How Do We Get Out of the 60s?

Stuck in the 60s. That’s the problem with a lot of our radical left friends. They know something really good did actually come to pass back then, even though there was a lot of chaos. (I’m not speaking of the true revolutionaries, for whom the chaos was part of the good.) There was progress in race relations, particularly in consciousness across the nation and in legislation. There was a popular uprising against a war which was making less and less and less sense, and may have made very little sense to begin with. So, they want to be a part of something that big. The problem is that things have moved on. While some of the problems, such as racism, still exist, because they have always existed, in all parts of the planet, in all ages, they are not the same, and certainly not institutionalized as they were. So, there is progress.

But the desperate-to-be-part-of-it crowd can’t think of the new things to fight: things like actual energy independence (using everything), actual tolerance (the United States of Mind Your Own Business, as opposed to The United States of You Have to Approve of Everything I Do), actual education for creating civilized human beings (as opposed to mere schooling, or worse the propaganda that now occupies too much of our university class space).

So, they take anything that looks or sounds a bit like things from “the good old days” (selectively remembering) and run with it. What’s easier to understand than “cops out of control”, “racist white folks”? Easy to say. Easy to accuse. Easy to find like-minded folks willing to go along with any accusation.

It won’t be easy pulling out of this, but we can and must. It’s fine to think of what did come of the 1960s, but way more productive to think of how good we can make things by the 2060s, if we have real discussions, ask tough questions, insist on real answers, stop name-calling, stop race-baiting, stop confusing revenge with justice.

Like I said, not easy. Dennis Hopper’s character in some movie once told us that “when we get out of the 80s, the 90s are going to make the 60s look like the 50s”. Well, that’s what we wanted. And we didn’t get it. So, here we are, stuck in the 60s some of us, hungry for what we were hoping for in the 90s.
Think. Read. Talk. Discuss. Act. Respect. Love. Help. Prod. Meditate. Ponder. Muse. Consider. Work. Write. Do things. Do things. Do things. Just don’t keep doing the old things that we already see don’t work.

Taxation

The tax code should be more or less scrapped and rewritten from scratch. The sheer volume of the thing leads to a complexity that could be taken as evidence of a complete lack of interest on the part of lawmakers in creating comprehensible law. A lack of interest in creating comprehensible law can only lead to mischief at best and, at worst, leads to laws that simply cannot be obeyed even by citizens of above average intelligence and with the best intentions. Some critics now claim that the current tax code has exactly this nature.

How should the tax be? As flat as possible, with preferential treatment for the raising of children. If entertainment is an expense of doing the business of commerce, then why aren’t good food, good clothes and good education considered legitimate expenses of doing the business of raising a family?

Now, just about the worst turn we could take would be to reframe the discussion of raising children in the language of business. One problem with our society is the tendency to idolize business and try to view everything as some sort of business. There are specialized philosophical discussions in which doing this makes perfect sense, but it is unnecessary and even destructive to carry this practice over into the everyday discussions we should be having about raising our children.

There are certainly times when it makes sense to provide government funding for some development activities, such as when a developing technology seems essential to the nation’s competitiveness or security, but this shouldn’t be handled through the tax system, where provisions are buried so deep that no ordinary citizen could possibly decode what’s going on.   A better system is to insist that everyone and every business pay some reasonable rate of tax. Then, let those who think that they deserve help apply for a loan or a grant, just as any ordinary citizen would have to do. That way, the help is in the public record, clear as a bell, and the votes that approve the help are on record and easy to review.

Fat chance.

The “Third Senator” Amendment

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of three Senators from each state. All Senators shall serve the same term and meet the same requirements for holding the office of Senator. Each Senator shall have one vote.

One Senator from each state shall be selected by a lottery from among the inhabitants of the state who meet all the qualifications for holding the office of Senator.
The first selection of Senators by lottery shall be conducted on the same day for all States. At the first assembly of the Senate following the first selection of Senators pursuant to this Amendment, these Senators shall be divided as equally as possible into three groups and assigned to the existing classes of Senators for purposes of term expiration.

You Don’t Have to Shoot to Kill

It is a lovely fantasy, and certainly a humane one, to think of picking your target with such precision and thinking that you would calmly track to just that region where you won’t make a fatal wound. I have never been in the situation, and hope never to be, but folks who say many things that sound sensible to me suggest that the single priority in a confronting-the-shooter situation is to stop that shooter. Your fine motor skills will be out the window. It will take all the training and practice you have put into it to rely on and you will be fighting an adrenaline rush that none of us can imagine, I gather.

The humane impulse is certainly laudable, but study up and think very seriously about whether you can accomplish that or will just jeopardize yourself by striving for a very difficult goal, as well as jeopardizing everyone around you if you do not succeed and are put out of action yourself.

Which States Allow Write-In Presidential Candidates?

Alabama     AL
Alaska     AK
American Samoa     AS
Arizona     AZ
Arkansas     AR
California     CA
Colorado     CO
Connecticut     CT
Delaware     DE
District of Columbia    DC
Florida     FL
Georgia     GA
Hawaii     HI
Idaho     ID
Illinois     IL
Indiana     IN
Iowa     IA
Kansas     KS
Kentucky     KY
Louisiana     LA
Maine     ME
Maryland     MD
Massachusetts     MA
Michigan     MI
Micronesia     FM
Minnesota     MN
Mississippi     MS
Missouri     MO
Montana     MT
Nebraska     NE
Nevada     NV
New Hampshire     NH
New Jersey     NJ
New Mexico     NM
New York     NY
North Carolina     NC
North Dakota     ND
Ohio     OH
Oklahoma     OK
Oregon     OR
Pennsylvania     PA
Rhode Island     RI
South Carolina     SC
South Dakota     SD
Tennessee     TN
Texas     TX
Utah     UT
Vermont     VT
Virginia     VA
Washington     WA
West Virginia     WV
Wisconsin     WI
Wyoming     WY

Action Items

  • Insure that missile shield is back in Europe (Poland?, Czech Republic?). “Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama was careful to portray his decision as a revamping, not an abandonment, of European missile defense. He said he would replace the long-range system Bush envisioned — which had a spotty testing record — with a more reliable defense system aimed at countering what Obama called a more imminent threat from Iran’s short-range missiles, which can travel up to 5,000 miles and potentially strike continental Europe.” Obama scraps Bush millile-defense plan
  • Coordinate with other nations: Securing Nuclear Material
  • Open the discussion on a long-term solution for abortion legislation to establish three phases: Discretionary, Under Medical Advisement, Under Medical Order.
  • Dial back all “too big to fail” supports.
  • Host presentations on Anthropogenic Global Warming, to make presentations of proponents and opponents available without sensationalism.

 

 

Mexico and Jihadis, Pipeline and Payload

Unless we become a nation united, we will argue ourselves literally into oblivion.

 I am always surprised when my friends are surprised when I link together the chaos churning along the U.S.-Mexico border and the unrelenting Islamist pursuit of the destruction of the United States of America.To start with, even if Mexico were falling apart all on its own, the situation would be bad enough. Our southern border is completely out of control. Muslim men have been captured crossing among other illegals. One is too many, but the numbers, widely unreported, perhaps unknown, are probably more like hundreds per month.

It is a safe bet, though, that Mexico is not coming to such a violent state all on its own. Think for a moment about the increased incidence of beheading. To cut a long story short, you only have to think for a moment to realize that this signature technique of Islamists is on the rise and not by coincidence.

Think how much is gained for jihadis, by joining in the fray south of the border, in fact by ramping up the fray as much as possible. Continue reading →

What About Anthropogenic Global Warming?

My sister sent me a simple question: Global Warming – What do you think?

What I think is that there seems plenty of data to indicate slight warming trend, which may continue. There is also data to show that the Earth has been significantly warmer and colder in the past, long before humans existed.

What I don’t buy is that we know whether humans play a primary, moderate or even significant role in that trend. We don’t know either way, I would say. Of course the recently disclosed emails don’t help the proponents’ case, although some of the statement are less damaging than the opponents want to make them out to be.

I have had the impression for some time that the current passionate advocacy (I might even say frenzy) is more akin to religious fervor than scientific discussion. Have you ever heard anyone snap back, “The debate is over!” when the discussion was truly based in mutual respect and devotion to find the truth?

Part of the problem is that no one who advocates controls based on the assumption that global warming is serious and human-induced can accept anything less than 100% devotion to their view. You can’t, for instance, make much headway saying something like, “Well, I don’t think that the draconian measures you have in mind are necessary or merited, given the thin support available, but of course having cleaner air and water and using less energy are obviously desirable for their own sake, so we certainly should continue to innovate and motivate to achieve all of those goals. You just can’t commandeer the world’s entire economy, bring it to its knees, and install your own dictators (call them whatever you like) to decide who gets to use what when or how much and so on and so on.”

In a typical gathering of the acolytes of this new religion, you wouldn’t be able to get past the second comma in the first sentence. In hardcore gathering you wouldn’t get as far as the first comma.

In the first Star Trek movie, the silicon “life form” (maybe) V’GER takes over Lt. Ilia and through her talks about the “carbon based infestation of Enterprise.” Global Warming Fundamentalists have a similar view, sort of like modern day Puritans. We (humans) are the infestation. And accordingly, anything we do that makes life more enjoyable or easier must somehow be too energy-intensive and therefore wrong, and we must be stopped. We simply cannot be allowed to consume or emit anything beyond some meager amount that guess-who will decide.

It’s a mess. Like so many of our discussion these days. They aren’t discussions. They are sermons, delivered to opposing choirs (yes, the exact opposite claim – that it’s not serious and even if it is it has nothing to do with humans – is just as much a faith-based outcry), and with the loudest preachers taking control one after the other and yanking the rest of us around.

I guess I think that the Global Warming hysteria (yeah, that’s what I’d call it) is part and parcel of having raised a population for generation without the desire or ability to ask a good question, or if asking, without the desire or ability to listen respectfully to the answer and consider whether or not something useful was communicated, and if not to ask another question until both parties seem to understand each other. And then to ask a few more to see if the seeming understanding leads to anything productive. But you have to have that intent to begin with.

To correct the old boy from Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is not a failure to communicate. What we have here is a failure to intend to communicate. What we have here is a desire to control everyone who doesn’t agree with us, or at the very least have them dismissed as stupid.”

Scary.

Part of what’s scary is that we shouldn’t be surprised by this. History is full of examples. It is the rule, not the exception. And yet we continue to allow it take the reins again and again. What have we been teaching our children for 50 years that they should grow up behave like this?

All we can hope for is that those who know (that hunger for power is insatiable in those who give in to it) do not give up resisting the tide.

Hang in there.

What About Socialism?

In the middle of campaign debate season, for the 100th, or maybe 200th time, I saw that graphic which ask us which part of socialism is it that scares us so much?

Is it Public schools? Is it Fire Departments? Is it Medicare? Is it Social Security?

Admittedly tired of seeing this utterly uninformed attempt to sell something as wonderful which has been shown historically to fail, time and time again, I could not bring myself to say more than this: “Here’s a fun fact. We already have those things, and we are not a socialist state, and those are not socialist activities. Under socialism, the state owns the means of production. You are confusing delivering social services, which we do in abundance, with being socialist, which we should never be.”

Well, didn’t take long before I was chastised for my lack of understanding, not for the first time. My shortcoming was addressed in a short, clear sentence, which in itself is a good and admirable way to accomplish things. “I think you have to read up again ……. what socialism is.”

Well, I have read up on what socialism is, perhaps more than once. It was exceedingly easy to find a number of ways of stating it:

Would Merriam-Webster do? “\Full Definition of socialism: 1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods”

Is the Oxford English Dictionary acceptable? “Definition of socialism in English:
noun: 1A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

Will American Heritage Dictionary do? “socialism: noun, Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

“The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which the means of production are collectively owned but a completely classless society has not yet been achieved.”

Finally, I wondered if Wikipedia would be sufficient? “Socialism is a range of social and economic systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production; as well as the political ideologies, theories, and movements that aim at their establishment.”

There seems to be a constant press for socialism, from an appreciable, certainly a noticeably large, segment of our population, who do not seem to understand what it is that they are actually pressing for. It is one of the strangest phenomena going these days, to my way of thinking. Decades of scholarship be damned, the proponents are damned proud to push for the thing and insist that it is not what it has been clearly defined to be for decades. It certainly had exactly these meanings fifty years ago already, and the books describing it were already decades old.

Is it just because some folks cannot distinguish between capitalism ( a way of organizing ownership) and greed (a malignant impulse to acquire more than you can possibly need, regardless of how or from whom)? Is it that inability to distinguish that produces such an odd result, which is that they cannot simply say, “We would like to police things better so that capitalism can work free from the corruption and crony influences that infect it too often.” Can they just not allow such a thought to escape through their own mouths? Is it because that would mean admitting that capitalism, properly administered and policed, could be a good thing? Maybe a thing that creates, you know, cars, stereos, CDs, movies, iPhones, fantastic variety at the grocery store, in abundance, you know, stuff like that.

Well, if that’s the reason, that these champions of “socialism” (but not really) cannot allow a statement such as “capitalism could be a good thing”, they need not feel alone. Even so-called champions of capitalism cannot seem to mount a clear defense of it these days, or draw the boundaries with any clarity. If you cannot draw boundaries well, then you it is difficult to point and say, “There, that’s capitalism. That’s the system we’ll use. Over there, that’s the law, and we’ll use that to police capitalism and try to push greed out of our dealings. And there, over there, that’s the human heart, from which we will do our best to inspire everyone around us to banish greed and work honestly for decent ends.”

If there is someone saying any such thing among the most vocal champions of capitalism right now, I haven’t seen it lately. Somebody just point me to him or her. Meanwhile, I suppose we can expect a stream of continued rapture over the joys of socialism, notwithstanding the enraptured are actually enjoying the fruits of capitalism (which they apparently hate, largely through ignorance), coupled with the use of some of the wealth it generates to accomplish socially desirable ends.

It will end better for everyone if we could just fold into our public discourse that little element of seriousness that would lead us to have some clue what we’re talking about before advocating for it. Unlikely, I know, but you have to have a dream.

What About “Obamacare”?

I am a bit surprised that, amid all the clamor over how everyone is going to “repeal Obamacare on day one,” we have not heard Dr. Carson say “First, do no harm.”

I have no doubt that Obamacare can and must go away. It was born in the Senate, and with assertions that it was not a tax, and later defended at the Supreme Court, on the grounds that it was in fact a tax, which means it was illegally begun in the Senate to start with. Also, we know that nobody who suported the thing read it, and that Ms. Pelosi even felt comfortable telling us that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it”. If that isn’t the craziest thing anybody in Washington has ever said, I would love to know what is.

All of that aside, it is important to remember that you can cause just as bad a wreck by stomping on the brake as by flooring the accelerator.

Study it? Yes. Make plans to eliminate the egregious provisions? Yes. Get rid of the restrictions on selling insurance across state boundaries? They have nothing to do with Obamacare, but they should never have been put in place to begin with, and their presence almost certainly helped to cripple the development of a robust and competitive market based on nation-sized markets.

Design something better? Yes. Rely on markets and competition? Hell yes! Police the living daylights out of pricing practices to make sure that we guard against fraud, waste and abuse? Could we, please, finally? Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

See what’s left to cover and provide basic help for the indigent? Absolutely, and more if possible. We do present ourselves as a civilized nation, after all. That doesn’t mean that you can give everybody everything, but I’ve never known the American people to show any interest leaving someone in genuine need with no help at all.

It will take a bit of study and some leadership to present the case for what can and can’t be done, and how best to do it, but isn’t that the real job? Well, if it is, then let’s try doing that for a change – the real job.