Category Archives: Finance

Murder v Money

 

Murder v Money

murder and money

In response to last week’s post about marijuana prohibition, I received a notable comment from Joel Meilke. I found the comment notable not because it was especially well thought out, or because it brought up a fresh perspective, quite the contrary. Joel’s comment was notable because it articulated the most common knee jerk reaction to any discussion about ending marijuana prohibition around here. Joel described Humboldt County’s tradition of almost weekly, prohibition related homicides and disappearances as “a conundrum”, weighing them against the amount of money the black market marijuana industry brings into Humboldt County.

mielke

I like Joel, I mean, I’ve never met him, but I enjoy his cartoons in the North Coast Journal, and he did post the very first comment in this blog, back in May of 2011, so I appreciate him as a reader, but money ain’t everything folks, and counting the dollars is no way to measure the effects of prohibition on Humboldt County. Joel lamented that the local economy might contract by as much as one-third without the massive government subsidies that pay for the arrest, conviction and incarceration of millions of innocent, mostly poor, mostly minority, and mostly young Americans across the country.

kids in prison

They say “Money talks”, and I’ve lived behind “The Redwood Curtain” long enough to know that most people here really don’t give a rat’s ass about what goes on in the rest of the country, and couldn’t care less about the people who pay for Humboldt County’s marijuana crop, so long as someone shows up with the cash to buy it from them. That’s why I wrote about the ways marijuana prohibition negatively affects us, the predominantly white, middle-class residents of Humboldt County, despite the influx of illicit funds it brings.

humboldt county line

Even so, last week’s post barely scratched the surface of the negative side-effects of prohibition on our local community. It would take many volumes to analyze to real cost of prohibition here in Humboldt County, but we all suffer the consequences of marijuana prohibition, and often in ways you might not consider.

consider this

For instance: Haven’t you noticed the proliferation of overpriced mediocre restaurants around here? Aren’t you tired of paying through the nose for disappointing meals out? If so, you can thank marijuana prohibition. How’s that?”, you ask.

disappointing restaurant

Simple. Drug dealers are the quintessential nouveau riche. They don’t mind being overcharged, so long as they get to flash the cash. Drug dealers spend money much more indiscriminately than working people. They also tend to value convenience more than quality, appearance more than substance and generally lack good taste. The restaurants in Humboldt County reflect that.

nouveau riche

Were it not for prohibition, we might have fewer restaurants, but we would certainly have better restaurants, and we would have cheaper restaurants. Besides that, the restaurants would have much less trouble finding decent help, and the people who work at the restaurants would have an easier time finding a place to live that they could afford, because half of the available housing would not be full of grow lights and pot plants. That’s how marijuana prohibition makes restaurants in Humboldt County suck.

bad-restaurant-experience

Fewer murders, better restaurants, cheaper eats and more affordable housing are just a few of the ways that ending marijuana prohibition would improve the quality of life for the residents of Humboldt County. Sure, less money will come into the county, but most of that money ends up in the hands of a few rich, greedy bastards who mostly use it to fuck the rest of us over. Besides, without the financial incentive that marijuana prohibition provides, a lot of those bottom-feeders would move out of the county to search for some other dark, murky slime-pit in which to lurk.

Bottom Feeder Food

So don’t worry about the economy. The economy will not suffer. The economy never suffers. Grieving mothers suffer. Crime victims suffer. Children who see their parents hauled away in handcuffs at gunpoint suffer, but the economy does not suffer. People who pay too much for mediocre food suffer. People who work for a living but can’t find an affordable place to live suffer, and people who pay too much for pot suffer, but the economy doesn’t suffer. Salmon suffer, the environment suffers, and the community suffers, but the economy does not suffer. The economy never suffers because the economy is not alive. The economy doesn’t feel a thing. No matter how much we suffer for the economy, the economy will never return the favor.

Bees and the economy cartoon 1

Remember, Reagan broke the unions to help the economy. Bush relaxed environmental standards to help the economy. Clinton signed NAFTA to help the economy. Bush II cut taxes on the rich to help the economy, and then we all bailed out the bankers to save the economy. How stupid can we be that we haven’t figured out that when they tell us something is helping the economy, that means it’s hurting most of us?

illegalization

So fuck the economy! If you want forests and salmon and a place to live, and you think there should be plenty of marijuana for everyone, then work to end marijuana prohibition. If you want overpriced mediocre restaurants full of nouveau riche drug dealers, murderers, and greedy slimeball bottom-feeders, because it’s “good for the economy”, I suppose there should be a place for you. Call it Hell, and go there.

acdc-acdc-funny-highway-to-hell-led-zeppelin-Favim.com-352202_large


On The Money; A Brief History of Private Property

 

 

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

A Brief History of Private Property

 

quote-if-history-could-teach-us-anything-it-would-be-that-private-property-is-inextricably-linked-with-ludwig-von-mises-128364

 

For most of human history, the modern concept of private property would have been unimaginable. Early humans, as individuals, had very few possessions indeed. Early humans would have used possessive pronouns, in reference to things literally attached to them, my hair, my hand, my penis etc, if they even had pronouns at all, which they probably didn’t. Early humans were not even possessive enough to own pronouns, but they did recognize that some things, the things that grew on their own bodies, belonged to them exclusively.

 

Early-man

 

Early humans also recognized that things that grew on other creatures belonged to those creatures as well. A bear’s claw belonged to the bear. A deer’s antler belonged to the deer, and so on. Early humans needed stuff from these animals, food especially, so early humans hunted these animals and took theses things for themselves.

 

early man village

 

Still, early humans acknowledged that the meat they ate, the skins they wore, and the bones they used for tools still belonged to the animals from which they had taken them. They believed that the spirits of these animals continued to inhabit these things. Early man did not so much feel that they owned these animals, as they felt that these animals inhabited them and the things they made from them. The more bear you ate, the more bear inhabited you. If you wore buckskin clothing, the spirit of the deer that inhabited those skins kept you warm.

 

Paleolithic Cave Painting of Cattle at Lascaux

 

These early possessions, tools, clothes, furs etc could not be considered private property in the modern sense, however. They would instead be considered “belongings”. The clothes you wore, the fur you slept on, the hunting bow you used, belonged to you. You inhabited them more than owned them. Other items, like shelters, fire rings, and food were shared among the entire band. Still other items, ornamental items, game pieces, fishhooks arrowheads or arrows, drums and whistles, were often traded, or used for gambling.

 

prehistoric_man_tools

 

Early humans depended much more on the people in their band or tribe, than they relied on their few possessions. These cultures developed quite extensive social software to prevent anyone from becoming too possessive with objects. They treated greed with scorn. Gambling on games of chance provided entertainment, and insured that prized items changed hands often.

 

cavemenoutcave

 

Early humans valued equality, and their cultures reflect that. Many tribal cultures strongly avoided debt and obligation between tribal members. Gift-giving was frowned on, especially of valuable items, because of this aversion to interpersonal obligations. . However, gifts of arrows made hunting even more communal. A kill made with a gifted arrow, involved the efforts of both the hunter and the arrow-maker.

 

prehistory-hunting

 

Humility helped to insure the stability of the band, and tribal people often took it to extreme. If a hunter made a kill, instead of bragging about it, he might say it was a lucky shot, or praise the gifted arrow that made the kill. Then he would say that it seems like a tired old animal that will probably be too tough to eat. The men who help him carry the kill home will complain about how bony and mangy it looks, and ask why he even bothered to hunt such a worthless quarry, and waste their time with it, but the whole band will feast on it together.

 

cave man feast

 

Early man lived a nomadic life, moving seasonally to take advantage of a variety of wild foods. This encouraged them to keep possessions to a minimum, as they would have to carry them all, often long distances, on foot. Again, the things they carried with them would be more accurately described as “belongings” than private property.

 

Nomad Bushmen

 

Early humans lived together in small groups, usually consisting of between 15-40 members on average. These groups, although very close knit, might be quite wary of other groups, depending on their history with them. If another group of humans got too close to your camp, you might interpret that as a sign of aggression, and try to drive them off.

 

warriors

 

As with most animals, these confrontations between groups of humans often involved little more than bluster, before one group backed down. If the confrontation escalated to violence, and especially if it resulted in death, the two groups would likely remain enemies for a very long time. Hostile raids and revenge killings would be expected.

 

care for the dead

 

You could call these kinds of conflicts “territorial” but they were really more personal than territorial. The territory between the groups created a buffer that allowed hostile groups to avoid each other, but no one thought they owned the territory. For millions of years, human beings lived this way, and, where they haven’t been wiped out, they continue to live this way. This is not a primitive lifestyle. This is who we are.

 

indigenous tribe

 

About 10,000 years ago, one particular group of humans became especially fond of a fermented grain beverage. Today, we would call it beer, but who knows what they called it then. They began burning large tracts of land to cultivate grain to make it. This burned and planted land must have been quite jealously guarded, not only from other humans, but from animals seeking to graze there.

 

early Agriculture

 

Thus began the concept of private property. Still, this had more to do with labor than land. In those days, they didn’t know much about fertility, so a burned patch of forest land would only produce grain for a few years before exhausting the soil. Before long, they would need to burn more forest land leaving the old exhausted fields abandoned. In these early days, private property was kind of like a roll of toilet paper in a public restroom. It was there. You took what you needed, and when you were done with it, no one else really wanted it.

 

toilet paper

 

As sometimes happens in public restrooms, eventually the roll ran out. That is, they ran out of virgin forest land to burn. They did what you or I would do when confronted with an exhausted roll of toilet paper in a restroom stall. They checked the adjacent stall. If they found the adjacent stall empty, that solved their problem.

 

public-restrooms

 

On the other hand, if they found the stall occupied, and the occupant felt nervous about the dwindling supply of toilet paper roll in that stall, they might find themselves in a conflict situation, as “Elaine” once did in a memorable episode of the TV series Seinfeld. For those of you unfamiliar with history, I’ll remind you that in that episode, “Elaine” found herself in a restroom stall with an empty roll of toilet paper, a fact she discovered too late. She pleaded with the woman in the next stall for a length of toilet paper, but the woman refused, claiming that she could not even spare one square of toilet paper for “Elaine”.

square to spare

 

 

This made “Elaine” extremely angry, and hilarity ensued. If you substitute land for toilet paper, and violence for hilarity, the history of agricultural man followed more or less the same plot as that episode of Seinfeld. That is why you won’t find a scrap of proverbial toilet paper left on the proverbial roll in any proverbial restroom stall from Morocco to Afghanistan, but you will find a lot of angry people.

 

seinfeld_episode076

 

As time went on, this metaphorical “hilarity” escalated, and became more common. Before long “hilarity” became the standard method for acquiring agricultural land, leading to the rise of “funny” men, who did not farm at all, but specialized in hacking people to bits. These “professional comedians” as we’ll call them. Fought each other for scraps of agricultural “toilet paper”, and the farmers who tended them.

 

feudal village

 

These farmers then became the subjects of these “professional comedians”, so called because these “comedians” subjected the farmers to “punchlines” of very pointed “jokes” if they refused to provide them with a share of the crops they harvested. While farmers remained with the land they tended, these “professional comedians” slayed each other for control of them, if you catch my drift.

 

fontenoy-bat

 

Military might became increasingly central to the control of resources, especially land. While farmers continued to work the land, the “professional comedians”, the dukes, kings and warlords who fought over the land claimed “ownership” of it. Farmers became terrorized peasants, while the military class took control of their lands by violence, and demanded payment from them, in the form of crops and livestock.

 

feudal system

 

Everything that these conquerors could extract from conquered lands became known as “the spoils of war”. They took people, especially women, as slaves, people’s belongings, livestock, any thing of value quickly became the property of the conquering forces. Wild game and natural resources also became “private property” as military forces plundered the entire known world.

 

the-spoils-of-war-booty

 

In this way, military power trumped the labor of the farmers who worked the land, the belongings of people who lived on the land, and the natural integrity of the land itself, as the modern definition of private property fully crystallized. Since then, military powers have measured the value of everything, according to their own short-term purposes, and their own ability to plunder and exploit. Economists use this same skewed perspective to this day, which partially explains why they get things so wrong.

 

spoils_of_war_on_holiday_table_hurwitt_large

 

As this method of resource distribution became more institutionalized, military violence grew in scale, and military forces became increasingly hierarchical. To insure the loyalty of the vast armies necessary for this kind of conquest, the kings, dukes, robber barons and warlords who led these conquests needed to pay their soldiers. This they did by issuing contracts or covenants, promising each soldier, according to his rank, a share of the spoils, which might include land, slaves, other people’s belongings and natural resources.

 

feudal war

 

The age of naval conquest vastly expanded the lands available to become private property through the process of conquest and plunder. Adventurous plunderers like Christopher Columbus and Cortez exported this new concept of private property, as they began the colonial plunder of the Americas, commencing the most abominable undertaking in all of human history, at least in terms of human lives extinguished, the American genocide.

 

cortez-montezuma-mexico-city

 

European conquerors spread like locusts around the globe. Slavery, genocide and complete environmental plunder became the calling cards of Western Civilization, as colonial military invaders sought to exterminate thousands of indigenous cultures, replacing them with this new concept of private property.

 

genocide

 

Since then, conquerors have felt free to trade lands, resources, people, livestock etc, through legally binding contracts, enforced with military might. From this proud history, we inherited our modern concept of private property. From the Mayflower Charter to the mortgage on your home, the concept of private property arises from, belongs to and exemplifies the violence, oppression and environmental plunder which defines Western Civilization, but it does not reflect economic reality.

 

indian-land-for-sale

 

This flawed concept of private property underpins all modern economic analysis, but it clearly misses the forest for the lumber, so to speak. Of course the world has value in its natural integrity. Of course the indigenous people that inhabited those conquered lands valued their homeland, and their lives. Of course an ocean teeming with fish, whales and other marine mammals is worth more than one depleted of fish, but full of toxic pollution and plastic debris.

 

floating plastic garbage

 

Destroying natural habitat, certainly does not increase its value. The destruction only diminishes the value of the natural environment, and whatever price the resources extracted from it bring on an open market, pales against the loss. Western Civilization has not created wealth. Western Civilization has butchered the natural wealth of the planet, and pillaged the Earth for its own aggrandizement.

 

pile of buffalo skulls

 

As we watch the biodiversity of the Earth diminish before our eyes, and the global environment becomes increasingly desertified and polluted, we cannot fathom the lost wealth of the planet. The losses are incalculable. Modern economics has ignored these losses and hidden them from view. Instead it celebrates the petty fortunes of the privateers who have plundered the Earth.

 

christopher columbus

 

We feel the loss though, and the pain of it tortures our soul. Billions of creatures have perished of it, with billions more to follow, and billions of humans can be counted among them. Why people, who claim to detest slavery, genocide and violence, also respect private property, I cannot fathom. I call it hypocrisy. Personally, I have nothing but contempt for the concept of private property, and the titles held by so called “land owners” backed by the ferocious violence of the state. There’s no saving private property. For the planet to live, private property must die.

the world is yours

 


On The Money; What’s My Objection To Objective Science?

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

The Method To My Madness pt 2

What’s My Objection To Objective Science?

funny-pictures-cat-will-do-science

For centuries now, objective science has ruled the world. About 500 years ago, objective science overthrew God, and replaced religion as the chief source of human knowledge about the world, during a period known as The Renaissance, or “The Enlightenment”. Sure, religion was ripe for an overthrow. Religion had become incredibly corrupt, violent and oppressive, and did little for the millions of poor people who served it so, well, religiously, but today, objective science has failed, and the seeds of it’s failure were there from the beginning.

scientist fail

For a while, objective science seemed like a wonderful thing. The freedom to study the world, and publish your findings without fear of being condemned to death as a heretic must have been quite refreshing. In its early years, objective science made great strides in understanding how the world worked, especially in the field of physics.

science

Sir Isaac Newton, besides earning himself a knighthood, and a distinguished place in history, remains a household word to this day for his groundbreaking work in describing the mathematical relationship between objects in motion. This was such a big deal, they even named a cookie after him. Newton’s way of looking at the world, as a collection of objects, in motion or at rest, falling and bumping into each other, became the foundation of “objective science”. Suddenly, science, specifically physics, was all about objects, and the transfer of energy between them.

newton

Lots of people jumped on the “objective science” bandwagon, and soon, the “scientific method” was born. Science teachers all over the world, in all kinds of fields, from chemistry to sociology still teach this scientific method. The scientific method is a way of designing experiments, and scientists all over the world use it religiously.

scientific method

Using the scientific method, the scientist tries to isolate one particular variable in a complex system, and then looks for something that determines change in that variable. For instance, a scientist might start a number of identical plants, raising them in exactly the same soil and nutrients, and then vary the amount of light the plants receive, to see how that effects the plant’s growth rate. Ideally, the scientist finds a cause and effect relationship, that can be expressed in the form of a mathematical equation, x hours of sunlight produces y amount of new growth, for instance.

plant experiment

While physical objects yield very easily to this kind of experiment, producing mathematically predictable results, complex systems, specifically organisms, like plants, animals, people, families, cities, or the economy, do not yield such cut and dried results. Organisms teem with variables, and scientists find it difficult, if not impossible, to control all of them, as well as they do the variables of objects, like chemicals, rocks, or metal parts.

gears

Objective science taught us a lot about organisms, but never with the kind of mathematical accuracy and predictability of physics, and the more complex the organism, the less predictable the results, and the harder it was for scientists to find these mechanical cause and effect relationships. That didn’t stop them from trying, though. In the mean time, the objective science of physics really took off.

science-youre-doing-it-wrong

Thanks to “objective science”, physics gave birth to modern technology. From the steam locomotive and the cotton gin, to the ipad and the X-Box, the world of applied objective science, commonly called technology, transformed the world, and our lives. Not only did theses new things change our lives, objective science itself, made us feel smarter and more powerful.

high tech

We began to believe that through objective science, we could unlock all of the secrets of the universe and know the mind of God. This was the goal of “The Enlightenment”, to explain how the universe worked, in scientific equations, rather than religious terms. When we saw the first nuclear explosion, and learned the equation E=MCsquared, a lot of people thought we were getting close to that goal.

Einstein

Despite the fact that physics had left biology, psychology, sociology, economics and other sciences that study organisms in the dust, many scientists in those fields, and most laypeople, still assume that objective science will eventually unlock all of the secrets of the universe, and so they continue to pursue objective science, believing that only the vast number of variables inherent in the study of organisms, prevents scientists from completely grasping the mechanics of life, but they think they are getting close too.

science guy

These scientists think that unraveling the mysteries of the universe is a good thing, in and of itself, but more importantly, they believe that we can use this knowledge to make the world a better place to live. This idea has guided our culture for the last 500 years. These were the assumptions behind the rise of objective science: That objective science would unlock the mysteries of the universe, and that we could use that knowledge to engineer a better world.

engineerabetterworld8

That’s why they overthrew God and religion to begin with. Not that God and religion didn’t deserve to be overthrown, but now objective science has led us into a system more corrupt, violent and oppressive than even the sickest ambitions of the most sadistic Cardinals of the Spanish Inquisition. Objective science has become a scam, a way to make money, and a political tool to bamboozle the public, and instead of helping us to engineer a better world, it has unleashed hell on Earth.

spanish inquisition

Fans of objective science, and there are many, usually see the mysteries of the universe as falling into two broad categories: The stuff we already understand, and the stuff scientists are studying right now, so that we will understand it pretty soon. Most of them still believe that we will someday unravel the mysteries of the universe through objective science, and that we will use that knowledge to make the world a better place to live, but they couldn’t be more wrong, and the further we pursue objective science, the more obvious that fact becomes.

crisis_-what-crisis_

The truth is, We don’t have a freakin’ clue! We are no closer to unraveling the mysteries of the universe that we have ever been. The mythology of the Big Bang has no more truth in it than the story of Adam’s rib, or the story that the whole world sits on the back of a turtle. These stories all provide convenient ways to explain what we see around us, but I wouldn’t take any of them too seriously. Before you call me a heretic for renouncing the Big Bang, you should consider a few things.

big bang turtle

First, almost all of the scientists in the world are working on projects aimed at developing new products. They’re developing new drugs to treat depression, finding ways to make weapons more lethal, figuring out how to make computers smaller and faster. Sure, some of them are staring out at the universe and trying to make sense of it, but more of them are creating dangerous new life forms that they can patent and unleash on the world, to make money.

gmo-food-2

They aren’t unraveling the mysteries of the universe, so much as they are unraveling the fabric of life itself, because that’s where the research funds come from. The companies that fund science, expect to turn a profit from it. The same people who drive scientific research, also drive our economy, the scientists working for them care more about their paycheck, than uncovering the ultimate truth of the universe. The Big Bang is not really a big deal to most of them, it is just how the universe looks to them.

big bang card

Second, and this is the important part. Even though the world looks to us like its made of objects, some living, like plants and animals, some not, like rocks and ice cubes, the world only looks this way to us because this is what we need to see in order to survive. Our brains don’t have anywhere near the capacity to understand the universe. We only see what we need to know to get ourselves fed and laid. In other words, how the universe looks to us, has almost nothing to do with how the universe is. What we don’t comprehend, and doesn’t help us survive, we simply don’t see at all.

incomprehensible

Objective scientists themselves have provided plenty of evidence to prove it. According to astrophysicists, everything we have managed to detect in the universe, only accounts for about 2% of what they suspect is really there. They don’t mean that beyond the reach of our telescopes there is more stuff, they mean that all around us, there is more stuff, like dark matter, dark energy etc. We simply have no way of detecting it.

350px-DarkMatterNASA1

Einstein’s theory of relativity showed us, quite dramatically, with the first nuclear explosion, that the world is not made of objects, however tiny. Instead, the universe is made of energy, and that space and time aren’t nearly as real as we, or Newton, imagined, at least not outside of the observer who experiences them.

relativity

Even though the universe appears as though it sprang into existence out of nothingness, from one single point, no one was outside of the universe to observe it. There is no such thing as absolute space and time. Instead, space and time only exist in relation to an observer, that’s what Einstein meant by relativity. Since there were no observers, outside of the universe, before the big bang, there wasn’t any space or time in which that mythical event took place. What would the Big Bang be without any time to expand, or any space to expand into?

big bang construction

I know its hard to imagine anything outside of space and time. It’s impossible really. That’s what I mean by incomprehensible. Looking at the universe as something that exists in space and time is kind of like looking at a pie chart. When you see data expressed in a pie chart, you can make some sense of it, but when you only see pages and pages of raw data, it doesn’t make any sense at all, so you don’t bother. Everyone knows that a pie chart is not a real pie, and that data does not become sweet gooey filling when you make one. This is not a perfect analogy, but nothing is, really. It’s incomprehensible, that’s the whole problem, and that’s my point.

incomprehensiblejpg

Does all of that seem incomprehensible to you? Good! It should, because it is. It’s time we faced that fact. The universe is simply beyond our comprehension. We don’t really know any more about the universe than an orangutan, or a chimp or a hamster for that matter. None of us in this world really knows any more than we really need to know to get ourselves fed and to get ourselves laid, and some of us don’t even know that much.

feeding

By the way, what I’m telling you here, is called a phenomenological analysis of objective science. Phenomenologists don’t make discoveries that capitalists can turn into products, and so they don’t make much money, outside of the philosophy departments of some colleges and universities, where they occasionally find work as professors. If this stuff sounds interesting to you, I suggest you find a college or university who employs one, and take a few classes in phenomenology.

phenom1

Alright, now that we’ve gone over the deep end, you are probably asking yourself, “What’s all of this got to do with economics?” The short answer is that while objective science taught us a lot about objects in space and time, it never really told us much about organisms. Phenomenology, on the other hand, can tell us a lot about organisms, not everything, but more than objective science. Again, if phenomenology sounds interesting to you, find yourself a good phenomenologist, and take a few classes.

husserl

One basic principle of phenomenology is that organisms are always more than the sum of their parts, unlike machines, which are simply the sum of their parts. Plants, animals and people are organisms, and they are also part of a larger organism called the ecosystem, which is part of a larger organism called the world, which is undoubtedly part of a larger organism we call “The Universe”. . There’s much more to us than meets the eye, and that’s why objective science never really told us as much about us, as it did about objects. The economy is also an organism, and it’s part of a larger organism called “society” which is also part of the ecosystem, etc. This means that there is more to how we feed each other, trade with each other, and compete with each other than meets the eye.

more than meets the eye

On The Money, Economics for the 99% offers a phenomenological analysis of economics. You’ll notice that I include my personal perspective, as well as an environmental perspective, a workers perspective, a consumers perspective, a political perspective and a social perspective on the subject of economics, instead of just looking at the mechanical flow of money around the globe.

i love phenomenology

The phenomenological method of study, involves observing phenomena from many perspectives, rather than trying to describe it as an object or a machine. The world is more than resources, people are more than consumers and the economy is more than a machine that feeds one to the other. I also include a bit of humor, because readers are more than just digesters of information. Call me crazy, but there’s a phenomenological critique of objective science that’s On The Money.


On The Money; The Method To My Madness pt 1

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

The Method to My Madness pt 1

method to my madness

The Black Hole Swallowing The Earth

blackholelab_kop

Every year economists write more fat impenetrable books, and every year their theories get further and further from reality. Money itself has become completely unhinged from the real world, as increasingly abstract mathematical concepts get transformed into incomprehensible financial instruments. Derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, high-frequency trading algorithms, etc have so little to do with real economics that I won’t even dignify them with discussion, except to say that they have become a huge part of the financial services sector of the economy, and financial services have become a huge part of total global economic activity. Financial services, now account for about 1% of our national GDP, even though this gigantic industry makes nothing at all.

black hole money

The Financial Services Sector has become a black hole, from which nothing escapes, and into which everything is drawn and destroyed in the process. This black hole has become the central focus of the science of economics. In this rarefied world, money masturbates, knocks itself up, and multiplies without any contact with the real world at all. The more this happens, the more central the Financial Services Sector becomes to the global economy, and the less everything that really does happen in the real world matters to economists. The Financial Services Sector spawned the recent housing bubble, and economists all over the world praised its transcendent genius, even though any idiot, and I’m talking about myself here, could see that it would inevitably collapse.

housing_bubble

Economists find all of this monetary masturbation incredibly fascinating. They find the process of making money out of nothing irresistible, and they seek ways to understand and perpetuate it, much the way theoretical physicists feel about their equally insane quest to discover the Higgs-Boson particle, the so-called “God Particle”.

-god-particle

No doubt you’ve heard of the recently built, 17mile wide, Large Hadron Super-Collider that straddles the border between France and Switzerland, designed largely to search for this astoundingly tiny particle. Perhaps you even heard the warnings of some physicists, that this enormous device just might, accidentally, produce a black hole, that might then proceed to swallow the entire Earth, destroying the planet and every living thing that inhabits it. On the other hand, there’s an equally small chance that we might learn something useful from the experiments at the large Hadron Super-Collider.

large-hadron-collider

Similarly, economists concoct increasingly dangerous, and pointless ways to study the behavior of pure greed, in a vacuum at very near the speed of light. These experiments require enormous amounts of resources and energy. The Financial Services Sector sucks these resources and energy from the real world, threatening whole stock exchanges, global markets and national currencies with instantaneous collapse.

black-hole-of-debt

Accelerating purified greed to near-light velocity within the vacuum of the Financial Services Sector generates enormous heat. This heat triggers expansion. As the Financial Services Sector expands, it draws the real world into the direct path of this superheated high-velocity greed, with which, it inevitably collides, as happened most recently in 2008.

economic-train-wreck

In this collision, we saw greed shatter into its constituent components: dishonesty, fraud, violence, error and theft, which we can then trace by examining the damage they inflict on community, culture, and environment. However, as the Financial Services Sector becomes more central to the economy, economists study these high-velocity, purified greed experiments with little regard for their effects on the real world, our lives or the environment. They simply seek to understand how a system based on unbridled greed, functions at its highest level. That’s their job. That’s what they get paid to do.

_Economists-Survive-by-Mike-Lane-Cagle-Cartoons-515x344

Like the unbelievably expensive and inordinately risky experiments at the Large Hadron Super-Collider, designed to answer misdirected questions about the imperceptibly tiny, economic experiments involving purified high-speed greed do nothing to make the world a better place, or help us make sense of our lives. Instead, these experiments simply seek to expand the emptiness of finance, until it swallows the real world whole. These experiments exemplify our cultural insanity.

accepted insanity

They have not solved humanity’s problems. They have only created more of them. They have not unraveled the mysteries of the universe. They have driven themselves insane, and taken a lot of us with them. They do not bring us closer to understanding the mind of God. They have created hell on Earth, while they try to tell us how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

how many angels

Economists, like those nuclear physicists at the Large Hadron Super-Collider, have lost their minds. They’ve lost their grip on reality as they reach further and further into nothingness. They have reached the limits of objective science, and economists have seen the end of capitalism, but they refuse to admit to themselves that it is over.

-boogle-insane-inspiration-life-mad-Favim.com-53518

They have failed. Their endeavors were doomed from the start, and now, they have proven it. They failed because of flawed assumptions, which date back 500 years to “The Enlightenment”. These flawed assumptions led them to adopt a flawed methodology.. We call that flawed methodology, “objective science”. Mark it well. While objective science produced great leaps forward in the science of physics, it never did much for the science of economics, and it never delivered on its original promise to unlock the mysteries of the universe. The time has come to face the real limitations of objective science.

beyond-limits-science_1

Next week, part two


On The Money; What is Money, and Where Did It Come From?

 

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

What is Money, and Where Did It Come From?

where and what is money

Money is a pretty weird thing if you think about it. Money can level forests and move mountains. Money can drill for oil on the bottom of the ocean, land a nuclear powered car on Mars or hunt people down and kill them with remote controlled aircraft. Money can turn your life upside down, make your tap-water catch fire and drive you out of your home. When people talk about their problems, money, or lack thereof, is usually at the top of the list. So, what is money, and where did it come from?

what smart people do with money

For most of human history, people had no money. People still had to work to get the things they needed, but the work was much more direct. If you wanted meat, you had to hunt and kill an animal. If you wanted a home, you had to build it from whatever you could find around you. All of this stuff was just hard enough to do that you wouldn’t want to do any more of it than you needed to, but easy enough that most of us could accomplish what we needed to do to survive.

irish-garden

Before money, trade was a much smaller part of people’s lives. If you wanted to trade, you had to find someone who had what you wanted, and you had to have something that they wanted. This might happen once or twice a year. The rest of the time, you made do with what you could find around you, all of which was free for the taking.

Indigenous People Amazon

Before money, nature was “the bank”. People made withdrawals, in the form of the plants and animals they ate and made their clothing from, the trees they made their homes from and the stones from which they crafted tools and weapons, and they made deposits in the form of shit, piss, food waste and eventually, their own bodies, which nature would rapidly recycle into more plants animals and minerals. The system was so well balanced that no one needed accountants, tax preparers or lawyers, and so stable that it lasted for hundreds of millions of years, including over a million years of human habitation, without outside intervention or regulation.

Portrait Of Hivshu RE Peary

If the natural system worked so well, why was money invented in the first place? The answer is beer. Sure, you can find plenty of food, water and stuff to build a house from in nature, but beer is pretty hard to come by. Occasionally, people could collect enough grass seeds, soak them in water for long enough to produce prehistoric beer, but not nearly often enough to satisfy the thirsts of the ancient Sumerians, who lived in the Middle-East, where it gets mighty hot in the summertime.

sumerian beer

The ancient Sumerians were the first people in the world to domesticate wild grasses, and begin farming. They burned huge tracts of forest land that had sustained them for eons, in order to grow wheat and barley. This took an enormous amount of work, and led to major headaches, like plagues of frogs, locusts, and flies, as well as turning a lot of habitable forest land into barren desert, but it did give them beer, and beer was very precious to them. It must have been, or why else would they have worked so hard and sacrificed so much in order to make it?

babylonian beer

So it should not surprise you that the first unit of money was the price of a beer, the Shekel. A shekel is equal to 180 grains of barley, roughly the amount needed to produce one beer. While everything else in the natural world was free, beer was expensive. So people counted their shekels, traded shekels and bought things with shekels of barley. Making shekels was no fun at all, but everyone liked beer, so shekels became the currency of the Sumerians, and that is how money was born.

1 shekel sumer

In economics classes they will tell you that money is a medium of exchange that facilitates trade. They’ll tell you that money is a technological advance that made trade more efficient, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, money was invented to facilitate alcoholism.

alcohol

Many people, economists especially, overlook the central role of alcoholism in civilization. Archeologists have discovered ancient Mesopotamian recipes for beer, and friezes depicting beer drinking on Egyptian pyramids. It was only after beer-making had evolved to a high art, that people began eating the yeast-risen loaves of grain, what we now call “bread”, that were originally used to make to make individual batches of beer.

bread

People eat cereal grains, sure, but compared to a fat steak from a wild antelope, a bowl of cream of wheat is nothing to get excited about. On the other hand, you can’t make beer out of a deer. The psychoactive effects of alcohol, no doubt, made cereal grains especially prized, and as people became habituated to alcohol intoxication, their craving for it grew.

ancient-egypt-beer-006

As is the case with alcoholism, the more you drink, the less you care about anything else, until the quest for alcohol becomes the central focus of the alcoholic’s life. The more focused you become on alcohol, the more the rest of your life tends to fall apart. In order to feed their craving for alcohol, people worked long hours to cultivate grains. As grain farming expanded, farmed fields replaced natural habitat, and wild game became more scarce. With less wild game available, grain farmers increasingly traded with traditional hunter-gatherers, who themselves fell under the spell of alcoholism, making them dependent on the grain farmers for their beer. Thus, grain became a precious commodity. People who had a lot of grain, grew more powerful, and those with the most shekels, ruled.

ancient mesopotamian plow

So we see that money is, quite literally, a drug, and addiction to it has shaped, and continues to shape, the course of civilization. money is a drug


Take Your Kids to the Beach

Take Your Kids to the Beach

kids to beach

In recent weeks, beach-goers from Santa Barbara to San Diego have discovered over 1,000 dead and dying sea lion pups on the beach. Apparently undernourished from birth, these pups did not put on enough blubber from mother’s milk, and once weaned, failed to find enough to eat on their own.

California sea lion

Without an adequate layer of blubber, sea lions cannot maintain the body temperature that a warm blooded mammal needs to survive in the cold water, so they come up on the beach to sun themselves, and warm up. Unfortunately they don’t find anything to eat on the beach either, and eventually they expire from starvation.

sea lion strandings-2817.jpg.0x545_q100_crop-scale

Wildlife rescuers in Southern CA have been overwhelmed with calls about these poor pups, but there’s little they can do. No one has the facilities to care for hundreds of starving sea lion pups. Everyone equipped to handle sea lions, has their hands full right now. Sometimes they relocate the pups to more secluded beaches, in hopes that they will find more food. Sometimes they euthanize the animals.

sea lion pups

Last year, persistent readers will recall, I wrote about starving pelicans here on the Northern CA coast. Pelicans and sea lions both eat fish, or at least they would, if they could find them. These deaths are not the result of some exotic new disease spreading through the ecosystem. These deaths indicate a precipitous drop in the ocean’s fecundity. It’s a very bad sign. I don’t want to call it a “wake-up call”, because so many so called “wake-up calls” have gone unheeded, so I’ll simply call it another ghastly, heartbreaking consequence of deliberate human indifference to the natural world.

stranding rate

At least people see them. People should have to see this kind of thing. Take your kids to the beach. Show them a dying sea lion pup, starving to death on the sand. Explain to them that because we’ve replaced most of the phytoplankton in the ocean with pulverized plastic from soda bottles, shrink wrap, plastic bags, toys, medical equipment, electronic gadgets, car parts etc etc, the ocean can’t provide enough oxygen or food to support as much life as it did fifty years ago, or even ten years ago.

Rescued Sea Lion Pups At Sea World San Diego

Remember that famous scene in The Graduate, where the older businessman whispers to Dustin Hoffman one word of advice for his future? “Plastics”, he says. Around the same time Andy Warhol predicted “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable”. With the ubiquity of plastic today, it’s hard to remember a time when soda came in returnable, not recyclable, glass bottles, when they made car bumpers out of chrome plated steel instead of easily shattered plastic, and when electronic devices had metal or wood cabinets, and lasted for decades.

the-graduate----plastics

Fifty years later, an island the size of Texas, newly recognized by the United Nations as “Garbage Island”, composed almost entirely of plastic, has formed in the Pacific Ocean. Today, plastic has its own homeland, and it grows every day. Every day, tons of plastic debris finds its way into the Pacific Ocean to make the pilgrimage to Garbage Island. Over the course of decades, endless churning, salt water and sunlight slowly pulverize it into microscopic bits.

garbagepile

These microscopic bits of inorganic, non-biodegradable plastic absorb sunlight, preventing it from penetrating the ocean’s depths and choke off phytoplankton, the foundation of the ocean food chain, and the source of most of the world’s atmospheric oxygen. In less than half a century, about half of all the phytoplankton in the Pacific Ocean has been replaced by these microscopic bits of plastic.

floating plastic garbage

Oddly, considering how long plastic lasts, plastic has become the foundation of our disposable economy. Almost nothing lasts longer than plastic, and almost nothing can digest it. Yet, we produce billions of one-time-use products from it, every year. When burned, plastic produces deadly bio-accumulative carcinogenic poison, in landfills it lasts almost forever, and in the ocean, it gets ground into fine floating particles that choke out life.

algalita

No, it’s not a wake-up call. It’s too late for that. Go to the beach. Look those pups in the eye as they die of starvation, and explain to your children what has happened in your lifetime. Tell your kids that fifty years ago, they would have seen thousands of healthy sea lions, as well as seals and otters, and that there was plenty of fish for all of them to eat. Tell them that for every bird they see, there were once twenty or forty, but that they all died so that you could live a high-consumption, middle-class fantasy, and now, even that fantasy is dying.

gut_plastic_ocean_girl_project_hawaii


An Open Letter to Humboldt County 2nd District Supervisor, Estelle Fennel

I sent the following letter to my County Supervisor Estelle Fennel after hearing her make some disparaging remarks about some of her constituents.  I also submitted it to both of our local newspapers.  The Independent ran the letter, while The Redwood Times refused to print it on the grounds that they don’t print third party letters.

third party letters

The real issue is that the business owners downtown, especially the real estate agents, don’t want their customers to see poor people hanging around town.  Of course, they don’t want to admit that the real problem is declining wages and rising housing prices.  Instead, they want to blame the victims, and use taxpayer resources to drive poor people out of town, even though they constantly complain about paying too much in taxes.

pays lowest taxes

Dear Supervisor Fennel,

estelle-f quote zombie poster

As the county considers what to do with the area formerly known as “The Jim Demulling Memorial Grove”, I urge you to consider a few facts about Southern Humboldt that you seem to have forgotten:

forgotten foot

  1. Everyone in Southern Humboldt, without exception, urinates and defecates. Many, if not most of them, do it in a fashion that does not comply with county codes. As the former executive director of Hum-CPR, you actively lobbied to protect the rights of land-owners who choose to use non-standard and unapproved sanitation.outhouse-

  2. Most of Southern Humboldt’s adult population consumes alcohol on a regular, if not daily basis, and at least half-a-dozen business establishments sell alcoholic beverages in Garberville alone, to accommodate Southern Humboldt’s alcohol consumers.women-drinking

  3. Illegal drug use is not only tolerated in Southern Humboldt, it is celebrated as a proud and cherished tradition, and it has become the main driver of our local economy.humboldt weed

  4. Willits Towing and Recovery recently removed hundreds of thousands of pounds of of junk cars and other scrap metal from rural parcels in Southern Humboldt, cheerfully, and at no cost to rural land-owners, a quantity that dwarfs the amount of garbage begrudgingly, and disparagingly removed by Eel River Cleanup. As I recall, you yourself took advantage of a subsidized program to eliminate unsightly and hazardous waste from our rural environment, by bringing in over 100 discarded tires. Clearly this community tolerates people who do not take responsibility for their garbage.junk car

Were Federal, State and County laws strictly enforced, especially on the rural properties in Southern Humboldt, law enforcement would find flagrant violations of the law on nearly every parcel. While most of Southern Humboldt is poorly suited to agriculture, it is remarkably well suited to concealing ugly and illegal activity, a fact that has contributed greatly to its economic vitality.

unpermitted grow

As a public servant who represents a lot of ethically-challenged, full-time criminals, talk of “intolerable behavior” rings especially hollow. We tolerate a lot of ugly behavior here in Southern Humboldt, and a lot of people around here have grown obscenely rich as a result of it. That’s what makes this community special. I don’t think it fair to condemn the same behavior, only for those who endure poverty and have no place to go.

miss manners

If you have managed to find a way to speak respectfully with and about the rest of your constituents, you should be able to speak respectfully about the members of this community who lack the resources to secure for themselves, the privacy of a home in which to engage in the same kinds of activities as the rest of your constituents.

homeless-

If you want the poor and the young to have any respect for county government, you must first demonstrate that the county has respect for them, and their needs. As their representative, I urge you to refrain from using terms like “vagrants” to describe any of your constituents in the future. Instead, I hope you will work for a compassionate solution to the problem of greedy people, who lack compassion, intent on pressing their economic advantage against the poor and the young.

economicAdvantage_2

Sincerely, John Hardin

P.O. Box 2301, Redway, CA 95560


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