Monday, March 31, 2014

The Strategy Of Money Redux

On March 4th of this year, Mr. Porretto published The Nature Of Money And Currency.  In that piece, Mr. Porretto relies on an incomplete definition, an outright falsehood and an appeal to authority in crafting an argument in support of his thesis, rather than the more traditional (not to say honest) method of letting the facts demonstrate the conclusion.

Mr. Porretto says:
Being an old fart, my education included a few items that are, let us say, no longer deemed suitable for dissemination to the impressionable young. However, had those young folks been exposed to a few of those items, quite a lot of our current miseries might well have been averted.
Two of those no-longer-chic items were the original definitions of money and currency:
money n: A medium of exchange and a store of value.
currency n: a proxy for money often employed in commercial intercourse.
I submit that a more fulsome (dare I say educational?) definition of money might be: An entirely imaginary medium of exchange providing both a mechanism for determining, and a store of, value (itself an equally hypothetical and transitory measure). 

Which is not to say that money isn't real or that things or ideas can't have real and lasting value.  But back to Mr. Porretto and his repetition of a common falsehood:
Money shares an important characteristic with language: it was a "crowdsourced" development. No one "invented" money ...
 Even a casual glance at human history will make obvious that the earliest of records from ancient human civilizations discovered so far, all center on recording the assets of the government (often in its function as religious authority).  These records make clear that the items themselves (food animals, agricultural produce, worked items, brewed or distilled liquids, raw land, etc) gradually were replaced by the entirely imaginary human concept of "money" instead of (and often in addition to) the quantity of item(s) being recorded.  Not "crowdsourced" by anonymous "no ones", but through a process of deliberate development of accounting mechanisms in support of a hypothesis toward more efficient (or at least more thoroughly documented) government.

And, finally, the appeal to authority:
Many astute and observant things have been said about money. Some of them are even true. For my money (sorry about that), the most piercing statement ever made about money occurred on the floor of the United States Senate, in 1912. The great financier J. P. Morgan had been asked to testify to that august body on monetary matters. This was the very first inquiry put to him:
Senator: Mr. Morgan, what is money?
J. P. Morgan: Gold is money, and nothing else is.
Morgan's understanding of the properties required of money was clear and unshakable.

Not to mention entirely (and no doubt unapologetically) self-serving.  Can we take it as a given that by 1912 J. P. Morgan had amassed a quantity of refined metals (and more specifically, gold) sufficient to make any other answer financially damaging, if not ruinous, for himself and his many business interests? A less partial or more biased source of opinion seems unlikely to me.

I have given attention to the concept of money before now.  One of the aspects of the construct we call "money" that I have yet to see given much consideration is the distributed network effect the concept creates.

Contra Mr. Morgan (and, apparently, Mr. Porretto), gold and other refined metals are currency, not money.  As such, they provide a physical mechanism to achieve the storage characteristic that money allows, along with being one of the physical transactional proxies of money during "commercial intercourse".

Money is a theoretical expression of transactional value.  It is this which removes any physical material from consideration as being itself money.  Accounting is the documentation of the (however spirited or lethargic) transaction process; money is the idea that permits any object or idea to be accounted at a determined value at any point in the exchange process, and currency is the stipulated unit in which value is expressed, stored and exchanged.  It is this complex nature of currency that also permits it (as a proxy of money) to operate as a distributed network between distant, and even actively opposed, peoples.

One of the great failings arising from this early network effect is the widespread conflation of specific forms of currency with money, along with the equally common belief that value has a fixed or permanent component to its nature (I suspect because almost anything has some value almost anywhere at any given moment, causing the illusion of intrinsic value).  Because money is accounted and denominated in currency values, there is a strong and widespread impulse to manipulate those values (even if only to stabilize them beyond the moment).  Indeed, one of the most prominent claims to legitimacy of any government or nation is the stability and value of its currency.  This points out the fallacy of gold as money, as gold must have a denominated and stable value as currency, but doing so severely limits the value of the money the gold currency serves as proxy for (and thereby limits the hypothetical wealth of nations, so to speak).  Currency is a complex concept, but not capable of the stretch that level of complexity demands.

For the reasons Mr. Porretto notes, refined metals are historically the most common form of currency used in value transaction.  From this facility at commercial intercourse, the monetary network effect also measures, transmits, receives, recalculates and re-transmits (wash, rinse, repeat ad nauseum) information just as well as it facilitates transaction in physical items.  Not to the standards of speed or specificity of data a modern human would expect, but far more quickly and complexly than any individual of a more ancient era could ever achieve directly. 

What is needed still is a non-currency value of measurable, but reasonably directly equatable, quantity.  I suggest the electrical value: erg.  An erg of electricity can be expressed in watts, which are themselves an established measure of "work".  Any nation's monetary value can be reasonably (and surprisingly accurately) expressed in the electric (or equivalent) capability to perform "work", and thus an international value can be assigned to a country's currency entirely unrelated to the local (or even planetary) availability of any given refined metal, or even necessarily the actual quantity of "work" performed (contemplate the electrical concept "potential" as it might be applied in this context).  Regardless of national origin, money is measured as the work capable of being performed by a stipulated amount of electricity (as measured in ergs), and a country's currency is valued by the total amount of work that nation generates (or controls?) over a stipulated time period.  No one needs to enforce this system, as anyone can perform the required calculations from a compendium of recent historical data for that country (the compiling and certification of which is a potential business opportunity all in itself).  As ideas go, this one undoubtedly needs more work. 

Mr. Porretto writes in support of a particular political ideology that appears to feature as a short term inevitability the violent disruption of his and my country at the very least.  He is certainly not unique in this belief, but his beliefs serve as a preconceived outcome to his essay rather than a truly logical conclusion drawn from the facts he presents.  Given the influence his work has on other writers I admire, this is unfortunate and misleading.  Mr. Porretto has written further on this topic here and here, but I expect they are also examples of his pursuit of an ideological aspiration rather than informed economic essays. 


Friday, March 28, 2014

Yee, Hee Hee

I predict that California state Senator Leland Yee will be post facto "discovered" to have been a state undercover agent the whole time, once the Democratic Party masseuses have there way with the "evidence".

You read it here first (I hope), but you know you've been thinking the same thing since you first heard this story.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

More Away Game

BobS at 3 Boxes of BS has an update to (relatively) recent changes in Texas' CHL legislation.
This removes considerable worry about a shirt riding up or the wind blowing a cover garment up and exposing the firearm.Combine that with the protection of displaying in situations where the use of force or deadly force would be appropriate and the really helps the gun owner.      
Not quite Open Carry but on the way. Even more importantly was the fact this bill wasn’t a stretch, it wasn’t an oddity in an otherwise hostile legislative session; it was 1 of 14 bills that generally improved the rights of the people.

Never one to simply bask in my admittedly very faint share of the glow of satisfaction resulting from all this, it absolutely was not beneath me to poke a stick into the corner of this series of tubes where the determinedly down-spirited portion of the 2A community like to point and pout, and give it a vigorous stir:
This right here is one of the strong arguments against the fatalist position that “we can’t/won’t vote our way out of this”. Over the past 20+ years, Texans have worked within the standard legislative process to indeed vote ourselves out of the restrictive legal environment we owned and carried firearms in. The same is achievable in any other state or Federal District, Possession or Territory within the Union too; it only needs the citizens resident there to not meekly accept the denial of their rights by those who profit from doing so.
3-pers Rejoice! Your model of success is before you! :)
 Running counter to form, I'm not being the least bit tongue-in-cheek there either.  We live in a Republic; the responsibility is ours to each work within that political process to keep the legal and regulatory burden our form of government imposes at a level we collectively find least intolerable.  If you aren't willing to do that, you're as much a part of the problem as those who work to increase the burden to deny exercise of our rights.

And, just for the record, if you're one of those posturing narcissists who claim to anticipate "another American Revolution", I direct your attention to the "...and Domestic" language in the Oath administered to all members of the US armed forces upon entering service.  They follow right after the "Enemies Foreign ..." verbiage.

Americans change our own government without shooting* at each other.  Don't be that other guy.

*Yeah, Yeah ... ACW/War of Somebody's Aggression; look how well that turned out for us.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quick Thinker

If this story doesn't have you laughing around watering eyes, you need to smack both elbows into the concrete very hard to stimulate your funny bone.

Thanks Joe.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

That's Right(s)!

At his blog Alpha Game novelist Vox Day offers commentary on how rights are expressed and offers an interesting conclusion:

Either my observations and Roissy's observations are true or they are not true. That is the sole relevant metric. They cannot be undermined by racial preferences anymore than they are undermined by sports team or ice cream preferences.

My only objection to the above would be the lack of the qualification "personal" in the statement.  "... by personal racial preferences ..." and "personal sports team or ice cream preferences."

Many people (though Vox Day does not number among them by my reading) fail to acknowledge that the American Revolution of 1776 was a political revolution only.  Indeed, considerations other than the strictly political were rather ruthlessly bargained over to keep proceedings as narrowly focused on the political dispute with Britain as possible.  The phrase, "all men are created equal", is an explicit declaration of political condition, and no other.  This has resulted in most of modern America being dominated by attempts to resolve social and ethical perceived injustices by the political process developed as a result of determinedly ignoring those same social and economic inequities.  That the political shoe pinches is only to be expected really.

Arguably the fundamental precept of the United States of America is that everyone has "rights".  Government is the means by which we by-and-large agree to regulate the means and manner in which we each get to express those rights equilaterally.  The Men's Rights Movement is the response to the modern assertion that women have greater claim to government support of expression of their rights than do men.

As can be seen, we can and do quibble and remonstrate with each other over when, how and to what degree we get to exercise our rights.  To the point that we effectively deny expression of rights entirely sometimes as a means of entrenching expression of the rights of some over others.  Government exists for the sole purpose of guaranteeing the expression of rights by the individual through the collective mechanism of partial regulation of the means chosen to express those rights.

The foundational viewpoint that underlies classical strategy is that the concepts are explained hierarchically, but they are exercised as a closed circle of actions that must be balanced in the totality of their individual expression.

Much like human/civil rights in the modern world.

We discuss our rights in a hierarchical fashion because that's just how language works; point A is supported by point B and etc.  Actual expression of those rights is as part of a balanced whole of actions taken.  Individual preferences influence how and with whom we choose to exercise our individual rights, but that fact cannot deny us the exercise of our rights at all, except as we allow it to.  Actively denying someone the ability to express his rights makes you the legitimate target of his efforts to do so anyway.  If you insist upon hanging a target around your own neck, don't cry when the inevitable happens afterward.

"War On Women" indeed.

Pimping My Away Game Stats

Og posts some political insights and, having nothing particularly cogent to offer, I nonetheless observe in comments (#14):

What so many people never seem to realize about politics is that nobody ever wins, the objective is to lose less than everybody else. The strategy of politics is to ensure that no-one is violently unhappy with government policy. The art of politics is to successfully re-define “happiness” every electoral cycle.

The basic point (with which I wholeheartedly agree) is that "incrementalism" isn't a failure to achieve one's objective, it's how one achieves said objective.  The idea isn't to vote ourselves out of this this time, it's to keep voting ourselves just that little bit closer to what we regard as the most desirable political state of being.  That's what "sustainability" really is; the process of sustaining something in a viable state or condition. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear Vox Day

I believe that's why it is called The Theory Of Evolution and not "The Fact ..."

Much like the gentleman you quote, I don't know how the theory works either, but here's a thought.

I suggest that a stipulated set of amino acids (and I nominate Dr. Tour as having the last word here) be given a computer code representation, that (a very large number of) the conditions that an (also large number) of that same theoretical collection of amino acids might have been confronted with in both a series and parallel method of exposure, with a series of random (but not inconsistent with modern climatic patterns) selection of physical conditions as well.  Let the computer simulation program run to some reasonable approximation of the geologic time scale of Earth and, I suggest, we might have a first-order approximation of TENS.  Or not.  If nothing else, it's a way to help better decide where to throw away allocate our research funding.  I suspect learning how to develop better computer simulation models from the existing evidence.

Don't look at me to do it though, I have neither the finances nor the mental horsepower to put it all together.

Just to be clear, I remain unconvinced of any proposed theory that purports to explain physical existence - even your apparent first choice.  Personally, I endorse the Fart Theory of Physical Existence; I fart, therefore I am.  The odoriferous evidence is irrefutable I am consistently told.

Also, I have no trouble recreating the effect ad initio either.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

How Can A Wrong Be A Right?

I'm working on something having to do with rights and I want to get some added perspective to part of that issue.

I'm not a commenter at Neanderpundit, but I am a semi-regular reader.  Some time back, Og wrote an entry that in passing well captures one of the issues I hope to discuss.  He wrote:  

Beginning with Roe vs Wade, we have institutionalized slaughter of innocents on a scale the likes of which could not be imagined. Something on the order of 57 million abortions have been performed since 1973. More than twenty times the US casualty rates in every war since 1776. More than twice the population of the top 15 cities in America ...  If you have faith in a Creator and you meditate on this it becomes clearer and clearer. The lesson of Abraham and Jesus is clear; Only the Creator is empowered to give and thus take human life.
Stipulated for the sake of discussion, it is a given that it is both wrong to kill another while also legal to do so sometimes.

I want to posit a circumstance for specific discussion (should anyone actually read this - I'm mostly just putting this down in exposition for later adaptation):  since self-defense is an explicit legal concept in US law, to what degree can abortion be justified under that legal construct?  If a man does not contribute to the conception of a child/human fetus, he can still find himself legally and financially responsible for the child for at least the first 18 years of his/her's life.  Is that man ethically exercising his self-defense rights by facilitating (not a euphemism for "forcing") the newly pregnant woman (presumably his legal spouse) to seek out an abortion?  Could this same justification be equally ethically extended to all US taxpayers in the case of an unwed woman becoming pregnant?  Given that "self-defense" requires an imminent threat being present, can it be logically asserted that the certainty of legal and financial obligation being inflicted on the man immediately upon the child becoming a legal person is ethically (and ought arguably be legally) equivalent to imminent threat?

I'm well aware of the moral/religious doctrine on these questions, I'm deliberately confining this to the legal issue.  When is a person ethically justified to assert his/her rights?  What are some of the ethical justifications for denying someone the exercise of those same rights?  Specifically, the right of self-defense.

I deliberately choose an extreme example, but I think it relevant to offer my own belief that abortion is justified in US law because US legislators have taken the position (if only by default) that a "person" is one who exists physiologically independent from any other and is at least theoretically able to exercise a human being's rights and responsibilities (vote, pay taxes, etc either directly or by proxy) independently from any other (which absolutely requires a specific exemption for conjoined twins).  By that logic, an unborn child cannot  meet the legal definition of "person", therefore cannot be subject to the protections the law provides to such.

Again, I'm clear on the moral questions (or clear enough for these purposes); my focus is on the ethical exercise of legal rights and behavior, and the process by which we make these type determinations generally and in particular as regards self-defense.

Update:  I have edited my late-night (and quite garbled) prose to make more clear the lack of biological relationship between the man potentially responsible for the welfare of the non-aborted child in US law.


Finally got my desktop back from the shop.  Man, is it nice being able to use a regular keyboard and 24" screen again!