C. S. Lewis On Kindness and Civility at the Table (And Online)

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Posted on 27th July 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

He couldn’t be talking about TBP. Could he?
Guest Post by Jesse
“We hear a great deal about the rudeness of the rising generation. I am an oldster myself and might be expected to take the oldsters’ side, but in fact I have been far more impressed by the bad manners of parents to children than by those of children to parents.Who has not been the embarrassed guest at family meals where the father or mother treated their grown-up offspring with an incivility which, offered to any other young people, would simply have terminated the acquaintance? Dogmatic assertions on matters which the children understand and their elders don’t, ruthless interruptions, flat contradictions, ridicule of things the young take seriously – sometimes of their religion – insulting references to their friends, all provide an easy answer to the question “Why are they always out? Why do they like every house better than their home?”Who does not prefer civility to barbarism?

If you asked any of these insufferable people – they are not all parents of course – why they behaved that way at home, they would reply, “Oh, hang it all, one comes home to relax. A chap can’t be always on his best behaviour. If a man can’t be himself in his own house, where can he? Of course we don’t want Company Manners at home. We’re a happy family. We can say anything to one another here. No one minds. We all understand.”

Once again it is so nearly true yet so fatally wrong.

Affection is an affair of old clothes, and ease, of the unguarded moment, of liberties which would be ill-bred if we took them with strangers. But old clothes are one thing; to wear the same shirt till it stank would be another. There are proper clothes for a garden party; but the clothes for home must be proper too, in their own different way. Similarly there is a distinction between public and domestic courtesy. The root principle of both is the same: “that no one give any kind of preference to himself.”

C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I suspect Mr. Lewis would be inclined to make similar observations about online manners as compared to public manners, where electronic anonymity tempts the worst part of a person to be belittling, dismissive, condescending, and in short, a bully.

Sometimes people come to confuse rudeness with strength and position, and choose to exercise it when they feel that they have some power, even if it is just the power to say what you will with relative impunity given the distance of electronics. The culture of the internet is nascent; and intelligence without education and cultural broadening can quickly degenerate into barbarism, even amongst people, not only commenters but bloggers, who might be otherwise appalled by how they act online.

Understanding, compassion, and kindness are the signs of real power and strength. Rudeness, incivility, and bad manners are the signs of ill-breeding and ignorance, of the disordered mind of the narcissist, who proceeds through life unaware and uncaring of those around them.

I am certainly no stuffed shirt. Manners does not mean that famous English reserve. Rather, manners are no ritual. Ritual manners, like accents, are too often an artificial construct with the purpose of promoting a type of class system. Civility is a certain ease of behavior, supported by kindness.

Barbarism can become fashionable, almost contagious. One may even have learned such dismissive and condescending behaviour from a parent, who learned it from one of theirs, or in some deep disappointment in their lives.

Don’t tell yourself that this is just the way it is. Rather, tell yourself that this is just wrong, and let such incivility stop with me.

Beloved CEO Fired By Board For Being Insufficiently Ruthless: Employees Walk Off Their Jobs In Protest

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Posted on 25th July 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Jesse
“Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about,  they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?
Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!”
George Baily in It’s a Wonderful Life
This is by far the most remarkable story I have seen in a while.
In the latest development, Mr. Demoulas has made an offer to buy his company back.
If only more of us would put people before power and greed, and insist that our leaders live up to their duties to the people first, and not wallow in money and privileges for themselves and their cronies, while spreading fear and hatred to keep the people compliant.
Then that really might be ‘a wonderful life.’
Meet America’s Most Beloved CEO—Too Bad He Just Got Fired
Brad Tuttle
July 23, 2014
After the wealthy CEO of a supermarket chain was fired, thousands of workers walked off the job in protest—some getting fired themselves. What’s up with that?
Workers understandably tend to go on strike or protest for selfish reasons—more pay, better benefits, improved working conditions. Over the last week in New England, however, thousands of employees at Market Basket, a supermarket chain with 71 stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, have been sticking their necks out (and in some cases putting their jobs on the line) in support of Arthur T. Demoulas, who was the company CEO until he was fired in June.
Rallies pushing for “Arthur T.” to be given his job back were held at the Market Basket headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass., on Friday and Monday, drawing upwards of 5,000 protestors. Meanwhile, the shelves of many Market Basket locations have gone barren, as there are too few employees still on the job to stock them. At least eight employees were fired over the weekend related to the protests…
“He’s George Bailey,” Trainor explained to the Washington Post, comparing Arthur T. Demoulas to the beloved savings-and-loan manager played by Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. “He cares more about people than he does about money….”
Read the entire story here.

Nanex: The Market Is Rigged, With Details

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Posted on 16th July 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Jesse

“A rogue does not laugh in the same way that an honest man does; a hypocrite does not shed the tears of a man of good faith. All falsehood is a mask; and however well made the mask may be, with a little attention we may always succeed in distinguishing it from the true face.”

Alexandre Dumas

The market is rigged.  Oh no, this could not possibly be correct, say the trolls, shills, revolving door careerists, media carnival barkers, and conmen’s assistants. They simply do not understand it!

The analysis from Nanex, rich in details, does not only apply to very large orders in excess of 10,000 shares.  I have seen the same type of activity in smaller markets with orders of only a few thousand shares.  Anyone who has Level 2 access can observe it if they look closely enough, and have the will to look with their eyes and see.

These pampered princes of Wall Street are steadily degrading the markets, and distorting and taxing the real economy with their bias to speculative grifting rather than facilitating productive investment.

I do not agree that a ‘free for all market’ would be better than this.  Some of these schemes are as basically corrupt as a West Coast gangster’s attempt to control all the horse racing wire services information for his own benefit.  And you don’t fix corruption by firing all the police and prosecutors.

There are a few things that would go a long way to fixing this.  Fairness is not so terribly hard to establish if you do not wish to twist it with the faux complexity of a confidence racket that advantages some because.

I suspect that nothing will work until we root the big money out of politics.  Its corrupting influence touches everything and is corrosive to the common good, giving scandal to all by its shameful example.

In some sense, this would be turning the markets back to what they were before they became utter casinos dominated by big players unleashed by the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the divestment of sound regulation in the name of a utopian market ideology that serves to promote a new level of systemic criminality.

This is analysis and conclusion below is from NANEX.

“…All this evidence points to one inescapable conclusion:

The order cancellations and trade executions just before, and during the trader’s order were not a coincidence. This is premeditated, programmed theft, plain and simple.

Michael Lewis probably said it best when he told 60 minutes that the stock market is rigged.

To the High Frequency Traders (HFT) that make fantastic claims about providing liquidity, perhaps one should ask: “what kind of liquidity”? To the now obvious, ludicrous claim that “everyone’s order uses the same tools that HFT uses”, we’ll just say, the data shows otherwise. To Mary Jo White and other officials who claim the market isn’t rigged and that regulators need to look at the data before making any decisions: well, you made it this far – if things aren’t clear, re-read this expose (or the nearly 3000 others pages we’ve published), or simply call us and we’ll explain it to you. Or dust off Midas and lets us show you how to work with market data.

One more note to the SEC in particular – if you believe that the industry can fix these problems on their own, then we believe you are no longer fit to regulate, because that is not, and never was, how Wall Street works. Honestly, a free for all, no–holds–barred environment would be better than the current system of complicated rules which are partially enforced, but only against some participants. And make no mistake, what is shown above is as close to automatic pilfering as one can get. It probably results in a few firms showing spectacularly perfect trading records; it definitely results in people believing the market is unfair and corrupt.

And to CNBC and other financial media companies who say these problems have all been fixed – we think you might have been lied to. Probably by the ones doing the market rigging. A certain HFT lobbyist group immediately comes to mind – the one that presents the same tired “liquidity, spreads, costs” argument, without data to back it up. This paper shows that the liquidity claim is clearly a lie.

Academics interested in continuing the study shown on this page – we believe we know how you can find and quantify these events. Serious inquiries only please.

Note that none of this would be possible if the direct feeds weren’t illegally supplying HFT with faster information than the SIP.

And finally, to our regular readers: we are taking a break. Everyone has a limit to how much corruption they can witness and digest in a given period of time and we’ve simply reached our limit.”

You may read the detailed examination and explanation of this from Nanex here.

The Recovery™ In One Graph

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Posted on 24th June 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Guest Post by Jesse

“Gentlemen! I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country.
When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank.
You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin!
You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out!”
“…supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy — what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”
John Kenneth Galbraith
Recovery.  For some.
I am not sure what is trickling down in this recovery.  It is not oats, or wealth.
But I am fairly sure that I know why the recovery is so disjointed and selective.
It is one of the oldest stories.  It is about the abuse of privilege, of foolish people led in herds shouting slogans crafted by the clever and the unscrupulous, of the treacherous and self-destructive fury of unbridled greed.
It is about the lust for power, the deceptiveness of hubris, the blindness of pride, and the lessons from history that have been carefully and intentionally unlearned.  It is about the madness that brings the fire, in hearts and minds of men.
h/t Anthony Sanders, Confounded Interest

Currency War: 140 Years of Monetary History in Ten Minutes

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Posted on 11th June 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Guest Post by Jesse

Like most complex subjects reduced to a ten minute summation, there are plenty of nuances lost here, and one might certainly take issue with some of the conclusions. And the perspective of the discussion is largely centered on the US and Europe.

Nevertheless, I like the succinct overview of certain key events in recent world monetary history that lead up to the situation in which we find ourselves today.

Since most people are abysmally ignorant of where we have been, perhaps that is a good place to start once again, for those of you who have not heard this previously.

I would have liked them to have dealt with the gold confiscation and revaluation of 1933, in which FDR used the nation’s gold to recapitalize the banking system, and changing the nature of the US currency while devaluing it, but that might have become over complicated. Most do not understand it for what it was, a currency transformation.

People tend to discuss money from an emotional basis, and that is understandable. I don’t consider myself a ‘hard money’ person per se. At this point I would merely wish governments to leave gold and silver alone, and allow them to function as a private market force, co-existing with whatever currency schemes they choose to set up. The monetary authorities struggle with this concept, because they inevitably seem to abuse the currency system and resort to increasing amounts of fraud and force. This is not a facet of government, but of bad government.

I am not in favor of a ‘gold standard’ for that reason now, because that would merely allow governments to once again monopolize the metals and set the prices artificially in order to control them. Gold cannot cure the corruption in the current political system, and could quickly be turned into a force for more repression. Better that the metals exist as free market alternatives for those who may choose them.

After listening to this presentation, one can surely understand why the central banks both fear and covet gold. It resists their wills, but has a natural tendency to be seen as money.

I do think that the nature of gold, and how it has been used as money over thousands of years, illustrates several important qualities that any sustainable monetary system must emulate and approximate. Those who dabble in monetary theory would do well to understand them.

De Gaulle’s words are quite important, and I am glad they include that piece in which Charles de Gaulle speaks to the ‘exorbitant privilege’ of the US Dollar. The principled objection he is raising is the same question being raised by the BRICs today, and the resolutions being discussed behind the scenes are quite contentious over some of these very issues.

As you know, I suggested one solution would be an SDR, but reconstituted with a more contemporary and inclusive weighting system, together with a mechanism that does not permit the IMF to issue amounts of SDRs at will. The problem is that the IMF is dominated by the status quo and the Banks, and really no class of people is capable of wielding that sort of discretionary power well for any period of time. So I don’t see that happening yet, because an acceptable version of it is being fiercely resisted by the Anglo-American banking cartel. They are content to continue with their looting of the system for the foreseeable future.

Money is power, after all, and greed will too often refuse to relinquish any power or claim willingly, even to its own destruction. The American abuse of financial power for political purposes is causing a bifurcation in global finance, along the expected fault lines, and it will be interesting to see how that develops.

I think most predictions about this that I have heard are just opinions, and they louder they are, the less valid they are likely to be.  Others that are more well founded are heavily biased to a particular outcome.  This is natural.  People talk their book and book their talk, if they are not mere hypocrites and spokesmodels.

Managing ourselves and our situation with objectivity, flexibility, and adaptability is a key survival skill in periods of great change.  The trick is not to lose yourself in the process.  There truly are times when a man holds his own soul in his own hands like water, and if he allows it to slip away, he may not hope to regain it so easily again.

LOOKING INTO THE ABYSS

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Posted on 20th May 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Jesse

 

“We looked into the abyss if the gold price rose further. A further rise would have taken down one or several trading houses, which might have taken down all the rest in their wake.

Therefore at any price, at any cost, the central banks had to quell the gold price, manage it. It was very difficult to get the gold price under control but we have now succeeded. The US Fed was very active in getting the gold price down. So was the U.K.”

Edward ‘Eddie’ George, Governor Bank of England 1993-2003

 

Yesterday I said,

“The capping in the metals is obvious.

There is no economic news or theory that is needed otherwise to explain it.

The question is how long it can last.”

Someone asked ‘why then is it happening?” I am sorry I had thought it was also obvious based on any number of recent posts.

The Anglo-American Gold Pool, and their coterie of client Banks, have made a policy decision to hold the price of gold and silver below 1300 and 20.

Why those particular levels?   Because any lower, and the miners would start going out of business, and the flow of physical bullion to the East might become unmanageable.   They are nice round numbers, with the obvious appeal to the bureaucratic mind.   Anything higher, or rather, with a more aggressive rate of ascent, and some of the natives might become restless, and the positions of some Banks might become untenable.

Their reasons are of course theirs, but I would imagine it is something along the lines of ZIRP, the TARP, selective justice, and the rigging of LIBOR and any other number of markets.

The preservation of the status quo becomes paramount to those caught in a credibility trap, and especially among those who have risen to great wealth and power through ‘extraordinary means.’

L’etat, c’est moi.

High Tide for the Dollar: Revenge of the Sith

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Posted on 16th May 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Jesse

I have certainly considered this scenario many times, of how the dollar regime might evolve,  and the one discussed below remains one possible outcome.

There is an intense international discussion going on about the future of the international currency system, and relations in general.  I have referred to this generally as the ‘currency wars’ for some time.

Most Americans have yet to notice this, due in no small part to the silence of the mainstream media.   If the US and the BRICs cannot engage in a rapprochement over the future of the international monetary system, and keep pushing a hard line for a US dollar hegemony, then of course the BRICs may pursue those discussions by other means.

One way to do this would be to revalue gold at let’s say $10,000 per ounce, and use it to partially back their own currency, or currencies.  Bill Holter does a good job of outlining that in the article excerpted below.  The details of how that one might play out is certainly open to much debate.

The counter to this is force, which the US has been employing much more aggressively and pre-emptively of late than it otherwise has done in the post-Cold War era.

I had assigned this somewhat unilateral devaluation of the Dollar to Gold outcome a low probability, thinking that the US and its allies, Britain, Japan, and parts of the EU, would continue supporting each other’s currencies and policies of foreign exchange valuations through non-transparent swaps and buying, in a managed devaluation amongst themselves of course. But I thought they would at least open the door to allowing the SDR to be reconstituted with a broader basket of currencies and metals not under NATO control.

The events of late in Ukraine make me wonder if the negotiations have not broken down because the hard liners in the Anglo-American cartel have prevailed over those who might favor accommodation and compromise. When the coup d’état occurred, with the US involvement becoming known, I had one of those ‘WTF’ moments many of us had when the US made a hard right turn and attacked Iraq, seemingly out of nowhere as a response to 911.   Wow, where did that come from?

Certainly it must be obvious that the neo-cons are back in force in Washington, although the neo-liberal economists in the Obama cabinet are certainly capable of carrying the financial side of that American Century outlook.

This is not to say that Russia and China are in the right, or are ‘good.’  They have positions and the Anglo-American financiers have positions.  One can certainly debate the relative merits, but for my own case I wish to try and understand what is happening, so that we may best adjust to it and understand what is happening and why.

And it would certainly be difficult to give high marks to the Anglo-American elites for taking care of those at home, and managing the domestic infrastructure and prosperity.  As we see so often throughout history, this appears to be the case of an oligarchy versus another oligarchy, as they grow restless within their domains.

Therefore I continue to believe that we will see change, rather than collapse.  Although if I were writing a book, or selling my site for clicks, the temptation for blaring headlines of doom might be stronger.   Things change, and periods of change always invoke dire predictions and phantoms of doom.

I am more concerned about a union amongst the oligarchs and the rise of a global governance that is anti-human, to be frank.   But even that is most likely an outlier I would like to think.  Of more real concern perhaps are the unsuspecting believers and the gullible who may be proudly riding the gospel of prosperity, and a fascination for the trappings but not the substance of devotion, into the maws of hell, with ‘Lord, Lord’ on their lips.  But that is another matter for a smaller audience, and a preoccupation for some of us here.

So grab something solid and hang on.  I don’t know enough to be able to predict how this will turn out, and  anyone who might be able to do so realizes that the fog of war is descending quickly.   Predictions and guesses are cheap, and will become even more plentiful as things progress.  But knowledge is the coin of the realm.

There could be rough waters ahead, mateys. But one can always hope that cooler and wiser and stronger heads will prevail.  This will play out slowly, until something happens, and then events may being to move rather quickly.  Pray for the best, and prepare for the worst.

“Next Tuesday, Vladimir Putin will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, I believe that the odds are quite high that an energy deal will be announced where Russia will supply China with oil and gas and that infrastructure (pipelines) will also be built to the express exclusion of the dollar. Please understand that this is not a deal where a few million barrels of oil are sent and then get settled for, no, this will be a very long term partnership which is why the infrastructure will be built.

My intent was to explain that China has imported 1,000′s of tons of gold over the last several years and that they (even though their system is very highly leveraged just as ours) have prepared themselves for what is coming.  ‘What is coming’ is that China will have just as many massive defaults as the U.S. will …but with a “small difference.” I believe that China will mark gold up to an arbitrary number of let’s say $10,000 per ounce which will do a number of things. First, this will make China’s holdings worth much much more which can and will be used as collateral to steady their debt markets. This collateral will serve to re liquefy the banks AND back their currency should they wish to (I believe they do).

Another added ‘benefit’ is that this will expose the fact that the West no longer has any gold. The dollar will go into a spiral because not just ‘one lunatic’ like Saddam Hussein is proposing to no longer use dollars. No, we are talking about 2 major oil producers and our largest trading partner who may just be the largest economy in the world having eclipsed us. Another little tidbit is that these 3 taken together were for years the absolute arch enemy of the U.S. and now they are forming a unified triad where Russia and Iran can say, ‘Hey, you told us not to use dollars anymore, we’re just doing what you’ve told us to do.’  Talk about forming ‘policy’ without looking 5 seconds into the future, our sanctions would be the definition of this.”

Bill Holter, They Don’t Need Us, We Need Them

Read the entire article here.

HAS ANYONE EVER THANKED TIMMY GEITHNER FOR SAVING THE REPUBLIC?

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Posted on 15th May 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Edward Bernays must be looking up with a proud smirk on his face. His teachings have been perfected beyond his wildest dreams. It had to be done in the name of democracy. Truth, freedom and liberty have always been dangerous and unnecessary concepts for the ruling class to allow. The propaganda media will do there duty until the very end.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” - Edward Bernays – Propaganda

Guest Post by Jesse

Tweeting the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, One Institution At a Time

 

“[Edmund] Burke said that there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate, more important far than they all.”

Thomas Carlyle

“In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection is must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”

Hugo L. Black

“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”

Hunter S. Thompson

“We become slaves the moment we hand the keys to the definition of reality entirely over to someone else, whether it is a business, an economic theory, a political party, the White House, Newsworld or CNN.”

B.W. Powe

Quod erat demonstratum. (that which was to be demonstrated)