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Be Careful What You Ask For 

I never knew so much vilification could be rained down on one living man before, but wow, Donald Trump will surely have some sort of “most hated” title to go down in history.  Vlad The Impaler, Ghengis Khan, Tamerlane, Attila, Lorenzo D’Medici, Torquemada, Ivan the Terrible, these were all pikers compared to Trump.  Hitler was a Boy Scout and Stalin was a choir boy by comparison.  Wow, c’mon now, get a grip… he isn’t even in office yet.

What is equally fascinating is the litany of brutal social media posts all seeming to encourage and push him and his new administration toward a galaxy class failure.  Well, as many know I did not support and did not vote for the man but… but … regardless of your fondest desires, boys and girls, he is the next president.  You have tried every ploy in the book now even cooking up sordid allegations but you know what?  It doesn’t matter.  By the rules of the game he won fair and square.  The bizarre attempt to get the entire electoral college to go rogue failed miserably.  Accept it, he is the next President.

So why are you all clamoring for him to fail?  Remember when Obama was elected (I didn’t vote for him either) how you were all exercised about the idiots hoping for his failure?  You were right, they were idiots; like or loathe the president we are in this, as citizens, together and the president’s failure is our failure as well.  So why is it now OK to hope for Trump’s failure?

Let’s stipulate, for purposes of this discussion, that all of the terrible things said about him are true.  It doesn’t change a thing and isn’t going to, despite all of the last minute shenanigans.  Good guy, bad guy, idiot, or savant, he enters a world about which there is little disagreement among close international observers as to how dire it really is.  Consider this:

We live in a world at a time where geopolitically it is more dangerous than at any time since the Soviet Union failed.  ISIS is now a full-fledged Army with the avowed goal of wiping out the west and all infidels and apostates and ushering in a new world Caliphate.  We push them out of one city only to watch helplessly while they take over another.  Iran has the avowed goal of destroying the Jewish State and, while they are at it, the “Great Satan,” which is us.  They even have been busy with their new uranium from the Russians (bought with our hostage money), creating plans for a HEMP (High altitude Electro-Magnetic Pulse) explosion that would fry our grids (plural) and most of the electronic devices across the U.S.  (However the same result could be achieved by taking out under a score of selected transmission sites manually by conventional explosives and operatives on the ground.)  Then while we quickly descend into chaos killing and eating each other in the dark their sponsored terrorists can make short work of us in the name of Allah.  China is taking over the South China Seas even creating new islands and militarizing them while working hard at building a huge modern navy ignoring UN complaints.  North Korea is boasting ballistic missile capability and a desire to fire one at us and laughing at the UN.  And Russia itself under a leader who seems to want to be the next Peter The Great is expanding into neighboring states and thumbing its nose at world complaints.

Economically, chaos is also just over the horizon.  The Chinese currency has been accepted into the basket of currencies for the IMF’s “special drawing rights” as reserve currency for international trade in furtherance of a goal to devalue the dollar already weakened with unrestrained printing.  If the dollar’s value drops sufficiently then those holding debt from us will want repayment and maybe NOT in dollars.  China is already divesting of dollars in trade for gold   And speaking of the debt, at now almost $20 Trillion (it doubled in the last administration) it would take over $168,000.00 from each taxpayer in the country to repay it.  How likely do you think that is?  Really?

In any case, to pay taxes we must have jobs to create taxpayers.  The government loves to point out that fewer people are filing for unemployment.  Who cares?  That is not the real measure; it just tells us few people are applying.  The REAL measure of employment is the Bureau of Labor Statistics on “Labor Participation Rates” that show we have a lower percentage of people who can work and want to work but are employed than at any time since the 1970s.  We have increased the number of people below the poverty level and massively increased the number of food stamps.

Of course the planet is warming up.  Given where we are statistically between glacial periods some scientists ask why isn’t it warmer?  Given precession and wobble of the earth’s orbit we are prey to the sun and its storms which have historically warmed us up dramatically.  Indeed by sheer luck and a few hours of planetary travel through space we barely missed a solar storm that would have engulfed us just recently (making a HEMP explosion seem like a firecracker). But what are we doing?  We’re wasting time arguing about whether the warming is completely natural or completely human caused and who does or does not believe either side.  We will have lots of time to debate that, what we have very little time for (if the worst case predictions come true which is always the safe course to follow ) is preparing for the results if the sea levels do rise dramatically.  As far as I’ve read, only Boston is taking preparations that will channel the water if it rises and even if not will create an attractive feature along a modified waterfront.  California?  Nope.  They’re still arguing over tidal generators and desalinization displacing a few fish along the shore and how to keep water from the farmers in the Central Valley in order to save the Delta Smelt and Snail Darters.  Meantime true believers keep pointing so an alleged consensus of scientists (as if a consensus in science has EVER been an indicator of reality throughout history) that is largely irrelevant especially as other concerns present a far more existential threat to the country in the short term.

Despite the delusion of the left, Trump is walking into a left over and developing quagmire that could well be beyond ANYONE’S ability to fix.  If he fails, especially if he fails on several of those fronts, this country will be in deep trouble, and could perhaps become a true 3rd world country overnight if the power goes down.  So, given all of that, what level of idiocy does it take to root for him to fail?  What special kind of stupid is required to want to see him unable to stabilize any of those issues much less all of them?  What manner of historical, sociological, political, economical, philosophical ignorance is needed to think that if he fails the result of that failure will be better for us and the country than if somehow, even magically, he succeeds?

Whether you hate him or love him, whether you think his is spawn of the devil or a saving angel, whether you think his is any or all of the scurrilous labels that have been applied to him in the time since the election, you sure as Hell better hope he succeeds as president in getting this country back on its feet and strong again. Given the world we are facing I’m not sure any living human could succeed in saving us over the next few years, much less Trump.  But I am hoping against hope that I am wrong.

I wrote back in the mid-1990s that I believed that by the elections of 2012 we had not turned this country back from its current course we would have passed the point of no return on the slide into our eventual downfall, ready to turn the reins over to the next super power, God Help us, because I thought it would be China.  But that was before ISIS found the vacuum it needed to grow into the threat it has become.

However, we did not make that course correction by 2012.  I do not know but that it might be too late or whether, even if we make it now, we can escape the same fate as all the other great civilizations; and for exactly the same reasons.  So whatever I may believe about Trump’s competence or personality or psychology or intellect, I have no option but to hope he can pull it off, succeed as president and get this country back on track.

Obama said, in his farewell address, there is no greater title than Citizen of the U.S.  I happen to agree with that statement.  And I think our duty, as citizens, is to put the animosity of the election behind us and try to work together at least civilly to help our new president succeed.  That means we have to remind him when we think he is off track, but it also means we have to support him when he actually seems to be making things improve.  And we must learn to do both in a respectful manner likely to appeal to those we seek to persuade rather than simply drive the wedges between us deeper.

No one individual is either all good or all bad, and certainly that is also true of any collective or humans including political parties.  If we cannot objectively see the bad things our guy is doing and work to correct it, but also see the good thing their guy is doing and work to help support it, then we  do not deserve the title of Citizen.

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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Future of Conservatives is not in Changing Principles but in Changing their Application.

San Diego — Following the results of the 2012 elections, there seems to be panic in the ranks of Republicans.  How, they ask and rightly so, can a failed president whose every promise was not kept including unemployment numbers, GDP numbers, debt reduction numbers, ALL OF THEM worse than when he took office, have so soundly beaten the GOP candidate who was a successful businessman?

Hand wringing, blame laying, all are happening to the amusement of the liberals who are opining that there is an impending “civil war” among Republicans and that the party is as out of touch with reality as the Whig party was when it collapsed of its own obsolescence.  But is all of it, including the obituaries for conservatives, deserved or justified? In the aftermath of the election, spurred on by questions from several friends, I’ve given it a lot of thought.

In the process I have re-read (for the umpteenth time) the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (which I believe need to be treated as a necessarily conjoined set of documents).   I’ve re-read some of the important documents from our history and our founders including those of Locke, Burke, Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Adams (both of them), Hamilton, Franklin, Lee, Henry, and down to Lincoln.  Those are the patriarchs Conservatives claim as foundational authorities so have to be consulted to review the situation properly.

I’ve spent the last few days digging into my library of books by and about those (to me) visionaries.  It has been enlightening.  The result is I think in far too many cases, so-called Conservatives have failed to live under and up to the teachings of those founders they claim to revere.

First it has to be understood that there is a HUGE difference between the main-stream Republican Party and the core “Conservative” principles.  I tend now to agree that the Republican Party, as it has come to be, is a dinosaur whose extinction days are passed and it just hasn’t caught on.

While the Democrats pine for a world of the future that, despite a number of serious attempts, has never successfully existed, the Republicans (note I did NOT say “Conservatives”) pine for a world of the past that too, never existed and if it did, it was long ago and for a very short time.  Both parties fondly embrace a world view that succeeds only for the delusional or the blind partisan, a view that refuses to see, much less accept the world as it now is and as it has historically (in fact not fantasy) existed and evolved into the present.

I do not think that facing reality as it is, not as we want it to be, is inconsistent with being Conservative.  It is the core ethics and principles of the founders that we hold close, not the way some have applied (or misapplied) those principles in political environments that differ substantially and critically from the political environment today, nor, for that matter, how even the founders themselves had to apply them in THEIR reality and with their knowledge level of the world and even of their own country.

To avoid the fact that our world, in nearly all respects, is a very different place by nearly every possible measurement than it was 50 years ago, much less in the 1700s; or to assert that even a genius such as Jefferson, could, from the knowledge base and reality of the late 1700s, accurately have predicted the world of the 21st century is also simply delusional.  Technology and geopolitical events are pushing us so rapidly that this is not even the world of Kennedy or Reagan. (I link those two names because Reagan was a Kennedy Democrat who actually never changed his philosophy and whose speeches were vintage JFK.  It was the party that changed.)

But if, due to a world in evolution or even revolution, the application’s needs have changed, must we also change the principles?  This is a crux and unavoidable question.  If it turns out that we cannot learn and adjust those core principles to demonstrate their application to OUR world, then there are only two explanations possible: They do not apply anymore or we are simply not yet able to see the answers.  Or, a third possibility, we see them and will not accept them.

Speaking for myself, I believe they DO apply and that the explanation for our poor application and articulation is in our own shortsightedness, not in shortfalls of the principles themselves.

We don’t even have to like all of the changes this new world has laid in our laps – change is always painful and avoided as long as possible — but we do have to acknowledge those changes and face them as a new and powerful reality that must be accommodated by and within our principles or they will crush us under the weight of the changing world.  As Will Rogers said, “Even if you are on the right track, if you just sit there you will get run over!”

So what changes are influencing this discussion?  One of the big ones, in some ways perhaps the most important one because unlike anal discussions of policies (which OUGHT to be the focus) it is highly visible and highly emotional in its impact, is a change in the national and regional demographics on several counts.

For one thing, it is noteworthy that the numbers of people of Hispanic origin are making up an increasing portion of our population and cannot be ignored in a political sense.  The same is true of an increasing Asian population.  But despite the differences upon which we too often focus, the real question is, are they, by nature, opposed to the core values of conservatives?  I don’t think so.

Hispanic culture is all about families and faith at its core.  No one can watch field workers and claim they do not have a work ethic!  Good grief, it is a powerful work ethic that will take them to strange lands, abusive environments, and truly back-breaking labor just to feed a family and try to elevate their status in one of the few countries where that is still possible.  What they want is opportunity and a fair shake.  If conservatives fail to grasp that, they are being idiotic and self-destructive.  And much can be noted similarly about refugees or immigrants from Asian countries.

It is true that the political cultures from which they are fleeing often were ones deeply rooted in patronage and corruption.  But those are not core values and most Hispanic and Asian people come here to get away from it.   We ought to understand and embrace their plight and then seek ways to make it work so that they will become, like my father-in-law was, a rabidly patriotic naturalized citizen.

But it is not as easy as simply opening the border to all that would like to come here.  Our economy is in a very rocky state and I think, following the election, it is bound to get far, far worse before it gets better.  To deny that immigration is linked to an effect on the economy in both good and bad potential ways is to exhibit both historical and economical naïveté.   If we cannot protect our borders and set immigration rules as the Constitution mandates then we really do not have a country at all.  I know some would prefer that, including our leader, but I personally do not.

A nation, a people, a country is defined by borders, language and culture.  That is certainly how the rest of the world’s countries define themselves so why should we exclude ourselves?  Still, no one can deny that our immigration policies are a shambles and that they neither protect us from the bad guys nor aid the good guys in coming on in.  Consequently I think it is a very Conservative view to push for immigration reform and acknowledgement of the good guys who have come here to better themselves and contribute to our prosperity while working to get the system under control.

But, and in this regard this is a critical question, have we as a people, much less we who claim to hold to Conservative Principles, become so dumbed down that we are incapable of recognizing both sides of the issue as having legitimate points; incapable of finding the common ground that will allow a solution even if it is, as are all solutions settled by humans, imperfect?

And immigration was not the only problem for our side.   Why on earth did we allow ourselves to be viewed as on one side or the other of issues of sexual orientation?  Jefferson said if it was not “breaking his leg or picking his pocket” he could deal with it.  Regardless of any personal views on homosexuality, it is a fact of life and, of more importance to this discussion, an increasingly active political bloc.   In and of itself it does not threaten violence or theft of my person or any of my rights (or any of yours) so what has some of us so intransigent and terrified of it?

Our choices are simple:  to slam the door on them because we may think they are lost to eternity and God hates them, and in so doing make of them a dangerous enemy force, or to re-examine the principles we say we hold dear and find a way to accommodate their numbers in our tent.  I think the latter is a better approach.

Being in my business I’ve known and worked with LOTS of openly homosexual folks: some were true salt of the earth types I trusted totally and liked very much and others were jerks I thoroughly disliked.  But I never noticed that dichotomy to be lacking in the straight world too… and I did NOT notice it being something predicated by a person’s orientation or life style.

And even if some of our ranks believe God hates them individually because of their orientation, that is an issue between God and them; it is NOT between us and them.  “Judge not lest ye be judged!” goes the Biblical directive.  If there is indeed a theological component to our side then why are some of us not adhering to their own text’s directive?  We need to get that entire discussion OUT of politics and leave it where it belongs: between an individual and their own conscience and belief system.   We need not prohibit it, but we also need not facilitate it.  Government should be silent on it.

I confess, I have a simple but strong semantic issue with what to me is a contradiction in terms: “Same Sex Marriage.”  But upopn serious reflection I realize that is because it affronts the language and definitions by which I was raised.  However I also study history and the truth is that the definition of marriage as I was taught to understand it, has but rarely been the definition used across the ages and across cultures.

And the big point is, to lose a powerful block that as seekers of individual rights ought to be flocking to a conservative tent, but are being driven away over a word, and a word of historically fairly recent re-definition at that, is truly cutting off our nose to spite our face!  And in the end does not solve ANY problem and simply leaves us disfigured.

The same can be said for any minority group even if that status exists only in their own mind.  Just as WE hate to be painted with the brush of association colored by the idiots in our own groups, we should not be painting their whole collection of possible voters with the same brush we use for the jerks and idiots that also share their skin color or gender or place of origin or whatever they use to set themselves apart from the main collection of Americans.  To do so, in my opinion, does violence to the principles we claim to hold dear.

Jefferson wrote that we were endowed with certain unalienable rights, rights not granted by government but by our creator, meaning, even to atheists, rights inherent in the human spirit regardless of where they came from.  But if we allow those rights to be limited by definitions that ONLY exist due to theological authority, then we are violating our own sacred Constitution.  I cannot help that the use of the term bothers me, but I CAN help what I do about it based on my reading of history and the words of the founders, comfortable or not.

We are supposed to see people as individuals not just through the filter of whatever group we can easily toss them into.  It is the other side that forces group separation and identification in order to create group dependence.  We are not supposed to be forcing group identification so that we can create group exclusions.  In fact, we are not supposed to be facilitiating much less forcing group identification at all!

Conservatives are supposed to treasure the individual and individual rights.  But that is not what unfortunately too many of our political side do.  And they do their hypocritical deeds and speeches vocally and stridently.  So how is it any wonder that members of those targeted groups, already looking for some, any excuse to cast stones in our direction, see us as haters and bigots and to be opposed at every turn when we play into the other side’s perfectly laid traps.

From our own ranks we too often spout psychology from before even the dawn of Freud and pseudoscience from the dawn of man and wonder why people will not flock to our standard.  No matter how impeccable the logic, if it flows from a faulty premise the result is not viable.

We should be the party of dynamic powerful women who make up half our population and probably more than half of our brainpower.  How can we exhort the undefined individual to be all they can be and yet still be OK with people wanting to pay women less for equal work?  Or still wanting to control stuff that is none of our, or the government’s business?

We have not had someone sufficiently articulate to simply explain that to us, equal pay for equal work is the same as equal work for equal pay — what is fair is fair.  Nor have we been able to articulate that it is not that we are saying they cannot have an abortion if that passes muster with them, their faith, and whatever other influences are in their life, we are simply saying we don’t want to pay for their choices… so long as it IS truly a choice.  I do not think (with EXTREMELY RARE and anamalous exceptions) that rape is ever a woman’s choice.  And the idiot that proposed a long outdated and invalidated theory that women cannot get pregnant if they don’t want to should have been tarred and feathered by every Conservative to hear of their idiocy if we want to show women we are on their side.

But again, government should be OUT of the abortion issue, out of the contraception issue, out of the bedroom entirely.  Just as it has no business prohibiting it, it has no business facilitating it either.

We focus on the parasites and self-proclaimed victims of our society, and God knows we obviously have more than enough of them; facilitated and perhaps perpetuated by the liberal world in an attempt to create a sufficiently powerful voting block of dependent personalities needing their “fix” of goodies at the government trough.  We look disparagingly at those who leapt at takers of house loans no one marginally sentient could have thought were likely to be repaid, and I think that scrutiny is proper and needs to root such activities out of existence because of its contribution to our current economic situation.

But in high-centering on that negative bunch of wanton losers, we overlook the poor wretches who have truly been blind sided by life through no real fault of their own.  Or worse, we lump them in with the losers.  We need to review our thinking to be able to recognize not only those against whom their physical or mental state of health has conspired, but those against whom this unneeded economical disaster has conspired as well.  We focus on the fraudulent and  ignore that in more than a few of the debacles involving home loans, the individual was unsure or uncomfortable with the deal but was pushed into it by overzealous and corrupt agents that claimed to be trustworthy to people unequipped by experience or education to grasp the truth of it.  No one wakes up some morning and wants to be physically or mentally sick or wants to lose their jobs, much less their homes, due to economic downturns or fraudulent sellers.

There are therefore, people in our society who are suffering through minimal or no fault of their own and as a generous people we have a duty to help them. Don’t read into this something that isn’t here: i did not say they had a RIGHT to our help, I said we have a duty to help them and that is a very different thing. The question is what institution should be in charge of that help. Should it come, for example, from the individual and/or private organizations dedicated to the task, or from the government dedicated to creating dependencies to assure re-election and the continuance of power?

If we, as Conservatives, truly believe it is the former, and we have any expectation of convincing those concerned about social justice that we are right, then we need to demonstrate that as best we can and also demonstrate and articulate how it is working to actually provide that help and, further, that it is working better than the government can do.  And even if we decided that the best collection point of monies for charitable use was via the government, who on earth can argue that government bureaucracy is likely to administer it best? You have to live in some parallel universe to believe that.  From the Post Office to FEMA to the state’s DMV, who can point to a single governmental “business” that is run more efficiently and productively than is done as a private business?

So yes, I think our side needs to make some major changes in the application of the principles they claim to hold dear, especially in how they interact with the rest of our citizenry.  They need to show that they actually believe in and mean to uphold the principles they espouse and the documents and texts they cite as authority whether it is the Constitution or some sacred text.

If Conservatives will do that, and both articulate and demonstrate them well, then we can show the other side for the disingenuous, dependency creating charlatans they are.   And THEN we can get to a discussion of the real issues and policies upon which an election ought to turn because we have taken the warm and fuzzy off of the table by the simple expedient of solving it.

But if we can’t – or won’t – adapt, then we will go the way of the Whigs and Tories and justifiably so.   And if that happens, it will be because all of those despicable labels hurled at us will have enough reality to them to stick and crush us.

And if we continue to let enough of the jerks in our ranks act like stupidly and callously… and get away with unacceptable comments or actions just because they are holding our banner… then by facilitating the hatred and bigotry, whether or not we individually share in it, we will surely deserve the results.  I believe those rotten apples are comparatively few in numbers but it doesn’t take very many of them under the heat of the media’s spotlight, to result in spoiling the barrel for us all.

The problem is I believe those devastating, perhaps catastrophic results for our country, results that I believe are facilitated by and sometimes pushed by Liberals as noted in previous posts, results that i believe will be so onerous in the end for all citizens as the U.S.A. slides toward the necropolis of history, will have to be laid at OUR feet because we were the ones that could have stopped it and chose, rather, fettered by a minority collection of individual weaknesses rather than freed by a majority collection of individual strengths, to stab our own principles in the heart.

And who could ever be proud of that?

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Sheeple Have Spoken

San Diego – Well, the good news is that it is over.  The lies and misinformation that dripped moment by moment from the politicians as they sought to outdue each other in the amount of venom and vitriol they could spew at the other side has been spent and they will have another few years to recharge their reservoirs of political bile.

The end came, unfortunately, too late for me to retain respect for some of my acquaintances who did not just fall into but rather flung themselves full bore into the hateful, distasteful, and often idiotic fray of yet more bumper-sticker intelligence and cartoon level thinking about issues that were incredibly important on a scale broader, obviously now, than their self serving, simplistic, often one-issue intellects could grasp.

And make no mistake, that preamble is aimed in ALL political directions.  The real issues that face us now and will face us in the near future as a nation were all but ignored by both sides as they sought simply to smear each other with the offal they could only be obtaining by scraping it of off themselves.  Both winning and losing sides studiously avoided a confrontation on truly critical issues of national importance.  The winning side did so because they had no standing to claim a shred of integrity or sincerety had they attempted to enter that arena and the losing side did so for reasons totally obscure to me but which could not be all that flattering.

And in the end, we, as a nation, got not what we needed (and probably could not have extracted from either side) but what we most likely deserve and what most likely will be the first major move down the path toward those “step” or “stage” changes prophesied by historians and political philosophers from Polybius to Marx I spelled out in a previous post.

Some of you old timers may recall that years ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s I predicted that by the time of this election, we would set our nation on a path to reclaiming the shining example to the world our founders gave us or down the road to ruin retracing the same path and for the same reasons previous great civilizations took to their ultimate demise as virtual centers of the world in terms of geo-political importance and economies.  I hoped it would not happen in my lifetime but now, I am sad to say, I think I have lived to see it.

I have now seen the parasitical class out-vote the productive class.  It was bound to happen sooner or later but I truly had hoped it would be a lot later.  I have now seen those who believe they are entitled to the fruits of the labors of others out-vote those remaining few who think they are entitled only to what they can produce and accomplish themselves.  I have seen now those who believe that if there must be some consequence for their actions and behaviors, it is OTHERS who should bear it and not themselves out-vote those who believe  we should all bear the consequences for our own actions and behaviors.

Unfortunately, those feelings of entitlement and social justice have an economic impact.  Of course it does not — or in their minds, should not impact them because it is the others that are expected to pay “their fair share” when some pay nothing at all.  But as the Iron Lady said, pretty soon that approach runs out of “other people’s” money.   Certainly we have run out of our own as a country.

If that were not so we would not have a $16 Trillion dollar debt and be in immediate need of asking to borrow more.  You cannot claim to be solvent and yet require – REQUIRE – additional borrowing just to meet your liabilities.  And the result is each child now alive will be saddled with over ¼ million dollars in personal debt to the country if it is EVER to be settled.

Of course under the new order set in motion at the polls last night it cannot ever be repaid.  Why not?  Here’s a heretical idea, look at the logic.  It is simple Aristotelian logic and not complex at all.  Here are the premises…

  1. The only way to create sustainable revenue to the government is via increases in national productivity.
  2. National productivity is a function of jobs, solid jobs that create the majority of the goods and services needed so that the balance of trade can remain favorable.  And it is those employees who, if the winners of last night are to be believed, carry the major tax burdens and whose taxes keep the ship of state afloat.  So from all standpoints an increase in the productive workforce is mandatory for any sort of national recovery.

    However…

  3. The world that could easily employ lots of unskilled labor is dying at a rapid pace.  Today’s solid jobs depend on skill-sets and knowledge not dreamed of when I was just entering the work force.
  4. The only institution that can properly prepare future workers with those needed skill-sets is education.
  5. The only institutions that can hire and retain those workers, assuming the existence of requisite skill sets are businesses and corporations.

But…

  1. What institution is designated as the first to receive cuts due to those same budget problems that are claimed do not exist?  Education.
  2. What institutions are designated as the whipping boys for all the unfair ills around and so throttled with tax and regulation burdens to limit or stifle their productivity?  Businesses and corporations.

Is not the disconnect apparent to you?  Are you following any of this or am I going too fast and using words that are too big?  The answer has to be that no, you are not following this or the election results would have been different.

Luckily I am an old guy.  My “future” is well behind me and the truth is I had a very good run at it.  In my opinion we took the first big step over the edge last night but we have so much inertia going that even a dedicated transformer like our president cannot undo us overnight.  It will take a little while.  So I may never live to see it all utterly fall apart.

But my students will and I am sorry for them.  They will never see the America I saw as a youth; a beacon to the world as a place of opportunity and hope for all willing to buy into the culture and work for it.  A major nail was driven in the coffin of that old place last night. Maybe it will be the last nail needed.

But my students were and are among those cheering it all on, pleased at the outcome to savor the flow of entitlements and goodies they expect to come flowing down the government food trough.  So maybe I should not feel sorry for them after all.  They will get the results of the actions they have set in motion; actions and results I do not think can be reversed by the time this term will be over.  And it will be what is deserved.  I do not think they deserve the America that was, the America of dreams and fantastic potential.

(As an aside, yes, I do still think that there is the possibility the technology of efficiently extracting oil from shale noted in my last post will still happen… somewhere.  But having vast oil-based revenues, despite the major growth it has twice allowed in this country, is no guarantee of having things move in the best directions.  Riches do not guarantee a benign government.  Think Saudi Arabia if you do not believe it.  It can also provide the power for a tyrant-in-training to solidify their position by now passing out the goodies even more extensively.  We talk about the best politicians money can buy but the real worry is about the most dependent voters money can buy.)

Anyway…  If I were a national politician this morning, my attitude would be, “OK, you voters made your choice… so be it.  If this is what you want, even though you have no idea what you are asking for, then let it happen and happen quickly.”  Since my own pension and salary are secure as a member of congress, I would give the President everything he wanted with no problems whatsoever.  And make sure who is getting the credit (him) and who will, down the road, deserve the blame.

After all, if we are doomed to pass on through to the next stage, then lets get it over quickly so we can then start setting the ground work to move the cycles rapidly ahead and perhaps the next time we reach the point of wonder and power, we will be able to look back to when we through it all away and see what that cost us.  Perhaps next time we will learn from history rather than ignoring it.

Nah…

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Today’s (and Today’s Only) Stance on the Election

San Diego – As you may have noticed I’ve not added anything here lately.  To be honest I was burned out on what I feel is a nearly pointless activity, that is, trying to get anyone to actually think about it.  And that goal is made all the more difficult when the options to think about are both so far less than ideal as to easily render the whole process pointless.  Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum had it far more together than the options we have allowed ourselves to run for the most powerful job in the world.  Shame on us.

But I was roused a bit once again by a query from my great friend from High School, Gary, asking, following the second debate, what I thought.  And here, with some further editing and thought, is my answer.

I’m still absorbing and processing last night (the second debate between Romney and Obama) and waiting for the next one so my position truly is “in process” in terms of details and announced policies.  My bottom line “for today” is as it has been actually for the past number of elections: I would prefer another choice and will likely end up voting against a candidate rather than for one.

Both seem to have a pretty cavalier attachment to the truth or to the facts on the ground except as it serves their interest.  And that, a characteristic of every politician I can think of, and to our serious and profound discredit as a people as well as possibly our doom as a country, seems to be where we have brought ourselves these days.  But that is an indictment of US more than of them since there have always been sleazy politicians but in the past of some decades ago, the people, even with far less communication and information flow, seemed to be dedicated to seeing through it.

In terms of policies, at least as Romney has annunciated his and Obama has implemented his, I would prefer to individually select and discard policies from both sides far more than to have to live with either in their entirety.   I think we have let the debt/deficit crisis and economic issues go so far that on their own, neither the minimalist or maximalist views of government are, in the short term, practical or likely to succeed getting us over this mess.

There is no medicine for this fiscal illness that it not wretchedly distasteful and without unpleasant side effects of its own.  This cancer has spread so far that the chemo and radiation that will be required will take a serious toll on the host body even if, in the end, it manages to eradicate the disease.  And there is a frightening chance that any really viable medicine will kill the disease but at the same time, kill the patient.  That is the pitiful and pathetic and stupid place we, the people, have allowed ourselves to reach.

There was a time when, had we had people smart enough to continue to “stay the course” walking a tight rope through all of the competing interests influencing policy both domestically and foreign, when I would prefer new policies to be much nearer the minimalist ideal.  TR was perhaps my ideal in that approach; and the last of a breed.

But following first Wilson then FDR then Johnson our government had so changed into a lightly socialist balancing act, that approach grew less and less likely to work all by itself.  As I have written, liberals pine for a world that never existed and conservatives pine for a world long passed on and neither seems willing to truly face squarely the world as it is (or, to be honest, as it seems to me to be).

One item of critical need not even directly mentioned in the Constitution is education.  If Justice Brandeis could fabricate a “right of privacy” out of whole cloth from issues of general welfare, then I think it a much smaller leap to construe the government’s interest in education though it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution either.  With the availability of low tech unskilled jobs evaporating as we watch, the future of this country’s prosperity lies directly in the lap of education.

And no, I do not believe in free education as a right; I see it as a responsibility of each citizen.  But I do believe that in a country where the federal government has essentially usurped form the states the right to oversee education, then it brings upon itself the responsibility to make sure that the education available for the citizens, at least from those institutions it supports and aids, is absolutely top drawer and aimed at preparing students for the world as we see it evolving.

California has demonstrated, however, that education is a priority somewhere near the bottom rung of its ladder of interests.  When money falls short education is the first thing to be cut.  The community colleges are, let’s face it, the bulwark against such rampant unemployment as it is the most used institution to prepare individuals to enter the workplace.  But even in the proposition (30) being pitched to bring money to schools, the actual wording states that of all the money to be generated (assuming some is) only 11 percent is targeted for education and of that 11 percent only 4 percent is targeted for Community Colleges.  And even that can be dipped into if the state feels a need.

If that is how a friend of education implements policies then we have no real need for enemies.

So in the Presidential race, today, and that is the only time frame I can speak to, I am straddling the fulcrum of the balancing board tilting ever so slightly toward the Romney side but only because I sadly believe that there is something malevolent underpinning Obama’s reign; malevolent, that is, toward the notion of America as I believe it was founded.  Were his policies genuinely implemented in the single interests of getting the country back on track then the truth is some very better economic minds than mine have disagreed over it and continue to do so: some would agree with him and some do not.  That means the jury is out and a final position is far from being determined even among those in the discipline that should be able to give us some definitive answers.

But I do not believe his motives are benign or are genuine.  I believe rather that his real interests, as his books state and as he clearly stated before being in the public spotlight, are not in rescuing the country and returning it to a former state of glory but in transforming it into a far different place than I want it to be.

He believes that transformed place to be a good one.  So did Marx.  I do not.

So I will vote against him but on any numerical scale of comparisons, the difference would probably be in very small numbers.

But that vote against Obama should not be construed as a vote FOR Romney or read as if I think Romney’s policies are, in total and exclusively, what it will take to get us back on track.  I simply see Romney as less damaging to our future than Obama.

Partly that is because though I am merely and only slightly tilted toward Romney’s policies economically, I think Obama’s foreign policies will, if continued as they have been, make the world and our corner of it a far more hazardous place.  As critical as our economy is (and it certainly is reaching critical mass for the far more unemployed than Obama will admit to) it is not the only issue of the America facing the 21st century.  I think Obama has ZERO grip on that portion of our interests.   More on that will be revealed, I hope, in the final debate.

The key to our future, in any case, rests less with the presidential outcome than with the outcome of the races for congress and in the composition of the court that will flow from the result of the presidential election.   Or at least it used to.  But Obama has taken the authority upon himself to send the military into acts of war, he has taken it upon himself to determine which lawfully passed laws he will direct his administration to enforce and which to ignore.

I read one of the simpletons on Facebook declare that America would never allow a dictatorship to occur.  What is it of importance about a president openly ignoring and countermanding congress that is missing from the definition of dictator?

The world has seen, though probably not since ancient Greece, that it is possible for a benign dictator to be good for a country.  But the ease with which that slips into abject tyranny is so well documented in history that even if I were comfortable with the specific policies involved in Obama’s usurpation of congressional powers, I could not ever feel at ease with the precedent it sets.

And I simply cannot bring myself to vote for someone who has shown the willingness to act in such direct violation of constitutional authority.  THAT is something I will always vote against even if I happen to agree with the specifics of the policies being enacted, I cannot accept a president assuming such personal power.

So that is where I stand at the moment.  Once again being very angry over having to vote against someone and not for someone.

 

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Labels Are Not Issues!

San Diego — There is a sorry screed from the Daily Kos that is making the rounds on Facebook that basically tries to argue that people opposed to Obama have put their hatreds ahead of their love of country and that those on the right are only motivated by hatred as an inherent component of their philosophies.  I honestly would expect no deeper thinking from writers for that group, but I confess I did expect better from some of my friends and students participating in that vast display of philosophical brilliance masquerading as a social network.

Setting aside for the moment that writers and readers of the Kos Kool-Aid (with apologies to Kool Aid for the association) are so blinded by their partisan biases that it is impossible for them to even conceive of the idea that someone could have analyzed the policies of the administration, compared those to historical ones and the results of them, and decided that it was THOSE POLICIES that were not good for the country, what is really at play is a purposeful substitution of labels for issues.

Calling someone a “Hater” or “Bigot” or any other ad hominem negative is the fall-back debating device of someone who has too poor an understanding of the issues or of the facts surrounding them to discuss them straight up.  And what it does, to avoid a meaningful, educational, serious debate on critical issues — skills with which they have, by engaging in these label-slinging approaches, admitted to being completely unburdened — is to take the focus immediately off of their failure to support their own side and tends, unfortunately, to immediately place it on the person defamed to see how they will defend themselves.  The approach appeals on an emotional level to others equally ignorant of the full story and, better yet, allows them to self-righteously and vicariously join in the fray as if they had some basic clue as to what was at stake and how all the parties and all of the competing philosophies fit into the mix.  They know nothing other than primitive “us and them” verbiage and, in fact, are no less narrow minded, short sighted, small time thinkers, than would be the individuals they accuse of being haters and bigots if they had been correct.

In this day and age of sound-bites and quotes taken completely out of context, the media provides ample fodder for such mental midgets on all sides of the fray… and they do inhabit all sides.  That they would attempt to devolve the discussion to their own inept levels is not surprising; it is a revelation, like swearing, of the extent of their knowledge and vocabulary, and to be expected.  What is surprising is the ease with which individuals I would have thought more intelligent than that, not only fall for it, but, apparently only because it is coming from someone they perceive as a political ally, parrot it as if it had any substantive value or accuracy at all.  That pathetic state of affairs is both surprising and massively disappointing.

All sides seem to agree that this is a critical turning point in our country though they disagree on which direction is good for us.  I agree that this may be one of the most important elections in our history and that the stakes are as serious as any faced in my lifetime.  So we are apparently agreed on something.  Then can we not agree on something else?  Can we not also agree that such a serious situation deserves, perhaps demands from all of us, better thinking than this fatuous labeling?  It demands that we do our deep research into core philosophies and their derivations, into the historical record to see what has worked and what has not and question why things worked or not, and that we apply the results of that inquiry to our discussions?

Serious and even brilliant thinkers over history have disagreed with one another and come to competing conclusions which they have supported vigorously but often without resorting to this sort of intellectual immaturity.

So here is the question that will only be answered by behavior:  have we so completely lost our intellects and ethics that we can only attack each other on such scurrilous grounds?  Have we so devolved from the days of the founders, who also argued passionately for varying approaches to this bold new experiment, that we cannot  take our discussions as seriously as they did?  Has our educational system left us so intellectually impoverished that all we are left capable of doing is shouting ugly names at each other because we truly have no idea what informs the other side or to what conclusions they may have legitimately arrived?

If the participants of this churlish, childish discourse on Facebook are truly examplars of the greater voting populace, then it will not matter who wins: we and our country will all be doomed anyway.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Terms Change but the Issue Remains “Freedom”

San Diego – A few posts ago I showed how virtually all of the “freedoms” we take for granted or which are granted us by the Constitution are really all based on the results of a core freedom, the economic freedom that is attached to the Capitalist economic model.  Whenever and wherever that model is diminished, it comes at the price of some freedom or other.  The question continually then is “What Price Freedom?” or, put another way, how much freedom are you willing to give up for what appears to be (or is described to you as) an economic  benefit.  Are you, for example, willing to give up freedom to be taken care of by the government and not have to worry about supporting yourself?  Clearly, a lot of people are quite ready to make that decision in the affirmative.  Are you?  You are about to get the chance…

Some of you are old enough to remember when, in the presidential elections, in addition to the main stream candidates we also a gaggle of other office seekers including Gus Hall running on the Communist Party Ticket for four unsuccessful tries.  For some reason, lesser known among the “also rans” was Norman Thomas who ran on the Socialist Party ticket for six attempts at the presidency. it was over 40 years ago that Mr. Thomas issued the following boast…

 “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.”

Of course we have had socialist elements in our government since Woodrow Wilson.  A huge leap toward a socialist economy was undertaken by FDR using the crisis of WWII as an excuse and cover.  But the post war euphoria and boom, along with the wide-spread realization of where communism (the upper or later stages of socialist development according to Marx and Lenin) actually took a country due to a fairly clear view of the Soviet Union afforded by the war, its appeal waned as we soaked up the growth and prosperity of a capitalist society.

But memories fade, and a populace softens through generations of wealth and ease.  Remember ‘wealth’ and ‘poverty’ are comparative terms and a person on the poverty level in the US is far better off than middle class citizens in much of the world.  In many of the poorest neighborhoods in the US citizens have a working automobile and TV while in the Soviet Union, even though they made cars, you could not just go into a showroom and buy one and older cars were, as in Cuba, kept, maintained, and treasured since new ones were not available except to the elites.

But even though his economic philosophies have an unbroken history of failure, Marx was right in at least one sense, people have short memories and as soon as a parasitic class arises under the noses of the almost willfully ignorant upper classes, the situation is ripe for a change.  It is my belief that we are at that point right now.  We are being led by a person whose early years were modeled by a father who thoroughly embraced the centrally planned and commanded economy of the pure Marxist-Leninist ideology.  And in adult life he sat for 20 years under the teachings of a theology that taught the fundamentals of victimization and the socialist economical ideas of Marx framed in the more commonly palatable terms of liberalism and progressivism.  He is now using the debt and unemployment crisis for cover for the class conflict rhetoric just as FDR used WWII.

And no, before we go on let me clear the air on this one… I do not believe Obama created the debt crisis; it has been growing for years under several Presidents.  But he certainly has made it far worse and I think that escalation has not been simply a case of mismanagement by a bumbling idiot as some claim, but a carefully thought out strategy to accomplish an end he clearly annunciated but we chose to spin as best suited our own desires, not as he meant it.  We did not take him at his word because the words spoke something untenable so we interpreted them to fit our own needs.  And that was a huge mistake.

The liberals, who are putting all their faith in the Thomas prediction, mask it by calling anyone who uses the term “socialism” some wild-eyed loon or conspiracist. They know exactly what the term means but are relying on the extremely good odds that most of the population does not.  In our TV-drained minds socialism is socialism is socialism and all some thing other countries do, not us.  But that is a fatally flawed view and has never been the case.

From William Godwin, Robert Owen, Henri de Saint-Simon, down through Marx, Engels, Lenin, Wilson, Stalin, FDR, and Mao, the core concept of an economic system in which the means of production are either owned by the state or by the state in common with the citizens and are controlled cooperatively (meaning the State has a role in the command and control of the various means of production) has been expanded into various flavors from pure Marxist-Leninist, to even a variant known as libertarian socialism.  Most differ primarily in the degree of cooperation between the government and the people in controlling the means of production.  But most modern versions fall into one of two camps (or some blending of the two: “State Socialism” and “Social Democrats.”.

Those favoring “State Socialism” are in favor of the State owning and operating all of the means of production. However, those calling themselves “Social Democrats” favor public (read, “government”) control of capital and the means of production but within the broad outlines of a market-based economy.  That system, sometimes called “Market Socialism” includes various economic systems where the means of production and resulting capital are publicly owned, managed and operated for a profit in a market economy. The difference between that and capitalism is that capitalists prefer private ownership of production and the profit in a market socialist system would be used to directly remunerate employees or go toward public finance (i.e. the government) to distribute as they will.

However, to Marx and his followers, these were not separate ideologies but rather part of a continuum which, starting with a people in a revolutionary “moment” in time, progressed through the “Social Democracy” state to “State Socialism” and finally as the process unfolded, to pure “Communism.”  Is was not simply a slippery slope to him and his followers but the natural progression of economic history.

I would suggest that the assertions of Mr. Thomas are unfolding precisely as he expected and, further, that in accordance with that prophecy we are now being led further down the path; not by some wild Stalinist tyrant but by a person who has, based on his history and education, come to believe it is, in the most benign sense, where we ought to be headed for the good of all.  He believes this so strongly and thoroughly that he is willing to sacrifice another term in order to lay an inescapable groundwork for that, to him, inevitable, evolution — not because he is a bad guy, but because he sincerely and fervently believes America, as he found it, was a bad place and one he wanted to transform into a place more like what he believes a good place should be.

But I disagree.

This is still America, a place where competing ideas are supposed to be welcomed, discussed, analyzed, and voted on.  So having someone present his views is quite OK, after all Gus Hall and Norman Thomas did that for years in a very public run for the Presidency.  At least, that is, until Mr Thomas realized, as he noted in his quote, that the proper path to his goals was not through open presentation but by subterfuge and deceit.

We can even ignore that the ultimate end of that desired evolution into communism, even from the Market Socialism starting point, results in a system where there is common (meaning governmental) ownership of both the means of production and the capital being generated and, theoretically, free access to the articles of consumption.  Of course history has shown us in examples from Russia to Cuba to Venezuela to China how that always — always — devolves into an autocratic authoritarian despotic government.   Nevertheless we can continue to ignore that history and vote as if there wwas not a long line of precedents to evaluate.

Marx foresaw a superabundance of the articles of consumption under his system but historical experience has shown us that human nature simply does not respond to that idea and the result has inevitably and without exception been shortages of nearly everything and what does exist being manufactured in the shoddiest of ways. But we can set aside our memories, if we still have them, of life in the Soviet Union and its client states and how that jibes with our own American ideas as to how life should be.

After all, we, as a still free people are still free to argue for the various systems we think would best serve the country.  It is the President’s right to argue for his perspective as it is my right to disagree and oppose it. But in a few months his and my opinions will be subsumed into the collective opinions of the voting citizens of this country.  I believe another four years in the direction we are now headed will prove to be a huge economic disaster if, indeed, that disaster has not already been set in motion.  He believes that doing more of the same as he has done for the past years will solve it.  But as more and more “push back” is coming from the citizenry, he is now taking to calling those who disagree with him “unpatriotic” and playing to the victim, parasitic mentalities of those who want to be taken care of.

If you believe in his vision then you have the right to vote for him to continue on his path.  And who knows, perhaps he will be the first benevolent tyrant of the US and also the first one to ever, in the history of the world, to make a socialist economic model work.  Time alone will tell.  I could not possible disagree more with his world view and his policies and those who believe, as I do, that he is trying to transform this country into something I do not want for it, will vote for someone else almost out of desperation.  Once again I may be forced to vote, not FOR someone, but AGAINST someone.  What a tragedy.

But one thing is sure… this is set to become a most interesting next couple of years… it is nothing less than the issue of Freedom at stake.  No, not in the short term and that is the problem.  Americans are not long term thinkers, not chess players, in fact not even particularly good checkers players anymore.  Short term bottom line thinking has ruined businesses, ruined the economy, and now is working away at the country itself.  So the question is, does a short term increase at the level of slop in the feed trough seem worth giving away more of your freedoms?  Or not?

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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