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.

What is a Nation?

December 4, 2019 by

Jared Taylor, who I deeply respect as a thinker and a spokesperson for an idea I don’t entirely agree with, makes some very good points that we ignore to our peril.

His points include the following ideas which I feel are very important.

One, that individuals put themselves together into categories, and identify with people like them. He obviously thinks that skin color is extremely important. I think skin color is one aspect, and not a very important one, but many people can’t get past it so what can I say? The critical concept here is that people *identify themselves* as belonging to a group.

What would America look like if every person in America saw themselves as a unique and important member of America? What if everyone, no matter what language they spoke, food they ate, area they lived in or the color of their skin or whatever, saw themselves as first-tier members of our group? I think America would look entirely different.

Now, another important point is that we need something that pulls people in, that makes people convince themselves that they are part of that group. For instance, in my church, I got baptized, and my name is on the records of the church. Until I get excommunicated, I am convinced that I am a member of my church by virtue of my baptism.

The key here is that many people (mostly conservatives) identify *ideas* as that thing that brings us together. That is, we are American not because of where we were born, the language we speak, the color of our skin, the food we eat, but because we like things like freedom and liberty and such. Jared Taylor rightly points out that this is nonsense! You can change your mind, and you can have new ideas, so identifying as a member of a group because of what you think or prefer means you will only remain a member of that group for as long as you think that way or prefer those things. For instance, I used to be a huge fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now I don’t care about it anymore. I don’t identify as a TMNT fan. So my membership as a TMNT fan is really nothing more than a passing fad, something no one really thinks much of.

What about my ideas that we are all created equal, that we have God-given fundamental rights? This is not unlike being a fan of TMNT. The moment I question these ideas, I am no longer a member of that group.

So we need something more than an idea to make a group of people who are committed to the group and thus each other.

Jared Taylor *rightly* points out that *skin color* can be one of these features we identify with. This is happening in America, especially among groups of people who aren’t white. It seems black people have somehow come together and created two groups — immigrants and non-immigrants — and identify as members there. Asians, however, still draw themselves up along different lines. Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese people look very similar, but they don’t think of themselves as belonging to the same group, even after living a few generations in the US. Sure, there is a generic “Asian” group but I don’t see anyone who really thinks of themselves as “Asian” other than as a group of similar-looking people.

What are other things beyond skin color? I’ll name a few:

  • Geography. I identify as someone who lives where I do, and because I am near others who live there, we identify together.
  • Culture. My culture puts me in a group of people with similar culture. I have a hard time dealing with people of other cultures because they are a different culture. That’s just how culture works.
  • Heritage. I share blood with people because of my ancestors. I went to my grandfather’s funeral not too long ago, and I felt a real bond with people because of blood. I could also see that the group was divided by their parents and such, so much so that several tribes were forming. We shared kinship, but it was clear I was much closer to my immediate siblings than my cousins and more distant relatives.
  • Language. The fact that I can speak Korean automatically grants me membership to the group of people who speak Korean. Note that many second and third generation Korean-Americans don’t speak Korean, so I am not a part of their group, just the group of people who can speak Korean, including all the other people of different ethnicities who can speak Korean. American English is a distinct and unique language and the fact that I can communicate effortlessly with people from anywhere in the US or overseas who speak it creates a bond and membership instantly.

There are many other things to consider.

The third idea Jared Taylor teaches is that you can’t have a nation that functions if people don’t think of themselves as belonging to the group of that nation. That is, if we continue to isolate ourselves into islands, without any connection, at some point, we will stop fighting to protect each other and we’ll let ourselves break up into smaller groups.

This last idea is especially powerful. The constitution, the declaration, the ideas of America, do not make us American. The fact that we think of ourselves as American makes us American, and the only way we can identify as American is if we find something that binds us that exceeds mere ideas. America, thus, is not an idea. It is a nation made up of people who are bound together by blood, by soil, by language, and by culture. It must always be so. It can never be any other way.

The “Escape Valve” in the Constitution

October 25, 2019 by

When early scientists were learning about pressure, they noticed that when pressures got too high things would blow up catastrophically, even injuring people. It was one of these early scientists that added a valve that would release the excess pressure if things got too out of control — and a whole lot of history was made after this lead to the invention of the steam engine.

The Founding Fathers may not have known about this important idea at the time of the writing of the constitution, but they did know their history.

The Late Republican Era in Rome is one of the essential points in history that we do not waste our time in studying. Rome by this time had many hundreds of years of experience as a republic. They had recovered from disasters and tyrannies and everything in between. Rome had conquered all of their foes, and was by this time supreme in the power hierarchy as far as it could see.

The Late Republican Era sees three important figures rise and fall. Each tried to address the rot and corruption in the Roman government in different ways.

First, let’s look at Cato the Younger. Cato was obsessed with the corruption in the government and he spent his life trying to stop it. He saw Julius Caesar as a threat to the very essence of the republic, and even took up arms to stop his military coup. Fleeing to Africa, Cato committed suicide rather than live under Caesar. Caesar famously mourned his suicide as Cato was more valuable to him alive than dead.

Cato might be classified as a political idealist. The tragedy of Cato is that corruption is always everywhere as it is encoded in our DNA. We are selfish beings, and there is nothing we can do to change that. Cato would’ve been unhappy under Caesar’s rule but he would’ve been unhappy under anyone’s rule, or the rule of the senate, or whatever circumstance he found himself in.

There is, in essence, certain people who pine for the ideal, but since it is unobtainable, decry the current state of affairs, no matter how good or bad they are. Cato was upheld as a symbol of what Rome once was, even though it would be hard for any honest historian or philosopher to find any instance of Rome living up to Cato’s ideal. The “Rome that was” was a fiction and a fantasy.

Too often people pine for the “way things used to be”, recalling how life was when they were young. What they don’t understand is that they were young when they were young, they were naive, and often sheltered. We waste our time and hasten our eventual end by pondering too long on how things were or how they should be.

The next important figure I want to call attention to is Cicero. Cicero is famous for being an orator, a master of words, but he would like to have been remembered for his political conquests. Cicero tried to hold the republic together, smashing a rebellion and a coup before Caesar’s, and taking credit when the conspirators were punished. Cicero, however, didn’t have much effect, and was unable to keep the republic on a steady course. When Caesar took over, Cicero initially fled for his life, but Caesar pardoned him and welcomed him back into the government. Cicero hoped that he would be the one to restore the Roman republic. When Caesar was assassinated, the conspirators called out for Cicero to restore the republic.

Cicero represents the political class that are impressed by their own ability to speak and that confuse it with the ability to govern. When it comes to picking winners and losers, Cicero was 50-50. When it comes to saving the republic, Cicero failed. Cicero seems to miss a few important lessons about life along the way, confusing his ability to give a fine speech with the ability to keep a country from falling into pieces.

Finally, we must look at Caesar. Caesar rose to power through sheer ability and drive. Early on, he formed the Triumvirate, a group of three individuals who worked together. Caesar proved himself loyal to the people of Rome and opposed to the corruption. He had a vision of a sustainable, peaceful confederation where Rome was but a capital, and where the provinces had a say in government, as opposed to a system where Rome would continually oppress and pillage her allies and outer provinces.

Caesar made the fateful decision to cross the Rubicon, saying, “The die is cast.” After a quick civil war, Caesar became the undisputed dictator of Rome, and he set about reforming the political system, chasing out the corrupt, and forgiving his enemies. It is unknown what Caesar’s ultimate result would’ve been as he was assassinated before he could set all of his reforms into motions. However, I think there is enough evidence to suggest that Caesar had planned to be dictator for a short while, reform the institutions to make them more stable and inclusive of the outer areas of the Roman empire, and then retire and let the senate continue from there.

Why focus on this era? Because greed and corruption had thoroughly rotted the core of the Roman government. You could count on one hand the number of people who weren’t corrupt, and even then, without them partaking in the corruption, it would’ve been impossible for them to obtain political power.

The Founding Fathers understood this era of history, and wanted to prevent it from happening. Or, if it did happen, provide an escape valve where we could navigate our way back to stability without going through a civil war.

The first thing the Founding Fathers noticed was that Rome relied on dictators to carry them through the roughest patches. Having a singular person that everyone can look to that can unify the efforts of the people was important. That was one of the primary purposes of holding the constitutional convention in the first place: The articles of confederation did not have a strong, central authority figure, a sort of monarch or head that people could look to and rely on to carry them through tough times.

The office of the president, obviously, was the Founding Father’s solution to this. In it, they entrusted all executive authority. If the president did not act, it did not happen. Congress could write all the laws, the courts could issue their judgments, but without the executive giving the order, nothing could happen.

In our own history, we have seen the country turn to the president from time to time to give us orders on how to navigate our most troubling times. We saw the nation turn to President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001. We saw the nation turn to President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the attack on Pearl Harbor on 12/7 1941. The nation watched President Washington as he navigated the murky waters of the unknown seas as America experimented with a new form of government.

In times of absolute crisis, such attention could give the president dictatorial powers. This is by design. If the nation were to enter a period of catastrophe or violence, the president can muster all of the militia (all able-bodied males) and take command as the command-in-chief. This has never been done. The closest we’ve seen is in times of war when people are drafted or volunteers called for. But if we were ever to get so desperate, it could be done, and it should be done.

A dictator, however, is not enough. Even though dictators are useful for a period of time, eventually, we need a place for everyone to go to argue about every government policy. That place is the House of Representatives. There, representatives would show up and argue over their sectional problems. The Founding Fathers expected this body to be intemperate, tumultuous, and even worse. When the House unites, they are the strongest part of the federal government. Only they can write taxes, and only they can start the budgets. If the House is divided and there is no majority, then the government will shut down, incapable of raising money or even passing a budget. Without money, even the president can’t be a dictator for long.

The second relief valve is, therefore, our election of our representatives. We should elect people to only one term in times of crisis. We should demand that they *do something*, anything, to fix it. We should expect our representatives to be fireballs and firebrands, the exact sort of person you want arguing on your side, not against you. The House is supposed to be crazy and unpredictable.

The Senate, on the other hand, is the third relief valve. There, the states were to have their representatives. The senate was supposed to be made up of old, experienced and well-connected politicians. If there was a corrupt body, it would be the senate first. There, the continuity of the state was the prime concern. After all, if you’re corrupt, you don’t want anything to change. That said, the pressure from the president and the House would keep the senate from becoming too complacent and demand that they do something or else the entire foundation of the government — the trust of the people — would evaporate.

It is difficult to imagine how the United States could ever become as chaotic as the Late Republican Era in Roman history. Yet here we are. We have a crisis because the House is divided, incompetent, incapable of agreeing on anything. We have a crisis, furthermore, because the senate is just a smaller house, not a representation of the states and a foundation upon with the continuity of the nation can entrusted.

However, we do have a president nowadays doing exactly what needs to be done. And what is he calling out? He is calling on us to elect a better House next time. We need to send better representatives so that the work of preserving our nation can continue. The president is keeping us focused on where we need to be focused.

Next year is an election year for all of the house members. Remember that.

On Nations, Races and Ethnicities

October 16, 2019 by

The simplistic view of race and such that we are sold is this:

  • There are a few races, and they are different solely based on their skin color. These races include White European, Yellow Asians, Black Africans, Red Indians, and possibly some other minor groups no one cares about.
  • These races broke up into different groups with a separate culture and language called ethnicities. IE, the Spanish and the Germans are just two European ethnicities.

This leads to absurd conclusions like “White Nationalism” is a thing, or even that Hitler said that he wanted Whites to rule the world.

The truth is incredibly complex, and very much different than what you have been told.

First, a race is not just people separated by skin color. It is people separated by lineage. While people who believe in the Bible would like to claim that all people can trace their lineage back to Noah through Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and so we are really one race with three sub-races (and so many sub-sub races based on the grandchildren of Noah), not everyone in the world accepts the Bible as historic fact. And so they don’t claim to be descended from Noah, and don’t claim to share a common ancestry.

Or, put another way, the common ancestors are so far different that they might as well not exist. That is to say, you will find two groups of people who claim that they have no common ancestor. They will treat the other race as if they were from a different planet altogether.

Racism is using this feature of groups to discriminate between people. For instance, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints forbade descendants of Ham from holding the priesthood, that is an actual example of real racism — treating people differently based on their ancestry. (That policy has been removed by revelation since the 70s, and today all male members may receive the priesthood, regardless of their ancestry.)

What is not racism is treating people different based on their skin color. Indeed, for the vast majority of human history, nobody even seemed to care about skin color at all. They might had said they preferred one color over another, but this is no different than preferring brown or black or blonde or red hair, or blue or green or brown eyes.

We don’t have a good word to describe people who judge people based on their skin color, so we share the word “racist” for them as well. However, just because someone is discriminating on race doesn’t mean they are also discriminating on skin color. Take the example of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We did ordain people who had black skin, because we did not believe they were descended from Ham. And we refused to ordain people with white skin, because they had ancestors who were descended from Ham. So the church was racist in the sense of ancestry, not skin color.

While many groups do not claim a common ancestry, some do. Indeed, over time, they have grown apart in their language and culture, for a variety of reasons. One of the many patterns you’ll see is that when two groups of people come into contact with each other, they will either maintain their separate identities but exchange language and culture, or they will integrate into an entirely new group, often remembering the two groups that they came from.

A good example of separate ethnicities is in Europe. The Iberian peninsula was originally inhabited by a group of people now lost to history. Over the millennia, we had Phoenicians through the nation of Carthage settling the Iberian peninsula, followed by the Romans, and then as a great crossing ground during the 5th Century AD when groups of people shifted all around the region and Rome was sacked multiple times. With the introduction of Islam, the Iberian peninsula was conquered by the muslims, only to be reconquered. What resulted is a group of people living there of many different races and integrating many different languages and cultures. Although some of the people can trace their ancestry back to Germanic Tribes, their culture and language is so far removed from them that they are now considered a separate people. That is, the same race of people can form multiple ethnicities.

Discriminating against people due to their ethnicity isn’t unheard of, but we don’t usually use the word “racism” to describe it. It’s really weird to hear people say that Americans were “racist” against Irish and Italians.

This is a message I hope people take to heart.

  • Just because you hear the word “racism” doesn’t mean it is describing discrimination based on skin color. It could also be discrimination based on race or ethnicity.
  • Trying to construct a race of people based on their skin color is a fool’s errand. People have never associated with each other that way, and they likely never will. They much rather identify with their ethnicity and race, not their skin color.

If you’re a “White Nationalist” (an absurd idea if there ever was one), I beg you to reconsider. You’re not *actually* for creating a nation of people who *look* like each other. What you’re after is creating a nation of people who *behave* like each other. What you really want to do is create a nation based on a single ethnicity, not skin color, and certainly not race.

What is interesting is that the word “nation” itself comes from the word for “birth” and you’ll see its root in words like “prenatal” and “neonatal”. Nations originally were peoples who were united by family bonds. Thus, the United States, and each of the states, are not nations, and never will be. They are supra-national entities. If we are to be quite literal, if you are pro-America, you are not necessarily nationalist. You are simple pro-American, because America is not a nation but an idea, a set of rules that we govern ourselves by and unify behind.

Thus, it really isn’t right to call people like President Trump “nationalist” at all. They should simply be called American. It’s really not right to refer to the federation of states called the United States as a nation, nor is it correct to refer to any of the 50 states as a nation. We can correctly refer to particular groups within the states, and sometimes across the states, as nations, such as the Amish and Mennonites. But unlike pretty much every other planet on earth, the United States is not bound together by birth, and so we are technically not a nation.

City of Tacoma Candidate’s Forum at the Virginia Taylor Club

September 24, 2019 by

Last night I went to the Virginia Taylor club to hear the City of Tacoma candidates. They each had about 2 minutes to introduce themselves, and 2 minutes to answer questions, so it really wasn’t a lot of time to get to know them and their positions.

There were several themes that came up. I’m going to share what I heard and what I think. Feel free to add your own comments below.

Homelessness. Living in NE Tacoma, homelessness really isn’t a huge concern. Occasionally we get people setting up camp in our area, so we call the police and they’re gone. The hardest part is just checking from time to time to see if homeless people show up. In other parts Tacoma, it’s a different story. There are lots of homeless, they are causing a problem, and so it came up a lot.

Homelessness is a problem in two ways: One, you have the obvious problem of homeless people. Homeless people end up addicted to drugs. They are a safety hazard, both in terms of violence and crime as well as the garbage and waste they create. They make our city look dirty, they make people feel uncomfortable to walk the streets, especially at night, and cause all sorts of other problem.

Ideally, we’d just get these people homes and that would be that. But the thing is the vast majority of these people used to have their own homes or apartments, but now they don’t. Also, we know from experience that just giving people stuff doesn’t make their lives better.

One of the problems is that the price of housing is going up in Tacoma, but I’ll discuss that in a separate area.

The problem of drugs cannot be overstated. There is a huge drug crisis in the homeless community. If you don’t start out on drugs, you will end up on drugs rather quickly if you are homeless in our area. We can blame the climate or any other number of factors, but it’s a fact that there is a huge drug problem in the homeless community.

The drug problem is so huge that we often ignore the other big problems which I mentioned earlier: Sanitation, rape, violence, poverty, malnourishment, disease, etc…

Mental health is also a concern, but I am of the mind that it only affects a few people. That said, once you are homeless and on drugs, you are going to have mental health issues! I’m not convinced that psychiatrists and proscription medicine will fix this, but removing the underlying causes might.

The second way homelessness is a problem is it makes residents really angry. They get angry at the council, at the police, at the courts, at the politicians, at the homeless, and this can be a real problem.

My favored approach is what I call the “justice-mercy” approach.

  • Justice: Make homelessness illegal. Make all the activities we don’t like illegal, like defecating in the streets, leaving garbage out, carrying disease, etc… The police strictly enforce the law, picking up everyone who tries to sleep on the streets at night and dumping them off in the city jail. The courts fine and punish people according to their crimes, and if they are addicted to drugs, sentence them to rehabilitation and such. That is, we do everything in our power to write fair laws that keep the community safe, and we enforce them.
  • Mercy: At the same time, we engage the faith-based and charity communities to tend to the needs of these individuals. And they are individuals, not a group! We implement whatever policies we can to remove whatever red tape we can that prevents people from helping in positive ways, and we perhaps even supplement these efforts. IE, we provide police protection to food shelters for free, or work with these communities to help them identify people and their issue.

One of the candidates brought up the problem with writing laws saying “you must be THIS compliant to serve food to the homeless”. The issue is that the homeless people aren’t getting healthy food anyways, so in our efforts to remove the possibility of food-borne illness (the same standards we keep our businesses to) we remove the possibility of sharing food at all. There are two ways to go about fixing this: Providing the training and/or facilities needed to feed the homeless, and letting the community volunteer, or remove the red tape and put up yellow “caution” tape instead. IE, “We really wish you would have proper hand-washing facilities, but if you don’t at least provide hand sanitizer, and if you don’t even provide that, shame on you please do better next time.”

Opioid Crisis. The City of Tacoma has joined lots of other governments in suing pharmaceuticals for selling drugs they knew were harmful or addictive without proper guidance to doctors. This is entirely just and fair, and I think the drug companies should be held to account, at the very least, to prevent this sort of behavior in the future.

That said, we have way too many people addicted to opioids. How do we fix it?

Some want to build “Safe Injection Sites.” Yeah, this is not going to happen. This is a terrible idea in so many ways.

Some want to support methadone clinics. I don’t know much about methadone but what I do know is it is dubious. If doctors think they have a cure for opioid addiction, I’m game to let them try it out, but I want to make sure that they are actually doing science and not just putting bandages on wounds.

My favored approach would look like this:

  • Decriminalize opium. That is, if you are abusing opioids it is not a felony. However, people who go outside of the regulations concerning prescription, distribution, and consumption should be punished.
  • “Punish” users with mandatory treatment programs. Whatever that looks like, you have to get treated for opioid addiction if you are caught using them.
  • Punish proscribers, distributers who go outside of the boundaries with big fines, maybe a revocation of their license.
  • Subsidize opioid treatment programs. It saves us a ton of money to have people get treated than to clean up after the mess they leave, which too often involves criminal acts, dead bodies, broken families, and more.
  • Warn people about the dangers of opioids and the warning signs. Start teaching them from an early age about things like this. Include how to contact the helpline or whatnot.
  • Train police and other services in how to identify and handle these sorts of cases, so that people know they can turn to government officials when these things happen to them or their loved ones.

Criminal Justice. The issue seems to be here not that the Tacoma police and courts aren’t doing enough, but that we aren’t being told what is going on. There was a recent murder in a public park, and the city provided insight into what happened and what they did about it shortly afterwards, which seems to help people understand what is going on behind the scenes. I think when you have the Black Lives Matter-style reaction to things happening in our community the best thing to do is just tell people what’s going on and not to jump to conclusions. Ideally, this would look something like this:

  • For major crimes or incidents  (due to severity or exposure), immediately issue a press release explaining everything the city knows (which typically isn’t much.) Then provide an in-depth list of things the city does in these cases, and where in that process we are at. Provide an estimated timeline with the caveat that no one can predict how long things will take or what the outcome will be.
  • At every step of the process, or regularly, provide updates on the crime or incident. Each time an update is provided, give clear and complete context around the situation. and describe what has happened as well as what is happening next and an estimated timeline.

This is the sort of thing that would do well on a wordpress website.

Transportation. The bus system in Tacoma sucks. Rail isn’t going to make things better except to help people get to work in Seattle. People talk about alternative modes of transport but we barely keep our roads functional as it is.

The City of Tacoma is old. It has that old-style grid layout. I don’t know what people intend to do about that.

Personally, maybe we should stop pretending we are a city and just accept the fact that we are a bedroom community. Either that or we try to find a few good businesses to smooth things out down here. I don’t see any startup thinking that Tacoma is ideal for their employees, who are young and dangerous and going to be wealthy one day.

Urban blight is a problem in the US, but not so much a problem in Tacoma. I think that’s because we really don’t have an urban core. We are, for better or worse, a suburban community. Maybe we should just accept that fact and build a ton of Park & Rides so people can catch the train to Seattle.

The thing about Tacoma is we basically have a blank slate. What *should* a modern American city look like? If I were to gamble, I’d say that the office buildings are not the future. People will all work from home. The future of Tacoma, therefore, SHOULD be a community where people live, not necessarily where they work. We *should* be suburban sprawl with some dense commercial areas that people visit when they want to look at clothes or do their weekly grocery shopping.

Jobs. Everyone talks about bringing jobs to Tacoma, but one candidate pointed out, “You don’t bring businesses in by saying you’re cheaper.”

Personally, I don’t want to see Tacoma turn into Seattle.  I don’t want more people moving into the city, I don’t want more jobs. If we get the jobs we supposedly want, you’re going to get people who make a lot more money and that’s going to make housing even less affordable for people who don’t have those jobs. See, for instance, San Francisco. Plenty of jobs, but do you really want to look like that?

We might want to look at *trading* jobs, lower-paying jobs for higher-paying ones. You have to be careful here. Rich people want someone to make their lunch for them, and so unless they’re willing to pay $15 for a sandwich, they’re going to have to keep the cost of living low in Tacoma, so that people can make a living selling sandwiches.

I think the trend nowadays is not to concentrate people into office buildings. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, made it clear that he doesn’t want to hire so many people in one area that those working entry-level jobs can’t walk to work. I can’t disagree with that.

Growth and Rising Real Estate Prices. The City of Tacoma is growing along with the rest of the Puget Sound area. We’re predicting a massive increase in the number of people living here. The problem is that developers spend the same amount of money to develop property in Tacoma as they do in Seattle, but they get much greater return for their investment in Seattle than in Tacoma. The idea was proposed of removing the red tape that makes it more expensive to develop property.

Personally, I would prefer we stopped building apartments in Tacoma altogether. “Affordable housing” be damned. The way you make housing affordable is you get a job that allows you to live in the area where you want to live. If you can’t make enough money to live there, then move to a place where you can afford to live. Section 8 housing should disappear.

Ultimately, I would like to have a city where you don’t need a 6-figure income just to own a house. That means we have plenty of houses for sale, and plenty of land to build more houses, but not so much demand and high-paying jobs that people crowd out the lower income level.

ICE Detention Facility. This is just one group who doesn’t want to enforce our immigration laws vs. the other group that does.

Conclusion:

I think it was useful to hear the candidates and their issues. The one “progressive” in the room sounded positively insane compared to the others who actually wanted to see Tacoma grow into something cool rather than just spout of national partisan political lines. If this is what the election looks like in 2020, I feel sorry for the democrats.

The future of Tacoma, as I’ve said earlier, is that of a bedroom community. Let’s not attract tons of high-paying jobs. Let’s build a community where blue-collar workers can run their own businesses, own property, and raise families within city limits. Let’s show the world that you don’t need to be a Seattle or a New York or Los Angeles to be a successful city.

Several Developments in Big Tech Censorship and Manipulation

July 27, 2019 by

There has been a lot happening to fight Big Tech Censorship and Manipulation over the past month or so.

Here are some of the things you might have missed.

Joerg Sprave announces that the Youtubers Union has partnered with IG Metall (the German Metalworkers’ Union) to form the FairTube Campaign: https://www.fairtube.info/

They have a series of demands, mostly asking for greater transparency and independent accountability.

I think this is pretty devastating. YouTube is going to substantially change, or it is going to have to shut down.

Here’s a great recap of what’s been happening in terms of Big Tech Censorship and manipulation:

It looks like Google and other Big Tech companies have been completely exposed. They have the power to pick the winners of the upcoming 2020 political battle. Don’t think that people are going to stand idly by and let them have such power.

The days of trying to resist Big Tech through independent action and boycotts are long over. It’s well past the time for government to get involved as our individual rights are being violated and we are being manipulated.

This is the end of Big Tech. From here on out, people are going to be suspicious of everything technology and will put pressure on politicians to hold them accountable.

The internet has reached a point way beyond being a commodity. It is now a channel of the free expression and free markets, and government must be used to ensure that the channels and markets remain free and open.

Ending Digital Segregation

June 14, 2019 by

Here’s a great article to catch up on the topic and what we should be aiming for: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/273963/conservative-civil-rights-movement-end-internet-daniel-greenfield

When the internet first started, most people thought it would be a fad, like chat lines. (You won’t remember those unless you were there.)

There were two things that we had before the internet of the 90s. One was the university networks that allowed supercomputers to communicate with each other at dreadfully slow speeds. The other were BBS boards you literally dialed into with your modem, downloaded some messages and some files, but you couldn’t do much else.

When the internet first appeared, it was not easy to get connected to it. Dial-up modems were the preferred method, but that meant that you would only access the internet for a few moments at a time, not all the time. You would treat the internet like a better version of the BBS — call up, send and receive your emails, then download a few files, and that’s it.

The next generation saw the idea of “always on” internet, and eventually the familiar song of the modem connecting to the internet faded from memory. This was the late 90s, when people knew you could go to any library and access websites filled with information.

This new technology was really the culmination of many things, and people saw the internet as just a really, really big BBS, with lots and lots of forum posts and emails and such.

Live-chatting became a thing in the early 2000s, I recall, and next thing you know bulletin boards became active and alive. Email became near constant, and we started to enter a new phase of human existence, where we spent most of our waking hours connected to people digitally.

The first revolution that truly swept humanity was something I’d like to call the “wisdom of the crowd”. Before, it would be impossible to ask a million people a question and get a million answers. But with the internet, not only could you ask millions of people a question, but you can ask them many questions. And their answers came in digital form, which meant you could categorize and organize them nearly instantly. This was a new, valuable resource to be mined. We discovered fairly early on that it could likely solve all sorts of problems in human existence, from predicting consumer behavior to even solving mathematical mysteries. The Open Source/Free Software movement that Linux is the poster child of is part of this revolution. We are still living in this movement because now we’re not just collecting answers, we’re collecting vast collections of data detailing every aspect of every life that we can measure, and we’re making tremendous discoveries because of it. (Not all of it good, of course.)

The second revolution came as we started to see the internet as a tool of propaganda and influence. Yes, it was a resource to be mined, but it became a resource that individuals were relying on for their own thoughts and ideas, and now we wanted to know how to use it to influence those thoughts and ideas. It is long rumored that the “flat earther” movement is really an attempt by the CIA to see how hard it is to get a bad idea into society, and how far it will go and what lengths it will take to stamp it out.

We recognize that the internet is now the major component of every marketing campaign, every sales pitch, every political campaign, and every PR campaign. If you want to communicate, you will use the internet to do so. No tool is as effective as the internet in influencing people, and influencing a lot of them. (The truth is that there is a method of influence that is far more effective than the internet — face-to-face contact — but most people ignore this because compared to the internet it is so much more expensive and difficult to get right.)

I think we’re coming out of this revolution at this moment, where it is no longer a new idea to think that we can influence people through the internet, but it is accepted knowledge and now we’re trying to figure out the details of how to do it right. Indeed, conservatives see their bans from these platforms not just as an inconvenience, but as keeping them from the very tools they need to exercise their right of expression.

Early on, we noticed that people would self-select the communities they participated in. This meant that different communities would have radically different characteristics. One would be full of fervent Christians, another full of people obsessed with characters in a particular movie, another full of enthusiasts about a particular piece of technology. Well, people would naturally segregate into communities that identify by politics, but they would also mingle with each other in other communities. For instance, you would have Star Trek fans that were liberal and Star Trek fans that were conservative, and they would participate in their respective liberal and conservative groups, but also come together in the Star Trek group.

We used to live in small communities made up of individuals with wildly different interests, and we used to get along just fine. A village, for instance, would contain all sorts of people. A family with many kids would have kids with different interests as well. But we used to learn how to get along because we had to. A factory didn’t have a very big population to choose employees from, so they would rather their employs learned to get along with their differences than try to exclude one or the other group from participation.

This is no longer true with the internet. As we started to self-segregate, we realized we liked it. Republicans like other republicans. Democrats like other democrats. Star Trek fans like Star Trek fans and Star Wars fans like Star Wars fans. It’s so much easier to stay with the same people than it is to get along with a diverse population.

We are now at the culmination of this experience, where we have an important decision to make: Are we going to eliminate the last vestiges of communal living, and completely divorce our population into highly specific groups that never see each other, or are we going to force people to get along?

Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and others, by banning certain people from participation on their platforms for no other reason than a large number of people find their behavior disagreeable seems to be the direction we are going. We are segregating our society into groups along political lines. Who knows but one day maybe Google will ban Star Trek fans because so many more people like Star Wars? The end of this is an absurd state where people exist as a community of one, never seeing any other person, or at least any other aspect of a person, than that aspect for which they agree. Conservatives will go off in one direction, and liberals in another. They will build their own forums until they begin disagreeing with themselves, and then you will have 4, then 8, then 16, and so on forums and none of them will ever cross. If you want to cross from one group to the other, you have to put on sheep’s clothing and pretend to be one of them, but if you get found out you will be summarily “executed”, which on the internet, means “banned”.

The other direction is the direction that is logically sane and reasonable. In places where people are free to get together and talk to each other, you may not ban anyone simply because they are disagreeable. Now, we may decide certain kinds of behavior are totally unacceptable (IE, sharing child pornography or threatening others and such) but we would have a deep and detailed discussion before changing any of these rules or adding new categories. We would also very carefully consider each case to ensure that it does fall foul of the laws and such, using our judicial procedures. In other words, if we want to ban someone from these forums, we’d need to use the government to do so, relying on the laws as written and debated, and the courts as constituted. No one may be banned, no video may be taken down, no forum closed without a court order, probably after a trial by jury.

This latter part is honestly troubling. I know how fast the internet moves. By the time a lawyer has put together the paperwork for the initial filing to start the motion, the internet has already evolved into the next version of itself, and the point is moot. I don’t know a better way to handle this, other than to turn our judicial system into a program that is open for everyone to see, with an additional layer of review on top for those cases which run afoul of the code itself. This is probably the only way things can be done on the internet.

As such, the following changed would be needed to make:

  1. No platform that provides public access can forbid anyone from participating in it except according to the law. Either you are a closed group (and heavily moderated) or you are open. (We’d need a lot of clarification of what these thing mean, but the general idea I think is sound. This is the way I think most people think of the internet.)
    1. Granted, most internet companies today are going to say, “We are closed”, so either we need to force them to admit they are open, or we impress upon the people who use these forums that they are not open, they are discriminatory and how, and they do not welcome other opinions on their platforms.
    2. We must also provide open forums some sort of protections, maybe even government funding, as these are critical to our future. I am open to even having the open forums run by the government itself, as a proof-of-concept.
  2. If you want to get a legal ruling on a case to ban someone or remove them or their content from an open forum, then you can either use the courts as established, or you can use a program that has been approved by the government to make a decision. You may NOT use any sort of human review, especially by anyone who works for your company, except for the court system. (For closed forums, do what you want, and if they complain, make fun of them for it.)
  3. If there questions about the algorithm for an open forum, you must answer them, so that anyone can understand exactly how the algorithm works and why it banned certain things. If your algorithm is shown to be wrong, it must be fixed, and you may recover damages due to the faulty algorithm, but no change can be made to the algorithm without approval of the government.
    1. In order to expedite the construction and maintenance of these algorithms, companies which use them must have embedded on their team government agents, much like how we handle FCC compliance. Proper procedures and documents must be filed. Laws, guidelines and rules must be kept.
    2. In order to gain visibility into the algorithm, the source code must be published, along with any associated data (such as ML training sets, models, parameters, experiment results). In addition, when a ban is decided, it must explain why the ban was put in place sufficient that someone can reverse-engineer the algorithm and determine where the error was made if they believe the ban was improper.
    3. If they do find an improper ban, they can sue for damages as well as the costs of investigating the ban.

I think something like this is the technical and legal system we need to protect individual rights and get us past this new revolution.

Who knows what the next revolution will be?

The Third Way

June 9, 2019 by

Anciently, and in modern times, there are two philosophies that completely contradict each other.

On the one hand, you have the philosophy of hedonism. This is the idea that you should do what feels best, as that is what is most important in life — obtaining as much pleasure as possible and avoiding pain.

This isn’t a terrible philosophy. It certainly works well with animals. And you can train them with beatings and treats. (Treats seem to work better, of course.)

The other philosophy is stoicism, which is the philosophy that seems to do much better for humanity. At the core of stoicism is the idea that there are things you can do, and there are things you can’t do. Learn to accept the things you can’t do and thus the things you have no control over, and focus your attention on the things you can do. Stoicks often engage in delayed gratification, suffering a little bit today so they don’t have to suffer so much tomorrow, or so they can reap a reward in the future. Stoicks also think of the “big picture” and their role they have to play in it.

These two philosophies can pretty much sum up all the codes of living that has ever existed, and I think is the root of the “conservative” vs. “liberal” divide.

What amazes me, however, is how wrong these philosophies are in the face of Christianity. I propose a “third way”, a sort of coalescing of the two philosophies that can only happen because of the contradiction that is Christ.

Christ is the ultimate source of justice and the ultimate source of mercy. With a word, he can bring the punishment of all of the bad things you have done in life crashing down on your head. Or with a word, he can withhold some or all of these punishments and reward you for righteousness that you didn’t participate in.

The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Combined with the fact that Christ himself is God made flesh, that he is the walking contradiction of a force of nature combined with a mortal, fleshy body, that he is, as they say, “Fully God yet fully human”, and you have the beginning of a neat little philosophy, that this world is actually pretty important.

Many modern Christian embrace a sort of esoteric sort of Christianity and thus deny Christ’s humanity. They imagine that this world is a temporary stop, a test, and that it will ultimately be replaced with a better world. This is not what Christ taught: He taught instead that this world is indeed the very place where he intends to build his ultimate paradise, and he will do it with a fleshy body that can eat and drink.

The core of Christian philosophy has some very strange ideas worth pondering:

  • The idea that there is no separation between this world and the spiritual realm: They are one and the same.
  • The idea that sin is not only a part of our nature, but a necessary part, a part we must not discard but own and overcome.
  • The idea that there is a reward in this life for righteous living, as well as the next, and that any injustice we suffer here will be ultimately made right.

Stoicks engage life thinking of things they can do and things they can’t do. Christ declares, “Nothing is impossible.” Meaning, you should be engaged in what others would consider pointless exercises in futility. Stoicks learn how to accept the world the way it is, while Christians decide that the world in its current state is intolerable and must be changed into a better state.

Hedonists are often the butt of Stoick jokes, but they are right to a degree: We should pursue pleasure, we should strive to avoid pain. We should seek the good and reject the evil. In addition, Christianity adds that the bodies we have given are not to be denied but to be embraced. For instance, sexuality is not something foreign to out nature, but a very critical element of our nature, something that is good when treated within the bounds the Lord has set, but evil when not.

Indeed, in Christianity, all things have a purpose. We are not to deny ourselves things, but to engage them for a worthy cause.

There is a lot more to say on this, and I think I have only begun to understand Christianity as a philosophy, having lived it for most of my life. I am sure there will be much more to say as I mature and understand the nature of God better.

The Pendulum Swings: A Roadmap

June 9, 2019 by

Study history, and you see that humanity, or rather, the societies that make up humanity, swing from one extreme to another.

One extreme is the ultra-liberal, idyllic lifestyle where no one seems to care about the enemy at the gates.

The other extreme is the hyper-conservative military machine that conquers because it must for survival.

In between is the sort of happy medium we wish we could live in, but no one has ever experienced but for short periods of time.

As the pendulum swings towards fascism and militarism, I am going to lay out a roadmap based on my study of history and scriptures.

First, you need a law. Without a law, you will just have warlords running around doing whatever they want for selfish purposes. All successful civilizations came through their hyper-militant phase because they had a law which they wouldn’t violate, things that were not even questionable. Those laws need to be God-made, not man-made, and I highly recommend the Law of Moses, the same law that has allowed Israel to survive until the current day. Keep in mind that the Law of Moses is not what the Marxists told you it is, and it certainly is NOT the law that the Jews try to keep today. It is much more practical and simple than that, and far more fair.

Second, you need leaders. In the Bible, the people of Israel would always default to leaders who had a connection with God. These were humble people who were filled with revelation and the spirit of God. These are people like Gideon. They did not seek their role as leaders but it was thrust upon them. These are the sorts of leaders you need. Someone who has a family, who has a connection with God, who has a purpose that far exceeds anything of this world.

That said, do not choose incompetent people to be your leaders, no matter how righteous they say they are! Good leaders are effective, so keep your eyes open for a pious, righteous man who says God speaks to him and who is capable of leading people. They are rare, so pray that God will send them to you in the time of need.

Third, you must, for yourself, live according to the law of God and you must be willing to enforce that law against your neighbor should the need arise. When Moses lead Israel to possess the land they were promised by God, the inhabitants were overcome with fear and doubt as it became clear that Israel was unstoppable and God was on their side. In desperation, it is rumored that they asked the prophet Balaam what could possibly be done. Balaam pointed out how it was the individual righteousness of the people of Israel that gave them God’s favor and thus victory in battle. So they sent prostitutes to pervert the men of Israel.

When God told Moses about it, Moses was also commanded to slaughter all the men taken by these women. There was a huge bloodbath. Those who did not pick up the sword to kill the unfaithful were not counted worthy.

This story should frighten everyone. On the one hand, if you are the sort of person to be taken in by the temptation to sin, you should fear for your life. When hyper-conservatism comes back, there is a good chance that you will be one of the many to be purged. You should be aware of what the laws of God say now so that you can avoid committing the more serious sins for which blood is required. (IE, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, and don’t lie.)

But on the other hand, it calls into question whether the righteous are really as righteous as they think they are. If God commands you to pick up a weapon and kill someone, can you do it, knowing that you are in the right? If you hesitate, then you will hesitate in battle, and that will lead to ultimate defeat. When it comes to battle, there is no room for being wishy-washy. It is kill or be killed, and only those who know they are in the right and God is on their side will do the killing. Those who do not have the flame of moral conviction burning in their heart will end up killed.

Even the Romans understood this. Before every war and every battle, they entreated the gods through omens. If the omens were not good, they did not go to battle. Whether the gods existed or not is irrelevant, really — the few times they ignored the omens and went into battle anyway were epic defeats, a self-fulfilled prophecy if there ever was one.

The moral degenerates in our society are being put on notice. We’re not joking when we talk about a purge. It seems the Rubicon in our story is pedophilia. There is no way we’re ever going to accept that, as we know for a fact that it is absolute evil to abuse little children for your own sexual gratification. Even the hardest of criminals knows that that is wrong, and will pick up a weapon in righteous fury to exact justice.

But pedophilia is not even the end of the slippery slope, a slippery slope that began with divorce and extra-marital sexual relations. As long as we tolerate those things, we are on the slippery slope that will take us way past pedophilia. I think our society is waking up to that and wishing we were back in the 1850s.

The scary truth about Hitler is not that he was a totalitarian monster who decided that individual rights were meaningless unless they served the state and society at large. The truth is that what propelled him to power was righteous anger and fury at the absolutely perverted state the Weimar Republic was in. As people came to understand the depth of the depravity of German society, they were more than willing to pick up arms to exact justice.

Had the Germans chosen a God-fearing man who was excellent as a leader, I imagine Germany wouldn’t have lost WWII. Had the people of Germans reminded themselves of the importance of personal righteousness, they wouldn’t have gone off the rails. Had they had a law given by God to guide them, rather than the arbitrary whims of a corrupt leader, they wouldn’t have been lead astray.

Go find your nearest Bible. Read the first five books of the Old Testament, and write down the important bits of the law. Write down what was and was not a capital offense, and how justice was dispensed. Write down what the other crimes were and what their remedy was. (IE, if you menstruated, touched a dead body or ate shellfish, you were unclean, but all you needed to do was purify yourself and you’re good to go. If you stole, you needed to restore what you stole. If you murdered, you had to be executed — by a family member of your victim.)

The Bible is what lead our European ancestors to victory. It is what will keep our society together through this difficult time that seems to lie ahead of us.

Christians Cannot be Victims

June 9, 2019 by

A lot has been said about victim culture, the “Oppressed Olympics” and such.

Hearing scriptures where the Lord explains what he experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, how he was treated unfairly and put on trial for no crime at all and executed without even a single corroborating witness, it is clear that the Savior, who bears all the sins of the world despite having committed none himself, is the clear winner of the “Oppressed Olympics”.

We who believe that the Savior exists and holds the world in the palm of his hands have no business playing the Oppressed Olympics. We can’t look on anyone who plays the victim and think they are any worse off than our God. We can’t look at ourselves as comparable to Him in that way either. Feed us to lions. Hunt us down and kill us. Force us to recant or face certain death. It doesn’t matter — we know that our victory is through Christ. Death doesn’t phase us.

This is power. Power is the ability to act, the ability to affect the world. When you refuse to play the Oppressed Olympics, you are free to choose for yourself what course of action you will take. Does the entire world conspire to kill you for no other reason than existing? Doesn’t matter. We will move forward anyway.

I heard a comment online, and I’m afraid no one will be able to corroborate it, but it went something like this. In WWII, the Americans were especially reliable to the allies and especially troublesome to the Nazis. According to the reporter, when their unit, a non-American unit, was in trouble, they would radio for help. If they got any other nationality on the other end, they would talk about how bad they have it and how they just don’t have the resources to help because everyone is having a bad day. When Americans picked up the phone, they would just ask for your location. Then they would move in to rescue you, despite the challenges. The Americans seemed to know where the enemy was and their numbers better than the allies did, or they didn’t seem to care. Only when the Americans got close would they ask for details on what the challenge was, how many the enemy were at and their location, etc…

The Nazis also learned not to kill the American officers. The reason was simple: The officers were telling the enlisted men to stay back, to follow orders, and not pursue the enemy. See, the weakest, laziest and least suitable soldier among the Americans was far better than the most disciplined of the allies. Why? Because they didn’t seem to care. They would execute on their orders, they would shoot the enemy, and they would pursue them if they could. When an American officer was killed, the unit wouldn’t fall apart as the European units would, they would come together, and charge at the enemy. American units with officers were far more tolerable for the enemy than ones without!

This is power: The ability to act despite all challenges, and thus the ability to create the change needed. Who is more likely to act: Someone who pretends that they are somehow winning the Oppressed Olympics, or someone who believes that no matter how bad things are, they are put there for a reason by a God who has seen far worse?

As I ask people, if it came to a shooting war, would you rather have a Christian zealot in your foxhole, or an atheist who has deduced that their cause is just?

Christians should take heart. Go ahead and threaten us with lions and death and torture. It will not stop us from acting and creating change. Indeed, it will inspire us.

The God Pill

June 6, 2019 by