15
Oct

Debtor Nation–Part 2

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As the US continues with its nonsensical governmental shutdown and the worlds eyes are drawn to the ever increasing debt that hangs over the economies of every nation like a Damoclean sword, threatening to sever the umbilical cord we await  the outcome of our fates. Do we still get a piece of the pie and get to eat it too? The last time I posted about the US debt ceiling back in May 2012 the debt stood at somewhere around the 14 trillion dollar mark, but has since increased another 2 trillion and edged over 16 trillion dollar threshold of something which we all have forgotten the name of. Oh yeah, some catch phrase like sustainability or some such.

As I stated in my previous post these figures are huge, they are ginormous numbers, that begin to take on a meaningless hue to laymen and women alike. We cannot fathom numbers so large and for the average Joe and Jane on the street , they do what’s natural and ignore the 12 zeros following the preceding two digits. A 2 digit number holds the attention and as zero’s get suffixed they are side lined into the periphery of meaningless.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the citizenry have lost the ability to think. What do they really think this number means or is it really a case of nobody even caring? Do they not ask themselves and question how in world is this debt ever going to be paid back? By what miracle will it ever get paid? If they did they’d know the answer with the most rudimentary of research. The short and quick answer is that it never will. The game will continue until one of the players fold, whoever calls the bluff will undoubtedly collapse the whole deck of cards so a challenge is unlikely lest the fragile bluff is exposed for what it is, a fraud. It’s a game of patience, the players with the most to lose are waiting, looking for their share of bonds to mature before perhaps finally calling. The United States obviously have nothing up their sleeve so we all await the day when one of the players decides to call or fold. We could be in for a long wait, never underestimate the irrationality of the market. Wasn’t it Nietzsche who said insanity was rare in individuals but abundant in groups. Anyway, either way insanity is where we are heading to be sure.

The winners in this game is definitely not you nor I. We will invariably pay the price for the game of poker these jokers have decided to play. The insiders already know how it will end and undoubtedly have measures in place to take advantage of the windfall they will receive once the transfer of wealth begins.

It’s almost a piss take, indeed it is. The notion of never ending debt is laughable and the joke is on us. I mean 16 trillion dollars on the credit card balance sheet, seriously? And you want to make next months repayment with an increase in the credit limit? You’ve got to be kidding me right? It’s no joke though and this is the exact strategy being deployed and all the media outlets are feigning concern and entertaining the notion that someone is going to call a show of hands. That the taxpayer will finally have to front the cash to pay. I mean it is possible that such scenario could pan out and it is perhaps long overdue, however which politician would ever take the path to their own political suicide? None! Nada! Zilch!

So in the final seconds a decision will come to fruition to increase the debt. It really is the only way to continue and stay in the game. Having to concede with reality and plug the taxpayer cash cow with admission of failure is not likely to happen in this round of gamesmanship. Plus I think the taxpayer likes this game as much as the players. It’s fun to play with monopoly money and why end the delusion now when the game is getting into higher adrenalin fuelled stakes?

Debt-Fix

Of course when we think about it in a more clear and level headed arena, away from the influence of the euphoria that is invoked by banging powerful narcotics of green backed currency into the constricted arteries of a strained economy, we will notice that the narcotic we are injecting is created from the tick we are accumulating with our dealers. The ticker is the debt and the debt is the drug. Debt is money. The greenback narcotic we so anxiously and  laboriously endeavour to fill our syringes with is created by asking our dealers for more and we’ll pay back next week. Promise. “You want mate” as the Vietnamese heroin dealers used to accost me with as I disembarked Cabramatta Train station to head home from my working day. Yes we want. We want more. Always more. Give me more of those greenbacks sir. They cure what ails me. But perhaps in the stoned and heady haze of debt ceilings and financial psychosis we will perhaps wonder if this lifestyle we ostensibly enjoy is but a mere illusion and that there might actually be a healthier and sustainable way to live.

Time is running out. The 17th of October is when our dealer lets us know if the ticker is doable. If the tick runs out I  guess a trip to detox and rehab is on the cards. I forgot the government facilities are closed and the private hospital require greenbacks. Cold turkey anyone?

Category : Rants | Blog
10
May

Banking, money and other catastrophes!

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The National Australia Bank or NAB as it is known in Australia went into a semi meltdown late last year, followed by The Commonwealth bank not long afterwards. Then only recently, in the last month or so, the NAB system once again made the news with another malfunction! There are those that smile with a wry sort of grimace, the sort of smile that knows something which remains hidden from less savvy folk. Thousands of NAB customers were left cashed down, unable to access funds, left hung out to dry as pay cheques were left unprocessed or withheld over the weekend of the 27th and 28th November 2010. All because of a computer problem that occurred on the previous Wednesday. On a weekend which ironically fell on Black Friday in the US, the weekend after Thanksgiving where the mad mobs embark on superfluous spending not unlike the post Christmas sales that happen on Boxing Day here. Both events juxtaposed in a symbolic synergy, illustrating the divide between the haves and the have nots.

Those who consider themselves in the “know” would invariably like to tell us that events like the system failures of 2 of the Big 4 banks will become common occurrences in the not too distant future where “technical glitches” in software systems like the one NAB uses will be plagued with such occurrences frequently, more or less in an intentional way. It is theories like these which are better suited to form the base line plot in some trashy paperback with a conspiratorial bent rather than the 3D world of reality. But is such a plot all that far removed from a reality that is about to unfold in the coming years?

NAB

Dooms-dayers and even those not so doomy disposed might go so far as to say that the NAB system fault had more to do with liquidity problems as a direct result of the impending economic doom in Europe, particularly the bailouts occurring in Ireland and fears that sovereign nations are on the precipice of defaults en masse, than something as simple as a software glitch. Liquidity problems which seemingly tied the hands of one of Australia’s Big Four so much so that it had to turn off its system temporarily to accommodate these issues abroad. It’s a damning accusation made purely from a paranoid point of view and most certainly a far fetched, baseless accusation. A bank  using such austerity measures is ludicrous and that they could even take place intentionally, absurd; but if we think about it for a moment, how hard would it be to insert a line of gibberish code in a piece of software so that a system would fall over? Not hard I reckon, but then that would make me one of those wretched crackpot dooms-dayers or conspiracy theorists and if I  were to entertain such absurdities then I’d also have to ponder whether economic hit men are a reality and that Fluoride in our drinking water is nothing more than a way to dispose of industrial waste while at the same time dumbing us down. Am I going to lower my most assured and sacred values and intelligence to muse over the possibility that these things could quite possibly be part of a conspiracy of a reptilian master alien race? “V”, eat your heart out, this is 2011 and time to embrace the end of civilisation as we know it, at the hands of an uber intelligent T-Rex metamorphosed into an elite humanoid form. Why not, wouldn’t you? The end is nigh and does that not automatically mean that we also lose all sense of the rational! Perhaps not!

Of course it is highly unlikely that such measures of intentional sabotage could easily be achieved in a heavily regulated and transparent industry like the banking industry but it makes for an interesting theory to mull over in quiet idle times, especially if one were of conspiratorial mind or a nut job like those pesky dooms-dayers are. Still, if nothing else, it does make for a good movie plot, something like, Wall Street 3 – QE3 The printing Press never sleeps.

Yet it is extremely disturbing that a whole monetary machine could go offline, just like that! Even when this episode is explained as a legitimate computer glitch in an upgrade gone wrong it nevertheless leaves one somewhat restless and a little nervous that a multi billion dollar a year bank could just drop off the grid. It serves as a reminder, at the very least, that the banking sector isn’t infallible and worse things could happen and has happened. Lets not forget that in the not so distant past there was a massive entity called Lehman Brothers for example and the next, no longer and that we are still unravelling the mess from the circumstances which brought about its demise. Although our puppet media would have us believe that the GFC is over and we are well on the way to recovery, I feel that optimism in the face of the brewing storm is nothing but a last ditch grab for our gullibility before the whole house of cards crumbles into a catastrophic mess that the last two generations have yet to taste.  What if a bank was leveraged heavily with overseas debt and the only thing nations were buying with US dollars were US bonds and through the not so prudent use of quantitative easing the whole bond market collapsed. And as China began offloading their shares in treasury bonds would another upgrade process then mysteriously pull the system offline. Or if panic set in would the banks just pull the power cord out before the masses could perform a run on its doors? My lack of knowledge in the esoteric world of high finance prevents me from confabulating a more creative scenario but perhaps a semi meltdown due to an upgrade glitch is  little more than just a test bed on what may happen in catastrophic failure.

What if NAB were more than just a little curious in performing some market research into what it could and could not do in unforseen future happenings. Whose to say what happens behind closed doors in the finance sector? The same sector which brought us the genius of sub prime mortgages, mortgage backed securities and collateralized debt obligations and other such derivatives of the housing bubble before it went belly up and left Joe Blow and his taxes to bailout the sector who schemed the whole charade in the first place. Is it really mere conjecture and cynical speculation that the recent banking operational failures were a little too convenient an event to at least question the validity of the explanations given? I know it comes back to conspiratorial questioning which leaves the door open to ridicule while the conformity enforcers sit back in their safe cosy cushioned back reality. The notion that an upgrade wasn’t fully tested before it went live seems dubious, although I’m sure it was tested, however, obviously not thoroughly enough to prevent thousands of customers from a whole lot of inconvenience and even lost revenue. Sure a few bugs is reasonable while a new system is put in place but for the whole system to fall over just isn’t acceptable and more than a little suspicious if you ask me. Perhaps I’m just looking for a an explanation for the unease that these times we live in invokes. Maybe it is that I am a conspiracy theorist who has degenerated into a delusional madness about a world that in the worst of times is a confused mess and at the best of times seems so simple and blessed. More often than not I am confronted with a confused entanglement of bits and bytes that has somehow been thrown into a pixelated picture of how things operate. Sometimes I may even recognise which pixel is “I” in that vast canvas blurred with a brush dipped in a palette complete with 16.7 million shades of colour.

As much as I do find alternative view points with paranoid bents  interesting, it really wasn’t the main point for writing this post, however, the banking part is what I do want to examine with my skewed cynical eyes. The remote chance that a bank could fall off the grid due to an ulterior motive is something, which is at least possible, whereas fluoride and reptilian overloads are works better left in fictional tales, although a good story could be concocted from just those two ingredients alone. Falling off the grid for a bank, albeit an unlikely aid to cure liquidity issues, even from a totally uneducated novice in economic matters such as myself, is regardless, a tool that could be used to curb a bank run. Bank holidays could be a thing of the past when a holiday could be orchestrated in binary. It is neither here nor there in reality because most of us living in the ordinary mundane world really haven’t the foggiest clue as to how money actually works let alone where it comes from. We may envisage a vault filled top to bottom with notes from peoples savings and reserves of the banks currency but we would be dead wrong! There is no vault and to my surprise, I recently became aware of this, is that you’d be hard pressed even getting access to all your money in hard currency by waltzing into a bank and cashing in the withdrawal slip if it amounted to anything significant. One needs to give the bank notice for amounts greater than a few thousand dollars. Too bad if you were in hurry and needed fast access to cold hard cash. So maybe bank runs are a virtual impossibility in this day and age anyway – so much for that conspiracy theory!

One thing which is not as confusing as it seems, once one has eyes to see, is money. Unlike the mysterious creator who creates a picture from thin air, who then uses a tangible asset of paint to illustrate what the minds eye sees, our monetary system is not based upon that which is tangible like paint. It is based upon pure illusion! What we’re lead to believe as real is in fact not so. Although the painting itself is an illusion the creator has used a tangible asset to create the illusion so it matters not how we view the painting, it will always hold value even if the value is in the eye of the beholder. However, the thing that we all worship while we wander aimlessly through our local Westfield Shopping Centre is a trick that magicians can only dream of performing. The trick is that we believe the notes we carry in our hip pockets are actually something worthwhile, something which has intrinsic value. Unlike the painting the value of notes lies not with the eye of the beholder but by an external party, an evaluator of sorts who determines the value. Also a painting is unique and another will only ever exist as a counterfeit or print if the painter is talented enough to earn the adoration of many. Notes are by design a copy of the original and many copies can exist in circulation, without limit. The thing we consciously or subconsciously worship whilst our eyes are filled with the envy of consumerism, does not hold intrinsic value and what we are carrying is not money at all but a piece of debt. An IOU from the Government and the Banks. Which bank? Ultimately, The Reserve Bank of Australia.

On the surface it is all well and good until we actually put some thought into what this debt or IOU means to us. Only then can we  appreciate what we so readily purge from our possession to trade for what amounts to superfluous gadgetry and accessories that we only really want because we are conditioned and perhaps even hard wired to accumulate. From birth we are conditioned and imprinted with a desire to express our individuality through the branding we license from some multi national corporation. We’re conditioned to express our status in the society we live in with the stuff we accumulate and display to the world. Displays of our ever so uniqueness and individuality no less. Purchases made with a promise that the brands we exhibit will say who we are, what we are and where we are in the world. While I’m off on this tangent, isn’t it funny that what we think of as uniqueness somehow equates to what is the most popular. The most popular brands are somehow better than something of similar quality –  the brand that sells the most and which has a higher dollar value are often the possessions we accumulate and are chosen to display our uniqueness. We are a strange creature. Speaking of brands, there is one particular brand that I really can’t stand and that is Lonsdale, whenever I see that label I cringe with disgust. I don’t exactly know why the name causes me such grief but it really does my head in. I mean what or who the hell is Lonsdale? Whoever wears the label I automatically think of them as a drone, when I suspect the brand is supposed to depict something of hipness, whilst wandering downtown in SOHO, London. It’s totally irrational since there are multiple labels that are just as blatantly stupid to be emblazoned upon ones person, like a human billboard, that it seems idiotic to have just one pet hate label but there it is, my totally irrational hate for anything Lonsdale. I somehow digressed into hate speech but I’m sure there is probably more than a fair share of the world’s populace that shares such sentiments, directed at Nation brands and not just the corporations that back those nations.

So what does it really mean to be carrying an IOU and to then trade it away as if it were just paper and essentially worthless. Wait a minute – do we really trade it like it is worthless? Well considering people exchange paper (plastic) to wear a big fat Lonsdale brand on their chest or bag, then yes! Even when we like a big fat pay cheque with wallets bulging with plastic, we do really trade what is intrinsically worthless for goods that do have value and even if it is a Lonsdale T-shirt, it does hold intrinsic value. If only just for the utility of having cotton on your back protecting you from the elements. Placing poor judgement aside, what does all this say about the IOU? There is more to It than merely the means to trade the note of arbitrary dollar value for goods and services that we desire and need for survival and leisure and even pleasure. It is also an IOU on our labour and skills. Our labour is what really pays for the piece of plastic we hold in our hip pockets and not only our labour but with the increasing levels of debt, especially in the US, it also is the labour of the next generation and countless other generations. In fact the level of debt in the US is so astronomical that it is a pipe dream to think the interest on the debt can be serviced let alone the principal ever having a chance to be paid off. It makes Australia’s 1.2 trillion worth of debt seem like pocket change in comparison, yet we are unfazed and live in denial that the problems we are confronted with are nothing more than statistical abstractions.

The wool has been pulled over our eyes and in our blindness we really do believe that the wolf eyeing us with hungry eyes is just another sheep in the flock. We’ve become so addicted to easy money which an unimpeded printing press has allowed, that when we see figures like 12 trillion US national debt or 1.2 trillion Australian debt it means nothing to us. The numbers themselves are an abstraction, we have no emotional attachment to such figures, since they’re so large they become meaningless. To a large degree because we simply cannot make a connection or understand  a number like this;         $12, 000, 000, 000, 000 it is just too easy to ignore it.  We are essentially creatures of habit and what is most easily recalled is one the most persuasive arguments we adhere to for the rationale behind the beliefs we hold. We inevitably shrug off large statistical aberrations to the the nether regions of our minds because we are still operating the same as we were yesterday and as such, it matters little what the national debt equates to. Numbers that large go unnoticed, even when our head might say, “Hold on a second, did he just say 12 trillion dollars of debt? What is that number? It’s a big number, maybe we should do something about it.!” , we’ll soon just shift the thought with the reassurance that is not our problem. Easy credit has lulled our senses into believing that we can have it all and have it all for next to nothing.

The next rabbit that gets pulled out of the hat is the magic trick that our money has been created out of thin air, quite literally it is created from nothing and the note we thought had merit and value is intrinsically worthless because of it. Labelling it money is deceptive because it is is not money but currency, fiat currency, there is a difference and it isn’t merely semantic. The distinction between money and currency is worth highlighting because although our currencies are labelled as money, it is I believe an intentional misuse of the word. Money has intrinsic value and holds value. Currency is purely a note with a stated value, a value which depreciates as more of it is circulated and because its supply is not bound to anything but the whim of the governing authority which issues the currency and thus has no intrinsic value because the paper is itself worthless. A dangerous condition which does have precedence in history, fiat currencies have typically only lasted a mere 40 year lifespan before it all goes down the gurgler.

The Roman empire collapsed under a fiat currency system. They were effectively an early adopter in implementing such a system while the Chinese were the first to devise and issue paper money. Inflation eventually brought their experiment to an end and ever since the experiment first appeared and failed, so it has been with each ensuing fiat based monetary system. It seems the government or controlling authorities can not be trusted to keep a lid on supply when things go a little pear shaped and find it all too easy to wade off catastrophe by debasing  the currency, an ephemeral solution until it spins out of control and eventually collapses. It begs the question of why we should feel special in this regard? The coming collapse of our system seems inevitable to me, not just a matter of when but how soon? I think that time will be upon us sooner than we think. My reasoning is based upon a gut feeling more than anything else and although gut feelings don’t necessarily mean anything, it is worth a little time and curiosity to ponder for a moment the instantaneous consumer gratification we all seem compelled by, is more than just a symptom of easy credit and money. In times of hyper inflation people are compelled to spend money as soon as they receive it because sooner rather than later it’ll be worth a lot less than it was worth only the week or day before. Is our spending habits a symptom of inflation? We are told that inflation is on average around 2 to 5% but why does it feel like the rising cost of goods I put in my shopping basket feels as if it is lot more than the 3% inflation? Do we base our spending habits on low level feelings like the price of our weekly grocery shopping being more than it was months before? With our weekly wage not really keeping up with the increased costs it does become noticeable even if the stated inflation figure seems to suggest another reality. An analyst may have the answer somewhere out there but all I have is just a gut feeling that inflation is increasing at an accelerating rate while it devours our purchasing power. For the most part the economy and it’s effects have remained hidden in my ignorance and apathy. Until one day I became aware that the cost of living was indeed rising faster than my CPI salary increase was which led me to find answers and to indeed question the system I partake in.

The feeling and suspicions I have are not worth much since I haven’t actually kept a diary or tracked the price of goods over the years but I’m sure a small basket of my usual daily items used to cost around $18 but now it is more like $23. Long gone are the days when you could fill a trolley for less than $100. Everything costs more and our salaries are perpetually in pursuit of the increases. So do we feel compelled to spend more than save because we sense the purchasing power of our dollar is rapidly declining even if we consciously don’t experience it? Inflation is the hidden tax that is imposed upon us while robbing us of our wealth. A silent killer like plaque in our arteries, constricting  our bottom line until one day we find it just ceases to fuel our expenses and we are left with a trickle in comparison to it’s former roaring flow. Inflation itself is manipulated by governments to distort the fiscal health of the country. In my mind we are closer to 10 per cent inflation which is a far cry from the 3% we are fed through government propaganda but I’m basing this assumption purely from the price hikes that seem to have embedded themselves into my shopping basket and of course your mileage may vary.

And mileage certainly does vary, especially in the coffers of Big Government. Some clever tricks seem to have been inserted into the formulas used to calculate inflation. Things like hedonics where the CPI is manipulated by substituting a more expensive item for a lower value item because as the price rises the consumer will use a similar lower cost item to replace the inflated price of the usual product. Or they use hedonic regression to implement increased performance as added value to adjust the cost as a dollar saving and thus deflated inflation. For instance, If I bought a new Ford six cylinder with say 130kW of power for $35K and then the next year I bought the same car but with a newer, more efficient  6 cylinder that produced 140kW for $37K, it is then assumed that the more power equates to more value than the 37 grand depicts and is then adjusted to say $34K. The reasoning is because I can now travel from A to B faster than I could previously and hence be more productive, therefore inflation is hedonically regressed to a lower level of inflation. Cars are probably not the best example but everyone else uses examples of TV’s or computers so I thought I’d use a different example. From my understanding it works well as a sort of technology  inflationary hedge. Increased technology deflates the CPI because of increased utility and productivity. Another example – I upgraded my toaster from a two slice to four slice toaster for around the same price as the original, more bread = less inflation. Never mind the actual bread tripled in price in the same time frame as we no doubt will be buying Homebrand rather than TipTop. I mean how are we supposed to get a picture of reality when the numbers are fiddled with?

Therein lies the problem, we aren’t supposed to get an idea of reality – that is the point! Market confidence is in the foreground of any tit bit of information that floats into our minds from a media that is less than objective in its delivery. Market confidence is best thought of as a tool to placate the consumer mass and to control the flow of money. If we all knew inflation was increasing more than the expected norm and more than than the manipulated data we are fed, we the people are not going to be terribly happy. The leaders that have been voted in and vested with the power to manage the economy wouldn’t last long in their leadership if true unbiased information was freely available rather than the lies and misrepresentation we currently receive . It seems wherever we look we really are being given the hard sell that the economy is a-ok and the the large injections of liquidity into the market has staved off the great deflationary process – The Great Depression Mark II. The system is dependent upon exponential growth and we’ve been led to believe that it is the only choice we have and perhaps it is, considering an alternative will most certainly dig at the heels of our comfortable and prosperous lifestyle. Market confidence is pushed heavily and  fiscal policy is geared to perpetuating this confidence. Deflation is considered an evil greater than Satan and is almost certain to extinguish a political career sooner than saying Super Profits Tax. Everywhere we look and listen we are fed the same tired slogan that everything is is order and we should just continue on our merry way. But is everything in order? Should we merely take what is fed to us as the gospel without blinking an eyelid to ascertain whether it is truth or just some more BS to keep the power base in the same tired old hands? Think! Think! Think! A slogan that is plastered on the walls of an AA meeting and a reminder that it is exactly what we are not supposed to do, much in the same way as the media and political arena gears itself as our thought process so that we need not bother our feeble minds with the burden of questioning and drumming out answers.

The media keeps us informed but who exactly keeps the media informed? Who gives the media the picture of reality, of what actually is happening when half the information being broadcast is misinformation and propaganda from vested interests and a good portion of the rest, merely serving as filler and entertainment. The question we really want to know is what exactly is happening? Perhaps no one knows the answer to the question, it is the 64 thousand dollar question and one worth contemplating. If no answers can be relied upon from the usual information sources we can, with some conjecture and speculation, find alternative media outlets to stir the thought process. We ought not rely too heavily on these either and in the end we are left with our own insight and experience to piece together a model or point of view from the bits and bytes we hear, see, and feel. Just as it has always been before mainstream media clouded our thought process with party lines and not so independent points of view.  The mainstream would have us believe that never ending growth is doable and our Gog given right even. However is it really conceivable that the path we choose to trudge and barrel our way down is really a perpetual packet of Tim Tams? If we have difficulty believing in the possibility of having a never ending packet of Tim-Tams, why do we so easily believe that the resources we so readily use with what can only be described as reckless abandonment, like junkies plying heroin into their veins, will never run out? In particular, the fossil fuels we essentially burn to fuel our life, just like wretched junkies with spoons held over an open flame eagerly awaiting the fix to soothe the edges. Fossil fuels drench our existence with the ancient sunlight stored in its structure and instead of conserving this energy we chose to ignite it and burn it up as if it were an endless packet of Tim-Tams.

When the time does finally come, and the last ounce has been extracted from the ground, and the last drop wringed out of the tar sands, what will we then use to fuel our creature comforts with? Bearing in mind that fossil fuels are only one type of commodity and the same fate lies in wait for all the treasures we reap from the earth. Eventually it will all come to an end, like all good things, the only question is when. Are we prepared for this extinction of energy and the materials we require for our everyday junk fix of goods? We may think and say we’ll then be in a position to use our technological prowess to implement and utilise the renewable energy sources available, once those events transpire, but is this really going to work? When the energy crisis rears it head it isn’t likely going to be an easing transitional phase, it’ll come fast and it will hit hard, quick and without remorse. All because the people who have sought to control energy supplies will do whatever is within their power to drag out the status quo right till the bitter end. We do have the insights and we possibly have the know how to make the transitional phase happen right this very instance and the only reason why it isn’t being whole heartedly brought to the fold now is because of the large sums still yet to be made from the existing finite resources. Our economic well being and the exponential growth that feeds it is the name of the game and renewable energy is not on the agenda, not because it doesn’t make sense or that global warming and the effects of humanities affection for burning oil and coal has on the environment is in dispute but because it just is not as profitable to do so.

There’s no commodity to sell with renewable energy, just the service of converting energy from one form to another. Whole industries will become extinct if renewable energy were to become the staple energy supply  for the growth the economy demands. Powerful industries are at stake and they’ll go down kicking and screaming and while they’re sinking they’ll try and take as many of us down with them. We have incredibly short term vision and are so painfully self centred in our scramble to keep up with the Joneses, although such a mindset is not solely of our own creation, however, ultimately we will only have ourselves to blame if we arise one morning amidst an energy crisis. Each and everyone of us will have contributed and endorsed our own extinction due to the shortage of available energy to meet growth and sustenance demands. Apart from a few brief moments when we sort of ummed and ah’ed about global warming and cringed when we realised that we might have to front up with the cash for anything to happen, we for the most part chose to continue with the status quo. In a way it is the economic model we live by that prevents humanity progressing from the self centred base we generally operate from. Our self centred nature forgets that we are not the only ones that share this planet and our needs are not the only needs that need to fulfilled. The problem is the belief that the economy and growth is the only thing that matters and although it is important to each of us to have the basic needs for survival met and to have a little more for the comforts and conveniences of modern living, we seem to have forgotten that it is also important to conserve the finite resources available to us. The theory of exponential growth is what really undermines our true potential because it seeks to separate us from firstly one and another and secondly to destroy the environment that gives us life. We have trouble looking after ourselves let alone the planet and until we evolve to a higher level of being where we can live peaceably and adopt basic human needs for the entire population we will probably burn it all to the ground long before we submit to a humanism of sharing and caring and be in position to look honestly at our behaviours and the impact our actions has on the ecology.

As it stands the world is becoming increasingly less stable and a tipping point of volatility will soon be upon us if it already hasn’t arrived. The finite resources we have will become the fuel for not only our lives but also for war as nation is pit against nation for control. This is already taking place and for many these conflicts are delegated to religious or ideological spheres but these things are merely smoke screens to hide the true nature of warfare. Wars are fought for territory and genetic dominance! Religion and ideology are the constructs that keep groups together, the glue of a common cause and division of the “other” but the conflicts themselves are territorial where a gene pool seeks to take control of the resources in another space to use for it’s own purpose and prosperity. Lets not confuse the matter with a subterfuge by consoling our own desires for wealth and prosperity by hiding it behind ideologies that have absolutely no meaning beyond the flights of fancy our minds concoct to create social groups that bind gene pools together. Confusing ideology with survival instincts and base desires of need and greed will merely distort the truth.

It’s worth stating that while I do think that we as species must learn to live in harmony and with respect to the environment, sustainability and ourselves, our monetary system although flawed in it’s current synthesis is important and is the medium in which we trade our skills and labour to essentially live and gain the things which do have value. It is just the system has evolved from what was a sustainable system into a beast that has devoured everything in its wake. We have a a whole machine that is wholly designed to dupe us into believing and hailing the catch cry of exponential growth as the miracle of modernity when it is far from a miracle. Exponential growth on a finite set of resources. There is something obviously wrong with that equation but we still hail the system as the best ever created. It is true that the standard of living in the west has increased by leaps and bounds but as the third world inches to the second world and the second world making a quantum leap to the the first we are faced with a terrible problem. It isn’t sustainable! Exponential growth on a finite set of resources is impossible. Our monetary system is equally as impossible because it follows the same ideology of exponential growth and instead of facing the truth we all believe in the delusion. Radical change needs to take place and as long as we maintain the delusion that the world can continue on it’s merry way then we will awake one day with great misfortune upon us.

The system is headed for collapse and how we prepare for it will determine how we fare in the aftermath. Unless we overhaul the folly of exponential growth we will eventually have to face the brick wall when it hits. There will possibly be violent retribution and chaos. The US is essentially on its way out! To put it simply their empire is dying and as it falls we will see some vulgar scenes being played out on that side of the Earth. The problem is that they are a force that one doesn’t really want to anger as it expires. It will go tooth and nail to hold onto it’s death grip, what once was a budding productive machine is now a defunct decrepit relic and a relic that will not sink gracefully. The US economy is lost in debt, who quite simply has no hope of ever repaying and whose strategy is now to print its way out with a ruthless debasement of its currency. Because the world reserve currency is US dollars it doesn’t leave us with much confidence in fiat currency to deal with the problem that we all face. The idea has been tested time and time again and once the plague hits there is no way out except through hyperinflation or default. Either method is a recipe for disaster. The tried and sure way is to return back onto a Gold standard where the value of gold arbitrates the flow of money but with such a system the growth we expect and demand cannot continue unabated. So it is highly unlikely such a system would be revisited and without looking at system that regulates growth to a sustainable level then whatever the reserve currency is it will invariably fall prey to the same fate as that which we are currently experiencing. As individuals we can prepare and protect our own wealth by buying hard assets that hold value while phoney money devalues, traditionally it is gold and silver but may extend to further to other commodities that will be valuable in a future where fiat dollars are worthless. Apart from that equipping oneself with skills and resources to be self sufficient which will be worthwhile in the face of complete collapse and probably just as valuable in and of itself and transitioning to a sustainable healthy society.

The ultimate solution is downsizing and because we are incapable of doing this for ourselves, nature will more than likely make that decision for us, one way or another. It is a doomy and gloomy outlook and not really a very optimistic perception but the alternative is to believe in a false optimism. As long as we live with the reality that 10 per cent of the population controls 90 per cent of the wealth then we are going to have a system of inequality and a continued dog eat dog mentality and one upmanship. A system that is ultimately one that is wasteful and not conducive to sustainability. I’m not really one to look at things in a peachy light but the idea of shared abundance and equality really is the only way I can see as the way to repair the state of the world and to prevent the scourge that will soon devour and threaten our existence. But I just don’t think humanity has it within itself to make such quantum leap. Perhaps when the threat of extinction is upon us will we then have the courage to work as a whole rather than against. The current state will not last, that is just about assured. What comes after is not so. Can we curb what awaits us or will we merely bury our heads in the sand and do nothing? In the end what Obama claimed is indeed true, Change – Yes We Can! Do we have the will to make the change? Perhaps we do. Let’s make it before it’s too late.

Category : Rants | Blog
8
Mar

Mid-Life Crisis!

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I don’t know what is wrong with me but lately, maybe months or over the last year I have slowly declined into an insurmountable sloth that has prevented me from doing the one thing that really made the slow grind of daily life even remotely bearable. That one thing is writing. The exercise of crafting fragments of words into some sort of stream that hopefully resembles a cohesive segment of thought and if I was lucky something that might strike a chord with anyone who might stumble upon it. But it just hasn’t been so. The problem is a lack of energy – a slump in motivation and too much time obsessing over things I have little to no control over.

The ironic thing is that I’ve often lambasted the object of my obsession and now I am fully within it’s grip. I don’t know why all of a sudden I have fallen prey to the idea that I just don’t have enough money. For all my ranting’s about the corruption that consumerism has bestowed upon the world I am now  gripped with an urgency to accumulate as much of the stuff that fuels consumption as I can and I often curse the crushingly slow path that leads to stacking the bundles of cash it takes to hoard. It’s gotta have something to do with age – a mid life crisis of sorts, although such crises are often symbolic of spending large sums on outrageous toys and going on some last adventure I find myself wanting to not really to spend but save. Although I do confess doing my fair share of superfluous and wanton wasteful spending does really mess up the plan to save. I just want to create a stack of wealth that might afford me a standard of living in the future. I know it’s crazy but I can’t help myself obsessing over this need. Yet implementing a serious strategy of frugality to achieve said goal is easier said than done.

I rack my brain with what I can do to get more money to hoard and all attempts to invent some method of getting a decent cash flow happening have amounted to naught. Then the dejected sense of doom arises from the pit of my stomach – it’s too late. I missed the boat and I am stuck in circling in the perpetual ebb and flow of paid slavery with the hopeless sense that there is no way out of the grind.

Perhaps I am best in changing my perspective rather than trying to beat myself out of the system. Lets face it – how many people actually escape the ripping jaws of working for money to create a life that is actually meaningful? Hardly any. The primary problem is that the conditioning of working for money has been firmly planted. The correct response or choice of wording is money working for you but that is not exactly what the system really wants of us. It wants and needs for us to work for money and that is what we pay with our lives for. Working for money while money gets handed over to the ones that knew that money worked for them.

Like the words from that song – “Money for nothin and your cheques for free!” – Dire Straits

Therein lies the secret to financial success. Get money working for you but bugger me if it doesn’t take a hell of a long time to get money in a position anywhere close to showing potential and fit for work. I guess it’s why leverage is the way of the world today. Money is debt and debt is money. Ingsoc’s 2004 amendment to 1984’s Freedom Is Slavery slogan. Cash is no longer King – debt is and you better be certain with your strategy lest your debtor performs a margin call.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength! All hail Ingsoc! Where big banks are too big to fail and too big to save. Privatise profits and socialise debt – that is if you live on Wall St – Main street can go and get stuffed – just hand over what’s owing to the Taxman before you head out that door. No wonder why I feel so dejected and disillusioned. Big Brother made sure of it!

Category : Rants | Blog
28
Oct

Coming Home

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There’s something disenchanting about coming home from an overseas trip. You’ve traversed a time zone or two. You’ve travelled thousands of kilometres and seen amazing sights, to then have it all come to an end. Coming back home where things seem a tad more clouded or smeared, almost as if a faint brush of emptiness has re-touched the scenery with a greyness that you never noticed before or you’d abandoned once in the sphere of another reality far removed from the one we stand in, in our everyday lives. Perhaps it’s because of the closeness and familiarity that closeness imbues, once removed from that close and comfortable zone it so easily forgotten. Coming back to it affords a freshness and a type of amnesia of the menial everyday life we lead, yet it only seems moments pass when it all comes crashing back, just like you’d never left.. Prior to leaving you were acutely entangled within the mesh of everyday living and within its grasp you became blind and unaware that everyday life had all but ensnared you and held you hostage to a routine, which on the surface doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, however beneath the facade is the collateral damage of losing the ability to actually see and perceive the things around you. A comfortable and secure existence which is familiarity steals ones perception while trading it for a focal point that seems all consuming but is in fact merely just a distraction from the small things that make up the whole. Taking the time to stop and smell the flowers is not something which is often encountered in the hustle and bustle.

Upon returning from the ‘other side’, fresh eyes are still tuned to the perception that just on periphery there is so much more than just objects around you, so the once familiar is a little newer and a little fresher – one’s eyes are opened and moreover, receptive to the finer treasures that are everywhere but difficult to see when one’s blinkers are set to a narrow vision and focus. It’s unfortunate that fresh eyes soon tire and  fade back into the tunnel vision of routine. And how fast it returns is startling. It takes considerable effort to keep ones eyes open and not be consumed by all the things that you’d left behind to venture into the world afar but routine is an alluring seductress, she will invariably pull you close with her ruby lips, soft and sensual, whispering sweet little lies into your ears. The hot breath on your ear lobe telling you that you’re the only one for her, that all you need do is close your eyes and experience the here with the numbness and comfort it shrouds you in. To let yourself fall into those warm, endearing arms and be swept away with the ease and security that routine brings. Persistence wears away the memories from afar and your eyes are once again accustomed to the narrow tunnel before it, like the night vision we experience when we are thrust into darkness. As our pupils dilate to soak in what little light can be found in that darkness, the soft light at its end is all we soon see. A light that never seems to get nearer because the treadmill we are walking upon to get to that source of wonderment ahead – that light over yonder only perpetuates the illusion that we are travelling forward when in fact we are merely standing in the same spot while our legs are thrust in a motion that never gets us anywhere. A source we forever strive to reach yet perpetually fall short of, so it is – our beloved routine. Our mistress and comforter.

It’s a short lived experience, travelling the globe on holiday and all too easy to become reacquainted with normalcy upon returning home. Besides the fact that I am a new convert to the idea that going overseas is not a bad way to spend a few weeks it would be a entirely different ball game to up and leave and extend the travel experience by living and immersing yourself in another land, far away from home or to become a seasoned traveller who does overseas trips regularly. I have the impression that seasoned ‘travellers’ are a more adventurous lot and probably more interested and comfortable in the people of a place, where as a novice like me, prefers to avoid the people and focus on the actual place. I’m not one that likes to get in amongst the masses of the world meeting new people. I’m not good at it! Partly because I’m far too uninteresting to make any sort of impact but more so because not that many people really impact me and besides, I detest the little game we need to play with the trivialities and nuances of small talk. I understand the necessity of it,  treading carefully around the edges, sussing the other out before revealing too much of ourselves, but lets face it, it is a tedious process and unless one possesses the ‘gift of the gab’ to drive small talk in a direction of greatest interest it will ultimately fall into the two most uninteresting topics of conversation ever imagined.

I definitely do not in possess said gift, I find small talk just falls flat with me.  I’m a difficult nut to crack because my interests are small and narrow and not as eclectic to fit the tastes of most people. I suppose I’m sort of getting better at it as time progresses but I still find the uncomfortableness and anxiety and dead end that it usually ends in with me as just not worth the effort when so much of humanity is just not that interesting, who mostly subscribe to a default position of sport and weather. Occasionally little gems are presented but for the most part the rabble is just that – rabble.  Perhaps I’m far to arrogant and haughty to have what it takes to ‘fit in’ with such a default position. But I am who I am. Perhaps you may find my previous post entitled ISTP revealing. It may reveal why I am such a difficult personality to crack or then it may not.

What my travel to Finland and short visit to England taught me, actually reaffirmed in me, is that I prefer and enjoy nature to the hustle and bustle of city life. City life is such an artificial environment and I’d forgotten what it was like to sit in an environment that wasn’t just concrete and scores of human beings wandering around in a self deluded daze. In fact I had a semi epiphany when at the local Westfield’s the other week, observing the trickle of shoppers who were lazily strolling with what looked like a glazed look. I couldn’t help but wonder, what the exact nature is of this meaningless activity we indulge our precious time with -  shopping for things we have absolutely no need for but somehow are compelled to buy? It comes back to the routine we are entwined with. We invest a large portion of our lives at our places of work, complete with a tunnel vision that our routine sees with, while time withers away, dying at the hands of routine and what better activity is there to complement the numbness than with other shoppers who are desperately in need of something other than that which they are doing but no longer know what it is! I know I do it and even though I often find myself in a semi existential crisis, wondering why on earth am I wandering around with the same glazed look as my fellow shoppers. It is because it has become a routine and because we are a herd creature, the shopping mall is the obvious place to be when not working. After all it isn’t for nothing that we spend 40, 50, 60 or 70 hours a week working for is it. We want to spend the money we earn and seeing as most of our time is spent earning and so few is spent in leisure, it is a place of worship for many of us. We can buy those objects of yearning that will show to our fellows that we are above the ordinary and indeed better than the you. But time is little so we flock to the local Westfield’s where everything is nicely compartmentalised and convenient so we need not spend too much of what is most precious – time, wasting it in search for our little piece of nirvana.

It’s pretty sad that more of us don’t actually see the madness and do something else like get together with family and friends and head out in the fresh air but the madness is such that we feel compelled to visit the church of capitalism, to hand out the alms of our faith and pay homage to the god we serve. It’s funny but the cash god we pay our lives for, is intrinsically valueless. Those bills we hold in our hands so dear has probably less value than the actual paper its printed on.

What can I say. Time for another holiday to forget all this nonsense we work for.

Category : Journal | Blog
23
May

Money

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This economy stuff is interesting, being the news junkie that I am, I find it enlightening when the news and current affairs programs invariably get to economy reporting. The balancing and juggling act of a global monetary system has a theatric essence, while it filters down the chain, the soap opera of the likes of you and I seem to pulled by the puppet masters who yank at invisible strings. Doom and gloom seems inevitable, if it isn’t already upon us. I get the distinct impression that things may worsen over the next year.

The jist of the unfolding drama seems to have an apocalyptic end in store, although the yay sayers have a more optimistic vision for the future or maybe they just prefer denial over the reality of this looming doom. I have no idea when it comes to economics and how it all works but its fascinating watching interviews with power brokers and analysts, hearing their take on where things are going. There is a certain amount of fear mongering that seems to take place and I’m never quite sure what purpose this fear is utilised for, if indeed it is just scare mongering for the sake of manipulation. It seems like a game, a game of monopoly where trades are taking place with this fake money and one could imagine that people in power like to instill fear so that the fake-ness of it all can be kept in the dark and as a consequence all the more value is added to the fraud.

Doesn’t it just seem absurd that we give so much value to what essentially amounts to a piece of paper? It’s funny that this piece of paper can have a certain value one day and then the next, it has less or more, all because someone says so. Its like the sub-prime mortgage scam that was instigated by greedy banks, wasn’t that just a small example of the phoniness of this money? But we can’t live without it and it seemingly gives a more comfortable existence even if it doesn’t buy happiness. Although it possesses an evilness if allowed to possess it is the system that is here to stay – so why not indulge in the meaninglessness of it and wish a fuller back pocket?

As an observer I am constantly challenged by the charade that seems to be perpetuated by authority figures. I have to look twice on occasion and wonder if the person selling some idea actually believes the tale he is elaborating or whether he knows full well that the confabulation is just a colourful story.

I recently listened to an audio book, The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel and having oil prices rising now to 130 plus dollars it makes me wonder whether peak oil is causing the current soaring price. Wall street seems to be in denial over this phenomena. It seems that everyone just wants to bury their heads in the sand and hope against the evidence that oil is becoming a rare commodity. It actually has me concerned because if peak oil is a reality then we are certainly looking at some pretty devastating consequences by burying our heads in the oil sands as it were; we are in effect digging our own graves. It’s not even about the inconvenience of prices at the pumps and the already strained budgets that some of us have to deal with. It becomes a matter of survival, because oil infiltrates the bare necessities of our lives. Without oil everything begins to unravel – never mind hoping into the car and traveling to the shops to buy the groceries, there just won’t be any groceries to buy; period. Downscaling of society will all of a sudden be upon us and we will be unprepared. It won’t be pretty, we’ll soon see how much of an animal we truly are when faced with utter desperation.

Hopefully we’ll be able to see beyond the immediate future and begin to invest greater resources into finding alternatives to oil. But we may have to see some real hardship before we pull our heads out of the sand.

Category : Rants | Blog