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The Failure of Central Banking: Politics

The Failure of Central Banking: Politics

The view was generally held that centralization of banking would inevitably result in one of two alternatives: either complete government control, which meant politics in banking, or control by ‘Wall Street,’ which meant banking in politics.

– Paul Warburg, 1930

The idea of the central bank was born in the Middle Ages, when failures of the largest merchant banks of that era, founded by the Bardi and Peruzzi families, shocked the Italian City-State of Florence in 1343 and 1346. These financial crises gave birth to the idea that the commercial banking sector would need a “liquidity backstop,” i.e., an entity that could lend to private financial institutions in trouble. This was the original aim of central banks: to act as piggy banks for solvent commercial banks with temporary liquidity problems.

The first central bank that resembled the modern ones emerged in 1609, when the Dutch empire created an exchange bank, Wisselbank, to convert foreign coins into domestic currency. The central bank of Sweden, the Riksbanken, was created in 1668, and the Bank of England (BoE) in 1694. These were mostly servants of rulers and governments. But the really big twist came in 1914, when the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank was created. Its creation was mired with worries that it might socialize the economy.

To calm these fears, the power of the Fed to issue legal tender (currency) was restricted by both the “real bills doctrine” and the gold standard. The real bills doctrine stated that the Fed could only extend credit and thus increase the supply of money against collateral that already had established value through a “commercial transaction.” This meant that the value of the collateral could not be in the future effectively banning, e.g., the monetization of the federal debt…

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Politics Is Dead, Here’s What Killed It

Politics Is Dead, Here’s What Killed It

Here’s “politics” in America now: come with mega-millions or don’t even bother to show up.

Representational democracy–a.k.a. politics as a solution to social and economic problems–has passed away. It did not die a natural death. Politics developed a cancer very early in life (circa the early 1800s), caused by wealth outweighing public opinion. This cancer spread slowly but metastasized in the past few decades, spreading to every nook and cranny of our society and economy as “democracy” devolved into an invitation-only auction of elections and political favors.

Politics might have had a fighting chance but three forces betrayed the nation and its citizenry.

1. The Federal Reserve transferred trillions of dollars of unearned wealth into the feeding troughs of the super-wealthy and corporations, vastly increasing the wealth the top 0.01% had to buy elections and favors. The Federal Reserve cloaked its treachery with jargon– quantitative easing, stimulus, etc.–and then stabbed the nation’s representational democracy in the back.

2. The Supreme Court betrayed the nation’s representative democracy by labeling corporations buying elections and political favors a form of “free speech.” (Please don’t hurt yourself laughing too hard.) The Supreme Court’s equating wealth buying elections and favors with individual citizens’ sacrosanct right of free speech was a knife in the back of the nation and its citizenry.

3. The two political parties betrayed their traditional voter bases to kneel at the altar of corporate / elite wealth, wealth which bought elections and political favors. The Democrats, traditional champions of the workforce in the 20th century, abandoned workers in favor of serving their corporate masters, masking their betrayal with fine-sounding phrases.

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The End Of Venezuela’s Oil Era

The End Of Venezuela’s Oil Era

Venezuela, once Latin America’s largest oil producer and a founding member of OPEC, has seen its economically vital oil industry collapse triggering one of the worst economic and humanitarian crises of the century. The pain is far from over for Venezuela’s people and the country’s failing economy. Before 1920, Venezuela was a poor agricultural country facing many of the developmental issues plaguing Latin America. The country’s journey to becoming a crude oil superpower, leading petroleum state, and founding OPEC member began in 1914 with the drilling of the Zumaque well in the Mene Grande field on the eastern shores of Lake Maracaibo. This was Venezuela’s first commercial oil well and it launched a monumental oil boom that transformed the country and by 1950 saw it become the world’s fourth wealthiest nation per capita. Venezuela was not only heralded as Latin America’s richest nation but also its most developed. By the 1970s, the country, which is now a socialist dictatorship, was lauded as Latin America’s most stable democracy at a time when most nations in the region were ruled by military dictatorships. By the 1980s, Venezuela’s democracy was unraveling because of a global recession and sharply weaker oil prices. These events weighed heavily on the economy, and government spending, causing the country to spiral into debt. By the late-1980s Caracas had turned to the International Monetary Fund for help. The IMF recommended market-oriented neoliberal economic reforms including savage budget cuts, primarily impacting social programs such as public health and education. When these reforms were implemented by Caracas, they triggered considerable civil unrest. The reforms also sparked runaway inflation which only worsened the suffering of every-day Venezuelans. Those events illustrated the substantial dependence of Venezuela’s economy on oil and the country’s vulnerability to weaker prices…

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Super Serious News Reporting: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Super Serious News Reporting: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Listen to a reading of this article:

Hi I’m a very serious news reporter. The Russians are controlling our thoughts with Facebook memes and scrambling our brains with invisible ray gun attacks. In other news, capitalism is working fine and our wars defend freedom and democracy. The government never lies. Here’s Bob with the weather.

It’s hilarious that people still think the Democratic Party cares about winning elections. That’s not its job, children. That’s not why the Democratic Party exists. The Democratic Party exists to kill leftward progress in the world’s most powerful nation. That’s all it cares about doing.

The Democratic Party doesn’t care about winning elections. The Democratic Party doesn’t care about promoting popular policies. The Democratic Party doesn’t care about passing legislation. The Democratic Party only cares about doing things like this:

They were always going to blame Biden’s failures on the left.

“The political spectrum has moved too far to the left. I believe this because I was told to by a millionaire with a vested interest in stifling support for socialism. Also I think ‘left’ means having pink hair and using words like ‘polycule’ in casual conversation.”

So mad at American leftists for forcing the Democratic Party to be a right wing imperialist oligarch front who nobody wants to vote for.

US troops are four times more likely to die by their own hand than in combat. They’ve figured out how to protect US military personnel from enemy fire, but not from the psychological consequences of working for the US military.

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Democrats and Media Do Not Want to Weaken Facebook, Just Commandeer its Power to Censor

Democrats and Media Do Not Want to Weaken Facebook, Just Commandeer its Power to Censor

“Whistleblower” Frances Haugen is a vital media and political asset because she advances their quest for greater control over online political discourse.

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled ‘Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower’ on Capitol Hill October 5, 2021 in Washington, (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Much is revealed by who is bestowed hero status by the corporate media. This week’s anointed avatar of stunning courage is Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager being widely hailed as a “whistleblower” for providing internal corporate documents to the Wall Street Journal relating to the various harms which Facebook and its other platforms (Instagram and WhatsApp) are allegedly causing.

The social media giant hurts America and the world, this narrative maintains, by permitting misinformation to spread (presumably more so than cable outlets and mainstream newspapers do virtually every week); fostering body image neurosis in young girls through Instagram (presumably more so than fashion magazines, Hollywood and the music industry do with their glorification of young and perfectly-sculpted bodies); promoting polarizing political content in order to keep the citizenry enraged, balkanized and resentful and therefore more eager to stay engaged (presumably in contrast to corporate media outlets, which would never do such a thing); and, worst of all, by failing to sufficiently censor political content that contradicts liberal orthodoxies and diverges from decreed liberal Truth. On Tuesday, Haugen’s star turn took her to Washington, where she spent the day testifying before the Senate about Facebook’s dangerous refusal to censor even more content and ban even more users than they already do.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The problem with climate change politics

The problem with climate change politics

Climate change bears all the hallmarks of a state-sponsored crisis, useful to shift attention from other political failures. But the absence of financial accountability which characterises government actions also introduces behavioural errors.

The absence of a profit motive in any state action exposes the relationship between governments and their electors to psychological factors. We all know that governments use propaganda and other tools to manage crowd psychology and influence their electorates. What is less understood is that governments themselves are misled by a crowd psychology in its own ranks which contributes to policy failure.

This article does not question the climate change debate itself. Instead, it examines the debate in the context of the psychology driving it. The release of government-sponsored propaganda on climate change in the form of a unanimous IPCC report predicting the end of the world as we know it is the latest example of a political and bureaucratic phenomenon, making the timing of this article apposite.
Introduction

Western economies have moved on from free markets to the point where they hardly exist in the true meaning of the phrase. Yet the state continually claims that it is free markets that fail, not government.

The reason governments fail in economic terms is that economic calculation is never part of their brief, and nor can it be. By economic calculation, we mean taking positive actions aimed at a profitable outcome. To survive and prosper, businesses and individuals must do this all the time — the only exception being when they can rely on the state to underwrite their failures, which is why established businesses encourage statist regulation to place hurdles in the way of upstart competitors. And why at an individual level there is a ready demand for state welfare.
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Commons and households in a small farm future

Commons and households in a small farm future

As I mentioned in my previous post, The Land Magazine recently published a lengthy article from me, ‘Commons and households in a small farm future’. In this post I’m simply going to reproduce the article. The version here is my original draft which is slightly, but not very, different from the one in the magazine. The magazine version is available here. If you download it, you’ll get some nice pictures and a smarter typeface.

Over the next few posts here I’m going to go through various issues raised in the article in a bit more detail. So I’ll be interested in any comments I might receive here regarding specific aspects of the article, but it may be that I respond to them in more detail as I grapple with the relevant aspects in subsequent posts. Since these blog posts are often reproduced on some other websites, let me just reiterate that your best bet for getting a response from me is to comment directly at www.smallfarmfuture.org.uk.

In many ways the article in The Land scopes out the territory of Parts III and IV of my book A Small Farm Future – Part III being ‘Small Farm Society’ and Part IV being ‘Towards A Small Farm Future’, in other words, the politics of how a small farm transition may occur. So hopefully it’s a useful preamble to the various posts to come that will focus on these parts of the book.

And so, the article:

It seems likely that the numerous and growing global problems caused by modernization and globalization will devolve into lower energy, less carbon intensive, more labour intensive, more rural and more agrarian ways of life than the ones to which we’re accustomed in the wealthy countries today…

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It’s Not A Political Problem, It’s A Propaganda Problem: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

It’s Not A Political Problem, It’s A Propaganda Problem: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

While we all fixate on electoral political solutions, the powerful focus on narrative control, because that’s where real power is at. The people who pose an actual threat to the machine are those who disrupt its narratives and narrative control agendas. Everyone else is harmless.

If the majority of a troubled population believes their political system is operating in a way that is demonstrably very different from the way it actually operates, then that population doesn’t have a political problem, it has a propaganda problem.

Berners watched the mass media actively sabotage the Sanders campaign day after day in two consecutive elections, and went “The problem is not enough progressives in government!” No, the problem is the billionaire media are constantly lying to everyone. Create a truth-based information ecosystem and politics will move toward health by itself.

As long as the ruling class is successfully using mass-scale narrative manipulation, it won’t matter what political strategies you employ because they’ll just manipulate that too. Everything we try will be neutered by propaganda until fighting propaganda becomes our number one priority. The narratives around your insurgent third party will be manipulated to the advantage of the powerful. Your progressive takeover of the Democrats will be narrative managed into impotence.

You can’t politics your way around narrative manipulation. You’ve got to make it the issue. You don’t measure how effective someone is against the machine by what their campaign platform says or what their strategies are, but by how disruptive they are to the narratives and narrative control of the powerful. If they’re not disruptive on that front they’re not effective.

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Instability

Instability

In every century the same thing happens at one point or another. Society loses the plot and gets caught up in a mania, a grandiose exercise in self delusion. It can be political, it can be religious, and yes it can be economic. Sometimes these manias are confined to regions or small groups of people, sometimes they are vast in reach and impact and have global consequences. We can all think of examples. Religious? How about witch burnings? Politics? How about Nazism? Economics? How about all the manias that had fervent believers and adherents that with the hindsight of time were completely insane? The South Sea Bubble, the Tulip mania, the 1929 mania, etc. All of these bringing about vast social instability versus the previous status quo with often disastrous consequences.

And whatever we got going here is now approaching a similar frantic delusion that appears to infect everyone.

All of these manic periods have something in common: Believing in something absolutely even though it is either completely wrong or unrealistic. Seeing reality becoming untethered.

I’ve long argued that central banks aiming to be a stabilizing force are actually bringing about societal instability. Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the storming of the Capitol, angry Trump voters, angry Democrat voters and yes even Gamestop reddit buyers may all have different causes and triggers and motivations, but they actually have one thing in common: They are angry, angry at a system that has screwed them over, a sense of deep pervasive injustice and inequality, a fissure that keeps widening with every central bank intervention program.

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Americans Only Care About America. Their Rulers Only Care About World Domination.

Americans Only Care About America. Their Rulers Only Care About World Domination.

Ever since November third the American political/media class have been keeping Democrats fixated on Trump’s post-election shenanigans with garment-rending urgency, now going so far as to call for yet another oxygen-sucking impeachment as he’s on his way out the door while millions of Americans are struggling just to meet their basic needs.

You wouldn’t know it from the dominant chatter, but Trump’s impotent attempts to reverse the election results don’t rank anywhere remotely near the top ten worst things this president has done while in office, which include vetoing attempts to end the world’s worst mass atrocity in Yemen, escalating world-threatening cold wars with both Russia and China, murdering untold tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, pushing Iran to the brink of war by assassinating its top military commander, expanding the “war on terror” and rolling back airstrike regulations designed to protect civilians.

US political discourse hasn’t reflected the fact that Trump’s foreign policy has been far more atrocious than anything he’s done domestically–and certainly anything he’s done since November–because news media coverage does not reflect this fact. News media coverage does not reflect this fact because western news media regard imperialism and mass military slaughter as normal US presidential stuff, and do not regard brown-skinned foreigners as human.

I point this out because it’s good to note, as Trump leaves office, that he spent his entire administration advancing murderous imperialist agendas which spilled very real blood from very real human beings while mainstream America barely even noticed. Their attention was drawn instead to endless narrative theater which had no impact whatsoever on the concrete actions taken by the US government’s executive branch. Their gaze was kept fixated on meaningless political drama while the war machine marched on unseen.

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The US election: perspectives from an ear of grain

The US election: perspectives from an ear of grain

With an important election looming in the USA, let’s talk for a change about politics. But since this is primarily a farming blog, I thought I’d approach it obliquely from the agricultural angle of cereal breeding. It’s obvious when you think about it…

Actually, before we even get to the cereal breeding, we need to take a step back and talk about systems of classification. Because to make any sense of things, people inevitably need to divide up their perceptions of the world, grouping like things together. But our taxonomies can rarely if ever capture the complexity of existence perfectly. Anomalous cases, fuzzy boundaries and alternative reckonings abound.

One way these imperfections manifest is in the distinction between ‘lumpers’ and ‘splitters’. Take two palaeontologists arguing over some fragments of fossil bone. Professor Lumper thinks the small differences between like bones aren’t enough to justify classifying them as belonging to different species, whereas Professor Splitter takes the opposite view. Their argument is potentially endless and irresolvable – unless there’s some agreed objective standard against which to judge their claims. In the case of evolutionary biology, that standard arguably exists in the possibility of tracing descent from a common ancestor, though that’s not going to help the professors resolve this particular dispute.

The advantage of lumping is that it enables us to see big picture stuff, the broader patterning in the world. But push it too far and it becomes overly simplistic, and ultimately vacuous – and the grounds for the lumping can usually be questioned. The advantage of splitting is that you can grasp the fine-grained detail of things. But push it too far and you get lost in pettifogging specifics that prevent an appreciation of deeper underlying patterns.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Corruptocracy

The Corruptocracy

Most political philosophy is just an elaborate justification for theft and fraud.

What’s called the silent majority is really the ignored majority, who for the most part are happy being ignored. Their lives revolve their families, jobs, friends, and community, not the media, publicity, polls, or politics. They’re sick of elections well before they’ve seen their hundredth campaign ad, received their hundredth mailer, or ignored their hundredth telephone call. They know that politicians are phony and corrupt and make jokes about them, but hope that their rulers don’t screw things up too badly, cross their fingers, and vote for the perceived lesser of two evils.

There’s a shortage of blue-ribbon pedigrees, Ivy League degrees, and gold-plated resumés among the ignored majority, but a surfeit of hard-knocks wisdom and common sense. Benjamin Franklin said, “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.” Everybody does foolish things, but by and large, the ignored majority learns from the dear school and puts its lessons to good use.

The gilded class denigrates those outside it: Hillary Clinton deploring the “deplorables,” Barack Obama saying working-class voters, “cling to guns or religion,” and Obama telling entrepreneurs, “you didn’t build that.” Yet, it consistently, almost invariably, demonstrates a complete lack of the common-sense street smarts found in abundance among those it disparages.

The quotes’ condescending arrogance rankles, but at a deeper level illustrate the real division in American politics—between the productive class and those it supports. At the intellectual level it’s the irreconcilable difference between those who believe that value can and should be conferred by the government, and those who know it must be created and produced. It’s believing or not believing that something can be had for nothing.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Five ways to ensure that models serve society: a manifesto

Five ways to ensure that models serve society: a manifesto

Pandemic politics highlight how predictions need to be transparent and humble to invite insight, not blame.
Cartoon of scientists and policymakers inspecting the inside of a black box that is outputting a policy document

Illustration by David Parkins

The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates perfectly how the operation of science changes when questions of urgency, stakes, values and uncertainty collide — in the ‘post-normal’ regime.

Well before the coronavirus pandemic, statisticians were debating how to prevent malpractice such as p-hacking, particularly when it could influence policy1. Now, computer modelling is in the limelight, with politicians presenting their policies as dictated by ‘science’2. Yet there is no substantial aspect of this pandemic for which any researcher can currently provide precise, reliable numbers. Known unknowns include the prevalence and fatality and reproduction rates of the virus in populations. There are few estimates of the number of asymptomatic infections, and they are highly variable. We know even less about the seasonality of infections and how immunity works, not to mention the impact of social-distancing interventions in diverse, complex societies.

Mathematical models produce highly uncertain numbers that predict future infections, hospitalizations and deaths under various scenarios. Rather than using models to inform their understanding, political rivals often brandish them to support predetermined agendas. To make sure predictions do not become adjuncts to a political cause, modellers, decision makers and citizens need to establish new social norms. Modellers must not be permitted to project more certainty than their models deserve; and politicians must not be allowed to offload accountability to models of their choosing2,3.

This is important because, when used appropriately, models serve society extremely well: perhaps the best known are those used in weather forecasting. These models have been honed by testing millions of forecasts against reality.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Civil War Two

America has a new manufactured crisis, ElectionGate, as if all the other troubles piling up like tropical depressions marching across the September seas were not enough.

America needs a constitutional crisis like a hole in the head, and that’s exactly what’s being engineered for the holiday season by the clever folks in the Democratic Party’s Lawfare auxiliary.

Here’s how it works: the complicit newspapers and cable news channels publish polls showing Joe Biden leading in several swing states, even if it’s not true. Facebook and Twitter amplify expectations of a Biden victory. This sets the stage for a furor when it turns out that he loses on election night.

On cue, Antifa commences to riot all around the country. Meanwhile, a mighty harvest of mail-in votes pours into election districts utterly unequipped to validate them.

Lawfare cadres agitate in the contested states’ legislatures to send rogue elector slates to the electoral college. The dispute ends up in congress, which awaits a seating of newly-elected representatives on January 4, hopefully for Lawfare, mostly Democrats. Whoops…!

Turns out, the Dems lost their majority there too. Fighting in the streets ramps up and overwhelms hamstrung police forces in Democratic-run cities. January 20 — Inauguration Day — rolls around, and the Dems ask the military to drag Trump out of the White House “with great dispatch!” as Mr. Biden himself put it so nicely back in the summer.

The U.S. military breaks into two factions. Voilà: Civil War Two.

You didn’t read that here first, of course. It’s been all over the web for weeks, since the Democratic Party-sponsored Transition Integrity Project (cough cough) ran their summer “war game,” intending to demonstrate that any Trump election victory would be evidence of treason and require correction by any means necessary, including sedition, which they’d already tried a few times in an organized way since 2016 (and botched).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canadian Protesters Cheer Trump Against Justin Trudeau

 

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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