Now Entering Kleptocracy

I’d thought it a made up word. One I’d heard before, mostly as a lark. Yet is has a Wiki:

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

so it must be real… or at least more real than I’d expected. That usually means I’m “late to the party”. Which would not surprise me, as I’m prone to expecting moral and honest behaviour from folks, and that just isn’t in a kleptocracy…

Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, (from Greek: κλέπτης – kleptēs, “thief” and κράτος – kratos, “power, rule”, hence “rule by thieves”) is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest service. This type of government corruption is often achieved by the embezzlement of state funds.

Yes, I’d heard the word before. Yes, I’d not thought it real, but a bit of sarcasm. Now I think perhaps it is the stage of government that we have now entered.

What lead me to this thought?

Well, several things came together. One news report that only 1 in 8 attends church on a regular basis anymore. Another show (Stossel) showing a Trade Lawyer, talking about taxicabs and the rules that prevent entry into the trade (“medallions” in one city cost over $1,000,000 for the privilege of driving a taxi) and this taxi trade lawyer was nearly gushing about how happy he was to have helped to make dozens of laws in that city to restrain competition in the Taxi Industry. Another news bit about a guy in Idaho where some logs had jammed a county drain, flooding part of his property. The county gave him permission to clear the trash, and the flood drained. Then the Federal Government told him he could not build a home as he was on “wetlands”. He sued, and won. The Feds proceeded to ignore that he won and say they owed $37,000 PER DAY for every day they had not left the property. And more.

This ‘cross correlated’ with the recent change of Eminent Domain that says any government agency can just take your property and give it to someone else to “develop it” (giving you whatever passes for ‘fair price’) if that agency thinks they can get more tax revenue out of the development. (That one was a Supreme Court decision).

Stories of Drug Dealers in the Black Market just thumbing their noses at the notion of taxes and laws. Folks collecting unemployment benefits for a couple of years, then going on disability pay for the ‘stress’ of not finding a job. Obama mandating that you MUST buy what he wants you to buy (be it insurance, or through taxes, “green energy” as noted in a comment here by Tckev

The “image” just kind of formed itself. All these folks just “ripping off” for themselves, whatever they could get. Lawyers abusing the process of governance for their own enrichment. Senators and Representatives doing Insider Trading (and making it legal for themselves) to rip off whatever they could get. Obama and his cronies passing laws and dumping $Billions (or is it $Trillions?) of budget and stimulus money into the pockets of friends to rip off for themselves, whatever they could get. Soros and Maurice Strong being a bit more crafty about it, making entire social movements, companies, and “NGOs” for the purpose of ripping off for themselves, whatever they could get.

I realized that in some subtle way I’d felt it happening. Over the years I had become more resentful of always following the rules when those around me did not. Lately I’d taken to cutting a few corners on them myself. Not to the extent of a ‘rip off’, but just not caring so much. Then the news story ran that 1 in 3 folks would soon be “unbanked”. They would not have banking services for one reason or another. (Poor credit rating, illegal status, no job or no history, or just no money). That these folks were often entering a shadow economy of their own.

Just what is this pattern, writ large? It is the slide of an entire country into Kleptocracy.

Not just the ‘Caveat Emptor’ of prior years applied to unscrupulous sellers, nor even the ‘self dealing’ of prior years. Something more wide spread and perverse. Before, those things were known to be morally repugnant. Now the notion is one of entitlement to the Rip Off, and if you aren’t getting any, you are just dumb. That cultural artifact of American Morality is reaching a tipping point.

We knew of such countries in the past, but they were always places far away and dangerous. Back alleys of Bangkock. The wrong side of Tijuana. Odd Latin American Tin Pot Dictatorships and French Quarter pickpockets. Even The Chicago Machine and it’s corrupt form of politics (as Chicago was an alien town of Mobster History and Fame…) The odd corrupt ex-colony in Africa. Places where you just expected to drop 20% or so of your payments for “favor” with the local authorities.

But what I see now is that this is already here in America and likely has been for many years. Just dressed up in a Business Suit and with the title of Honorable Gentleman and Esquire… In the sweetheart Union Deals. In the thousands of laws and regulations churned out each day; and the growing hoard of people who just ignore them. From the Deputy DA who busts drug dealers on one side of town, then scores his drugs from the OTHER dealer (perhaps with a kickback from the higher prices?…) to the hospital billing “Private Insurance” customers for the part of the bill that Uncle Sam decided to not pay on the Medicare patients.

We are presently, and have been for a while, Living In Kleptocracy. I just had not noticed it quite so much.

The final bit that made it ‘gel’ was a story about an author who had a book:

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010

From the bestselling author of Losing Ground and The Bell Curve, this startling long-lens view shows how America is coming apart at the seams that historically have joined our classes.

In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.

Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.

The author was being interviewed and made a point of telling one bit of the book. That a surprising percentage of White Men between something like 35 and 50 had simply stopped working. They didn’t even bother to look. Some kind of malaise had caused them to change. In prior years, that was the Prime Working age and folks hustled, or at least felt guilty if they didn’t. Yet now the ethos was changed. Guys just said “stuff it”.

I was thinking how that would effect the country, all those folks giving up on Honest Labor. Then I realized I was one of them. I’ve not looked for a job in months. I didn’t feel like it, really. Let someone else work…

I’ve pondered a bit about “why”. Partly it is the economic times. Partly it is that there are so many impediments to getting a job it’s less attractive. Paperwork is greater, one city job I looked at involved finger printing, complete biographic proctoscopy, credit check, and a minor novel of an interrogation / application. I just let it pass… Who needs that much grief? And as in some or most cases, government applications processes are public data, your application may be on line… No, I thought, too much trouble… just to APPLY for a chance at a maybe…

Requirements have become more nutty too. I hold a State of California Lifetime Teaching Credential at the Community College Level. I’ve got decades of computer experience. You’d think that might mean I could teach at a Community College. Checked at the local one. They demanded a Microsoft Certification, current, to teach. That’s a couple of thousand a year to maintain, from my pocket to Microsoft. ( I got the cert, one of the last “lifetime” type issued before they, too, went to mandatory constant schooling just to stay in place; in about 1984 or so) So my carefully planned retirement strategy of teaching at the local J.C.s is down the tubes. The “barriers to entry” are just too much bother (even though, in theory, I’m already past them).

So here I am, being one of the folks just starting The Slide away from the traditional culture of Self Reliance, Dynamic Can Do, and no barriers to entry; and into the Guilds, Red Tape Quagmires, and Kleptocracy of Modern America.

I’m not well suited to it. I find myself still encumbered by a strong Moral Compass ( wonder if I’ll need to ‘fix that’ or if it can just be ignored?…) I find myself grossly inexperienced at graft, corruption, self dealing, crony-ism and, frankly, not having any empathy for my fellow man. I’m sure I can learn how to do it, if I practice enough and can find a role model… Heck, I’m already about 1/2 way to apathy and sub-rosa despair. I’m sure with a little work I could add callousness and moral ambivalence. (it will take longer to cultivate greed and a full on sense of entitlement warped up in a total lack of any morality beyond “Can I get it?” Even then, I’ll have to work hard to learn how to cultivate what looks like a friendship but is only mutual exploitation. I’ve seen others do it, so it can’t be all that hard…)

The point?

After decades of being told I’m racist, sexist, the oppressor, and being fleeced for trying to do the right things and working hard; well, I’m starting to feel like maybe it would be more fun to let someone ELSE do all that and I can just collect a handout and drink beer… Why heck, might even have folks stop telling me how horrible I am and trying to take my “stuff”; if I just become a bum.

Postscript

OK, confession time. I’m only feeling those things a little bit. Just enough to “understand” what’s going on in the culture and “channel it”; but not enough to let it ‘be real’. Just enough to understand why a bunch of White Guys in what ought to be their prime earning years might just quit and watch TV instead. (Or even run a blog…) But not enough to really be accepting that THAT is where my country will really end up.

But still, I’m now seeing more clearly how ever more folks may just choose to ‘throttle back and take a rest’, perhaps for a long time. When you see that “the game is rigged”, it’s pretty easy to simply ‘choose not to play’. When helping gets you called names, it’s easy to holler that you need help instead. And after a while that kind of thing can become a habit.

I suppose I ought to be asking “How to stop this?” and “What can we do to fix it?” and even “Where are thing better?”

But not, I think, today… I’m feeling a bit lazy today… Maybe tomorrow….

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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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66 Responses to Now Entering Kleptocracy

  1. j ferguson says:

    Hi E.M. and all,
    At the peak of the world’s exposure to my design efforts, I was registered (licensed to practice) as an architect in 7 states and the District of Columbia. Except for California, which required an interview, these licenses all flowed from reciprocity with respect to my initial registration in Illinois.

    I got the first one, Illinois, by having an accredited degree, and passing a 4 day exam, which included covering an 17×24 sheet of paper with the design of an arts facility.

    I’ll spare you my reaction to the cascading effects of increasing regulation of construction which occurred during my career, 1966 – 2003. The turn-off for me was “continuing education.”

    Initially, Florida was the only state where I was exposed to a requirement to take a class from someone typically with considerably less experience in my specialties to allow me to maintain my license. This requirement gradually spread to the other states. When I stopped working at 61, i thought I would maintain a couple of these licenses, just in case. But even Illinois started to require that I spend a bunch of money during the renewal cycle to “keep up.”

    So screw it.

    E.M. You might delve into Justice Douglas’ opinion on taking property by eminent domain to be turned over to a developer. This decision became fundamental to the urban renewal program beginning in the late ’50s. I submit that there is nothing particularly new about taking property from one private individual (with ‘compensation’) and selling it to another.

    It may not always be useful to equate the discovery of a particular iniquity in life, especially with regard to government, to a downhill trend.

    I feel we are more than compensated for some of this by the wonderful expansion of collegiality (if that is the best word) made possible by the web and expressed in coffee shops like yours.

    Thank you once more for your continuing efforts.

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    Kleptocracy reigns and flourishes everywhere, from the UN downwards. It is the only way to explain high revenues. However kleptocracy is the game masters allow their butlers to play up to a certain level, as much as they contribute to their masters´power and wealth. But it is risky to be a kleptocrat: Kleptocrats are fully recyclable and currently fall in disgrace before the eyes of their masters.
    You see? by far Monarchy was better.

  3. Dennis says:

    Hobbes tells us that people give up their perfect freedom and submit to an agreed on level of coercive government so that the freedoms yet retained can be enjoyed with more ease. Perhaps we’re beginning to see that grant of power revoked as people revert to a dog-eat-dog existance. While there is still meat on the public dog, they will strip it, but they will refrain from fattening that dog any more. When faith in our government has dropped to 15% support or less, perhaps we have arrived at the point where it is no longer a government “by the people”.

  4. pyromancer76 says:

    E.M., “I suppose I ought to be asking “How to stop this?” and “What can we do to fix it?” and even “Where are thing better?””

    No need to take any extra effort. You are doing just fine in your everyday magnificent pursuits that inform, I imagine, a growing readership. This is our continuing education and your entrepreneurship, along with WSW. I wish more wealth was flowing your way.

    I am probably in denial (too?), but I have a very difficult time imagining that all those crony corporations will continue to be willing to stay on the government leash when there is a world of energy just waiting to be developed in the U.S., with immensely more wealth than the government can gin up. I am waiting for the next honest and real boom times. Until then the internet must remain free.

    My main fear is enemies within the gates — real ones — beginning with Obama (as a puppet — TOTUS), not our own “sloth” and “slack”. I believe the Real Enemies want the U.S. and its immense natural resources, so their efforts are not just vengeful justice or pay for play (Chicago model) bureaucratic government.

    Real “opportunity” does an amazing job of turning lackadaisical attitudes into something like “gold fever”. But Opportunity must abide. Who wants to work for the bureaucracy? People want to work for themselves, even while they work for someone else, in order to “get ahead”. In one chart (can’t find), the cut-off point for making anything for oneself is somewhere north of $50,000 to $60,000. Otherwise it is beneficial to stay on the dole(s) — just people working “for themselves”. Opportunity.

    Unfortunately for my hopes, I thought this nomination process would prepare us for something like opportunity. Yes, it would be bloody because of “the end of an era” and its “respected powers that be”, but I had no idea that the opposition would turn “itself” over to the enemy in every way “it” tried to define its purposes to a larger audience (debates run by the enemy). Stupidity or purposefulness. It’s hard to decide.

    Anyway, I like the way you are in the “fight”, E.M., even if you are not there purposefully. I am grateful to your commenters, too, and to the way you run the blog. Opponents to your ideas must be on point and show respect to the debate process. An entrepreneurial way to go, in my book.

  5. Nick says:

    The reason is that governments have massive debts to service, plus a massive client state administering the ‘schemes’. Remove them, and people will be sacked. Hence those on the inside will fight tooth and nail.

    My take is the opposite of many. What needs to happen is people need to be excluded from government services. ie. Earn more than X? You have to fund your kids education. Earn more than Y? No health care from the state you pay it. etc. Cut off all state support when you cross the threshold.

    The reason is that if this is done, government won’t cut your taxes. They are desperate to keep their ponzi scam going.

    The more people that are excluded, but still have to pay, the quicker the edifice tumbles, and the small the level of damage.

  6. tckev says:

    E.M.
    Sorry to be the bringer of bad tiding.
    All I wanted to show was that tax dollars can be collected efficiently but the utility to which they are put is at odds with what the country really requires.
    My basic question I ask politicians (of every flavor) is –
    “How will you reduce this government’s size and improve its governance?”
    The answers always disappoints.
    But Illegitimi non carborundum is the only way forward.

  7. I agree with your analysis, E.M., but the change in world leadership arose from fear of mutual nuclear annihilation after the atomic bomb vaporized Hiroshima in Aug 1945 and convinced world leaders that science is the key to future Control (Power) [“Nuclear Fear – The Godzilla of All Fears” http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/37/04717933/0471793337.pdf

    The first atomic explosion was powered by a self-sustaining chain of nuclear reactions triggered by the capture of a single neutron on U-235:

    U-235 + n => 2 fission fragments (A~117 amu) + 2-3 neutrons
    2-3 n + 2-3 U-235 => 4-18 fission fragments + 8-54 neutrons, etc., etc

    This chain reaction had been demonstrated by Enrico Fermi on 2 Dec 1942 on the squash courts at the University of Chicago.

    As work progressed to build the atomic bomb that ended WWII, Edward Teller and others started work to use the the A-bomb as a trigger to induce fusion of light elements in a bigger bomb, the Hydrogen-bomb.

    Although a neutron triggered the self-sustaining nuclear reactor and atomic bomb, nobody suggested that neutron-repulsion caused nuclear fission. Perhaps the excitement or secrecy of warfare caused this to be overlooked.

    Until the end of WWII, Fred Hoyle and everyone he knew in astrophysics and astronomy believed the Sun was made mostly of iron (Fe) [See: "Home is Where the Wind Blows", Fred Hoyle's autobiography]. It is.

    But H-fusion was adopted worldwide as the process that made our elements soon after WWIi ended. A surprising conclusion since
    a.) The ratio of neutron-capture to H-fusion products is typically
    ~100-3,000 in the isotopes of heavy elements, and
    b.) Most natural radioactive decay is of neutron-rich nuclei rather than neutron-poor nuclei

    By the mid-1970s I knew the US government was hiding and manipulating experimental data to avoid evidence our elements were made locally in the Sun, that reformed on the supernova remnant – a pulsar.

    The puzzle remained an enigma until Nov 2009 when Climategate emails and documents were released and the US government tried to defend misuse of science and research funds to deceive the public.

    Today, society is crumbling and world leaders are now trapped with the rest of us – like rats on a sinking ship.

    Increasing numbers of our youth are homelessness, unemployed, getting food with food stamps or from food pantries, living in homeless shelters (Agape homes), receiving funds for unemployment, welfare, social security, disability, or attending college on funds borrowed from the government with no way to select a field of study that will assure employment after graduation.

    Why?

    1. Fear of nuclear annihilation produced agreements in 1971 to
    2. Base future policies on “manageable” computer models:

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

    That decision immediately
    a.) Ended the nuclear arms race,
    b.) Ended the Apollo Space Program, and
    c.) Started Uniting Nations against “Global Climate Change”

    Was the basis for:
    a.) Closing CO2-producing industries here
    b.) Promising Green jobs to replace lost ones
    c.) Computer models of H-fusion powering the Sun
    d.) Sending CO2-industries to China to avoid AGW
    e.) Promising H-fusion reactors to meet future energy needs

  8. George says:

    All of these unemployment benefits are designed to do is:

    1: Keep the number of pitchforks and torches on the grounds of government institutions to a minimum.

    2: Prevent the unemployed from grabbing illegals by the hair of their head and dragging them back to the border themselves.

    Basically, these benefits enable Democratic policy. They pay people to take a seat out of the economy and enable the Democrats to flood the voting rolls with Hispanics just as the Labor government did with Pakistanis in the UK.

  9. hpx83 says:

    You really need not worry – when the sledgehammer of economic reality hits home the coming decade, this shit is all going to go. Oh, at first it will be banana-republicanism, but I’m thinking that with modern communication, people are going to revolt a lot faster this time. Ignorant, decadent cultures will always kill themselves, the only thing we can’t be sure of is how fast. With the parabolic increase in welfare-statism lately, I figure the crash is coming soon. And once most of the West is pauperized, well, then we get to see how much of our more well-behaved past we manage to resurrect.

    Personally, I believe the way to go is find some little town somewhere far out in nowhere, and just settle there (if you are good with technology, you can probably set up a nice 0.02kbps-connction through some old telegraph wiring :) ). When the shit hits the fan, all intelligent people should have made sure to have vanished, so the current system can die on its own.

    I don’t even see it as “Going Galt”. I mostly see it as getting the heck out of the way before what inevitably must happen happens.

  10. George says:

    Myth: Most hispanic workers are agricultural workers.

    Truth: Most construction and building workers in the Western US are hispanic. Find a road crew working anywhere in California, and the majority will be from South of the border. Same with roofers, framers, builders of all sorts. Those are GOOD jobs that Americans WILL do, well, used to do until they learned there was money to be made sitting on their asses.

  11. George says:

    Get rid of SDI. One of the reason that autism and ADD diagnoses are skyrocketing is because there’s money to be had from those diagnoses. People are getting government money if they can locate a doctor who will sign off on their benefits. The doctor makes out, too. Everybody wins … except the taxpayer, but we are not in a position where “taxpayer” is a minority status.

  12. Adrian Ashfield says:

    As I commented after your piece on religion shaping the world (censored I think, at least I don’t see it) I suggested that the greed and lust for power were sufficient to explain it all. If it hadn’t been religion something else would do.

    See this piece about suicides following the takeover of micro-loans for profit.

    http://www.newser.com/story/108567/indias-microloans-spur-a-rash-of-suicides.html

    Pretty sad. Charles Murray’s conclusions sound dire. I have just downloaded “Coming Apart” on Kindle and will now read it.

  13. j ferguson says:

    George,
    When I left Chicago in 1984, Hispanics owned trackwork (railroad), drywall, and ceiling work. They didn’t fall into this, they earned it.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pyromancer76:

    Companies and people of power love collusion in the restraint of trade. It drives up prices and makes ‘plucking’ the victims / customers easier. It is a major constant in economics and was even cited by Adam Smith in The Wealth Of Nations.

    We see it from the example above of “mandatory reeducation” to retain credentials to “taxi medallions” to 1000 and 1 other ways to skit the Anti-Trust laws. (It is illegal to collude to restrain trade, but quite legal to meet at your Trade Lobby Representation Meeting and get a law past keeping other folks out of your oligopoly pot… So Doctors have gotten their Union, the AMA, in charge of the supply of doctors via control of what medical schools are built, for example.)

    While it is nice to think folks would have greed drive them to overturn this, it doesn’t happen. It goes the other way.

    Lawyers will not be removing the Bar Association either…

    So while I agree with the general thesis that Freedom give an energetic response and a thriving pursuit of gains; we don’t have it, and won’t have it for a very long time. It usually requires the wholesale disposal of governance and creation of a new one, and most folks don’t like that… Like the US Revolution.

    While I complain about particular parties and candidates, the real problem is the massive Lobby Machine and the TONS of “regulations” per year that are mostly designed to protect the entrenched and keep out competition. (In economics it is well established that regulatory bodies have a life cycle that starts with opposition but ends with ‘industry capture’ and acting in the interest of the industry leaders to restrain competition and control by government… It is substantially inevitable.)

    @Tckev:

    Don’t know what you’re sorry about. It was just showing how the budget is being used to line an industry’s pockets (and those of its friends…)

    Good stuff to know…

    @J. Ferguson:

    Yes, the “continuing education or career death” model is, IMHO, entirely designed to suck money into the “training” industry while restricting the supply of professional labor with the intent to drive up the wages via ‘pruning’ anyone who is not employed continuously and full time. It accomplishes little else.

    (Yes, I know the rational. Keeping up with ‘advances’. That’s not what it does, though…)

    I wonder when the dead weight load of it will become so great that it starts getting thrown out? (And if they have such a system in China ;-)

    Hmmmm…. Wonder if any little Tropical Island needs a computer teacher and recognizes US Credentials ;-)

    @Nick:

    That problem with your proposal is that once 49% are excluded and the other 51% get all the goodies, the 51% will proceed to vote for a complete plucking of the 49%… (though in principle I like the idea… but since the major ‘suckage’ of money from government to the rich is coming in the form of massive industrial bailouts and subsidies I think I’d rather start there…)

    @Oliver K. Manuel:

    Your slightly longer than usual exposition had something “click” for me this time.

    Yes, I’ve seen your basic thesis “frame” a few times and generally “got it”, but there was a ‘hole in the thesis’. Not a fault. Just a “something ought to go there”.

    Seeing the whole sweep of it with “Ending the Apollo space program” was the trigger (along with 1971). One of my “most despised moments in history” was then. Waiting as I was for the “next launches” that got killed in their cribs. And the man who did it. (Along with making me suffer through many long years (decades?) of 55 mph speed limits and crazy clocks): Richard M. Nixon.

    Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

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

    The result was a narrow victory for Republican Richard Nixon, a man who, although a California native, was largely regarded as from the old Northeast Republican Establishment, and quite liberal in many areas. Nixon enacted many liberal policies, including the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, normalizing relations with Communist China, and starting the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks to reduce the availability of ballistic missiles.

    I’ve seen somewhere (that I can’t find right now) Nixon referred to as our last “Progressive” president. Given that his formative years would have spanned the late progressive era and he would have been formed by it.

    The political dominance of the liberal consensus, even into the Nixon years, can best be seen in policies such as the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency or in Nixon’s (failed) proposal to replace the welfare system with a guaranteed annual income by way of a negative income tax. Affirmative action in its most quota-oriented form was a Nixon administration policy. Even the Nixon “War on Drugs” allocated two-thirds of its funds for treatment, a far higher ratio than was to be the case under any subsequent President, Republican or Democrat. Additionally, Nixon’s normalization of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and his policy of détente with the Soviet Union were probably more popular with liberals than with his conservative base.

    So as I look back on it, the “Nexus” is Nixon. All those things that have most harmed the present day have roots in his administration. Even the use of an “Enemy List” and abuse of national power for personal gain. (Where Watergate eventually brought him down).

    I could easily see his (secretive) administration gathering together the Cronies to “make this work” and planting the seeds of the China we have today, the EPA Mafia we have today, the corrupting of NASA to a Political Wing that we have today, the Welfare State that we have today, etc. etc.

    We got rid of 55, and we got rid of the crazy super-daylight-savings time that had kids walking to school in the dark. But we left way to much of his “legacy” in place.

    I think we’ve found the Hinge Point for modern Progressives and the corruption of NASA, along with the Overreaching National Governance…

    Perhaps we just need to take out the list of Nixon’s Legacy and start erasing it, one program, policy, and department at a time…

    (It’s starting to look like Progressive Republicans are worse than Progressive Democrats…)

    @ Dennis:

    I’ve often wondered why The Several States did not just make an amendment that says the Feds can’t bribe them with their own money. They have the power to do it, and there are a LOT of states that don’t like the Federal Leash. I think it started with the “55 or we yank your highway dollars” which would make it a Nixon Legacy too…

    At any rate, the States can make a Fed Balanced Budget amendment or a Fed 10% of the Economy Amendment or a Fed Leave Us The Hell Alone amendment any time they want. Doesn’t require a vote of the people, just approval by the states… Perhaps at some time we’ll reach that point…

    As near as I can tell, Government By the People, For the People ended somewhere around 1930… maybe even a bit earlier.

    @Adofo:

    Monarchy has a lot positive about it. For one thing, you only have one slimy bastard ripping you off, so you know who’s calling the shots… But the transition from generation to generation can be rough, and inbreeding depression eventually has the country run by a weak monarch, then it’s the Usurper who takes power. A “bad King” can be a terrible thing…

    @Hpx83:

    Oh, but I hate waste so ;-)

    Unfortunately, the end of Republics tends to be collapse into Dictatorship (or sometimes Dictatorial Empire) and that phase can be stable for hundreds of years of tyranny. So I’d not expect a “drop and reboot the good old days”. It just doesn’t happen that way historically.

    @George:

    You left off: Unemployment benefits make the unemployed feel good about government handouts.

    It is training attitudes too…

    Per ADD et. al.: My spouse sees this all the time. Part of her job is to asses kids for Special Education. There’s two kinds of parents, generally. The ones who are depressed as the kid getting a “needs special help” label and the ones who lobby for a stronger “diagnosis” and work the system for more “stuff”. She has to deal with denial on one side and abuse on the other.

    She has said she wants to do something else as all the pleasure has gone out of teaching special needs kids…

    @Adrian Ashfield:

    I’ve not censored anything from you (or from anyone else) for a very long time. It’s more likely stuck in the moderation or spam queues. WordPress can toss things in odd places some times and I don’t service those queues that often. You have an open mic, so anything you type will go “up” immediately and I’ll only see it ‘after the fact'; unless WordPress does something… I’ll go look.

    Yes, greed and lust for power are “enough”, but folks also can react from other drivers. Historically, Religion was one of them. Look at the present mess in the Middle East / South Asia for another… One does not preclude the other.

  15. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.Hmmmm…. Wonder if any little Tropical Island needs a computer teacher and recognizes US Credentials ;-)
    You can get one if you accept a salary of US$1,500 to 2,000 a month…and not necessarily in a tropical island (just forget about the “island”).

  16. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: Monarchy has a lot positive about it. For one thing, you only have one slimy bastard ripping you off, so you know who’s calling the shots…
    And it is the smallest government possible.
    The world will witness, in the following years, not only the resurgence of monarchies in places like Russia, etc., but the balkanization of several countries.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian Ashfield:

    Didn’t find anything from you in SPAM, or in Moderation nor even in the Trash bucket. (Things don’t actually ‘go away’ until I ‘empty the trash’, so even if I’d “trashed it” it would have been there.)

    So no idea what it was or where it went. Please repost.

    I did find an old post from Sera about Blonds in Pakistan from the

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/irish-scots-gaelic-egyptian-connection/#comment-30260

    thread that was stuck in the SPAM queue. No idea why… WordPress sometimes does strange things. (Couldn’t see any particular key word in it, nor anything generically that might trigger a spam filter.)

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adolfo:

    Sign me up! As long as it’s a tropical country with a ‘coastline’ somewhere… and is happy with English or very bad Spanish or mediocre French ;-)

    $1500 / month is more than enough for a great lifestyle in most non-1st-world places.

  19. Tim Clark says:

    Don’t forget, Trickie Dickie took us off the gold standard because the frenchies were calling them in. I’m surprised it took almost 50 years for the bloodsucking politicos to figure out how to completely eliminate the middle class. What better way than 0.00% interest rates and poor investment climate.

    The best solution to the situation is for states to amend the constitution requiring all taxes(excluding the military, but eventually returned via militias) to be returned to the states on a pro rata basis. Evidence shows states (well, most red states) are more efficient in dispensation, and want something in return. Then threaten secession. this would keep govenors in place, and you have a state senator living down the street from you in control of the funds, and having a tree in his front yard of sufficient size for lynching.

  20. Tim Clark says:

    I guess I should elaborate:

    I haven’t seen recent data, but about 10 years ago $.30 of every dollar allocated to “programs” was siphoned off before it got to the final receiver. Therefore eliminate all federal departments and/or agencies, Every state has a department of health and environment, transporation dept, education, social security, etc. or similar constructs. The total tax allotment is sent to the states.That would immediately make all programs more efficient.

  21. EM. From your post above:
    “After decades of being told I’m racist, sexist, the oppressor, and being fleeced for trying to do the right things and working hard; well, I’m starting to feel like maybe it would be more fun to let someone ELSE do all that and I can just collect a handout and drink beer… Why heck, might even have folks stop telling me how horrible I am and trying to take my “stuff”; if I just become a bum. ”
    Assuming that this has some serious meaning and not just a light-hearted quip, I am moved to comment.

    Being, at times, something of a protaganist in my comments on your other posts, I am concerned if any of my comments actually contribute to such negative feelings.

    As bloggers we are dealing with words, thoughts, opinions, interpretations, conclusions and, I suppose judgements to some degree or other.
    For comments to extend to personal character labels such as ‘racist’, at least in the case of my comments, would be entirely unintentional.
    So I believe I have learnt something here. A need to be very careful how I word criticisms that disagree with the author. To ensure they do not reflect on the author’s character, but only on the contents of the article.
    Having said that, criticisms such as I would normally make, are simply my opinions and beliefs, intended for consideration. Any serious disagreements are still basically, sort of literary excercises, not to be taken personally.

    Maybe I am not making myself clear, but I am trying to apolgise, EM., if any of my comments have ever actually caused you any personal affront.

    I have very high regard for your posts, your efforts, your contributions to educating us readers and your amazing ability to research, analyse, understand and write about so many interesting and important subjects.

    Keep up the great work with enthusiasm!

  22. Jeff Id says:

    Write a couple of tax checks for 5 times your takehome salary and you can really get the American experience.

  23. xyzlatin says:

    Australia is going the same way. The political class in Canberra and the States, the “love” media all supporting socialist ideas.

  24. adolfogiurfa says:

    In a TV program transmitted by the BBC, yesterday and today, about the situation of Greece, a person from the audience asked: Why is it so that Greece is considered broke if there are other countries in a worst situation?
    ..and he mentioned the UK, among others.
    It seems that the banking elite chooses what country comes up for auction, to buy its assets for almost nothing. That´s the highest level of kleptocracy.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    Catching up on comments, but just a quick reply to Ken McMurtrie:

    The “criticisms” I’m talking about are not blog related. It’s a more general “whole of life” comment on my part. I’ve had black folks call me racist solely because of the color of MY skin…. Even now, being sort of a libertarian, gets folks asserting that if you advocate ANY States Rights you want the return of slavery. Just crazy, but it happens. Doesn’t matter that I paid the way for a black friend to cross the country for a job. Doesn’t matter he was my motorcycle buddy or that we rebuilt a few computer rooms together and lived ‘side by side’ at work for a couple of years.

    Doesn’t matter that the highest raise I ever gave was to a woman ( 37% in one shot – hey, hired her right out of college and in one year she was doing better than the guys with longer time in grade, so I went to HR – who were oddly resistant for a female dominated organization… – and told them that “she deserved equal pay to her male workmates.” Yeah, organizational Aikido ;-) as I’m a person of the male persuasion, I’ve had ‘womens libber’ types call me a “sexist pig”. Just a case of “shit happens”.

    So don’t take it personally.

    BTW, I’m usually “of two minds” (which has caused me to ponder if I have two symmetrical fully functional hemispheres…) and can simultaneously hold a feeling of “bummed” while being “quietly optimistic and looking to new adventures”… can drive folks around the bend when they try to figure out “how I’m feeling”…

    I can also do a ‘multi time threads’ and have things seen as ‘in the moment’ or ‘duration of cosmos’ and steps in between at the same time. (So seeing a moment of mutation in the context of a sweep of evolution – and the eventual extinction). This also can cause confusion as folks will think I’m “missing one bit” if I only talk about the other, or can be baffled when I say one bit doesn’t matter (as on a time scale of millions of years it extinguishes). I suspect that one side of the brain gets micro time and the other macro time and ‘they share’ when doing that kind of imaging… So I’ll often comment “in the now” while taking context “from the all”. As here, where I talk about emotional states (from the ‘last few decades’) in the context of “what to do now/next”. I know that can throw other folks, and I try to filter out most of it; but frankly it’s a lot of work to keep translating how I think back to “normal”… so sometimes it isn’t clear.

    BTW, I don’t think there is anything ‘special’ in this. It’s just me. I think there are lots of folks who do that kind of thing. Then again, I don’t know how other folks think and some evidence says many are ‘single thread single context one state linear non-global verbal low imaging’. But that’s a guess on my part.

    At any rate, I usually don’t like to talk about ‘me’ because:

    1) It’s not that interesting.
    2) It usually offends somebody (for reasons I don’t ken)
    3) It confuses some of those that it didn’t offend
    4) There’s nothing I can do about who I am and how I think and others can’t learn to do “my style” so what’s the point?
    5) Inevitably somebody tries to paint self description as an emotional state (like pride or ego) and I end up trying to explain that the thinking style is more a pain than a feature and the whole thing just ends up being a PITA. Then a long exposition about “describing something is not emoting about it” comes along that also hits a brick wall. I think I’m emotionally orthogonal to many folks that way. Emotion is just orthogonal to thinking. But that is never accepted, so why go there?

    But, since I talked about “me” in the posting, I guess it’s ‘fair game’ in the comments ;-)

    So, back to the point:

    I wasn’t thinking about you at all in the writing of the posting. NOBODY here has anything to apologize for.

    (Defend your positions politely, then either change them, or share them. The position is either sound, or it is not; defensible, or not; and “ego” has no place in that; therefor no ‘offense’ can come from it; therefor no ‘apology’ can ever be needed or justified. Being impolite is about the only thing that might justify an apology and, frankly, impolite folks don’t seem to ever work that bit out; therefor I substantially never need nor expect an apology. Well, except for actual ‘accidents’, but most of them are physical things, so not in cyberspace…)

    Hope that eases your mind…

    BTW: Part of the “being a bum” exercise has BEEN being a Blogger ;-) Most of the “negative vibes” are from ‘way back’ and elsewhere…

    The annoying bit that I dread is going back to Corporate Reeducation Camp…

    On one occasion my entire staff had mandatory “training” in how evil men were and how all we wanted to do was sexually exploit women in the workplace… That’s a slight exaggeration, but not much. We were a model group that had worked together well for years, so we were puzzled (and everyone checked with everyone else and found no one upset).. Only years later did I find out why. It didn’t matter that I was on the board of directors of a Feminist organization. The title of the place was “…Feminist Health…Organization”… and I was the token male (and one of the few ‘straights’). I was “off to camp” with my entire staff. Puzzled as we all were.

    In an adjacent organization, a boss and a lady who worked for him had an affair (by mutual consent). HIS boss found out and he took it to HR (as we were mandated to do by company policy and California Case Law risks). HR (women dominated) had the male boss moved to another department; to which everyone agreed. (EVERYONE kept the same rank and pay). End of story (or so we thought).

    He then left and went to a company selling stuff, a customer being his lady friend… The first employer / boss decided this was still ‘conflict of interest’ and said “you can’t sell to her”. They got peeved… as he had gotten the new job based on his “contacts” at said company… so this was a ‘threat to his job’…

    Suddenly, she took offense at someone (ill defined) in the group saying something she didn’t like (also ill defined). SHE complained about ‘sexist language’ (never mind that she used terms in my presence that would make a sailor blush…). So, in order to make sure it was not known WHO or WHAT group had a ‘problem’, everyone in the organization was sent off to “You Are An Evil Sexist Man” reeducation camp… BTW, the company settled with her for “five figures” (and not small ones) for the damage to her sensitive ears… Eventually the two got married, and one supposes they had lots of cash for a nice wedding party…

    That’s the kind of thing I was giving oblique reference… Just didn’t want to go into all the details (both for legal reasons and for, well, ‘text too long’ reasons ;-)

    So unless you rise to the level of forcing me to Reeducation Camp for weeks or threatening bodily harm for my skin color: you’re kind of in the ‘not the problem’ bucket…

    (Hopefully that makes it clear enough to still any further worries…)

  26. Definitely! Even though your story is sad in general terms and because it highlights the idiocies of company and PC standards, I had to laugh at the end. :-)
    and thanks.

  27. R. de Haan says:

    The Red Herring CO2
    Agenda 21: UN driven goal of worldwide control and governance.

    http://climaterealists.com/?id=9187

  28. kuhnkat says:

    “After decades of being told I’m racist, sexist, the oppressor, and being fleeced for trying to do the right things and working hard; well, I’m starting to feel like maybe it would be more fun to let someone ELSE do all that and I can just collect a handout and drink beer… Why heck, might even have folks stop telling me how horrible I am and trying to take my “stuff”; if I just become a bum.”

    Forget the beer and join the club!!

  29. Mark Miller says:

    Re. Charles Murray, you might be interested to read what Robert Samuelson had to say about “Coming Apart” for some balance.

  30. Mark Miller says:

    There’s a local one-man business I’ve been patronizing for a few months now that is “unbanked.” I haven’t asked him why, but he insists on being paid in cash, not checks. I’ve been satisfied with his service, so I have no complaints. I just don’t get the insistence on cash. From what conversations I’ve had with him, there’s no hint that his business is in any way illegal. In fact it’s more legit than I had once thought years ago. I have a couple bank accounts myself, and they’ve been serving me fine. So the aversion to them is a mystery to me.

    As for crazy job requirements, I know what you’re talking about. I worked in IT services for several years, doing custom business software development. The job requirements have become goofy over the last 10 years, from what I’ve seen. I haven’t checked job listings in that sector in about 6 years, but from what I’ve heard, nothing’s changed. Employers take a “kitchen sink” approach to everything programmers need to know, and I have no idea why. It doesn’t make sense to me. My experience with employer requirements is often what they really require is a subset of what they’re asking, at least initially, and if more requirements come into play later, they’re not what they asked for in the want ad.

    In my time in IT services I found that all the job required was a basic competence in the tools and languages they used in-house at the time, and an understanding of “how projects go” and how to deal with customers, skills I often had in spades. But because they say they want “years of experience in X,” with X being something like Javascript, they wouldn’t even look at me for an interview. The way I’ve developed new technological skills is I learn about it, reading a book on it, and trying stuff out in it, and then undertaking a project I make up for myself, a practical application. I’d become reasonably competent at it this way, which I’ve proven over and over again at employers who hired me, but even so, employers tended to frown on this. They wanted someone who had been paid to work in X technology, and they wanted “years of experience” in it.

    Hiring in the world of IT has been crazy practically from the beginning, though it used to be saner than it is now. I remember when I was in college in the early 1990s my SE professor told us that 5 years earlier employers were asking for “5 years experience in Ada,” when the language had only been out for 2 years. That still goes on today. The best way to get hired in IT, I’ve found, is through personal connections, people you know inside the company. That helps get around the crazy requirements they put in a want ad, which was likely drawn up by someone in HR who doesn’t know a thing about the technologies.

  31. NicG. says:

    Thanks EM! For years I’ve tried to put together a coherent view of the world I believed I was inhabiting and when I did express my views about a Kleptocracy, though I couldn’t have given it a name, I was told I was being paranoid… now you’ve confirmed what I thought though that’s not necessarily comforting.

    @ Mark above; It’s not just the IT world that has crazy entry requirements though I suspect it may be one of the worst. I also suspect you’re correct when you say about HR writing the job spec. though it could just as easily be a recruitment agency. There is, however, a flip side; having written job adverts when forced to open a vacancy to a wider audience, I’d often put a really obscure ‘requirement’ into the ad so that I’d get the person I wanted even though they may not have been the most qualified. ‘Most qualified’ is not always what you need and, more often than not in my case, the most qualified person turned out to be a kid straight out of school with a list of qualifications longer that the proverbial arm but no sense whatsoever. To counter this my ads would contain something really specific, such as ‘must be fluent in Finnish’ or some other odd thing, so that my target group would narrow, often to a single ‘applicant’.

  32. The Republic of China aleady had tough anti corruption laws and a “Ministry of Audit” to apply them. In response to public outrage over judicial corruption further measures were enacted within a year:

    http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205402627_text

    Such reforms happen because of public outrage.

    Contrast that with countries that have exemptions for legislators which in some cases (e.g. Mexico) amount to a “License to Steal”.

    In the USA our rulers are getting bolder and more inclined to exempt themselves from laws that apply to the rest of us. This will only get worse until public outrage becomes widespread and vocal.

  33. Adrian Ashfield says:

    One thing that will help (individuals) is being able to be more self sufficient.
    In that regard, energy is very important. The latest news on LENR (cold fusion) continues to be encouraging.

    A couple of months ago Defkalion offered to allow suitably qualified observers to test their bare “Hyperion” reactor. The test consists of two reactors side by side, one with the Ni powder, one without. The test is run two days and then the powder is transferred (with the observers present) to the other unit for a second two days of tests. Pretty foolproof. The Hyperion is claimed to have a COP (coefficient of performance) >20, higher than Rossi’s E-Cat.

    The Greek government was the first group. 7 groups are known to be waiting to run the test. Defkalion posted this:

    “Defkalion GT
    Post subject: Test status (28-2-2012)
    Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:18 pm

    Tests with the presence of high level Government officials have been concluded. Opinions and results were very positive.

    Announcements will be made upon mutual agreements, at a time yet to be defined.

    Tests continue with international Authorities in the coming weeks.”

    I know some were hoping for the results to be published, but patience….

  34. John Vetterling says:

    I assume you’ve read “Atlas Shrugged” To me it’s amazing how prescient Rand was.

    I think a lot of people in their prime are becoming tired of being the horse ( Animal Farm reference)

  35. John Michalski says:

    NicG. (15:05:27) :
    As I have seen E.M. state before, common sense can trump education in many cases. I come from a long line of “tinkerers”. I cannot ever recall any person in my family, be it male or female, calling for professional services, whatever they may be. It was always taken care of by themselves. My two sisters (out of five children) are RN’s and the only ones to attend college. My son (now 25yo) struggled with the educational program of “learn to test well”,
    and yet has been able to secure jobs in several skill based industries (construction, mechanical, etc.). His common sense makes him a valuable asset to many people. Maybe they should offer classes in Common Sense!
    Thought of this when I saw this article on MSN. College is not for everybody.

    http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/28/10498304-some-employers-want-return-of-vo-ed-training

  36. John Michalski says:

    To finish my train of thought from above, a posted list of requirements in no way guarantees a capable employee. There are many people standing on the sidelines with no chance of stepping onto the field, all in the name of prerequisites or post-secondary education (or lack thereof). Potential employees coming out the Vo-Tech systems can be extremely capable and have already, in many cases, have hands-on experience in real-world situations…not text book scenarios. These are the people with the on-the-fly problem solving capabilities that so many employers cherish in businesses today. You just can’t get that from a text book or a degree.

    John

  37. Mark Miller says:

    @NicG:

    It’s frustrating to me that many high-status people in our society think that they can modify reality because they wish it, and write their wishes into law, as if that will make them come true. Of course this is the popular thing to do. Voters think this strategy will work as well. What you get is just what you describe, people complying with the letter of the law, but not its spirit. It ends up wasting everyone’s time.

    I remember about 6 years ago hearing about a law firm advising employers on how to comply with employment laws, but get around them by frustrating the efforts of applicants. The focus was on a law that said before hiring a foreign worker an employer had to try to hire a U.S. citizen first, by advertising the position in the local paper. Employers would do this, put in a lot of requirements, and with any applicants they got, they’d interview them, but try to find any fault they could to disqualify them. The whole idea was to go through the motions, disqualify everybody in the process, and then hire who they really wanted. I mean, all this does is discourage people from looking for work, because these employers, responding to the law, give them the impression that they’re not good enough no matter what they do, when the truth was the employers had other people in mind to begin with. I think we’d all be better off if we took off these employee selection requirements, and that way employers who really do want to search the field can meet with people who are trying to find work, and people can get a more accurate sense of where they really stand WRT the labor market.

  38. Pascvaks says:

    Various thoughts –

    The older you get, the more you think
    ‘There is nothing new under the Sun‘.
    The more you have, the less you want.
    The less you want, the more you feel.
    The more you feel, the more you wonder.
    The more you wonder, the less you know.
    The less you know, the more you think.
    The more you think, the older you get.
    The older you get, the more you think
    ‘There is nothing new under the Sun‘.

    People are really no different today than they were yesterday. Human interaction, etiquette, whatever, may be less ‘this’ and more ‘that’ at various points in time, but there is no law, there is no restriction; everything that humans are capable of doing remain in their repertoire. During one era it may have been very unsafe to travel without a caravan, during another, it may be very unsafe to say something, a word or phrase, that others construe as sedition or blasphemy. People are just as weird and sensitive today as ever, no one is ‘safe‘. Ever!

    People are lazy. They’ll do whatever they can get away with and probably very little more or less. There is a Social Norm. It changes with time. The general direction is generally from higher to lower. Adversity will usually buck up the Norm. Prosperity will usually diminish it.

    Everyone needs an enemy. The enemy defines you, challenges your every fiber, character, economy, intelligence, etiquette, mores, norm. Order is the result of hardship, co-operation, and defined purpose. Chaos is the result of prosperity, greed, and sloth.

    I wonder why Tom Brokow’s ‘Greatest Generation’ was really so great? Perhaps it wasn’t about winning WWII at all. Perhaps it was the direct result of the Great Depression . Something then made them the Greatest. Wonder what it was? Adversity? Hunger? The value of money? Their faith? Who was their great enemy? Japan? Germany? Something “Bigger”? I think it was “something very big” indeed and I don’t think it had much to do with Krauts or Japs, they just kind‘a put the icing on the cake. Why didn’t we, their kids, grow up to be as upright and strong as they did? Hummm… maybe it had something to do with our ‘enemies’, maybe they just weren’t so big and scary. What kind’a fortitude and character does crawling under your desk at school for a ‘simulated nuclear attack’ once a month build in a child who has everything? We inherited our parents success and their ‘Evil Empire’, we did a few memorable things with the help of Mom and Dad before they retired (if they ever did) and passed on. Now our kids are following in our footsteps and walking down hill just behind us, or have already become the Leader‘s of the Pack and are racing on, down the hill. Is there hope for the future? You bet! Where there’s life, there’s hope. Right? But, just look at all the folks around the world who want to bury us or cut off our heads because we don’t ‘measure up’ by their yardstick. Will they be enough to force us back up the incline? To toughen our metal? To give us the character it will take to re-establish ourselves as Top Dog? I don’t know. History says we’ll probably end up being like Greece or Italy. Who knew?

    Want to shake things up and reinvigorate the USofA? Looks like the only one who can do that is getting 10-15% of the vote these days. But he is on the Virginia ballot. And, he’s as old as the Texas hills he calls home. Wouldn’t live out a second term if he ever got a first. (His foreign policy views are more sound than most realize, too.) Nope! No change in direction. The majority of the Lemmings want to jump and swim. Congress won’t change in 2013, either. We’re goners!

    Want to get people to reconnect with God? Balance the budget!

    Mexicans is like Indians, first you invite them in for “Thanksgiving”, then you take advantage of them, then you take their land. Well, it worked the last time, right? Tierra del Fuego or Bust! (Remember too, this country wouldn’t have amounted to much if we hadn’t gone West. Now we just have to turn South!)

    “It’s starting to look like Progressive Republicans are worse than Progressive Democrats…(EMSmith) – SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO True! Every night as I lay in bed looking at the ceiling in the dark I pray to the Creator of the Universe: “HELP!” (We sure could use two brand new dominant Political Parties in this country, Deflationists and Rescinders. Time for the Demonists and Gloppers to go!;-)

    “BTW, I’m usually “of two minds” (which has caused me to ponder if I have two symmetrical fully functional hemispheres…) and can simultaneously hold a feeling of “bummed” while being “quietly optimistic and looking to new adventures”… can drive folks around the bend when they try to figure out “how I’m feeling”…”(EMSmith) Me too! I am therefore I think about a lot. Or.. is it the other way around?;-)

    @kuhnkat (04:06:26): “Forget the beer and join the club!!” NO BEER? Forget the Club!

    Someone once said, ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’; people mistakenly think s/he was a scientist. Imagine a scientist talking about people, politics, economics, religion, cooking, ironing clothes, farming, ranching, navigation, pipe fitting, steel making, carpentry, sculpting, bee keeping, prostitution, cattle rustling, pirating, bank robbery, combat, drinking, eating, breathing, picking your nose, etc., etc., that’s funny.

    @John Michalski (13:28:16) :
    “ a posted list of requirements in no way guarantees a capable employee. There are many people standing on the sidelines with no chance of stepping onto the field, all in the name of prerequisites or post-secondary education..” Prerequisites are a show stopper for sure. If you need a geek, hire a geek, and train him/her to do what you need them to do. We sure need an Edison or Einstein to invent something better when it comes to training kids how to be rocket scientists or lab techs or XYZ. Union Shop School Systems are a BIG problem, but lack of Community and State Techs is going to kill everything too. Who knew education and training were a problem? I didn’t know, did anyone know? Why didn’t someone tell OBYuan? Hummm.. ya think maybe someone did and he didn’t listen? (SarcOff)

    I feel there’s a perspective issue in the modern American (North and South America American) mind. Let’s let the rest of the world go hang for a moment. It’s more prevalent in the North for some reason but just as dangerous in the South. We’ve come to think, and talk, and act like ’government is the be all and end all of our civilization. Now, that is not only stupid and wrong, but it’s damn dangerous too. If true, it means we’ve evaporated into nothingness. Civilization is not government, government is not civilization. Government is ideally an itsy-bitsy-tiny-weeny-yellow-pokadot-bikini, it is something that barely hides the body of the country. Now this may seem like a rather strange observation, but think about it, the fatter and more unappealing the body the bigger and less revealing the bikini. (Just thought of that.) It works too, right?

    Life’s a beach! And it don’t matter how you spell it. Always has been! Always will be! People (as a glump) are lazy too! Always have been! Always will be! They’re also a lot like water, too. Raise the heat, lower the heat, they start to move and expand; some faster than others. Just let the temp be so-so and you get nothing but stale, stagnant, putrid people and water. (Oh yes, remember too the old expression, sh_t floats?)

    Like I said, just various thoughts;-)

    PS: EM since I’ve been hanging around you and your pride of lions, I have thought more about more things than I have in years. And you’re habit forming too. I hope the Surgeon General never drops by, we‘d all be labeled something or other I‘m sure.

  39. Pascvaks says:

    Probably should have said “Rich Sh_t Floats”, no doubt there’s a number of such inconsistances up there. Brain drain as well as bladder patter increases with age;-)

  40. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: Everyone needs an enemy. The enemy defines you, challenges your every fiber, character, economy, intelligence, etiquette, mores, norm.
    That seems the consequence of bad weather: Northern tribes had to fight hard to get their food and compete with their neighbors for it.
    Near the capital of Peru, about 100 miles north of its capital, it was found, a few years ago, the City of Caral, 5 thousand years old, there, archeologist found pyramids built before the pyramids of egypt, musical instruments,etc.
    When archeologists from US universities came they began to search for its defenses and/or weapons (their version of WMD)….well, it happened the same as with Iraq: They could not find anything!, nothing!, nada!, resembling a weapon or any defense whatsoever.
    Then, if weather and means are good and available, war and competence it is not necessarily needed.
    It is not necessary too to have the urge of “something to do” in the following minute. Up to the 50´s we used to work in two shifts: One from 8am to 12m., then we went home for lunch and returned to the job at 3pm.
    The hurry for living, as everything “fast”, from “fast food” to dying fast of a sudden heart attack was unfortunately imported from the US, where it has been developed by [ ethnic reference snip! -E.M.S.] bankers wishing to “optimize” their profits; this is why, also, you were taught that women have to be “liberated”, so both man and women would work for the sole benefit of those most dear “lenders” and “ponzi schemers” . In the past only men worked and their salary was enough to sustain, support, big families, now, with both parents working, they just managed to survive, of course graciously helped by other invention of those blessed lenders and ponzi schemers: The credit card. (BTW: an ingenious way of making money instead of printing fake money and being punished by law).
    In order to know your roots, I would suggest you to read, again, and carefully, Walt Witman´s “Leaves of Grass:
    I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
    Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
    Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
    Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse and stuff’d with the stuff
    that is fine,
    One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the
    largest the same,
    A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and
    hospitable down by the Oconee I live,
    A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest
    joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,
    A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin
    leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,
    A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
    At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen
    off Newfoundland,
    At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,
    At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the
    Texan ranch,
    Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving
    their big proportions,)
    Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands
    and welcome to drink and meat,
    A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
    A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
    Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
    A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
    Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

    I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
    Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
    And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

  41. Pascvaks says:

    @Adolfo –
    Weather can be the worst of all enemies. Eventually we’ll all cave in to its onslaught and leave if we’re not given a sufficient opportunity to rebuild. I wonder if the advance of man through time is not more a factor of hardship brought on by weather than our own kind. What would possess people to leave a perfectly good tree and search for a cave, or a cave and search for a forest, etc.? Why build better and stronger huts, or thicker and sturdier tents, or a bow and arrow, certainly not an occassional visit from another clan. We owe our advancement to Good Old Mother Nature more than any other, she’s the bestest and the baddest there is. Everyone has enemies. Paranoia is real. If you made peace with everyone in the neighborhood there’s still El Nino and La Nina to make you smart and smarter. If you need a dome over your village, what good is a wall?;~)

  42. George says:

    @E.M. Smith

    You might want to tune in to KSFO (AM 560 or ksfo.com) at 6:00 PM this evening for an interview Barbara Simpson is doing.

    Barbara Simpson will be interviewing Dr Michael Coffman Sunday, March 4 at 6:00 pm on KSFO AM 560

    Call in and participate at (415) 808-5600
    Topic: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the threat to our LIBERTY

  43. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    Drat. Sounds like a great show… But I’ve got a dinner engagement at 6pm…. Wonder if they would notice just ONE ear bud ;-)

  44. Ian Ogilvie says:

    Just tripped over this site via WUWT. Love the breadth of your musings EM. I’ll be back. I’m a bit late for this posting I suppose but your endearing, faith / naivety, in society prompts me to a quick hullo.
    As a species Mankind is socially a: tribal, patriarchal, thug, kleptocracy.
    Universally the closer you get to tribal societies the more overt these things are.
    The only differece between tribal societies and those with the hubris to call themselves civilized is the formalized subtlety of the thuggery and thievery.

  45. Mark Miller says:

    For those wanting to listen to the Barbara Simpson segment with Michael Coffman, here’s the URL to the podcast:

    [audio src="http://www.ksfo.com/getpodcast.aspx?sid=36718&lid=5152&id=2407155&source=1&url=http://vaca.bayradio.com/podcasts/simpson030412_6pm.mp3" /]

    You can listen to a selection of Simpson podcasts at:

    http://www.ksfo.com/sectional.asp?id=36718

    I could buy most of what Coffman said. It goes along with what I’ve heard from other informative sources. His presentation style comes across like Alex Jones, though; very rapid fire, not a lot of details. If you’re not familiar with the background information, it sounds like conspiracy theory. I think this is probably because he was on a talk show, and there wasn’t a lot of time to talk. I’ve seen Coffman before, and he brings things down to a very understandable level, but what I remember is he spoke to the facts. So I don’t think he’s exaggerating too much.

    I might be a little confused about this. The thing that struck me in the Simpson interview is he talked about the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England basically running most of the world’s economy, and that they talk about how they influence governments towards the idea of world government, or something. He also said, “It’s all out there.” It’s not hidden. You just have to look for it. I’m sure there’s something I’m not getting right here, because I’m pretty sure the Fed would not be talking publicly about moving us to a world government. That doesn’t sound like something they’d say in the open.

    One thing that was disappointing to me is he acted like many conservatives I’ve heard, “We’ve got to get Obama out of office!” My question is, “And replace him with which candidate?” I’m at a loss. I think Simpson brought up that point that the Republican candidates don’t look that great, either. He agreed, but kept pressing the point. He struck me as undisciplined in this area. I felt like he was asking for something that doesn’t exist yet.

  46. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pascvaks:

    As I understand it, some long time ago, he Rift Valley of Africa was drying out. Forest turned into savanna on the edge of scrub. “We” left the forest to become “runners of the plain” due to lack of forest and the fruit in it…

    We stated making huts to avoid being Big Cat Food at night… and found fire a good tool.

    The move to civilization and agriculture looks to have been driven by the discovery of fermentation of grains… After that I can only imagine that, well, too much beer leads to fighting over it ;-) and the rest of ‘advancement’ ;-)

    And glad to keep your brain busy ;-)

    @Adolfo:

    Interesting…

    BTW, one of my favorite things to do is just randomly ‘stop’ during the day.

    Sometimes on a street corner. Sometimes in the garden, or an office hallway. And just “be”.

    Soak up ALL that is in that space. Whatever it is. It sharpens the awareness after a while… and when folks look at you and (occasionally) ask ‘is everything ok’ it can be quite a joy to explain to them what it means to ‘just be’ for a minute or three… “Be the empty vessel “…

  47. George says:

    @Mark Miller

    I was somewhat disappointed in the interview. When he started going off on the old saw about the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England my eyes started to glaze over a little BUT he didn’t go so extremely far down the path and did make me want to read his forthcoming book to learn more about the particulars of what exactly he has. I did note that he wasn’t a rabid Ron Paul fan. Like me, he likes SOME of what Paul says on some issues but overall seemed to see him as not viable, particularly with the foreign policy issues.

  48. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: Capacitors are empty….”let it be”

  49. Mark Miller says:

    @Ian Ogilve:

    When I was in secondary school, one of my teachers asked us the question, “What’s the difference between a tribe and a civilization?” We tried coming up with answers, but the teacher showed us that these were just more sophisticated versions of tribal characteristics. There is a potential difference, but I think you have to take a scientific approach towards the study if societies to see it. Anthropology has a notion of “universals,” a set of capacities that all humans have throughout most/all cultures. They fit into tribal as well as non-tribal societies, but only fit well in tribal societies. According Dr. Alan Kay and some others, civilization developed things they called “non-universals.” These are capacities that were historically invented by some humans, and can be taught and learned. They are not easy to learn, but they are necessary to maintain and advance a modern civilization. They help us think “beyond the tribe.” IMO, it’s things like non-universals that provide the reason that schools should exist. It seems to me our educational establishment doesn’t understand this.

  50. Mark Miller says:

    @Ian Ogilve:

    Realized I should’ve provided a link for what I was talking about:

    http://learningevolves.wikispaces.com/nonUniversals

  51. George says:

    @Mark Miller

    I see a Tribe as a set of traditions, mostly of a familial nature. I see a civilization as sort of a meta tribe. It would be a grouping of many tribes that have agreed upon some common ground. Within a civilization you still have the various tribes but there is an agreement of what is and is now allowed.

    Also, I believe that the emergence of various traditions is often misunderstood. It isn’t that one tradition has, for example, the favor of God, but it is that there is something about that tradition that gave it a competitive/selective advantage over other traditions. Notice, for example, the similarities between Halal and Kosher. The tribes that followed those traditions survived to the modern era. There would have been at various times tribes who did not follow those traditions. Maybe they ate pork or shellfish. And maybe as a result, only one less child per generation lived to adulthood because of some parasite or disease. Over the course of thousands of years, one population dominates the other and the other fades away or their territory is eventually taken and they are assimilated into the dominate society.

    These traditions are basically “happy accidents”. One tribe adopts some tradition, a neighboring tribe adopts a different one, after 100 generations one tribe outnumbers the other. And often these traditions are not global truths but are good only in the region where those tribes evolved. In another place, a tribe that ate pork might become dominant over a tribe that ate deer. So the traditions of a tribe or civilization might give it an advantage in that specific place but offer no advantage at all in a different place. Maybe some disease or parasite is prevalent in shellfish of the Mediterranean Sea region but no such problems exist with shellfish in the Atlantic Ocean. Such a tradition would give no advantage. That, then, forms the borders of that tribal tradition. That tribe will expand in area up to the point where its traditions no longer give it an advantage. In then either remains static, or adopts some surrounding traditions that help it to expand.

    In the expansionist traditions such as the Mongols and the Romans, we see that all the time. They were often quite willing to adopt traditions of conquered lands or adapt them in some way to be compatible with their own. The most successful expansionist powers practiced assimilation. Those that did not practice it found a limit to their expansion. How far did the Ottoman Empire make it into Europe? To about the Danube and that is it. They could not expand any farther because their culture gave them no advantage beyond that point.

  52. George says:

    Example: Pigs require shade and water. They are forest animals. About 9000 years ago there would have been plenty of forest in the Levant. At about 6000 years ago, severe drought set in. A culture that disdained pigs and found something else to eat would survive. A culture that subsisted on them as a mainstay would have died out. Pigs don’t live in the desert. Any cultures that kept pigs would have disappeared. Those with “cloven hooves” that do not ruminate were considered unclean. This is pretty handy when forest land is becoming grassland. Must have been something carried by the rabbit that made it bad to eat or maybe the land simply no longer was optimum in supporting them. The camel is easy to understand. A civilization in that region that ate their own transportation would never spread very far. Making your car off limits for dinner made a civilization mobile. Pigs would have been a waste of water.

  53. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    Um, I think using Kosher and Halal as examples of evolutionary advantage is a stretch…

    We Know, for example, that the Muslims picked up Halal from the same book of the Bible where Hebrews wrote down what God told them was OK to eat (or Kosher). As Mohamed preached from the Bible (most likely a Coptic one) there wasn’t a lot of ‘evolution’ involved. Simple transmission of a meme….

    Per “why pigs”… If you read Leviticus most of what it says is forbidden comes right out of sanitation and contagion risks. Nothing to do with water. (A kind of wild pig lives in the Desert Southwest, and we have loads of feral pigs in California with a dry “Mediterranean” climate.) What all those pigs have in common is a deadly food born disease of trichinosis. It is also found in many other scavengers (bears, for example). So many of the forbidden animals are scavengers of one kind or another. What is allowed tends to be ungulates and particularly those that are ruminants. Why? Plant eaters have fewer diseases to catch…

    One “odd bit” was the prohibition on specific cuts of beef to eat…. then it turned out the ones NOT to eat had large nerves in them and a risk of BSE… which we didn’t know existed until the last couple of decades… Almost makes me think God knew and told ‘em…. They were not seeing the Mad Cow prions back then…

    For shell fish, oddly, I heard that there was a known disease that, in the past, could be caught from shellfish; but it is now extinct… Also there are red tide issues…

    In essence, it’s exactly what it says it is. “Healthy” vs risky foods. (Cooking meat in milk back before pasteurizing and good sanitation would put a load of bugs from the milk into the meat and potentially parasites from meat into the milk. Hotter cooking would be better for the meat – a lite simmer of milk will not make the middle of a chunk of meat hot enough fast enough to kill all the bugs… etc. etc.)

    So I doubt that the list evolved in response to weather or climate changes…

    I see two reasonable paths:

    1) God told them. (That BSE thing is just spooky…)

    2) After a while you note that the guys who put moldy cheese on their semi-cooked meat tended to get sick a lot and folks just kept notes… “Old Benjamin ate that pig thing and he died. Then his kids ate some and they died. Don’t eat the pig things…”

    BTW, in North America at least there is Rabbit Fever: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tularemia
    It can be lethal. NEVER skin a wild rabbit without gloves on. ALWAYS inspect inside the skin for any blisters or lesions. (Thus, IMHO, the prohibition on rabbits and animals with lesions). The stuff is spread by ticks too and is considered a viable biological warfare agent. Yeah, that bad… That they excrete a special kind of ‘poo’ and eat it (a fermented lump that has a load of vitamins in it, made in a special organ and NOT the daily typical poo – said organ that became the appendix in humans…) causes them to be seen as “unclean”, but it’s the rabbit fever that’s the real risk…

    Right on down the line, it’s that kind of thing. Mostly bacterial diseases…

    Just think: “No antibiotics and poor sterilization with some contamination in the water” and a lot of it makes sense…

    It would be a lot better to look at Eskimo traditions for an example of a cultural tradition involving food. 2 key elements.

    Bear liver can have so much vitamin D in it as to be lethal. Only small amounts can be eaten and it is treated like a vitamin pill… also thorough cooking required to kill trichinosis.

    The adrenal glands of some animals contain a lot of vitamin C. It is carefully cut to portion and shared among the tribe members like a vitamin pill to prevent scurvy.

    There are more such in their traditions, in some cases things you would only learn living in the arctic for a while… so clearly cultural and transmitted. Like reading weather signs.

  54. Pascvaks says:

    Thoughts-
    Civilization makes liesure time, liesure time makes for play and thought time, thought time makes new questions-ideas-things, new questions-ideas-things makes want go away, the less you want the less you think and play and the more you sit and watch, the less you think and the more you sit and watch the less you have, the less you have the more you want, the more you want the more you think. Why aren’t mice civilized? Too much want, no time to play and think.

    In general, individuals who must rely on their own wits and devices are smarter than those who do not need to do so. Civilization makes people dumb and lazy and there is a point of no return.

    Tribes need very smart and observent people with long memories or they don’t last very long; after a while, civilizations don’t need any one individual (or group) in order to survive for a generation or two. Tribes grow until they don’t. Civilizations grow until they don’t too. No special consideration is given to merit or art or genius, it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world, and you either make it, or you don’t.

    The first rule of Families: Don’t trust anyone who’s not a member of the family.
    The first rule of Tribes: ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” .
    The first rule of Civilizations: ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” .
    The first rule of Planets: ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” .

  55. George says:

    One “odd bit” was the prohibition on specific cuts of beef to eat…. then it turned out the ones NOT to eat had large nerves in them and a risk of BSE… which we didn’t know existed until the last couple of decades… Almost makes me think God knew and told ‘em…. They were not seeing the Mad Cow prions back then…

    What I am saying is that some tradition can allow a certain behavior to be “selected in”. Say at some point there were two tribes. One tribe forbade the eating of those certain cuts of meat, another tribe had a tradition where those same cuts were considered a delicacy. Over a 5000 year period, a very small advantage in survival becomes huge. One tradition dominates.

  56. Ian Ogilvie says:

    Mob, pack, herd, flock, are all deeply instinctive signatures of those animals which behave in that manner and that includes our tribalism. Many people and cultures and religions construct elaborate delusions to separate human behaviour from the animal world and instincts.
    Not that I intend to disparage a good delusion, it can often be more fun or comforting than reality.
    And I was not disparaging the formalized and subtle moderating of such instincts into what we call civilization. It’s mostly pretty good stuff; it serves us well and is no less real for being our construct. Tennyson did nature and social and economic fashionable philosophy no good turn with his, “Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw”. That’s only part of it. Instinctive collective, cooperative and symbiotic behaviour is a bigger part of the picture than unalloyed competition. This applies to all animal life, from bateria upwards. So while a power based kleptocracy is one underlying character trait of human society there are instinctive / cultural controls
    —————————————-
    Food and diet, more instincts and culture,…very complicated, a blurred line we will never define.
    But you can safely say that if a human has reached adulthood then they have had pretty much exactly the same diet as every other human adult on the planet. They will undoubtedly have got the constituent nutrients from a great variety of different sources depending on their local environment or culture. But the nutritional needs are the same and they must be met one way or another or the individual dosen’t survive or reproduce. The same rules apply to all animals.
    A good and easily demonstrated example can be seen every day on most of the grasslands of the world. Most pastures are in themselves nutrionally inadequate to keep alive the herbivors which feed on them. Leaching of soluble trace nutrients from the soil such as sodium and phosphorus mean that some other source must be found other than the vegitation. Natural rock and soil containing these things attract the herbivors which are deficient and they lick or chew the soil or rock. Where our fences stop movement of the animals we must provide artificial salt blocks which come in a variety of formulars depending on the local needs.
    If natural or artificial salt licks are not available the herbivours will seek out the bodies of dead animals and instinctively chew the bones to get phosphorus and other bits to get sodium.
    Sheep on the Orkney Islands will search the ground nesting sites of the prolific sea birds and carefully tip over live nestlings onto their back and nip off the bird’s legs to get the phosphorus in the leg bones. One way or the other their instincts will guide them to get what they need.
    With humans its just the same although experimental demonstration is difficult, damn those ethics committees. (Just kidding).
    One unique circumstance did clearly demonstrate it though. In 1972 when a Uruguayan plane crashed in the high Andes Mountains the passengers, who were members of a national football team, were trapped in snow covered mountains for many weeks with no food. They quickly overcame their cultural inhibitions about eating the bodies of those passengers who died in the crash. They intitialy ate those cuts of human meat which were coincident with those they would culturally choose from domestic animals. Even though red muscle meat provides a good range of nutrition, over many weeks they did become slowly deficient in various requirements.
    Some developed instinctive cravings for things like brain which provided some of those nutrients they were lacking.
    ———————
    Rabbit Fever sounds scary. I checked the net and there has only been one reported case of some type of Tularemia in the far tropical north of Austalia thank God. Some guy cut his toe in a swamp and got a case somehow.
    Which is just as bloody well because I’ll soon be moving to the countryside where there are many bunnies and I’m collecting rabbit pie recipes.
    Here’s to good red wine good rabbit pie and good company…from our tribe. That’s civilization.

  57. Pascvaks says:

    FYI: (Pic=1Kwords)
    “Kwords” is Viking-speak for ‘1,000 Words’

    Thanks to –

    http://bergheimfollies.blogspot.com/2012/03/whoooo-me.html

    and

    http://thewhitedsepulchre.blogspot.com/2012/03/governmental-irony.html

  58. tckev says:

    As the big Fed Government bobbles-up all the wealth, local governments are going bankrupt.
    From http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2855882/posts
    is a list of 17 Cities Likely to Declare Bankruptcy –
    1. San Diego, Ca.
    2. New York, NY
    3. San Jose, Ca.
    4. Cincinnati, Oh.
    5. Honolulu, Hi.
    6. San Francisco, Ca.
    7. Los Angeles, Ca.
    8. Washington, D.C.
    9. Newark, NJ
    10. Detroit, Mi
    11. Reading, Pa
    12. Joliet, Il
    13. Camden, NJ
    14. Hamtramck, Mi
    15. Central Falls, RI
    16. Paterson, N.J.
    17. Chicago, Il
    Some I was expecting, many others not, they missed Stockton CA from the list.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-29/stockton-california-moves-closer-to-bankruptcy-on-council-vote.html

    Most pundits believe that this is just the tip of a very large iceberg and are talking of the possibility of hundreds or more.
    So this is the start of a recovery?

  59. Pascvaks says:

    @tckev
    Interesting. First reaction: So what! (not ‘so what’ about your bringing this up in a comment, it is interesting; what I mean ‘so what’ about is that these idiots dug their holes now they have to face the music, ergo ‘So What!’) Perhaps, like many (or not), I do not appreciate what your point is and need some help. Unless El Presidente OBYuan wants to pay everyone’s bills for over extending themselves and promissing their employees benefits that now can’t be delivered now and in the future, which would likely cause BIG riots again in some very strange neighborhoods, what does the bankruptcy process mean to me if I don’t live in one of these idiot cities? Is is really such a bad thing, really? (Mind you, I’m talking ‘cities’ and not about our bankrupt ‘country’ — that’s different;-)

    PS: Really, maybe I’m out to lunch? I did take a late nap.

  60. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pascvaks:

    The first instinct of Socialisms when their “givaway” plans fail (be they “social justice” plans, or “welfare payments” or just “overly large benefits to union buddies working in the government”) is to find New Funding. That is, more taxes, higher taxes, taxes on someone or something else, and raking in money from any OTHER government that isn’t on the ropes yet.

    We can see this presently in fine form in Greece…

    What the like of local bankruptcies shows is that The Game Is Afoot to “third party the debt”.

    There will be cries for new local taxes, but also cries for more “revenue sharing”. First from the State, then from The Nation. (In the case of Greece, it’s gone to the EU for the first few traunches, and now the EU has said “enough” so they’ve headed off to the IMF – which gets some of its funding from the USA and other non-EU countries…)

    So for those Cities, you can bet they will try to find a way to, for example, shed their pension obligations onto the Federal level Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation… (that then raises the ‘insurance rate’ is charges all OTHER companies with pension plans…). One can only hope that will be stifled as it was intended for companies, not governments… but a friendly Executive Order can fix that, no doubt….

    So why does it matter to you? If you have money in your pocket, they will be trying to find a way to take it. That’s why. I could easily see, for example, a “California Pension Security Plan” that would amount to a tax of $1 on each carton of produce shipped out of State. That would put the burden on all the forks of the rest of the nation at every meal. Since California produces a large part of the row crops of the nation, there are not a lot of other places to get your fork fodder… And that is just ONE idea from 20 seconds of muse. They will have hundreds of such ideas from thousands of staff hours… (Note that several of the largest cities in California are on that list…)

    BTW, love the irony of that bear poster ;-)

    @Ian Ogilvie

    Well, glad to see that you have little Rabbit Fever to worry about… but I do have to say that bunnies are better as friends than as entre… Chickens are for eating, rabbits are for petting ;-)

    On food compulsions: There is an entire branch of research that looks at folks with compulsions to eat dirt. They found in many cases an underlaying mineral deficiency… in other cases the minerals neutralize some other harmful aspect of an available food:

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

    @George:

    I get your point – statistical bias will win even if you don’t know why – but it is my understanding that BSE is a new disease. It came about from feeding sheep offal to cows. So how did they know to prohibit something that didn’t exist then, but could come into existence? Hmmm….

  61. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; BSE is a “new disease” to medical science but, has been known to shepherds for eons. Just as AIDS is a “new disease” but was described in a National Geographic article on certain African tribes that hunted monkeys, in the 1950s. BSE has been known to also exist in wild American Elk. I would suspect that humans are mostly immune to BSE. pg

  62. E.M.Smith says:

    Um, BSE IS new and could NEVER be known to shepherds, as they farm sheep, not cows…

    I think you are confounding the related ‘Scrapie’ in sheep. Except that is not shown to cause any illness in humans…

    Also, the Elk version is different.

    This is a critical point:

    As each species has a slightly different version of the protein involved, the ‘refolded’ version is also slightly different. Only SOME animals refolding can be infective in humans. So you simply can not apply the name of the disease in ONE animal to a different species, as it quite literally is a different protein with a different folding and different infectiv\ity of humans (often zero!)

    So BOVINE spongiform encephalopathy can ONLY be in bovines.

    That is not a trivial point as the particular of exactly which species and how closely related determines “who can infect what”. So sheep can not infect humans. But they can infect cows, where the shape changes, and the cow stuff can then infect humans.

    There are many more such species specific infection limits.

    So the presence of some non-bovine SE in Elk may mean exactly nothing to humans… just like scrapie does not infect humans.

    This is a really really important point! It required “cannibal cows” to create BSE and that practice is only a modern one.

  63. Pascvaks says:

    ;~( So why won’t they let me give blood, that’s discrimination, and discriminating is bad, and when I cry I lose sleep and feel bad too, I’m gonna’ sue, I’m gonna’ make all of you pay for some stupid people in a different country I didn’t even know who fed chiken poo and sheep guts and cow barf to some poor cow that my wife bought in and Air Force commissary and cooked and put on the table in England and she and I and our daughter ate as the bombers were flying to say hay to Gadafi, and just because ‘some’ folks died now we’re discriminated against forever and always, and that’s not fair, it just ain’t fair, and I know there’s a lawyer out there that wants to give me 2% of anything we win in court –after expenses– and then you’ll see how bad y’all have been to me and my family; I just can’t stand it no more, I just know I ain’t got it, and one day I’m even gonna’ die, but don’t we all, well most, y’ll have shamed me and mine and I’m gonna’ get even, just you wait, Lawyer Phenyous G. Daget IVwill be sending y’all somethin’ real real soon; my blood is as good as any of y’ern and yer gonna’ take it or be sued royal, and that’s a promise, nuttin’ wrong with me and mine, we’re as sane as you and y’rn, it’s discrimination, I tell ya’, it’s descriminating, y’all gona be sorry, mark my words….etc., etc., etc.)

    PS: Have you ever wondered where I come up with some of the things I do; want some blood? ;~)

  64. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: Don´t forget to notice that PRIONS, being protein molecules, are the product of such a recent “blessing” of that “New Age Science/Post-Normal Science” madness called RECYCLING.
    Mad cows disease was caused in GREEN and broken Europe by precisely RECYCLING cows´proteins as feed to other cows. Just ask what recycling means in any chemical plant….apart from the obvious (not so obvious for the maddening ideologues´crowd) ECONOMIC principle that EVERY RECYCLING CAUSES and INCREASES POVERTY.
    This calls our attention, also, to the fact that all matter/energy is information, contains information, and whenever we recycle we´ll encounter the known phenomenon of reinforcing of such information. You know what happens in a software program when looping becomes unending.

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