Monday, March 30, 2009

Too Big To Succeed

The problem with the United States, IS the United States. We have, thanks to Article I Section 10 of the Constitution, an economy that is Too Big to Succeed, when we really need to have 50 economies that are too small to fail.

By preventing individual states from forming their own economy, from coining their own money, from protecting their own industry with tariffs and armies, most states end up physically owned by outsiders- mortgages held by interstate banks, international corporations owned thousands of acres of land, mining and energy companies being given sweetheart deals in Washington to tear down our mountains and dig up our natural resources, and for what? So that we can be taxed and pay usury until we're all in poverty?

The federalist experiment has failed. The Too Big To Succeed financial industry has killed it. Time to try something new.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Harem of Jesus Christ

This note on my facebook page led to a discussion with a non-Catholic relative in which I came up with an interesting allegory.

If, as we Catholics are taught, the Church is the "Bride of Christ", then has schism produced, in effect, a Harem of Christ? And just what does Jesus think of his 30,000 Bickering Brides, all of whom can't seem to stand each other's presence?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Subhuman Monser Evolution

As any real evolutionist or genetic scientist can tell you, it only takes one generation for a new mutation to show up. Encourage that new mutation to survive, reward it economically, and the next generation will have more. Seven or eight generations in, and that mutation may just threaten the rest of the population.

We've got such a mutation today in the United States- the transnational capitalist. A subspecies of homosapiens that is born without conscience or virtue. There is nothing good to say about the transnational capitalist- he'll sell his own relatives for a $.01 increase in share price. He'll let people die rather than see his assets fall in value.

I say it's time to exile these monsters- let some other country deal with them and the carriers that are their totally unproductive family.

Proposed Amendment 28

Section 1. That the following language be stricken as unworkable from the US Constitution, Article I, Section 10: "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress."

Section 2. And be replaced with "All States, for the protection of their citizens, may reject any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation, May reject Letters of Marque and Reprisal, issued by Congress. All States may coin local money, emit bills of credit, create local tender for payment of local debt, and pass Bills of Attainer.

All States, for protection of their local industry, may lay imports, duties, and tariffs, as long as the net produce of such is remitted to the Treasury of the United States. Only State Legislatures shall have control over such laws."

Monday, March 23, 2009

On the localization of the economy

I've heard it recently argued against localization that the Constitution of the United States reserves the right to coin money and make treaties. Turns out that is only partially right, but in the next few days, I'm going to be writing a proposed Amendment to modify Article I, Section 8 to read, in it's first line, Congress and the State Legislatures, and to strike Section 9 entirely.

The reason for this? USA, inc., like AIG and many of the large banks now taking TARP funds, has become Too Big to Succeed. And what do we do in this country when a monopoly becomes too big to succeed? The same thing we did with AT&T- Regionalize it.

The grand experiment of free trade between states has failed. It's time to replace it with something that makes more sense.

Friday, March 20, 2009

If you haven't done it yet

Here's my advice from my admittedly autistic/catholic viewpoint and obsessive thinking on the state of the economy in the United States and the world. Just a few line items that need to be done *THIS YEAR* if you want to survive this mess:

1. Change Banks- IF your bank has been bought out, takes TARP money, and has it's management in a different city or state than you are, it's time to look local, pull your deposits out, and change banks. I'm about 20% done with my research for doing this myself, and in the mean time, I'm trying to keep my balances as LOW as possible, based on the idea that if the FDIC has overreached, accounts with balances under $10,000 are likely to be protected even if the United States defaults on it's debt. But you're still better off if your bank management is in the same local police jurisdiction as you are.
2. Plant a garden- preferably a permaculture garden using self-seeding or perennial native plants. I've started my list, which can be found on the Survivalist's Resource News Daily board, of course, this list is for the Tualatin Valley in Oregon, your mileage may vary.
3. Follow the Mormon idea of 2 year's worth of stored canned or dried food. This one should be obvious.
4. Rain Barrels, and the largest hot water heater you can afford. Ideally, take the number of people in your family, and multiply by 730, this should be the amount of water storage, in gallons, that you have available at home. With rationing, that's 2 years worth, without, five or six months.
5. Finally, you've got about 3 months to buy those durables before the rising prices on production side hit retail. Don't forget such fun items as an RV capable of sleeping your whole family (just in case you need to bug out, and for camping/hunting/gathering vacations), electric vehicles (including those little $300 scooters), and DC generator/motor based items that you can get good use out of now.

A little preparedness now, will get you through the wild ride the next 10 years is going to be. After which I hope we have a much more local, much more self-sufficient economy- not just in the United States, but everywhere.

Mexico Gives Oregon a Gift

Here in Oregon, over the last several years, we've been seeing increasing food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition (albeit an odd form, because fat as a foodstuff is cheap on a calorie/dollar basis- but vitamin B is incredibly expensive for a state with a large microbrewery industry).

Along comes Mexico with their Protectionism. And immediately, the free traitors at The Oregonian and nationally decry the tariffs placed on agricultural goods.

Does anybody else see a MAJOR opportunity here for the food bank to buy up, at cost, food to replenish the shelves hit hard by increased usage of food banks and soup kitchens nationwide?

Thank you Mexico, for your protectionism. Maybe now we can finally get started on actually feeding our own people before we send food overseas.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bigotry against the Brilliant

This article is a great example of what I call Bigotry Against the Brilliant. Mistakes were made on both sides in the management of Josh in this article- he's clearly got some mental problem on the AC spectrum, including both delusions of grandeur and inadequacy, or else he wouldn't write code the way he does.

But instead of dealing with him in an appropriate way- limiting his involvement on projects to black box classes with well defined inputs and outputs- they first "relied on him as a crutch" to turn out code at the highly impressive rate incompetent managers like, THEN turned around and punished him for "not being a team player". They took his inability to document as a positive, then turned around and used it as a negative instead of, gasp, giving him a project manager who can do their job of pre-documenting the requirements.

And then they just let this brilliant programmer be insulted by a new manager and "disappear"- causing thousands of hours of code rewrite by less brilliant minds.

NOBODY in this "Quirky Developer story" treated Josh like a human being. And what they probably don't realize is that the whole situation was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act- which requires reasonable accommodation for such disabilities.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shutting Detroit Down

The middle class needs to rescue the rich? Not according to this American, John Rich. In the real world they're Shutting Detroit Down, but in New York they're living it up.

I completely agree. The place that needs deflation the most is New York City, not a farm auctioning off land to survive.

Well, that didn't last long

Just got thrown off of Economic Populist for pointing out the sad truth that Ponzi Schemes are Profitable, which I would have thought was obvious....

Billionaires are just people too

Except when it comes to Michael Bloomberg and the Kingston Memory Corporation guys anyway- Forbes list of Tech Billionaires lost a collective $81.5 billion; a drop in the bucket in comparison to the financial industry millionaires who lost a whopping $1.4 Trillion. NEVER let a man in a suit tell you what to invest in.....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We may be nearing the bottom

It's all over the economic blogs this morning Retail sales are stabilizing, we may be nearing the bottom of the start of the depression, at least as far as deflation is concerned. Time to take your money out of whatever investments it's in and invest in REAL stock- tangible durables. The prices you're going to see in the next couple of months on tangible durables will NOT be repeated in your adult lifetime- if you're under 10 years old you might stand a chance of seeing these prices, adjusted for inflation, again, depending on how bad Obama screws up. If he does as well as FDR did, though, with his New Deal, you won't see these prices again until at least 2079; so now's the time to buy, buy, buy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Secular Humanist Case for Seamless Garment of Life

As many of you know, I'm a strong supporter of the seamless garment of life. I came to this position through my religion, but now I see a totally secular, anti-eugenics argument for such a position.

First, when does life begin? SG argument is at conception, but they don't tell you why. Genetics, however, DOES tell us why- for any bisexual species, the female egg and the male sperm have RNA only- half the chromosomes needed for the species. It's the second they come together, combine than RNA then start duplicating the resulting DNA, that the "blueprints" for that individual are created. If you're going to separate out individual lifespans at all, then conception is the logical choice.

Second, even secular humanists believe that taking a human life is wrong in some instances; aside from the obvious duty of government to protect society (an exception even the Roman Catholic Church taught until the mid 1980s). I argue therefore that technology has accomplished today what was only a dream in previous centuries- the ability to construct, out of welded steel, an escape-proof cell with only a food slot in the top, a drain in the bottom, and a shower that always runs. With such a cell, a far more horrific "life sentence" awaits the person who endangers human life or society- one where the person can be kept on display and shown to school children as a deterrent, for far cheaper than the endless appeals that go with a death penalty verdict.

Third, unjust war. War is sometimes a requirement- but even a secular humanist can see Augustine's logic of war of defense only. OK, maybe not the weaponry part- but certainly the "no revenge, no invasion" part.

Fourth Euthanasia- there is value in all human life, even suffering human life can teach us compassion. There's a reason why many disabled people end up heroes in their own communities.

Fifth, Eugenics- this being the real basis behind wanting to keep abortion legal, the hope that one day we will be able to filter children to be born who are "perfect" to some degree. This, to me, is one of those places where the knowledge of science outstrips the wisdom- where what is possible, and what should be, are different. Putting aside for the moment that we can't read the human genome enough to predict anything at all about how a fetus in the womb will turn out. Mutations, evolution teaches us, have value in helping the species survive. Do we really want to trust that natural method to imperfect human beings to judge who should, and who should not, survive?

Sixth, Economics- they claim the world is already overpopulated. Well, in reality, we raised enough food to feed 7.5 billion people last year- but about 1/7th of that rotted away unable to find a buyer. This tells me that the final lynch pin shouldn't be killing off the next generation- it should be using what we've learned in computer science about resource allocation to make sure even the poorest societies can survive. And that includes the million children a year killed in the United States because "their parents can't take care of them".

So there you have it- six completely secular reasons, without appeal to faith, to be pro-life; and not just Republican "protect human life between conception and natural birth" pro-life, but Catholic "protect human life from conception until natural death" pro-life.

The economic use of facebook

A huge part of my problem as an autistic is networking. I'm just not very good at it. Ok, I stink rotten eggs at it. But recently, a relative of an old girlfriend and an old classmate asked me to join facebook. I've been avoiding those social networking sites for ages- seems to me it's the preppy thin social veneer to a section of my life that is seriously odd and deep. And thus, I've avoided it as a waste of time.

I shouldn't have. Facebook has enough of my past acquaintances on there to do what linkedin, plaxo, and classmates promised to do but failed to do- build me a social network easily and quickly, allowing me to spam my resume far and wide while rekindling old friendships.

It occurs to me, that this would be an excellent way to take advantage of all of those multi-level marketing schemes that I fail at because I can't build networks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Morning Headline, new Reitrement Investment Scheme

As I was reading my morning paper, this headline jumped off the front page at me: Outside Buyers Drawn to Detroit's Foreclosed Homes, which pointed out that nationwide, many foreclosed homes are on the market for less than $10,000; some for as little as $1.

It occurs to me that even if these houses were investment properties, they had renters at one time.

The practical Catholic Gentleman, or even the Knights of Columbus as a whole, could make money off of this in a very charitable way, by following the Habitat for Humanity model.

Buy a house at foreclosure prices. Find the family who lived there last. Offer to sell it back to them at twice the foreclosure price, 0% interest, payments limited to 30% of income and adjustable based on job changes, in return for sweat equity of 460 hours a year (basically, Saturdays) to improve the property.

Lather, rinse, repeat.....

Friday, March 6, 2009

Protectionism isn't wrong

Just found this great piece on John Ratzenberger, who does a show called "Made in America" on the Travel Channel.

Ratzenberger: Protectionist is not a bad word. You have a family with a couple of kids running around--you protect your family. You love the kids on the street and you think the world of the other families and you think they're great people. But I'm not going to sacrifice my own children because it benefits somebody else on the street. I protect my family. We protect our neighborhood. Our neighborhoods protect our cities. On and on, stretch that out: we should protect our country.

THIS IS SUBSIDARITY folks- in it's most pure form. You don't sacrifice your own for other people, you don't mind giving but you don't hurt your own to do it. The WTO needs to listen up- the macroeconomists need to listen up. Efficiency isn't everything, subsidarity counts too.

Why the meltdown of the DOW doesn't matter

Yes, all of you baby boomers out there are feeling the pain, my own parents included. The meltdown of the stock market after the crash of the financial industry has likely left your retirement in shambles at best. Who knew, after all that campaigning against Social Security, that you were going to need to depend upon it?

Having said that, your pain doesn't matter in the long run. It's a symptom, not the problem. The problem is the systemic failure of the free market to control fraud. If you were invested in a non-market, religious based retirement system like the Knights of Columbus annuity, you'd find that you wouldn't have the losses that you do in the open market.

Subsidarity and Solidarity- these are the watchwords of the Catholic Church's preferred economic system, and these are the watchwords of the Knights of Columbus in what they invest in. That is also where we should be headed. Manufacturing and service should be done at the lowest level of complexity possible, that's Subsidarity. Your immediate neighbor is your brother in the fight against international centralization- and you should stand in Solidarity with him.

Only with these, can we rebuild our world. The time of centralized markets like the NYSE and the DJIA is over. The time of localization has come. Want a real retirement? Find a need in your local community and fill it- and you'll never need to retire.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fraud + Usury = Heresy

That title is a triple joke, that only somebody with my unique background of learning to program on a TI-99/4A, having an autistic obsession about theology & history, and being Roman Catholic would understand. So here's a bit of an explanation: In TI-99/4A Basic, the plus sign was overloaded to be a logical or. In the middle ages when the Church was who granted the Sovereign the right to rule, teaching of Heresy threatened that right, and could not be tolerated within the system, so the Inquisition was born to tear heresy out of society. And finally, today, when power comes from worship of money, it has become terribly apparent since September 2008 that Fraud and Usury are heretical devices to a free and open market.

Let me first define my terms with some examples:
1. Selling something you don't personally own is a form of fraud, unless you're being paid an hourly wage to do it. Yes, this means both selling on commissions alone is fraud, as is short selling (because you're selling something you don't own yet).
2. Selling something that you've lied about the quality of is fraud. This includes everything from advertising to selling CDS bundles made up of bad loans.
3. Paying somebody else to lie for you is fraud- on both your part and the party who is lying for you (credit rating agencies, anybody?)
4. Continuing to enforce a contract past the other party backing out of the contract is fraud (Time Share Industry?)
5. Charging a person in debt payments of more than 30% of their income is usury, as is charging them an interest rate that they can never pay down the principle with only 30% of their income in payments.
6. Loaning out or paying out more than what has been given you to loan out, is fraud. (Fractional Reserve Banking, Ponzi schemes, business run on credit instead of on profit).

Got the picture yet? Fraud and Usury are methods by which the rich gain power over the poor. They are the gunshots in the pistols of class warfare. But worse than that, they tear at the fabric of the free market itself, reducing the ability of other people to consume in far larger amounts than it increases the ability of the con artist to consume. These are the subjects of wealth destruction. And I for one, call for a new Inquisition to rid our society of such evil elements. A televised Inquisition! Let's see the bankers put under the pendulum until their families pay back their victims! Let's see the short sellers who throw people out of work with their evil market manipulation beheaded with their heads put on pikes on the trading floors as a warning to others. My religion may normally forbid capital punishment- except in cases where all of society is in danger from this person continuing to live- so let's give them an out: If they confess, they can be sold into indentured servitude working at a fast food restaurant until they pay back their billions.

But until this system can distinguish sin from virtue, can distinguish evil from good, and can punish evil, I see no reason to continue to support it. I have become an atheist- an atheist from Mammon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Habitat for Humanity Solution

May I humbly suggest that from here on out, bankruptcy courts use the Habitat For Humanity Mortgage Contract as the default writedown of any subprime loan. This is based on the fact that Habitat for Humanity works with subprime lenders, and has a historical 1% default rate (which no other bank can match).

The secret of their success? 0% interest. 500 hours required sweat equity in building the home. Payments limited to 30% of take-home income, no more.

Any takers in the big failing banks?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why I don't trust the "free and open" stock markets

It's been said plenty of times- things that are too good to be true, usually are.
This has certainly been true of the Wall Street Bailouts, and the pitifully stupid "blame the government regulators" excuses being put forth for banks in the United States being 4000% overleveraged, and banks in certain European countries being up to 20000% overleveraged.

When are we going to wake up and smell the coffee- banks, bankers, insurance companies, stock brokers, bond brokers, traders in every market- these people are parasites, taking more money away from corporate financing than they ever give back.

JUST SAY NO to your entrepreneur business getting venture capital. If you can't make a living on your own production, if you can't expand your business out of current profits, maybe you shouldn't be in business AT ALL. Sign up with one of these criminals, and I'll guarantee your business will either be a failure, or will morph into a short term, shortsighted mess. It will NOT be the type of business people can count on to be around past the next market downturn- because the real effect of the markets is to destroy wealth, not create it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Creative Destruction

It's time, I think, to consider Creative Destruction as a response to failed monetary system. This doesn't need to be violent- but it might turn into violence as 7 million New Yorkers realize that their personal real estate bubble is unsustainable without massive input from the hidden slave system they've got the rest of the country under.

Here's the way out- local fiat currency. Each village, each town, each county, each city, and each state, every government below the federal level, needs to take the Wörgl Miracle Method and manage their own microeconomy. Start by printing expiring Freigeld from your local chambers of commerce. If you have a locally owned bank willing to take control over currency exchange and savings taxation, do so, otherwise, your chamber might need to take over, or you can turn it over to the Farmer's Market. Wooden money is what Beaverton Farmer's market does, in $5/$10/$20 amounts, and they even run a $2 ATM in a booth at the market for currency exchange.

That's the way to go folks- just say no to national banks and national money- go local!
Creative Commons License
Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
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