2011


Philosophy and Psychology18 Jul 2011 12:16 pm

Recently I saw an article which made a distinction between feelings and emotions. I was very excited to read the article since I too have considered feelings and emotions to have different origins and purposes. Yet, the article quickly disappointed me in that it was more interested in casting judgements than in distinguishing and describing feelings and emotions.

The article had a spiritual bent with a quasi-Buddhist attitude in which equanimity and love were the goals. The conclusion of the essay was that feelings were positive and emotions were negative. Feelings such as love, compassion and empathy were of our higher nature while emotions showed the type of ownership and over attachment which leads to pain, suffering, disappointment, hatred and the like.

My appraisal of feelings and emotions is much more complex than that of the the author of that article. I have a difficult time labeling this specific experience or response as an emotion and that one as a feeling. In my world there are grey areas and many experiences which may be both feeling and emotion.

Let’s take a minute and try to define the similarities and differences between feelings and emotions. The simplest place to start is with emotions since the literal meaning of the word is easy to identify. An emotion takes place when one emotes. An emotion therefore is a time when one emotes a feeling. An emotion is an expression of a feeling, or a desire to communicate a specific attitude, mood or condition.

One could say that emotions are based on feelings. The goal of emotions is often to express or communicate an underlying feeling, mood or attitude. Since emotions are a presentation of something felt there is always some form of performance or drama to an emotional expression. This is why emotions can sometimes come off as insincere or over the top. This is also why emotions can appear to be manipulative or having an agenda.

When emotions are seen in this light it becomes a little easier to define or delineate the realm of feelings. Feelings are general states, moods and attitudes which can give rise to emotions. One feels secure, safe, irritable, anxious, vulnerable or confident. These general states are what specific emotions are based on. Feelings are the background and mood which emotions attempt to express, amplify or communicate.

We are free to express positive or negative emotions which are based on comfortable or disturbing feelings. One can express joy, love, silliness, elation or gratitude based on feelings such as contentment or satisfaction. Likewise one can express anger, hatred, prejudice, intolerance, and rage based on feelings of insecurity, vulnerability, disgust or frustration.

Anger is probably the emotion most talked on. In my many years working with kids and their families this negative expression has often been center stage. So much time is spent talking of anger management or on how to extinguish or resolve anger.

In my work with people I often address anger as a secondary emotion and help people identify the feelings which precede anger. The typical primary feelings which precede anger are often identified as frustration, irritation, embarrassment or one feeling imprisoned, pushed, invaded or penned in. The ability to identify and express these earlier feelings is often the key in having a person find a way to break their anger response and find healthier and less destructive forms of communicating their feelings.

Yet, the line between feelings and emotions is anything but clear cut. Due to the function of language many words we use can represent both a feeling state and an emotion. Yet, the harsh reality that we cannot fit emotions and feelings into to separate and distinct boxes does not preclude us from using this distinction in a positive manner.

Unlike the author of the article and many spiritualists of various persuasions I do not view human emotion in an inherently negative light. I do not view emotional responses as inherently indicative of artificiality, over attachment or a need to control.

As I mentioned above many emotions can be highly beneficial and rewarding such as elation, passion, joy and rapture. Yet, even these emotions can be mishandled and become as destructive as hatred, envy and idolatry. The choice is ours, we can experience and use emotions and feelings in healthy or self-destructive manners. The fact that emotions can be painful or destructive should not prevent us from seeing and benefitting from their positive side.

Oftentimes the drive for spiritualism and mysticism is born out of a desire to avoid pain and suffering. In such cases they advocate for disciplines and perspectives which equate freedom and salvation with equanimity, non-attachment, and annihilation of the self.

Yet, to me such denial is a denial of the human experience itself. Love, empathy, compassion and intimacy are not an absence of feeling or emotion, but rather a deep expression of life and our humanity. Once again for me the wonder of life being conscious of itself is something to embrace and not something to conquer or overcome. The art of living life is a constant but potentially rewarding challenge, it is a challenge a dance which I hope to partake in for many years to come.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Social Issues10 Jul 2011 05:04 pm

President Obama ran on a campaign slogan of Hope and Change. At the time it was a call for optimism and reform. Yet now for the majority of Americans the campaign slogan can now be reframed as:

I hope I still have some change in my pocket!

I’ve never had a bumper sticker. But the above phrase along with a photo of the President might be worthy of finally giving in to pop culture.

To say that the campaign was a misrepresentation and that the President’s actions since he took office are a betrayal is an understatement. Hardly a day passes in which our nation makes a decision, law or statement which doesn’t cause me to be more afraid and embarrassed. I often feel I should go around the world and say to almost everyone, I’m sorry I really don’t hate you or believe you are evil.

I have not voted in the last few elections, not because I’m lazy or apathetic. I haven’t voted in the last few elections because I haven’t found a candidate whose value system I can stomach, let alone appreciate. I am truly a voter in search of a candidate.

Ralph Nader was the last person whose value system seemed to be worthy of a vote. I was a little tempted to vote for Ron Paul because he seemed honest and sincere, yet in the end his policies were a little out of date and dangerous even though well intentioned.

If the richest and most powerful country in the world cannot afford to be kind or share, than who possibly can?

I look around the world at the people our government hates the most and I’m a little more than confused. Chavez, Gaddafi, Castro, etc., reads like a list of those who do the most to benefit the standard of living and quality of life of their citizens. I’m not saying these guys are sweet hearts, or aren’t power hungry. But statistically the economic, social, educational and medical growth fostered under these leaders are near the top for nations of their size and type. People such as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and other icons of freedom and social justice praise these leaders and consider them friends.

Our government has become famous for doing terrible actions such as torture, war, assassination, occupation and the illegal use of banned weapons all in the name of the good. Our government does terrible things for good reasons and noble intentions while our enemies such as the one’s listed above often do good things for bad or evil reasons.

The Iranian president’s offer to have a media covered open discussion with Mr. Bush and now Mr. Obama is labelled a clever publicity stunt, as is Chavez’s providing free heating oil for the poor and elderly in many nations including our own. Similarly Cuba’s long history of providing free medical care and disaster assistance for people around the globe is considered to be a PR campaign to distract people from the atrocities he commits.

While our government claims to be spreading freedom and democracy around the globe we have the highest prison rate in the world, and are steadily losing our constitutional rights, often due to the noblest intentions of winning the war on terror. Yet even pointing out these inconsistencies is something I do with great reluctance as it could cause my government to view me in a negative light.

I am a simple man whose major ambition is to be a good person and enjoy life. It pains me to see others suffer or to have their lives be dominated by fear and hatred. I know that it is possible to improve one’s world through being a good person doing good things, and that fear and hatred are seldom effective tools for positive change.

Maybe it would be more accurate for our next president’s slogan to be Fear and Hatred, rather than Hope and Change. That honest slogan may win the election, but it won’t get my vote.

09 Polylogue 1  http://guidoworld.com/music/zephyr/polyl…

Jim Guido

Sports24 Jun 2011 12:47 pm

Now, that all the hoopla and drama of the NBA season is over I’d thought I’d share some of my thoughts regarding the Miami Heat and their season. I should start off by saying that I am a fan of the Chicago Bulls, and that I usually adopt a couple of other teams each season due to their game and character. Early on this year I adopted the Dallas Mavericks as my B team based on the fact that I felt that Dirk was under appreciated and that they played beautiful team basketball.

In terms of the Heat I’ve always liked Wade and James but never had a strong appreciation of Bosh’s game. I, like many others, viewed the triad as being a tad immature, especially James, in how they used the media to preen before the cameras like rock stars and divas. I love the game of basketball and was a tad concerned that their immediate success could have a negative impact on the integrity of the sport.

As the year progressed my fears regarding the negative impact the Heat and the trio in particular could have on the longer term direction of professional basketball only got worse. Wade and James in particular seemed to become more immature and whinier as the year progressed. They seemed to view themselves as basketball royalty and were incensed any time a foul was called on them, or when they felt they were fouled (pretty much any time they shot and missed) and it wasn’t called.

James and Wade’s willingness to present their case or mildly lecture or educate every official over the most trivial of events seemed to become routine. I often wondered how their coach was able to impart any strategy during time outs as it seemed like James or Wade used every time out and stoppage of play as an opportunity to talk and work on the refs.

In previous posts I’ve outlined my concerns regarding commissioner Stern and his tendency to view the game as a product rather than a professional sport. The drama surrounding the Heat increased interest in the NBA world wide and even if not totally thrilled with some of their antics, I’m sure Stern was very pleased with the boost these lovable heroes/villains gave to revenues.

My biggest concern going into the playoffs was that the semi-spoken rule that the NBA as commercial product needs their super stars on the floor would once again dominate the quality of the officiating. Stern’s fining Pat Riley for resting Magic, Worthy and (Abdul-Jabbar?) when he coached the Lakers is a fine example of the priority of product over sport. For those not old enough to remember, Riley sat his stars for a meaningless game towards the end of the season to help them them rest for the playoffs. Stern fined Riley thousands of dollars because he felt that ticket holders were entitled to see the stars they paid money to see, and had no concern about player fatigue or performance. Maybe he felt that the preferential calls by the refs would more than make up for any fatigue or minor injury that could hamper the stars performances.

As I said I was very concerned that James and Wade would not be allowed to foul out of the game no matter what they did. Combine that with the fact that Wade and James never believe they commit a foul and my imagination went wild with scenes of Shaq in his hey day pummeling and barreling over opponents on his quest to make undefended dunks to the glee of giddy TV play-by-play announcers.

Yet, I must admit the reality of the situation was not as bad as I had imagined. In fact I almost felt like I owed Stern an apology for my perception, almost.

A few disconcerting patters emerged in the games I saw the Heat play in the playoffs. My worst fears materialized early in games where there were ample opportunities to call offensive and defensive fouls on James and Wade. Most of these calls weren’t made and when the whistle blew the refs usually searched for a teammate in the area to assign the foul to.

In the early playoff series James and Wade often maximized on their special treatment and cajoled and scolded the refs into giving them even more preferential treatment. Yet, even in the early rounds I was pleased to see more balanced and realistic calls during the last half of the fourth quarters. The Heat and their stars who looked increasingly angry and befuddled at not getting their typical end of game assistance.

In the finals in particular there were actually times in which James and Wade were fouled and the call was not made. In addition, the fact that the lack of earlier foul calls on Wade and James made it possible for the refs to call the most flagrant rule violations in the final minutes with no fear of fouling out the stars. This new twist to officiating seemed to confuse and frustrate Wade and James who never quite adapted to their being treated as mere mortals during crunch time.

What most surprised me in the finals was how frequently James and Wade did not continue to force the issue and go to the rim and fall to the floor in an attempts to get to the free throw line. I’m not quite sure the refs would have been able to stand up to that kind of pressure. The lack of theatrics during the final phase of the game was in sharp contrast with the behavior of the dynamic duo during the earlier sections of the games.

I was amazed at how often James and Wade in particular would flop to the ground anytime the least bit of contact occurred both offensively and defensively (hence the title of this post). Though this behavior is at least indirectly fostered by the refs with how frequently the acting results in a favorable call, it still is jaw droppingly pathetic from a personal integrity point of view. Do Wade and James think that they really need such stunts to win the game? Are they so pampered or delusional that they don’t see how that behavior tarnished the respect of discerning fans and players especially from a historical perspective

I, for one, would truly like to see how good Wade and James are without all the prima donna preening and behavior. Even though Bosh himself does high drama, he only resorts to such theater a few times a game and in general conducts himself in a manner respecting the integrity of the sport. In the playoffs I was very impressed with most aspects of Bosh’s game and did not see him as being “too soft” as many have labeled him. Sure he’s not the most physical of players and could be a more consistent force on the boards but he did not wilt under the pressure of the playoffs and was probably the person most responsible for their getting past the Bulls.

When all is said and done it appears that the Heat became too dependent on their theatrics and on beneficial calls. When the calls they were accustomed to getting began to desert them (in the final few minutes of games) they became tentative and bewildered to such a degree that they no longer forced the issue or even had the awareness to flop to the floor when on defense. Without theater they were not able to see themselves as super heroes appearing out of the colorful mist of strobe lights, but rather became merely a couple of the most talented athletes of this generation. Which should be enough, but this time it wasn’t.

It would be nice if this was used by Wade and James as a learning experience, and inspired them to rededicate them to the substance of the game. Yet, at this point it seems more likely that they will choose to cast themselves as victims and instead have them become more resolved to whine, act and scold their way to an NBA championship, which I have little doubt they will be able to do.

I’ve always respected Wade as an athlete and as a person, likewise for James, though at times I thought he was a little too pampered and had some growing up to do. Yet, the two together and the hype have appeared to bring out the very worst in their personalities. The immaturity they have displayed and then denied or explained away is saddening.

The theatrics on the basketball court has been pushed up another notch by the Heat. Though flopping has been used to encourage a whistle throughout the NBA, the Heat use this device as often as most teams do the pick and roll. Since refs are less likely to call a charging foul if the defender remains upright it only makes sense to fall when an opposing player slams into you. Yet, even with that in mind, the Heat are going to the ground even at the hint of contact especially Wade, who almost goes to the floor every time his shot is defended.

Flopping isn’t the only disconcerting trend. The amount of traveling (seldom called) increased dramatically this year especially in the playoffs. Once again the Heat led the league in this department. Players are taking the ball and running to the basket for a slam dunk without taking a single dribble or stopping their dribble and taking three of four steps before slamming the ball home. Maybe the refs and commissioner feel the extra steps make for a more spectacular dunk and, therefore, should be allowed to add to the entertainment value of the product (game). Yet, in the playoffs the expectation to dribble or follow the rules regarding traveling became almost non-existent.

On a number of occasions I heard announcers squeal in excitement how a player “split the defense” with an “amazing” move to get to the basket. In reality the defenders met the player at the legal limit of their advance and the player illegally ran (walked) past them and dunked the ball. Years of training and habit of defenders caused them to make this error over and over again, as superstars electrified crowds by walking great distances to the hoop without dribbling the ball.

Another illegal trend in basketball is in the use of the “first step” and the “pivot foot”. I was again appalled with the success players were allowed to have starting a drive without dribbling, or doing numerous feints with both feet to get a defender off balance before taking the ball to the basket. My assumption is that these illegal behaviors are tolerated because they allow for more thunderous dunks and “amazing” moves. Players must feel a personal and social pressure to be inventive and increasingly sensational and this is the shortest route to instant athleticism.

Despite these short comings the Dallas Mavericks were a breath or fresh air. They played pretty basketball in an old school sense. They passed, shot the ball well, and made their free throws. They truly were a beautiful team to watch from an execution point of view both offensively and defensively. The won the series, but I’m sure they lost in terms of the highlight reel.

Now I would like to answer the original question of this post. Was the Heat a flop?

The short answer is no. When all is said and done, they were a couple of plays or calls from being NBA champions. It is foolish to say that they couldn’t have beaten the Mavericks or that if we were to start the series again today that the result would be the same. If Lebron missed the shots in the Chicago series that he did in the finals, then the Bulls would have been in the championship. Its been awhile since I’ve seen a team so dominant that it was inevitable that they win it all. Sometimes we do see teams which we cannot imagine winning a title. Yet, this year there were at least six reams which had a legitimate chance to win the title.

The Heat was definitely capable of winning the title, and if they had you would be reading countless articles how they would be destined to win five or six more. I’m glad that the team playing the best team basketball one the title. From a fundamental and execution standpoint they were most deserving.

The NBA is at a crossroads they could continue their path on to better entertainment value and product development. If this is the route they take we should expect a further lenience and freedom allotted the athletes to make even more spectacular and unbelievable moves befitting super heroes. The Heat, at least for a few years, can fulfill the role of the greatest show on hardwood.

Yet, maybe the commissioner isn’t too old to appreciate the true beauty of basketball and is capable of giving the fans a little credit for loving the game and not just the product. Maybe he can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the batch of new talent in the NBA who seem humble and dedicated to team basketball rather than hype and adoration. Maybe he can replace allegiance of players to their posse and agents with a dedication to their team and city.

If he looks around he can see much to build on. You have players such as Rose and Durant who seem to have humility and appreciation of their opportunities. You have young teams such as the Grizzlies, Bulls, Thunder and Nuggets which seem to respect their teammates and coaches and could further the original team spirit of the sport. Despite all the hype and egoism the last few championships have gone to teams who functioned as teams such as the Spurs, Celtics and Mavericks. Each of these teams despite their individual talents and experience fiercely dedicated to executing the plays and systems of their coaches.

I did not include the Lakers to the above list of teams because, despite the managerial talents of Phil Jackson, the Lakers at times seemed to be more like the Heat than the Mavericks and it is possible that the Heat will become the eastern version of showtime.

I will end this post by stating that I fear that David Stern will take the wrong road. His dictatorial approach seems to mimic that of his egotistic players. From a distance the actions of Stern have always seemed to be a little grandiose and self-serving. He seems to be more like Dwayne Wade and Lebron James than Derrick Rose or Kevin Durant.

From what I’ve seen Mr. Stern would be better fitted to be the manager of the Harlem Globetrotters or professional wrestling where his entertainment packaging priorities would be less damaging. This is not said out of hate of Mr. Stern but as a lover of the sport of basketball. Its hard enough for professional sports to survive the dangers of gambling, organized crime, agent and corporate greed. With these obstacles we do not need a commissioner whose major concern is marketing and public relations.

Jim Guido

Ecology and Economics and Social Issues01 Jun 2011 05:47 pm

Most living things need air, water and food in order to survive. This is definitely the case for human beings. Yet, if you look at how we live and the decisions we make as a planet you would be hard pressed to conclude that life’s basic essentials are a high priority.

In the US the wealthiest, most powerful and advanced society the world has ever known a significant percent of drinkable water is wasted, polluted, used inefficiently or unnecessarily reprocessed. Much of the infrastructure of the US is in a severe state of decay. This is surely the case with the American water system and its aging water lines.

Over 17% of the treated water in the US is lost by leaks in the system, in some cities the estimates are as high as 50% of the water entering the water lines is lost through leakage. Instead of using tax payer money to update and improve the water system and make it efficient, citizens end up paying for water that is lost in the system through their water bills.

In essence we are treating and purifying water for human consumption and than allowing between and 1/5 and a 1/6 of it to be lost in faulty water lines. Yet, this lost water does not include the other ways in which we undervalue and abuse this essential ingredient of human life.

Many reports over the last decade show that Americans eat out an average of four to five times a week. In most US eateries it is a primary duty of waiters and waitresses to keep your cup or glass of water, tea, soda, coffee or any other water based beverage full at all times. What this means is that most people end their meal with a full or partially filled beverage cup which, of course is wasted water.

The list of ways in which we waste water and use it inefficiently would include lawn care, livestock, ornamental water devices and gardening just to mention a few. This is not to say a portion of this is not necessary and beneficial but only to point out that we aren’t actually being frugal with probably the most precious and valuable resource for human existence.

Water we are told is essential for life, and the essence or life. When you consider that any planet without water is considered incapable of sustaining life, it seems odd that we take such a cavalier attitude towards its usage. When you consider that the major portion of our planet’s water is not fit for human consumption it seems unfathomable that we would degrade, pollute and contaminate such a high percentage of our “fresh water” that remains which is suitable for consumption for the billions of people around the globe.

The situation regarding food is just as appalling. Each year the amount of land suitable efor farming is decreasing due to drought, urbanization, industrial expansion and practices to acquire other resources such as wood, coal, oil and various minerals. Yet, despite this, globally we produce around 8.7 trillion pounds of edible foodstuffs. Despite this ample amount of food we live in a world in which 925 million people suffer from hunger.

It is often said that when it comes to food we do not have a supply problem, but one of distribution. Yet, the problem isn’t only about distribution, it is also about waste and lifestyle. Like water, we often do not treat food with the respect it deserves, we do not treat food as an essential aspect of human existence.

According to the UN an astounding 1/3 of all food around the globe is wasted, spoiled or never used. In underdeveloped nations the problem is often of storage, distribution and political conflict. Yet, in the industrialized nations it is mostly a matter of wasteful habits, market practices and economic forces (profit considerations).

According to the report published in early May of this year in industrialized countries, the issue is more about “retailers and consumers throwing perfectly edible foodstuffs into the trash.” The report found that in Europe and North America consumers wasted between 95 and 115 kilograms (209 and 253 pounds) of food every year.
The report found that in the retail industry there was an “over-emphasis on appearance”. “Consumers in rich countries are generally encouraged to buy more food than they need,” it said, giving as an example oversized ready-to-eat meals produced by the food industry and fixed-price buffets in restaurants.

The waste habits and practices of the industrialized west cause food prices to rise all over the globe. This often makes the prices of staples and basic food stuffs unaffordable to a growing number of people. The recent food riots in numerous countries around the globe have been the public reaction to the strain of food prices on a growing percentage or the populace.

A vast amount of edible food is thrown out of restaurants and grocery stores on a daily basis. Waste and destruction of food is significant in almost every phase of the restaurant businesses. At the preparation phase any food that is not visually pleasing is discarded even if it is perfectly edible. Likewise many perishables are discarded if they are not ordered by customers in a timely basis.

Oftentimes meals contain edible foods which are used more for presentation than consumption with the result being they are left unconsumed and thrown away. It is rare that patrons of restaurants eat all on their plate, or take all leftovers home for later consumption. Restaurants are embarrassed when they run out of anything offered on their menu. This results in owners preventing this occurring by over stocking on a daily basis and ending each day with unused food needing to be tossed.
Grocery stores often toss perishables rather than sell them at reduced prices as they near spoiling to protect their profit margins. Waste and reduced prices are all part of the profit equation, and it is often more profitable to throw food away than sell it at lower prices.

Along with food and water man needs to breathe. A man not breathing is a man not living. Though it seems we can breathe air that is far from perfect or even fresh, the truth of the matter is that our survival depends on a relatively narrow band of air quality. Yet, like water, we have adopted many practices which degrade, degrade and contaminate the air we breathe.

The statement that we need air, water and food is simple and basic. It is a statement of fact, that few if any would contest. Yet, our behavior seems to suggest that either we have other priorities we deem more important than existence, or that in the long run, we really don’t care about being alive or the quality of our life.

I personally have a difficulty considering any human society advanced or civilized which does not make basic survival a high priority. It would appear to me that providing all with food, water and healthy air is job one. This is not about politics, ethics or morality, it just about making sense and acting in a sensible way.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Poetry and Psychology21 May 2011 08:59 pm

Recently I’ve been describing my ego, as the conscious part of who I am. I’ve also been thinking of how often my body is able to just wing it without my ego being involved. In this poem I explore the relationship between my mind and my body, the relationship between I and me.

I Realize it is Me

You and I together
We listen to me speak

Yet, of course,
You could say the same

You and I together
We listen to me speak

Yet, quicker than the labor of thought
You respond
As fast as a tap under the kneecap
With a river of cogent words
Reflexive but coherent

We can continue this way
for minutes
if not hours

With long verbal volleys
and fierce rallies
Words lobbed about
With deft and force
We are on our game
With more instinct that thought

In the now of speech
Who has time for thought?

You and I together
We listen to me speak

I realize it is me speaking
Though I am more observer than participant
Yet, every word is me
Said by me,
Expressing me

Speech is more me than I
While thought is more I than me.

When speaking I learn about me
While listening and thinking
I guide me
I mold me
I judge me
I improve me

I am amazed by me
The me that is my body
That moves about
and inhabits the world
Even while I am lost in thought
Or completely asleep

The me that is my body
That smells, tastes, feels, sees and hears
That breathes, loves and lives

I often take me for granted
I often forget about me
Or mistake me for I

Some believe that I will live on
Long after my body dies
Yet, I can’t imagine
Living without me
Even if this were true
It really wouldn’t be I anymore

For if I were to lose me
The I that would remain
or return
Would surely bear little
resemblance to me

Personally,
I hope that
I and me die together
It’s not just a romantic ideal
But it only seems fitting that
Since I have no memory
of a time without me
That without me
I am nothing
I owe everything I am
To me
All I think and know
I’ve learned from me

Without me
I would never have met you
I would not know your smile
your laugh, or the sound of your voice
I would never have touched your body
Or felt the pleasure of your embrace
I would never have been able to say
Or even learnt your name
Without me
I would have never experienced life
I wouldn’t have known love
Or been able to share the
Miracle of life with you

I am nothing without me
I am no thing without me
Thanks for being there for me
Thanks for caring for me
Thanks for sharing with me

Without you I never would have found me
Without you I would not have become me
Without you I would not be me

Jim Guido
5/21/11

Philosophy and Poetry and Relationships15 May 2011 06:19 pm

Dear Aunt Nancy,

As I mentioned in my last letter I prefer our conversations to me writing you a letter. On the telephone I can learn of what you’re currently thinking and feeling and co-tailor our conversation to take into consideration both of our present concerns and joys.

Often our conversations begin with your making an observation, stating an opinion, or asking a question based on a recent thought you’ve had, discussion you’ve been part of, or a news report you’ve heard. This leads me to a favor I want to ask of you.

Could you please email any thoughts you have so that I may be able to respond to it? It would be very helpful. I may not be able to respond quickly, so anytime you have a thought you’d like to share or talk on, just send it to me. I’ll read and mull them over and then write my thoughts when I get a chance. Is it a deal?

In the meantime I thought I’d just do some of my current thoughts mixed in with some extensions of my last letter. In my last letter I talked of your being like a river, with your ability to both influence and adapt to your environment. A side bar to that letter was my having you explore what one can do, and how you could best adapt to your current state of health and well being.

So, let me be selfish a second and answer that question from my own perspective. When not feeling well or recuperating from an injury I often resort to contemplation. Which even though is sometimes difficult due to the distractions of illness, is far more feasible than most other human activities.
So, lets spend some time contemplating.

In my last letter I mentioned how much I enjoyed our conversations and how much I would miss having them. The bulk of the letter focused on you and the person you bring to the table. Yet, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about me and my motivations for liking our conversations.

One of the major reasons I enjoy our conversations is that I like the person I am when I’m speaking with you, and I like the person our conversations inspire me to become. Reflecting on that last observation I realize that those internal feelings truly mark off my strong friends from my acquaintances.

Many people, often through no fault of their own, have me speak and respond in ways which make me uncomfortable with myself or with my reactions to them. My distance from them is more created by how they make me feel about myself or who I am with them, then any judgement on my part about them as a person. Wow, I think that’s bordering on a self-revelation, thanks for inspiring that thought. Is it any wonder I miss our conversations?

This morning while I was walking my attention was drawn to the elaborate song of a mockingbird. Over the last several years a mockingbird has been a constant companion to my spring and summer walks perching in a short list of high places and singing away with rapid urgency. I am amazed at how often I hear him sing no matter what time of the day I choose to walk. Even during the short time it takes me to pass him he serenades me with dozens of bird songs.

Most of us are like most songbirds. We spend our lives developing and perfecting our song. We develop very deep grooves of habit which gives us a sense of history, identity and meaning. These are all very good things.

Yet, in some ways I would like to be more like a Mockingbird. It would be nice to be able to learn and perfectly repeat the songs of others. It would appear that to truly learn anothers song I would have to inhabit their reality and there way of living life. This would be true compassion and allow me to stay sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. Being able to sing anothers song would be invaluable in terms of creating harmony and having a positive influence on those you speak to.

The greater portion of my contemplation centers on human experience and my experience in particular. I never stop marveling at how intricate and fascinating human sensorial experience is, and how inaccurate our unreflected assumptions of what we actually experience often is.

One of my strongest joys is in reflecting on simple experience and being able to describe my observations to others. The following lyric and a few reveries on each line will help demonstrate what I mean.

The World Touches Me 4/26/2008

What I do see is more than I see everyday
What I do feel is more than I sense
Sometimes the world touches me
Keeps me company while I think

I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun
Words pour out in rapid runs
Painting the world that is me
Making the world I am to be

Wonder fills my joy
Laughter seasons the stew I’m steeping
Every day is a feast
So much to taste of which comforts and awakens
Sometimes the world touches me
Talks to me while I think

Sharing all our days
Gives my life dimension widens my perception
Listening to the rain
The rhythm is dreamy soothes like honey

Every breath I take
Is filled with wonder new world to uncover (discover)
Everything takes shape
Random seeks order when the world touches me
_________________________________________________

If you want to listen to the song you can go to guidoworld.com and listen to it on the Go! CD in the music section of the website.

What I do see is more than I see everyday

To understand and appreciate this first line and the general tenor of the song takes a little background. So,….

In every conscious experience I have there is part of me having the experience (my sensorial body) and part of me that is aware of it (ego, self-consciousness). A large part of my life is unthought and kind of on autopilot. I walk, pick things up, breathe, move my arms and legs, smile and make gestures often without any conscious assistance. Even a great part of speech is done naturally and in the flow of the moment far faster and more often than conscious thought is capable of producing.
Life happens too fast and there is far too much information for us to weed through in the most basic experience to depend on our ego. In order to survive and make sense out of life we need a most basic part of us to exist and be in the world prior to a self-conscious decision process.

A major part of us needs to be in the world and respond to it with lightning speed. First we need to be able to select and organize a world out of the tons of sense data assaulting our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin at every moment. Then while doing this we must breathe, chew, blink and respond to specific demands of the environment (someone speaking to you, a dog running in front of you, or catching yourself as you fall) all at speeds faster than our ego can think.

Our ego, though slow is extremely valuable. Without the ego we would not process, appreciate, evaluate, alter or plan our actions. Our ego, is the central manager, who feels embarrassed, proud and happy. It is our self-consciousness which gives life its history, meaning and sense of direction. Yes, it is our ego which often causes us conflict with others or gives rise to negative emotions, yet it is also the ego that makes loving, savoring and relishing life and others possible.

So when I say that “What I do see is more than I see everyday” I mean it literally and figuratively. First, the amount of input coming into my eyes has to be organized into a comprehensible (and livable) environment. Yet, what I see at the moment with the help of my ego becomes part of my history. So, at each moment I see, I see with the eyes and knowledge of my past as well as the feelings and memories they evoke in me.

Yet, even in vision itself we see more than we see. As I look about my room I see many things. I see a table, lamps, chairs, sofa, TV, speakers, paintings, pictures, plants, shelves, walls and floor to name just a few. The simple fact of the matter is that I never fully see any of these things.

I never actually see the entire room, only a series of partial snapshots. Yet, I am able to imagine it as a whole, and to move about in it as if I saw the entire room at once. If I stare straight ahead I begin to realize how little I actually see at one moment. Even individual object only seems to come alive as my eyes move about and quickly make scan after scan.

What is even more astounding is the fact that I never see all of the chair or even the lamp. Depending on my position and its distance from me I may only see a fraction of the object, the rest of it is filled in by me. I never see the backside or the underneath of the sofa or lamp, but it does not prevent me from seeing the lamp or instinctively being able to reach and lift the entire lamp.

When in a room, walking in your neighborhood, or driving in town, you are able to successfully move about, adapt to, and respond to these environments even though you are not seeing a substantial portion of, or even thinking about them. We truly do see more than we do see.

What I do feel is more than I sense

Likewise, what I feel is more than I sense in a number of ways. First, though I never touch the entire cat, I know what my cat feels like. With my eyes close I recognize the cat almost the moment my hand makes contact with her. There are very few objects I could feel at one moment, and even many of those have shapes, contours, nooks and crannies which make it impossible for me to feel it completely. Yet, my mind is able to fill in what is missing, both in what can’t be felt in one caress as well as the absences that could not be felt at all. It may be a little misleading to say my mind fills in the gaps because it often is done with no thought and instead accomplished by the preconscious part of me that lives in the world which usually is labeled the body.

“What I feel is more than I sense”, is also true in terms of emotional feeling. The entire network of sensations cannot explain nor capture my emotions and feelings. I always feel more than I sense, and my feelings are also influenced by reflections of sensations that has taken me an entire lifetime to form.

Sometimes the world touches me
Keeps me company while I think

We often make thought in charge of perception and view perception as something that occurs in the brain (mind). Sight, for example, is when images come to us through our eyes and rest on our retina in an inverted fashion, only to be corrected by our mind. My experience tells me that world -body – self consciousness are one intimate network, in which complete separation is impossible.

My experience says that sometimes the world beckons my attention and touches me. It is obvious that the world touches me when a breeze blows or when the sun peeks out from a cloud and bathes me in sudden warmth. Often times when deep in thought, or reflection a sound or smell will summon me, or keep me company while I think.

Also, often events in my environment will touch me in the sense of having a certain poignancy or inspire me to have some strong emotion. In this sense, the world in all its wonder and mystery is forever touching me. When one recognizes the intimate relationship between the world – our body – and our sense of self, it is truly impossible to feel isolated and alone.

The world, the environment and my immediate setting affect all that I feel, perceive, sense and think. My environment defines my limitations as well as my possibilities. At each moment my setting and my body color, guide and inspire my thoughts, emotions and experiences.

My setting and others who are part of my setting, influence and help create who I am. In so many ways I am the product and project of others and the world I live in. All of my experiences are created by the world and my body, and I would not be who I am if I had a different body or lived in a different setting.

I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun
Words pour out in rapid runs
Painting the world that is me
Making the world I am to be

We’ve already covered those first two lines with the realization that we speak far faster than we can think, and therefore, most of speech is preconscious and evaluated by our ego as we speak. If the ego agrees or is pleased it lets us ramble on, and only intervenes when it feels a need to interrupt or redirect.

Words paint and describe the world and person that is me. My words not only express who I am, but are the very tools which help construct my view of myself, my world, and my future. My perceptions and experiences are articulated through words, but words also help create and fashion my experiences and perceptions. My words and perceptions have a mutually beneficial relationship. My experiences can inspire me to find better words to articulate my perceptions, yet well chosen words can improve and refine my experiences and give it a richness it would otherwise not have.

Similarly, it is impossible to assess to what degree the world forms my perception of myself as opposed to how my self-perception fashions my views of the world.

Wonder fills my joy
Laughter seasons the stew I’m steeping
Every day is a feast
So much to taste of which comforts and awakens

All of the above thoughts lead me to see the world, my body, and my sense of self all with a sense of wonder and mystery. We are all born out of the world and at some point dissolve back into it. With something like a plant this concept is very easy to see. The plant sprouts forth from a seed in the ground and after a time dies and becomes reabsorbed into the earth.

We are born from a seed in our mothers body. Our life, being self-conscious, evolves a little differently than our experience of the plant. Becoming conscious is born out of the entire stew of sensations and perceptions fostered by the interaction between the world and our body. Soon our sense of self seems to form like condensation. Where eventually we become self-conscious, that is we become aware of the fact that we are alive. Not only that, but we become aware of all life, whereby through us life is becoming aware of itself.

We are aware of not just our ego centric existence but we become engulfed and surrounded by life. We exist and are alive, because we inhabit a world teeming with life.

Our self-conscious existence is dependent on the fact that we have a body and live in a world. The world, our body, and consciousness are co-existent. This is the beauty and wonder that is human life. We only live because we can breathe in life from the outside world.

When we inhale we take in life, when we exhale we give part of ourselves to the outside world. With this in mind it is hard to say where we end and where the outside world begins.

I became enthralled with life many years ago. I find great joy and satisfaction in reflecting on human experience and life and in describing what we actually see and feel. I find meaning in life itself and have no desire to try attain ultimate Truth. I stopped asking big questions when I realized I was only capable of producing small answers.

Sometimes the world touches me
Talks to me while I think

Obviously other people talk to me. Yet, even those who speak a foreign language speak to me through their gestures and through my interpretations of their actions. Animals, insects even trees and plants seem to speak to me, to teach me their secrets. All of nature reveals themselves to me, and in the process reveal me to myself.

The world touches and speaks to me through every sensation of my body. I reach out and touch the world in all my activities. When I have my hands touch each other, one always has to be the toucher and the other the one being touched. I can switch the roles at a moments notice, but one hand cannot be both toucher and touched at the same time. Likewise it is just a matter of perspective that has me switch from being touched by the world to its touching me.

Sharing all our days
Gives my life dimension widens my perception
Listening to the rain
The rhythm is dreamy soothes like honey

Though I’m never separate or alone in the world, I feel the most connected to other conscious beings. We all need to feel unique and special as well as a need to belong and be connected. It is through higher animals and people that we get these needs met. It is though others that I get validation as well as a greater perspective. Many experiences and thoughts I would otherwise have no access to, I can vicariously experience through my dialogues with others.

I find comfort in the predictable, in habits and in the patterns of life. The basic rhythms of life ground me and from this base give me the courage and stability to grow and develop.

Every breath I take
Is filled with wonder new world to uncover (discover)
Everything takes shape
Random seeks order when the world touches me

Life is a never ending process of growth and discovery. Each sensation, perception, experience and feeling we have is just another color with which to paint our world or a puzzle piece to use in constructing the great mosaic of our life.

Many seek to overcome life and view it as an illusion. Me, I view life as this wonderful dance we have the privilege to attend. I love the world, the body and our consciousness and relish the opportunity to live and savor this life.

Every sentence needs a period to have meaning. Every song only becomes one when it ends. We would not know the day without the night, and life would have no significance if it had no end.

We are bound by the limits of a body that occupies a specific space and experiences life as an unfolding of time. Yet, their would be no experience for something limitless or eternal. Something all knowing could not learn, grow, be surprised or have a revelation. The true beauty of human life is that it is born with so little, and through the unfolding of time, through the interaction of world-body-and self-consciousness develops a history and a personal story of ever increasing complexity and richness.

Wonder and mystery fill our days, and as we touch the world and the world touches us we begin to see patterns and forms, and we begin to feel connected to the world, nature and others. The miracle of conscious life is in its delicate fragility which dazzles the eye and captivates the reflective soul with its rarity and ephemeral beauty.

United in Compassion,

Jim

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues06 May 2011 07:39 pm

The last few posts have all dealt with my concern and fear of certain personality types which seem to wield a disproportionate amount of power and influence in modern society. Please read and refresh yourself with the ideas expressed in The People Who Frighten Me, Scary People All Rolled Into One, Getting Poorer By the Day, One If By Internet To if By TV and Overkill to catch you up to speed and give you sufficient background for understanding this post.

In the previous posts I’ve covered pretty thoroughly the ways in which I feel increasingly vulnerable from an economic perspective. Starting over a decade ago with my suspicion that the policies and strategies used by the IMF and World Bank to successfully gain access and control over nations assets was about to be implemented on the American middle class. In short, this technique focused on burying a nation in debt through unrealistic loans and then forgiving their debt in exchange for ownership and control of their assets such as oil, natural gas, cash crops, minerals, slave labor, etc.

Shortly after this revelation the housing bubble began to validate my suspicions. In response to this I paid off my house, got out of all debt, and made saving money my major focus. Likewise I warned all my friends and anyone willing to listen and not consider me paranoid or mad to do the same.

Initially I felt relatively good and safe about the prudent and frugal path I chose. Yet, as time has passed I no longer feel safe. This all has been covered in the previous posts listed in the first paragraph. Yet, let me take a moment to fill in a couple a more blanks before moving on to the non-economic fears that I’m beginning to have.
Indulge me a moment as I expand on my economic concerns. Not only is our financial security being attacked through personal and governmental debt, but we are being stripped of whatever relative wealth we have by the massive printing of money making it almost inevitable that the US middle class will be destroyed and the vast majority of American’s will enter into some form of poverty.

There is no doubt that adding to the money supply increases inflationary pressures. This is evidenced by the constant rise in prices as the money supply expands. It has been our experience that the basics of life such as food, shelter, utilities, and insurance policies (car, home and health) have risen steadily for decades.
Statistics show that US wages have stagnated for the last 15 years while inflation and its related cost of living have not. This means that the standard of living for the vast majority of Americans has deteriorated over this time frame.

Yet, the bailouts and gigantic loans to the privileged few present an additional and severe challenge to the survival of the middle class while threatening to place millions of Americans into abject poverty and destitution. The growing disparity between the privileged few and the other 99.9% of the populace is showing signs of skyrocketing past even the most cynical views held by paranoid conspiracists.

In just a few decades the percentage of wealth held by the top 20%, got halved into the top 10. Before we could even digest the consequences of this shift of wealth to half as many people, the same percentage of wealth went from 10% of Americans to 1% of Americans. So, instead of 10% of the population owning about 50% of our nations wealth it quickly became 1% owning our nations wealth. Yet, wait there’s more, recent statistics collected before the bailouts and outlandish loans showed that the same proportion of wealth now resides in the hands of just 1/10th of 1%.

So, in a system where everyone grew at the same pace we would all be seated around the game board and when the bank printed money we would all get an equal share of the action. Picture yourself at a table of ten people and the banker saying, “one dollar for you, and one dollar for you” as he goes about the table.

Yet, in the real world the vast money printed wasn’t given out equally. For awhile only one person at the table of ten got thousands of dollars while the rest of us got nothing. Then it went to millions of dollars. Soon only one person of a table of 100 got billions of dollars while the rest of us weren’t even invited to the table. Now, only one person of a thousand is sitting there receiving trillions of dollars of newly printed dollars. Not only that but a good portion of this money was taken away from money we had previously earned and was taken out of our paychecks with the promise that we would get it back when we retired or when we needed it.

The concept of a living wage has been around for decades. The basic premise of a living wage is to gauge how much money a household needs to earn in order to have an acceptable standard of living. Most living wage formats focus on basic survival and do not account for extra monies to be used for saving for the future (retirement, college, etc.).

When I was on a local planning board we assessed that a family of three needed a minimal of $26,000 dollars to survive, with the possibility of savings or even health insurance somewhat in doubt. Yet, now a decade or so later the survival earning base for a family of three in our community is quickly approaching $50,000.
During this time frame the wages in our area have remained flat which means a significant number of additional families are now existing below a basic survival level. If the current trend of money printing and massive bailouts for those two big to fail continues the $50,000 survival threshold will continue to climb and more and more families will go underwater, even if they have no debt.

Unless wages grow substantially in the very near term the following statement would be hard to contest. If we continue to print money at our current pace, in the not too distant future the vast majority of Americans will be impoverished. This is not a political statement, but just a statement of fact based on a path we are currently on.
One of the reasons that many Americans have been blind to or have been able to minimize the descent of their standard of living for the bulk of this time frame was do to the housing and stock market bubbles. While people’s wages were lagging behind inflation gains in their stock portfolios and assessed value of their homes made them feel like they were keeping up. This is what was commonly referred to as the “wealth effect”.

So, let me take a minute to talk about some of the non-economic dynamics which are increasing my sense of fear and vulnerability. There is increasing evidence that the ambitious, desperate people of certainty who control and spin the news we receive will not allow me a safe place to hide out. No longer do I feel that I will be considered harmless and the few dollars I have will be considered not worth the effort to take from me.

Just as I see the imperialistic techniques of the IMF and the World Bank being used domestically to dismantle and destroy the American middle class I also see the foreign policies of empire being turned upon US citizens. This is not necessarily new for the US to do, but the intensity and degree of this assault on our rights and freedom of thought is unprecedented. Let me take a minute to explain the title of this post.

The Red Scare of the 50’s and the current War On Terrorism bare more than a few resemblances. Both government promoted movements used fear and accusations to inspire both patriotism and a willingness to sacrifice one’s rights and privacy for the good of the country. In both eras we have been told that our very way of life was under siege and that our very safety depends on complete intolerance of thoughts, ideas and activities which could be construed as giving comfort or support to our enemies. Any questioning of our government, its intentions, or its policies is considered an act of treason worthy of punishment or imprisonment. The exception to this, of course, is to restrict your questions and criticisms to the narrow debate between the Democrats and Republicans.

During the anti-communist era the focus was more on prevention and damage control to our nation’s imperialistic intentions and the unrestricted growth of industrial capitalism. Obviously the concern wasn’t that citizens of the wealthiest and freest nation on the globe would overthrow its democracy to install a totalitarian state, but rather it was concerned with possible socialistic contaminations offered through any adaptation of communistic (communal) ideology.

Sharing the wealth was only desirable to the degree necessary for winning elections, motivating workers, creating consumers, and winning support for the wars and policies necessary to become the greatest empire and super power the globe has ever known. A pragmatic social analysis of the last few decades would demonstrate how the advancement of the empire and the New World Order has a direct relationship to the deterioration of the standard of living of the middle class and the loss of personal rights and freedoms of its citizenry.

This sums up the Communism and Terrorism portion of this posts title now lets talk about the Charity and Compassion components. I’ve shown over the last few posts, this one included, how the predatory practices of the IMF and World Bank which were instrumental in empire building have been turned on the American and European middle class. The motives for this being greed and a quickened reaching of a global New World Order.

I’ve talked mostly of my fears being based on how the economic techniques of the IMF and World Bank are now being used on the American and European middle classes. Yet, we can also draw parallels of how the US’s foreign policies and strategies which have maximized their strangle hold of empire abroad are now being exacted internally upon its citizens.

In the realms of economics and politics there seems to be no quit or endpoint in the ambitions of the ambitious policy makers. No matter how much money and monetary control we have over a nation or a region, our corporations and government seem to seek more. Any country resisting our economic terms and political policies risks being punished, invaded, isolated and verbally demonized by our leaders and press. Any nation not giving us access and control of their resources, or places the needs and wants of their citizens above the interests of the US and the financial health of its multinational corporations is an enemy of the US.

To be fair, this stance and policy is not an unusual one to have for the reigning world. In fact it is safe to say that, for an empire, this demand is the norm and not the exception. In becoming and maintaining an empire it is customary that they demand free access to their allies resources and man power, while expecting political allegiance and subservience. The only way the US might be unique is to the degree that they deny their imperialistic intentions and designs.

A list of US enemies has little to do with their political ideologies and more to do with their unwillingness to conduct business according to the US’s rules. Any ruler who desires his nations independent sovereignty, has more allegiance to its own citizens or constructs separate economic partnerships with other nations will be viewed as an evil dictator (even if he is democratically elected).

No country no matter how small or insignificant is allowed to stray. Cuba, Haiti, Paraguay, Argentina, Iran and Iran are all nations that had to be held accountable because they were a bad example. Currently Libya is being singled out amongst all the North African nations due to its leader’s economic policies and future plans. The human rights violations and violence of many of its neighbors is far more egregious than Libya’s, but Libya’s way of conducting business is viewed as being unacceptable.

It appears as if citizens of the US are now being treated in the same way as foreign nations. We are now targets of the empire. The attacks are both economic and political. The Red Scare of the Fifties is being replaced by the War on Terror. The fear of being labeled a Communist is now being replaced with the fear of being labeled a Terrorist.

Our government and corporations are coming after us. They are destroying our standard of living through bailouts and handouts. They are passing laws which will rob our retirement funds, reduce social security, make quality health care even more rare and increase our debt load.

At the same time they are attacking us economically they are attacking us politically. We are losing all semblances of privacy, many of our basic rights, our access to representation through unions and collective bargaining, and with it our voice in government.

The money I earned and was taken out of my paycheck is no longer mine. Our government and corporations no longer consider it an obligation, but rather an “entitlement” no longer feasible or practical. They are too big to fail, and we are too small to succeed.

Just as nations who want to provide their people with a decent life are considered evil and terrorists, so are any American’s who question our policies or ask that we are given what we have earned. Yet, we are heading into even more dangerous territory. We are heading towards having all acts of compassion and charity being viewed as an act of terrorism, for the simple fact that it is depriving the rich of even more money and is straying away from being part of the grid, being a cog in the system.

In the 60’s and 70’s John Lennon became an enemy of the state, was threatened with deportation and labeled a communist and a terrorist due to his peaceful anti-war stance. He was considered a terrorist years after the end of the draft and the Vietnam War.

Holding opinions or embracing ideologies contrary to the ambitions of empire have been a problem for popular influential people since the Red Scare. Yet, just as no country can be too small or meaningless to be ignored or left unpunished, so too it may be that no American’s voice is to small or meaningless to be tolerated.

The ideas of peace and love are no more politically dangerous than the acts of charity and compassion. When one is charitable and compassionate one is inspired to share and give things with no expectation of pay or profit. Yet, sharing, charity and compassion are just as much in violation of capitalism as peace and love are in violation of our military objectives in our “fight for freedom” and our war against terror.

This may seem far fetched to some, but remember that we were told that the terrorists wanted to destroy our freedom, our economy and our way of life by the attacks of 9/11. We were told it was our civic duty to not give into fear and that we needed to shop and consume. If we stopped shopping, even for a week, it could mean the end of our economy, our nation and our democracy.

About a decade ago I ran across some folks who were using something called Liberty Dollars at a few businesses around town. They were somewhat idealistic and mostly Libertarians which has since become fashionable. What I gleaned from my conversations with them is that they were concerned about the national debt and felt that the private cartel of bankers (the Fed) was making too much money off of citizens and the Federal Reserves actions were having a negative impact on the national debt. A few of the people I talked to said that the goal of the Liberty Dollars was to support local businesses by forming a partnership with local businesses, kind of local currency for local business.

Only businesses signing on would recognize and accept Liberty Dollars amongst themselves. As far as I could tell it functioned kind of like a barter or token system where Liberty Dollars were used like casino chips where they aren’t considered money but could be redeemed for money if taken out of the system.
The entire Liberty Dollar network functioned like casino chips or like tickets you buy at a fair which you can purchase food or beverages with. The network never grew very large and as far as I knew every thing was above board with patrons and business owners using the Liberty Dollars always treating the currency as separate from real US dollars.

Some months ago I came across an article stating that some Liberty Dollar people were arrested and were on trial for counterfeit and fraud. The article was very straight forward and interviewed one of the leaders of the local Liberty Dollar economy.

What he said pretty much coincided with my scant knowledge of the coins. He said the Liberty Dollars were only used by local businesses who had given their permission to honor the coins with full knowledge that they were not US minted coins. He acknowledged that the coins were modeled after US coins, but that no one in the network mistook or misrepresented them for US legal tender.

The article was short with quotes by both the prosecutors and the defendants. The concern of the prosecutors was that the coins bared too much of a resemblance to US silver dollars and that they could be mistaken. The defendant stated that there was no deception taking place and this was echoed by business owners who were questioned.

A few hours later I went back to the website for the local paper to show the article to my wife. The article was gone in its place was a very cold threatening article with no quotes accept from the US attorney involved in the case. The following is the major quote from the article.

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism. While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country”
-Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney, March 18, 2011 [von NotHaus trial]

Wow, suddenly we went from a couple of local dreamers who are doing their bit for the local economy to a clear and present danger to the economic stability of our entire nation. Next, we will be busting bingo parlors for using counterfeit coins and threatening our nations economy by engaging in pseudo commerce for non-profit religious organizations.

By definition the goal of terrorism is to have people feel fear and terror. I never felt terror or heard of anyone who felt terror when talking to or dealing with the people who were using Liberty Dollars in our community. Yet, the words of Ms. Tompkins struck terror in me, and in many others. Those who feel that our government created and capitalizes on the war on terror will undoubtedly find validation in Ms. Tompkins framing of the situation.

I have spent my adult life working for various human services. In response to the substantial cuts in budgets for most non-profits I have been giving a portion of my check back to the agencies I work for to help insure that they will be able to continue to offer quality services for those in need. I now worry that I could be accused of being a terrorist in treating my pay check in such a non-capitalistic manner.

Each passing day it seems as if the leash were on is getting shorter and shorter. More and more thoughts and actions are being deemed an act of treason or terrorism. While this is happening we are losing our rights, our voice and whatever money we have is being methodically and systematically being diluted and removed from our possession.

Before ending I’d like to give my thoughts on the whole perceptual management technique being used in the whole union collective bargaining issue. It appears to me that the average American has too little of voice rather than too much of one. The average American has too little representation, or too little leverage in both politics and their workplace.

I agree that unions often fall short of their goals and some may even be corrupt and self-serving. The same complaints of unions can be made of management, yet I hear no discussion of dissolving management or restricting the rights of management.

The efforts to end unions and collective bargaining practices cannot be in the best interests of workers, because it takes away their voice, their leverage, and their representation. There is always room for improvement, but annihilation is not improvement.

Ending unions and collective bargaining because of its flaws and abuses would be like ending voting because of the lies and deceptions of politicians. There is no way that unions have been any worse in terms of keeping their word or truly representing the best interests of their constituents as politicians have. Yet, we could not have a representative democracy without elections and without politicians. Sure our political process is in need of reform and improvement to better represent the wishes and interest of the electorate, but ending all elections would solve nothing and only further injure our democracy and its ability to represent its citizens. In business, unions and collective bargaining are the only means available for the workers to be represented and to have a voice.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics21 Apr 2011 03:24 pm

The last few posts have been dedicated to my explaining the type of people who frighten me and make me feel unsafe. What started out as an idea for a post of two has festered into a series. I hope to conclude this entire foray into my social demons in the next post.

In this blog I hope to quickly expand on my observation last time that “through taxing corporations, and the wealthy, cutting back military expenditures, and having prisons house only those that are truly a threat to the welfare of others we could quickly balance the budget and significantly reduce national and global debt.”

Okay, let’s start with taxing the wealthy and corporations. Our corporations are taxed at a historically low rate which comes in at a little more than 1% of GDP. If we were to temporarily raise it to a more normal 4% we would stand to gain between 500 and 700 billion dollars.

Individual tax rates for the wealthy are likewise at historically lows rates. In 1918 the top tier’s tax rate was 77%. From 1918 till 1964 the top tax rate went from as low as 63% to a high of 94% in 1945. The rate stayed above 90% from the mid 40’s till the 1964, almost two decades. In tax rate has drastically come down since the 80’s where it has languished to under 30%.

Just by raising the tax rates of the top 1% to a historically modest 50% we could easily raise an additional 50 to 70 billion in revenues. Therefore, through returning tax rates to rates more in line with the historical norm we could raise between 700 and 800 billion dollars. Compare that with the paltry 38 billion that Democrats and Republicans argued over to within an hour of a governmental shut down.

The revenues by taxing the wealthy are more than matched by the savings one could acquire by making cut backs to our defense budget and military operations. The following is from an article from the nation.

Dreyfuss writes, President Obama’s own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform(NCFRR) pointed out the $80 billion the U.S. spends on military R&D alone “surpassed China’s entire military budget by more than $10 billion.” Overall, Dreyfuss writes, the U.S. spends as much on military “as the rest of the world combined.”
What’s more, the Pentagon’s trillion dollar spending spree exceeds the general funds of all 50 U.S. states combined, which, says the National Association of State Budget Officers, will come to about $636 billion in 2011. Translation: Pentagon spending for war is greater than all public outlays for all purposes by all states. And while hard-pressed states wallow in debt and lay off teachers and police, “defense” contractors enjoy record or near-record profits.

Couple these disturbing and obscene facts with the following data by Dana Visalli from Global Research.

Global Research, April 18, 2011
A recent study indicates that 62% of soldiers returning from the war in Iraq have asked for mental health counseling, with 27% showing dangerous levels of alcohol abuse. Suicide rates among soldiers and vets have increased dramatically in recent years. Over 100,000 Vietnam vets have now killed themselves, far more than died in the Vietnam War. More than 300,000 veterans of the U.S. military are currently homeless, another study reveals.
The total cost of all military expenses for 2012 is estimated to be $1.2 trillion dollars, one-third of the total federal budget. It is the U.S. military that is driving the U.S. itself into bankruptcy.

The above article also points out that the US has over 1000 military bases spanning the globe.

I entitled this post Over Kill in homage to our defense budget and its global ambitions. We are years if not decades ahead of any other nation on earth. China who is second in the world in terms of military budget spends around 1/10th on defense as does the US. Even if we were to cut our military budget in half we would still be spending 5 times as much money on defense as any other nation. By cutting our defense budget it would still be more than we were spending on defense a decade ago, when we were still the world’s military superpower with no equal.

Since the military is 1/3 of our budget cutting the defense budget in half would reduce our budget by anywhere from 15% to 20%. Yet, cutting back on the military would reduce so many other national and international costs.

I included the stats regarding suicide, mental health and substance abuse to highlight some of the hidden costs both human and financial to our current military. One could also add on to this list, physical disabilities, rape and violent crime, medical care as well the costs of all the damage done to land, crops, buildings and infrastructure caused by bombs, chemical agents, tanks, guns, disease and all the other accouterments of warfare and military maneuvers.

The last costly sector I mentioned in the previous post was in imprisonment and corrections. Even though a disproportionate percentage of violent crime is performed by veterans who are suffering from PTSD or have other issues making their reintegration into civil society difficult, the overall rate of violent crime has been coming done over the last few decades. The overwhelming majority of people imprisoned today are for non-violent crimes such as recreational drug usage, vandalism and petty theft. The costs to the economy that these people pose is often times far less than the amount of tax money involved in the costs of imprisonment (i.e: food, shelter, clothing, correction buildings, supervision, health care, assistance to families, lost productivity, etc.).

In a previous post Need A Job – Get Arrested I discussed the underground economy of prison labor and its growing role in taking away jobs and reducing the wages for those of us not in prison. Prison labor is one of the hidden costs to the average tax payer in that work done for 25 cents an hour takes away jobs for some and reduces the wages for others who work for companies having to compete with prison labor.

In expanding on the social costs of the military one could add the dollars lost due to the mental and physical disabilities of a sizable percentage of veterans. In an aging population an increasing economic burden is placed on our youth to be more productive. Yet, for those struggling with war injuries both mental and physical the reality is that they find consistent employment hard to accomplish.

In review we found that substantial but safe and not historically harsh cuts in the military and taxes of corporations and the top 1% could total some 1.3 to 1.5 trillion dollars. In other words just those two action on a one time basis could balance the budget and probably begin the process of paying down the debt. If you were to raise the taxes on the 10% or make our defense budget only two to three times other nations we could stop all the talk of the need to attack social security or other obligations that workers pay has been used for.

The savings acquired by reducing a sizable portion of our non-violent prisoners and the positive impact reducing our military forces would have on employment, mental health, violence, crime and stable marriages for those not traumatized, killed, or debilitated by exposure to war, would probably be more than the 38 billion dollars that almost brought our government to a screeching halt.

Some may argue with my numbers. I myself could make a case both for higher and lower numbers on what I’ve suggested. Some also will try to say that these suggestions are reckless and would destroy our economy and our safety. First I would strongly disagree with these objections and consider them self-serving for the perception managers whose wealth depends on the status quo. Second, I would want to point out that we could always repeal these measures if they started to manifest any unforeseen complications or downside. Yet, in the short run we could finally put on the table some solutions that could actually have an impact on the sort of deficits and financial imbalances which we now face without a need to punish the already overwhelmed and underpaid 95% of US citizens.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics17 Apr 2011 02:54 pm

Paul Revere’s fabled “one if by land two if by sea” warning to the citizens of invasion can now be rendered “one if by internet, two if by TV”. His mythic “the British are coming” could now be paraphrased “the bankers are coming”.

The invasion we are experiencing is to our home ownership, financial security, back pay, standard of living, health care, quality of life and ethical standing in the international community. The enemy invasion is from the inside and includes not specifically bankers but all the personality types outlined in my three previous posts (People Who Frighten Me, Scary People All Rolled Into One, and Getting Poorer by the Day).

Sometime during the Reagan Administration it seemed as if the empire had consumed all of its major components and everyone of importance had signed on. This included the government, business, the military and the media. All of the power and wealth of the US was going in the same direction. With the unions made ineffectual and the two party system unified in its support of the aspirations for military and economic global hegemony, it appeared that nothing stood in the way of the most grandiose of plans.

The official announcement of the empire’s global aspirations came with George Bush I proclamation of his vision of a New World Order. His “thousand points of light” mystical rhetoric had some people misinterpret him to be inferring that we were heading towards building a balanced global community. The phrasing of New World Order was not a mistake and the goal of a hierarchical global state run by a small band of military/financial leaders began to quickly take shape.

Yet, a New World Order on a global scale becomes difficult when a great disparity of wealth exists amongst the labor pool. The economic disparity was supposed to be between the small sliver of forgers of the New World Order and the billions of people they hold dominion over. The dream of a global World Order would have to wait until the workers of all nations had the same basic standard of living and wealth.

In order for the global masses to be of the same economic and social class, the wages and standard of living of people living in the emerging and third world nations needed to catch up to those living in the industrial states. Yet, for these nations to catch up to the standard of living of the US and European middle class would take decades, and this also would cut into the lavish wealth of the designers of the New World Order.

In order to preserve and expand the wealth of the few and shorten the process of having the workers of all nations have a similar standard of living it became necessary for the US to begin dismantling the middle class of itself and its European allies. Since the 80’s one can notice a severe and geometrically progressing growth in the disparity between the wealthy and the common man. Each year the ranks of the wealthy shrink and those of the poor swell, as a higher percentage of wealth is held by fewer and fewer hands.

Even though it became relatively obvious to me in the 80’s that the American middle class had become the target of the wealthy power structure, the seeds were planted far earlier. Since the Red Scare of the 50’s one could see the partnership of government, intelligence agencies, and corporate and financial elite becoming stronger and more organized. The front and disinformation groups used to create instability abroad came home to win public support for empire building through fear and patriotism.

Globalism a Prequel

The great onslaught of social change fostered through the peace, civil rights, workers, women’s, ecological and student movements were sidetracked and demonized by a slew of bogus front groups, disinformation networks, and unrelenting media attacks. These groups lost their focus, were infiltrated, and sold on false agendas by well crafted public perceptual management campaigns the likes the world had never previously seen.

Almost every movement lost much of its unity through the emergence of extremist splinter groups, and from the deaths and murders of many of their most valuable leaders and icons. Influential factions of movements were bought out, corrupted and pitted against each other with impressive consistency.

The change of focus in the Women’s Movement was particularly glaring. What started out as a quality of life and consciousness raising movement designed to free not only women, but to insure the rights of all people, was quickly transformed into a movement mainly concerned with jobs and equal pay, thereby creating a divisive competition between men and women. Even if one were to minimize the role of the CIA in the funding and patronage of Gloria Steinem and other key figures and publications in the Women’s movement, one would still have to figure some outside influences helped guide the movement away from non-commercial issues.

While most of the movements lost their soul and became about the prestige of gross materialism and consumerism, none had a more dramatic effect on society than the Women’s movement. The economic elite not only killed the integrity of the movements but found a way to use them in their grand plan for global economy where few own almost everything. In a matter of years after the Women’s movement became about pay and jobs the government and financial elite had restructured society in such a way that a two income family had a standard of living only slightly above the one income family of a decade prior. Now, for most American’s two paycheck families actually are financially worse off than the one paycheck family of the 50’s and 60’s.

The Attack Gets Personal

Over the last decade in particular you can see the increasingly organized systematic extraction of wealth and assets from the American and European middle class occurring with great alacrity. This is being accomplished by a middle class being squeezed by high interest rates on credit cards from above while not being able to save money from below with interest rates hovering near zero for the last decade. Couple this with stagnation or regression in wages occurring at the same time as jumps in food and energy costs and you have a middle class struggling to survive. The situation becomes dire when you add the fact that most middle class individuals are mired in debt and with a growing percent of people losing or in danger of losing their homes.

Even in the late 90’s I began to fear that debt accumulation was being used as a tool to dismantle the US and European middle classes and I developed a few theories of how this would get played out. In a previous post “The Debt Endgame: A Theory” I wrote the following:

Whether this debt situation was by accident or design the question became what does a society do when its citizens carry unserviceable debt? The lending policies of the US, the World Bank and the IMF have often put developing nations into the same scenario that the US consumer now finds itself in. What did the US do when debtor nations became overwhelmed in debt?

The short answer is that the above agencies usually found a way to cut a deal allowing a portion or all of the debt of a developing nation to be pardoned. Usually this process involved an exchange in which debt was forgiven for ownership or assets and resources. The US government or US corporations usually became the owners of resources like oil, or cash crops such as bananas or coffee in return for a release from debt.

The essay goes on to pose how house foreclosures, bankruptcy and unserviceable debt could be used as tools to repossess almost all assets and have people accept deep cuts in pay in exchange for forgiving some of their debt. In this way the success of the World Bank and IMF in gaining ownership and control of assets could be replicated in dismantling the middle class and ushering in the age of the New World Order.

When I first came across these ideas I shared them friends and acquaintances who generally felt that I was giving the elite too much credit in their organization and objectives. Even though I too shared some of their doubts regarding how it would all play out, I felt it a little naive to think that the richest and most ambitious were not devoting themselves to maximize their interests.

In my previous post Getting Poorer By The Day I mentioned how I felt relatively safe and well positioned due to the fact that I had no debt and that I was on schedule to reach to retirement goals. Yet, though I anticipated the stock market crash of 2008 and the housing and debt debacle I did not see how I was still vulnerable to be a victim of the ambitions of the architects of the New World Order.

First, I did not realize how difficult it would become to save money in a prolonged no interest environment. Second, I didn’t fully appreciate how difficult it would be to make money in the volatile stock market. Three, I did not realize how quickly living expenses would catch up to our stagnant wages making savings a more rare accomplishment. All of these misconceptions were based on the fact that I had anticipated the market rally to be shorter and that a deflationary depression was imminent (I still believe deflation is inevitable).

Yet, what I really didn’t see coming is the additional means that the ambitious New World Order crowd were going to use to destroy the middle class and extract almost all residual wealth. I had no idea that they were not going to stop until they drained my and almost any non-elite savings until they owned and controlled almost all assets.

The Globalist Snowball Gains Momentum

Here are some of the actions and proposals which are making me nervous. In the two previous posts I mentioned the bill gaining momentum which would place a 15% tax on all retirement plans. Second I also discussed how the massive printing of money (liquidity) makes all those who don’t get bailouts or free loans poorer by reducing the purchase power of money while transferring trillions of dollars into the hands of a privileged few.

During the so called financial crisis the Federal Reserve secretly printed and handed out 9 trillion dollars. Six trillion of it went to just three institutions and near 8 trillion of it went to just six institutions. It is impossible to fathom 9 trillion dollars and how much it dilutes our money supply, and thereby erodes each and every taxpayer of what little wealth they have.

Nine trillion dollars comes out to about $30,000 per person in the US. In the US 50% of US households make less than $50,000 a year, and the average household has 2.59 people in it. This means that the average households fair share of the printed money was about $80,0000. If your household, as did almost everyone’s, got no money than you actually got substantially poorer as all this money found its way into a few well manicured hands.

The disparity of wealth is reaching an unfathomable stratosphere. The majority of us standing pat are getting passed by and becoming increasingly impoverished by the day. The middle class is far from the middle. In the vast sea of wealth the middle class now hovers a few feet from the ocean floor and are sinking daily. The big fish that swim at the seas top are few and becoming fewer. The ocean and all its bounty is there’s to do what they wish.

The latest threat of a government shutdown and its debate have unearthed some more details on the unfolding assault on the American middle class. First, the rhetoric surrounding plans to raid social security and other entitlement programs has reached a fevered pitch. On two consecutive days I read articles saying that the IMF and Bill Gross of PIMCO stating an absolute necessity of the government cutting back all entitlements by 35%. The IMF also advised that tax rates of the middle class needed to be substantially raised (near 25%).

What is being said here is that our government has no choice but to not give us back the money they owe us which they took out of our paychecks. We are being told that they must renege on their promise to give us back the 16% they took out to provide a safety net for our future. Likewise, those of us with retirement plans could lose a substantial portion to immediate taxes and an even larger portion may have to vanish because of corporate mismanagement of our retirement funds. The bill proposals getting the most air time during the debt ceiling debate focused on the possibility of raising taxes on the middle class while lowering the taxes of the top tier.

Our attention was drawn away from the realities of where we are heading by the silly prospect of a government shut down being caused by ideological differences over how to cut between 30 to 40 billion dollars from the budget. The debated proposed budget cuts were a less than 5% of what needs to be cut just to keep us from running up more national debt. Well, actually that only tends to averting adding to our yearly debt, but still wouldn’t tend to the interest accruing on our national debt.

The debate was little more than diversionary theater designed to have the politicians look like they were defending their principle’s, by fighting the good fight. Republican’s voted in for reform were attacking supposed liberal programs and causes, and Democrats were posing themselves as defending the personal freedoms of women and the elderly. The Republicans were trying to stop the spending and strike a blow for righteous morality, and the Democrats were making sure the poor and vulnerable were protected.

I’m pretty sure the bulk of the debate centered on how to keep the status quo while appearing to be bold and radical. The true deal forged had more to due with public perception and little to do with substance. The deal reached was a way for both parties to save face with their voters by appearing to fight for their best interests and in the end making the minimal amount of concessions to prevent the “disaster” of a government shut down. One politician called the highly dramatic 11th hour deal “historic”, I think it more accurately could be labeled “histrionic”.

While taxing the middle class and taking away services for the poor are “on the table” and in the spotlight, the big ticket items that could actually have a positive impact on balancing the budget and reducing our national debt are off limits. If the agenda were about stimulating the economy and reducing our national debt than we would be talking about taxing corporations and the wealthy, creating real job programs and reducing our military budget. If we wanted to help restore and rejuvenate the US middle class than we would be talking about either stop the printing of additional money, or making sure that all printed monies go to the poor and the middle class and not a penny to the financial elite.

Globalism and the Land of the Greed

Our politicians are fond of saying that America is a special place and American’s are special people. We are beacons of freedom and opportunity for the entire globe. We are the globe’s moral leaders and without our guidance the flame of freedom and human dignity would surely go out.
Yet, how can rectify the view of our being the land of free and good people with the fact that we lead the world in incarceration, and that we imprison a larger percentage of our populace than any nation on the planet. We lead the world in the percentage of non-violent criminals being imprisoned. How is that freedom, how is that a recognition of the world’s most moral and good citizens?

If we lived up to our words regarding freedom, human rights, equality and national sovereignty we could balance our budget without any need to deny workers what they have earned and promised or take away services from the poor and sickly. We are not a poor nation, only a nation with policies and priorities which have a few own and control almost everyone and everything.

Through taxing corporations, and the wealthy, cutting back military expenditures, and having prisons house only those that are truly a threat to the welfare of others we could quickly balance the budget and significantly reduce national and global debt. Yet, without doing these things the road we are on will not be reversed.

We are on the road to a globalism based on disparity and dominion. The people of my recent post Scary People All Rolled Into One, are in charge and will not stop until they own everything and everyone. Yet, their final vision will not happen without our tacit consent or loyal support.

I always thought I could stay away from the fray

Carve out a safe space and stay out of their way

 Now I’m not so sure, due to what is happening today

Yet I’m always waiting to listen to what you have to say

Jim Guido

Economics and Social Issues and Stock Market09 Apr 2011 05:27 pm

I have lived a frugal life, making little but spending even less. I never incurred debt other than a mortgage and I paid that off as quickly as possible. My wife has been a good bread winner and “went without” a number of years to help us stay out of debt and save for the future. Though we saved we still are far from being able to retire comfortably even if we were to receive the majority of what we paid into social security.

Our long term retirement plan has suffered due to a lengthy restriction on the average person’s ability to save money. The game has changed drastically over the last few years as we see our relative wealth diminish on a daily basis.

A little over a decade ago my wife and I felt we were in great shape. We had paid off our mortgage in about 1/3 of the time it was suppose to take, saving us hundreds of thousands of dollars. (When we realized that the interest on our 30 year mortgage would have caused us to pay over $400,000 for a 130,000 home we payed it off as quickly as we could, thereby, paying about 150,000 instead of 400,000).

After paying off our mortgage we continued to put all we could afford into savings and retirement plans. Soon, we got to a point where through the miracle of compound interest we could basically stop saving and just let our “equity” build through interest. During my life bank and CD rates generally ran between 5 and 8% with peaks of near 18% and lows down to about 3%. Due to this historic range we made our plans based on expectations of averaging a modest 5% per year.

Around this time our son started college and we did our best to pay for his education without borrowing money or taking money out of our nest egg. Yet, towards the middle of his college years and since it has been impossible to save money due to the historically low and historically prolonged low interest rates. This has caused our nest egg to stop growing and linger at a range far below what we need to retire on.

Like many American’s our retirement needs have kind of forced us into taking money out of CD’s and money markets and into the stock market. Statistics show that over 80% of the people who actively invest in the stock market lose money. Considering this recent fact of the stock market of the last decade or so, we have done well to stay at or slightly above the flat line.

Wealth is relative, and a hundred dollars today is worth far less than a hundred dollars of a couple of decades ago. Therefore, due to inflation, unless you’re net worth is increasing you are becoming poorer. Yet, in today’s economic environment we are dealing with more erosion to our wealth than standard inflation.
When trillions of dollars are being printed and entered into our economy we either get our portion of that money or we are becoming poorer. Since the Federal Reserve is not sending you a check every day they print money you can safely assume you are getting poorer.

The truth of the matter is very few people are getting any part of the trillions of dollars being poured into the economy. In theory, the printed money is supposed to go to banks and businesses who will use that money for loans and businesses expansions leading to more high paying jobs which will “stimulate” the economy and the additional wealth will “trickle down” to the majority of people in society.

The majority of newly printed money going to banks is not being lent out to the average citizen who is finding it harder and harder to get a loan. And the majority of businesses who are getting this money through bailouts or loans are not using it to create new jobs or expand their operations. Businesses are reluctant to increase production or raise inventories when consumers are in debt, bankrupt and in danger of losing their homes.

Well then, you may ask, where are these mind boggling amounts of money going? There are a number of huge corporations and billionaires who are reportedly hoarding or “sitting on” cash. Yet, despite a slow growth economy with a high unemployment rate how are corporations claiming record profits?

Here is one possible explanation. Okay, lets start at the beginning. If I am a bank or a large corporation I can borrow money for shorter durations at anywhere from 1% to as little as 1/4 of 1%. Even for loans of a year or more I can borrow it at ridiculously low interest rates.

Now, I can take that money, and use it up by expanding operations and hiring workers, or I can use that money to buy other nations bonds that are paying 5% for the same amount of time that I’m borrowing it at around 1%.

Okay, so if I expanded my business and hired additional workers I would increase my overhead and would be in danger of losing money or failing if the economy didn’t pick up or if people chose to pay off their debt instead of buying my products. So, unless the entire economy picked up, I would probably stand to lose money and not be able to pay off my loan even considering its low rate. And, if most people except the biggest corporations are being denied loans then I can be reasonably assured the general economy is not going to bounce back, and I will not get a return on my investment.

Yet, if I take a loan for 1 million at 1% and I use it to buy a bond for the same duration earning 5%, than I can use the 50,000 of interest to pay off the 10,000 of interest I got from the bank, and claim the remaining 40,000 as profit. Like a good shampoo, you can lather and rinse over and over again. As, long as there are countries with higher interest rates than the US I can borrow money from the US and buy other nation’s or even businesses bonds and make a sizable profit.

Summarizing this process so far, by borrowing money at low rates and buying financial instruments with higher interest rates I can generate a significant profit margin. During this time I can keep operations relatively flat, keeping overhead down by producing the same amount of products with the same number of workers. So, despite no actual growth in business I can make greater profits.

Yet, for a corporation willing to do this, the good times don’t end there. Shortly before I announce my excellent rise in profits to the media, I can increase the number of shares I own and sell those shares soon after the market’s positive response to our business growth. I can explain this growth through some obtuse combination of increased foreign consumption, stealth growth in the local economy, and some good news in “the pipeline”.

In a world of low interest rates, mounting consumer debt, and the practice of trying to avert recessions and financial crises through the endless printing of money, it becomes possible and even logical for businesses to seek to remove consumers from the business equation. For those of you skeptical that what I’m describing is happening, I would encourage you to look back at the performance of the stock market on days in which the Fed made statements inferring that low interest rates were continuing or that data came out showing a need for low interest rates.

My theory also could end the confusion of you market watchers who have been baffled by how often the market skyrockets on the day real poor economic data is reported. Interest rates will stay low as long as the economy struggles. Oddly enough a true economic recovery would probably destroy the impressive stock market rally that has been occurring over the last two years since the “economic crisis” was “solved” by the beginning of bailouts and “quantitative easing”.

Yet, even if my theory is a bit off or its use exaggerated, there is no doubt that the bulk of the money being printed is finding its way into the hands of a very small fraction of the populace, who already own a disproportionate percentage of our nations wealth. It is also safe to state that this money is not filtering down to the rest of us. In fact, it is safe to say that each day the gap between the rich and poor is widening, and that the American middle class is shrinking and we are fast becoming an economy which we would have previously considered to be third world.

We, the majority of Americans, are truly becoming poorer by the day.

In my next post I’ll combine these ideas with the previous two posts regarding people who scare me to describe why I think we need to look at systemic change that needs to look beyond the Democratic/Republican theater which is being used to distract, divide and confuse the populace.

Jim Guido

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