Archive for March, 2011

Bush’s Unilateral Action Had More Partner’s Than Obama’s Multinational Effort

March 29, 2011

It’s all here, in black and white: When President Bush went to war against Iraq, he had 4 times as many nations supporting him than Obama doing his “Kinetic Military Action” in Libya.

Of course, now that Obama’s little crusade against Libya is turning out far worse than Bush’s romp in Iraq, maybe even democrats will admit Bush was the greatest president ever.

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The Ideal Government

March 29, 2011

I though now is a good time to share what I believe the ideal government is. By doing so, I’m allowing my ideas to be criticized. Of course, I reserve the right to change my ideas over time.

The purpose of government is simply to serve the people by protecting their rights. I won’t discuss here how we can keep the government on the right track (that’s a much larger discussion), but what a government that protected the people’s rights would look like.

First, we need to discuss what rights are and are not. Rights enable people to do things that they can do independent of others. Thus, something like the “right to receive health care for free” isn’t a right at all (since it obviously means someone will have to do without to supply the person with health care), while something like “the right to contract for medical services with a willing partner” is.

The first order of business for a government is government itself. A good government will have a sound and obvious structure. A good government will operate openly and deliberately (as far as it is reasonable), with plenty of input and feedback from the people. Thus, a good government is approachable and reacts to the desires of the people to some degree.

The second order of business for a government is security. A good government provides security for its people, from aggressors within and without.

For foreign aggressors, a good government has a sound system for waging war. During times of war, the entire nation is dedicated to fighting and completely obliterating the threat. During times of peace, warfare is a thought at the back of everyone’s minds, and the good government will free its people from any war fighting but be preparing for inevitable war. Think of it like your body. You are either sick with fever, thus completely engaged in fighting the infection, or you are healthy without only a little thought to potential diseases and threats.

On that subject, a good government inspires mortal terror in all who might want to wage war with the nation it protects. Nations who have bad intentions will think carefully before engaging in warfare. Those foolish enough to do so are freed from responsibility for such future decisions by death.

Of course, a good government is never the aggressor in a conflict. That is, in all cases, it prefers peace and open and free trade over war and conflict, and it will bend over backwards to negotiate such a peace. However, once it is obvious that the other power is belligerent and unwilling to bend, then we prepare for the inevitable war.

Internally, the good government provides a way for the people to secure themselves. A police force is hardly necessary, and in fact, encourages the people to take little responsibility for their own security. It is impossible to impose order on any people, including our own. Rather, we should give everyone the tools they need to govern themselves.

When conflicts arise, a good government encourages resolution first by negotiation, then by the legal system. Those rare cases that are brought before the courts are tried by a jury of the peers as far as it is reasonable. Frivolous suits are dismissed altogether. Those who work in the legal system should not profit much by it. Those who try to profit through legalities should be held accountable by the juries, who in all cases may override the law as necessary for a good conscience.

In cases where life or property is threatened, the people should be empowered to protect themselves and their neighbors, free to assemble in militias which should be required to be in good order. These militias composed of people who actually live in the area should be strong enough to expel any threat that any gang of bandits may pose.

That should satisfy security. Once the nation is secure from physical violence, then the question is economics. Economics is the pursuit of maximizing happiness. Such maximization cannot occur if the people are not free to act in their best self-interests.

Of course, those who put a premium on material wealth are free to do so, but should they prize material wealth above virtue, then we would have nothing but a nation of thieves. As such, the people need to be held to a higher standard than material success. This is why most nations over history have always had a vested interest in unifying the church and state.

However, modern philosophy and observation shows us that this need not be the case. A government can exist as an entity separate from the church, and indeed, both benefit by doing so. On the one hand, government can set the bare minimum standards of behavior, and standardize other important items that need standardization. The church, on the other hand, is free, unthethered to the state, to preach whatever morality it feels is imperative.

Thus, the good government divorces itself from the church, while legislating only the most basic standards of behavior.

Among these basic standards are two important issues: life and property. Among life, the issue of how people are brought into the world and how people may leave it. On that note, the state has a duty to define the basic structures of society, the family, and has a duty to ensure that everyone born into the world is born in the best conditions possible, namely to a loving mother and father. This is why governments, I believe, should legislate the family structure and should legislate that sexual relations only belong between married men and women. What to do with those children, innocent yet born into unmarried couples, is a matter for the church to handle as it sees fit. Hopefully, the church can inspire enough people to open their homes to adoption.

Among property, the issue of who owns what, how property is transferred, and how to resolve property disputes is of utmost concern. There is another issue: who is responsible for what damage and to what extent. From time to time, cases may arise where the general system isn’t working. For instance, a polluter may be causing pennies worth of damage to hundreds of millions of people, and having those people sue for their damages is simply not reasonable. In these cases, the state may step in and legislate a tax or penalty for bad economic behavior, distributing the benefit or simply repurposing it for the general welfare.

What to do with the poor, sick, and disadvantaged? The state cannot survive long if it has a policy of taking from one for the benefit of another. Instead, the church must be completely entrusted with this question. They solicit economic goods and services in the name of charity, and manage the distribution of such resources so as to maximize the benefit.

That, in summary, is all that a good government needs to do. Note that I haven’t discussed whether the good government is democratic, a republic, or a monarchy. In the end, if the effect is the same, it doesn’t really matter. However, we know from sad experience that different forms of government become corrupted in different ways at different rates. And so the majority of our discussion about governments in America concerns how to stifle the corruption and permit a rebirth of government through peaceful revolutions. We rarely take the time to think about what a good government looks like.

Idiocracy

March 29, 2011

After trying to listen to President Obama’s overdue speech on why we are bombing Libya, I’ve come to realize that the man at the top of our country has no idea what he is doing.

When I was a child, I felt like America had a duty to protect everyone in the world from the dictators and tyrants. It was only upon realizing the magnitude of such a responsibility that I understood why we tack on the clause “and serves American interests.” Until the day we can fight wars without losing a single soldier, and such a war will economically benefit the US, either with the improved security or the future trading partner, we cannot under any circumstances involve ourselves militarily in foreign affairs.

When I understood this, I realized why foreign policy was the way it was. America threw its weight around in the world of words and contracts, and spent vast sums of money to do what we could not do militarily. It has always been a cautious balancing act, a balancing act that every international power has failed at since time immemorial.

President Obama’s new policy of attacking a country to protect the lives of the protesters despite our economic interests is utterly insane. If he could have simply labeled the national interests in the conflict that overrode the ultimate cost in life and treasure, he could have at least made some sense on the topic. As it is, we are fighting, apparently, to show the world that we are no longer the superpower entrusted by destiny to rule the world.

There are other countries we should be bombing under Barack Obama’s logic. At the top of the list is Iran and North Korea. At the very least, deposing the Iranian government and throwing them into a civil war will benefit our security for generations to come. Eliminating North Korea as a viable threat would also allow a huge portion of our military investment to be reallocated, or brought back home to balance the titanic deficit we face today. Instead, we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars a day, and risking American lives, to topple a two-bit dictator in a corner of the world that Europe cares about far more than we ever could hope to.

If Obama’s real intention is to knock America off its pedestal, then he is doing a fine job. How this will help America, however, is a mystery to everyone. I certainly don’t want to live in a country where our security and prosperity is dependent on us begging other countries.

News from Communist Russia

March 28, 2011

The family of a political dissident who dared stand up to the political elite is being denied their academic recognition for their achievement. The project that one child, close to earning his PhD, has worked on, has all but been stolen. Inquiries by the public are met with silence, even feigning to hide behind the student’s privacy despite the fact that the student has authorized the university to expose his private matters. (link)

Sounds like communist Russia, right? But it’s happening here in the US, at Oregon State University.

I was challenged to listen to the other side of the story last time I wrote about this. When the other side is silent, there is nothing to listen to.

If OSU can defend itself against this blatant political retaliation, let it try. As it is, they are showing us by word why no institution except the military and courts should be supported by a single taxpayer dollar.

Democracy in the Middle East

March 21, 2011

Remember when President Bush said that perhaps our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq would ignite a democratic movement in the Middle East? I almost forgot about it, but for a mention on the radio.

The worldwide democratic movement traces its roots back to Ancient Greece. Since that time, several forms of government have been tried and have experienced success in one form or another. Our Founding Fathers did extensive research into the topics and used the best of all forms of government for our system, and pit the worst elements of each against each other.

Certainly, since the Revolutionary War in 1776 and the subsequent adoption of the Constitution of the United States, we have been a sort of model for the entire world. Other countries have had a significant influence on democratic, or rather, people-formed governments, such as the English parliamentary system adopted almost universally by former colonies. France, Germany, and other European countries, and Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and even, in times past, and somewhat today, China, have demonstrated that no people or culture is better off under a tyrannical dictatorship, and that even “backwards” cultures can learn how to govern themselves. Despite the plague of communism that has swept over the world, today it is all but banished from the world, with former soviet states such as Vietnam and Russia adopting more democratic reforms.

If you remember the mood of the country after 9/11, there was a deep sentiment that “never again” would we allow ourselves to become complacent in a dangerous world. Even tinpot dictators who we used to ignore were potential threats to our security. President Bush and his team did a remarkable job of nailing the real threat on the head, terrorism, in particular, radical Islam, all the while trying to show his own country and the world that Islam proper need not be considered a threat.

In an environment where several influential people were asking for blood, when even a nuclear attack on Mecca was proposed, and when people thought that the Islamic countries could never be civilized and were incompatible with our modern world, President Bush proposed doing something that had never before been done successfully: modernizing the mode of government in these countries.

In Iraq, the goal was two-fold. One, neutralize Saddam Hussein. Two, install a sustainable democratic republic that was capable of not only providing security for the people of Iraq, but unifying the different cultures and preventing any future acts of aggression against her neighbors. To this, we are so far successful. Of course, as far as Middle Eastern countries go, Iraqis were fairly secular and modern to begin with, and Saddam’s socialist state meant that the people already relied heavily on the central government despite their tribal tendencies.

In Afghanistan, progress has been much less visible. The current government doesn’t seem to be capable to managing the country. To be fair, however, there has never been a successful centralized government in that region since Alexander the Great conquered the people. But America has shown a tenacity that is evidence to the people in Afghanistan and across the world that we will not abandon that country until it is fully civilized.

All across North Africa and the Middle East, there are demonstrations and uprisings. In some cases, the people are taking up arms against their government. What gives them the confidence that they can shake their fists in the air in the face of despotic regimes? Why, it is America’s and the world’s resolve to support any democratic sentiments in that part of the world. They know that our foreign policy, if not formally but informally, is to stabilize the Middle East until we no longer fear whatever terrorist elements can organize themselves.

Barack Obama’s decision to take military action against Libya is evidence of our new foreign policy as a nation. He is following President Bush’s roadmap, despite grumblings within his own rank. Of course, he is doing everything he can to follow the other leaders of the free world, and from what it appears, not even appealing to congress for direct permission. However, we live in a world now where American and Western European interests are free to meddle in foreign national affairs with military force, and where the end game is not just stabilizing our economic interests but establishing pacific governments where despotic regimes now reign.

One worry, a worry that we as post-9/11 Americans will always have, is what will happen if a government sympathetic to terrorism is installed by election.We have already seen this in the Palestine, and we have, for the most part, done a reasonably good job at containing popular terrorist movements. What will happen, however, if not only Egypt but Libya and other countries embrace terrorism as a government policy?

Perhaps we’ll leave that problem for our children to solve. Perhaps our new policy is to keep throwing their governments away until we find one we like. Perhaps we know how to work within a government that is sympathetic to terrorism from our experience with Iraq and Afghanistan. Or perhaps we are making a colossal mistake as we did in Iran.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer, and I don’t think anyone can. We know, for a fact, that whatever we used to do didn’t work as well as we expected, so now we are trying something new.

How Obama’s Policies Destroys Jobs

March 16, 2011

If you understand where jobs come from, then you would be waving signs with the TEA Party.

Jobs exist because the employer believes they can make more money by hiring the employee. That’s all there is to it. The money I’m talking about is profit, the stuff left over after you’ve paid all your expenses.

The current economic climate simply hasn’t convinced employers that it’s profitable to hire more people. Let me describe the problems.

First, there’s the obvious: Taxes. When you take from the rich and give to the poor, the only thing you really do is convince the rich they shouldn’t bother in the first place. Why sacrifice money on risky ventures, when the profits will get consumed by taxes anyway? Today, the US federal income tax rate is the highest corporate tax rate in the world. That’s why people are not investing their money in America.

Second, there’s the less obvious: Over regulation. Regulations are an important part of our economy and system of government. That’s why we formed a government in the first place. However, the regulations we live under today are unconstitutional and draconian. There is no sign of things getting better, even with Republicans running the house and Democrats running the senate and White House. In fact, thanks to Obamacare and the EPA decision to regulate CO2 without congressional mandate, things are going to get a lot worse. As a country, we need to return to a system of local regulation. Let localities duke it out and figure out the best way to balance economic interests with environmental interests, rather than allowing the federal government to make blanket declarations and force all to submit to their interpretation of the way the world should be.

Third, and even less obvious, is the national debt. As of right now, tax dollars are flowing through the federal budget into the pockets of seniors and the disabled through the entitlement programs. Over time, it will get much, much worse. America is faced with a hard choice: Do we cut off those receiving entitlements today, and give them a soft landing, or do we cut them off tomorrow with a national bankruptcy? At the same time, precious capital is being consumed by the US government, capital that would otherwise flow to more risky private enterprise, starving private enterprise of the cash they need.

Fourth, there’s the attitude on behalf of the Democrats, and especially the democrat in the White House, that they simply don’t care for business and the economy, and are only concerned with expanding the role of government in our lives. Those whose investments are paying off are brutalized in the public square, and those who are trying to invest today are ridiculed and belittled.

Why would any company take a risky bet in this economy? Why would anyone invest today for profit ten years from now?

Let’s Give Peace a Chance

March 16, 2011

The violence along the borders of the United States in Mexico is heartbreaking. It, like the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear problems, is breaking up families and destroying communities of innocent people. Unlike the Japanese earthquake, it is trivial to take decisive action to end the problem.

The people of the United States are, in a way, brothers to the people in Mexico. We share a border and a continent with these people. We share many common elements of history. We travel freely across their border and they travel freely across ours.

However, that relationship is being strained as the border is being used to smuggle drugs, guns, and criminals to and fro. It is not the United States who is allowing this to happen. On the contrary, we are expending considerable resources trying to limit the illicit flow of goods and people.

The Mexican government is clearly incapable of managing her border and her population. As a police chief who tried to resolve differences with the gangs who run the towns found out, there is no room for negotiation. Mexico does not have the military or police resources to end the violence either.

I propose an invasion of Mexico, hopefully with the Mexican government’s blessing. Sending our military into these gang-ravaged towns will bring peace and stability to a region of the world that has none. By suppressing those who use force with force, we give those who live by laws and in peace a chance to regain control. Once we have exterminated the gangs and brought all the conspirators to justice, and once the Mexican government has regained full civil authority, we can remove our troops.

This action will have a cost in human lives. Not only will we sacrifice our troops, but we will see many Mexicans killed as well. Some will be innocent bystanders, some will be those who are targeted by the gangs. Most will be those who intend to use violence to maintain their lifestyle and who use the drug trade to finance their operations.

But we are already paying a price in human lives. How many more individuals, families and communities need to be destroyed? How many more millions of dollars do we need to pour into border security? What are we willing to tolerate in terms of the body count, not only of our border patrol, but those trying to leave the violence?

Once we shut down the gangs along our border, then we can discuss whether we should end the drug problem by legalizing, taxing, and heavily regulating drugs. If there were no such thing as illegal drugs, then there would be no illegal drug trade. Those who try to make a buck off of the misery of others will have to do it the same way everyone else does—by legal competition within the law.

I Am Not Going to Take Iodide

March 15, 2011

There is a threat that the nuclear byproducts of the Japanese reactors may blow through the wind all the way here at home.

There’s a report out that you should eat Iodide to reduce the chances of getting the radioactive material stuck in your body.

As for myself and my family, based on sound logic, reason, and science, I have chosen to do nothing. This isn’t bravado on my part, it’s just common sense.

One unit of measurement of radiation is the banana. Bananas, being naturally high in potassium, and potassium (K) being naturally radioactive, provides us with a useful, easily understood baseline radiation dosage. One banana would be the amount of radiation you expose yourself to by eating one banana.

Those who live near the reactors in Japan are probably exposed to one to ten extra bananas a day. Those who work in or near the reactor may expose themselves to hundreds of bananas. These are hardly unreasonable numbers. To compensate, I encourage those who live near the reactors and work near them to eat fewer bananas for the rest of their lives, and it will be almost as if nothing ever happened.

Those of us living downwind and across the Pacific Ocean have even less to worry about. Worst case scenario, we’re probably going to get one whole extra banana’s worth of radiation. To be honest, it’s probably worse to sit out in the sun for a few hours, on those rare days we get it, than the radiation we’ll get from Japan.

There is no need to be alarmed. Really, there isn’t. This is actually a really good time to think about radiation and what a dangerous world we live in. Human technology, exploiting the most powerful forces of nature, have created a device that can power entire cities, but at the cost of the risk of what’s happening now. And what’s the result? A banana’s worth of radiation. Mother nature, meanwhile, is doing far worse to us with the cosmic radiation and the natural radiation in the rocks around us.

We now know what a nuclear disaster looks like, and what the worst case scenario is in “modern” nuclear technology (modern being 40 years old technology). And knowing what we know now, I can absolutely say, with the utmost certainty, that even in the worst imaginable natural disaster, no strike that, in even a natural disaster worse than anything we imagined, and even when all systems failing, we are still wholly and completely safe.

It’s time to convert every power plant in our country to nuclear, and abandon coal and oil forever.

Do you feel safe disagreeing?

March 15, 2011

One of the characteristics of viewers of the Glenn Beck program is their disloyalty to Glenn Beck. Not that they oppose everything he says, but that they don’t agree with everything he says and are comfortable admitting to it. My first meeting with the Tacoma 9/12 group was surprising because, for a Glenn Beck fan club, it was rather pathetic in its lukewarm attitude towards Glenn Beck.

As I watch the unions in Wisconsin and across the country use intimidations and threats of violence on their political opponents, and as I wonder about the marked lack of such actions on account of the Tea Party, I am left to wonder whether leftists feel comfortable disagreeing with each other. Something that is so natural, even expected, on the right may not, after all, be so common on the left.

So my question to my readers who are not right-wingers: Do you feel comfortable disagreeing with the big voices and leaders in your movement? Would you feel comfortable standing against homosexual marriage, abortion, public sector unions, raising taxes, and liberating the economy through less regulation and spending? Would you feel comfortable quoting anything any of your political opponents have to say in a positive manner? Or do you fear that you may make some enemies or worse, get labeled as a right-wing extremist?

As for myself, I don’t think twice before voicing my concerns, because I know that as long as I don’t threaten anyone or come for their life or property, they normally won’t answer with violence.

Understanding Trillion

March 15, 2011

I use this exercise to help my kids understand how big numbers are.

Start with a grain of rice—1.

Now line up 10 of them—10. This is a line of rice about as long as my finger.

Now make 10 rows of 10 each—100. This is a square about half as big as my hand.

Now stack 10 sheets of 10×10 on top of each other—1,000. Roughly, two fists. (This is a little more than I’d eat.)

That’s what thousand looks like compared to 1. Go 10 to the right, 10 back, and 10 up, and fill in the cube.

Now, to understand a million, we think of the 1,000 as 1. Stack 10 next to each other in a row—10,000.

10 rows make a square — 100,000.

10 sheets on top of one another — 1,000,000.

We started with 1 grain of rice, and now we have a table with 10x10x10 large bowls of rice, stacked in a cube.

Now we need to understand a billion grains of rice, so we line up 10 tables in a row, all stacked with 1,000,000 grains of rice — 10,000,000.

Then we lay out 10 rows of these tables next to each other — 100,000,000.

Finally, we put 10 of these on top of each other— 1,000,000,000.

With a billion grains of rice, we have filled an entire room.

Now, let’s stick 10 rooms in a row — 10,000,000,000.

10 rows of rooms in a square — 100,000,000,000.

And make that 10 stories high — 1,000,000,000,000.

That’s a trillion. A large office building, completely filled with rice.

When people in government talk about money, start with something you understand, that is reasonably large. Let’s go with a brand new nice car, $50,000. You would need 20 cars to reach $1,000,000. A billion dollars would be 20 cars, arranged 10 deep, 10 wide, and 10 tall. A trillion dollars would be 1,000 of these—arranged 10 deep, 10 wide, and 10 tall.

We’re at a deficit of well over a trillion dollars. Where is this money coming from? How many cars are people sacrificing so that the government can continue on its spending spree? How many small countries could be completely fed, clothed, and given access to fresh food and clean water for that kind of money?

Our problem is government’s size has become so vast and large that we cannot understand it anymore. Even massive cuts, cuts that equal the value of several countries put together, are not enough to even make a dent in the deficit. If the debt is like the death star, a billion dollars cut would be what happens when an X-Wing factor crashes into the surface.

We need cuts to the tune of thousands of billions of dollars to even being to make a difference. No one in Washington DC, not the Republicans or the Democrats are advocating anything like that.

We are, in a word, completely doomed.