Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Love is Love

27 December 2017

love is love yard sign

The sign in my neighbors’ yard.


The sign
Pictured above is the sign that serves as a jumping-off point for this little article.

This one is the only one I have seen in my neighborhood, however, when I walked through the Land Park neighborhood (an affluent area just south of downtown built in the early 1900s) I saw several of them.

The Sacramento Bee ran an article concerning this sign sometime back, reporting that someone had gotten in trouble with their neighborhood association for posting this sign (and then getting more so other neighbors could put them in their yards) on the basis that it made the yards look “cluttered” and therefore could be a threat to local land values. This was a specious (deceptive) argument, to say the least.

The sign itself, of course, is a reaction to the perceived threat of a reactionary US President and the beliefs of those who brought him into office. But due to the need for visibility and limited space, the “liberal” concepts it tries to convey are delivered in oversimplified phrases that have very little literal meaning.

Most of these sentiments are stated as logical tautologies, or equivalences if you were speaking mathematically, by using the word “is” or “are.” In Dianetics, such phrases – if taken seriously – would be considered “identity thinking.” In identity thinking, “road” could equal “rode” could equal “rowed” because they are all pronounced the same. To state such a thing in writing, however, would be an obvious mistake, or taken as a joke.

Let’s go through these sentiments one at a time:

All People are Equal

Though, literally, this is obviously untrue (it would be truer to say, “all people are different”), it is of course meant to convey the idea that people should all be treated equally by our public institutions, such as police, courts, schools, even businesses.

This is a common liberal idea and is widely agreed to, yet obviously not well-complied with. Furthermore, propaganda meant to be divisive (as in “divide and conquer”) exploits the many obvious differences between people to weaken or break community bonds that tend to form normally as people live and work together. The huge question is: Who has been forwarding such divisive propaganda, and to what ends? It has been going on for centuries, and even though we have established equal rights for all in the legal arena, this seems to have very little effect on the divisive ideas spewing from…where?

Though the legal arena was an obvious target that needed to be corrected, it should be clear by now that it was not the source of these ideas, but simply used by some to enforce inequalities. Most liberals have nothing to say about this. They simply don’t know where the divisiveness is coming from.

Love is Love

Though totally meaningless at a superficial level, this I assume is meant to convey that we should not judge others based on who or what they love. It is a grand and sweeping concept, but rarely practiced with any rigor. What liberal, for instance, would welcome Scientology into their lives (though its concepts would assist them greatly in many ways)? The intellectual world has been so riddled with lies and half-truths (perhaps it has always been this way) that many cannot really decide what to believe, but tend to believe what they are told by individuals or institutions that are thought to align with their way of thinking.

Black Lives Matter

This is a restatement of the first sentiment for the case of race in particular. Black Lives Matter originated as an organization in 2013 after the Trayvon Martin shooting, when the killer was let off on the argument that he thought his life was in danger. It is only one of many historical attempts to deal with the obvious targeting of dark-skinned people, and particularly the people of Africa or African descent, for “inferior” treatment, if not outright extermination.

This was an issue when I was in junior high school (late 1960s) and there were concerted attempts to teach white children about black history even back then. It is obvious to me that this issue goes beyond the realm of ordinary human empathy and understanding and is being fueled by people who desperately want to keep it alive, don’t care about either whites or blacks or anyone in between, and have inserted themselves into society – largely undetected – in positions where they can continue to fan the flames of race hatred. I am sure those persons are hoping that race hatred will never die and that they will always have it in their arsenal of methods for weakening or destroying human communities.

Psychologically, such people are “criminally insane,” and our only hope on this issue is to identify them and shut down their operations. The average liberal, however, would not be able to think in these terms. That is why I – and many others – believe that liberalism itself has been subverted by some very slick operators who knew just what strings to pull.

Immigrants and Refugees are Welcome

I very much sympathize with this point of view, yet it is much easier said than done. The average local American community today is already overwhelmed by crime problems and/or economic problems. Local managers failed to notice or understand the takeovers they were experiencing, or let themselves be recruited into those operations on the promise of financial rewards.

Local communities should be able to expand to take on new residents and integrate them into the local economy. This has happened to various degrees in many places. Yet the same attitudes and knowledge gaps that allowed the general situation to deteriorate to the point it has impedes us in this effort as well.

And of course, most modern migration pressures have been caused by war, which is one of the biggest human failings of history and one of the most intractable. With what I have learned about this subject, I don’t think the human race will be successful in handling the subject of war unless it advances considerably in spiritual awareness. The subject has that much complexity associated with it.

Science is Real

Here again we have a sentiment rendered superficially meaningless through oversimplification of expression. I assume that what it is really referring to is the fact that the scientific community has long been warning about the ultimate consequences of our headlong march towards a high-tech planet.

An early example of this was the Ozone Hole. Certain man-made gasses were getting into the stratosphere where they were causing depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer, particularly at the poles. This was noticed in the 1970s, the link to CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons – freon) was proven, and steps were taken internationally to reduce airborne CFCs. Observations indicate that the “holes” discovered are now reducing. The ozone layer helps shield the planet from excessive ultraviolet light, which is damaging to life forms.

An odd back story on the ozone issue is that Billy Meier claims that his efforts contributed to the mobilization of the scientific community on this issue, and that his data came from his contacts, who were ostensibly ET (extra-terrestrial). Though there are many who don’t believe Meier at all, I do not share such a low opinion of him, and think his story is quite plausible.

The two above paragraphs taken together illustrate how “science,” or more properly the scientific community, actually behaves. One of the great scientists of earlier years, Gregor Mendel (genetics), though well-schooled, lived as the friar of a monastery for much of his adult life, and also worked as a teacher. All he needed for his work was time and a garden where he could grow his peas. His discoveries were significant, though not really recognized as such until after his death. Modern scientists often work with very complex and expensive machinery, for which they must convince corporate sponsors to provide large research grants. This leaves the sponsors, to some significant measure, in control of what science studies. Scientists have also been employed by governments to develop new weapons systems. The most significant modern example of this was the development of the atom bomb in the 1940s.

It is said that many scientists today are employed in secret programs. There are also many employed by a variety of companies for the purpose of developing ideas or materials that those companies can then use to enhance their profitability. The most scientific freedom is considered to exist at universities, yet I would guess that “garage scientists” have the most freedom today, limited though by their financial resources.

John E. Mack is an example of a tenured professor who got into trouble with his school administration (Harvard Medical School) due to his abiding interest in “alien abduction” experiences. Though he was vindicated, it is also noted that he had some very influential backers such as Laurence Rockefeller.

One might ask, then: What is real? This is what most people – and true liberals should be among the first to take a closer look at this – are having trouble with today. Various sectors of society have skipped ahead of the mainstream, and are exploring in areas that are considered quite “unreal” to most people. Those involved is such subjects are very aware of their reality, yet forces exist in society – as mentioned above – that would prefer the majority of the population not be exposed to such data yet, if ever.

A recent unusual event in this regard was the New York Times coverage of a story about a “secret” Pentagon program known as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program. The story then spread to other mainstream news outlets. This exposed mainstream audiences to the idea that UFOs are real, and that some possibly pose a military threat to Earth.

Women’s Rights are Human Rights

Though superficially this is simply a restatement of the earlier affirmation that “all people are equal,” I am guessing this refers in particular to “reproductive rights” which also intersects with the moral issue of sexual behavior.

This is a very touchy area. Everyone understands the need for sex as the way to perpetuate our species. But very few understand why they often feel compelled to indulge in sexual conduct regardless of their marital status or need, desire, or ability to nurture children. There is a disconnect there that few are able to fathom. On the one hand, the data I have indicate that it is wiser to err in the direction of celibacy. This somewhat supports the “Right” who want to keep sex “in the family.” But they don’t have my data and are usually operating under moral imperatives taught by their religions. I could say that in this case, those teachings were onto something. But where is the rest of the data, that would tie the whole thing together and give it some sense?

Look: If you are basically an immortal spiritual being, then – basically – there is no reason for sex to be important to you. But no one is talking about that angle of the issue. The result is an argument that could go on forever – and probably will.

Just to restate the data I have relating to abortion: The embryo is of course a living animal, on the order of a fish or a chicken. We consider it OK to kill fish or chickens, yet that is because we use them for food. Thus, the killing of an embryo is an otherwise pointless killing of an animal. The being – the personality, you could say – usually attaches to the body around the time of birth. At that point you are dealing with a full human being who should ideally have full human rights. Part of recognizing those rights, however, relies on recognizing what that human being really is and why it came here to live on Earth. Most people have no idea about this.

People and Planet are valued over Profit

This is the ideological link to various anti-capitalist ideologies that liberals have always been sympathetic to but never felt they needed to support 100 percent. This sentiment opens the door to wiping out big business. Yet, even though we all see that something is wrong in this sector of life, and has been for ages and ages, what exactly that is has never really been pinned down. Supporters of capitalism, and in particular of the idea of free markets have some very strong arguments. Yet they show no real superior understanding of the situation. Society’s charge towards a high-tech future, alluded to earlier, has been led by big corporations. Why should we trust our future to their leadership? I don’t think we should. But what the current situation is telling us is that those big companies know more about this subject than we do. And this is probably correct. So, if we can’t find some way to catch up, those new leaders become our de facto leaders. Right now, there’s just no one else out there wearing those boots. I don’t like it, but I know I don’t have the resources to replace them with more enlightened personnel.

Where I last worked, our company founder used to tell us that “risk is the moral justification for profit.” The implication was that profit (you could call it usury) would otherwise have no moral justification. However, the most basic economic concept of profit is embedded in the life cycle of our species. It is most obvious at the front end, when the being is growing its body, the body not yet big enough or strong enough to be fully productive. Someone who is fully productive has to be willing to share a portion of the wealth (or energy) it has earned with the younger ones who are not ready yet. Thus, he must make a “profit.” Profit for its own sake amounts to little more than a sort of PR or propaganda: “I am better than you are,” it says. Well, this might be true in some ways, but anyone who basically understood the situation would not indulge in such foolishness. My point is that profit per se is not our problem. Profit for its own sake can be a problem, and profits obtained by unethical (criminal) means is criminal profit and should be so treated.

According to higher ethical principles, when a being or group acts to enrich only itself at the expense of the other dynamics, they are not being ethical enough. This is probably what this line on the yard sign is really trying to convey.

Diversity is Celebrated

In contrast to the notion that “all people are equal” we are going to celebrate diversity. Well, this is a nice phrase. I’m not sure how it should be implemented, and you can see the irony in it, juxtaposed with the first phrase. But, what if you went ahead to say: Nonconformity is celebrated? This brings this issue out a little more sharply.

Compared to many places and cultures on this planet, the United States remains a quite liberal place and culture. Yet, something has changed. How was Communism able to retain its position as a “left wing” ideology even after abuses under Stalin and Mao clearly indicated is was operating closer to a totalitarianism? How did liberalism come to embrace atheism, even to the extent of rejecting the work of L. Ron Hubbard, as well as its more tradition-oriented relative, the New Age Movement? Why are most liberals so sure the Creationists are wrong?

In short: We have been played (fooled, as in a con game). A criminal element took advantage of our uncertainties, our insecurities, and our lack of really excellent memory to pull us into a game that we find very much less than ideal, and certainly not in good alignment with our own ideals.

We were on the verge, in the 1960s, of beginning to discover what the rest of our universe – starting with our own moon – was really all about. And certain individuals, certain groups, did not want this to occur. So they began on a course of establishing a wall of fake knowledge to keep us away from higher truths that would have been inconvenient for us to learn. A few found out anyway, and they were marginalized (like LRH was) or eliminated (like JFK was) as seemed suitable to that new enforcement group. The rest who know are either part of that group, are too afraid of them to speak out, or are considered too unimportant to warrant much attention.

As was briefly mentioned above, there seems to be some change in this situation in very recent times. It remains to be seen how far-reaching that change will be. Certainly, my church continues to forge ahead. Yet it is still encountering strong opposition in some quarters. More “whistle blowers” are coming forward. Yet what they have to share does not seem that revelatory at this point.

But all this could change. For one thing, LRH’s work has been on the planet for over 60 years now, longer than I have been alive. People are studying and applying those materials. For most who are so exposed, there is no turning back. Like the people who have out-of-body experiences. The impression it has on them is just too strong to ignore. And beyond that, the UFO sightings just won’t go away. They are a constant reminder – almost to the point of nagging – that we need to get smart as a species and quick.

I for one cannot predict a time in the near future when things will get quiet and peaceful here on Earth the way they used to be before the Industrial Revolution. I am aware that we are faced with choices, choices that most don’t even fully understand. There seem to be basically two: “progress” and “sustainability.” “Progress” leads us into an era of Space Opera. At this point, most of us don’t realize that we have all lived through Space Opera probably multiple times before. So it is being successfully promoted as a step forward in our evolution as a species. That’s a lie, and the current managers seem to be afraid we will remember our own pasts and realize this. The other choice involves a retreat from Space Opera into a time of ecological balance and spiritual improvement. Those promoting this are wonderful people, very idealistic. But they really have no idea what they are up against. They will end up with the best karma, but it is unclear what else they will end up with.

A third choice exists. It involves getting smart very quick, and then choosing a more workable path than either of the two main paths currently being offered to us. That would be a great adventure. The potential for great wins is enormous. And I suppose so is the potential for great losses. But if you factor in the knowledge that a being is basically unkillable and always at cause, I think the potential for win is greater, as these are immutable truths that no one can really take from us, no matter how hard they try.

As we approach a new year, I wish all who read this a great and most remarkable future.

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UFO History and Other News

15 December 2017

I listened to an LRH lecture recently that I think is worth quoting at length:

But what about the society at large? Do you realize that if tomorrow an invasion of Earth were threatened by some other planet, that you wouldn’t have talk about international or inter-nation-al activity like war? Nobody would be worrying about war between Bulgaria and Fulgaria. Nobody would be worrying about war, because another game was sitting there. Everybody would get a lot smarter. The incidence of psychosis and neurosis would drop most alarmingly. See what I mean?

If all of a sudden some of these flying saucers that occasionally flick around here and cause the army so much upset —they found a couple of them crashed, you know, and they say “Eek!” They’ve got molecular sealing construction plates so you can’t find any seam and when you try to go into them with a torch, why, you get cohesion of its seams. And then they can’t get it open. And they take X—rays of the machinery through the metal, you know, to get pictures to find out what’s in there because obviously nobody…They’ve had lot of fun. Terrific amount of sport they’ve engaged in this way. They’ve found some of these things, but they haven’t found enough of them and it’s not comprehensible enough to really upset anybody.

If you had a saucer suddenly pull in over Chicago and say, “Your money or your life. People of Earth, we don’t come in peace…” At-at-at-at-at! Earth would mobilize. We’re not quite sure what it would mobilize, BB guns or something, but it would mobilize. And you certainly wouldn’t have any more international war.

But after you’ve got this interplanetary war going, what would you do then? I mean, that’s going and they’ve finally settled peace and we’ve got this particular end of the galaxy all straightened out. And war is sporadic and occasional, but we have a police force engaged.

I guess this system would have to go to war with another system in order to make enough fight. And then when that was all straightened out, then this galaxy would have to go to war with another galaxy in order to get it all straightened out. And I guess this universe, then, eventually would have to go to war with another universe to get it all straightened out.

Or instead of such a silly route, we could just get down to work and process the groups of people so that they would be willing to let others live and live themselves. Now, there really is no choice, in other fields, than these two. We either put Man into a condition where he can extrovert and play a game here on Earth as himself, as individuals and as groups, or we go off and find ourselves a hot saucer and go at—at-at—at-at—at! over Chicago. There’s these two solutions. There isn’t much other solution. Now, we have a saucer rescue squad ready…[laughter]

We have—all joking aside, I’m joking, you see. We have, actually, many ways we could prevent an atomic bombing occurring here on Earth—many ways. Atomic bombing, however, is not the sole enemy which we would face. Several things are definitely preventive in the direction of atomic fission, if they are done. And I told you the other day the wrong thing to do was nothing.

Several things could be done in this particular direction. The education of the peoples of Earth, however, is the first and foremost thing that should be done. And they might be taught that they can solve each other’s games, that they can play each other’s games, that there is somebody else alive here and that Earth can be an interesting place to be and that something can happen to these things which we today call civilization, that they can go on upwards. Somebody doesn’t have to blink ’em out.

Now, wherever we look across the world, we see that Man has very, very little hope that anything could be done about anything. The measure of a civilization would be the measure of the expectancy of win by the individuals or groups of that civilization. If they have an expectancy to win, they can play the game. If they have no expectancy of winning, they want to get out of the game and start another game or they start playing games with their thumbs behind their backs—which is goofiness.

LRH – from lecture “Pan-Determinism” of 31 Dec 1954.

He was talking to a crowd in Phoenix, Arizona. I was a few months old at the time, living in Berkeley, California. Steven Greer has told us that an engineer familiar with advanced technology development programs told him that they had successfully implemented a back-engineered anti-gravity propulsion system by about October of 1954 (when I was born).

How did LRH know that the military had been playing around with flying saucers? I don’t think he’s ever said. But he had lots of friends in interesting places.

Current Events

The information war continues between those who want to paint a picture of troubled normalcy and those who want the population to “wake up” for various different reasons.

We have very little data about what is really going on, but loads of good data revealing that we are being lied to on a regular basis. On subjects as diverse as spiritual realities, ET realities, basic physics, and what causes terrorism, the mainstream media outlets continue to lie and entertain, while the alternative media outlets tell a wide range of stories from the sublime to the ridiculous – but many much more factual than the mainstream stories.

There is a persistent expectation that the world’s population will receive another “wake-up call” before too long (such as LRH’s fancied space invasion – per insiders a scenario that has been seriously considered). But so far nothing seems to materialize. Every significant event that occurs has at least two slants given to it by different sources, keeping most of us in a state of mild confusion, if not worse.

My Projects

As of today I have joined the ranks of “poor” people who are paying for medical insurance programs with the assistance of the Federal Government. Until this year, I had no real idea that this is what “Obamacare” was really all about. It wasn’t about getting the U.S. population more healthy (which is what “health care” implies, doesn’t it?), but simply to get everyone insured, so that doctors, clinics, and hospitals would get paid for every single service they deliver – successful or not – regardless of the income level of the patient.

Beyond this basic fact lies other interesting details, such as what sorts of treatment must be covered by an “acceptable” insurance program and what treatments can be ignored. Basically, anything you get from a non-MD you’ll have to pay for yourself, regardless of how effective that treatment is. It’s just a way of protecting a professional monopoly. Even psychoactive drugs – some of the least effective, most damaging treatments on the market today – must be covered because they are prescribed by psychiatrists, who are MDs.

Another ongoing project has been to salvage whatever electronic junk that I brought with me from Pullman that seems appropriate to salvage, and throw away the rest. This project was started in Pullman, but continues here in Sacramento. I have built a little “Tower of Junk” containing all my favorite older projects that were previously dismantled. It’s a little 12-inch by 12-inch by 18-inch high box, and it’s now full, with most of the “junk” included in it up and running.

With that task out of the way, I can dive into my electronic art with both feet. The main list of projects involves light (Light Emitting Diode – LED) displays that react to various environmental factors. Getting environmental sounds included has been the biggest challenge, as building good microphone amplifiers is a bit of an art. But I have a test rig up and running, and the basic idea seems promising.

I also have a code-writing project restarted after a long hiatus. This is aimed to allow the user to inspect and search large amounts of data in ways that are visually interesting and informative. I am using my own electronic library (about 150,000 files) as the test data, as it is structured but highly diverse. This data is organized according to LRH’s dynamics, and I plan to use other Scientology basics in this software.

Scientology

I continue my study of the Basic Lectures. One of these is the one quoted above. That series ended with that lecture, so I have finished that series and will soon move onto another one.

The church downtown continues to put on various events. The most recent was in observance of Human Rights Day (10 December) and featured a presentation by a local Sikh human rights activist who has been working for many years to improve awareness of religious diversity – which is part of the Sikh teaching – in California. We also watched a documentary about the aftermath of the shootings at the Sikh temple near Milwaukee in 2012.

The mainstream sees such events as “hate crimes” against minorities who are misunderstood, or confused with other groups (such as Sikhs being confused with Muslims). My Scientology training tells me that this is a very shallow explanation for such events. Whenever violence occurs the Third Party Law must be taken into account. This data has been around for 50 years, but most don’t know about it or don’t use it. That needs to change!

We have a Christmas party coming up, then a New Years event, which is always full of news.

And after that, the sun will start coming North again. Right now, it’s too cold with not enough daylight for my liking.

Richard Stallman and Freedom

15 November 2017

Today (Wednesday, 15th Nov 2017) I went to see Richard Stallman give a presentation on Free Software.

He was being hosted by a California State project to re-write the Child Welfare website (including backend) using Free Software. Most of the attendees were state employees involved in the project. I was there because I had gotten an email about the event from the Free Software Foundation. Though rain clouds threatened, I went ahead and made the approximately 10 mile bike ride over to Natomas where the state government has a bunch of buildings in a nice industrial park.

Richard is about 1-1/2 years older than me. He was born in New York City (per Wikipedia) and acts like it. He became proficient in writing computer programs while in high school, and was working as a programmer even as he continued his education.

In his early years, he worked at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence laboratory, then funded largely through DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

As software and computing became more popular, Richard noticed that most companies were keeping their code (the higher-language representation of the program) secret. He objected to this on the grounds that in a free society, code should be published like other forms of literature, so it could be studied and learned from.

He started integrating his ideas into a coherent ideology with the birth of the GNU project in 1983. The NU in GNU stands for “not Unix” which was meant to emphasize that the GNU system was all Free Software, though it functioned a lot like Unix. Beyond that, the gnu is a native name for the African wildebeest, which is used as the project’s mascot.

At the presentation today, Richard went through his basic philosophy about Free Software and gave some examples of how proprietary software has been used against the higher cause of freedom in society.

Is it really all about profit?

Richard thinks that the existence of non-free or anti-freedom software can be explained by profit motive. This has been a common argument from “progressive” circles concerning many political and economic weaknesses. I think this is not an intellectually rigorous explanation.

I don’t say that because I’m so smart. I am simply aware of research that points to other factors.

But I will say this about profit:
In a political-economic context, profit is seen as necessary in order to retain investors. Who would invest in an activity that couldn’t repay the investment, with interest? Beyond the fact that this itself is a weak argument, I also see it as unnecessarily complex.

What a business has to do first to pay a profit to shareholders is to have more income than expenses. But that is just common sense. In a world of machines – and biological entities are a type of machine – you need to put more energy into the system than you will get out as work. The remainder is waste energy, which is used by biology but “dumped” by most machine systems.

If you can make more than you spend, you can pay investors a profit. Or on the scale of a single human being, you can save for a child’s education, or for old age. And by the way, did you include raising a family in your list of expenses? So, we have pressures on the producers in an economy to “make a profit” whether it’s their stockholders or their children that they are responsible to.

I believe this basically evaporates the argument of “profit motive.”

Criminality

What we have left, though, is something very obvious that the “progressives” don’t talk much about: Criminality.

As I am “musing” in this article I will opine on why the “progressives” have this problem. My theory – and not just mine, nor my origination particularly – is that an approach to life commonly referred to as “psychology” has infiltrated its way into American life, and the “progressive” movement in particular. It is not that there is something wrong with the study of the mind. It is only that the history of this particular brand of psychology we are seeing on Earth suggests it was financed and supported, if not actually created, by persons who wished to develop a sort of intellectual framework, or propaganda mechanism, that would serve to explain or justify “bad” behavior anywhere from mildly rude to morally reprehensible.

What has arisen from this effort is a jumble of loosely-related ideas, including concepts like Moral Relativism, and Situational Ethics. The bulk of these concepts are confused and under-developed, but when paired up with Psychology as our best attempt to understand human thought and behavior, they can establish a basis to justify almost any action, no matter how evil.

In short, the criminal – especially one in government or business – has a problem: How can I harm those around me while maintaining my supposedly legitimate position in society? And I am saying that one answer he has reached for was: Use Psychology.

In this wise, a criminal is explained as a person in a “bad” situation, or someone who was brought up wrong. In a company it could be someone being forced to make a profit, resulting in his making very bad choices. The answer is to be kind to everybody and make sure everyone has enough to eat, spend etc. This argument is warm and fuzzy, but I think demonstrably unworkable.

If the criminal is really a type of personality, like the psychopath of classic psychiatry (now called “psychodynamic theory”), then being kind to him will not change his behavior. He has a compulsive urge to harm secretly. Thus, my theory that modern “psychology” was produced by and for criminals, as it fails miserably to solve the problem of crime (when it addresses it directly at all).

Modern “psychology” totally ignores past lives and their influence on present-life behavior, even though this has been the most productive research avenue during the previous century that yielded new understandings about human behavior.

Self-correction?

A very major segment of the people I have been exposed to who are out there communicating ideas seem to believe that to make a person aware of a sub-standard behavior will lead to correction.

I don’t know why this idea remains so strong in people, as I see almost no support for it in the extreme cases where self-correction has been most needed and most lacking.

One example of this type of thinking is gun control. What gun control advocates seem to be saying is that if we make certain types of guns illegal or difficult to obtain, a person who wishes he could go out and blow everybody’s head off will become aware that this is wrong behavior and self-correct into some more acceptable approach. This idea is totally ridiculous.

Yet a progressive-oriented person like Richard Stallman, as fine and upstanding as his ideas are, thinks that if we just make Free Software more popular, those using anti-free software will eventually self-correct and see the error of their ways. If that were to really happen, purveyors of anti-free software might give in, simply on the basis that they could no longer sell their products to anyone. But what I am suggesting is that the criminals among them would not self-correct. They would just find alternative methods to perform criminal acts and protect their secrets.

What anti-free is really all about

Mr. Stallman, as well as many on the “right” who argue for more freedom, are not aware of the research I am aware of, I am quite sure. And while I may not be able to explain that research with total clarity here, I do think it is worth our while to at least be aware of it.

LRH began to speak of it in the 1950s, and continued to mention it now and again into the 1960’s. His famous training lecture “The Free Being” dates from 1963.

A free being is a being that doesn’t need a body to operate through. And such beings, unfortunately, have a history of acting somewhat inconsiderately towards people walking around in bodies. The free being didn’t realize these people were basically the same order of being as he was, except trapped in their bodies. So these societies of beings in bodies learned how to trap free beings. They saw it as a survival point. Aptitude in this activity was something to be proud of. And the free beings of this universe finally all became trapped in bodies, like everyone else, and being “free” the way free beings were became totally unacceptable. This was hammered into the populations by their managers as a primary rule of life! Free beings had caused them so many problems; nobody stopped to think that they might be spiritual brothers.

But there were always some in every society who insisted on working to be “more free.” Were these the ones who used to be free, their memories of past happy days leaking through the various mental trapping mechanisms? Perhaps. But what was important was that those societies couldn’t tolerate such people. And they would go out on programs to scoop them up and dump them someplace where they could do no harm to anyone, like Earth.

It seems this dumping operation was rather hit-and-miss. Perhaps it was carried out mostly as a PR campaign to impress populations. Because we sure have a jumble of different personalities and approaches on this planet now!

The point is that “psychology” never figured all this out. The ideas and methodologies that did figure it out have been around for over 50 years. They were rejected by psychology. Why? Probably because they could lead to greater freedom! But also because psychology was being influenced by criminals, who are extremely afraid of freedom. Not just mentally dull about it; VERY afraid of it. A free being – though it has some historic outpoints – can also see through any secret, rendering a criminal helpless. This may be the bigger reason that criminals are involved in anti-free technologies, software being just one of them.

It was good to see Richard Stallman. I had heard a lot about him over the years. His heart is in a good place, but I don’t think his solutions will get society where he’d like it to go. He needs to understand it better first. Anti-free is more deeply entrenched in the minds of men – and particularly managers – than he realizes. The solutions exist at a deeper level than he is currently aware of. That they exist in any form at all is a minor miracle.

It rains!

20 October 2017

I never thought I’d do a post just on account of some rain.
But per the records I’ve been able to find, it hasn’t rained in Sacramento since April. That’s six months with no rain! I didn’t even notice any foggy mornings.

But last night, as the weather guys predicted, we heard the soft pitter-patter of rain drops on the roof and in the yard. And this morning it was wet outside.

roses after a rain

Of course, people and other biological forms survive under conditions like this because of ground water and stored water upstream behind dams. Our garden stayed well-watered. Those who decided to continue the water conservation effort got very dry and brown lawns. However, most trees and even bushes did OK because of water in the soil.

We could leave even more water in the soil if we didn’t flush roof runoff into the drain system, but flushed it onto the soil instead. (That’s the permaculture way.)

When I took a photo of droplets in an old web under our pine tree, I found something interesting. Can you tell from the photo?

old web under pine tree

There is also sap (what amber is made out of) falling out of the tree and collecting on this web. The one darker blob is really obvious. This sap is quite messy. I got some on my fingers; it’s hard to get off.

Intelligence and Social Experience

10 September 2017

The lower the IQ, the more the individual is shut off from the fruits of observation.
– LRH
(HCOPL 7 Feb 1965, KSW)

It was determined at some point when I was young that I was “smart.”

I didn’t think much about this in my younger years. I did not feel that I was getting pushed in any particular direction (because of my intelligence) by anyone exterior to myself. And no one ever brought it up with me.

Yet, I had an abiding sense of being “different.” Not a lot different, but different to some degree. And though I explained this to myself in various ways over the years, it never particularly occurred to me that intelligence had anything to do with it. Until one day a senior of mine who was in a position to know such data told me that by test I was one of the more intelligent people in our group. Though I made no particular connection at the time this comment was made, it intrigued me in light of the above quote, and in the light of my social experience.

Electronics

I took up a study of electronics around my last year of high school. I had always enjoyed my work in the arts throughout my younger days in school, but it occurred to me that I had no idea how to make a living as an artist. Beyond that, I had not figured out what art was “good for” outside of keeping myself and others involved in the field amused. I thought I’d better sort these points out before I committed myself to a life in the arts, so I chose a fall-back study, electronics, as I was already running into it through my interest in music and audio equipment.

my electronics bench

My electronics bench in its beginning form, 1972.

Practical electronics is basically an engineering study involving multiple subjects. To build equipment you must be able to make design drawings, construct objects from wood, plastic, or metal, choose, purchase and assemble parts that include hardware, passive electronic parts, and active parts like transistors or ICs. These days you also have to know how to write code (computing software). Electronics design further involves a knowledge of physics, mathematics, and materials sciences.

As I moved along in my study of electronics, I occasionally noticed that many people around me had no clue about any of these subjects. My father, for example, having studied mainly in the humanities, did not really know physics, chemistry or engineering – though he had used a computer to help him compile data for his doctoral thesis. I was living in a society full of people who did not know that much about the technologies they were using every day.

As I bought and read engineering and hobby books covering these various subjects (as well as studying the basic science and math in high school) I knew that a technically-savvy community existed and that I had become a part of it. It didn’t really occur to me that there might be large numbers of persons who were not up to this level. After all, I had been introduced to the basics in high school.

This subject, by the way, extends deeply into the subject that has been the center of my attention for some time, Scientology. Besides the fact that auditors use an electronic device in their work, electronics has been a repeated – if somewhat esoteric – aspect of the research path starting right out of the gate when LRH chose “bank,” a computer engineering term, to help him describe the mind. According to the more esoteric research conducted by LRH in the early years, electronics has been an important human technology for a very long time. Among the most famous stories to treat “high” technology as a thing of the past is Star Wars. But this has been borne out by research done by numerous persons, not just Hubbard.

Blank Stares

However, when I got into social situations and people would ask me, “What do you do?” (which is a crazy question, by the way), when I would answer “electronics” I would often get a blank stare. The more socially adept would recover quickly, acknowledge my answer, maybe say something like “That sounds really interesting!” and then change the subject.

But, as I have since come to recognize it, I had given them a Misunderstood Word, basically cutting the communication line.

Could other words I was using be causing similar effects?

Per even an average understanding of what it means to be “smart,” a higher-than-normal vocabulary is one agreed-upon characteristic. The subject is mentioned here http://thecommonroomblog.com/2013/02/vocabulary-and-intelligence.html in relation to childhood education. There are some IQ tests based entirely on vocabulary (knowing the meaning of words, and knowing when you don’t know their meaning).
The LRH study method is based on gaining conceptual understandings of the meanings of words. For some words, you might have to go out into the world and find the object or experience the action referred to by the word in order to get a really good conceptual understanding of it.

IQ

The term IQ comes to us from the field of psychology and is intended to be a measure of relative intelligence. In other words, the 100% score (or “average”) could mean a different intelligence – in either quality or quantity – now than it did 100 years ago. However, measuring intelligence this way has only been done for a relatively short amount of time compared to how long intelligent people have been writing down their ideas and experiences in the hopes that others might benefit from it. So we might imagine that a baseline measure of intelligence would be valid and comparable whether it was done today or 50 years ago.

A simple and well-agreed definition for intelligence is: mental ability. How best to measure mental ability depends to some extent on what we think the mind is for. If it is seen mainly as a storage device, then testing it might consist mostly of testing one’s ability to remember with speed and accuracy. If it is considered a thinking device – the more common belief – then it would be tested by posing problems for it to solve. This is the ordinary approach of most intelligence tests.

The fact that many studies have shown that IQ scores correlate with our ideas of what mental ability should be able to do for a person indicates that we have at least some grasp of the subject of human intelligence and how to measure it.

Experience of Others

I found relatively few articles on the internet addressing this subject directly, and none of them scholarly articles. However, some of them did refer to studies that had been done by psychologists or sociologists. Some articles I saw dealt with how to improve your intelligence, while others focused more on advice about how to cope socially if you are extra-smart.

To summarize:

  • Being smart has a certain isolating effect on people. They know and use more words, they can do very well at certain jobs – and are therefore sought-after for such positions, they tend to feel that the help they provide is vital – even if not well reimbursed – and so are willing to work extra hours, and they tend to have so many interests that it may be hard for them to stay focused on the activities of any particular group.
  • Their curiosity may “get them into trouble” on occasion.
  • Similarly, they may notice things – including flaws in data or logic – that others miss and therefore be seen as “picky” or disagreeable.
  • They may develop interests that others can’t grasp or fully participate in due to the breadth of knowledge required to be involved with that subject.
  • They may inadvertently say things or do things that make others feel “stupid.”

My Own Experience

Though my own experience aligns well with many of the above points, I am particularly interested in certain aspects that have been amplified by my Scientology studies:

  • Misunderstood Words. It is hoped that a person, through study alone, would be able to acquire enough conceptual understanding of most unusual (or even common) words or symbols that these would fully become a part of their working vocabulary. But I have found – particularly in the case of engineering subjects (including math), or other specialized vocabularies (botany, biology, law, medicine) that this is not always that easy to attain. Though people are generally “excused” for not knowing technical words, when these words are constantly used in their environment (such as computing terminologies are in this day and age) a mental dullness could result that could only be resolved with a dedicated study of the subject. I may not do well at limiting technical terms in my own writing and conversation, but when these things extend into general marketing – such as the list of side effects that drug advertisers are required to include in their ads – things have gone too far. I don’t see any good reason why “homicidal ideation” (thoughts of killing others) needs to be a household phrase in this world.
  • The need for multidisciplinary understandings. A common term for this sort of person is the “polymath.” He has always been considered to be someone a bit special, but anyone who wants to be an electronics engineer has to become a polymath of sorts, just to learn that subject well. Hubbard has made the point that if a person wishes to live well and fully, there are 27 different “hats” he must learn to wear, at a minimum. With the introduction of so many “advanced” technologies in recent years, this becomes even more essential. A very smart scientist can fail utterly as a human being if he has not learned the basics of Ethics and Public Relations. And who is teaching that to scientists? (My church is!) So the challenge of the brighter ones among us these days is in persuading others to join them. We face a very dire future indeed if too many insist on remaining ignorant of subjects they MUST know!
  • Tone level. I have mentioned this subject before. Its basics are here: http://www.scientologyhandbook.org/tone-scale/SH4_1.HTM . Though one can learn to move around more on the tone scale, the only known way to fully free a person on this scale is through auditing. Hubbard designated 2.0 as the make-break point on this scale. Above it, one seeks to survive, below it one seeks to succumb. If a person can’t get above 2.0 on this scale and stay on that side of life most of the time, it doesn’t matter how smart he is: He won’t make ethical decisions.
  • Recall and its control. Ron has discovered that the mind basically functions as a storage device. But it doesn’t just store data – though that can be important in more contemplative moments – it stores complete actions or what could be called “learned behaviors.” Such a behavior can be brought into action by various mental processes and will immediately manifest as either a body reaction or an actual body action. Though some of those mental processes are analytical or “intentional,” many others are not, and most people do not understand how they work or how to control them. This is very much linked to Tone level above, and has a similar resolution. Further, auditing can assist a being to access past-life data. Though this is not its emphasis, we could sure use that ability these days, as current circumstances are quite similar to past circumstances we have only experienced in past lives. It would be great to have more of that data available to help us resolve many of our current situations.

Beyond Intelligence

I did not totally expect this “musing” to turn out this long. It remains to be known what really makes some people seem smarter “out of the gate” (so to speak) than others. But in the context of my comments on past lives above, it could well be that some of us have a keener awareness, as soon as we arrive on this planet (no matter how many times we have been here before) that there is an urgent need for positive action on Earth. And this could be what drives them to push for a higher level of intelligence. That this push then tends to isolate them socially is an unfortunate result. But it points out that the solution lies beyond the subject of mere intelligence. Above mental ability lies spiritual ability. If I did not know this I would be very despondent indeed. Knowing this gives me reason to hope. Yes, it’s “good” to be smart. But in the long that’s not enough. I’m glad I was “smart” enough to at least find that out.

Wheat Penny

27 June 2017

what penny both sides

Every so often I run across a “wheat penny.” So called because of the heads of wheat depicted on the back. Though I collected all sorts of things when I was a kid, including coins and stamps, I never studied those subjects seriously.

The study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects is called Numismatics. I am not a student of this subject. I also have older pennies called “indian head.” They were produced from 1859 to 1909. The wheat penny followed this one, up to the year 1958.

This one I think I got at the Tandy Leather store. That’s how I recall it. It is dated 1951.

How to Write a Constitution

29 May 2017

The title is a bit ostentatious, but it’s the best I could think of. Though I don’t really have the resources to give this topic justice, I was thinking about it, so decided to write a post on my Memorial Day time off.

I take for my reference the US Constitution of 1787. I hope the copy I have is accurate.

Talking about ostentatious: It starts, “We the People of the United States…” That’s nice, but probably a little broad. It should certainly mention who agreed to it, if not who actually wrote it. It is basically a piece of literature, so it could have an author.

Purpose

The preamble lists the things this government is to carry out:
Form a more perfect union;
Establish justice;
Insure domestic tranquility;
Provide for the common defense;
Promote the general welfare;
Secure the blessings of liberty…to our posterity.

This is important. These are the long-term and continuing goals and purposes of this government; they are its job. A group needs goals and purposes, and must sometimes be reminded of them. “General welfare” is a bit vague, but we’ll leave it that way for now.

Legislative Powers

I find it a little odd to bring this up first, rather than giving a more general overview of how the system was supposed to work. Too many incorrect assumptions could be made here; we need to spell this out better.

Article 0.

We propose that this nation take the form of a constitutional Republic. This gives us a layered approach to both policy-making and action. There are individuals at each level who represent, or preside over, a group of individuals at the next lower level. Every member of the system is not normally expected to interact with anyone above their level or below the level they supervise or represent in matters of official business, except under special circumstances. Every group at every level has the right to operate as it sees fit, and this right can only be overridden as described below. The assumption is that most people already know what to do or can figure it out.

Legislation:

The purpose of legislation is to set guidelines (policy, laws) that bind those at that level to act within certain limitations or restrictions. This document specifically covers the national, or federal, level, but is also meant to serve as a guide, or pattern, for lower levels.

I will not cover the details of Article 1 here, however, we cannot move on before inspecting Section 8.

Areas of legislative authority / responsibility:

  • Taxes, duties, imposts and excises (to be uniform across all states).
  • Specify outlay to pay debts.
  • Specify outlay to provide for the common defense.
  • Specify outlay to provide for the general welfare.
  • Borrow money.
  • Regulate commerce beyond state boundaries or responsibilities.
  • Regulate immigration.
  • Regulate bankruptcies.
  • Coin money, regulate its value, and establish standard weight and measures.
  • Establish Post Offices and post roads (ensure free flow of communications between citizens).
  • Offer limited patent and copyright protection to authors and inventors.
  • Establish lower-level judicial bodies (tribunals) as needed.
  • Protect the nation from piracy at sea.
  • Declare war, and similar war powers.
  • Raise temporary armies while maintaining a permanent navy.
  • Organizing and activating the Militia for certain purposes.
  • Rule over the seat of government.
  • There are more points, but these are the main ones…

Executive Power

Traditionally, the executives of history (kings, emperors, etc.) got to make their own rules. This was not just a matter of egotism. They had things to get done and they needed to be able to act. One of their favorite pastimes seems to have been making war. This had to change. The chief executive of a nation does have the “power” to make war, as the military is under his/her command. However, it was considered that war should be a matter of policy and not executive action, and this still seems the wiser route.

To further discourage executive policy-making, the Founders proposed putting the matter up for a vote every four years. This seems rather arbitrary to me; why not whenever a majority or some higher ratio of legislators found it needful, but not more often than every four (or three?) years. But we shall leave this be for the time being. The point is: You can’t get policy continuity in the Executive Branch if the senior person is changing all the time, and that’s the way we want it.

Judicial Power

“Judges” have traditionally served a wide variety of functions. At their best, they act themselves, or by guiding a jury (or similar group of peers) to determine who the real criminal is when something goes wrong. As far as I can tell, they do not have a particularly high reputation in this regard. Like anyone else faced with a real criminal, the judge can be threatened when faced with a “hard decision” and forced to back down.

If judges cannot be depended upon to uphold the ethics standards of the group, then who can be? If a group is that far gone, there is little hope for it. But for now, let’s move on to Article 4.

States

This section (Article 4) goes over certain matters of equal treatment across state lines. After all, these states are all part of a Republic, and are supposed to cooperate with each other. You can’t have the police forces of two states in battle because their laws are different.

But I feel this whole subject of states is not taken far enough in this document.

Article 4.

The full and globally-recognized territory of this nation has been – and shall continue to be – divided into geographical regions known as “states” or “territories” based on a combination of historical and geographical factors. States have the right of sovereign rule within their boundaries, assuming the restrictions imposed by this document are respected. Territories have not yet attained the full rights of states, but may petition Congress to be granted these.

All policy (legislative), executive and judicial actions originating at the federal level of this republic shall not extend any further than the states, except under most extraordinary circumstances. Certainly, no federal law, federal action through any of its agents, or federal judicial decision shall apply to or be binding on any individual citizen (that being understood to include only real persons, not “private” entities created through legal means) unless that citizen has specifically requested such a bypass.

It is further expected that state governments will, in turn, deal only with county governments, and those only with municipal governments and those only with neighborhood governments (where that may apply), as this has proven to be more acceptable to citizens and more conducive to individual initiative and thus, the general welfare.

Private Enterprise. This does not mean that a private enterprise, operating across state boundaries and employing numbers comparable to numbers of citizens in a state, or producing things of value on a similar order to that of the combined production of all smaller enterprises within a state, should expect to be favored by the rights and protections afforded smaller enterprises by a state, simply by virtue of the location of their headquarters. Indeed, if any enterprise should grow to the extent outlined above, it can expect to be required to deal directly with the federal government in all matters where it must be treated as a whole, as in the matter of taxation.

The above summarizes the points that I think are important in the game of operating a nation. Though using the context of the US Constitution has limited my comments in some ways, the points I have mentioned are some of the most important. We have erred by overlooking them.

Second Warm Period on the Palouse

21 May 2017

The plants are popping out very strongly on our warmer days.

They seem proud this year. The weather was rough, and the warmth came late. They suffered this Spring, but came through it OK.

I hope we can do the same!

flowering apple tree

“I’m the best apple tree on the Palouse.”

quail on pullman trail

Quail like sunny days, too.

And That Is Banking

18 May 2017

INFLATION IS DETERMINED BY THE RATIO BETWEEN THE DEPOSITED GOODS AND THE NUMBER OF RECEIPTS (money) ISSUED.

…real banking, can all by itself, increase production.

– L. Ron Hubbard
HCO Policy Letter of 2 September 1982
AND THAT IS BANKING

The implication of the above reference is that poor banking practices can cause runaway price increases, while sound banking practices can increase the prosperity of all.

I wanted to write something about this subject because I have been studying about how home loans work, and it helped me realize some things that others have been pointing out for a long time.

Note that on 19 May I rewrote this post to try to make it more accurate; see more about that below.

Financial people tend to speak in terms that are not easily understood, and to assume you know about something that you don’t actually know about. However, most people have heard of the term “balancing the books” and this is a basic concept worth going over.

I suppose the idea that the books have to “stay in balance” is similar to the idea that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In the physical universe, this is true by observation. However, money and finance are conceptual universes, or you could say a kind of mathematical model of the physical universe. If a car exists, it is assumed that someone was paid to make it, whether that’s really what happened or not. So if I buy a car, I basically convert some of my cash into a vehicle. In my books (if I kept books), the price paid moves out of the Cash asset category and into the Vehicles asset category, and they stay balanced. What if someone gave me the car? I basically have to create a special category for gifts, which in a commercial business would be similar to something called “retained earnings”.

Debt

Now, say I’m a bank, and I have some deposits from my customers, and loan a portion of these to someone. This decreases my cash – the pool I make loans from. How do I replenish that pool (other than by getting more deposits)? In normal banking I would have to use part of my income (payments on loans I had already made to other people) and put that back into my cash. In mortgage banking I could do something called “selling the loan.” Basically, the loan turns into a security (essentially a document that can be bought and sold) that I can sell to a company that buys those types of securities.

Where do those companies get their money? They also create and sell securities – stock, basically – to investors. The investors include a lot of firms that help people save for retirement, as well as other investment firms. Those firms buy all sorts of stocks and other securities with that money.

The ultimate source of money for buying debt (making loans) in the U.S. is the Federal Reserve. The “Fed” is part of a network of “Central Banks.” Central Banks get charters from governments to control the money supply for them. They regulate banks, and they buy debt (or make loans, however you want to look at it). The Central Banks deal mostly with the large commercial banks, which are all international corporations. Smaller local institutions deal mostly with the big banks. The chain of purchasing debt works its way down until you get to the borrowers, who are expected to keep up their flow of payments. Governments are also large borrowers. To borrow money, they issue “bonds,” which come with a promise to pay dividends, and the full amount borrowed at the time of maturity. So in the case of government borrowing, the taxpayers, have to pay all that through their taxes. That’s why “bond initiatives” have to be approved by voters. In the end, a lot of what we make at our jobs goes to make profits for the owners of “debt.”

Making Money

Before my recent studies, I hadn’t really heard about this practice of “selling debt.” But debt is a receivable on the bank’s books, so it is worth something. It never occurred to me that you could somehow sell that to another company to get more cash (stay liquid, as the financial people call it). But this is really just another way of saying that the bank borrowed some cash. I’ve heard of companies borrowing to make payrolls, or buy new equipment. I’d just never heard of banks borrowing so they could make more loans. Of course, assuming they continue to service (collect payments) on the loans they sell, they have to forward most of those payments to the new owners of the loans, so that portion of their income is no longer available for lending.

As I wrote this, I came to see that “selling debt” could also be given another meaning. It could also be seen as selling people – governments in particular – on the idea that they should borrow money in order to do things. They shouldn’t save, they should borrow. You shouldn’t “wait until you can afford it,” you should buy it right now, do it right now. With governments, this is particularly pushed as a way to finance wars. Every major war I am aware of was financed with debt – the taxpayers (via the government) borrowed money from banks, then had to pay it all back afterwards. It is a potent way to “make money” in a short amount of time. I don’t know, however, if it really accomplishes anything over longer periods, especially if it involves making war.

Fractional Reserve Banking

Some people believe that this is a new idea. But it is really just a newer term for an old idea. According to Google’s Ngram viewer, the phrase first appeared in literature around the turn of the last century.
As long as banks have been loaning money, they have been using deposited funds (or other assets) to do so. The idea of “Central Banks” was pushed into place after it seemed that unregulated banks had an inclination to dig too deep into their cash. Now Central Banks police what fraction of a bank’s deposits (or cash, to use a simpler term) must be held in reserve so that their depositors will be happy with the illusion that their full deposited balance could be withdrawn at any time. Depositors get to account for their full deposited amounts as “cash,” when in reality only a fraction of that amount is actually available to be paid out from the bank’s reserves.

No one likes “reserves” because they just sit there and don’t do anything. It’s kind of like a having a Fire Department in your town. In a perfect world, they would never have a fire to fight, or even a cat to get out of a tree. In this real world, you need to have one because “stuff happens.” Same goes for reserves.

Some would argue that amounts held is reserve should be quite substantial. It gives stability to an economy, and breeds a certain level of confidence, even a certain willingness to take risks. I think there is validity to those arguments. But that does not mean banks need to keep 100% of their “on demand” cash deposits as reserves. This is discussed more below.

The beauty of a cashless system (in the eye of the banker)

In the “old days” money meant gold coins, or ingots of silver, or other precious metals, or gems. Today it can be reduced to a code in a bank’s database. Money (currency, really) had to be manufactured, transported and stored when not in use. Meanwhile, businessmen had grown used to account books, and moving larger sums around using bank drafts instead of currency. This began the move away from “hard” money. The “softer” the money, the easier it was to handle and move about. Banks and their major customers really liked these benefits. And so, national currencies were pushed into place, the use of paper money was greatly expanded, and finally computer systems were developed that just require an ID card to access account records.

Global-scale electronic funds transfer systems now exist, and are very widely used. All accounts at all modern banks are computerized. Banks are now relieved of the problem of having to store precious metals in their vaults, though “modern” money can still be stolen. To the extent that the world goes cashless, banks and stores are relieved of the problem of securing their on-hand currency, and only have to worry about their computers, which can be locked away in their now-empty vaults.

So, what’s so good about cash?

However, the credit or debit card holder now has to worry about the security of his electronic transactions. I once had a bank make a $2,500 error in my favor. They never bothered to correct it, though I told them about it more than once. For them it was insignificant, but that’s a huge amount for me. What if my account suddenly one day had $2,500 less in it? They better be able to correct that!

In a secure and honest world, using a card instead of cash (currency) would be a great way to go. In the world as it really exists, I want to be able to fall back on coins and paper money. If a store’s electronic payment system goes down, I want them to accept my cash. If I need some water out of an old-style vending machine, I need some coins or I go thirsty. If I want to tip a waiter, it’s easier for me to think with using a couple of extra bills.

When money is a commodity, then you can’t have some unless you earn it or physically steal it from somebody. When money is only a number in a database, what happens if I can’t get access to that database? And what happens if someone can get illegal access to it? Or in some other way fiddle with accounts just by making some entries in a computer program? It gives the tech-savvy an advantage I’m not sure they’ve earned. The cashless ideal includes a reliance on technology that is not necessarily as reliable as I need it to be. At the business level, if a transaction gets fouled up, it can be fixed later. At a personal level, it could mean the difference between staying fed or going hungry.

I’m not advocating a return to cash necessarily, though we might be forced into it should the electronic funds transfer systems stop working. But I am pointing out that our turn away from cash did not handle the most important problems we have always had: dishonesty, thievery and avoidance of real productive work.

Reality Check

My original concept of how this scam works was simple, but incorrect:

The bank has my $100. I thought this meant it could loan out $1000. That’s not exactly right. It is only allowed to loan, maybe, $90. Except, that loaned money is going to end up in another bank account, and then about $80 of that could be loaned back out. That whole cycle can be imagined to repeat maybe 5 or ten times. Now a lot more than my $100 has been loaned – deposited – and re-loaned. That’s what people call “creating money.” I discuss this more below.

The other part of my perception of what was wrong with this system was the cashless nature of modern transactions. This possibly provides more opportunity to “fiddle” the system. If you have to provide a borrower with real currency to complete a loan, then if you run out of currency, you can’t make any more loans. If you only have to credit an account on a computer, then you don’t need the currency. So, who’s to stop you from just pumping out loans? Your accountant, if he’s honest. Or a regulator, the next time you get audited. So the real point here is that the removal of hard currency from the system, reducing it all to numbers in databases, has a tendency to degrade the underlying concepts of what money is and represents. It should represent real value, real productive work. You should not be able to “fiddle” it into existence when you have done nothing to earn it.

Interest

I originally linked this trend towards a cashless system to the decline of interest rates, close to their total disappearance. I have a problem with interest because I don’t think most of the explanations for it are correct. It is often described as a payment to the lender based on the risk he takes by loaning money. But what about the risk the borrower takes in borrowing money? And what about loans between friends or relatives? I think the banks just decided to shift the paradigm because they had the power to do so. Look at interest rates on savings accounts, for instance. It used to be recognized that the depositor was actually making the bank a loan, and should earn interest on his unused balance. But depositors had no way to enforce that idea on bankers, so gradually interest payments on savings accounts have reduced to almost nothing.

The abandonment of the use of interest rates to control inflation in certain markets, and the subsequent increase in the supply of money in those markets, are bits of history not totally explained by the factors discussed above. Though the smaller banks that overextended themselves before the Great Depression could be blamed for what happened, I think that blame would be misplaced. They, however, felt the brunt of new banking regulations, while at the same time, what was to become a huge boom in the mortgage markets can be traced back to those times. I think there remains an untold story (at least it hasn’t been told to me) about how that all came about and about what is unfolding today. My concern is that we will strike out at the wrong targets (called misidentifying root cause where I work) and simply prolong our agony as a result. Benefiting from the suffering of others has never been an honorable way to gain status in a society. Yet suffering continues while a few grow unbelievably rich. Until we begin to apply more effective solutions to problems of finance, the economy, and politics, we will continue on our slide towards a non-sustainable system that will eventually totally break down.

Credit:

I relied heavily on an article written my Kenneth Ballard here:
http://www.kennethballard.com/?p=2322
to get an explanation of how banks account for the loans they make.
I don’t know much about this guy, but he seems to know what he’s talking about…I wish the subject were easier to understand. I have had a terrible time trying to do so…
Wow! Mr. Ballard has responded with corrections here:
http://www.kennethballard.com/?p=4120

Follow-up notes for those interested

According to the Federal Reserve’s own website:
“Reserve requirements are the amount of funds that a depository institution must hold in reserve against specified deposit liabilities. … Depository institutions must hold reserves in the form of vault cash or deposits with Federal Reserve Banks.”

Notice that this says nothing about loaning money. The “reserve requirement” is a fraction of total monies on deposit. So, that means the rest of the monies on deposit are available to loan out. I think the first stumbling block here is the term “deposit liabilities.” Who, who isn’t accounting trained, knows what this really refers to? It’s like two conflicting ideas in the same term. This goes back to the fact that there are two balancing sides to every transaction. When a bank receives money from a depositor, it’s not a gift, but on the other hand, the depositor gets nothing in return, except a receipt. As the reference I cited at the beginning states, in the “old days” that receipt acted as money. Nowadays, the fact that a person has money “on account” gives them the right – or ability – to buy things with it.

The depositor counts his bank balance as cash – as a liquid asset. He can do this because there is an implied promise (perhaps written somewhere) that the bank will pay him back “on demand.” More realistically, the depositor has loaned the bank some money for its use. But there is no formal loan contract, as would be the case if the depositor had purchased a CD or a bond. So the depositor is encouraged to not think of his deposits as “on loan” to the bank. However, that is closer to the actual situation. I think this difference between perception and reality is what some people object to. Yet, if the banks do a good job, no one will ever know the difference.

It could be argued that banks should be more honest about what they are doing. It would probably better reflect how they actually operate if they sold bonds or CDs to anyone who wanted to maintain a significant balance with them. Or to make them a “member” like the Credit Unions do.

Private individuals are never going to fully realize that a portion of their deposited funds is being loaned to others unless the way their account at the bank works actually makes that clear. In the past it has been a workable system in spite of this. But since interest rates collapsed, more and more people are questioning it. The “multiplier effect” would still work, but perhaps the banks should be made more responsible for both the positive and negative aspects of it. Having to “insure” bank accounts is not something that should be necessary. If the banking system were more honest with the public about how it actually operates, I think the public would support it – especially if it resulted in real economic growth at the local level. Right now something is suppressing that growth. Questionable ethics levels in the banking community does not help matters any. The banking system has a lot of power to do good in society. Or harm. It is not currently demonstrating the good side of that power.

A Miracle!

3 May 2017

First warm day of the new year!

pullman weather for Wednesday 3 May 2017

With a “scorcher” scheduled for tomorrow!

On Saturday, back to what it’s been like most of Spring, then a steady (I hope) climb towards Summer.