30 May 2007

so back to the random goodie bag

Much happening, if you can call it that. Either the much or the happening is up for debate there. My friend is departing again for Asia in about 30 hours for another two months. This seriously disrupts the likelihood of either playing basketball or playing cards. In truth, one of the two is perhaps good, as I either need a solid week or two to rest my ankle (yes, I used it even in its enhanced purple state to play basketball) or time to actually try to get to talk to people for my work-like efforts. I'm guessing the cards is the more expendable. I'd prefer to remain somewhat less than half the man of the average American male. Moving around keeps it that way.

The lady's friend is moving out. Some of her stuff will remain for ease of movement (read: x360), the rest will go back packed up and moved into someone's garage I suspect. I haven't yet really looked earnestly for the new place, still have about a month or so though. Procrastination is helped by not much jumping off the pages for me to go and look at. I suppose I should hurry; summer is a prime relocation period for most. I haven't even really come up with serious criteria for the home/apt. So I shall do so now to prove how boring I can be.

1) Reasonably recent appliances. I hate energy bills. Ditto the insulation. That shit is a pain in the ass to setup, but damn if it doesn't keep things toasty and cool when need-be.

2) A yard. The dog needs somewhere else to use his energy besides furniture. A fence would be useful for this. A very high fence. That pup can jump.

3) Someone to pick up my two dozen milk jugs every week and recycle them. I'm tired of carting them off to friends and family. I'm sure the lady is tired of seeing them pile up in unique fashions every couple of weeks just so I don't have to say the container is full. I miss using those cardboard tubes from wrapping paper to secretly extend the height of a trash can. Not so much wrapping going on lately.

4) Low or no taxes. If there are taxes, I better be seeing some kickbacks in the community.

5) Still stuck around the Dayton area. A southerly routing is better for convenience to the job. Technically I should be looking for a place down toward Cincy, but that would cause different problems that aren't worth the gas I'd save.

Now that that's out of the way, nobody tell me if they've seen something like this. It wouldn't do for me to actually be encouraged on finding a reasonably accommodating home. What is troubling me today. Work is slow. Someone have future money problems so I have something to do besides drive people crazy and whine about politics. Or people going crazy and shooting up malls, not the school shooting I had predicted, but interesting none-the-less. Still hasn't topped the one in Australia where the guy had a machete and an AK. Well. It's early yet.

I recovered from my stretch of not sleeping for several weeks just in time to sleep way too much; you know like 6-7 hours a morning. That's just ridiculous. I think maybe it's the ankle that's slowing me down. I can't get up and run, and I can barely walk the dog around a couple blocks without the legs tightening up and starting to complain to me. Injuries are a major pain.

25 May 2007

economics of gas prices


I read this with some interest this morning. What I find is a couple of interesting lines which are apparently non-transferable intellectually.

"Somebody out there is making money at these prices, but not me,"

That's the gas station owner or operator. Gasoline is distinct from oil. It's a much more expensive product because its a refined object. But what is noteworthy here is that the idea of a profit margin is introduced. "because gas margins are razor thin" - Really. I had no idea that a margin was different than a net profit. The operating principle of gasoline sales in this country is that most stations operate at very close to a net loss on the sale of gasoline, recouping profits by selling large volumes of gas, lowering prices somewhat slowly/raising them immediately, and selling impulse items in the store. What is apparently not understood by the general public is that the overall profit margin of the entire oil industry is relatively low. There are however massive volumes, gigantic. The idea that the oil companies make billions of dollars on the sale of oil/gas does not bother me by itself. There are other things oil companies do which concern me, but how much they make does not. Price gouging, as I understand it, is monitored closely by the government already for oil and gas prices, so new legislation determined to 'end' it is little more than vote pandering (something which passed in the house prior to the weekend).

All this however does not help at all when I look at the price at the pump. I am no more pleased about it than anyone else. But I at least know I am partly to blame because I have need of a limited product. Less to blame than the fool driving the SUV at the pump next to mine, but still. Point the finger at where it belongs here. We need to stop needing to consume as much gasoline and oil and perhaps then price will diminish. Seizing oil corporate profits doesn't help us in the long term.

24 May 2007


"Let's go back to 1888 and the Senate Committee on Education. The committee was addressing local control of education. Concerned was expressed that local control of the government education process might actually result in our children being taught too much! The committee report actually says "We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes." In other words, the more someone knows the more discontent they become in later years. Discontent with what?"

I've seen much in the way with this notion. Bertrand Russell has been a personal favorite in logic. His conclusions (back 100 years ago) on the practices of public education in a nation-state are much as what we have now. Indoctrination of certain precepts and the development of necessary items of productivity. Of what use are math and science in the development of public policy? On occasion perhaps, it is necessary to understand the science or the numbers behind a particular subject. I would argue though that the voter/citizen need essentially to understand what a number actually represents. Education that allows people to place each statistic in its proper perspective is far more important than churning out science teachers. Science is certainly useful, but in point of fact, in the modern world it matters very little where a technological advance comes from. It matters who buys it or sells it. Someone in India or China can come up with a cure for a disease just as easily as we might here in America. Does that matter? Should it? I don't doubt the useful necessity of teaching mathematics and of exploring the concepts of science. But if we want productive and happy citizens, they need to be able to observe and decide what the roots of their unhappiness may come from. Namely, am I displeased with my leaders or myself.

On war: Sun Tzu Says

I've come to some conclusions on the state of our foreign entanglements. I've been on these for a while, but I prefer not to voice my thoughts on warfare. Mostly because I suspect that having an opinion on how to run a war in modern times has thoroughly escaped our strategic planning. There have been two major blunders of strategy in our thinking (if you can call it that). Of the first, we failed to define the conditions of military victory before committing to battle. This was an essential portion of the so-called "Powell Doctrine" during the first Gulf War. Powell, being one of the few in government who seemed to know what he was doing, is long gone. Of the second, we are still fighting old wars. The belief that more troops and more tanks or planes wins battles is over. Battles are fought in hit and run limited engagements because nobody is dumb enough to fight our planes or tanks head-on anymore. A new strategy is required to meet this threat.

First things first. In any war, the determination of victory conditions must be made. Our condition of victory has been constantly refined, radically so, since the beginning of the war. Always a bad sign. The reason for this is that we have failed to properly identify the conflict we are engaged in. It is not a singular battle for nation-states that should concern us. That time is past. Organizations, multi-national forces, dominate the landscape. In economics, giant corporations merge and spread across borders. In our private lives we can communicate with people all over the globe with minimal effort, time, or expense through the convenience of the Internet. And in warfare, terrorists do not care what country they are in, only that they must carry out their radical, dogmatic missions. The great conflict we are engaged in has little to do with Iraq or Afghanistan. Those are merely the places that have hummed out the tune. They are not the music.

The great war here is not with a nation run by a tyrant. It is with a religion that is in a struggle for internal control, most specifically with the more radical segments of that religion. There are nations that play a part. Afghanistan was such a place. Iraq was a bit different. I believe Iraq wouldn't have minded playing a larger part, but I rather doubt it was doing much besides being a general pain in everyone's posterior. These "free radicals" are generally to hostile or at least careless toward anyone who does not share their agenda. That by itself does not begrudge them to me, but it does of course mean that conflict is guaranteed. If we are required to fight, we should have at least taken the time to know who we are fighting and how to beat them.

If we have any illusions that appeasement or peace can be made with such people, we are badly deluded. Who for example do we negotiate with? Iran doesn't run all the terrorist groups. Al Qaeda, for example, is outright hostile toward the Shia' branch which Iran speaks for. They wouldn't accept an agreement handed down by the Persians. The recent fighting in Lebanon suggests that some more moderate Muslims have tired of the extremism that has come to define their faith. That much is hopeful. Allies are necessary to crush this rebellious nature.

But what have we defined as our victory? A free and stable Iraq? There is a hint that a few understand this to be generational conflict, an unceasing fight crossing several more national boundaries before it ends. That being the case, having such a limited and implausible victory condition is foolish. Only recently has a reasonable suggestion come forth: Divide Iraq back into autonomous states with a central federalized capital. For all the organizing that has gone on in corporations and collections of the faithful, nations have been busy dividing. Let them go. A 'stable' Iraq was an impossibility with the imposition of "free" (democracy) upon them. Democracy does not flourish where the seeds are not yet sown. Perhaps given this taste of the fruits of freedom, Iraqis will not soon seek other temptations. But I seriously doubt it. Russia's experiments with democracy have been largely impotent. Looking around the world where democracy has been imposed, it has usually failed. Not because it is a terrible way to run a country, but because it is a difficult way to. It must be tended to, maintained, and occasionally people in power don't get what they want. That's a hard pill to swallow in that part of the world.

In America it has triumphed because of the vastness of our diverse viewpoints. A Simpsons' episode once gave Burns 'invincibility' because he had every disease known to man. Since they were too busy tripping over each other, he never fell ill. America is much like this. Too many factions tripping over each other for any one of them to make too much of a bother. Iraqis have only three factions. And they all seem to literally hate each other to death. If it was to be a stable country, then a stronger, firmer hand is required. As it is, it can be stable only if there are more than one of them. This should have been understood prior to our invasion. The lack of understanding of the cultural realities of a foreign country makes imposing our will upon it all the more hard to take, and that much easier to resist. Taking democracy and expecting it to govern over a country still stuck in a feudal lord mentality isn't going to work. And we should have known that going in. As it is, it's still possible it can work, but not very well. There is too much extremism at work in a place where extremists were all too often hammered down for many years.

Thus without the precondition of victory defined as the quashing of religious extremism, which was, after all, what attacked us on 9/11, we're stuck in something not quite anything worth fighting. Building a nation that is schizophrenic and parts of it don't quite think we're building a nation they want to live in isn't exactly a cause that the American people will rally behind. And of course, they haven't. They have abandoned this war, forgetting that it is but a limited objective in a grander scheme. Of course that grander scheme hasn't been revealed because, right now, there isn't one. I would say in some ways what we have accomplished is like a throwing right hook without landing any jabs before hand. The jabs are much more important. The hook looks nice, but it might not connect, and thus must be part of a plan. It hasn't been so far.

So how do we prevail, what sorts of strategy should we employ? Troop surges are not the answer. The key is how those troops are deployed and used. Tanks driving down the street accomplishes nothing of consequence in this type of war. A war of organizations, rather than nations, can go on almost without end. Guerrilla warriors know their strengths lie in being small cadres of tightly bound men (or women) who make small and numerous strikes against a larger, more ponderous foe. To fight them, an army must create small and numerous forces ready to strike back. Ambushes should not be the craft our enemies. They should be our craft. Gather and use intelligence, and then strike. Ruthlessly and hard. These types of tactics worked to invade Afghanistan. Conquering it was the easy part. But in holding it, we reverted to garrisoning. That was not our objective. Our objective there was to depose the hostile government and kill terrorists. Kill. Not 'neutralize'. These are not people who are inclined to stop fighting anytime soon. They will use any means to strike at us they can place in their hands. Such ruthlessness can only be met with equal measure and judicious force. Our mercy can be saved for people who have no quarrel with us. In doing this we must be sure that our mercy is shown.

Israel recently failed most spectacularly in the war of public opinion because it failed to take the formless shadow it was fighting and put a face and body to it. Chopping off the arms of a hydra does nothing productive anyway. To fight a shapeless and nameless foe, we must take on the characteristic of that thing we fight. Being a spotted and solid form we have been inundated and surrounded by a more fluid enemy. To fight back, we must become more fluid. Our enemies take form only briefly and then to disappear back into anonymity. We must be able to do the same, appear where we are unexpected and then disappear. Our firepower and training give us the ability to attack with maximum power, power which cannot be matched by our foes. Where they appear, we must be able to react swiftly enough to strike hard before they disappear. Their attacks and resistance would become putatively futile against this. Suicide bombing can work for a time, but the kills are not our forces in these cases. They are the people, the innocents. The people can only tolerate such nonsense for so long. In Lebanon, they have tired of it. I suspect Iraqis are much beyond the breaking point, but have no means of their own to strike back. When it becomes clear that paramilitary type resistance is useless in the face of public scrutiny and military tactics, our enemies in this fight will have to adjust to another means of fighting. We're not at that point yet, sadly.

To resolve this crisis and conflagration we must ourselves learn new tactics and employ them to our maximum advantage. Our army has for some time used what is adapted Soviet army doctrine. That's fine for fighting other armies, but that time has passed. It obviously didn't work out all that well for the Russians in their own misadventures in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, I guess. There are few nations that are left to oppose us on their own terms. It is necessary for us to learn how to survive in this new environment if we wish to define the terms.

What can we learn; after all this undoubtedly a long struggle, regardless of what happens with Iraq. We must understand that democracy is a seed that must be allowed to grow and flourish in its own forms. It may be a flower that we may identify with, but it is to be a very unique one in each place it takes root. Islamic radicals may claim democracy to be incompatible with their faith, but even Iran has a Constitution and something approaching meaningful elections. I believe, in time, this flower can take root. But it cannot be planted in infertile grounds. Iraq has some reformers in it, but its previous occupants were effective at rooting out such activity and expelling it in many ways. We may have been more fortunate had we occupied Palestine or Lebanon, though either would have been more hostile in reception and less useful politically at home. Spreading democracy is a fine cause, but it is only a secondary policy in this engagement. Radicals are radicalized by what is seen as our encroachment on their ways. Secular democracy is the cornerstone of this encroachment. I don't see how enforcing it is going to win the war. Spreading it, yes. But democracy does not operate from the barrel of a gun. It may form from it, as in our history, but it forms where the people have risen to it by any means they have available, guns or no. We would do well to remember that next time.

I remember when I used to know that

So yeah. A bit delayed, but Gonzales stepped up to the plate at Congress and whiffed at the t-ball about 50 times. "I have no recollection, Senator" is a great line from a terrible Clancy movie. It is not something we want to hear dozens of times about something that has very little relevance politically. This has become a scandal from mismanagement politically. Firing or dismissing public servants is done all the time, even mid-term. Did we hear a great commotion and moves to inquiry when Rumsfeld resigned? No we did not. This type of thing goes all the way back to the first great Supreme Court case of Marbury v Madison. Public officials dislike it when they are dismissed without a good explanation, in other words, they are fired for political reasons.

Where this is a problem is that it smacks a bit of the Executive trying to manipulate the Judicial. That's nothing new either. But it is rather awkward. Another great line, paraphrasing, "What they want is a court that will behave like a toy in a magical kingdom. A court that will do what it is told." Now there is every right to appoint attorneys and judges to serve in a capacity consistent with our political ideology. But expecting them to rule and act in a manner totally consistent with it is not in any way a right of the executive. It seems bizarre to suggest that our intentions are to appoint constructionist interpretations to be judge and then to turn around and tell them what sorts of decisions you want handed down by handing down mandates to the attorneys on which sorts of prosecutions to seek most aggressively.

Anyway, it just seems consistent with the adminstration to appoint yet another bumbling fool to a position of authority. About the only semi-intelligent people appointed was Powell to State. And he is gone. Conservatives like the guy at Treasury, I don't. He's another ultra-Christian nutjob. I think least he recognized that there is a growing gap between rich and poor, but whether or not that's within his capacity to resolve is debatable. Condi is fine except she's a East Bloc specialist during a time when we need an Arabic/Persian specialist. Great choice there. Don't even mention "Homeland Security". What a joke that is. When there's so much turnover in the Cabinet, I have to wonder why. I suspect there's always alot of turnover, but to have only 2 people serve the entire two terms in any capacity is a bit strange. Maybe it would be easier if I had no memory of such things and just couldn't recall basic things like they do.

14 May 2007

evolutionary fun

Some days ago, Republicans held a 'debate' intended to voice the issues and stances of the various candidates for President, two years from now that is. While the questions were generally stacked in a manner consistent with what are liberal issues and thus of little interest to a Republican primary (global warming, abortion, etc), the funniest moment came when the candidates were asked if they do not believe the theory of evolution. Three of them raised their hands. As Jon Stewart commented, you will be missed. For the record, none of them were legitimate candidates and by the records tend to be ultra-conservative theocrats (Brownback, Huckabee, Tancredo, to which most people will go Who?).

I would have far more interested in tax policy formulations (sadly one of the morons is an ardent tax reform advocate also), but this revelation is an interesting tidbit. Of the ten candidates, having 3 who disagree on theological grounds with Darwin is about the ratio in the general population (of America that is). In other developed nations having just one of the ten raise their hand would be taboo and the candidate would hardly be taken seriously on any other issue. Overwhelmingly in industrial nations Darwin's theory is given credence and taught instructively such that the people of those nations do not follow with creationism or some similar silliness. Alone in the modern world, America is a confused place at times.

We have to wonder why. When this was a country founded on the idea of free worship (or non-worship) and the element that state and church were not conjoined as they often were in the politics of the Old World, why is it that a religious issue such as this (along with others like abortion and prayer in school) should be so dominate in our national politics as to be placed alongside such issues as global warming or foreign policy? I have to wonder why this has happened. I do not believe that religion has or should have no influence in society as a whole. But when it imposes so strongly upon the society as a public forum, something is wrong.

Think for a moment about prayer in school for example. Why do theocrats tout this as a source of social utility? If they are devoutly religious people, would not their children get an adequate time at home and in their private time away from schools to partake of this religious observance? Then why do they need time in school. I've no problem with someone who wants to pray in their school (at some ceremony or as a pretext for relaxation prior to an exam), but when the school imposes it upon people there are a number of problems. For example, which religious observance would be imposed, or even which brand of Christian doctrine if we simply assume some Judeo-Christian sect would dominate? Who would lead such a procession, a teacher? And for what purpose would it be done.

For whatever reason the fundamental belief of theocrats is that the absence of prayer or religion in general is the playground of evil. This is not always so. There are still a great many virtues (duty, responsibility, honesty, etc) that can be extolled in the public manner of education without constraining the student body to the requirement of religious observance (and the subsequent problems of ostracization that would surely follow). There are already enough problems with the simple secular 'prayer' of the pledge of allegiance. I recall quite vividly being singled out on occasion for my peculiarity in that practices. I would have quite another battle if my absence of religion were forced into a public arena and allowed to be picked over. I have no qualms personally in such a fight, but there are a great many others who might. As a result, I can think of no effort more guaranteed to add to the already tremendous strain of public conformity imposed upon young students than the inclusion of prayer. Pray on your terms and on your time with your children. Forcing 'mine' (since I have none, thank you much) to pray would be met with the strongest objections. It would be their choice to participate or object. That is the freedom of religion clause at work in a government arena.

On one point I have some agreement, that religion should be taught in schools. But not in the instructive manner of observance and ritual, but rather as a comparative theology. Never is the question of validity in our collective mythology raised when studying the ancient 'pagans' of Greece, Rome, Egypt or the Norse lands. I suspect this would be rather unpopular to do, but being critical of some parts of faith does not automatically engender questions on whether that faith is valid in and of itself. If someone truly wishes to believe, there are a great many questions on which science or philosophy is as yet silent or perhaps even incapable of answering (which is why I tend to ignore metaphysics for example). But having some skepticism will engender a great interpretation of that personal faith. Beginning to wonder what some passages might allude to instead of taking them at face value presents a religious faith that is more in line with the human spirit than that of some ancient and out-dated dogma. It crafts a more personal involvement with that practice than simply going through the motions. Even without any personal faith myself, having gone through and studied moral dilemmas and other greater questions on personal conduct, I arrived at some stable principles of my own invention and consistency (if you can call it that). Such stable forms give one the ability to practice what they preach, rather than simple obedience through fear or some other coercion.

Which brings us back to evolution. These fools who presume publicly to abandon such a scientifically accepted notion are not fools for their skepticism, but for their basis for such skepticism. They lack any consistent basis of their own choosing and basis to attack Darwin and even to defend their own position, whatever that may be, because with only faith-based lines of defense, there is no cogent argument to expound to reason. When we are to choose a leader, I suspect that that leader having a set of consistent principles which are intellectualized and practiced with the devout sense that a religion might impose, but are instead a self-inflicted set of boundaries might be a bit more important than whether that person believes in Darwinism. But at least we can knock three of these goof balls off the ballot box.

election reformations

For those of you who drink, you're at least vaguely aware of the repeal of an amendment. There are two more which I feel need to go, but one in particular is an interesting case. The 17th. The 16th is the one we all hate and fear during April, and the 18th made alcohol quasi-illegal, as most casual students of history are aware. But 17 is a mystery to most. It has its roots in a very old problem, dating back to the Constitution's inception, perhaps even to the Articles before that. And it felt its opponents from the 'states rights' advocates, known also in many circles as the racist Southern contingent. So it can hardly be considered popular to bring it up as a topic of needed reform. But when it is considered why the reform was made in the first place, and where we are now, it seems to me that the reform was totally ineffective and has spurred problems of an unintended nature into the situation.

To begin with, consider why is it that the Senate and House have different structures? This is not directly tied to the issue of the 17th, but it plays havoc with the music in the background. What possible necessity is there for the several states to apportion a fixed number of representatives to a seperate house. The net effect of such a move has been studied and it can be shown that at many times, the federal spending of such states as would be over-represented, be it through population or wealth, is disproportionately high. States like Alaska have money enough to build bridges to nowhere thanks to their fairy-god Senators. Was this a necessary inclusion? Are the rights of the people of a less populated or less wealthy state somehow more exclusive than the rights of a crowded or enriching state? Apparently to some this is true. And indeed, there is something to be said for protecting the rights of a vigorous minority from the trampling herds. But the ill-conceived compromises on this matter resulted in a state whereby the states themselves appointed Senators to serve, not the populace. I surmise first that this portion of the compromise was not at all the problem, but that it is the breakdown of equal votes for each state that creates disingenuous feeling between the states. There was at the time a perfectly viable and reasonable alternative. Break the states down into groups, large, middle and small. Give larger states (like present-day California or New York) extra representation not merely in the House, but also in the Senate. It could be used with some formula of GNP and population to discern that a state that produces a high volume of some strategic material or high-end production is disproportionately important to the status of the overall union and likewise may deserve some additional say in these particular matters. I would rather it be this way than have states like Rhode Island, Alaska, and Delaware have powerful and influential Senators bringing home pork for their minions at home. The problems with this are mollified by the fact that actual representation in the House requires some caucusing of votes to achieve anything. But in the end, it can be accepted that the present number of Senators is at least moderately successful at apportioning such wealth and resource as is needed to attempt to raise the standard of the several states that are considered less fortunate; be it by lack of people or lack of innate wealth. This much at least is a useful check on the authority of power and wealth.

At least, it would be if there was a good deal less corruption involved in the process. Senatorial candidates generate vast sums of money for electoral purposes. Many among the citizenry have fallen disinterested in politics under the plain assumption that politicians are dirty and corrupt. It was precisely this assumption that ramrodded public support for the initiatives leading to the 17th amendment in the first place. All the way back at the turn of the 20th century, the great industrialists were seen as power brokers, buying and selling the shares of power, pocketing local and national authorities at will, flagrantly abusing their wealth to increase their standing and power even more so in the style of medieval barons.

Such images were striking and in an era of socialist feeling, a progressive movement formed demanding such popular reforms as were enacted. The first income taxes were levied, principally targeted then as now upon the wealthy. Then as now, the wealthy paid a considerable amount more than they felt entitled to do, and created loopholes. I do not begrudge them that, it is my deeply felt consideration that it is consumption and actual property that ought be taxed, not income. The earning of wealth should not be punished, excepting where it abuses and punishes the populace. Not every billion has such a story behind it. The women's movements carried forth a universal vote. Here I find it disturbing that we would have presented no open restrictions on race, but left intact those of gender for another 50 years, but then I wasn't entirely raised in the 19th century. Perhaps there was some hysterical "reason" for this. Finally, it was considered for whatever reason that the populace should select all its representatives to the national level. This was seen or at least touted as a cure for the corruption of public officials at the state level where such appointments were made. Making such elections as necessary to select Senators would make them accountable to the people rather than toward whatever corrupt officials that had bribed along the way.

Be that as it may, it was hardly successful. Senators in their intended use are to be a coolant for the cries and fouls of the populace. Our shortsightedness and ability to panic can be easily swayed and induced and it is intended, I believe usefully and deliberately, that a form of governance be enacted that checks this ridiculous nature at times. Dispatching from their purview this natural cause has left a curious position which has come to be occupied yet again by the very people that we were trying to eliminate. Namely, those special interests of the powerful and rich magnate types. Replaced now by faceless corporations, the robber baron mentality has persisted in corporate America's ceaseless manuevuers in the halls of government. Today influence is still peddled about as though it were a particularly sweet fruit on the corner market. It is still possible for us to see plainly the effective purchase with which many of our supposed representatives have been had. The total dependence on popular elections has created a drastically long campaign, rendering it necessary to create vast war chests for the electoral process, hardly an positive use of our representatives time. To spend it campaigning and pandering rather than legislating, which is perhaps a boon when there is little chance of the actual legislating being of particular benefit to the constituents of the entire country.

To my mind this problem is alleviated by one of two fronts. One, return Senators to the states' responsibilities with strong election oversight boards to punish corruption and graft. This returns the power to the people of that state with some indirect checks on the fickle power of the mob and removes the excessive need for campaigning with the public. Or two. Setup more transparent election campaign rules. Allow people or corporate entities to give as much as they want provided there is a clear announcement that they have done so. Make the candidates wear buttons from the major donors for example. The common people seem to understand the mishmash of stickers adorning race cars. Surely they would find the same concept useful with their elected representatives. Barring such outright endorsements, the information should be made available for public consumption and each entity which gives must have a clear title. Recent events in state elections where such transparency is required have shown that some entities will attempt through vague construction to give and have no one the wiser on who they are. This is preposterous. It should be possible with a modicum of investigation to be sure of who and where funding for a candidate is garnered.

This front is considerably more easily achieved and but does little to restore to the people considerable power. The mob must also be made observant for this to work. As I said, they are too busy watching race cars and trying to get Paris Hilton out of prison. I doubt very seriously if they are capable of stretching their intellectual resources to consider their election choices with vigor. As this was a fear of the Convention in the 1790s, it is hard to see how it can be resolved without restoring the original construct of elections. Namely, that the mob's power is reduced (and thus placed in higher esteem with all the greater duty and vigor attached that entails) by the means of limiting who votes also. I would strongly suggest that only such people that generate income independent of governments would vote. Some exception would be made for people who are in the process of education, be it job/trade training or college. But there is no reason for people to vote when they do not support themselves. So long as the primary sources of income for our government are provided through income taxation, then the fee for entry in participation shall be income. The founders established such limitations toward property, as it was then that property was taxed, for the express purpose and understanding that those who are burdened with taxes should have the express say what to do with those taxes. There was considerably better optimism at that time as to what this 'aristocracy' would do, and often did, compared to our present concerns on wealth. And with the broader base that supports our current government, there is plenty of check on the authority of the powerful and wealthy anyway.

This idea would remove two primary groups of voters, those who most easily mobilized with the persuasion of fear (hardly a useful voting motivation). One, elderly or disabled who are dependent on Medicare or social security. Two, people who are dependent on welfare. Of the second I am less concerned because the general rate of dependency on welfare is considerably shorter than is commonly thought. Most people cycle off it in less than a year. Horror stories abound, but they are the minority. Very few people would be afflicted over a lifetime. Of the first I find considerable importance as it places great emphasis on personal responsibility. People would have to make such accommodations during their working lifetimes to have some source of independent wealth and comforts. If they fail to take such actions, they would have a program entitled, as it is to anyone, to help take care of them. But they would also pay a fine in the element of losing the ability to vote. I feel that is a fair compromise. I would largely have some concern for people who have suffered some physical disability (those with severe mental problems are not at issue, nobody trusts a fool, or even a disturbed wise man, with a decision). But there again, there are means for such people to support themselves in part with income independent of government. In a great many cases such disability is not permanent or at least permanently preventing the ability to work or to hold some form of employment. Wheelchairs do not prevent people from working at a desk for example. Blindness or deafness do not prevent profitable activity either, and so forth.

If we are to resolve the problems of our elections and the corrupt vice of money that influences them, we must also establish such checks on the authority of the populace to abrogate for themselves such powers as are not earned or entitled. There is little cause for fear where the government steps in to aid the sufferings or to breakup the abuse of power in the marketplace. But where the government creates programs of entitlement, it creates a monopoly of dependency that none can match and very few can argue with. I do not think that a wise use of government. It's power lies principally in the service of justice, which is not given cause when people do not take some duty or responsibility for themselves.

12 May 2007


So far what I'm seeing is an interesting dynamic. The two teams likely to advance to the finals are masters of running plays. Spurs and Pistons that is. Structured offenses and lock down defense. What a shock; that's what always wins championships. It's unfortunately very boring for the casual fan to watch. But it's great for the purist.
Quite the contrary though, the Warriors do not have an offense. Or a defense. It's just an entire team of organized chaos runamuck. It's fantastic to watch. But it has no prayer of a deep advancement. The distinction is obvious. One team runs plays. The other makes them. That Baron Davis dunk the other night for example. .ridiculous. It looked something like this:


05 May 2007

whew, we're safe for a while

Paris is going to jail. Perhaps the first bit of pop news I've actually bothered to concern myself with; she apparently doesn't understand the meaning and purpose of a suspended license. Sadly, her disappearance will only be temporary, and I will again have to contend with random bits of popular culture intruding on actual matters of importance. I found it amusing when it was suggested that she was, in fact, satan. Not that I believe in such things, but that her ability to apparently ignore the negative publicity she generates and still have fame purely based on being famous was suggestive of extraordinary interference. This ties back with Anna Nicole, yet another leper of fame IMHO lacking credible redeeming qualities for which to base fame around. Can't we just shut down E!/MTV and such for about 6 months to let these people find real jobs or at least positions that don't involve purposely leaked sex tapes?