Argentina Defaults and Repegs to the Dollar. But what happens when the US Defaults?

My latest article on TheStreet hits the homepage. Go me.

Here I explain, using Ludwig Von Mises’ monetary regression theorem, why any other country that defaults can quickly regain economic footing by pegging to the dollar and starting a new currency. But if (when) the US defaults, there will be nothing to peg the dollar to.

Except gold.

Here’s an excerpt.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Argentina defaults, and the cycle repeats once again, exactly as before. After defaulting, the government pegs to the dollar, as tracked in the PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish (UUP). Then it spends too much money buying votes, prints money to compensate (currency devaluation, no more peg), inflation results, the printing presses are shut on the verge of hyperinflation, government can’t pay its debts, it defaults, and everyone loses their savings and starts over, Fight Club style. Then someone else is elected and promises to peg to the dollar, and everything happens again.

The US Monetary Base Crosses $4 TRILLION, my latest article for TheStreet

In this article I explain why the ultimate inflation hedge is not gold, silver, gold miners, silver miners, commodities, silver options, or options in miners.

It’s actually 2016 GLD $225 call options, with a risk/return of a whopping 1379:1. That means for every $1,000 you put in, the risk is $1000, but the return is $1,379,000.

Talk about the ultimate inflation hedge.

Here’s an excerpt:

Go to the GLD 2016 calls and the farthest strike out is $225. Assuming a quintupling of gold in a two-year time frame (either from January 2014 or January 2015, as 2017 LEAPS in GLD will also be available come November) that puts GLD at roughly $625. $225 LEAPS on GLD are currently available for 29 cents, and only 6,688 contracts have been traded. Compare that with SLV’s 55,000 and this trade seems extremely neglected.

If GLD quintuples in two years, that puts the options at $400 a contract, for a return of 1,379-times, or an astronomical 137,800%. Meaning, for every $1,000 you put into 2016 or 2017 $225 GLD LEAP options, you will have $1,379,300. That is nearly twice the return on SLV LEAPS, putting the risk/return ratio at 1379:1, and that already takes into account that gold is generally half as fast in rising as silver.

I Don’t Want to Cover the Gaza War. Let’s Cover Big Macs.

Yesterday I came across one of the stupidest Jerusalem Post articles I have ever read. From start to finish, it is so completely filled with nonsense that even I was a bit shocked. If this doesn’t confirm to you that empirical econometrics is nothing but soothsaying astrological voodoo tarot reading drivel, and that calling an economist is akin to phoning the psychic hotline, then nothing will.

I present to you the conclusion, based on the “Big Mac Index” that the shekel is “6.9% too strong” because a Big Mac in Israel is 6.9% more expensive than a Big Mac in the US.

Here are two paragraphs from this diuretic gem:

The idea, according to the newspaper, is this: The price of a Big Mac captures a lot of what’s going on in a given economy, from labor to rent to the price of produce. Since Big Macs are just about the same in most countries, they should, according to the economic theory of purchasing power parity, cost about the same when converted into the same currency.

“Since a Big Mac costs 48 kroner ($7.76) in Norway and only $4.80 in America, the kroner is overvalued by 62 percent according to this lighthearted, protein-rich analysis, making it the most puffed-up currency in the index,” The Economist offered by way of example.

Let’s leave aside the futility of imaginary indexes and the unfounded assumptions that they are based on. Let’s just examine the pure illogic of the statement “If X is more expensive in Y currency by Z%, then Y currency is Z% too strong.”

If one day you buy a pack of gum for 5 shekels, and the next day that same pack of gum costs 10 shekels, did your currency strengthen, or weaken? Obviously, it weakened by 100%. So how on Earth can one make a claim that if something is more expensive in shekels than in dollars, that this shows that the shekel is strong? If anything it shows that the shekels is weak.

I’ll say it again. If it costs more money to buy the same stuff, it shows a weakness in the money and a strength in the stuff, not the other way around. It is such simple logic, I’m at a loss to explain it any more simply.

But nevermind that. The entire method with which this soothsaying economist came to this conclusion is the same as astrology. Making a statement that Big Macs “should be the same price everywhere” is the same thing as saying “When Capricorn intersects Jupiter and invades Aquarius at an angle perpendicular to Virgo while Pisces is giving birth to Cancer and Sagittarius is in a drunken brawl with Leo after accusing the latter of stealing his girlfriend, you should be expecting to choke on a raisin at 3:00am on September 28th.”

Big Macs neither should, nor should not be the same price anywhere. Big Macs in different locations are different goods. A Big Mac in Manhattan is different from a Big Mac in Wyoming. A Big Mac in Wyoming is cheaper. The prices of Big Macs have no special constancy regardless of location any more than real estate does. Just look at the $50 homes you can buy in Detroit these days.

The price of a Big Mac is determined by two things, and two things only. Supply of Big Macs, and demand for Big Macs. Not the cost of making a Big Mac, not the greed of the McDonald’s franchise owner, not the price of Big Macs anywhere else in the world. Only the supply of Big Macs in a given location, and the demand for Big Macs in that given location.

If the average price of a Big Mac in the US is 6.9% lower than the price of a Big Mac in Israel, that only means one of two things. Either the supply of Big Macs in relation to the demand in the US is 6.9% larger than in Israel, or the demand for Big Macs in relation to the supply in Israel is 6.9% higher than the US, or a combination of the two factors, yielding a market-clearing price 6.9% higher than the market-clearing price in America.

That’s it. That’s all it says. It does not say anything about the shekel, and it certainly does not say that the shekel is “too strong“.

Then why write this nonsense, that besides not having any scientific basis, the conclusion even based on dumb premises is flipped on its head?

It’s because economists work for governments and central banks. Governments need money to fight wars. If they can get in your head that the currency they control is “too strong” then they can print more and use it to fight more wars.

 

Why I’m an Anarcho-Capitalist, but Love Minarchists

Being an ideological purist, absolutely logically consistent, is easy. Well, not exactly easy, but once you make the commitment to draw your red lines of libertarian logic according to the singular axiom of the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) and live by it, once you make that fateful decision and swallow the blue pill, or the red pill, or whichever Matrix pill it is, the rest is easy. Once the Free Will decision is made so to speak, you’re home free. You go issue by issue, instance by instance, and you sort everything out accordingly with no exceptions. While you may be left with a few difficulties as to what fits where (like does abortion constitute violation of the NAP, or can people voluntarily sell themselves into slavery or not), you are still living by a single principle by attempting to categorize everything into either violence or nonviolence logically, and live accordingly.

In one sentence, there remain zero instances where you are compromising your values, and that both makes you impervious, as well as isolates you into that void of impracticality.

I am an anarcho-capitalist libertarian, which means I take the NAP to the extreme, to its logical conclusion. No initiatory force against the innocent, not by anybody, not even the State. That means no State.

And yet, there are two men in this world who have shaped my thinking more than any other, at least in terms of giving me new direction, and neither of them are anarcho-capitalists. They are both, in fact, minarchist libertarians. The kind that believe in minimum government for the purpose of keeping the bad guys (NAP violators) away and discerning between good guys and bad guys.

Minarchists are always caught in a hopeless logical contradiction with themselves, which they can’t and don’t (usually) deny. They believe in non-aggression, but they also believe that a certain amount of aggression is necessary in order to keep out the aggressors. This infects their philosophy, thinking, and eventually political planning with a true contaminant. An anarchist can just privatize everything in his head and stay consistent. A minarchist…it’s not that easy.

Minarchists have to draw a line somewhere between necessary aggression (a so called minimum) and evil aggression (anything beyond minimum). But there is no logical line to draw, no objective border to trace it. It is a line based only on their own intuition of what must be and what must not be crossed. It is highly personalized, totally subjective, and nearly impossible to keep steady.

For the anarchist, there is no army, only private security companies with clear market tests on what is legitimate and what is not. There is no police, only private insurance companies that take a real market risk every time they arrest someone on a suspicion or a call. And there are no public courts subject to an arbitrary law written by politicians and bureaucrats, only private judge businessmen trying to get a reputation for fairness from all clients involved in a case on every side, with only the NAP to guide them, and whatever other voluntary contract may exist between the parties involved in a suit.

But for the minarchist, there is an army, and every decision it makes must be guided, ultimately, by bureaucrats and politicians making subjective judgement calls. (Should we bomb Gaza? How and with what? How many civilians getting killed is acceptable? When is too much? Politicians have to decide these things, not the market.) There is no alternative because there is no profit motive as there are no voluntary customers. There is a police force operating on monopoly, and the minarchist must draw a line somewhere as to what this monopoly has the power to do and what it cannot do, what is considered abuse. How do you draw the line? You just do. Somewhere. There is a public monopolistic court system, and the minarchist must decide what its powers are and when it must yield to individual liberty.

On each of these issues a minarchist must decide, draw a line somewhere, and stick to that arbitrary line for dear life. There is always a clear and present danger that the line he draws will move, inexorably, to the side of more power, slowly but surely, and grow from there into a monster. This is what happens to almost all libertarian-leaning minarchist politicians at some point. Some sooner, some later, they all fall into statism because the system itself wants power and will vacuum everyone towards that direction with insuperable force.

Well, almost insuperable.

As I said, there are two men, both minarchists, who have shaped my life in terms of direction more than any other. One is Ron Paul, and the other is Moshe Feiglin. I disagree with them about a lot of things. In fact I argue with Moshe constantly, pretty much whenever we have a conversation. (Ron Paul I have not had the privilege of arguing with personally.) But what they have in common that no other minarchist politician has (none that I know of) is that they draw their lines of power from within their own personalities, subjective though they are, and they do not cross themNot ever.

The minarchist always has the open temptation to give in to more power, because he allows a minimum in for police, army, and courts. In all of Ron’s political career, he never moved that line. Never. He kept it firm, and no pressure could move it one inch. And though Moshe’s minarchist line is not the same line as Ron’s (lines of minarchy can never be the same because they are all subjective by definition) Moshe’s line, so far, has not moved, despite all the pressure applied by politicians surrounding him like sharks.

Is Moshe’s belief that the State is a “useful tool” placed in the hands of the “sovereign nation” a mistake? Yes. He’s wrong. The State is not a tool controlled by the nation, but simply a weapon wielded by politicians in order to steal from individuals in the nation. The nation is not sovereign, only the individual is, though nations exist insofar as the way we treat and relate to each other as human beings. And I believe a metaphysical nationhood exists in the Jewish people, but that’s a matter outside of political law.

But so what? That’s what he believes, so all that’s left to trust is his intuition. If he believes the State is not being used as the tool he says it should be, he will fight the State, and that’s good. Usually his intuition is right on the money.

It’s easy to be an anarchist. Everything fits into one category or the other. There is no temptation of power because your mission is to abolish all of it in every form. There is no minimum of power that is acceptable, so nothing is tempting once you swallow the pill. Your personality is never really tested because you can just categorize everything logically, from within a system that resides outside yourself.

But being a minarchist is much harder. You have to accept some power and then draw a line. That line has to come from you, your own personhood, your own identity, your own strength, with no logic or anything externally objective to keep it steady, because there is no logic with which to draw that line. It’s all a judgement call. And the longer you can keep that line steady, the longer you refuse to move it within your own philosophical system, the stronger your personhood is. That’s why, as deep as my respect is for anarchists, and I have anarchist mentors who I really love, my respect for true minarchists is of a totally different kind.

Judaism has examples of both approaches, and it is clear to me that God prefers minarchists over anarchists. This is not to say that minarchists are correct. They’re not. But they are what brings the world forward into freedom on a mass scale, much more than anarchists. Anarcho capitalists are the philosophers always in the background. We draw lines in logic and never cross them. Minarchists, the real minarchists that draw red lines in their own blood and never cross them, are the leaders of men. The true intermediaries to liberty.

Here are two examples. One is Eliyahu, the equivalent of an anarchist. Absolutely uncompromising, no middle ground, correct about everything but fired from his job of being prophet. Literally the only prophet to be deposed by God while he was still alive, at least alive on Earth. He couldn’t lead the people spiritually because all he saw were violations and zealously stamped them out. Moshe Rabeinu is the example of the minarchist, totally unconcerned with his own power, didn’t want an internal police force initially or a public court system, just himself, probably because he trusted no one else with power. But a public system was forced on him by his father in law, and he ultimately accepted the idea with God’s sanction.

The successful leader between the two is obviously Moshe Rabeinu. Eliyahu failed.

The other example is more abstract, and that is Parah Adumah, the red cow. The ashes of the red cow purify the deepest tumah, ritual impurities caused by dead bodies. But preparing them, a step necessary for the people, makes you tameh itself. The message being that in order to lead humanity, you can’t rely solely on logical consistency like Eliyahu did. You’ve got to get dirty and then draw your own lines about how dirty you’ll get. The lines have to come from you, something inside you. You can’t rely on an external system to draw them for you. Otherwise, you can’t lead.

What does God want in the end? I believe it’s anarchy, in the end. A system where there is nothing, no power broker at all, between His creation and Himself, where the Jewish people act as a sort of voluntary middleman priesthood for the world, but with no coercive power over anyone.

But in order to get there, we need a בר הכי, some minarchist, and those are not the men who philosophise and draw lines based on an external system. They are the men that draw lines from within themselves and keep them there on the strength of their own personalities alone.

Moshe chides me that that I can’t always see everything from a totalitarian perspective, but that’s the thing. I can. He can’t. Because I’m not the leader. I’m just the theorist, someone to point him in the right direction, maybe. At least that’s what I aspire to. Maybe at some point I’ll perform some function of tearing down something (hopefully the damn Bank of Israel I hate so much), but only at his pace and with his go-ahead.

Let me at it freely and I’d tear the whole damn thing down in a day because my logic is stronger than my intuition. I’m an Eliyahu who can’t control himself if left to my own devices, and my hatred for the system is too acute for me to suffer letting it live a single second if I were ever in the position of being able to tear it apart on my own.

But I can afford to be that way, because I have assigned myself a leader, someone whose intuition I trust more than my own, even though he’s wrong about many things that I’m right about.

And in the end, Judaism forces me to be a minarchist, of a sort. To draw a line from my own personhood instead of from something outside myself. To have just a little intuition of my own. I circumcised my son without his consent, and thereby broke the NAP, the holy of holies of libertarian law. I hated it. I cried. And then even I, the uncontrollable libertarian radical teeming with hatred of the State, drew a line from within to circumscribe power. I did, and will do brit milah, and that’s it. I can’t explain why in any logical terms other than God told me to. And I will not go any further than that into the realm of power over other men. Not ever.

Not one inch.

Adventures with Yishmael on Har Habayit – Riot on the Temple Mount

Well that was interesting. I’m the guy in the blue jeans and brown shirt who kind of looks like me.

I woke up this morning at 4:45 to go to the Mikveh and then to Har Habayit with Moshe Feiglin. He stayed in Jerusalem apparently so I drove there myself for the first time though I’ve gone with Moshe several times before, and parked on Derech Hevron because looking for a parking spot in or around the Old City scares me. When I got there at 7:30 it took about half an hour for the police to let us in. Then we had the “No praying no bowing no kneeling no singing, no religious activity” thing and the customary full body search for any religious articles including a complete emptying of the contents of my wallet just like my two year old Daffy does when I leave it within her reach. In case there is religious contraband tucked away in one of the pockets or folds of my wallet.

We get up there, me in my Vibram 5-fingers, others in flip-flops, Feiglin in socks because he intends to go right up to Kipat HaSelah, Dome of the Rock so he can’t have any shoes on at all. I was intending to go one step closer than I usually go, but I’m not ready to go up to the Dome yet, and Moshe asked us politely not to anyway, and to leave the דין כיבוש stuff to him, no problem with that.

We get to the gate and immediately we hear in the background some Alla-hu Akbars. They are faint and I don’t mind them. I know they mean to insult me and intimidate me, but I can’t but wholeheartedly agree with them. God is great. Thank you Arabs for noticing, and for timing your chants with the entrance of God’s representatives here, us. So I can’t but feel flattered.

As we continue on, the chants get louder and more Arabs begin to congregate around us, fine, no problem. Nobody has violated the non aggression principle yet. Everyone has a right to chant God is Great at me as much as they want. I keep smiling and walking slowly. Heavily armed police surround us.

Non Jewish tourists, mostly Jesus-worshipers, stare at us and wonder why we are the focus of all the Akbars. Two old ladies from the Jesus group join us, apparently from Australia. They want to be part of the excitement, apparently.

And then the trigger. The Waqf guy sent each time to oversee that we don’t do anything religious is standing in front of us. Then Moshe goes up to one of the police guys and tells him that it was agreed with the higherups in the police department that at least for part of the time, the Waqf guy would not be our escort. So, to the police guy’s credit, he starts to escort the Waqf guy away from us. A scuffle ensues, and the Waqf guy is removed.

And then the chants get really loud and the number of screaming Arabs multiplies to hundreds, possibly over a 1000, but I’d have to see an aerial picture.

The news says that “a couple of young Arabs began screaming” but that is quite far from what was happening. Arabs of all ages began converging on us, men, women, a few kids, young and old alike, כל העם מקצה as they say in Sodom. מנער ועד זקן טף ונשים.

They start getting closer, and I start feeling a bit smushed. My heart rate only now begins to jump up a bit. Just a bit. Police are on all sides of us pushing away Arabs jumping in our direction.

The old Jesus ladies try to calm us down and say, “Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Lord!” One Lord for every two Jesuses. The Jesus-thanking is not helping me slow my heart rate, and I really feel caught between Esav and Yishmael now, though Yishmael wants to kill me and Esav just wants me to thank Jesus. I just want to daven, but the Jewish policemen for sure are not going to be happy about that, and they’re busy at the moment pushing away rioters so I’d rather not give them a hard time.

The police turn us around about 1/5th into our circuit. We’re headed back. Michael Puah has the camera, telling everyone to calmly smile, and Moshe is in the middle walking calmly as he always does. As we head back, I see one rock the size of a grapefruit fly above me and land about 10 feet behind me. So I stop looking at Feiglin in favor of keeping my eyes out for any rocks headed toward my skull.

I didn’t see any others.

One of the Jesus ladies asks me what group this is. I say it’s Feiglin’s group. She says who? I say Moshe Feiglin. Sudden recognition and excitement on her face. “Oh, Moshe Feiglin?! Where is he? Can I shake his hand?!”

“Sure,” I say. “He’s over there, in the suit.” She rushes up to him and shakes his hand.

“We’re with you,” she says to Moshe, “the nations are with you. We’re from Australia. Thank you Jesus!” Moshe shakes her hand and smiles back at her.

We get off Har Habayit. Then a Mahane Yehuda-looking Jew sees Feiglin and immediately insists on a picture with him.

“אני לא תומך בך” he says. “I am not one of your supporters,” “אבל אתה בוודאי תהיה ראש הממשלה הבא”. “But you will definitely be the next prime minister.”

He takes a picture, still holding his cigarette, with Moshe. We disperse.

The police now have two choices for next month. Ban Moshe Feiglin from Har Habayit, or ban Arabs from Har Habayit while Moshe is there. Let’s see what they do.

The worst part about the whole experience was not the Arab rioters. Rioting is what they’re good at and it doesn’t disappoint me. It was not the rocks, as I can easily dodge them. And it was not the fact that the rioters were not expelled from Har Habayit instead of us, who were being peaceful. I expect nothing from the police, and the fact that they prevented Arabs from physically attacking us (rocks aside) is more than I expected. Good for them.

No, the worst part was as I was driving away I hear on the news that “Knesset Member and Vice Knesset Chairman Moshe Feiglin was removed from Har Habayit today along with a group of right wing activists after rioters began shouting at them and throwing rocks.”

They had the chutzpa to call ME a “RIGHT WING ACTIVIST?!”

GROSS!

Check in next month for more “Adventures with Yishmael on Har Habayit!”

A Jewish Interpretation of The Four Blood Moons. Some Purim Torah.

There’s some hoopla going on about the fact that there will be a tetrad of total lunar eclipses in the next year and a half that fall out on the first day of Pesach and first day of Succot 2014, and then again on the first day of Pesach and Succot 2015. In between those four “blood moons” so-called because the moon turns red with the Earth’s shadow, there will be a total solar eclipse on Rosh Chodesh Nissan 2015.

The last time this happened, when all four total lunar eclipses fell out on Pesach and Succot, was in 1967-68. The time before that was 1949-50. And then before that 1493-94. As for a total solar eclipse happening on Rosh Chodesh Nissan right smack in the middle, I don’t know if that has ever happened before.

Pastor John Hagee, who I have always found mesmerizing but rather creepy, is going all out about this stuff predicting the second coming of Jesus and whatnot. He wrote about it, was featured on Fox News about it, gave a three part sermon on the coming of the Rapture about it, music played in the background during the more emotional Jesusish parts, he kept saying over and over “the King is Coming” and referring to Psukim with bad translations and incorrect chapter/verse numbers.

Hagee wants to say that four blood moons signifies something about the Jews, 1493-94 being the expulsion from Spain (it was actually 1492), 1949-50 being the founding of Israel (it was actually 1948) and 1967-68 being the reunification of Jerusalem, which is on the dot. Therefore, something big is supposed to happen in 2014-15 involving the Jews and Israel, and Hagee expects it to be the Rapture, the Second Coming, either, both, whatever, I don’t know.

Hagee takes a verse from Yoel which he calls 2:32, but which does not actually exist. The verse is 3:4. He erroneously places it in chapter two because along with most Christians reading a book that is not theirs in a language not theirs, he doesn’t know how to read. Chapters 1 and 2 concern the past, being the locust plague Yoel describes. Chapters 3 and 4 concern the future, which Yoel is comparing to the locust plague that had just happened. In any case, the verse Hagee quotes is this one:

הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ יֵהָפֵךְ לְחֹשֶׁךְ, וְהַיָּרֵחַ לְדָם–לִפְנֵי, בּוֹא יוֹם יְהוָה, הַגָּדוֹל, וְהַנּוֹרָא.

“The sun will turn to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great terrible day of the Lord.”

Well, OK, that seems to be talking about a solar and lunar eclipse, so maybe there’s something to this. But there’s a lot that Hagee is missing. I’ll fill some of it in. Some of this stuff comes from a friend of mine who’s into seeing signs and such.

The three religions that sprang from ancient Israel are governed by three different calendars. Islam has a purely lunar calendar. Christianity a fully solar calendar. Judaism is a combination of both, with leap lunar years to compensate for the differences in the calendars. We are currently in such a lunar leap year. The moon represents Islam, which is loosely identified with Yishmael. The sun, Christianity, loosely identified with Edom, or Esav.

The generally accepted Rabbinic view of the battle of Gog and Magog on Israel is that Edom and Yishmael will battle each other on Israel’s territory. Israel will not be directly involved, but will only be caught in the crossfire. In other words, Christianity and Islam will duke it out over here for whatever reason.

The first question that occurred to me when seeing the coincident dates of 1493, 1949, and 1967 was 1967 and 1949 I get. But why 1493? Forget about being a year late, but really, was the expulsion from Spain all that cosmic? We’ve been expelled from lots of places. It was traumatic, but earth shattering day-of-the-Lord? Not really.

The answer is, a tetrad lunar eclipse, if it does signify anything, has nothing to do with Jews. The moon is Islam. It has to do with Muslims. And 1493 was indeed a big year for Islam. It was the year they lost Europe. So was 1949, the year the Muslims lost the war against Israel. They were still fighting in 1948. The armistice and defeat was in 1949. If the tetrad lunar eclipses signal something about Jews, it would have been 1948, but 1949 was the defeat of Islam in Israel, not the founding of the State. In 1967 they lost Jerusalem and it happened in 6 days, so that one was on the dot.

As for a solar eclipse happening on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, that was the day when the Jewish People received their first national commandment, the first מצוה. The Mitzva of the calendar.

הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם, רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים:  רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם, לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה.

Rabbinically translated, “The new moon will mark the start of each month for you, and this month (Nisan) will be the first month of the year.”

Giving someone their own calendar is symbolic of freeing them from the forced calendar of slavery. But why should the new moon on the first signify a new month? Why not the full moon on the 15th, which would be counted as the first? In other words, why count from new moon to new moon rather than from full moon to full moon? After all, Israel were still slaves at that point, on Nissan 1. The 10th plague hadn’t happened yet. It wouldn’t happen for another two weeks. Why start the calendar now? At least wait until the deal is sealed and they’ve gotten out of Egypt.

In fact, now that I think of it, all of the beginning of Exodus chapter 12 is temporally displaced. Moshe warns Pharaoh of the 10th plague in chapter 11, warning that it will happen at midnight on the 15th. Then chapter 12 goes back in time 14 days about what God said to Moshe on the first of the month. Then it skips forward to the 15th and Israel gets out the next morning.

The answer is that by the first, God started the Mitzvot, which began with the calendar, and moved to the Pesach, Matza, the blood on the doorposts etc. By then, even though while technically still in Egypt, the fog of slavery had lifted, and all the people had to do was follow God and stay out of the way. Those who followed were saved. Those who didn’t, who knows.

If the solar eclipse next Rosh Chodesh Nisan means anything, and I’m not conceding that it does, then it could mean that Israel’s dependence on Christianity, Edom, AKA the US, will end on that date, just as its dependence on Egypt ended on that date even though Egypt didn’t give up until two weeks later.

So a combination of lunar eclipses on Pesach and Succot and a solar eclipse on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, if it signifies anything, would signify that both Christianity and Islam will block each other out, perhaps by fighting each other.

It is also significant that the final lunar eclipse of the four will occur on Succot, the very holiday focused on in the Battle of Gog and Magog on Israel. As for the significance of 2015 itself, my friend and I have been thinking about that for months before either of us knew about the four blood moons.

There are two things notable about 2015. First, it will be a shmitah year, when debts are liquidated. The last shmitah year was 2007-08, a year of a LOT of debt liquidation. The shmita before that was 2000-01, the end of the Nasdaq bubble and a LOT of debt liquidation. Another notable shmitah year was 1987, the year of the Black Monday market crash. Before that, 1980, the peak of interest rates and the 1980 gold bull top. 1973 was the year of stagflation, the first time the American economy experienced both stagnation and inflation together.

But 2015 has something else going for it. The Hebrew year will be תשעו, written fully התשעו, or rearranged תשועה, meaning “salvation”. That is 5776, starting in September 2015.

I am no kabbalist, but what follows is a translation from my friend’s blog. Let’s be cute and call this Purim Torah:

וַיְהִי בִּימֵי אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ הוּא אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ הַמֹּלֵךְ מֵהֹדּוּ וְעַד כּוּשׁ שֶׁבַע וְעֶשְׂרִים וּמֵאָה מְדִינָה

“In the days of Achashverosh, that is Achashverosh who ruled from India to Ethiopia, 127 states.”

It is well known that the Book of Esther contains within it many hints and secrets regarding the final redemption. The book falls within the context of Ezra’s move to Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple which was postponed at the time. This parallels our time, especially since Esther and Mordechai are both from the tribe of Binyamin, and we are under the rule of Mashiach Ben Yosef of Binyamin.

(Rafi’s note, I don’t know what he’s talking about  with the Binyamin thing.)

וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּר בְּמִשְׁתֵּה הַיַּיִן מַה שְּׁאֵלָתֵךְ וְיִנָּתֵן לָךְ וּמַה בַּקָּשָׁתֵךְ עַד חֲצִי הַמַּלְכוּת וְתֵעָשׂ

“And the King said to Esther at the drinking party, ‘What is your request and I will grant it, what is your wish? Up to half the kingdom and it will be done.”

The fact that the Temple is encoded into the Book of Esther we know from the Gemara in Megila:

Says the Gemara Megila 15B: “Up to half the kingdom and it will be done,” half the kingdom and not the whole thing, nor something that smacks of a kingdom. And what smacks of a kingdom? The Temple.

From here we can extrapolate the redemption of Mashiach Ben David. Achashverosh is limiting Esther, who represents Mashiach ben Yosef, up to the point of the Temple. The “up to” in “up to half the kingdom” comes from the blessing of Binyamin by Yaakov, which says “You will eat up to the morning”.

“Half the kingdom” – if Achashverosh rules 127 states, half of that would be 63.5. If we count from the beginning of the State of Israel, which is the beginning of the era of Mashiach ben Yosef, that turns out to be 2012, which is the beginning of the years of preparation for Mashiach ben David, which are 5772-5775. (Rafi’s note: He brings in a source here for that but I haven’t sifted through it.)

Therefore, the meaning of the verse is this: Up to half the kingdom and it will be done. “Up to half” means up to 5772 (2012). From then, Mashiach ben David begins to rise. And when is it complete? At the end of Shmitah, and when does that fall out?

It will be done is ותעש. Or תשעו. If you switch the letters. 5776.

My friend continues to point out that every time the word תשועה is mentioned in Tanach, it always has to do with David. No exceptions.

And there are other hints at 5776 throughout the Torah. Here’s a fun one though, one that I can proudly say I found. It’s in Breishit 38. Yehuda leaves his brothers after the sale of Yosef. Figuratively, after the downfall of Mashiach ben Yosef. Yehuda settles near a guy named Hirah, who has a friend named Shua. Yehuda marries the daughter of this guy Shua, and for the rest of the story this woman is only known as בת שוע, or Shua’s daughter.

It’s always bugged me why she doesn’t have a name.

When Bat Shua dies, Yehuda goes down to Timnah to sheer his sheep. Tamar, who has been sitting around waiting for Yehuda to give him his third son after the first two died, hears about it and follows him down. This leads to Yehuda thinking Tamar is a prostitute, sleeping with her and starting the Mashiach’s ancestral line.

So why Bat Shua?

אל תקרא בת שוע אלא ב-תשוע. Or 5776.

Also note that David’s wife, the one that gives birth to Shlomo, is בת שבע, or 5772.

And the fourth and final blood moon occurs on Succot, 5776, the holiday of Gog and Magog, when every nation is supposed to come to the temple to worship God.

All in all, this could all be nothing. I’d like to believe it, but can’t say that I do. But in case it isn’t nothing, let it be recorded here that I believed it plausible enough that I wrote it down as Purim Torah.

נכנס פורים יוצא סוד.

 

 

A Libertarian Reading of Joseph

A friend and I have been back-and-forthing on various biblical themes with a libertarian lens. One of the characters we keep coming back to is Joseph. In a mainstream read, he’s a hero, a character that changes for the good, does teshuva, saves his family, rises to glory. A complete success story. He is referred to by Chazal as Yosef Hatzadik, Joseph the Righteous. But I have since been rereading the Joseph story in a libertarian light and have come to more complicated conclusions. Not that they necessarily contradict the read that Joseph was basically a good guy who succeeded in life, but a perspective that has liberty at the forefront tells me that Joseph was a much more limited and narrow person than people generally think.

In broad strokes, Yosef is the master socialist, statist, economic central planner. These are all bad words in libertarian-speak, but it is not that simple. The first thing we know about Yosef is that he has dreams of power and he seeks to control, without necessarily being in control of himself first. This initially got him into trouble when he was sold by his brothers to Egypt. There he is humbled and gains some self control, working hard to make his way to the top wherever he is, and not being sidetracked by feeling sorry for himself and depressed all day, as I’m sure many of us would feel if we were one day sold by our own family into slavery in a foreign country.

At some point, his own self control is tested, and he passes the test so well that it sets him back. He refuses to sleep with his boss’s wife, who then ironically accuses him of attempting to rape her, and he is then sent to prison.

But even then, he refuses to wallow in self-pity and does his best, rising to the top of the prison and eventually getting out by interpreting a few dreams.

Then he finally has his opportunity. He impresses Pharaoh with his interpretation of the cows swallowing cows and corn swallowing corn. And here’s where we come to a serious libertarian rereading. According to mainstream thought, Yosef saved the entire region from starvation by executing an ingenious plan of storing food. Without Yosef, the thinking goes, the entire middle east and western Africa would have been dead from hunger.

But is that really true? My contention is no. Yosef didn’t save anybody. All he did was some central economic planning through which he was able to give Pharaoh near absolute power in Egypt. The Otto Von Bismarck of his time, so to speak.

Had not Yosef interpreted Pharaoh’s dream correctly, what would have happened? There would have still been plenty of surplus food produced during the seven years of plenty. Instead of it all being monopolized in Pharaoh’s royal granaries through either coerced sales or probably outright theft, the supply would have remained decentralized.

My evidence that it was outright theft of the surplus comes from the word שילש used to describe how Egypt was divided when Pharaoh put Yosef in charge to begin collecting the surplus food. שילש is a very belligerent term, which also describes the head of an Egyptian war chariot, as in ושלישים על כלו. It is a term also used in the קדושה, as in יחד כולם קדושה לך ישלשו, describing how the angels praise God in heaven. The phrase the angels use is the famous triple קדוש, as in קדוש קדוש קדוש ה׳ צבאות, or Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts, in other words the commander of an army, with the angels being God’s army. So it is probably that Yosef sent soldiers in to simply confiscate the surplus.

There was little resistance because there was so much surplus that nobody wanted to put up a fight about it. But the key is that had Yosef not appointed thugs to confiscate the surplus, it would not have simply been wasted. All major cities had stockpiles of grain in case of a siege, and it’s not like famines were uncommon things those days. The food would have been stored, but instead of monopolized by Pharaoh with Yosef as his agent allowing him to charge an arm and a leg for it later, the price would have been competitive as many sellers would have competed for buyers during the famine years, lowering the price to something more reasonable than everything you own plus a 20% income tax for eternity, which is what Yosef ended up instituting.

So all Yosef did was give Pharaoh the window of opportunity for the greatest power grab in history up to that time. And Pharaoh took it. 3 years into the famine, Pharaoh owned all the silver in the entire economy. 4 years in, he owned all the cattle. 5 years in he literally owned the entire country. ותהי הארץ לפרעה. And it was Yosef that instituted the income tax on the Egyptian people.

That’s the bad part. The good part is that Yosef the Socialist Economic Central Planner did get his family a privileged spot through all the turmoil. There was no income tax on Bnei Yisrael. How do we know this? Because the income tax only applied to people who were forced to sell their land. The Torah clearly says that the Egyptian priests did not pay the 20% tax because they didn’t to sell their land because they got free food from the Egyptian Crown as part of the deal of being priests of Amun, or Aten, or On or whatever Egyptian god they were priests of. You know who else got free food during the famine? We did. From Yosef. So we never got taxed. And that’s why the Egyptians got really pissed off and turned on us later, enslaving us. Because our Statist brother Yosef enslaved them first with taxation.

This helped me answer a burning question I’ve always had about one little thing Yosef did in the aftermath of revealing himself to his brothers. At one point before he reveals himself, he gives Benjamin, his only full brother, 5x more food than everyone else. This is easily explainable as a test to see if it stokes their jealousy. But what always bothered me was that even after Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, he still gives Binyamin 5x more changes of clothes than everyone else for the way back!

Why? Because deep down, despite all the improvements in his persona which are undeniable, Yosef is still the same power-hungry crony capitalist who, just like government and big business, picks his favorite and showers him with gifts. He can’t help himself from using his power. It’s beyond his personality to be able to control it once he has it.

This, I believe, is why Mashiach ben Yosef has to die (non violently!), why Yosef cannot lead in the end, why the 10 tribes led by Efraim ben Yosef had to split off from Yehuda, which only happened when Yehuda, in the form of King Rechavam, took power to his head and became too much like Yosef, attempting to raise taxes too high and become a powerful nationalist state. And finally, why the true Mashiach has to come from Yehuda, the one who finally breaks Yosef down to crying when he offers himself in Binyamin’s place. In the end, Yehuda is the one who really knows how to treat Binyamin – as an equal, not as a favorite. Yosef treats him as a favorite and he cannot change his constant power-playing, the same mistake that led to his sale and enslavement in the first place.

Yosef is the force of Jewish nationalism. It is the force that drives classical Zionism, and it is a good catalyst for getting the nation together. It gave rise to the State of Israel which, as bad as it is, does keep the nation together. Yosef-minded Zionist people got together and put together a benign dictatorship, a Jewish State to run every aspect of Jews’ lives here, to tax them way above and beyond Joseph’s 20% rate, to indoctrinate their children in state schools and kidnap them into their army, expel them from their homes when they feel like it and all the other horrible stuff we all know about.

It is also useful to note that, just as Yosef is not a bad guy, but actually a good guy with a serious limitation, so too the current Israeli leadership, despite being evil at times, is also essentially good, but only within its own failed context and limited scope. It cannot complete the task, but it cannot be blamed either. It simply does not have the ability to even see what the task is.

Mashiach Ben Yosef has already come. He is just a catalyst for the next phase, which is liberty. It is time for Mashiach Ben Yosef to dissolve (through nonviolent means of course), and to make way for Yehuda, who, just like he did when he offered to take Binyamin’s place, will have to bring classical Zionism to its knees in some sort of catharsis.

The next step is for Yosefian Zionist nationalism to dissolve, making way for true liberty, חירות, at the hands of Yehuda. We’re getting closer. Stay tuned.