Archive for the ‘Political Philosophy’ Category

Small Business Cheers   Leave a comment

You’ve probably heard the hysterical wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Dogs will be mating with cats and polar bears with penguins any day now. It’s the end of the world as we know. President Trump cited a National Economic Research Associates’ study in his speech and  the New York Times, in one of its most hyperbolic editorials in recent years, heaped disgust and disdain on the citation of this study:

“Mr. Trump justified his decision by saying that the Paris agreement was a bad deal for the United States, buttressing his argument with a cornucopia of dystopian, dishonest and discredited data based on numbers from industry-friendly sources.”

Image result for image of climate changeThe study (which you should read and decide for yourself, but I found credible … and alarming) speculated that meeting the emissions targets could cost 2.7 million jobs, with manufacturing hit particularly hard. Overall growth would suffer. Professional economists today are skeptical of such studies, and the authors definitely hedged their bets while writing it, but you don’t even have to read such studies to know that more industrial controls via government will cost jobs and productivity. That should be common sense and history bears it out. Financial market’s responded positively to Trump’s move to withdraw, which makes you wonder what the media hysteria is about.

What exactly did we decide to opt out of? The US declined to plot decades of mandatory, top-down regulations governing the precise pace of technological innovation concerning greenhouse gases. That appears to have reduced some economic anxiety, perhaps even made some businesses breath a sigh of relief.

As someone who lives in a cold climate where heating our homes is not something we can choose not to do, I know I felt a bit of relief to know that bureaucrats in Paris would not be driving up the cost of the fuel I require to heat my home in an attempt to control the global climate.

 

Image result for image of climate change debunkedThe New York Times’ freak-out makes it seem that to be “friendly” to “industry” is enough to discredit what you say. You don’t need to know what was said and you certainly needed look at the data they used to support their conclusion. Knowing they’re “industry-friendly” is enough to disqualify any opinion, no matter how well supported, they might have. It’s like arguing economics with a socialist who uses the Marxist trick of dismissing any economic logic on grounds that its source is a member of the bourgeoisie and therefore intellectually trapped and unable to see socialist truth.

So any study paid for by those most affected by a policy must automatically discredit itself. “Industry” is supposed to be a bad thing. To be “friendly” to “industry” is proof enough that no one should ever pay attention to what you say.

But if you read the editorial, you see the NYT’s then complains that Trump ignored the advice of top industry “experts”:

Perhaps most astonishing of all, a chief executive who touts himself as a shrewd businessman, and who ran on a promise of jobs for the middle class and making America great again, seems blind to the damage this will do to America’s own economic interests… America’s private sector clearly understands this opportunity, which is why, in January, 630 businesses and investors — with names like DuPont, Hewlett Packard and Pacific Gas and Electric — signed an open letter to then-President-elect Trump and Congress, calling on them to continue supporting low-carbon policies, investment in a low-carbon economy and American participation in the Paris agreement.

 

Image result for image of climate change debunkedWell, that’s interesting. Elon Musk (Tesla) resigned as an advisor in the Trump administration in protest of the Paris pullout. Most CEOs won’t go that far, but many of the heads of the largest US companies are on record in support of the Paris climate agreement. Again, the New York Times reports:

Many prominent business executives have advocated for policies to address climate change. They’ve made the case not just on environmental grounds but on commercial ones, saying that American competitiveness would suffer if the United States abdicated leadership on climate.

It’s an entirely different picture among small- and medium-sized businesses, which make up 90% of the employers in the nation. Loud cheers went out among these owners and managers when Trump pulled out. A report from Toledo, Ohio:

“While multinational corporations such as Disney, Goldman Sachs and IBM have opposed the president’s decision to walk away from the international climate agreement, many small companies around the country were cheering him on, embracing the choice as a tough-minded business move that made good on Mr. Trump’s commitment to put America’s commercial interests first.”

What could possibly cause such a split? It really comes down to crony capitalism. Large companies are fine with the regulations, and even advocate for them. Smaller companies employing a few hundred people – which account for half of private sector employment – are almost universally opposed. There really is no such thing as “industry interests” in the political arena. There are well-connected big businesses versus everyone else. I’m in favor of the free market, but we need to be honest that the political influence of big business is not always in the best interest of everyone else.

 

Image result for image of climate change debunkedFor more than 100 years, big business has lobbied extensively for more intense government controls over trade, enterprise, labor, and property in general. Go on. Read some history which will show that government controls can benefit existing companies in the competitive process while hobbling upstarts and innovators. The large, established businesses can bear the new costs while their smaller competitors cannot.

And, thus we have a political split between big and small business over the Paris climate agreement. Whenever you hear that politicians are gathering “stakeholders” from the “business community” to find out their thoughts, become suspicious. That word “stakeholders” is synonymous with “special interests”. The interests of large companies are frequently different from the interests of free enterprise in general.

Why would the “progressive” voices at the New York Times weigh in on behalf of large business against smaller business? Well, it is itself a big business, which means … no matter what they pretend, they aren’t on the side of the “little guy”. Historically, progressives and corporate interests have often linked arms to build the state at the expense of everyone else. This includes the legions of activists who believe they are fighting for the little guy when in reality they are rigging the system to favor elites. If you drill down just a bit to the pressure-group politics behind the Paris agreement you find a partnership of government, various corporate interests, and ruling class intellectuals trying to skew the system in their favor.

The Paris agreement is not really about magically manipulating the global climate to take a certain shape in another century. That’s probably not even possible, given the size of the global climate, our current technological level and the fact that the planet has cyclically warmed and cooled for billions of years without any help from humans. We might as well just start throwing our virgin daughters to the the god Hephaestus in the same way the ancient Germans did to Ullr back when the glaciers were encroaching in the alpine meadow. It’ll have just about the same effect. And in reality, that is what we would be doing if we crippled the US economy to satisfy the Paris climate agreement … sacrificing our children’s future in order to appease an idol of man’s imagination. By choosing not to walk lockstep off an economic cliff, the United States keeps its options open. It can still try to affect the climate through environmental improvements, but without shipping trillions of dollars to the 3rd world that we might need to adapt to infrastructure damage and other issues tied to global climate change.

 

No Crisis in the Cheap Seats   Leave a comment

I’m less concerned about Donald Trump’s antics than most of the people I know. It might have something to do with my choosing to “throw my vote away” on a third-party candidate who couldn’t win rather than on either of the two bad choices available this time around.

Image result for image of a fan watching a hockey fightBut listening to the mass media hysteria about Trump’s antics, you could easily get the impression that America is is in the throes of a crisis. Democrats stonewall Congressional legislation and dream of impeaching Trump out of the presidency. The Republicans are in panic mode that they will lose their majorities in the House and the Senate in 2018 because Donald Trump is eating away at their credibility and legitimacy, which they need to get anything done in terms of ObamaCare, and tax and regulatory reform.

The media is in its own frenzy, especially in the left-of-center press. Day-in-and-day-out, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker and CNN assure the citizenry and readers and viewers around the world that the Trump presidency is in chaotic disarray, trending towards unconstitutional authoritarianism, and threatening the free press in the United State. He’s supposedly pushing the country to the verge of international conflicts in various parts of the world and acting as partner or puppet to Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Judging by this coverage, the people of the United States must be psychologically, socially and economically paralyzed by all the controversies, conflicts, and confusions enveloping all that is happening in Washington, D.C.

But … no … out here in real-world land, people are getting up every morning and going to work. Production goes on the same as before Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017. Goods roll out of the manufacturing plants and facilities and onto the retail outlets where the consuming public continues to compare, choose and buy.

Parents are still driving their young sportsmen and -women to recreational facilities to play organized team activities. Summer vacations are being planned. Construction sites are still busy building new residential homes, office buildings, and new or expanded manufacturing units.

Politics comes up in various conversations, and political discussions have become more tense, confrontational and argumentative in some circles in the Age of Trump. There are some people you just avoid, but for the most part, people talk about sports events, family activities, movies and all the other affairs of ordinary, daily life.

The vast majority of Americans are mostly uneffected by the events in Washington, D.C. Government taxes, regulates, intrudes, surveils, and in general makes life more frustrating, costly and less free than it could be and that leaves many of us wishing government would do less or none of these things, leaving people more liberty to go about their individual peaceful, personal and private business.

American society has not been sucked into a vortex of political paralysis because of Donald Trump’s personal antics and verbal rants on Twitter.  We don’t even care about his making up words on Twitter. The country is not frozen like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car due to the rhetoric from and rancor between the Republicans and Democrats in Congress.  Everyday life is bigger than politics, even in our epoch of the pervasive interventionist-welfare state and national security state.

Yeah, there is danger and damage from the enveloping straight-jacket of growing political paternalism and regulatory cronyism. Those things concern me quite a lot, but “society” generally remains greater than the “state,” though the balance between the two shifts in the state’s favor with every extension of political control and command over people’s personal, market and social interactions.

Outside of politics and the presidency, Donald Trump is a fast-talking, deal-making blowhard, who apparently has learned how to navigate the real estate markets to make millions. He has searched for market opportunities, but has also used government means to achieve his ends when they have been available to include in his “deal making.”

The world went on before Donald Trump became president and will continue after he has left that high political office, though perhaps in a less entertaining way. 

The supposed “crises” of political leadership, the anger and frustration that that  “man” is in the White House rather than “our” experienced, qualified, and forward-looking candidate who should have been the first woman president of the nation, has horrified “progressives,” shocked Congressional Democrats, and driven the left media into attack mode. But for most of us in our homes and workplaces, about our regular activities, it doesn’t matter at all.

Politics and government policies matter only insofar as the political battle lines over who runs various levels of government and what that power is used for have very real influences on the direction, form, and prospects for society. Especially in the 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy to forget that “society” is different from the “state.” What goes on in each is based on two distinct principles of human association: voluntary agreement versus compulsory direction.

In the competitive marketplace, human beings interact on the basis of peaceful and mutually agreeable association. In the political arena, human relationships are based on command and control, with those in governmental office able to impose coercive regulations, restrictions, and redistributions which the people are bound to obey or accept under the threat of force.

It is the private sector, however hampered and constrained by government, that produces the goods and services available to all of us.

In a free society with government limited to a few essential functions, primarily the protection of life, liberty and honestly-acquired property, the sphere of political presence and influence on society is limited and non-intrusive in the affairs of the large majority of people. A historian once noted that before the First World War, a British subject could live in London their whole life and never come into contact with the state beyond the constable walking his rounds and the occasionally inconvenience of jury duty.

Today the state is pervasively present in our daily affairs in numerous visible and invisible ways. We notice government when:

  • the cashier rings up the applicable sales taxes at the checkout counter
  • the government dictates the wage a businessman must pay a worker
  • the government dictates how a businesswoman may organize hers production activities and market a product
  • when we need zoning and building permissions from a local regulatory commission to repair or modify our home or other property
  • when we have to apply for a passport to leave the country and declare if we are returning to the United States with more than $10,000.

Less visible to most of us as we go about our daily affairs is the extent to which the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the forms of transportation we use, the design and content of many of the products we buy, or the services we use have all been restricted, commanded or controlled in some way by the vast network of governmental bureaucracies that surround and have power over everything we do.

But nonetheless while the encroaching presence of the state touches all of our lives, the “private sector,” though hampered and constrained by government, produces the goods and services available to all of us, and generates the employment opportunities which enable us to earn the income that allows us to buy all the things we wish to purchase from all the other producers in the marketplace.

The political crises and conflicts that fill the mainstream media concern the attempts of politicians, bureaucrats and special interest groups to interfere with the nature and normal flow of events and peaceful human interaction by introducing regulatory, fiscal and monetary policies that redirect society and the market from the course and patterns they would follow if determined by only all of those private individuals going about their daily market business.

Just think of the headlines of the last several months since Trump assumed the presidency of the United States. Put aside the personal dislike and disgust felt by Trump opponents. Focus just on the rhetoric and some of the policy proposals emanating from the Trump White House.

During the campaign, Trump asserted that he planned to remove the United States from the role of global policeman and restrict American foreign activities to an “America First” agenda. After the election, he brought on advisors who represent the traditional foreign interventionist outlook that has guided U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. Trump is just as interventionist in his actual policies as George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The professional diplomats, the network of foreign policy think tank and NGO “experts,” and the bureaucrats in the State Department who saw their role, influence and power threatened based on the statements and promises made by Trump during his campaign are now “leaking” about Trump’s statements and missteps in the arena of international affairs. What better way to undermine an administration that challenges their belief that they know best how the world should work. How dare this upstart threaten their enjoyment of all the benefits that come with being among the elite attempting to re-engineer society and create a global plan for humanity.

On the domestic front, the left-of-center media creates the impression that Donald Trump is about to end the re-distributive state. Libertarians ought to be cheering, but we’re not. Why not? In reality, Trump has no desire or intention of repealing the welfare state. He has made it clear that he wishes to preserve and protect Social Security, Medicare, a “reformed” version of “ObamaCare,” and implement a more school choice-friendly agenda with taxpayers’ dollars at the Department of Education.

Sounds like a mildly incremental approach in the right direction, but politicians, bureaucrats, and special interest groups that live off and control the existing system prefer to more intrusively extend it over society for their own personal and ideological ends and purposes. It’s all a matter who will control the levers of power and the direction the bureaus, agencies, and departments take, along with the hundreds of billions of dollars that come with those regulatory, redistributive and spending powers.

So the “national crisis” in Washington, D.C. is really a crisis between the “refined,” “polished,” and “progressive” political establishment versus a crude, rude, “stream of consciousness” crony capitalist who has the audacity to listen to the people who voted him into office. The “enlightened” can’t allow that because they KNOW how America should be ruled and guided for the good of humanity.

Take these two warring political factions out of the social nexus and America would do just fine. Do away with the interventionist-welfare state and there would be no power, privilege or plunder for these factions to fight over at the domestic level. There would be nothing to regulate, redistribute or manipulate. There would be no levers to pull or dials to turn to make people act and do things in ways they would peacefully chose if left to their own personal, social, and free market choices.

“America” is not paralyzed or in “crisis.” Americans are just going about their business everyday in their agreed-upon associations and exchanges, trying to the best of our ability to ignore and overcome that intricate web of government intervention that restricts, restrains and co-ops many of the choices and relationships we otherwise would freely pursue and undertake if government simply got off our backs and out of our way.  It is the politicians and political plunderers who are apoplectic and in chaos, not the ordinary people.

Anarchy Saturday   1 comment

Image result for map showing how many states are GOP controlled 2017I edge toward anarchy after I listen to PBS on Friday evenings. I do it to see what the progressive liberals think and it convinces me every time that progressive liberals are statist totalitarians who really want to enslave society to their lock-step policies.

Last night on Washington Week, some pundit was talking about how the Democrats in Congress are talking about impeaching President Trump, but are debating whether to do a “grand bargain” in which Mike Pence is allowed to remain a figurehead president, but some of them really feel they should install someone more to their liking.

They are openly discussing overthrowing the constitutional form of democracy we have operated under for 140 years and they think it’s a good thing.

I didn’t vote for President Trump, but I don’t think we had a good choice and when two major parties offer two deeply flawed candidates to an electorate that has been brainwashed to believe they have to vote for either the blue or the red candidate, this is what you get.

Image result for image of us civil war 21st centuryTrump has had the audacity to do some of the things his constituents wanted him to do., taking steps to dismantle some of the government structure that is strangling our economy and our freedoms. How dare he listen to those idiot hicks out there in the rural districts! That’s paraphrasing Mark Shields from PBS News Hour. David Brooks had the sense to couch it in partisan terms … that’s Trump’s constituency, but then he agreed with Mark that it was bad governance. According to him, President Trump should be taking his advice from the elites in Washington just like every other president has had the good sense to do since the Deep State killed John Kennedy for hinting he might stand up to them. I can’t believe I just typed that. I have resisted that “conspiracy theory” since college, but I’m seeing the evidence for it every day now that the press has actually admitted the Deep State exists. The same thing happened to Reagan when he spoke to a nation weary of government about dismantling the greater part of the State. Reagan lived and he stopped talking like that. Although he did some good after that, but he really wasn’t the president people elected him to be.

Image result for map showing how many states are GOP controlled 2017But the very fact that the media is now talking about the “Deep State” says libertarians are impacting this culture. You never heard anyone in the media talk about it other than to call it a “conspiracy theory” before Comey paraded in front of Congress and pulled the curtain back on a world most of us suspected existed.

The sad thing is that the progressive liberals and a fair number of progressive “conservatives” are embracing the Deep State as the great salvation of the country as embodied in the government they want. They’re going to bring down the illegitimate presidency of Donald Trump and then they get to install whichever dictator they want.

Yes, dictator, because anytime the democratic process (ameliorated by republican principles) is overthrown, whoever is installed at the head of state is a dictator because they have not been chosen by the people according to the rules that are in place. Gerald Ford was a dictator … a nice dictator without any power, but still a dictator.

Mike Pence would not be a dictator at the outset because he was at least selected by the constitutional election process. He’d have to ignore the will of the people who elected him to be deemed a dictator. So, of course, the left doesn’t want to allow the constitutional succession because they know who elected Mike Pence and it is unacceptable to them that those ignorant rural hicks should have a voice in government. Forget that to bypass him or to turn him into a figurehead with no power is a violation of the constitutional democratic process.

And yet that is openly discussed now on PBS.

Yeah, we’re in a civil war where we hurl ideas at one another instead of bullets. There are two ways this will go. Either we peacefully choose to loosen the ties that bind us or we start shooting at one another. I vote for Option #1.

Why do I think the country will choose Option #2 eventually?Another thing I saw on display last night was the absolute rage the urban dwellers feel toward the rural districts for not doing things “the right way”. Why aren’t they listening to their betters? We must get rid of Trump before the rural districts hand him a second term and permanently change the world.

Another thing I saw on display last night was the absolute rage the urban dwellers feel toward the rural districts for not doing things “the right way”. Why aren’t we listening to their betters? We must get rid of Trump before the rural districts hand him a second term and permanently change the world.

Yeah, that’s how people felt about Obama and you told us we were hysterical. We shouldn’t be afraid of the President 49% of the country voted against turning the country into Europe without the advice and consent of Congress and against the will of half the voters. We were told to wait our turn, but to know that conservativism was over, that we would never have a voice in national politics again because the country had finally gotten “smart” … as if $22 trillion in debt and the surveillance state was a great idea. How was that any different than now with Trump? The Teaparty got together in parks (with appropriate permits) and waved signs, trying to be heard (and utterly ignored by the Obama administration except to be ridiculed) and the culmination of that was the red tidal wave that has swept the country. Take a look at the election map that shows how many

How was that any different than now with Trump?

The Teaparty got together in parks (with appropriate permits) and waved signs, trying to be heard (and utterly ignored by the Obama administration except to be ridiculed) and the culmination of that was the red tidal wave that has swept the country. Take a look at the election map that shows how many states are under Republican leadership. The districts are rising up against the Capital and they’ve done it peacefully through the constitutional system.

How dare they! The districts can’t be in charge. We’re not smart enough to rule ourselves. Just send your resources and your young to the elite urban areas and shut up, sit down and accept that are betters are permanent in charge now.

This government is illegitimate not because someone unacceptable to the elite has won the presidency under the constitutional election system. It is illegitimate because it doesn’t ask individuals if they even want to be part of it. Nobody asked me if I wanted to pay an income tax. Nobody asked me if I wanted to support US military aggression across the globe. Nobody asked me if I wanted to curtail my ability to heat my home by being party to the Paris Accords. Nobody asked me if I wanted the State of Alaska to own the mineral wealth under my land. Nobody asked for my agreement on a myriad of restrictions that affect my life every day.

But I’m expected to act as if I agreed to those restrictions. If I don’t, I will be jailed or face other negative consequences. I’m expected to march to the polls every four years and vote my conscience and then see those who win (whether I voted for them or not) continue to institute policies that more and more restrict my liberty and my ability to support myself without government “assistance”. And I’m not the only one who thinks this is an illegitimate way to organize a society.

We see that right now in the violent hysteria of the leftists marching in our streets. They object to the changes that are occurring because they lost an election. We saw that when the Tea Party was peacefully protesting Obamacare, terrified of what happens when you hand government the power of life and death when we know how truly inefficient government is at everything else.

So, today, I’m ready to (PEACEFULLY) blow up the whole system and not really start all over again. Let people decide for THEMSELVES how they want to live. The blue zones will, if they mind their own business, quickly discover that the doings of the red zones don’t affect them at all so long as they agree to the terms of exchange for our resources.  They can get together with their neighbors and reform a government to their liking and periodically elect their own dictators according to their principles. They don’t need the rural districts to do that.

The red zones, divorced from the tyranny of the federal government, would probably mind their own business because that’s how they have tried to conduct their lives anyway. We’ll figure out how to build our own roads … we already have people here who know how to do that. Maybe we can still cooperate with one another in dealing with the greater world.

Let’s all go our own way and stop this madness before the blue zones decide to crush the red zones and we decide to fight back.

 

Brave New World?   Leave a comment

I’ve referenced 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 in the past as examples of dystopian novels that prophesied many of the problems with have today. The recent news is that 1984 is selling like hotcakes because, supposedly, the world thinks Donald Trump is Big Brother.

Well, now I want to turn my attention to Brave New World as a utopia I would not want to live in.

For the purpose of discussion, a utopia is defined as:

  1. an imaginary and indefinitely remote place
  2. a place of ideal perfect especially in laws, government, and social conditions
  3. an impractical scheme for social improvement

 Many Americans today would philosophically embrace Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World  as a utopia with its limitless drugs, guilt-free sex, perpetual entertainment and a genetically engineered society designed for maximum economic efficiency and social harmony.

Most people would also view George Orwell’s 1984 as a dystopian nightmare, with its terrifying existence under the iron fist of “Big Brother”.

And, yet the overwhelming message I get from Brave New World is that we don’t want to live there.

 

Aldous Huxley was born to academic parents, the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, a famous biologist and an enthusiastic proponent of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution who was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog”.  Huxley’s own father had a well-equipped botany lab where young Aldous began his education.  Given the Huxley family’s appreciation for science, it makes perfect sense that Brave New World began in the “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” where human beings are artificially grown and genetically predestined into five societal castes consisting of: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon.

Initially, the story centers on Bernard Marx, who is a slightly genetically flawed Alpha Plus psychologist with an inferiority complex due to his short stature.  By the end of the novel, however, the protagonist becomes a boy named “John the Savage” who is the bastard child of the “Director of the Central London Hatchery”, and a lady named Linda, who naturally birthed John on a remote American Indian Reservation.  Bernard discovers the two there and when he realizes their true identities, he arranges to fly them back to London in order to leverage his position with John’s biological father, the Hatchery Director.

Eventually, John’s “antisocial” tendencies gets him noticed by Mustapha Mond, one of ten “world controllers”.  A debate ensues between John and Mond who explains to the Savage that a stable society requires the controlled suppression of science, religion, and art. John argues that human life is not worth living without these things.

In Brave New World, the State achieves a harmonic equilibrium through the economic parity of production and consumption while utilizing eugenics to counterbalance the life and death of the citizens. Technology is employed as a means of control in lieu of any search for scientific, spiritual or ethical truth. In fact, these “truths” are considered a threat to the established order.  People are cloned in hatcheries to meet the needs of the State and trained into obedience through sleep-teaching. Dignity takes a backseat to happiness, morality is considered subversive, and emotions are regulated through the use of the drug, Soma, amid constant entertainment including superficial games and virtual reality venues called the “feelies”.  There’s no god or religion, but Henry Ford is lauded as a testament to corporate efficiency, assembly line production and rampant consumerism.

As in 1984, Brave New World addresses themes of government, orthodoxy, social hierarchy, economics, love, sex, and power and portrays propaganda as a necessary tool of government to shape the collective minds of the citizenry toward the specific goals of the state, which is stability, conformity and continuity.

In Brave New World, the “Bureaux of Propaganda” shares a building with the “College of Emotional Engineering” and all media outlets including radio, television, and newspaper. Much of the brainwashing of the citizens includes messaging to stay within their genetically predetermined castes and encourage the daily use of the drug, Soma, in order to anesthetize emotional agitation:

  • a gramme in time saves nine
  • A gramme is better than a damn
  • One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments
  • When the individual feels, the community reels.

 

 

Living in Brave New World’s urban centers means an empty existence, so Huxley envisioned the Helmholtz Watson character as a creator of “hypnopaedic” phrases designed to fill the mental and emotional vacuum left by the lack of knowledge:

 

Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfuly glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides, they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.

– BNW, Chapter 2, pg. 27

 

The citizens of Brave New World consisted of a rigidly held caste system based on genetic predetermination, which largely constrained information within a certain caste, but the government also filtered information and propaganda in accordance to the class ranking of their citizens. In Brave New World, the separate castes, except for the Epsilons who couldn’t read, received their own newspapers delivering specific propaganda for each class of society.

 

In Huxley’s vision of the future, the higher power of consumerism guided the people; complete with memorized short phrases designed to encourage the replacement of material items in lieu of repairing them; and, those wearing older clothes were shamed into purchasing new apparel:

  • Ending is better than mending. 
  • The more stitches, the less riches.

BNW, Chapter 3, pg. 49

In Huxley’s futuristic society, romantic love is discouraged, but sex is not. Brave New World treated sex as a “pressure relief valve” remaining constantly open in order to release any negative emotions like suspicion, distrust, jealousy, rage or envy.  “Everyone belonged to everyone else”, so there was no need for secrets. Even children were encouraged to sexually experiment guilt free.  Of course, sex was meant to be enjoyed only as a means of pleasure in Brave New World. Procreation was considered anathema by the people and beneath the dignity of mankind. This shows the power of the government to invade the most personal expressions between individuals.

 

The concept of “everyone belongs to everyone else” in Brave New World allowed intimate acts to be considered trivial recreation.

Although very different from 1984Brave New World shows the same end result of extreme philosophical collectivism.

 

I started out by saying that a lot of Americans would consider Brave New World to be a utopia worth inhabiting, but that I would not. I value individual autonomy, knowledge and the pursuit of truth. I don’t fear the pursuit of self-actualization. I don’t need anyone to hand it to me. When the government creates immoral laws, I’ve already determined my response to the ethical dilemmas that arise. I stand with the apostles Peter and John in an Acts 4 rebellion against government in honor of God. Yeah, I know what happened to them. I’ve also “skipped to the end” and know it will work out okay for those whom God has loved.

Huxley’s vision of the future removes the lid of a Pandora’s box of questions.  If you’re happy in your prison of pleasure, are you truly free or merely deluded? It is still a prison of man’s own making, formed by a government following its own directions toward something they consider “good. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and renewed with bad policies.

I’m reminded of a passage in 1984, when the administrator of torture tells the protagonist Winston Smith:

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

 – Obrien, ”1984”: part 3, chapter 3,

The power structures in both Brave New World and 1984 chose to diminish individual rights in order to achieve societal stability.  To the governments of both super-states, their citizens were considered as means to an end –that of the leaders’ continuation of power.

 

But, could this type of power consolidation occur in the nonfictional world?

Absolutely!

Study history, then go turn on all screened devices in your home. Tyrannical regimes have been centralizing and fortifying ramparts of power before Noah stepped off the Ark. Edward Snowden is just the latest to pull back the curtain on what’s going on behind the governmental scenes. If we don’t think it can happen here, we assure it will happen here.

Brave New World existed in a prosperous technological paradise, where the societal elite had unrestricted access to intercontinental transportation and private helicopters. Even the lower classes enjoyed pampered lives of perennial comfort, ceaseless entertainment, and eternal recreation. What could be so bad about that?

Today, the westernized cultures of the world, including some Asian nations like Japan and South Korea, increasingly resemble Brave New World, while they increasingly sacrifice individual freedom upon the altar of collectivism. Political correctness stifles free speech. Families suffocate beneath mountains of debt. United Nations Agenda 21 policies release a deluge of regulations causing extra-governmental autonomous innovation to collapse before the inexorable, gravitational pull of the hive-mind. Corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple have become the eyes and ears of Big Brother who is always watching, and ever listening. Yes, I am deliberately referencing 1984 there because I believe the promised utopia of Brave New World is the bait for dragging us into something more like 1984. People resist a dark future, but walk happily into comfort and ease. There’s a reason trappers disguise their traps and it’s not because it won’t hurt you when it closes.

Like in Brave New World, science now rules supreme over ethics as medical professionals sell fetus organs to advance the cause of genetic research.  The United States currently leads the world in illegal drug use and consumes near all of the global opioid supply.

Statistics show at least 35% of all internet downloads and at least 30% of all data transferred across the internet are porn-related.  Sex runs rampant throughout the modernized nations and sexually transmitted diseases have reached a record high in the United States.

 

 

The writings of Huxley, Bradbury, and Orwell resonate with the echoes of history and land on the shore of where we now stand. Propaganda spews from five corporations which control 90% of all mainstream media channels.  These companies toe the war-party line, wielding their great powers of disinformation to contort facts or censor the failures of the politicians they favor while, simultaneously, attacking their political enemies with lies and innuendo; even to the point of creating a phony election hacking narrative to satisfy their radioactive lust for war with nuclear-powered enemies.

 

Yet the irony fails to impress America’s young social justice warriors of the Millennial generation who have been raised in the public schools on a steady diet of socialism, political correctness, and participation trophies. They are so afraid of losing their “free” medical insurance that they can’t see how immaterial that is compared to the freedom they’ve never known.

They would prefer to live in the utopia of Brave New World rather than the dystopia of 1984, never recognizing that the one is the gateway into the other.

No government ever gives up power willingly. If it can hold power through bread and circuses, so be it, but when the time comes when people wake up in their velvet-lined prison and realize that they aren’t free and yearn to be so, that government will quickly take on a darker and less utopian visage, because no government ever gives up power willingly.

 

 

African Cities Are Being Built for Wealth Consumption Not Creation | Daniel Knowles   Leave a comment

A few days before Christmas, I had the most tense journey to an airport of my life. I was in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I had been reporting on the end of President Joseph Kabila’s term (he had refused to step down, despite being constitutionally limited to two terms).

My flight back to Kenya wasn’t due to take off until the mid-afternoon, but that morning my driver and I set out to the airport at 6 am. Along the Boulevard du 30 Juin, what used to be the city’s Belgian core, but is now a vast and smooth Chinese-built highway, rocks littered the road. We drove past lorries full of police officers in navy blue. On the corners, young men stood in small groups. Occasionally, we’d hear the pop of a teargas grenade being flung into the neighborhoods along the road.

Getting out of Kinshasa then was particularly stressful. But when I got inside the terminal and looked up at the forlorn departure boards, I was reminded that, even at the best of times, leaving Congo’s capital isn’t easy.

Urbanization Without Economic Growth

Kinshasa is only slightly better connected to the global economy than the North Pole.

This is Africa’s third biggest city. At 12 million, its population is bigger than London’s. Yet it has almost no connections to the outside world. On normal days, there are only 11 international flights out of Kinshasa per day. At Heathrow, the figure is around 1,400.

Image result for image of kinshasa slumsApart from the airport, the only other way into this vast megacity is the rickety ferry from neighboring Congo-Brazzaville. If you were extremely brave, you could try the road to the Atlantic Ocean. But that’s about it. Kinshasa can burn and most of the world doesn’t notice, because Kinshasa is only slightly better connected to the global economy than the North Pole.

And yet somehow it is one of the world’s fastest growing cities. Kinshasa is a particularly extreme example of how Africa is urbanizing without globalizing. Sixty years ago the whole of sub-Saharan Africa had no cities with a population of more than a million people. Now it has dozens.

But unlike the English peasants who moved to factory cities in the 19th century or Chinese ones in the 20th, the people moving to African cities are not moving to new global metropolises.

Africa’s urbanization is not driven by economic growth. Instead, people are moving to miserable mega-cities, with crumbling infrastructure and corrupt political systems, and which export almost nothing. Two-thirds of Africa’s urban population growth is accounted for by slums. Changing that may well be the biggest challenge facing African governments in the 21st century.

Glitz, Glam, and Slums

The problem with African cities is that they are generally built for the rich elite. Kinshasa is dotted with football stadiums, grand theatres, and spectacular government buildings – all the crumbling remains of president Mobutu Sese Seko’s attempt to build a pan-African capital.

Image result for image of kinshasa slumsAfrican cities are built for consuming, not creating, wealth.

In that, it is hardly alone. Dakar, in Senegal, has a ludicrous “African Renaissance” statue, built by North Korea. Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, has a growing number of glitzy housing estates for the wealthy, reclaimed from the lagoon. The most spectacular, Eko Atlantic, reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean by a Lebanese-Nigerian family, wants to be a new financial capital to rival Canary Wharf.

Yet all of these cities lack the basics. Roads are jammed up; power is erratic; there is often little in the way of sewage systems or clean water.

As a result, few competitive businesses want to move to African cities. Manufacturing is all but absent: the power and logistics are simply not good enough for factories. But neither are the service sector businesses that have boomed in Indian cities taking off, despite educated populations who speak English and French. The trouble is that the cost is simply too high.

According to one survey, of the 10 most expensive cities in the world, three are in Africa. Nobody expects New York City to be cheap, but that is because it has everything else a business could possibly want. N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, is pricey precisely because it has nothing a business needs.

Surviving on Natural Resources

Extreme inequality isn’t so much a product of the system; it is the cause of it.

What most African cities get by on is money from natural resources. As the Brookings Institution explains here, African cities are built for consuming, not creating, wealth.

The elite who capture oil or mining revenues have to live somewhere – and they concentrate their spending in cities. That is why the nightlife and restaurant scene in Kinshasa is so good, even though nothing else works. It’s the main thing the city produces. The poor flock in, hoping to feed on the scraps. Extreme inequality isn’t so much a product of the system; it is the cause of it.

Elsewhere in the world, cities which work well are expensive precisely because they are productive. London costs a fortune in part because so many good jobs are based there. What cities create is the possibility of specialization.

In a village, most people have to be farmers; in a city, you can do anything. And the wealthiest cities in the world are part of a network. As long as the developing world’s cities remain turned in on themselves, they will never be a part of that. Globalization, which is making the rest of the world’s metropolises more pleasant, exciting (and expensive) places to live, will pass Africa by.

Source: African Cities Are Being Built for Wealth Consumption Not Creation | Daniel Knowles

Is Libertarianism Done?   1 comment

I’m a latecomer to conscious libertarianism. I think I probably always had libertarian leanings — I supported Alaska succession in the 80s and I was always questioning my fellow liberal students outrageous claims for the efficacy of socialism. It just didn’t seem to be working for the actual socialists in the USSR, China, etc., and I felt the need to point that out, which always pissed off its defenders. I remain a committed nonpartisan, but I no longer see myself as conservative and now don’t flinch at the idea of calling myself a libertarian. In a way, my journey toward libertarianism mirrors the American journey in the same direction.

Related imageHistorically, libertarianism formed as a distinct ideological movement in postwar America from a set of “radical” ideals vastly disrepected by most American politicians and intellecturals. It was nurtured by small think tanks, struggling publications and a handful of economists who concentrated on keeping the ideas alive among their own group.

 

Libertarians understand they are still largely strangers in a strange land when it comes to the American political scene, struggling for impact in a world they didn’t create. Libertarianism is still a minority idea and libertarians are still embroiled in a difficult and long-term fight to influence political ideology and practice in America. The schizophrenia of the Libertarian Party stems from that difficulty, but most libertarians (small “l” deliberate) understand that we’re not taking over the world next week.

Image result for image growth of libertarianismStill Americans have become much more aware and accepting of the overarching principles of libertarianism since the turn of the 21st century. As government continues to grow and become more intrusive, the choice inherent in the libertarian vision of free minds and free markets has found fertile ground throughout American culture.

How do I know that? Politico recently declared the libertarianism is dead, supposedly because Trump won the 2016 election, and Forbes has started suggesting libertarianism could be more successful if only it would narrow its vision a little and become more like the Republican Party.

Politico makes a good point as far as it goes. It did look like the GOP was headed toward a more libertarian-leaning candidate like Sen. Rand Paul before Donald Trump’s bold political entrepreneurship proved so surprisingly successful, but the swiftness with which the electorate picked up the populist rhetoric suggests GOP voters might not really be small-government at heart.

Except ….

Let me suggest that people were so fed up with the Democratic Party that anything to the right of Hillary looked good and the media worked hard to assure the American voters thought Paul couldn’t possibly win.

Image result for image libertarians take over world leave aloneUltimately, though, libertarianism is an outsider political movement of people who reject both major parties, so their failure to elect a libertarian-like candidate in the GOP shouldn’t be viewed as a long-term failure.  Politico‘s article is merely a snapshot of a moment in time, not the final fate of an ideology. Libertarianism has yet to win the White House. Who cares? Who would really want to win the White House when the treasury is $20 trillion in debt and the foundations of the economy has huge cracks in it? Let the GOP preside of the coming crash. Libertarianism has made greater inroads with a greater number of prominent politicians and more acceptance with Americans. The Libertarian Party, despite nominating a statist for vice president, nearly quadrupled its highest previous vote total. If things go the way I think they will go with current leadership, libertarians are going to come out looking like prophets within the next decade.

If libertarians are right that our government is overtaxing, overspending, overregulating, and overextending its reach both into the lives of its citizens and across the globe in ways that make many people’s lives worse and our future more perilous, then American history will eventually reveal that the ideals of libertarianism are neither dead nor needing extensive pruning, despite what Forbes seems to believe.

The purpose of an organized minority ideological movement such as libertarianism is to do the research, education, advocacy, and storytelling that might help Americans see that its ideas have merit. Consider the success of some libertarian ideas:

A large plurality of Americans now believe:

  • the drug war is wrong and unproductive
  • stealing property from citizens without charging them with a crime is unjust
  • market and price mechanisms need to play a role in a sensible and affordable health care market
  • US foreign interventions frequently sow the seeds for the next “necessary” foreign intervention.

 

Yeah, those were all originally libertarian ideas that are now commonly held by ordinary people.

Libertarianism certainly hasn’t become a mainstream political movement yet, but the fact that Forbes and Politico are writing articles about the movement suggests it is not failing or fading, but achieving its own kind of victory in political culture. Where that leads … we don’t know yet, but growth in awareness suggests people might be waking up from the coma of mainstream politics.

Drain the FBI’s Swamp   4 comments

When President Trump fired FBI chief James Comey, I don’t think I was alone in giving a small cheer of support. Comey’s refusal to forward charges against Hillary Clinton almost made me vote for Donald Trump (I didn’t, it was just a momentary flirt with the idea), because I believe firmly that the elite of this country should face the same penalties as the rest of us and there are many ordinary people serving decades for mishandling classified information in less egregious ways than Hillary Clinton. The United States is not Europe where anyone with the right pedigree can buy their way to immunity. Former First Ladies who have bought their way up the political food chain should be held to the same standard as current presidents and low-level Navy operatives. If Hillary Clinton is allowed to skate, then Bradley Manning should be released and Edward Snowden should be given a full pardon … and a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. While we’re at it, we should grant Julian Assange American citizenship and give him the key to Oval Office bathroom.

Image result for image of the fbi in a swampI’m not entirely kidding. Snowden and Assange are personal heroes of mine for telling the American people what our government is doing behind our backs.

Firing Comey looks a bit like a tiny step toward draining the DC swamp and I applaud that. Maybe it will inspire more such forays into therapeutic political land sculpting.

But more than just getting rid of a single swamp critter, the firing of James Comey provides a welcome chance to dethrone the FBI from its catbird’s seat in American politics and life. It’s not a Twitter fantasy. The FBI has a long record of both deceit and incompetence.

Five years ago, Americans learned that the FBI was teaching its agents that the bureau “has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” That we didn’t know about it before doesn’t negate the fact that has been the FBI’s underlying culture since its creation.

J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI from 1924 until his death in 1972. He built a revered agency that utterly intimidated officials in Washington. In 1945, President Truman wrote: “We want no Gestapo or secret police. FBI is tending in that direction. … This must stop.” Apparently, nobody listened to President Truman, because the bureau’s power soared after Congress passed the Internal Security Act of 1950. This authorized massive crackdowns on suspected “subversives”. Hoover compiled a list of more than 20,000 “potentially or actually dangerous” Americans who could be seized and locked away at the president’s command. “Congress secretly financed the creation of six of these (detention) camps in the 1950s,” noted Tim Weiner “Enemies: A History of the FBI” (2012).

From 1956 through 1971, the FBI’s counterintelligence programs (COINTELPRO) conducted thousands of covert operations to incite street warfare between violent groups, to get people fired, to smear innocent people by portraying them as government informants, and to cripple or destroy left-wing, black, communist, white racist and anti-war organizations. FBI agents also busied themselves forging “poison pen” letters to wreck activists’ marriages.

Image result for image of the fbi in a swampCOINTELPRO was exposed only after a handful of activists burglarized an FBI office in a Philadelphia suburb, seized FBI files, and leaked the damning documents to journalists. No FBI agents were jailed and few were fired stemming from this disclosure.

Maybe not surprisingly for a “bulletproof” agency, the FBI haughtiness was on display April 19, 1993, when its agents used armored vehicles to smash into the Branch Davidians’ sprawling compound near Waco, Texas. The tanks intentionally collapsed much of the building on top of the huddled residents. After the FBI pumped the building full of CS gas (banned for use on enemy soldiers by the Chemical Weapons Convention), a fire ignited that left 80 children, women and men dead. You don’t have to be a Branch Davidian supporter to find these actions deplorable.

The FBI swore it was blameless for the conflagration, but six years later, an investigation revealed that the FBI fired incendiary cartridges into the building before the blaze erupted. No FBI agents were penalized or prosecuted for their fatal assault against American civilians.

The FBI also lost track of a key informant at the heart of the cabal that detonated a truck bomb beneath the World Trade Center in 1993.

Before the 9/11 attacks, the FBI dismally failed to connect the dots on suspicious foreigners engaged in domestic aviation training. Though Congress had deluged the FBI with $1.7 billion to upgrade its computers, many FBI agents had old machines incapable of searching the Web or emailing photos. One FBI agent observed that the bureau ethos is that “real men don’t type. …The computer revolution just passed us by.”

The FBI’s pre-9/11 blunders “contributed to the United States becoming, in effect, a sanctuary for radical terrorists,” according to a 2002 congressional investigation.

In the late 1990s, the FBI Academy taught agents that subjects of investigations “have forfeited their right to the truth.” This doctrine helped fuel pervasive entrapment operations after 9/11.

Image result for image of the fbi in a swampTrevor Aaronson (The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism) estimated that only about 1% of the 500 people charged with international terrorism offenses in the decade after 9/11 were bona fide threats. Thirty times as many were induced by the FBI to behave in ways that prompted their arrest.

The bureau’s informant program extends across many facets of American society. It bankrolled an extremist right-wing New Jersey blogger and radio host for five years before his 2009 arrest for threatening federal judges. The FBI crime lab is infamous for its perpetual false testimony. It uses National Security Letters and other surveillance tools to illegally vacuum up Americans’ personal info. It has whitewashed every shooting by an FBI agent between 1993 and 2011.

The FBI’s power has rarely been effectively curbed by either Congress or federal courts. In 1971, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs declared that the bureau’s power terrified Capitol Hill:

Our very fear of speaking out (against the FBI) has watered the roots and hastened the growth of a vine of tyranny. … Our society … cannot survive a planned and programmed fear of its own government bureaus and agencies.

Boggs vindicated a 1924 American Civil Liberties Union report warning that the FBI had become “a secret police system of a political character” — a charge that supporters of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would have alternatively cheered last year.

If Trump fired Comey to throttle an investigation into Trump administration criminality, that is an impeachable offense. I am not a Trump supporter and I don’t think Mike Pence could do a worse job. That doesn’t negate the fact that Comey’s fall provides an excellent opportunity to take the FBI off its pedestal and place it where it belongs — under the law.

No, I’m not saying disband it … at least not yet, but it is past time to cease venerating a federal agency whose abuses have perennially menaced Americans’ constitutional rights. If the Trump administration is truly serious about draining the swamp, this is a good place to start.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Echoes of Life, Love and Laughter

S.R. Mallery's AND HISTORY FOR ALL

Everything Historical And Much More...

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Blog with a view - on books, music, humour and health

The Lil' Mermaid

Dream. Believe. Achieve

susanne matthews

Living the Dream

MomzillaNC

A blog about issues, life in general, and being a mom, and sharing my poetry.

Felix Alexander Writer

Storyteller Philosopher Poet

YOURS IN STORYTELLING...

Steve Vernon - Nova Scotia writer, storyteller and master of the booga-booga

Dreaming In Blushh

You Are In A Beauty Contest Every Day Of Your Life💕 Beautiful.Colorful.You

Breaking the rules

with a smile

Aurora

Where the world begins

Twisted Thoughts

Pardon my Random Thoughts

Missing Happy

My Journey Through Depression

lonelyboy1977

Your Future Favourite Fantasy & Science Fiction Author

Commonplace Fun Facts

a collection of trivia, fun facts, humor, and interesting notions.

Lincoln Life Blog

FOR GREAT CONTENT WITH PASSION

Bittersweet Sensations

Where the aftertaste of your feelings last

Writing With A Side Of Life

Living life and following my passions with humor to get through the day!

%d bloggers like this: