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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why do people want money?

Answer: Because they can buy stuff with it.

Rebuttal: that's just circular reasoning. "Circular reasoning is often of the form: 'A is true because B is true; B is true because A is true.'" So people want money because they can buy stuff from other people with it, and they can buy stuff from other people with it because other people want money? That's the dumbest thing I ever heard! The truth is that today's currency is fiat money. It's valuable because the government that prints it says it's valuable.
Most of the world’s money is called fiat money, meaning it is accepted as money because a government says that it’s legal tender, and the public has enough confidence and faith in the money’s ability to serve as a storage medium for purchasing power.

A fiat system is based on a government’s mandate that the paper currency it prints is legal tender for making financial transactions. Legal tender means that the money is backed by the full faith and credit of the government that issues it. In other words, the government promises to be good for it.
This explanation assures us that our government promises to be "good for it." So, by that explanation we can conclude that money is a debt incurred by the issuing nation to the owner of the currency? Fine, I want to redeem the debt that the USA has incurred. I'll turn in my dollars tomorrow. The USA is good for it right? I'll suppose I'll take gold bullion. That's the most transportable right?
One of the long-standing myths about modern currency is that it is backed by the U.S. gold supply in Fort Knox. That is, you can trade your greenback dollars to the U.S. government for the equivalent amount of gold bullion at any time.

At one point, this was true of most paper currencies in the world. However, the U.S. took away the government backing of the dollar with an actual gold supply (known as leaving the gold standard) in 1971, and every major international currency has followed suit.

The obvious question is, "Without gold, what does guarantee the value of our money?" The answer is: nothing at all.

The only reason a dollar, or a franc, or a Euro has any value is because we have a stable system in which people are known to accept these pieces of paper in return for something valuable. Or, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman puts it, "the pieces of green paper have value because everybody thinks they have value."
"Gosh!," Jack exclaimed in amazed wonder. So a government says that its fancy paper is valuable and abracadabra it suddenly just is valuable. Well, by that logic why doesn't Obama declare that CO2 is valuable and then everyone will hold their breath ... global warming, unemployment, poverty, saving the whales ... problem solved solved solved and solved!

Obama's Not So Secret Betrayal

How does Obama make decisions? It's really simple actually. He asks one basic question, Will the proposed action help America, or will it harm America? If the answer is [help America] he hinders the plan. Keystone XL Pipeline. If the proposed action will do harm to America, then Obama helps it along. Ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.

Imagine refugees from the now defunct USSR or East Berlin being sent back to their communist oppressors by the nations of the free world. You don't have to imagine it, after World War II America and Great Britain did exactly that!
With the invasion of Western Europe in June 1944, thousands of Russian prisoners fell into the hands of the Allies. Many were forced laborers who had been working on the Atlantic Wall for the Todt Organization. Others were simply refugees. However, the Western Allies were surprised to discover that thousands had willingly joined the Wehrmacht. Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov asserted in May 1944 that the number of Russians serving in the German armed forces was “insignificant.” Actually, approximately one million of Stalin’s subjects had joined the other side.

By late June the British Foreign Office decided to repatriate all Russian POWs, callously disregarding the consequences of such a policy (early in the war Stalin had made it clear that any Soviet citizens who were even temporarily out of Communist control would be regarded as traitors. Official Orders threatened “deserters” and POWs with draconian measures). On June 24, 1944, Patrick Dean, the Assistant Legal Adviser of the Foreign Office, declared: “In due course all those with whom the Soviet authorities desire to deal must … be handed over to them, and we are not concerned with the fact that they may be shot or otherwise more harshly dealt with than they might be under English law.”

Saturday, January 7, 2017

What we have here is a failure to communicate

Even though Tom and Joe both use the same set of words, what they each mean by what they say is so colored by preconceptions, misconceptions and simple inattention that more often than not, what they are saying to each other is heard by the other as something completely different. Tom says, "I love America!" Joe also says, "I love America!" What are they really telling each other?

When Tom says that he loves America he means that he learned America's history and its heritage at the feet of his father, a patriot who willingly joined the Army during the Vietnam war. Tom's father joined the Army knowing that he might soon have to go overseas to an enemy land, and in the process of eventual battles might even be compelled to sacrifice himself if need be, leaving behind forever all the scores of forsaken family and friends he'd ever known, and the scores more he never would, and also leaving behind his own young son, Tom.

Tom's father made his decision to join during the Vietnam war without even really understanding why there was a war. He didn't need to know why there was a war because he trusted America's leaders to be the kind of patriots that he was. Tom's father trusted America to have patriot leaders who truly love what America is, what it represents, and what we all hope it eventually will become.

Tom was taught by his patriot father that at its essence, America is Freedom. It's the freedom to say what you think, the freedom to try and succeed as well as to try and fail. It's the freedom to compete. America is the freedom to be a winner and a loser. America is safety from powerful men with money and guns who would seek to subjugate, confiscate, eliminate, and finely extirpate the very freedom that Tom and his father so rely upon. Tom and his father know that these petty tyrants—these enemies of freedom—really do exist, but they also know that America with its 2nd Amendment guarantees the freedom to own weapons and to be armed in order to protect ourselves and every other American from the evil desires of these tyrants and would-be kings.

Joe also says he loves America. What he doesn't bother to mention, is that he also loves every other country on Earth. Joe knows that every culture and its attendant societies are special in their unique way and each deserve to exist uncontaminated by the provincial thinking and unnecessary protections inscribed within ancient documents like America's Constitution. In the same way that Joe loves an America where all women have the freedom to wear a bikini and attend a University, Joe also loves the completely different sort of freedom found in Saudi Arabia, where women are free to wear a hijab and burqa while staying safely at home, protected from the lustful stares of strange men.

Joe understands one thing more clearly than all the less enlightened hicks and bigots who he so despises. He understands that America is nothing special. It's merely one of many equally valid cultures. Joe believes that going to war to protect one aggressor from another more powerful aggressor is the very definition of arrogance. Who are we to decide who governs whom?

Joe was only taught one thing by his father, never count on your father. Joe was taught by his mother that if you fill out the correct forms and wait long enough in the proper lines, America will eventually give you a place to live and food to eat. What's not to love about that?

Both Joe and Tom love America. Tom loves it for what it is and for what its people can accomplish, and he truly admires its historical heroes, men like George Washington, Patrick Henry, Nathan Hale, Abraham Lincoln, to name just the barest fraction of American heroes waiting their deserved turn to be mentioned. Even though Joe hates America as it is, he loves the idea of the America as he thinks it should be. Joe despises America's income inequality and its constant meddling in foreign affairs. He never tires of pointing out the manifest character flaws he believes are to be found in every single American hero—with the one exception of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of course—who were variously: racists, misogynists, homophobes, transphobes, bigots, and bitter clingers. Most importantly, Joe loves America mainly because of what it does for him every month. He Love-love-loves his EBT-card, section 8 housing, and his ever growing collection of Obama-phones.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Our replacements are already on the drafting board.

Universal Basic Income. Call it what it is. Allowance. You can earn more but you are guaranteed that figure, whatever it happens to be this year. Suppose they set it at $500.00 per month. With a selection of similarly nonproductive UBI recipients, the crowd of you could inhabit an apartment and live in spartan comfort. With six of you drawing $3000.00 per month you could pay the utilities, and even have the very occasional luxury dinner or night out. That—along with my very own communist fantasy UBW (universal band width)—and a commune of sponges like yourselves could while away their days and nights doing nothing at all. Think cows. Think sponges. Think drifting absorbers of nutrients. Even a carrion eater like a maggot or a buzzard is more productive than your sort would be.

I can already hear the naysayers objecting that it wouldn't work, that there aren't and never would be a sufficiently abundant community of productive workers able to afford such a vast horde of layabouts living out their days simply laying about. If it were ten years ago I too would have stated with absolute certainty the impossibility of such a world. After all, who would voluntarily submit to what seems on its face mere slavery? I work. You laze about. No!

Let me ask you a hypothetical question. If you could quit your job today, and yet keep your income with the obligatory yearly cost of living increases, for the rest of your life, would you take it? You take the rest of your life off. Watch TV. See movies. Go on the occasional vacation as finances permit. Spend time with family, grandchildren, cousins uncles aunts, etc. Give that hobby a real go. Play sports, watch sports. Gamble. Learn a new language a musical instrument, ice sculpture, et cetera. ... experience all the thousands of things that a person suddenly freed from a lifetime of labor can experience. Would you take the deal?

If you said no, if you said that that you would rather continue working day in and day out then ... why not stick a broomstick up your bum and sweep the floor as you go about your sanctimonious day.

For the rest of us who would retire today given sufficient funding, what do you think about Finland's social experiment?
Finland has an ambitious New Year's resolution in mind: learn how offering free money for two years helps the unemployed get back to work.

Starting January 1, 2017 and lasting until 2019, the federal social security institution Kela will distribute roughly $590 each month to 2,000 jobless Finns.

Regardless of whether they find work during that period, the money will keep coming in at the beginning of each month — a trial version of basic income, one of the past year's most popular theories of how to solve poverty.

Under universal basic income (UBI), people receive a standard amount of money just for being alive. By handing out the money to everyone, regardless of their income status, UBI advocates say the system prevents people from falling through the cracks.
You say it will never work? Of course it won't. Those who are ambitious and want more than subsistence living will get a job and those who don't won't. In neither case will the substantial monetary outlay change those basic tendencies. In essence, nobody is going to go out and get a job just because you give them a check every month. Intuitively we could certainly intuit the reverse.

UBI isn't just pie in the sky however. What if there were no jobs. What if everything was done not because of humanity, but in spite of it. What if the world went on and we humans became ever more redundant, ever more the unnecessary third wheel? Look at Insurance, transportation, farming, education, etc.

I stopped not because I ran out of things that robots and computers would replace, but because there wasn't anything left that they wouldn't. How could such an automated world exist with humans unless there was such a thing as universal basic income?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

What does the Left want?

Looking at recent history and the disastrous decisions of our current president I was troubled by an unanswered question. What does the left actually want? Obviously they desire the downfall of the United States. That goes without saying. Equally, they desire the triumph of those who oppose success. Every success story must end in misery. Every good deed must be punished. Every vicious troglodyte, hating life itself, must be helped along his way.

Family? Families are a source of strength. People learn language, morals, character, and structure sitting at the dinner table. Get rid of them. Religion? Religion is a source of strength. People learn honesty, integrity, love, and meaning sitting in their pews. Get rid of them. School? Schools teach strength. They teach coping, language, honesty, and meaning. Change them. Let students learn hopelessness, dishonesty, and weakness. If a woman has a baby in her womb, convince her to have it murdered. If a man has a penis, convince him to have it severed. Turn public bathrooms into public theaters where androgynous misanthropes enact their various melodramas. Never let a single person just be content. Poke and prod at us endlessly. Whirl us about from one moment to the next until all we know is confusion and discontent.

If you are a member of the left it makes you happy when things change. "Change is good" is the left's credo. When the rich become poor and the poor become rich, that is good. When gold becomes dross and dross becomes gold, it is good. If the helpless become independent, and those who have always coped become incapable of coping, that is good. Mindless change is good. Change for the sake of changing is good.

The left are crazy people with an obsessive-compulsive disorder that leaves them dissatisfied with every possible status quo. Everything must change, constantly. Everything must move or be moved, constantly.

The culmination of left-wing control would be constant unnecessary change at every possible moment. For instance, if Joe decided to sit down at his table to eat breakfast, a complete stranger would abruptly decide that his table was in the wrong place for breakfast. No! The stranger would abruptly change his mind and decide that the table itself needed to be changed! Would he think it too tall? No too short! The complete stranger would need help making up his mind. This would call for a group-think committee. Several months later, after The Committee To Change Joe's Breakfast Table finished its deliberations, the table would end up sitting on four cinder-blocks while Joe ended up eating the remainder of his breakfast standing up. And may God help the poor soul who decided to take a bath!

Friday, December 2, 2016

It has always been that way

I remember back about twenty years ago, I didn't have a car and so I needed rides to and from work. My grandfather was kind enough to taxi me around. He always turned off the expressway, took a back street and then got back on the expressway a few miles down the road. One day I asked him why he did that. He told me it was because that was how you got there. "But why not stay on the expressway?" "Because you can't get there from here. It's always been this way. The expressway doesn't go anywhere. They haven't finished it yet. Maybe one day they finally will." (They'd finished the expressway a decade earlier.) I stopped questioning the route after that. If somebody has a way of doing things that you think isn't right, you have to first know a better way, and second a way that the person will understand and agree to.

We sometimes question the efficacy of a given procedure. We ask others, family, friends, God, anybody, why. Why? Why does it have to be done like this? Often if they have an answer it's simply that it is done this way because it has always been done this way. Allow me, please, to paint you a portrait of this concept in action. Consider this simple thought experiment:

The monkey cage and the firehose

Imagine that once upon a time there was a zoo. In this zoo was a cage filled with twenty or so chimpanzees. Also in the zoo was a zoo keeper who hated those happy chimps. Who knows why? Maybe he was hit too many times in the face with hunks of chimp poo. Maybe he was bitten. It doesn't matter. Leave it be. Simply believe that he hated those chimps with a single-minded passion that would brook no entreaty with logical concepts such as reason. In addition to this burgeoning obsession, he was also bent ... bent as in twisted emotionally ... perhaps even completely tipped over—as one might say—into stark-raving lunacy. And so, after much thought, hundreds of crumpled pages of doodles—not to mention a never-ending stream of high-pitched teary-eyed giggles—he eventually conceived of his diabolical plan to revenge himself upon these furry demons. He would succeed in torturing these chimps he so hated, from that day and onward into ...forever!

The zoo-keeper brought a hacksaw, rope, a large bunch of bananas to the chimpanzee enclosure. He carefully and with much fussing about cut a hole through the roof of the enclosure so that from the outside, he could lower the bananas down on a rope. The chimps jumped as high as they could, but they weren't even close to reaching those delicious looking bananas. They hooted and hollered for a while, signaling their displeasure at the so close but not close enough temptation. This made the zookeeper smile. Now then, you might think that this, what the zookeeper had done was a small and mean thing to do, but you see, in actuality he had only just begun!

The next day having tortured the hungry chimps with the sight and aroma of fresh bananas for a full day and a night, he attached the zoo's fire hose to a hydrant near the chimpanzee enclosure. Next he took in an A-frame ladder, one tall enough so that a chimpanzee climbing to the top could just reach the bananas. Then he left the enclosure, picked up the nozzle end of the hose and waited.

As sure as night follows day, eventually an enterprising young chimp became interested in the ladder. He grabbed a hold of it and began climbing. Soon enough he reached the top, looked up, and reached out with a hairy hand to grab a fistful of bananas.

"DENIED!" screamed the zoo-keeper as he let that chimp have it with a powerful blast from the fire-hose. "DENIED!" he screamed as he spent ten more minutes torturing every chimp in the enclosure. He rolled them ass over elbow, giggling his teary-eyed high-pitched giggle, as the chimps screamed and hooted and ran pell-mell about, climbing over each other, whimpering, crying a sad chimp cry. Yes the image painted here leaves little doubt that the zoo-keeper truly hated these chimps.

This went on for days. Eventually the chimps stopped climbing the ladder. They'd had enough. The bananas were as far out of reach as the moon in the sky. More out of reach it must be said, because after all you could grab fruitlessly at the moon and not end up being rolled ass over elbow by a maniac with a fire-hose.

So we pause here and consider the situation: cage, chimps, bananas, ladder, hose, and maniac. They were trained these chimps. You seriously DO NOT climb the ladder. Now we get to the truly diabolical part.

The zoo-keeper traded out a chimp. One trained chimp gone. One untrained chimp brought in. What do you suppose happened next? Yes! The new chimp went for the ladder! DENIED! He-He-He-He-He! Angry chimps beat the crap out of the new chimp. The new chimp figured out the deal in record time. Next the zoo-keeper did another trade. DENIED!!! Another chimp brought in. This time as soon as the new chimp set foot on the ladder, the whole troop beat him down without mercy. Trained without a drop of water. If chimps could talk I bet they would be screaming "DENIED!" Another trade. And another. And another. a couple of years later and there wasn't a single chimp left in the cage that had ever been soaked by the crazy zoo-keeper and his fire-hose. But still week after week, as brown bananas were pulled out and fresh bananas lowered down, not one chimp dared climb that ladder. None of them knew why they all still beat the living crap out of any upstart chimp who dared to climb too high. It had always just been that way.

The zoo-keeper allowed the chimps themselves—that he so hated—to exact vicious retribution in perpetuity for whatever crime it was which the original chimp had committed upon the person of the zoo-keeper.

I wrote this because I was trying to illustrate the stupidity inherent in our foreign relations with China and other countries. The news is full of how stupid Donald Trump is for daring to speak to the President of Taiwan. We don't want to make the Chinese angry! They might tariff our goods at rates of fifty to one-hundred percent or even higher! They might rattle sabers, build more nukes, threaten our friends, make deals with our enemies, hack our computers... oh wait!
President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone Friday with Tsai Ying-wen, the president of Taiwan. The call was the first in more than 30 years between an American president-elect and a leader of the semi-autonomous island.

According to a readout of the call from the Trump transition team, Tsai congratulated Trump on his victory, and the two discussed “the close economic, political, and security ties exists between Taiwan and the United States.”

But the Trump team’s description of the call belies the fact that the conversation has the potential to upset three decades of relations between the United States and its most important global trading partner.

China, the United States and most of the international community consider Taiwan to be a Chinese territory. But Taiwan, with its own elected government, constitution and military, considers itself an independent nation.

In recognition of China’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979. Trump’s call will likely enrage Beijing, and stands to damage U.S. relations with Chine before Trump even takes office.

“The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions,” Evan Medeiros, a former Asia director at the White House national security council, told the Financial Times, which first reported the call Friday afternoon.
Do the people complaining about the "provocative action" even know why we were so obsequious for so long? Has servile suck-uppery ever gotten anyone anything in the long run? Isn't it finally time to take those bananas?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Consensus Who Cried Wolf

Once upon a time there wasn't any oxygen. It was all CO2 and other oxides. So what about this "runaway greenhouse effect?" Why aren't we in the same boat as Venus? Simple. Somehow plants evolved which could convert that prehistorically massive volume of CO2 into Oxygen. [At this point somebody invariably spouts off with the factoid that plants don't directly convert CO2 into oxygen. That it's more complicated, involving H2O, and sunlight, creating carbohydrates, etc.] If you wade into the morass of chemical transmutations that occur, what you eventually discover is that plants take the carbon out of CO2 as a part of of their food creation and respiration. Like I said, plants convert CO2 into oxygen.

Global Warming, Climate Change, Armageddon, these are just a few end of the world scenarios that could conceivably come to pass in the near or distant future. A consensus of environmental scientists—i.e. most environmental scientists—claim they believe that rising CO2 levels threaten life on earth with catastrophic possibilities, from massive flooding to increasingly violent weather patterns to extinction level events around the globe. It could be true. Nevertheless, in spite of increasingly strident claims to the contrary, the science is not in fact settled, at all. The clarion call from the ecological hoi palloi may simply be nothing more than the bored little shepherd tricking the gullible villagers with yet another wolf cry.
Donald Trump will be about the only head of state who does not believe in climate science or the responsibility of his government to act,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, which signed up more members in the week after Trump won the election than during the rest of 2016 combined. “This makes the Bush-Cheney administration look like it came from an environmental training camp.”

But Trump may be picking a tougher fight than he knows. The last time the White House made the kind of retreat Trump envisions – when President Bush walked away from the Kyoto protocol in 2001 – the policy landscape of climate change was drastically different.

Much of the action on climate change in this country no longer plays out in federal agencies but at local commissions enforcing laws in 29 states that push public utilities to go green. Their mandates are to encourage investment in cleaner plants and technology development.

Major U.S. trading partners that signed on to the nearly 200-nation accord reached in Paris last year are already signaling that they will retaliate if the United States backs out, possibly by slapping environmental trade tariffs onto some American products.

To put it simply, because plants grow more swiftly in the presence of more CO2, the total surface area of photosynthetic effect increases at a nearly geometric rate as more CO2 becomes available, thereby rapidly metabolizing the excess CO2. Life on Earth is not in fragile balance. We don't walk a tightrope. It's more like a Golden Gate Bridge. Sunlight—heat—is used as an energy source to create food and Oxygen. We know for a fact that long before there was enough Oxygen on Earth for animals to exist, plants of various kinds were busy doing exactly that. As life on Earth began, consider how much CO2 was floating around. Then plants started doing their thing. The amount of CO2 before life began was vastly more than 0.04%, the level that scientists are busy shitting themselves over today.
Global greening is the name given to a gradual, but large, increase in green vegetation on the planet over the past three decades. The climate change lobby is keen to ensure that if you hear about it at all, you hear that it is a minor thing, dwarfed by the dangers of global warming. Actually, it could be the other way round: greening is a bigger effect than warming.

It is a story in which I have been both vilified and vindicated. Four years ago, I came across an online video of a lecture given by Ranga Myneni of Boston University in which he presented an ingenious analysis of data from satellites. This proved that much of the vegetated area of the planet was getting greener, and only a little bit was getting browner. In fact, overall in 30 years, the green vegetation on planet Earth had increased by a rather extraordinary 14 per cent. He said this was occurring in all vegetation types — from tropical rainforests to arctic tundra.