Saturday, August 05, 2023

To End the Russian-Ukrainian War

Systems rise and fall by their characteristic modes of operation because those modes simply express some underlying truth of nature. The Ukrainian invasion was made possible by such a characteristic within the Russian state--a characteristic that has not changed much over the last several hundred years. Such a strong characteristic cannot be hidden. Indeed, it stands in plain view for all to see. 

The Russian people are still serfs in their own minds. They do not think or feel as though they are responsible for the actions and decisions of their government. The Russian people, in general, are not the stuff of successful and functional democracies. It would be a huge mistake to try to beat Russia by fighting it on its strengths. 

Why fight a war of attrition with a country and people that will not give proper attribution to its losses? Instead, achieve the goal of a long and prosperous peace by pulling out the sticks that support the facade. 

Russia is morally and politically corrupt. Hang these modern-day fascists with their own rope. We have seen that hundreds of thousands of young Russians will flee the country rather than fight Putin's war. What if that number was multiplied by ten? The country would collapse economically, and those that remain would be left to ponder their predicament--perhaps even to learn. 

What if the western democracies offered citizenship and guaranteed jobs/income to any Russian that could flee across the border? We could see perhaps 10 million Russians emigrate--enough to hollow out Putin's war machine. Better yet, it would perhaps finally achieve the objectives of NATO and put an end to the threat of Russian aggression. It would cost perhaps $100 billion dollars and effectively win a war without the tragic destruction of the alternative.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Afghanistan: Who are we really fooling?

Well, oh well. Look at all the shocked faces, and all with a finger to point. The rapid fall of Afghanistan should have surprised no one.  We had seen the very same phenomenon when ISIS overran northern Iraq and sent that ersatz army fleeing. And the atrocities that followed should have surprised no one just as the slaughterhouse that Afghanistan is about to become should leave no one claiming that they had no idea that the Taliban was not the reincarnation of Nelson Mandela's ANC.

How do we know? Besides direct deduction? Just ask yourself several counterfactuals:

Question 1. If you were the lead intelligence officer for US armed forces and you could make a fantastic case for what was about to happen, would your boss, the Commander, care?

Ans. Not a chance. He wants to be the new Gen Milley someday. Why upset the applecart? He knows that the POTUS doesn't want to hear it.

Question 2. What if you were the SecDef or SecState?

Ans. Well, you don't care. What do you care about? Not much of real consequence. Deals mostly.

Question 3. What if you were Biden?

Ans. One word: Ice Cream! 

You see, the problem is not just that our political leaders are not very bright, it is primarily that they don't care. And BTW, before we get partisan, none of them really cared. Bush didn't even care about Iraq until a light went off in his head connecting the impending doom of Iraq, the model, with his own prospects for reelection in that case (and this needed to be almost spelled out for him).

Yes, our political leaders have no clue about much except their own political prospects and they have cultivated a Pretorian guard of imbeciles that will tell them just about whatever they want to hear. Remember the aluminum tubes? How many geniuses did it take to figure out that they were not meant for centrifuges? Turns out just one professor on leave to the DOE--we should probably hire that guy and fire the rest of the National Intelligence Apparatus.

Now, these people are not actually stupid, but their total lack of moral fiber makes them so. After all, they were smart enough to take loads of your tax money and they all have a much better retirement account. But we weren't really fooled either. Truth be told, we "normal" people mostly just don't care about our own government and that is why we tolerate such mediocrities. Even a dunce can be useful if he annoys the other guy more than he embarrasses our team. 

It's all just a game with one side scoring points on the other. Meanwhile, the few that are not in the game do their best to pretend that the direction of government is unimportant--sort of a self-driving car made by German engineers--it will get you there eventually. Enjoy the ride.

So as the slaughter of the innocent is about to unfold in Afghanistan, we can be happy that we were smart enough not to be there ourselves. We will never find ourselves in such a situation, right? After all, we are protected by our government of the People. Surely, they will not let us down.

Just one small problem there.....

You guessed it. We are the problem and our insipid political leadership is just a reflection of our own debased values. It couldn't be any clearer. The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves. That should be no surprise to anyone. The character of a nation is simply the aggregate of the character of its People.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Unescapable Logic

Let's take a look at why The Shape of Things to Come was correct as a prediction (and please remember this analysis was done at a time when there was fierce speculation even among experts that were in no way as accurate as the post).

The first principle is that the economy is a system that is always quasi-stable near some equilibrium point. Economic expansion means that excess goods are produced along with the chits to redeem  them by people who somehow are considered to have merited the chits. An economic contraction means that the causal relations for incentivizing the goods production and chit distribution squirrel cage has broken down. If this goes on long enough, the consumption necessary to sustain relative prosperity overtakes the production and a cycle of poverty can set in.

In the first round of lockdowns, we as a group decided to forego prosperity for the imaginary chits of safety. Consumption went along, but not at much of a pace that it would jeopardize the imaginary value of the chits (money given out by a government with a large printing press). What did happen, however, was that the squirrel cage of work and value was put askew. Disproportionately, the service sector was nullified and the chits standing in for the value of an education were devalued. This might go on for a bit and perhaps nothing would be the worse since much of US education is a worthless waste of time, anyhow. But, there is a but ...

What if that adjustment to the running of the squirrel cage caused enough people to decide that the education was not worth the effort? There will always be some. But what if this small trickle became a gusher? Would there be a corrective mechanism within the system to put it back in line? For STEM degrees from first tier universities, of course. But not necessarily for the rest, most of whom incidentally seek to redeem those chits in the recently nullified service sector. That amplifying confluence of forces may have an effect outside its initial expectations.

Those chits rely on the belief that they can be redeemed later in life. When that belief is broken, an alternate valuation must be adopted. The problem with university educations are that they are largely inherently worthless and already many of the students, if not the majority, understand this. Why pay for it if it is not necessary?

If enough excess value is drained by the system through consumption, we will reach a point where subsidies must be prioritized. The student loan system stands out as one where $1.4T of debt is probably too much to write off. We cannot pay students not to pay their loans even if those loans are ultimately back to the government. So some proportion of that debt will be reexamined by the students and if found worthless, a wave of defaults will occur so much so that our economic system will be forced to reconfigure the education system.

I doubt that the "new normal" can survive when children and college students are sent back to class. And when that happens, the pandemic will appear to be something of a fraud regardless the spike in elderly deaths. A reevaluation of assumptions will be the zeitgeist.

The second principle is that unexpected changes to the equilibrium have unexpected consequences, and the most difficult to predict are inflections in human value systems. For example, we once valued books not only for their information but as symbols of learning. Take a look next time you are visiting with an "educated" friend or even a professor. Where are the books? Not so much as once were common.

It is not just that so-called educated people don't own books, they do not read books or consider them important. This is especially common among today's students. Consider this as a precursor. The question is, "What does knowledge have to do with my success?" It's fine to say that this is nonsense, but is it?

These are the absurdities that appear just before major societal corrections. We once thought that family was critical to success. No so much anymore. Pedigree is not destiny.

There has been a slow but steady trend to devalue actual education. This may be the jolt to upset the institutional apple cart. If so, I doubt it was expected that 50% of $1.4T could head towards default in a catastrophe. But I do not see what there is to stop it either. Eventually, all such absurdities are eradicated from a functioning system as it changes modes.

The alternative view is that the value of the "education" is simply as a credential to gain employment in the government or corporate sector--that the value is in being socialized for the purposes of the government/corporate interests and not so much for knowledge. If we consider that corporations and government aligns with a feeling-type personality, then college is simply a feedback loop of resources for the indoctrination of the future corporate fodder.  Is this a cynical approach? Yes, but maybe just so. College education in the US is a paradox of absurdities with one constant--socialization.

If so, then systematic default in student loans would gladly be borne by the government without any reconfiguration of the "educational" enterprise. Failure will be subsidized if political conformity is achieved. In that sense, it it not failure per se.

Let's see.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Shape of Things to Come

Some things are fairly well known. Let's start from those.

1. In the US, for the week of April 15, the average daily death toll will be a couple thousand coming mainly from the Northeast corridor.

2. Beginning in the week of April 21, if lockdowns persist, the unemployment rate will raise to over 15% and moderate size non-service oriented businesses will begin layoffs.

3. In the week of April 28, if the lockdown persists, the central government will no longer have enough credit to float the system, and businesses will follow their own pattern of adaptation.

Which means that within the next week, (the week of April 15), the central governments around the EU and North America have a decision to make:

A. Admit that the pandemic is out of control and instead prioritize the economy.

B. Double down into economic catastrophe.

My guess is that the governments will choose A. In that case, we have a very interesting social condition that will develop in that the free peoples will be divided amongst themselves on the basis of age. Going into the 2020 election, we will see that develop in political terms as well. I would expect that the Democrats will demagogue the issues and attempt to have it both ways before strongly siding with socialist-type interventions that are not economically feasible. The Republican, lacking strong leadership, will dance in the wind as they hope for the situation to resolve itself.

So by mid-May, we will have a new normal. The economy will be reopened but the virus will not be defeated. The daily death toll will remain in the thousands, but most people will begin to adapt to the threat, having learned effectively nothing. With a depressed economy and no excess capital to spend, certain changes will need to be made:

1. Higher education will cease to be a four-year vacation for the indolent on loans. The student loan system collapses under the weight of unpayable loans built on fraudulent education, bloated administrations, and a squirrel cage system of raising costs without value.

2. The financial system will be sacked of a great proportion of its liquidity.

3. The service sector will remain contracted, not for the virus, but because there is no money to spend.

4. Capital investments will contract and political solutions will be proposed that are in fact confiscations of wealth.

5. The legal system will lose legitimacy to the degree that court orders are not enforced by fiat, but rather only through negotiation.

Well, let's see.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Modeling the Coronavirus Contagion

Without a vaccine, the protection to at-risk populations is a matter of not getting the disease in the first place. So, the question of the pervasiveness of the spread of the disease is of greatest importance. The answer to this question depends almost entirely on the immunity of those infected and recovered since the US is not able to institute draconian isolation measures over any large geographical area.

While there was an initial indication that recovered individuals may be contagious, this is likely a test failure. Let us therefore assume that recovered individuals have immunity from reinfection and are not contagious for at least six months. If so, then the protection of at-risk individuals is feasible if they can be locally isolated when the wave of infections sweeps through an area. The recent success of the Chinese to stem the rate of spread of the disease should give us hope even though we do not weld doors shut on apartment complexes.

Remember, there is an approximately two-week lag time. So, when you see a bump up in the local rate of infection, act quickly and decisively to isolate your at-risk populations. Be prepared for 6-8 weeks of isolation per wave of infection. Meanwhile, on the national level, the best policy is to isolate the nation and quickly saturate with testing and isolate any affected occurrences. This disease is not super-human, but it is no slacker either.

A more detailed nonlinear control model will be forthcoming from the Prof. Ellina Grigorieva when data is available to estimate the parameters.

Good Luck.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Societal Evolution

Given the increasing division between the thinking/feeling poles in the modern integrated society, we can answer the question of how the system will evolve. Recall that in the Transnational Liberalism post, the system described had the thinking player at the exterior of an expanding universe. The feeling player is in the interior with the stability point being non-Pareto, i.e. it is somewhere within the interior between the two players. As the system grows fueled by technological advances, the periphery expands at a geometric rate and therefore the overall influence of the thinking player will outpace the that of the feeling player and the equilibrium point will tend to move towards the periphery. But this is the long term limit. The stable growth of the system can be upset as it is today by the rapid condensation of the interior as they tear from their connection to the exterior player.

Let's use the analogy of the system universe in a slightly different way. A system grows by its ability to direct useful information. The well-defined mores of a socio-political system are like the supporting structures of a tree that direct information (position) to the leaves. The feeling player gravitates to the points in the system which nurtures future generations, actively participates in the interpersonal relations of the culture, and forms the crony networks that dominate large organizations. While the exterior player creates wealth from work done with the environment, the function of the interior player is to create human value. But untethered power tends to corrupt and when the interior player does not see itself as dependent on the wealth creation process of the exterior player, the impression of dominance and self-sufficience may arise. At this context, the structures that were developed to support the productive activities of the exterior player may appear counterproductive to the interior player therefore leading to their corruption. This dynamic can lead to instability and collapse of the system.

As partisanship increases, the feeling player coalesces with the benefit of central position in being able to organize their efforts. Additionally, the feeling player has a simple common set of expressions, i.e. it is primitive in its motivations. Meanwhile, the exterior player is focused on the external environment. The exterior player typically goes about its business of working as a normal mode of operation while the interior player manipulates those with which its comes into contact as its method of extracting wealth. The exterior player experiences a lag in adapting to the initiatives of the interior player. This relationship will persist while the internal structures of the system supply information to the exterior player. If the information structures of the system are corrupted by the concentrated efforts of the interior player (it benefits from the ability to position itself against the exterior player using unrestricted interior lines), the efforts of the exterior player may collapse and it is forced to redirect its efforts into reestablishing the interior structures. This is now the present situation.

What follows is a chaotic interior struggle. The eventual winner is the exterior player due to their ability to communicate the creation of wealth and eventually, the interior structures will be rebuilt and the system reformed. Of course, the system will be the worse for this disruption and there is the chance of total system destruction should an exterior intervention such as nuclear war occur while the system is in its vulnerable state.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Societal Learning

It would be hard to miss the fact that these times seem a little strange. Nearly one-half of the population of the US appears to have politically lost their tether and are now openly indulging themselves in hysterical, fever-dreamed fits of rage.

This is societal learning. Learning is like the five stages of grief. It is a reaction and reconciliation with an external reality that throws one off of their balance. When society is composed of essentially two poles with fundamental learning differences, reality will hit both poles differently. The exterior player will adapt to the external influence while the interior player will fight the change before more slowly adapting. This is the model presented in the Transnational Liberalism post. The interior player are the DNC/Socialist party and the exterior player is the RNC/Conservative party. They are differentiated by the fundamental modes of feeling/thinking of their members.

The change is due to technology which has produced an integrated economy fused with politics as never before possible. The red-blue shift over the years has been accelerated by technology and has produced an economic and political dipole. Now, politics and economics are correspondent, ubiquitous, and omnipotent factors in determining nearly every other aspect of US life. As predicted in the TNL post, in such a situation, the interior player must eventually find themselves dependent and inferior to the exterior player since the exterior is where the ever expanding percentage of economic activity is sustained in a growing system. The recent adjustment of American conservative politics to populism and the concordant alignment of DNC/Socialist politics in opposition to populism is one aspect of the Trump phenomenon. This alignment is a mega-trend and not due to one individual.

Confronted with its decline as seen by a recent irrelevance in wish-fulfilling fantasies, the American left has gone from denial (the Russian hoax) to anger, and will soon enter the bargaining stage. Every election is a bargain or sorts, but this is a bargain to sustain an unrealistic internal state--the fantasy that the policies of the left are praiseworthy and not simply primitive selfish rationalizations.

What is clear at this point is that the next election will be one between pragmatism and open delusion. Learning will only take place if pragmatism wins out.