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Are conservative Christian theology and liberal politics compatible?
Monday, 13 October 2008
A disgruntled Republican's problem with this election
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

I've been a Republican for a long time--basically since I first voted in 1974.  I've been a party activist.  I was a precinct committeman for ten years.  Yet I'm not thrilled about the choices I'm offered in this election.  Both of the candidates have major problems for me.  As I will explain in greater detail below, I have come to realize that, when the "free market" rhetoric is stripped away,  the traditional Republican economic approach, which John McCain represents and supports, is really not so much that we ought to deregulate as that we ought to merely change the manner in which some highly regulated market sectors that affect us all intimately are regulated.  The traditional (at least since President Reagan) Republican approach is to change the regulations in favor of the wealthy and the corporations, eliminating protections for ordinary people in the hope that, as the corporations get richer, they will allow some of their wealth (derived from the labors of ordinary statistics) to "trickle down." My economic outlook has, thus, become closer to the Democrats.  However, on the big moral social issues, I'm much closer to the Republican positions.   But I find that the only way to have the one is to completely sell out the other.  The specific liabilities I see in the candidates' positions are set forth below:

Barack Obama's Liabilities

1. Position on Abortion. Sen. Obama openly supports abortion.  This is a big problem for me.  Of course the rhetoric used sounds SO good.  He  (and, in his defense, everyone in the official Democratic camp) wants to protect a "woman's right to choose."  However, here it is important to note the exact language used by abortion supporters.  You never hear an abortion supporter say that they want to protect "a woman's right to choose WHETHER to have an abortion."  Rather, what the Democratic Party wants to protect is a "woman's right TO HAVE an abortion."  It's conceived of as not being in many cases a "yes or no" choice, but simply as a "yes or very yes" choice.  Women who might want an abortion must be protected by law from any influence that might change their minds.   

The reason for this is quite simple.  Behind the rhetoric of protecting a woman's (one-sided) choice in the matter is the reality that what we are really protecting is the abortion provider's God-given constitutional right to market his or her services free of any interfering regulation.  This shows quite clearly in the Supreme Court decisions on the subject and also in the types of legislation that are said to impermissibly burden a  woman's right to choose.  Any requirement that might limit the sales appeals made by provider representatives or that move a woman to change her mind is too big a burden on the right.  So, for all the Democrats' fine rhetoric on this issue, it is plain to me that what they are in reality fighting so hard to protect is not women's rights but the economic interests of the abortion providers.  This remains a big problem for me in deciding to vote for Sen. Obama.   

2. Possible involvement of his friends in creating the housing bubble and subprime mortgage crisis. This potential problem is explained on a YouTube video at Burning Down the House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis. It appears that Sen. McCain actually attempted to warn of this problem and ssponsored unsuccessfullegislation that might have averted it.  Still, this is a problem of some of Sen. Obama's friends and supporters, not a problem of Sen. Obama himself (he hasn't been in Washington long enough to have much actual involvement).  This is another plus for Sen. McCain, though it isn't a very strong minus for Sen. Obama.

3.  Inexperience.

4. Possible threat to freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression. This would actually be my largest objection to Sen. Obama if I could substantiate it.  The Republican organizations and ALL of the religious right assure me that Sen. Obama has supported legislation that could be interpreted to criminalize the advocacy of certain opinions.  Once the camel's nose is in the tent, and the Supreme Court has agreed with Congress that the mere speaking of, say, homophobic opinions should be punished as a crime, there really are no limits on the process.  After homophobic opinions, expressions of Christian faith--which many find offensive--may likewise be prohibited.  Or opposition to the present orthodox position on economic recovery may be declared danerous to economic recovery.  Or opposition to the present methods of the war on terror may be declared terroristic.   But the great danger those in the Christian right point to is that all Christian opinion that isn't in strict agreement with official policy--including, of course, the highly offensive assertion that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way of salvation--outside of church buildings may quite likely be suppressed if some of Sen. Obama's principal supporters have their way. 

I'm not saying that this is what Sen. Obama himself wants to do; indeed, he has issued public statements to the contrary (and, unlike many in the Religious Right, I consider him an honest man and believe him).  Moreover, the Religious Right's evidence that Sen. Obama is a threat to free speech and free exercise of religion consists exclusively of 1) the statements of some of his supporters in the past, usually years before they were involved with him, 2) the observation that he was educated for several years as a child in an Islamic religious school (though he has never professed Islam) and 3) his support of two bills that did not pass Congress, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (HR 3685, 110th Cong., 1st Sess.) and the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S. 1105, 110th Cong., 1st Sess.). 

The problem is that none of these arguments really substantiate the charge that Sen. Obama supports limitations on speech or religious expression.  The past statements of his supporters do not tend to prove his present opinion at all.  His training as a child in an Islamic school does not show that he wants to suppress all non-Islamic religious speech.  We all know many people who have rejected, partially or wholly, the religious instruction of their childhood. Moreover, Sen. Obama's vote for the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill directly contradicts the assertion that he wishes to limit religiuos speech--the hate crimes bill would have made it a federal crime, among other things, to commit an act of willful violence against a person because of his or her religion.  Finally, neither of the two bills offered as evidence have anything to do with speech or religious expression.   ENDA would have prohibited most employers, unions, and employment agencies from discriminating against applicants, members or employees because of their sexual preference, but it would have excluded religious organizations from its coverage.  The Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill would have provided federal penalties and federal assistance with prosecution of violent crimes committed against victims because of their race, religion, disability, sex or sexual orientation, among other classifications.  The bill does not attempt to limit homophobic speech at all, only violent crimes.  Both bills were opposed by the Religious Right because they protected homosexuals.  Both were, unfortunately, falsely labeled as threats to free speech and free exercise of religion when, in fact, they would have had no such effect.  Sen. Obama's vote for them doesn't prove he wants to limit religious speech.  

John McCain's Liabilities 

1.  Position on health care. As I noted in my last entry on this blog, I'm already paying 42% of my net, after-tax income for family health insurance coverage plus the $5,000 per year high deductible.  Sen. McCain's plan would only make this worse.  First of all, by eliminating the tax benefit to my employer for paying for my individual coverage, Sen. McCain would require me to pay for my individual coverage. This would be about $500 extra per month, or $6,000 per year, and would increase the percentage of my net income that would be devoted to health care from 42% to 57%, assuming I was still able to get the same insurance I now have without the employer group.  However, I almost certainly would not be able to get my present coverage without the employer group.  Instead, I'd be required to go purchase an individualpolicy from an insurance company in another state--to be specific, in whatever state has laws that are most friendly to health insurance companies.  (Under Sen. McCain's plan, health insurance companies would operate only in that state; if they're free to write insurance nationwide, what incentive would they have to operate in any other state?).  Individual policies have a cost advantage for young, healthy people.  But I'm an older person with some health problems, and there have also been some health problems in my family.  I would probably not be able to obtain insurance at all.  Sen. McCain's plan would create real problems for me.   

2.  Position on economic recovery.  Sen. McCain's position on economic recovery appears to be more "trickle down."  If we help the rich get richer, we hope they'll let some of the bounty "trickle down" to the peons.  This works moderately well in good times.  But in times of economic distress, it doesn't work well at all.  Like everyone else, the rich get frightened and hold onto what they have tighter. In bad times, it can't be expected to "trickle down."

3.  Position on Iran.  "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," as Sen. McCain joked early in his campaign, just might be the worst mistake this country ever made.  It would start a very expensive war we could not possibly win, even if Iran's new friend Russia didn't come in on their side and "bomb, bomb, bomb" us.  Moreover, the results for the stability of the Islamic world would be catastrophic.  Do we really want World War III?

4.  Support for open-ended commitment to the war in Iraq.

Common Liabilities of Both Candidates

1.  They both voted for the bailout of the wealthy investors, in a plan that gave little or no debt relief to ordinary people, but merely made sure the wealthy won't lose too much money.  I have discussed why I believe this to be both wrong and dangerous in earlier postings on this blog, dated while the measure was still being debated.  It is not yet too late to propose changing the bailout program to provide both debt relief for ordinary people and the kind of basic structural changes that are needed in the ways debt is marketed and used in our economy.  But neither candidate is proposing such reforms.  Both seem interested mainly in giving money to the rich. 

 


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 7:51 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 13 October 2008 9:01 PM EDT
Saturday, 11 October 2008
My health coverage and the presumptions of asinine law
Mood:  irritated
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

Within the last six weeks, there have been two changes in my employer-provided health coverage that, between them, have come close to convincing me that bankruptcy sometime next year may be unavoidable.  Both of them resulted from almost unspeakably stupid assumptions made by legisators enacting laws governing health care and health insurance regarding the amounts everyone who is not in officially-defined "poverty" OUGHT to be able to pay the health care industry.

The first change, which took effect September 1, was a $307 monthly increase in the family coverage portion of my group health insurance premium, the part that is deducted from my paycheck.  This increased our monthly premium from $600 to $907.  (I understand there was a proportionately similar increase in my individual premium, which my employer pays).  At the time of the premium increase, this premium paid for "high deductible" group health insurance with a health savings account (HSA)--the only kind that is tax-deductible to employers under the current stupid law--that doesn't pay a cent in claims until I have paid $4,000 for the year.  The present state of the health insurance industry--which is already nothing even close to a free market--are the cumulative result of laws that have sharply limited the pooling of risks in group helth insurance, such that, except where a multi-employer union contract is involved, only single-employer groups are permitted.  

The second change was announced to me this week.  Due to a recent change in the law--which I understand was either contained in the economic bailout package or related to it in some way--the deductible on my "high deductible" policy (again, the only kind my employer can provide and receive a tax benefit for it) is going to be increasing from $4,000 to $5,000 per year.  So, now my increasingly-expensive health insurance won't pay a cent until I've paid $5,000 for the year. Stated another way, the law presumes that, even though I'm now paying $3,684 more for my health insurance than I did last year, I will nevertheless be able to save $1,000 more to cover deductible charges.

The situation looks even stranger when I put the medical care numbers together with my annual income figures.

My gross salary is $50,000, but my net income, after taxes, is only about $38,000. 

My family coverage health insurance premiums now (assuming no more increases this year) come to $10,904 per year.  And the stupid law presumes I'll be able to save $5,000 on top of that for the benefit of the health care industry.  Thus, the law presumes I will be able to pay a total of $15,904 next year for health care.  THAT'S 42% OF MY NET, AFTER-TAX INCOME.

Thus, the law presumes I'll be able to give the health care industry 42% of my income, and pay my other obligations (first, of course) and live on the other 58%.  My only response to that is a quotation from one of Charles Dickens' characters:

"If the law presumes THAT, the law is an ass, an idiot."


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 12:45 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 October 2008 1:33 PM EDT
Monday, 6 October 2008
OK, I'm not alone in my predictions
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism
OK.  I admit it.  Others with much larger reputations than I have been predicting the present times, at least for the last few years.  Most recently, John Paul Jackson issued a prediction The Coming Perfect Storm in line with what I have been saying.  Some of the other similar predictions are collected at the end of this article.  Of course, I've been saying these things for years, too, but my voice isn't recognized.  I even understand the reason my voice isn't recognized, and explained it on a web page nine years ago, under the title The Authoritarian (Opinion-Maker) Fallacy. Be that as it may, I now present the following pages and sites, some written by me years ago, others written by more widely recognized people more recently, a small sample of what is now a number of sites all pointing in the same direction:

My Pages

Prophecies for America, a collection of quotations from Bible prophecy

A warning against idolatry, first posted October 8, 2000, predicting economic collapse and explaining its real cause.

God says, Trust me with the frightening future.

Notes on the King of Babylon and the Peace of Jerusalem, first posted February 5, 2003, before the start of the Iraq war, explaining why the proposed war in Iraq could not succeed.

Other Christian Authors' Pages

Kim Clement, God says, "I will introduce myself starting in Wall Street and going through the Stock Exchange.

Dr. Sharon Stone, September will convince you that you must connect to His economic system.

Kim Clement's prophecy concerning Obama.

Secular Predictions

Financial Sense University, December 17, 2006,The United States is Insolvent

Recession is here, economist declares, Boston Globe, March 15, 2008.

McCain, "I Would Imagine We Are" in a Recession, The caucus, July 8, 2008.

USA Today Survey: We're in a Recession, Economists Say, April 28, 2008.

Global Water Shortage Looms in New Century

The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water, Foreign Policy in Perspective.

I will attempt to gather other predictions of the same type and include them in posts over the next few weeks.  The point of the exercise will be to discourage my readers from putting confidence in the election results or the bailout plan, but instead to put confidence in God.  The present times could have been--and were--predicted by numerous people over a period of years.  The warnings were ignored.  Now the way out of the mess is exactly where it always has been, in God working through His Church, not in Washington (which seems incapable of reading the signs of the times, even when beaten over the head with the placard explaining them).


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 9:42 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 October 2008 10:47 PM EDT
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
A humane proposal for the credit bailout: Provide relief to average debtors

The President's bailout proposal misses the point.  It seeks to benefit the credit industry by offering it an enormous amount of money to get it out of the mess it has largely created for itself, without providing any real relief to common consumer and mortgage debtors--average people with little money and therefore no influence.  Instead, the credit industry meltdown should be used as an opportunity for debt relief for common people and major revision of the way debt is used in our economy.  This CAN be done without sacrificing the credit industry or the U.S. financial system.  Here is my proposal for how this can be done:

1.  The heart of my proposal:  Use the bulk of the funds proposed for the bailout to offer federally-funded or federally-guaranteed consolidation loans,  having long terms and strictly regulated interest, to allow debtors who are presently holding sizable distressed personal loans of ANY type—but particularly of types that are marketed through pooled instruments in which the government’s credit is directly involved (e.g., mortgages and student loans)—to consolidate all of their non-business debt.

2.       The trade-off for the financial industry should be that it accepts stricter government regulation, including particularly regulation of how it packages and markets consumer credit and residential mortgages and regulation of practices designed to keep consumers in debt.  The age of wild promotion of debt--second mortgages, home equity loans, credit cards--as the cure for everything must end.

3.        My proposal will help the credit industry’s immediate financial position, in that the principal amounts of  loans in default or high risk of default will be immediately paid.  This will immediately put large amounts of money back into the private financial industry.  The high-risk debts will be removed to new, government-backed loans. The original creditors will no longer be exposed to the risk inherent in thse loans.

4.       The assumption of my proposal is that most of the debtors in distress are only distressed, not inherently dishonest, and actually WANT to pay off their debts.  If this is true,  the government can expect to recover most of its immediate investment in the bailout over a period of years as debtors pay off their consolidation loans.

5.  Obviously, better consumer credit education is also needed.

6.       Note that the credit market is not now—nor has it ever been—a free market.  It is a highly regulated market, even today.  The “deregulation” of the last 25 years only removed restrictions that benefitted ordinary consumers.  It left in place the regulations that supported the industry’s profits, at least during good years.  Regulations that have trapped people in their debts, preventing any escape in bad years, have also multiplied, and the bankruptcy laws have been made "tougher" three separate times in the last 25 years.

7.       Note that traditional usury laws, though no longer fashionable, had a valid purpose.  Interest should be regulated.

8.      My proposal would be more effective if it were joined with reforms in health care delivery and payment, and education, two economic areas that create large amounts of (at present often almost compulsory) consumer debt.

9.  My proposal would also be more effective if the bailout for individual consumer debtors in distress included real assistance in a) selling nonexempt property for which there is an estblished market at the highest available price (i.e., not a sheriif's sale-type bargain basement) and b) creating an income stream from nonexempt property for which there is no established market but which could become a source of income with proper management--with the resulting income from a) or b) being credited to the debtor's account.

If we are really going to spend, ultimately, more than one trillion dollars fixing the credit system, we should really FIX it, not just put more wealth in our collective creditors' pockets.  If real, serious structural changes are needed--and they obviously are--we should spend our money actually making them, not just making the rich richer.


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:20 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 September 2008 8:27 PM EDT
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Demythologizing an address in Rio de Janeiro
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

Over this last weekend, thanks to Google Maps, I was able to demythologize an address in Rio de Janeiro that had possessed an almost other-worldly aura for me for more than 20 years.

In September of 1984, at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, Kansas, USA, I made the acquaintance of Regina Oliveira, an exchange student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who was also a coworker of mine at the University Library.  Over the next ten months, Regina befriended my wife and I.  Indeed, we became close friends.  Regina's friendship drastically changed my perspective on the world and  my view of my own faith, though the full effect took many years to work itself out.  But, over the much shorter term, during a personal crisis in the late Spring and early Summer of 1991, Regina remained in Lawrence for approximately 2 months after her graduation, when she really wanted to go home to Rio, because we needed her.  Her kindness and true friendship played a large part in saving my life (I was suicidal for awhile) and our marriage.  Then she went home.

Regina returned to the U.S. for about a year later in the Fall.  She lived with relatives in New Jersey and worked an internship in her field.  Then she returned to Brazil for good.  We remained in correspondence until 1991, when she suddenly disappeared completely, without a trace.  All attempts to locate her after 1991 (and, believe me, I made some!) returned no indication that she had ever existed--though I can still prove her existence from 1985 to 1991 by showing letters she wrote and by pointing to her name in the published May 1985 University of Kansas graduation announcement (which is still publicly archived in the campus newspaper and the Lawrence Journal-World).   Her role in changing my life and my attitude was pretty well complete, so it was as if she no longer existed.  I came to regard her as a spiritual figure sent to me for a time, an angel.  (A longer version of the story is found in Suspect Angel, a web page I first published in 1995 as a part of my effort to locate her).     

This is the point in the story where my searches in Google Maps--which I just learned to use this weekend--came in.  After her return to Brazil, according to her letters, Regina lived with her parents at a house on Rua da Bondade (Virtue Street!!!), Curicica, Jacarepagua, R.J., Brazil.  She lived there until shortly before she disappeared in 1990, when she moved to an address on Jardim Botanico in central Rio--an address that, unfortunately, burned in a fire at our house before I could memorize it. 

Before this weekend, I knew that Jardim Botanico was a major thorougfare in central Rio that ran by a large park, the Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico).  However, after the street number of the Jardim Botanico address burned, I obviously couldn't use it.  On the other hand, I remembered by heart Regina's parents' address on Rua da Bondade, and had, back in the early '90's, tried sending two letters to Regina at that address via FedEx.  Neither the letters nor the receipts ever returned, and FedEx was not able to trace them--it was as if the letters disappeared into the great void.  This made me wonder whether the location existed.  Perhaps Rua da Bondade itself was an address in the spirit realm?

So, I asked some e-mail correspondents I had developed in Rio de Janeiro what they knew about the Rua da Bondade address.  All but one had never even heard of the street and did not know how to find it.  The one correspondent who said he had heard of it also said it was in a part of town that I would definitely NOT want to visit, though he didn't elaborate on exactly where it was or why I wouldn't want to go there.  The mystery, and the myth, deepened.

Well, this weekend, I found it. Jacarepagua is a borough on the west side of Rio.  Curicica is a neighborhood on the southwest corner of the borough of Jacarepagua, generally north of the old Autodromo of Jacarepagua, which used to be an important auto racing track but is now in disuse and likely to be removed to buiild an Olympic villlage, if Rio wins its bid to host the summer games.  Curicica is also directly west of, and borders on, the Cidade de Deus (City of God!!!) neighborhood, w 1960's planned community social experiment which was the subject of a famous movie.   Rua da Bondade is a short, two block long street which has a traffic circle as its northern terminus.  It is located almost directly north of the autodrome, approximately a mile (if I'm reading the map correctly).

So now the address on Virtue Street has been demythologized.  I can prove it exists, and point to its location on a physical map.  It is not entirely in the spiritual realm, or in my imagination.  Many questions remain, but the location of Rua da Bondade in Curicica isn't one of them.   

 


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 10:36 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2008 11:41 PM EDT
Monday, 22 September 2008
Could America be repossessed?
Topic: Pure Satire

Now that I've suggested that a hyperinflationary economic depression is likely soon, and that the laws will be rearranged so as to prevent common citizens from being freed of their debts or otherwise profiting in any way from it, I will ask one further obnoxious question:

Could America be repossessed?

It is well known that most of our nation's debts--governmental, corporate and consumer--are owed to, and owned by, foreign governments and multinational corporations.  It is also well known that these debts already total several times our GDP.  Moreover, it has been known since ancient times that credtors tend to treat debtors as property, and to expect debtors to just innately know that they are owned by their debts.  For example, more than 3000 years ago, King Solomon wrote that "the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the lender's slave."  (The Bible, Proverbs 22:7).  There are similar proverbs in many cultures.  Finally, as I discussed yesterday, even our U.S. government recognizes its present servile condition, in that it has begun to take drastic measures that will ultimately lead to hyperinflating its domestic debt out of existence in order to preserve its liquidity to pay its foreign and multinational corporate creditors.  

But what if that's not enough?

What if, after all of our government's efforts to sacrifice its economy and people to preserve itself, the foreign creditors still aren't satisfied?  Or what if the American people balk at some of the sacrifices they are asked to make, and the U.S. military (like the Russian military a few years ago) refuses to fire on its own citizens to enforce the needed sacrifices?  

What happens when any debtor who has pledged property to secure a debt refuses to pay?

The debtor's property is repossessed!

In the case of a country pledged as collateral, repossessing the country usually requires a war.  However, in the modern nuclear age, a bloody ground war might not be required.  Consider the possibility that, after first disabling our nuclear arsenal as  a condition of leniency on an earlier occasion, our creditors, many ofwhich are nuclear powers, might simplyTHREATEN to nuke a major city unless we surrendered unconditionally and let their multinational army of occupation take over.  If we failed to surrender quickly or completely enough, or insisted on foolish conditions (such as preserving the Bill of Rights), our national creditors could nuke one or two medium-sized cities with low-yield "neutron" bombs, just enough to kill the people in those cities without contaminating too much valuable countryside.  (After all, the purpose of the attack would be to enforce compliance, not to destroy the collateral).  After that, we would comply quickly and unconditionally with anything demanded!  

Under such conditions, the act of exploding nuclear weapons in a few U.S. cities would not be conidered an act of terrorism, but as an act done in compliance with and in enforcement of international law.

Yes, America could be repossessed. 


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 10:18 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 September 2008 10:40 PM EDT
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Tools for involuntarily rewriting loans for the benefit of large and foreign creditors being created this week!
Mood:  incredulous

Exactly as I predicted yesterday, the United States is choosing the hyperinflationary route out of its troubles.  The first installment (but certainly not the last) of this hyperinflationary approach is the President's emergency bailout plan for the financial markets.  The leaders of  both houses of Congress have been quoted as saying their chambers plan to act on the proposal by the end of this week.  The President essentially wants to create $700 billion (he says) in new money--though Democrats are saying it will actually be well over $1 trillion--to buy all of the endangered assets of the banking, insurance and securities industries.  Publicly he says this will take only (!!!) $700 billion, and will initially be limited to high-risk and defaulted mortgages.  But the proposal, as submitted to Congress, is open-ended.  Officers of the Executive Branch, upon agreeing that there is a need, will be able to expand the bailout to any part of the financial market, buy any kind of distressed assets they believe necessary, and create the money to do it.   This is sure to lead to massive inflation, though it will probably not hit until after the election (which is only six weeks away).

Also exactly as I predicted yesterday, the interests of large foreign creditors are being safegurded by the President's plan.  To be sure, the legislation the President initially sent to to Congress yesterday morning would have covered only domestic financial institutions.  But by yesterday evening, the President had been convinced to modify his plan to bail out foreign banks and foreign financial institutions holding distressed American assets as well. Obviously, the foreign creditors complained, likely reminding the Administration of their power to crush our economy immediately if they are not permitted to assert their full ownership of it more slowly and invisibly. 

 

Finally, I note that the beginning of the fulfillment of my prediction that statutory means would be found to prevent ordinary debtors from deriving any advantage from the hyperinflation. As one article about the President's plan explains, Congress is already considering including in it amendments to federal bankruptcy law that would permit existing mortgages to be modified. This is only the beginning of a massive rewrite of debtor/creditor law that will permit large institutional creditors to unilaterally modify the terms of existing ordinary consumer debts, possibly with the active involvement of an Executive-branch government agency, so as to avoid being damaged at all by inflation--even runaway hyperinflation. My guess is that this is most likely to occur through some sort of automatic indexing of the principal, or by restatement of the principal (at its pre-inflation value) in terms of specie, real property or hours of labor. But however Congress chooses to accomplish it, we can be sure that something will be done to keep ordinary debts from being inflated out of existence, AND IT HAS ALREADY STARTED TO BE CONSIDERED.

 

Modern inflation is a way for the "big boys" to eliminate their debts to us. It is not a way for us to eliminate our debts to them.


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 12:56 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 September 2008 1:35 PM EDT
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Repudiation of the dollar of hyperinflation: what the collapse will look like
Topic: Pure Satire

For those of you who think the coming collapse will look like 1929, think again.  Everyone--the government, American corporations and consumers--are WAY too far in debt for a deflationary depression to happen.  Deflation won't help the government get out of its debt.  Much more likely will be hyperinflation--in which the government prints money to pay its debts to ordinary people and American corporations, resulting in runaway inflation--or outright repudiation of the dollar and all dollar-denominated debts TO ordinary peons. 

The discussion below ASSUMES that two even more drastic events will NOT occur--1) it assumes that our government will not try to prevent economic disaster by starting the war to end all wars, and rendering the planet unlivable in the process; 2) it assumes that the foreign creditors of the United States will not repossess the country by military force or threat of nuclear destruction.  It's not that I consider either of these scenarios unlikely.  They are far too likely.  I am merely saving them for discussion in later entries.  

Hyperinflation happened most famously in Germany in 1923.   Germany had more reparations from World War I to pay than it had national economy with which to pay them.  So it printed marks to pay its own internal obligations, to save its metals and hard currency for foreign patyments.  As a result, the mark's exchange rate with the dollar fell from 4 marks per dollar to 4 billion marks per dollar in the course of only a few months.     Hyperinflation has also happened in the United States before-- the Continental Dollar, issued during the Revolutionary War under the Articles of Confederation, underwent hyperinflation and was ultimately repudiated--hence the saying "it's not worth a Continental. " More recently--within the last 20 years-- Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Argentina, Turkey and Zimbabwe have become examples of hyperinflation.  If you think $5 per gallon gasoline is bad, try $5 BILLION per gallon.  It may be coming. 

Historically, hyperinflation has been of benefit to all debtors who survived it--whether the debtor was the government or an ordinary citizen.  This was so because wages, for those who could find work, also increased--although they lagged behind the prices of goods.  However, debts, by their nature--at least in the past--always had a fixed principal amount.  So, using Germany as the example, a common person's 1,000 mark debt before the hyperinflationary episode would REMAIN only a 1,000 mark debt (plus interest, of course) throughout the period of hyperinflation.  During that same time, a days wages might increase from 100 marks to, say, 20 billion marks (remember that wages always lag behind inflation).  So, where the 1,000 mark debt might have taken several years to pay off on a reasonable budget before the inflation, at some point in the inflationary process wages will increase to the point that it now takes less than a day to pay the debt.  So the effect of hyperinflation in the past has often been to wipe out all fixed debts denominated in the hyperinflating currency.

However, ordinary consumer debtors, such as myself, should not expect to be relieved of their debts by a hyperinflated dollar, if this is what ultimately happens.  Our government--and the large multinational corporations and foreign governments that hold most of our debts--have undoubtedly learned too much from past eisodes of hyperinflation to permit that to happen.  If hyperinflation occurs, it will be allowed to wipe out all obligations of the goverment and the major corporations to ordinary Americans and American small businesses.  The degree to which inflation will be allowed to affect the debts of large American corporations to each other and to foreign corporations and governments will no doubt be a matter for intense negotiations and international threats (with the possibility of war).

On the other hand, we can be absolutely certain that, if hyperinflation occurs, it will not be permitted to help ordinary consumer debtors and smaller Aerican businesses.  The government will likely find some effective way to either index the principal of all ordinary debts to the inflation rate. Alternatively, the law may simply declare, when the panic is over, that ordinary debts repaid during the panic, in hyperinflated dollars, are really still owed, due and payable in specie, real property or indentured service at some statutory exchange rate.  The foreign multinational corporations, princes and governments that own most of our debts absolutely MUST NOT be deprived of their right to enslave us for our personal and national debts, simply because the government finds a way out for itself! 

Obviously, the government may ultimately decide to skip the hyperinflation and simply repudiate its debt, and the currency with it.  This, however, will be an invitation to war unless the debts owed to certain large foreign entities are adequately taken care of.  Taking care of these foreign creditors will undoubtedly require binding ordinary American debtors tightly to their debts, in one of the ways already discussed.  

So, what we are most likely to see is a hyperinflationary depression, or a depression including a repudiation of the dollar, not a 1929-style deflationary depression.  But noting that happens will be permitted to adversely affect the real value of ordinary debts, which will enslave most of us.    

 

 


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 10:22 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 September 2008 10:49 PM EDT
Thursday, 18 September 2008
I predicted the current economic times before President Bush was elected!
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

On October 8, 2000, a month before George W. Bush was elected President, I predicted the current economic situation--in which nearly every expert and commentator sees a serious crash coming.  And I predicted this would happen regardless of who was elected President, because the underlying cause of the problem is spiritual, not political.  See my web page A Warning Against Idolatry, first posted October 8, 2000 (for those who doubt this date, I can prove I registered my copyright in the original text of the warning on September 4, 2001, and I will gladly send doubters a copy of that copyright registration).  

 The economy has been slowly sliding downhill ever since.  But now all commentators see a dramatic crash coming.  

I am now ready to predict the most likely range of dates for the big crash.  It will come sometime between election day in November and the first of the year.  Making this prediction does not require prophetic ability or a crystal ball.  Our political leaders are rapidly running out of flexibility.  The methods they have used to keep oil prices down, business moving and credit available, simultaneously, have very little life left in them.  Nevertheless, our leaders will undoubtedly make their very best effort to maintain the public appearance of business as usual until election day.  They do not want to suffer the anti-incumbent backlash that would result from a meltdown before the election.

But they know they can't hold on much longer.  So shortly after the election--possibly as soon as the day after the election--we can expect to see gasoline prices shoot up to well over $5 per gallon.  That will be the announcement that the whole financial system is about to unravel in short order.

Yes, I could be wrong bout these dates. Our politicians may not be able to hold back the crash until the election, or they may be able to hold it back a little past January 1. But it is clearly coming soon.

Are we ready to be reposessed by our foreign creditors? We had better be.

The only hope is exactly what it has been since I first wrote about this matter in October 2000--a revival in the Church in America.  Unfortunately, it may take panic, impoverishment and enslavement to foreigners to bring it about.

 

 


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:44 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 September 2008 10:57 PM EDT
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
"1 of 300," Topeka, Kansas, Christian Men from All Denominations and Races Praying

Spurred by recent violence in Topeka, a group of eleven churches from several denominations has inaugurated a series of Tuesday night prayer meetings open to men from all Christian denominations.  The purpose of these prayer meetings is to pray together for widespread repentance and responsiveness to the Gospel in Topeka, for a change in the atmosphere of the city, and for an end to the recent increase in violence here.   The meetings are not intended to promote sheep stealing, and no opportunity is presented for this activity.  I personally had no involvement in the initiation or organization of these meetings, which were started entirely at the initiative of the pastors of the host churches, and I have no role in the leadership.  But I do attend the meetings and support the effort. (I understand that the full participation of additional host churches not already included in the list is welcome). The organizers believe, as I do, that one of the major causes of violence in our society is the racial and denominational barriers that divide the Church, and that the negative effects of these barriers may be overcome by unified prayer.  The organizers also believe that the present impotence of the church in the face of the evils in our city (and world) results in part from the fact that the MEN in the Church have abdicated their leadership, and that bringing the MEN together is the key to great effectiveness.  

The prayer meetings that currently have scheduled locations are:

July 15, 7 p.m., Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene

July 22, 7 p.m., St. John AME Church


The group's current brochure states:  

"Answer the Call:"

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  II Chronicles 7:14"

"God is looking for 300 men of faith who will cross denominational, religious and cultural barriers to pray for the city of Topeka and her people.  We will pray for approximately 1 hour at different locations throughout the city in the upcoming weeks.  We are more powerful together than we are apart.  So join us as we stand united and take back what has been stolen from us."

The "host churches" listed in the current brochure are: First Assembly of God, Antioch Baptist Church, El Shaddai Ministries COGIC, Fairlawn Church of the Nazarene, Fellowship Bible Church, Light of the World Christian Center, New Mt. Zion Baptist Church, St. John AME Church, Temple of Deliverance COGIC, Topeka Bible Church and Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene.

The contact person listed "for more information" is Pastor E.T. Watson, III, El Shaddai Ministries, 920 S.E. Sherman Ave., Topeka, KS 66607, (785) 232-5754 or (785) 845-9851

I will post schedules of meeting times and places weekly at Topeka Unified Prayer and Evangelism: Positive Developments.


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 6:23 PM EDT

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