Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Faithless" Elector

Twitter sends me a list of "hot" twits^H^H^H^H^H tweets.

(Why do I put up with this? There's a switch to shut the feed off. Although, really, if I'm going to shut off their misfeed, I might as well just remove my account. Stupid anti-social mis-networked gadgets.)

Today's hot tweet: Some guy who claims to work for the New York Times posts something that someone who claims to be an elector says about declaring himself a faithless elector.

Now maybe it is all as it seems and Suprun is a tweeter who [works^H^H^H^H^H for^H^H^H posts editorials ] on the NYT and is an elector, and has declared that he has no faith in the election process that made Trump the winner of the last election.

I could go with that. I can understand a lack of faith in the last election, especially.

The election process needs to changed, to reduce the influence of partisan organizations.

But I have a question. Who does he plan to vote for?

Hillary is no more qualified, and, statistically speaking, got no clearer popular affirmation.

(When you study statistics, you understand that an election is a statistical experiment, and a difference as small as we have here is not a meaningful difference. Nobody can really claim to have won in any sense but the letter of the law, and the letter of the law is not the spirit of the law. Not meaningful.)

Third party?

Whether Clinton or Trump goes in, we are heading for another impeachment.

Vote protest?

Vote for the vice presidential candidate?

Except, really, we probably don't need to know.

But I do think voting for Hillary would be just as faithless as voting for Trump.         

[After posting, I note he indicates favoring Kasich. I had forgotten about the Republican candidates who had lost in the primary. Well enough.]          

Friday, November 18, 2016

"My New President Says ...!" (Is the Shouting Match Over Yet?)

Family arguments this morning. No, the discussion wasn't American politics or the president-elect. It was just a normal argument about chores and who gets to tell whom what to do. And about listening instead of just throwing words into the air.

But I have work to do, and e-mail to read. (Bitter taste of irony in my mouth.)

I don't know how Twitter got me lined up with LGBTQ-whatever tweets, but they come in regularly, and I don't have the time to log in and go mousing around to see if I can change the settings. (But I do have time to write this blog post. Go figure.) Besides, I'm letting Googlemail filter twitter's junk into a "Social Media" folder (or whatever that is) with LinkedIn, etc.

This morning there's a re-tweet (essentially) of some media reporting (I'm guessing.) on somebody in Florida who attacked a man, claiming (with crude language) that his new president was excusing him in doing so.

(One of these days, I need to explain to the whole world just exactly what homosexuality means, and why the whole thing should be a non-argument. Not that anyone would ever listen to me if I did. Or, if the post got attention, I'd be targeted by both all sides of the argument for not taking sides with them. Yet another reason I'll never be elected president.)

And I find myself thinking that the last presidential campaign is an archetypical example of people talking (and shouting) at each other without listening.

Which is why we ended up with Hillary vs. The Donald. Ultraman's mother vs. The Incredible Hulk (or maybe it was Glenn Talbot) or something like that.

So, the problem is that we still aren't listening to each other.

Maybe I should start twitting pithy things now, like, "The shouting match is over, can we start listening to each other yet?" (But would that fit in a tweet?)

I really don't like the current implementation of social media. Anybody want to front me the bread to get it right? No? Well, LinkedIn is as close as we'll get at this point, in no small part because they are trying to design it to promote real conversation.

The shouting match is over. Can we start listening to each other again, yet?

Monday, November 7, 2016

An Awkward Proposal for an Amendment to Correct Election Processes

Amendments are extreme means. The travesty of the current presidential election rather calls for at least suggesting extreme means.

The president is not supposed to be king/queen for the day or for four years. He or she is supposed to be there to keep Congress in check and be the head of a limited executive branch. He or she is supposed to just be another ordinary citizen with what is supposed to be just a relatively ordinary job.

But now we have Congress holding court with their retainers, whom we call lobbiests and vested interest groups and political parties. When government was small, there was no reason for the retinue.

And we have the courts holding court with their retinue of lawyers, etc. When government was small, ...

And we have the presidential contenders holding court with their retainers -- the political parties and campaign committees, etc.

My wife is listening to the radio in the morning as usual.

The talk show host is commenting on the US elections, comparing the presidential race to AKB-48's popularity contests. My wife says the comparison is insulting to AKB-48. (My family is none of us fans of the idol manufacturing entertainment corporations, and AKB-48 often gets particularly critical evaluations.) I know the comparison is not unique, and it isn't even the first time Dojo has said it. And American pundits and commentators have compared this election unfavorably to American Idol, too.

But it's really bad this year.

I explained to my daughter that things are not supposed to get this bad.

Now, I personally think that neither Clinton nor Trump would be the worst president elected in the US.

Mr. Trump, if the ironic happens and the decoy gets elected, would have to pick a cabinet, the cabinet would have to be approved, and such a cabinet would help him figure out what a president really is allowed to do. Unfortunately, he would thereby be easily turned into a puppet of the power mongers who think they are the hidden aristocracy.

Ms. Clinton's approach to politics has improved a bit since eight years ago. But she definitely let's her mother's instinct for protectionism interfere with her comprehension of the general duties of citizenship. The e-mails thing and other such blunders I chalk up to the people she has gathered around her. And she definitely has shown herself to be manipulable by those power mongers.

Either way, there is likely to be some more unfortunate erosion in the Constitutional checks-and-balances.

And it is not the personalities that are the problem here.

It's the reinterpretations, the changes in traditions such that a particular Constitutional restriction really doesn't mean what it says any more, so that they can "accomplish" the "things" that their backers want.

We need to untangle partisan politics from all of the political processes, and one place to start is the presidential campaign.

We are told (by whom?) that the electoral college was intended to provide a buffer between popular opinion and the office of president.

I don't believe it. Maybe that was what some people thought.

My impression is that the electoral college was really intended to provide an organized way to get the results of the state balloting safely to the capital for this one office that has to be elected by all the states.

In the late 1700s, we had unreliable postal roads. (erk!) No TV, no telephone, definitely no Internet.

And the Constitution was not designed to bring all the states together into one homogenized nation. Each state has its own Constitution and its own laws. That includes election law.

So we had the problem of different election processes in each state, meaning that a citizen's vote in Virginia was not the quite same as a citizen's vote in New Hampshire.

The electoral college was intended as a way to let each state handle elections its own way, and then the states themselves pass their results up to the national level. It was intended as a protection against vote tampering.

As a convenience, it also provided for difficult cases such as statistical ties.

Florida's "hanging chads"?

Florida was a failure of the system. It wasn't the first time we'd seen that particular failure. Florida was a statistical tie. No way is less than one percent difference meaningful.

In plain words, neither Bush nor Kerry won Florida, hanging chads notwithstanding.

Elections are statistical processes. At the time the Electoral College was established, the methods and means for transmitting the results of the processes were not well established. Some of the statistical mathematics were also not generally understand.

And, what is more important, what might have worked well in one state probably would not have worked well in another.

Once again, as I understand it, the Electoral College was not to protect the office from popular opinion so much as it was to protect the transmission of the results.

What has happened now is that the two predominant political parties have essentially hijacked the election processes, establishing their own machinery (the primary elections being the most prominently visible parts) for state operated methods of choosing electors.

The most effective way to protect abused power is to hide it.

Can we get that through our heads?

Putin is a figurehead -- a strong figurehead, but he can not go against the real power holders if he wants to stay alive.

Kim Jung Un is so hard to decrypt precisely because he is trying to work the real powers in Korea against each other, and it's not really working the way he expects.

Obama wanted to do a lot of good things, but the limits he ran up against were not just Constitutional limits.

So, we need to break the political parties' hold on the election. That means that we need to change something. (And we'll have to revisit this question again in a few decades, I'm sure. Social engineers are always so blind to the results of their manipulations.)

So, I'm proposing:

An Amendment to Correct the Elections Processes.

[Except this is way too much detail to be made part of the Constitution. I really need to refine the ideas here a bit more.]

Section 1: Ballots used for national elections, including state processes for national elections, and the processes for casting ballots, shall conform to the following requirements:

The ballots shall be rendered in physical and durable form.

The ballots shall be directly readable by all who use them, including the person legally casting the ballot and the persons who, by law or judicial direction, count the ballots.

The ballot shall not change form in casting, submission, transmission, or storage except the minimum necessary changes to provide for the anonymity of the person casting the ballot.

The person casting the ballot may request help from a qualified voter of his or her own choice.

The form of the ballot shall provide anonymity in all elections except where there is unusual, overriding, pressing, and temporary need to identify the person casting the ballot with the ballot cast. In any case, elections for the President, House of Representatives, Senate, and any elected judicial office of the United States shall always be conducted in a manner which protects anonymity.

The form of the ballot shall also provide means of confirming that the number of ballots counted matches the number of ballots cast.

The content of the ballot shall be protected from discovery until after it has been separated from whatever means has been provided to confirm the ballot count, and until after it has been submitted and stored for counting.

Counting shall not proceed until after the polling area is closed for further ballots.

A person requesting a new ballot to replace a spoiled one shall physically and visibly destroy the spoiled ballot and return it. Destroyed ballots shall be kept separately from cast ballots at all times, and shall not be counted except to determine that the total count of ballots used matches the total count provided for the election.

All ballots shall be kept for the purpose of confirming both the process and the result until such time as determined by state or national law.

The methods and means for counting the ballots and transmitting the results to the respective government officers who by law receive them shall be open to review.

Casting multiple ballots in any national election shall be tried as a misdemeanor crime. Aiding and abetting the casting of multiple ballots in any national election shall be tried as a capital crime. Repeated offenses may be punished by temporarily or permanently revoking the privilege of voting, as determined by the courts for a particular case. [And I really need to work more on the language of this one, too.]


Section 2: The President and Vice President of the United States shall be chosen by direct vote of qualified citizens of the United States in their states of primary residence.

Each candidate standing for the office of either President or Vice President shall stand as a candidate for both offices.

The ballots shall provide for the choice of any of the candidates for President and Vice President, once as choice for President, and once as choice for Vice President. The ballots shall also provide for a write-in candidate, and for an explicit vote against all of the candidates in each office.

[Yes, I think that it should be possible to vote for one from one party and one from another, and I think it should be possible to vote for the same candidate for both offices, should one desire to do so.]

When counting the vote of a write-in candidate, it should be recorded and counted as it is written. 

A runoff election shall be held when there is no clear winner for either office, or when the combined count of votes against and votes for write-in candidates are the highest votes for either office. Also, a runoff election shall be held when one candidate receives the highest count of votes for both offices.

There is no clear winner when the highest count and the second highest count are within one percent of each other, one percent meaning one percent of total votes cast for that office.

When a runoff election is held, all candidates whose count of votes for a particular office in the original election is within five percent of the highest count for that office shall be invited to stand again, five percent meaning five percent of the total votes cast. Also, when a runoff election is required, anyone who can reasonably demonstrate their claim to be a write-in candidate receiving more than one percent of the total vote shall be invited to stand.

Further, when a runoff election is required and votes against all the candidates exceeds ten percent of the total votes cast, new candidates shall be allowed to stand in the runoff election. Again, if there are less than two candidates to stand, new candidates shall be allowed to stand in the runoff.

The runoff election shall be held six weeks after the original election. All candidates standing in the runoff election shall register their candidacy in each state at least a week before the runoff election.

The runoff election shall allow for neither write-in candidates nor a vote against all candidates, unless no new candidates stand. If no new candidates stand, write-in candidates shall be allowed.

If a write-in candidate appears to receive the most votes for either office in the runoff election, a confirmation election shall be held to choose from among those who can demonstrate reasonable claim to being the winning write-in candidate. The states shall make no effort to prevent such demonstration of reasonable claim. This election shall be held three weeks after the runoff election. Those who stand in the confirmation election shall register in each state during the two weeks following the runoff election. The states shall not make unreasonable requirements for their registration. The ballot shall provide for explicitly voting against all candidates on the confirmation ballot.

If there is no clear winner for either office after a runoff election and any confirmation election, the House of Representatives shall as soon as possible choose by vote from among the candidates in the runoff and confirmation elections receiving more than ten percent of the respective total votes. If no two candidates have received more than ten percent of the vote, they shall choose from among the candidates receiving more than five percent. If no two candidates receive more than five percent, they shall choose from among all the candidates. A quorum of three fourths of the House shall be required, and they shall vote first for the President, and then for the Vice President.

Section 3: If this amendment is ratified within one month of a presidential election, it will take not take effect until that election has been completed.

If this amendment is ratified, it will be reviewed and either repealed or updated after twenty years.


Why Do I Suggest So Many Constitutional Amendments?

I have suggested two, already. And I have at least three more that I am going to suggest,
None of these should be necessary.

Surely, playing with the text of the Constitution is not wise?

Surely, it would be more appropriate to deal with the current problems with the law with ordinary legislation, having Congress clean up its own mess?

If only Congress would clean up the mess they call the US (national/federal) code.

But we have a deeper problem. Several of the amendments and a long string of reinterpretations that we once thought were expedient are denaturing the Constitutional balance of power.

For far too long time, we have ignored the fourth branch. We have forgotten that a people who will not govern themselves shall not be be governed to any good purpose at all. We have let the executive, legislative, and judicial branches take the ascendant position of power.

Worse, we have allowed the political parties to try to substitute themselves as the fourth branch.

And we have allowed the media to try to substitute themselves as the fourth branch.

And we have allowed corporations to try to substitute themselves as the fourth
branch.

Who else is trying to jump into the presumed vacuum left when the Constitution banned the nobility and laid the foundation of sovereignty on the people instead?

Religious groups are not the only dangerous partisans whose influence in government must be strongly counteracted.

If we can restore the Constitutional protections and balances of power by ordinary means, that would be wiser.

But we have to start talking about the problems before we can start fixing them. Talking about the problems is one of the ordinary means, really.

Raising the possibility of amendment is one way to try to kick the conversation out into the general forum of discussion.

Dangerous times call for pushing rhetoric a little towards the extreme.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Priorities in Public Service

I was debating where this should go -- in my free-is-not-free blog or my fantasy economics blog.

(Almost) nobody reads them anyway, but I decided it matters most in the political context right now.

When I was growing up, many of the sermons at church seemed to be borrowed from self-improvement seminars for businessmen. I suppose that's the best way to describe them here -- pep talks, attempts at applying gospel principles to the real-world.

Two recurring metaphors were

I can sleep when it rains.

and

I don't really know how close to the edge I can drive. I stay as far from the edge as I can.

Let's put those into the context where they were usually given, in ostensibly successful employment interviews.

The first was the response of a farm hand when asked his selling point, I suppose. You know the question, "Why should I hire you?"

The second was the response of a stagecoach driver asked how close he could drive to the edge of a cliff in a group interview, when the other candidates were bragging about their skills in driving in narrow mountain passes.

Both of these are about priorities, ostensibly conservative priorities.

I always wondered what the driver who stayed as far from the edge as he could did when the road was too narrow to pass without driving close to the edge. We don't know from that response where he decides to turn back, and where he decides to move forward, and where he decides to stop, let the passengers out, clear a wider track, if possible, etc. But at least we know he thinks he is cautious.

In the case of the farm hand, we don't know what his priorities are in a storm, but we are fairly sure he has confidence in his priorities when it's time to secure the barn.

We don't know the details until we work with a person for a while. That's the way life is.

And it's the same with presidents of countries.

Which is why their power should be limited -- so limited that there really shouldn't be any reason for the campaign excesses we are seeing.

It's the same with every elected official, really. Congresscritters should not have the power that attracts the extremes of lobbying that we are seeing.

And it's the same with corporate management. Corporations should not be as powerful as they are, and when they go to the kinds of excesses that we are seeing in every industry, we should be able to refuse to do business with them until they back down or quit.

We should be able to seek more responsible corporate management by choosing other companies to do business with.

We need more power to fire, or at least re-assign our leaders and managers.

That we have to say this kind of thing should be telling us that we are allowing our experiment in a government that recognizes the freedom and sovereignty of the citizens is failing.

Our great and noble experiment in freedom is failing, and we are allowing our attention to be distracted by the two "major" candidates for the job of president of the country. And both of these candidates have demonstrated that their priorities are not in letting the national experiment in freedom continue to succeed.

It's time for millions of voters in every state to vote protest votes -- anybody but the two candidates that are being forced on us.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Helping Ourselves by Helping Others

My sister was telling me how much I helped her when cancer had her down.

I didn't do most of the hard work in helping her. I was just there, mostly.

But my being there was important. I could figure out what she needed when others couldn't, among other things.

Going to help her helped me in intangible but important ways. But if I had gone to help her with the intention of helping myself, I would probably have ended up helping no one.

Essentially, the doctors had given her less than a month to live. I was able to figure out things she could eat. (... with help from God, but, if I say that out loud, people will think I'm a nutcase and dismiss what I'm saying here as the rantings of a lunatic. That they are the rantings of a lunatic is irrelevant.)

With (just barely) enough nutrition, her body was able to fight off the secondary infections, and the cancer surgery was successful. She has now been in remission for several years.

I really needed to get out of the computer industry at the time, and going to help her helped me to start taking the steps to do so.

This is an example of a couple of the reasons why government programs are not the solution to our really difficult problems.

None of what my sister and I dealt with fits the rules that institutions have to follow. We had to behave as individuals, not as social automata.
We had to have each other's well-being at high priority, and government institutions can't deal with that. They can only deal with things that they can depend on, which requires them to assume self-interest first.

Self-interest is not too evil if it is at least enlightened and moderated by the recognition that unbounded greed is self-destructive.

Self-interest is a good thing when it is enlightened by the principle that we are all raised up a bit when any one of us rises, and by the principle that long-lasting improvements are obtained by different means than the next-big-thing.

We cannot help ourselves if we don't help others.

We cannot succeed in helping others if our goal is our own immediate gain. Nor can we succeed if we insist on helping them by our rules. (It's the same thing, but it's easy to fool ourselves into believing we are helping when we are only trying to help them be like we think we ought to be. [And I meant that last "we". One reason we want others to be what we want them to be is that we are not what we want to be.])

But we can help others -- if we really have their well-being as our goal.

And if we help others, if we are really interested in helping them and not just pushing our own agendas and ideals on them, the good things we do come back to us.

What does this have to do with politics?

No political platform can address this kind of thing when the candidates want to win more than they want to serve.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Global Climate Change

Warming?

Well, yeah.

Cooling?

That too. Change.

Man-made causes?

Definitely. 

Atmospheric carbon?

Yeah, but not all by itself.

Sequestering?

What on earth do they think they are into, here? We need that carbon, we just don't need to be spewing it into the air in that form, at the rate we are now.

Every argument becomes a reason to assert somebody's right to tell everyone else what to do.

Lose the debate over who gets to tell whom what to do. It's just another proxy for war, and, like all proxies for war, gets bloody if we can't leave it alone.

Pollution? Are we polluting the environment?

Most definitely. Now we're getting closer to the problems. But it's not just the physical environment.

We have to quit polluting.

What are we doing that pollutes?

Finally, we're getting to the real questions, the real problems.
  • Too much driving places we don't need to drive in cars that use too much energy of one form or another.
  • Too much shipping things places they don't need to go and then shipping them other places they don't need to go until we just end up shipping them to the landfills. 
  • Too much pushing information around on the 'net that doesn't need to be pushed around, especially pictures and promises of pictures of naked people, promises of easy money, promises of miracle cures, and other fraud.
  • Too much manufacturing things that don't need to be manufactured.
  • Too much fighting each other about what the other guy should be doing.
  • Too much fighting each other, not just with weapons of blades and explosives, but with money, products, presentations, advertising, words, regulations, laws, intellectual property, ...
  • Too much meaningless competition.
  • Too much trying to control the other guy.
  • Too much.
We have to learn how to help each other not do too much.

We have to learn how to help each other make a living without polluting.

How do we do that? More rules?

Since when does making more rules help anybody do anything?

More machines?

Actually, more machines, if we weren't so busy controlling what the other guy is doing with them, could help.

What are the underlying causes of the doing too much? Why, for example, does Intel waste so much of our global semiconductor resources manufacturing CPUs, memory devices, etc., for more energy inefficient devices that people really don't want?

What did I just say?

What do you see when you go to the electronics store to look at consumer information/computing devices?

More MSWindows/Intel devices. Intel and Microsoft are really pushing hard to keep their effective near-monopoly that allows them to control the market so they can claim (among other things) that they are too big to brought to account for their illegal and immoral activities -- too big to be shut down. (We've heard that before, too.)

What do people really want?

iOS devices that use mostly non-Intel parts and non-Microsoft software.

If not that, Android devices that, again, run perfectly fine without either Intel or Microsoft.

After that? MacOS devices that, if it were not for a "switch" that Apple pulled to get Intel out of their hair about ten years ago, never needed anything Intel at all.

And after that? Open software devices that are perfectly fine for most people's workstation needs, that, again, unless you invoke constrained and fraudulent Intellectual Property arguments, are completely independent of Intel and Microsoft technology.

No, Intel CPUs are not and have never been faster than the PowerPC devices that IBM and Motorola offered to allow pretty much anyone to make. Nor will they ever be more efficient than the ARM devices that pretty much anyone can make now.

That switch that Apple pulled wasn't about speed or efficiency at all. It was about fraudulent intellectual property claims that Intel was, and still is using to keep other companies from making competing products.

And now it is about the NSA insisting that all information/computing devices have to have backdoors so they can eavesdrop on your and my conversations, so that they can send the black ops guys around to tell you and me we are doing something they don't want us to do. So we have to be given a reason to dump our perfectly good information/computing device (smartphones included) and buy something that has been manufactured in the last few years by Intel or someone licensed to use the Intel backdoors.

Who is that "they" that doesn't want you to do something that really isn't anyone's business but your own and your neighbor's and God's?

"They" are the invisible competition, the invisible bad guys, the demons in the rich guys minds, the excuse for the people with all the money to keep having to work overtime making other people work overtime to produce product that nobody needs or really wants so that "they" can win the race that nobody needs to be running.

Boston was fun to listen to when I was younger. Not so much now, but
I understand about indecision,
I don't care if I get [left] behind,
People living in competition,
All I want is to have my peace of mind.
(And "they" want to give us "their" piece of their mind.)

Look in the mirror. Why are you running so hard to go places you don't need to go?

You could at least be running just for exercise, instead ...

... if you can't figure out a good reason to go to places real people actually need you to go at a pace that doesn't wear you and everybody else out.

You and I and the people near us deciding to slow down a little would do a whole lot to reduce the excessive use of energy in our local environment.

And if that started happening all over the world, we could have a little more time and energy for getting food and clothes and other necessities to people who need them, so that they quit feeling like they have to bring the wars to our doorsteps to get the necessities we have too much of and they have too little of.

We'd have a little more time and energy for doing things that really mean something.

And we could make friends in the process, and that would help us start solving some of the other social problems that people say we need to solve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Magical Solution to Debate Lack of Quality

Invite the top three third party candidates to the next one.

If they'll come.

(The might prefer to avoid the noise fight.)

If they would join the debate, the Donald couldn't just focus on Hillary's perceived weaknesses.

Frankly, that the debate organizers have failed to go out of their way to invite the third party candidates this year says something to me about the debate organizers' motivations and goals.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

So Why Are We Surprised at Anything the Candidates Say?

Ten years ago. Trump's third marriage, and he hadn't been working all that hard to hide his libidinous proclivities anyway. We knew already what sort of person he was ten years ago.

And we knew what sort of things he would brag about, off-the-cuff, in certain kinds of situations, in certain kinds of company.

And we think we know that he has grown up a bit. Otherwise, we wouldn't have given him the Republican nomination, now, would we?

I had junior high school teachers who said things like
Them as do, don't talk about it.
when the young boys were bragging in the locker room.

(One teacher/coach in particular, having said that, would later point out in class that it was a truism, not a truth.

He was just trying to get the boys to "engage their brains before engaging their mouths." And trying to point out that "The talk often doesn't match the walk."

I didn't appreciate that teacher then nearly as much as I do know. He was a good man, not perfect, not nearly as smart as he wanted to be, but trying hard to give the students some benefit from his own experience.)

I never made such brags. I didn't join in those conversations, in part because I was a good Mormon and Mormon boys (are supposed to) learn not to think their personal worth depends on the opinions of the people around them. My not joining in those conversations helped keep me out of the prevailing social circles, but I preferred it that way, really.

But I will admit I bragged some stupid brags about non-sexual matters.

(50cc Eisenhower? Hah. Although I did, after that brag, waste some time daydreaming, and maybe drawing up some crude diagrams of a model motorcycle that would take a 5cc model airplane engine, which I would hand-letter "Eisenhower" where Honda had lettered the Elsinore brand in.)

I am not a fan of "the Donald".

My wife responded to later radio news that mentioned the brag in the process of announcing the debate that was just starting with, "Why don't they both just drop out of the race?"

And I basically agree.

I've pointed out elsewhere in this blog (here, too) that I am not looking forward to el espectáculo of the next four years if either of the "front-runners" gets elected. But I also expect whoever gets elected to eventually get used to the job and do it no worse than many of the past presidents have.

It's lousy timing for a lousy president, but we've had lousy presidents before. Sometimes, lousy presidents have been, overall, good for the country. We are not supposed to be dependent on our government that way.

I expect the USA to survive. Maybe just barely, but the country, as a whole, will survive as long as the people, overall, remain loyal to the inherent responsibilities of freedom.

The circus the media is making of this is the greater shame.

(Unless, of course, we actually have a general cultural awakening to the errors in thinking that sex is about conquest, and not just an outcry, to be forgotten in less than four weeks, and whitewashed over in four months.)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

If You Can't Play by the Rules, What Should You Do?

(From last summer:)

Listening to the radio (Asahi Broadcasting 1008 ABC -- Dojo Yozo, my wife's choice), Russia's repeated efforts to show the world they are superior by irregular means are in the news again.

Superior by irregular means.

That means cheating.

(Now:)

LinkedIn sends me lists of current hot topics on their news regurgitator uhm, aggregater, and I took the bait last night.

Something about Wells Fargo's top level management getting to sit in the hot seat while some Congresscritter wonk roasted him.

My mom explained something interesting to me when I was a teenager.

Roasting people is easy.

Helping put the pieces back together is much, much harder.

Putting the pieces back together after a roasting is very much harder still.

Which activity has more value?

If Stumpf is a criminal and should commit 切腹 (seppuku) resign as a self-induced punishment, it looks to me like Warren is a hypocrite and a criminal. What should she do?

Yes. What the top management at every bank is doing to make ends meet is unsavory. They should quit doing that. Management should take severe pay cuts.

(The obscene pay rates were a proximate cause, of course.)

What Congress is doing is also unsavory. Let's go back to the Russian Olympic team.

If you can't win by the rules, what should you do?

A real sportsman's answer will be
Take pride in playing the game well, right, and fair. And playing hard, of course. It's not nearly as much fun if you don't put your heart in it.
The guy who is in the game for some reason other than the game will have other answers.

Some will shrug their shoulders because they don't really care.

Maybe they'll quit playing because it's too hard. That would be their answer, and maybe it's not a bad answer. At least they will step out of the way, even if they quit supporting the game.

Maybe they won't quit because, hey, it's a better way to kill time than doing drugs (or pornography, etc.). Their answer will be, "nothing special," which is also not necessarily a bad answer. Every game needs people who support the game by just being there.

Others will suffer angst. Why would they suffer angst? Probably precisely because they are not in the game for the game, but for some external gain.

The Russians (not the players, the politicians) are apparently in it for political influence. They are not the only ones.

Others will be in the game for monetary or other kinds of gain. So many are in it for praise -- from parents, coaches, teachers, friends, or even from people they don't even know.

Those who are in the game for gain external to the game have motivations which can not be moderated by consideration of the game. They don't care if their winning destroys the game.

If they cannot moderate their ambition, they must win.

At all costs, they must win.

Even if it destroys the game, they must win.

What will they do if they can't win the game?

Change the rules.

Sometimes we talk about "game changers" with awe. Changing the game can be a good thing.

But when it means letting certain players (and we all know who they are) use performance enhancing drugs, it doesn't just change the game, it destroys the game for those who don't want to use performance enhancing drugs.

I've thought about making two versions of the Olympics -- not that I have the power or authority to do so, but as a suggestion, perhaps, or maybe as a plot element in a novel.

One version would be for non-professionals. Maybe they train for an hour or two a day, but not for eight hours a day. They have other jobs to put food on the table. Life doesn't end if they lose.

Another version would be for semi-professionals. They train for more than six hours a day. They probably don't have other jobs. Life changes drastically if they can't win at least a few every now and then.

That much has been regularly suggested, but it's hard to figure out how to make it work. (We do have the world amateur games, sometimes.)

Maybe we could have a full-on professional world sports showcase. These games could be no-holds barred. Practice 12 hours a day. Use every technological aid you can. Performance enhancing drugs? Sure. Risk suicide if winning is so important. These games would be for the crowd whose life ends if they lose.

The problem is still how to make it work. You need rules. Lots of rules. Detailed rules.

The rules change the game.

If you can't win by the rules, change the rules. Add more rules to help your side.

So, what about Warren and Stumpf and the banks that have to win at all costs?

It's not just Wells Fargo, of course. That's part of Warren's duplicity. It's pretty much every major bank, and not just the banks that are cross-selling when they should be just letting the customer alone.

It's not just Dodd whatever, not even just Sore beans and Oak leaves. That's another part of the duplicity.

Sure, I agree with some of what Warren said, but she wasn't interrogating. She was committing the logical fallacy of taking target practice on a sitting duck. Shooting fish in a barrel.

It looks cool, and it accomplishes zero except helping her win in the public image contest.

We have to win. We can't back down.

So, what is the solution?

More laws?

Give me a break.

It comes back down to you and me -- to bringing back a social atmosphere where the multiple errors of the meme,
Nice guys finish last. 
are well known, and understood and accepted by all.
Nice guys finish. They sometimes finish first, even when the game is rigged.

The overly ambitious burn themselves out, and try to take the rest of us down with them. And they never finish.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Vote? What Does a Vote Mean?

Following on from this rant (http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/09/make-your-vote-meaningful-vote-for.html) on the state of the current election and the use of voting for someone who supposedly can't win, I guess I should explain my theory of voting.

Some people say, "Why bother voting? You can't change anything anyway."

It's a lie.

If you don't vote, you sure won't change anything. Unless you decide to take the law in your own hands, at any rate.

Sure. One vote is like a grain of sand on the beach.

But if there are no grains of sand, there's no beach.

This is something that takes faith in your fellow man.

There are several ways to take the law in your own hands.

Anyone can find materials and make a bomb and dump it someplace where people will get hurt. Anyone can buy or make a gun and shoot it at the people they think hurt them. It makes a lot of noise, but what does it change?

It may seem like taking the law in your own hands, but it is really just doing the opposite.

It only makes people more determined to do what they thought they were going to do anyway.

If you have a lot of money, you can bribe people to do things you want them to. Sometimes it actually sort of works, but they aren't really doing it because they care. So it doesn't really work all that well.

If you have a lot of money, you can directly help people who need help. Buy wheelchairs, prosthetics, medicine, etc. for people who need them. If you have a lot of money, you can hire people who need a job to do something they can do (and write it off on your taxes). These kinds of things need to be done, by people who have that kind of money.

But, statistically speaking, you don't have that kind of money.

There are other useful things you can do. You can drive courteously. You can open doors for people whose hands are full. You can donate to crowdfunding projects. You can attend a church or social function that you sort-of believe in and encourage the others there to do what they can believe in.

Maybe you can't pass a miracle and cause someone in a wheelchair to suddenly not need the wheelchair any more. Maybe you can't give a person a job. Maybe you can't solve all the social problems in the world and win the wars against poverty, crime, bad health, etc.

But you can smile and say hello to that person in the wheelchair, so his life is a little less painful.

It's like sand on the beach. Little things make the world better.

If the little things don't get done, there's no beach.

If you vote, that tells the people who get elected that someone cares who gets elected.

If you follow up your vote by contacting the elected officials and telling them the good things they are doing, it helps them listen when you have to ask them to change something they are doing.

If you helped elect them, they may feel some duty towards you.

If you didn't, they will likely still want to see if there isn't a way to satisfy you, in the hopes that you'll vote for them next time.

If they are honest public servants and don't care whether you vote for them next time or not, they especially need to hear your opinions. Otherwise they make lose their desire to be public servants, and start giving in to the lobbies.

And while you are talking with them, they may think of something you can do, to help avoid making more laws and raising the taxes that more laws always generate.

Voting doesn't really end at the ballot box.

And that is why it is important to vote.

[JMR201610281721: Expanded a bit more on this here: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/10/why-vote-what-does-vote-mean.html.]

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Course Corrections #2, A Proposed Amendment correcting the National Revenue Processes

Much has been said about the process in which the 16th amendment became law.

It's a polarized debate, and it doesn't help to re-hash the various accounts and points of view defended. It's time to quit arguing with the ratification and start looking at the effects.

Mind you, we all agree how horrible the prohibition amendment was (without looking too carefully at what the repealing amendment allowed).

Isn't it time to look at the internal revenue amendment with the same critical eye, but being careful not to allow something worse in its repeal this time?

In case someone reading this does not understand the complaint, what is the current biggest problem in the United States of America, in one word and in two?

Big.

Big Government.

The government institutions at the national level are several orders of magnitude too big. Without the computer to help the wheels turn, it would have long since imploded of its own mass.

If you agree, I don't need to support that assertion, and if you don't, well, take a listen to my suggestions anyway. Turning a deaf ear won't help.

What enables the excesses of the national government is the 16th amendment. Without that, the national government would be beholden to the States, and the States would be a bit more answerable to the people.

But, NOOOOO!!! you say. Without the national government being able to directly tax people's incomes, look at all the important things that wouldn't be getting done!

We have to sometime admit that maybe there are better ways than requiring the national government to be everybody's sugar daddy.

One argument: the eleventh and twelfth amendments. What was the purpose of having those, if they weren't intended to reserve to the States and the People, the rights and responsibilities not specifically given to the national government in the Constitution?

And if the Constitution is short, how can such a properly restricted government get big?

So, what is the solution I would have proposed?

Even without the 16th amendment, a capitation or direct tax may be laid in proportion to the census.

PANIC!!!! GRAB THE CLUE BAT!!!!
HEAD TAX NEVER WORKED!!!!

Oh, really?

Just because the States were recalcitrant, does that mean we have to so thoroughly undermine the structure set out in the Constitution?

Yes. The 16h amendment is a direct attack on the structure of a union of republican governments that was supposed to be the national government. (Look one more time at Article 4 Section 4.)

It basically gives the national government the clout to sidestep the States where individuals could make their voices heard. That is why all the lobbyists gravitate to Washington D. C.

That is why the District of Columbia now looks more like an imperial court than representatives of a free people trying to help each other out.

So, what we needed instead was teeth in a levy on the States -- some means of requiring recalcitrant States to pay their share of a reasonable national debt. (Given that some people define reasonable as "meets my approval", perhaps I should say, "... even a slightly unreasonable national debt.)

Let me see if I can propose an amendment that would allow us to turn back the clock and try the other path, where the national government is allowed to enforce a levy against the States.

(I don't like this approach. I personally lean to the idea of resorting to patience and persuasion instead of force, but foreign governments and people who don't know how to be free can't understand that.)

This one needs a lot more work, but I would like to propose an amendment something like what follows --


An amendment to return the revenue responsibilities to the States.

Section 1:

The United States shall not have power to tax individual citizens or recognized residents in any direct manner. No taxation may be made without recognizing the citizenship or residence of individuals.

The United States shall have power to tax corporations which operate in more than one state on interstate commerce activities according as Congress directs, subject to Constitutional limits and requirements.

Section 2:

The several States shall have power to tax individual citizens and recognized residents in a direct manner, as determined by the law of each State, in keeping with the limits and requirements of the Constitution of the United States and each State's own Constitution. No taxation may be made by the states without recognizing the citizenship or residence of individuals.

The several States shall have power to tax corporations which operate within their boundaries, as their legislatures direct by law, subject to the limits and requirements of their own Constitutions and the Constitution of the United States.

The States may delegate their power to tax individuals and corporations to counties, parishes, or cities, towns, etc.

In no case shall a citizen or resident of any State be required to pay taxes or report income or property to any State in which they do not reside.

Section 3:

This amendment shall come into force upon the third year from ratification, or upon proper transition of taxation functions to the individual States as directed by Congress.

Until it comes into force, the 16th amendment shall remain in effect.

Once this amendment is in force, the 16th amendment shall become null and void.

Section 4:

Upon ratification of this amendment, Congress shall direct the dismantling of all national or federal functions which can not be legally and fiscally maintained by the government of the United States under the provisions herein.

As necessary, Congress shall direct the individual States to assume the operation and financing of the same, or the cessation thereof in a legal and fair manner.

Section 5:

No quasi-national or federal government operation, institution, or other entity with government authority shall be recognized by the United States or by any of the several States, except as Congress or the legislatures of the several States shall direct by law.

In no case shall such an operation, institution, or entity be allowed to operate in any manner in contradiction to the Constitution of the United States or of the several States.

The Congress of the United States and the legislatures of the several States shall periodically review the such operations, institutions or entities in their function and effects. In no case shall the period between such reviews exceed five years.

When grievances arise and cannot be addressed and resolved concerning these operations, institutions, and other entities, Congress shall review the laws concerning the same and make appropriate changes.

Nothing in Section 5 shall be construed to effect private non-government operations, institutions, or entities. In particular, this section shall not be used to abridge the separation between church and state.



Sunday, July 24, 2016

What a Government Should Do

Still thinking about a recent post on what people are calling "rape culture" (http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/07/treating-sexual-relations-too-lightly.html) while I try to finish my first novel (http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2016/06/econ101-novel-toc.html.) Also, still thinking about "Brexit"(http://joel-for-president.blogspot.com/2016/06/eu-ukexit-what-why.html.)

When the US Constitution was put together, the legislatures were only supposed to meet for three months out of the year.

Too many people seem to think that was just because the country was too small to need full-time legislation.

It's true that the US was rather small at the time, but that is irrelevant. Has nothing to do with the reason for the short legislative season.

Governments should not be in the business of making laws all the time.

Let me repeat that, in bold:

 People should not be paid to tell other people what to do.

The only valid excuse for the existence of institutional government is to be an extension of the people's will to govern themselves. That is not people telling other people what to do, that is people telling themselves what to do. And doing it.

The tendency to tell others what to do has long been understood (Read C. S. Lewis, et. al.) as a false coping mechanism which people who don't exercise self control resort to.

False coping mechanism.

In other words, method of salving a singed conscience.
Since I can't expect myself to do the right thing, I must MAKE everyone else do The Right Thing! (whatever that is).
Making laws does not fix the problems inside yourself.

Also, making laws at best covers over the general social symptoms.

The only way to solve problems is to get people to look inside themselves and do what they ought to do. Each case is different. There is no way a law can be made to cover each case.

Unfortunately, we are not in the habit of having Congress pass bills of advice. Perhaps that would be better than passing so many bills of law, except that many people would refuse to see a difference between "official advice" and law.

And advice is really more the domain of religion.

(This is why it is so difficult to untangle government and religion. And if you can follow my rantings to this point, it's clear that complex law is the biggest reason religion should be kept out of government.)

So, what should government do?

Governments should do as little as possible, and encourage the people to do the real work themselves.

Get your own insurance.

Work your own job.

Form your own opinions.

Buy your own food.

Solve your own health issues by understanding your own body.

Etc.

I'd say, "Do it yourself." But that phrase has been turned into trite tripe by people selling you ways to "do it yourself" their way.

When you see someone who needs help, see if you or someone you know can help him or her first, before you go to the local welfare office. A meal now, a job later, so many things we can do without turning to the institutional solutions that are at best 20% effective.

Governments should do as little as possible, and encourage the people to do the real work themselves, and then get out of the way.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Build a Wall? -- Or Tear Walls Down?

This "build a wall" meme seems to be producing results.

Plastic Jesus's wall around the Donald's Hollywood star is a bright spot.

I was shining it all on, but the meme has entered the Japanese press. My wife was commenting on it while reading the Yomiuri Shinbun. And I looked it up to see how serious people are about it.

The Donald seems to be treating it seriously. I say "seems", because his whole campaign is at best a joke gone awry. (Either that or my assertion of Democrat Complicity is dead-on target. Probably both.)

Anyway, I looked up "wall around US" on the web, and found this url:
https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/pay-for-the-wall
(No I'm not making that into a link. If you want to go there, plug it into your browser yourself.)

But, if you play with the url, you find that the link
https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/
seems to be a cgi or other active web page that pushes you through a capcha and insists that you must be supporting the Donald if you are visiting it.

If you are really adventurous, or just curious, try
https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/stuff_yourself
It goes through the same "Thank you for your support!" page with the capcha check, although it naturally 404s out if you click the capcha.

Don't bother. I'm sure he'll never publish the number of clicks on sub-urls that insult him or question his politics.

He's a decoy, a 'bot. You can't talk to him.

If you elect him president, there may be a human in there somewhere. I don't want to find out.

Vote the third party candidate of your choice and let the party-hardy boys know they've jumped the shark.

Hmmm. There is the possibility that he is actually deliberately saying stupid things to get the people of the US to start questioning the factory-farmed politics that we are being fed. If he really is deliberately trying to provoke well thought-out conversation, I'd like to hear him say so before the election.

While reading some of the punditry (It's hard to think of a job I'd hate worse.), I wandered onto the news about Qandeel Baloch. "Honor killing." Her brother, out of the shame that he thought she brought on his family (meaning, on him, himself, I'm guessing) brought further shame on both himself and his family by trying to get rid of the problem through an act of deliberate, planned out homicide.

Hopefully, he'll figure out just what he let his pride, and his slavish acceptance of dogma, cost him.

Family should be family. Maybe you can't support what they do or say. But you love them anyway, because they are family.

If you love your sister, you set a good example for her.

Instead of letting your buddies bully you into violence against her because she has gone too far, you stand up to them. Tell them that what they are saying is as much against the scripture as anything she is doing, and if she deserves silencing, so do they.

And if they don't, neither did she.

Why do I wander off to the subject of "honor killing"?

It's the same kind of mentality as that which seriously considers building a wall between Mexico and the US as an attempt to fix the problems that everyone says is coming from across the border.

The problem is not that women want a voice in Pakistan. It is that too many men in Pakistan are willing to buy the cheap religion substitute of painted-over intolerance.

Here is what that false Islam preaches:
  • Don't change yourself!
  • It's too hard to be a better person, yourself! 
  • Force the non-conformists to change, even your own family!
  • If you can't get them to quit making your feel embarrassed about your own imperfections, get rid of them!
  • They are the problem, not you! 
Here is what the false protectionism preaches:
  • Don't change yourself!
  • It's too hard to be a better person, yourself! 
  • Force the non-conformists to change, even your own family!
  • If you can't get them to quit making your feel embarrassed about your own imperfections, get rid of them!
  • They are the problem, not you! 
Here is what the true Islam preaches:
  • Change yourself! (This is the real Jihad: change others by changing yourself first.)
  • It's not too hard to be a better person, yourself. In fact, life is better when you try to be a better person, yourself!
  • Learn not to conform to false norms. Celebrate what is special about you and your family!
  • Choose not to feel embarrassed when idiots make fun about what is special about you and your family. And love your idiot friends, anyway! (Okay, loving your idiot friends can be moderately difficult when they are trying to get you to get rid of what is special about you and your family. But it's better than hating them, in the end. Love doesn't mean going along with what they say.)
  • Everyone has problems! Let's help each other instead of fighting each other!
Is there a true protectionism?

Well, that false protectionism that says "Build the wall!" does not protect anything. If you want to protect the "good" life you have, they only way is to share it. Sharing it rejuvenates the value of things. Turning stingy makes the value evaporate.

If you want the drugs, violence, and sexual immorality to go away, help make a world in which fewer people feel like they have to resort to drugs, violence, and sexual immorality.

Help make a world where even people south of the border can get a job if they want one, and even people north of the same border can live off the grid if they prefer.

Help make a world in which people can have fun without resorting to artificial stimulants.

Help make a world where people can love and be loved without the love substitute of fake sexuality.

Real happiness helps others be happy. If it doesn't really make you happy, leave it alone.

Tear down the walls. Let's all work together.

Monday, June 27, 2016

EU? UKExit? What? Why?

So, the UK, in a poorly organized demonstration of letting the "people" choose what they know not, chose to leave the EU.

No surprise.

There are lots of people pretending to be surprised. Lots of people using this as an excuse to sell off stock they didn't want. Lots of people getting excited about a new opportunity to say, "Oh NOOOOO! WHAT WE GONNA DO NOW!" and invent new ways to control what other people do.

Put n people in a room and tell them they have the responsibility to make rules, and they will happily make lots and lots of rules. Something like
number of rules == (2n+2)2n+2(t) 
where n is any number of people greater than 0, and t is time.

The one thing they almost never do is think of a reason to quit making rules.

The EU, for its first five years of existence, was not that poorly behaved.

But they kept realizing they didn't have enough power to do something important. And they kept making new rules to give themselves that power. And suddenly there are a lot of people in the EU legislatures who are not properly elected by the people they represent, making lots and lots of rules.

And those rules effect everyone's day-to-day activities.

And those rules, as they multiply and fill the rule books, make it harder to work and live.

Work? Isn't that what everybody avoids?
It's the work that we avoid
And we're all self-employed
We love to work at nothing all day
("Taking Care of Business", Randy Bachman/BTO.)
We all want to work, but we also all seem to want to call what the other guy does for work "nothing". All day.

I'm not going to psychoanalyze the human race today, but you know what I mean.

Because the other guy doesn't do what I want him or her to do, I have to make rules. If there is a new place to make rules, great! Let's go make rules there.

(System engineering is a very seductive line of work in this way, but that's a rant for another day.)

(The seduction in systems engineering lies in the "willingness" of the CPU to try to blindly interpret the rules the engineer makes. Humans are much better behaved, but the CPU is definitely a siren song.)

The EU has been making too many rules. A lot of those rules conflict with the laws and traditions of the UK. The people of the UK feel like they're being shoved between a rock and a hard place.

They want out.

The solution?

Well, one important thing the EU could do is quit following the bad example of the USA lobby/legislation machine.

Slow down. Clean up the laws.

Give ordinary people who don't own huge mansions and big companies and fast cars and jet planes and huge debts room to breathe and work, by removing the rules that constrain them.

If they have to make rules for somebody, make rules to restrict and constrain what the people with the huge mansions and big companies and fast cars and jet planes and huge debts do.

But, no. That's another case of making rules for someone else to follow.

The only rules that have any hope of working are the ones you make for yourself to follow. That should be obvious.

Quit making rules.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Thoughts on Snowden and the Information Industry

Edward Snowden committed a crime.

We know it was a crime because it was against the law.

(So there. Nanner nanner nanner.)

What do you do, when you find yourself working for an organization that is recognized by current law but fundamentally in breach of the founding law, the Constitution of your country?

If you're working for a Microsoft or an Oracle (or Google, any more) or a Monsanto, it's a bit easier to put yourself at a distance from the moral implications of what you do than if you work directly for the government. Maybe you can convince yourself that, in extreme interpretations of the Constitution, everyone is in breach.

Rationalization is easy. That's perhaps why the NSA hires contractors to do their dirty work.

Security is an illusion. I've said that many times before, and I am by no means the first to do so.

But that does not justify selling the illusion, nor does it justify deliberately undermining what little real security can be found in this world.

The NSA is doing both of those things, and lots of people are profiting. Huge boondoggles being financed by the loss of individual freedoms.
 
Someone had to say, as it were, the emperor is deliberately running around in peek-a-boo dresses.

The cynically named "Patriot Act" is a far greater crime than anything Snowden did. I'd go so far as to call it an act of treason, but everyone who says that is still immediately painted in shades of conspiracy theorist by, it seems, just about everyone.

Would I suggest a presidential pardon for Snowden?

Not in the current economical or political climate. Too many people are profiting from that un-Patriot-ic Act. It would be too dangerous to his life.

Putting him on trial would be a possible way of clearing his name, and of fully exposing the boondoggles and treachery being engaged in under the un-Patriot-ic Act -- but only if we could ensure that the trial would be fair, and that his safety could be assured during the trial.

So that would be too dangerous to all parties. Which is why they leave him where he is. For now, it's safest for everyone.

Who are the real villains in this story?

Bush, for the presidential directives that exceeded the Constitution?

Congress, for the Act that gave it the imprimatur of apparent legality?

Obama for failing to veto the continuance of that treacherous Act?

Or the bureaucrats who went ahead and implemented the anti-Constitutional parts?

I lean more towards the latter, myself. They are the ones who should be putting the brakes on, shoving reports of the problems up the line of command to the president and Congress, so that they have reason to tell the lobbyists to crawl back where they came from.

Oh. And the lobbyists, too. Definite treachery in that crowd.

What to do?

Again, it's back to you and me and our day-to-day choices. How much are we willing to pay for the illusions of success, etc.?

When are we going to wake up to the smell of the brew that is poisoning our system, that is causing the very violence that the sellers of security claim they want to protect us from, etc.?

It probably won't be a disaster to have either Trump or Clinton in the Whitehouse next, but you could register your disapproval by voting for a third-party candidate, instead.

Don't bother boycotting and demonstrating against the Monsantos and Microsofts, just quit buying what they sell. And if your bank is too big, try to find a smaller one, even if it's less convenient. Etc.

Make the inconvenient choices away from the big, easy money. It's that big, easy money that is funding both sides of the war that we are caught in the middle of.

It's up to you.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Yes! We Must Vilify Trump Now!!!!

(In case I am misunderstood, the title is tongue-in-cheek. No. Vilification is not a solution.)

So, the Democrats have worked really hard to get Trump into the Republican campaign so that Mrs. Clinton would look good in comparison, as I talked about in a couple of previous blogs:
And, as I thought, the Democrats are surprised that they cannot control the monster they created.

When you read the news, with Trump's not-so-palatable financial dealings getting plastered all over everything, think about the fact that it was mostly crossover voting in the primaries which pushed him so far ahead so fast, and made the clown look legitimate in the first place. This news is not so new at all.

Look at yourself in the mirror.

Were you fooled?

Did you campaign for someone better?

Are you involved at all?

Freedom has its costs: http://joel-for-president.blogspot.jp/2016/03/absolute-freedom-and-campaign-promises.html

Are you willing to pay the price?

No?

That's okay. As has been said before, "the office" has a tendency to "make the man". Or woman, as the case may be. Maybe Trump or whichever of the two Democratic candidates remaining standing will "grow into the office".

I don't think the number of Americans who choose evil over good on a daily basis has come close enough to the halfway point to destroy the Great Experiment in freedom (not democracy!) just yet. (I could be wrong, but I don't think so. Not yet. I was really frustrated and depressed that day. Thinking about FBAR still gets me pretty negative pretty fast, though. The Feds used to keep their hands out of other countries' taxes.)

Don't forget, democracy is a red herring. We are ultimately free. We get what we choose, in the end. No government ever lasted long that contradicted too far the will of the people it tried to govern, but that is also a side issue.

The experiment was not an experiment in democracy. It was in whether we could stand to be governed by a government that recognized our freedom and tried to help us to be free.

Which is basically saying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Your faith remains alive in your heart, as long as you keep believing.

It's going to be a difficult four years. Keep the faith.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

So, the Democrats' Trump Card Is Now on the Table

Well, I wonder, over here on the other side of the Pacific, what the next four years will be like.

I will not vote for Trump. I explained why in my earlier post: http://joel-for-president.blogspot.jp/2016/03/the-democrats-trump-card-in-2016_16.html.

My wife suggests that the US find somebody on welfare to designate as president. I vaguely remember an SF/F short story that went that way.

She also says Trump has a way with words that contradicts his gender. Hmm.

But, no, I won't vote for Hillary Clinton, either, not even for the warm fuzzies of having a woman president. She is not the right woman for the first woman to be in the office. We need a woman who not only understands power like Hillary does, but is also dedicated to overthrowing it like a guy named Moroni was some 2100 or so years ago.

The office makes the man -- neutral gender "man", here, okay? Whether hillary Clinton or The Donald Trump, Americans will not allow the next president to stray too far from the role of president. But the president also colors the office for the next generation, and neither Hillary nor Trump really understands what freedom is all about. And that means that the number of Americans who fail to understand will increase. Bring the great experiment in freedom a few decades closer to the inevitability of entropy.

If I could make clear claims to residency in the US for the last seventeen years, I think I'd join the ranks of declared non-party candidates. But the ruling party duopoly has rigged the rules around that, so I suppose it wouldn't do any good.

Maybe it's time to put the party system aside completely. Just ban political parties entirely for eight years.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What Should Be Done about Puerto Rico's Debt?

Puerto Rico's debt (http://joel-for-president.blogspot.jp/2016/03/debt-crisis-in-puerto-rico_16.html) provides an opportunity for looking at the concept of division of responsibility.

The President of the USA cannot, by fiat, do much about it. That would be a lot of power. The Constitution specifically gets in the way of fiat powers, to keep the President from abusing power.

Presidents do, you know, abuse power. So do Congresscritters. All politicians end up doing things they shouldn't, and the average politician will tend to try to gain power, assuming that he has to have power to do good. So, even though your heart is bleeding for this cause or that, you have to be patient and let the processes work by the rules.

Otherwise, politicians welcome every crisis as a way to expand their powers, as they think.

And, once they have new powers to do good things, somebody comes along with deals they can't refuse, hiding bad stuff behind good.

We have to regularly remind ourselves of these facts.

As I mentioned in the previous rant, President Obama has requested Congress to act on Puerto Rico's application for statehood. Congress has not acted.

Well, they seem to have acted half-heartedly.

The Huffington Post is not my favorite news source, but they have a few articles on the subject showing some of the arguments that people are having: (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/puerto-rico-statehood/).

Another example of the boondoggling going on is this post on the radical pro-English site/ (https://www.proenglish.org/projects/puerto-rican-statehood.html).

You can find more through your favorite search engine: "Puerto Rico application for statehood", etc.

Language is not a problem. Contrary to certain idealists' assertions, the USA does not have a national language. If we were to choose a national language, right now, the reality is that we would have to choose English and Spanish both. Too many residents of the mainland do not speak English well enough. We already provide services in both, and the necessity of that in Puerto Rico has nothing to do with statehood.

Citizenship is not a problem. The USA already recognizes dual citizenship in practice. If Puerto Rico goes fully independent, Puerto Ricans before that date could claim dual citizenship and after that date would be only Puerto Ricans unless born to US citizens (most of them). In the latter case they could claim both still when they get old enough, etc. It would keep the US Consulate there in business for quite a while, I'd say, registering foreign births.

Tax has to be made a non-problem, but that is a subject for a different rant. The "Federal" income tax is, indeed, tightly bound to the causes of most of the current ills of US society and government. When we solve that, the solution for the Puerto Ricans should naturally be part of the general solution, and if it isn't, we should talk about charging someone with treason.

Until the national problem with internal revenue is solved, Puerto Rico should be required to implement a territory-run equivalent of a state income tax, from which they can pay an assessment to the national government. Taxes, they must pay, as long as they are part of the current USA. How they implement those taxes should be their own choosing, within the constraints of the Constitution.

(This is the fundamental nature of the solution to the national budget problems, by the way -- Amendment 16 was an exercise in treachery. Income taxes should never be adminstrated higher than state level, and mostly not that high. I'll rant more on that eventually.)

Lots of people in this world are plenty happy to tell others what they should do, and this is no exception. We can't tell them they can do just anything and everything they want, but we have to get our paws off of their decisions.

The problem is specifically that Puerto Rico was allowed, for a long time, special privileges in exchange for yielding their self-determination to the US national govnernment. This is very commonly recognized.

Why this was allowed to proceed for so long is fodder for conspiracy theories. 

Self-determination is precisely the core of this problem.

Not just Puerto Rican self-determination. Those whom we have elected to our government have stood, halt between two opinions, for too long.

Are we going to rally around the flag of freedom and responsibility by relearning to make choices and to accept the consequences of those choices?

Or is this USA, this glorious experiment in a government based on the fact of individual freedom, going to be allowed to go the way of all previous such experiments known to history? Is it going to be allowed to continue to slide into feudalism, ignobility, and tyranny?

Is the God who created this world and put us on it to learn how to act for ourselves and for others God? Or are we going to build to ourselves gods of gold and silver, money, and power, of immediate satisfaction, of incoherent competition, and of trying to control others while we let others decide who and what we are and what we will do?

Are we going to stand up and be men and women? Or are we going to follow the crowd, whatever is popular and "winning", unable to even behave with as much intelligence as a herd of sheep or a pack of coyotes?

If we, the citizens of the USA, won't set the example of responsible free individuals for the residents of our "territories", how do we expect them to understand how to pursue the road of self-government, whether statehood or national independence?

I can't do much here except preach.

But there are people who "own" the Puerto Rican debt, who irresponsibly encouraged them to get further in debt, who somehow believe that having a lot of money under their control makes them "right".

If they really want the problems to be solved, they are going to have to quit lobbying Congress to avoid letting Puerto Rico move ahead. I don't think they want the problems to be solved, because they think that the existence of the problems gives them power. These people seem to want to keep a tight grip on the resources of Puerto Rico, to the point of not letting anyone use them, in the illusion that they thereby have "control".

If I had fiat powers, I'd be more than happy to declare people who claim to own too much of other people's money and resources traitors to the cause of freedom and the Constitution. It's a good thing I don't have fiat powers, and it's a good thing the Constitution disallows fiat powers.

But it is time for somewhat drastic action for Puerto Rico, kept within the bounds of the Constitution, and keeping reasonable paths open for a self-determined path forward for Puerto Rico.

The first step is to explain the options to the Puerto Ricans through the internet and through their media, and to let them decide what they want to do. The plebiscite from four years ago is a little stale now, so they probably need to do it again.

The options in Puerto Rico are
  1. Maintain the status quo, probably letting debt-holders continue to control more and more of their day-to-day living, and probably becoming less and less able to borrow more money or make money, less able to keep Puerto Rico from becoming one large ghetto;
  2. Pursue statehood, under which they will have to write a state Constitution and set up the state government by themselves, which means they need to start working on the legal and social framework themselves;
  3. Pursue national independence, under which they will have to write a better national Constitution and set up a national government by themselves, which means they need to start working on the legal and social framework themselves.

Last time, they were asked to approve or disapprove each path individually. I can't tell if the options were fully explained to the citizens. This time, they should be asked the same, and then be asked to choose one path as their preferred path. And the options should be more carefully explained.

And, while they are organizing the plebiscite, they should start getting to work on the legal and social framework for self-determination. The plebiscite is not supposed to happen ex nihilo and then disappear back to the vacuum. Whether statehood or national independence, it requires leaving dependence behind.

Whatever they have been doing, it hasn't been working. They need to start looking for things they can do now that will work. The US Congress may be able to make the path forward more workable, but they have to walk the path themselves.

And it would be a lot easier for them to see a good example of what to do if the people of the US in general would quit setting the bad example and go back to setting a good example of walking the path of independence and responsibility.

This is where the second step comes. If you know someone who owns part of Puerto Rico's debt, ask them whether they are helping get the debts resolved, or whether they are engaging in petty efforts to control what others are doing.

And this is where the rest of us ordinary individuals can help. Check yourself. Are you setting a good example of what Puerto Ricans should do as they pursue independence either as a state or as an independent nation?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Debt Crisis in Puerto Rico

While I was catching up on the primaries the other day, I noticed an article about the debt crisis in Puerto Rico. See the following:
Puerto Rico (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Rico) currently has a population larger than 21 of the states of the US, including Utah and Hawaii: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

For a long time, they enjoyed special low taxes as a commonwealth of the US (one of a very few). They thought that was great. That couldn't last, of course, and they have not been able to find ways to balance the budget since those low taxes ended.

A big part of the problem is that the government is in a kind of limbo. It's not a state, it's not an independent country. It's a territory, with some special provisions that they can't figure out how to work around.

In 2012, they held a vote: become a state or ask for independence. The result was more than 60% was okay with statehood, and more than 50% was okay with becoming an independent country. 75% of the people voted, apparently.

Then they submitted a request to the US Congress to start the processes to give them statehood: http://www.puertoricoreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2012-concurrent-resolution.pdf

It's four years later, now. What has Congress been doing since then? Surely, in between meddling in other countries fighting war on war terrified people terrorism, trying to push the TPP (http://joel-for-president.blogspot.jp/2015/08/the-eloctronic-freedom-foundation-is.html) and other ill-considered international "agreements" (http://joel-for-president.blogspot.jp/2014/08/course-corrections-1-proposed-amendment.html) through, and infighting between factions in the government, we could get Congress to act on this?

(I'm not sure why they would want to become a state now. Maybe we should require another vote, between statehood in this moribund political warzone we've become and full independence.)

Is Congress so willing to let an entire territory of the US become a population 3.4 million ghetto because they are hamstrung by their legal status as a territory?

What is the hold-up? Is it that so few speak English and so many speak Spanish and Congress isn't willing to let them be an independent country?

Shooting from the hip, if the US Congress is not willing, for whatever reason, to accept Puerto Rico as a proper state in the Union, we must ask them to become an Independent country and suggest, if they later still want to become a US state, to apply as an independent country.

Otherwise, we will continue to be the biggest contributor to the worsening conditions there.


The Democrats' Trump Card in 2016

Back last fall, I considered the possibility that Donald Trump's campaign were being instrumented by Democrats.

In fact, looking at the field, I was wondering who (http://reiisi.blogspot.jp/2011/10/conspiracy-theories.html) might have organized it so that I might have to seriously consider voting for the former president's wife.

Nothing against women in general or Hillary in person, but she is not the woman I want to fulfill, in the literal sense for the US, the prophecy in Isaiah 3: 12.

Mind you, the problem is not the gender. And the prophecy is already being fulfilled in the allegorical sense that matters: that people should be seeing gender relationship as warfare.

Sorry, guys, when we insist on making it a fight, we're going to lose.

Not that women really win. Nobody really wins the battle between the sexes. But when we insist on making it a battle, women may lose the battles, but they end up being in charge of everything. Whether they are the power behind the throne or the occupants of the throne, they end up controlling things. That's what the prophecy is all about.

And that is bad. We need balance. We need everyone to participate as equals, regardless of gender or other personal traits.

Fighting is the wrong thing to do.

Frankly, if it's between Trump and Hillary, I'm most likely voting for Hillary. Trump is a loose cannon.

And, this is where he is fooling everybody: Trump is just as much old guard as anyone else in the field. More so in many ways.

The old guard is all about money. Getting lots of money and "doing stuf with it".

Trump doesn't have a lot (relatively speaking) of money of his own. What he has is money he gets people to give or lend him. What he does with it is sell what he thinks people are buying.  (And, frankly, his record there is pretty mixed. He has not demonstrated that he knows how to get out of debt in any other way than to find something new to sell. I don't think he understands generating real value (http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.jp/2013/07/where-does-value-come-from.html).)

He just happened to tap into the frustrations, and he is selling the obvious political salve now. Salve is at best a temporary measure. Salves quit working if you don't fix the underlying problems.

His brand of salve is pretty caustic, too. Wall around the US? We were celebrating the fall of the Wall in Berlin just a few years ago. 

If you look at what he has been selling as an entrepeneur, you have an idea what he will sell when the salve no longer works. He is old guard at it's worst.

If you think you want to elect someone who knows how to use money, look at Bill Gates. And then ask yourself why you want to elect someone who knows how to manipulate people, facts, and markets like that. Charisma has its limits.

Back to the topic of manipulating the primaries.

At the time, I was thinking of such a tactic as mostly a propaganda move. Poison the well. Paint the whole party black by association with Trump.

But I also thought about the possibility of an attempt to divide and subvert the opponents by orchestrating mass "defections" from one's own party to support a non-viable candidate, and otherwise reduce the effective influence of the other party. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_voting)

It has happened before, in local elections. And the influence of party line crossing in "key" voting districts in past presidential elections has also been the subject of political analyses.

I've read a number of news articles recently that say the exit polls indicate a lot of crossover voting -- voters in Republican primaries claiming to be erstwhile Democrats who are voting for Trump as a Republican candidate "because they really want a change". (https://newrepublic.com/article/127442/explains-trump-sanders-crossover-vote)

Who organized this mass crossing of lines?

How can we avoid this kind of party crashing?

Who drew the lines in the first place? There is a problem here. Actually, the lines are a political weapon, used to divide a people against itself. But this problem also demonstrates one of the serious weaknesses of the two party system as it presently exists. If Republicans were thinking in terms of warfare, it would be time to go vote in the Democratic primaries for Sanders.

Start crashing their party.

In many cases, you can go back and vote in the Republican primary, too.

Wow. It's not really a problem if both parties allow crossing the lines. Unless you think that giving the people the power to turn the incumbents out is a problem.

I'm thinking it may be a good way to help really ensure a decent turnover in government.

This sword has two edges. Still wielding a sword is like wielding an axe. It's a dangerous business. We want to be careful where and who we cut, and we need to remember that every stroke has a possibility of being turned against us.

This is one fact about war that every individual hungering for a rumble should remember: Swords regularly injure the wielder thereof. You will not cut just the enemy. You will cut yourself and people you care about.

Now, as for the ultimate possibility of Trump getting elected, let's open our eyes and take a long view.

First, Hillary -- Eight years ago, she would have been a disaster as president. At least, at first. She has gained a lot of experience since then, and it's evident that she is no longer the idealist that would have initially wrought havoc in the White House.

Next, Sanders -- Yes, he could still cause some serious problems in the White House until he learns the ropes, learns the limits of the office, and the limits of political power. As long as he remains a political socialist, he will be liable to make a mess of things. But he is definitely showing more understanding of political realities as his campaign continues.

Cruz? -- No. He is not showing evidence that he even wants to understand the underlying issues. Not yet.

Rubio? -- The media portrays him as SO YOUNG! He's the same age as Cruz, and his faith in human nature which the media has played as naivity and weakness is something I want in a president. And he has a good record in Florida, shows flexibility, shows an ability to bring people together, and shows tenacity for issues he understands to be important. He was the most dangerous to the old guard.

I liked Rubio the best of the candidates in the two major parties, but now he has dropped out. I don't understand why he's endorsing Trump. Maybe that's more media misinterpretation.

Kasich? -- Initially, he seemed too removed from the political processes to survive the current political climate, but he is showing more ability to articulate his case. His record is good, and his politics are sound. I could vote for a Kasich - Rubio ticket.

The major party candidates have "grown" in a way since last fall. Even Cruz, really. Last fall, the media was able to portray Hillary as the only serious candidate. Now we have more serious candidates.

Looking at the minor party candidates, I'm sort of interested in Gary Johnson. His record indicates the sort of competence the office requires these days and the sort of idealism and leadership that could be effective in the major course corrections coming up.

Last fall, I was thinking it was about time for a minor party candidate to be elected. I'm not sure I've changed my mind.

They say the office makes the man, and it's true. Every candidate, including Trump, would likely be able to grown into the presidency. Trump, as he is now, would do some significant damage in the process.

Damage in terms of helping upset the status quo is not necessary a bad thing. The damage I'm worried about is what Trump thinks he understands about the Constitution, and the bad precedents he could set while fixing his understanding. I have similar concerns about Cruz, Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, but the concerns are not as deep. Less concerns about Hillary than eight and four years ago.

I don't really think Trump's candidacy is a direct product of Democratic conspiracy, but Democrats could have played key parts in getting his candidacy started and in feeding the media frenzy that is helping drive it. Whether the line crossing is part of deliberate efforts to undermine the Republican party or not is not really important. It's a two-edged sword.

Some of those line crossers will actually stay in the Republican party for a while, too, which is also just fine.

If Trump's candidacy were really part of a conspiracy to undermine the Republicans' game plan, I'm going to say now that it won't work that way.

Here's the real reason for the race: to get the citizens thinking in terms of what they as individuals should be doing to solve their own problems and to help solve the problems of the people around them. Who wins is not so important as long as the voice of the people is not muted.

The president is not king for four years. He's just one part of the picture. Congress, the courts, and the people. Four powers to provide checks and balances.

(Yeah, four. Not the three branches of government we used to be taught when I was in the primary grades. Four branches. Sovereignty, the power, comes from the people.)