Category Archives: Badly-Thought Out Rants

Gotta start writing here again

It’s time.
This website is about to become: Guitar Lust!

Or maybe Guitar Lust + a few other minor topics. We’ll see…

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Some Suggested Readings

Read this. The first section, where Rep. Nancy Pelosi wants to prosecute Republicans for something she failed to object to when given an opportunity.

Then read this, where Democrats are deliberately sidestepping our system of democracy in order to get universal health care without exposing themselves to political risk for doing so.  Shouldn’t something as big as universal health care get debated?

This one is good, too. Democrats are so in bed with their special interests that they throw poor, minority kids under the bus.

Then check this out: Democrats/Liberals are so committed to promotion on the basis of race/gender proportions, that they would rather no one fill the position than too many white males.  And it results in someone’s death.

This stunning bit of self-serving hypocrisy just must be read.  No summary on this one.

Heck, check out this: Liberals break federal law to enact the laws they wish we had.

Read this, too: A little redundant, considering President Obama’s education, but noteworthy nonetheless.

And all this follows Perez Hilton’s dishonest ambushing of Miss California. I can’t imagine a bigger jerk.  His reasoning is incoherent and stupid, as well.  His exact words: “Do you think other states should follow suit?  Why or why not?”  She answered the question.  She answered it honestly.  And Perez penalized her for not telling him what he wanted to hear.

He claimed her answer was divisive, and Miss America should not be divisive.  Well, if she had answered that, “Yes, other states should follow suit [and allow gay marriage],” then wouldn’t she have angered the 60% majority in the US that opposes gay marriage?  That’s a transparent lie on the part of Perez to give cover to the fact that he blindsided her with an unfair question, hoping to embarrass or surprise her into providing a PR boost to the gay marriage issue.

Then when asked if he wanted her to lie, he stated that she should have been more circumspect, because she was in California, of all places!  Well, WTF?  California did reject gay marriage.  A majority of voters in California did reject gay marriage.  So her answer was perfect on that score.  But, no: Perez Hilton was hoping to shame California for not doing what he wanted.

The common thread of all this?

Democrats/Liberals don’t care about law, they don’t care about consistency, they don’t care about democracy, they don’t care about logic, they don’t care about facts, they don’t care about civility, or honesty, or fairness.  They just want what they want, and they want it now, and they will use any technique to get it, because in their mind, the end justifies the means, and they’ll find a way to justify it after they get what they want.

Which usually means blaming the inevitable failure on Republicans and/or white males.

Idiots.

(and this was all just from today)

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What Do I Think Is Happening in the US Political Scene These Days?

I’m glad you asked.

I think that, contrary to all those people saying that newspapers just don’t get it, they get it just fine.  They saw that the rise of blogs would end their monopoly of gatekeeping, and they bitterly fought against it, tooth and nail, for as long as they could.  They tried to be subtle in 2004, but when that didn’t work, they went all out in 2008.  They knew that capital that isn’t spent is lost, so they pulled every dirty propaganda trick in the book to try and hand control of the Presidency and the Legislature to Democrats.  They did this in order to have a shot at re-instating the Fairness Doctrine, or, failing that, to enact and entrench a massive increase in government spending, taxation, and social programs that would take decades to roll back, if ever.

In the liberal/Democrat belief system, Democrats are on the side of the little guy, which excuses them taking all sorts of bribes from corporations and special interests.  Thus, it really hurts liberals to have people spontaneously rise up in protest against their pet project of a Second Great Society.

Moreover, President Obama is now getting to initiate the Liberal/Democrat approach to International Diplomacy.  And the approach stinks to high heaven.

There is enough information around now for people to see how liberal entertainers selectively pick on conservative politicians, even when said conservative politicians are cool enough to laugh along with them.  They see how hypocritical liberals and Democrats are towards actions/decisions that they complain about when conservatives do them, but applaud when liberal politicians do them.  And the common people can see how plainly President Obama lied during the campaign to get elected, and how every aspect of the liberal establishment (news media, entertainment, and education) lied and dissembled and distorted and concealed to help it happen.

Despite all that, they pretty much like President Obama as a person.

But they don’t trust the gatekeepers anymore.

So they are assembling in Tea Parties.  And they are turning against abortion.  And they are starting to support gun ownership and reject gun control in ever-increasing numbers.  And they want low taxes.

Basically, the United States elected President Obama because they do feel they have moved past racism, and wanted to prove it.  Not the best of reasons, but it is interesting and ironic that electing President Obama would presage and be a symbol of the widespread rejection of liberal ideology.

Just rambling thoughts, but that’s what you get on a blog.

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Privacy and “Big Brother”

One of the big objections to technology and The State is that technology will be used to “spy” on you.  Or, in some cases, that we can use the same technology to help keep the government in check. But follow the links to read the introduction to the book linked there: it is chock full of “paranoia”-type distopian predictions of violated privacy rights.  I put “paranoia” in scare quotes because, well, those things are actually possible and even likely.  The paranoia part comes from the attitude towards those developments, not the fact of the technology being used that way.

I’m somewhat sanguine about technology used to monitor citizens.  Maybe I’m stupid or naive, but I don’t think so.

I feel that one huge aspect to privacy is the ability to keep your private thoughts and acts secret from the people whose opinion you care about.  It doesn’t exactly bother most people to let their spouse see them naked, or to have their 1-year-old walk into the bathroom while they are using it, right?  Your doctor can tell you to undress and poke into all sorts of private areas.  And if you can’t do it for yourself, someone has to wipe your bottom (this sort of situation occurring most at both ends of the lifespan).

One of the reasons I wasn’t that upset about government intrustion of privacy it is just that aspect.  If everyone is being watched all the time, the amount of data would be so mountainous that no one would get watched.  Your privacy would come from the fact that, really, no one really wants to watch you take a shower.  And I know that supervisors and systems can make sure such information is not accessed by someone looking for that sort of titillation.  All this is somewhat visualized by David Brin.

The thing is, I don’t think David Brin really addresses one of the basic bits of complaints about “privacy invasion.”  Simply put, most people want to be able to break the law on a regular basis.  People want the freedom to do engage in criminal acts without becoming criminals.  Most people want to do things they know are wrong with the confidence that they probably won’t be caught.

You think I’m full of crap?  A simple, widespread example: If the speed limit is 55, people will set their cruise control at 57 or 58.  If the speed limit is 70, people will set their cruise control at 72.  People expect to get that 2-3 mph free.  They expect the police won’t be so anal and their equipment won’t be so precise, that if they are pulled over for going 71, they feel they would be able to so easily argue out of that ticket that the police won’t bother to pull them over for going 71 in the first place.

Okay, I’m really wasting quite a bit of time/space to make my point, which is:

I see technology, not as a threat to privacy, but as a guarantor of privacy.  There may be a period of time where privacy is reduced rather than increased, but I do think technology will eventually allow the establishment of algorithms and methods that will only capture those who are engaging in criminal activity.

Yes, I think the government will eventually have the ability to know that someone is sexually molesting a child in their basement and convict that person on the basis of that knowledge, yet still not know that you and your spouse like to use a few S&M toys in your bedroom.  The government will eventually be able to know that someone is constructing a bomb to explode in a Jewish daycare center without knowing that you are sitting around with your friends complaining about the President’s new tax policy.

I think this technology will grow out of technology and techniques used to identify insurgents hiding in a crowd of non-combatant civilians.

It is a targeting problem, really.  And targeting problems are insanely difficult to solve…but not impossible.  Eventually we will be able to solve them.  Will we?

It depends.

Will you agree to allowing the government the ability to stop another terrorist attack if it means there is a potential (but extreme unlikelihood) you could be seen sitting on your toilet?  Will you agree to allowing the government the ability to catch a rapist if it means you might have to answer a question about a “joke” you made about killing the President?

Why or why not?  Don’t base your objection on the case of “mistakes in judgement” on the part of the government, because the assumption is that the algorithms have been tweaked to avoid false positives.

What I’m getting at is: are you going to allow the government to stop criminal activity even if it means your own criminal activity will be stopped?

Because that will call into question all sorts of laws, won’t it?

Technology will force almost all our laws to be re-written with a great deal more precision…or else we’ll end up with an even greater disparity in law enforcement than we already do, i.e., tax laws don’t apply to the Democratic Party politicians who pass them.

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Wrong

I am not happy Barack Obama is our President, and I think he’s made numerous blunders, mistakes, errors, and bad decisions that make our nation less safe, less strong, less free, and less content.

But it does bother me that other than one reference right at the beginning to President Obama’s title, this article refers to him as “Mr. Obama” thereafter.  As best I understand it, that’s flat out wrong and disrespectful to the Office.

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President Obama’s Administration is Fumbling the Ball

This is turning out to be the most inept administration as far back as I can think of.

Evidence 1: Changing the rules based on populist outrage is wrong and stupid.

Evidence 2: Depending on ACORN for anything is wrong and stupid.

Evidence 3: Why are progressive values more important to export than Democracy and Liberty? 

Evidence 4: Less than a week after screwing up Russian (in a lame attempt to backstab the former President George W. Bush’s administration) on a “reset” button, the State Dept screws up the President of Brazil’s name.

Evidence 5: After making campaign accusations that President Bush wasn’t taking care of veterans, President Obama wants to make veterans pay for their own treatment.

Evidence 6: National debt hits record $11 trillion. Nearly (conservative estimate, may be far more than) $2 trillion is just for bailouts that President Obama asked for.

Evidence 7: Bailout money tends to go to those who contributed most to President Obama’s campaign.

Result:  Losing the populace, and maybe even the base.
The worst part?  This is all just off the top of my head, and all within this week.

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Political-Economic Philosophy

I’ve thought for some time that I cannot accept some of the main premises of Libertarianism.  That’s in other posts, and a summation can wait for another day.

Obviously (I think?), there are also some parts of the Republican platform that I can’t get behind, either.  And I especially dislike some non-official-policy positions taken by some Republicans, like corruption and pork and moderate social positions.

I’m into inherited and demonstrated wisdom for those types of things.

But here’s the point that may end up causing a split between me and other Republicans and conservatives.  I don’t know how it will turn out.

I am growing to dislike Capitalism.

Now, to clarify, that doesn’t mean I like Communism or Socialism.  Mercantilism doesn’t float my boat, either, not even in a rising tide. (heh)

I am, however, a great proponent of mostly-free markets.  And despite what people may tell you, that’s not the same thing at all.  At least, from my perspective.

Just like government is there and should be restricted to those things we cannot do ourselves (like national defense and resolving disputes between states), our economic system is there and should be restricted to doing the things that can’t be done on an individual basis.  For instance, in Communism, everybody works together, the profits are pooled, and everyone unselfishly takes just what they need.  The leftover goes to maintain infrastructure, buy new cows, etc.  In Socialism, everyone works their own job in their own place, but taxes take most of what you earn, leaving you just a tiny bit of discretionary income (5%? 10%?), and the taxes go to pay to maintain infrastructure, cover health care costs, etc.  In Capitalism, everyone works and freely chooses which things to purchase with their high discretionary income left after taxes.  And due to the nature of financial pyramids, individuals at the top of the pyramids accumulate capital that can be used for various projects, like opening a hospital, starting a sports team or league, making a toll road, starting a computer business.  The fact that these ventures will (hopefully) garner even more cash for the top guy is immaterial.  He’ll spend it on other things, or invest in other companies which will help grow the economy, and provide cheap goods to people.  It really is a win-win situation, for the most part.  He who risks, dares, and has ability can establish a new pyramid for themselves, or rise to the top of an existing pyramid, and be financially secure while increasing the standard of living for all who purchase his products or services.

From that point of view, the government is just another, less efficient Capitalist.  I think that is accurate.

But I don’t think it is the best economic system.  Too often, the guy at the top didn’t risk anything.  Too often, they only risk other people’s money.  Too often, someone near the bottom of the pyramids can’t start on, or even find, the beginning of the path to rise to the top, despite intelligence, ability, drive, and daring.  Too often, getting in first is enough to get rich…building a better mousetrap will eventually result in wealth, but sometimes it takes too long, or sometimes a large corporation steals the idea before you can benefit from it.  Sometimes socialist tendencies by governments at various levels betray the Capitalist principles, and then blame Capitalism for the problems that result.

Like I said, I don’t think Capitalism is the best economic system.  It works well most of the time because it utilizes the free market, not because it is the best in and of itself.

The most important part of any economic system is the number of transactions.  The more transactions, the more wealth.  The more transactions, the more wealth, the better everyone’s standard of living is.

Think of it this way.  You have a person, living alone on the slopes of a mountain.  He has to do everything for himself.  He has to make shelter, make clothes and shoes, make hunting weapons, hunt, gather wood for warmth, clean the dead game, cook, and maintain his dwelling.  Oh, and create his own art and recreation.  That’s too much for one person to do.  He’ll have a poor quality life just from trying to do too much, much less because he can’t be good at everything and must accept sub-par results in many areas.

Now put two people together.  One can do all the hunting, farming, and construction.  The other can do all the cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.  The first doesn’t have to take time out from hunting to clean up the house.  The second doesn’t have to stop maintaining the house and making clothes/shoes to find food to cook and eat.  They are immediately wealthier by sharing effort and concentrating somewhat on talents.  Now add 10 people to the little community.  Now one can make great shoes, one can make warm clothing, one can get all the firewood, two or three can cook, two or three can hunt, one can make all the tools…they are all now much more wealthy than any 2 or 3 could be, and far more wealthy than one alone.  They benefit from economies of scale.  I’m not sure where the upper boundary of cost/benefit lies…more people means crime and free riders, along with better division of effort and better economies of scale.

And here’s another example: Go drive for 3-4 hours on an interstate.  Count how many convenience stores, fast food restaurants, full service restaurants, and hotels you see.

They didn’t have convenience stores 30 years ago.

Towns and cities could only support 2-3 fast food restaurants per major exit.  And you could go 200 miles between seeing fast food restaurants.  Heck, not every exit even had a gas station…you don’t see that nowadays in most of the US (outside of Montana, Wyoming, and maybe North Dakota).

The small city of 90k people I live in has an inestimable amount of restaurants.  I could take a stab at guessing there are 100, but that is probably a low number.  I don’t think we have 200, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we did.  That doesn’t include fast-food restaurants.  I would be willing to bet money that there is at least one full-service restaurant for every 900 people in my town.  A decade ago, it was probably more like one restaurant for every 1200 people.  30 years ago, I’d bet it was one for every 2000 or more people.

What happened?  Are we that much richer than before?

Well, yes.  And, no.

We aren’t richer because people are spending more money eating out due to convenience.  And people run up their credit cards, to include for eating out.

But we are richer, too.  People can spend more money eating out without diminishing their quality of life.  And a town that once could support less than 50 restaurants now has more than 100, without an equal growth in population.  Because there are more restaurants, there are more jobs, from cooks and waiters to a higher demand for produce and meat that keeps more farms and ranches profitable.

A recession and/or depression occurs when people stop spending money as much.  When people stop spending money, there’s less to go around.  A $20 bill circulates through a town, through mutual transactions.  It pays for a meal, and the restaurant owner uses it to buy shoes, and the shoe store owner uses it to pay a salesman’s salary, and the salesman uses it to buy a CD, and music store owner uses it to buy beer, and the liquore store owner uses it to buy flute lessons for his kid, and the music teacher uses it to put gas in his car, and the convenience store owner uses it to see the dentist…

…but if the first person doesn’t eat out, everyone in the chain is $20 poorer, no?

That’s why they do stimulus spending.  It’s an ineffective and bass-ackwards way to do it, of course.  Talking down the economy like President Obama and his subordinates are doing does far more damage than stimulus spending can help.  And stimulus spending has to be paid for by taxes, which mean you really aren’t stimulating anything.

I thought up all this on my own, so it is sloppy.  Since I thought up all this, I’ve seen articles about this. They refer to it as “money velocity”.  Now, I know no one stole the idea from me.  I know that professional economic theorists are way ahead of me, and I just thought in a similar manner…just far less rigorously.  Thus, there are probably significant problems with what I wrote.

But the point is, I am beginning to think that Capitalism is just the most effective (so far) way we’ve found to encourage money velocity to stay high.  I just think re-arranging the economy to encourage more transactions is a better way to go.

On your 3-4 hour trip, drive through the city center of a town that has been around for 100 years.  Notice the City Hall square?  They couldn’t afford that 150 years ago.  And we couldn’t afford to build those sorts of grand buildings now.  So why could a small town afford to do that in the 1900s?

Part of the answer is Works Projects.  But not all of it.

I’m convinced it was due to transactional effects.  The more money that was in circulation, the more small towns and society could afford to do things like that.

Like I’ve said, on the one had, we are richer in the US than we were 30 years ago.  But in other ways, we are poorer.  And I think that we are richer due to more transactions per capita, but poorer because the government takes too much in taxes to do its thing, and then because people have to forgo savings and often drive up personal debt to maintain the transactional mass (money velocity).

The federal government wants to raise taxes to re-build our infrastructure.  I put it to you that we can’t afford to re-build our infrastructure because our taxes are already too high.  I don’t think anyone in the US should pay more than 20% of their income in taxes at all levels combined.  If we did that, we’d see an economic boom like you wouldn’t believe.

I think I just made a case for a 17% flat tax or (perhaps even better), transitioning away from income and payroll taxes to a national sales tax.

Okay, I’ve run out of steam.  You can critique this now.  I don’t pretend it is anything close to perfection, but it does encapsulate the direction of my thinking right now.  Just don’t assume that I will automatically accept criticism just because you say I’m wrong.  Make a case, and we can discuss.

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