Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Few Thoughts from Utopia

When people who claim to be intelligent - say dumb stuff like “The science on this is settled,” how should a reasonable person respond?  
Call me a heretic, but I thought science was about continuing discovery, and the basis for that was to challenge the popular beliefs.  If the science on something is settled why should we spend another dime on research for it?  Wouldn’t the money be better spent on something we don’t know how to fix, like poverty?
 As we enter the age of the robot, and they take over those tasks we don’t want to do, what kind of evolution should we expect?  Will they form tribal relationships or will they remain solitary individuals? For industrial robots, how long before they unionize and demand cleaner power or their human mechanics be replaced by better robotic maintenance?

If everyone goes to College, what is the value of College?  Why not just extend High School four years and reduce universities and their staffs to only post graduate work until we decide everyone should have a Masters?

Gun Control in the United States – Assuming, for just a minute, the Administration were to ignore the Constitutional provisions for guns; exactly what kind of new laws could effectively reduce the use of guns in violent crime?  With the current workload of the criminal court system and our adversarial trial system does anyone who looks at this problem rationally think the outlawing of guns could be actually implemented?

Socialists have been advocating for classless society.  Looking at today’s political dialogue I would say they got their way.  Most of the comments I read are classless.

If an avowed Independent can run for the Democratic Party’s nomination, why is anyone surprised when a blustery rich guy runs for the Republican’s

Gallup polling in June of this year suggests only 8% of Americans have confidence in Congress and their confidence in the Supreme Court and the President are at or near their all-time lows.  What then accounts for the almost 90% reelection rate for incumbent Representatives and Senators?  I suspect it is greed and apathy on the part of the American electorate.

This has been a tragic week for Batman fans.  First the Maryland Batman was struck and killed when his Bat-mobile broke down.  And now news from Gotham is that Batgirl’s alter ego Yvonne Craig has passed away as well.

For a nation whose origins come from insurgency our politicians seem as completely incapable of understanding how to fight it as the English King and his Prime Minister were in the 18th Century when we staged ours.

It seems somewhat contradictory that an organization whose mission statement says “…[it] believes in the fundamental right of each individual throughout the world to manage his or her fertility… further believe that such self-determination will contribute to the enhancement of the quality of life and strong family relationships” would have parenthood in its name.  Oh by the way, is there any research that shows this organization’s work has actually led to development of strong family relationships in society?

Finally, I just like this puppy poster.  Everyone loves puppies.
And I just like this...

Monday, August 17, 2015

When Does Life Begin?

The second part of this question is who is the authority that gets to decide?  These are legitimate questions and ones the Supreme Court has so far declined to answer.  So, if they are not the definitive authority – then who is?
We hear the political rants about the Conservatives War on Women, as if there are no Conservative Women, but even the Supreme Court recognizes it is not a woman’s right to choose.  Sorry for all you who believe Roe v. Wade gives you that right, it doesn’t.  What SCOTUS said in its majority opinion is it was a decision made by the Doctor in consolidation with the woman during the first trimester. 

So here we are some 43 years later with huge advances in neonatal care.  Yet with close to 58,000,000 abortions since 1973, those in favor of a doctor's right to choose are unwilling to define the beginning of life. Could it possibly be because the industry is so profitable for those involved?
Is our society richer for the deaths?  Are the women comforted by the ability to end life at their whim?

Monday, August 3, 2015


It is said life is about choices. That is certainly true for governments as well.  As the country has grown to over 300 million - the choices before us become harder each day. Unfortunately the costs, in terms of humanity, and impacts are never fully understood when we set out.

As I read the on-line rants of the perpetually offended it is apparent any movement towards common agreement becomes more difficult each day. Increasingly, we are driving ourselves towards the me-first society that marks a dramatic turning point in social order.  When we cannot find agreement on the value of life, or the reasons when the sacrifice of that life is legitimate, then what hope is there for the hard problems? Like:

Global Warming - does condemnation of skeptic's, or unilateral action by the US move us towards a solution, or does it just enrich those who have interest in "green" technology?  I don't have an answer, but when I see the President fly a 747 to a meeting where he condemns carbon based fossil fuels I wonder what is the real agenda?  If he were really serious about this he could have teleconferenced in and saved 190,000 pounds of those evil hydro carbon-based fuels reducing the carbon footprint of his office. I am sorry, but the hypocrisy of the agenda condemns its message. I agree with Ms. Carly Fiorina when she says, "a state acting alone can make no difference." Perhaps, as she goes on say, we should look to the total spectrum of innovation for not only "green" sources but improved use of carbon-based fuels as well. 

I wonder, is this just another example of crony capitalism?  When we get into the futures market with the trading of carbon credits and the a process whereby the rich countries buy carbon credits from the poor countries I'm guessing there is a ton of money to be made by those who set up and run this exchange.  So the influential get richer while the poor are exploited? Nah, the progressive movement wouldn't be that crass and self-serving to help the rich supporters to get richer on the backs of the poor, this is clearly about changing the social structure and cleaning up the air by all those concerned politicians and scientists.

War - is a funny thing.  We universally condemn it, but it is inherent in the nature of man. I challenge anyone to find a time in recorded history where conflict was not on-going.  Perhaps it is part of our tribal makeup, or perhaps just a part of our need to survive and dominate, but for whatever reason we are always at war.  Writing in the first half of the 19th century, Germany's Baron von Clausewitz in his study of warfare notes war is a political instrument, "a continuation of political intercourse carried out by other means."  In their condemnation of religion I've heard the left claim religious movements are the cause for most wars.  This is, at best, uninformed.  While religious differences may be a pretext for beginning a conflict, the root of that conflict goes much deeper and it is used only as a rally point.  The human desire to dominate and gain power is always at the root.  It doesn't matter if we are talking about the War of the Roses, the Axis of WW2, the IRA and UDA in Ireland, or the Islamic movements of today.  The real question then becomes how do we, or even should we, deny those seeking power the use of that rallying point?  So far, no one in a position of power has shown any clear understanding of the problem, or the insight to affect an answer.  What we do see is the lack of an effective political will to win.  Unless we can agree with what winning looks like, it is unlikely we will develop one.

Race relations - since at least Theodore Roosevelt we have understood the power of the President's position to shape and influence the country.  With TR it developed the moniker "the Bully Pulpit," a term used to this day.  Some President's, like nephew Franklin, John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan, have used this tool exceptionally well, inspiring a nation and the world to achieve more than they thought possible, while other's have quietly used it to shape the country for the future.  Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower stand as examples of the later.  Many of our Presidents, although gifted politically, seem unsure how to effectively use this powerful tool to bring the nation forward.  Unfortunately for people like me I don’t see our current President and his closest advisors using all the tools available to either unite or inspire the vast center of our society, choosing instead to play to the extremes and to make race a central dividing point.  Where we might have had a President who could unite us as none before, we instead found one who attempts to force us towards the political extremes as he has choses dividing issues to weigh in on and cast his support clearly to one side, regardless of what the facts would eventually detail.  There is a difference between a political campaign and governing, and I've noted in the past this President has never been able to move from the first to the later.  He has extended this political agenda through the entirety of the executive branch; as shown in the use the IRS and Justice Department to attack political opposition.  His promise of transparency in government was, at best - empty, and at worst a clear falsehood for the people and their elected representatives in the Congress.

Role of Government - our founding fathers were as divided as we are today on how best to shape the government.  Some felt we should be 13 independent states, while other's argued for a single central authority, with the potential to establish our own monarch.  When the flaws in the federation concept showed themselves we came together and through debate and compromise settled on the scheme we have today, a central government and independent states.  The role of the central government was to promote commerce and provide for a central defense.  If we look at the early budgets for the nation, these tasks were divided in about a 40/60% balance.  In looking at our budgets today the role and priority of the central government has shifted to social engineering through regulation and law, and defense, only now the balance has shifted to 60% for social issues and 40% for defense.  This reflects the ever-increasing control of the central government on the individual.

Economic growth - so now we come to a point where the popular, but flawed, economic and social theories of Marx and Engle are supported by those, who in the name of "social justice," argue for an ever-stronger and pervasive central government.  We have reached a point where the government, not the individual, chooses what is best and will enforce those decisions through a variety of the tools available to it.  The popular rally point today is wealth redistribution!  Is this much different than what we saw a little over a century ago when the concepts of socialism and communism first appeared and gained wide acceptance?  The central question for America today is can the wealth of the rich be taken without destroying the engine that created it in the first place?  Is there an applicable example that shows how making the rich poorer will make the poor richer?  We talk of the evils of capitalism, but what better alternative exists that will allow someone with the drive to succeed to move from poor to rich?  This whole idea of wealth distribution gains great support from those who would like to be in charge of the distribution, and those who mistakenly think they will be the benefactors of this largess.  There is an interesting observation somewhere in the recent news about how a restaurant chain in San Francisco recently raised its prices about 14% after the City decided to raise the minimum wage by 14%.  I wonder, who is surprised by this?

Education versus training - for as long as I can remember we've talked about how important education is, and cast a dim view on those who do not believe everyone going to college is the answer.  We are seeing today an outcome of that college for everyone mania.  How many college graduates leave school and enter the job market into a career versus a job?  Isn't that what college is supposed to prepare you for?  How many, because of their choices enter post-college life with heavy debt because it is so easy to get the financing for a college education that ill prepares them for the reality of today's world?  We are quick to condemn the "for-profit" trade schools who take a students money but don't deliver a real job, yet we are equally quick to praise the "not-for-profit universities who do the same thing.  In both cases the students have been bilked.  As we progress forward - who will do the hard work of building America?  Is this why we are opening our boarders, so American citizens won't have to do physical labor, or is it to keep the cost of that labor so low those who would do it can't pay their bills and we keep the poor in their place?  The Democratic talking points seem a little vague on what the true reasons are, or what they hope is the best case outcome.

Broadcast Journalism - as we move deeper into this information age the whole concept of how we get our news and who chooses the storyline it presents is truly an issue.  Before the Internet there was television, before that radio and movies, before that print, and earlier still word of mouth. Each form has its strengths and weaknesses.  Unfortunately most never have an inclination to understand them. Today's instant communication fuels an insatiable need for sensationalism as the media competes for dollars in the commercial market, i.e. the more viewers the bigger the income.  How to pull in the highest Neilson rating is the driving factor, accuracy, editorial balance, and legitimate evaluation of news value come in far down the choice list.  As we see in ABCNNBCBS and FOX they will latch on a story and play it for all it's worth.  They have airtime to fill and truth be damned.  Better to be sensational first and then push a small retraction if the facts prove otherwise.  We see the exact same thing with major papers like the NY Times where the headline may read TED CRUZ BEATS DOGS but a few days later buried on page 3 is the correction "Ted Cruz stopped man beating dogs, we regret the grammatical mistake."  In their on-line publication they may just change the story and not even acknowledge the change - as we saw with the story on Ms. Clinton, where initial reports said she was under criminal investigation for release of classified on her private e-mail and then after complaints it was changed to something else.  It would be nice if everyone were honest, but agenda always comes first and we viewers just want to be spoon-fed by talking heads we like and agree with.  I would very much like it if we would follow the British and most of the world, and refer to these talking heads for what they are "News Readers" rather than the more solid sounding title of "News Anchors" because most know little more than what appears on the teleprompter in front of them.

So we come to the proverbial fork in the road.  We as a nation will once again set out to reshape our government. We will be buried in inflaming political rhetoric, mud-slinging, snide character attacks, and subterfuge as candidates attempt to hide their true beliefs and play the message they think will get them elected. The most ardent supporters will swarm like locust to push their parties messages, always intended to condemn the opponent while vaguely promising a brighter future.  Will you be one of the 55% that cast your vote?  Will more than an attack ad inform your choice, or will you fall in line with what the party tells you to do?  What choice will you make?  Will it be towards unifying the nation or continuing as we have since the mid 90's?  So many choices!
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