Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why I Support The Occupy Movement

I am a Conservative—and proud of it.

I am against abortion, including in the case of rape or incest. I don’t believe in any form of entitlement program, much less the concept of a welfare state. I am opposed to progressive income taxes—and in fact am against using the tax code as a vehicle to foment or discourage any social goal, as I think it inevitably leads to the tax code being gamed by interested parties (as has indeed happened with the U.S. tax code, beholden to paid lobbyists who have carved out so many loopholes that it looks more like a sieve than a tax code). Thus I’m in favor of a flat tax: Zero-percent for citizens, 20% for corporations.

I am in favor of a reduced government, a reduced military presence, compulsory military service, and a compulsory national guard system requiring 100% citizen participation, similar to the Swiss model. I am completely against foreign military adventurism, foreign military bases, and foreign military aid.

I believe that the government should be the enforcer of the law, and of a regulatory framework which—when it comes to issues affecting the common good—is strict to the point of anal.

For instance, food regulation, financial regulation, building code regulation—all of these regulations obviously serve the common good, and protect us all from unscrupulous people seeking to get an advantage by poisoning or otherwise hurting us all. Thus the government should have a tough regulatory framework—think of it like traffic laws: Tough government regulations that are simple, transparent, and which protect us all from each other, while making our interactions smooth, convenient and graceful.

I don’t have a problem with some people making boatloads of money, while others are homeless. I don’t believe it is the State’s or society’s or the government’s responsibility to take care of you in your old age—it is your responsibility.

Gun rights—yes. Gay rights—no. States’ rights—yes. Affirmative Action—no.

There are only three issues on which I don’t toe the Hard Right line: The death penalty, the war on drugs, and health care.

I am against the death penalty—not because I think that the State and society do not have the right to execute one of its members: They do, to my way of thinking, if the citizen has committed an especially heinous act. But the death penalty is permanent: You can’t take it back if you screw up. And since no justice system made by fallible men is infallible, mistakes are inevitable. So I am of the opinion that it’s better to have 1,000 murderers sit in jail at society’s expense, than allow one innocent man be put to death. Because you can free an innocent man after twenty years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit—but you can’t bring back the dead.

I am against the War On Drugs: First of all because it doesn’t stop the consumption (and thus flow) of illegal recreational drugs; second because I believe recreational drugs (up to and including cocaine, heroin, meth and acid) ought to be legalized and taxed, like booze, and its production regulated for safety standards, again like booze; third, because the “War On Drugs” has created a huge penal class—citizens who have spent time in jail for non-violent offenses, and thus are marginalized from general society because of this stigma on their record—which hurts people who have committed non-violent infractions, and enriches people who thrive on building and staffing more and more needless prisons.

I am in favor of trashing the current American health care system, and making it either entirely private, or entirely socialist: This hybrid system the United States has not only does not work, it is extraordinarily expensive. The fact that the French of all people spend less of their gross domestic product on their socialist health care system, yet have a lower infant mortality rate and a longer median and average lifespan than people in America, is a wake-up call: If the full-Commie Frenchie system is better and cheaper than the American one, then literally any health care system is better than the one that exists in the United States.

But all in all, I’m a good Conservative. (Though certainly not a Republican—a political party dominated by Neo-Conservatives, who are not Conservative at all, but rather, Corporatists.)

I believe that America should be the land of opportunity and risk: You can fly high—but you can also crash and burn. A society that eliminates risk—that tries to somehow torque risk down with “safety nets” and “systemic protections”—is begging for a Mommy Dictatorship when all is said and done.

Now, why do I go into all this detail about my political beliefs and ideas? Because I want to make clear where I stand, before I come out and say that I am in favor of, and fully support, the Occupy Movement.

The Occupy Movement is inarticulate—but not because of it nonsensical: The protestors are against the travesty that has become the American Republic. And though its origins are on the political Left, it should not be considered a “Leftist” movement.

Rather, it is an anti-Corporatist movement.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We’re In The Middle Of A Run On Europe—And It’s Gonna Get Worse

Specifically, a run on European debt.

So this morning, I woke up—hung over and alone, except of course for the Nympho Twins and the Thai hooker they insisted we hire last night—and was confronted with some bond market action that was . . . absurd.
Yeah, I know: A spread like that
doesn’t seem humanly possible.

Actually, kind of scary.

Yeah, Italian bonds are back to yielding over 7%, Greek debt is ludicrous (28.85%? Really?) as it has been for the last year, Portuguese 10-years are at 11.29%, the Irish at 8.20%, Spain at 6.33%—numbers that more or less fit where we are supposed to be insofar as the PIIGS are concerned, following the whole Greek Drama and Italian Farce, right?

So what’s up with Austria’s debt? Nevermind France’s debt, which is of course higher because of the whole Italy thing—what about Holland’s debt? Finland’s debt? In short, what’s going with the debt of the non-PIIGS who are not Germany?

Take Austria:

Monday, November 14, 2011

SPG Sampler

Here’s a sample of the latest Week In Words—a weekly broadcast where we analyze what has happened, and what it means. A regular feature of my Strategic Planning Group:

video

The live broadcast took place on Nov. 13, at 7pm EST. It ran 80 minutes. The full recording is available on the Strategic Planning Group site, exclusively for SPG Members.

If you are interested, visit the site—or better yet, check out our preview page.

GL

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Beginner’s Guide to the European Debt Crisis

For ordinary, non-specialist people just tuning in to the horror-show which is the European crisis, the whole mess can seem daunting and almost hermetic—almost like a secret language, or a really complicated code.

Euro-this and euro-that and euro-the-other—that’s all everyone seems to be talking about. That, and words like troika, haircuts, bailouts, yields, not to mention an alphabet-soup’s worth of acronyms like EC, ECB (they’re different), EFSF, PIIGS, IMF, EMU—

—OMFG!

For us dweebs neck deep in this stuff, it’s all mother’s milk. At my Strategic Planning Group, we’ve been game-playing what do when the eurozone breaks up since May—but for people who’ve just realized, “Hey! Something’s going on over there in Europe!”, it can be a bit much, like tuning in to a soap opera five minutes before the end of the episode: Everything seems terribly portentous and important and shocking . . . but basically incomprehensible.

Which wouldn’t matter if this was a soap-opera—but this is real life. This European crisis will affect your financial future, no matter if it’s happening on another continent. This is major

—which is why so many ordinary people are confused and frightened: Because it seems terribly complicated.

But like all things which seem complicated at first glance, when you break it down, it’s simple.

This is what happened: