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These are my longer "deep-dive" articles on specific subjects so they don't get lost.

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The fun stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere.

North Korea Update

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As a follow up to my North Korea Brief, did you notice in the past two days that the prospect of North Korea launching missiles at Guam very suddenly evaporated? Kim Jong Un Backs Down In Nuclear Showdown With Trump.

This is what I consider to be a rather wonderful application of B. H. Liddel Hart’s indirect approach to diplomacy. Remember, if the US had to actually invade North Korea, China was going to intervene on the side of NK.

All Trump had to do was talk about opening an investigation into China’s trade practices concerning Intellectual Property and Patent thefts from US companies doing business in China to China’s President Xi Jinping. That happened on Friday, August 11th. Mind you, nothing as of this moment that I write this has actually started beyond a memorandum to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to look into the matter.

On Tuesday, August 15th, Dear Leader Kim Jong-un decided to not fire missiles at Guam, reserving the right to change his mind, if “blah, blah, blah.”

Let me spell this out. The US market is China’s biggest customer. If we suddenly start “finding discrepancies” if how China deals with our companies, we might have to do something about it, like halting Chinese imports. This would be a bad thing for China.

The best visual I can use to describe how economics works is, imagine a person walking back and forth on a gymnastics balance beam, which is only 4” wide. This beam is suspended above a pit of hungry crocodiles. While walking back and forth on this balance beam and trying not to become crocodile lunch, this person has to juggle 15 running chainsaws. That are on fire. Any mistake, slip or mis-timed move and things rapidly go from bad to horrific.

There would be no winners in this. If we halt Chinese imports, their economy would quickly collapse. Which by consequence seriously hurt the US as well, since China is using the profits from what they sell to us to buy our Treasury bonds and keep our government overspending. Our government would then crash like Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne trading paint and causing a twenty-six car pileup at Daytona in 2014. No one wants this to happen. Not the Chinese and certainly not us.

So I can only conclude that between when Trump spoke with Xi on Friday and Kim trying to back down gracefully on Tuesday, I can only infer that there were a lot of talking between Xi and Kim, along the lines of Xi saying, “Listen to me very carefully, you short, fat, petulant child, if you launch your missiles, after Trump bombs your sorry ass back to before the stone age I will send my troops into North Korea. My troops will find you and they will drag you face down behind a truck all the way to Beijing where I will personally drill a hole in your sorry bowl-cut forehead and I will scramble your grey matter with an egg beater to solve this problem I have with you. HAVE I MADE MYSELF ABUNDANTLY CLEAR!!!?!?!?!” (Not a direct quote. Probably.)

So by using the indirect method of threatening the entire Chinese economy, Trump forced China’s hand to do Trumps dirty work and bring Kim to heel. I fully anticipate that if this trade investigation gets anywhere, it might find a few minor violations which will be swiftly dealt with and it will be quickly back to business between the US and China. Was this Trump's idea, or did this come from one of his economic advisors? Don't know, don't care. I still don't like him, nor trust him. But I have to admit, this is an elegant solution to this crisis.

Look for China to retaliate in some way, probably in 6 months to a year. They do not like being made fools of, nor to do the work of their enemy. They are also patient. Let's hope Trump will be prepared and can apply a deft Judo move and thwart whatever the Chinese try.

Philly soda tax update

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I wrote in March of this year the post Chutzpah about the 1.5 cent-per-ounce distribution tax on “sugary beverages” in Philadelphia. I found these two articles to explain what is going on today, Philly’s Drink Tax Is Hurting Consumers, Businesses, and the Poor and Soda Tax Experiment Failing in Philadelphia Amid Consumer Angst and Revenue Shortfalls.

The City initially estimated that they would collect $46.2 Million in revenue between January 1st, 2017 when the tax started and the end of its fiscal year June 30th. Through some accounting sleight-of-hand known as “revised projections,” city officials stated that they have “adjusted” this number to $39.7 Million, a 14% downward revision. Too bad the actual receipts came up short of even that number, at $39.46 Million.

As with most taxes, it hurts those on the bottom of the economic ladder the hardest. Those with transportation engaged in the classic American pastime of tax avoidance by shopping outside Philadelphia where the tax was not collected. Those who couldn’t drive out to the suburbs to shop made the difficult choice to buy less food or less soda.

Please notice in the receipt below that the tax is over half the price of the product and the transaction was cancelled.

Then there are the secondary economic effects of such a tax, between Coca-Cola (40) and PepsiCo (80-100) over one hundred people have lost their jobs at the bottlers because of the drop in sales. PepsiCo is also pulling all of their 12-pack and 2-liter products from all stores that sell those products in Philadelphia. I don't have any information on if or how many people working at grocery stores, convenience stores and other places that sell soda have lost their jobs due to decreased sales at their store, or how many stores had to close because the drop in sales killed their profitability.

There is a (somewhat) good news part to this rather stupid idea, beer is now less expensive than soda, so Philadelphians are now consuming cheaper but higher calorie beer and thus becoming more overweight than they would have been if they had stuck with the now unaffordable soda. I called this a stupid idea because the tax covered all sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, sweetened water, pre-sweetened coffee and tea and mixers in alcoholic drinks. Starbucks and other places that prepared the drinks were exempted. To show you that this is about 1) controlling the citizens and 2) raising money for the city coffers by taxing citizens to the breaking point, zero-calorie diet drinks are also subject to the tax. Thomas Farley, the head of Philadelphia’s health department admitted his stupidity when he explained why diet drinks are included: “People will be less likely to switch from sugary drinks to diet drinks, but they may be more likely to switch from sugary drinks to water, and that is what we want.” (emphasis from National Review article)

So again, Liberals show their inability to grasp second-level thinking. They institute a tax and base their economic budgets on past levels of consumption, never considering for a second that their tax might cause a decrease in demand for the product they are taxing.

When (not if) the taxes come in short of what the politicians already spent, they face a fiscal crisis. This means the services supported by the tax are now cut back or even eliminated, while the citizens have less money in their pocket. Both lose in the short and long term.

 

North Korea Brief

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This post is going to have a lot of information in it to give you a good context of what is going on, what could happen and what is likely to happen with the current situation with North Korea.

First, we are still at war with North Korea. A cease-fire was signed in 1953, but no cease of hostilities has ever been given. We currently have about 35,000 troops in South Korea.

Why would North Korea, Iran or any of these less powerful states be so eager to join the Nuclear Club? Because they realize that no nation can resist the conventional (i.e. non-nuclear) force the United States can bring to bear on them militarily. Properly unleashed, we would roll over them like a truck running over a squirrel. Now, if a nation had the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead into the middle of our conventional forces or on top of our command and control structure in theatre, that drastically changes how we would do things.

Let’s talk about what a nuclear weapon really is. It is a device using nuclear fission or fission-fusion (in the case of a thermonuclear or “H-bomb”) to create a really big explosion. A nuclear weapon can be used in two ways: property damage in the case of a ground or air burst, or an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) at high altitudes to destroy electronic and electric grid equipment. I’m not going to get into the "how that happens" of that here. Suffice it to say an EMP over say, Salt Lake City will destroy most if not all computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. from about the Colorado/Kansas border back to the West Coast. This would also destroy most of the electrical transmission in that area. The long term effects of that is no power to anyone for months, if not years because just about every transformer and other major component of the electrical grid would have to be replaced.

North Korea’s biggest nuclear test to date was about 20 kt, (kilotons, or 20,000 tons of dynamite). This was the size of the Nagasaki blast. This will be a fission blast. By contrast, one of our Minuteman III missiles has either 3 W78 warheads of about 330 kt or a single W87 475 kt warhead.

North Korea has just claimed (without outside verification) that it has “miniaturized” a physics package (that’s what a nuclear device is referred to as) to a weight and dimensions to make it feasible to launch it on a missile.

For the missile itself, just because you send something up, there is no guarantee it will land where you want it to. We don't know, and the NK’s probably don't either, what the CEP of their missiles are. The CEP, or Circular Error of Probability, means if you have a CEP of one mile and you launch 10 warheads at the same spot, 5 of them will land within that one mile circle, the other 5 outside.

I gave you all of that so you can understand why I am saying this:

If NK actually launches a weapon at Guam, (210 square miles in a sparse area of the Pacific Ocean, 2,100 miles from NK) the missile has to actually survive the boost phase (a 50/50 shot at best with NK’s hardware), then have an untested physics package survive a re-entry (which NK has never even tried, let alone succeeded with this) and it has to actually go off correctly (i.e. initiate an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction) within 1 mile of Guam to actually do damage. In my estimation, when I give a 10% chance of a successful strike, I am being generous.

I stated a 1 mile accuracy because with a 30 kt device, anyone within 1.75 miles of the bomb will receive 3rd degree burns. You can check it out here, put “.03” in the yield area, because a 30 kt weapon is .03 mt.

NK has promised to “bracket” Guam with four missiles. Given their ability to aim, they might actually hit when they were trying to miss. I highly doubt, given their probable stockpiles of nuclear weapons, that these missiles will be armed. But then again we are talking about a spoiled man-child who executed an uncle by mortar fire.

What is going to drop that 10% chance to zero is the US military. Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arliegh Burke-class destroyers carry several Standard Missile-3 weapons, which are designed to shoot down ballistic missiles and even satellites in low Earth orbit. I would be shocked if there were not 1-2 of these ships already on station off Korea, Guam, Hawaii and the West Coast, ready to intercept any missiles that are launched against us. Guam also has a THAAD battery, which is a land-based anti-ballistic missile system. If we have three ships and the THAAD on the path the missile must take, North Korea would have to simultaneously launch at least 10 missiles to even have a chance of one getting through.

Now let's talk about our man-child, Kim Jong-Un. We used the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) against the Soviets during the Cold War. We made it public that if the Soviets launched even 1 missile at us, we would launch everything in retaliation. With the Soviet Politburo being comprised of reasonable men who wanted to survive, they never intentionally brought us to that brink.

Our short buddy Kim, well he’s looking to become a god and he won't hesitate to sacrifice his entire country to obtain that godhood. Think Emperor Cartagia from Babylon 5.

By the way, thanks to Obama and his conciliatory attitude toward Iran and their nuclear program, we are going to be in this situation in about 15 years again with them. Except they will use their nukes against Israel because they have the blessing of Allah to do so. But I digress.

There is a major player I have not mentioned yet: China. During the Korean War, when UN forces made it to the NK-China border, China intervened and pushed UN forces back to the 38th parallel. China has an interest to keep the current power structure in NK active, if only to act as a thorn in the side of the US. NK is China’s barking dog, growling and snapping at anyone nearby.

China has an “official unofficial” news site, Global Times, which released this “editorial” on August 10th. Here’s the important part:

Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

China opposes both nuclear proliferation and war in the Korean Peninsula. It will not encourage any side to stir up military conflict, and will firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China's interests are concerned. It is hoped that both Washington and Pyongyang can exercise restraint. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.

This boils down to “if NK launches, it’s okay with Beijing if the US spanks NK. If we send troops, to actually solve the situation, China will get involved.”

From the “Official Official” Chinese website Xinhuanet comes this relation of a conversation between President Xi Jinping and President Trump, where Xi urges cool heads on both sides of this issue.

Now, if NK actually launches at US territory, this is where multiple scenarios can happen.

Scenario A:

The most likely is NK launches one or multiple missiles at Guam. I am 99% sure they will be successfully engaged and destroyed before they become a threat to Guam.

This will be a conventional, not nuclear response.

We already have most of those coordinates and will be doing satellite intelligence that day for final coordinates. Ships will already have their orders and be waiting for the final targeting data and the execute order.

US cruise missiles will be launched from US ships which will be stationed off strategic areas of NK, under the cover of darkness targeting radar installations first to limit NK’s ability to respond to threats. A second wave of missiles would then destroy any set missile launch points and/or known portable missile launchers. A good punch to disrupt the NK Command and Control structure will probably be the end of the US retaliation.

Scenario B:

NK actually launches a nuclear weapon which is not shot down and by accident or on purpose (on the part of NK), explodes over or near Guam.

See conventional response above, on steroids. I hope and pray no nuclear devices are used in response.

In this scenario, I can see an erasure of the NK military. Every ship and sub bigger than a rowboat will be engaged and sunk, in port or on the open seas. Any NK aircraft within weapons rage of a US combat unit will be shot down. Every known base, munitions stockpile and rally point will be rendered unusable.

I have no insight on NK’s coordinated actions with their missile launch or their plans for retaliation for US response. I would trust Charles Manson before I trust Kim Jong-Un.

I do know that Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, and there are probably 100+ “tubes” (military speak for pieces of artillery or mortars) in place already. They can be firing within 5 minutes of getting the order and each tube can get out 4-6 shots a minute until they run out of ammunition or are destroyed.

I can see 1-2 ships in international waters not too far away from where the artillery is probably located, who will close and provide counter-battery fire against that artillery if necessary.

As in the aftermath of any armed conflict, there are no winners, only survivors. I hope above all that no conflict breaks out.

That being said, in 1986 President Reagan bombed the crap out of Libya and we did not hear a peep of trouble from him for seventeen years. The only reason we heard from Gadhafi then was because Bush 43 was looking for WMD, and Gadhafi surrendered his so fast it was almost comical.

Thank President Clinton for starting this mess and Bush 43 for cocking things up worse. The base fact is that NK was never sincere in agreeing to the “framework.” Which leads to the fact that if you negotiate with someone who is not sincere, you don’t negotiate with them, you spank them appropriately when and how.

 

Integrity Update

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In this article I talked about the importance of integrity, the demand that your word be impeccable in your trustworthiness.

So now it comes to light via The Australian (sorry, it's behind a paywall) that the Thredbo Top weather station has been deleting record cold temperatures (remember it's Summer in the US, it's Winter in Australia). Two meteorologists noticed temperatures of about -10C (14 degrees Fahrenheit) disappear from the records.

The culprit? A smart card reader. Riiiiiiiiight.

It has been reported online that electronic smart cards were allegedly fitted to the BoM’s automatic weather stations, which put a limit on how low temperatures could be recorded in official weather data. The BoM declined to comment ahead of the internal review.

[...]

On her website yesterday, Dr Marohasy said it was not the recording­ devices that were at fault. “To be clear, the problem is not with the equipment; all that needs to be done is for the smart-card readers to be removed,” Dr Marohasy said.

I deal with card readers every day in my job. If a smart card reader is deleting data, then the idiots who wrote the firmware for the reader need to be flogged. There is no computational power in the reader itself to manipulate data other than to translate it from "computer-speak" to "smartcard-speak." At best, there has to be an logic trap that they screwed up on as part of the translation process because the deleted readers are all two digit negative numbers. At worst, the logic trap was intentionally there to "shave off " low temperatures. I will lean toward the former due to Occam's Razor, but I'm not entirely eliminating the latter.

 

Distractions from the real stuff

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Back in January, right after Trump took office, I wrote the post Trump the Magnificent, which was all about misdirection.

Apparently, The Atlantic, not exactly a bastion of Conservative principles (I am being facetious, they are quite Liberal in their ink) recently came to the same realization. Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More Than It Appears.

While the Democrats and the MSM are distracted by Scaramucci's short tenure as White House Press Secretary, their persecution (not prosecution) of the "Trump-Russia collusion" and the rest of the "chaos," things have been happening behind the curtain that will have long-term effects.

Trump, between his Tweets, who he picks for various high-profile positions and their personal issues have created a smoke-screen that the shallow, salacious-seeking MSM can't get past to see the real changes being made.

When I play strategic-level wargames, I am always doing multiple feints. Except they aren't feints. Each one is a real threat and can strike a killing blow, or disappear in a puff of smoke when struck at. The Democrats and the MSM better hope and pray Trump is not as ruthless as I am. When I corner an enemy, I leave a way out. Sun Tzu taught me that because a cornered enemy will fight harder than one who can escape. Sun Tzu also taught me to make that "escape" a path straight to Hell with booby-traps, ambushes and dead-ends to sap the will of the enemy and pick them off until they are destroyed or surrender.

Trump is leading his opponents down a primrose path. By the time they realize where they are, they will be over the cliff, with jagged rocks rapidly approaching.

Trump is playing a very long game. And right now, he's winning.

Too polite of a society

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When I was going to High School in the 70's fights were a rare thing. If you came to blows with another student, it was not over a trivial matter. Generally, a couple of punches were thrown, then you got into wrestling scrum until a teacher broke it up. After that (and we were appropriately "cracked" or paddled), the matter was settled. We did not carry weapons in school, although some might have come to school from hunting with a shotgun still in their truck. The thought to escalate a fight to that level and use a firearm was nonsensical, it just didn't happen, you never considered it. "Bad form" I guess is how the British would describe it.

Adults (in certain lower socioeconomic circles) almost fought for fun. But when things came to blows, it was almost Marquess of Queensberry rules. There were certain things you did not do, certain lines you did not cross unless the "disagreement" was very personal. I guess you could say, in its own way, this kind of fighting was "polite."

Society was also to a large degree polite. I don't know if it was causation or correlation between this polite society and "polite fighting"  that if you got into another mans face without good reason his fist got in your face.

But of course, society changes. Today we are by and large cowed into submission because we have been taught "violence never solves anything." All we have to do is look into Starship Troopers and see this exchange:

One girl told him [Mr. DuBois] bluntly: “My mother says that violence never settles anything.”

“So?” Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly. “I’'m sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that. Why doesn'’t your mother tell them so? Or why don’t you?”

They had tangled before — since you couldn’'t flunk the course, it wasn'’t necessary to keep Mr. Dubois buttered up. She said shrilly, “You’re making fun of me! Everybody knows that Carthage was destroyed!”

“You seemed to be unaware of it,” he said grimly. “Since you do know it, wouldn'’t you say that violence had settled their destinies rather thoroughly?"

Do I think we should "be more violent?" No. Violence should never be the first option. It shouldn't be a second or third option either. But it should always be an option. Of course, today maximum violence is the first option. People are shot and killed routinely for insignificant issues.

Think of it this way: every interaction we have with other people has a cost and a price. While those words are used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. In economic terms, the price of something is what we pay in currency to obtain a service or product. the cost is what we have to go through to obtain enough currency to perform that transaction.

In a societal sense, transactions with other people cost us only our time and the price is very low, even in the case of a contentious interaction. Case in point, this woman (I won't call her a lady) gets up in a couples face for "spewing pollution." Both parties are where they are for their own innocent reasons. I highly doubt either party was there to aggravate the other. But this woman had her reasons to confront these people.

Now for a thought exercise. DISCLAIMER: Would this happen in real life? I highly doubt so. This is a "WHAT IF..." type of scenario.

Let's say that about the 1:00 point of that video, they guy gets fed up with Prius Woman and punches her lights out. One solid good punch which knocks the woman on her ass. The guy then says, "I can do that again if you press the issue." So Prius Woman runs back to her car, calls 911 and the police show up. The officer speaks with both sides, then pulls Prius Woman aside.

"Ma'am," the officer says, "let me get this straight. You were both sitting here and you decided to go to them and yell at them for parking near you and having a bad smelling truck. At that point he punched you."

"Yes , officer!" Prius woman yells. "I want you to arrest them! I want to file charges for assault!"

"Ma'am," the officer says, "If anyone is getting arrested, it would be you for assaulting them, because you instigated and escalated the encounter. You are very lucky that he only hit you once. You could have been beaten to a pulp, or shot and killed. This gentleman exercised extraordinary restraint. You are not hurt except for your pride. Please take this as a learning opportunity to not get into other peoples faces for trivial matters. Good day."

My end point is this: if Prius Woman knew up front, before she got into their faces that by her actions she would have a 100% chance of getting her lights punched out, do you think she would have started the encounter in the first place? Hopefully she would be smart enough to not start the encounter. I am under no illusions here. In our current society, if my thought exercise was anywhere close to reality, Prius Woman would have walked up and without a word doused the couple with pepper spray at a minimum.

Is this approach going to work in all places and circumstances? Of course not, and if you try to infer so, I must in response infer you have a brick for a brain. As a rational being, you need to weigh the pros and cons of an interaction before you get into it and if you can get out of it.

 

The case for school vouchers

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The definition of insanity is basically “doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result.” Stupidity has to be defined as “Trying harder to increase results when earlier tries with the same method have not produced a measurable positive result.”

It’s actually become one of those blasé dichotomies about Liberals: “We spend too much on healthcare!” but then they turn around and say “We need to spend more on education!” We as the government are spending more and more on education, yet we as children, parents and communities are receiving very little returns for our investment.

I found this PDF, State Education Trends where spending and SAT scores are broken down by state. The data is quite alarming. The spending by states on education between 1972 and 2010 has been nothing less than staggering. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the average nationwide school spending per student has increased 118 percent. There is a wide variance in the levels of the increase, Arizona’s spending has gone up only 60 percent while Montana’s spending increased a whopping 225 percent.

Yet, the Liberals favorite standard, the SAT scores (Liberals want everyone to go to college and not to trade school) has dropped. Four states have had the SAT scores increase over the given period, with Mississippi on top of the list at an 11 percent increase. Alabama, Louisiana and Michigan all also had an overall increase of SAT scores. North Carolina has remained unchanged. This leaves 45 states whose SAT scores have declined. For those of you who don’t math very well, 90% of the states have seen their SAT scores decline. New York and Delaware tied for the bottom at an 8 percent decline, followed by Wyoming (remember, their spending increased 225 percent) Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

Here’s the telling part: The number of school employees (Teachers, assistants, administrators, clerical staff, maintenance, etc.) have increased 97 percent. I find this interesting because in California (I don't know about the other states), teachers have the choice on if they want to join the state Teachers Union. However, paying dues to the union is mandatory. You have to pay, member or not. Where does that money go? Into lobbying to increase the scope and power of the public education system, of course! Where else would it go?

Here’s an example to give you a context. In 1970, say a school system had 1,000 students and 50 employees (a 20:1 ratio). In 2010, there are now 1,008 students and 99 employees, for a 10:1 ratio. So we have more people “working for the children,” but we aren’t seeing a net increase of our children’s test scores.

Since 2000, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has been giving a standardized test to 15-year-old students every three years to judge and rank countries by student performance. This test scores the students on math, science and reading.

In 2015, the United States scored 40th (470), 25th (496) and 24th (497) in the respective areas out of 72 countries. The #1 performer in all three areas? Singapore, scoring 564, 556 and 535. Here’s the kicker: According to UNESCO, in 2010 Singapore spent 11% of their GDP per capita per student on primary education and 16.7% on secondary education. The United States spent 20.9% on primary and 24.3% on secondary. When you factor in the difference between the GDP’s, Singapore spent 60% as much per student in elementary schools and 75% of what the US spent for high school.

If I was an educator with some common sense, (I have some common sense but I’m not an “educator” except in the context of this blog educating you, my dear readers) maybe we should send some people over there to you know, look at how they do things and see if we can use bits from it to improve our children’s scores?

The United States was meant from the outset for each state to be a “different experiment in freedom.” Everybody try things in different ways, then report back to the group on what works and what doesn’t. Then (the most important part) the states that didn’t do so hot go back and try what worked. Out of 100 different experiments, 90+ will probably fail, however they provide valuable data other states can use, even if they know what not to do. When we have one federal governmental bureaucratic entity dictating most of how things will be done, there is no room for that experimentation.

I cannot say this enough: I am all for maximum personal choice. I firmly believe that parents should have the choice to send their children to the school of their choice, public, private, charter or home. If the community charges school taxes, the parents should have that money earmarked for their children to pay for the school of their choice.

You don’t get better unless you have competition. Competition forces you to get better at your product or service. If you have no competition, you languish, if not decline because you don’t have to improve yourself. Your customers will come to you because they have no choice.

 

Why integrity is critical today

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Simply put, there is too much information in the world today. Currently, we have about 1 Zettabyte (1 Billion Terabytes) of data (raw and processed) available on the Internet, with that number growing by terabytes almost every second. One person cannot absorb more than a shadow of a sliver of information for every subject that impacts their life. Even then, it would take months or years to be truly knowledgeable on even one subject.

This means that there is not enough time in the day for us to learn about and contemplate everything that affects our lives on the “meta” level. This means that we have to trust SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) to boil these critical subjects and discussions down into its core meaning so we can digest it, make a semi-informed decision on it and carry on with our daily lives.

Which leads us to an "Adam Ruins Everything" video. I have already commented on his video on the Electoral College. Adam lays out quite plainly in this video, Low-Fat Foods Are Making You Fatter that scientists either had a personal agenda or were paid to cherry-pick and “shave” data to provide the predetermined result of “fat makes you fatter.” I don’t care if it’s the Sugar Industry, the Beef Industry or the Vegan Industry, using data that only supports your predetermined conclusion theory, you’re lying.

Oh, sure, you can hide the true data in a single paragraph while you spend 20 pages explaining your predetermined conclusion, like I talked about here in Lying Statistics and say you’ve been truthful. That’s like a company having a 20 page EULA (End-User Licensing Agreement, all that Legalese you click “I Agree” on without reading when you buy software) that in the next-to-last paragraph, it says, “By agreeing to this EULA, you willingly surrender permanent and total custody of your immortal soul to this company.”

I understand the plight of the researcher. They are struggling to get funding to do their research, but many industries are only willing to pay for research that supports conclusions that are favorable to them. So if you surrender your integrity, you can get gobs of money to do research that is favorable to your sponsors. If you don’t, the end result is you leave the scientific/research industry because you can’t get funding. What I am trying to say that today, more than ever, we need to have integrity above all else in the industries that give us the information that is critical for us to make proper, informed choices.

I would welcome an honest, open, reasonable debate on the climate of our planet and possible solutions. Is Mankind significantly impacting the climate? I honestly don’t know. I am inclined to believe we are a flea jumping up and down on the back of an elephant, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. I don’t have the data, the training or the time to perform due diligence on the subject.

And when I see data that “proves” Global Warming is happening coming from weather stations 5 years before they are built, or I hear a change in how seawater temperatures are collected (was from heat neutral buoys, changed to ships that generate heat), or raw data is “revised” to be more in-line with the predetermined conclusions, the scientists lose their integrity in my eyes. I am also equally skeptical of the “Global Climate Change ‘Pause’ “ for the last 15-20 years.

Then you have the scaremongers who in the 70’s were screaming about “Global Cooling” and wanted Nixon to spread coal dust on the poles, to Al Gore in the early 90’s saying “we have 10 years to save the planet.”

Just as an aside, I heard a talk radio host from that time read passages from either Al Gore’s book Earth in the Balance or the Unabomber’s Manifesto and invited callers to guess which book the host was reading from. I could tell every time, but only because Ted Kaczynski’s 35,000 word diatribe was mostly multi-subject run-on sentences. The message was basically the same, Gore just had a better command of the language.

Back to the subject. So here we have government-sponsored scientists, backed by national governments (who always have a vested interest in increasing their control over the populace) “proving” Global Cooling, then Global Warming, then Global Climate Change (because that means whatever they want it to mean).
Whenever a spokesperson for any cause says, “We have to do this and we have to do it right now.” I go the opposite way on reflex. Why? Have you ever been the victim of a “con” or a “confidence scheme”? That’s exactly what the “con man” does. He gains your confidence by showing you something that you can confirm as truthful. Then he starts plausibly stretching the truth and speeding up the tempo so you don’t have the time to contemplate and check out the new information. He needs you to trust him, we need to get this done before the window of opportunity closes/the cops get here/whatever. It’s at this point (if he has gained your confidence) that your bank account empties into his and the con man disappears. This is also a common occurrence with unethical salesmen as well. “If you don’t sign this contract right now, your car will go out the door with someone else and you will never find another one like it again.”

The same exact thing applies in this instance. Al Gore flies in chartered jets to all corners of the globe to tell people they need to cut back on their CO2 emissions because the planet is “doomed” if you don’t do what he says starting when you walk out of the conference. Of course, you can buy “carbon credits” from him his company which will delay the “impending doom.”

By the way, his house down the road in Nashville uses more electricity in a month than my house does in a year. I guess conservation of our resources is only for the masses.

Just in case you think I’m picking specifically on Al, I would give the same scrutiny to Joel Osteen. I don’t play favorites.

What we, that’s you and I, need to do is demand integrity from everyone who impacts our lives. Our co-workers, our bosses, our elected leaders and most especially ourselves. Because a person builds their integrity on their word. If their word is no good, they have no business being in any leadership role or working in a critical infrastructure position.

As the old Russian saying goes, “Trust, but verify.”

 

The face of socialized medicine

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Do you want to know why I am against government-controlled, single-payer socialized healthcare? Let me tell you.

Meet Charlie Gard:

PAY Charlie Gard

If you haven't been keeping up with the news, this 11-month-old child has a rare genetic defect called infantile-onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, or MDDS. It is so rare that there have been less than 30 documented cases world-wide. Charlie is deaf, blind and has severe brain damage from his condition since January 2017.

Having been born in Britain, he has been under the care of the National Health Service (NHS), Britain's Socialized healthcare system. The all-knowing, all-seeing doctors there have decided that there needs to be a cease in Charlie's care, allowing him to die from his condition. The doctors petitioned the court to carry these plans out and the court agreed. This is the perfect example of Sarah Palin's "Death Panels." Bureaucrats who have never met you and you will never be more to them than a file folder of information who will decide if you receive treatment or not.

Oh, but you see, it gets much, much better.

Charlie's parents don't want to give up on their child and let Charlie die. To that end, they have raised over $1.6 Million to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment that might save his life. They petitioned the court months ago to allow Charlie to travel and receive this treatment, at no cost to Britain or the NHS. And the court said, "No." Not "Okay if an American Doctor and Hospital will take him," a plain, flat-out, nonnegotiable "No."

If this were a movie, at this point the Renegade Special Forces Captain and his squad of crack SAS Paratroopers would say, "To hell with the bloody orders," mount a rescue operation to grab Charlie and his parents from the hospital, make a mad dash through traffic to the airport and a waiting transport plane which would take off from the taxiway, avoid the fighters sent to shoot them down and everyone escapes to the United States to live Happily Ever After.

Except this is not an action movie. This is real life and to be quite frank, there is no cavalry coming over the hill to save Charlie. When President Trump and the Pope have called to extend help to Charlie, yet The Powers That Be have decided that they know better than Charlie's parents (because this is Great Britain, where the Subjects only have the rights given to them by the government) and Charlie needs to have all but Hospice care withdrawn so he can die naturally and comfortably. Which is going to happen tomorrow, 7/28/17.

That, my dear readers, is why I am for the patient (parents in the case of children) to have the choice of treatment within the means of their pocketbook. Not the doctors, not insurance bureaucrats and most especially of all, not government bureaucrats.

If we institute government-controlled healthcare, this will be a common occurrence. As soon as a patient goes "over budget" on their treatment, the care that might have saved their life could be withdrawn all because a bean-counter said so.

Tell me you are okay with that. Tell me if you develop an aggressive cancer at 35 that could be cured, but the government bureaucrat weighs the cost of the treatment and the chance of a successful treatment against your future potential contribution to society (i.e., taxes) and decides the cost is not worth it, that you would quietly accept that decision that are going to die. Let's say your family raises the money to fund the treatment, but the bureaucrats still say "No" and refuse to release the medications and resources to treat you. TELL ME YOU WOULD ACCEPT THAT. Because with Socialized, government-controlled healthcare, it happens right now.

If you would fight for your own life, no matter the odds, then you don't want government bureaucrats deciding if you're going to get the treatment or not. You cannot be congruent with Socialized healthcare and want to live when faced with that situation and have someone else choose your fate for you. So, why force it on everyone else?

 

Commandments and Beatitudes

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Like many of my articles here, they take on a life of their own as I am writing them. The twist at the end came about the other day while doing the outline for this in my head.

I saw this meme a while back and while I agree somewhat, I also disagree to a certain degree.

bibles in prison

So this meme to me implies that we should be teaching our children the morals inculcated in the Holy Bible, specifically the Ten Commandments. I would like to say that if I could get one moral lesson into our schools, my first choice would be the Beatitudes. Unless you have studied the Bible, or are Catholic, you probably don't know what the Beatitudes are. Or, you might have heard some of them but you don't know them by that name or their context.

When we talk about the Books of the Bible, remember that these were written by men whom we believe that were inspired by God. Second, this history started out as an oral tradition before being written down in Aramaic. Then you have translations over the centuries through several languages, filtered through the perceptions and agendas of the translators in order to get to the Bible we have today. Of course, there are also several “lost books” that were excluded as well, but that is something I am not qualified to speak about.

Just to give you an ear worm, when I get to talking about the Ten Commandments, I will be specifically referring to the Fifth through Tenth Commandments. The first four relate to the relationship between God and man. The last six are for how man is to treat his fellow man.

Back to the Beatitudes. The Sermon on the Mount is related in Matthew 5:3-12

Matthew 5:3-12
[3] Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
[5] Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
[6] Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
[7] Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
[8] Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
[9] Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
[10] Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[11] Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
[12] Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

So there you have it. But wait, there's more!

You might want to read the rest of Matthew 5, because it expounds on the above. The caveat is, Jesus often spoke in parables. I certainly hope he did not literally mean to pluck out your eye or cut off your hand if you stumble (i.e., fall into temptation). Two mistakes and you're done!

Looking at Matthew 5 as a whole, it all has a simple message. “Be excellent to each other.” This message is reinforced in Matthew 22:37-40 where Jesus gave us the Commandments we should be following today.

When Jesus spoke of the meek and those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” does this mean that we should be totally passive in the face of those against us? I don’t think so, because in Luke 22:36, Jesus tells his disciples to sell their cloak to buy a sword if they don’t have one to defend themselves. Also, those who had not studied the Bible during the “WWJD?” craze were surprised and/or offended when someone said, “Chasing people around with a whip and overturning tables is one of the things Jesus did” as related in Matthew 21:12-13. So, maybe, the deepest message of the Son of Man was, “Do no harm, help others when you can, but take no shit.”

Now we can turn to the Commandments. The “man-to-man” commandments as handed down to Moses by God amidst the thunder and flashes of Sinai were,

Honor your parents (and by extension, your elders)
Do not murder
Do not commit adultery
Do not steal
Do not lie
Do not covet the possessions of another.

Six through Ten became the foundation of our legal system today. It was God’s way of saying, “Be excellent to each other.” I can agree wholeheartedly that these concepts should be taught and reinforced in our schools today, along with the Beatitudes above.

Our Colonial Ancestors were raised with a strong moral foundation. This foundation was taught to them in the home, school and church. Our departure from these ways and methods has likely been a major contributor to our current moral turpitude and by extension our enormous prison population.

Ready for the twist? That last-minute thunderbolt of realization? Because here it is.

I have heard atheists argue that we don’t need God to scare us into treating each other right and giving us rules on how to do that. They argue that “we would have come up with these morals on our own.” I have to disagree with that for this simple reason. Atheists in Western civilization have lived under this moral and societal framework for thousands of years because the majority of people who comprise Western civilization are inspired by the words of God and Jesus. Simply put, the way things are around you when you grow up will be “normal” to you, 99% of the time. Growing up around people who discuss and debate certain ideas will of course seem to be natural ideas when you’re on the inside of that structure.

God shows us the Glory we can attain by following His path and the consequences if we don’t. He gave us the free will and the choice to choose our own path. It is the religious institutions Man who tries to scare us into following God through the threat of fire, brimstone and damnation.

To see if man could have developed these morals independently of God we have only to look as far as the cultures “discovered” by Missionaries and conquerors in our past. Did any of those cultures have this same set of values? Maybe some of those cultures had a “social contract” that is incomplete or watered-down compared to the Commandments in question. I admit, I am no sociologist or anthropologist, but I cannot recall in all of my reading and research in a variety of subjects that there has been a society that had developed independently from the Western world and had a similar set of moral laws, developed by themselves or their Deity.

My point is, as children we are taught by our parents on how to talk, interact and treat with others with kindness and respect when we meet them. Without this structure, it’s a “Lord of the Flies” world. I make the case that God, our Almighty Parent, is preparing us for that moment when we meet Him or possible extraterrestrial cultures so that we can do it with kindness and respect.

 

Protesting Properly

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So I get into a "discussion" on Facebook the other day about peaceful protests, because the United Nations, that bulwark of integrity, is warning the GOP about infringing on the right to peaceably assemble. Republicans are criminalising peaceful protests across America, UN experts warn. Tennessee is one of the states called out in the last paragraph of that article.

I will say up front that my understandings of Tennessee SB0944 and HB668 were incorrect. I found them (the links should be proof of that) and I have read them. I will cover them in the appropriate part later on.

Let's set this table. This is going to be one of my "converging" articles, where I start with several different concepts and tie them all together.

1) Always remember, the First Amendment restricts the federal government and them alone from placing limitations on what you say and how you say it. Your employer can freely set restrictions on what and how you express yourself publicly or attach consequences after-the-fact. An organization you belong to can make your continued membership conditional on your public thoughts as well. If you don't like those restrictions, you are free to leave that employment/organization.

1a) If you do speak your mind publicly, no one has to listen to what you have to say. Nor can you compel them to listen. You might compel their presence (job/membership requirement) but they don't have to listen.

2) There is no right any person has that allows them to interfere with or abridge the rights of another.

3) In any protest/demonstration, be it peaceful or violent, there are three basic groups. The protesters, the protested and everyone else (which I will refer to as "the third group" for lack of a better and less awkward term). The objectives of a protest should be to a) generate support from the third group to b) cause a desired change in the actions of the protested. The larger the protest (because you have generated lots of supporters), the more political power the protesters have and the more pressure the protesters can bring to bear on the protested.

Any group of protesters that disrupts/angers the third group by their own actions will ultimately fail in their objective because they will not generate the positive public opinion for them and against the protested. Instead, the protesters will harden the hearts of the third group against themselves and destroy any chance for them to affect the change they want. Now, if the protesters do things that angers the protested who then does things to the third group to stop the protesters and their protesting, that's another matter.

The one universal rule to building support for a successful protest/coalition is to invoke the self-interest of the third group. Showing them how their lives are negatively affected now/in the future by the protested, versus how their lives would be positively affected if the protesters win, that's how you build support (and membership).

A great example of an effective non-violent protest is the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which the seminal event happened in March 1955 with the arrest of Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old Black teenager, not Rosa Parks in December of 1955. Claudette's arrest and conviction led to the SCOTUS case Browder v. Gayle (1956) where the SCOTUS decided that segregation of public transportation is unconstitutional. Rosa Parks is associated with the boycott because she was arrested December 1st and the boycott started December 4th. Claudette was the foundation and Rosa was the last straw. That time between Claudette's and Rosa's arrests was spent building the concept, planning and execution of the boycott. The boycott lasted 381 days and hurt the bus authority, because at the time 75% of the riders were Black.

The important part about this is that no buses were burned, no property was destroyed or defaced. No one stopped the buses from their schedules. I commend these people because many were beaten and/or arrested as the Blacks of Montgomery attempted to get where they needed to go without the bus system. Violence was visited upon them and they did not respond in kind.

The people with whom I was discussing this subject were disgusted and appalled at my views. I was called violent and a sociopath for "wanting to run people down." They never read what I said, didn't hear my qualifiers. They had it firmly stuck in their heads that I would barrel through the protesters at full speed. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

They also held the erroneous belief that intentionally blocking a road is "a peaceful protest." "Peaceful" and "force" are two mutually exclusive things. Because force means violence. Violence does not have to include physical damage to anybody or anything. If one person prevents another person form carrying out an action, force must be applied to cause that. The force can be mental/emotional ("I'll hurt myself if you do that!"), social/economic ("You're fired/expelled if you do that!") or physical (blocking access or physically holding onto the other person).

T.C.A., § 39-13-303 is titled "False imprisonment" and Section (a) reads:

"A person commits the offense of false imprisonment who knowingly removes or confines another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with the other's liberty."

Section (b) classifies this as a Class A Misdemeanor.

Think about this for a moment. The protesters could step into the road, yet yield to vehicles who wish to pass. I would consider that peaceful. The second option for the protesters is to refuse anyone to pass, at which time they would all be guilty of T.C.A., § 39-13-303 because they are interfering substantially with my liberty, which in this case entails me traveling down the road they are blocking.

Just to make it clear to my Liberal friends and readers, if a group blocks a roadway with the intent of disrupting the lives of those trying to move down that road, you are angering the third group. Your problem is, you're angering them against you, not the protested. You might want to re-read my universal rule above. Sure, the 1% of those "feel good first" people might join with you, but the other 99% would probably knock over that a bucket of water next to them if you were on fire.

Before I get into my "violent and sociopathic" response to having my path blocked, let's go over SB0944/HB0668:

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 29, Chapter 34, Part 2, is amended by adding the following as a new section:

(a) A person driving an automobile who is exercising due care and injures another person who is participating in a protest or demonstration and is blocking traffic in a public right-of-way is immune from civil liability for such injury.

(b) A person shall not be immune from civil liability if the actions leading to the injury were willful or wanton. [links to definitions are mine]

So, this law does not absolve the driver from any criminal liability. It protects the driver solely from being sued for damages from those who won't get out of the way. I think my prospective actions detailed below would fall within the standards as set forth in the above legalese.

I drive an 8 foot tall panel work truck, so the "law of gross tonnage" is in my favor. The right of the protesters to protest stops before they interfere with my right of free passage on public right-of-ways.

This only entails a small group of protesters who have the intent to impede others. If there are hundreds/thousands of protesters, I will not try to push through them, because the "law of gross tonnage" is not in my favor. If they are using the road to move a mass of people, such as across a bridge, I will wait because they have the right to travel that road as well, just not block it.

1) If a group of protestors do not block traffic, I have no problem with that. They could be the Hillsboro Baptist Church and I would not jump the curb for them or anybody else. The protesters (not the HBC) might even get a "support honk" from me.

2) If I know that a group is blocking a given road, I would avoid the area. As I drive around the Tri-State Memphis Metroplex fixing the equipment in my charge, I always have at least two alternate routes to get from point A to point B.

3) If I didn't know they were there and I can't get around them, everything from this point on is on them. Because if they do not let me pass, they lost the "peaceful protesters" label at this point.

3a) I would stop short of them, loudly asking for them to part so I can pass.

3b) If they do not part, I will let them know I am coming through.

3c) I will advance up to and through them, one inch at a time until I am clear. For people with common sense, this would be the time they would part and let me go on my way unmolested.

4) At the first brick/rock/gunshot, all bets are off. I refuse to be the next Reginald Denny or one of the dead from a riot.

As a final thought, I had to be well aware of the phrase "innocence in the eyes of the law" when I carried a weapon. It meant that if, on the horrid occasion I would have had to draw my weapon and possibly end the life of another, I had 47 things (slight exaggeration) that I had to do exactly right to avoid being prosecuted for the crime of defending myself. I had to not escalate the situation, attempt to disengage from the situation, "Shoot to stop the threat," not tamper with evidence and a whole lot more. When protesters actively interfere with the rights of others, they lose that "innocence."

 

Our two Bills of Rights

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I'll bet you didn't know we had two Bills of Rights, did you? Everyone (should) knows the Bill of Rights as declared in the first Ten Amendments in the Constitution. A group of Founding Fathers known as the "Anti-Federalists" were of the mind that these assumed and undeclared Rights would be trampled upon by the federal government unless formally declared.

A total of twelve Articles were approved by Congress and presented to the States in 1789. The ten we now call the Bill of Rights were approved by the States in 1791. Of the two not ratified, one eventually became the Twenty-Seventh Amendment, which says a Congressional pay raise approved today cannot take effect until the next Congress convenes (we have a new Congress every two years). The last one is a "housekeeping" Amendment that details the growth of the House by changing the proportion of citizens to Congressmen as the country grows. Considering the number of House members was permanently set by law at 435 in 1929 by the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, I doubt this one will be ratified.

Just so you have an idea about the reasoning on the Bill of Rights, you can read the Preamble for it. You didn't know the Bill of Rights had a Preamble, did you?

THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.

So, let's detail the entire list of Rights as given in the first Ten Amendments. These are paraphrased for brevity:

  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Freedom of the People to peacefully assemble
  • Freedom of the People to petition the government for a redress of grievances
  • Freedom to bear arms for defense of self and country
  • No soldier to be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner
  • The Right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures
  • No warrant to be issued without probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation
  • All warrants to be specific in searches and seizures
  • Felony charges shall be issued by a Grand Jury
  • The Right to not be subject to double jeopardy (recharged with a crime after being found not guilty)
  • The Right to not be a witness against themselves
  • The Right to not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law
  • The Right for just compensation if private property be taken for public use (Eminent Domain)
  • The Right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury
  • The Right to be informed of the charges against you
  • The Right to face the witnesses testifying against you
  • The Right to compel witnesses for you
  • The Right to obtain a lawyer to aid in your defense
  • The Right to a trial by jury in civil lawsuits
  • The Right to not have excessive bail imposed
  • The Right to not have excessive fines imposed upon conviction
  • The Right to not have cruel or unusual punishments inflicted upon conviction

The Ninth Amendment means that any enumerated (declared) Rights in the Constitution shall not be used to deny or disparage (constrain) any undeclared Rights of the People.

The Tenth Amendment restrains the federal government to the powers delegated to it by the Constitution and what the States do not prohibit the federal government from. All other undeclared Rights are to be held by the States, or the People respectively.

Out of the twenty-four Rights bulleted above only #'s 19 and 20 (compel witnesses to testify for you and a lawyer) have the government force someone to help you. The other twenty-two restrain the government from taking away natural rights.

On January 11th, 1944, President Roosevelt gave a State of the Union address to Congress. In it was this part:

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
5. The right of every family to a decent home;
6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
8. The right to a good education.

These were not numbered in the speech, I did so to refer to them below.

1 & 2. We have these rights today. I can truthfully say for the vast majority of people, the only limit to a person's income level is themselves and what they are willing to do. I say that because most of us are not willing to pay the dues for that big paycheck. It takes years of hard work and a fair chance of total failure to be an "overnight success."

3. I support this, but only so far. A farmer should be able to grow whatever crop or product they want to, without some crops and not others being subsidized by the government. Farmers should not make the decision to grow a particular crop because the government is subsidizing the farmer to grow (or not grow) it.

4. I fully support anti-monopoly laws. I also fully support a business to be as free as possible of government regulations in an attempt to regulate or control businesses and industries. See Operation Choke Point.

7. I support these because I have used them to support my family. I used them for only as long as I needed them, then got off of them when I could stand on my own. I believe that it is an obligation for society in general and government in particular to help those who truly cannot help or fend for themselves. I am against the perpetual help of those able to work.

5, 6 and 8. These are different aspects of the same issue and can be interpreted in two ways:

568a: Everyone has equal access right now to housing, healthcare and education. If you want that 5 bedroom/6 bath mansion, you need to perform the steps necessary to acquire the resources and income to purchase it at a fair price. Everyone has access to medical care right now, all that they can afford. As an aside, medicine and healthcare in general has saved zero lives. They have extended the lifespan of many people and preserved their quality of life, but medicine, doctors and healthcare can only at best temporarily defer Death. For education, don't spend $75,000 on a degree that the job it qualifies you for only pays $24,000 a year. Too many people are going that right now.

568b: Everyone should get these things no matter their economic situation. First of all, if you work a crappy job and live in a crappy house, don't demand that things be given to you. Use it as an incentive to improve your lot in life through your own efforts. What you need to go through will be difficult and probably unpleasant. The payoff makes it worth the effort.

I don't care how you slice it, when you mandate the services of one individual as the "right" of another, that is slavery. For housing, you obligate contractors, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and more to "give" you adequate housing because the government will never pay market value for their materials and services. The same goes for doctors, nurses and medical technicians "giving" you healthcare. Ditto for teachers.

Oh, you want affordable housing, healthcare and education! That's something totally different. I can solve that in 10 minutes and it will take about a year to sort itself out. Get the government and it's over-regulation and subsidizing programs that destroy the price:benefit ratio out the window out of those and other industries.

The first Bill of Rights in this Article recognizes that those rights come from each person's Higher Power and the law of the land (Constitution) restricts the power of the government to infringe upon them.

The second Bill of Rights comes from a usually benevolent government that has proven itself capricious in its delivery of those "rights" and at the heart of the matter "gives" these "rights" to you because it does not believe you are capable of doing it on your own. Think about that.

 

Where you sit determines where you stand

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This is a lesson on how to pick your battlegrounds by careful selection of your source materials. So I catch this on FB from one of my Left-leaning friends:

it isnt in the constitution

Let’s take this apart and show him where he’s so far off base that he’s not in the same ballpark.

To start, this is the preamble to the Constitution, which the second definition reads, “the introductory part of a statute, deed, or the like, stating the reasons and intent of what follows.” In other words, a mission statement. As an “introductory part,” it does not lay out the method, nor the part of the government tasked with achieving this goal.

When we look at the phrase in question, “…promote the general Welfare,…” we need to realize our Founding Fathers (FF) used very specific words to show their intent and meaning.

When we look up the definition of “promote” the first one makes it pretty clear: “to help or encourage to exist or flourish; further:”

I see this as “creating or expanding the conditions under which the program/company/person can improve in some measurable way.” The term “general” means to extend this to all affected equally, without favoring some of them.

But you see, the meme says, “…will pay for its citizen’s health insurance.”

To show why this is BS, we only have to look to the prior statement in the Preamble, “…provide for the common defense,…”

“Promote” and “provide” are obviously two different words. They also have two separate and distinct meanings. The seventh definition of provide is defined as, “to make arrangements for supplying means of support, money, etc.” I picked that one specifically because right after the above, it reads “(usually followed by for)” which we have in both phrases under examination.

So, Provide actually means “pay for or directly furnish,” Promote means “create conditions under which it is possible to flourish.”

Hm. I don’t see this as the best way to make your point.

Now, if the meme maker had gone into the Constitution itself, they might have found under Article 1, Section 7 Clause 1, we find “…and provide for the common defense and general welfare…”

“AHA!” you might say. That validates the meme! But wait, there’s more! The full quote for that is, “…and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;”

When our FF wrote about individual citizens, they used the term “the People.” If they had meant for Congress (after all, this is Article 1 we are talking about here) to provide for the People, I’m moderately sure they would have used that term in the Preamble.

I am also well aware of the Madison (not to “meet the infinite needs of the general welfare”) vs Hamilton (which to have Congress spend money on the People was okay) debate which culminated in the SCOTUS case United States v. Butler (1936) which pushed the interpretation of the phrase “general welfare” into the Hamilton camp.

Really, if you are confused about this, all you have to do is look at the very documents the FF used to explain the Constitution to the Citizens of the United States: The Federalist Papers. The last five paragraphs of Federalist 41 speaks eloquently on this part of the Constitution. Admitted, while it was published anonymously under “Publius” on January 19, 1788, it is assumed that Madison wrote it. That section is too long to quote here, follow the link.

In conclusion, this meme doesn’t have a leg to stand on. First of all, the OP picked the wrong part of the Constitution to build their argument upon, second the guy who wrote the Constitution thinks their argument is bullshit. It is not the intended purpose of the federal government (through the Constitution) to provide for individuals, rather promote the conditions under which they may flourish.

When the federal government spends money directly on its citizens, it’s called “Bread and Circuses.”

Now taking applications

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I have come to the realization that I have more things to do than Carter has Little Liver Pills, to use a phrase from my Grandmother.

carters llp

I don't have anything witty, insightful, thought-provoking or anything like that this morning. I became deeply involved with solving a technically complex feature of a spreadsheet for another of my blogs last night instead of generating content here.

In consequence thereof, I am accepting applications for four unpaid staffers. Job requirements include intelligence, able to do light cleaning, plumbing, carpentry, miniature painting and yard work. The ability to discover information way beyond a simple Google search is essential. A high degree of precision in all duties is required. If your orderliness and precision can make someone with OCD weep with joy, you will be given serious consideration. In these positions you will be expected to work 170 hours a week, so bored you will not be.

One week hiatus

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My apologies, I am taking this week off because I have to lay a friend I have known since I was 14 to rest.