Archive for July, 2008

At least I don’t do THAT!

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that you can break down peoples standards into parts. How we hold others and how we hold ourselves. Another factor involved is the strictness that we actually hold these ’values’.

It is common to hold others to a higher standard of conduct than we hold ourselves. We see this practiced in every facet of life. The politician that makes a law he or she never plans on following, to the janitor that takes toilet paper for home and reviles the dirty cop. If I were to boil this line of reasoning down to one sentence it would be “that which I do may be bad, But, what others do is much worse, therefore I am not that bad in what I do.” It is a factor of human nature. It is never advisable to try to regulate human nature very hard. When it has been done in the past it has been like squeezing a balloon with your fingers, it never actually takes less room. It only bulges out somewhere else, unpredictably, and possibly destroying the balloon (wrecking society).

Some people only grumble at the injustice of the world. Others persecute and prosecute the malefactors. When it is obvious, that those who have taken it upon themselves to force virtue in the world, don’t live the virtuous life they would enforce on others, their moral authority is destroyed and society rebounds away from the virtue that was trying to be forced. This speaks to the strictness that people hold these values on others but not on themselves.

This is why Confucius and Mencius demanded virtue from the rulers (Elite). The moral authority of the Elite is proportionate with the virtue that they live their lives. This is demonstrably true if one looks to history. Rome’s republic was destroyed by decadence long before it was destroyed by Cassius, Pompeii and Caesar. The Elite (Patricians) were becoming more and more decadent. They were basically stealing the land from the returning Roman soldiers. Hero’s of the republic were returning to unused overgrown land with no access to funds for seed and tools. He sold his land for food for his family. With slavery there was no need for labor so the Roman war hero was reduced to poverty. The Elite bought up more and more land and amassed giant estates and great wealth. Controlling the Senate they maintained this state of affairs to enrich themselves to the ultimate destruction of the Roman Republic and their own massacre at the hands of their own countrymen Sulla and Marius. Leading to the end to the political turmoil that had sealed the roads of Rome with the blood of it’s Patricians. Tomes could be filled with other examples.

Perhaps a better way would be to Control the lusts and rapine of the Elite. Instead of trying to force virtue on the masses looking up at a decadent Elite.

Don’t force us to be virtuous, lead us to be virtuous.

Power and the Balance of Trade

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Dear Friends,

The Taipei Times reports that the US has frozen arms sales to Taiwan for the next year. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2008/07/19/2003417877 . Within the larger picture of World affairs this is curious.

The Peoples Congress in China voted unanimously to use force if necessary to compel Taiwan back. Never mind that Taiwan is a free democratic Republic, that could at any time, if it was the will of the people, to return to mainland China’s domination. That they haven’t, is clear evidence of the people of Taiwan’s will, to remain under the government of their choosing (free). Illustrating of the use of individual sovereignty, a fundamental tenet of International Capitalism.

Lets look at how another former nation that has been brought, ‘under the fold’ so to speak, has fared. Tibet was annexed by the threat of violence in the late 1950’s. Since then China has imposed upon the people of Tibet the “One child policy.” While importing non native Han Chinese to Tibet. The native Tibetans are now second class citizens in their own country… In my opinion the Tibetan people are the victims of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ or at least Ethnic watering down. Either way, that the World turns a blind eye is flabbergasting.

Communist have never shown an aversion to the spilling of blood to make a point. Tiananmen Square is a Chinese example but there are thousands from every country that have looked up and seen the bottom of the jack boot of Communist authority. From the purges of the Soviet Union to the killing fields of Pol Pot Communists have never been able to slake their thirst for the blood of the people they “represent”.

No one can begrudge the growth that that has led to the improvement of the lives of so many people. Growth of GDP and therefore growth in the standard of living of people, is another tenet of International Capitalism. We applaud the gains made by the Chinese people. We deplore the actions of the Communist tyrants that lord over them.

With these and many other examples, what about the actions of the Communist Party in China, would lend us to believe that they have any compunction in killing thousands or perhaps even all of the people in Taiwan to bring Taiwan back ’under the fold’? To what end???

Now bring this new thought to the table of ideas. Why then given the previously stated, state of affairs, would the US so obviously abrogate the obligation that it made, under no duress, to help a free Republic defend itself from a modern Genghis Khan?

It is common knowledge that the meteoric rise in commodities prices are the result of the rapid expansion of the economies of the East Asian countries and China in particular. It’s Elasticity of supply, at some level of demand, no matter the price, supply cannot increase until new production is brought online to meet the new demand. Driving the equilibrium price up and up causing inflation.

The US has run up huge trade deficits with China. We buy the cheap goods that flood over here. When we do we pay in Dollars. The Chinese use Yuan in China. They must either trade the Dollars for Yuan on the World currency market (driving down the value of Dollars), or reinvest the Dollars back into the US economy further affecting the National Savings and Investment Identity.

The National Savings and Investment Identity is simply that; Private Investment PLUS Government Borrowing, MUST EQUAL, Private Savings PLUS Foreign Investment. So the Balance of trade is not only affected by the importation of goods but also of capital. Furthering the impact of Government Deficit spending. One can almost double the trade deficit of goods to see the real impact on the Balance of Trade when there is a major trade deficit with a single country. On the balance however if the Aggregate balance of trade is ‘balanced‘, there would be no negative effect, the effect only shows up under a large aggregate trade deficit.

This ends up putting huge downward pressure on the value of the Dollar to balance out the Trade Deficit. Giving China correspondingly huge leverage on the value of the dollar. That leverage comes with a price however. If China were to use that lever, China would loose the value of every Dollar it holds, just as would everyone else.

China need not use that lever however. The mere threat of using it, especially when the World economy is faltering in no small part because of the US mortgage meltdown, would have a chilling effect on any president. I pray that is not the case here…

Media, Biased or unbiased, You Decide!

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Dear Friends,

Today on the George Step. Show the unbiased media had two democrats discussing the presidential candidates. The next segment had four left leaning reporters discussing strategy for the democrat running for the White House.

Sometimes I listen to the NPR show “On The Media.” This show almost categorically states that the most important thing for the media to do is hide their personal biases. They go on and on, on how it is important for the media to appear unbiased to the public, else the public will be disenchanted with them and become dull and ignorant. NPR does talk about potential media bias, but the reporters, who host the show always come to the conclusion that they are indeed not biased.

I listen to the underlying assumptions of a news story, as well as the data. The context that the data is presented is indicative of the personal bias of the reporter and the editorial board. When every news story has the theme that the president is making the wrong policy decisions, it seems to me, to be a bit biased.

Choice of language is also telling. Calling abortion “The right to choose” or “Murder of an unborn baby” in a news story, seems to me, to be a bit biased, or at least to have a biasing effect on the people watching or listening to it.

Under one presidency every week on NPR there are editorials about how the media shouldn’t even report factual news stories because they serve to undermine the power of the executive. The next president gets weekly editorials from the same talking heads reporting innuendo and rumors. To me that seems a bit biased.

If you or I were to live in a house with the color of the lights skewed to the red spectrum, we would have or vision skewed also. When we went outside it would seem extremely blue. Everything we saw would appear bluish. Would that make the objects that we saw actually blue or would it be an effect of our living in a house with the lights skewed to the red?

Another example would be if you or I lived in a house with absolutely no odors. Spending most of our time with no smells whatsoever. When we went out of the house out olfactory sense would be assaulted by the smells. They would seem too strong. Would the smells actually be too strong or would our sense of smell be skewed?

Perhaps the question really is, should the people of the World have access to the truth, or are we too stupid to be trusted with the truth? I think we can handle the truth, don’t you?

How Citified are You?

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Dear Friend,

It seems to me that the more removed a person is from the means that keeps him or her alive the more the individual is willing to cede rights to the government.

People like hamburger. We cook it in everything, Shepard’s pie, tacos, and even hamburgers. We love this versatile inexpensive meat. We don’t often however think about were it comes from or how it’s made. To our ‘citified’ sensibilities the thought of killing and grinding up an animal is revolting. That is, what is required, in order for us to eat hamburger.

A person who grew up on a farm or in close proximity to farm life isn’t as squeamish. When you ’get your hands dirty’ in the process of providing food for the masses you learn exactly what it takes to keep humanity alive. It may be distasteful but it must be done.

Having to face the reality of mortal existence makes people stronger and more importantly wiser. Not necessarily smarter. That wisdom is often seen by the ’smart’ people in the cities as rustic, thinking. Quaint notions from the past. ‘Smart’ people are more willing to place their trust in the machinery of civilization. Wise people have fixed too much farm equipment to trust a machine explicitly.

Living among a throng of people also makes us more willing to have our actions restrained in order that the disturbing actions of others are also restrained. In the city it is simply not permissible to walk outside at 7:00 AM, load your 30-06, lean against the corner of the house and sight in your rifle. In the city we have to respectful of the rights of others. People who live in the city have a greater willingness to give up liberty, to protect themselves, that is the point of the ‘social contract‘.

As a result, much political innovation comes from the city. With the constant need to interact in ways that are productive, or at least not counterproductive, and with the fall of civility in society in general and in the city in particular, the Elite must use more and more force and coercion to keep people at peace with one another. Cameras on every street corner and behind every cashier but we recoil at the thought of putting a camera in the office of our congressman.

In the rural areas people still use courtesy as the best means of interpersonal discourse. It’s common to hear “please” and “thank you” in everyday conversation. Holding the door for the next person when walking into a store is also commonplace in the rural areas.

Our sitcoms are nothing but people insulting each other. We watch gleefully as people we see every week tear each other down. Vitriolic attacks are commonplace in our comedy. The boorish is elevated to the sublime and we all suffer for it. Coarsening the way we interact with each other.

So, perhaps, we should take a long hard look at how we interact. Instead of calling the cops when our neighbor plays his music too loud, late at night, a call and an ear would be more efficacious. If we are the person called remember the golden rule. We would all be better served for the human interaction. More importantly We would be better protecting our rights and liberty…

Sometime, try holding the door for a little old lady… Gives you a strange feeling.