Archive for Constitution

M is for Money

Posted in All, Economics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by marushiadark

“So you think that money is the root of all evil.  Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?” ~ Ayn Rand

At the time of my writing this, I’ve yet to read Atlas Shrugged.  I think I might already know a great deal of what’s in it, much like when I first read The Lost Symbol.  However, at the insistence of my mother, and many others, apparently, I’ve made Atlas Shrugged the very next book on my reading list.

Even still, Ayn Rand makes a very good point.  What is money?  Have you ever really thought about it?

For most people, when you mention the word “money,” a lot of things come to mind.  To some, it means little green pieces of paper or metal with pictures of dead presidents on them.  For others, it may call to mind an image of the mint printing vast rolls of the stuff.  On the one hand, money can be the source of great stress and grief if we don’t have it, or great opportunity and abundance if we do.  Pious people avoid it like the plague, while people that have it are willing to do anything to get it and can’t seem to get enough of it.

Most of these are probably incomplete observations, made by equally  ill-informed observers.  I know that, for most of my own life, I kept having the wrong impression about money, and only recently am I beginning to see money for what it actually is.

But what is that, exactly?

The Uniform Commercial Code is the Bible of commercial law.  UCC Article 1, Section 201b, Line 24 gives the definition of money as it’s used throughout most of the world today:

“Money means a medium of exchange currently authorized or adopted by a domestic or foreign government.  The term includes a monetary unit of account established by an intergovernmental organization or by agreement between two or more countries.”

In brief, money is simply a medium of exchange, an I.O.U.

When you play Monopoly, the paper is just there to help regulate how much you’re worth in comparison to the other players.  If you run out, the game even tells you to make more money out of regular paper, because it’s just a medium of exchange with no inherent value of its own.  Or if you play in digital form, it’s all done via electronic transfers and moving numbers around.  It’s Bookkeeping, the Game and boy do we love playing it!

If this were a barter system, we’d trade goods directly, like a camel for five bags of potatoes, or whatever we happened to agree was an equivalent exchange.

Money is just an indirect way of trading.  For instance, say I had a hat, but needed a pair of shoes.  I meet a man who needs a hat but has an extra pair of shoes.  So I trade him the hat for the shoes.  Now this man, some time later, needs to buy food.  He needs the food more than his hat, so he finds someone who will make the trade with him.  In that process, the hat was used as money because it was the medium that facilitated exchanges.

If we wanted, we could really use anything for money, as long as it was agreed upon by everyone involved; and in ancient times, that’s exactly what happened.

It used to be that money was more than just worthless paper.  When things like gold, silver, beads, shells, stones, and feathers were all used as money, the money itself had inherent value.  It could be used in trade, or kept by its possessor because it was worth something for its own merit.  Over time, certain things like copper, gold, and silver became more standardized as money because their value as a medium of exchange was more universally accepted among disparate cultures.  Eventually, people began to store, lend, and borrow coins and soon the first banks were formed.  From there, it was a short while before people started carrying around certificates that represented an amount of hard currency being kept in a vault somewhere.  And thus, we arrive at paper money.

The documentary Money as Debt elaborates more on this concept and gives a brief, allegorical history of the evolution of money.

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:10

Money is a form of power.  So it follows that the love of money is the love of power and of control over one’s self and others.  What we do with that power, however, is the determining factor.

Greed and lack are just flaws in perception.  The world is nothing but abundant with wealth and resources for all, and then some, yet this misguided belief of never having enough to survive is what leads people to commit both great and terrible acts in an effort to get more money.  Rest assured, it’s not the paper or the numbers that they want, but the power and the goods that said money represents, as you will see later on.

The cure for greed and the cure for poverty are one in the same: recognize that there is more than enough to go around for everyone and find a way to satisfy everyone at the table.

It is important to note that money is not, itself, a bad thing.  It’s just a tool, like a hammer or a pencil, that facilitates a purpose.  In the case of money, that purpose is to act as a catalyst for the trade of goods and services.  Just as guns don’t kill people, neither does money create problems.  It is only people that kill people or create problems.  How can money create something?  It’s just a tool.  Only divine beings, living souls, can create anything.

Without getting into too much detail, there is a principle in law that states that the created cannot be higher than the creator.  Who is the creator in this case?  We are.

We humans are the creators of every organization and institution on this planet, and we are the creators of governments and money.  They are our tools, our creations.  They have only the power and authority and value that we say they do or that we give to them; and we alone have the ability to revoke that power, authority, and value.  Whether we choose to abdicate our role as creator and be overrun by these Frankenstein monsters or not is our choice.  But eventually, the human race will be pushed to the breaking point unless it wakes the fuck up and remembers that the power was ours all along.

Like what Glinda, the good witch, tells Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz, you’ve had the power to go home all along.  It’s just that you weren’t in a position to accept or believe it, and so no one told you, but instead left you to figure it out for yourself.  Well, consider this your wake up call, with me giving you formal notice the power is yours.

“The man who has no money is poor, but one who has nothing but money is poorer.” ~ Orison Swett Marden, New Thought author

Return we now to the subject of paper money.  It’s really almost absurd how everyone knows that paper money is just worthless paper, and yet we still choose to rely on it for everything.  We covet it as though it were the secret of eternal life.  But why?  What makes paper money so valuable?

Recall that, in ancient times, people used mainly gold and silver as money in the form of bars or coins.  Bars and coins were used because they could be regulated in terms of weight and purity, but they were not without their flaws.  The most basic reason for switching to paper money was because it was lighter in weight and easier to carry around.  You could write up a certificate for really any amount of money that you wanted, so long as you had enough gold or silver somewhere to back it up.

For hundreds of years, it was the case that all certificates of this kind could be turned in any time the holder felt insecure and he would be given an amount of gold or silver equal to the amount that was written on the document.  What had value wasn’t so much the actual paper, but the confidence that it could be exchanged for something of worth.  And soon people began to trade these papers as though they were actual value.

If you look at the top of any American dollar bill, you will see the words “Federal Reserve Note” scrawled on it.  The word “note” in this case means a promissory note.  In other words, it’s a promise to pay.

If you’ve ever taken out a loan, you probably filled out a promissory note and gave it to your creditor or bank.  That promissory note is your promise to pay.  It’s your promise to them that they can redeem it for something of actual value.  With that confidence, the note can be exchanged as though it were actual currency.  They can trade it in for whatever it’s worth (which these days is just an extension of credit).

Things start to get interesting when you begin to realize that all cash is just a promissory note.  What we think of money is really just our promise that the holder will get something in return for it.

More interesting still is that, if you look at a dollar bill, it no longer says “redeemable in gold or silver.”  Prior to 1933, all dollars were promises of payment in either gold (which was standard) or silver to the holder.  So what happened in 1933?

“What difference does it make how much money you have?  What you do not have amounts to much more.” ~ Seneca

For a more in-depth history, I would recommend the documentary The Money Masters, but suffice to say that the history of America has really been one of banking and trying to avoid central banks, in particular.  The Founding Fathers resisted the Bank of England and wrote into the Constitution the power of Congress to coin money and to regulate its value.  And our country managed to survive well enough without a central bank for over a hundred years.  Since our inception, private international banks have tried to get Congress to give over that power to them and, in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson finally caved with the signing of the Federal Reserve Act.  From then on, the Federal Reserve (a private international bank) would be the sole creator of all the currency used to fund the government, which it lent to us at interest.

Prior to 1933, the United States was on a gold standard and most of its currency was backed by gold.  In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered a seizure of all the gold held by private citizens in an effort to pay off the national debt.  With the signing of HJR 192 on June 5, 1933, the use of promissory notes backed by gold was ended and a new form of currency replaced it: the Federal Reserve Note.

Federal Reserve Notes (which replaced United States Notes) are what’s known as fiat currency.  Fiat means that is isn’t backed by a commodity (like gold), but has value because of government decree.  It has value because the government says it does and will force you to accept it if offered for the payment of any and all debts in the United States.

If you look in the corner of the dollar bill, it says as much.  The word “tender” in this case means “an offer of money.”  It’s an offer of money because it’s only a note, which is a promise of money, not actual money itself.  There is no money.  Roosevelt took it all from us to pay the debt, which we still have hanging over us to this very day.

Following World War I, Germany was in bankruptcy because a lot of its infrastructure was destroyed and it had no money to rebuild or to pay the war reparations that its enemies demanded as a condition for accepting German surrender.  As a result, Germany suffered massive inflation and the Deutsche Mark became incredibly devalued without anything to back it.  It is said that marks were used to wallpaper people’s houses, that’s how worthless they were.  It was only through the aid of private banks and corporations – some of them American – that the Nazis were able to rise to the levels they did, and we all know how that turned out.

Similarly, after the Great Depression, people began to hoard gold as the only valuable form of currency.  Without gold and value passing through the American economy, the government had no funds to operate with.  It couldn’t afford to maintain its military in wartime or repay the Federal Reserve and its other creditors.  So the United States was also forced to declare bankruptcy and stole all the gold of its citizens in an effort to pay off its debts.

While we may have gotten out of the Great Depression through a re-stimulating of the economy via Roosevelt’s New Deal, we continue to employ the Federal Reserve and its worthless paper.  So a rational person would have to conclude that it’s only a matter of time before we fall back into that same pit again.  Only next time, it’s liable to be a lot worse.  Remember, we brought the Fed into this world and we can certainly take it out.

A is for Agent

Posted in All, Economics, Media, Politics, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by marushiadark

“The Matrix is a system, Neo.  That system is our enemy … these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy.  You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged.  And many of them are so inert, so helplessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.” ~ Morpheus

When the Wachowski brothers first created The Matrix, they viewed the relationship between the humans and the machines as a metaphor for the relationship between individuals and the institutions that they created.  Many of our man-made institutions were initially created with the most noble of intentions, but I bet we can all name at least one that we’re aware of that has lost sight of its original purpose and gone on to become something far more malicious (for most people, if it’s not the Catholic Church or the opposing political party, it’s Scientology).

No creation can supersede its creator, and yet it would seem that most, if not all, of our religious and governmental and commercial institutions have grown to become quite the Frankenstein monsters and are threatening to choke the living daylights out of us.

We are the ones that created these institutions and breathed life into them.  Like anything else, they can only do what we empower them to do.  Our own Constitution, for instance, declares that the American government is meant to be a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”  The Founding Fathers wrote the power into the hands of the people, so why is it that we, the people, are utterly incapable of stopping these machines, these now-self-aware monstrosities?

The fact of the matter is that our institutions have become sentient programs with lives and minds of their own that are struggling desperately to survive, even if it means destroying or enslaving a few minds, a few lives, in the process.  But just as the machines of The Matrix need humans for fuel, so too is the lifeblood of our modern institutions a fuel comprised of human beings.

An agent is a sentient program that does the bidding of the machines.  A sentient program is self-aware like a human being, but is different from us in that it only ever does what it is ordered or commanded or pre-programed to do.  It doesn’t think for itself.  It doesn’t act for itself.  It is merely the arm of the machine.  The word “tool” would not be inappropriate in deference to them.

Many people that would call themselves free human beings are, in fact, merely agents of the system – the system being any institution that seeks to enslave all mankind and convert us to its way of thinking.  Think about it.  A church cannot survive without members of its congregation actively recruiting new converts.  A business cannot survive without expanding its profits, even if that means using subliminal mind-control techniques (also known as advertisements) to get human beings to become agents and buy crap they don’t need.  A government most certainly can’t survive for long without the will of the people, since the people are the ones that vote the politicians out of office.

As Confucius said, the three things needed for good government are: enough food, enough arms, and the will of the people.  If you were forced to give up one of those, then arms should go first. People can still fight without arms, but will not have the will to fight if they have no food.  If you are forced to give up another thing, then it is food.  During The Long March, Mao Zedong led his army across the mountains of China.  His men were cold and starving, but they developed a fierce loyalty to him by the end of it because he was with them, encouraging them to press forward the entire time.  But without the will and support of its people, a government, or any other institution for that matter, can do nothing at all.

If we are unhappy with a particularly malevolent institution, then the way we stop it is by removing the fuel of the machine: its agents.

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

How do we identify an agent?  Are there any tell-tale signs?  Agents come in many forms and some are more entranced than others.

One way to tell them apart is their level of denial.  The world is full of shit and hardship and anyone that tells you differently is either an enlightened master – who fully accepts the world around him and is at peace with it – or an agent.

When you come across an enlightened master, you may not realize it at first.  Are they a simple and humble and bitter old man or an outspoken, eloquent, and enthusiastic woman.  They may be cynical or happy, but if you ask them about the state of the world, they will give you the facts of the matter and are open to new ways of thinking about what they already know.  They will not judge you, but instead accept you and your beliefs and will offer to teach you and help you grow in your own way instead of forcing you or coercing you to conform to some other way against your will.

On the other hand, an agent will use defense mechanisms to try and justify their lies and avoid confronting the truth.  If you tell them the world is round, they will show you a diagram of the world as a disk that spins counterclockwise and tell you that the resultant upward force is what really causes gravity.  They will defend the lie with blissful ignorance and apologetic threats.  They are like the addict that will attempt to get you hooked on their stupidity and lies.

Use your own powers of observation.  If something appears false to you, then it very well might be.  Use your rational, analytical mind and make a case for why things are the way they are.  Any reasonably sane individual may or may not agree with your conclusions, but they should at least be open to hearing you out and consider what you have to say.  If they agree, it’ll be because of your facts and your logic, not the promises of benefits and the avoidance of punishment.  Anyone who threatens you or promises you candy if you just get in the van is not your friend.

“Are you at liberty to play for that, Sctanley?  Or would you prefer to play for smiles?” ~ Dave, Couples Retreat

In some cases, usually the more indoctrinated cases, an agent will take on a phony persona.  These people are not really people, but are mere shells of persons who are trying to get you to volunteer for slavery.  The 13th Amendment banned slavery and involuntary servitude, but voluntary servitude is still perfectly legal. If you buy into the false images of these agents, you will have committed yourself to be bound in servitude.

Such persons you can usually identify right away.  They will have big stupid grins, wide Bambi eyes, and doll-like faces.  Whenever I see someone like this, I shutter and avert my eyes because of how creepy they are.  They’re like the bottom of the uncanny valley: not really living and not really dead, but somewhere in-between.  A real-life zombie or vampire.  If you need a visual example, here’s what one looks like:

Paula Deen - Creepy, Agent

God, that woman creeps me out so much.

I’m sure you’ve seen that type of face before (especially if you watch Lie to Me).  Kitty Farmer and Jim Cunningham from Donnie Darko, the Todds from Bubble Boy, the Enzyte Guy, and Joo Dee from Avatar: The Last Airbender are all examples of this.  Many extremely devout religious practitioners, politicians, advertisers, and government and corporate spokespersons have this same face.  That same cold, lifeless stare in their eyes that says, “Everything’s fine, you’ve nothing to worry about.”  But what they really mean is “I’m a brain-washed tool.  Beware of me and my machine.”

I’m sure you can find many more examples of this face showing up.  It’s not that free people can’t be happy, just that theirs is a more genuine and less phony kind of happiness.  Their eyes are deep wells and they radiate warmth and compassion when they are happy, instead of giving off the stink of robotic emotions.

Beware of the agents of evil, for they are the true enemies of humanity and are in most need of rescuing.