Thursday, November 3, 2016

Lifting the Veil on the 2016 Presidential Election

By: Greg Tomlinson 11/03/2016

   The 2016 Presidential Election has certainly kicked up its share of dust and debris in the hearts and minds of thoughtful voters in the US. While this appears on the surface to be a contest between two very different and polarizing figures, from day one it was a referendum against the highly effective Liberal Statist* avalanche we've seen for eight straight years. This avalanche is actually Obama's far more refined approach to implementing the entire kitchen sink of modern leftist principles in government - his unique aggregation of everything they have learned in the past five decades. That's right, it is a tested, reproducible, market-ready product on shelves right now for voter consumption. We see it clearly in Clinton's campaign and we'll be seeing it again in future campaigns, because this new plan is better than all before it. This fact will remain true whether or not Clinton is indicted after the election, simply because Tim Kaine, or any other future replacement will be nearly identical in policy and approach, or even further left. Considering that universality, I'd like to shift focus away from the immediate election campaign, and instead consider a bit of how we got here, then move on to larger and more dangerous strategies and conflicts that are profoundly more impactful than this one election cycle.

* The term "statist" in this writing is a descriptor of  individuals or movements enthusiastically and nearly universally willing to solve problems by employing the authority and resources of government - with a belief such actions are highly virtuous, instead of seeing government as an entity to be limited whenever possible.

Obama is Not on the Ballot, but His Unified Approach Definitely is 

   The left's cynical intentions are now in the open, and those goals are about nothing less than remaking the world into something they've only previously theorized about. These masterminds, including Clinton and Kaine, are dissatisfied with much about the Western Enlightenment and its European roots.  Policy wonks have been tirelessly probing and testing the defenses, just as is a principal goal in designing military campaigns. Obama and his surrogates have combined and finally perfected a select handful of key older formulas into a modern comprehensive approach that will form the backbone of future Democrat executive policies and actions, possibly for a generation or more. What does that strategy look like on the political chessboard?

Not Your Daddy's Democrat Lightweights 

   Obama's tactics will be studied for decades, particularly by future administrations. His willingness to experiment and further test our society's limits have been reminiscent of past Democrats, only this time bigger, far better executed and with a cruel twist. Almost no action has been undertaken that is not completely in concert with the new DNA of the left, as outlined below. In other words, the President has picked winners and losers in an entirely new, partisan and purely selfish way. Since these actions are in exact alignment with the press's leftist political views, there has been no objective analysis - given that his approach feels completely natural to members of the media, in the exact same sense that is it hard to complain about the weather on that rarely idyllic, perfect day.
    Obama has discovered that only industries, individuals or ideas that further his personal politics need to be addressed and supported. All others need not apply and are in fact, pushed down. These targeted actions have enabled the Obama Administration to offer many examples of "setting the US and world back on a good path after Bush." The only problem is that almost universally, every example of Obama's good government rings completely hollow to all but the most ardent supporters. Just a few examples: economic growth has been revised downward to half of what is claimed, more are covered with far worse medical care, but in the end, all are to suffer with half the actual treatments at twice the cost. Unfocused and poorly defined stimulus dollars were spent, with political bag men and cronies being disproportionately enriched. So, yes, things were done that can be talked about, or more properly stated, half done at best. What was done generally benefitted those at the extreme top or the extreme bottom, with the middle being negatively targeted. This is no accident or set of failed good intentions. The icing on the cake and the final proof of the effectiveness of Obama's new political approach is not in dispute because it directly caused the absolutely unprecedented nomination by the Republicans of Donald Trump. Whether it was planned, and I suspect not, his approach perfectly set up something larger than even a Brexit style referendum.

He Could Have Done a Lot More. Why Didn't He?

   Obama has done damage to our republic, without a doubt: healthcare, the courts, huge and ineffectual spending, scandals, executive actions, terrible border policy and literally tons more. But one question I think we really ought to be asking is why he did not attempt even more. I offer a two part answer.
1. My theory is that Obama was more interested in testing and perfecting his new strategic approach than he was willing to risk everything by going "all in" politically, and jeopardize a second term.
2. A significant psychological aspect of the new left approach is that it requires a foil, a dolt opponent to project against. Whether by design, or more likely by circumstance, a well formulated right-side opposition was not a consistent presence.

Identifying/Unifying the Left

   Clinton looks out over a Democrat left that is nuanced, complex and hard to group. She will make no changes to the alignments that have been carefully built and now laid in her lap, another core proof that she is an inheritor, not a builder.  Consider all that has been united here: intellectuals in one camp are not even sure the Enlightenment had any validity, and probably was negative. Others believe the individual can't really achieve moral truth. Yet, that individual holds great sway in western societies. As a result, the state must be charged with finding a way to manage this moral imbalance, by becoming much more overt in substituting its own values. On another front, Obama has complained that our laws and the Constitution prevent him from even more major actions. Others on the left are the more traditional unionists, big-government advocates, anti-industry environmentalists, utopians, and dozens of other similar and even more disparate groups. They would remake America, but in smaller and more specific ways. On the fringes lie the full socialists, community organizers and militant anti-capitalists.  There are at least as many competing ideas here as the number of countries on Earth, yet the common club of the Democrat party remains intact and even thriving. Indeed, their cabal has become so powerful as to have virtually taken over education, media, entertainment, half of our corporations and the command/policy side of our government.

Different Ideas, or Just Variations of a Common Core?

   How is it possible that such a diverse and passionate group of people have been able to find a common formula to agree on, at least agree on enough to stay unified through storm after storm? Even before Obama, but to a great extent under him, the Democrat party has wisely unified and elevated all of their common DNA, dropped the labels, and demonized the enemy to the extent that failure would equal allowing a great evil to win. The leadership has instilled fear, and combined it with a message of universal fellowship, love and respect, all wrapped in righteous purpose and marching orders. The right really should study their genius, which is infinitely more involved than what is feebly outlined here.

DNA of Tyranny

To address these questions and the arguments above, we need to lay out a few strands of the American left/statist movement's current and historical DNA. Let's keep to brief terms that relate more to exactly how its deeper philosophy is applied to societies, than focusing on the philosophy itself.  We'll see how all the groups above are still provided a seat at the table.  Additionally, Europe has also undertaken a similar leftist metamorphosis. The main tenets are as follows:
1. The secular state is moral, God is an irrelevancy, and the state will play that role. It is smart, benevolent and fair. It possesses the virtue to honorably reward and punish.
2. Willingness to expand the role of government to identify and assist newly located groups of aggrieved individuals.
3. Broken government programs, no matter how inefficient or obsolete, are good in intent, and therefore worthy of preserving and defending.
4. Huge deficits are permanent, aided by a powerful central bank and other bodies capable of manipulating markets to infinity. No awareness of potential consequences is acknowledged.
5. The ecology and planet are tantamount to the creator: an ecology we have ruined, which buys right back into humanity's predilection to accept guilt. This provides another mandate for even more immediate actions, those actions that counter economic growth and industry.
6. The people of Western nations are generally nativist, and have too many freedoms to be manageable and therefore must be mitigated. Others outside those walls should have similar rights - and a new picture of greatly reduced but collective rights for all humanity is emerging.  One aspect of this closely ties to #5 above, the observation that seven billion people probably can never have all the things the western world has, because of the obvious impact on ecology.
7. The societies, beliefs and views of The West have no special claim to legitimacy or cultural preservation.
8. Experimentation with things like immigration, healthcare or economic reforms should be rolled out en masse, instead of being implemented locally or as smaller trial tests. Statists are pretty free-minded about making big changes. They have no problem with major disruptions in societies - with those disruptions becoming change agents themselves. Individual states are to be crushed whenever an effort is made that competes with the federal.

By Any Means, Including Chaos

   Looking at the abbreviated list above, there are some significant ideas here. The statist is, first of all, a big thinker. Their obsession to remake the world vastly exceeds the number of years that most adults can expect to live, but that does not blunt their desire to accomplish everything right now. There is also a profound kind of egotism present here, the sort of dogmatic approach that allows for massive change to be implemented with little care, thought or objectivity. They are fine with colossal bills no one has time to read being quickly cobbled together by inexperienced aides or partisan activists.  On another front, leftist statists often default to an unstructured method of bringing about their change. It is a war mentality where all options are continually on the table. Whether it be deceptive legislation, or simply throwing borders open by inaction, change is the goal, damn the disruption. It is no longer a principle in modern Democrat practices to encourage civil dialogue, or even a debate. If that happens, they nearly always deal with it in a dishonest way. Ultimately, they have found that unfocused and chaotic efforts can be far more effective than a fair and open process. It is critical to note that these strategies have never been wedded in a comprehensive way until Obama.

Strength in Weakness?

   This movement we are discussing, let's call it American Statist "Progressivism," it loves to masquerade as weak, but is more powerful than any other major political movement happening in the world right now.  It is the heart of the corrupt establishment that Mr. Trump is only beginning to fully recognize, and it is not profound, special or threatened in any way.  If you are a free-thinking person, it is neither worthy of your assistance nor your protection.

Civilized Evil

   In short, American Statist Progressivism is a purely evil thing that few people actually love or even like, once they have a thoughtful look under the hood.  As an atheist I do not use the word "evil" to imply anything spiritual. I mean to say that this movement is immoral, thoroughly anti-reason and doubtless will, after doing massive damage, eventually prove to be toxic to the furtherance of humanity as we reach for the stars.  It loves the state and conversely finds it easy to despise the upright individual.  He or she is willingly sacrificed for the greater good of the aggrieved masses, the statist's singular obsession.  Don't be fooled; in one way, Hillary Clinton doesn't really need our help in expanding the ever-present leftist chokehold. The joke on everyone is that many of her views are already in power, thanks to Obama and his predecessors, and will continue to grind through the cogs, already secure within the engine of government. Lastly, the government is by definition "the state," and it is not the intention of this piece in any way to say that government is evil. To the contrary, it is good, particularly when restrained and informed by an old forgotten document called The United States Constitution. Millions of civil servants go to work every day to try to improve our lives, and they are not evil either. It is a shame something this obvious needs to be said in a political piece, but these days it does.

Shut Up and Vote? 

   It is imperative to remember that the statists don't give one iota about what you think and your pet issues; just shush it and vote for them. They'll handle it from there.  All are reminded to refrain from speaking out about what a disaster the leftist movement has become these days, or more importantly, what half-baked social experiments it has in mind for humanity in the next generation or two.  No, it is high time to actually think or pray or meditate about what sort of world we want to live in. It is crystal clear that Hillary Clinton and her ilk have done this thought experiment non-stop for 50 years.  Our small but sincere dreams are not in their plans, whatsoever. Besides, most of those dreams would be categorized as selfish. If a person can't be grouped or leveraged to create more division, that person is literally nothing more than a nameless vote dutifully pulling a lever every couple of years.

The Individual as Supreme, at Least for Now

   The Western Enlightenment Movement that founded our great culture was fundamentally based on the power, freedom and reason of the individual, and that individual's ability to contribute to society at-large. I speak of Enlightenment here because I assert that it is under attack, or at least threatened by insidious political revision. This piece is not written without an awareness of the highly insightful arguments presented by philosophers such as John Gray, who questioned key elements of western liberal thought related to the Enlightenment in his work, The Two Faces Of Liberalism. However, let's keep our eye on the ball here, and not be distracted by the mud and debris kicked up in elections or by philosophical ideas that, in the wrong hands, work their way into larger policies that seem bound to undermine major components of human progress.
  It is time to shine the light of truth on the chaos and cancer that  the left has coalesced around. Yes, Democrats, Progressives and statists do identify many legitimate concerns that humanity faces, and a person would be a fool to say they don't. The problem is that their side offers only a handful of decent solutions, and even those are virtually impossible to cull from the totality of the system. So we find ourselves facing a powerful opponent that is absolutely religious in fervency, precisely because many of the underpinnings of their philosophy are overly ideological, incompletely formed, and obsolete. It is time for all of us rationalists to consider, devise and offer more compelling solutions based on insight, respect and reason, and also begin to win more political battles in order to bring a needed course correction back towards Lady Liberty. Clearly, voting for a Hillary Clinton style persona riding atop a grand unified horse of leftist/statist ideology could never be in concert with the highest and best things for humanity, this precious race of beings, so alone and isolated on this rock in space.

Copyright 2016, Greg Tomlinson, November 03, 2016

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How Deep is the Global Economic Rabbit Hole?

By Greg B. Tomlinson, Colorado Springs, Co.
Quite simply, the world’s debt hole is deeper than any reasonable person can comprehend.  It is difficult to define, and it is not terribly easy to write about - really it’s more of a concept than something that you can actually sink your teeth into.  You won’t see an abundance of stories or editorials on this topic; in fact the financial media avoids the global debt situation like the plague for good reason.  Sure, they talk about chunks of it, but almost never in total.  However, with your indulgence, it is the purpose of this piece to bring us all a bit closer to not just understanding how dangerous things have become to all of us personally, but more importantly to frame the problem in terms of history and scale.  

Super Who?

Many scholars of finance and economics, people infinitely more qualified than me; believe that we are nearing the end of what some call a "Super Debt Cycle."  One could go so far as to call it a super debt bubble, as in the final bubble.  Consider the sequence: after the junk bond bubble, after the dot com bubble, after the housing market bubble, with the ongoing government spending bubble, the only thing left now is the debt on debt on top of debt bubble!  Let’s say for the sake of discussion that a super debt cycle is basically a long period of time in which significant debt-fueled economic growth has taken place with no meaningful and offsetting downward cycle.  We acknowledge that modern economies simply cannot grow without large scale borrowing, and that is not a bad thing in itself.  However, leveraging and debt can build to a point at which credit begins to tighten, restricting further growth.  After all, what is credit if not confidence in the borrower’s ability to repay?   So as traditionalist as it may sound, confidence is the only underpinning to a functional financial system.  It is the foundation and the rock on which all else is built.  Confidence is the key part, but the lender must also have something to lend. Towards the end of this “super debt cycle” we are getting into strange territory.  What the lender has been lending for the past many decades is often just a debt itself.  Even “real” currency is simply a debt instrument unless it is backed by something tangible; otherwise currency like ours is simply issued by “fiat.” (Hence the term “fiat” currency.)  But, if you were to say, “Economies can run along just fine, indefinitely in fact, on fiat currency, you dolt!”  I would agree, they can, except for the indefinitely part.  Still, as long as confidence exists, things can and do grind along or fly along or whatever.  Pull the confidence out of the equation, and start counting sorrows.

Confidence is relative.

What destroys confidence?  The list is endless, of course.  Here’s the sticky part.  Who cares whether it is a two week blackout of a major power grid, combined with a terrorist attack at a mall, or a tsunami melting down three American reactors?  The cause does not matter.  What does matter is that we have absolutely no control over that eventual and virtually guaranteed calamity.  In any economy there are inevitable triggering events which cause instability—the sort of instability that can lead to loan call-ins, rapid liquidation of debt instruments, a run on the banks, crushing inflation and the resulting kind of uncertainty (lack of confidence) that ripples to the farthest reaches at light speed.  “These be the dragons” that devastate currencies, markets and economies.  This sort of thing has happened before, at slower speed, but happened nonetheless.  Macro downturn cycles are not without historical precedent and have one thing in common—they don't end well.

Somebody crash us into the soft bushes, before we go over the cliff just up the road!
It is my contention that we are now at an economic place in which debt is so piled upon debt: the system is so distorted and broken that the markets MUST reset in order for there to be any significant economic growth or opportunity for our children.  Think about this: confidence is waning, debt security instruments have reached a point of complexity as to be incomprehensible and ultimately untrustworthy.  Central bankers inject “liquidity” into a system already so flooded with debt that it has the net effect of tears on a river.  Unfortunately when I say reset, I do indeed mean what the alarmists call “a meltdown.”  This natural resetting or "breathing out" should have been allowed to happen in ’08.  Instead, the inevitable was delayed, and just might be far worse in time.

Organic Economies

Economies are like living things, and if growth is likened to inhaling, even the tiniest tyke discovers he can’t breathe in or hold his breath forever.  Downturns are, of course, likened to exhaling in this analogy. No organism can continually breathe in without exhaling.  Economies on their own try to “breathe in and breathe out” in order to stay healthy.  Central bankers with questionable authority work hard to keep these economies from exhaling with any force.  Therefore those in power actually get paid to kick the “normal cycle can” down the road.  These visionless leaders speak of things like “soft landings” in the low part of a cycle, but that is never their actual goal. No, the true goal is eternal expansion, an almost comical modern arrogance which ignores the weight of human history.  Although central bankers are on a smaller scale than the global debt situation, their collective blunting or ignoring macroeconomic cycles is something that has helped to exacerbate the issue of the planet’s debt as a whole. Global debt is now a completely new kind of beast and it presents a new kind of danger, given the immediate and interconnected nature all things financial. Yes, that ‘08 collapse would have been bad, but rest assured it remains very much unavoidable. Cycles are not economic theory, they are economic law. Cycles cannot be prevented, only delayed. The longer “our” cycle is delayed, the worse and worse the eventual financial reset will become.

What’s a quadrillion anyhow, and what difference does it make?

After some digging, my personal "number" for global indebtedness is around 1.150 quadrillion! While that total is very arguable and nearly meaningless, the core issue of a "Super Debt Cycle" stubbornly remains.  The number I'm using includes the world’s government debt with a few years of unfunded liabilities tossed in, the world’s consumer debt, private debt and finally: many hundreds of trillions in toxic mortgage-backed securities.  Whether the debt was created out of thin air or whether it is real makes little difference. Come up with your own global debt number, it’s fun!  But seriously, a person could stop in the range of 1Q or 700T or some similar number and conclude that they now know the approximate depth of the rabbit hole. The problem is that the information has no context: so let’s go find some.

What if we all rowed this giant ship really, really hard, like in Waterworld?

So what’s the "income" of the world anyway? Surely this debt can be paid if we have some really great economic years?  Glad you asked. The world’s aggregate GDP is paltry 60 trillion, give or take. This means that if ALL the planet’s goods and services were all directed at debt elimination only, it would take over 19 years to settle the books.  I think we can all agree that this scenario of repayment will never happen. That 1Q total debt can’t really be absorbed either, any more than a five pound bag of cat litter can suck up a barrel of oil.

Looking over the edge

            Ever wonder what the numbers Bush’s advisors showed him looked like? The numbers that caused him to sign off on TARP despite whatever philosophical objection he may or may not have had? Those same numbers that probably caused him to do an underwear check?  I think they looked a lot like what you see above. He knew that if the dam ever cracked the slightest bit then the whole thing would come crashing down. So the US plopped down a few tiny billions and later trillions and other governments injected what they could to put a band-aid on a mortal wound—and things continued to stumble on.  Enter Obama’s brilliance; Unprecedentedly large budgets, more deficit-backed stimulus and more TARP. (Reminder: TARP is a revolving credit card with a 700B line. It is fully rechargeable/reusable, and it has been used in this manner a number of times, not just once.)  All of the stimulus and spending did next to nothing.  QE1 and QE2 were grossly ineffective as well. About all the QE's did was to further debase our currency, a practice that has allowed governments to pay off their debt at face value with ever devaluated fiat money. 

Those Lying Green Shoots

Yet why have all the kings’ horses and men been unable to restart the economy's heart, even with such dramatic life-saving measures? To me, it is the most compelling piece of evidence of all that we are at the end of the Super Cycle. The economy is acting like a beloved plant you neglected and are now trying to bring back. What you don’t know is that you killed 90% of the roots because you are deceived by a green shoot or two. You wake with the realization that your only real choice is to remove all the dead, repot it and prune it back to only what the remaining roots can support. Or you can be like the world’s governments and economic leaders – flood it with water, fertilizer and sunlight then curse your “stupid” plant for being such an unappreciative slacker. 

We love debt… in the right measure

            Yes, we need debt. In many ways debt has driven most of the modern world's expansion. In the past one hundred years, the tremendous growth of the global economy as well as our standard of living owe as much appreciation to debt as they do to innovations in efficiency such as economies of scale or the assembly line.  Debt used correctly is quite simply a modern economic marvel. Hooray, let’s call the History Channel!  But wait…..

The Jews vs. the Hail Mary approach

The Jews of old, even under their strict, legalistic system allowed debt.  They (or God) had the wisdom to reset the debt periodically.  No, I don’t think they were dumb enough to grant a huge loan two years before the Year of Jubilee (mandated debt forgiveness).  In fact, because no-one would give long term loans for the period close to those mandated debt reset times,  the effect was to slow down the economy to create the natural cycle that all economies will find on their own, no matter what we do. WOW! So there it is.  As smart as we think we are, our current system is more like trying to win the game by throwing only “Hail Mary” passes.  In other words, we are simply hoping that it all holds together.  I’d challenge anyone to find a football team that employs that offense, yet it is exactly how we run our most important affairs. 

Of dung beetles and men

To conclude what I have feebly tried to present here, I believe there really is a complete lack of sophistication in the current global financial system, despite so-called technological advances.  Satellites, software, and traders execute transactions flawlessly, sort of like bacteria in a cave.  They respond to stimuli but not much more.  Investors, market makers, lawyers writing derivatives, and central bankers are more like dung beetles.  They work the pile looking for a big meal just like most of us.  Governments are the bats above, blind but with a minimal sense of where they are.  But on the largest scale, there is no one watching the whole of it.  Like that cave, the global debt markets just exist.  Those markets and that cave in this tranquil environment just happen to reside right next door to an awakening volcano.    

Hobbling in Misery

Sure, our system could possibly hobble along like this for a while, but eventually a triggering event will come along, shattering confidence and bringing it all crashing down. Rest assured that someone has a plan for about that same time to exchange the debt for our blood, sweat and tears.  Stay tuned for my next installment where I’ll make an attempt to strip their planned process of wealth extraction down to the wires.
Thanks for reading. I would appreciate your feedback at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The national media's pathetic attempts to cover the real estate market.

  Preface, I love news and a certified current events junkie. Nevertheless:
  The national media's inconsistency in covering the real estate market is becoming more than an irritation. Sometimes it proclaims the market is recovering. The next day our country is going down the crapper faster than Glenn Beck could even predict. It ponders that the pain of "real estate cancer" is just around the next corner while in the same breath, drooling about what markets will recover first.
   The media is like a red eyed and stoned Towlie from South Park, "I have no idea of what is going on right now, man." We all love Towlie. Perhaps it's his accent or possibly that his defective towell DNA really is not his fault. But when he switched from pot to crack, many such as myself actually began to suspect that he actually became a correspondent for CNN.
  So this media of ours just keeps yammering; cranking out the garbage we all know and love them for. All I will admit is that individual media contributors are at least as good at their jobs as government is at what it does.
  Here is the problem. The yapping, yammering and yada, yada is feeding that primal uncertainty in the psychology of real and uninformed people who actually need or want to buy or sell real estate right now. So the regular person is paralyzed, further delaying any recovery, and that recovery in real estate is essential to heal the economy that well intentioned (or not) President has worked so hard to wreck.
Choose dearest media! Trash and burn residential real estate or crassly hawk it like the NAR. Just DO something definitive! You are not objective on anything else, why plant the flag here.
So thanks for adding nothing either positive or negative.
To coin an insider's own phrase, Good night and good luck.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So who caused the real estate meltdown?

I am seeking an honest discussion, as in no holes barred.

I feel like the Church Lady. Was it.....SATAN??????