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Richard Moyer

Richard Moyer

Richard is an engineer by day, and a political activist by night, fighting would-be totalitarians and government busybodies everywhere.

We’ve all heard grandpa’s stories about how he used to buy a house for eleven cents, but most of us haven’t given much thought to what we’ll pay for stuff in 30 years.

So, I checked it out. Even with a tame estimate of four percent inflation, the numbers were blasting past psychological price barriers that seem almost impossible.

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By 2033, a Big Mac will be cracking ten dollars.

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By 2034, a movie ticket will break twenty bucks, and that six dollar popcorn will be pushing $14.

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By 2026, the humble Honda Civic will be a $30,000 car, racing past $60,000 in 2043.

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In 2031, video games will be flirting with the $100 mark.

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In 2026, gasoline will be $5 at best, with spikes hitting 6 or 7 dollars.

 

While all of this likely, none of it is inevitable. Inflation is not a fact of life. It is being imposed on you by a group of professional assholes at the Federal Reserve. Inflation is an invention of money-printers, not a law of physics. There is no iron-clad rule of economics requiring that everyone have their savings stolen by some idiot at the Fed. These are the same idiots that will tell you rising prices are good for you, while falling prices are bad. Surprise, they're in charge of your money!

It was not always this way.

Unfortunately, everyone who remembered the days before inflation is dead. Don’t forget, the Fed was brought you by the same guys who brought the US World War I, Prohibition, the income tax, and through terrible deal-making, Hitler and World War II. So, you can bet dollars to donuts that the Federal Reserve was a bad idea, too.

But wait! There is a better way, and it is simple.

Stop printing money.

Just stop. Not a little bit of printing. Not less printing. No printing. No new dollars. There are enough. There were enough in 1970. Adding a zero doesn't fix anything.

The quick fix is to stop doing the stupidest possible thing every single second of the day.

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Yes, that will cause a cascade of bankruptcies, yes it will hurt bankers really badly. Yes, it will cause huge writedowns of bad debt.

And then the sun will come out, and well all remember what not to do next time.

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The weathervane, frequently a silhouette of a rooster, used to be how a farmer told which way the wind was blowing. The farmer knew that the rooster's beak pointed into the wind while his tail pointed away. When it comes to the truth, Paul Krugman is a weathervane. However, Mr. Krugman is more akin to the rooster's behind than the rooster's beak.

There is no source more consistently wrong than Paul Krugman's New York Times column, and that is exactly why I read it whenever I can.

This all may seem odd, but just as a rooster's tail must always point away from his beak, you only have to know which end of the chicken you're looking at to know which way the wind blows.

We'll let Krugman fill in the blank:

 

Printing money and counterfeiting away people's savings is  ______.

Krugman : good

Gold is __________.

Krugman: useless and without value

The financial crisis was _________.

Krugman: unforeseeable and unavoidable

Cutting government spending is ______.

Krugman: disastrous

Raising minimum wage ____ low-wage workers.

Krugman: helps

Social Security needs to be _______.

Krugman: expanded

The European slump is ________ fault.

Krugman: Germany's

 

This is only from a few months-worth of Krugman articles, hardly cherry-picking for nuggets of folly. These were, more of less, the theses of his articles.

For the intellectually lazy, if one wishes to be on the right side of an issue, one only needs to read Krugman and head the other direction. For those without the time or emotional investment to study an issue, an anti-Krugman stance may be the most ideologically sound.

A nagging suspicion remains: The tail points the exact opposite direction of the beak because they are connected, and in a material sense, communicating perfectly. That is to say, a total falsehood can only be fabricated with total recognition of the truth. Krugman must perfectly understand the issues of our times, but for some reason chooses to reverse the sign of his message. Either he hates humanity and has a perverse sense of humor, or he found it necessary to keep his check from the New York Times rolling in.

Hats off to you, Mr. Krugman, you are a much wealthier man than I.

 

 

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If codes and steganography (the art of hiding a message) weren't enough for you the first time, here are three more ways to thwart the NSA's multi-billion dollar surveillance machine.


1. Aluminum Foil

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Tinfoil and conspiracy theorists have a long, tense history together. Mel Gibson had a tinfoil-lined apartment in "Conspiracy Theory", and a Google search for "tinfoil hat" turns up comments ridiculing the people who talked about the NSA reading everyone's email before it became common knowledge.

 

Your personal tracking device, that you generally regard as your cellphone, is creating a real-time map of your whereabouts at all times, and sharing it wirelessly with just about anyone that cares to look. Some suspect that going into Airplane mode or even turning it off isn't enough. Wrapping your phone in tinfoil, however, is.

 

What? Tinfoil can stymie the largest spy organization in the world? Yes, and here's how.

 

Electromagnetic waves can go around and through just about anything, which is why cell phones work inside houses, up trees and over mountains. However, electromagnetic waves can be shielded with the use of a sealed, conductive box, which in this case is formed by a piece of aluminum foil. Boxes created for this purpose are called Faraday Cages. Organizations that depend on high security (like the NSA) will make entire rooms into Faraday Cages by lining them with copper mesh, thus keeping people from wirelessly communicating with the outside world.

 

So, if you discover that you're starring in your very own version of Minority Report, and you need to disappear, but you still need your phone, a sheet of aluminum foil will do dandily. If you have an iPhone or any other phone with exposed metal components/antenna, you must first put the phone in an equally high-tech plastic sandwich bag. Otherwise the tinfoil becomes a bigger antenna, defeating the purpose.

 

Too much trouble wrapping and unwrapping? Try a Christmas cookie tin. They work just as well.

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The general lesson here is that Faraday Cages, which are nothing more than metal boxes, can, if properly installed, totally block wireless signals. The applications here are far-reaching; from wireless smart-meters to Bluetooth, a Faraday cage can render useless all manner of sophisticated surveillance equipment.

 

2. Tape

 

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In a totally unscientific poll conducted on dailypaul.com, it was determined that a healthy contingent of people already put tape over the built-in webcams on their computers. After Miss Teen USA had her webcam hijacked by a hacker, it should be clear that just about anyone can be checking you out at any time. Admittedly, most people probably don't care to spy on me while I undress, but the fact remains I'd prefer the All-Seeing-Eye didn't extend into my bedroom. 

 

Sure, you can "turn-off" your camera, or unload the drivers from your computer, but really, the NSA is in on this at the most basic level, going so far as to build backdoors into computer chips and software. Some hacker, somewhere, can overcome just about any digital security you can come up with. So if digital doesn't work, you just need to plug what is called "the analog hole" and bust out the tape. The analog hole refers to the vulnerable point where digital equipment interfaces with the real world, in this case it is a camera lens. The entire back end of the spy system doesn't work if the camera can't see squat, or the microphone can't hear, no matter how good the back end might be.

 

Yes, digital security is important, and if your system is compromised, that is a problem in its own right. But digital security is just that; it's digital, and it's accessible via computer, and for the most part already compromised by someone, somewhere. Ultimately, Miss Teen USA could have saved herself the experience of a creepy dude emailing her naked pictures of herself with a half-cent's worth of tape. Isn't that all you really need to hear?

 

3. The Real World

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The hope of the NSA is that everything can be tracked and detected from the comfort of a massive computerized datacenter and that all the answers they want will just spill out of this global dragnet. However, the biggest analog hole is the real world itself, and digital spying is only as good as its sensors and the information they send back. Ultimately the spies are separated from their subjects by thousands of miles, and this is how a shred of painter's tape can bring the whole system to its knees. But, the concept doesn't end with putting tape over a camera. There are all kinds of scanners and sensors being employed, from fingerprints and retinal scans to gait and voice recognition, and beyond.

Fingerprints? Wear gloves.

Retinal Scans? Reflective Aviators.

Are they using voice recognition? Pass notes.

Are they using facial recognition? Wear a hat and sunglasses. Or a Guy Fawkes mask.

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These Spanish dudes just said, "Screw the hell out of facial recognition software and secret spy cameras!" They just plugged the analog hole and called it done. Is it a little creepy? Yes. Does it defeat billions of dollars worth of people and hardware with a 99 cent plastic mask? Hell yes.

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Lately, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and most every other market index have been on a tear, setting new records every week. There should be hairy asterisks aside these "records" that belie the larger truth: these aren't records at all. They aren't even close to the January 2000 record of 11,720 in terms of real stuff.

The high jump world record is a shade over 8 feet, set by a slender Cuban fellow, Javier Sotomayor. What makes his record useful, and comparable to other attempts is that the inch stays the same. It has a definition that doesn't change year to year. The dollar, however, constantly loses value. Calling the present DJIA measure of 15,962 a "record" is equivalent to me redefining the inch down by half and then claiming the high jump record for myself.

So what's reality? The graph below shows how the Dow actually performed by comparing how much of a commodity $11,720 would have bought in 2000, and how much $15,960 would buy in 2013. Pick your poison, 'cause it ain't pretty.

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Take the Euro, which is a floppy, fake money substitute just like the dollar. In spite of the European Central Bank's whizzing printing presses, it's still beating the old US greenback. It was just barely over a dollar in January of 2000 when the Dow was breaking 11700, but now it's $1.33. While the Dow appreciated 36% in terms of dollars, it only appreciated 3.9% in terms of Euros.

How about a Honda Civic or a Big Mac, two relatively constant products? One is a cheap hamburger, the other is a cheap four-banger sedan. Back in 2000, you could buy a Civic for $10,350, or less than the Dow. Today, the $17,000 plus MSRP of a basic Civic exceeds the Dow by a thousand or more. Sure the Dow went up by 36% in dollars, but in terms of Civics and Big Macs the Dow is down by 19%.

Commodities make it look even worse. Between steel, corn, soybeans, oil and gold, the Dow is 37% to 68% below its January 2000 peak.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, in the midst of a global recession, that companies by any consistent measure would be less valuable than when things were going well. What's disturbing, though, is that no meaningful conclusions can be made when measuring with dollars. Furthermore, the nation makes its financial decisions through the wildly distorted lens of the US dollar with terrible results. Only amidst the dollar's acid-tripping, money-printing delusions could the wholesale exportation of American industry be regarded as the cure for what didn't ail us. Only in an atmosphere of free money could the frenzied accumulation of debt be viewed as a sensible replacement for productive activity. And, ultimately, it is this bend in space-time that makes the stock market set new records in terms of dollars while plumbing new lows when measured any other way.

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Having been foiled in their attempts for more stringent gun control earlier this year, and with an eye on legacy, President Obama and leading Democrats in the Senate and House have raised the bar and taken on a new challenge; passing sweeping legislation to make homicide itself illegal in all 50 states in the face of powerful Republican opposition.

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Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), believes the new bill being drafted will be landmark legislation in American history, "All this time, we've been focusing on guns, and not getting to the root of the problem; murder. For the first time, Americans can feel safe in their homes, knowing that the threat of violence has been ended, once and for all."

President Obama took a different tack, citing his efforts to garner bipartisan support for the new law, "I think the American people can agree to common sense murder-control measures, and I will be reaching across the aisle to ensure that nothing is left off the table in ensuring the our safety and the safety of our children." He added, however, that if an agreement cannot be met, executive action might be next.

 

Republicans have argued vehemently that murder is a matter best handled by the states, with Senate Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), insisting, "the Federal Government has no Constitutional authority to pass laws concerning murder."

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John Boehner, House majority leader, mentioned in an impromptu interview outside the Capitol, "We're not going to stand by while the President shreds the Constitution."

 

Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) gave a fiery speech in Sacramento, condemning Republicans for rejecting what she considered "essential progress". Waters said, "having been a murder victim, I understand the pain that these people go through. It is cruel and irresponsible for someone to stand in the way of key legislation while billions of innocent people are being killed every day."

 

It is unclear how the drafters of the bill plan to enforce the new murder control legislation, and the road ahead is uncertain, but Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Leader is optimistic, "We're outlawing what should have been a crime all along, we are standing up for everyday Americans who have suffered for too long. We know we're doing the right thing."

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