Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
They Said It:
One of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it among their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of a habitation — and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways, as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would, be broken. No one generation could link with another. Men would become little better than the flies of a summer.
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.
SUMMER READING LIST, PART III.
Almost two decades ago, we wrote two articles containing a recommended reading list of books that we thought our clients would find interesting. Our corporate superiors thought they were of somewhat dubious value. We are a brokerage house, they not so gently explained, not a library. It is one thing to explain to clients how politics matter to the markets, but it’s something else altogether simply to tell people what to read. If people need someone to tell them what they should take with them to the beach this summer, they already have Oprah Winfrey! They don’t need you (two) too!
Well, we disagreed. We thought that the two articles (which can be found here and here) were informative and interesting. And, you know what? Our clients thought so too. Not, by the way, because they had never heard of these books, but because they had not only heard of them but had read many of them and enjoyed being reminded of the wisdom contained therein and the relevance of this wisdom in their day to day activities.
And yes, the books that we recommended to our readers lo those many years ago are still here. And they are still important. Indeed, they are, in our opinion, still among the most valuable sources of knowledge and insight into human behavior – and thus market behavior – that anyone could possibly hope to find anywhere. Universal truths, you see, are just that, universal, which is to say that they are enduring, never changing, and broadly applicable across a vast array of human endeavors.
Once, back then, a reader said to us, in gentle jest, you guys have just written another piece without an original thought. He was referring, of course, to our penchant for quoting others, often from the books on our recommended reading list. We gently replied to him that anyone who thinks he or she has had an original thought simply hasn’t read enough.
We got to thinking about these two articles – our reading lists – and about the usefulness of universal truths recently as we contemplated two very important news stories and especially the ever present analysis of these issues by the experts on TV. It’s not that the analysis was bad or wrong. Indeed, one can scarcely question the expertise of most of the experts that appear on TV in these news shows. They are almost always among the nation’s very best informed individuals on any given subject.
The problem, though, is that the goal of these programs is to reach a maximum number of people. Success is measured in something called “ratings.” That means “don’t be boring,” especially to the marginal viewer, the channel surfer. It also means that all news stories, big or small, need to be announced big, with a loud noise – BREAKING NEWS. It must be IMPORTANT. And the viewer must be told that it is. Then it must be delivered quickly. Experts get two minutes apiece, if that. And there’s something else. That being that the American educational system has been on a downhill spiral for several decades. Which means – like it or not – that younger Americans have not been taught, among other things, critical thinking skills. Moreover, their sense of history is limited. Not all of them are in this sad state, mind you. But remember, the marginal viewer is the target. Especially, the marginal viewer among the younger crowd, because they are the biggest consumers, the “target audience,” the ones who drive the ratings. In short, then, the news is being increasingly dumbed down.
Of course, we can’t do anything about that. But we can, as we did almost 20 years ago, remind our readers to take a break once in a while from the frenzy and general shallowness of the news business today and go back to the wisdom of the past.
One the stories that brought this to mind was China.
As you well know, stock markets have been tumbling in China. Long story short: the Chinese government inflated a stock bubble and is now having a hell of a time dealing with the fallout as the bubble bursts. Long story longer: the Chinese government has long been in the business of directing China’s economy and manipulating it in all sorts of ways to suit its purposes. The Chinese government and the Sinophiles in the West have, for almost as long, cheered the erstwhile Communists’ decision to encourage state-sanctioned “capitalism” and thus to encourage rapid and impressive economic growth. China is now the largest or the second-largest economy in the world, depending on the measure used, and all of the “smart” people in Washington, Wall Street, Omaha, and Redmond, among other places, have insisted that, because of this, the Twenty-First will be a glorious “Chinese Century.”
In layman’s terms, what has been going on in China over the past thirty years or so is what’s called a “planned economy.” Although some measure of economic freedom has become the norm, the Chinese government still guides, directs, and plans the economy, its growth, its winners and losers, and its effect on the nation and the world more broadly. Western statists, of course, think this is great. And they’ve cheered the Chinese model for years. Or at least they did until a few weeks ago, when the bottom fell out of the Chinese stock markets.
Now, of course, even the most ardent statists are dubious of the Chinese government’s abilities, as it tries and fails to prop up the cratering stock market. As you may have noticed, however, there’s something strange about the criticism leveled against the Chinese by its erstwhile supporters in the West. Something is not quite right.
Consider, if you will, the following from a column this past weekend by one of this nation’s premier statist economists, the New York Times’ very own Nobel Prize Winner, Paul Krugman.
In and of itself, the price of Chinese equities shouldn’t matter all that much. But the authorities have chosen to put their credibility on the line by trying to control that market — and are in the process of demonstrating that, China’s remarkable success over the past 25 years notwithstanding, the nation’s rulers have no idea what they’re doing. . . .
China’s leaders appear to be terrified — probably for political reasons — by the prospect of even a brief recession. So they’ve been pumping up demand by, in effect, force-feeding the system with credit, including fostering a stock market boom. Such measures can work for a while, and all might have been well if the big reforms were moving fast enough. But they aren’t, and the result is a bubble that wants to burst.
China’s response has been an all-out effort to prop up stock prices. Large shareholders have been blocked from selling; state-run institutions have been told to buy shares; many companies with falling prices have been allowed to suspend trading. These are things you might do for a couple of days to contain an obviously unjustified panic, but they’re being applied on a sustained basis to a market that is still far above its level not long ago.
What do Chinese authorities think they’re doing? . . . .
The big news here isn’t about the Chinese economy; it’s about China’s leaders. Forget everything you’ve heard about their brilliance and foresightedness. Judging by their current flailing, they have no clue what they’re doing.
Notice how Krugman thinks that it is important for all of us to know that the Chinese leaders are the problem here, not the entire Chinese economic model? They don’t know what they’re doing. By extension, someone else might know better. And that someone just might be Krugman – or, presumably, his political acolytes. This stuff – i.e. the economy – can be managed, but only if it is managed by the proper person or persons. In the Western critique, then, the Chicomms are gone, but the planning remains. Planning is everything.
This is garbage, of course. And Krugman is a moron.
Aha, you say. But he won a Nobel Prize and you didn’t. And that’s true. But we read Hayek and understood him. Krugman clearly didn’t. And as we put it in out first summer reading list nineteen-and-a-half years ago, “no writer has ever presented the economic and social dangers of modern day liberalism better than this Nobel laureate.”
The Sinophiles would – and have – countered that Hayek has no bearing on China, because China is a former socialist country. China, they’d argue, hasn’t practiced the dark arts of Marxism in over a generation, which explains why its growth has been so impressive and so magnificent over the last three decades. Freed from the shackles of doctrinaire socialism and embracing controlled, directed capitalism, China has not only beaten the world, but has shown the way forward in the process.
Would that it were so. Fortunately, those of us who have read Friedrich Hayek understand why this simply cannot be and why socialism and “planned capitalism” are merely two sides of the same coin. The following comes from an introduction from his classic The Road To Serfdom written a few years after it was first published in 1944. If you are inclined to read more selected quotes from the book, check in here.
Yet though hot socialism is probably a thing of the past, some of its conceptions have penetrated far too deeply into the whole structure of current thought to justify complacency. If few people in the Western world now want to remake society from the bottom according to some ideal blueprint, a great many still believe in measures which, though not designed completely to remodel the economy, in their aggregate effect may well unintentionally produce this result. And, even more than at the time when I wrote this book, the advocacy of policies which in the long run cannot be reconciled with the preservation of a free society is no longer a party matter.
There is some danger that our impatience for quick results may lead us to choose instruments which, though perhaps more efficient for achieving the particular ends, are not compatible with the preservation of a free society. The increasing tendency to rely on administrative coercion and discrimination where a modification of the general rules of law might, perhaps more slowly, achieve the same object . . . is still a powerful legacy of the socialist period which is likely to influence policy for a long time to come.
The process through which certain kinds of measures can destroy the bases of an economy based on the market and gradually smother the creative powers of a free civilization seems now of the greatest importance. Only if we understand why and how certain kinds of economic controls tend to paralyze the driving forces of a free society, and which kinds of measures are particularly dangerous in this respect, can we hope that social experimentation will not lead us into situations none of us want.
Ah, yes. “Situations none of us want.” “Economic controls that paralyze the driving force of a society.”
And so now, as equities markets crash, creating a situation none of us wants, the Chinese authorities are trying to fix the situation, cutting interest rates, mandating share buybacks, and generally trying desperately to figure out how to fix the problems of economic paralysis. And while nearly everyone agrees that it is both futile and potentially quite dangerous for the Chinese to prop up their markets, almost no one seems willing to talk about how and why the Chinese government got into this situation in the first place.
They agree that this bit of “planning” is a disaster, but say nothing about the planning that led to this point. What about the decades of using debt almost exclusively for commercial funding and the tightly managed use of equity? What about the massive real estate bubble, which the government facilitated with the construction of ghost towns and a ridiculous building boom? What about the way in which the Chinese officials sought to minimize the impact of a bursting real estate bubble by creating and/or permitting the inflation of another asset bubble? Yes, the Chinese state has demonstrated its incompetence as the stock market has fallen, but its actions here are only necessary reactions to steps taken (or not taken) years before, all with the specific goal of creating wealth for favored populations. To whom must the Chinese government answer for that incompetence?
Now, we are not experts on this subject, but clearly the problem that China has had from the very start is that it has attempted to graft capitalism onto a socialist foundation rather than the other way around as has been the case in Europe and the United States. The result is that their system has little room for the universal truths that still help to keep the creeping socialism of Europe and America somewhat in check. In China, this lack naturally leads to moral confusion, which leads to corruption, which is poisonous both to the economy and to social order.
Bear with us a minute as we turn briefly to a few tidbits of wisdom from the past that might help us understand a little better the mess in China. These tidbits are not all from from Hayek. But they nevertheless influenced Hayek. He too believed in universal truths, after all, and in building on the truths revealed by his forerunners.
And to that end, we will begin with Adam Smith.
The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capital would not only load himself with most unnecessary attention but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of man who have folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.
Then there’s David Hume.
We shall suppose that a creature, possessed of reason, but unacquainted with human nature, deliberates with himself what rules of justice or property would best promote public interest, and establish peace and security among mankind: His most obvious thought would be, to assign the largest possessions to the most extensive virtue, and give every one the power of doing good, proportioned to his inclination. In a perfect theocracy, where a being, infinitely intelligent, governs by particular volitions, this rule would certainly have place, and might serve to the wisest purposes:
But were mankind to execute such a law; so great is the uncertainty of merit, both from its natural obscurity, and from the self-conceit of each individual, that no determinate rule of conduct would ever result from it; and the total dissolution of society must be the immediate consequence. Fanatics may suppose, that dominion is founded on grace, and that saints alone inherit the earth; but the civil magistrate very justly puts these sublime theorists on the same footing with common robbers, and teaches them by the severest discipline, that a rule, which, in speculation, may seem the most advantageous to society, may yet be found, in practice, totally pernicious and destructive.
And Ludwig Von Mises, Hayek’s onetime supervisor.
Socialism is not a realizable system of society’s economic organization because it lacks any method of economic calculation . . . The establishment of this truth does not amount to a depreciation of the conclusiveness and the convincing power of the antisoscialist argument derived from the impairment of productivity to be expected from socialism. The weight of this objection to the socialist plans is so overwhelming that no judicious man could hesitate to choose capitalism. Yet this would be a choice between alternative systems of society’s economic organization, preference given to one system against another. However, such is not the alternative. Socialism cannot be realized because it is beyond human power to establish it as a social system. The choice is between capitalism and chaos. A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings. To stress this point is the task of economics as it is that task of biology and chemistry to teach that potassium cyanide is not a nutriment but a deadly poison.
And full circle back to Hayek himself once again.
From the two central features of every collectivist system the need for a commonly accepted system of ends of the group and the all-overriding desire to give to the group the maximum of power to achieve these ends, grows a definite system of morals, which on some points coincides and on others violently contrasts with ours — but differs from it in one point which makes it doubtful whether we can call it morals; that it does not leave the individual conscience free to apply its own rules and does not even know any general rules which the individual is required or allowed to observe in all circumstances. This makes collectivist morals so different from what we have known as morals that we find it difficult to discover any principle in them, which they nevertheless possess . . . The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule; there is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves “the good of the whole,” because the “good of the whole” is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done. The raison d’etat, in which collectivist ethics has found its most explicit formulation, knows no other limit than that set by expediency — the suitability of the particular act for the end in view.
To be a useful assistant in the running of a totalitarian state, it is not enough that a man should be prepared to accept specious justification of vile deeds; he must himself be prepared actively to break every moral rule he has ever known if this seems necessary to achieve the end set for him. Since it is the supreme leader who alone determines the ends, his instruments must have no moral convictions of their own. They must, above all, be unreservedly committed to the person of the leader; but next to this the most important thing is that they should be completely unprincipled and literally capable of everything. They must have no ideals of their own which they want to realize; no ideas about right or wrong which might interfere with the intentions of the leader. There is thus in the positions of power little to attract those who hold moral beliefs of the kind which in the past have guided the European peoples . . . Yet while there is little that is likely to induce men who are good by our standards to aspire to leading positions . . . and much to deter them, there will be special opportunities for the ruthless and unscrupulous.
So China is in a mess. Interestingly – and unsurprisingly – China is in a mess that was not only entirely predictable, but one that was in fact predicted, by ourselves, among others. Additionally, and more to the point, the Chinese mess is a variation of the same mess that plagues Greece and the Eurozone today. Some analysts say that we should pay attention to Greece more than China. Others insist that it’s the other way around. Both are right, and neither. What we have in both cases is the same problem, albeit from slightly different angles. Planning, planning, planning.
Now, as we said above, there is another story that has had us contemplating the wisdom of the ages, a second story that appears to have been ripped almost verbatim from our reading lists. In our second reading list, published almost seventeen years ago, we recommended a book that was extremely controversial then and is even more so now. Way back when, we discussed this book as follows:
The second novel on this list has never been, nor is it ever likely to be, acclaimed as one of the greatest of the century. But it could probably be described as one of the most controversial. It is The Camp of the Saints, by French author Jean Raspail, winner of the Jean-Walter Prize from the highly prestigious Academie Francaise.
The story is about the destruction of European civilization at the hands of a million or so desperately poor, starving, uncouth and uncivilized individuals, who arrive on the shores of France after a month’s long voyage in an armada of leaky, dilapidated ships from the region of the Ganges.
This is an extraordinary book. It has been described by various reviewers as “an apocalyptic novel,” “a philosophical dissection of the erosion of Western civilization,” “a macabre thriller,” “a haunting book of irresistible force and calm logic,” and “a thriller to make Hollywood pale by comparison.” But probably the greatest compliment that could be paid to it is that it has been reviled by liberals since it was first published in the United States by Charles Scribner in 1975. It was recently republished by The Social Contract Press.
The principal complaint of the book’s critics is that it is “racist,” because it raises the specter of societal destruction by unchecked immigration from a Third World nation. Personally, we don’t think it is any more racist than any of thousands of other novels and stories that have been published down through the ages that deal with the tensions that inevitably arise when vastly different civilizations and cultures mix. In fact, we think the objection that most liberals have toward this book has nothing to do with racism.
We think it relates to the devastating way in which Raspail portrays the hypocritical and sanctimonious liberal reaction to the news that the flotilla is on the way. Space doesn’t permit too many of the darkly hilarious statements by liberal French intellectuals to the pending “redemption of the Ganges armada.”
But the following quote will, I think, provide a flavor of Raspail’s rhetoric.
To claim that the news of the fleet’s departure caused any great alarm in the Western World when it first became known, would be plainly untrue. Which is doubtless why there was no lack of clever folk, willing, from the start, to spread endless layers of verbal cream, spurting thick and unctuous from the udders of their minds . . . Real world drama, served in the comfort of home by [expletive deleted] Mass Media, only stirs up the void where Western opinion has long been submerged. Someone drools at a current event, and mistakes his drivel for meaningful thought. Still, let’s not be too quick to spit our scorn its way. Empty drivel indeed, but it shows nonetheless how reading the papers or watching the news can provoke at least the appearance of thinking. Like Pavlov’s dog, whose slobber revealed the mechanics of instinct. Opinion shakes up its sloth, nothing more.
For all the names Raspail has been called over the years – racist, fascist, reactionary – the word that probably fits best is “prophet.” For years now, Europe has been committing slow-motion suicide, gradually ceding more and more of its land to immigrants and ceding more and more of its culture to these new arrivals, who migrate in pursuit of a better life – the lives they have in Europe – but nevertheless refuse to integrate into the society that provides the foundation for these better lives. “Multiculturalism” has been source of endless turmoil in Europe, everything from child-sex/rape rings in Britain to anti-Semitism in France; from the planned assassinations of journalists and cartoonists throughout in Denmark and Paris to ever more violent anti-gay beatings in the erstwhile “most tolerant city in the world,” Amsterdam. And the political Left, of course, not only refuses to acknowledge the failure of the multicultural scheme, but insists that those who dare question its charms are little more than moral reprobates incapable of enlightened thought.
While all of this has been the status quo in Europe for years and years, nothing could have prepared Europe to see its slow-motion suicide kick into fast-motion and to witness the real-life arrival of a “Ganges armada.” Nothing, that is, except Raspail’s book, which is shunned by decent folk for causing them to think about the folly of the cult of multiculturalism. Nevertheless, an armada is upon them. And as the Daily Express (of London) noted last week, this armada remains largely undaunted, no matter what half-assed effort authorities make to dissuade them:
The protest has taken place after negotiations with the French government over job cuts broke down. Fires, which are currently blocking access to the harbour, have plunged the crisis zone into further chaos.
It comes after Britain’s borders faced more disruption last night as hundreds of migrants including children stormed the Eurotunnel. David Cameron has said Britain is threatened by a “swarm” of foreigners and the migrant crisis in Calais was likened to a “warzone.”
Migrants were pictured clinging to a lorry as they left the port of Dover, while others in Calais were seen clambering over fences with children in tow. More than 4,000 increasingly aggressive and desperate migrants largely from war-torn failed African states have stormed through fences in a bid to clamber aboard trains to ‘El Dorado’ UK. An estimated 150 have made it to Britain’s shores, with some claiming an increased feeling nationwide that the country is under siege. Mr Cameron, meanwhile, remains in Vietnam and Theresa May has refused to call in military support to help the beleagured French forces. . . .
Natalie Chapman, of the Freight Transport Association, likened the scenes of chaos in Calais to a “warzone” and fears it is only a matter of time till a British driver gets killed in the French port. She said: “The situation in Calais has been escalating over the last few months and you think it can’t get any worse – and then it does.
“For lorry drivers trying to get to the UK it’s like a warzone. You’ve got people who have made in many cases very long and dangerous journeys to try to get to the UK who will stop at nothing to try to get on board. Despite the numbers of migrants flooding into Britain, Mr Cameron has insisted the border with France is secure although he did admit the threat was very real.
For those who may not know and who might think that the United States is the only country in the world with an illegal immigration crisis, the European calamity is, if possible, even worse than its American counterpart. Over the weekend, in one of the few American major news outlet pieces on the European problem, The New York Times’ Roger Cohen gave just a taste of the magnitude and potential consequences of Europe’s immigration collapse. He put it this way:
Europe is caught between those who want to get in, those who want to get out, and those who want to destroy it. The incomers are desperate, the outbound are angry and the destroyers are brandishing flags. This triple onslaught has, for the first time in its history, left the 28-member European Union more vulnerable to fracture than it is susceptible to further integration.
A near borderless Europe at peace constitutes the great achievement of the second half of the 20th century. That you can go from Germany to Poland across a frontier near effaced and scarcely imagine the millions slaughtered seven decades ago is testament to the accomplishment. The European Union is the dullest miracle on earth.
This Europe is not at immediate risk of disintegration. But it is fraying. Let’s start with those who want to get in. They have nothing to lose because they have lost everything. In many cases they are from Afghanistan (at war since anyone can remember), from Syria (four million refugees and counting), Somalia, Iraq, Eritrea, the Maghreb or elsewhere in Africa.
At the end of odysseys involving leaking boats and looting traffickers, these migrants are forcing their way into the Channel Tunnel. They have blocked traffic and commerce. They have provoked a flare-up of that perennial condition called Anglo-French friction. They have drawn the ire of The Daily Mail (trumpet for a lot of what’s worst in Britain). The paper thinks it may be time to deploy the army.
According to Reuters, more than 150,000 African and Asian immigrants have “invaded” Europe already this year, and just as shockingly, some 1900 more have drowned trying.
We note two additional points regarding this European immigration crisis. First, one of the reasons that Eurozone members are so desperate to keep Greece from exiting the shared currency is their fear of what will happen next. Greece is the entrance point to Europe for many of these immigrants. Greece is also broke. And it is already a social and economic mess. Without Eurozone money, Greece will, all but certainly breakdown even further, becoming a failed state and reverting, more or less to Third World status. And while a failed state in Europe is different from a failed state in, say, Africa or the Middle East, with this massive flood of immigrants from the developing world, Greece would quickly become more like the latter than the former. And given the EU’s general lack of borders, all hell could, conceivably, break loose throughout the continent. Greece’s failure does not just represent the end of the dream of a United States of Europe, it also might, in theory, represent the end of Europe altogether.
Last year, Muhammed was the most popular name for baby boys in the UK. In five, ten, fifteen years, that may be true for the rest of Europe as well. Worse still, it seems that no one – except for a handful of politicians belonging to the “conservative” parties that are generally deemed outside of the political mainstream – has even given the issues of mass immigration and mass ILLEGAL immigration any thought.
Second, we have long argued that the illegal immigration crisis in the United States is far more manageable and far less severe than the crisis in Europe, regardless of the respective numbers of immigrants. In the United States, for the most part, illegal immigrants are of European descent, are part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and speak a Romance language. They are, in Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” rhetoric, part of the West, just as is the nation to which they are immigrating.
In Europe, by contrast, the immigration crisis brings an entirely foreign culture into the birthplace of the West – several entirely foreign cultures, actually. Moreover, as poorly as many immigrants are integrated into the predominant American culture, integration in Europe is far, far worse. The European Left is far more resistant to any expressions of cultural superiority, while the European Right is divided among those who side with the Left and those who are affiliated, fairly or unfairly, with the fascist far-Right. Europe has no hope for an end to its immigration crisis short of a bloody pushback on the part of the indigenous European masses.
The parallels between what is taking place in Europe today and Jean Raspail’s forty year old novel are frankly shocking. Of course, if more people in the West – and in Europe in particular – had bothered to read the book rather than merely condemn it as racist and reactionary – they might have been better prepared for the current crisis. Or at least they might have anticipated it.
But then, that is the theme of our reading lists more generally. All of man’s problems have been seen before. As some wise man once said: “There is nothing new under the sun.” And all of our many problems have been discussed and analyzed by our much smarter and much better educated predecessors. In a sense, then, this is the very nature of conservatism, the belief that that the wisdom of our ancestors should be built upon, and not discarded as we create the world anew every couple of generations. Of course, conservatism is passe now.
By the way, the final scene in The Camp of the Saints, the liberals, monks, kind hearted women and children, and the die-hard idealist who go down to the shore to greet their “Guests from the Ganges” are quickly overrun and killed by the mob that comes ashore. Crushing everything in sight, they are “blithely unaware that this land it was about to make its own could possibly belong to others.” Western Civilization is no more.
Copyright 2015. The Political Forum. 8563 Senedo Road, Mt. Jackson, Virginia 22842, tel. 402-261-3175, fax 402-261-3175. All rights reserved. Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized services, issuer reports or communications, or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness, and we are not responsible for typographical errors. Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute only current opinions which are subject to change without notice.