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The Freedom to Fail

San Diego — A liberal acquaintance published a link on Facebook where one of his progressive sites attempted to define the major political/economic “isms” of the day with the clear implication that only liberals understood what the terms really meant; and that conservatives, libertarians, essentially any non-liberals did not understand the terms and so used them incorrectly.  Liberals and progressives on the other hand, in this as in all things, had the pipeline to ultimate truth which, at least in this case, they would share.

But if they accept that post’s definitions they are no closer to the truth than those they disparage.

The essay attempted, in a vastly oversimplified way, to define “Nazism,” “Fascism.” “Socialism,” “Communism,” and “Capitalism.”  Clever.  Unfortunately it was incorrect in several places, and incorrect by ommision and selective inclusion is several more..

It tried, for example, to frame Nazism as a political philosophy, but in practice it was basically a cult of personality run by paranoid and power hungry people using a very flawed belief in a sort of social and biological Darwinism wrapped in theological fervor.  It incorporated the belief in and the creation of a fantasy “race” incorrectly using the term “Aryan” which was the original label for an Indo-European group who would have looked nothing like the Nordic ideal the Nazis deluded themselves into thinking included them.

The closest to a coherent economic philosophy the Nazis got was the simple expedient of blaming others for their problems by feeding upon latent hostilities toward several groups of, to them, sub-human “races.”

The closest political model for the Nazis would have been Fascism.  Named for the bundle of reeds and axe that was the symbol of power of the Romans, the fasces, they even modeled their structure to some extent on Imperial Rome.  But the essay’s section on Fascism was poorly defined and failed to note that economically, the Nazis (National Socialist Worker’s Party) was not even true to the socilistic part of their name and allowed private ownership of the means of production though it was totally under the control of the government.  Think Krupp and his steel mills.

We usually associate Fascism, another combination of economic and political philosophies, with the Nazis but in fact it was formulated in Italy under Mussolini who drafted the only official definitions of it in which he outlines three principles of a fascist philosophy:

1.”Everything in the state”. The Government is supreme and the country is all-encompassing, and all within it must conform to the ruling body, often a dictator.

2.”Nothing outside the state”. The country must grow and the implied goal of any fascist nation is to rule the world, and have every human submit to the government.

3.”Nothing against the state”. Any type of questioning the government is not to be tolerated. If you do not see things our way, you are wrong. In practice you were also likely… dead.

 It was also the foundation for a warrior culture.  In 1934 Mussolini wrote,

Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism — born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision — the alternative of life or death….

…The Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide: he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but above all for others — those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after…”

Socialism, a polar opposite of Fascism on many levels, was also poorly defined by the essay and its hallmark approach of “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need” based on Rousseau’s complete misunderstanding of simple, tribal communal structures was ignored.  Socialism requires the belief that production per se is a zero sum game and that in order for some to survive others must be held back.  This may be true in small, primitive tribal or family band units; but it is not even remotely true in modern industrial societies.

Though couched in the language of fairness to support the downtrodden, reality has shown otherwise as everywhere it has been implemented it devolves quickly into a situation where the government takes from the productive to support those who will not participate in production.

Socialism, an economic philosophy, in seeking social justice, puts the means of production into the hands of the “public” meaning, from a practical standpoint, the state.  It allows the state to define, based on the goals du jour, just who can be taken from and who is to be given to in order to establish economic equality throughout its populace.  It sees people as poor pawns driven wherever the winds of class warfare drive them and therefore deserving of an enlightened state authority to set things right and level not just the playing field, but the results as well.  It harbors the notion that for one to succeed, another most fail; that if one person gains it is only through the taking of things from another.  Wealth, it argues, should be distributed evenly not based on skill or effort but on the goal of social equality.

In that sense of “public ownership” socialism and communism, a term coined in the 1840s, are the same.  But under communism, a combination of political and economic philosophies. or at least its theoretical proposition, the role of the state is more extreme.  Not only does the state own everything, but people, regardless of job or work, are paid essentially identically.  Regardless of effort or productivity, all get the same results.  It usually results in only the equality of common misery but it does take the traumatic decisions about life’s.  The state and its autocracy are, of course, distinct from the common man and in exchange for their care of the masses are not precluded from reaping the spoils of their social depredation.

The linked essay further noted that Communism requires a violent overthrown of the existing system in order to establish a state where all property is owned communally.  That is not true.  Marx and Engels wrote that while it might come to that, it was better if it could be done by fiat and subterfuge, with out and out revolution a last option.  He feared that it likely must be done but not because it was an ideal approach… simply a probably necessary one.

Where the essay really fell down was in trying to define Capitalism.  It said capitalism believed in profit but, recognizing that not all can make a profit required the government to step in to help those who failed.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Capitalism does indeed use success and its rewards as a motivator for effort and energy.  But it has never seen government as a safety net for those who chose not to participate or whose failure was through their own poor choices or activities.  Indeed the most critical freedom in a capitalistic society is the freedom to fail and face the consequences.

Someone blind-sided by life or nature or circumstances beyond their control aside, a capitalist structure specifically does not allow government to be in the rescue business precisely because of the ease with which that power devolves into “crony” capitalism where government can decide who to help and who not to help.  Helping those hurt by forces outside of their control is a human, ethical duty, but it is not, in pure capitalism, the prevue of the government.  When government, unable financially to save all in need from its treasury, can pick and chose, corruption is inevitable.

That corrupt cronyism so completely tilts the playing field as to render the concept of equal opportunity to TRY but with no guarantee of result pointless since in cases of its own choosing government does indeed guarantee the outcome.  That is not capitalism per se but a rather bizarre mixture of socialism and fascism.  The very concept of something “too large to fail” is anathema to real capitalism.

So read such biased “explanations” with a grain of salt.  Francis Bacon said that humans prefer to believe what they prefer to be true.   Even minimal experience shows that we will go so far to accept “evidence” that supports our own beliefs and reject “evidence” to the contrary that often even the admonition to research the truth for one’s self is wasted.  H.L. Menken opined that the chief occupation of mankind was indulging in passionate beliefs that which are palpably untrue.  And it is that conflict of unshakable faith in opposing but equally unsupportable positions that has brought us to the political gridlock, animosity, and danger point we are currently in.

One side of our current political divide holds tight to a fantasy world that cannot be because it violates the very core of human nature.  The other side holds equally tight to a highly filtered and equally fanciful history that never was.  Neither side seems to hold any stock in the principles and documents upon which this nation was founded and from which we rose to greatness on the world stage.

I do fear we are seeing the beginning of the end for our country and the hopes with which it was created.  We are on our way to becoming just another in a long sad litany of great nation states that forgot who it was, eschewed its founding principles, and threw itself on the midden heap of history to make way for the rise of the next great power.  How sad.  What a waste.

 

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Posted by on November 11, 2013 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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So, What AM I For and Against Politically? Part 2

Here is part two of the post on what i believe politically.  This section takes us farther down the list from part one to include the issues of our economic system, Capitalism, issues of immigration and illegal aliens, and into the issues of women’s rights.  Let’s jump right to it but please read part one, as a foundation, first.

CAPITALISM

As revealed by any review of history, anthropology, and sociology, as societies progress from band to tribal hunter-gatherers on up to Nation-States of industrial enterprise, each phase has an economic model that seems nearly ideally suited for that phase to help it be productive and relatively harmonious.  At the tribal level a communal system was nearly perfect and many philosophers have argued that through the auspices of government enforcement, humans could be forced to regain that level of cooperative co-existence and avoid their natural proclivities to descend into savagery and self-interest.  But by the time human society entered the industrial age which, in a mercantile society could produce massive rewards, descendents of Hobbes, Rousseau, and finally Marx argued that an autocratic leader was necessary to forcibly return society to that communal society where ego and self aggrandizement was no longer possible or desirable.

Goodness knows that view has seen plenty of attempts to form societies and nation-states.  Soviet Russia, China, North Korea, Germany, Italy, Cuba, et al but it has never, ever worked.  Meantime, Capitalism and its concepts of rewarding individual productivity saw developing countries rise will above the levels of other third world communal and tyrannical states.  But there is a caveat too often ignored

What makes Capitalism work and powerfully so, is not simple self interest, it is enlightened self interest.  That is a view that understands the tightly intertwined destinies of one’s own “business” vis-à-vis the fortunes of those around it, including competitor and customer and workers alike.  So long as the enlightened self interest is at play, all boats can rise together.  But when it is lost, when it descends into an “everyone for themselves” totally ego-centric world, then Capitalism fails and with it the economy it supported.

I would suggest that it was that failure of the “enlightened” outlook succumbing to the ego-centric outlook that was the philosophical underpinnings of our crisis and allowed for the bubbles involved to expand and then collapse.   As the “Me” generation of cliché evolved into the parasitical, self-proclaimed victimized, and completely entitled generation of today, enlightened self interest died and with it an understanding of a mercantile world that was positive and productive.

The movie’s Gordon Gecko declared that greed was good and an entire generation of ego-centric hedonistic, parasites agreed but missed out on the point about what it took to put that greed into productive action and instead became greedy solely for the fruits of the labors of others.  The result is what is commonly and fairly accurately called “Crony Capitalism” where regulations exist but are applied only to the non-cronies and in doing so destroy the level playing field enlightened capitalism requires to work.

I believe true enlightened capitalism is the only economic system that can elevate the world to a high and productive standard of living, but it may be true that we have lost it for the moment and need to regroup, rethink our places in society and our responsibilities to the greater society, before we can hope to return successfully to it.  It would be tragic but perhaps is true that as a culture tossing away the concept of consequences for choices we no longer have the moral compass, the internal code of standards that will allow true enlightened capitalism to exist much less work.  That will be, if true, another very bitter pill for us to swallow and I hope we do not have to do it… but it may be inescapable.

When and if we devolve (or are pushed) back into a more socialistic society we will backtrack on almost all fronts and because we no longer are in a tribal level of group interaction, it will, as it always has done in the industrial world, fail and to the detriment of the citizenry but only to the good of the leadership exempting itself from the rules for the masses.

I despise the thought that it not only might be necessary but potentially inescapable.  As I wrote about a number of posts ago, “Stage Theory” has certainly anticipated it.  Plus, I see the current president doing everything possible to bring our system down around our ears and push us toward that socialistic system.  He is doing it, according to his book, because he thinks it is better, something with which I vehemently disagree.

But I, sadly, think that temporarily it may turn out to be inevitable if we cannot get our grip on the ego-centric, unrestrained versions of dog-eat-dog Capitalism and the clutching gasping demands of a growing parasitic culture.  If we cannot regain our enlightened view of a broader picture of our country and the world and how if it is to work at all, it must work all in harmony, then that despicable result is most likely inescapable.

Illegal Aliens and Immigration

This is an incredibly complex problem on two fronts:  controlling immigration and dealing with those already here illegally.  Fairness would seem to dictate the two issues be dealt with the same way.  But practicality would seem to indicate that is not a viable perspective either ethically or logistically.  Too often we fall into the trap of thinking social justice means treating everyone alike, but this is a good example of one of the many areas where that perspective is simply in error, not to mention impractical.

The first part of the problem, controlling immigration, is the easiest to grasp.  Every country on the planet assumes the right to do it as have we.  Quotas, procedures, and processes have been on the books and accepted as fair for many years.  The problem now is enforcement, i.e. stopping immigrants from slipping into the country and bypassing the systems already set up.  The laws are there; they are just not enforced.

I think those systems need a modern review, and further that they may, in some cases, be restrictive and harsh all out of proportion to the realities of our nation’s needs.  I would support the efforts to re-open those rulebooks and start over.  But until we do, those are the laws and I think they need to be upheld and enforced.  When we start accepting the breaking of specific laws we don’t like, we cannot complain when others break laws that THEY do not like.

I see no problem in allowing state and county agencies to follow up on otherwise legitimate stops when a person does not have a drivers license or other identification.  I see a huge problem in allowing illegals to get drivers licenses.  Think about it,  if you KNOW you are granting a license to an illegal alien then you are an accomplice to a federal crime (the illegal entry)… how do you get around that?  And having that ID allows non-citizens to vote, something I vehemently oppose.

The second part of the problem, what to do with the immigrants that have already side-stepped those laws and in an illegal manner entered the country and started to become accepted as citizens even though they are not.  This brings into play the issue of “anchor babies” as well as the parents themselves.  This derives from the provision in the Constitution (Amendment XIV, Section 1 proposed and added in 1866) that all persons born in the United States are to be considered Citizens.  It was in response to the issue of the citizenship of slaves born in this country but newly recognized as free men and women.  It also solved a long standing problem of new immigrants in a new country hungry for voters and citizens.  In 1866 it made perfect sense.

But those factors of a century and a half ago have long ago faded into utter meaninglessness.  Now however there is a brisk business in getting pregnant mothers into the country so their children will be born here and entitled to all the benefits of citizenry, including being able to sponsor their families to immigrate.  I think it is time to repeal that Section so that citizenship is not automatically granted because you got a toe on American soil just in time to give birth.  I think perhaps they should be in some way “eligible” for citizenship, but not granted it automatically. (I also do not believe in dual citizenship and the unavoidable split loyalties that engenders,  but that is another matter for later discussion.)

Whatever is decided, we cannot forget to consider the issues of fairness involved for those who patiently and painfully wait, sometimes in danger, to immigrate to America legally and become naturalized citizens via the processes laid out for them.  To force them to go through that ordeal while simply turning a blind eye toward those that bucked the line is not fair by any perspective.  Plus there is no way that it can help but appear to reward those that broke the law and punish those that follow it.  I do not believe that is a good precedence or model to set for the public.

Having said that however, the logistics of finding and deporting all of the current mass of illegal aliens in an incredibly expensive at best.   And what about the kids whose only real crime was staying with their parents and probably, if they were really young, not understanding the subtleties of an illegal entry into this country.

Of course this dilemma would not exist without the lax enforcement that has allowed so many illegals into the country in the first place.  There, in the failure of enforcement, is where the serious blame and responsibility should lie, and less with the poor soul who just wants to find a better life for them and their families.  I get that, but I also know that most of our historical immigrants, including my father-in-law and my great, great grandfather, did it legally and became citizens.

We tried, not all that many years ago, to initiate an amnesty program for the illegal aliens then in the country with the understanding that we would, at the same time, get serious about border security.  We accomplished the first part, never tried the second part, and now for their own narrow ends, and in opposition to the good of the country, both parties either turn a blind eye to gain workers or openly encourage it to gain voters.  Either approach is, in my opinion, despicable.

Obviously the problem faced in the last amnesty program has been allowed to lead to a place where it is even more of a problem today.  There are no good or pain-free solutions.  But for any approach to work we, the nation, have to start with a consensus deciding whether or not we simply want open borders or we want to do as all other nations do and be able to define and control immigration into the country.  Until there is a national agreement on that, we will never solve this even though in addition to the relatively benign immigration of work seekers we leave the door open still to the likes of those who perpetrated the tragedy of 9-11 on us.

ABORTION/WOMENS’ RIGHTS

I believe that every citizen (and this would, of course, include all women) has a right to determine, for themselves, what they will do with their own bodies.  If a woman wants an abortion I think she has a right to seek one out; the issue should be between her and her faith and, if appropriate, the other person involved in the pregnancy.  But, in my opinion, government, on any level, has absolutely no business getting involved in any way until some legitimate law is broken.

To apply laws for or against it, based on religious conviction is counter to the Constitution and, in my opinion, should be disallowed.  But that means for me that while I do not think a government should be in the business of prohibiting abortions as a matter of law, I also do not think it should be in the business of facilitating them as a matter of economics.

I think a woman has an absolute right to choose the correct course of action for herself, but I and others have an absolute right to not have to pay for her choices unless it is an issue of medical emergency (her life is endangered by the pregnancy and she has no insurance coverage) or for rape or incest where she was NOT cooperating in or in any way consenting to the behavior that resulted in the pregnancy.  (And by the way, I do NOT think that feigned cooperation when in fear of one’s life EVER equates to consent.)

In those cases I believe that if they can be found, the other party should be held accountable economically for her choices; and only if that fails might the government ask me to take some of my tribute to them to pay for this.  Operative word here… “ask.”  In instances of child abuse resulting in a pregnancy (and, by the way I think child abuse of any sort should be a capital crime) no one could ever legitimately argue there was legal consent so we are de facto into other territory.

Bottom line, in my opinion a woman past the legal age of consent has an absolute right to chose her activities but then must accept personal responsibility for the consequences.   So if indeed the entire circumstances were about choices, starting with the affirmative choice to engage in activities likely to lead to a pregnancy, then I have an absolute right to choose not to support that or its resolution with my money.

And on a related topic, using ADC as a revenue source is, to me, a fraud upon the government and upon all taxpayers and should be a felony.  Ending the life of viable but yet unborn individuals is murder and should be treated as such.

If I DO wish to support it, then there are plenty of places I can contribute to that activity; I do not need the government to force me into it.  It is transparently disingenuous and hypocritical to say we should give more to subsidize entitlements to which we are opposed but then not have the proponents write out a check to that effect.  Clearly what is meant is they actually want US to pay more but they will only do it when forced to.  I see a huge problem in that.

But the real and vexing question plaguing this entire topic is the question of when life begins, i.e. when, exactly, is a yet undelivered child sufficiently alive and viable to have its life protected by the government?  To determine the start of life I think we can look at the other end, i.e. do we have a workable medical/legal theologically acceptable definition for when life ends, i.e. what separates a state of “life” from “death” at the end?

The answer is, “Yes, we do.”  I see no reason not to apply that definition in reverse to determine the government’s definition of the start of life.  That such a definition may not correspond to the definition of a specific theology is beside the point since we do not have a state-run religion.  If we wish to base such decisions on science then let science’s existing answer to the difference between “life” and “death” suffice and stand.  To refuse that reveals only that one has a great a secret (or not so secret) agenda as do those arguing from a religious point of view.

On another relevant women’s issue I believe a woman has a perfect right to equal pay for equal work, but the reverse must also be true:  she has to provide equal work for equal pay.  For special work, like first responders to emergencies such as police, firefighters, paramedics, etc,  I do not believe in lowering standards so that people who could otherwise not perform foreseeable actions, should never be done.  If I’m in a burning building and on the verge of unconsciousness, when a firefighter comes through the window or door I do not care if they are a man or woman, but I expect and demand they be able to physically carry me to safety.  If they cannot do that then they should not be there.  And that goes for men as well.

If an individual cannot carry 200 pounds down the ladder they should not be put in that position and do not deserve the same pay scale of someone who can.  But it should only be a skill or ability based pay and never a case of using gender as an automatic criterion.  On the other hand, if it can be shown that certain skills, usually gender based, are not required to properly carry out a job, then the fact that some applicants have those skills and others do not should not be used for different pay scales since they are irrelevant to the job.

For the city mayor’s private army, the police force, I believe we should be raising standards not lowering them and not just for women but for all applicants.  We, as the citizens, would be far, far better served with fewer very high quality, high intelligence, un-reproachable, and un-corruptible officers making a good salary than with mobs of gun toting officers with minimal intelligence and psychological stability because it is all we can get for tight budget restraints and after knuckling under to complaints by the under qualified.

OK, we’ll continue the list in the next post.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A Convergence of Cycles, Stages, Passages, and Turnings

San Diego — I love it! I have been questioned closely as to why I appeared so gloomy about our nation and culture’s future prospects in last week’s post on the 4th of July vis-à-vis what is at stake in the upcoming elections.  It means some are at least exercising their brains which is something we need more of.  I never, ever, asked anyone or demanded of anyone that they agree with me — I am indifferent to that.  I only asked that you THINK about it and research the answers for yourselves rather than take ANYONE’s word for it, including mine.  So the question is a valid and serious one, asked in a respectful way, and therefore one worthy of a serious response.  This may be long but, hey, you asked for it.

Let me first provide some context for my answer then get into some specifics.

Many historians firmly believe in the theory of “Anacyclosis,” a Greek word set forth by Polybius in the first century BC while holding that the story of history is a story of repeating cycles that inexorably follow one another down through time.  According to Polybius…

Originally society is in anarchy but the strongest figure emerges and sets up a benign monarchy. The monarch’s descendants, who because of their family’s power lack virtue, become despots and the monarchy degenerates into a tyranny. Because of the excesses of the ruler the tyranny is overthrown by the leading citizens of the state who set up an aristocracy. They too quickly forget about virtue and the state becomes an oligarchy. These oligarchs are overthrown by the people who set up a democracy. Democracy soon becomes corrupt and degenerates into ochlocracy (mob rule), beginning the cycle anew. (paraphrased from Polybius’s “Histories, Book VI”)

The various theories and their believers range from serious to, well, let’s charitably say “exotic.”  Famously Marx presented his theory of economic system cycles which is followed and encouraged by communist and socialist idealogues even today.  It was inevitable, he thought, that civilizations cycled through the following economic systems:

“primitive communism, barbarism, slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and stateless communism.”

Theories of cycles such as these fall into a general category of historical theories called “Stage Theories.”  They are so popular that a great one was devised recently and given life through the internet that was, to give it some credence, ascribed to the Scottish Historian Alexander Tyler, even though it does not appear in any of his books and the modern version does not come even close to his normal phraseology.  Nevertheless. In spite of being shown to almost certainly not have originated from its claimed source, it is repeated endlessly and it does, as do many of the others, seem to reflect a reality.  It sees the stages of governance as follows:

  1.      From bondage to spiritual faith;
  2.      From spiritual faith to great courage;
  3.      From courage to liberty;
  4.     From liberty to abundance;
  5.     From abundance to complacency;
  6.     From complacency to apathy;
  7.     From apathy to dependence;
  8.     From dependence back into bondage”

Allegedly this was not a broad set of stages but an internal one and reflected the stages in the rise and fall specifically of democracies and republics, i.e. those states governed directly or with indirect representation by the will of the people.

And less we forget… of course in this potentially fateful year of 2012 we are all familiar with the alleged impending doom implied by the ending of the Maya calendar on 12/21/2012 where, we are to believe, they could foresee the end of the world several thousand years ahead, but did not see the end of their own civilization in a vastly shortened time span.

A major criticism of stage theories generally is that they do not take into account the random advent of wild cards such as prophets, maniacs, geniuses, disasters, etc. that can potentially turn the current stage off course into something completely new and unexpected.  In examining this criticism, in the 1980s historians William Strauss and Neil Howe studied geopolitical events with its progressions and declines as well as their underlying events juxtaposed with generational attitudes and thinking and developed what they came to call, “The Four Turnings.”

A “Turning” in sociological/historical terms is an era with a characteristic social mood, a new twist on how people feel about themselves and their nation.  This was a far simpler listing than those above.  Strauss and Howe’s four turning were

  1. The HIGH,
  2. The AWAKENING,
  3. The UNRAVELING,  and finally
  4. The CRISIS.

Fascinated by this perspective on history, technical writer and historian John Xenakis subsequently spent more time studying the generational attitudes going back to the late dark ages to identify major crises as the end points that launched each new turning.  He wanted to understand WHY these turnings happened and why those “wild cards” noted above seemed to sometimes have major short term effect but little or no long term effect in changing the nature of the turnings.

He came to believe it lay in human responses to those events noted by Strauss and Howe.  In the process he developed his theory of Generational Dynamics which is based on the idea that societies and nations make mistakes and then learn lessons from those mistakes.  Those wildcards may appear for awhile, here and there, but in time, as generations grow older, retire and die, they are at some point replaced by new generations who are too young to remember those wild card people or events or the mistakes and those lessons.  When that happens, the mistakes are repeated.  He then redefined the turnings of Strauss and Howe with generational labels that coincided with the turnings.  His generations were:

  1. The Hero Generation
  2. The Artist Generation
  3. The Prophet Generation, and
  4. The Nomad Generation

What fascinates me about all of the various views is that, taken together and overlaid, they all — ALL — are in the final or next-to-final stages now.  Even though they range in identified stages or cycles or turnings from 13 (Mayan Katuns) to 8 (Tyler?) to 7 (Marx) to 6 (Polybius) to 4 (Strauss & Howe and Xenakis) they are all in the last or next to last steps.

The truth is I have not the faintest sure knowledge that any or all of them are either complete hokum or actually reveal underlying truths of historical cycles… or something in between.  The mere fact that fantasic theories have points of overlap does not, in itself, offer definitive proof for any of them, much less for all of them.  Correlation does not equal causality.  Day follows night in a pretty predictable manner but one does not cause the other.

Yet…  There are no doubts that civilizations and empires rise and fall and that the triggers for their declines tend to be easily identifiable in hindsight and found  to be very nearly identical and that, as Xenakis points out, we tend to forget the previous mistakes or, perhaps more likely, reach a point of such hubris we refuse to believe it could happen to us.

So why would I give even sufficient credence to these theories, singularly or together, to even write about them here as context for my conclusions below?  To me, it is a bit unnerving to lay those various stages over the history of our own country and then to see how well they have fit.   With the exceptions of the Maya Katun stages and Nostradamus’s Quatrains, which are both hit and miss in their descriptions of events to come, the stages and turnings of Polybius, Marx, Strauss and Howe, and Xenakis have been pretty consistently accurate and they have their own internally workable sequencing logic that works with human nature as I believe it to be.

Additionally and more importantly, anyone who does not understand that we as a country (and California as a State) are staring down the barrel of the potentially perfect storm of crises on the very near term chronological horizon is simply not looking.  Need I itemize to make the point?  OK… here are but a few issues coming down on us…

  1. The Bush Tax Cuts are due to expire.  All sides think that will create some huge economic problems  but the parties are in grid lock as to what to do.  Obama wants to lower the limits and do a one year extension, Pelosi and Schummer’s group with a far greater understanding of middle class and small business wants to raise the cut off to $1 million, and Republicans want to extend the cuts indefinitely for everyone.  For rationale’s they aid gridlock by arguing past one another.  The left says the taxes will help the economy and debt but Obama’s plan would, according to GAO stats, annually pay for 8.5 days of deficit growth.  In fact a 100% tax on the same people would not significantly diminish the deficit.  The other side says lowered taxes will encourage productivity but if it is offset with inflation and unemployment it will accomplish little to improve attitudes necessary for improved productivity.  That is all sort of moot since on this Sunday’s interview shows they all admitted they were in stalemate.  if that continues the cuts will expire on their own.  No decision IS a decision.
  2. At the same time, the jobless benefits and a payroll tax cut are set to expire.  Since the U3 filter of unemployment (those on unemployment insurance) will then drop as benefits stop you can count on an argument that employment figures improved.  And partisans will act as if it were true even when they know it is not and generate the “statistics” to show how much better off we are.
  3. At the same time a $1.2 Trillion across-the-board program cut is set to go into effect since Congress failed to solve the budget crisis.  Whopee.  We concentrate on a debt of $15 trillion in borrowed money, but, in the background, our brilliant congress has approved over $119 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, i.e. mandated programs which create liabilities for the treasury but for which there are no funds.  $1.2 trillion in cuts is a slap in the face insult to the American people.
  4. At the same time, we will hit our debt ceiling and will clamor to raise it making any cuts pointless.
  5. At the same time credit agencies are already warning of another credit downgrade for the U.S. so a rising of the debt ceiling again may be pointless if we can only borrow at such rates as to make mob loan sharks seem generous.
  6. At the same time we will be presented two treaties worked out by our Secretary of State that, if ratified, will cede Constitutional rule to a hostile international set of rules.  This time it is over gun control and oil revenue.  But if the precedent is allowed to set then what?
  7. Powerful arguments from progressive strategists on the interview circuit are already arguing that what we need is for more stimulus spending and not just a little but a lot but in no case that I listened to was there a suggestion as to the location of a source of such money.  With, as noted, even 100% taxation turning us into a complete slave nation  would not have all that much effect on the debt, the money can come from only two sources: printing it or borrowing it.
  8. But at the same time, a growing ground swell from major trading nations is pushing to drop the American Dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  Already China and Brazil have made serious proposals for a replacement of the dollar and offered ideas for the replacement. China has been replacing its dolar holdings with other currencies and securities. But it is that reserve status alone that makes loaning money to us still a pretty good idea even if our personal/national credit rating drops.  But if we all woke up one day and at the daily begging for loans China said, “No thank you!” and declined to loan us more, our house of carefully laid cards would crumble virtually overnight.
  9. But why would we need more money and more debt?  Simple math. Presently in America, nearly half of all households receive either a salary or substantial benefits from the government. Presently in America, nearly half of all adults pay no federal income taxes. Presently in America, the half that pay no income taxes receive the bulk of their income courtesy of the government, but ultimately from the half that do. This money is extracted involuntarily from the paying half by a permanent bureaucracy that extracts and gives away more each year no matter who is running the government. The recipients of these transfer payments rely upon them for subsistence, so they have a vested financial interest in sending to Washington those who will continue to take money from the productive and give it to the parasitical.  Harsh words?  i don’t think so.  i am in favor of helping those blindsided by life, but you will never convince me in the age of OSHA, fully half of our population is unable to work AT SOMETHING even if it is a short term strategy instead of demanding to live off of the government slop trough.
  10. The Fed is clearly setting the stage for more money creation which has never in the history of human economics failed to result in inflation.  This is masked for the populace by replacing the old measures of unemployment and inflation with new ones that allow for data cherry picking.  Inflation used to be measured by the Consumer Price Index based on the costs of identical items over time.  Now it is based on a “substitution” scheme, i.e. when an item’s cost increases it is replaced on the list with a lower cost brand or version or redefined as an improved or upgraded item.  And we no longer use the government’s previous “U6” view of unemployment which counted ALL people out of work (now at 15%) and replaced it with the “U3” statistic (now at 8.2%)  that only measures applicants and enrolees for unemployment insurance.
  11. California has already proposed a budget that includes tax increases and makes clear its own philosophical priorities based on what is maintained and what is having it funding cut further.  Funds are maintained for spotted owls but not for fuel refining and extraction; maintained for prison needs but not for law enforcement, maintained for fantasy bullet trains but not for existing highway and bridge maintenance, maintained for union support but not for businesses, maintained for homeless care but not for education.  But remember the old cliché asserted, “As California goes, so goes the nation.”  Though not a “stage” theory it has been fairly reliable over the years on a number of fronts.
  12. At the same time on the geopolitical front we are at a dangerous ignition point in multiple places as we work hard at degrading any ability to deal with them and instead, against the rules laid down by the Constitution, insert ourselves in economy strangling wars, governmental overthrows, and other events designed, in my opinion, to further cripple the system and provide the cover of distraction from the transformation happening at home.
  13. All of the issues started with previous administrations.  There is no getting around that.  But the current administration has, on every single front and by every applicable measurement, worked tirelessly to make it worse.  And now they are proposing measures to further accelerate the growth of debt, deficit, and the death of capitalism to a growing crowd of entitled and dependent citizens who are the victims of one of the world’s worst education systems and in one man-on-the-street interview after another cannot name the country we gained independence from or when, think Lincoln was a founding father, cannot point to Russia or China on the map, or, for that matter, Washington, DC, and yet will bring that systemic ignorance and idiocy to the polls next November.

So, since I am by nature a contingency planner, I think forewarned is forearmed.

And what is especially maddening to me is that close examination of historical examples shows that in nearly every case, the final crisis or failure need not have happened if the nation under review had simply remembered and learned from the lessons of those nations that came and went before.  And, as startling, there were nearly always some voices in opposition who were shouted down by the crowds fearful of losing their goodies.

As I have written before and often, I see us doing precisely the same thing now: refusing the lessons of history and following the paths of apathy and dependence, opening the gates to the Visigoths and Vandals of our day, debauching our own sovereign currency, legislating immorality by the removal of consequences for actions, promoting the concept of outcome equality while ignoring the concept of opportunity equality, developing dependencies instead of self reliance, and refusing to accept the concept, even as it might apply to societal survival, of good and evil.  From Herodotus to Josephus to Toynbee those things are clearly at the root of the internal rot that over and over brought civilizations to a point of such weakness that they were easy prey to the enemies from without.  But we are not just doing one of those historically successful suicide techniques, we are avidly pursuing ALL of them!  In the end, the playing fields were leveled all right, EVERYONE lost.

When looked at from a historical perspective we are being led to the hammer by a bellwether, a political Dr. Kevorkian with us as the gasping patient; and astonishingly to me, a majority of us are begging him to proceed with his apparatus.

On September 18, 2008 under the previous regime, ironically, the one crying most fervently in favor of capitalism while at the least the left was more honest about wanting it replaced, we effectively drove a stake through the heart of capitalism, the economic system based on private risk and reward.  Both parties had become so tangled with business and drew so much money for re-elections from business that they did the unthinkable in terms of capitalism’s inherent self checks and balances of rewarding success and punishing failure.  With total bipartisan support (in itself revealing) the government married big business and big government by privatizing profit while nationalizing risk.  In one giant bipartisan pandering we exchanged capitalism for corporatism and we allowed the weak minded to then think they were the same thing to further weaken support for capitalism.  They are NOT the same any more than a democracy and an oligarchy are the same.

In order to pull off the fallacy that the two (capitalism and corporatism) are the same, we had to further debauch an already debauched and floating currency by simply printing more and lending it to ourselves to cover the risk.  Leaders on both sides had to convince you that some things were “too big to fail” rather than let bad management pay the consequences of failure it should have.  If those businesses were critical to the economy and promised, if run properly, to return a profit, then the shells and infrastructure of those failed business whether a bank or auto maker would have been picked up and rebuilt.

But those bailouts were not about saving capitalism or saving the economy.  They were about saving the bankers and saving the unions… the major sources of political money.  And less you also drank the mental kool-aid that sees those as separate issues, follow the money trail, in this case the money flowing in to the union coffers and wall street vaults and see what they have done with it.  Don’t just believe me or the union thug or the wall street apologist, look into it yourself and then connect the dots for yourself.

But there is an even bigger issue at play.  With capitalism essentially on its death bed, no other economic system has ever been able to provide the cultural “fire” to support a Constitutional Republic and, to my mind, our leadership has knowingly and purposefully moved us closer to Marx’s identified next stage.  Those readers wishing to be coddled and protected should be thrilled.  Get what you can quickly though, because this is happening at a stage where the governments, both federal and state, are close to running out of other people’s money.  Demanding the productive carry the unproductive has historically always been the start of an end game for that society.  And with the “occupiers” we have already seen the first attempts at mob rule a la Polybius.

Einstein is alleged to have said that insanity was continuing to do the same thing and expecting the results to change.  Toynbee warned, because he saw it so commonly in action, that failure to learn from history would doom a people to repeat it.

In the last post I wrote that I believed we were in decline and this next election was only between an incumbent who would accelerate it and a challenger who might, at best, slow it down a little.  I do not think it has to be that way; I think it would be possible to get us back on the rails with good leadership and a return to sound policies.  But I see that potential utterly missing in both candidates and, in fact, not even readily apparent anywhere in any direction on the political horizons.

I’ve read countless Facebook posts and even gotten several emails from readers who, unburdened by historical information, truly wish for us as a nation to embrace the idea of a government “nanny” state that will provide us all needs and shield us from all risks.  That there are enough of them out there to have voted as they did in the last presidential election and now will probably carry this one merely reinforces the stages and cycles noted above.  So how could I draw a conclusion that to me, since I am so opposed to that system and believe it flies in the face of human nature (which it has failed at every attempt)  not believe we are headed in a way designed for cementing the doom of the system created by our founders and not be gloomy, much less be happy about it?

Some seem to believe you can have it both ways but thus far there are no – zero — examples to support that.  You can have the sort of no-risk, warm and fuzzy system of Europe, especially Sweden, or you can have a potent vibrant but risk filled system that can move the world forward such as America was.  However in trying to do both, all sides are left unsatisfied to some extent, unhappy, and it soon degenerates into mob action and failure.

For those readers that ARE happy about our transforming into a “Sweden Lite,” enjoy it while you can.  Had this Turning happened in better economic times or on the upswing of a productive period you might have had a couple of generations of entitlements covering all aspects of your life to enjoy and ossify the soft spot in our national soul.  But the fiscal cliff we are racing toward may be so steep and closely upon us as to undermine even real efforts to save us or to foot the bill for a nanny state.  Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that we are being herded over the cliff purposefully to allow this system to completely collapse (otherwise I would have to believe the leadership is just stupid and I don’t believe they are).

Individuals and collections of folks wanting to nationalize/socialize, whether a little or a lot of their country’s functions, have, by expressing that desire, openly admitted that they refuse to take responsibility for their own behaviors and choices.  If we, as a people, cannot function economically without needing our country to create an artificial and precarious balance using fiat stimulus and overt taxation, then we can no longer claim to be even remotely free OR self-sufficient.  Get real!  Only a population filled primarily with pathetic, over-indulged whiny children would actually need government to enforce mandatory charity: welfare, healthcare, etc. A healthy society supported by strong and self-sustainable individuals would not beg to be parented by government. Once a people become so weak and culturally immoral as to stoop to socialism, then the cancer that rots their perspective has already metastasized beyond the point where even the best leadership could cure it.

Socialism is an admission of defeat. It is a waving of the white flag by a society and the assertion that they are willing to trade that culture’s liberty for the illusion of security.  It is the act of an adolescent and naïve populace groveling for an allowance from their “motherland.”

Once collapsed it will be easier to rebuild this socialized state upon the backs of a traumatized citizenry just wanting some relief – ANY relief.  Just remember, as you roll the dice in the upcoming months, both communism and fascism are simply variant forms of socialism.

I would deeply like to see that dire prediction fail to come true.  I do not believe it is cosmically inevitable, but on our current path I see it as inescapable because as I also indicated in the last post, I do not believe we have the political will or personal strength of purpose to start the combination radiation and chemo treatments necessary to kill the cancer rotting our system.

This internal rot started long before Obama came on the scene, but based on his own words, writings, and actions he is absolutely dedicated to accelerating its spread so he can get on with, in his own words, “transforming” America to better coincide with the dreams of his Marxist father.

Some of you are, based on your posts, comments, and Facebook postings, blissfully and even deliriously happy at that prospect.  Sometimes it is the fervent desire, as noted by Conrad, to lounge safely through existence; sometimes it is a blinders view of a single issue such as here in this state where we will happily bring the state to its economic knees, drive off businesses and kill revenue sources before we will further endanger the Delta Smelts and Snail Darters, or use our own resources to alleviate fuel issues.  Sometimes it is just blind accession to peer pressure (as in the experiment noted in the last post) and sometimes it is simple stupidity.  How else to explain why we will joyfully spend money on indigents that neither produce nor promise anything positive and yet slash funding from education, the only real salvation, so we have the money to do it.

Why else would we rush to open our gates to people who generally take only the jobs that the poorest of us need to survive unless we wanted to strengthen the public doll and those on it, thereby inceasing dependencies.  How else can we interpret the statistics that show in a day and age when our nanny state overlords have made the workplace increasingly safe from even our own negligence and stupidy and with fewer of us employed anyway, that the disability insurance rolls have absolutely skyrocketed except to note that if your standards are low enough, policies now make it easier to NOT work than to work?

If we were sitting on overflowing coffers it would be different, but when the coffers are empty and we exist, day-to-day, on borrowed money, then sane policy demands you perform a hard, perhaps even hateful economic triage on your projects and prioritize them in terms of positive return and help to the country and state.

I think that many of the warm and fuzzy projects are actually very good things to do… IF the basic services specified in the Constitution and state charters are met first and then enough money remains to do them.  But I do not for a heartbeat think they should EVER supercede, in importance or priority, the basics of security, infrastructure, and education.   If the money is not there it is not there; unfunded liabilities are an abomination and are proving to be self destructive to the governments that allow, much less encourage them.

A government, no matter how well intentioned, cannot help anyone if it collapses.  The two major political philosophies stemming from Rousseau and Locke on down represent two very different ideas on how a government and a country should be structured both philosophically and economically.  History has given us plenty of real life examples of how each system has performed when tried outside the classroom and in the real world.  I ask only that you look at that history before deciding  automatically that something that sounds good when its benefits are noted out of context and with no discussion of cost or contraindications, is the best and most workable approach.

But if you do not think the future of our country and, by extension of your children if you have any or want any, is worth such research effort; if you are willing to abrogate your thinking ability to the talking spokesmouths who are openly and overtly biased and who have their own vested economic interest in the outcome to provide the talking points; if you give more credence to celebrities than trained historians and sociologists because they make it simple for you; and if, in fact, you are pining for the day government on federal and state levels realize that you are a victim and desperately need to be taken care of fiscally and shielded from your own choices and behaviors, then fine; it looks very much like you are getting your way and are gleefully bringing both state and country to ruin to do it.  Brick by brick, stone by stone you are helping our dear leader to dismantle the country given us by the founders so a new one can be rebuilt better suiting his view of how things should be.

The good news for you of the parasitic class is that each new freedom you give up will be easier than the last and less noticeable since you have fewer and fewer to worry about or count.  The great news for which you should be overjoyed is that you appear to be winning.

But you will never be able to count me as among your ranks.  I do not believe we need a “kinder, gentler” society as Bush the elder pronounced, but instead a leaner, tougher one.  No great civilization in the history of the world has even been able to pull itself back to its former glory and power after its collapse.  I think, and fear, we will be no different.   I see a national hourglass with far more sand in the bottom than in the top and an astonishing number of my fellow citizens pounding on it to make it run faster.

Does that answer the question?

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Social Security… is Neither

San Diego — I’ve been a bit out of touch having some fun on a field trip with students to Yosemite (you can read about it on my travel blog from the link in the right hand column).  Besides, to be honest with you I was growing weary of trying to shout a wake up call only to discover readers and listeners had very effective ear plugs and slept right through the alarm.

But events transpiring while I was off in beautiful surroundings have not stopped our devolution into a country that is nothing like the one I grew up in and certainly not one I want to see develop.  So much has happened i hardly know where to start.  So for this post I’ll start by re-visiting an old posting on Social Security.

Some of you may remember back when I wrote that by comparing Social Security to a Ponzi scheme, Governor Perry of Texas should apologize… to Charles Ponzi.  In Ponzi’s case he actually seemed to have tried to make the pyramid scheme work while our government never has.

I took a fair amount of flack over that characterization but thought to just wait and see who turned out to be right.  This week the government itself just told us the answer… I was right.

This week the government’s actuaries, who originally told the Obama administration and the public that the fund would be solvent… until 2036, re-examined their numbers and concluded that it will be in the completely out of money at least three years earlier than they thought when they tried their best to help Obama by saying that.  Now they have admitted the system will be bankrupt, that is not able to meet its obligations by 2033… at the latest.

Let me copy an article by Andrew Napolitano on this news.

“This revelation should come as no surprise to those who monitor the government and its deceptive ways. When he first introduced Social Security, President Franklin D. Roosevelt argued that under Social Security the federal government would be holding your money for you. He deceptively fostered the idea that Social Security would be a savings account, into which employees and employers would make contributions and out of which guaranteed monies would be paid to those who reached the age of 65. Essentially, he claimed that you’d get your money back.

“The politicians believed him, but the actuaries and the judiciary understood that the government would never hold anyone’s money for him — as if it were the custodian of a bank account. In the first of several challenges to the constitutionality of Social Security, the Supreme Court found that the Social Security fund did not consist of your money. It was merely tax revenue.

“Did you know that?

“It also held that since Congress’ law-making authority is limited to the 16 discrete delegated powers granted to it in the Constitution (a truism few in Congress accept as binding) but its spending authority is open-ended (a conclusion that must torment James Madison’s ghost), Congress could collect funds, claim it was holding the funds in a savings account and then spend those funds as it saw fit — for those in need after age 65 or for any other purpose.

“Did you know that?

“And, in a curious yet revealing one-liner in the Supreme Court opinion upholding the constitutionality of Social Security, even the court recognized that there would be no trust fund in the traditional sense when it found that the tax dollars collected and supposedly designated for Social Security were “not earmarked in any way.”

“Did you know that?

“Eventually, the government would acknowledge that what it first called a savings account and then called old-age insurance and then said would be fortified by a trust fund did not even establish a contractual obligation to those who have paid the Social Security tax — which would be all of us. Thus, the feds have conceded and the courts have agreed that the money you have involuntarily contributed to the so-called trust fund is not yours and can be spent by the government as it pleases, just like any other revenue that the feds collect.

“Did you know that?

“The so-called ‘trust fund’ is not money that the government “holds” for you, as FDR promised. It is not money to which you have a lawful claim, as he claimed. It is not a guarantee for you, as he led the public to believe. The so-called trust fund is merely the difference between what is collected and what is paid out. And the feds just acknowledged that in 21 years, they are likely to pay out more than they will collect.

“Perry did not succeed this time in his quest for the Republican nomination. But he did succeed in articulating a hard truth: The same federal government that prosecutes people like Bernie Madoff for paying out more than they collect does the very same thing under the color of law.

Is a Ponzi scheme — which is basically theft by deception — lawful just because the government runs it? The Supreme Court has, in the past, clearly said yes.”

This state, California, has done the same thing to its citizens.  The lottery, was sold to us and continues to be promoted as a source of funding for education, a need that in my opinion ought to be our first or at least second priority.  But the establishing law contained a clause that said if the State Assembly declared an emergency it could appropriate all of that revenue into the general fund.  And every year — EVERY YEAR — one of the first items of business when the Assembly convenes is to declare that emergency and appropriate all lottery revenues into the general fund where it can spend them in the same profligate ways it does all of the other tribute it receives from us vassals.

My Question is, “Are you OK with that?”  On either the state or federal level?  If so you will be thrilled with what is in store for you if Obama wins re-election.  The gloves are off and what you need to know is out there.  The problem is that the main stream news simply will not tell you, or else buries the data on the back pages knowing few will plow through all the garbage to get to it.

The real question, as November approaches, is a simple one; in fact I do not recall it ever being so simple and so straightforward.  Do you believe that you as an individual are entitled to protection from responsibilities and consequences and it is the government’s main role to provide you with everything you want?  Or do you believe  that each individual is responsible for their own well being and should rely on the government only when they have been blind-sided by catastrophic events for which they could not reasonably have been prepared?

Do you believe the government knows best how to run enterprise and best how you should spend your money and, in fact, how much you should make?  Or do you believe the best way to move the country forward is to have government do only what the Constitution, it now ignores, specifically provides grants it as its powers?

Do you believe the government ought to have the power to tell you how to live, what to do with your life and any revenues generated by your labors and can even force you to buy what it says or destroy your livelihood (as is going on now in Michigan where pig farmers are being told by the state that hogs are an “invasive species” and must be destroyed)?  or do you believe you know better what you should buy for yourself, how to spend what you earn, and have the right to apply yourself and move anywhere up the economic ladder your ambition and skills will take you and then be rewarded for that success?

THe philosophies on open opposition in this upcoming election have never, NEVER been clearer.  Prior to this election, those two opposing views have never been the real core values and policies for voters’ decisions about who should be president.  But they are the ONLY questions of value this time.  Entitlement or self-sufficiency are the core but competing principles driving the two sides and for the first time in our history we seem to have a growing number of people, mostly from the fantasy land of academia, the thug-ridden world of unions, or the delusional world of young people raised with a sense of entitlement for simply being alive, who believe openly in entitlements, socialism, and communism as viable economic and political theories.

They have, with marvelous misdirection, wrapped their rhetoric in the banner of democracy as if that was a magic word or concept and relied on the likelihood that most of the dumbed-down populace does not realize our country has never been and was not supposed to be a pure democracy, something Plato referred to as the rule of fools.

To accept the ideology that any of the flavors of socialism actually works to better the society it rules, unless some outside source of revenue apart from the tribute required of the population (such as in Finland where oil revenue props up the government) you have to toss out all of human political-governmental history.  Why?  Because of all the times those social theories have been applied, not a single example exists where it has raised the standard of living and improved living conditions despite its promise to do just that.

This time getting truly informed about what has and has not worked and why is critical.  You must, MUST, as was never before really necessary, do your research on this.  Don’t take what anyone tells you, including me, at face value until you have done your own research.  Find out for yourselves what has, in the litany of governments around the world and throughout time, worked and what has not.  And before you fall prey to the emotional arguments of “fairness” or that great canard of “social justice,” research how the success of various systems of economic and political authority changes with the level of complexity and maturity of the population being governed.  What works perfectly on a tribal, hunter-gatherer level falls apart starting with the agrarian, surplus driven stage of development.  And that perfect tribal system turns really ugly in the industrial stage.

Please, I beg you, don’t take my word for it, don’t take ANYone’s word for something so important as the future of this country and therefore the future of your children and grandchildren. Become truly, personally, individually informed.  Only with an informed electorate driving this republic will it have a chance of continuing.  One of the founders (the quote has been attributed to several people) when asked what they had just given the people, responded, “We have given you a Republic… if you can keep it.”

Never before, has that issue been more at the forefront of an election than this one.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Can A Transformation Based on Hate Be A Good Thing?

San Diego — Let me give you some dots to connect…

Obama announced and is openly pursuing a program to, in his words, “… fundamentally transform our country.”  In this he has the lock-step support of followers who see him as a political messiah.  This, however, is a very different goal than the founders had.  They recognized a distinctly American character, also easily recognized by early visitors and writers such as Alexis De Touqueville, and sought via the Constitution and its amendments, to protect it, not to change it.

But following the popularity of the works of European writers such as with Rousseau, Godwin, and Marx, starting with Woodrow Wilson many in his party slowly transformed what had traditionally been the political philosophies of the so-called progressives, into something new, and something very, very different than the culture that was being protected by the Constitution or, for that matter, different than the one held by early liberals and progressives alike.

By the time we get through the years to Obama, we find a man who is openly contemptuous of that document and speaks openly about its fundamental flaws, but without the integrity (and with the hypocrisy) required to take an oath to adhere to it and defend it and actually do that instead of working diligently and brilliantly to obliterate it.

I have written before about his adherence to and support of the works of those early social writers just mentioned.  I didn’t have to make anything up, I simply used his own writing and speeches and have shown where some phrases were lifted in their entirety.

To accommodate his dream utopia as formed and informed by his father and reverend and close associates during his philosophically formative years, one must first destroy the society from within.  They all knew this and wrote about it since they all studied the works of John Maynard Keanes, the economic god of the left, who wrote that you could only do that economically and the way to do it was to “debauch the currency.”   How to do that exactly was spelled out in the economic theories of Cloward and Pliven who were the mentors of the professors under who student Obama claims to have studied.  And they are certainly the approaches that appear to be implemented and are playing out pretty much as predicted.

And so a very successful effort is being made to transform the culture, which means that before the new order can be instituted, the old order must be destroyed or at least crippled.  There is a roadmap you can check to see if I’m speaking the truth here and it is from their own side.  From these same authors, now synthesized in the writings of Saul Alinsky, another mentor for the president and his close friends, are clearly spelled out the strategies needed to make all of that happen.  And the foremost is that the country must first of all tear itself apart.  And to implement that strategy, Saul observes, the best approach is to set the people upon themselves in a great class war, just like Marx predicted and said was necessary.  And then he tells how to do it.

But class war requires something that most Americans deplore and that only existed in the fringe elements because it was seriously discouraged by the founders and their philosophies.  And that something is systemic, cultivated, institutionalized hatred.  Of course there have always been examples one can point to of evil people wrapped in their own petty hatreds, but it was never a part of the official or sanctioned social fabric of our culture nor was it the social goals as outlined in the Constitution.

When evil was applied by or in the name of the government, and there is no denying that it was, it was an aberration and in direct conflict with the ethics, outlook, and morals embodied in the Constitution itself.  If there was a flaw, it was that sometimes it was not crystal clear about how abhorrent some behaviors among its citizens were and how much violence the allowing of those behaviors to continue would someday do to the document itself because, for reasons of greed and personal power, some individuals got away with despicable acts in the name of the country.  The real flaw was in the law makers who initiated or cowardly allowed such behavior to start or continue.

(A Quick “Aside:”  if you want to argue that the great flaw was the allowance of Slavery, I would agree as would many of the founders.  But in the short term the greater question was to have a country or not?  Once established, then the provisions of the Constitution itself allowed that particular evil to be abolished.  So the real message is that the Constitution provided the internal processes by which any “flaws” could be addressed without the kind of damage to the core document typical of trying to do an end run around it does.  And since that “flaw” had been corrected 150 years prior, it could not have been the one or ones referenced by Obama.)

But it was not the Constitution that encouraged it; it was a really a violation of the Constitution that allowed it until corrected.  You need to take the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as a single piece not two separate ones.  The grievances spelled out in the Declaration form the “thou shalt not” actions that the Constitution sought to prohibit the government founded under it from doing.  To understand the Constitution you must understand the grievances that inspired the Declaration.  And then apply them to our own government since we did not want to allow a new government being created to fall into the same behaviors and patterns as the one we were about to shed.  if you want to know how to interpret Constitutional provisions, especially in the Bill of Rights, you must read it in the context of the grievances set forth in the Declaration.

So now our leader wants us not to protect that founding document and its intentions but to transform it.  And from reading all of those authors noted above, he knows how it can be accomplished.  But part of the unintended consequences, known to him, but apparently not to his disciples, is that to do it you have to get people to hate one another.  And the easiest arena in which to create that hate is the economic one where using the directives of Uncle Saul, one can easily manipulate emotions from jealousy, to envy… and ultimately to hate.

We all tend to focus our thoughts on the topic of hatred in different arenas than to look at our own government (unless talking about the bigots on the other side).  Usually such discussions are centered around small fringe groups.  Skin heads and neo-nazis, supremacists of all colors (and yes, bigotry is not limited to certain skin colors or races), all practice focused hatred but are generally not in large enough groups to have much overall effect.

We also sometimes think of hatred as the purview of religions and sometimes it is.  Islam, the “religion of peace” for example, openly tells its followers, not, by the way, only a fanatical fringe but ANY follower who believes in the sacred words of the founder, to kill or convert all who are not Muslims and establish as a goal a world wide caliphate based on Islam.  The only way you can get a normally peaceful people to engage in Jihad to exterminate others based only on their beliefs, is via carefully crafted hatred. And to do that you set up the chain: jealousy, envy… and finally hatred.

But that is anathema to all things American where our Constitution forbids us to ever establish a State Religion a la King Henry VIII or some Ayatolah.  So how do we do it?  It was remarkably simple we had to create a category of entitlements or people who were, for oner reason or another, entitled to something the others were not.  We’re not talking about the natural rights spoken of in the Declaration or spelled out in the Constitution.  We are instead talking about government created “rights” because in doing that we can create the class divisions needed to start the process.

The American character was originally based on self-sufficiency but also in concern for our neighbors.  When one of our numbers fell on hard times we were expected to help them as best we could; not because it was mandated by the government and not through some government program, but because it was our individual responsibility.

And when the system was allowed to work unfettered, the rising economic tide lifted all boats and the few blind-sided by life were helped by private or faith-based charities.    But as the social experiments of the utopians started to come into play, the rising numbers of needy, resulting from the heavy caps on the production sources, overwhelmed the natural system and, right on cue, the government stepped in to “save” the “less privileged” it had created and thereby started to create dependencies and with them the beginnings of a systemic jealousy and envy. And with dependencies comes the real currency of tyrants: power.

Greece is now showing us the natural results of this.  Totally without money and utterly dependent on the largesse of their EU neighbors who have demanded, as a price for their help that Greece clean up its economic act, the now entitled and dependent citizens have turned on themselves and are rioting in the streets.  Envy has segued into hatred. People are rioting to have a bankrupt government keep providing their entitlements even when there is no money and therefore are angry at the government and at the OTHER governments for not keeping the trough full to their liking.

Here, in the US, we are on the fringes of that (and in California may be looking over the edge).  The Occupier Movement, driven by jealousy and envy and a complete disavowal of a “clean your own room or house first” approach, has evolved, predictably into a situation where envy and hatred are starting to merge.  And who is supporting that?  How to you get from envy to hatred?  Convince the envious one that they are somehow entitled and are therefore somehow a victim.

The American character, as noted before, was initially predisposed to help one another in times of need.  But the assumption was that such help was not a lifetime achievement award for galactic level laziness and at some point it would end and the person would return to productivity, leaving only the truly needy unable physically or mentally to care for themselves, that we had to collectively support.  That lasted only until, with the government’s help and support, the numbers feeling victimized and entitled became unworkable.

The strategy is a simple one: keep the economic instability to a point where the progression of jealousy to envy to victimhood to hatred is maintained, then turn it around by skewing it so out of balance and in favor now of the entitled class that the productive people themselves now feel victimized by those clamoring to take from them the products of their own work, and now you have done it: you have everyone hating everyone else and a simple push, a simple match or spark, is all it will take to bring the system crashing down waiting for a charismatic leader to step in to “save” it.

Our world’s history is full of such saviors usually carried into power on the shoulders of academia and the various victims in an unlikely alliance.  Stalin, Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, and before them all, Robespierre followed this historical progression.

So have we again reached critical mass?  Have we reached the tipping point where a single match will set us all at each other’s throats making way for the latest messiah?  Are we so far along and desperate to get our minds off of the situation we will fall for a war as the solution because we are so ignorant of the past that we will once again accept any jingoistic call to arms because we have been sold the old tale that our problems are NOT the fault of our own government but of someone else?

Will we be pushed into war with Iran to knowingly (on the part of the government) spike the price of oil which is critical to all of us and will make nearly everything more expensive to give us some external demon to hate?

Or will we simply be given a domestic demon in the form of someone from the other political persuasion that wants, oh horrors, to cut back on the entitlement gravy trough?

Right now the debt is about $1 million for every citizen.  Can you expect to pay that back in your lifetime?  No?  Then who will get to do it?  And if we keep debauching the fiat currency making each newly minted dollar worth less then the effective debt rises accordingly.  If ever there was an arbitrarily created scenario for disaster we are staring it in the face.

The only question is, are we going to fall for it?  Are we going to fall for the tactics to get us to hate each other and so take our eyes off the larger picture?  Or are we going to stand, collectively, and say if this is the transformation desired by our leaders then NO THANK YOU!  Instead, will we, as a people, prefer to recover the American Character as exemplified in the Declaration and Constitution?

instead of transforming it, are we more interested in trying to tweak and strengthen the areas that can profit from it by using the methodology spelled out in the document itself?  Or are we interested in creating for the office of president, the precedence that allow anyone occupying it to transform the country in his own vision and as he sees fit without regard to little problems like the citizenry, the congress,… or the constitution?

This is the simple question facing you.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that ANY of those people vying for the office are likely to do the latter.  But isn’t that what we OUGHT to be searching for and supporting?  If we don’t, and don’t do it soon, it will not make any difference and we will, like the citizens of Russia, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, etc. look up one day and ask how this could have happened.

And the answer will be… us.  We made it happen.  We didn’t just allow it to happen, we MADE it happen.

I’m an old guy and sincerely hope I will not live to see that day.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Who Is To Blame?

Once again I received a marvelous email from a friend asking why I thought the current generation was, as it seemed to them, less capable of serious reflective thought beyond accepting then parroting the sound bites and one-liners from TV or the internet. The implication was that our generation had been better at it.

I had to think about it since mine was the generation the brought us Timothy Leary and Bell Bottoms, not the best indicators of brilliance.  But I do remember some of the exchanges, debates, and discussions I had back then and can contrast them with what passes for intellectual commentary now on Facebook or in the halls on campus and perhaps this friend was on to something.

While my/our generation certainly was not monolithic in its conclusions, on giving the question some serious thought, I do believe we put more of our own thinking and reflection into our conclusions than does the current generation, at least the college-age ones of my acquaintance.  We did not use the verbal equivalent of clip art to illustrate and inform our discussions except for punctuation.  We did not, all that often, simply accept the conclusion of those verbatim, even if we agreed with them and used their pronouncements, if at all, as a jumping off point for our own conclusions.

The email asked if i blamed TV for it.  In the 1950s Marshal Mcluhan wrote that unlike every news and entertainment technology to precede it, TV was the first to have the potential of not just being an adjunct to reality, it had the potential of replacing it.  I think to a large and unfortunate degree his fear has come true.  any advanced technology has the capacity of becoming a double edged sword and used for good or ill.  TV has done both with wonderful educational content and pitiful drivel next to each other on the channel selector. By itself I think it is neutral, but I admit it is perhaps more easily missued than not.

I try to use it, along with papers and internet as resources to let me see what the spokesmouths for all sides are saying.  From the personal experience of being interviewed a number of times and then reading the article, and from watching a speech and then hearing the commentary, I no longer trust a third party’s reportage of either side including the sides they are openly and sometimes shamefully supporting since they will spin it for or against their champion.  I also place little faith anymore in what the actual participants assert and much more in what they have actually done… or not.

I am a stickler for trying as best as i can to fact check those assertions of quantifiable items that allow them to spin one direction or the other. I recently got into a pointless exchange on Facebook calling to account an assertion that was factually in error.  Instead of ever addressing the error as it impacted the argument, they simply talked around it by trying to bring up ancillary issues.  Thomas Sowell wrote that if, as a politician, you want to help the country then you will tell the truth, but if you want to help yourself, you will tell people what you know they want to hear.  it is clear to me that virtually no politician now yammering from either side is doing other than telling their disciples what they want to hear… and I find that frightening.  But I do not try to excuse one side by pointing to the errors of the other.

It is especially frightening to me at this precise juncture in time because I see it as a time of great danger for this country and this society.  Internally we are taking a trend started way back with Wilson to vear off of the course set by the founding fathers and bring it to a critical tipping point.  I wrote in the early 90s that my sense of that trend line was that by the 2016 campaign the U.S. would either be irrevocably on the road to European style national socialism (or worse) or would have turned the corner to try to head back to its beginning philosophies.  I see nothing happening to change that opinion at this point except i think the chances of the latter option being more and more remote.

My students see themselves increasingly as entitled and victimized.  They believe the government owes them something apparently just for being alive.  They do not believe there should be consequences for choices or behaviors; there is no right or wrong for them except for what they wish to have done for them.  They wish only to feed at the government trough and receive the same portions as those who are productive and, even so, they do not want to have to wash the dishes. They are more than willing to buy a sense of security (not REAL security as any summary read of history would reveal) by paying for it with freedom.  I fear that is a trend that may be unstoppable since it is supported by the entertainment industry that is, to them, the royalty of our country, and is reinforced by a government that seeks more to gain votes by dependency creation than a strong country by supporting independence and self reliance.

History is pretty clear on the outcome since we are far from the first to try this experiment; nor are we the first to weaken ourselves from within.  Meantime, as we make our citizens increasingly dependent on the government, encourage them to think the government should control the means of production, and allow our nation to become increasongly dependent on other nations that do not especially like us and cultures whose sacred texts demand int he clearest of terms that they kill us, the danger of our collapse from within is exacerbated by the dangers from without with a decreasing ability to deal with either of them.

So I am pretty much fearful for our future and in some ways a little thankful that at my age I may not live to see us fall apart as I think we will do if we continue on this trend line.  I lived to see America at its greatest and that is cool but it makes me sad to see us in decline and heading for what, to me, is an obvious cliff.

I’m not sure, however, that it can all be put at the feet of TV, though that certainly is a part.  A lot of it must be laid at the feet of academia.  Peopled as it is by folks who have never had to interact in the real world and can live vicariously not on their own actions but on the reading of other people’s ideas (not actions), and who, as Arthur C. Clarke wrote, suffered from having their education surpass their intellect. They preach a warm and fuzzy view of economic and historical pabalum designed precisely to keep the slop in that government trough flowing because, for them, it has to.

Every great autocrat in the last two centuries was helped if not outright ushered into power by the denizens of academia — the intelligentsia, who wished for a savior to protect them from the real world and then were stunned at the results which were quickly and inexplicably ignored by their academic progeny.  I have never understood that failure to learn from the past except tp accept that they had left their students in no better position to accurately review the current and historical situation, much less to fend for themselves in the real world, than they were.  Yet I see it in action almost every day on campus where, if it were not for the blessings of tenure, more than a few would find themselves out on the street where their level of competence would have consequences they most likely would not enjoy.  They have, therefore, a vested interest in maintaining and accelerating this trend to entitlement.

To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, government has come to the point where it enhances elections by the incompetent many with the appointments by the corrupt few.  Churchill once opined that the best argument against democracy was a five-minute conversation with the average voter.  And even Plato characterized democracy as the rule of fools.  Benjamin Franklin said he and his companions had given us a Republic… if we could hold on to it.  But I think it is slipping through our grasp.  And we have allowed that by allowing our so-called representatives to end up representing only themselves and their own interestes and therefore, to bring this back to the early part, telling us not the truth but what we want to hear.  The first clue was when they first exempted themselves from some law passed on us. Why that was not a major red flag in the face of the electorate can only be explained by the comments of Churchill and Plato above.

My impact on the situation is limited.  I can give my one vote.  Since i am not dead and do not live in Chicago,  I cannot continue to vote for the democratic candidate a few more times (regardless of who my live personage voted for) so one vote is all I get.  Therefore I can only now and then vent and rant about it such as I do here.

But we dying few who would prefer a state of self reliance where Maslow’s idea of Self Actualization was still the highest of our psychological goals, are a shrinking democraphic, happily so in the eyes of most of my students.  They will never know the freedoms I knew, the joy of successful productivity I was allowed and even encouraged to experience, or the  “rush” of attaining, now and then, that state of self actualization.  But not experiencing it they will probably not miss it either.  The founders wrote that our system would not survive the point where the citizens realized they could vote themselves goodies from the national treasury, forgetting it was theirs in the first place.  We are at that point, our toes are, in my opinion already over that line.  A few months will tell us if we will walk totally over it or draw back from it.

I know which I prefer but that is, alas, not what I expect to happen.  I am not sure enough of us who are old enough to remember those freedoms and joys are still around to vote, or even care anymore. or if in our antique dottage now we also simply want to play out our days with the youngsters at that same government trough.  And we don’t want to do the dishes either.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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