Saturday, February 28, 2009

In Debt Up to My Eyeballs

Well, it's official now. I am now up to my eyeballs in debt.

I took out a loan for a grand and bought the Nikon D90 (body only) from BH Photo. BH Photo is a camera super shop in NYC which has a stellar reputation.

I also got an SD card and the little external button thingy.

PHOTO TIP: If you want to take crisp pictures, you need the external button thingy as pressing the button on the camera might shake it. If your camera has a rapid picture mode, you can take the picture twice. The second picture will be sharper than the first. I am a wealth of technology knowledge.

I was torn between getting the camera with the 18-105mm or 18-200mm lens kit. I want the second lens. It would have added $700 to the purchase price! Going a grand in debt is enough for me. After agonizing deliberation, I decided to use an old used lens until I save up enough pennies for a new lens.

As mentioned ealier, my business plan is to leech off the creative efforts of others. I simply need enough camera so that it would look like I knew what I was doing, I could then go to the Utah Photo Walking event to pass out business cards and people might link to my Salt Lake Photography directory. I don't need a kickin' lens for that.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is a Puppy Upper the Answer?

Coco's idea for stimulating the economy is for doggies to run out and have litter after litter of puppies. Hungry little puppies ripping up couches and gobbling down kibbles would definately stimulate things.

Puppies are adorable and are politically popular. I would vote for a puppy over any politician in either major political party.

Encouraging the production of puppies to stop the recession sounds politically popular and is just plain tale wagging fun. The stark reality, however, is that pets are generally the first to suffer in a recession.

Often people magnify their poor financial condition by adopting a pet they cannot afford. When a person living on credit adopts a pet, they dramatically worsen their financial condition.

To the point: the notion of stimulating the economy by having puppies is an idea. It's more than an idea. It is a cute idea ... the most dangerous kind.

A complex of ideas is called an ideology. The ideology includes both the ideas and overall framework of ideas. It is absurd to pretend that ideas are just floating out their independent of the framework in which they exist.

In order for us to make the right decisions we need to be able to talk about ideas and ideology.

Unfortunately, about a century ago a guy named John Dewey (1859-1952) realized that Americans weren't latching onto the new think methods of Hegel and Marx. He lighted on the paradoxical idea of introducing material dialectics as a non-ideology.

The media (weaned on thoughts of Dewey, Chomsky and other intellectuals of the Marxian tradition) has been pounding the notion that the cause of the world's woes is ideology. The future depends on a system of radical change were there is no public discussion of the ideas behind the change.

Apparently this ideology of non-ideology sounds exciting to many. I simply wish to emphasize that the ideology non-ideology is not new. For that matter, it is the organizing principle behind the American public school and University system.

The ideology of Non-ideology has created this horrible world where the US invades other countries without having a clear idea on what it hopes to accomplish.

On realizing our mistake, the majority of Americans were willing to leave Iraq to Vietnam style genocide.

Our financial wizards fell head over heals for absurd schemes like credit default swaps, hedgefunds, short selling, and government backed re-insurance ... all of which are guaratanteed to create systemic faults in the economy.

The ideology of non-ideology has been the central organizing principle in our political life for over a half century.

I contend that our failure to have a cohesive ideology of freedom might lead to a a surrending of our freedom.

What we have right now is an image driven politics where corrupt parties compete on which party is best at projecting blame on their opponents. Politicians then line up to project success on their friends.

This image driven politics that is cultivated in our schools and perpetuated in the press systematically leads to the worst decisions.

Coco's idea that puppies would stimulate the economy is an adorable, furry, big-eyed, puppy-dog cute idea.

A basket of happy puppies is a joyous image.

There is even merit to the idea that an explosion in the puppy population would get people spending as they will need to replace things destroyed by the puppies. People would also borrow and spend like mad to feed the puppies.

Unfortunately, as puppies are high maintenance luxury good, the puppy boom idea is likely to lead to thousands of poor starving puppies and heartbroken humans who can't feed them.

My gut feeling is that the puppy explosion will further weeken the economy.

Unfortunately, my arguing for the spaying and neutering of dogs sets things up so Keith-Olberman-style thugs can portray me as a puppy hater.

Can you imagine anything else in the world than a puppy hater.

Look what they did to Michael Vicks!

If he had done something benign like staturory rape, then he could make a media frenzy comeback. Being a puppy hater means end of career.

BTW: Were we, as a people allowed to discuss ideas, I suspect that we would realize that the government is not really the best place to determine the quota of puppies and that the humane approach to the issue is to promote responsible pet ownership.

A conversation might lead to the conclusion that, in the current economic slowdown, people should follow the evil conservative advice and be extremely aggressive in checking pet population.

Anyway, with the 2008 election, Americans voted for a change. They voted for the image driven candidate. I hope that someday Americans realize that most of our problems are a result of the image-driven non-ideology ideology that comes from the education system.

Until then, I guess I must wear the brand of puppy hater for advocating the fixing of pets.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Widget Dex

© leeches in streamIn my ongoing to leech off the creative efforts of others, I added an index of widgets used in the CommunityColor sites. A widget is a piece of code designed and hosted by one site for display on others. YouTube objects are a great example of a widget.

The dangers of widgets are that the site providing the widget might go dark (leaving a hole in your web site). Even worse, some widget providers have turned to the dark side of the Net. Their widget is a bait and switch. The Widget provides a wonderful service in its bait days, then starts auto intalling parasiteware or other nasties in the switch phase. Imagine if YouTube were to go to the dark side!

This problem of trust has stunted the development of widgets.

To create a vibrant widget market, one would need to create tools for webmasters so that they could track and quickly remove all of the widgets on their site. I might write such a program. For now, I thought I would start simply by indexing the widgets I use. The primary purpose of the index is to let me know where I put the widgets. Eventually it might serve as an index of widgets for a community, which in turn might provide a market for local media creators.

BTW, if you are from the mountain west and have a widget on your site, you can contact me or leave a reply with a link to your widget. I might include it.

Right now I am just wiggling around in the stream waiting for the chance to sink my little teeth into the creative talents of others. Some widgets are rich and juicy, like the Amazon Deal Widget shows these lightening deals. I get a pile of pennies if people snap at Amazon's bait.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Borrowing and Spending

I am a bit worried that Obama and other leaders have a rather shallow understanding of the way the economy works. The understanding seems to be that a person has a job. Based on the salary of this job, the person borrows money, then spends it on consumer goods which, in turns creates other jobs.

Sometimes evil people have jobs where they make significantly more than other people's jobs. When this happens, the excessively paid greedy person needs to be taxed to the point that their salary falls back in line with the other salaries.

In this view of the economy the private sector of the economy.

In Obama-nomics it appears that the only entity that ever actually invests is the government. Almost all government spending is framed as an investment.

IMHO, this economic view does not do an adequate job of explaining the origins of wealth and prosperity. In light of all the rot in our nation's banks, I believe that this view of the economy as a cycle of interest bearing loans pitted against fixed wage jobs is inherently instable.

What happens when prices change?

I learned a new word today. Apparently the intelligentsia has started using the word Marxian for the large nexus of ideas formed around the writings of Marx. The vast majority of professors and teachers in the public education complex are Marxian.

The problem with Marxism, of course, is that Marxism is an ideology. In contrast Marxian simply refers socio-economic theories adhering to the ideas of Marx.

Obama's view of economics seems to be Marxian in origin. This view of the job being the primary source of economic wealth flows from the strong emphasis put on the theory of labor that we find in Marxian thought. The de-emphasis of private investing in lieu of government ownership of production is also central to Marxian thought.

I was distraught during the election. Obama's 2008 Change Campaign was an all but verbatim repeat of Mao's Cultural Revolution, but I was at a complete loss for the word to describe what he was doing.

The current talking point is that Marxism was bad because it was an ideology. I am happy to have discovered the word "Marxian" because I will be able to talk about why the very ideas (an not just the ideology) is dunderheaded.

BTW, while I don't like Obama's Marxian approach to economics, I do love the United States. The president is saying that we must borrow and spend to get us out of this crisis caused by borrowing and spending. So I went out yesterday and established a new line of credit that I will use to buy a new camera. If I buy the camera, it will be the first time that I borrowed and spent since college (well, other than basic credit card usage...paid off each month).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Thought Experiment Based on a Loose Theory

In my last post I attempted to draw a theoretical distinction between strength defined as an internal attribute of a person opposed to strength defined as power over others.

When strength is defined as an attribute of an individual, one realizes that they can strengthen the whole by strengthening the individual. For example, one might conclude that expanding educational opportunities to as many as possible will strengthen society.

When strength is defined as power over others, people are apt to be ruled by petty jealousies and might be inclined to deny others access to resources simply to maintain their relative position. This type of thinking sets up society as a zero sum game.

I made this theoretical distinction because I feel it might apply to other theories such as Libertarianism.

A naïve view of Libertarianism is that Libertarians see the state as evil and the market as good. Libertarianism proper is far more developed than its caricature; however, public debate tends to center on caricatures.

The distinction I was trying to draw might serve as a starting point in examining why free enterprise often has better results than statism. Many of the systems that argue for greater state control seem to be premised on a view that power is relative and there must be a massive state infrastructure to regulate people's relative power. Free marketeers tend to toward the view that strength (and various forms of well being) are attributes of the individual, and that as the individuals improve, society as a whole improves.

With the distinction drawn, we can do a quick thought experiment to discover that when the state is driven by a belief system that seeks to help develop the people within the system (limited government) then the government effectively increases the wealth of the nation by increases the wealth of the people. Conversely, when a market is overtaken by the negative ideology of domination and submission, the market itself will start working as destructive force.

In the current economic meltdown, we find that our market has been dominated by a large number of extremely power banks, insurance companies and GSEs formed around the premise that they will be so humongous that they effectively play the role of market regulator.

In other words, the mindset is more important than either the center of the structure of power.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Strength Within the Community

Copyright and Photo CreditsA few posts back, I made the observation that strong individuals tend to make a strong community.

The truth of the statement, of course, is contingent on the meaning of the terms.

The statement I made turns on the definition of strength. When strength refers to skills, knowledge, health and moral fiber, one can see a direct link between the strength of the people and the strength of the community.

If c = sum(a, b, c); then c will increase by increasing a, b or c.

As humans evolved from a pack animal, it is likely that we have strong instincts about our place in the pack (social order). Judging from the things I've read and seen, this instinct appears to be extremely strong in certain parts of the academic and political communities.

When one defines strength in terms of power over others, then the equations change and there is a troubling new calculus where a benefit to Peter diminishes the position of Paul.

This calculus is troubling because, as people struggle to gain power of each other, they tend to worsen the lot as a whole. I've been in a number of situations where people spent a horrific amount of time jockeying over relative power while failing to notice that their power plays were diminishing the value as a whole.

When speaking of topics such as strength, wealth and well-being, people are wise to distinguish between intrinsic strengths (those which are cumulative) and relative power. When the education system develops strong character, it augments the wealth and well being of the community. When it concentrates on issues such as social awareness, the system just seems to heighten petty jealousies which are less likely to lead to a betterment of mankind.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Payroll Tax Vacation

In the first half of his administration, the Bush Administration demonstrated effectively that a tax cut can work as a stimulus.

The caveat to such a tax-cut stimulus, though, is that a tax cut needs to be followed (at some point) with spending cuts.

I contend that part of our current economic malaise is that the Bush tax cuts were not followed by spending discipline. The markets know that taxes must rise to pay deficits.

The video below suggests a payroll tax vacation. I contend that such a vacation fails as a stimulus because businesses plan for the future. They know that the tax will return and is likely to return at a higher rate. As such it will retard future investment.

Our poor little government has piled up a massive load of entitlements and non-discretionary spending that the market knows we have all but unsolvable budget problems for the future. A conservative mechanism to stimulating the budget at the moment would be to take steps that reduce future costs or future entitlements.

There is some infrastructure spending which reduces future costs.

Obama did well by claiming that there will be a cut in deficit spending by 2013 (yahoo).

Of course, I think our economy has worn out the effect of all stimulus bills. The wild ride on Wall Street is a sign that our economy is starting to look and behave like a crack addict.

Individuals and Communities

One of my odd observations in life is that when a society (and its education system) concentrates on developing strong individuals, the society ends up with strong communities.

Conversely, efforts that focus on developing the community at the expense of the individual often ends up diminishing the individual people and consequently results in a feeble community with widespread oppression and poverty.

This is not an absolute, but a trend.

I believe that there is merit to my observation because self awareness is endowed at the human level. Humans are self aware. The city is not.

Much of Western history has been defined by Plato's observation that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 5 + 5 = 10. 10 is greater than 5.

This observation plays out in some case. For example a working car has greater economic value than a pile of parts on the garage floor. However, this principle is not true for all objects. For example, were I to drive my car head first into your car, we would find that the sum of our two vehicle (the wreck) is not only worth less than the value of the two cars. It is a net negative value.

There are cases where the part is worth more than the whole. A new motor might be worth more than a rusted out Chevy Vega. Placing the new motor in the rusted out car diminishes the value of the motor.

The mathematics is not linear. There is complex interplay between individuals and their communities; however, concentrating on developing emotionally strong individuals who have strong reasoning skills and sound moral character does wonders in improving society.

It is a shame that the public education system fails to do this.
Abstract Fractals © Michael Shake

Friday, February 20, 2009

Of Policy and Principle

My last post explored the weird interplay between principle and policy while trying to explain why image-driven politicians often create righteous sounding policies that lead to horrific results.

The problem, of course, is that one cannot dictate sound principles. When image driven politics tries to dictate principles, they create a dysfunctional system. The best way to develop sound policy is to have a system where people can engage in discourse.

My last two posts explored dark matters for a reason.

As you see, when Bush decided to engage in the "War on Terrorism" he was faced with several horrible problems. The worst problem was that torture was ubiquitous in the region. Both the Geneva Convention and Christian abhorrence of these practices made developing allies difficult.

The rallying cry of radical Islam is a rejection of "Western Imperialism." Geneva is a Western city. The convention was established during a Western conflict. The International Red Cross (cross as in a Christian symbol) was a driving force of the convention.

I agree with the Geneva Convention. Yet the idea that it is the basis of international law is imperialistic. It can be viewed in the Islamic world as yet another case of Western Christians trying to shove their crosses down the throats of Islam.

It is the principles behind the Geneva convention that count. To get the principles set in place one has to engage in discourse. The self righteous posturing of image driven politicians doesn't hack it.

It was horrible to watch Rumsfeld waxing philosophic about torture, but one cannot have real debate when one simply talks down to their opponents.

What disgusts me is the press. The partisan press seemed to miss the point that the Islamic world is trapped in a barbaric medieval belief system. Instead, they focused their attention entirely on associating negative images on their political opponents.

In reading history, we find a long string of humans doing terrible things to each other. Communist and national socialist movements slaughtered and tortured people by the hundreds of millions (read Death by Government it is that many). They did this in the name of the people. Self righteous rightwing reactionaries are guilty of backhanded brutality in the tens of millions.

The way to solve the problem is to engage it.

In this regards, I think the form of the Bush's aggressive interrogation policy had the form of a policy that would help engage and solve the problem. The form of this policy was that the intelligence had strict rules limiting its interrogation techniques. If ever circumstances warranted, the issue could be elevated to the highest authority and actually considered.

After 9/11, the intelligence community felt that other operations might be in effect. Some of the cases were approved, and some of the cases resulted in intelligence that stopped attacks.

I suspect that the founders of the US, who saw humanity at its best and its worst, would delight in the form described above. The logical tradition of the founders was opposed to absolutes, and the Constitution appears to have given extraordinary powers to the executive to help the nation out of absolutes in times of crisis.

Now, I do not know what evils lurk in the heart of Dick Cheney. The form displayed in the "Bush Torture Regime" was superior to the image driven politician who would fail to support workers in extraordinary circumstances, but would saddle them with accusations in case of failure. It is in these cases where the really horrific abuses start to emerge.

If the news report referenced in the last piece is correct, then more children were beaten in the progressive chicago district (and beaten in ways with longer lasting consequences) than in the Bush/Cheney torture regime.

Beating an Issue to Death

Chicago has one of the most progressive school districts in the nation. They have a curriculum designed by whole politburo of avant-garde thinkers like the bomb-tossing Bill Ayers.

As a progressive district, corporal punishment is not only illegal--The Chicago District School has a zero tolerance policy toward the use of corporal punishment. Policy is that any teacher caught hitting a student will be terminated on the spot regardless of union status.

So, it is not surprising that, when people look behind the façade, they find widespread reports of students being beaten by teachers while the administrators turn a blind eye. (Reference: Painful Lessons by David Savini).

Progressive regimes have had abysmal records with torture. A large number of People Movements and Change Movements have devolved into scenarios of oppression and genocide. The scrap heap of history includes The French Revolution, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hussein, and many more people's movements gone wrong.

Chomsky and other progressive theorists have filled tomes equating conservatism with torture, and have put forth a number of explanations of how torture starts in conservative regimes.

Having grown sick of progressivism, I thought I would yammer about why progressive regimes tend to be rife with beatings.

The populist leaders of progressive regimes are often driven by image politics. The party simply seeks to have purr words associated with their name, and snarl words associated with enemies.
The The UN Study on Violence against Children by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro is odd piece of work. Sergio's key belief is that "[children] have the right to live without
any kind of violence…"

I guess this means that if a boy pulls the tail of a cat, the cat shouldn't claw back at the boy.

I am on the side of the cat.

I met a distraught young girl last year who was stung by a bee. Bee stings are violent and painful. Does the UN dictate mean we should gas the hives?

The report is seeking a universal ban on corporal punishment. It does not bother to define the term. For that matter, report doesn't draw much of a distinction between a slap on the wrist and genital mutilation or child trafficking.

This highly sensational report does little more than provide a long list of the horrible things that happen to children then concludes with a list of social policies the author supports. To eliminate violence against children we must eliminate civilian access to firearms. The state must provide universal health care. The state must prevent income inequality. The state needs a comprehensive reporting mechanism to monitor children and aggressively prosecute people found guilty of hurting a child. People found guilty of "hurting a child" should be denied access to children. (That would mean that if a court found a parent guilty of spanking their kid, the parent should be denied access to their kid.)

The populist leader would make strong public denouncements of wrong doings, such as torture, tax evasion or corporal punishment. They might even launch a witch hunt to nest out any of his enemies that he can saddle with the label.

While the glorious leader pontificates, the people in the trenches must find ways to fulfill the unreal expectations. They quickly resort to whatever shortcuts they can find. Corporal punishment is the quintessential shortcut in education.

The over prescription of Ritalin is another.

People quickly latch on to the fact that the sole concern of the image driven politician is to keep bad associations from his name. One can take the shortcuts so long as the shortcut is not acknowledged. When abuse is acknowledge, one need simply project their actions on the party's enemies.

In Machiavelli's program, the prince would charge his lieutenants with torturing people to maintain control, but then would make a big public display of destroying the lieutenant in the public square when expediency required such actions.

Conservatives and even Libertarians have a strange allegiance to the Aristotelian tradition. The strange tradition essentially says that if society has a problem, then there should be a lot of open debate about the problem.

I do not believe that corporal punishment is effective. I avoid stating the opinion in absolute terms. There are many people who believe it is sometimes necessary. Also the term is not all that well defined. Technically, the term corporal refers to any physical interaction. If I saw a bully wailing away some poor schmuck in the playground and physically intervened, then I have engaged in a corporal act. If the bully feels hurt or, in any way is put off by my intervention, then I have engaged in corporal punishment.

People communicate through signals. All of these signals work through physical interaction. Communication with small children involves a great deal of touching. As such, one will never come up with a perfect definition of where corporal punishment begins. Placing a child in a crib in response to a screaming fit is corporal punishment. The parent is denying their child habeas corpus by placing them in a cage encircled with bars!

I won't go into the horrors of sending a child to their room without dessert or other such corporal punishments based on restraining personal liberty.

I love math, and have learned in game theory that, while the positive strategy is the ideal and works well when all players play positively, the tit for tat strategy is the best bet when the environment is less than ideal. The most successful all around strategy is one that allows for course corrections. In education, one should aim for a system based entirely on positive re-enforcement, but there needs to be room for a course correction when things start falling apart.

There are environmental situations where corporal punishment appears to be needed. For example, if you have a totally failed school where the students are beating each other, then one is left scrambling in a no-mans land of insanity where the administration needs to find ways to restore civility.

Of course, the best way to deal with a dysfunctional school is to have a system of choice where students could flee the dysfunctional school for one that works.

I recognize that the superior option is a politically impossibility. School choice might diminish the hard earned ironclad grip progressives have on the education system.

The option of firing bad teachers is out when unions are involved.

Were I charged with a school district that had wild disciplinary problems and teachers who beat students on the sly, it is likely that I would attack the issue by establishing an openly acknowledged policy of corporal punishment.

The mere presence of a policy brings the issue into the open so that there can be open discussion.

As stated earlier, I do not believe that corporal punishment works. If the policy demands that people state their reasons and objectives, then people would gradually reject the method.

For that matter, the act of challenging presumptions of corporal punishment has led to a drop in both the usage and severity of the technique. When one challenges the presumptions, one finds the method falls short of the goals of the teacher.

That statement depends, of course, on the goals of the education system. If the goal is to create either a warlike or submissive population, then widespread use of beatings works wonders.

If the ruling principle is the betterment of the child, then simple open discourse diminishes the problem, and a ban is not needed.

There is an interesting interplay between principle and policy. Extremely harsh policies might indicate a lack of principle. Strong policy often erodes the principle behind the policy.

The group Liberating Education was appalled at the report of beatings in Chicago schools. This group runs private Montessori schools. Montessori schools are backed by both strong principles and a sound teaching method. As such corporal punishment is pretty much a non-issue.

Of course, one can easily frame the Montessori Method as corporal punishment. The method uses a series of self-corrective learning materials. For example, a student might be given a set of blocks. The blocks only fit together in one way. The student must master the principles behind a puzzle to solve it.

The child interfaces with the puzzles on a corporal level. Putting the blocks together incorrectly might damage a child's self esteem. Self corrective learning toys can be framed as a form of institutionalized corporal punishment.

Anyway, the universal ban on corporal punishment that the UN seeks to impose by 2009 might prove a boon for image driven politicians who wish to appear progressive; however, the United Nation's dictate against all corporal punishment destroys the climate where one can drill down, unmask and resolve the negative principles that lead to the horrific abuse of children.

Yes, we should have laws that aggressively address the horrific child abuse and should throw ourselves into stopping beatings, rapes and outlandish abuse. However, when self-righteous buffoons like professor Pinheiro issue dictates at the world, one loses the ability to develop the best principles which are in actuality the best path to a positive future.

Professor Pinheiro's totalitarian dream simply leads to a system where the beatings continue while the clowns in power bask in delusions of their moral superiority.

IMHO, the sensationalized reports and totalitarian policies dictated from the top down don't solve the problem. They simply create an atmosphere ripe for abuse. The image-driven politicians who issue top down dictates simply create a smoke screen for abusive behavior.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Partisan Fog

I've been in a bloggin' funk. The purpose of this blog is simply to pen reactions to news.

Last week I watched a pile of talking heads on the News Hour. The conversation was in support Leon Panetta's nomination for position of CIA chief.

The talking heads didn't have anything useful to say about Panetta; so they did what pundits do best: They turned their attention to the on going character assassination of George W. Bush.

One statement in the conversation stood out. A person, it may have been James Risen, talked about how the torture regime of George Bush and Dick Cheney escalated the war in Iraq.

I realize that the primary objective of the Newshour is to associate snarl words with the Republicans and purr words with Democrats. They do a fine job. Marx would approve of PBS.

The program accomplished the goal of encouraging positive sentiment toward the party the Newshour favors and away from the party they oppose. That is all fine. They do their job well.

However, in the absence of any real information, my mind flittered away on a tangent.

I believe that the way things were reported during the war increased the death toll.

I fell into a funk, you see, because the thing that spurred the violence was the reporting, and not the tortures themselves.

As you see, in places where there is widespread torture, it is not reported. It usually only gets reported when the press is seeking a partisan advantage.

Oddly, we often only hear about torture when torture is fundamentally at odds with the group engaged in the act. This gives an advantage to those ideologies which encourage the use of torture and terrorism.

The way our press acts has created a very perverse world. For example, we find Hamas firing rockets from civilian areas on the Gaza strip into civilian areas of Isreal. While the left wing press gleefully reports on any civilians killed if the hated Israel responds.

Of course, this is what the radicalization process does. It is a way of creating and magnifying riffs.

As intellectuals (journalists, college professors, etc.) are the last to admit their complicity in the process, breaking the radicalization process is extremely difficult.

We can simply hope that organizations like CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) continue to monitor the bias, and hope that historians realize the fog created by the media was simply partisan fog.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Removing the Earmarks

The lack of "earmarks" in the rescue bill is interesting for several reasons. The most astounding thing of all is that politicians are actually bragging about it.

The reason people hated the earmarks in the Bush years was that they were a sign of corrupt, out-of-control pork barrel spending of his administration. There was a great deal of agitation, and people hated Bush all the more for earmarks passed by Congress.

The rescue bill is the largest pork project in the history of the solar system. The outcry against earmarks started as an outcry against out-of-control pork-barrel spending. Earmarks were simply symbolic of what was wrong.

The outcry against earmarks devolved into a buzzword. As the left has an iron clad grip on the press and schools, one need simply change the process of spending so that it is not labeled "earmark" and politicians can live on without so much as a token nod to the cause that spawned the anti-earmark anger.

The earmark problem was actually quite interesting. An earmark is government spending directly by Congress that bypasses the administration.

One would only see an explosion of earmarks when there is an administration that this trying to clamp down on out of control spending. One should not expect to see earmarks with a president who is a spend thrift, as an administration looking to dramatically increase the size of the Federal government would want to bring all spending into the administration.

Obama seems to have scored big with the earmark feint. It might backfire. To historians, it might show that the Bush administration was trying to cut spending, and that Congress was the source of much of the economic malfeasance.
cows © Gail Ranney

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Coco's Site

This is a bit embarrassing. The dog that hangs out where I live started a blog [The Wisdom of Coco]. Already she has more followers than me. Of course, what she says makes more sense than me.

I could recap. She dislikes seeing pork in the spending bill and has interesting ideas about cat heaven and Cat Hell.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I Am Glad the Fear Mongering Republicans Are Gone

A key component of the concerted agitation to bring on change was Chomsky's accusation that the hated Bush used fear mongering to manufacture consent.

In theory, since that hated Bush is on the scrap heap of history, change should have elevated us beyond fear mongering.

It is possible that Chomsky is nothing but a partisan who agitates by projecting the method onto his opponents.

Anyway, I love this clip from Pelosi. The math is mind boggling. If we are losing 500 million jobs a month because of the hated Bush, then we will wipe out all jobs in the US for the this and the next generation before the quarter is through.

A Page From A Diary

This just in: Apparently, during a time of war, the Bush administration had people spying on journalists.


It's not as if there were an extremely long history of foreign political groups using the press to undermine their enemies abroad. If there was, then governments should be spying on journalists (especially during times of war).

It is not as if other governments fund organizations like Voice of America (established during the Roosevelt Administration and currently broadcasting in 46 languages) to provide a government sponsored version of news.

It is not as if the press itself has legions of people wandering around with cameras, microphones and note pads shuffling through garbage cans and rifling through reams of documents and emails in efforts to gain influence or to attack their political enemies.

The idea that the government would be keeping tabs on a multi-billion dollar industry that spies and reports on government seem Un-American.

What would the founders say?

Err, by "founders," I mean the mythological founders that exist in our imaginations. The actual people who founded the United States (like Franklin, Adams, Washington and Jefferson) probably would agree with the idea that the government needs to do some tracking of the press to guard against foreign influence.

Anyway, since I was thinking of the press this morning, I decided to sneak into her bedroom where I stole a page from the diary that she keeps on her night stand. I present the page below:

Thursday, February 5, 2009.

Dear Diary,

It's me again, the press.

I am feeling lonely and distraught today and have been coming unnerved with feelings that he no longer loves me.

Or that he never loved me as much as I loved him.

Maybe he never loved me at all. Maybe it was all just a charade.

But it couldn't have been just a charade.

I can remember those hot steamy flights on his airplane as we jet-setted from town to town. He would make wonderfully seductive speeches to the commoners, but he would always come back to my warm embrace.

He told me that they were nothing but small town hicks clinging to their guns and religion. I have no religion ... other than an unwavering belief in myself.

Then, there was that wild jubilant party in Denver where I stood next to him and pledged my loyalty. We looked so beautiful together standing among the Greek Columns on stage. The party was followed by a dreamy election and even wilder parties.

Doesn't he see? The triumph was as much about me as it was about him. How else could a person win a national election on such a completely vacuous message? It was him and me together. Surely he knows that!

It was my whispering purr words in his direction and snarl words in the direction of that horrid Hillary and wicked McCain that won him his election.

It was my unflinching loyalty and not his mono-syllabic campaign for "Change."

Oh, I could have asked him to say more than one syllable. But I didn't. I could have asked for him to actually have platform ... but then people would have voted on issues and he would not have ascended.

Doesn't he see? We were a team!

.. and, then there was that glorious time on the beach, when he took off his shirt off and the sun glistened off his chiseled pectorals.


I thought we had a marriage made in heaven.

But, now he is spending his days with influence peddling tax cheats. Even worse, he has been making moves toward her …

What does he see in her [The American People] that he doesn't see in me [The Worldly Liberal Press]?

She is an overweight fickle buffoon whose fancy flitters from one sweet-talker to the next. She even loved Bush once. She even loved Bush.

I am sleek, sophisticated and worldly. I have so much more to offer than her.

I imagine how wonderful it would be if it was just him and me in the cozy little White House. The world would be at our fingertips.

Yet today I find myself shuffled off into a corner room where a pumpkin-headed fast talker rationalizes about the day's events. It feels so tawdry.

I feel that he is bypassing me, while he gives her stimulus packages, hints that hew will pay for her abortions, and other fancy gifts.

I am dismayed and forlorn.

I am sure that this is just a phase. He can't love her. She will never be as good to him as me.

But if he doesn't give me the love that I demand … well, let's just say I could turn on him. I could turn on him in a fierce way.

Hell hath no fury as a Liberal Press scorned.

After all, look what I did to his predecessor Bush … I agitated and manufactured discontent to the point that Bush is now numbered among the greatest villains of all times.

I did that.

I engaged in a deliberate effort to undermine and destroy that horrid Bush.

I could do the same to Obama.

But, no! I know that he loves me. Just as I love him. He must love me for I have surrendered up every last morsel of my heart, my soul and my integrity to him … the one.

The biased American Press

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Buy Treasury Bonds

I am trying not to be just a naysayer.

Unfortunately, I disagree with the direction of the "recovery" and have even considered the politically incorrect notion that the "recovery" is a primary cause of our economic malaise. One might recall the experience of Tom Sawyer who learned the cure might be worse than the disease when he fed Aunt Polly's medicine to his cat. The cat weirded up.

While we are supposed to attribute the failing economy solely to GW Bush (along with our humiliating loss in Afghanistan and Iraq). The truth of the matter is that the historic changes in our government are part of the economic picture.

This historic change in government in 2006 and the historic paradigm shift from a crony capitalism to a regulated market that happened in the 2008 election are part of the economic puzzle.

As you see, the market looks forward, not backward. Layoffs happen because businesses anticipate future slow downs. Businesses vacate offices because they anticipate a dearth of work.

If we really were entering a new Camelot era, then the market would be bounding with joy for our replacing the much hated Bush with the beloved Obama.

Earlier this week, I heard a speech from Barack Obama talking about how the "recovery" will be a multi year process and will likely require many stimulus bills before it is over. I had a horrid vision of our nation stumbling like a crack addict between hits ... always needing a bigger stimulus to recover from the last stimulus.

I know, I know, I know. We are supposed to forget that the downward economic spiral started the year after the government changed hands in the historic 2006 election. We are supposed to forget the historic first 100 days of the Pelosi/Reid regime which made the historic about face from Bush's "kinder and gentler conservatism" to a wild-eyed no-holds-barred progressivism.

We are to forget the massive spending increases associated the the record increase in CHIPs, the massive prescription drug bill and other notable efforts.

Bush's compassionate conservatism meant the biggest increase in government spending since LBJ. If the biggest spending increase since LBJ is the modern version of a free market failure, then the correction from deregulation failure is likely to be something that makes the New Deal pale in comparison.

Anyway, I've been sitting here hoping that the promise of a steady stream of stimuluses would usher in a market resurgeance.

Apparently, the reason that this isn't happening is because the reactionary Rush Limbaugh is sitting behind a microphone and emitting negative vibes.

I don't like Mr. Limbaugh, and think that that horrible little man should keep his negative vibes to himself.

Although I am trying my hardest to be positive, I keep being overcome with negative vibes.

Much as I would like to change the way I was taught to think in school. I was taught critical thinking! I got really good at criticizing. I accidentally started critizing both the left and right. As there is so much more wrong with the left, I end up criticizing them a lot more than the right.

Anyway, I figure one's actions are far more important than one's words.

So, I stayed up late last night trying to figure out a positive way to help in the recovery.

Apparently, one of the biggest concerns of the radical right is that we are financing our stimulus package by borrowing from China.

So, I figure that the best way to show one's support for Obama would be for people to close out bank accounts and buy treasury bonds. So, I cancelled a few magazine subscriptions and am now starting the process of closing an account with a local bank to buy treasury bonds.

Obama needs money so that he can lend it to banks to stimulate the economy. My transferring money from my bank account to treasury bonds should help in the process.

I think that anyone who is truly supportive should do the same thing.

The government needs money to finance the stimulus. I think we should all pitch in.

Every American should cut their expenses. Sell off speculative investments, and take money from their bank account and buy treasury bonds. This will give Obama the money he needs to lend to banks and stimulate spending.

As part of my patriotic duty, I've been putting up links to This is a wonderful site that lets you buy and manage your treasury bond holdings.

Currently, government spending in the US is about 30% of the GDP. At the end of the Obama age, we should expect it to rise to 40% or 50%. So, it makes sense for people to pull their money from private investments and place it in the government, where we know it will be used wisely.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Tag Line

I just came up with a new tagline for the equity project. The tagline will be:

"Shared Equity Financing, the New Gold Standard in Real Estate Investment."

The gold standard is a monetary system in which the money trading hands is backed by a physical commodity such as gold. The Austrian School of economics holds this idea in high esteem.

The core argument for Shared Equity Financing is that it creates securities which are directly backed by real estate.

The mortgage backed securities sitting at the core of the current economic crisis were backed by dubious equities including Government Backed Reinsurance and Credit Default Swaps.

A mortgage is a dollar loan against a piece of property. This an inherently leveraged position as the value of the dollar is independent of the value of the property. When the value of the property drops below the amount of the loan, the property owner has an incentive to default.

A shared equity lien is percentage lien placed directly against the property. The value of the lien is now pegged directly to the increase or decrease in the value of the property.

Now, the gold standard is simply a pipe dream of an economic school. Returning to the gold standard would require a massive political effort. Even if the world returned to the gold standard, there would be a political movement to knock the world off it.

Shared Equity Financing is not dependent on politics. The idea is based on a contract between investors and home buyers. Once the contract and trading mechanism is in place, then the Libertarian minded could walk up to their corrupt bank. Yell: "I divorce thee. I divorce thee. I divorce thee," then replace their mortgage with a shared equity lien.

I think my tag line is cool. It might get the product aligned with a set of worhty economic ideals.

Now that I have a tag line, I guess I will have to go back and start working on the project.