Category Archives: People Are Stupid

Licensing and the government need to get rid of opportunities to employment

government license

Taxes, regulators, fees, bans on perfectly safe products, and myriad of other BS from the government. But among all of the asinine things that the government does, there is possibly nothing more idiotic than requiring licenses for certain professions as one of the most idiotic things that is specific to states.*

Now there are a myriad of stupid examples. Requiring hairdressers to get a license (because clearly you couldn’t cut or style hair without permission from the state) or requiring yoga instructors to get a license…because the government needs to regulate if the person telling you to move slowly is qualified or not…just ask this question, think of the dumbest yoga instructor you’ve ever met, now think of the smartest DMV employee you’ve ever met. I think we all know in this contest that the yoga instructor is not only a nuclear physicist in comparison, but they’re probably also not the Gestapo-wanna-be that the dumb psychos at the DMV tend to be (in case you’re wondering I live in Arizona and don’t have to renew my license until I’m 65 so I feel quite comfortable saying that everyone at the DMV is a worthless sack of shit)*. So in what universe do we think the functionally retarded people in government are in any way qualified to tell anyone else if they’re qualified for a job?

From government enforced cabals that prevent basic services being given at a reduced price to the poor…

to government efforts to actively destroy small businesses and innovation


Government attempts to license and regulate business is not only stupid it is evil.

But let’s deal with the issue I’m most familiar with… teaching. Let me give you the run-down of how much you have to do to get and keep your teaching license. You have to get a B.A. Okay so far. You have to get a finger print clearance from the state (basically you have to have the F.B.I. run your prints to make sure you’re not a felon and shouldn’t be around children). Still okay, but sadly we haven’t even come close to finishing. Now you need to complete education courses in addition to your undergraduate degree…this might seem fine if it were on classroom management, child psychology, and maybe some curriculum design…but what teaching programs are often chock full of is education history (not the useful kind), education theory (the kind that wants to talk about oppression, and class warfare, and inequality…the kind of bullshit that will make you yearn to the conservatives of a Tumblr Social Justice Warrior). Oh and then the state is going to test you on your field of knowledge, on teaching theory, and of course general knowledge (wait didn’t I have a B.A.)…keep in mind you’re paying for all of this out of pocket. Then you get to take a couple of courses on “Structured English Immersion” theoretically courses on how to teach non-English speakers language…but not one single shred of it is useful. The last time I went to my S.E.I. course, after shelling out several hundred dollars, they handed us a packet that the most recent research listed was from the Bush administration (no, not W.) but had the audacity to tell me this was all based on the most recent research. Really? Because anyone up on the most recent research knows the problem of education research is that it doesn’t ever want to seem to be reproducible. So I don’t see how this is cutting edge research. Oh, then to keep your teaching credential you have so many hours of “professional development” to complete every few years. The stated purpose of this is so that you can learn new and effective ways of teaching…but as someone who has sat through hundreds of hours of “professional development” I can tell you there is nothing professional about a meeting that covers teaching methods so stupid no self-respecting teacher would ever suggest them to students—except maybe as a joke—not to mention the fact that the most interesting professional development I have ever been to still made me question if slitting my wrists right there and ending it all might not be a better call than sitting through one more second of that idiocy. You know the expression “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Well I’m not sure that’s always true…but I can tell you that “Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.” Professional development is nothing but a money making scheme to make schools pay teachers for days off and to bilk that same money out of teachers to go to the cronies of the law makers who passed the laws in the first place. Oh and then this encourages teachers to get their Masters and Ph.D.’s. Let me state something as an immutable fact. GETTING YOUR M.A. or Ph.D. in Education HAS NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE MADE ANYONE ON EARTH A BETTER TEACHER. It is the most bullshit of bullshit degrees. The mythical degree in underwater basket-weaving is more useful than a M.A. in Education. And you get to pay teachers more who have it. In my experience the people with M.A.’s in Education are statistically worse teachers than their B.A. holding brethren…and if you meet someone with a doctorate in Education: RUN. They know less than nothing about their craft. Why because they would rather have spent their time getting a worthless piece of paper than working with their students.

A B.A. and a fingerprint clearance card that’s it. Then hire and fire the teachers based on performance. That is all you need to do to get good teachers. And all the bullshit of the above paragraph doesn’t keep good teachers…it repulses good teachers and only the most psychotically dedicated and those who know they cannot survive in the free market on any other skill are willing to continuously jump through those hoops.

But it’s not just teaching as the above links and video show, it’s everything. Government is out to control who can and cannot be this or that profession.

Do you know why many people left Europe and came to America in the early days? Because in Europe there were Guilds that required people to work as apprentices (read: slaves) for members of the Guild for numerous years before you could become a member of the Guild. If you were not a member of this or that Guild you could not legally practice that profession. It was the exact opposite of liberty. And while not as strict a caste system as India at the time, it pretty much guaranteed that whatever profession your parents chose to sell you as an apprentice to was your profession for life.
And this licensing idiocy that modern government is getting into is worse because it’s not just once you’re in a profession you can stay there…no our modern government keeps coming back saying you have to buy into the this or that training program they have created through law. There are mafia protection rackets that are less arduous.

We need to get the government out of licensing. All licensing. As Milton Freidman pointed out the government shouldn’t even be in the business of licensing doctors and lawyers—and if government has no place in those professions it has no profession in any business.

And what will be the result? More social mobility. More money for everyone. More competition…and by extension lower prices and better products and service.

Get the government out of all licensing.

*Okay there could easily be more idiotic things (and I’m sure there certainly are)

*You don’t even want to know my thoughts on the IRS.

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Filed under Capitalism, Government is useless, People Are Stupid

Why Harry Reid’s attacks on the First Amendment are wrong and vile

So while liberals have been throwing hissy fits for years about the Citizen’s United they seem to have come back to this idea with their impending doom in 2014 coming. (Really the creation of Super PACS owes a lot to various relegation and legislative changes and to just Citizens United v. the Federal Election Committee, but Democrats know their base doesn’t do well with complex ideas, so they just pick on Citizens United, and I always try and play in the opposition’s ballpark, so we’ll just refer to Citizens United). But now their hatred for free speech has found a new target, in Harry Reid’s unhinged attack on the Koch brothers and his statement that he will seek a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizen’s United (and the First Amendment) with a Constitutional amendment.

You know personally my first inclination is to slap the little loser Harry Reid and tell him that it will be a cold day in hell that his stupid fascist amendment even gets out of his Senate let alone meeting the requirements in the House and three-quarters of the states. But that would do no good. Harry Reid is simply too stupid to benefit from any attempt of slapping sense into him (although perhaps every member of the Senate should get a baseball bat and try knocking some intelligence into him just to see if it might work…I mean what’s the worst that could happen?)

Now we could get into the minutia of how Democrats are still outspending Republicans, or how the Democrats the biggest beneficiaries of group donations (mainly from unions) but let’s ignore that for just a moment. But let’s ignore the minutia and get to the heart of the matter.

 

SCOTUS

Every so often they get something right as they did in Citizen’s United…now to overturn Kelo and S.D. v Dole

The central liberal argument is that Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee was wrong—that money is not speech and therefore cannot be protected under the First Amendment—that whoever has the most money always wins. The first point is just obviously stupid, but this is an argument from people who don’t get why we have to have the legal fiction of corporate personhood. They also don’t understand that your property rights are sacrosanct and under the theory of natural rights (which is kind of the basis of our entire legal system); that your property, including money, and what you do with it is an extension of your person legally, ergo spending money is speech if you choose it to be. And the minute you separate what you do with your money from free speech there is a very dangerous slippery slope. If you money can be regulated, then so can your time and limits can be placed on how much time you can donate to a campaign. And then you could limit how many organizations you can donate time. And then all the government would have to do is declare this charity or that church function a political issue and soon think about how much of you public life is being regulated.   And if your statement through money can be regulated because its of a political nature can you only make a certain number of Facebook, tumblr, and Twitter posts about a candidate or issue? A government with the spying power of the NSA*, the bullying ethics of the IRS and a free hand to limit political speech can do some very frightening things.

 

But let’s ignore the unspeakable idiocy of the argument that money isn’t speech. Let’s focus on what they’re saying about democracy in a democratic-republic like the US, because that is even more laughable (or frightening).

 

The argument against Citizens United is based on the argument that who has the most money wins.

Let’s look at this argument.

 

Certainly if I have half a trillion dollars and my opposition has $10 I will probably win. But seldom in American politics are things so lopsided. And do you really think that if the Klan or the American Nazi Party had a trillion dollars they could actually get any real power in this nation? Logic tells us that at a certain point you can spend all the money you want and if the people hate you, you’re screwed. You just have to look at advertising…Hollywood occasionally spends the GNP of third world nations hyping some piece of crap that almost no one goes to see…if the logic of Citizen’s United opponents were applied then everyone should just follow the hype.

 

But let’s look at some extremes. On the one side did we forget that a felon in West Virginia and a challenger in Arkansas, both with no money to speak of, gave a sitting president a run for his money in the last presidential election cycle? Or on the other side let’s look at a man like George Soros. Now I don’t have to believe that Soros is some evil mastermind on the level of Lex Luthor or Ernst Stavro Blofeld to admit that (A) his politics are somewhere to left of the current French president’s and (B) through direct contributions and contributions to PACs like Moveon the man has dumped an obscene amount of money into U.S. elections. I don’t buy the conspiracy theories, but the fact is the man is very progressive and very giving of money to causes he believes in. As is his right. But here’s the funny thing…if the people who oppose Citizen’s United were right, then all the money he has spent combined with all the money unions have spent over the years then it should never have even been close in 2000 or 2004, and the country should already be so far left that Obama would look like Reagan right now. Strangely I failed to see the retirement age lowered to 50 or minimum wage raised to $20 an hour, universal public health care, or a 70% tax on income above $100,000 here in Sorosandia.

 

Money helps. No doubt about that. If you can get your message out it certainly is more effective. However in a day and age of twitter, blogs, and YouTube, it’s not just money that matters. It’s having a message that resonates with people…even if that message is the mentally retarded statements of “Yes we can” and “we are the ones we have been waiting for.”

 

But there’s a deeper problem than the common sense issue that money can’t buy everything in politics. It’s the implications of human nature.

 

Notice what is implicit in the argument that money is all that matters to democracy. Notice what is says if you believe that the person with the most money, not the better argument, always wins. It means that all people don’t have stupid and shortsighted moments, as I believe it means that people are incapable of rational thought. That they will follow the shiniest piece of polished metal provided by the person with the most money—that there is no rational thought, that no matter how extreme an idea, if it has money backing it, it will win. Ummm…if people are actually that dumb, then why do we have any democratic elements in our government? Democracy is based on the idea that the majority of the people, when put together will more often than not make the right choice, not because they believe the shiniest lie, but because reason will win the day with the majority of people more often than not. It is a premise based on the idea that a human being and human reason has value. If your argument is that money drives everything, then you must state you believe that humans on a whole have no ability to reason. Now is human reason perfect? Hell, no. That’s why we have always been a republic that limits the momentary whims of the masses and forces compromise and slow deliberation.

Now I will admit that human reason is not perfect, but taking money out of the equation will not solve the problem of imperfect reason being a driving force in our elections.

 

Now if you actually wanted a functioning democratic election, as the critics of Citizen United claim they want, what should they be arguing for?

 

Well, how about Voter ID check or clearing the voter rolls in every state every two years and making everyone re-register. You know to prevent fraud, and felons, and illegal immigrants from voting in mass numbers and making sure that the democratic principle of one man, one vote was actually allowed. As for making everyone re-register, if going down to the post office or going to a web site to pick up a form and sending it in is too much work for you, then dear God, you are not qualified to be deciding the future of this nation.

 

Or how about this one I know would never pass, but you would have to admit would get rid of the majority of influence of money in elections…require people to earn a high school diploma before they can vote. Okay liberals, get all the insults out now…I’m a racist, I’m a bigot, I’m closed minded, I don’t know anything about democracy, blah, blah, blah…I teach high school, I have been working in schools for nearly 16 years, and have been working consistently in alternative education with at risk youth for the last nine…do you have any idea how easy it is to get a high school diploma? Or a GED? I’m sorry but you seriously have to try to not pass high school. And I’m sorry given how much the income difference is between a high school diploma and having nothing, you’re an idiot’s idiot to not get a high school diploma. And when you put those two sentences together you realize that high school dropouts are actively trying to be an idiot’s idiot. I can’t imagine why I would want these losers voting. Ever. Under any circustances. I mean who do you think falls most easily for flashy ads, the person with a bare bones education or the person who actively tried to remain ignorant. And if voting is really that important to you, getting a GED is not that difficult—really it’s not. If we were to institute this, you would find pandering by politicians drop quite a bit, and low and behold you might see better legislation.

 

Or you might go back to what the Founders correctly envisioned for the Senate: State legislatures and governors working together to nominate and elect the most qualified in the state (as opposed to the most popular) to the upper house of Congress. It would completely eliminate money’s influence on Senators themselves…and if people are so worried about SuperPAC money influencing federal elections…right now to influence the Senate you have to influence maybe 40 statewide elections (I figure about 60 seats are safe Republican or safe Democratic seats) going back to pre 17th Amendment republican ideals you would have to influence the same 40 state wide elections but this time for governors, plus influencing one to two houses of the state legislature. Even the most well funded SuperPacs would go bust before being able to make a dent in the long term. But to do that you would actually want to try and take out the influence of money…instead of say, hypocritically just wanting your traditional sources of money to be the only ones that counted.

Or how about this one: Get the government out of the economy. If you placed legitimate restrictions on how far the government can get into the economy, then guess what, all those businesses and business people wouldn’t care about elections. As long as the government has the power to pick winners and losers, you’d be a bit of an idiot to not do everything in your power to make sure you’re not the loser…but if you got the government out of the economy you get rid of the incentive to be so involved in elections…at which point why would business waste their hard earned profits on silly things like elections.

But the people who bitch about Citizens United don’t care about any of that…they’re just unhappy that now other people have a chance to fight their endless union coffers.

***
One last note on a pragmatic side issue. I’ve heard that nearly a trillion dollars will be spent on the 2012 election (when you count all the elections at all levels). Given how crappy the Obama economy is (and yes it is his fault, if it wasn’t for him we’d be in a full recovery by now) I want you to think how bad it would be if you took out a trillion dollars. Yes that trillion is going to a limited sector in the advertising business…but those people who get the money then spend it on other things and it moves through the economy…I want you to imagine what the economy would look like if you took yet another trillion out of GDP. Just a pragmatic consideration to keep in mind.

 

 

*I would like to note that I know of no instances where the NSA has actually used their information against a private citizen, and of all the branches of government I’m actually less worried about them…but only so long as we have the First Amendment in place and the IRS stripped of all it’s powers…so long as those others restrictions are kept in place I have little to fear from the NSA…it is only if the other restrictions are removed that a government becomes fascist.

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Filed under Civil Liberties, Election 2014, Elections, First Amendment, Government is corrupt, Long Term Thinking, Natural Rights, People Are Stupid

AI, The Singularity, and other BS that ranks up with the Zombie Apocalypse

“It’s a machine[.] It doesn’t get pissed off. It doesn’t get happy, it doesn’t get sad, it doesn’t laugh at your jokes. It just runs programs.”

Like many overly specialized people, he knows his field very well, and knows little about anything else (even though he thinks he knows everything).

I tend to follow science news. I find it very interesting even though it’s not my particular forte primarily because any understanding of the free market can’t exist without an understanding of scientific and technological developments. For instance the increase of MERS, MRSA, the return of disease we thought we left generations ago and the end to the age of antibiotics may very well solve the problems of Social Security insolvency in exactly the way we wouldn’t want it to be solved. The rapid advances in 3D printing are likely going to end manufacturing as a major industry in a generation or two meaning that anyone making plans for the US to once again be a manufacturing superpower is just unspeakably clueless. The problem with this is that recently in the wake of movies like Her and Transcendence and Stephen Hawking’s recent laughably preposterous article about how thinking machines will kill us all there has been a slew of other articles warning of the coming singularity and the end of mankind.

This has sadly led me to the conclusion that scientists, for an awfully well educated and knowledgeable bunch, are surprising stupid. I mean I get why Hawking has led his current charge against God in trying to prove that God doesn’t exist…I think we all understand why Hawking would hate God so much he would have to lead a crusade against the idea of God. It’s not a rational crusade, but we all understand the motivations behind it.

So let’s lay out their case. Computers are getting faster and more complex all the time. They will continue to do so. They will continue to do so until we reach the point that a computer program reaches the point where it isn’t just a very well written program, but actual sentient artificial intelligence. At which point this self aware intelligence will have the ability to (A) improve itself faster than we could make improvement on it (B) replicate other AI’s like itself and (C) have a desire for self preservation…this pretty much means that Skynet here will kills us all. (It tells you a lot about the attitude of these scientists where they feel the jump from sentience to genocidal rampage is a logical progression).

Seriously, that’s the argument they’re making. In the last three months I have seen at least 2 articles a week in various usually respectable scientific forum.

But while the chicken littles fear the coming Matrix by our Terminator and Cylon overlords…I sit here and yawn knowing this is just as preposterous as Zombie Apocalypse, and as scientifically based as the delusion of global warming.

How do I know this?

If you’re afraid of this being a real issue ever you need to come back to reality.

Because, unlike a lot of these scientists (who seem to deal in fiction more than science) I’ve actually bothered to look at the evidence. You know like the numerous scientific studies on near death experiences or the 2,000+ tome  “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects”which details 225 cases on evidence of reincarnation based on the scars, birthmarks, and medical problems found in young children who accurately remember a past life (when you can get that detailed in your research, think about how much actual evidence there must be). Or the fact that while science has dissected and parsed the brain very well, they still can’t seem to find consciousness. And why can’t they find it? Because as the previous evidence suggest, consciousness, the thing they want to try and create in AI, isn’t in the mass of synapses in your head, but in your soul. The divine part of you that is may be using this sack of meat you call a body, is what gives you intelligence, a sense of self and identity. And that cannot be replicated in a CPU or lines of code. Ever.
It’s as simple as that. I don’t have to get into the complexities of the Chinese Room or the Frame Problem or the other such reasons why philosophers have already pointed out you’ll never have AI…without a soul it doesn’t matter how complex the computer system and code because consciousness does not reside in human being in a physical form, thus it cannot reside in a machine. You could recreate the entire human brain with each cell being represented by a functional quantum processor and connected in with all the synapses in exactly the same order as a functioning brain with the most brilliant code in the world…but even then it the computer, while amazing, will not be sentienet, as a famous movie put, “It doesn’t get pissed off. It doesn’t get happy, it doesn’t get sad, it doesn’t laugh at your jokes. It just runs programs.” And unless for some reason the Heavens decide to breath a soul into a machine (which I can’t even fathom such a reason) AI will remain a convenient tool of science fiction in helping us define exactly what it is to be human and nothing more.

But you know what, let’s take them at their own game, ignore that consciousness is a creation of the soul and not the synapse, for just a minute to show why this is preposterous. Let’s for the sake of argument say there is no soul and that the mind just a complex computer that can be replicated. Then by the same argument there must be thousands of planets out there with intelligent life (since life on Earth is nothing special and the odds of self replicating DNA become very likely—they have to be likely because if they’re unlikely we shouldn’t be here)—and certainly at least some of those races should have reached the technological singularity before we did (if we assume there numerous planet with intelligent life, it becomes statistically preposterous that we would be the first to reach this level). At which point the AI intelligence would have either destroyed the biological being which created it or come to some kind of coexistence. Either way, if you have AI, space travel becomes a given as the AI would have a greater propensity for long term thinking and would expand out to other planets in their own solar system and from there to any inhabitable planets in other spaces systems (the time and resources needed for interstellar travel which prevents humans from traveling to other stars would be irrelevant to thinking machines, you could easily launch thinking machines to other star systems with the machines needed to mine and build new machines and they could reach other planets in a 100 years which wouldn’t mean much to a machine). They would expand and expand and expand. And the entire galaxy would be filled with the radio signals of these computer AI’s communicating with each other (as the desire of any self conscious being is to learn)…and we certainly would have picked that up. Oh wait, there is nothing there, no sign of intelligent life anywhere be it biological or computer based. Which either means that we’re the first race in the galaxy that would get this close (unlikely if life on Earth is nothing special) or that these AI’s are so far from us that we haven’t picked up their signals (again unlikely in a galaxy of 400 billion stars that is only 120,000 light years across). If Hawking and the rest of the chicken littles are right about the nature of life and the singularity, the galaxy (hell the universe) should be filled with AI colonized worlds, each communicating with others to share knowledge. But there’s not even a trace of this. That seems statistically unlikely. I mean you have the argument that we might not pick up biological signals as it’s unlikely you have the mass colonies spreading across the galaxy with biological life—but all those argument go out the window with AI intelligence. But there is nothing there, and if the singularity is possible there should be. But reaching that point of deduction would require actual thought and not just hysterics.

I don’t about you but maybe the silence of the universe is because life is not so cheap and sentience so easy to create.

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Filed under Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid

Oh god, Ricky Santorum is back. Why?

Rick Santorum is like something to walk out of a Richard Condon novel. He claims to be a conservative, but then never misses a chance to praise his Marxist family members for people of principle. He claims to want to revitalize the economy, but advocates for trade barriers and economic models that are now a century out of date. He claims to be moral and horseeye santorumclearly cares only for himself and his own accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of others.   He is a walking version of liberal lies about conservatives. So when this man who views America as only a vessel for propagating religious extremism and collectivism came back into the lime light you can imagine the groan of exasperation I made.
Then I heard some of the unspeakably imbecilic things that Ricky actually started saying.

 

Let’s start with what is not his most egregious argument, but at least the one that hits the closest to home. This idiot is so delusional he claims that if he had won the nomination he would have won. So let’s just ignore the fact that Romney got the largest portion of general public of any Republican in the last few decades , let’s ignore that if Romney, a man who doesn’t have a racist or sexist bone in his body could fall victim to false claims of a bullying and a war on women that a lunatic who almost used the N word on film and who views women in such high regard that he said he would not allow his adult daughter have an abortion (because, in Ricky’s mind women are just property) would have been a very easy target. Let’s ignore that he with only 2 exceptions, the only states he won in the primary were open primary states where Democrats voted en masse to get the weakest candidate in. Let’s ignore that moderates loathed this man (and rightfully so).  No, Ricky says that Obama’s minions told him they were afraid of him and Rick is just dumb enough to have believed them…no Rick they loved you, they loved that you had no class, were willing to repeat any lie, smear any Republican, and drag your party down if you couldn’t get the White House.   You’re a Democrat’s dream. Ricky they wanted you as the candidate so badly I can only conclude they have something on you that would make you the easiest person in the universe to defeat…now my imagination goes to compromising photos of you and someone else, maybe in some way related to Ricky’s fashion sense, his constant flamboyant hand gestures, his clear overcompensation in the number of children he has, and the rampant homophobia (you know the kind that only comes from someone who has trouble admitting something)…but I don’t know for sure. That or they’ve spent five minutes looking at you put your foot in your mouth more than a drunken Joe Biden…either way, you are a liberal’s dream candidate. Completely un-electable, a stain on the Republican party with moderates, and even if by some act of Satan you actually got in then they would still have all their big government plans put into place by you.

 

 

But he continues to declare things like “Republicans needed to connect with Americans who did not like President Barack Obama during the 2012 election but could not bring themselves to vote for Mitt Romney.” Really Ricky? Who was that? I have never seen any statistical proof of all the voters that idiots like Levin claim to have stayed home…and of the people who voted for Obama even though if they were dissatisfied with his job, ignoring the fact that there are always people who give contradictory answers (when talking about Rick Santorum logic, you have to ignore a lot of facts), that would have switched the vote by only about 2%…and Obama still would have won. If you’re going to comment on things, Rick learn to read at any level because your gross ignorance of, well, everything under the sun is getting really old.

 

The fact of the matter is that only one thing exceeds Rick Santorum’s complete uselessness as a human being when it comes to understanding elections…and that would be his understanding of economics…which we’ll deal with over on Elementary Politics

 

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Filed under Economics, Election 2012, Elections, People Are Stupid, Problems with the GOP, Rick Santorum

Apologists and revisionists are beginning to annoy me…

It’s always a little sad when a publication or web site you otherwise respect and trust starts publishing drivel. Regrettably such was the case over at the RealClear websites when they published (not just linked, but published) an article preposterously entitled, “Religion didn’t kill science in the Middle East” And while I tend to just ignore most historical revisionism as something utterly not worth my time, this article not only justifies the anti-intellectual attitudes that run through the “religion of peace” but it completely dismisses historical truth.

The article does correctly point out that at a certain point in history—the article conveniently says between the 9th and 13th centuries (I’ll come back to these dates)—the Islamic world was the height of civilization in terms of science and mathematics. This was the era that saw the invention of Algebra, and advances in chemistry, medicine, and astronomy. Okay so far. Then the author goes onto to point out why Islam began falling behind: like most historical revisionists he blames the Crusades in the 11th century and Columbus in the 15th century (easy punching bags for every lightweight pseudo-intellectual hack) as things that hurt the Islamic world, it’s ability to trade (and with it the prosperity to allow a culture to indulge in scientific research). Ridiculously, Genghis Khan and the fact that you can’t put Arabic into a printing press are also blamed.

The problem with all of this – the reasons given for the decline of scientific research were was in fact in decline before a Crusader ever set foot in the Middle East. In fact if we look at Charles Murray’s book Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 we find that there is not a single major scientific advancement to come out of the Arabic world after 1025.* In fact we not only see scientific advancement disappear from the map but even art. Literature in the Islamic world goes from a massive output of quality work that still stands the test of time, to almost nothing past 1050**. As the First Crusade started in 1096 (and all the other points the author brought up occurred after that) I find it very hard to blame any of them for the death of intellectual output in the Muslim world which seemed to happen at least 50 years before that. It also seems to be very disingenuous of the author of the article to say the scientific achievements continued until the 13th century when really they died off in the 11th…it’s as if he picked a date that allowed him to blame the Crusades, to hell if it had no relation to facts.

Also if it was only the lack of prosperity and constant conflict that was the cause of the death of science in the Middle East…Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Qatar, are all rolling in cash and have been fairly stable (by standards of the region they’re incredibly stable) yet at best we’re seeing them use the resources of Western intellect instead of breaking new ground. Something seems to ring very false. And if the argument of the article is false, is Islam and it’s core teachings to blame?

So what really killed the science in the Islamic World? Well the answer to that can be found in one simple name: Aristotle. In the 750’s the Abbasid Caliphate took control of the Islamic Empire and with them came a branch of Sunni Islam called Mu’tazilism (don’t be too shocked you haven’t ever heard of them, they’re all dead). The Mu’tazilites were the branch of Islam that actually bothered to read the works of the Ancient Greeks when the Islamic armies conquered all the cities in their new Empire. And there they found Aristotle, a man who wrote about physics, psychology, politics, ethics, biology, metaphysics…who held reason and logic as the guiding light for all of human existence. Despite the fact that Islam was never too hot on reason*** the common sense nature of Aristotle won out with Mu’tazilites who decided that reason not blind unthinking faith needed to be the guiding light. And for a couple centuries they were guiding force of culture (or at least a force in the 10th and 11th century) that you saw the major output and advances in mathematics, science, literature, and art. However in 1063 (you know around the time when everything stopped), as stated in The Closing of the Muslim Mind by Robert R. Reilly,

“Nizam al-Mulk, the power vizier to Seljuk sultan Alp-Arslan, had the curses [against the Ash’arites] stopped.   According to British Islam scholar W. Montgomery Watt, al-Muk also ‘began to implement a policy of supporting and strengthening the Ash’arites against the other theological and legal schools.’”

Who are the Ash’arites? They’re pretty much the archenemies of the Mu’tazilites (you may not know the name Ash’arite, but you’re more than familiar with their attitudes). They believe in faith as the only guide and reason as merely hubris.

They believed in following the Koran without interpretation, just following what it said. Their most famous scholar al-Ghazali published a book The Incoherence of Philosophy which among other things set out to destroy the usefulness of reason at anytime in any place for any purpose. Sharia Law is a direct outgrowth of Ash’arite belief. As the Ash’areites

It is the presence of the ideas of these two that creates scientific and cultural prosperity…it their lack which causes stagnation. This is true not just in the Middle East, but the world over.

came into power they not only challenged the Mu’tazilites, they had them killed and their works burned. And low and behold when this belief came into power, the intellectual output of Islam just dried up over night. Amazing how when you deny reason the fruits of reason disappear. All the advancement that apologist like to talk about for the Golden Age of Islam came from the time when the Mu’tazilites, who downplayed religion, were in power.

So is religion to blame? Yes, yes it is. Because the fact is that while my sympathies will always be for the Mu’tazilites I can also admit they were terrible Muslims. A good portion of Mu’tazilite writing is trying to explain away the contradictions between reason and Koran. The Bible starts with a statement that God gave man dominion over Earth (thus it might be intelligent to know what goes on here), praises intellect, and implies that the reason and free will of God exists in the human soul. All of this matches up very well with Aristotle…which is why St. Thomas Aquinas found it so easy to graft Aristotle onto Christianity in the 1300’s (you know right before the time that science and research were coming back into style in Europe). The Mu’tazilites had to do everything but outright deny the Koran to prop up the common sense reason of Aristotle. The Koran dismisses reason, allows for no room for free will or even the laws of physics as everything occurs by the will of Allah (you roll your pen off the table, it falls, according to Ash’arties it fell not because of gravity because there is no such thing…it fell because Allah willed it to fall, the god of Ash’arism is the micro-manager to an infinite degree…things seem to fall at a constant rate of 32 feet per second per second not because of laws of physics, but because God is a creature of habit)… please go read The Closing of the Muslim Mind if you think this is just my interpretation. Right, wrong, or indifferent, religious liberty aside, Islam is a religion that at its core is dead set against the mind/reason/logic. Other religions are more ambivalent, you can find evidence supporting faith and evidence supporting reason, but no sides come out a winner, but in Islam, and especially the Ash’arite interpretation which is still in fashion, reason always loses to faith…in fact there isn’t even a contest.

And it should be noted that while other religions don’t make it as hard to work with it is the Aristotelean spirit that drives culture and science to thrive. Now it may be as the author argues in The Cave and the Light that it is the battle between Aristotle and Plato that drives civilization and that even when you have too much Aristotle things get a little stagnant…be in The Closing of the Muslim Mind, Human Accomplishment, The Cave and the Light or the recently released The History of the Renaissance World: From the rediscovery of Aristotle to the conquest of Constantinople if you are going to judge what drives civilization to improve it is Aristotle. And the RealClear article which tries to free Islam of blame by ignoring what caused the growth of the Islamic world and how it was religion that got rid of the works of Aristotle, is intellectually baseless, trying only to relieve the only religion liberalism actually likes of it’s participation in hurting the advancement of civilization.

*There is one major figure in the field of medicine from the 1200’s but I think it’s safe to say his work in medicine was due to the Crusades more than hurt by them.

**It should also be noted that until the modern era the vast majority of literature that came from the Islamic world came from Sufi writers. The charges I make against Islam later in the article almost never apply the Sufism which philosophically does little more than pay lip service to the core tenets of Islam.

***The problem is this. In Islam there is no story that God made man in his own image, in fact the Koran states that nothing can be compared to Allah (112:1-4) and if we lack in the image (usually interpreted to be will and intellect) in common what good are those things in us, and unlike the Bible which in the old Testament praises Solomon for his intellect and the Gospel of John states “In the beginning was Reason, and Reason was with God and Reason was God.” (yes, that’s a more correct translation than what you’re used to reading)…there are no such lines praising reason and logic in the Koran, only faith. Blind, unthinking, unquestioning faith.

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Filed under Aristotle, Books, Books for Conservatives, Evils of Liberalism, Individualism, People Are Stupid, Religion

Common Core, why I support it and you should too

 

Common Core State Standards.jpg

So it was pointed out to me that while I have repeatedly ripped apart the Anti-Common Core people showing their positions to be contradictory, baseless or just the worst in typical liberal/populist propaganda, I have never pointed out why I like the Common Core Standards. So here goes.

 

First let’s define what we mean. Common Core Standards (linked here) are a collection of standards drawn up by the National Governor’s Association (NGA). They cover reading, writing, and mathematics. They do not define what will be taught, what goes into textbooks, or do they create worksheets. It does not have anything to do with allocation of resources in the school or how teachers teach. There are some recommendations about how to make math a more pragmatic, real life application approach to math, but most of the complaints in the media have nothing to do with the Common Core math standards. These are based on the current administration and their education department interference – Race to the top.   These two different concepts should not be combined.

 

Before we get back to why I love the standards I can already tell I’ll have some objections to the above paragraph. But I heard Common Core was a federal take over…no you’re thinking of the White House’s Race to the Top program which like the list of the previous 60 years of federal education programs boils down to we’ll require schools to do random things (some stupid, some okay) and throw money at them. Race to the Top does require states to adopt Common Core, but no state is required to follow Race to the Top, just as no state has to adopt Common Core, and many states were getting ready to adopt Common Core before Obama even got into the White House. But I heard Common Core requires this or that stupid text book. No, those textbooks and those text book companies were always stupid. In fact studies have been done that the new text books that say “Common Core Compliant” are actually the pre-Common Core versions (word for word) with a new sticker slapped on. But on the news I saw this terrible worksheet a student had to do and they said it was Common Core. You must not watch the news much as those stupid worksheets have been around for decades before anyone thought of Common Core. But the teachers and school administrators are saying everything they’re doing is because of Common Core. Here’s a hint, most teachers and school administrators are either liars or incompetent (in many cases both)…there’s a reason we had to come up with bare minimum standards for them to follow, namely, they were too dumb to be trusted on their own. Repeat after me Common Core is properly only used to refer to the Common Core State Standards. It is not Race to the Top, it is not textbooks, it is not the behavior of teachers. It is only standards. They may call all these other things Common Core…but if you call a fish a bird it doesn’t mean that it’s a bird. The only thing that is actually Common Core is the Common Core State Standards. Everything else is not Common Core and you should berate anyone who says otherwise for their ignorance.

 

Okay back to the standards themselves.

 

Common Core is a set of standards created out of an initiative from the governor’s council.  It has two main parts Math Standards and English Language Standards (Reading and Writing).  Things like as a Student will be able to do X at Y grade level.

An example standard reads (this is for reading at the 11th and 12th grade level):

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7 Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry); evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)

That’s all it is as can be seen here http://www.corestandards.org . (Again please go read them).

 

It was meant to replace each state’s individual standards so there is more consistency and a higher standard throughout the US.  It also allows for states to use only one standardized test (which saves costs for the states as development costs are now shared for one test) and also allows for us to actually see which states are meeting requirements.  In most cases (but not all) the standards are higher than what the state had before.  Are the math standards high enough? No. But they’re higher than they were before in most cases and states, schools, teachers, and students can always go beyond the bare minimum of the standard.

 

Beyond suggestions of the kind of reading (as in primary sources, or analysis papers) and questioning to be done at each grade level there are no History, Government, Science or other kinds of standards.

 

There is almost no content requirements to be narrow on.  The only Common Core standards even remotely related to Social Studies and Science are the language ones that more or less boil down to “Read Primary Sources”.  It requires only a few works that HAVE to be read by students: They have to read something by Shakespeare, the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Gettysburg and I Have a Dream. That’s it. Other than that it’s pretty much open game for teacher selection so a bad teacher could still choose bad works to try and indoctrinate, but as the standards focus more on the higher level skills (Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis) if they’re actually teaching the standard then they should be teaching students how to question and analyze (after that it’s up to free will of the student).

 

Why do I think this is all a good idea?

Well first of all teachers are like most people. Most of them will do the minimum required of them. As the standards before Common Core were much lower in almost all the states…this at least means that the minimum they have to do will be higher. Some might complain that this will amount to teachers only teaching to the test…but that is a problem with the teacher not the standards or test. A bad teacher will always teach to the test because that is the minimum they can get away with…and if you don’t have a test it’s not like they’ll suddenly go in great teacher mode, no, they’ll show videos and talk about their feelings all day. Great teachers will have no problem with these standards as their teaching is probably already well above the minimum. (Oh, and to the recent string of whiny teachers who thought that anyone should give a shit about their screeds about how education was becoming nothing but testing…you have no one to blame but yourselves. Even if you were among the competent teachers, which I seriously doubt, you were among the teachers who were voting for unions and supporting them when they protected your inept colleagues. Teachers are to blame for not beginning to police their own long before this.) Standards/testing have always been around to determine if everyone is getting an average amount of data from the course – whatever that is – so this statement of teaching to the test is silly.

 

I like this because it is better economics. Not only in the fact that we’ll save overhead costs in not having to have 50 different state tests…but because this will lower a bar for people who have children. If standards are equal everywhere then you never have to worry about “but if we move to this state will Sally fall behind” greater mobility in geography will translate to greater economic prosperity everywhere.

 

When and if the standards are implemented even half-way competently you’ll have a justification to fire bad teachers who can’t even teach to the test to the minimum standards. Further this will be a fair basis by which we can judge which students need to be held back.

 

Further despite bizarre claims to the contrary, these standards are a great thing for school choice movement. These people are apparently not actually paying attention to one of the biggest problems with the school choice movement: bad schools. The central claim of the school choice movement is that bad schools will go out of business …but regrettably that implies that every parent wants their child to learn. Regrettably I can tell you that some parents just want their kid to get a diploma, or worse they’re just looking for a baby sitter…whether they learn anything isn’t even a concern. And thus schools with really low standards that won’t bother them with homework or parent-teacher calls or requests to meet to discuss Johnny’s progress are very popular with this group. And these excuses for schools give liberals ammunition against the entire school choice movement. And independent testing can help separate them…but testing alone won’t do it because you also need high standards. Why? Well there are some alternative schools that are set up to cater to students who have trouble—they look for the students who have flunked out of three or four schools already…as might be expected the pass rates on tests of these schools are rather low…but they did take a group that everyone else got 0% and in turn got 30% to pass…to only look at the pass rate is say that these schools took toxic waste, turned it into water and you want to complain they didn’t turn it into wine. High standards (and the school creating curriculum to match those standards) help differentiate these schools which are seeking to help the high risk student from the paper mills which just seek to give every student a diploma and collect their funding no matter what they learned. These standards will get the terrible schools out of the market and will strengthen the school choice movement as a whole.

 

And on a personal level I certainly won’t mind if elementary and middle School teachers are finally required to teach basic grammar so that I, in Senior English can actually focus on poetry and philosophy…and not, you know, my usual fair of “How to use a comma.”

 

Now the problem is that each state is implementing Common Core in a different way.  Some are adjusting their history and science standards, and some (usually the liberal ones) are adding PC blame America BS into the standards.  Also several companies that make teaching material, handouts, textbooks and such are also making liberal tripe and giving their product names like “Common Core History.” The implementation and the products which bear the name Common Core are in a lot of cases really dumb and should be opposed–Not because it is being called Common Core but it is bad regardless of what you call it.

 

I would compare this to trying to teach Shakespeare.  In the hands of bad teacher the high moral, hilarious comedy, and near libertarian critique of corrupt government could become a diatribe of trite feminism, bad psychoanalysis, and cheap Marxism…but it is the teacher not the Shakespeare that is to blame.  In the same way Common Core is perfectly fine…it’s the idiots trying to put it into practice that are the problem.

 

Let’s deal with a few pointed criticisms about the Standards themselves. Some critics claim that the standards aren’t high enough to get students into high end colleges…well no kidding, they’re minimum standards, they’re what every student should learn and every student isn’t going to MIT. Others, usually the same organizations that claim they’re not high enough…please make up your mind…but even if they’re still not high enough (and that is the case in some places) they are almost always well above the previous state standards and I know of no state that adopted Common Core that found their standards dropping.   Besides which you need to start at a basic minimum and then each year you can start raising the bar. This could go a long way to stopping the graduation of students who can not read, write or comprehend English or Math.

 

Some complain that the problem with the standards is that they were written in an undemocratic way without public feedback and comment at every level…yes because all the regulations we have from the government with that level of feedback are just so wonderful…and all documents that were composed without public comment (like the Declaration and Constitution, which the CCSS require students to read) are just so terrible and like Common Core should be abolished because of their anti-democratic methods of being created. Also private companies were hired to help write the standards…and as we are a good capitalist nation we hate private companies…wait, no.   The problem with this set of complaints is that it never actually asks if the standards are any good. They are. It doesn’t matter who wrote them or the process of them being written, unless you can point to me where the standards themselves are lacking this is just a demagogue tactic to whip up baseless hatred of the standards.

 

The Common Core reading list has books on it that are terrible! Yes the suggested reading list has some books on it that I would never teach. But here’s the thing, I don’t have to teach them. It’s an extensive list of suggested works that you don’t even have to follow. All it says is that the books are of the level we’re looking for at certain grade levels, when planning for your English course, try to have the books you pick to be on par with the ones listed here. Yeah the list does include some real tripe, but I hazard to think what any educational institution would have cut if they tried to make the list more restrictive…better to have the list be broad and then have parents judge the teacher’s by the books they pick (and if you don’t like the books get your kid a new teacher or new school) or a new book.   If you cut the list down to just Shakespeare and the other classics it might give truly inept teachers the appearance of knowing what they’re doing. Better to not restrict the freedom of teachers, and even suggest a few pieces of dung, and then you can easily spot the bad teachers by the ones who pick those worthless books.

common core

Yes just look at how terrible some of those suggestions are…clearly signs of how evil the Common Cores Standards are.

 

So to sum up. Just about everything you hear complaints about isn’t the actual Common Core standards. The Common Core standards themselves are fine and will, if implemented lead to some but not all of the reforms we need to make in education (while making some of those other reforms easier to implement).

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Filed under Common Core, Education, People Are Stupid, politics

Let’s deal in fact and reality: Race to the Top: Bad. Common Core: A Step in the Right Direction.

 

And people who do not get this distinction are idiots.

You know I am having a harder and harder time taking anyone in the media seriously these days. The entire left wing of the media keeps repeating bullshit that history and economics and common sense and experience have disproved a million times over. But now the right wing is getting equally stupid. Namely in the fact of their anti-Common Core crusade to insanity.
There are so many preposterous points I don’t where to start.

But let’s start with the oh so repeated line of “One size education doesn’t fit all.” It’s the idea that having standards will destroy any and all freedom in education. Bullshit. That’s the nicest I can treat that sentiment. Bullshit. You are an absolute idiot if you believe that having a minimum standard in any way, shape or form ruins a teacher’s ability to teach. Now initially as with any raising of the bar, teachers at the high grades will have trouble getting all the standards in because their lower grade counterparts never bothered to meet any standard and that will, for a few years take up a good deal of their time…but I fail to see how that will be any different from the present when I’m having to teach Seniors how to use a comma, who Julius Caesar was, or what a platypus is (these are not random things I thought of, these are all real moments from my high school Senior English course). Yes the transition might be difficult, but it will be worth it, because at the end of the transition student will be coming into my class knowing the basics and having the skill to discuss Shakespeare and Aristotle and allowing me to teach them how to analyze a paper (or better a news article or a politician’s) to find the truth rather than how to write a simple sentence. Please tell me how that restricts my freedom as a

Common Core State Standards.jpg

Common Core has been blamed for everything short of shooting Kennedy…and essentially all of the charges against it are without any basis in reality.

teacher? Further saying that a minimum standard impedes freedom is saying that your students have a right not to learn anything. No. There should a bare minimum in reading, writing and math that students know at certain grade levels. And nothing in the Common Core standards (please actually read them) is too far ahead of the abilities of an average student, even a below average student. Or do you think that
“Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic” is too much for a 4th grade student (if you do think that’s too much for that age, you clearly have never heard a child expound on the near graduate level knowledge they all seem to possess about dinosaurs). Or if you think that “Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100 (e.g., 30% of a quantity means 30/100 times the quan11tity); solve problems involving finding the whole, given a part and the percent” is too much for a 6th grader…then you clearly needed the Common Core standards when you were growing up because you never learned the basics of math. I’m sorry there is nothing in the Common Core standards that is too high for any grade level. In fact, before Jim DeMint sold the soul of the Heritage Foundation to populists, the Heritage Foundation’s complaint about Common Core wasn’t that it was too hard, or a one size fits all lie, or new math or anything like that…no back in early 2012 before Heritage’s education department became dependent on clueless pundits, Heritage complained that the standards weren’t high enough (which is still an invalid complaint because the standards are higher than what most states had before).  You can’t complain that standards aren’t high enough but that standards are bad for education at the same time without being a hypocrite…and DeMint’s Heritage (which still has not sold out on economic and foreign policy, but is beginning to lack everywhere else) is just that.

Having standards sets the lower end but any teacher is allowed and encouraged to go beyond that minimum bar in any way they feel best. Granted to meet and exceed this minimum bar we will need better teachers across the board, but we had to start somewhere because to have good teachers you need a minimum standard to judge them by, and to have a minimum standard you need good teachers. So either we could get into an endless chicken and the egg debate of which we should do first, or we could just pick on, which we did.
Then of course there are the media outlets, like the Daily Caller which quoted a study as showing that Common Core doesn’t work:

The study, conducted by the Brookings Institution, compared standardized test scores for all 50 states over the last five years. It found that states using education standards that are most dissimilar to Common Core tended to score the highest on math.

Actually the report was (A) talking about how far the state standards were from Common Core in 2009 and how they were doing now, and (B) the states with 2009 standards least like CCSS showed the most improvement over the 4 years since switching over…which would suggest that switching led to better growth. But, even that is going to far as the study actually said:

Table 3-2 reveals no systematic relationship between the states’ MSU ratings and changes in NAEP from 2009–2013. Indeed, states with standards most different from the CCSS (rated 1) gained the most on NAEP (2.25). States with standards most like the CCSS scored the next largest gains (1.94);

The report also makes the statement (in big bold letters):

States that more aggressively implemented the CCSS registered larger gains from 2009–2013.

But again, I won’t claim that this report highly endorses Common Core. It doesn’t. It claims that with very little data on hand only a minimal amount of growth can be shown or even expected. It further questions if this growth is worth all the money and effort going into putting Common Core into place. It however does not say what the Daily Caller claims. And I’ll admit that this is a high cost for minimal gains…at first. But this is the first step in having real across the board minimum standards to actually preventing students from falling behind. This is the first step of many that need to occur, the first step to culling bad teachers and bad schools from the system. The first step to making sure students are held back to ensure they understand before being promoted to the next level. The gains we see from this one single step are minimal, but they are an investment on a system of reform that will pay vast dividends. And when your opposition, as the Daily Caller as clearly put itself in the Anti-Common Core camp, has to blatantly lie about a study showed to make it’s point, you have to question whether or not the anti-Common Core line has any validity.
Oh but then there’s the new math. Common Core is teaching new math and that’s terrible (but remember thinking one size fits all is also terrible, so if you’re utterly confused on the exactly what the anti-Common Core people are arguing for, don’t worry, that only means you have a brain). So let’s first forget that there have been new math programs for decades and that this is nothing new. Let’s also forget that Common Core is just standards and does not require any of this. Now like a good anti-Common Core person we’ve forgotten reality let’s deal with the evil Common Core Math.

Now with most of the examples you see on the internet they’ll show you one worksheet where you can’t see if there were more worksheets that explained it in greater detail, or even what publisher they’re from. I’ll wager most of these evil worksheets are from minor text book publishers or that their idiocy predates Common Core…
But I was happy to see one worksheet that’s making the rounds that actually does have a copyright in the corner. The anti-Common Core people made a mistake in including the copyright information in the corner because it shows them to be a bunch of idiots and liars.

Math Coach CornerNow initially looking at this sheet you’d think someone had just gone insane and why can’t we just go back to the old way of learning math. However, if you type the name Donna Boucher (which who copyrighted this) into a search-engine you come up with her website Math Coach’s Corner where you find that worksheets like the one you see there are probably not meant as a first round of teaching but designed to help students find alternate avenues to doing the same problems if the traditional approach doesn’t work—because as the anti-Common Core folk like to correctly state one size fits all does not work for everyone, but strangely when you try not to go with one size fits all methods you get yelled at, because the hypocrisy of the anit-Common Core bunch knows no bounds. Pick a side anti-Common Core people. Now if a teacher started with Boucher’s methods that would probably be foolish, but as there is no context for the worksheet as it is shown on any site I’ve seen it on, nor any of the background of the lesson showing how to use it there is no way to tell if this is a teacher doing this on the first go around or merely showing their students another way of doing things. Further, ever since the day I taught in a lecture on Romantic poets that “The Romantic poets of early 1800’s England viewed the character of Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost as a heroic figure” and then got accused by a parent the next day of “teaching students to worship the Devil,” I tend to take parent’s statements that no other information was offered with just a grain of salt. I’m sure there are idiot teachers out teaching math incorrectly, (but that has nothing to do with Common Core), there always have been, however I’m also sure that there are teachers out there that are using things like Boucher’s worksheets because they understand ‘not one size fits all’ and are trying to expose their students to different ways of doing things. Without context it’s hard to tell when and where this worksheet was used and if it was done in the correct context or an incorrect one. But any way you want to look at it, Common Core isn’t to blame. So just because a worksheet doesn’t seem to make much sense remember there are probably more worksheets that explain things, and there was probably a lesson to go with it.
I would also point out that some of these new math worksheets have made me going “Oh, thank God, I thought I was the only one who did it in their head that way!” While a few other of these ways that I have seen on videos get explained so fast you’re not sure if you’re watching an Abbott and Costello routine…but when I’ve listened to them I find myself thinking, “That’s genius!”* Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s bad. The proof will be if it actually helps students. Yeah, there are some dumb methods out there too, and quite a few of these worksheets I can’t figure out what they’re getting at. But NONE OF THIS IS REQUIRED BY COMMON CORE and some of it may be simply be a lack of context.

Then of course there are all the complaints about the fact that textbooks have been changed to meet Common Core and thus they now have terrible information. But if you actually read the standards or the very limited material that has actually been put out by the people who actually wrote the standards, the incorrect stuff doesn’t appear anywhere in the real standards. I suspect that it’s more likely the anti-common core bunch found a few idiotic textbooks and are claiming that it is representative of all of common core because Common Core has made them so terrible. Also fun fact. All those common core textbooks you hate? Did you know that a study was done comparing those new textbooks to the old pre-Common Core textbooks. Guess what, the textbook publishers just took the old textbooks and slapped Common Core stickers on it. They’re the same—same text, same problems, same answers, same process. Why didn’t you complain about them before since there was no difference? Oh that’s right, you don’t really care about education, you were just told to hate this by some pundit and dutifully and blindly followed.

Then of course there is the problem that a lot of things that are actually part of Obama’s idiotic Race to the Top program are being called Common Core. People will say “Well this teacher, or that union, or such and such school board said that this terrible plan was part of Common Core.” So? What do I care what idiots say. Morons say that the Constitution says that guns aren’t an individual right…but amazingly I don’t listen to morons I actually go and read the Constitution and see that no, the 2nd Amendment clearly states it as a “right of the people.” With Common Core I don’t care what the morons say is Common Core, I have a brain and can actually go and read the Common Core Standards and see, nope that idiocy isn’t there. And if I were talking to those teachers/unions/schools I would chide them for their complete and utter inability to read and point out that this is why we need the standards so we can see who doesn’t meet the standards as teachers…and then fire them. If you play their game here that all these things that have nothing to do with Common Core are Common Core just because idiots believe it’s Common Core, then you have to agree that Obamacare is Constitutional because 5 corrupts pieces of scum in black robes said it was when it isn’t, or that when Obama says he supports capitalism you have to agree to that because most of the country was dumb enough to buy it. You can play that game. I’ll be over here in reality where word have meaning and facts are things you should go by.

I could go on about how I am really bothered by the liberal/populist/socialist argument that because big business was involved thus it must be evil permeates every anti-Common Core debate…or how parents never seem to be complaining that schools (or parents) aren’t teaching  children how to learn from failure or how to pick themselves up, only that “Common Core made my halfwit child cry!” (Okay maybe I added the halfwit part, but it’s accurate.) I could go on on all of these things, but they all come back to there has yet to be a single valid critique of the actual Common Core standards.

And this all culminates in the problem that I’m now having trouble taking just about any problem aside from the ones I already know about seriously (the economy and foreign policy) because I just can’t trust that anyone is doing even the slightest amount of research.

*If anyone wants me to I’ll go over the video I’m thinking about and showing how the math process they show as being terrible is actually quite ingenious…however this blog was getting long as it is.

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Filed under Common Core, Education, People Are Stupid, Problems with the GOP

I’m getting tired of some of the populists out there who claim to be conservatives…

In a recent article on Brietbart:

‘Renee Ellmers Thinks For Herself’: Rep. Calls Ingraham ‘Ignorant’ In Pro-Amnesty Meltdown

There are several very bizarre things.

1. Is this bullshit that all reform is amnesty?  The Republican principles are quite clear that they will not be amnesty.  If you can read you can see that…clearly most of the media and 100% of talking heads are effectively illiterate as they seem to miss this point.

 

2.  From the headline you’d think that it was pro-reform Ellmers who had a breakdown when to anyone with two good ears it was obviously Ingraham who got overly emotional about the issue from the get go and started responding irrationally.  The hack who wrote up this article was quite stupid to include the audio as his attack of Ellmers was as unjustified as Ingraham’s points.

 

Heritageimmigration

Keep in my by Laura Ingraham’s logic…Heritage is a liberal organization in line with La Raza because they said the system is broken. Now I am having some issues with Heritage’s social and education issues…but I wouldn’t go as far as to say they’re liberal.

3. Ellmers was attacked for saying we have a broken system, which Ingraham took offense to because that is something La Raza and liberals say.  Millions of people and drugs coming over an unprotected border no matter who is in control, huge welfare payments to illegals, public services being ruined because of exploitation by illegals, no effective way of dealing with this in the short term…you know I don’t care if La Raza and Chuck Schumer or even Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler and Satan were the ones who first said the words “broken system”…it’s a broken system, just because the opposition also uses the term doesn’t change the fact that it’s broken.

It’s broken.  This is a fact.  If it were any more broken we’d have to call it Obamacare.

 

I’m really convinced that Laura Ingraham doesn’t have the first clue what the free market is.

 

4.  Ingraham starts going off that businesses just need to start providing a living wage if they want to attract workers…remind me again exactly who sounds like a liberal here.

 

5.  Ingraham says it’s terrible that businesses are being driven out of existence because illegals are offering the same service for less money…and that anyone who doesn’t support her side of deport them all is against the free market.  So being for undercutting your competition is against the free market…wait, what?  The fact that people who are willing to work for less get the job isn’t conceding that the free market doesn’t work it’s 100% proof that it does.  The free market has no bias to where you’re from or how you got here, it only cares about what you do and what you’re willing to pay or work for.  Yes they broke the law to get here, and yes a functioning free market requires rule of law in terms of property rights and contract law…but the laws being broken here are not the laws specifically tied to the idea of the free market Laura.
6.  Also apparently according to Ingraham the government is there to ensure that higher wages are paid.  And this is from a Tea Party person…and to think I claim the Tea Party has ceased being conservative and is now 100% a populist movement.

 

7. Ingraham also seems fairly pissed off about the idea that Americans are lazy, and that to say this is somehow un-American.  Laura, the vast majority of the country either sat at home or voted for Obama.  Ispo facto.  Americans are lazy.  At least some of them are.  To deny this is just preposterous.
Its great Laura your mom was a hard-working blue collar worker who did low paying jobs to get you through life.  Just because your mom exists doesn’t mean that everyone in the nation has a strong work ethics.  They don’t.  This is also a fact.

Further the problem isn’t the illegals who want to work.  For decades, hell generations, no one cared about people coming up from Latin America (legally or illegally), working and earning money.  That was the free market and for the most part everybody loved it because everyone benefitted.

The problem is not the illegals who want to work.  It’s the ones who bring their kids to get educated and families to get food stamps and medical care on our tax dime.

I’m sorry but if you want to deal with this real problem then you have to do a few things.

(A)  You have to build a way to keep new illegals from getting into the country…oh, look, that would be the first part of the plan that Boehner, Paul Ryan, Renee Ellmers are actually proposing…too bad Laura that in your mob mentality you were ignorant of this fact.

(B)  Then you would have to reform the immigration code to reward people coming here who want to work and who have the skills to work.  Again that is part of the Republican plan that any non-ignorant person would know…obviously not Ingraham.

(C)  You would then have to deal with the illegals who are here…and that leaves a few options…Deport them all at astronomical cost, which the Republicans being the fiscally sane party are not for… or amnesty, Reagan tried that because he still thought that all illegals were the kind that just wanted to work, experience has shown that doesn’t work and that’s why the Republican plan doesn’t include amnesty (and to claim it does isn’t just ignorance, it’s an out and out lie)…or the Republican plan fines them and lays huge restrictions on them if they want to stay, deport the relatively small amount that don’t want to take this option, and never allow those who came here illegally to have citizenship if they don’t want to go to the back of the line and start the way everyone else has to.

Anyone with a brain can see that the Republican plan is exactly what we need.  Yes we need to work out the details. But just saying that nothing needs to be fixed by denying that the system is broken is foolishness and idiocy.  And I am getting tired of this very kind of idiotic populism that seems to have infected so many supposedly conservative pundits and voters.

 

 

 

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Filed under Conservative, Economics, Illegal Immigration, Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid

Economics 101: Opportunity Costs and the GOP

 

 

One of the basics of economics is the idea of opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the idea that you have 5 dollars and you can buy a latte at Starbuck or you can buy 5 widgets (because as an economics example there is an unspoken rule that I must include the selling of widgets).  But you can’t have both.  Now for most of us the latte will be a better investment because no one has ever figured out what you can do with a widget.  But you have to lose the opportunity to buy one when you but the other.

You can save money or you can spend money but you can’t do both with the same dollar.

You can invest in  all your money in Company A or you can invest all you money in  Company B, or you can split your money between the two, but you can’t give all your money to both companies.

The idea in economics is that whenever you move resources to one thing (be it time, money, capital or people) that same resource can’t be used somewhere else. So you have lost the opportunity to spend that resource on the other thing…preferably because where you did spend money was a better choice.

Why do I bring this up?

Because we have a limited amount of time to talk to voters. People tune you out after a while.   So in that limited amount of time you can only discuss a certain number of things.

Logically we would want to discuss the issues that will most likely convince voters to vote for us, that will most change the nation for the better, and have will affect the most number of people.

But regrettably many Republicans are anything but logical.

Think about it.  Of these options which one does your average Republican choose to argue?

You can bitch about Common Core or you could actually push for the elimination of the federal Department of Education.  The latter might actually improve education.

You talk about gay marriage or you can could actually push to end the incentives against marriage in entitlement programs.   The latter might actually increase marriage rates, reduce poverty and increase social stability.  The former will just allow liberals to make you look like an ass to moderates.

You could talk about abortion or you could talk about the economy and actually win an election.

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Why do Republican always pick the snatch defeat from the jaws of victory option that leaves me like this?

 

You can whine about RINOs or you can attack Democrats.  A RINO from a purple district/state still gets us control of the House and/or Senate.  A RINO will vote with us some of the time, a Democrat will not.

You call things that aren’t amnesty, amnesty and hurt your own party or you can push for any effort to secure the border.

 

You can whine about “Oh but we always give, and we need to take a stand now even if that stand will mean shooting ourselves in the foot” or you could be a sane person and learn from the past (as opposed to living in it)…and the past teaches me to pick and fight my battle, not run away from every battle or fight every battle (both extremes are dumb)

Oh, for libertarians:

You can whine about the drug war’s ineffectiveness or you could secure the border.  Hmmm which one will benefit country more?  Let me think.

The fact is that this is a party that time and time and time again want to “take a stand on principle” even where there are other issues that defend the very principle they care about and when they have a choice they will either divide their time between the unimportant stuff and the relevant stuff or they will focus almost entirely on the issues that won’t win, won’t work, and won’t help anyone.

Please Republicans, get your act together.   And I’m not talking just about the politicians and the pundits, I’m talking about the rank and file reading this.  How often do you waste a chance to win someone with an argument that might work  and doesn’t violate a single one of your principles because you have some pet issue. I hate to tell you winning votes isn’t about your pet issue, it’s about the pet issues of the person you’re trying to convince…unless you can adapt to that reality don’t get into politics.

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Filed under Economics, GOP, People Are Stupid, Problems with the GOP

Real Change in Education: Part I

 

There is a lot of brouhaha over Common Core right now. Education Personally I am tired of idiots blaming every stupid Obama Administration policy, every idiotic Dept. of Education directive, every factually incorrect statement made by a book publisher, and every dumbass move by an individual state on the Common Core.  The Common Core is minimum standards dealing with math, reading and writing and a nation wide test that comes with those standards.  Is it as high as we really need?  No, but it is higher than what most states used to have. …but guess what, any state that adopts Common Core can put in standards that exceed it.  Also the Common Core standards were a state pushed initiative, not a federal one, so stop saying this is overreach by the federal government—it isn’t.

We are conservatives, we’re supposed to be the informed and educated people…but if we keep stupidly blaming things that have nothing to do with the Common Core on the Common Core then we appear uninformed.

This link above goes to the actual Common Core standard.  Read them before you attack them. 

We don’t blame science because liberals shout their BS religion of global warming.

We don’t blame the Constitution for the fact that liberals violate our rights in the name of the Constitution.

Common Core State Standards.jpg

Common Core Standards are good..the problem is that any idiot publisher can put the words “Common Core aligned”

Then why should we blame the Common Core standards, read them there is nothing wrong in them because some idiot liberal states are doing a lot of things that aren’t in the Common Core (but using its name).

The standards are fine.  Read them and tell me if you find anything objectionable…it’s certain that liberal states and the way they’re implementing them/adding to them that is the problem.

If we don’t attack the right thing, if we don’t understand who the enemy is, then we won’t win.

But since some people need to attack something in education let me suggest 9 other things we could focus on that would actually lead to better schools.

 

1.Get Rid of Useless Professional Development

Tied to a lot of complaints about Common Core is the whining about it will cause teachers to teach to the test.  This (A) assume that one on can only teach the standards and nothing else and (B) that teachers can only teach in one way.  In reality there is a simple truth—Bad teachers will only ever teach to the test, good teachers will always teach what is on the test and go beyond. The reason you have standards is that you’re trying to limit the damage done by bad teachers.  I know everyone likes to point out all the terrible points of No Child Left Behind (and there are many) but the fact is that putting in testing put in a lower bar that even bad teachers had to meet.  This was a great thing because you at least had a standard, any standard, in some parts of the country finally and not just bad teachers skating students without any concern for whether or not they learn anything.  And teaching to the test is teaching the minimum standards which is what we want if the standards are high enough.  Tests are supposed to reflect the items learned – duh!

If you actually want teachers to not teach to the test then get better teachers, don’t get rid of the test.

And how do you get better teachers?  Well the first thing you need to do is get rid of the things that drive good teachers out.

One of those things is professional development.  What is professional development, you ask?  Standards vary from state to state, but professional development is a requirement that to keep your teaching credential you have to take so many hours of professional development or courses so that you can continue to improve as a teacher.  It sounds like a good idea, that teachers should continue to refine their craft.  But while it sounds really nice, it isn’t.  What it turns into is taking state approved courses on teaching strategies that no competent teacher would ever use or lectures on information that has no discernable use in education.

For instance I had to take a two week professional development course last year on “Structured English Immersion” to keep my Arizona teaching credential.  Structured English Immersion is fancy teacher speak for “how to teach English to kids who don’t speak English.”  It cost me several hundred dollars to take this course.  I teach high school and not a single thing discussed in this waste of my time and money could ever even theoretically be used in a high school course. Professional development is supposedly there so we can learn the most up to date research on child development and teaching practices…but strangely enough the most recent study listed in the course material was published during the Bush Administration (no…I don’t mean W.). Yeah real cutting edge right there.  Not to mention the entire tone of the course was that you have to coddle children who don’t speak English and not encourage them to actually learn English, speak in English, read English and use English in every aspect of their life (you know, what actually works).

All other professional development is like this.  For instance I’m also going to have to take a few college courses between now and then (again out of pocket) to keep my credential up.  Now while I’m going to try and pick courses that relate to my field, most teachers pick college courses that relate to Education…Education courses are a lot like the above described Structured English Immersion…outdated bullshit that will never help you reach students.

And we charge teachers for this…because teachers make so much money that they can just easily drop money on things like this without any worry.

Or maybe a lot of good teachers realize they can get jobs in other fields that don’t attempt to fleece them at every turn (you don’t want to see my fees that I also have to pay to keep up my teaching credential).

But, some schools pay for their teacher’s professional development, so it’s not like every teacher is getting fleeced (they’re just losing time).  A lot of public schools have in-service days every year to ensure their teachers get their hours.  On average they’ll hold about 5 of these days a year…now let’s say your school of 700 students has 20 teachers, each teacher making $52,000 a year on average (over the course of about 190 contract days, or about $273.68 a day), so to have those teachers take out 5 days out of the year for this sort of in-service professional development costs the taxpayer $27,368.42 a year for a school of only 20 teachers (plus of course the costs of time it took to set this up, to bring in someone to do the training or have a teacher trained to do the training, and the costs that administrators will also participate in this stuff…so let’s round it up to $30,000).  $30K a year for each school in America paid with taxpayer dollars (2009/2010 – 98,817 total public schools = $2,964,510) wasted on irrelevant information that won’t help you be a better teacher.

How about this, let’s just require every teacher to get a subscription to the Journal of Higher Education and Kaplan which will actually keep them abreast of research in education and save about $29,000 a year by not having this bullshit.

The fact is this is a scam.  It’s a scam for states to make money off approving the courses, off of charging teachers over and over again, for the colleges that make money after forcing teachers to participate.  In all my years teaching I have had nearly a month of my life taken up in professional development…not one iota of it was worth a damn.  Teachers get better by teaching, by observing other teachers, by talking with their colleagues and by self-reflection.  THEY DO NOT LEARN BY SITTING IN STUPID COURSES HEARING OUTDATED MATERIAL THAT IS NOT RELEVANT TO THEM.  This is a scam for states and colleges to make money and nothing more.  It wastes taxpayer money and drives out competent people from the field who have better things to do than deal with this stupidity.*

 

2.  Fire Administration.

Administrators are something that schools tend to pile on.  Superintendents. Assistant Superintendents.  Principals.  Vice Principals. Deans. Counselors.  This list could go on for a very long time.  In fact since 1970 non-teaching staff has grown by 138% while student enrollments have grown only by about 8%.  Any test standard you want to look at for quality of education has remained about the same in that time.  So all those paper pushers seem to do nothing…but they do get paid. And if you think teachers getting paid 52K a year is high, you should see what administrator’s charge.

I think it is safe to say that 90% of school administrators and non-teaching staff are there only to fill out federal/state/local red tape.  Get rid of the red tape and get rid of most of the administrators.  They serve no real purpose.  And the few that do serve a purpose are grossly overpaid.

And more often than not they serve as a hindrance to good teachers rather than help.  The fewer administrators you have I promise you, you will see an improvement in the quality of education.

At the very least the next time your local school tries to pass a bond or tax ask them how many administrators have been axed and how many have taken major pay cuts.  If everyone doesn’t fall into one of those categories then vote anything they want down until they make serious cuts of useless people.  Do it for the children.

 

3.  Hold Back Students Who Aren’t Making the Grade

This year Arizona is making a lot of news by saying they are probably going to hold back a whole 1,500 third graders who aren’t ready to move onto 4th grade. 

Lots of people are whining about how this hurts the poor students who are already struggling…What people should be bitching about is that we’re not holding students back in grades K-2 and 4-11 as well—and in all 50 states and all U.S. territories.  If children don’t understand something they need to be held back in the grade they were having problems in until they get the needed understanding.  I don’t care about complaints of self-esteem…trust me students will feel much better about themselves if they aren’t constantly behind and constantly feeling like they’re too stupid to get it.  And holding them back a grade can help in preventing this.  Not everyone progresses at the same rate mentally and some students (a lot of them in fact) need to be held back.

And the added bonus is that teachers in higher grades will now no longer be wasting time going over concepts from previous grades because half the class should have been held back at some point or having to waste half their day on the kid who should have been held back two or three times.  This means all the students will get more out of every single course.

Coming tomorrow suggestions 4-6

 

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Filed under Capitalism, Conservative, Constitution, Education, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid, politics

GOP, Let’s ask what worked and what didn’t…

Do you ever wonder…

If Republicans would spend as much energy and time on attacking Democrats as they do their own party, if they might actually get somewhere?

So the last couple of weeks have once again revealed that the Republican Party’s perpetual need to shoot itself in the foot.   This of course is a side effect of who is in the Republican Party.  Unlike the Democrats (and people who voted Santorum, and Paulbots) most Republicans (both the conservatives and libertarians in the party) tend to be free thinkers…which means we don’t march lock step with the commands of the party and/or our chosen savior to blindly follow.  Unfortunately, while usually a good thing, this does lead to a little bit of a problem when trying to organize. We are all going our separate ways while our opposition, while idiotic and wrong, marches to the beat of a single drummer and provides a single, constant, well defended wall that we cannot break by not working together.

Does this mean that we should all just march lockstep just like they do?  No.  But it does mean we should try to think more long term than they do and work toward our long term goals rather than doing what feels good at the moment.

The shutdown is a good example. We should have never made this about Obamacare because even just a bit of forethought would tell us that if we did that then the only way to win was to hold a shutdown all the way through until the new congress is sworn in in 2015 (because we know damn well that Obama and Reid are too damn stupid to admit that their law is a horrific nightmare), and this only works if (A) Republicans hold firm (which we know isn’t going to happen) and (B) that the American people see that it’s the Democrats who are at fault and the House is doing what it’s supposed to in using the power of the purse (these are the people who voted for Obama, do you really think they’re going to see that?).  If we want to get rid of Obamacare then the first, thing we need to do is get rid of the Senate.  Nothing happens until then.  Nothing.  But we had short sighted fools going their own way saying we can stop this here and now (exactly how when we don’t hold the Senate, White House or Supreme Court is a bit beyond me… I actually saw a conservative commentator complain that the GOP is giving in even though the GOP “is in a stronger position than it was during the partial government shutdown in 1995/96.”  Yes right now with control of one house we’re in such a better position than in 1995/96 when we controlled both the House and the Senate and had Dick Morris screaming in the White House to give into the GOP.  We’re in such a stronger position now than we were then.  (What the hell are some conservative pundits smoking?)

But no, some genius thought that Obamacare was the line in the sand to draw—to hell if Ryan’s work on saving the budget would actually lead to more long term good, to hell that letting Obamacare go forward would be its own worst enemy, no let’s draw a line in the sand on this silly item.  So we shut down everything over Obamacare, and thus we killed all our other options.  Good call.  But once we were in the shutdown we should have not budged an inch.  Yeah getting there was dumb, but, a lot like getting your girlfriend pregnant, it may have been a series of shortsighted choices that got you into this situation, but now for the sake of intelligence and character you only have one option.  Did we hold firm? No.  Why?  Because again we can’t hold a united front.   When we were holding firm we had people insulting Republicans that they were RINOs and were going to get primaries out (so if you’re a Republican who really does believe that you will hold the line better than the Democrat who would trounce your Tea Party replacement, if you really believe that you’re doing what is best for the country you have to make a deal to ensure you keep your seat and that a Democrat doesn’t take it…not saying everyone was this noble but I’m sure one or two were).

Then we were even more stupid.  We had Republicans vote for the damn compromise (that gave us nothing).  This I don’t quite understand. It could pass the Senate without a single Republican vote, and it could pass the House with only a few Republicans voting for it (or just staying home and not voting at all).  Did we organize anything like this to at least be able to say that ‘We did not vote for this crap, this is the Democrats and all the Democrats.”  Nope, we didn’t even organize that well.

And as I hinted above, it’s not just the elected officials.  We attack our own, shout everyone down as RINOs at the drop of a hat.   Now some will say that I’m attacking the Tea Party…actually I’m only attacking part of it.  I’m beginning to notice there are two parts to the Tea Party. One is the “let’s shrink government in power, size and expenditure” let’s call this the Values Tea Party…then there seems to a second side, the “Everyone who does not agree with me 100% is a goddamn RINO and must be purged from the party.”  Let’s call this the Ideological Tea Party.  One side wants to win and is willing to make logical concessions if they need to but is just tired of the GOP ALWAYS making concessions even when they don’t need to…the other side wants the goddamn Spanish Inquisition (which I really wasn’t expecting) and purge all non-believers from the ranks of the Republican party (of course as it’s a constantly shifting set of values it’s hard to say what is and isn’t real conservatism to these people…but if you don’t perform a miracle right now and end Obamacare, overturn a hundred years of bad court decisions, revoke 200 years of bad executive decisions, clean the tax code, impeach Obama, destroy all terrorists, and turn water into wine you won’t vote for them…and anything short must be because you’re a filthy RINO and not, oh I don’t know, because you’re only in control of one half of one branch of the government.)

What I think some people don’t realize is that we need Republicans from all parts of the country to win (even blue states) which means that those Republicans have to be more moderate than say a Republican from a completely red state.  There are Republicans who are moderate on some things (mainly social issues).  There are Republicans who come from very blue states but believe they should honor their constituents beliefs on certain things (I don’t particularly like people who feel this way, but I find the people who bitch the most about these Republicans are the same ones who use “the will of the people” as justification for why legislatures should do this or that…pick one and only one, should legislatures use their own judgment (a republic) or should they be beholden to the will of the people (a democracy).

Goldwater Reagan Buckley RINO

RINOs as defined by some in the Tea Party right now.

By the standards that the pundits are now setting up William F. Buckley Jr., Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater would be considered RINOS (let me remind you that Reagan as governor passed more liberal laws than Romney, for much the same reason, because he was dealing with a very liberal legislature, and as president he cut LOTS of deals with the Democrats).

Do you think perhaps, that as a voting block we’re beginning to get a little strange?

Yes there are few very legitimate RINOs who will sell the party out at the drop of a hat.  McCain, Graham, Christie.  I’m probably forgetting a couple more.  BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF GOP actually do believe in what they are doing, they may be wrong in that belief, they might get a better deal if they held out, but just because they are wrong in a tactical belief doesn’t make them liberal.

Establishment vs Tea Party

This picture should not even exist. We have bigger problems, namely liberals. Until they’re gone we should not be attacking each other.

So first off to anyone talking about putting up a primary challenger to any Republican they disagree with I want you to ask two questions.

First.

Will the Tea Party candidate you’re supporting win in an election against the Democratic challenger in that state/district?

And you need to be very, very honest here.  I liked Sharon Angel and Christie O’Donnell…but they were bad calls for Nevada and Delaware…and if you don’t think it would have been better to run a more moderate Republican and remove Harry Reid from office, you’re crazy.  Absolutely crazy.  This is the old Buckley Rule: Vote for the most conservative candidate who can win.  Because even the most moderate Republican is better than scum that is Harry Reid.

Now this may not be enough.  Because let’s be honest there are scum that jump ship when the Senate gets to that 50/50 mark.  And again you need to be honest here when you ask:

Will this the elected official you’re trying to get rid of jump ship if given a chance?

For people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, yeah vote them out.  They’ll backstab the Republican Party every chance they get and will switch to Democrats if they’re offered enough if the it ever gets that close (As say when Jim Jeffords back stabbed the Republicans, changed parties and gave the Senate to the Democrats in 2001). They’re Democrats already for all intents and purpose because they have no character (oh, I would like to thank Sarah Palin for supporting McCain over the Tea Party candidate…thanks Sarah, you really helped the Republic with that move.)

So if it’s yes to both answers, sure get a primary going.  Even if it’s yes to just the second answer, get rid of the idiot. But if they’re just a moderate Republican who doesn’t always vote with the party but will give us control of the Senate or let us keep control of the House, they’re better than a Democrat. As we have learned, who controls the houses of Congress has massive authority and it is better that we dethrone Harry Reid even if we have to have every seat go to a moderate. Standing on principal when it will only hurt your cause in the long and short run isn’t standing on principal—it’s idiocy.

So just as a little reminder

There’s an election about a year away.  We need to hold onto ALL of our seats in the Senate (which means it might not be bright to primary out a moderate if that means the libs will pick it up…even a moderate Republican can still give us control of the Senate, which we’ve learned can be a very powerful thing) and we need to pick up at least 6 more seats.

Now might be the time to remember that as much as we hate some in our party we hate the Democrats even more.  We can purge the party when we’re in a position to…in the mean time I might actually like to not have to see Harry Reid’s stupid face for another few years…

Schmuck in Cheif

This man and all he represents is what we should be working against…not each other.

Or did you want to have Harry Reid in charge of the Senate if, god help us, another Supreme Court Justice needs to be replaced?

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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 Romney, 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 is 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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Health Care is Not A Right

So Republicans in typical fashion are trying to shoot themselves in the foot with their “Defund Obamacare push”  (hint the liberals want the GOP to win on this one so they don’t have to have Obamacare hanging around their necks in 2014 and 2016, so they can keep the White House and take back Congress just long enough to make sure no one can ever take Obamacare out…if you want to get rid of Obamacare, really, really get rid of it, you need to make people see, and unfortunately feel, the misery they voted for. The point here is to get rid of the idea that government is the answer, not just a temporary reprieve on one horrific law.  The Defund Obamacare group is looking to win the battle, possibly at the cost of losing the war).   But while this is going on, Democrats are spending billions just to advertise Obamacare (if a law is so bad you have to advertise it, that should tell you something).  And to top it all off, a couple days ago Obama made his one of his typically brain less statements.  “Because in the United States of America, health insurance isn’t a privilege – it is your right.”

Why do I bring all of these different groups up in the same paragraph? Because they’re all idiots. They are all predicated on the idea that the government has to do something (less idiotic for the Republicans, but they seem to have given up the idea of full repeal, the only real answer, because they seem to acknowledge the lie that government needs to provide something). At best this belief is idiotic. At worst it’s just plain evil. (On another side note evil people are very rare, but evil ideas are all too common, and morons have a long history of latching onto evil ideas with the best of intentions. So please understand I’m not calling the people supporting Obamacare evil–unless their name is Harry/Nancy/Barrack/Michelle–merely their idea is). Why is it stupid/evil? Well, let me be as clear as I can possibly be:

YOU DO NOT HAVE A !@#$%^& RIGHT TO HEALTHCARE!!!!

Like the right to property, and the right to pursue happiness, you have the right to earn a living and to use that money as you see fit, perhaps by buying healthcare or healthcare insurance, but you have no natural right to healthcare.

Sorry, Barry, but just because you want something, it’s not a right.

I know I am about to repeat things that I have said before, but I feel I need to. I feel everyone needs to until this country learns that rights are not entitlements, rights are not things given to you but opportunities to be taken care of, and to exercise your rights does not require the acts, intentions, or contribution of anyone else.

A natural right as conceived of in the theory of natural rights and in the Declaration of Independence is something you would have without the presence of government or even society. It’s what does Robinson Crusoe have when he’s on the island before he decides to violate Friday’s natural right to freedom. Well, if you find yourself trapped in a bad episode of “Lost” you have the right to life, liberty, property, and to pursue happiness. A lot of what the original Bill of Rights includes is also there (speech, religion, assembly, arms, and self-incrimination) but notice that if you’re on an island by yourself you don’t have medical care. You have the right to take care of yourself, but islands in the middle of nowhere are not staffed with hospitals and doctors just waiting for you to get sick. So it’s certainly not a natural right.

But we don’t live on an island in the middle of nowhere. The upside to this is that we don’t have to engage in a philosophical war with a black cloud; the downside to this is that we do have to deal with other people. And while most people are rational and good intentioned, there are the random people who don’t respect your rights and try to take what isn’t theirs. Because of these random few who ruin everything, and because, we want complex things that we can’t do without laws and someone being in charge (like roads) we turn to the necessary evil of government. Now good government is a skill and it took us a while to realize that limits need to be put on it because just following the guy who can kill you or the guy with the best bullshit may not have been the best choice in the beginning, even though it’s what historically happened. So we had to come up with a whole new set of rights (quartering, due process, equality under the law). But notice all these other rights limit what the government does. Nowhere have you been given anything. You were either born with your rights, some of which you gave away to ensure protection against stupid people violating your rights, and other “rights” were restrictions placed on the government on top of which your natural rights were completely off-limits. But still no right has been given to you that you already didn’t have. And again, you didn’t have the right to health care if you were stuck in the state of nature.

The right to healthcare is a ridiculous, idiotic and borderline evil idea called a “positive right.” A negative right means something that no one has the right to take away from you–like your life, your liberty, or your property. Those are things you’re entitled to, thus no one has any right to reduce your rights to them. A positive right on the other hand means something that you have a right to expect to be given to you. If you’re reading that last sentence a few times because it seems to make no sense, good, that means you’re sane. Healthcare is a positive right. It is the idea that just because I showed up you have to give me healthcare. Just because you’re alive other people have to give something to you? Well I know that really egocentric people act like this, but to actually portray this as a theory of government is insane. And while virtues of love and charity say that ethically we should give people more than they may deserve, it doesn’t work in the opposite way where you have the right to demand people give you more than you serve—that’s not ethics it’s also insanity.

But more than insane it’s wrong. You can’t give a piece of property or a service without taking it from someone else–i.e. theft or slavery. Now while I believe the capitalist system isn’t a zero-sum game that always creates more and more, theoretically having no limit to how much wealth it can create, the kind of property transfer that the government deals in is a zero-sum for whatever moment it exists in. The government stealing things and giving it to others, transferring wealth from one person to another, not only harms the ability to create more wealth, but given government inefficiency, it actually creates less wealth (especially given the government’s addiction to spending money it doesn’t have). The government can’t just give people drugs without stealing it from drugs companies…if it pays for those drugs then it can only do that by stealing hard earned wealth from the taxpayers. Either way it’s theft. A person can’t be guaranteed healthcare without doctors being forced to treat them. After all either the doctors are paid (and if the government’s involved it’s paid with stolen taxpayer money) or simply forced to work as a slave. And you’ll find most doctors will not want to work in that system which will cause the greatest healthcare system in the world, the US, to become one of the worst when all the doctors leave or simply retire.

But some idiots (Alan Colmes to name one) say that the government has a right to help the people under the actual Constitution. They quote Article I Section 8:

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and
Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general
Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be
uniform throughout the United States;”

And then they point to the part that says “General welfare” , isn’t providing healthcare promoting the general welfare? Well one that would first depend on the government being able to do anything well, which it can’t, but more importantly it is a gross misunderstanding of the meaning of “general welfare.” Even if you took the most liberal meaning of the phrase at the time the Constitution was written the term general welfare does not mean helping people like our current meaning of welfare–it means providing improvements to the whole of the country that affects everyone (roads, bridges, communication systems, in other words – infrastructure). The key is the word general. It needs to be something that can be used by everyone. I can’t take your doctor prescribed drugs after you’ve taken them, so there is nothing general about a system that helps individuals. (And don’t even give me that bullshit about their being able to provide for society if they were healthy…if they were providing for society they would have a job with which they could afford healthcare).

The government isn’t there to protect you from yourself or from nature. It’s there to protect you from other idiots. Your bad living habits and your genetic disposition toward a disease, while unfortunate, is not the government’s responsibility. But given that the government has stolen and inefficiently used the money that people who might have been able to charitably donate to your healthcare, the government is not only destroying their rights it’s destroying their ability to help you.

The government destroys all it touches–it can’t help it, it’s its nature. Especially when it tries to give you things you don’t have a right to. And you don’t have a right to healthcare!

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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

Movies that show the rich as good #1 Cash McCall

James Garner Cash McCall“I don’t belong in the better circles. I’m a thoroughly vulgar character. I enjoy making money.”—Cash McCall

The last and best movie that shows the rich as good.

But as this is a more obscure movie let me give you some details. The movie is a romantic-comedy that follows millionaire (eh, this is 1959, in 2013 dollars it’s probably billionaire)  (and perceived playboy) Cash McCall, played by James Garner as he attempts to woo Lory Austen (Natalie Wood).  The story is boy meets girl, boy falls in love, boy loses girl , boy chases, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.  It’s sweet, but nothing spectacular.

What makes this movie stand out is the title character and his business dealings.  Cash has a reputation:

“Cash McCall. I know the type.  Vultures.  Jackals.  They prowl around looking for a good company that’s having a little difficulty buy it up for practically nothing and then start pulling it to pieces.  Close the plant down, spin it off for a tax loss.  They throw a whole community out of work just to make a fast buck.”

This is the opinion of consultant Gil Clark whose sees McCall as only someone who buys up companies and liquidates them for profit.  Now I have previously gone over why there is nothing wrong with this, why a healthy economy needs this form of creative destruction to survive (yes it would be better for the original owners if they could realize their company is already dead and sell it off in a way they want to, but usually a company only gets in that state when sentimentality supplants reason).  However when Clark first meets Cash McCall not only his resentment clears he learns some interesting things about Cash McCall.

Cash: I’m sort of a second hand dealer.  I buy old tired companies, whip them into shape, then sell them again.  What’s your line of work.

Gil Clark: Corporations Associates.  We’re management consultants.

Cash: That’s a prissy way of saying efficiency experts, isn’t it?  I mean you go out to a company with a slide rule and Ouija board, sit off to one side, in the shade, and tell them how to run it by the book.

Gil: We can usually see more from the sidelines than they can from the middle of the field.

Cash: Well that’s nice, it’s like going to a ball game and having the player pay you.  They pay you pretty well I hear.

Gil: Sure our fees are big.  But when we charge our clients thousands we usually save them millions.  And we have a waiting list a mile long because my firm operates strictly on the level.

Cash: And do you know why it operates that way. … Because I own it.

And this is our first introduction to the businessman that is Cash McCall.  From here we see that yes he makes money, he likes doing it.  But he doesn’t just do it by buying bad companies and liquidating them.

The tax structure we have nowadays sets everything up like pins in a bowling alley.   You take your small manufacturer cashmccalllike Mr. Austin—the only way that he can cash in is by selling out.  And the tax situation, or rather because of it, the country is full of Mr. Austin’s.  I’m sorry Gil, I don’t make the rules, I just play the game.  “I get a wallop out of taking  a shaky company and bracing it up.  Taking it apart and see that it runs again…but then after six months all the fun’s gone out of it.”  So he runs a business of consulting, of management, that takes good ideas that need help, gives them the help they need (maybe selling off the parts that are beyond help to those who can make use of them) and then leaving the company again to go forth and make profits.  If that sounds a lot like Bain Capital, and its former President to you, then you might understand why I’ve had such a hard time getting back to this series of blogs and finishing it when this should have been done back in early November.

Throughout the movie we see a businessman who is frank with the people he is dealing with, always honest with people, always gives them a chance to back out, and never takes advantage of someone.  Yes he will hold information back, that’s called business, in business information is worth a lot and you don’t just give it away for free…but it is never information that he acquired through illicit means and was always there if someone else wanted to get it, they just didn’t have the foresight to do so.   And because of this he constantly gets blamed for somehow being underhanded as seen in this conversation.

Gen. (ret.) Danvers: I consider you a pirate and a blackguard

Cash: I’m well aware of how you feel about me and I just can’t find it in my heart to blame you.

Danvers: In your what?

Cash: Because I don’t have any particular affection for you either.

Danvers: Is that why you’re out to ruin me.  Is that why you’re out to destroy the Scofield Instrument Corporation?

Cash: No one has to ruin you or your company General…not as long as you’re around to save them the trouble.

Danvers: You managed to get your hands on a company I practically supported for years.  Sixty percent of its product.  And the minute you’ve got it you refuse to supply me with molding parts.  What are you up to McCall?  Extortion?

Cash: I hope you won’t mind my saying it General but for a military man you don’t have either a logical mind or a very good memory.  You do have one very good military talent though, you’re very good at passing the buck.

Danvers: Now just what’s that supposed to mean?

Cash: This isn’t the first time it’s happened.  About a year ago I sold you a cabinet factory, Padua Furniture Company, a first rate shop you got it at a good price.  Now if I remember correctly, you thanked me warmly for letting you have it.

Danvers: Indeed I did.  I don’t always recognize a thief the first time I see him.

Cash: But when you found out you’d been offered the same shop a year before at half the price you started shooting off your mouth about how you’d been robbed by Cash McCall.

Danvers: You’re damn right I did.

Cash: Of course you didn’t recognize the fact that a year before it wasn’t worth half the price you paid me for it.

And this is typical of reality. Good businessmen create wealth where none existed before in a very short amount of time…but because other people can’t understand how a little intellect and a little hard work can make something that was previously worthless worth a fortune, they assume that the only explanation is something underhanded and deceitful.  That they’ve been robbed.  And while this is a common tale (again see the election of 2012) only idiots don’t understand that it is actually virtue and ethics that create value in the long run.  That it is only honest people like the character of cash mccallCash McCall, who when accused of being a crook stands his ground and will not merely conform to what the public or his advisors want, the consequence be damned he has his own personal integrity to consider first and foremost (still this sounds very familiar).  And this is why I love Mitt Cash and this film.  It shows that all too often the people who produce things are seen by the public as crooks, that the ones who create wealth are only seen as stealing it by the envious people, that those who bring prosperity to the most are derided falsely as taking from others.

“I get a wallop out of taking  a shaky company and bracing it up.  Taking it apart and see that it runs again…but then after six months all the fun’s gone out of it.”

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