Monday, December 20, 2010

Redistribution By Any Other Name

On the pages of the Santa Cruz Sentinel Opinion section a local World History Professor and unsurprisingly a progressive David Sweet, tries to reintroduce the liberal argument for the redistribution of wealth by simply using different terms. Instead of the old "social justice" terminology he discusses "Defining-and achieving-the Common Good". Here is a small sample.

Without a serious and sustained commitment to achieving and maintaining the common good, Lincoln's quaint notion of a government "of the people, by the people, and [especially] for the people" is nothing but a mockery.
The argument for electing candidates with a well-articulated and reliable commitment to the common good such as several of those we've been fortunate to have the opportunity to vote for in Santa Cruz County over the years becomes much less airy-fairy if we recognize that the common good is synonymous with any genuine "homeland security." The only secure country is one in which there is a broad consensus that government does its best to see to the well-being, not primarily of corporations or the rich or powerful, but of all of the governed.The problem with this argument is by definition it is an overreaching government that has all but obliterated any sense of the “common good”. The reason it is not included in the Declaration of Independence nor is it in the US Constitution, is because, like social justice, the common good, when applied to government is simply another euphemism for redistribution of wealth. The concept of a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people," has seen its death knoll, as government has become a separate entity, not of (and certainly not for) the people. The true common good is the result not of “the people” but as individuals freely giving in support of their neighbor based primarily on religious beliefs and reciprocity. The farther this giving and support extends beyond a neighborhood, the more demanding and tyrannical it becomes. We are left with the fascist like ravings of Jim Wallis who teaches that true Christianity is forced re-distribution of wealth through a supposed benevolent Marxist regime.

One either believes that the people will define the common good as the need arises, or government will become their master as it defines the common good as it’s need to acquire more authority. According to President Obama if the Constitution "didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and [the] Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties." The document, he argued, "Says what the states can't do to you, says what the Federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf." That remark and David Sweet defining the common good as the job of government, shows a shocking ignorance of the purpose of the United States Constitution. By definition a socialist defines not the actions of the people, but the actions of government as the common good; so the common good simply becomes serfdom to the government. It is the continuing attack against our founding fathers belief that a people can truly govern themselves.

Monday, November 29, 2010

David Brooks vs The Liberal Technicians; i.e. Paul Krugman is Wrong

In his recent Op-Ed piece, The Two Cultures, David Brooks takes a look at a new economic study of stimuluses’, which comes to the conclusion that they work best with countries that have low debt, fixed exchange rates and closed economies and not countries “like the U.S. with high debt and floating exchange rates.” Unlike Germany, the United States economy is intimately tied to it’s trading partners by overseas manufacturing of US products. Therefore while an $800 billion stimulus might seem to leave a “large footprint” considering the US $14 trillion GDP, “it is hard to find in a $70 trillion global economy.

Another observation by Brooks parrots my article The Immaturity of Obamanomics. Here Brooks points out the futility of trying to scientifically quantify human behavior and spending habits, “The liberal technicians have an impressive certainty about them. They have amputated those things that can’t be contained in models, like emotional contagions, cultural particularities and webs of relationships. As a result, everything is explainable and predictable. They can stand on the platform of science and dismiss the poor souls down below.” The issue of course is adhering to Keynesian dogma, such as “liberal technician” Paul Krugman. Keynesian models and projections are simply speculative fairy tales, but the likes of Paul Krugman refuses to take his head out of the ground to look around at the real world. Brooks writes, “If the government borrows trillions of dollars, this will increase public anxiety and uncertainty, the conservatives worry. The liberal technicians brush aside this soft-headed mush. These psychological concerns are mythological, they say. That’s gaseous blathering from those who lack quantitative rigor;” this statements pretty much defines every Paul Krugman article I have ever read, or I’m sure he has ever written.

So what is the answer? Well it’s pretty much the opposite of anything Paul Krugman espouses. In the real world you don’t borrow money to reduce the debt. Only in the fantasy of Keynesian macroeconomics, is this considered “a brilliant and aggressive stimulus (model).” It’s what you think it should be. Government cannot create jobs nor will it ever make a profit. In order for the government to receive higher tax revenues, it needs to promote job creation, not raise taxes. This means drastically cutting government expenses and leaving as much capital in the private sector as possible. If there is one area that government can improve is to rein in the naked derivatives market. Since the repeal of Glass-Steagle, the money that was traditionally used to buy stocks and bonds has been invested in these made up instruments, leaving American business grossly under funded; in Germany they have already been outlawed; “When you look around the world at the countries that have come through the recession best, it’s not the countries with the brilliant and aggressive stimulus models. It’s the ones like Germany that had the best economic fundamentals beforehand.

On might remember that it was Paul Krugman who loudly denounced Germany’s conservative stimulus and austerity, which subsequently boosted their economy to the most robust in all of Europe, contrary to Krugman’s statement, “The key point is that while the advocates of austerity pose as hardheaded realists, doing what has to be done, they can’t and won’t justify their stance with actual numbers — because the numbers do not, in fact, support their position (the numbers Krugman talks about are made up Keynesian numbers).” As I said in Germany Proves the Keynesians Wrong, they were indeed right and Krugman was indeed wrong, just as he is always wrong.

In the final analysis we are left with the obvious, that as much as it was been advertised, you can’t reduce human behavior to a Newtonian equation; human reaction is much closer to Chaos Theory, which produces a pattern but is not necessary predictable. Brooks observed that liberal technicians view “psychological factors like uncertainty and anxiety really are a mirage. The first time a business leader tells you she is holding off on investing because she is scared about the future, you dismiss it as anecdote. But over the past few years, I’ve had hundreds of such conversations.”

As I have said so many times before, Keynesian theory is accepted by those who view government as the answer to society’s problems. Rather than accept the fact, that limited government with reasonable regulations allows the free market to find it’s own level and prosper, Keynesians want constant government influence, unwilling to accept that the economy would work better without it’s interference. Brooks ends with this; “It all makes one doubt the wizardry of the economic surgeons and appreciate the old wisdom of common sense: simple regulations, low debt, high savings, hard work, few distortions. You don’t have to be a genius to come up with an economic policy like that.” It’s like the law of supply and demand; as with gravity, it would exist whether you recognized it or not and is not so easily manipulated.

Friday, November 26, 2010

TSA and the German Corn Field

The following article was posted in the “As you see it” portion of the Santa Cruz Sentential, with follow-up remarks on Newspaper’s blog.

The Transportation Security Administration is making flying much more dangerous, not safer. The reason is obvious: If they are forced to search 100 percent of the passengers, they will certainly become careless if for no other reason than the monotony and fatigue . They are searching uniformed soldiers, small children, grandmothers, pilots, stewardesses, flight attendants and frequent fliers who they know are not terrorists, which will not only make them complacent, but they end up viewing their job more of a preventive measure, than actually believing they will find a terrorists (if they accidentally found a terrorists they would probably urinate all over themselves). All that is necessary is to identify all these fliers plus 90 percent of most domestic passengers through tickets sales and several times again prior to entering the secure part of the terminal. Add to that behavior profiling, such as what's done in Israel, and the TSA could render air transportation truly safe and concentrate on the 1 percent of fliers whose behavior or background truly makes them suspect. Instead of searching the haystack one piece at a time to find a needle, use a magnet.

Poster: Well for starters, Israel has ONE primary international airport - I'm sure we could do a great job too if we could concentrate on ONE airport...

Response: There is no reason if something works well at one airport it could not be done at 100 airports. This does not mean the US would want to use the Israeli model unchanged, but since the US model prior to the full body scanners and enhanced pat downs worked for 10 years without a hitch, we could add some of the Israeli techniques to improve security without relinquishing our rights to privacy just so Rapidscan can sell billions of dollars of scanners; ex-Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was pushing the use of full body scanners starting in 2005, then shortly after he retired in 2009, Rapiscan became a client of his consulting Chertoff Group; both are making huge profits from this sweetheart deal. Once again all you have to do is follow the money

Poster: Israel successfully uses racial profiling; this wouldn't work in America because people are more concerned about their civil rights being violated than they are about their own physical safety.

Response: If Americans cared more about their civil rights than safety, they would not allow TSA's enhanced searches without probable cause, violating their 4th Amendment rights. The concept of racial profiling by Israel is also false; over 20% of Israel’s population is Arab, and they certainly do not view 1/5 of the passengers as threats. Yes the fact that a person is a Muslim male in their 20's is a factor on their threat scale, but their behavioral profiling (not racial) and background checks are the brunt of their screening processes. The idea is to look for terrorists not devices. Racial profiling is a red herring thrown out by an overreaching Homeland Security that has made a bogeyman out of al Qaeda. The only changes that have made anyone safer since 911 have been securing the pilot's cabin and the knowledge that passengers will no longer let terrorists take control of an airliner. The so called justification for the naked body scanners is the Underwear Christmas bomber, who it turns out was allowed to board the airliner and circumvent the security measures in Amsterdam by what was later admitted by the US State Department as their screw-up, which means no one has been able to breech US Airline security since the first Christmas bomber, Richard Reed Dec 21, 2001. So it's been 10 years since a suicide bomber has smuggled a bomb onto a plane and without the use of enhanced pat downs and naked body scanners. What has become obvious is al Qaeda has run out of suicide bombers who have the sophistication to board an airline with a bomb; if this were not true, they surely would have done so by now. We know have to worry about body cavity searches, and mobile body scanners with TSA "viper teams" to be used at train and bus stations, and perhaps mall near you.

(added here for reference is an article from TSA Searches; are Trains and Subways next? )

From TSA head John Pistole, “Given the list of threats on subways and rails over the last six years going on seven years, we know that some terrorist groups see rail and subways as being more vulnerable because there’s not the type of screening that you find in aviation,” Pistole said. “From my perspective, that is an equally important threat area.

Added by the article's author Kurt Nimmo, "It may not be long before you are forced through a naked body scanner or obliged to have your genitals groped in order to visit the local market to buy food and necessities. Considering the trajectory the TSA and the government are on, you may have to submit to a body cavity search at the local mall.

(continuing with my response)
From, "They Thought They Were Free", about the rise of Nazi control in Germany"

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Airline Security; Isreal Gets it Right, TSA Doesn't Get It

All the rhetoric we have been hearing from Homeland Security and their minions are more concerned with maintaining an obviously flawed, but financially lucrative direction. The inherent flaw in the America airport security system is it creates a false sense of security by relying on a narrowly focused (and imperfect) technology, that has limited human input and is always one step behind the terrorists. The only reasonable way to stop terrorists is to screen out the vast majority of obvious non-threat passengers, using background checks, so searches become threat based. You still screen 100% of the passengers, but only a small percentage actually get searched. There is perhaps nothing more absurd than the concept of random searches, which have no logical bases and is definitive of an incompetent government bureaucracy that has lost the trust of the people. Here you have bureaucrats that are so rigid and unyielding that they actually required pilots to be searched. Is there anyone that has forgotten that in the 911 attacks the weapons were the airliners themselves? What were the pilots going to do, take themselves hostage with a smuggled penknife? It is interesting to note, that in Israel the citizenry do not take these freedoms for granted as we do in the United States and still demand their government treat them with dignity and even intelligence.

50 years ago the Israelis faced the same safety issues America has been facing since 9/11. The first salvo was much the same as ours, but the reaction was much different. In his article, "The Israelification of Airports; High Security, Little Brother,” Cathal Kelly discusses the Israeli approach to airport security with Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. "Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, 'We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport."

What Israel devised was a 6-layer system that is hands down the world standard for safety. As you enter the parking lot, Israeli security agents contact you in your vehicle and simply ask each person two questions, “How are you? Where are you coming from?” But the security agents are not just being friendly; they are paying very close attention to your answer. If there is anything wrong with the way you answer you are detained and separated from your luggage. Further military service in Israel is compulsory, so every security person you talk with is not only highly trained in airport security, but also a veteran soldier. When any Israeli agent converses with you, they are looking you straight in the eye; something that while being bit unnerving, leaves no doubt that they are paying attention to everything you say and do.

Next you are directed to the airport building where there are armed guards at the entrance. These guards, as those in the parking lot are behavioural profiling. They look for someone in distress, someone who does not look right, someone that is displaying any one of a laundry list of behaviors they have been trained to watch out for. “At this point, some travelers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer. ‘This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious,’ said Sela.”Once you are inside you go to the check-in counter. Passengers are staggered so they don’t bunch up (one of the biggest complaints of the current American system by security experts is the damage that could be done by a luggage bomb detonated amongst the hundreds of passengers that are often waiting in roped off blocks in the check-in lines). Here you asked a series of questions, “Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?” Your luggage is moved to a specially deigned baggage area where it is scanned. “The screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive.”

The last check is for passengers and carry-on. But there are no conveyor belts, no body scanners, no enhanced pat downs. Just security officers watching you and scrutinizing your mood and behavior, "’… there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you,’ said Sela. ‘Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, or how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys.’”

Once in the airport lounge it looks no different than any other airport. But there is a difference. Every employee from the Starbucks girl to the janitor are also trained in some form of behavioural profiling. If they see anything that doesn’t look right they are encouraged to report it; any one in the lounge, employee, passenger or security can lock down the airport; and unlike anywhere else, they are encouraged to do so. If anyone sees something that doesn’t looks right and they hit the shut down button, they are always praised, never degraded for being too paranoid.

So yes there is a better way to secure an airport than treat the passengers as if their Constitutional rights are suspended every time you get near an airplane. But there is another issue that is rarely addressed and that is competence. I have watched TSA workers go about their job and most are what you could call “professional” but none really appear competent. If anything occurs out of the ordinary (and I use the term loosely), it usually results in having to call a supervisor and then an administrator. In a recent incident made famous on YouTube a passenger, John Tyner opted out of the scanner and took exception to the enhanced pat down (who could have guessed that would ever happen?). The result was organizational idiocy were the police were called, one supervisor told him to leave the area, then an administrator was called who told Tyner he broke civil law for leaving and would be fined (Since TSA is not a law enforcement agency, all their actions are controlled through civil authority. Apparently there is a civil law that once a person has opted out of the full body scan, they must not leave the screening area without being screened in some manner. Since they have no law enforcement authority the TSA agents can’t detain or arrest anyone, all they can do is fine. The idea is to stop a terrorist from leaving the screening area for fear he will be discovered, but one has to wonder about the logic that an al Qaeda terrorist would actually stop for fear of being fined).

Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, later called a press conference to emphasize that Tyner was in a lot of trouble and assured everyone his actions would lead to prosecution and “civil penalties” of up to $11000. The next day however the head of the TSA John Pistole said John Tyner would not be fined, saying the agency is "trying to be sensitive to individuals issues and concerns," but added, "the bottom line is, everybody who gets on that flight has been properly screened." Unfortunately Pistole notion of "properly screened" is defined narrowly by his boss Janet Napolitano, who seems to have been bought and paid for by political corruption and conflict of interest that includes ex-Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff pushing the use of full body scanners in 2005 while the manufacturer Rapiscan became a client of his consulting Chertoff Group shortly after he retired in 2009.

The Israelis have shown us, and the world that safety can be achieved while preserving personal freedom and privacy. As I said before, the end result in America has been a complete lack of trust that our politicians are competent or has our best interest at heart; or even worst, that our government has become a separate entity, independent from the will of the people, who is either incapable of keeping up safe, or refuses to do so without us trading away some of our most basic human rights. Seal seemed to sum it up when he said, "Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defense forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they're doing a good job. You can't say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don't trust anybody.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stephen Hawking's God Like Fine-tuned Universe

When one looks into the discussions of creationism vs evolution, there is always the contingent that wants to show that science can somehow be used to prove creationism. This is not a belief of mine and I think it is a general waste of time. My view of the scientific method is after one constructs a hypothesis, the rest of the process is primarily aimed at disproving it (all scientific theories will be eventually disproved). But what is learned disproving theories is what moves science forward. Therefore, if a person like myself does believe in creationism, then they know that science will likely never really catch up with such a complex issue; meaning the two are not in conflict, but science as we know it is just too limited. However, there are some aspects of Stephen Hawking “Fine-tuned Universe” that seems to fall far short of his self-described atheists views and it’s similarities to the creationists and Intelligent Design.

One of the major overlaps between Intelligent Design and Fine-tuned Universe is that rather than our planet being fragile and in of careful need of stewardship even to the point of trying to protect the climate from over warming, Earth is a robust planet, fine tuned for life, and rather than being easily thrown off kilter, it is intensely self correcting, always re-balancing to abundantly support life. In his new book “The Grand Design”, Hawking seems to go out of way to prove this point.

*“The discovery recently of the extreme fine-tuning of so many laws of nature could lead some to the idea that this grand design has a Grand Designer…True, the laws of the universe seem tailor made for humans.”

*“Many improbable occurrences conspire to create Earth’s human friendly design… We need liquid water to exist, and if the earth were too close (to the sun) it would all but boil off; if it is too far it would freeze…(or) even a small disturbance in gravity…would send the planet off it’s orbit and cause it to spiral into or away from the sun.”

*“It is not only the peculiar characteristics of our solar system that seems oddly conducive to the development of human life, but also the characteristics of our entire universe-and its laws. They appear to have a design that is both tailor made to support us and if we are to exist, leaves little room for alteration…The forces of nature had to be such that heavier elements- especially carbon could be produced and remain stable…Even that is not enough: The dynamics of the stars had to be such that some would eventually explode, precisely in a way that could disperse the heavier elements through space.”

*“(At the atomic level) if protons were just 0.2% heavier, they would decay into neutrons, destabilizing atoms, again of course making all life impossible…(So) most of the…laws of nature appear fine tuned in the sense that if they were altered by only modest amount, the universe would be…unsuitable for the development of life…The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine tuned.”

The proponents of Intelligent Design has used these exact arguments to prove that it would be mathematically impossible for all this fine-tuning to exist were there not a “Grand Designer” and interestingly enough Hawking’s agrees. But this is where he ventures far beyond Acom’s razor. Where Hawking goes with this is the theoretical physics M theory. Without going into is parent String theory, Hawkins explains that there was not just one Big Bang, there was an infinite number of big bangs, each one creating a separate universe. So in order to explain the complexity of the universe and the fine-tuning toward life, Hawking’s has reconstructed the quote that if you gave a million monkeys typewriters and set them to work, they’d eventually come up with the entire works of William Shakespeare, or out of an infinite number of Universes, one would be fine-tuned for life. You also have the Big Bang Theory, which interestingly enough has also been embraced by Intelligent Design due to its commonality with God suddenly creating something out of nothing. What I find most interesting about Hawking is he really doesn’t dispel the belief in a God, as long as God does not violate the laws of physics. And while I don’t claim the intelligence to truly dispel Hawking’s , one is still left with the bigger question as David Misialowski asks,“Why is there something rather than nothing?”

*Thanks to Rene Schlaepfer of Twin Lakes Church for the Hawking's quotes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Has TSA Finally Crossed The Line With Enhanced Punitive Pat Downs?

Arrogance and and the over reaching of an ever increasing police state, may soon be the undoing of the TSA and Homeland Security. Once again Americans are faced with the issue referred to by Benjamin Franklin when he said "people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both." Here the issue is also about privacy, a right so intrinsic to freedom, that absent privacy, freedom can not really exist. The most frequently quoted statement by a Supreme Court justice on the subject of privacy comes in Justice Brandeis's dissent in Olmstead v. U. S. (1928):
"The makers of our Constitution understood the need to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness, and the protections guaranteed by this are much broader in scope, and include the right to life and an inviolate personality -- the right to be left alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. The principle underlying the Fourth and Fifth Amendments is protection against invasions of the sanctities of a man's home and privacies of life. This is a recognition of the significance of man's spiritual nature, his feelings, and his intellect." There is a price to living

What has become obvious to most Americans, is that the TSA and the Federal Government has crossed the line in the American psyche the separates need for security and right to freedom. While the supposed rational behind the Full Body (or Naked Body) scanners is to protect flyers from terrorists, it has becoming more common knowledge that the likelihood of terrorists using a plane for terrorism has diminished greatly as a result of 911. In a 2008 article Jeffery Goldberg quoted security expert Bruce Schneier, “Transportation Security Administration, which is meant to protect American aviation from al Qaeda, represents an egregious waste of tax dollars, dollars that could otherwise be used to catch terrorists before they arrive at the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport, by which time it is, generally speaking, too late…. Counter terrorism in the airport is a show designed to make people feel better,” he said. “Only two things have made flying safer: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.” This assumes, of course, that al Qaeda will target airplanes for hijacking, or target aviation at all. “We defend against what the terrorists did last week,” Schneider said. He believes that the country would be just as safe as it is today if airport security were rolled back to pre-9/11 levels. “Spend the rest of your money on intelligence, investigations, and emergency response.”

Interestingly this over stepping of our 4th Amendment right to be free from governmental unreasonable search and seizure is a result of political correctness and a rather casual reading of the 14th Amendments equal protection under the law clause. In other words, the government would rather violate the right to privacy of the vast majority of non-Muslim Americans, than hurt the feelings of a minority of Muslims . While profiling Muslims may sound patently unconstitutional, one must remember so are full body scans and “enhanced pat downs” searches without probable cause. Profiling is only unconstitutional if it is arbitrary. The difference is the Federal Government has decided that the emergency circumstances that allow the violation of our Constitution rights, are better served against the majority of Americans then the minority of Muslims (be they be American citizens or not). The TSA already has what they call threat-based screening for those from a country of interest such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen, and four countries the US regards as state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. But as a result the absurd thought process of the TSA, these screenings are considered controversial, and the frequency of these threat-based screenings are determined by world intelligence threat assessments. After 911, Israel offered to assist the United States in these form of threat based screenings that have been 100% successful. But the US refused, preferring to individually screen every flyer; this is lunacy.

Americans are actually rather prudish people. Not only are their proxemics, or zone of personal safety larger than most other societal norms, they don’t liked to be touched by strangers and they like to pick and choose who gets to see them naked. If there is a defining action by the TSA it is their enhanced pat-downs. And it’s not they are more intrusive, which they are, but it’s their stated purpose. The TSA has let it be known that the enhanced pat downs are not for enhanced security, the pat downs have been enhanced to make the passenger that has “opted-out” of the full body scanner feel so violated that they dare not opt out again; in essence the TSA has become one of the most oppressive arms of the federal government our country has ever known and is now punishing Americans for not wanting to do things their way. On cannot name one other Federal Government agency that is so draconian that it is trying to enforce its policies with physical pain and psychological trauma.The TSA has already stated that the next stage is portable full body scanners for shopping malls and schools; this of course would be the end of liberty and freedom in our country. It needs to stop. Will we be opting-out some security? Yes. Will there be a greater chance of a terrorist’s successful attack? This of course is unknown, but some of the best anti-terrorists say no. The reason is simple, we now no more about al Qaeda than they know about themselves. America has the technology to stop terrorism short of stripping everyone naked as the Nazi’s did. Let me repeat Benjamin Franklin one more time, "people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both." There at two ways airline security and within this country are likely to go; the United States can continue on this path toward greater tyranny by assuming every person is equally suspect, or it can move toward the Israeli model that believes the 99% are innocent and spend your resources fretting out the minority that is the true threat. One thing is for sure, the very nature of government is to control the governed and what ever freedom you give up for a questionable promise of safety will not be given back without a fight. Further the fight to retain a freedom will always be easier than the fight to win back a freedom.

edited 11/16/10. After writing this OpEd it was brought to my attention that Janet Napolitano has repeatedly stated that the enhanced pat downs are not done for punishment. While it has been documented that Napolitano is continually at odds with the truth, I will include this article by Charlie Leocha from Consumer Traveler. The article, TSA Admits to Punishing Travelers (one of many from different sources) was written back in August and is self explanatory.

The Democrats Lost the House Because They Gave Us Two More Years Of Bush

The Democrats did not loose the House because they managed to get the car out of the ditch, it was because they sat there spinning the wheels, burying the car to the wheel wells and then claimed we were out of the ditch; well were not out of the ditch. Here is what you missed, the Republicans under Bush 43 where a fiscal disaster, but the Democrats did nothing to reverse the trend. Obama has ramped up the war in Afghanistan for nothing more than political expedience. Bush seemed oblivious to Katrina and Obama seemed oblivious to the Gulf Oil Spill. What is rarely mentioned is the TARP money Bush loaned to the banks has been repaid with interest, but Obama, rather then returning the money, showed the repayment as income, in a sense paying for his stimulus with repaid TARP money; just more fiscal irresponsibility. The Democrats claimed to fix the cause of the economic melt down with there Financial reform, but did nothing to rein on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the derivative market that caused it all.

Next, the American people have finally had enough with the big lie of the Keynesian stimulus; sorry Joe, but were not buying your,‘we have to borrow money to pay down the debt.’ Stimuluses don’t work and only balloon the debt by trillions of dollars. Next you have Healthcare reform; no different than the unfounded Medicare drug benefit, but on steroids. After all the promises that Obamacare would not increase the debt, the reality, which everybody already knew, is it is going to drive up the price of healthcare and add trillions of dollars to the debt over the next 10-20 years. Finally, you cannot legislate technology. While it will always be the necessity to protect the environment, environmental protection will not result in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, it will increase it, at least in the foreseeable future; that is irrefutable. Fossil fuel is what drives the world’s economies. There is nothing else even close and nothing dawning on the horizon to replace it. If the US does not get its oil in-country, it will need to buy it from foreign countries (many of whom don’t like us very much). The United States has the cleanest processing plants and factories in the world, with the possible exception of Japan. Your Cap and Trade will force industry out of the US with its clean technologies, to China and India who have little regard for environment. And until a miracle happens (i.e. some technological leap), Cap and Trade will result in hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes, much of which will used to subsidize green jobs that increase unemployment by 2 to1 and some of which will be sent to other countries.

The Democrats lost the House because, rather than "Hope and Change" they offered "More of the Same". After all the rhetoric about the public not wanting 4 more years of Bush, they have so far given two more years of Bush regardless. The American voter has no real faith in the Republicans, but it also has no faith in the Democrats. The party of “no” has simply become the party of “stop!” Stop the spending.“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Immaturity of Obamanomics

Obama’s economic plan is doomed to failure because it ignores human motivation. It is the same reason socialism doesn’t work and communism results in genocide. When John Maynard Keynes (Keynesian Economics) helped structure the British wartime economy, he was impressed how the British (and Americans) pulled together in a controlled economy and was surprising successful in extremely difficult times. Keynes theorized that if a similar economic structure could be constructed in peacetime, than capitalism, which appeared to be on it's last legs after the last depression, could not only be saved but would thrive. What Keynes later realized was it was not the structure of the economy and government planning that resulted in the economic stability at the time, it was the motivation of the workers. The President is making the same mistake now as he attempts to stimulate the economy by injecting large amounts of borrowed money into the economy, while necessarily increasing the national debt. The Keynesian theory that recessions are the result of a lack of spending does not go far enough. Obviously people spend less during a recession, but just handing out additional money to spend is not going to address the underlying cause, which is a lack of confidence and stability. The mindless belief in Keynesian theory is the result of the progressive worldview, that the government elite by it's very nature is superior in it's decision making, so these elitists have embraced this overreaching theory that espouses influence over the collective to manipulate their spending, making the issue less an economic problem and more a government control issue; but both concepts are horribly flawed.

If citizens are to enjoy their god given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then free market capitalism is the only viable economic plan known to man. Any other plan requires strict control of human behavior because only capitalism recognizes the inherent or inalienable individual rights and human dignity. This is why all forms of socialism always require some form of draconian re-education. When General Eisenhower warned the Nazis to "Beware the fury of an aroused democracy." this was not a warning based on a war time economy, but the realization that when free citizens band together to fight for their freedom, there is little that can stand in their way. In a controlled economy, such as national socialism, austerity and sacrifice are forced; in a Democracy austerity is volunteered. It is a simple matter of fact that enthusiastically volunteered sacrifice will have a more robust result and delayed gratification than forced sacrifice. Further, only in a democracy does delayed gratification have any real meaning, for only with self governess is the individual allowed to succeed or fail based on his own actions and self reliance. The result is the ultimate delayed gratification best personified by Christ's sacrifice, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man gives up his life for his friends."

The Keynesian's belief is that delayed gratification of the masses is very short sighted and can be easily overcome. As I said before, while there is no argument that one of the symptoms of a recession is a lack of spending by the citizenry, Keynesian theory views this is as the primary cause and this is where Keynesian theory goes horribly wrong. The Keynesian believe that all that is necessary is to “prime the pump” by putting cash in the hands of the citizenry and that this will motivate them to spend and end the recession. But the United States has a very mature citizenry and before they increase their discretionary spending they will be looking for a stable income, not a one time "stimulus". The reason stimulus' fail, is that by their very existence it means the economy is in trouble and the mature citizenry knows that spending a one time windfall, rather than saving until the economy stabilizes would be irresponsible. This shows the inherent economic immaturity that exists in government, where spending never seems to be associated with the debt it causes. Probably the height of government elitism and arrogance is Nancy Pelosi and her belief that unemployment insurance. “.. is one of the biggest stimuluses to our economy. Economists will tell you this money is spent quickly. It injects demand into the economy, and is job creating. It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name because, again, it is money that is needed for families to survive, and it is spent.” Certainly unemployment insurance is a safety net, but the idea that it is a stimulus and is job creating is the blind worldview of the out of touch elite. It is almost absurd that one has to explain that then unemployment insurance is less, usually about 60%, of a person’s wages and the result of unemployment is a sharp reduction in expenditures and the slow leaching of employees qualifications for future employment.

The employed in a recession will not be motivated to spend government stimulus because they are not short sighted and business will not spend or hire because of government stimulus or short term credits because they are not short sighted; in both cases the reasoning is economic maturity. Not only does government not have to balance a budget or make a profit, it is totally ignorant of either concept. The Obama administration has latched onto Keynesian economics theory, not because it has a proven track record, but because it espouses government control and planning. And as much as Neo-Keynesian economics becomes market oppressive, the concepts of a free market and supply and demand have created the greatest prosperity known to man. The reason is self-evident, the free market rewards initiative and delayed gratification and is to date the only economic theory that does not have to be forced on a populace; and like no other forced economic method, it promotes human dignity.

The use of Keynesian economic theory for the purpose of government planning is being rationalized to supposedly free Americans from economic worries. F.A. Hayek warned about this in his book, “The Road to Serfdom”, “It is often said that political freedom is meaningless without economic freedom. This is true, but in a sense almost opposite from that in which was used by our planners*. The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom can not be the freedom from economic care which the socialists promise us and which can be obtained only by relieving the individual at the same time of the necessity and the power of choice; it must be the freedom of our economic activity which, with the right of choice, inevitably also carries the risk and responsibility of that right.”

*”planners”, meaning those who would free us by making our economic choices for us. Since “The Road to Serfdom” (1944) was written before Orwell’s 1984 (1949) and the concept of “doublespeak”, Hayek becomes one of the first pre-Orwell to comment on what Hayek called the perversion of language.This was best personified when Christ stated, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man gives up his life for his friends

Sunday, October 31, 2010

David Broder Has Lost His Mind

Today when I read David Broder’s “Obama is Still Better Than the Competition”, the first thought that came to mind was, Is Broder looking for a job with the Obama Administration? I mean, Obama has an approval rating of about 41%, his policies have been an object failure and his economic advisers have all fled as Obama keeps writing checks on an ever increasingly overdrawn account, zeroing in on the Keynesian end point. What does Broder say about all this? Obama is “cleverer, and more inspirational then any one else” (actually he said he was that way and nothing has changed). He then goes on to say that Obama is “much better than the competition,” and that it doesn’t matter if he loses control of Congress because “he is much smarter than the competition.” Broder must be living in some socialist Bizaaro world, but he didn’t stop there. He then resigns himself that Obama’s economic stimulus policies have no chance of success as he admits the economic business cycle “almost resists political command,” and “the market will go where it is going to go;” so much for the Keynesian economic theory that has added $4 trillion to the nation debt in just two years with no reduction in the unemployment rate or increase in GDP. So what is the answer? Well go to war with Iran of course. I’m not kidding, this is Broder’s long range plan for economic rehabilitation! “The economy will improve…the nation will rally around Obama…and (Obama) may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.” This Op-Ed piece leaves us with two irrefutable facts. #1 we must remove from office Obama and any one else that believes in his agenda of radical re-distribution of wealth and liberation theology; and #2, David Broder has lost his mind and needs to go on a long vacation.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jerry Brown; A History of Failure to Act

When Jerry Brown was voted in as Governor, he inherited a $555,000,000 surplus from Governor Reagan at the end of Fiscal Year 1974-75. Brown allowed the surplus to balloon over three fiscal years until it reached $5,300,000,000 or a 954% increase. One of the main causes of the budget surplus was inflation and a housing bubble. The effect of inflation on property taxes also resulted in considerable hardship on home owners in the state at the time, but Brown refused to address the issue. This led to the Jarvis initiative and the passing Proposition 13 in 1978. At the same time, Brown pushed through another measure that was supposed to hold off, proposition 13 that called for the indexing of state income taxes for inflation; this saved California tax payers about $231 million, or $400 million over two years. Once Proposition 13 passed, Brown became a self-avowed, newborn tax cutter. However Brown did not see the necessity of maintaining the indexing, but he was overruled with Proposition 7, that made it permanent. Proposition 13 also placed the state in control of education. This directed a greater percentage of local property tax revenue to education and required more money from the state general fund to cover mandated expenses. As a result, Brown drained the state surplus and added 2 cents to the state gasoline tax. Many have tried to mitigate the gas tax increase as small, due to its price per gallon, but the result was well over $200 million a year.

While Jerry Brown been credited or demonized for raiding the state’s surplus, raising taxes and increasing spending when he was governor, this was all in reaction to Proposition 13 and the Carter recession that combined to drastically reduce tax revenues in California. But where does that leave Jerry Brown? If he has one major problem it is his hesitancy to act. During his first 4 years he spent way too much time posturing his austerity without taking the time to scope out the needs of the California voter. During this time, with a growing multi-billion dollar surplus he nothing at all with the money, no infrastructure building, no tax cuts, nothing. Afterwords, without being a newborn tax cutter, Brown could not have won the election. Jerry Brown is a political animal that has flown from the seat of his pants his entire career. If his political ads are a judge, I have little faith he has changed. When Jerry Brown was voted in as Governor, he inherited a $555,000,000 surplus from Governor Reagan at the end of Fiscal Year 1974-75. Brown allowed the surplus to balloon over three fiscal years until it reached $5,300,000,000 or a 954% increase. One of the main causes of the budget surplus was inflation and a housing bubble. Property taxes was one of the main causes of this runaway surplus that resulted in considerable hardship on home owners in the state at the time, but Brown refused to address the issue. This led to passing Proposition 13 in 1978. At the same time, Brown pushed through another measure that was supposed to hold off, proposition 13 that called for the indexing of state income taxes for inflation; this saved California tax payers about $231 million, or $400 million over two years. Once Proposition 13 passed, Brown became a self-avowed, newborn tax cutter. However Brown did not see the necessity of maintaining the indexing, but he was overruled with Proposition 7, that made it permanent. Proposition 13 also placed the state in control of education. This directed a greater percentage of local property tax revenue to education and required more money from the state general fund to cover mandated expenses. As a result, Brown drained the state surplus and added 2 cents to the state gasoline tax. Many have tried to mitigate the gas tax increase as small, due to its price per gallon, but the result was well over $200 million a year.

While Jerry Brown been credited or demonized for raiding the state’s surplus, raising taxes and increasing spending when he was governor, this was all in reaction to Proposition 13 and the Carter recession that combined to drastically reduce tax revenues in California. But where does that leave Jerry Brown? If he has one major problem it is his hesitancy to act. During his first 4 years he spent way too much time posturing his austerity without taking the time to scope out the needs of the California voter. Afterwords, without being a newborn tax cutter, Brown could not have won the election. Jerry Brown is a political animal that has flown from the seat of his pants his entire career. If his political ads are a judge, I have little faith he has changed. Brown says there should be no tax increases without a vote, sounds good, especially due to the fact that tax increase in California require a 2/3 popular vote. Lets hope his other ideas will be more robust than that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Letters to the Editor, 150 Words or Less

In the world of theater productions, there is the concept of presenting 3 one act plays with a similar theme; it's always a fun night out. I tend to be as wordy as a three act play, so here I present a series of 150 word or less vignettes as it were, that would also fit into the constraints of some letters to the editor if necessary.

The Problem With Metaphor
President Obama thinks he has found the perfect metaphor for the economy with, “After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want to keys back. No! You can’t drive. We don’t want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out.” But there is a problem with this analogy. As with President Obama, the Clinton Democrats also misread their victory as a ground swell toward socialism; they were so drunk with a perceived mandate, that the American voters put the Republicans back in charge as the designated driver. The problem is when the Democrats where voted back into the driver’s seat, they got drunk again. The car is still in a ditch, and the Democrats think the problem is not enough gasoline; this is still the thought process of a drunk.

Sam Farr, "Let Them Eat Obamacare"
When Sam Farr came to Santa Cruz, discussing the merits of Obamacare, he was asked about coverage and costs under federal control. Farr stated there would be a “cafeteria” plan much like he enjoys as a federal employee, he described his plan for his wife and children as costing $300 a month. Apparently he has been eating from the public trough for so long, he forgot the people were subsidizing his probable $2000 @ month plan. Everything about Obamacare has been a lie. You will not be able to keep your doctor or your old plan, your insurance rates are going to continue to increase and it will still increase the deficit a lot more than “one thin dime”. This is where the President and Democrats have been spending all their attention instead of trying to help the American people get back to work. It’s still the economy stupid!

The Stifling of Ron Williams
I am constantly impressed with Juan Williams’ readiness to discuss his beliefs and those of the left in a reasonable and none threatening matter. In other words, even though I disagree with Juan Williams politically, I admire him as a journalist and his personal integrity, the two being almost mutually exclusive these days, especially from the progressive left. On October 20th, Juan Williams exposed an emotional bias that many have since 911 against those in Muslim "garb" at airports, saying it “makes him nervous". This is not bigotry, it is bringing an emotional belief systems to the surface to be examined. All of us have emotional reactions to persons and situations that do not necessarily reflect our worldview. One can keep them buried and brand any discussion as bigotry and/or racism, or we can open it up for discussion. NPR is obviously more comfortable with the latter than the former.

The CRS Doubts the Constitutionality of Obamacare

The CRS Congressional Research Service is a non-partisan research agency, similar to the Congressional Budget Office. “If a member (of Congress) decides to introduce a bill, CRS analysts can assist the legislator (or his or her staff) in clarifying the purposes of the bill, identifying issues it may address, defining alternative ways for dealing with them, evaluating the possible advantages and disadvantages of each alternative, developing information and arguments to support the bill, and anticipating possible criticisms of the bill and responses to them.” Recently the CRS has released a report casting doubt on constitutionality of Obamacare's “Individual Mandate”. CNSNEWS . Gee, wouldn’t it have been nice to have worked this out before all the political will from the Democrat’s was wasted on Obamacare. So when Nancy Pelosi was asked where the Constitution authorizes congress to order Americans to buy health insurance was, and she replied with, “Are you serious?” A follow-up statement should been, “Well, yeah.”

Through the Eyes of an Independent.
It is difficult for a partisan to understand an independent. It starts with the belief that either party is just a capable to run the country. The current trend toward voting out incumbents has little to do with any conservative mandate. What the Independents want is the balance our founding fathers tried to build into the system. Independents tend to ignore negative politicking, they are more concerned with a candidates strengths and beliefs, rather than weaknesses viewed through a partisan prism. It is a misnomer that the American voter is easy swayed or manipulated. The reality is, after generations of being the target of the most sophisticated marketing strategies ever conceived, the American voter has become the most difficult group of people on the planet to manipulate. But they continue to be offered everything but what they really want; honesty and transparency.

Those Sexy Financial Instruments
The purpose of the stock market is for a business to sell stocks, or a percentage of ownership, so the money can be used to grow the business and the investor can share in the profits. The Glass-Stegall Act (1933), stopped the practice of betting on stock movements; a form of legalized gambling. When Glass-Stegall was repealed in 1999, the practice resumed as naked derivatives. Rather than inject money into business or economy, these derivatives allow investment banks to create debt on a scale never believed possible because they are not based on the purchase of any underlying assets, but a bet on whether they will go up or down. The problem with these instruments is their uselessness; they’re identical to playing craps, where the shooter is betting $5 on the pass line and there is a $100,000 being played on odds bets. But there is no funding of anything.

Democrats; Their Own Worst Enemy
The President and Democrats have been trying to convince voters that the problem in Washington is the Republicans so called obstructionism. Certainly there can be no doubt that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, with the help of President Obama has created the most partisan Congress in modern history. The plan was simple, the Democrats believed, since they had the Presidency and control of both houses, a filibuster proof Senate and near 2/3 House, there was no need to include the Republicans in any of the Health Care reform debates. The only offer of bi-partisanship to the Republicans was to vote for what ever bill Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi came up with. But half the Democrats wanted single payer and the other half did not. Still, in their arrogance they thought could pass a bill needing 100% agreement without the Republicans; the result stymied the Democratic Party and there lies the blame.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Juan Williams and the Carpetbagger Progressives

I am constantly impressed with Juan Williams’ readiness to discuss his beliefs and those of the left in a reasonable and none threatening matter. Unlike most liberals, Williams is comfortable enough with his belief system that he does not need to personally attack those with differing opinions. Further, in the political world of Kool-Aid drinkers on both sides, Juan Williams as a left leaning journalist is not bound by the political dogma of the left. In other words, even though I disagree with Juan Williams politically, I admire him as a journalist and his personal of integrity, the two being almost mutually exclusive these days, especially from the progressive left. On October 20th, Juan Williams exposed an emotional bias that many have since 911 against those in Muslim "garb" at the airport, saying it "makes (him) nervous". This is not bigotry, it is bringing emotional belief systems to the surface to be examined. All of us have emotional reactions to persons and situations that do not reflect our worldview. One can keep them buried and brand any discussion as bigotry and/or racists, or we can be open to any subject for discussion. Part of drinking the progressive left Kool-Aid is the former; the shutting down of free expression.

In an similar incident to the October 20th, 2010 incident on the O’Reilly Show, Juan Williams said on January 26, 2009 that Michelle Obama needs to be careful not to overplay the Black victimization card, “Michelle Obama, you know, she's got this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going. If she starts talking, as Mary Katharine is suggesting, her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I'm the victim. If that stuff starts coming out, people will go bananas and she'll go from being the new Jackie O to being something of an albatross.” The result was NPR ordered Williams to refrain from mentioning employment with NPR when on the O’Reilly Show. On the 20th, he made the below statement and NPR fired him after 10 years of employment without any discussion.

The progressive left continues to define itself as the protector of the common man and those who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex or sexual orientation. But to be accepted by the progressive left, each of these sub-categories are required to play a role and take on a forced consensus of victimization. Those of a protected race must identify themselves as victims of racism; those of a nationality or religion must consider themselves a victim of discrimination; females must believe that abortion is an inalienable right; and homosexuals must demand not parity but approval of their lifestyle. But when a black man, like Juan Williams, who has a long background of supporting civil rights, actually attempts a dialog on discrimination, he must be silenced and if possible banished; NPR ends up firing their only black journalist and in effect tried to discredit him as such. A similar banishment was seen in the Climate-Gate emails, where global warming scientists contacted colleges to try and get them to rescind the skeptics degrees and redefine the peer review system by only allowing one point of view.

This not only has the affect of cooling any meaningful discussion, it appears that there is a cleansing going on. George Soros, the world government billionaire, who views himself as god like, has been the man behind the curtain in funding just about every left wing anti-constitution group in the country through his Democracy Alliance, including the Tides Foundation (a foundation dedicated to protecting left wing money trail), has just dumped another $1.8 million into NPR to hire reporters through his Open Society Foundation and another $1 million to Media Matters. Media Matters has reportedly claimed not to have received it’s funding from George Soros directly, as if there is a mystical wall between Soros and his or Center for American Progress, which has funded Media Matters with tens of millions of dollars. Almost immediately after Williams was fired, a Media Matters writer called for the firing of another NPR member that shows up on the O’Reilly Factor, named Mara Liasson. NPR Senor fellow, Eric Boehlert replied to the Media Matters posting with, "I'm not suggesting Liasson has said anything as offensive as Williams, or that she has that kind of track record while appearing on Fox," Boehlert writes. "I'm just saying that if you look at NPR's code of ethics, there's simply no way Liasson should be making appearances on Fox."

So what is happening is a ratcheting up of the left wing propaganda machine. The left sees it is losing it’s grasp on the American people, but it also knows the average American is angry at government and somewhat divided, which creates areas of weakness to exploit. The left has been selling its message for the need of it's elite leadership and more government control with a corresponding weakening of individual rights, so more government-controlled entitlements will be available for the collective. But the message is not taking hold. There is no doubt that the majority of Americans feel the same way as Juan Williams, but the progressive left relies on a lack of discussion of any critical societal issues. They prefer that citizens see these issues as irreconcilable without the controlling hand of big government. But, this can not happen when journalists like Juan Williams are willing to bring these subjects to the surface for discussion; areas where American exceptionalism has a history of blending differences through the prism of equal opportunity, individual rights and liberty. In the south, racists had a word for blacks that did not know their place and refused to kowtow to their world order. It seems the progressive left has resurrected the concept and that’s a long ugly trip in the wrong direction.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lord Monckton and the History of the Global Warming Scheme

Lord Monckton has no ax to grind but the truth. A self schooled mathematician he has taken on Man Made Global Warming and is quite possibly the most articulate and knowledgeable person on the subject on the planet. Having the ability to explain extremely complicated concepts in an very understandable manner, he was challenged to debate MMGW at the world famous Oxford Union, the world’s premier debating society and won. To this date Al Gore nor any other MMGW advocate will debate him on the subject. Below is an interview he did for

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Keynesian Economists and Drug Addicts

One of the main Blame Bush talking points is that the economy was in such bad shape after the Bush meltdown, that it will take more than the last 18 months to turn the economy around; and there is some truth to this. The problem is Obama seems to be going in the same direction that Bush was going in when the economy failed. While the sub-prime banking failure pushed the economy over the edge, the economy was already suffering a slow down that caused Bush to institute a $300 billion stimulus plan. The cause of the economic slowdown was primarily the rising cost of oil, which had risen to from $45 a barrel at the end of 2006, to $80 a barrel at the end of 2007 (it would continue to rise to $135 a barrel in 2008). So one could argue that the recession and banking meltdown, while closely related at the time, are now two different problems. And with the banks repaying the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money and oil prices at least the same as 2007 levels, it would seem the economy was ripe for a Keynesian stimulus. The problem is Keynesian economics is a farce and stimuluses don't ever work.

President Obama poured over $800 billion into the American economy as a stimulus with almost nothing to show for it. He said this stimulus would be dealt out to shovel ready projects to get the economy going again. But what became obvious almost immediately, was the money instead disappeared into state coffers, unemployment insurance and left wing projects dreamed up by the Apollo Alliance (the liberal think tank that wrote the stimulus bill). This left even the heavily partisan Paul Krugman, to denounce in several of his Op-Ed pieces that the stimulus wasn’t a stimulus. Paul Krugman said that the $800 billion stimulus needed to be much larger and used more for stimulus projects, such a repairing and building infrastructure, such as a rail tunnel so workers in New Jersey will have less traffic when they drive to and from New York, even though both states have unemployment rates over 10%. While Krugman has not given a specific figure, one can suppose that he is talking trillions of dollars; this would be added to the $2.5 trillion debt left by 8 years of Bush Administration and the additional $2.5 trillion in debt already attributed to President Obama in his first two years. And of course, if a theoretical $1.5 trillion 2nd stimulus did not kick start the economy, than Krugman would say it’s because it was also not big enough. I would like to borrow a line from who deconstructs every Paul Krugman Op-Ed piece. “They convince themselves that if only they had “more” everything would work perfect. Two types of people in this world have that mentality. Keynesian economists and drug addicts.”

But in a rare refreshing moment, President Obama in a recent interview with the New York Times, conceded that the shovel ready projects his stimulus was supposed fund, not only didn't exist, but there is "No such thing as shovel-ready projects". But it does make one wonder, then where did all the money really go? All that is necessary now is for the President to realize that government cannot create jobs; that borrowing large amounts of money to stimulate the economy and loan to bankers, makes about as much sense as cutting taxes without cutting spending, and simultaneously fighting two wars. And finally, while cutting taxes is not the answer to everything, increasing taxes is certainly the way to increase unemployment, especially raising taxes on the top 2% who are the ones that will most likely fund most of the new jobs. But I may be asking for way to much.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Krugman Reduced To Shilling for the Democrats

The other day I heard a liberal radio program KSCO “What’s Left” rag on the Republican Pledge plan. The primary ammunition was an article by Paul Krugman (Downhill With the G.O.P.), where he cites another economist Howard Gleckman of the “nonpartisan” (quotations added) Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.” The deejay hammered anyone who called with an alternate view with, “There is no way this will work, look at what a nonpartisan economist said.”

The flaws in Krugman's article starts with the Tax Policy Center, which is anything but non-partisan, and is part of the Brookings Institute, which is a progressive think tank that embraces Krugman's Neo-Keynesian theories. As I said before Krugman views taxes and revenue as a zero sum gain; the more taxes the more revenues, the less taxes to less revenue. They refused to acknowledge decades of history that that have shown higher tax rates create diminishing returns (see video below). During the Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton and Bush years, tax cuts actually increased tax revenues; the fact that Regan and Bush redistributed increased government spending as debt, does not negate the fact that the tax cuts did increase revenues. The true root of Krugman's belief system is businesses in the free market can not be trusted to properly invest and spend the money they create, so it is necessary to heavily tax all earnings so the government can re-distribute earnings through targeted tax breaks and low interest loans; in other words they want to tax business and loan the money back to them as they see fit.

Krugman is also using the Progressive spin on the Bush tax cuts. What they want you to believe is Congress is going to cut taxes. This of course is ludicrous, because the tax cuts we are talking about occurred 10 years ago. What the Democrats are talking about is raising taxes, about $700 billion over 10 years on those that make over $250,000, which they call the rich. What’s interesting is the Democrats have already spent the money and are bemoaning the fact that if they can’t raise these taxes on the rich, then they will have to borrow the money, which will add to the deficit. Don’t you wish you could use this logic on your boss? There is also no doubt in anyone’s mind any tax increases will increase unemployment and reduce GNP by as much or more as the tax revenue it raises. And since the $700 billion figure is based on 2009 GNP computed over 10 years, there is a real possibility that the tax revenues will be considerably less as the GNP is reduced.

When John Maynard Keynes wrote his theories on macroeconomics, he was still a firm believer in the free market and argued that his theories were designed to save capitalism. He was also pragmatic; when asked what he would do if he was wrong about any of his theories, he was famous for saying, “I will change my mind, what do you do?” But Krugman's Neo-Keynesian theories have thrown out any real attempt to save capitalism, concentrating more on Social Justice and the redistribution of wealth; in this matter Krugman has become what Keynes called idiotic, which is a Socialist; more accurately a New Deal Socialist. Krugman has forsaken any real economic thought and has simply created a partisan economic theory based on the spending wants of the progressive Democrats. This was driven home in his most recent article “Fear and Favor”. In this article Krugman throws away any credibility he might have had left, and shows himself as nothing but a shill for the Democratic party. While he had one passing economic comment about the Bush tax cuts, the rest of the article was a non-economic tirade against Fox News; starting with calling the Tea Party the Klu Klux Klan, “A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you’re starring in “The Birth of a Nation.” Then, being true to form, he marks off a list of the tired old complaints we have already heard about Fox from the progressives, “Ministry of Propagana”, "Orwellian fair and balanced”, and of course Fox now runs the Republican Party, which has been bought and paid for by Rupert Murdoch.

So now we know Paul Krugman and Robert Gibbs pretty much have the same job. The only difference is, much like Krugman’s allegation that Fox hires lawyers, scientists and economic prostitutes, Krugman complains most about what he has become, and much like the Climatologists that worked in obscurity until global warming reared it's ugly head, he has sold his soul to extend his 15 minutes of fame beyond it's usefulness. I will leave you with these three You Tube videos. The first is an Obama and Hillary debate. In this debate, Obama said he would raise the Capital Gains tax, even though it would reduce tax revenues for the sake of "fairness". This is the same logic used by Krugman and the political elite who really don’t care about tax revenues, they just want control of income so they can be the ones who re-distribute wealth according to their economic planning.

The second is a debate between Linda McMahon and Dick Blumethal for a Connecticut Senate seat, which has become an overnight sensation on "how to create a job". This is the best example I have seen that demonstrates how someone as intelligent as Paul Krugman, is so clueless to how the world really works outside academia.

And the third is Nancy Pelosi explaining how food stamps and unemployment insurance are the best way to create jobs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

911 Truth, Explosive Demolition and Occam's Razor

One of the definitions of a Conspiracy Theory is the non-belief of the official account of an incident and the belief of an incredibly complicated series of events rather than the simpler official account; this is especially true of “911Truth.” Every aspect of “911Truth” is immensely complicated with no cohesive chain of events to tie it together. I’m writing this article is bring up what I believe are some near insurmountable issues with the corner stone of the 911Truth movement, that of explosive demolition of the Twin Towers and Building 7. I do not claim to be an expert in explosive demolition, but as a career police officer I have dealt with bomb experts and military ordinance experts. I have also been present during training exercises involving car bombs and IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices). Further I have researched explosive demolition and researched as much information I could find on CDI, Controlled Demolition Inc. Here is a simple primer of explosive demolition. How Stuff Works

On May 8, 2010, there was Firefighters for 9/11Truth and Architects and Engineers for 9/11Truth conference in the San Francisco area to discuss their work. One of the guest speakers was a gentleman by the name of Tom Sullivan who had previously worked for Controlled Demolition, Inc. Norcaltruth. Here is a transcript of the beginning of his presentation and explanation of how a controlled demolition is done.

“First you have to weaken the building and that’s after studies are done by structural engineers; to explain exactly how the building was built in the first place. At that point staircases are cut at intervals, firewalls are removed, elevator shafts are cut, including the rails and the elevator cars removed. Then all of the support columns on the load floors are cut with a torch and that essentially removes 20% of their strength. And even with all that compromising and weakening the building is still safe to enter; we keep working in it…. the story that just a few column failures can cause synchronized global collapse, well I gotta tell you that’s just nonsense. The final step at this point is you would load the building with RDX charges and they have individual delays and some times two to three different delays on a given floor. So the work is very complex and precise, requiring years of experience;” “Wireless detonators have been around for years. You look at any action movie you see these things going off all the time. And then of course the military has them. Contractors don’t use them; why? Because they’re just too expensive.” On the referenced web site there are also some bullet points about Sullivan’s presentation including.

2.) Another myth is that miles of detcord would be found in the debris pile. On this point, Sullivan mentioned the remote-controlled detonators that have been in use for many years. CDI has on their own website a section that talks about their own remote-controlled demolition capabilities called DREXS (Directional Remote Explosive Severance).

Okay lets take this a part. First lets start out with the purpose of explosive demolition. The purpose is to create a controlled environment so a building can demolished without all the trouble of banging it with a big steel ball or the dangerous job of many workers with torches cutting up the building. The explosions are designed to cause the building to fall into it’s own footprint with as little mess as possible (we’ll come back to this).

“First you have to weaken the building and that’s after studies are done by structural engineers; to explain exactly how the building was built in the first place. At that point staircases are cut at intervals, firewalls are removed, elevator shafts are cut, including the rails and the elevator cars removed. Then all of the support columns on the load floors are cut with a torch.” One can assume that all these steps are necessary for a successful controlled demolition. What Sullivan did not mention is that after the firewalls are removed and the stairs and elevators cut, the building is defacto gutted. This is not something that could have been done in a weekend. Sullivan also mentioned that after this weakening process the building is still safe to walk into. Sure it might be safe to walk into, but the building would no longer be functional for the purposes of doing any business and of course it would be instantly obvious that the inside of the building had been significantly modified. One can not use the logic that all this pre-weakening is a prerequisite for implosion "the story that just a few column failures can cause synchronized global collapse", but then say it was not necessary in this case.

So if we are talking about Building 7, the building that seemed to drop right down into it’s own footprint as in a classic controlled demolition, we are left with a conundrum. How could Building 7 be imploded using controlled demolition, if none of the pre-weakening was done? There appears to be no known technology to implode an intact occupied building in this manner and it surely would have required more explosives without the weakening, making the explosions much more violent. The next obvious issue is more speculative but just as germane. Who would you get to do such a thing? As Sullivan said, it would require a crew with years of experience, so it would require a team of psychotic murdering controlled demolition experts. Where would one even look for such a team?

But lets move on. Let’s suppose that the technology does exist to secretly use controlled demolition on an occupied building without the weakening process. The next issue, after setting all the charges would be how to set them off. As Sullivan said, “The final step at this point is you would load the building with RDX charges and they have individual delays and some times two to three different delays on a given floor.” The conventional wisdom or most commonly stated conspiracy theory is the charges were set off with wireless charges; as Sullivan said, “Wireless detonators have been around for years. You look at any action movie you see these things going off all the time. And then of course the military has them. Contractors don’t use them; why? Because they’re just too expensive.” After talking with explosive experts and a lot of research, I am certain that Sullivan errored here, probably due to inexperience. Sullivan first said contractors do not use wireless detonators, since he has not made any claims of working for moviemakers or the military, than it is probable, that he does not know their limitations. Therefore he might believe the reason is cost, when actually it is some quite different.

There are two related reasons why wireless detonators are not used by contractors involved with explosive demolition. The first is wireless detonators are not positive or accurate enough. Wireless detonators use radio frequencies (RF) that do not always reach their intended target at the intended time. When used for special effects or by the military, wireless detonators are usually line of sight and not used for anything even approaching the complexity of taking down a building with explosive demolition. The same can be said for microwave technology, such as cellphone triggers used with IEDs. How often does a radio fade out or cellphone lose it’s signal? This can especially be problematic with buildings. I remember when the City of Santa Cruz built their new Police Station; they had to install a Nextel microwave booster because our phones would not work inside the building. The second reason wireless detonators are not used for explosive demolition is safety. Once a wireless detonators is set, there is no way to insulate it from stray RF signals. If you are in a remote area, then the possibility is very slight. But if you are in a large city, there are a large amount of RF and microwaves swirling all around, the odds of an accidental triggering is high, and certainly too high to risk your life.

Another myth is that miles of detcord would be found in the debris pile. On this point, Sullivan mentioned the remote-controlled detonators that have been in use for many years. CDI has on their own website a section that talks about their own remote-controlled demolition capabilities called DREXS (Directional Remote Explosive Severance). Here is a point of either confusion or ignorance. The 911Truth conference web site brings up the issue of some proprietary explosive system used by CDI called DREXS (Directional Remote Explosive Severance). Due to the fact the name includes “Remote” it was assumed by the writer that it is some form of wireless remote explosive. But since Sullivan has already told us that contractors do not use wireless detonators, then it should be obvious the DREXS is not wirelessly detonated and most likely “Remote” takes on the meaning of something being done either at a distance and/or automatically. The CDI site tells us “DREXS (Directional Remote Explosive Severance) System facilitate the demolition or dismantling of all types of steel and concrete facilities to provide the safe, expeditious and cost-effective removal of industrial structures.” Another 911Truth site gave this quote from CDI “Our DREXSTM systems . . . segment steel components into pieces matching the lifting capacity of the available equipment.” From these two quotes we can surmise that CDI is not touting a remote controlled system, but a system that cuts the building up in segmented pieces of a predetermined size so it is easier to cart away. The most common means of detonating explosives is with “primacord” or detonating (det) cord. As mentioned by many debunkers of 911Truth, there would have been miles of these cords reaching from a detonation center to every charge and they would have been obvious to everyone.

Finally, I told you I’d get back to the primary purpose of explosive demolition. Since there is no evidence that the weakening process was done on these buildings, then we are in un-chartered waters in knowing if the technology exists to implode an occupied building the size of the twin towers or Building 7. But the question must be asked, Why go to all the trouble to implode the buildings? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just take out the main supports and let them collapse in some less structured way? The purpose of explosive demolition is for safety and to leave as little mess as possible; something that was obviously not in the mind of a person who would want to destroy an occupied building. In order to implode a building one needs expertise that has been defined as an art form. There is probably less than half a dozen demolition companies in the world that could take on a project like this; but certainly no reputable company would,  but it's feasible one could set off some cutting charges on some main supports that could cause the building to come down in all sort of ways that wouldn’t have to be an implosion.

As I said before, the purpose of this article is not to debunk 911Truth, but to raise doubts about the theory of explosive demolition. Beyond the way the towers and especially building 7 looked as they fell, there is really no evidence of an explosive demolition. The only other observance was the puffs that blew out the windows of the twin towers as the pancaked down. To even a casual observer it is obvious that air pressure would be blowing out the windows for several stories below, as the air trapped between the floors needed someplace to go. There are also a lot of people that heard what they thought were explosions, which I’m sure they did. When a 110 story building is collapsing, or just about to collapse, there is no telling what is going on inside and the violence of the collapse can certainly sound like explosions. In my mind there are a lot of questions about why 911 happened, but I have no doubt how it didn't happened; it’s a matter of Occam's razor.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Part 2 How the Government Lies About GDP; Imputations and More Hedonics

This is part 2 of, "How the Government Lies About Inflation and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)." Again, for this article I am borrowing heavily from; I highly recommend you check out his site, but as always be open minded and skeptical. In Part 1, How the Government Lies About Inflation; Substitution, Weighting and Hedonics I discussed how inflation numbers are manipulated. This article will explore the manipulation of GDP numbers. The GDP tells us how much stuff we have acquired by calculating economic value added transactions; every time you buy a car, food, a new bicycle, a computer that is added to the GDP. It is very common to compare debt or income taxes to show we have never had it so good.

I’m sure no one will be surprised that these numbers have also been cooked. GDP numbers are manipulated using what is called “imputations”, or when it (is) assumed that economic value had been created but no actual transactions took place. The big imputations are free checking and home ownership. The government figures that a checking account has value and the fact that it is offered for free means it is value added and is included in the GNP. Probably the most fraudulent imputation is when a home is owed out right, so there are no mortgage payments. The government believes that everybody or family either pays rent or makes house payments, if this is not the case they add the amount one would be expected to pay for rent to the GDP. That’s right, the fact that you own your house, means your house has added value because you don’t pay rent. Add just these two imputations and you increase GNP by over $1 trillion in 2003 dollars.

Next we have "hedonics", described in Part1 as “the absurd concept that if something costs the same year to year, but has added features or improvements, then you are paying less than its actual worth.” In this description Matenson used computers as a example. The price of computers has stayed pretty much the same for years, yet they are faster and have more and more bells and whistles. The government creates a value for the additional speed, bells and whistles and adds it to the GDP. Further the difference between GDP hedonics and inflation hedonics is with GDP it is added, but with inflation it is subtracted. So a hedonics value that had been subtracted from inflation is added to GDP; the amount in 2003 dollars is an unbelievable $2.3 trillion! “Taken together (imputations and hedonics), these mean that $3.9 trillion, or fully 35% of our reported (2003) GDP ($11 trillion), was NOT BASED on transactions that you could witness, record, or touch. They were guessed at, modeled, or imputed, but they did not show up in any bank accounts, because no cash ever changed hands.”

Finally all GDP numbers are supposedly always inflation-adjusted, but that is not necessary the case. Oh yes, inflation is subtracted from the GDP, but “for the past fifteen quarters the Bureau of Economic Analysis has been serenely and systematically subtracting lower and lower amounts of inflation, which simply flies in the face of both real-world inflation data and common sense.”

Matenson ends this portion by saying, “Suddenly a lot of things that were difficult to understand make perfect sense. Contracting businesses, rising foreclosures, job losses, rising budget deficits, falling tax revenues, declining auto sales; all of these are consistent with recession and not expansion.”

The issue here is even if the government started to show some maturity and faced this country’s economic problems we would have no place to start. The President would have to lower the GDP and raise the inflation levels, which when you think about it might be a positive thing; how could one imagine a more disillusioned public then we have today. Since everyone’s economic status would remain the same, only redefined in more plausible terms, it might even build confidence that someone is actually being honest and doing something. This is of course is what the citizens of the United Sates have been screaming for. Obama tapped into this need with his "Hope and Change", but failed to deliver what many view as a dishonest ends justifying means fashion. It’s the economy stupid. Please, please, it’s the economy. Our free market economy and the liberty we enjoy are two sides of the same coin, lose one and we lose the other.