Guest Post: No One’s Issuing Credit—Why Are Auerback and Parenteau?

By John Ryskamp, an attorney and author of The Eminent Domain Revolt

Why, in their article on Latvia’s austerity budget, are Marshall Auerback and Robert Parenteau giving Latvia credit for warm, fuzzy feelings? Especially in the context of Draconian cuts? It’s because Auerback and Parenteau don’t know what they want—their emotions are not grounded in any articulated policies. So they sound friendly. But are they friendly?

Let’s take a look. Maybe they just haven’t got their terms straight. For example, they say: “Mainstream economics insists that one path to full employment is via lower wages.” No, that’s not mainstream economics—that’s police state economics. That’s simply liquidation. They seem blithely unaware that since the power structure in America decided the suburbanization binge was over—that our suburban cow had ceased to be a profit center and had turned into a cash guzzler—America is no longer a paying proposition. So power is taking its flunkey, Uncle Sam, out of government.

That’s liquidation: power is withdrawing government from American society—and right on cue, the rest of the world is following suit, including Latvia.

Memories are short—and sometimes, even truncated. Just because World War II cut short Mellonesque liquidation, don’t for a minute buy the argument that somehow it wasn’t still policy right through the Roosevelt Administration—or that it isn’t always waiting in the wings, asserting itself all the time against countervailing forces (we shall return to those forces).

Liquidation is what is going on in Latvia. There is no attempt to achieve full employment or any other level of employment. Check out liquidation’s repertoire of techniques:

1. monetization
2. cartelization
3. currency race to the bottom gambits
4. credit contraction
5. induced supply chain collapse

and that’s just a very few of them—including, of course, shrinking the budget. The problem is that we don’t have a SINGLE academic study of liquidation as a sociopathology. When and why is each technique picked up and put down by liquidation? We just don’t know. Indeed, according to a supply chain management professor in the UK, to whom I put this question, there is no academic study of supply chain deterioration.

Power goes to power. Power is the assumption AND deduction of power. Power is the means AND the end of power. So Andrew Mellon would have had us believe, and when the going gets tough guess what? We believe it. They seem to have swallowed it in Latvia, and in the United States. I see no evidence of tax strikes, uprisings or any organization revolutionary movement, calling liquidation what it is. The protests are as vague and helpless as the implied protests of Auerback and Parenteau. We must toughen our minds.

Look what Auerback and Parenteau say is the motive of the powerful in Latvia (and their superiors elsewhere). They say the policy of power is to “internally deflate.” This is imprecise. Latvia is liquidating, but also somehow the policy is to maintain full employment. Huh? For them, Latvia is acting “under the mistaken assumption that the [currency peg] was inviolable,” and then they go on to cite the numerous problems with a currency peg.

But it’s not a problem if liquidation is your goal, and looting the population is one way you go about it. I don’t think the powerful in Latvia were under any assumption, mistaken or otherwise, about a currency peg. It is a liquidation technique, a technique for looting—it is not tenable to believe it is invoked without knowing why it exists and what it does.

They call a “hidden assumption”—unknown to the powers in Latvia which provoked collapsing labor costs and prices—the idea that “a debt deflation spiral does not do the host country in as domestic private incomes are deflated.” It is not credible that anyone in a position to invoke a collapse in income, demand and prices, does not know the point of these gambits. It is liquidation. Nor do Auerback and Parenteau show any evidence that the powerful in Latvia share their concerns and are simply naïve, or wrongheaded.

Look at the other thoughts they put in the heads of the powerful in Latvia: “Policy makers have tied both their hands and their feet behind their backs so that markets could work their self-adjusting magic.” Where is the evidence that the powerful in Latvia believe there is such a thing as a market, much less that it is self-adjusting? There is none. Indeed, all the evidence Auerback and Parenteau put forward is that the powerful in Latvia are putting forward all the liquidationist tricks put forward under any police state, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin—you name it.

There is nothing magical, and no mystery, about a police state. What is mysterious is constantly imputing benign motives to people when the evidence shows they are carrying out police state acts.

Here’s another one: “In each of these nations, if the private sector is retrenching already, and the public sector tries to retrench on top of that, unless a massive swing in foreign trade can be accomplished, policy makers are unwittingly inviting falling private nominal incomes and private debt distress into the picture as they reverse fiscal stimulus.” Perhaps the problem with this notion is that Auerback and Parenteau regard as stimulus, bailing out bankrupt Ponzi schemes. Co-conspiring is stimulus? A new definition of the word “stimulus,” to quote the guy in Rules of the Game. But then, I guess if you believe it isn’t, then the logical conclusion is that those who promote “stimulus” are capable of doing things “unwittingly.”

In short, Auerback and Parenteau impute good faith where all the evidence shows there is only liquidation. Why? Because they’re soft on rights. Almost everyone else is, too. The day we gave the political system near absolute power over facts (we did it here in 1937 with West Coast Hotel v. Parrish), and thereby denied ourselves any rights, we let the political system define all the terms. In return for a middle class existence, we surrendered our right to find out the facts. It’s called “health and welfare.” We let the political system decide that. We are not allowed to intervene as individuals.

So we haven’t really inquired into the facts, and we’ve sort of lost the ability to inquire into the facts. Auerback and Parenteau are examples of this. It sounds like their approach tolerates “some” liquidation, “some” level of unemployment. They don’t really understand that the countervailing force to power, is rights. For example, the authors of the U.S. Constitution see only two forces. They see the police state (which wanted to hang them all), and important facts.

Important facts are unchanging facts of human experience, facts which history has demonstrated, are robust and resilient in the face of attempts to affect them. For the Founders, these facts included protected speech. For us—or at any rate, for those of us who have persisted in factual investigations—these facts also include housing, liberty, maintenance, education and medical care.

When important facts are defended, power weakens; when important facts are not defended, power strengthens. That’s the sum total of the Constitution. How can you defend important facts against assault, when you can’t provide the evidence that they are important, because you don’t know that the issue is importance?

Police states know perfectly what important facts are—and they hate them. Does that put you, reader, in the crosshairs? Gee, d’ya think?

It would clarify the thinking of Auerback and Parenteau, and clarify our response to what they write, if they could tell us with regard to two facts they consider so important in their article—income and employment—whether they think those are important facts as defined above.

I think they are indicia or aspects of maintenance, and I think maintenance turns back attacks by interrelating maintenance with income and employment—and also with housing! And also with protected speech! The maintenance of important facts—which, according to this analysis, is what the law does, and only what it does—is a complex, ongoing venture which requires vigilance—political, and intellectual and observational vigilance.

If you practice this vigilance, you really see what Latvia is doing, even according to the generous (naïve?) interpretation of Auerback and Parenteau. It is saying that income and employment are goals, not facts. It is saying that income is maintained by destroying income, and employment is maintained by destroying income. In short, complete nonsense. The evidence shows that income and employment ARE facts, are important facts, not goals, and not policy.

This is why I say that the only response to liquidation, is individually enforceable rights. And that’s why I wrote the New Bill of Rights. It says:

No individual shall be involuntarily deprived of liberty;
No individual shall be involuntarily deprived of housing;
No individual shall be involuntarily deprived of maintenance;
No individual shall be involuntarily deprived of medical care;
No individual shall be involuntarily deprived of education.

If this was the law in Latvia, could the cuts described by Auerback and Parenteau, occur? No.

Is this a laundry list of worthy goals, a grab bag of ideals? No. It is the progress we have made—exercising the individually enforceable rights we have—toward investigating the facts of human experience. We have pretty conclusively demonstrated, with regard to the facts above, that they are important facts.

You only have to understand the issue, to find that this process of evaluation is continually going on. For example, is property an important fact. It may interest you to know that the investigation is inconclusive so far. Also, we are revisiting the settled principle that an exercise of religion is an important fact. Who knew?

If you want to see a perfect example of this investigation going on with respect to a fact—from an initial point of view that it should be left to politics, to a point of view that individuals have control over it—look at the new right to education in the state of New Jersey. I suggest you go to www.edlawcenter.org, to understand the exacting—but exactly vital—process we have to go through, in order to fight liquidation.

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48 comments

  1. bb

    what is this ideologic rant doing here?
    you are talking about a country with the population of a metro area like cincinnati, ohio. this is 2.2m inhabitants, 1/8 of new york’s metro area size.
    the problem was everyone was a builder in the good days and was spending like building homes for foreigners would go on forever. the buyers were mostly swedes and fins who used hefty tax breaks at home for property purchases in this country about 1/7th the size of sweden & finland combined. at 60% top tax rate it is a no brainer to buy property even at 2 times fair market rate.
    well, now there is no more building going on. just builders without jobs. what kind of ideology or currency regime will fix this situation? liquidation of exactly what will help?
    they need education and new skills in order to survive. that takes money and time, the former is unavailable, the latter is plentiful.

    building was so yesterday.

  2. Swedish Lex

    It is a good idea to have dueling guest bloggers and I would encourage more of that. This particular riposte is however blasting in many directions at the same time without much precision.

    A few comments:
    Latvia’s currency pet is a consequence of its EU Treaty obligations. Latvia, like the other central European States seeking to adopt the euro, did not peg their currencies to the euro by choice but had to do so because it is part of the EU package deal. The Treaty sets out the criteria that non-euro states have to fulfill in order to qualify for the euro, which includes stability of the currency. Knowing this, it is easy to see why creditors, large and small, went for loans denominated in euro. This is now the full explanation of why things in Latvia are the way they are, but any analysis of that country will inherently be flawed it this component is ignored.

    There is obviously however an degree of delusion in borrowing in a foreign currency and betting on that the economy and the politics in the future (5+ years – a very long horizon) will work out exactly as you predict, or hope, rather. Sweden pegged the Krona to a basket of European currencies in the 80s, with Swedish banks and their clients savoring cheap credit en masse for a few years. The currency peg was “inviolable” until, one day, it was simply abandoned. Things happen. The Krona crashed, and we know the rest of that story. The same Swedish banks are currently in exactly the same kind of trouble due to their exposure in the Baltics. The Swedish bankers are displaying clear symptoms of an impressive collective disorder: “We are masters of the universe but we are complete idiots when it comes to understanding recent history and the very basic dynamics of politics.”

    So, there was or is no conspiracy to liquidate/rob the Latvians. The consequences of the policy mistakes of recent years however lead to that result.

    1. bb

      Swedish Lex,
      as a swedish resident (or past resident), could you please explain to us readers the degree of involvement of swedish residents (and swedish banks) in blowing the property bubble in latvia. it is such a small country with, if i remember correctly, home ownership rate around 85%, and no mortgage indebtness if we set the past 3-4 years aside.

      wasn’t the thinking of a swede/fin like this: if i am paying 50% income tax rate at home and i can deduct all property purchase expenses from my taxable income, why not buy a home in latvia across the baltic sea? at the very least, i lose NOTHING as the price is 50% subsidized by the government. and when i retire early, i can move there and pay even lower tax rates.
      if you have a destabilizing force such as foreign property demand to the tune of 10 times or more organic local demand, what would the net impact be?

      why would anyone blame the government of an ex communist state that it was even more imprudent than most established capitalist countries around the globe?

      1. Swedish Lex

        These two sources provide a good overview:

        http://www.dbrs.com/research/229995

        http://www.thebanker.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/7129/Latvia:_Searching_for_a_new_path_to_economic_growth.html?current_page=NO_PAGE

    2. DownSouth

      Swedish Lex,

      When are you going to stop running interference for the international criminal banking cartel?

      You claim “there was or is no conspiracy to liquidate/rob the Latvians. The consequences of the policy mistakes of recent years however lead to that result.”

      Your argument is tantamount to pointing a loaded gun at someone’s head, pulling the trigger, and then when your victim lies dead on the floor, you defend yourself by exclaiming: “I didn’t know that would happen!”

      Neo-liberalism always ends in tears. It works that way every time. Guaranteed.

      Latin Americas was the laboratory. There you have almost 40 years of failed neo-liberal experiments. The result is always the same. And yet failed neo-liberal ideology and policies are never abandoned. Why?

      Ah, but goes the refrain: “Being willfully stupid is so profitable.”

      1. bb

        DownSouth,
        you do not seem to comprehend the problem. no one robbed the latvians. as i said already, not only latvia, but all of eastern europe has 80% or more home ownership rate with a massive 97% in romania!!! those people do not have mortgages, people until 2000 would not get a mortgage even from a bank, buying was all cash! even now, mortgages in general are not granted for more than 50% of the balance, and we are talking about no more than 5% of the populace paying down mortgages, only few for a primary residence.

        what happened in tiny latvia was a windfall property boom that came out of nowhere (sweden and finland in fact) and the locals lived quite happily and with the impression they became 2-3 times richer in the matter of a couple of years. well, all this was an illusion. what is lasting is the overhang of consumer loans to buy electrical appliances and LCD TVs which are burdening the family budgets of builders and everyone else along the food chain. for some people, now this is 30-40% of their income (at 10% or higher interest rates). given the size of the crash, even those interest rates seem low.
        there really is no fix, i do not see a way to grow the economy at its present mix. nothing could possibly help.

    1. DownSouth

      IF,

      If you have an argument, why don’t you make it instead of taking these puerile little pot shots?

      Could it be you don’t have an argument?

  3. kevin de bruxelles

    I enjoyed reading this provocative post and I hope to see similar polemics like this in the future.

    Liquidation to me is just the inverse of growth and is therefore per se not necessarily a problem; only the wildest Anglo-Saxon optimists would claim that growth is the only way an economy can move. It seems quite natural that after a wild speculative bubble there would be a period of retrenchment. What can, on the other hand, be a HUGE problem, is the disparity between those who benefit from the growth and those who suffer the consequences of liquidation. And to understand this one obviously needs to view society through the filter of social class. To give a wild example to prove my point, up to a limit I would not have a problem if the bottom 50% benefited from a period of economic growth and during the inevitable liquidation that followed the upper 50% suffered the pain. But of course this is not what is happening today. An important concept to introduce is economic justice, in other words those classes who lead and benefit from the period of irrational exuberance should suffer the consequences of the inevitable depression that follows.

    But enforcing economic justice leads to your statement about rights being the way to counteract power. I am very happy to hear any discussion of power, but I would adjust your statement a bit to say that POWER is the best defence against power. Rights, of course are a necessary part of any just society but they apply to all social classes and are defensive in nature. The Left in America has concentrated way too much energy on gaining rights and in the process have neglected to instead concentrate on gaining raw power. This lack of power places the left in the difficult position of expending its energy in a defensive battle against the inevitable chipping away of rights by ever increasing monopolies of power and wealth. Power can be gained in many ways; one of the easiest is the power to destroy. For example the masses in America can exert power by refusing to consume, refusing to pay their debts, and refusing business as usual by shutting down central business districts or wealthy gated suburbs with mass demonstrations and / or virtual sieges of these areas.

    You see this balance of power between the different social classes in societies like Sweden, but paradoxically a sort of Darwinian natural selection process has created powerful Swedish neo-Liberal forces in response to the presence of the power of the Social Democrats. This works well enough in Sweden where there is more or less a balance between these two forces. But when the Swedish neo-Liberal forces are let loose overseas and invade a neighbouring country like Latvia, where years of Communism has destroyed any Social Democratic force, the result is the disaster we see there today.

    From my point of view the issue is of class power and not whether the economy is growing or liquidating. In either case only through the application of power will benefits accrue to a social class. So in this period of depression, poorer people must organize and intelligently gain and exert power so that they can force the pain of liquidation to be applied in a socially just way. This economic pain is part of the healing process, if it is applied to the right people, and should hopefully temper exuberance during the next period of growth. As it is though, with the rich winning during the bubble and winning during the liquidation, and we are all spirally dangerously towards disaster.

    1. DownSouth

      kevin de bruxelles,

      Superb analysis.

      With neoliberalism it’s always the same old sordid tale, repeated ad infinitum.

      You have a privileged local elite which joins forces with a privileged foreign elite. This unholy alliance of local and foreign elites wins while the bubble is being blown, and it wins while the bubble is being deflated. The local population is liquidated. The middle class is eliminated. The population balkanizes into rich and poor. Large segments of the population are left in abject poverty.

      Latvia went the same way Mexico went in 1995. Social chaos is the end result.

      1. Alexandra Hamilton

        Excuse me, but I respectfully disagree. This is not “neoliberalism” you are seing, this is capitalism at it’s game you’re witnessing.
        You just have to read this document from 1848 to recognize the similarities.
        http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm#007
        It describes precisely the mechanisms that were at work then and that we see at work today.

  4. psh

    Nice idea about the new bill of rights but that wheel’s already been invented. It’s in three documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The first is in force here and it gets lip service because it’s toothless. The second is also in force but it’s been stuffed down the memory hole and subjected to an amazing conspiracy of silence since it provides more protections and accountability than the constitution does. The third is an unmentionable taboo here because it holds governments accountable for basic human needs.

  5. Ramon Oller

    Excellent analysis and discussion on all sides. I hasten to add a much broader perspective to this petri-dish analysis of Latvia. Let us pull back over the last 39 years and understand that a system of control through debt has been very cleverly instituted that replaces nation state sovereignty with a progression of supranational mechanisms of International Agencies directed by financial concerns. This construct depends on international capital flows to discipline the nation states when they diverge from the “Washington Consensus”. Sovereign Debt has been progressively increased starting at the periphery countries and now reaching at the Core Western Societies. I submit to you that there is nothing accidental about the Deregulation and Tax Encouragement of Debt in all advanced nations. I also submit to you that the Overblown Over The Counter deregulated derivatives serves a function of debt enhancement in this new Supranational Sovereignty of Debt.
    Debt has become both political and economic control in one.
    All the mechanisms have been put in place like a puzzle over
    these years. We better become Political Economists again to discern this Paradigm Transformation. The Economists and the Potilical Scientists have been arguing while holding different parts of the elephant’s appendages in the famous
    story. The New Elephant in the world is supranational sovereignty by Global Financial Elites in collusion with Local Elites to generate something that has never been accomplished until the banking establishment convinced their governments to pay the banking losses and therefore
    put themselves in Sovereign Debt Jeopardy. Supranational Global Control by Debt is stealthy and powerful. The present
    software for this control was slowly accumulated with the IMF, World Bank, WTO generating mechanisms where the international capital flows can dictate policy and punish
    non-orthodox economic policy. It is very subtle and it masks itself as the “Invisible Hand”, however it is a very
    carefully orchestrated hand that seeks to impose perpetual usury and debt peonage on the totality of humanity. It seems that a rational decision to eliminate the middle classes of the Western World has been made. The middle classes have always been the fountain of intellectual dissent as illustrated by the divergent and creative views that all of you commenters show. It is up to all of us to
    study this paradigm shift in political economics and become an intellectual voice of reason within our societies. We
    must encourage a surge in participatory democracy and a shift in the collective unconsciousness from blatant greed
    to moderate responsibility for the burdens of our neighbors.
    I don’t want to get too interdisciplinary here, but we are
    all really one, but we delude ourselves into seeing only
    “the other” in other human beings. I want to be clear, that only a powerful force of spiritually driven people with great sacrifice and courage will change our present course.
    Love, compassion and mercy are the real core of any just government and economic system. We all must be more humble
    and work for the benefit of a less severe global economic system. Survival of the fittest may have some benefit, but I think that biological systems show that symbiotic relations are pervasive in nature and we seem to have lost
    a symbiotic perspective in developing political and economic rules. We all have to forget the ism categories and develop a practical symbiotic and sustainable world
    political economic system. Sorry that I have drifted disciplines in my discussion, but we as intellectuals have
    forgotten to write from the subconscious as opposed to writing to elucidate great focused ideas. Have a nice day.

  6. DR

    Latvia is an ex communist country. They know how to operate an economy underground, outside of official statistics. Why work hard just to pay the rentiers?

  7. Andrey Subbotin

    For the last several centuries Latvia (and other baltics) was controlled by Russia, with brief bouts of independence before being occupied again. Since 1991 it is governed by nationalists who are paranoid about all things Russian and whose overriding political goal is to protect their independence as much as they can. Their main tool is to integrate with EU and NATO in every way they can and hope that checks Russian influence.

    Droppng off EU ascension path to devalue is not a choice between two economic strategies for them – it’s compromising their statehood. They are prepared to endure quite a lot of austerity to avoid this (but I wonder what they would do when it dawns on them that with current PIGS troubles the door to EU enlargement will be shut for a long long time).

  8. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

    Yves,

    I was never certain but now am. You get it! It’s always been about STARVING THE BEAST – the repeal/repudiation of the New Deal. In some ways so long as the Soviet Union existed there was a “consensus” between capital and labor – detente/entente – in this country even though the “liquidationists” were never completely out of power or influence. This lasted from approximately 1932 to 1976?

    Ever since, the goal has been nothing less than the gutting/emasculation of the New Deal with the real prizes being the elimination of Social Security and Medicare. But this will only happen when the “beast” is bankrupt and “market confidence” has to be restored in the full faith and credit of $$. Not only in Latvia, Greece, Argentina, the other PIGS, and the BEAT goes on – finally getting to US! The Latvinization of the planet in a neofeudal global corporate world order where the technopeasantry are happy to have a job.

    1. Alexandra Hamilton

      In my view you are right.
      However, I also believe that you need to go back farther in history than the 1930ies.
      What you are seeing here is capitalism’s quest for world domination. This has gone one for centuries.

  9. Rusty_Shackleford

    Complete and utter nonsense.

    This guy’s ideas of rights is ridiculous and self contradictory.

    Somehow you have a right to “liberty” (self-ownership in the present, past, and future, etc). OK, I’ll buy that. It puts no requirement on anyone else other than they leave you alone. Good place to start.

    But somehow, you also have a right to “housing, medical care, MAINTENANCE?, and education”. Well, since you have a “right” to them, they must be provided to you through government, right?

    Well, where does government get them? Does the government manufacture and then sell some good or service on the open market at a profit, and then take those profits and then purchase these goods and services for the population? Of course not. It points a gun at someone and says, “GIMME, GIMME, GIMME, or I’ll put you in a cage like an animal!”, thus violating their liberty.

    This gentleman should concentrate on some very, very basic principles first before wasting his time with other more complicated hobgoblins.

    Unless, this whole thing is satire.

    If that is the case then, well,… Bravo!

    1. Andrew Bissell

      Yeah, the list of “rights” is obviously self-contradictory. Unless the author believes that the right to liberty only comes after everyone has contributed their “fair share” to the housing, maintenance, health care, and education of everyone else. In which case, you’d think he would at least put that particular right at the bottom of the list.

      1. Andrew Bissell

        Or, alternatively, perhaps he believes housing, maintenance, medical care, and education can be made to grow on trees.

  10. Eric Cartman

    Prof. Michael Hudson extensively has been writing in series of the articles about Latvia and Iceland, at Counterpunch.com.

    http://www.michael-hudson.com/articles/countries/090817IcelandLatviaWontPay.html
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmdX6VOOwDQ&feature=player_embedded

    The mechanism behind the capitalist “liquidators” (I very much like this term and it is precisely what neocolonial satraps are) are well known. It is somewhat surprising to me to see folks with New Deal agenda, and all kind of capitalists migrating to “progressive” camp.

    For small countries (and I am from Bosnia), EU has been disaster from day 0. I truly wish that experiment called EU, EMU and now newly planning European Monetary Fund (image of IMF) end up in disaster. Just like the planners (primarily Germany, France, and UK) of EU engineered disaster of ex Yugoslavia. Situation in newly created “independent” countries in Balkan is exactly the same as is in Latvia, but for some reason it isn’t in focus of the corporate and “independent” media. The catastrophe and desperation is state of daily life, except for those who belong to class of “Nouveaux Riches” picked and chosen by: IMF, WB, EBRD, EU, and foreign ambassadors and NGO-complex from ethno-theocratic layer of society, or from “folks on the hill”. For the ordinary folks: “doped with religion, sex, and TV” what John Lennon used to sing.

    More about of the true nature of imperial project called EU, you can read here:
    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=8581
    http://www.keytrendsinglobalisation.com/?p=394

    Of course, everything have gotten the form and image of “democracy”. The Currency Board is invention of the European colonialists, Indirect Rule where local “leaders” are appointed by the European hegemons, as well. In these, so called, modern days, slavery is enforced by IMF, WTO in some degree UN, and the like organizations. It can be find in Easter in South East of Europe never exist to cease in Africa, Asia and South America.

    Now, This Time is Different: the process has knocked at the very door of ruling imperia, to “civilized” world, and “liquidators” themselves.

  11. KMT

    John Ryskamp !?

    This guy used to post ad nauseam on the Roubini website a few years ago. His comments were so repetitive and so ridiculous that I submitted a post to the Roubini site for the first time in protesst (perhaps my first ever post to a blog). The gist of my post was that unless Ryskamp’s comments get blocked, the blog will lose all credibility.

    Unfortunately, my impression of this blog and Yves Smith, which used to be quite good, has dropped noticeably. How could you actually invite Ryskamp to post a message? He is difficult enough when uninvited and merely a bore. Please review his writings, past posts (here and elsewhere) and general lunacy before inviting him again. Please also consider removing this article too, as it will likely encourage him.

    signed,
    A very concerned reader of NakedCapitalism

    1. bb

      with much regret i have to agree that over the past year the quality of posts is dropping. NWO and other conspiracy theories are finding roots here along with heavy ideological debates that have no soil to grow in places like latvia for example.
      add to that references to yellow press like the telegraph or ed harrison’s posts and you get a soup of old breadcrumbs soaked in bitter tears and no nutritients to readers.

  12. Raptoreyes

    So much to respond to so ill start to Kevin De Bruxelles first.

    Dividing troubles like this by social class may have worked in the 30’s but not today. In an information society their are the educated and the uneducated. Many lower class people became educated in how to use money during the boom and therefore rose in status until they were not poor any more. Unfortunately many more lower class people only gained a partial education of how to make money in a boom. Human beings have a tendency to become distracted or stop learning when what they are doing works well month to month.

    The better sort of rich people (such as Robert Kirosaki for example), were warning the world about learning only that financial education that the mainstream finance industry wanted to teach them. (as opposed to the information they needed to remain solvent through thick and thin). Virtuous rich people who were self made and did not have any history of lobbying government for favors were horrified by the 90’s/ early 2000’s. They were horrified by some changes in the law and the excessive money printing of Alan Greenspan. In a boom such voices seem wrongheaded until the music stops. Early 20th century notions of social class may sound intellectual but tell us nothing in a knowledge economy.

    Here is a hint. Find out who the net tax consumers are and the net tax producers are. Some rich are so because of government granted favors while others are rich in spite of favors given to their competitors. Some poor and middle class work and slip down the finaicial system via inflation, demented regulations, and simply to much law with too much complexity for a non-lawyer to understand. We literally are back in the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs where those who can read (extremely absurd and complex law in our case) can do anything they want to those who have limited or no understanding of legalistic writing……..

    ……………………………………………………Responding to the original Author John Ryskamp

    Your quite right John in so far as this is systemic looting by a few individuals at the top. Your analysis misses a few things however. Your words suggest that its private individuals doing most the looting. When in fact its the public private partnerships that are the real mischievous actors here. Property values cannot rise without central banks first creating new money out of thin air and lending it at interest. Loaning money that is in effect stolen from the bank accounts of those holding the currency who loose buying power as new paper or computer entries are created.

    It is then that banks who have huge books with millions of government regulations overseeing them, (mainly to prevent competitors from entering their market) will lobby to knock our or neuter the few regulations that actually restrict their desires. As the economy is flush with cash in an inflationary cycle nobody feels any pain and nobody will notice a few changes in banking regulations among the billion sentences in banking law. The biggest change is always that the bankers are paid on commission not out of profits (profits over the long term are not possible in fractional reserve systems anyway). Then all the incentives are in place to give a loan to anybody “that can fog a mirror”.

    So then the inflationary boom becomes a bust and the banks start repo-ing property and selling it off. The Central bank in effect allows them to play the money in commodities as an after effect of low interest rates. No loans need be made to make any money. So the banks loan money (at interest mind you) on money that took no human effort to produce. Then they get property in any defaults and government subsidy to keep their inherently insolvent fractional reserve structure going. In return politicians are given as much money as needed to outshine most competitors in most election years.

    Banks and governments are in effect rigging the system long before any noticeable bust. Good economy they win and bad economy they win even more. Most people do not even have the financial education to know with legal precision, what exactly happened and fight it effectively in court. Rights mean nothing, when only lawyers have functional legal literacy. The rest of the population cannot even read a contemporary legal document without going into a coma or giving up due to the limits of human attention applied to things outside of the average persons core competency.

    The end result is law only exists for those without resources enough to hire a 1000+ dollar per hour lawyer. Its a high bar similar to the 2% of the population that could read in Egyptian times. Until the law is simplified the elite will just run circles around everyone with high stakes word games.

    End central banking and repeal all legal tender laws. Then simplify the legal code so that any person of average intelligence can understand it in a week or even weekends hard reading. These two changes would make the welfare state impossible but it would also make the systemic looting that we see world wide by the politically connected rich just as impossible.

  13. scharfy

    I Kind of like the dueling blogger format….. I very often read a post that seems reasonable, but would like to see it debunked, or put to the test, by a skilled opponent.

    The above author seems to be on the right path in his critique of Aurback/Parenteau, but mid way through the article devolves into a series of ideological rants, somewhat assertive, part hopey-changey. I dont disagree with many of his opinions, but they remain opinion.

    Anyway I appreciate the format, and would encourage more of this point/counterpoint debate style on various issues.

    Caveat: Heavyweights vs heavyweights please. No “setup straw man” – knock him down!. – Thats FoxNews/MSNBC style garbage.

  14. michel

    I don’t have a clue what either one of them is proposing. But this is common with these emotional rants. And one suspects the reason they are both of them unable to set out simply what they think should be done, is that when it is set out like that, it will be wildly incoherent.

    The problem is, there is a huge heap of bad debt out there. You can rave about Mellon and liquidationism till blue in face, but in the end, you have to do something about that bad debt. What exactly do you propose doing about it? There are only so many things you can do. Which of them do the authors, either set, propose doing?

    Evidently they do not want the debts to default. I think they probably don’t want the state to take over the debts and make the creditors whole. But its not clear. OK, what exactly do you guys want?

  15. Andrew Bissell

    Just because World War II cut short Mellonesque liquidation …

    Give me a break. The DJIA hit its low (arguably one of the best measures of liquidation) in 1932, SEVEN YEARS before the start of World War II. Recovery from the Depression was already progressing (albeit in fits and starts) until WWII came along and gave high school history teachers an event to point to as the country’s “salvation” from depression.

  16. MattJ

    Calling for a right to anything that can only be provided by another (education, housing, maintenance, medical care) is the true sign of authoritarianism. If someone can not afford or is not willing to pay the market price for such things, how is it to be provided for them? By taking it from others or taking the means to pay for it from others.

  17. Alan

    KMT: “…ad nauseam… repetitive… ridiculous…
    difficult enough… merely a bore… general lunacy…”

    Would it be too much to ask that you present some sort
    of real response or counterargument to what he has
    written, rather than doing NOTHING but spout insults?

  18. cas127

    Yves,

    If you don’t want to be made to look bad (very bad) by guest bloggers whose frenzied rants evidence a lack of knowledge (about economics, law, history – hell, you name it) then you need to put a very, VERY big disclaimer at the start of their posts.

    Otherwise it looks like you implicitly endorse their views (after all – it is *YOUR* blog – you exercise editorial control).

    I’m really, really, really hoping that you don’t endorse this person’s views. Where did you find him?

  19. Alan

    cas127: “…frenzied rants…. lack of knowledge…
    really really really hoping…. where did you find him?”

    Would it be too much to ask that you present some sort
    of real response or counterargument to what he has
    written, rather than doing NOTHING but spout insults?

  20. John Ryskamp

    The Left in America has concentrated way too much energy on gaining rights and in the process have neglected to instead concentrate on gaining raw power. This lack of power places the left in the difficult position of expending its energy in a defensive battle against the inevitable chipping away of rights by ever increasing monopolies of power and wealth. Power can be gained in many ways; one of the easiest is the power to destroy. For example the masses in America can exert power by refusing to consume, refusing to pay their debts, and refusing business as usual by shutting down central business districts or wealthy gated suburbs with mass demonstrations and / or virtual sieges of these areas.”

    If it were only so! The “left” in America was never really about rights–it was about what you suggest, “power.” The “left” here respected the incorrect view that West Coast Hotel v. Parrish and, above all, United States v. Carolene Products, stand for the proposition that there are “social” and “political” facts. “Social” facts are housing, for example. “Political” facts are free speech,
    for example.

    The thought was that if you were vocal enough, using your political facts, to influence policy, then you didn’t need rights to social facts. This somehow reflected the Constitutional scheme, because if social facts had to be adjudicated, it would get too messy–judges would wind up as legislators.

    So the left put forward only very feeble and unconvincing arguments to gain more rights for social facts. Want to read some of their pathetically bad legal reasoning? Just read (online)

    DeShaney v. Winnebago County
    Lindsey v. Normet
    Dandridge v. Williams

    The whole “social rights” bag of failed Supreme Court cases.

    Guess what their problem was? THEY DIDN’T READ WEST COAST AND CAROLENE PRODUCTS CAREFULLY.

    Let’s sneak a peek, shall we? Here’s how the Court finds Constitutional a Washington State minimum wage law. Adopting the State legislature’s findings it says:

    “SEC. 2. It shall be unlawful to employ women or minors in any industry or occupation within the State of Washington under conditions of labor detrimental to their health or morals, and it shall be unlawful to employ [p387] women workers in any industry within the State of Washington at wages which are not adequate for their maintenance.

    SEC. 3. There is hereby created a commission to be known as the “Industrial Welfare Commission” for the State of Washington, to establish such standards of wages and conditions of labor for women and minors employed within the State of Washington as shall be held hereunder to be reasonable and not detrimental to health and morals, and which shall be sufficient for the decent maintenance of women.”

    And look what the Court says in Carolene, affirming the Constitutionality of a law banning milk fillers:

    “In twenty years, evidence has steadily accumulated of the danger to the public health from the general consumption of foods which have been stripped of elements essential to the maintenance of health. The Filled Milk Act was adopted by Congress after committee hearings, in the course of which eminent scientists and health experts testified. An extensive investigation was made of the commerce in milk compounds in which vegetable oils have been substituted for natural milk fat, and of the effect upon the public health of the use of such compounds as a food substitute for milk. The conclusions drawn from evidence presented at the hearings were embodied in reports of the [p149] House Committee on Agriculture, H.R. No. 365, 67th Cong., 1st Sess., and the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, Sen.Rep. No. 987, 67th Cong., 4th Sess. Both committees concluded, as the statute itself declares, that the use of filled milk as a substitute for pure milk is generally injurious to health and facilitates fraud on the public.”

    What word is used in both cases?

    Maintenance. Policy is upheld because it maintains “important” facts. What are “important” facts? They are

    1. facts of human experience
    2. which history demonstrates
    3. are unaffected by attempts to affect them.

    That is, they are facts which the records shows, are robust and resilient with regard to attempts on them. The test comes from the case which took exercises of religion OUT of the political system, and put power over them INTO the hands of individuals, West Virginia v. Barnette. Here is what the Court said:

    “Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good, as well as by evil, men. Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, but, at other times and places, the ends have been racial or territorial security, support of a dynasty or regime, and particular plans for saving souls. As first and moderate methods to attain unity have failed, those bent on its accomplishment must resort to an ever-increasing severity. [p641] As governmental pressure toward unity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be. Probably no deeper division of our people could proceed from any provocation than from finding it necessary to choose what doctrine and whose program public educational officials shall compel youth to unite in embracing. Ultimate futility of such attempts to compel coherence is the lesson of every such effort from the Roman drive to stamp out Christianity as a disturber of its pagan unity, the Inquisition, as a means to religious and dynastic unity, the Siberian exiles as a means to Russian unity, down to the fast failing efforts of our present totalitarian enemies. Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

    It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.”

    Thus, the test of Constitutionality is not whether a policy with respect to a fact is “rationally related to a legitimate government purpose,” which is the current “minimum scrutiny” test under West Coast Hotel.

    The Court’s test is whether a policy maintains important facts.

    It is a very difficult process, and a very long one, to determine that a fact is an important fact. A very good place to start is whether government, in its policy making, ITSELF regards a fact as important.

    For example, it is pretty clear that in developing HAMP, the government used its own Barnette test and concluded that housing is important. Indeed, in 2009 the Internal Revenue Service made a determination that housing is the “general welfare.” Revenue Ruling 2009-19.

    So why are there still evictions? Evictions certainly don’t maintain housing. It is because we are in a transitional phase, between the “scrutiny” regime (in which the Court exercises very little scrutiny over policy by applying the “minimum scrutiny” test) and the “maintenance” regime I developed in my book The Eminent Domain Revolt.

    The temptation is still to reach for the police state remedy. It’s so convenient, so attractive–it’s “power.” But all the facts in the New Bill of Rights, mentioned in the book–liberty, maintenance, housing, education and medical care–come from long processes of trial and error as part of an unending factual investigation of the facts. If you want another example of the hard slog toward rights, follow the implementation of the housing right in the South Africa Constitution. The United States did everything it could to prevent, and then water down, the housing right in the South African Constitution. And it is weaker than the one I put forth. Nevertheless, it has been deemed litigable by individuals, and you should see the enormous conceptual mess it has brought to the surface. We really don’t know what, in fact, housing is, or what, in fact, is its connection to government, to the economy, to medical care–to anything, really. But we are always in the process of making those factual investigations.

    This site would be a perfect place to talk about “property.” Remember “property” rights? I talked to some of the property rights advocates when I wrote the book. Guess what? They couldn’t tell me whether property was a fact or a goal? They had no idea what level of scrutiny it enjoyed under the “scrutiny” regime. And this is why they have been as unsuccessful with the courts, as was the “left” trying to argue for a right to housing. They didn’t know their facts. And they didn’t know the law. How’s that working out for you?

    They couldn’t discuss the facts at all. That’s what comes from having recourse in the first instance to “power.” Rights are facts, not goals. Once you understand that, you don’t reach the question of “power.”

    And I don’t mean to suggest that “power” either is or is not a fact, only that those who preach “power” don’t understand what, in FACT, it is, any better than those who profess “property.”

    1. Alexandra Hamilton

      “The Left in America has concentrated way too much energy on gaining rights and in the process have neglected to instead concentrate on gaining raw power. This lack of power places the left in the difficult position of expending its energy in a defensive battle against the inevitable chipping away of rights by ever increasing monopolies of power and wealth.”
      ———————————————————–
      Well, capitalism is the religion of the psychopaths. This special type of personality is especially attracted by and successfull in capitalism.
      Those personality types crave for attention and unchecked power (over others). Capitalism provides that.
      The Right is defending capitalism and thus attracts these types of persons more than the Left does.
      It is does not suprising that the Right, having most of these persons having this crave for power in their ranks, is more efficient in gaining an maintaining power.
      In fact, I believe that true leftists are decent persons, and thus at a disadvantage in a world where predators rule.
      The Constitution (all democratic constitutions) was supposed to protect us from that – somehow it didn’t work.

  21. Vinny

    Interesting, but the author seems to lack understanding of the fact that in former communist ststes, such as Latvia, corruption and black market represent such a major part of the economy, it is impossible to come up with any relevant economy or employment statistics. As one who spends a lot of time in Eastern Europe, I assure you most people there are far better off than their official $400 a month salary would have some westerners believe. Just look at the density of BMWs, Mercedeses, snd the size of the new homes in highly corrupt nations like Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria, and compare that with the UK or the Netherlands. Trust me, these prople sre not as poor as one might thing. As far as concepts such as credit, they are almost irrelevant in these cash-based societies. These nations operate outside of the banksters’ webs.

    Vinny

  22. michel

    The authors of both articles probably lack understandings of all kinds of things, they may be left, right or have charm, but if they are unable to say in a few sentences exactly what they think should be done about debt, and what would be the consequences if all countries went about doing whatever they think is to be done, their stuff will remain completely opaque.

    All we can say right now is that they are all very excited about something, and there is something going on they do not like.

    Not very useful.

  23. KMT

    To Yves Smith and anyone else defending this author, his post or its substance:

    Simply do a Google search on “John Ryskamp”, “John H. Ryskamp” or “John Henry Ryskamp” and you’ll find similar rantings and ravings, and complaints about those rants and raves from others. His behavior (never mind the substance of what he spews) on other sites alone should disqualify him.

    That Ms. Smith has invited and seemingly ENDORSED someone like Ryskamp to post an article is greatly disappointing. As I said before, it greatly diminishes the stature of this site and makes me question Ms. Smith’s judgment and views. I used to like and respect this site.

    I know that it is a significant task to gather and screen content. In this case though, if Ms. Smith were to do a 30-second background check (e.g., Google), she would find that she has made a big mistake.

  24. Septeus7

    The author’s bill of rights seems quite familiar. Perhaps he was thinking of this FDR speech:

    “It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

    This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

    As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

    We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.”[2] People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

    In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

    Among these are:

    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

    The right of every family to a decent home;

    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

    The right to a good education.

    All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.”

    America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

  25. Evelyn Sinclair

    I haven’t encountered this writer previously, but I did feel uncomfortable with the bumpy, imprecise writing style, as well as the wandering topic.

    The use of the word ‘fact’ as some kind of weird, all-purpose transformative for various concepts kept being very distracting from his points. It makes for an irritating read.

    I love the comments here!

    There are such intelligent, deeply analytical thinkers here, who write so much more coherently than the guest post they are responding to, I think some of them have done a much better job of actually explaining things.

    I’m not sure what this person’s first language is, but I’m surprised to see his credentials include authorship of a book. Presumably in English.

    Look at this writing:

    “…the countervailing force to power, is rights. For example, the authors of the U.S. Constitution see only two forces. They see the police state (which wanted to hang them all), and important facts.

    Huh? Oh, OK, “rights” are, for some reason, defined as “facts.”I’m all for rights, but calling them facts won’t help. His very next paragraph:

    “Important facts are unchanging facts of human experience, facts which history has demonstrated, are robust and resilient in the face of attempts to affect them. For the Founders, these facts included protected speech. For us—or at any rate, for those of us who have persisted in factual investigations—these facts also include housing, liberty, maintenance, education and medical care.”

    Well, those facts certainly are facts, aren’t they. Very important facty facts.

    I wonder if when this guy orders a pizza if all his toppings are FACTS….

    With, a few, extra, commas.

    Actually, this can be kind of fun. Here’s a Zen koan, just a paragraph later:

    “How can you defend important facts against assault, when you can’t provide the evidence that they are important, because you don’t know that the issue is importance?”

    Not saying I know what it means, but it has a near-mystical, Klein bottle logic ing into itself but not out again.

    But back to the idea of Facts. What are facts besides righte?

    “…two facts they consider so important in their article—income and employment—whether they think those are important facts as defined above.”

    OK, so income is a fact, and employment is a fact.

    And “The maintenance of important facts—which, according to this analysis, is what the law does, and only what it does—…”

    So the sole function of law is maintaining facts such as income and employment?

    At this point I have become distracted and disoriented. He goes on to make some kind of points, but he’s lost my good will. I’m still peeved that he can’t make his case without doing perverted things to a perfectly nice word like “fact.”

    Is there anything that isn’t a fact, I’m wondering? “Housing” is a fact? “Liberty” is a fact? Same kind of fact? Housing seems so solid, where I always thought of liberty as more of an abstract concept. He says “maintenance” is a fact. Would “High Maintenance” be a high fact?

    He lets us know:

    “For example, is property an important fact. It may interest you to know that the investigation is inconclusive so far. Also, we are revisiting the settled principle that an exercise of religion is an important fact. Who knew?”

    Does anyone understand what any of these sentences might mean? Including the first one, which may or may not be a question?

    Who or what do you think might be investigating any allegations that property is a fact, important or otherwise? Is there some kind of linguistic enquiry, or is this an obscure philosophical problem? Is this investigating entity the same “we” who are revisiting this settled principle regarding religion?

    Most of the other writers who post here are so unimaginative in using words according to their commonly understood definitions, it takes very little extra effort to tease out their intricacies.

    Alas, this author has all the vague cloudiness of a mystic, producing slender tendrils of thoughts in baroque spirals, his offerings proving devoid of poetry or profundity.

  26. KMT

    Ryskamp writing ==> gibberish

    Ryskamp postings on other sites ==> irritating

    Ryskamp invitation & endorsement by this site ==> embarrassing to Yves Smith and her readers

  27. John Ryskamp

    I looked over the comments on my little essay, and this one struck me as representative of kind of thinking which has to be overcome in order to establish new rights. It is really worth studying closely, and I do, because it is a very revealing look inside the thinking of a person who opposes individually enforceable rights.

    Never mind that a lot of the words and ideas I use come right out of court cases. It is characteristic of these people (laypersons, to be sure) to wipe all the pieces off the chessboard and go right back to their primal scream. And it is amusing to watch them play lawyer–and they should, because the laws belong to them.

    There is nothing pretty about the tres petit bourgeois mind–but it can’t be ignored. Which is why I wrote the essay. To me, what this response shows is–not that this person either agrees or disagrees with me–but instead, that this person is actually starting to THINK about rights as they relate to facts. And in her comment we overhear her mind, trying to cope with something new. She has not previously thought there was ANY relation between facts and rights, or that power may have a use for these concepts, as opposed to her OWN use for these concepts. She is starting to take ownership of ideas. She has climbed down from the tree, thrown away her banana, and is starting to stand on her own two feet. Good for her. She is trying to be human. For this reason, I find her comment very moving. Listen to the voice of an emerging consciousness of rights:

    I haven’t encountered this writer previously, but I did feel uncomfortable with the bumpy, imprecise writing style, as well as the wandering topic.

    The use of the word ‘fact’ as some kind of weird, all-purpose transformative for various concepts kept being very distracting from his points. It makes for an irritating read.

    I love the comments here!

    There are such intelligent, deeply analytical thinkers here, who write so much more coherently than the guest post they are responding to, I think some of them have done a much better job of actually explaining things.

    I’m not sure what this person’s first language is, but I’m surprised to see his credentials include authorship of a book. Presumably in English.

    Look at this writing:

    “…the countervailing force to power, is rights. For example, the authors of the U.S. Constitution see only two forces. They see the police state (which wanted to hang them all), and important facts.

    Huh? Oh, OK, “rights” are, for some reason, defined as “facts.”I’m all for rights, but calling them facts won’t help. His very next paragraph:

    “Important facts are unchanging facts of human experience, facts which history has demonstrated, are robust and resilient in the face of attempts to affect them. For the Founders, these facts included protected speech. For us—or at any rate, for those of us who have persisted in factual investigations—these facts also include housing, liberty, maintenance, education and medical care.”

    Well, those facts certainly are facts, aren’t they. Very important facty facts.

    I wonder if when this guy orders a pizza if all his toppings are FACTS….

    With, a few, extra, commas.

    Actually, this can be kind of fun. Here’s a Zen koan, just a paragraph later:

    “How can you defend important facts against assault, when you can’t provide the evidence that they are important, because you don’t know that the issue is importance?”

    Not saying I know what it means, but it has a near-mystical, Klein bottle logic ing into itself but not out again.

    But back to the idea of Facts. What are facts besides righte?

    “…two facts they consider so important in their article—income and employment—whether they think those are important facts as defined above.”

    OK, so income is a fact, and employment is a fact.

    And “The maintenance of important facts—which, according to this analysis, is what the law does, and only what it does—…”

    So the sole function of law is maintaining facts such as income and employment?

    At this point I have become distracted and disoriented. He goes on to make some kind of points, but he’s lost my good will. I’m still peeved that he can’t make his case without doing perverted things to a perfectly nice word like “fact.”

    Is there anything that isn’t a fact, I’m wondering? “Housing” is a fact? “Liberty” is a fact? Same kind of fact? Housing seems so solid, where I always thought of liberty as more of an abstract concept. He says “maintenance” is a fact. Would “High Maintenance” be a high fact?

    He lets us know:

    “For example, is property an important fact. It may interest you to know that the investigation is inconclusive so far. Also, we are revisiting the settled principle that an exercise of religion is an important fact. Who knew?”

    Does anyone understand what any of these sentences might mean? Including the first one, which may or may not be a question?

    Who or what do you think might be investigating any allegations that property is a fact, important or otherwise? Is there some kind of linguistic enquiry, or is this an obscure philosophical problem? Is this investigating entity the same “we” who are revisiting this settled principle regarding religion?

    Most of the other writers who post here are so unimaginative in using words according to their commonly understood definitions, it takes very little extra effort to tease out their intricacies.

    Alas, this author has all the vague cloudiness of a mystic, producing slender tendrils of thoughts in baroque spirals, his offerings proving devoid of poetry or profundity.

    1. Evelyn Sinclair

      A Conversation From Alice in Wonderland:

      `I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

      Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

      `But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.
      `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

      `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master — that’s all.’

      Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

      `Would you tell me please,’ said Alice, `what that means?’

      `Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. `I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject….

      (substitute “Fact” for glory…)

    2. Evelyn Sinclair

      “I looked over the comments on my little essay, and this one struck me as representative of kind of thinking which has to be overcome in order to establish new rights. It is really worth studying closely, and I do, because it is a very revealing look inside the thinking of a person who opposes individually enforceable rights.”

      You picked me! My post! Gosh, you’re going to point out what’s wrong with my thinking because I complain about muddy, imprecise writing.

      Oh wait – suddenly I’m told I have this big objection to “individually enforceable rights.” I wonder where that came from.

      I object to poor writing.

      Is that the same as being opposed to “individually enforceable rights?”

      Curiouser and curiouser.

    3. Psittakos

      I am reading this late at night, and I am starting to worry that something is wrong with me.

  28. SH

    Just to counter a shot at Marshall I will say that I think you completely misunderstood his thesis. The thesis was that when the heavy hand imposes austerity, you get a crap response, so the response was incorrect. Your post insinuates he advocated that response. If you are correct I misread Marshall. I only argue that long-term, more than a couple years GDP prints, the results may not be that bad, and may actually be better. Only time will tell.

  29. KMT

    In my entire life, I’ve posted at most 20 comments on the internet. Unfortunately, John H. Ryskamp is such an ass that at least a quarter of my comments are directed towards him. And I cannot let him have the last word here.

    His thinking is muddled and his writing is gibberish, but, worst of all, his manners and attitude are so insulting and pompous that I must try to get the last word in.

    John Ryskamp seems to feel he is particularly entitled to voice his opinion because he is a lawyer (“it is amusing to watch them play lawyer”). Ryskamp is a graduate of Golden Gate University and is an “immigration consultant” to a few Bay Area companies. I can hardly imagine a worse pedigree, a less meaningful career, or a bigger idiot.

    John Henry Ryskamp – please spare everyone from your thoughts in the future. You are a douche.

    (See, e.g., Google search “john ryskamp”)

  30. Evelyn Sinclair

    I just realized what this writing reminded me of, complete with eccentric punctuation: Dr. Bronner’s soap labels!

    You must have run across them – they cover the whole container in tiny type, and talk about Dr. Bronner’s personal philosophy in bursts of enthusiastic but disjointed prose.

    Here is a link to a fun “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Quote Generater!”

    http://iconocla.st/dr.bronner/

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