Friday, March 14, 2014

#57.1 Perspective

I didn't even know that alternative currencies existed in 2010. I had never heard of E. C. Riegel. A year later I heard Laurence Gilbert on the radio and shortly thereafter dug into Riegel's works. My reaction was astonishment. This was easily the most daring economic thought I had ever read. I had spent the greater part of the past 25 years working within the financial system. All that time I was seeking to understand what made the system fail, thinking that there must exist somewhere effective rational remedies to an aged but vital system.

Well of course, I was mistaken. Riegel was clearly telling me, from the grave, from a time corresponding to my infancy and the time of the post-war period; that No, the present system couldn't be fixed. One could however try to set up an alternative monetary system that would be based on some fixed measure of value, although he'd have hated to have it put exactly that way, because he was fussy concerning a proper definition of money. This alternative monetary system could run in parallel with the existing one until such time as “public” money imploded as it inevitably does, and takes the present banking and financial system with it. Then the alternative monetary system would be left standing and people would use it as their mainstay. To me, it was a radical proposal.

I found the lengths Riegel went to describe the paperwork, the val-dol checks, all the rest, to be incredibly cumbersome. Some of the ideas seemed antique to me. It was a great idea, but he had given really only a pencil drawing. It was now the early 21st century and a lot had changed, though much had remained essentially the same at its core.

But I had been a foremost exponent of banking. I thought I really understood the rhyme and reason of it all and actually never saw its essential flaws until they were pointed out to me. “Oh well, that's just the way it is,” would often be the accepted rationale. Before my “professional” career was over, I had experienced mentoring by a prominent money manager, attainment of one goal I had once set for myself; to manage money and trade stocks. Before it was all over with, I was familiar with many simple strategies involving options.

I had at one time been absolutely blind to the vulnerability of the US dollar (or for that matter any other “public” currency). I had viewed precious metals as an arcane and ancient religion of defunct economics. I had accepted the common mainstream, middle of the road gospel of “buy and hold” securities investing.

That all changed in the summer and fall of 2007. I began to see things I'd never seen before in the “safe” markets involving municipals. Something was very very wrong. I had a number of deep contacts then, some going back to times when I was actually living and working in New York. I had been watching gold. Though I never had been a gold bug and wont be one now, it was clear to me that behind everything else, trade among people who at the top have a keen hatred for each other, sometimes only barely hidden under a thick veneer of public shows of respect, would still carry on trade as long as payment was made in gold. The sheer variety of items and commodities purchased this way internationally was one of the big secrets. One began to hear slogans like, “the golden rule; those with the gold make the rules” and “gentlemen carry silver, princes carry gold” in reference to their purses. Yes, gentlemen used to wear small draw string purses for their coins. Now we use wallets. Words of my father returned to me, “in the future, perhaps during your lifetime, people will be using these” -paper money- “to buy these” -silver coins. 

I was waking up. I had long since realized that politics was as much show business as anything out of Broadway or Hollywood. I ceased paying much attention, except as anything happening “upstairs” might be affecting the common man and woman on the streets. I had based my business education largely on understanding how to set up and run corporations. My distrust of corporations as valid entities had been an early prejudice supplanted by researching the orthodox explanations for the necessity of corporations and I had convinced myself that they were in fact valid and constructive institutions so much so that all I was doing by participating in the securities trading business was aiding corporate capitalism, which so I thought at the time was also a good thing. Modern economics takes the existence of corporations completely for granted. No downsides to them are ever taught.

My change of mind had nothing to do with working for the corporations themselves. Nearly everyone likes that. I certainly did. You feel secure. You feel you're part of something. There's even a “culture” each company has. I was a product of the Thomas Watson, Walter Wriston, Lee Iacocca mythos of entrepreneurial corporate management, which to some extent was an acceptable form of hero worship for many. People follow leadership, even if some of it is largely fictional, as is their authority, though I was to find that out much later.

My view of corporations really began to change as I encountered the typical run of fussy, imperious and spoiled corporate investors and sleazy investment “pros” who lived by merely speculating on the probable actions of others, contributing absolutely nothing of value themselves. Here one sees in broad outlines the narcissist and the sociopath in one of their mutual attraction dances. The narcissist investor is driven by greed and fear. The sociopath stock operator is delighted to take down another victim.

Meanwhile, whatever mysteries lay behind 2008, 1987, 1929, 1907, etc. they had nothing to do with anything done by the average man or woman on the street. But the results affected them just the same. These grotesque financial convulsions, which destroyed savings, decimated businesses, caused living standards to fall, etc. were all caused by “the bigs” playing around with the money. These events all certainly had to do with concentrations of power, with aggregates of liquid capital formation (economic potential energy), and attempts to “game the system” to achieve certain results for those at the top.

I began to look more closely at the symbols on the back of a dollar bill. Yeah, they had always seemed weird to me, especially the pyramid with the creepy eye on it. What was that supposed to mean after all? It certainly wasn't the benevolent eye of God, so whose eye was it? (As children, I vaguely recall being told that that eye watched to see who stole the money from the table where it was left to pay for the milk.) I was working to get these weird pieces of paper, just as was everyone else, working under that eye in the pyramid.

I took a look at the words on the bill. “In God we trust?” That's always been a lie, even for those who believe in God. And what is Legal Tender? Well, it means that basically, if nothing else will do to settle a debt, these printed pieces of paper with mostly dead presidents on them damn sure will, including paying taxes. “Hey, if we can use them to pay taxes too, then they must be all right.” It began to dawn on me that none of these belonged to anyone but to those whose name was printed on every one of them, the Federal Reserve.

E. C. Riegel certainly had no intention of attempting to displace dollars with Value Units or even bother wrestling in any way with the powers that be. He was acutely concerned about inflation. He reasoned that no contemporary monetary system was legitimate, honest or immortal. What is the immortal monetary system, the one that surfaces at all times when the du jour “public” or “national” monetary system fails? I had seen it in the belly of the Federal Reserve while I was there. My deep contacts always talked about it. What survived the onslaughts of the murderous 4th century of the common era? Gold, of course. Silver too along for the ride, as gold is by weight a relatively dense form of value representation. I had not realized exactly why Riegel's basis for Value Units could no longer be the dollar. Private and public sources were telling me, “the dollar is not forever.”

The key issue in Riegel's quiver of ideas is the fixed basis of value measurement; the key question, what shall be the basis of the Value Unit? He would have chosen the dollar, but that's out. There are those out there who seriously intend trying to base something as important as this on a basket of commodities, or with reference to the available GDP data of record, all skewed to begin with. What a lot of confusing and irrelevant trash! You people honestly don't know anything. You're clowns!

The obvious choice is precious metals, specifically gold. We are not going to fall for the idiot's notion that it is possible to set up yet another paper money creation based on faulty statistics, weird adaptations of mathematics, or other confusing junk economics. No thank you. When it all comes down, only gold and silver will survive (tried by fire, all else burns up, silver and gold endure), period, end of story! Anyone who really knows anything is aware of this. It's a matter of seriousness. Money is serious business. Precious metals are serious. Suggesting any other basis that would actually get people to have any long term confidence in your alternative makes you look like a clown!

Therefore, I started the experiment on a date that I could remember, a palindrome, 11/02/2011. It was a good place to begin as it was close to the top of gold's price. Using the same date, a comparable inception point was set for silver as well. If the Valun is any good it will preserve purchasing power against both paper and precious metals, or why bother! To date, it has.

I reflect back on the times Laurence Gilbert appeared on RBN sometimes near the appearance of the people representing the American Open Currency Standard.
At the time, his attitude toward them was adversarial and competitive. I told him that we would need these people. We obviously had a difference of opinion. There will be nothing won by such conflict! Nothing! You cannot win with paper alone, or ledger books or computers, all of which are capable of representing money without taking precious metals into account. Ignoring them will give any enemies just what they need to defeat us.

This blog was never intended to be a memorial to pure E. C. Riegeldom. It was intended to describe a real 21st century means of attaining a Riegel inspired monetary system. It is to be set up as a set of ready made monetary lifeboats that shall inflate and be ready to go as the “public” system collapses. The Titanic, she is going down. Lifeboats anyone?

This blog had other purposes too. It's time most of us got a real education. For instance, I divide people into two camps when it comes to knowing anything about what's really going on; those who have read Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley, and those who haven't. It's 1,310 pages long. Bill Clinton read it. Quigley was his teacher. Richard Grove and others have read it. It's one of those books that opened my eyes.  If you're serious, you'll read it.

There is movement out there. Change, real change is possible. But it wont be coming from the usual places anymore. I predicted 20 years ago that the long term trend would be a merger of education, entertainment, computing and business and the internet would serve as the vehicle for this transformation. It would mean the birth and death of institutions and the transformation of culture. I saw cell phones eventually becoming so powerful that people could take movies, lectures, music, news, whatever with them wherever they went, while commuting, riding a train, etc. Podcasts and videos are replacing scheduled shows. Attention network producers and administrators around the web, scheduled programs and programming may become a thing of the past. More often than not, if people can't download podcasts to take with them, they'll just skip the service!

Among the changes are renunciations of many ideas associated with faulty philosophical underpinnings. Solipsism is going to be better understood and avoided. In the end, only the truth will matter and since means exist to know it, it shall be more widely known, whatever it turns out to be. The truth may be impeded today, tomorrow, a year from now, but eventually it will get out. The joke was on you, puny man. You try hiding from the truth and the mere act of hiding only serves to bring on your downfall.

Now that a sufficient number of papers have been posted here giving more outlines of the kind of organization intended to support the proposed Value Unit (Valun), we will shortly be moving forward to the next stage.
David Burton 

-> #57.2 The Present Moment.

[8 June, 2014: You had some past association with the Federal Reserve. Would you mind explaining this relationship?

In the 1980's, I was on contract, hired as a technician / consultant, to the Federal Reserve's operations department; computers and their operations, running schedules of programs, etc. for approximately eighteen months. My particular area involved applications using IBM's relational database product for mainframes. At no time was I ever involved with anything to do with bank policies, economics or anything like that. Those subjects were, even back then, a long time ago, part of a body of personal research into fields I hoped to enter after doing whatever I was doing at the time. I didn't even do any programming, though I occasionally helped debug programs. I also presented on quality assurance concepts, as they were known at the time, to the department.]

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