Several rather unconnected reports give a poignant lesson on the importance of true principles. That is, if you follow a correct idea through to its conclusion, it does not matter what the established facts may be at a given time, your hunch will come good.
In a not unexpected report (Financial Times), it’s announced that the G20 Summit is set to deliver a coordinated removal of the various stimulus packages that have, for the past year or so, “rescued” our economy from the “the Abyss“, as our beloved Rudd called it.
Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank president, writing in Friday’s Financial Times, has outlined for the first time the principles the ECB would use to unwind the exceptional steps it has taken.
The OECD is forecasting that in 2009, the contraction in output among G7 nations will be 3.7 per cent, less severe than the 4.1 per cent decline forecast just a few months ago. The OECD downgraded the outlook for the UK, which will be the only G7 nation not to show growth in any single quarter of 2009.
The idea still holds true that, had there not been any stimulus packages, and had the market been allowed to take its natural course (as a side effect of an untenable and unnatural way of doing things over the past several decades), then we would have reached the bottom sooner. Arguably, more villains would have been caught off guard and not given the precious time they’ve now gotten to re-manoeuvre themselves before the safety net is removed. And the idea of saving the Government splurge money instead of spending it has once and for all proven correct. It was never going to last anyway.
Still, it’s frightening to see such unison in global economic policy. The more this happens, the more you can be assured that Democracy is dead. They have decided that, through their artificial economic “stimulus”, they have convinced enough rabbits that the sky was not really falling in. The cute little bunnies have come out of their warrens, raising their furry ears once more. They are ready once again for the slaughter, and the big slaughter machine (the Stock Market) has had its blades resharpened.
The voice of experience and wisdom is well heard in Bill Bonner’s latest Daily Reckoning article, where he says that the market (and the economy) never reached its true bottom:
We say that because stocks never went low enough to qualify for a genuine bottom…and investors never showed the kind of disgust that you usually get at real bottoms.
We say that, too, for a second reason – the economy. In order to have a booming stock market, you need a booming economy. Earnings need to go up. That justifies higher prices. It also contributes to the positive mood among investors that persuades them that things are getting better and better…and that stocks deserve not only higher prices corresponding with their higher earnings, but also higher P/E multiples. That was the kind of mood that sent the Dow up from under 1,000 in August 1982 to over 14,000 twenty-nine years later.
The market is headed south (chances are it will declare itself as early as next week), yet our neighbours decided to pull up their veggie patch and plant flowering bulbs – good times are back again, after all. So we sat back and wondered, why are people such fools? Why do people sit, day after day, watching the television (or reading the tabloid newspaper), taking it all in, reciting it like it’s some kind of deep, irrefutable truth? Why don’t people think any more?
Well the fact is, most people never really did any thinking. Humanity, on the whole, has always outsourced its thinking, more or less. It has to, because the human intellect is not really capable of processing all of the information all at once and getting it anywhere near right. This is a strong point of Christianity. It gives a template for life which, applied properly and widely enough, leads a society to flourish in every respect. The proof of this is everywhere.
So it brought a chuckle and a smile to read in the Telegraph of a bit of new, kitschy research that reveals how “Men lose their minds speaking to pretty women“. But it’s worth remembering something about what Western Civilisation has become – an ordered, scientifically tested and heavily manipulated social system. It’s plainly obvious how much sex is being used in the media, more and more, to manipulate the mindsets of both men and women, and even boys and girls. There is a general massaging of minds to doubt and disregard the ages old principle of heterosexual monogamy, of the obvious advantages of family unity, and so forth.
The biggest predator of the innocence of children is television and radio. And now, of course, the Internet. People instantly think of a dirty old man with his greasy nose against the monitor, trying to talk his way into the pants of an under-aged schoolgirl, but this is a problem that pre-dates electricity. It’s not the Internet’s fault. The real danger is the recording and advertising industries, with their psychologists, sociologists, artists, and marketing gurus, designing material intended to fleece the unassuming of their money, morality, spirituality, their freedom and even their lives.
As it is with the poisoning of relationships, where people are misled by false ideals and moral relativism through psychology and deception, so it is with money. People are led to believe that there is such a thing as a free market, universally fair accounting, and so on. They forget that Some People Are Created More Equal Than Others. Commentators on the economy always fall back to the same erroneous assumptions which perpetuate the problem, namely that some how Government policy is directed towards the interests of its people, or that market movements are a result of “sentiment” (whereas they are now almost entirely computer generated, driven by word searches on media reports). On the contrary, more than ever, it is the whistle blower who can provide the real information on where things are headed.
It’s like this. Since the majority of traded share volume is electronic and driven by supercomputers, basing their decisions on split-second price movements and news reports coming out of Reuters and other mainstream agencies, an inevitable predictability develops in market movements, because even a clever computer is predictable. Editors of news articles can now influence stock prices by the mere wording they use, and owners of media conglomerates can flood the news with fear stories, and the market jumps (even though no human being jumped). So it’s no surprise that researchers have noticed patterns revealing the hidden hand behind the stocks. There are algorithms which now reasonably predict stock market crashes. But this electronic milking machinery is counterbalanced by the ongoing human factors of insider deals and trading, which compounds the futility of a slow-coach, honest human being trying to win in the greatest casino of all time – the Stock Market. “You can only win if you know the agenda behind the agenda behind the agenda”, is what we overheard in a busy coffee-shop once. It’s rung true ever since.
We found one more article this week that was noteworthy. Eric Hommelberg at goldseek.com suspects that gold prices are about to go through the roof:
The simple truth is that GATA has done such tremendous research and has come up with so much evidence that even some major banks like Credit Agricole and CITI Group have published bullish reports on gold projecting $2000+ gold based on GATA’s findings. As John Embry of Sprott Asset Management once said, everyone with a IQ higher than a grapefruit should admit GATA has a point. Obviously GFMS Chairman Philip Klapwijk fails to meet Embry’s IQ criteria since he refuses to debate GATA on grounds you shouldn’t deal with terrorists.
The reason I quote his article is because he smells a rat. Gold prices are heavily manipulated, a point that is now well and truly proven. Gold is not a money generating asset in and of itself, but a purely speculative item. It need not be avoided like the Plague, but it ought to be treated with the same respect and caution as a vial of Plague. It’s a morally neutral metal which is there to be understood and taken advantage of, should there be any advantage to be taken. Eric puts it like this:
A decrease in gold demand is simply a myth being kept alive by desperate gold bears sitting on huge short positions that can’t be covered at current price levels.
The whole system [of US money] is based upon faith and backed by nothing. A skyrocketing gold price would set off all kinds of alarm bells which could lead to a dollar collapse. This is the one and only reason central banks have been dumping gold (through sales and leasing) into the market for so long.
The US can’t reveal its strong dollar policy without undermining its own credibility. Admitting they have been suppressing the gold price for so long would have had devastating consequences for the US dollar. Therefore at all costs, gold policies must be kept secret for the public.
GATA has long argued that gold has been oversold by banks, and that they are likely short of it (stated inventories overstate real inventories). The article might well be on the money. Gold looks set to skyrocket within days, as the stock market looks set to crash at about the same time. Might the US dollar collapse also? Food for thought, and perhaps it’s worth a quick lottery ticket (in the form of a lump of gold, that is).
Well, back to the point of our own article: Principles.
The principles we follow are those of monogamy, family, avoidance of debt and the respect for real work and genuine merit, and a distrust of all things bankish. If the government is stupid enough to throw free money at you, take it and shove it up the bank’s anatomical equivalent of a backside by paying off your debts. If the media tells you to dump your kids in a creche, look after them at home instead. If they say you should buy a flat panel screen, go and sell your old TV and go to a second hand bookshop and buy a classic, like something by Mark Twain or G.K. Chesterton, and shove the rest of the spare cash up the bank’s backside. If the government says put all your spare money away into your superannuation fund, don’t, and once again shove it up the bank’s backside. And so on. If, at the end of it all, the backside is full, use the money to build real wealth for yourself.
The recipe for success in this era is to hold to old, proven principles, despite every message to the contrary. Reduce the difficulty of doing so by not permitting the media to bombard you with uninvited propaganda. Pick and choose your own reading, and clear your mind.
The Geneva Convention of 1863 coincided with the advent of “modern” warfare with organized medical aid for wounded soldiers and the formalization of the Red Cross Society, the idea being that wounded soldiers would be left alone and help to them not impeded. Subsequent Conventions (1906, 1929, 1949) built on this principle, extended the idea of protection (leaving alone) to prisoners of war and civilians. The declarations imply that war is inevitable and they do not attempt to address the problem that in most cases war is unjust. The original Geneva Convention was driven by Christian principles and all the original signatories were Christian nations (Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Spain and Switzerland).
The Christian principle underlying the Geneva Conventions, though not explicitly stated, was to love thy neighbour as yourself. It concerned duties towards others (eg: don’t shoot at people with white helmets and red crosses, provide help to the injured) and as such it did not place Man or the Self at the center of the moral argument but one’s duty of care.
All this changed with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which does not concern itsef with what people do, but what was done to people:
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, …
It sounds good, but what is wrong with it?
Rights, as such, are useful as a way to describe ethical and legal problems. However, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is flawed. To have inalienable rights means that they cannot be abrogated under any circumstances, yet this can never be the case in practice and was not previously recognized in law. In reality, rights are not an absolute, even though some things are always wrong. If one reads the document literally, then no person, for example, may take another’s life and life is to be preserved at all costs. Nobody, in theory, can imprison anyone else:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Fault is placed on human beings every time someone “misses out”. We can see how often this is used as a political tool, such as when a government is blamed for “failing to protect the rights” of minorities. The “human rights” approach to moral reasoning is Utopian and, as such, is doomed to failure.
Impossible and silly things have become “rights”, such as:
…right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
…the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
These kinds of statements underscore a new mentality that has taken hold in the world, namely that we are no longer asked to examine our own actions but the status of others. Governments frequently cannot afford the standards of living which the “rights” demand. As such they are set up for failure and criticism, precisely because certain things are happening which are not mentioned in the Charter, such as the usury which is imposed on poor countries by wealthy ones. Human rights don’t work because not all circumstances are the same. In some circumstances capital punishment is a necessity, such as when there no other way to contain evildoers. Those living in first world countries may not think it to be so, but not everything can be remedied by imprisonment.
Christian moral theology does not run into this problem. If we were to produce a Universal (Catholic) Declaration of Human Obligations, we might say things like:
Employers must provide adequate pay to their employees such that the employees are able to support themselves and those in their care. Payment should reflect the value of work performed. Hours of work should not exceed those which are compatible with the health and safety of the employee.
In this case the onus is on the employer to do the right thing and to prove he has done so. The victim doesn’t need to demonstrate injury.
The issue which best illustrates the problem with rights versus obligations is with Abortion. The Right-to-Life organizations argue that a foetus has a right to live and the Pro-Choice camp argues that the woman has a right to use her body in any way she pleases. They are both wrong and this is why the approach which has been used by the anti-abortion movement has failed time and time again.
Let’s get it straight. Women have no rights. Men have no rights and the unborn have no rights. No rights whatsoever except to follow God’s divine will. Nobody may willfully end an innocent life. That’s the end of the matter. This covers all forms of murder, preemptive war, abortion, euthanasia, you name it. Not because people sat down and agreed it was a good idea, but because God said so – because it is an objective truth.
Christian moral law does not presuppose the existence of a certain kind of government or monetary system either. There is only one structure which is guaranteed to exist while human beings exist – the family. Any other social structure or instrument is optional and is entirely up to the populace to choose, so long as people act morally towards each other. So, in contrast to the United Nations Charter, Christians needn’t expect to be educated by the government of the day. It’s the parents’ duty to ensure their children are educated. Governments should make it easy for parents to educate their children, by whatever means are effective.
Many will assert that what is being put forth as being Christian morality is entirely compatible with the Human Rights model. The modern Catholic Church promotes the Human Rights model, after all. Yet this is an error, because, although human beings have value in that they are made in God’s image, they don’t have rights from the theological point of view. There is nothing in the Bible or the teachings of the Doctors of the Church purporting the existence of human rights. There are simply do’s and dont’s. The current attitude of the Vatican is, therefore, heretical.