Saturday, June 15, 2013

"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" Right?



You are being watched.

But, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Isn't that right?  That is what the watchers want us to believe.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution reads as:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

The NSA's Prism is the latest (and most expansive) program whereby information regarding communication amongst everyone is collected and stored.  The government claims it does not keep the content of said communications, but even if that was true, that should not give us any calming of mind.  The data that are collected includes who called who, when, for how long and from where.  If one of the people in the exchange is not a citizen, then the content can be monitored - even real-time.

The data collection is just the continued progression of the ever-expanding State presence in society.  Though the Supreme Court ruled against it (somewhat in U.S. v. Jones, 2012), the Obama administration and Federal government continue to state that a warrant is not required to affix GPS to someone's car, so that an individual's movement can be monitored.  The increase of cameras in public places, use of drones for police work, checkpoints and stop-and-frisk are various ways that the State already has been monitoring us, invading our privacy.

With technology, the State is able to track everywhere we go, know who we communicate with and for how long.  Again, this is taking those who are monitoring us at their word - that they are not listening to, reading or storing the contents of all those various types of communication.

With that ever-present eye of Big Brother, let's put this issue into context.  Through the various programs, even at the benign level its defenders try to portray it as, is no different in observation than a police officer trailing you, taking notes about where you go, who you talked to, for how long.  The corollary of that is the web of connections inherent in social networks and relationships - who did the one you talked to, talk to?-what about those they talked to?-and so on.

Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to trail you, monitor you, collect your metadata, even if the contents were not captured?  Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to enter your house and catalogue your possessions?  Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to answer the phone for you, to get who you were speaking to, who you were calling, as well as reading your mail before you send or receive it?  Yes, a warrant would be required.

Just because we do not see Officer Friendly camping out in our yards, handing us our mail or our phones does not mean there is any difference between what that would be, and what the NSA is doing.  The data being gathered is being held onto by the government, stored for later use.  The State will look into their database to see who you spoke to, when, how long and the network of who they spoke with, and so on.

Here is where defenders of the invasion decry 'If you don't have anything to hide, then you shouldn't care.' 

This foolish statement gets offered regularly by those who think that security can be purchased at the cost of liberty - after all, if you want to be secure, you shouldn't mind the State invading your privacy because it is for the 'greater good,' that is to combat terrorism.

No, it isn't.

Those people who make such a statement fail to understand the nature of principle, focusing only on the concrete example before them - of that concrete before them, just a small part, not the whole - selective attention and self-imposed blinders.

Through the acceptance of the specific act, the principle that is set is the violation of liberty for the greater good, of those who have done no wrong, violated no rights and are not conspiring to do so.  'It's just a little encroachment,' nothing more.  After all, the laws are there to protect us.

Keep in mind how vastly laws are different or can change from state to state, not to mention Federal law is an ever-expanding mass of legal forms in the way the State may use of force to make citizens capitulate.  How do lawmakers stay busy?-they pass more laws.  We don't need any more of an example of how grossly the State may change its ambiguous stance on a position than to look at then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's corrupt statement: We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.

Terrorism itself is ambiguous - a helpful characteristic for the State to use the term to punish those deemed troublemakers, or to avoid using for pragmatic political purposes. 

Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 people and attempted to murder many more.  Prior to his murder spree, he had prompted investigation by the FBI for communication with one the State had formally declared a terrorist; Hasan chanted 'Allahu Akbar!' as he continued murdering.  Hasan's murder spree was deemed as 'workplace violence.'

Brandon Raub, a marine who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, posted comments - including song lyrics - on his Facebook page that were critical of the government; he was detained and placed in a mental institution, being deemed dangerous, needing immediate mental help.  He did not violate anyone's rights.

Senator John McCain advised that the US is also a battlefield.  Such a pronouncement makes it so we all are potential enemy combatants, and enemy combatants do not get rights. It is an excuse to say that the content may be monitored.  It is just the step beyond what Raub already experienced.

Combine the database, the vast social networks permanently linked, along with the selective implementation and finish the concoction with those in the government trying to show how busy and productive they are by passing new laws and see how the government will be able to look back: who was your doctor?-what kind of doctor was he, and did he change his specialty?-what other doctors did you talk to and when?  Did you speak to a gun dealer?-what about someone who knows a gun dealer?  Did you post something critical of the government?-do you know someone who posted something critical of the government?  It may not be critical now, but when a new administration comes in that takes over usage of the database, did you state anything that the new rulers do not like?

The IRS is going to be invested in healthcare; states have passed laws legalizing (to varying extents) marijuana - that the Federal government does not observe; states have different laws regarding how one may own different types of firearms; abortion laws are always under review to be changed.  Have an opinion on any of those issues?  Know people who have opinions about those issues?  Those connections will end up in the database - if not more than just connections.

At the defenders' own words, the system tracks when, how, for how long those communications existed.  Those who are critical of the system (including whistleblowers) state that more detailed data are tracked - contents.

Even at the best case scenario that the defenders try to paint on the invasion of privacy - or as they prefer to call it, just data mining - it does not take away that the illusion of non-intrusion, of not having an actual officer present collecting the data, by its nature sets the principle that without having specific reasonable suspicion and probable cause that the State can interject itself into our lives. 

It does all this without preventing what it was supposed to prevent: forewarned by others, both Hasan's Fort Hood shootings and the Boston bombings were not prevented though the NSA's program was in place.

The State (meaning those composing the government) will do what it wants, when it wants, and how it wants, without our knowledge or consent; the programs were created as such in the first place.

This is the ever-present eye of Big Brother making sure the people are obedient.  With the threat of force, the State passes laws dictating what we may and may not do; with expanding surveillance, we are being watched to make sure we remain obedient.  Making people obedient, removing the options from someone takes away the rational part of the rational animal leaving just an animal, like a sheep; a Shepard keeps his flock safe from predators, but also fleeces all, while even slaughtering some in the herd.

Who is watching you, and for what reason?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Government is NOT the problem - do not mistake the effect for the cause



There is a problem, but the problem is not the government. 

Let us not mistake the effect for the cause.

The oft repeated quote of Ronald Reagan "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem" is currently contrasted to Barak Obama's various goals, regulations, laws and the rest whereby income distribution, healthcare, green energy among other things are to be modified by government to ensure 'fairness' and that people are provided for (How well Reagan followed his own words and that Obama and his administration is not the only administration to push government as the answer will not the focus in this article.)

If we combine the two points of view, we will come to the real issue that needs to be addressed: Reagan's admonition was the criticism of the sign of the sickness that gives rise to Obama's virulent programs.  Government is not the problem; it is the result of the problem. 

The problem is multilayered: the belief that in some legal form we are 'our brother's keeper' and equally, they are our keeper; that democracy, majority rule, can override moral and economic principles; that there should be a legal base to have categories of people and treat them different legally; that it is proper to use force to make individuals conform to the will/whim of the authorities, whether those authorities are the collective, or the representatives of that collective.

On being our brother's keeper:
The very notion of welfare (corporate and individual) as well as Obamacare and all healthcare permutations (Medicare, Medicaid, et cetera) is that someone is suffering, so the government must step in and help those who need it.

On majority rule overruling principles:
This ranges over the various areas of life whereby it is deemed 'the majority willed it, so all must follow'.  Defenders of such a policy (when their side wins) are quick to decry that in politics 'to the victor go the spoils', though they are quick to contest and protest the results as invalid if their side did not win.  The 'spoils' are not necessarily a specific good, but more importantly the legal use of force to implement a plan, an agenda. 

Two things not answered by majority apologists, since they are quick to defend their vague quantitative measure for 'majority rule'; 1) at what point does the majority overrule individual rights?- 2) how does the majority deciding 2+2=5 make it so?  Examples include: gun control and abortion - at what point is the majority a majority enough to dictate the options to the minority?  More examples include: Obamacare, taxes and subsidies - how much of a majority is needed to overrule the law of supply and demand, ignore the punishing presence of taxes, and the how the otherwise unworthy will flourish when the State/government takes from the sufficient and gives to the insufficient?

On legal classism:
There are only two questions the government should be able to ask for census data: 1) are you alive? - 2) are you legally an adult?  Anything beyond those questions is the beginning on legal classism.  Legal classism is when two groups are categorized, made distinct from one another, in order for one of them to get some form of a legal benefit or punishment; subsidy or tax; permit or license fee. 

Classism is a pragmatic tactic; it is done for an end, whether it is to spur or stifle a given behavior. 

Want to promote 'clean air'?-create 'green' companies and policies that get subsidies, while pushing new taxes and fees to those companies that are not green.  Want to push 'healthy behaviors'?-create 'sin' taxes, and legislate away or limit smoking, sugar, salt, alcohol et al.  Want to get elected?-divide the people along socioeconomic status lines and pit them against each other; there are fewer 'rich' (a relative term for many poor in America would be considered rich elsewhere on Earth), so as a numbers game, it pragmatically pays off. 

However, any form of classism, in embracing a pragmatic end, also embraces a principle: there is to be legal distinction between groups based on a given characteristic.  With one application, the principle has been set and another group wants to emerge and have its boon to be received.  Have a subsidy for corn?-why not wheat, cotton, soybean, rice, et al?  (They each are now subsidized, but there are other crops that are not.)  Does one group have 'too much wealth'?-take some of it away to give to others… who voted for the transfer from the other group to their own.

On legal use of force to make people conform:
The government has the legal use of force initiation, through (only after) due process as in the pursuit and apprehension of a criminal (and properly, should only be after someone's rights were violated - outside of that, what this article addresses).  Everyone has the right to use force in self-defense.  The issue here is in the lack of violating another's rights, the use of force to make people obey the dictates of the law. 

It does not matter the end: whether it is for the forced one's 'own good' or for the forcer's benefit (or the one who hired the forcer - a special interest - under the guise of the 'greater good').  From speed limits, prohibition, caloric restrictions, concealed-carry laws as for our own good, to for the forcer's (or for who the forcer is a proxy of) benefit such as legal requirements of accreditation, licensing fees/permits and union laws.  The goal is to make the chosen ones the only options, keeping others out.

Obama's crown jewel piece of legislation (like the re-ratification of the Patriot Act, passed by both Republicans and Democrats, or similar plans like Romneycare) Obamacare crosses all aspects of the problem: we are each others' keeper, majority opinion overrules principles, legal classism and the use of force to make people obey.  The nature of Obamacare and its creation and implementation has the following: that there are some people suffering; everyone must by the force of law be made to support the suffering group; that can only be done after legal classes have been defined (the haves and have-nots); implemented regardless that adding millions more to the demand, and not increasing supply is supposed to make health care (actually medical care) more available and cheaper, and is placed upon all whether it is wanted or not by each individual.

The problem is the idea itself that government can be turned to in order to resolve individual and social issues.  Life involves constant struggle in small and large forms: food, shelter, healthcare and many other goods each require investment of money, material and labor; there are those who are ignorant, incongruent, or knowingly biased and prejudicial but see it as part of their belief system: the 'other' ethnicity, or women, or homosexuals are inferior.  There is no legislation that can be passed that can override the fact of production of limited goods, using limited resources, just as there is no law that can be voted on that will make people think critically, empathize or feel compassion.  There is no way that any governing body can guarantee bounty, and avoid risk for anyone.  Those who offer such protection and safety only can claim such boons, while what they do is nothing more than 'legally' steal from one to give or pay for another.

None of this takes away from our individual preference to categorize, to classify according to our preferences - weighing, valuing, judging and choosing is a great part of what it is to be human.  Having the government make our choices for us by legal restrictions removes in small or great parts through each law passed, a piece of our ability to act as humans.

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.  Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington.

Government is not the problem; it is the sign of the problem.  The problem is the notion that the government should be turned to in order to resolve individual and social issues, forcing all of us to obey.  The answer to the problem is free people interacting freely.  Will the perfect option be chosen every time?-no.  But it will be chosen more often, and adopted to more quickly than the mandated error of slow legislation of government that carries with it the legal force of the State behind it.  That is the pragmatic concern.  Morally, only free choice can lead to moral decisions.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Crisis - Making the Exception the Rule




"You never let a serious crisis go to waste.  And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." - Rahm Emanuel

He is not the first to have such a thought, but he is one of the most recognized in saying it.

What is the nature of a crisis?  A crisis is an unstable interruption in what was taken as the normal flow of things in life/society - generally before all the facts are known.  If we apply Rahm's admonition with the nature of a crisis in mind, we can see the emphasis of emotionalism.  What was known has changed and with that decreased rationalism, to sate fears of the public, a crafty politician may 'do things you think you could not do before'.

Fears trump facts.

What catches our attention as a crisis?  As a disruption of a perceived norm, a crisis is displayed anecdotally with an emphasis on the example being used becoming the new norm. 

'This one case happened, and will happen to us all unless we act'. 

In the rush to act emotionally, the 'noble goals' (that are amorphous and vague) are focused upon, while the real intent is the means, the implementation and methodology, used to assuage the problem, reach the goal.

The 'crisis' moment is truly twofold: one, the actual crisis event - that part is the obvious and seen part; the more dangerous and insidious part is 2) the crisis-response advanced by those crafty politicians who want to use part one to push their agenda.  Part one is temporary; part two is lasting.

Crisis moments are advanced in numerous fields, for the areas where the government may interject itself will match - politicians will try to make it match - every endeavor that humanity tries to branch out into, or may interact with.

One example includes Global Warming, once called Global Cooling, but as it has been fluctuating again is 'Climate Change'… a tautological definition.  Has the planet been warming or cooling?-both.  What can we do about it?  The nature of what is actually happening and what can be done depends on operational definitions.  However, that doesn't remove politicians from trying to implement new laws and taxes upon the people in order to 'combat' Climate Change.  Crisis: the planet is dying; emotional reaction: we can fight it if we just try.  That the facts are not laid out, or the specific plans on how one would fight Climate Change: what is the cause; how much does humanity contribute; how much do those who will be impacted by the law contribute; what will be the cost and benefit; are there better plans?

Those questions don't matter, as Hillary Clinton said "Never waste a good crisis… Don't waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security."  The veracity of Climate change is secondary; the agenda is prepotent.

After the attacks of 9-11[-11], there was an influx of emotional reaction, and appropriately so - to an extent.  However, what has come from the attacks show the triumph of emotionalism over rationalism in legislation.  The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism [USA PATRIOT] Act has many lofty goals, among them: strengthening U.S. measures to detect, prevent and prosecute financing of terrorism; establishing secure networks; enhancing domestic security against terrorism.  However, what is needed (is being used and expanded upon) in methodology for implementation shows what a more rational mind would have refused to sign: vast new bureaucracies, warrantless surveillance and searches, arrest and detainment without charge - even assassination.

Healthcare was another crisis through which Obamacare, and various other laws were enacted.  Stories of sick mothers and children filled the airwaves as politicians bandied about to gather support for enacting new legislation.  Emotionalism: there are sick people who need our help.  There is an 'obesity crisis'; here's Michael Bloomberg and "We're not taking away anybody's right to do things, we're simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision…"  At least he used the correct term 'forcing' for it isn't a recommendation when the State passes a law: it is a legal order with punishments for violating it.  Pelosi has the most infamous, and dangerous statement with "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." 

Think on what she said.  As the Speaker of the House, leader of those who write the laws - legal commandments that carry the legal use of force by the State - she said that we'll find out what it was they passed when the police can legally use force against us.

Agenda first.

Is anecdotal evidence ever valid for passing a law?-it can be.  What is needed to be examined is the congruence of what is being advanced with the story used as representation of why a thing is being advanced.

With the murders at Sandy Hook the gun control debate has come to the fore again.  Cries of how new laws are needed to prevent such attacks are heard from various sources: bans on certain guns, bans on 'high-capacity' magazines, more extensive background checks, licensing of guns as well as restricting who may purchase firearms.  How good of an example does Adam Lanza's murder of all those at Sandy Hook make for gun control?  It makes for a poor example for how gun control would have saved those lives.  The weapon used was legally purchased and owned; the owner (Lanza's own mother) was killed, and the weapon was stolen.  He fired 154 bullets in less than five minutes, using a weapon that had 30-round magazines.  With practice, anyone can change a magazine in just one second; without practice, it can take a couple seconds; 154 bullets could still be fired within five minutes with low-capacity magazines - it will only take more magazines.

Another example of gun violence that supports what was being advanced in legislation was the massacre of Luby's diner where 24 were murdered; the murderer crashed his truck through the building and then methodically walked about executing his victims.  Suzanna Gratia Hupp's parents were among the victims; she herself would have been as well, but she escaped.  Where this story is a good example in how it represents a change in legislation is in that Suzanna was armed - she was carrying a pistol.  However, to be a law-abiding citizen, as there was a law preventing her from bringing her pistol inside the building with her, she left it in her car and was unarmed as her would-be, and her parents' murderer, walked about killing his victims.

The Lanza case does not support the new restrictions on guns for everything was legal until he murdered his mother, took her weapon and fired it in a manner that low-capacity magazines could match.  The Hupp case does support the removal of gun restrictions by that if she didn't have to break the law (have the threat of legal punishment) to carry her pistol to protect herself, she could have fought back - [having her gun] "Sure as heck would have changed the odds" - Suzanna Hupp.  The Lanza case would not have been changed with new laws; the laws being changed to allow Hupp to carry her pistol in her situation would have also given the victims at Sandy Hook a chance by one who was armed having a chance at firing back at Lanza.  Jacob Tyler Roberts is an example where would-be shooter Roberts did murder two, but was stopped when confronted by armed citizen Nick Meli.

Crafty politicians don't want you to be self-sufficient and able to defend yourselves; they want you to come to them for help.  Trusting people to fight for themselves against those who want to do ill, doesn't benefit a politician; acting as a guardian who will protect your family, and the children gets people on the politician's side.  Emotionalism of fear-stoking is the bait, regulations and laws are the leash and the State is the master holding the leash.

The seen crisis is the break, the change.  The seen is finite in its scope; the unseen crisis is worse in its scope.  The seen is short-term; the unseen is long-term.  The seen is local; the unseen is widespread.  The seen, being an anomaly burns itself out after it's done; the unseen crisis remains in laws that have legal punishments long after the seen crisis burnt itself out.  

The unseen crisis is the result: the State dictating what we can or cannot do (allowances not just on 'sins' but on ounces of soda, and calorie counts), what we cannot or must buy (taxes, licenses, Obamacare and subsidies), with what or how we may defend ourselves (gun control), and loss of Constitutional rights (liberty, privacy and even life).  Each of these State intrusions upon our lives are done to remedy a crisis of some sort - all for the 'greater good' - all to make us supplicants to the State.

If we are to save ourselves, then it is to us to keep our emotionalism coupled with rationalism - not to loose one, but give each their place.  Emotionalism belongs in private life of an individual, not the public life of the State; rationalism belongs in individual life, and should be the only guiding factor in the public life of the State.  Emotions fluctuate; principles do not.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Actually Paying the National Debt



Numbers never lie, but they can be used to misrepresent.  Even if with a clear definition, numbers may be unfathomable: how big (or small) is a quark?-how long (or short) is a unit of Planck time?  How could one actually write out the numbers in a googolplex? 

On a more practical level for most people, let us look at money and more specifically imagine actually setting a schedule to pay off the national debt (as it stands now) at a mere 3% interest rate, to be paid off in 30 years:
$16,500,000,000,000 debt
$8,543,280,000,000 total interest
$25,043,280,000,000 total paid
$69,565,000,000 in 360 monthly payments

There is a point when numbers can become so large, that they no longer seem real.  Picture an egg, and it is an easy task.  Now picture two eggs, and it is still an easy task.  Continue to add eggs so there are three, four, five, a dozen - even a dozen can be pictured without too much difficulty for we're used to a dozen as a marketable, and a grouped amount even though it is composed of 12 units. 

The normal amount that we humans can track in individual units is 7 +/-2.  We're still physical entities (organisms), and have necessary biological and cognitive limitations.  This affects man and animal, for even crows have been found to be able to count to three.

What happens when what we're supposed to be paying attention to goes beyond those seven individual units, or goes beyond such understandable groups?-how many measure in Plancks?  

Try and picture 1,651 individual eggs, or picture the units that compose a million, and then how to transport them.  Those individual units cannot be visualized; they can be theoretically understood, but not seen.  (Theoretically here to simply mean though a definition may be clear, the actual amount may be different, such as an operational definition of 1,651 eggs for a shipment may be definite, but counting them to fill that definition - how many were missed, double-counted or broken may not be considered and reflect the actual amount). 

How much space do 1,651 eggs fill?-how much do they weigh?-how can that mass be transported?  It's possible for one who deals with eggs en masse to be able to answer those questions and use logistics to ship the eggs about, while minimizing loss.  For those who don't have such experience with eggs, we can only guess.  And that is with only 1,651 eggs - how would we deal with a million eggs?-what about more than a million eggs?

Let us now change the focus from eggs to something that affects us all: money.  Going to a fast food restaurant to use a dollar to buy something, and we can easily see the single dollar and the item we are buying.  If we go to the store to buy a book, we can see the number of bills exchanging hands, though it is becoming more difficult to visualize individual bills - that's why we have other denominations and not just singles, like in the way we have a dozen for eggs.  As we continue to get larger purchases, the individual units of money are lost and we return to theoretical units that we do not count individually for we know what they represent: hundreds, thousands etc.  (Theoretically, money is supposed to represent a stable value).

To further confound things, we don't just buy eggs, but also kitchen furnishings to store the eggs and cook them, living and dining room furniture to eat and relax in, bedroom furniture to sleep in, clothes to wear, cars to drive about, a continuous supply of food to sustain ourselves and families, and we pay bills to keep water and electricity, among the multitudinous factors that require money that we continue to need to earn to pay for things. 

Is each and every individual unit present and accounted for?  If you were good enough to count what you touched (not skipping or double-counting), what about those who also have an effect, whether a spouse, other family member or business partner?-can the same be said for every single unit they touched?-what about when you or them are rushed, sick or are multitasking?

Now, let us look at earning and more in particular spending - not just our family, but the country as a whole.  While we consider earning and spending, let us keep in mind the time and scope: decades, and across millions of people (billions if we consider foreign entanglements).  Earning is part of the issue, but the greater issue is the spending; that is why we have a debt - we (we here referring to the State) spend more than we take in. 

(The [im]morality of State actions is a valid concern, for another article).

The issue is then further compounded by blending the duration with the millions affected as well as political promises being offered that increases the amount of spending from an undefined spigot.  Some of the spending is legitimate and according to what the State should be doing, and some of it is not legitimate; the difference between national defense and nation-building or policing the world.  Some of the spending on some people is proper, and some of it isn't; the difference between giving people back their money that was taken (a process that needs to be stopped, such as returning one's income tax) and welfare (corporate or individual).

Let us return to the first numbers: a snapshot of the debt under the fanciful idea that the debt would not increase.  Again, at the improbable 3% interest rate with the goal of actually paying off the debt over 30 years (like a home loan), the results would be:
$16,500,000,000,000 as an initial loan (debt)
$8,543,280,000,000 total interest charged on the loan
$25,043,280,000,000 total paid of principle and interest
$69,565,000,000 each month for a total of 360 monthly payments

If the percentage rate increased, say to 6%, the results would be:
$19,113,301,000,000 total interest charged on the loan
$35,613,301,000,000 total paid of principle and interest
$98,926,000,000 each month for a total of 360 monthly payments

These numbers are TRILLIONS of dollars in loans and interest paid, with approaching $100 BILLION paid monthly.  This is if the debt doesn't increase from the current $16.5 trillion that it is, and doesn't include unfunded liabilities that raise the total debt over $100 TRILLION.

We now return to the numbers deception - the seemingly 'unreal' numbers that have very real consequences.  The deception happens in two ways: 1) by dismissing the amount that a thing starts out as, or how much a thing increases, such as the top income tax rate when the income tax was created, was 7% and is now in the 30s; 2) by dealing with numbers so large that people will not be able to fully comprehend the amounts, such as the thousands of pages of tax code and the numerous exceptions and qualifications for those exceptions.  If anyone does have a concern, they themselves can be disregarded through ad hominem for having those concerns about the spending when the costs tomorrow are to be ignored in favor of gains today - if one isn't for Obamacare it's because they 'want people to suffer.'

There is no way to pay the debt.  If it was just $16.5 trillion now, and we would not increase it, we would pay between $25 & $35 trillion.  The debt limit has been raised before, and there are talks about raising it again.  This is all on top of the unfunded liabilities, and continued political promises of more.

The debt amount isn't the only thing to consider, for the debt grew to what it has become for a reason.  From the 'small' amounts that some pay, to the small amounts that everyone expects; from the small-scale actions of repressing a dictator at one area, to bolstering an entire country elsewhere; from handing out money to the single mother who refuses to get a job, to the corporate executive who refuses to let his company take the loss from his mismanagement for his company being 'too big to fail', and the ever-increasing amount that all of it adds up to, it only adds to the height the whole economy will have to crash from.

Our crash is coming; our debt is unsustainable and is not payable.  However, we can prepare for the crash and protect against it returning - at least in our lifetimes.

We must not let those who want to rule deceive us with the small changes, or discount the large numbers.  Even if we don't know what the consequences are, their effects are still felt; gravity and thermodynamics were every bit as efficacious before our ignorance of them was removed.  Removing our ignorance and naiveté leaves us in a better position after the correction to not let those who want to bribe us with our own funds convince us they know better, that they can override economics, or that it will only be a small piece that they will take, or allow them to guilt us into following their path as the only way to help.  Their way isn't the only way, and is likely one of the worst ways for in a small step the whole process will begin again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On Gun Control



What is the debate about?-some say different things: who is allowed to use deadly force, the individual or the State?-getting guns out of society, and protecting the innocent (especially children)?-the depth of control allowed to the people by the State in what weapons they may have?-other aspects of gun control?

Regardless of any of the questions, there are two facts of identity to be considered: 1) any removing of a firearm from an individual is the beginning of removing his ability to defend himself; 2) that banning (or controlling) firearms is a legalism and will not actually prevent their [mis]use.  The two points are also related, but come from different angles.

On point one, who will be harmed by such control?  The one who would be harmed by such a law of gun control is the one who would obey such a law.  Harm comes directly in that individual is letting a third party (a legislature) limit the means that the individual may use in self-defense; harm comes indirectly for to violate the law to defend himself, he has violated the law and has to be concerned about being criminally charged.

For self-defense, proponents of gun control say call the police - this follows the assumptions of one having the means to call, and that the police will be present to help.  Problems with these assumptions entail further assumptions that one has a cell phone, has a strong signal and isn't having that signal interfered with, the battery is not dead, and one has the physical capability to make the call and complete it - isn't being interfered with by the one making the 911 call necessary, along with the assumption that the police will be able to arrive and assist before greater harm is caused by the one who is necessitating the call.

On point two, it is the assumption that control will prevent criminals from using firearms and accidents from happening.  Firstly, what makes a criminal a criminal?-he is breaking the law.  So, with that would passing another law suddenly make it so he will become a law-abiding citizen?-no.  Expanding the reach of the law into areas where it goes beyond 'no victim, no crime' into banning firearms then places honest individuals in Bastiat's quandary: what to do when moral law conflicts with legislative law?  To be law-abiding when guns are banned is to make one more vulnerable; to own (for protection) a firearm that was banned is to break the law.  It places on an equal legal level the parent wanting to protect the family with the robber who would harm them; it places the woman who wants to protect herself on the same legal level of the rapist who wants to violate her.

Gun control proponents then decry that if all guns were banned, then criminals would not even be able to have those weapons to be used in crimes.  That is false, and the list of examples is long: colossal failures in prohibition and the war on drugs, to the less vast, but nonetheless real as in nearly totally controlled environments [prisons], inmates can still get drugs, and just like the rest of society, contraband exists everywhere (depending on location) from drugs, to music, to books and more.  Contraband always finds its way for there is desire and laws cannot prevent desire.

With respect to accidents: the nature of an accident is that it is an unintended, rare occurrence.  There is no law that can prevent the accidental.  Laws may set up punishments for the consequences of accidents, but it can no more prevent accidents than it can prevent people from intentionally getting contraband.  (More on this later).

The nature of a weapon is to more efficiently use force against an opponent; this is the same principle whether the opponent is an individual or a collective - even the State.  Without a weapon, a an average-sized woman targeted by two powerful rapists in a van is nearly helpless; with a firearm (handgun) she has a great chance of negating, and overcoming her would-be rapists' physical might.  Without a weapon, the merchant who is being mobbed by dozens, is nearly helpless to the mob; with a firearm ('assault' rifle), that merchant has a chance of keeping the mob at bay.  Without weapons, the people who wish to be free, have to settle for what those who lead the State may allow; with weapons, the people can tell the State what its power is to be extended to, and not beyond.

The aforementioned is the difference between Linda Smith (pseudonym for an Oklahoma woman who killed one and wounded another would-be rapist), and being Shirley Lynette Ledford (raped, tortured and murdered by two men); the difference between gangs or mobs looting and leaving some Indian families destitute, and the Korean merchants who held off the mob during the L.A. Riots; the difference between the Jews in the ghettos before being led to the camps, and those following the Bielski brothers.

Having a firearm doesn't guarantee success, but it gives the would-be victim a fighting chance of not becoming a victim.  Like the first examples, without means of defense one is more easily victimized; with a means of defense, one can fight back and have a chance at not being a victim.

The issue about firearms comes down to use, and efforts to prevent improper usage.  Let's extend this principle of controlling things since those things may be misused.  Automobiles may kill thousands a year; some deaths can be attributed to intentional vehicular homicide, but others were accidental.  With that, shall we place a new ban on how fast people can drive, how fast manufacturers can create a vehicle to go, and have extensive checks on who can own and operate a vehicle?  Some people are obese from overeating, shall we place bans on what everyone can eat, and monitor everyone's eating habits?  More people are murdered yearly by silent weapons (clubs, bats, hammers, knives, etc) than are killed by firearms; shall we have background checks at hardware and sports stores?  About the children, shall we extend State monitoring to everyone's lives, as well as authorize who can be a parent and approve parenting styles, to protect the children?

Some will decry: but guns sole purpose is to kill something! 

My response to that is: no, guns sole purpose is to shoot.  But, even if it was to kill… so?

The purpose of a knife is to cut, it is up to the wielder on if, or how it cuts; the purpose of a hammer is to hammer, it is up to the wielder on what gets hammered; the purpose of a firearm is to shoot something, it is up to the wielder whether that is a competitive target, live game or a human being - a human being can be a target by both a victimizer and a victim, that is a firearm can be used as an assault weapon to violate another's rights, or defend those rights.  This is for when the victimizer is an individual, or a collective - like the State.

There is to way around the issue of gun control and its corollaries; it leaves those who want to be law-abiding with less defense, and has the false assumption that banning will prevent criminals from getting guns.  Combine those two points and you will have citizens who are less able to defend themselves against those who know that their prey lacks teeth and claws - whether the aggressor is an individual or the State.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Metaphysics (a Sonnet in The Gospel of Reason)



Exactly why, does he, mankind, exist?
From where did life, and order, formulate?
And, how – without a cause, nothing to list;
Did all the Universe come from that state?

Is Nature fated? – did it have to be?
No plans, no script, just forces manifest;
Not cruel, nor mean, with no affinity.
Objective rules are learned from interest.

The other choice: a primal Creator;
The being living in vacuity.
But how did He, with nothingness before;
Beget the stars, all else? – His nascency?

The answer, Nature versus God, sublime;
There is no doubt that one has been all time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Perspective on an Advanced Idea: Foreign Policy and Blowback



An often repeated saying on why we're being attacked is: they hate us for our freedom.  Let us look at that, analogously. 

In a neighborhood there are families with different beliefs and cultural norms: some families may deny the women in their households the options of self-determination, while other families allow it; some families state there are topics forbidden to talk about, while others freely talk about anything.  There are of course many other aspects where families may disagree with one another.  Disagreements may emerge, but if those disagreements are only verbal there is not actual violence between the families, regardless of the animosity.

Not all cultures are equal, and the more liberty a culture has, the better it is enabling each individual to pursue the highest human potential and from that individual achievement, benefit the rest as a consequence.  This will be a source for continuing debate amongst the families, but again as long as words are used, there are no acts of violence.

Let's get beyond disagreement in words: say there was a troublesome raccoon in the neighbor's yard and we our sent our 'family pet', a guard dog out from our yard to get the raccoon and in doing so the dog injured the neighbor's children, killed their cat and tore up their yard.  Our neighbors would be upset.  If our response to their being upset was simply dismissing injured child, dead cat and destroyed property as collateral damage since the dog was trying to kill a raccoon that was hiding in a bush on their property - that'd be little comfort to them.  We'll give our neighbors an extreme sense of patience and say though they were angry, they 'understood' our goal and asked us to be more careful and control our dog.  However, after getting the one raccoon we saw another raccoon and we advised the neighbor that we'll keep sending our dog over to try and get the 'new' raccoon - a 'war on raccoons' and in that war our dog hurt more of their children, killed more of their pets and tore up their property.

Let's also add some other 'neighborly' actions such as propping up more distant neighbors around the neighbor with the raccoon; these distant neighbors try and beat the one with the raccoon into submission.  Our last 'neighborly' action is trying to get them to submit to our will directly by sabotaging their property, denying them electricity and water.

We are no longer having a verbal disagreement with our neighbor, but are actually destroying their property and putting their family at risk. 

Let's get out of the analogy and put this into perspective.

Just from drone strikes in Pakistan the civilian death count in the past few years range from near 500 to near 2,000 (US and Pakistani reported stats); injuries of course are much higher; men, women and children are among the victims with civilian deaths accounting from 50-80% (US and Pakistani reported stats).  Other areas being targeted by drone strikes include Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and Somalia.

As far as propping up one neighbor to rule over another, there was Mubarak being assisted in his rule in Egypt, as well as the Iranian Shah resulting in the oppression of the people of those respective countries.  Sanctions are cutting off the resources to the family, i.e. country.

If our neighbor was sending their dog into our yard and it killed our pets, harmed our children and tore up our property, would we be upset?  Beyond the analogy, this isn't about pets being killed - it's about men, women and children being killed.  We were appropriately angry with thousands of Americans being killed; is it reasonable to think that those in another country are not angry with hundreds, or even thousands of their people being killed?  Would the killing of those civilians, and especially children, spur the people in those countries to fight back? 

How about if they were propping up someone else who tried to overthrow us, or cutoff our ability to get our resources?-sanctions upon us.  This has been done, or is being done to them - would that spur them to fight back?

If war is needed, we have a process for it and it isn't at the whim of an individual politician who wants to get re-elected, but from the deliberation and vote of the entire Congress to approve war with a specific enemy, plan of action and exit plan - not the amorphous, never-ending 'war on terror'.  Afterward, the war is to be swiftly fought to not keep our soldiers in harm's way, to not continually bolster the resolution against them and not place great war costs on the taxpayers.

This plan of drone strikes (as an extension of the 'war on terror') is unconstitutional and a long-term action.  The Times Square bomber was foiled, as was the 'underwear' bomber in the plane; however, imagine if they succeeded and we had similar attacks periodically for years.  How would we feel and how would we respond?  We'd steel our resolve against, and then want to attack those who were perpetrating those attacks.  It wouldn't be about the beliefs of those attacking us - whether or not they embraced freedom or oppression - it would be about their attacking us, killing our citizens.

Our presence is unneeded all across the planet, does not benefit us and our actions of 'spreading democracy' do not help but actually harm our cause.  If we want to assist in the spread of liberty, it is by example for to force liberty defeats the purpose; liberty cannot be forced, but embraced.  Forced liberty is an oxymoron. 

Through peaceful interactions, our example will spur the people to assert their own self-determination and get rid of the oppression forced upon them.  Malala Yousufzai is an example of the individual standing against oppression as she is an adolescent standing against a theocracy denying her ability to get educated; she was attacked, shot twice for her opposition, but she survived.  The way the people in her country are embracing her and condemning her attackers shows how the people can direct themselves - if they only have the courage and example.  Imagine if Malala was killed by a drone strike; her spark trying to illuminate the darkness of theocratic oppression would be out, while her blood would bolster the people against those controlling the drones that killed her.

If our message of peace and liberty comes repeatedly with a bomb killing civilians, then there is not a message of peace and liberty, but a message of oppression and death.