by ilene - January 27th, 2011 2:52 pm
Listen, we know no one pays attention in school. We know history is ignored by everyone except history buffs who are into that whole thing (JDA is guilty of skipping history class in high school, by that point TLP was likely working on his 3rd history PhD) and we know that we can, as a society assaulted with a constant stream of tweets, status updates and 24 hour news, barely remember what happened last week let alone in the last few centuries. Surely Bachmann isn’t the only one to make a mistake like this but really, Michele? Really?
Her entire team needs to be fired for sending her out there looking like that.
Then again, in her defense, if you ask an American elementary school kid about Abraham Lincoln’s position on slavery, you might be told that he fought bravely to free the slaves. The Great Emancipator, the textbooks call him.
That’s what I was taught, you too?
The truth, however, is that Lincoln, like Bachmann, was a politician just doing what he had to do. The Emancipation Proclamation was a political move, you’re a sucker if you believe anything else. Worse? Honest Abe offered good government money to pay off slave-owners to get their slaves out of town as part of his 1860 presidential campaign:
In 1860, the 3,185 slaves in the District of Columbia were owned by just two percent of the District’s residents. In April 1862, Lincoln arranged to have a bill introduced in Congress that would compensate District slave-holders an average of $300 for each slave. An additional $100,000 was appropriated
to be expended under the direction of the President of the United States, to aid in the colonization and settlement of such free persons of African descent now residing in said District, including those to be liberated by this act, as may desire to emigrate to the Republic of Haiti or Liberia, or such other country beyond the limits of the United States as the President may determine.
When he signed the bill into law on April 16, Lincoln stated: "I am gratified that the two principles of compensation, and colonization, are both recognized, and practically applied in the act."
by ilene - September 3rd, 2010 4:30 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Nobody knows the future, so the best we can do is strive for an open mind and flexibility in our thinking and responses.
In 1904, the "fact-based" consensus was that rising prosperity would stretch into the future as far as imagination allowed. The prosperity was so widespread that war, it seemed, had been abolished as bad for business.
In 1904, Imperial Tsarist Russia, though suffering from the usual spot of bother now and again, was stable and enduring. In 1904, Great Britain viewed France as its continental rival.
Ten years later, advanced, peaceful, hopeful Europe stumbled into the Great War, and three years into that war Tsarist Russia fell to revolution.
In 1928, permanent prosperity was again the consensus. Two years later, that hope was reduced to ashes.
In 1930, Germany and Japan were economically troubled, as were the other great nations of the world, but neither were seen as threatening. Less than ten years later, the two nations had declared war on the world.
In 1980, fear of a sudden massive Soviet tank attack on West Germany sparked a series of "what if" books and a push for short-range nuclear-armed missiles in Germany--a U.S. plan which galvanized the Western European peace movement.
Ten years later, the Soviet Empire had crumbled into dust and abandoned gulags.
In 1975, scholars and pundits confidently declared that the "cult of Mao" which fueled China’s Culutral Revolution was so entrenched, so pervasive and so central to China’s Communist regime that would outlast Mao the mortal and thus into the next century.
Three years later, Mao was dead and the Gang of Four lost power. Ten years after 1975, when the Cult of Mao was universally viewed as a permanent feature of China, that nation was four years into the state-controlled, limited-capitalist model of engaging the world that created its present-day pre-eminence.
I think you see my point: consensus predictions of what the future holds are generally wrong. The consensus in the U.S. about the world of 2020 is that it won’t be much different from the world of 2010. All the actuarial tables of Social Security run to 2040 and beyond, as if the road ahead will be an extension of the past sixty years of American global dominance and credit-based prosperity.
by ilene - July 28th, 2010 5:30 pm
History doesn’t always repeat but it often rhymes.
When I began writing ten years ago, I would offer that the opposite of love wasn’t hate; it was apathy.
I shared that thought after tech stocks dropped 40% in less than two months and then recovered half those losses the next two months. We all know what happened next; the tech sector melted 70% the next few years.
Wash and rinse, Pete and repeat; we’ve seen that sequel again and again and again. From the homebuilders (real estate) to China to crude oil, a “new paradigm” arrived. Every time was different and each offered a fresh set of forward expectations that would finally prove historical precedents need not apply
I traded all of those bubbles thinking quite sure they would follow the path of false hope and empty promises paved by their predecessors. That proved true as the real estate market crashed, China imploded under the weight of the world, and crude crumbled just as it seemed ready to stake claim to the new world order. (See: Oil of Oy Vey)
While those bubbles hit home for many Americans, they’re hardly unprecedented through a historical lens.
There was the tulip mania in 17th century Holland as Dutch collectors hoarded a hierarchy of flowers.
The Mississippi and South Sea bubbles of the 18th century emerged in the wake of Europe’s dire economic condition.
The roaring twenties, fueled by an expansive use of leverage, led to the crash and Great Depression while not necessarily in that order.
And there’s Japan, perhaps the most frequently referenced modern-day parallel of our current course. The land of the rising sun boasted one of the strongest economies on the planet before a prolonged period of deregulation, money supply growth, low interest rates, bad real estate bets, and “zaitech” (financial engineering) creating a virtuous cycle of speculative frenzy that ultimately collapsed the country.
Does any of this strike a chord?
If familiarity breeds contempt, the percolating societal acrimony shouldn’t come as a shocker. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That most certainly applies to our financial fate…
by ilene - July 10th, 2010 4:42 am
Courtesy of Tim at The Psy-Fi Blog
Stretch your arms out to either side and imagine you’re looking at the economic growth of the human race over its entire four thousand year documented history. From the fingertip on your right hand to the first wrinkle on its index ftinger more or less covers the first three thousand eight hundred years. From there to the end of the index finger on your left hand represents growth over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
We truly live in an age of miracles and wonders. Medical advances have ensured more people live longer than ever before, scientific achievements have created a world in which we’re surrounded by astonishing labour saving creations and inventions which allow us to waste the time we’ve saved and the extra years of life we’ve been granted. Meanwhile our economic understanding of how this happened has, well, gone nowhere very interesting really. How did we achieve this state of grace?
Science and Medicine
One thing’s perfectly clear – the massive economic growth seen over the last couple of hundred years doesn’t have an awful lot to do with economics. Perhaps the prevalence of capitalist doctrines has prevented excessive government intervention in free markets at too early a stage, but otherwise we’ve veered about wildly while booming and busting our way to a greater level of wealth and health than ever before seen on the planet.
On the other hand this has had a lot to do with medical advances. Medicine has ensured that our useful lives are greatly extended – although a lot of the increase in average lifespans so often discussed is down to vast decreases in infant mortality. Still, we no longer die en-masse of septicaemia. Better, though, improvements in healthcare have extended the useful working lives of people: imagine a world in which most people were dead by 45. Heck, no politicians.
From Third World to First
Along with this we’ve seen incredible advances in science and engineering. In my father’s living memory he recalls the arrival of electricity, sewage disposal and tarmac to his home village. My grandmother was born before the Wright Brothers took flight and outlived – by far – the Apollo program. Yet her grandfather lived in a world virtually unchanged for a millennium: a world of hard…
by ilene - July 2nd, 2010 9:45 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Sorry, apparently only one-fourth of us are dumba**es about the origins of the holiday we’re about to celebrate. And it’s a pretty safe bet that the percentage of people who won’t get drunk and stupid for the Fourth is far lower than the percentage that is strictly stupid.
As Americans get ready to spend a long weekend marking this country’s independence 234 years ago, a new poll suggests more than 1 in 4 Americans don’t know which country America declared its independence from.
According to a new survey from Marist College, 26 percent failed to correctly identify Great Britain as the country the United States fought an eight-year war with to gain its independence.
That percentage of Americans includes the 20 percent who were "unsure" and the six percent who thought the U.S. fought a revolution against another country. Among the countries mentioned were France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain, according to the poll.
Now, we’re not all history buffs, just like not everybody is a mathlete. But this is f*^king stunning, especially the list of "coulda-been" countries.
It’s OK to start the holiday drinking now, right?
by ilene - December 3rd, 2009 5:02 pm
Courtesy of Richard Metzger
Author Charles Hugh Smith discusses his latest book Survival+, an indispensable guide to understanding global turmoil and transformation, weaving a full spectrum of intellectual disciplines—history, political economy, ecology, energy demands, marketing, investing, health and the psychology of happiness—into a uniquely comprehensive book that offers practical principles, not just for surviving, but prospering in the difficult decades ahead.
by ilene - May 19th, 2009 10:03 pm
“It was horrible. Horrible! Like lightning it struck. No one was prepared. The shelves in the grocery stores were empty.You could buy nothing with your paper money."
– Ralph Foster, Fiat Paper Money–The History and Evolution of Our Currency©
Some worried commentators are predicting a massive hyperinflation of the sort suffered by Weimar Germany in 1923, when a wheelbarrow full of paper money could barely buy a loaf of bread. An April 29 editorial in the San Francisco Examiner warned:
“With an unprecedented deficit that’s approaching $2 trillion, [the President’s 2010] budget proposal is a surefire prescription for hyperinflation. So every senator and representative who votes for this monster $3.6 trillion budget will be endorsing a spending spree that could very well turn America into the next Weimar Republic.”1
In an investment newsletter called Money Morning on April 9, Martin Hutchinson pointed to disturbing parallels between current government monetary policy and Weimar Germany’s, when 50% of government spending was being funded by seigniorage – merely printing money.2 However, there is something puzzling in his data. He indicates that the British government is already funding more of its budget by seigniorage than Weimar Germany did at the height of its massive hyperinflation; yet the pound is still holding its own, under circumstances said to have caused the complete destruction of the German mark. Something else must have been responsible for the mark’s collapse besides mere money-printing to meet the government’s budget, but what? And are we threatened by the same risk today? Let’s take a closer look at the data.
History Repeats Itself – or Does It?
In his well-researched article, Hutchinson notes that Weimar Germany had been suffering from inflation ever since World War I; but it was in the two year period between 1921 and 1923 that the true “Weimar hyperinflation” occurred. By the time it had ended in November 1923, the mark was worth only one-trillionth of what it had been worth back in 1914. Hutchinson goes on:
“The current policy mix reflects those of Germany during the period between 1919 and 1923. The Weimar government was unwilling to raise taxes to fund post-war reconstruction and war-reparations payments, and so it ran…