San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ferguson Vs. Cleveland

Racism is alive and well in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  And no, I do not mean what you think I mean.  Or maybe I do mean what you think I mean if what you think I mean is based upon a contrarian's perspective.  I tell you what, let me simplify things and tell you what I mean.  We live in a land in which racism dominates the thoughts of one particular group.  Despite the fact that any objective analysis of race relations in this country would force a disinterested person to conclude that there is little to no racism against blacks by whites, the blacks in this land continue to believe that there is an enormous racial bias against them.  They believe that whitey continues to hold them down but they are dead wrong.  The simple fact of the matter is that the only real racism that exists today is that which blacks hold for whites.  The illustration of the cities of Ferguson and Cleveland serves as a perfect example of this truth. 
Butler Shaffer wrote a blog piece yesterday in which he said this, "From a statist perspective, Brown’s killing confirms that categories of people grounded in race, religion, gender, lifestyle, economic interests, and numerous other abstract divisions, define humanity, and make social conflict an inescapable outcome of human nature. 'White man kills black man' is a sufficient statement of fact to reinforce racial explanations of violence. When a white man kills another white, or a black man kills another black, the stories will be reported – if, indeed, at all – on page 12 of your local newspaper. Neither CNN, Fox News, the NYT, WSJ, nor other loyal tribunes of the established order will devote coverage to what is an equally devastating tragedy as that experienced by Michael Brown’s family. White police officers do kill or torture white people without much attention devoted to the fact. If you doubt this, read some of Will Grigg’s thoroughly documented – often with video of the attacks – reports....What if events in Ferguson had begun with a report that 'state employee shoots and kills young man'?"  Find his article here.
Of course the reports from Ferguson did not start with the headline "state employee shoots and kills young man."  The stories all began with the headline "white cop kills young black man."  The mere fact that the reporters believed it necessary to detail the race of the people involved in the fatal altercation tells us a lot about the mindset that dominates the citizens of this sorrowful land.  The predominant reaction to the initial news out of Ferguson also illustrates the racial realities in this country.  For the most part the white cop was indicted, tried and found guilty of a brutal and senseless murder of a noble young black male.  This was the case before any of the facts of the case were examined.  Indeed, the facts of the case themselves betray an amazing racial bias.
In an article in the Denver Post today, entitled "Grand deviations," the story is told of just how much the various eye-witness testimonies differed from one another.  "Some witnesses said Michael Brown had been shot in the back.  Another said he was face down on the ground when Officer Darren Wilson 'finished him off'....An examination of the grand jury documents reveals numerous examples of statements made during the shooting investigation that were inconsistent, fabricated or provably wrong."  The fact that eye-witness testimony can differ is not the point I am making here. What is missing from the quotation above?  What is missing is the race of the eye-witnesses.  It was abundantly clear from the evidence presented to the grand jury that much, if not most, of the eye-witness testimony was full of lies.  It is also the case that the eye-witnesses were black.  Why does the report not detail that fact?  Do you believe for one second that if the eye-witnesses had been white that point would have been left out of the story?  Neither do I.
What is my point?  Am I being a racist because I am now accusing black people of lying?  I have already admitted to being a racist here and here, so feel free to jump on that bandwagon if you wish.  The reason I point this out is because there are precious few of us willing to declare that the emperor is wearing no clothes.  Most blacks, and a significant percentage of whites, have colluded together to create the perspective that white racism still exists, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.  Every news report, as Butler Shafer pointed out, is written from that perspective.  Race is mentioned only when it casts whites in a bad light.  If blacks commit a crime the race of the criminal is ignored.  If blacks commit a clearly racist crime against whites the race of the perpetrators is consciously suppressed.  Read this post about a criminal case in Denver that dramatically proves my point.  On those relatively rare occasions when a white person commits a crime against a black person it immediately becomes national news, Al Sharpton races to the scene to give interviews and everyone nods their heads in agreement that white folks are racist.
There is no better example of what I am writing about than what happened this week. Everyone knows about Ferguson.  We have had 24/7 news coverage of the event and associated non-events.  But who knows about Cleveland?  A tiny one paragraph story buried in the back pages of the Denver Post yesterday told the story of the tragic shooting of a young white male by a cop.  A twelve year old boy was playing in a local park with a pellet gun.  Some government worshiping adults who were present in the park saw the boy and panicked.  Being well indoctrinated in the belief that government is our beneficent protector and feeling incredibly threatened by a twelve year old boy with a pellet gun, they immediately dialed 911.  Here is how the article described the confrontation of the innocent white boy and the white cops who shot him, "A boy carrying a pellet gun was ordered three times to show his hands before he was fatally shot by an officer...The boy was shot within two seconds of the cruiser pulling up next to him..."  So let me get this straight.  A kid playing with his BB gun in a local park, which all boys in my generation have done hundreds of times, is confronted by two armed cops who order him three times to "show his hands", all in the span of just two seconds, prior to being gunned down.  I think that fairly summarizes the situation.
Now let me ask you some questions.  What do you think would have been the media response if the boy had been black and the cops had been white?  We already know the answer to that question.  Ferguson is the answer.  But the boy in Cleveland was white.  Did you notice how the highly biased report about the killing was written?  It began with the phrase "the boy".  It did not begin with "the white boy."  Why not?  If it is important to declare the race of the boy killed in Ferguson why is it not also important to tell the race of the boy killed in Cleveland?  Answer:  because the Cleveland victim is white and whites do not matter because they do not reinforce the racial stereotype of white racism.
Enormous amounts of financial and political capital has been invested in perpetuating the erroneous doctrine of white racism.  Although I do not appreciate her arrogance and unnecessarily antagonistic style, Ann Coulter's book on racism forcefully and persuasively concludes that white racism no longer exists.  Read the book if you want to be brought up to speed on racism in Amerika.  There is plenty of racism still in this immoral land.  But is not of the type you would expect. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Help Me! I Am Mentally Ill

What I am about to write will not come as a surprise to the two or three people who read this blog on a regular basis.  Still, it has to be said.  Help me, I am mentally ill!  Don't just take my word for it.  After all, if I am mentally ill you can't believe anything I write.  Take the word of the omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent federal government, blessed be its name forever, when I tell you that I have serious mental problems.  In yesterday's post to this blog I included a link to a Wikipedia webpage that contains the list of mental maladies officially recognized by the government sponsored and controlled mental health care industry.  If you want to see the list go here.  I took some time to go through the list the other day and to my shock and dismay I discovered that a great number of them are accurate descriptions of me and my life.  I don't know if what I am writing here today is a clandestine call for help or a shameless act of self promotion but without further ado I provide you with a partial list of my many mental illnesses.  Incidentally, all of the sentences in quotations below are taken from the official description of the mental illness in question. 
  1. I suffer from Adjustment Disorder.  "Adjustment disorder occurs when an individual is unable to adjust to or cope with a particular stressor, like a major life event."  I have been trying to break 90 on the golf course for all my life.  No matter how hard I try I inevitably have a hole on which I shoot a 10 or 11 and thus destroy my opportunity to break 90.  What is my reaction to the wasted hole?  I throw clubs, punch the ground with clubs and utter unutterable curses involving camels, warthogs and various elements from the Periodic Chart of the Elements.  No matter how hard I try I cannot control myself.  Now I am pleased to discover that my behavior is not bad etiquette at all, it is a mental illness.  I should not be asked by the course marshals to leave the course, as has happened so many times, but I should be whisked to the hospital for some emergency conversation therapy. 
  2. I suffer from Anxiety Disorder.  "Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear, where anxiety is a worry about future events and fear is a reaction to current events.  These feelings may cause physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and shakiness."  I can't begin to tell you how many times my heart has raced and my hands have shaken.  I am worried about what is going to happen when Hillary is elected to be the first Queen of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  I am worried about what might happen if another white cop shoots another black male.  Along with the rest of the citizens of the SDA, I live in mortal terror of the expected next terrorist attack on our land.  Just writing about these things is making my hands start to shake.  Up until today I thought I was just being paranoid (a mental illness I thought I had but apparently do not) but now I realize I just have AD.  Wow, that is a relief!
  3. I suffer from Binge Eating Disorder.  "Binge Eating Disorder is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating without subsequent purging episodes."  BED hits my nail on the head.  I have shared many times with readers of this blog my ongoing battle with cake.  I have been known to eat enormous amounts of cake at one sitting, and I never purge, whatever that means.  After such events I always wake up the next day with a cake hangover.  Despite what my binge eating is doing to my family I continue to do it.  Indeed, I am planning on binge eating again today. I will be doing that in the presence of many family members.  Up until today I just thought I was a glutton.  Now I know it is not my fault.  I suffer from BED and I cannot and will not be held responsible for what I do at Thanksgiving dinner today.
  4. I suffer from Caffeine Related Disorder.  I have written about this disorder before.  Go here for the post.  I had consumed a grand total of two or three cups of coffee throughout my entire life prior to January 1st of this year.  Then, on a whim, I decided to take up drinking coffee.  I am now a full blown coffee addict.  If I don't get my coffee in the morning I become irritable and short with the people I am around.  Previously I thought I was just guilty of the twin sins of rudeness and selfishness but now that I am a coffee drinker I know that I suffer from the mental illness of CRD.  So don't blame me if I yell at you tomorrow.  In fact, you need to accommodate my mental illness. Stop stigmatizing me!  Man, I sure could use a cup of coffee right now.
  5. I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  "Generalized anxiety disorder is a neurological anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry.  Individuals suffering from GAD typically anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death or work problems."  I need to tell you that I am having a hard time writing this blog post today.  I noticed a mole on my leg yesterday and I think it is cancer.  Tomorrow's post to this blog will probably be my last.  Oh my, I wonder how I am going to pay for my cancer treatments?  I need to make an appointment to see my doctor but I am afraid I will be killed in a car crash on my way to his office.  Oh well, what have I got to loose?  My janitorial business is probably going to go bankrupt anyway.  Goodbye cruel world. 
  6. I suffer from Grandiose Delusions.  "GDs are characterized by fantastical beliefs that one is famous, omnipotent, wealthy or otherwise very powerful."  This is probably the hardest mental illness for me to confess.  It shouldn't be however.  I am the most humble person I know.  This should be easy for me.  In fact, now that I think about it, it is easy for me.   Everything is easy for me because I am so powerful and great.  Have I told you how well my janitorial business is doing?  I am rich beyond my wildest dreams.  Well, I need to wrap this post up.  Peyton Manning called and I need to call him back.  He wants some advice for this week's game.
  7. I suffer from Histrionic Personality Disorder.  "Histrionic personality disorder is defined as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive attention-seeking emotions, usually beginning in early adulthood, including inappropriately seductive behavior and an excessive need for approval.  Histrionic people are lively, dramatic, vivacious, enthusiastic, and flirtatious."  My ears are burning.  Is someone writing about me?  Except for the part about being seductive and flirtatious this mental illness description could have been written just for me.  I live among Yuppies and I drink Michelob Ultra.  I am, by definition, lively, dramatic, vivacious and enthusiastic.  So is everyone I know.  If I am mentally ill, and I suspect that I am, so is everyone I know.  Here is an enthusiastic thumbs up to our mental illnesses!
  8. I suffer from Malingering.  "Malingering is fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders for a variety of motives.  Such motives may include financial compensation, avoiding school, work or military service, obtaining drugs, or simply to attract attention or sympathy."    Is there anyone in the world who does not suffer from this mental illness at one point or another?  I can't think of anyone.  Most pathetic married males who come down with the slightest illness are experts at this mental illness.  We moan and groan and expect our wives to cater to our every whim.  Before this behavior became a government sanctioned mental illness we used to call it being lazy and selfish.  We used to tell people who behaved this way to stop being so dramatic and get a life.  Now we all know that these people are really victims of a mental disease over which they have no control.  All of the advice we used to give these people is now known to be the act of stigmatizing an innocent victim.  My how things have changed now that our intellectual and moral superiors in government are in control.
  9. I suffer from Ludomania.  "Ludomania is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop."  I bet you most people suffer from this mental illness.  If you don't want to take that bet straight up I will sweeten the pot and give you odds on it.  I usually end up in Las Vegas at least once a year.  When I am there I have a ritualistic pattern that I follow.  I take a $20 bill and put it into a Wheel of Fortune slot machine.  I then hit the "spin" button as many times as I can, as quickly as I can.  I time how long it takes for me to lose the $20.  My record is 3:12.  It hurts me to lose the $20 that I could have given to my wife or donated to the church.  I wish I could stop but I can't.  I am a victim of ludomania.  Please have compassion upon me and stop stigmatizing me for my behavior.
  10. I suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. "Social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder.  It is characterized by intense fear in one or more social situations, causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some parts of daily life."  I used to think it was normal to be afraid to speak in front of a group.  I certainly did not think I was mentally ill just because my hands would shake and my voice would crack when I spoke to a  group of people.  Most people I know say that they are afraid of speaking in public.  Little did we all know that we are all desperately mentally ill.  What we have traditionally considered to be simply a normal part of everyday life is now revealed to be a mental illness that requires treatment by a government approved agent of the mental health monopoly. Quick, rush us all into conversation therapy.
The ten mental illness I suffer from that I have listed above are just a small percentage of the total number of mental illnesses I have.  Look at the list of mental illnesses and see how many you have.  It's fun.  You will learn a lot about yourself.  Most importantly you will learn that you are responsible for nothing, you are perpetually a victim of outside circumstances and other people and others need to change their behavior to accommodate you.  You will also discover that you are quickly transferring your wealth from your pocket to the pocket of a government approved agent of the mental health industry.   I guess we have to pay some price for absolution from our sins. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Myth Of Mental Illness

I wrote yesterday about my recent adventure at a $200/plate dinner sponsored by a mental health political lobbying group.  What I did not mention yesterday is that the very next day the Denver Post began a four part series on mental health in Colorado.  It made the front page of the Sunday edition.  The story told me how Colorado citizens have to be willing to pay more money to help the mentally ill.  It told me how my taxes need to be raised to take care of the mentally ill and set them back on the pathway to mental health.  It told me how "investing" in mental health care, via higher taxes, would end up saving money down the road as the hoards of mentally ill people suddenly become productive tax paying members of society.  How timely, I thought to myself.  It also made me very angry.  Let me tell you why.
Mental illness is a myth.  You read that right, there is no such thing as mental illness.  Mental illness is nothing more than an idea that allows government certified caretakers to make money from the gullible citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  It is also a means by which an entire state approved religion has been able to establish itself.  That religion has since then been exploited by the legal monopoly and its droves of greedy, immoral lawyers in order to avoid justice and enrich themselves. 
Let me make it clear at the outset that I am not denying the validity of physical disorders that affect the brain.  Alzheimer's is a disease of the brain. It is organic in nature.  It can be seen in an x-ray.  It is believed to have a possible cure that involves actual treatment of brain tissue.  Alzheimer's disease is on the list of official mental illnesses but it is not a mental illness, it is a physical illness. Go here for a list of official mental illnesses.  Take a look at the list.  What is on there might surprise you.
When I say that mental illness is a myth I am referring to that long list of behaviors that are not the result of an organic disease in the brain but which simply are examples of human choices.  Here is a key way to tell the difference between a real physical illness and a mythical mental illness...how is the illness treated?  If an illness is diagnosed as a part of a physical exam and treated with actual physical measures like surgery and drug therapy we can be reasonably sure we are dealing with a real illness.  On the other hand, if the illness is diagnosed by observing your behavior and is treated by talking to you about your relationship with your mother, we can be reasonably sure it is a mythological illness.  Although doctors might debate whether the symptoms of a fever and headache are caused by Virus A1 or A2, they agree that it is caused by a virus.  When doctors debate which bacterium might be responsible for a lung infection, they still agree that the infection is caused by a bacterium.  No doctor suggests that the proper treatment for your viral or bacterial infection is an appointment with a government certified conversation specialist to talk about your feelings.  When it comes to mental illness, however, everything suddenly changes.
James Holmes is the man who walked into an Aurora theater on July 20, 2012 and killed 12 people.  The prosecutor in his case has announced that he is seeking the death penalty.  The only way for Holmes to avoid the death penalty, if he is found guilty, is to prove that he was mentally ill at the time he killed those 12 people.  It has been two and a half years since the murders.  So much for his constitutional right to a speedy trial.  In that time six highly compensated mental health professionals have examined Holmes and they are still unable to decide if he was mentally ill or not.  All six mental health doctors are set to testify at his trial.  Some will say he was mentally ill.  Others will say that he was not.  Some will say he was insane at the time he pulled the trigger.  Others will say that he was not.  They will also disagree in regards to his sanity today.  Could you imagine the same thing occurring if Holmes had had cancer or some other real illness at the time he pulled the trigger?  There would be no debate, either he had cancer or he did not.  All the physical health professionals need to do is look at the x-rays and it is obvious whether the patient has cancer or not.  But when it comes to mental illness, all bets are off.  Even the most skilled practitioners of the mental health profession are incapable of rendering a simple diagnosis about a patient. After two and a half years of continuous examinations these doctors still can't even make a simple diagnosis about Holmes' sanity.  What does that tell us about the profession?
I have always been amazed at how mental illnesses only seem to strike certain groups of people.  Unlike a cold virus or a bacterial infection, which strike all people without discrimination, whatever it is that causes mental illnesses seems to target people based upon their socioeconomic status.   For example, bulimia is an official mental illness.  Please explain to me why bulimia only exists in wealthy, white teen age girls?  Even more, please explain to me why bulimia does not exist in any country in the world that has third world status?  The same is true for anorexia.  The same is true for all of those teen age girls that draw attention to themselves by cutting their skin.  The same is true for a  lot of what is called mental illness.  Furthermore, why was nobody ever known to suffer from the mental illnesses of bulimia, anorexia or cutting themselves during the Great Depression in our country?  It sure seems to me that these things the government classifies as mental illness are really nothing more than choices being made by spoiled little rich kids with too much time on their hands and an acute sense of selfishness. 
Also take notice that mental illness is the only form of illness that grants its victim a free pass to sin.  If I have a nasty cold I might display an irascible attitude for a couple of days and, if I did, you would be quite right to rebuke me for my attitude and exhort me to "man up" and stop behaving like a selfish jerk who thinks the world should revolve around him.   Nobody would accuse you of telling me to do something I am not capable of doing nor would anyone be willing to say that my sinful behavior was justified because I had a cold.  People who suffer from physical disease do not get a free pass when it comes to their sinful behavior.  The mentally ill, on the other hand, are not only given a free pass for their sinful behavior, we are told that they are forced to engage in their sinful behavior against their will, and all because they are the victims of a mental illness.  Imagine the ridicule a lawyer would suffer if he attempted to argue that his client's gout was responsible for the fact he beat up his wife.  No jury would buy that argument.  But change a word or two and claim that his client's mental illness was responsible for the fact that he beat up his wife and he has a good chance of getting him off. 
How can something be classified as an illness when the objective standard for its diagnosis is exclusively behavioral and the objective standard for its treatment is conversation therapy?  The entire concept of mental illness is utter nonsense.  Some people behave differently than others. It does not follow that my different behavior is the result of a compelling force in my brain that is driving me to behave, against my will, in a fashion you do not approve of.  It does not follow that I am really crying out to you to help me stop behaving the way I am behaving.  Quite the contrary, I am behaving the way I am behaving because it is giving me exactly what I want.  Universally ignored by mental health specialists is the fact that people make choices about how they behave and those choices are based upon each person's attempt to get a particular outcome.  I decide to start starving myself, a condition called the mental illness of anorexia, because it garners me a lot of attention.  I become the center of the world.  Everyone is talking about me.  Plus, I get the added benefit of being able to justify being angry, selfish and mean spirited just because I suffer from a mental illness.  I am anorexic.  Just remember, it is not me that is talking, it is the anorexia that is possessing my brain.  I wish I could stop it but, just like the steady progression of a cancerous tumor, there is nothing I can do about it.  To tell me to stop engaging in the practice of anorexia stigmatizes me and ignores the fact that I am the victim of a mental illness over which I have no control. 
And what is the treatment for my anorexia?  Conversation therapy of course.  Conversation therapy will consist of a highly compensated mental health professional telling me everything I ever wanted to hear about myself and my status in life.  It is not my fault I did poorly in school.  It was my parents fault.  It is not my fault I can't hold a job for more than a couple of months. Because my parents failed to practice attachment parenting I am living in a mental health hell that does not permit me to work well with others.  They didn't love me the way I wanted and needed them to and now I have caught anorexia in my brain.  My anorexia can be fixed once a highly compensated and government certified mental health professional helps me to  realize that all of my sinful behaviors are someone else's fault.  Once I realize I am a victim of my parent's hateful behavior I am freed from my mental illness.  It will take a long time and a lot of money but if I really want to change I can. Can you imagine a doctor telling a victim of heart disease that if he is willing to spend years talking about his feelings and if he really wants to change his heart disease can be cured?   Mental health diagnoses and treatments are no more related to real medical care than I am related to King Obama.  
I once asked a fellow who worked, not as a doctor, in a mental health ward about how many of the patients incarcerated there actually suffered from a physical disorder of the brain.  His answer was interesting.  As far as he could tell none of the patients actually had a brain disorder.  He described how they all had become creatively adept at gaming the mental health system in order to obtain three square meals and a cot.  When the doctors are away they behave as normal individuals, albeit with some behaviors most people would consider to be uncivilized or anti-social, but when the doctors show up the games begin.  The doctors find what they are looking for and the patients provide them with they want.  Everyone gets paid and the taxpayers foot the bill.  It is the perfect system.  All of this explains, by the way, why I did not make a donation to the mental health lobbying institution that gave me a delicious $200/plate dinner last weekend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Adventure At A $200/Plate Dinner

I was invited to attend a fancy dinner sponsored by a local mental health lobbying organization last weekend.  Under normal circumstances I would never have darkened the doorway of such a group.  I despise political lobbying groups and I do not believe in the religion of mental illness.  But this was not a normal set of circumstances.  The invitation came from a very generous man who offered to pay for my price of admission.  My interest was perked.  I have never attended one of those $200/plate functions (I don't really know how much my plate cost and I certainly didn't ask) and I thought it would be interesting.  I shook the dust off my old suit, put on a tie and headed off, with my wife, to the function.
The event was held in a fancy downtown Denver hotel.  I had to pay $14 just to park my beat up old car in the parking lot across the street from the hotel.  It was a cold and windy night and I was unwilling to abuse my wife by making her walk a mile or two just to save some money on parking.  I paid the fee without grumbling, after all it is the free market in operation (sort of...but that is another post), and we entered the meeting hall.
We were immediately surrounded by a bunch of very fancy people.  As you know, I have moved to a Yuppie neighborhood recently and  am still dealing with the shock of living among them.  Most of my adult life has been spent living in close proximity to people who have either done time in prison or should have done time in prison.  Living in Yuppiedom has been a shock.  This event was even more shocking.  I wasn't in Yuppiedom anymore.  I was rubbing elbows with the really rich.  These people did not walk, talk, act or dress anything like Yuppies.  This was old money and this was big money.  These people were connected to other powerful people.  The smell of political power was in the air.  I was intrigued.
I had looked on the internet prior to going to the event to try and figure out the proper thing to wear.  I had ended up wearing a dark blue, pin-stripe suit.  The first thing I noticed was that everyone was wearing black.  The website I had investigated had specifically said not to wear black, unless I was a priest.  Not being a priest I took its advice.  Let me assure you, the advice was wrong.  Really powerful people wear black to functions like this.  I made a mental note to wear black the next time.  This was the first time I have attended an event wearing a suit and still ended up feeling under dressed.  No matter, the people, most of whom were my age or older, were all very friendly, once again proving that the rich aren't anything like me.  My wife and I were made to feel right at home.
Everything began with a silent auction for a bunch of items I would never buy even if I were rich.  The proceeds were all to benefit the mental health lobby group that was sponsoring the shindig.  When I arrived a very nice lady asked me if I wanted to open my credit card so I could more easily participate in the silent auction.  I politely declined.  A football signed by John Elway was carrying a recommended first bid of $400.  That is a bit rich for a janitor's blood.  Other items included things like face lifts, mud baths at day spas and fancy vacations to resorts that would not even let me work there as a janitor.  It was all quite interesting.  I suspect the mental health lobby group made a lot of money on the silent auction.
After an hour or so of sipping rum and coke we were invited into the dining hall.  That is where I expected the real shakedown would take place.  We sat at a table with our patron and my wife and I were happy to see it was near the back of the room, just in case we needed to make a stealthy getaway.  Our patron who had purchased the table also jokingly commented that the amount he had paid for the table was what was responsible for putting us near the back.  We shared a laugh.  This man is a member of the top 1% and he has been amazingly generous with us over the years.  Go here for a tale of our adventure in his Bronco's luxury booth.  We settled into our chairs and prepared for the pitch.
The meeting began with some speaker informing us that Governor Hickenlooper extended his greetings to us.  I concluded that Hickenlooper had received some money from this lobby and he was letting them know that he appreciated it...at least a little bit.  Apparently he did not get enough money to make it worth his time to make a personal appearance.  Regardless, I felt so pleased that the governor took the time to extend his greetings to me through an aide. It warmed my heart almost as much as the multitude of delicious items that I found in my salad, none of which I had any idea what they were, but that went down nicely as I consumed them.  I made a mental note to Google "fancy dinner salads" to find out what I had just eaten. 
The next person to take the podium was the head of the organization.  I have already forgotten the name of the group and I certainly can't remember his name.  He spent a lot of time thanking a lot of people while I consumed my perfectly grilled filet Mignon.  I guess you have to do that when you make your living begging for money to use for lobbying career politicians to enact legislation favorable to your cause.  I thought he would never stop talking but eventually he introduced the key-note speaker.  The speaker for the evening was a fellow who has mental illness in his family and who has been mentally ill himself in the past, or at least that is what he told us.  He has written a book and most of the folks in attendance seemed to know him.  I took another sip of fine wine and settled in to listen to his motivational speech.
He told a tale of woe about how state and local governments are horribly underfunded when it comes to treating mental illness.  He said that Colorado is sort of okay when it comes to treating 4th Stage mental illness, whatever that is, but terribly unprepared to treat 1st, 2nd and 3rd Stage mental illness, whatever those happen to be.  He informed us that we need to get career politicians to enact legislation and appropriate funds from taxpayers so we can have a complete state-wide system of mental illness first aid providers, whatever that would look like.  He told us that it was because of our financial support that they had been able to lobby some legislators and at least get a hearing for their cause but that they would need much more money to reach the lofty goal of universal mental health care for all.  I had to suppress the urge to shout him down.  Fortunately I had some fancy type of desert sitting in front of me and I was enjoying it too much to complain.  He finally finished his speech.
The servants poured us some after dinner coffee while we prepared for the final event of the evening....a live auction.  I have been to auctions before but never one quite like this.  The auctions I have attended were to buy things like used automobiles and pigs.  I have never been to an auction where a wide variety of useless luxury items were on the block and the purpose of the auction was too pay too much for them.  What an event it turned out to be.  I wish I could remember everything that was sold but the only one that sticks in my mind today was a signed Peyton Manning jersey that went for $3,500.
After all of the trinkets were sold off the auctioneer proceeded to simply beg for funds.  He started at $50,000 and asked who would like to donate that much.  The patrons all looked at each other, sizing up the field I suspect, and started to raise their bidding cards.  The auctioneer worked his way all the way down to $1000 before the begging stopped.  I have no idea how much money was raised but it was a lot.
After the auction the emcee announced that a band made up of mentally ill people was going to play and we were free to get up and dance.  As much as I would have liked to cut up the rug with my bride, that was our cue to get out the back door.  We made a hurried exit.  As we were leaving I could not help but think about how much money was raised.  I wondered to myself....what would happen if that money had actually been given to the people who are involved in providing the mental health care rather than given to lobbyists seeking to get career politicians to enact legislation designed to forcibly extract money from me to pay for the mental health care of someone I do not know and do not care about?  I didn't think about that long however.  I knew enough to know that it would never happen and it was cold outside.  We hurried to our car and set off for home in Yuppiedom.

Update:  November 26, 2014

I didn't realize it but Emily Post was also present at the dinner.  She sent me a private email today informing me about the contents of the dinner salad.  Here is the text of her message:

"Dear Mr. Welshman,
            If you are going to continue to write about genteel events, I feel it is my duty to attempt to educate you so that you don’t embarrass yourself by loudly trumpeting your ignorance.  I, too, attended the dinner.  The salad was composed of the following ingredients: The greens base consisted of frisee, radicchio, escarole, and tatsoi.  The greens were topped with Gardener’s Delight and Amish Paste heirloom tomatoes, Hen of the Woods and enoki mushrooms, marinated hearts of palm, and artichoke hearts.  The lovely proteins at the top of heap were baby octopus tentacles, pate en terrine, and beluga sturgeon caviar.  Please do spend some time researching fine dining web sites so that you do not find yourself at such a disadvantage should you feel compelled to comment on any future epicurean escapades.

Have a lovely day,
Emily Post"

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Real Inflation Rate

Most people believe that inflation describes the fact that prices for things they like to purchase seem to constantly go up.  Although it is not true that prices for all goods and services generally rise, it is the case that the price level for a basket of goods and services generally rises.  In fact, in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika, the price for a basket of goods always rises.  The fact that prices rise however, is not inflation.  Milton Freidman famously said that "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon."  By that he meant that inflation needs to be measured monetarily and not by the rise or decline of general price levels.
The government, being omniscient and omnipotent, praised be its name forever and ever, keeps statistics about inflation.  Like most people the government ignores the fact that inflation is most accurately measured by monetary indices and those in government responsible for reporting on inflation resort to the old price for a basket of goods scenario.  The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, is supposed to measure how much prices rise for the average citizen of the SDA.  This link will take you to a graph that shows the compounded annual rate of change for the CPI over the past thirty years.  According to the graph the SDA has experienced inflation in 29 of the past 30 years.  The lone exception was during the Great Recession when the SDA experienced a deflation rate of 2.8%.  The highest rate of inflation, according to the CPI, was in 1986 when we saw prices rise by an average of 6.2%.  In general, inflation has averaged around 3%/yr for the past thirty years.  At a 3% annual inflation rate the price of something will double ever 24 years.  Conversely, the value of the currency purchasing that good will halve every 24 years.
Most people do not believe the government when it tells us that inflation has averaged around 3%/year for the past thirty years.  In most people's experience inflation is much higher than that.  I don't know about most people's experience however.  It seems to me that most people tend to exaggerate those things that go up in price and completely ignore those things that go down.  People generally get all bent out of shape when gasoline goes over $4 a gallon but can't remember when a hand held calculator that could perform only basic mathematical functions cost more than a sophisticated laptop computer does today.  Memory is selective that way.  I tend to think the government gets it right when it comes to the CPI.
When I acknowledge that the CPI probably comes close to estimating the actual rise in the price of goods and services I do not mean to say that government accurately tells us about the real rate of inflation. This is because inflation is not the general rise in the price of things.  As Milton told us, inflation is always a monetary phenomenon.  And this is where things get interesting.
This link will take you to a graph that shows the percent change from one year previous for M2.  M2 is a measure of all of the money that circulates in the SDA at any given time.  It is another government statistic and like all government statistics it is subject to error but it is the best measure we have at our disposal.  The graph runs for just about the same period of time as the one you looked at for the CPI.  Notice, however, that the rate of increase in M2 is considerably higher than the rate of increase of the CPI.  For example, in 1986 when the CPI recorded a 6.2% rise, the increase in the supply of money was around 9% for the year.  In late 2001 the money supply was increasing at an annualized rate of over 10%.  And, although the CPI is reported rising about 2.5% today, the M2 rate of increase is currently more than double that rate at 5.3%.  Over the past 30 years the rate of increase in M2 has averaged about 7%/year, considerably more than the 3% rate for the CPI.
Now, if the amount of money that is being used to purchase all goods and services in the SDA rises and if the total amount of goods and services available for purchase remains the same, the value of each dollar will decline by the exact percentage increase in dollars.  In other words, a 7% rate of monetary expansion will bring about a 7% decline in the value of the dollar.  And yet over the past 30 years we have not seen a 7% annual decline in the value of the dollar.  The rate of decline is about half that.  What is happening here?
The answer is simple.  The dollar is not depreciating as quickly as it would or should because profit seeking businesses are producing an ever increasing body of goods and services.  Even more, as those profit seeking businesses produce more goods and services they also increase productivity which has the net effect of lowering prices and strengthening the value of the dollar.  If the money supply were set at one level and kept there we would all experience the wonderful reality of deflation.  Despite what you have heard, deflation is a good thing.  It means that the dollar is gaining value every day.  As prices drop and the dollar strengthens everyone who holds dollars becomes better off.  But the Federal Reserve will not allow that to happen so they continually inflate the money supply.
So if deflation is a good thing for the economy, why does the federal government and the central bank continually tell us that it is bad and, to make matters worse, continually inflate the money supply?  The answer to that is simple.  The Federal Reserve is the federal government's personal bank.  When the government wants to spend money it does not have and when career politicians are fearful of raising taxes because doing so might cost them their jobs, they go to the Federal Reserve and borrow money from it.  Of course the Fed does not have any money, nobody ever makes deposits there, so it just creates it out of thin air and gives it to the SDA Treasury.  And that, my friends, is how the federal government has run up a national debt of almost 18 trillion dollars.  Wonderful, isn't it?