Posts Tagged ‘Culture’
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NSA surveillance, wiretapping and its impact on culture and country

“The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of the citizens in a democracy” Montesquieu

  • Change
      • Remember way back when Janet Napolitano and DHS listed conservatives, pro-lifers, ex vets, Christians as potential terrorists. Did that enable NSA to target and scrutinize the phone and computer data of people associated with those groups? Is a great question, inspired by a great post:

Obama represents the counterculture of the 1960s. The part that hated the culture and the institutions of the country. They are the ones who spit on Viet Nam vets as they came home, and chanted “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Min, the Viet Cong are going to win” as they rioted for a communist victory in Viet Nam.

They didn’t like America. And they went on a long march through the institutions they own today: academia, the media, the press, the “permanent” government.

Pushing back, the rest of the country became more reflexively more pro-country. But that is changing thanks to the Obama administration. Now that the hard core cadres of the Left have captured the Presidency, the patriotism of the Country Class may be turning…. love is reciprocated with hate, there is a reaction…..

My admiration for law enforcement, for the military, for teachers, for trust in the basic justice of the government is disappearing. I may soon end up as part of the NEW American counterculture. After all, if the country under Obama represent the dominant culture, then those of us who were once patriots will now become what they once were.

On Reality, America and the world today

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” Frederic Bastiat

 
Life Enhancing Values

Posted this at Law of Markets – a site to keep an eye on.

The problem is how to embed these in a democratic framework. Politicians have incentives to break these rules in order to buy votes from their vested interests/supporters. They may also tend to have a natural instinct to want to “do something” (or simply think doing something will increase the chance of more votes later).

Capitalism works because it accepts people as they are “warts and all” and creates a system in which people improve their wellbeing through improving that of others, rather than at their expense.

However, modern western democracies seem to be undermining this life enhancing core of capitalism. In a world of government regulations, bailouts and other subsidies the path with the best expected return for individuals and entities is increasingly through the political/regulatory market rather than the commercial one. Thus talent and energy are directed at grabbing more of the existing cake via the political marketplace, rather than creating new cake in the commercial one. Eventually the amount of cake shrinks – someone has to actually produce stuff of “market value”.

I suspect democracies are compatible with capitalism over time, but only if people have appropriate value systems. There are a range of value combinations compatible with the with persistent productivity gains. But the Western educational system and its “cultural leaders” are not disseminating one of them. Our societies will therefore fail to sustain their level of wealth through time. Basically not enough people recoil at measures which will undermine the life enhancing capitalist core of our societies.

We and our children will be the poorer for this failure to sustain life enhancing values. Without broadly held life enhancing values we will lose our wealth, security and liberty. Poverty, despotism and tyranny will reign in the lands of the formally wealthy and free. Can we turn it around? Can we create a culture which will recoil at suggested breaches of your formula?

 
Inside Job

Inside Job is a great documentary. When I viewed it the cinema audience clapped at the end. Watch it here for free (Hat tip Jesse).

It does an excellent job of highlighting the corruption behind the Global Financial Crisis. But it does not cover the deliberate breaking of the law on the transfer of property titles in many states. The lack of criminal prosecutions of senior bankers in relation to this is beyond scandalous, it proof of how far down the path of crony capitalism America has strayed. Let’s hope this is not another case of where the USA leads, the rest of the English speaking developed world follows.

If the legal system continues to fail to do its job there will eventually be a wholesale loss of trust in the system. When that happens the country becomes ungovernable by anything other than brute force and terror. Let’s not go there. That’s why this report of a sheriff launching a criminal investigation for mortgage fraud is so heartening:

Oh Mr. Sheriffs — GO GET ‘EM!: Christopher Conley, High Sheriff of Carroll County NH, holds a press conference at the County complex on 7/2/12. He announces that he is forming a task force to investigate mortgage fraud. Fraud is occurring across the United States. Properties being foreclosed on that are owned outright. Financial institutions that stake claim to a property without a deed. The Sheriff states: “In each case there is no accountability be the financial institution, no one to present a reply, no decision maker to speak with. If you are a property owner and are experiencing any of the above. Contact the Sheriff at CarrollCountysheriff@carrollcountynh.net, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Attn: Deputy Brian King, PO Box 190, Ossipee, NH 03864, 539-2285 x317. Hat tip Market Ticker Guy

There is more at stake than many realize. The tide of sleaze and corruption must be turned around before the descent into despotism and anarchy. Otherwise the resultant conflagration will leave civil war like levels of carnage. The lives of many will be brutal and short or brutally cut short.

Since the making of Inside job we have had the MF Global theft of segregated accounts and the LIBOR manipulation scandal. The public exposure of the LIBOR manipulation will turn many trusting of people into a diehard cynics. The implications of the manipulations are enormous:

The Libor Scandal Explained: Barclays Bank has today been fined a combined £290M by regulators in the USA, UK and EU for manipulating the LIBOR; an acronym which stands for “London Interbank Offered Rate”. If you think this doesn’t sound sexy, you’re right. But if you think it isn’t critically important and one of the worst scandals to be exposed from the GFC so far, you’re wrong. The LIBOR is meant to be an objectively-set interest rate. It is used as the reference rate for an estimate $350 trillion in derivatives, not to mention an unknowable number of mortgages, international loans and financing arrangements. Many GFC scandals have involved institutions and hedge funds swindling each other out of paper wealth which never really existed. This one has involved one or more banks ripping off any number of governments, businesses, pensions funds and homeowners, and the fines so far are only the precursor to civil lawsuits and further criminal investigations. Hat John “Dinkum” Wagner.

MF Global shows you that you can’t be sure your money is safe anywhere in the system. A recipe for money under the mattress, falling prices and a full on depression if ever there was one. Of course many have been aware of this problem for some time – do check out some of the links in the attached document. Allocated accounts aren’t what they used to be. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too” comes to mind. Who else might that have appealed to?

People’s foul nature echoes down the ages. It is not just in adversity that the character of a man is revealed, but in their moments of greatest triumph. It is not just absolute power that corrupts, little Hitlers can spring up anywhere. Perhaps there was more to the old fashioned cultural pressure to be a gracious winner than first meets the eye. It evolved in the culture for a reason, it may have increased the ability of the culture to propagate through time. I’m not sure if the bragging self aggrandizement of much of contemporary English speaking society will prove similarly helpful for its constituents. Time will tell.

In the mean time, stay safe. Do not trust even formally trustworthy brands with your money. There are tougher times ahead, but they will not be totally unprecedented. History may not repeat, but it does rhyme. The nimble and quick witted can not just survive, but thrive. Although life being what it is even the best of us can be caught by black or grey swan events. But setting in place fall back options now, while it is still possible, can pay enormous dividends. Your health as well as your wealth may depend on it.

There are actions and options you can take to maximize your freedom of movement in the troubled times ahead. These will greatly increase your chance of maintaining some control over your destiny. Let’s do what we can now so we can later be called happy. Happy in times when the truth of the old adage “Until he is dead, do not yet call a man happy, but only lucky.” becomes more apparent. But these will be the subject of future posts.