Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Our Shameful Gini Coefficient

Originally Published October 25, 2008; Last Updated August 30, 2016; Last Republished August 30, 2016:

Our shameful Gini coefficient (video explanation Gini) is more indicative of regressive, oppressive, and corrupt nations than the great nation we claim to be:

Gini by Country - Yellow USA @ .381
Unfortunately, the most recent USA Gini coefficient has trended up to .408 (see United Nations 2011 Table 3 below) .

Like we target economic growth with low inflation we must target income and wealth growth with low Gini (video explanation Gini).1  


UPDATED 08/26/2013 UnivWisconsin, Midwest International Economic Development Conference, Keynote Slides, 2013; The Idea of Antipoverty Policy, Martin Ravallion and NBER, The Idea of Antipoverty Policy

Interesting keynote further hastening the elimination of any historical stench of mercantile economics suggesting poverty as a necessary economic byproduct—a stench equally odoriferous to indentures, slavery, and rotten corpses.

UPDATED 12/05/2012 CRS, The U.S. Income Distribution and Mobility:Trends and International Comparisons, dated November 29, 2012 Courtesy FAS Secrecy News

Our current GINI continues to climb toward "nation-destructive" levels—.47+ is an acutely damaging level of income inequality that our policymakers must immediately reverse! Our policymakers need not waste time debating what levels of inequality are optimal until our nation approaches .30.

Continuing to parrot the delusion that America is an "exceptional meritocracy" is dangerous to the extent that it paralyzes our nation or prevents immediate action! Or as more eloquently stated in the above report:
"...In the United States, a longstanding argument against redistributionary policies has been that each person has an equal opportunity to move up the income ladder. Research raises questions about whether Americans’ perceptions of their likelihood of upward mobility are exaggerated. Empirical analyses estimate that the United States is a comparatively immobile society, that is, where one starts in the income distribution influences where one ends up to a greater degree than in several advanced economies. Children raised in families at the bottom of the U.S. income distribution are estimated to be especially less likely to ascend the income ladder as adults..."
UPDATED 04/26/2012 CES, Equality and Efficiency in Advanced Democracies:
Revisiting the Leaky Bucket Hypothesis

Neoliberals often cite Okun as support for their linear Darwinian, dog-eats-dog preference for unregulated economic market efficiency over reduced inequality.

This draft paper (Apr 2012) discusses a more nuanced relationship between market efficiency inequalities.

UPDATED 01/04/2012  CRSChanges in the Distribution of Income Among Tax Filers Between 1996 and 2006: The Role of Labor Income, Capital Income, and Tax Policy Link is Courtesy FAS Secrecy Blog.

If a single graph is capable of explaining much of our current protests, dissatisfaction and societal fragmentation it’s this one:

Our poorest 20% actually lost 6% of the income share during 1996-2006! Incredibly these are the same people our policymakers are currently "piling on" by proposing to further reduce their income share!

Perhaps we can impute the costs of our prisons, mental institutions and other coercive institutions to our poor so their share of our national income is less negative (just sarcasm not an idea).

The good news is that we do not have to accept these pathetic policies—we can demand policies, which decrease income distributional imbalances and thereby decrease both protests, dissatisfaction and societal fragmentation.

UPDATED 11/05/2011 Wikipedia, Gini Coefficient

UPDATED 11/05/2011 Wolfram Mathworld, Gini Coefficient

UPDATED 11/03/2011 United Nations, 2011 TABLE 3 Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (pdf)

Our nation ranks fourth on the United Nations 2011 Human Development Index (HDI), but that respectable rank plummets a staggering 23 positions when our HDI is adjusted for inequality. Stated differently our 2011 adjusted HDI drops by a steep 15.3% (0.910 to 0.771) percentage points, moving our nation completely out of the very high development tranche.


UPDATED 08/30/2016 WSJ, Apple Ordered to Pay $14.5 Billion Irish Tax Bill How about imposing penalties for Apple et al. substitution of corporate financial schemes and shenanigans in lieu of responsibly participating in civil society?

UPDATED 08/29/2016 NYT, Central Bankers Hear Plea: Turn Focus to Government Spending

The current Congress is unlikely to correct the imbalances created by predominately relying on monetary policy, financial shenanigans, and unproved economic dogma for sustainable economic growth.

Stated differently as the financial shenanigans unwind, dogma ditched, and global interest rates begin to trend negative bankers are pleading for fiscal help!

Hopefully, our next Congress will be less dysfunctional?

UPDATED 04/29/2016 Economist, Household income inequality: ladders to climb
UPDATED 04/09/2016 UCTV, Income Inequality and the Future of the American Dream: Differing Perspectives

Ayn Rand's apostles and acolytes are not lacking in "strong beliefs"—they lack any theory of realpolitiks, economics, or governance to support those "strong beliefs", except, perhaps chaos and anarchy. Blowing things up might work for novelists, terrorists, libertarians, nihilists, actors, anarchists, and Howard Roark; not so much for democrats, economists, or statists.

It's unimaginative, unbalanced, and unnecessary to blow up government to correct market failures or economic and distributional imbalances.

UPDATED 04/01/2016 UCTV, Breaking Promises: The Young’s Declining Share of the Economic Pie with S.Druckenmiller G. Canada

How "precious", our confused cowboy-capitalists, who have spent the last several decades silently launching and participating in one catastrophic financial scheme after another are concerned about our children's declining share of the economic pie (i.e. our seniors are getting too much)!

Yes, there are capitalists concerned about our children's futures, but they're currently too busy scooping up the shit after the confused cowboy-capitalists' previous parades and figuring out how to sustainably grow the economic pie to lecture the public on a looted treasury.

Unfortunately, it's not an April Fools joke! You can't make this stuff up.

UPDATED 03/28/2016 MoJo, California Is About to Make a $15 Minimum Wage a Reality and UCBLC, The High Public Cost of Low Wages

The confused cowboy-capitalists currently cannibalizing "disrupting" our economy are unlikely to be responsive to an acute political pull for growing wage rates.

Is economic inequality simply a disguised and advanced form of rent-seeking?

UPDATED 02/17/2016 YouTube, Capitalism will eat democracy - unless we speak up, Yanis Varoufakis

Unconstrained capitalism is cannibalistic, which is capable of consuming itself—this is news to neither capitalism's proponents and opponents nor economic theorists.

UPDATED 02/11/2016 Economist, Going after Google and Guardian, How much does Google's European boss really earn? and Fortune, A Top Google Executive Said He Doesn't Know How Much He's Paid

Google does not what to be part of the estimate $7.6 trillion3 "off-shore tax problem" and must immediately take steps to completely extract and alienate itself from this problem.

Let no Google press release ever read "Google pays all the taxes we are legally obligated to pay" or other like drivel with respect to their participation in the "off-shore tax problem"!

Wonder how many more video's like this one will be required before Google decides to exit all "legal" tax dodging and avoidance schemes...? Taxodus - Playing The Global Tax Avoidance Game (documentary not to be confused with the game by the same name)

UPDATED 12/19/2015 NYT, Class Differences in Child-Rearing Are on the Rise and Stanford, The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor: New evidence and possible explanations

Continuously parroting myths is not a substitute for publicly sponsored research.

UPDATED 11/06/2015 UCTV, Inside Inequality: The Making of the Book with Thomas Piketty and his Collaborators and UCTV, Capital in the 21st Century with Thomas Piketty - Helen Edison Lecture Series


UPDATED 10/12/2015 NYT, Nobel in Economics Given to Angus Deaton for Studies of Consumption and The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2015 to Angus Deaton:
"for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare"

UPDATED 09/16/2015 NYT, Uninsured Numbers Drop as Poverty Rate Holds Steady Deceleration generally precedes a beneficial inflection (reversal) of a trend.

UPDATED 08/14/2015 UCTV, Economic Inequality and the Future of Progressivism with Bill De Blasio and Robert Reich

UPDATED 08/13/2015 Atlantic, The Resurrection of America's Slums and Atlantic, Income Inequality and the End of the Middle Class

The stakes are likely to be greater than a sustainable 21st century Middle Class—any sustainable solution set is unlikely to include prayer and parroted dogma.

UPDATED 05/29/2015 UCTV, The Great Divide with Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich

Stiglitz discussing his newest book, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them.

A collection of previously published media articles describing in nontechnical terms the harm inflicted by our "Great Recession", including the so-called "collateral damage".

UPDATED 04/22/2015 Ted, Why we need to rethink capitalism

UPDATED 01/01/2015 BBC, France economist Thomas Piketty rejects Legion D'Honneur

Piketty tells France's leaders to keep their encomium and focus on solving economic issues—politicos no doubt find it easier to hand out encomiums than solve pesky economic distributional imbalances?

UPDATED 10/18/2014 UPI, Janet Yellen says income inequality hurting U.S. economy

Continuously asserting that distributional imbalances are harming our economy and nation does nothing to reduce or eliminate these imbalances. Our income and wealth imbalances are so grossly large there is little harm in acting immediately, using crude methodology and tools, if necessary, to reduce these imbalances. We can debate the finer economic points of optimal imbalances in a capitalist economy while the imbalances are trending down (as opposed to up)!

Of course perpetually debating how best to achieve a balance between capitalism and confused-corrupt-cowboy-cannibal-carny-casino-capitalism is important. However, this debate, which has continuously occurred since the founding of our nation, need not impede immediate action to reduce or eliminate our grossly large income and wealth imbalances.

UPDATED 10/08/2014 Reuters, New data shows Americans' incomes still stagnant after recession

Well, on the upside talking about an important economic attribute usually precedes corrective actions—on the downside some prefer to substitute talking for corrective actions.

UPDATED 09/15/2014 WP, Income inequality is hurting state tax revenue, report says

UPDATED 09/15/2014 Twitter, Joseph Blasi Coauthor of the popular book The Citizen's Share: Putting Ownership Back in Democracy (out in paperback) and AuthorsAtGoogleTalk (~58:00).

UPDATED 05/29/2014 NYT, Taking on Adam Smith (and Karl Marx)

It's encouraging that these difficult (different than complex) discussions are finally beginning.

Discussions on how to improve capital distribution need not morph into a bipolar choice between capitalism and socialism.  Nor, need these discussions underestimate the benefits of speedily implementing demonstration projects aimed at convincing capital that "God and Darwin" have played no part in creating our current distributional imbalances.

* Piketty response to Giles concerns over the rate at which wealth distribution (Chapter 10) imbalances are accumulating—primarily the result of different interpretations concerning the reliability of the British noncontiguous heterogeneous data sets.

UPDATED 01/05/2014 NYT, Mapping Poverty in America Nice United States map listing county poverty (distributional imbalances twin sister) rates.

UPDATED 12/08/2013 Economist, Inequality in America Gini in the bottle and New Yorker, American Inequality in Six Charts

The good news about our nation's current income inequality is that it's enabled us to start an important dialog about inequality and related myths—notwithstanding the many subtle and not so subtle inferences to Darwinism, a money gene has not been located!

That will not dissuade some of our citizenry from sending saliva to 23andMe, cells to a cryonic laboratory or seriously consider whether to preserve their body post-death. It's unclear why these citizens would think future human habitats will require or apply their unique skill set or be constrained by today's myths?

UPDATED 12/04/2013 WH, President Obama Speaks on Economic Mobility (entire)

Sometimes all you can say is Wow!

UPDATED 10/12/2013 UPI, U.S. poverty rate stabilizes but number of poorest of poor grows 

What's "exceptional" about any nation simultaneously producing richer rich and poorer poor?!

UPDATED 08/03/2013 UPI, Obama: Reversing income gap is 'highest priority'

UPDATED 01/16/2013 Reuters, Number of working poor families grows as wealth gap widens
"Data showed that the top 20 percent of Americans received 48 percent of all income while those in the bottom 20 percent got less than 5 percent...In 2011, roughly 23.5 million, or 37 percent, of U.S. children lived in working poor families compared with about 21 million, or 33 percent, in 2007, the report (pdf) said."
UPDATED 09/19/2012 Atlantic, U.S. Income Inequality: It's Worse Today Than It Was in 1774

UPDATED 06/30/2012 GoogleTalk, Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality

UPDATED 06/06/2012 NPR, Growing Economic Inequality 'Endangers Our Future'

Cannibal capitalism is negatively distorting markets and the lives of millions of Americans—will we return to capitalism or proceed to carcass capitalism?

UPDATED 05/29/2012 UPI, U.S.: Second-highest child poverty level

UPDATED 11/03/2012 Moyer&Company, On Winner-Take-All Politics

By using a macro-measure target like the "gini coefficient" our policymaker are able to completely avoid winner-take-all-politics or accusation of "choosing winners and losers" or engaging endless and mostly useless debates about redistribution.

The "gini" is then discussed and managed in a manner not dissimilar to a discount or unemployment rate.

UPDATED 12/18/2011 TTBK, Decline of the Middle Class

UPDATED 12/16/2011 AP, Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

The result American exceptionalism, survival of the fittest or just decades of pathetic public policy that "hallowed out" our middle-class? Jeffrey Sack talking on The Price of Civilization thinks it's the latter:

UPDATED 12/07/2011 SeattleTimes, Obama: Middle class at 'make or break' stage

President Obama takes direct aim at those seeming hell bent on returning America to the workhouses of centuries past—full video (55min) of the President's Osawatomie, Kansas speech on the economy.

Mr. President, reducing our gaping income inequality gap improves more than trust. A reduced income inequality improvements life expectancy, math and literacy, infant mortality, homicides, imprisonment, teen births, trust, obesity, mental illness and social mobility, are all positively correlated with lower income inequality!

The above graph is from Richard Willkerson's short Ted Talk on How Economic Inequality Harms Societies

Other research confirms Wilkerson et al's linear correlation between a nation's worsening quality of life measures and its increasing income inequality.

Some of our President's critics proudly assert that the difference between knowledge and ignorance is mere opinion and justification for seeking "God's" opinion, which they inform us they routinely do. Hopefully, before bothering "God" they will read Irving Fisher's 1907, "Why Has The Doctrine of Laissez Faire Been Abandoned?" (quoted in part below):
"...The adherents of this school seemed to treat the difference between knowledge and ignorance as a mere difference in opinion, with which the government has no more concern than with difference of religious creeds. It is certainly true that the attempts of governments to impose what is regarded by the ruling class as the 'true religion' upon the entire people have always proved ill-advised; the recognition of this has produced the modern sentiment of religious toleration. But we are carrying toleration too far when we refuse to correct errors which science demonstrates to be false. There are doubtless millions of persons to-day who jeer at the idea that indiscriminate spitting is dangerous to public health, but it would be silly to allow their ignorant prejudice to prevail. The bacteriologist knows what the ignorant do not know, and every effort should be made to pass down this knowledge to the masses as soon as possible after it is discovered. We can not let any dogma of laissez faire prevent us from checking suicidal ignorance...."--Fisher, Laissez Faire 1907--
UPDATED 11/07/2011 IMF, Inequality and Unsustainable Growth: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Berg, Andrew, and Jonathan D. Ostry, 2011

Paper makes the correlation between inequality and length of growth period—a decrease in the Gini from .40 to .37 is expected to lengthen the growth period by 50 percent.

It goes on to make the fascinating observation:
"...Second, the efficacy of some standard policy recommendations may depend on forces related to distributional issues. It may be simultaneously true that inadequate regulation lay behind the financial crisis in the United States and that increasing inequality underlay the pressures on lenders and borrowers to overleverage. Better analysis of macroeconomic and financial sector linkages, and thus more appropriate regulation, can surely help. But such analysis cannot ignore the larger context of rising inequality if it is to yield useful policy advice...."--Inequality and Unsustainable Growth--
The above correlation and observation would seem to favor President Obama's strategy to prevent our acute distributional issues from becoming chronic.

How ironic that our policymakers, so practiced at yelling "class warfare"2 and enacting policies that exacerbate our distributional inequalities are in fact truncating the very growth their yelling and policy seeks to create and sustain, thereby jeopardizing our nation.

UPDATED 11/05/2011 Reuters, Inequality dents U.S. rank in U.N. development index

UPDATED 11/03/2011 ProPublica, U.S.'s [Shameful] Growing Income Gap By The Numbers a troubling trend that must be immediately and significantly reversed.

UPDATED 04/15/2011 Vanity Fair, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
"...An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul...."--Joseph E. Stiglitz--
Growing Unequal? Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries


1. When discussing or thinking about national inequality distributions and policy, measurements of income, wealth, GDP, GNP, and other economic indicators are often unhelpfully conflated with measurements of that nation's citizens.

2. One suspects that managing an economy that maintains equilibrium between incentives and inequalities requires policymakers with a different skill set.

3. Those interested may enjoy reading Gabriel Zucman's short seminal primer on off-shore tax havens, including initial data estimates on corporate participation (figure 8 of Excel Spreadsheet), The Hidden Wealth of Nations

Monday, August 29, 2016

President On Economic Mobility Of Middle Class

Originally Published December 04, 2013; Last Updated August 29, 2016; Last Republished August 29, 2016:

Sometimes there's nothing left to say, but Wow! The ignoratio elenchi periodically deployed by our President's detractors is buffoonery, albeit sometimes hilarious buffoonery.


UPDATED 08/29/2016 NYT, Central Bankers Hear Plea: Turn Focus to Government Spending

The current Congress is unlikely to correct the imbalances created by predominately relying on monetary policy, financial shenanigans, and unproved economic dogma for sustainable economic growth.

Stated differently as the financial shenanigans unwind, dogma ditched, and global interest rates begin to trend negative bankers are pleading for fiscal help!

Hopefully, our next Congress will be more functional?

UPDATED 08/13/2016 YoutubeCNN, Trump: If Clinton wins Pennsylvania, she cheated and NPR, Trump: I'll Only Lose With 'Cheating,' Asks Supporters To Watch Polling Places and Reuters, Donald Trump is 'totally nuts,' says Robert de Niro


Meet the Republican Party's presidential candidate that's going to improve our collapsed Middle-Class's economic mobility and everything else, REALLY!

UPDATED 08/12/2016 NYT, Why American Schools Are Even More Unequal Than We Thought

UPDATED 04/06/2016 WH, President Obama Delivers a Statement on The Economy

Our President to our neo-anarchists (aka libertarian extremists):

Free-rider navigation of our global economy is about to become choppier, Dramamine anyone?

Our neo-anarchists (aka libertarian extremists) have been spectacular at free-riding and crashing our global economy, but not so stellar at participating in the difficult research, development, and production necessary to obviate the inevitable and future harm.

Recent disclosures on the usage of "tax havens" indicate that some libertarian extremists (aka neo-anarchists) have no intentions of participating in the heavy lifting, which will be required to prepare our nation for the global competitive cooperation in the twenty-first-century.
UPDATED 03/14/2016 C-Span, President Obama shows his stand up comedy ability as he completely wrecks Republicans

The President still maintains his strong sense of humor even after years of striving to redirect and rebuild a demolished Middle America.

UPDATED 03/09/2016 UCTV, China: An Alternative Model for Innovation?

Research, development and cooperation trumps authoritarian communists or rent seeking capitalists.

UPDATED 08/07/2015 CSM, Dawn of the Uber economy? What happens when benefits become the exception.

Cannibalizing our 20th century jobs will not create an American 21st century economy or sustainable middle-class!

UPDATED 01/21/2015 NYT, Obama State of the Union 2015 Address: President's [FULL] SOTU Speech Today on 1/20/15

Simple Choices:
  • Focus on war and another decade and a half crusade through the lands of the "religious whack-jobs", killing "religious whack-jobs", or;
  • Cooperate to rebuild our nation and prepare all our citizens for the 21st Century ("religious whack-jobbery" unnecessary)?
Mr. President, focus our nation on preparing all our citizens for the 21st Century—ignore and avoid the "religious whack-jobs"—cooperate with all other nations trying to ignore and avoid the "religious whack-jobs" and prepare their citizenry for the 21st Century.

UPDATED 01/20/2015 WH, Behind The Scenes: A State of the Union [2015] Sit-Down with President Obama

A poised President Obama prepares to present and push timely 21st Century proposals aimed at rebuilding middle America.

UPDATED 06/21/2014 WH, Weekly Address: Bringing our Workplace Policies into the 21st Century

Our President is placing 21st century markers on a path for (re) building an inclusive/diverse, imaginative/innovative, and well-trained workforce/workplace1, notwithstanding an intransigent Congress that continues wandering in a deadly desert. Periodically stopping to rotate their map and survey their deadly desertscape hoping to recognize any familiar landmarks.

Eventually, Congress will stop rotating their map and figure out that it’s too old to be helpful—they’ll then need some 21st century markers to point the way.

Unsurprisingly, some in Congress are encouraging our President to begin wandering in a desert, too. Some concerned leaders, friends and supporters are cautioning against such a foolish desert foray, regardless of the past and preparation or expected conditions, duration, and map accuracy.

UPDATED 01/19/2014 WT, Obama: ‘I’ll act on my own’ to make ‘breakthrough year’ happen
UPDATED 01/16/2014 YouTube, President Obama's Remarks on Expanding College Opportunity and
 First Lady Michelle Obama Remarks on Expanding College Opportunity and Yahoo, White House summit on college affordability: Live chat (Q & A) and WH, Education, Knowledge and Skills for the Jobs of the Future

Our President and First Lady challenge educators and others to make college a reality for all our citizens, especially those whose developing conceptual capacity may be limited or stunted by circumstances, events or economics.

Wonder what correlation, if any, exists between the degree of a nation's freedom, security and future and the conceptual capacity of its citizenry? Reading today's headlines one might get the impression that our freedom, security and future is correlated with the quantity of hay our national security apparatus can sniff, sift, sort and store.

UPDATED 01/14/2014 CNNMoney,75 economists back minimum wage hike
UPDATED 01/09/2014 YouTube, President Obama's Remarks on Creating First Five of 20 Public-Private Promise Zones

UPDATED 01/09/2014 NYT, 2 Parties Place Political Focus on Inequality

Senators parroting the dogma and drivel that has resulted in the decimation of our Middle Class over several decades will not rebuild our Middle Class, notwithstanding the parroting is done by a "fresh face" and is periodically hilarious and entertaining.

UPDATED 01/06/2014 YouTube, TedTalk, Paul Piff: Does money make you mean?

Fascinating research relevant to economic mobility—it's surprising to hear the speaker assert that correcting such self-delusional entitlement behavior requires only "gentle nudges" (not depicted or quantified in the video clip of the experiment).

One would not expect that our nation would be so paralyzed over budget and distributional imbalances if self-delusional entitlement behavior is so easily corrected with only "gentle nudges"!

In fact our wealthy are vociferously asserting that it's the self-delusional entitlement behavior of our poor that requires correction—and they're not using gentle nudges!

UPDATED 01/05/2014 NYT, Mapping Poverty in America Nice United States map listing county poverty (distributional imbalances twin sister) rate.


1. Our current workplaces are mostly dysfunctional at best and toxic to human health at worse.

Proprietary School Education

Originally Published November 06, 2009; Last Updated August 29, 2016; Last Republished August 29, 2016:

It's probably too early to tell if the proprietary school does anything more than saddle our youngsters with a mountain of debt to enrich a few investors—but an initial look is not encouraging.

It's not too early to require transparent disclosures4, oversight, and reporting from our proprietary schools.

These data can be used to determine whether these schools, as a whole or individually are responding to market demand or creating market distortions5?

It's difficult to imagine what proprietary schools provide, beyond a mountain of student debt and a near useless education1 that our community colleges cannot better provide. Our community college system, properly configured to respond to the needs of our population2 and nation is a superior substitute for proprietary schools3.


UPDATED 07/30/2012 Senate Report, For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard 
the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success (pdf) and For Proļ¬ t Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success dated July 30, 2012 (pdf-alt-prefer-format).

The data contained in this detailed report and appendixes make it clear that it is no longer "too early to tell" if our proprietary schools do anything but saddle our youngsters with a mountain of debt to enrich a few investors at our nation's expense.

More than half of the students enrolled in proprietary schools between 2008-09 left without a certificate, associate degree or bachelor degree, which on average cost $15.5K, $26.6K and $10.1K (respectively) more than a nonproprietary equivalent.
"...As a result of high tuition, students must take on significant student loan debt to attend school. When students withdraw, as hundreds of thousands do each year, they are left with high monthly payments but without a commensurate increase in earning power from new training and skills.

...The vast majority of the students left with student loan debt that may follow them throughout their lives, and can create a financial burden that is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to escape.

...During the same period, the companies examined spent $4.2 billion on marketing and recruiting, or 22.7 percent of all revenue. Publicly traded companies operating for-profit colleges had an average profit margin of 19.7 percent, generated a total of $3.2 billion in pre-tax profit and paid an average of $7.3 million to their chief executive officers in 2009."--Senate Report, For Profit Higher Education--
The report's recommendation that private student debt be dischargable in bankruptcy must extend to public student debt, too.

GAO Report, Improved Department of Education Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Only Eligible Students Receive Federal Student Aid

GAO Report, Stronger Department of Education Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Only Eligible Students Receive Federal Student Aid


UPDATED 10/11/2012 RadioWorks, The Rise of Phoenix: For-Profit Universities Shake Up the Academy (transcript of podcast)

UPDATED 10/05/2012 ProPublica, No Income? No Problem! How the Gov’t Is Saddling Parents with College Loans They Can’t Afford6

It's unclear why our Congress has yet to enact legislation ensuring all student loan debt is entirely dischargable within a nominal bankruptcy proceeding. Perhaps they'e been overwhelmed unwinding the first and second wave of debt from bank recapitalization and restructure?

UPDATED 08/10/2012 ProPublica, The For-Profit Higher Education Industry, By the Numbers
UPDATED 12/11/2010 ProPublica, For-Profit Colleges Rake in Millions From Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
UPDATED 12/02/2010 ProPublica, Ex-Admissions Officer at For-Profit College Testifies About School's Tactics. More evidence that our proprietary schools are exploiting instead of educating.

UPDATED 07/09/2010 ProPublica, Investment Funds Stir Controversy Over Recruiting by For-Profit Colleges. Perhaps government guarantees and payments to proprietary schools can be directly and continually tied to graduates' actual earnings. Preventing the serial subscribers from proliferating proprietary schools (new name, same subscribers, operators, and investors) whose graduates' actual earnings are insufficient to sustain current operations.


UPDATED 08/29/2016 NYT, Crackdown on For-Profit Colleges May Free Students and Trap Taxpayers
UPDATED 06/28/2016 Reveal, Who Got Rich Off The Student Debt Crisis
UPDATED 06/09/2016 Youtube TedxPSU, A solution to student debts in America

The sooner our nation completely unwinds all toxic student loan debt in bankruptcy or equivalent process the better.

UPDATED 11/16/2015 AP, US reaches $95.5M settlement in for-profit education case
UPDATED 11/12/2015 Reuters, Students across U.S. to march over debt, free public college
UPDATED 11/11/2015 UCTV, Student Loans and the Rising Cost of Higher Education -- UC Public Policy Channel

ROI on citizenry education is a circular debate that need not precede a society's decision to continuously optimize access to current conceptual acquisition by all its citizenry.

UPDATED 11/03/2015 Atlantic, How For-Profit Colleges Hang on to Federal Funding

UPDATED 10/20/2015 UPI, Obama administration urges no bankruptcy relief for student debt

Stabilization of the student loan program does not require that we flog our insolvent retirees through bankruptcy proceedings. Nor does or should the present draconian bankruptcy provision require a petitioner to prove a "certainty of hopelessness" or "total incapacity" to change (i.e. death) before discharging their student loan debt.

Shame on the Obama administration for arguing such bizarre nonsense in a bankruptcy proceeding!
UPDATED 10/12/2015 NYT, For-Profit Colleges Accused of Fraud Still Receive U.S. Funds

UPDATED 06/24/2015 MW, Obama administration scores big win in crackdown on for-profit colleges

Our Congress should adopt "gainful employment rules" and amend our bankruptcy code and related laws to ensure student loans are routinely dischargable in bankruptcy proceedings.

Creating "debtor prisons" for our college students is not in the best interest of our students or nation. 

UPDATED 01/20/2015 WH, The President Proposes to Make Community College Free for Responsible Students for 2 Years

Excellent idea, even if we must listen to our confused-cowboy-cannibal-carney-capitalists squeal about a seven or eight cent per dollar excessive-debt-margin-discouragement-fee.

UPDATED 08/05/2014 CIR, University of Phoenix barred from enrolling veterans in 7 programs and CIR, GI Bill loophole keeps 4 major for-profit educators from violating law

UPDATED 07/05/2014 UPI, For-profit Corinthian Colleges Inc. submits plan to shut down its operations

How about the Apollo Group, Education Management Corporation, Kaplan, DeVry, Career Education Corporation, ITT, Bridgepoint, Strayer Incorporated, Lincoln Educational Services, Capella Education Company, American Public Education Incorporated, Grand Canyon Incorporated, Universal Technical Institute and National American University and others?

It's a rare or extinct proprietary school that is not receiving at least 75% of their revenue from federal sources—many receive more than 80% and some exceed 90%.

Wonder if their lobbyists are schlepping the halls of Congress on their behalf? (Hint: begin with the "As")7.

UPDATED 06/09/2014 WH, President Obama Speaks on Student Loan Debt

Kudos to the President for using his bully pulpit and limited authority to highlight the need for affordable access to education and encourage an intransigent Congress to act.

Access to very low or no cost education is not an elite privilege, but a fundamental cost of continual development and maintenance of our modern civil society structures (i.e promoting the welfare of our nation).

Unfortunately, some of our current congressional representatives seem to believe that the constitutional phrase "promote the general welfare [of our nation]" means perpetually promoting war and prison in perpetuity.

UPDATED 06/08/2014 NYT BookRev, B.A.s and I.O.U.s ‘Degrees of Inequality,’ by Suzanne Mettler

We need not await definitive data delineating proprietary school student loan fraud to initiate prophylactic measures.

Pending legislative action reinstating the prior treatment of student loan debt as routinely dischargeable unsecured debt our bankruptcy courts can take notice that student loan debt is a hardship.

Loading our students up with massive debt differs little from private capital (new definition for old leverage buy-out; LBO) structuring a deal that sends a target into bankruptcy with crushing unserviceable debt, except unlike our students the target can routinely discharge its crushing debt and sometime recover its losses from those that structured the LBO.

Our college students should not be required to make the Hobson's choice between a lifetime of debt and a lifetime of disadvantaging ignorance!

UPDATED 01/15/2014 MJ, How College Pricing Is Like Holiday Retail Sales
UPDATED 08/12/2012 CFR, Guest Post: Community Colleges and America’s Skills Gap

It's unclear why our community colleges are not seamlessly integrated into the life-long educational needs of our citizenry—offering no cost classes responsive to local, regional and national vocational, professional and two-year degree requirements on a 24/7/365 schedule.

UPDATED 07/30/2012 Reuters, Senate report calls for congressional action on for-profit colleges

The excellent Senate report (ExecSum) contains much informative data, including profiles from a sample population of proprietary schools. The senate report (FullReport)  can be accessed via a link under "Res:" section above.

UPDATED 02/20/2012 WT, Obama takes tougher stance on higher education

UPDATED 11/21/2010 NYT, Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company and NYT, For-Profit College and WP, Is The Post falling short on Kaplan coverage.

UPDATED 10/02/2010 Reuters, Opposition to education rules gathers steam.

UPDATED 09/17/2010 ProPublica, For-Profit Schools Donate to Lawmakers Opposing New Financial Aid Rules. Fortunately many are no longer accepting the myth that our representatives are not voting consistent with their dominate campaign contributors'' monies. The impacts of such voting is still a hotly debated topic requiring further research and analysis.

UPDATED 08/15/2010 Reuters, For-profit schools get report on loan repayments.

UPDATED 08/04/2010 NYT, For-Profit Colleges Mislead Students, Report Finds.

UPDATED 05/05/2010 PBS Frontline, College Inc.

 Investigating how Wall Street and a new breed of for-profit universities are transforming the way we think about college in America...

Why do any for profit markets exist for educating human beings? Are for profit markets for education a solution or deficiency? What are the costs to a society of operating private markets for human being education? Is producing a product or service for a market the same as educating a human being? What, if any human activity is not amenable to a market solution? Is education or learning an "efficient" activity? Are there ways to improve public not for profit education that will eliminate for profit education markets? Can private for profit and public not for profit education markets coexist? Should education ever be responsive to any markets (see is education efficient above)? Is private for profit education a substitute or complement to public not for profit education? Do universal national standards for measuring educational outcomes inform the private for profit and public not for profit education debate?

 Most significantly, what are the costs to our historically beneficial capitalist system from misapplication or distortion of markets and market principles or solutions to great harm? Once, twice, three times, or more... 

UPDATED 12/21/2009 ContraCostaTimes, A four-year degree from a two-year school? It could happen. Many California community colleges could make this transition quickly given the additional resources—others would require more time, notwithstanding sufficient resources. Nevertheless, all our community colleges should begin the transition.

UPDATED 12/16/2009 ProPublica, Real Student Default Rates Much Higher Than Previously Known ProPublica, At University of Phoenix, Allegations of Enrollment Abuses Persist


1. An early flashing warning light is that other colleges, schools and universities are not transferring units from many proprietary schools. A second flashing warning light is that economic analysis indicates many graduating student's earning capacity, as a direct result of the education provided, will be inadequate to retire the incurred debt.

2. Some policymakers and educators still incorrectly think they must conform a population to their demands to disastrous results for our students, schools, and nation. Meeting our population cum students "where they are" while ensuring a meaningful education has always been a challenge for both students and educators—just more acute today.

3. Proprietary school enrollment figures indicate that our community colleges may be deficient in responding to our students' needs. On the other hand many of our community colleges are pursuing very diverse and innovative approaches to meet fast changing demands—near round-the-clock class schedules; adapting to the more mature students; remedial classes; accommodating mental, learning, and physical disabilities; aligning course curricula and degree requirements to meet our changing national objectives, rigorous university academics, and local labor markets (present and future).

4. All disclosures of graduation rates, dropout rates, placement rates, instructor qualifications, course curriculum, teaching and training facilities, overall and individual grade point averages, complaints, lawsuits, underwriters, investors etc. must be certified current, complete, and accurate.

5. The "subprime" mess reminds us of the trillions of dollar difference between creating market distortions and supplying market demand. Some of our "capitalists" have difficulty distinguishing one from the other.

6. College students with insufficient educational attainment, enthusiasm or direction after high school (see ProPublica, The Opportunity Gap Is Your State Providing Equal Access to Education?) may find it useful, efficient and more effective to attend a less costly community college—transferring to the university after a couple of years (remember educational attainment is a nonlinear lifetime process).

 7. Those wanting additional details on the politics of perpetuating these proprietary schools will appreciate Suzanne Mettler's new book Degrees of Inequality.Telling a story of:

"... how the US political system today has become a polarized plutocracy, with a government that is fiercely divided and ineffective, with rare exceptions--aside from those instances in which powerful, wealthy industries manage tho unite lawmakers across the aisle in bipartisan support of government largesse directed toward them. In an age of rising economic inequality, American government has grown so polarized that most efforts to respond to public needs end in stalemate. Yet big money interests with political savvy yield the power to generate bipartisan support for political elites. In the case of the for-profits, such success has enabled them to divert funds intended for educational opportunity, using them instead to improve their bottom lines." @ pg 167

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Least Secretive Of Nations Is The Strongest Of Nations Update-2

Originally Published October 28, 2013; Last Updated August 24, 2016; Last Republished August 24, 2016: 

Our government's unmeasured and unconstrained psychotic pursuit of secret surveillance initiatives undermines and threatens both our democracy and its foundational First Amendment.

Only after the intervention of a courageous young whistleblower-leaker, competitive China and cantankerous Russia has some of our government's representatives begun to acknowledge that our government's secret surveillance initiatives require constraints.

Our government representatives' acknowledgement that its secret surveillance initiatives require constraints is a good beginning. However, the acknowledgement must be coupled with government transparency, significant whistleblower-leaker reforms and inviolable reporter shields, but that will require the intervention of our increasingly concerned citizenry.  


UPDATED 03/18/2016 CRS, Encryption: Selected Legal Issues Mar 2016 (courtesy FAS)
UPDATED 02/26/2016 Scribd, Apple's Motion to Vacate Magistrate Order Directing Apple to Render Technical Assistance to FBI Re Opening Encrypted Device ED No. CM 16-1(SP) and Wired, FBI Motion for Apple Assistance Re Opening Encrypted Device ED No. 15-0451M

UPDATED 02/25/2016 YouTube, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, World Wide Threats Hearing, February 25, 2016

UPDATED 02/23/2016 CRS, Encryption and Evolving Technology: Implications for U.S. Law Enforcement Investigations (courtesy, FAS)

UPDATED 06/29/2015 Intercept, How the NSA Started Investigating the New York Times’ Warrantless Wiretapping Story

UPDATED 06/24/2015 Independent, A Question of Trust, Report of the Investigatory Powers Review by David Anderson Q.C. Independent reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, June 2015 (pdf)

UPDATED 07/14/2014 IETF, RFC 7258, Pervasive Monitoring Is an Attack dated May 2014 (pdf) and IETF RFC 7258, Pervasive Monitoring Is an Attack dated May 2014 (txt)
enWikipedia, Protection of Sources


UPDATED 08/24/2016 Guardian, WikiLeaks posted medical files of rape victims and children, investigation finds and NPR, Save The Children Ex-Employee Leaks Details About Refugee Abuse On Nauru

Governments, regimes, and failed states cite incidents of transparency, which results in perceived harm to persons, usually to justify, support, continue, or extend their policies of opaqueness.  Rarely, if ever do these entities voluntarily reveal and explain the more numerous (some might argue continuous) episodes of government opaqueness that result in harm.

Australia and other opaque governments, including the United States often use non-disclosure agreements, which include draconian penalties to coerce compliance with their policies of opaqueness, even  in the face of the most infandous harm. The rule of law demands that government non-disclosure agreements, which hide infandous harm are void ab initio.

Fortunately, most major nations agree to transparently govern, but argue ad infinitum whether transparent means translucent?!

UPDATED 08/24/2016 CSM, NSA leak rattles cybersecurity industry Really!? and Intercept, The NSA Leak Is Real, Snowden Documents Confirm NSA's unprecedented recklessness has turned it into a target!

UPDATED 05/31/2016 Guardian, Eric Holder says Edward Snowden performed 'public service' with NSA leak

Instead of calling a leaker a traitor we can refer to them as citizens' informants, guaranteeing them a proper level of protection?

A government secretly misbehaving is unlikely to fully appreciate the benefits of public disclosure, total transparency, or citizen disapprobation.

UPDATED 05/23/2016 Guardian, Future of national security whistleblowing at stake in US inquiry
UPDATED 05/22/2016  Reuters, U.S. targets spying threat on campus with proposed research clampdown

The burdens of such a program are likely to far outweigh any benefits (mostly imagined). Our universities must not be required to get a license from some anonymous military officer at the political desk of our State Department to teach students computational biology or any other subject or conduct laboratory experiments.

Just another dangerous and mischievous form of watch listing more indicative of fascist and dictatorial forms of governments than a leading democracy.

UPDATED 05/22/2016 SA, What the Apple vs. FBI Debacle Taught Us
UPDATED 05/17/2016 Intercept, Snowden Archive—The SIDToday Files  and NYT, Intercept Publishes N.S.A.'s Internal Articles Detailing Employee Life [or more appropriately lack thereof]

Only in the constipated compartments of our cloistered clandestine communities are these data considered classified!

The acronym SID substitutes for Signals  Intelligence Data

UPDATED 04/29/2016 Atlantic, The Supreme Court Expands FBI Hacking Powers Proposal to amend Rule 4, 41, and 45 of the Federal Federal Rules of Criminal Proceedure, effective Dec2016 unless changed by Congress.

UPDATED 04/04/2016 Panama Law Firm’s Leaked Files Detail Offshore Accounts Tied to World Leaders


The most important and interesting part of this leaked data and whistle-blowing story has not yet been told—law firm Mossack Fonseca's et al. assertion that what they've been doing is legal—sound familiar?

UPDATED 03/29/2016 WP, DOJ Motion to Vacate Search of Apple iPhoneUPDATED 03/19/2016 MB, Lavabit's Forgotten Encryption Fight Looms Over the Apple Case
UPDATED 03/15/2016 Crypto-gram, March 15, 2016 Includes a great survey of links related to Apple v FBI

UPDATED 03/14/2016 Deadline, President Obama’s SXSW Keynote: Call To Action, Memes Aimed At Tech World (includes transcript of the President's keynote interview/remarks)

Mr. President, "healthy skepticism" of trust in our government, really? How about catastrophic collapse of trust in  our government! Your SXSW appearance may be necessary, but grossly insufficient to repair the rapidly diminishing trust in our government.

SXSW (left video) Apple Encryption Question Begins at Approximately 34:10

Absolutist's logic is not required to decry any model that eliminates our citizenry's personal privacy based on outlier events.

It is useful to recall that pursuit of absolute encryption for personal privacy, if achievable, is likely potentiated and propelled by our government's propensity for unconstrained, unaccountable, unmeasured, or unconstitutional action.

Stated differently, Mr. President our FBI lost the current Apple encryption debate before it began.

UPDATED 03/08/2016 Guardian, FBI quietly changes its privacy rules for accessing NSA data on Americans
UPDATED 03/03/2016 NPR, FBI Chief And Apple's Top Lawyer Head Into First Encryption Hearing and NPR, New York Judge Sides With Apple In Another Legal Faceoff With The Government
and Wired, Top iPhone Hackers Ask Court to Protect Apple From the FBI
UPDATED 02/25/2016 NewYorker, Daily Cartoon, Thursday February 25th; "Apple Comes Up With a Phone That's Impossible To Unlock" and MoJo, FBI Director Ducks the Most Important Question in the Apple Fight and SA, Apple Defiant as FBI iPhone Deadline Approaches and LAT, FBI director calls Apple case 'hardest question' in government and WP, Apple says FBI seeks ‘dangerous power,’ files motion opposing court order to help unlock iPhone and Wired, Apple May Use a First Amendment Defense in That FBI Case. And It Just Might Work

UPDATED 02/24/2016 BBC, Bill Gates calls for terror data debate and HouseR, Congressman Ted Lieu Statement [to FBI Director] on Apple Court Order

"Should governments be able to access [all] information at all or should they be blind, that's essentially what we are talking about," he told the BBC.

Like all complex policy questions balanced responses are rarely binary; it depends on the competing interests.

Surely, our government (all three branches) must be completely disabused of any notions that it can chant what it considers talismanic words like "terror" or "national security" or "grave danger" or "existential threat" or "capable of chewing through hydraulic hoses" or  "[fill in your favorite secret, undisclosed or unsubstantiated hyperbole]" entitles it to (un)conditional access to any information.

UPDATED 02/22/2016 Atlantic, Apple vs. the FBI: James Comey Chimes In and Reuters, U.S. government, Apple take encryption case to court of public opinion

Law enforcement should never be ashamed to inform any victim(s) that they pursed all investigative leads as far as conflicting and competing public policy, interests, as represented by the law permitted.

Pursuing leads is not synonymous with obtaining (un)expected information—pursuit of leads is often truncated for a variety of limitations (e.g. mistake, ability, policy, economic, capability, technical, legal, chance, uncertainty, ignorance, irrelevance etc.).

UPDATED 02/19/2016 NYT, Justice Department Calls Apple’s Refusal to Unlock iPhone a ‘Marketing Strategy’

How soon before, our duplicitous and now pouting proponents of secrecy, through their spokesperson(s) over at our FBI transparently inform our citizenry in court filings that anyone not cowering when confronted with the government's talismanic words "national security" has blood on their hands?

UPDATED 02/19/2016 WP, Apple vows to resist FBI demand to crack iPhone linked to San Bernardino attacks and NYT, Apple Fights Order to Unlock San Bernardino Gunman’s iPhone and Reuters, Apple phone ruling reignites privacy vs law enforcement debate and Wired, Apple’s FBI Battle Is Complicated. Here’s What’s Really Going On

How ironic that our government now seeks to rely on transparency and the law in its "fight against terrorism"—after our duplicitous proponents of secrecy effectively shredded all government  trust and credibility.

UPDATED 02/05/2016 Commonwealth, Barry Eisler, Former CIA Directorate of Operations

UPDATED 02/05/2016 Wired, Julian Assange’s 3.5-Year Detainment in Embassy Ruled Unlawful
UPDATED 02/01/2016 NYT, New Technologies Give Government Ample Means to Track Suspects, Study Finds

It's encouraging that some of our citizenry are beginning to challenge not only government opaqueness, but it’s routine forecasts of certain harm when required to operate transparently.

UPDATED 01/29/2016 Intercept, Spies in the Sky
UPDATED 12/31/2015 WSJ, U.S. Spy Net on Israel Snares Congress and NYT, House Intelligence Chair Seeks Answers on NSA Spying Report and Intercept, Spying on Congress and Israel: NSA Cheerleaders Discover Value of Privacy Only When Their Own Is Violated

The creators of a system of mass surveillance are surprised when it surveils them—really?

Transcripts and mp3s (will enable more efficient and effective parodies and jokes) of the the intercepted conversations should be made published in their entirety.

UPDATED 12/05/2015 Fortune, NSA Surveillance Programs Are Far From Over Despite New Limitations

UPDATED 11/28/2015 Reuters, NSA to shut down bulk phone surveillance program by Sunday

Oversight of our intelligence community cowboys, who tend to think any schemes they dream up are acceptable, provided they attach the talismanic phrase "national security", requires much more than terminating one unconstrained, unaccountable, unmeasured, and unconstitutional program.

UPDATED 11/20/2015 Ted, Art that lets you talk back to NSA spies

UPDATED 11/17/2015 SA, Weakening Encrypted Communications Would Do Little to Stop Terrorist Attacks, Experts Say

Unsurprisingly, some individuals in our intelligence components cite strong encryption for the inability to provide timely terrorist related data, which some individuals in our government seek ... wonder if these individuals are trying to govern using with an obsolete model?

...using an obsolete model to pursue counter (or defeat kill if you're a congressional religious zealot) those using an obsolete model—it would be hilarious absent the created carnage.

UPDATED 11/16/2015 SA, NSA Efforts to Evade Encryption Technology Damaged U.S. Cryptography Standard
This is an earlier article republished by Scientific American as a reminder of our government's efforts to intentionally weaken an encryption standard it promoted.

UPDATED 11/10/2015 U.S. judge rules against NSA in phone spying case
UPDATED 11/05/2015 Reveal, California increases scrutiny of cellphone surveillance

UPDATED 11/04/2015 Guardian, Theresa May unveils UK surveillance measures in wake of Snowden claims  MPs demonstrate how not to legislate for increased Internet security.

UPDATED 10/19/2015 NYT, The NYPD Is Using Mobile X-Ray Vans to Spy on Unknown Targets

Who could ever believe that a Bill Bratton bozo blueprint would include blasting urban bodies with ionizing radiation?

One begins to wonder whether "the terrorists" or well-intended, unconstrained, unmeasured, and unaccountable bozo blueprints surveilling "the terrorists" are more of a threat!

UPDATED 10/06/2015 Reuters, Schrems: the law student who brought down a transatlantic data pact
UPDATED 09/17/2015 Ted, How to Avoid Surveillance...With Your Phone | Christopher Soghoian | TED Talks; also, Wired, Christopher Soghoian: Encrypt Now or Surrender to Surveillance; also, Wired, NSA Boss: Encrypted Software Needs Government Backdoors; also, InfoWorld, Obama advisors: Encryption backdoors would hurt cyber security, Net infrastructure vendors

Past governance by surveillance does not mean future governance by surveillance—perhaps our government will learn and practice new methods of governance, like consent8 of the governed?

Lack of governance by surveillance does not imply criminal advantage, as this speaker asserts.

UPDATED 08/30/2015 CADC, Opinion; D.C United States Court of Appeals; Larry Elliot Layman; No. 14-5004; Decide August 28, 2015 (pdf)
"The court reverses the judgment of the district court, and for the reasons stated in the opinions of Judge Brown and Judge Williams orders the case remanded to the district court. (Judge Sentelle dissents from the order of remand and would order the case dismissed.) The opinions of the judges appear below after a brief explanation of why the case is not moot."
UPDATED 08/25/2015 WP, There’s a new crayfish species and it’s named after Edward Snowden

Powerful pinchers are likely required when challenging a government's whose practices have become unconstrained, unmeasured, and unaccountable. Particularly when that government has intentionally made those practices opaque by assertions of national security.

UPDATED 08/15/2015 NYT, AT&T Helped N.S.A. Spy on an Array of Internet Traffic

UPDATED 08/06/2015 Economist, Espionage: What laws in the jungle?
UPDATED 07/28/2015 NJ, NSA to Purge Database of Phone Records Collected Under Mass Surveillance

UPDATED 07/28/2015 WP, After two years, White House says ‘no’ to petition asking for pardon of Edward Snowden

UPDATED 06/09/2015 Guardian, Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore public court's decision on spying
UPDATED 06/06/2015 Slate, Why Obama Should Offer Edward Snowden a Deal

Our government is likely incapable of governing transparently, which a public interest defense implies7.

A primary objective, if not the primary objective of our dysfunctional, if not defunct "classification system" is to obviate all public interest justification!

Hell, it's likely that "repurposing" the entire NSA's computational capacity to, say, computational biology is more in the public interest than collecting and analyzing signals intelligence from terrorists and other religious-wackos?

UPDATED 06/06/2015 NYT, Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance 
UPDATED 06/01/2015 CBS, After the Patriot Act Provisions Sunset, What's Next?
UPDATED 05/30/2015 WH, Pass the USA Freedom Act

Mr. President, we're not surrendering tools for tracking terrorists. We're demanding transparent and knowledgeable debate, which objectively demonstrates that our government is continuously utilizing a minimally effective set of tools that our citizenry have knowingly authorized. Not any set of tools which an unconstrained, unmeasured, and unaccountable national security community can dream up or imagine might possibly be useful for tracking terrorists.

It's unfortunate that our national security community has behaved with such recklessness that it has jeopardized, if not entirely forfeited all its credibility.

Yet, another "national security plea" is unlikely to restore that lost credibility.

UPDATED 05/23/2015 Atlantic, The Weird End of the NSA's Phone Dragnet
UPDATED 05/19/2015  WP, Tech giants don’t want Obama to give police access to encrypted phone data and Cnet, Google, Apple among tech giants urging US to support encryption and Atlantic, The Last Defenders of the NSA

Governing transparently will not be easily advocated, mastered, or practiced by proponents of opaque governance. Ironically, these same proponents are some of our most strident advocates of democracy!?

UPDATED 05/18/2015 NYT, A Debate Over How Long Democracy Can Wage Battles in Shadows
UPDATED 05/16/2015 SeattleTimes, Former NSA official: Secret phone records grab was mistake

“How could anyone think the bulk collection program would remain secret? ... It’s not that there no longer can be national security secrets, ... the idea that the broad rules governing your activities —not specific operations, but the broad rules can be kept secret is a delusion. And they should not be kept secret.” --Joel Brenner, Former Inspector General, NSA--
Any national security secret should be rare, require extraordinary justification, and of minimal duration measured in hours and days, not months and years.

UPDATED 05/08/2015 NYT, N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Illegal, Appeals Court Rules and WP, Appeals court blunts NSA phone snooping program

Unfortunately, during periods of perceive or declared exigent circumstances (e.g. national application of force or one of our numerous quasi-wars) our appellate courts suffer a self-induced ignorance until the exigency subsides.

Fortunately, our appellate courts eventually restore, return or revert to the rule-of-law.

UPDATED 04/27/2015 AP, US unveils 6-year-old report on NSA surveillance
UPDATED 01/20/2015 UPI, Snowden Documents Show China Stole Fighter Jet plans, U.S. Gearing Up for Cyber War

So, let's bill China for their prorata research and development costs, annual licensing fees, cross-licensing fees for all design and manufacturing improvements, and logistics support!

Minus the the costs saved from not having to steal the aircraft design or hardware for reverse engineering and threat assessment analysis.

UPDATED 12/25/2014 Ted, The Year in Ideas TED Talks of 2014

 Ongoing NSA Spy vs. Citizenry Tragicomedy
UPDATED 12/25/2014 CSM, Regin spying tool linked to NSA among first malware meant for espionage
UPDATED 12/08/2014 BBC, Surveillance laws 'not fit for purpose', MPs say
UPDATED 12/07/2014 FirstLook, Operation Auroragold How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide 
UPDATED 11/04/2014 ProPublica, The Best Secure Messaging Tools
UPDATED 10/19/2014 ProPublica, NSA Documents Suggest a Close Working Relationship Between NSA, U.S. Companies

Our national security components appear to have "accomplished" the extraordinarily fascinating, albeit destructive feat of transitioning from "spy vs. spy" to "spy vs. citizen".

Much future research and study will be required to understand this transition? To date our government's "research and study" appears to consist of superficial and self-serving accusations focused at leakers and whistleblowers. However, nothing of value will be learned by continued pursuit of this path of "research and study".

UPDATED 10/13/2014 TedTalk, Glen Greenwald, Why Privacy Matters

Greenwald boldly asserts privacy matters. Fundamentally, his assertion can be expressed more powerfully, not as trades between security and privacy or good and bad behavior, but as trading privacy for the destruction of our civil society.

How ironic that those supposedly working to preserve our civil society would destroy it!

The good news is that a significant number of our citizenry has demanded and continues demanding that our government dismantle6 its secretly constructed and continuously operated mass surveillance apparatus.

Additionally, our government must continuously and transparently constrain, measure and account for all its past and future surveillance activity.

It's likely not chance that our government has begun complaining about its surveillance activity going dark.

UPDATED 10/08/2014 FAS SecrecyNews, Gov’t Resists Court Review of State Secrets

UPDATED 09/06/2014 VOA, Surveillance Software Key Concern at Internet Governance Meeting

Wonder why governments (particularly ours) find it difficult or impossible to govern transparently and without ubiquitous surveillance? Opaque and ubiquitous surveillance seems like the antithesis of freedom, not to mention optimal, good and preferred democratic governance.

UPDATED 08/06/2014 Ted, Hubertus Knabe: The dark secrets of a surveillance state

UPDATED 07/07/2014 WP, In NSA-intercepted Data, Those Not Targeted Far Outnumber the Foreigners Who Are

Our intelligence community is secretly smothering (and smoldering) under haystacks of irrelevant data.

A significant benefit of constitutionally collecting data is that analysts are not required to spend significant time focused on the irrelevant.

Unfortunately, inefficiencies and storage costs are not the only downsides and negatives that result from our nation operating secretly undefined, unmeasured, unaccountable and unconstitutional program(s).

UPDATED 07/03/2016 PCLOB, Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Sec 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act5

Welcomed recommendations by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. However, the reasonable inferences of the recommendations belie the report's constitutional conclusion.

A conclusion that agencies' section 702 actions passed constitutional muster requires, at a minimum, transparently defined, measured and accountable actions—boldly or baldly asserted conclusory statements notwithstanding.

UPDATED 06/06/2014 CSM, NSA leaks: A year later, US tech leaders demand quicker surveillance reform

Substantial and significant shifts to our government surveillance paradigm are required to accommodate modern corporate entities methodologies—these shifts conflict with our mature corporate entities methodologies (sound familiar?).

Resolving these conflicts will require more than a letter from our modern corporate entities, arguably our best experts on the requirements for designing, operating and maintaining a successful 21st century information economy infrastructure, or a set of senate hearings on the USA Freedom Act (S. 1599, H.R. 3361)4.

UPDATED 06/06/2014 Guardian, Pentagon report: scope of intelligence compromised by Snowden 'staggering'

After every transparency event (leak) our intelligence community or government spokesperson will always assert that the "compromise" has caused "serious" (term used when transparency event involves documents classified secret) or "grave" (term used when transparency event involves documents classified top-secret) damage.

These are reactionary assertions that occur by definition of the leaked document's classification level. Asserting otherwise would be to acknowledge that the secret or top-secret document was improperly classified!

Those familiar with our classification system: will not assume any document is properly classified; will be routinely amused by the quantity and quality of improperly classified documents; will discount all G-Gordon-Liddy-like pronouncements of "serious" or "grave" damage, which are supported by reams of redacted pages; and will be staggered, not by the results of a transparency event, but by the sums spent on secret and opaque governance!

UPDATED 06/06/2014 MSNBC, The House committee on intelligence needs oversight of its own

Congress's hostility to transparency and transparent governance will not bode well for our intelligence community and nation.

Continued opacity will likely further erode any residual confidence in our intelligence community and those pretending to oversee its actions.

UPDATED 05/21/2014 PBS Frontline, United States of Secrets
UPDATED 05/21/2014 Reuters, In cyber spying row, Chinese media call U.S. a 'mincing rascal' and Reuters, China confronts U.S. envoy over cyber-spying accusations and NYT, Fine Line Seen in U.S. Spying on Companies

Kudos to our President and DOJ for obviating the traditional "spy vs spy" extrajudicial approach that has balefully prevailed among nation states—nations need not publicly protest but rather publicly present facts to a routinely convened court of law complying with common international standards.

Some proponents of partially perpetuating the "spy vs spy" extrajudicial paradigm make the illusory distinction between economic and non-economic spying—asserting the former purpose is impermissible while the later is ok?

The illusion works only if you think there exists a bright line between our government spies and our private enterprises—such a bright line does not exist.

For example, suppose our intelligence collectors physically or virtually collect an exotic piece of hardware, firmware or software—the collectors will directly or indirectly use our private enterprises to analyze and understand that hardware, firmware or software. If the collected hardware, firmware or software advances the state of art (improbable but not impossible, if you're collecting against mostly developing nations) our private enterprises will economically and non-economically exploit that advance.

UPDATED 05/19/2014 Reuters, Post-Snowden, the NSA's future rests on Admiral Rogers' shoulders

A more relevant question is not whether Rogers can salvage a non-salvageable-agency, but whether our nation and its leaders can learn to govern under 21st century transparency? To date, their efforts mostly seem futilely focused on salvaging opaque governance and secrecy!

UPDATED 04/14/2014 Pulitzer Prize, The 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Public Service
Awarded to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.
Awarded to The Guardian US for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.
UPDATED 04/11/2014 NYT, Journalists Who Broke News on N.S.A. Surveillance Return to the U.S.

Presentation for national security reporting category of George Polk Awards:

UPDATED 04/03/2014 WP, Germany opens hearings on U.S. spying

UPDATED 03/12/2014 NYT, How a Court Secretly Evolved, Extending U.S. Spies’ Reach

Even the chairwoman of our Senate Intelligence [over, under or no sight?] Committee has begun expressing "shock, amazement and outrage" over our intelligence community's "off leash" or more appropriately "unleashed" behavior.

Reportedly, the "off leash" or "unleashed" behavior has been or will be referred to our Justice Department (for what?)—bleating echoes of "its never bitten before" can't be far-off?

UPDATED 03/11/2014 CSM, Listening to Edward Snowden at SXSW The poor quality video link's audio is garbled and echos—have a transcript of the video conference handy.

UPDATED 03/10/2014 WT, US Network to Scan Workers with Secret Clearances

We can only hope our government stumbles upon transparency while staggering toward increased secrecy.

UPDATED 01/26/2014 NPR, Transcript: NSA Deputy Director John Inglis

An interesting Kabuki dance between NSA's Inglis and NPR's Inskeep—evidently NSA's new strategy is to pursue transparent secrecy.

There is much to parse, discuss and debate from the transcript (e.g.):
Inglis: "...The FISA Amendments Act that came in in 2008 essentially made it clear that no matter where you are on the planet earth, if you're a U.S. person, if you have U.S. person status, if NSA or any other foreign intelligence organization within the U.S. is going to target them, they must first get a probable cause statement from the court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court..."
Is the secret FISA court probable cause statement substituting for individualized searches of American citizens based on probable cause, specificity and a warrant?

UPDATED 01/24/2014 Reuters, In China, U.S. tech firms weigh 'Snowden Effect

It seems a stretch to ascribe fluctuations in corporate earnings to a "Snowden Effect"—let's ascribe corporate earnings fluctuations to an "NSA Effect" or "Secrecy and Opaque Effect", or "Panda Effect or [insert your favorite effect].

UPDATED 01/23/2014 UPI, Snowden seeks extra Russian protection after U.S. threats

Hopefully, these alleged threats, if made originate from blathering idiots and not our government?

UPDATED 01/19/2014 WP, NSA program defenders question Snowden’s motives and NYT, Congressional Leaders Suggest Earlier Snowden Link to Russia

Debating whether recent NSA leaks contain more heat than light or policymakers' reciprocating castigations contain more mud than meaning distracts from urgently needed efforts to constitutionally constrain our secret opaque national security hydra.

UPDATED 01/18/2014 YouTube, President Obama Speaks on U.S. Intelligence Programs and ProPublica, Four Questionable Claims Obama Has Made on NSA Surveillance and WP, Obama calls for significant changes in collection of phone records of U.S. citizens and WP, Tepid global reaction to Obama’s NSA vow

President Obama proposes to partially restore some constraints on our secret opaque national security hydra while retaining nearly ubiquitous surveillance. Implicitly citing as justification the standard dystopian tripartite bogeymen of fear, perpetual conflict and potential war.

President Obama's noble efforts at rehabilitating our national security hydra's fidelity and simultaneously maintain its opaque secrecy is likely to be unsuccessful.

Hopefully, "Plan B" includes an options for total transparently monitoring, measuring and constraining each national security program?

Interestingly and surprisingly, President Obama is seems unable to imagine projecting our national power using transparently operated national security assets.

UPDATED 01/14/2014 WT, Spy court judge slams proposed privacy advocate

FISA court proceedings must not only be opposed they must be open and transparent! It's insufficient to assert secrecy or “operational security reasons”.

Additionally, there is no reason not to appoint, as FISA court judges, persons with advanced training in privacy, security, programming, algorithms, digital hardware and software, engineering, mathematics, etc.

It's unclear why we associate security with secrecy or vice versa.

UPDATED 01/14/2014 CSM, NSA snooping didn't make America much safer, report says

Unsurprisingly, those erecting and perpetuating our opaque secret national security hydra find it difficult to articulate the benefits from the bulk collection of communications. One suspects that quantifying, measuring and monitoring other individual components of our opaque secret national security hydra would quickly demonstrate a similar lack of benefits, likely by orders of magnitudes.

Unfortunately, in the absence a transparent national security apparatus we must learn these data, after the fact, from whistle-blowers and leakers. How much better for our nation if our citizens openly discussed and debated the benefits and burdens, before the fact?

UPDATED 01/12/2014 CSM, Five overlooked costs of the NSA surveillance flap
UPDATED 01/05/2014 UPI, What Snowden hath wrought
UPDATED 01/03/2014 eCommerceTimes, Surveillance Rights and Wrongs, Part 1: Begging the Questions

UPDATED 12/29/2013 Der Spiegel, Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit
UPDATED 12/28/2013 ProPublica, Judge on NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn’t Actually Support His Ruling

UPDATED 12/28/2013 UPI, Judge rules NSA Surveillance Programs to be Constitutional and NYSD Court Opinion, ACLU v. Clapper Declined to enjoin NSA's mass collection of metadata for domestic calls.

Only in fairy tale do kings bulk collect straw or hay believing that sprites can turn it in to gold for profit while relying on spies to discover the codeword, Rumpelstiltskin, to avoid any costs.

One expects a certain amount of unproved threat hyperbole from our national security apparatus—many do not expect our judiciary to parrot their hyperbole.

Admittedly, perspective and national security threats are not often difficult to simultaneously combined, but orders of magnitude more Americans die annually from shootings, suicides or flu viruses than a relatively rare "terrorists attacks"!

One wonders what gains could be achieved by repurposing our national security apparatus's capabilities and resources to solving marginally greater threats than regressing over five years of mass collected communication records for any statistically significant parameters (patterns)?

Then again, it may be significantly easier to justify "big data capability" costs using national security threat hyperbole than computational molecular biology; human connectome; climatology; particle physics or [your insert] hyperbole?

UPDATED 12/25/2013 UPI, Snowden: Orwell's '1984' 'nothing' compared to NSA spying and WP, Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished
UPDATED 12/23/2013 Propublica, Surveillance Articles Series
UPDATED 12/23/2013 WP, Peter King: Obama should ‘stop apologizing’ for NSA

Apologists for our opaque secret national security apparatus' most recently discovered abuses should at least hold a leash attached to an empty dangling collar in their hands when making their assertions. The prop will add some comedy to an otherwise developing tragedy and obscure the reason for any subsequent laughter.

UPDATED 12/21/2013 CSM, NSA surveillance: Revelations damaged US security, Obama says (+video)

Mr. President, how can we meaningfully debate and arrive at an optimal balance for our national security apparatus in the absence of total transparency?

Are you really justifying our national security apparatus's unconstrained, unmeasured, unlawful, unconstitutional, undemocratic, unproven, unnecessary, and imbalanced ( independent psychiatrists will have to determine if some the cowboy's are unbalanced?) collection methodologies by pointing out that Russia's regime is more repressive!!? 

UPDATED 12/20/2013 YahooNews, Obama hints at changing phone records collection and Reuters, Exclusive: Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer and Reuters, Insight: How U.S. spying cost Boeing multibillion-dollar jet contract

Mr. President, seems like an opportune time to transition away from covert opaque unilateral competitive cowboy collection methodologies toward open transparent multilateral cooperative cowgirl collection methodologies. 

UPDATED 12/19/2013 Reuters, Analysis - U.S. surveillance case: Tech may clash with 18th Century right and WH PressRelease, President Obama’s Meeting with the Review Group on Intelligence Communications Technologies and WH PressRelease, [Aug 2013] Statement by the Press Secretary on the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology

Group participants publish 46 tepid recommendations mostly focused on adding players and functionality to an already costly and dysfunctional national security apparatus game of  whack-a-mole (or find-a-needle-in-the-haystack, if you prefer).

Even if fully implemented, the group's recommendations will do little to ensure a default national security apparatus capable of effectively and transparently delivering more benefits than burdens.

Our president should publish the group's recommendations in the Federal Register for the purpose of seeking public input specifically focused on what can be subtracted (not added)3 to improve our costly and dysfunctional national security apparatus.

UPDATED 12/16/2013 NYT, Federal Judge Rules Against N.S.A. Phone Data Program and NYT, Obama Panel Said to Urge N.S.A. Curbs and YouTube, 60 Minutes Inside the NSA Part 1 and 60 Minutes, The Snowden Affair Part 2 2 and Cryptome, Transcript of 60 Minutes NSA Part 1 and 2

Well it's been slightly over a decade since King Bush the Idiot kicked-off his Global War on Terror (substantially continued by President Obama) in retaliation for the acts of a relatively few terrorists.

Since then our nation continues struggling through the Great Recession, Great Renege (pensions), Great Democracy Decline and now the Great Rein In of a nascent secret opaque Orwellian national security state apparatus.

In summary our nation has struggle through close to a decade of self-inflicted disaster! Oh, almost forgot to mention that the head spook over at our NSA, General Keith Alexander, recently informed our nation (6o Minutes) that the probability of a terrorist attack is increasing2! To borrow a recent out burst from House Speaker, John Boehner, "are you kidding me"!

Let's see if we can avoid turning our nation's decade of self-inflicted disaster in to a dozen years Great Demise! Firstly, by immediately and transparently transfiguring General Alexander's et al. vision of a nascent secret opaque Orwellian national security state apparatus in to open, transparent and constitutionally constrained tools for informing our citizenry.

UPDATED 12/08/2013 NYT, Tech Giants Issue Call for Limits on Government Surveillance of Users and Reform Government Surveillance
UPDATED 12/05/2013 Rueters, Sweden key partner for U.S. spying on Russia: TV and WP, NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show and UPI, Report: NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide
UPDATED 11/26/2013 WP, Julian Assange unlikely to face U.S. charges over publishing classified documents

When our government learns (an admittedly steep learning curve) how to govern transparently there will be nothing to leak and no leakers to prosecute!

Unfortunately, until our government climbs the learning curve some will suffer (including our nation as a whole) from the many methods, myths and diversions dreamed up to maintain and justify opaque governance.

UPDATED 11/07/2013 YouTube, Living in a Security State Mikko Hypponen's Ted talk on how to live above a surveillance state.

When you're building or participating in a secret surveillance state (and they're always secret, initially) it's extraordinarily difficult to perceive the dysfunctional environment, not unlike battered spouses secretly participating in a dysfunctional environment. Only when a spouse voluntarily or involuntarily exits the dysfunctional environment or its opacity otherwise becomes transparent1 are the dysfunctional properties properly perceived.

UPDATED 11/06/2013 Reuters, U.S. Power to Shape Global Web Seen Undermined by NSA Spying
and FP, Does Listening to Angela Merkel's Phone Calls Make America Safer?

It's unclear whether our government ever had the power to shape the global web or that  nations' spying produces any meaningful transparency or greater global stability

VoiceOfRussia , Free Snowden: JSPDF Launches Website to Fund Whistleblower’s Defense Campaign


1. Fortunately, disclosure of dysfunctional environments has become more common. However, a perpetrator rarely appreciates, acknowledges or learns from these disclosures, so it may be necessary to protect a discloser from retaliation.

2. Part 2 opens with a couple of cheap shots by career NSA Snowden Leak Task Force Coordinator, Rick Ledgett. Outsiders familiar with the paranoid and pathological environments existing within our national security apparatus will amusingly recall the asymptotic mental compartmentalization that's required for a  25 year veteran insider to criticize unusual behavior (viewing a video terminal under black felt) and stealing secrets (key to a test) for advantage!

Part 2 closes with head spook General Keith B. Alexander's statement on the increased probability of terrorism.

Between Part 2's opening and closing is a continuing NSA promo that could be titled the "Refocusing on NSA Basics, Really!". How NSA lost its focus, constraints and measures will require another James Risen tome (perhaps a well resourced joint endeavor with James Bamford!).

 3. Additions simply increase the number of  possible failure paths.

4. Even more substantial and significant shifts will be required to accommodate the citizenry of modern civil societies. It's not without irony that those whose information is, has been, or will be bulk collected by our government are not participating in the hearings (e.g. German Chancellor Merkel).

Perhaps, these participants must await further government transparency events?

5. A companion report was released early 2014; Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court date January 23, 2014.

6. As an alternative to dismantling these assets they can be entirely or partially repurposed, minus the generals (e.g. quantitative and synthetic biology, emergence, materials, spectral, and chaos etc.). Cost-benefit analyses must replace chants of "the terrorists are coming" and "God [insert your favorite verb] America".

7. Of course if our government could govern transparently there would be no espionage prosecution and thus no need for a public interest defense.

8. It can be useful to view government governance on a coercion-consent continuum with greater government coercion required to sustain greater societal imbalances.

A decaying government will ignore destabilizing societal imbalances and cite these destabilizing societal imbalances as justification for utilizing greater government coercion, thereby accelerating its further decay and eventual destruction.