Friday, April 30, 2021

Which Lifeboat Will You Choose?

I'm sure it's no surprise that the next five years will be risky and challenging; to the degree that we will be reliant on those closest to us, we are sharing a virtual lifeboat.

Consider a scenario in which we're on a ship that's sinking, and the lifeboats have been launched. Being some of the last still on board the doomed vessel, we can scan who's in each lifeboat and choose which one we'll clamber into.

It's a consequential decision because the currents and weather are already separating the lifeboats, and so each lifeboat will be on its own. The seas are increasingly treacherous, and the nearby islands are surrounded by reefs which could shred the lifeboat's hulls in seconds.

While we don't know everyone on board, we've met many of the other passengers and crew and made the acquaintance of a fair number of our fellow castaways.

So who do we choose to join? Our knowledge is imperfect: we only have first impressions and intuitions about the people who will potentially impact our life in a very direct and consequential way.

Do we choose to go in the lifeboat with a friend? This is certainly more appealing than a boat full of strangers.

Do we choose a boat with an experienced sailor whose skills in the open ocean would improve our chances of surviving the ordeal ahead?

Or do we choose a boat which is already under the control of a natural leader? If we understand that dithering and unresolvable conflicts can lead to disaster by default, then having someone in charge might be worth the risk that their leadership will lead to a catastrophically bad decision.

If we feel we have the experience to take charge and bring a lifeboat to safety, then perhaps we look for the disorganized, leaderless boat.

Alternatively, we can weed out those boats we'll avoid as potentially dangerous because of the presence of domineering individuals with traits that have poor survival outcomes.

When The Little Prince hopscotches to various planets on his way to Earth, he encounters the King who desires a subject, a conceited man, a tippler (addict), a businessman who claims all the stars as his possessions and a lamplighter busy lighting and extinguishing the lamp every minute. These are parodies of human types, of course; The Little Prince found some modest favor in the lamplighter because he was the only one who was not self-obsessed / self-absorbed.

The boats I would avoid are those with wealthy, powerful people who confuse their position and wealth with competence, when actually there is no connection to competence beyond whatever specialized niche they used to acquire wealth and power. Their assumption (a form of privilege beneath the surface) that their specialized competence grants them universal competence is disastrously wrong-headed.

These are the types who will steer the lifeboat onto a reef despite the warnings of the less wealthy/powerful because their confidence in their judgment exceeds their grasp of risk/reality and their general life competence. They fail to understand the extreme narrowness of their experience and competence and have an overly high opinion of themselves due to their success in a narrow niche.

I would also avoid boats with individuals who triggered my BS detector, our intuitive animal assessment of the trustworthiness and self-absorption of individuals. For those who don't automatically filter out their negative assessments as "bad" and therefore "not allowed," this assessment is remarkably rapid and remarkably accurate.

Boats filled with self-important, self-absorbed people I would avoid as death traps. I would also avoid boats with do-gooders / would-be saints whose motivation (above self-preservation, until it's too late) is to defend the rights of the weak as the most important principle, even in life-and-death circumstances. These types are especially dangerous because their life experience is that Somebody Will Rescue Us. They thus conclude we can devote asymmetric resources to the weakest because Somebody Will Rescue Us.

They are incapable of recognizing the difference between making the vulnerable/dependent as comfortable as possible given the resources available and devoting the primary effort to saving everyone but if this can't be done, then saving as many people as possible. They are unable to recognize the need for difficult decisions that may well have asymmetric outcomes for the individuals on the boat. In demanding equal outcomes, they will lose everyone's lives--an outcome that is certainly equal but foolish.

Choosing a boat with an experienced open-ocean sailor is an obvious choice, as the sailor has experiential skills that apply specifically to the challenge at hand. But let's say that obvious choice means that boat is already filled to capacity.

So if the obvious best choice is not available, then what boat do we cast our lot with?

I would look for a boat with low-key individuals with high situational awareness and experience in responding to crises and danger. Combat veterans come to mind, but there are many others with training and experience (or natural abilities) that aids their situational awareness, risk assessment and responses to rapidly evolving threats. The OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) is an example of this process.

I would also look for a boat with the increasingly rare individuals who do what they say they're going to do, and do it without self-obsessed drama/trauma or childish excuses. These individuals have a healthy awareness of their own limits and the limits of human nature. They don't overpromise to make themselves larger than they really are and they won't burden the rest of the boat with their self-absorbed histrionics or adolescent excuses.

Since I'm not qualified to lead as a sailor, and the only boat with an open-ocean sailor is full, I would look for a boat with a balance between hierarchy and self-expression / advocacy. The ideal situation is a boat in which every individual's advocacy of a particular action or strategy is carefully considered but the consensus reaches a decision and grants leadership to those with the best qualifications and most persuasive argument for their decision.

Once the decision of a strategy has been made, then the boat unites behind pursuing this strategy.

It's instructive to consider the greatest open-ocean, open-boat voyages that have been recorded. Some had existing military hierarchies (for example, Captain Bligh's epic 4,000 mile voyage in a severely overloaded open launch) while others were castaways lacking a strict hierarchy.

Whether the united effort of cooperation is imposed or agreed upon, this cooperation is key, as is a strategy based on the realities and risks.

Going it alone is a high-risk strategy. So is becoming dependent on self-important, self-absorbed people who are incapable of viewing reality as anything other than It's All About Me.

I'm sure it's no surprise that the next five years will be risky and challenging; to the degree that we will be reliant on those closest to us, we are sharing a virtual lifeboat.

Choose your boatmates carefully.



This essay was first published as a weekly Musings Report sent exclusively to subscribers and patrons at the $5/month ($54/year) and higher level. Thank you, patrons and subscribers, for supporting my work and free website.


If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

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Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 42: Is System Change Likely, Possible or Inevitable? (58 min)

Charles Hugh Smith on the Terminally Ill Economy (49 min)

Keiser Report | Bilking Grandma is the Business Model
In the second half, Max interviews Charles Hugh Smith of OfTwoMinds.com about the 'fatal synergies' and the 'sealed pressure cooker' resulting when the system refuses to offer a solution to those denied a voice or access to resources. They also discuss the oversupply of elites and the chaos this ultimately brings to society.

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



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Thursday, April 29, 2021

America Is Exceptionally...Kleptocratic: Wealth/Power Inequality and the Slide Into Disorder

The sheer weight of this outlandish asymmetry of wealth and power is pulling the nation into disorder.

The U.S. Constitution doesn't address a small elite owning most of the nation's private wealth and using a sliver of that wealth to influence the federal government so their wealth and political power increase in a self-reinforcing feedback: as a result of their campaign contributions and lobbying, the elites' wealth continues expanding, enhancing their political power to further expand their wealth, and so on.

This financial and political dominance is thus perfectly legal. As Bastiat's famous quote puts it: :When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."

This legalized looting has now reached such absurd extremes that kleptocracy no longer does justice as a descriptor of the U.S. Consider this excerpt from Monopoly Versus Democracy (Foreign Affairs):

Like their forebears in the early twentieth century, today's Americans have experienced decades of growing inequality and increasing concentrations of wealth and power. The last decade alone witnessed nearly 500,000 corporate mergers worldwide. Ten percent of Americans now control 97 percent of all capital income in the country. Nearly half of the new income generated since the global financial crisis of 2008 has gone to the wealthiest one percent of U.S. citizens. The richest three Americans collectively have more wealth than the poorest 160 million Americans. (emphasis added.)

If you read that three kleptocrats held more wealth than half the residents of Lower Slobovia, that the top 0.1% own more wealth than the bottom 80% and that a near-zero 3% of all income flowing from capital trickled down to the bottom 90%, what would you think about wealth/power asymmetry in Lower Slobovia?

We now know what American Exceptionalism really means: exceptionally kleptocratic. Even as private wealth soared to unprecedented heights in the past decade of Federal Reserve largesse (endless trillions for financiers and too-big-to-jail speculators), the percentage of stocks owned by the fortunate class of the 90% to 99% fell from 39% to 35% and the percentage owned by the bottom 50% slipped to 0.6%. (Data from the Federal Reserve's FRED database)

Now there are rumblings in Washington D.C. about closing tax loopholes for corporations, which scoop 15% of the nation's GDP as profits. This is certainly very pretty political theater, but please let me know when you and I can rent a post office box in Ireland and pay no federal income taxes, while corporations are paying the total federal tax rates we pay (40+%) with 15.3% self-employment tax, 3.9% supplemental Medicare tax, etc.

The sheer weight of this outlandish asymmetry of wealth and power is pulling the nation into disorder. There are no legal or political limits on private wealth and political power, and the politicians that depend on the wealthy to fund their re-election campaigns have demonstrably little interest in harming the geese that lay their golden eggs.

The super-wealthy and Corporate America reckon that they can suppress any resistance to their dominance with virtue-signaling and political suppression, but they must have flunked history: when the bottom 90% own effectively zero income-producing capital and no political voice, and even the top 9.9% don't really have any real political power, then disorder of the uncontrollable variety arises to rebalance the extreme asymmetry.












If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17, audiobook now available $17.46)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 42: Is System Change Likely, Possible or Inevitable? (58 min)

Charles Hugh Smith on the Terminally Ill Economy (49 min)

Keiser Report | Bilking Grandma is the Business Model
In the second half, Max interviews Charles Hugh Smith of OfTwoMinds.com about the 'fatal synergies' and the 'sealed pressure cooker' resulting when the system refuses to offer a solution to those denied a voice or access to resources. They also discuss the oversupply of elites and the chaos this ultimately brings to society.

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Warning Light Flashing Red

When the warning light is flashing red, it's prudent to have a capital preservation strategy in place.

Not everyone has an IRA or 401K invested in the stock market, for those who do, the red warning light is flashing red: markets have reached historic extremes on numerous fronts.

Just like in 2000, proponents claim "this time it's different." Back then, the claim was that since the Internet would be growing for decades, dot-com stocks could go to the moon and beyond.

The claim the the Internet would continue growing was sound, but the prediction that this growth would drive stock valuations into a never-ending bubble was unsound.

Once again we hear reasonable-sounding claims being used to support predictions of a never-ending rise in stock valuations.

What hasn't changed is humans are still running Wetware 1.0 which has default settings for extremes of emotion, particularly manic euphoria, running with the herd (a.k.a. FOMO, fear of missing out) and panic / fear.

Despite all the assurances to the contrary, all bubbles pop because they are based in human emotions. We attempt to rationalize them by invoking the real world, but the reality is speculative manias are manifestations of human emotions and the feedback of running in a herd of social animals.

Here's a chart of financial assets as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). (below) Note that in the "Glorious Thirty" years of the postwar era of broad-based prosperity, financial assets were around 3 times GDP.

This ratio increased with every one of the three bubbles since the mid-1990s: the dot-com bubble in 1999-2000 (Fed Bubble #1) , the subprime bubble in 2007-08 (Fed Bubble #2) and now the Everything Bubble of 2020-21 (Fed Bubble #3). Financial assets are now 6 times the size of the "real economy" (GDP), an extreme beyond all previous extremes.

This reflects the dominance of financial assets based on extreme expansions of debt, leverage and speculation.

The red warning light of extremes in sentiment, valuation, etc. can flash for quite some time, but as I've noted over the years, speculative bubbles often display symmetry: those that spike higher tend to collapse in a mirror-image of the manic rise. This symmetry isn't perfect, of course, just as correlations are rarely if ever perfect, but as a generality, bubbles tend to display symmetry as manic greed slips into doubt and then cascades into panic. (see chart below)

Extreme bullishness is noteworthy. (see chart below of S&P 500 stocks above their 200-day moving average--a standard definition of a stock in a bullish trend.) Not only is the number of S&P 500 stocks that aren't in a bullish uptrend essentially signal noise, this extreme reading has been pegged to the upper boundary for weeks, far longer than the extremes reached in previous manias.

As my old quant boss Stew Pillette would observe, when all the good news is out and has already been priced into the market, the next bit of news is likely to be bad and not priced in.

There are seven factors to keep in mind that may intensify reversals and risks:

One factor to keep in mind is the dominance of ETFs (exchange-traded funds) and index funds. As money pours into these passive funds, the funds buy whatever stocks are in the ETF or index. Good, bad and indifferent stocks in each ETF or index are purchased without any assessment of their relative value.

When owners sell, the process is reversed: every stock in the ETF or index is automatically sold to fund the redemption. This leads to "the baby being thrown out with the bathwater" as the best performing companies get sold off with the dregs in the ETF or index.

Another factor to keep in mind is the reliance of bubbles on borrowed money (margin debt) and leverage: 2X and 3X leveraged ETFs and a variety of financialization tricks to increase leverage and thus gains. When assets that have been leveraged reverse even modestly, the losses are quickly consequential, and the "solution" is to liquidate every leveraged asset before the position is wiped out. Selling begets selling, and this is the self-reinforcing feedback of crashes.

A third factor to keep in mind is the decline of short interest to all-time lows. Put another way, the number of speculators who have an incentive to buy shares in a decline is near all-time lows, so the only buyers in a real decline will be "buy the dip" players who will soon be wiped out if the decline continues.

A fourth factor to keep in mind is the narrowing of the speculative universe into a few assets. This creates an extreme dependency on the few rocketships to keep soaring lest the entire ETF / index fund world collapse.

A fifth factor to keep in mind is the potential for the Covid virus to spread globally beyond current expectations. Such an expansion could trigger a global slowdown / recession.

A sixth point to keep in mind is that all fiscal and monetary stimulus suffers from diminishing returns. (see chart below) The chart of money velocity suggests the returns have fallen off a cliff. (see chart below)

A seventh factor is the dominance of algorithm-driven trading (algos, trading bots, etc., which appears to be mostly programmed to be momentum / trend-following. If these programs are withdrawn to avoid high volatility, the liquidity the market depends on to maintain stability may dry up, increasing the odds of the market going bidless, i.e. buyers vanish and prices crash.

When the warning light is flashing red, it's prudent to have a capital preservation strategy in place.












If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17, audiobook now available $17.46)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 42: Is System Change Likely, Possible or Inevitable? (58 min)

Charles Hugh Smith on the Terminally Ill Economy (49 min)

Keiser Report | Bilking Grandma is the Business Model
In the second half, Max interviews Charles Hugh Smith of OfTwoMinds.com about the 'fatal synergies' and the 'sealed pressure cooker' resulting when the system refuses to offer a solution to those denied a voice or access to resources. They also discuss the oversupply of elites and the chaos this ultimately brings to society.

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Cynthia F. ($50), for your marvelously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Monday, April 26, 2021

What's Yours Is Now Mine: America's Era of Accelerating Expropriation

The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can't be expropriated.

Expropriation: dispossessing the populace of property and property rights, via the legal and financial over-reach of monetary and political authorities.

All expropriations are pernicious, but the most destructive is the expropriation of labor's value while the excessive gains of unproductive speculation accrue to the elite that owns most of the nation's wealth.

In a nation in which the leadership has finely honed the art and artifice of legalized looting and financial legerdemain, it's not surprising that the expropriation of labor's value takes many forms. For the self-employed and small business proprietor, the list is practically endless:

1. Proliferating junk fees for permits, license renewals, applications, late fees, penalties, fines for violating obscure regulations, etc. (Never mind if you're losing money; by definition, as a business owner you're "rich" and deserve petty expropriations. If you're Amazon, however, we'll shower you with subsidies and tax breaks.)

2. Sky-high liability insurance, disability insurance and workers compensation insurance, because all the fraud and friction in these systems adds expense and you're the one who will pay for it all.

3. Sky-high rent. Now that the Federal Reserve jacked up the "market value" of a $1 million commercial building to $10 million via asset inflation, rents have soared even though no improvements have been made to the tenants' spaces. Thanks to the Fed, rents are many multiples of what they would be if the Fed hadn't jacked up real estate to absurd overvaluations.

4. Taxes on wages. Consider the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State: let's start with the 15.3% federal self-employment tax on wages up to $142,000, then add federal tax rates that quickly reach 32% and up and state taxes that hit 10% and higher in high-tax states, and then don't forget the extra 3.9% Medicare tax above $125,000, and when we add all this up, the total tax rate exceeds 61%. (You want to quibble? OK, make it 55%. How much difference does this make? None.)

Now this may be acceptable in Scandinavian nations where you receive virtually free healthcare and higher education, but here in the Accelerating Expropriation USA, the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State has to pay insanely costly healthcare insurance out of the 39% that's been oh-so-generously left to live on, as well as the insanely high student loans that were taken out to attend university.

Factor those in and the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State gets a third or less of her labor's value. This only rises slightly in so-called lower-tax states, which tend to compensate for lower income taxes with high sales taxes and property taxes ("they get you coming and going.")

Inflation is stealth expropriation, and like all expropriation, we're told it's for our own good, just like any other beating delivered by authorities. So as the Fed pushes asset inflation to Mars and whines that real-inflation isn't high enough yet, the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State are experiencing a monthly expropriation of the purchasing power of what little labor value has been left to them.

I received an insightful email on this topic from A.C.:

"Expropriation.

Once you've had it done to you personally (as I did through my business) you view the world in a whole new light.

Without assets in which you can store the excess value of your labor minus the worry of debasement or theft, the incentive to create that excess goes away. That's why the BLS 'take this job and shove it' JOLT measure is staying so stubbornly high.

Unfortunately, it's that excess labor that funds what we call civilization.

People without the margins which excess labor can create tend to revert, for their own security, to community groupings based on familial bonds. They're a store of value that's stable and can't be inflated away.

Those without such bonds are SOL. Hunger goes a long way in mitigating the personality disorders which impair the creation of such bonds."


Here's the takeaway: Any "wealth" denominated in financial instruments will be expropriated by one means or another, so "wealth" has to be denominated in some other "currency", social, cultural, skills / intellectual, that is beyond the grasp of monetary and political authorities. This is the primary reason why crazy risky speculation is being pursued with such intensity: there is no way to escape the grinding impoverishment of expropriation for most wage-earners except to make more "wealth" via crazy-risky gambles than is being expropriated.
The Only Way to Get Ahead Now Is Crazy-Risky Speculation.

There's another dynamic few grasp: When the Empire runs out of colonies to exploit, it brings its expropriation machinery home to stripmine the domestic populace. I explained this dynamic back in 2012:

Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model (4/24/12)

Welcome to Neocolonialism, Exploited Peasants! (10/21/16) October 21, 2016

Why are we not surprised that as expropriation accelerates on all fronts, the Middle Class Now Holds Less Wealth than Top 1 Percent? (brookings.edu) Thanks to the magic of pay-to-play "democracy," the super-wealthy and corporate elites escape all the expropriation machinery stripmining wage earners. The corporate taxes collected are a tiny slice of the hundreds of billions corporations spend on stock buybacks, the only purpose of which is to enrich insiders and the super-wealthy who own most of the nation's financial assets.

The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can't be expropriated. Develop low-overhead gigs and enterprises that are 100% yours so you can legitimately write off expenses and control how much work you decide to take on. Keep accurate records and pay whatever taxes are due, but by minimizing net income then taxes will be modest. Invest your best self, time and energy in assets that can't be assessed, taxed or expropriated: your skills, networks, value you create and invest in your own self-sufficiency, sharing and good living of the kind that can't be bought or sold or expropriated.

I cover these topics in greater depth in my books:

Get a Job, Build a Real Career, Defy a Bewildering Economy

An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times

Money and Work Unchained




If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17, audiobook now available $17.46)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 42: Is System Change Likely, Possible or Inevitable? (58 min)

Charles Hugh Smith on the Terminally Ill Economy (49 min)

Keiser Report | Bilking Grandma is the Business Model
In the second half, Max interviews Charles Hugh Smith of OfTwoMinds.com about the 'fatal synergies' and the 'sealed pressure cooker' resulting when the system refuses to offer a solution to those denied a voice or access to resources. They also discuss the oversupply of elites and the chaos this ultimately brings to society.

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Corey S. ($50), for your marvelously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Alan Walmsley. ($5/month), for your magnificently generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Read more...

Friday, April 23, 2021

The People Have Lost Faith in the State, and the State Has Lost Faith in its People

This is how states and empires decay and slide into the dustbin of history.

Democracy is fundamentally about advocacy: the people are free to advocate for their interests and form groups to represent their shared interests. In the broadest scope, the people are free to advocate for what they hold as the common good, policies and programs that benefit the entire populace rather than one special-interest group.

Since the state (all levels of government) concentrates wealth and power via taxation and a monopoly on force, groups advocate/lobby the state to recognize and respond to their interests. At the local level, this advocacy entails contacting city council members, speaking at council meetings, developing outreach tools (email lists, website, etc.), holding rallies at city hall, etc.

People advocate when they still have faith in their government. When they lose that faith, their only option is dissent. When advocacy yields zero results because government really only responds to corporations and the super-wealthy, then people lose faith in the representational branch of the state.

Since advocacy failed, people dissent, protesting government policies, rallying behind alternative policies and demanding a hearing of their concerns and interests.

The state tolerates polite advocacy because it is easily dismissed, but it views dissent as a threat, and responds accordingly. The state's elected officials and unelected functionaries view citizen advocacy as an annoyance, but dissent is understood as a direct challenge to the state's monopoly on force and its concentration of wealth via taxation, and a challenge to the state's freedom to exercise its powers whenever and however it wants.

Dissent is thus intolerable, especially if it demands transparency, which threatens the cozy corruption of politicos and functionaries, or threatens the wealth and power of the parasitic elites that control virtually all the nation's wealth and power.

This study of political influence and state policy decisions found that the average citizenry had zero influence: Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.

Note the difference between conventional wealth and super-wealth. Someone earning $500,000 is wealthy to the average wage earner, but that individual pays 40+% in taxes, so they net less than $300,000, and if they live in high-cost states and have elderly parents in assisted living and kids in university, their income available to lobby the state is inconsequential compared to the tens of millions of dollars corporations and the super-wealthy routinely spend to cement their political influence.

When the people realize advocacy is an empty promise of political influence and they move to dissent, the state's powers of suppression are unleashed. This includes the judiciary (one set of oppressive laws for the average citizen, and another for the corporations and super-wealthy), law enforcement and the security agencies, which are now in bed with the Big Tech monopolies which can effortlessly suppress free speech by banning or shadow-banning dissenters, all under the convenient guise of "banning disinformation."

When the state views dissent as an existential threat to its monopoly powers, it has lost faith in its own citizenry. Fearful that the citizenry might not approve of the corruption of political deal-making and the state's Imperial machinations globally, the state devotes enormous resources to hiding its actions, policies and intentions.

Since the citizenry can't be trusted with the truth, lest they disagree with the elites' choices, whistleblowers are savagely punished and dissenters are marginalized, suppressed or silenced.

As dissent is crushed, the citizenry lose faith in the state's judiciary, law enforcement, taxation and security agencies--in effect, faith in the state is completely destroyed. Once self-serving elites control the state, dissent cannot be tolerated, as the parasitic elites' hold on power is illegitimate and thus precarious. This is why whistleblowers pose such an existential threat to a thoroughly corrupt, debauched, incompetent self-serving state.

This is how states and empires decay and slide into the dustbin of history. When the citizenry lose faith in the state and the state has lost faith in its citizenry, then everything become theater and artifice: the pantomime of elections, the carefully curated simulacra of "free speech," (free as long as you mouth the approved narratives), the flood of absurd promises (free money for everyone forever!) that can never be fulfilled, the tiresome parade of politically expedient fake-fixes, a central bank slavishly devoted to expanding already jaw-dropping wealth and income inequality, and a political leadership so clueless they believe their pathetic strutting on stage is actually persuading the audience of their competence and sincerity.

Max Keiser and I discuss these topics in the latest Keiser Report:
In the second half, Max interviews Charles Hugh Smith of OfTwoMinds.com about the 'fatal synergies' and the 'sealed pressure cooker' resulting when the system refuses to offer a solution to those denied a voice or access to resources. They also discuss the oversupply of elites and the chaos this ultimately brings to society.




If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17, audiobook now available $17.46)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 42: Is System Change Likely, Possible or Inevitable? (58 min)

Charles Hugh Smith on the Terminally Ill Economy (49 min)

Keiser Report | Bilking Grandma is the Business Model
In the second half, Max interviews Charles Hugh Smith of OfTwoMinds.com about the 'fatal synergies' and the 'sealed pressure cooker' resulting when the system refuses to offer a solution to those denied a voice or access to resources. They also discuss the oversupply of elites and the chaos this ultimately brings to society.

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Lawrence M. ($50), for your marvelously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Only Way to Get Ahead Now Is Crazy-Risky Speculation

It's all so pathetic, isn't it? The only way left to get ahead in America is to leverage up the riskiest gambles.

It's painfully obvious that the only way left to get ahead in America is crazy-risky speculation, but nobody seems to even notice this stark and stunning reality. Why are people piling into crazy-risky bets on speculative vehicles like Gamestop and Dogecoin? The obvious answer is because others have reaped a decade or two of wages in a few weeks, and skimming a couple hundred thousand dollars in a few weeks or months is the only way an average wage earner is going to be able to buy a house, fund a retirement account, afford to have a family, etc.

Look at the reality of wage stagnation: I made $12 an hour in 1986, and I wasn't some highly paid techno-guru or Wall Street shill. $12 an hour was an OK wage in 1986 but it wasn't fantastic. Now 35 years later, $12 is still an OK wage. A lot of people make less than $12/hour.

But what happened to the cost of healthcare, housing, childcare and everything else required to have a family in those 35 years? These costs have exploded higher. It was already a stretch to buy a house in 1986 making $12/hour, but now--are you joking? Depending on the region, the cost of a modest house has tripled or gone up five-fold or even ten-fold in the past 35 years.

As for getting ahead by starting your own business--that's another bitter joke. In 1986 I was able to provide our single employees decent healthcare insurance for $50 each and those with families for about $150 per month. Our employees did not pay a dime for this coverage. We (the employers) paid all the healthcare insurance costs as well as workers compensation, liability insurance and unemployment insurance (federal and state).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the consumer price index (CPI) has risen such that what $1 bought in 1986 now costs $2.40. Try buying real healthcare insurance for an employee today for $50 X 2.4 = $120 per month. The CPI is a pathetic joke when it comes to housing, childcare, healthcare, higher education and all the other big-ticket expenses of having a family.

All the expenses of operating a business have soared even as liability exposure, compliance costs and junk fees have skyrocketed. And by definition, you're "rich," even if you're losing money, because you're a business owner, so there's a tax target on your back as state and local governments jack up junk fees, penalties, fines and taxes on everything that isn't already overtaxed.

As for getting a graduate degree to place yourself above the competition--credential inflation is even worse than price inflation. There are 100 other equally credentialed candidates for every high-paying slot, and if you (foolishly) accept the big-bucks job, your life outside of work is over. You are essentially a well-compensated indentured servant of your Corporate America masters.

And now that you're "rich," you're also a Tax Donkey, paying between 40% and 50% of your earnings in taxes. The billionaires and their corporations pay little or nothing, as they've got the tax dodges (philanthro-capitalist foundations, offshore tax gimmicks, subsidies enacted by cheaply-bought politicians, etc.), but you, indentured servant of Corporate America--you're "rich" and should pay more.

So please work harder and make even more income, and if you're lucky we'll let you keep a slice of the higher earnings. But maybe not, because, well, you're "rich." You don't own anything and can barely afford a family, but you're "rich" in terms of earnings, and that's what counts.

And so the last best hope for the non-elite workforce without the privileges of a wealthy well-connected family is to play the riskiest tables in the Federal Reserve's casino, maxing out margin (borrowing money against one's stock portfolio) and buying options, which expire worthless if the bet goes south.

Because the reality of American life is the ways to get ahead are down to: 1) choose wealthy parents 2) win the lottery 3) follow the FIRE path (financial independence, retire early) which requires a high-paying job and super-low expenses, 4) join a friend's software start-up that gets bought by Microsoft, Google, Apple or Facebook for mega-millions, or 5) gamble and win at the Fed casino's riskiest tables.

Take a look at three charts: margin debt (all-time high), M2 money supply (all-time high), and money velocity (all-time low). The Fed creates trillions of dollars out of thin air which flows into speculative asset bubbles, punters with no other realistic options to get ahead max out their margin accounts to boost their bets at the riskiest tables and meanwhile, back in the real economy, stagnation reins supreme: stagnant wages, stagnant family / household formation, stagnant business formation and the velocity of money is in a free-fall to dead money.

It's all so pathetic, isn't it? The only way left to get ahead in America is to leverage up the riskiest gambles at the riskiest tables, betting that everyone will be a winner at the Fed's rigged tables--but you have to play to win.

Or lose, but nobody mentions that. All you'll hear in the Fed's casino is the Fed has our back, until the entire casino collapses in a putrid heap of fraud, corruption, greed, systemic risk and hubris.








If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17, audiobook now available $17.46)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 41: Can't get you out of my head (58 min)

Disconnects between the Economy and the Financial Markets (FRA Roundtable, 41 min)

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Ardith S. ($5/month), for your monstrously generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Amit A. ($5/month), for your magnificently generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

America's Fatal Synergies

America's financial system and state are themselves the problems, yet neither system is capable of recognizing this or unwinding their fatal synergies.

why do some systems/states emerge from crises stronger while similar systems/states collapse? Put another way: take two very similar political-social-economic systems/nation-states and two very similar crises, and why does one system not just survive but emerge better adapted while the other system/state fails?

The answer lies in what author Geoffrey Parker termed Fatal Synergies and Benign Synergies in his book Global Crisis: War, Climate Change, & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century. Synergy results from "interactions that produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects." In other words, 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 8 is linear, while synergy is 2 X 2 X 2 X 2 = 16.

Given that the core function of states is the distribution of resources, capital and agency, we can distill the difference between Fatal Synergies and Benign Synergies into two questions:

1. What problems cannot be resolved by the financial system/state, no matter how many reforms are thrown at them?

2. Which groups have a meaningful voice in decision-making / governance and which groups are effectively voiceless / powerless?

The first question identifies the structural weak points in the system. These weak points could have any number of sources: they could be perverse incentives embedded in the system, elites caught up in their own enrichment, or even a willful blindness to the nature of the crisis threatening the system.

Here's an example in the U.S. system: corporations reap $2.4 trillion in profits annually, roughly 15% of the nation's entire output. Politicians need millions of dollars in campaign contributions to win elections. Those seeking political influence have not just billions but tens of billions. Those needing to distribute political favors will do so for mere millions.

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens:

"I'd say that contrary to what decades of political science research might lead you to believe, ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States. And economic elites and interest groups, especially those representing business, have a substantial degree of influence. Government policy-making over the last few decades reflects the preferences of those groups -- of economic elites and of organized interests."

This asymmetry cannot be overcome. Indeed, the past 40 years have witnessed an increasing concentration of wealth and power in corporations and their lobbyists and a decline of political influence of the masses to near-zero. Every reform has failed to slow this momentum, which is constructed of incentives to maximize profits, gain political favors and win elections.

In a similar fashion, the Imperial Presidency has gained power at the expense of Congress for decades--a reality that scholars bemoan but the reforms allowed by the system are unable to stop. So we have endless wars of choice without a declaration of war by Congress, one of the core powers of the elected body.

An analogy to these systemic weak points is the synergies of an organism's essential organs: if any one organ fails, the organism dies even though the other organs are working just fine. In other words, any system is only as robust as its weakest essential component/process.

Whatever problems the system is incapable of resolving have the potential to bring down the system once they interact synergistically.

The second question identifies how many groups have been suppressed, silenced or ignored by those at the top of the heap. If these groups have an essential role in the system as producers, consumers and taxpayers, their demand to have a say in decisions that directly affect them is natural.

Another group with understandable frustrations at being left out of the decision-making are those in the educated upper classes whose expectations of roles in the top tier were encouraged by their families, society and training. When these expectations are not met because there are no longer enough slots in the top tier for the rapidly proliferating upper classes, the group left out in the cold has the time, education and motivation to demand a voice.

In other words, those denied access to resources, capital and agency who felt entitled to this access will not be as easily silenced as those who accept their low status and restricted access to resources, capital and agency as "the natural order of things."

All the groups that are denied a voice and access to resources, capital and agency are in effect a sealed pressure cooker atop a flame. The pressure builds and builds without any apparent consequence until it explodes.

The more that power is concentrated in the hands of the few, the greater the desperation of the groups who are locked out of power. As their desperation rises, some of these groups are willing to go to whatever lengths are necessary to effect change.

The process of explosive demands for change erupting is difficult to manage once released. The system's essential subsystems may be destabilized--the equivalent of organ failure--and once destabilized, it's often no longer possible to restore the previous stability.

In this environment, the common good falls by the wayside and the system collapses.

In the context I've laid out, Fatal Synergies arise when access to resources, capital and agency are limited by elite hoarding or massive declines in available resources and capital.

Beneficial Synergies arise when whatever resources and capital are available are shared, if not equitably, at least in a process in which every group affected by the distribution has a voice in public decision-making.

Fatal Synergies arise when the identity of each group is based not on shared values and cooperation but on unyielding resistance to competing claims on the nation's wealth and income.

Beneficial Synergies arise when all groups have a voice and a say in the process of distribution, even if it is limited.

Crises reveal the problems the system is incapable of resolving. How we respond to those constraints and weak points is the difference between Fatal Synergies and collapse and Beneficial Synergies that generate successful evolutionary responses to pressing selective pressures: simply put, "adapt or die."

America's financial system and state are themselves the problems, yet neither system is capable of recognizing this or unwinding their fatal synergies.



This essay was first published as a weekly Musings Report sent exclusively to subscribers and patrons at the $5/month ($54/year) and higher level. Thank you, patrons and subscribers, for supporting my work and free website.


If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17, audiobook now available $17.46)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 41: Can't get you out of my head (58 min)

Disconnects between the Economy and the Financial Markets (FRA Roundtable, 41 min)

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Read more...

Saturday, April 17, 2021

If You Don't See Any Risk, Ask Who Will "Buy the Dip" in a Freefall?

Nobody thinks a euphoric rally could ever go bidless, but as Greenspan belatedly admitted, liquidity is not guaranteed.

The current market melt-up is taken as nearly risk-free because the Fed has our back, i.e. the Federal Reserve will intervene long before any market decline does any damage.

It's assumed the Fed or its proxies, i.e. the Plunge Protection Team, will be the buyer in any freefall sell-off: no matter how many punters are selling, the PPT will keep buying with its presumably unlimited billions.

If this looks risk-free, ask who else will be "buying the dip" in a freefall? Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan answered this question in his post-2008 crash essay Never Saw It Coming: Why the Financial Crisis Took Economists By Surprise (Dec. 2013 Foreign Affairs):

"They (financial firms) failed to recognize that market liquidity is largely a function of the degree of investors' risk aversion, the most dominant animal spirit that drives financial markets. But when fear-induced market retrenchment set in, that liquidity disappeared overnight, as buyers pulled back. In fact, in many markets, at the height of the crisis of 2008, bids virtually disappeared."

For the uninitiated, bids are the price offered to buyers of stocks and ETFs and the ask is the price offered to sellers. When bids virtually disappear, this means buyers have vanished: everyone willing to buy on the way down (known as catching the falling knife) has already bought and been crushed with losses, and so there's nobody left (and no trading bots, either) to buy.

When buyers vanish, the market goes bidless, meaning when you enter your "sell" order at a specific price (limit order), there's nobody willing to buy your shares at the current price. The shares remains yours all the way down.

If you decide to just get out at any price and place a market order (sell at whatever the bid is offered), your $100 per share stock might sell for $5 a share. This is known as a flash crash, and astute punters have observed that these are becoming more common.

When markets go bidless, the predictable order flow of low-volume days goes out the window. On a typical low volume day (and all days are low volume recently), the spread between bid and ask is modest in heavily traded issues and sellers can be confident their sell order will execute in a few seconds. In a freefall sell-off, sell orders pile up and the bid plummets to levels that were considered "impossible" in low-volume days.

What Greenspan didn't discuss is the trading bots that do most of the trading have been programmed to be risk averse. In a real sell-off, why catch the falling knife by hitting the bid on the way down? That's a guaranteed way to either lose money or ending up a bagholder.

Humans have a default setting for risk aversion: it's called panic. Once the euphoric comnfidence that the Fed will never allow the market to fall by more than a few percentage points is broken, it's not replaced by rational risk assessment; it's replaced by full-blown just-get-me-out panic.

The Plunge Protection Team works just fine on low-volume days, but it fails when a tsunami of selling washes away the bid. Though few seemed to notice, massive selling volume begets more selling as the bots' risk aversion kicks in.

Ironically, the mass migration of retail punters into the market has introduced a heightened potential for panic selling. The wild swings in Gamestock (GME) earlier in the year were a sneak preview of what can happen as panicked newbies enter market sell orders.

Euphoric punters forget that many of the players are leveraged, meaning that they're using borrowed money (margin debt) to buy more stocks. Should the market drop instead of rebounding, their account will fall below minimum requirements and they will have to add cash or sell stocks. When buy the dip fails, those with margin calls add to the selling.

Other limits can manifest in cryptocurrency trading. When most trades are buys, few notice the fine print on exchange sell orders in crypto wallets and exchanges. Prices may be guaranteed for a limited time (for example, 10 minutes), and there may not be an option for limit orders. If the order doesn't execute before the time limit expires, then the order to sell executes at whatever bid is offered.

There's also no guarantee that your sell order will execute in a timely manner. A reader recently sent me a screenshot of an exchange of a top 100 (by market cap) cryptocurrency for Bitcoin that took almost 2 hours to execute. (The reader passed on using the Lightning Network after reading the disclosures.)

Exchanges may limit the number of coins per exchange. In other words, the implicit assumption that punters can unload their entire position at the current bid may prove unfounded in heavy sell volume days.

The point here is bottlenecks can emerge in heavy sell volume days that traders did not anticipate. The possibility that markets, brokerage platforms and exchanges could break and simply cease to function isn't on anyone's radar, despite various bits of evidence that a breakdown isn't as farfetched as punters currently assume.

Ten minutes is more than enough time for supreme, euphoric confidence to crumble into panic, and trading bots can pull their buy orders in 10 milliseconds.

This is why the big players distribute their shares to overly confident retail punters over many weeks. Big players know there is no way they can dump their entire position without crushing the bid, so they sell in bits and pieces all the way up the euphoric melt-up.

The issue isn't just the price you get when you sell--it's being able to get out of your position at all. A strange phenomenon occurs in freefall sell-offs: the exit door (i.e. the liquidity that allows you to liquidate your entire position at the current bid) suddenly shrinks from a barndoor to a mouse-sized hole in the baseboard.

Nobody thinks a euphoric rally could ever go bidless, but as Greenspan belatedly admitted, liquidity is not guaranteed. In a real tsunami of trading-bot selling, the Plunge Protection Team's card table is no match for the sea of selling.

Risk aversion can go from zero to 200 faster than overconfident punters believe possible.




If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17, audiobook now available $17.46)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 41: Can't get you out of my head (58 min)

Disconnects between the Economy and the Financial Markets (FRA Roundtable, 41 min)

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Mark S. ($5/month), for your monstrously generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Alan S. ($5/month), for your magnificently generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Read more...

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