Tuesday, April 27, 2010
...this is a picture of the tortoise Hot Springs Wizard recently brought to a place of refuge out in the boonies, and free from the human-induced turmoil exemplified by the following post.
Getting back to the "real world," which often seems even stranger than our other-worldly speculations, our friend from Belgium updates us on the dysfunction of the State of Belgium. I thought we had it bad....
by our friend from Belgium
Belgian politics is like an oil and water emulsion which now and again starts to separate out before someone comes along to give it a good stir up. In the same way as a camel is said to be a horse designed by a committee the Belgian political system could only have been designed by such a committee.
First a little bit of history which I will keep simple since I do not know the in depth stuff myself. 150 years ago Belgium did not exist, the land which is now called Belgium was part of The Netherlands or Holland as some called it in earlier times and it bordered on Northern France. French speaking people populated the Ardennes which is the scenic hilly region north of the French border although French influence continued to a lesser extent through Flanders, the flat part, up to the river Schelde. At that time the French speakers were prosperous and elitist but the tables have turned and they are now poor and elitist. Wallonia, the political area of Belgium occupied by French speaking people (or The Ardennes) hangs at the bottom of every European monitoring scale making it an officially depressed area whilst the Dutch speaking part to the north is one of the economic powerhouses of Europe.
In the early 60’s when the Vlaardingen were coming into the ascendency and flexing their muscles, relations between the two groups had deteriorated to the extent that there was civil unrest with attacks and reprisals between opposing factions. There was a solution imposed or reluctantly agreed which was as well thought through as the division of Palestine. This is where the committee really got into action and came up with the best fix which all could agree on but which really suited no one. There was to be a local assembly (parliament) for the Dutch speakers in the north. People who live in defined Vlaanders could vote for a Dutch speaking representative. A similar situation existed in Wallonia for the French speakers. The capital Brussels was officially bilingual, even though 90% of the inhabitants speak French and inhabitants could vote for either a French or Dutch speaking representative. Each group therefore had its own assembly. In addition to this there is an overall umbrella national parliament to coordinate the other three groups. All this for a total population if eleven million people. Now here is where it gets tricky because there are not one but two complicating factors which have been a running sore for fifty years now. Firstly, unlike the USA or the UK, Belgium does not have a first past the post electoral system where the party with the most votes is the one which forms the government. Most countries within Continental Western Europe have a Proportional Representation system whereby the administration is a coalition of parties which can form a majority in the proportion in which citizens voted for them. This is a system designed for mediocrity and shoddy compromises. The party with the highest votes can invite other parties to join it and is the party which generally calls the shots but sometimes the tail can trip up the beast. The trouble with this is that the Prime minister (they call him a “Voorzitter” or Chairman here) and the National Cabinet can and often is made up of people that many of the citizens could not have voted for.
The second and more major problem is that the administrative line which separates Dutch speaking Belgium from French speaking Belgium runs ten to fifteen miles south of the southern limit of (90% French speaking) Brussels so that the Capital is landlocked within the Dutch speaking part. For all these years the French speakers have been demanding an administrative corridor between the capital and their bit. Shared responsibility has been tried where the French speakers ran the local councils directly to the south of Brussels and the Dutch speakers ran the police, fire services and other similar bodies. There are two reasonably sized towns in this area, Halle and Vilvoorde and this is where the crux of the problem lies. Citizens who need access to their representative are fed up, I mean truly fed up trying to deal with an official who refuses to speak with them in their mother tongue. Maybe you have heard the shorthand expression B-H-V (Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde); this is what it is about. When this system clearly wasn’t working the people from the area in question were accorded the same rights as those in Brussels but it didn’t really eliminate the tensions. The French speakers have agreed to abandon the area to the Dutch speakers but they want their quid pro quo in the form of an enlarged Brussels. This amounts to just moving the problem somewhere else since other parts of Vlanders will become Brussels. In order to bring the problem to a head the legislative branch ordained that there could be no future elections until Halle - Vilvoorde was separated from Brussels, in other words they could no longer choose between Dutch OR French speakers to represent them because this was unfair to other areas of Vlaanders and so some Dutch speaking areas would remain as before whilst some parts of the Dutch area would become totally administered by the French speakers. On Friday last, in a political move, the Open VLD (Vlams Liberal Democrats) walked out of the national assembly leaving it without a majority. There have been frantic efforts by three former Prime Ministers over the weekend to find a solution but the only suitable party, the socialists have sat on their hands and today the national government fell. The difficulty is that the King cannot call for a new election because that is illegal until the B-H-V separation is carried out and this apparently is an insoluble problem. You should also be aware that the Dutch speakers make no territorial claims on the soil of the French speaking people.
Apart from the political considerations above there are also economic and social issues. In order to all get along and be one Belgium together, Vlanders gives Wallonia one billion Euros every month, just to stay afloat. The French speakers take the money and in return give the north that Dick Cheney look where it appears everybody in the room has farted at the same time. Surprisingly the largest French political party by far is the socialists. This reminds me of a very old rhyme, you will know how old it is because the UK decimalised its currency in 1972. Before that there were twelve pennies in a shilling.
What is a Socialist?
One who has yearnings
To share equal profits
From unequal earnings
Be an idler or bungler
Or both, he is willing
To fork out his sixpence
And pocket your shilling.
This perceived altruism is too much for some in the north where a xenophobic Nationalist Party has strong roots, particularly in the Antwerp region. This party used to be known as the Vlaams Bloc with a double meaning in the word bloc. In one sense it can be like the former Russian Bloc or it can mean to stand in the way and prevent something. What they were in favour of denying was unlimited entry into Belgium of people from Africa and Turkey. They take the view that jobs can be outsourced without ever leaving the country. In a court case they were judged to be a racial organisation so they changed their name to the Vlaams Belang which means the importance of coming from northern Belgium. They run poster campaigns in Arabic saying Vlaams jobs for Vlaams people and in a heartbeat they would cut Wallonia loose as a separate state.
There are social problems too. Apart from being the capital city, Brussels is also home to the European Parliament and NATO Headquarters. The strain on living accommodation in a defined area is intense and with predictable results people, mostly French speaking people are moving outside the circle and into Halle – Vilvoorde. The Dutch speakers who have always lived there feel they are being populated out. As an example someone went to the baker to find that the shop had been taken over by French only speakers and the shopper didn’t know how to say “Whole wheat bread” in French. Some local authorities in the B-H-V region encourage people who wish to relocate to sell their houses to Dutch speaking families. This recently resulted in a French speaking woman who split up from her husband being refused a house near her children’s school even though she was a Belgian citizen. This resulted in accusations of apartheid being thrown around. In Vlaams schools, pupils from age ten are required to learn French. In Wallonia, pupils can choose between an hour a week English or an hour a week Dutch. Most figure that English will be the most useful to them so they never learn Dutch. When French and Dutch speakers meet they therefore default into French to the chagrin of the northerners. Sometimes they will agree to speak in English but this perceived French laziness gives them the upper hand.
This piece gives you some background to what is going on here but de facto Belgium has no government and it is illegal to hold elections until an insoluble problem is sorted out. These are interesting times – watch and wait.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
... Okay, I'm going out on a limb here...
Wondering what in the hell the overlords are doing has become a preoccupation for many of us. It’s not like we own a lot of stock, but we watch the stock market closely anyway. It’s not like we are ever going to meet anyone who works on Wall St. but, we know their names and are familiar with how they are in orbit between positions in the government, Wall St., K Street, and the Pentagram, err, Pentagon. We speculate endlessly on what they may or may not be doing or have done. Because we know that what they do affects us all in very fundamental ways, and we also know that almost everything they tell us is false.
Often the lack of candor is justified by not wanting to cause us to “panic.” That’s a laugh - as if they care how we feel. They don’t seem to care if we go bankrupt, our children are on food stamps, our soldiers are committing suicide, our jobs are outsourced, our food is contaminated, our retirement and pensions evaporate, and we live in tent cities. In fact, let’s face it, emotional panic is lucrative – it sells mass quantities of anti-depressant drugs, from which Big Pharma is happy to profit mightily.” Their fear of a “panic” really means they are afraid that we’ll STOP GOING TO WORK.” God, forbid. Don’t stop serving their lattes, or servicing their cars, or buying their stuff, or raising their children, or publishing their stories, or kowtowing to them in every way imaginable. Especially, don’t interrupt the money stream into their pockets.
Where, I wonder, is this money going exactly? What is the big motivation to increase the zeros in their cyber accounts? Why has the top one percent sucked up 95% of the wealth of the world, even at the risk of destroying whole nations? “We didn’t see it coming!” they tell us, struggling to keep a straight face. “Bite me,” I delicately respond. Even I could see it coming.
But, sometimes I am wrong. I was worried that there would be a world-wide epidemic that would be spread by the international gathering at the Olympics. Didn’t happen. Millions of people were not wiped out by the flu, natural or engineered. But, hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine were sold. Countries are dumping them now, but Donald Rumsfeld, with his share of Baxter pharmaceutical stocks managed to make millions off the deal. Don’tcha just wonder if it made the nut for his ticket out of here?
One billion Euros per ticket, is what the film 2012 speculates is the price to have a stateroom on one of the arks to save the elites from certain doom when the continents drift and the poles shift. It’s not sounding so far-fetched to me lately.
Why else would the United States be red-lined, practically every country in the world looted, police state policies in place all over the world, civilian control skills and equipment developed and honed, the Constitution ignored, a shadow government instituted, and on and on. It sure looks like they are gearing up for something big that most of us are not going to be happy with.
Maybe there are three tiers of survival plans. The most exclusive club would probably be the black ops space program that supposedly even now has secret space transports in orbit. Or, rumored secret sites on Mars or the moon, which I find less likely. But, shit, I would have never believed any of the crap that we know for sure has happened.
Then, perhaps a little less pricey would be a reservation in an underground facility like the ones rumored to be in Norway, Colorado, and other places. That would probably save a lot of people from a nuclear catastrophe, WWIII, or a plague scenario. A case could be made to depopulate the earth by five billion or so useless eaters and users of the now scarce oil, rare earth metals, top soil and water, after which the privileged would emerge from their caverns and commence business as usual.
Then there would be the boats. Maybe all those ships sitting around not being used for shipping are being retro-fitted with bunk beds and salad bars. Who the hell knows? They might be useful in the event of a 23 degree shift in the rotational axis of the earth.
I sure don’t know. I just know that we can be kept in hopeless ignorance rather easily. After all, I find that despite my best efforts, I have been wrong about so much. I thought Bill Clinton would support the working class. But, then he supported NAFTA and began outsourcing. I guess Americans got distracted by the wrong blow job - shoulda been watching him and Wall Street. I was excited that Joe Lieberman was chosen to be Al Gore’s first Jewish vice president. Now, I don’t even think he qualifies as an American… seems more Israeli to me. And, for that matter, I used to really admire Israel. I remember thinking that our generation would save the planet, get rid of racism and poverty, be better parents, bring peace and prosperity to the masses. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.
So, I am the first to admit that I might be delusional. But, reading the new information on the Electric Universe, studying the histories of ancient peoples and civilizations, learning about the theories of the dynamics of the sun, noticing the telescopes trained on the sun and out toward the middle of the galaxy searching for rogue asteroids or planets, it sure looks like there really is a threat out there that the Powers That Be are taking seriously. Look at how much money has disappeared and how the media has refused to cover it. Remember the 2 trillion dollars in cash that got “lost” in Iraq? Remember the gold bullion that melted in the basement of the Trade Center? Consider the hundreds of trillions of cyber dollars that went “poof” with this derivative melt-down? That money must have gone somewhere. In light of the collapse of the world as we know it, and the caviler attitude toward resource depletion and eco-extinction, it is so far-fetched to think that maybe the elites are Making Other Arrangements? I think not. Just yesterday Pres. Obama announced the dissolution of the space shuttle program, with suspension of current programs in order to concentrate on manned missions to Mars and turning to private contractors for passenger space missions. Hummm….
All I know for sure is that we’ve got no ticket to ride. So, I guess we’ll just keep gardening and making pie… and maybe add some pontoons onto our little boat.
A “must read” explanation of sun spots and cycle of intense flares, etc.
“Not a matter of interpretation…” Latest on carbon dating that shows 11,000 year cyclic change.
Patrick Geryl’s website on surviving 2012 pole shift, etc.
Mystery space craft in orbit around earth.
Times article about new telescope to study threat from the sun.
Very “trippy” story of secret space mission on Mars.
One of many sites with info regarding underground bases. Good pictures on this one. Just Google for many more.
Very strange details of the Denver airport and anomalous constructions – with interesting links.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Hummas and tortillas up to four dollars a pop? Hell, no! Making my own for next to nothing....freeacre
I debated on whether to talk about the economy (in this country and the world) due to the overwhelming amount that is already circulating through the mass media and the internet. Due to what seems to be obvious in data and commentaries, I have been finding it difficult to make sense out of it all because of contradictory claims of authenticity.
The economic crisis that appears to be unfolding right now seems to be divided into two categories; the deflationists and the inflationists. Perhaps more simplified than it deserves, deflation means lowering of prices in real money, (more goods than is in demand) and inflation means rising prices in real money, (the chasing of too few goods with too much money in circulation). No, I am not defending fiat money as being real but only talking about what those dollars will buy.
We have been experiencing at the street level, a combination of the two. The absolute necessities such as food, water, housing (although that area is now in deflation) and fuel have been generally going up in price. Some say this is inflation, others say this is just cost of distribution and production going up due to scarcity. Notice that these items are not included in the cost of living indexes for some reason (which would indicate inflation) and thus the non increase of things like social security payments that are tied to inflation index since excluding them indicates that there is no inflation. We have also been experiencing deflation (lower prices) in imported commodities like electronics machinery and tooling. You can, with careful shopping now, buy a very good computer for less than $400, or a nice thin line HD TV for less than $500. I suppose yachts might fall into this category too, although I have no friends that are thinking of taking advantage of the situation.
One person that I follow carefully is Charles Hugh Smith in dealing with the economy. His book “Survival +” is an excellent primer and if you are not following his blog site, you ought to read his stuff for some different perception and conclusion about the economy. His site is at; http://www.oftwominds.com/blog.html
Charles has provided good evidence that the Fed is unable to print enough money to cause inflation. And, even if they tried, they would have to distribute somewhere in the area of $10 trillion in cash to the bottom economic 90% of the population to have it be effective in creating inflation. Not likely to happen I reckon. The reason that this is not possible is because of the mammoth debt structure (private, commercial and governmental) that we all know about. The fed simply can’t print enough money to cover this, in the realm of multiple tens of trillions of dollars. See his April 2, 2010 article on the subject. A quote from the article:
“But we all know the Fed isn't going to print $10 trillion and give it to U.S. households; it will print trillions and give it away to banks, in a futile attempt to recapitalize insolvent, fraudulent firms which should be forced into bankruptcy. The trillions of "free money" (courtesy of ZIRP, zero interest rate policy) will sit in the banks where it will fund speculations in stocks, bonds, commodities and foreign exchange. A trivial sum will be lent to insolvent consumers with much ballyhoo, and the consequences of deleveraging shoved forward one more election cycle (extend and pretend).”
The inflationists are pointing to the massive amount of money that the printing presses are churning out. Charles points out that with little exception, this is all digital money, not the paper bill we talk about when we refer to the printing presses. And, all of this digital money is being poured into financial institutions to keep them afloat, since it appears from the data I have seen that they are all bankrupt, that is, have more debt than assets due to the implosion of the debt structure, to the tune of hundreds of trillions of dollars total worldwide. In perspective, more than the total world GDP.
The principle problem with the inflation idea is that this country and most of Europe and Asia have become consumerist debt economies, depending on imports and exports to supply the needs of the country. Since, with very few exceptions, the unwinding of all this bad debt structure would take more money that the printing presses could turn out, inflation is impossible. Saw an interesting documentary a couple nights ago on Peru that is following this economic paradigm and has a booming economy, at least for now. But, since it is now obvious that this paradigm is not sustainable, that country will also experience similar economic problems that Europe and the U.S. is experiencing, down the road.
Now, what does this all mean to us as individuals trying to keep things going in our lives? Depending on what analysis you think has the most substance will determine how you deal with it. If you buy into the deflationist concept, then cash will become king, the dollar will not significantly depreciate and you’ll soon be able to buy what you want at vastly reduced prices as the over production of consumer goods tries to unload inventory. That’s also taking for granted that you have a stash of cash to draw on.
If you buy into the inflationist concept, then you need to get whatever cash you have into hard goods now, because the price will only go up, and to put money into inflationary hedges like precious metals.
Do you understand my confusion now? Accumulate hard goods now, or sit on cash and wait for prices to drop even more.
So far, all the supposed money thrown into the financial system has not made a dent in the rest of the economy and there is no real projection I have seen to think it ever will. Banks are not lending and the velocity of money flowing through the economy is not happening, as it was promised it would. Sort of like the Reagan trickle down economics that never really materialized. Instead, capital has simply accumulated at an ever increasing pace into the top 1% of the elites with wages either decreasing or remaining stagnant for the rest of us.
At this site, we have people that have withdrawn from the greater society to the extreme. We also have people that have gone to low population density areas and are promoting community self sufficiency and interdependency. Then we have a population that is trying to stick it out and have a retreat to escape to if things go extreme. Others are already planning to escape to other countries. We have local friends that are planning to do just that, that is, if they have time left to implement it. Due to the new Obama laws just enacted, taking money with you could be a very iffy proposition.
Preparing and attempting to lessen the chaos that will affect us all, for which we all seem to agree is coming, is a real problem. I had an acquaintance just a couple of days ago, tell me that he just bought 1000 rounds of ammo so if things get tough, he could take what I have. I was astounded. Think I would ever even think of trusting this guy on anything? The dude is relatively wealthy and seems to think that he can take or buy anything he wants. I’m sure most of you have had experiences with people with similar attitudes. In my opinion, this is going to be the challenge we all face, how to deal with this on a most personal basis if/when things get really dicey.
It appears to me that there will be no significant changes in how the economy is being managed and exploited. It definitely will not change by working within the system. There simply is not enough popular movement to accomplish this and would have to be by a national uprising, probably revolution. I anticipate that the only significant change is going to come about by a flat out economic collapse and something different in a paradigm comes along that people find helpful in daily living. Of course, I have my own thoughts on what that different paradigm would look like. I can say with some degree of certainty that any paradigm that includes the government being of beneficial nature, especially in dealing with money, will in the long run be another disaster. Putting our faith in the benevolence of government is a vastly misplaced faith in my opinion.
Interesting times we live in.