Archive

Archive for February, 2009

Unforgiven

February 28, 2009 2 comments

The Pharisee and The Publican

The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. … And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.

The title “Mixed Greetings for Returned Lefebvrite Bishop” could be the understatement of the century by Zenit News in its report on Bishop Williamson’s recent return to England. Following his apology regarding his recent controversial statements made on the Holocaust, it was no surprise that, outside the Church, no forgiveness was forthcoming. To take advantage, to be unforgiving, to condemn, blame, reject, and isolate enemies, to make those below you grovel, is the natural human state, after all. These are the very things that are wrong with human beings and the very things that are put right by Christianity.

Yet the Vatican’s “Sorry-Isn’t-Good-Enough-We-Want-Blood” response is so Pharisaic that it appears that the leaders of God’s religion, after two thousand years, have come full circle. Christ’s death on the Cross occurred because people chose to ignore the fact that He showed no malice, no anger or hatred. They cornered, set up and hung an innocent man, something the people of the time openly admitted. Today, the Vatican appears as though it would have done just the same if it had the chance.

Zenit quotes Peter Vere, a canon lawyer:

“Bishop Williamson is not a Catholic bishop in that his episcopal consecration was carried out without papal mandate. […] However, the episcopal consecration was valid — that is, effective. So he is in fact a bishop with episcopal powers, meaning he can validly — but unlawfully — ordain, confirm, celebrate Mass, and validly — but unlawfully — perform any other episcopal function.”

How true it is that to a hammer every problem is a nail. And when you miss, you hit your finger. Bishop Williamson, like all the other bishops, priests, religious and laity of the Society of Saint Pius X, are Catholics as much as anyone else, insofar as they are baptized, have the sacraments and have beliefs are in keeping with Sacred Tradition. Everything else is politics.

Bishop Williamson is a Catholic Bishop. He has never been accused of heresy and was never validly excommunicated. In Christianity, the law is null if it is exercised without charity.

Those within the Catholic Church, whose job it is to love their enemies, forgive those who persecute them, and so forth, are showing how little of this they understand or follow.

Perhaps during this period of Lent, these people might take a moment to think about the Christian meaning of the Season and what happened at the Passover Festival. But they probably won’t, because no hypocrite likes to look in the mirror. Instead, it looks like we will be seeing an Easter play of sorts as plans are made to arrest and ultimately imprison a man who has already repented and shown his innocence, even to such an unjust law as is being used against him.

Advertisements

Western World Readying For War?

February 26, 2009 Leave a comment

cheetah

Like an animal preparing to fight, the Western World appears to be making all the systemic changes, readying itself for military confrontation. But with whom?

When a mammal is healthy, fed and happy, it tends to spend its time in leisure, resting and enjoying life. Physiologically, the “constitutive” processes dominate: digestion, healing and growth. In times of plenty, animals will tend to procreate and populations rise.

Stress Response

When a mammal is preparing to fight, whether to defend or attack, the opposite changes. The digestive processes cease – food is no longer a priority – all resources are spared except for those most needed to survive the life threatening event. Blood flow is directed to muscles and the brain. Water is conserved, blood pressure rises and the blood’s clotting system is placed on alert to stave off any haemorrhage. The nervous system is activated so that heart rate rises, adrenaline release rises and catabolic processes dominate. Brain activity becomes very focused on problems of an immediate nature. As such, attention to detail is often lost as brain activity is prioritized for “fight mode”.

If you were a cell in the body, yet fortunate enough to understand physiology, you would be able to guess by the changes around you that a fight is on the cards. Chemical changes around you signal you to start conserving energy and take whatever food comes your way.

All of these processes begin before the fight has commenced.

Telltale Signs

If we look around the world, and were to assume that what is happening has some kind of ultimate, unified purpose, we can already go some way to guess where it is all heading. Using the physiological model, it can be surmised that the body, of which we are a part (in this case the Western world), is winding itself up for conflict. The economy has been thrown into “lean-mode”, such that all the cells (individuals) within it are encouraged to save, tighten belts and reduce expectations. Energy is conserved and resources are placed on standby for use in whatever sudden need may arise.

One of the things that has made wars difficult to wage is their incredibly large cost in terms of man-hours, fuel usage, logistic support. Much of the infrastructure of a war machine does not require soldiers to be combat-ready. It is largely supportive, but prior to the financial crisis, armed forces were complaining of recruit shortages and being overstretched. All this can be solved with unemployment. All those “idle cells” can be put to work for the war effort. Enticement is not a difficulty when there is a food shortage and those who are helping the war machine get fed, as well as their families. Such a situation is not out of the question.

No one yet is talking much about the possibility that we might all be at war, but if it did happen it would be as sudden as waking one morning to the sound of sirens and trucks mounted with loadspeakers heralding the messages of woe. By then, any time for preparation would be over and everyone would need to make do with what they have.

Other Possibilities

Of course, the “stress response” is found in a number of different conditions, particularly acute illness. If we took things at face value, as many are, we might be left with the feeling that the body is just taken with some kind of systemic illness that can be solved. Yet there is an important difference between the illness response and the fight response. In the fight response, the body is perfectly healthy beforehand and suddenly the signals are given. In illness, there tends to be a constitutional upset so that all the cells in the body find themselves unable to function efficiently. It may well be that our society is on the brink of cataclysmic collapse, that we are about to witness the dissolution of the United States of America and the bankruptcy of Europe and the United Kingdom. This may be the fastest death of a civilization in human history, without so much as a fight. It may, on the other hand, be the beginning of a revolution.

The Western world’s productivity is, in fact, extremely high (except perhaps that of the US whose manufacturing sector hardly exists anymore). There is no famine to blame for our economic problems, no disease, no energy bottleneck. The entire “crisis” is generated by bean-counters. The financial sector is totally superfluous to the tangible things that make the economy tick. This makes one quite suspicious as to the real motivations of our planetary leaders, who seem to be playing with the meaning and value of paper money such that quite soon, nobody will have any idea how much to charge for goods or how much they should pay.

If war is the indeed next big thing to come, perhaps following a revolution, then with whom? Perhaps the “enemy” is to be found in economies which seek to separate themselves from the US credit-based financial system, namely the Muslim world with its laws against usury and its trend towards adopting metals-based reserve currencies.

I am left to ask:

What does Obama plan to do with all those unemployed men of fighting age?

Property and Copyright

February 26, 2009 Leave a comment

CopyrightProperty rights are a thing enshrined in law in most countries, even Communist ones, because they make sense. Property, insofar as it is tangible, is a part of a person’s “stuff”, their space, the things they use every day, the things they need to live. It’s all reasonable and no one argues with the idea that you shouldn’t take another person’s stuff.

What about a family, then? Families share, but within the family there is some kind of respect for each member’s stuff, such as a bed room, or toys or favorite coffee cups.

And then there is public property, which everybody has some feeling of ownership over and, generally, has the respect not to deface or destroy.

All of this is straightforward because it is material and tangible. But now comes the leap of faith which goes something like:

You wouldn’t walk into a bookstore and take a book without paying, would you? That would be stealing.

So, if you download a book you didn’t pay for on-line, you are stealing too.

On one hand there is the physical book. On the other, an electronic representation of the book.

They are arguing that what a person is paying for is the idea that the book contains, not the paper, binding and ink from which the book was made. Yet ideas are not a part of a person’s “stuff” if they are published. Publication is the act of putting something into the public domain. What other domain is it in, if not public? If you give away a book that you once paid for, you cannot be sued for copyright violation. This in itself shows that the dissemination of the idea is not what is being really protected. There is also an admission of this basic truth in that copyrights expire, albeit after fifty years. So why fifty years and not fifty seconds?

Fifty years was probably argued to be the amount of time it might take for a book to have made its way onto every bookshelf. That is, for the full number of copies to have been sold. Yet on the Internet, distribution can be instantaneous and, under the right circumstances, every possible copy of a book could have been electronically distributed within several hours.

It is clear, then, that this aim to equate ideas with the media on which they are presented is bogus. Everybody is prepared to pay for the medium. Everybody respects that a printing house has to pay its staff, buy equipment and so on. Nobody really has a problem with paying the author, either. But if we can get books out electronically and avoid the printing house, then all that has occurred is the partial obsolescence of paper.

If there were no copyrights, then it is argued that all those creative people out there would have no way to make their money. On the contrary, people have shown that they are prepared to pay for an idea when they feel that the money they are giving is going to the author. Someone who goes to the cinema to see a Clint Eastwood film is probably doing so because he likes Clint Eastwood and everything he does. If he had the choice, half the movie ticket would go to Clint to help support his work. But we know that only a very small fraction of movie ticket prices go to the people who created the idea (writers, actors, studio staff, etc).

The same goes for media sold in stores. Does it cost twenty dollars to get a plastic disc onto a shelf? It certainly doesn’t cost twenty dollars to get 5kg of paper onto a shelf. It might cost $4, for example, to do both. Are we to believe, then, that “$16 of every $20 DVD you purchase goes to Clint Eastwood, his studio and the actors”? This, of course is not the case.

When an idea is a good one, people respect it and are generally willing to support the author financially. What they do not respect is makers of paper-books, CD’s and DVD’s charging an exorbitant amount for this commodity in the name of the authors’ livelihood.

If we took the cost of the tangible property which is bought and sold in the stores or on-line via the postal service and separated it from the ideas that are carried on these media, then it becomes very clear that all this hubbub from the recording industry is about making money from a dinosaur that is long overdue for extinction.

We need to go back to paying for real property, for tangible goods. The financial crisis is no better example of how make-believe has been put on par with reality. People lost their nest eggs because they invested their real money (with which they bought their groceries) in pretend money.

Let’s pay the CD printers for printing CD’s. Blank ones are sometimes more valuable than the ones with music on them.

Let’s pay musicians for coming to the local pub or theater and performing. I’m all for helping them out with respect to flight tickets, meals and a bit to tuck away for later, especially if they’re good.

But let’s stop propping up the recording industry which only survives because of legislation and not because a natural market exists to support it.

Everything Will Be All Right

February 25, 2009 Leave a comment

successlargeHere are some thoughts, based on and loosely translated from an article by Dalius ex memel:

The financial system is a clever human invention indeed, yet it is an illusion. How can the cost of company shares change by fifteen-fold? Is this natural? No. It is an Illusion, a Sham.

Finance and Economics are two distinct entities. Economy is a natural process: One sows seeds (invests), grows them, looks after the plants (control of investment), and finally reaps the harvest (collection of dividends). This is true Economics.

The Financial system, in contrast, is an illusion and a sham by design. In general, the fluctuation in share prices occurs as a result of human sentiment and market manipulation. It is not based on fundamental worth. The system is unnatural. We invest in the unfounded belief that demand for shares will inevitably rise, from which we may profit.

The individual should make his own investment decisions and never assume that others will invest with more care or with a greater sense of responsibility than himself. Make your own investments, control and watch them yourself. If you do so, you will escape the illusion that so many have fallen for at their peril, whose hard earned money has been whittled away.

Don’t trust others with your money, as you would not entrust others with your other responsibilities, such as your family duties, your profession or trade, your hobbies, etc.

Nobody is buying Real Estate at the moment, yet around the world the prices are looking very low and there are many interesting choices…

However, do not sell a valuable asset (land/housing) at a ridiculously low price if it was bought at a high one. It really isn’t worth it.

Those who are selling such assets currently have good reasons:

  1. Divorce
  2. Death
  3. Debt to the Bank
  4. Loss of income

If you have to sell because of one of these, and you are really worried about your future, then do so, and accept our sincerest well wishes.

You may find yourself in such a situation, where you are living beyond your means, having fears of the immediate future. Perhaps you are finding your health deteriorating, or you are finding your debts to the bank becoming unmanageable. This can’t be an easy life, and what is more you probably have a family to support, so here is a way out:

Start your own company – do that which you have always wanted to do. Now is the time of opportunity to start building a business based on the things which you know most about. Pursue your dream. It’s possible to get things moving at half the price that it cost even two years ago. Consider employing members of your own family, so that you don’t need to hire staff. Your office can be run from home, or with the retail real estate market in the shape that it is in, renting an office is probably looking quite cheap at the moment.

Eliminate your debt to the bank, perhaps by moving to humbler living quarters in a better location, such as in the city center. Once you have your affairs in order, you will find such an investment much easier to sell. You will maintain liquidity in any market, as there will always be people wishing to live there. If your family is large, then an option might be to lease out the city apartment and rent something cheap that will accommodate your needs.

Secure your basic resources, such as water, basic medicines (especially natural medicines), food and energy. In the coming few years these basic things are likely to be in short supply and you may be caught out with the masses. Make a list of these basic requirements and base your shopping on them. Have something of a stockpile. You will save time and money.

Spend time making contacts and keeping friendships alive, so that you can form your closed circle, with which you will feel safe. Just as family life needs love and care, so do outside relationships. Join social groups which match your personality and interests. Use your free time constructively.

Educate yourself and your family from classical/traditional sources and teachers. Read good books, look at positive and wholesome films. Don’t watch television and stop reading meaningless magazines full of gossip, or the same news over and over again. A basic understanding of world events is enough, so that you can at least conduct a meaningful conversation on such things, without losing yourself in detail. World news and politics can be a very useful thing to have deep knowledge of, only if it ultimately serves to change what you do with your life. Beyond that, it is a waste of time. In times of change and crisis, many become news junkies, addicted to bad news and thinking they are getting something out of it by telling everyone else the sensational bits. It’s actually no help to anyone.

Arm yourself with patience and inner peace. After the coldest Winter comes the sunshine of Spring. So, after the coming times of hardship will follow better times. Patience is an art and a skill that can be learned. Nurture and develop it in yourself. Time is your friend.

The future will be brighter, if you think carefully about your principles and are clear about your priorities. Concentrate on the tasks at hand, and not about the worries around you over which you have no influence.

Do things with conviction, as though it were a life or death struggle, and you will find success.

Good luck!

Categories: Finance Tags: , , , ,

Karl Marx: A Convenient Prophet

February 24, 2009 Leave a comment

stalin_marx_portraitAn article appeared on the dailyreckoning.com.au website (which incidentally is a pretty consistently good read) asking whether Marx could have predicted the latest worldwide trend for “nationalization” of everything that has a business name. I guess he called it Communism in his day. A quote is given, suggesting that Marx predicted in ridiculous detail the chain of events which have led to the present moment:

Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be
nationalized, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism.”

– Karl Marx, 1867, Das Kapital

The quote given indeed did not come from Karl Marx but seems to be based on a satirical article at newsmutiny.com entitled “Americans to Undergo Preschool Reeducation in Advance of Country’s Conversion to Communism”. Funny in itself, and amazing that people swallow this sarcastic humour, it is no wonder the Nigerians make money from their poorly written spam.

Marx predicted that capitalism would fail by its very nature and ultimately lead to communism. I personally think he was wrong.

Nobody knows if he is right. Nobody will ever know, because the capitalist system (insofar as it even exists) hasn’t been given a chance to fail and yet it is already being phased out.

The bankers at the Federal Reserve are educated and, more than all of us, informed. They knew what was coming and they are following their agenda and their time line. Like any project, things don’t always go according to plan, but people saw this coming from miles away. Mr. Madoff, for example, knew his game was up and was ready when he handed himself over. People all over the world saw the problems of the fiat monetary system and the errors of fractional reserve banking from its inception. They saw who benefited. Many, understanding how to exploit it, did so. Others forgot or couldn’t resist getting involved.

To say this is a failure of capitalism is the same kind of naive claptrap that feel-good-feel-bad Marxists everywhere will sell. It’s like saying World War I and II was an accident and all the heads of state had no idea what they were doing or knew of any potential consequences. Marxism is old hat.

What is occurring in the world is a major overhaul of the financial powerbase, a stripping of middle class financial power and centralization of government. It carries with it political, military and social consequences. Anyone who reads even the most basic headline news can see this and is rightly alarmed and anxious. Politicians everywhere call for “unanimous action” and a “New Order” for what started off as a regular market correction (albeit a large one) but has resulted in a worldwide financial collapse caused by banks who are refusing to lend and politicians who, like zombies, are sinking their constituents in debt and amassing power to themselves. Yet they intend, some day soon, to give this power away to a central world governing body, so that this financial collapse will “never again” happen.

When a martial artist is confronted with an enemy larger than himself, he will occasionally feign a fall as the enemy charges him. What he is doing, though, is using the enemy’s weight and momentum to his own advantage, as he grabs the enemy by the arm and throws him some distance (such as at some trashcans in the alleyway). The result is that the enemy is injured, but the martial artist escapes relatively unscathed.

The banks are playing dead, but in the end, they still have the control of money supply. It’s the taxpayer that will take the brunt of the fall and find himself disempowered. It has nothing to do with workers and Marx is just a distraction.

Close Your Eyes and It Will Be Gone

February 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Bad TellyThink back to the time you last sat in front of the television. In all likelihood this is not a difficult task. Most people can think back half a day.

When listening to financial news, it has not been uncommon to hear the reporter say things like “And Jones Heavy Industries beat the trend to finish 20% up at the end of trade!” One is led to think “I wish I had my money on that one!”. Flick to the station for the illiterati and it’s the same thing except in dumb-speak: “And Mrs. Jones of Smalltown won five hundred thousand dollars with her lucky numbers 3, 6, 42…” and one is led to think “I wish I had put those numbers down on my lottery ticket!”.

Few people are unaware of the fact that horse races and lotteries are worse than a zero sum game. The House always wins. Stocks are no different. The Trading House always wins. The people owning the horses don’t make as much of a living from having winning horses than they do from fleecing the punters at the races. So it is for stocks.

And in a losing streak, or a “Bear Market”, the same gamblers are out in force, each trying to guess when the losing streak will end. At the horse races one sees the old gambling addicts, chewing their pencils and working the probabilities. It’s all self deceit and with all the same, potentially lethal consequences as alcoholism or gambling.

People have woken up to this truth rather late, unfortunately. Many have nothing else and today they are desperate.

But if you go and sit where you always sit, in front of that television, turn the volume to zero and close your eyes, something will happen. The resulting silence can speak volumes about your inability to have a real conversation with your spouse, the absence of your kids or friends, or the absence of anyone at all. It is an altogether too threatening silence for many to withstand – a typical television withdrawal effect. But keep the sound off. Think a bit longer.

With the television off for several days, the mind will clear. Maintained for several weeks, your ability to think about your life will return. You will find the days filling up with social contacts, with unfinished jobs around the home, with gardening or with those long forgotten hobbies.

Even selling the television has benefits. You will end up with another useful corner in a room and perhaps several hundred dollars in your wallet, and several extra hours in every day, absolutely free of charge.

It is at this point that, for the first time in probably two generations, someone in your family has finally broken free. Your future becomes brighter. You have taken your first step towards surviving the coming upheaval.

A Visit to the Banker Manager’s Office.

February 23, 2009 Leave a comment

no_dollar_beggarLike an unemployed man’s wife, Hilary Clinton has made her way to the Bank Manager (China) to beg for leniency on non-payment on the mortgage.

“Because our economies are so intertwined the Chinese know that in order to start exporting again to its biggest market, the United States had to take some very drastic measures with this stimulus package,” Clinton said.

In other words, the furniture has been sold and they have promised to pay the baker, the butcher and the milkman. With money, of course. The sons sit idle, illiterate and unskilled. The daughters are already working the street corners and public houses in the town but it just isn’t making ends meet.

As she walks into the bank, all dolled up, the bank clerks eye the woman with hatred and jealousy. They all talk amongst themselves. One of the secretaries knows about the Banker and tries to wave her hands at the woman to tell her of the dangers, but the woman is very quickly intercepted at the door and ushered to the waiting room.

The Banker is looking at the books and can see that foreclosure is on the cards. He invites the woman into his office.

“Lend me a bit more” pleads the woman, “my daughters will work harder and my sons promise to learn to read”. The Banker just leaned back and smiled.

The US secretary of state had said on Saturday after meetings with China’s leaders that Beijing was still confident in US Treasury bonds and expressed Washington’s appreciation for the investments.

So said the woman as she adjusted her blouse and redid the strap on her high heels. She stumbled out of the manager’s office hurriedly.

But everybody could sense what really happened in the Banker’s office.

Categories: Finance, Government Tags: , , ,