The Inconvenient Truth About For-Profit Capitalism
Posted 4/27/12 , edited 4/27/12
If you really wanna know just how for-profit capitalism actually works, never mind whether or not is it really working towards our favor. Let's start with something as common as the corn syrups in soft drinks.

Soft drinks: Public enemy No.1 in obesity fight?

Pushing her meal cart into the hospital room, a research assistant hands out tall glasses of reddish-pink liquid, along with a gentle warning: "Remember, you guys have to finish all your Kool-Aid."

One by one, young volunteers chug down their drinks, each carefully calibrated to contain a mix of water, flavoring and a precisely calibrated solution of high fructose corn syrup: 55% fructose, 45% glucose.

The participants are part of an ongoing study run by Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologist at the University of California, Davis. Volunteers agree to spend several weeks as lab rats: their food carefully measured, their bodies subjected to a steady dose of scans and blood tests. At first, each volunteer receives meals with no added sugars. But then, the sweetened drinks start showing up.

For the final two weeks of the study, volunteers drank three of the sweet concoctions daily -- about 500 calories of added sugar, or 25% of all calories for the adult women in the study. Within just two weeks, their blood chemistry was out of whack. In one striking change, the volunteers had elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.

While force-feeding junk food may sound extreme, this controlled diet is not so far from the real world. A 20-ounce regular soda contains 227 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That single drink is more than 10% of the total calories an adult woman needs to maintain a healthy weight, according to USDA diet guidelines. Meanwhile, about 1 in 4 Americans gets at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks. These numbers, along with work like Stanhope's, gives ammunition to doctors and public health officials who say soda should be treated as public health enemy No. 1.
So the one interesting fact I took from this article is corn, as in how many of us really know just how corn had dominated our food supply due to the food industry, thanks to the corn subsidy called the "Farm Bill".

Corn Subsidies Make Me Sick (and Fat)

There are few government policies disheartening enough to make me lose sleep at night. But of those few, the subsidization of the corn industry is one big one, and the way in which the government continues to squander billions of dollars on a senseless policy that arguably does more harm than good, is simply outrageous.

Here is the situation, in brief: The U.S. Government currently spends around $300 billion every five years on something called the “Farm Bill.” The Farm Bill, which has become known as a series of handouts to help different sectors of the agricultural industry, has often stirred controversy. Despite the fact that the bill is intended for small, struggling farmers, today many large and highly succesfuly corn farms receive a large portion of the help.

So what’s so horrible about corn subsidies? In fact, there are many ways to come down hard on this policy. Aside from the fact that large, already succesful farmers are getting a major slice of this free money from our hard-earned tax dollars, the subsidies, more importantly, are supporting a product that is not market efficient.

This policy of subsidizing corn farmers is also potentially bad for our health. Government handouts to corn farmers have driven down the price of corn so far that sugar has been essentially replaced as the means of sweetening our food. Instead, we use high fructose corn syrup, a substance that is much harder for our bodies to break down. The result is that the soda we drink today makes us fatter and more prone to diseases like Diabetes than the same soda made with real sugar. The same goes for any product where “high fructose corn syrup” appears in the list of ingredients (try going to the supermarket and looking at different products, you will be surprised at how many of them contain the substance). If it weren’t for corn subsidies keeping the price of corn artificially low, a purer form of sugar could be used in our foods.
If you wanna know how the majority of food is made in the developed world by the food industry, look no further than factory farming on livestock with corn feed, which is a breeding ground for E Coli mutation and contamination.

So, with livestock being process in a factory farm fed with corn, while it's cross contaminating the vegetables, as if that wasn't enough, we can expect the harmful process of making these product to taste good with added sugar.

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food

I want to talk about something so basic as milk. Every kid has the right to milk at school. Your kids will be having milk at school, breakfast and lunch. Right? They'll be having two bottles. OK? And most kids do. But milk ain't good enough anymore. Because someone at the milk board, right -- and don't get me wrong, I support milk -- but someone at the milk board probably paid a lot of money for some geezer to work out that if you put loads of flavorings and colorings and sugar in milk, right, more kids will drink it. Yeah.

And obviously now that's going to catch on. The apple board is going to work out that if they make toffee apples they'll eat more apples as well. Do you know what I mean? For me, there ain't no need to flavor the milk. Okay? There's sugar in everything. I know the ins and outs of those ingredients. It's in everything. Even the milk hasn't escaped the kind of modern-day problems. There's our milk. There's our carton. In that is nearly as much sugar as one of your favorite cans of fizzy pop, and they are having two a day. So, let me just show you. We've got one kid, here, having, you know, eight tablespoons of sugar a day. You know, there's your week. There's your month. And I've taken the liberty of putting in just the five years of elementary school sugar, just from milk. Now, I don't know about you guys, but judging the circumstances, right, any judge in the whole world, would look at the statistics and the evidence, and they would find any government of old guilty of child abuse. That's my belief.
And why stop at child abuse with sugar-added milk? When we have the pharmaceutical industry milking profits from breast cancer in three ways, why cure cancer? Go buy pink, and forget about the forth-stage breast cancer patients who're just waiting to die. Because we failed them as well as ourselves in our pursuit for greater profits.[/sarcasm]

Frankly speaking, I'm not the one who's consistently having a hard time understanding the inconvenient truth about how we humans really do business here on Earth. And neither should you if you really meant well.
Posted 4/27/12

DomFortress wrote:

If you really wanna know just how for-profit capitalism actually works, never mind whether or not is it really working towards our favor. Let's start with something as common as the corn syrups in soft drinks.

Soft drinks: Public enemy No.1 in obesity fight?

Pushing her meal cart into the hospital room, a research assistant hands out tall glasses of reddish-pink liquid, along with a gentle warning: "Remember, you guys have to finish all your Kool-Aid."

One by one, young volunteers chug down their drinks, each carefully calibrated to contain a mix of water, flavoring and a precisely calibrated solution of high fructose corn syrup: 55% fructose, 45% glucose.

The participants are part of an ongoing study run by Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologist at the University of California, Davis. Volunteers agree to spend several weeks as lab rats: their food carefully measured, their bodies subjected to a steady dose of scans and blood tests. At first, each volunteer receives meals with no added sugars. But then, the sweetened drinks start showing up.

For the final two weeks of the study, volunteers drank three of the sweet concoctions daily -- about 500 calories of added sugar, or 25% of all calories for the adult women in the study. Within just two weeks, their blood chemistry was out of whack. In one striking change, the volunteers had elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.

While force-feeding junk food may sound extreme, this controlled diet is not so far from the real world. A 20-ounce regular soda contains 227 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That single drink is more than 10% of the total calories an adult woman needs to maintain a healthy weight, according to USDA diet guidelines. Meanwhile, about 1 in 4 Americans gets at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks. These numbers, along with work like Stanhope's, gives ammunition to doctors and public health officials who say soda should be treated as public health enemy No. 1.
So the one interesting fact I took from this article is corn, as in how many of us really know just how corn had dominated our food supply due to the food industry, thanks to the corn subsidy called the "Farm Bill".

Corn Subsidies Make Me Sick (and Fat)

There are few government policies disheartening enough to make me lose sleep at night. But of those few, the subsidization of the corn industry is one big one, and the way in which the government continues to squander billions of dollars on a senseless policy that arguably does more harm than good, is simply outrageous.

Here is the situation, in brief: The U.S. Government currently spends around $300 billion every five years on something called the “Farm Bill.” The Farm Bill, which has become known as a series of handouts to help different sectors of the agricultural industry, has often stirred controversy. Despite the fact that the bill is intended for small, struggling farmers, today many large and highly succesfuly corn farms receive a large portion of the help.

So what’s so horrible about corn subsidies? In fact, there are many ways to come down hard on this policy. Aside from the fact that large, already succesful farmers are getting a major slice of this free money from our hard-earned tax dollars, the subsidies, more importantly, are supporting a product that is not market efficient.

This policy of subsidizing corn farmers is also potentially bad for our health. Government handouts to corn farmers have driven down the price of corn so far that sugar has been essentially replaced as the means of sweetening our food. Instead, we use high fructose corn syrup, a substance that is much harder for our bodies to break down. The result is that the soda we drink today makes us fatter and more prone to diseases like Diabetes than the same soda made with real sugar. The same goes for any product where “high fructose corn syrup” appears in the list of ingredients (try going to the supermarket and looking at different products, you will be surprised at how many of them contain the substance). If it weren’t for corn subsidies keeping the price of corn artificially low, a purer form of sugar could be used in our foods.
If you wanna know how the majority of food is made in the developed world by the food industry, look no further than factory farming on livestock with corn feed, which is a breeding ground for E Coli mutation and contamination.

So, with livestock being process in a factory farm fed with corn, while it's cross contaminating the vegetables, as if that wasn't enough, we can expect the harmful process of making these product to taste good with added sugar.

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food

I want to talk about something so basic as milk. Every kid has the right to milk at school. Your kids will be having milk at school, breakfast and lunch. Right? They'll be having two bottles. OK? And most kids do. But milk ain't good enough anymore. Because someone at the milk board, right -- and don't get me wrong, I support milk -- but someone at the milk board probably paid a lot of money for some geezer to work out that if you put loads of flavorings and colorings and sugar in milk, right, more kids will drink it. Yeah.

And obviously now that's going to catch on. The apple board is going to work out that if they make toffee apples they'll eat more apples as well. Do you know what I mean? For me, there ain't no need to flavor the milk. Okay? There's sugar in everything. I know the ins and outs of those ingredients. It's in everything. Even the milk hasn't escaped the kind of modern-day problems. There's our milk. There's our carton. In that is nearly as much sugar as one of your favorite cans of fizzy pop, and they are having two a day. So, let me just show you. We've got one kid, here, having, you know, eight tablespoons of sugar a day. You know, there's your week. There's your month. And I've taken the liberty of putting in just the five years of elementary school sugar, just from milk. Now, I don't know about you guys, but judging the circumstances, right, any judge in the whole world, would look at the statistics and the evidence, and they would find any government of old guilty of child abuse. That's my belief.
And why stop at child abuse with sugar-added milk? When we have the pharmaceutical industry milking profits from breast cancer in three ways, why cure cancer? Go buy pink, and forget about the forth-stage breast cancer patients who're just waiting to die. Because we failed them as well as ourselves in our pursuit for greater profits.[/sarcasm]

Frankly speaking, I'm not the one who's consistently having a hard time understanding the inconvenient truth about how we humans really do business here on Earth. And neither should you if you really meant well.


It's a god eat dog world, and that makes me think about the implications of dogs being put on the market for foodstuffs worldwide. Will we feed them corn, or possibly the remains of corn fed cattle? They would kill each other (and eat each other) for the bones of cattle in order to chew out the marrow in them. There would be large, poorly maintained kennels allover the planet for the fattened, diseased canines to suffer in filth before being beheaded with a rusty, poorly maintained chainsaw, which naturally cross contaminates the dog carcasses with the diseases from other carcasses. Then they'd breed all species of dogs together for "mutt mutton", although dogs aren't sheep, but genetic splicing may combine the two animals for further antagonism of religious adherents claiming that geneticists play God.
Posted 4/28/12 , edited 4/28/12

DeusExMachine wrote:


DomFortress wrote:



It's a god eat dog world, and that makes me think about the implications of dogs being put on the market for foodstuffs worldwide. Will we feed them corn, or possibly the remains of corn fed cattle? They would kill each other (and eat each other) for the bones of cattle in order to chew out the marrow in them. There would be large, poorly maintained kennels allover the planet for the fattened, diseased canines to suffer in filth before being beheaded with a rusty, poorly maintained chainsaw, which naturally cross contaminates the dog carcasses with the diseases from other carcasses. Then they'd breed all species of dogs together for "mutt mutton", although dogs aren't sheep, but genetic splicing may combine the two animals for further antagonism of religious adherents claiming that geneticists play God.
Every time we asked ourselves why dogs are a man's best friends, we refer to their obedient, loyal, and faithful nature. How they are so receiving, responsive, and overall outgoing and supportive. My honest opinion: what timeless fools we modern mortals be.

We're fooling ourselves with perhaps the the most helpful individual character traits throughout the history of known institutionalized human cruelty(thanks to Philip Zimbardo's "Standford Prison Experiment"), as demonstrated and discovered by Stanly Milgram's "Obedience to Authority" experiment of 1961. It's a timeless human fallibility on our part, when we created modern institutions such as the corporations as amoral yet immortal, thus I would say godlike "legal persons". And in order to make these corporations even more successful, we enlisted these helpful good people to support these legal persons' for-profits legal obligation. And just how far we good people are willing to do what, in order for ourselves to be of help? Well then get a load of this:

The Heist - Derren Brown - Channel 4
Brown used his skills on selected participants who answered an advertisement. Under the guise of a "motivational seminar" (where they would allegedly learn Brown's skills) Brown recruited a number of participants, eventually manipulating a number of them into robbing a security van in broad daylight. "The Heist" has been described by Brown as one of the stunts of which he is most proud.
That's right, we'll motivate ourselves into doing our masters' bidding. Because we all want this empowering thus rewarding growth experience for ourselves, or so we were dictated by our own brains.

Dopamine Jackpot! Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure
Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, compares dopamine levels in monkeys and humans. Sapolsky argues that in both, "Dopamine is not about pleasure, it's about the anticipation of pleasure. It's about the pursuit of happiness." Unlike monkeys however, humans "keep those dopamine levels up for decades and decades waiting for the reward."
If this "anticipation of pleasure/pursuit of happiness" sounds familiar to you, you're not alone. Because that's the addictive quality of video-gaming.

David Perry: Will videogames become better than life?
Game designer David Perry says tomorrow's videogames will be more than mere fun to the next generation of gamers. They'll be lush, complex, emotional experiences -- more involving and meaningful to some than real life.

I, like many of you, live somewhere between reality and video games. Some part of me -- a true living, breathing person -- has become programmed, electronic and virtual. The boundary of my brain that divides real from fantasy has finally begun to crumble. I'm a video game addict and this is my story.

In the year of my birth the Nintendo Entertainment System also went into development. I played in the backyard, learned to read, and even ate some of my vegetables. Most of my childhood was spent playing with Legos. But as was the case for most of my generation, I spent a lot of time in front of the TV. Mr. Rogers, Walt Disney, Nick Junior, and roughly half a million commercials have undoubtedly left their mark on me.

When my parents bought my sister and I our first Nintendo, whatever inherent addictive quality this early interactive electronic entertainment possessed quickly took hold of me. At some point something clicked.

With the combination of simple, interactive stories and the warmth of the TV set, my simple 16-bit Nintendo became more than just an escape. It became an alternate existence, my virtual reality.

I'm a video game addict, and it's not because of a certain number of hours I have spent playing, or nights I have gone without sleep to finish the next level. It is because I have had life-altering experiences in virtual space, and video games had begun to erode my own understanding of what is real and what is not. I'm addicted, because even though I know I'm losing my grip on reality, I still crave more.

From an early age I learned to invest myself emotionally in what unfolded before me on screen. Today, after 20 years of watching TV geared to make me emotional, even a decent insurance commercial can bring tears to my eyes. I am just one of a new generation that is growing up. A generation who may experience much more meaning through video games than they will through the real world. Video games are nearing an evolutionary leap, a point where game worlds will look and feel just as real as the films we see in theatres, or the news we watch on TV. And while my sense of free will in these virtual worlds may still be limited, what I do learn applies to my real life. Play enough video games and eventually you will really believe you can snowboard, fly a plane, drive a nine-second quarter mile, or kill a man. I know I can.

Unlike any pop culture phenomenon before it, video games actually allow us to become part of the machine. They allow us to sublimate into the culture of interactive, downloaded, streaming, HD reality. We are interacting with our entertainment. I have come to expect this level of interaction. Without it, the problems faced in the real world -- poverty, war, disease and genocide -- lack the levity they should. Their importance blends into the sensationalized drama of prime time TV.

But the beauty of video games today lies not in the lifelike graphics, the vibrating joysticks or virtual surround sound. It lies in that these games are beginning to make me emotional. I have fought in wars, feared for my own survival, watched my cohorts die on beaches and woods that look and feel more real than any textbook or any news story.

The people who create these games are smart. They know what makes me scared, excited, panicked, proud or sad. Then they use these emotions to dimensionalize the worlds they create. A well-designed video game will seamlessly weave the user into the fabric of the virtual experience. As one becomes more experienced the awareness of physical control melts away. I know what I want and I do it. No buttons to push, no triggers to pull, just me and the game. My fate and the fate of the world around me lie inside my hands. I know violent video games make my mother worry. What troubles me is not that video game violence is becoming more and more like real life violence, but that real life violence is starting to look more and more like a video game.

These are all troubles outside of myself. I, however, have a problem very close to home. Something has happened to my brain.

Perhaps there is a single part of our brain that holds all of our gut instincts, the things we know to do before we even think. While some of these instincts may be innate, most are learned, and all of them are hardwired into our brains. These instincts are essential for survival in both real and virtual worlds. Only in recent years has the technology behind video games allowed for a true overlap in stimuli. As gamers we are now living by the same laws of physics in the same cities and doing many of the same things we once did in real life, only virtually. Consider this -- my real life car has about 25,000 miles on it. In all my driving games, I've driven a total of 31,459 miles. To some degree I've learned how to drive from the game. The sensory cues are very similar. It's a funny feeling when you have spent more time doing something on the TV than you have in real life. When I am driving down a road at sunset all I can think is, this is almost as beautiful as my games are.

For my virtual worlds are perfect. More beautiful and rich than the real world around us. I'm not sure what the implications of my experience are, but the potential for using realistic video game stimuli in repetition on a vast number of loyal participants is frightening to me. Today I believe Big Brother would find much more success brainwashing the masses with video games rather than just simply TVs. Video games are fun, engaging, and leave your brain completely vulnerable to re-programming. But maybe brainwashing isn't always bad.

Imagine a game that teaches us to respect each other, or helps us to understand the problems we're all facing in the real world. There is a potential to do good as well. It is critical, as these virtual worlds continue to mirror the real world we live in, that game developers realize that they have tremendous responsibilities before them. I'm not sure what the future of video games holds for our civilization. But as virtual and real world experiences increasingly overlap there is a greater and greater potential for other people to feel the same way I do.

What I have only recently come to realize is that beyond the graphics, sound, game play and emotion it is the power to break down reality that is so fascinating and addictive to me. I know that I am losing my grip. Part of me is just waiting to let go. I know though, that no matter how amazing video games may become, or how flat the real world may seem to us, that we must stay aware of what our games are teaching us and how they leave us feeling when we finally do unplug.

Our institutions, our cultures, even down to our very own technologies allow us to engage ourselves in an augmented reality. And this augmentation is a two-way street, for it buffers us and prevents us to truly live authentically together. There's no real solidarity whenever we're all alone, together.

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?
As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication -- and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.

So just to take some quick examples: People text or do email during corporate board meetings. They text and shop and go on Facebook during classes, during presentations, actually during all meetings. People talk to me about the important new skill of making eye contact while you're texting. People explain to me that it's hard, but that it can be done. Parents text and do email at breakfast and at dinner while their children complain about not having their parents' full attention. But then these same children deny each other their full attention. This is a recent shot of my daughter and her friends being together while not being together. And we even text at funerals. I study this. We remove ourselves from our grief or from our revery and we go into our phones.

Why does this matter? It matters to me because I think we're setting ourselves up for trouble -- trouble certainly in how we relate to each other, but also trouble in how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. We're getting used to a new way of being alone together. People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere -- connected to all the different places they want to be. People want to customize their lives. They want to go in and out of all the places they are because the thing that matters most to them is control over where they put their attention. So you want to go to that board meeting, but you only want to pay attention to the bits that interest you. And some people think that's a good thing. But you can end up hiding from each other, even as we're all constantly connected to each other.

A 50-year-old business man lamented to me that he feels he doesn't have colleagues anymore at work. When he goes to work, he doesn't stop by to talk to anybody, he doesn't call. And he says he doesn't want to interrupt his colleagues because, he says, "They're too busy on their email." But then he stops himself and he says, "You know, I'm not telling you the truth. I'm the one who doesn't want to be interrupted. I think I should want to, but actually I'd rather just do things on my Blackberry."

Across the generations, I see that people can't get enough of each other, if and only if they can have each other at a distance, in amounts they can control. I call it the Goldilocks effect: not too close, not too far, just right. But what might feel just right for that middle-aged executive can be a problem for an adolescent who needs to develop face-to-face relationships. An 18-year-old boy who uses texting for almost everything says to me wistfully, "Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I'd like to learn how to have a conversation."

When I ask people "What's wrong with having a conversation?" People say, "I'll tell you what's wrong with having a conversation. It takes place in real time and you can't control what you're going to say." So that's the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body -- not too little, not too much, just right.

Human relationships are rich and they're messy and they're demanding. And we clean them up with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring.

I was caught off guard when Stephen Colbert asked me a profound question, a profound question. He said, "Don't all those little tweets, don't all those little sips of online communication, add up to one big gulp of real conversation?" My answer was no, they don't add up. Connecting in sips may work for gathering discreet bits of information, they may work for saying, "I'm thinking about you," or even for saying, "I love you," -- I mean, look at how I felt when I got that text from my daughter -- but they don't really work for learning about each other, for really coming to know and understand each other. And we use conversations with each other to learn how to have conversations with ourselves. So a flight from conversation can really matter because it can compromise our capacity for self-reflection. For kids growing up, that skill is the bedrock of development.

Over and over I hear, "I would rather text than talk." And what I'm seeing is that people get so used to being short-changed out of real conversation, so used to getting by with less, that they've become almost willing to dispense with people altogether. So for example, many people share with me this wish, that some day a more advanced version of Siri, the digital assistant on Apple's iPhone, will be more like a best friend, someone who will listen when others won't. I believe this wish reflects a painful truth that I've learned in the past 15 years. That feeling that no one is listening to me is very important in our relationships with technology. That's why it's so appealing to have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed -- so many automatic listeners. And the feeling that no one is listening to me make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.

We're developing robots, they call them sociable robots, that are specifically designed to be companions -- to the elderly, to our children, to us. Have we so lost confidence that we will be there for each other? During my research I worked in nursing homes, and I brought in these sociable robots that were designed to give the elderly the feeling that they were understood. And one day I came in and a woman who had lost a child was talking to a robot in the shape of a baby seal. It seemed to be looking in her eyes. It seemed to be following the conversation. It comforted her. And many people found this amazing.

But that woman was trying to make sense of her life with a machine that had no experience of the arc of a human life. That robot put on a great show. And we're vulnerable. People experience pretend empathy as though it were the real thing. So during that moment when that woman was experiencing that pretend empathy, I was thinking, "That robot can't empathize. It doesn't face death. It doesn't know life."

And as that woman took comfort in her robot companion, I didn't find it amazing; I found it one of the most wrenching, complicated moments in my 15 years of work. But when I stepped back, I felt myself at the cold, hard center of a perfect storm. We expect more from technology and less from each other. And I ask myself, "Why have things come to this?"

And I believe it's because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. We're lonely, but we're afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we're designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control. But we're not so comfortable. We are not so much in control.

These days, those phones in our pockets are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; two, that we will always be heard; and three, that we will never have to be alone. And that third idea, that we will never have to be alone, is central to changing our psyches. Because the moment that people are alone, even for a few seconds, they become anxious, they panic, they fidget, they reach for a device. Just think of people at a checkout line or at a red light. Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved. And so people try to solve it by connecting. But here, connection is more like a symptom than a cure. It expresses, but it doesn't solve, an underlying problem. But more than a symptom, constant connection is changing the way people think of themselves. It's shaping a new way of being.

The best way to describe it is, I share therefore I am. We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings even as we're having them. So before it was: I have a feeling, I want to make a call. Now it's: I want to have a feeling, I need to send a text. The problem with this new regime of "I share therefore I am" is that, if we don't have connection, we don't feel like ourselves. We almost don't feel ourselves. So what do we do? We connect more and more. But in the process, we set ourselves up to be isolated.

How do you get from connection to isolation? You end up isolated if you don't cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself. Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments. When we don't have the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious or in order to feel alive. When this happens, we're not able to appreciate who they are. It's as though we're using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self. We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us fell less alone. But we're at risk, because actually it's the opposite that's true. If we're not able to be alone, we're going to be more lonely. And if we don't teach our children to be alone, they're only going to know how to be lonely.

When I spoke at TED in 1996, reporting on my studies of the early virtual communities, I said, "Those who make the most of their lives on the screen come to it in a spirit of self-reflection." And that's what I'm calling for here, now: reflection and, more than that, a conversation about where our current use of technology may be taking us, what it might be costing us. We're smitten with technology. And we're afraid, like young lovers, that too much talking might spoil the romance. But it's time to talk. We grew up with digital technology and so we see it as all grown up. But it's not, it's early days. There's plenty of time for us to reconsider how we use it, how we build it. I'm not suggesting that we turn away from our devices, just that we develop a more self-aware relationship with them, with each other and with ourselves.

So going back to obeying an inhumane authority figure that can't empathize with real human experiences, this is what amount of obeying we can really do.

Why did so many 'Game of Death' candidates push the button?
Some 80% of participants in the “Game of Death”, believing they were part of a reality TV show, willingly subjected a (fake) victim to electric shocks. Why were they willing to obey instructions from a TV presenter?

Four fifths of the “candidates” in the “Game of Death” documentary to be aired on French TV Wednesday night were willing to go “all the way” in exposing their imaginary victim to the final massive shock of 450 volts.

The documentary on the fake game show, which seeks to probe the depths of media and human manipulation, has sparked a media storm across France.

Aside from the media attention, the documentary poses many questions, some chilling: are humans generally more willing to follow morally dubious instructions - even from a TV presenter - than they would like to think? Did the “contestants” continue to inflict pain purely because of the glitz and pressure of being in a TV studio?

Participants interviewed in the documentary appear to support the hypothesis.

In the grip of ‘the machine’

“I felt that I was being carried forward not so much by the instructions, but more by the context,” says one anonymous participant in the documentary. “The cameras, the atmosphere, being on stage, the subject and the place… It’s one big package and it affects your personality. The machine definitely has a tight grip.”

The producers of “Game of Death” recruited 24 volunteers who were told that they were going to shoot a pilot for a new show called “La Zone Xtrême”, or “The Xtreme Zone”.
With no financial incentive on the table, the point of the game was to ask one “candidate” – played, in reality, by an actor – a series of questions. If he gave a wrong answer, the punishment would be an electric shock, with the voltage increasing by increments from 80 to 460 volts with each incorrect response.

‘Not my problem, eh?’

In the book about the documentary, “L’Expérience Extreme” (The Extreme Experiment), written by producer Christophe Nick and co-authored with journalist Michel Eltchaninoff, a participant identified as Patrick, a Metro driver, said he was happy to simply follow orders – because it was a TV show.

The instinct to obey, said Patrick, overrode all feelings for the man he believed was receiving the shocks and was in genuine pain.

“If you pilot an aeroplane or a train, you don’t ask yourself questions, you apply procedure, even if you know it isn’t necessarily the best option, because that’s how it should be done,” he said.

“I was told ‘you must do this’ and I thought to myself, these guys know what they’re doing. I did think that guy was roasting in there. But that was not my problem, eh?”

Nazi war crimes

The basis of the documentary was an experiment conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram in the early 1960s.

The series of social psychology experiments investigated peoples’ willingness to inflict pain on fellow human beings if they believed they were following orders from a “legitimate” authority, in this case a scientist.

Carried out three months after the 1961 trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichman in Jerusalem, the Milgram experiment was designed to examine why the millions of accomplices of Nazi atrocities persisted in following orders, even when they violated their deepest moral beliefs.

‘Why did they obey?’

Following up on this theme, the “Game of Death” producers included the granddaughter of Jews who were deported by the Nazis.

A 46-year-old air hostess identified as Sophie said her experience on the show (she inflicted the maximum shock in the experiment) had made her better understand what her grandparents had gone through.

“They wore the yellow stars from 1941,” she relates in “L’Expérience Extreme”. “And all my life I have wondered why they did it. Why did they obey this order? Why did they allow themselves to be taken away? Why did they get into the cattle trucks to disappear in the Holocaust? I obeyed the instructions [in the show], and I feel I understand their experience a little better."
Posted 4/28/12 , edited 4/28/12


I find myself reading every word of what you posted as if I were following a person whom is an authority on credible information.

Also, as a gamer, I have seen the blurring of lines, the emotional investment, and the isolation experienced with gaming. Why have I, through all these years, invested so much time and mental energy into something unreal? Well, it is kinda like a book, you receive the information, and your mind processes it into some semblance of a real or cinematic experience. Yet, with games, all you do is control the protagonist through the story. I often find that I am most effected by the genre of horror/shooter type games, since fear is an incredibly powerful and debilitating emotion. I've been frozen in place by these synthetic experiences of terrifying and surreal encounters with beings most certainly detrimental to my health. Often, what you don't see is what really gets you. The power of positional audio, and unnaturally amazing sounds which alarm the player, add up to something more interesting that the "flatness" of real life the common consumer experiences day-to-day. What do the brainwashed civilians have to say for themselves when there is a catastrophe? Did they act upon their compassion to help those in need, or do anything out of the desire to be seen by the public eye as "heroic?"

I think it is a combination of heroics and the mental hypothesizing of what it must be like to experience things from the perspective of some action movie or video game character, unless said person becoming a hero hasn't ever been subjected to the overwhelming abundance of mostly useless information. Who knows how many "fnords" they place in the news print and television broadcasts. The theaters must keep the viewers unknowingly transfixed due to the unbeknownst flash of the anxiety producing word "fnord." But, all that is just some insane conspiracy theory. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Obey your corporate masters! Fnord!

And we all know about the human capacity to do "wrong" and cause destruction. It is so wired into our minds that unmaking things can bring such a rush of empowerment. Those who deny it often need their personal release valve for destruction opened once in a while.... which is why we have video games exacerbating that problem. Turning children into manic/paranoid, psychotic school shooters is upon the agenda of all the mentally dead, game producers who have callously normalized all the horrors of America's (and the rest of the world's) hideous social issues. They want the profit of publicity from making impressionable and increasingly insensitive and immature youths want to make their own realities into dark, apathetic worlds of tragedy and slaughter. Or will Batman save the day and wipe the pure evil of video gaming off the planet? Certainly, the reality disconnected minds of gamers and the general consumers believe that Batman or perhaps the Zombie Apocalypse craze will become real, and they can have both of them included in a delux, premium package downloaded into the unreality receptors called their post-modern brains. Who knows?

Before I get too unrealistic, I will finish with saying this single word; extreme.

Posted 4/28/12 , edited 4/28/12

DeusExMachine wrote:



I find myself reading every word of what you posted as if I were following a person whom is an authority on credible information.

Also, as a gamer, I have seen the blurring of lines, the emotional investment, and the isolation experienced with gaming. Why have I, through all these years, invested so much time and mental energy into something unreal? Well, it is kinda like a book, you receive the information, and your mind processes it into some semblance of a real or cinematic experience. Yet, with games, all you do is control the protagonist through the story. I often find that I am most effected by the genre of horror/shooter type games, since fear is an incredibly powerful and debilitating emotion. I've been frozen in place by these synthetic experiences of terrifying and surreal encounters with beings most certainly detrimental to my health. Often, what you don't see is what really gets you. The power of positional audio, and unnaturally amazing sounds which alarm the player, add up to something more interesting that the "flatness" of real life the common consumer experiences day-to-day. What do the brainwashed civilians have to say for themselves when there is a catastrophe? Did they act upon their compassion to help those in need, or do anything out of the desire to be seen by the public eye as "heroic?"

I think it is a combination of heroics and the mental hypothesizing of what it must be like to experience things from the perspective of some action movie or video game character, unless said person becoming a hero hasn't ever been subjected to the overwhelming abundance of mostly useless information. Who knows how many "fnords" they place in the news print and television broadcasts. The theaters must keep the viewers unknowingly transfixed due to the unbeknownst flash of the anxiety producing word "fnord." But, all that is just some insane conspiracy theory. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Obey your corporate masters! Fnord!

And we all know about the human capacity to do "wrong" and cause destruction. It is so wired into our minds that unmaking things can bring such a rush of empowerment. Those who deny it often need their personal release valve for destruction opened once in a while.... which is why we have video games exacerbating that problem. Turning children into manic/paranoid, psychotic school shooters is upon the agenda of all the mentally dead, game producers who have callously normalized all the horrors of America's (and the rest of the world's) hideous social issues. They want the profit of publicity from making impressionable and increasingly insensitive and immature youths want to make their own realities into dark, apathetic worlds of tragedy and slaughter. Or will Batman save the day and wipe the pure evil of video gaming off the planet? Certainly, the reality disconnected minds of gamers and the general consumers believe that Batman or perhaps the Zombie Apocalypse craze will become real, and they can have both of them included in a delux, premium package downloaded into the unreality receptors called their post-modern brains. Who knows?

Before I get too unrealistic, I will finish with saying this single word; extreme.
Everything I've been laying out had to do with "for-profit capitalism", and here's the most powerful "fnord"/disinformation of our modern civilization: fiat currency.

Crash Course: Chapter 6 - What is Money? by Chris Martenson

Money is a claim on human labor.

With a very few minor exceptions, pretty much anything you can think of that you might spend your money on will involve human labor to bring it there. I say it’s a claim rather than a store, because the human labor in question might have happened in the past, or it might not have happened yet.

The concept of money being a claim on human labor is important, and we’ll be building on it later, especially when we get to debt.

As implied in the picture series earlier, literally anything can be considered money – cows, bread, shells, tobacco. A US dollar, like all modern currencies, however, is an example of a type of money called fiat money. “Fiat” is a Latin word meaning “let it be done,” and fiat money has value because a government decrees that it does.

And this brings us to the key question: What exactly is a US dollar?

Once, a dollar was backed by a known weight of silver or gold of intrinsic value. In this example, we can see that the dollar came from the US Treasury and was backed by a given amount of silver that was payable to the bearer on demand.

Of course, that was back in the 1930’s, and those days are long gone. Now dollars are the liability of the Federal Reserve, a private entity entrusted to manage the US money supply and empowered by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 to perform this function.

You’ll note that modern dollars have no language entitling the bearer to anything, and that’s because they are no longer backed by anything tangible. Rather, the ‘value’ of the dollar comes from this language right here: The fact that it is illegal to refuse to accept dollars for payment and that they are the only acceptable form of payment for taxes.

It is crucially important that a nation’s money supply is carefully managed, for if it is not, the monetary unit can be destroyed by inflation. In fact, there are over 3,800 past examples of paper currencies that no longer exist. There are numerous examples from the United States, which may have some collector value but no longer possess any monetary value. Of course, I could just as easily display beautiful but no longer functional examples from Argentina, Bolivia, and Columbia, and a hundred other places

How does a hyperinflationary destruction of a currency happen?

Here’s a relatively recent example that comes from Yugoslavia between the years 1988 and 1995. Pre-1990, the Yugoslavian dinar had measurable value: You could actually buy something with one. However, throughout the 1980’s, the Yugoslavian government ran a persistent budget deficit and printed money to make up the shortfall. By the early 1990’s, the government had used up all its own hard currency reserves, and they proceeded to loot the private accounts of citizens. In order to keep things moving along, successively larger bills had to be printed, finally culminating in this stunning example – a 500 billion dinar note. At its height, inflation in Yugoslavia was running at over 37% per day. This means prices were doubling every 48 hours or so.

Let me see if I can make that more concrete for you. Suppose that on January 1, 2007, you had a penny and could find something to purchase with it. At 37% per day inflation, by April 3, 2007 you’d need one of these – a billion dollar bill – to purchase the very same item. In reverse, if you’d had a billion dollars on January 1st stuffed in a suitcase, by April 3rd you’d have had a penny’s worth of purchasing power left.

Clearly, if you’d attempted to save money during this period of time, you’d have lost it all, so we can safely state that inflationary money regimes impose a penalty on savers. The opposite side of this is that inflationary money regimes promote spending and require that money be invested or speculated, so as to at least have the chance of keeping pace with inflation. Of course, investing and speculating involve risks, so we can broaden this statement to include the claim that inflationary monetary systems require the citizens living within them to subject their hard-earned savings to risk.

That is worth pondering for a minute or two.

Even more importantly, since history shows how common it is for currencies to be mismanaged, we need to keep a careful eye on the stewards of our money to make sure they are not being irresponsible by creating too much money out of thin air and thereby destroying our savings, culture, and institutions by the process of inflation.

Wait a minute. Did I just say ‘creating money out of thin air’?

Yes. Yes, I did.
So you see, all the known world currencies are no longer backed by anything other than a nation states' legislation and enforcement of "we must barter with this piece of official-looking paper". But that's not all there is to it, when like the infinite money cheat code of GTA, private corporations like the central banks can legally create fiat currency without anything really in their own banks.

Crash Course: Chapter 7 - Money Creation by Chris Martenson

First, let’s look at how money is created by banks.

Leaving aside for now where this money comes from, suppose a person walks into town with $1000, and, luckily, a brand new bank with no deposits has just opened up. The $1000 is deposited in the bank, and now the person has a $1000 asset (their bank account) and the bank has a $1000 liability (the very same bank account).

Now, there’s a rule on the books, a federal rule, that allows banks to loan out a proportion, a fraction, of the money they have on deposit to others. In theory, banks are allowed to loan out up to 90% of what people have on deposit with them, although, as we’ll see later, the actual proportion is much closer to 100% than 90%. Nonetheless, because banks retain only a fraction of their deposits in reserve, the term for this process is “fractional reserve banking.”

Back to our example. We now have a bank with $1000 on deposit, and banks do not make money by holding on to it – rather, they make their living by borrowing at one rate and loaning at a higher rate.

Since any bank can loan out up to 90%, the bank in our example manages to locate a single individual that wants to borrow $900.

This borrower then spends that money by giving it to another person, perhaps his accountant, who, in turn, deposits it in a bank. Now it could be the same bank, or a different bank, but that really doesn’t change how this story gets told at all.

With this new deposit, the bank has a fresh $900 to work with, and so it gets busy finding somebody who wants to borrow 90% of that amount, or $810.

And so another loan, this time for $810, is made, which gets spent and redeposited in the bank, meaning that a brand new, fresh deposit of $810 is available to loan against. So the bank loans out out 90% of $810, or $729, and so it goes, until we finally discover that the original $1000 deposit has mushroomed into a total of $10,000.

Is this all real money? You bet it is, especially if it’s in your bank account. But if you were paying close attention, you’d realize that what we’ve actually got here are three things. First, we’ve got $1000 held in reserve by the bank, $10,000 in total in various bank accounts, and $9000 dollars of new debt. The original $1000 is now entirely held in reserve by the bank, but every new dollar, all $9,000 of them, was loaned into existence and is “backed” by an equivalent amount of debt. How’s your mind doing? Is it repelled yet?

You might also notice here that if everybody who had money at the bank, all $10,000 dollars of them, tried to take their money out at once, that the bank would not be able to pay it out, because, well, they wouldn’t have it. The bank would only have $1000 hanging around in reserve. Period. You might also notice that this mechanism of creating new money out of new deposits works great…as long as nobody defaults on their loan. If and when that happens, things get tricky. But that’s another story for later.

For now, I want you to understand that money is loaned into existence. Conversely, when loans are paid back, money ‘disappears.’


This is how money is created, and I invite you to verify this for yourself. One place is the Federal Reserve itself, which has published a handy comic book from which I drew this fine example. You can find a link to that on the website under Essential Articles.

You may have noticed that I left out something very important here, and that is interest. Where does the money come from to pay the interest on all the loans? If all the loans are paid back without interest, we can undo the entire string of transactions, but when we factor in interest, there suddenly isn’t enough money to pay back all the loans.

Clearly that is a big hole in this story, and so we’ll need to find out where that comes from. In doing so, we’ll also clear up the mystery of where the original $1000 came from.

Crash Course: Chapter 8 - The Fed & Money Creation by Chris Martenson

Suppose Congress needs more money than it has. I know, that’s a stretch! Perhaps it has done something really historically foolish, like cutting taxes while conducting two wars at the same time. Now, Congress doesn’t actually have any money, so the request for additional spending gets passed over to the Treasury Department.

You may be surprised, or dismayed, or perhaps neither, to learn that the Treasury Department lives hand-to-mouth and rarely has more than a couple of weeks’ of cash on hand, if that.

So the Treasury Department, in order to raise cash, will print up a stack of Treasury bonds, which are the means by which the US government borrows money. A bond has a ‘face value,’ which is the amount it will be sold for, and it has a stated rate of interest that it will pay the holder. So if you bought a bond with $100 face value and that paid a rate of interest of 5%, then you’d pay $100 for this bond and get $105 back in a year.

Treasury bonds are sold in regularly scheduled auctions, and it is safe to say that the majority of these bonds are bought by big banks, such as those of China and Japan recently. At auction the banks purchase these bonds, and then money gets sent into the Treasury coffers, where it can be disbursed for the usual array of government programs.

I promised you that I’d show you how money first comes into being, and so far that hasn’t happened, has it? The bonds are being bought with money that already exists. Money is created by this next mechanism, where the Federal Reserve buys a Treasury bond from a bank.

When the Fed does this: They simply transfer money in the amount of the bond to the other bank and take possession of the bond. A bond is swapped for money.

Now, where did this money come from? Glad you asked. It comes out of thin air, as the Fed creates money when it ‘buys’ this debt. New Fed money is always exchanged for debt, so we can now put the title on this page.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a quote from a Federal Reserve publication entitled “Putting it Simply:” "When you or I write a check, there must be sufficient funds in our account to cover the check, but when the Federal Reserve writes a check, there is no bank deposit on which that check is drawn. When the Federal Reserve writes a check, it is creating money."

Wow. That is an extraordinary power. Whereas you or I need to work to obtain money, and place it at risk to have it grow, the Federal Reserve simply prints up as much as it wishes, whenever it wants, and then loans it to us all via the US Government, with interest.

Given the fact that over 3,800 paper currencies (and a few metallic ones) have been rendered worthless due to mismanagement, wouldn’t it make sense to keep a very close eye on whether or not the Federal Reserve is acting responsibly with our own monetary unit?

So now we know that there are two kinds of money out there.

The first is bank credit, which is money that is loaned into existence, as we saw here. Bank credit is a type of money that comes with an equal and offsetting amount of debt associated with it. Debt upon which interest must be paid.

The second type is money printed out of thin air, and that is what we see here at this stage.


The process by which money is created is so simple that the mind is repelled, so don’t worry if you need to review this chapter several more times. I’ve had some people attend my seminar four or more times and they say that this concept is just now starting to really sink in.

However, if you understood all that, and ‘get it,’ congratulations! Give yourself a hand, because it’s not easy.

These monetary learnings allow us to formulate two more extremely important Key Concepts.

The first is that all dollars are backed by debt. At the local bank level, all new money is loaned into existence. At the Federal Reserve level, money is simply manufactured out of thin air and then exchanged for interest-paying government debt. In both cases, the money is backed by debt. Debt that pays interest. From this Key Concept, we can formulate a truly profound statement, which is that at a minimum, each year enough new money must be loaned into existence to cover the interest payments on all of the past outstanding debt.

If we flip this slightly, we can say that each year all the outstanding debt must compound by at least the rate of the interest on that debt. Each and every year it must grow by some percentage. Because our debt-based money system is growing by some percentage continually, it is an exponential system by its very design. A corollary of this is that the amount of debt in the system will always exceed the amount of money.

I am not going to cast judgment on this and say that it is good or it is bad. It simply is what it is. By understanding its design, though, you will be better equipped to understand that the potential range of future outcomes for our economy are not limitless, but rather bounded by the rules of the system.

All of which leads us to the fourth Key Concept, which is that perpetual expansion is a requirement of modern banking. In fact we can make a rule: Each year, new credit (loans) must be made that at least equal the amount of all the outstanding interest payments that year. Without a continuous expansion of the money supply, past debts would not be able to be serviced, and defaults would ripple through, and possibly destroy, the entire system. Defaults are the Achilles heel of a debt-based money system, which we saw in our local banking example in the previous chapter. Because of this, all the institutional and political forces in our society are geared towards avoiding this outcome.

So the banking system must continually expand – not necessarily because it is the right (or wrong) thing to do, but, rather, simply because that is how it was designed. It is a feature of the system, just like using gasoline is a feature of my car’s engine. I might wish and hope that my car would run on straw, but I’d be wasting my time, because that’s just not how it was designed.


By understanding the requirement for continual expansion, we will be in a better position to make informed decisions about what’s likely to transpire and take meaningful actions to enhance our prospects.

More philosophically, we might wonder about the long-term viability of a system that must expand exponentially but which exists on a spherical planet. The key question is, “Can our current money system somehow be modified to be stable, fair, and useful when it is not growing?”

So the question is this: What happens when a human-contrived money system that must expand, by its very design, runs headlong into the physical limits of a spherical planet?

So you see, "for-profit" capitalism isn't really freedom nor liberty. When it's in fact an overpowering institution of nonstop and exponential entitlement claims, that's unsustainable on a finite planet. It's truly a game that's designed to fail.
Posted 4/29/12 , edited 4/29/12

DomFortress wrote:


DeusExMachine wrote:



I find myself reading every word of what you posted as if I were following a person whom is an authority on credible information.

Also, as a gamer, I have seen the blurring of lines, the emotional investment, and the isolation experienced with gaming. Why have I, through all these years, invested so much time and mental energy into something unreal? Well, it is kinda like a book, you receive the information, and your mind processes it into some semblance of a real or cinematic experience. Yet, with games, all you do is control the protagonist through the story. I often find that I am most effected by the genre of horror/shooter type games, since fear is an incredibly powerful and debilitating emotion. I've been frozen in place by these synthetic experiences of terrifying and surreal encounters with beings most certainly detrimental to my health. Often, what you don't see is what really gets you. The power of positional audio, and unnaturally amazing sounds which alarm the player, add up to something more interesting that the "flatness" of real life the common consumer experiences day-to-day. What do the brainwashed civilians have to say for themselves when there is a catastrophe? Did they act upon their compassion to help those in need, or do anything out of the desire to be seen by the public eye as "heroic?"

I think it is a combination of heroics and the mental hypothesizing of what it must be like to experience things from the perspective of some action movie or video game character, unless said person becoming a hero hasn't ever been subjected to the overwhelming abundance of mostly useless information. Who knows how many "fnords" they place in the news print and television broadcasts. The theaters must keep the viewers unknowingly transfixed due to the unbeknownst flash of the anxiety producing word "fnord." But, all that is just some insane conspiracy theory. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Fnord. Obey your corporate masters! Fnord!

And we all know about the human capacity to do "wrong" and cause destruction. It is so wired into our minds that unmaking things can bring such a rush of empowerment. Those who deny it often need their personal release valve for destruction opened once in a while.... which is why we have video games exacerbating that problem. Turning children into manic/paranoid, psychotic school shooters is upon the agenda of all the mentally dead, game producers who have callously normalized all the horrors of America's (and the rest of the world's) hideous social issues. They want the profit of publicity from making impressionable and increasingly insensitive and immature youths want to make their own realities into dark, apathetic worlds of tragedy and slaughter. Or will Batman save the day and wipe the pure evil of video gaming off the planet? Certainly, the reality disconnected minds of gamers and the general consumers believe that Batman or perhaps the Zombie Apocalypse craze will become real, and they can have both of them included in a delux, premium package downloaded into the unreality receptors called their post-modern brains. Who knows?

Before I get too unrealistic, I will finish with saying this single word; extreme.
Everything I've been laying out had to do with "for-profit capitalism", and here's the most powerful "fnord"/disinformation of our modern civilization: fiat currency.

Crash Course: Chapter 6 - What is Money? by Chris Martenson

Money is a claim on human labor.

With a very few minor exceptions, pretty much anything you can think of that you might spend your money on will involve human labor to bring it there. I say it’s a claim rather than a store, because the human labor in question might have happened in the past, or it might not have happened yet.

The concept of money being a claim on human labor is important, and we’ll be building on it later, especially when we get to debt.

As implied in the picture series earlier, literally anything can be considered money – cows, bread, shells, tobacco. A US dollar, like all modern currencies, however, is an example of a type of money called fiat money. “Fiat” is a Latin word meaning “let it be done,” and fiat money has value because a government decrees that it does.

And this brings us to the key question: What exactly is a US dollar?

Once, a dollar was backed by a known weight of silver or gold of intrinsic value. In this example, we can see that the dollar came from the US Treasury and was backed by a given amount of silver that was payable to the bearer on demand.

Of course, that was back in the 1930’s, and those days are long gone. Now dollars are the liability of the Federal Reserve, a private entity entrusted to manage the US money supply and empowered by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 to perform this function.

You’ll note that modern dollars have no language entitling the bearer to anything, and that’s because they are no longer backed by anything tangible. Rather, the ‘value’ of the dollar comes from this language right here: The fact that it is illegal to refuse to accept dollars for payment and that they are the only acceptable form of payment for taxes.

It is crucially important that a nation’s money supply is carefully managed, for if it is not, the monetary unit can be destroyed by inflation. In fact, there are over 3,800 past examples of paper currencies that no longer exist. There are numerous examples from the United States, which may have some collector value but no longer possess any monetary value. Of course, I could just as easily display beautiful but no longer functional examples from Argentina, Bolivia, and Columbia, and a hundred other places

How does a hyperinflationary destruction of a currency happen?

Here’s a relatively recent example that comes from Yugoslavia between the years 1988 and 1995. Pre-1990, the Yugoslavian dinar had measurable value: You could actually buy something with one. However, throughout the 1980’s, the Yugoslavian government ran a persistent budget deficit and printed money to make up the shortfall. By the early 1990’s, the government had used up all its own hard currency reserves, and they proceeded to loot the private accounts of citizens. In order to keep things moving along, successively larger bills had to be printed, finally culminating in this stunning example – a 500 billion dinar note. At its height, inflation in Yugoslavia was running at over 37% per day. This means prices were doubling every 48 hours or so.

Let me see if I can make that more concrete for you. Suppose that on January 1, 2007, you had a penny and could find something to purchase with it. At 37% per day inflation, by April 3, 2007 you’d need one of these – a billion dollar bill – to purchase the very same item. In reverse, if you’d had a billion dollars on January 1st stuffed in a suitcase, by April 3rd you’d have had a penny’s worth of purchasing power left.

Clearly, if you’d attempted to save money during this period of time, you’d have lost it all, so we can safely state that inflationary money regimes impose a penalty on savers. The opposite side of this is that inflationary money regimes promote spending and require that money be invested or speculated, so as to at least have the chance of keeping pace with inflation. Of course, investing and speculating involve risks, so we can broaden this statement to include the claim that inflationary monetary systems require the citizens living within them to subject their hard-earned savings to risk.

That is worth pondering for a minute or two.

Even more importantly, since history shows how common it is for currencies to be mismanaged, we need to keep a careful eye on the stewards of our money to make sure they are not being irresponsible by creating too much money out of thin air and thereby destroying our savings, culture, and institutions by the process of inflation.

Wait a minute. Did I just say ‘creating money out of thin air’?

Yes. Yes, I did.
So you see, all the known world currencies are no longer backed by anything other than a nation states' legislation and enforcement of "we must barter with this piece of official-looking paper". But that's not all there is to it, when like the infinite money cheat code of GTA, private corporations like the central banks can legally create fiat currency without anything really in their own banks.

Crash Course: Chapter 7 - Money Creation by Chris Martenson

First, let’s look at how money is created by banks.

Leaving aside for now where this money comes from, suppose a person walks into town with $1000, and, luckily, a brand new bank with no deposits has just opened up. The $1000 is deposited in the bank, and now the person has a $1000 asset (their bank account) and the bank has a $1000 liability (the very same bank account).

Now, there’s a rule on the books, a federal rule, that allows banks to loan out a proportion, a fraction, of the money they have on deposit to others. In theory, banks are allowed to loan out up to 90% of what people have on deposit with them, although, as we’ll see later, the actual proportion is much closer to 100% than 90%. Nonetheless, because banks retain only a fraction of their deposits in reserve, the term for this process is “fractional reserve banking.”

Back to our example. We now have a bank with $1000 on deposit, and banks do not make money by holding on to it – rather, they make their living by borrowing at one rate and loaning at a higher rate.

Since any bank can loan out up to 90%, the bank in our example manages to locate a single individual that wants to borrow $900.

This borrower then spends that money by giving it to another person, perhaps his accountant, who, in turn, deposits it in a bank. Now it could be the same bank, or a different bank, but that really doesn’t change how this story gets told at all.

With this new deposit, the bank has a fresh $900 to work with, and so it gets busy finding somebody who wants to borrow 90% of that amount, or $810.

And so another loan, this time for $810, is made, which gets spent and redeposited in the bank, meaning that a brand new, fresh deposit of $810 is available to loan against. So the bank loans out out 90% of $810, or $729, and so it goes, until we finally discover that the original $1000 deposit has mushroomed into a total of $10,000.

Is this all real money? You bet it is, especially if it’s in your bank account. But if you were paying close attention, you’d realize that what we’ve actually got here are three things. First, we’ve got $1000 held in reserve by the bank, $10,000 in total in various bank accounts, and $9000 dollars of new debt. The original $1000 is now entirely held in reserve by the bank, but every new dollar, all $9,000 of them, was loaned into existence and is “backed” by an equivalent amount of debt. How’s your mind doing? Is it repelled yet?

You might also notice here that if everybody who had money at the bank, all $10,000 dollars of them, tried to take their money out at once, that the bank would not be able to pay it out, because, well, they wouldn’t have it. The bank would only have $1000 hanging around in reserve. Period. You might also notice that this mechanism of creating new money out of new deposits works great…as long as nobody defaults on their loan. If and when that happens, things get tricky. But that’s another story for later.

For now, I want you to understand that money is loaned into existence. Conversely, when loans are paid back, money ‘disappears.’


This is how money is created, and I invite you to verify this for yourself. One place is the Federal Reserve itself, which has published a handy comic book from which I drew this fine example. You can find a link to that on the website under Essential Articles.

You may have noticed that I left out something very important here, and that is interest. Where does the money come from to pay the interest on all the loans? If all the loans are paid back without interest, we can undo the entire string of transactions, but when we factor in interest, there suddenly isn’t enough money to pay back all the loans.

Clearly that is a big hole in this story, and so we’ll need to find out where that comes from. In doing so, we’ll also clear up the mystery of where the original $1000 came from.

Crash Course: Chapter 8 - The Fed & Money Creation by Chris Martenson

Suppose Congress needs more money than it has. I know, that’s a stretch! Perhaps it has done something really historically foolish, like cutting taxes while conducting two wars at the same time. Now, Congress doesn’t actually have any money, so the request for additional spending gets passed over to the Treasury Department.

You may be surprised, or dismayed, or perhaps neither, to learn that the Treasury Department lives hand-to-mouth and rarely has more than a couple of weeks’ of cash on hand, if that.

So the Treasury Department, in order to raise cash, will print up a stack of Treasury bonds, which are the means by which the US government borrows money. A bond has a ‘face value,’ which is the amount it will be sold for, and it has a stated rate of interest that it will pay the holder. So if you bought a bond with $100 face value and that paid a rate of interest of 5%, then you’d pay $100 for this bond and get $105 back in a year.

Treasury bonds are sold in regularly scheduled auctions, and it is safe to say that the majority of these bonds are bought by big banks, such as those of China and Japan recently. At auction the banks purchase these bonds, and then money gets sent into the Treasury coffers, where it can be disbursed for the usual array of government programs.

I promised you that I’d show you how money first comes into being, and so far that hasn’t happened, has it? The bonds are being bought with money that already exists. Money is created by this next mechanism, where the Federal Reserve buys a Treasury bond from a bank.

When the Fed does this: They simply transfer money in the amount of the bond to the other bank and take possession of the bond. A bond is swapped for money.

Now, where did this money come from? Glad you asked. It comes out of thin air, as the Fed creates money when it ‘buys’ this debt. New Fed money is always exchanged for debt, so we can now put the title on this page.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a quote from a Federal Reserve publication entitled “Putting it Simply:” "When you or I write a check, there must be sufficient funds in our account to cover the check, but when the Federal Reserve writes a check, there is no bank deposit on which that check is drawn. When the Federal Reserve writes a check, it is creating money."

Wow. That is an extraordinary power. Whereas you or I need to work to obtain money, and place it at risk to have it grow, the Federal Reserve simply prints up as much as it wishes, whenever it wants, and then loans it to us all via the US Government, with interest.

Given the fact that over 3,800 paper currencies (and a few metallic ones) have been rendered worthless due to mismanagement, wouldn’t it make sense to keep a very close eye on whether or not the Federal Reserve is acting responsibly with our own monetary unit?

So now we know that there are two kinds of money out there.

The first is bank credit, which is money that is loaned into existence, as we saw here. Bank credit is a type of money that comes with an equal and offsetting amount of debt associated with it. Debt upon which interest must be paid.

The second type is money printed out of thin air, and that is what we see here at this stage.


The process by which money is created is so simple that the mind is repelled, so don’t worry if you need to review this chapter several more times. I’ve had some people attend my seminar four or more times and they say that this concept is just now starting to really sink in.

However, if you understood all that, and ‘get it,’ congratulations! Give yourself a hand, because it’s not easy.

These monetary learnings allow us to formulate two more extremely important Key Concepts.

The first is that all dollars are backed by debt. At the local bank level, all new money is loaned into existence. At the Federal Reserve level, money is simply manufactured out of thin air and then exchanged for interest-paying government debt. In both cases, the money is backed by debt. Debt that pays interest. From this Key Concept, we can formulate a truly profound statement, which is that at a minimum, each year enough new money must be loaned into existence to cover the interest payments on all of the past outstanding debt.

If we flip this slightly, we can say that each year all the outstanding debt must compound by at least the rate of the interest on that debt. Each and every year it must grow by some percentage. Because our debt-based money system is growing by some percentage continually, it is an exponential system by its very design. A corollary of this is that the amount of debt in the system will always exceed the amount of money.

I am not going to cast judgment on this and say that it is good or it is bad. It simply is what it is. By understanding its design, though, you will be better equipped to understand that the potential range of future outcomes for our economy are not limitless, but rather bounded by the rules of the system.

All of which leads us to the fourth Key Concept, which is that perpetual expansion is a requirement of modern banking. In fact we can make a rule: Each year, new credit (loans) must be made that at least equal the amount of all the outstanding interest payments that year. Without a continuous expansion of the money supply, past debts would not be able to be serviced, and defaults would ripple through, and possibly destroy, the entire system. Defaults are the Achilles heel of a debt-based money system, which we saw in our local banking example in the previous chapter. Because of this, all the institutional and political forces in our society are geared towards avoiding this outcome.

So the banking system must continually expand – not necessarily because it is the right (or wrong) thing to do, but, rather, simply because that is how it was designed. It is a feature of the system, just like using gasoline is a feature of my car’s engine. I might wish and hope that my car would run on straw, but I’d be wasting my time, because that’s just not how it was designed.


By understanding the requirement for continual expansion, we will be in a better position to make informed decisions about what’s likely to transpire and take meaningful actions to enhance our prospects.

More philosophically, we might wonder about the long-term viability of a system that must expand exponentially but which exists on a spherical planet. The key question is, “Can our current money system somehow be modified to be stable, fair, and useful when it is not growing?”

So the question is this: What happens when a human-contrived money system that must expand, by its very design, runs headlong into the physical limits of a spherical planet?

So you see, "for-profit" capitalism isn't really freedom nor liberty. When it's in fact an overpowering institution of nonstop and exponential entitlement claims, that's unsustainable on a finite planet. It's truly a game that's designed to fail.


For when a government has unlimited printing presses to fund people misusing money they don't really have on things they don't need, it leads into straight up national debt. With America, we seen the ominous $15,000,000,000,000+ debt accrue over time due to misinformed people making asinine financial decisions. Budgeting and economical spending isn't in the vocabulary of the typical American, who is in debt to his/her eyeballs whether by accident or by pure, blatant force for reasons which may or may not be beyond his/her control. The real profit, as I understand it, comes from the fact that the big business interests have everyone but themselves technically owned. People have become hung by their necks because of some inborn need to have the shiniest toy, bought with a very shiny penny now worth diddly squat.

As for me, I have a very good credit rating, no debts, no creditors after me with their thermal vision, and the common sense to use money I have on things I need, or if I feel like it, what I want. Really really want, not just some item to please other people. I have my little measure of freedom, but the way I see it, I would do well to find some way to bank it big time and explore the world on my own terms. The terms of a person who uses his head, rather than his empty, bottomless wallet.
Posted 4/30/12

DeusExMachine wrote:


DomFortress wrote:



For when a government has unlimited printing presses to fund people misusing money they don't really have on things they don't need, it leads into straight up national debt. With America, we seen the ominous $15,000,000,000,000+ debt accrue over time due to misinformed people making asinine financial decisions. Budgeting and economical spending isn't in the vocabulary of the typical American, who is in debt to his/her eyeballs whether by accident or by pure, blatant force for reasons which may or may not be beyond his/her control. The real profit, as I understand it, comes from the fact that the big business interests have everyone but themselves technically owned. People have become hung by their necks because of some inborn need to have the shiniest toy, bought with a very shiny penny now worth diddly squat.

As for me, I have a very good credit rating, no debts, no creditors after me with their thermal vision, and the common sense to use money I have on things I need, or if I feel like it, what I want. Really really want, not just some item to please other people. I have my little measure of freedom, but the way I see it, I would do well to find some way to bank it big time and explore the world on my own terms. The terms of a person who uses his head, rather than his empty, bottomless wallet.
It's not the governments as states/public institutions, but rather the central banks as for-profit private corporations. Still, the central banks are too well protected by the bank laws, only smaller banks are defaulting on themselves in the most bizarre method possible: robo-signing risky house mortgages to themselves.

Bank Of America Sues Itself In Unusual Foreclosure Case

WASHINGTON -- Bank of America is suing itself for foreclosure.

"It's crazy," housing data analyst Michael Olenick told HuffPost. "They shouldn't be suing themselves."

Over the past two years, the nation's largest banks and the Obama administration have repeatedly vowed to clean up the foreclosure fraud mess. In February, banks agreed to pay $25 billion and overhaul their foreclosure processes as part of a 50-state investigation into bank wrongdoing, resulting from practices that included robo-signing.

But in Florida's Palm Beach County alone, Bank of America has sued itself for foreclosure 11 times since late March, according to foreclosure fraud activist Lynn Szymoniak, who forwarded one such foreclosure filing, dated March 29, 2012, to The Huffington Post. (A white-collar crime expert, Szymoniak was recently awarded $18 million for her work helping the government recover $95 million as a result of bank foreclosure problems in North Carolina.)

In the March 29 filing, Bank of America is seeking to foreclose on a condominium and names the condo owner and Bank of America as defendants in the suit. The company is literally seeking damages from itself in order to foreclose on the condo owner.

"We are servicing the first mortgage on behalf of an investor and we own the second mortgage," Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens told HuffPost. "Naming the second-lien holder in the suit is necessary to eliminate the junior interest," Bauwens said.

"This just strikes me as classic robo foreclosure," Professor Alan White of Valparaiso University Law School told HuffPost. White, a predatory lending expert who tracks and analyzes data on loan modifications and foreclosures, said that lawyers for the bank likely performed an electronic title search to see if any other liens on the property existed and simply wrote down the name of whatever bank came up in the search. Lawyers and paralegals who perform these tasks typically fill out dozens of such forms a day, White told HuffPost.

"I'm sure the paralegal who did this did 100 others that day," he said.

Banks have been caught suing themselves before. In 2009, Dow Jones columnist Al Lewis uncovered a case in which Wells Fargo had sued itself in connection with a foreclosure in Florida's Hillsborough County. The bank owned both the first and second liens on the property and ended up hiring two separate attorneys to deal with the snafu -- one to bring the lawsuit and another to defend itself.

The Bank of America self-suits seems to have emerged from a scenario that investors have complained about for years involving home equity loans. Big banks like Bank of America service mortgages on behalf of other investors. Bank of America processes payments, negotiates with borrowers and operates the foreclosure process but does not actually own the loan. Many properties from the housing bubble had an additional home equity loan, or second lien. Banks could charge higher interest rates on these second liens because they were riskier loans -- the second lien is supposed to eat losses before anything happens to the first lien.

When a bank brings a foreclosure case in court, it has to notify whoever owns the second lien that it is taking action. In this case, Bank of America owns the second lien.


But meticulous attorneys would not ordinarily let their clients sue themselves. "It is a little bit mindless on the part of the lawyer," White said. "They don't need to sue themselves."
Posted 5/1/12

DomFortress wrote:


DeusExMachine wrote:


DomFortress wrote:



For when a government has unlimited printing presses to fund people misusing money they don't really have on things they don't need, it leads into straight up national debt. With America, we seen the ominous $15,000,000,000,000+ debt accrue over time due to misinformed people making asinine financial decisions. Budgeting and economical spending isn't in the vocabulary of the typical American, who is in debt to his/her eyeballs whether by accident or by pure, blatant force for reasons which may or may not be beyond his/her control. The real profit, as I understand it, comes from the fact that the big business interests have everyone but themselves technically owned. People have become hung by their necks because of some inborn need to have the shiniest toy, bought with a very shiny penny now worth diddly squat.

As for me, I have a very good credit rating, no debts, no creditors after me with their thermal vision, and the common sense to use money I have on things I need, or if I feel like it, what I want. Really really want, not just some item to please other people. I have my little measure of freedom, but the way I see it, I would do well to find some way to bank it big time and explore the world on my own terms. The terms of a person who uses his head, rather than his empty, bottomless wallet.
It's not the governments as states/public institutions, but rather the central banks as for-profit private corporations. Still, the central banks are too well protected by the bank laws, only smaller banks are defaulting on themselves in the most bizarre method possible: robo-signing risky house mortgages to themselves.

Bank Of America Sues Itself In Unusual Foreclosure Case

WASHINGTON -- Bank of America is suing itself for foreclosure.

"It's crazy," housing data analyst Michael Olenick told HuffPost. "They shouldn't be suing themselves."

Over the past two years, the nation's largest banks and the Obama administration have repeatedly vowed to clean up the foreclosure fraud mess. In February, banks agreed to pay $25 billion and overhaul their foreclosure processes as part of a 50-state investigation into bank wrongdoing, resulting from practices that included robo-signing.

But in Florida's Palm Beach County alone, Bank of America has sued itself for foreclosure 11 times since late March, according to foreclosure fraud activist Lynn Szymoniak, who forwarded one such foreclosure filing, dated March 29, 2012, to The Huffington Post. (A white-collar crime expert, Szymoniak was recently awarded $18 million for her work helping the government recover $95 million as a result of bank foreclosure problems in North Carolina.)

In the March 29 filing, Bank of America is seeking to foreclose on a condominium and names the condo owner and Bank of America as defendants in the suit. The company is literally seeking damages from itself in order to foreclose on the condo owner.

"We are servicing the first mortgage on behalf of an investor and we own the second mortgage," Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens told HuffPost. "Naming the second-lien holder in the suit is necessary to eliminate the junior interest," Bauwens said.

"This just strikes me as classic robo foreclosure," Professor Alan White of Valparaiso University Law School told HuffPost. White, a predatory lending expert who tracks and analyzes data on loan modifications and foreclosures, said that lawyers for the bank likely performed an electronic title search to see if any other liens on the property existed and simply wrote down the name of whatever bank came up in the search. Lawyers and paralegals who perform these tasks typically fill out dozens of such forms a day, White told HuffPost.

"I'm sure the paralegal who did this did 100 others that day," he said.

Banks have been caught suing themselves before. In 2009, Dow Jones columnist Al Lewis uncovered a case in which Wells Fargo had sued itself in connection with a foreclosure in Florida's Hillsborough County. The bank owned both the first and second liens on the property and ended up hiring two separate attorneys to deal with the snafu -- one to bring the lawsuit and another to defend itself.

The Bank of America self-suits seems to have emerged from a scenario that investors have complained about for years involving home equity loans. Big banks like Bank of America service mortgages on behalf of other investors. Bank of America processes payments, negotiates with borrowers and operates the foreclosure process but does not actually own the loan. Many properties from the housing bubble had an additional home equity loan, or second lien. Banks could charge higher interest rates on these second liens because they were riskier loans -- the second lien is supposed to eat losses before anything happens to the first lien.

When a bank brings a foreclosure case in court, it has to notify whoever owns the second lien that it is taking action. In this case, Bank of America owns the second lien.


But meticulous attorneys would not ordinarily let their clients sue themselves. "It is a little bit mindless on the part of the lawyer," White said. "They don't need to sue themselves."


Eureka! I made a mistake.

How can it be the government with presses? Silly me. Without a market, there can be no presses.

And property liens are a perfect way for throats to be slit, i.e. if you sign to have some company install something of theirs on your property, such as fiber-optic cables for internet providers advertising upload/download speeds faster than many computers can handle.

And if I sued myself, I'd do it for the fact that I abused myself in order to make absurd amounts of money, then take some of the money awarded from my self-case and donate it to a reputable charity. Sorry, Jesus, except I am not sorry for the fact that your people can't be trusted with charity.
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