Political Manifesto for the 21st Century

January 7, 2010 by

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (Declaration of Independence, 1776)

We affirm these self-evident truths, and declare that it is time to abolish our form of government, not by armed revolution, but by the election of representatives who will change it.

The Constitution of the United States allows for the people to elect their representatives every two years, and to elect every senator every six, and to elect the president every four. Each state constitution allows the citizens of that state a similar power to choose their government. Through electing representatives that represent our desire to preserve our government solely to protect the individual rights of everyone, we propose the following changes be made.

  1. Limited government. Our governments are limited by the constitutions that form them. We need to enact a common understanding among the people of what those limits are and impose them on our governments. We need also to strengthen the already existing limits, overturning bad interpretations by our courts, legislators, and executives, and impose new and stronger limits on our governments which will forever ensure our individual liberty.
  2. Dramatic cuts to spending. Our governments should spend our money procuring only those goods and services that will protect our rights.
  3. An end to government charity. It is the role of our churches and the individual to supply charity to the poor, not the state. If the individual and churches cannot supply the charity, government could only do worse. Having government provide charity absolved the conscience and duty of the people from their proper role to love their neighbor.
  4. An end to unfunded legislation. Any program that congress enacts must be completely and fully funded at the time of its creation. We will not enslave future generations to programs that we create but do not fully fund. Existing programs that are unfunded should be canceled or modified until they can be funded.
  5. Dramatic cuts to taxation. Our governments should collect far less taxes than the people can bear. The people should be free to pursue whatever economic matter they wish without burden or undue influence due to taxes. Taxes should not be used to punish the rich or to mold society’s behavior. They should only be used to raise the necessary money to meet the spending requirements of a government that protects the rights of the individual. Any surpluses should be immediately refunded to the people in proportion to taxes paid, or used to pay off debts. Taxes should never be raised to meet spending; rather, spending should be cut to meet tax revenue.
  6. An end to government debt. Our people have become more prosperous than any other people in the world. We do not need to borrow money anymore to provide for the needs of government. Paying interest on our government debts is slavery, not freedom. We are not free until we have paid off all of our debts. Any debt that we must incur should be paid off within a very short time frame, so that our debts are not repaid by our children.
  7. An end to bureaucratic regulation. Any kind of regulation must be debated and passed by the legislatures of our governments, and no other way. No public official should be allowed to set policy that governs the life of anyone but their own employees. No court should dictate legislation. No executive should issue orders except to his troops and employees. Anyone exceeding these limits should immediately be removed from office by impeachment because they are a threat to our liberty.
  8. An end to over-litigation. The laws of our country are unjust, in that they are used to punish those who have done no wrong with tort laws and allow the criminal to go free. Let our laws be simple and just so that we no longer have need of lawyers. Do not allow our constitution to be interpreted as giving shelter to the guilty or limiting the freedoms of the individual.

We boldly declare that freedom and liberty are dramatically different than tyranny and slavery. In a free society, government works differently than in an enslaved society. Our governments should be eternally fearful of the will of the people, forever locked in by the limits of the constitution which creates them, and ever subservient to the people, both the individual and as a whole.

We emphatically reject the tenets of communism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, colonialism, and every other form of government or political idea that sets one person above another, that limits the freedom of the individual for the “greater good”, or attempts to convince any individual that they have no rights or fewer rights than the rights man is endowed with by their Creator.

We boldly declare that in our society, the checks and balances in our government includes the individual, private organizations such as businesses or churches or political groups, and federated governments such as the local, state, and federal governments. By distributing the power to govern among these people, organizations, and governments, no one person or group of people is able to obtain much power over the rest.

We also declare that there is enough in this world, and to spare, if the individual is freed from the constraints of government to seek his own fortune in life. We also declare that the man who has obtained wealth is capable of providing charity to the poor, jobs to those who want them, and also to pursue the critical role of participating in politics to keep government constrained. We encourage all men, everywhere, to embrace their freedom, seek their own fortunes, and once having obtained it, spend their time and resources as they see fit in service to their fellowman, without the entanglement of government.

When is it time?

March 23, 2017 by

With the recent terror attack in London killing more innocents, I have to wonder, when is it time?

When do we declare war on Jihad and radical Islam?

When do we treat terrorists not as civilians but unlawful combatants, with zero protections under the Geneva Convention?

When do we take back Constantinople and Alexandria and drive Islam back to the cave from whence it came?

Islam, the political philosophy, is an enemy to us. We cannot survive unless we either submit or defeat it completely. There is no middle ground. Whatever truce we sign with it, it simply uses it as time to regroup and to launch another invasion before the truce is up.

Islam, the passive religion, is welcome alongside all other religions that don’t advocate the murder, abuse, and enslavement of people who do not belong to their religion. Believe what you wish, but the moment you lift your hand to strike at an innocent, the head attached to that hand gets severed.

How to Stop President Trump from Defunding the Arts

March 16, 2017 by

Folks, some of the liberals lack a bit of imagination, so I’m going to tell them (and you!) how to save the arts from being defunded.

As you know, President Trump is proposing cutting all funding to the arts and several other federal programs. Without this money, they are going to have to lay people off and maybe even find a job. I know, it’s horrible.

Well, you can prevent this yourself. It’s rather easy.

Open up your checkbook, and write a check.

That was simple.

Of course, if you don’t care enough about the arts to pay for it yourself, then what are you complaining about?

The Election in the Netherlands

March 15, 2017 by

The election in the Netherlands is winding down. I have no idea who will win, but having Geert Wilders be so active and vocal has helped us move our discussion in the right direction.

Geert Wilders is derided by his enemies and opponents as some sort of neo-fascist who hates immigrants and wants to kill all the muslims.

What he really is, what he really represents, is someone who sees Islam for what it truly is, and is willing to stand up against it, despite that being unpopular today.

Islam is a political movement. Terrorist attacks made in its names are political actions, just like voting or writing laws or starting wars is political action. Is it surprising that religion and politics is combined in such a way? For some, perhaps, but for the vast majority of human history, religion and politics were the same thing. To muslims, religion and politics are still the same thing. They have no way to separate the two.

A casual jaunt through the Koran and other holy texts, as well as an attentive ear to what Islamic scholars say, will expose this fundamental truth.

Wilders has pointed out that the political ideas in Islam are not congruent with the political ideas of the Netherlands. Meaning, you cannot have both and have peace at the same time.

For comparison, let’s take a quick look at the political philosophy of my religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here are some of them.

  1. Every body should participate in politics as much as possible according to the law.
  2. People should choose wise representatives.
  3. People should keep the law and obey their leaders, even when their leaders are tyrannical.
  4. People should try to enact laws that would respect the freedom of religion and protect individual rights.
  5. People should try to influence their communities to do the same.
  6. People should serve in their communities, showing their faith through example.

As you can see, there is very little, if any, conflict between the LDS religion and the Netherlands political climate. In fact, go anywhere in the world, and mormons find nothing to conflict about. We’ll happily disband our churches when the government decides they want to suppress us. We’ll conform to whatever crazy rules you make up, and still bake you cookies. But we’ll also fully assert ourselves in the political process within legal means, of course. But you won’t find us having rallies and burning things and breaking things when we don’t get our way.

Does Islam share a similar political philosophy? The answers is, obviously, no.

For example, when Geert Wilders advocated that muslims need to leave the Netherlands because they were trying to establish the Ottoman Empire in the Netherlands, the muslims had a massive, violent protest around a Turkish flag.

In conclusion, what Geert has done is he has exposed Islam for what it is: A political movement that is not congruent with Western values. The question now is whether we allow it in our borders or not.

While I have no problem with people worshiping God in the way they see fit, I do have a problem with people exercising their political power in unrighteous ways. If we could somehow allow muslims in to our country with the condition that they would not try to impose their backwards political ideas on their neighbors, then perhaps I could be convinced that they should come and stay. But since we cannot, since we have seen terrorist attack after terrorist attack by people claiming to represent Islam, since we know that they advocate Sharia Law and we know what countries with a large number of muslims look like, I say we must *reject* muslims from our country, the United States, not because of their religion, but because of their political ideology. Until muslims give us a way to tell people who are merely religious from those with political aspirations to impose Islam on others, we cannot allow them in our borders.

Islam needs to reform. Can it? I don’t know. But until it does, our political ideas are in conflict, and we simply cannot have peace in our country until they leave.

One final note: When we drive muslims from our shores, or at least, stop admitting them, are we harming them? If you say yes, then that means that the places where muslims are welcome are less desirable than the places where they are not. Thus, QED: Muslims should not be here. In the case of the mormons who were chased from the United States, not because of politics but because of religion, we built a beautiful empire out West, populated by beautiful, wealthy, and populous people. In the end, we were better for it. That speaks volumes about the LDS political philosophy, and why you wouldn’t want to chase us out in the first place.

Now, I don’t know how to make my ideas politically feasible. If I were to run as an anti-Islam candidate today, I would obviously lose. So why am I posting this? Because I have no doubts that one day, running as an anti-Islam candidate will be the only way to get elected. As muslims continue on the path they have charted, as they repeat the same mistakes of their 1,500 year history or murder and oppression, it will become blatantly obvious what it is all about and why we must stand up against it.

Deus Vult.

February 27th Should be Pi Day

March 14, 2017 by

The relationship of March 14th to Pi is dubious at best. It’s merely happenstance that the digits of the month number for March line up with the first digit of pi.

The important fact of pi is it relates the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

We can measure angles in radians, which is a natural measurement system where an entire circle, 360 degrees, is 2 pi radians. In other words, the arc length for an angle is equal to that many radians for the unit circle.

The earth traverses 1 radian in about 58 days. The 58th day of the year is February 27th. We should celebrate that day as pi day. It has a much greater relationship to pi than March 14th.

On Constitutions

March 10, 2017 by

I’ll be honest, I think the US constitution is great, but the Washington State Constitution leaves a lot to be desired. To be specific, it has elements of socialism that I find disturbing. Plus, it’s too long.

Some people think of constitutional law as some sort of super-law, laws that once you get enshrined in the constitution, they are really, really hard to change. This is a silly idea, as if some types of laws are just like other types of laws, and the only thing important about a law is how many people think it is a good law. No, constitutional law should deal only with the constitution, the make-up, of the government, and not specific laws except those that pertain to that makeup.

A constitution should describe the exact purpose of the government, which is, and always should be, the protection of individual rights. It may list those rights, but any list it creates should not be too exact or limiting. That is, the constitution doesn’t grant citizens rights. That’s an awful view of things. Rather, the constitution recognizes the rights that people have whether or not the constitution existed.

Next, the constitution should describe the makeup of government, who holds what position and how they are appointed and how long they serve and what the limits of their service is. It should also have failsafes for what to do when the people in office inevitably exceed their bounds. Hopefully, the failsafes are strong enough and easy enough to access that they get used, but not so easy that it makes governing impossible. The people whose job it is to respect and administer these sorts of laws should keep in mind that while we’re debating with ourselves about who should serve in what position, the needs of the people for a functioning government is still ever present.

Constitutions should also enshrine what types of laws can be written and how they are written and changed. These laws should not be found in the constitution itself, but the constitution should tell people how they will be written and administered. For instance, here in Washington State, the constitution says that the state will provide education to all of the people, but it doesn’t do a sufficient job in how we determine what education is and whether the state is doing it. That leaves open the possibility of a lawsuit and then the state supreme court getting involved in the education issue by injecting their own interpretation of what the constitution means. In the end, you get a mess.

Governments serve a purpose. They have a role. That role needs to be clearly delineated in a constitution, but let’s not make any false ideas about the power of a piece and paper and the words on it. They mean exactly nothing if the people serving in government don’t care to read them or enforce them. That’s where the people come in to play. It’s up to us, the people, to understand the constitution and hold our government accountable for misusing it.

A prime example is the budget in the US government. The constitution clearly says that all taxes and spending must start in the House of Representatives. And yet, each year it seems, we all watch the White House to see what they come up for as their proposed budget. No, this should not be this way. If you serve in the house, your job is to put together the budget, and if you fail at that job, we need to find a good replacement. I am tired of hearing how the republicans in the house feel powerless to stop the juggernaut of the unlimited state when they themselves are feeding the beast. They pretend to be powerless and yet not a single cent can be spent until the House puts forward their budget. I have known that Obamacare could’ve been shut down a long time ago, if the republicans wanted to. What we see happening today is simply a continuation of what happened before, but now they don’t have a president waving the veto pen in the air. Now we can see their true colors as “socialist lite”.

As regular citizens, it is up to us to read and understand the constitution, and hold our elected officials accountable to our interpretation of it. We have a right to read it whatever way we like and we have a right to hold our elected officials accountable come election day. Let’s not forget that.

As for my district, we can’t seem to stop electing our democrat representative who plays the same old game every year of “But I’m trying to be moderate!” while consistently voting with the most retarded socialist democrats in the house. It’s high time we found someone else to actually follow through with their campaign promises rather than pretend they are powerless once they get to DC.

What is the Republican Congress up to? Posturing.

March 9, 2017 by

President Trump is the worst fear for republicans realized. Now they have exactly no excuses left not to pass and implement a conservative policy.

As we conservatives have known since forever, the republican party is not and never was a conservative party. Reagan’s victory in 1980 was a complete and total upset to the party. Gingrinch’s ’94 Republican Revolution likewise. And now we have the Trump Triumph that the republican party has to reckon with.

Republicans nationwide count on the conservative vote to eek out their minor victories. If it weren’t for conservatives believing that the republicans were the conservative party, they would have almost no support among the common citizenry. The last thing the republicans want, however, is a conservative government, because that would mean they would have to give up their cushy jobs and join the rest of the working stiffs. We might also get to the bottom of their seemingly infinitely deep corruption.

The election of 2016 is a solid victory for people who simply will no longer tolerate the status quo. I can’t call it a conservative victory since Donald Trump is no conservative, but judging on how President Trump is governing, I am giddy like a schoolgirl! President Trump, so far, is a greater conservative than Reagan ever was.

The election of 2018 will be when we “kick the bums out!” of congress. We’re taking names, and we’re not going to tolerate the likes of Ryan and McConnell leading congress anymore. It’s time for a new party, call it what you wish, but a party that isn’t afraid of new ideas and upsetting the apple cart.

As a conservative, I fully endorse upsetting the apple cart when it comes to politics or government. Is there anything in the US government I would like to keep? No, not much. I’d much rather watch as it burns itself to the ground, the same way you can only watch as a barrel of oil burns itself out. President Trump may be able to put out that fire, but if he can’t, I’m more than happy to elect a whole army of Trump reformers to get the job done.

Here’s what the Republicans could be doing, if they weren’t so interested in keeping the status quo and their jobs.

  • Health care reform. It’s time for real health care reform: Just have the federal government literally do nothing. Abolish the FDA, abolish every law that has anything to do with health care. When it comes to the most important decisions of how to spend our limited assets on health care, that’s a decision only the patient and doctor should be making. Having entire federal bureaucracies along with the president, the congress, and the voters stick their nose in this helps no one. Let the market decide, because the market is the people who need health care and have it to offer. I guarantee you that whatever solutions the free market comes up with, it will be better, cheaper, and faster than anything anyone can come up with on their own or in committee.
  • Tax reform. We’ve been overdue for a tax overhaul for nearly a century. The income tax is horrible. The fact that we have a higher tax rate than all the other countries in G20 means we’re going to be in the G21+ group pretty soon. It’s high time we reformed taxes to be simple and sane, or got rid of them altogether.
  • Spending reform. No more baseline budgeting. Every penny spent by congress should have a note attached to it on which of the items in Article 1 Section 8 it is spending for, and why this is the most efficient use of tax dollars. We shouldn’t be involved in 99% of what we are involved in, and of the remaining 1%, we should be sending 99% of it to federal contractors, who we can hold accountable for incompetence and who we can negotiate lower and lower rates as technology improves.
  • Military reform. I don’t know about you, but fighting today’s wars seems like it should mostly involve a bunch of nerds in a dark room with a video game console. Yes, we still need boots on the ground, but not nearly as many as we’ve needed in times past, and they should be equipped with the most advanced equipment so 1 fighting man today can do the job of several hundred  from a few years ago. Why is the military so slow to adopt new technologies? Because the military is where all the snouts of congress go to feed. It’s a giant scam, and nothing like what it could be. I believe we should look heavily into letters of marque and reprisal. I imagine China wouldn’t be such a threat on our internet if we were paying script kiddies a fortune to bring them to justice.
  • Bureaucracy reform. When it comes to the civil service, I want none of it. I like what President Trump is doing by firing large groups of federal employees. I would not mind one bit if federal government were a handful of people. I mean, we live in a day when a few guys can put together a company that sells a few years later for a billion dollars. If a few guys can create a billion dollar business, why can’t a few guys manage government?

It’s high time we reformed our government, in a very big way. If congress won’t do it, then we get a chance in 2018 to let them know what we think. And if that still doesn’t work, it’s time for a constitutional convention.

Seattle Traffic and Poor Taxes

March 8, 2017 by

My liberal Seattle friends are complaining. It seems passing the RTA tax meant that poor people would end up paying even more in taxes. Who knew?

I knew. Let me spell it out: Every tax, no matter how small, hurts the poor more than the rich. See, the rich are rich and they can easily dodge any taxes that would harm them. The poor? Not so much. They’re stuck in a rut. They’re poor. They don’t have options!

Anyway, let me spell out what a sane transportation policy would be for the Seattle area.

First, sell all the roads, all of them. Allow people to own the roads and control who can use them, with the following criteria:

  • No discrimination.
  • No really, no discrimination.

The reason behind this is that people have a right to move about, and when it comes to roads, that means you can’t deny some people and not others simply because you prefer one or the other groups.

Now, I know what you are thinking: TOLLS!

Tolls are bad. They are hard to collect, but they are actually far better than the system we have now.

See, the system we have now works like this.

  • The government collects tons and tons of money.
  • They spend some of the money doing what they promised to do.
  • They spend the rest on themselves.
  • If there is a problem that people are willing to pay to fix, they fix that last because if they fixed it, people wouldn’t want to pay more money to fix it anymore.

It also inspires something called perverse incentives. Perverse incentives are when people are given a reason to make bad choices because the rules of the game twist the true costs of things.

For instance, a woman on welfare might think that her life would be better if she got pregnant and had a child our of wedlock because the government would pay her more money. Obviously, this kind of thing is good for no one, and yet, there is an incentive to do it.

Another example is the man on disability who can do some kinds of work but it wouldn’t pay nearly as much as what he earned before or the disability check he is making now. So he decides to do nothing because he gets more money for it.

How do you eliminate perverse incentives? The free market is the answer, especially price signalling. You eliminate all road and gas taxes, and you sell all the public roads to the highest bidder.

See, when someone owns a road, they will try to maximize the profit they get from that road. And the way you do that is you build a beautiful, clean, well-maintained road that people like to use, and you charge them as much money as you can but you also want to make sure as many people as possible use it. Just like any business, they have a motivation to provide the ideal customer experience because with the ideal customer experience you get the ideal profit because you can charge the ideal price and people will show up in ideal numbers.

The road owners will have an incentive not only to maintain their roads, but to charge the best toll, which will be the lowest toll that simultaneously provides for all the expenses of keeping up the road but also limits traffic to the maximum number of cars.

And that’s the key: People will limit traffic themselves by raising prices.

Which sounds bad. Now poor people can’t get to work because they can’t afford the tolls. But this is simply not what will happen. What will happen is some enterprising person will say, “You know what? I can stick a hundred poor people on a bus and then divide the toll among all the passengers.” Now the poor people are paying 1/100th of the toll.

So the second part is: Privatize the buses and trains. Let them sink or swim on their own.

Competition exists even with fixed things like roads. Let me describe some of the things that you’ll see.

First, monopolies can’t exist. For instance, let’s say there’s a road that serves only my house and my neighbor’s houses. You might think someone would try to buy the road and charge exorbitant fees because we really have no option, but we do. We can park outside of our neighborhood and walk the last few feet. In short, it will probably end up that we’d buy the road for ourselves and maintain it for ourselves in some kind of collective. This already happens, all the time, in communities. Homeowner’s associations may own the private roads that service the homes.

Second, suppose I-5 is crowded and so the owners of I-5 decide to raise tolls just enough that traffic begins to slow down slightly. Since they can make a little more money by letting in a few more cars, you can bet they will figure out a way to make traffic even better and increase capacity. In fact, they’re probably going to spend a great deal of money to do this. See, when you own a gold mine, you try to get as much gold out of it as possible.

Third, there are always alternatives, particularly in a developed area like Seattle. If I-5 is too expensive, you can take 99, or 509, or the side streets, or any number of options. You can bet that every road will be competing with each other.

Fourth, you will see rich people get behind transportation projects in a way you’ve never seen before. Imagine someone like Elon Musk who tried to economize lithium batteries for his electric vehicles, but with transportation. If people are spending billions to maintain and use roads, and there’s a better way to move people and things from point A to point B, count on a capitalist to find it and exploit it.

We have been so programmed to instinctively think that collective action means we need government to step in that we are blind to obvious solutions that lie right in front of us. There are great transportation options, wonderful things that can be done. We just need to unleash the human spirit through the free market to get it done, quickly, safely and efficiently.

Basic Income: Good, Better, Best

February 24, 2017 by

I sometimes play a game of “good, better, best”. The “best” represents the ideal, the thing we should all strive for. “Good” and “better” represent more likely outcomes or compromises.

No one seems to disagree that whatever the US is doing regarding poverty, we are terrible at it. It has created a nation of dependents who have little freedom. We have perverse incentives, rewarding people for bad behavior and punishing them for good behavior. For instance, if you go out and earn a little money, you lose even more money in benefits. We also have vast hordes of power-hungry bureaucrats who torment our people with pointless regulations and insincere bloviations about how good they are for helping the poor when in reality they are just trying to earn a little more money just like every one else.

Basic Income can be a “good” or “better” outcome, if we let it.

Here’s where I’m willing to compromise.

I’m willing to implement Basic Income in the United States, even though it is not the ideal, if you’re willing to abolish all the welfare bureaucrats and bureaucracies. Just write a check each month to each individual of the United States, and let those who want to cash it, cash it, but eliminate every bureaucrat who wants to govern how that money is spent.

I’m also willing to allow you to do that especially if you eliminate the Federal Reserve and have congress just print the money itself.

I am not willing to compromise on taxes, unless you want to eliminate all of them. Don’t even think about increasing taxes to find the money to add Basic Income to the bloated welfare bureaucracy. I won’t stand for it as it is no compromise at all.

The “best” that I strive for is:

  • No taxes
  • No Federal Reserve
  • Very little regulations, weights and measures, and that’s pretty much it.
  • No welfare, not even a little bit.

In that system, everyone would get rich overnight, and the government would have so much money they wouldn’t be able to spend it fast enough.

But I understand why you don’t believe me. We’ll see.

I am willing to let you have Basic Income if you let me get rid of the Federal Reserve and all federal welfare. Deal?

Why the Stock Market is Going Up

February 24, 2017 by

Liberals don’t want to admit this, but President Trump is one of the best things to happen to America, economically speaking. We’re having to look back to the 80’s and earlier to find comparable examples.

Economics isn’t a hard field to understand. Once you get that it’s made up of a bunch of actors who are simply trying to make the most money they can, you can see what effect economic policies have.

For instance, in a free market, where people can buy, sell and trade as they like, you would get the maximum increase in wealth. Wealth is defined as people having the things they want, and cannot be measured in terms of dollars or anything like that, since people don’t necessarily want dollars: they want the things and services dollars can buy. It’s easy to see why, when people are free to buy and sell and trade they end up with more of what they want than any other system.

In the United States, we don’t have a free market and we certainly don’t have anything close to it. You might find free-er markets in other parts of the world. But as far as it goes, we’ve got it pretty good, and as long as you have a good lawyer and tax advisor, you can make pretty good decisions. You’ll quickly find there are four big things that hold you back from getting everything you want, though.

  1. Technology. Or rather, the lack of fantastic technologies. I want flying cars, right now! But more importantly, technology changes the rules of production. Every technological advance means more options to make things better or more cheaply.
  2. Foreign trade, or restrictions on it. There are things in Japan and Germany and China that I want, but I am not free to bring them here, and that means I get less of what I want. It also works the other way: There are people in Japan and Germany and China who want my stuff and my services, but they are not able to get it, at least not at a decent price.
  3. Taxes. Taxes literally increase the price of everything, oftentimes making certain things unprofitable and thus completely shutting down huge sections of our potential economy.
  4. Regulations, the bad kind, the kind that businesses don’t want. These regulations don’t make trade and commerce regular, they outright forbid it.

These things are easy to fix, if we simply had the stomach to fix them.

  1. Technology is often limited by pointless regulations. You can see for yourself as Uber battles local cabbies for permission to do what should be every person’s right. My wife asked me a few days ago why she can’t buy a new car online, and I explained there are similar stupid regulations that say you must buy from a dealership. These kinds of things, and a million more, make innovation difficult if not impossible.
  2. Trade barriers only hurt people, moreso the people they were designed to help. Although President Trump is no free-trader, his proposals aren’t really that radical and don’t really change much.
  3. Taxes are literally killing our economy because we are one of the most heavily taxed countries in the world, and we spend a fortune trying to comply with tax regulations. An overhaul here is long overdue, and hopefully, a dramatic lowering of the tax rate, which should dramatically increase tax revenue as less money is spent on compliance and more flows into the government’s coffers.
  4. Regulations are literally the stranglehold on our economy. Any hint of lightening the regulatory burden is great news for innovators and most businesses, even the regulations that are supposed to grant semi-monopoly powers to big corporations.

President Trump has signaled a willingness and the willpower to overhaul the tax code and dramatically reduce regulations. Although he is on the wrong side of the trade issue, his ideas are really not all that bad, and in some cases, might improve our situation making the US an even more central hub to world trade. What President Trump cannot control is innovation in technology, but reducing regulations should free the economy to innovate on its own. Certainly, throwing mountains of cash at government-sponsored technology programs has lead to very little real innovation, as history has shown time and again.

The fact that the stock market is rising, so rapidly and so strongly, is a sign that people are pouring money into the market. This is because they would rather have their money there rather than anywhere else. While some of this might be fueled by erroneous speculation, I am sure a great deal of it has to do with the idea that if the president continues on the path he has started, we’ll be seeing the profits of these companies rising. That is, after all, the only value in a stock: what people think the company will do in the future.

The stock market crashed in 2008 as we saw our choice was narrowed down between Obama and McCain. The economy knew that neither was good news, and the better Obama did the worse the market did. Sure, when he took office the market was already crashed, so even after we figured out Obama and learned to hunker down for the next 4-8 years, the economy improved, but have President Trump win election means something very significant has changed, in a very unexpected way.

Can machines have rights?

February 23, 2017 by

There is a lot of messy thinking about rights nowadays, and it all has to do with the attempt to erase religion from our consciousness.

For the purposes of this article, I define “religion” to be “a set of beliefs”. With this definition, things like “atheist” and “Christian” become less useful, so  I won’t use them.

Also, for purposes of this article, I define “right” as “the things you should do” and “freedom” as “the things you can do”. Notice the difference, here.

Now, fundamentally, the question of rights is a question of morality, since rights are what you should do. That means that there is a good thing to do and a bad thing to do, which means there is good and evil and thus morality.

Ultimately, the question of what is good and what is evil is a question of what you choose to believe is good and evil. It is, in essence, a religious question. (Refer to my definition about.) You choose a set of beliefs, and those beliefs will determine what rights you and others believe you have.

Now, when we talk about morality, there are really two kinds of moralities you can choose to believe in. The first is an absolute morality, where the question of what is right and wrong is independent of the person doing it. For instance, murder, you might say, which is the taking of an innocent life, is wrong everywhere, whether African tribesmen do it or Barack Obama. This is absolute morality.

Relative morality says that some things are good for some people but not for others. These systems lead to things like racism, where it’s OK for white people to vote but not black people, or the European style of government where the elite are allowed to govern but the commoners are not.

Obviously, in our enlightened era, we find relative morality to be repugnant. We much prefer morality that is universal and consistent.

But this still doesn’t lead us much closer to the question of what is good and evil. It does tell us, however, that whatever we determine to be right for one person is right for another, and so we get to the concept of reciprocity. That is, my rights end where your rights begin, and vice-versa. Whatever rights we determine we have, we can’t have other people having rights that contradict it.

These are nice, but they still cannot give us a fundamental set of rights from which we can expand outward and discover all the remaining rights. For that, we need a god, a being who is able to make a decision (or, if you prefer, a choice) when it comes to morality.

We can make our own moral compasses, in which case, we are back to relative morality, which we find repugnant. Since people’s opinions and attitudes shift, their morality will shift also if it is solely based on themselves or other people. Or we can create or rather recognize a god or gods that are not human who make the rules about right and wrong for us. Whatever god or gods we choose, we can have them communicate with us through arbitrary or concrete means. If it’s arbitrary, then some people will say one thing and others another, but if it is concrete, then we have a single source of truth we can all turn to. By way of example, the Christian world embraces the Bible as the concrete source of God’s message to mankind and thus the source of morality.

Now, to wrap it all up, can machines have rights?

In short, only if we give them rights, and we can only give them rights if we think we are gods. And if we think we are gods, we are back to relative morality.

Thus, if we want absolute morality, we must deny machines rights until some concrete message from our god or gods tells us to recognize their rights.

And if we deny the existence of god or the gods, that will never happen.

The moral of the story is that if we are to grant machines rights, we will destroy the very foundation of our morality and religion, and who knows where we will end up when we do that?