Friday, July 30, 2021

Why Don't Billionaires Pay the Same High Tax Rates the Rest of Us Pay?

The truth is America has lost its way if commoners pay a rate of 40% but its billionaires pay next to nothing.

As with everything else in polarized America, billionaires proclaiming space tourism is the next big thing for humanity neatly divides opinion into two camps: those who laud the initiative, hard work and innovations of the billionaires as examples of the American Can-Do Dream, and those who wished the billionaire space tourists had taken a one-way flight to a distant orbit of blissful silence.

Setting aside that bitter divide, let's explore another divide: how our two-tier tax system enables billionaires to become billionaires while the rest of us get poorer. Whenever I discuss the taxes of the non-billionaire self-employed, armies of apologists leap to the defense of the status quo with various quibbles: the 0.9% Medicare surcharge only kicks in above $200,000, the cap on Social Security taxes is $142,800, and so on.

Setting aside the quibbles--and recall the tax code with regulatory notes is thousands of pages--let's deal with the real issue, which is that billionaires and their corporations pay a thin slice of taxes as a percentage of total income/gains if they pay any at all, while self-employed and small business pay extraordinarily high tax rates.

To all the quibblers: please add the 15.3% Social Security/Medicare tax rate (self-employed / sole proprietors pay both the employee and employer share of this tax) to the federal tax rate of 24% for income above $85,520. It's 39.3%.

Just how hard would it be to conclude that everyone earning more than $142,000 should pay at least the same rate the rest of us pay? Aren't we demonstrating all those same laudable traits of the billionaires, just on a smaller scale? Why should we pay 40% and the billionaires pay essentially zero?

Gee, do you reckon paying no taxes might help folks become richer? Garsh, nobody ever asked that question before. And do you reckon paying 40% of your income might make you poorer over time? Golly gee, how come the talking heads worshiping the billionaires never ask these questions?

Since Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are the bedrock of America's social safety net, why shouldn't billionaires pay to support these programs? Well, why not? Just how lame do the excuses have to be to be recognized as laughably self-serving?

Here's the trick billionaires use to evade taxes. There are countless ways for the super-wealthy to evade taxes--funnel earnings through an Irish post office box, buy a tax break in Washington DC, slide the money into one of dozens of global tax havens, and so on.

But a simple one is to report no income and live large off borrowed money. As the billions of dollars in capital gains pile up as the billionaire's stock holdings soar (thanks, Federal Reserve, for the free trillions; awful swell of you to give us all that free money), there's no income generated until the billionaire sells some shares. No sale, no income. Just pay yourself $1 a year in salary, borrow against your billions at super-low rates of interest, and voila, you're tax-free while you build your super-yacht, buy your private island, and so on.

Just as a thought experiment, suppose the first $50,000 in earnings for everyone were tax-free, and a 40% tax rate was collected on all income above $1 million, both earned and unearned (capital gains), not when the gains were realized in a sale but at the end of every tax year, whether the shares that rose in value were sold or not.

So Billionaire Space Tourist reaped $10 billion in capital gains from the appreciation of stocks held, then the Billionaire pays 40% of those gains: $4 billion. There is a way to not pay any taxes on capital gains--have your portfolio lose value. No gains, no taxes. And to close all the loopholes, the tax rate is on all assets and income connected in any way, shape or form with the U.S. First they pay the U.S. taxes, then if they want to pay other nations' taxes as well, be my guest. But the 40% is due and payable regardless of any other conditions.

You don't like it, then stop selling any products in the U.S. or holding any assets in the U.S. Why should billionaires get to set up immensely profitable monopolies, quasi-monopolies, cartels and corporations in the U.S. but pay near-zero in taxes? Why should billionaires be free to profit from America's economy but pay nothing to support its citizenry?

What precisely is the logic of reducing taxes on the wealthiest few to near-zero? If there is no logic, then we're left with corruption: America is a moral cesspool.

The truth is America has lost its way if commoners pay a rate of 40% but its billionaires pay next to nothing. Please note Karma and Divine Retribution are not controlled by the billionaire's lackeys and apparatchiks in the Federal Reserve. The pendulum of exploitation has reached its extreme, and the reversal to the opposite extreme is underway.




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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Recent Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Moment Wall Street Has Been Waiting For: Retail Is All In

The ideal bagholder is one who adds more on every downturn (buy the dip) and who refuses to sell (diamond hands), holding on for the inevitable Fed-fueled rally to new highs.

Old hands on Wall Street have been wary of being bearish for one reason, and no, it's not the Federal Reserve: the old hands have been waiting for retail--the individual investor-- to go all-in stocks. After 13 long years, this moment has finally arrived: retail is all in.

If you doubt this, just look at record highs in investor sentiment, margin debt and the Buffett Indicator (see chart below). Current valuations are so extreme that the previous extreme in the 2000 dot-com bubble now looks modest in comparison.

I have my own sure-fire indicators for when retail is all-in. One is my Mom's financial advisor recommends shifting her modest nest-egg out of safe bonds into the go-go stocks that are topping out. Back in late 1999, it was Cisco Systems and the other dot-com leaders, today it's the FANGMAN stocks. Sure enough, my Mom just informed me her advisor recommended moving money from bonds into a FANG-dominated stock fund. Bingo, we have a winner.

Second indicator: average people who have never traded stocks are all-in and supremely confident they can't lose. When 20-year college students are trading based on a "genius" 22-year old friend's advice, retail is all-in. When a worker cleaning a wooden deck pauses to put $100,000 in a company he knows nothing about (yes, true story), retail is all-in.

Much is made of meme stocks, but the real driver of retail going all-in is the complete collapse of risk / moral hazard: the Fed will never let the market go down is not a meme, it is an article of secular faith, supported by 13 long years of ceaseless Fed intervention / stimulus, all in service of elevating the stock market.

Since all evidence supports this secular religion--stocks never go down because the Fed will never let them go down--the trick is to rotate into the next blow-out winner or buy the dip in Big Tech or a meme stock. And since something is always shooting up like a rocket, the way to become a millionaire is to simply buy what's hot and buy the dip.

In this secular religion, nothing else matters, all the old stuff is just a distraction: price-earnings ratios, valuation, cash flow, future earnings--none of that old stuff matters. Technical analysis is also a waste of time: just buy the dip and rotate into what's hot, and the millions just pile up on their own.

Every generation that experiences a speculative mania feels it's unique. This is the pattern that repeats. The confluence of forces driving the mania to unprecedented heights is so obviously unique and uniquely powerful that it is literally crazy not to grab a board and ride the wave to riches.

What the newly minted millionaires don't understand is they're the marks and bagholders. Wall Street has been patiently waiting for retail to go all-in so the pros can sell all the over-valued stocks to the euphoric, trusting retail traders, who will continue to buy the dip and rotate into the next hot meme-stock until their fortunes have dwindled to spare change.

The con requires euphoric confidence that stocks only go up forever, and every retail trader is confident in their ability to ride the wave to riches. We're finally at that summit of euphoric confidence, where faith in the Federal Reserve is literally a religious experience.

Robbing Hoods going public is a scriptwriter's touch. (Forgive me if I got the name wrong, I'm working from memory.) Stocks never go down is absolutely true, take it to the bank, until they do. Every share of stock ends up in somebody's account, and the ideal bagholder is one who adds more on every downturn (buy the dip) and who refuses to sell (diamond hands), holding on for the inevitable Fed-fueled rally to new highs.

That's how accounts are destroyed, and the wreckage isn't just financial. The scars of being a bagholder can last a long time. But Wall Street is patient, and a new crop of bagholders eventually catches Fed Fever, and the transfer of over-valued equities to a new generation of bagholders will play out according to the same script.




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The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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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Sunday, July 25, 2021

America Is a Moral Cesspool, and Student Loans Prove It

If America somehow managed to educate millions of college students without burdening them with $2 trillion in debt in 1993, why is it now "impossible" to do so, even as America's wealth and gross national product (GDP) have both rocketed higher over the past 27 years?

Predators thrive on Americans' short memories. Student loans in their present scale did not exist prior to 1994. According to the Federal Reserve FRED database, the student loan balance was zero in 1993.

From zero in 1993 to $1.728 trillion in 2021: this is the predatory financialization of higher education which has enriched lenders, Wall Street and the Higher Education Cartel. As I've noted before, such parasitic rapaciousness would have been criminal a few generations ago; now it's cheered as a reliable source of profits by Wall Street and treated as business as usual by the corporate-owned media.

If America somehow managed to educate millions of college students without burdening them with $2 trillion in debt in 1993, why is it now "impossible" to do so, even as America's wealth and gross national product (GDP) have both rocketed higher over the past 27 years?

America is now a moral cesspool, and student loans prove it. Note that the $1.728 trillion isn't the entire load of debt crushing students; that's only the securitized student loans. Wily sharpsters have found all sorts of private-debt niches which they sell as "student loans" but which are actually consumer loans. Then there's the credit card debt from card issuers giving students "student-only cards." Add it all up and the total likely exceeds $2 trillion.

Monopolies, cartels, profiteers and insiders always have a raft of excuses and justifications for their exploitation of the powerless, and all those profiting from the $2 trillion have the usual excuses plus a novel set of noble-sounding academic rationalizations.

Journalist Matt Taibbi lays waste to one slice of the student loan racket in The Trillion-Dollar Lie (courtesy of correspondent Joel W.), the legal foundation of the entire parasitic swindle: "students can't escape student loans in bankruptcy court." But suppose the legal edifice were to recognize that universities are not "non-profits" but are instead a racketeering cartel?

While crying poor, universities have pursued a construction boom of trophy buildings without precedent and piled up slush funds with hundreds of millions of dollars extracted from student debt-serfs. If this doesn't make your blood boil, then you must be swimming laps in America's moral cesspool, praising the putrid stench as "the smell of money."

It doesn't have to be this way. Way back in 2012 I laid out a way to offer 4-year university degrees for 10% of the current cost (minus living expenses, which accrue whether you're a student or not) in my book The Nearly Free University. There are models which would produce better educational results at a fraction of the current bloated cost.

To all those swimming laps in America's moral cesspool, a few words of warning:

1. America has run out of powerless people who can be exploited and turned into debt-serfs.

2. The pendulum of exploitation, racketeering and greed that's been pushed to near-infinity is about to swing to the other extreme. The banquet of consequences will soon be served, and the doors to the banquet hall will be locked. The courses in karma and Divine Retribution will be especially enlightening.




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 Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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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Friday, July 23, 2021

America Has Lost the Trade War with China, and the Real Pain Has Yet to Begin

Corporate America sacrificed national interests in service of greed, and so did the U.S. government.

As we all know, the source of Corporate America's unprecedented explosion in profits in the 21st century is the offshoring of manufacturing to China. If you doubt this, please study the chart below of corporate profits. Apologists claim many excuses in an attempt to evade the central role of offshoring production to China, but they all ring hollow: no, it wasn't increasing productivity or automation or Federal Reserve magic, it was shipping production to China and other low-labor-cost nations.

Whether we like to admit it or not--mostly not--the American economy is entirely dependent on manufacturing in China. America's short-sighted obsession with increasing profits to fund buybacks and golden parachutes for corporate insiders and vast fortunes for financiers has led to a dangerous dependency that has handed China tremendous leverage, which China is now starting to make use of. (And why not? Wouldn't the U.S. start using the same leverage if it could?)

A long-time U.S. correspondent who prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons recently shared his experiences with parts shortages and price increases from previously reliable suppliers in China. Here is his account of the disruptive shift in the supply chain of essential parts from China to the U.S.

China is laying siege to the USA by slowing down production and delivery of goods. It doesn't take much to hang up US production, just one missing item can do it. So much stuff is sourced through China they can affect all supply chains. Semiconductors are just the canary--because the chains are so long and complex, and specialized materials are required, etc. But it is happening everywhere.

I have a little manufacturing company and I am seeing this in supply lines. I sent an order to China for printed circuit boards (US prices are astronomical because of various factors). They don't get back for a week, then they quote, then I send money, then they sit on it, then I call and they say they are having problems with some process... etc. But all the suppliers are like this, it is not an isolated incident. They are sandbagging.

So just as in laying siege, the attackers have the food outside the castle and wait for the people inside to starve.

As prices rise the Chinese manufacturers take bigger profits so the slowdown effects on that end are mitigated. For products they do not have a monopoly on, like PC boards, they slow down. for things like LCD displays and NFeB magnets, the items become unavailable (try buying magnets on Amazon).

I have to say this is a brilliant idea on China's part, and no one on this side has realized the situation yet. This plan is straight out of Sun-Tzu. implications? inflation and shortages will continue for a long time... maybe forever. The only long-term solution is repatriation of manufacturing to the US. But it is going to cause some serious hurt, vastly more than the sanctioning of Chinese tech companies.

i just sent a request for quote for some radio chips I use to Alibaba. they are $1 each and there are many vendors. I sent notes to 2 vendors i used before and after 4 or 5 days got a ping back that my requests were cancelled. i wound up getting the parts--for 2x the price-- from Hong Kong, which at the moment seems to be something of a channel to the mainland. But I expect they will close that leak pretty soon.


I have long made the case that manufacturing, energy and food are all fundamentally national security issues. Those benefiting from "free trade" (there is no such thing, that's just a handy PR cover) have sold the unwary the fraudulent notion that "everyone benefits" from globalization. Nothing could be further from reality. A handful of corporate insiders and financiers have benefited at the expense of everyone else.

And now the chickens are coming home to roost. Essential parts and feedstocks become unavailable for all sorts of flimsy excuses, prices double, triple, then double again, and since we've allowed our entire economy to become dependent on a handful of sources for these essentials because that dependency maximized profits, then there are no alternatives.

America has already lost the trade war, but the pain has yet to begin. Corporate America sacrificed national interests in service of greed, and so did the U.S. government. Now it's too late, and all the good seats at the banquet of consequences have already been taken.






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 Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Have We Reached "Peak Self-Glorifying Billionaire"?

Perhaps we should update Marie Antoinette's famous quip of cluelessness to: "Let them eat space tourism."

As billionaires squander immense resources on self-glorifying space flights, the corporate media is nothing short of worshipful. Millions of average citizens, on the other hand, wish the self-glorifying billionaires had taken themselves and all the other parasitic, tax-avoiding, predatory billionaires with them on a one-way trip into space.

Have we reached Peak Self-Glorifying Billionaire? If so, where does the downhill slide take us? Let's start with a bit of history. Correspondent Jim B. summarized historian Arnold Toynbee's study of the rise and fall of civilizations thusly: "Civilizations fail when their elites change from an admired dynamic creative class to a despised Establishment of corrupt rentiers, an entrenched governing class unfit to govern."

Despised, check. Corrupt, check. Entrenched, check.

The 2013 book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty discusses the differences between failed states and successful states, and concludes that the failed states are fundamentally kleptocracies that answer to a self-serving elite while successful states are answerable to the broad populace.

To summarize: When the few benefit at the expense of the many, the resulting kleptocracy ends up a failed state. When states maintain meaningful, transparent ways of responding to public needs and demands, the result is a successful state.

This is of course a simplification. The perverse effects of colonialism linger, the development of civic organizations public institutions, values and identities that make up what I call the social ontology are not pre-ordained, and nations with low-cost surplus energy can be quite successful kleptocracies until their energy surplus runs out.

But in the main, the question remains: How did previously successful political, social and economic systems change such that they no longer generated beneficial synergies but slid into fatal synergies?

From the point of view of how systems fail to maintain dynamic stability, three factors pop out:

1. Elites become too successful in sluicing the nation's income, wealth and political power into their own hands.

2. Since the system continues to thrive despite their dominance, then there is obviously no need to change anything--especially if it reduces their share of the nation's wealth and political power.

3. The elites ignore the intangible decay of leadership, the real-world dynamics of scarcity and over-estimate their own capabilities and the resilience of the system.

I recently described the feedback loop that occurs when a wealthy elite can purchase political power: "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."

In a healthy system, there are mechanisms that limit elite ownership of wealth and political power to what the system can bear. Over time, the feedback I described increases elite wealth and power to a point where the limits are crushed and the elite feedback gathers momentum.

With institutional limits no longer in the way, the elite reaches the point where the political system no longer responds to the broad public at all, and the vast majority of income-producing wealth is already in the hands of the elite.

The U.S. is already at this final stage: Wealth/Power Inequality and the Slide Into Disorder.

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

This dominance throws the system out of balance such that, as David Parsons recently put it: (Elite-dominated) "Capitalism makes everyone homeless and then makes award-winning movies about how resilient people are for living in their cars."

The apparent success of the system even as it grows ever more imbalanced generates a self-serving confidence in the Elites that their dominance is not only benign but permanent.

But this self-serving view is illusory. Beneath the surface, major subsystems are attempting to re-establish stability, but the instability is so extreme that the measures being deployed are also extreme.

These policy extremes only push the system further out of balance in other directions, creating fatal synergies as mutually reinforcing imbalances pile up.

See the chart below of money supply as one example of many.

But the elite is blinded by their confidence and greed to these accelerating imbalances. They reckon that managing the narratives (a.k.a. propaganda), minor policy tweaks and creating more currency and credit are all that's needed to maintain what they consider the optimal form of stability: they own 99% of political power and 97% of all the income from capital.

Monopoly Versus Democracy: How to End a Gilded Age: "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."

I've often noted that the wealth of Rome's political and economic elite went from being 20 times the wealth of a landowning farmer or craftsman to 200,000 times the commoners' wealth at the end of the Western Empire. Now that three individuals own more wealth than half the American populace, and the top 0.1% hold more wealth than the bottom 80%, I think we can safely declare we've reached the same extreme.

The first tranche of American presidents left office less wealthy than when they entered because serving in public office was understood as a noble and valued sacrifice of time and wealth. Now presidents leave office far wealthier than when they entered public service.

Per #3, the elite no longer sees any compelling reason to sacrifice their income, wealth and power to stabilize the system or benefit the common good. In the view of the billionaires, if any sacrifices are necessary, then they should be borne by the bottom 95%, or failing that, the bottom 99.5%.

Given their dominance, their willingness to use their wealth and power to protect their dominance dooms the system to destabilization and collapse, as the resources and value system required to successfully navigate eras of instability and scarcity are no longer available to the state or public.

In effect, the elite uses its power not to restabilize the system but to maintain its extreme dominance and protect it from any political threats.

A once vibrant ecosystem has become a monoculture whose stability is far more precarious than it appears on the surface, as the resilience of monocultures is entirely artificial.

Two recent books illuminate corners of this destabilizing inequality:

Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West

‘Jackpot’ Looks at How Inequality Is Experienced by the Very, Very Rich

We are in the final stages of this accelerating destabilization: the refusal of the elite to sacrifice any meaningful share of their wealth and power to save the system from fatal synergies guarantees collapse.

Perhaps we should update Marie Antoinette's famous quip of cluelessness to: "Let them eat space tourism." We all know where this cluelessness ultimately leads.








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 Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Big Tech: "Our Terms Have Changed"

So go ahead and say whatever you want around all your networked devices, but don't be surprised if bad things start happening.

I received another "Our Terms Have Changed" email from a Big Tech quasi-monopoly, and for a change I actually read this one. It was a revelation on multiple fronts. I'm reprinting it here for your reading pleasure:

We wanted to let you know that we recently updated our Conditions of Use.

What hasn't changed:

Your use constitutes your agreement to our Conditions of Use.

We own all the content you create on our platform, devices and networks, and are free to monetize it by any means we choose.

We own all the data we collect on you, your devices, purchases, social networks, views, associations, beliefs and illicit viewing, your location data, who you are in proximity to, and whatever data the networked devices in your home, vehicles and workplaces collect.

We have the unrestricted right to ban you and all your content, shadow-ban you and all your content, i.e., generate the illusion that your content is freely, publicly available, and erase your digital presence entirely such that you cease to exist except as a corporeal body.

What has changed:

If we detect you have positive views on anti-trust enforcement, we may report you as a "person of interest / potential domestic extremist" to the National Security Agency and other federal agencies.

Rather than respond to all disputes algorithmically, we have established a Star Chamber of our most biased, fanatical employees to adjudicate customer/user disputes in which the customer/user refuses to accept the algorithmic mediation.

If a customer/user attempts to contact any enforcement agency regarding our algorithmic mediation or Star Chamber adjudication, we reserve the unrestricted rights to:

a. Prepare voodoo dolls representing the user and stick pins into the doll while chanting curses.

b. Hack the targeted user's accounts and blame it on Russian or Ukrainian hackers.

c. Rendition the user to a corrupt kleptocracy in which we retain undue influence, i.e., the United States.


Left unsaid, of course, is the potential for "accidents" to happen to anyone publicly promoting anti-trust enforcement of Big Tech quasi-monopolies. Once totalitarianism has been privatized, there are no rules that can't be ignored or broken by those behind the curtain. So go ahead and say whatever you want around all your networked devices, but don't be surprised if bad things start happening.

Editor's note: this is satire. If I disappear, then you'll know who has no sense of irony or humor.




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 Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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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Sunday, July 18, 2021

How Breakdown Cascades Into Collapse

Maintaining the illusion of confidence, permanence and stability serves the interests of those benefiting from the bubbles and those who prefer the safety of the herd, even as the herd thunders toward the precipice.

The misconception that collapse is an all or nothing phenomenon is common: Either the system rights itself with a bit of money-printing and rah-rah or it collapses into post-industrial ruin and gangs are battling over the last stash of canned beans.

Neither scenario considers the fragility and resilience of the socio-economic system as a whole. It is both far more fragile than the believers in the permanence of the waste is growth model grasp and more resilient than the complete collapse prognosticators grasp.

The recent relatively mild logjams in global supply chains of essentials are mere glimpses of precariously fragile delivery-supply systems. These can be understood as bottlenecks that only insiders see, or as unstable nodes through which all the economy's connections run. Put another way, the economy's as a network appears decentralized and robust, but this illusion vanishes when we consider how the entire economy rests on a few unstable nodes.

One such node is the delivery of gasoline and fuels. It's such an efficient and reliable system that 99.9% of us take it for granted: there will always be plenty of gasoline at every station, the tanks of jet fuel will always be topped off, and so on.

The 0.1% know that this system, once disrupted, would knock over dominoes all through the economy.

Hyper-efficiency and hyper-globalization has reduced the number of producers of essentials to the point that disruptions cannot be overcome with redundant sources. We see this everywhere in the global economy: a handful of plants and companies (sometimes a single source of essential components) process or manufacture essential components in much larger systems.

This is how you end up with thousands of newly manufactured vehicles parked in lots awaiting one critical part that is in short supply.

Another key weakness is the entire system's reliance on debt, leverage and speculation. Few seem to understand that physical production and delivery systems can grind to a halt for financial reasons--for example, lines of credit being pulled, a counterparty to some arcane commodity swap goes under, taking the presumably solvent corporation down with it, and so on.

The more debt that's been piled up, the greater the instability of the entire system. Risk always appears low until the system destabilizes, and then all the hedges fail and risk breaks out, flooding through the entire financial system.

Leverage is great fun on the way up, as it magnifies gains. Since the Federal Reserve implicitly guarantees that "buy the dip" will generate massive gains, why not ramp up leverage ten-fold to maximize those Fed-guaranteed gains?

Leverage is less fun on the way down. When the underlying collateral has shrunk to 20% of the leveraged bets being made, a 21% decline in the asset wipes out all the collateral holding up the palace of leveraged debt.

The Fed can print money but it can't create collateral, nor can it make insolvent entities solvent. All the Fed can do is increase the debt and leverage, which is not the solution, it's the problem.

Speculation is also inherently unstable, as the euphoric herd, once startled, turns in panic and stampeded in fear. Markets which appeared liquid--i.e., sellers could count on someone buying as many millions of shares as they desired to sell--become illiquid, as buyers vanish like mist in Death Valley. With buyers gone, prices plummet to levels the herd reckoned "impossible" just days before.

The Fed's entire strategy in the 21st century has been to inflate asset bubbles that generate the illusion of wealth--the so-called wealth effect which is presumed to inspire voracious borrowing and spending.

Unfortunately for the Fed, most of the gains flowed to the top 0.1%, and an economy based on a handful of billionaires buying super-yachts and spaceships is a line of dominoes awaiting the inevitable "accident." So there are two systemic problems with relying on asset bubbles to generate "wealth": 1) since 90% of the assets are owned by a thin slice of the populace, bubbles increase destabilizing inequality, and 2) bubbles are intrinsically unstable. So the U.S. economy, dependent on the Fed for the "juice" of monetary stimulus, is now dependent on incredibly unstable bubbles in assets, debt and leverage, bubbles which have generated extremes of wealth/income inequality that are destabilizing the social and political orders.

As the three charts below illustrate, the fragility and instability are well hidden until it's too late: bubbles, debt, leverage, budgets and revenues can only click higher because the system breaks down if there is any sustained decline (the rising wedge model of breakdown). Once the subsystems fail, there's no putting the eggshell back together.

The second chart depicts how buffers thin beneath the surface, masking the systemic fragility. The loss of redundancy, the decay of maintenance, the loss of experienced workers--all of these are hidden from public view until the system breaks down.

The third chart tracks the S-curve of expansion, confidence, complacency, delusion and collapse followed by human systems, from nations to empires to corporations: as the buffers thin and the rising wedge reaches an apex of vulnerability, the leadership evinces a delusional confidence in the permanence and stability of increasingly fragile, unstable systems.

Maintaining the illusion of confidence, permanence and stability serves the interests of those benefiting from the bubbles and those who prefer the safety of the herd, even as the herd thunders toward the precipice.

This is how breakdowns in apparently stable subsystems triggers the fall of dominoes throughout the larger system, leading to a collapse that was widely viewed as "impossible." Such is the power of complacency and delusion.








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 Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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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Friday, July 16, 2021

Welcome to the 21st Century Sequel of the Catastrophic 1600s

As the chart below on 'how systems collapse' illustrates, the loss of stabilizing buffers goes unnoticed until the entire structure collapses under its own weight.

Disruptive extremes of weather: check

Rising geopolitical tensions
with no diplomatic resolution: check

Multiplying scarcities in essential commodities: check

Domestic disorder accelerates as extreme positions harden into irreconcilable conflicts: check

Welcome to the 21st century sequel of the catastrophic 1600s, an extended period of mutually reinforcing crises that overturned regimes and empires from England to China and triggered unremitting misery across much of the human populace. (Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century is a riveting overview of this complex era.)

What can we learn from the catastrophic 1600s? Leading the list: humans don't respond well to scarcities. They get crotchety, argumentative, and prone to finding ways to become disagreeable rather than agreeable. Their derangement deepens as they form self-reinforcing echo-chambers of the like-minded, and the source of their misfortune shifts from fate to equally fixated human opponents.

Three extended quotes come to mind: the first bitter satirical rant from Mark Twain, the second from Patrick Henry and the third from James Madison:

Mark Twain: "O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

Patrick Henry:"But we are told that we need not fear; because those in power, being our representatives, will not abuse the powers we put in their hands. I am not well versed in history, but I will submit to your recollection, whether liberty has been destroyed most often by the licentiousness of the people, or by the tyranny of rulers.

I imagine, sir, you will find the balance on the side of tyranny. Happy will you be if you miss the fate of those nations, who, omitting to resist their oppressors, or negligently suffering their liberty to be wrested from them, have groaned under intolerable despotism!

Most of the human race are now in this deplorable condition; and those nations who have gone in search of grandeur, power, and splendor, have also fallen a sacrifice, and been the victims of their own folly. While they acquired those visionary blessings, they lost their freedom."

James Madison: "Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people... (There is also an) inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and... degeneracy of manners and of morals.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."


Apt descriptions of 1641 and 2021? Check, check and check. War and conflict appear to be the solution once people are in the grip of this crisis-hardened derangement, and they discover their folly after their misery has increased 100-fold.

So where does all this lead? Nowhere good. Concentrated wealth and power breed hubris and open the door to catastrophic consequences flowing from the addled decisions of the few at the top.

Voices of calm reason are shouted down and excoriated, and compromise becomes impossible. Those seeking to maintain their exploitive grip on wealth and power whip up intensities of derangement to further their own self-interest, always under the banner of some noble cause.

In the confusion of decay and failure, the herd seeks a simplistic explanation and solution. Those seeking to maximize their private gain are keen to provide the easy answer, which just so happens to maximize their private gain at the expense of the herd.

In self-organizing emergent systems, every individual is making decisions based their perceived self-interests. This seems to be a stable arrangement, but the line between stability and instability thins in eras of scarcity and crisis, and trends that seemed linear and predictable suddenly shift into non-linear dynamics, in which seemingly small actions trigger enormously consequential reversals of trend. Stability wobbles and then dissipates, and those experiencing the loss of stability slowly come to realize there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle.

As the chart below on how systems collapse illustrates, the loss of stabilizing buffers goes unnoticed until the entire structure collapses under its own weight of artifice, debt, fraud, obfuscation, greed, inequality and incompetence.

Two short quotes come to mind:

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." (Marcus Aurelius)

"I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." (Harry S. Truman)







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 Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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, Bob C. ($108), for your outrageously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Here's Why America's Labor-Shortage Will Drive Inflation Higher

Great swaths of the American workforce are already on strike or slipping away from the dead-end treadmill.

America's labor shortage is complex and doesn't lend itself to the simplistic expectations favored by media talking heads. The Wall Street cheerleaders extol the virtues of "getting America back to work" which is Wall-Street-speak for getting back to exploiting workers to maximize corporate profits.

Long-term demographics have combined with cultural changes and Covid-Lockdown epiphanies to completely re-order America's labor force beneath the superficial surface of "re-opening." No one post can do justice to such a complex topic, so I'll touch on a few of the many inter-connected (and often mutually reinforcing) dynamics.

1. Boomers are leaving the workforce in droves. The statistics are incomplete but we know that a larger percentage of Boomers have been working longer than previous generations. A Pew Research 2018 study documents this: Baby Boomers are staying in the labor force at rates not seen in generations for people their age.

Now Boomers are leaving the workforce. Some are retiring, i.e. qualifying for pensions and/or Social Security benefits, while many others who have been drawing retirement benefits while they continued working are quitting the workforce. A November 2020 report discusses this reversal:

The pace of Boomer retirements has accelerated in the past year: (pewresearch.org)
This is 3.2 million more Boomers than the 25.4 million who were retired in the same quarter of 2019.

According to the Social Security Administration, around 3.2 million workers signed on for their Social Security retirement benefits in 2019, and around 2.7 million more people qualified for disability benefits or as dependents of retirees or disabled workers. Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2020

That may not seem like a lot of people out of a workforce of around 160 million. But recall that millions of Boomers have been working into their 60s and 70s. The number of those workers who have retired for good is unknown, but anecdotally, it is consequential.

(Social Security reports 178 million people had some income that qualified for Social Security, but around 20 million of these incomes are extremely low: eBay sellers, occasional gig workers, etc. earning a few hundred or few thousand dollars a year. The primary workforce is around 160 million people.)

Why have they left? They're fed up with their line of work, they don't like the way their industry has transmogrified, they're burned out from being "sandwiched" between caring for very elderly parents (80 and older) and supporting their children or grandchildren, and they're tired of working after 50+ years. (I myself have logged 51 years of employment.)

2. There aren't enough skilled replacements for experienced hands-on workers who have left the workforce. Here's what the superficial analyses miss: what matters isn't the total number of people seeking jobs or the job openings--what matters is how many people are able to replace skilled workers who have left the workforce and are willing to work for the wages being offered.

In other words, there may be 10 million people available for work but if few have the requisite skills and experience, then 1.5 million openings for welders, pipefitters, crane operators, etc. will go begging, and a bidding war will jack up wages for the scarce qualified workers.

Culturally, the push to make every young worker a college graduate has left the nation shorthanded in skilled hands-on tradecraft workers of the sort that actually keep the nation running. If everyone wants to be a celebrity chef, social media influencer, software guru, YouTube star, environmental studies major, RobinHood millionaire speculator, etc., then it's no surprise that there are insufficient experienced replacement workers for the nation's aging workforce of skilled trade workers and technicians that keep the power lines, refineries, chemical plants, water treatment facilities, electrical grid, plumbing, etc., functioning-- to name just a few of the hundreds of skilled crafts that are losing much of their aging workforce to retirement.

There are no 100-day wonders in these fields. It takes years of training and experience to master these trades.

3. The pandemic lockdown provided tens of millions of workers with an epiphany about their lives, careers, values and aspirations. This reckoning has overturned many of the assumptions being made about the Gen-X and Millennial workforce.

Recall that the economy is a self-organizing, emergent system of millions of individual assessments and decisions. On a larger scale, what we see is unprecedented turnover as over 4 million workers are quitting their jobs every month. The reasons are varied--burnout from insane workloads, rage-quitting over intolerable working conditions, absurd demands from Corporate HQ and having had enough of being cussed out by customers, and seeking better opportunities elsewhere--but the bottom line is work in America is undergoing a revolution few want to recognize because it's changing the terms of the exploitation the status quo holds so dear.

What YOLO (you only live once) and FIRE (financial independence, retire early) are telling us is that work is often misery in America. The FIRE proponents are saying we don't want to slave away our entire lives to pay debt, enrich billionaires cavorting in self-glorification and over-consume in a waste-is-growth wasteland.

By setting the goal of exiting the workforce at 35, they're saying they don't want to work 30 additional years for nothing of any real value.

YOLO (you only live once) has many manifestations, but it boils down to "there has to be a better way to live than this." This includes avenues from trying to amass a fortune in daytrading to cobbling together side hustles to building a micro-house and getting by on a fraction of middle-class expenses to starting an enterprise on one's own terms.

Keeping YOLO and FIRE inspired workers on the dead-end treadmill of stagnant wages is not going to work. To entice these escapees back to the grinding wheel is going to take much higher pay and levels of employee empowerment Corporate America hasn't the foggiest idea about.

4. America is profoundly unhealthy, diminishing the workforce in ways few dare to consider. Fully 10% of the workforce is on permanent disability. Some are free-riders, of course, but most have real health issues.

Unfit for Work: The startling rise of disability in America (NPR)

America's health problems extend from mass addiction to drugs, porn and social media to the physical decay of poor diets and low levels of fitness. To ignore the impact of chronic poor health on the workforce is to cling to an absurdly high level of denial.

Bottom line: the workforce is shrinking as poor health sweeps millions into disability or low levels of participation in the economy. Employers will have to raise wages to attract healthy, productive workers.

5. America's economy and society no longer have roles for millions of average workers. In past generations, there were undemanding we just need a warm body jobs for people who for whatever reason were not up to being the super-productive, super-motivated worker of Corporate America's dreams.

There are few undemanding jobs left in America. Every job is demanding, regardless of pay. Fast-food, hospitality, janitorial, agricultural work--all are highly demanding. Many people simply don't have what it takes to work under unrelenting pressure for 8+ hours a day. Many others are unfit for physically demanding work.

The fantasy is that all workers are clay that can be shaped into the ideal worker with sufficient training and motivational rah-rah. The reality is America's family structure has failed in many cases, its educational system has failed in many cases, its War on Drugs Gulag has failed, its so-called safety net has failed in many cases, and as a result a great many people are incapable of demanding work of the kind every employer now needs.

6. The pendulum of exploitation and wealth/income inequality has reached an extreme that is now reversing. As noted yesterday, when you push the pendulum to an extreme of inequality, it will swing to the opposite extreme minus a tiny bit of friction.

This will lead to types of labor disorder that are currently unthinkable for the mainstream punditry, for example, wildcat strikes at fulfillment centers and Big-Box outlets and the enraged trashing of symbols of Corporate/Financier/Wall Street excess.

Add all this up and the conclusion is revolutionary: great swaths of the American workforce are already on strike or slipping away from the dead-end treadmill. The terms of employment will have to change dramatically, and that will drive inflation higher--or savage corporate profits--take your pick. Few see this now but they'll be forced to recognize it soon enough. If you doubt this, check back in 2025.








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 Videos/Podcasts:

AoE Salon #44: We say "Satyagraha", they say "sedition" with author Max Borders (1:03 hrs)

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, Ron G. ($50), for your magnificently generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

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