Thursday, December 5, 2013

Garamesh and the farmer.

Just a little drawing that appeared while I tried to calm my nerves during other business.  From "Three Suitors..." Which I published before thanksgiving (I think).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tyrant’s Gallow, an Aphorism

            Below is another extraction from my novel, in this case a legend about an anarchistic town and its origins. I’ve preserved all the original markings, dialogue, and description from the narrative. About 1,500 words.

Hunny’s manner had worked its friendly magic on the boy, and he eagerly answered their questions, feeling liberated to speak about the city he called home. They walked mostly uphill, and though the street itself was not terribly steep, the buildings around them rose up higher than in the square. Occasionally they passed a house that looked more like a keep: iron gates and stone walls; parapets rather than shake roofs. As they passed one particularly ominous and ancient complex, Horus spoke up.
“This one belongs to Seamus Delving, in case you ever wanted to have lunch with the terror of the south sea.” He glanced back at them, “He actually loves guests. He’s quite the character.” They passed by an iron gate, flecked with rust.  Behind it a rough-looking man leaned against the wall in the gateway eating an apple. His musket, bayoneted, primed and cocked, sat beside him. He did not look up as they passed. Past him could be seen a green lawn on either side of tile walkway which led up to the house proper, made of much the same dark stone as the encircling wall.
“The city is full of people like that, if you know where to look,” Horus went on. “Lots of sailors settle here because they can buy land and property that would be off-limits to anyone but the gentry or nobility somewhere else.”
“Was the city always lawless?” Hunny asked as they turned up another, slightly narrower avenue.
“We’re not lawless, madam. We are kingless, but not lawless.”
“Who writes the laws?” Hunny said.
“God,” Munin cut in. “Or no one.”
Horus smiled and turned back to Munin. “Which god, eh?”
“Depends on the company,” Munin said.
“Nobody here care’s about heretics, sir,” Horus said. “If you’re worried about that sort of thing. Hell, the prison’s more popular than the chapel.”
“The Dreamer, then,” Munin said.
“Prometheus,” Horus said with a smile, drawing out the word. “The dragon god. It’s a good town for that, sir. A very good town indeed. I believe you will get along with the mistress quite well.”
“Neither of you have yet to answer my question,” Hunny said.
Rone smiled. “You don’t need kings to write laws, love. There are no kings in the mountains either; at least, we recognize no kingship. We have laws. They don’t have to be written in stone by a divine ruler to be real. You don’t need sheriffs and judges to execute them. When people have a need for a law, it will come to exist, and nobody will question when its justice manifests itself. The law of kings is made out of the gentry’s displeasure with the law that is.”
“Well, what law said poor Minneo could be killed because of a debt? Why doesn’t anyone stop it?” Hunny asked irritably.
“He himself wrote that law,” Horus replied, “Begging your pardon, madam. He signed a contract to that effect. He agreed to a law that would bind himself and Madam Porthagan. He chose his law, and the people here respect that. Now as to whether we’ve ever had a king; as far as records can go, there’s never been one, though the city was occupied a few times in the last thousand years or so. There is a legend, if you like to hear it.”
“Of course,” Hunny said.
“Well the story that gets told around here says that many, many years ago there was a king in Tyrant’s Gallow, only it wasn’t called Tyrant’s Gallow back then, it was called Convection, though not on account of the warm currents that keep the island’s weather pleasant up in this latitude, but because the King’s family name was Convect. Anyway, this king supposedly lived in a gold palace. He was also known to consort with wizards, and the island became a gathering place of sorts for them because of his tolerance and the distance from the mainland.”
“And now it’s a gathering place for pirates,” Hunny cut in with a chuckle.
“Begging your pardon, but we don’t tolerate pirates.  Privateers, freebooters- they’re a different sort.  Madam Porthagan has put out quite a few bounties for those foolish enough to prey on her ships, and it’s called the Gallow for more reasons than the tyrant.”
“Which you were getting to, I assume,” Hunny said.
Horus nodded. “Eventually the Church of the Twelve heard about the lavish King Convect and his cabal of dark wizards, and raised an army to put a stop to it. Some tales also say the whole affair was actually the construct of his older half-brother, who could not take the throne because he was a bastard and was forced to join the clergy and live a life of poverty.”
“Poverty?  Hardly.” Munin laughed.  “When was the last time you stepped into a church?”
“Never have, actually,” Horus replied. They turned another corner and saw the great and famous Gallow Bluffs, mottled white and grey, looming before them.  “The church has no real army, you know, so what really happened was an invasion by a few of the petty kingdoms of the lowlands, all gone by now of course, at the behest of the church, and blamed upon the will of the Twelve.  The force was overwhelming, but they were repelled from the harbor by the power of the wizards and the many inventions they had come to develop over long years of tolerance. For ten days they fought, and many of the invading force’s ships were burned.  The quest was on the verge of abandonment by the parties involved, who each held a distrust of the other.
“One night, the king’s brother took a single boat and rowed up to a beach outside the city.  He was arrested by the king’s guards, but was taken to see his brother once his true identity was learned. Everyone thought he had arrived to give the king strategic information. He feigned to give him the information he sought, but at the same time secretly poisoned his wine. The king was found dead the next day.”
“So, would the brother have become king?” Hunny asked.
“Yes, that’s exactly what happened. The king’s advisor notified him that, as the last surviving member of the Convect family, the crown had fallen to him, bastard or no. The advisor gave him the king’s crown and clothed him in lavish clothes. The new king was prepared to end hostilities with the crippled fleet, but before he could even leave the palace the admirals and a high priest walked in the front doors.  They had found the streets empty and the canons unmanned.  No guards were posted outside the palace gate. The brother, who now resembled the old king in such a way as to fool his former allies, was put in chains and dragged outside the palace. 
“They hanged him there for high apostasy in front of the mixed armies of the petty lords in an otherwise deserted street. The palace was searched, and a writ of succession was found, naming ‘Fontaine’ to be the next legal heir to the king. The high priest declared it legal and stamped it. Soon it was discovered, by virtue of a lone soldier that had traveled here before, that ‘Fontaine’ was merely the high mountain on the island. Needless to say, that man earned a poor fate for his honesty. Frustrated by the will, and unable to come to a consensus on who should rule the island, the petty princes began to argue with one another. Violence broke out and many of the armed men who came ashore were killed. The last prince, victorious and standing in the town square on a hill of dead men, declared himself king.
“At that time, the king’s advisor approached. The petty prince soon found himself surrounded by the city’s wizards, who stood on balconies and atop buildings surrounding the square, armed with strange guns and other heretical devices. They destroyed his remaining force with their forbidden technology, ending the lives of the invading soldiers in seconds. The advisor then declared the prince a criminal, and the wizards hanged him beside the new king. The advisor sent a courier to the Arch Priest in Chalandier with the stamped writ, and the island officially became ruled by the mountain.  In essence, free.”
“What happened to the king’s advisor?” Hunny asked.
“He was a wise wizard and had the golden palace rebuilt into the golden courthouse, of which he became the first chairman. The gold from the bricks and decor of the king was melted down and used as the monetary base for a new bank in the same place. It’s all legend though- even the Golden Courthouse’s records have gaps and limitations. Ah, we’re almost here.” 

Thanks for Reading!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Infrequent Updates

Due to my schedule, and all the things in my personal life restricting my creative goals, it is unlikely I will be able to continue putting out content for this particular site on a regular basis, at least for the next 2-3 weeks. Thanks to everyone who has read my stuff and talked to me, commented, etc. so far. Of course, depending on the amount of downtime I have in the immediate future, I could be putting out loads of content, I'm just not expecting to have any. If I can find a way, I'll be putting up stuff from my back catalog.  Until then, enjoy a few videos that I think are inspirational, and worth watching:

Steve Vai talking about the keys to success:

Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about success:



Monday, November 11, 2013

Who should control the content of school curriculum?

I've been having to narrow my focus a bit lately due to a severely impacted schedule. Working full time, writing full time, and going to school full time is not as easy as it sounds. I also have a big trial coming up, and I'm not expecting that to loosen up my schedule either. I've been working on a very large narrative, some 230,000 words and growing, and I decided I would really like to finish it this year. That has meant putting other things, including this blog, on the back burner. Nevertheless, I will attempt to keep updates coming, though they will likely be taken from my other foci. The Microscope will be finished, but I won't be able to pick it back up until I have a real abundance of time again (perhaps Christmas break?). For today, I thought I'd post an adaptation of a short little ditty I did for a class discussion board, for a great political topic:

Who should control the content of school curriculum?

            The question of who should control the content of school curriculum is, according to my understanding of education, very deep and not answerable in a direct fashion. Education, like any other service in the economy, is a product (a joint product to be sure, but a product nonetheless). If we replace “content of school curriculum” with another product, say an “the features of an automobile,” the depth of the question becomes a bit more exposed. Additionally, we have the qualification of “who should,” begging a case for justification beyond “who does.”
            Let’s look at the automobile example. Who does control the features of the automobile? The engineers who design it? The executives who give those engineers a mandate for design based on their marker research? Or is it the consumer who votes with their dollar on what features they want and at what price? The answer, is all of these, but in the relationship between the three it is the consumer who has the most power, because without his money neither the company manager nor the engineer can get paid.
Imagine that the same arrangement were like schools. The money would be taken forcefully from the consumer, the executive would compose a list of demands for what he thinks the consumer ought to want, and the engineer would attempt to meet these demands within the confines of a set amount of excised money. At the end of it, the consumer would be handed the automobile everyone else thinks he ought to have, and if he dislikes it, his only option would be to purchase a different one at additional expense, keeping in mind he has already paid for the first car, and also lose access to the one into which he has paid. If he lacks funds to do so, he cannot buy another car. Moreover, he is required by law to not only pay for the car, but to drive it for 13 years.
Democracy is little help in this situation. If you are truly dissatisfied, the consumer can rally support from others like him, and after four years hire a new executive with new promises to change the automobile. He may get more of what he wants, but what about the minority who loses the election and gets even less of what they want? Ultimately, this is why products in a free market serve everyone without the need for political intervention. Everyone gets what car they want, or what education they want for their children.
So, who should control the school curriculum? Ultimately, families should, who are in both the best position to determine the needs of their children and the best position to communicate those needs to administrators (the executives in the above example) and the teachers (the engineers). They may do this the way consumers control all other products: choice. Now, this is an opinion; if you do not believe in freedom, and think either the executives or the engineers should design the product the consumer ought to want, then the consumers should remain disinvested of power, but I believe in freedom. Freedom in choice produces a diversity of products, and I think diversity in education is precisely what is needed, for indeed we have a very diverse country.
This opinion was influenced by the great Milton Friedman, a nobel-prize winning economist (and also a teacher), who proposed a model of school choice back in the 1962 work Capitalism and Freedom. I’d like to post a link to his 1980 PBS series, based on a book he wrote with his wife Rose called Free to Choose. This episode deals with education choice. It’s worth a watch even if you don’t believe in school choice, as it offers up debate in the second half of the program.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Stu's Bro has an Amazing Idea


STU (30), an attractive man with short hair and a beard, sits at his computer, looking from monitor to monitor. He looks tired and drinks a diet Rockstar in between spurts of frantic typing. Empty cans litter the floor and free spaces on the desk. His phone rings. He smiles as he sees who it is.

         Sup bro?! Haven’t heard from you in 


STU’S BRO (27), a slightly overweight young man wearing a sports jersey and a backwards hat, sits at a filthy computer playing World of Warcraft. Empty pizza boxes and cigarette butts litter every surface of the dark and dingy bedroom. 

                     STU’S BRO
         Yeah life is busy. You know how it is.

         Yeah? What have you been up to?

                     STU’S BRO
         Same ‘ol same ‘ol... work and Warcraft. 
         Dude! I’m totally gonna get glad this 

         That’s cool, I haven’t been that into 
         PVP since TBC.

                     STU’S BRO
         Yeah, dude, did you transfer off the 
         server? I totally never see you on 

         Um... no, but I haven’t had an active 
         WoW account in like a year and a half.

                     STU’S BRO
         Oh. Totally thought I saw your priest 
         on the other week. What have you been 

         Working. Working really hard. Me and 
         Aenon wrote some screenplays, I’m 
         working on a bunch of other stuff 
         too. A novel... haven’t had crap for 
         time to play WoW.

                     STU’S BRO
         It’s all good. Pandas are gay as hell 

         Are they? How do they reproduce?

                     STU’S BRO
         That’s a good one, dude. Anyway, so 
         you’ve been writing? Cool. When are 
         the movies coming out?

Stu’s Bro gets up and walks to his kitchen. While talking on the phone he rummages through the fridge for food.

         The industry doesn’t really work that 
         way. First you have to--

                     STU’S BRO
         You making good money though, right?

         Not really. See, it’s a long process--

                     STU’S BRO
         So why do it? 

Stu looks confused.

Stu’s Bro picks up a jug of milk and opens the top. He smells it, makes a face indicating that the milk is clearly sour, then puts it back in the fridge.

                     STU’S BRO (CONT’D)
         So, I have this great idea for a 
         Um, okay.

                     STU’S BRO
         It’s science fiction. Does that sell?

         Yeah, scifi is big.

                     STU’S BRO
         Cool. So, I’ll basically set it up 
         really simple. There’s these aliens, 
         right? And we’re like invading their 
         world, like its humans that are the 
         invading evil aliens, bro.

         So Starship Troopers.

Stu’s Bro finds an old pizza box with a single slice left in it. He puts it on the counter, and while talking, approaches the trash can.

                     STU’S BRO
         No! Check it. There’s this one dude 
         that doesn’t buy the official story. 
         He makes contact with the aliens and 
         finds out they’re actually totally 
         cool, like primitive, but totally 
         cool. They’re like, in touch with 
         nature, like humans used to be.

The trash can is full. He places the pizza box in a pile of rubbish next to the bin.

         So, they’re like Native Americans?

Stu’s bro picks up the pizza slice and begins eating it.

                     STU’S BRO
                (with his mouth full)
         Yeah, totally.

         They already made that movie. It’s 
         called Avatar.

                     STU’S BRO
         No! This is different.

         Nobody is going to remake Avatar.

                     STU’S BRO
         Okay, then get rid of the Aliens. 
         Just make it Indians or something.

         That movie’s called Dances with 

                     STU’S BRO
         Never heard of it.

Stu looks shocked.

         Well, good luck with that. Let me 
         know how it goes, I’d be happy to 
         read your first draft for you.

                     STU’S BRO
         No, I was thinking I just give you 
         all the details, and you write the 
         screenplay, then we split the 

         I don’t think so.

                     STU’S BRO
         Why not?

         Hmn. Do you have any idea how much 
         work it takes to actually write a 

                     STU’S BRO
         Dude, I’ve seen screenplays. 90% of 
         the page is blank space. Ea-sy. It’s 
         the idea that’s valuable!

         Not really. I already have a queue of 
         like eight story ideas of my own that 
         I still haven’t gotten to, and none 
         of them are remakes of overrated 
         movies featuring Smurfs.

                     STU’S BRO
         Yeah, but none of them are million 
         dollar ideas, either!

         Alright, fine. Why don’t you write up 
         the details in a treatment and e-mail 
         it to me?

                     STU’S BRO
         Bro, if I could write, why would I 
         need you? Sorry man, I think my queue 
         just popped. Gotta go!

Stu’s Bro hangs up the phone. Stu facepalms.


Monday, October 28, 2013

A Gross Oversimplification of Monetary Theory Through Hypothetical Monetary Systems

Monetary theory: everyone’s favorite dinner topic? Probably not. Monetary theory can seem complicated to a non-economist, and even when it is understood by parties over dinner, it is likely to fall into the two most forbidden categories of conversation: religion and politics. I realize writing this that I am probably a terrible dinner party guest, an incorrigible lunch time acquaintance, and a downright nuisance at family functions, because religion and politics is the only thing I really prefer to talk about. Well, from my perspective it’s philosophy and truth, and I consider politics merely the game of sociopaths and the morally contemptible, but we have not the time for such digressions; it’s time to jump into some monetary theory.
The truth is most people would benefit greatly from a deeper understanding of what money is, how it works, who controls it, and what outcomes monetary policy has on their daily lives. They might be more willing to change the way they spend and invest, how they feel about political spending, or more willing to see politicians as the slimy, corrupt, evil psychopathic busybodies most of them are. I’m going to do my best to shy away from often-used and more often misunderstood concepts like “inflation,” “deflation,” and “gold standard.” and instead talk about the kind of things that happen, or may happen, under different sorts of money systems.

What is money?

Above is a very straightforward video explaining what money is, and also giving a few criticism of the current American model. I’ll use a much simpler definition to speed things along, but if you have the time, it’s worth the watch, as well as Shane’s Bogosity series.
Money, quite simply, is anything that is used as an intermediary of exchange instead of direct barter. It is the middleman between production of one good or service, and consumption of another. It allows finer and more graduated division of labor, which increases efficiency across an entire economy. Without money, you would have to trade your services directly for other services, limiting your ability to provide services only to those who had a service you desired, and vice versa. If you were a basket maker, you could only get your plumbing fixed by a plumber who wanted baskets, or you would have to invest time and energy learning the skill yourself. With a system of currency, you can sell your baskets to whoever wants them in exchange for money, then use that money on whatever you need, either that day or later on.
This allows a lot more division of labor, especially as markets become broader. You can specialize in something very niche, like writing gay erotica or making pants out of hemp, and not worry about whether or not the owner of the corner store wants to trade you milk and bread for your novels or pants.
Contrary to common belief, money is not the root of all evil. It’s just a medium of exchange. It could be anything, as long as it is commonly accepted in trade, though different things can make better or worse money. Currency can be a commodity with its own value alternative value (like gold), a series of hashes, like a bitcoin, or be printed on paper. It’s nothing magical, and it’s nothing desirable for itself. It’s not wealth; wealth is things, not money. Money is only useful in helping you turn your specialized production into the many diverse goods and services (wealth) that you need and use.

So now, let’s take some time and run through a few different types of monetary systems, and see what we can expect from an economy using them. In the examples that follow we will take a few things for granted:

Divisibility- How divisible the money is, meaning how finely we can chop up the individual units and still find the medium useful, is important when currency becomes very valuable. With certain modern commodities, such as gold, lack of divisibility can make the currency unusable by those who are conducting transactions below the divisibility threshold (the point at which the currency can no long be divided). We will assume either infinite or near infinite divisibility of the money.

Counterfeiting- We will assume that counterfeiting is not present in sufficient enough quantity to make an impact.

Banking systems- We will assume a free banking system, capable of making high-risk and low-risk loans, using either full or partial reserve according to market demands.

Condition 1: Static Money Supply

In a static money supply, the total quantity of money, whether divisible or not, is fixed. This means that no new money can enter the marketplace, and zero growth of the money supply occurs relative to all other factors. With this condition, we can expect the following things:

Money increases in value relative to goods and services- this is because the amount of “stuff” available grows over time, the amount of producers providing services grows over time (typically), and the demand for goods and services typically increases over time. There is less money per person, or per unit of demand, and so money is more valuable relative to everything else.

Prices generally fall- The inverse to the above, the prices of goods and services fall over time due to increased and additive production of goods (the quantity of cars or working TVs, for example), as well as because economies over time become more efficient at producing goods and services. Capital improvements such as mechanization cause the production per capita to increase and thus further drive down prices.

Interest rates vary- Interest rates are variable between a negative amount (for full reserve banking, which is viable in a static currency situation) and a high amount depending on risk. Since money increases in value over time, it may be worth it to a person to pay a bank to keep their money secure (a negative interest rate) in a full reserve bank, secure that its buying power will be stable even if they end with less money than they put in.  They may accept very low interest rates for partial reserve systems, or take risks for higher interest rates in capital investments and bank-proctored loans.

Banking- Banks generally serve consumer demands, since people can avoid the banking system entirely with no loss of value in their money.

Is this kind of money possible?- Yes. It could technically be possible in a fiat system, though highly unlikely given political machinations, and is the end state of bitcoin’s (a type of electronic crypto-currency) “soft cap.”

Condition 2: Precious Metal Money.

There are several advantages to the use of precious metals such as gold and silver as money. First, the money has value besides being currency, meaning its value is more secure than fiat currency. If the value of the money as currency falls below its industrial usefulness, the money will be melted down and used, thus stopping the devaluation. Second, the cost of extracting the metal from the earth will keep a check on the amount of money introduced into the economy. If it costs more to mine gold than what you can get out of it in the market, it won’t be mined. With this condition, we can expect the following things:

The value of money fluctuates, but is stable over the long term- Due to the supply checks listed above, the value of money relative to other things will rise and fall according to the supply, but in the long term, say over several years, the value of money will be consistent and stable, if not increasing slightly over time.

Prices fluctuate, but remain stable over the long term- The inverse of the above, prices will generally stay stable. Producers of currency (miners, in this case), are motivated to create more money when there is high demand for it from growing consumer bases, or the price of goods falls due to efficiency, giving the money new buying power.

Interest rates- Interest rates are generally low to high; generally higher than a static system. There may be some full reserve systems due to the easy theft of money metal, but because prices are stable, consumers may be just as inclined to put their money into high-reserve or low risk investments over the short term. Investments require even payout or slightly more to be worthwhile, causing interest rates to be slightly higher than in the static system, but still variable according to risk.

Banking- Banking is a more attractive option under a metal standard, partially because of security concerns, but mainly for the divisibility factor. Since physical gold cannot be divided enough to be used on small-cost goods such as food or drink (think about trying to buy a soda with 1/1000 of an ounce of gold), a mixed system would likely emerge, consisting of some physical gold with a majority of currency being issued as bank-backed notes. The banking system would, therefore, be more present than in a static system.

Is this kind of money possible? Yes. This was the preferred standard for economic trade for thousands of years. Unfortunately, once the government took over the money trade during the 20th century, making it illegal for banks to print gold notes, the system’s demise through mismanagement was inevitable.

Condition 3: Monetarist System.

In this proposed system advocated by the great economist Milton Friedman as an alternative to the actions of the Federal Reserve, the growth of money would be regulated centrally, and be at a predictable rate each year, say 3%. This system presupposes either a fiat currency, or total control over a commodity system. The point is to produce a high degree of market confidence in the predictability of the money supply, solving the fluctuation problems associated with a metal standard, and having the additional advantage of providing alternate utility to the economy the resources that would be invested in digging metal out of the earth. Under this condition we can expect the following things:

The value of money is highly stable relative to other things- ideally the rate of growth would be pegged in such a way to the money supply at an equilibrium with growing demand, thus making the value of money stable even over long periods. However, even if the rate is off, and the value of money increases or decreases, it will be by a fixed, predictable amount.

Prices remain very stable over the short and long term- Since the money supply is growing, and not fluctuating, it will off-set the lowering of prices due to increased efficiency and supply, making items like candy bars cost the same years apart. Some argue this has “consumer confidence” benefits, allowing people to predict revenue streams better.

Interest rates are moderate to high- Because the money supply grows over time, and the price of goods remains stable, investors must receive a better than even return on their money. Usually, the lowest interest rates, for the safest investments, will be slightly more than the pegged rate of monetary growth.

Banking- Banking will seem very attractive to savers and investors under the monetarist system. Since the value of money stays the same or goes down over time, full reserve systems will be rare or non-existent. Partial reserve systems with a high reserve rate will seem most attractive for short-term savings. Savers are motivated to “put their money to work” with investments to maintain or grow its value over time.

Is this type of system possible? Yes, although it is unlikely given that it necessitates a central authority to plan monetary growth and central authorities generally have a terrible track record when it comes to being trusted not to print money. Depending on who you talk to, monetarism was tried under the Reagan administration, but this mostly false. Interest rates were raised and the inflation of the 70s stopped, but a full monetarist system has never been implemented, nor is it likely to be.

Condition 4: Fiat Money

Fiat money is money, usually printed upon paper or made of cheap metal coins, that is declared to have value by a central authority. The current US dollar, and most other world currencies, fit into this category. The usability of Fiat currency can only be maintained by force. The central authority makes it illegal to use competing currencies, and declares that anyone doing a business transaction must accept their fiat money in lieu of other things. If you look at a US dollar, it will say, “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” Fiat money is generally the least appealing to the average consumer, but is the world standard because it is the most attractive to those in power. There is no need to mine gold, or have legitimate rates of taxation when you can print up the money you need and force the population to give you goods and services for it. The government also has an advantage in not suffering the effects of inflation; since they are the first ones to spend the money, it has the value of the money before the new currency enters circulation. Even a totally devalued fiat currency is still attractive to use by the population, since people must accept cheap money instead of dear money. The US uses a special variation of fiat currency that we will get into next. Here is what you can expect from Fiat Money:

Decreasing value of money- Because more money exists every year (in the vast majority of fiat systems), the value of that money decreases relative to other things. This can be by a little or a lot, depending on how much money the government is printing to finance things.

Increasing prices- The inverse of the above, prices generally increase, even as the economy gets more efficient over time. This can upset or confuse consumers, who cannot reasonably plan for future expenses, or who think revenue streams will always increase when they actually may be losing money to inflation.

High interest rates- Because inflation is high, bonds, loans, and other investments must promise high rates of return to make up for value lost to inflation. High risk endeavors become more promising as a means of recovering lost value.

Banking- Full reserve banking will be non-existent, since all savers will require a rate of return on their money just to match inflation. Partial reserve systems will tend toward more risk and lower reserve rates in order to meet the demands of savers for their returns. Bank failures can happens swiftly and catastrophically as small reserves can be quickly depleted by a sudden need for liquidity.

Is this kind of money possible? Possible, yes. Sustainable, no. Eventually the money printing process will so deface the value of the currency that it must be revalued, or new currency introduced that is more valuable, and begin the cycle again. This is the current world standard due to the huge advantages it gives governments in the political process, but can only be maintained using violence.

Condition 5: Debt Money

This is the monetary system that is currently in use by the United States, and offers some significant value to the government over other types of fiat. Under most fiat systems, the government prints new money, then spends it on goods and services, increasing the money supply (I’ll leave dismantling the Keynesian argument of the benefits of this for another article). Under the debt system, all new money enters the economy as loans from the central bank (the Federal Reserve in the United States), which is owned by the government and has the power to print money. The government gets a great deal of its money, the money it would like to spend but taxpayers are unwilling to pay for directly, by issuing bonds. The vast majority of these are purchased by the central bank using newly created money. Money has been moved from one hand to the other, obscuring the inflation spending the government relies on to maintain its size. In this way, it is little different from a standard fiat system. The extra advantage (from the government’s perspective) comes from the fact that the central bank can also make artificially cheap loans to the banks and private parts of the economy. These entities also benefit from the lack of inflation that comes with being a first spender, and entices them to support the continuance of the debt system. Many of these loans actually have a negative real interest rate, meaning the value of money has gone down enough by the time they pay it back that they have made money just by taking out the loan. Eventually, the system can be expanded to include voters, who receive cheap home and auto debt, among other things. Here is what to expect, and some of the current conditions of the US economy:

Decreasing value of money- The value of money continues to go down as more debt is issued, but the value decreases fastest for the consumer, and the slowest for the government and banks, which are the first spenders of the new money.

Increasing prices- Prices generally increase, sometimes enough to entice consumers to purchase things with debt in anticipation of increased value. This was especially true of the housing boom of the 2000s. Prices increase slowest for the government and the banks, since they are first spenders.

Low interest rates- This is very beneficial for banks, who can acquire loans from the central bank for a very low price and invest the money accordingly. It is good for the government, since it has to spend little of tax revenue and new debt to service the interest on old debt. It may be good for people who acquire a home through debt, since debt will make a smaller amount of the cost of the home than it otherwise would if inflation were taken into account. It is, however, very bad for those who wish to save and invest. Since banks can acquire funds from the central bank very cheaply (often at far below inflationary rates), they have little incentive to offer savers the high interest rates that are necessary for them to maintain the value of their money. At the same time, more people are forced into banking to minimize their loss due to inflation, even willing to put up with rates far below inflation. Risky investments are very attractive as a means of maintaining the value of money.

Banking- Full reserve banking is non-existent. Partial reserve banking is the norm, with less and less held by the bank in reserve, since the money necessary to pay depositors can be acquired cheaply from the Federal Reserve. Almost all individuals must use banking systems or lose even more value on their money.

Is this kind of money possible? Yes, and the United States has been using it for decades. Lots of people get concerned about the national debt, but the number really just represents the amount of money that has been printed to finance the government. This amount of money will never be repaid. This, of course, amounts to a tax, since subjects lose the value of money they already have. The sustainability of the system is uncertain at best, but at some point the value of the currency will become so defaced that it will have to be re-valued to some degree.


There you have it! Over three thousand words of monetary theory, as clear as I can explain it. What system do I recommend? Free currency, of course! This allows the collective marketplace to make all relevant decisions at the point of sale. Metal, bitcoin, or other currencies all have their relative advantages, and the marketplace can decide how to use them. Bitcoin is cheap and transportable for online transactions, gold and gold certificate for in-person transactions. If one type of currency becomes unfavorable, there are many competitors to step in and be used instead, leading to true monetary stability, and above all, economic freedom.

Thank you so much for reading!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Getting Over a Bad Break-up

This article was written with a friend in mind. Hopefully anyone else may find it helpful.

            Most of us have gone through a painful separation from someone with which we once shared a loving relationship. Few of us have married and lived happily ever after with our first love, or first significant other, or even our first marriage, which means heartbreak is a very common experience. Relationships deteriorate and fail for reasons as multiplicitous as the relationships themselves. I’m focusing here on what to do after the end has come and how to successfully move past the pain of the separation and achieve emotional peace and growth in the wake of a relationship failure. I’m not a psychologist or therapist; I’m just a man that has, like many others, suffered the arrows of love and pain of loss.

1. Accept Responsibility for the Outcome.

            This is the most emotionally difficult thing to ask someone to do after a break-up, but is foundational to all the other steps that must take place in order to grow and find peace with the conclusion of things. Accepting responsibility means owning your actions- good or bad- and is important to all aspects of life, but seem especially difficult at the end of a relationship, especially if things ended as a result of betrayal or some other immutable flaw in the other partner. We don’t wish to accept that our actions helped bring about the conclusion of things, because that is to admit fault, to be the guilty party, and to be humbled when we are in a state of feeling destroyed. This, however, is the most important step for growth after the end of the relationship, and is an opportunity you should not pass up, since it is rare that we are permitted to grow in life for ourselves and not for the benefit of the other person in our central relationship.
            You must own the way you operated with the other person. Perhaps your expectations were too high for them, or you were unable or unwilling to live up to theirs. Maybe you were over-concerned with your own life and not your partner's. You could have failed to communicate your needs properly, or failed to understand fully the other person’s needs and wants. You could have let the relationship go on longer than was healthy, long after the cracks of deep incompatibility appeared, and that is part of your responsibility, too.
            Whatever the day-to-day operation of that relationship was, take some time to reflect on it, and understand what you did to help move things to their conclusion. If you are on speaking terms with your ex, ask them questions about what made them unhappy. If you’re not, do some soul searching. Even if you feel like you did everything right, were a perfectly decent human being, and treated the other person like a king or queen, you still may have failed on some level.
If your partner totally and completely rejected, betrayed, or abandoned you, despite all of your actions being moral, you should still take responsibility for your choice of partners. If you chose a sociopath, or someone with borderline personality disorder, that was your choice, not anyone else’s, and at the least you should take responsibility for a bad choice of personality.
            Lastly, taking responsibility is important to give yourself a sense of agency- the feeling that your actions matter- even if they have had poor outcomes, which will be an invaluable feeling for all aspects of your life.

2. Seek to Know Why.

            Socrates’s first command was to “know thyself,” and the next step is to do just that. Everything we do and every choice we make is made to serve some need we have, either conscious or unconscious. If you do not like the outcomes of your decisions, understanding the deep emotional reasons behind them will help you be more self-aware and lead to healthier decisions in the future.
Look to understand why you operated in the way you did within the relationship, why you made the choices you did during your time with the other person, or why you were attracted to someone who was incompatible with you. Often the answers to these questions are buried deep down, and take a great deal of time or effort to fully uncover, and if you choose to seek therapy, a great deal of your time may be spent uncovering the “why.” Sometimes people make bad choices in a relationship, such as cheating, manipulation, or dishonest behavior, but don’t seek to understand the “why” within them, or why they chose to be with someone who makes those kinds of poor decisions. Sometimes people are rejected, and they may need to ask why they allowed the relationship to get bad enough that the other person had to reject them. Often the failures we allow in our relationships serve some psychic need within ourselves.
If you spend a lot of time with yourself discovering the answers to why you act a certain way, you will have at least a good chance of avoiding making the poor choices you made in the past and therefore achieving different, if not better, outcomes in your future relationships.

2. Forgive Yourself.
            Once you have an understanding of why, along with ownership of your actions, you can forgive yourself. Just like going to confession, self-forgiveness requires the admission of guilt- the ownership of outcomes. Understanding why you act the way you do will help you to move past the guilt into a state of growth.
            Tell yourself that it’s okay that things turned out badly, that they couldn’t turn out any other way, because both you and the other person needed the relationship to end for growth. If you picked a bad partner, forgive yourself of that choice, knowing that you had to learn the lesson about having high standards in a relationship. If you were rejected, forgive yourself the things that might have lead up to that rejection. You can change your patterns in the future, and you can also make sure your next partner is more willing to accept your preferred modes of operation; accept you for you.
            Most often in life, we learn lessons the hard way, through trial and error, pain and separation. Forgive yourself for making mistakes in behavior and choice, and be happy for the lesson which allows you to grow.

3. Forgive the Other Person.

            After betrayal or rejection this step is most difficult, as we often have a psychic need to externalize conflict, to make the locus of responsibility rest in the other person. If you have owned your actions in the relationship, you will be able to correctly assign other responsibilities in the other member of your partnership. They may have made much worse decisions than you in the relationship, or failed in more ways, or more profound ways. As you reflect, you can also begin to understand the “why” in all the other person’s actions, good or bad.
            From there, you can begin to finally forgive the other person, for ending the relationship, breaking trust, treating you poorly, manipulating you, or choosing a person that was deeply incompatible with them. They too make decisions intended to serve some need, and they may not be aware of it. Moreover, you should forgive them for their faults because you know how bad continuing the relationship might have been for both of you, and that through their faults you have learned lessons about dealing with other imperfect people in imperfect relationships.

4. Allow Yourself to Grieve

            The end of a relationship is a lot like a death. You are losing a person, either someone you loved or still love, who has had a deeply intimate knowledge of you, and that is painful. I need not go through the seven stages of grief here, but will say that you should allow yourself to feel them. It’s alright to feel sad, angry, or desperate. You don’t need to put those emotions to the side or “just get over it.” If you don’t take the time to resolve your feelings now, they will return to haunt you.
            We grieve not just the loss of the other person, but all that the relationship represented to us: the promise of family, future plans and happiness, companionship, stability, and intimacy. A relationship takes a large emotional investment and its termination represents a total loss of that investment. It’s okay to feel like you’ve lost something, because you have. Ultimately nothing but time, work and growth will help you resolve your feelings of loss, so don’t expect to ever find a magic bullet to end your pain. Drugs, even those prescribed by a psychiatrist, will not help you resolve your pain, only time and effort will.

5. Let Your Rational Mind Take Over.

            Most of the fallout from the end of a relationship is emotional, but there might be plenty of practical considerations to take into account. Finances, living arrangements, and property division are all parts of many break-ups, particularly divorce. It’s important to be able to settle your emotions quickly, or learn to put them to the side temporarily. When you need to make practical decisions about your life’s directions, your reasoning skills are vital.
            Beyond that, is important to let your rational mind take over to avoid making the same emotional mistakes twice, or to become emotionally vulnerable too quickly after ending the relationship. Make a list of the changes you want to make in your life, preferably based on personal outcomes and real arrangements rather than intangible ideas such as “be happy.” Decide on your personal and career goals. Decide how you want to organize your time and personal life in the absence of the relationship. Now might be a good time to make the big change you always wanted to, but be careful not to make big changes because you are trying to escape the limitations of your current reality. Make changes that you know will serve your goals, not serve your current emotional state.
            Plan the steps between where you are and the life arrangements you have imagined, including work, housing, and other expenses. You can also begin thinking about your next relationship: how it will begin, how it will progress, what your goals are (family, adventure, etc.) and what qualities you will look for in the other person before you begin a relationship, as well as what warning signs to look for. This will put in your mind a different sort of plan, one which will present itself next time you are attracted to another or are thinking of beginning a relationship, allowing you to avoid the bad outcomes of your last relationship. If you know yourself and have thought about such particulars in advance, it will be easier to resist the pull of emotion in a relationship that is not healthy for you.

6. Enjoy the Present.

            Your life may not be put together the way you want it following a break-up or divorce, but is important to enjoy the particulars of the present. Absent the relationship you are now able to do things that might not have been possible before, such as enjoy activities in which your partner was uninterested, or eat things your partner disliked. Maybe you can finally have a weekend to sit around and play videogames, or go drinking with your friends. Whatever it is, take the time to enjoy it. Revel in it.
            The focus on the present, or on a series of steps that take you from the present to the future, will help you to keep your mind form focusing on the pain brought on by the past, and help you to realize the resolution of your painful feelings. Be sure to take time for self-examination, but don’t spend all your time in contemplation. Part of getting on with your life is getting out of bed every day and walking out the front door.

7. Conclusion

            All of this is just advice, given by a man who has had a little bit of experience, but is by no means an expert. Avoid doing things during the grieving process that you will regret later. One-night stands and drug habits will not help you get over the break-up. Time and patience will. You should also feel good about yourself if you choose to seek out therapy from a professional (which I am not). They may help guide you to self-understanding, show you the path to healing, and equip you with tools for making your choices have the outcomes you desire.