But Now You Know

The search for truth in human action

The Truth about Income Inequality


There has been a lot of hoopla, lately, about the gap between rich and poor, how it’s growing, and how we need to give government more power to get rid of that income disparity. It’s actually been shrinking for the past four years, but it’s still larger in the US than most countries.

Some people say that it’s proof capitalism doesn’t work and needs to be banned, or at least that we need more income redistribution. Otherwise, the masses may revolt, like they’re doing in Greece and eventually take everything, therefore the ruling class have to choose between being violently overthrown, or surrendering their wealth.

But this all begs the question of why we’re talking about income inequality in the first place. The real question is whether we should be talking about differences between people, or overall quality of life for everyone.

Should We Care about the Wealth Gap?

Bolivia, Haiti, and Congo have very low income gaps, but equally low standards of living.

Which would be better:

  1. A society where the wealthiest earn a certain amount per year, and others earn about 50% that much.
  2. A society where the wealthiest earn a certain amount per year, and others earn only 5% of that much.

If you answered either way, you’ve blown a test of basic logic; You have no way of knowing which is better, unless you know how well the poor are doing in real-world terms.

For example, let’s say you answered that (1) is better, where the wealthy earn only twice as much as the poor, instead of twenty times as much.

But it turns out that, in the two examples:

  1. The wealthiest earn $20,000 per year, and the others $10,000
  2. The wealthiest earn $1,000,000 per year, and others earn $50,000

Would you REALLY prefer that the poor only get $10,000 per year, instead of $50,000 (in dollars with the same buying power), just because the income gap is smaller?

Not if you have any real-world experience. I’m sure a few kids who’ve never had to live on their own, or guilt-ridden trust fund brats convinced that everyone being poor is better than some being really rich, but the rest of us know better.

And when people talk about The Gap Between the Rich and Poor in the US, claiming income disparity is a horrible thing that needs to be fixed, this is exactly the kind of foolish, self-destructive position they’re taking.

Socialism vs Capitalism

Who, but guilt-ridden trust fund brats, seriously would prefer for the poor to live with less, just so the rich would have FAR less?

In fact, as the above examples show, what matters can’t be the “gap”, but the actual quality of life of people in the society.

Take Communist China, for example:

  1. When China was much more socialist, redistributing wealth and regulating the economy with  “social justice” the way the “income inequality” people want things to be, most people in the country were miserably poor…but equally so. They struggled just to subsist, living on dirt floors, literally millions dying from lack of resources that should have been readily available…but there was almost no wealth gap, at all.
  2. When the government realized that socialism doesn’t work, and began deregulating the economy, the gap between rich and poor exploded. It’s now hundreds, maybe thousands of times “worse” than it was…but almost everyone in China the less-regulated parts of China is better off than they were, although some are now MUCH poorer than the wealthiest.

The decline of socialism has led to a better life for many of the poor, and an increasing wealth gap, purely because some of the poor, themselves, are becoming much wealthier.

It is not income disparity that matters, but actual standards of living.

Far fewer people in China are now dying of hunger. Many of those who lived in huts with dirt floors and delivered their babies standing up in the kitchen now have modern homes and medical care…because of the very mechanisms that are making income disparity greater.

What we really need to be concerned with is quality of life, not exploiting jealousy and greed by focusing on “inequality”.

Rising Living Standards

When people claim that something forceful needs to be done about people they describe as poor, they make it sound like those people are victims of capitalism, now reduced to poverty.

The more we have, the more we want…we shouldn’t let that translate into jealousy and greed against those who have more

For example, think of people who complain that, thanks to the Roaring Twenties, one third of all Americans at the time had no electricity, indoor plumbing, access to automobiles, et cetera…but, of course, a decade earlier even fewer people had electricity, indoor plumbing, or automobiles.

In fact,  just a few years earlier dirt floors were normal in the US, just like China. The very idea of what isill-clothed, ill-housed, and ill-fed” had shot up in standard purely a as result of the “unfettered capitalism” of the 1920s.

If not for that period of economic freedom, dirt floors and cheap, crappy clothing, and malnutrition would have still been considered normal and adequate.

Likewise, you can find people talking about protests over living standards in China, now, where they focus about the slums around the big cities, how people don’t have gas heat, live in cramped conditions, et cetera.

But, of course, just a few years ago, most of those people were peasants living in dirt-floored huts, eking out miserable lives wading in rice paddies, barely growing enough to feed themselves after the government confiscated most of their product of labor, and living on barter.

They moved to those slums because, as in Industrial Age America’s “sweat shops” it’s an improvement over what they had before. If China continues to deregulate, their living standards will continue to get better, even as their idea of how they should live increases faster, making them complain more.

One of the greatest political scientists in history, Joseph Schumpeter (with a name like Schumpeter, he had to be good) actually thought that the doom of Capitalism might simply be that it caused things to get so good that people’s idea of what they deserved would outpace how much better things were actually getting, so that they would always turn to massive government intervention to “fix” it, causing the economy to fail.

This is what happened with Herbert Hoover’s massive spending increases and regulation causing the Great Depression, and is happening now.

Some Wealthy Did NOT Earn their Money, and Need to Lose It!

But it’s true that things are unfair, today. There are many people who do not deserve the wealth they have. They did not earn it themselves, but used bailouts, “stimulus”, corporate welfare, and other coercion to steal money confiscated from others. Their corruption and inefficiency has been preserved, like a limb with gangrene, and is killing the body of the economy…like a limb with gangrene. And that needs to end, yet both dominant political parties are actually defending and increasing this economic injustice.

Instead of obsessing with the jealousy and greed of class hate, comparing who has what and trying to take away from those who produce more, we need to increase the very conditions that cause “income inequality”, to allow the poor to increase their own well-being, even if the rich increase theirs even faster…but stop actively rewarding the wealthy through government fiat, when they haven’t earned it.

We should let bad companies and people fail, therefore increasing social justice, if not income equality.

BONUS FEATURE:

Here is the original article from the Site of the Sentient, written in 1996: Income Disparity: The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Economy, International, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why We Conservatives Should Watch Al Jazeera


I am a classic Reagan/Goldwater Conservative. I am careful to keep myself informed on every important socio-political issue, because I’m responsible that way. I find that almost has to include watching/reading Al Jazeera, and I challenge you to do the same…and this article will let you know why you want to.

Let’s start with this:

I’m about as strong an advocate of the free market as you can get. So why do I watch CCTV, Communist China’s truly evil state news network? It’s more chock-full of  tyrannical socialist propaganda than two Obama press secretaries times NPR cubed.

But I want to be certain I understand it and am opposing it from an informed position. Know Your Enemy, as they say.

If some gullibly loyal Chinese prole criticized American freedom, you’d demand that they at least take the time to understand it, or else they’re really a hypocrite and a fraud.

  • Hypocrite because they are (presumably) wanting to tell you why their system is better, but aren’t bothering to understand ours.
  • Fraud, because if they don’t bother to learn the internal arguments and claims, they can’t really know for certain what they’re talking about.

In case it’s not obvious, this applies to us, as well. I know far more about exactly how evil and wrong the Communist Chinese government is, exactly what kind of lies it tells, et cetera, from watching CCTV. I even know of things that I assumed were one way, but after seeing (and distrusting) CCTV, I’ve done research on my own and found out they really are another way. Without watching their network, I wouldn’t have even known what to find out.

I did the same thing with AllAfrica.com, and learned that sub-Saharan Africa is far different, and worse, than I actually thought. I can now see the sparse information I get, now, from the mainstream media on that region in an entirely different light. Almost every government in that area is a joke. They usually don’t even have market economies in the sense socialist Europe does, but something even closer to Marxism. Almost all of the poverty of the region comes from the intrusiveness and corruption of their governments, in ways more ridiculous than you’re imagining. “Banana Republic” doesn’t convey it to you adequately.

I’ll take some time to write about it, another day.

Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya

Israeli Colonel Ben Gruber explains the IDF position to Al Jazeera, attacking the UN's condemnation of Israel

So, naturally, I started reading Al Arabiya and watching Al Jazeera, with the intention of learning about the spin that Doha and Dubai put on news, to see exactly how people were being fooled with lies about American mass murder and plots to destroy Muslims, find out if they were teaching potentially good people that Jews are red-eyed, baby-eating demons, learn whether they were cheering terrorists, explaining the values of Al Qaeda screeds, et cetera.

And that’s sufficient reason to watch it. In fact, it’s a region whose attitudes and perspective is even more important to understand in America than China and Africa.

What I found, though, astonished me to the almost to the point of confusion:

Unlike CCTV’s lies, or AllAfrica’s unintentional revelation of government’s destruction of sub-Saharan Africa, Al Jazeera was packed with actual, solid information and reporting, presented with slightly more objectivity than American mainstream news (though that isn’t saying much).

I’m not exaggerating.

For example, Al Jazeera frequently covers Israel-Palestinian incidents from the Israeli perspective, as well as other ways. They show commentary by Israeli government officials I barely knew existed, Israeli and Jewish people you’ll not otherwise hear from, Israeli issues you never hear about, et cetera. Not only does the American Liberal media drop the ball on this, but so does the Neocon media like Fox News, and radio talk show hosts.

I actually have a better, and more sympathetic, understanding of Israeli perspective on events, thanks to Al Jazeera.

In fact, does a better job of revealing the flaws of every one of the Arab/Islamic states (that I expected it to sell to me as virtuous) than American or other foreign media.

The same is true of Al Jazeera’s coverage of other regions. I watched NHK (Japanese News) for a while, but Al Jazeera’s coverage of Japan is actually better, more objective.

Yohsihiko Noda, Japan's 6th Prime Minister in 5 years...I know about this, and why, not because of American, or even Japanese news, but thanks to Al Jazeera

No other network — and I watch news from all over the world — covered the Egyptian and Libyan revolutions from both perspectives, government and protester, as objectively and calmly as Al Jazeera. The second best was the BBC, but it paled by comparison.

More importantly, Al Jazeera cover the protests in Bahrain and Yemen, and the brutal crackdowns by the Saudi government that rules over them, with the same clarity and detail as Syria (and covers Syria better than anyone else)…and yet you, probably, had no idea that the “Arab League” member states were ignoring vicious crackdowns in their membership just as bad as there.

And, of course, they also cover Arab perspectives. If you depend on Mainstream Media, including Fox and neocon talk shows, you have no idea what the actual Arab or Muslim perspectives are. They simply don’t present such things, at all. They don’t even really pretend to.

You, especially if you’re a Conservative or another ideology that values self-responsibility, need to have a source of perspective outside of the two party-Establishment media cliques here in the US.

Of the options, Al Jazeera is the time-saver; more objective, detailed, and wide-ranging than even the BBC. Watch them for the information, or if you’re determined to believe they’re evil, the way I still think of CCTV, then at least watch them to Know Your Enemy.

But DO NOT trust them…because you should not trust any external source. Always verify things for yourself. But if you don’t have a source like Al Jazeera, you don’t even know much of what you could be checking out.

Where do you find Al Jazeera? PBS has it, but if you have a distaste for networks coercively funded by your tax dollars, a far better alternative is the cable network Link TV. They not only broadcast the full Al Jazeera half hour in English, but better still; they have a show they put together themselves, called Mosaic, that includes news broadcast from many foreign sources, including Al Jazeera, and Israel’s own nationalized television news (never forget that Israel’s government, including Likud, is socialist), IBA.

23 minutes a day, watching (or listening to, while doing other things) Al Jazeera or Mosaic, will double your ability to defend and advocate your own foreign policy beliefs, as well as making them better informed…because none of us has perfect knowledge, already.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | International, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Government Workers Who Strike, Violate the Public Trust


Anyone who is granted a monopoly on an essential public service, then tries to hold it hostage for money, is betraying the whole of society

People who complain that government unions colluding with government officials for extravagant pay are “bargaining with themselves” are missing the whole point about collective bargaining:

When the government says something you need is so important that it claims a monopoly over providing it, then that government has an obligation to deliver that thing as promised, as long as you keep up your end, like paying your taxes. It can’t let its bureaucrats withhold what you need, for their own gain.

Bribery is Corruption

If the drone at the driver’s license bureau refuses to help you unless you slip him a fiver, or the mailman “can’t guarantee everything will arrive safely”, unless you “tip” him, we all recognize that as bribery, intolerable in a government official. They are entrusted with what we consider “public good”, and must deliver on it, because it’s considered essential, and has been made into a government monopoly. Withholding that trusted thing in demand for personal gain is intolerable corruption.

It’s OK to have to tip your waitress for better service, but not your fireman.

And we, for most of history, recognized in America how important this distinction is, unlike the rest of the world. We weren’t, say, India:

In India, if you want your driver’s license, you automatically bribe the bureaucrat who is supposed to give it to you. Same if you want electricity, or health care. In fact, you have to bribe hundreds of government officials per year, in order to simply function normally. You need to already have enough money to pay off public thugs, in order to be allowed to prosper. This is part of why hundreds of millions of poor have remained trapped in a caste system, while most of the world has outgrown theirs.

It’s not that regular people shouldn’t be able to trade money for service, it’s that government officials must never withhold service in order to get money.

Democrats against Collective Bargaining

This is why, for so many years when the rabidly pro-union Democrats dominated the Federal and state governments, government employees and civil servants were banned, by those Democrats, from collective bargaining and strikes. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed that a union is a monopoly, over both the workers and employer, that strikes withhold services from legitimately customers, arbitrarily, in order to extort more money out of them — and when the customers are taxpayers, and the services essential, everyone recognized that this is wrong:

The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service…A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government.

—  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Federation of Federal Employees against Strikes in Federal Service

If someone wants the right to refuse you services, your right to take your tax money and pay for a private alternative must be protected

It wasn’t until 1959 that, for the first time ever, a state government in the US — Wisconsin — allowed its bureaucrats to form monopoly unions that could cut off taxpayers from their paid-up, legitimate services. Unfortunately, other states began to follow suit. Soon, as we might fear, government employees began to threaten to withhold services from us, even though we’d paid our taxes, unless they got special money and favors.

In order to not be bankrupted immediately, the government officials who had caused this mess by allowing the unions were forced to impose taxes on the taxpayers’ grandchildren, by promising to pay extravagant retirement benefits to the monopolists later, when the extortionists retired.  This is, of course, taxation without representation; the main people who’d be super-taxed to pay for the bribes in twenty to forty years were often not yet born, much less of voting age.

Those public sector bureaucrats held the people of Wisconsin hostage, for their own gain, and the payoff was insanely cushy, gold-lined pensions.

Well, now the ransom is coming due.

Protecting Americans from Extortion

Appropriately, the first to reach this crisis was the state that started the problem, Wisconsin. And, for once, they did the right thing:

Scott Walker reversed the previous trend and restored the taxpayer’s right to not be extorted by government bureaucrats.

Anyone who doubts that this is a good thing needs to look to Britain, where civil “servants” recently tried to extort money from the taxpayers, by cutting off essential services. They bragged about their goal of holding up travelers and bankrupting parents by forcing them to stay home with kids while the schools shut down. They admit that they’re already being paid far more than the private sector, and are striking simply because they’re being asked to pay a few percentage points of their fat pensions.

Tens of thousands of emergency calls were ignored, except for those deemed “life threatening”, and thousands of surgeries were postponed, leaving people to suffer longer. Millions were trapped in their homes by lack of bus and rail service. Over ten thousand schools were shut down, putting millions of parents in a bind, however happy it made their kids.

All because the government employees entrusted with providing these services, violated the public trust.

We don’t need that kind of ganster-like corruption, here in the US.

Of course we could also have a discussion about how this proves the government can’t be trusted to meddle in health care, mass transit, and education…but at the very least, when it usurps those vital needs, it must then provide them, no matter what.

This is why “collective bargaining” can’t be tolerated, when public good is at stake.

December 5, 2011 Posted by | Economy, International, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Are the Muslim Brotherhood Actually Bad for Egypt?


Muslim Brotherhood kicks puppies and eats babies, but they don't have a man-sized safe in their office

Neocons and other violent interventionists keep talking about how bad it would be if the Egyptian people were to gain their freedom, because there is popular support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and if they were part of the government that would, obviously, be a really bad thing…even worse than a dictator like Mubarak who outlaws many religious beliefs and slaughters people for their political ideology.

But wait…it’s not “obvious” that this organization, the Society of Muslim Brothers, is any worse than the Christian Coalition in the US. And America doesn’t deserve a dictator just to keep the Christian Coalition out of political power. What’s more, it seems the Muslim Brotherhood is usually more akin to the Salvation Army, except they’re Muslim instead of Christian. Let’s look deeper, and see which interpretation is true.

Who Are They?

What is this group, so ominously touted by the neocon supporters of Hosni Mubarak?

Just like the Christian Coalition, it is a voluntary social and political movement, organized around the idea that followers of their religion should choose to live by the tenets of that religion.

People who think that a religion’s members should live by their beliefs? If anything, that seems like a truism, to me. A “well, no duh” sort of thing.

Also like the Christian Coalition, some of its members, sometimes, want laws passed that happen to support their morality. I don’t like that in either case, but I will fight against anyone who wants to imposing a dictator over people who would vote for such laws. Hopefully, you will too, since the Christian Coalition voters are American.

And let’s be real, it’s not always bad if religious beliefs become law: the Ten Commandments that both Muslims and Christians accept include prohibition of murder and theft. Do I want murder legal because a religion wants them banned?

Of course not.

Everyone Agrees

Before we get into the claims against the Muslim Brotherhood, let’s mention the part that is not denied by anyone:

What everyone agrees about, regarding the Muslim Brotherhood, is that they mostly do community service, charitable efforts, and other good works. I think even the worst neocon would admit this, if you pinned him down on the subject. There are probably hundreds of thousands of people, of diverse cultures and races, who are alive right now solely because of the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood. Again, this is not even disputed.

But what about their Dark Side?

Al Qaeda and the Taliban are charitable, but they still seem evil overall. If the Muslim Brotherhood is like that, I’ll oppose them.

The "Be Prepared" Emblem of Death, replete with the infamous Green Stars of Evil

The Accusations

Many Conservatives and Liberals in the media seem perplexed by the claim that Egypt should remain a dictatorship, but whenever they have a neocon on, or that Israeli ambassador,  or some “former CIA officer”, they’re told that it’s because of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is accused of three general things:

Be Prepared

Glenn Beck was shouting, the other day, about how the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto on their website is “Be Prepared”.

Well, yes, I’m not sure you could be more obviously, patently evil than to have the motto Be Prepared. To the right, you can see a variation of this logo. It is for another religious organization, that requires its members to take an oath of obedience to their god much like the Muslim Brotherhood does. Worse, the bearers of that symbol are, unlike the Society of Muslim Brothers, actually members of an openly paramilitary organization.

Surely such symbols should be banned, along with target and sniper scope graphics.

Of course the Boy Scouts will probably object.

To be fair, the thing the Society of Muslim Brothers emphasize that Egyptians to be prepared for, right now, is war with Israel.

Beck seemed to infer that this means they’re planning to attack Israel…which makes me worry about his reading comprehension, because the quotes he read off their own website to “prove” this clearly were saying that the government of Israel might attack Egypt for overthrowing the dictator they’d helped keep in power for 30 years. What they say is that the Mubarak government can be brought down by cutting off the gas pipeline to Israel, which will bankrupt Mubarak’s dictatorship…but that this will cause war with Israel. In other words, Israel will attack, because they want the gas and, the Muslim Brotherhood believes, will even cause the death and destruction of war to get it.

I don’t blame any of Israel’s neighbors for fearing that it will go to war with them. It’s done so before. The people of Israel, themselves, fear this of their own government. The recent threat had been an unprovoked attack against Iran, but now Egypt is the popular target. I join with the people of Israel and the Society of Muslim Brothers in opposing any violent aggression on the part of Israel against any other country.

To be fair, I and most Israelis, Jews, Egyptians, Muslims, Coptic Christians, Protestants, Catholics, atheists, and every other non-sociopath, oppose all initiation of aggression, by any country or person against any other. We’re opposed by the neocons and other self-described Marxists, but that’s another debate.

While we’re at it, Beck keeps mentioning Islamic Socialism, a bizarre fringe movement that goes against the basic belief of Islamic fundamentalism that socialism is evil. As it happens, the Muslim Brotherhood is on the “socialism is evil” side. They believe in voluntary charity, not coercive socialist government like Mubarak and Saddam Hussein imposed.

Sinead O'Conner crazily associating all Catholics with the IRA terrorists

They’re Muslims

Then there’s the claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is evil because its members believe in…well…Islam. If you’re one of the poor rubes who’s fallen for the “Islam is a religion of evil” scam, I don’t think there’s much that will convince you otherwise.

The Koran saying something like “kill any unbeliever who supports tyranny over innocents or Muslims” gets quoted out of context as “kill any unbeliever”, but that contextual lie has been pointed out plenty of times by now, you should have been capable of learning, and responsible enough to do so.

The few craziest, most old-fashioned Muslim rules are no worse than the crazier Jewish or Christian rules. Should we all sacrifice doves when our babies are born? Stone women who have sex out of wedlock? Burn witches? Those aren’t just Islamic rules, they’re old Christian and Jewish rules, too. And the vast majority of  followers of all three religions have outgrown such nonsense.

Likewise, like how everyone who’s murdered an abortion doctor is Christian, but it does not mean Christianity is murderous, so it is with Muslims who kill people in the name of their religion. The Catholic terrorists murdering random Protestants because of their religion in Ireland don’t prove anything about their religion, and neither do Islamic terrorists.

But, even more fundamentally than this, it’s hypocritical for anyone to claim that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to govern themselves because of their religion, when so many in the socialist world hate Christianity the same way, and think that Americans, who are majority Christian, are similarly unable to govern themselves. Should we have tyranny imposed on us, to keep Christian mores from becoming law? Again I say “no”, and I’m not hypocritical enough to turn around and deny another country or religion the same right.

It’s also worth noting that the Muslim Brotherhood is Sunni, while the Islamic Revolution in Iran is Shi’ite. That’s important because these two groups are oppose each other completely. It’s not like Protestant vs Catholic…they literally see each other as Satanists. There’s never going to be any real collaboration between the Muslim Brotherhood and the current Iranian government. They’re more likely to help overthrow the Iranian tyranny, too.

And they’re also the most spiritual, historically least violent form of Sunni Islam, they are Sufi. To quote a previous article here:

Pretty much all of the terrorist organizations in the world that are focused on the United States are Wahhabi, funded and trained by our allies in Saudi Arabia, and often closely coordinated with our allies in the Pakistani military.

Wahhabism is a crackpot fundamentalist version of Sunni Islam. Think of Sunni as being like Protestantism, a relatively liberal branch of the religion overall, and Wahhabism as being like the Protestants who dance with snakes and talk in tongues.

Meanwhile, most of the rest of the terrorist organizations in the world that are Islamic at all are Shi’ite. This is the second of the three branches of Islam, and the most basic one, with an older lineage than Sunni Islam. Think of that as being somewhat like Catholicism…most Shi’ites are peaceful, but you have the crazies, like the Irish Republican Army is for Catholicism. You can’t really blame the rest for those nutjobs in the IRA targeting other peoples and religions.

And then you have the Sufi. These are a bit like the Mormons are to Christianity. They’re a “third way” sort of group, very peaceful and focused a lot on mysticism and spirituality, not the practical mechanics of the Big Two. No terrorist organizations, in the whole world, are Sufi. Some Muslims say they’re so different that the Sufi aren’t even Muslims, at all.

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood are in a struggle against the violent, hateful Wahhabi movement, as well as considering themselves the polar opposite of Shia. In fact, the “Jihadi” movement of Al Qaeda and their ilk are excluded from the Egyptian uprising, perhaps because the Muslim Brotherhood are a part of it.

They’re Out to Get You!!!

So that just leaves crazy conspiracy theories: The Muslim Brotherhood secretly wants to bring about apocalypse, supports assassination of people they think are evil, et cetera.

I’ve seen more credible evidence of the fundamentalist Christians supporting those exact same things. In fact, I have personally known wealthy, powerful Christians in the US who are part of the Christian Eschatologist movement, and literally believe that they should try to bring about Armageddon, to hurry Jesus’ return, by supporting evil, oppressive government.

But in both Christian and Muslim cases, I assume that there are fringe elements who are like that, but that I can’t assume the whole group does, since it disavows them adamantly.

The 15 Principles of Egyptian and American Founding Fathers

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood is so against those things that it has “15 Principles of Agreement” that it wants to institute in Egypt, that you would support, too.

The only disagreement the Founding Fathers of America would have with the Muslim Brotherhood’s 15 Principles is that Thomas Jefferson and friends opposed a standing army and standing police force. Is anyone seriously going to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for implicitly endorsing those two forces, but requiring them to stay out of politics?

The 15 principles could have been written by the Founding Fathers...but they might have pared it down to 10

Here are the 15 principles the Muslim Brotherhood says it wants for Egypt, each one summed up:

  1. Nobody may govern except at the consent of the people
  2. Free and fair elections
  3. Freedom of personal and religious conviction
  4. Freedom of establishing religious rites.
  5. Freedom of expression and the press
  6. The right to form and exercise political parties
  7. The freedom of assembly, as long as there’s no violence
  8. The right to hold peaceful demonstrations
  9. The right to a regularly elected, representative government
  10. The right of every man and woman to vote
  11. The right of every citizen to run for election and hold office
  12. The right to a truly independent judiciary, no special courts except for legitimate internal military affairs
  13. Prosecutors, public defenders, and criminal investigators must be three independent groups, from each other and the Minister of Justice, and anyone accused should have the right to appeal.
  14. The military must stay out of politics, only defending the nation’s external security.
  15. The police must only protect society, and is banned from interfering in politics or with political opposition

Please take a moment to read the full text of the 15 Principles of Agreement of the Muslim Brotherhood.

I wish our own government seemed to believe in these 15 principles.

Let’s make every elected or appointed official in the United States include them in his oath of office. And every government bureaucrat, while we’re at it.

If even a large segment of the Muslim Brotherhood believe at least somewhat in the 15 Principles of Agreement, then they’re probably no worse than our own government. And I see no evidence that they’re any worse. Individuals in that movement, yes…same as every other movement. But not the overall social organization.

Should we, in America, continue our government’s habit of supporting dictators in our name, like Mubarak, just in case the Muslim Brotherhood might be popular there?

Not even if they’d turned out to be “bad”.

It was ironic that I saw the former Israeli ambassador to the UN, the other day, quote Mubarak as paraphrasing Douglas Casey, that American foreign aid is “a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries“. He seems to have been mockingly referring to his own receipt of sixty billion dollars, from US taxpayers, over the past few decades.

This needs to stop.

February 6, 2011 Posted by | International, Philosophy, Politics, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Is the Fed Wagging the Dog?


Why is the Fed causing deflationary hording, then "fixing" it with inflationary money?

In 2008, banks stopped lending as much money, helping drag the economy down.

They started holding it in extra reserves, instead.

This caused deflationary pressure the Federal Reserve has been “protecting” us from ever since.

We’re so lucky we have the Fed.

But why did the banks start holding excess reserves instead of lending? Were they simply scared of the economic conditions?

No, they are being PAID to do it, by the Federal Reserve.

That’s right…the Federal Reserve that is “saving” us from the banks’ refusal to lend, is paying the banks to do it.

How the Banks Work

See, banks usually take the money you deposit, and invest it. They make business loans, home loans, buy securities, and so on.

The profit they make doing that pays for the banking services they “give” you “free”.

In a sense, they are acting like a mutual fund for you…investing your money and paying you “interest” in the way of free banking.

But they don’t invest all of your money. The Federal Reserve requires them to hold back a bit “in reserve”. This is to ensure that they have money in case people want to withdraw it.

The Fed makes banks hold 10% of your checking account (and everyone else’s) in their Reserve.

The other 90%, the bank invests, driving the economy through business loans, buying securities, et cetera.

Or it did.

The Fed Wags the Dog

Up to 2008, EXCESS reserves were usually at 0. When the Fed started paying banks to hold them, this excess shot through the roof

But in 2008, the Federal Reserve started paying banks interest for anything they held in reserve.

Immediately, banks started holding EXTRA money in reserve. This is called “excess reserves”, and it had never happened in any large amount before.

Strangely, the Fed’s response to the banks doing what it is now paying them to do has been to complain that they’re doing it, and to expand its power even more, to “save” us from the lost money.

See, our capitalist economy depends on money being used to create wealth. With hundreds of billions being stuck in “reserves”, it’s not being invested to create wealth, and the economy is suffering.

In effect, the Fed is causing what Friedrich Hayek called “hording”, and identified as something that NO economic school considers healthy.

It is agreed that hording money, whether in cash or in idle balances, is deflationary in its effects. No one thinks that deflation is in itself desirable.
— Friedrich Hayek’s 1932 Letter on the Great Depression

If banks respond to free market demand by increasing their reserves, that’s good.

If the government (including the Fed, acting as its agent) forces more reserves, that’s bad.

The reason the Fed has added, or says it is adding, over a trillion dollars in “Quantitative Easing” (including the recent QE2) is to fight the deflationary effects of banks “hording” in their reserves.

This “easing” is the printing of temporary money the Fed uses to buy securities. It hopes that money will get spent without going into excess reserves…but this is dangerous, because that extra money could cause inflation after the economy recovers.

The Fed hopes to sell those securities and destroy the money it gets back, but history says it will respond almost two years too late, leaving us suffering inflation.

So the Fed is risking dramatic inflation, in order to save us from the risk of deflation it is paying the banks to create in the first place.

Many thanks to Steve Horwitz for his feedback during the writing of this article.

December 28, 2010 Posted by | Economy, International, liberty, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Bernanke Means: QE2 Will Not Boost Money Supply


Most of the loudest critics of the Federal Reserve are aghast at Ben Bernanke’s recent interview, in which he stated that:

We’re not printing money.

The amount of currency in circulation is not changing.

The money supply is not changing in any significant way.

– Ben Bernanke, 60 Minutes Interview, December 2010

What on earth, people wonder, does he mean by that? How could he say such an obviously crazy thing?

I mean, he is spending NEW money buying up bonds and notes…everyone but Bernanke is calling this QE2 (Quantitative Easing)…and the whole point of this is to add money to the economy.

How can he say the money supply is not changing?

But he isn’t simply crazy…he means something specific, and sane (if misguided).

He means this:

Quantity Times Velocity

The real money supply is not simply the number of dollars in existence. As Nobel-laureate economist Friedrich Hayek pointed out, real money supply is really a multiplication of the amount of money, times how much the money is moving around.

(S)upply equals (Q)uantity times (V)elocity.

This chart of the movement of MZM, the best measure of money people can actually use, tells the tale of woe...velocity, and therefore REAL money supply, has fallen deeply, despite the Fed's hopeless efforts to stop it.

And right now, money velocity is as low as it’s been since the Great Depression…not surprising, since this is the first depression the US has suffered, since.

That means it’s moving very little. In fact, it’s mostly sitting around in banks, doing nothing. It is, as Bernanke implied, effectively out of circulation.

That money is as absent from the economy as if it did not exist. This is the Fed’s fault, because they started paying interest on reserves held idle right at the beginning of this depression, but that’s a separate article.

So even though we now have more Quantity than ever, it’s multiplied by an abnormally low Velocity, to the real supply is lacking.

Right now, Austrians like Hayek and socialists like Keynes would agree that our real money supply is actually at a traumatic low, because much of the quantity is sitting around, unavailable.

Let’s hear Hayek agree with Keynes, himself:

On the first issue — whether to use one’s money or whether to hoard it — there is no important difference between us. It is agreed that hording money, whether in cash or in idle balances, is deflationary in its effects. No one thinks that deflation is in itself desirable.

— Hayek in an open letter to Keynes, 1932, regarding how to respond to the Great Depression

 

Money, money, everywhere, but not a cent to spend.

Like the ocean in my favorite poet’s most famous poem, the money sitting around in banks is, ironically, unavailable for the real money supply.

Bernanke is trying to fix this, by temporarily buying up bonds and treasury notes, therefore bypassing the banks’ massive reserves, putting money directly in the economy.

For the moment, he is correct, that this isn’t boosting the real money supply, because so much of the money is lying salted in (virtual) bank vaults, useless.

Temporary Money

Now his critics, those who know enough monetary theory to understand about velocity the way you now do, say this doesn’t matter, because eventually the velocity will recover, and then we’ll have normal velocity times much more quantity. And that would mean inflation…there’s no way around that.

Bernanke would point out, correctly, that this is not correct, either…

See, the Fed doesn’t consider the money it is printing real. It is ephemeral, temporary money, like a Virtual Particle in physics…popped into existence for a bit, then gone.

And this is true:

When the Fed lends money to a bank overnight, the bank is required to pay it back the next day, plus interest. The same for its more recent, unhealthy bout of lending for thirty or ninety days…after that time, the bank pays the money back, with interest.

And when that money is paid back, it literally “vanishes”, into the “thin air” out of which it was created.

For now, the banks keep re-borrowing money, keeping the extra Quantity in a cycle…but when the Fed decides things are getting better, it can start making that borrowing less desirable, so banks re-borrow less, causing the Quantity of money to decline.

When it engages in Quantitative Easing (Bernanke hates that term, and calls it Credit Easing…bureaucrats love euphemisms), the same thing happens;

The Fed buys notes, adding money to the economy…but later it can SELL those notes, and destroy the money paid for them. It will probably sell them at a higher price than it bought, allowing it to actually destroy MORE money than it created, if it chooses.

So it could, in theory, keep the real money supply at a constant, stable level, allowing prices to be natural.

So Bernanke is Right, Everything Is OK?

Unfortunately…no.

The first problem is that Bernanke, and his peers, don’t understand some economic basics:

We’ve been very, very clear that we will not allow inflation to rise above two percent or less…We could raise interest rates in 15 minutes if we have to. So, there really is no problem with raising rates, tightening monetary policy, slowing the economy, reducing inflation, at the appropriate time.

Now THAT is the part that makes me gasp in horror…he thinks he can stop inflation in fifteen minutes? Doesn’t he know the fishtail effect?

Bernanke’s predecessor, Alan Greenspan, and the Nobel Laureate Chicago school economist Milton Friedman, both understood that when the Fed meddles with the economy, its effects take up to EIGHTEEN MONTHS to show up.

So the day that Bernanke decides “Oh, we’ve hit two percent inflation”, he will raise rates…and then inflation will KEEP GOING UP for at least the next eighteen months.

Eighteen months is a LONG time, in economic terms.

Fishtail Effect

It’s long enough that the Fed will become frantic, as its efforts fail to show any results…they’ll keep raising rates, selling notes and bonds, destroying money, until the economy finally seems to be turning around…weakening.

Then they will have overshot the actual mark by around 18 months. For the next 18 months the economy will KEEP getting worse, KEEP getting slower, until it enters into a recession. Because of the amount of money the Fed bubbled in during this depression, and has to suck out, it will probably be the worst recession since the Stagflation of the late seventies and resulting recessions, which were the worst in history.

It’s like when you are on an icy road, and you try to turn…the car doesn’t respond, so you turn the wheel more, and more…by the time the car responds, you’ve turned too much. You straighten the wheel happily, but the car KEEPS turning past where you wanted. So you turn in the other direction…but it keeps turning the original direction. By the time it responds, you turned too much the other way…et cetera.

This is the source of the modern “business cycle” of recessions, that have happened since the US left the Gold Standard in the 1930s. The Fed, and the rest of government, are constantly meddling with the economy, and then discovering the damage they did when it shows up years later, then reacting to that with even more damaging behavior, back and forth in an endless cycle of unintended consequences.

Now this has, up to now, been better than the “business cycle” of depressions and panics the US suffered from 1873-1933, when the US was on a fiat gold standard. But now we’re suffering a depression, despite being off the gold standard, so that’s all out the window.

What we need, of course, is for the Federal Reserve’s monopoly dollar to be replaced by a free market in money, as Friedrich Hayek proposed.

But, failing that, we need the Fed to at least go back to mostly staying out of the economy, as Alan Greenspan tried to do, instead of constantly expanding its meddling, as Bernanke has done, helping lock us into this cycle of economic devastation.

December 9, 2010 Posted by | Economy, International, Philosophy, Science | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Those TSA Screeners Are Criminals


To claim we should surrender our rights for a promise of safety is Appeal to Cowardice

Ben Franklin was correct: To claim we should give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety is Appeal to Cowardice

TSA Screeners, known officially as TSOs, literally are committing a crime when they randomly scan or search you. There are several reasons why this is so:

Just Obeying Orders

I have rapidly tired of Liberals, especially Neocons, claiming we should sympathize with the Transportation Security Officers (screeners), because (yes, real quote) they are just obeying orders.

Has our socialized education system so failed that nobody remembers when, in the Nuremberg war crime trials, people who said “we were just obeying orders” were executed?

Anything for a Job

“They have to do it, or they will get fired!”

If you take a job as a private delivery man, and then discover that your employer is using you for drug running, the government would require that you refuse, even if you will get fired.

Doing something that is criminal is not OK just because you want your job. Not even if your employer is the government.

Porn-and-Grope is Illegal

“But it’s a law”.

No, it is NOT a law. It is a REGULATION. Regulations are not laws. To even treat them like laws is unconstitutional.

But even if it were passed by congress as a law, it would not be real:

An unconstitutional act is not law;
it confers no rights;
it imposes no duties;
affords no protection;
it creates no office;
it is in legal contemplation,
as inoperative as though it had never been passed.
-Norton vs. Shelby County, 118 US 425 p.442

Because it violates the 4th amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, any rule requiring a random search is not a real rule at all. It has no validity.

Government Mafia

It is imposed only by threat of force, as any organized crime syndicate can do. When a government official violates the Constitution, he is nothing but a mobster, and has no more legitimate power or bearing on you than Al Capone’s hired muscle.

What’s more, it is literally illegal to randomly feel you up, in most cities with airports. Some actually are promising to arrest TSOs who try, if you call the police.

These TSOs are committing a crime each time they randomly search you. No constitutional law, or even regulation, supplies them with the power to search anyone without probable cause.

If the rule was that people behaving suspiciously, or otherwise giving cause to be suspected, had to be searched that would be legitimate. These random searches are not.

And anyone who engages in them is a criminal.

November 24, 2010 Posted by | Family, Health, International, liberty, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why the TSA Screenings are Unconstitutional


It's not that the image shows your genitals to leering strangers that makes it obscene, but its violation of your 4th amendment protection against random searches

The 4th Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Your prudism about being ogled by minimum wage goons who share pics and stories of your genitals with each other and post them on the Internet is not the biggest reason why the nude scanners and crotch gropings cannot be allowed.

It’s that they also violate your Constitutional rights. And that kind of violation, you must never tolerate.

The Fourth Amendment secures not only our external property, but especially our bodies against unreasonable search and seizure.

By “reasonable” the amendment says it means “with probable cause”, and this means government agents must suspect you, personally, of a crime or else they are not allowed to search you, no matter what.

The police are not legally allowed to search random the houses on your block, just in case they might find something illegal, and even the most law-abiding of us is glad our privacy is protected this way. And they cannot, for the same reason, search all people passing through the gates at the airport, just in case they might find something illegal.

Appeal to Cowardice

Big Brotherment tries to justify this violation of the Bill of Rights with Appeal to Cowardice:

“But aren’t you willing to put up with a little inconvenience, to be safer?”

But real Americans aren’t cowards. Even if the violation of your body were improving safety — and in real life, it does NOTHING for your safety — it would not be a tolerable reason.

The government could judge who seemed a threat, and search those people. That would be “probable cause”, valid under the Constitution.

Searching people at random, instead, violates the Bill of Rights, and helps the actually-suspicious people get through the line. If the searches could actually stop terrorists, the random nature of the searches keep that from happening.

They who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
— Ben Franklin

Nobody honest, not even on the pro-TSA side, denies that these random searches violate the fourth amendment…they just claim that you should surrender this Essential Liberty, to try to gain a little temporary safety.

But real Americans aren’t cowards. This expansion of the Police State ends, here and now.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Family, International, liberty, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

It’s Not Even an Effing Mosque


The official story…to my puzzlement, not contradicted by even the people against it…is that some Muslims, who may or may not be secretly part of a terrorist organization or something, are building a mosque across from where the World Trade Center was destroyed by some Muslims.

If this were the truth, I’d be sympathetic with the hue and cry against it.

But it’s not. The above story is absolutely false, even in its basic facts.

It’s Not a Mosque

This is the Park51 building, as planned. Does it look like a mosque, to you?

First, the Park51 building won’t be a mosque. It will be a “community center” that will contain, like a Catholic community center, a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio, food court, September 11th memorial, and a prayer area. Sounds more like a YMCA, to me.

Now nobody calls a Christian community center a church, of course. Even though it contains a chapel, it’s simply not a church.

And an Islamic community center one is not really a mosque.

The People Building it Are Sufi

Pretty much all of the terrorist organizations in the world that are focused on the United States are Wahhabi, funded and trained by our allies in Saudi Arabia, and often closely coordinated with our allies in the Pakistani military.

Wahhabism is a crackpot fundamentalist version of Sunni Islam. Think of Sunni as being like Protestantism, a relatively liberal branch of the religion overall, and Wahhabism as being like the Protestants who dance with snakes and talk in tongues.

Meanwhile, most of the rest of the terrorist organizations in the world that are Islamic at all are Shi’ite. This is the largest of the three branches of Islam, and the most basic one, with an older lineage than Sunni Islam. Think of that as being somewhat like Catholicism…most Shi’ites are peaceful, but you have the crazies, like the Irish Republican Army is for Catholicism. You can’t really blame the rest for those nutjobs in the IRA targeting other peoples and religions.

And then you have the Sufi. These are a bit like the Mormons are to Christianity. They’re a “third way” sort of group, very peaceful and focused a lot on mysticism and spirituality, not the practical mechanics of the Big Two. No terrorist organizations, in the whole world, are Sufi. Some Muslims say they’re so different that the Sufi aren’t even Muslims, at all.

The people building the Park51 community center across from the World Trade Center are Sufi.

“Muslims” Didn’t Attack on 9-11, Specific Crackpots Did

Remember when those guys blew up a Federal building in Oklahoma City? The OKC Bombing?

They were Catholic. Did “Christians” blow it up?

What if people had then protested that a Mormon Temple couldn’t be built across from the ruins, because “Christians attacked us there, it’s adding insult to injury!”

Associating the Mormons with some Catholics (they were) who attacked America on that day would be insane. Since we understand Christianity here, we see that immediately.

But hey, at least it’d be an actual Mormon temple. This isn’t even a mosque we’re talking about here.

Sinead O'Conner crazily associating all Catholics with the IRA terrorists

So OK, what if it was a YMCA (that’s the Young Men’s Christian Association), being built across from where the Irish Republican Army had slaughtered a bunch of Protestants?

Protesting because the YMCA is Christian like the IRA would be laughable…because we understand the huge difference.

Well, the difference between the Sufi community center and the Wahhabi terrorists is like multiplying the OKC/Mormon difference TIMES the IRA/YMCA difference.

Funny, both of the most obvious Christian Terrorist examples I came up with were Catholic. Does this mean Catholics are terrorists? Hopefully, you have enough sense to realize it has nothing to do with Catholicism, even though the IRA actually believe it does.

The same is true of even the two branches of Islam that have terrorists in them. But it’s triply true of the Sufi, THE ONE BRANCH, of the three, that has NO terrorist organizations at all.

Nobody wanted to build ANYTHING in that spot, from the day it was damaged by debris on 9-11, until these Sufi decided to build Park51, their equivalent of a YMCA, there.

And we’re going to throw a tantrum about it? We should be high-fiving them, instead.

August 23, 2010 Posted by | International, Politics, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Our Fifth Year of Global Cooling: Coldest Since 1996


Chart documenting the five year global cooling trend

This is a graph made from NOAA's data for the past decade, showing how the global temperature has been falling for four years. It includes an early rough number for 2009, obtained from a contact there.

Well, it’s unofficially official:

2009 was, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the coldest year in a decade, and they expect 2010 to be worse, perhaps the coldest since 1996.

Oh, don’t worry, you won’t find this news posted on the main page of their website, or in any press releases. They quietly stopped posting charts of annual temperatures in 2006, when the cooling started. But you can find the numbers buried on their site, for example here, and my contacts at NOAA and NASA (I once was a consultant for both) affirm that they have the 2009 numbers, but that the mandate is to sit on them as long as possible, and find ways to present them that will do the least damage to the global warming cause.

Because their budgets depend on scaring people with the global warming myth, various government organizations and bureaucrats have desperately been spinning this cooling trend, even as they avoid directly mentioning it. Around 2006, there started a growing trend to refer to it as “climate change”, not global WARMING, because they wanted to re-brand it before the cooling became well-known.

Now, as the global cooling trend has continued for five years, you can actually find global warming profiteers saying as crazily anti-scientific things as “global warming will probably take a break for a while”, as if it were a tired old man, not a weather phenomenon.

Global Warming protesters proving they are tone-deaf to irony, while demonstrating the spread of the Al Gore Effect: The more they protest, the colder it gets.

The Climate Bogeyman

Now we’re all familiar with witch-hunt logic:

We throw the unpopular woman in the lake:

  • If she drowns, she was innocent.
  • If she floats and survives, she’s a witch and we burn her at the stake.

This kind of evil trick has been used by people seeking power through fear, for as long as recorded history.

It is one thing that Principles of Justice, and the Scientific Method, are supposed to counteract.

Sadly, this appears to be the same logic that the global warming profiteers use.

If the weather is warm, it’s proof of global warming, if it’s cold, it’s proof the weather has been disrupted by global warming.

The scientific method does not stop them, even though they are “climate scientists”, because they do not use it. They have long-ago abandoned the rules of hard science.

When we had an abnormally large number of hurricanes back around the time of Katrina, this was a result of global warming, and we could only expect things to get worse.

When the next few years were abnormally quiet, including one of the mildest hurricane seasons in history, it meant nothing.

When it’s really hot somewhere locally, they say it’s evidence of global warming.

When it’s really cold, it not only means nothing, “that’s weather, not climate”, but maybe it’s because global warming is disrupting the weather, so it proves global warming.

A few glaciers are shrinking faster than normal…global warming.

Some other glaciers are growing larger than in recorded history: Not worth mentioning.

The north polar ice cap had a significant melt: Warming.

The Antarctic ice sheet grew larger than in recorded history: Silence.

The Fall of Global Warming

Why do we hear about unusually warm local weather, but not unusually cold? The warming of the Arctic, but not the record ice of the Antarctic? The melting of a glacier, but not the last two unusually cold summers in the US?

As the actual global cooling trend creates an environment that dooms the global warming profiteers’ gravy train, it is accompanied by snowballing evidence of the fraud and money-motivation of those who perpetrated this scam in the first place.

  • Climategate, for example, was just the first in a series of revelations of actual attempts to cover up global cooling, and create an illusion of global warming, going back to 1996.
  • The Climate Change Timeline documents the pattern of claims that the earth was suffering runaway cooling, warming, cooling, then warming, every time the temperature naturally rose or fell in a perfectly healthy cycle.
  • For the third time, key Russian figures supporting global warming officially turn out to have been false, with the truth supporting global cooling.
  • A growing number of global warming “scientists” are reversing their positions, admitting to “mistakes” that created a false appearance of global warming…here is the latest.

Why haven’t they given up? There’s no money in that.

Like I was told by a NOAA exec when I was consulting for that organization:

A government agency can’t justify its budget by telling people GOOD news.

February 17, 2010 Posted by | environment, International, Politics, Science | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Real Conservatives Aren’t Cowards


Neocon frauds claim we need to submit to Big Brotherment, then expect us to believe they're against Big GovernmentFew things are as shameful, to an American, a Conservative, or a Republican, as watching some neocon on TV talking about how we should all surrender our principles and liberties out of fear.

“Freedom is all fine and good,” they say,” until someone gets hurt. Then you realize it’s time to let Big Brotherment protect us.” Of course this is what Liberals say in general. But the neocons, unlike other Liberals, are pretending to be Conservative, discrediting our movement with their cowardice.

These timorous beasties claim that we should only believe in liberty when it’s convenient. After 9-11, for example, pretty much every American principle of freedom and justice should be out the window. Don’t we have a right to privacy? “We have a right to not be killed by terrorists”, they respond.  Freedom of speech? “You can’t place freedom above safety!”

Well, as an actual American, and Conservative, I say:

They who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Ben Franklin, classic liberal and therefore modern Conservative, had it right.

It’s ironic to watch faint-hearted neocon pundits claim that Americans should be too afraid to put terrorists on trial in New York, giving otherwise-scared-of-everything Liberal New Yorkers the chance to say “bah, I lived through 9-11, and I say bring ‘em on: Justice will be served!”

This very exchange, almost to the word, occurred on The Daily Show recently, Jon Stewart playing the part of justice-defending American, Newt Gingrich pretending to be a Conservative, yet advocating the philosophy of trembling terror.

Likewise, the neocons oppose the closing of the Guantanamo prison camp, or the opening of a prison for foreign terrorists in America…Gitmo North, they call it. Instead of supporting the principles of justice and natural rights the Founders recognized, we should be too afraid of terrorists to hold them on our soil, where those principles must legally be upheld.

These neocons fought against Reagan tooth and nail during his administration. They ran a Nixonian Republican, John Anderson, against Reagan as a vote-splitter in1980; they literally preferred that Carter win. More recently, they wasted eight years of Republican presidency violating every Conservative principle Reagan upheld, during the Bush administration. They are the opposite of anything we actually believe in. Remember, the bank bailouts, stimulus packages, and American automaker takeovers were all started by the neocons. Obama is only following their example.

It’s time we stood up and rejected their pusillanimous assault on our natural rights. Next time someone says “it’s a different world, since 9-11″, say “but the same principles of liberty and justice hold true”.

We are Conservatives, not cowards.

February 13, 2010 Posted by | International, liberty, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How, Exactly, Are They Defending Our Freedom?


neo-con-war-shortWhen people object anything relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, neocons claim that they should be quiet and comply, because the criticism hurts the feelings of “the troops”, who are busy “defending our freedom” over there.

I do appreciate that the soldiers feel like they’re serving America…but defending our…freedom?

Our freedom? We Americans, here in the United States?

When I’m faced with this argument, it is hard to give a clear, coherent response for or against, because the claim makes no sense to me, whatsoever.

This is an honest question, not sarcasm:

What, exactly, does the conquest of Iraq have to do with American freedom?

Did we conquer Iraq for American freedom?

  • First, we built up momentum to attack because Hussein was supposedly involved in 9-11.

But then it became more widely understood that Hussein was one of Al Qaeda’s mortal enemies. In fact, one of the things bin Laden demanded was that Hussein, whom he referred to as a socialist infidel, be removed from power. So…

  • Second, when we actually attacked, it was supposedly because of Weapons of Mass Destruction. We knew Iraq once had WMD, because we openly sold Hussein the technology for them, in the 1980s, and claimed we thought they still had somehow kept some, despite the years of inspections.

But it turned out, after we got there, that we had known he didn’t have the WMD any more at all, so…

  • Third, we retroactively decided we were there to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He is a dictator, killed hundreds of thousands of people, imposed tyrannical laws, et cetera.
Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with close American ally Saddam Hussein, in the 1980s

Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with close American ally Saddam Hussein, in the 1980s, shortly after the US acknowledged Hussein had been using WMD against civilians.

Of course we supported him doing ALL of those things, including the mass murder, for decades, we even sold him WMD tech months after acknowledging that he was slaughtering innocents with it, but let’s just pretend that’s why we invaded, anyway. It sounds good.

The problem is that NONE of those things have anything to do with American freedom.

The Warfare Facts

  • First, 9-11 wasn’t an assault on American freedom. Al Qaeda was attacking in order to change our foreign policy (giving money to Islamic tyrants, occupying Saudi Arabia, killing a million people in Iraq with economic sanctions, backing Israeli war crimes).

…in fact, the only 9-11 related assault on freedom was domestic, like the PATRIOT Act.

  • Second, American freedom wasn’t going to be threatened by Hussein having mustard gas, or anthrax, or even nuclear bombs. Nobody ever seriously suggested he could conquer the US with his mighty navy of 16 wooden patrol boats and his deadly force of a few dozen short-range SCUD missiles, no matter how many WMD he loaded on them.

Liberty depends on economic freedom…whomever controls your life needs, controls you. This war has crippled the US economically, which had turned into an assault on our freedom of choice. By the way, why exactly did we sell him WMD technology in the first place?

  • Third, that’s barely even a fight for Iraqi freedom, since they’re voting as much against freedom now as anyone who knew about the region would have expected. The laws passed are on their way to becoming more repressive than under Hussein’s secular government. These include a move to make burqas mandatory, and growing bans on freedom of expression. Certainly overthrowing Hussein has nothing to do with freedom here in America.

Actual Assault on American Freedom

Because we’ve been “on war footing” for six years, BOTH parties have used the “don’t criticize the government during a war” argument, dramatically attacking American freedom of expression. We have had “free speech zones“, warrantless wire tapping, demands that we not criticize foreign policy lest the troops feel bad, secrecy regarding torture and other violations of American principles, et cetera.

Oil Prices, Real and Adjusted, from 1990 to mid 2008

Oil Prices, Real and Adjusted, from 1990 to mid 2008

We have had economic malaise caused by both the huge deficits and diversion of wealth-production the war produced, and the 700% increase in the price of oil that attacking or threatening four different oil-producing nations caused. And this resulted in a depression that Bush and Obama have used to expand government massively into our personal lives, and to loot our future to pay off failing multinational corporations, perhaps the most vicious of the attacks on our freedom.

You know, there may be a country closer to home than Iraq, where our troops should be fighting a government that is attacking American freedom…

Anyway, I definitely need someone to explain what is the “defending AMERICAN freedom” part of invading, conquering, and occupying Iraq.

Words of the Sentient:

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

– Oscar Wilde, A Portrait of Mr. W.H.

August 16, 2009 Posted by | International, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Secrecy is Tyranny


(caption: Keeping secrets from voters is exactly as coercive as holding a gun to their head in the voting booth)

(caption: Keeping secrets from voters is exactly as coercive as holding a gun to their head in the voting booth)

Secrecy, even in and of itself, is a form of tyranny.

No, this doesn’t mean when you don’t tell your friend about his surprise party, nor concealing the recipe for Coke Classic, not even the hidden initiation rites for that fraternity…

But when you cause someone to do something they would have otherwise not chosen, because you conceal information from them, then you are coercing them, the same as if you pointed a gun at their head. 

And, in the case of government, when the People are supposed to control policy through elections and popular support, any government-concealed information that changes how they would vote is tyranny, same as if they sent stormtroopers to help fill out ballots on election day.

Any pundit you see complaining that a government official told the American public too much is, in effect, advocating tyranny.

It’s one thing to hide when troops are making an attack for a few days, or to openly refuse to tell exactly how a nuclear bomb is made…but it’s another, entirely, to conceal information that will change how people vote, no matter what “national security” excuse they invent.

This is most painfully transparent when the actual “national security” excuse is “this will embarrass [some government official or office]“. Embarrassment, shame, and general changing of how someone sees something are obviously not legitimate excuses. What’s more, it would not matter either way, because that is the price of liberty.

America is supposed to be a free country. This requires responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions, including when it means something embarrassing, whether to your neighbor or the foreigners who will be horrified or disgusted at our government’s behavior.

In fact, without secrecy, many of those evils would not occur in the first place, just as in our real lives. If the government can’t hide when it bribes a foreign official, or tortures someone, or other evils, then it will face public and international shame, and the threat of voter retaliation, and hopefully not do it in the first place.

By preventing voter retaliation, a government does not make itself more stable…just more tyrannical.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | International, Philosophy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Unamerican Policies Are Great Tiger Repellent


We are told that it's the abandonment of our principles that has prevented any terrorist attacks...forgetting that we had no terrorist attacks for ten years before 9-11, either

We didn't get attacked for the ten years prior to 9-11 either.

 
Little Old Lady: [Long Island Accent] This tiger repellent is so expensive, I may have to cut back on my groceries to keep getting it! 

Sane Person: But…tiger repellent is a scam! Why would you buy such a thing? It’s a waste of money! 

Little Old Lady: Well, I started buying it when that magician got mauled. And obviously it works; I haven’t been attacked by a tiger, since!

No matter whether Bush’s policies violated every American principle or not, one thing you can definitely say is that we haven’t had a terrorist attack on US soil in the seven years since he started them.

Nor have we been attacked by tigers.

In fact, we did not have a terrorist attack on US soil for almost ten years BEFORE 9-11. Crediting Bush’s violation of every American and Conservative principle with this “safety” is actually somewhat more foolish than the little old lady buying tiger repellent.

Unless it actually attracts tigers.

Because Bush’s evils, committed in our name, like:

  • Torturing now-helpless captives
  • Attacking countries without provocation
  • Rounding up people at random from suspected areas and keeping them for months, or years, without outside contact or even determining which ones, if any, are actually the targets
  • Handing out billions in cash and military supplies to top state sponsors of terrorism like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia

All have increased likelihood of attacks against America.

It is no coincidence that terrorist attacks worldwide increased with each implementation of these policies. That they didn’t happen in the US is because zero times some amount is still zero.

These evils are a perfect recruitment system for terrorism. What other way do these people have to stop us? Would YOU not fight back, if these things were being done to your family?

Evils we would not normally commit, we should not commit just to gain some benefit…but especially when the benefit is imaginary. “We haven’t been attacked since 9-11″ is as ridiculous as “I haven’t been attacked by a tiger since Siegfried and Roy were attacked”.

May 27, 2009 Posted by | International, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Beware the Coming [insert non-threat] Pandemic!!!


You can insert Bird Flu, and it's still 100%.

As you know, we’re all preparing for the devastating Swine Flu epidemic, which has reached our shores and infected eighty-something people.

It is destined to be the latest pandemic, taking its place alongside the millions of deaths America suffered during the BIRD Flu epidemic, West Nile epidemic, SARS epidemic, Mad Cow Disease…the list goes on, all of them heirs to the mass death of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.

And they all have this subtle trait in common:

They turned out to be sheer nonsense.

Nobody in the US has been killed by Bird Flu. Only already-sickly people in third-world countries like China, where a common cold can kill you, too.

A few Americans have actually died from West Nile, but only 1/10th the number who died from swimming pools, far less than 1/100th of the number who died from the common hospital infection, staph, in the same period.

Even in third world countries, SARS has a mortality rate of less than 10%. In the US, its mortality rate is ZERO.

And the same is true of Swine Flu. At the time of this writing, 80+ Americans have gotten it, and NONE have died. The normal flu is more dangerous.

And, of course, they can’t prove anyone’s ever really even GOTTEN mad cow, much less died from it.

For decades, people have been claiming to recognize what the next big 1918 Flu Pandemic heir will be.

But they always have to refer back to 1918, because 91 years ago is the last time it happened.

Why?

Because medical technology is so advanced that it’s not likely to EVER happen again.

In 1918, most of the ideas and techniques now ingrained in medicine were in their infancy. It was, really, the last good opportunity for a big pandemic to happen. Now, it’s too late.

So why do we keep hearing that the Next Big Epidemic is coming?

The same reason we keep hearing that we’re in imminent danger from asteroids and global warming:

Fear Equals Funding.

Because of budget-padding witch doctors at places like the CDC and NIH.

See, those guys have EXACTLY the same motivations as a tobacco scientist; Money.

Except that they have an even worse dependency upon money than a tobacco scientist. They have a budget that depends almost purely on fear.

DC bureaucrats actually use the phrase Fear Equals Funding, when discussing why they make things they know to be unlikely or harmless sound like doomsday.

Do a quick search for “CDC budget request” or “NIH budget request” on Google. You get results like this fearmongering from the Director of NIH, asking for more money for the next budget:

New threats and diseases constantly emerge. For example, soldiers suffering from blast injury highlight the importance of additional knowledge on traumatic brain injuries. Infectious diseases remain among the leading causes of death worldwide. More than 30 newly recognized infectious diseases and syndromes emerged in the last three decades alone, including HIV/AIDS and SARS. Infectious diseases that once seemed to be fading, such as tuberculosis and malaria, have resurged. New drug-resistant forms of once-easily treated microbial infections are emerging at a rapid pace. New strains of influenza occur each year. There is concern that a new influenza virus may emerge with the capacity for sustained human-to-human transmission, possibly triggering a pandemic similar to what occurred in 1918, 1957, and 1968.

Doom and gloom fearmongering. He is STILL robbing the taxpayer with the SARS bogeyman, years after Southpark mocked its irrelevantly low mortality rate: 

Stanley, listen to me. I have SARS. There’s only a ninety-eight percent chance that I will live.

Likewise, you can find the CDC terrorizing the public with threats of “avian flu”, even though it’s caused ZERO deaths:

“Concerns that avian influenza (H5N1) could become the next influenza pandemic”

They also emit girlish shrieks about SARS and West Nile, in the same budget request.

The Swine Flu panic is not about saving people from imminent death, but about greed.

NIH/CDC official = Tobacco Scientist

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Health, International, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The “Global War On Terror” is a Lie


 

The neocon philosophy of cowardice demands that we surrender our essential freedoms, in return for the promise of temporary safety

The neocon philosophy of cowardice demands that we surrender our essential freedoms, in return for the promise of temporary safety

The neocons are parroting Conservative words, loud and shrill, these days. Suddenly they’re against the very same socialism and police state that they defended when Bush was doing it. 

But you can be reminded that they’re neocon frauds, when they start fearmongering “terrorism”, which they seem unable to stop doing.

Recently, it’s been this insane pretense that the Somali pirates are terrorists.

Of course, you and I and every other rational person know:

Terrorists commit random acts of destruction/killing, to create an environment of fear, in order to work toward some political goal.

Pirates attack vessels in order to obtain wealth, either by looting or ransom. In a way, they are the opposite of terrorists.

The Somali ship-stealing guys are doing nothing but attacking vessels for loot/ransom. They are pirates, not terrorists.

Really, given the two definitions above, it takes a fool incompetent in the subject to confuse them.

Great way to identify some of the neocon fakes in talk shows and punditry.

But it doesn’t stop with the pirates.

They still pretend the resistance fighters in Iraq are terrorists.

Resistance fighters attack a foreign occupation force, in order to drive it from their country.

That’s what is happening in Iraq. 

But the charade isn’t just one of pretending anything they don’t like is terrorism. The neocons also have double standards about whether terrorism is bad.

They support, for example, the training and funding of terrorists, as long as their mass murder is useful to us.  

  • When we trained and supplied Al Qaeda in the 1980s in Afghanistan, it was at their behest.
  • When we supported Saudi Arabia’s building of Wahabi hate schools all around Asia in the 80s and 90s, the neocons were the reason.
  • When we backed, and funded, the Pakistani fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship’s overthrow of the Afghani government by the Taliban, it was to the joy of the neocons.

Of course this hypocrisy extends beyond terrorism…the neocons fought to keep us openly supplying Weapons of Mass Destruction technology to Saddam Hussein in the 80s. But we’re dealing with their fake Terror War here, not their general sociopathic nature.

So, getting back to the topic, the neocons have undermined democracy in the middle east, refusing to deal with the elected government of Palestine, claiming they won’t support former “terrorists” in government…and yet backing, no matter what war crimes they commit, the former terrorists who run the Israeli government.

Blowing up buildings full of innocents in a land where you were not even born, as the future rulers of Israel did in the 1940s, is OK, but blowing up soldiers occupying your homeland and keeping you in concentration-camp conditions today is “terrorism”

Actually, it’s not. They’re resistance fighters, of course. Whether the Jewish people who moved to Palestine in the 1940s and started killing people there count as resistance fighters (you’re supposed to be locals fighting foreigners) is debatable. But there’s no question the Palestinian fighters are resisting foreign occupation.

Side Note: Precedent

We were all disgusted when the mass-murdering Russian government started calling resistance fighters “terrorists”, to parrot Bush. The problem is that Bush set that precedent, by abusing the word just as laughably.

Precedent is one of the practical reasons to not blindly defend “your guy” when he’s doing something wrong. Bush built many of his abuses on Clinton’s precedents. Clinton coined the phrase “war on terror”, and attacked both Iraq and Afghanistan in order to distract from domestic problems, while claiming to fight terrorists…a perfect lead-in for Bush. Likewise, Obama’s current socialist agenda, nationalizing banks, spending trillions on fake “stimulus”, is identical to what Bush was doing before he left office.

But, getting back to terrorism, precedent is its most ugly with the case of Obama using the police state Bush created, for his own domestic agenda. Verbally supporting liberty is literally being described in official government  documents as terrorist, by the new, unconstitutional, and definitively police state Department of Homeland Security.

On the other hand, he has stopped referring to our inconsistent, hypocritical foreign policy as a “war on terror”, to the horror of the neocons, who are essentially saying this amounts to treason.

There is no actual Global War on Terror. Just a bunch of dishonest men advocating evils that they appear to believe will benefit themselves, while using fear to get you to submit to it. THAT is preying upon terror, as much as anything.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | International, Politics | , , , , , | 6 Comments

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