Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Break Your Chains

 


by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Worried about inflation?  Stockpiling food?  If so, you have lots of company.   Interested in ensuring  you and your family are safe?  

While pondering the question, remember all problems have causes. This article takes you to the real causes, the ones no one mentioned, no matter how long you were in school or how many degrees you earned.  Here, we show you the enormous  over-riding problem everyone ignored.  You know about foreclosure, repossession, and more ominous terms; there are 47 of these.  You have seen what can happen in your own communities.  All of these are forms of Debt-Bondage, the inability to pay your debts.  Today,  81% of us have erratic incomes, which is a big part of the problem.  If you don’t know how much you will have to spend, how can you depend on anything?

As Dr. Milton Friedman said, "If the only thing Certain in business, is Uncertainty, then we must base our fiscal systems on Uncertainty." 

Uncertainty – Scary thought.  Milton knew it was the source of dramatic swings in our economy; he did not know what to do about it until 1976 when an enthusiastic young man called him, providing the solution based in part on one paragraph from Friedman’s bookCapitalism and Freedom”.

If the young man had not taken 30 years to exhaustively confirm his own idea, we would not now be facing an economic meltdown of monumental proportions.  The good news is this; a sustainable economy is possible for all of us, and he is sorry about that.  Better late than never.  The book will be out soon, titled, Human Investments (HI)

The problem exists around the world in such seemingly different places as Carbon County, UT, USA and Kolhi Villages, Sindh, Pakistan, two communities joined in scary uncertainty.  

Very different in many ways, these two places have a lot of history in common: each needs solutions to put things right.  Life grows increasingly hard for the families in Kolhi Villages and life in East Carbon has been economically challenging since the coal mines closed.

Both areas have historically been plagued by Debt Bondage.

Our Towns, the 2-Way InterActivist TV show series, focusing on East Carbon, UT and Kolhi Villages, Pakistan, each encountered this problems at different times in their histories.  Debt Bondage is an ancient, and current form of slavery.  Kolhi has always had subsistence farmers in their past and still, today; few now exist in Carbon County.  These died off or turned to different ways to make a living.

Tom McCourt, a Carbon County native, noted this in his book, “The Split Sky”, his narrative of life from the time he was 16 and working for the summer on the Nutter Ranch in Utah’s Nine-Mile Canyon,  included the problems faced by small farmers, driven to work for others to maintain their spreads.   

The incomes of small farmers remain erratic today; big operations evade the impact of erratic incomes, explaining the corporatization of food production and the reasons family farms have been disappearing.  Only smaller farms or employees face the harsh reality of not being able to pay their debts; this is known across time and throughout human cultures as Debt Bondage.  As McCourt noticed, small farmers and ranchers were forced to work on larger commercial operations to pay their expenses or obtain seed money, tools or needed food. 

For miners, Debt Bondage was also being limited to a company store and having no other options for feeding their families.  In a similar scenario, early Carbon County miners working for themselves was displaced as miners were forced to accept an hourly paycheck, greatly reducing their pay. 

Subsistence farming, with its erratic nature, depending on the weather and other factors, made people vulnerable to having their labor taken out of their control, a form of slavery.  

The mining companies realized they could squeeze out more profits by starting company stores and housing in remote locations, making miners dependent on the company for credit.  This resulted first in objections, and then in union organizing.  People died violent deaths struggling for economic survival when they sang uncheerfully, I owe my soul to the company store.

For Carbon County further education for careers in other fields largely alleviated the problem in its original form.   Former miners found other professions.

The problem is far older for Kolhi Villages by thousands of years.  The mothers and grandmothers are still making patterns found in the archaeological digs close by.  The lack of any educational resource has largely left them with no exit until now that education is becoming a possibility.  

Slavery is a gradient with  multiple forms, controlling the lives of people. Debt Bondage is one of the steps of control that imposes a valuation on life, and the time of individual whose choices are  gravely limited because erratic an incomes leaves them vulnerable to manipulation.  Having an accident, death, the vagaries of weather, the demand for coal, and more are hazards which can force an individual to cede control over their time and choices. 

Debt Bondage and Slavery, only two of the forms this strategy takes, depend on impelling or compelling terms on one party by another in a quasi-contract which gives the weight of the benefit to the more powerful party requiring a Lump Sum and or Rigid Installment Payments.  One party takes the risk: the other the benefits, pushing those struggling ever closer to disaster.  

Reprise:  Remember what Milton said earlier?  "If the only thing Certain in business, is Uncertainty, then we must base our fiscal systems on Uncertainty."   

Debt Bondage and Slavery - A Long History

As you see at the link, the fathers of the students already attending Kolhi School and those who want to attend, have been working hard to build the school with materials locally available, most of this free, with only their unpaid labor added for the shell of the building.   

Their leader in this is a local man who got an education.  Leela Ran Kolhi holds both a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and is finishing his Master’s in Sociology.  Leela’s father, himself a rice farmer, donated the land for Kolhi School which will be the only school of any kind for 75 miles in any direction.  Children attending now are walking as far as 5 miles to get there.

Most of the families with children attending Kolhi School are subsistence farmers. and societies in transition from early, subsistence farming are extremely vulnerable to manipulation by those using debt as a tool to own people and their labor. Many have struggled with debt bondage for generations.

In Carbon County, which includes East Carbon, schooling for children has been available since at least 1900.  Carbon County’s population, growing rapidly over a century ago, was diverse, many people coming from southern Europe for jobs and opportunity.  The many of the descendants of those original pioneers remain here. Most of their ancestors were literate in their own languages as soon learned to speak English as well. 

However, schooling has never been available, or affordable, for the families in Kolhi Villages.  Until now, and they are making this happen themselves.  

Education makes an enormous difference, providing alternatives – but all of us, no matter how much education we acquire, are vulnerable to Debt Bondage.  Remember all the tuition loans out there.  Those are creating a new, modern form of  Debt Bondage.

Debt Bondage is recorded first in ancient Mesopotamia, cited in "DEBT:  The First 5,000 Years"  by David Graeber.   Graeber goes on to cite passages in the Bible which appear to refer to the practice, citing the words, 'padah' and 'goal' both, Graeber says, referring to redemption, buying back something being held by another party. The practice included not only pledging property for a debt but pledging relatives, wives, children, and others, as part time or full-time labor property then controlled by the holder of the debt. 

Graeber includes on page 81 of his book a quote from Nehemiah, Chapter 5, 3-7, which was written during the years of Persian dominance.

               "Some also there were that said, "We have mortgaged our lands,

         vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth."

             There were also those that said, "We have borrowed money for the king's             

        tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.

             "Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children:  and, lo,

        we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters 

       are brought into bondage already; neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have

       our lands and vineyards."

             And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.

            Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them,

       "Ye exact usury, every one of his brother," And I set a great assembly against them.​"

 David Graeber's specific area of inquiry was not economics, but anthropology. He was a socialist, having failed to thoroughly research American history from colonial times to the early 20th Century. He notices and comments on the appearance of “elites", always denoted by their wealth and power, ignoring the use of the economic tool that has caused erratic incomes during his own lifetime.  This trend began in the early 20th Century when  America's economy was put under the control of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. 

"Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes it's laws" — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild  

There is much bickering over who said what when.  But the phrase would more honestly have been, "let me dictate the terms for payment and nothing else will matter."

Does ideology matter?  Not much. 

Remember the quote from Dr. Friedman? "If the only thing Certain in business, is Uncertainty, then we must base our fiscal systems on Uncertainty." 

Dr. Friedman waited patiently for the young man to write his book.  Writing the book is a highly regarded act in economics as originality is for inventions.  Many people in a short period of time invented the light bulb.  But only one patent was issued.   Economists operate in much the same way.  An ethical economist, Dr. Friedman did not publish on the young man's insights as this would have violated his principles.  

Dr. Friedman had  entirely overlooked that it was the tool for charging which entirely altered America’s economy, converting 85% of people from small businesspeople to the 85% of us who are employees today. 

One tiny easily overlooked economic tool did this to us. 

This is the Rigid Installment Payment (RIP).  Its use today in America is standard for nearly all larger purchases and for credit cards. 

The adoption of the Federal Reserve System was a carefully orchestrated action which achieved the conditions needed to control America's economy and so direct unearned  benefits, taken directly from people facing the hazard of erratic incomes.  The predatory use of Rigid Installment Payments (RIP) and strip of equity. RIP & Strip is the most accurate description of RIP.  You can make regular payments on a house for 29 years and 11 months and lose it because of one missed payment.  Ensuring that the well-understood nature of human life was ignored dictated the use of RIPs. 

The rise of an elite class in America was in place through government soon after the American Revolution was won. This became obvious with  the publication of Leonard R. Richard's book, "Shays' Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle", published in 2003. 

 A policy for balancing debts from the Revolution proposed by Alexander Hamilton, was adopted and transferred wealth from those who earned it and had erratic incomes to the period's elites.   This economically destroy veterans and working farmers in western Massachusetts and other states.  The new governments even refused to accept the script for taxes, again benefiting speculators who were buying up the script from desperate veterans at ten cents on the dollar. 

The lies told by government were uncovered when the local historical societies went through the records of court actions, providing this data to Leonard L. Richards, a professor and local resident.  Richards correlated these records with those for military service.  Professor Richards had not expected this; a history professor based in Amherst; Massachusetts Professor Richards realized the facts had been intentionally concealed.  Veterans who had returned home from the war to farm found themselves unable to use the script given to them for their military service, even to pay the high taxes on their farms being exacted by the government under constitutions not necessarily voted in by more rural, distant counties.  

 How Graeber missed these facts is a question which cannot be answered. Graeber died suddenly, from necrotic pancreatitis, on September 2, 2020, while on vacation with his wife and friends in Venice, Italy.

 Graeber notes these factors across thousands of years and with most cultures but does not study the economics of voluntary exchange and tool providers as lenders of stockholders.  

 This also concealed facts which were widely understood in the 1930s to late in the 20th Century.   These facts had been published through the American Economic Foundation in a book for adults and children titled, "How We Live".  It is obvious that ignoring uncertainty is a critical factor, strongly associated with the rise of a limited class of 'elites' who oppose the use of an economic tool that eliminates the problem of erratic incomes, also in use widely across time and in many cultures. 

 Today, Debt Bondage also includes home and car loans along with 45 other forms for payment. All of these have the same impact; to take the property of people who are vulnerable to the impact of changed conditions and life events which produce an erratic income for a time. 

 The solution is the charging tool that turned American immigrates into business owners from the Colonial Period, 1620, until 1913.  This economic tool was used to solve a problem for the Merchant-Adventurers who had acquired lands in the New World but had no way to profit from this.  Those are the colonies you might have heard about briefly in school.  At the bottom of this article see the Power Point which explains the this.  

 Casting about for a solution to their problem, the Merchant-Adventurers realized many discontented English, French and Dutch wanted to leave where they were.  These canny and desperate landowners began making loans to those seeking new places to live and start businesses.  Loans included transport to the Colonies, tools for the trade they would take up, and a year's income to get started.

 The original terms were 7% of what the borrower earned for seven years.  There were no recorded defaults.  Every loan we could find was repaid. 

 The young man discovered this first in the BYU Library, where he cut the pages in never read books of Lading that recorded the shipments back to England and the transfers of payments.  The list of respected experts, many of them economists, is HERE.

 This is the source of the American prosperity we once knew.  85% of Americans for these three centuries were small businesspeople. Erratic incomes were never a problem.  

 This is the solution; popular demand and the resulting transition for finansuring major purchases will result in a rapid transition.  Investors today are also worried about the impact of the economy by their investments.  Since PAYE is both inflation-proof and deflation-proof, ideal for long-term contracts fair to both borrowers and lenders.  

Visit PAYEhome.org

See Power Point

Friday, May 27, 2022

The Rapid Decline of the Leisure Class


 by Michael Smith


I’ve always been intrigued by Thorsten Veblen, the economist and sociologist, who made observations about social class in the late nineteenth century. His idea that there is a “leisure class” that holds “luxury beliefs” is quite interesting.

In “The Theory of the Leisure Class”, he stated that the “leisure class” – affluent people – display their membership in the upper class with their material accouterments. For example, expensive designer clothing or driving an Aston Martin convey such “membership”.
I have previously noted that I think that Veblen’s theory applies across all political, economic, and social classes – as always, there is a segment of each social and economic class (upper, middle, lower), who send the same signals to their cliques that they are moving up. That is why we saw looting of certain stores during the “mostly peaceful protests” and the theft of flat screen TV’s and other luxury goods first before basic sustenance needs were stolen. The “five finger discounts” have more to do with status among certain classes than need.
Of course, membership might also consist of professions of a certain belief common to a desired group but just like Veblen’s theory, once you are in the game, you are in the game. If you are going to stay in, you must continue a progression of more expensive things as your peers catch up with you. From a sociological perspective, simple profession of a belief is the buy-in, and increasingly dramatic professions are required to stay ahead. Trumping the fellow members of your group by aggressively escalating your positions could be the equivalent of buying a nicer car or a larger home.
Radical positions have a social cost, especially when they rise to ridiculous heights – but those costs can be also monetized through subscription costs, the actual cost of joining a group (membership fees), they cost of Internet and software – or even the opportunity costs of time.
For entertainment and media companies, that cost is things like content creation and personnel, both on-air talent and the people behind the scenes.
Take Netflix for example.
We all know how Netflix was throwing money at the Obamas and producing shows about pregnant men, pedophilic programs featuring underage girls and series featuring tender age drag queens. The truth is that they assumed that train was just going to keep on rolling down the line to increasingly “woke” destinations, and boy, did they ever want to be on that train.
The truth is that progressive, postmodern beliefs - like wokeness - are luxury beliefs with a cost that is only affordable in times of prosperity. They are just signals to the other wokesters that "We belong, and these things are evidence of our street cred!".
For Netflix to keep their street cred valid, they had to dive deeper and deeper into radical subjects, including those that a few years ago would have been considered taboo or simple pornography. The cost of the virtue signaling was attempting to destroy every long-held tradition and social more, as well as obliterating every boundary of propriety and good taste. It was a race to the bottom.
One can certainly question what audience Netflix was targeting.
If you add up the total number of people who claim to be gay, bisexual, gender fluid, transsexual or "other" and it is something less than 5% of the total population of the US, so to whom are the woke marketing their product? 16.5 million sure doesn’t seem much of a sustainable market for a company that pulled down $30 billion in 2021.
So, they must be chasing after those who are not necessarily a member of the 5%, but those who can afford to profess they believe nonsensical things - like a man can be pregnant, or he can be a woman if he just wishes upon a star and believes hard enough.
At least up until now, there was no real downside to their actions. Now that there are, most of the "support" for the progressive agenda appears merely performative. It is by and from people desperate to belong, performing what amounts to their gang initiations…proving they “belong”.
How do I know?
Because displaying such beliefs has no intrinsic value unless you want to join the club. Outside the club, they are worthless.
Now Netflix is (as are other companies) trying to go unwoke in a hurry. This process has nothing to do with morals, largely because they have proven to have none, this is about survival. Real, material losses are being imparted to these clowns.
Luxury beliefs have no place when budgets are tight - losing 2 million subscribers has way to tighten the purse strings, increase pressure and focus the mind. Paying for content that signals you are a “woke” company but nobody watches is out. Making $300 million deals with a former president and his wife are off the table. When the gruel gets thin, buying an expensive Wedgewood bowl to put it in only makes for a nice-looking last meal.
One aspect of his theory I didn’t consider was how the externalities of an economy could have impacts on the nouveau riche and people who pretend to be. I never considered the impact of a downturn in the economy, brought on by people who thought their actions would put them in a stronger position.
All of this has started within the last couple of months with the strong public pushback on the progressive agenda. Given that they have been at this for 50 or so years, that it is falling apart so quickly lets us know how weak they really are.
As our economy weakens, there are going to be even fewer people who will continue to pay 15 bucks a month to have things in which they don't believe rammed down their throats (if you will pardon the unfortunate turn of phrase).
If you are struggling to pay for gas and food, you can’t buy things because there are no things and what savings you have are being eroded every day, transgenderism and CRT aren’t really going to be at the top of your list of immediate concerns.
I understand we on the right want to think that Ron DeSantis’ battle with Disney, the SCOTUS possibly overturning Roe and parents taking over school boards are kicking wokeism in the gonads, but these seem a bit too localized to have caused the broad retreat we are beginning to see.
All those things are right and good, but it might be that the economy is playing a significant role.