polistra

 
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  • in reply to: 2016 Is An Easy Year To Predict #25871

    polistra
    Participant

    Well, what’s wrong with deflation? Deflation is The Revenge Of The Savers. Deflation is Nature’s restitution, requiring the thieves to give back what they stole from honest people.

    in reply to: The EU Uses Every Crisis To Grab More Power #23818

    polistra
    Participant

    Having national borders is NOT BIGOTRY. Nations work much better than empires, especially nations that correspond to a single ethnic group. This is just a PLAIN OBSERVED FACT. If you want to do without nations, then you WILL have empires like EU and US. There is no middle ground.

    in reply to: What Happens When Economists Talk Politics #22797

    polistra
    Participant

    “Cleaning lady” is exactly what I’ve been thinking. It was clear from the start that V is an academic type who is accustomed to overrating his own abilities. He thought he could win by plotting and drawing an academic map. He was up against brutes who don’t use maps or laws.

    A stubborn hardass old codger or granny would have done the job properly. Someone who has been spat on and kicked by Krauts since 1946.

    I don’t know if there’s a Greek word for babushka, but that’s who they needed.

    in reply to: The Number One Lesson From Athens #22710

    polistra
    Participant

    Agree with commenter Arnold.

    When you’re dealing with a wildly insane monster like EU or US, the FIRST STEP is to GET AWAY from the monster.

    Tsipras and Varoufakis blew it by confusedly trying to be INSIDE the belly of the beast and OUTSIDE of its influence. It’s physically and logically impossible. If you’re inside, you’re digested and metabolized.

    Your only chance of survival is to claw your way OUT. Then you’ll be able to manage your own affairs, make your own deals with other countries for mutual advantage, whatever is needed.

    in reply to: Europe’s Controlled Demolition #22012

    polistra
    Participant

    I think you’re misdiagnosing the problem. Successful leaders need to be part psychopath because a successful nation needs to harm OTHER NATIONS sometimes.

    The problem with modern organizations is not that their leaders are psychopaths, it’s the feedback loop that gives the p-path his motivation.

    In an old-fashioned business, profit is the feedback. The p-path maximizes his power by maximizing the profit, which means he has to satisfy both customers and employees.

    In a modern business, share value is the feedback. The p-path maximizes his power by all sorts of manipulations, which means he doesn’t need customers or employees at all.

    In a functional nation, prosperity and security are the feedback flows. The p-path leader maximizes his power by doing whatever it takes to make his PEOPLE safe from internal and external threats, and to make them contented with his leadership.

    In a modern nation like USA, the people do not exist. The leader responds to a few plutocrats who hold blackmail power over him. He maximizes his power by satisfying these plutocrats.

    Finally, in an international monster like EU or IMF or FIFA, pure power for the leader himself is the only thing that counts. These monsters don’t have customers or employees or people, so prosperity and contentment are irrelevant. They only have a bureaucracy that seeks to maximize its own size and power. This obviously helps to select the most severe and abnormal psychopaths as leaders, but it’s only a matter of degree.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle May 22 2015 #21219

    polistra
    Participant

    Semi-serious thought on ‘metabolic syndrome’…. Are we accumulating fat because our bodies know a collapse is coming? Other animals and plants do this, why not humans?

    in reply to: Why Not Tell Greece How To Run A Democracy? #21070

    polistra
    Participant

    Well said. Greece has plenty of potential in basic economic terms. It produces more electricity and petroleum than it needs, so it doesn’t need a Sugar Daddy for the essentials.

    The numbers show the problem: Only 15% of the economy is industrial, and the hydropower potential is relatively untapped.

    Greece has fallen into the habit of being a tourist destination instead of Making Things.

    When you rely on tourists, you have to be nice to other countries. When you Make Things, other countries have to be nice to you.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle May 7 2015 #20936

    polistra
    Participant

    The chart of minimum wage doesn’t say anything. The countries at each end of the chart are an uncorrelated mix of equal and unequal places. Czechoslovakia, supposedly at the ‘bad’ end of the chart, doesn’t have a wide division. Britain, supposedly at the ‘good’ end, does have a wide disparity.

    The real problem has nothing to do with legal minimum wage. The real problem is TYPICAL wage for a low-skilled worker. In the US during its 50 years of industrialized equality, it was possible for an ordinary man to make 3 x minimum. That was enough to support a wife and kids decently. Now the ordinary man, if he’s working at all, makes 2 x minimum. Not enough to support a family.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle April 23 2015 #20659

    polistra
    Participant

    I don’t know why so many leftists are enamored of Bitcoin. It’s the exact opposite of an autonomous currency. It depends purely on the Web, which has always been run for the benefit of NSA; and it depends on encryption, which is NSA’s top specialty. Bitcoin is NOT ‘off the grid’; it’s even more tightly coupled to the grid than previous systems.

    There are three ways to increase autonomy. Local scrip based on labor is ideal but very hard to achieve. Good old paper rectangles are the easiest. Clearing-house systems like hawala are probably the most effective. Hawala is really just pre-telegraph banking, where each bank keeps track of its debits and credits for a long time, then makes a physical exchange of actual rectangles with each counterparty bank at INFREQUENT intervals.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle April 6 2015 #20352

    polistra
    Participant

    Beppo’s piece is refreshingly realistic. I think he may be a little too pessimistic on manufacturing. Italian cars have a deservedly bad reputation, but Italian furniture and office machinery has always been excellent. Nothing beats Olivetti. Within the Fourth Reich, Germany has made sure no other country can compete with German manufacturing. Outside of those pressures, Italy COULD reassert its superior design and quality. (“Could” doesn’t mean “will”, of course.)

    in reply to: Iceland To Take Back The Power To Create Money #20226

    polistra
    Participant

    I don’t think the location of money creation matters nearly as much as the event which causes value to increase.

    The real problem is not that banks can increase the supply; the problem is that LOANS are the event that triggers creation.

    Loans do not create value. Labor and investment are the sources of value, whether the investment came from borrowing or from saving. And it’s tremendously better for everyone when the investment comes from saving.

    Ideally the banks (or some other agency) should increase money supply whenever they see a transaction that increases REAL VALUE. Part of this mechanism already exists in many countries. The VAT registers creations of value. If banks can increase the supply of money to match the numbers given by VAT, we’d have a real-value system.

    in reply to: Ukraine, Neocons and Neonazis #19651

    polistra
    Participant

    Nudelman created the war. Nudelman invaded Ukraine. Now Nudelman accuses Putin of invading Ukraine and NOBODY QUESTIONS HER.

    Chutzpah isn’t nearly strong enough. Gigachutzpah? Terachutzpah? Exachutzpah?

    in reply to: When Centralization Scales Beyond Our Control #19535

    polistra
    Participant

    I share your hopelessness in general, but schools may point to a way out of this mess. Universities are completely lost, totally devoted to evil; but public schools in smaller American cities are changing in positive ways. They’re focusing on job-relevant skills instead of rote memorization, and they’re starting to pick up discovery-based learning in science.

    This happened because private and religious schools, and home schooling, grew so large that public schools in many places lost half their students and were trending toward complete loss.

    Which raises the question: How can we develop similar “mammals” to outcompete the “dinosaurs” in those other areas like universities and NATO?

    I think the answer to NATO is already coming, with the old Ottoman Empire and Russian Empire regrowing and joining forces. NATO was meant to include those Ottoman countries like Hungary and Turkey, but now they’re moving East. This may also undermine some of the financial forces like WTO, but that’s not as clear.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 27 2015 #19517

    polistra
    Participant

    “Only one quarter plan to retire” … the survey doesn’t agree with reality.

    A couple years ago Social Security’s website showed that 75% of people who turned 62 that year were starting SS at 62. Not exactly the same thing as “retiring”, but a good indication that most people were done with full-time jobs at 62, either by choice or by force.

    in reply to: The Elegant Simplicity Of The Greek Conundrum #19220

    polistra
    Participant

    I don’t think the US as fiscal union analogy works well. Two separate counterarguments:

    1. Greece and the richer parts of Europe were running exactly the same games in 1947, before the EU was formed.

    https://polistrasmill.blogspot.com/2012/05/latest-from-greece.html

    2. Most of the time the federal system DOESN’T smooth out the differences between New York and Nebraska.

    This happened only once, under FDR. He saw that New York speculators had created not only the industrial depression but the agricultural Dust Bowl. From 1914 to 1929, NYC had been driving businesses and farmers elsewhere into unsustainable debt so NYC could own everything. Good old LBO as always, just like Germany and Greece.

    FDR stopped the speculators and rebuilt the agricultural areas so they could be self-sustaining again.

    After FDR, the national admin reverted to the old practice of starving everyone else to fatten NYC. Fortunately, some of the bureaucracies that FDR had built to protect farmers remained in place, but other types of business lost their protections.

    in reply to: It’s Greece vs Wall Street #18811

    polistra
    Participant

    Maybe you’ve spotted this already, but it’s significant:

    https://rt.com/business/228311-croatia-erases-debt-poorest/

    While ‘new-fashioned” Syriza continues to talk and waver, “old-fashioned” Croatia has actually DONE SOMETHING. It declared a JUBILEE for about 60,000 of its poorest people. The government worked with creditors to erase their debts entirely, giving those people a fresh start.

    JUBILEE!

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 21 2015 #18551

    polistra
    Participant

    I call bull on Anderson’s property tax rant. Property tax is the ONLY common tax that penalizes false value and bubbles. If you’re benefitting from false value acquired through speculation, you deserve to pay a price for violating the basic natural law that Value = Labor.

    A capital gains tax does the same thing to some extent, but it only affects the ‘middling rich’ types who invest in stock and don’t own an army of accountants to rig the system.

    Property tax places a bubble-damper on just about everyone.

    in reply to: The Only Road Out Of Davos #18514

    polistra
    Participant

    I think a lot of older people still understand this point. We remember making things and getting paid well for it. We remember when “Buy American” would have been a nonsensical slogan. (Duh! What else is there?)

    Younger folks who have grown up with pure Free-Trade propaganda don’t understand. They are told to imagine higher prices as the penalty of Protectionism, and they are correctly repelled by that side of the equation when presented on its own. They aren’t allowed to imagine receiving more money in their paychecks.

    in reply to: I Follow Charlie #18210

    polistra
    Participant

    The silly idea that French are “surrenderers” was wildly false from the start. French are just a bit more practical than Anglos. They fought hard in WW1, and in WW2 only the government surrendered. The civilians didn’t surrender, and the parts of the French Army and Navy that were outside the immediate control of the government operated courageously on the Allied side. This was properly reported by our press during WW2 but we’ve forgotten it since.

    in reply to: Oil, Power and Psychopaths #18076

    polistra
    Participant

    Escobar seems to get it right. Simple fact: Russia never forgot how to run a REAL-VALUE ECONOMY. I don’t think they’d need to ‘reverse-engineer’ very much. Their own engineers have always been excellent.

    Recently I bought and opened up a couple of 1985-ish Russian electronic gadgets, made near the end of the Soviet period.

    https://polistrasmill.blogspot.com/2014/10/happy-birthday-sputnik-part-2.html

    I was impressed by the cleverness and SOLIDNESS of the designs. Also, the devices were assembled by hand in Russia, giving real jobs to real Russians who clearly took pride in their work. The assemblers were just as clever as the engineers.

    America had already handed over consumer electronics jobs to Japan in the 1960s.

    There are big advantages to “lagging behind” in technology, and especially “lagging behind” in economic and industrial arrangements. I don’t know if Russia has lost these advantages by now, but they were certainly present in the ’80s.

    in reply to: Things To Do In 2015 When You’re Not Yet Dead #17900

    polistra
    Participant

    I don’t think large amounts of money are the main variable. In fact lack of money is the key.

    ZIRP, environmentalism and Free Trade work together to keep money away from ordinary people who might threaten the system.

    When you can’t save up a nestegg, you’re insecure. You have to go along with the powerful to keep your job, and you have to go along with The Market to earn money for a moment, only to lose it later.

    When you’re a young male of ordinary intelligence, you can’t find a job that pays enough to support a family. You have to rely on welfare, which means you have to obey the government.

    When nobody feels secure enough to operate outside the corporations and the Market and the welfare system, no independent centers of power can grow.

    Add the manipulative and blackmail power of TV, and the lockdown is complete.

    in reply to: You Thought The Saudis Were Kidding? #17772

    polistra
    Participant

    ” It would also include a lot of ugliness in the US shale patch, with a great loss of jobs.. ”

    You’ve got a major point there. Oil booms always provide an outlet for young ambitious dudes with physical skills. This oil boom is different because there are NO OTHER OUTLETS for such men. Previously they could go back home and find decent physical jobs. Those back-home jobs didn’t pay as much as oil work, but they were a lot more comfortable. Now they’ll go home to long-term unemployment. Not a good sign for law and order.

    in reply to: The Biggest Economic Story Going Into 2015 Is Not Oil #17629

    polistra
    Participant

    Food is the more likely source of a big war.

    I’m confident Russia will get through this. It has all the food and energy resources it needs, and it’s underpopulated. If Putin can mobilize the old collective instinct (which predates Marx) to strengthen industries and agriculture, Russia will be fine. They know how to be self-sufficient.

    China is the real problem. It doesn’t have all the resources it needs, and it’s overpopulated. It has two distinct colonial empires: One in Africa to get food, and one in America to sell cheap crap.

    China thus depends crucially on currency exchange and long-distance shipping. Anything that disrupts those two factors could cause big problems for everybody.

    in reply to: We’re Not In Kansas Anymore #17549

    polistra
    Participant

    You mention that Putin and Maduro are unlikely to get bailed out. The same goes for most of the oil industry. Do you think any New Yorker would go along with bailing out Halliburton and Koch? Those are Names Of The Devil to a New Yorker.

    But I wouldn’t worry too much about the oil industry. They’ve been handling booms and busts for more than 100 years, much deeper and more frequent bubbles than any other industry. They know the routine, and the cities and states where oil has been a major player also know the routine.

    Only North Dakota is new to the oil game, but I’m not overly worried about them either. ND has been operating its government like an old-fashioned bank since statehood. Maintain a large reserve, don’t borrow or speculate, try to make a steady profit.

    Or in one sentence, Kansas may not be Kansas now, but Oklahoma is still Oklahoma.

    in reply to: The Most Elementary Question Must Not Be Asked #17236

    polistra
    Participant

    Growth itself is not a bad goal. The problem is that we’re seeking growth in the <i>wrong variables.</i>

    Corporations aim solely to grow share value, which leads to crime and destruction. Before 1980 when corporations were trying to maximize <i>profit</i> instead of share value, their behavior was less atrocious. You have to keep real customers and real employees happy to maximize profit.

    Governments aim solely to grow GDP, which leads to crime and destruction. If they were seeking instead to grow <i>stored value</i>, their behavior would be less evil. By stored value I mean stored resources, stored money, preserved culture, and above all human capital (healthy and well-trained workers). When you maximize these stored values, you are attracting decent employers and insuring that you can survive tough times.

    in reply to: If Oil Can Drop 40%, What’s Gold Going To Do? #17033

    polistra
    Participant

    I wouldn’t assume that the referenda are “poorly worded”. Referenda, like bills in Parliament, can be written to encourage passage or to guarantee failure. It depends on who’s doing the writing. Deceptively “positive” referenda, written by disguised opponents of the proposal, are common.

    in reply to: Making Money While The World Burns #16714

    polistra
    Participant

    Pure individual self-sufficiency isn’t a good answer. For people with SOME extra income and influence, a better answer is to help set up and support local distribution systems for food and money and manufacturing. Nothing mysterious or magic, just return to the pre-1970 “granularity” of business arrangements and power grids. Assume the US government will collapse but county gov’ts and some state gov’ts will remain.

    Unfortunately the city gov’ts in US are not going to help. Many, perhaps most, have been quietly taken over by Michael Bloomberg. Most mayors are now Bloombots. They serve the Casino above all, which means they favor free trade, financialism, Gaia-worship, and universal surveillance.

    in reply to: How Do You Feel About Child Poverty? #16313

    polistra
    Participant

    The solution is simple. MAKE THINGS.

    The UNICEF report shows an instructive comparison between Greece and its neighbors.

    Greece is among the “most affected” (ie worst child poverty, worst change since 2008) while neighbors Bulgaria and Turkey are “least affected”. All are in the same geography, and share the same post-Ottoman history to some extent.

    What’s the big difference?

    Data from CIA Country Factbook shows:

    Greek economy is 16% industrial.
    Bulgarian economy is 30% industrial.
    Turkish economy is 27% industrial.

    Bulgaria and Turkey have focused on industrial policy, which means they have jobs that ordinary men can do. Greece has not focused on industrial jobs.


    polistra
    Participant

    “Segregation by race has always remained inevitably linked to segregation by wealth and income. As a hugely disproportionate number of black kids continue to be incarcerated under a prison system that locks away more citizens than in any other country.”

    This is true in recent years, but it’s NOT historically or “always” true.

    Before 1950, black neighborhoods included plenty of prosperous blacks. A black laborer was likely to live near a black doctor, while a white laborer lived far away from white doctors. This meant that black communities were ‘complete’. The morality and work ethic of middle-class business owners influenced lower-class blacks. Result: Low unemployment, low criminality. A close look at the 1940 Census shows this clearly.

    After 1954, old black neighborhoods were demolished and black schools were eliminated. Prosperous blacks moved into white areas, and the black lower class was left without any role models or moral influences that it could understand. After 1980, your friends the environmentalists conspired with capitalists to eliminate manufacturing from American cities. This eliminated the jobs that had enabled lower-class blacks to move up the economic ladder.

    Result: What we see now.


    polistra
    Participant

    Two of those suggestions are important. Cleaning out banks is what FDR did in 1933, and it worked. Breaking up EU is obviously needed.

    But getting money out of politics is neither possible nor important.

    The US national election system has been a bad idea from the start. Commentators in the 1850’s were describing the Presidential election as “imaginary”.

    Look at a controlled experiment: Canada and US started with the same people and same system. Canada kept Parliament, US chose a new system. Now Canada is better off, more adaptable, more able to roll with the punches. When problems come up, Canada can solve them.

    US is absolutely frozen in place, unable to do anything remotely sane. Vast amounts of money pour into the two political brands, which are identical.

    They’d still be identical without the money, and the system would still be completely broken without the money.

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