A Functional Economy

Since over a generation has passed since the United States has had a properly functioning economy, does anyone remember what one looks like?

First, over time commodities drop in price. Assuming that people don’t just destroy wealth, it accumulates. As there is less scarcity when wealth accumulates, cause and effect lowers prices. Yet another good reason to avoid war. This can be negated if our culture turns to needless destruction. For example, Mr. Obama caused a great many perfectly serviceable power generation plants to be dynamited. The one in my county would take $6 to 8 e9 to replace. There were bombing missions of massed B-17’s that caused less damage. The ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program needlessly destroyed many functional automobiles across the entire nation. Is this not vandalism that steals wealth from those who follow us?

One commodity to watch is gold. A mental flaw causes most people to equate gold with money. Mass psychology causes many others to treat gold as money as the market demands. In a properly functioning economy, gold is a stupid investment. It just sits there without growing. Worse, in those eras when the economy grows, gold drops in value. When the price of gold rises, people are saying they don’t trust their government or the economy. Gold retains value as currency is devalued. It’s value is independent of any government. Gold can be smuggled. Rising gold prices are a sign that trouble is coming.

[ One of my favorite stores of the Second World War: The National Socialists came to Hungary in a nicer face. At first Jews could leave alive if they took nothing but their clothes. A clever chemist put his family fortune into platinum wire. He bent it into wire coat hangers and painted it with cheap paint. He put old clothes on the hangers and walked out of Hungary. Who steals cheap wire hangers? He passed through Britain and ended up in America. Somehow he ended up rich here. Many scientists knew the story, but they generally avoided telling the name. He broke the laws of Hungary, Germany, Britain, and America. But it worked.]

Inflation should be low to zero. A negative inflation rate means that money grows outside the market. It is an incentive to hoard money and not move it around in a functioning economy. High inflation rates are just a way to steal from the people. Look at Venezuela today for the ravages of high inflation. A sane person would convert Bolivars into anything durable rather than hold currency. Heck, convert it into anything that ages slower than green bananas.

There has to be a way to invest your money so that it values the world. And the greater the risk taken, the higher the rate of return should be. A bank’s CD rates should pay decent interest. Here are the CD rates today:

Here are the current average rates for the week of May 2:

  • 1-Year CD Rates: 0.59%
  • 5-Year CD Rates: 1.21%
  • 1-Year Jumbo CD Rates: 0.62%
  • 5-Year Jumbo CD Rates: 1.26%
  • Money Market Account Rates: 0.18%

Even the five year rates are below inflation. Who would give them money? If we do not invest, the economy suffers. If we invest at such a rate we prove ourselves fools. When an investment market does not deserve to exist, the money will flow elsewhere. Finding where is the hard job.

That is exactly what they do. If they don’t pay me, then they don’t get my money.

Enough. Comments?

 

 

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Black Market Dreams

When my mother was dying of cancer a few months ago in another world, she was on an oxygen concentrator. She asked for more oxygen because she couldn’t breath. I turned up the knob a bit. An alarm sounded. The machine ceased functioning. We all ran around and got a compressed oxygen canister connected. When the repairman came, we were told that the knob was wrongly calibrated. Maximum should have been four liters per minute. We turned it up to what was four point one or two. One is not legally allowed four point two. So the machine was programmed to shut down and sound an alarm. There was no warning or even labeling on the machine. Just a black ball floating in a tube with three or four horizontal thin black lines.

The twenty-something repairman who berated me and hit the reset switch hidden inside the sealed case said, ‘That’s what you get for living in a capitalist society.’

No. In a capitalist society I would have just bought more oxygen. In a socialized and over-regulated society I was as the mercy of such sanctimonious idiots who deny air to a dying woman. And oxygen! Air to breathe.

I may have shaken. I did not strike the prig. Oxygen is a controlled substance? She would have needed a different doctor’s prescription for five liters per hour. He was also angry that the knob had been set wrong. At the maximum setting, I shouldn’t have known better. What next? Can I buy all the water I want, but not distilled water? Is there a high school chemistry student who couldn’t make oxygen two ways?

I try to abide by the law. Really, I do. But such things tempt me into crime. Had I time, I would have bought a second concentrator and hooked it in parallel. Had I more time I may have made my own oxygen concentrator. I looked it up. They are easy and cheap to make. The makers can only charge $1,500 because they are trading on the bereaved. I will leave out how they work for brevity, but someone ask me in the comments. It is easy and ellegant. I begin to fantasize about making and selling things on the black marked that have been taken away by prigs. I could make $1200 per unit making oxygen concentrators. The real Freon is easy to make. And thirty years ago small refrigerators worked better and were safer. We are about two steps from using propane as a refrigerant. Can you say fire hazard? Every time I see a story about bedbugs I am tempted to make DDT, It works well, and I can make it on the stove top. When pseudo-ephedrine was made psuedo-legal I swore I would go out in the hills here and plant some ephedra nevadasiensis in my back yard, It is hard to outlaw something in it’s natural range. I swear I should get some sassafras root and sell Filé powder [ not this new stuff from the leaves] and Root Beer that tastes like root beer.

What is so innocent that some sanctimonious prig will not outlaw it?

The Educated Vote

This year like all years, the news media discuss the election in terms of ‘The Educated Voter.’ Credentialed voter is the meaning.

This puts me on a slow burn. Their definition of education is a college degree. Education is much more.

I am intimidated by a doctorate in Quantum Mechanics. I am grateful for those who learn to heal the human body. I am amazed by those Chemical Engineers who make the substance of our society. I am impressed by those who read Thucydides and Xenophon in the original Greek.

I think most people who study economics aspire to illegitimately change society by arranging manipulative incentives against the will of the people. I think ill thoughts of those who achieve degrees in social work. I scoff at those who arrange their lives by ethnic or women’s studies.

I am much more impressed by a welder I know who does advanced work tested by X-rays at the refinery. Universities today offer much more certification than wisdom. And schools have never provided intelligence. It is telling that those who tell us how the ‘smart people’ vote pay no attention to intelligence or accomplishment. Actually, that would be interesting. How self-made millionaires vote.

The Uneducated by the news paradigm:

And the Educated.

We had a woman running for mayor who is a professional psychic. I consider her bumper stickers to be the tattoo of gullibility. She has a college degree.

The Sorrow of Physicists

 

On occasion I have taken Physics toys to work. Sometimes they make life easier. The infrared pyrometer is useful. Sometimes they are just cool or distract from the amount of time it takes to accomplish things.

The utility and beauty of such objects leads one to hubris.

The physicist shouts to the world, ‘Physics has the best toys!’

Chemists smile sadly and whisper, ‘Alcohol.’

Ithaka

Ithaka

by

C.P. Cavafy.

As you set out for Ithaka,

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

angry Poseidon — don’t be afraid of them:

you never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,

wild Poseidon — you won’t encounter them

unless you bring them along inside your soul,

unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.

May there be many summer mornings when —

with what pleasure, what joy —

you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind,

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years

so you’re old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn’t have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Passing the Turing Test

In my lifelong effort to pass the Turing test I have developed a few techniques. I often great strangers with ‘What do you think?’ It is a subtle compliment. How many people’s thoughts are actually worth hearing? It is an invitation to a conversation more interesting than the weather.

It is, however, generally a failure. The most common response is ‘I don’t think!’ or ‘They don’t pay me to think.’ This demands a reply. ‘No one pays you for the best things in life.’ is too clumsy. After a bit of work I settled on a reply.

When I am told ‘I never think.’ I widen my eyes and say in as impressed voice as I can muster: ‘Are you a Senator?’

I stand mute

P1000340Piano

D.H. Lawrence

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.
In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.
So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.