Saturday, August 28, 2010


"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." – George Orwell

Please think back to my "There are no Coincidences in the Media" post. Please keep in mind that I am somewhat of a chess enthusiast (fanatic), and that chess is likely the most well known example of Combinational Game Theory. In any event, the Media manipulation of the population continues unabated... (During my years working in the financial markets I had the unfortunate task of trying to parse the truth from pages and pages of mindless bull sh*t, mistruths, fabrications, and out right, bold faced lies from corporate reports to the public, shareholders, and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. After a while, you get to the point where you ignore what they are trying to tell you and instead seek out from the text that which they were trying to hide or disguise.)

Please read this article(it was on the cover of for over a week). Done? Sound correct? Really? Let us take it apart, and game it a little bit.

Let us start with the title: "How Sex Hurts the Workplace, Especially Women"

Fairly broad assumption, and I am sure that in some or even many cases it is true. I think it is also fair to say that "Sex in the workplace" ("SIW") harms men as much - or more; SIW is of no help to men's careers, and in fact has become an incredible liability, and; SIW is highly useful to women. For you radical feminists or liberals, I am merely using a bastardized version of the "Prisoner's Dilemma", a common case study for introductory game theory for undergrads. Feel free to challenge my Gaming... I love to play combinational game theory and would be only too happy to engage an intelligent proponent of this propaganda! BTW, this is not an in depth analysis nor my finest work, just me rambling on a saturday morning. That could change...

The first paragraph states:

Sex in the workplace doesn't just hurt those parties involved. Sure, Mark Hurd's recent scandal produced three obvious casualties: Mark Hurd, Hewlett Packard and its shareholders, and even, to an extent, Jodie Fisher. But in the barrage of press attention since the news broke, little mention has been made of a large group of other casualties: high-achieving female executives.
Under no circumstance was Jodie Fisher harmed by anyone other than Jodie Fisher. I am curious as to what Ms. Fisher's net worth was prior to the settlement and after. If it was significantly enhanced, she must be classified as a beneficiary. Mark Hurd and Hewlett Packard were unquestionably harmed.

Paragraph 2:

Women's careers tend to stall out in upper-middle management and female executives need the support and sponsorship of C-suite men if they are to stand a chance of climbing the highest rungs of the corporate ladder. Sad to say, in the wake of the Hurd ouster, sponsorship is going to be in even shorter supply. However tangled the Hurd/Fisher narrative becomes, a large proportion of male leaders who read the story will have one and only one takeaway: "Poor guy was fired for dining alone with a junior woman. No one is even alleging a sexual relationship. How crazy is that! It makes me want to avoid ever being alone with a younger female colleague." So said one C-suite male I talked to.
Women's careers tend to stall out in upper-middle management? So what? So do those of their male counterparts. This is the way it is for 99.9% of workers. Making the final cut to the top 5 or 10 executives of a 10,000 to 100,000 employees, in technically driven companies such as Intel, GE, or Exxon usually requires significant technical training - given that less than 15% of engineers are women, and that roughly 15% of senior executive are women would seem to suggest that the representations of a "glass ceiling" are somewhat disingenuous. In the case of Physicians, women represented nearly 28% in 2006, over 30% today, and will absolutely, positively outnumber men by 2020. Is there no sex occurring between physicians, nurses, their patients, hospital administrators, etc...? Why no mention of it? Because sex between this industry's participants has no political value to the author's position. I mean come on... was it not a given in times past that a not insignificant number of the women who became nurses did so to meet a doctor? No? Take a gander through the wedding announcements of newspapers up until the mid to late 1970's. Not a few of the women's family's announced it as "Jane Doe marries a Doctor". Of course this was before the explosion in compensation in the finance industry... if it weren't so politically incorrect, such announcements would likely read: "Jane Doe marries a hedge fund manager". These marriages are a POSITIVE for society, no matter how you try to slant it.

I will not quote paragraph 3. I will comment what many feel confident about claiming is the case at the CEO level: CEO's do NOT run the company; rather the company runs the CEO. It is accurate to say that CEO's are INSTRUCTED what to do and what course to take by consultants, lawyers, accountants, and their board. They need to be able to understand the nature of their products and their markets, but in the end they are hanging on for the ride. Given that, it might not matter who runs the place... might as well be the cleaning lady. Except that the CEO is usually the company's public face and leader and number on salesperson... cosmetics (looks) matters here, too.

Paragraph 4 (here it gets good):

Research out this fall from the Center for Work-Life Policy shows sponsorship to be the critical promotional lever for women in the marzipan layer, the layer just below the top layer of management. No matter how high achieving, an upper middle-level female executive will fail to find career traction unless she is sponsored by a powerful senior executive — who, more often than not, is male and married.
Anybody know who the Center for Work-Life Policy is? What their political leanings, if any, are? I'll give you 2 1/2 guesses... Please notice the name of the Author of the article: Sylvia Ann Hewlett. Please note the name of the individual speaking for, and running, the Center of Work-Life Policy: Sylvia Ann Hewlett.

I am going to go out on a limb here... my bet is these folks are one and the same. Self-referencing to support a position completely unsupported by "Jeffers' game theory"... This is almost hysterical! You just can't make this stuff up! SHAME ON BLOOMBERG FOR publishing this Drek.

Paragraph 5:
Which is where sex enters the picture. Consider some data from the CWLP study: Thirty-four percent of executive women who participated in the survey that underlies the new study claim that they know a female colleague who has had an affair with the boss. (Indeed 15% of women at the director level or above admitted to having had such an affair themselves!) They also perceive that these liaisons sometimes yield a payoff: of those who know of an illicit affair, 37% claim that the woman involved received a career boost as a consequence.
According to the AUTHOR'S study (lololol!!) 34% (not 34.2635% ?) of executive women claim THEY KNOW that the boss was sleeping with her/their competition. Really? Exactly, how DO they know? Were they dumpster diving for used condoms? Staking out no-tell motel's? Hiring PI's to get the goods? And this stuff passes for news?? Worse, for a "study"?? WTF!!??

Here's the ONLY reason the 34% MIGHT be accurate. Note that 15% of women admitted to having "such affairs themselves". Well, it is reasonable to hypothesize that some women had engaged in such "affairs" without admitting it. Perhaps 19%? 15 + 19 gives us the 34%... I would be willing to suggest that only half of those that had such affairs were willing to admit them... Hmmm.... 37% claim the competition received a promotion as a consequence? Given the percentage of alleged affairs, the ability to blackmail men, the career boost for the 34% that HAD the affairs, and the not insignificant number men's careers destroyed by their lover's betrayals... at least not those hidden by succumbing to blackmail... it is somewhat of a mathematical miracle that only 15% of upper management offices are staffed with women... more on that later...

Paragraph 6:

Despite this apparent upside for individual women, illicit sexual liaisons often backfire and wreak serious damage in the workplace. For example, they are hugely demoralizing for teams. The CWLP data show that 61% of men and 70% of women lose respect for a leader involved in an affair. Most poisonous of all, when a junior woman is having a sexual dalliance with the boss, 60% of male executives and 65% of female executives suspect that salary hikes and plum assignments are being traded for sexual favors. This can have a disastrous effect on morale and productivity. Forty-eight percent of men and 56% of women feel animosity towards the involved couple, and 39% of men and 37% of women see a fall off in productivity as the team splinters. Talk about collateral damage!

"Despite this apparent upside for women"? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Clearly, the author is gifted in the use of understatement. Yes, Ms. Hewlett it IS apparent, isn't it? Even more so when one really thinks about it and reduces it to its possible outcomes, which, being quite limited, is really quite easy to do.... "illicit sexual liaisons often backfire and wreak serious damage in the workplace" - why does the author define them as illicit? Were these, in fact, quid pro quo circumstances of prostitution? Really??!! 15% of the corporate women in this "study" were selling sex for corporate advancement??!! Oh, my word! What about relationships that resulted in marriage, family, and children? Were there NO POSITIVE OUTCOMES for the community? Never? Has the author ever worked in a Corporate environment? For those who have not, there is a great deal of hanky-panky going on. Is it always "illicit"? Always "wrong"? If so, are only men to be held accountable? Why no mention of the countless Lawyer's that married their secretary, and the Doctors that married the nurse they worked with... Get a grip, Sylvia. People, that is men and women, have sex with the people they spend time with. Frequently, the only people corporate employees meet are their co-workers, especially when these people have located from small towns or college to New York, Chicago, San Fran....

The claims of the author in this paragraph are not only unsupported by common sense AND the scientific method.... they are indicative of the unhealthy mental state of the author and those engaging in the "study" (at least in my view, which is admittedly unsupported by the scientific method, too). What were the questions that were posed in this "study"? You don't think this author would lead her subjects, now... do you?

"This can have a disastrous effect on morale and productivity..." the author does not back up her assertions nor question how the 60% of men and 65% of women arrived at the conclusions that, in all likelihood, the author led them to in the first place. Nothing like having an agenda and then seeking data to support it...

Using the author's own dividing lines, we have 4 distinct groups...

1. Women who engage in "illicit" affairs;
2. Men who engage in "illicit" affairs;
3. Men who eschew "illicit" affairs, and;
4. Women who eschew illicit affairs.

Now, let us compare outcomes, or "game" this:

1. Women who engage in "illicit" affairs can gain promotions AS WELL AS legal settlements from these affairs, irrespective of WHO initiated the affair (please don't tell me that all of the affairs are initiated by men, women engage in seduction as well as men)... ergo, females have ZERO accountability, i.e. nothing to lose, and much to gain;

2. Men who engage in "illicit" affairs DO NOT receive promotions as a result, nor cash, nor make other gains, and have the added liability of legal and career consequences.

3. While both groups eschewing this behavior make no gains, and could be harmed by it (though I sincerely doubt to the extent claimed by the author).

Given male propensities and the rewarding outcomes to females... does any rational examination of the facts lead one to believe that SIW would ever cease as a result of punitive outcomes for men only? And is stopping sex in the work place even a desirable outcome for society? Really? Good grief, from what I read, Americans have so little sex in the first place... now Ms. Hewlett is agitating for even less? No wonder we are in such a collective foul mood...

What is Ms. Sylvia Hewlett's agenda? What motivates her to produce this nonsense? Why is Bloomberg publishing this DREK? Why isn't there more outrage at this shameless attempt to manipulate the masses?

Lastly, this is not an attack on any group or any individual other than Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Bloomberg. I can do this trick with each and every article from ALL of the major news aggregators. Each and every one of us is under attack at ALL TIMES by the agenda's of the various special interest groups and their laky's in the media. Unfortunately, these kinds of lies sway courts, other special interest groups, corporations, universities, etc... and that is exactly what they were intended to do.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Politically Incorrect does not mean Inaccurate

Observing an injustice, or a manipulation, or propaganda.... that is highly charged or politically incorrect or inexpedient does not make that observation inaccurate.

Irrespective of our personal prejudices, observations are either factual and accurate or specious and inaccurate. Remember Copernicus?

I firmly believe that each of us is responsible for our own actions - not the actions of others that may look like us, believe like us, or possess the same anatomical symmetry... nor is it a personal attack to make an observation. This is not to say that each observation's interpretation will prove accurate - that is THE beauty of the blogsphere... Intelligent folks can assemble for intelligent discussion.


Today's assertion is that the elderly in the West, and in America in particular, have ripped off the younger people, taken complete and disgusting advantage of those too young to vote, and have knowingly f***ed up the system with their well organized political special interest group(s) (and you know how I feel about special interest groups).

Here is an excellent article on one way to dismantle Social Security while maintaining the semi-worthy goal of FORCING people to save for their old age (as a Libertarian I chafe at that, but one must function in the world we live in). Forcing people to save for their OWN old age is a far more defensible position than what we now have, and that is FORCING young people to subsidize old folks lack of savings.

What stands in the way of solving this nightmare? In a word, the ELDERLY. It is truly amazing what each of us can convince ourselves of, and the elderly have convinced themselves that they deserve something for nothing and that it is right and fair to strip their children and grandchildren, and many future generations, to the f*&^*ing bone.

Reducing S.S. benefits right now is the fiscal answer. Not waiting 15, 20, or 25 years. Right now. And then reassembling a system around mathematically sound principles, not political principles that assure future disaster. This could happen, but it would require a political will far greater than that which might ameliorate the energy issue... and we have not exactly taken that issue on, either.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

There are no Coincidences in the Media

I know I have beat on this drum a couple of years ago, but for new readers (or folks my age with receding memory banks....) I wanted to remind you what it is that the thousands of Public Relations Firms actually DO.

They buy space for a client's agenda in the media.

It is my assertion that every politically charged article you read by AP, Reuters, NYT, CNN, MSNBC, FOX... on every single one of the big news outlets... has been bought and paid for -one way or another - and is designed to influence public opinion in favor of some special interest group or other.


This is going to be horribly, terribly Politically Incorrect...

I have blogged posts before about the "Rape!" cry that pro-War supporters trot out every time public support wains (I will try to find the link shortly). Here is today's attempt to rally support for the War in Afghanistan. It would seem that the propagandist's have given up on "Wave the Flag"strategies, and work now entirely on the female voting population. Several weeks ago Time ran a cover story about a young Afghani girl who was forced to marry and had her nose and ears cut off when she fled. Stories of forced marriage, child rape, and the subjugation of women in Afghanistan ABOUND in American media. Why not the same issue in Somolia, Egypt, Morocco, the Sudan... and the rest of the Muslin world? Because, at this time, their is no WAR to agitate for in those regions.

American women are now more than 50% of the vote, and it seems that American women are only too willing to send their sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and cousins to die and be horribly maimed in order to protect Afghani women from their culture. How did I arrive at that nasty conclusion? Because market's do not continue that which does not work. This strategy is working for "them" (whoever "they" are). Just use your imagination and start googling.... read the news stories... not a shred about "Democracy for Afghanistan" or "Keeping Afghanistan safe for Freedom", or "whatever Bullsh*t the war profiteers have given up on"... Nope, its all about those poor women in Afghanistan...

I want to say that a feel horribly that mankind has evolved into the disgusting thing it is in that part of the world.

But I am unwilling to lose my son to save Afghanistan.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Group Think

"If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed." - Mark Twain

I had an interesting exchange with a friend of childhood friend on Facebook. My friend is a highly educated (and from the best of the best) woman of a certain age, as are her friends. I would describe my friend, going solely on her political postings (and those of her friends, a great many of which describe themselves as "Left" and/or "Liberal" and/or "Democrats") on Facebook, as very, if not extremely, aligned with the Left. (I enjoy political debate with my friend's friends as they are cordial and polite when engaged - something of a rarity on the Web, I find.) It is also worth noting that the "meat" of the argument of my co-responent was not made in haste - they thought about my response for an evening before responding themselves.

Still, I felt like I was in a debate from the 1980's movie, "Ground Hog's Day", where Bill Murray wakes up each morning only to find that its February 2 over and over again with each person EXCEPT him replays their part exactly.

Most of what I heard was right out of the Media. Whatever the media said about an event, well, that's the way it was. Since this individual is A Liberal/Democrat (self-described on FaceBook) from California, the media spiel (schpiel?) comported with the established political view of that regions's media.

Think about it. Does the media CHALLENGE their readers and viewers with ANYTHING?! NAFC. The media is not there to offend their customer, they are their to package the news in such ways that affirms their readers. It then follows that over time this affirmation would lead to a positive, or self re-inforcing, feed-back loop. People that tend to tune into the loonies of MSNBC and rest of the MSM will be every bit as affected as the people that that tend to tune in to the loonies at FOX News.

But neither of the major political persuasions of our time seems to see it this way. They seem to see it as, "Duuugh! Those people are sooooooo stuuupid!" (attempt at California accent), and then as proof of their morally and intellectually superior position(s), people on both sides will run off with material and "data" (lolololol!) regurgitated from the media serving their persuasion.

This is merely an observation of mine that has been percolating in the background until a hammer hit the bell during my recent Facebook experience, but as proof I will offer the support and resistance of BOTH sides to the recent Healthcare legislation:

The Legislation is over 1,000 pages of the most daunting, complex, boring, mean-spirited, torturous, convoluted BULL SH*T since Mein-Kampf... and while I have read the 57 page summation and have given a great deal of time and effort to Congressman Brady's published FLOW CHART of the legislation, I am only about 25% through the legislation itself (painful does not begin to describe the reading) - and, if I do say so myself... I am a gifted career-analyst! Its what I do! And I've made millions at it! Sorry, but if I am having a difficult time understanding the complexities of this with all of my experience, I sincerely doubt your local Congressman or Rachel Maddow or Glen Beck have any grasp whatsoever!!!

Yet your average highly educated, highly intelligent individual... having taken ZERO time to read the legislation... having no background in economics, whether self-taught for formally trained... not being informed about most things, whatsoever, other than what their media outlet tells them to believe... will absolutely take a crystal hard position on the matter to the point of anger. Is this not the definition of insanity? Is there any wonder as to the state of the body politic? People that are in perpetual frantic state between all of the complexities of our society are so sure of a proper course, and are as equally confident that a government agency will be able to run with the task... never mind government's track record... that they are willing to give up rights and liberties to permit the government to "make life fair"? It seems that that is indeed the way it is...

At this moment, I am absolutely sure that I am one of the few, remaining normal people left. And I feel confident about that. Wanna know why? Because I am absolutely, positively sure that I do not know what is best for everybody in every circumstance! That people can, and should, interpret their own environment, their own lives and circumstances, for themselves... and that they can do it better then I can. What a f****ing concept, huh??!!

I have come to the conclusion that one of the greatest dilemma's facing our society at this time is GROUP THINK. The inability to question the group's assertions and conclusions. Look at the Supreme Court... Yea, there is a Right and Left... yet all of these people come from the same 5 Law Schools.... and most hail from the Coasts... are there really no smart people from Duke, Auburn, Vanderbilt, University of Virginia....?

Our country's finances have placed us on a road to disaster... a disaster that could include a Constitutional Crisis complete with bloodshed... and worse... yet our political participants never seem to see their own hand, and their responsibility, in it. Why? Perhaps because the T.V. told them so.

"The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - William Stekel

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The American Dream is NOT dead, and not by a long shot

The media, in the never ending support of those that would junk the U.S. Constitution, would have you believe that all is lost, the "American Dream" is dead, and it is all the fault of those Fat Cat, dirt-bag, greedy bastard Wall Streeters, Bankers, and Corporate Executives.

Well, they are 10% correct, which for them is quite the improvement. For the most part these folks couldn't find their A$$ with both hands.

What exactly was/is the American Dream? A home of your own? A small business? A steady job? Opportunity for your children? This would require a preamble or a definitions page to lay out just what these terms mean.

The American dream of home ownership is not in trouble because your kid cannot afford a 10,000 square foot mansion complete with a staff of domestic servants. A small business is not Apple Computer. A steady job should not mean 20 years of work followed by 40 years of idleness and leisure in "retirement" (at the expense of everybody else). Opportunity is not a guarantee that life will always be fair and that bad luck can be legislated away.

Politically, the American Dream was NOT to exchange 1 tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants 1 mile away... yet that is EXACTLY where we find ourselves. Left and Right, each agitating to skin the other alive to pay for favorite government programs by winning 50.000001% of the vote and then terrorizing the other side with with confiscatory taxes, regulatory inquisitions, and social controls.

I gotta wonder... is that what the folks who fought and died (or were horribly wounded) for our freedoms really fighting for? NAFC.

The American Dream was FREEDOM from tyranny - and tyranny includes a majority that wishes to seize your assets, tell you who you can marry, enforces rabid political correctness, and exports militarism the world over in order to maintain US$ hegemony so that they may continue to raid the international bond markets in order to fund social programs here in the U.S. "for the poor and downtrodden"... all while firmly believing that they are the "enlightened class". The "Humanitarian". I pray each and every day to live long enough to see this madness come to an end.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Going Dark"

As you know, I said las year that I was "Going Galt" (a reference to the hero in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged".

The term of art now in common usage appears to be "Going Dark". It would appear that I am in good company.

This is a very, very challenging time in the markets. Careful out there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Heeeeeeeeere's the Collapse

"If there is no wind, row." – Chinese Proverb

(This article has been amended since first posted)

Each day, day in and day out, the "collapse" arrives for thousands of Americans. If you work for the government you might hardly have noticed. If you own and run a small business, you have had it beat you into submission. The media and the Left have done the most amazing job of convincing many Americans that the problem is the elusive "rich". Wall Street "Fat Cats". Scum bag executives that are exporting jobs for the sake of greed.

The truth, and the facts, are somewhat different. The truth is, the rich do not cost the middle class a single dime... the truth is, the haves are the government workers, particularly the members of the public employee unions.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next decade or 2.


I had a visitor from my home town just north of New York City to the farm earlier this summer. Her younger sister was in my high school class. We got to talking about property taxes.

Now this person lives in a neighborhood where folks working at the local G.M. plant lived during the 50's, 60's, and '70's. By the mid 1980's, the prices of these homes became out of reach for factory-line-workers. Not because the properties had been improved but because of their proximity to the train station and a half hour ride into Manhattan.

She had bought the home from her mother some years back, and over the years her property taxes had risen to today's $16,000+! Mind you, this a former working class neighborhood. Actually, many of the old residents are still there... only the turnovers went to the yuppies as the older folks could not afford to move.

How does an individual making $100k per year, or less, pay New York's outrageous income tax levy, the outrageous sales taxes and fees for everything from car registration to park passes, and $16,000 per year in property taxes while providing for a family? How, exactly are these people supposed to save and provide for their "retirement"? Just how FOS have we become?
The $480k this person will pay (in constant dollars) in property taxes over the term of their 30 year mortgage would have done wonders, given interest compounded on those dollars, to provide these people with savings and security... instead it has been confiscated by their state and local governments leaving most of these folks literally destitute. Did I mention that New York State, in spite of these outrageous extractions, is destitute as well? Unable to assist the people they have reduced to penury?

In the background (foreground) of this cluster f*** is the ugliness that is our politics. How many times does the media have to run the story about "greedy executives" off-shoring jobs? As if its a f***ing conspiracy. Labor is being arbitraged until we reach equilibrium. The same people that can grasp this when it comes to entropy (heat will flow from a hot cup of coffee into the surrounding environment until both come to equilibrium) go deaf, dumb, and BLIND when it comes to grasping this simple economics equation. These are the very self same folks pining about poor folks in the third world... where, pray tell, do these economically challenged nit-wits of the American Left think those "off shored" jobs are going to?

Unfortunately for America, the same forces for equilibrium that are beating our income's into the mud are also doing the same job on the distribution of the world's Oil exports. This has the unpleasant effect of compounding the labor arbitrage in the extreme.

The question is: What, if anything, should be done about it?

Of course, the answer is to try to take advantage of this miasmic circumstance in each subsequent political election... and actually that makes perfect sense because there is nothing that the political structure can do about this anymore than American politics can restrain China's CO2 output, so they might as well see to their own careers. That's the problem with democratic republics... they are the "worst form of government except for everything else".

So here is the good news, sort of...

I read with interest that the many bloggers like me commenting on this seem to have gone from macro complaining to recommending micro action. John Michael Greer, Dmitri Orlov, Charles Hugh Smith... (I really need to start using my middle name... it sounds sooooo cool with Greer and Smith... hmmm... Gregory Thomas Jeffers... ugh... too busy. Oh, well) among many others seem to have gone from venting to action.

I must criticize some of what I read... "prepare" is such a sh*tty word. It connotes some kind of deluge that if one can just survive they will pop out the other side.... that's like "dieting". What is needed, in my humble opinion, is a change in "lifestyle" (another word that I absolutely, positively freaking despise...).... because in the end we need to enjoy the life we have, and me thinks, that can best be accomplished by acclimating to our new found modest lifestyles before they are forced upon us... and if they have already been forced upon you... LIE TO YOURSELF, and tell yourself that this was your plan from the beginning... and then get back to the business of living.

Because "The American Dream" is NOT dead. We just f**ked it up. But you can have it if you really want it - that is, for what it really was. When I was a kid, we had an army for a family, and that was normal back then for Catholic, working class folks. My parents lived in a 800 square foot, 3 bedroom home with 1 bathroom with 7 kids (when I was 3 or 4, my parents took in a 13 or 14 year old girl. She was not legally adopted but we referred to her as our sister, she just came to live with us when her mom died and her father abandoned her and shared a closet sized sleeping alcove with my toddler sister... I remember her arrival because we all had to move down one space at the table. We did not have dining room chairs (for the kids that is, my parents and oldest brother sat in chairs on the open side), as it was a very small kitchen/dining area (and with all of those kids) my father constructed an "L" shaped bench around the kitchen table... all of us kids had our place and had to slide in at either end of the "L" making it impossible to get up from the table without vacating everyone... anyway, can you imagine an unregistered adoption of an "early teens" girl today? No doubt my parents would have spent their lives in prison... times have changed).

THAT WAS the American dream. A roof over your head. Not a f***ing status symbol. A small business or job with which you could feed and clothe your family. Not a consumer lifestyle. TIME!... to play baseball with your kids, go camping, fishing, swimming... and all of the other outrageously fun stuff we did as kids that did not cost SQUAT.... TIME, because we were not working 70 hours per week in order to make the payments on 3 cars, 4 cell phones, 5 gym memberships... as well as the property taxes and mortgage on 5000 square foot house that nobody uses 4000 square fee of, the 16% for social security and medicare we will never see, the 33% income tax to fund an outrageous military budget and bloated bureaucracy (oh, and by the way... I am guilty of ALL of the above... but then I came to my senses).

The AMERICAN DREAM IS NOT DEAD. It just got way-layed. Most folks can get it back if they want it. There is a farm down the street from us. 5 miles from the seat of a county of 100,000. County has Little League, Boy & Girl Scouts, community center with indoor/outdoor pool, nice 3/2 house, small barn, 6 acres of pasture and gardens. Could be had for $170,000. Property taxes $1000.

If you want the AMERICAN DREAM, all you gotta do is vote with your feet. The American Dream is alive and well in small towns and cities of the despised Red States. What states are in dire straights? California, New York, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts... anybody see a pattern here besides me? The high tax/social services/socialist states are f****ing broke. They have taxed their productive citizens right into poverty (or into moving away), and they ain't getting themselves out this mess... everyone of them or their pension systems will require a bail out. The low-life, scum sucking, smug little commie bast*rds (perhaps a tad too much?) that brought the system down have done a very, very good job of convincing people that this was ALL caused by Wall Street. Good Grief!! You mean to tell me that everybody refinanced their houses to buy jet-skis, granite counter tops, and Paris vacations? Bull S**T!!! You mean to tell me that those that did, and let's face it, they were far and away the residents of those enlightened "Blue States", did not know what they were doing? That they were somehow victimized?? Christmas, I gotta stop writing... I'm about to have a canary... Many of these people are nothing more than common thieves... but when you got this many of them, well, the politicians can't exactly call a spade a spade, now can they?

So here's to you rat-bast*ard Keynesian elitist jag-offs. Way to f****ing go.

"THe Economics of being a Cheap-O"

This is one of the most insightful, thoughtful, and important works of arrogance (and I mean that in the best meaning possible) I have read in some time. Most of the insights in this article couldn't be more timely.

I am watching friends, family, neighbors, and strangers struggle in this new economic paradigm... but perhaps only because they are using the wrong guidelines or proverbial road map. The world has changed. It is what it is, and its our job to enjoy it - no matter what. Sometimes it helps to get some ideas from other crazy people.

Friday, August 13, 2010

America must support Israel

Much has been said about Israel's relationship status with the United States, but this time it is too much talk and not enough support.

This IS the critical time in the Middle East. The next several decades will see Oil exports from the region to the rest of the world dry up completely. It then follows that this is the moment for Iran's nuclear ambitions to be realized, and with it their influence world wide as well as among their neighbors.

What really stands between us and a nuclear armed Iran?


Israel has proved to be the best friend the U.S. could possibly have hoped for... and they remain the only true democracy in the Middle East. The Palestinian issue is small potatoes compared with a nuclear armed Iran. This is THE MOMENT for American support of Israel to be demonstrated as clear and unwavering. Iran is on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power. That this is unacceptable does not need mentioning... this must simply not be allowed to come to pass.

If ever the U.S. needed Israel, and it is now more than ever, Israel needs the U.S. even more. To allow a nuclear armed Iran to exist is to sow the seeds for the destruction of BOTH countries. There are no guarantees in this world. Even a stable, liberal democracy like Israel could make a strategic mistake or military error, and in believing they were under nuclear attack make the first move in the final act for civilization.

Which brings me to my book... I have taken to writing a fiction of a possible future in the aftermath of a Middle East nuclear exchange. Herewith is Chapter 2.


There were no means with which to confirm what the provocation was. Confirmation wasn’t really necessary. Israel and the several Persian Gulf nations had experienced a nuclear event. Israel, Iran, and Pakistan each had been the sight of a nuclear explosion(s), with loss of human life estimated in the tens, and perhaps hundreds of millions.

Within hours of the news, and not knowing what had happened or what city would be targeted next, people began to poor out of the world’s major cities. New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Sao Paolo, and Moscow were in the beginning throws of anarchy. People with nowhere to go were trying to get away from the one place they belonged. Within 24 hours the various regional and state governments in the United States declared martial law and put a stop to the “unauthorized travel” of civilians. But martial law does not work as well in a country filled with armed civilians, and a police and National Guard unwilling to ruthlessly repress their own neighbors - and 24 hours gave many people time to flee. For the first few days no major violence or lawlessness was reported.

At first, no one seemed to know what to do. Offices, stores, and government offices were closed – people feared that their city might be next – as no one showed up for work. Despite the ban on travel, some of the mobile urban population had managed to relocate from the cities. Those that remained wandered about aimlessly, in shock and disbelief. Yesterday, the kids had little league, mothers went grocery shopping, and fathers went about their business. Today, the grocery stores were empty, black markets erupted for everything from gasoline to prostitution, and the concept of the “business as usual” was no more than a memory.

Food had run dangerously low in American cities within days of the nuclear exchanges. Water was still running to people’s homes, as was electricity, but food shipments had stopped completely. The people of cities like New York City, Miami, and Atlanta had the food in their pantries and nothing more for nearly 2 weeks, and garbage was beginning to pile up on the streets. Fuel supplies had dried up with the food supply, so even if the municipal workers were able to get to work, there was not any fuel with which to run the trucks and other heavy equipment. The United States was still receiving some of the ships, which were “escorted” to American ports by the U.S. Navy, loaded with oil that were near their coasts at the time of the bombings, but the Federal government had appropriated all of this oil for its own uses, as very little imported oil was expected in the near future.

Oil, in the form of gasoline and diesel, was the critical issue. Without it the economy ground to a standstill. Commuters could no longer drive to work; truckers could not transport goods leaving store shelves as bare as a winter tree.

A considerable health threat in major cities was burgeoning in the form of untreated sewage. Within a month, water was no longer being pumped into people’s homes. Toilets became inoperable, and improvised rainwater catchment devices were everywhere. Unfortunately, it didn’t rain. Nature still called, but toilets did not flush. People improvised. All of New York City smelled like a subway bathroom that hadn’t been cleaned in weeks.

The National Guard set up food and water distribution posts, but it was a hot summer, and the provisions were in short supply. A rationing system was instituted within 2 weeks of the bombings, but it was hardly enough to maintain a minimal caloric intake for the people living in the large cities. Pets began to “disappear”, which in places like New York City was a significant positive as their droppings only contributed to the miasmic environment.

Violence began to break out. Not the roving gang violence of survivalist fiction, but there was little law enforcement could do in the way of an investigation and many people took advantage of this fact to settle old scores. Husbands threw moody wives out of windows, and wives beat the brains out of sleeping alcoholic husbands with hammers and cast iron frying pans. Jealous boyfriends murdered men suspected of having consorted with their women. The bodies, wrapped in sheets or blankets but sometimes nothing at all, of the deceased were left outside on the street.

Radio and television programming was controlled by the government, but the Internet was still somewhat viable, whether because of government inaction or because of superior private programming. An explanation of bombings went something like this:

Israel struck Iran with a nuclear weapon first, destroying the city of Tehran and the coastal Island of Qushm in the Persian Gulf, whether in response to a nuclear, biological, or chemical threat or some other threat from Iran was unknown. Within an hour Pakistan launched a nuclear attack against Israel, which in turn launched a counter attack on Karachi and Islamabad. India then unleashed several nuclear devices on Israel. The nation of Israel no longer existed as a functioning country, most of its people lay dead, and its government and military were completely destroyed. If the Israeli nuclear-armed submarines existed, they did not fire their weapons on India. If it did exist, perhaps its captain saw the futility in killing millions of innocents for a nation that no longer existed.

The world was angry. Jews everywhere were on the defensive. Then the indiscriminate killing of Jews the world over began in earnest. It was an irony not lost on many Jews that the Israeli nuclear weapons designed to provide a safe place for them had turned the entire world against them, and might have been responsible for the slaughter of 3 million Israeli Jews, not to mention millions of non-Jews living in and around Israel.

The mayor of New York had a crisis within a crisis. New York has the largest Jewish population of any city in the world, and the city was in the process of unraveling. Now there were numerous reports of the city’s Jews being murdered in reprisal for Israel’s nuclear attack on Iran. Thousands had been killed. Secular Jews in Manhattan, Northern New Jersey, and Westchester had taken up arms to defend themselves, but observant Jews made easily identifiable targets and most had never held a weapon in their hand, let alone owned a gun. Their homes were burned. Even those that escaped violence were constantly harassed with insults: “Murderers!” “Nazi!” Many people the world over blamed Jews for financially supporting the nation that unleashed the nuclear Pandora’s box once again, but in New York City the killings seemed to be organized by Muslim groups. Rumors of armed young men crossing the Hudson River into New York City from New Jersey were particularly chilling, as it occurred to the Mayor and the police brass that perhaps the group or groups that had orchestrated the assassinations of high profile financial supporters of Israel were behind these attacks as well.

The food crisis was at a critical juncture. People were making their way out of the Metropolitan area to the countryside as the authorities did little to enforce the ban on civilian travel. What was the point? The authorities could not provide enough food and water for the urban population. It was either allow the people to fend for themselves seeking shelter with friends and relatives in the suburbs and rural areas, or crush the subsequent food riots.
Officially, civilian travel was still banned and there was no public transit service available. Only people young and healthy enough to walk, or lucky enough to possess a bike, could make an attempt at self-rescue by fleeing the cities. Older people, sick people, and fat people – the number of obese people had shrunk considerably since the bombings– were left behind, as were women with young children.

By late September, 8 weeks into the crisis nearly every able-bodied person had fled the major metropolitan areas, though many never made it past the city’s sprawl. There was no banking system anymore. People who abandoned the major cities for fear of another nuclear exchange had abandoned their homes and cars, and their mortgages and car loans. Money could no longer buy food. Barter quickly became the only medium of exchange. The food transport system had completely broken down, with government supplies spotty at best, and criminal to say the least. Mothers of young children sold themselves to the soldiers and police that were supposed to protect them for food to feed their hungry children.

Though no nuclear attack had been sustained in North America or Europe, the fear of attack had brought their respective societies to their knees. The economic, legal, and food distribution system of the Western societies required the confidence of the populace in order to function, and that confidence was no more. Truckers on the road transporting goods simply kept the those goods as barter items as there was no one to deliver them to, and no police to stop them. The Manhattan corner green grocer hoarded his inventory of canned goods for his own family. Lawyers had nothing to do and no place to do it. Police, Firemen, and other essential services personnel ceased showing up for work, and hospitals remained closed. With the value of cash currency at zero, people worked at the only thing that made any sense – scrounging food. What else can a city of several million people do when they have no job to go to and no store to buy food from? They were in no position to produce food. It was early summer at the time of the bombings making gardening an option for next spring, at best. People living in cities and suburbs had no livestock. Fishing poles, small game rifles, nets, traps, lighters, matches, and grills all became hot barter items, but mostly it was a scramble to barter for processed food items that existed within the system prior to the bombings. Everyone knew that these would not last long.


It seemed surreal to Martin as he, his wife, and two young daughters made their way north along the rail road tracks on the east side of the Hudson River. Martin had been a Wall Street professional, one of the thousands of well-paid foot soldiers that ground out the work for the “Masters of the Universe”, the day before the bombings, but had recently finished his Talmudic studies and had been ordained a Rabbi in Israel just 9 months earlier. His yeshiva was gone, his friends were gone, and his country was gone.

No, I am an American. I am a Jew, but I am an American.

They carried their clothes on their backs. Mercifully, he thought to himself, it was not winter, or this trek would not be possible. He and his family carried all of their worldly possessions on their backs. He was thankful that he and his wife had kept the backpacks they had used in Europe over a decade ago, while the girls used the backpacks that kids now used as book bags. They had a change of clothes, sleeping bags, and some food, plus the items that he would need to lead the family in observance of their traditions.

Martin was well educated, as was his wife. It was now 8 weeks since the bombings. They were lucky, as Martin’s wife, Miriam had always kept 3 months of food in the home in case of emergencies. Actually, the tradition came from her mother, Ruth, a Jewish survivor of the Nazi war in Europe.

Ruth’s family placed her with a Catholic family in the Polish countryside in what at the time was thought to be an overabundance of caution. It wasn’t. Ruth’s family was lost to the world in the Holocaust. The Catholic family that was hosting Ruth were righteous folk, risking their lives to hide her. Once, as the Nazi’s were approaching the farming village where Ruth was in hiding, the mother of the house took her into the woods and told Ruth not to move until she returned. Ruth was 14 at the time, and was left alone in the dark, freezing woods with nothing but a stout wool blanket. Terrified, the young girl looked up at her guardian who said calmly:

“Someone will come back for you. Do not move from this spot. If we are still alive, we will come for you.”

Ruth sat there alone in the twilight, terrified, alone, but not cold. She would always remember the warmth of that woolen blanket, and would knit a woolen blanket for each of her children and grandchildren as they came into the world to honor kind Katrina, the woman who now was disappearing in the distance on her way home to the terror of Nazi soldiers.
Ruth sat there through the night, terribly alone, unsleeping, wondering if they had been killed, or had abandoned her. When she saw the family dog come running toward her the next afternoon, her heart leapt for joy. They were alive, and they had not abandoned her. Ruth learned much living on that farm. How to care for livestock, how to garden and preserve food, and the importance of keeping enough food on hand in case of disasters like crop failure or livestock illness.

It was Katrina’s influence that kept this family unit, on another continent and 60 years later, sustained during the early weeks after the bombings.

Still, the “Writing was on the Wall”. Martin had a background in economics, and knew that the system they had come to rely on for necessities like shelter, heat, food, water, and healthcare no longer existed, and that like the childhood rhyme “Humpty-Dumpty”, was unlikely to be put back together again any time soon. They literally walked out of Manhattan, heading north along the train tracks, making it to Westchester county in one day. He knew that in a forced march situation armies had walked 40 miles in a day. He felt his girls, not yet eleven years old might make 20 miles if pushed hard. He underestimated them. They made it to the village of Hastings that night, after walking for 11 hours.

They had enough food and water in their packs for 3, maybe 4 days, trekking like this. That night they slept in the Hastings train station, and were pleasantly surprised to find that the bathrooms still had running water. They had slept well enough and continued on their way up the railroad tracks north from Hastings, past the villages of Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington, and by early afternoon had come to the village of Tarrytown were Martin hoped to seek assistance from a friend’s brother. The friend and Martin had known each other for over 25 years and had worked together at several Wall Street firms, but Martin’s friend had retired to a hobby farm down south. Still, Martin felt he could reach out to the brother and seek assistance. He wasn’t looking for much, just some food for their backpacks and a safe place to rest before continuing their journey.

Martin had a general idea of where Walt Thomas lived, as he had reviewed the address in his address book with a map he found on-line. With Miriam and the girls in tow, he trudged up Main Street. The buildings appeared dark on either side of him, and many people were milling about Main St. with little or nothing to do. As there were no cars on the road, the family walked in the middle of the Street. Earlier this summer doing so might have cost them their lives, but there was little danger to pedestrians of being struck by a car now.


Walt Thomas was at his computer surfing the web when reports started to come in that a major “destructive event”, perhaps an earthquake, had hit Tehran. He thought little of it, earthquakes happen after all, and thankfully they usually happen to someone else. About 45 minutes after the first reports of Iran’s “event”, reports started to come over the web that a major “destructive event” had just been reported in Israel. Within minutes, all news sites were reporting that perhaps a nuclear catastrophe had taken place, when the reports started to come in that Pakistan had sustained a nuclear blast. Walt reached for his cell phone. He hit his son’s number on speed dial.

“All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later.”

He waited a minute and redialed his son.

“All circuits are busy…”

Walt got up from his computer, walked to the kitchen and out the back door to his car, got in, and raced his car down the hill to the local grocery store. A volunteer fireman and former boy scout, most of Walt’s family lived in Florida where a hurricane left them without power for 6 weeks. He understood emergencies – people still need to eat, drink, wipe their ass, and wash their hands. He ran into the store to buy supplies of every stripe only to find that he was not alone. Other quick thinking folks had the same idea and were quickly emptying the isles. When he got to the check out counter, Walt was astonished to see that they were still accepting credit cards.

The first report of Iran’s “event” was 72 minutes ago. The first mention of “nuclear” was less than 30 minutes old.

From the grocery store Walt drove to the gas station and convenience store he owned in town. The clerk was behind the counter listening to an Indian pop recording and seemed to have no idea of the events of the past 90 minutes. Walt sent him home with a week’s worth of bread, milk, and eggs telling him to get his family together.

I wonder if there will even be electricity in his house when he gets home.

The lights were still on at the station, so Walt filled his car with gas, grabbed 5, 5 gallon gas containers from inside the store and filled them as well. He walked back into the store, locked the front door behind him, and turned off the pump lights and all of the indoor lights except the “night lights” that were always on for security purposes.

Walt looked up as headlights came into the pump island area of the station. It was his son, Manny. Walt strode to the front door and unlocked it and Manny stepped inside.

“Holy shit!” said Manny

“Holy shit is right.” replied Walt. “Go out back and get every box that will hold something and bring it in here. We’ll take all the food and all of the drinks up to the house. Fill those gasoline cans and put them in the back of your truck, and top off your tank just in case.”

Father and son proceeded to load all of the canned goods, refrigerated foods, snack bags, donuts, sugar, soaps and the rest of the various and sundry products one would expect to find at a gas station’s convenience store without a word between them. After the store was emptied Walt locked the gas pumps, turned off the switch to the pump, and then flipped all of the breakers in the main electric utility box killing all power to the building. He hoped that people would look at the empty shelves and the dark building and perimeter and assume there was nothing left to steal. Of course, there was still 20,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel in the tanks in the ground. But without a “key” for the fill valve and some specialized pumping equipment that fuel would be not easily be stolen. Finally, he located a piece of plywood that had come with some of the wood pallets that the food was delivered on, and spray painted large block letters in bright orange, the only spray paint on hand, “SORRY, NO GAS”, and placed the makeshift sign in front of the front door, which he locked behind him. Manny was still loading boxes into the back of his truck.

“When you’re finished, take everything up to the house and bring everything inside and down into the basement. OK?” Said Walt.

“OK. Where are you going?”

“Down to the shop to get every tool I can fit in the car, and anything else I can think of. I’ll meet you at the house in an hour. Tell your mother to wait there for me and not to leave the house until I get home.”

“K”, said Manny.

It had been less than 3 hours since the news of a nuclear explosion in Iran and Israel, and now Pakistan. The Internet was still operating but the phone system was overwhelmed by the surge in traffic. Walt marveled that the Web, which for him ran over the phone lines in the form of DSL from his local phone company, was still working. Still, there was no official word from the U.S. Government. All of the reports were coming from Bloggers and international news services. The trains coming north from Grand Central Terminal were absolutely packed, standing room only. The express to Tarrytown had just disgorged her passengers, most of whom did not live in Tarrytown but, as no one had any idea who had done what and who was going to be next, were afraid that New York City might be the next target of a nuclear attack. They fled to the train station upon hearing the news taking the next train headed out of the city without concern as to where the train was heading, so long as it was heading away from Manhattan.

Hundreds of people were milling about the train station platform waiting for the next north bound train. Tarrytown is only 35 miles north of mid-town Manhattan, if New York City was to be the sight of the next nuclear attack, 35 miles was not far enough away.

Walt had returned home with his car loaded with anything he could scrounge from his repair shop that might prove valuable in the future. Hand tools, diesel storage cans, paper, pens, a .357 magnum handgun he kept in a safe at the shop because his wife refused to allow the weapon in their home. She did not know about the .22. caliber assault rifle he purchased over a decade earlier that was in their clothes closet behind the suits he never wore and no longer fit him. He had 3 boxes of ammo for the handgun. He wondered how long the ammo kept for, as he had purchased them at the same time as the handgun 5 years ago. He had not fired the weapon since attending the firearm safety class required for a pistol permit.

He drove up the hill from his shop to his home. His wife, Jenny, was outside in the driveway waiting for him.

It had been 3 weeks since the bombings. The 20,000 gallons of fuel at Walt’s gas station had been removed by the National Guard, but not before Walt secured enough diesel to use as heating oil for the coming winter, as well as several hundred gallons that he stored in various containers in his basement. One of his brothers lived on a farm in South Carolina. If things got bad in metro New York he thought he would be able to make the 800-mile drive to his brother’s place, or at least he hoped he would make it there.
He had not worked at his business since the bombings. Most of the fuel in the local gas stations either sold out within hours of the bombings or was seized by the Army. There was no gasoline to sell. People could only travel as far as they could walk or bicycle.
The United States consumes roughly 9.6 million barrels of gasoline per day, nearly 420 million gallons of gasoline each and every day. In addition the U.S. consumes another 11 million barrels of oil for diesel, heating oil, industrial uses, and electricity generation among other uses. Of the 20 odd million barrels per day of liquid petroleum products that the U.S. consumes, nearly 13 million barrels were imported. Those imports had nearly ceased. The continental U.S. had to survive on only the oil it produced, just over 8 million barrels per day. After federal, state, and local governments got through with their requirements, there was little to no fuel available to the general population. Without the lifeblood of the American economy, traditional commerce ground to a halt.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Its too late, baby, its too late, though we really did try to make it"

Our hog, "Ms. Piggy" (we broke tradition this year... in the past ALL female hogs were named Charlotte I, II, III...) broke out of the hog yard this afternoon... I found her in the neighbor's pasture nestled beneath a roll of hay with 9 piglets. We got them back in the yard, but are keeping the other hogs away, lest they eat the piglets...

"The Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals. It does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government. It is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens' protection against the government." – Ayn Rand

"Its too late, baby, its too late, though we really did try to make it." - Carol King

I love Carol King and Ayn Rand... 2 of the more interesting individuals of the 20th century...

I have been reading and thinking about the IMF and CBO reports that I wrote about in my last post...

My sense is this: The U.S. financial and political system will both be reset. No other outcome is even remotely likely. The U.S. will lose its reserve currency status. The overwhelmingly optimistic projections for S.S./Medicare will not be met. U.S. Treasuries might actually be paid back - and then again they may not... it all depends on how the entitlement programs are undone... but more than half of the remaining debt in the U.S. economy will not be repaid. Oil imports will continue their decline into the U.S. irrespective of whether or not Iraq's production comes on line at the most optimistic level, and if Iraq's potential has been overstated and their exports come in at only a million or 2 bpd (or even 3) per day the rate of the decline will accelerate from .7% per month to over 1% per month for at least several years at some point between here and 2020.

This does not have to be all that bad provided that a Constitutional crisis does not develop. Wealth is not bytes on a screen... these are merely markers representing fractional ownership of the resources and production of a particular nation. Hitting the "reset" button does not destroy the crops and livestock in the field or demolish all of the houses, roads, and sewers. To my mind, the one thing that must be preserved is the U.S. Constitution and the Rule of Law. These can and must withstand what is to come.

When I say "reset" our political system, I am not referring to the Constitutionally directed structure; I am referring to 400,000 lobbyists, 1,100,000 odd lawyers, and the top 1,000 corporations as well as the top 1% wealthy, bottom 20% permanent underclass, and all of the special interest groups... all have had a hand in corrupting and controlling the system... we need to find a way to remove their undo negative influence. This is the risk... this, along with a few other imbalances, can be the spark that fires a Constitutional crisis. My sense is the wealthiest will lose their position, and the underclass will learn to provide for themselves or find themselves removed from the gene pool by Mother Nature, but the battle will be brutal.

How to individually navigate this is far more important than trying to figure out how to manage the upheaval from a macro point of view. We can't all be president or even a Senator, but we can all interpret our own personal environment in an effort to enjoy the life we have. In any event, that is how I see it.


If you have been reading my stuff for a while you know I have been commenting on this for several years now, as have many other Economic Bloggers. A year and a half ago I posted that my response is that I am "Going Galt". Perhaps an exaggeration, but I have gotten much done in this regard. I cannot say what works for everybody everywhere, nor even for my own self, as our lives are a work in progress and we don't yet know the consequences of all of our actions and decisions... that said, in "Going Galt" I went on a tear to simplify my life. I returned most of the capital in my funds to our investors, and merged the remaining capital into one small fund. I returned ALL of the capital in my broker-dealer (stock brokerage) and withdrew my membership in the SEC and FINRA. I cut out every piece of personal overhead that I could without a family revolt, and we continue to "shrink" our consumer identities. I still maintain 2 homes, because my older son is in his last year of high school, but I expect that upon his graduation next spring to be able to consolidate our lives into a single home (an event I look forward to with great anticipation).

I have gone into the livestock trading business, and we grow or raise 75% of the food we eat when we are on the farm with surprisingly little inputs. That means milking (my grip strength is outrageous), feeding, slaughtering & butchering, fencing, barn & house repair, weeding, watering, preserving... homesteading is no small amount of manual labor. I went well over 1 year without buying anything other than food, household supplies, and entertainment (with the exception of second hand, traded for, or good will, or necessities for the farm... I do take my wife out to a sushi restaurant every week or there might be a revolt...). It has been a fascinating experience. I realize that I have the luxury of not having to live this way - but I must tell you that I am in very good physical shape, my love life is as good as it gets for folks having young children in the house, and I am happily involved with my new found "real life". I cannot say that I will always live on a farm and this lifestyle, but if it were solely up to me I think that I would. I can say with certainty that I will always live as modestly as I possibly can as I think it has been good for the soul. It seems I cannot have everything I want - food, drink, luxury... whatever - indulging just because I can does not mean anything good from my experience... doesn't seem to be a net positive for your physical and mental well being... I guess what I am saying is that some of the "progress" and "higher lifestyles" made over the past several decades may not have been all that good for us.

Anyway, just musing... I have to go and milk the cow now...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Financial Circumstances of the U.S. Federal Government

The Financial Circumstances of the U.S. Government are much much worse than can be comprehended.

“The U.S. fiscal gap associated with today’s federal fiscal policy is huge for plausible discount rates.... closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of U.S. GDP.” - section 6 of above link

To put 14 percent of gross domestic product in perspective, current federal revenue totals 14.9 percent of GDP. So the IMF is saying that closing the U.S. fiscal gap, from the revenue side, requires, roughly speaking, an immediate and permanent doubling of our personal-income, corporate and federal taxes as well as the payroll levy set down in the Federal Insurance Contribution Act.

Such a tax hike would leave the U.S. running a surplus equal to 5 percent of GDP this year, rather than a 9 percent deficit. So the IMF is really saying the U.S. needs to run a huge surplus now and for many years to come to pay for the spending that is scheduled. It’s also saying the longer the country waits to make tough fiscal adjustments, the more painful they will be.

Is the IMF bonkers?

No. It has done its homework. So has the Congressional Budget Office whose Long-Term Budget Outlook, released in June, shows an even larger problem.

‘Unofficial’ Liabilities

Based on the CBO’s data, I calculate a fiscal gap of $202 trillion, which is more than 15 times the official debt. This gargantuan discrepancy between our “official” debt and our actual net indebtedness isn’t surprising. It reflects what economists call the labeling problem. Congress has been very careful over the years to label most of its liabilities “unofficial” to keep them off the books and far in the future.

For example, our Social Security FICA contributions are called taxes and our future Social Security benefits are called transfer payments. The government could equally well have labeled our contributions “loans” and called our future benefits “repayment of these loans less an old age tax,” with the old age tax making up for any difference between the benefits promised and principal plus interest on the contributions.

The fiscal gap isn’t affected by fiscal labeling. It’s the only theoretically correct measure of our long-run fiscal condition because it considers all spending, no matter how labeled, and incorporates long-term and short-term policy.

$4 Trillion Bill

How can the fiscal gap be so enormous?

Simple. We have 78 million baby boomers who, when fully retired, will collect benefits from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that, on average, exceed per-capita GDP. The annual costs of these entitlements will total about $4 trillion in today’s dollars. Yes, our economy will be bigger in 20 years, but not big enough to handle this size load year after year.

This is what happens when you run a massive Ponzi scheme for six decades straight, taking ever larger resources from the young and giving them to the old while promising the young their eventual turn at passing the generational buck.

Herb Stein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under U.S. President Richard Nixon, coined an oft-repeated phrase: “Something that can’t go on, will stop.” True enough. Uncle Sam’s Ponzi scheme will stop. But it will stop too late.

You just can't make this stuff up. The Keynesian nit-wits on the Left were, in fact, assisted by some rather small brains on the Right (War on Drugs, surging prison populations, disastrous wars...) to put us in the soup.

I swear to you that with every fiber of my being that I am convinced that there is no macro solution for this (or none that will be effected within the time period required). And not knowing the irrational, knee jerk(0ff) policy responses or their unintended consequences we cannot know when, exactly this current deflationary will turn into the inflationary blow off.

What a shame that our founders were unable to secure the nation sound money... and what a shame FDR was ever born.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Moral Hazard of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

"Government is force, and politics is the process of deciding who gets to use it on whom. This is not the best way to solve problems." – Richard Grant

Every year at this time the world recognizes the horror of the nuclear destruction of the inhabited cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Time will not heal this wound. As time wears on the political costs of burning 140,000 non-combatants will continue to pile up - irrespective of the fact that 140,000 people are killed every 44 months or so on U.S. highways in car accidents, or per month smoking cigarettes. The only reason more people were not killed had to do with population density - it could have easily been millions.

The justification is ALWAYS the same:

"By nuking these cities LIVES were saved. American lives." (Of course, if my son were on a ship about to invade a place like imperial Japan I might be willing to nuke a hundred cities to bring him home alive... but we are speaking objectively here). It then follows that any nation-state - China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Japan, Israel... - may use nuclear weapons to murder countless non-combatants by detonating a nuclear device over a city IF it will force the hand of the opposing government to the desired policy - especially if it will save the lives of the nuclear initiating nation-state's military personnel. Do I have that reasoning right?

Think about that for a minute. That means that Israel is justified in nuking Tehran at any moment, doesn't it? China can nuke Taiwan. Russia can nuke Washington, D.C., New York, and L.A. I mean, come on... how close did the Soviet Union and the U.S. come to blowing each other up during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Am I the only person to connect this incident with Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Do you really think the Russians didn't look over at the smoldering ruins of Hiroshima when dealing with their counterparts in the U.S.? You really don't think that that made them much more likely to launch a first strike in a dispute like that? REALLY??!!

Truman left the U.S. in the cross hairs for a subsequent nuclear strike by claiming the use of these weapons against cities was a legitimate tactic to gain a desired policy response. A threat we shall live under forever more. Harry Truman as Tony Soprano.

Truman should have been hanged as a war criminal (just making a point; I reject the death penalty) here in the U.S. By not doing so, and showing the rest of the world that international murderers will not be tolerated, the U.S. has left itself permanently at risk for nuclear attack. Did Truman really save American lives? Tim will tell.

Oh, there were other justifications:

"The Japanese would never have surrendered. They thought their emperor was G-d for pity's sake!!" You mean to tell me that the Shinto Japanese believe a mortal man is the living G-d? And Christian's don't? (On another note... I am pretty sure that if Jesus of Nazareth was on hand, he would take a very, very dim view of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.) Oh, and by the way.... over 1/3 of the Japanese population is Buddhist... and they do not believe the emperor was a god, nor were they persecuted for this by emperor or his minions.... in fact, the Japanese marry across this religious line with great ease.


"The Japanese had it coming. They pilloried China and Korea for years... and bombed Pearl Harbor. They murdered prisoners of war. They were a warlike culture and needed to be pacified." All true, and the perpetrators should have been punished. What does that have to do with a 3 year old girl and a five year old boy playing in front of their house in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945?

Regular commentator "Publius" had this to say in my second post on this subject:

"Libertarians and even many non-libertarians believe that individuals have rights that are separate from the actions and crimes of their governments."
Let us use a recent incident... The U.S. government does something horrible (horrible is in the eye of the beholder) to a family, village, ethnic group, country... you get the idea. That group then flies 747's into the Trade Towers on 9/11 in retaliation, murdering nearly 3,000 people.


We were outraged - and rightfully so! The victims of 9/11 had nothing to do with policies implemented by the U.S. government. In fact, nearly half of them might have voted against the proponents of any particular policy that motivated the attackers. These were innocent, non-combatants, murdered while going about their business and trying to provide for their families... as were the young mothers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

If you see a difference, read my forthcoming book.

I will be posting chapter 2 of my book here on the AEC Blog this week.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Matt Simmons has Died

Matt Simmons, author, investment banker, and noted Peak Oil Theorist has died.

Whatever Matt said that seemed to be outrageous regarding the Horizon spill, he is off the hook with me.

I had corresponded with the man by email over the years and had a pleasant lunch with him in Boston some years back so I can't say that I knew him well, but what little I did know led me to believe he was a courteous gentleman with a keen interest in his personal intellectual pursuits.

I am saddened to hear of his passing.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What is a War Crime?

What is a "War Crime", anyway? "War Crimes" can only be prosecuted by the victors, who are themselves immune from prosecution. That is not a system of justice... that's a system of "Might makes Right". I am unwilling to spend time on the strategy alternatives that led the Truman administration to the decision to use nuclear weapons on civilian targets, AKA cities. It is my belief that the propaganda offensive convincing the American people of their exceptionalism has worked splendidly, and today the vast majority see the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as justified.

The very idea that there can even be such a thing as a "War Crime" should give one a powerful clue that as the Hague Agreement, to which the U.S. was a signatory (more on this latter in the post), stated: “The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited.” I think that particular prohibition would cover dropping atomic bombs on inhabited cities. In having the concept of "War Crimes" and agreements such as "The Hague" means that the world's nation-states have accepted the idea that in terms of "men versus the mission", there are some acts which are simply unacceptable no matter how convenient or how many of the committing combatants lives will be "saved" (I put that in quotations because we all know about government projections... and people throw around some crazy and unrealistic numbers). If you are one of those that believes nuclear attacks on ANY CITY is acceptable, Please, please, please!!!... read that previous passage again.

My suggestion is that Americans that believed these bombings were justified are misinformed or uninformed or unversed in the theory of unintended consequences and absolutely do not play chess. WWII may be over, but the "Chess Game" is not. It is my fear that in using nuclear weapons on inhabited cities the U.S. has lost all moral standing in the future nuclear war. If you think welfare or bank bailouts has a slippery moral slope to them... they pale when compared to this.

As an American schoolboy learning history in the late 1960’s early 70's, my education on the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki consisted of several sterile pictures of the “mushroom cloud” that resulted from the explosion followed by some short copy about retaliating for Pearl Harbor and the subsequent surrender of Japan. That was it. No mention of people leaping into rivers to escape the fires and to ease the awful pain of their terrible burns; no mention of children’s skin melting from their bodies, suffering for what must have seemed and eternity only to die days later of radiation poisoning or kidney failure; no mention of thousands of “Hiroshima Orphans”, children who were sent to the country side to avoid conventional bombs only to lose both parents in the atomic attacks; no mention of the disfigurement of the survivors, or of the genetic diseases of their descendents. As a matter of fact, the United States prevented film footage and descriptions of the destruction and suffering from reaching the outside world, especially American citizens, until the occupation ended in 1955 (or so).

To be sure, the United States and its allies were at war with an enemy culturally incapable of surrender, that had attacked the U.S. without warning, and that had inflicted tens of thousands of casualties on Americans. The U.S. was facing the prospect of tens thousands of additional American casualties should an invasion of the Japanese Archipelago prove necessary. Would it have proven necessary? Was there a diplomatic solution? Were their other U.S. motivations for the use of Atomic weapons? Had the use of Atomic weapons against Japan had any effect on the “paranoia” of the Soviets during the Cold War? Did the use of The Bomb affect our standing with other nations? How did we get to this point, and why was it that the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to pay with their lives for the aggression of the Japanese Government and Military?

Japanese history did not begin on December 7, 1941 and end on August 15, 1945. What were the events that lead these cities to their doom, and subsequent rebirth, and what unintended consequences might be visited on the U.S. in the future as a result of the bombings?

The Japanese Attack at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

In speaking with the “man on the street” (or woman, as it were) in America about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the immediate response for the most part seems to be summed up something like this: “Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and in retaliation the U.S. bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki”.

There is certainly a great deal of anger still lingering over the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and I must confess to sharing in that anger (no doubt an indelible mark left on me by my father, a member of the U.S Navy during WWII), particularly when I consider the fate of the servicemen of USS Arizona, the final resting place for 1,102 souls.

War is governed by international law, bizarre as that may sound, and anger has no place in the prosecution of War, lest we all become genocidal maniacs with no regard as to the purpose of hostilities in the first place, and only a desire for revenge through the death and destruction of any and all people associated with our enemy. Look no further than our current adversary, Al Quida and the attacks of September 11, 2001 to gain a picture of where that leads.

According to the to USS Arizona Memorial, the following is the damage assessment and casualty count as a result of the attack by Japan, December 7, 1941.
Navy 2001
Marine Corps 109
Army 231
Civilian 54
Total 2395

Navy 710
Marine Corps 69
Army 364
Civilian 35
Total 1178

Sunk or beached 12
Damaged 9

Destroyed 164
Damaged 159

The attack at Pearl Harbor, was disgusting, ugly, and unconscionable – but most likely legal as covered by the:

Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague, II), July 29, 1899


The Hague, July 29, 1899 [Ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 14, 1902] ARTICLE XXV

"The attack or bombardment of towns, villages, habitations or buildings which are not defended, is prohibited."

This would seem to say that an attack on installations which are defended is legal. (I did not say right, fair, ethical, acceptable, etc..) although the Hague Convention also stated:


“The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited.”

I think that that is relatively self-explanatory. Is the right of one of the belligerents to use an Atomic Weapon on city filled with non-combatants limited or not limited? If not, what limitations were the convention participants referring to? Is there something worse? Let’s move on to:


“Besides the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially prohibited:”
a. “To employ poison or poisoned arms;”
b. “To kill or wound treacherously (emphasis added) individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army;”
c. “To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;”
d. “To employ arms, projectiles, or material of a nature to cause superfluous injury;”

Please note section b. of Article XXIII the word “treacherously”. Is the attack at Pearl Harbor “treacherous”, and, if so, does it constitute a prohibited war crime? If so, does that relinquish the United States of its responsibilities, legal, moral, and ethical, in its prosecution of the War? What about future wars?

Let us examine, once again:


“The attack or bombardment of towns, villages, habitations or buildings which are not defended, is prohibited.”

Was Hiroshima or Nagasaki defended as of early August 1945? We will discuss Japan’s ability to defend itself in August of 1945 in greater detail shortly.

How many Americans are familiar with the Hague Conventions? How many Americans are concerned with whether or not we have conformed to the standards set forth in the conventions as ratified by the U.S. Senate? Does anybody in our government see any similarities between the killing of non-combatants (civilians) by terrorist political organizations and the killing of non-combatants (civilians) by the U.S. Military?

More to come


I look forward to a spirited yet courteous debate with my fellow thinking persons commenting here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I am proud and thankful to have been born in America and to enjoy all of the privileges that comes with it. That does not mean that the actions of every American Administration gets a pass for anything and everything.

It was 65 years ago today that the United States dropped a nuclear bomb over the civilian population center of Hiroshima killing an estimated 70,000 men, women and children. I love my country and am thrilled to have been born an American in this time, yet when I visited Hiroshima several years ago I was thoroughly embarrassed. If December 7, 1941 is "A Day which will Live in Infamy", August 6, 1945 is A Day which will Live in Shame.

It is a sad state of affairs that it is commonly accepted by Americans that dropping a nuclear bomb on a city filled with civilians was a legitimate and necessary step to ending WWII. Many commanders in the U.S. military at the time were completely opposed to the use of nuclear weapons - but history is written by the victors and the politicians. In the aftermath of the bombings the U.S. kept all reports of what actually occurred on the ground in Hiroshima and Nagasaki classified - for nearly 20 years. No one knew what had really happened because in the aftermath our government at that time realized what it had done.

As an American traveling in Japan not a few Japanese asked me how I felt about the bombings. If Americans think that the Japanese have forgotten and forgiven, they are sorely mistaken.

I was in Hiroshima a couple years, almost to the day, after 9/11. This is sure to meet with criticism, but I could not help but feel that the Taliban's murder of nearly 3,000 American civilians at the Trade Towers and the Pentagon was an attempt to influence policy in Washington via terror and was strikingly similar to the Truman Administration's desire to influence policy in Imperial Tokyo with nuclear strikes resulting in the murder of 140,000 Japanese civilians. Murdering innocent civilian to influence policy has been going on since the advent of sticks and stones, but it was a crime against humanity then and it is a crime against humanity now.

Imperial Japan was every bit the disgusting animal that Nazi Germany was. What the Japanese did in Mainland Asia and China has been glossed over by history while the atrocities of Nazi Germany have received the proper airing (if that is even possible). I read the book "The Rape of Nanking". After reading that book one might be sorely tempted to think of the nuclear bombings as some kind of crude justice - but only for a moment. Killing innocent people is not justice. Justice must only be brought to bear on the guilty.

I have also been to the Nazi Concentration camp at Dachau. This might also meet with criticism but I do not see a difference between the crimes of Dachau and Hiroshima.

Americans, through our controlled version of history, have swept Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the rug. Our enemies, and even our allies, have not. Should a nuclear weapon be detonated by some group in an American city, I do not think that many "man on the street" types in Japan, China, Viet Nam, the Middle East and quite a few other places will not see this as evening the score. "What comes around, goes around", if you will. Many of America's military leaders warned the Truman administration of this unintended consequence before the bombings. The bombings were hardly uniformly supported both within the Administration itself and the Pentagon Brass, though you wouldn't know it by reading the American history text books of the 50's thru today.

A nuclear blast in ANY city anywhere in the world would completely end banking, trade, fiat currencies, etc.... wrap your mind around that... THINK of the repercussions... if Paris or Sao Paolo or Tel Aviv experienced a nuclear explosion, would you trust the media explanation? Would ANYONE remain in New York City, London, or Moscow? Trade and commerce would shut down immediately. Everything as we know it would end.

Let us hope the Genie stays in its bottle.