Saturday, May 24, 2014

Enemy of the people: macroeconomists

Bob Wallace noticed this gem and passes it on:
The Constitution forbids paper money ("Bills of Credit") and making anything but gold and silver money. The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing. They had history before them, and they paid attention to its lessons.
When paper is made money, it can be printed up by the billions (these days, a lot of that "money" is just numbers in a computer). The rich get the paper first and use it to buy up everything. It's one of the reasons the Washington DC/New York area has 50% of the wealth in the U.S.

This article is from Of Two Minds and was written by Charles Hugh Smith.
"Almost everyone understands what it means to be a tax slave. It means that people must work several months of the year for the benefit of the taxing authorities. Taxes in the U.S. today are several times higher than they were 100 years ago, and at present-day tax levels, today’s Americans are rightly called tax slaves.

"What it means to be a debt slave is also easy to understand. It means that one must spend a large fraction of one’s time to earn money to pay creditors. Millions of Americans today are mired deeply in debt, but today’s America is also a country where if you personally stay out of debt, the government will go into debt for you.

"Each American taxpayer is on the hook for his or her share of over $17 trillion in debt that government admits to; the real debt total is much higher.

"Government leaders are eagerly plunging us ever deeper into debt each year.

"Most Americans also have personal experience of being a wage slave. It means that a person has no way to make a living except by selling his labor into a glutted market. Thomas Jefferson hoped that most Americans could own their own farms and thereby profit from capital improvements that they made through their own efforts. Such Americans could be their own bosses and escape wage slavery. But today we live in an age of huge factory farms, and it is more difficult than ever to establish or run any small business. Thus wage slavery is the norm for Americans today.

"But few people understand what it means to be a fiat slave. Being a fiat slave means that one lives in a country where the machinery of money printing is used to maximize wealth extraction from its citizens.

The academic discipline devoted to national fiscal and monetary policy is, of course, macroeconomics. Microeconomics is kind of dull and axiomatic, after all: production precedes consumption; capital must come from excess production in the form of savings; markets clear via the supply/demand curve. I mean, come on. Preach, preach, preach.

"Macro" by contrast is bold, visionary, social engineering stuff. Macroeconomists plot huge aggregates of GDP and money flows. Then they build mathematical models to "boost demand" or incentivize debt over equity or vice-versa. They promote these models to State bureaucrats who believe they are indispensable to the universe, and the financial sector which profits immensely from artificially cheap credit. In other words, macroeconomists tell the wealthy and powerful how they can stay wealthy and powerful.

You do not need to know advanced mathematics (I don't) to know macroeconomists are full of shit. All you need to realize is that the market is not an equation; it is a computer constantly being fed new information. That's why there are always random events catching the macroeconomists flatfooted: Russia or Venezuela decide not to make their bond payments; houses don't appreciate forever, sometimes not at all; Argentina decides to revalue their peso.

Macroeconomists are every bit as evil as the Bolsheviks who just seize property outright. Because as the excerpt notes, the macroeconomists, like the Bolsheviks, think they know better than you how to run your own life. If you're prudent and avoid debt, they'll tell the government to go in debt for you. If you have low time-preference and save your money, they'll devalue your savings by inflation and manipulate the interest rate, so that "a penny saved" is no longer "a penny earned." If you're a tradesman with a solid skillset, they'll import labor to devalue it because they need to mitigate inflationary effects. Sucks for you, because now the market value and living standard for which you bargained is being taken away. HTFU, chump. Don't like strip malls and apartment complexes gobbling up your city? Too bad. Aggregate demand needs a shot in the arm and retired city workers need more mules on the tax farm.

Fiat money is a Ponzi scheme; always has been, always will be. The fiat money always returns to its instrinsic value, which is paper, or electronic decimal places. The reason this happens is the false savings distorts the structure of production, so capital flows to things like colleges and McMansions. When it turns out $50,000 college degrees and $300,000 McMansions miles from major economic centers aren't worth nearly that much, the macroeconomists at the Fed will print money and buy up student loans and McMansion mortgages on the secondary market so that it seems like they still are.

The "macroeconomy" is at odds with the real, microeconomy. Eventually the real economy asserts itself. That's what was not allowed to happen in 2008. It's still working so far, because the US is hoovering up capital and labor from all over the world. The global structure of production is being horribly distorted.

It can't go on, because if you could print money and buy your own debt with it, the Sun King, the Ottoman Empire, Weimar Germany would all still be around.

Like Uncle Bob notes, there is no solution other than to let the increasing scale play itself out. We're a mostly free country with a lot of entrepreneurial people, so the macroeconomists haven't been able to wreck things completely yet.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Ta-Nehisi Coates wants his 40 acres and a mule.

I've got a better idea: $25K/yr for every American adult citizen. And you buy your own welfare with it.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Don't hug women.

This caught my eye, because I realized I don't hug women.

Women get a handshake, or a kiss. Old, young, family, friend.

Of course, running up to women you just saw last week and kissing them will ramp up the creep vibe in short order, so a friendly nod and wave will do.

Hugs are for socially awkward losers. It is appropriate to let women hug you.

My daughter's boyfriend seems to have this instinctive aloofness--the lad shows promise. But he needs to work on his interactions with men.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Church Juvenile

Bumbling American comments:
From the Catholic side of things: The sense I get from the pulpit and the Vatican is that Euro/American Catholics are being preached *at*, while the Global South is being preached *to*. We (the Euro/Americans) must welcome, we most accommodate, we must change to meet the new realities, etc. Whereas the Global Southerners are, by implication, sacralized as the transmitters of those new realities. There's no call for reciprocal respect or understanding, let alone forbearance about moving to somebody else's homeland and disrupting it in a dozen ways. We're all one big happy ecclesiastical family, but some of the drunken cousins get more slack than everybody else.

From the Orthodox side, here is my perspective:

For two centuries, the Orthodox Church in America viewed herself as a diaspora Church, even though no such thing has ever existed in Church history. Now that the prior waves of immigration have dried up and subsequent generations have outmarried, all the aging Greeks, Slavs and Middle Easterners suddenly realize they cannot pay the bills by continuing to be diaspora parishes. Even the Greek Cathedral in my hometown puts up a "Come and see!" banner at its annual festival. Hilariously, after two centuries in this country the Greek Archdiocese has decided to evangelize ... Hispanics. If you dig around a bit, you can also find the nascent Mayan Orthodoxy, which proudly proclaims, "The story of a native Church." When Heimbach and his pals agitate for the same thing for American whites, it is apparently an excommunicable sin.

Everywhere but in the American nation-state, people are to be allowed their Blut und Boden. (Of course, Arab Christian loyalty to their homelands is repaid with the equally ardent Muslim desire to extinguish Arab Christians and their Shia allies from the reformed Umayyad. This is the fault, I have been personally told by Arab Christian refugees, of Americans and Jews.)

The multicultural flavor of the Antiochian patriarchate is undeniable, and there is a lot of trumpeting of our archdiocese as the "genuine" Orthodox branch for a propositional nation like the US. But there is only so far out on that diversity limb that people can politely go. Diversity is, in modern parlance, great and all, but nobody wants to think too hard about where diversity comes from. The idea that distinctive nations emerged from tribes drawing lines around themselves and marrying each other's daughters to insure they remained the dominant ethnicity violates a lot of narratives. People would rather imagine that the storks got together and decided to drop all Greek, Russian, Jewish, African, Finnish and Persian babies on different days.

Orthodoxy in America has a strongly juvenile (i.e, present-oriented, American) flavor in that for only the past generation has it become a redoubt for higher-g adult converts, like the Church in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D.

Pentecost, it seems to me, is where most American Orthodox would like the Church in the US to stay: a permanently juvenescent movement relying on growth, if it occurs at all, from adult conversions. In Orthodox homelands of course, the Local Church is woven into the national fabric. You are Churched and baptized into the Faith from your earliest memory. Nobody wrings their hands over what church to "join." That decision was made for you when you were baptized. (Sacramental baptism is another one of those things American Orthodox don't really seem to grasp.) The church is simply the Church, as it is in Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, or in Roman Catholic Croatia, Poland, Italy, Ireland and elsewhere. Americans pride themselves on being above such narrow provincialism, and the end result is 300+ million deracinated, atheistic, exhausted strangers for whom religious worship is entirely a matter of ideological preference.

I am coming to the conclusion that America so long as it is not an actual nation will never have an actual Church. I sometimes wonder if the utter silence of the mother Churches on the uncanonical situation in the Americas and elsewhere is just their cynical determination to wait things out, and see what nations emerge after it all ends in tears.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that if Matthew Heimbach has been excommunicated for phyletism, then all our American Orthodox hierarchs need to disqualify themselves from serving. Don't we have a Great and Holy Council coming up? Isn't the fact that the entire Church in America is uncanonical kind of important? Or do they view the US Church as more just a funding vehicle for the real Church back home?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Traditionalism's unprincipled exception

Catholic friend "Bumbling American" has requested comment on the Matthew Heimbach situation as discussed in Radix Journal here: "The God They Really Believe In."

Mr. Heimbach is one of the founders of the Traditionalist Youth Network, an openly white nationalist group, some number of whom are apparently Orthodox Christian converts. Mr. Heimbach traded blows with ideological opponents at a "Slut Walk" in Bloomington, Indiana. (It is of course hard to imagine a "slut walk" happening anywhere in Indiana other than the town that hosts a large, state-sponsored university.) Here's Matt, dishing it out (I'm not aware of any non-memed photos):

Orthodox bloggery was duly horrified, and apparently Mr. Heimbach has been excommunicated for his particular sins.

There is obvious irony here, given the Orthodox Churches' longstanding and close identifications with their host nationalities. I've previously posted on +John's patriotic plea for pan-Arabic solidarity. As an Antiochian bishop in Europe however, +John apparently took intensive English courses in order to minister to parishes in England, and Antiochian parishes in Turkey worship in the local Turkish, not Arabic (according to Fr. Andrew Damick). Clearly, the Church of Antioch honors and appreciates the God-created diversity of her flock as, apparently, does Matthew Heimbach, a white nationalist in a Church of Middle Eastern origin, answering to a Syrian patriarch.

These issues are not entirely strange to the Orthodox commentariat. Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy Ware) does not seem to have a problem with national identity, nor does Athonite monk Patrick, as I've discussed here. I am frankly not aware of any Church doctrine which prohibits a people from drawing a line around themselves and insisting that they remain the dominant ethnicity within those lines. Most of the world is subdivided to a degree that deracinated Americans find incomprehensible. Is there really any compelling reason for Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia to have their own separate states? Belgium? Austria? Palestine? Wouldn't things be a lot more efficient if Canada and the USA merged? And Mexico? Instead, places like Armenia remain the land of the Armenians, Georgia the land of the Georgians, and on and on. The US and NATO went to war to make sure Yugoslavia could be broken up into its Serb, Croat, Bosnian, Kosovar and Montenegrin nations. It's quite fashionable for Tibet to remain Tibetan, just as we are all agreed that Israel gets to remain Jewish and the Lebanese get their own country instead of just being part of Greater Syria. Sojourners are obviously to be treated with courtesy and compassion pursuant to longstanding civilized custom. But I am not aware of any Church doctrine which compels any nation to actively pursue the displacement of its founding stock. Where does diversity come from, after all, but from people drawing lines around themselves? (If you want to stop certain conversations in their tracks, ask people where diversity comes from.) Heimbach apparently wants a "white" nation, presumably contoured along Anglo-European lines. Pardon me for not falling out of my chair, because that strikes me as much of world history to date. Propositional states run according to Masonic principles, like the US, are a modern experiment.

It is allegedly self-evident that Heimbach has committed some sin that has put him out of communion. But so far the only canon I've seen cited is St. Paul's verse, “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:11).” Given the Church's support over the centuries for ethnic nations governed by hereditary monarchs, the context of Paul's verse is clear: there is no racial, ethnic or socio-economic qualification for membership in the Kingdom of Heaven. Period. The verse says nothing about the fact that there are Greeks, Jews, Barbarians, Romans and Scythians. There are also, apparently, slaves. Heimbach seems to have been excommunicated more for violating the American secular canon than the Christian one. What if an Orthodox Christian said he or she would not consider marriage to a person of a certain race--would that be a sin? Which sin?

There is a lot of talk in the Orthodox convertoblogosphere about authenticity. Present-day converts will never have the experience of Orthodox in their homelands picnicking in cemeteries and never troubling for an instance over which church is the Church. A Church Local, wedded to her nation, is not something to which one can simply convert. She is the end result of generations of extended family in an institution with a monopoly on Christian worship which baptizes, marries and buries in the true faith. We can strive as devoutly as we want, and we should, but in the present it is still just rote worship. We live in hope that our children and children's children ad seriatim will stay in the Church and after successive generations be the people for whom there is no other Church. For we in the present though, the "authentic" part will have to come later, as our spiritual bequest to our descendants. That's the difference between a mature Church, and a Church that's just one of any number of sects.

Given how things are proceeding in the World, with marriage and childbearing and everything else reduced entirely to individual preference, the behaviors of our progeny will be (we hope and pray) in striking contrast with their peers. They will act differently, think differently, and will have little in common with those outside their circle. This is how nations are birthed. You can start with as big an ethnic grab bag as you want, but the end result of assortative mating is still a group of people with common ancestry. This is what happens if we're successful by the way, because otherwise we disappear, or we hang on as another propositional denomination with a revolving door of middle-aged converts.

This sort of talk is of course completely alien to most American Christians, Orthodox or otherwise. For them, it's still 33 A.D. and we've got to roll up our sleeves and evangelize the pagan Empire. Surely, the thinking goes, when family, friends, neighbors, co-workers see our piety, our love, our enthusiasm, they will enter the parish doors by the dozens, thousands, millions! In the convert's zeal, it doesn't occur to him that everybody else--Baptists, Episcopalians, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics--is telling himself the same thing. And so are the Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists. Contra Niche has remarked that Christian mission probably has a conversion-to-contact ratio well below ten percent. With those numbers, Orthodoxy would be better off taking every dollar and resource devoted to evangelism and instead directly subsidizing young, Orthodox families so they'll fill the pews with their kids and aunts and uncles and grandparents.

All this talk about Local Churches, kinship and inter-generational tradition gets uncomfortable pretty quick. Orthodox converts falling over each other to condemn Heimbach certainly want their "smells and bells" street-cred, but being secular Americans first and foremost, they also want what Laurence Auster termed the unprincipled exception to their rock-ribbed creed. Auster was of course skewering the liberals' escape hatch from their categorical imperative of blank-slate egalitarianism. For example, people are just people, except when I'm shopping for housing in super-majority white/Asian school districts. Or when I'm gentrifying my hip, white enclave in Brooklyn for crafting artisanal chocolate that nobody in pre-gentrified Brooklyn could ever afford.

Are these guys Orthodox?

Thus, with American Orthodoxy, erstwhile traditionalists such as Rod Dreher want the local community, the kinship and the inter-generational tradition, but they also want the unprincipled exception in order to remain in good standing with their universalist, progressivist, homosexual and feminist friends. When an Orthodox such as Matthew Heimbach acts positively in support of traditional values like the Orthodox Christian faith and pro patria, as opposed to writing blog posts, he finds himself in violation of the American conservative's unprincipled exception. All sorts of sexual deviancy, the monsters we abide in our midst, and every other manner of social pathology passes unremarked, but get yourself accused of racism and even Rod Dreher will be bestirred to tell you that you are going to hell.

The Radix essay is worth reading, though obviously penned from the perspective of someone outside the Church. I have not added much here.

Monday, May 5, 2014

"We are being attended to as family by family"

Light from Antioch, from Fr. Andrew Damick
This past Friday, I had the blessing along with other clergy of the Diocese of Charleston and Oakland and also the Diocese of Washington and New York to meet with His Eminence, Metropolitan Silouan (Moussi) of Argentina in Washington, DC. Sayidna Silouan’s purpose in calling this meeting, as well as many other similar meetings throughout North America, was to hear the voices of the clergy and faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, to hear what they yearned for in their future, in the light of the transition that is now upon us, namely, that within a couple of months we will be in the care of a new Metropolitan. +Silouan’s role here in North America is Patriarchal Vicar, and he is essentially in charge of the archdiocese until a new Metropolitan is elected. He serves as the voice of the Patriarch of Antioch in our midst.

The table where we met seemed to be mostly filled with listeners (which is a good thing in the clergy), but a few of us spoke when Metropolitan Silouan asked us directly to tell him what our hopes were. In his initial remarks on this, he said something that stuck with me: “Thinking according to the constitution is good, but thinking as the Church is better.” I’ll say more on that in a moment.

The other clergy who spoke mainly talked of their desire for the unity of the archdiocese to be kept intact, that we should not be divided. And +Silouan mentioned that he had been seeing peace everywhere in the archdiocese, wherever he went, that no one had to tell us to be unified and at peace, but that we simply were. And I have noted that this theme seems to be repeated in a number of the conversations between Antiochians I have been privy to. I have also noticed in my more than 16 years of experience in the archdiocese that there really is a common identity, a brotherhood among us. It would be a shame for that to be harmed in any way...

One of the things that has struck me profoundly during the past several weeks since our father Metropolitan Philip reposed in the Lord is how immediately and how refreshingly our patriarchate has become involved with us. I am not part of the “administration,” but I have not felt for one moment that we were “under” some “foreign bishops” during this process (something one often hears within Orthodoxy in America). Rather, my feeling has been that we are being attended to as family by family, that we are being loved by spiritual fathers who really care what happens to us.

All this brings us to the question of what this attention from the patriarchate might mean. It certainly has not seemed to me to be overbearing in any way. Some have suggested that it means that the patriarchate wants to draw us closer to itself so that there may be more solidarity between us. Some fear that this may mean “Arabization” (for whatever that might mean). Some fear that this may put administrative unity in Orthodoxy in America in some jeopardy, i.e., if the American Antiochians become more Antiochian, they will be less American.

I cannot answer all of those fears, because I do not know what the future holds. But I will give one example to address one of them. For some folks, “Arabization” might mean a new emphasis on the Arabic language in worship. That would of course be a tall order, since roughly 3/4 of our clergy are converts and most converts have no knowledge of Arabic. But I do not think it would be ordered at all, to be honest. We have a patriarchate that has parishes in Turkey, just over the border from Syria, that worship in Turkish—not Arabic. We also have a patriarch who, when he was assisting with parishes in Europe, insisted on taking an intensive English language course so that he could both liturgize and preach in English before he visited any parishes in the United Kingdom.

What I would like to see is a new infusion of the spirit of Antioch, a new and increasing access to these spiritual riches—Middle Eastern saints and elders, monasticism, vigorous and traditional Byzantine music education, mutual visits, etc. In short, we are a family that needs to become closer...

Please do read it all.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Countdown to War

A hundred years ago today, the Arch Duke Ferdinand and his wife were still alive. They would be for another few months before all hell breaks loose in Europe and the colonies.

A hundred years ago today, all the major European powers were united by Aristocratic and royal families, tied together in blood and genetics going back hundreds of years. They were united in their stability and dedication to monarchical pretensions as well as to concepts like Noblese Oblige and Divine Right.

In August that would all change. In its wake would come the Russian revolution, and 70 years of Communist enslavement of Eastern Europe. In its wake would come Hitler and the enslavement of Western Europe. In its wake would come the deaths of millions of combatants for NO GOOD REASON THAT ANYONE CAN NAME. When for the first time European nationalism, build on Feudal foundations, linked to the industrial capacity of modern nation states would result in the ability to engage in protracted meaningless war without end.

It would continue for another 5 years and end, not when the Germans were exhausted, but when they were just tired of fighting. They had plenty of war capacity left.

America had no business being there. None. There was nothing for America at stake.

I bring this up because a hundred years is a long time. Long enough for most people to forget and for teaching institutions to trivialize that time in history.

The most important lesson we can draw from it is that, in America, we should make going to war an exceptionally hard thing for our government to do. It should never be left to politicians, bureaucrats, and diplomats at cocktail parties who will offer “unlimited American support” over a few drinks not caring what the cost will eventually be in blood.
From New Rebellion University.

Keep this historical justification for American involvement in WWI in mind when you are tempted to buy into the Official Story of 9/11, the use of gas weapons by the Syrian government, and the perfidious behavior of the Russians in Ukraine:
It became a symbol of brutal German aggression - an unprovoked torpedo attack on a passenger cruise liner during the First World War.

The infamous sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, killing more than 1,000 innocent victims, sparked outrage in Britain and America. Public opinion in the States swung against the Kaiser - eventually helping President Woodrow Wilson take the country into the war in 1917.

But 70 years after the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat eight miles off the coast of Ireland, British Government officials feared the secret of the tragedy would 'blow up on us' when a group of divers planned to search the wreck.

The German high command always maintained the steam liner, traveling between New York and Liverpool, was carrying explosives destined for the Western Front concealed as cheese or casks of beef. But ministers at the time rejected the claim and used the attack to whip up public anger against the Germans....

In a secret memo, Noel Marshall, from the Foreign Office's North American department, said: 'Successive British governments have always maintained that there was no munitions on board the Lusitania (and that the Germans were therefore in the wrong to claim to the contrary as an excuse for sinking the ship).

'The facts are that there is a large amount of ammunition in the wreck, some of which is highly dangerous.' He added: 'I am left with the uneasy feeling that this subject may yet - literally - blow up on us.'
The more that history reveals, the more it becomes clear that there has likely never been a foreign intervention that can be justified by its historical justification. Not the Spanish-American War, not World War I, not World War II, and not whatever inventive justification will be served up for World War III.
From Vox Popoli.

Eighty-six days to the anniversary of when Western Civilization put a gun in its mouth and pulled the trigger.