Thursday, August 29, 2013

Countering the shale gas and oil BS

As someone who spent part of my childhood in northwestern North Dakota, I have been following the shale gas story with extra interest because the Bakken field seems to be the spiritual epicenter of the business.  I also know how to count so while I am very impressed by what the shale drillers can accomplish, I find anyone who makes the claim that fracking will somehow lead to energy independence for USA to be beyond ludicrous.  I mean, even in its heyday, North Dakota was never going to threaten the big sources of oil like Ghawar or Iraq.  So a secondary recovery technique like fracking in a minor oil field is not going to change much of importance.

Alexeev takes on the fracking hype with amazing clarity in the following article. Nice work!  We need to shoot down the folks who want us to believe that somehow we don't need to prefect the renewable sources any more.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On crossing swords with a big-time blogger

Nothing like waking up to discover that one of the biggest bloggers on economic topics, Yves Smith, is furious with you for calling her a bond trader.  Apparently there is some pecking order on Wall Street and bond traders are especially despised.  Or something like that.

But here's the truth.  I do not read Smith's Naked Capitalism because it doesn't help me write my blog.  Smith writes about the crimes in the financial world and the failures of neoliberalism.  Now I have considered neoliberalism an utter failure since the early 1980s and need no further convincing. I actually try to avoid the topic anymore (yeah I know, I still post about it) because it depresses the hell out of me that folks could EVER believe such absurd rubbish.

The crimes of Wall Street (and the rest of the moneychangers) pose a more complicated dilemma for me.  While I will admit enjoying descriptions of the shadier characters of the world of finance (especially when written by Matt Taibbi) I find the distinction between legal and illegal in their world to be pretty meaningless.  For example, during the 1980s, thousands of companies were destroyed by hostile takeovers.  A bunch of Predators would show up with borrowed money to buy controlling shares of a company.  Once in control, they would loot anything not nailed down such as the company nest egg set aside for future product development or the pension funds.  They would then pay themselves huge "management fees" and put the firm into hopeless debt.  The looted companies would barely last until the Predators got out of town with their ill-gotten gains.  So companies that required a hundred years of hard work and the support of the community to be able to create a going concern were destroyed for the personal benefit of a few vandals.  And this was all legal.  In fact, one of those looters ran for president in 2012 and his sociopathic economic crimes were not mentioned in the overwhelming majority of the political coverage.

In fact, virtually ALL of the activities of the world of finance have been considered a sin by almost all religious groupings in history at one time or other.  Outlaw everything condemned in the Bible and finance would shrink to 1/100th of its current size.  The problem with writing about the crimes of finance is that it presumes there are activities in the world of finance that are legitimate.  Very VERY few are.

Anyway, I want my blog to be about what can replace this love-of-money madness with something more productive.  I want to write about how we adjust to the end of the age of fire and still survive—fire being a very useful and often necessary invention and all.  I want to write about building a new world—and how to pay for all that construction.  I want to recall the best thinking humanity has ever done on the economics of the common provision.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota

Last Wednesday, a friend twisted my arm to go see a demonstration of what the University of Minnesota was up to in the obscure world of Biosystems Engineering. It was being held at an agricultural extension station a short drive from my house so even though I am very skeptical of the claims made by the biotechnology crowd, I went.  Skeptical is probably an understatement—I believe that corn-based ethanol production is one of the worst ideas in human history (a category that includes a great many examples of human folly.)  Corn production uses premium fertilizers, causes extensive soil erosion and run-off that creates problems all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and is so energy intensive, the resulting alcohol produced by ethanol conversion usually contains less energy than it took to produce that corn.  Dumb, DUMB idea!  And it is almost certain that stunningly bright folks at UM helped make corn-based ethanol happen on an industrial scale.

I drove onto the site and was confronted by THIS contraption.  As someone who has been around a lot of pre-production technology, I am pretty forgiving about what such things looks like, but this was sitting cockeyed on an old hay wagon, the best that could be said for the paint job was that it probably prevented corrosion, and there was metalfab that would get a ninth-grade metal-shop student sent to the principal for goofing off.

Roger Ruan, the man with his right arm extended in the picture below, is in charge of the UM's microwave-assisted pyrolysis micro-algae project and he stood in the hot sun enthusiastically describing all the things his contraption could do.  Pyrolysis is any technique that heats a substance in an oxygen-free environment—coke and charcoal are the two most famous materials made by the process.  His device loaded algae through that green tube at the left and is loaded into the grey tank where it gets heated by microwaves.  This reduces the algae into biofuels akin to diesel fuels, and natgas (methane) which can fuel the generator at the right which in turn powers the whole process.  The remaining char (like coke in that process) is carbon-dense from all the CO2 the algae sucks out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and best of all, if the algae has been grown in municipal waste water, it has captured the phosphorus introduced by detergents.  As phosphorus is notoriously difficult to remove from waste water, this feature alone makes microwave-assisted pyrolysis worth perfecting.  Captured phosphorus also means the char can be ground up for use as a high-quality fertilizer—at a time when there are growing shortages of ag-grade phosphorus.  What's not to like?  This is pretty much what I have in mind when I try to define Elegant Technology.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Producer Class hero is something to be

One of the news stories on the local Wisconsin televisions last Friday concerned the death of Paul Poberezny—probably the most famous guy most of you have never heard of.  In 1953, this former military flight instructor founded a club he called the Experimental Aircraft Association.  The Army Air Corps had trained thousands of pilots during WW II who hoped they could keep flying when they returned to civilian life.  Unfortunately, airplanes are always going to be expensive but Poberezny figured with the help of his organization, it would be possible for guys who really wanted to fly on a budget to build their own planes.

Poberezny would build at least five airplanes himself—besides an organization that introduced massive amounts of creativity into the world of flying.  And every year the EAA would host a fly-in at Oshkosh Wisconsin that provided absolute proof that the Instinct of Workmanship was a very real phenomenon—the levels of craftsmanship on display were literally breath-taking.  Besides row after row of these perfectly crafted homebuilts, there were lovingly restored antiques and old warbirds.  And every afternoon, there would be an airshow where some of these planes proved they could perform miraculous maneuvers.

Because Poberezny put great effort into getting the FAA to allow almost anything to be licensed for the guy who built it, the incredible costs of certification were avoided and creativity flourished.  This wasn't especially risky and when a homebuilt did crash, it was usually because the builder created a plane with far more performance than he could fly.

The Rutan VariEze (first flown 1975—hundreds built)
One of the reasons I found EAA so interesting was that it perfectly embodied one of Veblen's more obscure concepts—technological diffusion.  The EAA was able to foster those incredible levels of creativity because it could live off the "leavings" of military aviation.  This became especially true when this obvious genius named Burt Rutan introduced methods in the mid-1970s that allowed a guy in a garage to use bleeding-edge materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber.  Turns out that the composite parts made for Boeing or Lockheed are largely made by hand.  This is a major headache for production output.  But hand-built usually means cheap tools which is perfect for a homebuilder.  Besides, when your "medium" is fabric and styrofoam, you can fabricate almost any shape you can possibly imagine.  The EAA's 'golden age' was triggered by composites and the resulting designs were intensely beautiful, whimsical, and futuristic.

The lesson that EAA has taught is that USA has an abundance of technological literates.  After all, building bleeding-edge aircraft is their HOBBY.  It is people like this who built this country.  Unfortunately, this is the class of people that has been trashed by de-industrialization.  This is an insane tragedy but the EAA demonstrates what is possible should we ever decide to upgrade our devastated infrastructure.

On a recent brush with the real economy

Last Sunday, I created a post that included Rob Urie's institutional look at the triumph of neoliberalism.  In a comment, a valued regular reader (DB) suggested that we were all just following in the wake of Bill Black over at Naked Capitalism—who he assumed I read regularly.  Now I like Black a lot, and he works for one of the two schools left in USA that claim to teach heterodox, institutional economics (U. Missouri at Kansas City—U Mass Amherst is the other).  But the truth is Black is a pretty late arrival to Institutionalism and his claim to fame is that he actually helped put many of the Savings and Loan crooks in jail. It is true that many of the folks who crashed the economy in 2008 were indeed breaking some of the remaining laws put in place over the years to help minimize the predation of the creditor / rentier classes.  It is also true that we need to re-regulate the finance sector.  But the real problem is that the financial sector has always been a burden on the real economy so that whether their activities are legal or illegal is a pretty small matter compared to the fact that the FIRE sector has become so big, it is literally destroying the real economy's ability to survive.

I will admit that when I read Black, I have my "right on! yeah! let's throw them in jail, let's bring back the guillotine!" moments.  It's only natural to praise the good cops who are on the side of the good guys.  But in the end, law enforcement is but a small slice of the very necessary struggle to maximize the resources available to the real economy by minimizing the looting of the Predators.  So while I understand why folks enjoy reading Naked Capitalism, I don't read it because it is written from the POV of a paper-pusher on Wall Street.  This perspective has utterly dominated the conversation for decades.  James Carvelle, Clinton's political guru once remarked the he wanted to be reincarnated as the bond market in the next life so he could have real power. The Bonfire of the Vanities was Tom Wolff's 1980s fictional account of the triumph of the "bond bores."  It's pretty hard to miss the Wall Street perspective even when one tries to ignore it in the pursuit of understanding what is happening to the real economy.

But the fact that someone assumes that I am interested in the crime reporting over at Naked Capitalism probably means I should trot out more examples of the real economy.  And I saw an especially delicious example Friday night.  I had driven over to see Tony who was selling books at the antique tractor show in Edgar Wisconsin—it's his closest swing to Minnesota.  We were driving back to the motel when he spotted a gleaming new combine parked on very prosperous-looking dairy farm.  He stopped and insisted I take a picture  The sun was setting so we had some late summer golden-hour lighting.  I only had a Canon Powershot S95 along but I thought it worth at try.  It's a great little camera but has a small lens so low light trips it up.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Is China finally embracing green economics?

China's industrialization over the past few decades has become a combination of awesome and disgusting.  Their plan has been to attract every runaway industry on the planet by savagely exploiting the Chinese labor pool while ignoring every reasonable environmental concern.  The result has been that China is usually the world's low-cost producer and has had incredible rates of growth.  The down side is that she is experiencing catastrophic levels of pollution.

Apparently, the folks who make such decisions have decided that the rape of China's environment must come to an end.  This is a HUGE deal.  And as can be seen from this article from Spiegel, the Germans are dancing in the streets over the prospect of China making the effort to create a green industrial state.  And why would that be?  Because the Germans have been at this longer than anyone and so have the expertise to make the parts that China will need.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Solar on a major roll

When I was doing the research for Elegant Technology, it pretty quickly dawned on me that converting a society designed to run on oil and other fossil fuels (mainly) into one that could be powered by renewables was a job that was WAY beyond even the comprehension of our most enlightened and concerned community activist types.  The reason was simple—building the fossil-fuel-powered infrastructure was the accomplishment of decades of incredibly hard work and pure genius by inventors, engineers, construction workers, etc. so replacing that infrastructure with something else meant the efforts of those same sorts of people times 10 (at least).  Figuring out reliable wind turbines, solar cells, smart grids was not hippy enterprise.  The energy mix could not be changed by drum circles, good karma, or crystal stroking because at its root, these were engineering problems.

Unfortunately in the 1980s, the really great engineers in USA were not available for such tasks.  Why?  Because most of them worked for the military-industrial complex devising ever more clever ways to kill our fellow humans. So my "solution" was that we redefine environmental protection and secure energy supplies as a defense issue and turn our defense industry into the engine for a green renewal.  Classic swords into plowshares thinking.  Many people thought this idea was so absurd, they believed I was attempting to be deliberately funny.  I am usually happy when folks find me amusing because comedy is very hard to do.  But this time, I felt miffed because I REALLY thought this was a superb idea and I was being as serious as a heart attack.

So I am happy to report of information slipping out that the military-industrial complex is indeed turning (some of) its attention to green issues.  And not surprisingly, some of the solutions dreamed up by the A-team engineers are pretty damn good.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Neoliberalism is just everywhere

That so-called progressives are usually right-wing hacks when the subject is economics should come as no surprise to anyone.  I have blogged about it quite often.  This has been going on for quite awhile—although for me, I didn't realize the severity of the problem until 1993.  I was attending an American Economic Association conference in Anaheim for the purpose of presenting a paper.  The conference was abuzz with speculation on who was going to get the plum economic jobs in the new Clinton administration.  Not surprisingly everyone seemed to think their viewpoint should be heavily represented.  Surprisingly (at least for me because I had followed the elections of 1992 pretty closely and could recite many of Clinton's more progressive campaign promises from memory) it turned out that none of this idle speculation mattered at all.  The economic agenda was already set in stone.  Clinton was going to sell out anyone who imagined that they had elected a Democrat.

This phenomenon was hardly unique to Clinton.  Some examples of this sort economic betrayal have been especially poignant.  For example, Nelson Mandela, a man who had suffered long years in South African jails while his supporters bled and died in the struggle to eliminate Apartheid, went from prisoner to an accepted member of the Anglo establishment in a heartbeat.  I have often wondered what he was told in whatever meeting he must surly have had with South Africa's creditors, but suddenly, their desires would take precedence over the massive needs of his supporters who had stayed with him during his many years in jail.  I have not been in such a meeting but institutional analysis says they have taken place.  I just call them "the briefing" and they are highly effective—even with politicians who have campaigned on economic reform.  In fact, the only politicians I can think of who didn't cave after their briefing were the Kirchners of Argentina and Correa of Ecuador.

Of course, there are some pretty good reasons why the reactionary neoliberal agenda wins the argument (besides, of course, the notorious spinelessness of progressives.)  Most politicians know very little about economics beyond some facile slogans that amount to little more than grunts (government debt, bad.)  They know even less about the history of the various economic debates and the outcomes of those strategies (grunt: populism bad!)  And so they make up for their ignorance by surrounding themselves with "experts."  Since the economics "profession" has become dominated by absurd right-wing hacks, those experts are, not surprisingly, right-wing hacks.  Or neoliberals—as these hacks are called in "polite" society.

Here, Rob Urie describes Obama's enthusiastic embrace of Neoliberalism.  I am pretty certain this story cannot be told often enough.  Even so, this was absolutely predictable.  ANY Democrat (or Republican) elected in 2008 would have been given the same "briefing" that produced this outcome.  It was institutionally inevitable.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rogoff and Reinhart have been very wrong for a long time

When economists start calling each other names or accusing them of some psychobabble sin, you just know they are trying to avoid the real subject matter.  And so we see Raghuram Rajan, the reliable neoliberal hack who has been recently appointed to head India's Central Bank (poor India—my god! haven't they suffered enough in history?) call Paul Krugman "paranoid" for daring to criticize the 'towering' scholarship of Rogoff and Reinhart—the esteemed Harvard duo recently caught defending economic austerity with writing that demonstrated sloppy research, a botched Excel spreadsheet, and outright lying.

There's a reason why Rajan resorts to psychobabble name-calling—he is trying to defend the indefensible.  It's the same reason why R & R had to resort to lying.  Their economic worldview only leads to disaster—it's been thoroughly discredited since at least the Great Depression and more likely since 1873.  But because it provides an economic advantage to a tiny sliver of the wealthiest in society, schools like Harvard are only too happy to retain such smooth liars on staff.  The school in turn also has a steady stream of liars who will claim that all evidence to the contrary, R & R are not the demented fools they appear to be but rather brilliant scholars who should be trusted to guide public policy.  Or in the case of Rajan, allowed to manage the most important economic lever of the second most populous country on earth.

But while this sounds like an academic cat-fight, it is not.  The facts came in a long time ago.  The austerity crazies lost the debate.  It doesn't matter one whit who the crazies are these days or whether like R & R, they are ugly enough to frighten small children.  They are just plain wrong.  Bleeding the wounded does NOT lead to economic health no matter how much anyone wants to believe it does.

Here is William Black poking fun at those who would confuse a real economic truth (that austerity only makes things worse) with the personalities beating up each other in the academic disputes.

Stop and frisk Wall Street...please

Apparently, it require the satirists to remind us that the most dangerous criminals in USA are probably doing their dirty work on Wall Street. Society has small-time predators like pickpockets and big-time predators like the hedge-fund crowd. And while most of would like to see more of the big-time crooks in jail, this doesn't happen because they went and stole the government too.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

German renewable energy—it only gets harder

Being a leader is a LOT harder than it looks.  Which is one of the reasons I love to watch the Germans try to figure out a way to power their very sophisticated society with renewable energy.  Someone has to figure out how to do it and they are especially qualified to break new ground.  Besides, their problems don't cost me anything and their learning curve benefits anyone curious.

But their woes include the EU bureaucracy, bad ideas that cost money to find out that they won't work, and crazy problems like unexploded WW II ordinance in areas where wind farms are going.  Of course, the BIG problem is neoliberalism which demands that all this difficult work must be done on the cheap.  And even though Germany has sidestepped much of the big economic mess that has swept Europe, neoliberalism is very destructive and so fledgling industry like renewables is susceptible to damage because it is weaker than much of the rest of the economy.

Monday, August 12, 2013

How many men of courage does it take?

One of the little realities that has bothered me a lot over the years is how few people there are who have the courage to stand up for what is right.  I discovered this fact when I was participating in the anti-Vietnam War movement from 1967-74.  I was on a campus of roughly 40,000 students and roughly 10,000 staff and professors (the latter number was somewhat inflated because the campus contained a large teaching hospital with a significant research facility.)  Most of the young men of draft age had NO desire to participate in the war but their "activism" went poof the minute they figured out a way to avoid service.  There were some diehards like the Quakers who ran the Twin Cities Draft Information Center and some rabble rousing priests over at the Newman Center but they had religion to help keep their faith.  There was one professor who organized a few teach-ins, but he was this ugly troll of a man who advocated nudity so he more or less cancelled himself.  And that was about it.

Our biggest problem is that we didn't know anything.  We knew the official story was a lie because it was absurd.  That was enough for most of us but I didn't really find out the realities of an industrialized nation trying to win a war against poor peasants with nowhere else to go until the great books started coming out in the 1980s.  And in some ways, it was probably better that we did not know.  I had a PolSci prof who was one of the designers of the infamous Phoenix Program.  He was actually pretty smart and was using his intellectual horsepower to come up with a scheme that postulated that since Vietnam was short on ball bearing factories, we would destroy whatever they DID have.  This meant murdering anyone in villages that had a small amount of education and so could influence others.  Nice.  One of my better professors was a war criminal who was profoundly anti-intellectual—he killed people based on their education, after all.  I often wonder what we would have done if we really understood the sick fucks that were teaching us.

So that's mostly how humanity responds to a crazy event like Vietnam.  A lot of folks sell out or find a way to profit.  Most just cover their asses.  If they caught in the draft, they minimize their risk—someone has to sail those aircraft carriers, after all.  This leaves a TINY number of people who want a better outcome for the human race than naked butchery and are willing to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.  The good news is that while these people are very rare, it doesn't take many.

Case in point—Bradley Manning.  Guy's only 5'2"  Must be all heart.  And he really told the truth.  They should be writing songs about him.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

When in doubt, ignore the problems

I have a friend I have known since he was in high school.  Actually, he was eight years older than me so he was sort of like a big brother.  And since he was already 6'6" (1.98 meters) tall as a sophomore, I literally looked up to him.  He had a difficult childhood—his father died while he was very young, so his mother worked full-time in an age when that was still rare.  He was an only child so he raised himself in many ways.  Did a hell of job, too.  Captain of his college's swim team, law school, staff for Walter Mondale, senior staff at Office of Management and Budgets (OMB) and Commerce, absolutely superb gourmet cook, elegant, and well traveled.

In 1982, he came to visit and we went to the Minnesota State Fair—an activity that is WAY cooler than it sounds.  The Depression of 1981, deliberately induced by Paul Volcker whose idea of central banking was to run up the prime rate to 21%, just absolutely devastated midwest agriculture.  Wherever I had lived growing up was a disaster area because agricultural loans that made perfect sense at 7%, were ruining farmers at 24%.  The bankers pushed a few buttons and folks lost farms that had been in families for four and five generations.  Sheriff sales were commonplace complete with sobbing victims.  Farmers were committing suicide and a handful of bankers were shot.  In one case, a farmer unloaded his dairy herd into the lobby of the bank that was squeezing him.  This catastrophe was happening to people I knew—or folks very much like them.  They were skilled, organized, productive, and incredibly hard-working.  And yet because of monetary decisions far beyond their control, they were paying good money for the "privilege" of feeding the rest of the nation (another way to describe what it's like to work for a year and lose money on the effort.)

The Depression hung over the fair like a black cloud.  Machinery Hill, where the small businesses that make specialized agricultural production equipment usually did a major fraction of their yearly sales, stood essentially empty except for the urban curiosity crowd.  Stalls reserved for show-quality animals went unoccupied.  Many of the farmers that did show had a look of "will this be my last state fair."  I tried to point out the evidence that agriculture was in serious trouble to my friend from Washington.  His response shocked me.  He claimed that based on the stats he read every day at OMB, the agricultural catastrophe I was trying to describe was not happening.  It didn't exist.

This denial of this quite obvious reality stunned me.  I am sure I said something because I am rarely at a loss for words, but it was clear I had no idea of the complexity of official government denial.  Some is pretty obvious.  For example, if someone exhausts their unemployment benefits, they are no longer unemployed.  If a small businessman loses his company, he is not unemployed either because he was an employer, not an employee.  Etc.  So over the years, the extent of the massive failure of what George H.W. Bush once called Voodoo Economics was swept under a statistical rug.  In official Washington, something cannot be a problem if the victims are not counted.  Statistical bullshit paid for by taxpayers has been used to cover up the de-industrialization of USA, the savage cuts to living standards of the vast majority of citizens, the rot of the infrastructure, and the rest of the litany of neoliberal crimes against the real economy.  It's how official Washington manages to live with themselves—it's not happening so what's the problem?

My friend came through town this summer and at one point discussed how his friend's 29-year-old son was discovering how bleak his future really was.  I was quite elated because after over 30 years of official denial, my friend was finally, FINALLY, discovering that educated and hard-working young men could be harmed by neoliberal madness too.  Unfortunately, a few minutes later he was asserting that the academic fraud in Rogoff and Reinhart's justification for austerity did nothing to discredit the need for austerity—of the kind that would ensure his friend's son had no possible future whatsoever.  For him, Rogoff and Reinhart were not filthy liars who were offering prescriptions for known economic ruin, they were smart folks who got a little overzealous in describing an obvious problem—the national debt is too high.  Thank you H. Ross Perot.

As the following article indicates, the statistical coverup of neoliberalism's failures is growing ever more mendacious.  And because you cannot fix a problem until you have described it fully and accurately, this statistical bullshit may be the most important factor ensuring the planet's doom.  (There's a blog that covers the problem of "massaged" government stats full time called Shadowstats.  If you ever need real numbers, it's a great place to start.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

$60 Trillion Arctic Methane release

As someone who actually traffics in numbers like $100 Trillion (my estimate of how much it will cost to convert a global economy that runs on our carbon capital such as coal and oil to one that can run on the solar income that falls on the planet each day) I am pleased when I see others use such numbers. To me, it means they are serious.  Because whatever the number turns out to be, it is going to be very, VERY large.

On the other hand, it pretty hard to tote up $60 Trillion worth of damages to a global civilization that probably cost less than $20 Trillion to build in the first place.  Moreover, because the existing infrastructure operates on fire and the climate change folks claim the problem is caused by the greenhouse gasses that are the byproduct of fire, what exists is functionally obsolete—which means it is worthless.  Hard to do $60 Trillion worth of damage to something that has zero, or negative, value (in this case, something has a negative value if it gets in the ways of doing something that doesn't emit greenhouse gasses.)

Even so, the following is a damn interesting argument.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Out of a love for the truth...

and the desire to bring it to light...

The first sentence of the Protestant Reformation pretty much answers the question, "Why are Protestant-based societies so remarkably successful?"  Because as it turns out, a modern society with air transport, high-speed trains, universal electrification, etc. is utterly impossible without the commitment of thousands of people to living and working as honestly as they can.

The key to this understanding is the word "love."  Ideally, good Protestants don't traffic in the truth because they are afraid they will get caught out in a lie or even that some day an angry God will judge them, but because of the pure joy to be had in discovering something true and then passing it on.

Of course, as Martin Luther—the guy who penned that famous sentence —discovered, the liars among us are genuinely threatened by the truth-lovers.  The Biblical expression "Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil" explains so very much.  Luther was almost murdered by the liars of his day and today's liars are just as ruthless.

And so we see two modern-day examples of truth-tellers being hounded by the lovers of darkness.  Bradley Manning discovered the compelling evidence about USA's conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan and felt he had to tell what he had found.  The authorities have tortured and otherwise much abused this gentle soul.  They are trying to put him in jail for the rest of his life for the "sin" of truth-loving.  Edward Snowden discovered the truth about USA spying and passed that on.  So now the truth-haters have managed to trap him in an airport transit lounge in Moscow.  They promise to be just as medieval if they ever get their hands on him.

As someone who discovered why people fall in love with the truth a very long time ago, my sympathies are obviously with Manning and Snowden.  In my worldview, it is truth-lovers like them who are responsible for any progress humanity has ever made.  Ever.  And while the liars may kill or otherwise silence these two supremely virtuous young men, they will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who genuinely love the truth.