Archive for March 2020

Hard Love   Leave a comment

Shine   Leave a comment

Dull as dirt,
You can’t assert
The kinda light that might persuade
A strict dictator to retire
Fire the army,
Teach the poor origami.
The truth is in,
The proof is when you hear your heart start asking
What’s my motivation?
And try as you may
There is no way
To explain the kinda change
That’d make an Eskimo renounce fur
That’d make a vegetarian barbecue hamster
Unless you can trace this about-face to a certain SignShine.
Make ’em wonder whatcha got.
Make ’em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored.
Shine.
Let it shine before all men.
Let em see good works and then
Let em glorify the Lord.Out of the shaker and onto the plate,
It isn’t karma it sure ain’t fate
That would make a deadhead sell his van
That would make a schizophrenic turn in his crayons
Oprah freaks
And science geeks
A rationale that shall excuse this strange behavior
When you let it Shine
You will inspire the kind of entire turnaround
That would make a bouncer take ballet
Even bouncers who are unhappy
But out of the glare
With nowhere to turn
You ain’t gonna learn it on “What’s my line?”Shine.
Make ’em wonder whatcha got.
Make ’em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored.
Shine.
Let it shine before all men.
Let em see good works and then
Let em glorify the Lord.Shine.Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Michael Blue / Mikal Blue / Kevin Hammond / Angel TaylorShine lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

Posted March 22, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Paranoid Preppers Now Prescient   1 comment

My latest Medium article

Sometimes where you stand on a social issue depends on the surrounding events.


Today

As of this morning (St. Patrick’s Day), my daughter informs me that New Orleans looks like something from one of my novels — closed stores, stripped shelves, nobody on the street. This is a problem for a street musician and poet like Ivyl who travels from California to NOLA every Mardi Gra to enjoy the excitement and make good money busking in the crowds.

“Nobody will come anywhere near me and the three people on the street are gloved, masked, having hoodies hiding their faces and they won’t meet each other’s gaze as if that will prevent them from catching it.” Ivyl, 27-year-old street musician and entrepreneur.

For a kid that grew up in the normally friendly state of Alaska and who has worked the Mardi Gra crowds and the shoulder season for a few years now, it’s a freaky situation … like the apocalyptic fiction her mother writes.

Where I’m Coming From

I grew up in the frontier state of Alaska where, thanks to the Jones Act, goods have always been expensive and scarce. We bought our summer clothes in March because it would take the barge three months to get to us — just in time for summer. If we waited until May, our summer clothes would be useless when they arrived in September.

Image (Time.com Robyn Beck) Text — Lela Markham

Credit: AFP via Getty Images), meme mine

My parents always kept a full pantry of canned goods and they bought commodities like coffee, flour and toilet paper in bulk. Every time we moved houses, we dragged all this stuff with us. In high school, as the Alaska Pipeline Construction boom brought us logistically closer to the Lower 48, friends told me my parents did this “hoarding” because they were kids during the Depression. I didn’t yet know that Lower 48ers and Alaskans only partially share a culture.

When I first met my husband, he didn’t get the point and I stopped following the practice. It seemed unexamined to me since we now got twice-a-week barge shipments and the grocery stores were always overflowing.

My Parents Became Smarter As I Grew Older

Then we had our first barge crisis. A volcano outside of Anchorage blew up and truckers refused to drive their expensive rigs through the ashy streets of Anchorage. Everything was stuck on the barges in the Port of Anchorage. Within two days, the grocery stores in Fairbanks looked stripped. Fortunately, it rained in Anchorage and the ash problem shifted away from the city, so shipments soon started flowing again.

About a decade later, there was a longshoreman’s strike on the West Coast and Alaska didn’t get shipments of food for a couple of weeks. Every aisle of the store was pretty picked clean before the barges started sailing again. That was my final wakeup call. I began stocking up. Our emergency stores are mostly canned goods, dry beans and rice, flour and oil, extra cleaning supplies, extra toilet paper, and whatever meat was harvested and is still in the freezer. We’re not all-out preppers, but my childhood in Alaska means I know how to make a water filter, how to get water from the shallow “defunct” well under our house if necessary (which would require filtration), and how to build a toilet using a five-gallon bucket and a jug of Odor-Killer. Being Alaskans, we hunt and fish and are appropriately tooled-up for those endeavors. My husband knows how to snare rabbits and our kids know the difference between high-bush cranberry and baneberry, assuming we run out of the 48 jars of blueberry conserve my husband put up last fall. We also have a few gallons of birch water in the freezer because it has a high Vitamin C content (and is actually kind of delicious … if you can get over that it will make everything, including your toothpaste, taste like birch leaves for the first week). We also have, on average, 10 cords of firewood in the woodshed, so we don’t actually need electricity and heating fuel.

We built our stock slowly over about a three-year period. We’d buy a flat of vegetables or a couple of bags of rice or beans. We didn’t deny anyone else access to resources. We didn’t strip the shelves. I doubt anyone outside the family noticed.

We’re not hard-core preppers. We don’t have a tank of gasoline. There’s no bunker in the backyard. We don’t have “go-bags”. Ten cords of wood wouldn’t fit in a go-bag anyway. We just recognize that we’re at the end of a long and tenuous supply line and live in a state prone to earthquakes, which can destroy port facilities, electric generation plants, and roads. We are casual preppers.

Oh, My God, You’re Hoarders!

Even though we’re laid back about our prepping efforts, it doesn’t take much to garner opinions on the topic. In some people’s view, we’re “hoarders”. I’ve had people suggest I need to seek professional help. There are others who call us “selfish”, “paranoid” or “what is wrong with Americans.” (this from a British author friend who never hesitates to assure me Americans are some lesser form of life. We are still friends because I don’t take it personally). People just cannot conceive of a time when supply lines will be disrupted and the government won’t or can’t step in to rescue them.

You don’t need to have 3–6 months’ worth of food. That’s just crazy.

Crazy Until It Isn’t

We all ought to now be awake about the risks of not being prepared. The fear of CoVid 19 has stripped grocery shelves of toilet paper and cold medicines. You can’t find a bag of rice in any grocery store in my town. My husband, who relies on Benedryl for prophylactic treatment of bee stings, is concerned we didn’t stockpile enough, but it wouldn’t do him any good because I can’t buy it now.

Many in our society mock preppers as weird and paranoid, but it turns out preppers were prescient. They might never actually need two years’ worth of food, but we know now that they did need two weeks’ worth of toilet paper.

Folks should have planned ahead, but they didn’t because — well, why didn’t they?

Why Would People Choose to be Unprepared?

Why did they demonize the preppers? Why did they deny the need to be prepared?

Education is key and education has gone a long way toward misinforming people on preparedness. My children tell me their high school health classes (six years apart in the same Alaska high school) taught there is absolutely no reason to have more than two weeks’ worth of food in your home. “Supply lines are robust” stuck with our daughter, who says she’s now spending her free time working on a ditty based on that line. I recently had a conversation with my son that the “used by” date on a can of beans doesn’t mean anything, that you can still use the contents of that can a decade later. He’s still concerned that I might be poisoning us. Will it have a better flavor if it’s used within the two-year used-by period? Possibly. Can it still safely be consumed a decade later? As long as the can hasn’t been breached and there’s no rust — absolutely. Do people know that? No, and that’s a problem — a failure of education. I think we could also blame the social media gurus who scoff at the idea you need to be prepared.

We live in an age of pretend-abundance. Our grocery stores are plentifully supplied — until there’s a hiccup. The average American grocery store has 2 to 3 days of backstock. My son works at Walmart and he says the one here in Fairbanks has about a week, but in his training, he learned ours is an outlier because we only get twice-a-week barge shipments. Walmarts in the Lower 48 have about 3 days worth of backstock. That matters if there’s a natural disaster or a break in the supply chain from China, for example. It’s not true that the supply lines are robust and CoVid 19 is pulling back the curtain on just how fragile the supply chain really is.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin

And it gets worse ….

There’s actually an American law that allows the government to confiscate privately-owned food and fuel stores in excess of two weeks. Government agencies have never made use of that authority, but it exists and should concern all of us. Of course, if the government has the authority to redirect the personally-owned resources of the citizens, it’s just a matter of time before it uses it, depriving individuals of the ability to be prepared in their own homes in favor of the “common good” — meaning the 90% who believed they didn’t need to be prepared. What happens then?

And this is where I think many conservatives — usually the least radical of ideologues — begin to part company with the general consensus. I’m not obeying an order to turn over my food supplies. I planned ahead. If you didn’t, that’s your problem, not mine. Is that selfish? Yes. Is it absolutely necessary? Until the grocery store shelves are overflowing again, definitely. Because in a severe crisis we may have to ask the question —

Do some of us live separately or do we all starve to death together?

Nobody likes to be portrayed as crazy and our culture definitely treats preppers as suffering from a mental illness. I admit some people take it too far, but most people don’t take it far enough.

“There is always a part of my mind that is preparing for the worst, and another part of my mind that believes if I prepare enough for it, the worst won’t happen.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison

There Ought to be a Law?

Clearly I don’t favor a law against prepping. That would just risk lives. I also don’t favor a law that would prohibit the sort of juvenile hoarding behavior we’re seeing now. I do suggest stores start jacking up prices, which will discourage hoarding and have the effect of making what’s left available for more people if they’re willing to pay the price. When hand sanitizer is priced $100 per bottle, people get real-world woke-up fast and come to recognize that good old-fashioned soap-and-water is better anyway.

We shouldn’t be surprised or even angry that people are rushing out to strip grocery store shelves right now. They’re panicked by media reports that the world is ending. I don’t happen to think the world is in peril from CoVid19 (although old people and those with underlying health conditions are at risk), but I also think my husband might be at risk this summer (still two months away at best) if he can’t carry Benedryl with him on his hikes. I’m annoyed by people who didn’t plan ahead and are now inconveniencing the rest of us, but I wouldn’t make laws against them getting what they need. I wouldn’t risk their lives in a vain attempt to control them. Instead, I applaud them for getting to the grocery store before I did, because I would have added a week onto our food stocks, just in case. And bought that all-important Benadryl.

People should be prepared for the unexpected — the natural disaster, the mutated cold virus, the sudden cessation of barge shipments from China or the Port of Tacoma. We shouldn’t need to run out to the store to stock up at the last minute. We should be thinking ahead and prepared.

If you’ve previously mocked a prepper as paranoid, you might want to apologize now, because they’re looking incredibly prescient at the moment. And, if it turns out this crisis is the apocalypse they invisioned, they might share with the people who have been nice to them.


Lela Markham is an Alaska-based novelist and blogger with libertarian leanings interested in a variety of subjects.

Covered   6 comments

Interview your cover designer (even if it’s you!)(talk about other covers they have worked on, what you love about their work, etc.)

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1. Link your blog to this hop.

2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.

3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.

4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.

5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

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Who Designs Your Covers?

Right up front — I design my own covers. When I first started, my daughter, who is an artist, designed my first two covers and they were quite good, but a catastrophic computer failure wiped out those cover images just after she left on a world tour (otherwise known as being a starving musician across America). She recommended a friend, a college student, who helped me rebuild the covers for The Willow Branch and Life As We Knew It. They are Ivyl’s basic design, but with new images and we fixed some of the things I didn’ t like. He started to design the cover for Mirklin Wood. Halfway through collecting the various images, he suggested I learn how to do photo editing and computer collage. It would, he explained, save me money (or moose-stew and blueberry pie, which is what he preferred over money) and it would take care of that fact that he was graduating and leaving the state. I’ve completely designed all the others with input from friends, my family and random coworkers and church members.

What Do You Like Best About Working with Yourself?

I’m cheap. Seriously – money is an object and if I spend my money on cover design, I have less money for editing and marketing.

I’m not a true artist. I can draw, but my inner artist has perspective problems. But Ivyl points out I’m a photographer and I also managed to get a B from a university art class where the professor was a real artist. She was pretty convinced I could do it and so was her friend, who is now a scrimshaw artist in a western village concerned about what CoVid19 is going to do to the tourism industry his income relies on. Cover design is really collage and I’ have always been good at collage. The computer eliminates the need to endure the smell of rubber cement.

But I also like that I know my own mind. I don’t have to describe what I want to another person who may not have read the book. Ivyl had and the design went easily, but there were still issues with conveying my vision. Ethan hadn’t and working on Mirklin Wood was a struggle. He did a good job, but it took a lot of effort.

What Are You Aiming When You Start a Cover Design?

I like covers that give you some idea of what you might find in the book, which is one reason I don’t use cover mills. So, for example, The Willow Branch has a moon that isn’t really a moon and it harbingers the arrival of a goddess who sometimes takes the form of a raven. And you can get that from the cover.

Objects in View features a lot of roadblocks and surveillance by drones. You can see that from the cover. I want readers to be intrigued by what they see and want to check out what’s inside. By the way, that features almost entirely my own photography. I ran around my town and took pictures of cars with their taillights on, then cropped the images, masked the license plates and layered in the collage.

Although most of my images come from the Internet, I try to find unique pieces or edit the images in such a way that nobody is going to recognize it as an image they’ve seen a million times. For example, the moon on the cover of The Willow Branch is a NASA photo that we spun on its axis so it doesn’t look like Earth’s moon.

I always go for some striking image, often a pop of color or contrast in every cover. The brake lights in Objects in View, the aircraft’s yellow standing out against the blue of the storm in Gathering In, and the barn in Life As We Knew It all grab attention in a thumbnail and, hopefully, make the reader go — “Ooo, what’s that? Gotta check it out.”

I want the cover image to look good in print. With the ebook it’s all about the pop, but with the print book, the images need to look good, especially the typography. One of the things I like best about working for myself is I own the image, so I can make changes whenever I want and test them on the live audience on Amazon. I have made some remarkably small changes and seen an almost immediate bump in hits on ads, for example.

How Long Does It Take You to Design a Cover?

About a year, or as long as it takes me to write the book. Of course, I don’t work on it every day, but typically, I start to get a basic idea for a cover while I’m writing the book. In the case of “Winter’s Reckoning,” which will come out this fall, I started to get the cover idea while I was writing Gathering In and actually had the cover more or less complete before I started to write the book. Sometimes it just works out that way.

As I write, I’ll start looking for images to edit. I’ll keep track of where I got them, so if I use them in the final design I go pay the royalty. I’m always looking for that pop of color or contrast and then when I have a rough collage going, I go back and really neaten up the constituent images and layer them into the design. I might do several dozen tweaks. I might toss an image I liked in favor of another one that’s stronger. I finally save it as if it were a piece of artwork and then work on the typography.

What’s Important about the Typography?

I’m actually qualified in typographic design. I trained as a journalist back when small-town newspaper folks had to do everything without computers, so I try to spend extra effort in getting the typography right. You say a lot with the font you use and the placement in the image. While I might take a lot of time on the collage that forms the picture, I will definitely spend several passes at getting the typography right.

Now, when I say right – I mean on the print book. It’s really not necessary to make the typography legible on the e-book. A pop of color or contrast will attract attention to the thumbnail, but ebook customers have all that writing available to them left of the thumbnail in whatever font size they prefer. My focus is on a good or even great cover image. My attention to typography is for the print book and is a matter of personal pride.

Would you ever consider working with a professional cover designer?

Yes, if the price were right and we came up with a final product on our first project that was worth the effort. I recognize that others have talent beyond mine. I also recognize that indie publishing is a numbers game and if I’m spending thousands of dollars bringing a book to market before I’ve even sold one copy, then it’s not a business so much as a very expensive hobby. I already have one of those and at least we can snuggle under my quilts.

Are You Looking for Customers?

No, although if someone would like me to mentor them in DYI cover design, I’d be okay with that. I think, in doing someone else’s cover, I would have the same problem Ivyl and her friend had, trying to read the mind of the author and not quite getting it right. That’s a lot of money to charge someone for not quite getting it right and if I’m going to charge money for something, the final product needs to make them happy.

What Advice Would You Give Other Authors Considering DYI Design?

It’s not for everyone. I had a background in pedestrian art, photograph and typography. All I needed was training in photo editing. Don’t feel bad if you can’t do that. Perhaps you can DYI a mockup for your cover designer, so you can show him or her what your basic vision is. Then take his advice because that is his area of expertise. And cover mills do have a place in the market, although I caution against having the same cover as 20 other books. But you know, having some fun with it. Get Canva or Paint.net (which is what I use) and spend some time playing with some images. You may discover you have a hidden talent.

Posted March 16, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Red Letters   Leave a comment

Run Devil Run   Leave a comment

Posted March 15, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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A Third Choice in a Binary System   Leave a comment

Link to Medium Article

We’re at a pivotal point in society.


The Situation

In some ways, I think I know what my parents’ generation (born 1910–1924) felt when their kids (Early Baby Boomers) didn’t see communism as an existential threat to the United States. The differences are:

  1. communism wasn’t knocking on the door of the White House, and
  2. my brother’s half of our generation were (rightfully) protesting dying in a war against an ideology most of them didn’t embrace anyway.

My brother’s generation were not communists. Like many young people of every generation, they didn’t understand much about economics and they tended to let their “feels” make their decisions for them, but most of them liked the perks of capitalism and most of them had at least an inkling that they didn’t want to live in a Soviet-Marxist society. Exceptions existed, of course — hence, Bernie Sanders.

The situation today is very different from 1972.

History

In the 1972 election, George McGovern’s platform advocated:

  1. withdrawal from the Vietnam War in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war
  2. amnesty for draft evaders who had left the country
  3. an anti-war platform (although he didn’t rule out military action if the Vietnamese refused to release American POWs)
  4. an across-the-board 37% reduction in defense spending over three years
  5. a “demogrant” program to replace the personal income tax exemption with a $1,000 tax credit as a minimum-income floor for every citizen in America to replace the welfare bureaucracy
  6. support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment

As a libertarian, I don’t object to the first four points, I think the 6th is totally unnecessary, and there’s a now-former presidential candidate advocating for something similar to the 5th point. McGovern was an antiwar candidate who wanted to get rid of the welfare system by creating a universal basic income scheme that would have failed and by now, Andrew Yang would have nothing to talk about. I know it would have failed because I live in Alaska where it is currently failing and that’s even with it being supported by something more real than the federal income tax base (the mineral wealth of Alaska). That’s another topic I’ll discuss some other time.

2020

Now let’s look at what the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic nomination is promising.

Bernie Sanders was the frontrunner in the Democratic 2020 primary polls until Super Tuesday when the Democratic leadership marshaled its forces to assure he won’t be the nominee. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs as a third-party candidate, which will assure the Democrats lose in November. In the meantime, expect violence outside the Democratic convention and an attempt to put him on the ballot regardless of the primary polls. That he got so close to the nomination should concern us all.

Sanders promises a massive redistribution of income in this country through wealth transfers from the “wealthy” to the “poor”. Sanders advocates for:

  1. Medicare for all, a government single-payer system and demands lower prescription drug prices (pegged to the median drug price of Canada, the UK, France, Germany and Japan.
  2. Cancellation of all medical debt (an estimated $81 billion in past-due medical debt).
  3. guaranteed “free” post-secondary education.
  4. raising the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour
  5. doubling union membership
  6. enacting a federal jobs guarantee with the aim of a full-employment economy.
  7. giving workers ownership stakes in the companies they work for and equal say on company boards (all publicly-traded companies would be required to have at least 20% employee ownership)
  8. a federal tax on “extreme wealth” (an annual tax on the total gross wealth of from 1–8% with the purpose of eliminating billionaires entirely).
  9. a progressive estate tax
  10. a progressive corporate tax rate increases
  11. a Wall Street tax
  12. Wall Street reform
  13. create a Bureau of Corporate Governance in the Department of Commerce that would force corporations into a federal charter system that would require them to consider the interest of all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
  14. ban large-scale stock buybacks
  15. free child care and pre-K for all
  16. he’s signed onto a version of the Green New Deal, promising to reach 100% renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030 and complete decarbonization by 2050.

Wholesale Economic Takeovers Are Usually Bad for Individualism

Bernie Sanders’ platform amounts to a Wholesale takeover of the American economy at almost every level. It all adds up to a whole lot of taxes and taxes have a way of rolling down from the “wealthy” to the middle class and even the working poor. That was the lesson we all should have learned from the federal income tax, which started in 1917 at 1% on income of $0–20,000 up to 7% on income of $500,000 and up. By World War 2, taxes peaked at 94% on income over $200,000 (about $2.5 million in today’s dollars). Those making $0-2,000 paid a tax rate of 23%. Today, those in the $0-$9,700 bracket pay 10% (but are usually eligible for all of that back in a refund), while top ratepayers making $510,301 or more pay 37%.

Moreover, what Sanders is promising is the suppression of investment and deep mining of investment income in the US. Naturally, investors are terrified of a Bernie Sanders president and ordinary people should be also.

His proposals all represent major hits to the earnings of almost every large company in the United States. Don’t think that matters to you? Do you enjoy low consumer good prices? Would you like to go back to the days of paying $1000 for an I-Phone? Do you have a retirement account that is invested in the stock market? Are you enjoying good growth there currently? That goes away under a Sanders presidency because investors will be forced to hide their income or off-shore it and those of us who are small-potatoes will pay the price when the big-players exit the market.

Sanders Appeal

So why is Sanders doing so well in the Democratic primaries?

Because unlike the Greatest Generation, who didn’t understand the temporary view of their children on the Vietnam War, we raised Gen Y and Millennials as economic illiterates and spoiled rotten brats. How did we do that?

We raised them to believe that college was 100% necessary and then we made college unaffordable with a raft of government programs designed as tuition supports that produce unintended (and completely predictable) consequences. The cost of college tuition has risen by six times more than the rate of inflation since the 1980s, strangling millions of young Americans with college loans that seem impossible to repay. (“Seem” because a lot of people have figured out that continuing to live as though you’re in college after you’re employed pays those loans down quickly).

We raised our kids to believe they were special and worth listening to from birth. I know. I love my kids too, but I also taught them college should be a debt-free enterprise and that they would learn wisdom as they grew older (a fact that at 27 and 21, they both admit to, the 27-year-old more than the 21-year-old). Meanwhile, the establishment in both political parties ignored young voters, who were raised to believe they were the most important people on the planet. To be told they need to cough up the Social Security payments of their (to their eyes) wealthy grandparents flew in the face of their belief in their own superiority. To also have the ACA’s mandates fall most heavily on them right when they needed an income to pay down their loans was frankly unfair. Since they don’t know how economics works and the Obama administration didn’t either, they ended up feeling put upon, which warmed them up for socialism’s empty promises.

We raised them to believe America is a horrible place and in crisis. For the last 12 years, the Democratic establishment has insisted that the Republicans were plotting to bring down the “free world”. The “tea party” (a loosely-affiliated grassroots movement of mostly middle-class people) was demagogued as white supremacists in league with the KKK. Every little phrase or action from people concerned about the increasing size and cost of government became a dog-whistle for “racism”. For the last three years, the Democrats have insisted Trump supports white supremacy and is controlled by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Clearly, the world is ending and moderate Democratic candidates just won’t do in such a crisis.

To Be Fair

Meanwhile, the Republican establishment during the Obama administration told their partisans that the growing national debt was going to eat the economy (which it will, eventually), but then stopped talking about it when Trump became president and continued spending at Obama-era rates.

That hypocrisy did not go unnoticed by younger voters. There appears to be a step toward the libertarian section among young people of a more fiscally-conservative bent. They’re not buying Bernie’s socialist claims, but they’re also not buying Republican claims any longer. (I predict a major reshuffling of both major parties either in 2024, but that’s another post as well.)

Comparing Two Ideologies

It currently looks like Sanders will not be the Democratic frontrunner going into the convention, but the Bernie faction is either going to demand a Biden running mate with a Marxist bent or they’ll vote third-party. Will the Democrats give them what they want?

Biden shows clear signs of dementia and he’s a year younger than Bernie (who recently had a heart attack), so don’t expect him to be the actual nominee. Or if he is the nominee, he’ll have a running mate who is younger and healthier. The Democratic Party establishment doesn’t want to kill the goose that lays golden eggs and installing an out-Marxist in the White House wouldn’t really feed the goose. They want someone who sounds just socialist enough to prevent Bernie supporters from voting for Trump or the Libertarian candidate, but they want someone they can control.

I’m kind of sad that Bernie won’t be in the race in November, but I was looking forward to the comparison between two economic systems with widespread political fallout.

Socialism

Socialism to the extent Bernie Sanders proposes is not possible without restrictions on democratic liberties.

Socialist planning cannot coexist with individual rights. Under socialism, culture must produce “some form of commitment to the idea of a morally conscious collectivity, antagonistic to a bourgeois culture which encourages the primary importance of the individual”, which naturally asserts the rights of individuals to speak their minds freely and act as they wish within reasonable grounds.

Economic centralization requires authoritarian control over the lives of every individual in the country.

Medical care centralization will require rationing and care dictates throughout the country (these have already increased under the ACA).

Education “reform” means more centralization and the elimination of diversity of ideas because a central office will have to make decisions for everyone on a one-size-fits-all basis.

And it all adds up to about $42.5 trillion over 10 years (or $4.25 trillion a year).

Current federal estimates for tax revenue are $44 trillion over the same period with a deficit of roughly $12.4 trillion. THAT’S ON TOP OF ALL THE SPENDING WE’RE ALREADY DOING. We’d go from the government being about 18–22% of GDP to between 40–50% of GDP. Include state and local governments, and the total government spend works out to around 60% of GDP.

Even with massive cuts to defense, you’d still come out with a $34 trillion shortfall over 10 years. You’d need to seize 100% of all corporate profits, plus 100% of all income above $90,000 (per individual) or impose a VAT tax around 87% on all consumer transactions to cover all that spending.

History also shows that the vast power necessary to establish and maintain socialism naturally attracts unscrupulous people who prioritize their own interests over those of society. Moreover, socialism typically destroys the production incentives of ordinary people. They used to joke in the USSR and Eastern-bloc countries — “They pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work.”

Oh, I know. That wasn’t REAL socialism. The communism regimes of the past were dictatorships. If they’d been “democratic socialism”, the leaders would have made the system work for the benefit of the people because the voters would have “thrown the bastards out” at the next election.

I call shenanigans on that. How many socialist societies have to be tried before we accept that what they became was REAL socialism? It’s highly unlikely these mythical “democratic” communist-socialist states would remain democratic for long. Democracy requires effective opposition parties that are able to put out their messages and mobilize voters. That requires extensive resources. In an economic system in which nearly all valuable resources are controlled by the state, the incumbent government easily stranges opposition by denying them access to those resources. Under socialism, the opposition can’t function if they’re not allowed to spread their message. It may not start out that way for President Bernie Sanders, but it will end that way for the American people if we elect him because Sanders advocates for a wholesale takeover of the journalism as well as medical care, education, and the economy.

Mercantilism

I’m not a Trump supporter so I’m not uncomfortable pointing out that Trump is NOT a capitalist. He may be a capitalist in his business dealings, but as president, he has conducted himself as a mercantilist. This makes sense if you recognize the US hasn’t been a free-market economy since the 1860s and has become an increasingly mixed-economy since World War 2. We are already socialism-lite and most of the economic issues we have currently can be traced to the mercantilist/socialist/fascist features of our economy. Capitalism can only succeed in the US if it cozies up to the government in a crony-capitalism system, no better explained than by the Wall Street bailouts of 2008 and 2009. Economically, we have far more in common with Scandinavian big-welfare countries than we do more free-market Hong Kong or Estonia.

Mercentilism isn’t often thought of these days. We tend to think of it as something from the 17th century, but the concept of mercantilism is “the economic theory that trade generates wealth and is stimulated by the accumulation of profitable balances, which a government should encourage by means of protectionism.” That’s Trump. That’s crony capitalism. That’s not capitalism.

We’ve Reached a Pivot

So the real argument we will face this election cycle is —

  1. Do we want to remain in this quasi-free-market or
  2. Do we want to go fully socialist and become the American European Union just as the European Union is waking up to the damage it is doing to the European economy and the natural rights of individuals?
  3. Do we throw caution to the wind and elect a third-party candidate who takes us toward a more capitalist and individual-liberty-based system.

As I said at the beginning, we are at a pivot point for our society. We’re either going left toward socialism, which requires authoritarian central planning and probable eventual totalitarianism or we’re holding steady with a mercantilist mixed-economy that’s not working for most people and will eventually lead us to Door #1 anyway. But the pivot point gives us an opportunity to consider a third option — if we’re willing to think outside the two-party box that has defined us forever.

Vote third party in 2020 because doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results hasn’t worked so far.


Lela Markham is an Alaska-based novelist and blogger interested in a variety of topics, mostly from a libertarian perspective.

Posted March 13, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in economics

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Audiobooks #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

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Source: Audiobooks #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted March 11, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – 9th March   1 comment

Stevie Turner

Welcome to the weekly blog hop.  Today’s topic is:

‘Are audiobooks considered reading?’

I would say no, because you don’t read them.  Instead, you listen to the voice of the narrator who is the one doing the reading.  Your audio ‘book’ arrives on a CD, and so I’d say it’s more like a record than a book.

I have 13 audiobooks for sale which between them have 7 different narrators.  It’s taken 5 years to get the majority of them up for sale, as I’ve had to rely on narrators applying for the job and working at their own pace rather than doing it all myself (my voice is damaged).  However, I’m pleased with the finished products, which can all be seen on Amazon Audible.

https://www.audible.com/author/Stevie-Turner/B00AV7YOTU?

Apparently audiobooks are becoming more popular than print books now as people can listen to them on the go through headphones, in the car…

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Posted March 11, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Audiobooks, friend or foe?   Leave a comment

Richard Dee’s blog post

Posted March 11, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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