Monday, July 30, 2007

Does anyone still support the war?

I have to admit, I initially supported the Iraq War back in 2003. I listened to the war propaganda, and while I didn't believe the whole uranium bit, I was hopeful that we would finally prove the UN wrong and get all the WMD. I chose to ignore the fact that we gave him the WMD in the first place, but it wouldn't be hard for an evil genius like Saddam to make some more.

So the war dragged on, and we didn't find the WMD. Well, at the very least, I thought, we were liberating them, correct? Unfortunately, Rumsfeld ignored the advice of senior commanders to use the number of troops required to pacify a nation the size of Iraq. "Shock and Awe" would be enough to bring down Saddam Hussein, and the people would rise up and spontaneously create a new, peaceful, democratic, multicultural government. Then I watched in horror as these newly "liberated" people proceeded to pillage their own museum without nary a US soldier in sight. Since the Iraqi army disbanded, it was up to Iraqi Citizens to take up arms and patrol their own neighborhoods, and soon an insurgency set in.

Well, I thought, if we just ship some more troops over there, drastically lower the unemployment, and provide basic security, the country will right itself. Unfortunately, all the sweet sweet contracts assigned to Iraq go towards hiring Americans at over 100 grand apiece. Some of these hires were going towards outsourcing duties the army ordinarily performed, at much lower costs than private contractors. Of course, we COULD have hired a dozen Iraqi's for the same price to do a lot of the reconstruction and truck driving. Perhaps the administration cynically never trusted the Iraqis to rebuild their country? Regardless, massive unemployment likely fueled the insurgency, as pissed off young men tend to want to break things when unemployed.

Allright, fine. So we screwed up on the reconstruction front. And we don't nearly have enough people patrolling the country. Well, at least from an imperial standpoint, we have their oil right? Well, instead of nationalizing their oil industry and selling off the crude to the highest bidder to repay for the war and reconstruction effort (as promised) we simply let foreign corporations come in and do the drilling operations as they please. I'm not being anti-capitalist, I'm just pointing out that we gave away their oil reserves without conditions for paying back the American Taxpayer or the Iraqi Government. Also, due to the aforementioned lack of policing, the pipelines are constantly bombed. The end result is that to fill a tank of gas where I live it costs $3.50 per gallon (I live in Chicago), so the Iraq War didn't put a dent in my gas bill as promised. Also, the American Taxpayer is stuck with the 10 billion monthly tab. As a comparison, the experimental fusion reactor in France, which will lead us to true energy independence, costs just 12 billion US dollars.

So where does that lead us now? I say just give up, and bring the boys home. Sure, that does sound like cowardice, but at this point, it's the most rational thing to do. Yes, people will die, but people will die regardless if we stay there or not. Eventually one of the three ethnic groups in the country will assert dominance over the other two, and stability will be restored. If and when they are ready for a democracy, they will have one, because at this point, we can't afford to force it down their throats.

I would also like to point out how this war has eroded our civil liberties, and how the Abu Ghraib Scandal helped to tarnish our reputation, and made us lose the moral high ground when it comes to things such as torture and the Geneva Convention.

The knee-jerk reaction in this election cycle will be to elect Hillary Clinton to pull us out of this mess, but don't be fooled. Hillary Clinton is not anti-war. The three truly anti-war and anti-Patriot Act candidates are Dennis Kucinich (Democrat), Mike Gravel (Democrat), and Ron Paul (Republican).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Why the recent stock market high wasn't that high to begin with

The pollyannas rejoiced recently when the Dow Jones Industrial Average at last broke 14000 on July 19th 2007. "See!" they thought to themselves, "The economy is doing great! Who are these fools who constantly warn about doom and gloom?". These are also the same permabulls who tend to believe every statistic the government publishes. Here I will show that this new "high" was never high to begin with, and any profits made by tracking the DJI are more akin to a statement issued by the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland fame:

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

Here I will compare the two previous peaks, the aforementioned from this month (14000), and the peak of the internet bubble: on Jan 14th 2000, the Dow Jones reached 11,723. The reasons why I compare peaks, and don't measure from trough to peak are because of hindsight bias and because I want to compare apples to apples (peak to peak, trough to trough).

I'm not going to use inflation to measure the change in the stock market in real terms, as it would involved a longer discussion about what the "true" inflation is. Instead I will compare the purchasing power of the dollar compared to other currencies. The currencies I have chosen roughly correspond to the G8. I chose gold and silver as traditional currencies and stores of value.

Data from 2000/1/14 2007/7/19 purchasing
power drop
British Pound 0.60750 0.48770 19.7%
Canadian Dollar 1.45080 1.04360 28.1%
Euro 0.97530 0.72470 25.7%
Gold 0.0035210 0.0014870 57.8%
Japanese Yen 106.150 121.9560 -14.9%
Russian Ruble 28.670 25.44230 11.3%
Silver 0.19610 0.075990 61.2%

The change in the purchasing power of the dollar compared to other currencies is absolutely astounding. The only currency that the dollar has actually increased its purchasing power against is the Yen, but this is mostly due to the fact that the Japanese have been pusruing a Zero Interest Rate Policy for many years now. For those not familiar with it, basically the Japanese have been "running the printing presses" like crazy to stop deflation, but it hasn't been working quite the way they expected (see Carry Trade).

Get ready for the big surprise: the peak-to-peak increase in the stock market was only 19.4%! As an intellectual exercise, if you had bought Euros or Pounds and put them in a regular savings account, and not invested in anything you would have made more money. If, like presidential candidate Ron Paul, you had put all your money into Gold and gold mining stocks, you would be making out like a bandit.

This is why I'm voting for Ron Paul for this presidential election. The Federal Reserve has been devaluing the currency so much, it's no wonder that the stock market seems to be shooting through the roof! Ron Paul will tame the federal reserve at the very least, and eliminate it entirely if he can.

Friday, July 27, 2007

International support for Ron Paul

It seems as if the message of liberty, peace, and prosperity is loved not only in the United States, but throughout the world. People in other countries have spontaneously picked up the message of Ron Paul. Witnesseth:

And then there is, of course, The Austrian School of Economics (English) who is behind Ron Paul.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ron Paul Cures Video Game Addiction

Put down that controller, boys and girls, Ron Paul may just cure you of video game and television addiction! Witness this young man attest to this fact:

Ron Paul noticed this effect early on:
"Remember the complaints that kids were addicted to TV and video games, and ignored the world around them? There are plenty who don't fit that bill. And the tool in their hands and ours is the internet. With it, we can circumvent the biased media."

The Low Unemployment Myth

There is a fairly simple law in economics. If unemployment is low, in means that there are more jobs available for the unemployed to choose from, and employers must make better offers. Wages must also rise for current workers, because it is harder to retain employees: many be tempted to find better work due to less competition from the unemployed. Low unemployment = wage growth.

Unemployment is on the decline, but wages have not increased significantly. I refer you to this chart: "Ah," one may ask "But this shows that wages have been increasing at about 4% per year!". These increases have not been corrected for inflation. According to the government, inflation has been running at around 3.3% for 2007. In real terms, the average wage increase has been 0.7%. This is a low number, considering the fact that it is constantly trumpeted that we are in a "job recovery".

The point is that the government isn't giving you an accurate picture of actual unemployment. The unemployment percentages are low, because unemployment pretty much just tells you the total percentage of people receiving unemployment compensation, not the percentage of unemployed in this country. Barry Ritholtz gives a simple summary of how the numbers are fiddled with.

So, unemployment is worse than it should be: maybe it's a few percentage points more. So 0.7% real wage growth doesn't seem that bad. But hold on a moment: what if the government not only fiddled with unemployment numbers, but also fiddled with inflation numbers? When I first looked at how inflation was calculated--by measuring price increases--the amount of tinkering to make the number look lower was astounding. Shadow Government Statistics attempts to reconstruct the number as it was calculated before the Clinton administration. The number he comes up with is actually around 6%. So now we're looking at -2% real wage appreciation. The average working American is therefore getting poorer.

However, measuring inflation using price increases is simply measuring the effects of inflation, not inflation as defined in the dictionary: "Expansion in the money supply beyond the increase in available goods and services. Often misunderstood to mean a rise in prices, which generally accompanies such an expansion." So to look at inflation, one must also look at the rate of increase in the money supply. There are three major "categories" of money supply: M1, M2, and M3. M1 measures "hard" currency like dollar bills and coins and checking accounts. M3 reflects savings accounts and other US money sloshing around the planet. The Federal Reserve in its infinite wisdom has decided to mysteriously stop publishing the M3. Shadow Government Statistics once again has picked up the pieces and recalculated it, and it's at a frightening 13% yearly increase. So, some simple arithmetic here: 4% - 13% is -9%. The average American is falling behind by nine percent a year.

Ron Paul wants the Federal Reserve to start publishing the M3 again. Will you vote for him?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why I will no longer work on Mursatron 5000

As some of you have seen in a previous post, I had already started creating artwork for the game Mursatron 5000: A Casey Serin Simulator. But whenever I sat down a done research on using a third party game engine or created my own, I got the sensation that I was doing work not having fun. "Nonsense!" I'd tell myself, "This will be awesome! This is for Casey Serin fans and haters everywhere!". Then I thought about it some more. All I was doing was fan service. Casey Serin is going to shut down his blog in August anyway, and after the hatred simmers, he will eventually fall into obscurity. That is, until the day the IRS, FBI, CashCall, and LossMitPro catch up to him and wring him dry. My three book covers I think are enough entertainment.

I have come to the conclusion that I have more useful things to do than to slave away on a video game for several weeks that is likely to turn out pretty mediocre, or worse yet, would be as incomplete as any task that Casey Serin puts his mind to. But, more importantly, I have discovered a more important purpose to my free time: supporting the Ron Paul political campaign. I had actually been following him for a while, as I discovered him to be the lone, sane, honest politician in Congress. He isn't tied down by lobbyists. He holds the "quaint" notion that the Constitution limits the power of government and should maximize the freedoms of individuals as well as the states to make their own decisions. He's for sound money, as opposed to having our money controlled by unaccountable private institutions (the Constitution says only our government can control money... and there was never an amendment to change that). He wants to stop our country from engaging in nation building, as we don't have the moral authority to bully countries into doing our bidding. Why the hell are our troops still in Germany after the Berlin Wall fell? Nation building should only be the result of beating another country in a just war, not en end to itself. Also, continuous warfare on non-entities (War on Terror, War on Drugs) drains the economy and erodes our civil liberties. I digress; my point is that my skills are better served than making a silly game about some naive, amateur, fraudster.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Operation Afternoon Rush a Complete Success!

Chicago Ron Paul supporters recently banded together to spread the message of freedom in Chicago, in an event called Operation Afternoon Rush. We simultaneously canvassed both Union Station and Ogilvie Station. Hundreds of leaflets were passed out, and many who had already heard of Ron Paul gave us the thumbs up. A sweet older lady came up and said "You know, I've heard a lot about Ron Paul from my son!" so the message is spreading.

Recently, Barry Manilow has contributed to the Ron Paul campaign, and is the top candidate of the United States military. If the troops are supporting Ron Paul, which candidate do you think really supports the troops?

Oh and if you don't vote for Ron Paul, Sweet Betsy is going to get you:

To join events similar to this one in Chicago, please join the Greater Chicago Ron Paul 2008 Meetup Group

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Immigration Post on Blue Collar Republican

I was invited to write for after I bravely mixed things up by defending some unfair accusations towards Ron Paul and his supporters. I tested the waters by writing an extensive opinion on immigration, which mostly reflects a libertarian position, and I look forward to its reception.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Europa Barbarorum for Barbarian Invasion

EB for BI is no longer hosted here. It has been released to the public domain and is now on sourceforge.

Note: Europa Barbarorum is an amazing mod for an amazing game called Rome Total War. To those not familiar with Europa Barbarorum, Rome: Total War is an amazing ancient era civilization and combat game, which allows you to manage ancient armies much like an ancient general would. EB takes it to the next level by making the game as historically accurate as possible.

From Zero To Hero: Ron Paul Is Now a Top-Tier Candidate

Just a few months ago, Ron Paul barely recognized in polling statistics. Before the election race started however, he was a favorite among libertarians and admired on a few economics blogs. Due to more people hearing his message on the internet, ABC news reports that Ron Paul has topped McCain in campaign financing with 2.4 million dollars. This is heartening, because this financing consists almost entirely of personal donations instead of the usual special interest or corporate donations. This also omits "in kind" financing due to the fact that donations of time and money aren't calculated until later. In terms of financing, the makes Ron Paul a top-tier candidate. This is a sign that his campaign has momentum, and his poll numbers should undoubtedly go up. He is already the top republican candidate on youtube and a top search in Technorati, but due to this surge in financing, the mainstream media will find him hard to ignore.