Marx, Progressives, Socialism, and Agenda 21

There were a couple of things I saw in the Agenda 21 / Rio Convention that tickled some very old memories. From way back when we were required to learn about Communism, Socialism, Progressives, and Marx as part of the Economics major. (They are economic systems and Marx is considered a “political economist”, so we had to know about them…)

So after the discussion here:
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/foia-agenda-21/

I was trying to decide if the folks behind Agenda 21 were Fascists (Socialism “3rd Way” using corporatist form, some admixture of Nationalism usually required, so likely not unless the UN has plans for a ‘world nation’…), hard core Communists (confiscation of wealth and means of production – possible), simple Authoritarians, or perhaps “Socialism Lite” via the Progressive Disguise… I haven’t decided yet. They have some elements from each of these. I’ll keep digging at it (and at the Foia emails) after the holidays.

At any rate, after a bit of digging, I confirmed some of it. Here are the “short form” bullets of what Marx held important in the Communist Manifesto. You see some of them resurface in the various Socialisms (including the Fascist Variant which had some of these, but not all), and even the U.S. Progressive Movement embraces a few. If you look into the Agenda 21 stuff, it has echos of these. Removing private land to exclusive public use (or nature reserves) is high on their list.

You will note that a couple of these are darlings of The Progressives, including The Progressive Income Tax (#2) and they already have socialized the education system of America (which is why you will never see vouchers – you might dodge indoctrination… #10)

We’re on our way to #5, with a much reduced number of banks, under close government “control”. We got The Fed under prior Progressive governments (prior to that the banking system was quite private…) With the US Post Office and a move to put the Internet under closer government control (like in China – yes, the USA are trying to get that level of control) we’re headed toward #6. Look for transponders to be mandated in cars “soon” (already being discussed as alternative tax method to gasoline taxes – wonder why they want electric cars… and about AMTRAK and the push to more “public transit”…) On #8, we can see why the Dimocrats keep calling for The Draft and a National Service Corp.

No, I don’t think we’re under a Raving Communist Leader. But yes, I think we are being slowly dragged toward The List. So just keep an eye on anything on that list. Observe than any which already exist, when challenged, will be met with vehement counter attack (you, being a ‘counter revolutionary’, need to be assaulted… per the dogma). So no education vouchers. No reduction in National Public Radio and related left wing tax supported communications. No “flat tax”.

Here’s Marx “Short List”:

1) Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2) A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3) Abolition of all right of inheritance.

4) Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5) Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6) Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.

7) Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

8) Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9) Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.

10) Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form and combination of education with industrial production.

Biggest variation of the Fascists from this list were that they saw no need to actually confiscate property if they could get effective control of it. So they simply regulated an industry into submission. Same thing with labor unions. Didn’t need a labor union if you had a ‘labor board’ instead. They were big on public education and land grabs (that for some reason was usually called “soil”…) Clearly they were fond of taking the property of emigrants and rebels… (and added a Nationalist / Racist extreme element).

Progressives tried more of a ‘salami technique’. Just a Tiny Little Emergency Income Tax… now a permanent tax headed for major size. Just a Tiny Little Inheritance Tax… etc. Their biggest “success” being public education, where they have substantially eliminated cultural diversity of education and where conservative and libertarian ideals and economics are essentially banned.

What about Agenda 21? Too early to tell, but they are big on wanting ‘redistribution’ of various means of production and taxes. Have a definite education component. Their idea of an ‘equitable distribution of population’ leaves me wondering… Clearly they are interested in confiscation of lands, but have learned a few bits of finesse from the Progressives. They are strongly “green” (something they share with the Nazi party, that started the whole “green” push).

In Conclusion

This is just a starting point. A ‘marker’, where I can keep checking in to see how much different movements reflect the influence of Marx. One other clear point is that Marx was big on the Class Struggle. There was to be a polarizing of the world into capital owners and wage slaves. That didn’t quite work out, so now we see it recast as “rich nations vs poor” and the same class struggle meme running rampant. That, BTW, was why Stalin said Nazis were “right wing”. Because ANYTHING and EVERYTHING was to the right of Stalin. That the Nazi rejected a GLOBAL Socialism in favor of a National Socialism, meant they rejected the meme of Class Struggle in favor of a national / racial struggle. THE core of Marx. If you have no class struggle of the oppressor vs the oppressed, how can you be Socialists? asked Stalin, and his answer was that you could not be. But Class Struggle was the core of Marx and Communism, not generic European Socialism.

(You see this same Nationalist Racist type of Socialism in many of the Latin countries where folks like Hugo Chavez follow the list above in most ways; but hold up gringos and the USA in particular as the ‘oppressor'; so have a ‘class struggle’ meme too; but with a National bent. “Oppressor, Capitalists, Big Corporations” all are to nationalized or ‘redistributed’. Classic Marx. But tinged with bits of National Socialism.)

So how can that denial of The Class Struggle by Nazis be socialist?

Well, quite simply, really. Instead of confiscation of the banks, you make a Banking Board that tells them what they can and can not do. You mandate they must make home loans to individuals who can not pay them back and punish any who do not agree. You decide who will run General Motors and tell the bond holders that they do NOT get to own the company, the Labor Union will own it. In essence, it doesn’t matter who’s name is on the deed if you set the rules and give the orders. But that kind of failure to confiscate the means of production in The Class Struggle was enough to put them just outside the Communist Pale as they did not embrace the Class Struggle nor confiscation of property (sometimes…)

I’ll be putting up the key points of various flavors of Socialism and Progressives as time permits, then we can do some ‘compare and contrast’. One thing to keep in mind in all this is that the “right / left” labels are very broken. They simply do not recognize that there is an axis of freedom. By definition, the game is rigged to be a choice of which form of Authoritarian do you want. If you choose “freedom and independence please”, you are not even on the map…

“Right Wing” was historically the Authoritarian Monarchies, The Church, and Feudal Lords. “Left Wing” is authoritarian Communism and it’s first cousin Socialism. They try to dress it up with “democratic” and sometimes “Christian”, but it still comes down to the tyranny of the masses by proxy. Where does individual freedom and liberty stand? Well off the line of attack, that “right / left” dodge…. THE group in America that is fastest growing is the “Independent”. Largely as they want small government and individual freedom. Sometimes this is called “fiscal conservative / socially liberal”. That is attempting to push it onto that line.

In reality it is just “Leave me alone, leave them alone too. STOP spending MY money and get out of our homes”. Neither end of the Authoritarian Line will do….

Back Story

For a bit on how the word “liberal” has been polluted in common American use:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/i-am-a-liberal/

A tiny bit on Fascism:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/liberal-fascism/

What did the Fascists think they were:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/fascist-doctrine/

Some other quotes:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/some-quotes-on-socialism-and-fascism/

Specific to the National Socialist German Workers Party:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/nationalist-socialists/

The Progressives in America loved Mussolini right up until he got into bed with the Nazis (a bit against his own will, BTW). He was lauded and praised and even had a part in a Hollywood Movie (got to get a copy of that some day ;-) His policies were held in high regard as a “Third Way” and the US Progressives were quite in favor of Fascism. The Eugenics of the Nazi has a parallel in the USA as well. You will find much of this history swept under rugs, as the Progressives / AsoLiberals (see the link) / Democrats / whatever new name they try to hide under; would all like to hide and forget it. The Republicans too had their “Progressives” (Nixon was one).

Yet look at the list of what they want. Compare it to the list above and to the Nazi goals. Look at what Mussolini did. Look at what they do. Patterns tell the tail. Fascist comes from the Italian word for “bundle” and was used to mean labor union. ALL of these movements try to appeal to the “worker” in one way or another and bend private property to public control. None of them respect individual property rights, individual liberties, and individual freedoms.

If you would be free, step off the “right / left” line of attack… avoid the “collective” … and just say NO to big government. Don’t accept the “candy” from strangers.

Free people do not need big governments. Very small ones will do just fine.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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109 Responses to Marx, Progressives, Socialism, and Agenda 21

  1. adolfogiurfa says:

    Dear E.M.:

    As we, in latin America, have lived such socialist/communist revolutions, we already know what their REAL end purposes are:
    First, and foremost: To decapitate LOCAL aristocracies from their property:
    This has been done through “LAND REFORM”. One example: Land reform made by the US in Italy after invasion.
    Land reform was promoted by the USIS through a pamphlet named “Land Reform”-with a light blue soft cover-, in special during John Kennedy´s government.
    In those times it was coined the phrase: “El patrón ya no comerá más de tu pobreza” (The landlord won´t feed anymore from your poverty)…

    “They” succeeded, and in those times, we thought we would never see again land properties bigger than 250 hectares (about 617.76 acres)….however this was not this way. Of course we did not see anymore land properties owned by the former and local landlords. What do we find NOW?: properties up to 40,000 hectares (98841.74 acres) but owned by untraceable corporations…which if you dig into them you will find the same and old speculative banking elite.

    To summarize: All “revolutions”, beginning with the secularizing French Revolution were made having in sight P&P: Power and Profit. That´s OK I would say, but not if business will be the sole right of an ultra small “elite” once “working” in N.Y. and now having moved to Shanghai.
    No, because it is abnormal, it is insane, a symptom of mental illness, for one individual to have way far more than necessary for survival and an ultra comfortable life, which I think it is OK…but to own billions of dollars of euros?(worst if not from work but from speculation/”ponzi schemes”) and not only that but trying to establish a kind of undeserved “Royalty”which is passed from generation to generation to their inheritors, suffering from the same illness, historically first observed by Abraham, when descending from the mount Tabor carrying the ten commandments, found his people worshiping the “Golden Calf”
    Everything in the just measure is the way of ethics and sanity; anything different is unethical and insane.
    Thus sane capitalism is right. The works of the people to raise and keep their families, the just labour of you and me and of our neighbors, the interchanging of goods, sane wealth, self limited by reason and morality.

  2. j ferguson says:

    E.M. and all,
    One of the things I’ve been tossing around lately is the idea that “liberty” is a quantum and that the total might be constant or if not constant vary over long periods. The nub of the thing would be that the power to infringe moves from being distributed to being concentrated (in governments) but the total doesn’t change much. It’s landlords or the gestapo. Sicx of one, a half dozen of the other.

    The attraction of landlords might be that one can imagine himself a landlord, being a government might be a bit more challenging.

    One of the frustrating aspects of blogging is that something I think is worth considering will be quickly shown to have been intrinsic to the efforts of someone i never heard of or if I did, never read – can’t read everything – and there is an entire school of thought directed to the subject – and it’s a baloney idea.

    It’s funny how wiki, and access to the many well-read denizens of my favorite blogs has made me realize how much I used to make my way in the world by having read widely (and remembered the stuff), and seldom running into anyone in my circle who had read the same things. Now, they abound, and I can be quickly disavowed of things I might have gone on for years with.

    A dinner with two Germans on our cruise down the Mekong to Luang Prabang in November revealed that one of them was convinced that a reason why our Iraq adventure was misguided was that we had caused the downfall of a competent government (Sadam’s) which had maintained peace and prosperity and a place where you were safe on the streets after dark, and replaced it with one which so far wasn’t able to provide these comforts.

  3. adolfogiurfa says:

    @j ferguson :
    The key is “common sense”: Common sense tells me if my private business grows far beyond that is needed to cover my personal needs, it will reach a point where it no longer provides me personal freedom and tranquility and I will be really working for my clients, employees and, worst, for the bankers.
    We tend to think linearly, however, reality does not work that way but in a wavy manner: It goes up and down, so we must see those “critical points” and not going beyond our reach.
    Then, what would it be the role of the obviously needed by society ruler/rulers?. That of an administrator, a manager hired by society, doing a job which implies working for the welfare of the people.
    The ideal ruler/rulers should be chosen among those who we recognize as being more enlightened and morally endowed than us.

  4. @adolfogiurfa:
    I am troubled by the notion that a government can decide, as you suggest, that a person has too much wealth — that it is is insane “for one individual to have way far more than necessary.” As President Obama put it in the US, “At some point, you’ve made enough money.”

    I disagree with that premise. If an individual or company makes large amounts of money legitimately, they are welcome to it in my opinion. All you are doing is creating, instead, a government that is insane and that possesses “way far more than necessary.”

    But there IS corruption in the world, from countries in South America, Asia, Africa, all over the world — including the US, though we are not as badly afflicted. This corruption generally involves huge amounts of money and individuals and companies with the sort of wealth you decry.

    This corruption has cost people their freedom to various degrees, and it is the source of the misery that plagues billions in the world today … inflicted upon them by their governments in the name of taking away wealth from those who have “too much.”

    What’s the solution to that corruption? Is it merely getting rid of the wealth that you deem is too much, and thus making sure that no one has the freedom and power to become corrupt?

    No. And I think that this reflects a misapprehension of the source of the corruption. Wealth is not inherently bad. Corruption is, and arises when government can be influenced to distort or eliminate the free market.

    We’ve seen how it works: Despots accumulate huge wealth from their victims/subjects at the point of a gun, and dispense favors to their friends who happen to please them. The free market, if it exists at all, is merely the portion that these autocrats haven’t yet chosen to step on. People are free only to the extent that they haven’t come to the government’s “attention.”

    And even those of great wealth know that it is ephemeral, and could be lost on any day that they happen to fall from favor. The government could decide that it is “insane” for them to have “way far more than necessary” — and give it as a favor to someone else they suddenly like more.

    This is a case of too much power, and in entirely the wrong area.

    Instead, the original US solution would be worth putting in place again. Restrict the government to certain carefully limited duties, with checks and balances in place, and never let the government have control over the free market. If you eliminate that control, there is nothing for a potential corrupter to “buy” from a compliant government.

    If bribing an official can’t change the business rules in your favor, such bribes will go away. Then, the free market can continue to drive tremendous prosperity, for all countries and peoples in the world that follow this example.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  5. Pingback: Too Much Wealth? « DeHavelle.com

  6. The Plenarchist says:

    “Free people do not need big governments. Very small ones will do just fine.”

    If you want sustainable freedom, the only real solution is no government at all. Any authority having the power to preemptively intervene in the affairs of the people will inevitably grow and become corrupted; doesn’t matter how small it starts out. The key to creating a sustainable free society is to abolish the political class, the real 1%, by creating a wall of separation between the statists and the state.

  7. Thank you, E.M., for the posting.

    I understand little or nothing about economics or politics, but I know the US government started promoting false information about the origin, composition and source of energy of the Sun after ~1971.

    After 2000 and the Climategate emails on 2009, I realized that governments were promoting false information about the Sun – Earth’s heat source – in order to promote the false illusion that a minor component in the insulating blanket that surrounds and protects us – CO2 in the atmosphere – causes global warming.

    That is absolute hogwash ! Earth’s heat source is the unstable remains of a supernova that gave birth to the solar system five billion years (5 Gyr) ago.

    Government research agencies – like NASA, DOE, NFS, EPA, etc – and major universities – like Washington University, Harvard, Chicago, Cal Tech, Bern, etc – have manipulated and hidden data for decades that showed a single supernova gave birth to the Solar System and the Sun formed on the remains of the supernova.

    This paper in press shows some of the experimental observations that have been hidden, ignored or manipulated since 1971:

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1102/1102.1499.pdf

    Two weeks ago NASA announced that it is giving $1.4 million to Washington University to see if silicon carbide (SiC) grains in meteorites formed directly from supernova debris.

    That is an intriguing development: Measurements made on SiC grains at Washington University already showed that the grains formed directly from a supernova explosion and resembled the “fall-out” grains collected after nuclear explosions here on Earth:

    https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/Public/NASA_finally_asks.pdf?w=334d37e3

    President Eisenhower warned in 1961 that manipulation of government science by a “scientific-technological elite” posed a serious danger to our form of government.

    By remarkable coincidence, my research career (1960-2011) managed to capture a “birds-eye view” of growing deception in sciences and changes in the US Government:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/Summary_of_Career.pdf

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

    http://myprofile.cos.com/manuelo09

  8. Pascvaks says:

    Cigerettes and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women… things that were once (and maybe still are) blamed for the fall of mankind. But, think about it, are they the cause or the means of downfall? Aren’t all those falling mankind folks inclinded to fall anyway? OK, ’nuff o’that, on to political curruption and the downfall of Empires and the curruption of Umpires.

    Socialism and all its cousins are nothing but a means to an end. Like cigerettes and whiskey and wild, wild women they are not inherrently evil. Right!?! Right! They can be pretty good vehicles bad people use to get more of what they want from everybody else. Capitalism is another “system” that can do the same thing. There’s greedy folks everywhere everywhen, how many are walking the streets depends more on parents than judges.

    What made 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st Century America (or any where else) different? It wasn’t the system. It was the people.

    What made the people so different? Hummmm.. that’s where things get complicated. It wasn’t the government. It was parents and it was a lot of little things like morals, faith, integirty, common courtesy, respect for the kinder, gentler gender, honor, fear of G_d, and a few hundred other things that governments and political and economic philosophy don’t even try to address.

    Why can’t we have the kind’a country we used to have? Cause the people can’t and won’t allow or abide it. The root of all evil is people. Cutthroat capitalism can be as bad or worse than communism. It all depends on the mix of people you have to work with and how they’re made and what their values are.

    Got a real bad feeling that the good old USofA is going down hill fast, and personally, I don’t blame the system, I blame the quality of the people we got, the way they’ve been reared, the moral fiber of the whole bloody lot.

    Four years ago a number of US thought to ourselves, “oh hell, if 99% of the blacks want this guy, let ‘em have him as the first Black President; he can’t be any worse than Jimmah”. That’s the kind of thinking that wouldn’t have gone too far a’tall in the 18th, 19th, and first half of the 20th centuries; but low and behold, it and a bunch more spineless logic and situation ethics works just fine today.

    Where’s the USofA going? How fast? When? Look no further than the character and lifestyle of the children. It’s their world tomorrow. Just as it was our’s today.

    PS: Political thought-experiment: if Americans “really” wanted to change the direction that the country is headed, would they vote to reelect Obama, elect Newt/Michele/Mitt/Perry, or elect someone like Ron who’s likely to cause a lot of turmoil and upset a lot of apple carts and make our bloodsucking “friends” get up off their fat lazy backsides?

    PPS: All empires die from the inside out.

  9. Pascvaks says:

    O/T – The World is Always at War

    Looks like the next Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, Iron Curtin, will be soon in the vicinity of the Straits of Horschmooze. Maybe someone will blow up a US Carrier and the dominos will fall everywhere once again.

    http://news.yahoo.com/iran-warns-closing-strategic-hormuz-oil-route-144219762.html

  10. xyzlatin says:

    Excellent post Chief. The same creeping controls are happening here in Australia also. Local governments are as controlling of liberty as the state and federal ones. I was recently threatened with a $100,000 fine if I did not run a downpipe from my water tank uphill to the street where none of the neighbouring houses had any outlets either (because water doesn’t run uphill).
    I am looking forward to seeing you analysing the Islam economic and military system for conquering nations from within or without. The most successful system in history for enslaving people.

  11. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Keith DeHavelle (16:00:45) :
    I did not say that. I said we must realize, enlightened by common sense, not to go beyond that “critical point” where I lose my individual freedom to be one slave more of my own business.

  12. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Oliver K.Manuel: Don´t worry about Big Brother and their third order devils around him: All are atheists (as a clever, intelligent person is supposed to be) and so they totally ignore that who really commands is Big Father (not the godfather but more powerful), and HE established general laws which can not be changed even by Himself. (as something as simple as 2+2=4 could not be changed)
    As a french philosopher said long time ago: “A little of science takes you away from God, a lot of science takes you closer to Him”

  13. @AdofoGiurfa:

    The key is “common sense”: Common sense tells me if my private business grows far beyond that is needed to cover my personal needs, it will reach a point where it no longer provides me personal freedom and tranquility and I will be really working for my clients, employees and, worst, for the bankers.

    This was the comment I was responding to. You propose placing a limit on the size of private business, based on the “common sense” notion that allowing a business to grow large is bad.

    I still take issue with this. A government able to make that decision, i.e., how much is “too large,” is a government susceptible to exactly the sort of corruption that is the real root of the problem, it seems to me. Thus, I am critical of your “critical point”: Who decides?

    I think we agree on the undesirability of corruption, but differ only on how it comes into being.

    This article is quite excellent, and documents the tremendous rise of this corruption issue in the US since 2008. I saw it since writing the post here earlier, but it makes a similar point: that when a government controls markets, it can distort things for its friends — for a price.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/286704/repo-men-kevin-d-williamson?pg=1

    The article is very worthwhile, and more than a little troubling. And it is long, and peels back a layer at a time to unsettling effect.

    The writer does not address the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac issues. A lot has been written about them, including a new government lawsuit that names six of the officers. But the buying of favors — of politician, really — comes at the cost of our ultimate freedom.

    Governments can always dispense favors, appointing people that those in charge find desirable. Thomas Jefferson complained about this in the 18th century (see, for example, the Midnight Judges), and it has been part of all governments.

    In the current administration, this corruption has “necessarily skyrocketed” as Obama might say. His administration is routing billions to its friends and bending the rules of the “free” market toward its desired winners, at rates dwarfing anything that has gone before. This is not to excuse past corruption; the issue here is the brass scale of it.

    If government could not dispense such favors, because it was not placed in control of the free market and could not dole out billions to friends, corruption could go back to being a relatively less consequential issue. And it could then be fought with information, instead of battling billion-dollar ad campaigns and media backing as is currently the case.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  14. We have the technology to determine if the core of the Sun is

    a.) A stable H-fusion reactor “in equilibrium,” as consensus scientists and politicians like Al Gore and the UN’s IPCC claim, or

    b.) A pulsar – the unstable remains of the supernova that gave birth to the Solar System – as experimental observations have suggested since 1972!

    That technology is being used now to study the Moon:

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-nasa-twin-spacecraft-grail-approach.html

    And I became very impatiently, although I also know that the SSM model of the Sun was too entrenched in the scientific community to be dislodged by observations until world leaders selected it as the cornerstone of the AGW model of Earth’s climate.

    Best wishes for the New Year!

  15. tckev says:

    Thanks E.M.
    Yet again you’ve stirred my thinking as I listen to the news.
    The reporter tells how the crying masses of North Korea are controlled and corralled to a funeral of the Great (Fraudulent) Leader, and KIM Jong Un, the next Great Fraud in waiting looks on…
    Remember that when the lines were drawn at the end of the Korean conflict the north was the richer state. Russia and China assisted the North in installing a one party Communist state only to fall out of favor later when they refused to toe their masters line.
    While America helped rebuild the mainly homeless and starving South.
    Today the results are obvious.

    And then Syria. Reporters tell me Arab League monitors overseeing compliance with a peace plan amid continuing government violence…
    Note
    The Syrian government is made up of National Progressive Front or NPF (includes Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba’th) Party; Socialist Unionist Democratic Party; Syrian Arab Socialist Union or ASU; Syrian Communist Party (two branches) 1. Syrian Social Nationalist Party and 2.Unionist Socialist Party.
    IMO Communist/Socialist and Nationalist always make such a nasty mix!

    With both I see what is wrong with BIG government.
    Both have Governments that removes from the ordinary people the hopes and responsibility to determine their own future. BIG governments that removes from the business infrastructure any ability to choose their future direction other than following the dictates of Government cronies.

    All this in the same year in when Arabs states have relinquished BIG corrupt governments in the hope that something better can be made (and I wish them luck).

  16. kuhnkat says:

    One of those little issues that continues to amaze me is the size of gubmint desired by the leftards. They cry they want a stop to wars. Small gubmint cannot afford to be in one war much less several at a time. Small gubmint cannot support hand outs to Industry or individuals. Why do leftards always vote in those demanding BIGGER gubmint if they don’t want wars?!?!?!

  17. kuhnkat says:

    tckev,

    a Democracy will often give the country the gubmint they THINK they want. The Arab countries having revolts are large majority Muslim. After Palestine voted in Hamas because they swore to wipe out Israel and be strict Islamic I would have thought people would have understood that Muslim countries WANT Shariah and a return to the Caliphate they are taught is the only way to be right with Allah!!

    We already are seeing what that will bring to the Middle East. WAR!! Iran will continue to push for control to destroy Israel. It is mainly Shia. Saudi Arabia and other countries are Sunni and very distrustful of Iran and its drive for nukes. Saudi Arabia is already talking about its own nukes.

    The losers are the people as usual. Sadly they are trained in the Mosques to follow their Islamic leaders on both the Sunni and Shia side. it will be ugly. No telling how much of the rest of the world will be involved. If Iran gets their Nuke and attacks Israel Saudi Arabia will stand back and allow Israel to decimate Iran leaving them a clear field to become the Caliphate by continuing its Wahabbist expansion in the US and elsewhere.

    If Iran is prevented from building a nuke it will be similar to the US/USSR cold war with the two groups vying to control country after country as is currently happening in ever more violent activity. With the direction Europe and North America is going destroying ourselves and not wanting to be involved we will allow it. Then comes China. Yeah, it will get ugly.

  18. George says:

    Read Tyndall Working Paper 23. You can find it on the web.

    Tell me that isn’t a global socialist agenda full of Marxist buzzwords.

    Actually, here’s the link:

    http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/sites/default/files/wp23.pdf

    It is also mentioned in 4687.txt

  19. gallopingcamel says:

    The Communist Manifesto can be compared to the US Constitution in its power and brevity.

    It may be instructive to ask how Communist are we? My assessment of the United Kingdom (the land of my birth) is 60% Communist.

    Here is my assessment of the USA:
    1. Abolition of private property = 2 (out of 10)
    2. Progressive income tax = 8
    3. Elimination of inheritance = 5
    4. Confiscation of emigrants property = 0
    5. Banks owned/controlled by the state = 7
    6. Communications controlled by the state = 4
    7. Means of production controlled by state = 2
    8. Industrial armies = 2
    9. Blending town and country = 2
    10. Public education = 9

    Thus in my view the USA has progressed 41% on the path to Communism. What changes would I recommend? I would start with the high numbers:

    Item 3. Eliminate income tax entirely and failing that implement a “Flat Tax”.

    Item 5. Abolish all banking QANGOs (Quasi Autonomous National Government Organizations). Start with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and work your way down to the bottom of the pile. The government should set the rules of the banking game and then use the courts to implement them. Once the government becomes a “Player” it can’t be an honest “Referee” so scandal and corruption get out of control.

    Item 10. I support Marx’s views on the child labor laws that existed in 1847; my goal would be a “5” here. That would be achieved by eliminating the federal Department of Education and equivalent bodies at state level (e.g. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction). Schools should be managed by locally elected boards as in New Zealand (see “Tomorrow’s Schools” legislation, 1989).

    These actions would reduce the USA’s score to 22% Communist. The result would be a sharp boost to freedom and prosperity.

    I also forgot to mention that the local school board members should be UNPAID. I have served for no pay on six school boards; nobody should be in it for the money. It was a huge shock to find school board members in Brevard county (Florida) being paid $20,000 per year!

  20. tckev says:

    @kuhnkat
    Thanks for the comments but that was not where I was heading. My main argument is that here are 2 different regimes, one a communist single party dictatorship in the Stalin mold, the other National Socialist dictatorship similar to the Nazi party of Germany.

    Comparing these states to the newly freed Arab states. These places have unshackled themselves from oppressive governments and I do not believe that these new states need or want to become part of a Greater Caliphate.
    As I’ve worked and lived in that region (all-be-it some 17+ years ago) and my impression was that everyone understood that the governments were corrupt, government officials were heavy-handed, and nearly all educated young men were unemployed. Imported workers (and I was one) did all the real work. I believed then that it was a powder-keg that just needed the right spark.
    From the few good friends I made over there my understanding of what they wanted was not that different from what Americans used to want – small honest government, law enforcement that’s local and accountable, freedom to make your fortune, education for local and national need.
    From my experience the Iranian Government is not good friends with many in the region, and certainly do not command a model government that other Arabs wish to follow.
    Saudi has to pay a lot for friendship. Few people outside the kingdom really like them – after all, the great destabilizer Bin Laden was a Saudi.
    Yes there are ructions between Sunni and Shia but this, IMO, is stirred up by Iran and Saudi rebels.
    The ruling sect in Saudi are the Wahhabi, and I agree they are the big problem for the West.

  21. R. de Haan says:

    Just vote for Ron Paul and your wishes will come true.

  22. Pascvaks says:

    @ tckev
    “The ruling sect in Saudi are the Wahhabi”

    Would you agree that the ruling sect, party, etc. merely represents the power center of a country and that they can only be truly offset by an equal power center. Revolutions and civil wars are very similar and require two to tango effectively, if one side is simply a gaggle of fed up flower peddlers, they can topple, they can destroy, and they can turn on anyone who would replace the old mob and destroy them, but it is Chaos, not war. The big question is, are the new guys capable of working together in a common direction for a common cause? The ‘comon cause’ of the Arab Spring movements seems to be one of default to Muslim Common Law (Shria) and it is very open to interpretation depending on which sect you are. There is not even one common Arab philosophy on politics that is not an import from the Infidel West. No one I’ve heard is peaking of Arab PoliSci 101X, or 407Y, or 633Z. It’s now just a madhouse ruled by the inmates, it’s the French Reign of Terror a’la Arabesque. (Which, because it is so primevil in origin, the French only get credit for making the latest real mess of and the Arabs are more than willing to have a go at in their frenzy.)

    People are crazy. It doesn’t matter which world they’re from on this planet. They’re all crazy. To have a Real Revolution or Civil War you actually need to have battles between equals, anything else is just a Happening, and it usually ends up hurting a lot of people and creating nothing new or very different in the long run.

    I tend to think that the Wahhabi are the Saudis and the Saudis are the Wahhabi, and until something equal and different comes along inside Arabia, that’s just the way it is. I don’t think they’re a problem to The West, because I guess I can’t relate to them. Should I? Maybe. Will I? Doubtful. As long as someone else is keeping them in their world and out of mine, why should I worry? Right? (SarcOff;-)

  23. adolfogiurfa says:

    Who´s in the revolutions´business? :-)
    Are/were they good businesses (of course not taking into account “collateral damage”)?

  24. tckev says:

    @Pascvaks
    I couldn’t say it better.

    IMHO the Arabic region’s turmoil will ensure that we will live in interesting times.

  25. adolfogiurfa says:

    @tckev:….but we already have a filled up agenda of interesting issues!, beginning with the new Solar Minimum, etc.,etc.
    Buy more pop-corn!

  26. Pascvaks says:

    Old saying, “After the first real battle in every war, those who fought and live to fight another day, just want the whole damn thing to be over now; fortunately for their country, most, usually, later, stop thinking and wanting so much, and just try to forget.”

    Normal people don’t love or even like war a little bit and they’ll usually settle out of court if given the opportunity, especially if they think they’re not personally and heavily “invested” in the outcome. Heck, most normal ‘straphangers’ and ‘anti-war demonstrators’ will even let the bad guys back in if they agree to cross their hearts and spit and swear they won’t hurt anybody, especially Numero Uno. Normal people can be real flexible and usually don’t fight in wars. They tend to be very responsible for starting them, by act or omission, but then try to wash their hands of it all as soon as the bombs start falling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with normal people, after all it’s just their nature. Fortunately or unfortunately, for normal people, there are sheepdogs as well as wolves in all the worlds of planet Earth. Unfortunately for the sheep and sheepdogs, there are also Judas Goats that they all actually elect and who lead them all to the slaughter. Ain’t life a beach?

  27. Jason Calley says:

    As has been pointed out (but is worth repeating) the real division is not that between socialists, fascists, left wing, and right wing. The real division is between collectivists and individuals. Any form of government which metastasizes into a government which wants to micromanage and control every little detail is, almost by definition, a tyranny. It does not matter whether it starts as a communist paradise or a republic of free men. Once it begins to place the collective in a higher regard than the individual, it is a danger.

    http://lewrockwell.com/napolitano/napolitano34.1.html

    “The centralization of decision-making amplifies the effects of poor decisions while disincentivizing prudent ones. Unlike an individual or a well-run corporation, government is not motivated by how efficient it can be, but rather by how lucrative it can be for those associated with it, and how those who run the government can stay in power.”

  28. George says:

    “The real division is between collectivists and individuals. ”

    I agree. There is nothing sustainable about collectivism yet they see their way as most sustainable. I think it appeals to “control freaks” who like a micro-managed future and are scared to death of the “invisible hand” as Adam Smith put it.

  29. Jason & George,
    How true. I think our views may overlap when it comes to the role of government:

    http://www.gallopingcamel.info/AynRand.htm

  30. Mark says:

    @George:

    That is very true, but it’s broader than that. I read this passage in David Horowitz’s book, “Radical Son.” His mother and father were both Marxists, and became Soviet agents in America after the Bolshevik revolution. They both also joined the Democratic Party, and called themselves “progressives” as a cover for their true inclinations. The name preceded their time. Quoting from Horowitz’s book:

    “My mother is now the last survivor of everyone who preceded me. Past eighty and no longer coherent beyond a sentence or two, she has developed her own mantra to answer the questions for which she has no answer: Life is a mystery. I expressed this thought to my father once, when I was a college student encountering mysticism for the first time. He was a Marxist, and apparently could not face the possibility that life might be a puzzle without a solution. The words sent him into a rage, like a pious man confronted by blasphemy. Having embraced the truth of Marxism, he was convinced he had discovered the key to life’s important questions, and did not want his son to throw it away.

    Political utopians like my father had a master plan. They were going to transform the world from the chaos we knew into a comfortable and friendly place. In the happy future they dreamed about, there would be an end to grief from life out of control, life grinding you down and smashing your gut when you expected it least. Human cruelty would go out of style and become a memory in the museum of historical antiquities. In my father’s paradise there would be no strangers. No one who felt like an outsider, alienated from others and at odds with themselves.”

  31. Mark says:

    It’s been interesting looking at what communists who are “out of the closet” say about the history of communism. When I’ve tried to talk to them about where communism goes, they say that’s a misrepresentation of what Marx said, and that what’s been tried in the Soviet Union, etc. has just been elitists who want control. This is another version of, “Communism hasn’t really been tried,” which is something I’ve heard for ages. What they say is that what Marx advocated was a bottom-up approach of local communities of workers taking over the means of production. It doesn’t come top-down from the government. The thing is, for that to realistically happen, the government has to get involved, or at least cooperate with such movements. It doesn’t work otherwise. My point has been that I’m not talking about what Marx said. I’m saying, “This is what happens each time what you’re talking about has been tried!” They don’t see that. They think, “This is the way it’s supposed to work out, and if it doesn’t, then the effort was illegitimate. We just have to try again, and get it right the next time,” which brings to mind that saying about insanity. What frustrates me about it is that communists who know better get away with this idea they promote that failure is a sign of “illegitimacy” of the effort, and the people involved, not of the cause. The cause is just, and so they rope people into “trying it again.” Never mind that they were part and parcel of that effort that was “illegitimate.” It’s reminiscent of what I’ve heard about fabian socialists just recently. They have this belief that if something isn’t working, then it means the resources put into the effort are not enough. They need more. That’s exactly what we hear from the teachers union all the time. The reason education is failing is there isn’t enough money in it, and more might do the trick. Never is the question asked whether if the way public education is organized, or the very idea of it, is a good idea to begin with.

    The closest analog I can think of for the bottom-up organization that the communists advocate for taking over the means of production is the organization formerly known as Acorn, which is a private organization that carries out the model of community organizing. Though they haven’t taken over the means of production, it’s more along the lines of the fascist model of taking over by default. They don’t own the business (I’m referring specifically to the banking industry), but they know they can bend it to their will anytime they want. This was enabled by the Community Reinvestment Act signed by President Carter in the late 70s, and then by the Dodd-Frank bill signed into law last year. Medicare was the government’s way of socializing the health care industry, which it has done. More than half of all health care is now insured and managed by the federal government. The Community Reinvestment Act was just the opening act in socializing the banking industry, which was a major contributor to the financial collapse of ’08. Dodd-Frank is the next step in that program, though passed under the guise of “preventing this from happening again.” No. It’ll just allow socialism to spread into industries of all sorts…

    What I’ve been discovering little by little is that progressives have not only socialized institutions, private and public, through government, they’ve also taken actions in private efforts to bring about aspects of state socialism. The largest and earliest example of this was Edward Bernays, who invented the field of public relations. What inspired its creation was this idea he had that he could privatize propaganda in peace time. He believed that he could manipulate masses of people politically through advertising. He did a very good job of it, too. It wasn’t that he was promoting one party or another. He was promoting a vision for the country, one where your every desire was satisfied, but your satisfaction depended on a provider to give it to you, and following their direction. You, the consumer, are passive, until you are prompted by an organization to take an action that will make you feel fulfilled. It’s a fundamentally elitist, top-down framework, and the greatest popularizer of it was television, and the Big 3 networks that had an oligopoly on the medium for decades. We now have a large population of people, trained through such marketing to respond to this form of messaging. BTW, marketers understand education in the sense of training people to an epistemology a LOT better than many educators do!

    Democrats have tended to be better at using PR, with some exceptions. Republicans have generally been inept at it. Of all the Republicans I can think of, I think only Reagan used PR effectively. Personally I think this is how Obama got elected. So many people loved what he said, and were so excited for him, but they couldn’t attribute a single accomplishment to him. Obama successfully used PR methods during his first year in office to push through what he wanted, but his efforts began to lose their charm after that. The one thing that tends to weaken the uplifting aspects of PR is a bad economy, though the negative/fear aspects of it can be used quite effectively, as I think we’re starting to see, and will continue to see into next year. Remember that FDR was re-elected 3 times despite his policies creating a terrible economy for most of his time in office. The fundamental bet Obama has made is that actual accomplishments, from the perspective of voters, don’t matter that much. What matters is what people believe at any moment in time. I don’t know this, but I think the Democratic Party has figured that most voters actually prefer this arrangement. The public doesn’t keep track of what’s going on. They are confused by explanations of what’s really happening, especially if the results appear to be negative at first blush, because they’re too distracted. Establish a clear narrative in people’s minds that favors the Democrats and satisfactorily explains to the public what they think they see, and they’ve got them in their pocket. If they fail to do that, then the Republicans have a shot, though I see that as only marginally better for the country at this point.

    ICLEI is another interesting attempt at privatizing an aspect of socialism, implementing Agenda 21, according to some. It’s a big project promoted by the UN. ICLEI is a private non-profit, as are all of the redevelopment organizations that coordinate with it, and the effort is national. In addition there are private non-profits that promote the “sustainable” agenda for schools. From what I’ve heard, the effort is not being run by the federal government, though it has provided funding to it from time to time. Instead it’s being spearheaded by the UN itself, through ICLEI. The only way in which it emerges into the public sphere is through municipal governments who have acceded to ICLEI’s influence.

  32. gallopingcamel says:

    Mark,

    That old saw “Communism hasn’t really been tried,” and its close relative “it would work with the right people in charge” will be used over and over again to justify attempts to create socialist Utopias.

    Even though socialism has always degenerated into misery and tyranny there is no lack of academics convinced they know how to make it work.

  33. david says:

    Gallopingcamel
    Mark,

    “That old saw “Communism hasn’t really been tried,” and its close relative “it would work with the right people in charge” will be used over and over again to justify attempts to create socialist Utopias.

    Even though socialism has always degenerated into misery and tyranny there is no lack of academics convinced they know how to make it work.”

    Good comments all, and good food for political philosophy. If any of you find a copy of “The Mythopoetic origins of Marxism,{ you will find it well worth the read. (Warning, heavy academic writing)

    My own thoughts have led me to the conclusion that statist are very confused about the inherent nature of humanity; both the postive and the negative aspects. They fail to realise that virtue and vice operate within ANY system, and all systems succeed or fail based on inherent qualties of those individuals within the system. You cannot create selflessness by taking from another by force, you can only create inharmony. Power is something all humans desire, and money is a form of power. The “progressive” misunderstanding of selfish desire as “greed” is a classic example.

    In “Science of Religion” Paramahansa Yogananda stated that there is an inescapable form of selfish desire in the actions of all men towards a specific goal which involves the removal of pain and suffering, and the attainment of lasting happiness. “Someone may say I do not care anything about pleasure or happiness. I live life to accomplish something, to achieve success.” Another says : I want to do good in the world, I do not care weather I am in pain or not.” But if you look into the minds of these people, you will find the same working toward the goal of happiness. Does the first man want a success that has in it’s achievement no pleasure or happiness? Does the second want to do good to others, yet himself get no happiness in doing it? Obviously not. They may not mind a thousand and one physical pains or mental sufferings inflicted by others, or arising out of situations incidental to the pursuit of success or the doing of good to others; but because the one finds great satisfaction in success, and the other intensely enjoys the happiness of doing good to others’ the former seeks success, and the ladder seeks others good, in spite of incidental troubles.
    Even the most altruistic motive and the sincerest intention of advancing the good of humanity, for its own sake, have sprung from the basic urge for a chastened personal happiness approaching bliss.”

    And so the desire for personal gain is neither immoral or avoidable, it is inherent within human nature. (The founding fathers of the US well understood this, as well as the fact that the primary corruption or evil of power was not in desiring something for one self, but in desiring to dictate and domineer others to attain what one desired. This lead to the clear understanding that Goverment was a necessary evil)

    Max Weber (a Lennin contemporary) is an example of a progressive who personified an absence of understanding of selfish desire. He considered that it was the “Protestant work ethic“, which, when fused with capitalism became corrupted by selfishness. The truth is somewhat different. Capitalism is in many respects fundamentally honest, and a reflection Yogananda’s wisdom stated above. It is an admittance that personal gain is never absent, even in the most altruistic, and so capitalism makes no pretense of removing personal gain. It also makes no moral judgment of personal gain being necessarily bad. It is a neutral admittance that desire for personal gain exists, and cannot be legislated away.

    Social systems that vainly seek to legislate selflessness only condense the personal gain aspect into the most powerful people within the government, (a point E,M, has made more then once) and in removing liberty and personal power from the common man, engender helplessness in the masses, Reducing the individual to a “Borg” like collective, they disenchant the individual and destroy the productive energy of a society. The Unites States recognition of the right to seek self gain, (capitalism) combined with the fact that we are a “republic” guaranteeing freedom from tyranny of other groups or from the tyranny of the majority or any minority, be it religious, political, corporate, or a combination thereof, is highly moral.

    The love of power for the purpose of subjugating others for one’s own end cannot be removed by any system. It just operates less effectively within a system built expressly for protection from such tyranny. The responsibility of the US form of government is to prevent the formation of such tyrannies: Corporate monopolies that unfairly drive out competition, lobby groups looking for special privileges, banking methods that rig the monetary system and allow leverage of assets tantamount to gambling, fractional reserve banking on steroids, government decisions making risk public but profit private, government sponsored enterprises that, under direct supervision of government regulators, do all of the above, are not caused by a capitalist / republic, but are a sick perversion of it caused by the love of power over others, and lack of wisdom. It is the failure of the US government to police the above which is dereliction of their primary responsibility, the protection of individual freedom and power from the tyranny of those with group power.

    No form of government can be free from intrinsic ignorance, but the evaluation of all systems should be based on their ability to resist the corruptions power reveal. Since WWII the US has been the most powerful nation on this planet. Despite its flaws, the US has demonstrated a greater resistance to exerting tyranny over others then any other nation, RELATIVE to the power possessed. Remember that if power REVEALS corruption, the US has passed this test better then any other nation. Many on the left often repeat the mantra, “live and let live,“ but remain ignorant of the danger of the system they wish to implement which is inherently duplicit to this maxim. The US system is the best “live and let live” system, specifically due to its republic / capitalist system, and within any society, but particularly a large non-homogenous society, this has many advantages. The “let live” part is easily forgotten in socialism, and both the “let live” and the “live” part are discarded in the murderous tyranny of communism / fascism statist systems.

    My fear is that the rest of the world does not even begin to understand the above political philosaphy, and that internally fewer and fewer US citizens are educated to understand the US experiment of liberty.

  34. adolfogiurfa says:

    There are two kinds of pro collectivists: The ones who need the protection of the herd and so like being part of any herd, and those who like herds, in special well fed ones, to take them to the slaughterhouse. :-)

  35. Mark says:

    @david, adolfogiurfa:

    The fundamental conceit of socialist systems is the idea that there are wise people who “have evolved to something above the herd”/supermen who can manage everything in society so that everything runs smoothly. My impression is in the non-democratic, statist forms of it, politics is supposed to disappear. There aren’t supposed to be any arguments about what the government should do, because the government knows what’s best for everyone. In the democratic socialism of Europe, there are elections that usually address very little. The elites really run the governments.

    The progressives have the same view, I’ve come to find. The conservative critique of progressivism is it divides the government and the governed into two groups of “farmers/ranchers” and “animals,” and their job is to manage the “animals,” to take care of them, and if necessary use them for the betterment of the farm. Both groups are human, but they see themselves as being the higher order species. What they do not choose to see is that they have the same faults as every other human. They have not transcended human nature.

    There is also a sense of unity with them. If anyone wants to get a good whiff of what progressives are about, watch the annual Campaign for America’s Future conferences they hold. They’re broadcast on C-SPAN. I remember one of their speakers talked about how “The Republicans (or conservatives) try to divide us, but we will not be divided.” I realized what she was talking about was how conservatives look at Americans as individuals, with individual rights and responsibilities, not as members of groups who need to be treated special. She saw that as a bad thing, that it took away people’s power, that they were more powerful, and more secure as a group. What she neglected was group dynamics, group-think, and the psychology of crowds, which tend to strip away individual identity, and initiative. That’s a loss of power, too.

    There is a strong sense I get from them about “the unity of humanity,” that, “we are all connected.” They believe that individualism in its strongest form is NOT a noble goal. It is a conceit of the American idea, and conservatives, that only benefits the ambitious and greedy, and it ends up harming people, especially the weak and vulnerable. They champion a kind of soft individualism in the sense that you develop your own talents, but you don’t get to use it to create your own independence, and your own power, separate from the group. You contribute what’s special about you to the benefit of the larger whole, and it is the larger whole (represented by the elites who manage their groups) who will determine how you use your talents, based on their righteous needs. This can be accomplished in a couple ways. You either join an existing organization, or you form your own, and meet their approval by meeting their goals. By providing acceptable leadership in their eyes, you have shown yourself to be a “rancher,” not one of the “animals.” If you do that well enough, you will get to exercise more power in society, by winning friends in the elite. Note that your needs are secondary. There is no negotiation between you and those who want what you produce. You gain only by fealty to the elites, and by being a productive servant, delivering what they want. Your reward is their companionship, the benefits that brings, and the loyalty of those you represent. Progressives champion a patronage system, as best I can make out.

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adolfo:

    Ah, yes, “land reform”, another of the perpetual harps of the Progressives…

    The maximum a fortune could reach was once limited by how much land a family could work. Those days have been washed away by the corporate form….

    @J Ferguson:

    I think that for a given government form there may be a fixed quantity of liberty; but I think it is pretty clear that 1800 USA was more free than Pol Pot’s Cambodia or Stalin’s Russia…

    Or 2010 California for that matter ;-)

    @Keith De Havelle:

    That’s the major point that bothers me about utopian “take the wealth” schemes…. they always seem to propose that the solution to wealth and power being too concentrated in the hands of some wealthy folks is instead to concentrate most of THAT in the hands of the government controlled by one or a few people…. Never could get past that part…

    Putting “The Peoples Bank” on the door does not change that it is El Jefe who gets to spend it…

    @The Plenarchist:

    The problem with that is Rome.

    Rome managed to subdue the Celts as the latter were not equipped to raise a large standing army against it. That is the conundrum of a ‘free government’. How to have the ability to compel enough participation of Free Men to prevent a ruthless dictatorial regime from conquest of you; yet still have it weak enough to be suppressed by those same folks when no threat pertains…

    So you need SOME government to prevent domination by a larger more evil government…

    @Oliver K. Manuel:

    That does look like an interesting development, but when I hit the ‘dropbox’ link it tells me I’m in the wrong place and need to log in first…

    How would gravity measure with 2 sats prove a neutron core? Lack of strata? Absolute density? Iron / gas layers?

    @Pascvaks:

    Governments are a monopoly of everything. At least in capitalism there is competition between the ‘departments’ and they can fail one at a time leaving the whole still pretty functional. Also, if I don’t like the service or efficiency at the DMV, where else can I go instead?

    Yes, all of them are full of folks grasping for power and trying to take my freedom. Markets can only do it with my cooperation, government can do it with a gun to my head.

    Also one can look at most any period of economic history and find that some bad joker in an industry gets his lunch eaten by another bad joker. Basically, they are at least in part kept busy fighting each other (and giving me better products in the process). In governments, ONE victor rises and the rest stagnates…

    Also realize that the progressive domination of education gives government a feedback loop to more domination. To be the America we once were, we have to remove the progressive feedbacks.

    @xyxlatin:

    Strange you should say that (about Islam) as I’m seeing serious parallels with fascism. I’ve got my Koran by the bedside and I’m working on a chart of ‘kinds of authoritarian’ that includes ‘religious authoritarian’…

    BUT: I think the Catholic Church of the Inquisition and Crusades was at least a tie with them…

    @Keith De Havelle & Adolfo:

    Per size: there is also to be considered that there is a minimum economic scale for some activities that is very very large. How large? Well, how many $Billions does it take to run a new drug research lab? Make and sell nuclear power plants? Make an economical steel mill or iron mine?

    IF you allow that size, you WILL have size dependent predatory behaviour vs other players… which then means you need a policeman (or the entire economy ends up as one monopoly with a king…)

    @Tckev:

    Yeah, Syria (and the prior Sadam Iraq) were both modeled on the Nazi National Socialist model (with obvious results….)

    The dictators in the rest of Arab Land are falling, but being replaced by a democratically elected religious dictatorship… I wish I knew why so many people choose slavery to a despot over the “risks” of freedom….

    @Kuhnkat:

    See above about folks choosing chains over freedom. All I can figure is that individually folks are willing to bet they will get more goodies than they loose, and are surprised that it never works out…

    @George:

    Nope, you’ve got it right. Communist Manifesto in babblespeak greenwash.

  37. E.M.Smith says:

    @GallopingCamel:

    Generally agree, though I’d have an “except for work in a parents private business” on child labor. My fondest memories are of working in my folks restaurant at age 7 to 12. Illegal “child labor”….

    @Pascvaks:

    The Saudi Royals fund the building of more mosques in the west than anyone else. $Billions being spent to build and equip and import books and imams. Oh, and provide teaching materials for public schools.

    They are NOT staying at home and they are NOT staying out of your neighborhood and they are NOT leaving your children alone.

    @Jason Calley:

    That about sums it up…

    @Mark:

    Socialism started with the “Utopians”. It still is a triumph of hope over experience…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopian_socialism

    This distinction was made clear in Engels’ work Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1892, part of an earlier publication, the Anti-Dühring from 1878). Utopian socialists were seen as wanting to expand the principles of the French revolution in order to create a more “rational” society and economic system, and despite being labeled as utopian by later socialists, their aims were not always utopian with their values often included rigid support for the scientific method and creating a society based upon such.

    A key difference between “utopian socialists” and other socialists (including most anarchists) is that utopian socialists generally don’t feel class struggle or political revolutions are necessary to implement their ideas; that people of all classes might voluntarily adopt their plan for society if it were presented convincingly. They often feel their form of cooperative socialism can be established among like-minded people within the existing society and establish small enterprises designed to demonstrate their plan for society.

    The list of Utopian Communes that have expired over the centuries is rather large….

    Note also the mind set of “I know I’m right as I’m rational and scientific – so just let me coerce you enough or harangue you enough until you submit to my superior understanding”… “Might voluntarily”… but if they don’t, well, we know what’s best for them and a little force can bring them along…

    Somehow that fundamental conceit that “I know I can do it better than the last time it was tried” dominates. Though, as you note, they have learned that they need to lie about who and what they are and now work more by parasitizing existing agencies and forms and corrupting them from within.

    It is an infective meme with lethal consequences to a society, but one that has only been stopped via the collapse of the host. I’d love to find a counter example or some way to effectively immunize against it.

    @David:

    When I look at what I was taught in government class vs my kids, it is clear to me that the domination of education as a method of control of society is at the root of the forgetting where we came from. (Marx as much as said to do this in his writings).

    Yes, we need to accept our ‘inner greed’ and design systems to minimize that damage, but we can also educate for better understanding of our major sins and how to diminish their impact. Starting with “how can a Republic stop Evil Powermonger Politicians from usurping the system” would be a good start…

    @Adolfo:

    Ow… such a sharp truth…

    @Mark:

    That many of us find the “Rancher” class even less moral, trustworthy, and competent than most of us farm animals really ticks ‘em off ;-)

    But yes, the “Progressive” side is ALL about group think, social control, the hierarchy of Sucking Up, etc. There is only THEIR WAY and the wrong way and you are to be allowed individual self determination only to the degree it conforms with THEIR WAY groupthink.

    Want to see a great demonstration of “Hate Speech” and “Intolerance”? Just suggest that if some folks believe in Leviticus they ought to be able to run their businesses in accord with that… or even have their kids educated in accord with it…

    How on this earth they can say they are for freedom of speech and freedom of religion yet pillory anyone who says “I think folks ought to be able to hire only non-gays and teach their kids homosexuality is a sin.” is beyond me. (And just for the record: I have had gays work for me and they were some of my best employees. I have ‘close danced’ with a gay guy at a party { it started as a group dance, and the girls ran off to huddle in the bathroom… then the music went to slow and, well, it was ‘courage of convictions or not?’ time… was I really willing to treat him like anyone else?…} That was where I learned to shave just before ANY date as stubble feels like crap, and that I didn’t like how guys feel… not soft enough ;-) so it’s pretty clear I’m not ‘hung up’ on it. I just think folks ought to be free to actually live their religion…or not, as THEY see fit.)

    Yes, I really am that tolerant. I think blacks ought to be able to call me whitey and I ought to be able to reply with the “n-word” and then we all ought to go have beer together. And if a black guy doesn’t want my son dating his daughter he ought to be able to say so (and she ought to be free to ignore him ;-)

    BUT, despite what would seem to be some pretty “non conservative” ideas there, I’m typecast as a conservative because I do not toe the party line and condemn the “right things”… Folks who REALLY embrace individual freedom and choice are very much rejected by the “progressive” and “left wing American Social Liberal” movements…

    I’m pretty sure it all comes from that arrogance of conceit. They KNOW they can make better choices than you, so if you don’t agree, you must be part of the reactionary bourgeois class and need ‘reeducation’…

  38. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Mark: meet their approval by meeting their goals. By providing acceptable leadership in their eyes, you have shown yourself to be a “rancher,” not one of the “animals.”
    Like saying to them you share their atheism, that you agree with birth control, abortion, with not smoking, with banning “trash food”, being “green”, “global warming”, approving “gay marriage” and so on. (Quite a peculiar “philosophy”! which btw they defend as it would be a matter of life and death)…in one word: relinquishing to your principles. That is why they had to remove all former governing elites to replace them by those commoners more inclined to servitude and to be easily commanded by them. But not only that, through special organizations, called “secret or esoteric societies” created by them, they instilled into them the belief they were “initiates” of a higher order, the best of the human kind, the “Illuminati” chosen to lead the world for the welfare of humanity.
    They, after achieving this goal, tell them to one half of them to play the role of “liberals”, and the other half the role of “conservatives”, but both NEVER allowed to reestablish the traditional order.

  39. plenarchist says:

    @E.M. – “So you need SOME government to prevent domination by a larger more evil government…”

    I believe you can have best of both worlds. I define ‘government’ as a state authority with the power to intervene in affairs of the people. I call this the intentional state. When I say ‘no government,’ I mean a state authority that has no power to intervene in affairs of the people; the non-intentional state. My model state for this I call a plenarchy; a society of sovereigns.

    If you’re interested, visit my blog at plenarchist.wordpress.com. I just started working on the concept (as I find time) but the idea is taking shape.

  40. George says:

    They were going to transform the world from the chaos we knew into a comfortable and friendly place.

    To me the easiest analogy is that of a wilderness compared to a zoo. I see a sustainable economy as one where government allows the greatest possible number of operators in a market space. By keeping the barriers to competition low, you allow more innovation. The more operators you have in a market space the better the chances are of someone trying something new that is wildly successful. Government can play a role in this sort of environment though things such as anti-trust regulations where the idea is to prevent one player from being so dominant as to force out other competitors.

    Having regulations that force out small competitors, prevent new ones from entering markets, and maybe forcing marginal operators to merge with the “big fish”, we create a market that is susceptible to systemic failure. It is like having a vast area of the planet with only a few varieties of crops. A disease can then sweep through the fields like a wildfire taking out a huge amount of production. What happens in business is that the huge operators become “too big to fail”. We need more small operations and not so many large ones. We need an economic ecosystem that is constantly innovating with new companies being born and ones that fail to adapt dying. Nobody should be “too big to fail”.

    “Progressives” would turn this economic ecosystem into a closely managed zoo where one mistake can wipe out the entire population.

    To my mind this does not provide security, all it provides is a handy target for blame when things go wrong. It doesn’t provide us with any insurance against failure, it simply means that someone somewhere thinks they are smarter than thousands of individual businesses making their own choices.

  41. adolfogiurfa says:

    @GeorgeWe need an economic ecosystem that is constantly innovating with new companies being born and ones that fail to adapt dying. Nobody should be “too big to fail”.
    PREDATORS NEEDED!!

  42. Jason Calley says:

    Love him or hate him, Stefan Molyneux (creator of FreeDomain Radio) has produced a long series of videos which inspire some real thought and re-evaluation. Here is his video explaining the “farmers” vs the “cattle”.

  43. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Jason I once knew one of the farmers (!!) and he told me: If working as an employee would be a good business we would have all employments …..
    Freedom it`s a gift from earth, that is why “they” are becoming the only owners of land in the world.

  44. adolfogiurfa says:

    As the great George Carlin said “Earth it is a self repairing organism”, so it will make some fixes here, some fixes there…and, we will surely sing (after 2012´s mayan year) after Ruben Blades:
    “La vida te da sorpresas…sorpresas the da la vida, Ay Dios!” (“Life gives you surprises, surprises life gives you” Oh, God! ..)
    So, buy more popcorn!

  45. Two of tonight’s surprises:

    1. “Anonymous release of more Stratfor data”

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-anonymous-stratfor.html

    2. I was barred from posting this comment:

    “Distrust of government is an alarming new development that may require leaders of nations and scientific organizations to be more candid in addressing evidence of wrongdoing in government funded studies on global climate change, etc.”

    Best wishes for 2012!
    Oliver K. Manuel

    http://www.omatumr.com/

  46. George says:

    Economies are self-repairing, too, if nurtured in a way so they don’t become dominated by too few players and aren’t artificially skewed by government policy. The current financial crisis in the US was precipitated by government mortgage policy and the damage was amplified by government mandated accounting policy (e.g. Sarbanes/Oxley “mark to market” requirements which were waived too late to prevent the damage).

    There is reason to believe that if the financial institutions were bearing the risk of these loans themselves, they would not have made them. Canada’s mortgage market has held up quite well and the reason for that is less government social engineering via mortgage lending.

    Imagine taking a wilderness area and attempting to make it “perfect”. That is the sort of nonsense “progressive” engage in with markets. By attempting to make things more fair, they end up making things less fair.

    Milton Friedman was a brilliant man. More people should be aware of his work.

  47. adolfogiurfa says:

    Oliver K.Manuel: OT: Your neutrons are but small hydrogens. Remember Mendeleev? He arranged his table according to the law of the octave…thus the first element (as any note in a piano) contains in itself an “interior octave”. Thus size=dimension. As Max Planck put it: The higher the energy, the higher the frequency.

  48. Yes, every atom in the universe can be explained as a mixture of neutrons and hydrogen atoms – two forms of one fundamental particle.

    Neutrons become hydrogen atoms in the expansion of the universe. See the Journal of Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011):

    http://journalofcosmology.com/BigBang102.html

  49. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adolfo:

    That’s a pretty good list of the catechism… Yes, you must salute that list and NOT think for yourself…

    I don’t know how the whole social control network lays out, but one part of it is “mutation when uncovered”. So for a long time the Masons were prominent in US Leadership. Then ‘folks noticed’… and things changed. I suspect that the Masons are now just an abandoned distractor and folks have ‘recandled’ to some other organization ( Bilderbergers? )

    BTW, in ‘market lingo’ the predator that companies and countries first must fear is called: The Bond Bullies. They start diving the price of new loans up way high as the bond prices fall. Basically, folks start dumping the bonds of poorly run companies. So watch the bonds and you see the first moves. Then there are various “Hostile Takeover Funds” that start to circle.

    Yup, predators keep the herd health. LONG before the company is bankrupt, The Bond Bullies are telling it that it’s screwing up and how to fix it.

    @George:

    The Zoo analogy is a very good one.

    The basic problem is that the Regulator is SURE they can make a better decision… yet it is simply not possible for one person, or even a small group, to know as much and decide as well as a million individual buyers and sellers.

    The complexity of economic functions exceeds the capacity of ANYONE to plan and predict. (Gee… what else exceeds the ability of folks to model, plan, and predict… I think I see a pattern here ;-) These folks are either scared silly at the idea that an “unmanaged” system can work well, or they are certain they are superior to it. BOTH are wrong. The economy is a robust and resilient natural ecology, and no amount of Zooifying it will improve it. But hubris knows no bounds and self dealing has great rewards (at the expense of others…)

    Some times I wonder if the “mortgage mess” was deliberate, then got a bit out of hand… The Political Powers, IMHO, thought they were ticking the banks with the crap mortgages as a kind of social Robin Hood… and the banks figured out a way to ‘third party the trash” in what looked like a mildly OK way (blend a little nuclear waste with each bundle of good mortgages). Then everyone decided it was a good thing and things went open loop with Liar Loans and such… When it blew up (under that “Mark To Market” pressure and the CDO / Swaps pressure), the sudden realization that everyone from the CRA Creators (Clintons, Frank et. al) to the Glass-Steagall repealers (Banks, Bush & Republicans) was causal has caused a blizzard of attempts to fix the blame on anyone else.

    Not ONE of them will admit that things were find under G-S for decades and with normal (i.e. not coerced bad loan generation) lending practices. I keep hearing myself think: “Put it Back…” but knowing they are too stupid and too embarrassed to just undo their stupidities. So instead we got a newer even more broken layer of ‘regulation’ via Dodd-Frank to hide the guilty and fix blame to the least powerful.

    This OUGHT to be a poster child for why Central Planning and excessive regulation is a Very Bad Idea. Instead it is being used as an excuse for more of the same… more of #5 above.

    I always liked Friedman. It was his work that put me on my path to becoming a “Recovering Keynesian”. First ran into him toward the end of my Econ degree and had a light bulb light up…

    @Jason Calley:

    Looks like fun ;-) I’ll watch it a bit later after I’m caught up on some other things…

    @Oliver K. Manuel:

    THAT rather benign statement was banned? Sheesh… Kind of like saying “Evidence of fishy business might need some fixing”… About as controversial as “Salt on popcorn can taste good”…

    @Adolfo & Oliver:

    I have this notion that wanders around my head from time to time. It says that everything is just photons. As you slow them down and stick more of them together, you can make electrons, neutrons, etc. (Thus the ability to spall off beta and positron and various gamma et. al. depending on various collision energies).

    If that has truth in it, then the idea of a Neutron Sun is a very reasonable thing. All it takes is enough pressure cramming all the bits together to make a large ball of neutrons. Then as the thing simmers, it spits out an endless stream of photons, electrons, protons, etc…

    Kind of a “photon battery” that was charged in a giant BANG! some time ago…

    If that’s true, then we are all just creatures of light and vibrations of energy.

  50. Jason Calley says:

    @ George “Economies are self-repairing, too, if nurtured in a way so they don’t become dominated by too few players and aren’t artificially skewed by government policy. ”

    Very true, but good luck trying to convince people whose income is based on their reputed ability to scientifically control the economy! Noted economists always seem to advise that we hire more noted economists.

    Sigh… if only there were an economic system that rewarded people for being nice to each other and helping each other. Oh, wait! That would be the free market (and it’s logical development into capitalism.) The free market is the only system where (because it is based on people entering into voluntary exchange) every transaction leaves BOTH parties better off than before. Of course, everyone knows that the free market inevitably descends into predatory and monopolistic markets. Sigh… If only there were some system that punished people who steal and cheat in the marketplace. Oh, wait! That would be the doctrine of enforcing inalienable natural rights. :)

    I am beginning to suspect that people much smarter than me have considered these questions before.

    By the way, there is a very simple reason why top-down control of the market invariably creates inefficiencies and eventually strangles the market. Top-down control is based on either control of supply or control of demand. Supply is controlled by regulation, while demand is controlled by price setting. The ability of the free market to provide transactions which benefit BOTH parties is based on the fact that different parties place different values on the same goods. The fruit monger says that growing, harvesting and selling an apple is worth 40 cents. The consumer is willing to value the same apple for 50 cents. They meet at 45 cents and a sale is made, both parties are happy. When governmental regulations impair the ability of the fruit monger to produce apples he responds by supplying fewer. When the government distorts the sale of apples by mandating higher prices or taxes, the consumer demands fewer. Either change decreases the ability of producers and customers to find the natural balance point between supply and demand. The same principle works when governments (through central banks) distort the natural market driven interest rates. By artificially making loans available at arbitrary rates, the entire pricing function of the market is distorted and both producers and consumers cannot make informed decisions needed to satisfy their desires.

  51. p.g.sharrow says:

    @ EMSmith says to Adolfo & Oliver : Every thing may be made up of photons.Therefor we may be creatures of light!

    Damn smith! You been reading my stuff? 8-) happy New Year everyone. pg

  52. gallopingcamel says:

    Here is a non-fiction excerpt from Vaclav Havel that skewers some of the problems of applied Communism:

    http://www.gallopingcamel.info/Docs/Havel_Powerless.doc

    Don’t be too sure that “It could not happen here”. I have seen the identical scenario play out in a major US university.

  53. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    Just channeling your light ;-)

    (Rational minds will end up at the same place… )

    @GallopingCamel:

    It’s a very familiar thing to me… I worked in a University once…

    @Jason Calley:

    In many ways, once past ‘the basics’, much of Econ is devoted to exactly those questions and how to best arrange things so that good happens. Many classes are devoted to how to prevent monopoly power from coming to dominate the market and how to keep markets free and fair. How to prevent regulatory agencies from being co-opted by the industries involved.

    It is not the case, though, that markets always give a win-win solution or treat both players fairly. Monopolies do not, for example. If I own the only source of food for 1000 miles, you do not get a good price or a fair deal. That is why we need free and competitive markets. So a ‘free market’ with anti-trust enforcement is what works best.

    The problem with this, as I see it. is that there are two poles that want anything BUT a free, fair, and competitive market. On the one side is the Monopolist Wanna-be (or extant). On the other side is the “Scientific Socialist”, sure they can bring “justice” and “equality” and “safety” better than anyone else.

    When those two join forces, we get the Fascist State and the “Managed Market” and the Third Way folks. Worst of both worlds…. But for a little while the trains run on time and lots of folks make a lot of money (on one side) while others get to manage and meddle in the lives of the population (on the other side). “Win-Win” in their minds. Only later does it break down, and horridly.

    I could spend a while on the various things tried in the name of keeping monopoly power in check, but it’s really a huge area… Unfortunately doing nothing to constrain the urge to monopoly leads to the Robber Baron era ( that is, we’ve “lived that dream” and know it ends badly). You end up with Standard Oil doing predatory pricing, driving small holders out of business based ONLY on financial size (not superior product or price) or J.P. Morgan ruthlessly destructive of other banks and creating as much chaos as benefit.

    If you don’t enforce anti-trust, then the biggest wallet wins and dominates the entire economy. That’s why we had Kings before. Once one guy is bigger then the others, he gets to own everything. Profits from the monopoly parts fund predatory consolidation of other parts, repeat until ONE company owns all.

    Unfortunately, despite those ills, markets and competition work better than the alternatives… For every Immelt and GE doing the “suck up to government” and trying to drive other light bulb makers out of existence, you have a Jobs or a Branson who changes the world in a very good way.

    What works best in the way of ‘control’? IMHO, it’s a bare minimum of regulation with most of it limited to enforcement of liability and enforcement of anti-bribery and anti-collusion / anti-trust rules. Basically the government needs to be limited to the role of referee of the fight and keeping it fair, not bestower of ANY right or privilege. Roughly what we had in about 1950-70. (There’s a lot more detail, but not enough more room / typing time ;-)

    What is happening right now with China is nothing less than a government driven attempt at being a world monopolist in manufacturing (bypassing OUR anti-trust laws…). So far we’ve been happy to let them win that game. Now that prices have started rising (what happens as soon as the monopolist has effective control of the market) we’ll see how folks like it. One example: A few years back you could buy an industrial “drop cord” for about $4. Now it about $24. (Just checked today…) Why? Predatory pricing drove all the other makers out of business, so now prices can be jacked up. That will be done one market at a time until they own the world.

    OK, a second example: They effectively drove everyone out of the Rare Earth Fabrication market, then the REE Mining as well. Now they have restricted exports. There are some attempts to re-build a REE mining capacity. We’ll see how long it takes for China to crash the prices again and put them under. (Optimum time is just AFTER full investment was made and the loans need servicing…)

    So that’s the problem with monopoly markets, and it is made worse by State Capitalism, not better.

    The basic problem is: How do you keep greedy people competing with each other rather than colluding to defraud and dominate the public? How do you prevent one ruthless player from becoming Czar? Making The Government that player only means you get a real Czar, or Dear Leader…

  54. George says:

    The problem is that while we are good with trying to prevent monopolies, we actually tend to encourage oligopolies. Increased regulatory pressure forces marginal competitors to fold or merge and prevents new competition from appearing. Regulator compliance is expensive. It takes money to develop a “compliance department” and experience to develop compliance process. A startup sees this as extra overhead and a barrier of entry into the market. So we end up with larger market shares for a smaller number of players until they all become “too big to fail”.

    The mortgage crisis was precipitated by rising interest rates combined with a very large number of people who could barely afford mortgages in the first place having been provided with “creative” short term adjustable loans in order to get the payments down to something they could afford.

    After the dot-bomb and 9/11, the federal reserve reduced interest rates in order to spur the economy. These historically low interest rates resulted in more people being able to afford mortgages of the more “creative” sort. Eventually the time came for these temporary interest rates to begin walking back up to values more in line with historical norms. Mainly this was being done to protect the dollar. Trouble is, I don’t believe the Federal Reserve was adequately informed of the scale of the “just barely able to afford a mortgage and has adjustable rates” problem.

    At some point after the federal reserve began to raise interest rates, mortgages began to adjust. As these mortgages began to adjust upwards, the rates of defaults began to increase. Mortgages don’t adjust immediately, there is some lag between when the fed changes interest rates to when mortgage adjustments begin to reflect them. By the time the federal reserve reacted to the problem and drastically cut rates, it was too late.

    Fed actions can result in an effect similar to pilot-induced oscillation while flying an aircraft. You make an adjustment but there is some lag so you make some more adjustment. Then you must back off but you are still too far in the wrong direction so you over-correct. The lag in response to changes to input can result in an oscillation.

    But in any case, as these rates went up, people defaulted and houses were going into foreclosure. As a result of foreclosure and short sales, median home prices fell. Because of Sarbanes/Oxley “mark to market” requirements, this drop in a region’s median home price meant that the value of all mortgaged properties in that market had to be marked down. The marking down of the properties underlying the mortgages meant the banks had to old more reserve capital against them. More capital in reserve against under water mortgages meant less money available for normal business lending so we get a slowdown in general business activity. This slowdown in business activity means layoffs and closures of small businesses which, in turn, produce more foreclosures reducing median home prices even more and the cycle repeats.

    First of all, Sarbanes Oxley should be completely repealed. It has been the number one cause of business slowdown in the US. It makes IPOs nearly impossible and creates truly stupid balance sheets (you must assume that ALL employees will exercise ALL stock options and cash in ALL vacation every month … totally bogus). It is basically designed to absolutely minimize a company’s balance sheet and provide a “worst case scenario” as the norm.

    Secondly, they should have started razing homes older than 10 years old that foreclosed. (ok, start with those over 40 years old). That does several things: 1. Creates jobs for the people doing the demolition. 2: the resulting building lot sale does not go against “median home price” in the region because it is not the sale of a home. 3: lowers supply of housing which will act to firm up prices. 4: anyone buying such a lot intends to build on it. This sets the stage for a future building boom when things recover. 5: You don’t have abandoned homes becoming sources of blight reducing the value of nearby homes and becoming locations for criminal activity. It keeps the home values up in the neighborhood.

    I would do that today in areas of Detroit. Simply raze the homes that are abandoned and sell the lots without a house on them.

    Thirdly government should have used the TARP funds and determined which properties in default were in default due to mortgage payment adjustment. (which ones were not in default prior to adjustment) Then you determine which of those would not be in default at the original payment. (owner is employed and can still make the original payment amount) )Then you purchase the mortgage and convert it to a fixed rate at an affordable payment. The government holds the mortgage long enough to recoup is costs of handling the conversion and establish a payment record and then sells the mortgage to private industry. This would reduce the number of foreclosures preventing the reduction of area median home price and protect the value of surrounding mortgages.

    Fourth: Mandate that only those who are likely to be able to afford an upwardly adjusted mortgage be given an adjustable rate.

  55. R. de Haan says:

    The tragedy of the Euro
    About the socialist coup taking place in Europe and the crucial role the Euro play’s to achieve the set objectives.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/real-tragedy-euro

  56. H.R. says:

    @gallopingcamel (05:48:44) :

    “Mark,

    That old saw “Communism hasn’t really been tried,” and its close relative “it would work with the right people in charge” will be used over and over again to justify attempts to create socialist Utopias.

    Even though socialism has always degenerated into misery and tyranny there is no lack of academics convinced they know how to make it work.”
    (emphasis added)
    ===================================================
    As soon as I saw that last bit I immediately thought of Escher’s drawings.

    http://www.mcescher.com/

    There is no lack of people who think that something like 1954 ‘Relativity” would work, “If only we could just…”

    Nicely written, g.c.

  57. Pascvaks says:

    Each of us has a concept of ‘the ideal’ this and that. I guess the biggest problem people have is that they don’t like being told how stupid they are by other people that they just happen to think are dumber than petrified tree stumps or 4 billion year old Oz rocks. We’re missing an awful lot and always getting into trouble by this archaic system of words we have. We simply must come up with a better way of communicating. Words are pathetic. They all have different meanings and can actually mean different things simply by the WAY they’re typed or by the volume they’re spoken.

    I have a theory. We’re all smart, we’re all capable of grasping and agreeing on the ‘ideal’ (well….. some of us, most of the time;-), but it’s currently impossible to communicate with each other because there are many different worlds on this tiny planet and within each of those worlds there are numerous people who can’t (or won’t) talk to each other effectively, therefore, it’s a waste of time to attempt to come out with lists of Human Rights by some two-bit international organization, or any one, or any group, of the worlds on the planet that some representative idiot says is applicable to everyone on the planet. Very dangerous to do that. Very dangerous for the people of one world, or group of worlds, to let representatives of other world’s enjoy free rein and allow them to mess with the minds of their own people too. But… I don’t know how you stop this nonsense when it’s already been allowed to get a foothold. Long thought/story short: the worlds of this planet are all messed up and there’s no way to fix them short of the age old, time tested, sure fire way of war and conquest. The only way to get to the “IDEAL” is force. We’re simply not capable of doing it any other way at this stage in our genetic development. People are animals. Really!

    Now that we’re all naturally agreed on all that, (I’m sure each of you understand every neuance to everything I just said, and implied;-) we can go about changing the world, I’m sorry, “Our World”, to a better and more empathetic system for all who have the intelligence to think the way we do. Right!?!

    On second thought… this is getting a lot more complicated than it really needs to be… everyone who thinks the way I do, step across this line in the sand; the rest of you have until the count of three to get your lying, stinking carcass out of here, One!, Two!…. bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang…. bang! (SarcOff)

    PS: I couldn’t resist. It is New Year’s Eve, right! Happy Yew Year everyone! You ARE a fantastic group. Special Thanks to EM, for making it all possible @Chiefio. Life’s a beach! A BIG, BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, COMPLICATED, LITTLE beach that’s always changing and always the same. God bless and keep you all, and all of yours.

  58. adolfogiurfa says:

    @EM.Smith: If you don’t enforce anti-trust, then the biggest wallet wins and dominates the entire economy. That’s why we had Kings before..

    Then what we need is, by the principle of “solving by the absurd” having an always visible and easy to find King, who will be in charge of a very small government (the royal court) and with power supervised and limited by the people.

  59. adolfogiurfa says:

    Have a good and very “interesting” new year 2012!
    And don´t forget to buy more popcorn! (before it is converted into eco-nuts-fuel)

  60. pyromancer76 says:

    What a wonderful thread. I have sent off the post and many of the comments to a few who want to be knowledgeable about educating their kids.

    E.M., looking forward to your reading of the Koran. Glad you are evaluating the ideology-religious teachings for their “evangelical” reach toward total tyranny — certainly beginning with education, and excluding women as any kind of actor upon threat of death. I remember being enthralled with the computer game that showed that “cooperators” who punished liars/thieves quickly and returned the next time to cooperator status always won (the most descendants) in the end. There were many contests to defeat the “cooperators”. Finally, when two “evil” intenders teamed up (I think marxism and islamism) defeat occurred.

    Every time I come up against what might have been possible in the year 2000 with a Republican president, I can’t help but think that George W Bush was a huge traitor, one of the worst, to the ideal of a representative republic and free-market economy. In addition, he favored the Saudis (sp), prevented ground up sleuthing (FBI) of enemies-in-our midst that would have prevented 9/11 (at least in the form that act of terrorism happened), and bled us of our treasure in foreign wars (against Saudi enemies). I am not talking conspiracy, rather “tragedy”. I think of his sending all of our “good” (esp oil money) to the wahibists. So many of the Islam “evangelical” efforts were made possible with this treasure. (I believe Obama’s election, too.)

    I have almost given up in this round of a so-called presidential primary — it has become something like farce. Never thought I would feel so deeply this way. However, depression is not my usual mode, so I won’t stay here.

    Thanks for this and all the other threads, and thanks to your amazingly intelligent readers and commenters. Will you have any time to comment here on Nikolov & Zeller’s unified theory of climate change? I remember that you and others briefly discussed their poster. I have read most of the comments. What is the basic physics?

    Happy and Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you and your family and your readers.

  61. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M.
    I almost disagree with you on the monopoly subject – but I think it may be more a matter of semantics than substance. For starters though, let me respectfully take you to task on one of those semantic issues, the use of the word “fair.” You say, “how to keep markets free and fair” and “treat both players fairly” and “fair deal”. Yes, maybe it is just a personal quirk, but “fair” may be one of the most dangerous words in the English language! I cringe when I see it. The reason is that “fair” is so very undefined. If you use a word like “equal”, or “nonpartisan” then we can agree on what we are talking about, but “fair” is like “beauty” and is in the eye of the beholder. A socialist wants things to be fair, that is, everyone gets the same rewards regardless of output. A progressive wants taxes to be fair, ie, millionaires pay 95% of income. A corporatist wants things to be fair, ie, his company continues to make the same profit as always. I would guess that when YOU say “fair” you mean, “same rules for everyone”. That is better, but even so, the word “fair” is so easy to misconstrue that any three people can give you four interpretations of what it means.

    I think you are correct to point out the need to have competition in the market. In fact, a free market, by definition, has to be at least open to competition; any market which does not allow competition is by definition one that is constrained and not free. However, assuming that we really are talking about a free market, then in that case, we may very well see monopolies that are not abusive. After all, even a monopoly will not stay a monopoly long if they consistently overcharge for their goods. The problem is not presence or absence of monopoly, the problem is presence or absence of possible competitors. Competition is what keeps monopolies (or even smaller companies) from becoming abusive.

    @ E.M. “What works best in the way of ‘control’? IMHO, it’s a bare minimum of regulation with most of it limited to enforcement of liability and enforcement of anti-bribery and anti-collusion / anti-trust rules. Basically the government needs to be limited to the role of referee of the fight and keeping it fair, not bestower of ANY right or privilege.”

    That we agree on, and when you decide to run for office, I’ll donate to your campaign! That is the very nub of the problem. Your solution – I think – is right, but how do we humans keep a system like that going? A piece of paper – even a Constitution – will not enforce itself! In the end, ANY system of human government or society will last only as long as there is a majority fraction of the population willing to fight for that system. And when I say “fight”, I mean just that, real, physical, hit-some-one-on-the-head fight for it. The reason is that the people who would violate rules about fraud, theft, rape, murder, etc., are not people who will be dissuaded by shunning or shame, or by harsh words, or sweet persuasion. There was a time when, if a man beat his wife too severely, a group of neighbors and relatives would have a serious talk with him late at night. If he persisted, he would have a company of hooded thugs show up at his door to demonstrate what beating is. If he still persisted, he might just disappear. Is that brutal, is that primitive, is that un-Christian? Yes, all those things – but in the long run, is it less brutal than letting sociopaths run free? In some ways, we have become too civilized, we have become too domesticated. The bell curve of human response has shifted its major hump toward docility, and the few hot heads on the tail end have become so rare that muggers are less often shot as they rob some victim in an alleyway. This may perhaps be a blessing, but if it is, it is a very mixed blessing..

    I do not propose aggression against anyone. Really, I am too old, too fat and too slow to take much part in that! Besides, aggression is unethical, even if self defense is not. I do, however, point out that society needs a few hot-heads as a natural vaccine against sociopaths in high places. I am reminded of the so-called “Battle of Athens.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens_(1946) I do not think such a fight would happen today, and that fact is an indicator of how we have changed.

    Oh! I almost forgot! Happy New Year to you, E.M. and to all your family and friends! Thank you for all your work in providing this oasis in the desert. Maybe I should have said, “This dessert in the desert!”

    And to all the rest of you who post here and exercise my brain so regularly, thank you too, and Happy New Year to you and yours! I am grateful for having learned so much from you all.

  62. Pascvaks says:

    @Pyromancer76

    Life is more about chemistry than anything else, especially our emotions. The more you know, the more you hurt. Happy people are as children, blissfully unaware of the dangers around them. I think the whole damn world is depressed these days, look at all people taking something to feel better;-)

    Best guidance I ever heard about voting, “If you don’t, who will? Someone has got to do it or the game is over and it’s back to the caves! Vote for the Bozo you trust most or hate least.” It really is that easy! (Have a Great New Year!)

  63. George says:

    I don’t believe Bush was a traitor in any way. His administration, for example, saw the mortgage crisis coming since 2001 and attempted several times to get legislation through to more closely regulate the GSEs. On both Iraq and Afghanistan he acted with nearly unanimous consent from Congress. It was also a Democrat Congress that made “regime change” our official policy on Iraq and it is also useful to remember that Saddam had all the way up to the last minute to change his mind and allow inspectors which would have avoided the entire war and he would still be in power there. The Taliban in Afghanistan also had opportunity to simply hand over bin Laden and avoid a war there.

    More importantly, I don’t think most people have the historic background to fully appreciate the potential good we have in what has happened in Iraq. For example, the historic “center of gravity” of Shia Islam is Najaf, Iraq in the historic and cultural sense. Saddam Hussein kept the Shiites suppressed. When the Iranians had their revolution in 1979, the center of gravity of Shiite theology shifted to Qom, Iran. The Qom school of thought is quite different than the Sistani school of thought in Najaf. Sistani is more secular in his vision of the role of religion in politics. He feels that politics corrupts and Iran is actually a pretty good example of that corruption. So what we have now is a growing counterweight in Shiite theology. Many in Iran, when they go on their pilgrimage to Najaf (which is a lifetime goal of many Shiites) offer their Zakat to the followers of Sistani in Iraq and not the followers of Ali Khamenei in Iran. This has increased since the brutal suppression of Iranian displays of discontent recently.

    It will take some decades to actually see what the overall impact will be on such groups as Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Iranians are losing influence in Syria which will make the maintenance of Hezbollah more difficult for Iran. I expect it will take some 40 years before we see a clear picture emerge on how things really worked out. One thing I was really expecting to see is Iraq carved up into pieces. I expected to see Iran take the Shiite region, Syria to take the Sunni region and for Iran and Syria to give up a small portion of their land to make a “Kurdistan” to keep the Kurds out of it. I think things are too far gone in Iran and Syria for such a thing to happen now. Assad in Syria will be gone soon and so will Khamenei in Iran.

    Lebanon will likely be the clear long-term winner if the meddling from Syria and Iran reduces.

  64. @Pascvaks:

    The more you know, the more you hurt. Happy people are as children, blissfully unaware of the dangers around them.

    Here I must disagree, my friend. Being happy is a skill that you learn, no more difficult than bowling — and like bowling, something most people are not good at without practice.

    But it is worth the practice!

    May the new year bring plenty of happiness to you all.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  65. Pingback: Welcome 2012, Views of the 3 Socialisms « Musings from the Chiefio

  66. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pascvaks:

    I once startled a college age friend by saying the same words, with very different intonations, and to very different effect. He had said something a bit silly and I said:

    “What were you thinking?” then “Or, perhaps I ought to rephrase that:”
    WHAT? Were you thinking?”

    Got a prolonged look and a discussion of just HOW did I DO that!?

    FWIW, as near as I can tell the various forms of socialist figured out long ago that constantly polluting the language and warping meanings was one of the best tools for keeping people stupid and off balance. That, BTW, is one of the main reasons I oppose it. (How work products are spread around is only a minor issue to me, really, but pollution of thought processes is just horrid… we all have our limits ;-)

    @Adolfo:

    Well, that’s what the parliamentary monarchy is supposed to do. Any good working examples that have withstood the push to Progressivism?

    @Pyromancer76:

    The Koran is on a slow schedule. I can only take it in small doses… So far, though, it’s pretty clearly an authoritarian guidebook and designed to achieve social domination in a ‘take no prisoners, only converts’ kind of way.

    It DOES have fair and just treatment of women mandated in it… from a 7th century ‘women as slaves and cattle’ point of view… Women get defined property rights, along with their subservient dependent status… Heady stuff in 700 AD. Now, now so much ;-)

    FWIW, once, while playing Risk, a friend and I managed a clean sweep. How? We simply formed what looked like the typical weak alliance, but was in fact an ‘identity of forces’. We had just decided we wanted the game to end faster and didn’t care which of us ‘won’, so acted as a single very large agent… By the time the other folks caught on, it was too late. When the last of them was wiped out, we declared the game over as the partnership had won…

    IMHO, the Unified Theory of Climate is pretty well just that convection dominates and the ideal gas laws matter. IMHO, the physics is mostly just that convection and evaporation / condensation happen; and that as a parcel of air rises, it cools, as it sinks, it warms, and the added density of gas slows heat transfer from a radiative surface enough to keep us warm AND STABLE (in bounds). I think it needs a bit more polish, but that’s basically it.

    @Jason Calley:

    In economics, the term “free and fair” is a ‘term of art’ with a fairly specific meaning. The “fair” part means no special treatment of one participant over another. The King pays the same price and if a pauper wants to offer rocks for sale, he has the same right as the local Rock Baron. Substantially “same rules for all”. Yes, there are “issues” in that demanding a $1 Million Rock Sellers License can make a nominally ‘fair’ system very clearly ‘unfair’ (and large books are written about regulation as a kind of un-fairness…) But the sense of it is “Not dominated by a power broker” (free) and “Same rules for all” (fair) with the subtext of “not rigged and not so regulated as to be effectively different rules” implied by often breached in practice.

    You assert that a monopoly can not consistently overcharge for their product. That is simply wrong. (There is a huge body of history and theoretical work showing how to calculate the precise optimum price point for a monopoly at well above equilibrium competitive prices). It happens all the time. How much extra will folks pay for an Apple iPhone? Apple uses the (legal and approved short term) monopoly tools of trademark, patent, and copyright to gain a period of “excess monopoly pricing power” (and this is encouraged so as to get folks to invent new stuff!). We ENCOURAGE limited monopoly power (in time or over a topic area) to as to get the increase in work product. What is discouraged is to let that power run forever ( limited time on patents, copyrights) or to let it be used in a predatory manner (Microsoft anti-trust suit vis predatory treatment toward other software vendors and bungling requirements).

    Folks do those things precisely because they can overcharge for long periods of time. The most clear example of this was electric power. Early on it was called a ‘natural monopoly’ since once one company owned the power poles and right of way, no other could compete. We instituted a kind of price control (via regulated monopoly laws) precisely to limit the profit that could be extracted due to that ability to price to excess forever. (Otherwise THAT monopoly funds the crushing of other industries until Fattest Wallet Wins All…)

    This isn’t just theoretical. Standard Oil is literally the text book case of how to use that physical monopoly power and predatory pricing to dominate an industry. They would put down a Standard Station in a town and price fuel below cost, until the competitors were out of business, then jack up prices to fund the takeover of the next town… No competitor was willing to then re-enter the old town as they knew Std Oil would just predatory price them into ruin. Again, not a hypothetical. It was done and was what lead to the anti-trust laws and laws the forbid selling below cost.

    So you simply must have that as part of your mental framework to reach correct conclusions about what happens in a ‘free’ market… and to understand why ‘free’ can not be left as ‘free for all’…

    It really is a Hobson’s Choice. The Evil of the Monopoly or the Evil of the Government. There is no “invisible hand” that cures monopolies…

    Yes, you put your finger on it precisely in the question of ‘how does a polite and sane people suppress the sociopaths’? So far, no good answer. Since they are very hard to clearly identify, the best we can do is let them run small companies (compared to the nation) and with a board of governors that toss out the worst of them… with incarceration for those who break laws…

    @George:

    Baby Bush was not supposed to win. When he did, he got the Old Guard assigned to him via Daddy Bush. He was largely just a pawn of the powers that be. Neither evil nor great; he did an OK job, but with some great screw ups (signing that Rio treaty is one of them).

    I doubt if any president matters much. If they get too far out of line, their ‘second’ gets ‘promoted’. (Vis Kennedy and the attempt on Regan with Daddy Bush in the wings.)

    It is the choreographed dance of Left Progressive vs Right Progressive and never ever look to the side… that is where the evil sits…

    The history of the Middle East is easiest to map onto a ‘where would I move a board piece if I were a western globalist empire’ than via any other lens… So no stable free governments, no Kurdistan, no peace and stability. Just Baby Bush cleaning up some of the messes left behind by the policies of Daddy Bush when he and his friends created the Taliban and a strong Iraq / Iran to stand in the way of Soviet expansion. Once the USSR was gone, then the ‘creation’ needed to be put to sleep…

    @Keith DeHavelle:

    Some time ago I learned how to push the “happy button”. It is now my natural state. I can find happiness even in the discovery of how the jailer keeps the cell closed…. While there can be happiness in ignorance (and most folks seem to choose that path); I find just as much in understanding the bounds of the problem…

    @All:

    Some of you will already be in the new year. I’m toward the trailing edge. In any case:

    Happy New Year to all, and may your hangovers be gentle one ;-)

  67. George says:

    Jimmy Carter created the Taliban. Actually, it was the brain child of Zbigniew Brzezinski who was Carter’s National Security Adviser.

  68. George says:

    In 1979 the Russians invaded Afghanistan. Zbigniew Brzezinski had the idea to arm Islamists across the boarder with Pakistan to fight the Russians. Reagan kept the program going when he took office.

  69. kakatoa says:

    George says- “Milton Friedman was a brilliant man. More people should be aware of his work.”

    I plan on rereading “Bright Promises, Dismal Performance An Economist’s Protest”, edited by William R. Allen, over the next few days. I thought I start with- The Nature of Regulation and Bureaucratic Behavior- 1981″ and then head back to his Playboy Interview (2/73) then onto “Economic Myths and Public Opinion (1/76).

    Thanks for the suggestion! Happy New Year.

  70. George says:

    I’m currently reading:

    But I keep getting interrupted by other reading and can’t seem to finish it.

  71. Pascvaks says:

    Ref. my “The more you know, the more you hurt.”

    That line didn’t come out right. It’s true in some respects I guess, but it didn’t fit in the comment. My chemistry must have been off. I’ve come to appreciate the chemistry of life and emotions and thoughts so much in my own life, that I’ve become a little careless and uninteligeable when I am OK, as even when I’m not;-) If I’d tried to live with this body in any era before this one, I’d probably have been locked up in a nuthouse (and/or died) about fourty years ago.

  72. Jason Calley says:

    @ George
    Brzezinski has said that the US actually began funding the Mujahadeen before the Soviets entered Afghanistan with the desired result being that the USSR would in fact invade.

    To quote Brzezinski: “According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.”

    @ E.M.
    You make good points about monopolies. I will think about this some more.

    As for the work to stop sociopaths, consider this; most people agree that we humans as a group are within our rights to confine someone who is a clear danger, for instance, disease carriers or criminally insane people. We now have technology to detect sociopaths not just by using subjective questionnaires, but actually measuring brain responses with PET scans. Can we test all children somewhere around high school and tattoo a scarlet letter “S” on the foreheads of sociopaths? I am not quite sure if I am joking or not.

  73. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    Daddy Bush was head of the CIA for a while. He wasn’t president when the Taliban was created, but he was, IMHO, part of the inner circle along with his friends, such as Jimmy Carter. (Hope no one really thinks they were on opposite sides of anything other than an election…)

    But yes, I was being a bit sloppy in what I was saying. Daddy Bush has a very long history of ‘messes’ that he assisted with, some as president, some before, and Baby Bush was involved in cleaning up some of the left overs…

    Time for dinner,,, more in a bit…

  74. George says:

    Well, actually, Bush was DCI for one year (1976). He was ambassador to China for 14 months, and before that UN Ambassador for 2 years (1970 and 1971).

    So honestly, he really wasn’t involved much in government during Carter’s term. He ran for President in 1980 against Reagan (called Reagan’s economic policies “voodoo economics” even though Reagan had a college degree in economics).

    The old man is given a lot more credit than he deserves, in my opinion. The guy was connected to money which is why he was often a handy guy to have around but not particularly sharp, in my opinion.

  75. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    I wish they were my points, but in truth I’m must ‘channeling’ my “Monopoly Practices” class of years gone by… Kind of surprised I remember so much of it, but such are the mysteries of The Gift. Whole chapters of “Monopoly optimization linear programming models” on tap. I think I still have the test book in a box somewhere… it would be interesting to see how closely the memory matches the printed text….

    Suffice it to say that there is a LARGE body of theory about how to price for optimal gain as a monopolist. I used to wonder if they taught me this as warning or as ‘best practice’. Now I’m coming to understand it was “manual” and I took it as warning…. My “bad”…

    @George:

    You do not need to be “sharp” to have political value. Daddy Bush gave Carter briefings as DCIA both as president elect and as newly sworn in. It was his CIA, even if Carter appointed someone else later, that had the plan already “on the books” to fill out his briefings.

    Proof? Not a shred. Just some odd coincidences of timing…

    That Baby Bush has as his major “achievements” things that just happen to match the Clean Up Committee of what was happening about the time Daddy Bush was “involved” (from CIA to VP to POTUS) is at best strongly suggestive. But I’d love to be at their Thanksgiving Dinner Table and ask…

    No, I don’t make a Big Black Line between Daddy Bush briefing Carter and when Zbiggy and Carter implement. Maybe I ought to, but I’ve just seen too much stuff that fits a pattern of “Pick either of my 2 detergents on the shelf” (and that I had that taught to me in an MBA marketing class probably doesn’t help… if these folks don’t know what MBA Marketing folks know, I’d be REAL surprised..)

    So no, I don’t think Daddy Bush cooked it all up on his own, but yes, I do think that Daddy Bush, Carter, and all the other Beltway Insiders are all on the same “team”. They are just fighting over who is on the first string and who is on the bench / 2nd string. Thus the “Bush and friends”. If I ever saw one team reverse the “socialist / control / power / tax” policies of the other, I might think there was a difference other than the color of the box that Procter and Gamble stuffed the same detergent into…

    Sidebar:

    For those wondering what I’m talking about with P&G: The thing taught in marketing classes is that you want competition to be between 2 or 4 of YOUR OWN BRANDS and not between you and some other company. So you merge, buy out, whatever other companies until you own the “shelf space” of the major brands. Then the consumer can choose to put money in your right pocket or your left…

    P&G brands include:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Procter_%26_Gamble_brands

    for soap & laundry products only:

    Ariel laundry detergent
    Dawn dishwashing detergent
    Downy fabric softener and dryer sheets
    Lenor fabric softener
    Gain fresh smelling liquid and powder laundry detergents, liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets
    Tide variety of liquid and powder laundry detergents, stain remover for laundry and stain remover pen
    Febreze Odor control/Freshener
    Bounce fabric-softener sheet for dryers
    Camay, a lightly scented bath soap
    Cascade dishwasher detergent
    Cheer laundry detergent, available in powder and liquid
    Daz Laundry Detergent
    Dreft laundry detergent. It was actually the first synthetic detergent used for delicate clothing and dishes when introduced in 1933 from Procter & Gamble.
    Era, Procter & Gamble’s first liquid laundry detergent
    Fairy dishwashing liquid, toilet soap, household soap, laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent
    Flash Household Cleaning
    Gain fresh smelling liquid dishwashing detergents
    Ivory soap
    Joy dishwashing liquid
    Mr. Clean household cleaning products
    Safeguard anti-bacterial soap and liquid anti-bacterial hand soap
    Swiffer cleaning products
    Tip powder laundry detergent
    Viakal Cleaning products

    So would that be Vialkal, Tip, Mr Clean, Ivory, Flash, Fairy, Era, Dreft, Cheer, Tide, Gain, or Ariel you would like to choose from that “competitive” product shelf? Ivory, you say? Well, it was such a STRONG competition, and that you spent so much time worrying about Ivory vs Dreft vs Gain is something our marketing department will be VERY worried about…

    Is it sarcasm? I’m not as sure as I once was…

    So yes, I was sloppy in my not making fine distinctions between Tide and Gain… and completely forgot to mention Cheer… I’m so sorry…

    /sarcoff> this time for sure ;-)

    What I’d really like to know is who was pulling Daddy Bush’s strings…

  76. George says:

    Well, it takes about a year to learn the job of Director of Central Intelligence. Anyone in that job for less than 3 years isn’t really going to accomplish anything. In fact, Bush didn’t accomplish anything because the agency was completely restructured under Carter. The HUMINT capability was gutted and the emphasis went to technical intelligence.

    What I want to know is who is pulling Obama’s strings. THAT is a guy that came out of nowhere with no experience at anything. He refuses to release his college transcripts, even refuses to release his thesis. Nobody remembers much of anything about him. There aren’t even any ex girlfriends. Nothing. The guy collects more campaign donations from the mortgage industry in less than one term in the Senate than Dodd accumulated in 30 years.

    If there ever was a President with a background that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, it’s Obama. I would never trust anyone out of Columbia University anywhere near the levers of government, that place is Commie U. Look at his associates. When we toss him out of office we are going to need to purge the department of not only everyone he appointed, but everyone his appointees hired.

  77. Pascvaks says:

    @George – “What I want to know is who is pulling Obama’s strings. THAT is a guy that came out of nowhere with no experience at anything.”

    Yet…….. his greatest argument for being re-elected is that he is so much more experienced now than anyone; political logic is twisty. George, I can’t see anyone in the field that the pundidiots think is ‘electable’ getting rid of anyone with a GS/SES rating. There’s only one who would try to do it, but they say he’s not ‘electable’.

    All – Well here we are, 1 January 2012*, we made it. Who would have thunk we’d be here today, gazing out over the beginning of the End of the World? Gives ya goose bumps, sort’a;-)

    * – Depending on which calender you use;-)

  78. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    Well, it looks like you are right about Carter owning that Monkey from the start:

    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Afghanistan/Afghanistan_CIA_Taliban.html

    Has the first covert funding happen while Daddy Bush was heading the Council On Foreign Relations. So still “in the stew” with his friends, but out of the direct policy line:

    The CIA’s anticommunist jihad
    President Jimmy Carter immediately declared that the invasion jeopardized vital U.S. interests, because the Persian Gulf area was “now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan. But the Carter administration’s public outrage at Russian intervention in Afghanistan was doubly duplicitous. Not only was it used as an excuse for a program of increased military expenditure that had in fact already begun, but the U.S. had in fact been aiding the mujahideen for at least the previous six months, with precisely the hope of provoking a Soviet response. Former CIA director Robert Gates later admitted in his memoirs that aid to the rebels began in June 1979. In a candid 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brezinski, Carter’s national security adviser, confirmed that U.S. aid to the rebels began before the invasion:
    According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan [in] December 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention…. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would….

    From the wiki on Bush:

    Between 1977 and 1979, he was a director of the Council on Foreign Relations foreign policy organization

    Still, he brackets the “go” point as Dir of CIA before and VP just after (January 1981)

    I’d placed the Russian invasion in the 1980 time period and allowed lag time for “aid” to be set up, putting it at the start of VP Bush’s term (and figuring the VP with CIA background would be running the dirty tricks department of the White House). But the above statement from the prior DCI shows they were already providing aid prior to the invasion (despite official contemporaneous denials)….

    And it looks like the Bright Idea Guy behind it was Zbiggy…

    There was, though, a kind of method in the madness: Brezinski hoped not just to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan, but to ferment unrest within the Soviet Union itself. His plan, says author Dilip Hiro, was “to export a composite ideology of nationalism and Islam to the Muslim-majority Central Asian states and Soviet Republics with a view to destroying the Soviet order.” Looking back in 1998, Brezinski had no regrets. “What was more important in the world view of history?… A few stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War”

    So he is the one who created Religious State Nationalism… and we get the blowback today…

    HOWEVER:

    I’m partly correct in that the Regan Years continued the operation and provided a lot of the funding:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reagan_Doctrine#Carter_administration_and_Afghanistan

    At least one component of the Reagan Doctrine technically pre-dated the Reagan Presidency. Following the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Carter administration began providing limited covert military assistance to Afghanistan’s mujahideen, in an effort to drive the Soviets out of the nation, or at least raise the military and political cost of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The policy of aiding the mujahideen in their war against the Soviet occupation was originally proposed by Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and was implemented by U.S. intelligence services. It enjoyed broad bipartisan political support.

    Although the CIA in general and Charlie Wilson, a Texas Congressman, have received most of the attention, the key architect of this strategy was Michael G. Vickers, a young Paramilitary Officer. Michael Pillsbury, a Pentagon official, implemented Reagan Doctrine initiatives including the Stinger missile decision. President Reagan’s Covert Action program has been given credit for assisting in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cyclone

    has the dates as:

    Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency program to arm, train, and finance the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, 1979 to 1989. The program leaned heavily towards supporting militant Islamic groups that were favored by neighboring Pakistan, rather than other, less ideological Afghan resistance groups that had also been fighting the Marxist-oriented Democratic Republic of Afghanistan regime since before the Soviet intervention. Operation Cyclone was one of the longest and most expensive covert CIA operations ever undertaken; funding began with $20–30 million per year in 1980 and rose to $630 million per year in 1987.

    So about $50 Million for Carter, a few $Billion for VP Bush.

    I suppose a case could be made that he was just wall paper as the VP; but I have to think he was involved as Regan was not much for ‘operations’ and more an ‘ideas’ guy…

    So I guess it comes down to:

    Did He and Zbiggy talk at the CFR? Did he do things as VP? Was there really a dime’s worth of difference between any of these folks on the issue?

    I do note that the financing and program end when Bush is president. Then again, that is when the Soviets pulled out. So did he start the ‘clean up’ that his son continued later?

    So I guess it really comes to choosing:

    Pick the idea man? Zbiggy?
    Pick the 1st pres? Carter?
    Pick the most funding Pres? Reagan?
    Pick his VP who worked with all these folks (and maybe bagman)? Bush?
    Pick the guy heading the CIA then? William Casey?

    Personally, I blame them all. These folks share blame for the thing they collectively created. Bush is not off the hook, he’s just sharing it with several others…

    @Pascvaks and George:

    Who? Just look up whoever groomed him and coached him in his earlier campaigns. I’d figure the party bosses of the Democrat Machine. They own him, he is their sock puppet.

    I think they were grooming him for a run after Hillery (or perhaps as his VP) and he upstaged her; leaving the party bosses scrambling (so they stuck Biden as his VP to be a ‘spare’ if they needed to have him leave….) and I’d wager Obama gets his directions through Biden and the Bosses…

    Now, who pulls THEIR strings?…. Pelosi and friends are in bed with whom?…

  79. George says:

    “Council On Foreign Relations”

    That organization is a private think tank, not a government agency. Their influence on policy is basically “Foreign Affairs” magazine.

  80. George says:

    Also note that Carter’s policy only lasted one year. The Russians only invaded Afghanistan after the US ran away from Iran rather than having some sort of constructive policy to move the country to maybe a constitutional monarchy with a Majlis that actually had some power. That might have forestalled the Ayatollahs coming to power to fill the vacuum created when we ran away.

    Once the Ayatollah’s gained power in Iran, the Russians took advantage of the situation and invaded Afghanistan. Carter’s $50 million was for one year. Reagan’s billion was over a period of 8 years. But yes, the rate of funds pouring into that effort was consistent with Reagan’s doctrine of supporting indigenous “freedom fighters” such as we saw with the “Contras” in Nicaragua.

    But it was all Carter’s fault, even the Russian invasion was Carter’s fault. People in Lebanon are dying even to current times due to Carter’s follies just as people are going to die in the future due to Obama’s policies in Egypt and Libya.

  81. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    Finally got time to watch that Stefan Molyneux video. Nice stuff.

    IMHO, a bit too far down the metaphor hole… but generally correct in insight.

    The major problem with the goal of a ‘truly free and peaceful’ society is that that is an oxymoron. A society can be free, or peaceful, but not both.

    Free societies inevitably fall to a Power Boss. It can be Rome invading Celtic Britain. Rockefeller crushing companies (and the use of hired thugs to beat up little guys who put up resistance, such as the Pullman Riots). The Mafia unless suppressed by some other power. Even just an organized China using predatory mercantilism to loot the country.

    Inevitably you get everything from Street Gangs to invasions.

    So there simply must be a method for coercion to defend the nation when needed and for enforcement of ‘freedom and safety’ internally.

    That was substantially what our constitution USED to mean… The minimal set of those things to be done, and nothing else.

    But how to keep power from growing? In theory we had checks on it. In reality we gave them up to the Progressive Movement. Once the people decided they wanted more, that was all it took.

    Now important balances are gone and we are WAY too far toward big government and way too far away from freedom. So we stagnate (and eventually collapse).

    But if we were a “free and peaceful” society with little of any government, we would rapidly be dominated by any of a long list of others. One of my favorite examples of this was some rock out in the Pacific. It was only above water part of the time. Some libertarian types decided to claim it and make a new country. Fine. But they wanted peace and no guns… So one day a couple of canoes full of Polynesians showed up and “conquered” them… IIRC, they claimed the “island” (and the concrete lump on it to make it above water all the time) for Samoa… or maybe Tahiti… As they were not an official country, they had nobody else to help them maintain their claim and “biggest weapons win”, even if it is just a couple of handguns and a paddle or two. IIRC it was during the 1970s.

    So you pretty much have to accept some kind of government. That then brings with it the precedent of taxation. And some method to enforce military service in times of national emergency. (The Celts had a wonderful tradition of letting folks choose what wars were worth being in. The Celts were pretty good against modest nations. Empires pretty much wiped out Celtic governments globally… It was Roman Discipline that beat the Celts. Individual fighters can not defeat a professional army. ) So again, we have existence proofs, not theory.

    So ‘smallest possible’ and with ‘national defense’ as a power. As much as possible distributed to the local or citizen level. IMHO, the Founders got it about as right as possible. I’d just leave out the commerce clause and insert that no representative could serve more than one term…. Oh, and that there was no power for government to contract debt nor provide any money to any non-governmental or foreign agency other than for purchase of goods and services rendered via bid. Maybe put in that “this constitution and treaties shall be the supreme law of the land, but no treaty may override nor modify any provision of the constitution nor may they deal with any area of government or commerce not enumerated to the national government”. Couple of other minor touch-ups, maybe. Like I’d leave out the post office… and the coining of money. Folks can weigh silver on their own…

    But that isn’t going to fix the problem. We’re basically ignoring the constitution as it stands, so more limits in it would do nothing to fix what is wrong.

    The basic problem is that people lust for power, and that corrupts them. Having NO power in government is unstable from external attack, having any power in government leads to inevitable growth and power grabs.

    This was kept in check when the states appointed senators. Without that, the government just becomes a game of Best Propaganda Machine wins, and that leads to the hand-outs and power lust and corruption and…

    Once more around the wheel…

  82. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    The CFR is far more than just a magazine publisher. It’s a place where many powerful folks meet to talk in secrecy and decide how governments ought to run. Even the wiki admits they are a locus for world government idea and have interlocking directors relationships with many companies. As long as Bush was running it, he was talking with folks in power.

    Carter only ran his policy for a year, but it stayed in force and was continued (the Afghan part) under Reagan for many more years. Thus the large funding from Reagan / Bush to the Arab radicals.

    It was not just a Carter thing or it would have ended in Jan 1981.

    Look, I’m not defending Carter NOR Bush. All parties involved were stupid. From about ’78 with first light on the idea through to 1989 when it was finally being shut down. ALL of the involved folks took turns screwing this pooch. None get a free pass because “the other guy thought of it” or “he dared me”. There is also blame to go around to everyone in congress who voted for this kind of thing or did NOT try to stop it.

    Nor am I interested in playing “who’s the biggest jerk” between Carter and Bush. I generally think it was Carter, but not by much. Carter was mostly sins of commission (i.e. screw ups) while Bush had more sins of omission (i.e. passive stupidity) but failure to fix is as bad as breaking things in the first place.

    Per Iran:

    The idea that we could keep that place a puppet any longer was the broken idea. The Shaw was going to be replaced and us enforcing a new Shaw on the folks would not have done any good. Us putting dictators in countries and thinking we had the right was the causal bit anyway.

  83. George says:

    I agree that the Shah was toast but we could have influenced a transition to something better rather than simply run away. The thing with me is, I don’t see HW Bush as being all that forceful at doing much of anything short of his “thousand points of light”. He had the charisma of a garden slug. Over the long term, and I mean that it may not come out for another 50 years, I believe that the younger Bush will be seen as a greater effector of positive change in the world. HW Bush to me was just coasting on Reagan’s legacy.

    George HW Bush was a liberal “cucumber sandwich” Republican. He couldn’t even keep Newt Gingrich in line in the House. Gingrich undermined him every chance he got toward the end of his administration.

    I don’t agree with George W Bush’s policy of just going along with whatever Congress decided but that was his ethic. He basically saw the legislative branch as the will of the people and generally wasn’t one to veto legislation. He had only 12 vetoes in his entire administration. That was the least since Warren G. Harding (compared to 635 vetoes for FDR). He should have stood up against Congress on some of their spending programs but he didn’t.

    He was in a crappy position being handed an economy that was imploding from the tech meltdown followed 9 months later by 9/11 and then the anthrax attack. But we won’t know for many years the results of programs he put into place, though I wish he hadn’t supported the creation of the DHS and the TSA.

  84. kakatoa says:

    George- I was doing a bit of research on John Adams, former U. S. President, last night to review his thoughts on Quis custodiet ipsos custodes- “Who Shall watch the watchers themselves.” I was looking for an example, or two, to provide some context to his concerns on the subject of administrative law and how it can go a bit to far. It didn’t take too long to locate some context from a contemporary of ours (who just so happens to have the same name as our former president): “Those with an institutional responsibility for safety can always find one more thing that could happen. Their task is open ended. The above example of bureaucratic risk aversion is a small one of no great consequence – on its own. But it is endlessly repeated and wastes an enormous amount of money. Many things “could happen” – the precautionary principle allied to a vivid imagination can bankrupt any government.” http://www.john-adams.co.uk/2011/07/08/reducing-zero-risk/

    J. Adams thoughts melded rather well with M. Friedman’s- “Regulatory Schizophrenia….. these have all tended to substitute the judgment of bureaucrats for the judgment of the market, and hence have been both anti-free enterprise and anti-existing business.” After noticing our contemporary Adams was an expert in risk management I found his thoughts on the precautionary principle of interest- “Unfortunately the degree of agreement is not a satisfactory criterion for resolving scientific disagreements. Had the climatological consensus of the mid-1970’s prevailed, and been attached to Zimmerman’s version of the precautionary principle, governments around the world world have taken immediate action to warm the world up.” http://john-adams.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2006/Zimmerman%20for%20nature.pdf

    It’s all your fault George, I wouldn’t of headed on my path of discovery last night without your suggestion about M. Friedman. A final thought on risk from Adams that leads us to the political realm- ……..”The second, even larger, category consists of virtual risks, risks about which science confesses ignorance, or about which reputable scientists disagree in ways that mystify the rest of us.
    This is the foggy realm in which the trade associations ply their trades and do battle with their opponents. In this realm doubts are sometimes manufactured – by both sides – but more commonly genuine ignorance is exploited to fit the agenda of the lobbyist. True uncertainty is liberating; everyone is freed to argue from belief, conviction and prejudice. For those seeking to manage individual directly perceptible risks, or virtual risks, there is little the frequentist can do to help.”

    John Adams is professor of geography, University College London. and the last quote is from- http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=175819&sectioncode=1

  85. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M.
    Your comments re Stefan Molyneux, and also regarding general principles of government make me suspect that you and I have been following similar thought tracks for the past decade or so.

    I admit it; the moral and philosophical basis for free market anarchism (a system which is more and more being referred to as “voluntarism) seems to me to be the most ethical to which we could aspire. However — is it in fact workable in the real world? I would have to agree that, no, it is not. The closest that history seems to show is minarchy combined with strong property rights enforcement. The problem of foreign government attack has not yet, in my opinion, been convincingly solved by anything other than an equal government defense. I wish it were not so, but there it is, and THAT leaves us with the problem of how to prevent governmental metastases. The use of a clear, plain language, paper contract to form a government (ie, the US Constitution) worked quite well for almost a hundred years, and pretty well for another hundred years afterward. And then it didn’t.

    The only thing that seems to work every time is the decentralization of means of force, at least as long as it is combined with a population willing to use it. That is not a solution that I wish to see invoked. Let us hope that the open market of ideas spawned by digital information technology will offer up something fundamentally new to solve this problem.

    Oh! I agree with your proposed changes to a future constitution, especially your pointing out the changes wrought by the 17th Amendment, but let me add one more idea inspired by the Icelandic Commonwealth government of about a thousand years ago. In the current system, we vote for and elect representatives from our area, our district. I say, let us choose anyone we wish — anyone at all! — for our Representative. Our Representatives then vote as they do now, but each vote is weighted based on the number of supporters that that Representative has. You can change your Representative at any time. If Sam Hill better represents what you believe, you go online and change your proxie to him. That way, Representatives are encouraged to actually represent the people, and there is never any need for a recall either.

    There were quite a few good ideas in the old Icelandic system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_Commonwealth

    And as a reminder of just how crazy large governments and large cultures can get, perhaps this will inspire a shrug or a laugh: http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2011/12/31/you-might-want-sit-down

  86. Mark Miller says:

    @kakatoa:

    I’ve been having arguments similar to this with people in my area who like the precautionary principle. My read of it is it’s generally an argument in favor of the status quo ante. It assumes that it’s possible for humans to find out about every risk that exists for a particular activity, and to develop absolutely safe measures against them, as if it’s possible to eliminate all risk. This is a fantasy. There’s no such thing as “no risk.” There’s only relative risk, and a lot of times people have no idea the risks they’re taking, but nevertheless feel comfortable with. Things just tend to work out okay when they do them, but they have no idea how lucky they are.

    It all reminds me of a childhood mind game that other kids used to try to play against me (and it sometimes worked), where they’d try to convince me that I was eating something gross, like monkey brains. It wasn’t real, of course, but once I started thinking, rationalizing about what I was eating–because I didn’t really know–how it looked, its consistency, etc., I could convince myself that they might be right, and I’d decide to throw it in the trash.

    The thing that bugs me about the precautionary principle is it doesn’t need evidence of risk. It just needs a suspicion of risk. I’ve seen numerous examples in my life of regulatory agencies getting involved in investigating manufacturing/chemical plants, where it’s claimed that there’s a high incidence of cancer. People claim that there’s something in the water, or a foul smell in the air that causes headaches and nausea, and that this must be the culprit. So-called experts come in and say yes, there’s something here, but it’s too expensive to investigate and link cause and effect (or not). So, using the precautionary principle we’ll just *assume* that the plant is causing these problems until it can be shown that it isn’t. It excuses ignorance, and takes the attitude, “Best fear the unknown.”

    Since it’s too expensive to investigate, the evidence that it isn’t causing problems is not forthcoming. So the business gets harassed by government and activists into oblivion, all based on a suspicion. We might as well be burning witches at the stake because of freak weather (that actually happened during the Middle Ages). Years later contrarians investigate the claims of illness and find that the incidents of cancer were no more than in the general population. So the probability that the plant was the problem is small. It all becomes water under the bridge, though.

    Secondly, the status quo ante is often the worst option, because people forget that existence was less safe before the advancements they’re shunning came along. People take our relative safety for granted. One of the best promoters of this idea is Ann McElhinney, who made the documentary, “Not Evil Just Wrong.”

    @Jason Calley:

    we vote for and elect representatives from our area, our district. I say, let us choose anyone we wish — anyone at all! — for our Representative. Our Representatives then vote as they do now, but each vote is weighted based on the number of supporters that that Representative has. You can change your Representative at any time.

    This strikes me as just a version of direct democracy, which history has shown doesn’t work. The uncomfortable truth I bring up to people is that people need to be paying attention to what our government is doing, and spend time understanding it. That’s tough when people are so busy. Their primary focus is on work and family. Politics is some obscure and ugly business that most people want nothing to do with. They tend to think that by watching the news they’re doing their due diligence. Sometimes that works, but often I find that watching the news is confusing, because there are a lot of details that correspondents skip over. They try to provide a summary, but it assumes a lot of knowledge on the part of the viewer, which is unlikely. A lot of times the analysis that’s given is biased as well, though it tends to fit a lot of people’s preconceived notions of how things should work, so it’s accepted.

    There are some ideas I’ve heard recently that I like. If we make structural changes to our government, that might help get us on the way to something better. One of them I’ve heard about is “Stossel’s rule,” something John Stossel at Fox Business has talked about, that for every regulation a legislator wants to create, they must repeal two other ones. Another is an idea from Gov. Rick Perry, of having a part-time legislature. As long as congress is in session, they’re going to be under the impression that they need to be doing something. The less they do, the better, though right now that’s like closing the barn door after the livestock has gone. I’d love it if we had an activist budget cutting congress that would cut $400 billion this year, baseline to the difference, and then repeat for another 3-4 years, until the yearly deficit was down to the 2008 level. That still wouldn’t give us a balanced budget, but it would make the public debt situation a lot more manageable. Given the current conventional political wisdom, though, that would be “radical.” Never mind the $1 trillion increase in yearly deficits that came before it, which was achieved within 2 years. No, that’s not radical. Uh-uhhhh… There are no words for my frustration with this.

  87. Mark Miller says:

    @E.M. Smith:

    Re. your comments about freedom, gays, race issues, etc.

    I’ve gone back and forth on this, though I agree with you about religious institutions and hiring practices. The question for me is how far we extend that. If someone’s a devout Christian, and they believe the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin, and they want to only hire people of good character, should they have the right to not hire gays just because they’re gay? What about the owner of a rental property? Should they have the right to judge character on this basis for their tenants? Just in my personal view, I think there needs to be some restraint on the right to refuse entry in those cases, because gay people need to be able to make a living, put a roof over their head, and do other things we all need to do to exist. I make an exception for religious institutions, because of what you talked about, and gay people can find work elsewhere. It’s not like the local church is the only employer in town.

    To balance this, I agree with what Rand Paul has said with regard to the Civil Rights Act. He said that the non-discrimination aspect of it should only apply to the federal government, because the part of it that reaches down into the states and restricts what businesses can and can’t do is too big of a stretch of the Interstate Commerce power the federal government has, and it’s distinct from the civil rights that extend from the Bill of Rights down to the states, though that’s a different discussion. I think he has a sound legal footing in saying that. This makes people uncomfortable, though, because they think this will “take us back” to pre-1970s where racism was institutionalized in state laws and commercial practice. I agree with Paul on this, too, in that I think our culture has come to a point where that would be unacceptable. If any business tried to discriminate in a way that was socially unacceptable, then the free press would expose them, and the community could exert pressure, using our right of free speech, and boycotts, for the business to change its ways. That’s what should happen. The same goes for discriminatory laws at the state level. These things need to be worked out at the state and local level.

  88. Mark Miller says:

    @E.M. Smith:

    Re. your comments on why people choose slavery over freedom

    You might find anthropology interesting. There are a set of what the field calls “universals” that anthropologists have found among people from, I guess, all cultures. One of them is a finding that humans are hierarchical by nature. There are those who are ambitious, and assert their right to lead and dominate over others, and there are those who supplicate, who follow the leader.

    Freedom is really, really tough. It requires people to restrain their tendency to “follow the leader,” and find their own way to lead themselves, and to understand that they need to restrain those who would assert leadership and try to dominate them. Our society is really an artificial creation. It requires an ability to get beyond what comes naturally to us. One way we’ve done that is establish a culture of independence, where people have the space to realize their own power, and what they can accomplish on their own. Once they get a sense of that, they can become jealous of it, and do not easily let someone say, “You can’t do that. Let me do it for you.” The problem is, and this where I have a sense progressives step in, is when we stumble and fail, though as Milton Friedman has said, almost every time there’s been an economic collapse, it’s been caused by government policy, or some government action. Progressives try to convince us that failure is fatal, that it proves that we are wrong, and they are right, that they need to do it for us. Whenever *they* fail, they never acknowledge it, blaming someone or something else. That’s the trick they play: “You’re the problem. Not me.” This is how they assert their authority over us.

    Reading Stanley Kurtz’s book, “Radical In Chief” might be instructive as well. I’ve heard him speak about his book, though I haven’t finished it. He said that Obama hung around in socialist circles for many years, contrary to his own claims. Kurtz talked about his research and claims this is based on solid documented evidence. Kurtz said that these socialists thrive in crisis situations, and that their modus operandi is to provoke crises. The reason, that I can surmise, is that in a crisis, people tend to give up their differences and look to government as the savior. When that happens, the government gets pretty much carte blanche to do whatever it wants. I gotta admit, I’ve fallen for this myself…remembering 9/11… Not to say I think our government somehow created the attack so it could take away our freedom. I’m saying that the nature of the beast is to do so, given the opportunity. The attack was just such an occasion. Even so, it’s difficult for me to say how much of what was put in place in government because of that should be rolled back. I have a feeling it was a contributor to what has enabled the current government to do what it’s done, and I fear we are losing our republic as a result.

  89. plenarchist says:

    @Jason Calley – “The use of a clear, plain language, paper contract to form a government (ie, the US Constitution) worked quite well…”

    I believe freedom is a possibility and humanity deserves better than what we’ve gotten so far. Might sound crazy, but I’ve been considering a new type of free society I call a plenarchy that is in fact based on a contract that people sign to become citizens and would be voluntaristic. I intend for it to be implementable, sustainable, and very corruption resistant. You might find it interesting. I’ve just started but have several posts up. If you (or anyone) are interested and have a minute, visit my blog at plenarchist.wordpress.com and leave a comment… you can be the first!

  90. George says:

    I believe the problem is that the franchise is given too easily. When we were founded, only people who owned real property had the right to vote. This is because only people who owned property paid taxes. Today I would change it to be only people who pay net tax should have the right to vote. If you pay no tax, sorry, you don’t vote.

  91. Jason Calley says:

    @ Mark Miller
    “This strikes me as just a version of direct democracy, which history has shown doesn’t work.”

    Well, yes, but then again, any representative government is a version of direct democracy. The Republic of the US Constitution is a version of direct democracy, but one in which the people choose other people to vote in their place, and one in which certain issues are not allowed to be open to legislation in the first place. I do think the basic idea of allowing people to switch their representatives has some merit. How many times have people complained about disliking how their Congressman voted but not being able to anything substantive about it. maybe the system should have a limited (say, 500?) representatives, with those being composed of the 500 most popular representatives, based on number of people who have signed on with them. Anyway, there are countless ways of designing a representative government, and as much as I like the old Constitution, the fact is, as Lysander Spooner pointed out, ““The Constitution has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been unable to prevent it.” Consequently, I have no problem with theorizing how it might be better altered.

    You are right, though, that direct democracy does not work — but the same can be said for other forms as well. The only points of differentiation I have found important concerning governmental forms are these two: How much personal freedom does it allow? and How long can it reasonably last before it self destructs — as they all will sooner or later. Those two characteristics are usually in conflict with each other. The old US Republic seems to me to be about as good as I have seen in the last few hundred (or maybe even the last few thousand!) years. Still, in the end, it was taken over by sociopaths, the result being that today, members of the US government claim the right to arrest you without warrant, charge or trial, and to hold or execute you at their decision. This is not the characteristic of a nation of free men.

    Among a population of basically honest and honorable people, there would be any number of decent governments possible of implementation — but as always, the problem is, not what is possible among good people, but what is possible when good people have a leavening of criminal people. The only traditional solution has been periodic social collapse and revolution. I think we may be able to do better. But how does one attack a rogue elephant — or donkey — which has taken over the levers of power? A rogue elephant (or a rabid donkey!) is not a small opponent! More and more, I think the best way to fight a rogue animal is to NOT wait until it is grown, but to search it out and hobble it when it is still young and small.

    @ Mark
    “Freedom is really, really tough.”

    Yes! It is. For many of us it is the thing that makes life worth pursuing, but it is tough. I would not complain if there were a system that allowed 80% of the people to live as they wish, as domesticated humans — as long as it left the rest of us, the ones who want freedom, alone. Just give me cheap power and spaceflight…

  92. Mark Miller says:

    @Jason Calley:

    I accept some of what you say, though I disagree that our form of government represents a form of direct democracy. The idea was that representatives shouldn’t listen to 100% of what their constituents tell them. That’s why they get terms in office for a period of time, no matter what their constituents think of them. The Founders loathed direct democracy, because they considered it mob rule. One moment the mob wants this. The next it wants the opposite. It’s fickle and contradictory in its desires. All it would enable in their mind was a tyranny of the majority. A great saying I heard is that direct democracy is two lions and a goat deciding what’s for dinner. I understand that what we have at the moment is rather like direct democracy, in the sense that congress has a tendency to not calmly consider legislation, but just wants all or nothing–rush it through, but this is only because the Senate has been acting more like the House of Representatives lately. It’s not a direct democracy in the sense that it’s acting on the wishes of the majority all the time, though. There are plenty of issues that the majority of Americans support right now that the congress is not acting on.

    Thomas Jefferson probably had it right that the Constitution should only last for a generation (about 20 years), and then the following generations should be allowed to abolish it and come up with their own form of government. The thing was, I think the Founders also worried that following generations would lose track of what it meant to have a government that protected freedom, so they were wary of this idea. I suspect they preferred having an elite that was cognizant of the Constitution, and would act in the interests of freedom. Uh, that worked for a while, but…I’m thinking the elite now have no interest in protecting freedom at all.

    The Constitution only has force if the people are conscious of it, and believe in it, and will thereby elect people to office who also believe in it. The Founders were conscious of this, too, because they purposely wrote it in language the lay person could understand back then (not so much now), hoping that the people would act as a check against a government that wanted to take their freedom away.

    As Judge Learned Hand said, though, freedom will only survive so long as it “lives in the hearts of men. If it dies there, no constitution can save it.”

    I’ve come to the conclusion that in the end all law is political. It has never been absolute. The legal profession has a way of locking legal language down to specific meanings, but as we’ve seen, even that has drift. For example, the Supreme Court ruled several years ago that the Clean Air Act allows the EPA to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. A legislator who was around when congress passed the Clean Air Act protested, saying that the law was never meant to cover a gas like CO2. Well, now it does!

    A similar thing happened with the General Welfare clause of the Constitution. It was established at the time the Constitution was ratified that “the general welfare,” as it was stated, and in its proper context, was equivalent to “equal protection under the law” for the states. What it was saying was that congress could not favor a state or group of states over all the others, when carrying out its constitutional duties. Federal law and action had to treat all states equally, under the same circumstances, in the interest of “the general welfare” of all the states. It was a way of saying that representatives should not just consider the interests of their own state, but the federation of states as a whole as well. Well, in the 1930s this got turned on its head to mean, “The federal government shall act in the interests of the general welfare of *the American people,*” which allowed a federal welfare program, Social Security, Medicare, etc. Very different! Interestingly this is the way Alexander Hamilton argued it, but he lost the argument at the time. I guess he won in posterity.

    Jefferson was suspicious of Hamilton, and I think with good reason. Hamilton believed in the American founding, and he had some good ideas that helped the new country. Jefferson thought that if Hamilton had his way, though, he’d end up turning America into another version of England, the country they had just fought a revolution against! From what I’ve seen, progressives have a soft spot for Hamilton to this day.

  93. George says:

    The primary weakness of our current system is the Senate. That house of Congress was designed to be the voice of the state governments. It has been transformed (thanks to the “Progressive Era” movement of the early 20th century) into the house of Congress controlled by the political machine that controls the major metropolitan areas of the state.

    Whoever controls Wilmington controls Delaware’s Senate delegation. Whoever controls Atlanta controls Georgia’s. Whoever controls Chicago controls the Illinois delegation.

    We need to return to a system where the Senators are elected by the state legislature. The people already have their house. The state governments need to get their house back.

  94. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    The states can change that by simply repealing that amendment. Why they do not eludes me…

    BTW, I see Daddy Bush as the guy who probably showed Regan around town and did the introductions and ‘suggested’ things. The “government guy” who was the instrument Regan used. As to how much he also influenced (in a “yes Minister” kind of way), we can only speculate…

    BOTH Bushes did nothing to slow the spending express…

    @Krakatoa:

    We need more Adams’s….

    @Mark:

    The problem with The Precautionary Principle is that it demands that you “prove a negative” to avoid being shot.

    It is, in essence: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” Yes, or No?

    @Jason Calley:

    Yup, I suspect “fellow traveler”. As an Econ major I’ve been pondering Political Economy since just about forever. First got interested in the constitution in High School. (Yes, we actually studied how our government really worked and what it said… I REALLY owe the Mormon influence in that town…)

    Like the Icelandic ideas. Would get rid of gerrymandering too… I’d like to see a tricameral government. House, Senate, Langoliers. One house devoted just to erasing crap… New laws go through all three. Old laws get a periodic run through just one ;-)

    Yes, it is unfortunately true that there isn’t a good solution. The problem is that many folks ARE evil, many more are corruptible, and a whole lot more are greedy. It is an attempt to remove human nature by a structure of humans…

    Best solution is to just have the absolute minimum needed to stop folks from doing bad things (like wars and theft of various kinds… especially theft of liberties…) and some kind of strict limits on growth / size. IMHO.

    A brave population willing to defend that posture by force of arms seems essential, if not always possible…

    @Mark:

    It is my opinion that if an individual owns their own business they ought to be free to hire, or not, anyone they like for any reason. They ought to be free to buy or sell to or from anyone they want, for any reason. IF they are a public company, then they must NOT impress personal beliefs onto a PUBLIC PERSON, and those must reflect the general population.

    I think there are enough companies to keep all the gays hired… Besides, they can always start their own company and only hire gays… I know I’d hire them (in some cases preferentially) for a variety of things.

    BTW, prior to not too long ago that WAS the law of the land and life worked fairly well. We even had a thriving black business class as they has an effective monopoly in black dominated geographies. That class was crushed by “government help”… Not a hypothetical, BTW…

    The pursuit of “fairness” leads to equal tyranny.

    On the issue of anthro, yes, I’ve been interested in it for years. Both physical and cultural.

    Per “socialist in chief”: No doubt about it. He was raised and groomed by radical sects of socialism verging on anarcho-communists. Yes, they learned long ago that ‘crisis’ was the root password. Their key doctrine speaks of the need for ‘revolution’…

    @Plenarchist:

    When I get time…

    BTW, the biggest issue will be finding some dirt to call your own so you can become a sovereign government. Then expect to need an army to defend it. (That’s been the historical pattern for anyone wanting to set up their own cage… if you DO get out, someone takes your stuff and your country.)

    @Mark & Jason:

    Um “Direct Democracy” is where each PERSON votes, directly. By definition, any representative doing the voting makes it a Representative Democracy, not Direct.

    Other than that “carry on” ;-)

    (BTW, democracies are simply not stable. Republics only somewhat better. Instead of 50 years to implode, they usually take 200 to 500… Empires and Kingdoms can last longer, but with periodic upheavals on death of the leader…)

    BTW, Law is very good at “locking things down” AND at having carefully crafted ambiguity. That is where it differs from computer programming. Law can say “All must be equally taxed” and leave open the question of if that means equal dollars, equal percentages, equal pain, equal rules-but disequal access to accountants and tax dodges, or…

  95. gallopingcamel says:

    david (07:24:49) :
    Somehow I overlooked your very interesting comment.

    Ayn Rand experienced socialism in Russia and capitalism in the USA. We all know which one she preferred.

    I can’t keep you riveted for 1200 pages so here is my short version:

    People whose motivation is the mighty dollar become rich but in the process do a great deal of good for mankind. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs never pretended to care about you but they improved your life.

    Socialists are people who claim to “Care” about you; they promise to provide for your every need. They don’t mention the down side which is submission and poverty.

  96. plenarchist says:

    @EM – “BTW, the biggest issue will be finding some dirt to call your own so you can become a sovereign government.”

    True. That’s the biggest challenge but I’ve got some thoughts on how that can be accomplished. Opportunity might present itself as established governments buckle under weight of insolvency, corruption, and as people become more desperate for something new. Traditional states don’t work and I think for reasons that tinkering with the Constitution simply won’t fix.

    Like your blog and respect your opinion so looking forward to any comments you have. Thanks.

  97. E.M.Smith says:

    @Plenarchist:

    I suggest looking into the concept of “floating countries”. While the proposed scale is small island size, the legal concept ought to fit a smaller boat too…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/money/tax/is-it-a-ship-is-it-a-floating-country–or-just-the-jet-sets-favourite-tax-dodge-743450.html

  98. p.g.sharrow says:

    Floating city concept is interesting. I was once asked to develop a doable floating city for a film project to star Dennis Weaver to be a pilot for a SiFi series. About 6 to 7 billion dollars in 1988 money by my figures. Included international airport and harbor. 4 small nuclear power plants for steerage. about 250feet of draft to minimize any sea action. Mainly rode the ocean currents. Pity the film producer did not get his money together. The science and engineering would have been fun on a science fiction movie. 8-) pg

  99. George says:

    That seems a bit expensive to me. I would use something a little different. Maybe a submerged atoll with nothing or only very little breaking the surface that isn’t claimed by anyone. Use that as the base onto which you build your “city”. A nuclear reactor for energy and water desalinization would be the first thing in, maybe on a ship. Would need to be sturdy to withstand storms.

    I’m thinking something similar to what was done at Minerva Reefs:

    http://articles.privateislandsonline.com/island-industry/republic-of-what/

  100. Jason Calley says:

    @ George
    You may be interested in a short novel by Bob Murphy, titled “Minerva.” This page http://www.strike-the-root.com/user/199 has links (scroll down slightly) to the various chapters. It is his story of a free market anarcho-capitalistic society set up on its own island. The ending (spoiler alert!) is approximately what E.M. would predict.

  101. plenarchist says:

    @EM – http://seasteading.org/

    Peter Thiel of PayPal fame is putting money into the concept. I’ve looked at this in the past. It’s one of those ideas that sounds good but when you drill down, it has many problems wrt viability.

    But frankly, the plenarchy is a model for the world. A form of social order intended to infect and morph nations from the inside like a virus. That if people want to live in a sustainable free society, they can adopt principles of plenarchy and change their government. Could happen… bloodlessly is the hope. I think many many people are sick of the corrupt state and through the Internet, can come together to go in a new direction.

    Our current model of state (constitutional republic) needs to be thrown on the garbage heap of failed forms along with monarchy, dictatorship, empire, etc. Humanity deserves better in this age of Internet and globalization… and potential for self-inflicted mass extinction. The medieval geopolitical game of Risk needs to be retired so people can live in peace and freely. And we can’t afford to let the oligarchs form their world order (which they are moving to do now quickly) or humanity will be doomed to servitude.

  102. adolfogiurfa says:

    There is an order out there and it has been replicated many times in the past. Greek democracies alternated, in a 200 year cycle with monarchies or autocracies…perhaps the Jose´s barycenter cycle of 178.9 years. If so we are about to witness the following “turn of the screw” ….

  103. plenarchist says:

    @adolfo – Old cycles need to be broken. Humans are more educated now and have more access to each other than at any time in history. There is *no* reason other than lack of direction… plenarchy solves that ;)… and the will to change that is keeping humanity from entering the throes of global despotism.

    And given nuclear war and emerging biological and nano technologies… the statists will surely take us down the road to extinction eventually. Even now pols like Santorum want to go to war with Iran.

    Iran is an ally of China and Russia… You don’t hear about the risks in the media at all. Iraq was a rogue state and US puppet at the time of the Iraq wars… Iran has 75 million people, is a resource center for two nuclear powers, and of course a principle Islamic nation. The US gov would have us embark on a *very* dangerous path if it attacks Iran.

    And for what? Not for the sake of the American people… There are *other people* in control of the most powerful state in world history and we don’t know what their agenda is other than presumably world domination. Americans don’t appreciate that the US military is larger than the rest of the world’s armies combined. The US *Coast Guard* is almost twice the size than the Iranian navy, yet Iran is portrayed as a threat. The US is the only nation in the world that can project *substantial* military power globally. And that military power is *not* under the control of the American people. Very dangerous for us all…

  104. Mark Miller says:

    @George:

    Re. getting the Senate back in the hands of the states

    I agree. I don’t think the Affordable Care Act would’ve passed the Senate had the chamber been accountable to state governments. The primary reason the state governments are suing to stop the implementation of the law is they say it will bankrupt them. That’s fine for the federal government, because then when they do go insolvent, the federal government can bail them out…with strings attached, keeping them on a tighter leash. With their budgets out of their control, they’ll be at the tender mercies of the federal government.

    In ’10 we had a senate race in CO in which the Republican candidate floated the idea of repealing the 17th Amendment. The Democrats went to town on him saying, “He’s going to take away your vote!”… Demagoguery as usual… He backed off, saying he was talking to a group that supported the idea, but he didn’t personally support it. He lost the election.

    It’s really difficult to push for this, I think because people are used to voting for senators now, and they don’t understand the destruction this enables. The only way I can see this changing is if there were scandal after scandal in the Senate, occurring election after election. Then voters might lose their confidence that they’re able to responsibly pick senators, and might choose to return that responsibility to the states. That’s apparently how we got what we got. The history I was told was that corrupt legislatures picked bad/corrupt senators, and this was a reform to prevent that. Given what I’ve learned about progressives, though, this could’ve all been made up to push for the change. Maybe there were examples of corrupt senators here and there, but was it really epidemic enough to make such a change?

    I remember when I was in my 20s wondering why we voted for senators in the staggered fashion we use. It didn’t make sense to me. I could understand voting for my congressional representative, but not two different senators, two years apart. “What difference does it make?” Then I learned about the 17th Amendment, and that cleared things up somewhat. We just transferred the system of voting in senators the state legislators had used into the general voting public. It still didn’t make sense to me. “We effectively have statewide representation through our congressional districts,” I thought to myself. “Why do we (the people) need this twice?” Your explanation makes very good sense of it. I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

    Another factor that contributes to what you’re talking about was the Reynolds v. Sims decision of 1964, in which the Supreme Court reversed its prior stance that reapportionment was purely a political matter. The decision said that voting districts had to be proportional to the overall population, to “preserve equal protection under the law” for politicians, which is odd reasoning, considering the other things about electoral politics the courts don’t get involved in. In other matters like voter fraud, political corruption, etc., the courts have ruled that there can be criminal/civil consequences for these things, but they don’t reverse an election because of them.

    Before this decision, rural districts used to get greater weight, and greater political influence in reapportionment, even though their populations were smaller than urban districts.

    Given your insight into the 17th Amendment, I wonder what you think of the move to have states essentially invalidate the influence of the Electoral College. By my last count, 6 states have signed legislation saying that if a set of states equalling or exceeding 270 electoral votes passes the same measure, then these states will apportion their electoral votes in subsequent presidential elections according to what the national vote total is, rather than according to how their own residents voted. I don’t like this idea, because I see our current electoral system representing the idea that the federal government is primarily supposed to be a creature of the states, not the general public. I respect the idea that the Founders had, that they didn’t trust the general public to vote directly for president. I’ve had my suspicions about why this would be bad for smaller states, but I have not been able to articulate that well. Ironically, the main thing I think it would change is it would diminish the influence of the major metropolitan areas in states, which typically dominate the vote within their own states, and it would disempower certain minority interests in each state. It would aggregate the vote for president into a pure majoritarian system, and minority interests could be safely ignored. It would also make it easier for presidential campaigns to work out who they needed to appeal to, because they could map out the country purely on the basis of demographics, and not have to subdivide them into state boundaries.

    This all feels like “describing symptoms,” though. I’m unable to get into the heads of the group that’s promoting this, what their interest is in it. Do you have any ideas?

  105. Mark Miller says:

    @George:

    Re. When we started out, only those who owned real property had the right to vote.

    True.

    I read recently that Madison actually wanted something different. He wanted everybody to be able to vote for the House, but only real property owners to be able to vote for the Senate. He was conscious of the issue of economic class. He had seen how in past republics, eventually what happened was you had a majority of landless people, and a minority of people who owned land, and the majority would vote to loot the property owners. He wanted to prevent that by having a “people’s house” where everyone would have a voice, but reserve the Senate for people who owned property, to act as a counterweight to this tendency. I haven’t confirmed this yet, but it sounded like he envisioned that the Senate would also have been proportional to population. It didn’t work out this way in the constitutional convention. The smaller states said, “We *must* have representation.” As a result, the Senate was put in the hands of the states, with two senators per state. Madison didn’t like this idea at all. I can’t remember what his principled objection to it was. He was almost going to walk out over it. Had he done that, since he represented the Virginia delegation, the convention would’ve been over, and our government, and indeed I think our history, would’ve turned out very different.

  106. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    Now THAT would be a fun gig! Wonder why we have Star Gate Atlantis with a floating city, but no show about a floating independent country on earth … hmmm….

    @George:

    Just get a used / surplus “jack up rig” and park it over your submerged dirt. Already has all facilities built in…

    @Jason Calley:

    Yet more reading ;-)

    @Adolfo:

    So, we’re headed for an autocracy? Oh Boy…

    @Plenarchist:

    Yup. That’s the problem. How things unfold will be the surprise…

    @Mark Miller:

    Democracy is unstable. The system being destroyed, one bit at a time, was to prevent Democracy. What do the Democrats push? Democracy.

    So, you ask, “why?”: I see two possibilities.

    1) Stupidity. They like the idea of democracy and do not know the history and how it ends. They have all the old greed, desire for graft, etc. that leads all democracies to fail.

    2) Malice: They want the failure so they can benefit.

    IMHO, the answer is #2. There is one “fact” that the “stupidity” answer fails to cover. The folks “pushing it” are largely progressives / socialists and not really interested in actual democracy.

    They want the ‘symbolic’ democracy that lets the proletariat take over, then they want to institute the “central planning socialism” that is their actual goal.

    I did a posting on this some time back when I had an “ah ha” moment…

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/progressively-corrupting-democracy/

    Enjoy…

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