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Culture in Decline - Episode #2 - Economics 101

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- Modest preemptive actions can obviate the need of more drastic actions at a later date. - You think that you've been taught things like confidence intervals in an elementary statistical course that would let you do this; but if you really studied carefully, you'd know that they don't let you do this. A really principled frequentist can't produce a probability distribution... - The conclusion we want to point out when we think about valuation is the fact that means are scarce. I alluded to this already that as finite beings we can't will our ends to be attained. - A statistical description of the government's net-of-interest surplus. - ...deflation, I think that yields could drop to say, less than 1% on the 10 years and less than 2% on the 30 years... - ...that would effectively be a takeover of monetary policy by the Congress. - Oh, hello! Daunting, right? Might even make you feel stupid. Perhaps it's no wonder then, while even with the ongoing economic failures across the world: inequality, increasing poverty, debt collapse, bank failures, unemployment rising, very few today seem to be able to understand, let alone discuss, modern economics, outside, of course, the delegation game where the only attempted solutions people know is the mere shifting around of the deck chairs on the Titanic, assuming some new politician, central bank policy, or corporate legislation is going to save the day. Some years back, after coming to the conclusion that our politicians, legislators, and established authorities just might be provably incompetent when it comes to the truly intelligent management of our society, I started to look for questions and answers on my own, asking those questions about things that many today either seem to take for granted, ignore or even worse, assume that they have no capacity or business investigating at all, since our credentialed authorities in control must be smarter, more informed. It's a sad staple of modern culture, you know, the old "Relax, turn on the TV, keep going into debt, and pump out a bunch of kids while you're at it," but most importantly, keep showing up at those jobs which you have likely already fooled yourself into believing serve some legitimate social role. Remember, the 1% of the world that owns 40% of the planet's wealth did not get that way with you understanding how the world really works. Nevertheless, and such cynicism aside (I'm sorry), I decided that I needed to start again, if you will, and ask some fundamental questions about stuff most have simply written off and forgotten. If you were to take a poll today of our species, asking what truly are the most fundamental questions that pertain to human survival and prosperity, such as, I don't know, what really supports human life, how food grows, what energy is, what creates and reinforces good public health, what defines a useful or detrimental belief system, you can rest assured, that the vast majority would have more concrete answers about baseball statistics, fashion trends, sitcom plots, and religious scriptures. Not to demean the cultural pleasures and creativity of expression that creates enjoyment in this life, but we have a distortion of priority that has proven incredibly detrimental to the future of our sustainability on this planet, where the majority facing clear mounting problems not only doesn't understand what the root of such problems really are, they don't even know what questions to ask; and today, there is no greater destructive ignorance at hand, than the vastly delusional concept known as modern economics. It is in this fundamental context that I found the most interest. What is an economy? Where does its foundational premise come from? What are we relating to exactly? How is societal organization finding a benchmark for itself? Is there a benchmark? What are we doing? Why does the discussion of this subject appear to be so elitist in its vocabulary and orientation? Is it really that complicated? I became so tired of being called ignorant of the subject by self-proclaimed experts I've challenged, I decided to take it upon myself to read the entire macro-economics curriculum of Harvard University from the undergraduate to the PhD level, along with all the staples of influence: F.A. Hayek, John Maynard Keynes, Ludwig von Mises; and I'll tell you what, I'm really glad I did because I had some very poor judgments that needed correction, not so much regarding my views about economics, but that life is short, and I wasted an enormous, unforgivable amount of time reading this outdated, overly-intellectualized gibberish. [Glass Breaking] Ah, shit! Bob, would you take care of that please? The fuse panel. Be careful man, it's not... [Explosion][Bob screaming] As the following episode will detail, modern economics is not true economics at all. It's a mere ideological philosophy, built upon a series of presuppositions that have been given the illusion of permanence. There is absolutely no relationship to the scientific integrity of our knowledge of the environment built into this model. The monetary-market system of religious belief is at the core of the vast majority of ecological and social imbalance we see in the world today. Sadly, it is in the face of normality, so many look past it. We might begin to see that this principal notion and practice is truly a problem in society, and to me, it is at the heart of a culture in decline. From the creator of the zeitgeist film trilogy comes the worse reality show of all time the real one GMP Films presents Culture In Decline with your guide, Peter Joseph. Earth: Curious little ball of rock, gas and water, isn't it? Hard to believe this little bubble of chemical elements floating in space, basically powered by the sun, could give rise to our colorful, yet rather troubling super-monkey species, a species often appearing pretty serious in its interest to destroy its habitat, though I should say pretty serious in its interest to destroy itself. - What is democracy? - It's got something to do with young men killing each other, I believe. - Excuse me a second. Bob, what the hell was that? The cut away, it wasn't funny. It was just depressing. Couldn't you find some guy shooting a bottle rocket out of his ass or something? You know what our demographic is and the point of the show, right? Okay, well please. Anyway, perhaps our immaturity is just a phase, a tragically comedic rite of passage, no different than children that need to be burned by a hot stove in order to realize they shouldn't touch it, or what the physics behind it may be. Nevertheless, the history and characteristics of this little orb can be scientifically described with a good deal of accuracy: A couple of billion years old now, a composite of gas and dust that resulted mostly from a large chemical reaction long ago, likely an exploding star or supernova; and over millions of years this dust clustered into relatively big chunks of rock, a pronounced gravitational field emerged, our chemical elements were slowly reorganized, and conditions emerged to enable water and an atmosphere, which is what bred the first single-celled organisms; and so went the slow process of mutation into the very amusing circumstance we have today: us. Of course, you are free to believe whatever creation story you like: a rib from Adam, alien cross pollination, primordial ooze. At the end of the day, the utility of such knowledge is quite small. In fact, our little monkey brains might never have a complete picture of something so complex. Yet what we do know is that the universe is governed by laws, not moral or religious laws, but laws that were around long before we ever evolved a brain to understand them. Laws that very clearly point out that we either adapt to them and respect them, or we suffer the consequences. Such is the true face of God: the Laws of Nature. In many ways, the history of our universe is the history of our understanding of it, and we have come a long way as a species with respect to how we organize our lives around these rules. Likely the best example of this adaptation, or in many ways lack thereof, is how we think about economy, the foundation of our social survival. Many thousands of years ago, our super-monkey brethren began to discover how to engage nature. We went from being completely at the mercy of the habitat, gathering our food with some hunting, living and migrating around the natural seasonal regeneration, to an agricultural revolution, learning how to cultivate food, create ever [more] sophisticated tools to ease labor and in effect, learn how to mimic nature itself. In fact, this new awareness and ever-increasing understanding to harness the processes of nature to our advantage is what has led to the vast technological innovation we see today. If nature is doing something, odds are we can understand how through these dynamic scientific principles, from artificial intelligence today which works to emulate actual neurological processes, to molecular engineering which uses the atomic logic to manually recreate material objects. And now, ever-important blood shifting erectile dysfunction drugs, which if you have being watching TV recently, must be the most epidemic health crisis in the Western world today. Since this revolution, human society became less nomadic, slowly merging into cities, and systems of labor specialization began to rise along with means for exchange. Barter is a common example. You need some eggs? Maybe give some firewood you chopped up in exchange for the dairy farmer's work. Yet, such practices became cumbersome and impractical after a while; so the idea of using some rare fancy rocks, like gold and silver as a medium of exchange, eased these transactions through a system of pricing goods in terms of their relative value. This gave birth to what we know today as the adjustable price system which, through the public's aggregate patterns of exchange and production, creates a crude, yet semi-workable logic where the prices of goods reflect the balance of supply and demand, otherwise known as the market or market value. Let me explain. When you stumble into the mall and buy the 85th generation iPoop 4G mp3 colostomy-bag camera phone waffle maker, you are creating economic signal information that is used to calculate demand, local and regional preferences, and other resulting data in concert with the millions of other impulsive consumers who, having also likely bought the 84th generation just two months prior for twice the price, creates an aggregate flow of input data and feedback that allows for an ostensibly rational regulation of resource allocation, production, distribution, labor requirements, and of course price consensus in the market based on perceived supply and demand, not to mention the general data of how the marketing team can screw you over even more later on. This mechanism is partly what the ultimate high priest of our current economic religion, Adam Smith, was alluding to with his 'invisible hand' notion of causality in the free market. And in many ways he was on to something. It does work in a limited context and a crude way. In fact, in the 1920's an economist named Ludwig von Mises put forward the still high-standing claim that without the price mechanism economic calculation and rational resource allocation and general organization would be impossible. He called it 'The Economic Calculation Problem'. However things are much different today than they were 200 years ago when Adam Smith published his 'Wealth of Nations' or when Ludwig von Mises made his criticism of central planning. The fact is the argument has changed. The economic debate now is what is actually sustainable and progressive for the human species, not to mere mechanics of the movement of the money. While it is true the price system might allow for the basic calculation of supply and demand data, to help rationally allocate labor, preference, distribution and the like, it ignores the real operational factors that relate to true, efficient earthly management hence the true definition of economy which is: optimized efficiency on all levels. For instance, there is no consideration for optimum resource allocation based on the material's most efficient purpose. Rational allocation of resources is not rational if the most conducive use of those natural materials, scientifically, is not directly considered and brought into comparison. [REJECTED] There is no consideration for the organizational efficiency of technical production itself, and all you have to do is analyze the waste machine of globalization to see this insanity at work. There is also no consideration for regeneration needs or recycling protocols: a true requirement for responsible rational resource use on a finite planet, nor is there any true production or distribution efficiency in any optimized scientific sense as such a means is, as will be described more so in a moment, also counter to the inherent logic of the market system itself. These, coupled with many other serious parameters needed for a truly efficient economy, are simply ignored or, even worse, assumed to be inherent to the price mechanism's function when they clearly are not. You see, the price mechanism's concept of efficiency translates the subjective mass interaction of consumers into the narrow assessments of regional demand, production and distribution. It has nothing to do with how or why the methods of industry are what they are. Such factors are left up to the whim of the producers operating for profit alone, completely decoupling from the natural regulation of scientific principles of sustainability. Aww, man! You see, at the core of 'The Economic Calculation Problem' is really the argument that we are completely irrational, that we can't possibly be organized in a way that is structurally efficient; we are too insane, essentially. Therefore, we have to have a general economic anarchy to organize our society and there's no other way around it. (*Bullshit!*) Again, today is very different than it was prior, and a quick review of modern computer programming and systems engineering will tell you that not only can the algorithmic intelligence of our sensory and measurement technology today, coupled with synergistic computer calculation, orient all the previously existing factors taken into account by the price mechanism as we know it, the truly relevant yet missing factors for optimal efficiency and sustainability could be brought into the equation. This would be the making of a true economic calculation for industry, not the crude truncated data put forward by price alone. So, coming back to our household, the Earth, what is this thing really? It's a system, a system of symbiotic laws. At the core of all principles of sustainability is recognition of the largest order system we can find, for reference. The price mechanism on the other... (crash) Bob, what was that? Jesus Christ, Louie! Bob, why didn't you tell me Louie was here already? Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special guest here on Culture in Decline, our local logic guru, Louie-the-Logic Gremlin. Louie has a severe impatience for anything illogical, and he works to... OK. Bob, you've got to get the goddamn Demo-Publican back in his cage or Louie is going to freak out... Oh, shit! Cut the camera! (Technical difficulties, please stand by) Sorry about that ladies and gentlemen. As I mentioned, Louie here gets a little frustrated when it comes to anything illogical and the Demo-Publican is sort of his mortal enemy. Anyway, Louie, since we have you here, I want to ask you a few questions. Is the free market actually a good basis for sustainability for the human species? Absolutely not. The free-market model holds no logical basis in the modern day since its frame of reference is decoupled from the regulatory awareness of physical science. The premise is outdated and dangerous. Well, what about infinite wants and human needs? How do we calculate such complexity? Infinite wants and the idea that humans are too complex or incompatible for a designed, environmentally efficient economy, is mostly propaganda and delusion. Historical reflections of human collective behavior show deep adaptability and if you people were not so manipulated by advertising; living in a consumption- growth economic model, your needs and wants would be very different. Your values are simply distorted. Humanity needs to base its "wants" on the scientific principles of sustainability. True economic calculation in this sense would also reveal how an abundance on earth for all human needs is possible today. The reason your world has 3 billion people starving and in deprivation is a result of monetary calculation - not scientific calculation. The price system is a faulty calculation. And remember, human freedom is a romantic illusion. Humans have never had any true freedom when it comes to the order of nature. Either you align or you suffer. Thank you very much Louie, I appreciate that. Well, there you have it, folks. However, logic aside, opinions about our economic system range dramatically. So, to gain some public consensus on the issue, we now go live to our New York 'Culture In Decline' correspondent, Big Scotty D, who is live on Wall Street. Thank you, Peter. This is Scotty D, in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Today we're here in New York City just to try to talk to some people on the street and find out a little bit about what's going on in the world perception of economics. Culture In Decline: Man On the Street Sir, do you want to talk about the economy? Would you like to talk about the economy? Would you like to talk about the economy? I really suck at this, but I don't think people want to talk about economy either. (I just talked to my supervisor and he told me you can't do that here.) Oh... However, there was one guy who was willing to talk to me. What do you feel is the definition of economics? Standing here in front of Wall Street, I'm just curious. What do you think economics is? Well, I would say that economics is, is really just just based on money, the things that's going on, you know, from over here by Wall Street. It's just money that makes the system ... generate throughout NY city and for everybody in the world. But it's just mainly a money thing, which makes the world go round. I know what you are thinking. You're thinking "What is this guy talking about?!" But in reality, he probably knows as much about economics as I know about interviewing people on the street. And, seems like most of us really don't know what the economy is all about anyway. Back to you, Peter. *Man On The Streets* Is it me or have you noticed that there is more for sale in the world than ever before, and I'm not referring to goods in your local store. Today, the market rationale is that everything is for sale and nothing is sacred. Need some cash? Why don't you rent out your forehead to commercial advertising? Or better yet, why don't you buy the life insurance policy of your elderly neighbor, and when she dies you can get nice payout? Yep, it's legal! Or maybe it's the little things that make you happy. So, rather than put that blow-up doll in your car to use the car pool lane, just buy it, like you can in Minneapolis. Or maybe you have an itch to slaughter that endangered black rhino in Africa. Well, you can. Costs you about $150,000, but hey, it's there. '150, boy, I can't wait to eat that rhino!' Or more seriously, maybe your kids are not excelling well in school. Well, the market has a solution. Pay them! Pay them to read and get good grades, like they do in Dallas, Texas. But perhaps that is overkill, because by the time they hit college age most prestigious universities will look the other way for admission once a nice hefty donation is made for that new library wing. Want to serve your country, but are tired of all those pesky UN war rules and poor pay? Just join the growing legion of private military contractors who are slowly replacing the US military in general. Or how about love? Need a date, but don't want to wade through all the fog? Women will now go on dates with the highest bidder on some dating sites. Forget chatting, just fork out a couple hundred bucks to entice the woman of your choice to allow you to pay for her dinner. I am sure it will be a long lasting relationship. Or perhaps most important, does your business need a law passed to secure profits? Well, just hire a lobbyist to influence Congress! As the prior episode of Culture In Decline denoted, there is nothing in the political and legal spectrum that is not clearly for sale. In fact, why do you think the court system allows most offenses to be cleared with monetary funds? But even if you do something really bad and you are stuck in jail don't fret, because in some cases you can about pay 80 bucks a night for a nice upgrade to a clean quiet jail cell in a nice area of the prison. You name it, you can buy it, and nothing is sacred. 143 years after the passage of the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery and the slave trade worldwide, there are today more slaves than anytime in human history, trafficking about 30 million for various profit schemes. But, what about ethics, you might ask? Well, what about it? Ethics and morality continue to be redefined by the economic ethos of the day, and when a Wall Street trader makes millions of dollars betting against the currency and hence prosperity of another country, I can assure you he is sleeping like a baby at night, and why shouldn't he? He is simply doing what is rewarded and reinforced by the economic system-at-large. The market's inherent psychology has nothing to do with anything except its own perpetuation. When you hear politicians tell you that they are invading some poor country to bring freedom and democracy, you need to understand what those words really imply. The freedom they bring is market freedom, and the democracy that they bring is the democracy of purchasing power: the freedom of using money for influence, the freedom to, in fact, restrict the freedom of others. However, let's get back to this technical stuff. Putting aside the distortion of market rationale that now puts everything for sale, putting aside the false premise that the price mechanism actually properly calculates the true attributes of a sustainable and efficient economic practice, and putting aside the basic value system disorder radiating out of the overall basis of unfolding, let's now take a little quiz. Welcome to modern Economics 101. Question 1: If you lived on a planet with finite resources and an expanding population, would you encourage an economy based on the need for growth and consumption to keep everything going? Correct answer: No. The fact that our economy literally requires constant consumption and growth to keep GDP afloat and people employed is the hallmark of not an economy, but an anti-economy. Question 2: If you were a producer would you make goods to be as durable and adaptable as possible given the finite nature of resources and an interest to maximize labor productivity? Answer: Yes. Today it's the opposite, and not only are all goods inferior the moment they are made due to the cost-efficiency needs for corporations to remain competitive, most companies also engage in what is called planned obsolescence which deliberately reduces good quality to encourage repeat purchases for more profit. Question 3: If you were a socio-economic planner, would you encourage everyone to buy one of everything, hoarding that personal property, protectively, even though many goods are used infrequently? Answer: No. That would be inefficient. The reality that goods are only as relevant as their use would be realized and hence a system of shared access, not blind restrictive universal ownership, would be the most rational manner of unfolding. Question 4: What about incentive? Would you push a cut-throat, competitive environment where everyone it is out for themselves or their little group? Correct answer: No. Knowing what we know today about the competitive mentality and how it creates abuse, along with the reality that collaboration and the sharing of information is truly the driver of progress on the social level, competition would be seen as the most limiting of arrangements as a philosophical practice. Question 5: What would be the basis for reward today? Would you require every human to submit to each other for labor as to achieve the means for survival? No. That would be crude and counter-productive, given the state of technology. Modern technical capacity has the ability to increase productivity beyond anything known in human history, not to mention secure more safety and efficiency in general. To push human labor for income in the face of this tool for vast improvement is just absurd. Final thoughts: If we were to take a step back and reflect upon how our human family is behaving across the world today, from Western materialism to Islamic extremism, from nuclear war to necrophilia, we are faced with a dark, yet extremely entertaining reality. The very real fact [is] that we are monkeys in the wild, barely out of the jungle on this planet in the words of the late, great George Carlin, inching out of the Dark Ages, in fact, from a period of deep fear and confusion with respect to who we are, what we are doing, how we relate to each other, not to mention how we relate to the habitat that spawned us. On one side of the spectrum we have a vast spectacle of human conceit: stubborn ignorance, so much so that if you are like me, sometimes you wonder why we should try at all. That maybe this species deserves everything it gets and its fate as an evolutionary cul-de-sac, a failed genetic mutation, might be an ideal hope for this universe. Cynicism aside however, it's easy to see that there is a growing change in the minority which will slowly become majority if we let it. An awakening is happening, an awakening where people have stopped imposing their traditional ideals and various ideological baggage on the world, and instead are starting to listen, listening to what the tools of our ingenuity have afforded us, listening to the message of nature itself. If there is any context which needs a serious intervention with respect to the natural laws that govern us, if there is any context where we need to simply pay attention, prepare to drop all of our prior assumptions and change accordingly, it is in the economic context. Economics is not just some arbitrary abstraction for processing and distributing resources. It is an underlying value molder that programs us into modes of behavior that extend into all areas of our psychology. It is the active global religion whether people like it or not, and for those of us that wish to see reason triumph over dogma, we have a long, long road ahead. Advocates of the free-market model of economics will tell you that there is no other system possible to calculate society, that the competitive basis is the only way to incentivize our primitive culture. They will tell you that reduced economic interference of government is the key to preserving the true integrity of the market economy and also preserve our so-called liberty, which they say would be quickly corrupted as tyranny and oppression must occur if any type of collaborative, designed economic practice was applied. They talk of the 'true' free market: a utopian ideal that claims the invisible hand, if allowed to run without interference, would alleviate the poverty, deprivation, abuse, corruption, conflict and inefficiency so common in the world today. Well, as with all religions, delusion is common, because today the market is actually more free than ever with the state being nothing more than a parent corporation working to assist its commercial subsidiaries which support it. Everything is for sale, and no one is accountable. All natural laws and physical realities that would comprise the basis for true technical earthly efficiency and awareness and reasoning that, if allowed, can literally transform the world into a place with vast abundance and prosperity never before seen, have been buried and dismissed, only to be overshadowed by a certain kind of efficiency, market efficiency, an efficiency that tracks money and money alone, an efficiency that is literally decoupled from everything that supports and secures life itself, an efficiency that is circular in its reasoning as it has no recognition of the physical laws of nature, the laws of nature, which are, in fact, the only real true government and regulatory system that has or will ever exist. But then again, who is to say it matters? Maybe we should all just take it in stride. Maybe this reality show of humankind, this satirical tragic parody of itself, to be sure, doing all it knows, maybe this is the way it is and our brains, our genes are messed up, and we are just waiting for the final laugh track when Spaceship Earth slams into that psychological brick wall. I guess time will tell. And until then, sit back, grab some popcorn and keep watching the greatest reality show of all time. And until next time, I am Peter Joseph, an agent and victim of a Culture in Decline. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity - in all this vastness - there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. - Carl Sagan Some footage in this production is unlicensed, via 'fair use' copyright code. Just try and sue us. Would you like to talk about the economy?

Video Details

Duration: 33 minutes and 11 seconds
Year: 2012
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: GMP Films
Director: Peter Joseph
Views: 1,916
Posted by: ltiofficial on Oct 2, 2012

Peter Joseph's "Economics 101" deals with the subject of
Economic Calculation, Market Rationale and its effects, along with
considerations of the Scientific Principles of Sustainability.
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