What to do about college loans

So Biden is again talking about college loan forgiveness, there is once again a lot of buzz about reducing or outright excusing college loans, and both sides are providing feeble arguments.

So, just upfront on this, let me state that there are, at present, no government college loans in my name. I have paid off everything in that department, so while I know people whom this will affect, nothing here affects my credit report or bank account one way or the other.

So I think the best way to go over this is to go over some of the bad arguments.

Bad Argument 1 (from the Right): “You took out a loan; it is your responsibility to pay it back.”

This argument wants to treat a college loan as it is entirely equivalent to a small business loan or a mortgage.

Let’s test this out.

Okay, first, college costs have risen drastically over the last few decades because (1) Government subsidies and loans have allowed colleges to jack up their prices (2) Government has been less than accommodating to the expansion of colleges, either cracking down on institutions with low standards with the intent of shutting them down rather than working with them to improve their standards or conversely not caring at all and letting the low standard places grow like weeds (depending on which side is in power it’s on of these extremes or the other…no moderate way of regulation to offer incentives to improve) (3) government has all but shut out private loans except at the most usury stakes.

Does this compare to a traditional loan? Well, in the way that the government has had a hand in creating the housing bubble through their encouragement of the sub-prime market, there is a comparison, and indeed, some cities with their NIMBY nonsense have instituted a similar lack of competition. But this is where the comparisons cease.

It should also be noted that as it is the government who is responsible for the price increases, it’s hard to say, “here we jacked up the price you pay for it.”

But unlike a lot of those loans, where you could declare bankruptcy if can’t pay your loans, you can’t declare bankruptcy for most college loans. Now you might think that is a good thing because people shouldn’t have to pay back what they borrow, realize that one of reasons why Congress is granted the power to set laws on bankruptcy is because that even in the 1780s that saddling people with life long debt is the surest way to stifle an economy. Even in an era where they understood next to nothing about economics, they knew this. People need to get out from debt sometimes and shouldn’t be punished for their entire life for a bad decision…and the way we treat college loans throw that out the window.

Bad Argument 2 (from the left): Education should be free

No. No, it shouldn’t. Things cost money. Whether medical care or education or anything else, the dimwitted progressives who think it is a right simply because they want it. Things cost money. You have to pay people to perform these functions. Teachers need money to live. Building requires capital to be built and be kept up to code. There need to be administrations to make sure the whole thing runs well, and there need to be regulations and thus regulators to ensure that standards are met from an outside perspective. And all that costs money. Hence it cannot be free.

And just having the government pay for it isn’t free because people pay taxes to provide that government money and history shows that things that the government pays for are usually wasted. For instance, the highest-paid government figure in almost every state is a college basketball or football coach… significant investment of taxpayer funds right there. All of it wasted on the the most useless of expenditures.

And before the crazy left says tax the rich…please remember that your beloved Nordic countries tax the rich at a lower percentage than the US does. That’s right; it’s the middle class that gets their pockets picked in your beloved Sweden and Norway. Stop saying you want to be like Sweden until you admit that would require driving up taxes on the middle class and the poor—which personally I would rather avoid as the middle class is traditionally where innovation comes from.

Now, what is a fact is that college should not cost as much as it does. And the government could have a hand in that. College textbook prices are the definition of a cartel designed to create monopolistic price controls. Justice Department could get on that. The government could also state that it would only supply specific percentages of funds for individual colleges that do not meet the criteria of cost-saving measures. Maybe cut the useless taxpayer-funded sports programs at all public schools. The rest of the world runs sports by the free market; perhaps we could try doing the same thing.

Bad Argument 3 (from the Right): It’s wrong to make taxpayers pay for this.

While things should not be free, it is not like this is not something that has a high rate of return for taxpayers. The fact of the matter is, for most people, the better the economy does, the better they do in the aggregate. The more people who are educated, the better the economy does, especially right now if we focus that kind of education in STEM fields.

We are burdening the portion of our society with the most potential with ridiculously high loans on the very thing that made them have high potential.

It is hurting economic progress, which is something we very much need. While the stock market has been going up, more meaningful metrics like worker productivity and innovation have been stagnant for the last decade. And while I’m sure there are more than a thousand causes for this, probably the fact that the people most likely to come up with innovations that will breathe true life into the economy have a college loan to worry about and thus can’t afford to open the next Apple or Amazon might have something to do with it . Keeping this segment of the workforce burdened hurts the economy and therefore hurts taxpayers who didn’t get a college degree because their life is not being made better by the educated as it should be.

Now the question really should be which method would most benefit the average person, but neither side wants to deal in this kind of technical and rational debate about models of investment. But this is more egregious when the argument that comes from the Right, which was supposed to be the side that understood investment and prosperity.

Bad Argument 4 (from the left): everyone should go to college

Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe someday.

But right now, not everyone is up to that. Indeed, probably more people need to invest in trade skills, and we should likely expand what loan programs exist to more readily include such options. But not everyone is capable of handling college-level work, and right now, the Flynn effect isn’t exactly working fast enough to make me think that this will change at any point in my life. However, we should put more investment into vocation and trade school training for rising markets.

But let’s make something clear.

The future is people with a college education.

If you think you can have a nation that survives on people without education, you are looking for a nation that will quickly join Rome, Byzantium, Athens, the Tang Dynasty, the Gupta Empire, and Carthage in the dust bin. Every year machines and computers do more and more work and nothing is going to change that. All those great jobs that you look to vocational training programs to provide workers for…well, guess what, they’re going to be gone sooner rather than later.

Now here are some good arguments:

The government, through their ill-thought-out loan program, has incentivized colleges to jack up prices, they have helped create a monopolistic market, viler than any trust they have broken up, that forces people to choose between not having an education and, ergo, not having economic security later in life and or having an education and debt. There are many people to blame for this, but the federal government has a great deal of blood on its hands in this situation.

So should the government forgive loans? Perhaps, they caused this, and they should foot the bill to some degree, but they should do so in a way that stops this death spiral of inflation and unacceptable loans.

Biden’s proposal for a 10K across the board forgiveness is probably a good start; it is relatively neutral in forgiving loans that people have no matter what economic bracket they’re in. It vastly improves the economic outlook of the group of people, educated adults, who having more financial security will translate that security into more innovation and investment in the economy at a time that we desperately need such things. And this will have economic effects that benefit even those who don’t have college loans. But the Biden administration or whoever comes next should work further on some other issues.

1. They should offer a further 5-10K reduction for students who go to or went to colleges that agree to a governing set of cost-cutting measures. Things like getting rid of sports programs which only waste money and do nothing for education; reducing funding for unnecessary extracurriculars (student unions can charge more on a voluntary basis to find some way to pay for their activities through market means); encouraging programs that put lower-level courses into online systems that can serve more students with less overhead costs.

2. Federal and state governments should work to change all funding for education from the current model where schools own the children to a completely voucher-based program where every American citizen from the age of 3 to 21 gets a voucher that can go to any accredited school program, or their parents can spend it on approved homeschooling resources. This will encourage more people to get their first two years of college done at a community college (as a state voucher would probably cover a community college but not a typical four-year institution). The aftereffect of this is that more resources don’t have to be wasted on programs for freshman and sophomore undergrads. It would also, coupled with strict state and federal standards, and making vocational and trade schools more open to people. Further, this would encourage more gifted students to—rather than going the AP/IB route in high school— to simply get their GED in their mid-teens, then go to a community college in the space that would usually be filled with their Junior and Senior year and then use the remaining years of the vouchers for paying a for a good portion of the rest of their undergrad.

3. To further encourage the growth of community colleges that can offer the same education that the first two years of any four-year university can, we need to admit that having a Master’s degree does not make you a better teacher (at least not in non-STEM fields) and that good teacher are what we need in these community colleges. Thus we have to come up with a program designed to accredit people who want to teach at a higher level than just high school but who may not want to go through all the bizarre theory classes that are usually (A) so specific they don’t come up the content for a community college course and (B) so detached from reality that they don’t make better teachers.

4. We need to encourage private loans to be the primary choice before federal loans for college. There have been several options, such as allowing loans to take a percentage of income for the first 20-30 years off a person’s income. This places a more significant market force on college education as people will be driven to loans with better rates, and those rates will be based on likely earned income by profession. Yes, as an English major, it might seem a little hypocritical of me to suggest we should put in a system that encourages more and more STEM majors and fewer humanities majors—but STEM is typically more valuable to society in terms of immediate quality of life. However, the fact is that most loaning institutions will probably quickly realize that double majors (one in STEM, one in the humanities) are the best investments, and they will encourage people to be as broadly educated as possible—a true liberal education that encompasses all fields of learning.

5. Another possibility is for states to offer tax credits for companies to pay for their employees to get further education that will be fully vested after so many years of education. * The private sector needs more educated people; they can pay for it. All they need is the legal coverage to say that if an employee leaves before they get their investment back, that they can require the employee to pay them back on a reasonable timetable and at an affordable interest rate. This would also make employers far more invested in providing a positive workplace because the only way they will really get their money’s worth is to have the employee stay.

If all of these items, along with others I probably haven’t heard of, were put in place, it would reduce debt by individuals, minimize government interference in colleges, and improve the economy and quality of life for the American people.

*I say the states because if I had my way, there would only be one federal income tax rate, same rate for all income brackets, only individuals, no married or single distinction, and corporations pay the exact same rate on their profits. There would only be a single deduction for all individuals, and most costs for businesses would not be taxed. The last thing I want is more loopholes and incentives in the tax code as, even for the best reasons, such efforts at the federal level always lead to more disaster and corruption. States can be far more responsive and adaptive for the best policy in this matter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education

Warner Brothers and All of Hollywood Appear Very Clueless About How to Make Money

So the Zack Snyder’s Justice League got released on HBOmax and a dozen other services throughout the globe. Critically it appears to be Snyder’s strongest showing ever, and early number from several out of US services suggests this might be one of the biggest streaming events to date. Certainly, we don’t have all numbers in yet, but it does appear that all the hype around the Snyder Cut is translating into high and repeated viewership numbers.

So, of course, Warner’s almost immediate response from WBmedia CEO, Ann Sarnoff, is that they’re not looking at continuing Snyder’s vision.

Huh?

One might assume this is because they just didn’t make that much money on Snyder and his more operatic and Shakespearean takes on superheroes, and thus, while it might be more artistic, it just doesn’t make money. And these are businesses; after all, they have to make money.

So let’s put that to that test. Keep in mind profit on a movie is usually somewhere in the ballpark of half the box office take (the theater keeps the other half) minus the budget. (Numbers taken from Wikipedia)

Movie Budget Box Office Take Profit

Batman Begins 150m 373m 36m

Dark Knight 185m 1b 315m

Dark Knight Rises 230m 1.08b 310m

Man of Steel 258m 668m 76m

Dawn of Justice 300m 873m 136.5m

Suicide Squad 176m 746m 198m

Wonder Woman 150m 822m 269m

Aquaman 200m 1.15b 374m

Whedon’s Shit 300m 658m 29m

Birds of Prey 100m 201m 100m

Shazam 100m 366m 83m

Wonder Woman 84 200m 165m -117.5m

Now, at no point can you call Snyder unprofitable. Everything done when he was in control made a profit. Even more so when you adjust for inflation. Aquaman’s director seems to have sympathies for Snyder, so it’s hard to determine which category to put that film in. But it’s pretty clear that putting movies with the least amount of Snyder input are the ones that make the smallest profit margins.

The fact is that WB wants the levels of money that Disney is raking in with Marvel…but the problem is that Disney is already over saturating their own market with their brainless, pew-pew-pew, quippy nonsense, and phase 4 of the MCU is probably going to begin to show that their fans stuck it out with them through the end of the Infinity Gauntlet saga and are just tired of this dreck.

A great movie from yesteryear, Other People’s Money, warns, “And you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure.” Disney has already cornered the market on dumb superhero market and ensured that it is long-term to see lower and lower profit margins. Warner wanting to get in this already dying market is just dumb. Especially because this method has shown to get them lower profits than the more serious take that Snyder and Nolan have taken.

Doesn’t it make sense to take over the market for more serious films than to just compete with a juggernaut you can’t compete with? Pepsi knows it can’t beat Coke, so instead of trying to it by popular fast-food chains, and ensures that they have a steady revenue stream. What Warner is trying to do in competing with Marvel on their own grounds is like Pepsi wasting billions in trying to convince Mcdonald’s to switch to Pepsi. It’s never going to happen.

Also, you notice that for whatever the style is, one of the reasons that Marvel works is that Kevin Feige has been in charge, and his vision is carried through. He might not be directing the individual films, but it is his vision that continues. And Disney had enough faith in him even when Phase 2 churned out some of the worst entries in the franchise. It’s amazing how letting someone carry out their vision to an end pays off. But heaven forbid WB take that lesson. Disney couldn’t even learn that themselves in allowing the last three Star Wars films to be a mess of bizarrely conflicting themes and visions.

Notice also the difference in how Nolan’s films also start off weak, but when he fuller control over them, their profits go up, but the more studio interference in the DCEU, the fewer profits are made.

If nothing else, the statement from Warner should have been, we are still waiting to see what the response to the Snyder Cut is before we make any decision based on the future of more Snyder movies. But no, they just declared that the director that traditionally has made them a lot of money is just something they’re not going to do.

Now to say that Hollywood is full of stupid people, nothing new. To say it is not full of unethical people…names like Whedon, Weinstein, Geoff Johns come to mind. But you would think, even with all of that, there was still the basics of profit motive. That they do what makes money and drop what doesn’t. You hear so much about people being told to keep costs down or productions failing for not having enough money to finish the director’s/producer’s vision.

But who knows, maybe the returns from the Snyder Cut will makes them do the intelligent thing and call Snyder in and say: “Look the film industry is dead, we all know it, and streaming is the future. So we’d like you to finish your Snyderverse for HBOmax, somewhere in the realm of 8-12 episodes (6-12 hours). Like Game of Thrones we’ll give you about $15 million per episode ($120-180 million). Obviously that is less than you’ve had before, but all film makers will have to get used to this. Your fans like your character development, so maybe in addition to figuring out how to do more practical (cheaper) effects, you can have a lot more time with them talking. Actors will have to take pay cuts. We doubt any of your fans will complain. Can you finish your Knightmare and final battle with Darkseid with that budget.” That would be a reasonable offer that would be in the best interest of both Warner and Snyder. And the lower budget isn’t a problem. The best Star Trek films were often the ones with the lowest budget that forced a more character-driven story. And while Cavill’s subtle but deep acting has been shown brilliantly well through excellent control of his face, it might be time to give him longer speaking roles to show how Clark has become more comfortable with who he is. If Snyder can’t do it on that budget, if the actors refuse to take cuts, if it is not a labor of love as they have all indicated…then the blame rests on them. But as it stands now, the fault is on the producers who are not making a reasonable offer.

But at the moment, such sanity is nowhere to be found.

And HBO still shovels money into drivel like a Game of Throne spin-off and His Dark Materials.

But let’s talk about how this is indicative of a more significant problem in Hollywood and is systemic, and I believe hurting them at multiple levels.

Hollywood has an inability to have follow-through.

It is becoming self-evident that long-form storytelling through streaming is becoming the preferred method of this nation consuming media.

They are seeming to get this.

They are also getting that the ideal season is 8-12 episodes long. The fact is that no TV show in the history of network TV did not have filler episodes that served no purpose. In the days before Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (great because of its writers, not because of its shitty executive producer…what was his name?) showed that you can tell a story through TV shows, in some ways every episode was a filler episode. Still, even then, the best shows trying to put out 22 episodes per year were churning out about 5 absolutely crap episodes every season. And the less said about clips shows, the better. So Hollywood has learned this lesson, but there is a bigger one they have not learned.

Actually, finish what you start.

How often have you not started a show because you know it seems a bit niche, and you’re worried that if you get involved, you’re going to have the problem of starting, loving it, and then having it canceled? The obvious example is Tim Minear’s great shows like Wonderfalls, Firefly, and The Inside. Great shows. Had the network just let them get over the hump of building an audience, they would have lasted for a long time…but we all knew they wouldn’t, so nobody took a chance, the ratings were low, and thus, it died. Granted, streaming reduces some of the pressures to build an audience, but not entirely. And this problem could easily be fixed.

If a network, be it Amazon Prime, HBOmax, FOX, NBC, or anyone, just made a statement as follows:

“We have realized that shows are best when they last 5 to 6 years. From now on any submission to us will have to include the expected plot for 5 years of a show, including a satisfying ending. They will update on what that ending is at the end of every season as they become more comfortable with the characters and story, and the plot naturally evolves. They may request a sixth year if we deem it economically viable. If they have lots of stories that go beyond that we will have a spin off show with its own beginning and ending. If we feel that a show is not economically viable to continue for the full 5 seasons we will make a decision to release a single movie to wrap it up, a graphic novel or series of graphic novels, or just a quick novelization of where the story was to go. It may not be ideal but you can trust that every story you start will have an ending and will not drag on for forever and a day.”

Any studio that promised its audience an ending for anything they started would have people far more invested in those stories from the first moment, and thus people would be more willing to watch them.

You’ll also notice that in that I dealt with the fact that some shows go one for too long, far too long. Yeah, the last season of a lot of shows are good because the writers are wrapping it up, but how many shows that are seven or more years have their second to last season be even watchable. Very few. Because while the ending may be epic, if you take too long to get there, you’re just limping along trying to fill up space.

But common sense ideas like that never come up in Hollywood because Hollywood is clearly not based on reason or even profit motive. It’s based on petty egos that say, “we’re not going to give into fan demands for a Snyderverse, we know better and how dare they question us.” Possibly the strangest attitude of any service industry I have ever heard of. And it’s not a very intelligent take.

The Snyderverse movies, even the early ones, will sell much better if the story has an end. That’s why it was always the point that shows needed to get to 100 episodes to be in syndication, people want an end to a story, and a show that can make 100 episodes obviously is going to be able to make it to an end.

We are rapidly approaching the point where the great movies of the early days of Hollywood will be in the public domain. When Casablanca, the comedies of Howard Hawks, the love stories of Tracy and Hepburn, and the oeuvre Cary Grant will be streaming on YouTube without copyright claims taking them down. Hollywood should realize that very soon they need to cater to the needs of people who want quality because soon quality will be available for free, and the hoi polloi who demand brainless crap are also the people who foolishly think their low education jobs won’t be taken by machines in the next 20 years. Might want to start investing in the cinema for the people who will have money because very soon we won’t need you if you don’t have anything to offer.

So, in short, RELEASE THE SNYDERVERSE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Biden’s proposes $15 minimum wage…what should we really do about that?

So let’s talk about Biden’s $15 an hour minimum wage proposal.

I could talk about how this doesn’t need to be in a bill about COVID relief, but those who believe that this is an important issue will take the ‘take advantage of any opportunity opening.’ And since both sides have foolishly engaged in that behavior, there is no chance of arguing for not doing it again because no one wants to be rational and seek polite behavior that will make politics more stable right now.

I could talk about how this will make a moderate increase in inflation and probably a massive increase in the amount of unemployment for those who do not have higher education while also negatively affecting minority groups across the board. But economists have been banging that drum for years, and if you’re not going to listen to their facts in all those previous times, then why would you now.

I could talk about how this will even further increase incentives to mechanize and automate as much as possible as the machines will be so much more attractive as they now have to be worth $14.99, not the $13.49 set by the highest state minimum wage in Washington. Because again, you’re not concerned with economics…or apparently that Biden’s plan doesn’t have nearly enough investment in education to counter the fact this will put a lot of people out of jobs.

I’m also not going to point out that this will kill the economies in all those red states that still are at the national level of $7.25…meaning that vast numbers of those people in those red states are going to move to places that have better economies…meaning the MAGA idiots are going to move into other states and this will probably shift the electoral college map a little more to the red, which, right now, is a terrible idea. (I may have no deep abiding love for the Democrats, but right now, the opposition is a bunch of Nazis, so I have to throw in with the liberal idiots until the opposition can stop being evil).

No, what I’m going to point out is the continual problem all opponents of minimum wage increases have. They don’t come up with better ideas.

Let’s go over how all problems go—housing, minimum wages, unions, health care, climate change. One side identifies a problem. They then blow it out of proportion, making something that is a serious problem only for a small segment of the population for a period of time and makes it seem like it affects almost everyone for perpetual periods of time. This works because people are, regrettably, easily susceptible to fear. People fear they won’t have enough, so they fear they won’t have income or healthcare, They’re afraid of what they can’t control, and the weather is always the thing that none of us can control. They fear they won’t be needed anymore, so they fear an economy that requires constant change and growth. And, of course, there is the fear of the other that dominates the mental processes of too many people. They then suggest a solution that makes the situation worse. The opposition to this lousy proposal then does two things that don’t work (and I certainly have been guilty of this) they either try to argue that the problem isn’t that big. We shouldn’t freak out, and they argue that we shouldn’t do anything because what the other side suggested is a bad idea. The problem here is that if people are afraid, they’re not going to listen to reason. It took me too long to realize this, but at least I have realized it…unlike so many. You can’t reason with a person who is afraid, and if you try, you’re going to lose. And if you suggest that we shouldn’t do anything about the situation they’re afraid of, then you’re going to lose.

However, better would be to propose something that addresses the small issue that people were afraid of and deal with serious issues, and not only soothe people’s fears but fix the real problems.

For instance, when Obama suggested a terrible, bloated, pork-filled monstrosity of a healthcare plan that just exacerbated the problems it was meant to fix, the right should have come out with a that would have solved the existing problems…like every citizen in the country gets sent a voucher for $3000. Every private insurance company to stay in business has to offer a plan covering all major medical, long-term care, and emergency medical costs for $3,000. If you want better coverage, you can pay for it. If your employer wants to negotiate a group deal that employees can sign over their voucher and get a more robust plan through the company policy, they can. And Medicaid, Medicare, and a dozen smaller bureaucracies in the state and federal budget can just be disbanded. Everyone gets coverage, less government, costs less, and no forcing people to buy things (if you don’t want to use your voucher, that’s your call, it would be a stupid choice, but it’s still your choice). But no, they just said, let’s not do that.

And the same with minimum wage.

We could argue why the minimum wage is a terrible idea, why it will hurt economies and growth, and most importantly, the people it is most claims to want to help. But those people who are afraid won’t be comforted by the idea that is remaining with the status quo they’re afraid of.

So what should those who know the minimum wage is a terrible idea be proposing?

We’ll it may sound like beating a dead horse on this website but, the Universal Basic Income.

Unlike a minimum wage that will only benefit some for a tune of about $20K a year (taxed at the federal and state, with social security and Medicare also taken out) with still all the fear that comes with the possibility of losing your job…we could give EVERY adult citizen $1,200 a month, free of all taxes, and relieve not only the fear of not having a safety net but there are so many other benefits. People wouldn’t waste time filling out forms for unemployment or welfare, which can take over forty hours a week and leaves no time to find a job or get the education you might need to get a new job. We could eliminate the boondoggles of Social Security, SNAP, unemployment benefits, or the fear that comes that if you earn too much, you will be thrown off welfare. There would no longer be the incentives in the current welfare programs not to get married or get a promotion—just the security of knowing that no matter what, you will have a safety net.

And as a net bonus, because we would have a Universal Basic Income, that would mean we could eliminate the minimum wage. You know all those reasoned arguments on how raising the minimum wage hurts employment numbers and prevents people from getting experience…well, the reverse is true too. With no minimum wage, employers would be more willing to hire low-skilled workers at younger ages meaning that more people would necessary job experience and opportunities to be promoted earlier in life at lower education levels. If the positive effects of that aren’t apparent, then I think you oppose a minimum wage increase not because it makes good economic sense but because one party promotes it. And that is the worst reason ever to oppose something.

So your options are (A) oppose a minimum wage increase and lose (B) support a minimum wage increase and have ill economic effects (C) support a UBI which would eliminate vast swaths of government interference in the economy, promote growth, and reduce people’s worries about instability. And reducing that fear is one of the key reasons we have a government in the first place because when those fears are left unchecked, you have a second French Revolution.

Leave a comment

Filed under Budget, Government is useless, UBI, Welfare

The Private Sector Should Handle Social Issues, Not Government

This was a weird week. I actually saw supposed libertarian Rand Paul talk about “fair” in a Senate hearing. This was weird because traditionally, libertarians have been all about what is true, right, or just—these terms, while still not exact, are far more meaningful in an adult life than the concept of fairness. The libertarian position for decades has been, “Children whine about fair. Adults care about what is just.” And this is because we were all told that “Life is not fair” as children, or, at least, I thought we were. But there is some other odd things about these actions from the supposed libertarian.

To put this in context, these comments came during the hearings for Secretary of Education nominee Miguel Cardona. Paul asked if it was fair to have biologically male transgender students compete in athletics against female students. Cardona pointed out that not allowing students to compete can be equally unfair, politely held to the Biden administration line of enforcing discrimination laws for this aspect of public education, and Paul kept hammering on this being unfair.

Now to be fair, this is not the easiest situation. In an ideal world, biology would never mix up and make the brain set for one gender and the body for another. But life isn’t fair. Nor in a perfect world would people be ignorant and need education. But, again, life isn’t fair. And these aren’t things we can’t fix with the wave of a magic wand. We can, however, in addition to attempts of medical solutions, mitigate some of the hell of having your brain and body not agree by trying to be tolerant and accepting of people and judge them only on their character and merit.

But instead, we choose to argue should the government force transgender girls to not be allowed to compete against biological girls or will the government force natural girls against transgender girls. Either way, the government is forcing something.

Wacky idea. Why don’t we stop the government from forcing people to do things? Why don’t we stop paying for this crap in general?

Hear me out here.

In the great lands of socialism known as Europe, sports are pretty much a private venture. Yeah, there’s some basic P.E. education in school, and I’m sure there’s an exception somewhere, but all actual sports like football or rugby are clubs paid for by those who participate or by revenue from fans. I know it’s weird, in America, supposedly the land of capitalism, where we taxpayers pay to train the players in high school and then college and then pay to have stadiums built in our cities (and there are other ways taxpayers are bilked by professional and non-professional sports)…but in most other countries it’s the private sector that pays for sports. I realize that the U.S. has a long way to go to be number one on a listing of economic freedom, but this is just so egregious that it boggles the mind.

So why don’t we do that? Spin-off all competitive sports away from taxpayer-funded schools and rather let the private sector handle it. Private league and clubs would be formed. And not only would they cost less because suddenly it’s not the haphazardness of spending other people’s money, but every league spending its own hard-earned money. I’m sure there would be leagues that allow transgender athletes, and I’m sure there would be ones that wouldn’t, and I’m sure there would be ones in between that regulate hormone levels in the blood or something. And I most certainly trust that the leagues that are filled with bigots would not be popular and not get private funding and die very quickly because as we’ve seen by Parler’s death and a certain moron’s twitter account, the private sector can be a more effective in squashing hate than the government can. We as the public just have to let them know that we support businesses that have nothing to do with hate.

It’s a shame there wasn’t a libertarian there to bring this up.

Now some people are hating the private sector right now. And wouldn’t trust a set up like this. But they also hate that a private company is telling them what they can and can’t trade on that private company’s app. They hate that some companies are telling them what they can’t post on that private company’s program. There are still the fools who hate if a business decides if they want to bake you a cake or not.

They’re all wrong.

We should be praising private companies for being able to decide how they want to do business.

This last couple of weeks has shown that there are huge problems with some of these trading apps and that they allow idiots hellbent on burning the system down. Still, we also see that the apps and brokerages in question quickly responded in ways that would prevent them from having to declare bankruptcy (and probably to avoid being considered a co-conspirator) in what the SEC may decide is malicious and illegal market manipulation. The government would just have let a company they rango bankrupt and then bail it out with our taxpayer money (the names Fannie and Freddie come to mind for some reason).

While the government doesn’t understand that speech has to be free except when it presents a clear and present danger to public safety (specifically when you have a party that wants to silence companies that don’t agree with them while at the same time telling a crowd of lunatics to engage in a coup). Social media companies finally realize they can shut idiots up, and they don’t have to host them. And as it’s not the government, they can do that.

But while you might not be personally thrilled with the policies Robinhood, Facebook, or Twitter, you have to admit that if the government was in charge of these, they wouldn’t be a tenth as effective or a millionth as responsive.

And most importantly, those companies followed their terms and services. No one will be able to sue Robinhood or Facebook, or Twitter because we all agreed to their terms and conditions. What they did was all there to see if we looked.

And that is probably the one thing the government should be forcing other private companies to do.

If you’re a baker who doesn’t want to bake gay wedding cakes, it is better for people to see out front of the store on a large sign.

If you’re a private Christian school that doesn’t want to hire a homosexual teacher, that better be in the big, bold letters in the want-ad.

If you’re a private sports league that doesn’t want transgender athletes, you have to make it clear in the paperwork that the public can see and decide if they want to do business with you or not.

And once you announce you are a bigot you will lose business and once you announce you are against bigotry you will be in a safe place and only have to worry about the usual economic issues.

And I’m more than happy to not only make that kind of disclosure be public…but to make the violation of this not just some sort of fine for breaking a civil code or something you can be sued for…no let’s make not publishing this kind of thing fraud. A full-on criminal violation. So people will have three choices engage in the market and sell or work with people you don’t like, announce you’re a bigot (and hopefully go out of business), go to jail. The only government force here is ensuring truth in the market place, one of the actual functions that any libertarian would approve of.

But again, why would we ever look to the free market to fix things when we can go round and round in pointless squabbles for the camera.

Leave a comment

Filed under politics

It needs to be about policy not personality from now on.

Thank God. Our long national nightmare is sorta kinda over. Trump is gone, and hopefully, he will soon be in cuffs and a jumpsuit of roughly the same color as his skin for the rest of his life.

The problem is, of course, that the problems don’t go away with Trump.

There is still a sizable amount of vile scum on the right who believes in authoritarianism, populism, fascism, and racism. They’re now organizing and in control of way too large a portion of the Republican Party. For instance, in my home state of Arizona, the GOP just put certifiable lunatic Kelly Ward as head of the state party again. To say this woman is crazy is to insult everyone with schizophrenia. No sane party would ever have given this mentally challenged loon any power, let alone control of a state political machine. And we know that this is not just an Arizona problem.

And then you have all those idiots in the House and Senate. They voted to try and overturn a completely legal election. A just society would have them forcibly ejected out of Congress, in a courtroom for treason, and as quickly as due process allows onto a gallows.

And it’s not like the other side is much better. On the one hand, while Joe is a decent human being free of most corruption, it’s not like he is great. He was there cheering when Obama did all the same shit Trump did, just to a lesser degree. And it’s not like Joe has ever been on the sane side of the Democrats; he just repositions himself constantly in the middle of where the Democrat Caucus is. Yes, this speaks to a certain common-sense pragmatism that has been sorely lacking in the executive. While it won’t fix all of our problems, it will help restore a certain amount of normality and following of the law by our government. But it’s not going to fix all the problems.

Further, the less said about the far left of the Democrat party with Bernie, Warren, and AOC, the better as they and their followers are no better than Trump and his ilk and would likely have the same dismissive attitude toward the Constitution and the rule of law if they were in power as the outgoing administration.

So how do we deal with the fact that all sides have their fair share of a sick mix of crazy, evil, and stupid?

We’re going to have to stop looking at the personal side.

We don’t like any of these people. At all.

But we have to deal with whom we have. And since that is not great, we can only care about policies.

No caring about personality or character until at least the next primary season. Everything has to be about policy.

We have to support policies, not people, for the immediate future.

I don’t like Mike Lee, it makes sense, but all that matters is if he votes for laws that make sense and votes against ones that don’t.

I don’t like Biden; I can’t blame you, he wasn’t my favorite until the other options were vastly worse. Still, all that matters now is if his policy is good for America in the long run or not.

From this point forward, we have to only deal with facts, figures, and logical arguments about the policies.

I know I have had more than my fair share of insulting politicians on a personal level. And I know I could go forward as there is practically no one I would trust right now aside from Romney, Amash, and maybe Buttigieg. But with such a plethora of personal and intellectual failing to one degree or another, we have can either insult everyone or just focus on the policy.

We have to argue for the policies we support with facts.

We have to argue against the policies we dislike with facts.

And we have to search for facts from as many sources as possible.

If we see someone going back to personal attacks, we have to just respond with facts.

Every one of us has to only deal with facts.

It doesn’t matter that pretty much for all of us, the last couple of decades has been nothing but sniping at each other with increasingly petty insults. Many of them are justly earned by our interlocutors.

It’s not helping.

We need to get back to being for and against policies, not people, not parties. Certainly, we have seen character plays a big part in this, but we got to the point of the character being so crucial because we stopped caring about policy, and unless we all go cold turkey off the insults, it’s not going to get better.

And the reason we have to do this is that if we deal in the nearly infinitive moral failings of every side, we will get bogged down in the same swamp of extremism. If we make this personal, then we let politics continue to be the realm of populism versus progressivism, of socialism versus fascism, of a system where we lose.

The only way to stop this nonsense is to make everything about policy and policy only. If AOC and Ted Cruz, with their two collective brain cells, develop an acceptable policy (it won’t happen, but go with the powerful argument), we have to support it. Granted, from those two, you would want to make sure there are no devils in the details, but due diligence should be given to everything.

The demagogues always lose if we focus on policy. Tyranny always wins if we only make this about how much we hate one or both sides.

One last thing. Votes for tyranny and in favor of tyrants is bad policy and those who vote in such ways must be removed by any legal means available from any and all positions of power.

Leave a comment

Filed under Congress

The sad excuse that was Wonder Woman 84

Wonder Woman 84. Oh, good Lord.

I have not yet seen Shazam, Joker, or Birds of Prey (and probably never will, as I have better things to do), so I can’t say for sure that Wonder Woman 84 is the worst DC movie of the 21st century…but it’s certainly on the bottom of the pile. (Okay, that’s unfair. Whedon’s Justice League is the worst DC movie in the 21st century…probably the worst DC movie ever…thank god we won’t ever have to think about it again soon enough.) And just a fair warning, I don’t care about spoilers, especially with a movie this wretched. So if you want a quick recommendation: DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THIS MOVIE.
So let’s go with what was good about DC movies before this, including the first Wonder Woman, and why this fails in every respect to meet that previous bar.
Be it the social and political commentary of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy or the heavier philosophical themes of Snyder’s work–Man of Steel is a discussion of the flaws of Plato, Dawn of Justice a discussion of the failings of Nietzsche, and Justice League likely a discussion of the errors of Ayn Rand–the DC movies for the last few years have been of heavier thematic material. I think even Snyder’s original story for the first Wonder Woman was clearly more in-depth (likely a deconstruction of Calvinism that got a little muddied by being given to a different director). They asked serious questions and dealt with people as they really would act in such overblown situations.
Not that there weren’t bad moments in the last few years of DC. Green Lantern was such a rushed joke that they forgot to write a second act, and Superman Returns was cut short before Signer’s proposed trilogy got going (probably for the best, we’d all feel weird if we liked a series of films made by Singer). But there has been an effort to make movies that were more than just stupid comic book films that boil down to pew-pew-pew EXPLOSION! “[shallow catchphrase that sounds good the first time but becomes more idiotic every time you hear it].” Not saying that’s how anyone is making comic book movies right now…but…well…you know. Most of the last ten years has been an understanding that these stories are archetypal and have the potential for significant depth, and that maybe you should try and give these stories that kind of depth. Has it been everyone’s cup of tea? Not really. But it’s not like the shallow films weren’t there for people who wanted that too.
But the idiots at Warner started thinking that “hey, maybe we can make more money if we dumb these things down.” And so you got Birds of Prey and Shazam and Aquaman and massive studio interference in (a process that seldom if ever results in anything good) in Suicide Squad and Justice League. Luckily it sounds like most of those buffoons got booted out of Warner because the quality version made money, but trying to beat Disney at its own game was doomed to fail.
But even still, we can appreciate these less cerebral films for what they are. They were never intended to be deep and so they don’t fail.
Wonder Woman 84, however, seems like the bastard child that started out deep, got ruined by studio interference demanding a stupid movie, and then had some final edits to try and make it deeper again. A Frankenstein’s monster of art that never quite figures out what it wants to be and thus fails to be deep fails to be entertaining, fails to be satisfying, and fails to be worth watching.
Let’s look at a few examples.
There is an inordinate amount of time spent on introducing the revived Steven Trevor (Chris Pine in what I will say is one of the better performance of his abysmal career) to to the 1980s. There are scenes having him try on various stupid 80s outfits and showing him the technology of the last 60 years. It is a direct parallel to getting Diana an appropriate attire in the first movie and her wonder at the marvels of the world outside Themeyscira—the problem that those served previous functions. Steve couldn’t have her wandering around London in her armor, and she refused to wear anything she couldn’t fight in, so still served a point for the plot—where as Steve trying on outfits was all about fashion, so no addition for the plot. Each time Diana stopped to marvel at babies or cars or ice cream, Steve kept pushing her forward as they had a job to do—Diana giving Steve a tour served no purpose and was them ignoring the significant issues in the world that needed to be dealt with. Maybe they’re both stupid and unnecessary, but at least they served the plot in the first movie. And while I haven’t timed them, it felt like Steve’s wardrobe changes simply took longer.
And while they’re a lot of little things like this: cheap jokes and silly moments that served no point other than fan service and the lowest common denominator of entertainment, it certainly isn’t the worst part of the film. And nothing is more disgusting than Diana’s costumes change near the end of the film into the ridiculous gold suit of armor that was designed to sell more toys and Halloween costumes than serve any real plot point.
The worst part is that this movie, for the first time in years, felt like a comic book in the childish ways it depicted people. Green Lantern may not have been written well, but it wasn’t because of the actors making the characters seem like cartoons. I mean, maybe those movies I haven’t seen have just as poorly depicted characters, but nothing I have seen is as bad as the characters of WW84. Diana, a 3,000+-year-old woman, isn’t just foolish in her desire to keep Steve without having to give up saving the world; she’s in full-blown denial. She doesn’t even spend time trying to find a loophole to control her powers and Steve (something that would have made a much better second act); no, she spends three-quarters of the film merely denying that this is a problem that has to be faced.
Then there is the villain. A cheap, two-bit conman from the worst parts of the 80s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous…there are apparent attempts to make him Trumpish, but he’s too articulate, actually likes his child when the plot calls for it (as opposed to us having to question if he’s raped his child), and has a mild ability to plan…so any superficial attempts to make him like the Orange Idiot fail to understand why the wannabe tyrant is evil and need to be put in prison. But the fact that somehow this vile person who is willing to grant wishes involving nuclear weapons and murder would at the end realize that he must embrace the truth that he really isn’t a good person and that he is harming the world and that suddenly he loves the kid he’s been dismissive of the whole movie is just far fetched, to say the least. They give us this terrible flashback montage of how he was beaten and berated as a child and just wanted to be successful at something, but this ignores the basic human psychology of non-sociopaths who do terrible things. They make compromises, they cut corners on ethics to get what they want, each time making a small justification, and then another justification with the next ethical lapse, then another and another and another. And for almost every human being in history, to realize that you have made a mistake and need to renounce those ethical breaches and work to become a better person almost always requires that a person either lose everything and hit absolute rock bottom and realize their position is the result of their rotten ethical decisions or to reach the pinnacle of everything they’ve ever wanted and realize that it’s not worth anything. The villain of Maxwell Lord is at neither of those points when he decides to renounce his evil. Thus there seems to be no justifiable reason for him to reach this conclusion other than the fact that other people are renouncing their wishes (after having seen the adverse effects of what they did, something Lord was in denial about). Maybe if his kid had died, his turning back to the light might have been vaguely believable, but he was at the height of his megalomania when he stops his insane plan. It just defies the reality that every other DC movie has tried to bring with its characters giving us the most childish comic book kind of resolution.
But there is also another dumb scene in the film that shows whoever was working on this script (and I’m going to believe that Jenkins was under pressure from the studio and not blame her…but if WW3 is this dumb, I’m going to come back and yell at her too) has no concept of how people behave. There is a scene where Lord goes to see the President and grants the President his wish to have more nuclear weapons because the President says that will force everyone else to back down. What? No, President from Truman to Obama would be that stupid. Anyone who has sat in any military tangent position for any period of time doesn’t wish they had more weapons, more troops, more guns, more soldiers…they wish their enemy had less. They’re forced to get more because their enemies don’t have less…but if you’re handed Aladdin’s lamp, you don’t wish for twice the number of nuke you wish the Soviets had zero. Sure, Trump would be dumb enough to make that wish. Maybe if he were drunk, Nixon would. But even though they didn’t try to make the President look, sound, or act like Reagan, it was still supposedly in 1984. And having Reagan ask for fewer nukes doesn’t fit the villain’s cheesy theme of wanting MORE…but it also indulges a cheap fantasy of both the ignorant left and right that all who are opposed to the left are warmongers (the ignorant left sees that as a bad thing, the ignorant right sees it as a good thing—but in both cases, neither understands the truth that war is sometimes a necessary evil because there are things worse than war). It would have taken ten minutes of plot time to have Lord grant the wife of Majority Leader in the House to wish her stupid husband was President early in the film and then have a stupid president who doesn’t know what he’s doing wish for more weapons…but the producers at Warner in the time between Snyder being fired and rehired were incapable of understanding basic human psychology that no sane person with ultimate power wishes for more violence. There are a bunch of smaller points of people not acting like actual people, but aside from the characters of Trevor and Barbara, no one acts as a normal person would act in the situations presented in this film.
Four other small points. Who the hell saw Cats and thought, “oh, I need to see more of that!”? The invisible jet was one of the dumbest plot points of the Wonder Woman canon; it did not need to be brought back. The fact that all the carnage and destruction caused by Lord didn’t seem to go away leave massive plot holes between this and the Man of Steel (like why would Perry White be so afraid of people finding out about Superman…they would have already experienced crazy shit far in excess of a guy who can fly). And most importantly, having a picture of Diana helping liberate a concentration camp is not an adequate explanation for what she was doing during WWII…what about all the years the Holocaust was going on? Was she just sitting on the sidelines? (I know there is a reason in the comics for why superheroes didn’t get involved, but this is an evil so egregious you can’t just not deal with this).

This movie might serve some value for a drinking game. But otherwise, I can’t see why you should ever waste your time with it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies, Uncategorized

An open letter to Joe Biden

Thank you for helping to remove Donald Trump from office. The last four years have probably been the most dangerous since the Civil War. And I think I can speak for everyone when I say I support your call to be the President for everyone, free from all parties, not just there for the people who voted for you.

However, if we’re going to start restoring correct political norms that will benefit everyone, one of the first norms from the public has to be that we can not give in to a cult of personality and that we have a duty to oppose those in power, and especially those whom we voted for.

I voted for you, not because I agree with much of the policies you proposed, but because you seem to be a decent human being and that is what we need right now (I’d prefer a decent human being who has the correct policies, but I didn’t have that as an option this time). And I think that many of the people who voted for you are in the same camp. We are moderates, a few practical Libertarians, and Never Trump Republicans. We didn’t vote for you to expand the ACA or tax the rich or bring about the Green New Deal, but because we needed someone to restore sanity to America. And that milquetoast victory speech that was more boilerplate than substance is not a good start—I can admit that a victory speech may not be the best time to pick a fight and it might be a tactical choice to wait until January 20th before picking fights, but there did seem some missed opportunities there, but again, I will write it up as a tactical choice.

Now, I hope that you are looking to be what we hope you would be, but I’m going to state what I think most of us believe, and hope that at least the ideas presented here will reach you in some form.

First off you need to bridge the gap with conservatives, real conservatives, not the populist hacks that have taken over the PR functions of the party. That means there should be three to four Never Trump Republicans in your cabinet. Just one token Republican in the Department of Transportation won’t do it. You need to make a sincere effort to reach across the aisle and find the best people for every position. It might be a bit too much to hope that you put Paul Ryan in as Secretary of Treasury, but something that blatant is needed. Further, you need to reject BOTH extremes, obviously the Trump wing of insanity must be rejected, but so must the Warren/Sanders/AOC wing of your own party—if you want to heal this nation then these illiberal extremes must be given exactly zero power—the illiberal left is just as dangerous as the illiberal right. To embrace the far left is just as bad as Trump’s embrace of populism, it is an illiberal philosophy that has no place in America and if you tolerate it, then your words of hope, opportunity, and healing are only words. Also, if you’re going to go after Trump and work on reforming the police through legal federal means, you’re going to need a Republican AG to avoid making it look like a liberal crusade—I have no idea who, but a conservative AG would deflect most the criticism from all but the Alex Jones crowd (and there was never any hope of getting their support).

Second, you need to calm the worries over the Supreme Court. The left is justifiably angry over McConnell’s court-packing and the right is worried about court-packing from the left (whether that’s rational or not, that’s what governing for all side is, you have to calm as many fears as possible, even the irrational ones). My suggestion is you go to Justices Thomas and Alito, who are both in their 70s and might want to enjoy the end of their lives instead of dropping dead waiting for another Republican president. Come up with a list of Libertarian/moderate justices who believe in abortion and LBGT rights but in limited government in all other things (those first two are about limited government as well so it would be looking for actually consistent justices) and work with them to find a pick they can agree that they will retire if you appoint that pick. This calms the left and the right, defends the most important right you care about, and restores faith in the Court for all sides.

Now let’s come to your goals. First and foremost you need to re-establish our place in the world. That means a heavy use of diplomacy, of not just reestablishing free trade but pushing it (rejoining TPP, ending the Jones Act, quickly getting a new trade agreement with the UK, rolling back all of Trump’s tariffs, and challenging China in the legal format of the WTO). Free trade is an absolute good, and it needs to be encouraged no matter how much the illiberal sides of both parties hate it. And while Trump has done a lot of stupid stuff, don’t compound the stupid by just reversing his idiocy—for instance moving the embassy to Jerusalem was silly, moving it back would be just as silly and petty. Don’t be petty. And while we need to re-establish our relationship with the world let’s not be groveling and begging forgiveness. The world wants the US to be the world cop and the stable one in the room they can all look to for support, that does not involve going around and groveling (like your former boss did). We can admit that Trump was wrong without acting like America is always in the wrong.

Next, you must establish limits on the Executive branch. You need to push for a Department of Internal Affairs that can investigate every president and every elected official and which is free from partisan politics. Presidents are not above the law and this needs to be made clear. A president who breaks the law needs to know that he or she can be arrested and hauled out of the Oval Office in handcuffs. If you don’t push for some kind of way to limit criminal behavior in the executive then you’ve missed what the mandate you were given was.

Further, you need to limit the capricious dictatorial power of the Presidency. A president who refuses to work with Congress and just says “I have a pen and a phone” and rules by fiat is not a president but a wannabe tyrant. This can no longer be tolerated from either side. You are the president, if Congress is being obstructionist, you have the bully pulpit and your job is to convince the people to push Congress to act. Now, part of this must be using that bully pulpit to push Congress to return power to committee created legislation and not just letting the House and Senate being the fiefdoms of the Speaker and Majority Leader respectively. I know full well this is a long-term project that you will not see the end of, but it has to start sometime, and the sooner the better.

In terms of economics, again: Free trade. You’re not going to bring manufacturing jobs back, because even if a company moved production back to the US it would be done by machines. But what you can do is open up more trade which will create more opportunities in new fields. I’m fine with more investment for vocational training and retraining but we are never returning to a 1950s manufacturing economy, and I have to hope your rhetoric on this point during the campaign was simply a pragmatic realization that right now you weren’t going to win without that voting bloc. But now act in that voting blocs best interest and bring them jobs for the future, not lying to them about bring back the past.

In terms of taxes. Don’t raise taxes. Just get rid of the myriad of stupid deductions that exist. You know all those loopholes that Trump uses to avoid taxes. Get rid of all of those. The smaller the tax code the better. And if the upper and upper-middle class can’t just deduct all their income then tax revenues will increase.

It goes without saying that immigration needs to be reformed. But it needs to be said again and again that there is no power given to Congress to regulate immigration. NONE. Any laws that try to limit immigration are unconstitutional along with evil and economically idiotic. ICE needs to be ended and the borders need to be opened.

The CIA needs to put anything they can into Putin’s water that will speed up his Parkinson’s.

Finally, there needs to be a return to a semblance of honesty, reality, and humility. Real daily press corp briefings, hold the White House Press Correspondents dinner and demand they do a full roast of you (I get there is a pandemic, but this is a norm that needs to be restored).

Of course, there is a plethora of other things that need to be dealt with, but let’s focus on these.

Now, Mr. President-Elect, you could be all talk, and like your former always willing to give into bitter partisanship, always foolishly throwing gas on a culture war fire, always only looking to play to the most infantile of your base…but I, and I think most of America, is hoping you’ll be better than that.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What do to with the GOP?

Cathargo delenda est—Cato the Elder

I’m sure that quote means very little to most people. It translates to: Carthage must be destroyed. It was repeated over and over again by the Roman Senator Cato the Elder after the Second Punic War. If he gave a speech on the economics of Rome, he would end with Cathargo Delenda Est. A speech on the lack of morals in Rome, Cathargo Delenda Est. A speech on the new aqueduct…Cathargo Delenda Est. A speech on any…Cathargo Delenda Est. Cato the Elder believed that after the danger of Hannibal invading Italy in the Second Punic War that the only way to deal with the problem was to destroy Carthage completely. And he finally got his wish in the Third Punic War. Rome invaded the North African coast, laid siege to the Phoenician city where they worshipped Ba’al (you know, the god whose religion liked having babies thrown in the sacrificial fire), they defeated Hannibal for a second time, burned the city, crushed the stone, killed or enslaved the populace, and myth holds, salted the ground and cursed the earth that no one should ever dare rebuild on that spot. It seems a bit much, but I would also remind you of throwing babies into fires. And while Rome certainly then proceeded to make millennia of mistakes, one could argue that centuries of further conflict with Carthage would have been even more disastrous to all of human civilization.

Why do I bring this up? Because the Republican Party must be destroyed. And with all the finality of Carthage.

This is a party that has completely sold its soul, spine, and balls to a mentally stunted wannabe tyrant. The Republican Party must be destroyed.

It is a party that is beyond even hypocrisy—because hypocrisy requires you to have principles to be hypocritical about. The Republican Party must be destroyed.

A party who is seriously who is comfortable putting a person who wants a theocracy to replace the republic in a place of power. The Republican Party must be destroyed.

An embrace of racism, nationalism, white supremacy, crimes against humanity, a continued attack on free trade, and at this point meeting every single charge laid against King George III in the Declaration of Independence. The Republican Party must be destroyed.

They are encouraging a police state, unashamedly preaching that might makes right, will defend none of the rights enshrined in the constitution, and are making brazen attacks against liberty, capitalism, the free market, and rule of law. The. Republican. Party. MUST. BE. DESTROYED!

There is no reforming the Republican Party at this point. Yeah, Mitt Romney is still a man of character, virtue, intelligence, and maturity. There are probably still a few people in other offices who still have a soul, but their existence is few and far between and more proofs that there is nothing but rot and decay left in the Grand Old Party.

Even as late as the 2016 election the GOP still hadn’t fully shaken off the, by modern standards, minor crimes of Richard Nixon—if the party does not die it will bear the mark of Trump for at least a century if not more. That is not the vehicle to advocate for liberty, rule of law, and free markets. It can’t be. It is no longer and never again will be the party of Lincoln, Goldwater, and Reagan. It is the party of Trump, and that is all it ever can be from this moment on.

As I discussed before we need something new to grow in its place.

But to do that, say it with me now, The Republican Party Must Be Destroyed.

The name, the leaderships, the PACs, the mottos, the imagery. Everyone must go.

The good news is that history shows that it takes only 8-12 years after the collapse of a party in America for something new to take its place, but that is only after the party dies. The Whig party died a quick death after Willam Henry Harrison’s election…but the Federalists before them hung on as useless rump party for slightly nearly a decade after their last presidential election. We need a quick death. Why? Because it’s not like the Democrats are all that great. They have no understanding of how economics works, and while the liberal attitude to social issues might be better than the conservative one, it’s hardly the enlightened libertarian one. And while there are some Democrats who still understand foreign policy, too many of them are just as vile as Trump on this issue. They’re simply not a solution. No, we need to kill the Republican Party to ensure we have as short as a time as possible between now and when there is a viable alternative to the Democrats. (Sorry, Libertarians it will never be you—you’re simply not a party for adults.)

So how do we kill this evil?

First, stop voting for them and stop giving them money. In all forms. No politician, no PAC, nothing. Places like the Institute for Justice, Lawfare, and sane outlets like the Bulwark are fine, but at this point, I can’t think of a single previously conservative think-tank that hasn’t been polluted by nationalism and Trumpism (even my formerly beloved AEI is too welcoming to this evil). But anything that associates with the GOP cannot be supported.

The same goes for voting for them. Vote for the libertarian until we can get a sane party back.

If you can stomach it, ugh, you might want to join the Democratic Party and be involved in trying to push neoliberalism instead of progressivism (which is just populism under a different name). You probably won’t win, but you will show other neoliberals that they’re not alone and prime them to leave the Democrats whom they will eventually realize have nothing in common with the progressive idiots.

And it would be wonderful if we could boycott every company that supports Republicans and forces them to let the vile party wither from lack of funds. But the fact is that most companies give to both parties (they want to access no matter who wins, and I can’t entirely blame them for what is otherwise good business policy). But what you can do is look at what you can do is look for things you buy that you could do with two brands equally well and write to the company that gives more the GOP that you will not buy their product until the balance is changed greatly. And then actually boycott them, and tell everyone about why you’re doing this, don’t be pushy, but make it known. Granted there are only a few areas where there two equally useful products that it makes little difference what you pick but there is a lot of stuff with reasonable substitutes (I’m sure we could never get a firm consensus on whether Ben & Jerry’s or Baskin Robins is better, but we could all suffer through our lesser preferred one if we had to boycott one). I loved Sam Adams beer but then their CEO said nice things about a Nazi and I shifted to craft beers. And I know this is usually not worth your time, the last boycott I remember working was…well the Montgomery buses is all that comes to mind, but there has to be something more recent, but you get the point it’s not effective. But if you do decide to boycott you need to then put in the time to send letters to the company letting them know why they need to be boycotted. A letter, a tweet, and a post about why the company is supporting evil are probably more effective than you just not buying their crap.

The second thing we need to do is support any organization we can that is focused either on policy or legal changes (like the Institute for Justice) or that is working to restore some dignity and reason in politics (like Stand Up Republic, even though I know they haven’t entirely given up on reforming the GOP). And being involved as much as you can in local government. Especially difficult in these pandemic times…but I didn’t say this would be easy.

And then we get to the really hard things we need to do.

Like being involved in charity or community service of some kind. Again, I get this is difficult, near impossible in the middle of a global pandemic, but these are the kind of activities and interactions that actually build up community and social bonds. People retreat to tribes when they don’t have connections with the world around them. Now you won’t be able to reach everyone this way, but it will offer a way to build up a bulwark against further degradation. Find out what your church or other local community has for charity and community service going on in these wacky times we live through and do your best.

Finally, what should be the easiest, but will prove to the most difficult for all of us. We need to stop sharing news and posts and memes that make us angry or gleeful at seeing the other side gets hurt. We need to focus on policy, on actually working to hold to truth and facts and forcing our elected representatives to do the same. We need to check where things come from…for instance every few times TurningPointUSA will put out a meme or an accurate quote…but given that they are a bastion of populism, idiocy, and hatred of core American values, we can’t give them a free platform by reposting or reblogging or retweeting their crap. It might be true, but don’t give the vile shits who know that the most effective lies come between two truths. We’re all guilty, I know I am, but we have to be better. Honestly if it’s that good, just remake the meme…it’s not like it’s all that hard these days, even a five-year iPhone can mix text and pictures you find on the internet. If you reblog a meme, attach a real article that explains it and doesn’t let fools read into it things that aren’t there. If you an article that makes you angry, check it first, see if you can find a more authoritative version, make sure everyone agrees on the facts, and more importantly focus on remedies for what made you angry rather than reveling in the anger.

In counseling, you will hear that successful relationships are ones that look for the solutions for the future and unsuccessful ones look to cause blame while looking to the past or judge who is right and wrong in the present but only looking for solutions works. In relationships, we call society and the government has to be the same. We need to look for solutions, not blame or judgment, solutions. And in doing that we will simultaneously eat away at the foundations of the GOP and lay the foundation for whatever comes after it.

And this is made all the more difficult that this 67 million idiots country just doubled down on the evil of the Republican Party. But it has to start somewhere. Sure any new party will have to include some of this useless scum that voted for Trump, it’s simply not practical any other way…but a huge number of them are more sheep than human and will follow just because it’s the party opposed to the Democrats. Just so long as the party is structured to make sure this degenerate sector never gets control of the platform or the primaries we’re good.

Cathargo Delenda Est

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What needs to be done about the Electoral College

So once again there is, as always a call to end the Electoral College and replace it with just a national vote.

As if replacing one broken system with an even more broken system is a solution. Yes, the current system gives a bizarrely huge advantage to small states that have effectively zero population like Wyoming and the
Dakotas. But going to a pure popular vote will make all elections just pandering to the wants of the 10 largest cities in the country and will be just as off-kilter, possibly even more so, than the current situation. Both systems give too much power to one group or another and neither is a viable solution. Let’s not forget that the Founding Fathers recognized that there are supreme problems with democracy and the tyranny of the majority and that the more democratic you make a system the more likely you will have demagogues like Trump and Obama, not less.

But clearly, the system has given us hollow men with cults of personality for the last twelve years so it is clear that something is off and needs to be fixed. But complete democracy is not the answer.

To find a solution we need to go back to why it’s the way it is. Like so much of the Constitution’s creation, it was designed to allow for majority rule but allow for the minority rights to be protected. At the time of the first census, the smallest state was Delaware which had 1.5% of the population and 2.3% of the electoral votes. Now Wyoming has 0.17% of the population but .55% of the electoral college (from having the smallest state have 1.5 advantage over their population to now our smallest state having a 3.2 times advantage over what a pure democracy would give them).

We have too many states with next to no population and therefore a huge advantage in the electoral college.

On the other hand, we have a handful of massive states like Florida that make their swing state status make them disproportionately important.

So we need a system that both ensures states with smaller populations are not powerful and that huge swing states don’t control everything. The point is to force candidates to care about the largest swatch of the country if they want to get elected and reelected not just worry about their states and a couple of swing states (seen by Trump not caring if people die in blue states, and Obama foolishly dismiss the people who cling to their guns and Bibles). The point is to make sure that the President must care about the most states as possible. To do this we must have no bizarrely small states that one side can ignore, and no huge states that get all the attention.

And, while I know this is not popular (but one of the jobs of leadership is to explain to the public why the right solution should be popular—it is only unethical demagogues that pander to what is popular) by any means there is a way to solve this, here is what we need to do:

A constitutional amendment that states any state over 20 electoral votes has to split apart and any state under 6 votes has one census cycle to either get their population up or have to join with the lowest state that they’re next to…failure to do so will have their electoral college votes annulled.

The Dakotas become one state because it’s simply preposterous to think that a whole lot of nothing requires two full state governments. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming the same. As with everything north of Massachusetts. Rhode Island and Delaware serve no conceivable purpose and we all know it. But California would be broken up into three states, one probably blue one red, and one swing, New York would be NYC and everything else. Florida two states because no single government should be responsible for that much crazy, and Texas would thankfully be broken up because I think we can all agree that shithole excuse for a state deserves to be knocked down a peg (also, as a Dodgers fan, I need to point out that every member of the Houston Astros needs to be publicly executed).

By doing this states will now be in a nice 6-20 vote margin which means that now middle red states are important enough for democrats to care and the huge bastions of liberalism are broken into areas that become an attractive target for conservatives…i.e. the candidates will have to moderate their view and policies and actually be president for ALL OF AMERICA, no longer will strategies that just focus the parts of the country they want to pander to and two or three swing states. A conservative will finally have to care about things that happen on the West coast, a liberal will have to look into the concerns of the people in the middle part of the country who are afraid of the fact that their ways of life will be done away with by technology in another generation.

The only other thing that probably needs to occur in every state should probably reserve two of their votes for statesmen chosen for their common sense before the primaries even begin with the right to vote their conscience. How many godforsaken presidents might we have been spared if that check existed?

Finally, these laws that some states are putting in that force electors to vote with the state vote have to be eliminated also by Constitutional Amendment (because the Supreme Court recently made the dumbest error in thinking that electors, not representative who are elected to use their best judgment, which they are). If a presidential candidate picks John Doe to be their elector in the electoral college and come the day of the election John Doe feels that he can’t vote for the candidate that choose him…there is probably a damn good reason, and forcing them to vote against their conscience is just endangering the nation.

…Oh, and while we’re on the issue of the size of states, every state should take a long hard look at the size of their counties. Most counties were set up with the idea that a person could reach a county seat within less than a day at the time they were founded. For most of the history of the country that was the distance a horse and carriage could go in a day. And in modern terms, that’s about 20-50 miles. There are places in the country where if you’re just driving a legal speed of 65mph you can cross four or five counties in a single hour. This was a practical size when your governance was limited by the speed of a horse…it is no longer necessary to have that. Every country has swaths of redundant public officials and corrupt officers who like to keep their own fiefdoms and do so because they are able to control such a small area with a small level of corruption. Two-thirds of the number of counties in America do not need to exist because a single county seat for four or five existing counties would probably be able to offer the same level of service for a fraction of the overhead price. The government should be local in many cases, but that is what cities are for.

Leave a comment

Filed under Election 2020, Elections, Government is useless

How the Supreme Court Could Retain Its Respect

So at this point, the odds of Trump winning are getting closer and closer to zero. His people are worried they’re going to be prosecuted (they will be), some are even attempting suicide (can’t say I will miss the scum that pretends to be human or American), and a sane person (which Trump is not) would be running to daddy Vladamir right now begging for protection (he can bunk with Snowden, traitor roommates, I see a sitcom here).
But the fact is that even though the fascist will be leaving office (god I hope he tried to resist and needs to be forcibly removed) the court has been tainted by his (and McConnell’s) unquestionable hypocritical and unethical behavior.


This is going to leave us in a position where the Democrats are going to want to pack the court (which will hurt the court’s image) or the current nine justices stand with the mark of corruption on them. Neither is good and neither is in anyone’s best interest because we need to restore the three branches of government to some sense of reason, honor, and virtue.
But there is a way out of this.


Right now, Justice Clarence Thomas is 72 years old. The life expectancy for African American males is 72. Playing the odds, he is living on borrowed time and will likely die during the administration of President Biden—if he’s lucky, as Biden won’t be filling the whole term, he might make it to President Harris. If he thinks he’s going to just wait until there is a Republican in office again, he’s crazy. And either Biden or Harris will replace him with a liberal if he dies during their administrations.


However, if Thomas went to the White House during the first week of the new administration and said “I will retire if you nominate one of these 10 or so moderate justices” it would be a win-win (a libertarian judge who will not attack the liberal key points of abortion and minority rights, but will check the government on size and scope of government would appease the principled people on both sides). The rage over the Trump/McConnell sleaziness is quickly dissipated by the fact that you have a Democrat filling a previously Republican seat. Thomas ensures that the court only moves one step to the left instead of two. And the reputation of the Supreme Court is not destroyed in a fight to pack the court. Further, this means that Republicans are not encouraged to pack the court the next time they are in charge. And Biden would take it because it would mean he would not have to expend political capital on packing the court.


And the cherry on top is that Thomas gets to leave with the halo of a true statesman and won’t be just remembered for Anita Hill and living in Scalia’s shadow. Few opportunities ever come up to so clearly rewrite how history will remember you, and Justice Thomas would be a damn fool not to take this opportunity.


Quite frankly it’s a win-win for everyone. And that sadly is why no one would ever do it because there is nothing but pettiness and short-sighted idiocy in Washington on all sides at this point.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Republican Party Must Die

So as I suggest in a previous article, many of us should vote for the Libertarian candidate where it will not harm the chances of Trump being thrown out of office. To call the orange thing a cancer on the nation and the Constitution is frankly an insult to cancer. He is a wannabe tyrant who surrounds himself with the most vile filth in existence who have no respect for the law, rights, reason, or truth and they cannot be allowed. They are small bigoted people who want only temporary power and care nothing about securing “the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Trump and all of his ilk need to go. There is no question about this at any level. They are an evil that cannot under any circumstances be allowed to continue to be in power, and after they are out they cannot be allowed to roam free, they must all be jailed for the rest of their disgusting lives as a testament to what trying to destroy this country will get you. Vote for the Libertarian in safe blue and red states, especially in safe red—see if you can pick off as much as possible. But in swing states, if you can stomach it vote for the dumb guy over the dumb and evil guy. I know it’s not a great choice but we need to keep the union alive if we are going to fix it and Trump has the goal of burning it to the ground.
But getting rid of Trump is only the first step. The problem is that he tapped into a vein of evil in this country that I think many of us didn’t want to admit existed. Before this sad excuse for a human got the traction I would have said that honest to god racists were only about 5%-10% of the Republican party and Independents, and between 10%-15% of the Democrats, and maybe, just maybe 20% of the people who didn’t vote. Holy shit did I underestimate those numbers. I still think there are way too many racists and bigots in the Democratic party and they pander to interest groups without shame of the fact that they work to ensure progress and harmony don’t continue. But whether the racists were always there in the GOP (yeah I underestimated) or Trump brought in all those racists who didn’t usually vote (which he did). Honestly, I’ll never know exactly how far off I was because there is probably no way to measure accurately who came into the Republican party and who left when the stench of bigotry went from the fringe that everyone ignored to party plank, but it doesn’t matter. The Republican party has become a party of white supremacy, fascist big government control, and a complete opposition to the Constitution and rule of law in their piggish desire for power. Their own party platform says they stand for nothing but a blind devotion to Der Fuhrer.
In 2014 the GOP was still suffering for what now comes off as minor infractions of Richard Nixon. It would take a century to end the taint of the evil of Trump. And as the Democratic Party keeps leaning towards mindless progressive socialism we don’t’ have a century to wait to stop them. So there is really only one answer on what to do with the Republican party. Take a page from the Romans at Carthage, burn the party to the ground; jail, destroy or exile those who still hold to the name Republican, salt the ground, and never look back.
Luckily there is historical precedence for this. The Whig died after they elected Zachary Taylor (a man with huge popularity, no experience, and no adherence to the Whig party platform) because the party was torn asunder after his win in 1848 (unlike Trump, Taylor at least had the good manners to die in office and spare us the hassle of hanging him for gross incompetence.). But after Taylor, the Whigs quickly died and a mere 12 years after he was elected to his pathetic term (so really only 8 years after the Whig term ended).

So history shows that a new party can rise up in a relatively quick fashion. (And if it has to involve a Civil War where we slit the throats of every last bigot and not make the mistake of Reconstruction where we thought we could bring the traitors back into the fold…so be it. The good news is that now all the bigots lack having the best generals on their side as the South did, it would not be a national tragedy, only a massacre of mowing down Klansmen, skinheads, and Proud-boy incels showing them all the mercy they have shown to others.)
But what should that party be about?
We need to start thinking about this now.

So here are my suggestions. I’m under no illusion that huge numbers of people listen to me, but ideas have to start somewhere and if you find this and spread the ideas to other who talk about them to others, so forth and so on, maybe this can be the spark that will reach someone who really can change things.

Social Safety Net:
Replace everything (Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, unemployment insurance, everything) with a Universal Basic Income ($1,000 a month) which will guarantee that no one falls into poverty but no one has to waste dozens of hours every week justifying to the government why they shouldn’t be in poverty. A $3,500 voucher to buy any private insurance plan of your choice—along with a law every insurance company has to offer a plan for that price that will cover all major and emergency medical— will guarantee that no one goes without health care. We can therefore get rid of ACA and all other laws, rules, and regulations governing healthcare. Also with a UBI there no longer needs to be a minimum wage.

Taxes:
Everybody pays the same rate income tax rate. No other federal taxes, no tariffs, no death tax, no capital gains, no taxes on anything other than a flat tax on income. If corporations want the rights of individuals, I support that and they will pay the exact same rate. I calculate it’s 33% and a 14K deduction, plus a 2K deduction for every child (keep in mind you’re no longer paying social security or medicare taxes and you’re now getting a $1,000 a month from the UBI…basically, everyone, making under $75K is probably going to have more take-home money under this plan). Corporations get to deduct payroll, capital investment, and R&D, but not things like advertising. No other deductions for individuals.
Charities will have to spend everything they take in within 12 months of getting the cash (being allowed a 6-month reserve and probably some way to store money without taxation for larger projects). But otherwise, this will stop the practice of hiding family money in fake charities to pay out the kids from said charity…it’s not just the Trumps who do this.
Once the debt is paid down we can probably drop the tax rate further.
The numbers of course are all best guesses on my part and economists who can run better models with dynamic scoring should probably be listened to more what I can calculate on my spreadsheet.

Foreign policy:
I would like a return some sane foreign policy. Things like supporting the free market through trade treaties and engaging in the WTO, pushing for human rights, opposing tyranny through soft pressure where possible…and if necessary have small targeted and well thought out military action. And when that all fails to actually have a plan for what to do after a war is over (because the Wilson/Bush idiocy that democracy just magically springs up is just preposterous even before it was tried after WWI, and W. has no excuse for that shortsightedness). Support the good and push back on the evil, you know act like an adult and realize that isolationism has never and will never work, no exceptions.
The goal also needs to be absolute free trade, no tariffs, no Jones Act, no subsidies, let the free market rule and we need to push that for all of our allies as well.

The Military:
With that, we also need to modernize the military. The future of any war is more about technology and not about the biggest army and biggest navy. Out tooth to tail ratio (the number of people in the military who are in combat versus those who are not in the field providing support) is one the highest in the world, but that is more a symptom of waste than efficiency. There is a lot we can cut from the military and still have it be stronger and more able to react to the needs of the nation.

Education:
This is more a state thing but we should start pushing to transition to a completely voucher-based education system (about $10,000 a year). You can have public education, and they get the voucher, but charters, private, pods, and homeschooling need to be treated as entirely equal in funding and we will see who can get the best result for society’s investments. And if we make those vouchers go from 3 to 21 then we can guarantee universal pre-K and have everyone get at least some trade school or college it’s up to them. Really bright kids with a dedicated parent can probably get done with high school before the age of 18 use that voucher for community college, AND get a trade school degree, before still having time to put those remaining voucher years to a state school.
All we have to do is ensure there is a national set of standards and tests to make sure the institutions or individuals. It would again be cheaper than the current system, have far less bureaucracy and waster, and get much higher rates of graduation and college attendance with vastly less debt.

End the War on Drugs:
Let’s admit it, the corruption, abuse by police and prosecutors, gang wars it funds, and general idiocy in government caused by the war on drugs is vastly more destructive to society than drugs could ever be.
Just legalize it all and let states tax the sales.

Immigration:
Open Borders. First, because there is no power in the Constitution to regulate immigration—every member of ICE should be on a gallows for trying to enforce blatantly unconstitutional laws. Second, because all laws of economics and human decency show that there is no downside to immigration and anything to the contrary is racist lies. THERE ARE NO GOOD REASONS TO RESTRICT IMMIGRATION. NONE.

Limits on the Executive:ddddd
It has become abundantly clear over the last 12 years that presidents all too often are in their position because of a cult of personality, not because of their character, virtue, intelligence, or skill. Too often now presidents are ruling by fiat than by law and we need to stop that. We need Congressional veto of executive orders, we need an independent Department of Internal Affairs that can investigate anyone in government and arrest anyone but a Congressman (because the Constitution says they can’t be arrested while Congress is in session, notice how the founders put no such rule for the President so the DOJ’s policy that the President can’t be arrested is unconstitutional and right now anyone enforcing that should be strung up for aiding and abetting), removing the president’s absolute ability to declare national emergencies without having his declarations questioned, removing this insanity that executive authority means the executive doesn’t have to comply with the law…you know basically make everything that Obama and Trump things that will land future executives on the receiving end of a firing squad. Over the course of the Cold War, we gave the president vastly too much power and that needs to be undone.

Move as much power as possible back to the states for things that they can control by themselves
90% of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Interior, Education, Transportation, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services are things that the states can do on their own, and as much of those departments need to be returned to state power with only minimal federal oversight for issues of true interstate commerce, the tragedy of the commons, and externalities like pollution.
The Departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and the Secret Service were all cute experiments but have clearly been shown to have no value, made everyone’s life worse, and serve absolutely no purpose.

Removing government waste

Granted everything above would remove a vast amount of government waste and insanity but there should always be a goal to cut as much of government as possible, specifically the federal registry. Right now there are more rules that govern every part of the government than any human could ever be expected to read let alone understand. We must return, as much as possible, to have the rules of government be limited enough that a person can be expected to read up on any area they are working in and thus once again ignorance of the law is not an excuse…as it stands right now ignorance is not only an excuse it should be expected.

Public investment
At this point there is relatively little a federal government would need to do for national infrastructure as so much of it should be turned over to the states, but one thing the government should be putting money into in R&D, especially in sciences where the commercial value isn’t immediately obvious, there is a growing body of research that a lot of what we take for granted today was the private sector building off of scientific discoveries made in the immediate post-war period on scientific research that didn’t have immediate value to the private sector. If we want to retain our edge we need to be at the forefront of science and that requires not just improving what is known but breaking new ground and finding out new things. The market has yet to fully find a way to fund these otherwise expensive but not usually immediately profitable kinds of research. The best way to do this would be to set up public-private research funds (where the government will match a donation made by individual interested in this kind of research—it’s a policy that was created by Benjamin Franklin, so it’s not like it doesn’t have some impressive roots). Further rewards for coming up with solutions to major problems should be offered in return for only earning a minimal fee off their patents (because a person will spend hours trying to find a solution to a problem if there is a $100M reward plus the possibility of an equal amount in patent fees for that discovery whereas they won’t spend the time if they have to make the discovery and then spend a lifetime marketing something only to earn $200M, people have short-term thinking we should use it to our advantage rather than pretend it isn’t there). Batteries that will hold the kind of changes we need to make solar, wind, and electric cars actually useful, concrete mixtures that won’t wear down and require repaving every three years, room temperature superconductors, you know things that we all could benefit from but which may require the wacky genius of someone not working in a lab and trying something that no legitimate scientist would try because the scientist “knows” that it will never work.

Social Issues
Let’s take the intelligent libertarian take on social issues and neither fund nor hinder these things and let society deal with them and keep them out of government.

There are dozens of other little things I could go over but at the heart of it is a faith in the free market and individuals on the whole, with an admission that there are a few things it doesn’t work for very well. Respect for individual rights, and dedication to rule of law, and belief that human progress is both a good thing but that it doesn’t require either radical revolution or intractable stagnation.

So this is the goal. Does it have to be exactly like this? I wish, but I doubt I would ever get everything I would want. But this is a start for the conversation.

Leave a comment

Filed under GOP

Let’s have a serious talk about reparations

Recently I have heard the issue of the reparations come back up. Now, on the one hand you certainly can argue that slavery, institutional, legal, and systemic racism has held people the defendants of slaves back…but it is just as unjust to demand that those who never engaged in slavery to pay for those past mistakes. You don’t make things better by just adding to a number of wrongs and punishing the people who are not responsible.

So how do you make it so that only those who are to blame pay the price?

Further, the logical problem comes up with how long do you go back? Some of my ancestors came from Ireland, they were treated with bigotry when they came to these shores, they were certainly treated with outright hatred from the rest of Europe for over a millennia…but no sane person thinks that Britain should pay for the suffering my Irish ancestors endured. I mean, if you want to get crazy some of my ancestors came from France…should Italy pay reparations for their invasion of my ancestral homelands under Julius Caesar? That last line is preposterous but it makes the point at what point in history do you just say the past is the past and get over it?

Luckily there is a rational answer to both.

The first comes from the joys of genetics where we find that epigenetics is beginning to answer a lot of questions about why genes behave the way they do. Epigenetics is the study of which genes get turned on which ones don’t. For instance, that low metabolism you have, it might be because your parent or grandparent suffered from a period of great want in their life and certain triggers turned on in their DNA to ensure that their offspring process nutrients in a much more efficient way and store tons of it in fat because as far as their metabolism can tell the food is scarce and thus their offspring will need to have a metabolism that can store lots of food because there will be times it needs to run off only that fat…so one 10 year Great Depression ends in two generations of obesity and heart disease. And as far as science can find out, these triggers usually only go back to grandparents. And this affects numerous issues, such as IQ, metabolism, health, and personality, which in turn can have a massive effect on your life now. So from a very science-based way of looking at things, systemic racism against your grandparents is something that likely had an effect on you personally. So we will go back two generations. That is not going to address every wrong ever done, but it will address the wrongs that have a direct effect on an individual. And that is just, because it is not saying you should suffer or benefit from what your ancestors did, only from the very real environmental factors that had a direct effect on you.

The next question is who should pay for this? Because putting a tax burden on people now who were never born doesn’t make sense. It is the idea that the child should pay for the sins of the father (now it might be tempting to throw the whole Trump clan in Chateau d’If and throw away the key, but let’s be honest the kids have committed crimes on their own and can be tried and locked away for their own crimes and humanity is just as safe). So we should only make those who had a hand in these forms of racism pay. Luckily, due to the fact that corporations and governments are immortal, there are some very attractive targets to actually payout on this one.
First off, as anyone who has read Richard Rothestein’s excellent book The Color of Law knows that the entire housing market for the last century has been a racist mess (you should read it, it will make you unspeakably angry at the government for engaging in racist evil well into most of our lives, and then angry at liberals for not presenting these facts years ago…seriously if courts are ruling that segregation is only de facto and not de jure when it most certainly is de jure, a reasonable person is not going to get upset until they see the evidence that it is de jure…this book should have been published no later than 1990…and yet…). And we all know about the government’s last attempt to solve this problem: the subprime loan! Yeah, they not only encourage racism but helped to tank the whole system. But the government through the FHA made racism the de jure law of the land, and FHA’s inheritors Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac still have the blood on their hands. But in addition to blood, Fannie and Freddie have money and a lot of notes on house loans. Make them payout to everyone who can even suggest – that they, their parents, or their grandparents were prevented from owning a home get paid out from the complete, total, and irreversible liquidation of everything Fannie and Freddy own. Their total assets are around $5.5 Trillion but you’d probably have to fire sale that, so that’s only about $550 Billion…so that’s only a payment of about $13,000 for every single African American in the US. And the added advantage is that by killing Fannie and Freddy as they should have been eliminated a decade ago will do three things (1) make the banking system stronger as they will be able to acquire lots of mortgages at a fraction of the list price and less likely to fail again (2) lower the price of houses which in the long run is a much better system and (3) make that payout worth more in purchasing power as compared to today. Oh, government control over the economy would also be radically lowered. So actually paying out reparations in this way wouldn’t be hurting people who never engaged in these evils, but actually helping them.  Yes people who over invested in real-estate will be hurt in the short-run…but if you did that after the 2008 crash you deserve to pay for your foolishness.

But $13,000 isn’t going to make up for everything. After all the government engaged in contracts that prevent non-whites from getting jobs, police have harassed non-whites in ways ranging from annoyance to unjust fines to outright murder, and schools have systematically ensured that certain communities get lower education. No soft bigotry of low expectations here, this is outright evil. And you know who was behind those evils? Labor unions preventing non-whites from getting jobs, police unions keeping the racists on the street and preventing reform, and teachers unions making sure that the inept stay in their jobs. And you know what unions have, be they public or private? They have nice fat pensions accounts. Yeah, I’m suggesting taxpayers cease all contributions to those funds (because not everyone is to blame for this and doesn’t need to be punished further by continuing to fund this evil) and that those accounts be raided for every last cent. Yeah, some racist cops and some racist teachers will now be broke in their old age. I don’t care. (Please keep in mind I am a teacher and I do have some skin in the game when it comes to this proposal…not a lot, but money is money, and this is still the right thing to do even though I will be taking a loss.) Let’s throw in the pensions for every elected official in the country because their votes allowed all this evil to continue and they can pay for that. It is better that the people who had a hand in this evil pay, rather than a whole nation which would only lead to more animosity thus giving more fodder for the nationalists and populists to use against those who have already been abused. I couldn’t begin to calculate how much money that will be, but it probably will not be small.  And we’ll see how much the nationalists believe Blue lives matter…if they take care of the aging racists then they’ve put their money where their mouth is, but we all know that their support goes only as far as it hurts non-whites.

After that, we can certainly sue every cop, teacher, union rep, and legislator who you can show actively continued these policies, but that will only be pennies on the dollar compared to those pension funds…but those responsible must suffer.
Now, I’m sure there are companies and specific funds that can be gone after with the same logic. But this is the point, only those responsible and only going back two generations. This holds to justice and doesn’t allow people to think that they’re being abused.
Will this solve every problem in every minority community. Hardly. But it is a start and maybe if we’re lucky it’s a start that hastens the justice we yearn for actually getting here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Who should you vote for if you want your vote to count…depends…

So, there is a problem right now for those of us who used to think of ourselves as conservatives as to who to vote for. And I use the words “used to” because right now at best the term means absolutely nothing and at worst it means a Pharisee type of Christianity that bows downs to the altar of the orange Nazi god-king believing in nothing but white supremacy, tyranny, isolationism, and violence.

idiots

Ugh…are these really our choices?

But there was a time– not even a decade ago –when conservatism meant things like:

  • Limited Government
  • Adherence to the Constitution and Rule of Law
  • Free Markets, Free Trade, and leaning more on the side of Laissez
  • Faire without falling into anarchy
  • Globalization of the economy
  • Personal responsibility
  • Economic Progress that raises all boats
  • Equality before the law and shunning identity politics
  • Strengthening international relations and promoting liberty abroad and opposing tyranny.

These used to be the ideals of conservatism. And right now we have a Republican candidate who not only opposes but is completely antithetical to all of them and would do everything in his power to see tyranny and white supremacy be the only thing in the world, a Democrat candidate who only supports the international relations point, and a Libertarian who sort of supports the free market one (but to be honest is leaning just a little too much toward that anarchy extreme that conservatives don’t believe in). The only thing either has going for them is that they don’t have the blind cult-of-personality behind them that Trump does, which makes them infinitely less dangerous even on policies that are equally stupid as Trumps. Further, whereas Trump is unquestionably criminal and evil, the other choices are merely dumb.

So, our choices are voting for Mickey Mouse as a protest vote that will be ignored or maybe voting for one of the two barely tolerable candidates that might have a chance of sending some kind of message.

Obviously voting for Trump is out. The man is everything this country is supposed to oppose and there is no excuse, no justification, no reason to vote for a man who is a traitor, a fascist, a racist, a mentally deficient idiot, whose one and only virtue is that the morbidly-obese trailer-park slob is the living embodiment of sloth and we have only gotten a small taste of the evil he could have accomplished. But what we really want is that we never have to deal with this kind of vile ignorance again. And that’s going to be a problem because there is still a massive group of Americans who are vastly too stupid to be trusted to vote—God help us if the Bernie and Trump supporters ever realize they both support isolationist racists who want big government to have total fascist control of the economy. They’re probably not a majority but they’re a hideously frightening sizable plurality that has nothing but willful ignorance and hatred going for them. So we need to reduce the power of the populists and the progressives to continue their attempts to ruin America and the world (both extremes have fooled themselves into thinking that’s not what they’re doing, but it is).

So, we need two things for that. The first is we need new limits placed on the executive branch. The Senate needs the power to veto executive orders; Senate approval needs to be required to withdraw from a treaty; DOJ policy must be changed by law so that a president can be arrested for high crimes while in office; a Department of Internal Affairs (with two heads, one from each party) must be created to investigate all high ranking officials in the governments and, if necessary, charge and prosecute them; all of the Cold War-era emergency powers given to the president must be removed or, at least, subject to Congressional review from either house of such a declaration; Congressmen and Senators (or at the very least either of the Houses as a whole) must be given absolute standing to challenge Presidential action in court; a policy to allow for more challenges to the Executive Department’s extra-legal actions must be put in. There are of course further ways the President’s power must be pulled back, but that would be a start.
Will we get all of that under a Biden/Harris presidency. I doubt it, but if we start pushing Congressmen and Senators now we might get some of it. If you live in swing districts go to the town hall meetings and debates and ask what they plan to do to limit executive authority in the future…and no matter who wins hold their feet to fire through calls, emails, and, of course, traditional mail. This is going to be a long slog to get all of that power put in, but it is possible.

But more importantly, the power that Trump and his treasonous cronies need to be removed from the Republican party (or more likely the Republican party just needs to be killed for all time so that something new can grow in its place). So how do we do that?

I hate to say this, but, some of us are going to have to vote for the Libertarian candidate. I know, I know. As any longtime reader of this blog, while I have many leanings toward libertarian economic and social policies, the Libertarian Party is a joke. I will at least give them that they didn’t put Gary Johnson on the ticket again…I think they finally figured out that when one of the chief insults claims against the Libertarian party is that they’re just a bunch of stoners who want legal drugs it might not be a good idea to put up Johnson who looks like he’s stoned 24/7 on the ticket. Who would have thought? But that doesn’t mean that Jo Jorgensen is all that great. Like all Libertarians, she has a truly infantile understanding of foreign policy and would like to turn this country into an isolationist nation (the wet-dream of every dictator) because Libertarians for all their noble words of caring about natural rights would be perfectly happy to see the rest of the world subjugated to tyranny so long as they weren’t being bothered (they seem to have learned nothing from history that this is a policy that only leads to strong dictators eventually attacking the US…but Republicans never learned that making deals with populists and racists is evil…and Democrats have never learned the first thing about economics…so every party is terrible in its own way). So, I’m not saying some should vote Libertarian because they’re doing such a bang-up job. Some should do it because it will show that there is a percentage of the Republican electorate that is willing to turn their back on the party, that unless the GOP expels the populists, racists, tyrants, and Trumpists from their ranks wholesale, we will not support them. Just think if the Libertarians could get 10% nationally that would terrify the GOP that they might not ever win again and rather than having a party platform of “we will mindlessly bow down to our orange God-King and do whatever illegal thing he wants” (they use different words but that is the actual Republican platform for 2020, servile obedience to Trump). To anyone who has listened to politics over the last four years, you have heard again and again that most Republicans hate Trump but they’re afraid of his base voting against him. Well, they need to be afraid of those who want small government and capitalism and adults in charge. And the only way to do that is not by not voting, but by showing we are willing to vote for someone else. They know the crazy Trump loons who listen to QAnon and are not so secret about their want for an all-white America, are willing to drop out and not vote for them we need to show them that actual conservatives in the mold of Goldwater-Reagan-Romney are not just as willing to abandon them, but more willing to do so. They need to have abject fear put to them, and as a pair of pliers and a blowtorch are out of the question, this is the only way. They don’t care if you don’t vote, they only care if you vote for someone other than them. (It will be interesting to see which Libertarians attack me for more A. That I insulted them by pointing out how dumb they always are or B. That I’ve made a better case for voting Libertarian than they ever have.)

If your choices are wasting your vote on not voting, and wasting it on a candidate who can’t win, but with the possibility of sending a message—the option that has a glimmer of hope for change in the right direction has to be the better bet. Doesn’t it?

Now, I’m not saying donate to the kooky Libertarians. No. And you don’t exactly have to campaign for them, maybe people who are thinking of voting for Trump or not voting. But if you really want a change this is the only way I can see forward—it’s only a first step, but it is THE first step.
Now, who should vote for whom? Obviously, if you can’t ever bring yourself to vote for Biden (and I get that) vote for the Libertarian. But if you could go either way if you’re in a swing state (Colorado, Main, New Mexico, Virginia, Connecticut, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa, Missouri, Arizona, Nevada, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Indiana, Montana, South Carolina) you should probably vote for Biden—I know, it’s not great, but, again, the lack of a cult-of-personality and the lack of being pure evil does actually make him marginally better, his policies are just as bad, but as we’ve seen so many things come down to character, not policy. Character matters, and Joe is dumb, not evil, Trump is dumb AND evil. If you live in any other state and you were thinking of just sitting out because you can’t bring yourself to vote for Trump, vote for the Libertarian.  And try and convince every other Republican you know to also vote Libertarian as

And send messages to every other elected official around that you didn’t vote Libertarian because they’re just a mature party worthy of respect, but because you expect that the government needs to limit its power and this was the only way you could convey that message. And try and if you can see if you can get any Trump voters to vote for the Libertarian as well. Tell them “Look, it’s pretty much a given that Biden is going to win” (I mean Trump could win if he started acting like an adult, but Trump is completely incapable of doing that, so Biden is going to win) “and if you want your vote to actually count make it clear that you support small government, not Trump, not the Republican Party, actual principles and this is your way to show it.

1 Comment

Filed under Election 2020

Is it fair to blame Trump for deaths from COVID?

Trump is getting blamed for the deaths caused by COVID. Is this fair? It is after all a natural disaster not an act of human agency. Should he get the blame for all of the death and economic suffering from a natural cause that didn’t even start in this nation?

To answer this let’s try a thought experiment and imagine how this plays out in two parallel universes. One where America was actually intelligent and Mitt Romney is winding down the last year of his second term, and one where America is at least less stupid and Hillary Clinton is finishing her first and probably the only term. 

Alternate Universe 1:

If Mitt Romney had been put in in 2012 then on a global stage you would have seen Russia being treated as the greatest threat to our security that it is. And rather than cozy promises from Barry followed by Trump doing whatever tricks his master wanted just for a scratch behind the year, economically and politically they would have been constrained (and any Russian soldiers dumb enough to venture into the Ukraine would now be working as fertilizer for Ukrainian soil). Why is this important? Because it would mean that Russian actions over the last 8 years to destabilize the world order would have been challenged if not halted. This would mean a stronger NATO, a stronger WTO, that TTP along with numerous other trade agreements would be implemented, that Brexit and its Russian support would never have gotten off the ground. The world order would be more efficient. And because of that, and especially because of TTP, there would be less business centralization and more business in other nations. Now it’s hard to say if this would lead to less business in China or simply more business for everyone else with China holding about the same amount of growth, but what would be clear is that China would in a position where they would have to be more transparent. As they would be more transparent they would be revealing the severity of the first COVID outbreak weeks if not a month earlier. With that additional information work on a vaccine could have started weeks earlier (doesn’t seem like much—but with hundreds of thousands of infections a week, a two-week head start could mean a lot).

But let’s say that the disease still spreads out of China in this universe at the same rate, the fact is that a stronger international order could have worked to a faster consistent, and organized plan on how to deal with this. A united international order would likely have resulted in a must faster closing of flights, screening, and quarantine of passengers and perhaps better sharing of resources. No country wanted to be the first to close down its borders and flights because that was an obvious economic disaster, but international cooperation would have come with a perceived sharing of burdens and the spread could have been dealt with much faster. One of the key flaws of this entire process has been the lack of international cooperation anywhere. That breakdown can be placed squarely at the feet of Obama and Trump (not saying that Bush didn’t also have a hand in that, but 12 years of competence could have undone all the strain Bush put on the system). 

But once it got to US shores would Romney have done any better. The answer is obviously yes. As the spouse of someone with a severe immune disorder, he would already have been more open to the science side of this issue, would have not gutted the CDC pandemic response programs, and possibly there would have been more money to the CDC as he would have worked over the previous 8 years with Democrats across the aisle even if he had majorities in both houses because that’s the kind of guy he is, and the CDC would have been an easy thing that both sides could agree to give more money to—not saying a lot, but certainly not the dismissive nature that Trump has treated it with. He was also a cautious man so he probably would have been issuing guidelines for masks much earlier as it would come under the “it can’t hurt and it can only help” mentality, thus it would have reduced the spread, especially early on.

Further, his business background would have made sure those national stockpiles that both Obama and Trump ignored on medical supplies would be, if not fully stocked, at least in a better position.

Finally, there would no political fighting about masks. The government would be on a united front on this and thus the spread of the disease would be much slower.

In this situation, COVID-19 would probably still be in every state, but the curve would likely be far flatter. Further, as there would be more coordination the impact on business would be less (there would still be some but it would be less). We would be in roughly the same position as most European nations, still not fully open, still not firing on all cylinders, but in a stable place without mass unemployment and infection and death numbers greatly reduced. 

Alternate Universe 2

 Hillary Clinton is winding down her first, and likely final term as president.  

Not the great negotiator that her husband was or Romney could have been her relationships with the rest of the world would, like her predecessor be strained but not irreparable. She would, however, have likely signed TPP and thus China would have been boxed in again and some divestment of industry would have occurred from China meaning that there would have been less economic contact between China and the rest of the world, thus slowing down the spread, at least partially, but not as much as in Alternate Universe 1.

However, while some appointments may have been just as corrupt as Trump’s appointments, they would likely not be at the Cabinet-level and thus there would still have been competence running through the departments that oversaw issues of travel, trade, health, and other such issues.  

Given that Republicans would likely have held onto the House under a Clinton presidency, she would have taken a page from the previous Clinton administration and worked with conservatives, specifically Speaker Paul Ryan who would have never felt the need to resign in a universe where the Trump brand of idiocy and evil prevailed, thus the economy would be in a better place and the social safety net would be in a far better position and able to handle a new shock to the system (given Ryan’s fiscal genius and the Clinton propensity for making deals across the aisle there would likely be a yearly surplus in the budget and principal on the debt would have gone down instead of up as it has with Trump.)

Now the issue of calling for masks. The animosity and hatred of Clinton would probably have powered the alt-right still, however, the defeat of Trump would not have turned them into the powerhouse that they currently and they would be exiled to the fringes of internet trolling (where they belong) rather than in seats of power. Thus, while it is likely all government officials would provide a united front, there would still be a portion on the alt-right who would want rally all the same Karens to make the same ignorant “freedom” arguments against masks—but it would be a smaller segment and the spread would still be much slower.

There are of course thousands of other smaller issues and opportunities that the official government plans for these scenarios that would likely have been followed by literally ANY other president because following the official plan is what bureaucracies staffed with even barely competent people do. But Trump has gotten rid of most of the barely competent people because any level of intelligence has an aversion to working for him and so he only hires knuckle-dragging buffoons who praise him as the god-king he thinks he is. The fact is that more people died because of what Trump has done then would have happened under any other president, and thus he is responsible for those deaths. Can I give you an exact number?  No, but given that part of the problem is that his destruction of worldwide cooperation has helped this thing spread, he is morally (and in an ideal world legally) responsible for deaths the world over. But it’s not just him as I pointed out above the destruction of this worldwide cooperation began under Obama…because extremes of populism and progressivism are equally destructive and antithetical to the rational balance between moderate liberal and conservative thinking.   

So yeah it is fair to blame Trump for deaths, not all of them, but certainly a huge amount of them because the rapid spread is primarily responsible dd

And this is the real problem. It’s idiots who do things for stupid reasons. Idiots who gave us Trump, and Clinton, and Bernie, and Biden, and Cruz, and AOC, and Rand Paul, and every other buffoon currently in politics. These idiot elect morons who do stupid things, attack free markets and international agreements that would have lessened these disasters on numerous levels and thousands, perhaps millions by the time this is over, would not be dead from this disease and the economic hardships that come from handling it so ineptly.  

So, in the end, the most guilt goes not to Trump, or even Obama who helped destroy the international order that Trump only finished working to destroy, it goes to the morons out there who voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016 (doubly so if you did both acts of evil—seriously if you got it wrong both times ethically you’re guilty of crimes against humanity). And understand this is not a glowing endorsement for Biden and the Democrats, it’s not. We, the people of the United States are going to have to hold all of their feet to the fire of whoever is in power and demand we not give into isolationism just as much as we demand that we return to a policy of free trade and free markets with the world.  

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Statues are Stupid

“It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of a son of a bitch or another. –Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly

Okay, so there is a lot of discussion about statues at the moment which is really stupid for three important reasons.


The first is that there are actual racist laws that need to be changed. There are organizations that have to be gone through with a fine-tooth comb to remove every corrupt racist/stupid/corrupt/violent SOB we can find. There are people in jail for crimes that shouldn’t be crimes that need to be released. And of course, there is a cadre of felon in the White House. You know, actually important things that need to be changed immediately because they actually affect people’s lives.
Secondly, I’m not convinced that the attacks on some of the less objectionable statues—like the statue to the idea of Progress that was ruined in Wisconsin or demands to take town statues of abolitionist Founding Father Caesar Rodney of people who fought against slavery and injustice—aren’t being done by Trumpkins and the police with the intent of making legitimate protesters look bad. We already have a video of cops doing the looting and cops destroying their own property and then saying it was protesters…so until you can prove that it wasn’t the MAGA crowd behind this, these acts of violence are suspiciously up their avenue.
But, thirdly, and what I actually want to deal with in this article is that, in the end, we have got to get away from all of this nonsense of revering people. This is not a nation based on people. Most nations are based on people and groups and ethnicities. They’re based on one conquering ass coming in, taking over, and putting themselves as a ruler and their subordinates as nobility, and they get statues made of their glory and conquests. That’s the history of most nations, they’re about people and the ethnicities that are associated with them.
We’re not. This nation is about ideas and ideals. We are about concepts. We are about the supremacy of law. This is why statues or days honoring any individual. And this applies in every case. There shouldn’t be a day or statue to honor Martin Luther King Jr., not just because as history goes on we find out more and more that the man was far from a saint or the pinnacle of ethics that his speeches would have you think, but because it limits the idea of civil rights to one person, and a person can always be attacked. Instead of a day for King, there should be a day for Civil Rights which can acknowledge, honor and teach about the struggles of not just one man but of Medger Evers and Rosa Parks and The Freedom Riders and Thurgood Marshall and of everyone who marched and worked to achieve and is still working to achieve equality under the law. If you have a statue to one person, if you find anything that is flawed (as most human beings tend to be) it taints the causes for which they fought and makes their quest seemed imperfect because it was taken up by a human being. Let’s not forget that most of those hated Columbus statues that are getting so much justified hate, were originally put up to honor what was at the time another ethnic minority, Italians. We shouldn’t have a president’s day, because less than a quarter of the people who have held that office have been competent or even decent human beings…rather have a day to the just execution of law and how all are equal under it, and how those who are entrusted to enforce should bear the highest scrutiny.
The Fourth of July is the model you should focus on. There are many individuals we talk about with that day, but the day is a day of celebration of an idea, possibly the most important idea—liberty. But it is not about one person. It is encapsulated in a document, not in a person. Yes, Thomas Jefferson was an asshole and bastard from every possible perspective you can find (personally wouldn’t mind seeing his statute go, but he monument with the words of the Declaration on the walls needs to stay).
If we want to move forward as a country, what we should probably do is admit that all human beings are flawed. Yes, we should never condemn someone for not being ahead of their time (god knows what future generations will think even the most inclusive of us were backwards for in a thousand years, not because we are bigoted but because we never even considered something). But we can, and should always condemn people for being behind their times.
And I realize my dream of taking down every statue and replacing them, if at all, with monuments to ideals like Liberty, Justice, Freedom, Rule of Law, Limited Government, Classical Liberalism, Capitalism, Reason, Logic, and Virtue…you know the things that actually make this country great…is a pipe dream. I know it’s not going to happen. But maybe what we should do is the following:
First, any statue of anyone associated with the Confederacy gets destroyed. They were traitors, Johnson’s pardon of them was beyond unforgivable, as was his not being removed, and not a single one of those slaveholding assholes should be honored unless you want to show them boiling in the fires of Hell as they deserve. There is no excuse, no justification, no reason for any soul of the confederacy to be honored in a statue. As for the rest, namely, the every complicated Founding Fathers, maybe in addition to the monument that marks what they did that was good, which it was, we can put up large signs of that list all of their less than spectacular actions (again, with Jefferson it might be easier to take the monument down because to list everything that asshole did might require the building of another monument), but most Founding Fathers and other historical figures it will be easier to list their mistakes. For instance, if we put up the sins of General Sherman it would be a simple little sign: he didn’t burn nearly enough (kidding aside, and even though they did have it coming, yes we probably should list some of his actions as being what we would now consider war crimes).
This would allow all the non-confederate statues to stand and still not be accused of whitewashing history or ignoring the ignorances and flaws of the past.
Of course, it’s probably too logical to ever get buy-in from all sides, as solutions aren’t the goal anymore, making sure the other side loses is all anyone seems to care about anymore.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized