Song for a Winter’s Night   Leave a comment

So… another year has come and gone, with increasingly vertiginous speed, and with the Christmas pause, in my case at least, comes no surcease of effort since my job which I’ve promised will go largely undescribed herein pays on an hourly basis and not very much, thus I can’t afford to take much time off…

But during 2015 I’ve managed to keep my head above water (barely) even if more often than I’d like but still a lot less than 2014 with some assistance from Medea who occasionally gets some of her money back.

Still, a massive improvement over 2013-2014 when I was telling myself I was self-employed, but my business in fact did a splendid imitation of the RMS Titannic.

… Except it went down ass-end first …

With Christmas came the usual slew of Christmas concerts, cards from old friends that I had better belatedly respond to… a hectic connection over Boxing Day with cousins on the Mainland, just about all that remains of my family… a convivial rehearsal and dinner with The Three Little Maids (youngest of whom is past 60 but that’s mortality for you and being past 60 still beats the alternative) and some more of the same with Medea’s children… all of which underscore the only thing that really matters on Planet Earth (beyond good health, a roof over your head that’s paid for, and the reasonable assurance  of a full stomach on a regular basis):

The quality and number of relationships you have.

Be that as it may, my days since September’s post (“War and Remembrance”) have been taken up with keeping my head above water, coping with a (more-or-less) 40 hour work week which could start at any hour of the day and finish at any hour of the day… and the next day (or night) could be at some entirely different stop and start point… does make for a fair amount of upheaval and discombobulation… and of course the triviality of everydayness plus not paying much attention to the news beyond my usual disparaging daily glance at The Corpse’s website…

And attempting in fits and starts to work towards my goals; as I’ve mentioned posts passim, stuff like:

•    Instruments in my repair dock that I hope to fix and flog
•    Computers and software that seems useful
•    Renovations to my tiny house
•    Renovations to my tiny car
•    Finding a replacement for Vingilot,  my cargo van which like Eärendil, allowed me to pass into The Uttermost West… that I foolishly let slip through my fingers…
•    Recouping the money I squandered over 2011 – 2014
•    And gaining some wisdom to go with my age, through the reading of sketchy books authorities don’t approve of…

The penultimate one is and has been more than a bit of a challenge. Every time I seem to build up a bit of surplus in savings… Seems it has to come right back out again, for gasoline and groceries and Protection Racket — pardon me… “Insurance”… payments… That I know if it ever comes time to make a claim…

Well… Let’s not think about that too much…

I’ve been working on Wade Frazier’s gargantuan website with the intention of having it all read by the end of March; it was in his culminate essay I discovered the following:

    “… in my early years during the 1960s, a gallon of gasoline retailed for around $0.20.  In 2014, the price of gasoline was around $4.00 per gallon, which reflected a 2,000% increase over the previous 50 years.  Similarly, our family home was purchased in 1967 for about $20,000, and that house cost $400,000 in 2014.  In the late 1960s, my middle-class father earned about $20,000 per year, so in 2014 dollars I would have needed to earn around $400,000 per year to enjoy his standard of living, but the median American family income was around $50,000 per year in 2014.  Those easy-living days of the 1960s’ USA are long gone.

     The decline in real wages per hour and attendant rise in real prices for gasoline and homes is only a financial measure of the decline in energy resources and consumption.  At the family budget level, as energy prices increase, all goods needing energy to produce such as gasoline, food, housing, medicine, and the like cost more.  If they can even hold their marriages together (if they even get married anymore), both parents in American households work outside of their homes today, when only one did during the postwar boom.  As businesses try to remain competitive, wages are lower for those fortunate enough to keep their jobs, social goods such as education are prohibitively more expensive, and less money is available for anything beyond survival.  For example, in the late 1970s and early 1980s I received a nearly free college education.  In 2014, a college education comes with crippling debt as each student’s “graduation present,” unless the student has parents from the affluent class.

    The idea of discretionary income is probably the financial economy’s closest concept to energy surplus, and the idea of savings is the financial economy’s closest idea to stored energy.  As the American middle class has been shrinking, discretionary income has been vanishing.”

“Hunh”, thought I to this, especially considering — as I was checking the Weather report on the Corpse’s newsite, the only thing there that I trust other than the sports scores — the report Dec. 8 from the Governor of the Bank of Canada, that the bank is considering imposing “negative interest rates” — IOW discounts, on capital accounts…

“Hmm” … thought I, at the time… Out of the blue and into my cranium came the notion, “maybe it’s time to stop trying to get money saved and just start buying Maple Leaf 1-ounce silver bullion coins, since I can’t begin to afford gold coins…” I’ve got 6 already.. 3 of them handed immediately to Medea…

Don’t ask me how I made such a prodigious leap. Likely pure foolishness.

Curious though, that what I took to be inflation / the rich grabbing ever more, over the last 40 years, according to Wade is really the result of a decline in available energy — again, rather curious, in that the price of crude oil, which supposedly peaked in the year 2006 has been dropping like a stone lately — And the Peak Oil websites, pretty much, have all packed up and shut down.. Peak Oil would seem to be an issue like Y2K was an issue..

What to make of this? Damned if I’ve got a clue.

Synchronicitously enough however, my cousin Nelson Bunker Hunt had a Silver Maple Leaf sitting on his kitchen counter… (he mentioned he’s got rather a few more, having exchanged his paper money and much of his coin collection for… Not numismatic coins which he’d been collecting and which may — if you’re lucky  — be worth more than the metal in them, but bullion coins which are worth exactly the metal in them…) The face value of a Maple Leaf is $5.00… the spot price lately is hovering around C$20.00 … the retail price in Victoria is around $25.00…

Okay.. So you buy the things for $25… and silver bullion spot price is $20… you’re losing $5 an ounce…

Say you’ve bought 1,000 = $25,000 invested
But worth $20,000 = $5,000 lost

Only way this is going to work is if the value of silver rises dramatically to cover the fact you bought this stuff retail.. Well.. That is why God created WASPs: Someone has to buy retail.

Versus keeping that money in a savings account (if you can manage to) and 1.75% interest at best, minus 1.08% inflation (at the moment) and you’ve got an increase on your capital of … 0.67%… Scarcely worth the effort…

Hm.. This is perhaps going to take a bit of thought.. ?

Then again the Canadian dollar has lost 93% of its purchasing power since 1933, which would seem to suggest long term savings programs are stupid.

zimbabwe dollar

And now they’re talking discounting the value of instead of accruing interest to money sitting in a savings account. Stories from John of disposing of the assets of departed Depression relatives, finding mattresses and (disused) woodstoves stuffed full of money, because after that experience, they never trusted banks or bankers again.

“Wait till silver is hitting $3,000 ounce!” said Nelson … “it’s the Poor Man’s Gold!”… and gold, come to think of it, has a 5,000 year history of being more reliable than politician’s promises.. Silver, on the other hand, according to some catastrophists, going to be mined to extinction in the next 20 years..

Whatever the heck that means… But the truth may be and I shouldn’t even mention it: Silver may be way undervalued. At the moment.
            
So there we have it at the end of another year… Reflections on what we all have to be thankful for, and speculations on achieving, despite the odds … Wisdom, prosperity and abundance in the new year and how to do it on $13.00/hour and selling junky old musical instruments…

Until next time…

Silver Pieces

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Posted December 30, 2015 by Capt. Roy Harkness in Uncategorized

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