Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thoughts on Rest, The Peoples World Conference on Climate Change, and What Will Become of Municipal Bonds in 2011?

12/21/2010 Cochabamba, Bolivia Pop in your mints

As the days of 2010 wind down and the markets begin to calm down for the upcoming Holidays, we here at The Mint will take a few days to relax and unwind.  Relaxation, the art of doing nothing, either physically or mentally, is extremely underrated in today’s go-go society.  God gave us the Sabbath when He created all that we know and see and later commanded us to observe it.  The logic of relaxing at least one day a week is infallible.  Anyone who has worked weeks on end will tell you they are completely stressed out and tired.  Even plants and fields produce more abundantly for longer periods of time if you give them adequate rest, which would be every 7th year.

Anyone who has been alive for a while and put their mind to the question will tell you that no, we humans are not logical beings.  Therefore, with few exceptions, we fail to observe Sabbaths (i.e. we don’t rest!)  Our weekends are full of activities which rarely count as restful.  Our Holidays and vacations are often more demanding than everyday life.  Yes, moments of pure, blissful rest are few and far between on this wonderful planet.

We are still here in Bolivia.  Our In-Law’s house, where we are staying, is a stone’s throw away from the stadium in Tiquipaya where Evo Morales, the first indigenous President in Bolivian History, recently held the “The People's World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights.”

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Tiwanaku, Tension on the Korean Peninsula, And a War that will Benefit No One

12/20/2010 Cochabamba, Bolivia Pop in your mints

We are still whiling away the time here in Bolivia.  The food here is different, the result of years of more than 34 ethnic groups exchanging and mixing recipes.  “Silpancho”, for example, is a dish of rice and potatoes covered by a razor thin meat patty with a fried egg and chopped peppers on top.  It is like a meat pancake with egg on top.  Perhaps one day it will appear on the menu at IHOP. 

Bolivia is rich in History.  The most dominant culture in the “Altiplano” (High Plain) of the Andes Mountain Range which occupies much of Western Bolivia was the Tiwanaku.  The Tiwanaku, to which the present day Aymara of Western Bolivia trace their origins, began as a small agricultural village around 1500 BC.  Around 400 AD, the population began to urbanize and went from being a local force to a predatory state.  They learned the way of Empire.  What is the way of Empire, you may ask?  Simply put, it is to dominate by force, create trade agreements, create cults (religion), demand tribute, and control the “redistribution” of what is collected as tribute.  Does this sound familiar?

In the case of the Tiwanaku, their form of tribute was food.  They took the food production from regions located in what are now Peru, Bolivia, and Chile and then redistributed it according to the political need of the elites.  The Empire spread due to its continued food surpluses until a widespread drought occurred and food production began to slow and, consequently, the influence of the Tiwanaku began to weaken until, in 1000 AD, what was left of the Tiwanaku Empire simply disappeared.  Later to the region came the Incan and later the Spanish conquerors but before they came, this area lay desolate for nearly 450 years.