He breaks with the chest-thumpers in the GOP who offer American exceptionalism as a rationale for an expansive and assertive foreign policy.

The L.A. Times article mentions U.S. Congressman, now retired, Ron Paul, the uncompromising supporter of individual liberty (readers can safely ignore the article’s reference to Paul’s “neo-isolationism,” since there is a difference between isolationism and imperialism). Paul ran for President three times, 1988, 2008, and 2012.

Paul, of course, came nowhere close to winning the GOP presidential nomination, due in no small part to his provocative neo-isolationism. He did, though, build a national following of like-minded Ayn Rand acolytes who shared his fiercely anti-Washington, small-government, keep-your-mitts-off-me-and-my-property philosophy. Dennis, 51, was one of them.

Could this Republican Win?

Does this Republican have a chance to win the Supervisor’s race in San Francisco’s District 2, when the town is solid Democrat?  He could!  The San Francisco Examiner carried a recent article stating that a random survey “placed Dennis second behind the incumbent, Supervisor Catherine Stefani.”  One might add the survey placed Dennis ahead of Nick Josephowitz, the aforementioned BART Board director, and Schuyler Hudak, a media startup founder also in the race.

Speaking of Ron Paul

Finally, speaking of Ron Paul, here is an old picture of Ron Paul and John Dennis that a lot of liberty-leaning folks still like to post.

RonPaulandJohnDennis

In Defense of Chaos

Ohio Governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich’s interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on September 5th should make one wonder whether he is apprehensive about Donald Trump’s governing style, or he is a sore loser.  Perhaps the Governor’s droning on about the chaos in the White House that, in the Governor’s view, is preventing things from “getting done” might be an indication of the latter – how could Trump, of reality TV, win the presidency over an established long-time politician?

One could point that maybe some in the electorate are seeing through established long-time politicians, and one could point to the uncontrollably agitated behavior of the anti-Trump resistance as an indication that a lot is getting done – none of which desired by The Establishment.  Also, one could point that the challenges not being solved that the Governor ascribes to Trump’s chaotic style have been around for decades, unsolved by previous Presidents.

By the way, never mind Governor Kasich’s statement in the Cuomo interview that Senator John McCain was “put to death,” since we have no idea what he meant by that.

Trump 2Now for the Subject at Hand:  Chaos

Governor Kasich and many other Establishment folk excoriate Trump’s chaotic governing style.  Do such critics understand the nature of the word “chaos?”  Here are two examples of this complex and interesting word as it could relate to President Donald Trump’s governing style.

*  Mythology

Chaos was – most Greek cosmologies tell us – the very first of all, the origin of everything, the empty, unfathomable space at the beginning of time … Chaos was the primal feature of the universe, a shadowy realm of mass and energy from which much of what is powerful (and mostly negative and dark) in the world would stem forth in later genealogies.  Chaos, Greek Mythology

The scenario in 2016 featured a $19.57 trillion national debt, a moribund manufacturing sector that wiped out the earnings potential of a vast portion of U.S. workers, 21.3% of the U.S. population in some form of public assistance, and a gargantuan bureaucracy supported by more taxes than taxpayers would like.

To fix such scenario, one would need a clean slate, dismantling much of the entrenched status quo.  What better way to accomplish such an objective than through chaos – the origin of everything, negative and dark to any opposing force.

*  Business Structures

Organizations are focused on structure and design. Charts are drawn to illustrate who is accountable to whom or who plays what role and when … They build models of organizational practice and policy with hope that this atomizing yields better information on how to improve the organization’s functioning. However, chaos theory implies that this is unnecessary, even harmful.

As the global economy and technology continue to change the way business is conducted on a daily basis, evidence of chaos is clearly visible. While businesses could once succeed as “non-adaptive,” controlling institutions with permanently-installed hierarchical structures, modern corporations must be able to restructure as markets expand and technology evolves.  Chaos Theory

In other words, the order and structure cherished by today’s Establishment is useless in today’s chaotic world, unless the uselessness is beneficial in perpetration of The Establishment.

Results

The bottom line of any undertaking are results.  Are policies promised during Trump’s campaign being accomplished?  Most unbiased observers — as well as CNN interviewer Chris Cuomo, who spoke with Governor Kasich — would say “yes.”  Unfortunately, such results are most worrisome to the Trump opposition. And thus, the misinterpretation of the word “chaos.”

Chaos is the non-linear way to restructure the status quo, available to any political persuasion.  Remember, for example, the chaos generated by anti Vietnam War demonstrators, or by civil rights workers?  Chaos was the most effective way of making their vision of the world a reality.

Bloggers Beware Part II – 20 Proposals to Regulate the Internet

Mark Warner 2 - Copy
Mark Warner

U.S. Senator Mark Warner appears to be on a mission to “nationalize” the Internet, the result of which no doubt will be restriction of content, stifling of innovation, and scarce improvements in data protection or consumer privacy. The gentleman from Virginia has published a white paper called Potential Policy Proposals for Regulation of Social Media and Technology Firms.

Liberty-leaning folks will not even need to read the 23 pages of proposals; they will only need to read the word “regulation” on the title of a paper dealing with platforms on which people express their thoughts, political leanings, religious beliefs, or business strategies.

Were Senator Warner’s white paper an isolated case of regulating free expression, there would be less cause for concern that is warranted in the wake of other legislation curbing the actions of websites, social media, bloggers, and others who express themselves on-line. This Just Vote No Blog recently wrote about California Senate Bill 1424 which aims to establish a Social Media Advisory Group “to study the problem of the spread of false information through Internet-based social media platforms, and draft a model strategic plan for Internet-based social media platforms to use to mitigate this problem.” Will your blog or post be declared “false information” because the powers that be did not like what you said?

The words “regulation” and “Internet” should not even be in the same sentence, since proposals such as these can only bring unfortunate consequences to our freedoms, as well as to our economic well being.

Find a Crisis and Exploit It

Kaiser Industries built a lot of roads and homes in California. Its pink cement-mixing trucks painted with the slogan “Find a Need and Fill It” were part of the state’s lore. Those were the 1950s, when industrialist/innovator Henry Kaiser found a need for homes, roads and factories, and filled that need by building them – with government’s blessings.

Today, it seems the dominant slogan is not the entrepreneurs’ find a need and fill it, but government’s find a crisis and exploit it. Instead of letting industrialists and innovators like Henry Kaiser produce the goods and services consumers want, government focuses on finding crises (or manufacturing them) and using these crises to tie the hands of producers and expand its reach.

Senator Warner’s 20 proposals to regulate the Internet serve as examples. Here is an excerpt from his white paper:

In the course of investigating Russia’s unprecedented interference in the 2016 election, the extent to which many technologies have been exploited – and their providers caught repeatedly flat-footed – has been unmistakable. More than illuminating the capacity of these technologies to be exploited by bad actors, the revelations of the last year have revealed the dark underbelly of the entire ecosystem. The speed with which these products have grown and come to dominated nearly every aspect of our social, political and economic lives has in many ways obscured the shortcomings of their creators in anticipating the harmful effects of their use. Government has failed to adapt and has been incapable or unwilling to adequately address the impacts of these trends on privacy, competition, and public discourse.

Before we even examine the 20 proposals, we might note the arrogance contained in the paragraph above:

* “Unprecedented interference in the 2016 election?” Hardly. Interference in the form of influence, spying and other strategies has happened several times in the past. A famous example of interference is Britain’s campaign to discredit Charles Lindbergh, leader of the “America First” movement of the 1940s, in an attempt to obtain military help from the U.S. in WWII.

* “Dark underbelly?” Perhaps Senator Warner could consider focusing on draining some swamps in Washington DC, rather than worry about Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook having a dark underbelly.

* “Anticipating harmful effects?” How good has been government in anticipating the harmful effects of its policies? How is the good old War on Drugs working for you and your family, especially if you happen to live in a poor neighborhood?

* “Government has failed to adapt” is always Newspeak for not yet passing more and more laws.

As noted in Senator Warner’s introduction to his proposals quoted above, the proposals purport to protect consumers and defend “our Democratic Institutions.” However, all “protection,” whether from government, the Mafia, or from zealous family members comes at a price. The price consumers must pay if they accept the “security” offered by proposals such as that of Senator Warner is loss of liberty. To protect one’s liberty one must make the effort to remain informed and exercise critical thinking. We must understand the products and services we use, and choose them wisely. We must not depend on “protectors” who most likely have their own agenda. This Just Vote No Blog wrote about that on our post Smart Cities – Your Life in a Fish Bowl.

Highlights of the 20 Proposals

These are what this Just Vote No Blog considers highlights of the 20 Proposals:

* Determine origins of posts and/or accounts to prevent bad actors from assuming false identities and influencing political debate.

* Identify inauthentic accounts to prevent spread of disinformation that pose a threat to our democratic process and undermine the integrity of digital markets.

* Make platforms liable for state-law torts (defamation, false light, public disclosure of private facts) for failure to take down deep fake or other manipulated audio/video content.

* Propose legislation that guarantees that platforms above a certain size provide independent, public interest researchers with access to anonymized activity data in order to measure and audit social trends on platforms that could help inform action by regulators in Congress.

* Require disclosures for online political advertisements in order to prevent targeted political ads sponsored by foreign advertisers. Require that platforms make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political ads.

* Establish a Public Initiative for Media Literacy funded by the federal government and primarily administered by state and local educational institutions.  Building media literacy from an early age would help build long-term resilience to foreign manipulation of our democracy.

* Deem as information fiduciaries certain types of online service providers – including search engines, social networks, ISPs, and cloud computing providers – because of the extent of user dependence on them, as well as the extent to which they are entrusted with sensitive information.

* Endow the FTC with privacy rule making authority, so as to enable it to respond to changes in technology and business practices, as well as increase its funding.

* Adopt GDPR-like legislation. One major tenant of the GDPR (that the US could or could not adopt) is the potential of high penalties for non-compliance in which a company or organization can be fined.

* Determine that dark patters — user interfaces that have been intentionally designed to sway users towards taking actions they would otherwise not take under effective, informed consent — are unfair and deceptive trade practices. To address this, FTC could be given rule-making authority to ensure that the law keeps pace with business practices.

* Set mandatory federal standards for platform algorithms to be auditable, so that outputs of algorithms are evaluated for efficacy/fairness and potential hidden bias.

* Pass a bill requiring data transparency, such that free platforms provide users with an annual estimate of what their data was worth to the platform, which would provide significant price transparency, educate consumers on the true value of their data, and potentially attracting new competitors.  Data transparency would also assist antitrust enforcement agencies like the FTC and DOJ.

* Pass legislation that could define thresholds such as user base size, market share, or level of dependence of wider ecosystems, beyond which certain core functions/platforms/apps would constitute essential facilities, requiring a platform to provide third party access on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and prevent platforms from engaging in self-dealing or preferential conduct.

Does Anyone Actually Read Terms of Use?

Senator Warner’s 20 Proposals to Regulate the Internet might bring to mind prescription drug ads and their interminable laundry list of side effects. Have all the regulations imposed on drug companies prompted patients to consume less drugs or become more aware of side effects such as addictions? Have all the regulations lowered drug prices? Senator Warner’s 20 Proposals would most likely have the same result as the required listing of side effects.

However, more serious than ineffectiveness are the consequences. The proposals listed above lean towards the following outcomes:

* On-line social media platforms that host content, such as Facebook or Google Plus, will become liable for what is posted. This liability will transform social media’s function, increase the costs of operating a platform, discourage new entrants due to high costs and the threat of liability, subject platforms to the whims of powers that be bent on surpresing opposition, and is open ended. Will liability apply to content management systems such as WordPress or Joomla? Will e-mail clients such as Thunderbird or Apple Mail be liable for the content of e-newsletters, meeting announcements, or communication between group members?

* One of the proposals is the establishment of a Public Initiative for Media Literacy, funded by the federal government and primarily administered by state and local educational institutions, to build media literacy from an early age that would “help build long-term resilience to foreign manipulation of our democracy.” Perhaps the real concern here should be the manipulation of our children’s minds? How about just teaching our kids to think critically instead?

* Mandatory standards for auditable platform algorithms sounds more like killing the golden goose of innovative proprietary code than protecting consumers or defending our Democratic institutions. How far will “auditable” go? How can proprietary code be proprietary when it in essence becomes open source?

* One of the 20 Proposals is to declare the Internet an essential facility. We as a People need to decide what we want the Internet to be: 1) a host for information of all types, ideas, random thoughts, beliefs, as well as a leveler of playing fields where a user with little financial wherewithal can start a future multi-billion dollar company from his/her dorm room; or 2) do we want the Internet to be just another regulated utility.

* Lastly, Senator Warner seems to think his 20 Proposals will improve competition by tying the hands of the big social media companies and supposedly facilitating new entrants. Here are three points to consider:

Successful people make it big by aspiring to be big. They do not enter a market that highly regulates bigness just because they are little, since they do not intend to remain little.

Successful people do not need government legislation, rather they avail themselves of government policies. For example, when government (because of its gargantuan national debt) keeps interest rates ridiculously low, smart people borrow loads of money, offer stockholders of competitors good prices, and sail into near-monopoly positions.

Remember WordPerfect and Quatro Pro, or MySpace? These guys dominated the word processing, spreadsheet, and social media markets respectively. But then came Word Office Suite and Facebook. So, big companies can be replaced by smarter and nimbler ones.

As the Wall Street Journal says in its article Warner’s Plan to Ruin the Internet,
“Mr. Warner has flexed his congressional muscles and made a point. Now he can go away.”  We concur.