Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Conversation With A Retired Friend

About 2004, I had the pleasure of working with an older engineer I knew who was much more experienced than I was, but who had retired around 1999 and came back to work as a technician.  He was assigned to be my technician because we were developing a very complex receiver, unlike anything our company had ever done before and the bosses wisely thought two guys would be better than one.  While we were both rather experienced, he started in electronics long before I did and in the fine-detailed circuit design, he was definitely my superior.  He retired a second time around '06, and has managed to remain retired this time, playing music for spare change/beer money around the Silicon Swamp area.

This was 2004/2005, ahead of the big crash of 2008, but we talked about how I thought a collapse was coming, and the problems with sub-prime mortgages.  We talked about inflation, gold, silver, and the possibility of bad times coming.  He told me he had believed for years that if there's another civil war in America, it will be between "the haves and the have nots".

We remain friends and swap emails now and then. Today, he sent me this video which started a bit of a conversation:

The video isn't very shocking; it's a collection of facts about how screwed up our economy is. I think I've gone over every one of these here on this blog, and more, but I don't think he reads me or the other blogs very often.

I responded by sending him to the Bill Whittle video in this post, and urged him to watch it.  After an email exchange, I asked him, "You're a smarter than average guy.  You're retired and need to know about this.  Have you heard that the CBO says the country will collapse in 15 years?"  His answer was no, that he had not. It never broke into the news in any source he follows. 

I think this is going to be a new thing.  I think I'm going to put together a list of a few things that seem like they're important enough that everyone should know and conduct a very non-scientific poll of what people really know about the economy and the state of things.  This is either going to be very interesting or very depressing.  Or both. 


  1. I have no excuse for being this "late to the party" in understanding the situation we now face.
    For the last 8 years I've been working, saving, and blindly ignoring things like this, never realizing how BAD they were getting.
    Prior to that I was coasting along enjoying my high-paying jobs, and spending too much.
    I'm correcting the error of my ways, but like the U.S. economy, I fear it might be too late....

  2. Graybeard,

    Awesome video. I'm glad to find a video that is short, understandable, and completely nonpolitical. It's a good intro for people who are still stuck in the left / right paradigm. Great find.

    I wanted to ask you about something else as well. Would you be able to discuss the potential tools for small drone countermeasures (diydrone.com size and style, think field deployable) in the realm of RF, GPS jamming, microwave, etc? It would be cool to have some information and knowledge around counter-drone ops to give out to people in jurisdictions where oppressive governments may start using those small drones.

    1. An interesting question.

      I've been trying to learn something about how they work, but don't have any real information. I think prototypes tend to be pretty simple to jam, but more advanced systems (think Military) will be anti-jam. I suppose they may buy the occasional system that isn't AJ, but nothing for critical use.

      I need to step up my reading. There are some folks who drop by here who may be able to leave some info if they remember to comment as anonymous. Yes, I am thinking of you, old friend. :-D

  3. Eliminate Usury or Interest! It would help more than hurt...Why is there interest to begin with, really???

    1. To pay a lender back when you borrow from them. It's the "cost of money". The other party could do other things with their money - perhaps investing it or using it for something for themselves. You pay them for that missing opportunity cost.

      If you borrow money (it's convenient sometimes, essential at others), you pay the lender interest "for their trouble". They take that interest and offer it to others as incentive to store their money where the lender can lend it out. This, of course, is the old "savings and loan" concept.

      Say they loan you a thousand dollars, you pay them back more than that, say 3% more. They distribute the 3% among the depositors whose money they used. A bit less than 3%, of course, using the margin to pay their employees.

      Folks like my retiree friend can live off the interest the banks pay him from keeping his lifetime's worth of savings there.

      That's an old model, of course, and they've come up with more ways to skim profits, but I don't see anything wrong with the basic model. Interest rates should be set by the free market, not the Federal Reserve, and money shouldn't be created by the press of a computer key, but I don't see anything wrong with this model.

    2. The fact that someone could ask that question indicates the root of the problem: complete economic ignorance in the population. They don't understand the problem because they can't understand the problem. They're not equipped to understand it.

      It's the equivalent of "I can't be out of money! I still have checks!"

      But they still get to vote themselves bread and circuses.

    3. Kevin, Ben Bernanke is welcome here anytime he chooses to visit.

      After all, isn't the Fed buying 80% of our own bonds the same as depositing a check in our account so we can write more checks?