Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why the World is Doomed Part Four

Responsibility. The thing missing from a vast majority of the planet's citizens is Responsibility. There was a time, when people took responsibility for failure. An example was Dwight D. Eisenhower's letter taking sole responsibility if the invasion on D-Day had failed.

Harry Truman famously said that "The Buck Stops Here". Fast forward a couple generations, and the buck never got here is the most common excuse. Reagan embraced that when the Iran Contra mess fired up, and he may have been telling the truth. But something he said, something he hinted at gave the subordinates the idea that this would be something the boss wanted, but didn't want to know about. The era of Plausable Deniability had been born long before Reagan was elected.

Plausible Deniability is the technique where subordinates supposedly read the mind of a leader, and do what he can't order done. In other words, they take it upon themselves to violate some rule, regulation, law, or policy. They do so convinced that the boss wants it, but is unable to say he wants it. I've never liked that technique. The idea is if or when you get caught, you fall on your sword for your boss. Compare that with Ike who demanded absolute command of the invasion forces, the position of Supreme Commander was created for him. The British manner was one of a committee. Ike said one Commander, one voice. That way, if it failed, it would not be down to pointing fingers, it would be him, nobody else, that was responsible.

Part of the problem, is expectation. We have come to expect that our leaders will make no mistakes. The reality is that everyone makes mistakes. But to keep the boss looking perfect, we must make sure that no ill conceived or executed actions are attached to him. This trend trickles down to the point where even new recruits begin their journey in the Military with a Zero Defect mentality permiating the military. A mistake ruins a career, and could end up with you in Prison. So the mentality among people everywhere is to lie, instead of admitting a mistake honestly. They know mistakes are not forgiven, so they might as well lie about it.

We as a people need to learn the difference between an honest mistake, and an concious decision. There is a difference, and as an example, lets use driving a car. A concious decision is when you run a red light. You knew you were not supposed to do that. You made the decision to go for it, deciding that you could probably get away with it. An honest mistake is different. Let's say you live in Georgia, where turning right on a red light is legal. You go to New York City, where it is illegal. Unaware of this prohibition, you make a right turn on a red light. That was an honest mistake, you thought it was legal, and safe, and where you are from it is. You were not aware that it was a problem. We should, as a people, forgive honest mistakes. They were made with the best of intentions, not in an effort to get away with something.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Republican answer to the Fiscal Cliff

The arguments in the press are pretty simple. The Republicans are going to have to give up something. Higher taxes for the rich, and several other things they object to. After all, Obama won.

So if you're going to surrender, don't debate the specifics of what you're going to do. Just give up.

House Republicans, pass a bill giving the President four years of the following. Tax rates at any level he decides to set them at. Let him raise taxes to any rate, on any income group he desires. Let him close whatever loopholes he feels are ill advised. Let him unilaterally raise the Debt Limit another three trillion dollars. Since you won't demand a budget anyway for fear of shutting down the Government, and being blamed for it, give him the right to budget anything, anyway he wants.

Limit the unilateral dictatorial powers this way. At the end of the four years, unless Congress votes to maintain the rate set by the President, they return to the tax rates effective right now automatically. The President can not create new tax loopholes or exemptions, and the debt limit may not be raised again before January 2017. Finally, make it possible for Congress to over-rule him only with a 2/3 majority veto. If through some miracle, for the first time in history, someone is taxed into prosperity, then Obama is a hero.

Then Obama can't blame us for the economy. He can't blame us for the budget problems, he can't blame us for the debt. He can't blame anyone but himself. When the President complains about Republicans and the economy, hold up your hands and point to the unilateral power the President has.

There is no saving the beast. Nobody is going to reduce spending. Even Romney wouldn't have. So out of control spending will continue. Nobody is going to seriously fix the budget, and the economy will suffer from higher taxes.

The debate has been lost, because nobody is listening to common sense. Like children who are told of a boiling pot, the people are going to have to learn that there is no such thing as a free lunch by getting burned. And this way, the one doing the burning is the savior, President Barack Obama. Children learn what hot is by touching the pot and thereby satisfying their curiosity. They're going to have to learn that Socialism sucks the hard way as well.

Why the world is doomed Part Three

Politically driven Science. No matter where you look in history, you can find politically, or superstision driven science. From tribes throwing virgins into Volcanos to prevent their eruption to slaughtering cats to get rid of the evil spirits that were causing the plague. It isn't just ancient history either. A hundred years ago, the theory of Eugenics was widely accepted by scientists in most every nation. Today, this theory is more or less discredited, but like all scientific theories, it isn't far from a comeback.

Today one of the politically driven science examples is Environmentalism. It really began with Silent Spring and the banning of DDT. That the science behind Silent Spring was questionable, and the impact is obvious with nearly a million deaths from Malaria every year. But the "science" of Environmentalism was off and running, and effecting our lives via the Political implications.

Global Cooling became Global Warming which in turn became Global Climate Change. The problem with this science is that the reality, the facts, never meet the projections. When there is a news story that says the facts are NOT meeting the estimates, it is very difficult to find. Yet even when more data keeps coming in saying that Global Warming is NOT happening at anything near the projections, the press continues to harp the Global Warming IS happening meme. A month after that report came out the Press, even on Fox News was talking about how bad Hurricane Irene was and why it proved Global Warming was happening.

Global Warming believers have taken the science, and turned it into a Religion. Religions promise a better future, often while you are dead, for behaving a certain way. For Global Warming, that promise is "sustainability". This is where we are in balance with the earth and do not take from it more than we absolutely must.

The problem is that the believers legislate fixes to the environment. If you challenge the fixes, instead of heretic, you are called a Denier. Ethanol. That is the process of turning food into a less efficient less powerful gasoline substitute. No politician with dreams of national office can oppose Ethanol. The first primary is held in Iowa, and no one who has opposed Ethanol need apply, they won't win. If you have a history of voting against Ethanol, don't bother showing up. When you lose the first one, you are behind the curve, and an underdog. Your chances are very slim that you will be able to pull a win out of the primaries. All because of Ethanol and the junk science that says it works fine as a way to extend gasoline. We dare not challenge it, because we will pay in the primary.

The political left creates lists of those who deny that Global Warming is happening, and campaign to get those people fired from their jobs for the crime of being a heretic. We shall not discuss the data, we shall not discuss the facts. We shall punish those who deny the rightness of the science. We shall punish those who question the wisdom of the science.

If the actual results don't match the promised doom and gloom, don't worry it will come, just a little later than we estimated, and it will be way worse than we promised before.

Mankind likes to think they have all the answers. In reality, we barely understand the question. But that's not about to stop Politically driven science. Think about it. Oat Bran was good for your heart, and then a few years later another study said it didn't do squat. Wine good for you, bad for you, good for you. Every other year, it's good for you. In between, bad again. I've lost track of all the scientific theories that have been promoted, and then discredited quietly.

Politically driven science will be the death of many more over the next generations. I only hope the future is wiser than the present, or the past. Because right now, I'd say we were doomed.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Why the world is doomed Part Two

Economy. The economy of the world is inexorably tied to credit. That isn't necessarily bad. Borrowing money to purchase something too expensive to afford otherwise is a good thing, providing you are able to pay for it in a reasonable time. The obvious example, borrowing money to pay for a house. In twenty, or thirty years, you have the house, the Bank has made some money to pay the investors and those who saved some money and expected to be paid interest for that savings.

The obvious catch to credit is the ability to pay it back before the end of life of the purchase. A car for example. A good car can reasonably be expected to last for 100,000 miles barring an accident or damage to the car with minor repairs. Minor being defined as a few small parts or wearable items like tires. Major being defined as an entire engine. So the car, if paid off in five years, would still be drivable assuming 10,000 miles per year at the end of the credit term.

At some point however, credit becomes a problem. For houses, that point is where the term is so long you'll never pay it off. As an example, before the housing collapse, the lenders were writing terms of sixty years. There is no way you can reasonably expect to live long enough to pay the house off. So you have little or no hope of ever getting out of debt. The interest payments are triple what the house is worth, and you aren't even paying anything but a token amount on the principal for the first half of the loan, that's thirty years for the sixty year loan.

The modern economy calls for money to be in motion. The consumer buys, so the producer can produce, and employ people. The producer buys materials to make the product, which creates more jobs, which also means more buyers of products and services. In other words, you buy a TV set, the store has to have someone employed to sell it to you, and to restock another TV set. A trucker has to carry the TV to the store, a warehouse worker has to load it on the truck. You see the pattern right? A dozen jobs just to sell you your TV set. Granted, those dozen people may spend only a few seconds on your TV, but you are but one of thousands doing much the same thing.

All of those workers are buying things too. Thus money keeps circulating like blood in your body. The recent collapse of Hostess is a good example. Not only are the 18,500 company jobs affected. But thousands more around the factory are affected too. Diners that catered to the employees of the bakery will be closed due to lack of business. Nobody is working there, nobody is going to be going to lunch nearby.

This slowing is like a blood clot in your leg. The circulation slows, and stops. The economy is slowing, and will stop unless a way can be found to increase the circulation of the money. That means more jobs, more people working, and more money circulating.

For the last several generations. We have been operating our nation on credit. We borrow money to operate, that is to say we sell T-Bills, or Bonds to get money. Those bonds are for a set term, five, ten, even twenty years. People who buy them obviously expect to be paid back, with interest, at the end of the term. Like buying your house, this is on its face, not a bad thing. But when you are borrowing money like that constantly, you end up in  a position where you can never get out of debt. Right now, our national debt is over sixteen trillion dollars, and climbing.

When an individual is living on credit, eventually the bank realizes the problem, and won't lend you any more money. The same thing happens to corporations, and the same thing happens to Governments. When an individual or company runs out of money, and can't get more credit, they go bankrupt. When a government does it, they tend to collapse, and in a rather spectacular manner.

There are a finite number of rich people to buy those T-Bills. Even if those finite numbers of rich took all their money, they could not buy all the T-Bills offered to fund the Government. To that end, the Federal Reserve has been buying the Treasury Bonds. Now even the Federal Reserve does not have enough money to do that. So they've been borrowing money from the Treasury, to buy bonds from the Treasury, and this way fund the Government. In other words, they are printing the money, creating it out of thin air. We call this technique Quantitative Easing also known as QE.

Eventually, the Treasury will have to pay off on those T-Bills, and in the case of QE that is so the Federal Reserve can pay back the money they borrowed from the Treasury to balance the books. The United States Government can't pay back $16 trillion with a annual budget of roughly $3 trillion. There simply put, just isn't enough money. The Gross Domestic Product, which means every single dollar made by every individual, business, and government in 2011 was $15 Trillion. So even if we taxed every single person, place, or thing at 100% we could not pay off our debt.

So we can't pay the money back. It is impossible. So what will happen in the future? Eventually the Government will have to raise interest rates to try and make some of the money up, in other words, inflate their way out of the disaster. That will lead to more slowing of the economy, which will lead to more Quantitative Easing, and more creating money out of thin air. This was what happened to the Weimar Republic and Zimbabwe.

History tells us of people in the Weimar Republic using wheelbarrows to carry a pile of worthless money to the store to buy a loaf of bread. In this picture, you can see a man jotting on the million mark notes. Think about that for a moment. It was cheaper to write on the money, than to use it to buy paper.

The monetary experts swear that they can control this by removing the QE from the economy at just the right moment to prevent hyperinflation. Despite the fact that it has never been done that way in history, they're convinced of their own genius. Historically, anytime man declares he is in absolute control of anything, it bites him in the behind.

So one day, perhaps soon, it will be cheaper to wipe your behind with the dollars, than to buy toilet paper as evidenced by this picture from Zimbabwe during the early days of the hyperinflation. This man is not buying a house, but merely buying dinner. That is roughly 6 million Zimbabwe Dollars. That was in 2008, with the compounded inflation, that same stack of money wouldn't pay for the toothpick today.

The economy is doomed, because Government can't learn what you and I already know. You can't spend more then you bring in indefinitely.

Why the world is doomed Part One

Before I can explain the future, I have to explain the present, and the past. So this thread is intended to be the first in a multi part examination of social situations.

Before we begin, we must accept certain things as true. First, the Media has taken over the job of propaganda. I know, that is a common complaint, but I can sustain that theory. This Holiday season, I've turned on the news, and read more on the web. One thing is absent. There are no stories about Homelessness. Normally, the homeless would be leading the news shows. Normally we would hear about homeless shelters filled to capacity, even emergency shelters being opened with the cold weather. We would see stories about how the staff and volunteers are up at six in the morning to cook the hundreds of Turkey's that are needed for the Thanksgiving dinners. We aren't hearing any of those.

So I am expected to believe that with record numbers of foreclosures in this nation, nobody is homeless? With record high unemployment, the people aren't hurting at all. Does anyone else remember the news stories about "Funemployment?"

Every day in the Bush Administration, we would hear about the death toll from the Wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan. Now, there are no news stories about those places, much less the wars, and forget learning about the death toll. Even Fox News, the hated right wing cable channel, doesn't do these stories.

The media instead ignores these stories, keeping the populace entertained by titillating tales of sexual innuendo and gossip. The media ignores Fast and Furious, which was by the standards of a century ago, an act of war. They ignore the many questions of Benghazi and the death of four Americans. They ignore story after story. They do enjoy the story of the CIA Director former Army General Patraeus because it includes lots of juicy sex and plenty of attractive women behaving badly.

The media ignores the implications of Quantitative Easing. They ignore the doctored unemployment numbers. They ignore the stagnating economy. The media isn't reporting on anything that might affect the faith of the people. That word faith is used deliberately. They don't care if you believe in God, or not. The Media is far less interested in what deity you profess to have faith in. They want everyone to have faith in GOVERNMENT. So no negative stories that would affect the faith in the omnipotence of Government are run.

Local stations in New York were replete with stories of suffering from Hurricane Irene. Nationally, not much was mentioned. The death toll was mentioned in passing, barely. The image was one of competence of the Federal Government in handling the situation, creating the image of incompetence in the Republican Bush, and awesome ability in President Obama.

The first thing you must accept is that the Media, even Fox News, denounced often as a radical Right Wing nutjob channel, are all involved in some level, to some extent, in the Propaganda effort.

Watch your local news, the national news. Then examine the facts online. iCasualties has the war dead, but you'll never see it on the news. Judging from the National news, none of those people died, or their deaths were not newsworthy.

The media is the willing propaganda tool.

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