"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Greek Financial Crisis and the Eurozone: Has Anything Substantial Changed in the Last Four Years? Are There Any Solutions?

We have always been fans of Greece, particularly ancient Greek history, and have even written about it. See The Phaistos Disc: An Ancient Enigma Solved: Two corroborative Old Elamite scripts can be deciphered using the Greek syllabic values obtained for the Phaistos Disc by A. Kaulins in 1980.

Greece is a marvellous country and we have also vacationed there -- some years ago, enjoying superb Greek hospitality, food, music and lifestyle.

Ever since antiquity, and surely since the days of the Trojan Horse, the Greeks have always had the reputation of being keen and clever persons, a cleverness that modernly extends deep into the business and economic world.

As written at Bloomberg in Billionaire Greek Ship Owners Surface While Home Economy Sinks:
"Greeks have long dominated the shipping business. The nation’s fleet, numbering 3,669 vessels in 2013, is the largest in the world, according to the annual report of the Union of Greek Shipowners, making up more than 7 percent of the Greek economy and providing 192,000 jobs in 2013.

Greece’s shipping magnates control 23 percent of the world bulk carrier fleet, according to the report, even as their home country accounts for less than 0.4 percent of the world economy. 

As social pressures mount, the privileged tax status of the shipping industry has come under increasing scrutiny as successive Greek governments look to boost revenue. The industry pays no tax on international earnings brought into the country under rules incorporated in Greece’s constitution in 1967." [emphasis added]
But that cleverness poses modern problems.

Given the above knowledge about the virtual non-taxation of shipping in Greece, many observers in the world and in the European Union viz. Eurozone have little sympathy for the present Greek financial crisis. A government that does not tax its major industries is not going to have much money.

Moreover, observers are astounded that Greece not only has the highest pensions spend in the Eurozone, but seems unwilling to reform its vast overspending habits or to make major reforms to a totally skewed national economy that has ca. 800000 civil servants, whereas, by population, if compared to the number of civil servants in the United Kingdom, it should have maximally only 80000 civil servants, i.e. 1/10th that amount.

The reality is that e.g. citizens in France and Germany have saved their money over decades and have saved that money in banks who have loaned that money out inter alia to Greece, in effect, as it turns out, to finance Greek overspending and to subsidize the Greek shipping business, which, as noted above, pays virtually no taxes.

Now that is cleverness on the part of the Greeks and one should view it as such. We live in a world where people get what they can, if you let them.

But now the trick is known, and it should not go on indefinitely.

It turns out that the Greek government owes so much money to banks that Greece has little hope of ever repaying the vast monies that have gone to finance the past decades of Greek overspending with money financed north of the Alps. As written by Mehreen Khan at the Telegraph: "Greece's debt mountain is set to rise to 180pc of GDP this year."

Is there a workable path out of the situation?
or is this now the end for Greece in the Eurozone?
Greece talks to go down to the wire amid fears of imminent banking collapse

The problem of the European Union, the Eurozone and the Greek financial crisis was discussed in understandable form at the London Review of Books by John Lanchester in Once Greece goes…: Any hope for the euro? · LRB 14 July 2011.

That was FOUR years ago.

If one reads the article now, and one really should read it to understand the core essentials of the problem, it would appear to this observer that virtually nothing substantial has changed in the last four years in terms of any truly effective structural economic and financial improvements in Greece.

As Paul Krugman has long pointed out, simple austerity is not working and of course can not work. It never has, because it shrinks an economy that needs to be growing fast to meet its spiral of increasing debts. Austerity has merely led to increasingly high levels of unemployment and many other social evils.

As for obtaining more government money via taxation, a government must focus on the people who have that money, and not on those who do not have it. In Greece, the rich pay few taxes, and, indeed, the richest industry, shipping, is virtually freed from taxation. How is government finance then supposed to work? Where is the money to come from if home industry does not pay it? The answer has been that loans from northern nations have been paying the bills.

In other words, it is no wonder that the problem of Greece persists still today.

It is equally understandable that there are many proposed solutions:
  • The Greeks themselves, as could be expected, are pragmatic. As written by John Hooper at the Guardian in Greece’s plight at odds with public's lack of concern as default deferred – for now (this was in May):
    "Kostas Panagopoulos, of Alco Polls, said a survey he carried out last month indicated the public was already resigned to compromise: 52% of respondents said they wanted a deal with Greece’s creditors “even if the prime minister had to step over those red lines”.
    Hence, we expect a compromise whose reaching Greece will surely prolong as long as possible simply to win time.
  • No Simple, Painless Solutions for Greece: Das - "Risk Consultant and Author Satyajit Das discusses Greece’s attempt to get new bailout terms from Germany and the ECB with Bloomberg’s Rishaad Salamat on “On The Move.
  • Mikio Kumada - Greece Should Sign Any Deal, LGT Capital's Kumada Says - "Mikio Kumada, a strategist at LGT Capital Partners Ltd., talks about the standoff between Greece and its creditors. He speaks in Hong Kong with Angie Lau on Bloomberg Television's "Asia Edge." (Source: Bloomberg)"
  • At Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden's picture - The Austrian Solution to Greece
  • A Greek exit from the Eurozone as the last option - Michael Nevradakis interviews Economist Roger Bootle in "Grexit" Is the Only Solution for Greece
We have a simpler solution: nationalize the shipping industry, confiscate private and business assets of the rich, wherever found, pay off the nation's debts, and go from there.

Of course, that will never be done, but our proposed solution, easily implemented, very clearly puts the focus on the cardinal question which is always: who pays????????

The clever ones seldom do.

Look at the digital era companies Apple and Google in the USA, who pay little corporate income tax, which is not "tax avoidance", as Tim Worstall has correctly pointed out at Forbes in Can We Please Get This Straight, Apple And Google Do Not Avoid US Corporate Tax, but is simply utilisation of tax rule options provided to them by the laws, i.e. the government. It is comparable to the tax preferences viz. "exemptions" granted to the shipping industry in Greece. And Greece shows us where that kind of preferential treatment of corporations -- who make full use of the free infrastructures of government -- ultimatley leads: to government insolvency.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Congress's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Also Known as "Obamacare") in a 6-3 Vote in an Opinion Written by SCOTUS Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Joined Inter Alia by Justice Anthony Kennedy

It is a great day for America.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has upheld The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") in a 6-3 vote of the nine Justices. Read the majority opinion and dissent at SCOTUS.

We anticipated both the result and the reasoning of the holding in this case in our previous LawPundit posting of June 21, 2015 in Does Upholding Dewsnup in Caulkett Mean Obamacare Will Be Saved by the U.S. Supreme Court?

The majority opinion was written by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and to his great credit now, after dropping the ball on the first SCOTUS Obamacare case, by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who thereby returns to our good graces. When the going gets tough, the tough get going ... and do the right thing. Well done, Justice Kennedy!

Kennedy's shift to the majority from his minority stance in the first Obamacare case is in our opinion a strong signal that Obamacare-opponents are playing a losing game in their attacks on Obamacare.

The "terrible trio" of Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented, suggesting that they have learned little since the first Supreme Court Obamacare decision, in which they were also in the minority. It would be good if these three Justices would at some time in their careers rise above their personal political prejudices and private intellectual theories about law and the Constitution and be the wise and impartial Justices they should be, but are not, in deciding matters of great importance to the nation.

The U.S. Supreme Court should never overturn major laws as passed by Congress for linguistic hair-splitting reasons, and we say this as co-author of a dictionary, who knows how difficult pinpointing the meanings of words can be in reality, and how little proper attention is paid to linguistic detail in lawmaking.

If the nation ultimately wants it, nothing prohibits Congress from repealing Obamacare, which is unlikely, however, since it has been a success. What Scalia writes in his dissent -- even resorting to calling Obamacare "SCOTUS-care" -- is ridiculous, and unfit for a Supreme Court Justice. Not worthy of that position.

 Indeed, as Roberts observes in the majority opinion concerning "the words":
"The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting.
Several features of the Act's passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through "the traditional legislative process." Cannan, A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History, 105 L. Lib. J. 131, 163 (2013). And Congress passed much of the Act using a complicated budgetary procedure known as "reconciliation," which limited opportunities for debate and amendment, and bypassed the Senate's normal 60-vote filibuster requirement. Id., at 159-167.  As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation.
Adam Liptak at the New York Times in Supreme Court Allows Nationwide Health Care Subsidies pinpoints the most important issue in the Roberts opinion:
"Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the words must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. “In this instance,” he wrote, “the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” he added. “If at all possible, we must interpret the act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
That was, as we predicted, the essential and critical core of the case.

We quote Roberts directly from the opinion:
"We have held that Congress "does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions." Whitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 531 U. S. 457, 468 (2001).  But in petitioners' view, Congress made the viability of the entire Affordable Care Act turn on the ultimate ancillary provision: a sub-sub-sub section of the Tax Code. We doubt that is what Congress meant to do. Had Congress meant to limit tax credits to State Exchanges, it likely would have done so in the definition of "applicable taxpayer" or in some other prominent manner. It would not have used such a winding path of connect-the-dots provisions about the amount of the credit.5

Petitioners' arguments about the plain meaning of Section 36B are strong.  But while the meaning of the phrase "an Exchange established by the State under [42 U. S. C. §18031]" may seem plain "when viewed in isolation," such a reading turns out to be "untenable in light of [the statute] as a whole." Department of Revenue of Ore. v. ACF Industries, Inc., 510 U. S. 332, 343 (1994).  In this instance, the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.

[LawPundit note: The text of Footnote 5 is omitted in this excerpt.] 
Reliance on context and structure in statutory interpretation is a "subtle business, calling for great wariness lest what professes to be mere rendering becomes creation and attempted interpretation of legislation becomes legislation itself." Palmer v. Massachusetts, 308 U. S. 79, 83 (1939). For the reasons we have given, however, such reliance is appropriate in this case, and leads us to conclude that Section 36B allows tax credits for insurance purchased on any Exchange created under the Act. Those credits are necessary for the Federal Exchanges to function like their State Exchange counterparts, and to avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid.
                                                *   *   *
In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined
—"to say what the law is." Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). That is easier in some cases than in others.  But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done.  A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.
Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.  If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter. Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress's plan, and that is the reading we adopt."
Exactly. Right on the money. That is good, solid jurisprudence.

Bravo, Justice Roberts and bravo to the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court!

Roberts and the majority of Justices have done their job, which is to interpret laws rationally. The minority trio have -- again -- dropped the ball.

The Mainstream Press

We refer here to other early reports about this event in the mainstream press:

Wall Street Journal, Washington Wire
Supreme Court Upholds Health-Care Subsidies–Live Blog

The Boston Globe - Mark Sherman
Supreme Court rejects challenge to Obama’s health care law

NPR - Krishnadev Calamur
Supreme Court Rules Obamacare Subsidies Are Legal

USA Today - Richard Wolf and Brad Heath
Supreme Court upholds Obamacare subsidies

Saturday, June 20, 2015

La Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City of Colombia, South America, Marks the Stars of Corvus as a Heart, plus a Southern Hemisphere Sky Map Megalith

La Ciudad Perdida, "The Lost City", also known as Teyuna or Buritaca, is located in the Magdalena Department of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, South America, and has the GPS coordinates 11°2′16.79″N 73°55′30.69″W. It predates Machu Picchu in Peru by many centuries and has one of the most magnificent ancient megalithic stones we have seen.

The Global Heritage Fund (GHF) in partnership with the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History are involved with the management, documentation, and conservation of the Teyuna-Ciudad Perdida Archaeological Park.

Archaeology magazine, Volume 57 Number 5, September/October 2004, has an article by Toby Muse titled Lost City, who writes about Ciudad Perdida that the native inhabitants of the region, the Tairona (also written "the Tayronas"), call the center of their extremely remote 15000 square mile area in the Sierra Nevada "Teyuna", "the HEART of the world", even though its first modern discoverers called it a "green hell" for its ever-present mosquitoes, thick impenetrable jungles, and densely covered steep mountains.

Even today tourists can not get to the "Lost City" independently but only as part of organized ca. 4-to-5-day hiking tours, which reportedly cover anywhere from  23 kilometers to 44 kilometers of extremely tough jungle hiking, including river crossings and very steep terrain. Suited only for the very fit!

At Ucros Travel, which also has some marvelous photographs, it is written:
"Lost City Colombia - Ciudad Perdida  was discovered in 1976 by a team of archaeologists from the Colombian Institute of Anthropology led by Gilberto Cadavid Luisa Fernanda Herrera.... Recent (2006) Archaeological investigations at the site indicate that this town was founded around 660 AD and abandoned sometime between 1550 and 1600 AD.... It is known as Teyuna by Indians...."
According to our analysis of the ancient land survey of Native America by astronomy, the Lost City of Santa Marta represented the stars of Corvus seen as a "heart", as evidenced in the large arguably "heart"-sculpted stone at the main location of the site. Perhaps these stones were at some time also viewed as a toad, or frog, as seen in those or neighboring stars by Inca cosmology.

The Ciudad Perdida, Colombia, South America
Corvus Heart Stone

See also http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:YAEL_PHOTOS_898.jpg, which appears to be a similar stone at a different location in Ciudad Perdida.

Ciudad Perdida also has a fantastic megalithic "sky map stone". See  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:YAEL_PHOTOS_819.jpg.

That megalith is currently thought to have been a "local" map of the region, created using a "slashed line" stone marking technique also found in the Pacific Northwest, e.g. in Oregon (name origin via "Virgo", so we allege) and Alaska.

Note that in Inupiaq Eskimo language an inuksuk was "a native Alaskan cairn built to mark pathways". See Behind the Name. On one level that is what the ancient land survey of Native America by astronomy was all about.

The Ciudad Perdida Megalith of Colombia, South America suggests that Ciudad Perdida (marking Corvus as a heart) was the top of the stone and that the megalith was marked as a sky map of stars of the southern hemisphere. See photos of the stone by Stan James and Yael Zwighaft of YAEL-PHOTOS, 2008 at

This has to be one of the most spectacular of all the megaliths we have thus far seen, apparently carved in the shape of a human head, with the top of the head as the stars of Centaurus and the chin fairly clear, but with asymmetrical star-mandated positioning.

We see the eyes at Volans and Musca, the cheek at Carina, the nose at Mensa and the mouth at Reticulum, which then makes LMC, the Large Magellanic Cloud the moustache. Obviously, the ancients created these anthropomorphic figures in the stones to mark the stars and to make it easier to remember them, just as we do today with the stellar constellations.

The La Ciudad Perdida, Colombia, South America
Southern Hemisphere Sky Map Megalith
(click the graphic for a larger image)

We found the Colombian and Alaskan megaliths by following an "idealized" diagonal line of land survey by astronomy that runs northwest to Alaska from the Herschel Petroglyphs and southeast from the Herschel Petroglyphs through Cahokia to the Miami Circle and approximately through Ciudad Perdida, and then on to the far east coast of South America. We think that this line could be marked as one of two lines marked at the bottom of the Cahokia Birdman Tablet that are perpendicular to the ca. seven horizontal levels found there, which mark the main horizontal survey levels on land in North America. We will post about how that land survey may have looked in a coming posting.

We emphasize again that the ancients may not have used totally straight lines in doing their astronomical land surveys, but rather line and/or angle approximations that were guided by measurements of the stars, Earth topography, resulting Indian trails and other practical considerations. Nevertheless, such lines are useful for analysis in practice for us in doing the decipherments. Exactly what the ancients did still remains open.

THIS POSTING IS Posting Number 109 of
The Great Mound, Petroglyph and Painted Rock Art Journey of Native America

La Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City of Colombia, South America, Marks the Stars of Corvus as a Heart, plus a Southern Hemisphere Sky Map Megalith

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Due Process of Law and the Magna Carta

The Economist explains the massive importance of the Magna Carta to the development of the then revolutionary concept of the due process of law, which significantly curtails the absolute powers of the sovereign and is at the root of the modern concepts of democracy and human rights, such as are in the current world substantially under siege.  See Magna Carta at the Economist


Sky Earth Native America -- in Two Volumes
Native American Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds
Deciphered as Land Survey & Astronomy by Andis Kaulins

paperbacks in color print
Volume 1, 2nd Edition, 266 pages

ISBN: 1517396816 / 9781517396817
Volume 2, 2nd Edition, 262 pages
ISBN: 1517396832 / 9781517396831

Sky Earth Native America Volume 1-----------Sky Earth Native America Volume 2
by Andis Kaulins J.D. Stanford                                         
by Andis Kaulins J.D. Stanford
(front cover(s))  

(back cover with a photograph of the author and book absract text)