Tag Archives: Oregon

A Passionate Appeal for a Sidewalk

With the election cycle in full swing, we turn our attention not to the national scene, where two people we will refer to only as BO and MR are bombarding the nation with empty promises in hopes that the dangling chads in November will fall their way, but to more pressing local matters.

Here at The Mint, we recognize that the natural operation of anarchy renders much of what happens at the highest levels of government, which in the US means those seated at the State and Federal levels increasingly irrelevant.  While they have the potential to do great harm, government on a large-scale generally suffers from a form of paralysis which makes their decisions increasingly meaningless to the average Joe.  They have grown to the point where they are nothing more than an amoeba, which at best should be ignored and at worst, actively avoided.

As such, we consider it a great waste of time to obsess over them.

Government at the local level, meaning the City and, more importantly, the County level, has a much greater direct impact on the lives of its constituents.  As such, we see government at the City and County level as absolutely necessary to the smooth functioning of society.  We also present, for your consideration, that participation in government at a local level is not only time well spent, it can be profitable.

A great opportunity to guide public policy at a local level is presented frequently at events that are generally referred to as requests for public comment.  While in some cases, these events are held to give an air of legitimacy to an already planned action, some of them present a grand opportunity to sway local policy and public resource investment decisions.  Given this grand opportunity, it may come as a surprise that these events are often overlooked, even by those who would be directly affected by the action being considered.

For your perusal and enjoyment, we present the following example of yours truly taking advantage of such an opportunity presented by our County’s Minor Betterment Project Committee.

Each year, the committee is presented with a list of potential minor public works projects which have been vetted by overpaid consultants and assigned a ranking based on a point system which is theoretically designed by the consultant to capture potential public benefit of a project in a tidy little number.

This is like the BCS for your tax dollars, and, as any NCAA coach knows, it never hurts to lobby your case, especially when the voting is tight.

We recently found out that a much-needed improvement project, one that could modestly increase our property value, had made the “Top 20” of the latest version of the public works BCS.

Pompeii Sidewalk by Paul Vlaar
The ancients had sidewalks, why can’t we? photo of sidewalks in Pompeii by Paul Vlaar

Like any good coach, we picked up our digital writing implement and began to lobby for our own, local, pet project.  The result of this activity is what we call “A Passionate Appeal for a Sidewalk,” a transcript of which follows:

As both a property owner and frequent pedestrian of this stretch of Madison Road, I can attest to the large-scale safety hazard that the lack of a pedestrian walkway on this stretch of road presents daily.  Not only to the school children who wait for the bus on the thoroughfare during the morning, but all manner of pedestrians, bicyclists, school bus drivers, and vehicle operators who daily traverse it.  Were it not for the vigilance of the drivers on this stretch of road, this perilous route would no doubt be the site of a lamentable tally of traffic fatalities.

For those who have not seen it, Madison road is narrow and increasingly relied upon by all manner of commuters (pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists) during rush hours.  During these peak times, it is commonplace to see cars nearly miss a head on collision with each other as they make a noble attempt to give way for pedestrians (a majority of which are school children) who literally have no choice but to walk along the 12 inch border of the existing roadway alloted to them.  Alternative routes for this pedestrian trail are far enough away to that they are not viable options, and, as we mentioned before, pedestrian traffic on this stretch of road continues to increase.

While the sidewalk project proposed to remedy this dangerous situation is the most expensive on the list, and can hardly be considered minor, the money spent will likely spare a tragedy involving the dangerous mix of vehicles and school children which is present every day of the school year.  If the goal of these projects is to increase the safety of the community, this project has perhaps the greatest potential to do just that.  In a sense, it is long overdue.

We, your neighbors along this deceptively dangerous stretch of Madison road, appreciate the committee’s attention to this matter.

What do you think, will our impassioned plea sway the committee to divert funds into our pet project?  We should know by late October whether or not ours comes out on top.  Either way, civic involvement, on a local level, is necessary given the proximity of the governing body.  While the body and budget itself is small, its potential to wreak havoc on your everyday life is too big to ignore, just ask anyone who has found themselves on the wrong end of a dispute with an activist home owners association board.

As for the State and Federal versions of Government, in their late, degenerate, bankrupt form they can do little more than create the illusion of watching your every move and controlling the details of your life.  Despite their large-scale propaganda and their presence at the airport gate, they are mostly harmless.  Your impassioned pleas and time spent informing yourself on issues are best spent at the local level.

Who knows?  You may even save a life or make the world a better place, all while increasing your property value at the government’s expense.

It is the closest thing to Nirvana that the governed can experience.

 

Anarchy: Atheism with regards to government – Part III – The Test

6/4/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

A colleague from our grad school days in Barcelona recently contacted us from Madrid with an exciting project he and a partner are developing.  As such, we are unwittingly trying our hand at the emergent Natural Cosmetics Market.

While Spain and Europe in general appear to be falling apart at the seams, his company is experiencing a boom.  As with most smaller enterprises, all it lacks is some well guided investment to transform this mini-boom into a supersonic boom.  “El Empujon”, we call it.  The big push to get them over the hump, to open new markets, scale production, and create countless jobs in the value chain.

It is just this sort of thing that Governments in the West espouse in word but make nearly impossible in deed.

While the products are all natural, they may be subject to FDA approvals.  Then, once the governmental hurdles are cleared, we face a fiercely competitive market where access to the final consumer is tightly controlled by what amounts to a monopoly or at best, an oligarchy, in the cosmetics world.  Then there are patents, customs, and any number of mines in the field which must be avoided or diffused to successfully bring the products to market.

How shall The Mint attack this Goliath?  We are working on a strategy, which we call, the “Heart of the Beast.”  The details of which, for obvious reasons, we shall keep a well guarded secret for the moment.

More on this to come.

In our last correspondence, we presented a hypothesis for dealing with government.  Now, we must move the hypothesis down a level.  How, then would one test the hypothesis by embracing anarchy, or atheism with regards to government, in a place like Oregon?

Oregon is a State which places a relatively large amount of faith in its political system and, by extension, the power of the government to solve social problems. 

The approach seems to work for most.  The territory is home to an abundance of natural resources and a great number of people who are willing to go along with the government’s program.  In these conditions, the idea and mechanisms of government are tolerated and to an extent championed, for it is possible to live in Oregon and enjoy a relatively high standard of living despite the waste inherent in governmental activities.

Disarming the State is as simple as changing and then using one's mind

However, one can only wonder as to what may be possible here in the great Northwest were the government not to hyper regulate every industry or confiscate 9% of the wages earned by those who labor in its borders (on top of the roughly 21% that the Federal government lays claim to).

Is the average citizen better off living on 70% of his wages?  Or, put another way, does the average citizen derive enough benefit from being “governed” that he or she would value it at roughly one third of his or her income?

There are burning questions, fellow taxpayer, that every citizen would do well to ask themselves from time to time.  If the mechanism of government were to go away, or be reduced to the spheres where it paradoxically does add value to the economy (note that, were this the case, it would technically cease to be government and become yet another capitalistic enterprise operating in the anarchic surroundings), would it not hold that everyone, including those who work in the unproductive areas of government, would be better off on a relative basis?

The answer, of course, is yes, unless one finds themselves in a position which relies upon the government being able to confiscate a certain amount of resources or the privileges which the mechanism of government may grant them.

However, even this minority would be better off once they adjusted to the reality of life without the idea of government.

What about the Disaster aid, Police and Fire Departments?  Aren’t they at least necessary?

Of course they are!  And for that very reason, private organizations would quickly spring up to fill these vital roles.  In fact, they already exist.  They are commonly known as Security and Insurance companies.  In Anarcho-Capitalist theory, the array of companies which would arise are called “Private Defense Agencies.”  Anyone skeptical about what would arise in a purely anarchic system to replace functions currently delegated to the Nation State is encouraged to study this theory.

For in some ways, the Nation State is simply an over diversified and poorly run Private Defense Agency.

As with any failing capitalistic entity, when a Nation State has gone from being a servant of the people to active enslavement, its lack of popularity invariably shows up in its deteriorating financial condition.  This fact alone is proof that Anarchy is the context in which the Nation States of the world today act and operate.  On this basis alone it is proper to constantly question the relevancy of the State with regards to its utility against viable alternatives.

Yet despite the failure and bankruptcy of nearly all of the Nation States that have existed and the presence of well developed theories which offer alternatives to these failures, the mechanism of the Nation State remains in place and retains for itself a monopolistic power over defense, welfare, as well as the right to generally meddle in all of the affairs of its subjects at whim.

When living within geographical boundaries of a failing Nation State, it is wise to be prepared to live as if it did not exist, which means that functions vital for one’s existence must be secured by the individual or a cooperative independant of the failing Nation State, for it has been observed throughout history that the authorities of a failing Nation State have a tendency to pillag…we mean, relieve their subjec…we mean, citizens, of their means of sustenance by the most expedient means available.

What is the most expedient means possible?  If the Nation State controls the money supply, they simply print money and acquire resources, which is more the rule than the exception circa 2012.

Once a Nation State has begun to relieve their citizens of their wealth in this way, it is possible that those who understand what is going on will convince all to resist by way of armed conflict.  However, this is rarely effective, for it tends to replace one form of tyranny with another.  These methods rely upon might to make right, which most thinking persons are keenly aware is a losing proposition.

Persons and Nation States, especially those that are desperate and have resorted to robbery, rarely give up their arms willingly or peacefully, so it is up to the individual to peacefully disarm it.  This is best done by using a tactic that is not coincidentally very effective against the school yard bully.

Avoidance.

How can one do this?  For practical purposes, we have compiled a brief list of steps which one could take to avoid and thereby peacefully resist a Nation State which has failed:

1.  Money, trade what you want to:  Conduct trade in a currency other than the one used to pay the tax.  For it is proper to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  While it may be inconvenient at first to trade using alternative currencies, one may find that it is often not obligatory to use Caesar’s money.

2.  Rely on Common sense:  Ignore laws and excessive regulations and respect the free will of those you work with.  If someone is willing to work for you for less than minimum wage, allow them to work, do not deprive them of a job to comply with an arbitrary wage set by a bureaucrat.  Make no conscious distinction between contract workers and employees, for both are freely performing work.

3.  An important caveat to this is to not brag about flouting unreasonable laws and regulations.  Assume that if you are breaking a legitimate labor law, for example, both you and the employee will know of it and have dealt with it long before the government will deal with it.  It is the false hope that government is regulating untenable working conditions that gives rise to untenable working conditions in the first place.

4.  Come out of Babylon:  If you live in a place where the microscope of government regulation is unavoidable, move until you can freely live a safe distance from it.

5.  Cross borders:  If language is not a barrier and your trade or profession is not location specific, there should be no resistance from either government to crossing national borders in search of better opportunities, for all stand to benefit from this.

6.  Sell what consumers want, not what the government allows you to sell.  The greatest test of a product (food included) is public opinion.  Government approval of products, like labor laws tend to give the population a false sense of security.

As we have stated above, if the Nation State’s intentions are pure and in harmony with Natural Law, there should be no resistance from them to an individual who chooses to take these steps.

If, on the other hand, the bankrupt Nation State begins to pass and enforce laws against these actions, restricting freedom and by default, trade, in a vain effort to pillage its subjects to pay the politicians’ debts, it then shows itself to be predatory.

Anyone who has attempted to take any the steps above has likely encountered some sort of resistance to taking these actions.  What may come as a surprise is that the resistance may not have come directly from the government itself, for the government of a failing Nation State, or any Nation State for that matter, does not have the resources to enforce all of the rules that they put on the books.

Rather, resistance, more often than not, comes from well meaning but misguided fellow citizens who are unwittingly trained by the government’s education system to deter these brave souls on the questionable moral basis of simply obeying the rules, no matter how unreasonable they may be.

What these well intentioned citizens fail to realize is that the rules make slaves of everyone.

Is it possible to live in a Nation State as if it did not exist?  It is as simple as changing and then using one’s mind.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

 

Key Indicators for June 4, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.34

Oil Price per Barrel:  $84.16

Corn Price per Bushel:  $5.68

10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.72%

FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,618

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25% AWAY WE GO!

Unemployment Rate:  8.2%

Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.0%

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 12,101

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,232,800,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $9,820,900,000,000

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part V – The Bitter End

9/1/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

With the markets relatively calm until the sparks fly later next week, we conclude our tale.  Our tale is, among other things, a recount of the recent history of Bank of America wrapped up in a vehicle metaphor:  “Ode to the Auto Feo,” originally inspired by the recent passing of a vehicle that taught us many valuable lessons.

You can catch up with the “Ode to the Auto Feo”, Parts I,II, III, and IV by clicking on the following links. 

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part I –  The Birth of a “Need”

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part II –Optimism and Desperation are Poor Bedfellows

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part III –Lemon Discovery

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part IV – Acceptance and Admiration

Our story continues:

After careful reflection, we could see that our reasons for adopting the fateful “gasoline only” policy in the Auto Feo were two-fold and that they reflected two of our character traits which, taken individually are admirable, yet when combined, can lead to terrible decision making.

The first and most obvious of these traits is frugality.  While we do not think of ourselves as especially frugal, we do tend to choose certain items or activities upon which to focus our frugality.  This focused frugality in and of itself can prove extremely useful where investments in proven strategies are concerned.

The second, perhaps less obvious, trait which was expressing itself in this decision was our sense of adventure.  This trait can prove extremely useful when there is something to be gained from the undertaking and adequate margin for error for the undertaking’s failure. 

The terrible decision, then, comes when we combine this sense of adventure, which, we repeat, requires ample margin for error, with our frugality which, by definition, does not provide for any margin of error.

Hence, in retrospect it was obvious that adopting the gasoline only policy in the case of the Auto Feo was a terrible decision.  The only thing to be gained was sheer entertainment value reaped by those unaffected by the decision, a group that you, fellow taxpayer, are happily a part of.

Now that we understand the motivation for such a decision, we offer you the inspiration.

We were inspired by the desire to avoid buying a quart of oil each week (frugality) and, by extension, to avoid further staining our driveway with oil spilled out of the engine block.  To accomplish this, we discovered (or perhaps imagined) an experiment that the military had conducted in which they had never put oil in new vehicles and had been able to rely on the resulting engine shavings caused by the friction to serve as a sort of permanent lubricant for the pistons as they slammed up and down in the engine block.

Now most sane persons and certainly those who are mechanically inclined will quickly realize that there is a big difference between our situation with a 17 year old vehicle which held two quarts of oil and the military who had new vehicles which had never been filled.  There was also a big difference in our respective circumstances.  The military could afford to lose a few vehicles to this sort of experiment.  We, on the other hand, would be walking if it did not pan out.

The experiment began with promising results.  The vehicle’s performance, which was not that great to begin with, deteriorated only slightly.  This did not concern us as.  After all, we only had 1.5 miles to drive each day.  We continued through rain and shine, confident that we were actually on the verge of improving the Auto Feo’s performance and significantly extending its useful life.

Like so many of today’s fiscal and monetary policies, the delusion of sustainability was to be, uh, sustained until the day it came to a catastrophic end.

Six more months passed and two things happened in quick succession.  One turned out to be an omen, while the other an illusory victory.

The omen appeared one late Spring evening when we came upon the Auto Feo in the parking garage on our return commute to find that the driver side window had been shattered and the vehicle’s contents, which consisted of a Bible and a pair of jumper cables, had been clumsily rifled through.  The thief took the jumper cables.

With the bi-annual emissions test that is required in Oregon just one week away, our frugality again kicked in and we resolved to use clear plastic and duct tape to temporarily replace our driver-side window until we could be sure that the vehicle would be cleared by the authorities to operate another two years.

Note to self:  If you need to cover a broken out window in a vehicle, make every attempt not to use opaque or transparent plastic.

We hobbled along for a week of near misses at intersections with limited visibility out of our driver’s side.  On a Saturday, we made the trek to Hillsboro to submit the Auto Feo to the automotive equivalent of a colonoscopy.

Arriving at the emissions testing center, we found ourselves apologizing unnecessarily for the condition of the vehicle and explaining that we wanted assurance that Oregon’s green gods would allow the vehicle to continue to operate on the roads of their realm.

“We wanted to see if it would pass before fixing the window,” we offered.

“Looks like its seen better days, let’s take a look,” said the attendant.

She was apparently unfazed by the appearance of the vehicle and we later thought that apart from these people, only body shops and junkyards see more pathetic looking vehicles on a regular basis.

We winced as we watched the attendant place the probe into the Auto Feo’s tailpipe and had to remind ourselves that it was not human.

“Looks like it failed,” said the attendant.  “But it did improve at 2,000 RPMs,”

“Can we give it another try?” we offered in a desperate last ditch effort to forestall the diagnosis.

“Why not?” said the attendant.

And then a miracle occurred.  The Auto Feo passed the emissions test.

We joyfully drove home and quickly arranged to have the driver’s side window replaced.  Our experiment was going swimmingly and the emissions test somehow validated our hypothesis.  The military was right, we are better off not adding oil to your vehicle!

The Bitter End - Rest in Peace Auto Feo

Our delusion, which was now government sanctioned, was allowed to carry on.

Astute readers will quickly draw a parallel between our Auto Feo tale and Bank of America and the current banking system in general:  Our emissions test is a metaphor for the so-called stress tests that have been run on the banks in America and Europe in an attempt to shore up confidence.

When will these delusions end?

In the case of the Auto Feo, two short months after the government sanctioned emissions test gave it the green light, we were forced to make a journey farther than our normal 1.5 mile daily jaunt.

Through knocks, heaves, and roars, the Auto Feo dutifully carried us on our route until, a mere .5 miles from home, the Auto Feo froze up.

We feared the worst but in our optimism we had the vehicle towed to our house.  We waited for the morning.

The next morning, it started!  This truly was a miracle.

Alas, the miracle was that the Auto Feo was simply saying goodbye.  For in the evening, when we jumped in to drive it home, the Auto Feo did not immediately respond.  A brief heave was all it could muster as we cranked the starter.  And then, all was silent. 

Our experiment was a failure, the Auto Feo had passed on.

Bank of America has been in the news a lot lately, and for all the wrong reasons.  The behemoth is too big to succeed and for every client that is making money, there seem to be two or three who are going bankrupt, leaving B of A to foot the bill.

Although management will never admit it, the Bank is now throwing Hail Marys late in the fourth quarter in a desperate attempt to raise capital.  While this is exciting to watch, you probably don’t want to put your money on the team who has resorted to such a desperation tactic.

Returning for one last, painful look at our automobile metaphor, It appears that the FED has decided not to change the oil (i.e. replace member banks’ worthless assets for fresh cash) and the banks will be left to lubricate their engines with the metal shavings as its worthless assets disintegrate on the balance sheet.

How long until B of A seizes up?

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for September 1, 2011

Copper Price per Lb: $4.15
Oil Price per Barrel:  $88.71

Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.29  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.15%

FED Target Rate:  0.08%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,825 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  2.00%
Unemployment Rate:  9.1%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.5%!!!   UP 0.7% IN ONE MONTH, 8.4% ANNUALLY AT THIS PACE!!!
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  11,494  TO THE MOON!!!

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,108,800,000,000 RED ALERT!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,473,600,000,000 YIKES!!!!!!!

Signs of life at the Harlow Block – The Bat

image

These days a stroll by the Harlow Block at the corner of NW Glisan and 8th is like turning the pages of a scary childrens book.

Painted wooden forms grace the
plywood canvas that too long has defined the facade of this overlooked gem in the Pearl.

The first page features a bat which lets the reader know that this unique display of urban art will follow a nocturnal theme.

“Gone” Breathes Life into the U.S. Custom House Block

The U.S. Custom House has sat magnificently vacant since its last tenant, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, vacated it nearly five years ago.

This grand old building, which graces the block surrounded by NW Broadway, Park, Davis and Everett streets, was declared unfit for service.  Ironically, the very thing that makes the building magnificent, its timeless masonry, makes it especially vulnerable to an earthquake.

The U.S. Custom House is a beautiful example of Italian Renaissance Revival style of architecture.  It was built in 1897 by the architect Edgar M. Lazarus and was beautifully restored in 1992.  Since May of 2010, the Federal Government has been searching for a buyer for this gem in the pearl.  While the building initially allures would be buyers with its stately exterior, up until now none has been able to stomach the roughly $10 million estimated cost of retrofitting it to withstand an earthquake.

And so it sits, a beautiful, lonely museum piece.

The musuem was brought to life one year later.  During the month of May 2011, the normally stoic U.S. Custom House became the center of a flurry of activity.

First came the cables, which began to across the sidewalks,up the walls, and into the windows of the Custom House from all sides.  Next, the lights, generators, and scaffolding were installed.  Was the long awaited retrofit about to begin?

Then appeared the costume trucks and the catering vans.  Lights, camera, action!  The set of “Gone“, a thriller written by Allison Burnett, directed by Heitor Dhalia, and starring Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Carpenter and Wes Bentley, had taken shape right under the nose of the inhabitants of Old Town China Town.

Action on the set of "Gone" filmed at the U.S. Custom House

When the last of the cast a crew support vehicles took their familiar places at NW Sixth and Davis, the suspicions were confirmed.  The U.S. Custom House was to be a star on the silver screen.  The month of May saw countless extras roaming the streets of Old Town and generally breathing much needed life into the neighborhood.

Then, as quickly as they had appeared, the support vehicles pulled away, the power cables slithered out of the building and the booms were put away.  “Gone” was…gone.

Do not despair!  “Gone” is set to give chills to audiences across the nation in February of 2012.  Will one of those viewers, upon seeing this Gem in the Pearl, have the vision to transform the U.S. Custom House from dormancy into a functional, modern, and vibrant space?

Da Tung & Xi’an Bao Bao

image

Da Tung & Xi’an Bao Bao which is loosely translated as “Universal Peace & a Baby Elephant” stands in the middle of the park block at Burnside & 8th avenues in Downtown Portland, Oregon.

The statue, dedicated in 2002, is a 16:1 scale replica of a wine pitcher dated from the Shang Dynasty.

The baby elephant riding peacefully on its Father’s back is a symbol of a prosperous offspring.

Bill Bonner of the Daily Reckoning has been writing recently about a concept that He calls “Compound effort over time” which you can read here:

http://dailyreckoning.com/compound-effort-over-time/

and a follow up piece He calls “Generations of Wealth” here:

http://dailyreckoning.com/generations-of-wealth/

At The Mint, we love the concept and think this statue captures the concept in a delightful imagery.

Who can argue with baby elephants?