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Quick Updates

I have partially fixed the issue with the deep dives for mobile users. You can see the images, however the layout leaves something to be desired...

 

Also working on my library, I have books that you aren't seeing and now I know why.

Why big government is bad

One of my core values is that people should live as they please with a minimum intrusion from government. The People should be able to act in their affairs as they please, even to their own detriment as long as the actions do not hurt others. The laws should be as few as possible and they should (in our Founding Fathers words) "be understandable while running."

Milton Friedman, in his case against big government, says this (paraphrased): "Big business and big government are friends. Big business can lobby to the government for laws that favor them and hurt their competitors. Big government would have that power, while a limited government would not. " So, all y'all who want government in every aspect of people's lives are helping the mega-corporations all y'all rail against.

Case in point: Thanks To Lobbying, It's Illegal To Power Your Home With Solar Panels In Florida.

I bet you didn't know it, in many areas, especially urban areas, it is actually against the law for your home to not be connected to the electrical grid. Let me explain why.

A former supervisor and good friend of mine lost her house in the Nashville Floods some years back. She lived on the shore of a river that was flooded to prevent the breach of a dam. She rebuilt her home, literally 12 feet higher. She had a cinderblock foundation 12 feet high (that is now a garage and storage area) built, then her house was built on top of that. The thing of it was, when the house was finished, she couldn't move in until a "Certificate of Occupancy" was issued by the local building inspector giving her permission to live in her house.

Back in the 1930's, during the early days of the Tennessee Valley Authority, many homes in remote areas that wanted electricity in their homes used gasoline generators or private (small) hydroelectric dams to power them. Then the TVA came along and "insisted" that these remote homes connect to the electrical grid (and pay to plant poles and run the wires up there). Those people who were resistant to the insistent sometimes would find a bullet hole in their generator, or their dam exploded, ruining their power production.

I bring up those stories because if someone finds out that you have disconnected from the utilities, the utility company can get the government to revoke the Certificate of Occupancy for your home. It won't matter that you have a Tesla roof and power wall, the government will force you to vacate your home until you restore utilities. Don't think so? Call your local power monopoly and ask them what would happen if you told them to pull their electric meter.

Give this some serious thought. Citizens in states with prevalent sunshine (Hawaii, Florida, Texas, etc.) would have a great opportunity to live on their own terms, generating and storing their own electricity. Big, controlling governments and power monopolies however don't like that. They can't control you as easily, nor take your money willy-nilly.

Just remember shit like this when you demand a controlling, Socialist nanny-state to run your life for you. The end result will be you won't have the ability to act in your own best interest without prior permission from government. Yeah, good luck with that.

 

But at what cost?

Since Obamacare became the laws of the land, I have been saying "Obamacare was designed from the start to be a clusterfuck of Biblical proportions. It is so bad, once it is fully in place and people see just how bad it truly is, they will clamor for anything that's not Obamacare. And that's when Single-Payer will be rolled out."

We are now at that point.

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will introduce this bill to the Senate, "The Medicare for All Act." The good news is, 2/3rds of Democrats realize that they are dead politically if the co-sponsor this bill. Those who are on the record as co-sponsors are Tammy BALDWIN (D-WI),Richard BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), Cory BOOKER (D-NJ), Al FRANKEN (D-MI), Kirsten GILLIBRAND (D-NY), Kamala HARRIS (D-CA), Martin HEINRICH (D-NM), Mazie HIRONO (D-HI), Patrick LEAHY (D-VT), Mr. Edward MARKEY (D-MA), Jeff MERKLEY (D-OR), Brian SCHATZ (D-HI), Tom UDALL (D-NM), Elizabeth WARREN (D-MA), Sheldon WHITEHOUSE (D-RI).

Would you like to know the unfortunate truth? You know, those pesky things called facts about what will most likely be the consequences if this (or some version) becomes law? We only have to look as far as Senator Sanders home state of Vermont and his own words.

From Sanders' own mouth,

“But I think what we understand,” Sanders said. “Is that unless we change the funding system and the control mechanism in this country to do that. For example, if we expanded Medicaid [to] everybody. Give everybody a Medicaid card – we would be spending such an astronomical sum of money that, you know, we would bankrupt the nation.” [emphasis mine]

From the Wall Street Journal article, The Single-Payer Siren Song (it's behind a paywall, but the important part is right there) where Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin was actively looking at a Single-payer system for his state. He abandoned the idea in 2014 when he realized there would have to be an additional 11.5% payroll tax, plus raising the income tax by up to 9.5%.

In my personal case, if my income was divested of my healthcare deductions, then the payroll tax and income taxes were added, my bi-weekly take-home pay would probably drop about $125 a check because the taxes are more than what I'm paying now. Someone making say $15/hour without benefits, their paycheck would DROP at least $350 a paycheck. Considering they were only bringing home $2,185 before, that just got cut to $1,817 for two weeks at your "living wage."

And, of course, costs and prices would skyrocket because Medicaid only pays providers 80% of what private insurance pays them. Just as an economic survival factor, providers will have to raise their prices to Medicaid by 20% to not take a pay cut. Or, no longer accept Medicaid insurance.

Just as a thought exercise, what do you think would happen if "BernieCare" became law of the land and everyone got a Medicaid card, but no doctors would accept it?

Every time you disconnect the cost of a good or service from the price paid by the consumer for that good or service, prices go up because nobody really cares what the prices are because they don't have to pay for it. It's "free" to them.

Prices come down when the consumer has a choice and price shops. Why should I pay $100 for a service at Dr. A when Dr. B offers the same service and quality for $80? We see that every day because millions of people go to Amazon to buy stuff and not the store down the street because the price of goods on Amazon are cheaper and delivered to your door.

What we need are prices at a doctor's office up on the wall like they are at McDonald's. You walk in and see what an office visit costs, how much for lab testing, and all the way down the line. We can then look on the insurance company's website and see how much they pay for those services. You go to the provider, get the service, get the bill to show what services you received. You then send it off to the insurance company and they reimburse you. Because you price shopped, you can either pay or pocket the difference.

It would take 18-24 months for everything to stabilize, but I can be reasonably sure that prices will come down. Why? Because the consumer can decide if the price is worth the cost. Remember, the cost is what you pay in cash, the price is what you have to do (work overtime, sell things, skimp on other things, etc.) to acquire that amount of cash. If a family member comes down with cancer or other serious condition, the family makes the decision on how much care (if any) the member gets. If the treatment for a cancer diagnosis will cost the family $20,000 (Because it will cost $100,000 and the insurance will only pay $80,000), which would grant the sick member with a 20% to live more than a year, what would you do? The choices are simple, destroy the families finances and more than likely die in a year or two, or pass on sooner.

Yes, choices like that are upsetting. They are not easy and you will live with regret either way. Today we see cases where people will demand insurance companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to extend the life of someone by a few weeks or months. Is this cost-effective? Say we have a finite pool of money (because, you know, we do). We can use this money to either extend the life of person A by 6 months, or extend the life of person B 20 years. Or, how about extending the lives of 20 people (B through U) by one year? If you were a family member of A, what would you choose?

What upsets me is Liberals screaming "PEOPLE WILL DIE WITHOUT HEALTHCARE!!!!1!!!!!111" I hate to tell them this, people die every day, sometimes with the best healthcare on the planet. Medicine can only delay what is inevitable for all of us. In fact, medical errors in the US account for over 250,000 deaths annually, third in number after heart disease and cancer.

Think about it. Most of the time, medical care only treats the symptoms of the illness until the body itself can repair the damage. If you get a cold, the doctor tells you to buy stuff that will stop the runny nose, body aches, diarrhea, vomiting and so on so you can not feel so bad and can function until your body kills off whatever is making you sick. For emergency care, say you gash your arm or get a compound fracture on your leg, the medical professionals who treat you will only stop the bleeding, keep you breathing and prevent infection until your body can repair itself. People die only because the body cannot repair the damage or illness happening to it.

I know this stuff is hard. No one wants to make these kind of choices. That being said, we all make choices daily that have lasting effects. They have to be made because we can't have "everything all the time." To think so is to not live in reality.

History is very messy

History is a very messy affair. No person of historical significance (other than Jesus) has ever been perfectly good or perfectly bad because we are all flawed beings. We all make conscious choices that we know when we make that choice are good or evil, sometimes the choices we make and think are good turn out later to have disastrous consequences and vice versa.

My lesson here is "Never take the condensed version of history at face value."

Case in point: The Cuban Missile Crisis. History is full of stories about how JFK "Faced down the Soviets aggression and made them blink under the threat of a nuclear war." History is not as compelled to tell you why the Soviets put those missiles in Cuba. You see, in 1961, Kennedy deployed Jupiter IRBMs (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles, ICBM's baby brother) in Turkey and Italy. Which for the Soviets, was their equivalent of them planting missiles in Cuba was for us. Had Kennedy not deployed IRBMs to Europe, the Soviet Union would not have deployed IRBMs to Cuba.

Second case in point: Have you ever owned or ridden in a Volkswagon Beetle? This iconic vehicle, of which over 21 million were made, was the brainchild of... Wait for it... Adolph Hitler. In German, "Volkswagon" literally means "People's car" or "A car for the people." Please, tell your local Antifa member who owns one of this fact. Does that excuse his brutal extermination of 20 million "undesirables" plus the 83 million war dead? Of course not.

So now let's get to my main point, the Civil War.

Robert E. Lee was initially offered the position of Commander of the Union Army when the Southern States started seceding. At that time, many Citizens of the United States regarded themselves as Citizens of the State first, then as a Citizen of the United States. Lee declined the offer when Virginia seceded because his loyalties were with Virginia, not the Union. Technically, he did not own slaves. His wife (a granddaughter of Martha Washington, her father was adopted by Washington) inherited 57 slaves and the land that now comprises Arlington Cemetery when her father died in 1857. George Washington Parke Custis (Lee's father-in-law)  stipulated in his will that the slaves be freed within five years of his death. Lee, one of the executors of his father-in-law's estate, freed the slaves five years and two months after Custis' passing. Lee had not owned slaves prior to this, nor afterwards.

Abraham Lincoln, that "savior of the Union," tromped on the Constitution so hard and so many times that it is astounding. Too bad history does not cover very well that he suspended habeas corpus so that Lincoln could jail state and federal lawmakers who opposed him. His violations are too numerous to mention in the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, Lincoln's presidency could be best described only by words from a hundred years later, "We had to destroy the village to save it."

Then you have that old devil, Nathan Bedford Forrest. Yes, that "founding member and Grand Wizard of the KKK." The facts state otherwise. He was an early member, not a founding member, there is a difference. The evidence he was a "Grand Wizard" of the KKK seems to be that the position was invented for him.

Yet, he turned away from the KKK. As Grand Wizard, in January 1869 he issued KKK General Order Number One: "It is therefore ordered and decreed, that the masks and costumes of this Order be entirely abolished and destroyed."

His last public appearance, at a July 1875 meeting of the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association, an organization of black Southerners advocating racial reconciliation, Forrest made these remarks:

Ladies and Gentlemen I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God's earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. (Immense applause and laughter.) This day is a day that is proud to me, having occupied the position that I did for the past twelve years, and been misunderstood by your race. This is the first opportunity I have had during that time to say that I am your friend. I am here a representative of the southern people, one more slandered and maligned than any man in the nation.

I will say to you and to the colored race that men who bore arms and followed the flag of the Confederacy are, with very few exceptions, your friends. I have an opportunity of saying what I have always felt – that I am your friend, for my interests are your interests, and your interests are my interests. We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, and live in the same land. Why, then, can we not live as brothers? I will say that when the war broke out I felt it my duty to stand by my people. When the time came I did the best I could, and I don't believe I flickered. I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe that I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to bring about peace. It has always been my motto to elevate every man- to depress none. (Applause.) I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going.

I have not said anything about politics today. I don't propose to say anything about politics. You have a right to elect whom you please; vote for the man you think best, and I think, when that is done, that you and I are freemen. Do as you consider right and honest in electing men for office. I did not come here to make you a long speech, although invited to do so by you. I am not much of a speaker, and my business prevented me from preparing myself. I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment. Use your best judgment in selecting men for office and vote as you think right.

Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. I have been in the heat of battle when colored men, asked me to protect them. I have placed myself between them and the bullets of my men, and told them they should be kept unharmed. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I'll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand" (Prolonged applause.)

I don't know about you, but that sounds like someone who made a mistake and was trying to do the right thing. Did I mention that in August 1874, Forrest wrote to Tennessee Governor Brown, offering "to exterminate the white marauders who disgrace their race by this cowardly murder of Negroes"? Does this sound like a man who he is currently painted to be?

Don't paint people in absolutes, because we aren't.

 

Switching Sides

I have been hearing lately about “sure, the KKK used to be Democrats, but now they’re Republicans.” This has caused some confusion in my mind, so I’ve been doing some research off and on, while letting my subconscious mull it over. A couple of days ago, I got the message from my subconscious saying that a conclusion has been reached, so here it is:

First of all, history is unequivocal in the facts that Democrats were the party that supported slavery. After the Civil War, it was Democrats that formed the Klu Klux Klan, and forced Jim Crow laws on Blacks in the South.

In the 1950’s, it was Democrats that fought integration of the schools. George Wallace, the Democrat Governor of Alabama himself stood at the doors of the school that was the first to be integrated. The Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was to support the SCOTUS decision Brown v. Board of Education. Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC) filibustered the bill in the Senate for 24 hours and 18 minutes by himself. By the way, 107 House Democrats and 18 Senate Democrats voted against this bill. 19 House Republicans also voted against it.

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was being debated, Senator Thurmond again led the filibuster effort, blocking all work in the Senate for 57 working days (the Senate is only “in session” three days a week). Senators Richard Russell (D-GA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), William Fulbright (D-AR) and Sam Ervin (D-NC) filled out the filibuster team.

According to people who have told me “Klukkers are now Republicans” it was about this time that the “racist Democrats” heard the “Republican Dog Whistle” that the GOP was going to be the “party of racists” and invited them to switch sides. Never mind that the Republican Party was formed specifically to end slavery. Please, forget that most of the integration and equality efforts were by Republicans.

I will admit, that this is when the Republican Party started its ascent to prominence in the politics of the South, but it was not because of a “Republican Dog Whistle.” It was for another, more basic reason.

President John F. Kennedy, who is still by-and-large revered by Democrats, would have been a Republican today. A Roman Catholic, he would probably have been against Roe v. Wade. I can be as sure as anyone can be today because Kennedy appointed one Justice to SCOTUS, Byron White, who voted against the decision. Kennedy was also pro-RKBA, pro-tax cuts and anti-affirmative action. Kennedy’s positions on these subjects were considered the ideological base of the Democrat Party in 1960.

It was in 1962 that Reagan switched from being a Democrat to a Republican, saying that famous line, “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left me.”

That the Democrat Party has stood for higher taxes, anti-gun, pro-affirmative action and pro-abortion (because, you know we have to force pro-life clinics to talk about abortions) since about 1968 until today, only says that the people who have run the Democrat Party have moved very far Left in their political views.
Coupled with the “toe-the-line-or-lose-your-toes” stance Liberals have (remember my post on Liberals eating their own?), it is no wonder that some Democrats have switched sides. They remained where they were ideologically, however the Democrats run to the Far-Left meant that some of these people found their ideological beliefs now aligned more with Republicans than Democrats.

How about that. Occam's Razor still applies.

Hoist by their own petard

Before I start this, let me be unequivocal: I do not want to write this. The suggestions I will make later are detestable, especially to me. That being said, Liberals opened a door I have repeatedly warned them about. You made your bed, now lie in it.

I HATE klukkers and supremacists of any color. I hate them more than the Blues Brothers put together and multiplied by several orders of magnitude. If you believe that one person or group is better than another person or group based on skin color or genetic heritage, you are a fucking idiot and I give you fair warning, do not try your shit with me. If you do, I will be all up on you to a scale that will have R. Lee Ermey giving me a slow clap. If I find a supremacist (no matter the color) on fire, I will not throw gasoline on him. I will throw kerosene on him, because it burns slower and at a lower temperature, thus it would be a longer and more painful experience.

As a young man of 14, I first heard and took to heart the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to judge people by the content of their character rather than their skin color. I have never regretted that decision. As a young man, I had a KKK member try to recruit me. The event was so sickening to me that almost 40 years later, I still remember where I was, his face and what the business card he gave me said.

That being said, I am going to say something that upsets me. You see, in the wake of the recent events in Charlottesville, GoDaddy kicked a white supremacist website, The Daily Stormer, off their servers. Let me tell you why I am against that.

The MSM has always employed a trick to play up (or down) crowd size in order to advance their agenda. When 200 people showed up to a Hillary rally, the MSM implied 2,000 showed up, while when 2,000 showed up at a Trump rally, the MSM made it seem like only 200 showed up. They are doing the same with these white supremacists.

If you rounded up every white supremacist in the United States (no, we are NOT going to shoot them) and dropped them all in the same congressional district, they could put up one of their own for Congress and not win. There is not enough of them to be the majority in a single Congressional District. While they do exist, the numbers are few, bordering on insignificant.

The supremacists, with the help of the MSM, are following the first rule of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have. The supremacists want to appear bigger than they are (to imply they have more power than they actually have) and the MSM wants them to appear bigger than they are so the MSM looks more powerful than they are when the MSM “takes down the alt-Right.”

Now, in case you missed it in the SCOTUS case Metal v. Tam, the Supreme Court ruled (split decision 4-4, but both sides basically agreed) that:

A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an “egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.” … A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.

So there can be no “hate speech” standard, because a) the government would have to define it and b) the government is restricted in every way, shape or form from touching that subject. There are very special and specific restrictions, namely Obscenity, Child Pornography and “Fighting Words and True Threats.” You can read about it here.

A supremacist website can legally say “We’re better than you!” all they want. They will and should run afoul of legal entanglements if they start calling for “All [insert color of choice here] people need to band together and eradicate all those who [insert nonsensical criteria here] tomorrow!”

Why would I want this kind of hateful spewing of ignorance available to everyone? Because if we as a society can restrict their speech, then eventually society might get around to restricting mine.

Just like Maximilien Robesperre who fanned the flames of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. As a member of the Committee of Public Safety, he sent thousands to “the National Razor” (i.e., the Guillotine). Because you cannot control a large monster like this once created, Robesperre himself eventually earned a place in that line that ended with his head in a basket. The lesson here is, if I call for “off with his head!” at someone today, others might call “off with his head!” at me tomorrow.

So I want these idiots on the Internet. That way, we know what they are saying and what they are doing. We fight ignorance and hate with truth and love. If we silence any group we don’t agree with, we force them into the darkness, where they and their ideas can fester, leading to long-term problems.

By the way, I do not condone doxing, because if done improperly, innocent people get hurt. Case in point, this image:

doxing

While these two men have a passing resemblance and the guy on the right works at the place the guy on the left has on his shirt, these are not the same person. I have a deep-dive article on this in progress.

Now we get to the part I do not want to write. That being said, I also don’t want myself or this website silenced or threatened with silence because someone decided the words on here constitute that ambiguous “hate speech.”

I stand up to protect the unrestricted voicing of opinions, no matter who says them. I will equally support Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, supremacists of all colors and creeds, all religions, the NRA, Hillary Clinton, Slate, Salon, Fox News, the New Black Panthers, the Huffington Post, Breitbart and a thousand more organizations. They should be allowed to voice their opinions as they see fit.

Now, if I think their views and opinions are stupid, I’m going to say that as well. I think they have to right to embarrass themselves in public however they want to.

I have said many times in many places (unfortunately I have not codified it on this website) that a business should have the right to refuse any transaction with a customer for any reason. However, in their rush for social justice, Liberals went the other way, thus forcing the door open for my following suggestion.

And just to prove that we are a nation of laws and not feelings (and the laws work equally for all), I offer this advice to the person who owns The Daily Stormer:

Just like the case of David Mullins and Charlie Craig sued Masterpiece Cakeshop and won because the bakery refused to produce a product for their same-sex marriage celebration, you can sue GoDaddy. Masterpiece Cakeshop ended up not producing cakes for anybody because of this situation.

You might not get your hosting back, however it would probably be easier and cheaper to capitulate and furnish your hosting than have the government force GoDaddy to provide “comprehensive staff training,” rewrite company policies and provide reports for the foreseeable future to make sure they aren’t violating the rights of anyone else.

In both Ohio, the state in which you reside, and Arizona where GoDaddy is located, there are public accommodation laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of religion or creed.

Mr. Daily Stormer, I’m sure you attend a church that makes the postulations on a regular basis that “Whites are the Superior Race.*” Using that as a basis, you can argue that since that is part of your religious belief system, your expressions of hate and derision for non-whites are religious in base and nature, thus protected by those same accommodation laws that same-sex couples can use to force a business to provide them a product or service against the will of the business owners.

I’m not a lawyer and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, however I think if you use that argument, you have a fair chance to force GoDaddy to accommodate you.

As a final thought, both radical left- and right-wing groups can use the same strategy and reasoning to prevent Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, snapchat and all of the other Social Media companies to likewise restrict their views.

This is why I advocate for government staying out of peoples’ lives as much as possible. Because when you set the precedent for government to force a business to do (or not do) something that the government shouldn’t be regulating in the first place, don’t be shocked when that tactic and reasoning are used against you to force you to do something that is reprehensible to you. Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

* Of course, I’m reasonably sure if you attend church, it is probably some form of Christianity. A lot of supremacist people who are “God-fearing people” might be horrified to learn that Jesus was a Semitic Jew, dark-skinned and dark-haired. Not the blond haired, blue-eyed handsome guy you see in the drawings today.

Philly soda tax update

I wrote in March of this year the post Chutzpah about the 1.5 cent-per-ounce distribution tax on “sugary beverages” in Philadelphia. I found these two articles to explain what is going on today, Philly’s Drink Tax Is Hurting Consumers, Businesses, and the Poor and Soda Tax Experiment Failing in Philadelphia Amid Consumer Angst and Revenue Shortfalls.

The City initially estimated that they would collect $46.2 Million in revenue between January 1st, 2017 when the tax started and the end of its fiscal year June 30th. Through some accounting sleight-of-hand known as “revised projections,” city officials stated that they have “adjusted” this number to $39.7 Million, a 14% downward revision. Too bad the actual receipts came up short of even that number, at $39.46 Million.

As with most taxes, it hurts those on the bottom of the economic ladder the hardest. Those with transportation engaged in the classic American pastime of tax avoidance by shopping outside Philadelphia where the tax was not collected. Those who couldn’t drive out to the suburbs to shop made the difficult choice to buy less food or less soda.

Please notice in the receipt below that the tax is over half the price of the product and the transaction was cancelled.

philly soda tax receipt twitter

Then there are the secondary economic effects of such a tax, between Coca-Cola (40) and PepsiCo (80-100) over one hundred people have lost their jobs at the bottlers because of the drop in sales. PepsiCo is also pulling all of their 12-pack and 2-liter products from all stores that sell those products in Philadelphia. I don't have any information on if or how many people working at grocery stores, convenience stores and other places that sell soda have lost their jobs due to decreased sales at their store, or how many stores had to close because the drop in sales killed their profitability.

There is a (somewhat) good news part to this rather stupid idea, beer is now less expensive than soda, so Philadelphians are now consuming cheaper but higher calorie beer and thus becoming more overweight than they would have been if they had stuck with the now unaffordable soda. I called this a stupid idea because the tax covered all sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, sweetened water, pre-sweetened coffee and tea and mixers in alcoholic drinks. Starbucks and other places that prepared the drinks were exempted. To show you that this is about 1) controlling the citizens and 2) raising money for the city coffers by taxing citizens to the breaking point, zero-calorie diet drinks are also subject to the tax. Thomas Farley, the head of Philadelphia’s health department admitted his stupidity when he explained why diet drinks are included: “People will be less likely to switch from sugary drinks to diet drinks, but they may be more likely to switch from sugary drinks to water, and that is what we want.” (emphasis from National Review article)

So again, Liberals show their inability to grasp second-level thinking. They institute a tax and base their economic budgets on past levels of consumption, never considering for a second that their tax might cause a decrease in demand for the product they are taxing.

When (not if) the taxes come in short of what the politicians already spent, they face a fiscal crisis. This means the services supported by the tax are now cut back or even eliminated, while the citizens have less money in their pocket. Both lose in the short and long term.

 

Integrity Update

In this article I talked about the importance of integrity, the demand that your word be impeccable in your trustworthiness.

So now it comes to light via The Australian (sorry, it's behind a paywall) that the Thredbo Top weather station has been deleting record cold temperatures (remember it's Summer in the US, it's Winter in Australia). Two meteorologists noticed temperatures of about -10C (14 degrees Fahrenheit) disappear from the records.

The culprit? A smart card reader. Riiiiiiiiight.

It has been reported online that electronic smart cards were allegedly fitted to the BoM’s automatic weather stations, which put a limit on how low temperatures could be recorded in official weather data. The BoM declined to comment ahead of the internal review.

[...]

On her website yesterday, Dr Marohasy said it was not the recording­ devices that were at fault. “To be clear, the problem is not with the equipment; all that needs to be done is for the smart-card readers to be removed,” Dr Marohasy said.

I deal with card readers every day in my job. If a smart card reader is deleting data, then the idiots who wrote the firmware for the reader need to be flogged. There is no computational power in the reader itself to manipulate data other than to translate it from "computer-speak" to "smartcard-speak." At best, there has to be an logic trap that they screwed up on as part of the translation process because the deleted readers are all two digit negative numbers. At worst, the logic trap was intentionally there to "shave off " low temperatures. I will lean toward the former due to Occam's Razor, but I'm not entirely eliminating the latter.

 

Distractions from the real stuff

Back in January, right after Trump took office, I wrote the post Trump the Magnificent, which was all about misdirection.

Apparently, The Atlantic, not exactly a bastion of Conservative principles (I am being facetious, they are quite Liberal in their ink) recently came to the same realization. Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More Than It Appears.

While the Democrats and the MSM are distracted by Scaramucci's short tenure as White House Press Secretary, their persecution (not prosecution) of the "Trump-Russia collusion" and the rest of the "chaos," things have been happening behind the curtain that will have long-term effects.

Trump, between his Tweets, who he picks for various high-profile positions and their personal issues have created a smoke-screen that the shallow, salacious-seeking MSM can't get past to see the real changes being made.

When I play strategic-level wargames, I am always doing multiple feints. Except they aren't feints. Each one is a real threat and can strike a killing blow, or disappear in a puff of smoke when struck at. The Democrats and the MSM better hope and pray Trump is not as ruthless as I am. When I corner an enemy, I leave a way out. Sun Tzu taught me that because a cornered enemy will fight harder than one who can escape. Sun Tzu also taught me to make that "escape" a path straight to Hell with booby-traps, ambushes and dead-ends to sap the will of the enemy and pick them off until they are destroyed or surrender.

Trump is leading his opponents down a primrose path. By the time they realize where they are, they will be over the cliff, with jagged rocks rapidly approaching.

Trump is playing a very long game. And right now, he's winning.

The case for school vouchers

The definition of insanity is basically “doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result.” Stupidity has to be defined as “Trying harder to increase results when earlier tries with the same method have not produced a measurable positive result.”

It’s actually become one of those blasé dichotomies about Liberals: “We spend too much on healthcare!” but then they turn around and say “We need to spend more on education!” We as the government are spending more and more on education, yet we as children, parents and communities are receiving very little returns for our investment.

I found this PDF, State Education Trends where spending and SAT scores are broken down by state. The data is quite alarming. The spending by states on education between 1972 and 2010 has been nothing less than staggering. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the average nationwide school spending per student has increased 118 percent. There is a wide variance in the levels of the increase, Arizona’s spending has gone up only 60 percent while Montana’s spending increased a whopping 225 percent.

Yet, the Liberals favorite standard, the SAT scores (Liberals want everyone to go to college and not to trade school) has dropped. Four states have had the SAT scores increase over the given period, with Mississippi on top of the list at an 11 percent increase. Alabama, Louisiana and Michigan all also had an overall increase of SAT scores. North Carolina has remained unchanged. This leaves 45 states whose SAT scores have declined. For those of you who don’t math very well, 90% of the states have seen their SAT scores decline. New York and Delaware tied for the bottom at an 8 percent decline, followed by Wyoming (remember, their spending increased 225 percent) Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

Here’s the telling part: The number of school employees (Teachers, assistants, administrators, clerical staff, maintenance, etc.) have increased 97 percent. I find this interesting because in California (I don't know about the other states), teachers have the choice on if they want to join the state Teachers Union. However, paying dues to the union is mandatory. You have to pay, member or not. Where does that money go? Into lobbying to increase the scope and power of the public education system, of course! Where else would it go?

Here’s an example to give you a context. In 1970, say a school system had 1,000 students and 50 employees (a 20:1 ratio). In 2010, there are now 1,008 students and 99 employees, for a 10:1 ratio. So we have more people “working for the children,” but we aren’t seeing a net increase of our children’s test scores.

Since 2000, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has been giving a standardized test to 15-year-old students every three years to judge and rank countries by student performance. This test scores the students on math, science and reading.

In 2015, the United States scored 40th (470), 25th (496) and 24th (497) in the respective areas out of 72 countries. The #1 performer in all three areas? Singapore, scoring 564, 556 and 535. Here’s the kicker: According to UNESCO, in 2010 Singapore spent 11% of their GDP per capita per student on primary education and 16.7% on secondary education. The United States spent 20.9% on primary and 24.3% on secondary. When you factor in the difference between the GDP’s, Singapore spent 60% as much per student in elementary schools and 75% of what the US spent for high school.

If I was an educator with some common sense, (I have some common sense but I’m not an “educator” except in the context of this blog educating you, my dear readers) maybe we should send some people over there to you know, look at how they do things and see if we can use bits from it to improve our children’s scores?

The United States was meant from the outset for each state to be a “different experiment in freedom.” Everybody try things in different ways, then report back to the group on what works and what doesn’t. Then (the most important part) the states that didn’t do so hot go back and try what worked. Out of 100 different experiments, 90+ will probably fail, however they provide valuable data other states can use, even if they know what not to do. When we have one federal governmental bureaucratic entity dictating most of how things will be done, there is no room for that experimentation.

I cannot say this enough: I am all for maximum personal choice. I firmly believe that parents should have the choice to send their children to the school of their choice, public, private, charter or home. If the community charges school taxes, the parents should have that money earmarked for their children to pay for the school of their choice.

You don’t get better unless you have competition. Competition forces you to get better at your product or service. If you have no competition, you languish, if not decline because you don’t have to improve yourself. Your customers will come to you because they have no choice.

 

Why integrity is critical today

Simply put, there is too much information in the world today. Currently, we have about 1 Zettabyte (1 Billion Terabytes) of data (raw and processed) available on the Internet, with that number growing by terabytes almost every second. One person cannot absorb more than a shadow of a sliver of information for every subject that impacts their life. Even then, it would take months or years to be truly knowledgeable on even one subject.

This means that there is not enough time in the day for us to learn about and contemplate everything that affects our lives on the “meta” level. This means that we have to trust SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) to boil these critical subjects and discussions down into its core meaning so we can digest it, make a semi-informed decision on it and carry on with our daily lives.

Which leads us to an "Adam Ruins Everything" video. I have already commented on his video on the Electoral College. Adam lays out quite plainly in this video, Low-Fat Foods Are Making You Fatter that scientists either had a personal agenda or were paid to cherry-pick and “shave” data to provide the predetermined result of “fat makes you fatter.” I don’t care if it’s the Sugar Industry, the Beef Industry or the Vegan Industry, using data that only supports your predetermined conclusion theory, you’re lying.

Oh, sure, you can hide the true data in a single paragraph while you spend 20 pages explaining your predetermined conclusion, like I talked about here in Lying Statistics and say you’ve been truthful. That’s like a company having a 20 page EULA (End-User Licensing Agreement, all that Legalese you click “I Agree” on without reading when you buy software) that in the next-to-last paragraph, it says, “By agreeing to this EULA, you willingly surrender permanent and total custody of your immortal soul to this company.”

I understand the plight of the researcher. They are struggling to get funding to do their research, but many industries are only willing to pay for research that supports conclusions that are favorable to them. So if you surrender your integrity, you can get gobs of money to do research that is favorable to your sponsors. If you don’t, the end result is you leave the scientific/research industry because you can’t get funding. What I am trying to say that today, more than ever, we need to have integrity above all else in the industries that give us the information that is critical for us to make proper, informed choices.

I would welcome an honest, open, reasonable debate on the climate of our planet and possible solutions. Is Mankind significantly impacting the climate? I honestly don’t know. I am inclined to believe we are a flea jumping up and down on the back of an elephant, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. I don’t have the data, the training or the time to perform due diligence on the subject.

And when I see data that “proves” Global Warming is happening coming from weather stations 5 years before they are built, or I hear a change in how seawater temperatures are collected (was from heat neutral buoys, changed to ships that generate heat), or raw data is “revised” to be more in-line with the predetermined conclusions, the scientists lose their integrity in my eyes. I am also equally skeptical of the “Global Climate Change ‘Pause’ “ for the last 15-20 years.

Then you have the scaremongers who in the 70’s were screaming about “Global Cooling” and wanted Nixon to spread coal dust on the poles, to Al Gore in the early 90’s saying “we have 10 years to save the planet.”

Just as an aside, I heard a talk radio host from that time read passages from either Al Gore’s book Earth in the Balance or the Unabomber’s Manifesto and invited callers to guess which book the host was reading from. I could tell every time, but only because Ted Kaczynski’s 35,000 word diatribe was mostly multi-subject run-on sentences. The message was basically the same, Gore just had a better command of the language.

Back to the subject. So here we have government-sponsored scientists, backed by national governments (who always have a vested interest in increasing their control over the populace) “proving” Global Cooling, then Global Warming, then Global Climate Change (because that means whatever they want it to mean).
Whenever a spokesperson for any cause says, “We have to do this and we have to do it right now.” I go the opposite way on reflex. Why? Have you ever been the victim of a “con” or a “confidence scheme”? That’s exactly what the “con man” does. He gains your confidence by showing you something that you can confirm as truthful. Then he starts plausibly stretching the truth and speeding up the tempo so you don’t have the time to contemplate and check out the new information. He needs you to trust him, we need to get this done before the window of opportunity closes/the cops get here/whatever. It’s at this point (if he has gained your confidence) that your bank account empties into his and the con man disappears. This is also a common occurrence with unethical salesmen as well. “If you don’t sign this contract right now, your car will go out the door with someone else and you will never find another one like it again.”

The same exact thing applies in this instance. Al Gore flies in chartered jets to all corners of the globe to tell people they need to cut back on their CO2 emissions because the planet is “doomed” if you don’t do what he says starting when you walk out of the conference. Of course, you can buy “carbon credits” from him his company which will delay the “impending doom.”

By the way, his house down the road in Nashville uses more electricity in a month than my house does in a year. I guess conservation of our resources is only for the masses.

Just in case you think I’m picking specifically on Al, I would give the same scrutiny to Joel Osteen. I don’t play favorites.

What we, that’s you and I, need to do is demand integrity from everyone who impacts our lives. Our co-workers, our bosses, our elected leaders and most especially ourselves. Because a person builds their integrity on their word. If their word is no good, they have no business being in any leadership role or working in a critical infrastructure position.

As the old Russian saying goes, “Trust, but verify.”

 

The face of socialized medicine

Do you want to know why I am against government-controlled, single-payer socialized healthcare? Let me tell you.

Meet Charlie Gard:

PAY Charlie Gard

If you haven't been keeping up with the news, this 11-month-old child has a rare genetic defect called infantile-onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, or MDDS. It is so rare that there have been less than 30 documented cases world-wide. Charlie is deaf, blind and has severe brain damage from his condition since January 2017.

Having been born in Britain, he has been under the care of the National Health Service (NHS), Britain's Socialized healthcare system. The all-knowing, all-seeing doctors there have decided that there needs to be a cease in Charlie's care, allowing him to die from his condition. The doctors petitioned the court to carry these plans out and the court agreed. This is the perfect example of Sarah Palin's "Death Panels." Bureaucrats who have never met you and you will never be more to them than a file folder of information who will decide if you receive treatment or not.

Oh, but you see, it gets much, much better.

Charlie's parents don't want to give up on their child and let Charlie die. To that end, they have raised over $1.6 Million to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment that might save his life. They petitioned the court months ago to allow Charlie to travel and receive this treatment, at no cost to Britain or the NHS. And the court said, "No." Not "Okay if an American Doctor and Hospital will take him," a plain, flat-out, nonnegotiable "No."

If this were a movie, at this point the Renegade Special Forces Captain and his squad of crack SAS Paratroopers would say, "To hell with the bloody orders," mount a rescue operation to grab Charlie and his parents from the hospital, make a mad dash through traffic to the airport and a waiting transport plane which would take off from the taxiway, avoid the fighters sent to shoot them down and everyone escapes to the United States to live Happily Ever After.

Except this is not an action movie. This is real life and to be quite frank, there is no cavalry coming over the hill to save Charlie. When President Trump and the Pope have called to extend help to Charlie, yet The Powers That Be have decided that they know better than Charlie's parents (because this is Great Britain, where the Subjects only have the rights given to them by the government) and Charlie needs to have all but Hospice care withdrawn so he can die naturally and comfortably. Which is going to happen tomorrow, 7/28/17.

That, my dear readers, is why I am for the patient (parents in the case of children) to have the choice of treatment within the means of their pocketbook. Not the doctors, not insurance bureaucrats and most especially of all, not government bureaucrats.

If we institute government-controlled healthcare, this will be a common occurrence. As soon as a patient goes "over budget" on their treatment, the care that might have saved their life could be withdrawn all because a bean-counter said so.

Tell me you are okay with that. Tell me if you develop an aggressive cancer at 35 that could be cured, but the government bureaucrat weighs the cost of the treatment and the chance of a successful treatment against your future potential contribution to society (i.e., taxes) and decides the cost is not worth it, that you would quietly accept that decision that are going to die. Let's say your family raises the money to fund the treatment, but the bureaucrats still say "No" and refuse to release the medications and resources to treat you. TELL ME YOU WOULD ACCEPT THAT. Because with Socialized, government-controlled healthcare, it happens right now.

If you would fight for your own life, no matter the odds, then you don't want government bureaucrats deciding if you're going to get the treatment or not. You cannot be congruent with Socialized healthcare and want to live when faced with that situation and have someone else choose your fate for you. So, why force it on everyone else?

 

Our two Bills of Rights

I'll bet you didn't know we had two Bills of Rights, did you? Everyone (should) knows the Bill of Rights as declared in the first Ten Amendments in the Constitution. A group of Founding Fathers known as the "Anti-Federalists" were of the mind that these assumed and undeclared Rights would be trampled upon by the federal government unless formally declared.

A total of twelve Articles were approved by Congress and presented to the States in 1789. The ten we now call the Bill of Rights were approved by the States in 1791. Of the two not ratified, one eventually became the Twenty-Seventh Amendment, which says a Congressional pay raise approved today cannot take effect until the next Congress convenes (we have a new Congress every two years). The last one is a "housekeeping" Amendment that details the growth of the House by changing the proportion of citizens to Congressmen as the country grows. Considering the number of House members was permanently set by law at 435 in 1929 by the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, I doubt this one will be ratified.

Just so you have an idea about the reasoning on the Bill of Rights, you can read the Preamble for it. You didn't know the Bill of Rights had a Preamble, did you?

THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.

So, let's detail the entire list of Rights as given in the first Ten Amendments. These are paraphrased for brevity:

  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Freedom of the People to peacefully assemble
  • Freedom of the People to petition the government for a redress of grievances
  • Freedom to bear arms for defense of self and country
  • No soldier to be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner
  • The Right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures
  • No warrant to be issued without probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation
  • All warrants to be specific in searches and seizures
  • Felony charges shall be issued by a Grand Jury
  • The Right to not be subject to double jeopardy (recharged with a crime after being found not guilty)
  • The Right to not be a witness against themselves
  • The Right to not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law
  • The Right for just compensation if private property be taken for public use (Eminent Domain)
  • The Right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury
  • The Right to be informed of the charges against you
  • The Right to face the witnesses testifying against you
  • The Right to compel witnesses for you
  • The Right to obtain a lawyer to aid in your defense
  • The Right to a trial by jury in civil lawsuits
  • The Right to not have excessive bail imposed
  • The Right to not have excessive fines imposed upon conviction
  • The Right to not have cruel or unusual punishments inflicted upon conviction

The Ninth Amendment means that any enumerated (declared) Rights in the Constitution shall not be used to deny or disparage (constrain) any undeclared Rights of the People.

The Tenth Amendment restrains the federal government to the powers delegated to it by the Constitution and what the States do not prohibit the federal government from. All other undeclared Rights are to be held by the States, or the People respectively.

Out of the twenty-four Rights bulleted above only #'s 19 and 20 (compel witnesses to testify for you and a lawyer) have the government force someone to help you. The other twenty-two restrain the government from taking away natural rights.

On January 11th, 1944, President Roosevelt gave a State of the Union address to Congress. In it was this part:

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
5. The right of every family to a decent home;
6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
8. The right to a good education.

These were not numbered in the speech, I did so to refer to them below.

1 & 2. We have these rights today. I can truthfully say for the vast majority of people, the only limit to a person's income level is themselves and what they are willing to do. I say that because most of us are not willing to pay the dues for that big paycheck. It takes years of hard work and a fair chance of total failure to be an "overnight success."

3. I support this, but only so far. A farmer should be able to grow whatever crop or product they want to, without some crops and not others being subsidized by the government. Farmers should not make the decision to grow a particular crop because the government is subsidizing the farmer to grow (or not grow) it.

4. I fully support anti-monopoly laws. I also fully support a business to be as free as possible of government regulations in an attempt to regulate or control businesses and industries. See Operation Choke Point.

7. I support these because I have used them to support my family. I used them for only as long as I needed them, then got off of them when I could stand on my own. I believe that it is an obligation for society in general and government in particular to help those who truly cannot help or fend for themselves. I am against the perpetual help of those able to work.

5, 6 and 8. These are different aspects of the same issue and can be interpreted in two ways:

568a: Everyone has equal access right now to housing, healthcare and education. If you want that 5 bedroom/6 bath mansion, you need to perform the steps necessary to acquire the resources and income to purchase it at a fair price. Everyone has access to medical care right now, all that they can afford. As an aside, medicine and healthcare in general has saved zero lives. They have extended the lifespan of many people and preserved their quality of life, but medicine, doctors and healthcare can only at best temporarily defer Death. For education, don't spend $75,000 on a degree that the job it qualifies you for only pays $24,000 a year. Too many people are going that right now.

568b: Everyone should get these things no matter their economic situation. First of all, if you work a crappy job and live in a crappy house, don't demand that things be given to you. Use it as an incentive to improve your lot in life through your own efforts. What you need to go through will be difficult and probably unpleasant. The payoff makes it worth the effort.

I don't care how you slice it, when you mandate the services of one individual as the "right" of another, that is slavery. For housing, you obligate contractors, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and more to "give" you adequate housing because the government will never pay market value for their materials and services. The same goes for doctors, nurses and medical technicians "giving" you healthcare. Ditto for teachers.

Oh, you want affordable housing, healthcare and education! That's something totally different. I can solve that in 10 minutes and it will take about a year to sort itself out. Get the government and it's over-regulation and subsidizing programs that destroy the price:benefit ratio out the window out of those and other industries.

The first Bill of Rights in this Article recognizes that those rights come from each person's Higher Power and the law of the land (Constitution) restricts the power of the government to infringe upon them.

The second Bill of Rights comes from a usually benevolent government that has proven itself capricious in its delivery of those "rights" and at the heart of the matter "gives" these "rights" to you because it does not believe you are capable of doing it on your own. Think about that.

 

Where you sit determines where you stand

This is a lesson on how to pick your battlegrounds by careful selection of your source materials. So I catch this on FB from one of my Left-leaning friends:

it isnt in the constitution

Let’s take this apart and show him where he’s so far off base that he’s not in the same ballpark.

To start, this is the preamble to the Constitution, which the second definition reads, “the introductory part of a statute, deed, or the like, stating the reasons and intent of what follows.” In other words, a mission statement. As an “introductory part,” it does not lay out the method, nor the part of the government tasked with achieving this goal.

When we look at the phrase in question, “…promote the general Welfare,…” we need to realize our Founding Fathers (FF) used very specific words to show their intent and meaning.

When we look up the definition of “promote” the first one makes it pretty clear: “to help or encourage to exist or flourish; further:”

I see this as “creating or expanding the conditions under which the program/company/person can improve in some measurable way.” The term “general” means to extend this to all affected equally, without favoring some of them.

But you see, the meme says, “…will pay for its citizen’s health insurance.”

To show why this is BS, we only have to look to the prior statement in the Preamble, “…provide for the common defense,…”

“Promote” and “provide” are obviously two different words. They also have two separate and distinct meanings. The seventh definition of provide is defined as, “to make arrangements for supplying means of support, money, etc.” I picked that one specifically because right after the above, it reads “(usually followed by for)” which we have in both phrases under examination.

So, Provide actually means “pay for or directly furnish,” Promote means “create conditions under which it is possible to flourish.”

Hm. I don’t see this as the best way to make your point.

Now, if the meme maker had gone into the Constitution itself, they might have found under Article 1, Section 7 Clause 1, we find “…and provide for the common defense and general welfare…”

“AHA!” you might say. That validates the meme! But wait, there’s more! The full quote for that is, “…and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;”

When our FF wrote about individual citizens, they used the term “the People.” If they had meant for Congress (after all, this is Article 1 we are talking about here) to provide for the People, I’m moderately sure they would have used that term in the Preamble.

I am also well aware of the Madison (not to “meet the infinite needs of the general welfare”) vs Hamilton (which to have Congress spend money on the People was okay) debate which culminated in the SCOTUS case United States v. Butler (1936) which pushed the interpretation of the phrase “general welfare” into the Hamilton camp.

Really, if you are confused about this, all you have to do is look at the very documents the FF used to explain the Constitution to the Citizens of the United States: The Federalist Papers. The last five paragraphs of Federalist 41 speaks eloquently on this part of the Constitution. Admitted, while it was published anonymously under “Publius” on January 19, 1788, it is assumed that Madison wrote it. That section is too long to quote here, follow the link.

In conclusion, this meme doesn’t have a leg to stand on. First of all, the OP picked the wrong part of the Constitution to build their argument upon, second the guy who wrote the Constitution thinks their argument is bullshit. It is not the intended purpose of the federal government (through the Constitution) to provide for individuals, rather promote the conditions under which they may flourish.

When the federal government spends money directly on its citizens, it’s called “Bread and Circuses.”

 

Down the memory hole

I find it ironic that many Liberals are equating the Trump Presidency with the Party out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. If you haven’t read the book or you don’t understand the reference, the memory hole is where documents about the past which do not agree with the position of the Party are put, to be destroyed and thus never existed. The Party says what was the past, and if you remember differently, then you are wrong. Winston insisted on being wrong and the Party “helped” him to think correctly.

I find it ironic because Liberals are intent on throwing many things that are an integral part of American history and culture down the memory hole, simply because “it offends them.” Case in point, all references to the Confederacy.

Living in Memphis, on a typical workday I drive past at least 3-5 Confederate monuments of one kind or another. I frequently pass by the graves of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife, which are on Union Avenue in Midtown Memphis.

I get upset every time I go past a Confederate monument. It offends me greatly. I am not upset that Forrest was a slave trader. I am not upset that he was an early member of the Ku Klux Klan. I am upset that our ancestors came to blows rather than working things out so up to 750,000 people didn’t have to die horribly at the hands of friends or family members.

Every time I see some symbol of the Confederacy, I think about the horrors experienced and perpetuated on both sides. About families divided over this issue. About the hate that perpetuates to this day.

I fully understand and appreciate what and why the Southern States did what they did, which was to stand up for what they believed in and if necessary, lay down their lives to preserve it. I think their basic concept was wrong, because one person should never own another person like they own their home or car. I respect their stand, and I have no qualms about liking or supporting someone from the present day being proud that their ancestors stood up for what they believed in. If they profess to me a stereotypical belief against minorities, then I don’t support that and I let them know.

The bottom line is, when we divest ourselves of all of these reminders, make like it never happened, shove them down the memory hole and make them disappear...

...It just means that we are setting ourselves up to have another Civil War. The fighting this time won’t be over slavery, it won’t be a whole section of the country trying to secede, but we will be divided in our States, our communities and our families.

THOSE WHO FORGET THE PAST ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.

We are supposed to be the United States, with the basis of our country being E Pluribus Unum, which means Out of Many, One. Let’s start acting like it.

 

Sometimes you can do everything right

I am very sad to say, sometimes you can do everything right and still end up losing.

On June 16th, the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile was acquitted of all charges. My prior comments on this subject are here and here.

First of all, I am all for holding officers accountable. If they screw up, they should be held to a high standard. Second, "acquitted" does not mean "not guilty." It means the prosecutor did not prove to the jury that the accused was guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of two people, however it is pretty clear to anyone with a modicum of common sense that he did it.

Philando Castile did everything he was supposed to. He did everything right as it was taught to him by law enforcement and the NRA. Identify that you are legally armed to a police officer on initial contact. Make no movements without being told. Follow all commands. What makes this a tragedy was a nervous officer feared for his life and shot. That does not make it good, right or justified. It just is. All it does is makes this a tragedy for all people involved and their families.

I have seen a lot of backlash against the NRA because they didn't "immediately respond" about Castile's death, like they did about the killing of five Dallas police officers by a sniper a day or two afterwards. The difference is that in the sniper shooting, there is very little ambiguity about the circumstances, and there was a lot of ambiguity about Castile's death. An investigation needed to be performed in the matter of Castile's death to determine circumstances and context.

Just to show you how quickly things can go south during a traffic stop, This video was an officer from the Opelika, AL police department shooting an airman involved in a minor traffic incident.

At 32 seconds, the airman opens the door to his vehicle. At 35 seconds, the officer sees something in the airman's hands and commands, "Lemme see your hands!" At 37 seconds, the officer commands "Lemme see your hands!" a second time and two shots are fired. At this point the airman goes down. Think about this, two seconds between the first command and shots fired. It is obvious that the airman has something in his hands. A later, second and third look shows it to obviously be a wallet. At first look though, you can't be 100% sure and that kind of "not sure" can easily mean "dead officer."

Here is a second video to prove how deadly two seconds can be to a police officer:

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This was a shooting in West Memphis, AR by a "sovereign citizen" and his son. At the 5:58 mark, the son slightly opens his car door. At 6:00 the man starts resisting and the son comes out of the vehicle with a rifle, shooting both officers. Over the next minute before they drive off, they execute both officers, and the son fires a couple of "goodbye" shots into them as they leave. The officers were probably fatally wounded in the 2-5 seconds or so after the boy exits the vehicle. The rest of the time is probably "making sure" the officers were dead.

I bring this particular shooting up for two reasons. First, this happened "just over the bridge" from where I live in Memphis. Second, I lived for several years in Bartlett, TN, a suburb of Memphis, where Robert Paudert was the Chief of Police. I interacted with him a couple of times on some community projects. He appeared to me as a likeable, no-nonsense person. Robert became the Chief of Police for West Memphis, AR a couple of years later. His son, Brandon Paudert was one of those officers killed.

Armchair quarterbacking rarely does any good for incidents like this. Sure, you can pause and rewind the video and view it from 3 different angles to get all the nuances and things that were missed during the live action. We should study this kind of video to improve training to make sure it does not happen again unnecessarily (because despite our best efforts as flawed beings, it will happen again), not to microstudy, then parse millisecond-by-millisecond in order to assign blame.

 

Deflect and obfuscate

Liberals are very similar to the old-time snake-oil salesmen. They talk fast and use words you don’t understand to get you to trust and believe them. Case in point,

.

In 2 minutes and 30 seconds, Reich fast talks his way through seven “economic lies.” What he gives you are actually non-substantive soundbite talking points that don’t inform you, they just give you words to parrot. Because they are soundbites given to you that you haven’t actually read or researched about them, you can’t back up the talking points when someone asks you a question that requires more information or thought than the initial talking point. This is why I think the Left resorts to yelling, name calling, personal destruction and their favorite card, violence or the threat of violence. They have to shut down anyone who challenges the talking point because there is nothing behind it. Most of their positions are indefensible in the face of actual scrutiny.

I would have loved it if he had spent an hour on each one, giving reasoned and verified data on what he says. Of course he won’t because once you actually see the data, it will be obvious to anybody with a modicum of reasoning that he’s selling you snake-oil (i.e. empty promises).

Case in point: #6, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

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Transcript: Wrong. It’s solid for 26 years (until 2037) and would be for the next century if we lifted the ceiling on income subject to Social Security Payroll taxes.

Now, if you did not know who Mr. Ponzi (the caricature he drew at triple speed) was, or what a Ponzi scheme is before you watched this clip, do you now know what a Ponzi scheme is or why Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme? I didn’t think so.

If you already know what a Ponzi scheme is, did Mr. Reich explain anything about it at all, or did he just let us know that Social Security is solvent for a while (as I wrote this, that 2037 point has drifted down to 2033 according to Social Security themselves) and we can push the “solid date” to 2111 if the rich pay more taxes.

To explain and give context, a Ponzi scheme is named after Charles Ponzi who used this technique in 1920. The scheme entails taking money from investors on a continuous basis, paying the early investors with the money “invested” by later investors.

Let’s say Mr. Smith is convinced by Mr. Ponzi’s salesmanship about “guaranteed income” and in January Smith gives Ponzi $1,000 on Ponzi’s promise that the “guaranteed income” will net Mr. Smith a return of his investment of $250 by June. In May, Mr. Ponzi convinces Mr. Jones to invest similarity as Mr. Smith. Mr. Ponzi then takes $250 of the $1,000 Mr. Jones gave him and gives it to Mr. Smith. This convinces Mr. Smith to invest $10,000 with Mr. Ponzi, hoping to reap a benefit of $2,750 (he is still earning that “$250 profit” on the first $1,000) just in time for Christmas. Now Mr. Ponzi has to come up with four new investors, to pay out the $3,000 to his “investors” ($2,750 for Smith and $250 for Jones). Why four investors? Because Mr. Ponzi has expenses, you know...

Eventually, this all comes apart because Mr. Ponzi cannot continue to recruit the number of investors necessary to continue paying the “profits” out to earlier investors indefinitely. This is called a geometric progression. If Mr. Ponzi needed two new investors for every current investor, the progression would go something on the order of 1, 3, 9, 27, 81, 243, 729, 2,187, 6,561 and so on until he can’t recruit enough people or he figures his bank account is big enough and he flees the country.

When my parents started working as adults around 1935, they paid into Social Security and their SS taxes helped pay the benefits of Ida May Fuller (the first recipient). Back then, there were seven people paying SS taxes to a single recipient receiving benefits. Also, it was kind of a rare thing for people to make it very far past 65, so those that did receive benefits were on the rolls for only a couple of years.

When I joined the Navy, my SS taxes were part of the checks my parents received. My dad retired in 1979 after having paid into the system for 45 years, my mother for about 15 years, being a stay-at-home mom and occasionally working part-time after they got married. They collected SS benefits for 22 years until they passed in 2001. Today, there are only 2-3 wage earners paying to the system for every recipient.

In the 80’s Congress began “raiding the Social Security Lockbox.” What that actually means is the Social Security Administration began purchasing government bonds as an investment. Today, there are Billions of dollars’ worth of these bonds in the SS account, instead of actual liquid cash. These are the “IOUs” that everyone is screaming about.

Remember, it is these government bonds that allow the government to overspend, creating the annual deficit. For the large entities (Social Security, foreign governments, investors, etc.) that purchase large amounts (Millions and Billions worth) of government bonds , they purchase a bond for a fixed term. In order to keep the fiscal juggling act going, when that bond matures, many use that money to immediately buy a new bond. Depending on circumstances, the interest on the bond may go into the purchasers pocket or be used to buy more bonds.

Social Security has been buying bonds, as well as additional new bonds as the old ones mature. In 2033, Social security will have to start “cashing in” those bonds without purchasing new ones because there won’t be enough people paying taxes to support the payments to retirees. This is when they (and we) might find out that the Government can’t pay the full amount on those bonds, if at all. That’s when the juggling act falls apart. That’s when we have more people asking for a return on their investment than SS can take in from new “investors.”

And that is why Social Security IS a Ponzi scheme. Anyone who tells you differently is bullshitting you.

 

Everything is rationed part 4

This is part 4 of the three-part “Everything is Rationed” series.

The primary point of this part, sub-titled “ethical dimensions of a responsible business” is that I hate bean counters.

Who (or what) are “bean counters”? These are the people who make the decisions concerning the costs of the parts used in their product. Part A1 costs the company $1.00 to purchase. Part A2 is by another manufacturer, is almost as good as Part A1, however the company can buy it for 90 cents. The “Bean Counter” will almost always go with Part A2 on the sole basis its 10 cents cheaper.

Bean Counters also like to produce products with “planned obsolescence.” This means one or more parts in a product are designed to fail after a certain period of use, usually several months past the end of the warranty. When (not if) those parts fail, a newer model is now out at the same or less price, with more features. So you have the choice to either fix the broken equipment (at a cost close to or exceeding a new unit) or discard the broken unit in favor of a new unit. This is the downside to our consumerism economy.

Thinking about this, I was reminded of a collection of Sci-Fi short stories from the 40’s that I read as a teenager called Venus Equilateral (Wikipedia, Amazon). It was about a station that relayed messages between Earth, Mars and Venus when the Sun interfered with direct communications.

In the story QRM—Interplanetary, a pointy-haired boss came on the station to “cut expenses.” He ended up spacing a room full of genetically-modified sawgrass that was used to replenish the oxygen in the station’s air. He thought “equipment” replenished the air and he saw this room was “full of weeds.” The PHB thought the plants were wasting space. This “cost-cutting” almost suffocated everyone on the station.

To cut costs for the sole reason to “maximize profits” or “boost the quarterly report” is a bad reason in the long term. Because you are probably sacrificing future profits for short-term gains today.

Case in point: the 6-pack plastic ring used to keep aluminum cans together. They are easy to make and inexpensive (at less than a penny each). The bad news is, while the rings are photo-degradable (and thus not likely to end up strangling wildlife like they used to) and while they do break down into smaller bits, they do not fully disappear. There is a long-term negative environmental impact from them and all similar plastic products.

Then we have these:

A fully biodegradable product that is compostable and edible by wildlife. The problem? A current cost of 15 cents per unit.

If companies that sold their product in cans made enough demand for this kind of holder, the economy of scale would kick in and the price per unit would drop. If Anheuser-Busch and one or two other “big name” companies decided to use these, it would not be unreasonable to expect the cost per unit to drop under a nickel.

Would you pay a nickel more a six pack if that recyclable, compostable and edible can holder held your beverages together? I don’t think you’d even notice the price difference. If you knew the better environmental impact of that holder, you might even switch brands, who knows.

I also found this article, Christian-Based Firms Find Following Principles Pays from the 12/8/1989 Wall Street Journal. Sorry, you have to pay to see it. in the article, it talks about business who adhere to Christian principles and how their growth is significantly higher than those who do not engage in these principles. You don't have to be Christian to adhere to these principles, which entail actually serving the customer to help them grow their business, treating the customer fairly and most importantly treating the employees fairly. When Hobby Lobby made negative news due to their stance on abortive birth control, the MSM never mentioned that they pay their employees $14/hour to start. The MSM never clearly said that Hobby Lobby offered sixteen barrier methods of contraception and only opposed four abortive methods.

In case you didn't know it, In-N-Out Burger puts Bible verses on their shake cups, burger bags and other packaging. They are small, so you have to hunt for them.

James Freeman Clarke is quoted as saying, “A politician thinks of the next election - a statesman, of the next generation.”

I can reframe this slightly to say, “A bottom-line businessman sees only the next quarterly numbers – an ethical businessman sees the impact of his business in a hundred years.”

If we had enough “ethical businessmen” in our companies and corporations, we would have little or no need to governmental bureaucracy to micromanage them.

How about all of us start treating our planet as something that we should leave to our children better than how our parents gave it to us?

 

Everything is rationed part 3

This is was to be the last installment in the “Everything is Rationed” series.

A woman taking care of her children while the man is out gathering food for the family is the very foundation of everything we have today. That’s because what kind of society we end up with depends on what the mother instills into her offspring long before the father gets hold of the children to show them the world.

The ground floor of society built upon that foundation and upon which everything else stands is... the private business in a free-market economy. I can hear the snorts of derision and eye-rolling from here, but hear me out.

I know the United States is founded upon the myth of the “rugged individualist,” the guy (or gal, I’m not sexist) who can survive on their own out in the wild. This is a myth because one person can’t do it all. You might think of frontiersman like Daniel Boone and his ilk. Those guys actually had a pretty extensive logistical train behind them. The rifle and ammunition they carried, the saddle and shoes on the horse, the preserved food they carried and more. All these goods were produced by someone, not to mention the reason why those men were out there in the first place was to provide a service, namely to explore the land, determine its resources and how to move people farther West.

I’m talking the “Man vs. Nature” level where you have nothing but your mind and your hands. Think of the tasks a single person has to do every day to make sure they have a good chance of survival:

  • Gather/kill food
  • Build/maintain shelter
  • Develop tools/weapons for protection
  • Gather wood to build a fire
  • Build/maintain a fire with the gathered wood for warmth and cooking food

A single person does not have enough hours in a day to do all of these things at a level where they can survive for an extended period.. You spend a day building a shelter and you go hungry because you didn’t gather food to eat. Build weapons and spend a chilly night without heat.

This is why people started communities and societies. One or two people can hunt/gather for the entire village, one can build tools and weapons for everyone and so on. This was how bartering started. Trading whatever you have developed/gathered for what another has developed/gathered. Half a pig can get you a stone axe or a spear. A couple of chickens can get you some treated animal skins for clothing and so on.

The barter system is the first stage of a free-market economy. The shortcomings of a barter system is you can have more goods and services that you need, yet the people who offer what you need aren’t interested in what you have to offer. If the Tanner already has a bunch of chickens and all you have to offer him are more chickens, he won’t trade with you. You have to trade your chickens for bread from the baker, then trade half of the bread with the butcher to get some beef, then take those items to the Tanner to get your skins. A lot of your time gets wasted in trading for other things to get what you need. This is how money got invented, but that’s another article at a later time.

A business who combines ethical practices with reasonable profits is our goal. All businesses should and need to “charge for all the market can bear,” meaning that it is a balancing act between the available supply and the overall demand of the product or service.

Using the free market to determine the price of a good or service is not perfect, however it is the best system we have. If a business charges (or is forced to charge by government) a price that is below the costs incurred, then the business must close.

Example: net cost (all expenses, no profit) for a business to produce a widget is $100. The business sells it for $110 to make some profit. If the market won’t buy it at $110, but will at $90, the business either has to find a way to product it for a net cost of $80 or close. Same thing, if the government mandates that it be sold at $90, there is no reason for the business to stay open (unless it’s at the barrel of a gun).

In times of crisis/unrest/upheaval, prices will swing drastically in response until things are normalized.

Let’s say there are 50 gas stations in a town, when the town gets hit by a hurricane. 49 of those stations have their gasoline ruined by floodwaters. For whatever reason, that last station keeps their gasoline uncontaminated. This station owner now has a choice. He can either sell his product at the pre-hurricane price, not knowing when he will get a new supply (a day, a week, a month), running out in an hour and facing thousands of angry people demanding his product,

OR

He can charge an elevated price to discourage many customers, have more money for himself and employees to live off of until the supply resumes, and he can pay the elevated price for the next tanker truck to restock his tanks. Because if the refinery is nearby, they will also likely have damage, contaminated products and the refinery faces the same dilemmas the gas station owner does.

In the overall sense, the consumer is at the end of a long train of transactions that culminate in the product or service they purchase. There are hundreds of businesses mining the raw materials, producing components, assembling the final product and the transportation for all of the bits and pieces between companies and delivered to your door.

When I grew up near Warren, Ohio, I drove by the Lordstown plant all the time. This plant made the wiring harnesses for GM vehicles. Metal and plastic went in one end and completed wiring harnesses came out the other end. They made the wire, coated it with the insulation, made many of the clips and connectors and put it all together, under one roof. This kind of manufacturing does not happen anymore.

Today a constant stream of pre-made wire, clips, connectors, and all the other parts are made by sub-contractors, which ship their product to the new plant (Lordstown closed in the 80’s) who then does the work necessary to turn the components into wiring harnesses. Then those finished products are shipped off to the various assembly plants across the country and the world, to be one of the many components that make up an automobile.

I just realized that I need to expound on the “ethical dimensions of a responsible business” to tie this whole series up and that will take up a whole article in and of itself. Research for that one is ongoing and hopefully I will have it done in time.

Look back here next week for the fourth part of this three part series.

 

Brains and Beauty

Miss USA 2014

Notice the order I put the title. Just sayin'. Miss USA 2014, Nia Sanchez stirred up Liberals and Twitter by making a very offensive comment. One of the judges, Rumer Willis, asked this question:

“Recently 'Time Magazine' said 19% of U.S. undergraduate women are victims of sexual assault in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug for so long and what can colleges do to combat this?”

This is what this "hatemonger" said:

“I believe some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation, and that would be a reason that it could be swept under the rug because they don’t want it to come out into the public but I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself as a fourth degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and being able to defend yourself and I think that’s something we should start to implement for a lot of women.”

This statement has feminists spinning their heads and spewing pea soup, probably specifically for these words:

"...you need to be confident and being able to defend yourself..."

I mean, shouldn't everybody be confident and be able to defend yourself? Or, as Liberals want us to do, call 911 (A MAN WITH A GUN) and wait for minutes or hours for that man with a gun to arrive and protect us?

Please, let me be clear. RAPE is not about the sex. It's about one person forcing their will and control on another person, with the intent to perform serious physical and mental harm. As with all things, there are a thousand different situations that rape can and does occur. All the way from date rape (where he says "yes," she says "no" and they still have sex) to the forced individual and gang rape scenarios.

A MAN will not engage in any kind of sexual activity with an impaired or unconscious woman, or a woman who says, "No," period. A BOY or ANIMAL (the difference being, they boy has not been taught the proper way to treat everybody, the animal knows the proper way and still rapes) will use alcohol, drugs or force to get what he wants. I don't care how a woman dresses, or acts. She is not "asking for it." If she initially says "Yes" and then it changes to "No" later, you stop, get dressed and everyone returns to their homes, right then and there.

I have long said, and continue to stand by the belief that Liberals believe a woman, raped and strangled to death is morally superior to a woman who has a smoking gun in her hand and a dead rapist at her feet. I don't monitor Twitter. I refuse to do so. However, when you have things like this in the articles I am reading, I can't resist:

Mandy Velez @mandy_velez

Let's hope Nevada uses her media tour to reiterate that teaching girls self defense is NOT the best way to protect against assault  

This comes from the crowd that advises women in the process of being raped to urinate or puke on themselves. To loudly declare to the imminent rapist(s) that you have an STD or you are in the middle of your menstrual cycle.

So, as an exercise in futility, I will attempt to answer these tweets:

Mandy, you probably don't realize it, but a rapist usually doesn't rape just one woman and leave it at that. So, if you learn those yucky, nasty self-defense classes and actually kill the bastard or injure him to the point he can't (not won't) do this again, think of all the sisters you kept from getting raped by this man in the future.

SassySage, your logic escapes me. If a properly trained woman kills or disables a rapist, you are not "combating rape?" And yet urinating or vomiting on yourself (which probably won't stop him) does, somehow prevents it?

Mary-Kate, I hope you can get this into your Feminist Pin-Head brain: MEN (adult males who are mature and respect all persons, male and female) don't rape. Two-legged male animals who have evil in their heart and view a woman as an object, he can take when and how he wants to, that's your rapist.

Bi, responsible MEN teach their sons that aggressive violence (attacking without reason, NOT defensive violence when you defend yourself from attack) against anybody is wrong and is not tolerated.

Okay, I think I've said all I can say on this. I do have three words for Miss USA: YOU GO WOMAN!

 

Goose, meet gander

I am constantly amazed at the scale of the mental gymnastics and hypocrisy of Liberals.

Classic case in point: The gun control debate.

Liberal organizations like The Brady Campaign to prevent Gun Violence, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the like do not want to get rid of firearms.

They want to get rid of civilian ownership of firearms. They are all for the military, police and their security details having guns, just not you.

The children of the powerful go to schools that are protected by armed guards, right there and ready to go with advanced weaponry. The children who attend public schools are "protected" by gun-free zones and lightly-armed police who are usually minutes away when seconds count.

You really have to ask yourself, why is what's good for the goose is not good for the gander?

While I cannot speak to their thoughts, I am sure their motivations are quite clear. They are "in charge" and they would like to stay that way.

They realize there are more men armed with scoped rifles who can hit a dinner plate at 200 yards in the woods of Pennsylvania on the first morning of deer hunting season than any army in the world (including ours!). Those "in-charge" people fear these people.

A citizenry that does not have tools for self-defense similar to the weapons possessed by the police and military, lacks the ability to resist any action that the police or military wants to visit upon them. When that happens, the citizenry exists entirely at the whim of the government. You can just ask the over 20,000,000 who were killed by Stalin, Mao, the Khmer Rouge and other Socialist governments during the 20th century who disarmed their citizens. Oh, wait, you can't because they're dead.

These pro-gun control people know the bloodbath and civil war that would ensue if they tried to confiscate all the firearms. So, until they are sure that they can go door-to-door and just take them, they are trying to "convince" you. They don't orchestrate mass shootings, they create the conditions where such mass murders possible, then loudly proclaiming them from the rooftops, while ignoring or stifling incidents that were cut short or prevented by a legally armed-citizen.

 

Not just for cake batter

Consistency is not a term meant exclusively for things like cake batter. When I stand on a position I realize that there may be other facets to my position that I have not considered. If presented with them, I will incorporate the additional facets into my original position. Only if I am way wrong will I change or modify my original position.

In 2015, I wrote the post Identification, fully supporting Rachel Dolezal on her declaring herself Black. Actually, I asked that we drop all of the labels we use to pigeon-hole everybody, because that only separates us, not unites us.

I do not have the power nor authority to tell other people how they should identify themselves, in either gender or racial characteristics. If given the chance, I would not accept that kind of power. I have multiple acquaintances who are transgender. I like them and interact with them when I can because I think they are good and interesting people. If they ask me to use certain nouns or pronouns when addressing or describing them, I use them. It's no big deal to me.

Liberals, however love to eat one of their own who even gets a toe off the ideological reservation. Case in point, Rebecca Tuvel, who wrote a paper titled, In Defense of Transracialism. It was published by Hypatia, A Journal of Feminist Philosophy.

In this paper, Ms. Tuvel extended all of the Liberal talking points that Liberals use to advance transgenderism to transracialism, where a person can and should be able to freely declare their racial identity. It makes perfect sense to me as a Conservative. If you're going to open the door to allow people to freely declare their gender as either biological sex or something between, then the same has to apply to a persons views regarding their racial identity.

All I can say is Liberals, collectively and individually, went totally apoplectically ape-shit over this. Spastic, spit-spraying, grand mal seizure, off-the-rails incensed. Enough that Hypatia issued an apology on Facebook:

We, the members of Hypatia’s Board of Associate Editors, extend our profound apology to our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy, especially transfeminists, queer feminists and feminists of color, for the harms that the publication of the article on transracialism has caused. The sources of those harms are multiple, and include: descriptions of trans lives that perpetuate harmful assumptions and (not coincidentally) ignore important scholarship by trans philosophers; the practice of deadnaming, in which a trans person’s name is accompanied by a reference to the name they were assigned at birth; the use of methodologies which take up important social and political phenomena in dehistoricized and decontextualized ways, thus neglecting to address and take seriously the ways in which those phenomena marginalize and commit acts of violence upon actual persons; and an insufficient engagement with the field of critical race theory. Perhaps most fundamentally, to compare ethically the lived experience of trans people (from a distinctly external perspective) primarily to a single example of a white person claiming to have adopted a black identity creates an equivalency that fails to recognize the history of racial appropriation, while also associating trans people with racial appropriation.

Of course, this is only the latest bump in the ideological road that Liberals are intent on running all of us down this hill with no brakes. Which leads to this quote by Kathy Jackson I recently found:

A civilized society is one where it is safe to be small, safe to be weak, safe to hold contrary opinions, and safe to express those opinions to others.
Those who argue for physical assault in response to mere speech, are those who argue against civilization and in favor of barbarism.

I do not think it is strange that people on the right do not riot when a prominent Liberal comes to campus or wherever to speak on their Liberal ideology. I have come to expect riots and civil unrest when Conservative speakers arrive to speak freely in the same manner Liberals are afforded.

Ask yourself, are you for civilization, or barbarism?

 

The rationing of health care

A friend turned me on to this article, I had a health crisis in France. I’m here to tell you that ‘socialized medicine’ is terrific. Which is, amazingly enough in the Op-Ed section of the LA Times. It documents the ordeal of a “long-term official resident” of France, who had a defective aortic valve malfunction.

I like this guy’s sense of humor:

In the intensive care unit, I learned that I had been born with a defective aortic valve. Basically, I’d been walking around my entire life with a ticking time bomb in my chest. How could I not have known? In high school, I ran track and played football; every summer, my wife and I took long hikes in the Swiss Alps. But an experienced nurse was not surprised. “With your condition,” she said, “the first symptom is often sudden death.” OK, I replied, what’s the second symptom?

All well and good, I’m glad that Mr. Lamar managed to survive, spending 47 days in the hospital and rehab and was only out-of-pocket $1,455.

However, I deal in statistics, not anecdotes, which is what the above article describes. You can read my views on that in my earlier article, Anecdotal vs. Statistical.

Now let’s take a look at a socialized health care program that’s been rolling for almost 70 years. That way we can see the inevitable result of long-term use of socialized medicine. Rationing of NHS services ‘leaving patients in pain and distress’, says new report. Mind you, this is a UK paper reporting on a NHS (National Health Service) report. This report is detailing and scathing in its assessment of the quality of care for the Subjects of Britain.

The NHS was created in 1948 when the Labour Party (their Liberals) created it. The bad news is, shortly after that when Conservatives gained power, they kept and expanded it. It’s been rolling along ever since.

Another article broaches the idea about drafting “junior doctors” from India and Pakistan, as well as forcing all graduating doctors from medical school for five years to make up for the lack of practicing doctors.

Then you have staff performing procedures they are not trained to do and doing them without supervision. As in student Nurses being required to do Nurse level and higher (Physician’s Assistant/Doctor) procedures. Add in a medical death rate 45% higher than the US is and that’s just on the staff side.

There are also reports where patients wait hours (and sometimes die) on gurnies parked in hallways. Because all of the surgical resources are tied up doing the emergency work, elective (i.e. non-emergency quality of life) surgeries wait months. Like, 12-18 weeks on average.

Please, don’t take my word for it, here is the report itself.

Because there isn’t enough money being allocated by the government to adequately address the needs of everyone, many go without and the quality of care those that do manage to receive care is declining rapidly. Once you understand the situation the UK is in with their NHS, multiply that by 5 and then some, because the US has five times the population.

Please, tell me again how wonderful the NHS is and how much of a blessing it would be to the citizens of the US. With a straight face.

 

Going Nuclear

I see people freak out every time the subject of the US Senate invoking “THE NUCLEAR OPTION” surfaces in the news cycle. Let me explain in simple and clear terms what that is and why it’s there.

The Senate, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers, represented the interests of the States, notably the State governments. Up until the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified in 1913, Senators were appointed by the State governments. Now the People directly elect them.

The purpose of the Senate was to be “the cooling saucer” to balance the passions of the House. The term comes from the common way people drank hot beverages back then. You drank from the cup, the saucer held directly below the cup. If some should escape your lips and spill, it would be caught by the saucer, where it would cool off before you drank it.

The Senate was meant to be a deliberative body, which is why they have the enumerated power of “advice and consent” to the President.

Most, if not all legislative bodies follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) to conduct their business. I have a copy on my desk. Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 11th Edition.

In RONR, there are two kinds of majorities in the voting process. Depending on the body and what they are voting on, these majorities can consist of either “members present” or “total members.” You have a simple majority (50% plus 1 more vote) or a supermajority (two-thirds, or 66% plus 1 more vote).

Now that I have explained all of that, the term that is at the center of “the nuclear option” is “Cloture.” Because the Senate is such a deliberative body, they like to talk. A LOT.

Just in case you didn’t know it, Senators Richard Russell, Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, William Fulbright and Sam Ervin, all Southern Democrats, filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for 60 “working days” (the Senate is only “in session” 162 days a year, or 3 days a week).

Cloture is a parliamentary move to limit debate. In RONR, it is called Previous Question and can be found in RONR Chapter 6, Subsidiary Motions, §6, Page 197 Line 22. The only reference to Cloture itself is in RONR on page 201, first footnote, last sentence. If the vote for Cloture passes, then all debate on that item (bill, nomination, etc.) in front of the Senate is halted. Then and only then can there be a second, separate vote on the item itself.

Let me say that again. A successful Cloture vote (3/5ths) tells the whiny crybabies who are holding their breath (figuratively) to shut up so a simple up-or-down vote on the item at hand can be made.

Up until the filibuster above, Cloture required a 2/3rds vote of the full Senate. In 1975, the Senate Rules were changed to invoke Cloture at a “3/5ths majority.” In the case of the 100 member Senate that means 60 votes.

In November 2013, during the Democrat-controlled 113th US Congress, the Senate Democrats amended the Cloture rule so that Cloture could not be invoked on votes for presidential appointees and judges other than the Supreme Court. That way, the Democrats could halt Republican filibusters for Obama’s nominees to senior administration positions and his nominees to federal benches inferior to the Supreme Court.

Just recently, the Republican majority in the Senate returned the favor and exempted Supreme Court nominees from the Cloture process so Neil Gorsuch could be appointed to the Supreme Court. A 3/5ths majority is still required on bills before the Senate.

In the end, Cloture is nothing more than a rule made up and changed at will by the members of the Senate. It is not in the Constitution. Like weather in Hawaii, if you don’t like it, stick around, it will change pretty quickly.

It’s a grown-up version of a sandlot rule for kids baseball.

 

Everything is rationed

This will be the first of three interrelated articles. This article and the concepts I will discuss here provide the foundation for the others.

The first concept I need you to understand is nothing is unlimited, everything is rationed. The term ration is defined thusly:

As a noun: a fixed allowance of provisions or food, especially for soldiers or sailors or for civilians during a shortage

As a verb: to restrict the consumption of (a commodity, food, etc.)

Everything there is on this planet, oil, iPhones, even the air we breathe is limited to some extent and has to be rationed. Don’t think air can be or needs to be rationed? Go SCUBA diving. The air you need to breathe and live, you can only take one ration (what’s in the air tank) down there with you. If you exhaust your ration of air, you either have to leave the water and go back to where air is plentiful or die from the lack of air.

There is also a price and a cost associated with everything. A price is what we pay in monetary units (Dollars, Rubles, Yen, Euros and so on) for a good or service. The cost of an item is what we have to do to acquire the necessary amount of monetary units.

Say you want to buy an iPad. The price for a basic one is $329. The cost for me to acquire that $329 is about a weeks’ worth of work. For someone making minimum wage, it’s more like two weeks of work. The amount of work to acquire this item can be reduced if we are willing to pay other costs. This may mean eating ramen for a week, or paying this month’s utility bill next month. Those costs (low quality food, late fees and/or possibility of getting utilities cut off) can be used to temporarily offset the total cost to obtain that iPad. You will still have to repay the other costs later but those are decisions are for you to make.

iPads themselves are rationed because there are a finite amount of iPads out there available to purchase. If there are 10,000 iPads for sale and 20,000 people want to buy one, then the seller can raise the price until only 10,000 people can afford to get one, or leave the price alone and have 10,000 people go without until more are manufactured. Or one person who owns one can decide to sell their iPad to someone who really wants it and is willing to pay more than the $329 MSRP/RRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price/Recommended Retail Price).

Healthcare is also rationed. A single doctor can reasonably see about eighty-four patients a week. This is 15 minutes with a patient and 5 minutes to do the paperwork (prescriptions, tests, chart documentation, etc) necessary to treat the patient. So that’s three patients an hour, eight hours a day for 3 and-a-half days a week. One day he does work in the hospital, the last four hours in his 40 hour week he is learning about new developments in the medical field and training to gain new skills.

What happens if a hundred people needs his knowledge and skills in a week? He can only see eighty-four. He has to ration his time. This can be done two ways.

First, he can apply free-market principles and if someone wants to pay the doctor extra to get to the head of the line, then those who can pay more get seen before those who can’t. Or

Second, he can apply a Socialistic principal and Triage (a French word, meaning to sort) his potential clients according to criteria that he (or a bureaucrat) sets. It could be those who have the direst need of his services, or who’s been waiting the longest, it doesn’t matter. Sixteen patients have to wait until next week or see another doctor. If one of those sixteen is Bill Gates, then he goes to another doctor or again applies free market principles to slip some extra cash to the doctor to get a priority slot.

Price controls (the price of a good or service that is set by government rather than free-market forces) guarantee rationing. How is that you ask? That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked!

Let’s go back to our iPad example. We still only have 10,000 iPads available and 20,000 potential customers. But the Deputy Assistant Under Secretary of Price Control decides, “That $329 price for an iPad is too high. Let’s make them $159 each.”

The chaos that bureaucrat unleashes is astounding. Because when the price hits that $159, there are no longer 20,000 potential customers, there are now 60,000. Sixty thousand people fighting over ten thousand iPads. The result is now massive rationing because only one person in six can get an iPad. Who decides who gets one and who doesn’t? First in line? Age? Political affiliation? Friends of the bureaucrat?

And what happens when Apple says, “We can’t make a profit selling them at $159, so we will stop making them.” The end result is several hundred people out of a job and 40,000 people who won’t get an iPad.

This is a universal problem because you can replace “iPad” with any good or service and “Apple” with the company that offers the good or service and you will get the same end result.

For those of you with Socialist leanings, you might put forth the supposition that the government should subsidize Apple and give them $170 per iPad so Apple could continue to produce iPads and the customers still get them for $159. What makes you think that the money itself is not rationed? If the government prints and prints money for these subsidies until the money is worthless (1930’s Germany, Venezuela today) the value of the money becomes irrelevant and thus you effectively run out of money.

In the end, all resources need to be managed to make sure that you have those resources today and tomorrow.

The lowdown on insurance

Imagine this scene for a moment:

Stan is riding down the street with his new-found friend Chris. They’re both passengers in a flatbed tow truck. Chris’ car is on the bed, Stan’s car on the hook behind the truck. You see, Stan plowed into Chris and his car because Stan wasn’t paying attention while driving. They pull into the parking lot of a State Farm office. Stan goes inside and meets Bill, one of the insurance agents.

Stan: I’d like to buy some car insurance. I have my car outside.
Bill: Great! Let’s go out and take a look at it!
[Outside]
Stan: Here’s my car. (the one with no front end)
Bill: ...Umm, you want us to insure this?
Stan: Yes. I need to get it fixed and on the road as soon as possible. And fix Chris’ car as well since I hit him. Does the insurance include a rental option while my car is in the shop?
Bill: I cannot insure this car. It’s already wrecked!
Stan: So it has pre-existing damage. So what? Are you going to sell me a policy or not?
Bill: No. Go away.
Stan: But-
Bill: Go. Away. Now.

I’m sure you can see the absurdity in the above story and think Stan is an idiot for trying a stunt like this. Ballsy, but stupid.

So why do people expect they can get a health insurance policy after they get a Stage 2 Pancreatic Cancer diagnosis or some other serious and/or expensive-to-treat medical condition?

The business model of Insurance is all about a pool of shared risk. The "pool" is all of their policy holders. The cost of Bad Things is spread throughout the entire pool, on the assumption that not everyone will suffer a catastrophic (and expensive) life event. Insurance companies use actuarial tables as a basis on how much to charge for premiums.

Actuarial tables, for example, looks at 10,000 white males, 20 to 30-years-old and sees that as a group, (these are made up numbers) 3% will develop cancer, 5% will suffer a serious injury from a vehicle crash, 8% will suffer a dismemberment due to workplace accidents and so on.

Each of these events have an associated cost for them. The insurance agency will then use this information (chance of an event and the cost) to determine how much to charge (along with administrative costs and profits) for the premiums.

The insurance model breaks down when pre-existing conditions (PEC) enter the picture. This is because with PEC's there is no chance that the person might get a particular disease, they already have it.

Right now, a “simple and easy” cancer diagnosis runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to cure. Serious cases can cost way more than that. How can you reasonably ask an insurance company to take on something like that? It would be like you buying a $200,000 house for $200,000, knowing that it will take another $250,000 of materials and labor to repair it and make it worth $200,000 because it’s currently falling down from disrepair or some other major issue.

I am not a “heartless Republican” (I’m not even a Republican at all, but that’s beside the point), so I am flexible on this. If people are very up-in-arms over those people with PEC’s, we can talk about a healthcare entitlement program, run by the government. Let’s just not call it insurance, because at that point, it’s not.

Instead of forcing everyone under the same umbrella (“share the risk”) with those who have PEC’s, those who have insurance can pay the market price for insurance without worrying about the insurance company raising their rates astronomically because they have to take on the PEC “money pit” people. If you fall into the PEC category, then you will get your healthcare from the government.

Hey, the federal government is *only* $20,000,000,000,000 in debt right now anyway. What’s a few more trillion dollars to the rest of us and our children?

Do PEC’s suck? Unbelievably. I realize that. First-hand experience and all that. I emphasize with you. It isn’t fair that you have this condition. But is it fair that you are asking everybody else in your insurance pool to pay an extra $10 a month for your condition? If you didn’t have a PEC, would you voluntarily pay an extra $50 a month in insurance premiums to support those that do have PEC’s? I realize that we will eventually pay it, either through insurance premiums or taxes, however forcing insurance companies to shoulder the cost of those with PEC’s only forces the insurance companies to go out of business and put hundreds of people out of work because people with PEC’s broke the model.

Yeah, that’s the ticket! Let’s drive those E-V-I-L insurance companies out of business! Then we can go back to the old medical model of “cash, one payment, up-front.” Yeah, those were the good old days. If you couldn’t afford the doctors services, you died. (I’m being sarcastic here, for those who have no sense of humor.)

I am not in favor of anybody being refused healthcare. I am for us doing so in a fiscally reasonable manner, one that does not unnecessarily burden our fellow citizens and future generations.

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