But Now You Know

The search for truth in human action

Why “Moderates” Have Always been Unelectable


Every time, for decades, the more principled candidate has won, and the "moderate" almost always lost.

They keep telling us that Mitt Romney is the only “electable” candidate…just like they claimed about John McCain and Bob Dole.

But, like McCain and Dole, the history is of Big Government “moderates” losing:

  • 1976

    Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan struggled through the whole primary season, reaching the convention with no majority.

    The Liberal “Moderate” Republicans, known as Nixonians and “Rockefeller Republicans”, said that even though Reagan had more delegates, Ford should be the nominee, because he was a “moderate”, therefore more electable.Reagan, with his “liberty” and “small government” talk, was too extreme, obviously unelectable.

    Ford, running as a moderate, lost.

  • 1980

    Reagan ran again.

    As before, the Rockefeller Republicans insisted that Reagan was unelectable. Low taxes, spending cuts, in the middle of a recession? Attacking government as the problem, instead of giving people hope by saying it could fix things?

    Madness.

    In fact, when he won the primary by beating John Anderson and George Bush, the Establishment Republicans actually ran John Anderson as a third party spoiler in the general election:

    The Republican establishment hoped to split the vote and get Carter re-elected. They actually preferred Liberal/socialist Carter over Reagan!

    The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. – Ronald Reagan, “Inside Ronald Reagan”, Reason magazine, July 1975

    But “unelectable extremist libertarian” Reagan won the election in a landslide, beating “electable moderate” Republican John Anderson and incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter, combined.

  • 1992

    Bush won because he was Reagan’s Vice President, but in 1992, he had to run on his own record as a “moderate” Republican, the establishment rallying around to force his nomination in the face of challenges by two more candidates, one more libertarian and one more conservative. The “Moderate” Bush was supposed to be more electable.

    Bush, running as a Moderate, lost.

  • 1994

    Two years later, rebellious Republicans refused to follow the Establishment’s advice, running  on a libertarian Conservative platform, the Contract with America. The establishment worried that the lack of a more moderate stance would hurt their normal mid-term gains. This was the first time the Republican party had run for Congress without a “moderate” agenda, in generations.

    Instead of losing, the Republicans running on principle took all of Congress, for the first time…in generations.

  • 1996

    The “Moderate” Republican Establishment had regained control.

    Faced with a very libertarian candidate and more conservative one leading in early primaries, they managed to force the “moderate”, Bob Dole, into winning the nomination. Those two non-Moderates were deemed unelectable, despite the lesson of two years earlier.

    Dole, running as a Moderate, lost.

  • 2000

    W Bush ran as a Conservative. He promised school choice, Social Security reform, and “no more nation building”.

    Naturally, running as a Conservative, he won.

  • 2004

    But it turned out to be a lie.

    • Instead of less centralized education, we got a more socialist education system through “No Child Left Behind”.
    • Instead of Social Security reform, we got Medicare Part D, the biggest entitlement expansion in history.
    • Instead of “No more nation building”, we got endless wars and trillions squandered overseas, killing our sons, driving oil prices up 700%, and crippling the economy.

    He should, therefore, have lost in 2004, exposed as a “moderate”.

    But the Democrats committed political suicide: Dumping the clearly principled candidate Howard Dean, they went for “Me-too Democrat” John Kerry, who was “Bush Lite” on pretty much every topic.

    As usual, the more “moderate”, unprincipled candidate lost.

  • 2006

    "Moderates" lost Congress to the Democrats in 2006, but only four years later, the TEA Party's principled stand won it back

    The Republican party carefully ran as “moderate”, as defenders of their “moderate” President. In each election where they had done so in the dozen years that they’d controlled Congress, they’d lost ground…and now they were out of time.

    Running as Moderates, the Republicans lost.

  • 2008

    Once again, the Establishment fought back challengers who were more libertarian and Conservative, to ensure that one of the two, supposedly electable, “moderates” won the nomination.

    John McCain, running as a Moderate, lost.

  • 2010

    To the horror of the Establishment, the TEA Party began ousting “moderates” in the primary, leaving the Republicans with 60 “unelectable” candidates who supported libertarian Conservative principles.

    The TEA Party, running on principle, took back the House, only four years after losing it.

In the entire modern history of politics, and especially the Republican party and Conservatism, there has been a nearly perfect pattern of “moderates” losing nationwide elections, and principled candidates, running on small government, winning.

This is because people support principled candidates, but either stay home or vote for the candidate a  “moderate” one is imitating.

The lesser of two evils is still…EVIL.

“Moderates” are not electable.

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February 4, 2012 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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

Why the End Does Not Justify the Means


Why don't we torture accused criminals in order to find who is guilty? Because the end does not justify the means.

It has become clear that many politicians and lawyers, and a few real people, don’t understand what is meant by The End Does Not Justify the Means.

They act like people are saying the desire to have pancakes cannot justify making batter. But this is more specific. It’s about good versus evil. In their unfortunate perspective, caring about what is right must seem insane.

But the truth is that this phrase sums up one of the most important principles of ethics and morality:

It means that there are certain fundamental principles that are “right”, “good”, et cetera, that are essential to those conditions…and you cannot justify violating them because you have some “right” or “good” goal in mind.

For example, you cannot have justice, unless you adhere to the principles of justice; It’s not OK to do unjust things to people simply because you have a just goal in mind.

This is a basic philosophical rule that is ignored or denied by almost all evil people you will find out there, and supported by almost all good ones. Marxists coined the modern use of the phrase “the end justifies the means”, and naturally they and their socialist spinoffs were responsible for the vast majority of all great evils, for the past century.

Evil Men

Joseph Stalin, for example, justified the deaths of tens of millions of his own people, by saying that the population was too large for (relatively inefficient) Communism to support. The mass death left Soviet society more sustainable. Did the betterment of millions of peoples’ lives justify the murder of millions of other people? According to Consequentialist socialists; yes.

Previously, the Dominican order of Catholicism was an advocate of the idea that the end justifies the means (in spirit), and it just so happens that they went on to conduct, among other great evils, the Inquisition. It was literally claimed that you may be saving the soul of the man you tortured or murdered in the name of God, so it was OK. All the ways the current Pope is less popular than his predecessor appear to center around his being of that Dominican mindset. In fact, the position he held before becoming pontiff was the Head of the Office of Inquisition, I kid you not…it had simply changed its name for PR reasons.

Likewise, when Machiavelli used that phrase in his satirical indictment of the evils and abuses of Feudal government, The Prince, he succeeded in hitting the nail on the head as to what is most wrong and unjust.

Required by Good

In reality, the end does not justify the means, in part because the long-term outcome of ignoring principles in order to buy short-term results is a failure of your own goals.

The idea that the wise principles override the short-sighted goal (a form of Deontology, if you like them thar fancified words) is why courts will overturn convictions on technicalities, one of the few good and just things remaining in the US legal system. Any honest — or as close as they get –prosecutor will tell you that the reason they hate that condition is how it keeps them from breaking rules and simply gambling punishment, in order to convict people they think are guilty. They are restrained from unjust acts, by this absolute enforcement of the principles of justice, even though it may let a guilty man walk in the short term.

When you have a principle, like “do not violate someone else’s property”, it cannot be overridden because you have some end in mind like “but the wealth I steal from his safe will benefit several other people who deserve it more”.

Like setting aside money for bills and emergencies instead of partying all of your paycheck away, sticking to the principles of what is good, right, and just produces the best outcome in the long run. You are investing in your ultimate goal by sticking to it when the going gets tough. When you panic and abandon your principles for a short-term benefit, you end up making things worse in the end.

THAT is why the end does not justify the means.

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Should You “Give Back” to Your Employer?


When you buy bread for a dollar, the seller is "giving back to the community" for the dollar, by feeding you a dollar's worth of food. He is literally "feeding the hungry".

Each year, a generous social organization probably gives you tens of thousands of dollars, through your job.

You are very fortunate to be given this plentiful benefit, and should give back to the society of your bosses. Perhaps by giving them money, or volunteering to help them prosper.

“But wait” you say, “they didn’t pay me that money as charity…it wasn’t fortune! It wasn’t a windfall or luck! I earned that money! They were paying me for services I rendered to them! I owe them nothing, because it was a fair exchange!”

And you’re right, of course.

This is so obvious that my statements above were patently absurd. I couldn’t easily find a way to make them convincing, lest I drive you away by sounding like a nutcase.

And yet that’s just the sort of insanity that “progressives” advocate, these days.

That’s How They Got Rich

Certain class hate types are saying we should take even more money from the wealthy (families who make over $250K and already shoulder 90% of the Federal income tax), because “those who have benefitted most from our way of life can afford to give a bit more back“.

But most people who get rich earn their money, just like you d0. Their customers, like your employer, trade with them voluntarily, and (hopefully like your employer) believe they are getting as much or more as they are paying for. They “benefit” only exactly in proportion to how much they “give back”, already. If you earn a billion dollars in the marketplace, it means you have already given over a billion dollars in value to the people who (therefore) paid you for it.

Now it’s true that some wealthy people don’t get their money consensually. It amounts to ill-gotten loot they secured because they are the crony of some corrupt politician who hands them fat taxpayer money as pork — for example, Dick Cheney and Haliburton, or Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill’s husband. And I’m all for a special surtax on government officials, employees, and contractors and their cronies, who profit on the taxpayers’ backs instead of by contributing to society.

But if we want to attach being wealthy more with contributing to society, we need to reduce government’s influence, instead of expanding it. When government oversteps its legitimate boundaries, it ends up voilating our choices, making people rich whom we would not have chosen to pay, who did not to society for the money.

Whether with needless government contracts, bailouts, pork, or forcing you to buy from someone like a monopoly (cable and power companies) or mandate (health insurance under Obamacare, mercury-laden lightbulbs and inferior toilets), this does create wealthy people who’ve given nothing…and we need to stop it from happening.

People who earn their money have already “given back”, and don’t need to make some extra sacrifice as punishment for their success. That success shows how much they’ve already given. We need to stop the class envy greed, and focus on cutting the spending that is done on the backs of all productive Americans, freeing ourselves to succeed again.

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Economy, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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

Forget the Fed


End the DEBT

The Federal Reserve, though bad, is a scapegoat, and ending it would neither reduce the deficit, nor rein in the printing of money

Among my political companions, “End the Fed” has been the hot, trendy thing for a while. This is mainly because Ron Paul correctly distrusts it, and has sponsored a bill to have it audited.

Now, I almost named this article Eff the Fed, because I, too, dislike it, and know it can never manage money properly…no government agency ever could. Instead of the a fiat dollar, we should have a free market in currency, like the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek advocated . But when it comes to the fight to end it, there’s a problem.

The End the Fed crowd seems to think that getting rid of it is some magic bullet, that will accomplish all kinds of different things.

They believe it will:

  • Bring back “sound money”, by imposing a gold standard.
  • End the printing of new, extra money
  • Restrain runaway government spending
  • Prevent budget deficits

The problem is that ending it will accomplish none of those things.

In fact, it would probably make them worse.

Why?

Because the Fed isn’t what started those things happening, and none of them depend on the Fed’s existence.

Axe the IRS

In effect, fighting those things by attacking the Fed is like wanting  to fight the income tax, and high taxes, by demanding “Ax the IRS”.

Obviously, we had taxes before the IRS, and we’d have taxes after it. In fact, the IRS was not created by the 16th amendment establishing the income tax, but five decades earlier, by Abraham Lincoln.

If we got rid of the IRS, we’d still have the income tax, and high taxes. Putting our time, energy, and money into attacking the IRS would be a waste of time, when we could have fought for actual tax reduction, reforming or ending the income tax, et cetera, directly.

What’s worse, the government would still want to oversee the taxes we failed to actually fix, and would probably end up using something worse than the IRS.

Well, all of this is true of the Fed, as well:

The Feds Don’t Need the Fed

The Fed and a Gold Standard are Compatible

Trade Dollars, coins minted in the US during the gold standard, in an attempt to offset a shortage of money

Ending the Fed won’t bring back a forced gold standard, because they are two unrelated issues.

We had both at the same time for decades, anyhow.

The US had a fiat gold standard from 1873, through 1934.

The Fed, of course, was established in 1913. It existed alongside the gold standard for over two decades. It helped cause the Great Depression while the US was on a gold standard. It created floods of new money in the 1920s, and drew down the money supply by 30% (which would cause any economy, at any time, to collapse) in 1929…both of these things while we were on the gold standard.

Congress Would Just Print More Money

Not only did we have a gold standard while we had the Fed, but we also printed fiat paper money when we did not have the Fed. The reason the dollar is sometimes called the Greenback, is that this was the nickname commonly used for the paper money common in the United States in the 1860s and 1870s, printed to finance the Civil War, known for its green ink .

Right now, the Federal Reserve is a bureaucratic middleman, standing between Congress and simply printing money willy-nilly. The Fed uses what are ironically called “mechanical” means, to create its electronic, funny money for banks. In other words, it has a set of rules that cause the money to be created according to some specific set of conditions, not simply all the money the government wants.

An actual Greenback, fiat paper money printed in the US before the Federal Reserve

Without it, Congress will simply mandate the printing of more money, on its own, surely in accordance to its bloated, and ever-snowballing spending. They printed floods of extra money before the Fed, and would print it after.

As with the IRS, however it replaces the Fed (and, in a sense, it will have to) will probably be with a mechanism that is even worse.

The US government issued treasury notes, and created deficits in other ways, for the majority of US history where there was no Federal Reserve Bank, and would do it again without it.

Restrain the Deficits…How?

This is the silliest one, and speaks to an ignorance of how the Fed works.

The Federal Reserve certainly responds to some deficit spending by selling more treasury notes…but as with printing money and collecting taxes, this would happen whether the Fed existed or not. It simply is the middleman, again.

You might as well blame the mailman for delivering your bills.

A Big, Fat Windmill

The problem with Don Quixote attacking windmills wasn’t just that the windmills wasn’t only that the windmills weren’t actually dragons, harming people.

It was also that he was wasting the energy and time that could have gone into fighting actual bad causes.

And that’s what the End the Fed noise is doing. This energy could be spent fighting deficit spending directly, which has run rampant under Democrat and RiNO alike…or any of dozens of other issues of government abuse.

It’s Going Nowhere

Of course the last problem with tilting at windmills was that it was never going to get rid of them, anyhow.

The Federal Reserve is in no danger of being “ended”. Ron Paul is actually only sponsoring a bill to audit the Fed, which (unfortunately) will not even permanently open its records to the public, the way they need to be. It will do even less to “end” it, since government self-investigations only ever are used to create a pretense that a few new regulations have “put the problem behind us”, and things usually just get worse, thereafter.

A majority of Americans oppose the drug war. Nearly all Americans not directly on the government teat oppose its massive spending and deficits. But the mechanisms for keeping the Fed in place, on both the private and public side, are massive. Not only would getting rid of it have no more effect than axing the IRS, but it’s no more likely to happen.

How To Actually Fix Things

What we need to do, rather than waste our time tilting at the Fed, is to directly address the problems we’re using it as a whipping boy to attack, or at least focus on their actual sources.

For example:

Balance the Budget; A balanced budget amendment would stop massive deficits, rein in government spending, and eliminate much of the incentive to print money and treasury notes, under the current system.

Line-Item Veto; Giving the President the power to veto any specific detail in any spending bill would be a step in that direction, as well. This may need to be an amendment, too, in order to override corrupt Federal courts claiming that it’s somehow unconstitutional.

Pull the Pork; Rules against pork, against Congress specifying projects in detail intended just to send money to their own cronies in their district, would be devastating not only to spending (which, unfortunately, is more centered on entitlements), but also to motives to give officials legalized bribes like campaign contributions.

Or maybe something else, entirely…but, whatever is done, it needs to be done. We need to choose surmountable obstacles that will actually matter, not waste our effort and attention on some scapegoat, however undesirable it is. The Fed is a poster child for government’s destruction of finance and economy, but what we need now is real solutions, not symbolic gestures, however satisfying this one would be.

July 5, 2010 Posted by | Economy, liberty, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 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

The Tyranny of the Majority, vs the Unanimity of Liberty


T
he Founding Fathers despised democracy. They called the idea of 51% voting to impose its will the “violence of majority faction“. Poor Thomas Jefferson spent a great deal of effort and political capital proving he wasn’t a closet democrat. When writing Democracy in America, French philosopher Alexis DeToqueville coined the phrase Tyranny of the Majority referring to an idea from Plato’s Republic.

Majority rule imposes the will of a mere half of the population, plus one vote, upon minorities in each issue.

It is just as wrong to violate someone else's rights, even if you outnumber them and have a vote

It is just as wrong to violate someone else's rights, even if you outnumber them and have a vote

You need only to look at how this impacted blacks in the US to understand how evil majority rule over the minority is.

The Founders sought to solve this problem, by banning democracy in America, setting up a Republic where the majority could never legally vote to violate the natural rights of the minority. The only powers allowed to the Federal government were those listed in the Constitution, with the 9th and 10th articles of the Bill of Rights banning it from doing anything else, even if the majority voted for it.

Majority as Consensus

Of course the Federal government has been corrupted enough to overstep its legitimate authority, but that’s another article.

The modern apologists for majority rule, who unfortunately have managed to get the word “democracy” spun into a positive thing in public schools, defend their tyranny over minorities by saying “hey, at least we can be sure that there isn’t a larger group who opposes a vote, than the group who supports it”.

Advocates of liberty, though, object that you still should not violate the will of ANY people, in a free society. They say that you have no more authority to violate the rights of another because you are a large group, than if you are one man trying to impose your will on your neighbor. At least not legitimately.

Of course, the obvious retort is “hey, the only way to solve the problem of having minorities on issues is to have a unanimous vote…and that’s impossible! If we depended on unanimity, then nothing would ever get accomplished at all!”

majority-rule-orourkeBut this isn’t true:

Unanimous Self-Government

A free market is based, purely, on unanimity.

This is because the fundamental principle of liberty is private property:

Each person is a government of one, over his rightful possessions, starting with his own body.

But if someone wanted a vote on what everyone in the country is going to have for supper tonight, the odds are that he would not be able to get everyone to agree on the same thing. So if this were a power of the government, up to half of the population, minus one vote, would have their right to choose what to eat violated.

Of course that’s if there are only two options…which is a sort of farce of an election in the first place. With a real selection of all things people might reasonably desire for supper, probably more than 99% of people will be forced to eat something they would not have chosen.

And, let’s face it, with how goofy people are, you’re almost always going to end up being forced to eat something you don’t even like, much less want for tonight.

Eccentric sitcom character Mrs. Slocombe used to emphasize a decision by saying "and I am unanimous in that!"

Eccentric sitcom character Mrs. Slocombe used to emphasize a decision by saying "and I am unanimous in that!"

On the other hand, if each man governs his own life, as in a free market, then you may choose not only exactly what to eat, but even when to eat it.

Every time you are hungry, there is a vote, and you are unanimous. Sure, it’s limited to what you can afford, but what better way to determine what a meal is worth than that? Imagine if the majority were always voting themselves caviar and steak, bankrupting society.

With majority rule, you only get rare input at all, and only one option is selected, with most people being losers in the process.

But with the free market, you vote every instant, of every day, and are able to reverse yourself at will.

Of course, this also applies to groups, not just individuals, because their membership is purely voluntary, unlike an authoritarian government:

Sure, your chess club or paintball team may have majority votes, but your participation in them is purely consensual. Each moment of your life, you are free to leave, and if you stay you are voting unanimously for your own membership.

If you leave an organization in a free society, they are not going to blockade your house until you’re forced to fire on them, and then claim you started a hostilities, invade, and conquer you.

democracy.sucksIf the majority of your local town council votes to condemn your perfectly sound family home, just to put up a strip mall that will bring them more tax money and campaign contributions, it does this in violation of the unanimity of private property rights, and you can’t simply withdraw your membership.

Don’t worry; in two years you’ll be allowed to cast a single vote against at least one of those politicians who stole your home…if you still live in town, and at a legal residence, not in a cardboard box.

You might even try to get 51% of all voters in your city to set aside all other issues and vote for the single challenger to each of those bad politicians.

Of course, if your private property rights were protected as they should be, you wouldn’t be in this predicament. Maybe you should just push for laws protecting those rights in general, so such things couldn’t happen in the first place.

While majority rule imposes tyranny over minorities, capitalism, through private property rights, protects even the smallest minority, that of the individual, with unanimity.

Words of the Sentient:

The political principle that underlies the market mechanism is unanimity. In an ideal free market resting on private property, no individual can coerce any other, all cooperation is voluntary, all parties to such cooperation benefit or they need not participate.

— Milton Friedman, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits, The New York Times Magazine

Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority

— James Madison, Federalist Papers #10

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

— John Adams, , letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Check out the Worker’s Rights Manifesto


anarcho-capitalist-workerYou and I, as a workers, have certain rights that are naturally ours, and that nobody should be allowed to violate. These rights are choices we are free to make, unless the powerful try to steal them.

  1. The right to work for the amount we choose.

    What we earn should be a matter between ourselves and our employers, not something controlled or approved by some government…more

  2. The right to work for whom we choose.

    Where we work should be a matter of which job offer we accept, not controlled by some law or.…more

  3. The right to keep the product of our labor, and do with it as we choose.

    The product of our labour is the amount we agree to sell our services to an employer for. It is ours by right, and any authority who takes it from us for their own purposes is wrong.…more

  4. The right to decide how we work.

    What if we don’t want three weeks off, but would like a little extra pay, instead? What if we want to buy health insurance with a huge deductible for two hundred bucks a year, instead of paying two hundred bucks per month for full insurance, because we have a lot saved up in the bank in case we get sick? Nobody should be able to.…more

  5. The right to work the way we choose.

    We have a right to decide what is “safe”, for ourselves, instead of.…more

  6. The right to become owners / management, and be proud of it.

    If we work hard, and make the sacrifice of saving our rightful income (product of labor), or work in our own time to create a great new idea, we have a right to invest it to create new wealth.…more

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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

The Big Bang Theory Does Not Represent Science


Cut the Creator some Slack     
(Caption: Cut the Creator some Slack)

Anyone puzzled by how some Americans don’t take science seriously need look no farther than how few scientists, themselves, take the scientific method seriously.

There is no better example of that credibility gap than the Big Bang Theory.

And this is the worst possible place for the flaw to occur, because the Big Bang has become the poster child for “science is smart, religion is stupid”…yet it’s not actually science.

Even my favorite sitcom, wherein some producer had the crazy nerve to try to create a show around the situation of INTELLIGENT people, The Big Bang Theory, assumes its name (apparently) as an attempt to show intellectual, potential viewers that it’s for them, not the common proles.

But the Big Bang Theory is pseudoscience, at best.

Bad

By the rules of hard science, it’s not even a theory. A theory can be tested in a way that would be sure to fail if it were wrong. This, with the Big Bang, is impossible so far. So it doesn’t qualify. It is a hypothesis.

For supposed scientists to refer to it as a theory is akin to Catholic priests and bishops referring to a contemporary televangelist as a Saint. There are strict rules for sainthood, and for scientific theoryhood, and if you just go tossing either word around you discredit the whole genre. Saint Tammy Fae Baker would undermine the concept of Christian sainthood exactly the way the Big Bang Theory undermines the concept of cosmogony as a science.

Worse

But it’s worse than that; the Big Bang Hypothesis is not just treated with the unearned dignity of being a “theory”, but even like a fact, despite having failed even the basic test of prediction.

Original big bang-based predictions of the temperature of the universe, its expansion, and the even-ness of background radiation all failed…but, in violation of the principles of science, bureaucrats just turned around and reverse-engineered new predictions that matched the existing observations. 

But even if they had not, no theory EVER rises to the level of fact, based solely on its matching of predictions. 

To quote Stephen Hawking:

Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis; you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.

You don’t have to go as far as Anthropogenic Global Warming, to find scientists treating failed hypotheses as Settled Science, which is denied by not only Stephen Hawking above, but the Fallibilist roots of hard science.

Laughable

But it gets worse, still, when extreme atheists try to trot out The Big Bang as a solution for the Prime Mover paradox.

See, one of the arguments used by Creationists is that everything in the universe apparently needs to be caused by something else. Things don’t just happen out of nothing, there’s always a “cause and effect”. This means that, if the universe ever had a start at all, HOW it could start seems impossible to explain. There has to have been to be a First Event, that was not caused by anything at all, and that should be impossible.

“Science has solved that with the Big Bang”, the claim is made.

But it’s untrue.

In fact, the Big Bang hypothesis brings focus on the very power of the Prime Mover paradox. It appears to have the whole universe go back to a single point, but then does nothing to explain why it was AT that point in the first place. There is no way to explain why the potential for the vacuum fluctuation that (maybe) produced the Big Bang existed in the first place.

If the Creator of the universe were a timeless Christian god, perhaps that’s what caused the Big Bang. Sadly for science, this makes as much sense as anything the mainstream cosmologists have proposed to start it, so far*.

When people stick to the rules of hard science, they have an absolute right to say “see, this produces sounder results and more verifiable Truth than religion”, when it does. The problem is that modern “scientists” quite often are NOT. They don’t stick by those rules, and therefore earn the disdain that people heap on them.

Oh, and let’s not forget that I’m using the criteria of real science to argue this. Among the people who agree with me are Einstein, a Scientific Realist who opposed the instrumentalist pseudoscience of modern quantum physics, Schroedinger, whose famous cat experiment was intended to mock unscientific physics, and the father of modern hard science, Karl Popper whom Stephen Hawking is paraphrasing in his quote, above.

Next time some horrified Discovery Channel /NPR pundit moans quaveringly that “a majority of Americans don’t even believe in science over religion”, or the downright sneering at global warming claims, remember that this is as much the fault of the supposed scientists breaking their own rules, as anything else.

_________________

Superstring hypotheses say the Big Bang is just the collision of “branes” (think membranes) in a much larger, more complex 10+ dimensional universe. But, while this provides the closest thing to a Unified Theory, it’s mostly ignored by the mainstream cosmologists. And, anyway, it does nothing to explain why the whole multiverse exists in the first place.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Philosophy, Religion, Science | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Why Don’t We Waterboard Criminals?


The original version of this article, with the horrifying, graphic depictions of neocons in their natural habitat, is here.

The neocons have been making a big deal of how waterboarding and other “psychological” tormenting of prisoners is not actually torture, unless you cause permanant, serious harm or death.

They also say that we GAIN things by using these “harsh interrogation techniques”, so that makes it OK:

The End Justifies the Means.

Well, yes, that is a Marxist/socialist slogan, which has produced millions of deaths and more suffering than any other idea in history.

And sure, real Conservatives spend their lives fighting against the End Justifies the Means philosophy…but we’re talking about neocons, RiNOs. The Neocon movement originates with self-described Trostyites, which is why they still have most of the underlying Marxist mindsets.

Anyway, I’m wondering why we’re wasting this technicality, in our own justice system.

Why Not?

 

If we can harm suspected terrorists in case it might make us safer, why not suspected criminals?

Protect Us from Criminals

Why not waterboard a possible serial killer, and then flush his bible (don’t ask me why so many psychopaths are strongly religious) down the toilet, in order to find out who he’s killed?

Why not strip an accused child molester naked, have women laugh at him, leave him in a forty degree room (still nude) all night with no sleep, in order to find out whether he did, and to whom?

These things are not torture, and anyway they are justified because we profit from them.

The neocon talk show hosts, and surviving neocon politicians (vote carefully, next primary) will quickly protest “but the 8th amendment bans that”. Apparently, interrogation can be cruel and unusual, yet not be torture, even though many court cases citing the 8th amendment actually bandy about the T-word interchangably.

But then we need only use a constitutional amendment to revoke this man-made priveledge.

Or why even bother…why not pass a law suspending the citizenship of anyone accused of a serious crime? And then rent space in an Indian/riverboat casino to conduct the Harsh Interrogation off of US soil?

Frankly, I need the neocons to answer the question, at that point, because I don’t see how their Philosophy of Cowardice could but DEMAND that we do this, in order to have greater safety from murder and rape.

Why Not

 

But I can explain why, to an actual Conservative, classic liberal, or any other decent human being, we must not “harshly interrogate” criminals.

We should probably set aside basic human decency versus evil, because if you don’t get THAT reason, then you probably never will. 

Rights

Let’s start with that 8th amendment:

Yes, it (and a number of other parts of the Constitution) prohibit “harsh interrogation”.

But they do not grant a man-made priveledge  only to Americans, that you can suspend with some Clintonian wordplay, the way the neocons and other socialists argue.

In fact, the 8th amendment protects a Natural Right. You, I, and any other sapient being are BORN with a right to freedom of speech, religion, self-protection, and many other choices, including not to be tortured without our consent.

The Founders knew this, and said specifically they were only mentioning certain rights in the Constitution to keep future sociopaths from finding excuses to violate them…but that ALL natural rights were still to be universally protected.

So using some technicality to violate those rights would not magically make them go away. Torturing the criminal would still be wrong.

And remember, “universally protected”: The Founders did not believe that those natural rights only apply to Americans. That wouldn’t be very “natural”.

They simply did not have the power to force the French government to protect natural rights. But they intended the protections to apply against the Federal government of the US, which was what the Constitution created and limited. 

So when the Federal government violates the rights of a foreigner, it is absolutely against the spirit of the Founders. Something, once again, a Conservative understands, but a Marxist-cum-neocon does not. That, obviously, includes torturing them, as well as censorship and the many other violations the Bush administration committed against foreigners, showing themselves not to be Conservative at all, just neocons.

Principles

When people try to justify evil means, because the end is desirable, they are like a child who wants to spend his money on candy now, instead of saving it so they have enough to eat supper later.

This is because the “end” is always something short-sighted. You are giving up the thing that causes more good in the long run, the investment, in order to get a quick fix, the instant gratification.

Short-sighted is not always short-term:

Perhaps you’re going to kill ten million people now, so that in a generation your empire is small enough to feed itself. Ask Stalin and Mao about that. But you’re still abandoning the principles (everyone has a right to determine his own life) that makes society stable and healthy in the big picture. Even “easy way to feed the next generation” is short-sighted, if you’re murdering to do it.

So violating people, no matter what euphamism we use, brings harmful, evil precedents into our society. The REAL, long-term end is violated, even the safety that the neocons pretend to value above all else. 

We cannot let government officials torment suspected criminals, because we are setting a precedent of condoning that evil behavior. If it’s OK to non-torture molesters and mass murderers, then why not rapists? How about people who stole, and still have hidden, the life savings of elderly people? Regular investors? Tax cheats?

Not protecting your principles makes the slippery slope, sometimes a fallacy, become real — nearly inevitable.

This is why we throw out ANY evidence gotten in violation of the Constitution or our natural rights.

And it’s why letting our government ever violate natural rights is wrong.

The very minimum standard for how we treat foreigners should be “Would we tolerate treating an American, who accused of a crime, this way?”

May 8, 2009 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monkeys Don’t Kill People; Xanax Does


Which is more responsible for the isolated incident of a lady being mauled by a chimp...this pigmy marmoset, or the drug the chimp was taking, that is known to cause violent aggression?

Which is more responsible for the isolated incident of a lady being mauled by a chimp...this pigmy marmoset, or the drug the 200 lb ape was taking, that is known to cause violent aggression?

You’ve probably heard, in tedious detail, about the chimp, Travis, who ripped the face off some old lady.

What’s creepy about this story, more than it sounding like people are keeping pets that can kill them (as can horses and dogs), is the way power-hungry politicians are exploiting it, contextually lying, in order to pass unconstitutional laws we’d otherwise never tolerate.

The facts of the story are that a 200 lb chimp, who’d been raised as if a child by some woman who strikes me as emotionally akin to a “cat lady“, was secretly given the drug Xanax in his tea. Yes, she fed him tea. A few minutes later, he freaked out and bolted outside. When the lady’s friend, who apparently had a new hairstyle rendering her a “stranger”, showed up to help, Travis attacked her.

You may have noticed a detail that’s not normally mentioned, above. Travis was given a mood-altering drug, of which he was unaware.  Xanax is a drug that is used to control people’s minds, but it has a well-documented “paradoxical” side effect of sometimes causing people to fly into insane rages, becoming violent and aggressive.

In fact, experts say that Xanax may very well have been the cause of the rampage. Why did journalists mostly ignore this detail? Who knows…perhaps it’s because they’re so likely to be under mood control drugs, themselves. /shrug

Now even people who know they’re taking that drug, and that it may cause them to become criminally aggressive, can be driven to act nuts by it…imagine some animal that doesn’t even know there’s a drug involved (probably doesn’t even understand the concept), who is being drugged.

I wouldn’t want to be around a collie or retriever who’d been driven mad by drugs, nor riding a horse in such a state.

So what’s the response of Big Brotherment to this incident?

Why, to ban the sale of ALL PRIMATES, of course.

Yes, that’s right; they are passing a ban on the sale of 1 inch long mouse lemurs, and all other primates, because some idiot prescribed a drug drug that can cause violent rages, to a 200 lb chimp.

If we were actually going to try to pass some over-reaching law to retroactively prevent this laughably rare, even isolated incident, surely it’d be something like “you can’t give huge apes drugs that might make them insane”, or even a ban on mood-control drugs entirely, which would be a loss ONLY insofar as prohibition is bad.

The truth is, of course, that one of the most vile things politicians do is try to pass laws based on single incidents. The already-suicidal chick who killed herself after someone else’s mom mocked her online has spawned a host of vile laws that are already being extended to speech outside their original intent, for example. Or the crazy Brady Law, that effectively banned only weapons that were not using in the shooting of its namesake. Or the ridiculous “security” measures set up after 9-11, that do zero to actually prevent future terror attacks. How, precisely, will you hijack a jumbo jet with nail clippers and a four ounce sippy cup?

Of course such laws are almost never passed by people who care about the incident at hand.  They’re dishonest people who are actually attempting to forward some agenda of their own. In the case of Representative Blumenauer, author of the primate ban, he’s apparently one of those “pets are slaves” PETA nut-jobs, who has openly said that reptiles are next on his list of ban victims.

What we need, really, is fewer laws, not more of them. Banning the sale of lemurs so small that they’re are in danger of being eaten by mice, in response to the drugging of a man-sized ape, seems like one of those “Romans got brain damage from lead-lined aquaducts, and then things all went to hell” moments.

Representative Blumenauer appears to think these baby monkeys are a choking hazard.

Representative Blumenauer appears to think these baby monkeys should be banned as a choking hazard.

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Super-Sizing Sour Grapes


What Americans have, even in the midst of an economic depression, is an embarrassment of riches.

When the citizens of other countries complain that Americas eat too much, what they are really saying is “We are jealous of America’s plentiful food”; Despite (or because of) all their redistributive, anti-choice socialist programs, the typical European has less access to food, in diversity or amount, than even the poorest fifth of Americans. Maybe nobody in Europe goes hungry, but they don’t really prosper, either.  (facebook readers beware; the rest of the article is after the picture, don’t ask me why that happens)

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.</b>

A Fox found a bunch of grapes, on a vine over a lofty branch. Turning round with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no success. At last he had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour, anyway." MORAL: It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

And when they say “Americans are too fat”, what they mean is “Americans are more affluent”. Americans don’t need to walk as much, or otherwise engage in as much involuntary physical labor. Even poor Americans have more comfortable homes, more access to cars, more video games and computers, infinitely better television, more leisure, even without the Europeans’ governments forcing them to suffer the pay cut imposed by a mandatory six week vacation every year. 

Of course their response to this being pointed out is “more leisure? More entertainment? More living space? Bah! What kind of horrible way of measuring quality of life! People must be equal, not happy, you dirty materialist!” And yet, of course, everything about socialism is materialistic, an endless class war of envy and hate, worrying about who has more than whom, redistributing wealth, controlling our choices. That is the reason Marxists called it the Materialist Dialectic.

But it turns out that socialism traps people in stagnancy and perpetual shortages, while freedom allows people to have many more things. So, naturally, the actual materialists had to turn around and claim that prosperity is “decadent”, and “greedy”. How it can be more greedy than wanting to redistribute other people’s money for oneself, I don’t know.

Americans have a tendency to be hard workers. They are, statistically, the most productive society on the planet…but people, in general, who have access to more food and more leisure have to learn how to balance that with the need to choose to maintain physical fitness. Even if Americans, as a society, do learn that, the percentage of individuals who do not will still drag down the “average”.

An embarrassment of riches is a wonderful problem to have. “Oh no, too many people want to date me!” “Oh woe, I’ve grown so many tomatoes, I must give them away!” “Pitty me: now that I’ve won the lottery, people keep asking me for money!”

Who would seriously choose a life of more hunger, less choice, and more involuntary struggle over one where they need to choose to struggle a bit to stay in good physical condition?

In tests, lab animals that go somewhat hungry live longer. This probably is true of people as well…but what benefit is the added life, if it’s a result of being forced to do with less? 

We’re better off being faced with the need to control how much to work out, to watch our diet, et cetera, than being lean because we haven’t the chance to be flappy even if we were irresponsible. To be free to choose whether to life short, fat, comfortable lives, or strive for longer, healthier lives.

Some of us will chose wrong…but that isn’t necessarily limited to the ones who choose leisure. 

For some people, the effort may make life less worthwhile. For others, the working to “stay fit” might actually be more fun, as well as healthier. 

Americans are free to choose, whereas the victims of socialism in the rest of the world have what is supposedly best forced upon them “for your own good”, in a one-size-fits-all solution. People are better off being free to determine their own size.

That’s why even the most enlightened, economically and socially homogeneous European country still has more citizens wishing to become Americans, than Americans (despite our larger population) wishing to move to that country.

The price of choice, is the risk of mistakes. Even life-altering ones. But, overall, the benefit far outweighs the cost.

Americans can be proud to have the freedom that allows us the prosperity to choose whether to supersize their meals. The reason the rest of the world complains, ultimately, is that they are deprived of even the option. They have super-sized Sour Grapes.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Economy, Family, International, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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