Some Questions, Some Thoughts
What do these three things all have in common: Detroit, Trayvon Martin and JPMorgan?
In the legal profession, especially, reasoning to a sound conclusion is done with hard evidence, and from inferences. Proving a fact from the existence of other facts, another way of saying inferential reasoning, often requires identifying and challenging long-held assumptions. If the underlying assumption is false, then it calls into question any conclusion based on such false assumption. Especially when analyzing human behavior, always one must ask: “for who’s benefit” and dig deep to identify hidden incentives that motivate behavior.
So let’s apply ourselves to something in the news at the moment.
In youth, life was simpler. Before I attended law school, I tended to look at things through an either or paradigm, such as right versus wrong, on versus off, etc. This simplistic reasoning skill serves many well, and it did me well, until I advanced my thinking beyond this simplistic problem-solving model, learned how to critically think and actually use this method in my profession.
The simple truth is that the prevalent method of problem solving is the either / or paradigm. It is hard-wired into human beings. Whether one believes in evolution, Darwinism, creationism, or any other theory, the scientific facts are that human beings have been around for a long time. During this time, human beings that avoided calamities, death, destruction injury etc., managed to procreate and pass their genes along. The species continued, and here we are today.
I happen to believe, supported by many scientific studies and my own professional experiences, that the current human being today operates using a complex decision-making process, on multiple level basis. There is a basic survival instinct, at the subconscious level, that operates to keep the species alive. On top of that, is the conscious decision-making process that all of us humans also use. It is this basic survival instinct which I refer to as reptilian. [In the context of juror persuasion, David Ball is the guru of this model of thinking, and all credit goes to him.]
The reptilian brain is concerned with immediate survival. There is no concern about social harmony, art, culture, interpersonal relationships or any of this other advanced thinking that we have today. Instead, the reptilian brain is concerned with immediate survival in the immediate here and now. For example, when suddenly confronted with a larger, outsized predator, the reptilian brain flashes the signal to fight or flee. It is an either or proposition; that is, the reptile can stay fight, and then possibly be killed or maimed or injured, or can flee and hope to stay alive. There is no intermediate decision-making input based on embarrassment, inconvenience, sensibility, or rationalizing, there is only the immediate decision to fight or flight.
In persuasion, one must identify this reptilian instinct, and to succeed, one must not offend that basic truth or the persuasion effort is for naught. Likewise, it the underlying, unconscious instinct that is triggered, it is a very strong tool and persuasion is far more likely. Mope works on this level, as does almost all marketing. Take a look at any tv commercial with the sound off. Look at the images, understand that the images are designed to bypass your logical thought process and instead influence your underlying subconscious.
Is this either or decision-making process that makes it so easy for those managing perceptions to control the population. It is hard-wired into all of us, it is natural, instinctive, and easy. Which naturally leads to the next point, that is, those inclined who want to create followers, can apply the basic either / or method, by controlling the dialogue and thereby directing the current perception with ease.
Here is how it works: one would only need to create an either or paradigm, concerning important current events, supply both sides with sufficient facts to support either side, and let the populace argue between themselves regarding which side has the winning position.
Under no circumstances can the one creating the paradigm allow or validate any questions or criticisms concerning the assumption underlying the whole paradigm, that is, that there are only two choices, one of which is right. At NO point can there ever be allowed to stand a challenge to the paradigm that only one of the two choices is correct. Stated differently, not once will it be allowed for one to say: “why not a third choice? or “why only these two choices?”
By leaving the masses with only two choices, that is, by having them assume the paradigm of only having two choices, the rest becomes automatic and control of perception is as simple as creating a another either / or construct.
By eliminating critical thinking that is, an analysis of the entirety of the question presented as opposed to accepting the assumption and default theme into an either / or argument, the elite can and do control all of the current discussion. When the masses, never having been trained, really, to critically think, confront new problems, then the problem solving method becomes one which the masses are used to using: the either / or proposition.
Democrat or republican? See, the issue is not which among the universe of potential persons eligible and desiring to be president possesses good ideas and should be allowed to the job of president. Instead, the choice is narrowed to one or the other and the masses get to argue the either / or model right through the election. Likewise, there are other issues that similarly have their two, and only two choices: right to life vs. right to choose, gun control vs. 2nd amendment, amnesty vs. no amnesty. See? The list is endless, but the method is the same in every case.
In contrast, there are those of us who have been trained and immersed in critical thinking as a way of life. We do not see things as black or white, on or off. We view things as happening on a continuum. There is one end of the continuum, and the other end. Nothing is absolute. It depends.
Everything is measured in nuances. Things that happen in life fall somewhere on the continuum perhaps closer to one side or the other or perhaps in the middle and which are therefore not readily susceptible to categorization as an either or proposition paradigm. Things placed on the continuum based on assumptions may have to be placed differently if the assumptions change. Nothing is absolute.
Take for example, the standard of proof in the context of the United States judicial system.
Most people are familiar with the criminal context, that is in order for the prosecution to prevail, guilt must be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not about innocence at all. It has only to do with whether the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If a jury harbors any reasonable doubt, the accused is set free. See? The standard of proof is placed at a far end of the continuum, towards the absolute end, but not completely at the end. It is not absolute guilt, it is only guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a civil case however, proof is far less demanding than beyond a reasonable doubt; instead, proof in a civil case requires only that the prevailing party prove its case by a standard of more likely than not. More likely than not means slightly better than a coin toss, a 50-50 plus a little more proposition. Proof to this standard requires just enough to cause the scales to tip, even slightly, in favor of the winning side.
Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt means proof so compelling and overwhelming as to leave no reasonable doubt in the case. Stated differently, in a civil case, there can be plenty of reasonable doubt on both sides, but so long as one side has proved what they have to prove more likely than not, then that side will be the victor. A civil case victory can be had even if there is substantial doubt.
In a civil case, the standard of proof of more likely than not tends to be more in the middle, whereas the continuum on a criminal case is toward the extreme end. Lawyers tend to look at things based on where they fall on the continuum, and test every assumption, as opposed to just accepting everything at face value. We ask a lot of why questions, too. We do not accept pat answers, like “because” or “that’s the way it has always been.”
It is that type of thinking that permeates the legal profession, and it is that type of critical thinking that must be brought to bear in the context of analyzing the question above regarding what is the common theme between Detroit, Trayvon Martin and JPM?
Let us not be all histrionic about this. Plenty has been written, by skilled, knowledgeable commentators, regarding Detroit, its financial situation, and the 50 year run of events that led to the bankruptcy filing. Here: http://thecommonsenseshow.com/2013/07/18/who-killed-detroit-city-and-why/
are examples to read and think about. But let us examine the assumption about the model of thinking about Detroit for a bit.
Either or problem-solving methodology applied to the Detroit situation is useful for creating social discussion, and perception management and can be shaped and manipulated based on the desired outcome. For example, Detroit was a largely a Democrat-run city for decades. Detroit failed, therefore, the Democrats are to blame. See? Wasn’t that easy? Or, let’s play the race card: Detroit is overwhelmingly black, Detroit failed as a city, therefore the failure is because the city is composed of a large population of black people. Again, see how easy it is to create a simple either/or argument designed to manage perception towards a desired outcome? But is such thinking valid, or is there more at play than a simple either / or proposition?
2. Trayvon Martin
Let’s go here as well. Sticking to just the facts, here’s what we know for sure: George Zimmerman discharged a single round from his lawfully possessed handgun. The bullet entered 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, causing his death. The state of Florida prosecuted Zimmerman for various crimes, of which he was acquitted by the jury.
So, let’s draw out some either / or arguments that have been floating around the media for a bit: racist white George Zimmerman killed black youth Martin vs. Zimmerman was defending himself; or, the racist jury acquitted Zimmerman because he’s white versus had Zimmerman been black and killed Martin, Zimmerman would have been found guilty; or, changing themes: Zimmerman should not have been allowed to lawfully possess a handgun, and had Zimmerman not had a handgun, Martin would be alive, therefore guns are to blame for Martin’s death; or, the current theme playing out by the usual suspects, Trayvon Martin is an innocent victim of a white racist society versus Trayvon Martin is a typical violent black youth who met his just demise. See how the casting of the either / proposition is what is important here for perception management?
Why has no decent commentator in the media asked any of the hard questions, like why was there no prosecution until after politics got involved? Why has there been media silence as to all of the other black youth killing going on DAILY in every city across the country? Why is there no media reporting of the many hundreds of justifiable use of hand guns every day which use prevents crime or preserves the safety of a potential victim? Why is there no outcry over the media choosing which either / or paradigm to focus upon, when other more important, pressing issues overwhelm day to day survival, like the continuing devaluing of the US Dollar and the dramatic loss of purchasing power?
Well, where does one start when discussing JPM? Jamie Dimon doing God’s work? Or is JPM a too big to fail too big to jail bank? Anyone of us here know the truth about JPM being a too big to fail institution, with their millions and millions of dollars in fines from doing illegal activity, which some commentators have discussed, has simply proven that the too big to fail banks lie cheat and steal to the extent they can get away with it, hoping not to get caught. In so doing, they generate millions and millions of dollars in profits, and every now and then, they do get caught in some illegality, get their wrist slapped and pay paltry fines as part of doing business. Even today, it is being discussed that JPM is facing fines approaching $1 billion for some illegal activity.
Yet, there is no mainstream critical thinking applied to the JPM model or any of the other too big to fail banks. Why not? In my little neck of the woods, regular people do serious jail time for shoplifting. Should not a huge white collar crime result in jail time, like stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in a rigged bond auction? Yet, no one, not one! of the JPM banksters has gone to jail. Why not?
Is it because all communication in the mainstream media stems from just six corporations who control it all? Is there no alternative voice suggesting something different?
Or is it something more sinister, like a concerted effort to distract the masses from applying critical thinking skills to the most obvious question of the day: what is the source, if any, of the ongoing deterioration of the economy worldwide?
Here are some questions I have, that come readily to mind just quickly thinking of the Detroit situation: Why did foreign automakers open manufacturing plants in the US but none of the plants were in Detroit? Why has not private enterprise descended upon Detroit, snatched up the cheap land with gusto, and launched their businesses? For that matter, why haven’t large contemporary concerns, such as Amazon, Google, Apple or any of the other tech giants located operations or centers in Detroit where land is practically being given away and there is a huge workforce potentially available at a discount? I mean, if they are importing workers from overseas anyway, why not locate to Detroit where the costs would be far less than in silicone valley?
Here are some more questions that pierce the fog of assumptions: Who benefits from the City of Detroit being run into the ground? Who benefits from a Detroit bankruptcy? Who benefits from Detroit and its problems NOT being in the news every day?
So, let us reason our way to some conclusions.
Detroit slipped from prominence as an economic powerhouse starting in the 1970s. What else happened of significance at that time? Right: Nixon closed the gold window, making the US Dollar a pure fiat currency, which it remains to this day.
Trayvon Martin was a 17 year-old black youth. What happened in his life to put him in that position the day he got shot? What was it about his life and culture that he decided to confront “cracka Zimmerman” instead of perhaps using his cell phone to call police, or just continuing on his way to his dad’s house where he could have avoided the confrontation altogether? Why was this a gated community? Why was Zimmerman on citizen’s patrol? Where were the police or govt agent patrol cars? Why did there have to be any patrols at all? Why did Zimmerman feel the need to get out of his car and follow Martin? Why did Zimmerman have a loaded weapon anyway? What was it about Martin that Zimmerman felt created such a need in Zimmerman that he had to follow Martin despite the 911 operator suggesting he stay in his car? What kind of a person ignores the 911 operator and pursues a possible criminal suspect anyway? How could have society evolved from the point of the 1970's until now to create this kind of situation?
JPM is a merger of many large financial institutions. JPM is a primary dealer, with intricate workings with the Federal Reserve. The lend currency created out of thin air. When JPM was about to realize losses from massive defaults, JPM got billions of dollars from the Fed in a bailout unavailable to regular, little people like us. What is it about JPM that they have paid nearly $1 Billion in fines, yet no one has seen jail time?
Step back and look: it is painfully obvious, but one must shake off the simplistic thinking and really look. The common theme running through all of this is the devaluation of currency, specifically the US dollar.
There has been a complete decoupling between risk and reward in the context of currency, which has dramatically altered human behavior and normal incentive-based conduct. Because the Federal Reserve can create currency out of thin air, the US dollar value has continued to erode over time as the Federal Reserve creates more and more dollars out of thin air backed by no value whatsoever. A banker traditionally lent something of value, in essence taking a risk, in exchange for the payment of interest. The theory was simple: the banker charged interest because the principal may never get repaid. Because there was risk of loss, the banker charged interest, and the rate of interest was based on the amount of risk of non payment. The whole concept of currency, lending, risk, and interest was all intertwined and all of the participants could rationally make decisions based on the interplay of the risk versus reward.
This all changed with the elimination of value backing the currency. No longer did a banker consider the risk / reward scenario in making the decision whether to lend money. Instead, banking became concerned with the spread, leverage, collateralized debt obligations, and derivatives. Because currency could be printed out of thin air, a banker could take unnecessary risk in exchange for a low interest rate, and in the event of a loss, well, there really was no loss because the currency was simply printed out of thin air to begin with. The banker need only call upon the Federal Reserve to issue more currency in exchange for a swap of something of questionable value, such as a non-marked to market security that the banker valued at 100 cents on the dollar but in reality carried no value at all because the underlying collateral was valueless. Who cares, the currency was printed from thin air, and the Federal Reserve could just create more currency!
So, we have the model of the thinking in the municipal bond markets and other debt products leading to the Detroit bankruptcy.
But let’s change the currency model and examine if the Detroit situation would have occurred. If the currency was backed by any sort of value, like gold or silver, etc., no sane banker would have lent to Detroit absent much higher interest rates. No banker would have done so, because the risk did not match the reward, or stated differently, there was too high a risk of default and not enough reward by way of interest. Higher interest rates would have signaled higher if not extreme risk, and either Detroit would have been priced out of borrowing, that is, been unable to borrow, or could have borrowed but at a higher rate which would have had the effect of making Detroit live within its means and not rack up extreme debt. Said differently, Detroit would have been forced to live within its means, or it would have had investors willing to take that risk for those very high rates of returns, but its ability to borrow huge sums would have been tempered by the debt service, which higher payments due to higher interest would have naturally created downsize pressure to keep Detroit’s debt at manageable levels.
Absent investors willing to take the increased risk even with high rates of return would have forced Detroit to live within its means, because there would’ve been no way for Detroit to borrow money under any scenario. Is it the debtor’s fault for wanting cheap money, or the lender’s fault for supplying it? Hmmm? In such case, none of the politicians could have promised huge pensions, or borrowed money to pay for works of improvement that on paper would return only losses unless tax rates increased dramatically. If the politicians were forced to admit that higher taxes would be the result of increased borrowing, the politicians never would’ve been allowed to be in office, the citizens would have almost assuredly elected fiscally responsible politicians, excessive borrowing would not occurred, excessive taxation would not have occurred, and businesses would not have shut down or otherwise moved out of the Detroit region because of the depressing economic activity including high taxes. In short, with value backing the currency, the Detroit mess would never have materialized.
Detroit is NOT the product of unions, or of a large black population, or of crime, or drugs, or any of the other misplaced, fallacious “reasons” which are in reality all just symptoms of unbridled fiat currency printing to extremes. While it is an easy, spring-loaded response to the question of “what happened to Detroit,” unions and demographics are not the answer because they too are but symptoms of the greater problem. Yet, not one media pundit dares link the problems to fiat currency.
What about Trayvon Martin? How is fiat currency and the Fed to blame for this situation? Easy. Open the critical thinking pathways and look at what is obvious. Trayvon Martin is a product of his times. Easy currency has distorted all form of economic incentives. It is no longer fashionable to strive for a good education to get a well-paying job, or for that matter, to work hard in school, get good grades and go to college and then take a high-paying white collar job. The easily created fiat currency, lent out at low interest rates to any and everyone, has cheapened a college education to the point where it is unlikely that the burden of the costs incurred with borrowing in the form of student loan debt is ever to meet or exceed the benefit of having a college degree, unless such college degree is in a hard science. But even then, because the economic incentives have all been so grotesquely distorted from, among other things, the financial sector and its insane bonus structure, it is unlikely that even one with a hard science degree is going to ever truly enjoy a sufficient benefit in the form of a middle-class existence working at a decent job for a decent wage towards a decent retirement.
So too has the easy currency model so distorted the incentive to work at all, that the popular culture, for generations, has been deluded into believing it is okay to accept government handouts, continually, for food, living expenses, healthcare, that the government handout model is superior to the family self-reliant model, to the point that violence is celebrated and rewarded and honest hard work is shunned and ridiculed. The easy currency model has allowed an underclass to arise, content to indulge themselves in illicit drug use, and to while away their time on leisure activities rather than education or labor. So, I see that both Trayvon and George are just products of their environment, as is the natural extension of the verdict discussion to the either / or propositions that have so permeated the media for the past 40 years.
Look at Rodney King, and the LA riots following the acquittals in 1992. Look at Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman acquittal. What has changed in twenty years? We still have the same problem, the same outcome, the same outrage, the same race-hustlers and the same reactions. Why? Has there been no educational undertaking since then to try to understand? Of course not. Why? Here is why: the right questions have not been asked, or answered, in the main stream media, and the obvious conclusions have not been spotted by the masses.
Now we get to JPM. TF and his bloggers, wizards that they are, observe, analyze and discuss complex subjects, connecting the dots start to finish. Among the subjects of understanding include fiat currency, the too big to fail banks, and the Federal Reserve. There are countless links, YouTube videos, excellent discussions from such esteemed commentators like Mike Maloney, who have clearly and thoughtfully explained the role of fiat currency relative to a value backed currency from something such as gold or silver. No fiat currency has ever survived, ever. In each instance, those in charge have adulterated and demeaned the currency to the point that it becomes valueless. It is human nature. There is no escape from it.
JPM is but a tool of the elite used to control the masses. Does JPM manipulate the Comex? Does it matter, when the Fed prints $85 billion fresh currency every month? It matters if one trades in the Comex casino and engages in commerce in the finance industry, because one then becomes subject to the rules and the whims of the fiat banking elite and their controllers. The rest of us suffer the consequences of asset increases due to increasing currency supply disconnected to underlying value, inflation, currency shocks, etc. JPM exists only because the Fed bailed them out with fake money. JPM is part of the current monetary system, and will no sooner fail than any of the other too big to fail banks. JPM will do its part until there is no longer a US dollar fiat regime. By then who knows?
Until sound money reappears, what will stop foolish lending to profligate debtor’s? Fiat currencies are all in a race to the bottom, and their relative values are all meaningless because none of them exist aside and apart from being a fiat currency. Since fiat currency can be printed from nothing, then anything of value priced in terms of a fiat currency is subject to fluctuation based on the whims of the central printer limited only by the confidence of the users of the currency.
Detroit, Trayvon and JPMorgan: all the product of fiat currency. They all are creatures of the giant ponzi, fiat Federal Reserve private bank.