War with the War on Drugs

I’ve just seen the trailers for two new documentaries coming out in end of 2012, both focusing on the drug trade and its impact on our world.
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For years I have been fascinated by the inability of large and powerful governments to stop the drug epidemic by doing two things:
1. Taking the battle to the source(s) of drugs, by operating officially or in clandestine manner right on the doorsteps of those producing drugs for export. The war on terror has show us how advanced technology and skilled operators on the ground can be very effective in extinguishing the enemy and reducing the impact of advanced “enemy” organisations through reducing their human asset pool. Afghanistan and Palestine show us, how a hellfire missile can change the balance of power.
2. Going after the drug as a biological material (this of course, does not relate to chemical drugs like speed). With the bio-genetic technology we have, there is no way that a determined government cannot develop a biological weapon (or genetic) aimed solely at the natural plants that produce our most potent drugs. Where is the virus that kills coca plants?
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But then I realised (again and again) that the WAR must go on – no one in the governments needs a win on this issue, and by that I mean a win in terms of stopping the transmission of drugs across borders into developed western states. Without a drug problem epidemic, people will begin looking at the real underlying issues of poverty, as those that now “do drugs” and through that can be blamed for being useless or hurtful to wider society will begin asking: ok, we got no more drugs, we are clean, where are our jobs and medical services?
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The same goes for agencies “battling the war”, that have sprung up in response to various governmental policies or have taken on new duties and thus received massive inflows of funding and resources. Agencies like the DEA do not want the “war” to end, as then they would have to close themselves down – the defenders have taken on a vested interest in the maintenance of the conflict. A one-time solution will yield a one-time bonus and then unemployment, while partial solutions will assure a steady, well-paid and prestigious job for life.
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The politicians need a ghostly enemy, on whom many problems can be blamed and solutions need not be invented, especially that our modern-day politicians have no idea on how to deal with much simpler problems.
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One interesting issue is: who cares about the citizens, suffering sheer hell in the hundreds of thousands? Who takes responsibility for defending those that cannot do it themselves?
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The second one is worse: with the interweaving of interests (government, security, crime) all for the sake of “war on terror”, have we completely lost our ethical and moral compass an cannot focus on more than one strategic imperative, but must sacrifice all else in a desperate attempt at retaining our credibility?
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The third relates to the increasing prison population, often cited as the emergence of modern-day slavery, used in various economic activities.
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In a WAR, we need to “heroes”, “enemies”, there must be “effort” and “sacrifice” as well as “necessary spending”. Did I mention “civilian casualties”? Remember one interesting statistic about modern wars: before the 20th century 90% of all casualties in a war were the soldier; today 90% of the casualties are the civilians. The same in our “war on drugs”?
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Fat tax – taxing the fatties

European governments are finally starting to fight the obesity pandemic.

They have NOT started a massive education campaign backed with terrible images of human innards, fat asses, dateless teenagers and bedridden human blimps that fill-out entire houses. They have NOT funded the introduction of dietitians into primary schools, nor have they changed (through law) the dietary requirements or the entire dietary pyramid. The phys ed programme has not received massive funding, and NO countless sports academic appeared overnight.

Governments have started fighting fat through taxation. Fat tax. The concept is simple – raise taxes on high fat products, reducing the demand for them (basic law of demand). Logic is that price hikes will do the same as they did to the cigarette industry. Unable to change the habits of the food industry, which is keen to fatten its subjects with immense sizes, bad content and tons of chemicals, AND unable to get any cooperation from the faceless corporations (as shown in Food.Inc), the government has decided that only financial penalties will have any effect on both the fat makers and fat consumers.

Of course, there will not be any “transaction taxation”, no “food Tobin tax”, where the money is taken from the production companies, where THEIR cash flows would be immediately affected upon introducing excessive amounts of fat into the production chain. Noooo. The taxation will be on the final consumer, because the corporations have power, money and can lobby or influence the voting process. Citizens are (as always) defenceless, especially when you steal their money under another spurt of “it’s good for you” and “we care about you” mumbojumbo.

So, how do you de-motivate people from doing the only things that gives them comfort? Fatness and overeating are emotional problems resulting from crappy lives. Can the government fix the lives, jobs, families, hopes and dreams of the population? Doubt it… We know that sugar and fats give comfort by releasing chemicals into the bloodstream. Like with any good fix, when taken away, junkies will look for a replacement, or consume more of the same (now weaker) substance.
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One additional thought about the fat tax – have you seen the SIZE of some human blimps? The government should tax not just the food content, but also do a progressive penalty scale for size of food portions. I think that here all the medics will agree – regardless of what you eat, eating 5kgs of whatever (or drinking a gallon at a time) will blimpify you regardless of its “dietary” nature.

Recalling a well-known comedian (Jasper Carrot), let’s kill any attempts at ideologising the “genetics of blimpness”: people get fat because their UPPER (entry) hole is bigger than the LOWER (exit) hole. Let’s see the government tax that… Oh, wait, they just might, by developing an algorithm for the differentiation coefficient in hole sizes. If they can tax rain, they can… Damn…

One good thing from the whole epidemic – I enjoy every episode of Family Fat Surgeons, and those guys make a ton of money by removing tons of lard from human blimps.

Ecological reforms: cost burden

Increasingly, the media are allowing signals to come through regarding the massive burden that Brussels is imposing on EU members states, their companies and citizens. The Kyoto Protocol (according to rumours G.W.Bush knows it as the “Coyote Protocol”) is wreaking havoc on those that follow it, while one nation after the other are dropping out. The US, of course, thinking about its lazy and fat commuters, never signed it, as did a few other nations.
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I found the whole thing extremely funny (in a sad way): the developed world, filled with scientific brainiacs, was discussing global warming and the way to combat it, while the developing world stayed “business as usual”. Westerners could be excused for idealistic solutions to global problems, while those in the 2nd and 3rd and 4th worlds, looked at us and saw what we did as another form of imperialism – this time trying to limit developing world development by inventing some bull%$£” about a rise in temperatures.
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So, Kyoto got signed, the signatories promised to curb CO2 emissions, and the very next day everyone (who mattered) kept doing their usual things – spewing gas into the atmosphere, and in higher loads each day, in tune with their economic development.
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Only in Brussels did they do the reverse – started squeezing nations and companies and people to reduce, reduce, reduce. My favourite case was the energy efficient light bulb: citizens were forced off the normal ones towards the new, more expensive gizmos that give out crappy light (manufactured by a few select and fiendly-to-brussels companies, by accident of course ;p). We were told that this would save 10% (or thereabouts) of our energy consumption, but Brussels forgot to tell us that citizens used ONLY about 15% of total energy in Europe. The main electricity eaters, industry, are not about light bulbs but machines, hugme machines, veeeery energy hungry, not reformed with a glowy bulby.
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Anyway, I kept wondering about this suicidal Brusselism, another one it seems – why are the apparatchicks insisting that EU implement all these tight regulations?
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The first reason is relatively simple: administrative trade barriers. Using all the Coyote mumbo-jumbo Brussels is able to control and restrict international trade, bypassing WTO and its (story for another time) free-market bull^&*. Where Europe cannot compete, because modern EU-ans are lazy and unmotivated, Brusselian apparatchiks are trying to change the tide of global trade.
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The second reason is more Machiavellian: no one wants to fund technological progress of the Kondratieff-wave-level. Previously, massive jumps were funded by the military, world wars and great tragedies that cause great efforts/sacrifices. Today, that is not so easy and citizens, free of the Cold War, prefer their money in their pockets. So, Brusselian logic came up with the ecological paradigm shift: scare everyone with a sea-level rise, charge everyone billions and give that money to a few select companies. The hope is that, by the time we as taxpayers wake up and demand proof, Brusselians will be able to show us a new industry, another world leader, built (subsidized) with our money.
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(Magician murmurs) taaaaaa DAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! (dead rabbit out of frayed hat)
Audience: aaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (whispers of exalted gratitude)
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Of course, if the oceans DO RISE, then… we can all blame the Indians and the Chinese for messing up the world.

Rating agency terrorism

Hungarian bonds have been valued this week at the lowest possible level: junk. European media are crying over the impact that a Hungarian dump will have on the value of other EU nation’ papers. Moody’s, S&P and their hordes of faceless analysts, are holding entire nations hostage, giving massive headaches to EU Finance Ministers, PMs and Presidents.
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Rating agencies remain aloof from the financial system, predators observing the freaky and nervous herd, picking and choosing which victim to “analyse” and pass verdict upon. Their decisions affect not just the Finance Ministry’s, but also impact ordinary citizens (whose nation cannot undertake necessary investments to assure development/progress), companies (stupid rule where credit rating of a company cannot be higher than that of its nation) and entire political systems. The shadowy, faceless financiers/analysts are another wing of the same global terror system, intent on enforcing a single ideological model based on ruthless free-market capitalism controlling its players through debt. We all know that modern capitalism is a failure, a circus allowing units to make billions while worsening the lives of millions, and it would be good for nations (and their politicians) to try new things. That will, however, be impossible, as any attempts at moving away from the failed system, as the Hungarians are trying by allowing the government to regain control over the central bank, should be welcomed – if we don’t try new things, how can we improve our countries?
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Now, it is clear that the global financial community does not like dissenters (or rather, dissenting nations) and they have their own ways of dealing with “financial rogue states”: alongside rating agencies, we have the IMF, exposed by Joseph Stilgitz and a variety of NGO power grabbers. All those agencies clearly represent a systemic logic that is backward looking and favours only a few key players. As such, should their opinions and decisions and ratings be treated as gospel? Should Moodys be allowed to “dump” a nation’s debt just because its government is trying something new?
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The only reasons these agencies are so strong is that everyone believes they matter, including the Finance Ministers of nations under “ratings attack”. They cower and plead, instead of calling the Minister of Defence. Moodys, S&P should also remember one other thing – Lehman Brothers was also “indestructible”. Also, the EU is right in trying to bypass these monsters by creating its own rating system – after all, competition brings optimisation (hehehe, serves the agencies right to be slammed by the same system they enforce).
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One last thing – with a rating dump costing a country billions (as in higher cost of international borrowing for nation and companies and denial of required investments), is that not the same as an economic attack on a nation? Is denying money the same as stealing it or destroying buildings, bridges, schools, hospitals to the same value????? Maybe one day politicians WILL consider a rating dump an attack on a nation? In that future case – does Moodys have an underground bunker? It would be good if, as with Occupy Wall Street, another group/caste of financial moguls were scared back into rationality.

The NEXT global crisis / bubble: insurance

Remember one fundamental truth: there is NO global warming (buhahahaha, or other evil laughter ). The weather changes are random and there is NOTHING we can do about it. Or so the right wingers and global masters claim, guzzling petrol, not paying taxes, stealing our money and eating babies.

In the world where “climate does not change”, an American agency for atmosphere and oceans (NOAA – Not Ordinary Annoying Agency) published some data that this year the US was blessed with twelve climate crises costing the taxpayer 1 billion USD EACH. The number of sub-billion-dollar catastrophes (shhhh…blessings) was not given, but we can assume that a few more occurred and more dollars got forked out to those affected.

Having just renewed insurance on my apartment, it got me thinking. Insurance is another mathematical betting game, where the insurer gambles that it will collect more in revenue from dispersed insurers than pay out to those negatively affected by misfortune. Some fancy mathematical modelling there, spreading the risk (bets, anyone?), analysing patterns and where necessary raising premiums to cover increased outlays (as did the insurance industry after 9/11 to offset the massive payouts post-WTC to everyone affected-and-insured).

Now, here’s my quandary: the USA is an enormous country with multiple climates, time zones, major differences between north-south and east-west, two oceans and some massive lakes&rivers. And a puny building technique where houses are made from cardboard. So, we have a continent just begging for God’s wrath: a tornado here, a flood there, forest fire here, earthquake there. Now, just about anything and anyone is/are insured from (against) THEIR particular mishap, but when the number of such tragedies increases as does the typological and timeline spread of such tragedies, because there is NO global warming (buhahahaha), then the mathematical models of insurance companies go out the window (unless a tornado took it out first).

So, insurance companies are finding that they have to either: increase premiums, reduce (or deny any) payouts through cheating on contract and definition interpretation, reduce their profit margin (oh, the horror!!) or transfer the burden onto others (by going global and finding insures in countries where less bad things happen and stealing their premiums to pay the Americans). The problem with increasing premiums is that it changes the risk-versus-reward calculation of policy-holders and one by one they begin to drop out from the system: a poor famer here, a sneaky company owner there, further reducing the amount of money available to pay out to those who remain. Now, the globalisation option (buying insurers elsewhere, reinsuring on global markets) would be useful IF there was no global warming and no weather patterns changing everywhere (and since there is no global warming…buhahahaha).
So, where will the insurance companies get money for their payouts? And, of course, if these are stock traded companies when and how will their cash shortfalls become public knowledge? Will we find another leverage pyramid with trillions stolen (paid out in commission and consultancy fees) and the government (e.g. the same citizens who paid already in insurance premiums) left to pay off the massive debt (by the way: debt to WHOM)?

Food for thought: in Canada (I seem to recall), they tried to institute a no-fault car insurance system administered by the state: every accident gets a “it’s not your fault” payout and the rates would have been lower than in the commercial version. The model was killed by “the business” as insurance companies yelled bloody murder for potential loss of profits from poor suckers (e.g. drivers forced to pay for mathematically calculated/inflated premiums).

Food for thought 2: my apartment’s insurance policy covers (or so they promise) to pay for damage to the roof incurred from a blast wave (I kid you not). Now, as I understand the causal factors of a blast wave, there are 3 major ones: major explosion of some plant (chemical, nuclear, or maybe something like the Hungarian red mudslide disaster?); meteor entering the atmosphere (at that point I won’t care about my roof as if it has a blast wave affecting ME, then it is also landing ON me and squashing ME) or the most logical and probable: supersonic wave from a passing plane. Now, in the third case, the only planes that are supersonic are military and even they do not fly above mach 1 in peacetime and beyond military training grounds. Only in combat (e.g. WAR?????), so if there IS combat over my house, then (again) who will care about the roof getting blown off? But, I am sure that the premium contains some $$$ to cover that eventuality anyway. The last case is a nuclear detonation, but that is… WTF!!!!!!

Food for thought 3: After “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” came out, enterprising insurance salesmen started selling asteroid insurance (“in case your house gets damaged”). Probability and Fate being what they are, one house DID get damaged by a rock from space, but upon claiming the payout, the policy-holder was politely informed that an asteroid upon entering the atmosphere becomes a meteorite, and his policy did NOT include those.

I might be getting older, but my mind increasingly leans towards the Texan form of insurance: AK447 and a bunker. Screw the mathematical freaks and their useless models. I hope they get fat on our money today, so we can eat their bloated bodies later.
Don’t invest in insurance products… buy gold. Even in Costner’s “Waterworld” people would know what it is (and use it for teeth).

Japanese rebirth?

Japan will come out of the tsunami tragedy much stronger, with renewed energy.

End of Days – a systemic analysis?

If The End comes, are we ready for systemic Armageddon with trained staff, systems and resources? What about Catrina and Japan?