Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Great Pencil

First off, I liked this statement of basic, obvious ideas by Marco Rubio: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/marco-rubio-takes-on-hypocrisy-of-debt-rhetoric-and-john-kerry/ As he points out, in large measure we are having trouble now because in their two years controlling the White House and both Houses of Congress they did not see fit to create a budget. This more or less has enabled them to spend on pet projects without, I suspect, risking the public outcry over the details.

We know Obama is spending a LOT, and that he has added hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats to the Federal payroll in conditions of recession. That this would inevitably lead to deficits or large tax increases has been lost on no one. That is why even in conditions of having record amounts of cash business owners have not been investing it to create jobs. It's unclear if America is even going to be a good place to do business anymore. The record cash is there not particularly because of record profits, but because of record uncertainty and doubt. We've never had a Leninist in the White House before. There's really no way to gauge how much damage he can do.

One thing is clear, if this deficit spending continues unabated: our credit rating WILL be downgraded. This is not in doubt. This means we will have to pay higher interest rates to attract investors, which means more money will get vacuumed out of the pockets of the roughly half of Americans who are economically productive enough to pay taxes--new expenses, that were not present before, will be incurred. As I mentioned earlier, when the bureaucrats are running debt projections over the next ten years, they are assuming more or less constant conditions, and a debt downgrade will NECESSARILY mean higher expenses, and thus higher increases in the debt, meaning that whatever "cuts" are negotiated now will likely be more than balanced by off-setting, unprojected increases.

The Pencil: There is an episode of the Simpson's where the network is broadcasting the CEO of the State lottery sharing the proceeds of the lottery with some school superintendant. After a tad bit of drama, as memory serves, the super is presented with a pencil. He's taken aback, and starts sputtering, at which point the video feed is cut.

Folks, this is what we are going to get: a pencil. After several weeks of melodrama we are going to get--over the sound of Democrats screaming like little girls, and serious analgesic use by Republicans--something that is pathetically short of anything serious, much less of what is needed.

It seems likely tax cuts can be kept off the table (and by the way, when we see record low approval ratings for Obama, we need to keep in mind that his supporters can also desert him for not being sufficient to the left, which is plainly happening, so low ratings do not translate to a shoo-in for conservatives in 2012), but that the "cuts" will be largely symbolic, and that no matter how minute they are, that Republicans will be portrayed as big meanie-heads, who take pleasure in the idea of grandmothers eating dogfood, and dogs being relegated to scrounging outside the mansions of fat men in business suits with grease on their chins, going "ha ha ha, we are big and rich and we are making grandmothers eat dog food. We are so smart." Cartoonish thinking for two dimensional minds: what other sort could there be?

What I want to propose though, is that nothing serious will be possible as long as we have flippant narcissists in Congress who benefit from being the grantors of manna to their unwashed inferiors. In the main, I intend thereby to connote Democrats, although of course I am no fan of RINO's either.

We need to be content with what Boehner and McConnell can negotiate. We have a boy-child in the White House, with visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in his head, who has not the slightest notions of cause and effect, how the real world actually operates, or how much suffering will attend the medium term continuation of his policies. Given this, anything that does not raise taxes, or which cuts ANY spending, is going to have to do.

We are not in a crisis. We need to be clear about this. Clear eyed people are looking to a COMING crisis. If what you are doing is hurting you--if you are taking small doses of poison daily--then the first thing to do is stop doing it. This is clear enough. For now, we cannot stop doing it, but we are nowhere near a lethal dose. Europe is in much more serious trouble than we are, since they have been doing Obama-esque things much longer, and lack the opposition that, among other things, guns and religion guarantee.

Our task is education and message control. We need it to be shouted from the rooftops that you can't borrow 40 cents on the dollar forever. This is self evident to anyone who has ever existed outside the sheltered nurseries of our universities, and the cynical calculations of professional politicians who benefit and provide benefit to a chosen few, at a cloaked harm to the many.

We need a conservative in the White House: Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman--even Tim Pawlenty would do for now--and a 60 seat majority in the Senate.

When our credit gets downgraded, there is simply no plausible person to blame but Obama, and the costs of that downgrade will be easy enough to show.

Net: be patient. I do feel our Congressional leaders are doing the best they can within the contraints of the lunatic atmosphere currently prevailing among the Democrats.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Post on Goodness

This was supposed to be a comment at the Wall Street Journal. It did not allow it through even after I deleted the Weezer lyrics. Who knows why?

In any event, since I typed it and can't post it, here is a post related to this interview.

I've been reading economics a lot, and it has taught me to not just look at what did happen, but also for what did NOT happen, and why. Crime is equally an absence of lawfulness, as lawlessness is an absence of order.

Some years ago I was driving to Indianapolis in the winter when it occurred to me that while we can easily imagine degrees of evil, we cannot so easily imagine degrees of goodness. Evil, in the popular imagination, is more or less doing anything other than play fair, and becomes worse quantitatively: the more crimes you commit, the worse you are.

It is this fundamental lack that has made the serial killer a hero in many movies, like Hannibal and the Saw series. He (or she) is non-bourgeois, where normality is being stuck behaving in the a corner somewhere, treading an endlessly dull hamster wheel. Think Steve Buscemi at the end of Conair. Or, as Weezer put it:

I can't work a job
Like any other slob,
Punchin' in and punchin' out and suckin' up to Bob
Marryin' a bitch,
Havin' seven kids,
Givin' up and growin' old,
And hopin' there's a god.

In any event, this set off a long series of reflections on the nature of Goodness. How do you become "Gooder" and what is the advantage of this, relative to seeking power and sensations?

My short answer is that the stronger pleasure you feel in being alive, and in sharing in the joy of others, the "gooder" you are. Happiness can be exponential. It is a matter of luck, but living right enables you to buy a lot of lottery tickets, up to all of them. The end result of sharing Buddha's tenet that all of our lives fall far short of what is possible--that life is suffering, in the popular translation--is to further it. I see no end to this path.

For those with an interest, I have published much of my thought here: http://www.goodnessmovement.com

Contact information

I see few comments or emails. The most obvious explanation is that I have few readers who care enough about what I write to respond. This seems most likely. However, many things are possible on the internet, so I did want to mention that if you have ever emailed the address listed and received anything less than a prompt and suitably courteous reply, an alternative email is barry@goodnessmovement.com . Someone is already spamming it, so the cat's out of the bag anyway.

How I see the debt debate playing out

No matter what eventually passes--and obviously something will soon--it will not go close to far enough. The cuts we need to be discussing should be on the order of a trillion a year. Anything short of that simply isn't serious, and whatever passes will be well short of that.

The can will get kicked down the road. This is inevitable. If we get a conservative President, and control of Congress, we might see something interesting, but no matter who wins in 2012, the American people will still be getting much of their news from organizations whose sole raison d'etre-outside of using the profits from Capitalism to implicitly and explicitly denigrate free markets--is to propagate disinformation. That we are even having a debate over whether or not we can borrow half the money we spend for the next several decades is farcical.

I just don't see us EVER having the political will to do what is right. I hope I am wrong, but the stickiness of Medicare and Social Security was built in. Stupid selfish people become old stupid selfish people, and old stupid selfish people still vote. And they have more money.

At some point, we must, must, must grasp the predatory natures of the Federal Reserve and the fractional reserve system. What I have proposed in my series on our financial system really includes two parts. Doing away with the Federal Reserve is not original to me. It has been proposed many times by many people, with Ron Paul being the most articulate modern advocate of this.

What is original to me is using the Federal Reserve positively to eradicate our debt. The link to this proposal is at the end of this post. As I note in the series, this was done by the Germans after World War One. They ran the printing presses long enough to eliminate industrial and government debt, then stopped. Schacht revalued the mark, and poof, the inflation was gone. But it did them a LOT of good in the meantime. What it also did was hurt ordinary Germans, who did not understand what was being done to them. As Keynes said, not one person in a thousand understands the origins of inflation, or who benefits from it. The government and industrialists benefited hugely, though. My goal is to get the pluses and lose the minuses, or most of them. (

I am a conservative historian, so self evidently I grasp the difference between intention and outcome, but that does not mean daring is never warranted. One project I have set myself when I get time is to figure out how to test this proposal in miniature. I've been hoping the Europeans would try something like this, since they lead us in their collective finanical woes. Something like this will be needed for them, and ought in my view to result in returns to national currencies, where I have State currencies.)

What I am proposing is doing openly what the Germans did covertly, and in such a way as to harness the benefits and largely avoid the detriments. I am proposing we do in one week what the Germans did over 3 years. It is a large idea. It is an audacious idea. But it is an idea which has been tested in only a slightly different form, and which WORKED.

I am the only one I know of proposing anything remotely like this. Self evidently, this will only get traction in conditions of great difficulty, but it benefits EVERYONE except those who most benefit from the current situation. They obviously have a lot of money, but they are very small in number. These are the actual greedy parasites Marx condemned. They were never the "Capitalists" per se, who do in fact contribute much to society, and who increase our well being.

The link to my proposal--and thought process leading up to it--is here: http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page14.html

Capitalism, Part Two

I was a bit fatigued last night, so I cut that post short.

Question: why is it that Communists hate the bourgeoisie so much? Culturally, of course, they are presumed to be banal and uninteresting, to pretentious unemployed "thought esthetes" (my term for intellectuals).

Politically, though, the problem is that the bourgeoisie stand between them and their revolution. The way it is supposed to work is a very neat, tidy distinction between "us" and "them", where for the sake of intellectual congruence, if not honesty, thought esthetes conflate their own interests with those of workers they neither understand nor respect.

The middle class, the "bourgeoisis", sits in the middle. These damnable human beings make it much harder convincing "workers" that their best option lies with following silly people who read a lot of books into a violent and uncertain future, rather than with trying to join the class of the comfortable.


The naked fact which makes leftists squirm is that Capitalism works. By "work" I mean that the workers become middle class in conditions of growing wealth, which inevitably follows free markets, property rights, and political liberty. Our "workers"--pipe fitters, factory workers, welders--drive Ford F-150's, have boats, and own homes. They are not being "exploited". They are being enriched by the system.

The leaks in our system are twofold. First, socialists make everything worse by retarding business investment, which costs jobs, through punitive tax rates and abusive regulations. Second, the Federal Reserve sucks the value out of our money, and gives it to the already rich.

That the first should at times join the second, or vice versa, seems likely.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Capitalism

I was sitting in the lobby of a very nice, large corporation the other day, looking at the art they had chosen to showcase, which like so much of such art seems calculated to not offend, and to blend obnoxiously, if I might be permitted an apparent oxymoron. It almost seems like the intent is to connote taste, but not too much taste. Aesthetics by committee.

Be that as it may, I got to wondering about the provenance of this piece. It was likely painted by some artist who needed the money. That person somehow amassed enough money for paint, a canvas, brushes. He or she painted something, then found a buyer. This person was a Capitalist. That is all Capitalism is. If that person had hired two friends to paint with him, and managed the sales channel, so they had reliable markets, even more so.

Capitalism is nothing but getting money somehow, making something useful, and selling it. If it isn't useful to someone, it won't sell, so usefulness is built in.

I believe strongly that our global goal should be self employment--Capitalist status--for everyone.

Peace be upon you.

There are many good Muslims out there: I can feel them. There are also many cruel ones, who derive great satisfaction from sadistic violence in the name of God. Such a God is indeed not great.

That Islam can be turned to Goodness was shown by the Sufis. If it is a Goodness which wants to be insular and left alone by the world--a partial Goodness--I am fine with that. As long as they leave me and mine alone, we can share this planet happily.

TError as a political tool has of course been used many times in history. If memory serves, it was the Chinese Qu regime that tried to destroy all learning not originating with their state, and which burned many scrolls and buried alive many scholars to accomplish this end.

In the modern world terror has been used most often and perfected by the creed which calls itself "Marxist-Leninism". As I understand the matter, Islamic terrorism can credibly be claimed to have originated in the minds of Soviet-bloc agitators. There is nothing in the Koran to justify it, and for his part Mohammad is at pains to denounce violence between Muslims. If the House of Peace becomes a House of War, then the point of the religion vanishes.

As I see it, over the long haul the best way to curb Islamic extremism is to build and build empirical understandings of the nature of the afterlife. This is certainly possible, and in a rational culture would be the subject of tremendous and well funeded investigation. It does not fit the ideological bigotries of those who control the money, however, so it languishes.

That I am the only one I know of saying such a thing explicitly speaks volumes to the idiocy on this planet.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The smell of freedom

If you could reduce the sensation of freedom to a smell, what would it be? You need not pick only one: they can rotate. Hamburgers? Cold beer? A flower scented breeze? The smell of diaper powder?

What if you could physically create a substance that smelled different to different people, adapting itself to their happiest memories? That idea has potential for good and harm. No doubt someone has thought of it, so there should hopefully be no danger advancing it.

What I am getting at here is that freedom means different things for different people: they USE it in different ways. For some, it means being able to pick up and move whenever they want. For others, the ability to stand up in town halls. For some, being left alone.

How much would you pay to increase your freedom? How much would you pay to opt out of the "Social security" system? You know, lump sum now for not making payments down the road. How much would you pay to consume drugs legally that are now illegal? If your town decided to legalize prostitution, but the price was an added tax for some socially noble goal someone had, would you do it?

How much would you pay to be able to drive any speed you like, a sort of premium drivers club? How much would you pay to skirt zoning laws?

In many parts of the world, this is more or less how things work. The system is called official corruption, and the method is bribes.

Just throwing some ideas out. Need to do some cleaning.

The unnecessary Depression

Winston Churchill always called World War 2 the "unnecessary war", for the obvious reason that Hitler announced his intentions early on, and acted on them--in flagrant violation of the Treaty of Versailles--not once, but repeatedly.

The Depression of the 1930's was likewise unncessary. Leaving aside the willfulness of the economic crimes committed by the Federal Reserve--they plainly deserve the blame for starting it, and in some measure for continuing--FDR and Hoover manifestly pursued counter-productive policies. In conditions of price deflation and business stress, they insisted on fixed, nationally determined wages for those workers who could get jobs. In conditions of deflation, this amounted to forced wage increases, which of course saddles business owners with greatly added costs, which meant they either went out of business, laid people off, or simply refused to hire more. France has this problem today. Under existing laws, their chronic unemployment will NEVER ease.

Maybe the slogan of the Tea Party should be "Economics education NOW": "What do we want? FACTS. When do we want them. NOW."

Debt and downgrade

I have not seen a responsible treatment of this anywhere, although I have been busy, so I may have missed it.

As things stand, the plan is to borrow something like 40 cents of every dollar we spend forever. There is literally no point, under any scenario under active contemplation, in which the amount of money the Federal Government spends is equal to the amount which it takes in in taxes.

As I understand the matter, you can go out 40 years, and the math still won't work. To point out that this is unsustainable and stupid does not require any particular intelligence. Presumably that is why the naked facts of the matter are not made clear by most Democrat apologists. Even the Republicans are doing little but try to slow down the pace at which things get worse. The boulder is still rolling downhill, though.

Obviously, a balanced budget amendment would force this process to stop instantly, but we will need to cut our spending nearly in half. To do this, we are talking about massive cuts not only to entitlements, but Defense. And that is just to STOP BORROWING. That says nothing about the annual payments on our current debt, which amount to some $250-$400 billion a year. This is money taken by our government in taxes, and given to foreign investors and domestic banks. Put another way, it is wasted money, just like paying interest on credit cards. If we posit the number at $350 billion and our population at 350 million, which is about right, then we get EVERY AMERICAN paying about $1,000 a year just to pay interest. Since almost half of all Americans don't pay income taxes, this means that most of us productive sorts pay $2,000 or more.

[On one point here I am unclear: if Quantitative Easing consists in buying Treasury bonds, where does the interest go? As I understand it, the Fed refunds all profits, AFTER ITS EMPLOYEES GET PAID. How much do they get paid? Excellent question. There is no way of knowing. We don't get their financials. They just control the value of our money. It's not like that affects anything, right?]

Now, the baseline increase in our debt is somewhere between $7 and $10 trillion. How much to "cut" from this is the debate now. But this assumes economic stability. Obamacare is going to force massive new cost increases to most American businesses (it won't affect the places Nancy Pelosi likes to eat, get her hair done, and where she gets here botox injections), which will be very economically damaging. All American businesspeople know this, and are planning for it now, in part by delaying expansions they could otherwise afford, to see what happens politically.

But if we can't get this monstrosity reversed, then the amount paid in taxes will go down, since that is what happens when the economy declines (self evidently, given fixed tax rates, the opposite happens when the economy expands). This will mean the gap between income and expenses will widen, making even, say $9 trillion a low number. The real number may be $15 trillion.

Everyone who understands basic business and economics knows this. Moody's (if you think about it, Moody and Standard and Poor are both interesting names, given what they do), the rating agency, knows this. This is why they are talking about a downgrade of our debt. There is a point you reach where it is likely that you will continue making interest payments, but at which over no timeline short of centuries that you will be able to pay off the principle. Add economic shocks to this, and you get uncertainty, which is bad.

What a downgrade will mean is simply that the national "stock" of the United States is worth less. This will mean that we pay higher interest rates, which in turn will mean, what? HIGHER ANNUAL EXPENSES.

So you have this loop where higher interest leads to higher expenses, which leads to more borrowing, which leads to more interest. None of this can be stopped using normal economic principles unless we stop spending more every year than we borrow. This is so self evident that one could accuse most journalists covering this poorly of failing professionally, either in perception or integrity.

As I say often, though, the pig with lipstick on it stinking up the room is the Federal Reserve and the fractional reserve banking system.

At some point it is my hope that some professional economist or politician will read and understand the basics of my plan to both end our financially abusive system, and propose a solution in the ballpark of what I have proposed. I assume I have missed something, but feel strongly the broad outline is correct. I never have the time to study these things to the extent I like--I need to be somewhere right now, actually--but I think my basic thought process, my use of facts and logic on a complex system, is sound.

Again, the link to that series is here: http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page14.html

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Minimum Wage and the Ghettoes

The more I think about it, the more I believe that the most practical way to get people working in our ghettoes is to repeal national and--where applicable--local Minimum Wage laws. [Edit: long term, by far our worst problem is the existence of monetary policy, particularly one controlled by unelected elites with massive conflicts of interest; but that is even farther out than the extremely difficult challenge of convincing people that wage controls generate far less wealth for everyong than free markets]

This is a blunt and politically incorrect way of putting this, but Mexicans who came into this country illegally are taking the jobs American blacks used to do. Unemployment rates among black people used to be close to zero; they were lower than the rates for white people. Now, among young kids in the ghettoes, they are pushing 50%.

Businesses operate for profit. This means they look for good deals. If you can pay people in America $3/hour for something you are paying a Malaysian $2/hour for, but having to transport the finished goods back here,then that is a good deal.

All sustainable positive relationships are win/win. People take jobs because they are better than being unemployed. People offer jobs because they are better than not using capital productively. This does not mean that people like their jobs on either side--there are many unhappy rich people out there, trust me--but that at that time and place it was the best they could do.

The people who disrupt this process are, in my view, the real exploiters, those who insist on Minimum Wages for OTHERS, while never suffering the consequences of such policies themselves. Such people have government jobs, nice pensions, and normally start out middle class and comfortable.

As a general policy recommendation we need to make it so that poverty and the accusation of racism don't pay so well.

Exploitation

This story is interesting: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/right-out-of-atlas-shrugged-hear-an-exasperated-alabama-businessman-tell-the-feds-im-just-quitting/


“Nearly every day without fail…men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just…you know…what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I see these guys—I see them with tears in their eyes—looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So…basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.”

Who is being exploited here? Politically callous politicians are "protecting" the rights of miners, at the expense of preventing them from getting jobs. Particularly in our own day and age, accidents and reputations spread rapidly. It is never in the interest of any mine to operate sloppily, even if they can still get people to work there.

Regulations are costs. Red tape is a cost. Taxes are costs. All businessmen have to have profits to counterbalance costs, or there is no point in getting out of bed. This point is inescapable.

The more costs there are, the more profits there have to be. From this it follows as day follows night that the more expensive government makes it to do business, the less business will be done, and that the less business is done, the less jobs there will be.

In my view, the corporate tax rate should be zero. Not reduced, but zero. I understand the need for taxes and for local, state and Federal government. We cannot do without government: otherwise, there would have been no need to write the Constitution.

Correspondingly, then, income tax rates would need to be increased. This would happen, though, in a condition of burgening employment, since corporate capital now paid the government would be freed up for job creating business expansions.

With regard to my tagline, who benefits in Alabama? The workers don't. The business owner doesn't. Self evidently: the regulators and politicians who vote them funding. Government employees get handsome salaries, life-long jobs, and very generous pensions. These are NICE jobs, if you can get them.

And what happens to them if, for example, we largely entrust safety to mine owners? The rationale for the jobs is gone. They no longer have jobs.

These are the people to whom we are entrusting the enforcement of regulations: people who HAVE to find things to do, or else they will eventually have their funding cut.

Teaching

It occurs to me that you can never evaluate your own teaching ability, absent feedback. It is the students who judge the teachers capacity. It is not what you know, but what you can communicate that matters, which necessarily means that only on the highest levels is there a strong correllation between knowledge and teaching ability, and even there one can only speak of capacity--potential--and not product.

An interesting corrollary to this is that if we look at Lao Tzu's aphorism, "A good man is the teacher of a bad man, and a bad man a good man's charge" (close), then if you cannot meaningfully communicate goodness, you are not a good person. By this, I mean the capability of altering peoples behavior in observable ways. The classic example of NOT teaching is to say one thing and do another.

By this measure, I think it is a necessary conclusion that in many important respects, Mohammad was not a good man. Among other things, he advocated the physical slaughter of all non-Muslims--which will not be found in the New Testament, and only where the land of Israel is concerned in the Old--and married a six year old, consummating the marriage when she was nine.

This story speaks volumes about the cultural development within Islam:
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/saudi-cleric-issues-fatwa-defending-pedophilia-as-%e2%80%98marriage%e2%80%99/

Why is pedophilia wrong? Within my terms, because it necessarily invokes a power relationship. The practice of marrying children is nothing but an extension of the more general rejection of the rights of women, which, again, invoke a power relationship. Anyone whose sense of self depends upon the subjugation of others is a bad person, and if they actively enjoy that subjugation--which is implied by marrying and raping 9 year olds--then they are evil.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Collective Guilt

I think I sometimes assume that since things are obvious to me that I have explained myself. This may possibly be true, but I have done enough teaching to realize that the contents of my brain do not always flow out by inferences and references that seem self evident to me. That may sound arrogant, and maybe it is, but hell that's the way I see it. You'll have to go elsewhere for hand wringing false modesty.

In my view, all individuals come into being within social contexts, but particularly the older they get, the more control they DO have--whether they choose to exercise it or not--over their lives. Most of us can imagine doing things better than we do, but we don't. This is a loss. Whether it is a loss compensated with increased leisure I will leave to individual cases.

We are seeing, at least in a couple cases, "Christianity", or "rightists" blamed for the murders in Norway of children, by an apparently conscienceless child of a safe home, and secure society.

What does the notion of valuing personal responsibility and following personal empowerment have to do with this? What does a religion devoted to love have to do with this?

In making very general claims about large groups based upon the extreme and deviant behavior of single members, ANY thinker is making a mistake.

Let me put it this way: anyone who wants to make general statements about groups of people this guy did not know or associate with is guilty of EXACTLY the same thought error he was. He thought that shooting terrified teenagers would somehow cause a seachange in Norway with regard to Muslim immigrants. Not only is this stupid, it is the result of the EXACT same structural mechanism--group guilt and redemption--he decried on the Left.

As I said, Leftists in general (and I will address this apparent hypocrisy in a moment) blame groups and not individuals. In this case, they are not blaming HIM, but rather the cultural milieu--the ideas--to which he was attracted; none of which, however, included provision for anything like mass murder of innocents.

Now, when I speak of the Left, I speak of history. I speak of the last century, and the words and actions of people motivated by eutopian [sic} creeds, which led to sickening cataclysms, from which some nations even now have not emerged (Tibet, North Korea, Cuba, and many other nations with curtailed freedoms, like China). There are common patterns one can see.

When speaking of Christians, there are no such patterns, unless we travel far in time or place. Now, today, "fundamentalists" want to oppose the use of the word marriage by homosexuals, and to try to regain the right plainly granted by the
Constitution to the sundry States to ban abortion. They further oppose the meaninglessness and drift so prevalent in our nation. These are not radical aims.

Few thoughts. Long day.

Action to/ Action for

I think the foundational element of proper economics, from which all else flows, is the insight that life is not linear. Simply because you have a vision of the world, and a plan to change it, does not mean that any and all action based upon these factors will work to achieve your aims.

For example, some people assume that because some people set as their aim getting rich, that they necessarily achieve it. In point of fact, business is littered with failures, and many eventual successes--the "rich"-- have several business and even personal bankruptcies in their past. McDonalds nearly foundered on a number of occasions.

Effective action always depends on accurate understandings, and the simple fact is that life is not always linear, and that sometimes the more profound realities have to be inferred from experience, and not deduced accurately a priori, as many academics assume they can do.

Hayek made this distinction as action to and for. What you are actually accomplishing is your "action to", and what you think you are doing is "action for".

No matter what you may think of the law of gravity, it will not stop because you don't like it. No matter what you think of the laws of economics, they will operate as they operate.

Yes, it is likely possible to reduce human beings to robotic beings in order to make human social orders linear, but what is the point of that? Leftism of this sort--and in the final analysis there is no other sort--is an anti-humanism: a committment to the mechanisation of humanity, and the death of unmanageable spontaneity.

Lao Tzu "uncarved block", as I point out in my Goodness Sutra, might more accurately be translated "uncut forest", where forests are random, but still orderly, on a chaotic pattern.

Leftism causes poverty. It causes injustice. It supports racism, in the form of reduced expectations. These points are inescapable.

As much as our President may want to pout, his policies are hurting the very people he claims he cares about. He doesn't care: his every meal is catered, and he sleeps in perhaps the most secure home on the planet.

Terror and economics

I am in constant movement in all parts of my life. It can be maddening and it can be liberating. I can migrate from extreme sensitivity to being more or less callous and back again, and do often.

Some things I read about bother me greatly, but for whatever reason the slayings in Norway have not had much emotional effect on me.

I recently finished listening to Thomas Sowells excellent book "Basic Economics". IN terms of articulating the virtues of free markets--which we do not have here in this country, by the way--he does an excellent job (although I would quibble with his treatment of monetary policy).

One point he makes is that many economic errors--perhaps most or even all--stem from looking at the effect of a policy on one group, but not on the economy as a whole.

When we protected domestic steel production from foreign competition, it helped that industry, but it also made domestic steel far more expensive that it would have been, here, and thus HARMED other domestic steel-users, like builders and car manufacturers. By most reckonings, the tariffs COST American jobs, even if they were not lost in the steel industry.

Although this likely sounds a bit clinical, this was the metaphor that kept crossing my mind reading about Norway. There are likely 80 black kids killed in the US weekly. There are likely 80 kids that have starved to death weekly for periods of time in North Korea, even in recent years. In the continent of Africa, a multiple of this dies weekly of war, hunger, or diseases that are gone from the industialized West.

I can and often have lamented the extent of preventable human suffering the world over. If you look at Africa, as an example, their pain cannot be understood without the initial efforst of many nations there to implement socialism, with all the economic injustice and stagnation that implies--and the efforts of international "aid" agencies to support such efforts, apparently as a part of their real mission, which is international Fabianism.

Norway has sheltered behind the shield American military power offered them from the ravages of history for more than a half century. Plainly, they are existentially threatened by facilitating their internal cultural subversion by anti-Liberal Muslims; even if, self evidently, reactions like shooting kids are evil, counterproductive, and ultimately amount to little more than the cry of a profoundly weak and self absorbed man for relevance.

If I believe cyanide is poison, and you do not, a reasonable compromise does not consist in diluting it by half and then drinking it.

To quote Bruce Springsteen: "There's a dark cloud rising on the desert floor
I've packed my bags and I'm headed straight through the storm
It's gonna be a twister that'll blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground

Blow away, the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away, the dreams that break your heart
Blow away, the lies that leave you nothing but lost and broken hearted."

As a postscript, I will add that my three favorite albums, taken as wholes, are Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town", Tom Waits' "Heart of Saturday Night", and Lyle Lovett's "Joshua, Judges, Ruth", all for different reasons.

In our identity-starved age, our musical choices in large measure define us, along with our profession and hobbies and perhaps sense of style (my style is invisibility, so I forget it is important to some).

Religion and family used to be primary, but in our optical age--where in large measure our interaction with culture and others is visual and abstract--these things have come into much greater prominence. That they are in many respects shallow is of course problematic. My whole output is related to solving that problem, so I will leave it at that for now.

The net, though, is that we need to stop making things worse. That is step one. "Primere non nocere."

Elvis

One cannot help but notice how often "Elvis" is invoked in hipster joints. The recent obvious example for me was visiting the original Chuy's down in Austin. Elvis is almost invoked as a sort of patron saint of coolness in dens of irony, the places where all the women are covered in tattoos and the men effeminate; where traditional cultural standards are upended and eroded.

In my view, as I think about it, this is the whole zombie thing again. Elvis died a miserable death--on a toilet, as a result in my understanding of drug-related constipation. He took several flights of drug cocktails nightly. He take his first "attack", as I believe he called it, then eat fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches until he passed out. This would keep him asleep a couple hours, then he would do it again. Despite his good looks and talent, he was decaying from within.

A zombie is a human being without firm form, without direction, who is lost. It seems to me that Islamic extremism in one respect has to be seen as the interaction of historical jihad with Leftist sociopathy--the reduction of human beings to talentless lumps of expendable clay.

At the same time, all so-called "Fundamentalisms" have to be seen as efforts to avoid being turned into zombies, shiny and smiley on the outside, but stitched together in an unstable way on the inside, with staples, rings and tattoos.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The glass and the water

The pessimist sees a glass half empty; the optimist, a glass half full. Someone who can see, however, sees 4 ounces of water, and a method of storing that water, of containing and giving form to that water, without comment.

Water is present, and there is little need to measure air. The size of glass itself is irrelevant, to the extent that it is sufficiently large to accomplish its storage task. An aquifer might be 90% empty, but able to provide for a city.

It is my own species of "optimism" to try and reliably see what recources ARE available. It is little use to imagine the endless infinity of things which are NOT present before us. Rather, an acceptable use of imagination is to see the endless things which can be done with what we have.

"Inconceivable"

I had to solve a physical problem the other day. I "knew" what the range of possibliities was, and failed repeatedly (note, this is different than the last such problem I mentioned a bit back). I persisted, and the problem was something that was not supposed to be possible. I had never heard of it happening to anyone, and only isolated it by removing every other possibility. "Once you eliminate the impossible, what remains--however improbable--must be the truth."

So often we go through life thinking we know what the range of the possible is, when in reality the only means we have of testing such theories is to compare them to the general atmosphere around us, to see if anyone else shares our views. They always have roughly the same inputs you do, and if they reach different conclusions, that does not mean you were wrong. It is quite possible to be the only correct person in the room.

To my mind, this is the value of periodically considering various conspiracy theories. Sirhan Sirhan was brainwashed. The pyramids are 20,000 years old. The plains of Nazca were alien landing strips. Jack the Ripper was a freemason. Christ married and had children.

Quick progress in perception happens when you substitute a better paradigm than the old one. The practical effects of Newtonian physics and General Relativity are quite similar, but the nets that can be cast by taking the latter seriously are much wider. Why else would we have suspected light bent in gravitational fields, or that atomic energy was possible?

This basic premise operates equally in all areas of life. You can "reparadigmatize" people, cultures, or small physical problems right in front of you. If, as Einstein said, "imagation is more important than intelligence", it is because it grants you the ability to see--through new eyes--what you have never seen before.

Saudade, again

When I was in my late teens I had this very romantic notion of what went on at universities. There was this authenticity and happiness and "learningness"--if I might be permitted indulgence in my neologistic hobby--that went on. Kids were free and they did and said cool things and listened to cool music. There was this vibe of being different than the dull mundane sameness of suburbia. All my problems were going to vanish.

I was a profoundly stupid kid. I say this with absolute sincerity and painfully clinical precision.

But water rolls downhill, does it not? Clouds that are full rain, and in the right conditions seeds will always grow. I was at that age who I had to be.

I went to good schools. I majored in the quirky sorts of things that normally get you locked up in a coffee shop or bookstore somewhere. This was not wasted time, but it was time spent finding what was NOT a pathway forward.

The path of the intellectual--the thought esthete--is not one of emotional skill, social productivity, or anything but self absorbed narcissism which protects against the ravages and conscious awareness of sheer uselessness.

These people litter average cities. They litter universities. They float like seeds on the wind, but they never flower. Theirs is a self important flatulence that to the extent it has an effect makes things worse.

I no longer have positive feelings about universities. I admire the productive parts, but view the rest as worse than useless.

If the task of the Liberal Arts is teaching self government in both the personal and national sense, then they are failing. This is incompetence, and it is precisely the utter futility of calling someone in one of these places incompetent who hews to the proper ideology such a name that makes the whole thing stink.

I don't "long" any more. I seek understanding--actionable understanding--that when applied should lead to useful outcomes. I am quite prepared to alter my views and processes if and when it should be necessary.

Norway thoughts

It's strange: I will at times feel utter clarity on things, then when I try to type it, it gets fuzzy. Words really are poor tools, but they are all we have in most times and places. I'm not sure, but I don't think I think mainly in words. I see/feel things, then describe them, always with a loss.

The salient point I wanted to make about the murders in Norway this past week is that I think it would be worth creating a continuum between those who believe in collective guilt, and those who believe in individualism.

Necessarily, if one says it is "societies" fault that person X is failing, then society is culpable. If a crime has been committed, then society commited the crime. The point people miss is that this does not in the slightest diminish the importance of the crime, or the horror with which certain people view the "crime", so much as relocate the locus of blame and following anger and hate from the actual person, to an amorphous entity created in the abstract, but "collected" in the real world.

In a properly developed Leftist collective, to be accused is to be guilty. To believe otherwise would be to imply the collective were capable of error. Needless to say, you do not give your heart, mind and body to an error-prone entity, so it is much easier to reconcile the punishment of the innocent with justice, than to extricate oneself from a cocoon which protects you from anomie.

What this fellow did was no different in principle than Bill Ayers attacking American soldiers, who at Fort Dix were no doubt in large measure drafted. To be clear, it was incompetence--not a lack of malignancy--which prevented that bombing from being the most serious and deadly in American history.

This was no different in principle from Hitler singling out the Jews, or Lenin the "bourgeoisie", or Pol Pot and his sociopathic children the "intellectuals."

In all cases, generalized abstractions were applied to concrete individuals. Have there been examples of greedy Jewish bankers? Of course. There have also been greedy German bankers, and greedy Indian bankers. Are most Jews guilty of anything? Of course not.

Were the "bourgeoisie" guilty of crimes against the people? Some, perhaps, particularly noblemen who took their estates by force at some point in remote history. But the factory owner, or windmill owner, or successful merchant? People like that CREATE wealth. The factory owner employs people. The windmill owner likewise. Both produce products needed by "the people". The merchant helps create markets for them and others, helping build the general economy.

Yet scenes reminiscent of Kristallnacht happened over and over in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik victory. Homes were broken in to by the Cheka, the men shot, the women raped, and everything that moved taken away. Some of the women they even consolidated in brothels, where they would have vodka and cocaine parties.

This guy in Norway, whatever his name was, saw these children as abstractions. They were not real to him. They were guilty because of their membership in some group. Admittedly, they were likely all leftists.

But first and foremost, they were human beings. You convince human beings. You channel your anger into coherence and understanding. That is what I do. The madder I get, the harder I think, and more work I put into educating myself.

Self evidently, what B. did will be counterproductive to conservatism generally. We already face a foe with a prodigious capacity for propaganda and deception. This makes me angry. But see above: the proper reaction is to think, understand, and then educate others. We cannot beat them with raw power. Their system is predicated on power, and they know how to aggregate it. If we aggregate it for them, the momentum will soon enough slip into any form of human government but that of liberal democracy, the rule of law, and political freedom.

I found it interesting if unsurprising that he was a Dexter fan. I have posted on this before. It is a recurring topic for me, but here is one of my longer treatments of that show and media violence in general: http://moderatesunited.blogspot.com/2010/09/dexter-murder-and-mass-media_23.html

I think this question that I asked there is a good one: "are you starting with the desire for justice, or the desire to harm others, and a need to justify it"?

Ted Kazynski (close) was a bright guy. He was not obviously psychopathic. I have no doubt he could hold a close to normal conversation with most people. Yet something was so separated from other human beings that he could and did treat them as interchangeable objects.

Tonight I watched two typical kids of middle to upper middle class backgrounds park their parent's Volvo or something similar, and come in to the sushi bar I was at. One of them had a T-shirt on it that said "I require to be immersed fully in human waste". Not so pleasant an image for a restaurant. Sade, of course, has many images like that, which I personally have not chosen to inflict on anyone in any of my writings.

I looked at them. The thought that occurred to me is that anyone who would consciously choose to put objectionable images in other people's minds--to attack them qualitatively--is someone lacking both empathy, and the capacity for innocent happiness.

Watch kids interacting with their telephones and computers. They are interacting with people via the medium of objects. There is something different between the physical presence of someone, and their text messages. Yet this causes or facilitates some of the zombie behavior--the living death of lacking the capacity for genuine pleasure.

Again, this Norwegian grew up in what was obviously a reasonably well balanced home. His radicalization happened within the context of playing violent video games--many modelled on training software developed by the military to desensitive soldiers to killing--and watching shows like Dexter, which don't just glorify violence, but also an incapacity for human feeling, and following taste for the darker "pleasure" of sadism. This is the metaphor of the vampire, who is dead, but keeps moving by literally sucking the life out of others.

As I think about it, perhaps the best comparison is that of Columbine. Rich kids, saturated in both violence and self pity, treating the world as a unified whole, and their own freedom of action as a curse.

Few thoughts. I had more, but I am tired.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Debt Ceiling and Taxes

Few points:

1) Our national debt is set to increase some $7 trillion over the next ten years. Most of the media talk of "cuts" has to do with decreasing the amount we go into debt, not actually decreasing our debt. Nobody has done that successfully since FDR initiated our spending orgy, which has sped up and slowed down periodically in the years since. Clinton just balanced the annual budget, without making a dent in the underlying debt, and despite promises to the contrary anyone with a pulse and a positive IQ knew would be broken, Obama has of course initiated very consciously destructive massive spending, and put in place massive tax increases to be instituted after the 2012 election. This is what deceiving nihilists do: they put their little time bombs in places nobody can see them, right away.

Thus, in my understanding, an increase of "merely" $3 trillion constitutes, in an Obamaworld Republicans are largely letting him get away with, a "cut" of $4 trillion. This is farcical. Even conservative radio hosts seem unable to grasp this point.

2) The top 1% of taxpayers pay more than the bottom 95% of Americans. The top 10% of income earners pay something on the order of 60% of all taxes, and the bottom 40% or so only pay the regressive 15.2% or so taxes used to fund current Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits, which most of them will never receive. They pay no income tax at all.

3) Corporations are always double taxes. The entity itself is taxed, which makes it harder for it to create jobs, since that is money that cannot be invested in expansion. It is, on the contrary, given to unionized Federal employees, many of whom view it as their job to make business as hard as possible.

Secondly, the employees are taxed, from the CEO to the janitor. As mentioned, the janitor pays no income tax, but has, in effect, to bear the full 15.2% (I think that is right: I am adding direct contributions to what the company pays; I believe it is 6.2% of earnings for SSA, and 2.9% for Medicare/Medicaid; I don't know what Unemployment is, but it is likely added on to that--that is a topic for another day). The CEO is taxed on his income, and everything he buys, from homes to yachts, to watches to cars.

Thus only fools argue that any corporation pays no taxes, or that reducing tax rates somehow constitutes "corporate welfare". Welfare is when you take something from one person by force of law, and give it to someone else. What is happened with corporations is that less is being taken directly in corporate taxation, which enables business growth, and following increases in income and other taxes.

4) We pay interest on the national debt. I see different numbers, but is currently somewhere between about $250 billion and $400 trillion. Certainties are that it is going up, and that at some point the sheer size of our debt will create questions about our ability to pay, and following increases in the rate we pay to get people to finance that debt. Currently, Bernanke's Quantitative Easing--money printing, which is gifted to member banks in the Federal Reserve System that Americans can neither control nor even monitor effectively--is what is keeping these interest rates down. We could at some point be paying a trillion in interest alone.

Since he is a liar, Obama in my understanding does not even factor interest in to his purported cuts; neither the present interest, nor any projections on what future interest is likely to be, particularly given the likelihood at some point of a downgrade.

5) There is no amount of taxation on the rich that can pay for this. They already pay a disproportionately high amount, and history is abundant evidence that increases in nominal tax rates on the "rich" do not necessarily lead to increases in actual income. Foolish people assume that the rich simply hand their money over willingly. They don't: they move their money into tax free bonds, move it offshore, or simply leave it in the bank or gold, none of which are economically productive. Capital gains, which ignorant people want to call unearned income, is always the result of some productive economic activity, which normally consists in providing capital for some job-producing activity, whether building a house, or expanding production in something.

We could literally confiscate the combined wealth of the richest 10% of Americans, and I don't think would pay our bills for more than a year, and the effects would lead to us turning into Cuba in short order: totalitarian, utterly impoverished, and utterly bereft of any valid reason for hope.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Emotional intelligence

I have endured far more than my fair share of hate on the internet, for the simple reason that in large measure I sought it out. I spent years "debating" people who more than likely wanted me dead, because I found it useful. It is useful because when you get angry, at least in my case, it heightens my focus and enables all sorts of new perceptions to occur that would not have happened if people had not been doing their best to wound me emotionally. On balance, that whole process was useful, even if I've transcended it, in large measure.

One thing that one immediately notices on almost all message boards the internet over, though, is emotional shallowness and lack of empathy, which of course are traits indicative of retarded emotional intelligence.

It seems to me that people express their real selves behind pseudonyms, so these boards are, I think somewhat useful in cultural analysis. Clearly, it is a certain type of person who spends all day in front of a computer, whose social contacts are primarily virtual, and who feels the need to foster group cohesion by denigrating other people whose only crime is difference and perhaps awkwardness. We read regularly about kids whose lives are torn apart by Facebook or Twitter or other aggression.

Kids that are out shooting hoops and bussing tables are not, in general, the problem.

If we generalize, humanity has spent most of its history in warfare. In most cultures for most of the time, men more or less owned their women and could hit them or their children any time they pleased. Violence has characterized our past, and it should come as no surprise that it is seen on the internet.

At the same time, it is hard not to imagine that something has been lost in our age, when children don't HAVE to socialize, and can instead spend endless hours "playing" with interactive but more or less imaginary friends. Apparently kids that play "World of Warcraft" often play it 30-40 a week or more. Their social universe is in effect abstract, and this leads, in my view, to emotional and social retardation. The image I have is bread that is baked before it has risen properly. It is just too thick in the middle.

It is of course easy to picture the "good old days", which I suspect were much tougher for most people than we are able to imagine. At the same time, the one concrete metric I would suggest might shed some light is our shared fondness for poetry. Virtually all cultures for all of history have had their epic stories, that made men and women rejoice and cry as the fortunes of their heroes waxed and waned. One can readily imagine a storyteller by a campfire reciting Gilgamesh 3,000 years ago, to an audience that knew the story well, but wanted always to hear it one more time.

We have lost that. We have, in large measure, lost Shakespeare, and Keats, and all the emotional "tuning" that such imaginative and evocative writing enables. We calibrate as machines, and machines are not sensitive or empathetic. They understand software algorithyms--they understand conformity to behavioral and emotive standards, normally based on shared aggression and a bestial sense of humor--but not what it means to truly see other people. They can't see themselves. They are not developed. Why would they see others?

This is a cultural problem whose extent I find impossible to diagnose. I am simply describing it for now.

Jane Fonda

Posted this quote and commentary in a couple places after the publicized tiff with QVC. What people need to grasp is that Jane Fonda commited treason, which for this purpose is defined as "adhering to their [note the plural of the United States] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort". Posing with AA guns which could and did kill American pilots, and helping the NVA propaganda effort clearly qualify. 100 years before that she would have been shot or hung, no questions asked, and none needed. Her public statements and publicity photos said it all. Likewise, Bill Ayers would and should have been hung from a tall oak tree, rather than spending a career researching the indoctrination of children.

From Lewis Sorley's "A Better War": “[NVA Colonel] Bui Tin testified to the importance the North Vietnamese attached to the antiwar movement in the United States. ‘It was essential to our strategy’, said Tin. ‘Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9am to follow the growth of the American anti-war movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda and former attorney general Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that WE SHOULD HOLD ON IN THE FACE OF BATTLEFIELD REVERSES [emphasis mine]. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.”

The NVA agrees that she was a key war asset, FOR THEM. She should have been shot as a traitor. I am dead serious about that. Some 58,000 brave Americans, and many times that in Vietnamese died in that war.

I will add, that I have a listing of NVA atrocities, and some context, here: http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page21.html

The plain and unpleasant reality is that this woman helped facilitate mass torture, murder, and unimaginable misery for millions. This treatment is excessively kind.

Human rights

There is no such thing as a right. If there were, then people could not violate them. The Muslim crudaders would not have been able to rape and enslave infidel men and women in their imperialistic expansionary period. The Scandinavian raiders would not have been able to rape and take as slaves for sale large sections of Europe. Dublin, Ireland, was in my understanding founded as a center for the slave trade.

Ludwig Wittgenstein famously argued (in my understanding, based on having read several internet pages devoted to him and the book "Wittgenstein's Poker") that non-empirical arguments are intrinsically either tautological or nonsensical.

If you define a right as "that which exists the way I conceive it", then what you have said is that a right is equal to a "right". The abstract ideal is equal to the word, which is equal to nothing empirically, and thus necessarily solipsistic, and meaningless in a social context.

When Jefferson modified Locke slightly in stipulating "self evident" rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, he was describing ideals, and not realities.

What he was REALLY saying is that in his considered view human felicity would more naturally flow from social and political orders oriented around those principles. He was quite right in this.

But we need to be careful with this word "right", in how we use it. If we fail to see that these rights are stipulated in such a way that measurable effects can flow from them, then they become tools for tyranny. We can measure the effects of the ideals Jefferson offered us. In the last two hundred years we have grown steadily in the freedoms offered to American citizens, have grown in prosperity and power, and have done so, with a large 4 year interruption, in conditions of peace.

The "right" to income equality and other such rights no more exist that "rights" to life liberty or property. What we must look to is what empirically verifiable effects they "work to", in the Hayekian sense.

Have to run. That will have to do.

Reality egalitarianism

We can measure intelligence, wealth, and physical capabilities. It is much harder to measure reality testing, which is to say how accurately someone's worldview describes the way the world actually works, which is to say both a generally accurate philosophy--where accurate is defined as supporting on-going productive physical emotional and cognitive activity--and the capacity to understand the details of the concrete environment within which one is operating. The details of course will vary for everyone.

One would be tempted to suppose that in conditions of freedom success would imply this ability, but the fact is that you can be smart and unmotivated, you can be lucky, and you can be confined.

Self evidently, even beginning such a project involves a normative worldview, a baseline. Such things are implied in attempts to measure media "bias", which is t say deviation from the way things "really work". It is of course unsurprising that leftists view ABC and the like as impartial.

Several basic ideas that it seems to me should be present in any tolerably accurate version of the "real world" is that "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch", and that "what works for a little, will work more for a lot". I can mix baking soda and vinegar together and get a reaction. I infer, accuratly, from this that if I mixed a ton of the one and the other together, a similar but much larger reaction would emerge.

We have only had one Great Depression. Not coincidentally, it is the only economic problem which we attempted to solve with Keynesian economics. The simple reality is that those ideas don't work. If they worked, a small "stimulus" would cause a small effect, and a large one a large effect. As it happens, a small "stimulus" makes things worse, and an even larger one would cause a threat to our national existence, which is of course the whole idea. Keynes wanted a world without money, which of course could only work if people like him were telling us what we could have, and how much.

But I had mainly in mind here the African American communities in our large cities. Some 90% of them voted for Obama. Surely if a little doesn't work, a lot works even less well? For 30-40 years they have voted for Democrats religiously around the country. What good has it done them? Surely at some point they will realize that if they keep doing what they have been doing, they will get more of what they have been getting?

Nancy Pelosi has done well for herself. Jesse Jzckaon and Jerry Wright have both made small fortunes pretending to help them. The benefits to them are concrete and "spendable". The benefits to those in areas with 30-40% unemployment among younger people are invisible. How much worse could things get? 100% unemployment? That is the direction they are going.

I will add that one aspect of illegal Latino labor that is overlooked is that they represent a way around the minimum wage. Employers who do not pay Minimum Wage are already breaking the law. But it makes economic sense for both parties to enter into these labor agreements. The employer pays less, and the Mexicans are making what is for them good money. Again, these contracts are entered into voluntarily.

Nobody is asking young African Americans if they would prefer working for $4/hour to their current unemployment. The deal presented is that they "deserve" at least $7.25 (I think it is), and that this basic pricing floor protects them. Who is making this claim? People making $80,000/year or more--some millionaires--on the govermnent payroll, who live nowhere near the ghettoes.

Who is choosing for them? They sure aren't. They just never see the jobs that are never created.

To be clear, basic economics tells us that if you pay someone X amount per hour, but they only produce X-y in output, you will go bankrupt. Then the job is gone. Kids who dropped out of high school after the 9th grade, and who have been in unstable, unnurturing homes their entire lives do not, initially, do good work. This is common sense. But if they want to try, they are worth something, and that first job is how they learn the skills they need to get a better second job, and so on. They can live with their parents-their mother, statisically, in the vast majority of cases--and help buy groceries, and move out when their skills become such that they can command much better wages.

My first job, back in the 80's, paid $2.85/hour. I couldn't live on that, but I didn't try. I lived with my parents.

Kids that never enter the labor pool generally enter the prison system. As Reagan said "Some of the scariest words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and here to help you".

Primary versus secondary inflation

It is a source of a bit of--I guess I will use the word sorrow, as a way of mourning what could have been and was not--that Milton Friedman and the Monetarists asked so few questions about the validity of a monetary system in which money could be created at will by a small power elite, one completely unchecked by any regulatory process, or answerable in any way to the American people. The project he assigned himself was asking how the system worked, and where it had gone wrong. He did not ask the fundamental question: if the Federal Reserve had the power to create the Great Depression, why do we still entrust that power to bankd who benefit from that power?

Despite QE1 and QE2, we still have low interest rates. All along, I have been skeptical that we would see hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is a way for governments to print their way out of fiscal trouble, over a relatively short period of time. Our government is not empowered to print money. A small cabal of banks is. And they don't benefit from hyperinflation. Their seizure of our national wealth is a gradualistic enterprise, and they have NO interest in giving anyone any reason to look harder at it, at least at this point.

They benefited from the inflation in 1970's that they seem to have caused very consciously by increasing the M1 supply (I have not studied this extensively, but that is my conclusion based on perhaps two hours research and an understanding of the system). They did this to get more power. Until 1980, if memory serves, their Open Market Operations were limited to the purchase of Treasury Bonds. A law was passed in 1979-80, as a "solution" to the stagflation facing the nation, which gave them the power to buy substantially any security, anywhere, with fiat money. They literally write the check, then own the security, where no money existed before they wrote the check. It also gave them control over most of the nations banks.

Keep in mind here that the Federal Reserve is OOMPOSED of banks, very large, mainly Wall Street banks, so it is the case that small banks are being regulated by their competitors, at least as I understand the matter.

What I am choosing to call primary inflation is the initial creation of money. Relative to Quantitative Easing, it is (we are told: we have no way of knowing for sure; the value of our money is quite literally beyond the reach of the democratic process) the purchase of Treasury bonds held by Reserve members with money created for the purpose.

What do they want to do with this money? Loan it to someone at interest. What is likely happening at this moment is that more optimistic economies around the world are borrowing that money. JP Morgan is making record profits. Why shouldn't they? They play a role both in creating the money, and deciding who it goes to. They literally create money for themselves at the Federal Reserve, then make profits with it. If you ponder this for a moment it should become clear how monumentally stupid you have to be to go belly up once you are incorporated into this very cozy arrangement (think Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns).

If they loan it within the US, though, it goes into our fractional reserve banking system. In theory, the bsnk can loan out 90% of every dollar it borrows.

(How the money is borrowed, I don't know. JP Morgan and others could buy up stock in the banks, or they could "overnight" the money using the Federal Funds system. How exactly they benefit from a 0% target, I also don't know).

Anyway, a 10% reserve requirement means that they can "clone" the money theoretically in the vault, and send it back into circulation. Since it should have been in the vault, since it should not be travelling around, competing with other dollars, it is inflationary.

Let us assume confidence in the future [which would include a non-Socialist President, and fiscal responsibility in Washington, as well as repealing Obamacare, and many of the other regulations passed in recent years. These things would constitute a cessation of our downhill slide. They would not improve things, but rather stop them from getting worse. If your head hurts because you are banding it against the wall, step one in curing your headache is to stop banging your head.]: the dollar is borrowed by somone to build or buy something.

That one dollar created by the Fed and given to one of its members and sent out into the world to make its way is now $9. And that money gets loaned, say, to a builder, who puts it in his bank. He owes it to Bank one, but Bank two now has real money in his account. That bank now has 90% of the first dollar, and can now loan it out. So the money gets cloned again. 81 cents is created and sent out into the world.

And oh, it gets deposited, and Bank 3 can now loan out 73 cents.

This process I label Secondary Inflation. By far, this is the most important element of inflation. Over and above the monetary policies pursued by the Fed in the late 1920's and early 1930's, the money supply will contract if nobody is borrowing money.

That is the condition we are in now. People are holding back. They are not borrowing money. So Bernanke's Quantaitive Easing won't even approach relevance until people start inflating our currency by borrowing again. What has happened, though, is that he has planted something like a trillion dollar seeds among very large private banks, who are poised to in effect seize large sections of our economy, when it recovers.

There is more I could say on this, but that will do for now.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mot

Bon: not sure. Difficulty is the vinegar of life.

For me, I like vinegar. It is an essential element in ketchup and most salad dressings. It is in most barbeque sauces and of course all pickles.

How dull would life be if everything were sweet? We all need that kick in the ass from time to time.

If we figure out how to deliver that kick in the ass in conditions of peace and prosperity, then we have most of the problems of life solved.

Motivation

Dale Carnegie once made the obvious point, that is not obvious to stupid people, that the only way to get people to do things is to make them want to do it. If you want sustained activity, you need sustained motivation.

You can point a gun at someone's head--or that of someone they love--and get work out of them. The NVA regulars who terrorized the South Vietnamese countryside, extracting military service in exchange for not killing young mens families, were able to get work done. But the moment those same young men were able to, they threw them out of their villages. Supporting the natural resentment these villagers felt was the whole point and purpose of Creighton Abrams pacification strategy, which mercifully included many cases of shooting the sons of bitches outright. They richly deserved it.

Economics in large measure is the study of relative motivation. Why do people hire? Why do they work? Economics oriented in the real world understands the WIIFM principle: "What's in it for me?" You can certainly appeal to people's moral sensibilities, or their patriotism. But in the end you MUST appeal to something they value. Nothing is more enduring than the needs for security and safety, and those in turn are best met by making enough money for economic stability; through wealth building; through profit, in short.

There is an intrinsic difference between moral appeals "we can't let the old go hungry", and principles of sustainable economics.

Let us do a reductio ad absurdum. If it is morally good to take money from the present generation which we don't have, and give it to people who paid in a fraction of what they are taking out, why not do even more of this? Rather than recognize that we can't afford the system we have created, why not double down? After all, it is not like you can live comfortably (on your own, in a retirement home, far from the family that in past ages would have kept a room for you and cared for you) on Social Security. Why not double the payments? Would this not be morally right? Why not triple them? Why not quadruple them? Why shouldn't every elderly person be granted $1 million dollars a year? After all, they are old, and it would comfort them.

Self evidently, this line of thought ignores economic realities. So too do those who benefit from panicking little old ladies in pursuit of economic policies that are designed in no small measure to protect political power, and NOT--categorically NOT--to actually help in a sustainable way the constituencies to which their loyalty is allegedly pledged.

Obama would actually be happy to see urban blight and misery spread. He can claim that this only proves that policies which lead to the creation of massive "poverty relief" organizations--with the massive, Democrat-voting taxpayer funded payrolls that go with them--haven't gone far enough. Inner city blacks have been conditioned to believe that they are being helped with handouts and minimum wage laws, and can thus be tricked into supporting the very policies which ensure structural unemployment among them, and the corresponding inability for all but a few to rise above their conditions.

Poor people pay, as Thomas Sowell observed three decades ago.

What is needed is not mercy, and not compassion. What is needed is freedom. The more I learn, the more I realize that the only sustainable forms of business abuses are those sanctioned and protected by the government. We the People can sort out everything else on our own.

Minimum Wage Laws

Would you rather not work at all, earn $600/month for doing nothing, or $800/month working at $5/hour, which is several dollars below the minimum wage? Some would choose the second, some the third, but given a choice, I don't think anyone would choose the first.

Yet, that is where some 55% of young African American males are in this country at the moment. They are unemployed, and not having worked long enough to draw unemployment, are not able to earn any honest income at all. Small wonder many turn to drug dealing.

This article is illuminating, although of course the basic argument has been in place since at least the 1940's, and ignored by the people who benefit from pretending they care about the poor.

Since minimum wage laws discriminate against the employment of the least-skilled worker, it shouldn't be surprising to find 16-to-24-year-old male high school dropouts its primary victims.

Among the white males, the authors find that "each 10% increase in a state or federal minimum wage has decreased employment by 2.5% ; for Hispanic males, the figure is 1.2%.

"But among black males in this group, each 10% increase in the minimum wage decreased employment by 6.5%."


How does this work? Wages are a function of supply and demand. This is obvious, but I have been pondering it again as I am listening to Thomas Sowell's excellent "Basic Economics" on CD (educating yourself while driving is a good use of time).

When you enact minimum wage laws in areas with high unemployment, you get a lot more applicants for work than you have jobs. This means that the applicants get cherry-picked. If the owners are racists, this makes it easy to not hire African Americans.

Yet are unemployed people better off working for little, or not working, for nothing? What would you prefer?

Leftist idiots ASSume they know what is best, so they insist on "fair" wages, that have the effect of increasing systemic unemployment. Most seriously, they make it so that high school dropout kids can't get jobs of any sort, to get the sort of experience needed to get better jobs, and eventually to rise up into the middle class. The whole process is short-circuited.

You see, employers hire people for what they are worth. If they hire people for more than market value, then they eventually suffer business losses and go bankrupt. And they CAN'T hire people for less than they are worth, since no one will take those positions.

It is quite clear that much of urban blight is due to Minimum Wage laws. They are great for those with jobs, at least relative to those who can't get a job at all.

Yet the simple fact is that if wages were allowed to drop to their natural level, then jobs that are now going to the Developing World would stay here. There are very poor people in both the cities and countryside who would work for what people in other nations are working for. To be clear: they have NOTHING now. They might get in unemployment the same paltry amount they would have received working for $4/hour. But that money teaches them NOTHING, and makes them less employable in the future. It makes things worse.

So it is no surprise that as Minimum Wages increase, so too does umemployment, in a more or less linear fashion that is MOST damaging to poor blacks.

Zombies again

Sitting there, eating frozen yogurt with my littler people, in a really nice strip mall in a nice section of town. Stream of consciousness: this is too nice, something bad is bound to happen. I hope we don't get attacked by zombies, ha, ha.

It's a joke of course. Preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Reading Pride, Prejudice and Zombies.

So of course I zone out like I do, and start thinking about the disconnection between all the things we consume and who creates them. Everything we do is made somewhere else. We don't make shoes, clothes, food, highways, computers, cars, or anything but some very small part of the economy.

Maybe you are an electrician: you wire some very, very small part of the world at large, and not normally your own home. Electricians never get their own ceiling fans installed, just as plumbers never get the new kitchen sink in. They are too tired from doing it for other people, for money.

In a subsistence economy, life is simple: once you have enough to satisfy the needs of life, you are done. You can relax. For us, though, how do we know how much is enough? When do you stop, and why? If we were content with the medicine of the 1970's, we would be having no issues with healthcare costs. If we were content to live solely in homes the size of our grandparents, we never would have had the housing boom and bust.

I feel sometimes this vague dread in really nice places--air conditioned, beautiful, and everything is plentiful and everyone is attractive. It seems artificial, like it is hanging on the edge of a cliff, like it can't endure. Yes, we can get this happy, happy, happy world for some short period of time, but if it can't last, then it is doomed. Death follows life just as taxes follow income and lies follow excessive regulation. Order is followed by disorder.

The zombie myth "holds" this anxiety, I think, for many people. It is the disaster over the turn of the hill that we just can't quite see yet. Zombies are unreal enough that we can project onto them this fear without consciously connecting it with our own innermost thoughts.

This is simply one path through the zombie forest, but I think an interesting one that might at some point benefit from more exploration.

Krugman Simplified

Did John Maynard Keynes or Paul Krugman ever run businesses? No, of course not. Keynes made his fortunes as an academic and currency trader--he understood inflation quite well, which is the only thing that permits profits in currency trading--and Krugman has been a lifelong academic.

The latter speaks to the psychology of business. He rejects the idea that a socialist-in-chief who has passed a law--Obamacare--for which it is impossible to budget, but which--along with the tax increases that will be necessary at some point, if not this year--will certainly be expensive.

Does he even know what a profit and loss statement is? Or that business owners, not unreasonably, prefer not going bankrupt? Krugman simply doesn't care. They are an aggregated, undifferentiated mass for him. Treating people as abstractions in this way is no different in principle that claiming that general statements could be made about "the Jews".

I will grant that he is not motivated by literal bloodlust--although at some point he could perhaps be made to feel the attraction, especially if mass death were also abstract due to his physical distance--but he has no love for the people who take the risks to create the companies that create the jobs that create the wealth in this nation. This is because even though he arrogates to himself the right to speak for "the people", he has never been one. They are the ones down there on the street: why sully himself?

He is a smug priss. I don't like him. I don't like anyone who inserts ideas of hatred, or ideas that lead to poverty into our national dialogue.

I have not run the numbers, but I suspect we could confiscate the wealth of the wealthiest 10,000 Americans and it wouldn't pay our bills for a month. And it would, of course, lead to the eradication of millions of jobs, and very, very deep depression, from which we would never emerge; at least, until private property rights were again respected, as they had to be, to some extent, in China and elsewhere, for any development to happen at all.

We do need to raise taxes. Far, far more, though, we need to cut off the oxygen to the cancer that is the swollen horde of taxpayer funded parasites in the Federal Government. We live in its shadow--but the sun is still out there. We need to find it.

The magic of Harry Potter

I saw the last Harry Potter. I really enjoy these movies. They work well on deep mythic levels. Here, we even had a resurrection.

Clearly, a fictional series that succeeds this much has tapped a cultural nerve. This is a complex phenomenon, but I wanted to submit what I view as the primary component.

Joanne Rowling (surely we can admit by now she is a girl?) created an intact culture. The word "muggle" serves the same role as Goyim, or its countless equivalents in culturea the world over. We are told implicitly--it is explicit, but the full terms of the deal never discussed--by cultural relativists, most of our thought leaders, that the cost of global peace is the sacrifice of our identities. Consumerism is a gradualistic way of accomplishing that goal; the rejection of religion--normally the core component of any sense of identity--a more direct one.

To put it in a perhaps strange way, we need funny hats. We need funny shoes. We need some way of saying this person is this and not that. We have to be able to differentiate one another. "Emo" is simultaneously a recognition that our culture is dying, and a solution to that, by creating what we call a "subculture".

Hogwarts is a subculture. It is quirky and appealing, and the fact that it "breaks the rules", by existing unapologetically by its own rules, is cloaked by the fact that it is filled with fantastic and unexpected elements. Rowling shows great creativity in distancing them from us in this way.

We see, there, what we want, here, but cannot find. In my view, culture develops naturally and organically, if not STOPPED. There is the problem: all incipient cultural formations that exist outside of the leftist egalitarian creed to which so many of our thought leaders desperately cling--and that is the word--are opposed by them.

The war of one against the other is to be replaced, in their view, with the permanent victory of one class over another, with peace maintained by violence and thought control. Few lack the vision to see this clearly, but not all. Those are the nasty ones.

We also need this concept of Evil and the noble crusade. By combining all of these elements, Rowling surrepetiously--likely unconsciously for her as well, since whe appears sentimentally attached to purported humanitarian activities--inserts back into our shared mythic life medicine many, many people desperately need.

Light

Be thou an oasis in the darkness.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Again`

Down the rabbit hole:

No, the government shouldn’t budget the way families do; on the contrary, trying to balance the budget in times of economic distress is a recipe for deepening the slump. Spending cuts right now wouldn’t “put the economy on sounder footing.” They would reduce growth and raise unemployment. And last but not least, businesses aren’t holding back because they lack confidence in government policies; they’re holding back because they don’t have enough customers — a problem that would be made worse, not better, by short-term spending cuts.


For any reader I may have who do not salivate at the prospect of a permanent eradication of unemployment at the cost of permanent poverty and a totalitarian government enforcing it--like Krugman must, as it is otherwise hard to see how anyone with an IQ over 100 could be so stupid--I suggest education.

Start with Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson".

Then read either "The Fatal Conceit", or "The Road to Serfdom", by Friedrich Hayek.

Then read "FDR's Folly", by Jim Powell.

Then read anything that appeals to you from Thomas Sowell or Paul Johnson, both of whom have written a lot of books.

Here are the net truths: the ideas proposed by Krugman will cause economic malaise; they will hurt the poorest Americans the worst; they will decrease our economic and political liberty; they support totalitarianism; and they are supported by totalitarians.

There is nothing nice about this man or the empirically discredited notions he spends so much time--and let's be clear, makes so much money--hawking to ignorant and gullible people.

Oxykrugman

Presumably you know Oxy- stands for Oxford. Why ask dogs not to bark, cats not to meow, or leftist hacks not to propose salt water for our economic thirst?

Here he goes again: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/opinion/11krugman.html?_r=1&WT.mc_id=NYT-E-I-NYT-E-AT-0713-L15

"The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing. " Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

This whole idea depends on this magical fantasy that governments have money. They don't. They have the power to tax, the power to borrow, and the power--in most nations, not this one--to create money.

Always, always, always, the government is in the end either we the people--meaning we self-fund our own services--or We the Technocrats, who arrogantly choose winners and losers in an anti-free market fashion, which in aggregate does horrible damage to the private sector, which is the only sustainable source of wealth production and job creation.

Paul Krugman causes human suffering. He causes unnecessary human suffering: broken homes, chronic unemployment, depressed wages, bankrupt businesses.

If only he were capable of shame; but alas human history--particularly recent human history--is filled to overflowing with sanctimonious, destructive assholes like him.

Uncle Pen

I visited a reproduction of the cabin Bill Monroe spent his latter teen years in, and which was quite common in his day, and not entirely uncommon to this very day in some parts of the country, even if they now have more rooms. His mother died when he was eight, if memory serves, and his father when he was 16. That sort of thing used to be common even in this nation, prior to the advent of all of the benefits of a largely free market economy.

The cabin belonged to his Uncle Pen, who himself had had two children, both of whom died, and after which his wife left him. He lived all alone until Monroe came along, and played the fiddle every night.

The thing was one room, and of course the privy would have been in the back and consisted in a structure built over a hole in the ground, presumably without toilet paper. The cablin was cooler than I would have supposed, since the walls were quite thick and without leaks.

They ate fatback, molasses and corn cakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

This is the song about him: Uncle Pen. This music is very energetic, since it is intended for sad people leading hard, uncomfortable lives, and just trying to make their way in the world. They would often play all night long.

Most of the world still lives like this, and the policies designed to help them have, in aggregate, made things worse. For much of the world, you could take this basic poverty, make food unreliable, and add political oppression enabled by foreign aid.

Anyway, here are the lyrics:

Oh the people would come from far away
They'd dance all night till the break of day
When the caller hollered "do-se-do"
You knew Uncle Pen was ready to go

Late in the evening about sundown
High on the hill and above the town
Uncle Pen played the fiddle lord how it would ring
You could hear it talk, you could hear it sing

He played an old piece he called "Soldier's Joy"
And the one called "The Boston Boy"
The greatest of all was "Jenny Lynn"
To me that's where the fiddle begins

I'll never forget that mournful day
When Uncle Pen was called away
They hung up his fiddle, they hung up his bow
They knew it was time for him to go

Fifth Columnists

I have been seeing over the past several years cases of "conservative" who either don't understand what it is the creed stands for; or who are active fifth columnists, who are adopting the mantle of conservatism in order to disrupt it.

It is important to grasp that for Leftists their politics is their way of life, their source of meaning. It is as inconceivable to them to listen openly to other voices as it would be for an Italian to pretend he was Chinese. Their entire sense of self, the part of us that holds our worlds and our lives together, depends on conformity to the notions that: "liberals" help the poor and downtrodden; that they are good for the economy; that they are the ones who support freedom; and that they have helped the world in aggregate, through economic aid, and by opposing wars of "oppression" and capitalist "exploitation".

All of these notions are wrong. For years I have asked them in their own blogs and websites to justify themselves, and they can't do it, in the face of determined, principled and informed opposition.

What they can and do do is disinform and sneak around. They engage in character assssination, and censorship. They engage in the social terrorism of demonising and protesting violently anyone and anything their leaders upload into their soft heads as "not like us". They oppose all "alterity"--to use an academic term ironically and quite accurately--whatsoever.

Now, I have a strong personality. But it never migrates by default to insult. Yes, I can and do make general characterizations like those above regularly. These are not prejudices. They are "judices", if I might coin a term, which are based upon intimate and sustained familiarity with the breed since before I entered college.

And you can speak usefully of the breed, in a way you cannot, for example, speak of African Americans, because conformity to a core ideology DEFINES it. If you don't subscribe to that ideology and worldview, then I am not talking about you.

In any event, I am blocked currently from posting at Pajamas Media and Front Page Magazine, and as I mentioned just had a comment removed from Forbes. With regard to Front Page I believe David Horowitz made a serious error hiring David something, who seems to have de facto control of the blog. The guy spent his entire college career as a hard core Leftist, wrote a dissertation on David, and then somehow had some sort of epiphany which led to becoming a conservative. I don't buy it.

PJTV, no idea what the issue is. I have never posting anything insulting or vulgar--certainly not of the sort that is to be seen regularly on there. I suspect there is someone editing the blog who is either really wobbly as a conservative, or an outright leftist. I knock heads when I debate. It's a full contact sport, but it never, ever devolves solely to personal attacks on my part. That is always a species of idiocy to me, and I leave it to my opponents, who as a general rule start and end with it.

Yesterday or the day before I was very disappointed to read an article on the lightbulb controversy by Jonathan Seidl--at "The Blaze"--that was more or less an open apologetic to the leftist view on this. Yes, Republicans were involved, but the crop in office had just been handed a decisive defeat by Democrats in 2006.

This lightbulb law is a patent infringement in free markets in America. What that means is that powerful corporations--GE in particular--are using law to accomplish de facto monopolistic power that a truly free market would not have given them. We the consumers lose. The law is not necessary. If the bulbs make economic sense, they will sell themselves. If they don't, then we are being forced to buy an inferior product at inflated prices.

Further, these things generate mercury vapors when broken. They have to be recycled by professionals. What this means is that this law is going to enable gangsters--a lot of waste disposal companies are run by Teamsters, who are largely run by gangsters, especially on the East Coast--to vastly expand their business, and probably rationalize the Federal Government imposing a law REQUIRING us to recycle.

No true conservative would fail to see these things; or to oppose the basic idea of the Federal Goverment interfering in our liberty. There is no difference between this, and mandating the level of nicotine in cigarettes, the alcohol in booze, the type of breakfast cereal we can buy, the kind of fans, and dryers, and washing machines, and hair dryers, etc, etc, etc we can buy. NONE of this was granted them in the Commerce Clause. They arrogated it to themselves, and cowardly politicians and judges--my contempt for the Supreme Court is in general quite profound, and greater than that of politicians, since the Justices (so-called0 do not have to worry about reelection, and are granted time to think about the consequences of their decisions--have let all this stand.

The net with regard to this post is that "by their fruits shall you know them". If it looks like a chicken, and runs like a chicken, it is probably a chicken. We live in a sea of fools and cowards. I say this not JUST because I am being irritable--that I am, for cause, some well beyond the business of anyone reading this--but because on balance, from where I am sitting, that is the disgusting reality.