Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Daily "Near You?"

Demopolis, Alabama, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

“Keep Calm And Carry On… At Home On Your Couch”

“Keep Calm And Carry On… At Home On Your Couch”
by Mark Manson

"Each week, I throw three interesting ideas at you to hopefully make you a slightly less awful person. This week, we’re talking: 1) managing your mental health while locked down, 2) the importance of long-term visions and goals, and 3) is love still not enough? Let’s get into it.

1. The oncoming mental health crisis - What do you get when you socially isolate hundreds of millions of people, encourage them to stay indoors as much as possible and make it difficult for them to find meaningful work, regular exercise, and healthy nutrition? That’s right, a sh*tload of depressed people.

A lot has been said about the global lockdown’s effect on the economy, but little has been said about the impending mental health crisis we’re all likely going to face in the coming months. I already feel myself slightly cracking every few days, and we’re only a couple weeks in. Imagine three months from now. This past week, I was suffering one of my worst moods since the quarantine started, so I wrote a full article for the site. It’s kind of dark, but it’s also honest and hopefully useful. Please read it. Read: "Surviving the Oncoming Mental Health Crisis"

2. What does the future hold? - These past few weeks, everything is still a bit novel and interesting, but it occurred to me that we’re effectively going to be living in Groundhog Day for the next few months. Sure, right now it’s interesting to compare notes on how our parents are doing or how homeschooling the kids is going. But a month from now? It will be like a bad song stuck on repeat… for months.

Part of the difficulty finding anything else meaningful to talk about is that there is currently no expectation on when this will end or when our lives will revert back to some sense of normalcy. Because there’s so much uncertainty over the next year or two, I’ve found that it’s impossible to set meaningful goals or visions and therefore have other things to hold interest or talk about.

I’ve noticed that these past couple of weeks my thinking has reverted to becoming extremely short-term, only really thinking about making it through the next couple of weeks, days, or even hours. This is probably why I said last week that I feel like I’m in college again. With no long-term accountability on any of us, we revert to simply thinking about what is most pleasing and satisfying moment-to-moment. Ultimately, we need some sort of long-term vision for ourselves to help us navigate the day-to-day decisions, and to give us something meaningful to think and talk about, apart from how many people died yesterday.

So, here’s what I’ve decided: assume the worst. Assume we’re going to be stuck at home for most of the year, then work off of that. I’ve asked myself: if I had eight to nine months where I more or less had to stay home and everything else in my life was cancelled, including socializing, what would I do with that time?

In my case, the most logical answer is to finish the book I’m working on and bang out another one. In normal times, a book takes me roughly a year to write. But that’s when I’m dividing my time between multiple projects, traveling constantly, and drinking too many Old Fashioneds with friends once or twice a week. With the extra bandwidth and tons of free time, another book is totally doable in six to eight months. So, why not do it?

And that’s my new goal. My new north star during this time. I’m going to operate as though that were the case. Because, as I’ve written before, the benefits of goals aren't in achieving them, it’s that they give us direction and meaning. Deciding this for myself has helped me a lot in the past few days and I recommend you give it a try.

3. Love is (still) not enough - Speaking of books, for those who don’t know, I released an Audible Original project about relationships, called "Love is Not Enough." A lot of people have been asking about it, so here’s the quick and dirty:

• It’s roughly seven and a half hours long. Great to listen to while doing housework or avoiding your kids.
• I’d say it’s 70% me having conversations with people about their life problems and 30% me monologuing about important concepts and various lessons.
• It is only in English and only on Audible. There will not be a print version (it’s conversation-based!)
• It will instantly solve all of your relationship problems and anxieties, making you permanently happy forever and ever.
• Okay, that last bullet was a lie, just checking to see if you’re still paying attention.

A lot of readers have emailed me about their struggles from spending so much time with their partners, spouses, kids, and parents. I said this before but I’ll say it again: there’s no better time to shore up your relationship skills than now. After all, if you’re going to be stuck in a house with these people for at least the next three to six months, you better learn how to deal with them.

Early reviews have been raving, which is not always a given. But it makes my writerly-ego sing.  Please check it out: Listen: "Love is Not Enough"

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay sane."

"If We Have No Idea..."

"If we have no idea what we believe in, we'll go along with anything. Truth takes courage. Courage to stand up for what we believe in. Not necessarily in a confrontational way, but in a gentle yet firm way. Like an oak tree, able to sway gently in the wind, but strongly rooted to the ground."
- A.C. Ping

But be prepared...
“Paranoia is just another mask for ignorance. The truth, when you finally
 chase it down, is almost always worse than your darkest visions and fears.” 

- Hunter S. Thompson

"Learn To Distinguish The Difference...""

"Learn to distinguish the difference between errors of knowledge and breaches of morality. An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, provided you are willing to correct it; only a mystic would judge human beings by the standard of an impossible, automatic omniscience. But a breach of morality is the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion of knowledge, a suspension of sight and of thought. That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any break of morality."
- Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged"

"Free Download: Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged"

"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - what would you tell him to do?"
"I... don't know. What could he do? What would you tell him?"
"To shrug."
- Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”
"Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard - the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money - the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law - men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims - then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed."
An excerpt from “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand.
Full text of “Francisco’s Money Speech” is here:
Freely download "Atlas Shrugged", by Ayn Rand, here:

"Untangling the Virus/Depression Mess"

"Untangling the Virus/Depression Mess"
By Bill Bonner

"Hey! This crisis is really getting bad. Did you hear?
 Exxon/Mobil had to lay off 25 congressmen."
– Popular joke

SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – “The worst is behind us,” says an upbeat piece of stock mongering on MarketWatch. Many investors must think so. The Dow closed up more than 1,600 points yesterday. The immediate cause of yesterday’s optimism was that, as President Trump put it, we can now see “light at the end of the tunnel.” The flicker he thought he saw was from the taillights of the COVID-19. Cases in New York, it was reported, seemed to be leveling off.

Maybe the enemy is taking the Holland Tunnel out of town. Maybe not. If the virus is in retreat… it’s because we’ve bombed the hell out of the economy. People trapped in their homes don’t get the virus, but they don’t get or spend money, either. But the whole discussion has become so tangled up, it’s probably time to try to unravel it. What’s the connection between the virus and the economy? If the virus eases up will the economy “take off”? Should stocks go up? Let’s pull out the threads and have a look.

The Four Threads: First, let’s yank on the simplest, and shortest, of the threads: the COVID-19 molecule itself. Is it worse than other seasonal influenzas or other ailments – such as cancer, heart disease, or depression? We don’t know. It depends on what “expert” you listen to.

Second, there is the feds’ reaction to the virus. In a previous era, they would have let nature take its course. Now, they think they are fighting a “war.” Does that make sense?  Sometimes, of course, when the country faces a mortal enemy, it is worth it. But is it worth it now, when the “enemy” is a virus? Again, it depends on whom you talk to.

Third, there’s the economy’s reaction to the feds’ antivirus initiatives. By stopping people from getting or spending, the feds are also stopping the economy. Federal Reserve governor James Bullard warns that unemployment could be higher than during the Great Depression. Is it worth it?

Fourth, there is the feds’ reaction to the economic reaction that their reaction to the virus caused. Even before the virus appeared, it was unclear what was going on. Some people claimed the economy was in great shape, or “in a good place,” as Fed chief Jerome Powell put it. And then, when the virus attacked, the president said the stock market was “starting to look very good,” hinting that investors should buy stocks. And his economic advisor, Kudlow, said the virus was “contained… not airtight, but pretty close to airtight.”

Others, including your editor, saw the U.S. markets as a fragile Humpty Dumpty, sitting high up on a shaky wall. When he fell, we predicted, all the king’s quacks wouldn’t be able to put him back together again. But now that Humpty Dumpty has slipped… let’s look more closely.

Entitlement to Immortality: The COVID-19 thread is dangerous. But it is not likely to be more deadly than other new virus infections, and nothing like the Spanish Flu of 100 years ago. That one killed 50 million people. This one will probably not even kill 10% of that number. It is also not likely to be such a big threat for very long. Humans suffer colds, measles, and traffic accidents. We learn to live with them.

Those who say we shouldn’t allow even a single death are just not thinking clearly. Thirty-seven thousand people die on American highways every year. If we wanted to save them, we would lower the speed limit to 20 m.p.h. We don’t do that because we’re not damned fools. We accept reasonable risks and go on with life. There’s no entitlement to immortality in the Constitution or in the feds’ virus response.

So, how about the feds’ COVID-19 response? Could they have handled it better? Probably. But governments had to react. And – given the way the press had ginned up mob hysteria – over-reactions were inevitable. But shouldn’t government policy be guided by science? Yes… and no. Scientists can measure risks, telling us, for example, how many fewer people would die in traffic accidents if we took the speed limit down to 20 m.p.h. Still, it’s not up to them to tell us if it is “worth it.” Ultimately, the feds have the guns; they’ll make those decisions.

The Final Thread: Most national and local governments simply adopted measures tried elsewhere – social distancing, face masks, and so forth. These led to a drastic cutback in wages… sales… profits… tax revenues… and GDP. Those economic losses are real, and mostly permanent.

If a man misses work one day, that day’s production is gone, forever. He may try to make it up on the morrow, but then he has lost whatever he had planned for that day. A month of idleness equals about 8% of annual GDP. Since real U.S. GDP was growing at only 2% a year, a month of shutdown is an immediate recession. Two months is a depression. Like it or not, that’s what the feds have wrought. We will be poorer as a result. In a better world, we would accept it gracefully and get back to work as soon as possible. But in the world we live in no matter how big a calamity has befallen us, the feds can make it worse.

We have no real beef with COVID-19. It is what it is. And we have no real beef with the feds’ attempts to deal with the virus. We don’t know that we would have done better. Where we begin to quake and moan is when we look more closely at this final thread – the feds’ reaction to the damage they have done. 

As we will explore tomorrow, the feds’ money-printing is so obviously preposterous… so self-evidently harmful… so childishly stupid, it is leading us to a much bigger disaster. But at least it’s not boring! Pelosi, Trump, Kudlow, Schumer, Navarro… It’s like watching a group of chimpanzees at the controls of a nuclear plant. It’s amusing. But we’re sure it will end badly. Stay tuned…"

"How It Really Is"

"The Lockdown Wouldn't Be So Devastating If Our Economy Wasn't So Rigged, Brittle and Exploitive"

"The Lockdown Wouldn't Be So Devastating If Our
 Economy Wasn't So Rigged, Brittle and Exploitive"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"What's remarkable about the lockdown isn't the hue and cry about the economic damage - it's the absence of any critical curiosity as to how our economy became so fragile that only the wealthiest contingent can survive a few weeks on savings or rainy-day funds. A healthy, resilient economy would be able to survive a few weeks of lockdown without a multi-trillion dollar bailout of every racket in the land. A society that wasn't threadbare financially and socially would be able to function and accept individual sacrifices for the common good.

Rather than being organized to serve the common good, our economy and social order is little more than overlapping rackets: rigged "markets" operated by quasi-monopolies to enrich the few at the expense of the many; brittle bureaucracies bound by thousands of pages of mindless "compliance" and exploitive neofeudal structures in which debt-serfs are paid just enough to service their debt but not enough to afford skyrocketing costs for housing, healthcare, higher education, childcare, junk fees and taxes.

While everyone is busy screaming about the damage done by the lockdown, nobody's asking why costs are so high that few can survive a few weeks on their own means. Nobody dares look at the soaring costs imposed by cartels and monopolies (including government and government-funded rackets such as healthcare and higher education) because it might shine a light on the money-trough they're feeding from. (Crush every racket but mine...)

If costs weren't so crushing, more households and enterprises might have savings. Empires don't collapse because everyone ran out of money; they collapse when the costs exceed earnings. Put another way, the skyrocketing costs of self-serving sclerotic complexity, a.k.a. convoluted inefficiencies imposed by institutions which lack any accountability, far exceed the gains in productivity and resource mining needed to pay for the productivity-draining complexity.

As for innovation - please don't make us laugh. All the rackets work overtime to avoid being disrupted by the forces of productivity and transparency. Just look at higher education: all the technology was available a decade ago to radically reduce the costs of effective education, (as I outlined in my 2012 book "The Nearly Free University"), but the higher education cartel fought to maintain its monopoly on credentials, squandering hundreds of billions of dollars on layers of administrators and self-glorifying buildings.

I've been explaining "How Healthcare Is Dooming the U.S. Economy" for years. Now it's becoming too obvious to deny. "Sickcare Will Bankrupt the Nation" (March 21, 2011).

Just as Wall Street destroyed the private-sector mortgage market by financializing it, healthcare has been destroyed by Corporate America's financialization of what was once for the common good, turning it into a hollowed-out profit machine for the few at the expense of the luckless serfs who have no choice but to serve the Financial Nobility. (You can pick any health insurer you want -but there's only two, heh, and their prices are the same: Kafkaesque in their opaque complexity, and high enough to bankrupt all but the wealthiest.)

An economy of rackets designed to enrich the few at the expense of the many is brittle because self-serving rackets snuff out competition, accountability and transparency. As I noted in "The Convergence of Marx, Orwell and Kafka" (July 25, 2012), Marx understood that predatory, parasitic Monopoly Capitalism melts any social norms that restrict its dominance into air, while Kafka understood that the the more powerful and entrenched the bureaucracy, the greater the collateral damage rained on the innocent, and the more extreme the perversion of justice.

Orwell understood that the State's ontological imperative is expansion, to the point where it controls every level of governance, markets and society. Once the State escapes the control of the citizenry, it is free to exploit them in a parasitic predation that is the mirror-image of Monopoly Capital. For what is the State but a monopoly of force, coercion, data manipulation and the neofeudal enforcement of crony-capitalist private monopolies on powerless serfs?

Neofeudal exploitation has hollowed out the economy, leaving a fragile, brittle shell of rackets, self-serving cartels and institutions that have squandered the public's trust in their greedy rush to accumulate as much private wealth as they can before the whole rotten corrupt structure collapses under its own weight."

"Economic Market Snapshot AM 4/7/20"

AM 4/7/20, Updated as Available.

"The more I see of the moneyed classes, 
the more I understand the guillotine."
- George Bernard Shaw
Perfect storm: "A perfect storm is an event in which a rare combination of circumstances drastically aggravates the event. The term is used by analogy to an unusually severe storm that results from a rare combination of meteorological phenomena." Coronavirus consequences precipitate total global economic collapse...
“This Is What Economic Collapse Looks Like”


Gregory Mannarino, AM 4/7/20
"The WCB Is Buying Everything! 
Stocks Set For Monster Open"
 - https://traderschoice.net/
MarketWatch Market Summary, Live Updates

CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:
Daily Job Cuts, Updated daily.
04/07/2020 - 05:30: "The Whole World's F**ked!" - Raoul Pal Pulls No Punches In Latest Interview" "Listen, this is the biggest economic event of all of our lifetimes - and it's coming," he added. "And that was, in retrospect, the greatest call I've ever had." And now, with stock markets down 20-40% (depending on geography), bond yields collapsed, credit spreads still blown out, oil almost in the teens, and gold topping $1700, Pal continues to think (even after Monday's manic short-squeeze meltup), that COVID-19 will cause "the largest insolvency event in all history." And, as Business Insider notes, given his track record as of late, that's not reassuring. "I think the balance of probabilities are that this is a much longer event - in terms of economic impacts - than anybody is pricing in," he said. I think it's a huge societal change that's coming from all of this. For the average guy, this is a very, very, very difficult world we're going to go into - and I can't sugarcoat it because there is no nice answer."
4/7/20:

Commentary, highly recommended:
And now, the End Game...

"Covid-19 Pandemic, Economy Updates AM 4/7/20"

"Covid-19 Pandemic, Economy Updates AM 4/7/20" 
- Frequently Updated"
Please visit these sites often for the very latest 
Covid-19 Pandemic and Economic news and information.

"It Likely Came From Chinese Biowarfare Lab"

"It Likely Came From Chinese Biowarfare Lab"
by Jim Rickards

"The stock market was up big Monday on news that the COVID-19 outbreak may be slowing in the U.S. That would be good news. But it’s still far too early to draw any conclusions and make no mistake - this crisis has a long way to go. All we can do is wait and hope for the best. Meanwhile, gold topped $1,700 per ounce today. That’s nice for gold, but it’s better understood as an early warning of declining confidence in the dollar. I’ll have much more to write about that in the days ahead.

This is not my first financial crisis, although it’s shaping up to be the worst. I’m a veteran of the October 1987 crash, when markets crashed 22% in one day, the 1994 Tequila Crisis, the 1998 Russia/LTCM crisis (I negotiated the Fed/Wall Street bailout), the 2000 dot-com crash and, of course, the 2008 mortgage-Lehman-AIG meltdown.

These crises have different causes and played out in different ways, but they all have one thing in common - failures of financial firms on the wrong side of the trade. It can be a bank, broker or hedge fund. Whatever the structure, there is always a leveraged player who is betting on a market that happens to be crashing. In 1987, some firms were selling put options when the options went deep in the money.

The First Domino Falls: In 1998, LTCM was short volatility when the price of volatility exploded. In 2008, Lehman had billions in securitized commercial mortgages when real estate crashed. Sooner rather than later, the market losers wash up on the beach like dead whales. And there’s never just one. The first firm that fails is a sign of many more to come. And now, one firm, EJF Capital, has put up “gates” on withdrawal of capital from its flagship credit fund. This does not mean that the fund is bankrupt, but it does mean that investors cannot get their money out as expected. Their money is “locked” in the fund until the manager decides to release it... which could be years away.

Of course, this is bad news for EJF investors, but there’s no need to single them out. Many other funds will do the same thing in the coming days. These failures will keep popping up like poison weeds in a garden. Get ready for more. I’ve warned about this eventuality for years. Now it’s happening. That’s why you should have a sizable allocation of cash. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to access your money if it’s tied up in the financial system during a crisis.

Questions: Meantime, while COVID-19 ravages the world, most officials and everyday citizens are more focused on surviving and on how to stop the spread than on where the virus originated. That’s the right priority. But the origin of the virus cannot be ignored if we want to avoid another, even worse pandemic.

The official Chinese narrative has been that the virus was transmitted from animals to humans through bats and other wildlife available as food in the “wet markets” of Wuhan. (There’s another narrative spouted by some Chinese officials that the virus came from U.S. troops visiting Wuhan. That’s an outright lie and falls into the category of propaganda, but some pro-Chinese U.S. media are reporting that version).

But is the “wet market” theory just another form of propaganda? Why did the Chinese not report the outbreak earlier? Why did the Chinese arrest and detain doctors and nurses who tried to sound the alarm last December? Why did the Chinese destroy the early records of the virus spread and hide other clinical evidence?

Probably Leaked From a Bioweapons Lab: The evidence is mounting that the virus leaked from a biological laboratory in Wuhan. That would be compatible with long-standing Chinese efforts to embrace “asymmetric warfare.” This involves financial, cyber and biological weapons in addition to conventional kinetic weapons such as ships, tanks and planes. In fact, there is a bioweapons laboratory in Wuhan. There are also two other virus laboratories in Wuhan that were working on coronavirus strains. The idea that there are three coronavirus labs in Wuhan and the virus emerged in Wuhan independently is beyond belief. It is almost certainly the case that the virus leaked from one of these labs. The “wet market” story is sheer propaganda.

We’ve all been inundated with the coronavirus propaganda put out by the Communist Party of China. It goes like this: Thanks to the heroic efforts of the Chinese leadership, the virus was contained in Wuhan and a few other cities. Total cases in China were about 82,000 with fatalities of about 3,500. This compares with 315,000 cases in the U.S. and 8,500 fatalities. Things are now almost back to normal in China, while the rest of the world struggles with far worse results. That’s the Chinese narrative. And every part of it is a lie.

Evidence China Is Lying: The Chinese infection rate and number of fatalities were probably 10 times what they reported. Bodies were swept up off the streets of Wuhan and burned in crematoria without counting them in the official numbers. People were captured in nets and dragged to detention centers where many died, also without being counted. Hospital floors were covered in blood, vomit and bodily fluids. Doctors and nurses were traumatized by what they experienced to the point of tears and nightmares.

There’s ample proof that the Chinese are lying. Here’s strong evidence: China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology reported that the number of cellphone users dropped by 21 million in February 2020 compared with November 2019. Cellphone use in China has expanded exponentially for years, but suddenly it dropped by 21 million. This does not mean that 21 million people died. But it allows a reasonable inference that millions either died or were infected or were associated with businesses that closed their doors and discontinued service. Whatever the particulars, it paints an entirely different picture than the 82,000 “official” infections.

When truth is suppressed in one venue, it usually pops up in another. The Chinese Ministry of Industry was not on the front lines of health reporting. They made the mistake of telling the truth. We can draw strong inferences from that. You can bet that the ministry won’t be allowed to make that mistake again. In their next report, they’ll start lying like the rest of the Chinese government.

None of this means that the virus was a bioweapon (it may have been, but there are other medical reasons to study coronavirus). It does not mean that the virus was leaked intentionally. The Chinese are notorious for lack of quality control, so an accidental leak is most likely. Yet a laboratory source would explain China’s strenuous efforts to cover up the origin and push alternative propaganda. U.S. intelligence has confirmed the Chinese lies and cover-up.

Accountability: China needs to be held accountable or this will surely happen again. In any case, the China-U.S. economic relationship will never be the same. It’s not too late to get out of Chinese stocks and China investment. The supply chain is coming home. It was never a good idea to outsource so much critical industry to a nation like China. China is not Canada. But that’s something we’ll have to deal with later. In the meantime, we’re all just trying to survive. Let’s pray that we do, both physically and economically."

Monday, April 6, 2020

Musical Interlude: Michael Franti: "Hey World (Don't Give Up)"

Michael Franti: "Hey World (Don't Give Up)"

"The Coronavirus 'War' Is a Deep State Power Grab"

"The Coronavirus 'War' Is a Deep State Power Grab"
By Bill Bonner

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – "On Friday, we saw the breathtaking madness of both Democrats and Republicans. Donald Trump proposed to spend $2 trillion more… in addition to the $2.2 trillion already committed… and Nancy Pelosi seconded the motion.

Cronies started planning vacation homes. Lobbyists subscribed to yachting magazines. Drug dealers started building up inventories. CEOs breathed easier, with their jobs and bonuses now guaranteed by the feds. And small business… well… they’ll get some crumbs, too. But Big Government looks out for Big Business, not small business. The little guys don’t have the lobbyists to play this game. We remind Dear Readers that all these trillions in new spending will not save a single codger from COVID-19. The fight against the virus is barely a sideshow…

War Fever: In a few months, the dreaded molecule will be just another virus on a long list. But The Swamp will be deeper than ever. After all, when you’re at war… all the resources of the nation are marshalled under the feds’ control. Here’s The Globalist magazine’s senior editor, Uwe Bott: "Restructuring into a (health) war economy. For the next 5-6 months, what remains of the U.S. economy must be completely restructured into a war economy. We don’t need new cars, we need ventilators. We do not need new furniture, we need hospital beds. Again, the list is long… We must fully mobilize our military and reservists to step in in order to fill the gaps of critical personnel that we need to beat this."

And here’s MarketWatch with more on the war fever: "With U.S. borrowing costs at historic lows and people feeling a patriotic urge to do something in the war against a viral outbreak, the hot idea swirling around Washington is coronavirus savings bonds."

Economist Jack Rasmus has more details: "Here’s three ways the U.S. financed and paid for economic war mobilization in 1942-45 and how we can do the same today: Congress in 1942 passed a massive tax increase bill to help fund the war. It followed it up with more tax increase bills in 1943, 1944, and 1945. It then issued victory bonds to help finance further. The U.S. Treasury can do the same today. The U.S. can also run a budget deficit, to be repaid later—again as we did in World War II."

What a bunch of dopes. Wrong about everything. The feds aren’t going to raise taxes; they’re going to cut them. People aren’t going to buy Victory bonds. They’re going to dump their U.S. Treasuries. Investors know they will never be repaid.

Big Swamp Power Grab: As we put it on Friday, this is not a fight against a virus. This is a naked, third world-ish, sh*thole-style money-printing lollapalooza. But what you can get away with in the fog of war! And like so many of America’s wars over the last 100 years, this one is phony. It is just a smokescreen for the insiders to shift more power and wealth to themselves. WWI. Vietnam. Korea. Drugs. Poverty. Terrorism. Now, a protein molecule.

Here’s how it works… First, both the press and the government hype up the threat. The mob becomes hysterical. It hears lurid tales of how evil the enemy is. In WWI, Americans read about the Huns bayonetting babies and mass-raping nuns. None of it was true. In Vietnam, we were told that if the reds weren’t stopped in Da Nang, they’d end up in Detroit. In 1975, we were warned that marijuana would turn us into a nation of heroin addicts. In 2003, we were told that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.”

Then, as the war fever grows, more and more of the nation’s output and energy is shunted towards the war effort. In WWI, auto factories were commandeered to build tanks; now they’re told to build ventilators. The War Against Terror consumed some $5 trillion. The War on Poverty cost $27 trillion, according to a Heritage Foundation estimate.

Finally, new “emergency” legislation gives the feds more power to keep people from challenging the “war” narrative. In 1918, the Sabotage and Sedition Acts allowed the federal government to punish anyone who expressed an opinion that was “disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive.” On this basis, the Post Office stopped delivering anti-war publications.

Passed in the heat of war fever in 2001 (apparently, no member of Congress read it), the Patriot Act gave the government broad, new powers to eavesdrop, seize property, and invade privacy. It was an “emergency” measure… but its worst features are still the law of the land.

And now, a new war… a new hysteria… and another big power grab by the swamp creatures. In little ways and big ones, the feds take more power. Here’s Zero Hedge: "The Senate-approved stimulus bill repeals the sunshine law for the Fed’s meetings until the President says the coronavirus threat is over or the end of the year (spoiler alert: the coronavirus threat will never be over). That could make any FOIA lawsuits to disclose details of what is taking place in Fed meetings a non-starter since it has been codified in a federal law."

Get it? We’re not allowed to know what the Federal Reserve is up to. Because we’re “at war” with a virus?!

Monstrous Absurdity: By the way, these ersatz wars are disasters. The 1919 Armistice led to reparations, which led to hyperinflation, which led to Adolf Hitler. The Vietnam debacle led to the 1971 repudiation of the gold-backed dollar…which led to $20 trillion in trade deficits…which led to the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs…which led to the decline of the U.S. empire…which led to the election of Donald Trump with his MAGA theme…

And now what? The feds lock down the economy… output declines. They also increase the supply of printing-press money. Let’s see… More money… fewer goods and services… Hmmm… what does that sound like to you? Inflation! After 40 years of falling yields and dropping inflation rates… consumer price inflation would be just the kind of curve ball you might expect. And it’s coming…

Homeowners: Hold onto those low-interest, long-term mortgages. Investors: Switch to hard assets… gold, silver, oil, land. Everyone: Prepare for lower living standards, chaos, and monstrous absurdity. Stay tuned…"

"And Yet..."

"Life is given for wisdom, and yet we are not wise;
for goodness, and we are not good; 
for overcoming evil, and evil remains; 
for patience and sympathy and love, 
and yet we are fretful and hard and weak and selfish.
We are keyed not to attainment, but to the struggle toward it."
- T. T. Munger

Free Download: Friedrich Nietzsche, "'Thus Spoke Zarathustra"

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does 
not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, 
the abyss will gaze back into you."
 - Friedrich Nietzsche

"'Thus Spoke Zarathustra" is the classic full text work by Friedrich Nietzsche. The book is considered among his most well-known and important works. The book is a dense and esoteric treatise on philosophy and philosophy, featuring as a fictionalized prophet descending from his recluse to mankind, Zarathustra. 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra" also contains the famous dictum “God is dead.
Freely download "Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book For All And None” here:
“We work in the dark. We do what we can to battle with the evil that would otherwise destroy us. But, a man’s fate is defined as not a choice but a calling. Yet sometimes the weight of this burden causes us to falter, breaching the fragile fortress of our mind, allowing the monsters without to turn within and we are left alone, staring into the abyss… into the laughing face of madness.”
- “Fox Mulder”, “The X-Files”

Musical Interlude: Philip Wesley, “The Approaching Night”

Philip Wesley, “The Approaching Night”

We Are All. Free. To Do. Whatever. We Want. To Do."

We Are All. Free. To Do. Whatever. We Want. To Do."

"We are all free to do whatever we want to do,” he said that night. “Isn’t that simple and clean and clear? Isn’t that a great way to run a universe?” “Almost. You forgot a pretty important part,” I said. “Oh?” “We are all free to do what we want to do, as long as we don’t hurt somebody else,” I chided. “I know you meant that, but you ought to say what you mean.”

There was a sudden shambling sound in the dark, and I looked at him quickly. “Did you hear that?” “Yeah. Sounds like there’s somebody...” He got up, walked into the dark. He laughed suddenly, said a name I couldn’t catch. “It’s OK,” I heard him say. “No, we’d be glad to have you... no need you standing around... come on, you’re welcome, really...”

The voice was heavily accented, not quite Russian, nor Czech, more Transylvanian. “Thank you. I do not wish to impose myself upon your evening...” The man he brought with him to the firelight was, well, he was unusual to find in a midwest night. A small lean wolflike fellow, frightening to the eye, dressed in evening clothes, a black cape lined in red satin, he was uncomfortable in the light.

“I was passing by,” he said. “The field is a shortcut to my house...” “Is it?” Shimoda did not believe the man, knew he was lying, and at the same time did all he could to keep from laughing out loud. I hoped to understand before long.

“Make yourself comfortable,” I said. “Can we help you at all?” I really didn’t feel that helpful, but he was so shrinking, I did want him to be at ease, if he could. He looked on me with a desperate smile that turned me to ice. “Yes, you can help me. I need this very much or I would not ask. May I drink your blood? Just some? It is my food, I need human blood...”

Maybe it was the accent, he didn’t know English that well or I didn’t understand his words, but I was on my feet quicker than I had been in many a month, hay flying into the fire from my quickness. The man stepped back. I am generally harmless, but I am not a small person and I could have looked threatening. He turned his head away. “Sir, I am sorry! I am sorry! Please forget that I said anything about blood! But you see...”

“What are you saying?” I was the more fierce because I was scared. “What in the hell are you saying, mister? I don’t know what you are, are you some kind of VAM-?” Shimoda cut me off before I could say the word. “Richard, our guest was talking, and you interrupted. Please go ahead, sir; my friend is a little hasty.” “Donald,” I said, “this guy...” “Be quiet!” That surprised me so much that I was quiet, and looked a sort of terrified question at the man, caught from his native darkness into our firelight.

“Please to understand. I did not choose to be born vampire. Is unfortunate. I do not have many friends. But I must have a certain small amount of fresh blood every night or I writhe in terrible pain, longer than that without it and I cannot live! Please, I will be deeply hurt - I will die - if you do not allow me to suck your blood... just a small amount, more than a pint I do not need.” He advanced a step toward me, licking his lips, thinking that Shimoda somehow controlled me and would make me submit.

“One more step and there will be blood, all right. Mister, you touch me and you die...” I wouldn’t have killed him, but I did want to tie him up, at least, before we talked much more. He must have believed me, for he stopped and sighed. He turned to Shimoda. “You have made your point?” “I think so. Thank you.”

The vampire looked up at me and smiled, completely at ease, enjoying himself hugely, an actor on stage when the show is over. “I won’t drink your blood, Richard,” he said in perfect friendly English, no accent at all. As I watched he faded as though he was turning out his own light... in five seconds he had disappeared.

Shimoda sat down again by the fire. “Am I ever glad you don’t mean what you say!” I was still trembling with adrenalin, ready for my fight with a monster. “Don, I’m not sure I’m built for this. Maybe you’d better tell me what’s going on. Like, for instance, what... was that?”

“Dot was a wompire from Tronsylwania,” he said in words thicker than the creature’s own. “Or to be more precise, dot was a thought-form of a wompire from Tronsylwania. If you ever want to make a point, you think somebody isn’t listening, whip ‘em up a little thought-form to demonstrate what you mean. Do you think I overdid him, with the cape and the fangs and the accent like that? Was he too scary for you?”

“The cape was first class, Don. But that was the most stereotyped, outlandish... I wasn’t scared at all.” He sighed. “Oh well. But you got the point, at least, and that’s what matters.”

“What point?” “Richard, in being so fierce toward my vampire, you were doing what you wanted to do, even though you thought it was going to hurt somebody else. He even told you he’d be hurt if...”

“He was going to suck my blood!” “Which is what we do to anyone when we say we’ll be hurt if they don’t live our way.”

I was quiet for a long time, thinking about that. I had always believed that we are free to do as we please only if we don’t hurt another, and this didn’t fit. There was something missing.

“The thing that puzzles you,” he said, “is an accepted saying that happens to be impossible. The phrase is hurt somebody else. We choose, ourselves, to be hurt or not to be hurt, no matter what. Us who decides. Nobody else. My vampire told you he’d be hurt if you didn’t let him? That’s his decision to be hurt, that’s his choice. What you do about it is your decision, your choice: give him blood; ignore him; tie him up; drive a stake of holly through his heart. If he doesn’t want the holly stake, he’s free to resist, in whatever way he wants. It goes on and on, choices, choices.”

“When you look at it that way...”

“Listen,” he said, “it’s important. We are all. Free. To do. Whatever. We want. To do."
“Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah”
by Richard Bach
“Born in 1936, Richard Bach is an American author who has written many excellent books. His quotes are inspirational and motivational. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull;” “Illusions;” “The Bridge Across Forever;” to name only a few of his books.

Notice: This electronic version of the book has been released for educational purposes only. You may not sell or make any profit from this book. And if you like this book, buy a paper copy and give it to someone who does not have a computer, if that is possible for you.

FREE download of "Illusions", in PDF format, is here: