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Archive for October, 2011

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The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, which has now grown globally, is starting to generate a lot of heat – and confrontations. Sit-ins, Live-ins, Occupations, are happening all over the place, and the authorities are getting grumpy.  They have been tolerated for a couple of days, maybe even for a couple of weeks, but then they just become an unsightly nuisance for the various local body authorities. who now want them to move on, just go away.

There is a complete lack or understanding happening here – two sides that live in completely different worlds.

The whole ethos and philosophy of the Occupy movement is that the protest is permanent. The protesters are stayingcome hell or high water – until ‘The-Powers-That-Be’ are swept away (or they actually pay attention and are responsive to the will of “The People” – haa, yeah right…).

But the modern day aristocrats simply DO NOT GET IT.

They are prepared to humor the protest fringe element – for a while.  But hey, these are just the usual Rent-A-Crowd, right… they don’t really matter.  And the important people, the ones that do matter, aren’t going to care if the Bully-Boys are brought in to clear out the rabble when it all gets too tiresome…

Except – maybe not.

Maybe this is a completely different dynamic from what the bureaucratic pinheads are used to. This isn’t JUST the looney lefties, these ARE also your genuine Joe-Average voter (and more) – who will shitcan your arse you pompous self-righteous “civil servants”.

Not only are they more, and a wider cross section than you think they are, they have also been pushed to the stage where they aren’t just going to wave a banner of an afternoon any more, shout a couple of slogans then go home – they are going to take a stand and not be moved. This is a genuine revolt and revolution.

Wake up councils and mayors (what you think is just a small scale thing is actually the first waves of a Tsunami), or you are going to be seriously on the wrong side of history. At best you are going to get voted out (due to backing the wrong horse), at worst you are going to end up on the Guillotine.

This “Occupy” movement didn’t blow into town out of nowhere (only to blow out again with the next change of breeze). This is birthed from long standing grievances, and the longer that the conditions that created it in the first place continue to exist, the bigger it is going to grow. Well guess what, nothing has changed – ergo, this is just getting started. However small and pathetic it looks now, it isn’t going to stay that way.

And the more you bully and assault it, the more you prove exactly what it claims to be true. That the Status-quo is set up to protect the advantages of the rich and powerful – to the detriment of EVERYONE else.

The absolute shit that comes out of the mouths of the authorities is staggering also. The Arrogance, Hypocrisy and Condescension is an outright red rag, and they can’t even see it. All they see is that the rabble should be moved on (Why are they still there Len?).

Hmmm… or maybe the Protesters and Occupiers can and will endure and stay, because they really are the vanguard of “We the People”.  I guess we will find out over the next days, weeks and months. Because one side is definitely going to lose this fight.  I think it is shaping up to be an all-or-nothing deathmatch, the two sides have just got such completely different world views – and one side is going to be DEAD wrong.

…politicians and civil authorities in some cities have begun to lose patience. Riot squads in Oakland, California, broke up an occupation there. Similar treatment was dished out in Melbourne last week.

..in Wellington, occupiers have begun practising to defend such an assault.

However, in Auckland Mayor Len Brown was a little more forthcoming about Aotea Square. “We are trying to work out a negotiated departure,” he says. “They are certainly not going to stay there for a long period of time.”

In Dunedin, the council is also looking at its legal options.

…one protestor in Wellington described the occupation as “fluid”. While the mayor [there] hasn’t declared her position, a council spokesman told 3 News they don’t have permission to be there and won’t be for much longer…   (link)

Sorry Len and co. this isn’t going to be about winning battles (no doubt you will win a few, by having your jackbooted storm troopers clear the odd park). This is about the Long-War. You are just too wrapped up in your bubble of privilege, comfort and status-quo bias to see it. Your patience wearing thin for “Occupy” protesters doesn’t begin to compare to how thin our patience for you is getting. And completely fails to appreciate the whole concept of “Occupy”. It is direct democracy. But more, it is about claiming(back) a space and being prepared to stand and fight for it (for as long as it takes).  Physically, it is a(any) block of land, but symbolically it’s the whole political/economic system.

The Banksters and their Crony Political friends don’t get to call all the shots unopposed any more – this is in reality, modern day class-warfare.

Could get bloody.

Depends how hard everyone is prepared to fight I guess.

But you, the 99%, had better think long and hard about what you are prepared to stand for, or you will end on your knees.   first they come for the “other” – the “terrorist”, the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you

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Additional links and reading: Rortybomb and The Nation.

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more      from Karl, and from where #Occupy started.

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Hickey Again

Once again Bernard shows why he is one of the leading NZ economic commentators. Nine quick points to contemplate – or even actually action.

I particularly like number 7.

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Protesters’ picks

By Bernard Hickey    5:30 AM Sunday Oct 23, 2011

The occupy Wall St movement has gone global in the past month and has even spread as far as New Zealand, albeit in a toned-down version. Many of the complaints of the movement are valid, although the situation is different here.

We haven’t had the excesses of the investment bankers. Our banks are relatively simple, albeit equally large, concentrated and profitable.

There was some awful behaviour in the finance company sector, which forced several large taxpayer bailouts that had much of the whiff of the bailouts on Wall Street. We were lucky most collapsed before our deposit guarantee was introduced.

New Zealand also hasn’t seen the complete transfer of income growth from the 99 per cent to the 1 per cent during the past 20 years, but there has still been a widening of the gap between the richest and the poorest. Last year’s tax cuts accelerated that movement and the property boom from 2002 to 2008 created a two-class society of rich property owners and tenants.

The scale of the outrages was proportionately lower here, but there’s still plenty for Occupy New Zealand protesters to campaign for:

1 A land tax – to rectify the transfer of wealth to the landed generation, and make our budget more sustainable.

2 Reversing the tax cuts for the highest income-earners – which are not working to boost economic growth, and are being paid for by foreign borrowing.

3 Joining the European push for a global Financial Transactions Tax – to forcibly reverse the financialisation of the economy.

4 Avoiding taxpayer bailouts of our biggest banks. The Reserve Bank’s Open Bank Resolution proposal is heading in the right direction.


5 Extending the retirement age to 67 over time. (there are better alternatives than this ~R)

6 Our banks further reducing their reliance on foreign bank funding, that can freeze in a crisis.

7 Pulling out of free trade talks with the United States, which is an enemy of free trade and bankrupt politically and financially.

8 Balancing our budget as quickly as possible, to reduce the burden of debt on future generations.

9 Reducing consumption of imports – and saving, producing and exporting more.

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Surprisingly – I also just read another article in the Herald I like a lot, surprising because it was written by Liam Dann (brother of Corin Dann).

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I have been rather bemused (and confused) as to why it is that as we continue to slide deeper into recession, Apple have continued to do so well.  It is like there is a complete disconnect with the rest of reality (truly an Apple reality distortion field). There’s almost a hysteria that grips anything to do with Apple these days.

Much as I like and admire Apple – what they make is Toys and Gadgets.  They don’t grow food, pump oil or build houses. They don’t make things we have to have. They make things we wish to have, it is aspirational stuff mostly.

You can make arguments in favour of the benefits and advantages that owning Apple products bestow, and I would probably agree with them.  But that still doesn’t explain to my mind, quite why Apple is currently so wildly popular.

But I think I might have just figured it out.  It is a form of sublimation.

(or perhaps more accurately, displacement).

Yes, everyone has an impending sense of doom about the possible terrible consequences of a global financial crisis. But, it is preferable to ignore that and be optimistic about something else.

And in this instance, it is better to be happy about a happy future that is happening, rather than an unhappy present that looks to presage even worse.

Many of us grew up on a TV diet of Star Trek, where in a technologically advanced future society, everyone lives in peace and without want. Marvelous technologies provide instant gratification of just about any desire.  And Apple at least seems to be delivering on that utopian dream. Particularly with such developments as Siri, an almost magical thing straight out of TV fiction, but in the here and now. If that is now within our grasp, how far away can the rest of it be?  The future is looking bright indeed…

Or is it?

There are supposed to be five stages of mourning: Shock, Denial, Anger, Grief and Acceptance.

I suspect we are looking at a bit of denial here. And perhaps more than a bit – a LOT.  Rather than face up to a bad thing, lets ignore that, stick our fingers in our ears and fixate on what we would want and prefer to be true. Actually, it isn’t even that it isn’t true, Apple and Siri are amazing. But to imbue these things with all our hopes and dreams is to set ourselves up for a fall. It is so easy to do though isn’t it.

We can’t fix broken banks and broken government finances – but we can buy an iPhone. And the more that there are bad things we can’t do anything about, the more we seem to be tuning that out while fleeing towards the feel-good things we can do. Rather than mourn the loss and death of our other hopes and dreams, we rapturously applaud the embodiment of our fantasies.

Unfortunately a high-tech communicator isn’t going to solve our debt problems. And we aren’t about to soon also get Replicators, Transporter-beams, Starships, or Dilithium crystal warpdrives and powerplants.  I’m sorry, we just aren’t. What we will get is an economic depression and austerity(even poverty).

But hey, we’re in denial right… so let’s concentrate on what we would prefer to be true. Control the one thing we can control – kind of like the psychology of Anorexia – because it makes us feel better, sort of. Let’s all dance, close our eyes and sing kumbaya – whilst furiously buying iGadgets…

(…and, because they really are pretty neat devices – and miles better than most of the dross that competitors offers  😉

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Albeit – none of which explains why Apple is so phenomenally successful in China…

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The Mac vs PC argument has been around for a long time. The argument goes around and around, generating plenty of heat and very little light. To my mind, the core issue was never one of Operating Systems or hardware – it is one of Ethos.

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, things were done his way. And it was his way or the highway. That was proved by the John Scully era, both positively and negatively.

With Steve gone, how is his ethos supposed to be maintained?  Ultimately, I don’t actually think it can be. Sure they may have four years of designs and other projects and objects stored up to work on, develop and commercialise. But that is, and was, always beside the point.

Apple was intrinsically about value judgements, Steve’s value judgements.

Jobs considered it important that certain things were done certain ways. And as he said, it was the things he said NO to that he was often most proud of. To my estimation, that was never so much about hardware and the like, it was about business practices.

Apple doesn’t pay a dividend, it retains earnings (for strategic business reasons). Apple doesn’t (didn’t) release products prematurely – Steve didn’t care if it was necessary to hold back a product release and spend time and money reworking it until he was satisfied. As one article I read said: he would spend the time and money on tiny details that would have the CFO of other companies crying over their spreadsheets. For Steve, money was there to be spent – on the things that HE considered important.

The unique thing always was his particular take on what was important. That was always the thing that came up in any discussion of Jobs, just how different his values and take on things were.  Obsessing about details that no-one else considered important. History shows that most often he was right.

Unfortunately, most often those anecdotes focus on minutiae that probably are relatively unimportant, while the big picture implications slide right on by most people. What Steve was really saying no to was greed, avarice and complacency. He was an enemy of the opportunist and the fraudulent. He didn’t care about making money for moneys sake. He certainly cared that people should pay money for value, but considered that to be an equal two way street. If you paid good money, then it was absolutely incumbent upon him to provide you with the very best that he could produce. Actually providing real value for money. (“one more thing” wasn’t just about neat new gizmo’s, it was also holistically about offering more, something extra beyond what you expected.)

There was no – close enough, good enough, or Microsoft approach… “what are they gonna do, go elsewhere, haha, sure it is crap, but we have got them locked in and can bleed them like a pig”.

And interestingly – by doing the Right thing, he was ultimately vindicated in his beliefs. That Microsoft managed to get to be as big as it did is an indictment, that Apple survived to eclipse Microsoft (and every other technology company) is the complete endorsement of him, and of genuine value.

But he is gone.

What is left is no doubt a wonderful legacy, and a mass and momentum that will endure for a long time.  But it is also a concentration of human frailties – and an absolute mountain of CASH.

There is no way to stop the Jackals circling. And not just from industry competitors -they in fact are the least of the worries. Whatever moral delinquencies they may or may not have, they at least will be subject to market disciplines. The danger is rot and cancer from the inside.

With so much money sitting there in a pile at Apple, every crook, shyster and opportunist will have their eyes open for their chance to weasel and worm their way into grabbing a slice of it.  But more, just ordinary people will contribute their share to the pressure and erosion of the Apple/Steve Jobs way. Shareholders will want a dividend (and then a bigger dividend – hey, we can afford it…). Exec’s will want bigger salaries and bonuses. Departments will want bigger budgets. Justifications will pour in for spending money on this or that (mainly self serving), then excuses will mount up for cutting corners or failing to execute. It is human nature.

Empire building within companies, arse covering, patch protection – it is what people do, it is why bureaucracies form and why they perform so badly. There are always reasons, justifications and excuses.  The performance of most big corporations (and every government) in the world is a direct demonstration of this.

Apple was the shining exception – because Jobs wouldn’t accept it – and he was exceptional.

In the end though, Apple will succumb to human nature I think, unfortunately (and why I shed a tear for his passing).

It would be great – and amazing – if Steve’s vision of an Apple University could be brought to fruition, and did actually develop and educate personnel with ethics and morality modeled after his. The world is crying out for that sort of leadership and ethos.

A pity we have got what we have got.

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Interesting that Jobs was a Buddhist – they have a theory regarding the great Buddha’s: that they come to us in a great cycle of thousands of years, that when they are here they spread wisdom and peace; and that with their passing, the world slowly loses its grace and reverts to a more brutal and ignorant state.

Until such time as the next great Buddha comes along, to bring hope and enlightenment back into the world…

Or I may have that completely wrong, haha…  😉

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(Edit:  on the other hand…)

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The Onion

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The Onion is a satirical “News” website – that, much in the way of the Daily Show, has seemed to become a better source of news and truth that the Main Stream Media (MSM).

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Last American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing Dies

OCTOBER 6, 2011 | ISSUE 47•40

(Click Headline for the article)

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Adieu Steve

I never knew you.

Or at least, I knew you only insofar as what you did impacted on my life.

That started in the early 90’s when I went to University. In my second year, after miserable failure in my first year, I changed my major, and needed to start writing essays. I was using the “computer labs” to write the essays, rooms set up with free-to-use desktop computers for the students. I am not sure why they were called “labs”, but I ended up spending a lot of time in the Mac Lab. There was also a Lab set up for PC’s, but I very quickly decided I didn’t like using them and became a bit of an Apple fan.

During my last couple of years at Uni I owned a Mac (LC 575 Performa – although it might have been a 580, I can’t remember now) and kept it for many enjoyable years. It was a solid workhorse, that only really failed when the internet developed too far past what it had been designed for. It still did what it did do well, but the future was the internet. So my Performa ended up at the dump. It was quite emotional actually, I was sad to say goodbye, I had developed quite an attachment. It has seen me through some formative years, and many a night writing or gaming into the small hours.

After that I got a transitional computer, a Wintel PC, I never developed any connection with that. And as soon as the opportunity and the finances permitted, I got another Mac. A Mac Mini, pretty much the bottom of the line model, and one of the last of the PowerPC models. But guess what, it is still running, and well.  The only trouble I have ever really had was trying to run Adobe Flash on it.

Am I an Apple fanboy?

Yes and no.  I have done my fair share of prothletising.

On the other hand I also grew to appreciate the things that Microsoft did do well (and there is some things) – inspite of their many major sins(more on that below). And even Apple has stumbled occasionally.

But in general I appreciated and admired what Apple, and Steve Jobs, have achieved. Where they were at their best, was when they did the opposite of Microsoft.  They didn’t pre-announce vaporware. They didn’t cynically exploit their power/customers, they made elegant products, they did what they said they would do, they always tried to move forward even if it meant cannibalizing their own products rather than resting on their laurels. Their computers were easy to use and didn’t suffer the viruses and malware that PC’s were riddled with.  Apple treated their customers with some respect. And the objective of what they did, was to supply the customer with the best possible experience, rather than to exploit whatever leverage they had to extract the maximum revenue.

Apple was criticised for having expensive hardware. But I always found that when comparing whole-of-life costs, Apple computers actually worked out cheaper. My computer lasted longer before becoming obsolete, the free bundled software was often better, there was no extra costs of security – and it essentially did (as advertised) “just work”.  As a whole package, it was for me simply better, by a long way.

And that can be credited to Steve Jobs. I have read any number of articles that have said that Steve was a perfectionist and would harry and bully until the finished product was right. Half baked simply wasn’t good enough.  In a way, that really reminds me of my mother, interestingly, she too died at 56.

I surprised myself that I literally shed a tear when I heard of Steve’s death, and was reading some of the tributes posted and anecdotes from his life. If you had asked me a week ago if that would have been possible, I would have dismissed it.  Hey, I never knew him personally, why would I care that much?  (on that note…)

Maybe because of the resonance’s with my mother. Like him, she knew for a number of years before her death that she was on a short lease. That made her difficult to live with, she wouldn’t accept half-baked either. For her, if it was worth doing at all, then it was worth doing right, with commitment, belief and integrity. No room for slacking.  But in the end, I was the better for her love and dedication. And we are the better for Steve’s.

If we want to look for things to nitpick, then we can find them no doubt. (why would you at this time)

But he cast a long shadow and left a great legacy. One that is even more relevant in this current era. Ethical, admirable, inspirational.

Taken too soon, perhaps – missed, definitely.   iSad   😦

Adieu.

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Steve Quotes:

*  “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

*  “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

*  “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

*  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma… Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

*  “Some of the things I am most proud of, is the things we decided not to do.”

*  ” Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

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Finally – who else do you know who’s received an epitaph like this:

~ Bill Gates:  “The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.”

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Update – 04/11/11

On the other hand… Anti Apple

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Karl Denninger has done it again with another great Post (edited below).

He says the odd weird thing sometimes, but he is spot on with this one.

My call has been that this Great Depression would just continue to slowly grind on and on, and take us lower and lower, until we couldn’t deny the reality of it any longer.

We still are mostly in denial, and if for just that reason alone, things will continue to get worse.

But here it is quantified, for those of you who are actually interested in getting a grasp of the “no-escape future” we have created for ourselves.

Read on…

(follow up to Define “Monstrous Contraction”)
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The Ugly Side Of Exponents

~ Karl Denninger

The 2008 Federal Fiscal Budget (Oct 07 – Oct 08) expended approximately $2.9 trillion. It produced a budget deficit (actual) of approximately $500 billion.

In 2007, I pointed out that in order to bring the government into balance and stop the Ponzi finance we would have to cut government spending by approximately 18%. This $500 billion in deficits represented approximately 3.5% of GDP.

I was ignored.  Today, the Federal Government is running a deficit of approximately $1,700 billion dollars, or 12% of our now-current GDP of $15 trillion.

The “budget” is now roughly $3.8 trillion, or 31% higher.

To bring the ponzi under control now we must cut federal spending by some 43%, or about 2.4 times as much as we had to in 2007.  We also must accept a contraction in GDP that is almost four times greater than we had to in 2007.

Now let’s add some other ugly (very ugly) facts.

Despite the financial crisis of 2008, banks have not been forced to stop lying about asset values – and not just here in the United States. That is, the sovereign Ponzi finance game is being “covered up” by banks claiming values on their balance sheets 
that do not represent reality .


There is no evidence that our lawmakers give a damn about how much our government – and GDP – must contract to restore balance. 

We continue to hear the lie about “growing out of it”, but the fact of the matter is that even if we could generate 5% GDP growth – and we obviously can’t, as we’ve tried and failed – it would not close the funding gap.

The government expanded by 31% in four years.  That’s a seven percent compounded growth rate.  You would have had to generate more than 7% in economic growth annually, four years sequentially, to keep up.

That’s not only isn’t going to happen, it didn’t happen.


The market has figured this out, and it’s larger than the government.  By definition it has to be.  Private actors in the economy have come to the conclusion that the government is literally clawing at the cliff-edge trying to avoid going over.  

You only thought the 2008 crash was bad – you’ve seen nothing to prepare you for what’s coming if we do not act now.


I wish there was a way to be “bullish” about the intermediate-term future given these facts.  There’s not.

This is not a US-centric phenomena.  We’re currently benefiting, if you can believe that.  It won’t matter.

If we do not take our government contraction that is required today – right now – we’re going to get to the point where we can’t take it, as it will be effectively a 100% reduction (ex-interest.)  It is already more than half, assuming you intend to pay the interest bill – more than double what it was just four years ago.

In four more years at present rates it will be an effective 100% and the game will be over.

There’s your timeline.  We fix this now or we go off the cliff.

It will suck severely to fix this now.  Seniors will not get what they were promised and it doesn’t matter who they are (yes, this includes military veterans).  Others on various forms of public assistance will have their giveaways cut in half or more.

We have to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq – whether we deem it operationally correct to do so or not.

Our economy will contract – mathematics guarantees a 12% contraction,  and due to the knock-on effects it will be much worse – probably 20, maybe even 25%.  Unemployment will go up by 50% from where it is now, at minimum (that is, to 15%) and may reach 20%.  Government workers will have to have their salaries and benefits slashed – by 30% or more.

We will recover from this, but only after the excessive debt (half or more of it in total) is flushed out of the system.  Most of that is in the private sector, believe it or not, and it has to go away.

This means mass-bankruptcies, failed large banks and the collapse of corporations that are levered monstrosities. 

We must accept mathematical reality and stop trying to interfere with it – before we reach the point where the necessary contraction exceeds our ability to absorb it without political and social system failure.

There is no “EASY” button, nor are there incremental changes we can make that will solve the problem.  We’re 20 years too far down the road to do that

We deluded ourselves serially for three decades and the only resolution is to accept the economic damage that must be absorbed.

Housing must have the supports ripped out from under it.  House prices will find a natural level where a majority of people can save and pay cash for them.  That’s as low as 1x incomes.

Ludicrous?  No.  Reality.

Will this mean adjusting expectations?  You bet – that granite countertop won’t be the mainstay in “middle-class” homes, it will be present only in those houses where the owner is truly wealthy.  The average home size will shrink to around 1,000 square feet for a family of four.  A lot of the crackerjack boxes we built in the last 20 years are literally worth nothing in terms of resale price as their carrying costs exceed their utility value without the financial ponzi that enabled them to be built.

Municipal and state finance must shrink by half – or more.  Lots-a-cops and firefighters?  Nope.  Few cops, volunteer firefighters.  And those who do stay on will have their pay and benefits cut too – again, by a third or more.

We simply have to return to “community protection” where you and your neighbors take most of the responsibility – which means your neighbor (or you) is a member of the volunteer fire department to respond to a fire call.

We accept that we cannot afford high-brow paramedic ALS services in our neighborhoods – we may like them, but we don’t have the money. That’s the only way we can provide basic protection for fire, and similar, in a way we can afford.

It doesn’t matter if you like this or not:   It’s (again) mathematics.

Schools?  No more B/S administrators with cushy $200,000+ salaries and gold-plated health care and retirement.  Ditto on the benefits for teachers.  Teach because you love it, and for no other reason.  Yes, salaries will go down.  But so will the cost of living (see above on your new housing expectations) you’ll be able to afford it.

Oh, and no more technology spending either – we need to return – right now – to phonics for basic reading, 4-function math done with a pencil and paper (no calculators!) and language competency demonstrated through writing, and we must get all of that basic instruction done by the end of fourth grade.  All this “new math”, “whole language” and “integrated classrooms” for disruptive students must go in the garbage right now – they are luxuries we can neither afford in educational results or in money terms.

Retirement?  We can’t pay you what you were promised.

We can fix Social Security, but the underlying medical system is broken and full of cost-shifting and subsidy we cannot pay for without ponzi credit expansion.

If you’re a fat-ass and refuse to fix that, we’re not going to be able to do anything about the consequences any longer.

I personally have dropped nearly forty pounds since March of this year and am in the best overall shape of my adult life.  Levels of exertion that would have literally led me to collapse six months ago are no longer even moderately difficult; I can labor outdoors now for hours and while I still sweat like a pig in the heat it’s no longer “hard.”  The simple fact of the matter is that if you’re a fat-ass the solution is to eat less and move more and while it’s hard when you start the longer you do it the easier and more-rewarding it gets.

Be honest with yourself – if you’re a man and when standing naked with your back flat against the wall and tilting your head down until your chin strikes your neck cannot see your flaccid dick without sucking in your gut, you’re a fat-ass.

We simply can’t pay for it any more, so those of you who wish to take the risks are free to do so, but you soon won’t be able to charge off the cost on anyone else.  Electing to remain a fat-ass will mean that if you lose the dice-roll on the consequences society will not be able to prevent you from suffering those consequences, including death. 

We must level with the American people:

80% of your health care dollars are spent in the last year of your life, and the majority of health spending has at its root lifestyle choices.  We must accept our mortality and that if we cannot afford that “end of life” expense we won’t get it.

 We must also accept that self-inflicted medical expenses will either be ours if we have the money, or won’t be provided if we don’t.

Likewise, for those who wish to coddle the illegal immigrants in this nation, you are going to be the ones who take care of them – plantation style if you must – or they have to go.  Right now.

I don’t care if this is considered politically correct or not.  We simply don’t have the money to play “English as a second language” to a bunch of Mexicans who come here to pick strawberries.  We lose three ways: we have to educate their kids who start at a severe disadvantage, we have to cover their health expenses as they earn an insufficient amount to do so on their own and our people don’t have the jobs picking those strawberries. 

To those who say Americans won’t do these jobs, they sure as hell will when the alternative is to starve – and we’re not able to fund the “funemployment”, “food stamps” and other similar programs any longer.  That day has arrived.

We must stop the narco-war.

We can’t afford it and we need the tax revenue.  I know this will be sacrilege to many, especially on the right, but the drug war has massively driven up the cost of government through imprisonment expense, permanently blemishing people’s records with felonies for non-violent consensual conduct and the dramatic and outrageous expansion of policing costs – we simply cannot afford it any longer irrespective of the frothing-at-the-mouth lies told by those who promulgated this policy going all the way back to Harry Anslinger.

Never mind the civil liberties issues raised, this is first and foremost an economics issue.  To those who claim that dropping the drug laws will lead to monstrous societal health expenses born by the taxpayer see the previous point – no it won’t, because we don’t have the money. 

If you wish to smoke crack until your heart explodes, that’s fine — but when you have that heart attack as a consequence you will die.

This must be respected as a choice, while we remove from the budget that which we cannot afford.

For those who get trapped but really don’t want to be dopers we should (and can) establish a tax system on these substances and fund voluntary treatment options with that tax revenue.

Let us remind ourselves that marijuana was made illegal originally on the back of the claim that smoking it would turn white women into “trash” that would sleep with black men.  Yes, it really was a racist thing.

We must fix our trade and energy policies.  No nation can survive running trade deficits into the indefinite future.  Trade deficits drain capital and ultimately destroy your productive base – and we’re the Poster-child for the bad effects of these policies.

We cannot allow wage and environmental arbitrage to be the focus of our trade policies (and we do).

These things can be changed and we must change them right here, right now, today.

I recognize that many people will resist these points.  Go right ahead and resist.

But if you wish to comment on why these are not inevitable changes, with the only other alternative being political and social system collapse on a scale never seen in this nation, not even during the depths of The Depression, bring your math.

Claims that “we can muddle through” – without evidence, or worse, backed by nothing more than political lies – are no longer sufficient or “in-bounds” in this debate.

We could find ourselves in the throes of severe civil unrest, perhaps even political system failure.

You had damn well better wake the hell up today or you will suffer the consequences!

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Karl is American, and talking to Americans… But everything he says is true of here also.

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