Checkbook Republic: How Much to Buy Ferguson Peace?

Millions of people (including us) did online shopping on Turkey Day rather than wait for the click festival and parking brawls of Black Friday.  The rest of our holiday giving will be made as wire transfers and checks.

When I write that, it sounds like a big deal, but the average transfer size is $100 with a larger check to the local food bank.

There are no numbers to speak of yet – the real deal on that will come out next week, and this morning the market is worried about whether protests over Ferguson will continue or spread.  Fear is about, so look for the online e-tailers to make out like bandits.

As we have opined previously, much of Ferguson has nothing to do with “justice for Brown” so much as it’s a chance for would-be revolutionaries to try out their street corner organizing skills, something America has about had it up to here with. 

As an Associated Press story reveals, Brown’s hands were not up, at least above shoulder height.  But unlike some of the protesters, they actually took the time to read the facts.

I’ve even had my liberal friends calling me to argue that it’s too easy for police to justify shooting of a civilian in Missouri.  That may be, and in which case it’s time for their legislature to address the problem, no doubt.  But underlying it is the matter of “rule of law” and is America going to be intimidated by latter day lynch mobs. 

If it wasn’t Brown’s death, it would have been something else.  There is a class of people in ‘Merica who are spoiling for a fight over just about anything.  So they will line up for the free lunch.

Yet the terrible truth is, suggested one reader, that if we pulled out the police and fire services that put their lives on the line in Ferguson (and elsewhere) and just left the community to show us how enlightened they are, many more square blocks would have been burned to the ground.

Another reader asked:

“Why do these people insist on burning down their own neighborhoods.  Can you please answer that?”

The answer is simple, I wrote back,”Because when they do, we build them new ones.’ 

It’s part of America’s Do-Over industry.  You have to understand how dissention and war is an industry.  In order to keep a country motivated, you need periodic wars to build a national mindset.  Adolph Hitler made this point in his second book – the one following Mein Kampf – the one that no one but me seems to have read.

It works at all kinds of levels, too:  We could have left Japan in ruins to fend for themselves after WW II, or the whole of Europe, too.  But we didn’t and the reason is part altruistic and part blood and guts finance.  The bloody hands of finance are simple enough:  It’s a chance for Americans to get a better style of life while “committing rebuilding.”  Thank you Sony, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan.  And Kubota.

To be sure, I might be accused of racism for having a decent memory, but when I use the term “revolutionaries” to describe the outside agitators who have gone to Ferguson (and elsewhere) to incite, there is ample support in the literature to back up my contention.

For example, in a forward-looking paper in 1996, a scholar in the Foreign Military Studies group of the US Army made some very good observations:

Many misunderstood the LA Riot of 1992 as predominantly a race riot. As witnessed by the California National Guard Field Commander, the riots were seen as a case study in urban warfare.10 The Guard’s counter-riot operations tell of the increasingly dangerous nature of military and police operations in the urban environment.

Black gangs (Bloods and Crips) met a few days before the riots to establish a truce so that they could devote their efforts toward killing Los Angeles police. The riots allowed them to assert their influence on the streets.11 Later (on about 7 or 8 May, during the transition to normalcy), the organized gangs circulated a document calling for $3.726 billion to be spent on a Bloods/Crips law enforcement program, an educational program, a Los Angeles urban renewal program, and a human welfare program. The gangs suggested that Drug Lords would reinvest their funds in the city, and they would provide matching funds for AIDS research and awareness. “Meet these demands and the targeting of police officers will stop,” the gangs advised. By no means were the LA rioters all from black Bloods and Crips gangs. Over half of those arrested during the riots were Hispanics, and over a thousand of those were illegal immigrants, attesting to the inter-ethnic dynamic of the riot.12

The paper “Combat in Cities: The LA Riots and Operation Rio” is still available online, here, and is worth a read.

When I contend that the aftermath of Ferguson is one part local rage and five parts revolutionaries trying to get a foothold, the only item up for discussion is whether the FergRevs get traction.

If you wanted to toss in one or two parts white guilt, that’d be fine, too.  But to attempt to derail (ironically timed) Black Friday shopping, as this report suggests, may be yet-another desperation move by the would-be revolutionaries in an attempt to make Brown more than what it is:  A tragedy in Ferguson, MO.

It can be argued (after reading books like House by House, Block by Block: The Rebirth of America’s Urban Neighborhoods ) that what the demonstrations (and fires and looting and arrests) cause is an economic stimulus.

It’s axiomatic that capitalism turns everything into a Business Model and so why would we expect the outcome of Ferguson and beyond to be anything new?

No, it’s not right.  But unfortunately as I have mentioned before, one of the highlights of the Second Depression is the working out of social evils (like segregation, both economic and racial) and to do that we need a certain destruction of capacity.  That’s what happens in war and it’s what happens when rioting of the King/Brown scale comes along.

Destruction of capacity is also the seed of expanded demand.

The only unknown as this point is how much money will be thrown as what parts of the Ferguson equation? 

I predict a disaster area and out comes the public checkbook.

In the end, what does it buy us?  Ask me in a year or five.But there’s a pattern here.  A repetitive, unhealthy one, at that.  But look at how well war in Europe and Asia has worked in the past…people get that:  Go to war, get money.

More after this….



Oh, that’s the Chicago Fed National Activity Index, out for October and really about the only big economic item we can point to prior to this morning’s open:

Led by declines in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) moved down to +0.14 in October from +0.29 in September. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from September, and two of the four categories made negative contributions to the index in October.

The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, declined to –0.01 in October from +0.12 in September. October’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was near its historical trend. The economic growth reflected in this level of the CFNAI-MA3 suggests limited inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.

Well, my goodness, isn’t that special?  New week, we get the employment numbers for October, but if you take off today, enjoy this little big of economic news.

Futures are about flat, but one notable exception is oil, which has dipped under $70.  Part of the reason for that may be fading inflation in Europe and Mario Draghi of the ECB turning into a latter day print artist, but whether they will be able to push on the wet noodle that is this economy than we have, is open to conjecture. 

Monday Thought Problem

If you want an interesting one:  As yourself if current law provides for a decrease in Social Security Payments if inflation (as measured by CPI) goes negative in the US.  I seem to recall it doesn’t, but it makes for an interesting problem in the Roaring Teens analog to the Roaring Twenties.

Feeling to Pain

According to a Science Daily report, scientists have found a power new “off switch” for pain that may lead to all kinds of new medical advances.

That would certainly be an improvement on the previously discovered big off-switch for pain: Death.


As long as we’re in the invention moment, there’s also a report out about how a new class of robots is being developed that can “mimic you.”

And again, we have concerns since these have already been invented.  They’re called Children.

And if That’s Not Enough…

Scientists are also on the verge of creating test tube life.  Which, I have to say I’d deadset against.  I prefer making offspring the old-fashioned way:  A little candlelight, wine, light dinner, dancing, music….

But if ya’ll are that anxious to get to the future, just remember the adjunct that in the “End Times all things are known…”


Just looked at the clock.  Don’t you have a shopping brawl to be at?