Friday, November 18, 2011

Barack Obama Might Be Dumb, But It Could Be Worse

Barack Obama, the great biracial hope, hasn't brought much in the way of change to Washington, D.C.  Then again, he probably never intended to do so.  His ascendancy was paved by the gold-gilded palms laid down in his path by Goldman Sachs and UBS as he rode that ass otherwise known as John McCain into our governmental Jerusalem.  The barking and yapping bitch who nipped at John's heels was Sarah Palin, who did more to build her brand than she did to bolster McCain's non-existent electoral hopes.  John has slain his thousands, and Sarah has slain her ten thousands...

What we have to point after nearly three years of Obama is simple enough to comprehend: hypothetical accomplishments.  After $23 trillion backdoor bailouts, interest free loans, and front door bailouts, our banks are still insolvent but have benefited mightily from relaxed accounting requirements that enable banks to evade reporting their bad debts.  As a result, they report quarterly profits using Enron-style accounting.  However, the hypothetical accomplishment is this: they would have been liquidated had St. Barack not taken decisive action to legalize fraudulent accounting through his regulatory agencies.  What a tragedy that would have been.  

We have 20% real unemployment in this country, another ten million homes at risk of foreclosure, and those homes that have been foreclosed on and sold to new owners do not have clear title because the banks that foreclosed on those homes often didn't have clear title to the properties in question.  But it would have been much worse had St. Barack not intervened to prevent us from lapsing into a Great Depression.  

The cost of gasoline and basic food staples like milk has doubled over the course of Obama's presidency, as speculators who will never take end delivery of the commodities in question are allowed to gamble on price in the futures markets.  How this is a legitimate use of our futures markets is something that no one has been able to explain to me, but I understand that had Barack not allowed this to take place, the prices might have quadrupled.  

We are in a Great Depression.  In case you haven't noticed, the people of North Africa revolted when it became apparent that their leaders couldn't provide affordable access to food or any remedy for the endemic unemployment that plagued them for decades and spiked noticeably over the past three years. We sent trillions of dollars abroad to other banks, who then gave that money to commodities traders who managed to take advantage of seasonal weather events affecting grain crops and yields to drive the price of food to exorbitant levels.  While our real inflation in at almost 9%, the fact of the matter is that it would be much higher had St. Barack and his cronies not intervened to send our doubled base monetary supply abroad to drive up prices in developing nations.  We financed gambles that put people in Tunisia and Egypt in such desperate straits that they were willing to set themselves on fire to make a statement.  

The eurozone has collapsed.  It is over.  It didn't have to be over, because Italy has a fine amount of money saved that could be accessed to deal with their debt to GDP ratio, but that wasn't the goal. The goal of those who have manufactured the sovereign debt crisis was to drive yields on sovereign bonds to unaffordable levels, in order to dictate political change and ride roughshod over the sovereign democratic voice of people in Greece and Italy.  Since those nations no longer have their own currency, they cannot readjust said currency to account for changing realities.  

In the early part of the 20th century, a bank collapse in Austria led to the bleeding of reserves held by Austrian banks in Germany, which in turn collapsed the German banking system as liquidity fled from Germany to Austria.  Make no mistake about it, the Germans and the French are not immune to the same phenomenon today.  The entire banking system is interconnected, and a bank failure in one nation will lead to the banks of that nation calling their reserves home from other nations.  It is a domino effect waiting to happen.  

But it would be much worse if St. Barack and his cohorts St. Nicholas of Paris and St. Angela of Munich were not there to assuage our concerns by collapsing two intransigent governments in Italy and Greece over the last two weeks.  Those governments are now headed by banking insiders, and isn't that what we need to manage our way out of this economic crisis? More of the expertise and cronyism that got us into this intractable mess?  

There are oft quoted statistics on reserves of cash held by companies and banks, but those statistics only tell a portion of the story.  Banks are getting paid by the Federal Reserve in excess of the short-term interest rate on Treasuries to park their excess reserves at regional Feds all over the country.  They have nearly $2 trillion in excess reserves parked and drawing interest, and it is this interest that also adds to the notion that banks are doing better, because banks are making around $4 trillion annually for simply parking their excess reserves with the Fed.  The Fed has no money of its own; it merely devalues your money to pay interest on the bank's money.  It is yet another bailout, yet even with that bailout, the banks are still insolvent.  

The financial instruments of mass destruction known as derivatives are only increasing in size and amount. We now have $1.5 quadrillion worth of these instruments in circulation.  To give you perspective, that is 1,500 trillion dollars, or over 13 times the size of the world's GDP.  But it would have been much worse without the sage intervention of St. Barack and his annointed Legion of Brilliance, who have staved out complete and total collapse by allowing banks to lie on their financials and giving them free money for their excess reserves.  You can throw gobs of cash at this problem, but it won't amount to any goddamned thing in the end.  Only by declaring derivatives moot can you address the issue in a sane manner, but our leadership is too feckless to be bothered with things like facing reality.   No, they want to prolong the system that gave us this misery and social unrest because that system, with its epic bailouts and corruption, is the capitalist system, and we all know that capitalism is the basis of our prosperity.  

Nevermind that bailouts by governments, subsidies on activity, and governments picking and choosing winners in the marketplace are antithetical to capitalism.  It could be worse, if not for St. Barry.  And don't you worry, because if St. Barry falters, his replacements are in the wings waiting.  We have Mitt Romney, whose Romneycare hasn't done a damned thing to contain exploding costs on healthcare in Massachussetts. We have Jon Huntsman, who looks good in pancake #9 under bright lights and whose last budget exploded the level of government spending in Utah.  

We have Ron Paul, whose suggested reforms can only be accomplished by the very thing he decries when exercised by the Federal Reserve in monetary policy: fiat.  If you think Ron can get his agenda through two chambers of Congress, you're dreaming.  You have Herman Cain, who sidestepped allegations of sexual assault largely because his accuser was dumb enough to choose Gloria Allred as her counsel.  His 9-9-9 plan was drawn up by "distinguished economists," later revealed to be Rich Lowrie, a man whose genius might best be summed up by the fact that he would more than double your sales taxes in his proposed plan.  

We have Newt Gingrich, who won't just screw an intern or aide while in office, he'll leave his wife and convert to the faith of his intern or aide in order to marry her.  He's smart because he has a Ph.D in economics, and Ph.D's in economics are smart.  Never you mind that a economics Ph.Ds managed to articulate a path forward that imploded our global economy in the form of Darwinian deregulation whereby fraud was supposed to addressed by market forces, until it wasn't and the government stepped in with trillions of dollars in no- or low-interest loans and outright giveaways.  Tautologies don't work anymore, Newt.  

Newt, like Rick Santorum, wants us to stay the course in Afghanistan and elsewhere.  Does it strike anyone as absurd that we have expended more money to fight an enemy that lives in caves than we expended to defeat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in multiple theaters?  Those nations actually had armies and navies and air forces, but we've had to spend more money to defeat a bunch of turbaned guys with assault rifles and roadside bombs.  Wait. We haven't defeated them.  

Perhaps it isn't the money that you spend; it's how you spend the money.  We didn't try to rebuild Europe until after the Nazis and the Italians and the Japanese were vanquished.  Yet we did exactly this in Afghanistan and Iraq; and, predictably enough, we didn't get that good of a result.  But it would have been much worse had we not had the wunderkind from Texas by way of Kennebunkport to lead us towards a democratic Middle East, followed by the Great Biracial Hope of Hawaii and Kenya by way of Illinois machine politics.  

No, it could be worse.  In 2012, we could have a woman whose sole function appears to be that of a beard for her flamboyantly homophobic husband, who runs gay conversion therapy at his clinic.  Worked for him...

Michelle Bachmann is a harpy, a shrill, virulent little Chihuaha with a brittle ego and a bristling sense of entitlement to equal coverage by CBS.  

This is two party politics. It doesn't work. It isn't going to work in the future.  If you want to rid yourself of it, you're going to have to mount a long-term effort to destroy it completely and utterly, because the partisans thereof conflate the success of their party with the long-term interests of this country despite the fact that the results of their conflation clearly and unmistakably attest to how utterly wrong they have been.  Financial deregulation took place under Bill Clinton, folks.  That was his baby, and he could have aborted it and saved us from the current crisis, but he signed Gramm Leach Bliley and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act into law.  

Today, our government is so dysfunctional, and its results so terrible, that the only defense it can mount of its record is to point to something that might have happened.  What it cannot do is point to anything of note that did happen to correct this crisis and restore some sense of normalcy to our economy.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reasonableness and Moderation Draft I

Reasonableness and Moderation

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.”

“And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.  Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.” 

The basic virtues and ideals that bind us together in our communities, our states, and our nation are under assault.  There is something uniquely American about the idea that one is responsible for one’s own path in life; yet one can expect neighbors to be neighborly in times of crisis and emergency.  When hurricane hits in New Orleans, the people of New York City give liberally to aid organizations.  In America, we help each other out. 

At some point, however, we’ve gotten away from the idea that help is something we can expect when the chips are down and we now think of help as something that we’re entitled to when thing don’t work out.  There’s a fundamental difference between a hurricane victim and a Wall Street banker whose myopia and narcissism precluded him from seeing the inevitable result of his selfish and unethical activities. 

In all of the hearings that were held on Goldman Sachs and its various dealings with other financial institutions, one inescapable conclusion was obvious to anyone with a pulse and common sense: no one sitting at the table for Goldman Sachs believed that they had done anything wrong.  Despite the fact that they induced others to enter into a “shitty deal” under false pretenses, they considered their actions to be business as usual. 

The foundation of American strength is our economy.  It isn’t how many tanks and aircraft carriers we have.  Our economy makes it possible for us to project power and American exceptionalism globally.  What Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan and Bank of American and Citigroup did wasn’t limited to putting people out of work and improperly and illegally foreclosing on homes.  They put our future strength at risk. 

The world needs America.  For all of our flaws, and for all the mistakes that have been made over the past three decades, we’re still the best brand going.  There are the naysayers who point to the nations of Europe and their commitment to cradle to the grave social programs, their investments in education and the results thereof.  What those people need to understand is that America makes it possible for Europe to have those programs. 

In the aftermath of World War II, we rebuilt Europe with the Marshall Plan. Our taxes financed a network of military bases to hold the Soviets at bay in Eastern Europe.  We provided a security apparatus from Rammstein to Rome, and we kept Europe free from Soviet aggression.  We provided the deterrent.  For over five decades, we fought a war of containment and limited the losses as best we could.  We averted a third World War by fighting a different type of war to contain the greatest threat to freedom and democracy the world has ever known.  Underlying everything we did was an economy that made our actions possible. 

We used a mixture of velvet and iron in the form of diplomacy and military action when necessary.  It wasn’t perfect, but the world still stands today as a result of the decisions made by American leaders to stand back and allow reasonableness and moderation to prevail in our foreign policy.  Cooler heads prevailed then, and cooler heads must prevail now. 

Without our investment in a prolonged war of containment, without our subsidizing the defense of Europe and its reconstruction, the Europe of today would not be possible.  We kept the world from incineration by nuclear warfare. Future generations will look back on our complicated legacy and recognize that for all of the flaws and imperfections, America tried to do the right thing. 

Our consumers today pay higher costs for their prescriptions and healthcare than other nations pay because we are indirectly financing the cost controls of those nations.  Those nations cap the cost of prescriptions, and we pay for the research and the development of new drugs and technologies.  America makes the rest of the world possible. 

You may criticize our foreign aid to repressive regimes, but those regimes provided a modicum of stability for their people and entire regions of this planet. We used our money to deter those regimes from wars with each other and to facilitate a more stable and peaceful planet.    Were those regimes corrupt? Absolutely.  Did they respect democracy and human rights?  No. 

For three decades, American strength and foreign aid has kept the entire Middle East from lapsing into a regional war that could engulf the entire world.  It’s a volatile region, fraught with tension and long-held hatreds along religious and ethnic lines. 

We have a duty to lead.  To the extent that we have failed to lead the world over the past decade in a reasonable and moderate course, we owe the world an apology.  We simply haven’t learned our lesson, and we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.  We deregulate entire swaths of the marketplace, ostensibly to aid the creation of jobs and wealth, only to find ourselves faced with unethical and illegal accounting by executives who emphasize quarterly results to the detriment of their company’s survival. 

Worldcom, Tyco, Enron, Washington Mutual, and so many others have all made it abundantly clear that we cannot trust businesses to regulate their own behavior. The reason is quite simple: there is a fundamental disconnect between the values of Main Street and Wall Street.  When Main Street enters into a deal with another party, the idea is to develop a long -term relationship that is mutually beneficial to both sides.  When Wall Street enters into a deal with another party, the idea is to drive that party into extinction in order to plunder their assets and equity. 

It’s bad faith, and you cannot build an economy on a foundation of bad faith, unethical accounting, and illegal behavior and expect to produce stability and expanding opportunities for the wider population.  We need to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about why our economy exists and what the purpose of wealth is. 

As to the first question, our economy exists to provide us with what we need and what we want.  Suppliers are linked with consumers, employers are linked with employees, and a marketplace arises out of the symbiotic relationships that develop between individuals, each seeking his or her interests through voluntary relationships with other people.  At the core, this is what a market is: a place where you can buy and sell. 

As to why wealth exists, the answer is quite simple: so that individuals may be empowered to gain what they need and what they want.  The possibility of wealth provides individuals with a reason to work, to innovate, to be their best and to think of ways that their actions can benefit others.  You have to have a product to sell if you want wealth.  Maybe that product is as simple as your labor.  Maybe it’s an actual good that you created, or an idea that you conceived.  But at the end of the day, you want wealth and your desire to have it in order to fulfill your own needs and desires drives you to be cognizant of your fellow man and his needs and desires relative to your own needs and desires. 

The reason this works is because most of our relationships arise out of symbiosis.  We behave rationally and legally because we recognize that there are mutual benefits to such behavior.  We deplore the illegal conduct of others because it threatens to undermine the system that promotes harmony, stability, and a better future for the greater number of people. 

At some point, however, the incentives have been “turned away backward,” as it were, and the only reason some of us seek to be cognizant of the needs and desires of others is to gain an advantage over them.  We have no interest in actually meeting those needs or those desires; we simply want to know those needs and desires so that we can develop a means of fleecing the people who possess those needs and desires. 

As a culture, we are entitled to set the parameters of what is acceptable conduct and to say that there are limits to such conduct.  In point of fact, we already have.  There are laws against fraud, regulations to promote a fiduciary responsibility between banks and their clients, and all that is missing is enforcement. 

The fact of the matter is that we have a problem in our government, and that problem is that people who believe that their ideological persuasions justify a failure to enforce the law currently occupy the government.  These people believe that the market should correct fraud. 

That is all well and good, but when the market does correct fraud and malfeasance, and banks and investors start to get burned, those same people appeal to the rest of us for a bailout.  In truth, they don’t appeal; rather, they extort bailouts with the promise of economic conflagration if they don’t get their liquidity injections.  When the time comes to hold these people accountable by firing them from their positions, the justification offered for retaining their services is predictable enough: they’re the only ones who know how to fix the mess that they have created. 

The schizophrenic nature of these types is clear enough.  One minute, they are Randians who believe that they are the producers and innovators in the world.  The next minute, they are Keynesians who believe that government should intervene to put out the fires they started with their reckless behavior. 

The time has come for someone, anyone, in a position of authority and power to look Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein in the eye and deliver a message: you are not John Galt.  The world will not stop if you are held accountable for presiding over endemic fraud and an atmosphere of unethical behavior. 

In point of fact, for the world to get started again, Dimon and Blankfein have to go.  So does the banking system that they represent.  No nation is sovereign when it does not control the supply of its own money and the value thereof.  It is not that we should abolish a central bank altogether, it is that the central bank of these United States ought to be transparent and answer to the Congress of the United States of America. It ought to operate in the interests of the United States of America as opposed to the interests of banking CEOs who sit on the boards of regional Federal Reserve Banks. 

We have $1.6 trillion in excess reserves sitting in regional Feds around the country.  Banks are sitting on that money, not lending it, not using it to make money through loans, but rather getting an interest rate in excess of that offered for the purchase of short-term Treasuries.  Non-financial companies possessed  $1.93 trillion in cash reserves as of December 2010. 

In short, you don’t need monetary stimulus.  You don’t need a stimulus bill at all. You simply need the Federal Reserve to stop paying interest on excess reserves.  The banks will start lending and using that money to generate revenue for themselves.  When they do, the economy will start to move forward. 

It is absolutely treasonous that the Federal Reserve is impeding an economic recovery by engaging in this behavior.  Moreover, it is illegal. Under the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2006, depository institutions are barred from receiving rates of interest on their excess reserves in excess of the short-term interest rate.  That rate is .01%.  The Federal Reserve is paying .25%, or 250 times what is legally permitted to pay. 

No one in our government is bothering to enforce the law, a fact that has prolonged the credit crunch further and prevented any possibility of resurgence in the economy.  The fact of the matter is that the American economy runs on monetary stimulus and has run on monetary stimulus for the past eighteen years.  Every economic upturn has directly coincided with the injection of liquidity into the system in the form of low interest rates coupled with a lack of incentives for banks to park their money at regional Feds around the country. 

While there have been massive injections of liquidity into the system, those injections have not gone towards traditional lending or investment activities that would have led us to an economic recovery.   The liquidity injections of the past three years have all gone towards speculative endeavors.  It is no accident that the price of oil has skyrocketed well beyond what can be attributed to demand.  When you hand traders and their employers the money to gamble in commodities markets, you give them a means of driving up prices.

Moreover, additional liquidity has gone to inflate a derivatives bubble even more.  Derivatives don’t generate jobs.  They don’t create new products.  They don’t lead to anything other than speculation and tremendously leveraged gambles. 

A central bank that injects record amounts of liquidity into such activities does so at the expense of the broader population to benefit a narrow segment of the population and the investor/shareholders it represents.  Hedge funds don’t represent your 401(k) or your Roth IRA.  What the Federal Reserve and every other central bank in the world have pursued over the past four years is blazingly obvious: a market built on speculation, leveraged gambles, and inflation.  The reason we don’t have an economic recovery is because an economic recovery designed to benefit the broader population is not the goal of such strategies. 

This is a war.  It is being fought with currency and it is systematically being used to implode governments abroad.  The Arab Spring arose when people could no longer afford to buy food in Tunis and Cairo.  The reason they could not buy food was that commodities markets in basic staples had been flooded with liquidity sent abroad from markets in the United States and Europe.  That money went into speculative gambles on futures prices and derivatives, and it drove up the price of food and energy to unbearable levels. 

It is not that banks are afraid to lend due to regulatory uncertainty.  Many of the reforms that were enacted were legitimate.  There is no legitimate reason for banks to be engaged in fleecing their customers with fee after fee for everything from ATM usage to checking to talking to a teller.  Banks benefit from depositors.  Everything in a fractional reserve banking system revolves around getting money into accounts in order to lend.  The more money you have in deposits, the greater the amount that you can lend.  Lending generates revenue from interest. 

There was a time in this country when banks paid their depositors a meaningful rate of interests on deposits and savings accounts.  They were required to by the fact that their competitors in the thrift industry would offer higher rates of interest for savings accounts, but in 1966 Congress set limits on the rates that could be offered by both commercial banks and S&Ls. 

Before that, Congress had acted to effectively ban interest on demand deposits with the Bankings Acts of 1933 and 1935.  As such, by 1966 Congress had effectively moved to limit or eliminate interest on both demand deposits and savings deposits in both commercial banks and thrifts or S&Ls.  Though the regulations were phased out in 1986, ostensibly to allow market forces to determine deposit interest rates, the fact remained that a central bank arbitrarily set interest rates by fiat.  There was no market force independent of fiat banking.  The amount of liquidity in a market was set by fiat.  It had nothing to do with the market itself and everything to do with the decision of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. 

The only demand in the marketplace that mattered was that of the Federal Reserve.  When its leaders saw fit to increase liquidity, the market predictably went up. 

The reasons offered by Congress to justify banning interest on demand deposits were predictable enough: smaller banks used interest on deposits to park their money with larger banks, thereby draining credit from their communities.  The simple solution would have been to ban interest on demand deposits for interbank deposits, but Congress had another agenda in play as well.  According to the Federal Reserve’s paper Requiem for Regulation Q: What It Did and Why It Passed Away, Congress wanted “to increase bank profits by limiting competition for deposits.” The reason given was that Congress feared that banks might acquire riskier assets to offset the cost of higher interest on deposits. This despite the fact that two separate studies in 1964 and 1966 essentially debunked the idea that competition for bank deposits contributed to bank failures.  Both George J. Benston and Albert H. Cox, Jr. found no such link between interest rate competition and bank failure. 

The real reason Congress intervened was simply to ensure that banks could raise their profits.  Congress made it illegal for banks to compete by offering interest on demand deposits, and in doing so elected to favor banks over consumers.  Moreover, by doing so, Congress effectively ensured that banks would become accustomed to a business model where interest on deposits would be seen as a disadvantage from a profit standpoint rather than a means of attracting business.  This was why Congress acted to move against savings deposits as well in 1966. 

It’s why banks now charge you for the privilege of putting your money in an account or talking to a teller about your money, even though without your money those same banks wouldn’t be in business.  It’s why banks don’t know how to act when Congress yanks the carpet out from under them by limiting the fees they can charge on that money.  The entire system has been gradually eroded for some eight decades to where all of the incentives are in reverse order.  Rather than paying interest on your money to get that money deposited, banks now charge you fees for the privilege of depositing that money.   They dun you with one fee upon another.  The greatest innovations in banking over the past thirty years have not come from anything beyond thinking of new ways to charge customers fees: fees for withdrawing money from ATMs, fees for using checkcards, fees for owning a checkcard, fees for checking, fees for a paper statement.  It isn’t that the fees are even nominally related to actual costs. 

On average, it costs a bank 11 cents to process a debit card transaction.  The banks charge four times that amount in fees, for an average fee per transaction of 44 cents.  Those fees add up to $16.2 billion a year on $1.45 trillion in transactions.  That’s the power of Congressional interference in banking.  That’s what happens when your government elects to favor your bank and its profits over you as a consumer.  A government isn’t supposed to pick sides in the marketplace.  They’re supposed to ensure that the marketplace functions without fraud, without malfeasance, with transparency and a modicum of integrity to protect the overall economy and investor and consumer confidence in that economy. 

Our government has failed miserably at that task.  Though it has rolled out the red carpet in the form of massive deregulation schemes over the past eighty years, banks still fail and millions of homeowners and employees get thrown out of work as a result of financial gambles gone bad.  It isn’t that deregulation is a bad thing.  If Congress would get out of the banking industry by allowing banks to really compete for your deposits with interest rates, this would be a welcome restoration of a sane business model. 

If Congress would also recognize that relaxing accounting and disclosure rules has no legitimate economic purpose and enables massive fraud, this would also be an excellent area to deregulate in by choosing to re-regulate.  The problem is that Congress views any cost to business as a bad thing.  Reporting your earnings accurately and honestly is not an extraneous cost when you are soliciting investors to buy your stock and invest in your business. It’s part of the legitimate cost of doing business. The market does not prevent fraud. It merely comes to Congress with an outstretched palm seeking a handout to cover the cost of fraud. 

The time has come for reasonable, moderate people to get fired up.  The problem in America is, as Yeats put, that the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.  We have beatniks occupying Zuccotti Park and sociopaths occupying our financial institutions and our trading floors.  Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, there is an element of bigotry occupying the Tea Party as well.  It may not be your garden-variety bigotry, but it is the sort of bigotry that demands the federal government go and regulate marriage while simultaneously purporting to be for limited government.  There isn’t a single enumerated power within the Constitution that enables Congress to regulate marriage.  Not one. 

Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, the situation in Zuccotti Park reflects the decay within our society.  People micturating in the street, sexual assaults, and a law enforcement apparatus that has behaved thuggishly throughout the entire process…all of it reflects the unraveling of social order, and the disregard for restraint on personal predilections that characterizes our nation’s elites has seeped down into the middle and working class.  If we are at this destination, it is because those who supposedly are the best we have to offer have led us here. 

We have banks foreclosing on houses that they have no clear title to in flagrant violation of the law.  We have an absolute catastrophe on the horizon in the form of litigation that will challenge the sale of foreclosed upon properties that were improperly and illegally sold.  You cannot sell what you do not own, and if you do not hold a legal and clear title to property, you do not own it. 

In U.S. Bank v. Ibanez, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld a lower court ruling that vacated foreclosures on the grounds that mortgage transfers were performed after the houses in question had been sold.   The ramifications are utterly staggering, because such practices are not isolated to two foreclosures in Massachusetts.  The same thing happened across the entire country in tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of foreclosures, which means that we could have an absolute bottleneck of litigation on the horizon and uncertain ownership of thousands of homes and properties.  In other words, we could have chaos. 

Not only will the original homeowners likely be able to successfully sue to undo the foreclosures, but the purchasers of those properties will be able to sue the banks that sold them the properties as well.  A banking system that has teetered on the edge of complete collapse for four years will be pushed yet again to the brink and perhaps beyond. 

Reasonableness and moderation must come to the forefront, and soon.  We are faced with a world economy that is on the precipice of total collapse; and we have a culture that is coming apart at the seams with resentments and entitlements combining for a combustible mixture.  There is a silent majority in the world, and it is high time for that majority to speak up with voices stentorian, and repudiate the passionate convictions of those who are the worst among us. 

It is time to restore order, and we cannot rely on this government or any government on the horizon that draws from the established pool of politicians to do what is necessary.  People who have sat on the sidelines and delegated responsibility to others who sought high office are going to have to start thinking about what they can and must do for their country and their world.  For far too long, we have allowed those who covet power for power’s sake to rule us.  We have sent them to our capitols and to our nation’s capitol and we have tolerated their arrogance and hubris. 

Since 1964, the re-election rate for the House of Representatives has never dipped below 85%.  In those years where turnover was at 15%, it wasn’t entirely due to electoral results. Some people retired and others died.  Incumbency is the problem in this country.  We don’t have a political class; we have an aristocracy of influence made up of those who would whore out their souls and this country to the highest bidder. 

It’s time for people who typically disdain politics to start considering running for office to give their communities a shot at an actual choice.   This is too important to leave to others.  Reasonableness and moderation must prevail against the extreme ends of ideology.  The center must hold. 

It is time to restore a proper sense of order in this world, to where individuals who do the right thing and who practice integrity in business and in life do not find themselves at a disadvantage for doing so.  It is time to make the streets safe again for equity, for truth, and for justice. 

It is time to fight for those values and those ideals that made civilization possible in the face of aggression from fascism, totalitarianism, and communism.  I am an anarchist and I oppose state power on principle, but I recognize the need for orderly rather than revolutionary transitions. 

This is why I have advocated for moderated transitions in agendas that I have tried to advance.  When I advocated for the elimination of welfare programs and Social Security, I did so by outlining a forty-year program to accomplish that agenda.  I recognized that such programs are deeply ingrained in our society, and that eighty years of inexorable advancement towards even more programs along these lines cannot be undone overnight without a human cost. 

I have advocated for increased political involvement by anarchists, by libertarians, and by those who oppose state power, but I have also argued that a dialogue is necessary to accomplish our ends.  There is a human cost to change, and change must be tempered with an awareness of that cost.  Anarchy is not disorder; it is the emergence of order from voluntary individual associations rather than coercive state mandates. 

It is only by communicating this reality, and by positioning ourselves as advocates of reasonableness and moderation in concert with those at other ends of the political spectrum that we can forge ahead to address the issues that threaten us all.  Reasonableness and moderation must prevail.  The alternative is simply unacceptable from a humanitarian standpoint.  Enough is enough.