DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.

 

 

Media
Thursday
Dec012011

AN 'INTERESTING' SOLUTION TO THE WORLD'S FINANCIAL WOES

Economics ain’t my thing, nor is logic. After all I scored 18% on my Logic final exam while in college. With that said it seems to me that the only solution to the world’s fiscal crisis is for governments to cap interest rates, not only on lending but on borrowing as well.

     Since the invention of money the world has had fiscal problems. Monetary policy has always been beset by too much money or too little. In simpler times, before paper money, physical limits on how much gold or silver was on hand, or could be seized by force, were the main constraints of fiscal policy.

     Even in those pre electronic times another conundrum bedeviled monetary policy: credit or the lack of it. Borrowing money was the easy answer, if you had a positive FICO credit score say in the high 700’s. But borrowing money had a downside: you had to pay it back with interest, usually at usurious rates. Early societies responded to this dark side of the force of money by prohibiting usury or regulating it. Islam’s Shariah law generally prohibited interest on loans. Christians responded in kind by outlawing interest bearing loans between the faithful. But humans, being human, invented loopholes galore. Jews were exempt from these strictures and were fair game, see Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.  

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Tuesday
Nov152011

DO NOT LET LOOSE THE DOGS OF WAR

        New York City Police in full riot gear, plastic face shields in place, batons in hand cleared Zucotti Park early this morning. As I watch the confrontations and abuse by the police, municipal and state, in dealing with OWS protesters, I cry warning, rephrasing Shakespeare: “Do not cry havoc, do not let loose the Dogs of War.”

         Whatever your views on the methods of this protest, most seem to agree that this ill defined movement confirms that there is plenty to bitch about the state we are in. Usurious credit card interest rates, student loans never to be repaid, joblessness in the double digits, foreclosures continuing apace, whatever else destroys the body politic.

          Authorities ignore that America is a society weaned on guns. To date no one has responded to the authorities’ abuse of force with more than a measured civil disobedience response, some bottles hurled, punches thrown and some garbage cans set alight. This response truly sets us apart from the riots in Greece, France and England.

          But all that is needed is a spark to set off a catastrophe. The use of unconstrained force will result in a like response. A night of protest can easily turn into a night of the long knives, or in the case of America, days of long guns.

          As long as the protests remain but a civil peaceful complaint, let them be. Let the voice of protest be heard and not be silenced unless it truly impinges on all of our rights. To do otherwise will surely lead to class warfare we can ill afford.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Nov032011

GREED, A COMMODITY WE CAN NO LONGER AFFORD

[Revised Version of Op-Ed Piece Published Litchfield County Times November 3, 2011]

 

“Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.”       King James Bible, Luke 6:42

          Fast on the heels of the conviction and sentencing of Raj Rajaratnmam, Galleon Group’s disgraced hedge fund honcho, to 11 years of hard time we have the surrender and arrest of Rujat K. Gupta last week. Both are inadequate and feeble attempts by the Government and the Securities and Exchange Commission to bring order and justice to the financial markets and fall far short of the mark.

          Today the tsunami of greed destroyed another victim, MF Global Holdings. Formerly a staid derivative trading firm that Jon Corzine, the former Senator from and Governor of the Garden State, who spent over $65 million for that dubious privilege, tried to shape into a mini Goldman Sachs, that revered temple of greed. Well his leveraged $40 in debt to $1 in equity bet on European sovereign debt went belly up putting his $12 million golden parachute in jeopardy. By the way, it seems that, according to the New York Times, $700 million of clients’ funds may be missing. But that’s a story for another day.

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Thursday
Oct062011

ARAB SPRING, WALL STREET FALL

Cairo’s Tahrir Square is quiet today. Revolution and change have passed Egypt by. Tunisia had its demonstrations on Habib Bourguib Avenue, with limited success. Thousands have been shot at in Douma and Damascus, Syria, with the political outcome up for grabs. Libya is still in throes of a civil war without end in sight. Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are in the process of change. The revolutionary Arab Spring has stretched into fall and probably into the winter.

          The Arab sneeze gave Europe a cold. A mob of educated unemployed young people and retirees facing cuts in pension benefits protested violently in Athens, Greece. The European sovereign debt crisis continues with Brussels shoring up countries and tottering banks. The losses from financial speculation by financial institutions and governments, see the failed Athens Olympics and the yet to be London Olympics, will be paid by the “have nots”, not the “haves”. The world’s political solution of austerity and cuts in social services was met with violent protests in London and Madrid, but not here, not as of yet.    

          Today a couple thousand people are camping out in Zuccotti Park as part of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest, with little media attention. The mostly young crowd is protesting the continuing unregulated speculation in the world’s financial markets. They have no cohesive leadership or clear agenda but they oppose the unreasonable burdens of student loans, bank bailouts and joblessness. They have been joined, from time to time, by activist celebrities in support of their ill defined demand for change. They march from Bowling Green’s Charging Bull statue to Union Square’s Green Market without much public support or interest. Some have been gratuitously pepper sprayed by New York’s Finest in full view of cameras in the name of law and order.

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Thursday
Oct062011

FRIENDLY'S AWFUL AWFUL FATE

         The news today is that Friendly’s, that venerable Connecticut and New England culinary institution, has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. Some 63 underperforming restaurants will be shuttered, including those in Waterbury, Torrington and West Hartford. A sad chapter in the history of a once great place to eat.

          Last Labor Day weekend on my way to Cape Cod I was forced to take a break due to Hurricane Irene’s winds and rain. I got off the highway and stopped at a Friendly’s somewhere near Newport, Rhode Island. What a dismal place. It was dirty, the waitresses surly and the food God awful. The hamburger was manufactured not cooked, the milk shake watery. With that experience I vowed never to set a foot in a Friendly’s again.

          It was not always so. In the late 50’s when I was in college up in Hartford the food served in the dining hall was made of industrial waste. Trinity College had just contracted out food service to one of those national catering companies that manufactured food in factories and made everything not only tasteless but of the consistency of soft plastic. That’s when I came across my first Friendly’s, the one near campus.

          This was a clean and well lit place. In the fall and winter it was warm and comforting. The split pea soup, a perennial special, was smooth with bits of ham for flavor. The hamburger special was cooked to order right before your eyes and not in some dark dank kitchen. It was served with fresh lettuce and tomatoes, the vegetables that your mother always harped that you should eat at every meal. The piece de la resistance and desert was the Awful Awful, a thick milk shake.

          For two years that was my standard every day dinner, except when vegetable soup became du jour. It was good, it was filling and it was cheap. The only change was when the Awful Awful was renamed the Fribble. It seems that the Awful Awful was not generic but a trade name owned by the Newport Creamery, hence the name change.

          We never know when to leave a good thing alone. The original owners retired and sold out to a conglomerate. The conglomerate was hell bent to expand and maximize profits. Friendly’s went from being a friendly place to just another fast food joint not worth the visit. Chapter 7 liquidation would be a more fitting end, a quick and merciful death.