Class Warfare Blog

May 28, 2020

Climate Change . . . Have We Been Too Optimistic or Too Pessimistic?

Some enterprising climate scientist went back to the early days of climate modeling and put the actual data involved into the models instead of the hypothesized data we used back then (we didn’t have all the data needed so we made up “reasonable” estimates). What they found was that those models were very close to being spot on. Their deviation from actual values of climate change parameters was mostly due to the faulty inputs, not the models themselves. Climate change opponents at the time were scathing in their “reviews” of the climate change model predictions as being premature, not capable of being done, being pie in the sky wishful thinking on the part of the scientists. Of course, the critics that were most prominent could barely spell climate change, let alone had mastered any of the intricacies.

As time went on the models were revised and we found a data consensus (based upon data from different sources indicating the same things). But for the critics, the predictions were “overblown,” “too pessimistic,” and neglected advances in technology that would mitigate much of the changes. Again, most of these objections were not science-backed, just economics-backed, aka they said “we are making too much money to change for you airy-fairy science types.”

Now we are finding out that the dire predictions we have been hearing for the past couple of decades have been far too optimistic, that is not pessimistic enough. More than a few effects of climate change that were predicted for years or decades in the future are happening now.

In short order, I expect the climate change deniers to start saying “How could we have known?” and “Who would have predicted this?” Assholes . . . greedy assholes.

May 26, 2020

Who Suffers?

We all tend to think of what is normal for us economically is the way it has always been, but today the economic deck is stacked, possibly more so than in any previous time. And it is not stacked in your favor. It is stacked in favor of those who lend capital.

For someone to lend you money, there has to be an almost iron clad guarantee that the lender will be paid back. You almost always have to put up collateral for your loan. Fail to pay the loan back and the lender takes the collateral. So, if you buy a house, the house becomes the collateral. If you fail to pay the mortgage payment for a few months and Wham! The lender forecloses on the loan and repossesses the collateral, aka your house. All of the payments you made now count as nothing. It does not have to be this way. The “collateral” could be held by a court and put up for sale and the proceeds of the sale be split  between the two actors: the lender and buyer with the split determined by how much money had been put up so far.

But that is not the way it is. In our culture, the lender has all of the cards with almost no risk.

Consider the “Great Recession” ca. 2008. The housing market collapsed due to bad behavior on the part of realtors and lenders and suddenly mortgages that could not be paid resulted in repossessions of collateral worth far, far less that the amounts owed. So lenders bore some risk, then . . . except they used a powerful Washington, D.C. lobby to get bailed out so that they did not lose any money (or at least not so much). Were the people buying the homes also bailed out? Silly person, of course, they were not.

Lenders are so used to not having any risk associated with lending that corporations are currently awash in bad debt. They know they are okay because if anything goes wrong their “friends” in Congress and the White House, Democrat or Republican, will bail them out again. This is why economists invented the term “moral hazard,” but they do not apply it to those who line their pockets.

I have been slowly working my way through Michael Hudson’s book on how debt was handled in days long gone. I will give a larger book review (I have offered tidbits before) when I finish it.

To hold you over, here are some tidbits of Michael Hudson’s research and thinking:

“The pedigree for “act-of-God” rules specifying what obligations need not be paid when serious disruptions occur goes back to the laws of Hammurabi c. 1750 BC. Their aim was to restore economic normalcy after major disruptions. §48 of Hammurabi’s laws proclaim a debt and tax amnesty for cultivators if Adad the Storm God has flooded their fields, or if their crops fail as a result of pests or drought. Crops owed as rent or fiscal payments were freed from having to be paid. So were consumer debts run up during the crop year, including tabs at the local ale house and advances or loans from individual creditors. The ale woman likewise was freed from having to pay for the ale she had received from palace or temples for sale during the crop year.

“Whoever leased an animal that died by an act of God was freed from liability to its owner (§266). A typical such amnesty occurred if the lamb, ox or ass was eaten by a lion, or if an epidemic broke out. Likewise, traveling merchants who were robbed while on commercial business were cleared of liability if they swore an oath that they were not responsible for the loss (§103).

“It was realized that hardship was so inevitable that debts tended to accrue even under normal conditions. Every ruler of Hammurabi’s dynasty proclaimed a Clean Slate cancelling personal agrarian debts (but not normal commercial business loans) upon taking the throne, and when military or other disruptions occurred during their reign. Hammurabi did this on four occasions.

“In an epoch when labor was the scarcest resource, a precondition for survival was to prevent rising indebtedness from enabling creditors to use debt leverage to obtain the labor of debtors and appropriate their land. Early communities could not afford to let bondage become chronic, or creditors to become a wealthy class rivaling the power of palace rulers and seeking gains by impoverishing their debtors.

“Yet that is precisely what is occurring as today’s economy polarizes between creditors and debtors.”

I think you will find that some of this applies to our current situation, no?

May 11, 2020

Texas Governor Declares Texans Fit for Guinea Pig Role

The Governor of the State of Texas is allowing businesses, including barber shops, to reopen. Since barber shops can scarcely function with distancing controls in place, I assume this means without any such controls. Other states are to follow.

I guess we should thank the Republican governors supporting Donald Trump for volunteering to be guinea pigs for this pandemic.

Since (a) we still do not have enough test kits available to determine an accurate count of such cases and (b) I do not trust these shitweasel politicians to report accurate counts even if they were, we will only have the numbers of deaths in Texas as a measure of their success or failure. Shitweasel politicians are always willing to send the able-bodied into wars, disease hotbeds, etc. as long as they themselves and their families are not at risk.

Interestingly, someone looked up the normal range of deaths for the months of the pandemic, nationwide, and that number is definitely not normal, that is it isn’t in the range of the numbers of people who would die over such a period. Interestingly the “overage” is about twice the number of COVID-19 deaths, so either those deaths are being under reported or there are secondary causes for these “extra” deaths, such as medical facilities being full of coronavirus patients and not enough care is available to go around to everyone.

April 24, 2020

We Can’t Pay for Medicare for All! But . . .

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:26 am
Tags: , ,

Michael Hudson is one of my favorite economists and recently he said this: “Just think of when, in the debates with Bernie Sanders during the spring, Biden and Klobuchar kept saying, ‘What we’re paying for Medicare-for-All will be $1 trillion over 10 years.’ Well, here the Fed can create $1.5 trillion in one week just to buy stocks.

“Why is it okay for the Fed to create $1.5 trillion to buy stocks to prevent rich people from losing on their stocks, when it’s not okay to print only $1 trillion to pay for free Medicare for the entire population? This is crazy!”

So, the very same corporate stooges that proclaim that we cannot possibly afford to pay for Medicare for All are more than willing to have their share prices and corporations supported to the tune of trillions of dollars.

And, of course, the costs of Medicare for All are never, ever placed side by side with the benefits, you know, in a cost-benefit analysis?

The benefits are immense, especially when you consider the savings from not having to buy health insurance. For example, according to Modern Health care, the nation’s seven largest publicly traded health insurers saw revenues of $913 billion in 2019. So, pay a trillion dollars a year for Medicare for All and get 0.913 trillion dollars back. And that is just the top seven companies. I suppose that if all of the rest of the companies were added it, the savings would be greater.

With just that benefit alone we are down to an annual cost for Medicate for All of $87 billion and that could be paid for by cancelling one small weapon system from the Pentagon’s budget.

Ca-ching! Done. Medicare for All is paid for.

Of course the opponents of universal health care in this country don’t want you to see a cost-benefit analysis. I mean, all of those numbers . . . bound to be confusing, so they just want to keep it simple (using a risk-risk analysis).

PS What ever happened to the idea of risk when investing in the stock market? The purchases are not insured, like savings in federally instituted banks. Remember all of the people the Stock Market Crash of 1929 bankrupted? Isn’t the danger of losing one’s money supposed to be a major factor in controlling risky behaviors? If the government is to bail out the poor, poor investors every time they get a financial hangnail, the whole system becomes corrupt, or should I say “has become corrupt.”

The Industrial Usurpation

(The title was to be The Industrial Revolution Usurpation, but I can’t seem to format fonts in the damned titles! SR)

Ian welsh had a fascinating take on the roots of capitalism (The Transition to Capitalism) which I recommend to you. I have excerpted much of it below to make my point, starting with …

“One of the most important things to understand about industrial capitalism is that the lower classes didn’t want it.

“Peasants did not leave the land voluntarily. They were forced off, often with violent force, in a series of enclosures, where their millennium old rights to use the land were taken together.”

“With the fields enclosed, the peasantry lost control of capital: land is capital. They couldn’t grow their own food, raise sheep for wool, chop down trees for fuel and so on.

“They were thus forced off the land, into the slums of cities and had to work for industrialists, six and a half days a week, 12 hours a day on average. They died younger, there was far more disease, they were maimed often and they lived worse.

“They knew this. They resisted. They hated.

“Capitalism, among the many things that it is, is the concentration of capital in the hands of a few people. That means access to capital is removed from most people. They must now work for someone else. In some times and places that work is nice, at others it is not, but it is a loss of control and choice.

“Peasants and free farmers in Britain had far more control over what they did and when than factory workers. In fact, they had more control than most modern American workers do today.”

“The choice for most people today is to choose their master, not to choose to have no master.”

“They control the capital. We do what they tell us to, negotiating only who wields the whip.

“That’s capitalism.

“Did it have to be that way?”

In reading this, it seems as if capitalism is the crowning achievement of civilization.

Most people consider “being civilized” as an asset, a complement even, but actually civilization occurred through force, just like the onset of industrial capitalism. Hunter-gathers had it much better than an existence as a farmer provided, but they were given no choice. Actually, they did have one choice left and that was to hightail it out of that “civilization” and apparently more than a few “farmers” did just that. They had the advantage of possessing skills in living off the land which were still quite recent. These “defections” resulted in severe labor shortages which led to large scale slave raids on neighboring populations. And, as I have mentioned before, many of these nascent civilizations didn’t last a century or in some cases even close to that length of time.

So, civilization was brought about by force. The hunter-gatherers transformed into farmers did not want it, but the elites forced the issue. Since confiscating the “surplus food” grown through forced labor supported more soldiers, the idea grew basically as the only way to stem the threat one’s neighbors now posed.

And then from the above we are able to appreciate the coup-de-grâce of industrial capitalism once again forced by elites (elites who were often more wrong than right, but they always seem to decide in their own favor somehow). The key line in the above, for me, is “The choice for most people today is to choose their master, not to choose to have no master.” Basically this says that you are born into a form of serfdom and there are very, very few ways out. This may possibly be the source of our addiction to “self-made man” mythologies, especially the ones in which an “ordinary Joe” becomes a millionaire.

If I may repeat Ian Welsh: “Did it have to be that way?” And, does it have to continue to be this way?

April 16, 2020

What The Pandemic Is Teaching Us

Filed under: Culture,Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:53 am
Tags: ,

Nurses, waitresses, clerks, office workers, janitors, garbage men, etc. that is ordinary workers are way more valuable than CEOs.
The pandemic is the equivalent of a CEO strike. Have you notice any impact from that? Would you rather have your local garbage men working or your local CEOs? CEOs are tremendously overvalued (mostly by themselves and their hand-picked boards of governors). CEOs ratcheted their salaries up to astronomical heights and I have proposed a way to ratchet them down quite rapidly. It starts with either firing the current CEO or on the occasion that he is retiring you then offer the job to the first vice-president (or the equivalent) at half the salary. If they are insulted by the offer or just refuse, you offer the job to the second vice-president (or the equivalent) at one-quarter of the salary. If nobody inside takes the job, offer it out at half the leaving CEO’s salary. Repeat as necessary. (And, really, you don’t have to worry about the quality of the person in the job because it just isn’t that important.)

That the economy is not driven by demand but by supply is bunk and always has been.
Paid for Hire Economists launched this steaming pile of misinformation to support “supply side economics” a product of magical thinking if there ever was one. Greed is unlimited in capitalism, so politics must do the limiting, but the very rich do not like that so they bribe politicians to do things like favor them when taxes are cut. To provide some protective cover the bullshit economic theory of “supply side economics” was commissioned and paid for.

That church and state are nowhere near separate in this country, not even close.
In Florida, the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, created a “worship exemption” in his “Safer at Home” order. His pair of executive orders forces all localities, regardless of how overwhelmed their medical facilities are or how many people are infected, to allow large gatherings in churches. Why Governor DeSantis wants to illegally allow Christians to kill themselves via virus is unknown. Maybe he has a large bet in a pool “Jesus vs. COVID-19.” Hard to say. But the state shouldn’t be exempting religions from rules designed to keep citizens alive.

Many People are Obstinate and Stupid
I admit to a certain amount of glee every time I see a preacher who insisted on keeping his (it is always a male, it seems) church open during the pandemic who then contracts the COVID-19 and dies. Apparently protection offered by the Blood of Jesus is overrated.

It also seems that stupidity has its own set of rewards and punishments built in. Another plus for evolution.

We Really Do Benefit from Not Having an Idiot in the White House
Since we are a secular country, the POTUS can act as a moral leader and, well, a cheer leader, when we encounter a major bump in the road as we are experiencing now. Having an amoral moron in the White House not only does not help but it can actually cost a lot of lives, misery, and lost economic opportunities.

April 5, 2020

Let It Begin!

Filed under: Economics,Morality,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:53 am
Tags: , ,

Back before the 2016 presidential election, my partner made a quasi-prediction. You remember that electron, the one between a corporate Democrat and an amoral, money-worshiping Republican? She felt that our only hope, if there was any available, was that whoever was elected would overplay their hand. I thought there to be a virtual guarantee of that happening, but she went farther, she felt that the entire corrupt system would crash and there would be “hard times” for sure but maybe, just maybe, a new system could rise from those ashes. Back then I was skeptical but now, maybe not so much.

Just this morning I read Capitalism Has Failed in Fighting Coronavirus by Richard D. Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. And this article stated quite clearly that “ The problem of policies aimed to return the economy to what it was before the virus hit is this: Global capitalism, by 2019, was itself a major cause of the collapse in 2020. Capitalism’s scars from the crashes of 2000 and 2008-2009 had not healed. Years of low interest rates had enabled corporations and governments to ‘solve’ all their problems by borrowing limitlessly at almost zero interest rate cost. All the new money pumped into economies by central banks had indeed caused the feared inflation, but chiefly in stock markets whose prices consequently spiraled dangerously far away from underlying economic values and realities. Inequalities of income and wealth reached historic highs.” (Emphases mine.)

Hey I’ve got an idea to help those corporations: they can . . .
sell the fucking stock they bought with their fucking tax cuts!

On walking the dog this morning I saw a clear tag on many of the city trash barrels I passed “Tax the Rich!”

And our government rallied to pass a two trillion dollar relief bill, maybe 20% of which will actually go to people. These rest goes to . . . guess where . . . mostly corporations.

Have people forgotten that the recent federal tax cuts were largely a benefit to said corporations? And what did those corporations do with their windfalls. The Trump administration promised that they would use the funds to modernize, expand, hire a bunch of people and the skeptics (me included) said “Well, the last time they bought back their own stock (which used to be illegal price fixing) which enriched their shareholders and their executives.” So, what did they do this time? They bought back their own stock (which used to be illegal price fixing) which enriched their shareholders and their executives. Wow, it almost seems like déjà vu!

Hey I’ve got an idea to help those corporations: they can . . . sell the fucking stock they bought with their fucking tax cuts!

Why should we be giving corporations “relief” funding when they have been sitting on piles of cash and/or piles of their own stock, which because of their purchases, they can sell at inflated prices right now!

It is clear that any administration . . . Trump led . . . Biden led, anyone endorsed by either of these parties has their marching orders. Prop up the status quo, no matter the cost. (Why do you think they torpedoed Bernie’s campaign?)

If you want to estimate the actual costs, read the comments to the Naked Capitalism post linked to above. They are of the “maybe we need to stand a few people up against the wall and shoot them” variety.

There will be blood.

 

March 31, 2020

The Class War is Over

The Class War is over. What we have left are crumbs tossed our way in a system ruled by savage class-rule capitalism.

Let me ask you this—here is a passage from the gospel we call “Luke” (in Chapter 4):”

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable Year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, Today hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.

Do, you know what the Year of the Lord refers to? Isn’t every year a Year of the Lord? (As a child I saw many, many documents dated as such and such a date “in the year of our Lord XXXX.”)

Do, you know what this was?

It was what is often referred to now as a Jubilee year and Jesus just proclaimed this to be one (along with all of the other succor) promised but Jubilee years were usually only proclaimed by kings, often at the beginning of their reign. In the story, this proclamation supports the argument that Jesus thought of himself as a king, which the Romans preferred to exterminate, rather than work with.

In a Jubilee year, all public debts were canceled. This practice came about, not through any largess by the elites but for a practical reason. If private debt was allowed to continue without limit, compound interest, even ordinary interest would result in many people defaulting on their debts. If that debt were held by a private person, the person defaulting was obligated to pay of the debt with their land, and then their labor. well, and the labor of their wives in the bedroom of the debt holder, you know what I mean. But people in debt bondage didn’t pay taxes and they were available to be drafted for public works projects. The elites recognized that the primary debt holder almost everywhere in the region was the central government and the debt was because of unpaid taxes. A crop failure meant someone couldn’t simultaneously feed their family and pay their taxes, so. . . .

So, rulers would start their rule with a debt jubilee, thus making themselves popular and making their economy viable. It was not unusual to need one of these every so often. The Bible even speaks to debt forgiveness.

Now the Pharisees tended to be from the more prosperous segments of Hebrew society, so if Jesus had his way and a debt jubilee were proclaimed, how do you think they would respond? Hmm?

My main point is what Albert Einstein referred to when he was asked what the most powerful force in the universe was and he answered “compound interest.” Our system, however is no longer an autocracy, but an oligarchy. the debt holders are running the country. Do you think for one minute they would sit still for any kind of debt jubilee, even if just for college education debts? Do, you know understand why Bernie Sanders presidential campaign was deep-sixed by the powers that be in favor of a barely comprehendable Joe Biden? (If they would take it from Jesus, Bernie had no chance.)

These idiot oligarchs are acting out the parable of the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg and are smiling through the entire thing, reflecting on their own cleverness.

 

Even More on GMOs

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Science — Steve Ruis @ 12:51 pm
Tags: , ,

I recently read that “Liberals are skeptical of well-established science when findings clash with their political ideologies, such as GMOs, nuclear power, genetic engineering and evolutionary psychology.”

I am a scientist and I am very cautious about GMOs. The existence of GMOs and some of their behaviors are “well-established science.” That is not what I am arguing about. Human beings have been artificially selecting traits of plants to serve us for thousands of years. We started by selecting which seeds to plant and went through a grafting-hybridizing stage and then into gene manipulation.

My quibble with GMOs is that the modifications skip over many, many viability tests that nature used to use to weed out problems (a snappy metaphor, no?). A plant geneticist might have to make dozens of not hundreds of “crosses” to get the outcome she wanted. Each step of the way, nature chimed in. If a cross-fertilization of two strains of plants was non-viable, there would be no seeds or plants to test in a subsequent generation of that approach. That was a dead end, so we had to back up and try a different route.

So, GMOs skip over some of these tests/road blocks, which could be a good thing or even a very good thing, but . . . and you knew a but was coming, didn’t you . . . when something goes wrong with a GMO it has the possibility of going very, very wrong.

And, yes, I said “when” because it is never “if” something goes wrong, because something always goes wrong. Help me count the ways! A virus could insert some of its DNA into a GMO’s DNA and voila, we have something very, very new on hand. The GMO could propagate with other plants in ways unsuspected. GMO animals, when they come around, might take over ecological niches we were unaware of and create situations we are unprepared to respond to.

There is an old saw that says “short cuts are always longer” which is an admonition of a craftsman to take the tried and true way and not some shortcut to a supposed better or just as good ending. Just as there was no Royal Road to geometry, there were no shortcuts to quality. Well, we have discovered that there are such shortcuts, but they are incredible hard to find and don’t always work as expected.

Since our food supply is under considerable pressure and we have created monocultures for much of “big” crops, a disaster will be a big, very big disaster when it happens (again, when, not if).

So, I am not anti-science, quite the contrary, I am pro-prudence. Especially when the primary efforts are made chasing profits and not meeting urgent needs. And as evidence for which I give you: Monsanto Crop System Damages US Farms.

March 22, 2020

Killed by Greed

I was looking up the career stats of baseball immortal (at least in Japan if not here) Ichiro Suzuki. (Don’t ask.) And baseball-reference.com provided something unexpected, Ichiro’s cumulative salaries. Now Ichiro played in Japan and didn’t come to MLB until he was 27 and still had a Hall of Fame career. He was a spectacular four tool player, who will end up in the Hall of Fame, I am sure.

So, even playing in Japan until he was 27, in his 19 seasons in American professional baseball, Ichiro accumulated $167,181,483 in salary. These are contract numbers and not corrected for inflation, so if they were that number would even be greater.

Even though that is a mind-boggling amount of money, it is not extreme. Alex Rodriguez, then of the Texas Rangers, had a single contract (for 10 years which as very long then and very, very long now) for $252 million. Of course you cannot just settle for old money so he had a later contract for $275 million. The top MLB contract, so far, is a 13-year $325 million contract of Giancarlo Stanton, an oft injured “star.”

Now, in comparison, I was a college professor and I totaled up my salaries over a roughly 40 year career and it came to around $2 million dollars. If adjusted for inflation, it is about $4 million. Now, Ichiro played in 2653 MLB games, so he made $6302 per game. So, he made as much as I did in my entire career in 317 games, or a just a little under two seasons.

All of this is just chump change, of course.

As I have mentioned before dozens of people have reported more than one billion dollars in earnings for a single tax year, some over two billion in a single year. And as I have also mentioned before, if you assume eight hour workdays, two weeks of paid vacation, and the normal federal holidays, those making one billion dollars per year were making $532,000 per hour. Those making two billion dollars per year made $1,064,000 per hour. These people “made” as much as my career earnings in one afternoon of “work.” And they made as much as Ichiro in his MLB career in about 157 hours or 20 work days, basically in a little less than one month.

Now, I don’t think of being a college professor is in any way an exalted job, but it wasn’t a shabby one either. These comparisons show there is something seriously out of whack in our capitalist economy. I am sure the capitalism defenders will rush to say, but they earned that money legitimately! And, I agree that that is true, but what is “legitimate” is determined by the system. Is it legitimate that the hedge fund manager making that two billion dollars in a single year paid a lower tax rate than I did? Why was that? I will tell you. It is because the “system” is rigged by the people benefiting the most from the system. So what is legitimate or legal isn’t really a justification.

The problem with capitalism is that greed has no controls over it. The countries currently making capitalism work better for their entire populations are social democratic countries with high taxes and large benefits associated with those taxes. We had a similar system for a short period after World War II. Taxes were sufficiently high that CEOs, movie stars, athletes, and the like were dissuaded from making obscene amounts of money. And, still, there were still plenty of rich people walking around. Rich working people had to settle for perks (aka perquisites) to show off their value to their employers (large offices, corner offices for lawyers working in skyscrapers, large desks, artwork in the waiting rooms, corporate cars, etc.). Now, status is determined by earnings, earnings, earnings and little else. In fact, the system now encourages greed.

So, if you were wondering why it costs over $200 for two of you to attend a MLB baseball game, now you know. To create large pools of wealth, “small” amounts from the many must be funneled to the few. And there is, of course, a limit to how many want an entertainment product, so the “how much” each of the many has to transfer to the few keeps going up, reducing the number of the many who can or are willing to afford those purchases. (I have stopped attending my beloved baseball games, for example.) A number of sports in the US are finding those limits: baseball for sure and surprisingly NFL football, too.

Our current electoral process seems hell bent in excluding any candidate for high office who would challenge the legitimacy of our economic system, which is quite predictable. Our plutocrats went to a lot of work and paid a lot of money to create a system to their liking, so why should they even consider any candidate who might upset their apple cart.

Why indeed?

We seem to have democracy only in being able to select from a small set of candidates acceptable to the plutocrats actually running the country. The American Experiment in democracy is definitely past its peak and now heading downhill. On its gravestone, its epitaph will surely include the phrase “killed by greed.”

Now if we only had a goose that laid golden eggs to use as a moral focus of a story. . . .

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