Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Solace Of Beauty

This blog has veered into politics because of the terrible events that occur with increasing frequency and give clear signal that the world is approaching a tragic change. Freedom and common sense, the natural world and traditional social order, Christian morality and the respect for life are all under attack and reeling. So as the deconstruction of society, the death of tradition and the terrible insecurity of the modern world smash through our little refuges and blast acrid jets of clamorous screeching to deafen us and poison our souls, is there still time to think about beauty?

There must be. If we are to be something more than the manipulators and murderers that rule the world and kill and steal all that is good and noble, then we must look for beauty. We can rip our eyes from the tragedies, turn off the noise and concentrate for now on what is beautiful. It is still there outside the window if we look for it. It is time to repair the soul.

The jungle is disappearing but a chucao still chortles from under the ground cover of the Valdivian forest. The little rayaditos still flit into view and bob around singing among the blossoms on the lumas. In America the song sparrow still heralds spring with his clear beautiful voice and the warblers and cardinals and blue jays and orioles splash beautiful colour through the green woods and cold white snow banks.

Marriages collapse into hatred and vengeance and little girls cry alone in their beds at night. It tears out my heart, but a beetle climbing on a calla lilly or a little honeybee caressing a plum blossom or a sprig of chilco is still beautiful enough to overcome the screeching caustic world of modern man. These gifts of Providence are what we truly need; they lighten our burden like the caress of a mother.

Beauty is not a drug, and it will never dull the mind. I will still know that the little girl cries alone and it will still hurt me, but I will also know that through the pain there is hope. Where reason tells us that all is lost, beauty tells us that there is still hope. The wind stills sighs softly through the pine boughs and a loon calls out on the still water under a silver moon. Beauty still reigns over the heart of those that look for it.

Beauty is not only the work of Providence, but also of Providence’s most troubled creation: man. It is curious that the same creatures that can invent the Guantánamo torture center can also write and perform Mozart’s Requiem Mass. We can kill and torture, cause pain and panic and deadly sorrow, but we can also write music as sad and beautiful as Grieg’s The Death of Ase. We can produce systems of enslavement as hopeless as the Soviet Gulags and blast them open with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Humans can create beauty and when we focus on art and the splendor of nature we find a peace that puts the horror and sadness into perspective. Listen to Wishbone Ash play the long, live version of Phoenix and feel the hope return into your heart at least for a moment.

I sat down to write an article about my favorite Spanish painters five hours ago, but this has completely gotten away from me. This thing wrote itself and now I am confronted with links to Velazquez and Goya and Dalí, with self-portraits of these giants and digital images of some of their most powerful works. Each of these men struggled through times and events as ugly as those that stain us today. The enemy reveled among the pain and corruption and carnage then as now. It drove Goya mad, but he was still able to paint with beauty. The crass commercialism distracted Dalí, but he still painted with an eye for the construction of the work that we may not see again. Velazquez had to give up his easel and brushes and deal with the world directly, but he could still enlighten us with a clear honest view into the nature of his subjects. They showed us beauty through the torment and I will write the article about these men sometime.

But for now I am listening to Phillip Glass and contemplating a surrealist vision painted by my friend Carlos Paredes. I am counting the days till I return to my home and my beautiful wife and children. I will hear the chucao soon. I will laugh at the antics of the rayadito and I will watch the little honey bees. The sun will come up over the Andes across the bay and the sea breeze will waft in the front window of our bedroom with cries of gulls, while the call of the chucao comes into the room from the back window. There is hope. Maybe not for long, but there is hope for now. The world is still full of beauty.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

World Economic Demand is Collapsing

Ships all over the world are stacking up in exporting countries, anchored, and not able to sail because they cannot get letters of credit. Hong Kong was mentioned as having rows and rows of loaded but idled ships stuck there. Over 100,000 factories in China are to close by the end of the year. Chinese plant owners are abandoning their plants

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More credit is not the solution if it can’t be repaid.

The unavoidable rules of traditional economy were:
1. Only production creates wealth.
2. You can only spend what you earn.
3. You should always save part of what you earn.
4. Sooner or later, all debts must be paid.

If these rules still apply to America in the 21st century, then we are in deep trouble because we are ignoring each one of these rules at the national, corporate and personal levels. We are in a deep financial crisis, which was caused by excess liquidity, and no one tells us to think about the fundamentals. I am not an economist, but I want you to read this short article and think with common sense.

The crisis that the economies of the world are suffering is the result of the Federal Reserve Bank having kept their interest rates way too low for way too long. They did that to keep an economy that produced less than it consumed moving. It did not encourage more production however; it just created situations that were ripe for speculation. The result of the Fed’s policy of irresponsibly low interest rates was a giant pool of cheap money that investors used to speculate in a variety of different markets, wreaking havoc in each one and moving on to the next.

First came the dotcom boom, when everyone was getting rich investing in tech stocks that rose meteorically without ever having made a single sale. Neither the small investor nor the institutional investor nor the Wall Street pundits ever had an inkling that the tech stocks wouldn’t keep rocketing upwards indefinitely. Something new and spectacular had happened! Everyone was going to get rich and the market was going to just keep climbing forever! Tech stocks didn’t have to produce sales, they were new and different! No one looked at rule #1 above. Speculation does not create wealth, production does and the dotcoms hadn’t produced a blessed thing. Even though the individual investors may be deluded or stupid, the group consciousness of the market eventually remembers the basic rules, therefore speculative bubbles burst. The instant millionaires instantly quit being millionaires when the dotcoms dove off of a cliff at the end of the 20th century.

But as the dotcom bubble burst, the Fed was afraid that a slowdown could ensue, or even the dreaded recession. The economy had to continue strongly forward, so they lowered the interest rates and flooded the markets with cheap money hoping that capital would work wonders and gets everything moving ahead again. This time the excess liquidity ended up in real estate and commodities. Housing prices began to rise as speculation became all pervasive. The truly moronic people in the government thought that this was the moment to put everyone in their own home, and even if they wouldn’t qualify to rent a three-bedroom apartment they were authorized to purchase a $200,000 house. Housing prices rose like the dotcom prices had five years earlier. Banks offered to let people cash equity out of their homes to go on buying sprees.

At the same time the cheap money started to speculate in commodities, driving up the price of basic foodstuffs and thereby actually killing people in Africa through starvation when food became too expensive to buy. Speculation drove the price of oil through the roof, almost bankrupting the aviation industry and severely hurting poor Americans at the same time that food got more expensive.

The investors on Wall Street were making more money than ever before in history. CEOs were considered so brilliant that they paid themselves eight and nine figure salaries. They invented complicated derivatives to make certain that they made the best use of the endless pool of cheap money provided by the Fed to leverage their investments and wagers by thirty or even as much as one hundred times. It was all a great party until the slow thinking group consciousness of the market pondered the four rules above and came to the conclusion that there was no production here and began to cash out. Kaboom! The market slides dangerously towards the brink until….

Paulson and Bernanke charge to the rescue at the head of the Congressional cavalry! There they went, Barney Frank mumbling away, Nancy in her pearls, Barack the chosen one and Bomb-bomb McCain all following the lead of the criminals that created the problem in the first place. And they decided that the solution was to do the same things that had created the crisis: increase debt and flood the markets with liquidity.

It is not working and it won’t work. The bailout will cause stagnation at best and a complete collapse of the dollar and the American economy at worst. The geniuses forgot the fundamentals. Instead of imposing tariffs and producing more here in America, instead of allowing bad companies enter into receivership where their “illiquid assets” can be disposed of and where their good assets can be bought by good companies, instead of waiting until credit for good companies loosens back up, instead of following the fundamental rules, the geniuses Bernanke and Paulson have followed the European socialists. They are trying to make us borrow our way out of trouble, but they forgot rule #4 above. Sooner or later all debts have to be paid, and it appears that neither the American government nor the American people will be able to pay their debts.

Why won’t we be able to pay our debts? Because we don’t produce anymore, instead we consume. Look at these three realities below and ponder that if they are accurate and will continue to be true that there is no way for us to pay our debts. Read them and tell me how we are going to pay a 12 Trillion dollar national debt. As more and more American jobs go overseas how are people going to pay their 3.5 trillion in consumer debt?

1.- America imports much more than it exports.
2.- The government spends much more than it collects in taxes.
3.- Americans take on more debt than they save.

Since our national economy began to be incorporated completely into the global economy twenty years ago, our production has declined while our consumption has increased. A large percentage of our production jobs have gone overseas. The goods that were once made in America are now made in China and Mexico, and the American companies that made the products here are still producing many of them, but the jobs are done by Mexicans and Chinese and Indonesians.

Since our good paying production jobs have gone, ours has become a "service economy". That means that we make caramel macchiattos for each other, spend a ton on medical attention and sell each other shiploads of stuff that is made overseas. We have become professional consumers and all of our consumption was paid for with debt.

There is a thing about debt. Sooner or later it must be paid. (Rule #4, top of the page) But we cannot pay our debt because we have a giant trade deficit, which the politicians won't touch because to question "free trade" is taboo. As China and India and others become more efficient and American plants become more run-down, how do the free-trade politicians (read Obama) suggest that we begin to produce more than we consume so that we can pay our personal, corporate and national debts?

It has come to the point that a magic fairy wand cannot be waved over our economy. Either we produce or perish. And that means dumping the free-trade mantra and protecting what little industry we have left. I am a pessimist. I do not think that we will be able to pay our debts and I think that the net result of that will be much worse than most people can imagine.

Just watch what transpires at the upcoming international financial summit. The creditors are going to have their say….

Friday, November 7, 2008

Conservatives Lost More Than An Election

Conservatives Lost More Than An Election by Chuck Baldwin November 7, 2008 That Barack Obama trounced John McCain last Tuesday should have surprised no one. In fact, in this column, weeks ago, I stated emphatically that John McCain could no more beat Barack Obama than Bob Dole could beat Bill Clinton. He didn't. (Hence a vote for John McCain was a "wasted" vote, was it not?) I also predicted that Obama would win with an electoral landslide. He did. The real story, however, is not how Barack Obama defeated John McCain. The real story is how John McCain defeated America's conservatives.For all intents and purposes, conservatism--as a national movement--is completely and thoroughly dead. Barack Obama did not destroy it, however. It was George W. Bush and John McCain who destroyed conservatism in America.Soon after G.W. Bush was elected, it quickly became obvious he was no conservative. On the contrary, George Bush has forever established himself as a Big-Government, warmongering, internationalist neocon. Making matters worse was the way Bush presented himself as a conservative Christian. In fact, Bush's portrayal of himself as a conservative Christian paved the way for the betrayal and ultimate destruction of conservatism (something I also predicted years ago). And the greatest tragedy of this deception is the way that Christian conservatives so thoroughly (and stupidly) swallowed the whole Bush/McCain neocon agenda.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ron Paul at Google in July 2007

Listen to this man and compare his wisdom with what we heard from Obama and McCain

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Big One Is Nigh (The coming economic earthquake)

by Srdja Trifkovic

“The global economy is like the St. Andreas Fault: You know that a terminal disaster is inevitable, but you keep your fingers crossed and try not to think about it,” I wrote in the print issue of Chronicles seven months ago (“Waiting for the Big One,” March 2008). “When a tremor occurs, you often fear it could be the Big One and sometimes panic,” I went on, “but then, when the dust settles, you sigh with relief to find yourself alive and the Golden State still above the ocean.” Well, the Big One is nigh; and here’s the rest of that old column in which I argue that, in the end, the meltdown may be all for the best…The fiscal imbalances caused by President Bush’s addiction to deficit spending, by over-indebtedness, by ordinary Americans’ negligible savings, by the huge and growing foreign debt, and by the falling dollar are all still there.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Political Theory Is Not on One Axis

The range of political theory does not reside on one axis: "conservative" and "liberal" as Americans are trained to think. Take a look at the Nolan chart for instance. There are two axes, one for social orientation and the other for economic orientation.
Open your minds.....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Phone Call To The Fed

CALLER - Mr. Supinski, does my country own the Federal Reserve System? MR. SUPINSKI - We are an agency of the government. CALLER - That's not my question. Is it owned by my country? MR. SUPINSKI - It is an agency of the government created by congress. CALLER - Is the Federal Reserve a Corporation? MR. SUPINSKI - YesPlease read this article for an entertaining and frightening look at the true nature of the Federal Reserve.

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