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One of the live oaks that bless my home

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How to Make Some Sense Out of So Much Nonsense?

For most people the Big Recession of 2009 has never ended.  It has not ended as well for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, universities, museums, policemen, firefighters, municipalities, counties, states, and so on.

This recession has not ended, yet we see inflation in every aspect of the lives of ordinary people: fuels, food (even the food-like edible substances that masquerade as food in the U.S.), and clothing.

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There is a reason why food and fuels are excluded from the government measure of "core" inflation, which then becomes a game of controlling how fast we print and price new money relative to how fast we improve productivity.  Over the last several decades, the Federal Reserve has become quite good in playing that control game, and the rest seemed OK.  But not this time.

So what is different now? Why do the Left and the Right offer such dramatically different solutions to the same problem?  Are they both wrong?  Or are they right some of the time and wrong otherwise in explaining the different parts of the same complex story? Is anything missing from these contradictory explanations?

Yes, I think that a lot is missing from all leading explanations.  First of all, perhaps for the first time in our democracy, our leaders and leading intellectuals are essentially relying on keeping people confused.  This puts us on the opposite side of the moon from the attitude of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and so on, who did their best to explain their thinking clearly to all. When these great men lived, the Earth surely seemed infinite.

The next presidential campaign will focus on confusing the confused even further, and swaying their votes based on raw emotions, not their self-interest and thoughtful choices.  Mark my words, and observe the obfuscation and deceit unfolding in all media, and in Google that digests them in a certain way that may no longer serve the public interest.

The main reason why I am making this bold prediction is as follows:
This time around, it is rather important to explain carefully to the public what is going on. However, no one who is inside a political system can fully explain what is going on by using arguments from within that system.  And it makes no difference if they are on the left or the right. 
In mathematics, this essential unexplainability is addressed by the two Incompleteness Theorems by Kurt Gödel:  The first incompleteness theorem states that no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an "effective procedure" (essentially, a computer program) is capable of proving all facts about the natural numbers. For any such system, there will always be statements about the natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. The second incompleteness theorem shows that if such a system is also capable of proving certain basic facts about the natural numbers, then one particular arithmetic truth the system cannot prove is the consistency of the system itself.

In translation, one needs to step outside of a given system of axioms to see from the outside what is possible within that system and what is not.  This profound truth has eluded some of the best minds around, including Bertrand Russell.

So how far do we need to step outside of the current system of myths that are fact to most?   Not that far, it turns out.  All we need to do is to admit that the Earth is finite, her resources are finite, and the current "economic" system cannot grow overall.  In the U.S., the economic system has reached the maximum attainable complexity and must undergo a simplification.

That's it.  Now you see why it is impossible for most to understand and explain what is going on. If you want to feel a little better, you may read an incomplete financial explanation of the current mega-confusion by a former insider, David Stockman.


Roughly equal amounts of matter and antimatter are created in the collision of energetic gold nuclei, but because the fireball expands and cools quickly, antimatter can survive long enough to be detected. An ordinary helium-4 nucleus (background) is here matched by a nucleus of antihelium-4 (foreground). Think of the political left and right.

P.S.  Since the impossibility of an "overall economic growth" is so utterly alien to my fellow Americans, let me explain.  When one part of our economy grows, another one will shrink; if both parts grow, another economy shrinks (the Chinese economy?).  When I make a profit, you will pay for it with a loss. I may share a part of my profit by offering you a job, or I may buy gold bricks.  When we extract "value" from destroying our environment, our children will die sooner after more miserable lives. And so on.

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