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Flag Day

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Today is the anniversary of when the Second Continental Congress in 1777 adopted the flag that is the ancestor of the one that flies all over this country today.

This flag has been through lots of revisions over the years. It was a flag of fifteen stars and fifteen stripes that flew over Fort McHenry (representing the addition of Vermont and Kentucky) during the bombardment it endured during the War of 1812 that led to the phrase “Star-Spangled Banner” in the poem "Defense of Fort M'Henry" which became our national anthem.

This flag, to me, does not represent the government of this country, rather it represents the People, where the true power of our government comes from. Many people have served under this flag in one or another of its iterations in defense of the concepts of Freedom and Liberty.

Every day, men and women in our armed forces come home in coffins draped in this flag.

I WILL NOT IDLY STAND BY
AND SEE THIS SYMBOL DESECRATED.

Do not let me see you stepping on, burning, or disrespecting this flag in any way. I will stop and give you a beat down so severe that your grandchildren will feel it.

flag day

Thank you for your time and attention. Have a wonderful Flag Day!

 
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Everything is rationed part 4

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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?

 
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At, To and With

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WARNING: Terms may be used in this article which may make some people uncomfortable. You have been warned.

I first voiced this concept several years ago. I have never seemed to put pen to paper to write this before though, which is kind of sad. The 2016 Presidential campaign and its aftermath has cemented in me the glaring obviousness of these three different kinds of communication we use.

When one person talks AT another person, it is either out of anger, frustration, stubbornness or blindly-held political beliefs. When you talk AT another person, you spurt what you want to say upon your target without regard for the results or consequences of your words. It is in essence a verbal masturbation, leading to a bukkake of words upon your intended target. It leaves the speaker/writer feeling better in the cathartic sense, however that’s the only person feeling good afterwards. While this can be considered “communication,” it is that only in the broadest sense. This method actually borders on a forced act.

When one person talks TO a single person or group of persons, this is usually out of anger. When someone makes you mad, don’t you want to “give them a good talking to”? This is a minimalist (at best) two-way conversation, consisting of lengthy passages of yelling by the angry person, punctuated by the occasional “Yes, Sir/Ma’am,” “No Sir, Ma’am,” “I’m sorry, Sir/Ma’am” from the recipient(s). Worse yet, it can lead to anger in the recipient and yelling back at the first person. This then becomes a “two-way ‘AT’ “ “conversation” where everyone is yelling but no one is listening.

When you deliver that “talking to,” you are venting your anger at what they did to you and making it clear about “what will happen the next time.” The term “Reading the Riot Act” comes from the British Riot Act of 1714, where the local constabulary would read the proclamation part of said Act aloud to the crowd and give them one hour to disperse before arresting them. By the way, back then, the penalty for rioting was death.

Notice the emotions I described for when someone talks AT or TO another. Anger, frustration, stubbornness or the foolish belief that “My way of doing things is the right way 100% of the time.” These are all negative emotions.

When you have two (or more) people exchanging ideas, beliefs and feelings, the type of emotion we speak from will be absorbed by the recipient and reflected back to the sender, magnified. Back and forth the negative emotions go in what is called a "positive feedback loop", growing from ripples to Tsunamis, destroying the relationship and preventing true communication.

What would happen if we spoke from positive emotions, rather than negative? The same thing, starting with ripples and ending in Tsunamis, in this case Tsunamis of good.

Because when we talk WITH other people, we give our thoughts, which are received, considered and returned respectfully. The other then gives their thoughts, which you in turn should receive, consider and return respectfully. Who knows, we might actually learn something we didn't know that we agree with.

To do this, to listen with the intent to understand and not the intent to reply, we might actually learn something new. We find common ground to share, not a verbal no-man’s-land where thoughts and ideas die horrible deaths.

This does not mean we have to end up agreeing. We can “agree to disagree” and continue to respect the other person while not agreeing with their position on that issue.

I have a friend and mentor whom I routinely get into discussions with on Facebook. He constantly posts a plethora of Liberal memes. On the few I respond to, I disagree, giving my position and with the facts and my reasoning behind my stand. We then respectfully discuss our differences. He has accused my positions of “being rather Liberal” multiple times, to which my response is some variation of “You’re more Conservative than you realize.” We continue to interact on common interests and challenge each other where we disagree.

Because disagreement on first glance often becomes “congruential differences” once we get into it. We agree on the overall principle, having our differences on the exact path or method used to achieve the principle.

Every conversation we have with other people can be like this. We are dependent on ourselves to listen, comprehend and give at least a passing consideration to the position, before politely handing it back with your thoughts attached, rather than throwing your position in their face. The conversation goes from WITH to AT every time we stop listening.

Take this to heart in your next discussion. Please.

 
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Benghazi

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Every now and then a meme pops up featuring the images of several prominent Republicans with the line, “OH MY GHERD! REPUBLICANS ARE CONTINUING TO INVESTIGATE BENGHAZI WHILE THEY ARE CUTTING EMBASSY SECURITY 50%!”

For those of you who have never served in the military, you are probably not aware about particular military facts and military tenets and how they are relevant to this. I will be all to glad to explain them to you. Military Fact: The shell will always beat the armor. This means that an attacking force will always beat a defensive force. The only question is the time frame for the attacker to beat the defender.

A Battleship, meant to deliver (and receive) 16” shells can take a single hit to the armor by such a shell and survive. It may even take two hits to approximately the same spot and remain capable of fighting. The bad news is no armor of any size can withstand multiple hits in the same spot.

Before an attack, the attacking force will know approximately the strengths and capabilities of the defensive force. The attackers will then amass a force superior to the defensive force before they attack. The more superior the attacking force, the shorter time it will take to crush the defenses. This is why defensive forces like Embassy Marines and other security staff are given one basic order if they are attacked: Hold until relieved.

Which brings us to the Military Tenet of leave no man behind.

This passage from Robert Heinlien’s book Starship Troopers lays this tenet out succinctly:

"Mr. Rico!”
Now I was the victim. “Yes, sir.”
“Are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war? Bear in mind that millions of innocent people may die, almost certainly will die, if war is started or resumed.”
I didn’t hesitate. “Yes, sir! More than enough reason.”
” ‘More than enough.’ Very well, is one prisoner, unreleased by the enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?”
I hesitated. I knew the M. I. [Mobile Infantry] answer, but I didn’t think that was the one he wanted. He said sharply, “Come, come, Mister! We have an upper limit of one thousand; I invited you to consider a lower limit of one. But you can’t pay a promissory note which reads ‘somewhere between one and one thousand pounds’ and starting a war is much more serious than paying a trifle of money. Wouldn’t it be criminal to endanger a country, two countries in fact, to save one man? Especially as he may not deserve it? Or may die in the meantime? Thousands of people get killed every day in accidents ... so why hesitate over one man? Answer! Answer yes, or answer no, you’re holding up the class.”
He got my goat. I gave him the cap trooper’s answer. “Yes, sir!”
” ‘Yes’ what?”
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a thousand, or just one, sir. You fight.”
“Aha! The number of prisoners is irrelevant. Good. Now prove your answer.”
I was stuck. I knew it was the right answer. But I didn’t know why. He kept hounding me. “Speak up, Mr. Rico. This is an exact science. You have made a mathematical statement; you must give proof. Someone may claim that you have asserted, by analogy, that one potato is worth the same price, no more, no less, as one thousand potatoes. No?”
“No, sir!”
“Why not? Prove it.”
“Men are not potatoes.”
“Good, good, Mr. Rico!”

If you have ever wondered about the reasoning about why our military is so intelligent, aggressive, tenacious and victorious on the battlefield, it is because every man and woman who armors up knows without question that every other American soldier, Sailor and Marine have their backs and will not stop, not rest until they return home.

When you’re far from home and up to your chin in shit you need that reassurance. When you wonder if you will live to see the sunset, let alone the sunrise, these are the sweetest words you will ever hear:

“I am an American soldier. I’m here to rescue you. I’m here to take you home.”

I am not upset about the funding levels for Embassy defensive staff. Those decisions are made dependent on available budget and risk assessments by bean counters. I hate bean counters.

What got me upset about Benghazi is the civilian leadership told our fighting forces, “Stand down. Do not attempt rescue.” I don’t give a rat’s ass, when American soldiers are under fire, you send every unit you have as soon as it is armed and capable of moving. The Obama administration gave the line of, “Our forces would not have gotten there in time.” Until you actually get there, you won’t know if it will be “in time” or not. Those defending forces might hold out longer than anybody realizes.

A rapidly-dispatched American F-16 flying over the battle, armed or not, will give the enemy pause and give hope to those under attack. It lets both sides know, “We’re thinking about you.” Air-to-ground ordinance on that F-16 would add an exclamation point to that statement.

You don’t ever leave troops that you send into harms’ way without knowing how you’re going to get them home when it turns to shit.

This is the major issue with political control over tactical decisions. That prior statement is a 5,000 word major article by itself which I am not going to get into. Right now.

The military has contingency plans for just about everything. We even had a plan on what to do if Canada tries to invade the Continental US. It involved pulling all forces back to the southern border of Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota to give our forces time to regroup and counterattack.

The plans may not always be good, but we are always going to use maximum effort to bring our troops home. The civilian leadership might leave our troops hung out to dry, but the troops won’t. You can take that to the bank.

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Everything is rationed part 3

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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.

 
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Not just for cake batter

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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?

 
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Memorial Day

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I wrote the following for a message board I visit some years ago. I have occasionally posted it here. I will start posting this every Memorial Day.

Fair warning: If you decide to step on, wipe your ass with, burn or otherwise desecrate the Flag of this country, do it out of my sight. If I see you doing so, I will visit a beat-down upon you so hard your descendants for three generations will feel it. Too many of my brothers and sisters-in-arms have come home under it for you to step on it.

There are two holidays on that which we celebrate those who have fought for our country. Veterans Day, which celebrates those who still live, and today, Memorial Day, to remember and honor those who never came home.

You need to visit a war memorial today. Be it a Veterans cemetery, or something put up by the local VFW or American Legion. Read the names there on the gravestones, or on the brass plaque there under the waving American Flag.

When visiting that cemetery, tread gently; heroes lie sleeping under that peaceful lawn.

From the Concord Green, to the streets of Baghdad and the caves of Afghanistan, men and women have willingly paid the ultimate price for their service.

Blood was spilled at places like Bunker Hill, Cold Harbor, Bastonge, Okinawa, Chosin Reservoir. Hill 535, Firebase Charlie, Da Nang. Fallujah, Bahgdad, Tora Bora and too many others to count. American blood was spilled, to protect the ideals that gave birth to a nation that the world had never seen before or since. Ideals like Freedom, Liberty and Self-determination. Magic words that mean a lot to every American.

As you walk amongst those fallen heroes, remember those who died at sea, for that is their grave.

All gave some, some gave all. Some are still giving. POW-MIA.

 
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Why you should do the right thing

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I have long said you should do the right thing for the right reasons. I just learned about this story, Guy Finds StarCraft Source Code And Returns It To Blizzard, Gets Free Trip To BlizzCon.

This guy bought a "box of Blizzard stuff" off eBay, and in the box was a CD labeled "StarCraft Gold Master Source Code." This is the uncompiled source code that makes up the game StarCraft. A lot of things could be done with this code.

In the end, he did the right thing and returned it to Blizzard. Blizzard then sent him a copy of their new game Overwatch and $250 in store credit.

Then the other shoe dropped.

Out of the blue one day, the guy gets a phone call from Blizzard, giving him a full ride (airfare, hotel and admission) to their annual convention, BlizzCon and drinks with the staff. Oh, yeah, another box shows up at his door with multiple Razer gaming accessories, plushies and a copy of Diablo III.

Think about this the next time you're confronted with an ethical dilemma.

 
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The rationing of health care

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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.

 
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Free-Form Fun Fridays

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I have decided that if there is something that I want to post that has nothing to do with the main purpose of this website (posting about Conservativeism, etc.), These posts will appear on "Free-Form Fun Fridays."

In December last year, Ikea opened a warehouse here in Memphis. Earlier this week I went there and bought myself a standing desk and assembled it. I am trying to improve my health by not sitting as much, since "sitting is the new smoking." This excuse allows me to post the following video, two people trying to assemble Ikea furniture after taking LSD. Enjoy!

 
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Going Nuclear

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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.

 
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Everything is rationed

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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.

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Change is coming

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A lot of changes have been happening on this side of the screen that are starting to come to fruition. I am working to upgrade the professionalism and content generation of this blog in my "copious free time."

Filling in the gaps: I am slowly but surely filling in my "missing posts" so someone can see everything I have posted here. I have at least 1,500 posts to work through so this will take a while.

Slight direction change: When I started posting in 2003, I was doing "knee-jerk" commenting on 2-3 news articles a day when my illness let me. Over the past couple of years, I have developed a "wait until it unfolds" policy. This means that by the time I comment on something it will not be part of the current news cycle. That's okay, because I mean to get you the correct and in-depth information, not be "first with breaking news." I do not aim to be first, but the most correct. I may be posting on something that's a couple weeks or months old, but I think it's still important that you know about it.

Timed posting: The previous post I generated on May 4th, then did a "timed publication" so it did not appear until the 8th. I also set up the SEF (Search Engine Friendly) URL beforehand, as well as the posting to my Facebook pages. All this means that I will now be able to post reliably on set days of the week and not worry about being distracted and missing one component of those steps to bring content to you. Look for consistent Monday and Thursday postings starting next week. Depending on other factors, this may change. Let's see how I do with twice a week first. If I need to, I will also do a "We interrupt this broadcast" type post.

Content generation method change: I have started carrying a notebook with me so when an idea hits me, I stop where I am and write it down before it escapes. I use a single page for each topic to give myself an outline of what I want to cover and where I have saved the appropriate links. This allows me to have multiple articles "on the hook" at any given moment. This will also allow me to invest the time to make sure I fully develop my posts. I currently have 17 active articles in my book that I am developing.

Advertising: Once the archives are filled in and I have developed the habit of releasing posts on a consistent schedule, I will be starting to advertise so I can expand my readership. I have not fully explored everything about this yet so I do not know if this would include ads on this website. I intend to avoid that if at all possible.

Email: Another thing that I want to explore is an email newsletter. Again, I have not developed any parameters on this at this point. This will be several months down the road at a minimum.

I hope these changes are pleasing to you, my readers.

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The lowdown on insurance

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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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The fix has been in for a while

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This news article is not surprising in the least to me. 7 Jaw-Dropping Revelations From Hearings on the Motion to Dismiss the DNC Fraud Lawsuit. I remember from the 1996 Presidential election, at the Democrat National Convention, a lot of committees that formed the various "planks" that made up the platform of the Democrat Party, the process went something like this:

Committee member: "Mr. Chairman, I move that [this] be the position of the Democrat Party on this subject."

Chairperson: "All in favor say 'Aye.' Motion carries."

If you're unfamiliar with Robert's Rules of Order, it should have gone like this:

Committee member 1: "Mr. Chairman, I move that [this] be the position of the Democrat Party on this subject."

Committee member 2: "Mr. Chairman, I second the motion."

Chairperson: "Everyone, we have a motion on the floor, properly seconded. Discussion?"

At this point, each person on the committee would have the opportunity to speak for or against the motion. Motions could be made to amend the motion. After everyone has had an opportunity to speak, the chairperson then calls for a vote.

Chairperson: "We are now voting on this motion. All in favor of this motion say 'Aye' [everyone in favor of the motion says 'Aye']. All opposed say 'Nay' [everyone against the motion says 'Nay']."

This is called a voice vote. If it is evident that one side outnumbers the other, the motion either carries or fails. If it sounds close, any member can ask the chairperson to call for a show of hands or for the voters to stand when 'yays' or 'nays' are called.

Notice the difference? In the first rendition, there is no "second," nor is there any discussion on the subject. There is also no opportunity for a dissenting vote.

So when the DNC uses "superdelegates" paid for by Hillary to publicly throw the delegate count to her and insure that Sanders never had a chance at the nomination. As a result, Sanders supporters sued the DNC on the grounds of fraud. The DNC is using the reasoning, "We are a private organization. We can run how we select candidates however we want" to dismiss the case.

The Bylaws of the DNC (specifically Article 5, Section 4) reads:

...In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process. [emphasis mine]

Yet there is ample evidence out there that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (the head of the DNC at the time) clearly and repeatedly leaked intelligence about the Sanders campaign and debate questions to the Clinton campaign beforehand, I doubt these actions come anywhere close to the definition of "impartiality."

The lawyers for the DNC actually state in open court and on the record, "We could choose our candidates in a smoke-filled back room if we so desired."

Let that sink in for a moment, because I can hear Stalin laughing manically in the background. It was Stalin who said, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." The common people, the citizens of this great country who believe in the positions of the Democrat Party, who give money, effort and time to elect like-minded people to positions in our government from dog-catcher the the President, You are only sheep to be sheared by those in power at the DNC. You are expected to be obedient foot-soldiers who have no power or input on whom you're voting for. You vote for who you're told to vote for and that's it.

And just to make the point very clear, the Republicans do not do this kind of thing. I can point to President Trump to make that point. When just about the entire Republican power structure was actively against Trump, yet he played the RNC game by the RNC rules and won the nomination on his way to the Oval Office.

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Markisms To Live By

Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable.