Stupid Gov Tricks

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“Additional Liquidity”

Okay, so lemme see if I can get this blog thingie off the ground... Grunt grunt groan push ...

You remember when you would replace all of that great alcohol that you stole from your parents' liquor bottles with water, carefully marking the side of the bottle first, so as to remember how much it took you to get wasted? Well, I don't either because I never could stand alcohol until I turned about 40 or so, and my parents didn't smoke pot, so I had to... well, I'm getting off track here.

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In Keeping With the Times, I Propose a New Name for the USSA Dollar

I think pretty much everybody who’s given any attention to recent economic news knows where Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson worked before climbing into the govcart; similarly, they also know that his bail– financial fascism tsar is also from that company. The ties between Goldman Sachs and the Treasury go deeper than that, however. Keeping the cozy relationship in mind, and heralding the Brave New World unfolding before us, I humbly submit a more fitting name for the currency: the Sachson.

It seems fitting, in more ways than the obvious one.

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Markets Are Not ‘Magic’; But They Are Delicate

Just the headline alone was enough to start my head shaking: U.N.’s Ban questions faith in “magic” of markets. Here are the first three paragraphs for additional context:

The global financial crisis endangers efforts to reduce world poverty and demands a new approach with less "uncritical faith in the 'magic' of markets," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.

The financial turmoil roiling world markets put at risk the achievement of the U.N.-agreed Millennium Development Goals set in 2000 to halve global poverty by 2015, Ban said in his opening address at the United Nations General Assembly.

"The global financial crisis endangers all our work -- financing for development, social spending in rich nations and poor, the Millennium Development Goals," he told world leaders gathered in New York for the annual meeting.

Ban is also quoted toward the end of the article (not really worth reading beyond the quotes included here) as saying, “We must think about how the world economic system should evolve to more fully reflect the changing realities of our time.”

Both of these statements reveal a deep ignorance of markets and how they work, and the typical hubris of politicrats everywhere: for anything to work, they must have their fingerprints all over it. Markets are not magic. When unfettered by regulations, they can seem magical because of their fluidity, and the speed at which they can work. Think of eBay, back in the day before they got control–happy—a person who wanted to buy something could search there for a seller, and if he found what he wanted, he’d put a bid on it. If his was the highest bid, he bought the item. A seller could set a minimum price for his item in order not to lose money or to guarantee a minimal profit, but because of competition from others selling identical or similar things, if his minimum was too high he risked losing buyers. Freedom and transparency mean markets work smoothly and fast, when buyer and seller connect in good faith; thus it can seem like magic, especially to those who haven’t thought about the processes.

But markets are delicate things. Interference of any sort can set in motion all sorts of consequences, which sometimes compound. Absent a clearing of these problems, they continue to compound and possibly expand until the market seizes up—as we have seen over the past year.

What can mess with a market? Attempts at cheating can temporarily screw one up. Once that attempt becomes known, however, not only is the game up for the cheater, he now has a damaged reputation that will haunt him in future endeavors. As long as information is available to those in the marketplace, cheating will eventually be discovered somehow.

Rules that tip the market in one way or the other, or allow participants to hide aspects of their activities, can completely skew markets. And thus it is that when politicians try to help ensure fair markets, they inevitably destroy the “magic” of a free market. The free market—which isn’t really a structured system at all; it is simply an aggregate view of individual transactions—morphs into a structured system. And that system begins to favor some at the expense of others. Or it allows cheating. Or it discourages advances. Or any of a number of other things can happen that ultimately hurt, rather than help. This is why any and all interference ends up going wrong; but in their zeal to do good (or at least give the appearance of doing something), all would-be leaders fail to see that the best way to help is to do nothing at all.

Planning is a good thing, especially when flexibility is an integral part of the plan. But one cannot plan and control markets nor the aggregate world market. Ban’s last comment, quoted above, neatly encapsulates the shortsighted hubris of central planners everywhere: there is no way to direct a market without interfering in it. More importantly, the only “reality of our time”—or of any time—is that change is the only constant. And as a constant, it can vary wildly. (Heh.)

This is why agorism is the solution to today’s problem, and indeed every problem of market interference. Agorism is a free, voluntary marketplace of exchange. No, it isn’t perfect; there will be attempts to manipulate it somehow, and natural market changes as technology advances, fashions and tastes change, etc. mean that market sectors will die out—but new ones will spring to life. There’s always risk, but there is also always opportunity. I would much rather take my chances in a free market than any manipulated one.

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“Idiot ‘Leaders’ Finally Begin To Grasp Truth”

That’s what I consider a more reality-oriented headline for the New York Times article, Congressional Leaders Stunned by Warnings. Some excerpts from throughout the article [links omitted, all emphasis mine]:

It was a room full of people who rarely hold their tongues. But as the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence at first. ....

As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.” ....

“What you heard last evening,” he added, “is one of those rare moments, certainly rare in my experience here, is Democrats and Republicans deciding we need to work together quickly.”

Although Mr. Schumer, Mr. Dodd and other participants declined to repeat precisely what they were told by Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson, they said the two men described the financial system as effectively bound in a knot that was being pulled tighter and tighter by the day.

“You have the credit lines in America, which are the lifeblood of the economy, frozen.” Mr. Schumer said. “That hasn’t happened before. It’s a brave new world. You are in uncharted territory, but the one thing you do know is you can’t leave them frozen or the economy will just head south at a rapid rate.” ....

Lawmakers in both parties described the meeting in Ms. Pelosi’s office on Thursday night with Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke as collaborative, and that they were prepared to put politics aside to address the needs of the American people. ....

But it was clear they continued to examine ways to make clear that the government was stepping up not just to help the major financial firms but also to protect the interests of American taxpayers and families by safeguarding their pensions and college savings, and by preventing any further drying up of consumer credit.

I would have hoped that part of that “stunned silence” included these bozos realizing—finally—that no group of individuals, no matter how bright nor how many degrees and pedigrees they bring to the table, can manage all the vast markets that comprise an economy. And really, can we even separate out “economies” that correspond to the imaginary lines on our maps in a meaningful way? With individuals and groups from all over the globe buying property and corporations in the USSA, and of course the importing and exporting that goes on constantly, and foreign investment/support in Treasury instruments and the FRN itself, where does the USSA economy end and another entity’s begin? But such a hope is always in vain, and thus it was revealed yet again that the hubris of the ruling class knows no bounds: more intervention will save us all!

The question is, how? How does one save the taxpayers by stealing even more of their wealth and redistributing it? How does it help them when that process props up the very companies that misrepresented their goods, allowed applicants to lie about assets and then didn’t even bother to check out the lies in approving mortgage loans far beyond their ability to repay? Since when do such crappy businesses deserve to even stay in business, let alone to receive even more corporate welfare? Oh, right: since crony capitalism became synonymous with “free markets” and passed off as what underpins the USSA economy.

I have never claimed to be an economics whiz, but I know enough to realize that shuffling paper around does not inherently add value—yet that was precisely what drove much of the last growth cycle. I also understand that one cannot indefinitely create credit out of thin air; there will be a reckoning when the “assets” that back it are found to be insufficient. And thus, I think that a Mr. Wolfgang Münchau was spot on when he pegged the current crisis as one of solvency, not liquidity—way back in March, no less. People all around the world understand the basics of budgeting and running a household, and successfully resist the temptation to overextend themselves. It is not terribly complicated, except in the heads of central bankers who cannot resist pushing the buttons and pulling the levers; nor in the minds of the politicians who make contradictory promises out of both sides of their mouth without a thought as to who will bear the costs (or how they will be borne).

No matter what action they take, it hurts, because it limits the freedom that markets must have to operate properly. Letting companies that were imprudent and/or unethical fail is the swiftest course out of the mess that’s coming, but we can already see that is not the course the central bankers and politicians will choose. It will be more intervention, more pain, and a very protracted correction that will be far worse than marking everything to market now and clearing the debris. Ma and Pa Main Street do not have lobbyists on the Hill, you know; but the investment bankers, real estate brokers, and other “market sectors” all do.

To all the commentators and “analysts” who are now bemoaning the end of the free market in this country, I can only ask: Where the fuck have you been? There has been no systemic free market here, ever. Even whatever black markets exist are pressured by rules and regulations and their promised punishments in the mainstream marketplace.

What can we do to minimize the coming pain? Being in this country, that’s a very tough question, as we will not be able to avoid the dollar crash that is gathering momentum already. But we can minimize the damage by finding and creating agorist networks, and using them to step outside of the crashing mainstream economic system as much as possible. I’ve been meaning, for far too long now, to create a list of pro-freedom businesses and entrepreneurs; I’ll do my best to get something up before the weekend is out, even if it’s very rudimentary. If you have an agorist business and want to be included on the list, let me know. Other ideas are of course welcome in the comments.

Systems rise, and systems fall. Through it all, enterprising individuals can be amazingly resilient, in part because they stay outside the system and can see and act on trends more nimbly. That kind of activity is what’s needed now, both for enhanced survival and for teaching others what a true, freed market is. The faster we escape from the dog–chasing–its–own–tail pseudo-solutions offered by the federal government, banksters, and others of that ilk, the better.

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If You Really Want to Worry About the USSA ...

The chart behind the curtain will probably accomplish that. I snagged it from some econ blog I happened across. It’s kinda big and might mess up the formatting here for those of you with smaller screens, but I dare not shrink it further, as it’s barely legible as is.

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Will the New Tobacco Shenanigans Clear Up Old Inconsistencies?

Not being a smoker, and not having one in the household, I just now learned that the politicrats are looking to further demonize this particular leaf. And yeah, we all know the answer to the question I posed, but for grins, let’s play along for a short while.

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Connecting the Dots—To Reveal a Harsh Reality

My, my, my. The bad news has been mounting fast for all the healthocrats protecting the USSA flock. Crows might become an endangered species soon. It could happen ... if all the nanny-ninnies were intellectually honest enough to admit that they’ve been wrong for decades.

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Speaking of Hubris, Congress Seems to Have Plenty

There’s been a lot of grouching lately about how Congress isn’t focusing on the “important things”, such as the the federal budget, the general economic slump in the USSA, and the wars it allowed the president to start. Given the mediocrity with which they’ve handled these issues—which are by and large the inevitable result of bloated state government—isn’t better that they focus their time on such ponderous matters as obstetric fistula, congratulating Israel for being around for 60 years, a national bicycling strategy, “celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother’s Day”, Frank Sinatra Day, steroid use in baseball, and spying in football? The way I see it, the more time they spend on such idiocies means there’s less time for the Congressmen to steal away our time and money. Alas and alack, however, one has gotten a grand idea for addressing the steep oil price increases of late.

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Psychological Marginalization

Do you have a mental disorder? If you answered “no” with little thought, you may need to reconsider. According to information on the National Institute of Mental Health web site, a 1993 study estimated that over 20 percent of Americans 18 and over “suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year” (emphasis mine). In the same paragraph this fact was given, it was stated that “many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a time”.

How did “mental disorders” come to be so common? Since the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was published in 1952, what has been considered a “mental disorder” has ballooned. Here are some things that are currently considered “mental disorders”:

  • You could have a “substance-related disorder” if you use too much marijuana, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, or a number of other substances—including many prescription medications.
  • Get too much sleep? Not enough sleep? Have nightmares or sleep apnea? They’re all psychological disorders.
  • Don’t desire sex much? That’s hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Don’t get aroused easily? That’s a disorder too, as is not having orgasms.
  • Are you shy? Don’t like being in crowds? You could have a social phobia.
  • Here’s today’s trendy diagnosis for being a nerd: Asperger syndrome.
  • And we don’t want to forget the children, who can get diagnosed as having: a “feeding disorder of infancy or childhood” (essentially being a picky eater); attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; stuttering; and something called “selective mutism”—where a child who’s capable of speaking will not do so in certain situations, usually school.

The short answer—and a telling explanation in its own right—for why diagnostic categories and “disorders” have increased is insurance coverage. Insurers are more likely to pay claims for things that are diagnosable—hence, lots of things are now “diagnosable”. And while this is scary enough for the bureaucratic nightmares it implies, there are other—and to me, much more important—considerations.

Although I’m a psychologist, I’m not a clinical psychologist; I’m far from an expert in this area. My interest is very personal. I’m someone who many individuals have felt comfortable talking with about these, and other personal matters. It also happens that, according to the list above as well as certain psychological tests, I could be considered as having several “mental disorders”.

I put that term in quotation marks because, as the examples above suggest, the concept has become so stretched as to lose its meaning for me (and others, including some experts). Making so many things “mental disorders” encourages individuals to consider themselves victims—somehow unworthy of appreciation, or unable to achieve goals, or inferior in some other way. It also encourages dependencies—upon the largesse of the state for support; upon the diagnostic label as an excuse for failure or a copout from even trying; and upon that victim status as a tidy means of summing up what an individual is.

For me, the worst aspect of this “psychological medicalization” is the influence it can have on an individual who isn't “disordered” or ill in any way. Let me use myself as an example.

From some of my earliest memories, I can recall realizing that I was quite different from others in my family—and that they didn’t appreciate my differentness. I was a dreamer, endlessly inquisitive, and a tomboy. When I was in college, as a psychology major I had the opportunity to take various psychological tests for educational (rather than diagnostic) purposes. According to one widely used test, I scored “deviant” (meaning outside the statistical norms) for introversion, and “borderline deviant” for masculinity. A retake of the revised version of that test just a few years ago gave essentially the same result, but added the possibility of “problems with authority and authority figures”—no doubt picking up on my individualist-anarchist principles. From the list above, I could have: caffeine substance-related disorder; sleep disorder; social phobia; and if I were a child today I would be very likely be diagnosed with “selective mutism”.

That’s seven disorders, without even breaking a sweat.

Despite all those possible “disorders” I am a highly functioning, responsible adult living a fairly contented life. I have never let them influence my actions, in large part because by the time I was in college and took the first test that labeled me as “deviant”, I knew that I was different—and I knew that was a good thing. Even so, it was a difficult struggle for me to come to terms with being different. There are many others who never do, and who lack the understanding of “mental disorders” to know how meaningless that term can be.

Many individuals close to me have confided (or demonstrated) their own differentness. Some, like me, have come to value them, while simultaneously realizing the challenges they may bring. Others seem troubled by them and seek to hide, deny, or “fix” them in some way. That, to me, is the real tragedy of the bloating of “mental disorders”.

Some of the most creative individuals in our history are those who’ve danced at the edge of normality. They include Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edvard Munch, Mozart, Syd Barrett, Cole Porter, Kurt Cobain, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, T.S. Eliot, and Emily Dickinson. Will today’s culture produce a powerfully haunting writer like Mark Vonnegut, or are we doomed to white-bread entertainment because those who dance at that edge feel so marginalized they don’t dare draw attention to themselves? With today’s children being forced into social situations (as a treatment for Asperger syndrome) or forcibly drugged so they stay in their seats at school, dare I even hope for a better future? It’s very hard to do so.

Several individuals I know who are “different like me” already self-censor in various ways, or have expressed concerns about his or her “disorder” (often self-diagnosed based on popular reports, rather than tests or mental health consultations—not that those are necessarily more accurate). Parents confide fears about their children’s futures while trying to force them into stultifying, safe categories.

Every time I see something like that happen, I cringe. The wonderful individuality that makes humanity so rich and fascinating shrinks a bit more. Because of a fear of being marginalized simply for being different—a fear that is sadly justified—an individual’s potential is limited. The world is dimmed for a loss, the scope of which we will never know. That’s infinitely more tragic than trying and failing.

Don’t let your unique light be needlessly sacrificed to the cult of conformity—to those who would marginalize some of the best things within us.

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Oh, There’s Plenty of Blame to Go Around

Sorry, I’m still stuck in econ-land ... hard not to be fascinated by how exactly the USSA economic train is going to end up jumping the rails.

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A Ray of Hope on Real ID

The headline I saw this morning is cause enough for a bit of celebration: Real ID is postponed for 5 years. The main points:

The Bush administration hit the brakes Friday on a controversial law requiring Americans to carry tamper-proof driver's licenses, delaying its final implementation by five years, until 2017.

A number of states have balked at the law, objecting to it largely over cost and privacy concerns. But under the administration's new edict, states that continue to fight compliance with the law face a penalty: Their residents will be forbidden from using driver's licenses to board airplanes or enter federal buildings as of May 11 of this year.

Some might view that “penalty” as a negative, but I don’t, overall.

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What’s in a Name—Really?

It’s to be expected from the govgoons and burricrats, of course—it is part and parcel of their desire to track, and to be efficacious in tracking, individuals throughout all their activities, across all their days. But I have seen the cry echoed across one too many a private place. “You should have to use your real name!” squawk the parroting, semi-non-thinking plebes. Well, pray tell me this first: what is a real name—and what is real about a name?

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If You Think a Line-Item Veto is Bad, Get a Load of This

A friend who has the misfortune to live in Wisconsin recently told me of some gubernatorial shenanigans going on in the land of cows and corn. It is astounding what governors there have been allowed to get away with.

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Another Sad Day—This One for Real Money Enthusiasts

Courtesy of Gold Anti-trust Action Committee comes word of fedgoons killing the competition—to wit, Feds raid Liberty Dollar and seize and freeze everything [emphasis mine]:

Dear Liberty Dollar Supporters:

I sincerely regret to inform you that about 8 this morning a dozen FBI and Secret Service agents raided the Liberty Dollar office in Evansville, Indiana.

For approximately six hours they took all the gold, all the silver, all the platinum, and almost two tons of Ron Paul Dollars that were just delivered last Friday. They also took all the files and computers and froze our bank accounts.

We have no money. We have no products. We have no records to even know what was ordered or what you are owed. We have nothing but the will to push forward and overcome this massive assault on our liberty and our right to have real money as defined by the U.S. Constitution.

We should not be defrauded by the fake government money.

But to make matters worse, all the gold and silver that backs up the paper certificates and digital currency held in the vault at Sunshine Mint has also been confiscated. Even the dies for minting the gold and silver Libertys have been taken.

All this has happened even though Edmond C. Moy, the director of the U.S. Mint, acknowledged in a letter to a U.S. senator that the paper certificates did not violate Section 486 and were not illegal.

But the FBI and Secret Service took all the paper currency too.

The possibility of such action was the reason the Liberty Dollar was designed -- so that the vast majority of the money was in specie form and in the people's hands. Of the $20 million Liberty Dollars, only about a million is in paper or digital form.

I regret that if you are due an order, it may be some time until it will be filled, if ever. It now all depends on our actions.

Everyone who has an unfulfilled order or has digital or paper currency should band together for a class-action suit and demand redemption. We cannot allow the government to steal our money.

Please don't let this happen.

Many of you read the articles quoting the government and Federal Reserve officials saying the Liberty Dollar was legal. You did nothing wrong. You are legally entitled to your property. Let us use this terrible act to band together and further our goal -- to return America to a value-based currency.

Please forward this important alert so everyone who possesses or uses the Liberty Dollar is aware of the situation.

Please go here to sign up for the class action lawsuit and get your property back:

Thanks again for your support at this darkest time as the damn government and its dollar sinks to a new low.

Bernard von NotHaus, Monetary Architect
Liberty Dollar
Evansville, Indiana

Now, are there any other questions as to why I’m a hard-core anarchist?

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Pay No Attention to the Economy or USD, the Malls are Under Siege! (maybe.)

Good fucking grief. All day I’ve been reading headlines such as Credit crunch has just begun, Dollar slides across board, Preparing for hard times, and Ailing U.S. consumers might foreshadow recession, then this piece of excrement pops up: FBI warns of possible shopping mall attacks. The first paragraph says it all, in simple English:

An FBI report warned al Qaeda may be planning to strike shopping malls in Chicago and Los Angeles during the Christmas season, but a bureau official said on Thursday there was no information it was a credible threat.

Got that, citizen? Pay no attention to your savings, investments, and purchasing power swirling down the world toilet—the mall may come under attack. To the barricades!