Category Archives: Long Term Thinking

Russia’s Future brought to you Heritage

I am beginning to have serious issues with Heritage’s internal policy recommendations (or at least their heavy handed strategy in supporting that policy…Jim you really don’t know how to run an organization like this).  That said, they still seem spot on in their foreign policy advice.

Which leads us to:

Implosion: The End of Russia and What It Means for America

It’s an hour long lecture.  I highly recommend you listen…but the short short version is that Russia is screwed long term…and that’s not as good for us as it sounds.

Let me give you one highlight.  2050 will see half of Russia being Muslim.

 

I would point out that there is one possible flaw to his analysis.  He assumes that China will be in a position to move in on Russia.  This ignores that the fault lines in China are as bad, if not worse, than in Russia.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Long Term Thinking

Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

I was going to do a response to John Green’s mostly accurate but slightly misleading video “Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?”…but I really can’t beat Lee Doren’s response on “How the World Works.”

I would merely point out that while Doren is correct that we could go to out of pocket to help reduce prices, we could also get rid of the laws that created HMO’s and allow insurance companies to cross state lines.  All of this would further increase competition and drive down costs even more.

Also John Greene makes a comment about tort reform only reducing health case costs by a fraction of a percent in Texas.  What he fails to mention is that it has also drastically increase survival rates for patients.  So tort reform led to more people living at lower costs.  I don’t think dismissing them out of hand as he does is all that bright.

The Original Video

(I’m not going to include all of the links Doren references because he deserves the hit count that will come from having to go to his Youtube page to find them.)

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Filed under Capitalism, Conservative, Economics, Government is useless, Health Care, Long Term Thinking, politics

Some thoughts on term limits

So last night I posted on tumblr my concerns about term limits.

Tumbrl post

My original comments.

 

The fact that after enacting them in California and Colorado seem to have gotten worse.  I admit that there are a lot of factors there and term limits may not be responsible.  But my request was that, surely there had to be some study of states upon adopting term limits and what the effects were.

Did it raise or lower corruption and graft?  Did it improve or worsen the fiscal situation?  Was there an increase or decrease in the severity of gerrymandering?  Things like this.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

All I can say is the last 24 hours have been enlightening, but in a different way.

Some idiot who claims to represent a PAC pushing for term limits started harassing me with talking points but refused to actually show any proof for why his side was something I should adopt.

His argument boiled down to a few points.

1) Term limits are popular.  Great argument. Lots of things have been popular, Socrates drinking hemlock, crucifixion, Nazism, Communism, Obama, Obamacare…all popular at least at one point or another. But there’s this little point, what is popular is not always right.  Granted democracy and looking to what is popular is in many cases the best of bad options (but you’ll notice that our system of government is designed to specifically ignore the tyranny of the majority).

The worst argument a supposed conservative can make is that “well 70% of the people want it.”

 

We’re conservatives, we’re the party of logic and reason and ethics.  We supposed to know that the whims of the people are fickle and what is despised one day is popular the next, and vice versa.  We’re supposed to make the argument that it will work, that evidence shows, that it’s what is right.  If we can’t do that, if all we can appeal to is the whims of the hoi polloi being on your side at the moment, like liberals do, then we admit we have no proof for our argument.

2) There is no proof because looking at how it worked in states is irrelevant.  This one is particularly stupid as that’s what state laws are for.  One of the true virtues of federalism is that we have 50 little legislative laboratories, what works in one state is adopted by a few, what works in a few is adopted by the many, what works for the many might need to be made federal law (not always, something could work for all 50 states and still shouldn’t be a federal issue).  So to just say that what happened in the states doesn’t matter, is either unspeakably naïve, or, as I worry, the evidence actually shows term limits might not be the answer.

3) Career Politicians are bad.

The argument goes that all career politicians are bad, thus we should get rid of career politicians.  The argument that if something is bad, then change is good. And not wanting change is bad because it’s giving into fear, and we should be hopeful…

…and I’m sure we all know what happens when you only care about hope and change and not, you know, will it work, or asking “Yes this is bad, but is there a better way or is this just the best of bad options.”

The worst laws in history are mostly the result of people saying ‘this is bad’ and changing it for the sake of change and not stopping to think will change actually be better.

Here is my problem.  Let’s say you have 100 politicians.

Now you are left with only two logical positions.  Either they’re all bad, or you have a mix of mostly bad and a few good ones (I’m not stupid enough to consider the possibility that they’re all good)*.  Now if they’re all bad then this is just a pointless argument, because then there is no point in caring about how you select them.  Let’s for the sake of argument be very hopeful (and because I like round numbers) and say that in our group of 100 politicians, 90 are bad and 10 are good.

George WIll

This is a nice thought…but it could just as easily mean the corrupt will just be more corrupt to get their payoff in a short amount of time…show me proof whether my thought or Will’s prevails…

Now we have to look if politicians get worse as they stay in office longer.  And when you think about it, it’s hard to find anexample of a great politician who became worse with time.  Think about it, John McCain is a worthless piece of offal, but not because he’s spent his life in politics (I think everyone forgets he got caught taking bribes in his first term as Senator).  He’s always been a corrupt politician.  It just seems that politicians are more corrupt for two reasons (1) because the longer they’re there, the more chances we have to catch them at the corruption that started on day one and (2) the longer they are there the more they learn to work the system and with that comes making deals to get something in return.  Now some politicians make deals to enrich themselves (more than I can name, these are usually the one who were corrupt from day one) or they are making deals to get something they do actually believe is good for the nation but ideologues only look at the compromise and not what they got which makes even the honest attempting to do good seem bad in the eyes of the most knee jerk commentators.  So when you think about it very few politicians become bad the longer they’re there. It’s not that power corrupts, it’s that power attracts the corruptible.  So a good politician, a Bachmann, a Ryan, a Goldwater is not necessarily ruined by their time in the seat.  And even some of the questionable ones are still to the benefit of the public because of what they have learned over time…I may have issues with Newt Gingrich on a lot of points, but you can’t deny he was an effective Speaker who relentlessly pushed for conservative policies and got us a lot of what he promised…and he could do this because of his experience.

So the amount of good turning to bad probably isn’t as high as we think.  Let’s say that over time 2 of the 10 good ones go bad…because politicians are apparently like milk left out overnight (at least in the mind of people pushing for term limits).

But let’s put term limits in.

Now of the 90 bad ones…since their constituents already elected a terrible politician we are almost guaranteed that they’ll be putting another idiot in.  If we’re very lucky we’ll get one good one.  So we have 89-1.

But let’s look at the 10 good ones.  You term limited out the 10 good ones and now it’s a crap shoot again if you can even get a good candidate.  In all likelihood your 10 good ones are replaced by the law of averages with 9 bad and one good politician (as I feel the 10 good ones will, by simply statistics have candidates with the 9-1 split running, so I just feel it’s statistically unlikely that they all be replaced by good ones).  So now instead of 10 good politicians to the 100, you have 2.

Delete them all

No, because there are a FEW good ones in there.

And you see this in California, which went from occasionally having Republican control of the house in the legislature to never having control since 1997(term limits passed in 1990).  Granted demographic shifts could be responsible, so I’m in need of studies to show what actually happens for states I’m not as familiar with when term limits are passed.

Now maybe I’m wrong and the statistics hold across the board and we still wind up with a 90-10 split.  Which would mean that we’ve wasted time and money on term limits to have zero effect.  Money and time to get a Constitutional law passed which changes nothing.  Not seeing the upside here.

And I just can’t see a logical situation which makes it more likely that bad politicians will be replaced with good ones. I see term limits replacing bad with bad and good with bad.

So just because its career politicians are bad, doesn’t mean that getting rid of them is good.

Now I could be wrong.  Term limits could lead to better government.  Hence my call for evidence on what happens.  I did a quick search and couldn’t find any.  And the fact that the person who was pushing term limits so hard had nothing but these three bad arguments.

Now, it may simply be that this idiot was not well informed and there is evidence to the contrary, but show it to me.  Otherwise I see actually limiting the power of government (so that whoever is in will have less ability to ruin our lives), and Voter ID and raising the voting age (because it matters more who is electing the politicians than the politicians) as being a more effective avenue to put our time and effort into as any of these would require nothing less than a Constitutional Amendment…and if we’re going to exert that kind of effort it better be for something that will actually work.

 

But again if you have any study or evidence that term limits actually do lead to better government, less corruption, and more fiscally responsible legislatures (or any improvement other than new names) please share it with me and I will trumpet it over every social media avenue I have.

 

*This should really be on a sliding scale of good, okay, eh, bad, horrible, Obama.  But that would get too complicated to calculate, the general rule still holds.

 

 

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Filed under character, Congress, Conservative, Constitution, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid, politics

Basic Math for Liberals

I am tired of arguing with idiots about unemployment numbers.  Stupid people (liberals) seem to think that so long as the unemployment numbers drop that this shows the economy is growing. Now I know those of you who know something about economics and statistics are about to have an aneurism over how stupid that is, but let me go over the basics of how we get unemployment numbers…and what you should really be looking at.

Minimum WageNow I’m going to try and use round numbers to help make this as simple as possible (and I’m going to gloss over a few complexities so we can get to the heart of the matter).

Let’s say you have a population of 200,000 people.

100,000 people want a job.  That means you have a job participation rate of 50%.

Now let’s say that 95,000 of those people looking for a job have a job, and 5,000 of those people don’t have a job.  That means your unemployment is 5%.  And let’s say of those 95,000 employed, 5,000 (5% of the those in the work force) of those are working at part time jobs but want full time jobs.  These people are called underemployed. The underemployment rate is the unemployment rate plus those who are underemployed.  (Under employment is usually calculated as the percent of underemployed plus the rate of unemployment, but to keep the numbers separate and simple we won’t add them together here).

Now, what idiots look at is the unemployment rate.  This is dumb, and let me explain why.

Let’s say the government does something monumentally stupid (so, status quo) like raise the minimum wage.  This will cause employers to pull back on hiring.  The first thing that will happen is that employers will either through firing the most inept or through simple attrition (when somebody leaves you don’t fill their position).  This will cause the unemployment numbers to go up.  Let’s say that there are now only 94,000 jobs, or an unemployment rate of 6%.  And idiots will be rightfully concerned…but not for long.

Why?  Because the first ones hit by minimum wage increases are young people who, without experience aren’t worth the higher wage the employer has to pay, and older people. Those who have a business are not willing to put in the money for training as it will not work as a long term investment.  And since these groups know they can’t get a job they will either continue living with mom and dad or go live with their kids and just stop looking for work.  Let’s say 2,000 people just give up looking for work. So that now means you have 98,000 looking for work, and 94,000 with a job.  Guess what unemployment is DOWN TO 4.1%  !!!! Isn’t that great! Raising the minimum wage lowered unemployment from 5% to 4.1%!!!  Of course since the participation rate dropped form 50% to 49%, that means that 1,000 fewer people are employed now, but the unemployment number dropped!

And then it gets worse. The rise in minimum wage causes inflation (as it always does) and that means companies that aren’t employing minimum wage positions will have to lay off employees or use attrition practices.  So they lay off 1,000 employees. Now we’re at 98,000 looking for work and 93,000 employed.  Back to 5.1% unemployment.  But don’t worry those 1,000 will soon find minimum wage jobs and kick out 1,000 other less qualified people from those jobs. So now you instead of 5,000 people underemployed, you now have 6,000. Underemployment has jumped from 5% to 8.8%!  But don’t worry because another 1,000 people are probably going to give up looking for work (probably more actually but let’s keep the numbers nice and round).  So now only 97,000 want to be employed.  Oh look unemployment back to 4.1% and underemployment is now only 6.1%.  It’s a miracle the unemployment numbers and underemployment numbers dropped.  Things must be doing great!

But no.  In this situation while the unemployment rate started at 5% and dropped to 4.1%, that masks the fact that there are 2,000 fewer jobs. And a 1,000 more people are earning less than they would like.  (And let’s ignore the inflation that’s going on and the fact that most of the other employed people probably aren’t getting raises – but their personal costs just went up.)

So we can see the unemployment rate is very misleading and what is important, first and foremost is the participation rate and followed by that the underemployment rate.

So when Obama touts the unemployment numbers are down keep in mind a few things.

The participation rate is at its lowest level since 1978! From a peak of just over 67% we are down to just over 63% (a 4% drop, keep in mind my example only included a 1% drop).  And this drop in participation does not seem to have come anywhere near to an end. 

 

Second keep in mind that underemployment (this is the calculation of both those underemployed and those unemployed) has gone from 7.0% in 2000 () to 17.4% (a 10% increase, and my example only had 1.1% increase).

So don’t tell me that the economy is doing well because the unemployment number is down. It’s not.  It’s doing terribly.

And it’s not just raising minimum wage that does this (and yes raising minimum wage always does this)…it’s regulations and taxes and oversight and red tape.  All government action increases the factors that make employers want to hire fewer employees. And this may be not so great for depriving people of income, hope, and jobs….but as we’ve seen it can be great for getting the unemployment numbers down. I mean if everyone would just give up looking for work, we could have 0% unemployment.

 

 

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Filed under Capitalism, Conservative, Economics, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, politics, Unions

Why modern liberalism is Evil.

Let me first clarify my use of the word “evil.”  As a New Ager I believe that every single soul in the universe will one day reach enlightenment and be welcomed into heaven. Don’t try and list off really evil people in history because they too will, one day, make it back to God. So my belief is that people aren’t evil, they can be very ignorant of what they’re doing, but they themselves and their souls are not evil. But I do classify their actions as evil. I classify such actions as Evil when their actions not only delay their own return to enlightenment, but also hurt the progression of others, whether the act is malicious or well-intentioned…

…So to my liberal friends out there: I’m insulting your idiotic beliefs, not you.

Okay, so we’ve got that out of the way, why is modern liberalism evil? Doesn’t liberalism support equal rights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness for all humanity, democratic republicanism, the rule of law over force, and all are equal before the law and all that stuff? No, you’re thinking of Classical Liberalism, a philosophy which is at the heart of the Enlightenment and American Revolution. Modern conservatism and modern liberalism are both out growths of Classical liberalism. Philosophically modern conservatism is more of Classical Liberalism’s heir (in practice it sadly falls a little short), modern liberalism is Classical Liberalism’s idiot bastard child.

Why? you ask. After all, as a friend of mine recently said:

“As a Democrat, I support social welfare programs — that’s not ‘babysitting the populace.’ I think that government has a responsibility to provide programs for those in need.”

burn-books-ban-music-hate-blacks-murder-gays-become-symbol-of-hope-and-freedome-che-guevara-300x225

And it should come as no shock that this butcher is a hero to modern liberals.

Isn’t that a good thing? Wanting to help those in need? It seems so good?…And yet, it is evil. And let me explain why.(And I’m not attacking my friend in particular, I’m pretty sure almost every liberal in America would agree with that statement in its entirety).

Let’s look closely at the 2nd sentence in that statement (mostly because the first sentence is self-contradictory).

The government has a responsibility to provide programs for those in need.

There are three key terms in this sentence: Responsibility, Provide, and Need. We’ll deal with each one separately

The Responsibility of Government

What is the responsibility of government? Well if you listen to Classical Liberalism and modern conservatives who have their heads screwed on correctly, government is there to do things. Protect your rights and do those things which only a force as large as government can. What are your rights? The classic list is Life, Liberty, Property/Pursuit of Happiness. What does it mean to protect these things? Does it mean the government should stop me from eating that Big Mac because that will cause a cholesterol build up which will one day lead to my death? Nope. Protection means to protect you from others forcibly destroying your life or liberty. Through this the government has a responsibility to create a military to protect you from outside sources, and a police force (FBI, State Police, Highway Patrol, Sheriffs, and Local Police) and a court system for internal threats. They are there to stop others from taking things away from you.

Notice in this understanding of government’s responsibility they are not giving you anything. You were born with life and liberty it’s just no one can rightfully take it away from you without justification.

The second issue is things that only something as large as government can tend to. Things like standards. Weights, measurement, currency, laws for conducting business, highway and streets (because they all need to be standardized, although upkeep and repair should be at least contracted out if not privatized).These things need to be standardized because without them you have about zero chance of pursing happiness successfully. For instance one of things government has a right to do is standardize what is and isn’t legal banking practices so that everyone is keeping their books in the same way and thus everyone (and by everyone I primarily mean mainly stockholder and potential stockholders) can make sure everything is proper and the system is working and not lying/cheating/taking advantage. Our government chooses to not partake in this responsibility—I say this because the banking practices on sub-prime loans of which all the banks currently are still engaging in by government directive, which were designed by Congress to effectively destroy the market (even if that wasn’t their intent), were and still are very legal. That’s right it’s legal to do something that will cause economic collapse. But does Congress rewrite the laws? No. It would rather discuss your right to health care (which does not exist).

And herein is where the evil lies in that. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are things you are born with and that no one gives to you. Health care is something that is given to you. Why is this evil? Because, it is an insult to the value of humanity. The human soul is an end unto itself, completely capable through its work and mind of providing everything it needs for itself. It’s a concept called free will. To say that something must be given to you (aside from the rights granted by your Creator), that you are not capable of getting it for yourself means two things. You are not complete and have insufficient power to live a whole life, and that whoever does provide this for you does have that power. Traditionally the relationship is called that of the master and slave…and in the scenario of the modern liberalism, government is not playing the role of slave (which it should be).To say that government has a responsibility to provide anything perverts the concept of a right, it perverts the concept of government which should be used as a shield against the irrational forces which choose not to recognize your God given rights, but rather into the driving force that makes your life complete. It subordinates your will to the will of government…to the will of the party, the leader (what’s the German word for “leader”?), or the will of Big Brother.

What the Government should provide?

Well nothing is the obvious answer if you read the previous paragraphs. But there is another reason why the government providing anything is just plain evil. To provide something means the government has to get it from somewhere. Where does it get the money to operate? Taxes. Now we don’t pay our taxes out the goodness of our heart. If we are rational we pay for what the government should be doing because we recognize government is a necessary evil that requires funds to operate to protect us…That accounts for about 10 cents of every dollar the government collects. We pay the other 90 cents because the government has guns and prisons and thieves called the IRS who will go into your bank account and just take it without your permission.(Anyone else miss the good old days of Robin Hood and the American Revolution, when we knew what to do with tax collectors?).

But it’s not just their theft and extortion that’s evil. Back to health care. Notice what’s implied by the concept of you have a right to health care. That means a doctor has to treat you, whether you will pay them or not. If it’s an absolute right it can’t be ethically paid for. You don’t pay someone for your liberty or your life?  Do you? No, that would be evil. You can pay someone to protect those things, but you’re not paying them for life or liberty, you have those by being a human, you’re paying them to act as a shield against outside forces that seek to steal those things. So if health care was a Right that you have, it would be unethical or evil to demand payment for it. But if you have the right to demand the services of a doctor or a nurse, or demand the right to a drug that could save your life, what does that mean? It means that the doctor does not have the right to refuse you treatment, payment or no. And if the doctor doesn’t have the right to refuse treatment, the right to demand payment, doesn’t that mean he is a slave. Doesn’t it mean that the drug company and the scientist who came up with the drug are slaves to the person demanding the drug if they don’t have the right to determine what they think is a fair price for the drug.  You may have the right to keep up your health as an extension of your liberty, but you do not have the right to demand someone else look after your health.

I feel I need to make this clear. If the doctor has a right to demand payment for his knowledge and his service then health care must logically be conditional. Rights are not conditional. If health care is a right, then health care providers must logically be slaves. It’s one or the other. Rationally there can be no having health care as a right and not having slaves. Since modern liberalism states health care is a right, logically they are calling for the enslavement of an entire class of people, namely health care providers. Modern liberalism claims lots of things are rights, a livable wage, for instance, but when you run it through logically if it is a right then someone must be forced to provide this right. That person is called a slave.

So that’s twice now that modern liberalism has devalued human life to little more than slavery. Let’s take a look at the third part of the sentence.

Who are those in need?

Those in need—are we talking about those in need of protection from genocidal tyrants? Those in need of defense against a culture that debases women as less than human? Nope. From the context of the sentence it seems we’re talking about people who don’t have enough stuff/money according to our liberal friends. But before we give those in need everything they “need” let’s look at why they’re needy.

“You need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty – finish high school, marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of the families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor.”

– William Galston, advisor to Bill Clinton.

So I’m not a sociologist here, but using the information provided for us by the Clinton administration, it would seem Five Pillars of Liberal Thoughtthat poverty is primarily caused by making really stupid choices. Taking another look at the statistics, as economist Thomas Sowell loves to point out in just about every book he writes, over half of those people who are below the poverty line are in their 20’s and won’t be below the poverty line in 10 years, having given up their places among the poor to a new set of 20 somethings. So it would seem that most people tend to learn from their youthful mistakes. Who would have thought in a capitalistic system that rewards hard work and intelligence that the stupid and lazy get the shaft.

But the call goes, ‘what about their children! The children of these people who live below the poverty line will never be able to break this cycle.’ To which I say: Bullshit. Every school I have ever worked at full-time could be called “at risk” education. And at every school some of my brightest students were not the children of middle class families, but the children of parents who lived in poverty. They saw how their family lived and they choose to get an education so that wouldn’t be them. The children who repeat the cycle of poverty are those who CHOOSE to not strive, to not learn, to not break the cycle. It is a choice, as the opportunity is always there in a capitalistic system to get out– it has nothing to do with race or gender or religion or your parent’s background. It is a matter of choice. To deny this denies free will,  oh wait there once again we find that to say that people are needy means that we don’t believe they have free will, the responsibility to take the consequences of their choices; once again liberalism has devalued human beings to little more than a mindless thing.

Modern liberalism’s problem is that it devalues the inherent value of human life.  It see personal charity not as something that should be done because it benefits the giver but only as a duty that must be obeyed without.  It sees all

Every person in this picture is an idiot.  Only one of them isn't bright enough to actually leave a mark on history for good or ill.  Guess which one.

Everyone of these people believed in government not liberty…they what we call in the modern day, liberals.

of humanity as either problems to fix or tools to use. But a human being is not a problem or a tool. It is an end unto itself. Only from this perspective can a life have value. Liberalism pushes everyone away from this value through its destruction of free will through its imposition of slavery and through its denial of human value. I’ll be the first to say that history is more than filled with far worse examples of this evil than your modern American liberal, but it is a difference in degree not kind. I will also admit that while this idea pushes people away from any kind of personal growth, it is the person’s choices to follow that philosophy, not the philosophy itself that is at fault for not achieving personal enlightenment. But it is still used as a tool for preventing the progression of many human lives…and in that sense it is absolute evil.

 

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Filed under Civil Liberties, Evils of Liberalism, Free Will, Individualism, liberal arrogance, Long Term Thinking, Obama, People Are Stupid, politics, Tyranny

The Problem of Syria

 

 

Someone (we’re not sure who, Obama and Kerry say Assad, the UN says the rebel—I don’t trust either, so who knows) used chemical weapons in Syria.

 

Now it’s really funny how the left suddenly thinks that chemical weapons in the hands of a Mideast dictator is a bad thing that needs to be stopped.

 

Some might argue that we should punish those who have done so.  That we need to go in to save lives.

 

But they’re looking at it wrong.  While we do as decent people have a responsibility to stop genocide, that isn’t enough, we have to make sure we can actually improve the situation.  The question shouldn’t necessarily be is Assad (or the rebels) killing people, it should be, can we stop the killing?  In Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan there were either prodemocracy forces (and in those last two I will fully admit we botched any attempt to rally those forces and form a real government)…and in Japan we had the wherewith-all to stay in charge for over a decade to ensure a stable government was left in place.  The problem with Syria is that it’s a choice between Assad and his Iran/Hamas terrorists backers and the Rebels (read Al-Qaeda)…if either side wins, they’ll use the chemical weapons and kill the people of Syria and probably other nations…and America at this point (even if we had a leader and not an idiot in charge) doesn’t have the resolve to stay the time needed and spend the money required to take over Syria and build a system that will end the killing of people.  The fact is that no matter what we do, people are going to die.  If we help people die, if we don’t help people die.  There is no way out of this that can stop the killing.

 

Kerry Syria

Kerry was against intervention over chemical weapons before he was for it…and he was for it before he was against it…

Now some people, whose opinions I respect, suggest we should go in and just bomb Assad’s ability for air dominance, level the playing field and let the rebels and Assad fight it out on equal terms.  I can see the wisdom in this…but this assumes a leader who knows what do to and how to handle such a campaign.  And here’s the problem if you had such a leader my NeoCon side might just say, why half-ass it?, go in occupy the nation and set up a democracy…but lacking such a leader I don’t know if I can even trust the idiot we have now to level the playing field…honestly has he done anything else right in foreign policy?  Which again leads me back to it’s best to stay out of this mess.

 

The silver lining to not doing anything at the moment is that this is Hamas and Al-Qaeda killing each other…which saves us the time and trouble of doing it.

 

But let’s talk about what we should do if reality had no bearing on this (or, say, if we had done the intelligent thing and elected a leader and good man and not a buffoon and corrupt hack).  Now Syria would present it’s own challenges but I think the best way we should do with Syria, if we were going to get involved is to look at our two most recent mistakes, Iraq and Afghanistan, and see where we screwed up there.

 

Now let’s first deal with some of the points of why we went.  We went to take out terrorist threats (and both nations did present such a threat), we went to do the ethical thing and stop genocide, and we went to spread democracy.  All could have been accomplished if Bush and/or Obama had had even half a brain between them…but Obama likes to grovel and apologize for America’s virtue and Bush was an isolationist (just look at his debate with Gore where he said he didn’t want to engage in nation building…so stop blaming NeoConservatives for Bush’s idiocy, he was never one of us and never will be).  It was the right war to fight.

 

It was also fought well.  The military is not the part to blame, it is the diplomats and politicians who screwed the occupation up, not the war itself.

 

Now let’s review what we should have done but didn’t.  And, in terms of full disclosure, I honestly thought we would have been bright enough to do these things when I gave my support for these wars…I thought that even if Bush was dumb enough to not know to do these, his advisors would at least be bright enough…boy was I wrong.

 

Obama moron

Do you trust this man to do anything right? Do you even trust to not make it worse?

The first thing we should not have done was turn over Iraq and Afghanistan to Iraqi and Afghani control so soon.  We were in control of Germany for year (and only gave them independence to gain their alliance in the Cold War) and were in complete control of Japan for nearly a decade.  We should have remained in political and military control of Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly a decade as well.  It takes time to rebuild the infrastructure of a nation, it takes time to get the culture used to the principles of rule of law and a democratic-Republic, it takes time to properly write a Constitution.  All of these were rushed for political convenience.  And that is partly what ultimately made these situations so terrible.

Someone should have gone to Congress to first get an act of war declared and second to get Congress to lay out in writing and law what defines success and when we can legally leave.  Right now we can leave whenever, whether we’ve finished the job or not, and it is largely up to the president and the president only. These are powers that Congress should have, and they should not have been given up, nor should any president have grabbed them.

The nations should have been broken up.  Their current borders are arbitrary creations of colonialism and forced numerous ethnic and religious groups that loathe each other.  Pluralism is also superior, but it grows best naturally when two group both doing well see each other as equals that both can grow and learn from, not from being forced together.  Iraq, should have been three nations (Kurds, Sunni, Shia)…Afghanistan should have likely been broken into a Southern and Northern part (although I’ll admit my knowledge of the breakdown of clans, ethnicities and religious divisions in Afghanistan is not as deep as it could be).  My point here being that smaller less diverse areas are easier to administrate, easier to work with, easier to maintain stability it…and if there is terrorist activity in one it does not mean that destabilizes the whole operation (for instance Kurdistan would have likely been stable, and possibly even economically prosperous very quickly which would have led to more stability in the whole area and an ally we can count on).

We should have never let the armies disband as quickly as we did.  We should have kept them as POWs vetting every single one of them before releasing them.  This would have delayed the terrorists attacks.

I agree completely with the surges, only disagreeing that they should have been done earlier and probably to an even greater degree.

We should have burned each and every poppy field in all of Afghanistan to the ground and shot any drug lord who complained.  The terrorists live off the funds of the drug trade and one of our first goals should have been to deny them any and all funds.

The Peace Corp should have been recalled for training in Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Dari, (and anything else we needed) and then sent to Afghanistan and Iraq.  There is no point in having a Peace Corp in helping in social and economic development if you’re not going to use it where it was needed most.

Border walls.  As we have learned in the US, there is nothing so important as a border wall…more so when dealing with terrorists.  We should have been building walls on the border of every single nation, starting with the borders of Iran, Pakistan, Syria.  If we had done this the terrorist activity would have been drastically reduced (as most of it came from Iran, Pakistan and Syria)…and if there had been a division of the nations we should have had walls between them as well to help stop the spread of terrorism.

With staying longer, our first responsibility should have been building up roads, water, electricity, schools, hospitals and the basic of industry…the infrastructure needed to support a republic of law.  Training the military and police should have been a distant second (because when you rush that, you let the terrorist infiltrate easily and attack us from within, as we’ve seen all too well) as the military can handle that for a longer period as we’ll be there for a while.

There is no way we should have ever left Iraq without gaining a permanent military base and the same goes for Afghanistan. One of the only reasons why these invasions made sense in the long run from a tactical stand point was gaining foot holds to ensure stability in the area (would Syria be as violent as it is right now if there was a permanent US base with missile launch capability just a few minutes from it’s borders?)

Massacre of Syrian Christians

This is a picture of the handy work of Obama’s allies in Syria…the massacre of Christians for no other reason than their religion. Yes we should help these people.

Among stronger women’s right pushes than we made, we should have made it a requirement that both nations add full rights to women and some version of our burning bed justifications (which more or less makes it justifiable for a woman who is afraid of her husband beating or murdering her to kill her husband…and then we should have probably armed every woman as we could have). This would hopefully have cleared out a lot of the worst bastards we would have to worry about, and the scum who objected should have just been summarily shot as well because you know they’re shit who would be nothing but a blight on humanity. (And I can hear some liberal whiny about it’s their culture who are you to judge.  I’m a human being with a brain, that’s who.  Any man, any law, any religion that says women are inferior to men is shit and deserves to be wiped off the Earth with extreme prejudice.)  We should probably also have installed a lot of women in positions of power, those who objected can be shot.  (This is more to quickly identify the terrorist scum and quickly eliminate them).

We should never have stopped it being a major function of the military and CIA to gather intelligence.  We should be capturing terrorists leaders and water-boarding every last piece of information out of them.  The problem with drones isn’t their use or their death toll…it’s that they’re being used in lieu of gathering intelligence which actually (causes more death in the long run) kills even more people in the long run.

(On a side note) We should have backed, supported and armed the revolution that started in Iran.  Conversely we should not have given moral support to the largely terrorist led Arab Spring.

We should have gone in and still should be going in with the mentality that first and foremost this is a war.  If you are dealing with rational people then negotiate with them, but otherwise there is no retreat, no fallback, no quarter and all that is acceptable is either complete and unconditional surrender or every member of your opposition dead.  No negotiations with the Taliban, no playing nice for Iran and Pakistan.  This is a war, we are in the right (or at least we could have been) and we will not stop until every tyrant is dead or in jail and every innocent citizen enjoys full human rights.

 

Now, while Syria presents it’s own challenges and idiosyncrasies, but it is these general principals that should guide the occupation and rebuilding of any nation.  And the question you need to ask is, do you think Obama has the spine and intelligence to do any of this?  Do you think he even has the brains to carry out attacks on Assad’s military targets?

For me the answer is simple.  No.  I would love to spread liberty and end genocide everywhere…but from what I have seen of this nation, and especially Obama, we don’t know how to do it, we don’t have the patience it takes to do it, and right now we certainly aren’t in an economic position to do it.  In an ideal world intervention is what we should do, but the realities of the present state that our current situation will only lead to making things worse.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Congress, Conservative, Evils of Liberalism, Foreign Policy, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, liberal arrogance, Long Term Thinking, NeoConservative, Obama, People Are Stupid, politics, Tyranny, War on Terrorism

Constitutional Amendments, The Fact We Are A Republic Not a Democracy, And Short-Sighted Fools Who Get Called Conservatives

So Mark Levin has a new book out and is calling for Constitutional Amendments. How do I know this? Well it certainly wasn’t because I look forward to books by Mark Levin—honestly this man endorsed Rick Santorum (enemy of capitalism and raging psychotic extraordinaire) and never missed a chance to hit Romney. Yeah with conservative and sanity credentials like that in the single most important election that he has ever lived through, can’t imagine why I tend not to take Levin too seriously. But given the amount of press it’s getting in conservative circles I thought I would at least take a look at it and peruse it in Barnes and Noble…and it confirmed all my dislike of Levin, reading just a few pages made me sick…on the surface it has some very conservative principles, but when you only scratch the surface it is not very conservative, not very well thought out, and little more than populist tripe.

So first the good.

He wants to make the commerce clause more limited. Excellent. South Dakota v. Dole, the case that expanded the powers of the government under the commerce clause, was a terrible decision and needs

Did we forget we're conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

Did we forget we’re conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

to be overturned…I’ll come back to why it was terrible in a moment.

He wants to reaffirm the 5th Amendment’s right to private property in very clear terms. Again this is partly in response to the terrible Kelo ruling. I have no problem with this.

He has an Amendment that would allow two-thirds of states to overturn any law passed by Congress. I think this is an excellent check on federal power.

And he wants to overturn the 17th Amendment and make it so that state legislatures and only state legislatures pick Senators. Which is in line with the republican virtues the Founders intended and will eliminate a lot of problems. Legislatures tend to pick more reserved members for positions like this so hacks and shills for unions like Boxer, Feinstein, Reid, Obama, Clinton, Kerry, “Dances with Bullshit” Warren (okay really just about any Democrat that has been in the Senate in the last 50 years) and treasonous scum like McCain stand little chance. You’ll get reserved people, thoughtful people, who are not beholden to polls because they don’t run for reelection and not beholden to campaign contributors for the same reason. The people still have a voice in the House and in choosing the representatives who will pick Senators. This will also lead to better Supreme and Federal Court Justices as the Senate will no longer be party hacks. So no Kagan, no Sotomayor, but you would get a Bork.

However I think it is a major mistake to only leave the option of the Senator to be chosen by the state legislature. I would be more than happy to allow states to pick some combination of the legislature and governor or just the legislature…it ensures more gridlock, fewer ideologues and less of a chance of bleeding heart idiots getting in.

Also I would think that you might want to allow the people to have the right of recall of any Senator. Quite frankly I would love the ability to fire Senators rather than hire them.

Okay those are the good things he suggested. Now let’s go through the terrible tings he suggests…

He suggests sunset dates for all legislation and that all federal departments have to be reauthorized every few years. That sounds nice…but when you think any deeper than how it sounds (which someone who backed Santorum, like Levin, is clearly incapable of even conceiving of) it becomes terrible. From 1913-2013 liberals and progressives controlled the White House and both branches of government for 38 of those years, conservative for only 18 of those years…so over 1/3 of that time with liberals in absolute control…and you want to have Congress be responsible to constantly reauthorize the Department of Defense? Mark, are you insane or just stupid? The Constitution exists because we know that there will be times when the public takes a complete and total loss of its senses and elects idiots. An amendment like this gives idiots more power to simply not reinstitute good laws and continue making bad laws (as Obamacare has shown, a law doesn’t need to be around for long to cause harm).

Better idea: A Constitutional Amendment that Congress must list under what clause or Amendment they are using to have the power to enforce such a bill. That covers the Departments of Defense, Justice, State and Treasury. In this same Amendment it states that any law that uses the necessary and proper clause as justification must have a sunset date and can exist for no longer than 5 years. This variation not only limits the powers of government to its expressly listed powers (and the wiggle room the founders intended the necessary and proper clause to be) without giving free reign to unchecked power grabs

Then Levin says we should change the Amendment process to allow states to amend the constitution with only a two-thirds majority instead of the usual three-fourths. Now take a look at it this way, the three-fourths bar has given us such bad amendments as the 16th (income tax), the 17th (allowing the public to choose Senators), the 18th (prohibition) and the unspeakably stupid 26th Amendment (which gives immature brats the right to vote)*. Yeah let’s lower the bar because we’ve had such great Amendments get through the 3/4ths vote. Levin seems to forget that the terrible worded Equal Rights Amendment (nice in theory, terrible in wording and near carte blanche in the powers it granted because of that really bad wording) got 70% of the states to vote for it. Thanks Mark. Only an idiot thinks that conservatives will always be the majority—the pendulum always swings back and forth and the Constitution needs to be there when progressives who want to give the government more power is a wall against them…not as a tool for them to use! Which is exactly what Levin’s proposed Amendment would eventually be.
Term Limits. Term limits sound so nice…get the idiots out, let fresh blood in. Here’s the problem. Liberals can always find an idiot to vote party line, finding good honest conservatives who are sane to actually run for office is much more difficult (conservatives usually have the good sense to stay away). So all you’ll be doing is for the bad legislators, trading one scoundrel for another and while getting rid of competent people like Issa, Ryan, and Cantor and leaving it open for liberals to take their place. Great idea. It’s even dumber when you consider the revoking of the 17th Amendment makes the entire Senate a check against the kind of corruption and party politics that popular election breeds. Yes term limits on an office where one person holds the entire power of that office makes sense, but not in a body of parliament.

SCOTUSOh and then Levin wants to put term limits on the Court and allow Congress to over rule the Court. Might as well just disband the court. Congress and the President already have the power to choose who goes on the court and determine how many justices we have, and Congress and the states can overrule the court via Amendment. That’s a lot of check and balances already. There are two reasons why we have bad Supreme Court Justices. The first is because we have popularly elected idiots in the Senate making decisions, but revoking the 17th already fixes that. The 2nd is that Congress and the President have already misused the power they have…above I mentioned South Dakota v. Dole which expanded powers under the commerce clause—it’s time to talk about that case now—that ruling came down only because the Supreme Court had been intimidated by FDR who threatened to pack the court if they didn’t vote as he wanted. So the current checks and balances against the court led to it being intimidated and bullied, which has left a lasting effect in terms of precedence and behavior…and you want to give the President and Congress more power over the court. Why have a court? Levin is just unhappy with the decisions they make, so am I, but like any populist child he simply lashes out without thinking, attacking the symptom while making the disease worse.

And then there is the amendment limiting spending to 17.5% of GDP. Again sounds really nice. So long as we never have a major national disaster or have to fight a war. Yes, we have a spending problem, but this doesn’t help. And I love how he tags it to a figure like GDP…like a liberal economist can’t play with how that number is reached. Whatever happened to a simple balanced budget amendment which has triggers for emergency spending?

And then there is my favorite the Amendment requiring that to vote you have to have an ID. Again something I’m in support of…when it’s a state issue. My problem is with too much government power, and an Amendment like this gives the federal government even more power. Just because something is a great idea for a state, even a necessary idea for all 50 states, does not mean it should be a federal issue…conservatives understand this…idiots who support socialist Santorum do not. But yeah, let’s give the federal government the right to say what does and does not count as an ID, who gets an ID, what barriers and cannot be put up (if you make it a federal issue you’ve just given the government all these powers…I’m sure they’ll never abuse them).

Also a fun part of this Amendment is banning all electronic voting. Yes because an Amendment, something that should guide the nation for at least 100’s of years should institutionalize luddite fears because of problems in the early stages of a new technology…I hate to tell Mark this, any form of voting is subject to fraud, electronic voting may get more press because it’s new and cool, but seriously, an amendment banning it for all time.

The fact of the matter is that for all Levin’s claims to be a conservative many of these amendments do not properly view the nation as a republic where law is higher than anything…but rather show him to be a populist who thinks democracy and the will of the people (hence the term limits, the neutering of the courts, the rapid amendment of the Constitution, and the rapid dismissal of all law through sunset dates). These make the system less stable and more volatile, yes while conservatives are in control it would give us the power to quickly enforce our policies which are more in line with the ideals of the Founders and reality…but the Founders had the good sense to know that what is right is not always popular…and these same mechanisms could easily be used against America if the will of the people shifted. Just ask yourself, if these Amendments were in place in 1978 when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, Democrats controlled the House and Senate, and had complete control of just shy of 30 states (governors and legislatures), controlling 60% of all legislatures, and all other states were divided (no Republican control of all branches of state government). What could Carter and his ilk have done in 2 years? Would there have even been a nation left for Reagan to save? A populist wants power to change things the way they think it should be, but a real conservative asks the all important question of what could their enemy do with that same power? And horrifyingly most of Levin’s Amendments would give too much power to liberals in the end.

Now as I said there were some good ones.
Private Property
Revoke the 17th Amendment
Commerce Clause
2/3rd’s check by state on federal law

And I listed two above
Require all laws to list what power granted to Congress the law is being passed under, and anything under the necessary and proper clause has a sunset date.
A Balanced Budget Amendment

I would point out two others that help reaffirm this nation as a Republic not a democracy.

The first would be to replace the 26th Amendment. I’m sorry but of all the 18 year olds I have ever met less than 1% of them were qualified to vote. Most of the people I’ve known in their 20’s aren’t qualified to vote. Science is now telling us the brain doesn’t even stop developing until you’re 25 or 26. The voting age needs to be raised not lowered. If you’re under 30 you do not have the mental capacity or experience to vote. If you want to include a clause that anyone who signs up for military service will be granted the right early, I have no problem with that, but your average 18-29 year old is simply too naïve, too stupid, too immature and too easily persuaded by emotion to be allowed to vote.

The 2nd point I would have is something I don’t think the Founders ever really considered but would agree with if it was put to them. At the signing of the Constitution one of the reasons you had to have 13 states and not just one central government, besides centralized power leads to corruption, is that there was simply too much land and too many people for one government to govern it effectively. You could probably fit the entire population of the U.S. at the signing of the Constitution into modern Los Angeles. And that was too big for one government to control. Now communication and travel have made this somewhat easier…but keep in mind that I think the Founders would have agreed that if there is a minimum population a state needs to have, then there should probably be a maximum number it needs to have before it should break up into two states. I’m thinking around 10 million. I’m sorry but after that point it becomes inefficient to run a state (not to mention that populations this high are usually because of a single large city in the state which siphons welfare money out of the non-city areas to fuel welfare programs and guarantee bought votes). Think of it, two New Yorks, the liberal city we know…but far more reddish upstate New York with red electoral votes, and red Senators. California cut into thirds one state blue, one red, one probably purplish.* Texas which is turning a little blue into two safe red states and a blue one. If you work out the math is this only good news for conservatives in terms of Senate and electoral votes (which is also a strong pro republic idea since it makes it harder to swing as many states). And you wouldn’t have to give the federal government power to split states just state you’re not counting population above 10 million for Congressional seats and electoral college votes…most states would simply choose to split if you put that in place once they went over the 10 million mark. Now I’m more just thinking aloud here, and haven’t worked out the details of how such an amendment would have to be worded, and I’m sure someone out there could even convince me that it’s plain insanity, but it’s just a thought.

Now I admit that my suggestions are even less likely of being adopted than Levin’s but that doesn’t change the fact that his are dangerous to the safety of the union in the long run.

*I realize the current population of California is 38 million and technically that would be cut in 4th’s…but even if the highly unlikely occurred and my suggestions passed, it would be after years of the current population drop in California and I think we’ll see California under 30 million within the next decade.

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Filed under American Exceptionalism, Conservative, Constitution, Economics, Founding, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid, politics, Problems with the GOP

Is Capitalism Humane?

The great Milton Friedman on the ethics of capitalism.

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Filed under Capitalism, Conservative, Economics, Evils of Liberalism, Free Will, Individualism, Long Term Thinking, Natural Rights, philosophy, politics, Tyranny, virtue

Movies that show the rich as good #2: Meet Joe Black

“Should I be afraid?”
“Not a man like you.”

Meet Joe Black is a great movie for several reasons. A powerful love story. An insightful look at what life is about. And oddly enough a story about a businessman making sure his life work remains great. (Also the only time in history the IRS was even tangentially heroic…and not, you know, worthy of the treatment at the end of Braveheart).

Meet Joe BlackNow some might think that the story about the businessman trying to keep hold of his business when he knows for certain he will die in the immediate future is really a secondary plot line—that the love story of Death (Joe Black) and Susan is far more important than Anthony Hopkins business tales. And people who edit movies for TV and in-flight movies would agree with those people. However the director Martin Brest thought that it so ruined the movie that he got the Director’s Guild to agree that his name could be removed from the cut without the business story line—the Director’s Guild receives hundreds, some years, thousands of requests to have directors names removed because the director was unhappy with the result…virtually all of them are denied.* So that this was granted tells you that this plot line involving Hopkins’ character of Bill Parish is absolutely important.

Why? Or as Death puts it:

Joe Black: Bill, why at this juncture are you letting yourself be so concerned by business matters?
William Parrish: I don’t want anybody buying up my life’s work! Turning it into something it wasn’t meant to be. A man wants to leave something behind. And he wants it left behind the way he made it. He wants it to be run the way he ran it, with a sense of honor, of dedication, of truth. Okay?

Because this film shows us that life isn’t just about love. It is about life. The big and the small things (like peanut butter). And this movie shows the depth of love, not just romantic love, but the love of parents and children, of friendship, of siblings, and of life itself. Love is one of those massively important things…but so is accomplishment. In fact, if you look at the needs of people’s accomplishments, achievements, the attainment of goals is, according to psychologist Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, is the next thing we need to achieve in our quest for Happiness.

Now the liberals out there are probably rolling their eyes when they hear attainment of goals or achievement, as theyMeet Joe Black Dance think that you attain goals you must do so by taking from others. They see a world of static wealth and prosperity, where if I am to be successful another must fail, where if I am to be wealthy another must be poor, where if I am to be happy another must be miserable. Which is why they must tear down the strong, the successful, the happy, because in their warped mind those people are taking strength, success and happiness from others. Reality tends to be quite different. Whereas historically most economic and political systems have done the liberal thing and only shifted money and resources around, or at best created wealth at an astoundingly slow rate…capitalism literally creates wealth where it did not exist before. It takes work, ideas, creativity, individual and cooperation, risk, and planning to create wealth…but capitalism is the only system that can sustain long term innovation to create wealth out of what was previously worthless. Wealth thus has no limit, so long as there is liberty and drive to keep creating it. It parallels the other thing we seek for constantly in life: love. Just because I love my spouse doesn’t mean I have to love my parents, my siblings, or my children, or my friends less…they may all be different kinds of love, but an increase in one does not diminish the others. And the movie is quite clear; we need love in our lives:

Bill Parish: Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I’m not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this.

To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.

But again back to the Maslow’s hierarchy, life isn’t complete with just love, we also need accomplishment. And the character of Bill Parish certainly has accomplished as the founder and chairman and CEO of a multinational media empire. As he discusses his business he states:

Meet Joe Black ConfrontationSee, I started in this business because this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t going to write the great American novel, but I also knew there was more to life than buying something for a dollar and selling it for two. I’d hoped to create something, something which could be held to the highest standards. And what I realized was I wanted to give the news to the world, and I wanted to give it unvarnished. The more we all know about each other, the greater the chance we will survive.

Sure, I want to make a profit. You can’t exist without one. But John Bontecou is all profit. Now if we give him license to absorb Parrish Communications, and he has his eye on a few others after us, in order to reach the world you will have to go through John Bontecou. And not only will you have to pay him to do this, far more important, you’ll have to agree with him.

He veers almost into the territory of an Atlas Shrugged hero there…Yes I love making money, but I love making my creation more and you could offer me all the money in the world to scrap what I have built and I would throw it in your face. He is a man of morals which are more important than just money. Which is something else that correct philosophers from Aristotle to Maslow understood, while there are charlatans that can make money, they often can’t keep it going and can’t create. Yeah there are terrible businessmen out there, but the majority of the rich, from the so called Robber Barons to Mitt Romney the rich who come to their money through work and achievement are among the most generous people in the world (Please see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks for further proof).

And it is this mixture of accomplishment and love and morality that makes the character of Bill Parish so admirable that even Death views him as someone to learn from.

The man from whose lips fall “rapture” and “passion” and “obsession”? All those admonitions about being “deliriously happy, that there is no sense in living your life without” all the sparks and energy you give off, the rosy advice you dispense in round pear shaped tones. […]It requires competence wisdom and experience, all those things they say about you in testimonials. And you’re the one.

And as we see through the course of the movie as he cares for his family and their happiness more than his business, and the achievements he has made more than just buying another day or two of his life, why when right before Death takes him he asks, “Should I be afraid?” The obvious reply to someone who has built and accomplished and loved the only answer can be, “Not a man like you.” Bill Parish stands out as a man who has excelled in every aspect of his life…and it’s amazing that Hollywood would show such a character as being.

Meet Joe Black Death

*If you ever see a movie directed by Alan Smithee, there is no Alan Smithee. That’s the name the Director’s Guild puts on films they allow the real director to distance themselves from. Producers or a studio have to ruin beyond the telling of it a director’s film before this is ever granted.

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Filed under Capitalism, character, Death, Faith, Fear, Individualism, Long Term Thinking, Love, Movies, Movies for Conservatives

Capitalism: The ONLY hope of Mankind

Capitalism is the only system that has been shown to raise people out of poverty. It is the only system that benefits the rich, the middle class, and the poor. It is the only system that can bring a nation out of destitution. It is the only system that works long term. It is the only system compatible with human nature. It is the only system of economics that is ethical. It is the only system of economics that is sustainable because only capitalism creates and encourages the innovation and imagination needs to deal with the constant slew of problems that life brings.

You can either be in favor of Capitalism or you can be an idiot who knows nothing about economics, history, psychology, philosophy, ethics, human nature, politics, reason, logic or facts.











Let me say again…You can either be in favor of Capitalism or you can be an idiot who knows nothing about economics, history, psychology, philosophy, ethics, human nature, politics, reason, logic or facts. That is all.

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Ron Paul is championing home schooling…God help us all…

I think we are all very happy that Rand has not inherited his father's raving lunacy.

I think we are all very happy that Rand has not inherited his father’s raving lunacy.

I believe so strongly in the homeschooling movement that I have just announced my own curriculum for homeschooling families. Please visit this revolutionary new project at http://www.ronpaulcurriculum.com.–Ron Paul on the-free-foundation.org

Ron Paul is championing home schooling.

 

Usually I would say this is a good thing.  Homeschooling can be one of the most rewarding forms of education around (so long as the parents are involved and also willing to put in the time and effort needed).  For instance I always recommend The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer for anyone considering homeschooling… it is a reasoned, balanced, and in depth curriculum for homeschooling that stresses critical thinking and reading primary sources.

And at first glance the program Ron Paul is pushing seems to be that…what with things like:

  • It should be an academically rigorous curriculum that is tied to primary source documents — not textbooks. Textbooks are screened by committees. They dumb down the material.

  • If your child completes the entire curriculum — which runs from K through 12 — here is what he or she should be able to do, again quoting.

  • Speak in public and speak confidently

  • Write effectively

But then you see things like:

“It should provide a thorough understanding of Austrian school economics.”

And I think as a Chicago school monetarist, isn’t that just as bad as Keynesian indoctrination…maybe teach them Keynesian, Chicago, and Austrian principles and trust that reason will work…(and then I remember that if we’re trusting reason, that would lead them to the Chicago school, and those Austrians can’t have any of that).

But it gets worse….

  • It should teach the Biblical principle of self-government and personal responsibility, which is also the foundation of the free market economy.

Ummm… am I the only one that remembers the self-government things can more be traced to Athens, and Aristotle, and the Enlightenment?  Certainly many of the ethics of the Bible lead to the ethics or capitalist democratic-republics…but the Bible wasn’t enough for republican limited government—there were other parts involved.

So this leads one to take a closer look at the person actually in charge of the project that Ron Paul is championing?  Well on the page of instructors is this guy named Gary North.

And this is where it gets fun.  And by “fun,” I mean unspeakably terrifying.  I pulled this quote off of Gary North’s own web side, garynorth.com

So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we trak up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God’s law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the hearts of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort. But religious anarchy, like  “democratic freedom” in ancient Greece, is a temporary phenomenon; it lasts only as long as no single group gets sufficient power and accepted authority to abandon the principle.

I’m going to give you a few seconds to re-read that.  Several times.  Because I’m sure you’re thinking he can’t actually be advocating a complete theocracy that will destroy all opposing religions.  But yes, yes he is. This guy wants a Christian Caliphate to wipe out all the non-Christians.  This guy makes Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum’s rhetoric look stable (I’m not sure if Ricky is stable, I suspect he may be in favor of this, but at least he has the good sense not to say it aloud).  Gary North is the psycho-Christian that the entire left thinks all Republicans are.  This is the Taliban of Christianity.

And this is the guy Ron Paul wants to create a home schooling system for the next generation.

Take a moment to think about this.  If the Paulbots had had their way, Gary North might have been Secretary of Education.  Even though Ron Paul never stood a serious chance, that he even came as close as he did, that should scare the shit out of you.

Now what is more frightening is when you consider how many Paulbots there are who follow the word of their master blindly (I mean they overlooked the racism and the anti-Semitism).  We have enough issues in this nation trying to fight the left without also having to fight blindly following groups of libertarian-theocrats (yes I know, those terms should be opposed to each other just on the face of it, but let’s be honest here, in real life, people are a mass of contradiction).  Think of it Paulbots, but now they’re also motivated by religious fervor—if this gets any traction, it is possible it could be more insane than Westboro.

I’m not saying everything this man is going to put out is wrong, nor should homeschooling not be considered if you have the time and resources…but I don’t think anyone should blindly follow whatever program Ron Paul and Gary North put out.

Ron Paul is brining his insanity to education

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Education, God, Long Term Thinking, Teaching

Drop the meaningless phrase “Judeo-Christian Values” and other ways for Conservatives to win

Okay so several times I have asked what the phrase “Judeo-Christian Values” means and how it is different from the values of other beliefs and religions.  I haven’t received many good answers.  Yes there are certainly differences between them in the nature of God or in the rituals and the structure of the community…but in terms of values there is little difference…everyone regards the soul as divine in some way* and proper understanding of any of these religions lends one to a virtue based ethics in line with the Classical Realism of Aristotle and Plato.  In fact, when you look at most religions there are some pretty strong parallels in all the virtues—some may be more detailed than others in some areas and less in others, but they seem to focus on the same general virtues.

virtue

Granted there is not a point for point comparison between the virtues that I am showing here, and there are shades of difference and meaning, often caused more by culture and period of time they were written in, but in terms of broad swaths, every religion believes in the same general set of virtues. Also this chart could be much more inclusive of a variety of religions and still hold true…but I think you get the point.

So the term Judeo-Christian values, which supposedly would mean the virtues and ethics this group holds to be good and right and true is just the same as the virtues of every other religion, then it’s not that meaningful a phrase.  Yes there are differences between Judeo-Christian beliefs and other religions, but none of these differences have anything to do with the political context of how the phrase “Judeo-Christian values” is used.

The phrase is meant to draw a contrast between spiritual/religious values and those of the secular, progressive, fascist, fanatical sections of society that actually don’t share either a belief in virtue based ethics or have some very radically different values.

So why is this an important point to bring up?

Well because it makes a pretty clear distinction between those who follow Judeo-Christianity and everyone else.  Including people of lots of different faiths who were not intended to be alienated.  Is this relevant?

Well first off I think it’s a fair statement that the term Judeo-Christian values is primarily used by conservatives.  Second I would assume we want to win.  We lost the last election by 3.9% points.  A 3% shift of the vote would have given Romney the popular and Electoral College vote and about 6 Senate seats (i.e., complete Republican control).  So it then becomes a question, is there 3% of the electorate who is religious and spiritual, not already voting Republican, that is not in the Judeo-Christian bracket?

Let’s look at the polls.

Trends in Religion PewPew does a major poll every year looking at the trends in religion in America.  It’s a sample of 17,000 people so it’s fairly accurate as polls go.

So of the “other” religion we have 6% of the nation and of the “nothing in particular” group we have 13.9% of the population.  Together they make 19.9% of the population.  Common sense alone says that if you have 20% of the country, two-thirds of whom are voting against your party, then maybe if you stopped alienating them with an us vs. them term (or at least picked a new term) you could pick up a few…maybe?

So let’s look at the 19.9% a little more closely.  Okay so we can discount about 1% of the “other” group as they are the “religion of peace” and their fairly fascist beliefs are moderately antithetical to conservative principles and the values/ethics being promoted.  So we’re down to 18.9% up for grabs.

Now the let’s look at how the remaining 5% of the “Other” and the 13.9% of “nothing in particular.”  Now a flaw of this report is that they lump the ““nothing in particular” in with Atheists and Agnostics under the heading of Unaffiliated (but for Trend in Religion by party Pewthe purpose of this let’s just assume the numbers are about the same throughout all the unaffiliated, it doesn’t make a terribly large difference anyway).  From the data we can see that only about 57% of the Other group and 69% of the unaffiliated are voting for Democrats (trust me the math works).  So give or take (you know there are some independents we’re not taking into account) that’s about 12%.  12% that probably share the values of the Christian voters who lean toward voting Republican, but for some reason aren’t voting Republican.  Do you think that term “Judeo-Christianity” might have something, even a small part, to do with it?

Isn’t this just a call for political correctness?  No.  The idiocy of political correctness is saying you have to watch everything you say because it might hurt someone’s feelings.   And it is for all levels of life, from the public and political to the personal.  I am not saying you have to adjust your personal language or beliefs.  This is merely a political reality.  We as conservatives have certain values and policies we know will work and better the lives of everyone.  Politics is as much about emotion and perception as it is about facts and plans, probably more so. Political Correctness has nothing to do with practical ends, which is why it has to be enforced by the left so viciously else reason would drive most people to that end anyway; what I am talking about is something very different than being PC, I’m talking about selling an idea with very real consequences.  A term like “Judeo-Christian values” is loaded from the get go, it creates an us vs. them mentality, at a time when we need more of the people in the “them” category to vote for us.  If we switched to using the term “spiritual value” or “God centered” more often, it would mean the exact same thing in terms of everything relevant to politics and ethics, and it wouldn’t emotionally alienate those we are trying to win over.  You can still use “Judeo-Christian” if you really feel strongly about it, but do it knowing you’re hurting the chance to actually see your goals accomplished.

Is this stupid?  Yeah.  It’s silly and ridiculous to think we should have to be this nitpicky about our language and terms to win people to our side.  But, the last time I checked we already had reason, logic, facts, truth, plans, and vision on our side.  Didn’t notice that doing us any good.  Oh, wait this is politics. Stupid thing like word choice do matter.  Is it stupid?  Yeah, but it’s something you have to do.

New Age beliefsBut should we end our discussion of this group of “nothing in particular” with just this term?  Well that might work towards making in-roads with maybe 1% of those 12%, in-roads that would allow the rest of our arguments to make a difference, and that 1% we get to follow reason would be a third of the way we need to go, but it’s still not enough.

Let’s take a look at some of the actual beliefs of this group.  Namely that 25% of them believe in reincarnation (If you assume that all the atheists and agnostics do not believe in reincarnation then it’s actually about 35% of the “nothing in particular” group…or about 4% of the general public.)  Further while there is nothing in this year’s report, previous year’s reports showed that a belief in reincarnation was more popular with women, minorities, the young, Democrats, liberals, moderates, independents, and Christians who attend church less often (i.e., the people we need to win over).

So it is safe to assume that most of those in that 4% are not voting Republican.

But they should.

A belief in reincarnation by its very nature lends to long term thinking—the policies I put in place today won’t just affect my children and grandchildren, they’ll affect me over and over and over again.  Thus anyone who believes in reincarnation has to believe in plans that aren’t as concerned with momentary problems, but with building long term systems that self-perpetuate and offer prosperity to the most people for the longest time with most chance of growth…that would be the capitalism and republicanism officered by real conservative belief.  This is an argument I’ve made before, extensively in Republicans & Reincarnation, and one that we should all make to anyone who holds this article of faith in reincarnation.  If you actually approach them on their own terms, and showed that the logical consequence of their beliefs is conservatism, we could get another 1% of that group…which means of the 49% left we only have to convince another 1% and given the abysmal failure of a second Obama term, that should be easy.

You don’t have to agree with people on faith. But you’re not going to convince them on politics if your stance is mine is the only religion worth following by using terms like “Judeo-Christian value.”  Say “spiritual values” instead, it means the same thing, it still separates you from the secular liberal base you are trying to show a contrast with, and it may pick up a few votes. And if you’re arguing with someone who doesn’t agree with your religion or your politics, you’ll never convince them to give up a faith because of reason, it just doesn’t work (even if you do show contradictions and put them on the path to agreeing with you spiritually, it will initially only dig in their heels more on every other topic against you)…but if you approach them on their terms spiritually and show them how their beliefs do dictate a conservative point of view, then you at least get something.

*The only two exceptions to this are followers of the religion of peace (Sufis excluded) and atheists.

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Filed under A Course in Miracles, Aristotle, Atheism, Bhagavad Gita, Capitalism, Conservative, Economics, Education, Evils of Liberalism, Faith, Free Will, God, Individualism, Long Term Thinking, New Age, philosophy, politics, Problems with the GOP, Religion, Spirituality, virtue

10 Suggestions to Improve Healthcare After Obamacare is Killed

Rep. Paul Ryan budget proposal

The Path to Prosperity is still the first step we need to take to getting back to sanity. It may not have everything conservatives and libertarians want, but it is the first real step in right direction in a long time.

So this week started out with Paul Ryan stating that he is still planning on the complete repeal of Obamacare. And from what he said before his keynote speech at CPAC…I’m laying even odds that he starts a chorus of “Do You Hear the People Sing” and leads a march to build a barricade around the White House.

But it’s good to know that the crusade to end what is perhaps the worst bill in memory (it’s hard to say it’s the worst bill of all time when you have to compare it to the terrible socialist bills of FDR and LBJ’s presidencies)…still this bill is pretty close to being the straw that broke the camel’s back for this country and it must go before we can fix all the other monstrosities.

But liberals, being the whiny brainless sort that they are will whine “but medical costs are too high. But people have a right to insurance. But people have a right to  healthcare!”
Ignoring the simple fact that healthcare isn’t a right by any stretch of the imagination and that if you need healthcare, get a job and earn it, let’s deal with their claim that medical costs are too high.

I would agree medical costs are too high. But, like a bad doctor, liberals want to treat the symptom not the disease. Healthcare costs too much, throw money at it; that should cut the costs.

Conservatives however, like to determine the causes of high costs, which is the disease and treat that. So what are the causes of high costs (hint, it’s not the private sector)?

(Everything that will follow will assume that Obamacare has been justly killed because there is nothing in the bill that should be saved).

So what are the three main costs to medical care: Insurance, doctor’s/hospital bills, and drug costs?

So how do we cut insurance costs?

Suggestion #1
Tort Reform. Tort Reform. Tort Reform.
Every state that has instituted tort reform has seen medical costs drop, the number of doctors increase, the number of unnecessary procedures drop like a rock and even the number of deaths drop. If the federal government and every state were to institute real and sweeping tort reform you would see every single thing you buy drop in price, but you would probably see the biggest increase in the quality of medicine.

Suggestion #2

We allow insurance companies to cross state lines. Right now all insurance companies are banned from selling insurance across state lines. Look at any insurance card you have. Farmer’s Insurance of California. Blue Cross of Arizona. There may be a national corporation, but it owns 50 separate corporations in 50 different states. That’s a lot of overhead. It also stifles competition. A smaller company can’t expand beyond its own state because it can’t afford to set up a whole infrastructure to have a multi-state operation. This limits competition, and as anyone knows the less competition the higher the prices. If we remove the federal block against insurance crossing state lines you will see drops in every form of insurance you have: medical, car, house.

Just those two things would easily drop the cost of health insurance to probably 90% of its pre-Obamacare costs, perhaps more.

But why stop there? Doctor’s bills themselves also contribute to a large portion of the costs. So what can we do there?

Well a lot of the initial costs come from the fact that when doctors start their career they are laden with college and med school debt. Obscene levels of debt. So let’s fix that.

Suggestion #3
The reason why college costs are so high is because the federal government subsidizes them at outrageous prices. Subsidies always increase costs. Always! So cut all tuition subsidies and grants. Within a year you will see college costs drop. Now this won’t have an immediate effect as the doctors without massive debt will be years away from entering the market, but long term this will not only solve part of our medical problem but our massive college debt problem.

But part of the reason why doctors charge so much is because they know that Medicare and Medicaid aren’t going to pay them their full billing price, so to stay in business this has a threefold fix.

Suggestion #4
Adopt the Ryan Plan which will allow more competition in Medicare and Medicaid, which will both ensure doctors get better payment AND lower the cost to the taxpayer for these costs.

Suggestion #5
In a second step we need to move as much of Medicare and Medicaid costs to the states as possible. While the private sector does better when done on large scale, government and bureaucracy work in the exact opposite manner. The closer any government program is to the people the more efficient and the lower the cost. Lower costs means that Medicaid and Medicare will be able to get closer to pay 100% of doctors’ asking prices for their services (not to mention more doctors taking Medicare and Medicaid patients) which means they will be able to drop their prices for the rest of us and still make a tidy profit for their practice.

Suggestion #6
Increase the penalties for Medicaid and Medicare fraud. We’re talking about nearly $500 Billion in fraud every year. $500,000,000,000.00! I’ll let that number wash over you for a second. That’s one of the main reasons why Medicaid and Medicare can’t afford to pay full price to doctors. Now while I generally don’t believe the government should criminalize more things or come up with even stronger punishments, fraud is something even the most libertarian government must prosecute and fraud against the government doubly so. Penalties and enforcement need to be much stronger. If there’s $500 Billion in fraud it means the risk is much, much lower than the reward. Much lower. If we have to get a little Draconian, so be it, we need to make it very clear that the risk is now worth the reward.

Now the cost of drugs is also an issue. So how do we lower the costs of drugs (and liberals throwing money all willy-nilly at research never works).

However there are things we can do.

Suggestion #7
Allow drug patents to start when the FDA approves the drug. Right now a drug patent (20 years) begins when the drug is patented. So when a drug takes 10-15 years to get FDA approval. This means that the company only has 5-10 years to recoup all of the cost of not only research for that drug, but of all the other drugs that failed. So they have to recoup all of their investment for all R&D in only 5 years. And you wonder why the cost is so high. If we started the 20 year clock when the FDA grants approval they would have more time to recoup costs and thus would not need to charge as much.

Suggestion #8
Reform the FDA. Right now the FDA prevents human testing of experimental drugs on willing patients with terminal diseases….because the drug might kill them. You know if I have a terminal disease the last thing I care about is if a drug will kill me, because I know for a fact the disease will. A lot of medical costs are in cancer treatment; to allow willing patients to try experimental drugs could not only rapidly speed up research (thus cutting costs to a fraction of their current levels) but actually find some cures and real treatments to one of the biggest costs in the medical industry.

And then there are some other things we could do that could help medical care. Nanny’s in the government like to talk to us a lot about eating healthier which is odd since government programs are designed to make sure we don’t eat healthier.

Suggestion #9
End all government subsidies, tariffs, and controls for agriculture. We pay people to grow tobacco, we pay them to grow sugar, we pay them to leave ground fallow. We even pay people to grow corn only to be turned into fuel (ironically it takes over a gallon of fuel to produce a gallon of corn ethanol…that’s efficient.) When you subsidize something you get more of it. And you wonder why it’s hard to get healthy food. Yes, ending subsidies and tariffs on sugar would initially drop the price of sugar, but it would also result in less being produced which would again raise the price. It would also leave more ground for producing the fruits and vegetables we’re not getting right now because fresh food is so overpriced.

Suggestion # 10
And while we’re at it, if we want people to eat healthier maybe we could stop regulations on food. Stop sending SWAT teams at raw milk distributors, stop fining people for having their own gardens of fresh food, stop preventing the Amish from taking fresh food across state lines. You know little things like that.

Special Idea #11 Fluoridation
Now I usually hate talking about fluoridation. Why? Because so many wacko conspiracy theorist nuts think it’s some grand government conspiracy to control people. It’s not. It was, as with most government actions, a well meaning but idiotic plan. Let’s put fluoride in the water to strengthen their teeth (we can’t trust people with their own hygiene). Yeah let’s put a substance in the water that causes lower IQ’s, higher cancer rates and drastically lowers the thyroid gland (which might have something to do with obesity). What could possibly go wrong? You know between the expansion of the dental industry, better access to toothpaste, and personal responsibility I think our teeth are fine. Let’s stop fluoridating water.

Special Idea #12 

Walmart and other such stores apparently want to get into the healthcare business.  I say let them.  They want to open small clinics.  Honestly what they’re proposing will basically act as a triage center.  They will tell all the people with just a cough to just get Sudafed, treat the small wounds, and thus clean up the real traffic at urgent care and the ER.  This will almost certainly cut down costs from needless tests.

Notice something about this. With the exception of #6, involving the prosecution of criminals (a proper function of government), each and every one of these calls for less government not more. Why? Because government and regulation are what is causing so many problems.

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Filed under Budget, Capitalism, Congress, Conservative, Economics, Evils of Liberalism, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Health Care, Long Term Thinking, Obama, Paul Ryan, politics

The Absolute Need for Tort Reform

SCOTUSI’m planning on looking at various problems liberals whine and complain about needing more government and show how each and everyone one of those problems is caused in multiple ways by more government.  And I already know that in in most of the cases it’s going to come back to Tort Reform being needed, so I figured I should put together some evidence for it.

Tort Reform?  Tort law is the law that governs civil lawsuits.  Right now the Democratic Party (and quite a few RINOs) as a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Bar Association (read unethical scum and ambulance chasers) are against tort reform (probably because it would be good for the nation).

However reforms like limiting the amounts you can receive for pain and suffering, limiting lawsuits to negligence or the but-for test (where you can sue unless you can prove but for the plaintiff’s actions the defendant would be fine), creating a loser pays system (where the loser has to pay the winner’s legal fees), penalties for ambulance chasers who bring in one frivolous lawsuit after another, and more power for judges to throw out frivolous cases.  Simple things like that.

This may all sound silly, or even pointless.  But take a look at the warning labels on items when you buy them.  An iron that says “Do not use while wearing clothes.”  A hair dryer that says “Do not use in tub.”  A string of Christmas lights that say “For indoor and outdoor use only” (I’m not making that one up…but I really don’t want to know what the use they’re warning you against is). Or “Warning Coffee is Hot” really? The coffee’s hot?  No kidding.  You have to be a f!@#ing idiot to not know that.  Almost all of these are because stupid people used these items in an inappropriate way…and then they sued.  And when the company they sued loses the costs hurt you either by raised prices or fewer employees being hired.  Even when the company doesn’t win, they’ve still lost because of legal fees.  And you still bear the burden of the cost.  All because stupid people also happen to be litigious people (also because lawyers tend to be somewhere on the evolutionary chain below pond scum).

Every state that has engaged in tort reform has seen lower costs, more employment, fewer court costs and more efficient courts, a stimulated economy and more tax revenue. They’ve even seen fewer deaths because doctors aren’t afraid anymore to actually practice medicine.

Tort reform is primarily a state by state issue, and you should see where your state is in terms of tort laws and if you have time try and get  tort reform in your state.  However there are also a few federal issues (as there are federal civil cases) and thus we need some federal reform as well.

But don’t believe me.  Here is a body of op-eds, reports, studies and opinions by people who have done far more research than I.  It all comes to the same conclusion, we need tort reform.

Torture By Tort
The Ninth Circuit Frosts the Lawyers in a Juvenile Cereal Lawsuit
Do’s and Don’ts of Tort Reform
 Big Tort Means Big Problems for US Health Care
Tort Reform in the States 
Tort reform, the right way
Tort Reform in the States: Protecting Consumers and Enhancing Economic Growth
 Does Tort Reform Reduce Health Care Costs?
Tort Reform Saves Lives
 U.S. Tort Liability Index: 2010 Report
Tort Reform Can Lower Costs Without Harming Health Care. So Why Isn’t It in Obama’s Plan?
Subway’s “Footlong” Accused of Coming Up Short

Now in doing this research I found some typical complaints from liberals. I present these stupid arguments with my responses.

1. Most cases aren’t civil lawsuits so this isn’t a problem.

That’s because most companies will settle because they know juries are unreliable and composed of 12 people too dumb to get out of jury duty.  Thus most things that come under the law governed by tort law are handled out of court.

2. Evil corporations want tort reform.

Any time the whole argument is against corporations, you know it’s a BS argument.  Corporations can be good or bad depending on their behavior.  Corporations will actually behave better when only legitimate lawsuits are brought against them and we don’t knee jerk dismiss every lawsuit as the work of an ambulance chaser.

3. Tort reform limits people from receiving their right to a jury trial.  Juries are one of the most basic defenses of a democracy.

First we live in a republic, a system designed on the premise that people are fickle and can be stupid.  And for anyone who wants to plead the intelligence of juries I have two letters for you: OJ.  Juries are a last ditch effort that no one wants, it’s why so many criminal cases are plead out, and so many civil suits dealt with out of court.  Juries are at best unpredictable and at worst consistently illogical and dumb.  They’re trying to make a pointless emotional argument that has nothing to do with facts.

4.  Tort reform will limit the amount that people have a right to when they are harmed by people and corporations.

Um…the only thing I know we want to limit is “pain and suffering” costs.  If you’re a professional athlete and have your body injured by a corporation you could still sue them for loss of income for millions.  But that doesn’t often happen.  It’s pain and suffering judgments that create the most in awards and it’s these that are often the most ridiculous.

5. Injured people will not be able to file suit if we have tort reform.

Actually since there will be fewer frivolous lawsuits from ambulance chasers throwing everything against a wall to see what sticks, people with real cases (but who don’t have sleazy lawyers who know how to work the field) will have a better chance of getting their case heard.

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Filed under Capitalism, Conservative, Constitution, Economics, Long Term Thinking, politics

Bi Weekly Meditation: There should be no conflict between reason and faith.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

In the beginning was Reason*, and Reason was with God, and Reason was God. (John 1:1)

I post this correct translation of the verse because I have had some odd runs ins with atheists and fanatical Christians lately (and in one really bizarre case someone who seemed to be both at the same time, yes I think that person was just a bit mentally unhinged) who seems to think that reason and faith in God somehow completely incompatible.

This is silly.

This is an embrace of the preposterous ancient concept of “I believe because it absurd .”  That faith, and by extension God, are opposed to and not limited by reason.

Now while there may be some people who feel this way, no sane religion I can think of takes this position.  From St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles to Krishna in the Bhagavad –Gita to even being implicit in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and obviously in the quote above, faith and reason are not portrayed as opposing ideas but rather as ideas that fit together perfectly.

Creation of Adam

There is a reason why that robe around God is shaped like a brain and why the angels are contorted in just the right way to look like the different lobes of the brain.

Yes there are points where reason due to lack of knowledge and information can’t go beyond and that is why we need faith to go beyond it.  And there are places where reason might suggest a certain conclusion, but because our faith disagrees with this point we are forced to revisit the line of logic to find that we missed something.  And there must be times when reason commands that we put away some foolish ideas we previously held on faith.  But correct faith and reason always point to the Truth and are never truly opposed.    And anyone who thinks that they are by nature opposed doesn’t know anything.

Granted if faith says one thing and reason another you do need to find out if your reason is bad or if you misunderstand the point of faith, but never should they be opposed when both done correctly.

But God is ultimate reason, there is no possible reason why God, and the faith that believes in him, should conflict with reason.  And he gave you a brain and the free will to use it…I doubt that was simply to submit to illogic.  Faith may be needed to buffer us through some of the hard parts, but it doesn’t conflict with reason.  And reason doesn’t conflict with faith when they both point to the truth.

So for the next couple of weeks I would like you to consider what you believe because of reason and because of faith.  Find the contradictions, work through them.  And if you simply want a mantra to begin and end these meditations with may I suggest:

God is the mind in which I think

*Some will likely dispute this translation…but if you translated any other philosophical work from the time period λόγος (logos) would be translated as Reason or Logic.  Now in the NeoPlatonic belief system this word is jammed full of a lot of meaning and quite a bit of mysticism, but first and foremost it does mean Reason.

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Filed under Faith, Free Will, God, Long Term Thinking, Meditation, philosophy, Prayer, Religion, Spirituality