Tough Day Personally

I just came back from a trip to the Ortho guy – had a knee injection with a gel substance (the needle is HUGE!). Naturally, I was actually hobbling worse when I left, than when I entered. Nonetheless, in another day or two, I will be experiencing the benefits of a more fluid motion in the joint. So, although painful, worth it.

Not so with the increasing pain I’m feeling in my right foot. In addition to some joint stiffness and swelling in the ball of the foot (site of the affected joint), I’m also finding it quite painful to place any weight at all on my right foot, due to painful toes (other than the Pig that went to the Market). On top of just general stiffness and soreness from driving around 10 hours (there and back) for a COVID shot, it makes me just want to sit down, prop my feet up, and do nothing.

Which makes the irritation that I felt when told I had to put on a blue surgical mask – either instead of or in addition to my normal cloth mask – understandable. The thing is, those type of masks attach via elastic bands to the ears – which, as I wear hearing aids, throws off the performance of those aids, and makes them vulnerable to unnoticed loss.

Golly, I really am getting to be a crank.

On the positive side, the sun is shining, the air is clear (not even all that bad for my allergies), and Life is Good.

The Public Service Pitch Du Jour

Hey, remember public service pitches? I do. We don’t see or hear them much any more, possibly because air time has become so expensive, whether on radio or television. At one time they seemed endless.

The one – actually, it was a family of them – that lingers most vividly in my memory is “The family that prays together stays together. / Go to the church of your choice.” If you’re not virulently hostile to religion, it seems a decent sentiment…but wait: “the church of your choice?” What if that’s an Islamic mosque, or a Satanic temple? Ought such choices to be encouraged?

Others of more recent vintage involve exhortations to enlist in the military, because the skills you can acquire will land you a good job afterward. Now, I have no beef with the military – my father was a Navy man, and I worked in military engineering for three decades – but the claim about enhanced employability runs afoul of the ugly statistics about unemployed veterans. That may have changed for the better in recent years, but there are still a great many firms that tend to shy away from hiring veterans. All that talk about post-traumatic stress disorder and how it can strike without warning has made them skittish.

How about the ones that urged young folks not to drop out of school? Back when the schools were actually in the business of educating their inmates students, that might have been a decent suggestion. Today? Well, let’s just say that the “education” provided by the “twelve year sentence” tends to be more in the direction of victimism, racialist propaganda, indiscipline, hatred of America, and exculpations for thuggery: “coursework” I’d rather not have my progeny subjected to.

Still every now and then I stumble over a PSP that really does tell us something in the public interest – which really means “in your interest to take seriously.” Here’s the one I found this morning:

Yes, it’s a “tweet.” But Mr. Kelly is saying something people should hear. The Kung Flu Panic has told America’s 88,000 governments that if they can scare us sufficiently, they can strip us of our rights down to the last iota. And so I exhort my Gentle Readers to pass it around as widely as possible. As a public service, don’t y’know.

Toxic and duplicitous.

What the Fed has been doing ever since Greenspan (the veritable “Patient Zero” of the current global $280T debt disaster) is very clever yet extremely toxic, as well as openly duplicitous.

Specifically, the Fed now prints over $120B per month (to buy $80B in unwanted Treasury bonds and another $40B in unwanted, toxic MBS [mortgage-backed securities] paper) with no apparent inflationary effect (despite the fact that inflation is defined by money supply) beyond its 2% “allowance.”

Such extreme money creation openly dilutes the USD to inflate away US debt with increasingly diluted dollars, now a desperate as well as deliberate Fed policy.[1]

It beggars the imagination that there IS NO imagination in the deep ranks of our Care Guardians. Those suckers are whistling past the graveyard and that’s ALL they’re doing. Whereas, Pilgrims, it’s Dutch Uncle time. Time for some relentless realist to announce to the country that the current political-economic-social “strategy” most closely resembles what you’d find in your freezer after a one-week power outage.

The duplicity of these financial gods is amply laid out in the article in the Notes below. The graphic therein showing how inflation is just defined away to get to the politically convenient result is beyond illuminating. If we still calculated the Consumer Price Index the way we did in the 1980s, inflation would be around 9% per that graph. But, “officially” it’s around 2% because of the way that the method of calculating the CPI has been fraudulently “revised.”

As Mr. Piepenburg shows, the inflation-adjusted return on a U.S. 10-Year Treasury would be/is very negative if we were to use the more (?) honest 1980s measure of inflation. This has the effect of making said Treasury instrument highly unattractive and making gold highly attractive. Who in his right mind would want to help the U.S. government finance its spending addiction on these terms? You see another reason here for the Fed’s lies. Somebody still buys those bonds — the Fed apparently — but for how long exactly? Powell must have Bernie Madoff on speed dial to help keep this shift show going.

Solzhenitsyn warned us to live not by lies but that is exactly how we live as a so-called nation.

Notes
[1] “The Fed’s Most Convenient Lie: A CPI Charade.” By Matthew Piepenburg, ZeroHedge, 3/10/21 (emphasis added).

“…You Peon?”

“Who are you calling a public servant…

I Thought I Was Beyond Being Stunned

     I was wrong:

     Milo Yiannopoulos, the gay man whose conservative messaging and willingness to speak the truth sparked riots on university campuses may well trigger more outrage now that he describes himself as “Ex-Gay” and “sodomy free,” and is leading a daily consecration to St. Joseph online.

     Two years ago, when Church Militant’s Michael Voris famously challenged Yiannopoulos to live a chaste life, Yiannopoulos was not defensive. Instead, he acquiesced, and humbly admitted his human weakness.

     “I know everything you’re saying, and I’m just not there yet. And I don’t know if I’ll get there,” Yiannopoulos told Voris at the time.

     It seems that he has now arrived “there.”

     Please read it all. The interview with Milo is as brave and candid a thing as I’ve ever encountered. I find myself in awe of the degree of personal honesty – to say nothing of the humility – it took for Milo, one of the most famous homosexuals in the world, to do what he has done and permit it to become public knowledge.

     I was never one to condemn homosexuals. All of us face challenges in this life. It’s what this life is for! No man is allowed to slide into Heaven without facing trials he can barely overcome. So rather than condemn them, I prayed for them – and I prayed that God would be generous toward them, for a sexual addiction can be as difficult to defeat as any narcotic.

     Frankly, I’ve never been sure that the Church is correct in condemning homosexual behavior. I know some of the reasons for that condemnation, but it always struck me as theologically shaky. What I do know is that male homosexual sodomy involves damage to the practitioner, both physical and emotional.

     But Milo’s change of heart – and soul – seems completely detached from that:

     LifeSite: Last summer you posted on Parler pictures of members of the CHANGED movement, with the caption, “Look at these beautiful souls, rid of their demons and cured of their sinful urges. Can’t you tell they’ve been saved? I can.” Are you now able to add your picture to theirs, with that same caption?

     Milo: No, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever be brave enough to declare it a thing of the past. I treat it like an addiction. You never stop being an alcoholic. As for the CHANGED movement, I guess because they’re Californian they don’t see how funny their website is, or maybe they’re dirty non-doms who think God loves you more the gayer you act, but I was slightly making fun of them with that caption. (Walker Percy was right: Modern man has two choices — Rome or California.)

     And later on in the interview:

     Milo: As you might expect, my professional priorities are shifting somewhat, given my new spiritual preoccupations. Over the next decade, I would like to help rehabilitate what the media calls “conversion therapy.” It does work, albeit not for everybody. As for my other aspirations and plans, well, no change: I’ve always considered abortion to be the pre-eminent moral horror of human history. I’ll keep saying so — even more loudly than before.

     When this article gets into serious circulation – apparently, it hasn’t yet, owing to hostility from Google and other Big Tech panjandra – it’s going to cause one hell of a noise. And I couldn’t be happier about that – or for Milo Yiannopoulos.


Every saint has a past;
Every sinner has a future.
(Catholic maxim)

Rejoining One Another

     A passage in Bookworm’s piece for today resonated powerfully with me:

     One of the things that has helped me be a nicer person is discovering that, if you ask the right questions, everyone has something interesting to tell. For that reason, I always start conversations with people — clerks, gardeners, guard gates, whomever. Saying “Hello, how are you?” as if you mean it (which I do) always gets a smile. Then, if there’s time, commenting on something that you know matters to the other person — her artistic nail polish, his looking forward to the coming weekend, her manifest efficiency, his beautifully deep voice — often sparks a conversation. My favorite thing is when I can hear the conversation continuing with other people in line after I’ve moved on.

     I very strongly believe that part of America’s falling apart is that we no longer see or speak to each other. Once upon a time, daily commercial transactions bound Americans together. At the grocery store, the butcher’s, the hardware store, etc., we’d see the same clerks and run into the same friends and neighbors. Those small interactions, repeated over and over, create a strong sense of community. I know that’s true because, for all its political leftism, that’s what life was like raising kids in Marin County. I lived in the functional equivalent of a small town, recognizing people wherever I went. Few were friends but all were friendly.

     Stunningly appropriate to these hyper-digitized times. Actual human contact is a biological and psychological necessity, one that’s become ever harder to satisfy. Indeed, there are well-documented cases of neuropathy, some involving actual Central Nervous System atrophy, that were traced to the victim having gone too long without human contact. (“If you are not stroked, your spinal cord will shrivel up.” — Dr. Eric Berne) The proliferation of ways to communicate that don’t require proximity has put many millions of us in danger of such a malady.

***

     I know he’s terribly out of fashion, but I find the wisdom of Dale Carnegie to exceed that of all the self-help flacksters of our time put together. In his most famous book, How To Win Friends And Influence People, he made many powerful points about the gains to be had from routine human contacts. Here’s my favorite of the bunch:

     I was waiting in line to register a letter in the post office at Thirty- Third Street and Eighth Avenue in New York. I noticed that the clerk appeared to be bored with the job — weighing envelopes, handing out stamps, making change, issuing receipts — the same monotonous grind year after year. So I said to myself: “I am going to try to make that clerk like me. Obviously, to make him like me, I must say something nice, not about myself, but about him. So I asked myself, ‘What is there about him that I can honestly admire?’ ” That is sometimes a hard question to answer, especially with strangers; but, in this case, it happened to be easy. I instantly saw something I admired no end.

     So while he was weighing my envelope, I remarked with enthusiasm: “I certainly wish I had your head of hair.”

     He looked up, half-startled, his face beaming with smiles. “Well, it isn’t as good as it used to be,” he said modestly. I assured him that although it might have lost some of its pristine glory, nevertheless it was still magnificent. He was immensely pleased. We carried on a pleasant little conversation and the last thing he said to me was: “Many people have admired my hair.”

     A heartwarming vignette, isn’t it? But Carnegie has something more to tell us about that episode:

     I told this story once in public and a man asked me afterwards: “‘What did you want to get out of him?”

     What was I trying to get out of him!!! What was I trying to get out of him!!!

     If we are so contemptibly selfish that we can’t radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit of honest appreciation without trying to get something out of the other person in return – if our souls are no bigger than sour crab apples, we shall meet with the failure we so richly deserve. Oh yes, I did want something out of that chap. I wanted something priceless. And I got it. I got the feeling that I had done something for him without his being able to do anything whatever in return for me. That is a feeling that flows and sings in your memory long after the incident is past.

     Carnegie’s unnamed interlocutor in the above is representative of far too many people today.

***

     I’ve been writing quite a lot about the trust deficit in America today. I tend to repeat myself when I do, because the central point is so simple and so clear. But there is something more to be said about it, even so:

Trust at a distance is harder to achieve or maintain than trust in proximity.

     Those with whom you maintain proximate contact are more easily trusted – and more easily made to trust you, you sneaky little conniver – than faceless persons at a great remove. I can’t prove it, but it’s held true throughout my 69 years. Yet here we are, attempting in our various ways to operate within a social structure that demands high levels of trust, while ever more eschewing proximate interactions with others. Is this terminally fatuous or has my watch stopped?

     The Kung Flu BS has contributed to our social malady. In a sense, something akin to normal life was made possible by our ever-evolving methods of Internet communication and interaction. America could hardly have survived the lockdowns et alii without our digital marketplaces. Yet it cannot be denied that the combination has accelerated our movement away from human contact. The same is true for that most Orwellianly-named of all phenomena, the “social media.”

     No, I’m not advocating that we should all trash our computers and our digital phones. I’m suggesting that we get out of the house and do some in-person stuff — without masks.

     The climate of fear created by the Chinese Lung Rot and the attendant propaganda will make this difficult, but if we want our society to regain its former vitality, there is no alternative.

***

     With the advice and assistance of Co-Conspirator Linda Fox, I’ve been getting into GMRS (General Mobile Radio Services) radio. This portion of the electromagnetic spectrum was originally intended for certain business and quasi-business uses, but is equally adaptable to non-commercial communications. Over the next few days I’ll complete a base-station setup with a reach of about 15 miles…after which I intend to provide inexpensive handheld GMRS units to my nearest neighbors.

     (Yeah, yeah, call ‘em “walkie-talkies” if you like. They’re a lot more flexible, and usually longer-range, than the radios that originally bore that nickname. But they’re not hard to use.)

     “Why?” I hear you ask? Simply because it will give me an opportunity to put some sinews on the bonds of our local community. I’ll call upon each of my neighbors and tell them something along these lines:

     “I’m going to have a base station powered up and listening to channel X all the time. As I’m home just about all the time, if you have an emergency and need help, you can get my attention this way. If I can’t help you personally, there’s a repeater network through which I’ll contact others. Just keep this unit charged and where you can find it should you need it.”

     You might not be in a position to do this. Still, think about alternatives that would have a comparable effect. For example, most of us have cell phones now. A telephone-tree for alerting one’s neighbors to problems or opportunities shouldn’t be hard to set up, at least if it’s kept to a couple of dozen contacts. The point isn’t that you “need” such a thing, but that by putting it together you can build community.

     It will increase your frequency of contact with those nearest to you. It will get your neighbors thinking of your block as a neighborhood, rather than just a zip code where they eat, sleep, and do their laundry between visits to “the office.” You might even make a few friends as they warm to the idea and rope in others you haven’t yet met.

     And you’ll keep your spinal cord from shriveling up.

***

     Allow me to close with a favorite old quote, from Metaphysical-Era poet John Donne:

     No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

     Now go and catch a falling star. (Or get with child a mandrake root; your choice.)

You Think You’re On Top Of The Lunacies…

     …and then something like this scrolls by:

     Black Lives Matter protesters badgered young cheerleaders while they entered the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville for a cheer competition on Saturday.

     One of the protester leaders Carmen M. Jones, who said Sunday that she stands by her comments, yelled at the girls for their “white privilege” and told one of the women with the cheerleaders that she better “make sure your kids aren’t somebody my kids are gonna have to beat up.”

     “The reason why you get to be here in these pretty little gorgeous outfits and your gorgeous hair and your gorgeous bows is because of your white privilege,” Jones said over a megaphone to the girls.

     “Breonna [Taylor] is dead,” she told the girls and their parents. “Black mothers are burying their babies while white mothers send their daughters to cheer competitions.”

     First, a mild response – oh, trust me, it’s the mildest I can compose! – to this Carmen Jones creature: No, sweetie, sorry: The reason those girls are cheerleaders and your offspring are street vermin is because the cheerleaders are pretty, feminine, graceful, and disciplined, whereas your crotch-droppings are butt-ugly, graceless, lazy, foul-mouthed and ill-mannered. And frankly, Breonna Taylor was a felon who kept company with a felon, resisted arrest with a firearm, and got deservedly shot dead for it. If she’s your current plaster saint, I expect the shrine to her is in Hell. (Mild response ends.)

     If there’s anyone out there who has even a single positive word to say about this…demonstration, I suggest he keep his hands where I can see them. I’m not in a good mood.

     This is merely one minor outcropping of the whole “white privilege” canard. Whites are America’s real victim-class, and anyone familiar with the facts can’t honestly deny it. We struggle on with little or no protest out of pride and self-respect. (Also because by and large, we’re aware of those facts and have no alternative to coping with them.) But with infamies such as this, the BLM scum turn more American whites into racists – not my sort of individualist-minded “statistical racist,” but the 200-proof article who’s beginning to see a racial cleansing as desirable – each and every day.

     Don’t expect the BLM scum to draw the moral. Not only are they too stupid and vicious to do so, their grift is making big bucks. Those are tough obstacles to overcome, short of the clarifying effect of live fire. Kyle Rittenhouse could tell you.

What Comes Of The Loss Of Trust

     “A thousand truths do not mark a man as a truth-teller, but a single lie marks him as a damned liar….Lying to other people is your business, but I tell you this: once a man gets a reputation as a liar, he might as well be struck dumb, for people do not listen to the wind.” — Robert A. Heinlein

     I’ve ranted before about this critical aspect of the degradation of American society. And of course, long time Gentle Readers will already be familiar with this quote, one of my all-time favorites:

     There is no need in human life so great as that men should trust one another and should trust their government, should believe in promises, and should keep promises in order that future promises may be believed in and in order that confident cooperation may be possible. Good faith — personal, national, and international — is the first prerequisite of decent living, of the steady going on of industry, of governmental financial strength, and of international peace. — Benjamin M. Anderson

     The vacuum created by the loss of trust is immediately filled by the darkest, all-encompassing suspicion of everything. The untrustworthy person or agency is no longer awarded any credibility. Everything he / it says or does is immediately suspected of being duplicitous and evilly self-serving. This is the state we find ourselves in today as regards the actions of government agencies:

     In 2019, a 38-foot baleen whale washed up near the Florida everglades, but now researchers suspect the individual may belong to a brand new species—Rice’s whale (Balaenoptera ricei)—that calls the Gulf of Mexico home, reports Zachary T. Sampson for the Tampa Bay Times.

     A study detailing the discovery of Rice’s whale, published last month in the journal Marine Mammal Science, suggests there may be fewer than 100 of the new species left in the wild, instantly adding the species to the list of critically endangered species, according to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration….

     “Even something as large as a whale can be out there and be really different from all the whales, and we don’t even know it,” [NOAA geneticist Patricia] Rosel tells the Tampa Bay Times. “It really brings to light the urgent need of conserving and protecting these animals in the gulf, and making sure we don’t lose another marine mammal species like we already have.”

     A “new species” in the Gulf of Mexico! How timely. Just as the Usurper Regime found itself in need of a new rationale for forbidding off-shore oil exploration in the most promising region in the world!

     Buck Throckmorton comments thus:

     Good ol’ NOAA is at it again. They’ve been busted manipulating historical temperature records to provide fraudulent climate change charts. I’m sure we can trust them on discovering a new “sub species” of giant whales in US coastal waters.

     One of the gimmicks the Fish & Wildlife Service has used to prohibit development in the Hill Country of central Texas is to classify the harvestmen (daddy long-legs) in virtually every cave as a new species. They’re the exact same arachnid, just separated by thousands of years of isolation in separate caves. I fully expect NOAA to try to suspend all oil and gas activity in the Gulf to save this newly discovered “critically endangered species.”

     Once burned, twice shy – and the NOAA has definitely been caught “adjusting” atmospheric temperature readings and falsifying historical temperature records. Given that the Usurpers are visibly determined to wipe out the fossil fuel industries, and that they’re likely to reward any agency that assists them in that effort, how far would you trust them, Gentle Reader?

     Perhaps an organized, well armed campaign to slaughter every “Rice’s whale” in the Gulf of Mexico at once, before the NOAA and EPA bureaucrats can add this “brand new species” to its list of the “critically endangered,” would clue the Usurpers in about how far we trust the “most popular presidential candidate in history.”

Between a rock and a hard place.

Or between Scylla and Charybdis is you want some pre-Oprah imagery.

So, the whole economy is a gigantic credit bubble completely dependent on artificially low interest rates, and the whole thing would be destroyed if the Fed had to raise interest rates to fight inflation, which means they won’t raise interest rates to fight inflation, which means inflation is going to win and it is going to destroy the savings of Americans.[1]

~ Peter Schiff.

No big deal, of course. Americans can just stick in their ear while the magnificent people play at running the country. The Magnificent Ones are on the threshold of that point after which there is no PR campaign and no raft of BS they can float down the river to your shoreline to remove the stink. Simply stated, they have proved that the cared about everything else except the welfare of the nation and its people. They turned our gigantic, magnificent engine of prosperity into a casino.

PS — A+ if you can pronounce Scylla and Charybdis. El linko for the back story.

Notes
[1] “Peter Schiff: The Fed Between A Rock And A Hard Place.” By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 3/9/21.

SIL-uh and kuh-RIB-dis.

What More Will It Take?

     Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honoré has proposed a permanent military guard force for the District of Columbia:

     A task force charged with making recommendations to boost congressional security after a deadly Jan. 6 pro-Trump mob assault on Capitol Hill has proposed establishing a permanent military presence ready to go at a moment’s notice in Washington, D.C.

     The security review, led by retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who ran military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, recommended establishing a permanent National Guard quick reaction force, or QRF, for all of D.C.

     “Deadly mob assault” my bleeding ass.

     The Usurper Regime’s fear of Us the People is thick enough to cut with a knife. Can this really be the presidential ticket that claims to have received 81 million votes?

     If I may cite one of my Co-Conspirators, these are not the actions of a victorious government. Indeed, every move the Usurpers have made has shrieked their fear of us. They’re moving swiftly to spin a protective cocoon around themselves. Were they confident that they have the consent of the governed, would any of this have happened?

     The so-called “riot” of January 6 featured exactly no weapons and only trivial damage to the Capitol building. Indeed, the DC police literally escorted protestors into that building and stood around for photos. Yes, a few people died – but none because of aggressive action by any protestor. If that constitutes an “insurrection” that justifies garrisoning the nation’s capital and assembling a military unit explicitly assigned to its “protection” — i.e., keeping the Usurpers safe from the aroma of us riff-raff – I can’t imagine how the Usurpers would respond to a seriously angry protest march. Nukes, perhaps?

     Please also see Linda’s piece on the emerging “crazy-ass dictatorship.” Yet few Americans have been moved to do more than complain to their like-minded friends and neighbors. If patriots don’t come up with a counterstroke soon, everything we once honored about these United States will be gone – possibly forever.

Why HR1 HAS to be enacted NOW

Because, before Harris can depose Biden, she has to be able to ram her VP replacement into the job.

As it takes a simple majority of BOTH the House and the Senate, the Leftists MUST win the NEXT election. Which, given the way they have pi$$ed off the Normals, and the determination that they will have to monitor the next election carefully, will not be possible unless they can replace real votes with fake mail-ins.

If you have a Democrat or a RINO in Congress who is up for re-election in 2024, make sure that they know they will NOT be returned unless this bill is gutted in the reconciliation process. Make it hurt. Pressure local DA’s to investigate any potential crimes – financial, ethical, moral. Dog them relentlessly, and make sure they know it will get worse.

I FINALLY Pi$$ed Off FB

Just saw this on my Facebook account.

[Sad Face]

Isn’t that a hoot!

I’m loving it – apparently, just posting a picture is such a dangerous incitement to revolt (VIOLENTLY), that they had to STERNLY warn me about it!

Should I respond to the ban by commenting?

Something New

I’ve been reading a new series of essays, by Paul Graham. Well, technically, they’re not NEW – but they are new to me.

This one has got me thinking – it’s about the way that writing is taught in schools, and what’s wrong with it (short answer: a lot). But, it also touches on what we should be aiming at when we write an essay.

Well, that got me thinking about blog posts, and how they differ from either news reports or argumentative essays.

The thing is, the posts that stick with me the longest, that have the most impact on my thinking, are NOT those that are fully structured, traditional-type essays.

They are an exercise in writing down the progression of thought, in a way that allows me to gain insight into the subject of that essay.

That’s it. Not the most polished. Not the most elegant.

Just a peek into the meanderings of one person’s thought process.

New Thought – towards the end of the essay, there is something about surprises, and how they occur, and what can come from them (some very good things).

Something else new:

I started listening to music while I write. I’m not one that usually does that; I can go for DAYS in silence.

But, I started thinking about tapping into another part of the brain, and an easy way to facilitate that access is to use a part that I don’t normally use – for me, speech/sound processing.

So far this morning, I’ve used an internet radio site to play:

  • Let’s Hear it for the Boy
  • I Want a New Drug
  • Footloose

Why, yes, I DO like the songs of the 80s! And, the music seems to tap into that memory-generating part of the brain, so, yes, playing that music is worth it – for me. Not necessarily for others.

New Thought:

Dear Heavens, I seem to be a veritable font of those today.

This one was unleashed by another essay, about money and wealth.

If I had to pick one area where the thinking of most people is hopelessly wrong, it would be in the realm of money. Most people are wage-earners. A few have run a business. Even fewer have subsisted by independently selling their labor/products in a crowded market.

Most people, when they think of investing, turn it over to other people – mutual funds, bank accounts/CDs, or pension funds/IRAs. Even the relatively independent will generally look at putting their money into traditional means, such as setting up an account on RobinHood or E-Trade, and picking from among those options.

What most do not do is consider the work of their life as an investment.

When they INVEST in training or education, they look at “things I’d be good at”, rather than the overall cost/benefit for that purchase (including the years needed to be an earner in that field).

They also don’t consider the long-term payback. Will you be able to pay for the amount that was loaned – and interest – with the income you will generate? Even after the cost of setting up an office (for medical people and lawyers)? Even if you have a large overhead (you can find out by talking to someone in your field – most will be quite candid about the huge amount paid in workers, rent, insurances, continuing education, loss of money from unpaid bills, the downsides of managed care or having to scramble for clients/patients)?

It’s relatively simple to work at a job in a related field, and get some understanding of the economics of that work, and whether it would appeal to you. Even if the person had to put some volunteer time in, it would be worth it to check whether the investment was worth the cost – for them.

At the other end of a working life, few realize that having no debt – paid-for housing, no loan/lease on transportation, some savings, and NO credit card debt – is worth more than any number of investments. And, that having a decent relationship with productive family members is worth even more (you never know when you will need that safety net). Having some skills and tools that you can use to generate a part-time income is also handy.

No amount of ‘trips of a lifetime’ will replace the comfort of knowing that you will always have a snug roof over your head, particularly in these inflationary times.

Now, what about that “gap between the rich and the poor”?

What about it?

“One often hears a policy criticized on the grounds that it would increase the income gap between rich and poor. As if it were an axiom that this would be bad. It might be true that increased variation in income would be bad, but I don’t see how we can say it’s axiomatic.

Indeed, it may even be false, in industrial democracies. In a society of serfs and warlords, certainly, variation in income is a sign of an underlying problem. But serfdom is not the only cause of variation in income. A 747 pilot doesn’t make 40 times as much as a checkout clerk because he is a warlord who somehow holds her in thrall. His skills are simply much more valuable.”

The same is true in school. Those students who have mastered skills that are valued in our society (hint: with those skills, they are ready to train for a job paying more money), will get better grades. The grades are a reflection of what valuable skills they have picked up, and how well they have demonstrated they mastered them.

Too many people look at grades as a measure of the worth of a human being. They are not. But they do reflect how well their skillset matches what others will be willing to pay for their labor.

Teachers don’t generally understand that – for most of them, “a teacher – of ANY subject/grade – is worthy of being paid the same as any other teacher with the same educational level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or doctorate) and number of years doing the job.

This is why we lose so many STEM teachers every year. Because most of them can transfer their skills to private industry, and equal or even make more than they did when teaching.

Not generally true of elementary or non-STEM teachers. They have acquired a skillset that is narrowly useful – only in schools can they make that kind of money. Just about all their education or training is not seen as necessary or valuable by companies outside of the education industry. Most would have to expand their skillset before finding a job paying a comparable amount.

With that mindset (ALL workers in a field should earn the same amount), is it any wonder that kids end up at graduation holding such erroneous ideas?

And, speaking of erroneous ideas, don’t neglect the end of the previously cited article, because what he has to say about Heresies is worth reading.

The Poison As Antidote

     This short piece at the website of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is a sharp, well focused destruction of federal welfare policy these past fifty-five years. It’s not the first, of course; many have remarked on the failure of federal welfarism in much the same fashion. Yet it serves as a reminder of something anyone with three functioning brain cells “should” be aware of:

The antidote to a poison is not more of the poison.

     I know of one other case in which the vendor of a poison promotes the poison as its own antidote: narcotic drugs. You’ve come off your heroin high and now you’re feeling as if the world is too much for you? You couldn’t take an unassisted breath, much less a step on your own? I know what will make those blues go away: Have a little more heroin!

     The pusher, of course, has a financial incentive for addicting you. Your reason for allowing yourself to be addicted is of no moment. But what’s the federal government’s incentive for fastening the welfare monkey onto the back of millions of “beneficiaries” – a demographic that has refused to get any smaller as a percentage of the U.S. population despite the expenditure of $23 trillion over 55 years on “government assistance programs:”

     James R. Harrigan tells us bluntly:

     Politicians aren’t all that concerned with solving problems efficiently. They seem always to prefer expanding the power they wield, and the government programs they create expand their ability to micromanage our lives.

     Politicians make grandiose claims about their various and sundry programs because those claims resonate with the people who receive government largesse. Not surprisingly, those claims resonate even more with the entrenched, ever-growing federal bureaucracy. But in the end, people receive pennies on the dollar compared to what they could have received had we decided just to write a check.

     In the end, our government has become a tool that politicians use to turn national problems into political power, so it should come as no surprise that they are not interested in solving problems at all.

     Charles Peters, in his book How Washington Really Works, elaborates on this dynamic:

     The Library of Congress recently studied federal agencies’ compliance with the Sunshine Act of 1976, which was supposed to open government to the public. The study found that of a group of 1,003 government meetings listed in the Federal Register, 627 were either partially or completely closed to the public. One closed meeting was held by the Federal Reserve Board to consider the design of its furniture; it was closed on the grounds that “matters of a sensitive financial nature were being considered by the Board.”

     The military is a master of this kind of subversion. When the navy was ordered to conserve fuel during the energy crisis of the early seventies, it reported that it had reduced its ships sailing time by 20 percent. What it actually did was redefine sailing time to exclude a ship’s journey from the port to the fleet at sea.

     What is this if not make-believe? Laws are passed, orders are given, compliance seems to occur, but nothing changes. Bureaucrats don’t like real change, only the appearance of change. That is why they are so fond of reorganization. Reorganization gives them something to do: redrawing charts, knocking down office walls–but nothing outside the agency, such as poverty or hunger or disease, is affected in the slightest. What does happen is that new jobs are created, almost always with higher grade classifications, which of course means higher salaries for the reorganizers.

     The reason bureaucrats like internal reorganization better than external action is easy to understand. Suppose you work in an antipoverty agency and you do your job so well that poverty is eradicated. Or suppose you work in the Department of Energy and the energy problem disappears. What will happen to you? The bureaucrat can figure that out. If he takes real action, if he’s truly effective, he’ll be out of work–he won’t survive. If, on the other hand, his action is make-believe, poverty will not disappear, the energy problem will not be solved, and his job will be safe–he will survive. Now you understand the fundamental Washington equation:

Make-believe = Survival

     A liberal might say “Well, it’s just money,” as if that money hadn’t first been taken from our pockets by a government with the power to imprison or kill us for daring to resist its expropriations. But money in the hands of the State isn’t just the ability to pay one’s worker drones:

     “Money is power.” Money in your hands is power in you. In the hands of the Government, it gives the Government power OVER you. Governments never use unlimited money for good. They quickly convert it to unlimited power. And unlimited power in any Government is oppression for all. – T. Coleman Andrews

     Lysander Spooner was even blunter, more than a century ago:

     All political power, as it is called, rests practically upon this matter of money. Any number of scoundrels, having money enough to start with, can establish themselves as a “government;” because, with money, they can hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort more money; and also compel general obedience to their will. It is with government, as Cæsar said it was in war, that money and soldiers mutually supported each other; that with money he could hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort money. So these villains, who call themselves governments, well understand that their power rests primarily upon money. With money they can hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort money. And, when their authority is denied, the first use they always make of money, is to hire soldiers to kill or subdue all who refuse them more money.

     (For anyone who wanted to know why I named my series about a colony world populated entirely by anarchists the Spooner Federation Saga.)

     But I digress. The moral of the story is plain:

Government does not solve problems.

     Which “should” have been “obvious” from the moment Rahm Emanuel said this:

     You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.

     Not enough of us were listening then. In consequence, for the poison that was killing us – a hypertrophied government that has achieved de facto control of every aspect of our lives – we accepted as an antidote a larger dose of the same…and the problems that we’d trusted government to solve continued to enlarge.

     Are we listening now?

     (See also this fine piece by our favorite Graybeard.)

Conversations

     Anyone who’s worked for or with the military is aware that it’s terminally infested with acronyms. There are acronyms for everything: in many cases because the thing’s proper name goes on for days; in others, simply because of what you might call a tradition of acronyming. In consequence, one who has spent several decades doing military work will have a head full of acronyms that he cannot dislodge…and a tendency to apply the military’s translation to any three or four-letter acronym he stumbles over. Hence the following exchange just this morning.

FWP: Josephites today?
CSO: Uh-huh.
FWP: Normal day?
CSO: Maybe not. I have to get the NRRO report completed.

     A bit of context is required here. Beth, a.k.a. the Curmudgeon’s Significant Other, works as an accountant, financial planner, and administrative expert for orders of Catholic clergy and nuns. The correct expansion of “NRRO” as she uses it above is “National Religious Retirement Organization.”

FWP: Oh, of course. Got to keep the Radar Reconnaissance Office properly updated, eh?
CSO: Yup.
FWP: Still, with the radars getting smarter every day, you’d think they’d have that report automated by now.
CSO: Why don’t you offer to do that for them, Mr. Retired Super Engineer With Time On His Hands?
FWP: Ah, I have to perform open-heart surgery this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow.

     You see, Gentle Reader, one never really leaves a career in military engineering completely behind. But while the drawbacks are obvious, the pay is good and the job security is even better. Besides, in what other occupation do the practitioners get complimentary grenades, discounted claymores, and admission to auctions of reconditioned Vulcan cannons? Recommend it to your spratlings!

America: Default Alive, or Default Dead?

I read a lot. Mostly blogs, for the breadth of content. And, what I have found most interesting about that reading is the links.

The links are an indicator of what that blogger was reading/thinking about, when they decided to put down those thoughts. In essence, the links are a cookie trail to what inspired that thinking.

Some of the link go to a book – often, one that they didn’t write (not self-promotion). More often, they go to either a factual story, or to a relatively obscure blogger.

Like this blogger.

One of his stories focused on startups, and how to tell if they are Alive (will continue growing, even if slower), or Dead (continuing on that current trajectory will inevitably result in “He’s dead, Jim”). In my pre-teaching career, I worked for a lot of smaller companies, and saw businesses in either of those conditions. I learned early to steer away from those on the Dead Path.

But, that’s also true of other entities:

  • Relationships – we’ve seen them, those that are Destined to Die. Their fundamentals are so unsound, that, absent a MASSIVE and QUICK change in that relationship, they are just waiting for those words, “Clear!” to enable the announcement to be made.
  • Neighborhoods/cities – you’ve seen them, many are coasting on past glories and reputations. San Francisco was like that for a long time. The rot was obvious, just hidden by the fact that their proximity to decent jobs was driving up the prices to an unstainable level (both because the average worker was unable to find affordable housing, and because the houses, assessed objectively, were much more expensive that even other urban areas). It just required a flashpoint, which the business lockdowns of COVID were, to deliver the death blow.
  • Sports teams – many of them manage to eek out a few more years, usually by hiring a superstar who – almost single-handedly – delivers a championship. But, the rest of the team is still crippled – by aging players, injuries, addiction issues, and lack of team cohesiveness (which the infusion of the superstar seems to help, because everyone is united against him). After the ‘soop’ moves on – and they ALWAYS do, as their paycheck will bankrupt the team if they stay – the team collapses. The perfect example team is Cleveland – they hired Lebron TWICE to deliver the goods, only to implode when he left.

So, what about countries/cultures? Is there a trajectory that ends up in Dead Country Walking?

Of course.

But, I would argue that America is not yet there – and, there is evidence that they have stepped off the trajectory they were on.

What has changed?

Sales – it’s the underappreciated part of business. Those who make the business look at the “suits” as overpaid and unnecessary. Surely, if you have a great product, it will virtually sell itself?

Nah.

There are a lot of products who need the salesmen/women – the people who don’t speak of the products features, but of how YOU will benefit from them – to get them off the ground floor. There are some example here that demonstrate just how massively important sales is to a company’s survival.

On killer for business is when the founders don’t have at least ONE person in that group who can enthusiastically explain just how incredible their product/service is, and push you to try it out. That’s not an unimportant function – it’s the beating heart of a business. The case of Stripe, the credit card processor, is one of those cited at the above link, and the story of its early days is illuminating.

This essay, for example, is one that has implications for America – it’s the story of a once-great company that is now operated by power-mad people resting on Apple’s past successes – sound familiar, Nancy/Chuck/Obama?

Because that’s the issue. America is run by people who care more for their perks and media stories, than the people who make up the company country. The path they are following leads to bankruptcy, collapse of the ruling structure, and economic uncertainty for the investment class – which, as it includes a LOT of retirees, makes my stomach hurt.

Eh.

I have kids. And other family. And friends. If we accept the need to work together, we may be able to get through this situation alive. Those who haven’t family, or whose friends are also old, may die out.

I’m confident that the smaller towns/cities will survive, in some form. One promising aspect of implosion of the big structures – government, Wall Street, multinational businesses, NGOs/charitable foundations – is that local efforts can be maximized, without the drain that sending money out of the community will cause. It will mean local leadership, to protect homes, trade/sell goods, care for the genuinely helpless, and other measures for the ‘public good’.

What leadership may rise up will be – as the tradition always was in America – poorly paid, or even unpaid. Perhaps they can use the time put into those jobs to earn them some in-kind donations – food, fuel, exemption from patrolling streets or fighting fires. It won’t, however, be able to make them rich.

It also won’t make them powerful. Which should do a lot to take the psychos out of politics.

There will still be ruthless people in charge. Given the need to protect a community from invasion, a little (or a LOT) of ruthlessness might be a good thing.

The cities will hollow out. Gangs of looters will be able to stay alive for years, just harvesting and either consuming or selling the stuff left behind. S’Okay. It keeps them away from the rest of us for long enough to build up defenses.

Could taking just ONE step make the collapse go away? This guy seems to think so: from the comments at the link.

Illusion, delusion, collusion, confusion, and explosion.

This all folds into the story of how for decades the monetary illusion created by central banks collaborating with governments has delayed an inevitable crisis by not dealing with reality. This means when the forces pent-up over the years finally break free events will most likely occur faster with far deeper ramifications than many people expect. When imbalances are ignored, bad things occur. When things finally blow up in the faces of those creating and promoting MMT we can expect to hear them claim it was not their fault and it was because of a general misunderstanding of the role of money and credit in the economy.[1]

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The geniuses at the central bank have such an immense understanding of the role of money that they have managed to destroy the very concept of building a nest egg over your working life. The Rule of 72 ensures that the dollar you put into your savings account will lose half its value in 36 years with an inflation rate of . . . hah . . . 2%. One half. The purchasing of the dollar under the stewardship of the wise men at the Eckles Building has gone down over 90% since the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank.

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And the people who supposedly DO understand the role of money and credit in the economy have even managed to impoverish people who live by their wages, never mind what they have under the mattress:

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Manufacturing jobs were destroyed:

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Our congressional crack whores made “debt limits” into a joke:

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Are you laughing yet?

Debt-fueled government spending soared:

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And welfare spending — otherwise known as “family destruction and crime encouragement spending” — soared:

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This is what the political class wants us to believe is “wise stewardship” and that lying, rotten, class of destroyers wants us to swallow The Great Reset they have in mind for us because, you see, they understand stuff and know how to get us out of Deep Woods. If you ask me this is shaping up into (continued) rule by dweebs, freaks, and arrogant pricks. But, I know, they care.

Notes
[1] “The First ‘Global Inflationary Depression’ Is Very Possible.” By Bruce Wilds, ZeroHedge, 3/6/21 (emphasis added).

Mush, you huskies. And roll them dice, campers.

Retirement investing used to be easy. Save money, park it in interest-bearing instruments, and live off the income, with Social Security and maybe a job pension to help. Not complicated and it worked well for decades.
But about the time the oldest Boomers began reaching their mid-60s, this thing called “interest” mostly disappeared as committees and politicians decided to favor borrowers by keeping rates ultra-low. And just like that, retirement broke. The old method stopped working.

This left retirees and pre-retirees little choice but to “stretch for yield” in riskier assets. Indeed, that was the plan. The Federal Reserve under Bernanke, Yellen, and now Powell explicitly wants investors to take more risk. It’s the other side of their desire to encourage borrowing. This is also called “financial repression.”

Mauldin: Everything Is Broken.” By John Mauldin, ZeroHedge, 3/6/21.

A Warning

     It’s gratifying and more to see the proliferation of alternatives to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. However, there’s a need for vigilance. Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics tells us why:

     Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

     This law describes a state reached by a process Conquest did not make explicit. Yet the process is fairly simple. Indeed, the following cartoon expresses it with perfect clarity:

     The Left is constantly on the alert for organizations it can colonize and conquer – because:

Organizations are places where power over others can be had.

     Thus, any new social medium will be targeted. The operators thereof will face a choice: either to enforce an absolute free-expression standard – which is now a right-wing principle – or to allow the Leftists to shout down and intimidate those in the Right. Many operators are either incapable of maintaining both freedom of expression and decorum, or are disinclined to put forth the required effort. Therefore, once the Leftist infiltrators reach a sufficient concentration, they’ll purge everyone else by one means or another.

     Some new social media are already beginning to bend to the Left’s pressure. The usual “early” avenue of attack involves demands that certain sentiments widely regarded as shameful – e.g., venomous racial prejudice; dislike of all immigration and immigrants; hatred of homosexuals – be suppressed: essentially a first step toward the imposition of “political correctness.” It’s because those sentiments are so widely condemned that they make a useful entering wedge for the Left and its censors. Far too few persons are willing to take “Voltaire’s position” under those circumstances, mainly out of fear of becoming targets themselves.

     Andrew Torba, the owner-operator of Gab, perhaps the most successful of the new media, has managed to keep the would-be censors outside the gates for the present. Whether he’ll be able to do so over the long term remains to be seen. For his efforts, he’s having trouble securing banking and payment-processing services for Gab: the Left’s other potent weapon against Rightist organizations.

     There’s no enduring solution that can be put in place and trusted to maintain itself. Determination, vigilance, and willing effort are required to keep such a community free and open – and while the operators will usually be the Left’s principal target, the users must help to defend the domain. The alternative is atomization.

How to Make Life Suck Less

I was thinking about this very thing this morning, when I ran across John Wilder’s post. I won’t excerpt it, you need to read it for yourself, along with the comments.

The thing is, terrible things do happen to people – even those who work hard to live a good life, pay their own way, give to others as they are able, and live according to their own moral rules.

Many of those who were stricken with COVID and other illnesses were victims of happenstance – just random bad luck. I’m not one that claims that ‘All is by God’s Will’. While I do believe that he cares about us, I don’t think that every step is part of a predetermined plan of action.

I think he mostly allows us to determine our own life outcomes, by that concept called Free Will. He has given us the broad guidelines for having a good life, but sometimes we – and others – screw up that path.

And, when life goes off the rails, many of us (OK, MOST) make it worse by our reactions to the crisis. We take shortcuts to ease our pain. We tell convenient lies, rather than painful truths. We slump into our worst habits, avoid the hard work of getting back on track, and complain – a LOT – about how Life is Unfair.

Duh!

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