peristaltor: (Default)
Spent yesterday puttering about the yard listening, among other things, to Chris Martenson's Peak Prosperity podcast. In a recent one, he interviewed G. Edward Griffin, author of The Creature From Jeckyll Island. Despite the silly name, it has been cited by many in the "alternative" crowd as a major influence on them, especially those with a focus on finance's domination by private banking.

Full disclosure: they're right, at least about how finance has warped the public's understanding of banking. A lot of money has been spent covering up what banks actually do, probably because of the lesson provided by the Bank of North Dakota. If a State (or any other municipality, for that matter) can own a bank, cycling the profits involved in lending directly into the State itself, why would that municipality bother paying interest and fees to private entities? It's a good question, one a few here in Seattle are considering.

But never mind that. Let's get back to Griffin.

In the interview, he revealed something that should be better known considering Wikipedia:

Now, Wikipedia is fine on, I guess scientific information, or... Historical information. As long as it doesn’t impact on the control mechanism of this elite that we’re talking about....

Now, once you get into those areas, then Wikipedia becomes the lapdog of those forces. Because all of the major corporations, I think that’s fair to say. Have to admit though, I haven’t check all of the major corporations to see if this is true. But I believe it is, that all of the major corporations, especially those that are dealing with ideas and products that relate on this control mechanism.... I’m talking about money. I’m talking about healthcare and that kind of thing. They have full-time people contracted to monitor Wikipedia 24-7. There’s always somebody from those corporations watching it.

So, the minute any entry is made touching on their sphere of influence.... They immediately change it or correct it. And they have, because they have done that so often, and they’re paid to do it, so they can devote their lives to it. They move up in rank and become editors because they do spend time doing it. And they become the ones who are the gatekeepers for the information on Wikipedia.

(I emboldened and deleted removed Martenson's conversational noises.)

Conspiracy in private industry is not unknown, of course. What turned Griffin on to this, he says, was a whistle-blower, one who called him one day. She said,

"I’m an editor of Wikipedia."... She says, I don’t know if you know it or not, but we’ve become deeply involved in a controversy among the editors at Wikipedia. I said, really? Over what? She says, over you....

Me? Why me? She said, well, she said, we didn’t know anything about you, but we thought when we saw your biographical information, the way it was being changed, we thought it was curious. So, we started to look into it. And we thought that it was very biased on the part of a small group of other editors in our organization....

So, we started to challenge it. And she said, if you’re interested, she said, it’s all on the internet. Most people don’t know, but the challenging mechanism by which one editor challenges the other is all available if you know the codes to get into the back room.... So, she gave me the codes. And my gosh, this is a roaring fight going on.... It was like a cat and dog fight over me.

I thought, well, that’s interesting. So, anyway, they fight, she lost the battle. She and her friend were told that if they didn’t drop this line of argument, they would no longer be qualified as editors.

(I did it... again.)

This fact that there are professionals out there who do nothing but scrub new media for the benefit of their employers should come as no surprise to anyone. That these industries can afford enough people to do the job that they insinuate themselves into that new media, also not surprising. Where billions of dollars are at stake, a few tens of thousands a year makes for a worthy hedge investment.

And so, today, we have Griffin's name somewhat tarnished with the following: "G. Edward Griffin (born November 7, 1931) is an American far-right conspiracy theorist, author, lecturer, and filmmaker." And indeed, given the bulk of his views, I would say that this description seems accurate.

For even though he is absolutely correct in describing the Federal Reserve's function, those other items of his interest? Holy crap. HIV/AIDS denial? Climate Change denial?! What the flying fuck?

And that got me to thinking. He has experienced a life changing event few get even close to witnessing: the discovery of a for-realz practice that, if broadened beyond private industry, could do wonders for our civilization.

And the blow back he got from the literally vested interests must have put the whammy-jammy on his brain, perhaps causing him to see conspiracy freakin' everywhere.

I must say, though, the interview was entertaining in Martenson's response to some of Griffin's nonsense. When he came out and started ticking off the Climate Change Denial talking points, Martenson, a phD scientist himself, got very polite. I like what commenter ParaDime had to say:

Griffin appears to be in the global warming skeptic camp. Chris handled this part of the interview in a gentle way, but did gingerly probe at the possibility that "faith-based skepticism" (my words, not his) might be putting in an appearance.

peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I haven't mentioned it recently, or at all, but a few months ago I spoke with a Bitcoin guy. He was my first, a tecky by trade who really believed in the Bit.

I asked him what the appeal was. For him, it was to take control of money in ways that separate it from people. Things proceeded to weird. )
peristaltor: (J' Acuse!)
Paul Krugman writes stuff. Sometimes I read it. Mostly not. Why?

First, let's start with this not-so-startling example of why we should never, ever accuse the NY Times of being "liberal":

It’s important to realize that there are some real conflicts of interest here. For Sanders campaign staff, and also for anyone who has been backing his insurgency, it’s been one heck of a ride, and they would understandably like it to go on as long as possible. But we’ve now reached the point where what’s fun for the campaign isn’t at all the same as what’s good for America.

Let's focus on that last sentence, shall we? Sanders has been talking about the outsized influence of money during his campaign. Refreshing, it's been, to hear from someone freed from the gag order on which Big Money insists. Wouldn't it be "good for America" to talk about money?

Ah, but to focus on that last sentence, we would first have to consider the first sentence. Specifically, we would have to consider Krugman's "real conflicts of interest here."

Let's go back a few years. Krugman and Steve Keen had a nice online fight about money. Scott Fullwiler points out that, in that nice fight, Krugman makes a bit of a blunder:

...Krugman demonstrates that he has a very good grasp of banking as it is presented in a traditional money and banking textbook. Unfortunately for him, though, there’s virtually nothing in that description of banking that is actually correct. Instead of a persuasive defense of his own views on banking, his post is in essence his own flashing neon sign where he provides undisputable evidence that “I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

(I emboldened.)

Fullwiler goes on to explain Krugman's mistaken conception of how money works, just like Steve Keen tried to do. Ah, but Krugman is a Nobel Fauxbel Prize* winner, dontchaknow. You can't go up against one of those guys and win. It's not allowed.

When Keen refused to back down, Krugman just stopped talking to him.

And nobody did a thing.

Here's the thing, though. Bernard Lietaer has some insight into Krugman's motivations, based on a conversation they had.

Which brings us back to the nearing election. Hillary? Big Money is in the house (well, Senate, State Department, and now Campaign Spendy Chest). Bernie? Not so much.

So out comes Krugman to not mention, but instead just defend the money ... the money system he claims to understand, but cannot clearly and accurately define when anyone is reading. Sure, if the other Bernard is right, and Krugman did say what he said, then yes, Paul would be ostracized and quietly disappear, his NYT bully pulpit gone, his career in shambles.

But if he did this, if he talked about what money really is and who controls it, he would also be ... honest.

Which would be a nice change.

*Alfred Nobel never, ever endowed a prize for Economics. That was done much later, by the Central Bank of Sweden, in 1968. It is given not by peers, but by bankers. And lo, check it out: It's been re-named recently! It's now The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. The word I underlined, "Sciences," is a new addition to the prize, implying economics is anything but political, and is instead, somehow, just as objective and universal as physics, chemistry, and medicine.

"Economics is not a science,
and never will be!"
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Hey, LJ, remember me? Been off ranting less with keys lately and more with my voice. More work, less of an audience. I decided to come back here because this rant, which has stewed quite long enough without my attentions, just won't work well on that other format.

For this one, I need to get back to good Ol' Henry George, the original leftist, the guy people listened to before Karl Marx got in any way known, let alone popular. (That was a subject that worked well in the other medium.) When last I considered George. . . . )
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I tripped across yet another indication that Planet Money fails to properly understand banking, this time in Episode 525 on a Babysitting Economy. The problem? )

Addendum, 4-4-2014: I meant to refer above to Krugman's ignorance of banking by citing this article on the topic, but failed to do so on the first go-round. My bad. It is a far better explanation of Krugman's ignorance than the other citation.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)

Now, if any mainstream media outlet would present this explanation instead of jumping on the "painful cuts are necessary" bandwagon, that bullshit trope about the liberal media might be worth its salt.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Walking home from a failed dental procedure, I passed a new bank branch and, since it is one of those hated multinational banks, it's guard. He was wearing the usual for small branch security; black outfit, Kevlar vest, and, yes, jack boots.

Being in a mood, I asked him, "So, are all the big banks getting jack-booted thugs for guards?"

He said yes, at least two of them. It was to prevent robberies.

Still in a mood, I said, "Hey, they're the ones who deserve it."

The thug was a nice guy. He said, "You got that right!"

We both laughed.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
If you haven't already, check out Frontline's "The Untouchables", the story of why no bankers have been prosecuted for their misdeeds despite ample evidence to do so.

Next, consider what happens to people who actually do prosecute bankers. Do they rise in government? No. They find quiet teaching jobs somewhere far from civil service.

Now you're ready for some fun.

It's humor, of course, but with quite a bit of rage behind it. It also "provoked" a reaction:

Report too much, and you're dead to us.
peristaltor: (Default)
Several years ago, I tripped upon something that puzzled me.

Through family tales passed down through the generations and backed by literally boxes of original documents including diaries and correspondence, Randall Keynes' book Annie's Box recounts the family life of his great-great grandparents, Charles and Emma Darwin. At one point, the Darwins had to decide how to best educate their children, seven of them and the number growing. To properly teach the girls, Emma thought it best to hire a governess. Bored yet? It gets better. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
It's old news, but Ron Paul will soon no longer hold office. So noted Robert Parry on Alternet late last November. Parry raised some obvious points, but I'm posting here to note that he missed or probably misunderstood many others to the point where he actually might have missed the point Ron Paul represented all along. Those points? )
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Got a heads-up today about a notion I've heard before, but which now seems to be getting some actual attention: What if the Treasury minted a couple trillion-dollar platinum pennies?

Thanks to an odd loophole in current law, the U.S. Treasury is technically allowed to mint as many coins made of platinum as it wants and can assign them whatever value it pleases.

Under this scenario, the U.S. Mint would produce (say) a pair of trillion-dollar platinum coins. The president orders the coins to be deposited at the Federal Reserve. The Fed then moves this money into Treasury’s accounts. And just like that, Treasury suddenly has an extra $2 trillion to pay off its obligations for the next two years — without needing to issue new debt. The ceiling is no longer an issue.

In fact, the most disturbing aspect of this follows immediately: Got your attention, have I? )

X-posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
Does the US still have something silly called the "fiscal cliff" looming? I haven't paid enough attention to the mainstream pressers of late. It's too hard not to laugh at their silliness.

Instead, I thought I would distill the various choices and just for fun examine the options. When it comes to the Federal deficit/debt situation, it seems to me we have just three courses of action:

  • Continue to spend more than the IRS collects in revenues, racking up ever more bond debt in the process;
  • Balance the budget; and
  • Create a revenue surplus and start paying off old bonds.

I know that according to both of our mainstreams, the press and the economists, only the third option is "viable" to our country's continuing economic health. After all, if we don't do something soon, won't something horrible happen involving interest or our children? That depends upon who you ask, of course. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
(I'll try to make this money-ish post brief. As Twain noted of the Bible, fiscal policy is like chloroform in print form. This should, however, show that knowing the actual monetary creation process can take the sting out of what you are about to read.)

Steve Roth at The Angry Bear notes a growing trend among monetary policy wonks: maybe, just maybe, central banks should burn their government bonds as Ron Paul once suggested:

In June of 2008, Ron Paul made a radical proposal: the Fed should simply burn all the U.S. Treasuries it’s currently holding, reducing the government (U.S. Treasury) debt by $1.6 trillion, or about 10%. . . .

Paul called this “bankruptcy,” but it’s actually pure MMT thinking, acknowledging that 1. the Fed and the Treasury are most reasonably viewed as a single consolidated entity (“the government”), and 2. that government debt is something of a side issue in the big monetary picture (bonds are a vehicle for interest-rate management by the Fed), compared to the matter of central importance: how much newly created money the government puts into the economy by deficit spending, or takes out with a surplus (destroying more money by taxing than it creates by spending).

"MMT?" That would be the side-branch of economic thought called Modern Monetary Theory that has been effectively side-lined since the ascendency of Classical and Neo-classical Theory. MMT is one of the only economic schools of thought that recognize that banks actually exist and contribute to the economy's function in real and substantive ways. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
At the tail end of my last money-ish post, I quoted L. Frank Baum's opening to his topical money allegory The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:

Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles.

This was, of course, printed first in 1900. People carried most things by wagon, especially in rural farm lands, simply because the gadgets we take for granted, the automobile in all its cargo and people hauling variants, were not common. Worse, the vast vehicle support apparatus such as rural roads in 1900 would not support any but the most rudimentary (ie. slow) transport. Wagons pulled by beasts and men were the norm.

How times have changed.

Today, I happened to catch John Michael Greer's Archdruid Report entry titled The Upside of Default, where he coins a new word, just for fun, and pokes a bit more fun at this "investmentariat":

The investmentariat has been told for decades that their money ought to make them money, but nobody told them that this only works in an economy that experiences sustained real growth over the long term, and nobody would dream of mentioning in their hearing that we don’t have an economy like that any more.

All the investmentariat knows for sure is that the kind of safe investment that used to bring in five per cent a year is now yielding a small fraction of one per cent, and the risks you need to take to get five per cent a year are those once associated with the the kind of "securities" that make a mockery of that title.

He goes on to calculate very, very roughly that our Western economies have morphed into something of an impossibility. Okay, it may look like Dorothy's tiny house has nothing to do with Greer's sneering mockery of a modern small-time investor; but I do plan on eeking out a connection. Really. )

X-Posted in [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
For too long now, I have been remiss in a promise I made to [ profile] alobar. For too long, I have been contemplating writing about L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the money parables others have found in it, but not writing it. So, fresh from a road trip to the Oregon Country Fair, today I sat down to actually write it . . . and found out that many, many other have already done so.

Still, having pored through the material available online, and having ordered holds on what books on the topic my library offers, I do think that I can contribute a worth-while synopsis and toss in a few observations I have not seen in the conclusions written to date. Let's follow that Yellow Brick Road to its not-so-obvious conclusions, shall we? )

X-posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.

–Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.

When last I commented on debt and default, I noted that Greece, since it will never be able to pay back the gazillions owed to Deutche Bank and others, should simply be allowed to never repay the loans. The loans should be forgiven. In that article, I noted that predatory lending is nothing new to large banks, even when it comes to lending to sovereign nations. There are simply limits to the economic activity that loans can stimulate, meaning that one cannot loan one's economy to highs that enable repayment of principal plus interest. It ain't gonna happen, and shouldn't be expected.

Here's the thing: We have since the end of WWII had a seemingly deliberate attempt to reverse the sage practices of the past and to obliterate from the general memory that these practices were ever regular. We need to revive the normal, and to help that along I'd thought I'd try to revive old terms that are still relevant today, perhaps now more than ever. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Okay, there hasn't been much activity here. I find most LJ communities thrive when the topic of their discussion is less in the news. Still, there is an aspect of monetary policy and discussion that can be corrected; that part that is wrong. Not wrong on opinion (that's pretty much impossible), but wrong on facts.

And one cannot come to any decent opinion without at least knowing the facts. Let's start with how banks create money. )

"All the perplexities, confusions and distresses in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, as much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation."

(John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.)

X-Posted to [ profile] the_recession.
peristaltor: (Default)

The audio is a speech he recently gave; the video his Powerpoint presentation accompanying the speech.

Wonk Alert: He rushes through the thing (probably due to time constraints), and presents info only economists would love. If you haven't read his blog or book, Debunking Economics——and even if you have, but aren't an econ prof——it might go over your head, like most of it did mine.

Oh, and in the presentation he mentions a back-and-forth pissing match between him and Paul Krugman. Do go to the blog and check out the entries on this match. It summerizes the key differences between economists the government and press turn to for econ advice, and the economists (like Keen) who actually predicted the economic crisis we're now in.

Addendum: Interview with Keen on this Krugman blog fight. )

Oh, and LJ? Please stop converting the embed codes to shit that simply don't work. K? THNX.

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
After going over the basics of money yesterday and today (with a clarifying trip along the way), I'm finally going to print that Peribuck and see how I can spend it.

Money should smile!

Ah, but how to spend it? )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
I need to open this long, long post with a correction, one I should have issued some time ago. I wrote the last posts, Taking Stick of Money Yesterday and Today, without correcting immediately a misconception about the nature of what money is. By not jumping on that with jack-booted gusto, I failed to correct what I'm sensing must be one of the most outrageous lies in economic thought, a lie that leads to all sorts of following lies that in accumulation clutter the average head with complete nonsense.

And the correction is. . . . )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.


peristaltor: (Default)

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