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Understanding My ‘Worldview’ and/or ‘Perspective’!

January 24, 2015

What I have discovered recently (from talking to some of my friends and associates) is that many readers of my blog do not seem to comprehend my core philosophy and/or my worldview! This lack of understanding can create communication problems with responders to the issues which I write about. This is unfortunate…so maybe I can improve this understanding by providing more data on my background and history. I would suggest that we each have a Worldview (based on beliefs) which creates our perspective on reality and life. So what I now want to write about are my core assumptions about reality and my overall assumptions about economics, philosophy, science, and money. Hopefully, this missive will help to alleviate some issues of controversy and help each reader to discern my core perceptions of reality (on life, economics, money).

Don Swenson (2007) with the Catalina Mountains (Marana, Arizona) in the background! 

My early history:

I started my journey on this planet in a small farming community in Northern Minnesota (called Roseau) in 1943. This community provided me with my early background on farming, working with farm animals, plowing grain fields, working as a laborer with farm machinery, driving various types of farm vehicles, and my many experiences with First Principles on life and economics. First Principles included my negotiations for goods and services within this farming community, barter transactions with buyers/sellers, promissory contracts (verbal and written), currencies (silver/copper coins), paper currencies (bills/notes), the concept of ‘value’, the concept of ‘prices’, and the basic nature of social relationships within a work environment. One of my first experiences with money involved working for $1/day (room and board) with my farmer/cousin. Later I was employed as a newspaper boy (delivery person) for a regional newspaper company. This is where I learned finance, savings, investments, and the concept of debt/credit (as well as sound bookkeeping principles).

My early adult history:

After graduating from High School in Moorhead, Minnesota, I entered the Navy in 1962 (6 year commitment with 4 active and 2 inactive reserve). After my active Navy years, I enter College and completed my four-year degree in 1968 with a bachelors in Business Administration. My first full-time employment was with a large insurance company in St. Paul, Mn. (their real estate department). This was where I learned about serious finance, lending, mortgages, valuation, construction, development, monetary issues, inflation, deflation, computers, sound bookkeeping principles, banking relationships, credit/debt, and other serious economic issues.

In 1973, I started my valuation/brokerage business in Madison, Wi. This business continued until 1980. I closed this business because of the Savings and Loan financial crisis which started in the late 1970’s.  I watched our oil/gas prices skyrocket from some $3/barrel to $35/barrel and watched as many of my business clients lost their savings, banking relationships, personal net worth, and their ‘under-water’ (valuation wise) construction projects. I lost some $400,000 in brokerage fees during this period. There were many difficult years during the mid/late 70’s and early 80’s for me and for clients which I assumed were solvent! The positive from this period was my serious search for understanding of reality! This is when I started my teaching workshops on money, economics, and philosophy!

My self-education in philosophy, theology, economics, and banking:

During the late 70’s and after, I started a serious study period on issues of philosophy, theology, economics, and money. I started this study because I desired to learn about how business cycles and economic issues could change lives with such seriousness over such short periods. Personally, I lost thousands during the real estate crash of the late 70’s (called the Savings and Loan crisis) and I watched many of my clients/friends lose all their financial security within this short crises period. Why did this happen? What were the causes? Why all the foreclosures and bankruptcies? What is ‘value’ (in reality) was my real issue?

As a valuation consultant during this crisis period, I became aware of the subjective nature of this concept which we call VALUE. Why all the moral and ethical problems (which emerged after this crisis especially within the finance profession)? What were the big issues of economics, philosophy, and theology which underly all these economic problems? All these questions started my search for answers and my desire for new thinking! All this was positive as I was learning about reality! During this period I started a teaching workshop in Waukesha, Wisconsin and then later in Madison, Wisconsin. Some 5000 adults (needing continuing education) attended these workshops and teaching conferences from 1979 – 1986.

My philosophical study and research:

My desire for understanding about reality (how the World works) started in my early youth while living in Roseau, Mn. I was brought up in a very spiritual and philosophical environment. Thinking about the nature of reality was a daily concept within my family and my social environment. The farming community of Roseau, Mn. was basically a community of Swedish Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, Anglicans, Amish, and a minority of atheist/secular thinkers. We talked about God, evolution, science, nature, money, creation, salvation, life’s purpose, meaning, economics, eschatology, and many other issues. My later adult life became infused with learning more about reality and life as I lived it. Why? When? What? and How? were daily questions which I entertained. This led me to issues of theology, science, and serious philosophy!

My study of past philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Ludwig von Mises, Thomas Jefferson, and Kant created a desire for me to learn more. I read and studied from many writers and from many different perspectives. I also found the study of serious theology very interesting and challenging. I studied Christian theology, Catholic theology, Jehovah Witness theology, Jewish theology, and Islamic theology. I recognized early on that all serious study involved thinking on my own. I don’t think I fully agreed with any theologian, scientist, or philosopher completely. This led me to the conclusion (eventually) that all viewpoints are subjective and relative (as none could claim my total allegiance or commitment). All perspectives on reality seemed flawed and partial. I still hold to this mantra today! ‘All is relative and subjective at the core of reality’!

My overall favorite philosopher, however, was a person who was killed (without real cause) for his beliefs and his determination to create serious thinking within his community. This philosopher from ancient Greece lived by the name, Socrates! Socrates discovered (as I have) that life starts (from birth) with QUESTIONS and ends (prior to death) with QUESTIONS. There is no END to questions! When Socrates went into the marketplace to seek truth and conversation he noticed that everyone broke down (psychologically) after a serious inquiry into a specific issue of life. What is ‘justice’ was one concept Socrates asked? What is ‘truth’ was another? What is ‘value’ and the ‘good’ life were others?

Socrates eventually became disliked by the establishment politicians and the elite (of his day) as they viewed his questioning as a corruption of the youth (who followed him) and also the general political community of Athens. Rather than die by crucifixion, however, Socrates chose to die voluntarily by taking a poison drink called hemlock. His internal belief (which was core to his philosophy) was that he lived within TWO realms of reality (the material and the meta-physical/spiritual worlds). This meant (to him) that death was really an elevation in status as life (one’s soul) is really immortal and/or eternal! The spirit nature lives on (he thought)! I love his thinking and regret the mindset of his political community (the elite of his day who desired his death)! Today, Socrates is viewed as one of the BEST philosophers of all time! Is he still living in his immortal realm? I, personally, think so!

My view on Money:

The concept of money (to me) reveals that this concept is an invention (within the marketplace) which actually serves as a substitute for our Standard of Value (that which emerges from negotiation within a barter environment). Since exchange, barter, and trade involves this metaphysical concept called VALUE, people needed to create a substitute for this concept (of VALUE) which is physical or material. A Standard of VALUE such as silver (a coin/bar) and/or gold (by weight), etc. is eventually chosen (or invented). Money (the thing) emerges from a barter environment and then becomes our Standard of Value for exchange and trade. I call money (the item chosen) our proxy for this metaphysical concept called VALUE.

Since VALUE is subjective and within our mind, we need some commodity or item to serve as a proxy (substitute) for this subjective concept. Money becomes this proxy. Today, we have abandoned any physical money from our marketplace (this happened in 1971-73). In lieu, we have invented a digital (cyber) currency (merely math and numbers). This cyber currency is really imaginary (1’s and 0’s) and subjective (at its core) since it is created OUT OF NOTHING and is then merely typed into our computer screen as ‘numbers’. Numbers, in reality, are subjective and imaginary! Computer money (derived from bits and bytes) are really imaginary units and subjective units and this makes them vulnerable to total collapse over time. Collapse is what is now happening within (all our markets) globally and nationally!

The recent policies called QE (money printing) should really be viewed as currency creations from the consciousness of our Central Bankers. What is actually happening in realtime is currency creation from the ‘mind’ of select Central Bankers (such as Carney, Draghi, Kuroda, and Yellen). These policymakers are actually creating official legal tender units from their consciousness. This is technically illegal and corrupt but our politicians and our elite are allowing this to happen anyway. The recent $1.2 trillion of QE (a form of counterfeiting) by Mario Draghi of the ECB is an example of illegal/corrupt activity at the highest levels. This is being done to maintain a Casino financial system from totally disappearing into ‘thin air’. The morality of this operation reveals the corruption within our current Casino (fraudulent) system. People need to recognize that our System is now flawed and failing!

My view on market ‘manipulation’ by our Central Banks:

What has evolved since the mid-80’s is a global internet society and also a global computer monetary system for our trading markets. Electronic computers have been installed in all our Stock Exchanges and Futures Markets…and computer platforms and trading have created markets which can be manipulated via computer trading strategies. Today, all our ‘open out-cry’ trading pits (where live human beings executed trades) have mostly been closed and the new electronic computer platforms have replaced human beings. This has also created huge trading desks (rooms for computer trading) for our Central Banks to manipulate all our markets. The Fed’s (our Central Bank) transaction desk has evolved into a huge trading room on the 9th floor of the New York Federal Reserve Bank where stock, bond, and derivatives can be traded and where prices can be manipulated daily in realtime.

Furthermore, electronic (digital) currencies have replaced the ‘printing press’ and almost all paper currencies for all nations. Sweden, for example, is almost 100% cashless today. Only some 4% of  all monetary transactions are now done with paper currencies. This means that electronic trading strategies are now using mathematical Algorithms and mathematical Codes programmed into our high frequency computers…for the manipulation of market prices in all our markets. The concept of ‘price discovery’ is mostly meaningless today as all prices are manipulated at speed of light frequencies via our computer trading strategies. The fundamentals of a business entity (such as management and production efficiencies) are not relevant factors today as most traders focus strictly upon PRICE manipulation to make profits. Realtime money flows (price changes) is the new concept for traders.

So, yes, price manipulation is ubiquitous within today’s electronic (cyber) markets. Our money is now digital (within cyberspace) and computers (programmed with algorithms) do almost all our trading. In other words, we now live in a MACHINE driven market rather that a PEOPLE driven market. Machines rule over finance, trading, investments, speculations, and storage of our currencies value. Cyberspace has replaced realtime observational space. Few financial pundits understand the nature of cyberspace and our cyber currencies! We live with many new concepts which have not been internalized by our financial pundits, economists, or our politicians. This is a dangerous world ready for global financial collapse!

My current view of reality, truth, and life:

Let’s end this missive with some of my current views on reality as I (and I believe you) live it! First of all, as I stated earlier: ‘all is really subjective/relative at the core’! As human beings (I and you) can not determine ABSOLUTE reality/truth. This means that all so-called ‘truth’ is situational and changing over time. This is similar to the belief (I believe) of Socrates prior to his death. In other words, life starts with a question(s) and ends with a question(s). All answers are tentative and changing over time. The closest that I can get to real truth is by understanding the NOW moment.

That which I (you) experience in the NOW is what is real and what is ‘truth’ for each of us. Each person’s NOW (present moment) may be somewhat unique and different, however. This creates all our different perspectives and viewpoints on issues of economics, philosophy, theology, science, and basic relationships. The closer I can get to understanding the NOW moment (my inner thoughts/concepts) the closer I can get to hard reality and meaningful truth! This is why I now understand reality via the mantra: ‘life is lived as successive moments of NOW’. The concept of a PAST is really a ‘now memory’. The concept of a FUTURE is really a ‘now visualization’.

When it comes to economics, I now view the core concept of economics (under Capitalism) as the concept of VALUE. What is ‘value’ and why is this concept so important in understanding Capitalism and economics. Personally, I have experienced some 40+ years with this concept. I started my career within the profession of valuation in 1968 and I have worked as an Appraiser/Valuation Consultant for most of the past 40+ years. What I now realize is that this concept which we all call VALUE is totally subjective (inner) and can not be objectified with any type of money or currency (even though MONEY is what we attempt to use to objectify ‘value’ and our ‘prices’). In reality, VALUE is mostly a fantasy within our MIND (consciousness) which has NO outer referent. Silver coins have NO intrinsic value (only a subjective value). Gold coins have NO intrinsic value (only a subjective value). Houses, cars, boats, land, natural resources have NO inherent VALUE (only subjective perceptions of value). All is within our MIND and or consciousness when it comes to VALUE (and its derivative: PRICE)!

The evolution of our American dollar is also an issue which I now realize is subjective and mythical. Today, our dollar is an ‘abstraction’ within our MIND (consciousness). There is NO such ‘thing’ as Dollar within our material Universe. All dollars today appear within cyberspace as images but are really (in reality) subjective units of CONSCIOUSNESS. This means that both VALUE and our DOLLAR are derived as units of consciousness (imaginary derivations). Recently, our Fed Chairman (Bernanke) and the ECB President (Draghi) created dollars and euros from their personal CONSCIOUSNESS (their inner mind). They then (via a stroke of a computer key) created the ‘illusion’ of new money entering our markets via typing ‘numbers’ within their computer screens for further distribution. This ‘illusion’ does temporarily work as people THINK these units of consciousness are real and meaningful. In reality, however, all the ‘numbers’ (called legal tender money) are within our extended consciousness (called CYBERSPACE). Who is aware of this! Who recognizes that all debt, credit, currencies (today) are ILLUSIONS!

My Conclusion for now:

Yes, we live in an ‘illusionary’ world of images, text, words, and numbers (math and algorithms) which appear real and material (i.e., as things which EXIST) but, in reality, it’s ALL an illusion of our MINDS! What we call the ‘wealth’ effect (value) is an illusion! What we call the dollar (our currency) is an illusion! What we call images within ‘cyberspace’ (our computer screens) are part of our meta-physical consciousness (our inner spiritual self). Reality, today has become a METAPHYSICAL experience which is mostly within our MIND. Another word for MIND is our consciousness!

This means that we need to understand our own CONSCIOUSNESS if we desire to understand economics, money, value, prices, debt, and our financial situation! Consciousness (the human mind) is not really understood today by financial pundits, economists, politicians, or philosophers. Science is starting to work on understanding this area of reality. So far, however, few seem to grasp the spiritual nature of consciousness. Yet this issue is the most important issue of our time! If we desire progress as a human race we need to start thinking about CONSCIOUSNESS and the human mind. That is my basic (limited) Worldview/Perspective (as of today)! Enjoy and let me know if you understand this missive! I am:

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