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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Analyzing SOTU 2014

For anyone who is interested, I have a virtually word-by-word analysis of Obama's 2014 State of the Union address, with "mis-statements" documented here.

For some reason, the pages look pink in Firefox Adobe viewer, which is weird. If you just download it and view it with Adobe PDF, the pages look much better. 

Why Inflation is GREAT!

This chart tells you why inflation is a wonderful thing: 

For most of human history, right up until 1800, there were far less than one billion people in the world. For most of human history, money was based on some kind of metallic standard: copper, bronze, silver, gold, and that metallic standard was sufficient for the population. Charging interest on a loan was evil because it meant the person charging interest on a loan would get more than their fair share of a limited amount of money. In a subsistence-level society, these interest charges could literally take food away from a family.

But, when the population began to grow exponentially, the money supply had to grow with it. After all, you can't have 7 billion people in the year 2000 all chasing after the same amount of money that only 1 billion people had available to them in 1800. There wouldn't be enough money to go around. In order to accommodate the inflating world population, economies had to inflate their currencies. 

This is why everyone moved to fractional reserve banking and eventually to fiat currency. It kept people from starving, gave everyone a shot at having money. How does it work? Fiat currency means you cannot demand a set amount of metal for a particular unit of currency. In metallic currency, a metal is worth its weight. When paper money was introduced, it was accepted only because it represented metal. Thus, prior to fiat currency, a paper dollar could be exchanged on demand for a set amount of metal: gold or silver. But with fiat currency, this ability to demand a set amount of metal for each unit of paper or electronic currency is taken away. No one can lay that demand against a bank or a government. 

Fractional reserve banking means that a bank or government is allowed to lend out more money than it has. For example, for every dollar it keeps in its vaults, it creates five dollars out of thin air, and lends each of the five newly created dollars to a different customer. The single existing dollar is held in reserve in case one of the five customers is unable to repay the loan. If that happens, the bank can cover that default. 

When the five pay back the loan, the amount of money in the system has now grown by a factor of five. The five have freely given their work to enrich the entire system so that everyone else has a shot at getting money too. Now that new money can be lent out at a five-fold increase. Now twenty-five others can donate their work to the system to keep the system going. The size of the pie is no longer fixed: everyone contributes to growing the pie. 

The money supply inflates to keep pace with the inflating population. The transition away from metallic standards and into fiat currency allows the creation of money. In this system, new money is actually created through lending. Lending is how new money gets into the system. Everyone who takes out a loan contributes to the system by helping create more money through their work. 

And see what has happened! Interest on a loan is no longer a way to consume money, it is instead a way to produce new money so that everyone can have money. In this view, charging and paying interest is no longer primarily an act of rapacity, it is now primarily an act of charity. 

Thus, in the last two centuries, the definition of money changed. By the industrial age, money was no longer something that was primarily consumed, rather, it became something that is primarily created.

"Usury", as the name implies, only makes sense in regards to things that can be used up, consumed. The Church's teaching on usury were formulated when money was a fixed entity that was used up within an essentially fixed population. The Church's teaching assumes money is a consumable good. But when the definition of money changed from something we consume to something we create, the usury teachings concerning interest on a loan no longer applied. Our new definition of money - new value created through loans - had rendered them useless. 

Now, Pope Francis recently denounced usury, a subject I have written on before. But notice what he said. He didn't denounce interest on loans. He denounced bills that kept poor people from even being able to afford food: "When a family has nothing to eat, because it has to make payments to usurers, this is not Christian, it is not human!"

So, if usury isn't interest on a loan, what is it? As Aquinas points out (ST II, II, 78, 1) usury has two components: (1) it is selling something that doesn't exist AND (2) it leads to inequality, which is unjust. He used interest on a loan as an example, but he also pointed out that not all interest charged for a loan was evil. He allowed, for instance, interest on the loan used to buy a house, because a house is not consumed, it is not eaten up, by being lived in.

Usury is the selling of something that doesn't exist that leads to inequality. It doesn't need to involve a loan or interest at all. 

Everyone has an equal right to food. As Pope Francis points out, exacting payment in such a way that people cannot exercise their right to eat food is usury - it is exacting a payment to exercise a right that already exists, a right that no one should have to pay to exercise. Usury is my claiming that I control your right to eat. I have no such control nor any such right. Usury is my charging you so that you can exercise your right to eat. I am charging you for something - my "control" over you, my "right" over you - that doesn't exist in order to create my ownership of you. That is usury. 

When we demand payment from the poor before we allow the poor to eat, we have engaged in usury, even if no loan is involved. It isn't interest on a loan that is the problem. Usury is the failure to recognize each person's inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that is, the pursuit of God. What Pope Francis has said is perfectly in accord with both the current economic system and with ancient Catholic teaching. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Reverse Signalling

It is well-known that a college degree is now required for jobs that really don't require one. Why do employers do this? "Well," goes the argument, "getting a degree shows a willingness to work - it's a signal for abilities other than education."

Now, let's think a minute here.

Studies have shown that college grads walk out without learning ANYTHING. They score EXACTLY the same on their exit exam that they score on their entrance exam. This is true of both internal and external studies.

For instance, I teach college developmental math. The studies there are QUITE clear. It does absolutely no good. You would think that having more and more remedial courses would eventually push scores up and graduation rates up. What we've found is more remedial courses actually push scores and graduation rates DOWN. Students leave a long set of remedial math courses STUPIDER than when they went in. Which is why some colleges are dumping their long list of "progressive" remedial math courses, and shoving everybody into a single remedial class or getting rid of remedial classes entirely. Ironically, because they have tighter oversight, the "for-profit" colleges are leaders in this movement.

So, if all of that is true, does the credential prove the graduate has a "marginally better" education? Or does it prove the graduate is actually STUPIDER than the non-graduate, because the non-graduate was at least smart enough not to waste the money, while the graduate is actually in DEBT in addition to not knowing any more now than s/he did before?

And, the graduate spent between 4 and 6 years both going into debt AND not realizing that the "education" wasn't helping?

Isn't the college degree "credential" therefore as often a sign of stupidity and inability to learn as it is of any increased ability to learn?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hitchens Understood

They tell us Peter Hitchens is an atheist. 
Clearly, he isn't.

PETER HITCHENS: The most dangerous idea in human history and philosophy remains the belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God and rose from the dead and that is the most dangerous idea you will ever encounter.

DAN SAVAGE: I’d have to agree with that.

TONY JONES: Just quickly, because I think you can't really leave it there, why dangerous?

PETER HITCHENS: I can't really leave it there? Because it alters the whole of human behaviour and all our responsibilities. It turns the universe from a meaningless chaos into a designed place in which there is justice and there is hope and, therefore, we all have a duty to discover the nature of that justice and work towards that hope. It alters us all. If we reject It, it alters us all was well. It is incredibly dangerous. It's why so many people turn against it. 

Israel Implements A New Holocaust

When we "won" World War II, we decided to show the world how evil the leftists really were. The National Socialists were tried for "crimes against humanity" at Nuremburg. The International Military Tribune started  November 1945 and ran through October 1946. A host of smaller trials followed in both Germany and Japan.

One of the "crimes against humanity" for which we prosecuted liberal Nazis was the crime of abortion. The crime was three-fold. First, Germany had legalized abortion in contravention to its own 1871 Constitution. Second, it had invaded Poland and refused to implement Poland's strong anti-abortion laws. Third, it had compelled those in the camps to undergo abortion.

The Geneva Code, an oath taken by medical doctors, was a direct result of the Nuremburg trials. In it, the doctor pledges to "maintain the utmost respect for life from the time of its conception."

In 1946, we sentenced men to 25 years in jail, hung them by their neck until they were dead, for committing "crimes against humanity." In 1973, little more than 25 years later, just as the Nazis were getting out of jail, America imitated the Nazi example. We did what Germany did - we made abortion legal.

And it wasn't just us. Fast forward to 2014. In less than 60 years, abortion has gone from being a crime against humanity, to being a state-subsidized activity in Israel. That's right - you can kill all the Jews you want now, and the nation of Israel will even pay your expenses. 97% of abortion requests are approved.

Today, it is a crime against humanity to make abortion illegal.

Hitler lost the battles, but he won the war. Even the Jews now agree that he was right to try to wipe them out. Now, the liberals are simply trying to finish what they universally regarded as a noble experiment, the removal of Judaism from the face of the earth. And the Jewish people are apparently so weary of the world that they are now complicit in the work.

This is what happens when a people fails to recognize their Messiah.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Deathstyle

How destructive is the "homosexual" lifestyle?

Here are two resources from opposite sides of the political spectrum that both say essentially the same thing. Being homosexual kills you quicker.

The Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition (CRHC) makes a summary list of the increased health risks associated with homosexual activity. The story was originally reported here:

Oddly enough, the link at the bottom of their story stopped working. Fortunately, others took a snapshot of it. The Internet never forgets.

And here is fully footnoted summary of current research by the Catholic Medical Association. It not only confirms everything the CRHC mentioned in their legal brief against the Canadian Government, it provides additional information, plus a complete list of footnotes and references, which the CRHC brief fails to provide: