Geeks vs the Government | Game On - Part 2/3

» This entry is Part 2, continued from Part 1, which is posted here » Geeks vs the Government | Game On - Part 1. It was split into three parts in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization.

And now, here is the continuation of » Geeks vs the Government | Game On.

Spiral Twilight ZoneReality Check

Okay, my ego realizes that Ben's "massive fiscal cliff" comment is more of a stretch than the ones made by James Grant & Richard Fisher, but there have been other such examples I could cite ..

.. where it sounds like prominent economic people have begun touting concepts that sound remarkably similar to the ones I put forth in that New Year's eve entry. But, like I said » it's NBD.

If you happened to read my holiday entry, you know it contains MANY such unique concepts and ideas .. cuz I never heard of them myself .. until they started popping into my head.

I mean, it wasnt like I was trying to think about this stuff in great detail (.. depressing shit that it is). Because the closer you look, the more worrying it becomes. Ignorance is bliss .. reality is not.

These ideas seemed to come to me ON THEIR OWN .. while I was minding my own business .. or taking a shower .. or preoccupied with other things .. as tho my quest for some semblance of Economic understanding had somehow morphed (.. on its own) into an Indiana Jones hunt for solutions.

Maybe it's a geek thing (.. problem solving). Either way, me » "Wow!"

[ Think I'll buy a few extra bags of rice & beans come December. On second thought, this might be a good year to plant / grow a garden. ]

And even my ego feels uncomfortable sharing the #1 coolest, uncannily similar comment I've noticed coming from prominent economic people (.. two of them). I mean the evidence is there. Strikingly so.

But .. perhaps it's just another coincidence. Later in today's entry, I will include a link to a clue. Here's a hint for now » Magic Mountain.

And if you start hearing talk about how we should be running our economy LESS like a Free Money Tree (FMT) for a small group of politically connected cronies ..

.. and MORE like a military reactor [ .. something powerful-n-dangerous, with the ability to ruin the lives of many, and thus regulated as such .. ]  you'll know THAT idea also came from me.

Society, Values & Ethics

What would happen to the economy, and to the stock market, if tomorrow we balanced our budget and the Fed zero'ed its balance sheet?

I'm not talking about actually paying down our debt. Rather merely not going further into debt and removing the artificial stimulus.

Does not the essence of the US$64T question seem to be » "Is keeping the markets artificially inflated today ..

.. 6 months before a presidential election and nearly 4 years after the financial crisis of 2008 ..

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948).. MORE IMPORTANT THAN our children's future?"

Because we do this at our children's expense. At what point does enough become enough?

Anybody sat down to calculate that number? (Why do I doubt it?)

At what point does economic "stimulus" (.. for which our children receive the tab) become immoral?

Does it EVER become immoral? Do we keep running Trillion dollar deficits 'til kingdom come?

Perhaps an easier question » when is it NOT immoral?

Are low interest rates really a valid reason for loading our children's future with debt? Come on, Laura. You must've skipped Ethics in school.

I mean, sure .. if we wanna borrow at historically low rates .. and stick the money in a reserved fund somewhere .. where nobody (i.e. no crackhead-like spend-crazy politicians) can touch it .. then, sure, "Let's do it."

But that isnt what's happening. No, ma'am. Rather we are spending every penny fast as we can. And it seems like a disproportionate share of this debt is going into the pockets of those who need it least. Does it not?

Okay, I'm going to reread this one, but the first time thru, I thought, "That must be some good Koolaide you're drinking." Black is white and white is black.

Oh, and you might wanna stop quoting Larry .. cuz he has a track record and it has failed the smell test. Badly.

Hey, look! There's Gandhi. Let's ask him .. and see what he has to say.

"Mr. Gandhi! Excuse me, sir. Can we have a moment of your time? We'd like your opinion on a matter."

Notice how today's BAD economic news is considered GOOD news .. by Investor$ & Trader$ & Folk$ who own stocks .. cuz that means that our political and economic leaders (.. not the most scrupulous people you've ever met) are more likely to throw EVEN MORE MONEY at the problem.

Not THEIR money. No, sir. That shit would most certainly come to a screeching halt if it were THEIR money.

However you happen to parse this effect / response (.. black is white and white is black), it means our leaders are more likely to transfer the NEGATIVE EFFECTS of today's poor political and economic decisions onto future generations.

Think about it .. in terms of morality, ethics, and future generations.

Those, my friend, are VALUES questions. They involves many factors. But, at least ONE of these aspects under consideration should include » ethics (.. seeing that children can't vote).

Because, if you eliminate ethics from the decisions that affect both society and future generations .. and simply SELL THEM [ .. the decisions that affect society and future generations ] to the highest bidder ..

.. as Capitalists have been known to do .. obviously, the highest bidder will prosper, and thus prospering, be therefore able to afford / purchase even more decisions.

The result » a self-perpetuating, self-reinforcing, ever-strengthening recursive cycle that benefits both the BUYER & the SELLER .. at the expen$e of everybody else.

Sound familiar? It should .. cuz it describes the relationship between Washington & Wall Street. It's called the "Revolving Door Syndrome".

Todd Harrison | CEO MinyanvillePolitical Capture

This is something that people everywhere are conscious of. Wonky types use the term "political capture" to describe and refer to the End Result of this phenomena.

Near the end of this video (at t=2:40), Todd Harrison, the CEO of Minyanville, and a guy who sounds very level-headed and well spoken, says:

"I would argue -- and this is a delicate conversation -- that if we're not careful in terms of how we move forward on a regulatory basis and thru a social-mood lens ..

.. then the free market capitalist system -- which, uh, we HAVENT HAD *true* free market capitalism in a few YEARS now -- that's in danger of surviving for the next 10-20 years."

Key phrases » "delicate conversation" and "danger-of-surviving".

Watch the video yourself. It's only 3 minutes long. And you'll see that he could not be more sober, rational and level-headed. He is wearing a suit and tie, and his arms are not waving in the air.

[ I mean, I would be more than happy to translate that into less delicate terms .. if you'd like.]

I am surprised Todd uttered these words in a public forum .. seeing that he WORKS FOR wealthy people with lots of money to invest .. people who, if they ever heard such a statement, might FIRE HIM (.. withdraw all their money from his accounts, from which he takes a cut).

Let's parse the 'delicacies' of his comment. By using the somewhat vague term "social-mood," he seems to be referring to social INEQUALTY .. which is okay for somebody like Stiglitz to talk about .. cuz Stiglitz doesnt work as a Money Manager for exceedingly Wealthy clients.

If I had, for example, lots of money invested with Todd and his company, and I heard him making such comments .. I might believe that he was advocating the "reallocaton" of my assets (socially) to those "others" .. who have less. Much less.

While this is certainly a noble gesture, it also, given his profession, comes with RISK, which investors tend to shun, unless it comes with appropriate compensation.

My sense here is that Todd's statement is an indication of just how bad the system has become. For if it werent that bad, he never would have been so bold to utter it in public.

The only thing worse than all investors pulling their money out of Todd's company .. would be .. the disintegration of that SY$TEM altogether. In which case it wouldnt matter.

Debt-Deflation Death Spiral & the End of Civilization as We Know it

Speaking of the "danger-of-survival," there's an 8-minute video posted at CNBC » HERE, where an ordinary-looking guy named Richard Duncan argues that out current economic crisis is all about » CREDIT ..

.. .. and he says that, when we broke the gold-money link 40 years ago (under Nixon), we removed all constraints on the creation of credit, which subsequently increased 50-fold (.. from $1 Trillion to $50 Trillion) in 43 years ..

.. .. but that credit can expand no further, because the private sector can no longer repay the DEBT it already has.

Duncan says (at t=7:00), "If this credit bubble pops, the depression could be so severe that I honestly don't think our civilization could survive it."

At t=3:00 he uses a term I've never heard before » debt-deflation death spiral. This guy, like Todd Harrison, seems very sober. No arm-waving. No ranting and raving. Dont miss his "worst case scenario" at t=7:35.

The most interesting point however, comes from Roger at t=4:30, who concludes his commentary at t=6:40 when he says, "We can defer, but we can't prevent. And I agree with you, there is gonna be a depression."

This has been my intuition .. that it is just a matter of time .. and the longer we defer the day of reckoning, the worse it will be. In other words .. stay tuned for your Rad chronicle of the End of Civilization as we know it. =)

I'm not going to discuss it right now, cuz it could easily turn into an entry of its own .. but .. regarding the point that Roger made beginning at t=4:30 .. something about that idea has lingered .. a factor that needs consideration. Something I never thought about but can see why the question needs to be asked. Wish I woulda thot to ask that question myself.

Jamie the Fox Guarding the Henhouse

Regarding to the Revolving Door Syndrome, how can you have Jamie Dimon, himself a private banker, who heads JP Morgan, the nation's largest bank, at the same time sitting on the Board of Directors of the New York Federal Reserve?

••• today's entry continues here below •••

.. which is the most powerful of the regional Federal Reserve branches .. an institution which is supposed to be REGULATING Mr. Dimon and his Too-Big-Too-Fail bank?

Does this not seem like an obvious case of the fox guarding the henhouse? .. like a clear conflict-of-interest?

Jamie Dimon | Head of JP Morgan Chase + member Board of Directors NY Federal ReserveLet me answer that for you, cuz it's an easy one » Yes, it does.

Because the bankers have already proven that they are incapable of regulating the banks. It makes no sense to anybody outside of Crony Capitalism.

How can the regulators be the same people they're supposed to be regulating? Theater of Absurdity.

It seems like you guys arent even smart enough to manage appearances. ( You can still call Jamie from the meeting and ask him what he wants you to do .. and no one will be the wiser.) Because most people still believe that "appearance is reality."

How would you feel if nuclear plant operators from a particular nuclear power plant were the very same dudes who sat on the board responsible for regulating the plant's operations?

I bet you can almost hear them » "No problems to report. The plant is running fine. I therefore recommend a sizable pay-raise for all nuclear plant operators."

You can get away with that type of shit as long as everything is running like a well-oiled machine, but not after an economic meltdown (or two).

But at least Jamie ADMITTED that JP Morgan made a mistake, which is so refreshing from the usual refusal to admit any wrongdoing whatsoever .. that we've become accustomed to from Wall Street.

I can't help but wonder if he thought that up himself .. or if somebody smarter advised him. Kudos for raising the Wall Street Bar of Accepting Responsibility [W$BAR], which had been ankle-high.

On the other hand ..

.. there's a verse of scripture in Job (v5:13) that I always found interesting. It says » "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." I never 'got' that verse .. until now .. when I went back and read the second part » ".. and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong." .. and thought about the craftiness of the greedy.

No one will ever accuse you guys of not being crafty. That is for sure. I mean, if there were a Nobel Prize for Craftiness, you Wall Street guys would be perennial contenders. Congratulations.

And just like crafty Sisyphus, your punishment for all of eternity will be to roll an immense stock market up a hill .. only to see it its price come crashing back down, periodically. Oh, wait .. you're already doing that!

Is Ben Bernanke a Moral Man?

If you dig into Ben's "massive fiscal cliff" warning to Congress .. you can see that what he's really saying is »

"Dont worry about the economic iceberg that is our ever-growing malignant national debt. Let the NEXT generation worry about that.

We need to keep this proud luxury liner steaming ahead into the seemingly endless fiscal night .. even if we have to steal from our kids to buy the fuel."

Ben Bernanke | Chairman of the Federal Reserve warns Congress about Massive Fiscal Cliff coming January, 2013Because the massive fiscal cliff that he's talking about are automatic triggers (spending cuts) that kick in to protect the next generation from an immoral debt load.

[ Immoral because they had nothing to do with creating it, yet will be required to SERVICE it (.. and probably REPAY it) .. while the wealthiest grow wealthier still. ]

Now, if we had been runnng a budget surplus for the years prior to and leading up to the Great Recession (.. as we should've been doing) that would be one thing.

But that's not what happened. And nobody from the Federal Reserve stood up during the good years, during the fat years, to say, "We should be running a budget surplus now." Cuz all economists know that's the way a Keynesian economy is supposed to work.

Nor did I hear any Economists crying out and calling for a budget surplus during the good years prior to the collapse. You cant be a Keynesian only during the downturns.

[ The debate between economists who feel our problems are merely Cyclical and those who feel they are Structural represents a key dividing line.

This is a HUGE topic, tho one which I am not prepared to address at this time. But you should be aware that it exists.

From my (admittedly limited) perspective (.. currently residing at one of the lower rungs on your too-tall socioeconomic ladder), it seems that stimulus merely serves to make the wealthy even wealthier ..

.. that it seems to be going disproportionately to those who need it least .. and maybe even deserve it least ..

.. as tho the game were rigged .. in favor of those who can afford to purchase entrée into the policy-making process. And that problem is NOT cyclical. Rather it's perennial .. and worsening.

It really comes down to INCENTIVES. Tho I shouldnt say more on this topic, cuz I havent yet given it enough thought or research to discuss intelligently.

David Brooks | Paul KrugmanBoth Structuralists & Cyclicalists however, agree there is a problem.

If Paul would provide a dollar value and specific details of implementation, that would be helpful ..

.. instead of merely » "Throw more gasoline on the feeble economic fire!" (.. which is easy to say when it's not your money).

And one of the differences between now and the beginning of WW2 .. is that » we've already been fighting TWO wars .. for a decade now .. on the other side of the planet ..

.. and our method of financing the war by issuing new debt will continue to plague us for many years to come. And I shouldnt need to mention that the troops are starting to show signs of wear-n-tear.

The Ugly Economist with the Cool Name

Stiglitz (cool name), a double-Nobel laureate, presents the most lucid argument I've heard on the topic of spending more. See here. 6 mins.

I like this guy. He communicates clearly. And I have learned that you need to have things clear in your own mind before you can have any hope of communicating those ideas to someone else.

Maybe not the most handsome Economist, but certainly the most persuasive I've come across.

His demeanor comes off as a Regular Joe. My point however, is » how do you make sure the money gets to the right place?

He admits that a third of the previous stimulus was NOT well spent. And it seems you cannot get our dysfunctional government to agree on effective targeting (.. or anything, for that matter).

Just kidding about the Ugly thing.

Despite Stiglitz' skills and abilities as an effective communicator, the #1 most remarkable prediction I heard came from NYU professor Nouriel Roubini, who way back in July 2011 predicted a "Perfect Storm" in 2013.

That is an 18-month look-ahead. Remarkable crystal ball. Hard to believe he made such a prescient prediction nearly a year ago. I had to double-check the date. He obviously has vision.

If I were a gambling man, I'd wager the word "Fiscal" in Ben's Fiscal Cliff came from Nouriel. Do I have it right, Ben?

Speaking of economists with reliable economic vision .. THIS GUY (Lakshaman) supposedly has never been wrong .. regarding a called recession .. and he says we are probably in a recession right now. ]

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson River in New YorkIf you study the nuclear reactor accident at Three Mile Island, you will find that plant operators there OVERRODE automatic protective safety functions.

If they would've simply taken their hands off the Control Panel, the reactor would have shut itself down safely.

But instead, people who thought they knew better started overriding automatic protective functions. Probably very smart people.

In nuclear power, you *never* override reactor protective safety functions. (For a reason.) Food for thought? So my question here becomes » Is Ben Bernanke a moral man?

Or is he merely an employee? A glorified employee. Nothing more than a glorified employee of the Banks .. who do the bidding of the SY$TEM .. with THEIR OWN interests at heart.

Maybe a better question would be » Does morality or ethics play a role or somehow factor into Ben's thinking/decisions .. into his warnings to Congress?

How about moral hazard? Do scruples have a place in the Chairman's advice? Or is he politically limited to tending/serving the economy and only the economy?

Because he seems to be suggesting that Congress should ignore moral issues and OVERRIDE the automatic built-in safety functions (.. that protect future generations from our fiscal irresponsibility) ..

.. in order to keep our proud luxury liner steaming toward its ultimate destination. At all costs.

Cuz it appears that the Federal Reserve Bank is aiding and abetting our government's transfer-of-wealth from our children's generation to those who seem to need it least.

Such actions cannot be performed without ethical implications .. moral consequences. Does not your conscience bother you? .. even a little? Do you have no trouble sleeping?

Should such "accommodation" by the Fed ("Easing") be suspended until the wrong is made right? Resign in protest?

I am no authority on the Fed (.. far from it) .. but it seems that the Fed is supposed to tend to the banks (.. which includes regulatory oversight), while Congress is supposed to tend to the needs of the people.

The problem is that, while the Fed is indeed tending to the needs of the banks, so is the governement .. leaving we-the-people holding the bag (.. that contains nothing but a mind-blowing amount of IOU's).

Visual indication of the Quantum LeapThe Odd Beauty of Economic Uncertainty

In an odd way, the beauty of this thing we call the Economy .. is that .. when you dig down deep, all the way ..

.. it is a perfect metaphor for our WORLD (life?). Cuz you find that » nobody really knows for sure. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle seems to rule the economic world, too.

They are all GUESSING. And guessing is a key component of gambling (.. if not THE key component).

Gambling is illegal in most places. Yet .. there you have it.

All we have to work with (.. even the best guessers) are » probabilities .. a fact that can be disconcerting if/when observed closely enough.

Same goes for quantum mechanics, which characterizes and forms the basis, the foundation for our ENTIRE PHYSICAL WORLD, our entire physical reality. No certainty » ever. Fuhghettaboutit.

The Federal Reserve Crack Pipe

And once you add the human element, now you have added an irrational element to your probabilities. Greedy, irrational gamblers. But clever.

Things in the Investment world have become so distorted .. that BAD economic news is now considered GOOD news ..

.. cuz that means the Fed, or the European Central Bank (aka ECB, aka Germany) is more likely to pump even more money into the economy. It might not do you or me any good, but the stimulating economic drugs seem to send the markets "higher".

At what point does the Fed's [unprecedented multi-Trillion dollar ] balance sheet become worrisome?

After 4 years of such stimulus, how much longer can it last? And more importantly, what will be the long term effects and consequences of such policies? We have names for people who "depend" upon drugs. (No, not "investor".)

Federal Reserve Crack PipeThe Fed has become an ENABLER for the fiscal irresponsibility of our Congressional crackheads. "Pass the Federal Reserve crack pipe, Ben. Put it on the kids' tab."

Every time I hear somebody stand up and proclaim that we need MORE debt to solve a problem that was created by too much debt ..

.. I cant help but notice how similar that person sounds to a junkie, and how bereft of ideas they sound. More of the same that got us here .. into this mess.

"We'll pay off the debt later," they say. "Just give me one more hit off that crack pipe and I'm good .. uh, I mean, the economy will be good. Just one more. Please, Ben. This will be the last time. I promise. God bless you, Ben."

Does not logic dictate that the longer we accommodate the habit of Congre$$ional Crackheads .. the more painful will be our Day of Reckoning when it arrives?

The Fed has implemented 3 rounds of Quantitative Easing: QE1, QE2 and Operation Twist, which is scheduled to expire at the end of June 2012. So come JULY, we should know more about whether or not our economy is able to stand on its own two haunches.

If the market starts to tank come July or August, that will be a bad sign .. because it will imply that the market is (has been) artificially inflated. Unreal. Fantasy. Another bubble. (Just like housing.)

If the Fed needs to implement QE3 this summer or fall, that would be a bad sign .. a sign the patient is too weak to get out of bed under his own power.

Does Quantitative Easing help primarily the rich? Some say it does (.. such as the Bank of England).

This article says (8th paragraph):

"If the Fed comes through with a QE program, that could save the market -- if not the market will fall off a cliff."

In the 12th paragraph posted here, Pento is quoted as saying that QE3 is "inevitable". So does Mr. Over Medicated himself, James Grant.

Ben Bernanke | Chairman of the Federal Reserve warns Congress about Massive Fiscal Cliff coming January, 2013There is a 12-min video posted at the end of this article, where Bernanke testifies before Congress regarding the State-of-the-Economy.

Permit me to offer my own version of Fed-parsing .. the Rad interpretaton (.. cuz I'm starting to get a feel for this economics commentary thingie):

"You Congressional boys are spending WAY-the-HELL too much money .. but you need to spend MORE .. or the economy will shit itself in spectacular fashion."

I heard that Catch-22 was one of the best books ever written.

Moreover, I feel that the Fed is bound/obligated to pursue a middle-of-the-road approach (.. whatever that might be) because doing either a LOT or very LITTLE will be viewed at partisan .. and they are supposed to be independent / non-partisan.

Why Werent the Structural Problems Fixed?

After reading a few books about the economic problems revealed by the financial crisis of 2008 .. one gets the idea that the financial system still harbors deep, dark secrets. Dangerous liabilities .. that we may not be able to fix .. without breaking the system.

I do not know this to be a fact. Rather it is a sneaking suspicion. Because everybody agrees that the old system remains intact. It has merely been papered over, window dressed, propped up.

So .. the question becomes .. if everybody agrees that the old structural problems still exist .. why werent they fixed? You can come up with an assortment of theories .. but none of them are very pleasant to consider.

The worst is » they CAN'T be fixed .. without breaking the system. So it's like we're stuck with a ticking time bomb .. that we created.

Instruments that were initially created for good .. have been corrupted by greedy people. And this corruption now runs deep. But nobody seems to know HOW deep, and nobody even wants to look .. for fear of what they might find. You know what Nietzsche said about gazing into the abyss.

Paul Volcker & President ObamaThe unspoken idea hovering in the air seems to be » "If you dare to try and restructure the almighty financial SYSTEM we have created, the world will end."

"We will see to it, because we have the power to do it. We will take our bat-n-balls, uh, I mean, our money, with us and go home.

And then the game will be over, and we will be left holding all the cards. So we dare you to try. We double-dog dare you."

Three or four years ago, we perhaps could have restructed without much resistance, but now that the financial SYSTEM (Wall Street et al) is back on its feet .. I dunno.

This seems to be one of the key questions regarding the uncertain future of our economy, our culture, our world.

If it can be done, Volcker would be the man with the best shot. If he's not too old for the fight. Unlike Geitner, Volcker would be too old to go work for Wall Street when he gets done wielding his restructuring sledge. [ He'll be 85 come September, 2012. ]

Hard to hammer the industry who used to pay you fat paychecks and will almost certainly pay you even more in the future. The place where all your buddies work. Aint that right, Tim?

If I owned one of the banks on Wall Street, Tim would be near the top of my Christmas card list. Heck, I might even consider naming one of my kids after him. What do you like to drink, Tim? We'll send over a case.

Timothy Geithner | Treasury SecretaryBy the way, Tim, my friend Jamie has been feeling a little stressed lately. Perhaps you could devise a little "test" to help calm him down.

I *do* however, admire the way you fight .. your combativeness. I only wish you were fighting for We-the-People instead of Them-the-Banks.

But seeing that Them-the-Banks will likely award you with a sweet, high-paying job (via the infamous revolving door) after your tenure at Treasury, we can totally understand where your allegiance lies.

Anybody can give away other people's money .. especially to friends, and friends of friends. That requires no great administrative insight.

Tim, please tell me you didnt say [ end of 3rd paragraph ] that you could, "use accounting tricks to postpone the day of reckoning." Accounting tricks? Really?

Havent we had enough accounting tricks already? Now we have the US Treasury employing Enron accounting techniques? Mother of God. Has it come to this?

It's not that Tim is a bad guy, but rather, as Robert Reich intimates with resignation at t=10 minutes into video #3 (of 4) posted » HERE, he CAN DO NO OTHER (.. because of the mind set formed by his life experiences).

Larry sounds like he might be up for the job. Larry's problem is that he was one of the 'plumbers' on the job (.. as Stiglitz puts it) when the system shit itself.

So he has a serious credibility problem. But most Americans are willing to give somebody a chance to redeem themselves .. especially if they're sincere. Becaue the problem goes beyond mere size.

Is Sandy volunteering his services? "I fucked it up. I can fix it."

I do not envy them. If I were Bernanke, for example, I'd likely be shitting myself daily. [ Navy humor for you. ] Obama still has that charming smile, but you can't help but notice the gray. (At the hair stylist shop, they call that look "distinguished.")

What do you suppose these guys do for stress relief? Because, if this sucker goes down, it's gonna be their fault (.. yet again).

[ I would love to break into a little ditty right here and wax analytical about the type of charater typically drawn to money [a tool that can be used to purchase power] +++ power [a tool often (ab)used to get money] ..

.. strongly enough to be willing to put up with (endure?) the bullshit that goes with the job ..

.. uh, but I think I already have. =)

Most interesting is .. WHY are they drawn. Is it a compensatory thing?

If you & I walked the dimly-lit halls of their psyche one evening, would we find a fellow named Inadequacy .. who claims to be driving the Head-of-Household during many-a daylight hour?

Perhaps the correct question would be » To what EXTENT does this model apply? .. because I feel it must operate, to some degree, in all of us. Or maybe I am just projecting myself onto society-in-general.

Motivation is the question. And it seems safe to assume, at least here in the 21st century, that they are not doing it out of the goodness of their heart. =)

No, sir. They are obviously driven.

And folks with money know how to play them like a fiddle. While our representatives love the sound they make. ]

Because the phrase you hear over & over is » "kick the can down the road." In other words, nobody fixes anything; they just keep kicking the same unsustainable can down the same unsustainable road.

I hope I'm wrong, but the feeling one gets after researching all this krap .. is that, "You guys have fucked things up so bad that we're all doomed .. except for the very rich. It's just a matter of time." Because our economy is a ticking time bomb.

Thoughtful Monkey» Experts, Monkeys & Their Predictive Darts

Might also be worth noting here .. that a 20-year study, which analyzed more than 80,000 forecasts regarding World Affairs ..

.. found that self-proclaimed experts are NO BETTER at making accurate predictions than a room full of monkeys throwing predictive darts at a futuristic dart board ..

.. and that knowing a lot about a particular issue can actually make you a worse forecaster than someone who knows very little (.. such as many of us).

This has been my contention from the beginning .. that our leaders do not appear to be making intelligent decisions .. at least, not for our sake. (And I bet they enjoy a good banana, too.)

Most Americans have trouble believing that stupidity-alone could be responsible for the magnitude of your fuck-ups. Obviously they don't really know you very well.

[ A friend of mine has a theory that the very personality traits & skills that make our leaders so good at getting votes and winning elections are precisely what prevents them from making good decisions. (My friend Bill has a degree in Finance from USC.)

"Think about it," he says, "What kind of person is going to be drawn to national politics? .. nasty as it's gotten. What kind of person is gonna wanna be part of that?" ]

» Do Our Own Research

In other words, maybe we should:

  1. become more aggressive (assertive) in questioning the decisions of these so-called "experts"
  2. reject the daily nepenthe-laced pablum dispensed by Corporate-sponsored Talking Heads
  3. do our OWN research. For example, here's a good place to start:
    1. Money, Power & Wall Street: PBS-Frontline, 4 hour-long videos - The inside story of the global financial crisis
    2. Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream - PBS
    3. The Un-Fucking-Touchables - PBS Frontline
    4. Inside the Meltdown: PBS-Frontline video - How the economy went so bad, so fast, and what Bernanke and Paulson didnt see, couldnt stop, and werent able to fix
    5. Meltdown: The Global Financal Crisis - 4-part video
    6. The Warning: PBS-Frontline video - In the midst of the 1990's bull market, one lone regulator warned about the DANGERS of derivatives, and overnight she became the enemy of some of the most powerful men in Washington
    7. Six Billion Dollar Bet - Frontline investigates Jon Corzine and MF Global's disastrous bet on European debt (20-minute video)
    8. Commanding Heights - The Battle for the World Economy
    9. Inside Job - the movie. Winner Academy Award - Best Documentary. Reviews.
    10. Margin Call - Be first. Be smarter. Or cheat. Excellent. Strong reviews.
    11. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
    12. The Clash of Generations: Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy. Laurence Kotlikoff. Professor of Economics at Boston University. This man has impressive vision. Downright remarkable.
    13. Winner-Take-All Politics - How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class
    14. Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves
    15. All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
    16. 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown
    17. Fool's Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe
    18. The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future
    19. It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism
    20. Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets
    21. Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself - by Sheila Bair, former chairman of the FDIC. Chair-person?
    22. Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street
    23. The Betrayal of the American Dream: A New York Times Best Seller (You should read this one twice.)
    24. Traders, Guns and Money: Knowns and Unknowns in the Dazzling World of Derivatives
    25. The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry
    26. Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis
    27. Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics
    28. Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America. Matt writes for the Rolling Stone, with the mantle of Hunter S. Thompson. Gonzo himself. Therefore, arguably the Best Job in the Universe. You need cojones grande to step into Gonzo's golf shoes. Matt definitely has big balls. A fearless spotlight is what he has.
    29. The Road to Serfdom - F.A. Hayek, I occasionally see people reading this 1944 title at the coffee shop
    30. Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power
    31. Throw Them All Out - Peter Schweizer
    32. Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets - Peter Schweizer
    33. With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful
    34. Beyond Outrage: What has Gone Wrong with our Economy and our Democracy
    35. End This Depression Now! - Paul Krugman
    36. The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World
    37. The Rational Middle Energy Series - Episodes 1, 2 & 3.
    38. Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America. From the same guy who won the Academy Award for Best Documentary for Inside Job.
    39. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity & Poverty. At [ If pressed to pick a favorite from this list-of-50 .. I would have to pick THIS TITLE. Starting here will put you in the game with both feet. No playing around. Very well written. Clear. Surgical in the insight it offers. Published March 2012. A book 15 years in the making. My 2-sentence synoposis » Political corruption leads to inequality and repression. Revolution brings true prosperity. ] 
    40. White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters
    41. Einstein: His Life & Universe - Walter Isaacson. I would highly recommend the audio book by Ed Hermann. It is simply the best voice / recording I have ever heard, and I have heard many audio books. Truly a fabulous piece of work .. in so many ways.
    42. Thinking, Fast and Slow - Judgment & Decision-Making. In memory of Amos Tversky. This book comes with the byline that it "challenges the rational model of judgment and decision-making." Does that not sound a lot like "humans as creatures go .. are not necessarily rational." =)
    43. Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power
    44. The Measure of a Nation: How to Regain America's Competitive Edge and Boost Our Global Standing
    45. Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy
    46. 1984 - George Orwell [ "Big Brother is watching." And listening. Talk about prophetic ]
    47. A People's History of the United States - by Howard Zinn | Enthusiastically endorsed by Matt Damon .. along with many others.
    48. The Best & the Brightest .. and how they sometimes do stupid shit.
    49. America Grows More Pessimistic on the Economy - I thought this dialogue & exchange so outstanding that it warrants placement here among these books. I like these guys, Aaron & Henry, cuz I feel they understand both the American people and our concerns. Even our sense of outrage. And along those lines, don't miss the next title...
    50. Unequal Democracy - The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age
    51. Caesar's Crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C. "The die is cast, bitch. Your Roman ass is mine."
    52. Ozymandias - A lovely poem by Shelley, first published on January 11, 1818 in the London Examiner » "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair."
    53. Luke 12:15
    54. Mark 8:36
    55. 1 John 3:17
    56. Psalm 41:1
    57. Malachi 4:5-6
    58. Habakkuk 2:6
    59. Romans 9:17
    60. In FED We Trust - Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic
    61. Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (.. which I purposefully mentioned at the very end of my New Years eve entry. Punctuation being important.)

That should get you started. Let me know if you need more. =) [ I am shooting for 95. ]

If you are getting all of your news and information from the SAME SOURCE, that may indeed be fair, but it is certainly not balanced.

I'm starting to see a pattern develop here » corruption benefits the corrupt .. at the expen$e of everybody else.

Thoughtful MonkeyAnother pattern that is not very difficult to discern » very powerful "instruments" are created by brilliant people (real geniuses) ..

.. instruments (such as bombs and derivatives), which are then co-opted by Crafty people whose vision is much more myopic and $elf-$erving ..

.. with the effect that these 'instruments' cause suffering and misery to millions.

So then maybe we should start to think for ourselves .. cuz most citizens seem to be sipping from one of two possible cans of predigested brands .. and anybody with an esophagus can regurgitate predigested pablum.

You know what Emerson said about predigested pablum » "A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking."

"My party does everything right and your party does everything wrong," is stereotyping.

Stereotyping is the domain of simple minds who either cannot, or will not, exert the mental effort required to see beyond their own prejudices (we all have them) .. to either find any fault with one's own party or to admit that the other party might ever have a valid point. Or both.

No I have not read all these books.

If we want our country back, we're gonna have to stop thinking what the Overlords tell us to think and stop saying what the Overlords tell us to say.

We need to get beyond the We-vs-Them mentalty to How-are-we-Gonna-Make-This-Work? Cuz right now it aint working

[ Speaking of books and their authors .. here's a piece from Stephen King, a guy who seems to have a knack for discussing scary topics.

Along with billionaire invester Warren Buffett, he is begging Congress to raise his taxes, along with those of ALL super-rich Americans .. seeing that both he & Buffet are embarrassed that they both pay a LOWER tax-rate than their secretaries.

Yet Congress refuses. Why might that be do you suppose? ]

The standard two-party "Democrat vs Republican" dialogue appears somewhat simplistic at this point, if not downright moot, because it doesnt seem to matter which party rules .. at least not for us. We the people.

Here's to elevating the conversation .. above the level of nepenthe-laced pablum. So somebody toss me a banana. =)

Behind the scenes with Alfred Hitchcock directing an actressNew Years Eve Retro

It's always weird when I go back and read stuff I wrote in the past.

The older the post, the stranger it seems ..

.. because, even tho I know that *I* am the one who wrote the entry, if it has been long enough, it seems like I am reading the writing of somebody else. Very odd feeling.

Sometimes I chuckle to myself and think, "This guy is funny."

Other times my eyebrows pop up and I think, "This guy has some cojones" .. especially the parts that seem honest & vulnerable, cuz I know how hard it can be to be honest with ourselves. Brutally honest. And how much courage that takes.

And there's even the occasional acknowledgement, "This is well written shit".

In re-reading my New Years eve entry (.. which I broke into three pages, because I try not to let any single page exceed a total weight of 300-KB, and I tend to use lots of supporting links & high-quality representative graphics ..

.. which drives up the page-load times), I was actually struck most by something I read in the follow-up entry (dated January 29, 2012), titled » Reflections on the Hitchcock Economy.

Here's the passage (.. where I'm reflecting on the New Years eve entry a month later, in 2012):

I also thought it seemed a little ballsy .. to presume to be able to see into the economy .. when I dont have a degree in Economics.

But then, something inside corrected me, saying <paraphrase>:

"Dude, these clowns came ][ this close to flushing the whole enchilada down the pooper. At least, that's what they tell us. Not something I'd be inclined to brag about. So it's not like the bar has been set very high. It's not like people werent jumping up & down shouting warnings for years."

So yeah, I think I can do better.

Famous scene form Hitchcock's film 'Notorious'I can't tell you WHY this section stuck out, only that it did. Probably for some of the same reasons I just mentioned.

The thing that stands out right now, as I look back .. is that » the closer you look, the UGLIER it gets.

The feeling I get here is that » disaster is coming .. and that there's no way to stop it. Postpone yes, stop no.

It's not because it has to .. but rather because of human weakness .. of which greed plays a part.

See .. we have this SY$TEM. This system of government. And for whatever reason (take your pick), the system is broke .. at least, for most Americans who are not actually part of the system. They dont see the problems with any sense of urgency because THE PROBLEMS DON'T AFFECT THEM.

The pattern that you find already in place on Wall Street is the same you find emerging at/for our government » their successes benefit only them and their Cronies while their failures affect only us.

In other words, they have found a way, devised a way .. to privatize the GAINS and socialize the LOSES .. which is an uncapitalistic manipulation of risk. "Heads I win; tails you lose." (Give them credit for being crafty.)

The system has become about » the SYSTEM. They seem to have forgotten that the system was originally set up to be about us, about » We the People (you & me) .. not our leaders & their cronies (Them & Theirs).

The SYSTEM cares first & foremost about » the welfare of the SYSTEM. And the system certainly isnt about our kids. Go ahead .. do your own research. See if I'm not right. I dare you. Because they who live-by-the-sword of political expediency die by the sword.

I hope I'm wrong .. but the trend, the precedent, is not good. I'm talking about political and economic trends and precedent .. both here and in Europe .. the world's two biggest economies.

Denial helps, of course. But the closer you look, the less you are able to deny the trend, the precedent, and its seemingly inevitable trajectory. We've all made graphs and charts in school .. the kind that go up, and the kind that go the other way.

In other words, I've seen the graph, and it's not pretty (.. for most Americans). Read some of the books I mentioned above and you'll see that I'm not alone, and you'll see the reasons why I feel the way I do.

It's easy to see why many people would choose to remain blissfully ignorant. Very easy. Cuz I sometimes feel that way myself.

Making Eye Contact with Martha

Let's close on a positive note. I'm happy Congress passed a bill that makes it ILLEGAL for them to profit personally from Inside Information .. acquired during the course of doing their jobs ..

.. same as it is for you, me, Gordon Gekko (video) & Martha Stewart .. an issue that had the whole country (myself included) up in arms ..

Martha Stewart.. after we got over our disbelief and picked up our jaws off the floor.

You'd think they wouldnt need a LAW to tell them that what-is-wrong-for-US is (also) wrong-for-THEM.

But hey, "We appreciate the gesture." (Only took them a few months, too.)

[ Sure, daughter-Alexis might think Martha is a lousy mom .. but how can you guys ever look Martha Stewart in the eye without feeling like a complete-n-total piece-of-shit?

Uh, in re-reading that last sentence, I did not intend for it to come out like that. I was merely trying to put myself in your shoes and imagine what it must feel like.

Unfortunately there's no nice way to say it .. that you write laws that put people in jail for the very same shit you yourselves do (.. with gusto).

The dictionary contains words that describe this kind of behavior. Tho none of them are considered very flattering. (For example, you want our military to be more disciplined, yet you yourselves have none.)

Do you see what this implies? This means that you're worse than a lousy mom. ( And what could possibly be worse than that? )

Unfortunately it *is* worse than that. Much worse. Because you (and your ilk) write laws that send people to prison for relative bullshit, while you yourselves continue to play a key, instrumental role in the heist of the millenium .. of the ages ..

.. mortgaging our childrens' future for your own political gain .. to the tune of trillion$. You guys make all those legendary bank-robbers of yesteryear seem like rank amateurs .. like timid chumps. Say 'Hi,' to Jon Corleozonie for me.

It's a hard rain that's gonna fall. Can you feel it in your bones? (I know you can.) Better batten down the hatches.

I'm curious. What drew you to politics? Did you want to become a servant of the people .. or a master of the universe? Or did your values become corrupted after you arrived? ]

I'm so pleased with this promising, new development .. that I'm gonna reciprocate .. by offering our lawmakers a bit of advice .. if I may be so bold. Completely free (.. the best things in life, doncha know).

Wikipedia Blackout Page - Posted January 18/19, 2012» Leave Them Be

And here she be » dont piss off the Geeks.

See .. the thing that makes a geek a Geek is » his LOVE OF (passion for) » problem-solving. The bigger, the gnarlier, the better.

So .. dont become a problem. Savvy?

[ The thing that makes a politician a Politician I will discuss later. ]

Permit me to share some insight into the world of Programming, where many a Geek resides.

Programming, in general terms, very general, consists of both » IDEAS and CODING.

Now CODING is based on » skills. But Programming itself [IDEAS] is limted by nothing but the imagination .. which is the very thing that makes it sooo seductive, so enticing (.. for a geek, anyway).

So .. the über-Geek who possesses mad skillz .. is Iimted by nothing but » HIS IMAGINATION.

You should probably pause here a moment to reflect on that last sentence. Let it bounce around your brain a bit. The light should come on shortly .. right there above the big, black infinity sign » ∞.

See .. the government is famous for fucking up pretty much every thing it touches. (Just ask Brooksley.)

So before you come to the Web and try to fuck it up for us, after all the work that so many people have done, first go set your OWN house in order. Then we will have more confidence in you.

Because every good Capitalist knows that .. when people intrude on your property, into the place where you live .. well, folks dont much care for that. They dont take kindly to such intrusions.

And if you start acting in a hostile and threatening manner, well .. they REALLY dont like that shit.

And Geeks BUILT the Internet, the Web ( .. tho I must admit that I find it somewhat ironic that the Internet began as a military project). That's where Geeks live & breathe. They OWN the Web. Tho not in the way you use the term.

No, sir. I'm talking about the way a shark "owns" the deep water. Showing a notarized copy of your bill-of-sale or title-deed to a Great White will not stop him from lunching on your dumb ass.

» The Wizards Have Arrived With a Swarm

And yes, they are wizards .. who have access to your deepest, darkest secrets. (It's like the walls have ears.) You'd do well to leave them be, my friend.

Because they are a law. Unto. Themselves. They will eat your lunch. (Your whole bucket of escargot.)

And they be everywhere, boss. Nationwide. Global. Multi-lingual. Heck, some of them even work for you (.. 8 hours a day, anyway).

I am not one of these wizards, no. (Not hardly.) But I understand them. I can FEEL them (.. we must share some of the same geeky chromosomes). Thermo-nuclear bonding, you might say.

This is how I know that you are in trouble. And like Machiavelli, I'm here to help (.. cue audio track of cavalry bugle cry amid the sound of galloping hooves). Consider it a lifeline.

Guy Fawkes Anonymous MaskNow Naomi says that she heard:

"There is a race against time: they realise the Internet is a tool of empowerment that will work against their interests, and they are racing to turn it into a tool of control."

She also mentions an article by Chris Hedges, who said in reference to the NDAA:

"There are now 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies that work on programs related to counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States."

So you've been busy. But .. if you piss them off, they will come after your ass. And they have special powers. You will RUE the day, my friend. Mark my words.

Because they are not forgiving, like me (« Mr. Niceguy). No, sir. Like an angry African wasp, they will sting .. and KEEP stinging .. until their asses are good-n-sore. (That's why you dont want to provoke them.)

In keeping with the tenets of web site optimization, today's entry has been broken into THREE PAGES. The final page is posted here » Geeks vs the Government | Game On - Part 3

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on May 15, 2012 5:15 AM.

Geeks vs the Government | Game On - Part 1/3 was the previous entry in this blog.

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