cash and poverty Economics Politics

Fundamental Systemic Problems – #1 – Wealth

There are fundamental systemic problems that are literally killing us – both individually and as a species. Unless we can get a handle on these issues – we are almost certainly doomed. The first problem is wealth. Not wealth inequality, not wealth distribution, not how wealth is earned or spent – but simply wealth. Wealth is a fundamental systemic problem.

Wealth allows for exploitation, individual versus collective good, and a disporoprtionate allowance of power in terms of access, accumulations, and use of abilities. Wealth is very good for the individual who has it – but, as history has shown us, very bad for everyone as a whole – including the person who has it. This is a matter of long term versus short term good. The individual profits while the species, the biosphere, and the planet as a whole is degraded.

The problems of wealth are not a new revelation, though for most people, wealth appears to not be a problem at all. The main issue is that wealth has so firmly entrenched itself into our system and into our worldview that the idea of ending the concept is not only unfathomable but completely abhorrent to nearly everyone – including this writer who feels that he completely understands the problem of wealth intellectually but still has an inherent desire to strive for wealth personally because of the short term net positives wealth could bring to my individual life, the life of my offspring, and potentailly, the good which could be done if wealth of any size were accumulated and controlled.

One hopes that there is a way to end wealth once and for all – because it is the fundamental drain on our existance – however, given the above – it is unlikely that such an end would be pursued, allowed, or embraced by anyone. While there are religious and philosophical systems which have eschewed wealth, there has yet to be a political or economic system where wealth of one kind or another has not found a way to flourish.

Wealth is a fundamental systemic problem which appears to have no solution. As such, it may be best to move on to further systemic problems. Your thoughts are appreciated here as more than one brain is definitely better than just one.

America cash and poverty Economics Family money


Thus far, in my life, I have never owned my own home except when I’ve lived in VW vans. It’s my own fault – mortgages were easy to come by several times in my life and I chose not to invest. This will sound funny, but the prices always seemed too high. In the early-1990s – a Staff Seargent in my Marine Corps unit suggested that a bunch of enlisted guys pool our money and start buying real estate. It was a good suggestion and none of us took it. In the mid to late 1990s, I was struggling to find my calling – if, while I had worked in radio, I had applied for a mortgage using my VA Loan – I could have bought a modest house in what is now the booming real estate market of Bellingham, Washington. In the early 2000s – I had the opportunity to purchase a small studio apartment in Honolulu for $100,000 – the price seemed pretty extreme to me and I passed. And then, the housing boom came and I was sure that the economy was heading over a cliff but mortgages were incredibly easy to come by – I chose not to seek a home loan. That was it for me – those were my opportunities. We all know what happened in 2007 with the economy and housing – as a result of that – the requirements for getting a home loan became much more stringent – in fact – in 2016 when I talked to several banks about getting a loan – they told me that my VA Guarantee was no longer worth much and that as a self-employed business owner that my reported income was too low to qualify for a home loan – both bankers suggested that I ‘find a way’ to report a higher income. Yes, I could have lied on my taxes this year. I could have taken less deductions. I could have paid more tax…but the truth is that this year with the long grey winter and the bizarre politics of 2016 – my business wasn’t sufficient to do that. We needed those deductions.

Now, the housing market is again red hot. Things like AirBnB have made housing prices soar in desirable locations. I am in the midst of closing or with any luck selling my business (I do not own the building that houses it). For the present time, my VA Home Loan Guarantee sits in a folder – worthless and unusable. I console myself by imagining that the housing market will again have a massive crash and perhaps I will be able to buy something afterwards – but I don’t really believe it. I tell myself that the banks own most of the houses that people live in – and the mortgages are simply another form of rent and home ownership is by and large an illusion anyway. We have been served an eviction notice in the house we’ve rented for the past four years because the owner wants to sell it. I am thankful that we had already been making plans to move before we got the notice, but can’t help asking myself “What if we had not?”

We currently exist in a 60 day limbo in which lies a form of homelessness that terrifies me. The landlord was apologetic and felt bad about serving the eviction because we have been great tenants – but right now is the time to sell. I don’t blame her a bit. I would have done the same thing in her position. We are 60 days away from involuntary family homelessness.

Yes, we have been making plans. Yes, I am sure we will find something. I’d be foolish, however, not to be concerned. AirBnB and the red hot housing market have driven rents sky high.

I am a person – actually, we are a family, that if you want to send a birthday card to my 5-year-old daughter, a letter to my wife, or even a bill to me – more than 60 days from now to us – we have no forwarding address.

So, once again, here I am. This time, I was ready to seize opportunity – and this time it was denied me. I am rooting for the collapse of the economy. I am rooting for the collapse of the housing bubble. I am rooting for the collapse of AirBnB and more. I would rather be cheering for the economy and housing – but this Gen-x USMC veteran has been left behind by it. I have been left out of it. I accept my responsibility in this process – but no matter how hard I try – it just doesn’t make sense that this is all my fault. And so – here we are. Here I am. Here we go.

America cash and poverty Education

The Greatest Dilemma aka The Parent’s Dilemma

Maybe you have to be me to understand this one, but I’m guessing that you only have to be a sort of half way self aware parent of a child that you truly love to understand it – this – my greatest dilemma.

I want my child to grow up and be happy and find success and joy and love and be able to deal with the world.

And the world is completely fucked up.

Am I supposed to turn my child into yet another completely fucked up, money obsessed, neurotic asshole? Should I teach her how to be a really good person despite the fact that our world chews up, spits out, and completely fucks over really good people?

Or should I teach her to be a sort of economic terminator that buys low, sells high, always makes the career expanding move, exploits the stupid career limiting moves of others, and who always takes the move that advances her interests (or the interests of those she is interested in)?

It’s a sort of expanded level of prisoner’s dilemma. Which, if you aren’t familiar with game theory, goes like this: (thanks Wikipedia)

The prisoner’s dilemma is a standard example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two completely “rational” individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher working at RAND in 1950. Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence rewards and named it, “prisoner’s dilemma” (Poundstone, 1992), presenting it as follows:

Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They hope to get both sentenced to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to: betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent. The offer is:
If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves 2 years in prison
If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve 3 years in prison (and vice versa)
If A and B both remain silent, both of them will only serve 1 year in prison (on the lesser charge)
It is implied that the prisoners will have no opportunity to reward or punish their partner other than the prison sentences they get, and that their decision will not affect their reputation in the future. Because betraying a partner offers a greater reward than cooperating with them, all purely rational self-interested prisoners would betray the other, and so the only possible outcome for two purely rational prisoners is for them to betray each other. The interesting part of this result is that pursuing individual reward logically leads both of the prisoners to betray, when they would get a better reward if they both kept silent. In reality, humans display a systemic bias towards cooperative behavior in this and similar games, much more so than predicted by simple models of “rational” self-interested action. A model based on a different kind of rationality, where people forecast how the game would be played if they formed coalitions and then maximized their forecasts, has been shown to make better predictions of the rate of cooperation in this and similar games, given only the payoffs of the game.

An extended “iterated” version of the game also exists, where the classic game is played repeatedly between the same prisoners, and consequently, both prisoners continuously have an opportunity to penalize the other for previous decisions. If the number of times the game will be played is known to the players, then (by backward induction) two classically rational players will betray each other repeatedly, for the same reasons as the single-shot variant. In an infinite or unknown length game there is no fixed optimum strategy, and Prisoner’s Dilemma tournaments have been held to compete and test algorithms.

The prisoner’s dilemma game can be used as a model for many real world situations involving cooperative behaviour. In casual usage, the label “prisoner’s dilemma” may be applied to situations not strictly matching the formal criteria of the classic or iterative games: for instance, those in which two entities could gain important benefits from cooperating or suffer from the failure to do so, but find it merely difficult or expensive, not necessarily impossible, to coordinate their activities to achieve cooperation.

So, should I teach my child to be a drone, a thinking, good person, or a mercenary ? Which option maximizes her happiness in the future? Is she going to be happier if she is successful or if she is good or if she is a part of the system? This is what I call the parent’s dilemma.

So, here is the dilemma in pretty simple terms. I can teach my child to be successful in this world, which makes her a part of what I see to be the problem or I can teach her to not be part of the problem, which from what I have experienced and continue to see will make her unsuccessful. There does not seem to be a middle way in this particular dilemma – at least no middle way that exists in the United States of America.

cash and poverty Food and Booze

Running, animal porn, North Korea, Food, and Suicide

This is one of the most viewed posts on this site of all time. Why? Animal porn.

I went running this morning for the first time in a while. I think the walking helped a lot. I felt like I was running faster and better than before. The bummer is that it seems like every time I get motivated to start running, I encounter some sort of injury. This morning it is my left calve muscle, now I’m limping around the library. Oh well, I’ll just run a little slower tomorrow and be sure to stretch.

I have to say that I appreciate the comments that have been showing up lately. Sometimes with blogging it starts to feel like the only ones reading what you write are yourself and your mom (Hi Mom!) so it feels especially good to get some interaction. I’m changing things up a little bit , trying to incorporate more of me into my posts while still giving you links to stories that catch my interest or I think will catch yours.
As to the comments, I have to moderate them pretty close or we end up with links to animal porn and other foul internet areas. So the deal is that every comment has to be approved by first time commentators, after you are approved though, you can comment at will. I know it can be frustrating to make a comment and not see it immediately, but I do it because of the animal porn. Just say no to animal porn.

Here’s a bad segue into North Korea where they are saying that up to 800,000 people have starved

People dying while working in factories, exhausted from hunger; policemen stealing food from the people; lack of food, starvation: while world leaders discuss the food problem at the FAO summit, the population of North Korea faces an unprecedented decimation. The annual famine, together with the disastrous flooding last year, has made food impossible to find in the regime headed by Kim Jong-il. According to South Korean non-governmental organisations, the only groups still allowed to bring necessities to the north, 800,000 have already died from hunger.

There is nothing more horrifying than mass starvation, especially when it can be avoided. This is almost a million human beings who are dying in the worst possible way. I would classify this as genocide.
Food shortages are striking world wide and prices are spiking for a variety of reasons. What can you do to keep your own grocery bill lower? Here are 10 ways from Gimundo

1. Shop the bulk bins.
2. Eat less meat.
3. Buy cheaper cuts of meat.
4. Eat your leftovers and take your lunch.
5. Vegetables cost less when they’re in season, and they taste better too.
6. Eat your eggs and demand humane treatment of chickens.
7. Join a co-op or buying club. Or start your own. Find one near you.
8. Plan your menus and shop with a list.
9. Grow your own and learn to dehydrate, freeze, and can foods for the winter.
10. Know when to scrimp and when not to.

On to other things, I am happy to see that anthropology isn’t listed as one of the ten most worthless degrees. It’s funny because I almost majored in film, but had a very similar thought to what they say there.
Also am happy to say that a French judge ruled that lying about one’s virginity is grounds for annulment of a marriage. It should be. So should uncontrollable accidental bowel syndrome. And chronic bad breath.

Another abomination is what is happening to once great American cities like Detroit. Despite all the negatives in this article, it makes me think that moving there may actually be a good idea. Maybe that’s just because I am poor. lol. The rapture is coming.
Don’t worry though, according to you can now leave a note for your loved ones.
. If you want to just rappture yourself, you can always buy the newly popular German suicide pills. Leave it to the Germans to perfect euthanasia.
And finally on this post of bad segues…if you want to run your car on water, here is the way that the internet claims you can do it.

cash and poverty Food and Booze

Cost of a Pint around the globe

cash and poverty

Top 20 Hedge Funds 2009

When you look at hedge fund performance so far in 2009, it seems that some of them have been making a lot of money while others are still losing their jobs… Is life unfair?
Top 20 Hedge Funds 2009
1/ Turnberry Capital +130.69%
2/ Palomino Capital +114.43%
3/ Henderson European ABS +110.66%
4/ Pentwater Event Fund +81.10%
5/ RAB Energy Class +74.96%
6/ Redwood Capital Masters +70.38%
7/ Pharo Master Fund +68.25%
8/ Henderson UK Equity +66.23%
9/ Delta Fund Europe +64.96%
10/ Dorset Energy Fund +59.66%
11/ Templeton Emerging Market Fund +58.65%
12/ Element Capital Fund +58.43%
13/ Pars IV Offshore Fund +56.97%
14/ Canyon Value Realization +54.78%
15/ Zadig Fund Class +51.68%
16/ Stone Liond Fund +51.37%
17 Forest Glib +51.23%
18/ GLS Offshore +49.47%
19/ Feingold Okeefe Capital +49.14%
20/ HSBC Distressed Opportunity +48.94%

cash and poverty

Making money with Text Link Ads


  • First off, I have to admit that in most of my online ventures, I haven’t really succeeded. Adsense has not yet yielded me a dime in actual payouts. Affiliate programs have never really worked for me. Referral programs haven’t worked. Paid to email and paid to play games or surf the net seem to take too much time and not give enough back in return.
    The one success that I’ve had was with .
    One day, I googled “How to make money with your blog” and I found a list of ten things one guy had tried. I signed up for them all using my blog Poor Vago’s Almanack and then I waited to see the results. A few ads sold in the first month and I got a payment for $22 from TLA. Then they just kept selling. At one point, I was getting around $240 a month but then back in February, my payouts started to decrease. This came from a combination of things, 1st, TLA had stopped taking ads from gambling sites and casinos. 2nd, my content had shifted from fairly racey stuff to tales of my travels and adventures and as a result my pagerank had decreased. At least that is what I think happened. At the moment, I am making about $130 a month.
    I don’t remember any of the other programs I signed up for, but definitely works and it does so in a way that doesn’t leave big ugly ads all over your site. In fact, I’ve never found a TLA ad on my front page.
    So sign up for TLA today and see if you too can start making some money. It really works.

cash and poverty

Making money online – Moolah

I’ve started to get serious about making money online. One of the blogs I recently bought is, which is all about making money online. I’m going through the old posts and I’m going to try out every bit of it. I will be posting all of my results here along with new content for this site.

I figure the first thing to do is to go through Casey’s post and see if I can learn what she is teaching. I’m starting at the back and working forward, so the first post on this blog is about Moola. Here is the link to Casey’s post on Moola.
I promise, I will be adding strategies and tactics of my own, but for the moment, I need to get up to speed on what everyone here already knows. At first glance, Moola seems interesting. I’ve grown pretty distrustful of any kind of gaming through the years. The reasons casinos are so big is because most people lose, so I’m sure that there is a lose factor built in to Moola. I’m going to sign up though and give it a shot.
It’s actually pretty fun and the upside is that they do give you your first penny. The whole concept is that if you double that penny 30 times, you have $10 million dollars! Not bad. I just played my first couple of games and I’ve won so far. Of course, I’m still in the .25 cent or less range.
It’s free to sign up and more amusing than taking facebook quizzes.
Sign up here.

cash and poverty

Blogging for Dollars

It’s funny. My life vacillates between two poles. The completely spiritual and the necessity for money. The two aren’t necessarily incompatible, but at the same time I would love to be able to focus totally on the first without concern for the second. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to do the first without getting distracted by the concerns of the second.
Lately I’ve been spending 8-10 hours a day writing content, researching ways to create a successful blog, and trying to implement the strategies of the successful. At the moment, I would guess from looking at the everything I’ve been looking at that I am more successful at what I am doing than about 75% of the people who are blogging the way I do. In other words, about 75% of us are not doing very much in terms of making dollars through blogging.
I’ve implemented quite a few new things in the past few days, but it will take time to see if they bear any fruit. I will let you know. Since I have this time, by the will of the Creator, I am nearly certain that this is what I am meant to be doing with it. We shall see.
In the meantime, for those of you who blog, write, or use the internet to make money, what are you doing that is working?
Feel free to promote your content and websites.

cash and poverty

Earning a Living as a Vagobond

Everyone knows that times are tough right now. The world economy is still in a shambles. The job market is anything but good. I couldn’t have planned a worse time to graduate with a degree that really isn’t good for much beyond the knowledge it gives me. At least in terms of finding a job. Of course, I never really intended to use my degree for anything but the chance to gain knowledge and be able to say I earned a degree, so I’m not complaining. Still, the question remains, how does one earn a living? Especially, the question for me, and perhaps for you too, is how does a vagobond earn a living? If I (or you) want to earn my living, be able to move from place to place, and not go to an office environment every day, how the heck do I do that?
I’m working on it.
The first thing to do is to really figure out what I have and don’t have, what my priorities are, what my responsibilities (financially) are, and what I currently have. It’s also important to figure out what I need to have the life I want.
I’ll keep the specifics to myself on this, but give you the generalized:
What I need:

My student loans are going to start pestering me soon…that’s $500 plus a month as it stands now. Not surprisingly, I will most likely defer and if necessary default. So we won’t count those even though they loom…
I want to be able to go to Morocco, marry Hanane, and start a life together. I thought I had that one worked out with working for the summer for my Dad, but found out otherwise. Still working on it.
I’d like to have at least $1000 a month income that I can earn wherever I might be.

What I have:

At the moment, I make about $140 through this site each month using text link ads. Back in December I was up to nearly $225, but due to the economy (I think) and the fact that they stopped carrying casino ads due to federal legislation, it has been steadily dropping.
My books earn between $10-$150 a month in royalties. This month has been the worst in some time. I’ve only sold two copies of my latest book on Ramadan for a total of $5 royalties. The past six months have been in the $20-$30 range.
Here it comes down to a few things as I detailed in Rough Living:
Accumulations: Not much. My laptop and camera and some clothes.
Access: Lately I’ve realized that my access to people through facebook, digg, twitter, etc doesn’t really amount to much in terms of promoting. Perhaps I’ve worn out that particular social capital, though I still find the friendships valuable in themselves, but that isn’t what we are discussing here
Abilities: I can write, I can travel, I can blog, I can teach, I can read. etc.

So, what is there to do?
Improvise. That’s what.
You may notice that there are suddenly a lot of ads here. I’ve also expanded my daily blogging network outward to include and thus allowing me to more closely focus on specific content at each blog.
I have joined about 30 blogging networks, ad networks, and traffic exchange networks in an effort to increase my visibility and income. In addition, I took Ryan G’s advice and signed up for Associated Content and have been writing content for them, that thus far has earned about seven cents over the past few days, but we will see.
Here are a few of the programs I have recently joined: – a trafffic exchange site designed for bloggers to promote each others blogs
CMF ads– A bloggers ad network with reasonably priced ads on private blogs. I bought $5 worth of ads and we will see if they yield results.

Google Adsense
recently allowed me to rejoin.


Performancing Ads
Blog Up!
Blog Village
Widget Bucks
Plus, you can see that I’ve signed up for quite a few more if you look at the sidebar.

As I (hopefully) get checks from each of these or increased traffic, I will let you guys know. In the meantime, I will be exploring other ways to earn a living while I do what I do. I will share these insights with you. Also, in the meantime, I am open to suggestions that might have worked for you or others. Let me know, it’s all a big experiment.