Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Coming Storm

You can feel the pressure building. The level of corruption in government and business is being countered by a front of new political and social awareness spurred on by the internet. The more I watch the approaching storm, the more I'm convinced that there is a fundamental divergence in the perception of reality at the core of the philosophies involved.

Mainstreamers... who are ALL conservatives in my opinion, despite political labels that claim otherwise... believe that industrialized society is an unmitigated success. They believe that "growth" is good without regard for the consequences. Every thing about the philosophy of life in the modern age is built around the concept that having more of anything is a virtue... except for wisdom.

We live in a closed system. There are LIMITS on the resources available to us. Unfettered growth is a death sentence to the species. We have two options: Restrict growth (which will require a dramatic re-envisioning of economic principles) or expand the system (by actively pursuing resources outside the terrestrial sphere.)

The institutions which have greatest influence right now refuse to acknowledge, let alone address these options because they are interested in maintaining their primacy. They firmly believe that they are entitled to their behavior through some divine mandate or accident of birth and they are unwilling to consider that their own satisfaction is NOT the most desired outcome of existence.

We have men without vision leading us into an epoch that requires imaginative and innovative solutions. They have spent centuries building a stronghold of interwoven systems of indoctrination designed to keep independent and intelligent thought from prevailing over them. Every form of bigotry is an appendage of their network. The assumption of our own superiority over others with different beliefs is the greatest tool for preventing growth as a species.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A how-to guide for fixing America’s banks - The Washington Post

A how-to guide for fixing America’s banks - The Washington Post:
While I agree with your general assessment of the banks and their failing health, I think that the minute the word "Nationalize" comes into the conversation, half the readership will probably turn off their brains and lose their tempers. Americans have been trained by decades of Pavlovian reinforcement to despise anything that even implies socialist values.

Not to say that concern is entirely unjustified. The government has already interfered plenty in the free market by creating the category of TBTF and I can't imagine that further intervention by the government is going to do anything other than undermine confidence in the free-market system.

From the point of view of an investor, if I look into the financials on a company, determine they are failing, and make plans to profit on that failure, only to have the government bail them out, I lose. That will make me gun-shy on future speculations of that sort AND cripple the faith that the market will proceed in Darwinian fashion.

I'm upset that shareholders haven't instigated civil action against bank leadership. They engaged in poor business practices, violated legal and ethical obligations to their customers and their investors, and through their inept management, infected the entire banking industry with a variety of toxic assets. They created a cultural imperative within their companies to violate the public trust and even under a bankruptcy they are going to walk away with full pockets.

'via Blog this'

Transforming the Liberal Checklist | The Nation Eric Schneiderman

Transforming the Liberal Checklist | The Nation: "While I agree with the basic sentiment behind this philosophy, I think that even the way you, and most liberals frame the argument. You are apologizing for yourself even as you make the argument you are right.

"What deal can we get?" You beat yourself with the question... Conservatives aren't asking what they can get... they are predators and dominant. They think from a place of power, ask themselves "What are we going to give the liberals to get them to shut up?"

They think about the transaction from the place of power as a matter of course. I know this sounds like I'm picking on the construction of the article, but its really an observation on the underlying mentality of both parties. Conservatives are by nature of the belief that the current condition is the ideal one. They have an ideology of firm belief that THIS is as close to a Utopian society as we can get. They don't want to explore new ideas, we have to lead them into them. Every step towards making the world a better place is a cause of anguish for them because they can't envision a better world.

We have to TAKE from them actively, with the knowledge that we are attempting to move the little children forward."

'via Blog this'

Friday, August 26, 2011

Banks have forgotten Econ 101 principles.

A lot of the big banks are struggling under the burden of a reverse run. Too many consumers are uncomfortable with investment in the markets due to the volatility in the markets which leaves banks with too much liquidity. The problem is compounded by the fact that in the current depressed economy, people aren't willing to risk taking out long term loans. Who wants to buy a house when you don't know if you'll still have a job next week.

This isn't something that should have caught the banks off-guard, but it has.

This is Econ 101 and the bankers skipped too many classes freshman year. They created demand by pumping high risk loans. They sold those loans to investors by lying about the level of risk. The loans came due, the borrowers defaulted, the investments went bad and now no one wants to do business with the people who started the mess. Demand for their primary income source, making loans, has dried up. We don't trust them anymore. We'll let them hold our lunch bag, but we took pictures of what is in it before we handed to them and we won't let them out of our sight until they give it back.

What's worse is that this is also a story about Civics 101. Despite being illegal, unethical and offensive, the banks made money and they want to keep it. They broke contracts, both implicit and explicit and they want to keep the profits. Forget punitive damages... they don't even want to pay back the ill gotten gains.

And now they turn to the government to relieve them of the burden caused by cheating. The government has done a lot to help them out, but politicians aren't willing to stick their neck out on the banks behalf right now. It doesn't pay off politically to be a patsy for the guy who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Of course, the public suffers from ADD and soon its going to be easy for the banks and the politicians to play together. Bank of America already made their bid to buy Rick Perry in public and the panel of Attorneys General investigating the banking crisis kicked the last man actually doing his job off the panel.

One big problem with sorting out the mess is that despite certain politicians claims to the contrary, corporations are NOT people. They are a collection of individuals with one goal... the accumulation of  assets. What this means is that they aren't governed by ideas like self-preservation or sound reasoning.

In this sense, they are a lot like children; poorly educated, selfish two year old children in the midst of a tantrum. Until someone spanks them, they aren't going to learn. Unfortunately, Big Brother is satisfied with the loot the banks are giving him, so he won't be the one to deliver the whooping.

What Ben Bernanke has in common with a pimp:

After Bernanke's statement today that the Fed will not enact QE3 I watched the markets plunge and realized that the markets still had some expectation that Bernanke was going to use his magic printing press again. Not really a big surprise, but it started me to thinking that at this point, investors expect him to put out.

After all, Bernanke has pretty much let banks have their way with the Fed ever since he became chairman. It seems incongruous to them that he would change his position. In fact, the buzz after his announcement pretty much amounted to "He says no now, but he'll say yes next month."

Despite his talk of "other tools" available, we all know that anything other than QE3 is pretty much idle talk... what else does he really have? He's already guaranteeing interest rates 2 years out. What other incentive makers does he have? If it's going to be anything other than flooding the market with more worthless paper, it will be a surprise to everyone.

Ben's printing press is just tired right now. She'll be back at work as soon as the bruises heal.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is Faith in the Economy Equivalent to Selling the Judicial System?

I've been pondering the philosophical implications of fiscal decisions lately and it occurred to me that putting faith in the economic stability of the American financial institutions is basically the same as saying you don't expect to see justice done.

In a just world, the banks who perpetrated the events that led to the mortgage bubble would suffer the consequences of their actions and there would be serious penalties to them for the questionable ethics that led to the collapse. Of course, there would be pains aplenty for the nation, but in the end the concept of justice would be reinforced and bankers would be forced to think about the consequences of their actions before they created another giant vortex of bad decisions that sucks the wealth out of the middle class.

Bailing out the banks over and over again is a critical failure in our system of government. It is an absolute insult to the concepts of democratic government and capitalism that the concept of "to big to fail" even exists. The fact that the average American still seems comfortable trusting their money in the hands of the same corporations that violated them in the first place is a testament to the fact that we have given up on the judicial process.

If we really believed the government was going to do the right thing, our faith in the big banks would have evaporated. We have subconsciously abandoned the idea that those who behave responsibly will prosper and those who are incompetent or untrustworthy will suffer. We are a beaten people.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paranoia or Astute Observation?

I find it interesting that during the lead up to the current economic crisis, there was a TREMENDOUS increase in marketing of gold buying services.  Suddenly we're seeing this massive spike in gold prices not long after a major push to remove gold as a tangible asset from the population at large. How many people facing an impending foreclosure ditched their family jewels and old heirlooms thanks to the miracle of modern marketing.

Was there a conscious effort somewhere in the market to increase the wealth gap by collecting up the real asset while depreciating the value of the paper money it was exchanged for? I'm not a big fan of the global economic conspiracy theory, but sometimes cause and effect are difficult to differentiate between. Are people ditching their real assets in order to pick up monopoly money because its convenient right now or is it convenient right now in order to encourage people to do it.

Even as I write this, gold opened $30 higher this morning...

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Answer to your Prayer

This is the answer to your prayer. This is the resolution to every question that keeps you awake at three a.m. It is the lyrics to the song whose music plays through your head endlessly, searching for meaning.
I know that right now it looks like an incomprehensible block of text that leads nowhere, but trust me, just for a few minutes. Put aside your fear. I’m not trying to sell you something or take anything away from you. I’m just trying to introduce you to something that is yours by right of your own existence.

I wish there was a short and simple way to make my point, without sounding like a new-age guru or a pious asshole, but there isn’t. Simplicity can’t convey the enormity of the truth, even though you already know it; even though it’s already been said a billion times before; even though it is written in the very core of your being; even though the stars whisper it to you every night and the sun screams it daily.
So here we go. Without further ado, the mysteries of the universe, unveiled before you:
When it comes right down to it, everyone has two primary functions: self-preservation and genetic preservation. Life wants to continue; demands it, in fact. Ever thing that man has wrought upon the earth has been a consequence of this.

Evolution is the process of life seeking godhood. Every form of life is constantly moving towards the ultimate goal of perfection. This doesn’t occur within a vacuum, however. Life requires energy to sustain itself. Any closed system has a finite amount of energy available to sustain life; therefore all life within a system is in competition for the ability to sustain itself. The strongest or most adaptive survive and the weak and unfit are removed from competition. The most successful life must be adaptive to changing circumstance and utilize the resources it has to sustain itself efficiently.

Mutation and sexual reproduction are variations of adaptation… life continues, searching for its own ultimate expression.

So what does this mean for a human being?

That depends on the principles by which the universe operates. If the universe is simply a giant mechanical computer, executing a set of commands written at the moment of the big bang, then it means your only purpose is to spread your seed as far and wide as possible. If quantum theory is correct, it means that you can decide (or at least contribute to) what the face of god will look like. If religion is right, it means I’m going to burn in hell for talking about the other two possibilities.

Obviously, the only one of those three options that matters for purposes of this discussion is the one in the middle… the one where your actions are a result of free will… the one where you are god’s great X 10^nth grandparent. That kind of makes you important… REALLY important.

Like I said earlier, evolution is life seeking its most perfect expression. Humanity as a species and you as an individual are a part of that search. What makes mankind special is the fact that we can consciously effect what the ultimate nature of our perfection will be… or we can ignore the rules that govern the universe and annihilate ourselves before we find perfection. Our decisions have consequences.

Now, from where I sit, we haven’t done a very good job of facing the consequences. We’re still so excited about the fact that we’re special and unique snowflakes that we are ignoring the bigger picture. If, as a species, we start making some good decisions about some things, we can hurry along the path of evolution and get to the good part where we are the masters of our own destiny. No, it probably won’t be your kids or your grandkids who get to live forever and be wiser than you could possibly imagine… but if we don’t get our act together, it will be some other species on some other planet entirely that gets to rule creation… and the BEST we can hope for in that universe is to be pets. Do you REALLY want your great, great, great grandchild to be the intergalactic equivalent of a guinea pig or a goldfish?

Get your act together, humanity. Make the hard choices. Stop the bickering over what you call the old god and start making a list of names for the new one that we can become. Make the conscious decision to stop wasting resources through needless competition AND needless breeding. (Let’s face it, reproduction is a wasted effort on some of us) Get rid of the archaic systems of dividing resources and recognize that we need each other to succeed. Most of all, love thy neighbor as thyself, and love god above all else. (the god we’re becoming, not the old, cranky one.)

Is anyone still reading? Really?! Gluttons for punishment, I suppose.

There are a lot of implications to what I just laid out, philosophically and biologically. There is the whole chicken and egg thing… if we eventually achieve perfection do we become our own creators? It may be interesting to think about, but it really isn’t crucial to the evolutionary process in any way. More importantly in my opinion are deciding on what characteristics we should be encouraging and what sort of philosophy we should embrace.

As far as breeding goes, any biologist will tell you that diversity is the hallmark of a successful population. Homogeneity means death. Hitler’s proposed “master race” of blonde haired, blue eyed, Aryan supermen would work GREAT as say… the Swedish Bikini Team, but they wouldn’t be adequately adapted to prosper in Sudan. Diversity of population provides the opportunity to exploit different conditions to their full advantage. Clearly there are more important traits than morphology or melanin distribution that should govern our decisions about who prospers and who… well… who is an evolutionary dead end.

Of even greater importance than the “who” is “how”. How do we plan for our own future? The first thing we need to do is recognize the need for better stewardship of our resources. All life requires energy to survive and there is only so much to go around on this little blue green pebble floating in the void. We need to protect the resources we have here until we are capable of spreading out further. No matter what we do, this planet cannot sustain us forever.

Sooner or later we’ll suffer an extinction level event. Just because we haven’t seen one in a while doesn’t mean another isn’t just around the corner. The faster we reach out to the stars, the more likely we are to avoid the fate of the dinosaur and the dodo. We should dedicate all our energies towards our own advancement, rather than letting the mechanically universe dictate our future.

War is a terrible waste of energy. If we were still chucking spears at one another across an open field, that would be one thing, but the rate at which we plunder the earth for the sake of pummeling those with ideological differences in modern warfare pretty much ensures we will destroy ourselves and our assets long before we have the opportunity to seed ourselves into infinity.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Is the worst candidate available still better than what we deserve?

After learning the results of the Ames Iowa straw poll this week, I was forced to rethink my position that we deserve better from the government than we have received in recent decades.  After all, when even such a marginal cross section of the population as the approximately 25k folks in the middle of Iowa come back with a result suggesting that they support a woman who can't define "policy" let alone define her OWN policies, maybe its just time to throw in the towel, sit back and let the unevolved burn civilization to the ground.

I wish I was joking.  I really do.  Unfortunately, its getting harder to justify taking a stand when so many people are content to sit on the sidelines and eat their deep-fried butter on a stick. That bothered me too... during the great depression, my grandparents, great aunts and great uncles were reduced to eating lard sandwiches... and today their selling deep fried butter for $4.00 a stick and you stupid, self loathing sycophants swallow it thanks to modern marketing. Wake up people... the margins were too slim on deep fried Snickers bars this year because the economy is in the shitter.

Back to my original rant:

The people in Ames DESERVE Michelle Bachman as their leader.  They had the entire Republican field in front of them and they didn't hang a single one. Okay, maybe hanging would have been a bit extreme, but if I were in arms reach of the people who were running this country, I would have been demanding answers, not barbecue.

Okay... so there were about 10 protesters standing outside. I need to give credit where credit is due.

The point here is that we've got a bunch of bottom feeding, incompetent, inarticulate buffoons campaigning for the highest seat in the land and there was NO OUTRAGE. You should have had those men and women cowering in fear of you for failing to look after your interests while holding their respective offices, and instead you're glibly offering them a promotion. Fuck you America! You don't deserve better, you deserve worse. Keep deep-throating that deep fried butter stick and choke on it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What is the top .1% doing with all that money?

There is a lot of talk about class warfare and controlling the masses through debt... and I understand all the theory there, but it still leaves me with some serious questions.

If less one percent of the population controls more than %40 of the resources, what's the ultimate goal? I mean, realistically, what is the point to an individual accumulating more wealth than they can dispose of in a million lifetimes?

Clearly, the people building these giant piles of cash are either brilliantly psychotic or they are idiot savants.

Perhaps it is simply the fact that I can't relate to a mentality that finds satisfaction in denying others the basic necessities of life so that I can... wait... what CAN you do with $500 billion in personal assets that you can't do with $250 billion?

Don't get me wrong... I believe in rewarding merit. I just can't imagine the contribution to society that is worth the combined earnings of 100,000 people... which makes corporate bonus structures nearly incomprehensible to me.

Of course, there is also the fact that the consolidation of wealth KILLS economic growth... but more on that later.

Less Kabuki, More Execution

So last night was the GOP's Iowa debate... which amounts to a festival of free publicity for a bunch of retarded puppets running for an office that needs them like they need another mouth to talk out of. Regardless of how pointless the show was, the media is going to run with it and present winners and losers, as if it were an event of great importance.

Look at the wonderful qualifications these candidates bring to the table and ask yourself if you would let them babysit for you... then think about the fact that for some reason, they are being offered as the people who are going to step into the leadership role to guide this country through 4 years of struggling economy, wealth disparity and war.

Do we really want these racist, misogynistic, pandering corporate lackeys near the seat of power?  Hasn't EVERY one of them participated in some way in bringing our country to the position its in now? If these are the only alternatives to Barrack Obama's non-leadership in 2012, I'm moving to Australia... and I'm pretty sure emigration from the U.S. is going to see a substantial boost. Don't be surprised if Canada starts treating Americans like Americans treat Mexicans in the near future.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We Already Know the Answers

People are being deliberately obtuse about their role in the destruction of human kind as a species.  The media seems unconcerned with the eminent demise of their entire subscription base, corporations ignore the best long term interest of their shareholders (survival) in favor of short term profits and governments are still worried about things like deficits.

Its time for all of us to grow up and stop hiding in the shadow of day to day distractions.  It doesn’t matter if you are white or black, buddhist or atheist, rich or poor... you personally are contributing to the planets demise.  Even by taking the time to write this warning, I’m using resource that could better serve to stop starvation in a third world country or provide resources for cancer research.

There are so many REAL problems in this world, it seems a shame that we keep wasting our time and effort on wars and needless killing.  There are so many real threats to our survival that making up problems like “Who’s god is real?” seems a little disingenuous.

Here’s a truly novel idea.  How about humanity, as a species, set aside all their differences for.... I don’t know... 100 years.  During that 100 years, those who want to work, can work.  WE can find jobs for everyone.  The results of working?  You get a nice place to stay, food all the time and the government will take care of you when you CAN’T work anymore...  Those who choose NOT to work... well, we can’t waste resources on you... so get the hell out.

Sounds an awful lot like idealized communism.  It also sounds an awful lot like idealized capitalism.  And at its roots, it is idealized christianity.  For 10,000 years, humanity has been reaching towards an ideal economy where those who work benefit, and those who don’t fail.  Its no different than what any social species tries for.  In the end, each individual is responsible for their own success or failure, but that success or failure also impacts the species as a whole.

For some reason though, we keep getting bogged down by criminals.  Sinners.  Greedy bankers and lazy lawyers.  For some reason, we can’t get passed the fact that there are some people too stupid to recognize that their own greed works against the system.

Producers will produce, given the opportunity.  If you put work in the average mans hands and tell him it needs to be done, for his own comfort and survival, he will do it.  It doesn’t matter if the economic system is capitalist or socialist or communist.  It doesn’t matter if the government is democratic, totalitarian or fascist.  All that matters is that there NOT be corruption.

Corruption through greed, self-deception, and cowardice are the fundamental issue with ANY form of government and its failure.

Its time to start a form of government that fears to fail its people.  A government founded on the principle that those who are corrupt will not dare to take power.

On the Interconnected Nature of Moral Philosophy

It is time for humanity to stop being passive observers of their own evolution and start being active participants;  Not in the sense of genetic alteration or physical surgery, but in the more practical sense of understanding how our actions affect future generations.

Too often, we hear references to how our grandchildren will have to live with our decisions about natural resources, but somewhere in the rhetoric, we've lost track of the fact that their are other decisions beyond how we drill for petroleum or use CFC's that have the potential to have a huge impact on our children's and grandchildren's lives.

Yes, our economic and industrial policies are going to make a difference in how future generations live, but so are our social, political, educational and entertainment decisions.  What you buy, where you buy it and how you saw it advertised have an impact on the techniques that marketing companies use, what shows executives decide to produce, and what companies thrive in a competitive business environment.

It is a wrong minded approach to life to think that our every day decisions have a narrow range of impact.  Its easy to remain oblivious to the truth behind the gallon of milk you bought that was produced by a farmer who buys dietary supplements for his cows from a company with a record for illegal disposal of toxic waste... or that the hedge fund your retirement is invested in holds stock in a corporation that exploits illegal immigrant workers.

We want to believe that everyone we do business with shares our values.  To a certain point, it's true.  Commercial interests value our money.  Political organizations value our opinion.  Entertainment companies value our free time.  Unfortunately, most of the time that interest fades as soon as they have what they want.

Plagiarizing from myself.

Humanity is destroying itself
There are only two options: co-operation or self destruction
If we hadn’t become so technologically advanced, we would have more time to figure out how to co-operate.
Never before in the history of the earth has so much ability to destroy been held in the hands of so few men.
An accident could exterminate the whole planet.
We aren’t smart enough to anticipate the consequences of our technological capabilities.
If we can learn to co-operate with each other, we can learn to co-operate with the planet and use the resources we have to control our own evolution..
If we can control our own population growth and demand for resources, we have the potential to expand and fill the universe.  If we can’t learn good stewardship of our resources AND tolerance for one another, we will destroy ourselves before we leave this planet.
Every passing day we choose not to be at peace is another day closer to our own extinction.
We need to evolve NOW beyond the concepts of tribalism so that we recognize the world is one community and has one goal... the preservation of the human species.
If we choose NOT to be our best versions of ourselves and work as a group towards that single goal, we are failing EVERY purpose of EVERY good idea in the course of human history.
War is no longer an option.  Greed is no longer an option.  Apathy is no longer an option.
Any person who does not commit to the goal of saving humanity from extinction NOW and allowing all other debts and enmity to be forgotten is an enemy to all mankind and an enemy of whatever God or nature made us.
There is not time to wait to make the choice.  Either we act NOW to save ourselves from destruction or we will extinguish ourselves from the universe.
All men and women who willingly choose to participate in society for the purpose of advancing the spectrum of human knowledge whether they study the structure of the universe or clean the toilets of those who do... these men and women serve humanities greatest good and they must be protected and given the chance to prosper.  They are the priests serving at the temple of knowledge.  They are the only hope for the future.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Thousand Hashtags do not a Movement Make: #OccupyWallStreet #TakeWallStreet

#OccupyWallStreet #TakeWallStreet #USDoR (U.S. Day of Rage) #Sept17 (Date for Protest) #OpESR (Operation Empire State Rebellion) #October2011 #Oct8  #FYW or #FuckyouWashington... the list goes on and on, but the represent one idea:

We DEMAND change.

The problem is that there seem to be dozens of movements aimed at bringing about this change.  That won't get the job done.  A trillion raindrops sprinkled across the beach don't hit with the same force as a tidal wave.  I'm not saying that people should abandon their ideals, or surrender their hard work on a particular issue in favor of someone else's goals, but we need unity to effect change.

I firmly believe that the time has come for a serious and purposeful dialogue among the CITIZENS of this country, but until the various organizations working towards that goal can agree on a forum, we're all just raindrops on the sand.  We can bring about a change in paradigm, but we need to join hands, establish our priorities and move forward as a nation.

We don't have major media working for us, unlike our opposition. We need to take advantage of every opportunity we get to express to others what it is that we stand for. This isn't about communism, marxism, anarchism or capitalism. Its about building a better human race and a better universe for that race to live in.

Whether we are ranting about injustice on the other side of the world or in our own back yards, we need to recognize that we are not just making demands... we are trying to open a dialogue with people who view the world differently than us. Plant small ideas in their minds and let them grow. Don't try to change a persons whole set of beliefs in one go. All that does is make them defensive.

This IS about dialog. Listen as much as you talk and return reasoned responses. Talking points are cute, but they don't prove anything other than that you are better at being brainwashed than your partner in the discussion. Respect them, but show them the errors of their reasoning. If they don't have reasoning to support them, show them the error of unreasoned faith.

And while I'm at it... electronic activism is great, but we need more than bits and bytes to bring about serious movement in politics.  We need to talk to real people around us as who are oblivious to the movements on electronic media.  T.V. news corporations are part of the problem and they aren't going to willing participate in the solution... it might undercut their profit margins.  Word of mouth is the only way to get this message spread to people who don't KNOW to search for #wlsup or #freebrad.

So who has the balls to be more than another #Anonymous protester in the crowd?  Who is going to be this generations spokesman?  Where is the face of the new revolution?  Surely it isn't Guy Fawkes.  Despite his appeal, we don't need to blow up parliament to make our point.  We just need to kick the bums occupying K Street, Congress and Wall Street out of their cushy leather chairs.  No point in wasting a perfectly nice building.

I want to see change happen and I want to see it happen with as little loss of life, property and dignity as possible.  So who do we stand behind?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

S&P Point the Finger

Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act. Key macroeconomic assumptions in the base case scenario include trend real GDP growth of 3% and consumer price inflation near 2% annually over the decade. - S&P Press Release on U.S. Credit Rating Downraded

I think its pretty clear which side of the fence the S&P came down on here with regards to the debt deal.

Full text available here: Standards and Poors Report

The Banks have your money and the Government wants them to keep it.

I've been thinking about how the government handles retirement funds and I've come to the conclusion that the laws "protecting" retirement investments aren't there for the benefits of retirees.

Think about it... most types of retirement funds that provide tax shelters for investment income are okay when the economy is doing okay.  I mean, as long as you don't need the money right now, everything is dandy.  But when things get dicey and the market value of your retirement portfolio looks like its going to tank, you can't get out without handing the government 10% or more off the top in penalties.  Not such a great deal during a recession.

Lots of people have there money invested in IRAs, 401ks and other forms of retirement funds.  They all sounded like a great idea at the time.  You get to stash money away without paying taxes on the returns it earns over time... except a lot of people aren't making money on their accounts right now with the economy in the crapper... and they can't bail out of the markets without giving up 10% off the top.

In effect, Wall Street and the government are working in tandem to insure that investors in the stock market have to think long and hard about whether its worth paying the penalties for an early withdrawal in order to avoid calamity in the market.

Of course, that's only an issue for people who understand how a 401k plan works in the first place.  How many Wal-Mart associates (Wal-Mart's 401k has 1.6 million employees enrolled) do you think have enough of a grasp on economics to realize that the turmoil in the stock market right now could turn that 3% of their paycheck they've been counting on for retirement into pennies on the dollar?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Plan: Phase 1

  1. Withdraw all assets from overseas.  Troops, vehicles and materials down to the metal used in wiring and construction.
  2. Moratorium on all weapons system contracts.
  3. Moratorium on exports... including garbage.
  4. Assign navy to recover “island of trash” in the pacific and begin recycling.
  5. Encourage all citizens to start “Victory Gardens.”
  6. Re-task military contractors to the production of green energy projects: solar, tidal, wind.
  7. Decriminalize possession of street drugs under guidelines similar to alcohol... ie no public intoxication, operating machinery, etc.
  8. Release non-violent drug offenders from prisons.
  9. Create a drug treatment policy based on education rather than fear.
  10. Convicted criminals tasked to landfill reclamation projects: recover recyclable assets from known disposal sites.
  11. Create “open source” committees for addressing problems with infrastructure, especially power, water, sewer, highways and data transmission with guidelines that new infrastructure be easily upgradeable and environmentally sustainable..
  12.  Task military with performing upgrades to infrastructure once an appropriate system is decided upon.
  13. Redefine the concept of a corporate charter so that stewardship of community resources takes priority over short term monetary gain.
  14. Address the banking cartels by reinstating usury laws, eliminating the partial reserve system, instituting a limited currency standard (gold or otherwise).
  15. Re-task NASA to developing resource recovery techniques for near-space objects i,e mining the moon and eventually asteroids.
  16. First temporary moon colony in 10 years.
  17. First temporary colony on Mars in 20 years.
  18. Eliminate farm subsidies for non-producers.
  19. Outlaw terminator seeds.
  20. Encourage organic farming techniques.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies... a work in progress

How does one go about committing a successful treason?  How do you turn two hundred and fifty years of social inertia into a battering ram to tear down injustice?  I’m not Martin Luther King or Gandhi or Thomas Jefferson... I’m just a man who looks at the world and finds himself saying “We are better than this.”

I can’t be the only one smart enough to realize that war is ultimately an exercise in self destruction.  I can’t be the only one to look at government and recognize that the promise of protection offered by politicians is only a short step from the protection offered by robber barons and mafia bosses... give us our cut or bad things might happen.

The purpose of government is to provide to its citizens the things that they could not normally obtain through other means.  It exists to serve the people under its protection.  The very existence of government is predicated by the willingness of individuals to come together and operate for the greater good.  When government no longer serves to protect the interests of its constituents, then it is time for that government to be dismantled and a new government to arise in its place.

That was the reason for the Declaration of Independence.  It wasn’t merely oppressive taxation or the brutal suppression of ideas that brought about revolution... it was the idea that mankind could do better.  Mankind can still do better.  We haven’t created a perfect social construct that addresses all the needs of humanity or asks the deeper questions about what we, as people, need from government.

The current incarnation of law and order in the United States is little better than the oppressive regimes that sent people fleeing into its arms.  It isn’t merely a problem with government... it is endemic to the society itself and it is a function of our biological programming for the survival of  the fittest.  Those without morals are most likely to thrive in any environment.  The belief in things like law, justice and human rights are a handicap to the survival of the moral individual and they are the very weapon with which the immoral beat down the masses.  The unwillingness of good men to do bad things in the name of pragmatism is a liability to their prosperity.  All human institutions require constant vigilance on the part of its participants, and America has failed to be vigilant.

The consequences of our inattentiveness are readily apparent.  Government and commerce have developed an unhealthy relationship.  All men seek security and the almighty dollar represents security to many.  This allows those who have the greatest monetary wealth to use those dollars as a lever of influence against those elected by the people.

Money itself has a sort of gravity.  It swirls and flows through the system, but it forms currents and pools, and inexorably flows towards the places where it has already accumulated.  But monetary wealth is not an indicator of fitness or merit... it is simply an indicator of an entities willingness to exploit those around them.  Profit can only be recognized by exploiting an inequality of trade.  Too often, it is the labor of a lifetime that citizens are trading for a few dollars to fill their guts and put a roof over their head and when they can no longer labor, they find themselves on the fringes of society with no protection.  Clearly there is an inequality of trade when corporations drop nickels and dimes into the pockets of laborers for a days work then charge 1000 times that for the product of their labor.

We have allowed the illusion of security to take the place of the reality.  We build enterprises dedicated to the attainment of money while we ignore the REAL costs of attaining that money in wealth that we cannot replace.  What is the illusion of security worth?

Is the ability of this planet to sustain life worth the cost of “cheap” energy from burning petroleum and coal?  Is wearing a name brand on your T-shirt worth the misery of the 13 year old victim of a sweat shop in South America?  Is it worth $50 for an ounce of perfume because someone told you whale vomit smells better than humanity?

We have built an economy dependent on consumption without regard for consequence.  We have abandoned the role as stewards of the planet and become parasites instead.  We’ll sell you soap that dries your skin and moisturizer to fix the problem and let the packaging they come in swirl into a mountain and never ask the question of ourselves “Is this the right thing to do?”

And you can’t walk away from it anymore.  You can’t escape from the insanity that has infected the global community.  If you find somewhere with clean water and fresh air and try to live their, governments and corporations will come and tell you that you must pay them for the water and the land and the air.  Even rainwater has become corporate property in some areas.

We need a change of paradigm and we need it now.  It is clear that capitalism under the guiding hand of corporations is not a healthy or sustainable means to drive our society.  It is time for something different.