Moneyland

Ordinary people wouldn’t want to live there. Because if you went there, there is no social life, there’s no… there’s no nothing. These… it’s almost dead environments. So what this is, it has turned parts of our major cities, places like London and New York, it’s turned them now into essentially bank accounts. Bank accounts in the form of bricks and mortar.

Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland
Fresh Air – How Oligarchs, Kleptocrats & Crooks Stash Fortunes – May 1, 2019

Trump properties have over 700 units that are held by untraceable shell companies. Tell me again how he isn’t a crook. Caveat Emptor.

A Draft vs. Mandatory Civil Service

It looks like the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is trying to get us into a war. If he isn’t trying to get us into a war, he’s stupidly making a future war inevitable, as Jim notes in the image above/right. In my opinion, this is just more Republican policy boilerplate, the part of the standard corporatist MICC approach to the world that echoes with the novel 1984 more frighteningly than the phrase alternative facts does. We are on a permanent war footing. We will be eternally at war with Eurasia or Eastasia.

It will probably be a war with Iran. They (the Republicans) have wanted to be at war with Iran since 1979. Their memories of historical intransigence on Iran’s part are more than slightly skewed towards seeing the US as the good guys in that relationship.

A good portion of this post was written in response to the OHM’s provocation of Iran two years ago, back when Jim posted the above images to Facebook. Here we are two years later, and the exact same shit is still going on. We will be at war soon if we do not remove this festering wound on the ass of America that is the entire Trump administration. These crises that have plagued the OHM since he lied his way into office will only get worse until we remove him from office.

I wanted Trump impeached the day he took the oath of office because I knew that his criminal business methods would take us to places like the one we find ourselves in now with Iran. They won’t pay him to say nice things about them, so they get punished. This article is an example of my understanding of who Trump is and where his kind of criminality would lead us to, in that I started the damn thing two years ago and it is still topical. Trump and his advisors are still trying to get us into war, a war with Iran, and Americans as a rule do not want to be forced to go to war. Can you imagine being drafted to go to war against Iran right now? This guy can,

I am in favor of a military draft with no deferments for any reason. If the risk were spread equally I think Vietnam, 16 years in Afghanistan and Iraq wouldn’t have happened. A draft is one of the few, easily observable times most of the citizenry can draw a straight line from federal government policy to their daily lives.

Facebook comment

A simple lack of knowledge about his own country’s history appears to be the fault in his thinking. He goes on to rage at great length in the comment that I replied to on Facebook two years ago, about the injustice of being forced to go fight wars he doesn’t want to fight in. The reason that the Vietnam war (known as the US war in the country of Vietnam) had such a high body counts is because the army had troops to burn. The army had troops to burn, the President and the Congress had troops to burn, because there was a draft. There had been a draft in force since the beginning of WWII, and the end of the draft in 1973, an outcome demanded by young men in response to the body counts of the Vietnam war, is probably why our leaders found other ways than war to solve international political issues for the last few generations.

Other ways? Arms reduction treaties for one. Using the populations of client states to do our dirty work was another way. Creating a mercenary, private army was also an outgrowth of the end of the draft. Jim put it this way,

Rich people don’t get drafted (see Trump et al). Connected people, even if they are drafted don’t go to war (see Bush Jr. et al). Drafts are NEVER EVER fairly and uniformly administered. In every single case, conscription become a way for the government to force the poorer part of the population to fight unpopular conflicts for the benefit of corporations.

Stonekettle Station

In all the times there have been mandatory conscription there has never been one where the wealthy cannot buy their way out, where the powerful cannot exempt themselves and their children. That simply isn’t how a draft is done. Conscription is just like slavery, and the sons and daughters of the powerful will not be allowed to be slaughtered like slaves, their parents will see to that. There is a reason conscription is not allowed any longer in civilized countries. As Jim alludes to, Old Bone Spurs himself managed to evade the draft. His personal unwillingness to die for his country doesn’t stop him from appointing people who want to take us into war and let others die in his place. After all, someone went to war in his place in Vietnam, why should this be any different? The poor are more suited to the task of living and dying violently. Let them go to war, or so the hateful bastards who currently lead this country think.

The draft will not stop the repetition of senseless wars. Even without the example of Old Bone Spurs there is plenty of other evidence to represent this fact. Napoleon proved this handily by being able to draw up conscripts time and time again for his military adventures. The reason that the USSR had such astronomical losses on the Nazi Eastern front is because Stalin had millions upon millions of starving peasants to throw at the better equipped, mechanized Nazi army. They sent unarmed, untrained civilians straight into battle, telling them to take the arms of their fallen comrades and take the fight to the huns with them. When you live in a country that is organized on social equality, every person is a number. An expendable part in a greater machine that must be kept running.

Aside from all of that. Aside from the meat grinder that is the modern military. Aside from the problems of military conscription giving the modern military more meat to grind, there is the further problem of disconnect between the average citizen and the government that works so well that it allows him to believe that he can get by without government’s help. There is something we can do to remedy these delusions and it isn’t a military draft.

Mandatory civil service.

A requirement that every young person spend two years as part of their continuing education in the civil service of the United States. As an alternative they could join the military, but only if that is their freely selected choice. Either before or after college, take your pick or let them take their pick; but there would be no exemptions from this service except for permanent mental or physical incapacity. Permanent wards of the state, in other words. With all of the menacing overtones that condition entails.

As part of their required civil service they could help out as interns in D.C. or they could go overseas as part of the Peace Corps (A thing that I was surprised to discover still exists) or they could join government outreach programs (poverty relief, healthcare, education, etc) within the US as well. This kind of not killing and blowing things up service would foment an understanding in our population of the real nature of government and the human condition as other people experience it, and it would also not require them to give up their lives for their country. They would be bound by the same code as all the other civil servants in US government employment not the UCMJ like military conscripts. It is the proverbial win-win situation.

Requiring civil service as part of being a citizen of the United States would overturn the political norm, and that is a good thing. Right now the average American citizen thinks they can get through their lives without government making plans for them, no matter how many times you point out that everything they use on a day to day basis has to be planned out and constructed by somebody. I know because until I was disabled, I was one of those clueless rubes myself.

How do you think the Tea Party started? It started because people who think they currently live without government oversight and intervention believe that ending all government would be a good thing. My former libertarian friends tried to convince me to go with them and subvert the Republican party in 2006. Back then it was part of Ron Paul’s movement. They were going to change the world. They have succeeded in getting Trump into the White House. Congratulations? Never have I been so happy as I am right now, knowing that I never contributed a minute towards the Tea Party.

But the belief that what is needed is a reformation of the political norm is well-founded if poorly understood by anarchists, libertarians and the MAGA that support the OHM. We need to change the political and social norms to the point where we all understand that voting is the absolute least that can be expected of us as citizens. We have to get to the point where we thank everyone for their service, not just the soldiers who are lucky enough to return from war. Everyone who does their part is worthy of our respect, in peacetime as well as in wartime, and everyone needs government whether they are conscious of it on a daily basis, or not.

But war is as old as humanity. You won’t end it.

That is a cop out as old as humanity. It was probably mouthed by the same people who frequented the first purveyors of the oldest profession. As I said previously, starting with the Napoleonic wars and going straight on through Vietnam, You can see how modern democracy and modern warfare exact greater and greater tolls on the humans caught in this increasingly mechanized business. All of those wars were fed by conscription that kings could never manage prior to the benefits of a popular mandate. But a dictatorship of the proletariat? The meat to grind never ends in one of those places. The OHM’s dictatorship would grind meat just like Hitler’s did, with zealots guarding his corpse at the end as whatever city he was hiding in last is reduced to rubble around them. That way lies death.

If my antagonist in that thread two years ago had read and understood the article on the end of the US draft, he would have seen how Nixon ended conscription to end the war protests. The nation would have come apart at the seams if he hadn’t ended it. And that strategy combined with his drug war allowed him to destroy the burgeoning political movements towards equality and democracy that were present in the late 1960’s. Locking us back in the same repeating domestic struggle that we’ve been in since 1865, the same one that has lasted until the present day.

Reinstating conscription like he proposed will simply drive up body counts in wars that shouldn’t even occur. Wars that wouldn’t occur if there was a world government with the ability to enforce an end to war. Something that gives nationalists like the OHM and his supporters nightmares that they wake screaming from. I hope their nightmares come true. More than that, I think that revealing the true interconnectedness that lies at the heart of human society will strip away the disguise that allows the wealthy to set the poor and middle class at each other’s throats over the scraps they leave on the table. We are all in this together whether we like it or not, and the only exit from this existence is non-existence.

How about we change the beat and see if we like the new music before checking out for the last time? Sounds like a plan to me.

Compiled and expanded from several Facebook comments.

The Amazon/Ubik Conundrum

I was aghast to discover that I had missed a Philip K. Dick novel the other day. I had shared an image on Facebook that discussed the dangers of pissing off a redhead (or ginger. This image.) something I do every day with the Wife, especially when I point out that her temper proves she is a ginger. That woman can punch hard when she thinks she’s being insulted. However, I’ve seen the carpet a few times in our thirty years of marriage. She’s a ginger. The sun lightens the hair on her head, as it does for most strawberry blondes. But the long-running argument between Red and I wasn’t the subject I wanted to discuss here. Missing from the image was one of my favorite examples of redheads that you really don’t want to piss off, and that is the potentially causality destroying character from the movie Prince of Darkness.

You Are Receiving This Broadcast As A Dream | Prince of Darkness (1987)

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

The Mourning Bride, by William Congreve

…and she was pretty pissed at the end of that film. With good reason. So anyway, another friend and fan of the ginger set said that the clip reminded him of the novel Ubik by Philip K. Dick. Having never read the book I felt I had to remedy my lack of knowledge and went directly to Amazon.com to see if the book was available on Audible. Then I could read the book and find out what it was that he thought was similar between the book and the movie.

Ever since I started getting vertigo I’ve had a problem with the repetitive back and forth motion of the eyes while reading making me tired and dizzy and potentially bringing on vertigo, So I get books on audio now. I listen to so many books that it pays off to have an Audible account. Aside from having a regular supply of books to have read to me, if I feel like I want to access the text of the book I can get whispersync from Amazon to synchronize between the audiobook and the Kindle book, and that makes the experience a win-win for me no matter how I want to learn something new.

This was one of those instances where I was tempted to get both the Kindle book and the audiobook, especially since the page on Amazon offered me the Kindle book for $3.62 as shown in the header image for this article. Less than four bucks more and I could have the book to read for myself if I felt like reading it! So I bought the book and downloaded both versions to my phone. Then I noticed something odd. The Kindle book was not in English, it was in Romansh. I don’t even know what region of the world Romansh is spoken in, much less speak it myself.

Well, that’s weird. The Ubik page on Amazon’s website is written in English and it doesn’t say anything about the other versions of the book that are listed as being in other languages. Feel free to click the link under the image and see for yourself. There is no way to find the English Kindle book short of looking specifically for the book as a Kindle book and that book is not $3.62 it’s $9.99 (free with kindleunlimited! Another fucking subscription service. Just what I need.) more than twice the price of the Kindle book I was first offered. I know what this is, even though I’ve not seen it too many times before. This is false advertising, and I’ve been taken in by it.

So I started the refund on the Kindle book in a language I can’t read and opened a chat dialog with someone at Amazon so that I could resolve the problem of being sold something that I didn’t want. What I wanted was the book in English, the language the book was originally written in, and I wanted it at the advertised price on the Ubik page on Amazon. I mean, it takes less work to port over the exact type script of the original work than it does to pay someone to translate the book into another language, edit, copyedit, format, etc. the new manuscript into another language. Why was the Kindle book twice the price?

Well, I know why the Kindle book was twice the price, as does every person who deals with the frustration of getting any book in this day and age. Amazon and Apple and just about every other digital book publisher rigs the prices of books through contractual obligations at artificially high prices where they can get away with them, and then offers bargain prices where they cannot gouge the unsuspecting customer. And after an hour or so of arguing with the representative in the Amazon chat service, they conceded I had a legitimate complaint but that they were not contractually able to offer the digital books at the same prices that they offer them at in other countries and for other languages. However, I could get a credit for the difference in price between the two books, and that was the best that they could do for me. So I took the only route available to me and accepted the credit offer. Not that it really made me happy.


Today on Facebook I was offered a memory I may have missed from June 11th, 2018. Hey, it’s been a year and four days since the Amazon/Ubik conundrum. I’ve listened to/read the book now. More than once. I know why the dream sequence reminded my friend of that book. The one unresolved conundrum here is that the webpage for Ubik on Amazon still takes you to the Romansh Kindle version even when you type “Ubik” in a fresh instance on the Amazon store. Even though I returned that book and bought the English version for a final price of $3.62 when the store credit was applied. Even though I helpfully reiterated the potential legal liability that Amazon was opening itself up to by putting a price and no stated language waiver on the combined Ubik page that you land on when you type in Ubik on their home screen.

One whole year later, still not fixed. I saved the chat session logs. I saved the page images. It’s a simple thing to reassemble the entire conundrum, so I figured I’d do that. I mean, I’ve given them a year to fix their programming and they still haven’t done it. I wonder how many Kindle books there are out there that are offered at a lower price in a language other than English, versions that are offered on landing pages when you go looking for a book by its title? Books that are not the books that the shopper is looking for, even though they are tempted to buy the books for the lower price stated, later to have to go through the exact same process I have had to go through? There’s a class action lawsuit in there somewhere for the savvy lawyer to take advantage of. Just send my children the finders fee twenty years from now when the lawsuit settles, would you?

The US Economy in Two Headlines

Here’s a quote from the first story,

Wealthy households and individuals are pouring money into asset managers, betting on companies that lose $1 billion a year, bonds from little-known Middle Eastern republics, and giving hot Silicon Valley start-ups more venture capital than they can handle.

And private equity has seen so much cashflow that firms have $2 trillion of unused capital.

Axios, Dion Rabouin, Jun 6, 2019 – Too much money (and too few places to invest it)

Here’s a quote from the second one,

“Relatively small, unexpected expenses, such as a car repair or replacing a broken appliance, can be a hardship for many families without adequate savings,” the report said. “When faced with a hypothetical expense of $400, 61% of adults in 2018 say they would cover it, using cash, savings, or a credit card paid off at the next statement,” it added.

Bloomberg, Matthew Boesler, May 23, 2019 – Almost 40% of Americans Would Struggle to Cover a $400 Emergency

43% of Texans (and about that many Americans) are poor. Explain to me again how we cannot afford to deliver a dividend to those people, the half of America that is poor, that is struggling (if you must insist on soft language instead of harsh reality) we could make them have to struggle less, at the very least. Or is suffering what you really want your fellow humans to do?

From a Twitter reply.

Technological Indigestion

“We think of capitalism as being locked in an ideological battle with socialism, but we never really saw that capitalism might be defeated by its own child — technology.”

Eric Weinstein via Andrew Yang & Vox
Stay Tuned with Preet – Mueller Speaks & The Underdog (with Andrew Yang)

There were several statements from Andrew Yang in the episode that were quoteworthy. The Vox article is quite quoteworthy as well.

“The greatest danger,” he told me, is that, “the truly rich are increasingly separated from the lives of the rest of us so that they become largely insensitive to the concerns of those who still earn by the hour.” If that happens, he warns, “they will probably not anticipate many of the changes, and we will see the beginning stirrings of revolution as the cost for this insensitivity.”

Why capitalism won’t survive without socialism

As I pointed out in the article Authoritarianism vs. Humanism and Delusion of Money, socialism and capitalism were never really in opposition anywhere aside from inside the minds of Marxists and robber barons.


The opposing force for Authoritarianism is deeper than socialism, which is why acceptance of socialism as the good is irrelevant in the long run. Authoritarianism is the godhead. The worship of absolute authority over all things living. What opposes it is just as strong, but largely unvoiced. It is an expression of the value of each human life. It is at its core humanism, the valuing of the human over the spiritual or supernatural. The movement that was spawned with the enlightenment and has been forgotten by most people today. Authoritarianism vs. Humanism


Capitalism and socialism are not in opposition. Capitalism and socialism can be present in the same mixed system because they deal with different parts of human interaction. Profit is not evil. Profit, when properly managed, is the reward for the entrepreneurial spirit. Profit, when held as an inviolable sacrement, leads to worship of the wealthy, what Objectivism has turned into over the last half-century. The Trump administration is laboring under this delusion of money. This holy profit-taking. Trump has started beating the drum of red baiting. He is promoting the same old schtick that Nixon and McCarthy did so well with two generations ago. I’ve said this from the moment that he announced his candidacy and he’s proven it daily since the broken system we live in delivered him into office. Trump believes in the zero-sum game and is right now rigging it to favor the wealthy who currently own our country. Delusion of Money

The Delusion of Money

The delusion of money is why US libertarianism has become laughable. Specifically, their conceptualization of what money is precludes them from understanding what will solve the recurring economic crises we’ve suffered over my lifetime. This is another one of those if I had a nickel moments. If I had a nickel for every time a libertarian spouts off about taxes being theft, or the poor stealing from the wealthy, or some other expression that lets the hearer know that the speaker thinks their money belongs to them. That money is something earned through work and work alone. If I had a nickel for every time I tuned one of these guys out in recent years, I’d be a very wealthy man.

When I take the time to listen to them these days, to read their arguments, I’ve started posing this counter question. What is Libertarian Socialism? They generally short circuit like a drone android calling for Norman. Libertarian Socialism, a political movement that dismisses notions of taxes as anything other than the monetary recapturing tool that taxes are, sees Guaranteed Minimum Income as a necessary function of living in large groups. Just one more movement afoot to bring economic freedom to the problem of worldwide poverty. A real solution to a real problem, not hidebound ideology and wishful thinking.

The process of discovering what money is and what its functions in human society are has lifted a veil from my eyes. And I have struggled with how to present the idea that seems so clear to me, present it in a way that will be understood by others. Understood by others who have not dropped their preconceived notions about money on the wayside. Understood by them and not simply have the argument rejected out of hand.

Year after year, when I was a libertarian, I promoted the World’s Smallest Political Quiz (WSPQ) as the way to illustrate, concretely, just how libertarians were different from liberals or conservatives. I wish I had spent that time studying economics rather than promoting fringe ideology, now. The WSPQ is a variation on the Nolan chart, a political spectrum diagram created by American libertarian activist David Nolan. The WSPQ slims down the questions asked by Nolan to ten yes/maybe/no questions, and then places people in their political quadrants based on their answers. I never understood the pushback offered by people who suggested that financial freedom wasn’t what the diagram described while I was out stumping for it. Now I can see the problem more clearly.

The Nolan chart and all it’s minor variations don’t deal with the reality of economics; and consequently, these attempts to measure political beliefs do not measure economic freedom as they claim to do. This fact makes all libertarian ideas that deal with economics flawed at the precept level, shattering the entire structure of libertarian philosophy. Shatters not just libertarianism, but any philosophy that includes the ideals of money as an individual possession. You cannot define libertarianism as different than the same flawed left/right and/or liberal/conservative political lines without a measuring stick that is separate from social freedom, and economic freedom enables social freedom more than any other kind of freedom one can imagine. The two go hand in hand (Four Freedoms) Understanding what money is, conceptually, is the first step to understanding how the systems we live in can be improved.

Money is not a thing; or rather, money isn’t just one thing. Money is not a possession, although physical representations of money can be possessed. Money is not a commodity even though it is currently traded like a commodity. If I had the last glass of water you could have all the money in the world and you couldn’t buy that last glass of water from me. That is the difference between a commodity and a currency. Money isn’t even a set value as my previous writing on the subject of money skims over. So what is money?

I’ve been bashing my head against this wall and several others for the last decade and more. It’s part of the overall arc of EPHN, my languishing work on Emergent Principles of Human Nature. The work languishes because I lack the depth of knowledge to deal with the questions posed by writing the work, not by my ability to express the ideas contained within it. The accumulation of information takes time, and so the work languishes, in a general sense. At the same time, my understanding grows about certain subjects that interest me, and one of those subjects is the delusion of money.

Money = Lubricant

Any mechanical part that moves in relation to another part of a mechanical construct, like a motor or an engine, has to be protected from the friction present when any two parts come in contact. This protection can take several forms, and even several forms at the same time. Motor oil. Hydraulic fluid. Ball bearings. Grease. Money is like these things in many ways. It reduces the friction between one side of the economy, supply, and the other side of the economy, consumption.

If you provide sufficient funds to each household to allow them to meet needs you will see how much of each product needs to be produced based on the value assigned to the product by the consumer. Thusly, money eases the acquisition of goods and services for the people who need them. Without money we are forced to barter one good for anther one, and that system has never functioned in a way that the average human found acceptable, which is why we invented money in the first place.

Then you, the money issuing authority, sit back and wait. You wait to see where the money goes. When you notice that money is pooling in areas and not being spent, you tax those pools that don’t enhance the economy, the economic backwaters that don’t serve the purpose of lubricating the system generally. You tax them because money hoarding is a corruption of the intent of the system. Money is for spending not for hoarding. Property is what you keep. If you want to hang on to wealth, invest it.

Money=Contract

Money is a third-party contract that is carried along with every other financial contract that is agreed to. Money is the underlying agreement between the people who are giving over goods or services and the people receiving said goods or services, that the compensation will be in X currency at a particular value. Anyone who has read a financial contract should recognize this language. The value of money, that money will have value at all, is an agreement between every working and consuming person on the face of the planet. When that agreement breaks down, commerce breaks down. Goods rot in warehouses. Families starve.

Money=Narrative

On the Media – Full Faith & Credit – October 12, 2018

Ten autumns ago came two watershed moments in the history of money. In September 2008, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers triggered a financial meltdown from which the world has yet to fully recover. The following month, someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto introduced BitCoin, the first cryptocurrency. Before our eyes, the very architecture of money was evolving — potentially changing the world in the process. In this hour, On the Media looks at the story of money, from its uncertain origins to its digital reinvention in the form of cryptocurrency.

Money is a collective belief in the value of a thing, a story we tell ourselves about buying what we buy and what we buy it with. Bitcoin is the essence of this narrative. It only has value because calculating entries in the blockchain is currently rewarded with bitcoin, funding all of the Bitcoin mining centers all across the world. What happens when the last Bitcoin is minted? Where will the value in maintaining the blockchain ledgers come from then? No one who invests in Bitcoin wants to know what the answer to that question is. In the meantime the story of the value of Bitcoin continues. But any currency is only as valuable as the people who trade in it think it is. If you can’t buy anything with the currency, the value of the currency is zero.

Money=Debt Obligation.

How can you make money to spend if there is no debt to create money from? This was the problem that faced the world after the crash of 1929. There was insufficient money in circulation. No one had money, and the reasons for this defied explanation according to the rules of the time. Europe needed gold to create money. Europe did what the gold standard required of them and raised taxes on their poor citizenry to the brink of starvation in an attempt to create gold reserves, creating backing for government spending that they needed in order to dig out of the holes that World War One left them in. The hordes of gold that the US held in reserve profited the American people not one bit, even though the rules of the gold standard dictated that America should be swimming in cash. Why was there no cash? Because the rules of the gold standard did not accurately describe how economics works. (Lords of Finance) FDR had to create new, insane rules, by the standards of economists of the time, to justify creating money that did not already exist, so that he could hand it out to people who wanted to work but could not find work.

Making sure that everyone has money to spend simply shortcuts the requirement that incomes will start at zero. Work is not required to generate debt, to create money. Work is how you pay off debt, and government generates money to make these transactions possible. But money is more than that, too. It is more than a lubricant that makes nearly frictionless exchange of goods possible. More than a contractual obligation that we all agree to every day when we buy or sell anything. More than a story we tell ourselves and more than a debt obligation that we must dig out from under.

T-shirt political humor. What different governments would do with your cows.
Amusing, but not true.

The disconnect over the subject of money really isn’t the fault of libertarians, they are nothing more than my target of opportunity because of their culpability in promoting the ideas that have come to dominate most thinking about money and economics in the US these days. Classical economics itself deals with the individual rational actor the homo economicus as he is occasionally referred to. Economics was set up at the outset to create the delusion of the supreme individual modifying the market with his rational demands. This has proven not to be the case, but most economists who come from the Chicago school are still caught up in the delusion. Capitalism, as classically taught, was at war with a socialism that eschewed profit. The Marxist utopia of communism. Like most utopias, Marxist communism is a dystopia that we would be better off not pursuing. However, in a general ideological sense, capitalism and socialism aren’t even in conflict. Authoritarianism and democracy are in conflict, and authoritarianism is in ascendency.

Authoritarianism has been in ascendancy since Vladimir Putin started trying to dismantle the democratic West, and China decided to help him. When there is one party, and you control that party, knowing who your enemies are makes controlling that government child’s play. Consequently these rising authoritarian regimes (including the United States under Trump) have a lot of political prisoners. Removing them into the slavery of the prison system is the best way to clear your path. This is one of those facts that should have been obvious to us in the US for a very long time. We’ve been growing the prison population since Nixon was in office, and we now have the largest prison population per capita. Most of those people are there because of crimes that were invented in order to criminalize Nixon’s political opposition, and it has proven prudent for each president since Nixon to leave those people there.

Capitalism and socialism are not in opposition. Capitalism and socialism can be present in the same mixed system because they deal with different parts of human interaction. Profit is not evil. Profit, when properly managed, is the reward for the entrepreneurial spirit. Profit, when held as an inviolable sacrement, leads to worship of the wealthy, what Objectivism has turned into over the last half-century. The Trump administration is laboring under this delusion of money. This holy profit-taking. Trump has started beating the drum of red baiting. He is promoting the same old schtick that Nixon and McCarthy did so well with two generations ago. I’ve said this from the moment that he announced his candidacy and he’s proven it daily since the broken system we live in delivered him into office. Trump believes in the zero-sum game and is right now rigging it to favor the wealthy who currently own our country.

Subscribing to the delusion of money as Trump and the average American thinks of it today is to go back in time to the days of the robber barons, when monopolies ran roughshod over Americans and the the world at large, when the simple fact that you had money meant that you had the right to rule. We don’t want to go back to those days. This is why Make America Great Again is the chant of mouth-breathing idiots. The America that they think was greater than it currently is was an America where they would have died young of a preventable disease, probably at the hands of someone like Don Jr.

To paraphrase what I said to Trump Jr: Never too earlier to teach her about conservative capitalism either.

Put her in an orphanage that sells her out to work in a coal mine. Kid that size can get into spaces an adult can’t, business can find all sorts of uses for them. You don’t have to pay them. They don’t need safety equipment. You hardly have to feed them. And if they die, fuck it, you can always get more.

Meanwhile, the Robber Baron she works for gets 99% of all the candy in the world and she and all the other kids get to split 1%.

Oh, and while you’re teaching lessons, Junior, make sure she knows her lady parts belong to you.

Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

The reason why those of us who live in the great post-WWII dollar hegemony can be so secure in our delusion of the value of our money is explained in this episode of Planet Money.

Planet Money – Episode 553: The Dollar At The Center Of The World


If you combine the dollar being the world currency with the results of moving off of the gold standard as detailed in Lords of Finance you can create a money background for yourself to muse about the current perilous status of the dollar against. Or you can be like the libertarian that I was trying to enlighten today who called out for Norman before locking up in the illogic of money being a social construct. Pick one.


If you need further examples of just how confused the problem of money is, here is another one. TED Radio Hour, The Money Paradox. I did get one response from a libertarian after writing this piece. He informed me that I wouldn’t be taken seriously on the subject of money unless I looked like a rich man. People who are wealthy don’t bother with trying to look wealthy. They don’t need to convince anyone of their wealth because they are reassured that they have wealth in simply living their lives.

Frugality is how you establish wealth. The richest woman in America ate cold porridge every morning because she was too cheap to heat it. Doing well with less is how you illustrate monetary wisdom. Not paying too much for clothing is bedrock for doing well with less. Fooling stupid people with nice clothing that you pay too much for is nothing more than a confidence game. Red ties are a dead giveaway for a schyster. Never take a man in a red tie seriously. Words to live by.

Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms. […] If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.

Gene Roddenberry

This article was posted when it was because of a conversation that was evolving on a Facebook group I’m part of. A conversation between people convinced that their personal beliefs are somehow manifested in a show they love, Star Trek in this instance, and then argue that their political beliefs somehow are justified in the show. Star Trek represents a post-scarcity economy, as several people went to great pains to explain during that evolving conversation. As expected, the notion that there could be a society where everyone gets enough to eat and has a place to sleep that protects them at night from predation, that notion is conceptually beyond the thought processes of your average Stormtrumper. This fact doesn’t change what the show’s creator set out to do.

Dear Republicans. What Does Trump’s Cock Taste Like?

This should be the question every pundit ask every Republican who won an office last night, since everyone of them swore fealty to King Trump in order to win (embroidery here) The question should be asked every time they hold a presser. It should be asked every time they are seen in public. It should be asked in front of their wives. Their children. Their families. Everyone needs to have the blatant corruption at the heart of every Republican victory last night spelled out in the most graphic, disgusting terms possible.

Trump can get away with the shit he says every day? Ask that fucking question every fucking day until they crack.

“what does Trump’s cock taste like?”

Maybe, just maybe, they’ll fucking wake up then. But I doubt it.

In the meantime. The weasel will try to squirm out of harm’s way. The OHM has already signaled that he’ll play ball with the Democrats. Nothing doing. Not unless he turns states evidence on all his Russian contacts, fires all his children, divests from all his businesses. And when I say “divest” I mean sell to the highest bidder with all proceeds going to pay off the design and construction professionals he’s screwed over the last forty years. He has to agree to replace his entire cabinet with people who will not attempt to undermine their departments. Essentially he has to agree to congressional oversight of everything in the presidential administration and he loses control of the military. He has to rubber-stamp everything the congress sends to him and he had to tell all his supporters how much they’ll love it.

Oh, and he also will have to insist on IRS prosecutions for the entire DeVos family.

If. If he does all of that, he can stay president for two more years. No running for re-election either. Take your pension, sit down and shut up after January 20th, 2021. If he doesn’t go for all of that, the anal probes start moving in on January 20th, 2019. Or he could just quit now and take his chances. It’s all up to him now. Let’s see which way the weasel runs.


I spoke too soon. Ann Coulter and the Joey Goebbels of AM radio, Rush Limbaugh, scared the Orange Hate-Monkey into demanding congress do his bidding. Build my wall with your money since Mexico won’t pay for it! Unsurprisingly the answer from Nancy Pelosi and her majority of the House has been no. Also unsurprisingly, the art school turtle, Mitch McConnell, refuses to do anything unless the OHM tells him to. The standoff cannot last, and the OHM will not be getting money for his wall from the Democratically lead house. They know what kind of thief he is already. If the shutdown doesn’t end in less than a month, I predict impeachment hearings will begin to be discussed seriously. The only thing standing in the way of the government reopening is the idiot sitting in the White House not doing the job he was elected to do. Time to fire him. #ImpeachTrump

The Fallout from 2008?

September 19th’s Indicator from Planet Money turned out not to be too surprising to me.


THE INDICATOR The Psychological Effects Of The Financial Crisis, Lingering September 19, 2018

It is not only in the housing market and mortgage market where we observe these effects. Take the stock market. Financial crisis clearly affected returns to your personal portfolio. And our calculations suggest that a person who was about 30 when, say, in 2008 the financial crisis hit will drastically reduce her inclination to be a stock market participant. And it will take about 30 years until this effect is not detectable anymore in the data.

As if 2008 was the only crash Americans who are alive today have been through. I remember black Monday. Even though I remembered that crash, I still stupidly invested in the stock market in the 1990’s. That lead to my being caught up in the .com crash. It infuriates me that they call that crash a bubble, as if it was self-revelatory that the markets would crash that time, when in fact there was no more warning that the whole market would reset that time any more than there is warning any other time the markets crash. There are only warnings if you are paying attention to the details. If you have enough money to pay people to mind the details for you.

BBC Business Daily

There were warning lights all over the boards in 2007 leading into 2008. Ask any of the analysts featured in The Big Short, if any of them will talk to you. The real estate bubble not only didn’t fully deflate after the slaughtering started on September 14th of 2008; not only did it not fully deflate, the same people who cashed in before the last crash are already re-inflating that bubble to make more money off of it. And so it goes, round and round and round. Inflate. Short and deflate. Rinse and repeat. For the the wealthiest 1% it is just a game. They have money to burn and if they lose a few millions here, a billion there, what do they care? It passes the time. So what if a few of the little fish jump out of windows or die in poverty?

I will never invest in the stock market again. That is what I learned dabbling in the stock market. Investing is for wealthy people and I will never be wealthy. The markets are rigged to favor the wealthy, this is patently obvious. Insider trading gets you a slap on the wrist, and that’s what the wealthy do. They exploit information asymmetry, one of the baseline benefits of wealth, the ability to buy the latest information and the best people to make that information tell you what you need to know. Most Americans, most people, will never be wealthy. It is time Americans learned this lesson and structured their society accordingly.

Most of them, most of us, will die poor. We have the ability to make poverty something other than a slow, miserable death sentence. If we’re smart we’ll set that system up, replacing the one we have now. 

Continuing Tragedy in Puerto Rico? #ImpeachTrump

The catastrophe that was hurricane Irma [and hurricane Maria]’s impact on Puerto Rico has now been exacerbated by the catastrophe of American disdain for the brown-skinned, this disdain having taken the form of the sitting President of the United States. Readers of the blog will know my preferred tagline for him, but it bears repeating that he is the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) which is my shorthand for the accumulated ire of white America that he embodies, and an accurate descriptor of how he is seen by outside observers.

As of this past week, everyone can see the real OHM, the one I’ve been describing since last November. This is him, coldly calculating how to stir up his base and secure victory for the Republicans and through them, his re-election in 2020; all with the final goal of allowing him to continue to steal from American citizens as he has been doing since taking office last January twentieth. Targeting the free press,

On The Media, Losing Power

Threatening to nationalize the NFL (socialized football) over a completely made up issue, players taking a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick; who was excluded from playing football this year in retaliation for exercising his first amendment speech rights during the games last year, a subject I talked at length about in Disrespecting the Flag.

He’s also gone into a full-court press promoting his latest version of Reaganomics, another piece I’ve been writing on but isn’t finished yet. At the same time as drumming up hatred for the press, for football players who have political opinions, and promoting giving himself a tax cut while claiming he isn’t doing that, the OHM is also stripping the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of every dollar he can take away from it administratively, since the House of Representatives and the Senate will not cut their own throats at his insistence and pass legislation ending the ACA, more commonly known as Obamacare. They’ve gotten the feedback from their constituents. People are scared of losing their medical coverage, and with good reason. A reason that the OHM will make perfectly clear over the next few months, which is yet another article that I’m working on at the moment now that the other shoe on the subject of health care appears to have dropped. Too much bullshit in the air, not enough time to write the words to describe it before it lands on all our heads.

All of this is going on while people are dying in Puerto Rico for lack of supplies that the OHM and his Republicans allies in congress could fix if only they cared about the welfare of the citizens of the United States,

On The Media, Losing Power

Puerto Rico is not a state, true, but Puerto Ricans are American citizens all the same. I know that the average white guy can’t tell the difference between Mexicans and Indians (natives of India, not the Americas. Stay with me here) even when they speak, but it is a demonstrable fact that Puerto Ricans are exactly the same kind of Americans as any redneck you could pull out of his truck in any Southern state. My apologies for lowering the social status of assorted brown-skinned people with that off-hand comparison.

Their status as American citizens is easily demonstrable because the law that made them citizens carries the same name, Jones Act, as the law that is being used to kill them with thirst, heat and hunger now, Jones Act. The first Jones Act, more properly known as the Jones–Shafroth Act (so much more illuminating with that name) set up the governmental authority that runs Puerto Rico to the current day. We made them citizens, we gave them government like ours, and we have controlled that island nation ever since.

We control it because of the second Jones Act, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which forbids ships that are not American ships crewed with American crews from moving freight between two American ports, functionally making it impossible to get supplies from the mainland US to Puerto Rico now without breaking the law.

Planet Money Episode 524: Mr Jones’ Act

If you want to send a bunch of oranges by truck from Florida to Baltimore, no one cares who made the truck. Or if you want to fly computer chips across the country, it’s fine if the plane is made in France. But if you want send cargo by ship, there’s a law that the ship has to be American made.

Planet Money, Mr. Jones’ Act

The OHM did waive the Jones act requirements for ten days, but those ten days have come and gone. It takes a lot longer to purchase the goods, fill the ship and move it to Puerto Rico than a ten day waiver will allow for. It was a meaningless face-saving gesture that allows the OHM to point to something and pretend that he cares. He doesn’t care and neither does his supporters who have attacked me more than once for defending Puerto Rico on different social platforms. I can’t repeat the things that they’ve said about Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans largely because I delete their offensive comments when I can and block the speaker when I can’t.

The US and the world have forgotten about Puerto Rico, ravaged by two successive hurricanes and a month later still largely without power and running water. They have forgotten but the fact that this suffering goes on largely unreported says more about Americans and their leader than any of us are comfortable admitting. We are happy to profit off the sick, the suffering of other people. Puerto Rico’s largest problem is the fact that the government there was lead down the same golden path as Greece was, with one major difference. Greece was allowed to re-negotiate their debts and will probably be given another chance to do it again. Puerto Rico is being held to account for every dollar they borrowed by greedy Wall Street bankers, and the OHM is more than happy to side with Wall Street when there is money to be directly stolen from poor, suffering brown-skinned people.

Pundits asked each other for eight years is this Obama’s Katrina? And each time it was shown that they were wrong. They were wrong because, as many flaws as there were in the Bush II (W) administration, W was capable of learning where he messed up, and Obama continued the progress that W had started with FEMA and the federal government writ large. Disaster after disaster, Obama and the federal government got better at coping with the problems, which is the way it should be.

After an earthquake shattered Haiti’s capital on Jan. 12, 2010, the U.S. military mobilized as if it were going to war.

Before dawn the next morning, an Army unit was airborne, on its way to seize control of the main airport in Port-au-Prince. Within two days, the Pentagon had 8,000 American troops en route. Within two weeks, 33 U.S. military ships and 22,000 troops had arrived. More than 300 military helicopters buzzed overhead, delivering millions of pounds of food and water.

No two disasters are alike. Each delivers customized violence that cannot be fully anticipated. But as criticism of the federal government’s initial response to the crisis in Puerto Rico continued to mount Thursday, the mission to Haiti — an island nation several hundred miles from the U.S. mainland — stands as an example of how quickly relief efforts can be mobilized.

By contrast, eight days after Hurricane Maria ripped across neighboring Puerto Rico, just 4,400 service members were participating in federal operations to assist the devastated island, an Army general told reporters Thursday. In addition, about 1,000 Coast Guard members were aiding the efforts. About 40 U.S. military helicopters were helping to deliver food and water to the 3.4 million residents of the U.S. territory, along with 10 Coast Guard helicopters.

Leaders of the humanitarian mission in Haiti said in interviews that they were dismayed by the relative lack of urgency and military muscle in the initial federal response to Puerto Rico’s catastrophe.

The Washington Post, U.S. response in Puerto Rico
The Breach: How and Why Trump Is Screwing Over Puerto Rico

When the OHM took office, all the progress enacted by Bush II and then Obama on disaster relief through FEMA and other agencies stopped. The progress stopped cold and then went into reverse. With his gutting of the executive offices under his control, and his unwillingness to take the job of president seriously outside of  his weekend golf game where all the deals happen, there is no one left to take the helm. At least Bush II didn’t brag about how good he did post-Katrina. Didn’t chastise the poor and destitute of New Orleans for asking for relief. The OHM dares to insult and scorn anybody and anything, and Republican boot-lickers in the House and Senate are all too eager to let him do whatever he wants.

If you vote for a Republican in the next election you will be supporting this hateful process and this lack of progress, too. Food for thought.


Since I wrote this article there have been several podcasts that I’ve listened to that deal with the continuing issues in Puerto Rico. I’m going to append them here, as well as any informative news articles I run across dealing with the subject. I’m also going to move the article up in the timeline so that it will be at the top of the blog when new information comes in.

LatinoUSA, Surviving the Storm

On The Media, After the Storm

One hundred days later, More Puerto Ricans have done without power, subsequent to hurricane Maria, for longer than any other storm in US history since the introduction of electricity into the US.

Rhodium Group

The outages have proved deadly, with people unable to use lifesaving medical equipment like dialysis machines, and they’ve contributed to Puerto Rico’s official death toll of 64.

As we’ve reported here at Vox, the actual number of fatalities is likely much higher, a development that has prompted lawmakers to ask for an audit. BuzzFeed also reported that there have been more than 900 cremations across the island since the hurricane without medical examination.

And electricity may not be restored fully in Puerto Rico and the USVI until May, since emergency managers are still reeling from the devastation across the United States in 2017, spreading thin reconstruction supplies like utility poles and power lines across all disaster areas spanning from California to Florida.

Vox. com

In the podcast The1A, Months After Maria, it was reported the official death toll from the hurricane remains at 64; however, statistical analysis reveals that about a thousand additional deaths occurred due to the continuing power outages on the island since the hurricane struck. This was also reported in depth on LatinoUSA,

LatinoUSA, The Death Count

The Two-Way, FEMA To End Food And Water Aid For Puerto Rico

In a sign that FEMA believes the immediate humanitarian emergency has subsided, on Jan. 31 it will, in its own words, “officially shut off” the mission it says has provided more than 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals across the island in the four months since the hurricane. The agency will turn its remaining food and water supplies over to the Puerto Rican government to finish distributing.

Some on the island believe it’s too soon to end these deliveries given that a third of residents still lack electricity and, in some places, running water, but FEMA says its internal analytics suggest only about 1 percent of islanders still need emergency food and water. The agency believes that is a small enough number for the Puerto Rican government and nonprofit groups to handle.

Displaced Puerto Ricans, now living in hotels, may soon lose housing

PBS NewsHour Apr 7, 2018, As thousands of students leave Puerto Rico, hundreds of its schools to remain closed

Army Corps of Engineers to leave Puerto Rico with hurricane recovery unfinished

LatinoUSA, Puerto Rico’s Financial Storm, Part One Jun 26, 2018

LatinoUSA, Puerto Rico’s Financial Storm, Part Two June 29, 2018

Why Is This Happening? Tracing the origins of the Puerto Rico disaster with Naomi Klein Jun.19.2018

ATTN: Puerto Rico Crisis on Facebook


The governor of Puerto Rico finally caved under pressure and asked George Washington University to do an independent study of the death toll resulting from hurricane Maria. The resulting figures were accepted as the actual death toll due to the storm’s impact.

NPR News, Hurricane Maria Caused 2,975 Deaths In Puerto Rico, Independent Study Estimates, August 28, 2018

2975 deaths is getting into 9/11 territory. It is worth noting that this is just the Maria death toll. This doesn’t include the deaths from the hurricane that swept across the island just before Maria. The Orange Hate-Monkey has not apologized for his lies relating to the human cost of Maria on the island, nor has his administration relaxed regulations to allow Puerto Rico to fully recover from the storm that struck Puerto Rico almost a year ago now.

Stupidity is Not Funny or, Laughter is a Suicide Pact?

h/t to the SGU and Reddit

I’m listening to Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World on Audible right now. I remembered reading this commentary on the celebration of stupidity somewhere online before deciding I needed to at least read the book once. The Facebook memories for today included a paragraph or two on the subject. Ah, memory hole plugged. I knew I’d read that somewhere before.

I started that status entry with,


It is a point of pride to me that I couldn’t sit through Dumb and Dumber. I never bothered to watch Beavis and Butthead; as in, ever watch. I know one joke from that series. I remember it only because I am unable to forget it.


A family member loved the show back in the day, and he and another friend enjoyed pretending they were Beavis and Butthead and would do that skit repeatedly until I gave up and laughed. Gave up and laughed, against my better judgement.

Stupidity is not funny. Stupidity is dangerous. Ignorance gets people killed. All. The. Time. Not knowing that your pool is the most dangerous place in your yard is what kills children every year. I stood outside on the deck in my backyard waiting for my now-crawling son to fall in the pool, and after he did fall in the pool I jumped in fully clothed to pull him back out. This was the third person I had saved from drowning in my life, the only time I knew that what was about to happen would happen. I knew that the baby would explore his world. I knew he would not know what to think of this thing called water and edge and pool. I knew he would probably fall in, and I watched to see if he did. When he did I was prepared to pull him out immediately, and the scare kept him from ever going near the pool again unless we were present and teaching him to swim. He swam like a fish at two or three, I don’t remember when exactly he took to water, but he was probably swimming better than he could walk for most of his childhood.

Knowing he would fall in allowed me to save his life and turn the unknown danger into a teaching moment that he carries with him to this day. Knowledge is power.

I don’t find stupid people amusing, I find stupid people threatening, and for very good reasons. Stupid drivers get other people killed. I see it pretty much every time I drive. Stupid people on their way to painful, deadly futures in their cars, and they’ll probably take someone else with them when they do that one stupid thing that gets them killed. Stupid voters elect poor leaders. It is not for nothing that MAGA=Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, this assertion is demonstrable, repeatedly. Stupid voters elected the Orange Hate-Monkey. The OHM himself acknowledges this with his damning with faint praise comment “I love the poorly educated.” Stupid leaders destroy entire nations. The OHM and his willful ignorance, his flock of the willfully ignorant in tow, are burning this country to the ground as I type this out right now. The idiots will not know they’ve destroyed the country until it is too late to save it from them, but they might as well be covering everything in gasoline and lighting the match themselves. Destruction is just about that certain.

I will not laugh at the OHM or his followers. They aren’t funny. They are threatening my life and the lives of my children, and I won’t allow those threats to go unanswered. There will be consequences for the two years of the OHM’s rule, one way or another. The stupid who voted for him need to feel this pain themselves, like discovering you are immersed in a liquid that you didn’t know was there, and no one told you how to swim before you fell in. They need to recognize danger and avoid it in the future. How will this lesson be taught? That is a very good question.

Robert Reich, How to Prevent Future Trumps, July 1, 2018 also on Facebook

A link to the radically expanded Facebook status. Laughter is a Suicide Pact is a paraphrasing Niven’s puppeteer Nessus from Ringworld.