Archive for July, 2016

Money is not wealth

2016/07/20

Having lots of money is supposed to make you wealthy.  But all that means is that you have a bunch of something which only represents work, but is not actually work itself.  Work has many ways of creating wealth, by adding value to something, from extracting minerals to programming computers.  We have been deceived into thinking that creating more units of money is creating wealth, when all that really is happening is that numbers in computers are changing.  New bridges are not being built to replace old ones, more efficient housing is not being created,  people are not being educated, the things that are true wealth are not being created.

True wealth is living in a society where the education level is high, most needs are met more than adequately, and choices are abundant.  True wealth is having a bus system you can use as well as owning a car.  True wealth is having a water supply system which won’t poison you.  In spite of huge amounts of money being created, the wealth of the world seems to be declining.  This is a result of focusing on the individual, on materialism, and on greed.  The greed of the individual for material things drives our society, not the needs of the community.  But without the community, what does life offer the individual?

Our economy is being distorted beyond recognition by the illusion that money is wealth.  We are being robbed of our true wealth, through lack of investment and corruption.  Compensation for our work is shrinking, in spite of the numbers getting bigger.  We are discovering that you can have lots of money and still be poor.

Cars

2016/07/18

The first car I drove was my father’s 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, which had a manual transmission.  That car took us to Canada at least once, and we had to spend the night in Bellingham one time when the engine swallowed a valve.  My father took out the back seat so that he could carry more tools with him.  Sometimes he took out the passenger seat, too.

The next car that I drove was my mom’s 1966 Mercury Monterrey, a ‘full size’ car, which would seat six adults, and had a 390 cubic inch engine with an automatic transmission.  I got to drive that land yacht to California one summer, and back.  I also got my first ticket in it.

Next is my dad’s 1967 El Camino, with a 283 four-barrel and a three-on-the-tree manual.  That was the rig that I was pushing 130 mph in when I got arrested for reckless driving.  It was also my ‘first’ car, as I got from my dad when I was in the Air Force.

Then I got my Mustang, a 1966 with a 289 and a three speed manual.  That was the first car that I worked on my self, to any degree.  It was also broken down a lot.  I was also in my first accident with that car, when someone intentionally rear-ended me.

After the Mustang came a couple of motorcycles, and then a 1976 Honda, with the CVCC engine.  That car didn’t run very well, especially after a friend of mine tried to help me fix it.  Then, it got hit by a taxi in Seattle during a snow storm while parked.

Shortly after that, I came across a 1978 Honda Accord, which was sitting in a garage in Seattle.  After being told that “I could have it if I could get it out of there”, I found out that the block was warped.  It took me three head gaskets to realize that.

My ‘Chavota’ was the next car I got, a 1987 Chevrolet Nova made in Japan by Toyota on the Corolla line.  This was the era of ‘Voluntary Import Reductions’, whereby the Japanese manufacturers agreed to limit the number of cars that they sold in the U.S.  The difference was made up by the American car makers selling re-branded Japanese cars.  The Chavota was the first car that I was able to keep running myself, doing all work except one constant-velocity joint replacement.

Now I have another motorcycle, and a truck as well, a 1988 Ford F250 pick up, which has a 4.9 liter straight 6 and a four speed.  It is the first vehicle which I have had to have towed three times.  Twice because of my incompetence.  Well, once at least.  I am not as good a mechanic as I would like to think that I am.

Illusions

2016/07/15

The illusion that we are not all broke is getting harder and harder to maintain.  The corruption and greed have driven our world economy to the edge of collapse, where we have been dancing for the last decade or so.  The majority of the world economy is debt, whether it is held in ‘bad banks’,  accounts receivable, or bonds.  A ‘promise to pay’ is considered the same as cash, at least in the world of high finance.  It doesn’t matter how much you owe, what matters is how much you can borrow.

Lots, if you are willing to pay 25 percent interest, as well as fees, fees, and penalties.  Loaning money to you actually increases the worth, the ‘assets’ of the lender, regardless of your ability or intent to pay.  The more money they can loan out, the more that they are worth.  Banks are beginning to charge people for holding their money, instead of paying interest.  Money isn’t working like it used to, because it is no longer representing work, or value added, or anything real.

More money has to be created constantly, to replace the money that is disappearing. When we say we are ‘borrowing’ money, what is happening is that it is being created out of thin air, numbers in computers that keep track of the illusions for us.

At war with ourselves

2016/07/08

America is being wracked by violence, as Americans become further estranged from each other.  Remembering our interdependence, our shared future, and our ancient heritage can let us be one people.  Focusing on our differences, cultivating fear and mistrust in order to capitalize upon it, these are the expressway to chaos and anarchy.  Greed is destroying the sense of community that is essential for human survival, as a small number of people hoard the majority of the immense wealth that has been created over the last 100 years.

This wealth was the product of labor, people putting their energy, their work, into building, producing, and creating value.  Immense improvements in productivity allowed the wealthy to enjoy large incomes, at the expense of raising the standard of living of those who produced the wealth.  Enough money exists in the world for every person to have a home, food to eat, medical care, and education when they desire it.  Instead, a few hundred thousand control trillions of dollars, which is mostly just sitting in banks, numbers on computers.  The real wealth that has been created is mostly gone, squandered by the corruption,  waste, and apathy of our society.  We no longer invest in the future, because we are too busy trying to wring every penny out of the present.

Life is more than money or material things.  It is caring for others, sharing the beauty that surrounds us, and exploring the possible.  We have the opportunity to rise above the superficial differences and see each other as people, all the same, all with worth and value.  Our own fear of inadequacy, of not measuring up, of disappointing someone we care about is our greatest enemy, not someone who looks a little different and speaks funny.  One people.  One Earth.

Getting the real thing

2016/07/06

Something which has been bothering me for a while involves the sale of music over the Web.  When you buy a song, it is downloaded to you in the form of an MP3 file.  MP3 is a way of compressing an audio file so that it doesn’t take up as much room or bandwidth.  This was very important back around 2000, when bandwidth was at a premium, and storage was still trying to reach gigabyte quantities.

Nowadays, we have lots of bandwidth, and storage sizes of a terabyte are common, so there is no reason to continue using a lossy compression algorithm for transferring music.  Several  lossless formats are in wide use, such as WAV, APE, and FLAC.  These formats provide CD quality storage and transfer of audio.

An MP3 file is not the actual music, but a representation of the music, so if you download a piece of music in MP3 format, you are not getting the real music.  Most people cannot tell the difference, especially on poor quality audio equipment, but there is still a difference.