me

Do you want to know more about the guy who's on the other side of your screen, saying all this stuff?

Then come right in...

ribbons

These are my
Mission Statements.

rant

This is where I put the stuff that doesn't fall into the other categories.

The power of Socialism

Last week, officials from the Venezuelan government (unsure who, as the economic minister Ramon Lobo is denying this happened) seized control of the General Motors plant down there. This comes after Kimberly-Clark had a factory seized, Coke, Pepsi, Mondelez (they make Oreos) and many other companies have abandoned or severely curtained operations in Venezuela. Supermarket store shelves are empty, bread makers have been enslaved to make bread, the list keeps expanding.

The Venezuelan economy has collapsed 18% in 2016 alone, which has been going on since 2014 when the oil market bottomed out.

This is what happens in a government-controlled economy. Let me apologize ahead of time. If you think a government bureaucrat, either at the state or federal level, should be making decisions on how you should run your business, you're an idiot. Here is Bernie Sanders admitting to that at the 2:20 mark of this video:

Here are Bernie's words, in response to the business owner's question, "So my question is, how do I do that [provide health care] without raising prices to my customers or lowering wages to my employees?":

"You see, the difficulty is also, is that I'm not much of an expert on hairdressing in general, and certainly in Fort Worth."

Unless that governmental official has owned a successful business in a particular industry, they will not have the expertise on how to run/control/grow that industry, any decisions made by them will ultimately end in disaster. Sure, they might get a couple of things right, but only through pure chance.

So, when bureaucrats nationalize, then destroy an industry, what do they do after there is nothing left? Nationalize another industry! Wash, rinse, repeat.

This picture seems to sum up how command economies "expand." From the power that comes from the barrel of a gun.

socialism

 

 

Margaret Thatcher sums it up thusly:

I would much prefer to bring them [the Labour Party] down as soon as possible. I think they’ve made the biggest financial mess that any government’s ever made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalize everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalization, and they’re now trying to control everything by other means. They’re progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.

So, now I need someone to tell my why governmental control of an economy would be a good thing. Venezuela is collapsing, the Soviet Union collapsed, China is transitioning to a market economy (at China's speed, which will take another 50 years). Don't point to the Nordic States. They have open markets with large social supports (and a tax rate that starts at 40%). No command-driven economy has ever flourished like open market economies.

The fight against City Hall

I wrote about Robin Speronis in December of 2013, I have revived the post and it is here.

The basic story is, she is living in a house that is not connected to any utilities. No electricity, no municipal water or sewage, no gas. The city of Cape Coral, FL is fighting tooth-and-nail to either force her to connect utilities or evict her. The latest chapter has her with a "partial victory." I put that in quotes because most of the stories out there about this are not news stories, they're press releases. I found multiple sites, usually having some focus in "living off-the-grid" with the same, exact article, word-for-word. Even the Russian Times has published the press release. What raised my antennae was the lack of any link for the original news article or the court's decision. I did find the original news article for the latest chapter, Cape Coral off-the-grid woman remains defiant, and a Bloomberg Businessweek article (starting on page 50) giving you an overview of the whole story. If you read the links, notice how the News-Press doesn't say what the press release says it says?

I support the cause that this woman is fighting for. It's about freedom. If you don't want to be dependent on the local utility monopoly, I'm right there with you. I do not support her personally because I detail in my original post about how she swindled people out of large sums of money.

Just to give a taste of what is probably in your own municipal code, this is based off the 1988 Standard Housing Code (the link goes to a 94 version, close enough), as published by the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc., part of the International Code Council. The following code is from the Lee County Land Development Code, Chapter 6 - Buildings and Building Regulations, Article II - Codes and Standards, Division 5 - Minimum Standard Housing Code, Section 6-222(3). The "section 302.4" is from the parent document:

Delete section 302.4 and replace with new section 302.4 as follows:

Every dwelling unit shall have water-heating facilities which are properly installed, maintained in a safe and good working condition, and capable of heating water to such temperature as to permit an adequate amount of water to be drawn at every required kitchen sink, lavatory basin, bathtub or shower at a temperature not less than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Minimum storage capacity of the water heater shall be 10 gallons. Such water-heating facilities shall be capable of meeting the requirements of this subsection when the dwelling or dwelling unit heating facilities required under the provisions of this code are not in operation. Apartment houses may use a centralized water-heating facility capable of heating an adequate amount of water as required by the plumbing code, adopted herein at section 6-131, to not less than 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

So Cape Coral, FL requires that you have (among other things) a minimum of a 10 gallon hot water tank, able to deliver 110 Degree water to any faucet in the house. What if you have one of those new tankless water heaters? I guess you're in violation of city code.

Don't get me wrong, I love modern conveniences like electricity, running water, cool air in the summer and heat in the winter. That being said, if I desire to eschew some or all of said municipal utilities, that should be my choice. Quite frankly if I desire to cover my roof in Elon Musk's solar powered roof tiles, use a wood-fired stove to cook and heat my house and dig my own water well, then I should be able to. If the local utility monopoly and municipality does not like that, then they can go screw themselves. Of course, a full divestiture of utility services would entail me properly disposing of wastewater so it does not contaminate my own well, plus disposal of my solid waste. Perhaps an ala carte type of arrangement where I can pick what services I want to use.

Remember stores and struggles like this the next time you invoke that magic word of "freedom."

 

Biting the bullet

Just in case you didn't know, the term "biting the bullet" is meant for someone (Old West) who has to go through great pain (amputation of a limb, digging a bullet out) without the benefit of anesthesia to blunt the pain. They "bit a bullet" instead of their tongue.

I am now doing the same thing, electronically speaking. I have decided to start importing my posts from years ago. I started this blog in September of 2003. It was on Blogspot for several years (it's still there but it's set to immediately redirect you here) before I went to this domain, running WordPress. In early 2015, I decided to switch CMS (Content Management System) from WordPress to Joomla!. However, any converter I found did not accurately convert the data without a lot of work by Yours Truly. So I started entering my blog posts from the beginning, with the intent of flipping the switch with a completely converted site. Considering I had 12 years and about 2,000 posts, I abandoned that and just started posting in Joomla.

I am doing this because I want a full record and account of my words. Please feel free to quote me from my archives. If I am wrong or incorrect, I admit it and move on. Misquote me or quote me way out of context, I'll be all too happy to grab you by the nose and pull you through the loop in a needle.

I say this now because I have just finished posting my posts from 2003. For the moment, you can go to page 12 and about halfway down to see the posts from that far back. I did that first as I had already started from that end and I wanted to give you the chance to see just how messed up I was back then. Now I will start at the newest WordPress posts and go backwards. I am doing like 10 at a time and it takes about 20-30 minutes to do those 10. I already have to redo formatting, find the original posting date and time and lots of other little fiddly tasks. It does longer if I have to redo links or I have to track down images not already in the website gallery. This will not abate my regular postings, as I do this in my spare and copious free time.

Enjoy!

Chemical Weapons FAQ

With the recent chemical attacks in Syria and Trump's response, I wanted to explain in plain terms why chemical weapons are considered extremely heinous by the world community. I'm going to say up front, if you need a safe space, you don't need to be reading this post.

As far as my qualifications to talk about this, I have handled "war gasses." I can't tell you when, where or why, but I've been up close and personal with "The Big Stuff." First of all, CW's are not "gasses" like Oxygen and the like. They are really liquid chemicals atomized into a mist. For military forces, this stuff is considered a "harassing agent," as the enemy will sustain some casualties, however they have the equipment (MOPP gear, gas masks, etc.) to continue on with their mission. The forces will stop and don their gear, then continue on at a slower pace. To civilians who lack MOPP gear, chemical weapons are deadly.

Just to differentiate and give you some context, Pepper spray, tear gas and the like are non-lethal chemical agents. They won't kill you, but you will wish you could die. These work by irritating your eyes and sinuses.

There are three families of "war gas" chemical weapons, Blister, Blood and Nerve agents.

Blister agents work by causing internal and external blisters. Mustard Gas, which was used in WWI is an example of this agent. These droplets upon contact with open skin or inhaled, cause the affected tissue to blister up to 24 hours after exposure. These blisters are painful and are your classic first- and second degree chemical burns. When inhaled, the alveoli in your lungs develop blisters and you develop Pulmonary Edema. Your air passages swell shut and your lungs fill with fluid, preventing you from absorbing oxygen and you drown slowly over a day or two in your own fluids. Saddam Hussein likely used Mustard Gas against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war.

Blood agents are next up on the list. These are usually derived from either cyanide or arsenic. Phosgene Gas was used in WWI as a blood agent. The best known chemical of this in the civilian world is Hydrogen Cyanide. If a truck carrying this stuff ruptures on the highway, the police rope off an area about a mile wide so no one gets close enough to receive a fatal dose. This has to be inhaled because when blood agents come in contact with your red blood cells (which transport oxygen from your lungs throughout your body to the cells, then carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled) it saturates the red blood cells, preventing the blood cells from carrying out their function. You die within minutes, your body dying because it can't get oxygen. A gas mask can protect you, however civilians likely won't have the right kind of filter, and the right kind of filter have a very short time frame of use before they become saturated and ineffective.

Nerve agents are the big, evil, nasty bastards of this group. The well-known names of this class are Tabun, Sarin (used in Syria), VG and VX. These chemicals interrupt the transmission of signals going from nerve to nerve by disrupting the neurochemical process. Your muscles, which are no longer receiving control signals, activate all at once. Imagine a muscle spasm, occurring in every muscle in your body simultaneously. You collapse, every muscle hysterically tight (think trying to hold onto something that if you let go, you'll fall to your death and you know it). Oh, yeah, this includes your diaphragm, the muscle that makes your lungs inhale and exhale air. You inhale... and you can't exhale. You suffocate because you can't exhale (and then inhale again). Civilians have zero defense against this, because it can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It only takes minutes, if not seconds from initial exposure to death. The extra nasty thing about VG and VX-type chemical weapons is they have persistence. It's more of an oily gel that doesn't evaporate. When sprayed over an area, the contaminated surfaces can be fatal to the unprotected touch for days after it has been deployed.

CW's are evil, mean and nasty. While you can take some kind of cover from an artillery or air strike and have a fair chance of survival, these weapons will find you. You will most likely die quickly and relatively painlessly in an artillery or air strike. CW's let you know you're going to die and will deliver great pain and terror to you while you wait for the process to conclude.

When the leader of a country uses these kind of agents, especially against their own people, there is a special circle of Hell reserved for them, the one below child molesters. I will take months of screamingly painful torture before I deliver him there.

 

 

Lying statistics

This article stemmed from doing my due diligence in researching for the article Have you noticed?, I started reading about the Gender Pay Gap that was the basis of Obama’s EO that Trump abolished with one of his EO’s. I had to split it into a pinned post of its own, The Gender Pay Gap to detail what the issue is about, and then this article about the disingenuousness that exists when your research shows what you don’t want it to show.

The overall lesson of this article is supplied by Mark Twain:

He uses statistics as a drunk uses a lamp post: for support rather than illumination.

Numbers are numbers and cannot show anything but facts. If you collect the numbers incorrectly or incompletely, or you parse the data to show what you want rather than the logical conclusion the whole data shows, then you are lying. You could say “obfuscating,” “exaggerating,” or any of several other adjectives, but they all come back to lying. The context of the subject and data will determine if the lies are from incompetence or intentional.

Basically, the basis of the “Gender Pay Gap” says that women make 77% of men’s earnings. Some Liberals love to drag this “statistic” out at every possible opportunity, which was derived from taking the average earnings of all full-time female workers and comparing it to the average earnings of all full-time male workers.

Now comes another applicable quote, this one by Neil deGrasse Tyson:

In science, when human behavior enters the equation, things go nonlinear. That's why Physics is easy and Sociology is hard.

In other words, when human choice enters the equation, numbers now have other factors that change their context and thus their significance.

While researching Have you noticed?, I found an article on the Huffington Post (a Liberal-leaning website if there ever was one), Wage Gap Myth Exposed — By Feminists. I also found pretty much the same article by Art Gutman here, AAUW Releases Report on Gender Gap in Wages.

The curious thing is, the link to the document on the American Association of University Women website in both articles leads to this image:

AAUW 404

My curiosity, piqued before, now has gone on full alert. Here are two articles that say the gender pay gap is 7 percent. They reference a document that proves this. When you go to try and find this document however, you get the above image. Someone is lying here. I do want to make clear that I am not stating or implying that AAUW intentionally hid this document from these articles. It could be merely a broken link due to an upgraded version of the document, or the document was moved to another directory. I will confess my website is probably guilty of that somewhere. What I am saying is that their data shows way different results than what their images are saying.

With some additional searching, I found the PDF referenced by the links and I am hosting it here to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere. Here it is: Graduating to a Pay Gap The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation.

I have detailed the why and how women make less in my Gender Pay Gap post and I will not repeat it here. Suffice it to say is that the “Gender Pay Gap,” is there, but it’s 7 percent, not 23 percent. The 16 percent (23 - 7 = 16) are things like the particular career chosen, negotiation of job pay/hours/scope and so on. They spend 63.5 out of 64 pages decrying this humongous pay gap, yet if you read, really read this document, you will see one sentence in the Executive Summary on page two and this paragraph at the end of page 20. The sentence in the executive summary is a summary of this passage:

One-third of the pay gap is unexplained.

Although education and employment factors explain a substantial part of the pay gap, they do not explain it in its entirety. Regression analysis allows us to analyze the effect of multiple factors on earnings at the same time. One might expect

that when you compare men and women with the same major, who attended the same type of institution and worked the same hours in the same job in the same economic sector, the pay gap would disappear. But this is not what our analysis shows. Our regression analysis finds that just over one-third of the pay gap cannot be explained by any of these factors and appears to be attributable to gender alone. That is, after we controlled for all the factors included in our analysis that we found to affect earnings, college educated women working full time earned an unexplained 7 percent less than their male peers did one year out of college (see figure 10; see also figure 13 in the appendix).

Let me translate that passage: “After the variables for human choice to select a less-than-optimal career path is accounted for, there is a pay gap, but it’s less than the numbers we want to promote, so while we are mentioning it to be ‘honest,’ this will be the only mention of it.”

There is also a subtle accounting trick being used here as well that you won’t see if you’re not looking for it. Have you noticed it?

Let me rewrite the last sentence from above and shift it to the same measurement value:

That is, after we controlled for all the factors included in our analysis that we found to affect earnings, college educated women working full time actually earned 93 percent of what their male peers did one year out of college.

Compare “Women makes 77 percent of what a man makes,” and “Women really make 7 percent less than a man,” versus “Women makes 77 percent of what a man makes,” and “Women really makes 93 percent of what a man makes,”

Does that not change the whole context of the case? It sounds very different and a whole lot better than the doom and gloom AAUW is pushing, does it not? In my pinned post conclusion I do state that we should work toward eliminating that 7 percent difference.

Just as an aside, what is AAUW's "solution" to this "problem"? You guessed it. Government intervention by way of laws and regulations to mandate equal pay.

This is why when you see a lot of graphs and numbers being thrown around, it always merits a second, hard and detailed look at the raw data.

The death of common sense

The Internet and social media is currently ablaze over the massive case of CRI (Cranial-Rectal Inversion, a nice way of saying head-up-the-ass syndrome) suffered by United Airlines over forcibly ejecting seated passengers to make room for other people. The particulars of both cases are not germane to the point. Suffice it to say that in both cases, a United representative told a paying customer they will get off the aircraft, under their own power is at their option.

I will say that United has the right to remove anyone they want for any reason at any point from their aircraft or property. Seated or not, full-fare or discount, half-way through the flight because they furrowed their brow in a way that worried the flight attendant. It doesn't matter. The customer also needs to realize that if they force the issue, it will not end well for them.

I will also repeat (to both sides) what the battle-hardened sergeant in war movies says to his young full-of-piss-and-vinegar soldiers to try and keep them from getting killed.

"Son, is this the hill you want to die on?"

Someone made the decision to allow a situation to escalate past the point of reason. Someone also made the decision to use force so United got what they wanted at the expense of passengers. With the potential for situations like this to explode and cause a mess (United lost almost a Billion dollars in market capitalization for a few hours over this), the people there in the situation (both sides) need to make a decision to push to the end, or decide "the cost of pushing isn't worth the outcome."

I can see the customers side in this, I can also see United's. I do not condone or condemn either side. That being said, the United representative who made the decision was the crux. In the interests of good customer service, if someone is seated, that should be that and the transferring workers or other passengers need to find an alternate route. The situation could have been averted if it was addressed before the customer was seated.

This situation falls squarely into the "Zero Tolerance" policies that surround us at schools, the airports, government buildings and many more places. Examples include the child who has his GI Joe taken away from him because of the "no weapons" policy and Joe has a 2" long plastic rifle. Or someone has aspirin that is easily identified as aspirin confiscated. I could go on, but you get my point.

Zero Tolerance policies came about because companies and agencies could not or would not trust the person in the situation to make the right choice. Sometimes, there is no "right choice," only two bad ones, equally as bad for someone. Using ZT's just said "no" to everybody, all the time. The ZT policies need to be abolished. A Company who puts people in positions of authority needs to let them make the on-the-spot decision, because no written policy can cover every possibility. That same Company needs to back the employee, publicly and privately, right or wrong.

There will be times when there are no good outcomes in a situation. When that happens, all you can do is say "Our representative was in a tough situation and he made a tough decision with the intent for the best possible outcome for everyone involved." Don't talk about new policies, retraining employees or any of that other bullshit. Make it clear to your employees at the outset what the objective needs to be and support the decision maker, even if they tell the boss to screw off, the customers are going, not the employees.

Have you noticed?

I wrote this in 2014 when I was using Wordpress for the blog software about an "emotional index." I have not imported that post into Joomla (yet) so here is the important part:

Words have what is called, for a lack of a better term, an "Emotional Index." This means that a word or term will cause an emotional response in the person hearing or reading the term. The word "Friend" produces a positive index because we think of our friends and our connection with them when we hear or see the word. Likewise, "Enemy" produces a similar number but in the negative direction.

So, when Liberals try to convince you to like something you don't like, they will change the terms, from words that have a strong negative index, to words with either a less negative index, or even a positive index. If they can, they will use words outside of the vocabulary of a average person, then define the word how they want it defined, rather than what it really means.

Case in point: "Illegal Aliens," used to denote citizens of other countries who are entering the United States without following the laws and procedures established for the orderly processing of people who wish to become Citizens of the United States. Liberals don't like that term, because, "People are not illegal." So, they want you to use the term "Undocumented Immigrant." When we use the term "Alien," we are talking about definitions like,"a foreigner, especially one who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where they are living," or "relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government." To prefix the term "Alien" with "Illegal" you are stating that a citizen of one country has moved to another country and is now living in the second country without going through the process as defined by law to renounce their citizenship of their former country.

Now let's take a look at the second term, "Undocumented Immigrant." Both of these words have way lower negative index scores than the first term. After all, the United States is a nation built on immigrants, wasn't it? So, we switch from "Alien," which also means unfamiliar, while also invoking at least some fear, because people instinctively fear that which is unknown, or alien to them. Thus we change from a big negative index, to a neutral or even a positive index. Then the prefix adjective, "Undocumented," which means "not supported by documentary evidence." We can rationalize this by saying, "If I'm driving my car and don't have my drivers license when I get stopped, I'm undocumented." Or you can think about that "undocumented expense report" because you didn't provide the necessary paperwork to justify your claim. You can almost begin to think that the Undocumented Immigrant belongs here, they just haven't made it through the bureaucratic red tape to become full citizens yet. Again, when comparing the indexes between "Illegal" and "Undocumented," the index is way lower for the latter.

I bring this up because if you haven't noticed the MSM has decided to change the words used to describe President Trumps actions to undue the Socialization of the United States.

Case in point: Trump Pulls Back Obama-Era Protections For Women Workers.

Do you see it? The word "protections" is used rather than "Executive Orders." When you actually read the article, it says this:

On March 27, Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order then-President Barack Obama put in place to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with 14 labor and civil rights laws. The Fair Pay order was put in place after a 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation showed that companies with rampant violations were being awarded millions in federal contracts.

So this Obama EO merely mandates that agencies contracting out for goods and services follow the law instead of going with who pays the better bribes. Because if the agencies performed their due diligence in screening bidders, this wouldn't happen, right?

Now if I were to write the headline to be more accurate, it would say "Trump Revokes Obama Executive Order For Women Workers." Reading my version, your reaction is probably either "meh, so what?" or "Hell yeah! Get rid of those Obama Executive Orders!" Reading the original headline gives the impression that Trump actively hurt women workers. Which is BS, because Obama's EO merely reminds government agencies that for contracts over $500k, the agency must make sure that the bidder is in compliance with existing law.

(Side note: In doing research on this, I found a whole bunch of juicy stuff on the gender pay gap that merits its own post. Stay tuned for that! But I digress)

So, "Rolling back PROTECTIONS" is a lot more inflammatory than "Rolling back EXECUTIVE ORDERS." See what I mean? Of course, if this were 2009 and Obama was rolling back Bush EO's, would the headlines say the same thing? I think it would be quite the opposite.

Do it for the children

Before I begin this, I want you to have some concepts rolling around in your consciousness.

First, I found these words from Calvin Coolidge the other day:

A government which lays taxes on the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny. It condemns the citizen to servitude.

Those words tie nicely into my original starting point for this article:

When people die, any debts they have end with them. Secured assets like cars and houses go back to the note holders unless the heirs purchase the house/car or "reaffirm" the debts and continue the payments. Then everything of value that is remaining is sold to pay for any remaining debts (credit cards, student loans, etc.) of those who make claims against the estate. If the deceased’s estate does not have enough assets to pay all of the debts, then those creditors are stuck with the debt. They have no way to get their money back.

Now, imagine we do away with that concept. If your estate does not have sufficient money to pay all of your debts, your creditors can transfer your unpaid debts to your heirs. Would that change how you manage your current financial affairs? Are you okay with leaving your credit card and/or student loan debts to your children?

According to Nerd Wallet, the average US household holds a total of $16,700 of credit card debt and $49,900 of student loans. Be honest with yourself: would you be okay with dumping that debt on your children upon your inevitable demise?

If foisting your excesses upon your children does not sit well with you, why are you okay with the federal government doing it to all of our children?

This needs to be said again, and again, and again until it is hammered home to everybody:

Do not look to Washington to give you money and services, nor to help you whenever you encounter a difficulty in life. Look to your community instead.

Recently, I’m sure you saw the news headlines about President Trump cutting Meals on Wheels out of the budget. Listening to the MSM, you would think Trump shut the entire program down. The truth is a little different. MoW is a private organization and Trump cut off direct federal funding of MoW, which totaled 3% of their entire budget. The rest of the funding comes from donations from state and local governments, corporate sponsors and individual donations.

To be fair, future scheduled cuts of federal block grants to the states can cut up to another 18% from the MoW budget and that will hurt. The good news is, thanks to MSM misrepresentation of the initial facts, private donations to MoW have surged.

You may think that the MoW money is insignificant, however we need to do it to all programs like this, which I will explain why in a minute.

Consider that the US government has $20 Trillion in publicly held debt outstanding. Our “Unfunded Liabilities” (known expenses we will have to pay in the future) total $127 Trillion.

$127,000,000,000,000.00. That’s a lot of zeros. Let me describe it this way to give your head a chance to wrap around it:

A stack of 10,000 $100 bills ($1 Million) takes up a stack 12” by 12.5” by 4.3”, which comes out to 645 cubic inches or just over a third of a cubic foot. Now imagine your average Wal-Mart Supercenter. There is about 250,000 square feet of floor space in that building and it’s about 30 feet to the rafters. That’s 12.96 billion cubic feet.

To visualize $20 Trillion using $100 bills, we could fill that Supercenter from wall to wall and floor to rafters. At that point, there is still enough left to build a block in the parking lot that would measure 100’ wide by 100’ long and 30’ high.

For the unfunded mandates, figure 5 more Supercenters on top of that. That’s the debt we have left our children.

I created this visualization to try and give you an idea of the problem. I am not a Pollyanna who thinks “cutting the budget” alone will fix this problem. We the People have been electing people to Congress for over 50 years that are running the backhoes that are digging this fiscal hole. It will take 100 years of hard, concentrated fiscal discipline to undo what these Congresscritters have done to our children.

But like I said, we could cut the budget to zero, totally disbanding the federal government while still collecting all of these taxes and it would still take decades to get close to catching up.

As Dave Ramsey says, “If you’re in a hole, the first step is to stop digging!” We can’t cut the budget to stop getting farther into debt, we have to grow the economy so the taxes increase as well. You might want to read up on the Laffer Curve so we can create the proper conditions to create and grow businesses that employ more people and thus generate taxes. Then those tax rates should be mindfully and carefully adjusted to maximize growth and taxes in balance.

In the end, this means that Meals on Wheels, NPR, and many other programs must stop receiving federal money because the government is spending our children’s money today. If you want these and other programs and services to survive, donate your time and money to them. That’s a concept known as Freedom. You have the freedom to choose to do it or not, rather than be forced to be socially conscious” at the muzzle of a gun.

 

Love who you are

MidSouthCon 35 was this past weekend. Sarah is a wonderful person who hugs me every time she sees me. She is open and sassy and full of attitude. I like that in a person. Sarah decided to do some cosplay for the Con. Before she was anxious. I don't know how it went, however from her Facebook post, it was less than optimal.

To my friend Sarah, I want to be clear:

YOU ROCK.

You did something that I do not have the courage to do. The fact that despite your anxiousness, you went out and did it shows a level of courage that is unmistakable. Do not let anyone else define you. All you can do is your best.

To show you that you will always have haters, I want you to watch this video.

You are who you are. While you should always try to do better, measure yourself against who you were yesterday, not what somebody else is today.

A Good Man

A good man was lost yesterday. Louis Hudgings passed away yesterday, at the tender age of 98 years old. He was a 75 year Mason, having gone through his degrees right after serving in the Army Air Corps in WWII. He was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, he served as the Grand Commander for the York Rite in Tennessee in 1975, Master of two different lodges and many more things that I can't think of right now.

This man, up until the day he died, was of sound and sharp mind. His handshake was as strong as mine. He buried two wives and had six girlfriends that I knew of. Whenever Bartlett Lodge had an open function, he brought at least three of his girlfriends with him. During my year as Master, he was my Chaplain and sat on my right hand during every meeting. He made sure I didn't mess up too bad while sitting in the East.

He was a holder of the Pin of Excellence and was Bartlett's lead ritual instructor up until recently. He always was exacting, yet constructive in his criticism when you messed up the ritual. One time, a brother was obligating an Entered Apprentice degree for the first time (He played the Master, the biggest part) and the most important part of the degree, delivering the oath the man swears to, this brother got nervous and none of the words came out in the right order. After that part, when we were returning to our seats, Brother Louie said, "I've never heard that obligation before." I just about fell over.

This picture is from Bartlett Lodge's birthday party for him the year I was Master. I had arranged for the Mayor to make a birthday proclamation and it was presented to him by a city alderman.

Louie

You will be missed, Brother, Mentor and Friend. I have no doubt that when you stand before the Great White Throne, you will hear those welcome words from Him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

 

Turn this up to 11

My parents, both WWII veterans, greatly influenced my musical tastes. As a teenager, I ate my breakfast at the kitchen table with my dad, who listened to a local AM station that played Big Band and Swing music in the mornings. I came of age listening to more Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, the Dorsey Brothers and many other such musicians and groups. Those musicians are in my playlist today.

A couple of years ago, I happened on an the album Hot by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. I was intrigued by it because one song was called "Memphis Exorcism." When I played that song, I realized (happily) that Swing was not dead. It had grown while remaining true to its roots.

I recently purchased albums from three groups and I want to share them with you. If after listening to this music your toes aren't tappin' and your fingers aren't snappin', check your pulse.

First is the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. I bought their CD "Zoot Suit Riot" and have been kicking this up and down the streets of Memphis:

Second is the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the album "The Dirty Boogie." If the name or face seems familiar, it's because he was the front for The Stray Cats.

The third and not least, Bog Bad Voodoo Daddy, with the album of the same name.

Enjoy!

 

Rights and Not-Rights

More and more people are buying into "Not-Rights." It's time to set this straight.

Let's look first of all at the Rights granted to us under the Constitution. Most of these have phrases like, "Congress shall make no law...", "...shall not be infringed" or some derivative surrounding them:

  • Freedom of Religion
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of the Press
  • To peaceably assemble
  • To petition the government for a redress of grievances
  • To Bear Arms
  • To not house troops in your home
  • To be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects
  • To not have these searched except on a Warrant issued upon probable cause
  • To be indicted for a Felony only by a Grand Jury
  • To not be subject to double jeopardy
  • To not be compelled to be a witness against yourself
  • To not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law
  • To be justly compensated when property is taken for public use
  • To enjoy a speedy and public trial
  • To be tried by a jury of your peers
  • To see the witnesses against him
  • To be able to compel witnesses for him
  • To have the opportunity for a lawyers counsel
  • To have a trial by jury for a lawsuit  in excess of $20 (today, about $500)
  • To not have excessive bail when arrested
  • To not have excessive fines upon conviction
  • To not have punishments be cruel and unusual

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are the "catchall" amendments and do not cover specific things.

Study these Rights intently. Notice what they have in common? With the exception of "To be able to compel witnesses for him", these all restrict the government's authority over the Citizens of the United States. The government must allow (as in they cannot pass a law to abolish) the ability of the individual citizen to say what he wants to say, to worship the God of their choice and in the manner consistent with the teaching of that God, to not have a government agent go through your personal life without probable cause that a crime has been committed and so on.

Now we come to the "Not-Rights" that have been claimed by the Liberals in order to make themselves feel good and win people who also desire to "do the right thing" to their side. There are several categories of Rights, such as universal (held by everyone), inalienable (you have these rights, even if your current government is repressing you/them) and economic/social (something is granted to you because you are a citizen).

This article is focusing exclusively on the following rights, which would fall under the "economic and social" rights:

  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Employment

So what are the difference between the four "not-rights" immediately above and the twenty-three I listed earlier? The most obvious one is "they aren't in the Constitution," and you would be right. But there is another, deeper reason. See it?

These four are all services and/or products produced by someone else. In simple terms, these Not-Rights are a hidden redistribution of wealth. Why is that? I will be happy to explain.

In Healthcare, you have Doctors, Physicians Assistants, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Therapists, Technicians, Paramedics, CNAs, the list goes on and on. For Housing, there are Architects, General Contractors, Carpenters, Plumbers, Electricians, and again, the list goes on. Under Food, you have Farmers of many types and all of the people who process the food to render it usable to you. Employment covers every business and government entity in the country.

In order for the government to give you these things (healthcare, a place to sleep, food and a place to work), they must mandate (i.e., TAKE) these work products from someone else. I am not going to suppose this is a Totalitarian State such as the Soviet Union, China and so on, but rather that the government will subsidize the price to the end user some amount.

Let's say that the government will provide a shotgun house (known in today's terms as a micro house) to everyone who wants one. For the sake of the argument, this house sells for $40,000 on the open market. However, the government as part of it's "Everyone Deserves a House" program needs 12 Million of them that they will provide to the citizens for "free." This would cost $480 Billion just for the houses, not to mention the government agency to oversee the construction, the bureaucrats to perform who decides what house they live in, the maintenance and upkeep, etc, but I digress.

But you see, the government never pays full price. They pay what they want to pay and it's left to the builder to make the product (the house) fit the specifications within the cost constraints. For the sake of argument, let's say the materials (wood, drywall, wiring and the like) costs $30,000 and the labor $10,000 to build that house. If the government decides it will only pay $30,000 per house, then the contractor has some hard choices to make. He either cuts the pay to his workers and/or he cuts the quality of the components. If he cannot make an adequate profit (his pay) then he or he won't build them at all.

But our contractor does decide to build the houses anyway. Due to the lower payment he receives for his efforts, when compared to the free-market $40k house, the contractor has to use a lower grade of wood in building the frame, then downgrades components (like from this kitchen faucet to this one, saving about $450), the decorative touches go away and he cuts the pay for the skilled workmen by 20%. For a carpenter, the average pay is $20/hour, however the budget only has room to pay him $16/hour.

So let's see how this program impacts Robert the Carpenter. First of all, he is bringing home $320 less for a two-week paycheck on the top line. Second, in order for the government to pay the General Contractor to build them, the government hikes the income withholding tax rate by 10%. That actually adds $30 back into his paycheck because while the tax rate rose, the base income fell with the result he's paying less in taxes, only because he's making less. By the time the changes hit his take home pay, he's making $290 less every two weeks.

Or Robert could be paid his full $20/hour, but he has to put up one of these micro houses faster. If it takes him 100 hours for his part in erecting a $40,000 house, he now has to do it in 80 hours for the government house. If you think the quality of the houses produced at this faster pace won't be lower, you're an idiot.

This same example can apply to any other "not-right" as well. The government bureaucrat does not really care about the cost or the quality of the product or service. The contractor does not care about the quality beyond the minimum standards and does not care if you like it or not because you're not paying him for it, he gets his money no matter what. The end result is you get stuck with a sub-standard product because no one involved really cares how you feel about it.

As far as employment goes, let's just say that the "Full Employment Act" becomes law and employers are mandated to have a certain number of "government" jobs, all paying that magical $15/hour. Every thing is great if you already have a job. The defecation impacts the rotary oscillator (the shit hits the fan) when you lose your job. Because once you become unemployed, you join the masses. You are assigned a job and your talents and passions do not matter one whit to the bureaucrat charged with getting you employed again. You are forced into the first open position. You will stay there until you find a better job, if you can take the time off to do interviews that is. In the mean time, do you really think that anybody in a forced labor situation, getting a "living wage" who can't be fired will more than likely do very poor work.

Think about how much quality and enthusiasm you would put into your work product if you had to work either off the clock or at a reduced rate for a day or two a week. Then think about how that forced work hurts you while "helping" others.

Chutzpah

Dictionary.com defines chutzpah as:

1. unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall.
2. audacity; nerve.

It was best explained to me as, “Someone who kills their parents, then throws themselves on the mercy of the court during the murder trial for being an orphan.”

This comes from the Washington Times article, Philadelphia soda tax fizzles in first month, layoffs likely: Reports.

When Liberals want to tax (control) something, they don’t believe that their actions will affect what they are trying to control. So they are genuinely surprised when the citizens’ behavior changes as a result of their actions. The truly amazing thing is Liberals use “sin taxes” as a means to change citizens’ behavior so that the citizens don’t do what Liberals consider “bad things,” i.e. smoking and drinking (both alcohol and sodas). They want you to change your behavior away from “bad things,” but then again they don’t want you to. It’s kind of like a “Have your cake and eat it too.”

Philadelphia instituted on January 1st 2017, a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on soda. Before the tax, Philadelphia consumed about 3.95 million gallons of soda per month. 3.95 million times $0.015 equates out to the $7.5 million in taxes they projected. This tax means on the personal level about $1.52 more when you purchase a 6-pack of 500ml ounce sodas or $1.01 for a 2-liter bottle.

The beginning of the article spoke about only $2.3 million was collected in January for the first months’ taxes. That translates to only 1.2 million gallons of soda was purchased, or a drop of 60%. The next several paragraphs are about how layoffs are already happening and more appear inevitable with the bottlers of the soda and grocery stores inside the city.

This drop represents the fact that citizens have altered their purchasing habits based on this tax. Either people are buying less, or they are shopping outside of Philadelphia where the tax is not collected. If you have watched Hillsdale’s Economics 101 video course, they repeatedly talk about how when prices rise, less people will choose to purchase that product or service, because it is no longer worth the increased price to them. Remember that 6-pack of soda above? That tax adds 50% onto the final price. A $2.99 six-pack now costs $4.51. That 99 cent 2-liter now costs $2.00 for a jump of 102%.

Near the end of the article, the Mayor’s office released a “full accounting” number of $5.7 million in taxes collected, or a drop of 24% of soda purchased. No matter how you slice it, a 24% drop is still a catastrophic drop in sales.

Here’s where the chutzpah comes in:

“I didn’t think it was possible for the soda industry to be any greedier,” Mayor Jim Kenney told the Inquirer. “They are so committed to stopping this tax from spreading to other cities that they are not only passing the tax they should be paying onto their customer, they are actually willing to threaten working men and women’s jobs rather than marginally reduce their seven-figure bonuses.” [emphasis mine]

I have seen the sign in many businesses, "We don't charge tax, we only collect it." If the Philadelphia city government directly taxed the bottlers this tax, the bottler would pass it along to the consumer just like every cost incurred in bringing the product to market. However, this tax is a sales tax, charged to no one but the consumer.

As far as the "marginally [reducing] their seven-figure bonuses" goes, evidently the mayor thinks that the soda bottlers should reduce their profits and prices so that the government can get their money. When I wrote that last sentence, the Dragnet 1967 episode “The Squeeze” came to mind. In that episode the bad guy was caught on a wiretap saying something like, “You’re going to start giving me 3% of your sales, or bad things will happen to you.” Basically, the mayor of Philadelphia is attempting to extort money from the soda bottlers. The Mayor wants his taxes and not a penny less than he thinks the government should get.

The continued collection of this tax will have disastrous consequences for the businesses who sell this product in that city. While all soda sales will not stop, the amount purchased in the city will virtually drop to zero. This will severely hurt grocery stores, fast-food establishments, convenience stores and all the other places that sell sodas. People will be put out of work, business will close and the one thing that will start that cascade is this tax.

 

What Socialism always leads to

The consequences and end result of Socialism are evident, if you open your eyes, ears, mind and heart. “Democratic Socialism” is the same thing with different window dressing.

Socialism, for those of you who don’t know what that means, is governmental control of the means of production in a country. Government bureaucrats determine what you are paid and what the factories will produce. If the bureaucrat in charge doesn’t think that iPhones (or whatever) need to be made, then there won’t be any iPhones made.

The problem with this economic model is that it is not agile, or able to quickly adjust to unanticipated needs or conditions. If a population needs Widget B instead of Widget A, which is being produced right now, individual companies in a free-market economy can switch to producing Widget B a lot faster than a single bureaucrat operating in a command economy. Bernie Sanders shot Socialism in the foot recently, when he told a lady running a hairdressing business in Tulsa, Oklahoma that "he knows nothing about hair dressing or the economy of Tulsa." No bureaucrat running things from Washington D.C. will have that kind of prescient knowledge about hairdressing in Tulsa, or the condition of the quality of cattle in Texas, and so on.

Another symptom of command economies is price-fixing. The bureaucrat decides the price of the item being sold. This invariably leads to black markets because price controls inevitably lead to shortages and/or rationing. Case in point, in 2013, there was (and still is) a severe shortage of toilet paper in Venezuela. A 2015 article shows this: An economist just explained Venezuela's chronic shortage of toilet paper. Basically, the Venezuelan government heavily subsidized the purchase of toilet paper and the companies that imported the TP then exported half of it to reap enormous profits and used that money to buy better stuff to sell. Because of the difference in currency exchange rates (the Venezuelan government said the exchange rate is “6.35 Bolivars to 1 US Dollar”, however real world says 800:1) the company re-exporting the TP makes 13,500% profit on the TP, rather than 20% selling it in the country. They then use that cash to purchase something not subsidized and can be sold at market prices. The end result is not enough TP for the people of Venezuela. Multiply that by hundreds of other goods and products and you see why their economy is in ruins. Since this price-fixing and profiteering affects every aspect of the economy, to say food and other essentials are in short supply is an understatement.

According to the Encovi 2016 Living Conditions Survey (sorry, it’s in Spanish), the bottom 75% of the population of Venezuela (since the rich almost never starve) have lost an average of 19 pounds in the past year because there is not enough food. 82% of the households in Venezuela live in poverty. This is a country that is sitting on their own ocean of oil. It's not like they don't have a valuable commodity. However, because the oil production is controlled by the government, they have destroyed that as well.

Some of you Socialists out there will say, “the right people weren’t running things.” Let me say this in response: It doesn't matter who is running things, it's a shit system and the best administrator with the best staff in history will still screw things up royally.

Here’s a few more data points that indicate a trend, not just anecdotal evidence:

In the 1970’s, the USSR (Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics) was importing US wheat because their collective farms weren’t producing enough to feed their population. The funny thing about it is, in the late 70’s, the Soviet farmers were allocated small plots of land where they could grow and sell wheat and vegetables. Those “small plots” quickly outperformed the much larger collective farms.

Today, thanks to decades of malnutrition and famine, both byproducts of a Socialist control economy, North Korean people escaping to South Korea are 1-3 inches shorter than South Koreans. Because of their “genetic purity” (there has been no significant immigration, and thus no "dilution" of the Korean race in hundreds of years), this height difference can be attributed solely to the lack of adequate nutrition on the North Korean side.

If these “malignant indifference” byproducts of an all-powerful, centralized government weren’t enough to put you off Socialism, might we discuss the 170,000,000+ people killed by Socialist governments in the 20th century? Most of these people died slow, horrible deaths due to starvation and disease. When those brutal Socialist governments got tired of waiting for them to die and were actually appalled by the temerity of these people to survive, then they just went in and shot them.

The paper in the last link refers to those countries as "Communist." True Communism is where there is no government. After transitioning through Socialism from Capitalism, when the leaders of the Socialist countries "decide that the time is right" (e.g., after they die), the government will "fade away" and everybody will work together and for all. Which is a pretty way of saying "Anarchy."

Anytime, anywhere someone else hundreds or thousands of miles from where you live had the ability to decide what you will be paid for your labor, where you will work, what you will (or will not) buy and so on, that never ends well for you. History is replete with those examples.

 

You can like me now!

I finally went ahead and researched and installed code for my website to add Facebook "Like" buttons for each of my posts. It will take a while for me to delve into my archives, which my take a while due to my amounts of copious free time. Please like me whenever you can.