Friday, March 5, 2010

Red Bull, Red meat and Red Policy

One of the biggest businesses in America today is the peddling of “energy drinks.” However, one thing most of them have in common is they have a very low actual energy content and a very high content of stimulants like caffeine. Energy and stimulation are two very different things. Funny enough, through clever marketing, the term calorie, has come to mean, a measurement of unhealthiness rather than what it scientifically means. The term calorie is a measurement of energy content, just like BTU, watt or horsepower. For instance a gallon of gas contains about 114,000 BTUs of energy or the potential for 44.8 horse power hr. at the rate of 100% efficient conversion. That same measurement of heat and work can be converted to nutritional calories (28,727). In the case of motive power via internal combustion engine or human power, the delivered energy (for work) is less than the input energy which is due to heat loss and combustion/digestion inefficiencies. If this type of science interest you here is a great website, otherwise the point is, a calorie is the energy; marked, measured and quantified (digestibility is another factor altogether).

A stimulant however, is an un-natural compound (to the body) that usually causes a reaction in the nervous system or metabolism that gives a person the impression of energy. In certain cases an artificial stimulant may simulate a naturally produced chemical in the body (or the result of the role of the natural compound) so closely that the body may cease to produce that compound, causing many adverse and potentially deadly side effects; methamphetamine is a good example. Let’s take the product 5 Hour Energy for example; I believe this product engages in false advertising. This product claims only 4 calories yet a body at rest still uses 40 calories per hour just to maintain systems. Therefore for them to claim 5 hours of “energy” it should have at least 201 calories. This product may have other compounds that aid the digestion or conversion of stored energy in the body, but if the body does not have a reserve of potential energy to convert, and work is required, the primary functions of the body will be harmed and the body will convert muscle and bone to energy with devastating results. In our decadent society a trim and “sexy” body with low fat reserves is appealing, thus the addictions to stimulants and the untold number of side effects they bring. Stimulants have become a substitute for proper eating habits and prudent physical care.

Of course a perfect natural human would have no need for stimulants of any kind. Maintaining a balanced diet of digestible fat, protein and carbohydrate calories, and fulfilling the bodies need for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other core factors required to properly replicate DNA, maintain body temperature and produce work is all we need.

Remarkably, the natural physical order of human kind as well as the natural laws of science (the Laws of Thermodynamics in particular) are very similar if not directly analogous to economics and society in general.

First of all economically speaking we can only describe and measure the economic energy stored by goods and services. Like protein, carbs and fat have a potential energy so do goods and services have potential energy that can not be realized until digested. The digestion of goods and services is called voluntary exchange of goods and services, which requires a good or service be demanded by one party and supplied by another either in direct swap for good or service or by an intermediary good found desirable to both parties (currency). Historically, this mutually desirable intermediary good has been gold or silver because in itself it holds a recognizable value. This intermediary good allows inequitable direct exchanges, like a bushel of wheat for a cow; gold acting as the difference in value. Or the intermediary can act as a tool in exchange through a middle man who holds goods or services in inventory. This very brief and simple explanation draws a very close similarity to a healthy human eating right and converting energy to work, in the sense that there is very little energy lost in the trade due to the purity of the supply and demand and mutually acceptable (incorruptible) intermediary good.

Today we have moved quite far from this model of economic health. We no longer have a reliable intermediary good as we have substituted it with a “token of faith” (the dollar). Unlike gold or silver which require human effort to mine and refine, and has many uses, the dollar can be produced at will, and other than its perceived value it only holds a few BTUs of heat if burned. As we add “money” to the economy the value of all money in the market is diminished because it is not tied to productivity. From a health perspective this is like a man eating a one pound, five hundred calorie totally balanced meal and having the components of the meal gradually replaced with 0 net calorie celery. The man may still feel full but the net effect is he will die; you can’t substitute quantity for quality.

As the man’s body begins to use its reserves his appetite may increase. Feeling sickly, he just might increase his daily intake of celery; borrowing from future rations. With the increase in rations he may fell satisfied after a meal but that is merely a perception, as his body eats itself for energy. He then might try to display an upbeat attitude, rejecting reality. Being ignorant to the fact that he is not bringing any new energy into his body he would likely resort to stimulants to speed his metabolism and nervous system giving him the perception of energy, blind to the fact that he is only speeding the process of death.

Our economy acts the same way yet we are surprised with its illness. We have countless times interfered with the natural process in order to get high. As we become too proud to take certain manufacturing jobs, they go overseas; energy lost. We allow parasites to come into the country unlawfully and pack the money out; energy lost. We import far more then we export; a net loss of energy in the exchange. In the mean time we demand a more decadent lifestyle and by golly if enough people want something in an immoral democracy you’ll find a politician to promise all the bread and circuses imaginable, even while living with the highest standards the earth has ever seen. The people demand a feeling of health not knowing they are dead men walking. In absence of real energy in the economy we fake it with the placebo effect of increasing the quantity of money; which does work for a while until perception meets reality. We attempt to stimulate the economy by artificially valuing the dollar by placing non-market interest rates on the market; discouraging thrift and encouraging moral peril. We live off hopes of a better tomorrow not satisfied with our earnings of today while using our last energy to dig our own grave. We “create” jobs and production with no demand for the product; busy work, like walking on a treadmill. There are so many more examples of how we have not only strayed from, but out right shunned the natural capital market place. We are not a free market economy in America any more; far from it. But we don’t really care that we are chronically unhealthy as long as we feel good. We have made our diet meth and celery; we feel like a million bucks. In our arrogance we think we can recreate the natural process to fit our will. The process a five year old can explain over dinner. Our perception serves as our reality, in absence of the truth. But alas, the truth remains.

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