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					General Semantics Discussion Forums - Institute of General Semantics
Generated: 14 February, 2010, 03:22


General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/09/23 09:49
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Is anyone interested in practicing general semantics by applying general semantics principles in
commenting on present international financial problems?

For a start: In terms of order, I think there exists a great risk when politicians hurriedly (one week) set out
to address a problem (700 billion dollars included) they have not given themselves and others enough
time to study more thorougly.

In terms of "relative invariance under transformation" (this is somewhat like that):
If children, if members of a society are not "regulated"--provided with certain guidelines and rules of
behavior, laws, etc., one can predict a consequence of such freedom to be behaviors outside the 'norm'
(what is acceptable to a majority).

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by benorbeen - 2008/09/23 10:36
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On a related note, I have a very, very thick book titled The General Semantics of Wall Street by John
Magee. I've never read it, and I don't know its overlap with the current financial situation. I just wanted
to plug it in case no one has heard of it. :)

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by LanceStrate - 2008/09/23 16:22
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benorbeen wrote:
On a related note, I have a very, very thick book titled The General Semantics of Wall Street by John
Magee. I've never read it, and I don't know its overlap with the current financial situation. I just wanted
to plug it in case no one has heard of it. :)

I have heard about the book, but not seen it myself. And this is an excellent example of how GS might
be used to address an issue of contemporary concern. This is far outside my areas of expertise, but I do
think it has to involve something more than saying that decisions are being made in a hasty manner, and
without due consideration for long-term consequences.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Bruce Kodish - 2008/09/23 18:50
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Some random, possibly relevant GS avenues re current economics to pursue or ignore as you wish.


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Submitted as a probe:

:huh: Korzybski's writings on Wealth and Economics in Manhood of Humanity

:huh: GS as a theory of human values and evaluations

:huh: 'Natural' order of evaluation, process more important than object, object more importante than
label, etc.

:huh: Focus on 'material' goods reversing 'natural' order, object more important than process

:huh: Korzybski's object apple that tastes, looks, smells like an apple but has no nutritional value

:huh: Food scientists enhancing flavors of nutritional 'baddies'

:huh: Credit for many people spending money they don't have, 'money' with no wealth behind it

:huh: A mortgage contract that the lendee cannot pay like a bad check seems like a map without a
territory

:huh: Banks then traders and speculators bundle these 'bad check' mortgages as objects of trade.
Eventually they crash into the territory.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/09/26 10:13
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Thanks for the book suggestions. But I was hoping members would make the effort to apply some of
their own thinking to these situations. I am afraid that if present 'generation' only write, talk about, and
define general semantics principles, as Korzybski mentioned, we are not liklely to benefit from the
system. Also, I think we need present more up to date applications to help 'others' and ourselves
recognize the potential power of the discipline in helping us make better sense of things. I think we need
more emphasis on practice.

Over the years I have come to a feeling that translating principles to "tools" might not be so easy for
some. I have just finished an article "Practicing Conscious Time-binding" addressing this. I believe part
of the problem could be our tendency to see-treat the principles as "nouns" rather than as "verbs and
adverbs"--related to action, and a particular way (modulated by general semantics approach) of
behaving.) I proposed a seminar-workshop some weeks ago. In this seminar-workshop we will
emphasize translating principles into practice. Lance (Institute Executice Director) has indicated an
interest in setting this up. I will offer the article as required reading for this seminar. I believe the more
interest shown the quicker we might have such a seminar.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by eric_goodman - 2008/09/26 14:25
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Years ago in college I studied agricultural economics, and I'm pretty rusty with it now but this current
financial situation forces me to focus on the enormous level of abstraction inherent in our markets. If I
recall correctly, futures markets were initially developed as a common sense vehicle to protect farmers
against adverse price swings in the time between they planted their crops and those crops went to
market. Makes sense, and is fairly understandable.

Then someone got clever and invented "options" on futures contracts, which bet on the value of the
futures contracts, which themselves were tied to the value of the underlying crop. Now we have a
second level abstraction on top of the original abstraction, further opening the door to speculators with
no interest in the commodities themselves. The traditional argument for such speculation is that it
supplies liquidity, without which the original farmer can't use the original vehicle for his original purpose.
But we can see the pattern, and these vehicles, while still in use, seem to be child's play compared to
the swaps and derivatives and who knows what else that makes up the trillions of dollars of speculation
today.

So it seems that not only consciousness of the process of abstracting, but also consciousness of these
vehicles AS abstractions (and high-level ones at that) might help us in the future avoid some of the
insanity we're witnessing today. Although I doubt this alone will be sufficient, since capitalism is
predicated on boom/bust cycles so it's likely we'll be here again in some form even if this mess is
somehow sorted out. Still, I'm amazed at the complexity of all this and stunned by how easily people
throw around terms like "the market" thinking they (or anyone really) knows what that is.

Milton, I repeat my support for and interest in your proposed seminar.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by viric - 2008/09/27 07:20
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Eric mentions how people talk about "the market". I'd like to add, that I also frighten when I hear about
"the economy", as in: "the economy needs ...", "that's good for the economy", "the economy goes well",
...
I think of "the economy" as a multiordinal term, as I haven't seen such appreciation in words of financers.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/09/27 10:07
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Hi Eric,
Hi Viric,

I feel pleased to read your applications. I was beginning to lose hope. When I listened to interviews and
read about the "market, free market, the economy, options, holding company, derivatives, futures,
bonds, securities, etc., "higher order abstractions" also came up for me. Also non-additivity,
non-elementalism, identification, system function, organism as-a-whole-in environments" and others. It
takes too much space to engage in this here, but these and others are some of the kinds of discussions
we could have in the seminar to help us link principles to social, international and personal realities.



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In terms of "system function". Listening to interviews and discussions, on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and
BBC, I think what I hear on BBC comes closer to addressing roots of the problem in depth. In terms of
"relative invariance under transformation" principle ('this' is somewhat like 'that' and "structural
similarity"): I see the the rush to find a 'solution' as somewhat like giving a patient an injection to bring
the fever down but ignoring contributing biological factors. And at the level of minimum regulation: like
leaving a child with hardly any rules or restrictions to do as it likes.

In terms of "non-additivity" and "geometric progression: More and more capitalisitic behaviors do not
necessarily lead to more and more prosperity. (Similarly more and more communistic behaviors do not
lead to better and better conditions.) In terms of "positive feedback". Human beings in the
'banking-securities' field are rewarded with bonusues and higher salaries for bringing in more and more
business faster and faster. This invariably results in taking greater and greater and more and more risks.
Without supervisory restraints we can predict calamities.

Here is my simplistic overview of some aspects of the mechanism: Bank A gives loan of $1000 at 10%
interest to 1000 clients. Bank A package these loans and gets a deal from Bank B. at say 7% interest.
Bank A has lost some money but now has $1,000,000 to do more businees. Meanwhile, Bank B doing
business with 100 other Bank As, has loaned out say $100,000,000. Bank B packages this $100,
000,000 and gets a deal with Bank C. at say 4% interest--loses some money but have $100,000,000 to
do more business. Get the picture? If things start to go wrong at BanK A level--having been lending to
individuals whom cannot afford mortgage payments say--Bank B gets anxious to say the least. Bank C,
Bank D, Bank E, etc. having these billions of dollars outstanding now find 'themselves' in very big
trouble. And non-elementalistically, this affects all of us to different degrees. (Let's not forget that Bank
A, B, C etc.,, represent human individuals doing banking.)

In terms of "higher order abstractions, and "non-elementalism": If we intensionally give higher
importance and value to these higher order labels, we will likely forget that they refer to and involve
human beings doing human things. And that these humans will time-bindingly (but not necessarily in
terms of "time-binding excellence", and "time-binding ethics") engage in finding better and better ways to
financially hurt people.

In terms of "non-allness": Please expand on these principles and others.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by eric_goodman - 2008/09/27 11:00
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Thanks Milton for your helpful applications of GS principles to this very complicated problem. I've
benefited greatly from your articles and posts on the old IGS forum and now this new one, specifically I
think because of the rigorous and relentless way you relate the principles and techniques of the
discipline back to real-life issues. And I've appreciated how others on this forum seek to do the same,
such as Ben's call for everyday uses of GS and GS applications to news and current events. Not only
does this help newcomers like myself to learn the actual principles, but on a deeper level reinforces that
the value of the system can and should be brought to bear in making the world a saner place (as you,
Milton, have stressed many times). And thanks also to Bruce and Viric for their helpful examples as well.


Getting back to the "meltdown": My conception of Korzybski's notion of "unsanity" is the psychological
distress caused by the gap between our intensional world of words and the extensional world of realities.
The greater this gap, the further we are from "reality," and the greater the pain we suffer (and inflict)

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when this world of realities inevitably comes crashing down into the world of our intensional meanings.
The gap right now between the financial system that exists and the one we assumed we were
participating in ("free" markets, etc.) has gotten so huge, yet this "unsanity" remains largely hidden and
ignored until a calamity occurs, whereupon people look around in disbelief and can't fathom how what's
happening around them and to them is happening. Korzybski predicted that all sorts of economic,
military, and social catastrophes would plague us until the world in our heads better mapped the world
outside, and this financial "crisis" seems to be a prime example.

Am I on the right track with this general assessment? I'll reread Milton's specific GS applications to the
situation, and like him welcome additional angles to the story.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/09/28 08:41
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hope you continue in your studies and applications of general semantics principles and explorations of
general semantics as a system and a discipline. This might take some time--hence "relentless". I want
to encourage you in this and am willing to help in anyw ay I can. We have our diverse interests and each
one of us bring what we bring in our encounter, not with general semantics, but with increments of the
discipline. We are not all relentless in our efforts to continue in our efforts to understand: Some of us it
seems to me, are relentless in continuous redefining and critiqueing increments, forgetting to critique
their critiqueing. We are diverse. That can't be helped. But I think when we focus mainly on what's
missing in any thing, we tend to miss what's there that's worthwhile, and I think, we benefit less. Every
now and again I come across someone whom seems to me to have an 'instinctive'-can't be taught feel of
the power and value of the discipline for advancing some of our human be-ing in the world, even at the
earlier stages of their encounter. I think that not only the survival of the discipline, but also that its
advancement and aliveness depend greatly on such individuals and their relentless studies and
applications.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/04 10:05
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I heard President Bush say after the 'House' had passed the "bail out" bill that 'Government should
intervene only when it is necessary.' In terms of a calculus approach (Study of a continuous function by
following its development through indefinitely small steps): I am not saying that there should be minutely
, hourly, or daily intervention. But it seems to me a policy that allows "markets" to regulate themselves
ignores the factor that "markets' involve human beings selling , lending, borrowing, etc., minute by
minute in a working day, could be described in general semantics terms as a "highly intensionally
oriented policy". From an extensional point of veiwing, human beings generally do not do well at
regulating themselves. If this was so we probably would not need general semantics, psychological and
psychotherapeutic interventions. Political intervention that occurs only when conditions considered a
"crisis" exists; a policy that ignores "geometric progression" of international financial transactions could
be euphemistically labelled " a very poor policy".

A policy that involves intervention only when many banks and other businesses have failed, losing
billions of dollars--with many expected to follow; where many thousands of individuals are losing their

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jobs and homes-- with many more expected to follow; when many cannot get loans, and who knows
what else might be coming: A policy based on the notion of a "free market" (in a world where as far as
we know everything is related----such a policy might well qualify among the set of policies that can be
labelled "unbelievably stupid".

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by viric - 2008/10/04 10:49
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Thank you for your contributions in this thread. I agree with all I remember you have said.

What do you propose to improve the current affairs? I mean, we ascertained the big intensional factors
involved in the government decisions. I also noticed quotes around "free market" or "free", and I think
you could mean 'I don't like it" by the quotes'. :)
According to proposal of solutions, I chose to support ATTAC.

What do you think about solutions?

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by eric_goodman - 2008/10/04 11:58
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Thanks Milton for these further probes. I've been trying lately to understand the place of calculus in
general semantics, and I'll add your example to my references. Viric, I interpreted Milton's quotes around
"free market" to suggest the term is highly abstract and not necessarily true to reality - in fact, in a similar
sense as you described "the economy" in a previous post. That's also how I use quotes in some cases
(see below) but I'll let Milton clarify his usage himself. Some further reflections as I continue to follow this
situation...

Are we immersed here in the problem Korzybski stressed, the disjunction between the reality of our
advanced technical surroundings and our outdated intensional attitudes toward it? While the language of
the "free market" is based on the underlying assumptions of 18th or 19th century capitalism, the reality of
what's actually going on is the outgrowth of advanced science and technology infused into the realm of
economics (electronic instantaneous trading, multi-level abstractions posing as economic "products,"
etc.) Considering its enormous complexity, the average person, pundit, politician and even economist
can't possibly understand the full workings and ramifications of this Frankensteinian global economic
system that's been created. Perhaps we then get to the point of such bewilderment and powerlessness
that it becomes possible for the powerful to step in and simply say "the sky is falling, and if you don't give
us 700 billion dollars, you're all doomed."

And what choice does that leave us? Those who resist, and suspect it's a swindle, still can't prove that
not doing something won't cause the pain that's predicted, no more than those who get the money can
prove that it will work. It's interesting though to remember that the last time we heard this language of
"the cost of inaction is too high..." we ended up with a war few wanted and many, at least in retrospect,
believe to be a catastrophe. Who's to say this will turn out any better?

I'm reading Korzybski's Olivet Lectures, where he reinforces the idea that sanity is based on

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predictability. We can't avoid shocks - this IS life, after all - but if we have a certain amount of
predictability, those shocks are less devastating and more manageable. Some have long predicted that
the financial house of cards would fall one day, but this opinion didn't generally make it out to "main
street," as we average Joes are called this week. So this all comes as quite a shock to many, hence the
great deal of anger we're seeing as well. And as you say Milton, "who knows what else may be coming."


I noticed that immediately after the bill was passed, pundits quickly shifted into "managing expectations"
mode, reminding us that "things won't improve overnight," "you have to be patient," etc. And now that the
government has the money, maybe the issue will recede from view? There's always the election to
distract us... Oh, and I see O.J. Simpson has resurfaced in the headlines today...

All very interesting. I'm finding it challenging and rewarding trying to understand this from both a media
ecology and general semantics standpoint. And I've been taping quite a bit of it for possible use in future
Thus Spoke The Spectacle videos...

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/05 09:18
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Hi Viric,

Re. Free: I mentioned and Eric elaborated: In a world where as far as we know anything that exists,
exists in relationships. From this we can predict that behaviors (political, banking, religious, cultural,
organizational, personal, etc.,) based on the notion of "free" will eventually be ruinous for us. "Free" can
be considered a "verbal map" that does not, from observations, fit the territory.

I looked up "free" in Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Under "free" I found over 40 entries. Here
are a few I selected: not subject to the control or domination of another; not determined by anything
beyond its own nature or being; not subject to government regulation; not hampered or restricted in its
normal operations; not unified with, attached to, combined with or mixed with something else; not
restricted or conforming to conventional forms. Free stresses the complete absence of external rule and
the full right to make all of one's own decisions (you are free to do as you like).

You might notice that in each of the above (except for the last one which in terms of banking and
financial activities is demonstrably false.) a relationship is mentioned.

I refered to these simply to say that from my interpretation of "free", banking, and financial activities are
not free. And if they were "free" before, this latest intervention (and there have been other government
interventions over the years), these activities no longer qualify as "free". It seems easy to forget that in
'democracies' and even in dictatorships, banks are registered and subject to banking laws, rules, and
regulations--as such they are not free according to my idea of free. Yet there exists a tendency (like
China's rulers eschewing the term "capitalist") to hold on to this intensional, highly inaccurate
(advantageous to many bankers, financiers, politicians, and others, but disadvantageous to the society
at large) verbal map "free".

With regards to solutions: In terms of order: I would prefer an investigation of "what's been going on"--
before hasty Two week $800 billion solutions are arrived at and implemented. (I heard President Bush
say a few days ago that 'a full investigation will take place'. I predict there will be many investigations by
Senators, Congress Men and Women and others.) Seems to me--in terms of order--solutions ought to

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follow investigations, and are more likely to be effective if they are based on a reasonably good map of a
problem.

(Viric, Please say something about ATTAC. I don't know about this.)

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/05 09:23
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From my evaluations: Well put Eric. You might consider(if you have not already so done) linking your
"spectacles" to appropriate general semantics principles.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by viric - 2008/10/05 09:43
_____________________________________


I agree with Milton and Eric. I also find this very interesting. I even bought that "General semantics of
Wall Street" through AbeBooks. :)

When I asked about the quotes around "free", I wondered if you used the quotes for a reason different
than Korzybski's quotes. I'm still not used to reading a GS-forum.

About ATTAC... it comes from Ignacio Ramonet, a chief in the publication Le Monde Diplomatique,
which you may know. They publish it in many countries and languages. The association is strongly
related to the anti-globalization movement, and it almost founded the World Social Forums started some
years ago. The association proposes a tax on international money transactions, which can act as a
regulation factor on how big the transactions are done - somehow similar to the money cost (the
borrowing interest from the central bnacs) helps regulating the amount of money in circulation.
Moreover, the money collected through that tax can be used to help the countries under development.
As I understand, the international money transactions are now so big, based on speculation (currency
market, stock market, ...), with movements so quick between countries, that these totally unstabilize the
monetary policies. I understand that the ATTAC people want to slow down the influence of financial
markets into monetary policies.

They have enough worldwide success, I think. In my country, they spend a lot of time educating people,
offering free world economy lessons, in order to help people understand the influence of the financial
world to them. They also try to speak often with politicians, which often don't know any well at all about
those affairs.

I try to benefit from their education meetings, I try to explain what I learn to my friends, and I support
them by a small amount of money regularly - so I'm not quite active working for a new financial world.

Regards,
Lluís.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/06 11:41
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From my latest explorations: This involves "intensional orientation; words not thing-situ-processes, etc.,
they are used to represent; structural similarity; forms of representation; consciousness of abstracting
and others.

Listening to "60 Minutes" on CBS last night I heard about "Credit Default Swap". Below is a
representation of my present understanding from what I heard.

In terms of "structural similarity" ('This' is in someways like that.): I will scale things down to 100 of us.
Let's say Milton, Eric, Lluis, Ben, and 96 others are names of banks and ationinvestment firms. Let's say
my bank "M Bank" gets a package of mortgages from 100 property development firms. Without checking
for the financial soundness of these development firms, I loan them 1 million dollars each. I am now out
100 million dollars. (All the other banks are doing something similar with developers.) I (M Bank) go, say
to Bank Eric. I say to Bank Eric: I have a package of 100 million dollars--Let's do business. Loan me 100
million dollars. I know this is risky for you. But here is the deal: I (M Bank), will give you a Credit Default
Contract" for the 100 million dollars you are loaning me. You have nothing to lose. (Note: Bank Eric,
Lluis, Ben and other 96 banks are doing this among each other). The CDS contract is designed
(deliberately) to encourage deals since with this "Swap" the 'contractees' think-believe ("intensionally"
)since they did not check that they have nothing to lose. The Swap is in effect an "insurance".

But the word "insurance" is deliberatly not used. How so? If this deal (the Credit Default Swap" is
represented as "insurance", it will now come under Federal Regulations. So Bank M and all the other
contractors avoid this regulation by labelling the deal a "Credit Default Swap".

To simplify (I hope): I entice ( attract artfully) you and 99 others to take a risky loan from me to go into a
car dealership business. The enticement involves I the lender, giving you an insurance, against a loan
you got from me, which I call "Credit Default Swap"). I call it a "CDS" to avoid Federal Regulations. I
know that Federal Regulations require me to show that I have financial resources to back my insurance
deals in case dealerships fail and claims start to come in. Car dealerships fail. You can imagine the
amount of money involved with these 99 deals I made. And when 99 other loaners are making similar
Credit Default Swaps scam "among themselves worldwide."

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by eric_goodman - 2008/10/06 13:12
_____________________________________


Thanks for that example Milton. I've been told in a general sense that the whole thing resembles a kind
of pyramid scheme, but your example makes the mechanics clearer to me.

Here's another shot of my own at this "free market" thing via a GS perspective, also on the subject of
intensional orientation as well as multiordinality...

On page 14 of Science and Sanity, Korzybski defines multiordinal terms as "extremely flexible" and "full
of conditionality"; terms that have "no general meaning . . . for their meanings are determined solely by
the given context." He says that understanding a term's multiordinal characteristics creates a "semantic
freedom that does not result in confusion."


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Lluis proposed "the economy" as a multiordinal term, and it seems as if "free market" should fall into this
category as well. Korzybski said something to the effect of "those who rule our symbols, rule us." "Free
market" is one of the dominating symbols of our society, but who gets to define and employ it? Those
who pushed for deregulation of the financial industry used "free market" as a main justification. Those
who amassed outrageous fortunes from that deregulation claimed justification from the "free market"
working to reward "innovation" (another multiordinal term). The image/brand of "free market" is built and
reinforced to support not only this result, but also the rightfulness of a corner deli failing if its sandwiches
aren't as good as the ones from the deli on the next block.

The reality, however, as pointed out for decades by critics like Noam Chomsky, is that the "free market"
only applies to the small and relatively powerless (the deli owner, for example) who are expected to
compete successfully in the marketplace, all on their own, or go bankrupt and disappear. Being a
multiordinal term, it doesn't quite apply the same way in other contexts, such as when huge industries
melt down and suddenly need to be "bailed out."

Now, I know that most people don't know terms like "multiordinality," but the public anger over the bailout
suggests to me that people are coming to understand the "flexibility" and "conditionality" of this key term
by another name: hypocrisy. When Chomsky and others described how our "economy" privatizes gains
and socializes losses, their evidence (extensional reality) was largely rebuffed by the common images in
people's heads as to how the economy works (intensional orientation). Now that this argument is
demonstrated in such a staggering way, with nearly a trillion dollars in private debt transferred to the
public (paid for by our tax dollars), it may not seem as loony to those who previously dismissed it out of
hand. Some, it seems, still refuse to consider the possibility that this is one huge swindle, perhaps
because of the pain such cognitive dissonance would cause. I'm not saying it defintely is a swindle, since
I'm not in a position to know that for sure (non-allness?). But given the context and my previous
reflections and analyses, I'm suspicious.

Would we as a society be better off today if we better understood the multiordinality of our most
important terms, and the way those terms are vulnerable to manipulation by "those who rule our
symbols"? I think so.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/07 08:37
_____________________________________


In terms of "structural similarity" "pyramid scheme' did come up for me. Some at the top tend to be the
winners when some at both top and bottom default. But many at the bottom of the scheme suffer more.

From reports--if true: The 'Japanese' bankers and investors seem to have done some time-binding from
their breakdown some years ago. They have not been as strongly affected as other countries. They
were more strict in their regulatings.

In terms of multiordinality (and fantasizing): I imagine a time when the political structure has advanced to
the level where both 'politicians' and 'voters' became acquainted with general semantics principles and
learn how to "use" them to improve their understanding and reduce confusions.

I also fantasize--although this seems more doable--a time when more students of the discipline learn to
apply the principles and go beyond talking, re-defining, writing, discussing, criticizing, etc. (not that this
is not important). In one sense I see giving "higher priority, more importance, more significance", etc., to
talking, writing, redefining, discussing (without being extensionally grounded in, and through practice) as

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"intensional behavior". In practice, one is likely to learn more about what one is talking, writing or
discussing about. I think it's up to the Institute to address this in publications, seminars, and so on.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by tjohnson - 2008/10/07 11:36
_____________________________________


How to apply GS to the financial crises? Well very briefly, I think that it's a case of valuing the symbol
(various financial instruments) over what they represent and so there is a reversal of the natural order.
For example, someone may buy a property that is too expensive for them and over-valued because a
mortgage broker has convinced them they can afford it. The "reality" is that they cannot afford it and so it
is a very high risk loan at the outset. When this high risk loan is sold to another company this risk is
concealed because it is assumed that the risk is the same as for other traditional mortgages with a low
foreclosure rate which is accomplished by qualification procedures which should weed out risky loans.
So investors who value the symbols of wealth (on paper) more than "actual" wealth take risks and
sometime they lose, in this case they lose big. I have always had serious reservations about the idea of
getting money for nothing - simply because you already have money and this idea is ingrained in our
"capitalist" paradigm but it seems like it will continue to cause periodic breakdowns because in the end
the real value of money is doctrinal - as a sign of human agreement and cooperation.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Bruce Kodish - 2008/10/07 16:44
_____________________________________


As a McCain voter, I find that I can agree in general terms with a great deal of what has been said here
so far. I find it curious though that the recent economic situation seems to have given an uplift to Barack
Obama's campaign. Bad government regulations, including the Democrat-sponsored Community
Reinvestment Act, certainly seem to me to have had something to do with this multi-causal 'disaster' to
the financial system. In other words, it seems to ignorant ol' me that the kind of governmental
intervention that so-called 'liberal' Democrats often favor had a significant role in making the mess.

I found an interesting to me Youtube video on this subject which I put on one of my blogs (where I dare
to opine politically). For anyone interested, here's the link:
http://www.newciv.org/nl/newslog.php/_v256/__show_article/_a000256-000243.htm

Any opinions (with a GS-tilt please) ?

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by LanceStrate - 2008/10/08 08:44
_____________________________________


FYI: http://thecalifornian.com/article/20081008/OPINION/810080320/1014/OPINION

============================================================================


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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/09 11:04
_____________________________________


"Please see my blog on Obama, too, Bruce. I ask the same question - why are people voting for Obama
and what makes them think he's qualified and better for America and elsewhere.:"

In terms of "multimeaning" I ask qualify for what, to do what and for whom? And better in what way? In
terms of a scientific approach: "Better", and "qualified" can be thought of as 'theories'. We cannot know
the degree and extent of "betterness, and qualification" unitl the person is put in the position to
demonstate this. How can we know anyone's level and degree of competence until she-he is put to the
test? In terms of time-binding: I think it was 'qualified' politicians who got 'us' (internationally speaking)
into Iraq, Vietnam. And now some are even mentioning Iran and North Korea. Is there so little
time-binding learning? And BTW,it seems to me a large number of 'qualified' individuals have created
the international financial mess that is now affecting us all.

Now which one should I believe? 'Democrats' say 'Republicans' are on the side of deregulation.
Republicans say it's the 'Democrats' who are on the side of derugulation. Words are not the
situation-process that we use them to represent. In terms of 'non-elementalism', both parties contributed
to the mess.I do not take the words of either side as fact. As far as I am concerned, political thinking in
America seems simplistic and poorly developed at many levels--politicians, reporters, voters. (There are
exceptions of course but they seem to me to be in the minority.) I have not heard discussions on the
merits of issues. Discussions I have heard among 'the qualified' focus mainly on individuals; their
standing in the polls; what they need to say; how they performed; who 'won' a debate; "What will you
(candidate)do for me"? etc. I have not heard any discussion on the merits of this or that proposal, issue,
program or promise. And less I forget: Voting for a candidate because she is a woman I evaluate as
politically unsophisticated as voting for a candidate because he is 'black'.


. How do we change that? That' my Big Question.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/09 11:07
_____________________________________


Please excuse mistakes in the last post. The computer sometimes sends things before I am ready.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/09 19:49
_____________________________________


Here I apply "asymmetric relationship", structural similarity, inertia, visualization and others.
Visualize this. The bank has just been robbed . The alarm went off and the police arrived on the scene
just when the crooks are escaping in their high speed getaway vehicles. They go through all the stop
signs and red lights. All the police in their cars obeying regulations and traffic laws, stop at all red lights
and stop signs. Who do you think has the advantage?


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American forces and their allies have to act within certain international regulations, answer to electors
and politicians, and follow their own constitution, The Geneva and other conventions. Al qaeda and
talibans do not have to follow any rules and answer to any committee. In terms of "inertia" (resistance to
change) and "momentum" resistance to change in direction and rate of change of speed, they can be as
ruthless as they want to be. They act as situations suit them. They can be, and are more flexible in
changing strategies and tactics. They can more easily adjust their planning and activity maps to respond
to changing territorial situations. American and coalition forces have long traditions of behavior. They will
be unable to change strategies and tactics as fast and as frequently as the other side. Which side do
you think has the advantage? (I saw on TV sometimes ago a film of Polish cavalry in the first world war,
gallantly galloping out to confront German tanks.)

The talibans and al qaeda know their territories much better than foreign forces. Not a level "warring
field". American and coalition soldiers move around mainly in easily identifiable uniforms: Imagine you
are at the market buying something. Or you are in line waiting to be interviewed for a job. The person
besides you have a bomb strapped to their waist--no identifying uniform. This person looks like any other
individual waiting to be interviewed. You don't know who is enemy who is friend.

How can any army win a war where soldiers can't 'see' or identify the enemy? A highly visible soldier
and an invisible enemy--a very asymmetric relationship. From what I have read, Afghanistan tribes and
warlords have been fighting each other for centuries. They come together when there is an enemy from
the outside. They have developed great skills in fighting in their territories--the Brittish, the Russians, and
now Americans. They, I imagine will have great pride in beating off 'these intruders'. In other words they
will be as highly motivated to stop the other side from winning as the other side will be motivated not to
leave in surrender and disgrace. In terms of asymmetric relationship, as difficult as it might be, I would
counsel the other side to leave before it goes bankrupt.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by tjohnson - 2008/10/11 08:37
_____________________________________


There is a brief explanation of the real estate bubble here;

http://mises.org/story/3130

For a long time now I have questioned the central banks' policy of controlling inflation by lowering
interest rates. I have always felt they should be controlling money supply based on economic activity. So
if there is a lot of activity then some mechanism for increasing money supply should be in place and vice
versa. The actual interest rate could be established by supply and demand. It appears they have
managed to increase the money supply (which happens when money is loaned out by banks) by
keeping the interest rate so low for so long that it encouraged people to borrow way more money than
they normally would have. This fueled the speculation in the real estate market and drove prices way
higher than they should have been. This in turn led people to borrow more money and so the cycle
continues until it falls apart under it's own weight, so to speak. Look at the graphs showing commercial
real estate loans and mortgage rates in the last 5 years.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/10/12 10:25


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_____________________________________


On the brighter side: We live in a world of change.

In high school I remember reading about "The South Sea Bubble" of 1720. It was an economic bubble
that occurred through speculation in the stock of The South Sea Company. The company had been
granted a monopoly to trade with South America under a treaty with Spain whilst the company assumed
the national debt of England. ...The company then set to talking up its stock with "the most extravagant
rumours" of the value of its potential trade in the New World which was followed by a wave of
"speculating frenzy". The share price had risen from the time the scheme was proposed: from £128 in
January 1720, to £175 in February, £330 in March and, following the scheme's acceptance, to £550 at
the end of May. (Google for more on this bubble.)

There have been many bubbles, and one can predict there will be many more to the degree that
investors, lenders, borrowers, speculators, etc., forget that marks-words on papers are not what they are
buying or investing in.

'England' recovered from the South sea Bubble. 'America' will. My "bubble theory" says that we live in a
pulsating world. Things come into existence. Some grow, expand, prosper, and survive...for a time.
(There was once a Brittish Empire. Spain, Portugal, Rome, France, were once superpowers. Fads come
and go. GM was once very big and very powerful (Remember "What's good for GM is good for America?
The price of stocks goes up and down.) Some entertainers last longer than others. And so on, and on.)
Bubbles move around. Some bubbles merge with others and expand. Some bump into others and
sometimes form new bubbles--Sometimes they bump--explosively destroying others and themselves.

 We live in a world of change. And changes change. Everything can be considered a function of time.
(Even those things we call objects.) In terms of the 'calculus' we can expect "maximas and
minimas"--ups and downs, waxing and waining, growth and decay, speeding ups and slowing downs.
Watch your breathing. Observe your chest rise and fall. Look at a pot of slow boiling water or soup.
(That's where, applying structural similarity (relative invariance under transformation), I got my idea for
the bubble theory.) Take a deep breath. See how long you can hold it. Everything can be considered a
function of time.

 The international financial world is presently going through a 'minima'. (A reminder that "To be is to be
in relationships--good ones, bad ones, many kinds ".) Many whom have lost their houses and
investments are experiencing deep financial and psychological minima (called distress, depression,
anxiety, etc.). Like maximas, minimas don't last---except when the function is zero--no change--non
-existence. As humans, we have the ability to "hope". From this point of viewing, this might be a good
time to invest-- carefully, time-bindingly keeping in mind "The word is not the thing it is presented to
represent."

Unfortunately, this point of viewing might come too late for many--at this time. But we mustn't forget
there will be other bubbles. They come and go. As time-binders we can learn from our mistakes. Let's
hope politicians remember the many whom were duped--including themselves.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/12/01 08:59
_____________________________________




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Hi Viric,

The idea behind the experiment was this. The persons with whom you spoke have been conditioned by
let's say 60,000 minutes, hours, times, instances of thinking, and seeing things a particular way
compared to your one encounter. This asymmetric (60,000 to 1) relationship can be considered quite
powerful. Think how much easier to continue with what they 'know', to stay with the fasmiliar, etc., than
to change to what might be seen as "your way"? They will likely apply their kind of thinking and
evaluating to whatever you share about general semantics. In terms of "asymmetric relationship", the
odds are against anyone suggesting (as they are more likely to see this) that they modify, or change
their familiar, and so far, reasonable and useful way of 'seeing', talking about, relating with and doing
things.

You stand a better chance of being heard or listened to if you wait for opportunities when they are more
likely to be receptive: Times when they share some problem, conflict, disappointment, etc. with you. In
the meantime, to be your best prepared, you have to work at setting a worthwhile exploring example
through your own behaviour--your speaking, reasoning, clear thinking, respectful conversing etc. You
might also think of expanding your skills and knowledge in conversation without "lecturing". And it could
be worth your while to to continue reading, thinking about, and 'inproving' your understanding of general
semantics principles. (There is no end to this as far as I can presently see.) Too many in my opinion,
after having taken a few courses or seminars, read a few books, etc., stop their continuing re-education
using general semantics principles as evaluating and behavioural guides and standards. You might visit
and study my latest article "Practicing Conscious Time-binding" with the accompanying "chalice" full of
general semantics evaluating and behavioural guides.

Milton

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by viric - 2008/12/01 09:35
_____________________________________


Thank you Milton,

I don't think I'm not understanding why they don't update their behaviour. I understand that. I was asking
for some proposals, in order to get "better results". You answered about that in your second paragraph.

I'm reading about GS since 2003 or so, and kept on updating my behaviour, and I haven't stopped by
now. Luckily this week came a new stock of six or seven new books from the IGS, I bought. :)
I'm liking a lot that "Culture, Language and Behaviour". I will give a lecture on "Language influence on
perception" the next weekend, and I think I will grab a lot from that book.

I still haven't read anything from Bois, which I'd like to do very soon. Meanwhile, I haven't finished the
S&S - I'm in chapter 35.

Moving back to some impressive people evaluations... Yesterday I spoke with a college professor. When
meetings with foreigners (who don't speak Catalan or Spanish), she uses Spanish. Although when
speaking with her, she concluded several times "it would be better if I spoke in the meetings in Catalan",
she hasn't tried applying the result of her conclusions. And I don't think she plans to apply them any
soon.
I don't think she was aware of that incongruence. She wasn't feeling like her words don't match her
behaviour. When asking about that incongruence, she smiled and barely answered anything.

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I guess you have seen much people behaving like her. If you have any more advices, don't hesitate
telling me about them. :)

Regards,
Lluís.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/12/01 10:41
_____________________________________


When meetings with foreigners (who don't speak Catalan or Spanish), she uses Spanish. Although when
speaking with her, she concluded several times "it would be better if I spoke in the meetings in Catalan",
she hasn't tried applying the result of her conclusions. And I don't think she plans to apply them any
soon.

I don't think she was aware of that incongruence. She wasn't feeling like her words don't match her
behaviour.

When asking about that incongruence, she smiled and barely answered anything.

Hi Viric,

Great that you are reading many books and acquainting your self with the discipline from diverse
perspectives. Please keep in mind: Korzybski's caution Science And Sanity, Fifth Edition, Page xxxi. I
paraphrase: If the method and principles are not applied, but merely read and talked about, no result can
be expected.

Per your invitation for advice: I would strongly recommend you do not ask about or mention what you
perceive or evaluate as someone's "incongruent behaviour". This will very likely be taken as (semantic
reaction) "a criticism", and reacted to--probably resentfully--in terms of "Who do you think you are? This
will very likely ruin any potential future chances, not only related to sharing general semantics, but also
possible future social interactions--This person might do whatever they can to avoid speaking with you.

As a student of the discipline: I suggest that you work to "catch yourself" in your own incongruent
behaviours. We all, including me, behave incongruently from time to time. Also work to catch your own
semantics reaction to what you perceive as criticism or reprimand in your social or professional
interactions.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by viric - 2008/12/01 16:49
_____________________________________


Hello Milton,

I wrote these latests English reports quite fast, and I don't know this language enough to control
"rudeness". :)
According to feedback I have from some of my acquitances, I don't look any rude when speaking. And

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when I got acquainted with the mentioned girl, I think she considered me friendly and not annoying.
Moreover I wasn't alone with her, but we spoke in group, also with my wife, and none of them noticed
any rudeness in my words. But when I reported here with a few words in English, I may have written that
"too rude".

Regarding your cite about "apply your knowledge", that's what I try most. And I also have very positive
feedback about that. I pay a lot of attention to "applying knowledge", and I care about me and others
following this same advice. That's how all this thread started. I feel like I have to exemplify any
advantage people can acquire by GS, first with my behaviour updates.

I'm not sure why are we following this in the "financial problems" forum thread - I guess you couldn't write
in my original thread, as Ben once reported. Btw, I finally got also the "General Semantics of Wall Street"
book, but by now it seems to me more an introduction to GS than to anything financial. I've not finished
reading it.

Regards,
Lluís.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/12/03 08:21
_____________________________________


Hi Lluis,

You ask: I'm not sure why are we following this in the "financial problems" forum thread - I guess you
couldn't write in my original thread, as Ben once reported?

Here is an opportunity to do some "consciousness of abstracting practice": I assume: You were
speculating, theorizing, guessing, inferring, when you wrote "I guess you couldn't write in my original
thread". See how many more inferences, theories, guesses, etc. you can come up with. This exercise is
one way to practice general semantics in terms of not identifying: To consciously make up as many
inferences, theories, guesses, etc., when we try to, make sense of, understand, explain, and so on,
events, happenings, situations, behaviours, etc.

BTW. See if you can recall: Were you aware of making an inference (if that's what happened) when you
wrote "I guess you couldn't write in my original thread"?

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by eric_goodman - 2008/12/05 11:23
_____________________________________


Here's an article I came across yesterday by David Williamson that I think relates to this thread:

Financial Crisis Could Herald a Renaissance of Radical Thought

Some excerpts:



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Aneurin Bevan was able to launch the NHS and build a million homes in the aftermath of World War II. In
the calm after the most terrible of storms there was a readiness to think the unthinkable.

The televised horrors of the Vietnam War and the scandal of Watergate stripped the American political
establishment of moral authority and emboldened protesters to push for a liberal transformation of
society.
Captains of world finance are now similarly discredited.

The time is ripe for a new generation of Bevans to step forward with a vision of social justice relevant to
an interdependent world threatened by violent extremism and ecological disaster -- but where are they?

Just as Bevan saw the need for a health service and houses, this bankrupt planet needs a rescue
package.
Folly has been exposed; now, there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build anew.

(Bevan was the Welsh Minister of Health from 1945-1951)

I was asked following my Thus Spoke The Spectacle presentation at the AKML Symposium a few weeks
back whether critical, even "disturbing" works like mine hit home more in times of crisis, and that's
absolutely what we've found. We've definitely encountered more receptive, engaged audiences following
crises such as the implosion of the dot-com bubble, September 11 attacks, the Iraq invasion, and now
the financial meltdown.

I'm not sure I'd consider this a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity as Williamson puts it, being that there
have been numerous shocks within the last ten years alone, but I do think that "radical" viewpoints, be
they in art, philosophy, politics, etc., are heard better in times of trouble. Which seems to tie in with the
creation of general semantics in the first place, as it's an outgrowth of Korzybski's reaction to World War
I and his belief that both a new consciousness and a new human being are possible in the wake of that
catastrophe (something that I and others talked about a bit during the Symposium). So I thought I'd post
the article and these thoughts as encouragement for us to avail ourselves of this opportunity to promote
the value of general semantics (and media ecology) in helping to understand and deal with this latest
crisis, something we've been trying to hash out in this thread.

As I see it, general semantics makes the radical demand that we live according to the realities of our
scientific/technological world, not the portrayals of those realities. Is this one of the "radical thoughts"
that people may be more receptive to in the light of current circumstances? Or is it back to American Idol
etc. for most as soon as the meltdown becomes boring?

Eric

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/12/07 10:59
_____________________________________


Hi Eric,

I have looked at almost 100 posts on the "Obama Change Site" (). So far, I have seen only two posts
that touch on the "thinking", "philosophy", etc., that contribute to the present situation (free enterprise,
supply and demand, minimal government regulation, poor valuing of critical thinking; debating on "bailing
out companies" instead of thinking first, giving higher priority to helping workers; "thinking in terms of

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"bailing out banks", "Wall Street", "The Auto Companies", instead of focusing first on helping home
owners and workers; the ethics involved in lending individuals money to buy houses they cannont afford,
two valued thinking involving "capitalism or socialism", interconnectedness, and so on). I am concerned
that not much will change at those and other levels of "thinking". In terms of "system function" we can
expect the prevailing way of thinking to generate future crises.

I think The Institute could make its contributions by putting out invitations for articles for a special ETC:
publication "General Semantics And The Present National and International World Financial (not only)
Crisis". Some 15 years ago or so when "Critical Thinking" flared up, I suggested we take advantage of
that opportunity--it didn't happen. Apart from an article I wrote which was published in ETC:, "General
Semantics a Critical and Meta-critical System" (see ), nothing else was done. In terms of "radical
viewpoints are heard better in times of trouble"), I hope The Institute will take advantage of this
opportunity and something will be done this time. (I have sent three E-mails to the editor of ETC: over
the past 3 months on other issues with no response. Maybe someone else will have better luck with
this.)

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by eric_goodman - 2008/12/08 08:20
_____________________________________


I think a special edition of ETC: on the financial crisis is a great idea Milton, and I'd be happy to submit
my thoughts for consideration if that comes about.

Eric

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/12/08 09:50
_____________________________________


Following Eric's post: I suggest that anyone interested in seeing or contributing to such an issue write to
The Institute about this. I think such a special publication issue of ETC: might serve to emphasize the
relevance of general semantics in national and international affairs, and a system that goes beyond
individual self-help.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by LanceStrate - 2008/12/09 14:09
_____________________________________


Milton Dawes wrote:
Following Eric's post: I suggest that anyone interested in seeing or contributing to such an issue write to
The Institute about this. I think such a special publication issue of ETC: might serve to emphasize the
relevance of general semantics in national and international affairs, and a system that goes beyond
individual self-help.



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Milton, I just find it surprising that someone as well versed in GS as you, and a Trustee of the IGS to
boot, would use such a high level abstraction as "The Institute" in this context. As a Trustee, and
Ambassador-At-Large, are you yourself not "The Institute"? Why don't you offer to collect articles on this
topic that you could then submit as a whole to the editor of ETC, Bill Petkanas, or alternately why don't
you contact Bill and offer to do so? If you truly want to apply GS and not just talk about it, let's start with
applying GS to how you represent the Institute, and let's start by you operationalizing helpful suggestions
such as this one.

I certainly think this is a good idea, and would support the effort. Here's a suggestion for you--try
contacting W. H. C. Bassetti:
http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Mental-Game-Wall-Street/dp/0910944172/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=bo
oks&qid=1228849465&sr=1-9. Perhaps you can also draw on you long experience with the Institute to
think of others who have some financial acumen and might have something to say on the matter, and
then proceed to get in touch with them.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2008/12/24 10:19
_____________________________________


About socio-political-economic-maps.

Verbal-map (1): a classless society; common ownership; from each according to his ability; to each
according to his needs.

Verbal-map (2): free enterprise; private or corporate ownership of capital goods , by investments that are
determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are
determined mainly by competition in a free market.

Would any one like to join in commenting and exploring these two maps with regards to applications and
degree of map/territory accuracy; identity, and other general semantic principles?

Some years ago, the idea came to me that as socio-economic-political systems, depending on degree of
regulation, capitalism, in practice, might eventually be as harmful and possibly even more so than
communism. (Please note the terms "eventually " and "might". The idea is one still being explored
through this invitation.)

P.S. I sent a note to President Reagan suggesting it was a waste of energy and money fighting
"commuinism" since it woud eventually self-destruct. In the letter I gave my reasons in support of this
prediction. (To my surprise, I did receive a response from a secretary of an undersecretarry thanking me
for my letter.)

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/03/15 10:48
_____________________________________


General Semantics and Hope



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The following involves application of two general semantics principles (among others). They are "the
relative invariance under transformation (structural similarity), (this is somewhat like that); and the
"non-elementalism" (not conceptually and 'behaviourally' separating what actually is not separate)
principles. In terms of "non-elementalism", we don't separate our thinking about principles from their
relationships to what's going on. (After all, the principles emerged from the awareness of a pattern
(structural similarities) emerging from observations).

Here is the application: If some businesses, companies, etc. are "too big to fail"-- We can reasonably
infer that "America--being much bigger than any of its embedded busineses and companies--is also too
big to fail". And in terms of "history" (structural similarity), the present happening is not the first. And 'we'
'survived' the others. Please keep in mind: It is not my intent to minimize the misery, struggles, and
feelings of hopelessness, that many of us are now experiencing from loss of income, loss of job, loss of
self-value, etc.

With "conscious time-binding" (using general semantics principles to structure our investigations and
understanding), we (individuals, 'business people', 'politicians', etc.) can learn and apply new ways
(updated policies, regulatons, philosophies, (vision, attitude, values, etc.), etc.) to minimize the effects on
the rest of us, of the next set of schemes and schemers.

I specifically emphasize ""philosophy". If we don't change the ways we think about things, we will very
likely continue to think-behave (non-elementalism) and react in our usual ways. We usually change--or
attempt to--despite our political, wrangling, and what the philosopher Bernard Lonergan call 'the social
surd'. (See his "Insight, A Study of Human Understanding" page 229).

We usually change. What general semantics offers are ways to change the ways we have been
changing so that we can achieve 'better' results.

Thinking-valuing general semantics as a "practical philosophy", is one way we can apply its principles to
update our thinking towards achieving better, more desirable, more satisfying results. From personal
experience, I can say that using the tools and standards of general semantics, we can do better.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/03/25 12:11
_____________________________________


Some more general semantics applications.
This involves "function", "relative invariance under transformation", and others.

A proposition: One of President Obama's administration's greatest obstacles to being effective and
efficient in addressing and dealing with the present national and international financial crisis involves
"speed" and "impatience". (Speed as "measure of 'change' in time". "Change" can involve change in
position in time, or measure of change in time, of any activity.)

Function: The present world financial crisis is a function of speed, impatience, and greed (speed,
impatience, and greed as significant variables).

Starting with "greed": We can 'think of' (Please note: I am not defining "greed", or impatience) greed as
"the speed with which one is determined and resolved to make as much money, as much profit, to
acquire as much of whatever, as one possibly can, legally, illegally, immorally, etc.)



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Impatience can be thought of in terms of "how fast one expects change--despite the poor understanding
of the complexity, extent, multidimensionality of a problem; despite the resources available; the
individuals, and groups, opposition parties, etc., with conflicting interests, concerns, different points of of
viewing, and so on"

It seems to me: Too many mortgage agents, house buyers, bank managers, agents and managers of
trust companies, and others, with their financial "instruments", were very impatient in "acquiring more,
and more, and more, as fast as possible".

I propose that there is a great deal of impatience involved in expecting to see immediate results from
'stimulus packages'.

Visualize how long it takes to stop a fast moving train. In terms of "structural similarity" (relative
invariance..."), compare this with what it might take to effectively stop or slow down the present
international financial situation.

Think of impatience of many reporters, journalists, individuals, opposition parties, and others in
expecting and often demanding quick action and results.

Think of speed and impatience in relationship to "how fast" anyone can start to understand the extent of
a problem. Think of "quality and effectiveness of one's judgment and decision" as a function of amount of
information available, accuracy of the information, up-to-datedness of information, and the quality of the
interpretation of the available information.

Think of speed and impatience in terms of expectations, and reaction to expectations, resulting in quick
reaction to apply 'stimulus packages' before arriving at a reasonable good understanding of the extent
and complexity of the problem.

Last night the President responded to a question related to his "two day delay" in responding to the news
of "AIG bonuses" with something to the effect 'I like to understand something before I speak." I infer he is
reacting to situations at a speed he would much prefer to be slower than the rush of those who want
quick results. So I propose that one of his greatest obstacles to effectively dealing with this international
crisis has to do with "speed and impatience".

I would like to read some of your thoughts on the situation--as you have analysed it so far, and as you
presently undertand it.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/03/25 17:41
_____________________________________


I forgot to mention the very significant contribution to the financial mess resulting from the "credit rating
agencies" involvement.

My present understanding: The banking, financial, hedgefund and other 'interests' depend a great deal
on the ratings they get from credit rating companies. The price of their stocks, their credibility, their
attractiveness, etc., depend on good ratings. But credit rating companies have as clients the very
'interests' mentioned above. They are paid millions of dollars for their services by the clients they rate!!! If
credit rating company "A" does not give a good (high) rating to clients "X", "Y", "Z", etc., clients "X", "Y",
"Z" etc., will seek out other credit raters who will give them high ratings. Credit rater "A" stands to lose

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millions of dollars. So quite understandably, they give good ratings to their clients. (In other fields, this
kind of mutually rewarding interrelationship has been labelled "conflict of interest".)

Except for those who created (and deliberately so) these very complex 'instruments', not many
understand just what they are investing in, and the level of risk they take in investing theirs and other
peoples' millions of dollars. So they depend (quite intensionally) on, accept the ratings given by the credit
rating agencies, and invest accordingly. In addition: Most of the individuals in government agencies
whom are entrusted to regulate, do not understand much of these 'instruments'. So incredibly, they
depend on the very people they are supposed to be regulating...to help them design the laws that would
be applied in regulating them!!!!

What do 'we' the public know of these goings on?

In terms of time-binding: How can we be better informed? If many of us can be so duped, and suffer so
much, shouldn't we expect better representation from the individuals we elect to represent us? Should
we not expect and demand that our representatives find ways to educate us with regards to matters like
this, so we can better protect ourselves from the schemes of financial schemers?

What do you think?

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by tjohnson - 2009/03/27 21:06
_____________________________________


One thing I have heard is that the US government implemented a policy whereby banks were rated
according to how many high risk mortgages they approved. So they actually coerced banks into going
against their own policies with regard to mortgages.

The thousands of mortgage defaults and foreclosures in the "subprime" housing market (i.e., mortgage
holders with poor credit ratings) is the direct result of thirty years of government policy that has forced
banks to make bad loans to un-creditworthy borrowers. The policy in question is the 1977 Community
Reinvestment Act (CRA), which compels banks to make loans to low-income borrowers and in what the
supporters of the Act call "communities of color" that they might not otherwise make based on purely
economic criteria.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo125.html

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/03/30 09:43
_____________________________________


I wonder if there were any 'banks' that did not give loans to individuals earning $15,000 annually, to
purchase $250,000 homes? I would consider this "good banking practice". I find it difficult to imagine that
'politicians' encouraged 'bad' banking operations.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/06/12 09:45
_____________________________________


I have never taken a course in finance or economics, but listening to a PBS program a few days ago I
heard something which I keep wondering about. Paul Solmon was explaining the "capital requirement
and the "stress test"--"an analysis of the bank's balance sheet" (his words). A sample balance sheet
was shown with "Assets" on one side and "Liabilities" on the other side."Assets" he said "was what the
bank lays claim to". This includes: "Cash", "Fixed assets" like buildings, ATM's etc.--plus "the bank's
investments--mainly its loans to businesses and mortgages to consumers". This last bit is what I am
wondering about!

If banks lend money, or back mortgages, the money is no longer in their hands, and they have no
certainty that the loan will be paid, or that they will profit from their mortgage or other investments. But
by balance sheet rules, they claim these as assets--and they can get loans, raise capital (by selling
stocks etc.), get ratings to support their efforts to get loans and raise capital--all this based on money
they don't have in hand (or in vault).

Investments and retained earnings are the banks capital--the difference between the bank's earnings
and what it owes. From a bank analyst on the program. "Capital is the bank's cushion for losses; it's the
cash the banks put aside in case someone defaults on their loans or a security goes bad, whatever it is."
Bad loans are called "toxic assets". Capital is what the banks puts aside as cushion against bad loans (a
toxic asset). Regulators want 8-10% real cash capital underlying the banks assets (this will include bad
loans). I think that loans should not be called assets in the first place. Banks investments considered
assets seems to me to be a financial map that does not match the territory...so much of the bank's
operations depends on this basic characterization. So I predict that this aspect of the financial map will
unavoidably be a significant factor in creating future financial crisis.

If you have followed me so far: Is my analysis askew? Am I missing something here?

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by tjohnson - 2009/06/14 09:37
_____________________________________


I can imagine how debt can be considered an asset - for example, accounts receivable. If you are in a
business and you get a really large order this seems like good news on the surface but it creates
problems too. Now you need cash to fulfill the order to pay the suppliers while you wait for your money
from your customer. So you go to the bank and you can actually use your receivables as collateral for a
line of credit ie. the money owed to you is considered an asset.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/06/15 09:26
_____________________________________


Hi TJohnson,




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My contention is this: If I don't have the cash in hand I ought not to consider what amounts to
"expectation to have it" an asset. Despite the definition of asset--the words are not the cash. Sure, I can
lay hundreds of claims on moral and legal grounds--But the fact is "I don't have the money". In the
business world, the orderer can go out of business while the manufacturer or supplier is seeking a loan.
While the loan is being processed the orderer could have heard that the company's investments with Mr.
Madof no longer exist. The orderer's business could have burnt to the ground, etc., etc. There is no
certainty that money owed will be paid. A manufacturer or supplier can use an order as collateral--but
they do not have the money in hand...and haven't yet been paid by the orderer. And if banks give loans,
and orderers, suppliers, and other banks default--loaning banks do not have the money loaned
out--although banks can also use their loans as collaterals to get loans. You might visualize a possible
"domino situation" set up here. I think a finance system set up in this way (assets as "loans based on
expectations to be repaid") sits on shaky foundations and will collapse from time to time based on this
and other verbal financial structures.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by tjohnson - 2009/06/24 16:54
_____________________________________


I think you are applying principles of ordinary business to the money-lending business, which is different.
If 95% of loans are repaid, for example, then using statistical tools the banks are justified to consider
money owed to them as assets, it seems to me. It is when the loans are exceedingly risky (think
sub-prime mortgage scandal) that the same analysis would begin to devalue these assets.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/06/25 08:29
_____________________________________


Hi Tjohnson
I am suggesting that labelling money one doesn't have in hand (whether in banking or money lending
business, or any other financial transactions) as "asset" will eventually encourage exceedingly risky
loans. One gets loans on "assets", and one gets ratings for loans on "assets" one does not have. In a
highly competitive finanacial environment--I think too much rests on this claim...Too much rests on this
labelling--which I imagine was created mainly to present a positive financial front. I think it might be an
improvement to label as "asset" only what one has in hand. (You might be staying with the rules. I am
questioning the rules). In terms of the structural similarity principle: Would you lend me money based on
my claim that Ben owes me some money? Then imagine this: You go to Lance and ask for a loan based
on your claim that Milton owes you some money? And Lance....So what happens to you, Lance and
others when Ben defaults, and I default? And in the meanwhile, you, Lance and others, get high ratings
and can get loans based on high ratings--all based on "assets"--money you don't have. Doesn't this look
like a classic "domino effect"?

I predict that there will be more financial messes if there is no reviewing of these intensional definitions.
There will be more for sure--based on human ingenuity, creativity, and competitiveness. Labeling money
not in hand as "assets" is one I propose that could be reviewed.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by tjohnson - 2009/06/25 09:03
_____________________________________


I don't see how labelling a loan as an asset leads to riskier loans. These institutions have rules about
assessing risk and this is how they determine who gets loans. So do you consider money, as in the
bank, an asset, or does it have to be in cash? Remember what Korzybski said about money (of all
forms) is that it symbolizes human agreement and therein lies it's ultimate value. After all even our paper
money might not be accepted at some point if we revert to bartering so it's the rules that are important in
all of this because if we no longer follow the rules then the fabric of our economic structure begins to
break down.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/06/26 06:48
_____________________________________


T.J. wrote: I don't see how labelling a loan as an asset leads to riskier loans

Think of a $1000 loan as money owed to you. You don't have it--and you might not get it
back...Following standard practice you go ahead and get a $500 loan based on your expectation of
repayment. Suppose the money owed to you is $1 000,000 following standard practice you can apply for
a $500, 000 loan based on ths $1 000,000 asset--money you might not get back. That the loan you
apply for is now $500, 000, I consider riskier for a loaner in the sense of "$500,000--much more than
$500 to lose". That the 'asset' by the rules can be $1,000, $1 000,000, or $10,000,000 does not seem to
matter.

By the rules: Money loaned to a Madoff would be considered asset. Think of hundreds of individuals,
corporations, foundations, etc, claiming as asset, millions of dollars they invested with Madoff? Who
knows who practices Madoff type business.

To restate my problem: I think that claiming money one has as asset, and money one does not have, but
expects to have, also as asset, will eventually lead to financial messes.

Money in a registered bank is usually covered by some sort of government insurance.

============================================================================



Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by Milton Dawes - 2009/08/20 10:11
_____________________________________


The following 'joke' was sent by a friend from Texas.

I am wondering: Do you think the $100 would be considered "asset" by the financial experts, in the
owners account, between the time the tourist placed the money on the desk and the return of the toursit?


A Slow Day in Texas


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Its a slow day in a little East Texas town. The sun is beating down, and the streets are deserted. Times
are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich tourist from back east is driving through town. He stops at the motel and lays
a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the
night.

 As soon as the man walks upstairs, the owner grabs the bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the
butcher.

The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmer's Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has
also been facing hard times and has had to offer her "services" on credit.

The hooker rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the hotel owner.

The hotel proprietor then places the $100 back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect
anything.

At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the $100 bill, states that the rooms are not
satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything.

However, the whole town is now out of debt and now looks to the future with a lot more optimism.

.

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Re:General semantics applied to present international financial problems
Posted by tjohnson - 2009/08/20 14:23
_____________________________________


I wouldn't call this a joke. Something very similar happens when a regulatory body steps in to avoid a run
on the banks. The main problem, as I see it, is confidence. If people think their money is in jeopardy they
all go to the bank and try to withdraw it and the banks fail. To avoid this you lend money to the banks
which they give to the customers and when the confidence is restored they put it back in the bank and
the banks return it. Money does no good sitting in bank accounts - we need capital to function as a
society and it comes from banks lending money.

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