Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Roofer's Card, It Covers everything

Very simple - I need a new roof. It has been 20 years and six months since my last twenty year shingles were installed. Straightforward, no?

Despite the current economic situation of unemployment, I had trouble finding someone to do the work. Or at least I had trouble finding an honest person to do the work.

All of the salespeople insisted on trying to claim my replacement on my home-owner's insurance for me as hail damage, which it is not.

I have no idea whether they get to charge more that way or they are just being helpful.

I also don't know whether their understanding of the role of insurance as a wager on future events is faulty; or whether their generation has a different concept of truth and honesty, seeing the evil insurance company as a deep pocket to cover every routine need the way they see medical insurance.

I just know that I see claiming against insurance something that is routine maintenance as dishonest. I bought insurance to cover me against unforeseen disaster, and using it so will ultimately keep my price down. A Karmic balance, don't you see?

But now I notice the hail-damage contractor's roofing signs on my neighbor's lawns. Somehow, my opinion of my neighbors has diminished a little.

Wollery's Conundrum

It seems to me ... the closer you are to the [US] Constitution, the farther right you are considered to be;
The farther you are away from the Constitution, the farther left you appear to be.
Why isn't the Constitution in the middle and people on both sides moving either toward it or away from it?
Chuck Wollery ........................

Perhaps Chuck, it is because the division is not just a straight line from left-to-right.
The Constitution is a libertarian Document existing close to the apex of the world's smallest political quiz, guaranteeing our freedom from the all-powerful government to which both parties wish to enslave us.

But you are forgiven, for the media does frame the discussion as you describe it. The media does this as an ad hominem argument demonizing their immediate opponent and keeping us from recognizing the real problem. It is a tactic straight out of Rules for Radicals.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Monopoly on Monopoly™ Money

Once upon a time in a land that was not far away...

Almost anyone could make a dollar bill. That's right. All the bill was was a certificate of ownership, a receipt. You still get them now - the difference is that with the common green Federal Reserve Note so common, no one remembers that we used to pass the receipts back and forth. The dollar was not the green piece of paper. The dollar was a round piece of 90% silver weighing 0.77344 troy ounces. Under the US Constitution, the US Congress had the sole power to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin... But the certificates, that was a different story. States, banks, companies, cities could and did circulate specie that could be exchanged for lawful money. It wasn't until the Progressive Government became greedy, coveted it all and formed the Federal Reserve, created Income Taxes, and taxed competing currencies, that the government felt the need to channel all our wealth through their hands in Washington.

Just prior to the Great Depression of 1929, there was somewhat of a standardization of currencies with new smaller bills - the ones that we use today. There were six major types, three of which survived the Depression. The ones that didn't make it were:

The Gold Certificate. Circulated in ten and twenty dollar certificates, each one represented a coin of gold of its nominal value. Private ownership of Gold and Gold Certificates became illegal under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932.¹

There were two types of National Currency:

The National Bank National Currency, backed by Treasury Securities that your local National Bank of Hometown had purchased with "lawful money" from and then deposited with the Federal Government's Treasury Department in an amount equal to the currency in circulation. This effectively doubled the amount of money in existence. The following quote from a publication of the Friesian School.
If the problem during the Great Depression had really been that there was "not enough money," then it would be surprising that National Bank Notes were suppressed in 1935 -- the bonds that had been issued to secure banknotes were all discontinued. If, however, it is understood that the political answer to the Great Depression was that only the federal government can be trusted with power over the economy, banking, and money, then the move is self-evident. (emphasis theirs)

And The Federal Reserve Bank National Currency, issued by the Federal Reserve bank, this bill was backed by Treasury Securities similarly purchased from and deposited with the Treasury Department. Aside from no longer differentiating the currency and note, this is not materially different than recent Federal Reserve Bank actions. These continued to be in marginal circulation until 1945.

The ones that survived until more recent times were:

As with the Gold Certificate,The Silver Certificate. the Silver Certificate is a receipt for metal on deposit with the Treasury Department. No more certificates could be in circulation than silver coin in circulation and in reserve. It was a natural limit on inflation. C. Douglas Dillon, Lyndon Johnson's Secretary of the Treasury ordered silver coin to cease being minted in March of 1964,several months after President Kennedy's assassination. The bills ceased being redeemed for silver in 1968.²

The United States Note,
the Federal Government's own fiat currency. Originally issued under President Lincoln, they became bound to an existing quantity in 1878 that continued until 1990s, although in the later years they existed in captivity and were not issued out to the banks and public.

And finally, the monopoly on Monopoly™ money. The only currency now in circulation. The one that (with the United States Note aforementioned) purports itself to be a dollar and not redeemable for one, the Federal Reserve Note. Between the Federal Government borrowing money to back them and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing printing them to belong to and be issued by the Federal Reserve Bank, a quasi-independent corporation, the current currency is a Gordian Knot of evasion of responsibility while retaining the benefit of wealth. Unfortunately, it is ultimately redeemable only in itself.

So was this one:

The advantage of having multiple currencies, was the same as the advantage of the backed currencies, stability to prevent runaway inflation, while still allowing the advantage of the fiat currencies, liquidity (ready availability without hoarding) to match the real wealth of the Gross National Product.

Having a monopoly of merely one currency, and a non-government fiat one at that, is that there is no balance on their checks. There is nothing to moderate the ease of debasing the currency. We will all be the poorer for it.

¹’² Gold nominally backed the US currency internationally under the Bretton Woods system until 1971, when President Nixon ceased honoring a run on the US gold reserves by Charles de Gaulle when the pegged price was less than the international price.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Please, Sir, May I Have Some More.

A comment to Mathew's question on another post. I thought it belonged up front and not in the back.

Why do I care so much about money? It is a marker for the worth of my life. I traded some of the limited time out of my life and my labors to someone else. In return they gave me this that I might regain that time and service from yet another person. The Government then comes and says I owe some of my life (in fact more than I am allowed to keep) to them that the politicians might use it to curry favor and buy votes with. There is a word for my labor and life belonging to someone else.

That word is slavery.

Today's illustration is a one hundred dollar United States Note, a fiat currency from before the Federal Reserve had a monopoly on Monopoly™ money.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Is Truth True Before the New Yorks Times Declares It?

If a tree falls in the woods

There is a hierarchy to reading the New York Times - A-1, far-right column and above the fold. That is when a story is important. The New York Times has just discovered that the interest on the National Debt is greater than the stimulus package in size, and that we are in trouble just on current spending. It is A-1, above the fold. Does this mean that it is just now true? Or was it true when the doomsayer Glenn Beck warned us about it?

And now CNBC announces that the "real unemployment" is is 17.5%. If you listen to conservative talk radio, you have known that for a while. Now, finally, the liberal side is beginning to acknowledge what the other side has been saying. What does that tell you - about the nature of truth? And about the nature of those who bring news to you?

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Favorite Quote: From the Seventh Seal

Spoken by the knight Antonius Block's squire Jöns:

"This is squire Jöns. He grins at Death, mocks the Lord, laughs at himself and leers at the girls. His world is a Jöns-world, believable only to himself, ridiculous to all including himself, meaningless to Heaven and of no interest to Hell."¹

And my other favorite quote, also from squire Jöns:

My little stomach is my world, my head is my eternity, and my hands,
two wonderful suns. My legs are time's damned pendulums, and my dirty feet
are two splendid starting points for my philosophy. Everything is worth
precisely as much as a belch, the only difference being that a belch
is more satisfying.

¹This is the translation from the book Four Screenplays of Ingmar Bergman; Simon & Schuster; ISBN-10: 0-6716-7833-7
as opposed to the book the Films of Ingrid Bergman; Citadel; ISBN 0-8065-0480-3 which an old girlfriend once bought me by mistake.

Stupidity? Or Arrogance?

While trying to pass a complete revision of everything we have ever thought of as healthcare and emphatically denying that care would ever be rationed, and despite decades of pushing routine test,our imperial Federal Government's U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (a panel, not called a death panel even though some people will die because of their decision) has revised downward standards of recommended care for early detection of breast cancer. Not content yesterday's demeaning our healthcare, today they did the same thing with cervical cancer and pap smears. Forgetting for a moment the very real human cost of these changes, are they politically stupid? Their goal is to change our healthcare system to one of equality. Where no ones care is allowed to be any better than anyone else's (save politicians and their families). A world where all care is equally mediocre. Lowest common denominator.

Shouldn't the least they do be hide their intentions? One has to wonder, did these panels anticipate the outcue*? Did they release this information earlier than they were supposed to?

Or maybe the current climate in Washington is absolute confidence that they will have their way with us no matter what we try to do about it.

*An announcer who steps on (talks over or cuts off) the last second or two of the preceding show or commercial is said to anticipate the outcue.


Ça Va Sans Dire.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On Matthew and Money

Matthew Sickinson said in response to a previous post...
Why do you care so much about MONEY?

Because money is life. It is moving part of your life of today to prepare for your future, and paying for the shortfalls of your life in the past. It is a measure and means of responsibility.
You and Marianne and apparently your generation are still relying on your parents to carry you after more than a quarter of your way through your life. Your parents and grandparents had been on their own eight years by this point in their lives.
And now your generation are expecting an entitlement to free medical care to join your free food and lodging. Whatever you get will be taken (ultimately by force or the threat of) from others. The health care that will be given to the young who have chosen to spend their money on Flat Screen Super TVs, Wii games, stupid car modifications, cigarettes, booze, and drugs rather than pay for their own way must be taken from those who have outlived their savings and health. This new health plan is a death sentence for little old ladies like my mother in order to plow under the wild oats sown by those who will not care for themselves.

Whether one is a literal believer in the Divinity and stories of the Bible; Whether you believe it was divinely inspired or written by man to ensure civilized living; there is much wisdom in the precepts and messages of it. It is a plan for living and interacting with others. It is more than mere coincidence that one of most notable passages on charity, I Corinthians Chapter 13, includes as part of that verse 11: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (KJV). It is time.

Redistribution of Wealth? No.

Redistribution of Wealth? No. Redistribution of your income. Wealth becomes ever more concentrated.
Think of an old movie of the siege of a castle. Think of the guys climbing the ladders to get up to the top. What this so-called redistribution of wealth does is push those guys off the ladder. The closer you get to the top, the more likely you are to be pushed off.

Those truly wealthy people. Those hereditary families of wealth: Astor, DuPont, Kennedy, Rockefeller, Rothschild, and Vanderbilt will be just as wealthy, if not more wealthy than they are now. Their place in the world is even more cemented in place without being challenged by upstarts like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Donald Trump.

I used to try to explain to my union buddies that the people we were working for did not have big piles of money that they would swim in like Scrooge McDuck. No, the people we worked for had customers that they worked for who were trying to hard to get work from customers that they could work for an bring in that money that would ultimately work its way down to us. Oh, trickle down? That's been discredited by ... people who have something to gain be making us all dependent.
But I have seen a place with money like that - piled high and deep. And it is not the Federal Government. The Federal Reserve Bank, a private corporation that pays no taxes though it has all the money in the world (figuratively, not literally - though close)

Ok, all you cretins with Communist desires, all you who think that your place in life will improve by taxing the rich to bring their wealth home to you; go where the wealth really is. Storm that Bastille where the money really is coagulating and not circulating to you. Aim your confiscatory taxation at the Federal Reserve Bank. Instead of bailing out Bear-Stearnes, they should be bailing us out.

But no, our Congress is trying to squeeze the last drops of blood out of us, after all we are the rich - nurses, school teachers, electricians. Not Kennedys, Vanderbilts, and Rothschilds.

Tax the rich, feed the poor till there are no rich no more. (apologies to Ten Years After) I cannot tell you how many people missed the irony.

Everything Not Prohibited Is Mandatory

"Everything Not Prohibited Is Mandatory" read a sign over the entrance to an ant colony in the Sword in the Stone, part of T.H. White's book The Once and Future King.

It could easily refer to the medical reform bills bulldozing their ways through Congress right now. But I would add one more caveat: "and both prohibited and mandatory will remit money to the Government."

We'll be sorry.

Today's illustration is a memory from my childhood. I went to hear Terence Hanbury White speak at the University of Pennsylvania several months before he died.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Little Green Footballs Survey on Terrorist Trials

Little Green Footballs is running a poll on our feelings about bringing five of the main Guantanamo inmates to New York for trial. Please vote in their survey.

The Eco-Communists Say Capitalism is Bad for the Environment

The Eco-Communists say Capitalism is bad for the environment, and the "free" press parrots that impression. As Neal Boortz says, the Green movement is where yesterday's Communists have gone to roost.

But what is the truth? The horrible Capitalist disaster of Three Mile Island was merely a fraction of a fraction of a per cent of the damage done Chernobyl. Why? Because at every stage self-interest led to better quality control, from design through construction to operation. But Jane Fonda did China Syndrome about that time and the public put its blinders on and stampeded.

Today this country has the cleanest environment since in 150 years, but what of the Communist world? What is the future of the world under our new order? Here is the concern of the Communist government of the People's Republic of China. I think you will find this photo-essay on the concern of a benevolent all powerful government enlightening, if not shocking.

There Are No Death Panels - There Don't Need To Be

Those people who for what ever reason are pushing for the Government to take over the healthcare system of the United states typically emphatically state that "there are no death panels in the bill". As if only explicitly declared and named decisions will limit your care.
Some of the withholding of treatment will come by economic rationing - "We have run out of money".
And some will come by physical rationing - "We don't have a doctor available (in your area or not) until April next".
And some will come by treatment review - "Prostate Cancer is a slow mover, something else will get you first".
The bill isn't even finalized yet and treatment review is already starting. The new guidelines were issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and push raising the starting age for routine mammograms from 40 to 50; and additionally, they question the effectiveness and need for digital self-examination. Most of the women I have known with breast cancer have been under 50. Anecdotal, I know, but that is just the way it is.

The proponents of the Government takeover of the US medical system retort with "these decisions are already made by insurance companies". Yes, BUT, at this, I can still (and do) change insurance companies to find a better one. That is a little more difficult with governments.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hypocritic Oath

If the president and the press are going to give Major Nidal Malik Hasan a pass on his breach of his oath swearing loyalty to the United States and its Constitution, because he is a Musxxxx - almost wrote it and brought a fatwah on myself - the least they can do is fault him for his breach of the Hippocratic oath, i.e. first do no harm. Maybe the AMA has more balls than the USA.

Currency Carry Trade

I have and a friend who some years ago spent a year and a half and a day in Saudi Arabia. The time is important because it made his income tax free. For the first few years I knew him (and perhaps to this day) he made his living essentially by changing that money back and forth into other currencies (generally the Swiss Franc) picking up a little gain on the changes in the relative values of the two currencies. Apparently he did it pretty well, because he rarely sought employment and lived relatively well.

Currency carry trade is a lot like that but on steroids, and involves the arbitrage on the interest differences as well as the relative value. One borrows money somewhere where the interest is arbitrarily low (like the US right now) and parks the money in bonds somewhere else with a higher return. In some cases, like George Soros, where your wealth and credit support it you even short the money - you invest money you don't even have yet!

Aside from the magnitude of the process (read too big to fail), there are examples with common sense failures in our ordinary experiences with this. I have two examples from the period of time I was in college many years ago. It was a time before computers when the velocity of money was not the speed-of-light, and we mere mortals could play too. It was just as illegal then, but time worked for us not against us. And we were too little not to fail.

In the first mea culpa, I lived in Pennsylvania, and went to college in Illinois. I had bank accounts in both states. When I didn't have enough money in Illinois, I drew upon my account in Pennsylvania and deposited it in my bank in Illinois. Ultimately, my money in Pennsylvania from my Summer job and allowances were running down, I did what the big boys do now ... I wrote a check on the Illinois bank and mailed to Pennsylvania. And then I could deposit a Pennsylvania check into my Illinois bank to cover it. I managed to do this for quite a while. Eventually It all fell apart. I was lucky, the small town bank in Illinois let me have a loan and I paid it off by working a small job in a woodworking factory before they caught on. But it didn't have to turn out well ... I quit while I was still ahead. Beats prison.

My other mea culpa is a he-a culpa. My college classmate Alan had a small business going buying old cars at auto auctions with a bad check. Tow-barring them home two at a time, cleaning them up and taking them to another auto auction where he would sell them at a profit, cover his check and pull a little out for himself. This one did not come to a good end though. One snowy night while coming home, he skidded on ice and wrapped his investment around a tree. Alan had to go hat-in-hand to his father who ran a savings-and-loan in a nearby small town to bail him out.

Right now, there are many 'Alans' and many 'me's. It is said they are too big to fail. I think the full statement has been truncated. They are too big to fail without taking the current currency system down with them, just as Alan and I took our wealth down with us. Morgan Stanley, and George Soros have the United States Government as their daddies to bail them out, but who it the United States Government's Daddy? I guess it will need to get a part-time job.

As my daughter would say "No good can come from this."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Have we lost our bleeping minds?

The decision has been made to try plotter mastermind (sic) Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in New York City in an ordinary criminal trial. Are they friggin' nuts? We are going to have a media circus to overshadow the OJ Simpson show trial. Add to that the Billions of dollars in petro-money available to beat or society to death with our own rules of compassion and law. And as icing on the cake, there is probably no harder place to secure in our country than New York City, unless it is the backwoods of Carroll County, Illinois. And that is where we are going to move the rest of them.

Funny about that. Carroll County is in the Northwest corner of Illinois, about two hours west of O'hare Airport.
Many years ago, when I lived in Carroll County, the United States Army kept their entire nuclear arsenal at the Savanna Ordnance Depot there. It was secure by remoteness, but it was more secure by secrecy. In the three years I lived there, I knew there was an ammunition plant, but knew nothing about the nuclear presence. Now it has been gone for more than ten years.

Now the presence of an Interstate to Chicago nearby has shrunk the distance (or at least the time) from Chicago by half. And thanks to MSNBC, and the Governor of Illinois, there is no secret about the future use of a local (underused) prison. Thomson Correctional Institute in Thomson, Illinois is a minimal security prison. Normally prison guards watch from towers looking into the prison grounds. But this time the guards will need to watch outside as well, for there is little to stop an assault on a prison this isolated, yet so near the metropolitan areas of Saint Louis, Chicago, Madison, and Minneapolis. That's right, a few hours in any direction and they could meld into massive populations of sympathetic supporters. It is the stuff that bad movies are made of. But is that so far-fetched in this day and age?

Every day we get a new surprise of just how stupid we have become as a nation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's a Done Deal

Socialized medicine has passed the House of Representatives. Now the House and Senate hammer out their differences in secret and give us what they want to give us.

And the Republicans? They are proudly proclaiming that they managed to slip in two amendments that prohibit Government funding of Abortions. Aside from the obvious detail that they will be slipped back out in the backroom negotiations - no, that's the wrong word. There is no negotiating going on. There is just wheeling and dealing, carving up the spoils. The real tragedy is that it passed at all. The Government should have its sticky fingers out of ALL MEDICINE, not just abortions. If you had worried as much about that, you could have had your cake and eat it too. No government funded medicine, therefore no government funded abortions. Sometimes I think there are only the pro-abortion Progressives and the anti-abortion Progressives and there are no Republicans up there in Washington at all.

This Republic was the United States of America, not the Peoples Republic of America. There was a reason this is not a democracy. The founders of this country loathed democracy as tyranny of the masses.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Remember When?

Remember when unemployment was 5.2% and the media gave George W. Bush hell for it even thought that was the same number they praised Bill Clinton for getting unemployment down to?

The "official" number is now 10.2%, and that only counts the ones on unemployment insurance, not the ones who have been on it as long as they are allowed to nor the ones not looking for work, nor the hundreds of thousands of small business owners who, because they were not employees, are not eligible for unemployment.

I didn't think so. The media is not reminding anyone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Still Don't Believe in Healthcare Rationing?

Have you been able to get your H1N1 shot yet? Why not?

It's available. In fact, some druggists complain that it is just sitting on their shelves. Unfortunately, it can only be given to people in certain Government-approved groups. And you aren't it.

The Government will do better when they have total control. Right?

Lies, Damn Lies, and Government statistics

It was announced today that we are officially out of the recession. Why? It only makes sense. When the hated George W. Bush was president, the media constantly reported we were in a recession for more than a year before we were actually in one, with the net result that ultimately we had a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now that the love of their lives Barak Obama is President, they need to turn the economy back around, so a second lie should undo the damage of the first. It's not that easy.

All those foreclosed houses are still sitting there. All the empty auto dealerships, malls, big box stores and factories are still empty. And well more than 10% of the population is still unemployed. I don't think we are back to happy faces, balloons and champagne yet. Not even close. And then ... there is still the piper to be paid. The only growth in expenditures is totally offset by a growth in debt. The worst is yet to come. One way, or another. The debt must be paid.

And the politicians aren't even chastened. They still intend to increase how much they take from you, so they can give it back and tell you it came from them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why the Hatred Toward Glen Beck?

Glen Beck doesn't provide answers. He provides questions. If the powers-that-be will not answer them, then we have little choice but to presume the worst. For if the answers were what we wanted to hear and were true, our elected officials would have no compunction about providing the answers.