Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On The Culture of Debt

It suddenly struck me, when replying to other people in the last couple of days, what America's real problem is- we have a Culture of Debt. It's so strong that economists are no longer bothered by such problems as trade deficits, the government deficit, or consumer debt; it's just assumed that we'll be able to grow our economy enough to take care of such trivialities.

Even after September 2008, I had somebody tell me that a trade deficit was a good thing because we're essentially keeping a high standard of living by printing paper.

Do economists not read newspapers? Do they never talk to people who are on unemployment? What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, December 29, 2008

On Globalism & the NBER yeild Curve

Paul Krugman's blog on the NBER yeild curve brought out a libertarian response that claimed that in the postwar period, a postive yeild curve *always* meant a recovery was coming.

I think the good Professor did a great job explaining why this isn't so- New Deal Democrat also pointed out at economic populist that the NBER yeild curve reports different data under deflationary periods than under inflationary periods.

Postwar predictions are therefore not valid- this is the first *deflationary* recession in the postwar period, so you need to look at PREWAR conditions, not postwar conditions, for any of this to make sense. Thus, at least on the matter of stimulus vs doing nothing, I’m with the good professor. I simply disagree that stimulus *alone* will be enough. A global “free trade” economy is literally an economy without scarcity- anybody can have anything for far cheaper than they could yesterday or last week, and the prices keep falling.  Demand simply cannot keep up with worldwide supply where half the world works for under $2/day, the workers aren't earning enough to become consumers.

Thus I argue that we need to separate the uses of money better- into four worldwide currencies:

- Currency A is a value store- it defines the value of the other three currencies, and you can only transfer wealth in one currency to another through Currency A, but you can’t charge or receive interest in Currency A.

- Currency B is for Business Cash Flow, and as such, has an expiration date, use it or lose it. MOST people and companies will get their paychecks in Currency B, and pay their bills in Currency B, and it will expire at the end of the fiscal year if not converted to Currency A.

- Currency C is for Credit. You can borrow Currency C, but it must be changed to Currency A to be converted to B or D, and you pay interest on borrowing it. Currency C’s interest rate is fixed, pegged at time of borrowing at CPI-1% to prevent usury. Currency C is Secured Debt- you need some collateral to get it- and is cosigned by the government, much like FDIC does with your bank account today, to prevent loss. HOWEVER, fractional reserve banking will no longer be allowed- a bank will NOT be able to lend out more money than it has on hand.

- Currency D is Debt Gambling. Currency D is the chips you get in exchange for currency A at the casino, or the stocks you get in exchange for currency A at the stock market, or the bonds you get for currency A at the bond market. Currency D is only used by gamblers. On the plus side, you might win big- but on the minus side, you might lose everything. The purpose of Currency D? To remove the effects of gambling from Currencies A and B. Currency A money paid for Currency D usually becomes some form of Currency A money exchanged for Currency C.

We already have Currency A, B, C, and D in our society- but by requiring all conversions to go through currency A, this gives us control over the Bubbles. Also, in the current form, we're kind of missing a real currency A- and as this article suggests the search for currency A quality investments was a big cause of the credit bubble.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Revolution

The American Revolution can be summed up in the argument of Patrick Henry on why Virginia should send troops to aid George Washington:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

A great slogan for a war of revolution- but not so great an axiom to build a culture on.  And yet, that's what we in America tried to do; we tried to build a culture off of this campaign slogan.  Oh, changes got made over the years- give me liberty became give me profit (for only the independently wealthy can truly have liberty- all else are slaves to the owners of their debt) and give me death became let no human life stand in my way (from abortion of babies so that their teen mothers will stay in school, to the incredible rape of Iraq for profit, to the terminally ill commiting suicide in Oregon so that the next generation won't be burdened with the high cost of the last 6 months of life).  But this slogan is the basis of American Culture- and the precursor to the Culture of Death.  

For what else is at the center of the culture of death, if not the willingness to put short term ideals and short term profit right smack up against Human Life?

So in belated response to Patrick Henry, yes, Human Life is so dear that it should not be sacrificed so lightly for the short term profit of Liberty.  Especially if it is not your own, but rather your neighbor's life that you are sacrificing.

That said, I'm not totally against war, nor would I have been against the Revolution.  I just think liberty alone, profit alone, is poor trade for human life.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Migraine day

The single most physical part of autism for me- migraines.  I wonder how much less my paycheck will be with 60 hours instead of 64?  

Thursday, December 4, 2008

If you are pro-life, feed the poor

Want to really make a difference now that it has become obvious that the Republican Party is anti-life?  

Feed the poor.  

The #1 cause of abortion in this country isn't teen pregnancy, it's teens that aren't allowed to raise their children due to economic injustice.

How the Culture of Death is causing the Second Great Depression

The last 50 years have seen a total reversal of popular values in the United States of America.  

We went from long term commitments to free love.

We went from long range investment to the three month business cycle.

We went from valuing the next generation, to valuing our own "quality of life".

We went from honoring the previous generation, to killing them off to save health care costs.

We went from marriage being about preservation of human life and continuation of the family, to marriage being about the merging of two economic households between people who "love" each other (and sometimes, not even people).

What links this all together?  The seven mortal sins, of course.  Somebody in the 1950s finally noticed that freedom includes the freedom to sin.   Actually, the Founding Fathers knew this danger well- they in fact designed a government specifically to encourage it!  That is why they were afraid of the "tyranny of the majority", because they knew that the majority of people were moral and prospered by avoiding such sins as greed, lust, pride, sloth, gluttony, wrath, and envy.

We've put material goods above human life.  Do you doubt me?  On Black Friday, this year, a relatively middle class neighborhood in New York trampled a man to death at Wal*Mart, all for a discount on material wealth.

The same thing is done with abortions of teen pregnancies- a human life is snuffed out so that the parents can escape the consequences of their actions and go on with schooling or avoid "sabotaging their career" by having children "too early".

The same thing is done in Oregon when a terminally ill patient, given less than six months to live, chooses to avoid the pain and expense to his family of continuing to live at all, and asks the doctor for poison.

The same thing is done in many states now when a "criminal" is sentenced to death, sometimes on the most circumstantial evidence, and quite often based on race, to "save" the money of keeping him in jail for life (nevermind that the current process of law requires MORE of an expenditure to kill a prisoner than to keep him in jail for life) where he *might* one day be proven innocent and go free.

The same thing is done when a leader of a country in the Middle East threatens to change to dealing in Euros for his oil (Iraq in 2001, Iran now) and we go to war over it costing many human lives.

The same thing is done when sales go down and a family man gets laid off, and his house is foreclosed on by the bank, throwing his family out into the streets to starve or die of exposure to the elements.

Are you getting the point yet?  A economy that serves only the short term, and does not make extraordinary exceptions for human life, is one based on the seven deadly sins.  And once a minority bases their behavior on those sins, capitalism and the free market begins to get screwed up.  Capital itself becomes centralized- in our case, most of the country lives to serve Wall Street, and has the majority of their true economic worth sucked off into usurious interest or "stockholder dividends".  Eventually, the con artists on Wall Street start coning each other- and the pyramid begins to fall.

Everything that happened leading up to it- the deregulation, the lobbyists passing laws favoring specific industries, the corruption of Washington, and the outright worship at the Altar of Mammon- can all be traced back to the seven deadly sins.

So what's the fix?  How about the Seven Holy Virtues?  Chastity, Abstinence, Generosity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility.  Start with your local neighborhood, and practice these- be thrifty (patient) and buy only when you have the money to do so, give to those who are hungry (Charity/Generosity), Abstain from sex instead of giving into lust, Do your Diligence both in where you invest and how as well as the job if you have one, be Kind to the homeless, and be humble when faced with the poor.  Reject materialism, and live in the Dignity of the Human Person.

Only that will build a Culture of Love instead of a Culture of Death.

The slippery slope

Heard about this at Knights of Columbus last night, and I had to check it out.  Apparently Conneticut is threatening Justices of the Peace who refuse to perform gay marriages with losing their license:

Klein said that justices of the peace perform duties on behalf of the state and cannot discriminate.

"It would be illegal for a justice of the peace to refuse to provide the same services to a same-sex couple," Klein said.
this is from a larger article on the Supreme Court decision.  The rumor is that a Justice of the Peace has already lost his license.  This is why the Supreme Council gave nearly $1 million to Prop 8 in California- the fear being that soon, Catholic priests won't be able to perform marriages at all (they can't in some parts of Canada now) because they refuse to perform gay marriages.

This is the slippery slope of the gay agenda.  Coming up soon, a discussion on the Culture of Death in all of it's forms, and what I think is *really* the link between gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, war, the death penalty, homelessness, the depression, and Wall Street.  Because they are all truly linked- and all about one single deadly sin.

Monday, December 1, 2008


And this, from an autistic, remember.

Large numbers of HFA people end up agnostic or atheistic, or at least secular humanist.  I can understand that- it fits the logical, direct evidence mindset, and so much of Christianity seems highly contradictory, especially if you can't understand body language or social hierarchies.

Having said that, my Catholicism gives me two things that I value extremely highly in my experience as an autistic:

  1. A place to go, once a week, that for an hour, I know *exactly* how to act.  The Catholic Mass is highly liturgical and scripted, and while it does evolve, evolves extremely slowly.  This helps me have at least one place I can have a social experience without being viewed as weird or strange; and the rules are printed in the missal for anybody to read.
  2. A highly evolved theology that is self consistent.  This is highly important to an autistic; it's something that is missing from the younger more independent sects.  Catholic (both Roman and Orthodox) churches have a long history, 2000 years and counting, and as such, have had a lot of work done on their theologies to at least make them internally consistent.
A good example of that last is the 20th century doctrine known as the Seamless Garment of Life, which so many Americans are confused by because it seems to cover both the far left and the far right of politics without touching the middle.  But it is internally consistent to itself- basically, it goes back to the rather primative notion that only God has the right to grant or take away human life, and that everything governments do should be in support of allowing God that right.  Thus war and the death penalty are forbidden, but so is artificial birth control, abortion and fertility treatments.  Also banned is economics that deny people their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, or that encourages hastening the death of the sick.  This seems extreme to the center of America, who are pro-choice, pro-war, and worship at the great altar of Wall Street, but they're confused because it covers so much on both sides of the spectrum.

My nephew

My nephew is also diagnosed Asperger's, but he's young enough that his parent's health care insurance is willing to do something about it.  He was tested and found that his body was sequesting mercury, one of several potential causes of Asperger's.  He's been on a GFCF diet for the last 3 years, and has been through Chelation therapy.

That is the background.  Over the weekend, I got a chance to observe, up close, his progress.  He's now into art, marine biology, and chess, pretty good for a 10-year-old.  He seems happier, and more willing to at least engage people one on one.  He's also getting better at faking body language.  

I think he's going to be much happier with his life- which makes me wonder what would have happened with my life had I been able to access this training and this diet when I was young (not that Asperger's was even considered as a diagnosis for me before 2000, and I would have needed the treatment in the 1970s to avoid warping my growing brain).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I've been saying all along about the economy

David Suzuki is a Canadian Naturalist famous for popular science style TV programs.  He's finally saying in this article something that I haven't heard many people say:

The economy is not a force of nature, some kind of immutable, infallible entity. We created it, and when cracks appear, it makes no sense to simply shovel on more money to keep it going. Because it’s a human invention, an economy is something we should be able to fix – but if we can’t, we should toss it out and replace it with something better.

He's saying, in this article, that we should slow growth down for environmental reasons.  Well, I've got a slightly better reason for him that includes the environment.

The purpose of the economy is to make sure every human being on this planet is guaranteed their first level Maslow needs, and with a lot of hard work and inborn talent, might achieve their higher level Maslow wants.

Any economy that fails to do that, including because of global climate change eliminating native villages in the Arctic and the South Pacific- needs to be scrapped and redesigned.  Anything less is failing to live up to the great ideals of the six largest and oldest religions on the planet.  So if you believe in God or Buddha or Confucious or even many gods, in fact, if you're anything other than a money worshiper whose biggest temple is Wall Street; then you can no longer support this failed economic system.

Why I'm against trade

I've lost track of who did this chart- but it completely explains the reason I'm anti-trade with cultures that I consider to be "inferior".

Why the US Economy is sunk

We have no real money.

This actually worked for the last 80 years:  Every dollar the FED creates, it loans.  It prints money, then loans it either to banks or the federal government.  This changes classical M1 into M3; money created by loans rather than physical money.

The reason we have deflation today is because as a culture, we're overleveraged- way too much M3, no M1, very little physical product to back up all of that M3.  All of the "stimulus" packages put forth so far have been funded with M3, not M1.  No wonder hyperinflation hasn't shown up and deflation is increasing rapidly; there's a major solvency problem, not just with the banks but with the FED itself as it is now overleveraged 100:1.

Here's my solution:  Kill the FED.  Let every governmental body print whatever dollars they need to survive.  End taxation entirely- your local neighborhood need a new park?  Just print the money to buy the land.  Decentralize money creation as long as all money creation is M1.  Then we'll have hyperinflation instead of deflation.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When autism proves it's own

The United States economy, basically, is sunk.  Done for.  Nothing left but death spasms.

Yet due to ideology about the free market and neoliberalism, Barak Obama is heading down the same road Clinton and W Bush did, making matters worse by throwing debt after bad money.

Now here's what autism has to do with it.  Because I'm mildly autistic, I don't have an emotional attachment to a given system.  I can see that the American people need protectionism, so I'm not afraid to call for tariffs in public.  I can see that we're in a trade war already, so I'm not afraid to say if other countries want a trade war, we should respond with a hot war.  What al Qaida and bin Laden and Saddam Hussien did to us is NOTHING in comparison to what China and India have done to millions of American workers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Appearances, Autism, and the Culture of Death

Ok, once again, Karen of Clear Blue Water wrote a few blogs this weekend on typepad that caused me to write this.

One of my major problems with being "A practical Catholic man" as my membership as a third degree Knight of Columbus puts it, is that as a person suffering from Asperger's I rarely notice, let alone judge people by, apperances.  If you don't tell me you're a sinner, you might even be sinning right in front of me and I simply won't notice.

This is especially true of the frivoulous way American culture has chosen to treat the Seamless Garment of Life.  You might be married to your same sex partner, you might be spending your weekends in the loving embrace of farm animals, I'm not going to notice.  You might be an old guy living in sin with your divorced neighbor and actually a part of my family, and I'm not going to say a word to you about it until you come right out and shove it in my face and ask my opinion (yes, this actually happened to me- at which point I had to get very autistic about my theological obsession and explain the differences between sin and sinner, between ideals and reality, to a man whose previous experience contained nothing more complex than the proper water-to-agregate ratio for concrete.  Not a fun experience).  

Yes, I'm like many "orthodox" Catholics, and I think that divorce is wrong in just about every instance- but that won't keep me from going out to coffee with a friend in the midst of an awfull divorce and offer my shoulder to cry on.  I can survive it because I *don't* have NT empathy, because it's just another story to me in a world that I'm not certain is real to begin with.  And because, I don't think individuals should be blamed for the mistakes of society at large- and certainly the frivoulous way we treat marriage in this society is a bad mistake. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pope Benedict predicted the 2008 crash in 1985

In this paper, written back in 1985 soon after he gained control of the CDD (the new version of the Inquisition) then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger predicted that neither capitalism nor communism adequately controls the ethical challenge of greed of the individual, and thus, both are doomed to have a "collapse" of rules.

To be exact:
These realms have come to appear mutually exclusive in the modern context of the separation of the subjective and objective realms. But the whole point is precisely that they should meet, preserving their own integrity and yet inseparable. It is becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the common good depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions. 9 Conversely, it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse. An economic policy that is ordered not only to the good of the group — indeed, not only to the common good of a determinate state — but to the common good of the family of man demands a maximum of ethical discipline and thus a maximum of religious strength. The political formation of a will that employs the inherent economic laws towards this goal appears, in spite of all humanitarian protestations, almost impossible today. It can only be realized if new ethical powers are completely set free. A morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such it is the antithesis of morality. A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore it is not scientific. Today we need a maximum of specialized economic understanding, but also a maximum of ethos so that specialized economic understanding may enter the service of the right goals. Only in this way will its knowledge be both politically practicable and socially tolerable.
In this we see one of the earliest examples of what would become Pope Benedict's war on irrational religion and irrational economics.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Want Pro-Life? Vote Constitution!

I allowed myself the luxury of being a single issue voter this year.

My reason was simple- I've become very cynical about the whole voting process, and Obama was sure to take my state anyway (by 15 polling points at the time I voted).  So I allowed myself to follow my faith, and vote Seamless Garment of Life.

This did NOT, surprising to some, lead me to vote Republican.

Republicans like to say that they're pro-life.  But 17 of the last 35 years they've had majorities on the Supreme Court, and have yet to even consider revoking Roe V. Wade

For 6 out of the past 8 years, they've held majorities in Congress, in State Legistatures, and in the Presidency, yet Ron Paul's Right to Life Amendment couldn't get out of committee.

Due to these two facts, I'm forced to assume that for Republicans at least, being pro-life is nothing more than campaign promises to be broken.

And thus, I did the logical thing, and voted for the only pro-life party left in the system.

The view from the inside of an autistic's head

This is inspired by Karen's article on Clear Blue Water, or more rather, by her response to me there.  However, it's entirely different in a way.  There exists a huge gap between autistics and the parents of autistics- between the alt.autism discussion on usenet and groups like Stop Autism Now!  I think I'm high enough functioning to explain some of that gap- and hopefully, in so doing, give parents some new tools to deal with their autistic children, and likewise give autistics a small view of how NT parents see things.

First of all, a bit of background- from my point of view (and I've seen this from several autistics out there, so I'm by no means alone in this) NTs have either a myth or a special power that us autistics simply don't.  That myth/special power goes by many names:  Empathy, Telepathy, "appropriate behavior", reading "body language" and "tone of voice".  It might exist, it might not.  I've never quite convinced myself that it exists.  But a HUGE portion of the behavior of lower functioning autistics that I've been in contact with is based on the assumption that it both exists & they don't have it.

Us autistics try to make up for it in different ways.  Myself, I listen closely, and try to limit my communications to text/telephone whenever possible- this seems to at least limit the effect based on it.  Lower functioning children I've seen try to replace this power with various senses- touch, taste, smell- without success of course, but at least they try.  My own theory on why autistic children seem to "regress" in verbal ability despite having, in writing, a large vocabulary is due to simply giving up and assuming that everybody else already knows what they know- so why bother expending energy in talking.

Karen mentioned the frustration apparent at "not being able to talk".  I'm going to suggest here a possible alternate explaination:  not realizing that communication hasn't happened, the child gets frustrated at your apparent refusal to understand.  Not inability to understand, but "refusal" to understand.  It doesn't matter one whit that the child's logic and "theory of mind" is wrong in blaming you, that is the facts from his point of view and that's where his anger is coming from.

One of the potential causes of autistic behavior, of course, is the inability of the brain to process all the information coming in from the five senses.  I know I myself get massive migraines from the mere attempt.  Here's what I suggest for an autism inspired tantrum based on miscommunication, and I know it's going to sound 19th century to some parents:  Create a room in your house specifically for your autistic child.  It doesn't have to have windows, it might be no bigger than a closet.  In fact, it might *be* a closet.  In this room, there should be a computer with network hookup, some form of white noise/music generator, fully adjustable lighting, and a comfy chair or bed.  Maybe a solartube with a shade.  A refuge from the world, so to speak.  When a tantrum happens at home- put the kid in the room and leave him alone for at least an hour.  When out and about, return home as soon as possible, and put the kid in the room.

Eventually, he'll come to his own terms with whatever caused the friction.  But to come to those terms, he needs time, and the ability to control the stimulation of his environment to the smallest degree.

And that's just a small view, from the inside of an autistic brain.  Give it what authority you will, I don't care and remember that I may indeed be sane, as defined by the first post in this blog.

Purpose and Hello

After many years of journal entries and posting in other people's blogs, including being an editor on Technocrat, a major contributer to Slashdot and Economic Populist, and Clear Blue Water, I've decided to create my own blog.  Here's why.

In recent days, I've had some thoughts that just don't fit anyplace else.  A serious discussion on Clear Blue Water about Autism, the loss of the auto industry bailout on Technocrat & EP, my recent trip to the coast and a discussion with my brother on the maintenance of electric boat engines vs gas, have all led me to create a new blog.  Posts will be within these limits, and don't expect any extra stuff put into this.

As to Outside the Asylum- that's the name of Wonko the Sane's house from Douglas Adams' So Long and Thanks For All the Fish.  That's my view of the world.  I realize, intellectually, that I have a mental disorder- Asperger's- but from my point of view, I am sane, it's the rest of the world that has gone completely nuts.  Wonko thus built his house inside out- tried to decorate the "inside" of the Asylum such that allows the poor insane world to heal a bit, and then never once again set foot past the doorway above which he put the instructions from a packet of toothpicks- the thing that proved to him that the rest of the world had gone insane.  

From time to time, I'll point my slashdot journal, EP, and Clear Blue Water posts here, but mainly to those articles that fit whatever it is I'm talking about in them.  I have no purpose to this blog other than to absorb the thoughts that I get obsessed by- so that I can get them out ans leave them to history, and get on with more important things.
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Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at