Thursday, June 19, 2008

Disgruntled at the Gas Pump? Blame politicians chaseing easy tax collections.

Yet again the free market proves that it is wiser than government officials. Here we see the market giving us a golden opportunity to preview future trends. Fueling the current price spike in oil, is the high cost of bringing new oil rigs into production, politico-economic chaos in the OPEC countries, growth of India/China, Middle East warfare, and of course the malicious currency devaluation inherent to any Fiat Money system. That all these mismanaged forces, came together at nearly the same point in history to cause an oil bubble, is quite extraordinary but hardly unexpected. Hopefully this mostly government induced turmoil, has caused a few of you to ask what your options are?

Some politicians talk about nuclear power, coal and drilling local oil wells. This talk is understandable, since such old energy technologies are very easy to tax. Such oil/nuclear facilities cannot be moved, when they fall under heavy taxation. For over 70 years the government has given heavy subsidies to coal oil and nuclear infrastructure projects. By contrast
solar, wind and geothermal power operate best when dispersed. These nascent power sources have received very few subsidies, compared to more centralized power sources, that governments can slap with predatory taxes. Additionally: from the politician's point of view, coal oil and nuclear are also indispensable to military belligerency.

Perhaps the biggest long-term culprit in our current energy crisis, is the fact that governments have pushed industrialization faster than unfettered markets would have developed. For example, you can check the slow growth of industrialization in the 19th century guided by classical (laissez-faire) economics. Then look at the speed of industrialization in the violent government centered 20th century. Indeed the most controlled of the world economies the "beloved" Soviet Union, which remained the unchallenged darling of "intellectuals and statist planners"(looters in suits) world wide, had one of the dirtiest environments imaginable. The current Russian semi-autocracy that was built upon the bones of the old Soviet Union, still has one of the lowest energy efficiency ratings in the industrialized world. Contrast Russia's performance with the United States Great Britain or Switzerland, which despite high automobile use, have much greater efficiencies, at all levels of energy use and production. It is for that reason that we should allow the market to function free of interference.

For many years we've been lied to by governments, both foreign and domestic, simply because the politicians time horizon is on the order of 10-15 years. The majority of politicians need never face up to the messes they made while in office.

However markets that experience very little regulation have a tendency to unveil the truth in dramatic ways. Small and medium-sized private investors must live with the consequences their decisions far beyond the politician's term in office.

The free market was trying to warn us of our dependence on a single energy source for quite some time now. Price spikes in energy every 30 years are abnormal. With all the subsidies, resource wars, rampant currency inflation, and outright theft practiced by governments, it's often hard to hear what the energy markets, have been trying to tell us. For the first time ever, oil well north of the $135/barrel price range, may give the world a preview of possibilities to come. Unfortunately the voters in many countries have often sided with politicians to shoot the messenger, rather than deal with the message. Let's hope that this most recent oil price spike proves to be an exception to the sad historical trend. The energy futures markets are trying to tell us the painful truth and its past time we listened.

H Ross Perot and the Dark ages = Black Death .... Industrial Age = "Black Debt"

In the dark ages there was the Black death caused by bubonic plague. This germ single-handedly cleaned out most of the population of Europe. Lacking any knowledge at this time of viruses, Europeans thought that they were cursed by God and the Devil or whatever. Progress truly is wonderful but it's not utopian.

Fast forward to the present time and we now must deal with a left over the of the industrial age which James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees Mogg refer to as "the black debt". Thankfully the "black debt" is not going to make corpses of you and all your neighbors, but it could make us poor as church mice. ( or worse residents of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe). You see, politicians thought that they could have a society where no one would ever experience true loss and they (the politicians) would get reelected for making sure no one ever lost. The social system is referred to as the "welfare state", and is the dominant social system of the Western world. (for the last 40 years at least).

I imagine the welfare state is a lot like smoking some potent drug. You experience euphoria at never really having to work hard, because the politician plays the role of thief and steals on your behalf. Unfortunately reality has a tendency to reassert itself. I am reminded of the last line spoken in the movie Gandhi with Ben Kingsley. "Think of it, every single tyrant that ever lived, is overthrown". Unfortunately it takes defective social systems a lot longer to pass away than individual tyrants. The Soviet Union passed away being a muscular "male" type of tyranny, but it took more than one leader and one generation to remove it, because it had a self consistent ideology backing it. Now the "female" version of repression where everybody's cared for lavishly at the expense of those who actually produce things of value, is experiencing its first shutters of death...

The shutters are being felt first in the United States. The United States is not the most generous welfare state, but it does have the most inefficient costly and expensive welfare state. In business the high-cost producer will usually disappear rather quickly. Governments however having guns and jails, can delay the inevitable lot longer. Surely the United States government has set the standard and the record for making more promises that can ever keep. The inflation eating your bank account to the tune of 12% a year according is just one the symptoms of this.

Now we are in 2008 and who should come out of the woodwork but a voice from our early 90s past. You guessed it H.Ross Perot is back dazzling us with charts and graphs. I think the poor guy means well, but he tends to start with a bad case of tunnel vision. So I wrote this guy a letter in the comments section of his website. I rather think I did it because of catharsis, rather than an actual expectation that one of his people would read it.

If you want to give H. Ross Perot your two cents, I would watch his presentation here... and then give your reply here...

Here is my response to that colorful millionaire from Texas........

Dear H.Ross Perot and esteemed members his Financial Team

This site fails to include one of the larger problems that exists outside of federal spending. While federal government debt is at record levels it is only one piece of a larger picture. When you add in household debt and debt incurred by all Americans the number stands at a staggering 57 TRILLION DOLLARS.

Increasing tax revenues may have to be done, but the question is "who will pay"? Most Americans are hip deep in debt to begin with and finance their lifestyles this way. Accepting a decrease in lifestyle from one generation to the next has apparently been unpalatable. Both the WWII generation and the baby boom generation after it has attempted to pass the debts it incurred, on to the next generation, via control over the guns and jails (otherwise known as government redistribution programs or the "welfare state").

To Ross Perot and his financial team. I will substantiate my complaints via the following links. This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive concerning the amount of study I have done on total societal debt. After providing you and your team some quick sources I do URGE you to do a more detailed study of the numbers, I will give you now.

Note that abstracts will be provided just above each source. I will give my opinion of the importance of each article as a component of our "black debt".

Let us begin.

The most important article is this one below. as it encompasses the totality of the debt. Implicit in the article: not all tax payers can afford much of an increase in taxes. The change in American lifestyles will have to be massive to have the sort of money in the till needed to fix this crisis.

The monetary conditions that enabled this debt must also be dealt with. In my opinion the fiat money system in INHERENTLY CORRUPT as it has insufficient checks and balances, to punish unwise government/large corporate expenditures. While the fiat money system was necessary during WWII, it should have been abolished LONG AGO. The first people that use the money in a fiat system get the full value and those who use it much later on, have much of the value depleted via inflation (especially working class people as wages are raised LAST in inflation cycles). In addition we all should come to the agreement that FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING be prohibited. Such a banking system meets all dictionary definitions of fraud! Credit crisis is the only possible long term result of dishonest money.

Not all foreign debt is created equal in its capacity to cause financial destruction. Energy debt to foreigners in my opinion must be curtailed even at the high upfront costs inherent to building new infrastructure. Simply put the US will continue to get involved in "oil state wars" until the addiction to foreign oil is broken. Wind and solar along with some good energy storage engineering would be sufficient to break much of this addiction as this all apply's to electricity consumption. New ethanol technology and fuel cells, will likely solve transportation woes. The costs upfront would be very high but a TOTAL BARGAIN compared to the 3 trillion we have spend just 4 years into IRAQ alone. (add in what we spend to reign in other Rogue States/double dealing allies and you save more by making America independent of unstable third world supply. People will pay ANY PRICE to keep the light, heat and transportation going.

Well Ross that is all I have to say. Your numbers are woefully incomplete unless you include debt generated outside governmental structures as part of the national debt. Never the less I greatly APPLAUD your website and a movement toward austerity in government spending. Such a movement will require a Thomas Jefferson style commitment to freedom via limited government.(re-read the Federalist papers if you could) I only hope that more of the adult population sees a return to the Constitutional principals of government, as a necessary change. Time is running out.

Sincerely Mr Angelino

The first rule of human brains!

Rule 1 "New" brain regions help create peace and plenty. "Old" brain regions take control of war, strife and stress. Old brain regions are easyer to access then new regions.

When I talk about an old brain region I am talking about one we share basically share with reptiles or mammals. By new brain regions I am obviously referring to the cerebral cortex that handles the cognitive arts and separates us from creatures that have only the first two older types of brain. Even the brightest dolphins, and chimps are simply not in the human league when it comes to intelligence. Never the less these two older brains sit just underneath the cortex and cause trouble from time to time.

Different parts of the human brain become dominant, based upon the stressors or lack of them in the background environment. Or to put it in plain English: the majority of humans beings do predictable things. Now we have Magnetic Imaging Resonance scanners (MRI) that can tell which parts of the brain light up under any given experience. While there are differences on how male and female brains process data, it's still very easy to predict which part of the brain will light up when you're under stress or paranoid, as opposed to when you're playing with a pet or baby. Peering inside the brain while it's working has revolutionized our understanding of what parts become dominant, when and sometimes ?why?.

Long before MRI techniques, politicians have pressed peoples mental buttons, for often nefarious reasons. For simplicity sake the human brain can be divided up into its reptile, mammal, and cerebral cortex brains. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that separates us from the animals and makes us such geniuses, able to truly understand and manipulate our environment. The mammal brain allows us to empathize and experience emotion. The reptile brain controls our fight or flight response and voluntary muscles. Politicians love the mammal and especially reptile brains, because they can make large number of people do predictable things or vote in predictable ways.

To find out more about how the human brain works. I would strongly recommend the book Evil Genes by Dr. Barbara Oakley Ph.D. Why? Well she is the sort of person who is able to speak in plain English and tell good stories, despite being a P.h.D. Best of all she is refreshingly free of comforting political orthodoxy so fashionable in academic circles. (having first hand prolonged experience with evil will do that to a person.)

If you cannot understand irrational evil, you will not understand politics and the politicians that cash in on it all.

Angelino's rules of "slacker" organization

#2 Angelino's rules of "slacker" organization

Hello Intrepid Reader

You may call me Angelino which in Italian means "little boy angel".

It won't take you long before you realize I'm not a left brained person. However I promise I will occasionally use left brained people (friends as it turns out) to correct the grammar, spelling, and other organizational errors, which the process of creativity labels peer drudgery. Keeping a few things in mind, concerning how I structure my posts, will help the reader get much more out of them.

Technology politics truth and falsehood all stem from the same source. Take a moment to guess. No no no don't try to read ahead, close your eyes for a moment and guess. Make your guess, write it down on the piece of paper (to prevent your mind playing tricks on you). Once you're ready continue to the next paragraph.

If you guessed the human brain you are correct. Politics technology truth and falsehood cannot be understand outside of an understanding of the human brain. Human thought and imagination are limitless, but put people under stress and certain "bottlenecks" occur in how people think. Without stress there would be no politics and no technology. All of the articles you see below will begin and end with the human brain. Many of the oldest reprinted articles are articles about the human brain while most of the technology and politics articles are new. Human brains are very old structures, trying to deal with all these new things, in the environments around them. After 30 some years of watching human brains at work I can tell you that the human brain has a talent for using old answers to new problems. The human element is the one consistent feature in a mental landscape that has been completely remade by technology. While humans can sometimes transcend their limitations, doing that takes effort and most human beings are even more lazy than I.

Expect to see articles that talk about how new technology will influence how people react to old situations in the future. Inventors are truly a class apart among human beings as they are the only ones that really change events. History will repeat itself a lot more without the march of technology and indeed the historical record bears this out. So take a moment to thank the inventors you read about in your history books. They're the only ones that freed you up from living the "nasty brutish and short" life, which people lacking access to technological inventions, take for granted. Making educated guesses about how human beings use or abuse new technology, is great fun. Technology is good for history because it cuts down on the tedious repetition.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In The Beginning

Politics Technology Truth and Falsehood... an Introduction

Perhaps one of the oldest stories passed down from oral tradition comes from Africa. Its original name was "Water, Fire, Truth, and Falsehood." I have not heard this story since grade school. Yet despite the fading of memory, the story goes something like this....

Long ago, Fire, Water, Truth, and Falsehood lived together in one large house. Although all were polite toward each other, they kept their distance. Truth and Falsehood sat on opposite sides of the room. Fire constantly leapt out of Water’s path.
One day they went hunting together. They found a large number of cattle and began driving them home to their village. “Let us share these cattle equally,” said Truth as they traveled across the grasslands. “This is the fair way to divide our captives.”
No one disagreed with Truth except Falsehood. Falsehood wanted more than an equal share but kept quiet about it for the moment. As the four hunters traveled back to the village, Falsehood went secretly to Water and whispered,”You are more powerful than Fire. Destroy Fire and then there will be more cattle for each of us!”
Water flowed over Fire, bubbling and steaming until Fire was gone. Water meandered along, cheerfully thinking about more cattle for itself.
Falsehood, meanwhile, whispered to Truth. “look! See for yourself! Water has killed Fire! Let us leave Water,m who has cruelly destroyed our warmhearted friend. We must take the cattle high in the mountains to graze.”
As Truth and Falsehood traveled up the mountain, Water tried to follow. But the mountain was too steep, and Water could not flow upwards. Water washed down upon itself, splashing and swirling around rocks as it tumbled down the slope. Look and see! Water is still tumbling down the mountainside to this day.
Truth and Falsehood arrived at the mountaintop. Falsehood turned to Truth and said in a loud voice, “I am more powerful than you! You will be my servant. I am your master. All the cattle belong to me!”
Truth rose up and spoke out, “I will not be your servant!”
They battled and battled. Finally they brought the argument to Wind to decide who was master.
Wind didn’t know. Wind blew all over the world to ask people whether Truth or Falsehood was more powerful. Some people said, “A single word of Falsehood can completely destroy Truth.” Others insisted, “Like a small candle in the dark, Truth can change every situation.”
Wind finally returned to the mountain and said, “I have seen that Falsehood is very powerful. But it can rule only where Truth has stopped struggling to be heard.”
And it has been that way ever since.

Excerpted from
Heather Forest’s Wisdom Tales from Around the World (World Storytelling), August House, 1996.

I thought it only fitting that a blog about technology and politics would use as its founding story a fable out of Africa. You see, modern humans originated from Africa and migrated everywhere else. Every other part of the globe was colonized from that claw rift of Tanzania. From there, we took our Palaeolithic habits of thought with us. Despite many technological revolutions and extraordinary genetic drift, despite the extraordinary distances that humanity traveled and extraordinary tools that we've created, the human mind is still a Stone Age design. Expecting human beings to become perfectly moral, now that we have better technology and better education, is both utopian and naïve.

Let's lay down some limitations that plague the Stone Age brain, in this Information Age. Human brains have difficulty coping with a number of things they have to learn in modern times, in order to become successful. Genetic change is very slow. While human beings are extraordinary, the "hardware" (brain cells) that our "software" (consciousness) is based on, is struggling with novel 21st century demands .

Before talking about technology or politics, it's really useful to talk about the human brain and its splendors living alongside its embarrassing limitations. Always remember that human software is unbelievably adaptive, but is limited by the hardware that it runs on. That hardware is our bodies. Predicting future trends or headline making events, tends to require a non-politically correct view of how human beings, actually think. In subsequent articles I will go through the limitations of the human brain, as reference material for all the things I comment on later. I will intersperse these articles with current events in politics.

Writing out the less glamorous aspects of human thought, will give us the earliest tools we need to craft institutions, which save us from our own worst instincts.

*****For those of you who read my old blog (before it's hosts disappeared)... You will find many of the articles about the human brain are repeats, for the benefit of new readers.****