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Old August 23rd, 2012 #21
Alex Linder
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My Challenge to Max Keiser
Posted by Thomas Woods on August 23, 2012 09:14 AM

On LRC today I respond to the bizarre Keiser Report segment that tried to claim Ludwig von Mises was a deviationist from the pure Austrian economics of Carl Menger, the founder of the school. Kind of inside baseball, you might think, but so full of the most preposterous errors that I had to smash it, politely.

Keiser now has a post called "Tom Woods' Blunders." For a split second I wondered if maybe I had overlooked or misstated something. Then I saw his post.


It begins:

Tom Woods ramblings are lengthy....

Translation: I haven't the foggiest idea how to answer Woods. If I say his reply to me is "lengthy" and "rambles," that will cover for the fact that I can't reply to 95 percent of it. Oh, and 15 minutes of bashing Mises and libertarians on the most uncomprehending grounds is not rambling or lengthy.

but I wanted to zero in on this bit:

In the following passage, taken from Tom Woods response to Sandeep Jaitly’s interview on “Keiser Report,” Tom Woods rationalizes the failure of his fundamentalist ideology and ‘economic calculation’ by wedging a lot of intellectual dishonesty into this quote: “Private ownership, which is precluded by state intervention, would encourage the preservation of the capital value of resources.”

The idea that private interests preserve the capital value of resources (‘unless they are interfered with by the state’) produces a superior economic outcome over the public interests preservation of capital value of resources is the type of pseudoscience, faux-Austrian claptrap that gives rise to economic dictatorialism, completely blind to the actual consequences of its actions. What Woods is advocating here is in effect central planning, but the ‘right kind’ of central planning by the ‘right people’; the complete opposite of what Austrians say they are supposedly in favor of and a complete contradiction of what Menger was trying to elucidate before the Mises crowd came along and poisoned the water.

I'll be a sport and overlook the lack of any argument or analysis here; we are evidently expected to accept Keiser's ex cathedra pronouncement without demanding such course elements as reason or evidence.

Here are Keiser's points, stripped of the viciousness that was absent from the tone of my own piece, along with my replies:

(1) It is silly and "fundamentalist" to think private owners might take better care of resources than the state.

Evidently the whole "tragedy of the commons" problem has been solved by Max Keiser; with such contributions to the human race, it almost seems petty of me to continue the exchange.

I think, though, he hasn't really solved this problem. Max would have to believe that people who rent cars treat those cars just as well as they treat their own cars. In Keiserland, people take rental cars for oil changes and maintenance, and repair dings and scratches.

On my planet, people do not take the same care of things they do not own as they do of goods they do own. The same goes for any resource: what private owner would want to destroy the long-term capital value of a mine, or a herd of animals, in order to enjoy one fleeting year of profits? Who would kill all the animals this year, leaving none for next year? What incentive exists to do such a thing?

(2) He thinks private ownership is a form of “central planning.” (This guy has his own show?) Central planning involves (1) the direction of resources in the absence of property rights, or (2) orders handed down to resource owners by non-owners. Neither applies in the case of the ownership and use of a resource owned by someone with legitimate property title.

It of course is not a question of having the “right people” in charge. I am not saying that my people would do a better job of managing resources than Max’s people; that Max even thinks in these terms makes him appear juvenile and uncomprehending.

The issue is that only private owners can operate within the realm of economic calculation, and only private owners have an interest in keeping the resource generating a stream of returns over time. Why would a politician, serving a two-year term, care at all about such a thing? You’ll note how politicians, having no particular reason to care about future prosperity and interested only in immediate electoral returns, have looted a certain resource called the population of the United States. Keiser wants these people in charge of more resources.

(3) Without acknowledging that on every point I overturned his guest’s bizarre and unsupportable claim that Mises was a non-Austrian deviationist from the plumb-line Menger, he closes with further reference to this alleged difference between the two.

Max, here’s my challenge to you. Where does Menger say the state, with its politicians’ limited time horizons, is better able to preserve the capital value of resources than legitimate property owners? Where does Menger say that economic calculation within the division of labor is not a good way for society to economize?

You are saying Mises has deviated from Menger in holding the position he does. I call b.s. You have no idea what you are talking about. Give me chapter and verse from Menger. If you can’t, then admit you’re in over your head, and apologize to your viewers for that ridiculous segment and for this crazy claim about Menger and Mises.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewr...ml#more-118650
 
Old September 13th, 2012 #22
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The Electric Car Imbroglio Is About To Get Even More Expensive…

by Eric Peters
EricPetersAutos.com

In just a few months from now, it will be $2,500 easier to “buy” a new electric car. I put “buy” in quotes because in fact, other people will be paying a good chunk of the purchase price – to the tune of a $10k direct cash payment (it is euphemistically called a “tax credit”) per car, courtesy of The Man With The Plan. (But without much understanding of economics or engineering.)

A line item snugged deep within Barack Obama’s 2013 federal budget – which hasn’t passed yet and won’t be passed until after the (s)election this November – will up the existing electric lemon inducement from the current $7,500 per car to $10,000 per car. This means the subsidy payout alone on something like a new Chevy Volt will be almost as much as the total cost (without any subsidy) of a decent little economy runabout such as the 2012 Nissan Versa.

And the government giveaway will be immediately available, too – dangled in front of “buyers” (cough) “at the point of sale, making it transferable to the dealer … allowing consumers (italics mine) to benefit when they purchase a vehicle rather than when they file their taxes.”

Well, yes, they will be consuming . . . other people’s money. A tremendous buttload of it. How much is a tremendous buttload, exactly? Well, if you assume 10,000 electric lemons, that’s $100 million bucks. And Obama’s stated goal is to “…put one million (italics mine) advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2012.”

You do the math.

Don’t want to? Here, I’ll do it for you: It’ll come to about $10 billion – if Obama’s goal of one million electric lemons is realized. That’s just under 10 percent (in inflation adjusted dollars) of what it cost to put Neil Armstrong on the Moon. Back in ’69, at least, the American people got something for their money. After all, Apollo 11 did make it to the Moon – and back. Most electric cars can’t make it to the store – and back.

Problem is, even a $10,000 per car federal giveaway – $10 billion thrown into the wind – might not be enough to do the trick.

$7,500 per car sure hasn’t.

Each Volt – which has an MSRP sticker price of $39,145 – costs GM about $89,000 to build. So GM is losing – roughly – $50,000 per car. That’s a helluva way to do business. It might make more sense just to build a fire with all that money. At least some heat – as opposed to hot air – could be gotten out of it.

Even with the existing $7,500 tax credit and sweetheart lease offers as low as $199 per month designed to “move product,” not much product has been moving. As of mid-September, year-to-date Volt “sales” have yet to reach 14,000 – just a bit shy of the projected 40,000 GM anticipated.

And how about those Obama Jobs the Obama Car was supposed to confect? GM has had to idle the production line where the Volt is (well, was) built – and “temporarily” lay-off 1,300 workers.

What’s shocking is that GM – apparently – wasn’t able to anticipate any of this. It does not require the proverbial rocket scientist.

So, are the guys in charge stupid? How else to explain their inability to anticipate that a car that costs more than $33,000 – that’s after the current $7,500 tax subsidy – and which will still cost $30,000 after the pending $10,000 subsidy or as much as an entry-level Lexus or BMW – might not be very appealing to people concerned about paying $3 and change for a gallon of gas?

People who, you know, are concerned about spending money – unlike GM and Obama.

Well, that may be just the point. They’re not stupid. It’s simply that it’s not their money. It’s yours. Always more where that came from.

So, they don’t care that the Volt – and the rest of them – suck ass, economically speaking. Functionally, too. Though interesting as technology demonstrators, they still can’t go nearly as far – without lots of hassle – as the most humble non-electric new car.

Perhaps a car like the Volt will pay for itself down the road, in the form of reduced operating costs (well, except for the cost of electricity and that $2,000 charging station you”ll need to have installed in your garage). But even assuming the Volt and its kind are cheaper to drive, long term – and that’s by no means certain or even probable – they still cost Lexus-BMW money up front. Even with the $7,500 subsidy. Even with the pending $10,000 subsidy. And people in a position to buy a Lexus or BMW want… a Lexus or a BMW. Not a Chevy.

And those who aren’t in a position to afford a Lexus can’t afford this Chevy.

Same problem with the Nissan Leaf electric car. It’s not selling well, either. Could it have anything to do with the car’s $35,200 sticker price? Even taking $10k off the top, a Leaf still costs about $15k more up front than the Versa sedan – and the $10k-ish Versa can be driven 300-plus miles non-stop whereas the Leaf stops – for hours – after about 70 miles.

It’s an economic Catch 22 – and ought to be an obvious one.

If money’s tight, you don’t spend $30,000 on anything you don’t absolutely have to spend it on. Certainly not an indulgence such as a brand-new car. Even if it’s free to operate it, you still have to buy it. And if the car in question costs $30k – remember, that’s after the proposed $10k discount – that’s still $30,000 out of pocket. Anyone who got through sixth grade maff can see it’s probably smarter to buy a $10,000 new car like the Versa – or better yet, a perfectly serviceable $6,000 or so used car. If you’re trying to avoid the poorhouse, the last thing you want is a car payment for the next 5-6 years.

Unless, of course, you like being poor.

Hence, it’s no surprise – or ought not to be a surprise – that the typical Volt “buyer” (according to GM CEO Dan Akerson) is someone earning $170,000 per year. Someone, in other words, who doesn’t need to worry much about the cost of gas. Or the cost of cars. Someone, in other words, who can afford an expensive toy. Unfortunately for GM – and for us – there are only so many such people. The mass market GM needs to make a car like the Volt economically viable doesn’t exist – because it cannot exist.

It is an oxymoron.

People who need something affordable to drive don’t buy $30,000 toys. Which is why, Mr. President, the Volt and the Leaf aren’t selling.

The whole thing’s a disaster of Edsel-esque proportions.

GM has thrown more than $1.2 billion – remember, much of this is being our $1.2 billion, via the bailout – at the Volt. And GM can’t give the things away – literally. The two-year $199/month lease deal GM recently put on the table out of sheer desperation to get at least some of these things off the dealer’s lots – and maybe save a little face – means there are people driving around in $89,000 Volts for less than $5,000 for two years – on your nickel and mine.

And it’s still insufficient inducement to “move product,” for all the obvious reasons already discussed.

But unlike the Edsel fiasco, GM – and The One – insist on throwing good money after bad. And unlike Ford, which lost its own money on the Edsel, this time, it’s our money being squandered. (At least Nissan isn’t getting bailout money on top of the electric car subsidy money.)

There is apparently no limit to it, either.

When $10,000 per car proves inadequate – which it will – the subsidy will probably be increased, perhaps to $15,000. Maybe they will decide to just pay people to take the cars home. Nothing down – and nothing per month. Just hand them over to anyone who wants – and give these “buyers” a monthly stipend to cover the cost of electricity. Maybe then they’ll “sell.” The One will explain that he has “created jobs” and is “investing in the future,” too.

None of this, of course, would ever have happened if moral hazard were operative. If GM and Nissan and everyone else had had to put their own money (and their own corporate asses) on the line, the Volt, the Leaf and all the others would never have been produced. Not as production cars, at any rate. Maybe as concept cars – to show what might be doable and to gauge market reaction. But never in a million years would GM have put one billion on the line – except for the fact that the one billion was not GM’s to put on the line. Or at least, not GM’s to worry about losing. If the Volt fails – and so far, it has failed catastrophically – it won’t be GM left holding the bag.

It will be me – and you.

Throw it in the Woods?

http://ericpetersautos.com/2012/09/1...ore-expensive/
 
Old October 10th, 2012 #23
Alex Linder
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[two articles that show the fundamental difference between the public sector and the private sector: Greece vs Fedex]

[good explanation of how socialism has laid Greece low, although of course they don't call it socialism]

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
The Cost of Protecting Greece’s Public Sector

By JOHN SFAKIANAKIS
October 10, 2012

For generations, political power in Greece has been based in large part on providing public sector jobs in exchange for votes. To protect workers from being thrown out when a rival party came to power, virtually iron-clad job protections for government workers were enshrined in the Constitution.

Though it was very rare for a government worker to be dismissed, this did not stop politicians from continuing to hire supporters — feeding a bloated, inefficient and expensive public sector that was accountable to no one.

Every political party, whether in the coalition government or in opposition, fears the consequences of losing the support of a voting bloc of more than 700,000 government employees and their families.

So today, for every seven private employees who have been laid off, only one has left the public sector. This leaves fewer and fewer workers in a country where the unemployment rate now hovers around 25 percent to pay the taxes that provide the salaries for the people who work for the government.

The current government, formed by the New Democracy, Pasok and Democratic Left political parties, while devoted to keeping Greece in the euro zone, makes no secret of its allegiance to its supporters in the public sector. When the coalition was formed in June it immediately issued a statement saying that “the general aim is no more cuts to salaries and pensions, no more taxes,” and added that it would not carry out any public sector layoffs.

Greece’s creditors — the troika comprised of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — have made public-sector layoffs a condition for providing the next tranche of the biggest bailout in history. But political pressure remains fierce. Many analysts say that the newfound strength of Syriza, the formerly fringe leftist group that is now the main opposition party in Parliament, came as support eroded for the governing coalition that is trying to reform Greece.

The expansion of Greece’s huge government sector took decades to create, but its growth in recent years has been particularly striking. Public employment grew by fivefold from 1970 through 2009 — at an annual growth rate of 4 percent, according to a recent academic study by Zafiris Tzannatos and Iannis Monogios.. Over the same four decades, employment in the private sector increased by only 27 percent — an annual rate of less than 1 percent.

“Instead of shrinking the bloated government apparatus and making it more efficient, New Democracy and Pasok hardly even touched it,” Stefanos Manos, a former Greek finance minister, said in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine in June.

The two parties, which alternated in power in the decades since the end of military rule in 1974, “increased the taxes to unhealthy levels and risked a recession to protect their clientele in the state apparatus,” Manos said.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in some government agencies overstaffing was considered to be around 50 percent. Yet so bloated were the managerial ranks that one in five departments did not have any employees apart from the department head, and less than one in 10 had over 20 employees. Tenure ruled over performance as the factor determining pay.

Wages in the public sector were on average almost one and half times higher than in the private sector. Government spending on public employees’ salaries and social benefits rose by around 6.5 percentage points of G.D.P. from 2000 to 2009, while revenue declined by 5 percentage points during the same period. The solution was to borrow more.

Continuous over-consumption in the public sector has contributed to productivity losses and trade imbalances. In a report last year, the World Economic Forum ranked Greece’s public institutions No. 84 in the world. Germany was 13.

Public sector wages account for some 27 percent of the government’s total expenditures. As the crisis has worsened, Greece has shed some government workers, mostly through retirement, but it has failed to implement a so-called labor reserve law last year, which called for the eventual slashing of 30,000 public sector jobs. According to the country’s national statistical service, since December 2009 the number of people working for the government is down 12 percent. But the number of workers in the private sector has dropped by 55 percent.

Painful salary, pension cuts and higher taxation could have been avoided had the public sector been downsized from the outset of the crisis. Had the rate of public sector layoffs been doubled, the country may have been close to a surplus in 2011 and would have likely achieved one in 2012. The pension system could have been in better shape, and taxpayers could have avoided paying more while earning less.

In the past, a more productive and expanding private sector could have withstood — to a degree — the financial drain of a costly and profligate public sector. Today, shielding the public sector is no longer an option, especially when it comes at the expense of the rest of the population.

John Sfakianakis is a Greek economist.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/11/op...ic-sector.html




FedEx Cuts Back As “Evolving Market” Demands Less Shipping

By Tom Gara

One to add to the less-than-excellent economic signals file: when a company whose results are seen as a proxy for its country’s economy starts scaling down its business to fit with a new era of reduced demand.

That, basically, is the story over at Fedex FDX +5.15%, which today announced more details of its $1.7bn plan to improve profitability, primarily through cost-cutting at its express delivery business. ”Customers in key markets have been shipping less, with lower demand for priority services,” said Dave Bronczek, president of the Express unit, at its investors’ meeting today, the WSJ’s Bob Sechler reported. “We must implement a plan to compete effectively and profitably in this evolving market.”

A big part of the plan is to phase out its older delivery trucks – about 5,000 of them – and airplanes, and replace them with more modern, fuel efficient ones. Just upgrading the aircraft alone is expected to save $300m within the next two years, and that’s a tidy sum of money in a business with operating margins of just 3.1% in the most recent quarter, and a huge dependence on fuel-guzzling machines to push all those packages around the world.

So the company is both retooling for a new economic reality, and modernizing its infrastructure, and often these two moves are one and the same. We had a chat with the WSJ’s Sechler, who covers the company closely and has spent the last two days at its investor meeting, to get a feeling for how this program will play out and what it says about the environment FedEx is operating in. A few points from his side:

- These changes reflect a real shift in demand, as overall trade volumes fall, and customers choose cheaper options to ship their goods: boats rather than planes, ground-based delivery timed by the day, rather than air freight timed to the minute. There is less business to go around, and among what is left, demand is shifting to FedEx’s more affordable (but also more profitable) ground division.

- Some business is simply moving to competitors, particularly overseas, where FedEx’s ground business is less developed. In sea freight – getting more popular among customers willing to save money by waiting longer for goods to arrive – FedEx is not in the game at all, apart from a small but growing freight forwarding business, Fedex Trade Networks, which directs goods through third-party shippers on behalf of clients.

- Some of these changes can be reversed, or slowed, if trade picks up as part of a suprise economic recovery (which the company thinks would be unlikely before the end of 2013). For example, the company says that should business pick up, it could slow the pace at which it decommissions older trucks and aircraft, keeping them in service longer to keep up with surprise demand.

- Some of these changes are about modernizing, not just cutting back due to a slowdown. Better computer systems and technology means the company can just do more – or the same – with less people. “Several thousand” staff are expected to take voluntary buyouts once all this is over.

Investors seemed happy with the plans explained to them at today’s conference – shares closed up 5.15% today.

http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intel...less-shipping/
 
Old October 29th, 2012 #24
Rick Ronsavelle
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Complex Problems require Complex Solutions (0+ / 0-)

As I said in the article, it's only one part of a much larger and grander reform package we need. I'll probably be posting new diaries as I write out different pieces.

But we have to attack the problem at every source, we've got a hydra on our hands and we can't just expect to lop off one head and get it. We have to take all of them out at once.

Also, the problem with Free Market Capitalism is that it requires an increasingly large regulatory state to function without eating itself alive. That is a principle weakness because of how easy it is to dismantle the regulatory state.

(Regulated) Free market capitalism eventually becomes Lassez-Faire free market capitalism thanks to political corruption and deceptive media campaigns financed by moneyed interests.

by Fallout2man on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 05:13:43 PM PDT

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/1...allacy-of-Gold

After 45 years I have now seen everything:

Free Market Capitalism [is that it] requires an increasingly large regulatory state to function. Then the free-market turns into laissez-faire. . .thanks to politics. . .OMFG. . .
 
Old October 30th, 2012 #25
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http://www.kitco.com/KitcoNewsVideo/...tml?v=12-10-26 Doug Casey_1

I think Alex Linder would welcome this man to VNNF !

This man must read VNNF ! He might be a poster ! LOL !
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Old November 1st, 2012 #26
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This isn't Capitalism, its goyim economic serfdom.
 
Old November 12th, 2012 #27
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But I Thought Ron Paul Was the Candidate of Big Business

by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

All through the 2012 campaign, we had to listen to naive progressives who thought Ron Paul was the obvious choice for big business, since after all he favored competitive markets, lower taxes, etc. Somehow they missed that Dr. Paul opposed all bailouts, opposed all corporate welfare, and wanted to shut down Bailout Inc., the Federal Reserve. For reasons that to this day have not been made clear, this counted for nothing.

Also counting for nothing is the fact that virtually every Wall Street firm you can think of would, in the words of Albert Jay Nock, see the whole world burn down before they would accept a pure free market. They want a system that benefits them.

Here’s Michael Jones, CIO of Riverfront Investment Group, explaining on election eve, as the re-election of Obama is looking increasingly likely, why “the market” will be relieved that no sound-money person like a Ron Paul will be appointed to the Fed. (By “the market” he doesn’t mean the array of voluntary exchanges in society; he means the parasites that need non-market institutions like the Fed in order to survive.)

The one thing you’ve definitively and undeniably taken off the table, is whomever [sic] replaces Bernanke is 2014 will be every bit as committed to monetary accommodation as Bernanke is. So there’s no chance of a Jim Grant, Ron Paul, hard-money advocate at the Federal Reserve at the end of Bernanke’s term and that’s a tremendous reassurance to the market.

If Obama wins, which is looking likely, the fiscal cliff is on the table, hard money is off the table, and net-net, I think the market will say, ‘Well, we never were that scared about the fiscal cliff anyway, and isn’t it going to be great to have Bernanke at the Fed for the foreseeable future.’

Reprinted with permission from TomWoods.com.

November 12, 2012
 
Old May 2nd, 2013 #28
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Nothing has changed our view... So we'll get back to where we left off yesterday – making camp for the night after a long horse trek into the distant reaches of our remote Argentine ranch...

The night was cold. The floor was hard.

There were three of us in a tiny room of a small, bare stone house – our accommodation for the night. Elizabeth and I together on one side. On the other was our friend Sophie, a young French woman who was eager to make the trip with us.

Sophie is a model, actress and swimming teacher. She had no practice on horseback before arriving at the ranch two weeks ago. But she is young and athletic... and seemed to catch on fast.

In the night, the only sound heard was the gentle breathing of the two women. Snug in their sleeping bags, they didn't move...

But each time I started to doze off, I woke up gasping for oxygen. The air was too thin.

In the daytime, I had no problem. But my nighttime breathing rhythm, which I had adapted to cope with being 9,000 feet above sea level, was not quite enough for 10,000 feet.

Also, the inflatable mattress we had pumped up before going to bed had deflated during the night. We turned in at about 9:30 p.m. By about 3 a.m. I felt the hard stones pressing into my back. But it was too cold to get out of bed to inflate the mattresses again.

At about 6:30 a.m., the light coming through the holes in the roof and the cracks in the door changed color. No longer was it just the white light of the moon. It began to have a yellowish... then reddish... hue.

Out of our sleeping bags, it was freezing cold. There was frost on the ground and ice on the shallow lakes in the valley.

Jorge, who runs our ranch, and who slept in the room next door, made a fire in the "kitchen" and put water in the hanging can above it to make morning tea.

We pushed out the little air left in our mattresses and rolled up our sleeping bags while Jorge saddled up the horses. Then, trembling in the cold morning air, we stood by the kitchen door and drank our tea.

Sophie wore a poncho. On her head, she had wrapped a scarf, giving her a strange and exotic Berber look. Her mother's family is Algerian... and for the first time, we saw the North African in her face.

"That's a nice style for you," we told her.

"Style? I don't care about style. I'm just trying to keep warm."

A Treacherous Trail

We were eager to mount up – hoping that some heat might rise from the horses. But by that time, the sun was breaching the top of the mountains to the east of the valley. Within minutes, we felt it on our faces and on our backs. The sun, which we ducked and dodged in the middle of the day, was a welcome visitor in the morning.

We set out. Elizabeth, Sophie and I were mounted on horses – mixtures of Spanish and criollo – and Jorge on a mule, pulling another mule packed with our supplies behind him. We headed east across the rivers and lakes of the valley floor to a quebrada – a break – in the mountains that surround Compuel.

Turning to look back, the moon was still out over the gray-brown mountains to the west. The cattle watched us go. Ducks rose from the marshes and flew away from us. The horses bounced their way toward the quebrada, eager to get back to their corrals.

But the going was a lot harder than the coming. The pass between the mountains was scarcely more than 30 feet wide. The river was swift and full of huge boulders. The only way forward was up the mountain along a track worn over centuries. We had been on this trail for only a few minutes when we began to realize what a difficult route we had taken.

"I haven't been over this trail in 10 years," Jorge told us.

Even in the best of times, the trail was treacherous. High above the river, on the side of the mountain, the horses' hooves slipped and slid on the granite rocks.

Our lead horse fell hard while trying to jump down from one rock to another. We dismounted... leading the horses, rather than trying to ride them. This left us all scrambling over the rocks, trying to make progress over what appeared to be an increasingly impassable and dangerous path.

Jorge was worried. He said nothing, but we could see it in his face. Frequently, he got off his mule to help encourage a reluctant horse down from the rocks... to cinch up the saddles... or to just check on us.

He had led us into a tough spot. Not only was the trail more difficult than he remembered, but much of it was missing. We would head in one direction... and the trail, such as it was, would disappear. The horses would have to turn around on the narrow ledge and backtrack.

More than one time, it looked as if there were no going forward or backward. The horses, bruised and scratched... with bleeding hooves and cactus needles sticking their legs... had to be coaxed and threatened to make them continue.

But it was not only the horses who suffered. Dismounting, we lost our footing and fell down the hill, hitting a hip on a granite boulder. Our elbows bled. Our hip was painful... but only when we walked. We got back on the horse and let him do the walking.

When the ride began, we felt the sting of the thorn bushes. But after an hour or two, we scarcely noticed them. We rode right through them; only potentially lethal dangers concerned us now. We kept an eye on Sophie. It was easy to get hurt.

Amid the Ruins

After two or three hours, we had worked our way down to a slightly lower level. On the right and left – on the mountains on both sides of the river – we noticed rectangular stone walls... hundreds of them.

"The Incas lived here," Jorge explained. "You can see their aqueduct high on the mountain. They used it to water all these fields."

"Incas" is the word used by the locals for all the peoples of the area before the Spanish arrived. Archeologists say the Inca had outposts here. But this was the southern edge of the Inca Empire. And the local people – known as Diaguitas – were in these valleys thousands of years before the Incan conquest in the 13th or 14th centuries.

Whoever was responsible for it, their system of irrigation was much more extensive than it is today. The ranch still uses many of the same trails and irrigation ditches that the Diaguitas developed long before the Spanish arrived, but they are lower down and less technologically impressive. The abandoned aqueducts we were looking at would require far more maintenance, labor and engineering know-how than we would attempt today.

And why did they bother? Why not do their farming lower down in the valley, where we still farm today?

No one knows.

We came to an abandoned homestead.

"This is a place that used to be lived in... but a long time ago. When I was a boy, there was someone here. But it hasn't been farmed since."

There were the remains of a stone farmhouse, like the one in which we had just spent the night. Several other buildings... including a beehive-shaped oven... were still intact, but without roofs. Pottery fragments were everywhere. So too were the terraces built by the Indians long ago.

"What happened? How come this was abandoned?" we asked.

"Probably, we had a couple of dry years. The people here probably moved down to a lower level. This is just too high. Too dry. And that's why this path is not used anymore. It used to be used all the time. People in Pucarilla had cattle in Compuel. They traded their onions and corn for goats and wool. Believe it or not, there was a lot of traffic here... on foot and on mules."

The Death of an Ancient Culture

Jorge got a smile on his face.

"But that was a few years ago. Things are changing. People today don't want to work as hard as they did long ago. Life up here is hard. Now, they can just go to Molinos or Cafayate. They can get money from the government for not working and sit in their houses and watch television.

"Two of the worst things to happen to our area are electricity and those family assistance payments. The government came in and put in solar power in all these rural houses.

"We don't get television reception up here, but the gente buy DVD players so they can watch movies and TV shows. Then they see a different way of living. They want different things. They don't want to spend their lives cut off from this life they see on television.

"The government also gives out money to people who don't work – particularly to unmarried women with children. So now they don't want to do the hard work they used to do.

"It's a lot of work to keep goats or llama or cattle up in the mountains. You have to take care of them every day or the puma will eat them. And then you have to milk the goats and make cheese... and turn the wool into threads so you can knit sweaters. And people up here in the mountains used to grow all their own food or trade their animals for it.

"But I'm afraid all that is going to be a thing of the past soon. You know, if you look at the way I lived as a child... and the way most of the gente still live... it's not much different from the way our ancestors lived thousands of years ago. We raised animals. We grew crops. We lived on what we produce ourselves. And we watered our fields using the same aqueducts... and we get around on the same paths... as our ancestors did.

"Now that life is starting to disappear. Natalio, Nolberto and Pedro – who work for us – they're all about my age. They're used to working hard. They grew up like I did. They can't imagine not working hard.

"But their children are different. They watch television. They don't want to stay here and work hard. That's why I've got Christian... and Pablo working for me and not Alejo and Bartolomo. Christian and Pablo come from families high up in the mountains. They still know how to work. Christian's family lives at Atacamara... it's at 13,000 feet. Life there is very tough.

"Bartolomo left for Cordoba. I don't know where Alejo is. They know they can go to the city and get jobs. Or collect money from the government. And maybe get a truck, rather than riding on a mule. They know they don't have to work so hard. They can work eight hours a day... and then watch television. Or not work at all.

"Electricity and welfare payments are ruining this country.

"This life... the life in these mountains as it has been for maybe thousands of years... is now disappearing. In a few years, I reckon only a few old people will remember how to make raw wool into a poncho... or how to collect herbs in the mountains to make tea... or how to make their own cheese and mill their own grains.

"You know what gualfin really means? It means the 'end of the road' or the 'place at the end.' That's where we are. The end of the road. I'm 62. In a few years, I'll retire. So will Nolberto, Natalio and Pedro. Then a new generation will take over. It will be very different."

May 2, 2013

Bill Bonner is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Agora, one of the largest independent financial publishers in the world. If you would like to read more of Bill’s essays, sign-up for his free daily e-letter at Bill Bonner’s Diary of a Rogue Economist.

Copyright © 2013 Bill Bonner

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Old December 5th, 2013 #29
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An astonishing thread - many people believe with the faith of religious nuts, to be redundant, that our government is a great success, and much more efficient than private business.

http://gawker.com/here-is-your-bible...ies-1476546354

CatFiveHimmicaneUThemandamandable1L U
Yeah, instead of serving their customers to get money, they should steal it by force, like good honest selfless 'public servants' do.

If they're serving the public, why can't I say no.

You know - like I can to businessmen. Just now
 
Old December 5th, 2013 #30
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To the illiberal, trying to make a profit is a sin, but coercing others into giving you money is a virtue, or at least nothing the victim can reasonably complain about.
 
Old December 5th, 2013 #31
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jimmyneutron7UAdam Weinstein1L U
I am generally anti-privatization, and a lot of the examples from Indiana above are very valid examples. But when it works well, it is something to behold. See: Indiana's updated BMV. Wait times were consistently below 15 minutes throughout the state and the satisfaction rate was over 95% in 2012. The first time I went into one it felt like walking into an Apple store with someone greeting you at the door, referring to you by your first name, and sincerely working hard to get you in and out as soon as possible. Yesterday 3:20pm

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Great comment. Cool they consigned it to the apartheid section they keep for rational comments. Just now
 
Old December 5th, 2013 #32
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David PothecaryUAdam Weinstein1L U
Privatisation actually works pretty well when it's done properly. Unfortunately it relies upon one of the things that the public sector is resolutely and universally terrible at - negotiating contracts. Yesterday 5:28pm
 
Old December 5th, 2013 #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
To the illiberal, trying to make a profit is a sin, but coercing others into giving you money is a virtue, or at least nothing the victim can reasonably complain about.
Interesting contrast I recently observed:

At the exit of the grocery store in town, the annual Salvation Army red donation pot brimming over with emotional public extortion (by way of near exclusively loose change and the occasional single, I'm guessing) is out once again.

During the weekday morning off-times, it's manned by your stereotypical (usually non-white) recently detoxed unshaven "will work for food" sort that gets hired out as day labor. You know the type.

They seem pretty apathetic about the mission of their army, nary a jingle on the provided bell which is not in hand, no hearty "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!" if they're geopolitically savvy enough to understand the surly Somalis that just stiffed them probably aren't Methodist, no Santa hat, nary a "God Bless!" when a donation hits the pot, nothing. Just a furtive glance in the direction of your wife's ass between drags off the Marlboro he bummed off the guy that collects the carts in the parking lot as you walk past pretending you don't see him.

But on the weekends, the money days, The Salvation Army escalates their efforts. They send in the Santa Forces. White guy, mid 50s. Santa hat and a truly impressive beard he keeps for 11 fucking months to shine just for December, baby. Impossibly jolly. Ebullient over every donation. Swinging that bell like Michael J. Fox on coke. And here's the hook: Adorable tow-headed 5 year old boy and girl dressed as elves yelling "Merry Christmas!" every time the automatic doors swing open. Nice.
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Old December 5th, 2013 #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnie in Ohio View Post
Interesting contrast I recently observed:

At the exit of the grocery store in town, the annual Salvation Army red donation pot brimming over with emotional public extortion (by way of near exclusively loose change and the occasional single, I'm guessing) is out once again.

During the weekday morning off-times, it's manned by your stereotypical (usually non-white) recently detoxed unshaven "will work for food" sort that gets hired out as day labor. You know the type.

They seem pretty apathetic about the mission of their army, nary a jingle on the provided bell which is not in hand, no hearty "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!" if they're geopolitically savvy enough to understand the surly Somalis that just stiffed them probably aren't Methodist, no Santa hat, nary a "God Bless!" when a donation hits the pot, nothing. Just a furtive glance in the direction of your wife's ass between drags off the Marlboro he bummed off the guy that collects the carts in the parking lot as you walk past pretending you don't see him.

But on the weekends, the money days, The Salvation Army escalates their efforts. They send in the Santa Forces. White guy, mid 50s. Santa hat and a truly impressive beard he keeps for 11 fucking months to shine just for December, baby. Impossibly jolly. Ebullient over every donation. Swinging that bell like Michael J. Fox on coke. And here's the hook: Adorable tow-headed 5 year old boy and girl dressed as elves yelling "Merry Christmas!" every time the automatic doors swing open. Nice.
Damn... They work it hard here. They get the prime spot, outside our Hy-Vee, which has a lot of traffic. I actually have given them money a time or two because they provide a genuine service to poor people, and I'm not talking about their shitty religion, altho it can help people who are so weak willed they've gotten addicted to booze or drugs. Honestly, that's probably the only social good the cult really does; it can transfer the addictions of some of the low-enders from drugs onto its shitty fictions, making them less of a burden on non-botches. Generally I just round up purchases in their store, I don't really like being hit up when I'm trying to buy some potatoes. Their bell ringers tend to be women here, no cute children or teen girls or Santas. Once I tried to hand a man working the kettle a couple bucks, but he wouldn't take it - had to go directly into the kettle. That's some kind of policy with them, I guess. I respect that. I don't know...they save me a lot of money, so I donate some back. Get a lot of books there cheap, too.

They get a lot of stuff too - their back is absolutely loaded. I gave them a bunch of stuff a couple weeks ago, and they have more and better stuff in their back than their front, in many ways. I sometimes wonder if they make money selling the best stuff they get donated to for-profit thrift shops, and only put out what's left over. In any case, I find them real good for cheap books, cheap kitchen items, cheap plastic stuff, and clothing.

I support Salvation Army because it helps poorer people without hurting or coercing others. Unlike government.
 
Old December 6th, 2013 #35
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I have noticed is that one thing you are not permitted to mention, at least not in "polite society" and
certainly not on this college campus, is the notion that the government is greedy and meddlesome.

Oh, my God. The rants and raves against the plutocrats, the 1 percenters (Adonai forbid you mention the J word over who that 1 percent is),
the greedy politicians. All they want is profit. One of the most evil words there is. Along with White, nation, IQ and jew, mustn't ever say the word
"profit" unless you're talking the same way you would about a pedophile who's just looking for a kid to rape.

"That man is just looking for a profit."

Well, any time the taxes go up, that profits the government, right? They get more money and power right? Every new department and "funding increase"
is a profit for them, right? The existing customers-at-gunpoint have to buy more merchandise they neither need nor want. Profit.

"All these capitalist pigs want is money and power! They only care about profits!"

Pardon me, but in my lifetime, federal expenditure per year has increased from 1 trillion dollars to 4 trillion. Yet that isn't greed? Quadrupling "the budget"
in less than 30 years isn't greed?

I'll end by saying that the problem with centralized governance is that it doesn't have a budget. It has a "deficit."
The federal government doesn't have a "budget." That is the problem. You and I have budgets because we have to watch our money or suffer.
Japan, Germany and China will not bail you and I out with 3 percent interest loans. The federal government goes into debt on other people's money and
if it can't get enough other people's money it prints money and get a trillion dollars of loans at 3 percent interest. Go ahead and walk into your local bank
branch and ask if you could get a business loan with 3 percent interest. I dare you.

Is there any state or federal budget in the nation that is solvent? Or do they all "deficit spend?"

If somebody makes 30 grand a year and has 170 grand of debt, they're crazy. Like, what the fuck is wrong with them?
Or they just wouldn't get the loans and credit to begin with.

That private sector person with 6 times more debt than the money he makes is a lunatic as are the people who loaned him all that money
that he can never pay off. But the government? They prudently "deficit spend." Deficit spending sounds so much better than
"Paying interest on an amount of money 6 times greater than what you make in a year."
 
Old February 7th, 2014 #36
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It's Russia, not U.S. Putin seems like a comparatively reasonable man, by the low, low standard of US presidents, yet he's the driving force behind winning the Olympics for Sochi. Just read the sort of stuff the immense amount of money (i think $50 billion) is being spent on. It's pure nutso. This comes out of the pockets of ordinary Russians, who won't be able to attend the games, or derive any particular advantage from them.

http://gizmodo.com/how-sochi-is-maki...323/@tcraggs22

Your taxdollars at work, Mr. Russian: buying "450 industrial snow-making machines." Jesus on a zamboni!

Last edited by Alex Linder; February 7th, 2014 at 12:58 AM.
 
Old February 7th, 2014 #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
It's Russia, not U.S. Putin seems like a comparatively reasonable man, by the low, low standard of US presidents, yet he's the driving force behind winning the Olympics for Sochi. Just read the sort of stuff the immense amount of money (i think $50 billion) is being spent on. It's pure nutso. This comes out of the pockets of ordinary Russians, who won't be able to attend the games, or derive any particular advantage from them.

http://gizmodo.com/how-sochi-is-maki...323/@tcraggs22

Your taxdollars at work, Mr. Russian: buying "450 industrial snow-making machines." Jesus on a zamboni!

Yeah it's fucking crazy.

The amount of money Russia has pumped into its unstable peripheral southern regions, especially since Putin took control, is absolutely astonishing. This will ultimately drain a nation which is already in a very unhealthy biological condition, especially when one considers the pace at which the white population in the country is dying out.

Just think of how that money could have been used to seal borders, round up/ expel all non Whites, and stimulate the ethnic Russian birthrate. Some of it could have even been used to fund and support nationalist movements like Golden Dawn.
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Old February 8th, 2014 #38
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On the one hand I feel the Olympics are a waste of money, but on the other hand hosting such a spectacle could change the global image of the much defamed Russian nation. Generally speaking, hosting the Olympics is something done by up and coming superpowers to improve their image, precisely why Germany hosted it in '36. With all the great lies the Jewish media was circulating internationally about the German revolution, Hitler opened the doors of Germany to the world, where they were able to see the truth for themselves. Even blacks like Jesse Owens came away with a positive opinion of Hitler, more positive than of Rosenfelt.

Russia's on its path to challenge the dying America, especially in the wild struggle for East Mediterranean influence between the Zionist bloc (Israel, USA, Turkey) and non-aligned nations (Russia, Syria, Iran, etc). The cost was ridiculous, but there's a reason why the judenpresse, EU and the US State Department are working to hard to make Putin look diabolical and "backwards" right now.
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Old February 8th, 2014 #39
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The problem with capitalism is businesses large enough to influence society rarely have any higher or social goal other than giving people a temporary high and turning a profit.

There are already talks and pettitions for Disney to create an obese disney princess:

http://thoughtcatalog.com/elissa-san...be-overweight/

Fat chicks want to see themselves being swept away by the handsome, wealthy Prince. With half of America's children being overweight, what's stopping them from a profit point of view? "Real" bodies (...of American women) are what people are willing to pay to see, as it makes them temporarily feel good, and the healthy girls who see it will think being fat is normal or acceptable and fall into the trap as well.

End result of consumer rule: a whole nation of infantile fat chicks expecting a handsome, wealthy Prince.


Compare that to a Fascist government that would, instead, celebrate physical exercise and fill the void people have in their gut with something of spiritual substance-ideals and goals-instead of ice cream and twinkies.

End result: a society full of people who are as healthy and enlightened as they can be.

The women of Nationalsocialist Germany:



The women created by the free market of Ameri-kwa:

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Old February 9th, 2014 #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_Smith View Post
On the one hand I feel the Olympics are a waste of money, but on the other hand hosting such a spectacle could change the global image of the much defamed Russian nation. Generally speaking, hosting the Olympics is something done by up and coming superpowers to improve their image, precisely why Germany hosted it in '36. With all the great lies the Jewish media was circulating internationally about the German revolution, Hitler opened the doors of Germany to the world, where they were able to see the truth for themselves. Even blacks like Jesse Owens came away with a positive opinion of Hitler, more positive than of Rosenfelt.
That's true, but Russia is nowhere near that level of competence. So they get stories about messed up toilets, sewage coming out of the water taps. It was China that did what Nazi Germany did - they have the money to afford it, and the competence to pull it off. Russia doesn't. Even the UK doesn't.

The West has gone a long way downhill. The last global event pulled off with aplomb by a western country was probably Germany hosting the World Cup (soccer) a few years ago.

Quote:
Russia's on its path to challenge the dying America, especially in the wild struggle for East Mediterranean influence between the Zionist bloc (Israel, USA, Turkey) and non-aligned nations (Russia, Syria, Iran, etc). The cost was ridiculous, but there's a reason why the judenpresse, EU and the US State Department are working to hard to make Putin look diabolical and "backwards" right now.
That may be, but Russia certainly gives them a lot to work with. I mean, no one really likes China, but there was global awe at their opening ceremonies. Hell, loving regimentation as you do, you probably liked it yourself.
 
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