Archive for February, 2011

Foolishness in Wisconsin

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that there is plenty of blame to go around in the Wisconsin budget debate. Their budget is on fire and they act like children! This is the United States of America, we are supposed to set an example to the rest of the world, showing how to be people who are self interested rightly understood, or rational maximizes, emphasizing rational

The Governor is wrong on at least two counts. The first is forcing the unions to have an election every year whether or not to abolish the union. That is absurd! The extra cost of an election, every single year along with the attendant slowdown in productivity during such an event, is prohibitive once in four years but every year would essentially shut down the operation of government.

The second is, in taking away the union’s collective bargaining rights for government unions only, government holds itself to a different law than it holds the people. Again we see that government doesn’t get it. The Elite always seek to carve out a niche for themselves. The rest of us have to labor under rules that government doesn’t hold itself to. This is just another example.

If collective bargaining is too odious then take it away entirely from all employers. We can clearly see that to do such a thing would violate the right to free assembly as well as the right to freely petition the government. We know, and have historical proof, that employers collude to keep wages low. So unions, or at least the real threat of unions, are a powerful incentive for employers to play fair, else risk the real possibility of a union coming in, and have to bear the additional costs.

The governor has a real point when he says that the State unions organize, fund and otherwise help get a political faction in power, that is not only beholding to the union, but is philosophically in tune with union leadership. This allows public employee unions to get labor agreements that would never fly in the private sector. Hiding some wages as huge pensions keeping them off the books until later. Well now it’s later and the books have been massaged as much as they can be and are ready to fall apart. A State NUMA would solve this problem with a law forcing politicians to recuse themselves from bargaining with a political donor.

To address the education question. The logic is actually very thinly sliced so they don‘t have to address the question in it‘s totality. The unbiased media are only talking about teachers and a faction of public sector employees. There are many things government does that do not need a great deal of schooling like plowing roads. But the bigger point to make, is that public sector employees that do have a higher level of education, have it, because the government pays for it and regulation passed by government requires it. They regulate themselves to be educated.

The unions, on the other hand, are acting criminally. If the Teamsters rioted and took over a UPS building the police would immediately be called and the Teamsters would have the Billy clubs put right to them. Applied directly to the head. They would be arrested, dragged out and criminally charged, lastly, facing a judge. To let public sector unions get away with far worse is the most atrocious example I could have thought of! In what universe is that ok? To not allow the Teamsters to forcibly shut down a UPS transship but to allow public sector unions to shut down government?

What about the Democrats abandoning their jobs?!?! If you or I abandoned our jobs, simply because we are handed a job we disagree with, we would be immediately fired! You and I would be on the unemployment line so fast it would make your head spin. And we would deserve it! To abandon your job, is to demonstrate absolute disdain for your employers, in this case the people of Wisconsin. The Democrats are acting the very faction we were discussing earlier.

Imagine if the Republicans had abandoned their jobs and left the country when Obama was passing his unconstitutional health care law, or on a State level, when Gay Marriage was being passed? The vilification would have been extreme and would have carried true vitriol. The lawsuits would have popped up like weeds in a freshly tilled garden. Overwhelming the legal system.

Now that the democrats in Wisconsin have set the precedent, now the democrats in Illinois are following the tip of the spear. When the republicans inevitably go through the hole made by the democrats we will finally get some debate in the unbiased media about consequences.

In the meantime the fire still burns…

Rare Earth Elements

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that with the world wide shortage of rare earth elements (REE), and the concentration of production in China, some out of the box thinking might work to the advantage of some entrepreneurs and the world’s people. The out of the box thinking, I am thinking, is that some smart fellow launch a ship with the tools needed en route to mine a near Earth asteroid (NEAR).

One could be found that would have the needed orbital period so that the miners could be pulled back in case of catastrophe. Also the orbit should be such that it remains far enough from the Sun that it remains cool enough to be on/in.

A good initial candidate might be Apophis. It will be making a near Earth transition soon and is a chondrite asteroid. Chondrites have a regular abundance of rare earths and chondritic meteors have been shown to have relatively plentiful of REE. Funding being easier to get if the quality of the ore is pretty well ascertainable beforehand.

When the space miners get to the asteroid they land and attach their ship to it. Then deploy a balloon made of multiple layers of Mylar and aluminum around the asteroid. The outer layer would be flexible solar panels. Then inflate the balloon to one half atmosphere. Once the balloon has stabilized it would be tethered to the asteroid at strategic locations. This would give the space miners a controlled atmospheric space to work.

Within the low pressure of the bubble the space miners could work with less protection on and increase their productivity as a result. There could even be tests to see if some hardy plant could be grown in asteroidal regolith within the bubble.

The first order of business would be to drill a shaft directly to the center of the asteroid and hollow out the center to fit all the miners and needed equipment in case of a major solar flair. Use the tailings to process into rare earth metals. The initial foray might just be to drill the protective tunnel and ascertain the potential of the technology.

With the greater and greater demand for electric powered cars, busses and “clean” energy the demand for REE will grow faster than the primitively mined supplies in China can keep up with. Once the demand outstrips the supply China will hoard their REE for themselves. That will in turn bring the “clean” industries in other nations to their knees.

Not to say that the rest of the world is not trying to bring REE mines online. In North America and Australia there are two ready to go into production and in Greenland there is exploration, but with the expensive regulatory environment in North America we can count on it being an expensive producer, the extreme environment in Greenland will also add to production costs. Australia will be a relatively low cost producer, if, the government doesn’t loose it’s mind again and try to impose insane taxes on the industry. But Australia only has a few of the needed REE.

With no dysprosium electric motors will loose efficiency, without indium and tellurium for solar panels or the lanthanide series of metals for battery and other “clean” technologies, “clean” will become incomprehensively expensive. The limit on the supply of the necessary elements to make a “clean” economy function; make a “clean” economy risky for those that venture down that risky path.

If the most fretful scenario comes true, China will have a monopoly on “clean” technology, and the rest of the world will have pledge to buy only clean technology. No way that could be a problem eh?

But if the ability of the worlds mines, to begin producing REE to meet the upcoming surge in demand, it would be much more reasonable to mine asteroids for them…

If the price skyrockets and someone lands a few hundred pounds of REE from an asteroid, what would that make him/her?

Human Nature and World Government

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that there are no greater motivators of men than money and power. The thirst for which is unquenchable. In fact it can be said, and a good argument made, that not only are money and power great motivators of men but the more of either a person has, the more of both they want. In other words as a person’s thirsts are quenched the person’s thirsts grow ever faster.

That is why, if a cigarette company came out with research that proved cigarettes prevent cancer and that the higher cancer observed in populations that smoke is due to poor lifestyle including poor diet, no exercise, and other risk factors, including exposure to factory emissions, that in fact, smoking cigarettes lowered the prevalence of cancer in those populations people would be cautious.

Because everyone would know, and understand intrinsically, that the companies that produced the scientific papers and research, have a vested interest in the outcome, in both money and power. We innately understand, that having ‘a dog in the race’ so to speak, gives people bias. That bias can manifest itself in massaged outcomes.

It stands to reason that the more money and the more power at stake the more bias it would naturally coerce from people. So much so that until certain conditions are met any thought of world government is absurd. Absurd to the point of abstraction. Like a political black hole that, once created, would inevitably suck humanity into itself and feed on us until it had consumed us and extinguished itself thusly.

Many pernicious notions still exist, that invade the thoughts of mankind and keep humanity largely in a state of perpetual poverty, instead of a state of perpetual prosperity. Notions that are as pernicious as they are magnetic. Like, for example, the idea that a person has any “right” to the labor of another free person, or that any other is not free.

As Adam Smith said, if given the choice between slave labor and negotiating with a free man for his free labor most people will choose the slave because of men’s pride… People have an inner feeling, they, (you and I), have some right to the labor of another without or without their consent. This is manifested in many forms. I will name a very few but if you think about it you will be able to think of many more.

The notion that a person has a right to the labor of another is manifested most often as false “Human Rights” bestowed by some “benevolent” State authority. They freely give out “Rights” to politically favored groups. Meting out the labor of others in the form of taxation for votes to maintain power. The faction that keeps the authority in power Is not relevant.

Another example is the Social Security system in the US. Under that system the proletariat of today pay for the retired proletariat of today. Extra money is (was) then spent to garner political favors from political factions. Then rhetoric is thrown out that the money is in a lock box. Well, there is no tooth fairy, and there is no lock box. The money is spent and an, possibly valueless, IOU is there instead. The law entitles one generation to the labor of another with no guarantee that the payers of today will have a government that is able, for many reasons, to extract that toll from the payers of tomorrow.

Capitalist social security would be the best means to get a retirement system that would not give any faction the “right” to the labor of another. These two examples are two of many. To get this nut cracked will take many more years of civilization of humanity through the use of capitalism. As I have said before, capitalist and capitalist behavior makes people more civilized in many ways, more punctual, greater self control, the ability to maintain one task for an extended period of time etc…

If every country, or at least a plurality of countries, had a functional market system, un warped by political influence, the possibility of a world government could be considered, but until then it is like an ancient Scythian considering the possibility of interstellar travel. He could see the stars and consider their import but had no real context to imagine what it would entail what it would take to be done right.

People today, looking at the possibility of a world government, are no more advanced philosophically, that our Scythian was scientifically. To launch into such a poorly thought out venture would certainly end in disaster, but with the whole of humanity along for the ride.

NUMA

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that history, and the present, show us that the Elite in all societies need to be policed. Perhaps the societal upheavals we are witnessing lately could have been avoided, or maybe even stopped, by wise establishment of a Fourth Branch of Government, I am of course talking about a NUMA.

A NUMA would be a place for the people to express their dissatisfaction with the State. The NUMA would be tasked with following up “consumer” complaints against government or it’s services. If, for example, a person thought their property taxes were too high they would go to the local NUMA. The NUMA would look into the problem. Siding with the consumer in court if it came to that. One of it’s functions would be as a consumer complaints department against the government.

Another of it’s primary responsibilities would be to police government officials, with draconian measures, if necessary. Cameras in the parliamentarian’s chambers, recording all the time to be released in 20 years. No matter the hubris of an official, he or she loathes to be seen by history, as a fink. The threat of history and the more immediate threat of prosecution is what faces the corrupt politician.

Another important facet of the functioning of a NUMA is that, in the amendment chartering a NUMA, there would need to be a provision against any member or branch of government carving out some loop hole in Law. Allowing Congressmen to engage in acts legally, i.e. “Insider trading” that would be illegal for the citizen to engage in. Or for a member or branch to exclude itself from any legislation they pass on any segment, faction, coalition or any other grouping of people.

Pit a faction of government against the rest of government, make it their job, give them incentives to be active in their jobs and you have the means to reign in the avarice of corrupt officials. It is also important to keep a NUMA under control and not let it coerce other officials to enrich it’s interests or the interests of it’s members. This could be done by the regular police having police function over the NUMA. Cameras in their offices and the whole lot.

There is no question that if a person knows he or she will be held to every Law they pass, to the letter of that Law, they will be skeptical in their judgment. They will read the law and understand it before they vote, and be reticent to pass Laws, that will have a detrimental effect on themselves. Because no matter how thoughtful the individual, they are more thoughtful of their own personal interests, then they ever could be of another’s. It is human nature.

Elections would be where a NUMA would shine. The NUMA would have volunteers stationed at every polling booth. At least 2 from each of the main political parties. They would see that election laws are followed. They would inspect boxes as they came in, tag and release the boxes to be filled with ballots then seal the boxes with a number, equating to the polling station location, or some other convenient way. The NUMA along with international observers would insure a free and fair vote count.

A NUMA would enhance the economic wealth of a nation that is wise enough to adopt one. An official who is reported to the NUMA as requesting or taking bribes would meet immediate prosecution and if found guilty would go to jail. The replacement would be a little more wary of bribery. This would unfetter the market forces in that nation and would inevitably result in more small businesses. More small businesses would inevitably result in more employment. The chain of causality, no bribes leading to more small business leading to more employment, is clear as spring water.

The enacting of a NUMA would be a win win for any country. Change the paradigm and you change the outcome. Follow the same path as others have taken and the outcome is obvious. Confucius said, “A fool follows a dangerous path when a safe one is at hand.” Tyranny follows tyranny and that is the normal course of human events.

Perhaps, just once, the Elite could take us on the safe path?

Abuse

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that someone who beats his wife daily might be indignant at being told to stop beating his wife. After all beating one’s wife makes a man feel strong, powerful and keeps his wife under control. Control being important to the abuser.

Wives who get out of control put the ego of the abuser at risk. Wives who want too much leeway in their own lives. Damages the inflated and fragile ego of the abuser and he will react accordingly. If she tries to exert her sovereignty and drive a car or have a female friend are examples.

But to the abuser the most dangerous thing a wife can do is realize she can leave the relationship. Abusers that have become rich or have forced their twisted view of humanity on parts of the town through their abuse are especially in danger. Their wives could leave them and the abuser might end up dead in an ally somewhere.

I know of an example where the abuser slapped down his wife very violently and publicly, following her all around town, slapping and beating her with a closed fist in front of everyone in town, even in the European battered woman’s shelter, with not a person offended. His abuse was barbaric yet met no real criticism or action to stop it. When the wife, bloody and swollen, was dragged home by her hair, the town breathed a sigh of relief.

Yet lately I know of another example of an abuser who, while still an ass, let his wife act up. He put a half hearted attempt to slap her down but was met with widespread criticism from around the town. He went to therapy but to no avail. His wife left him and, as is normally the case, is now looking for another who will surely do her harm. She’s waiting… yea. For another love

So we have this dichotomy in the town’s reaction. Surely there must be a reason. Lets examine the philosophy of the abusers to see if we can glean it. The one, who met no condemnation, brags in the bar every night that he wants to bring about the end times and calls for killing everyone who disagrees with him, bragging he would spill the blood of millions of people all over town and bring about the destruction of the Western way of life is his favorite drunken rant. While he amasses an armory of illegal weapons in his basement.

The other, the one who met immediate condemnation, and who’s wife’s going to a battered woman’s shelter was encouraged by town leaders, has a live and let live ethos. He didn’t brag he wanted to kill people, he didn’t call for the extermination of anyone, in fact he barbequed with his Jewish neighbor, once in awhile. His live and let live attitude had led to the betterment of his wife’s standard of living. Growing at over 5% during the last few years.

I hear now she is on Match.com looking for a fundamentalist who isn’t afraid to go to war with the neighbors over a fence. She is not alone however there are plenty of wives all over her neighborhood who want to rebel. The town fathers seem to be encouraging those of the mild abusers and protecting the true criminals. Maybe she actually will end up with a liberal guy, who may even let her balance the checkbook, we’ll see. I hope and pray that she does…

The wife of the first is still not happy in her coerced marriage. I hear she will be acting up tomorrow in the suburb of Tehran. I will be curious to see, if the town fathers encourage her, or him, and turn a blind eye while making placating noises. They have started making the noises but I have yet to see action. (And I doubt I will).

It is a terrible thing to see a woman beaten daily in front of your eyes, but it is an even worse thing to see her go from one who simply subjugates her to an abuser who will, eventually, beat her to death. I have no love lost for a bastard who beats his wife, but I certainly am concerned, when she goes from one abuser to another but the other will probably kill her trying to kill his neighbor… (She never liked the neighbor anyway).

What Form Compassion?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that compassion is not really a relative term. Compassion is both self effacing and uplifting to another. Compassion is never insidious.

Is this compassion… If a government provided it’s people, free of charge regardless of ability to pay, housing, food, healthcare, heat, and a stipend to cover incidentals like clothing and entertainment. Would most people work in that society? Why would they? It would make no sense, especially if, to cover the cost of these things a person needed to work two jobs, and live in squalor to boot.

Why have to get up every morning at the same time, get to work on time, else be chastised, struggle to get home just to write checks, for the things the government would cover for you, if you were indigent. The inevitable result would be a society that simply does not work. Nothing would get done. Why clean the streets when it is warmer at home? Why pick up the garbage and inhale that odor when the air at home is as sweet as a forest glen.

Such a society cannot long sustain itself. No matter the financial wherewithal of the government, that would be so unwise, as to make it’s inhabitants indigent. Such a society would collapse in it’s own squalor, piles of filth heaping into stinking mountains, collapsing roads, bridges and buildings would make any act unsafe, and pestilence everywhere. The first despot to come along would be cheered by the people the realization would come too late.

Lets further take our outlandish scenario, and say, the government has no wherewithal when it comes to money and pays for it’s largess with rapine. Punishing more and more the people who do the work society needs done? What if government spending far exceeds it’s ability to pay? It borrows. Borrows twenty percent of GDP then fifty percent then Eighty percent, interest piling up, even as the money is being spent to undermine the societal work ethic. The economy would drop as the debt would grow, until our hypothetical nation’s government sold bonds… and no one came to buy.

But anyone can see this clearly and with alacrity you might say. Especially a person schooled in liberal arts and big minded in their thoughts and actions? Such a society could not exist because the Elite would never let such a society come into existence. No member of the Elite would be so foolish as to not only allow but to encourage such a society to come into being. Further, simply being schooled and learned the Elite would certainly see such a society being conceived, were it happening.

But it may be, that to have such a society come into existence, would serve some malevolent minded interest of some of the Elite? Only a small faction of that small faction need be in on it or be complicit. The rest can be ridiculed into submission. Ten percent of ten percent is all that would be needed.

What could possibly be served by such a society coming into existence, the first despot to come along would enslave the weaklings immediately and force them to work… Forging their own chains. The ten percent of ten percent could be planning just this very thing to take charge and become a true aristocracy. Protecting people from themselves and dictating economic outcome depending on political status.

Of course, the ten percent of ten percent may believe themselves to be benevolent, and not being religious men, they don’t mind how the road is paved. Too bad they have the map upside down…

Would that be compassionate?

Happy 100th Birthday Ron Reagan!

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that Ronald Reagan was a great president. He took the United States, from an economic point similar to the one we are in, and turned it around to have low unemployment, good growth in GDP and won the Cold War to boot. Not small accomplishments.

One of his strengths was that he followed Machiavelli’s maxim, that a wise prince secure the loyalty of the population over the approval of the aristocracy, in that the people are far more numerous than the aristocracy and have more power of violence (political power), as a result. Marshaled under the prince people power can suppress the power of the aristocracy. Ron Reagan had to go around the political and information establishments to get his changes through.

The changes Ron Reagan wanted to pass, and did pass, were an anathema to the existing political establishment at the time. Deregulation was vilified as leading to the deaths of millions… didn’t happen. Placing medium range nuclear missiles in Europe was called overly provocative, and President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative was derided as Star Wars, an impossible dream. Ron Reagan was vilified at every turn by the unbiased media.

All the terrible outcomes predicted by the unbiased media didn’t pan out, and all the outcomes the unbiased media opposed, came true. President Ron Reagan, as it turns out, was prophetic in his policies. The total collapse of the USSR and the Communist Bloc was a direct result of President Reagan’s grappling with the Soviets. Lest we forget, the world was under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. Ron Reagan lifted that cloud from out heads.

Deregulation and lower taxation proposed by president Reagan and opposed by the Democrat Party and a large faction, (the progressive faction), of the Republican Party, resulted in a complete turnaround in the American economy. Interest rates went from 16% to 7%, unemployment went from a post war high of 10.8% down to a more reasonable 6% and lower.

President Reagan opened up drilling within the borders of the US as much as possible to lower the cost of energy. He understood that energy, as a primary input to the economy, is critical to the smooth functioning of it. When artificial constrictions are put on the supply of energy, by overly zealous government regulation, the price becomes more volatile and hammers the economy. He got the government out of the way.

Not only in energy but in a whole host of areas from transportation to space exploration. These resulted in an expanding of the US economy unheard of since the early post war period. I remember MacDonald’s was advertising for workers in 1987 $9.00 an hour! In 1987 dollars that is like $20.00 today! The economy was going gangbusters.

The progressive wing of the Republican party took over in 1988 and went back to regulating and taxing… despite rhetoric to the contrary. The outcome was as predictable as the input would be from the progressives, higher unemployment and lower GDP growth. Hard to imagine that if you put a bullet in the belly of the economy it won’t function as before.

When the conservative faction of the Republican Party, (people who wish to conserve the legacy of the enlightenment) regained supremacy in 1994, in the Congress, they went on an austerity binge and were vilified for it. The unbiased media was unrelenting in their vitriolic presentation of the cuts and spending controls the Republicans put through. “Mean spirited” is how the unbiased media put it as I recall. The austerity that resulted in the balancing of the budget for the first time in decades.

The Conservative branch of the Republican Party was decimated by the hammering the unbiased media gave them for their balancing the US budget, and the credit for the accomplishment went to the progressive president, who had fought tooth and nail, the measures that begot the result.

We will see the exact thing play out in the coming years. The Conservative Republicans will be vilified in the Unbiased media and the credit for the outcome of the pro liberty faction’s measures will be meted out to the anti capitalists (Protyranists), who will fight them every step of the way.

We shall have to wait to see how this round plays out but we know where the battle lines are. The philosophical descendants of President Ronald Reagan, the Tea Party, and other conservative groups will be vilified as was their ancestor Ron Reagan. He would have gone around the unbiased media, directly to the American people to explain his agenda, he would do it effectively and with a glint in his eye.

Maybe that is why Sara Palin is so reviled and despised by the unbiased press, who heap mounds of vitriol on her… because she is a good communicator and is the philosophical descendant of Ron Reagan?

The guy who was just a dumb actor.

Productive Effort VS Killing Each Other

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that now would be a good time for a world leader to negotiate a world mission to build a permanent moon base in 10 years. Doing so would have many effects on world politics and the attitude of people in various parts of the world to one another. Because I worry the world is setting up for a big war.

It would take huge effort and foresight for a small cadre of Elite to push a thing like this. The political risks would be great but the historical payoff would be prodigious. Imagine being the people credited with such an effort were it to succeed? Great achievements of great men come to mind, Cheops pyramid, Roosevelt’s Panama Canal, Hoover’s dam, Qin’s wall and others, The political effort would be immense but what price for immortality?.

Such achievements give light to the human spirit and make the drudgery of the day less tiresome. They provide us an outlet for our anger, frustration and anxiety that is productive and heartening. There is toil and frustration in the doing but exhilaration in the completing.

Make the thing a team effort complete with milestones to cheer for. If the mission was designed with every participating country having an important part the people in that country will feel connected to the enterprise. The trick would be to effectively educate the people in their various countries as well. Then the people will feel invested in the project and will cheer it along!

It would be important to keep the cost to any individual country small enough so that the percent of GDP effected would not harm the economy. This would minimize the ability of naysayer’s to snipe at the project and protect the participating countries economies. Such an audacious project would necessarily be expensive.

One of the overall aims would be to align the interests of many of the worlds people, at least in this one thing, so that they will be more likely to give another the benefit of the doubt. People love drama and excitement. We get behind a good struggle. Wouldn’t it be better to struggle to conquer the Moon then to struggle to kill each other?

The political effort would be eclipsed by the scientific and engineering effort it would take. The whole project would let mankind flex our muscles. We would see what we can do and in the doing learn how to do other things faster, better, and with less inputs, the definition of improvement in economic productivity… The productivity improvement that raises wages and incomes.

Another goal would be to build critical infrastructure. Spreading out the infrastructure would give many countries the ability to get tangible results from their effort on the project. While any project such as this is not in any way a jobs bill but if it creates some lasting jobs, especially jobs that will be transferred to the private sector in the future, put people to work in the economy.

A major objective would be to get infrastructure in place to harvest helium 3 before the need for it. Our societies can garner benefits from the scientific and engineering advances we all would get from the project today like unforeseen benefits as from the Apollo program. But the potential of helium 3 to generate clean safe electricity on Earth must not be overlooked.

China, Russia, Japan, the European Union and the US have the ability to put a man into space in a pinch, India will soon be able to. The nations of the world are going there anyway why not marshal the effort to the benefit all mankind? The International Space Station is the model, a Moon base would be tougher and more expensive but the payoff would be exponentially higher.

One war averted and the cost will be paid back a hundred thousand times…