Sunday, September 6, 2020

Revoking 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka and Elections in the US.

Abstract: A centralized govt in Sri Lanka is necessary maintain Law and order. Devolution of power to provinces may be stepping stone to de facto Federalism and a client Federal state to India. The cautionary example is the US and its separation of Federal and State powers. The separation of US and State power has lead to inconsistent implementation of law and order, including even minor issues, such as wearing of masks.

 

In 1987 under duress from India under Rajiv Gandhi, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was signed.  Part of
the accord was the Devolution of land, the police and financial powers to the Provinces.   This pretty much de facto  Federalism was incorporated as the 13th Amendment (13A) into the Sri Lankan  Constitution.

The main issue with de facto Federalism is that it might be either a stepping stone for separate North and East state and or a client state/province of India.  As if to prove that fear in February 2016, the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka's Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran sought India's direct intervention in the complete implementation of the amendment.  

There is a call from some of the minority Tamil population (12% of Total) to merge the North and East Provinces creating a province that would encompass 28.78% of Sri Lankas land area and 11.9% of the total population.  The minority Tamil population in this merged province would be 1,597,276 ( 987,692 + 609,584).   That is a 7% Tamil population of all of  Sri Lanka.   The two merged provinces have total population of 2,610,143 (1,058,762+1,551,381), making the Tamil minority 61%.

Land Area and Population North and East Provinces
Northern Province Land Area 8,884 km2 (3,430 sq mi) (13.54% of total area),
Population 1,058,762 ((5.22% of total pop.)
Tamil Population: 987,692 (93.29%)
Eastern Province:

Land: 9,996 km2 (3,859 sq mi) (15.24% of total area)
Population:
1,551,381 (7.66% of total pop)
Tamil Population: 609,584 (39.29%)



Cautionary Example: The US


In the US, excess Police Brutality on Black and Hispanics has resulted in protests,  some peaceful and some marred by violence and looting.  There is circumstantial evidence that Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests have been co-opted for political purposed.   CIA manual psychological regime change and Color revolution tactics are permeating into US politics. 

Prominent opinion makers like David Brooks in a NY Times opinion piece advocates a color revolution if Trump wins. .
It turns out, amid the existential crisis, there really is a group of sober people who are militant about America, who can see reality unblinkered by the lens of partisanship, and who are finally compelled to organize.

If Trump claims a victory that is not rightly his, a few marches in the streets will not be an adequate response. There may have to be a sustained campaign of civic action, as in Hong Kong and Belarus, to rally the majority that wants to preserve democracy, that isolates those who would undo it
.
Even some immigrant Sri Lankans, are inciting violence. A Sri Lankan, who works at the Pentagon and should know better as minority Tamil in SL says
against Trump is so high that many of us feel like physically beating up any Trump supporter we come across.
Imagine the energy on the far left then. The Trump enabling mafia is going to learn a painful lesson; for the unpardonable sin of foisting Trump on the country.
Some other Sri Lankans may not advocate violence, but
If people want to be relevant how about striving to  be the largest tax paying ethnicity? Betcha your lives will matter then.

Me: As usual you make supercilious, new immigrant, they as in Black and Hispanic are "looser" type remarks. When were you and yours ever in the forefront defending the US, other than as an armchair warrior.
Me: I guess you dont think Black and Hispanic are part of the "Brave" (as in Land of the Free and Brave) who have been in forefront of the right or wrong wars the US has been fighting.

Obviously, there is potential for color revolution type protests, violence, riots after elections.  Will the federal govt be able to maintain law and order.  From what is happening now in the US now it is extremely doubtful.  Because of the division of power between the Federal Govt and State governments there is no consistent implementation of Law and order, even a simple issue as such as wearing a mask. 

Accusations of Democrat vs Republican  Governors and their ability to keep Law and order are flying around.  Post elections in the US, is it the Federal Government or the State Governments that are going to be responsible for  "Law and order".

I think many are avoiding an issue as to why the current Fed govt is reluctant to get the military out. Because they are not sure which side they (as in the foot soldiers) will decide to support. 40% of the military is minority and very likely much higher at the rank and file level.

Relevance to Sri Lanka: Federal vs State law

My opinion:
Advantages of  Central Govt vs Devolution/Province is going to be very obvious after US elections. 





*Side Comment: 
My great Grandparents converted to Christianity because of of Americans.




References
https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/kamala-harris-the-dems-and-sri-lanka/comment-page-1/?unapproved=2357187&moderation-hash=a64098635d4feaf243a934669388d65f#comment-2357187

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/499857-trump-biden-campaigns-mirror-cia/



Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Irish Enslavement In Colonial America

The Irish slave trade began when 30,000 Irish prisoners were sold as slaves to the New World. The King James I Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

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Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African. The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves. This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.
There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry. In 1839, Britain finally decided on its own to end its participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.
But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.

Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories

Friday, June 12, 2020

What Changes Needed for the US

Start with a quote from Matt Stoller (2011)
Change needs to happen—and it will happen, either through good leadership or through collapse.
The US has choices, most other countries dont.

With all the chaos and rioting there are no specific goals to make the US equitable, specially for the lower rungs of society.  My thoughts of specific goals.

What should be done immediately
a) Give aid to direct individuals
   This includes free testing and health care

b) Debt Jubilee, i.e. forgiveness of debt. 
   Rent, Mortgage forgiveness based on income/job.
   NOT a deferral with a huge amount coming due in the future

Electoral Process
The President, Congress and Senators need to be more answerable to the public.  The way the current system works, public votes and President, Congress and elected officials do the bidding of their paymasters, the big money  Multinationals and Military Industrialist.  This change is imperative for a proper functioning democracy.

So
a) No lobbyists, period.  Caught lobbying or accepting lobby, at least a few years in Jail.
    Lobbying is legalized bribery and corruption.
b) Campaign Finance: I would prefer only a govt funding, equal to all contestants. 
    Or only donations by individuals with cap on amount.
c) Two term limit for Senators

Finance Specific*
a) Let Too Big to Fail companies/banks go bust if they are not profitable ,
    instead of propping them up with more and more trillion dollar handouts.
b) Stop derivatives being used for speculation/betting.
    Can be used as hedge against asset on the books. 
    If the asset is sold, the derivative needs to be unwound.
c) Share buybacks be made illegal.

I dont think USD 6 Trillion injection into financial markets will solve the Covid19 pandemic or the chaos in the US. 
To put the 6 Trillion into perspective.  US GDP is USD 19 Trillion.  Public debt is  USD 18 trillion Interest public debt USD 479 billion/0.5 Trillion (10% of Budget)

*Some suggestions by VijayVan

Manufacturing
Its not about cutting costs per se. Think the Henry Ford saying, workers should be able to buy what is produced. For that the US must first throw out Free Trade and embrace protectionist. Start Manufacturing and give Price protection to what is manufactured.   Same for Oil, the US is self sufficient. 
But all of this means ditching the Petro dollar, and the global monetary power that comes with it.  So very unlikely those changes will be by choice.

Society:
A push for polices that re vitalize small towns with self reliant economies.   Not just a suburban enclave dependent on commuters working in a nearby big city.  Coupled with small or medium manufacturing.  i.e. Supply chain is mainly within the US.

Maybe even a partial break up of Big Ag and land distribution (100 acres or so) specifically for Agriculture.  I think subsidies for small scale farmers is fine.  Much better that trillion dollar bail outs for Big Ags.

Wars
The US will have to make some serious decisions about being the global policeman, and conducting wars. (I doubt will happen without change in Campaign Finance/Electoral Process).  The US Might has turned to "might happen". Trillions on war, has not made the US safe.  Never ending Wars and nary a benefit except debt and death.
This does not mean disbanding the military.  Any country needs to defend itself against invasions.  The choice is wars of aggression in distant lands or developing the economy.
US Spending on wars Iraq War: +1 Trillion Afghan War: 1 Trillion  Military: 500 billion/year




Wednesday, June 10, 2020

March 2020 Facebook Comment

Note:  This was written in March long before the George Floyd chaos.

The next 6-9 months will be a test of resiliency of societies. It is going to test the social and economic cohesiveness of societies to depression level economic downturns.
Countries have different gods. In the US and UK now it is "Personal Freedom" and the stockmarket.
In the US they pumping billions into the financial world, including the stock market expecting the progression of the virus to be stopped. The "Personal Freedom" god makes people go to spring breaks at the beach (US) and huge concerts (UK).

Sri Lanka has just come out of 30 year civil war, with two insurgencies one within the majority community (71 and 87-89) and the other between a minority community and majority community (1977-2009). The initial underlying causes were economic disparity with metastasized into class and ethnic insurgencies.

In comparison to Sri Lanka the US is a deeply fractured society. The fractures are readily visible to those willing to travel out of their suburban comfort zone. Baltimore, Flint, Camden, the Mid West. To a great extent protests have been contained by drug addiction (9.4% of the population).

The less than socialist aspects of the US are also of concern. Say for example what happens when people cant pay their mortgage because of job losses. Will the govt programs be deferrals, i.e. it all becomes due in a bang or will it be forgiven thru some grant. In contrast Sri Lanka is a) 80% rural and b) almost impossible to evict from a house with mortgage or even rented.

The US does not nurture their own, specially those on the wrong side of the tracks. The US specializes in importing, those nurtured else where and with proven abilities and/or economic resources. The new immigrants, most successful are resented by the locals. Will these resentments boil over in to social disorder as resources and jobs disappear.

Other cracks are becoming visible. The volume of rhetoric and blame is being turned up against China, even by the US President. Will that turn into violence against East and South East Asians. Similar incidents were seen post 9-11, with even Indians being considered Arabs. However the US was more economically stable with the Clinton boom times not yet being over. When people loose their jobs, their health and future is in jeopardy then they go crazy as one might say.


What should be done immediately
a) Give direct aid to individuals
   This includes free testing and health care

b) Debt Jubilee, i.e. forgiveness of debt. 
   Rent, Mortgage forgiveness based on income/job.
   NOT a deferral with a huge amount coming due in the future

US and Finance specific
Stop derivatives being used for speculation/betting.
Can be used as hedge against asset on the books.
If the asset is sold, the derivative needs to be unwound.

Let companies go bust if they are not profitable , instead of propping them up with more and more loans. Let bad companies go bust. No company is too big to fail

3. Share buybacks be made illegal.

In the long run
More Autarky and less reliance on global supply chains.
This brings manufacturing and jobs locally

==




Saturday, May 23, 2020

Covid-19 Fault Lines and Consequences

Is this the Big One as they say for Economic, Finance and Society.

Since 1998 was working in Wall Street. A lot of my work involved Risk in billion dollar portfolios. Most people, look at the upside, but because of my work started looking at the downside and its effects.  By 2003 or so there was some focus on what is called fat tail risk, a higher than normal probability of the downside.  By about 2005 or the chatter was about a collapse of the housing market, i.e. Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS).  Then 2008 Financial collapse happened.  However, the underlying economic structural issues were not fixed. The Too Big to Fail Bankers (TBTF) and oligarchs were bailed out and the average joe hung out to dry.  Those who predicted the 2008 Financial crash, once again warned of a knock on on Finance/Economy would make the dominoes fall and much bigger financial crash.    The Covid-19 Pandemic is a sledge hammer.

As seen financial collapse was expected and predicted. Even the pandemic was not unexpected.  These are not Black Swans, i.e. unexpected events.

To quote from 2011 article by Matt Stoller
And while this may not be hitting the elite segments of the economy right now, there will be no escape from a flu pandemic or significant food shortage. The re-engineering of our global supply chain needs to happen—and it will happen, either through good leadership or through collapse.

Couple of Points/Factors to think About

The Virus War: Make no mistake, this is the real war on Terror. The enemy is invisible, insidious and within.  Normally wars have some breathing space, bombs fall and then a few days of respite.  This war is like water torture a continuous drip drip of sickness and death.  Eventually fatigue sets in, and many become immune to the daily numbers of sickness and death. The Stalinist "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic" becomes the reality, with the death of humanity.

Nation State:  Democracy, mature or not is not a panacea in this kind of crisis. The nation state with the population vested in sacrifices for their common good and destiny is the most well placed to ride out this crisis (eg Korea, Taiwan).  Unhappily, globalization has eroded the common purpose of a nation state.  At the upper end of society, the educated and high wealth are vested in the nation coming together.  The fault lines are at the lower end of society.  Semi-skilled and unskilled are pitted against immigrants.  The poor are divided by racial lines.  This part of society has no vested interest in a democracy or a nation state.
eg. Singapore Fault Lines: The unskilled immigrant low paid labor (1.1 million, 20% of the population) were out of sight, and out of mind. Singapore seemed to have stopped the spread as of March 23, 509 cases and 2 death. The numbers started then exploding, April 23 a single day, the new cases were 1,037. 55 Singaporeans and 982 low skilled immigrants.

Supply Lines: As the unskilled and semi-skilled, low wage workers start to fall sick, expect supply line disruption.  That is food and essentials delivery from warehouse to the local grocery store or supermarket. Maybe an essential pin to fix your motor is no longer available.  Workers in distant Banana Republics, working for multinationals like Dole are going to fall sick and no longer work.

City vs Rural: Cities are dependent on food supply lines, power and water to name the least. Resources are dependent on City/Local govt.  Sense of community, is questionable.  Rural communities on the other hand for the most part can be self sufficient assuming they have one critical resource, water available locally.  Obviously, suburban are intermediate, once again the critical factor being locally available water.

Now to look at a few countries, and their strengths or vulnerabilities based on the above four factors. 
NOTE: These are NOT PREDICTIONS.  Factors and issues to think about,

Start with my Home country, Sri Lanka.
Positives:
80% Rural with most rural having locally available water. Even meat, i.e. hunting (against the law) is becoming quite common  (supply lines).  Older generation (over 60's) has been thru this in 70-77 i.e. Economy collapsed, and we had to be self reliant.

Middle
Nation State: A 30 year separatist war ended in 2009 with a nationalistic govt. After loosing elections in 2015, the nationalistic govt is back in power in Nov 2009. I think they will ensure Nation State, by jack boot if necessary.

Negative:
City dwellers, specially in the high rises (6 -10 floors I think) for former slum dwellers.  Will there be power to supply water to the overhead tanks.  Will this part of society fracture.

To me the biggest threat is nearby India.  not as in the Govt sponsored invasion.  What is to prevent a couple of hundreds of fishing boat making a concerted rush to Sri Lanka.  This not without historical precedent, in the 50's to 70's there were many illegal immigrants from India.
UK
Positives
An economy and reserves, with right policies can mitigate the economic downsides
Suburban towns that border large estates. i.e sheep and other food sources.

Negatives
The cities with immigrants and non English citizens not buying into the nation state
New Zealand
The perfect place to wait out the Pandemic
Positives
Far away from the rest of the world. Self sufficient in food. More sheep and cattle than people.

Negatives
The Maori (15% of population) + Pacific Islanders (5% ?). The Hakka is the cool dance of NZ/Maori and the All Blacks.  But many forget that Maori are warlike, and the Hakka is a war dance.
If things go bad, are the Maori going to buy into a Nation state run by the Pakeah. (The cracks are there)

Hedging Your Risk
Since 2005 I have advised friend and family specially in the US not to rely on house value, 401K, but to go for gold and rural property with own water source.

It is still not too late for gold as a hedge.  That is even with the price of USD 1,800/oz (May 23 2020).   Not much can be done with house, unless you are able to get a home equity loan.  The same with a 401K, take out a loan.  Buy gold, maybe if nothing really happens, sell the gold and pay back loans.  At worst, a small loss.  If the economy collapses, declare bankruptcy and hang onto/sell the gold.

Tried to keep this short as possible.  Once again much is what I have been reading since 2005.  Most or all predicted the 2008 Financial Crisis.  Post 2008 they have been warning of a much larger financial crisis, possibly caused by pandemics or break in global supply lines.  To name most Nouriel Roubini, Raguram Ranjan, Satyajit Das,  Matt Stoller, Matt Tabibi,   The blogs, CalculatedRisk (pre 2008 with Tanta. From Tanta's posts learnt more about MBS than from text books), NakedCapitalism and ZeroHedge often highlighted these authors/finance analysts giving an alternate view of finance and economy.  Much of their predictions are in play now.

To conclude, as I started.
Is this the Big One as they say for Economic, Finance and Society

Too many references.  So just two.
The Big Cycles Over The Last 500 Years, Ray Dalio May 21, 2020
The Collapse of Complex Societies: Joseph Tainter 1988
Tainter lays out his theory of decline: as societies become more complex, the costs of meeting new challenges increase, until there comes a point where extra resources devoted to meeting new challenges produce diminishing and then negative returns. At this point, societies become less complex (they collapse into smaller societies). For Tainter, social problems are always (ultimately) a problem of recruiting enough energy to "fuel" the increasing social complexity which is necessary to solve ever-newer problems.

Sereno Barr-Kumarakulasinghe
May 2020, WilpattuHouse.com









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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Billionare Chamath Palihapitiya CNBC Interview

The U.S. shouldn’t bail out billionaires and hedge funds during the coronavirus pandemic, Social Capital Billionare CEO Chamath Palihapitiya says. “Who cares? Let them get wiped out.

"Just be clear, like, who are we talking about, a hedge fund that serves a bunch of billionaire family offices?" Palihapitiya replies. "Who cares? Let them get wiped out, who cares! They don’t get to summer in the Hamptons? Who cares!”

"On Main Street today, people are getting wiped out, and right now rich CEOs are not, boards that had horrible governance are not, hedge funds are not — people are,"

Palihapitiya says. "Six million people just this week alone saying, 'Holy mackerel, I don't know how I'm going to make my own expenses for the next few weeks, days, months.'

Billionaire Sri Lankan socialist. You can take the Sri Lankan out of Sri Lanka, but you cant take the socialist out of (most) a Sri Lankan.



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

US Stock market, plus Boeing

I thought it would be a War in the mid-east that would get the dominoes falling. Turned out a real black swan. However much many think that the US stock market was on solid foundation, false premise. The underlying instabilities that caused 2008 crash never went away.

Injection of trillions, low Fed Interest rates almost free (now zero rates, i.e free)  helped the stock market soar and insiders to take their money of the table. Middle class Tax payers, Pension funds, the small retail stock buyers are left holding the bag.

I expected a probable drop to 20K and a somewhat probable to 15K. The collapse and drop even surprises me, and other skeptics. Now even 15K seems highly probable. Thats why I say read alternative media, like ZeroHedge, RT and Unz (aka Fake news) to see the other side of the spin.
Boeing:
When Boeing management said it was the fault of foreign pilots (in other words non white) spelt their own doom.  I said Boeing should drop below 100, I did not expect this fast.  Hedge fund operated Boeing, cutting corners to maximize profits. Stock buybacks, were the norm to push up stock price. Investment in safety measures, research and development, was not part of management decisions.
Maybe Trump will inject money into Boeing to get the stock price up. The insiders will sell. Retail idiots who believe Boeing is a great American Company will buy, not knowing Hedge Funds, Bezos and the like are not real Americans, i.e. those who care about the deplorables and others.
Now Trump, like the Boeing guys wants to deflect his responsibility, saying racist Chinese Virus. I think going to end much like the Boeing management.

Unhappily for the US, the alternatives in leadership are equally horrible. Biden another Trump probably worse, in the stages of Dementia and will be a puppet. If Sanders is able to get the nomination (anyone opposing Trump will win), he will be blocked by his own party the Democrats.

Update 1:
Matt Stoller, The Nation. From 2011 (!), still germane:
There’s a good amount of grumbling about the state of American infrastructure—collapsing bridges, high-speed rail, etc. But American infrastructure is not just about public goods, it’s about how the corporations that enforce, inform and organize economic activity are themselves organized. Are they doing productive research? Are they spreading knowledge and know-how to people who will use it responsibly? Are they creating prosperity or extracting wealth using raw power? And most importantly, are they contributing to the robustness of our society, such that we can survive and thrive in the normal course of emergencies?
The answer to all of these questions right now is “no.” And while this may not be hitting the elite segments of the economy right now, there will be no escape from a flu pandemic or significant food shortage. The re-engineering of our global supply chain needs to happen—and it will happen, either through good leadership or through collapse.
Note, again, the date. Stoller: “This stuff was obvious, except to economists.”

https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/how-america-could-collapse/

Dow Jones (DJI)
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