Will Germany Shoot Down the Greek Proposal And Force Grexit?

The thing that really annoys me about all this elitist bull where the media constantly reports about vague snippets about “proposals” and “negotiations” and “give and take” with absolutely no specifics about what is being negotiated is..well, just that. We have no idea what the politicos are really talking about behind closed doors, and nothing is clear.

Greece made a proposal. What’s in it? How is it different from past agreements? What are the hard numbers? What are the objections? What the hell is going on? Nobody can give a clear answer. Only talk in vague generalities about “concessions” and “compromise” but never about what!

So Greece made some kind of deal with Germany. What was it? The only place that tells you anything even meager is Zerohedge, and you never know when the guys over there are being totally crazy or they have real info. So, here’s what they’re reporting.

Greece is demanding that private residences in mortgage default be protected from foreclosure, which will of course clog and paralyze the banking system. Also a gradual raise of minimum wage, which will clog and paralyze the labor market. As well as restoration of collective bargaining rights for unions, which will constrict the labor supply and increase unemployment. As well as wage hikes for the bureaucrat sector. Which will increase the debt load that Germany is paying for.

And Germany, apparently, is going to say nein, according to Zerohedge, tonight.

Let’s see what happens.

Greece Caves, Varoufakis Fails, He Should Resign Immediately

Oh well. I was wrong. I thought I was on to something with Varoufakis but apparently a grasp of basic economics (which Yanis Varoufakis does not quite have) is a necessary condition for having a spine. I thought that maybe it didn’t have to be that way, but he caved to a bailout extension of 4 months, and once you let the door open a crack like that, that’s it. There’s no going back. He’s a politician now. It’s over.

Zerohedge is reporting that Varoufakis actually sent a letter to the Germans sticking to his guns, with Tsipras then overriding that letter when the Germans said no deal. Varoufakis is denying there was ever any wrong letter. Who knows, now that he’s caved and won’t admit it, no one can trust anything he says anymore.

So four months from now this whole thing will repeat again.

Eventually though, reality will express itself with full force and the Eurozone will collapse. We just can’t count on anyone to be honest enough to get the ball rolling voluntarily. It will have to happen by some surprise event now.

The reality is, Greece still cannot pay back its debt, and the Syriza government sure won’t allow the economy to grow by getting out of the damn way. It looks like more debt slavery for the average Greek now. For four more months at least.

If Varoufakis were honest, he’d explain publicly why he has reversed himself from saying “no extension” to “four month extension”. But he won’t. He’s descended into the realm of the politician.

What a Greek Default Means in Simple English

A Greek default, or any government default for that matter, is heavily misunderstood. I’m not speaking in terms of chain reactions here or what it may cause, just essentially what it is.

If a private person defaults, say if I go bankrupt, that means anyone who I owe money to, loses that money that I would have paid them. That’s it. Not one person who did not loan me anything will suffer at all. People who have no financial connection to me couldn’t care less if I default since it has nothing to do with them.

It gets a bit more complicated if I own a business. If I go bankrupt, my business will be sold by force for lack of payment of my debts, someone else will get the business and do what he wants with it, and the cash I got for the sale will go to my creditors in order of liens. All the capital I control, whatever it is, goes to someone else, and the cash goes to my creditors. That’s what happens. No capital is destroyed, nothing changes physically, just ownership titles.

So, if a government goes bankrupt, what SHOULD happen by that example is they stop paying their debts, which are their bonds. Then, by the example of myself going bankrupt and my assets being liquidated and transferring title to some other owner, what should happen and what WOULD solve the entire garbage situation in Greece is for the entire government to liquidate ALL of its asset, everything it owns, and sell it ALL for cash, in this case Euros.

Entire Greek government departments should be sold to whoever wants them for however much is offered. If someone wants the Greek Bureau of Regulation Whatever and to employ all its pointless bureaucrats, then they can. But you know what the problem is here?

If I go bankrupt but I own a business, my business probably makes money, just not enough to cover my debts. It has employees etc. So somebody buys it, maybe lays off a few people, ships up the outfit and makes it profitable

But who the HELL wants a piece of crap bureaucracy? It makes no money, it only obstructs business! So bidding for it would go through the floor and be equivalent to whatever hard assets the Bureau has like computers and real estate and cars and whatever, and all the dumb bureaucrats would be laid off and that’s it. 

The other problem is the government owns the roads, and for some reason everyone is brainwashed into thinking that roads cannot be privately owned because then 1,250,000 people would die on the roads globally every year. But wait, no, that’s how it is now.

So the government owns assets that people don’t believe can be sold, when of course they can and should.

But the worst part of government default is that the government owns the money itselfbecause money is a government monopoly.  So when a government defaults, anyone who holds government money is in serious, serious trouble. They will lose everything. Holding government money is like being a government employee when your employer goes bankrupt. It is bad. That’s why people own gold and silver.

The unique problem with Greece, however, is that the government there does not own the money supply. And that’s why they can’t print the currency to death and need bailouts. Germany and Brussels and the ECB own the money supply.

If this default were honest, everything the Greek government owned or controlled would be liquidated and sold, including the Hellenic Parliament building itself and all the roads and all the military equipment, absolutely everything, with cash raised to pay the bonds. All the bureaucrats would be laid off to find something to do in the economy. All the regulation enforcers would be unemployed. The economy would be freed.

A true, honest government default would be an absolutely great thing for the private citizen, if not for the fact that the government, instead of honestly going bankrupt like any private person and starting over at zero, will immediately set itself up another monetary monopoly, force everyone to use it, and inflate it to death, stealing from everyone just to stay in business.

If Greece starts printing drachmas, they will hyperinflate very quickly. If I were a Greek, I would buy real assets and hide them under the Parthenon. That, or sell all paper assets short now.

When a private person or company goes bankrupt, assets are liquidated and sold to new owners. Employees are let go and must find new jobs. Some stay.

When a government goes bankrupt, they destroy everyone else’s money so they can pay back their debts through theft. Greece is just a tiny little thing, a tiny domino in a line of ever increasing bankrupt dominoes.

When the US goes bankrupt, now that will be a sight to see.

Varoufakis Holding his Own, Germans want him replaced!

The Greek talks with the Eurozone just broke down again. There currently is no way forward. Greek bank runs may start as early as tomorrow. If they do, the Eurozone will disintegrate fast. Most people did not see this coming and thought Greece would cave. But I did. I felt Greece would not cave, at least strongly suspected it. Here’s why.

I don’t have much investment in Yanis Varoufakis other than fascination and an inkling he can hold his own. He’s showing the Eurozone leaders that he’s not a yes man, not a politician, but a guy with principles that won’t break.

Most commentators on my side of the spectrum, the libertarians, armageddonists, preppers and those folk simply assumed that Greece will cave to Troika demands sooner or later, but that’s because they haven’t been following Varoufakis for three years like I have. Or maybe it’s just a 6th sense I have or something that I recognized with Ron Paul and Feiglin, and to a certain extent with Varoufakis. This harks back to my Ron Paul article about soul.

Varoufakis is wrong about a lot of stuff, even about basic stuff, but he has a soul. And he will not break from what he sees as right. Tsipras and the rest of Syriza are all a bunch of politician monkeys and they’ll cave. But Yanis Varoufakis won’t. Interestingly, Varoufakis is not even a Syriza party member.

Bob Wenzel recently quoted Tyler Cowen, a mainstream economist, as saying this:

The Greek government will cave so cravenly on the substance that they want to have it on the record books that they supplied some expressive goods for a few weeks’ time, namely insulting the Germans and claiming that the Troika is dead and buried.

See, that would be true of any Greek politician except Varoufakis. He won’t cave on anything, unless absolutely ordered to do so, in which case he will resign, as he has said explicitly that he keeps his resignation letter in his inside pocket and will submit it the moment he feels he can no longer speak truth to power. Or his version of it anyway.

Even the bloggers on my side of the aisle like Wenzel simply don’t understand this. I covered this in my column two weeks ago at CalvinAyre, where I said the following:

In a nutshell, it’s like this. If just another politician occupied the Greek FinMin seat, eventually he’d be bought off by the Troika, that trifecta of acronyms like ESM and EFSF that hold all the bailout funds, and the proverbial can would be kicked down the road again. But Varoufakis is not just another politician, and that’s what political mainstreamers, as well as Eurozone leaders themselves, just don’t understand. He’s serious. He wants to default, he’s been saying it for years, and he is the only one with the guts and independence to mean what he says and do it.

Varoufakis still may cave. I don’t have as much faith in his strength of character than I do of Ron Paul or Moshe Feiglin, but so far he has been holding up. How much longer I don’t know. But we can safely assume that since he has not yet resigned, he has not caved.

Now, at the prospect of Greece being kicked out of the Euro, Varoufakis could get fired. Once he’s out, if that happens, you can be sure Greece will cave. Tsipras is a nobody, that I’m sure of. Zerohedge is reporting now that the Germans want Varoufakis out. Why? Because he literally is the only obstacle in the way of continuing this disgusting bailout. There is no one else in the way. Just him. Quoting Keeptalkinggreece:

An SPD politician from Merkels’ social-democrat coalition suggested s that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should replaces Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis as he apparently creates lots of confusion, German politicians cannot understand.

SPD executive board member, Joachim Poß, wrote in an e-mail for his party colleagues:

“Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis has best demonstrated with his performance  until now, that he is not up to the demands of such an office. In the interest of the Greek people and in view of the difficult situation, Prime Minister Tsipras should consider to replace Mr Varoufakis with a political experienced, realistic-efficient person.”

Let me take that last bold paragraph out of Orwellian Newspeak and translate it into Human:

“Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis has best demonstrated with his performance until now that he is not up to simply caving to our demands for fear of being kicked out of the Euro. In the interest of the German government oligarchy and in view of the difficult situation, Prime Minister Tripras should consider to replace Mr. Varoufakis with a politician.”

Watch Greek capital flight tomorrow. It could get intense.

Another Domino to be Added to the List of Catastrophic Catalysts

I’ve known this for a while, but never saw it in graphic detail. Bob Wenzel of Economicpolicyjournal, a blog I visit every day, had this infographic up on his site today.

Top Holders of US Debt

I’ve always known China is the largest holder of US treasury debt in the world. I didn’t know that Japan was right behind.

Japan is the only country on the planet that is more into Keynesian economics than the US. As I mentioned in my last post about the bonobo chimpanzee behaving former IMF head Dominique Strauss Kahn who only attended 4 sex parties a year, Japan is somewhere between 240% and 500% in debt to GDP. Whichever number you want to pick, it’s the highest debt to GDP ratio on the planet. And Japan holds $1.24T in face value of US treasury debt.

If this isn’t a highly unstable house of cards, I really don’t know what is. The situation is just beyond any scope of reason, while the media makes you blissfully unaware of any of it or its meaning. The most indebted country in the world is being propped up by the country with the highest debt concentration in the world.

These are aftereffects of a country that destroys another with two nuclear bombs and then proceeds to nurse it back to health. How would you feel if someone beat the living crap out of you to within an inch of death and then put you on life support until you sort of recovered? You’d feel indebted. $1.24T of indebtedness.

Sooner or later some tiny domino is going to fall. If you feel like you have to sneeze, duck and cover.

 

How Many Sex Parties a Year is Too Many? Apparently, It’s Five.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is that former International Monetary Fund head guy who was arrested for raping some girl in a hotel some years back, but it turned out he was only sleeping with a prostitute so it was fine.

The IMF, if you Google it, will be puffed up with flowery language about how it “fosters economic cooperation” between nations and creates peace on Earth and good will towards politicians and so forth. If it were a voluntary organization pooling together voluntary contributions then indeed it would be a pretty cool thing. But all it is, is a bunch of heads of State pooling together piles of tax loot in case one of its members spends too much of its own. It is a huge money pit worth something like $800B that was made to bail out governments after they borrow too much money and can’t pay it back.

The IMF has bailed out 41 countries as of 2013, and the two top contributors to the fund are the United States and Japan. The US is $18,000,000,000,000 in debt. Japan takes the record for highest debt to GDP in the world at somewhere between 240% and 500%, depending on which source you want to believe. Who knows.

Something is seriously wrong with global finance when two of the most indebted countries in the history of the planet are funding the world’s biggest bailout fund.

Klein BottleIt’s like a Klein Bottle of finance, wrapping in on itself and flipping anyone who goes through it 4th dimensionally.

Enough about the IMF. What about Dominique Strauss Kahn, who once oversaw the world’s biggest pile of pirate booty? This is really great stuff. He is now being charged with “Aggravated Pimping”. Aside from being a good name for a band, aggravated pimping is when somebody buys you a prostitute and you have sex with said prostitute.

This, apparently, is illegal in France, where the venerated head of the largest bailout fund in the world was participating in a libertine (not libertarian) sex party at the time. Prostitution is legal, but aggravated pimping is not, so you can pay for the girl yourself, but once you accept a girl as a gift you’re a criminal.

Hey, it makes about as much sense as prostitution being illegal but pornography being fine. A third party can pay two people to have sex with each other in public, but once you pay for someone to have sex with you, you’re a criminal.

This is what DSK said in court:

“When one reads about this, one gets the impression that this was frenetic activities, the dates are so mixed up. It was four times a year for three years, nothing more.”

Three or four times a year, not frenetic. Just an orgy every now and then, give me a break.

I’m not judging DSK on moral grounds here for taking part in a sex fest. I’m judging him for being head of the IMF. Does it surprise you that a 65 year old man in charge of the largest taxpayer funded bailout pile in world history would act like a bonobo chimpanzee?

Bonobos do not form permanent monogamous sexual relationships with individual partners. They also do not seem to discriminate in their sexual behavior by sex or age, with the possible exception of abstaining from sexual activity between mothers and their adult sons. When bonobos come upon a new food source or feeding ground, the increased excitement will usually lead to communal sexual activity, presumably decreasing tension and encouraging peaceful feeding.

But not frenetically.

By the way, DSK’s business partner Thierry Leyne is the guy that committed suicide right here in Tel Aviv last October, jumping off the 23rd floor of a building my wife once taught private English lessons in. There’s a makeshift dirt parking lot right by that building, free if you can find a spot. Highly recommend it.

GREEK INSANITY Tsipras’ Solution to Insolvency is More Free Stuff

We’re headed for default in Greece. Varoufakis may have human guts, but he’s still clueless, still doesn’t understand that the Everlasting Gobstopper doesn’t actually exist. That the government cannot simply supply endless resources at a whim. Just doesn’t get it.

Tsipras of course doesn’t get it. So it’s funny I should be reading this headline on Ynet first, in Hebrew. The other headlines to the same story do not catch the punchline. But the Israeli headline does. For example, Reuters:

“Defiant Greek PM sets up EU clash with bailout rejection, austerity rollback”

Ah, but the Jews get it. They get that you can’t solve an insolvency problem by handing out free stuff. Ynet, on the same story:

ר”מ יוון מציג: חשמל ומזון חינם לעניים

Greek Prime Minister Lays Out Plan: Free Electricity and Food for the Poor

Yeah, that’ll do it. That should put you right back on the road to financial stability. Hand out more free crap. Suck on the Everlasting Gobstopper that is government money.

What’s happening here, from what I can see, is a crazy angry Prime Minister with extreme Greek pride is combining with a confused Finance Minister with the guts to push Europe to the brink and over, with neither realizing at all the meaning of their “solutions”.

We’re on our way to default. The eurozone is going down folks, in weeks to months. Brace yourselves.

CRAZY? Why I’m Considering Voting for Ahmed Tibi and the Arabs

As you may know, now that Feiglin is out for this round at least, I have no one to vote for. I originally considered not voting at all and going to the anti-Zionist Satmars and collecting $100 for not voting, but someone just proposed a radical, crazy idea that is interesting enough to work, theoretically if not practically.

The idea was proposed to me by a Feiglin activist who has a group going around on Facebook for it. I don’t think it will actually work because there aren’t many disenfranchised people like myself with the disdain for all parties and the State itself to do it. Even I am creeped out by the thought of putting in a petek for Tibi, Zoabi, Zahalka, Sarsur and company. Kal Vachomer (a fortiori) someone who loves the State. Not many will do this, though it would be pretty cool if they did.

In order to be able to do something like this, you have to start with the extreme case and extrapolate from there. The extreme case is that every vote is cast for Arabs, and they win all 120 seats. What happens then? What happens is the Jewish population completely ignores the results of the vote and the whole system is changed in a 180 degree turn. All Zionist party (defined very loosely from Meretz to Kahanists) heads will have to resign in embarrassment. Political revolution.

So then what happens if Arabs get, say, 40 seats? And how can that happen?

Here is a conversation we had on Facebook about it. She explains it better than I can.

Me: What is the reshima meshutefet?
Me: Oh, the arabs. I have no problem with that, but I don’t think you can convince a lot of people
Her: Yes. When I point out that they’re united for the first time, in an election that will have the lowest turnout, and that they usually vote 50% of the Jewish percentage, but now they have reason for aspiration & hope & change, and if they double our vote percentage and come out 80% to vote they can get 40 mandates, and nothing’s stopping them: I get 1,001 answers why it’ll fail and they’ll break apart and they won’t be able to form any coalition … basically that it doesn’t matter.Her: But when I say vote Joint List: It’s the ultimate protest, new elections will be held in 90 days, all party heads will have to resign permanently, the arabs won’t succeed in joining a second time, they’ll be exposed as patsies, the establishment will come down hard yo make provisions that it will not and cannot ever happen again, but most importantly: the message will go out to every Knesset member “You are not wanted! Go home and don’t come back!” It’s the greatest form of protest/political upheaval the country will ever see. You know what they say?

“The risks are to great.”

Me: hehe…I was going to take the $100 from the Satmar but voting arabs is not a bad idea
Me: I like the idea
Me: maybe I’ll do it, I‘m one of the few you’d be able to sway though, I fear
Her: … I know this can change the political scene forever, if we can get just 10% of disenfranchised Jews (between those who are going to throw away their votes – more than ever – and those who wouldn’t otherwise vote) each vote is worth 1,000 Jews protesting in the street. If 200 votes for the Joint List (arabs) come out of Kiryat Arba, 50 votes from Kochav haShachar, 500 votes from Hiryzeliya … politics here will never be the same.Why, if there are 1,001 reasons that there’s “nothing to fear” from the Arabs getting 40 mandates on their own” – why are people so afraid?!

I’m protesting on March 17, and I’m voting for the Arab Block.

Bibi, Buji, marionettes of the Elite “old money” who have their own personas but aren’t allowed to make any substantial change, and their lackies who line up behind them in their respective parties to play their roles and make sure the people do not count, it’s over, go home, you don’t represent anyone, if I don’t vote or vote for Green Leaf no one cares, but if they lose to “the Arabs” with the help of the disenfranchised Jewish vote, oh ho, they’ll notice! And nothing will ever be the same!

Sounds nuts eh? I’m thinking about it. What say you?

 

The meaning of “Devaluing a Currency” – Gold Versus the Euro

Stream of consciousness ahead…

The world right now is a disturbingly long and intricate wall of dominoes. The Greek domino is teetering.

Thinking about the structure of the whole Eurozone project. 13 countries in Europe come together to share a single currency. A single fiat, unbacked, paper currency. It sounds all wonderful and Kumbaya, no? Europe, which for hundreds of years did nothing but slaughter itself in war after war after war, is now coming together to share a currency. It must be heaven on Earth, or that’s what they thought when they set the thing up.

Thinking about this just now, a gold light went off in my head. As often happens in this head of mine. If a shared currency is such an idyll, and indeed there are economic advantages, then bloody hell why not gold, or silver, or something real? We all know what would happen at such a suggestion. The MSM and the econometricians will all bark like wild dogs about how insane the idea is, the barbarous relic etc., the evils of gold and the dangers of hard money blah blah blah.

But why can’t I sound left wing freedomy and enlightened when I agree that I want one world currency, I just want it to be a commodity for God’s sake? Why does that have to sound as if I’m insane, backward, twisted, mangled, outdated and whatever else? A paper union is all wonderful and enlightened and beautiful, but a gold union is disgusting outdated and crazy? Why?

Evil in this world has gotten really sophisticated. A level beyond what most of us imagine. As Murray Rothbard said, it is the intellectuals, the PhD’s, the professors, that mold the thinking of the average guy on the street who doesn’t have time to think for a living. They team up with the State to dumb us down, everyone from our high school teachers who tell us to “rock the vote” to that prick Jonathan Gruber who is the absolute perfect example of a professional state sponsored piece of garbage faux intellectual, who teams up with the State to “advise” it in its next operation of massive theft in exchange for millions upon millions of dollars. How much money did Gruber rack up “advising” the Feds about how to glue Obamacare together with a wad of phlegm? Millions…upon millions of dollars.

They dish out the total bullshit. We eat it. They get millions. We get robbed. That is how it works. And one out of a thousand people – if that much – are able to see it, while the rest of us drool on about how we have to vote and it’s our holy obligation to do so.

And so it is with the grand Eurozone scheme. The European Jonathan Grubers all lubed up with their government sponsored PhD’s and the rest of their reeking intellectual trash all go out of the huddle and totally brainwash the populace into singing Kumbaya as a unified paper currency union is set up. Explain to us why the paper union is so great and wonderful and other vomit, and why the gold bugs are all insane crazy armageddonist preppers who should be committed.

So why demonize the gold people? Call them “bugs”? Because, when it’s a paper union, somebody has to control it. Somebody has to have the power – the absolutely exclusive power – to print it. And here’s the key my friends: Whoever has the power to print it, has the most powerful resource on the continent. And who is that?

It’s Germany.

But gold, if you have a gold currency, nobody nobody nobody can print it. You can either mine it, produce it, or trade for it, in honest to goodness economic activity. Nobody has a power-given advantage over anybody. People have to trade their advantages with each other in what is called import and export. There is no competitive devaluation. There is no devaluation at all! Ever! If you go bankrupt you go bankrupt!

Because what is devaluing a currency? That phrase we hear so often out of the mouths of those elitist PhD thugs clothed in such elegant language?

It’s when a government goes bankrupt, and instead of going out of business like any other bankrupt company, they print the paper money to death, “devalue it”, pay back their debts in nothing but in name only, and all the citizens end up with worthless paper, everything stolen from them.

Can you imagine the ludicrous suggestion of a private company, say Apple, going bankrupt, and then in order to pay back its debts, printing dollars? Wow would that start a riot at Apple headquarters. Apple suggesting the dollar be devalued so it can pay back its debts in worthless paper. Screwing every other dollar holder while it gets away from its creditors. The idea is crazy. But for the government, whenever they go bankrupt, they just literally, steal everything from everybody by destroying the currency everyone was forced by law to use. And the intellectual rats all say something sophisticated and complicated and meaningless about the necessity and elegance and beauty and classical music about “devaluing the currency” – everybody stay calm as you are raped, we are just “devaluing the currency,” no need to panic. It’s just “devaluation” that’s all. A beautiful wonderful thing too complicated for you to understand. I have a PhD.

And here’s my bill for $10 million in new currency for advising you on the best way to “devalue the currency”.

So let’s cut the Orwellian crap. “Devaluing a currency” is just an economic elitist phrase for “steal everything from the people you rule by inflating the money that you forced everyone to accept, to death, so nobody has anything left, empty out everything, take it, and to hell with everyone else.” That’s what it means.

So why is an artificial, central-bank-controlled paper union a Utopia, a “Grand Project” while a natural, voluntary gold union among anyone who wants to trade gold is insane crockery? So say the elitist intellectual establishment vermin? Because governments cannot devalue gold. Not unless they steal the entire supply from everybody like FDR yemach shmo and then arbitrarily declare a new price for it.

It’s not about European Unity. It never was. If it was, there would be no currency by force. There would only be what people want to voluntarily use as currency. That has always, always been gold and silver. Give people a choice they choose that.

The Eurozone is about control, slavery, devaluation. Control by the German government over everything. It’s always about control. Power.

 

How Libertarianism Changed my View of Halacha

Referring to this paragraph written in my previous post:

And on top of all of that, call me a Messianist, but I don’t even believe in the right of the Moshiach to be king! I don’t even say את צמח דוד in my Shmoneh Esrei! I have stated publicly that if the Moshiach is declared and he starts instituting halacha laws, that I will break them!

Chaim, a reader, asks:
How do you explain this and justify your point of view from a halachic perspective as an observant jew? I’m trying to imagine for myself as well as explain to others that aggression is wrong, no matter who does it. You also don’t strike me as the kind of guy to light a match on shabbat and break halacha.
My view on kingdom is that just like אשת יפת תואר, it is no good to do it. But if you already go so far with taking a non-jewish woman as wife, that’s the procedure to follow. Dito with a king: Shmuel hanavi was against having a king, and explained clearly why. But if we already want a king, that’s the procedure to follow.
To get back to moshiach, please help me out. And it it mandatory to have a king, who by definition can commit aggression in impunity?

First of all, I’ve touched these subjects in these two posts.

The technical answer is that the Yerushalmi’s nusach shmoneh esrei is sans את צמח דוד. Since I don’t want a powerful king (a voluntary privately funded Davidic figurehead is fine) I find it silly to dedicate a special bracha to one, and I don’t like davening for something I don’t want. I may as well be a Hare Krishna chanting stoner if I do that. Unlike the תפילה לשלום המדינה though, I will still say את צמח דוד if asked to daven in חזרת הש״ץ because I can self-interpret as praying for the return of a Davidic king who will set us free and then renounce power. This is what I think will actually happen. I cannot justify praying for State leaders in any way though, not to myself at least.

There are two sides to the machloket of malchut (kingship). The Bavli believes in a king as mandatory. The Yerushalmi does not, including the Abarbanel and the Ibn Ezra. But this is all trivia, interesting and fun, but doesn’t get to the point. Let’s cut straight to the heart of the matter. I don’t mince words or baffle with bull.

What is Halacha? What is the point of it?

Let me begin with an example that just happened yesterday, fortuitously or so set up by God, who knows. Not very often does a yoreh yoreh question come up in my house. It just happened to yesterday. My wife was looking for a gift for her mom’s birthday. She came across a site that sells gourmet licorice candy. No hechsher, so we looked at the ingredients. They all look fine, except for something called “shellac”.
We google it. It’s basically bug juice. For whatever reason I have never encountered the question of shellac before, though I admit I really should have, because it is ubiquitous. I tell my wife it can’t be kosher, because it is “a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand”. That certainly sounds traif to me.
I say to my wife, pretty much these words, “Look, the only way it can be kosher is if some posek makes an argument that it’s equivalent to bee’s honey on the logic that the resin is basically bug feces instead of bug juice produced from the bug’s body. But that sounds really stretchy, and the only reason honey was ever considered kosher is that it’s in the Tanach way too many times and there’s no way that any authority can consider it traif. So they had to come up with some excuse.”
For a few minutes I just assumed it was traif and that we couldn’t get the licorice candy. But then I don’t know what happened, we Googled it again, and turns out, lo and behold! Rav Moshe actually paskins in Igros Moshe Yoreh De’ah II:24 (II is really volume 5) that shellac is indeed kosher, goes through all the sources, does his pilpul, weighs the sides, and shellac is kosher because it’s equivalent to bee honey etc. I found the teshuva on hebrewbooks.org but annoyingly the meat of the teshuva is missing from the pdf file which inexplicably skips from page 31 to 34 and I don’t have a hard copy. (I still have my Yeshivish reading skills and they haven’t dimmed, so I can can still read this stuff pretty quickly.)
So here’s the issue nobody wants to confront. Did Rav Moshe really TEST whether shellac comes from digestion or whether it’s secreted from a gland like pig’s milk? Did anyone actually test it? Did anyone put the bug under a microscope and see where the shellac is coming from? Is there a lab test cited in any teshuva anywhere on the lac bug?
No. Absolutely not. There is no test. Nobody, at least no Rabbi or posek, knows whether shellac is feces or secretion. All they know is how to cite sources and make logical assumptions that follow, that could be completely wrong when up against physical reality. I’m not saying that shellac is either secretion or feces. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I’m saying that in order to arrive at his psak, Rav Moshe did not ask for a lab report on shellac. It didn’t matter.
The point is, whether shellac is kosher halachically or not has nothing to do with the actual physical, ontological question of what this stuff actually is. Conclusion: It’s all a game.

Halacha is a game. This is not to demean halacha, put it down, encourage people to break with the system or anything else. It is simply a statement of fact. Deal with it how you want, that’s what Halacha is. Its core is not ontological reality about what things are. Its core is shakla vetarya about what you can prove through sources that begin with the Gemara through a game of logic and quoting and rules of interpretation and how far you can stretch them. That’s it. That’s what it is, regardless of what you feel about it or want to believe.

At bottom – at the core of it – why is shellac kosher? Because it’s everywhere, in every fruit and vegetable waxed with shellac for presentation, in every candy, it is unavoidable by the average person who doesn’t want to grow his own fruit and vegetable garden. There is simply no way that Rav Moshe can possibly say that shellac is traif with the stuff being everywhere. So he came up with a halachic (game) reason why it’s kosher. Fine. He played the game, by the rules, and he found an answer.

Shellac is by far not the only manifestation of this. Why is turkey kosher? Because, according to the game, it’s a chicken. Is it a chicken? No, a turkey is not a chicken. But halachically it’s a chicken because somebody in the game said so. I eat turkey. You probably eat turkey. It is in no way a chicken. It just isn’t. It’s traif. But it’s kosher because by the time somebody asked the question, everybody was eating it already.

A woman that bleeds vaginally constantly, can she have sex with her husband, ever? Yes, because she is able to “intuit” if her blood is period blood or some kind of other abnormal wound. Is that real? Who cares. You can’t tell a couple to divorce because of this, so you just play the game.

Is a conservative or reform marriage a halachic marriage? If it is, half the Jewish people are mamzerim and can’t marry with the other half of the Jewish people, because they don’t do gets when they divorce and everything goes to hell if they have any kids from a second marriage. So Rav Moshe says there are no edim to anything at these “weddings”, it’s not a marriage, it’s just pritzus, and the nation stays together because the kids are not mamzerim. Are there really no edim? What about the hundreds of people watching? What if 2 of them are halachic? Do you have to test at each wedding? No. Why? Who cares. He answered how he had to answer. There was no other choice.

This extends into the issue of Agunot. This issue really pisses me off to no end. I hate men who don’t give their wives a get out of spite. I hate them and I understand the urge to beat them to within an inch of their lives until they give it over.

But I’m also against beating people who have not been violent. Refusing a get is not violent. It’s just assholery. It’s the equivalent of a boycott. So why not, for the love of God, set up a halachic court on the logic of the Rambam of כופין אותו עד שיאמר רוצה אני, spin in a little מקח טעות or whatever you want to say and have the court give the expletive get and end this misery!?

Halacha is a game. It’s a valuable game. Without the halachic game, there would be no Jewish people. We would not have survived. I believe we all have a chiyuv to play the game, and live within the rules of the game, up until the point where it conflicts with morality. That is why I consider myself a halacha following Jew. Anyone who disagrees is free to not count me in your minyan, one guy for not saying the Prayer for the State of Israel, another for saying halacha is a game.

But I do not confuse ontological reality as I perceive it, with a game. I don’t say את צמח דוד because I don’t want to. Because I don’t believe in it. If someone tells me that halachically, according to some game, a king has a right to just take my property because he’s king, or kill someone for insulting him, and quote me a bunch of Rishonim that say so, then the game has crossed the lines into being immoral and evil, and at that point I stop playing. I exit the game, I go into actual ontological reality, I draw my line, I’m telling you where it is, and that’s it.

Anyone can justify any murderous halacha any time. Eradicate Amalek, man woman and child, this people is Amalek here’s my pilpul, kill the babies, I’m yotzeh.

A Rabbi says I should be happy paying taxes because taxes go to chessed. Do I laugh at him for being ludicrous or do I play the game because he’s a halachic player? I laugh at him. A turkey being kosher I don’t care. I have no moral opinion about whether turkeys should be kosher or not. Let them players play. But I have a real moral opinion about whether taxes are good. They are not, and no Rabbi, not Moshiach himself, can convince me otherwise. So if Moshiach levies taxes, I know he’s a fake.

A State sponsored Rabbi, who makes his living through taxes, tells me it’s my religious obligation to pay taxes, do I listen to him because he’s part of some game, or do I tell him that really, he’s wong? He’s wrong. I won’t play the game anymore. I know when to play, and I know when to exit.

So let me get back to that paragraph. I do not recognize the right of Moshiach to have any power over me. I am human, he is human. He has a role, I have a role. Quote me whatever you want, I don’t play the game that far, not into NAP territory. Once you get to the NAP, I go into ontological reality and out of the halachic realm.

If there is a source within the game that justifies my position, good. In the case of את צמח דוד, there is the Yerushalmi, and Shmuel HaNavi, and Abarbanel and Ibn Ezra and whoever else I care to gather, I take that, regardless of whether “we” (whoever “we” is) paskin that way or not, and I adopt it. And that’s it. I’m out of the game at that point, so stop trying to bring me back in. I’m not playing anymore.

Pruzbul is a game. Eradication of Yibum is a game. Heter Mechira is a game. So is Otzar Beis Din. So you play it. That’s all legitimate out-of-NAP territory, pick your side, I don’t care. But don’t try to tell me that some guy has a right to steal from me because a game says so. I’ll find a source that says the opposite, and tell you it’s correct not because “we paskin that way” according to some made up rules, but because, ontologically, it’s correct.

Conclusion

The first time someone objected to me, in the smaller minyan, not saying the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel, he said to me, after davening, “Halachically  you have to.” So I said, “Then I’m against Halacha.” Because really, I’m not interested in playing a game about what is moral and what isn’t. I know what is moral and what isn’t. I judge it for myself. I decide personally. I have a mind, given to me by God, so I use it. Nobody else dare decide morality for me. They can help and advise if I ask, but I make the final decision with my own mind. 

I have no interest in playing the Halachic game with people on the legitimacy of morality. I will play halacha as far as the NAP, and no further. Any further and I will find the sources to defend myself if I’m interested in doing so, just to show I’m not alone, and I’m not. There are anarchic sources for every position I have. For me at least.

Pick your values. Stick to them. Halacha is a value of mine. I believe God told me to play the game. I can’t prove that at all, to anyone. So I play it, because I value it. Without halacha there would be no Jews. And Jews are necessary for the liberation of the planet. But if halacha ever conflicts with my core values, I pick my values, and ditch the game.

I call on you to do the same.