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The Exponent Problem

The Exponent Problem

2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192…

Most people find managing their own affairs sufficiently challenging. Earning a living, establishing a family, rearing children, saving for college and retirement, and dealing with illness and aging fill the days and leave little time, attention, or energy to manage someone else’s affairs.

A hypothesis: the effort required to run other people’s lives is an exponential function. If X is the sum total of everything required to run your life; running two lives is X squared; three lives is X cubed, and so on. Call it the exponent problem. For partial verification, try running someone else’s life for a day or two. See it how it works out for you and the other person.

Why do governments fail? Government is someone imposing rules on someone else, and backing them up with repression, fraud, and violence when necessary. The governed always outnumber those governing, which means the latter face the exponent problem. In the US, there are around 22 million employed by the government, and let’s add in another million who actively influence it. The US population is around 323 million, so there are 23 million rulers to 300 million ruled, or about 13 ruled per ruler. How fitting, like the 13 original colonies!

Whatever amount X of time, energy, money, attention, and other resources the rulers expend on their own lives, they must expend that X to the thirteenth power to “govern” the ruled. If X could actually be quantified and it was only 2, it would still take 8192 times the effort to rule the US as it does for the rulers to govern their own lives. Those are just illustrative numbers, but you get the picture.

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

State Property

State Property

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal wrung from the trauma of the 1930s a lasting legacy of economic and social reform, including the Social Security Act, new banking and financial laws, regulatory legislation, and new opportunities for organized labor. Taken together, these reforms gave a measure of security to millions of Americans who had never had much of it, and with it, a fresh sense of having a stake in their country.

From the dust jacket description of Freedom From Fear, The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, David M. Kennedy, Oxford University Press, (1999)

When one man’s security becomes another man’s chain gang.

The above paragraph concisely sums up conclusions about the New Deal that can be found in thousands of textbooks, histories, and articles. You can guess that the tome (it’s 858 pages, SLL has not read it) reflects the reigning academic ideology, an impression furthered by its Pulitzer Prize. Pulitzers are awarded to fans of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New deal, not critics. If the latter stood a chance, Amity Shlae’s fine critical analysis, The Forgotten Man, A New History Of The Great Depression, might have received one.

Putting food on the table has a large place in human history. So too do governments. More often than not, they’ve worked at cross-purposes. Governments don’t produce, they take. Whatever they take means less food, and everything else, for those from whom they take it.

One man’s government-bestowed security is another’s government-bestowed insecurity. There weren’t enough plutocrats to fund the New Deal. It reached into the pockets of people who were only an economic rung or two above its beneficiaries. The money taken from a taxpayer might have meant deferred truck maintenance or no trip to the doctor for his sick daughter.

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

 

The Aristocratic Illusion

The Aristocratic Illusion

They’re not as smart as they think they are.

If you draw your sustenance from the government—as an employee, contractor, or beneficiary of redistributed funds—the money you receive comes from someone who had no choice whether or not you got paid. Except for those jobs the government mandates, private sector workers’ compensation comes from employers who have freely chosen to pay it. The jobs they perform are worth more to their employers than what they’re paid, or the jobs wouldn’t exist.

Here’s a new definition of aristocrat: a person legally entitled to take money from other people without their consent. This definition focuses on what aristocrats do and have done throughout the centuries, regardless of their labels.

If you’re an aristocrat, the thought that you’re living on somebody else’s dime may cause psychological stress. All sorts of rationales have been concocted to justify this privileged position. The most straightforward is the protection racket. In exchange for their subjects’ money, aristocrats protect them from external invasion and preserve domestic order. It’s not a voluntary trade—the subjects can’t say no—but at least both sides get something from it.

However, “protection racket” doesn’t have quite the moral gloss aristocrats crave. Deities may not have been an aristocratic invention, but they jumped on the concept of divine favor to justify their position. It makes it harder to oppose the rulers if authority is bestowed by the gods or the government is a theocracy. Ultimately, regardless of rationale, the ideology always come down to: The aristocracy is superior to those they rule. The aristocrats have no trouble believing it; they have to psychologically justify their positions to themselves. The trick is to get the subjects to buy in.

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

By Imperial Decree 

By Imperial Decree 

A dangerous expansion of presidential power has gone virtually unnoticed.

Trump’s supporters can’t believe their man’s primary motivation is acquiring power. Trump’s enemies, other than Senator Feinstein, can’t believe how good he is at it. Neither side will recognize the real danger until it’s too late. Legions of worrywarts fret that an erratic, captured Trump will go off half-cocked and press a nuclear button or do something else almost as stupidly devastating. What should worry them are the precise calculations and bloodless strategies of the most ruthlessly Machiavellian president since Franklin D. Roosevelt as he further consolidates and extends his power. Given present jurisprudence, nothing in the Constitution stands in his way.

So Deep It’s Sunk,” SLL, 9/3/17

Exhibit One would be President Trump’s Executive Order Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption, dated December 20, 2017. Within various executive orders issued by Trump’s predecessors, there are provisions that would scare the daylights out of any civil libertarian who had the time and intestinal fortitude to go through them. Trump has now added to this dubious pile.

In the finest tradition of such orders, regulations, and laws, the preamble cites Humongous Dangers.

I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that the prevalence and severity of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, such as those committed or directed by persons listed in the Annex to this order, have reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems. Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets.

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

The Kids Are Not Alright

The Kids Are Not Alright

Debt initially dazzles and deceives, then it disappoints, disillusions, devastates, and destroys.

The thing governments do best is borrow. Performance varies across the range of their purported functions—warfare, maintenance of public order, provision of goods and services, redistribution, regulation—but they all go into debt. The structure of governments and their underlying philosophies also vary, but there’s one commonality. They are set up to optimize their own borrowing. Thus, central banks are essential.

There is a cottage industry devoted to the minutia of central bank personnel, policies, and pronouncements and what they mean for humanity’s future. Actually, cottage industry is not a correct characterization. No cottage industry could generate the kind of money paid to central banking’s acolytes.

After months of speculation, President Trump named Jerome Powell as the next Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. If you know why the Fed exists and how it operates, the speculation was so much dross. The Federal Reserve exists to “facilitate” the US government’s issuance of debt. Mr. Powell will do what Janet Yellen, Benjamin Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, Paul Volker, G. William Miller, Arthur Burns, and every chairperson has done on back to the first one, Charles Hamlin: make it easier for the government to borrow. All of the other candidates would have done the same.

Central banks, their fiat debt, and ostensibly private banking systems that either control or are controlled by governments (take your pick) have facilitated unprecedented global governmental indebtedness. Suppressed interest rates and pyramiding debt via fractional reserve banking, securitization, and derivatives have led to record private indebtedness as well. The totals so dwarf the world’s productive capacities as measured, albeit imperfectly, by gross domestic product figures that the comparison yields an inescapable conclusion: most of this debt cannot be repaid.

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

Pay Any Price, by Robert Gore

Pay Any Price, by Robert Gore

Empires get stupider and more corrupt as they age.

Why are US Green Berets, four of whom were recently killed, in Niger? Why does the US have at least 36 bases, outposts, and staging areas in Africa, located in 24 countries? Why does a website, TomDispatch, have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get that information, which contradicts years of assurances from AFRICOM, the US’s African military command, that the US has only one base in Africa, in the Republic of Djibouti? Why is AFRICOM headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany? How does anything that happens in Niger, or most of the rest of Africa for that matter, affect anyone’s way of life in the US? Why do we say the dead were heroes protecting our way of life when the country where they died poses no threat?

From the AFRICOM website:

The United States and Niger have a long-standing bilateral relationship. Our militaries have been stalwart allies focused on working together to deter and to defeat terrorist threats in the West African nation and across the Sahel region.

A war on a tactic, terror, can provide the rationale for anything. Terror is ubiquitous, it can be fought anywhere. Anyone who uses or threatens to use violence in furtherance of political or economic ends can be deemed a terrorist. Any “terrorist” who yells, “Death to the United States!” can be deemed a threat to Americans. Terrorism will never be eradicated, so the war against it is perpetual. President George W. Bush even arrogated the right to wage that war preemptively, before terrorists actually struck the US or its citizens. And that’s how the US finds itself in Niger, its “long-standing” and “stalwart” ally that 999,999 out of a million Americans can’t find on an unlabeled map.

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

You’re On Your Own, by Robert Gore

You’re On Your Own, by Robert Gore

ichef.bbci.co.uk

If the world seems incomprehensible now, just wait.

Within a twenty-four-hour span the Catalonian people voted 90 percent in favor of secession from Spain, despite the Spanish government’s effort to violently squelch the referendum, and a man in a Las Vegas hotel room opened fire on a concert, killing fifty-nine and wounding over 500. There’s no tangible connection between the two incidents, but they illustrate incipient forces still gathering steam that are transforming the world.

No government, military force, or intelligence unit has figured out how to stop those determined to kill large numbers of people if the killers are willing to forfeit their own lives. Nor will they. Individuals and small groups have the capability to amass and use large amounts of lethal weaponry, killing military and civilian targets in a guerrilla war, or victims on the deadly end of their random bullets or bombs.

Arguments that this can stopped by limiting access to weaponry are specious, serving only as cover for further expansion of government and curtailment of individual liberty. The trend towards cheaper, more widely distributed killing power stretches back to the invention of gun powder. Guns can now be manufactured at home with 3D printers. The cows left the barn long ago.

Standing in opposition to the forces of decentralized violence are the forces of centralized violence, governments. Catalonia offers a useful illustration. Violence was the government’s loud and clear cry that it had no other argument for preventing Catalonian succession. The wealthy region pays a disproportionate share of Spain’s taxes and gets less back than it puts in. Catalans are a distinct ethnic subgroup, attenuating any so-called blood ties between Catalonia and Spain. Suppression was only partially successful and 90 percent of those Catalonians who voted chose independence.

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

Humor is Where You Find It, by Robert Gore

Humor is Where You Find It, by Robert Gore

Looking for a good laugh? Consider the United States.

Football is a tedious game that fills three-and-a-half hours of airtime with 30 minutes of action, commercials, commentary, instant replays, more instant replays, closeups of pretty cheerleaders, and halftime pageantry. The players are paid great gobs of money but run the risk of rendering themselves concussive basket cases. The super rich owners hold up municipalities for taxpayer-funded stadiums while keeping the TV, ticket, merchandising, and concessions revenues. They’ve also climbed into bed with the federal government, accepting taxpayer money for promoting patriotism. Among other things, this requires players, who until 2009 could stay in the locker room while the National Anthem was played, to be on the field, presumably standing at respectful attention.

Presumably—aye, there’s the rub. Last season, quarterback Colin Kaepernick expressed his disagreement with certain governmental policies and practices by kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner. Since then, other players have done the same, to the consternation of many fans, including President Trump. Ratings and attendance are tanking and the crony socialist owners are caught between the rock of their payrolls’ politics and the hard place of their fans’ disgust. To borrow from Oscar Wilde, one must have a heart of stone to ponder their plight without laughing. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer group of guys and gals.

Last year’s losing presidential candidate has written a book blaming virtually everyone for her loss…except the one person who was responsible. A cottage industry has sprung up to feed this self-exculpatory fantasy, affixing on Russia as the author of Hillary’s woes. Russia “hacked” DNC computers, except technically they couldn’t have been hacked, they were downloaded, an inside job (LINK to INTel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence). The materials Russia couldn’t have hacked were given by someone, presumably whomever downloaded them, to WikiLeaks, which disclosed them.

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

So Deep, It’s Sunk?

So Deep, It’s Sunk?

If you strike the king but do not kill him, by definition your position is weak.

There has never have been a deeper deep state than the Soviet Union’s. It controlled everything: the military, intelligence, the judicial system, the rest of the government, the press, and the economy. It operated in shadows and darkness; there was no loyal opposition or media to shine the occasional light. Yet at 7:32 p.m., December 26, 1991, the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin and replaced with the Russian flag. The Soviet of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union’s declaration number 142-H recognized the independence of the Soviet republics. Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned, handing power to Boris Yeltsin. The Soviet Union and its deep state were no more.

There are still lessons to be generally recognized from the fall of the Soviet Union.

A deep state operates submerged from public view. The US deep state had to emerge in its effort to topple Trump, an emergence that screams weakness (see “Plot Holes”). The ineptitude of the effort made the weakness that much more apparent.

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

Cataclysm

Cataclysm

Collapse generally comes as a surprise, even to those who predict it.

The USSR didn’t just fail one day, as does a person who dies of a sudden heart attack or stroke. It was more like a wasting illness brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle. A physician tells a morbidly obese patient: “Your daily consumption of twelve cocktails, three packs of cigarettes, and 4,000 calories, and your refusal to engage in exercise more strenuous than walking to the refrigerator will kill you, but I can’t say when.” For both individuals and governments, certain choices are incompatible with continued existence, and the Soviet government made plenty of those.

Very few people foresaw its failure when it was imminent, even purported experts. The small group who said Soviet communism wouldn’t work because it couldn’t work were disparaged right up until it didn’t work. However, the deck is always stacked in favor of those predicting this or that government will fail. Ultimately they all do because they all come to rest on a foundation of coercion and fraud, which doesn’t work because it can’t work.

There is both a quantitative and qualitative calculus for individuals subject to a government: what the government takes versus what individuals get back. Government is a protection racket: turn over your money and it promises physical security from invasion and crime, and adjudication and restitution in the event of civil or criminal wrongs. The quantitative calculus: am I getting more back than I put in? The qualitative calculus: what activities and people does the government help or hinder?

Protection rackets are often indistinguishable from extortion rackets, the “protector” a bigger threat to the “protected” than the threats against which they’re supposedly protected. Such is the case with the US government, as it was with the former Soviet government.

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

Start Dealing

Start Dealing

Empires have one historical constant: they fail.

President Trump likes deals and campaigned on his deal-making prowess. Negotiation requires parties who respect each other enough to bargain in good faith. It is a lost art in US foreign policy, replaced by imperatives: we tell you what to do and you do it. This makes the US government the world’s most hated institution. Negotiation poses an existential threat to a Deep State grown powerful and wealthy imposing US dominance on the rest of the world, and increasingly, the American people. Dominance implies unipolarity; negotiation implies multipolarity.

During his campaign, Trump resonated with voters and put the Deep State on alert, voicing two criticisms of unipolarity: its cost and its failures. Trump’s criticism of NATO, particularly of costs borne primarily by the US, should be an opening salvo in a wider war against the costs of US empire. The US has over 800 bases in over 150 countries. The annual expense of maintaining those outposts is substantial, and other personnel costs, high-tech weaponry, and foreign military interventions run into the hundreds of billions. (Foreign interventions are usually kept off budget by one of Washington’s beloved accounting tricks.) Total annual spending for the military and intelligence, including veterans benefits, is close to $1 trillion.

There is significant waste and corruption. The Defense Department has never passed an audit, and trillions of dollars remain unaccounted for. Most of the intelligence agencies’ budgets are “black box”—undisclosed—but waste and corruption on a comparable scale is probably a safe assumption.

All that money has bought multiple failures. The US has turned the Middle East and Northern Africa into a chaotic quagmire that has led to increased terrorism and refugee flows in the millions. Trump’s campaign adroitly played on popular fears of refugees and terrorism, but he’s maintaining the policies that produce them.

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

You Will Be Poor

You Will Be Poor

valuewalk.com

There has been a progression through each iteration of monetary theft. A trial balloon launches, usually from academia, which proposes an “innovation” contrary to reigning practice and orthodoxy. A curmudgeonly minority reject it; the majority, securing their places on the intellectual fashion forefront, excoriate the old and after a suitable time for faux consideration and discussion, embrace the new.

The public, insufficiently appreciative of the arcane language, abstruse reasoning, and self-evident erudition and brilliance of the experts, sometimes presents an obstacle. It was hostile towards the US’s first foray into monetary theft: central banking. The anti-central bank contingent won battles for 137 years, but lost the war in 1913. J.P. Morgan and cronies laid the intellectual groundwork: conferences, scholarly papers, legislative proposals, and a Greek chorus of the day’s one-percenters singing at the top of their lungs that America needed to join the civilized world and establish its own central bank.

If you understand the main purpose of central banks, then notwithstanding obfuscatory “Fedspeak,” endless media drivel, and academics’ Greek-letter-laden equations, you know all you need to know about these larcenous institutions. They exist to make it easier for governments to steal, and everything else is window dressing. Gold is finite and requires real resources to find, mine, and mint; central banks’ fiat debt can be produced in infinite quantities at virtually zero cost and exchanged for the government’s fiat debt.

Substitute central bank “notes” for gold and the resources available to the government expand dramatically. It can, in conjunction with the central bank, conjure its own money. Couple a central bank with 1913’s other “innovation”—the income tax—and lovers of government had the wherewithal for their fondest dreams, one of which was American empire. World War I, the US’s first involvement in Europe’s wars, followed close after 1913’s depredations, notwithstanding President Wilson’s vow to stay out in his 1916 reelection campaign.

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

Corrupt and Deranged

Corrupt and Deranged

Contemporary governance embodies corruption within deranged systems resting on foundations of theft and fraud. Corruption makes reform impossible; derangement assures eventual collapse.

“Defense” spending is a misnomer. The US could defend itself at a small fraction of what it spends on its military and intelligence. The US government’s foreign intervention and maintenance of a confederated empire are actually a welfare and transfer payment program. Spending has become the point: maximizing the payoff to military and intelligence contractors, their think tanks and lobbying arms, captured politicians, and the vast bureaucracies. Winning wars doesn’t serve the interests of those beneficiaries, lengthy and inconclusive engagements do.

The war on terrorism is a mother lode. The enemy is whomever the government deems it to be, wherever the government chooses to fight it. The war itself creates more terrorism. Victory cannot be defined; the war will go on as long as the current ideology remains in place. It enriches the military-intelligence-industrial complex, but a war-without-end welfare program is clearly deranged, a fitting target of satire. It will continue indefinitely because its beneficiaries have far more incentive and resources to promote their interests than the rest of us have in promoting peace.

Politicians use other people’s money to line their own pockets and buy votes; recipients accept the largess and become dependent on it. There is no limit to demands that the government fund “needs,” and no limit on the political willingness to meet those demands. It is testament to this lack of limits that the world’s richest countries cannot fund the demand for redistributive largess from their countries’ own resources. Aggregated, they have accumulated the largest debt load in history, far beyond their ability to repay it.

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

Castrated

Castrated

Take away Saudi Arabia’s oil and all that’s left are a couple of Islamic shrines and a lot of sand and hot air.

After three decades of internecine war, Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, allied with the fundamentalist Wahhabist Islamic sect, consolidated the House of Saud’s dominance over Arabia in 1932 with the tacit support of regional imperial power Great Britain. The bedrock of the Saudi Arabian economy, the massive pool of oil in the Al-Hasa region along the Persian Gulf coast, was discovered in 1938 and development began in 1941. Towards the end of World War II, President Roosevelt and Abdul-Aziz reached a handshake deal that has governed relations between the two nations ever since: Saudi Arabia would guarantee the flow of oil to the US at a reasonable price; the US would protect the Saud regime.

Like so many born into wealth, the House of Saud has mistaken fortuitous circumstances for divine favor, haughtily condescending to a world that goes along with its pretensions because of its oil. Saudi Arabia is dependent for its security and armaments on the west, particularly the US. No particular skill is necessary to extract (its reserves are among the world’s shallowest and easiest to tap), transport, or export its oil. It exports most of its oil because it has little industry, although its riches have made it a financial center and funded one of the world’s most generous welfare states. Much of the actual labor is performed by immigrants. The partial diversion of oil revenues has kept the non-House of Saud population pacified.

Oil has made the House of Saud one of the wealthiest extended clans in the world. It retains this privileged position by virtue of US military and intelligence support and its relationship with the Wahhabist clerics.

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

Panama is Small Change

Panama is Small Change

There is a conspiracy engaging in theft, counterfeiting, fraud, extortion, blackmail, bribery, influence peddling, drugs, terrorism, and war that makes the Panama Papers’ exposures look like a small-town police blotter account of juvenile shoplifting. This criminal enterprise launders trillions, not billions, of dollars; it involves major political, business, financial, academic, and media figures in the US and around the globe, and it has perpetrated its crimes far longer than Mossack Fonseca’s clients’ have hid their money and illicit activities.

The dark conspiracy is the US Government. It takes over $3 trillion a year in taxes. Anyone who refuses to pay is sent to jail. Stealing one dollar out of every six the US economy produces is insufficient for its purposes, so it borrows anywhere from $500 billion to over $1 trillion a year. Future interest payments and principle repayment add to the involuntary obligations imposed on the productive…and their children and grandchildren.

The law forces its populace to accept pieces of paper and computer entries—irredeemable for anything more valuable than identical pieces of paper and computer entries—as “legal tender.” The government creates said paper and entries at will. Their value, such as is, rests on compulsion and unenforceable promises by the government not to create too many of them. Such promises have invariably been broken, and a dollar has about 4 percent of the purchasing power it had in 1913 when the central bank was established. That 96 percent depreciation counts as more theft; the government is the primary beneficiary from currency depreciation.

Every conspiracy needs accomplices. With stolen and counterfeit funds, the government bribes millions. Their acquiescence makes them complicit: money for votes. Nothing is as nauseating as thieves demonstrating their “virtue” by using stolen funds to maintain themselves in power. Of course they keep a generous portion of what they steal; the Washington metropolitan area is the richest in the country.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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