Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government

The Cult of Conventionalism

I hope this will be the last (contemporary) political post made on the blog for a while. As much as the topic is compelling, one cannot escape the feeling of its overall vapidity. We observe representatives voting to object to an election in small numbers, knowing well in advance the act is mere grandstanding to avoid what harsh realities a corrupt system has foisted on the people. They “do their part,” even while the finishing glaze was conjured up weeks ago.

Strangely enough, there is a different kind of electoral moralization going on in D.C. and state capitols around the country: that of defending convention. Not long after the fury blew up on Capitol Hill, empowered libertarian representatives quickly rushed to “defend the Constitution” by joining with Democrats and ratifying the results of an obviously corrupt election. These are the same characters frantically warning about excess spending, surveillance, and endless wars, yet the critical moment is simply too trying for their sensibilities. So instead of taking a principled stand to favor what they believe, the route is one of guarding the system and status quo.

What makes this behavior especially confusing is the purveyors’ own knowledge that they are waging a losing battle by being good town watchmen over modern day malevolence. The reason spending does not come down is because the decision gets devolved across fifty different states, all with various projects and payoffs lined up for fulfillment. Wars are similarly driven by money, and continue to be pushed by the uniparty majority despite public opposition. Such programs are not going anywhere on the basis of libertarian idea-spreading, and certainly no Balanced Budget is forthcoming.

Keeping all that in mind, what exactly do these steady tradition enforcers get in exchange for their complicity? The simple enough answer is as follows: an opportunity to flaunt moral self-righteousness by being “right” because they warned folks in advance. If the rest of us had only listened to the libertarians and conservatives, somehow the cities wouldn’t be burning, racism would hardly matter, and decency might reign supreme. Now that all is ashes, we should turn and recognize our steady friends who wouldn’t allow the structure to collapse, not for all the ideological triumph in the world.

Perhaps an addendum here should speculate as to whether the system defenders cultivate a martyr complex in their minds to feel better about the collapse of convention. It would certainly jive well with the sacrificial themes of those Abrahamic religions they follow, in which the upright are cut down while preaching forgiveness and respect towards their enemies. Thus they can die (or devolve into the political deserts) knowing their honor was bright, and the other side is wrong or sinful.

Now let us pose one final query: should the more radical Rightists somehow seize power in the future, what shall the libertarians and conservatives do? Will they yet lament the collapse of the system, which holds the bulk of their spiritual wealth, or simply revert to becoming grifters aligned to that triumphant cause?    

Like Descartes, I leave the answer to my dreams.

Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government

The Opposition Death Squad

A few days ago, an octogenarian called Botoxi was reelected to lead the House of Representatives over the next two years of bland political soap opera. While a narrow outcome, the result was hardly unexpected, as Democrats possessed a 222-211 majority in the new chamber. Nevertheless, five centrist Dems refused to cast their ballots in the Speaker’s favor, either voting for other candidates or simply dropping “present” on the lectern. Botoxi was thus denied a clear numerical majority, sailing through on the force of a 216-209 tally.

Yet it should have been worse. In a move entirely predictable for their ilk, all six members of the Democratic Socialist “Squad” voted to return Nancy to power. Supreme Leader Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had this statement to justify the empowered decision:

“Well, you know, I think when you look at the razor-thin margin … We are just an extremely slim amount of votes away from risking the speakership to the Republican party and this is, it’s, it’s bigger than any one of us and that is consequential. But I also think it’s important that we realize that what kind of communities, which communities and all of the communities that, that creates Democratic power, power,”

The last several words are highlighted for a reason. Against all claims of fighting the system and opposing corporate influence, the Plural Left’s freedom fighters marched right back into the loyalty column when times demanded it. Though one could dismiss the issue as minimal, those brave partisans might have placed real pressure on the Democrats by embarrassing them with a Kevin McCarthy victory, thus setting up a consequence, but of course they did not.

 AOC’s mental recriminations reminded me of an observation made by Georges Sorel in Reflections On Violence:

“A cunningly conducted agitation is extremely useful to Parliamentary Socialists, who boast before the Government and the rich middle class of their ability to moderate revolution; they can thus arrange the success of the financial affairs in which they are interested, obtain minor favors for many influential electors, and get social laws voted in order to appear important in the eyes of the blockheads who imagine that these Socialists are great reformers of the law.”

Notice the bit on “minor favors,” and then go back to AOC’s quote about the slim amount of votes. She is essentially admitting that the only way for the Squad to oppose Botoxi was if the Speaker’s success had already been guaranteed, presumably by a large Democratic majority. Hence progressive opposition is merely a pipe dream involving the securement of a subcommittee seat or symbolic commitment to generalities like “universal healthcare,” all while the system chugs on in contentment.

Later on, Sorel considers the fakery of DemSoc reforms:

“The social revolution is conceived by Jaures as a kind of bankruptcy; substantial annuities will be given to the middle class of today: then from generation to generation these annuities will decrease. These plans must often seem very alluring to financiers accustomed to draw great advantages from bankruptcies; I have no doubt that the shareholders of L’Humanite think these ideas marvelous; they will be made liquidators of the bankruptcy, and will pocket large fees, which will compensate for the losses which this newspaper has caused them. ”

That, in effect, is Democratic Socialism. Any pronounced opposition is annihilated as soon as money and power become matters of discussion. Just keep spinning and ranting about Wall Street taxes.

Economic History · Federal Government · investing · Uncategorized

Break Their Fall

The older I get, the less enjoyable or exciting any “black pill” realization becomes. It might speak to the sad state of affairs currently showcased, but in reality a cosmic manifestation of elitist gall is the culprit. Rather than hiding their malevolence, the dominant players of our time have settled into an open, unapologetic method of communicating intent. Thus we as observers are left to endorse rather blasé attitudes in the face of searing rain, at once feeling the discomfort but taking solace in the fact that its arrival could be predicted from a long ways off.

A perfect example of this lies in the wondrous implications of the Dodd-Frank legislation signed by President Obama in 2013. The landmark legislation was celebrated for supposedly raining in the excesses of Wall Street (a highly dubious claim), and is regularly cited by leftists to show the successes of 44. At the same time, the mammoth bill put forward some rather interesting features that drop hints about what is to come.

In reaction to the controversy over government-funded bailouts of banks, the legislation permits such institutions to maintain solvency by pursuing a strategy of “bail-ins,” an option which involves seizure of a large percentage of customer assets to keep the firm afloat. Due to protections bolstering derivatives on the totem pole of importance, users with regular checking and savings accounts might well be subjected to the experience of people in Cyprus, who lost tremendously after a financial crisis on the island.

What’s really lamentable about the whole matter concerns how little attention it has received. The stock market continues to return stimulus-induced profits, Congress is just barely approaching a COVID deal after months of haggling, and an incompetent geriatric is poised to become president in January. But this bit of legal scribbling, which stands to produce disastrous effects in the very real future, is remanded to the likes of The Epoch Times, an alleged “fake news” paper.

I suppose the natural response is to dive deeper into Bitcoin, yet even on that front the waters are becoming murkier. Mnuchin the Moocher has taken first blood, and I would not expect Yellen to be much different. The steady swill of power and corporate greed seems to overtake everyone, no matter the designs of their sacred oaths and professed beliefs.

Perhaps we should buy land.

Culturalism · Economic History

How Tech Forces Consumerism

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, or perhaps impoverished, which in the United States sounds worse, I like older things. The simplicity and manual nature may not delight eyes trained for dazzling inputs, but they suit me just fine by allowing for closeness with the device. This becomes more difficult to achieve when everything – and I mean everything – is handled by central logic pieces .

But Big Tech doesn’t allow that, or at least less and less than before. I first noticed the issue after trying to downgrade from Windows 10 (which I don’t like) to Windows 7. Despite having a perfectly good OS copy on hand, I was henceforth peppered with warnings about security violations and lack of authenticity. No matter how many times I regard the messages and try to shut them down, sooner or later they come back, often with a loud notification sound to disrupt tranquility.

Difficulties became worse when I spent the past summer attempting to restore an old Optiplex 745 desktop. Because Microsoft dropped support for Windows XP, the machine was similarly awkward to use, and would not maintain security or time settings. Consequently, even the most mundane websites would spit out multiple alerts and attempt to block access. This includes the likes of YouTube and Google, to be clear.

When I recently purchased an old Nook Color to replace my failing Nook HD, the issues were also prevalent from the start. Apparently Barnes and Noble dropped support for older models in 2018, putting in place security policies that render the device quasi-useless. Many websites deny access, it is virtually impossible to access the Google Play app, and attempts to download browsers are greeted with claims of incompatibility. Ironically, the same messages usually urge users to download Google Play as an alternative.

Although I finally got it working enough through an email backdoor to use the reader functionality, the Nook saga emphasizes a very cynical goal of Big Tech: by making older devices clunky and obsolete through security updates, users are gently shoved towards making fresh purchases. Phone companies in particular are renowned for doing this, with the expectation that you will rush out to grab a new model every 2 or so years, keeping the money churn going. Never mind if a particular product works great and could last 10 years; the fiat must be expended.

What’s sad relates to the realization that older device models are probably not being recycled consistently, but rather tossed out with the trash. Thus all those valuable parts and metals will not make it into new phones, instead sitting in a miserable landfill, forcing humankind to strip more resources and generate fresh pollution in the creation of the flashy digital screen.

But who cares? Just swipe.

Economic History · Federal Government · investing · Personal Finance

The XRP Smackdown

There has been much gnashing and simping over the announcement of an SEC lawsuit against Ripple, one of the more controversial cryptocurrencies on the market. For some, the move is confirmation of their fears that XRP is a scam, and carries with it an advisement to purchase Bitcoin. Others are holding the line, suggesting the storm will work itself out and leave Ripple stronger than before.  

I tend to be in the latter category, perhaps driven in part by my long-time holding of the currency, but also because the lawsuit itself seems rather like a rather flimsy last-ditch attempt at relevance by Jay Clayton, the outdoing SEC chairman and historical big bank shill. Take a look at the government’s statement:

“We allege that Ripple, Larsen, and Garlinghouse failed to register their ongoing offer and sale of billions of XRP to retail investors, which deprived potential purchasers of adequate disclosures about XRP and Ripple’s business and other important long-standing protections that are fundamental to our robust public market system.”

The SEC’s argument hinges around the idea that Ripple should have been registered as a security (like a stock) rather than a currency, and thus their practices are problematic under federal law. They claim that the coin’s coming into existence with an existing trove of units rather than gradual mining of new ones pushes it outside the cryptocurrency category, as buyers were purchasing coins from the company itself.

Much as this might seem devastating to XRP’s future, it runs up against an obvious issue: the government previously granted Ripple the status of a currency, and thus will have to go against its prior declarations. While the SEC has won lawsuits against other altcoins in the past, this was following the release of a 2017 directive on their part, a rule which post-dated the ICO of Ripple. Thus Jay Clayton and Co. will need to prove XRP was running afoul of existing rules despite the relatively uncharted waters of cryptocurrencies in federal code.

Another obstacle for the federales surrounds the openness of the global community. Although Uncle Sam might well crackdown on firms like Ripple, other jurisdictions could opt for looser restrictions, or perhaps adopt XRP for themselves. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that smaller countries begin to use Ripple, and geopolitical opponents may well do the same. In any case, the nature of crypto makes it difficult for a single bureaucratic move to put the kibosh on all hope.  

Of course this could just as easily be investment white-knighting on my own part, but at least the cheap price of Ripple makes any future collapse largely nonthreatening.

Culturalism · Economic History · investing · Personal Finance

What Value Money Really Has

One of the most annoying aspects of reading historical texts involves being exposed to concepts which are simultaneously exciting and depressing, on the latter point because you realize the information will likely never have widespread acknowledgement. Such truths remain distant and untouched, at best exposed on occasion by the lone examiner to his motley crew, who may not actually be interested. But still he must do so, because otherwise the wisdom will be lost to a larger portion of the population.

I admit to feeling this way following my run through several political works by Feder. Although somewhat dogmatic at times, he manages to break down the question of currency and usury in a manner which countless lolbertarians and Marxists fail to do, despite their public acceptability. What’s more, the discourse doesn’t demand an excessively unmerciful slog through the miseries of Das Kapital, or any “free market” equivalent.

At the heart of Feder’s advocacy is the notion that debt-financed capitalism (which he calls Mammonism) creates slaves out of people and destroys nations. Folks are tethered to their debtors and spend long swaths of life attempting to serve the objectives of the banker class, in many cases falling into utter destitution during the process. Even traditional socialism is blamed for this, insofar as Marxists make deals with private corporations to issue interest-paying loans for state projects.  Thus the outcome remains subservience and poverty on the leftist front as well.

In contrast, Feder demands the eradication of all interest on loans, replacing such private measures with offerings by the State, with only the principle to be repaid. The implications of such policy are substantial, even in the context of our modern age. If the government cannot borrow on interest, it seems probably that our debt would be much lower, as U.S. interest on liabilities alone was $404 billion last year. Furthermore, interest-free loans by the government would have certainly softened the 2008 crisis, when many people lost their homes due to the machinations of the Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

On money itself, he describes paper currency as essentially a voucher representing – but not holding within – the value of what labor has been performed. So in effect a person who pays for their car to be washed is actually purchasing the value innate in the service, which can then be exchanged by the washer for other goods or services. The result is more of a barter system than the “money is money” arguments we see strewn across popular discourse. From here we get to the nationalist concept of a currency being backed by labor or productivity, as opposed to gold or merely the printing press.

Towards the end of his tract, Feder endorses a wealth tax, and makes an interesting argument about inheritances. He dismisses the concerns of those who might not be able to pass on wealth by suggesting what they should care about is raising their children well enough to live successfully in the world. Taken in the context of the “Affluenza ” case some years back, his logic is quite interesting.

Because the info is unique, I may find a way of including it in the possibly upcoming book on Rightist socialism. Time will tell.

Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government

Is AOC Actually Wrong?

Ever since her victory in the 2018 Democratic primary over incumbent corporate Dem Joe Crowley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been the prevailing fodder of Conservatism Inc. They love yukking it up over her air-headed takes on the issues, and lamenting the seemingly-delusional slide of her millennial supporters towards socialism. As irrelevant as she happens to be in the grand scheme of things, they simply can’t let go of the entertainment factor.

The latest iteration of their guffawing comes in the form of the following tweet, in which she gets angry at people dismissing her as a do-nothing social media icon:

Of course we have the obligatory Cernovich reply below, which, coming from the biggest Twitter prostitute of all, drips of smug hypocrisy:

Much as we might like to dismiss AOC’s complaint, it feels rather legitimate in the context of modern politics. Sure, she mostly makes big statements and tweets, but then again, what politician doesn’t do the same? Trump certainly is guilty of this, and for that reason alone he may have lost considerable support. Take a look at these examples:

So he’s “closely monitoring” a situation as the country tears itself apart, just like he promised an executive order on birthright citizenship, and the classification of AntiFa as a terrorist organization. Then we have Jim Jordan screeching about Big Tech, all while planning to do nothing, These are supposedly “strong” indications of action, but in the end they manifest as nothing more than empty words, just like AOC’s public proclamations. The deceptive smoke blows both ways.

If we examine democracy from a broader perspective, this is not exactly new. Politicians have always made large declarations about their intentions or ideas to do something, for the simple fact that election or reelection depends upon visibility and assumed competence. A leader who chooses to play it safe and focus on the policy wonk aspects is liable to be smothered, as the media will not report anything beyond the headline, apart from C-SPAN at least. Thus these short messages are strategic, even if they amount to little in the end.

The relative “problem” caused by AOC is not so much “only tweeting,” but rather the manner in which she has somewhat dislodged the established “conservative” alternative media from its fine pedestal. Prior to her rise, the leftist burn-bringers online were largely made up of the Young Turks or ripped segments from cable news. While useful, these sources lack the power of an indignant and uncompromising opposition. AOC on the other hand injects a certain vitality into the narrative which they cannot control, especially in regards to the role of government versus corporations. That is the main issue.

Tweet on, and do nothing.