National Geographic Article, “The War On Science”

Early on in the article, NatGeo poses a question: “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?” I may be able to enlighten the author, Joel Achenbach, on the subject.

The article as written by Mr Achenbach is not written very well. One subject with which I am well acquainted is the issue of “global warming” or “climate change”- but global warming and climate change is not and never has been an issue. For somewhere around 3 or 4 Billion years (+/-) the climate has been changing. It gets warmer, and cooler and warmer and cooler, over and over again with absolutely no involvement or causation coming from human beings.

So to tidy up his sloppy terminology, I will say that the issue in question that is causing all of the fuss is neither of these terms. The issue is “ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING” (AGW) – which is much more specific and controversial. What AGW means is that the climate is changing because things that humans are or are not doing is changing it. That is the part that is in question.

On this specific issue, I will now state that whether the climate is or is not changing is not resolved.

Neither are the issues of how it may be changing and what may be causing it to change. So to put it crudely, anyone who maintains that AGW is happening is talking out of his/her ass. There is absolutely no evidence that AGW is occurring. There may be evidence that weather may be trending towards warming or cooling. And here we should point out that in the ’70s the climate hissy-fit crowd was screaming about the impending ice age – also apparently caused by humans.

Climate can be simply defined as “weather over a long period of time.” Climate change is when an area that has been cool and wet and green for a few hundred or a thousand years, changes and becomes dry and barren over a few hundred or thousand years, or similar long term radical changes. The AGW proponents are claiming “AGW” is happening after a period of only 25 years of observation. (Since there has been zero meaningful change in recorded temperatures for about 20 years they apparently based their conclusions on a sample period of only 5 years.) In real climate change terms, this is the time it takes for a person to blink their eyes. *blink* oops! Ya missed it!

The article accuses many of not being “scientific.” In keeping with being scientific, may I ask you Mr Achenbach, by what metric you determined this? I await your numbers and the specifics of your procedures.

When AGW first hit the news, I waited until IPCC Report #2 was released, then read both #1 and #2. There were things that I did not understand in them, but as a person who has a firm grounding in the practical sciences (including steam engineering, basic nuclear theory, hydraulics, & etc.) and especially in the scientific method, I noticed a few glaring problems in these documents.

First we’ll look at how the IPCC determined “Solar Forcing.” (The amount of heat rise in the Earth’s system caused by the Sun). Now, I can’t quibble with the IPCC’s numbers… but I can certainly quibble with their methodology. They started out “estimating” (not measuring) solar forcing at around 50%. After they’d run some numbers they changed their minds and decided that 50% was too high, and so arbitrarily lowered the amount of solar forcing to 25%. It should be noted that neither of these numbers were obtained by measurement or via application of the scientific method!!!! So…. the IPCC’s solar forcing number is pure unadulterated BS.

Then I looked at how they proposed observers around the world should gather data – you know – the numbers that they tell us prove AGW? (Things like temperatures, levels of atmospheric gasses, etc.) As I recall, there were three levels of collectors and thus collection of data procedures. One level was for urban and advanced areas, like the USA where there were no significant impediments to data collection. Another was for areas where there were some levels of difficulty expected in collecting data… things like mountainous terrain, etc. And the third level of difficulty was where it was nearly impossible to collect data without endangering life and limb, or areas that were virtually impassible like dense jungle filled with hungry wildlife.

I interpreted these differing levels thusly: Area type 1, go read the data. Area type two, go read data that is convenient to get and guess at the rest. Area type three, make up what the data might be and pretend it’s real. All such data was then reported as factual.

After reading these first two “reports” I decided that whatever the IPCC was, it certainly had no intention of being in any way “scientific” or that it was even vaguely familiar with that thing many of us refer to as “the scientific method.”

I think that the above goes a long way in answering the question of Why Many Reasonable People Doubt Science. When “science” ceases to be scientific, it becomes an agenda driven political movement, or a cult. The IPCC is a political cult. Nothing more.

Also Mr Achenbach doesn’t seem to understand that there is a vast difference between “science” and “belief.” He displays an obvious bias against scientists who do not “believe” in the areas he indicates as being validated truth – thus “scientific.” I consider some things as being as yet “undetermined” – such as “evolution” – in my mind that’s unproven one way or the other. (Many of the “fossil proofs” have later been found to be fabrications, and as to the Biblical creation story, it seems to me as plausible as evolution.) Not being considered is the possibility that we were evolved. But at any rate, it’s not my area. Do I believe that it’s possible? Eh. Not that important to me. ;-D

Are vaccines bad? Well… as Mr Achenbach indicates like so many others I sometimes base my “beliefs” on personal experience, and based on my personal experience I’d say many of them are good. Others are clearly in the “questionable” class. So to me, it depends on the vaccine. When our kids were quite young, there was some problem with the whooping cough vaccines – our Pediatrician was a vaccine expert – and he advised us to not get that one for the kids at that time, which advice we heeded. The rest of their shots, they got.

Fluoride? There has been some recent evidence that the stuff actually decays some ethnic people’s teeth instead of protecting them. True? Dunno. If that is true, then the people so affected should be provided with non-fluoride water, or the stuff should not be put in the public water supply. As the Hippocratic Oath put it, Primum non nocere, “First do no harm.”

Moon landing? I’ll buy it.

GMO food? If for no other reason I’d ban it because it is causing the establishment of a food monoculture – which is BAD!!! And I have a visceral objection to being forced to consume known poisons in any form or concentrations, especially when the chemical/herbicide/pesticide companies are sneaking around like weasels and refusing to allow scientific testing of their products (except by them… and can we trust their results? If they won’t let it be tested by independent labs, whether true or not it appears that they have something to hide so I’m doubting they are trustworthy.) All I know is that the stuff they put on crops these days is killing bees… evidence enough for me that it’s not good for us.

Yet despite the weaknesses of the piece, I find that accidently or deliberately, the truth is contained near the end of his article.

Towards the end he puts a quote from geophysicist Marcia McNutt. In regard to asking questions about science issues, she said, “Everybody should be questioning. That’s a hallmark of a scientist. But then they should be using the scientific method, or trust people (who are) using the scientific method, to decide which way they fall on those questions.”

Thank you Ms McNutt. Now all we have to do is figure out how to teach the nation’s politicians, schools and teachers what the scientific method is and how to teach it and use it, and that’s not going to be easy.

Romney, Romney, Romney – Once a moron, always a moron.

Ahhh… Mitt. You’re an idiot. Sorry to be so blunt but truth is truth.

The question about Global Warming the Dems put to the Senate was a trap – and the GOP fell in. In fact, except for one Senator the entire Senate fell in. So I guess you could say that 99% of Senatorial scientific morons agree with you… or are as dumb/stupid/uneducated as you are. When it comes to stupid, being aligned with 99% of stupid people is not a good thing.

The question as put to the Senate by Socialist Sen Bernie Sanders was a 2 parter: “… asks senators to agree or disagree that ‘climate change is real” and is “caused by human activities,’ ”

I’m not going to argue the issue here. In my mind the issue has been settled for years by the climate itself – which hasn’t seen a temperature increase for nearly 19 years (despite the BS put out by the AGW folks, and the fudged temperature reports from the NOAA and NASA people.) You can argue all you want that the un-change was or was not caused by humans. No one really cares.

Contrary to popular belief Science is not determined on the basis of a majority vote. For scientific questions, the answers are determined by UNBIASED observation and testing and examining the discernable FACTS – not by the majority opinions of non-scientific people, or by the pronouncments of people with political agenda. The truth in Science is not the result of opinion polls.

So despite the claims of the Mann-iacs and their hockey-stick attempts to lie about reality, the true majority of “climate scientists” are NOT in agreement with the statement that “Global Warming” exists (since objective data demonstrates that global warming is not happening), or that it is being caused by man (If it’s not happening, it cannot be “caused by man.”)

Over 30,000 scientists have signed a document so stating (http://www.petitionproject.org/), while considerably less than 3000 agree with the AGW claim. (I’ve seen a number as low as 300.) If you want to know how the AGW “scientists” can say that “virtually all ‘climate scientists’ agree” I can tell you how they work that. It’s really quite simple. If you don’t agree with them, they simply don’t consider you a climate scientist, no matter how many degrees you have or how long you’ve been one, and they control all the “climate” publications so you can’t get “published.” At the same time they boost their numbers by considering such people as meterologists as “climate scientists” – which they’re not.

You have unequivocally stated that you BELIEVE in man-caused climate change/global warming. “I’m one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that,” he said Wednesday at an investment management conference in Utah, the Associated Press reported.” (http://onpolitics.usatoday.com/2015/01/22/mitt-romney-climate-change/)

You’d make a lousy President. Good Presidents do not go off half-cocked, buying into every BS fairytale that comes down the pike. So Mitt? Once again I will not be voting for you, for anything. You have proven one more time that you’re an idiot.

My suggestion? Don’t run. You’ve got the people of MA fooled into thinking that you’re competent, or at least putting up with your incompetence. If that’s the best you can do, I’d suggest you stick with that.

Gettin’ BUSY!!!

Why is the slowest time of the year the busiest for me? You know… Winter. When it gets all COLD and the plants and trees die-back, and the animals loaf in their dens and burrows snarfing the food they stashed away all summer, (including the dog food they stole from the dog dish) and the ground does its impression of concrete. (It’s really good at it! I was impressed! Maybe the ground should try out for a part in a movie playing concrete?)

Ordered more bees yesterday. But had to figure out how many I could afford since before I could order more, I had to figure out how much I could spend on new hives for them…) So I ordered more hives to put them in first.
Sighed HEAVILY at what the two things above will do to the old bank account. :-(

Gotta make a trip to town sometime soon to get some stuff… gotta unload the chickin feed from the car first… But today if it’s as “warm” as it’s supposed to be today, gotta start trying to clean up the garden weeds from last year (’cause I didn’t get it done last year – I was too busy cutting fire wood for the winter so I wouldn’t have to do it in the winter… which would cause me to FWEEZE my Widdle Pinkies off!) Gotta mail some stuff in a box. And of course, gotta do some dishes and feed me… but then EVERYBODY has to do that.

Last week had one day break between the 3 day Great Plains Grower’s Conference (where I made a deal to trade some seeds from a wild fruit tree for a couple of plants from a different kind of wild fruit tree.), then got a one day break and had to go to a funeral that was waaaaay out of town… so it was motel time – & pack the stuff I’d need, & make sure I didn’t leave any of it (at either end of the trip).

The funeral was good – even tho it was in the Frozen Wastelands of the North and colder than a Witch’s Twinkie (as my wife puts it)! The deceased (a retired US Navy Seabee) was accorded full military honors including the folded flag, Taps was sounded with a real bugle by a lady named Gloria from Bugles Across America (GREAT JOB BTW! – You ever try to blow a bugle in really cold weather?), the Patriot Guard Riders showed up and froze standing a flag line, there were Legion Riders there, the VFW was there to fire the requisite rifle volleys, the American Legion was there, the Masons were there, a couple of active duty USAF guys in uniform (relatives) participated… did I mention how COLD it was yet all those people showed up? I was impressed! And they really know how to give a guy a good send-off! I’m sure he’d have appreciated it. (It should also be noted that during his lifetime, he had attended many such services for other veterans.)

This is entirely off-topic, but I think y’all need to know what great kids I have. One of my daughters had a trip to Texas a few weeks ago, and while down there (I think) she bought me something. She bought me a “brain cell”… a neuron, to be specific. It’s gray and fuzzy, and kinda funny looking. She said “thought you might need this… ” or something to that effect. Smartazz. Definitely a chip off the old blockhead! I thanked her (’cause I really COULD use a few extras.) And then I told her she should have got me TWO brain cells – so that I’d have at least two of them to rub together. ;-D

 

Today Was A Good Day

Yes. Today was a GOOD day!!!

First, the temp was in the low 50s (F), which made it a day we didn’t have to freeze. We’ve been running electric heaters for the last couple of days because the wood stove wasn’t running right – so yesterday we shut it down so it could cool off and we could dive into it today to see if we could figure out what was wrong with it.

Let me say here that electric heaters are no substitute for a good wood stove!!! Not only don’t they heat as well, but there’s no fire… no cheery flickering flames… no warm glow that you can back up to and toast your rear while holding your hands down at your side getting the cold soaked out of your knuckles. And the wood costs a LOT less than the electric!!!

I shut it down a few days ago for the same reason. It just wasn’t burning right. The draft just wasn’t right. Once it was cool, I took the baffle out and found the baffle gasket was kind of shredded. I have no idea how it got that way, but it didn’t matter. I had one spare gasket, and installed it and reinstalled the baffle. The stove seemed to burn much better, so I ran it the rest of that day, then set it up for the night and went to bed. Got up the next day and I was back to before.

One of the things I used to do for a living was I held and worked under a First Class Stationary Operating Engineer’s License. I ran big powerful boilers and loud machines, and the kind of equipment that roared and scared people who don’t work with it everyday. So I know a bit about captive fires – what they should look like, how the flames should behave, what color the fire should be and why it should be that color. The fire just didn’t seem to be getting enough O2 for a good fire.

Unlike the last time, this time I had my wife present to help me. She asked me questions about the draft, where it came from, how it got to where the fire should be. Trust me. I’d already considered everything I knew about this particular stove’s draft, but couldn’t find a problem with it… other than that it was inadequate. I’d eliminated all the possibilities that I thought I was capable of examining. The things I still thought it could be were walled off from examination by welded steel.

Then my wife… yes… the smart one of the marriage… stuck her fingers down in the front of the fire box and lifted the primary air feed manifold right out of the stove. (I thought it was welded in.) Behind it was a little pile of ash that was blocking the air flow. I got a putty knife and scraped the ash out, we put everything back together, and fired the stove up… YEAAAAHHH!!! HEAT!!!

So… today was a GOOD day. But then I’ve been having lots of good days since I married her 33 1/2 years ago.  :-D

And it was also warm enough to work outside, so we got the plastic up on the windows that tend to leak air, and some home-made bean soup with beans we grew last year, and just kind of hung out.

So now… as it gets dark, I prepare to go up to the chicken house, collect the rest of the day’s eggs, check feed and water, and then come back inside, and toast myself. Yep. Any day you can come inside and toast is a good day. Especially if you have a wife who’s smarter than you.  ;-)

Some Monetary Basics (Replay)

As the “global economy” grows more and more shaky, I thought it might be helpful to repeat some of my “basic money” posts. So here are a few of the most basic with a few advanced/semi-advanced concepts and issues tossed in for good measure – with minor editing being the only changes from the originals. 

Some Monetary Basics (Part I)

(First published version – Wed Dec 24, 2008. Edited and expanded version May 9, 2011)

I’m reading around the internet things that don’t make sense to me. They don’t make sense because apparently the people saying them don’t understand how the international banking and finance system works, and perhaps don’t understand the foundation stones of economics and finance. So I’ll give a shot at conveying some basics – so that maybe some of what’s going on will make more sense.

CURRENCY
Okay – first you must understand currency since it’s the basis of the system.

In the OLD days, currency was either “specie” (Gold, silver, copper, etc coins) or tokens that represented specie, or they bartered goods directly – one for so many of the other. If you borrowed a gold coin from someone, you had to come up with a gold coin or its equivalent value in silver, etc to pay it back. Specie is also known as “hard money”.

The main problem with specie is that there is only just so much of it. A story is told that England was once having a shortage of coinage that was crippling the economy. The king/queen was said to have summoned the religious leaders of the day and told them to bring their “saints” (statues) from the churches to be melted down to make coinage out of – the sovereign was said to quip “Let’s get them out of the church and put them into circulation!”

So a shortage of hard coinage can bring commerce to a halt.

This gave rise to “currency” – which started out as paper or some durable token that REPRESENTED specie. An example is the US Silver Certificate – paper dollars which you used to be able to present at the US Treasury and receive one dollar’s worth of silver for it. This fixed the value of the currency at an equivalent amount of a precious/semi-precious metal. If you didn’t have the metal to back up the currency, you couldn’t print up and hand out currency.

But you still only had just so much metal!

So some wag decided that since the currency was “as good as” the metal, they didn’t REALLY need to have as much metal as currency. So they started printing more currency and just maintaining a “reserve” of the metal for those malcontents and distrustful folks who actually wanted to trade the convenient paper for the heavy old metal.

The amount of currency flourished, and so did trade. But eventually, folks saw that there was so much currency floating around, there couldn’t POSSIBLY be that much metal to back it up. So the ability to trade the currency for the metal at a fixed rate – was ended. (In 1971 Nixon unilaterally abrogated the Breton Woods agreement and took the US off the Gold Standard.)

So… did the world come to an end? No.

Did currency disappear? No.

But as before, the world of finance and the use of money changed. The unchecked printing of money creates what is called “fiat” currency. (More on that later.)

If you have questions, please feel free to ask them. If I don’t know the answer… well… Ummmm….

;-D

Some Monetary Basics (Part II)

(First published version – Dec 24, 2008 (cont.) This part edited and expanded May 11, 2011)

ELECTRONIC MONEY

But like specie, currency had limitations too. Have you ever seen a $10,000 bill? Nope. As far as I know, they don’t make them in the US. So spending a $million could be a tedious affair. (And as we all know, today’s Trillion is yesterday’s Billion!) With the advent of the electronic age it became possible to keep up-to-the-split-second track of transactions – so instead of changing the currency, electronic money/monetary transactions were created. I know people who don’t have check books, don’t carry money. They just have a debit card. I’ve always advised that diversity is good – and having diverse methods of paying for things is really good! One of the people I know who only have debit cards found out that I perhaps wasn’t as dumb as she thought when the power went out in Ontario for a week or three – and she couldn’t even buy a cup of coffee at Timmies!

So, trade goes on, and even though they are just making an electronic transfer of numbers from one account to another, people still talk about “dollars” because at least in the USA for the present, that is the word we use to infer the price/value of things.

FULL FAITH AND CREDIT

Since we don’t back the currency up with metals and such any more – what is behind the US dollar? Why do people accept it in exchange for goods and services? The US Currency is “backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.” Period. Nothing else.

Now – I used to think that that phrase meant that the US stands behind every dollar in circulation including the electronic ones, you know – sort of an honor-bound thing to provide value in return for dollars – to “redeem” dollars with something of real-world value. I was wrong. What I now believe that phrase means is that “as long as people have faith in the dollar (faith that it has value and that others will exchange real/tangible value for it), and as long as the US Government can borrow to back it up (the “credit” part), then the dollar is worth something.”

If people lose faith in the dollar – it’s worthless. It doesn’t even make good toilet paper ’cause it’s not very absorbent.

If the US government loses the ability to borrow, the dollar loses its value as a currency. If the people lose faith in the value of the Dollar, US currency becomes worthless. Those are some pretty shaky blocks to build a national monetary system on, eh?

WHAT USE IS A DOLLAR?

Now we take a leap from what a dollar is – to how it can be used.
– It can be used as a ruler – yes – the US Dollar is EXACTLY 6 1/8 inches long. So you can measure a fish with one and tell if it’s legal length.
– But mostly it is used to measure value – which makes it a medium of exchange. A pair of boots is worth how many chickens? Dunno? Well… if you have a Medium of Exchange (in this case the dollar), you can figure out how much in “dollars” the boots are worth to you, and then see how many chickens you can get with that many dollars.

But remember – the dollar itself has NO intrinsic value!!!

So since it functions as a medium of exchange, you use it as a commodity that REPRESENTS (symbolically) boots and chickens. You can PRETEND it’s a bunch of chickens and instead of trading 34 chickens for the boots, you can just hand over an equivalence in dollars and not bother with the chickens at all.

(First published, Dec 24, 2008 )

Some Monetary Basics (Part III)

Now things get tricky. (Some monetary/economic issues)

INFLATION
What happened was that a lot of clever people in governments (only governments are allowed to make currency) decided that they could just print up as much currency as they needed and spend spend spend. When they started doing that, there came to be LOTS of currency around, so the currency lost its value. (Value of a commodity such as currency is tied to scarcity or plenitude.) When you have more currency/money being created than is needed, it’s called inflation. It takes more inflated currency to buy things because since there is more of the individual units of the currency (“more dollars”), each unit is worth less than before.

Now, I’ve heard a lot of economists say that inflation is the result of “the wage price spiral” but they’re wrong. You can’t HAVE a “wage price spiral” if you don’t have enough money to allow for rising prices and wages. So inflation is NOT caused by wages and prices going up – the wage price spiral is a SYMPTOM of inflation. The ONLY cause of inflation is putting too much money into the economy. Period. And too much money in the economy will kill it just as fast as not enough money in the system. (Not enough money in the system causes “deflation” – where each monetary unit becomes more valuable than before.)

INTERNATIONAL CURRENCY & “PEGGING”
The dollar represents value, but again, HAS no intrinsic value. So… say you’re a new country. You can print up some currency – say some Zlotys – but how will people know what Zlotys are worth in exchange for the stuff they want to sell you? Exactly how many zlotys would a double dip chocolate ice cream cone cost?

You go back to the historical foundation of currency and figure out that you need something to “back the Zlotys” up – something of recognized value like gold or silver. But you don’t have any gold except in your teeth. What to DO? You get a loan from someone who gives you dollars (World Bank?). Then you print up Zlotys (with the president’s picture on one side, an ice cream cone on the other). For every dollar you borrowed, you decide that you’ll print up ten zlotys, making your exchange rate 10:1, zlotys:dollars. Now, instead of gold and silver you are using the dollars you borrowed as your “reserve currency.” You hold the dollars in “Reserve” – so the Zloty is now ALSO “backed by the full faith and credit of the US Dollar.” N’est ce pas?

You say – “We are setting the Zloty at a value of ten Zlotys per US Dollar – this will be a fixed rate of exchange until we get established here, and then we’ll do something else. We’ll allow the Zloty to “float” against the dollar.” In other words people will know how many Zlotys to pay for goods, and how many to get paid for work because EVERYbody knows what a US Dollar is. Then, once your economy gets established, the Zloty can set its own value by the amount of goods and services your economy is creating.

When you fix the value relationship of YOUR currency to another currency at a set rate, like the US dollar, this is called “Pegging” – in this case, “Pegging to the Dollar.” So if the US Dollar has ten percent inflation and loses value – then your currency also loses value, and so on. A peg of one currency to another fixes the value of the inferior currency in relationship to the other.

HAD ENOUGH?

Well… we’ve talked about money – the different forms it takes, what can be done with it, and a few general economic things having to do with money/currency. But what we haven’t talked about until now is EXACTLY WHAT money/currency REALLY IS. Stay tuned for PART IV.

;-D

Some Monetary Basics (Pt IV)

Initially published, Dec 24, 2008 (Edited and expanded 5/17/2011)

Okay – NOW we get down to the IMPORTANT stuff… EXACTLY WHAT IS MONEY/CURRENCY?

Let’s start out with the illustration, then the definition/summary. I think it will be easier for you to follow the concepts that way.

So, let’s say that you decide to go into the lawn mowing business. Okay… you hoof it up and down the street, trying to get your neighbors to “hire” you to mow their lawns. You finally find one, and the two of you agree that you should mow and trim his lawn, and he’ll pay you $25 for the job. So you get busy and do a great job, and he hands over a 20 dollar bill and a 5 dollar bill – transaction complete.

But IS it? No.

What really happened in the above paragraph? You agreed to give up a part of your life and perform a service. Your neighbor agreed to give you a couple of pieces of paper that according to current convention, represented a certain value that you could exchange somewhere for something that you value. So you do that. You ran over your foot with the lawn mower while you were doing the guy’s lawn, so you need a new pair of boots. You take the $25 in paper money to the store and find a cheap pair with steel toes (so you don’t whack your toes off if you run over them again.) And for purposes of our illustration, those new boots cost EXACTLY $25, and there is no sales tax.

So you traded your time and lawn care skills for a new pair of boots. But you didn’t get the boots from your neighbor. What REALLY happened, was you did the work, and your neighbor gave you an IOU for the boots… or for something. Then you gave the currency to the shoe store clerk, who will then use it to pay an employee, or to buy a box of shoe laces or something. So your work has now purchased a pair of boots, and whatever the shoe store owner will in turn exchange your neighbor’s debt to you for something he needs.

But how did the shoe store owner know that your neighbor owed you a pair of boots? He accepted the currency/money as valid representation of the debt owed to you by the neighbor (or someone), and he presumed that the neighbor was good for the debt. BUT – he doesn’t KNOW the neighbor – so how could he trust the IOU?

So… having written at length as to how money/currency is used, and such, we now, FINALLY come to EXACTLY WHAT money REALLY IS!

Money/currency is “Nonspecific Debt.”

That means anyone can collect the debt, or transfer it to anyone else, and it’s as valid as if you wrote a contract with specific names and conditions in it. Why did you take the $25 from your neighbor? Because you ACCEPTED that someone else somewhere else would redeem those notes for something of reasonable value. And the shoe store owner did the same thing when you traded him the paper money for the boots. So you exchanged labor, part of your life, for some unknown person’s promise to pay you something of value in exchange at some time in the future.

So modern economies don’t just create debt by borrowing money – they RUN on debt.

So when you “save money” what are you doing? You are holding someone else’s debt. Can it evaporate? Sure can. How do you make sure that you have value instead of debt? You have to redeem that debt/money for something of (real world, tangible) value so that if the non-specific debt is defaulted on by the sponsor of the paper (government?) – YOU don’t get stuck holding the bag.

CAN you “save for the future”? No. At least not by hoarding money. There is a simple economic/accounting reason/law that it is impossible to “save for the future”, and it’s the reason Social Security can’t work. It is this;

CURRENT OBLIGATIONS MUST BE PAID WITH CURRENT RESOURCES.

If you have a US Savings bond, can you buy food with it? Probably not because like money the savings bond represents debt – but a different kind of debt than money. A US Savings bond is SPECIFIC DEBT – which is to say that the Government (one specific party) owes YOU (the other specific party – your name is on the bond). So before you can redeem that debt (spend it), you must convert it from specific debt to NONspecific debt (money) or change the specified parties. And since you have no way of knowing what the value will be, or will not be of future debt (due to inflation, deflation, default, etc), you cannot save for the future. If you seek to “save” for the future, to “put aside” the fruits of today’s labor/time for use at some time in the future – the ONLY way to do that is to currently redeem your non-specific debt, and your specific debt for some asset, some item of value, that will reliably return CURRENT income/revenue in the future that is likely to have an value comparable to it’s worth today. The classic such investment would be to buy a liquor store. Another classic strategy is to “think generationally” – which is you take care of your parents, and your kids take care of you, and you all build he family’s wealth through the generations.

And just as a sort of extra value thing here – gold, silver, precious metals, gems, etc are no different than corn, beans, and carrots. They are not magic, they do not “hold value” (ie they cannot be counted on to return a specific amount of a commodity in the future) any more than any other commodity. If you think gold is some mystical stuff that will hold value through the ages – you need to talk to the Saudis who decided to abandon the petrodollar for gold. (They refused to be paid for oil with US dollars and demanded to be paid in gold.) After a while of other nations paying for oil with gold, the price of gold went up and up as the Saudis held it – from somewhere around $200 USD an ounce, to over $800 USD. Then the Brits, who IIRC controlled the price of gold at the time DROPPED the price to back to around $200 USD. Again – IIRC, and the Saudis returned to taking USD for oil. I found the outcome of that situation highly amusing.

And it also illustrates another principle – just because a bushel of corn sells for $8 USD today, does not mean it will do so tomorrow. The value of commodities floats against other commodities and against currencies and according to scarcity and need. And always remember – metals like gold, silver, platinum, copper, etc are commodities. So the idea of hoarding gold to protect against a crash of the value of a currency would probably be an ineffective strategy since the dollar price of gold will fall with the rest of the commodity prices. Will it increase in relative value? There is absolutely no way to know that. (Aside – you would have a better chance of retaining value by holding gold than by holding boxes of cornflakes… but it’s a relative thing. :-D)

Do I own gold? Not an ounce. Can’t eat it, can’t use it to stay dry in the rain or warm in the winter. Unless someone else wants to trade me for something else that’s useful, gold is worthless. (Or as a person I know would put it, gold is an “Oooooo SHINY!). And besides – the mythos that has developed around the stuff over the ages makes it dangerous to own. I’ll take my commodities in non-GMO food. :-)

Generally, I think that people who understand the NATURE of money, and the role it plays in our economic lives, have a better chance of doing well when it comes to ordering their own economic lives, than those who don’t.

But that and the above stuff is just my opinion.

Fables and Fairy Tales

Not long ago I posted a piece where I referred to the book, “Mote In God’s Eye” (Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle) and the concept of the Motie Museum, which functioned as a “reset” of knowledge and technology for when (not if) the Motie civilization destroyed itself. The function of the Museum was so that the Moties didn’t have to start from scratch when (not if) they destroyed their civilization.

Then I said maybe we (humans) need a motie museum.

This AM, while having a discussion with my wife about “fairy tales” and myths and legends, it occurred to me that perhaps we DO have a “Motie Museum” of sorts. Perhaps our “museum” doesn’t just have technology in it. Perhaps it also has sociological and cultural tips and pointers, and yes, warnings, as to the best ways to live and to conduct a healthy successful society?

One of the “fables” that came up was the story of Jason and the Argonauts and the quest for the “Golden Fleece”. She had been reading one of the “Science News” type web sites, and it was mentioned that in one location a stream passed through a gold bearing area, and rather than “panning” for gold as the ’49ers did, the people just laid out a sheep skin with the wool still on, and it caught the gold dust and nuggets. Has anyone in Alaska considered doing something like this? Maybe they have. So the story of Jason and the Argonauts is probably based on actual fact/history.

And the fables and fairy tales that demonstrate that honesty is the best policy, and that right action pays rewards, and hard work is rewarding, and that dishonesty (almost) always catches up with the dishonest and there can be dire repercussions from it… perhaps these are timeless principles for creating and maintaining a healthy civilization with happy prosperous people in them?

And perhaps these principles were more than principles… perhaps they weren’t “stories”. Perhaps they are history lessons that we should learn from because violating the principles found in them leads to destruction?

But I’m thinking that even if true, we must remember that humans are what they are. Or said in a different way, “People’s People.” Despite that truth perhaps someone, many someones, wrote the “stories” back in “the day” in the hope that humanity could rise above it’s nature and improve? And how could they do that without a guide map to a better society, to a better life for we humans?

So… find and read a fairy tale today. See what principles you can glean from it… and ask yourself “Are these principles worthy of being followed?” “Would the world be a better place if we all learned from this story?”

I dunno. And I keep coming back to that “people’s people” thing… which is probably why we need “forgiveness.” Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t?

Our Dual Money System

Okay… it has been awhile since I posted an economics article… so for the econ freaks you’re overdue for feeding. today’s input comes from way out on the fringe – ie once again I’m posting my own thoughts and theories that as far as I know appear in NO econ book on theories or systems. ie this (to me) is NEW STUFF!! So get some popcorn and your favorite popcorn-compatible beverage, and maybe… just maybe… enjoy. :-)

It has occurred to me that the economists and gurus of the financial world are missing a VERY big factor in their understanding of the current economic paradigm.

We currently are operating not ONE money tree… but TWO. The Federal Reserve has split the issue of “money” into TWO classes – each operating independently of the other.

Class 1 is the USD, as represented by the wrinkly paper in your pocket (and the “account balances” in your bank accounts and debt instruments, etc). You know… the stuff with all the “security” features that supposedly prevent counterfeiting? (ROTFLMBO!!! Tell that joke to N Korea!). This is what most people, including Nobel winning Ivy Tower Economists, think of when they postulate their “theories” of monetary systems.

When dealing with Class 1 money, it is permissible to use such words as “velocity”, and to postulate grand economic theories about how such money works in an economy.

Class 2 – “the other money” – the “keystrokes” of the FED that don’t ever see the inside of a working person’s paycheck or pocket, that never cross a grocery store counter. This “money” exists ONLY in the books (a second set of books?) of the FED and is completely and wholly IMMAGINARY in any real sense of the concepts involved.

But it’s “real” in the world it lives in. Grand Economic Theories do not apply, and will not work with this class, and the existence of this class of “secret money” is possibly one of the reasons that none of the current economic theories can drill down and figure out how to make reliable projections of economic activity and the causes of various effects that we see as a result of the existence of this “money”.

So the FED “keystroking” a couple of trillion dollars into existence (as in the “purchase” of the bank created MBS currency* from the banks, and the “funding” of the current US Govt excesses) has no effect on the “greater economy” (class 1) and class 2 money will NEVER see circulation in the “greater economy.” Thus it CANNOT BE INFLATIONARY or contribute to “velocity” because it never “turns over”.

Which leads me to wonder why the US Government requires the people to pay taxes since the amounts “keyboarded” will never be paid back, because it’s wholly immaginary money. There is absolutely NO real world connection between tax collection and govt spending levels. In a Dual Money Regime, the two monetary spheres operate competely independently.

Of course, in such a world there would have to be, but to my knowledge is not currently, an equitable way to recompense people who get caught at the junctures of the two systems. For example – how would the government pay the salaries of those it “employs”? How would the Obamanauts pay for their extensive and expensive travel when part of the expenses overlap into the “people’s economy/money”?? (Like the purchase of ice cream cones in Hawaii.)

The closest I’ve come to figuring out how the interfaces work is that the “taxes” “pay” for these overlaps… but it’s possible that the FED has a method of balancing them out of existence – ie subtract “out-of-bounds” class 2 money from class 1 money using the “reserve accounts” of the banking system as a clearing house, or vice-versa? Or possibly just making an “adjusting entry” to clear them through the FRB?

So… if Econ is your thing, you may now think about the above and consider if I’m right, or fulla beans. Have fun.

 

* When you consider that “currency” is really nothing more than “non-specific debt”, when the banks and MERS separated the RE titles from the derivative securities, it became non-specific debt. So by definition, MBSs were in fact currency created by the banks, and like all good fiat, the MBS’ had absolutely nothing of value backing them up. Unless you’re very astute, or an accountant, you’d have missed the great comic theater of the “Stress Tests” – staged by the FRB. ;-D

Who’s Dumber? The Chinese or the Americans Who Buy Their Stuff? (What Difference Does It Make – Chapter 2 )

So… In Chapter 1 of “What Difference Does It Make” I told you about the watches. ( http://michaelepicray.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/what-difference-does-it-make/?preview=true&preview_id=1770&preview_nonce=ccc3aa4010 )

So here’s Chapter 2 of “What Difference Does It Make.” Now I have another (better) example of how buying Chinese may not be in Americas’ best interests.

I went to a Menards store. I saw some nice looking rain gauges. They had metal rods that you could stomp into the ground, a decorative middle (half way up the assembly) and on the top, a structure that holds a glass rain gauge. The glass “vial” looked sturdy and was neatly marked off in cm’s and inches, and it said “Toland” on the glass. It didn’t say “Made in China” anywhere on it. Nice.

Only it WASN’T nice. I failed to notice that the inches were NOT divided as “inches of rain” are divided here in the US (in tenths of an inch). They were divided in inches like on a ruler (in eighths). So you had eighths, halfs and whole inches.

Have you ever divided eighths into tenths? 1/8″ = .125″ (or “one and a quarter tenths of a tenth of an inch) and so on. I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the habit of carrying a calculator to read the rain gauge.

So now I have a rain gauge that is pretty much useless except to catch the rain, which it does admirably. Last night we received 1 3/8th of an inch of rain. Or one and .375″ – which would be 1 and three tenths plus three quarters of a tenth of an inch of rain.

Nope. It just doesn’t work.

So… I went to my trusty old computer and looked up “Toland”. It seems that they make those frilly, pretty much useless “yard flags” that people clutter their lawns with. If people want to clutter their lawns with meaningless flags that’s fine with me. Maybe they are useful in some odd way – like the movement of the cloth/plastic in the wind keeps squirrels from stealing the dog food… maybe. (Is it possible to keep squirrels from stealing dog food?)

So for some reason, they decided to branch out and sell rain gauges. Now, the design of the rain gauge holders they made are probably very similar to little stick-in-your-yard flag sticks. (I’ve never owned a stick-in-the-yard flag) So it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to change the functional form to hold a really tall fluted glass. Think of the possibilities! You could feed the hummingbirds without getting bird doo on the flowers in the beds under the windows! Or… hey… WAIT!!! We could make RAIN GAUGES!!! But we aren’t set up to make little glasses. Sooo… okay. We buy the rain gauges from China! Everything’s cheap in China!

So that’s what they did. They bought the vials from China. And the Chinese dutifully put the measurement markings on them, and proudly put Toland’s name on them, and left off the “Made in China” stickers.

According to the nameless lady at Toland to whom I delivered the bad news (of the screw-up), they have a “whole warehouse of them.”

oops.

I guess that’ll teach them to not buy from China!!! Or maybe in the future they’ll just be more careful in how they order?

So it makes me feel a little better – I have a useless rain gauge but the idiots who bought from China have a whole warehouse of them. And when the word gets out, and the stores like Menards send them all back, maybe they’ll have TWO warehouses of them? Now all they need is a company to figure out how to redo the markings on the glass? Let’s hope they don’t have it done in China.

 

Will

WILL

He had been lying still for such a long time. He hoped his damned leg wouldn’t cramp up now. It was too soon.
The chattering voices of nurses coming on duty floated in through the glass wall of his room. Soon his nurse would come in to check him. She had been there the night he’d come in. After the ambulance ride and bustling confusion of the emergency room, her gentle teasing and this darkened room had been soothing. Her smile reminded him a little of Mavis. Well, to be honest he saw a little of Mavis in most women. Especially since she had gone.
A faint green glow fought free of the monitors buried in the darkness above his head. The tracing faltered for just a moment, then resumed marking off his remaining life in measured paces. It must be nearly midnight. She would come in soon. He thought again about his bum leg, then forced the notion of leg cramps out of his head. Maybe if he didn’t think about cramps, they wouldn’t happen. At least not yet.
His long body lay unmoving between the smooth sheets. He closed his eyes and could see Mavis. The room was their kitchen at the old house and she was washing a sink full of dusty cucumbers fresh from the garden. She’d always marveled at how a man his size could move so quietly. It was no secret to him though. He’d explored every groaning board in that house from the time he’d been big enough to sneak into the kitchen or out to chase boyhood mischief on Halloween.

His approach through the kitchen was flawlessly silent. The pinch on her ample rump was followed by a shriek and a wild spray of water. Then Mavis was pelting him with the dripping cucumbers, driving him from the house. He could still remember laughing till he was too weak to stand. She had joined him in the grass, spluttering about a man his age being “too old for that kind of thing.”

Being alive didn’t feel that good anymore. It hadn’t since Mavis had left so suddenly. He’d never really thought about being old until she’d died. She had left him alone to finish getting old by himself and he missed her with the same fresh ache every day. They had been apart for too long.

But it wouldn’t be much longer, he thought, as the eerie green above him faltered again.

A shadow fell across his quiet legs. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling but he knew it was his nurse. She had told him she would be back tonight, and for just a moment he felt sorry that it would be her. The dim observation lights came on.

“Will?”

His nurse moved closer to the bed. “Will?”

Her voice was a little louder this time. Her warm hand touched his cool one.
“Will?”

She was next to the bed now and he heard the first hint of concern in her voice. Finally he could see her as she leaned over him. This time she shook his shoulder and called more loudly to him, as though to bring him back from wherever he’d gone.

“Will? Are you all right? Can you wake up?”

He could see her arm reaching for the lights poised on either side of his bed. It was going to have to be now . He gathered himself and drew a slow deep breath.

“BOO!”

His nurse gasped and jumped back away from the bed. Mavis was right. He was getting too old for this sort of thing. His leg muscles became a hard knot, but he grinned anyway.

“Gotcha!”

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

Sic transit gloria mundi. How fleeting is Earthly glory.

Have you considered your end? (No – not THAT end! The other one!) With the human population shrinking in some areas, and expanding in others, perhaps we should give some consideration to the carousel of life.

Nope. This isn’t about religion. It’s about you. It’s about the eyeballs that you are reading this with, the brain they are connected to, and the rest of the body with it’s parts and pieces as connected, or not. Have you considered what a stinky smelly mess it is?

Oh, sure. Most people bathe for various reasons. Some to reduce the overt smell of things and out of consideration for the noses of others. Some clean themselves for reasons of health – since your bodily acids and oils can be quite caustic, even to the point of eating your skin. So bathing is generally thought by most to be a good thing.

Now, presuming the existence of the soul, one day, or night, you “wake up” and nothing works anymore. In fact, whatever essense that is you is no longer contained by that lump of now very stinky flesh. And having no further use for it, you drift off to go wherever your “unearthly remains” go.

But what about the smelly mess you’ve left behind? Well… one thing is sure. You can’t clean it up! So what’s to be done with it? Generally that would be up to any you’ve left behind to determine. A wife, a son or daughter, and so on until the authorities find the person who is guilty of being your closest relative, and there they are… stuck with a decision.

Do they fry you and put your ash on a bookshelf in the basement? Take you out and dump you in the cup on the green of the 4th hole – the one you got a hole in one on (after the squirrel bumped it in)? Sneak up and sprinkle you over your ex-wife’s head? Or something ordinary.

Maybe the relative thinks that you’d probably really like an old fashioned burial. You know, the one with the hired mourners weeping and wailing and tearing their clothes as they walk and stumble in grief in front of the hearse, on the way to the cemetary? (You DID want the hired mourners, didn’t you?)

It has gotten to the point  where only the rich, or the credit worthy, can afford a funeral, so it all comes down to the “Relative” to decide what YOU would have wanted.  If they think you’d have liked a New Orleans Jazz Band to lead a procession to the gravesite followed by the traditional “Planting of the  dead”. Sure… that’d be nice… but where’s the money going to come from? (YOU didn’t have any.)

So maybe the relative decides you didn’t really want that, anyway. The relative, whether they liked you or not, now decides a nice cardboard box wrapped with chain, slid off the back end of a fishing boat would be nice. (You DID want to go deep sea fishing, didn’t you? Well that one time you said…)

And it goes on… Have you considered how much nicer it would be for whoever you leave behind if you’d just told a few relatives what you wanted before you checked out without paying the motel bill?

I know… you’re gone and no longer care what happens to what’s left of you. But a lot of people would want to do what you would have wanted if only they knew what that was. Young or old, we know not when the bell tolls for us. Take some time… think about it… and share what you’d like with those close to you. Then they can recieve solace from the fact that they “gave you what you wanted”, which makes it easier for them to let you go. Kinda like them seeing you off on an ocean cruise… for an extended vacation. Then they can go home and get on with their life.

Wouldn’t you want to leave your relatives with that little peace that they’d get? (Well… maybe not. But that’s another post for another day… maybe.)