Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Not Greed - It's How Business Survives the Pressure to Centralize

(c) 2012 by Tom King

A friend sent me this link to an article about the practice of medical systems buying up doctors' private practices.  http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/12/23/4505491/as-hospitals-buy-practices-billed.html

He wrote above the article:  "Pure Unadulterated Greed". 

The article started like this:

By Fred Schulte
Center for Public Integrity
After Vermont hospitals started buying up local doctors’ practices, state Sen. Kevin Mullin of Rutland began hearing complaints that some patients were paying much more for routine care.

I disagree. I don't think it's so much greed as it is the added cost of centralizing any bureaucracy. Nobody seems to understand that any time you add layers on top of any organization, that those layers cost money.  I don't think the medical systems are necessarily greedy any more than are the doctors who sell their practices.  I think it's just the good old capitalist, free market system's response to outside pressures on independent physicians.  For years we've been hearing that independent physician's practices are disappearing.  Where did people think they were going anyway?

There are very good reasons for doctors to sell their practices and very good reasons for hospitals to buy them. Spiraling regulatory requirements layered on willy nilly by the government and mounting medical malpractice lawsuits, driven by TV lawyers (the real parasites in my opinion) promising to win the sue 'em till they squeal lottery for anybody whose doctor visit didn't turn out the way they had imagined.

Let's face it, doctors want to practice medicine, not accounting, law or tag-you're-it with government regulators.  To doctors, selling their practices to large medical systems with teams of accountants and lawyers and compliance officers just makes good sense.

And yes, it drives up your doctor bills.  How else are they going to pay for all those new federal employees Obama just hired and all those commercials by all those ambulance chasing lawyers and all those tax accountants it takes nowadays to keep a medical practice going.  It's much easier for doctors to sell out and have the gigantic health care system protect them from all those bureaucratic predators and buying practices is a way for health care systems to pay for all the accountants, lawyers and compliance officers they need to run their hospitals. 

THAT's why I find centralizing or worse yet, governmentalizing any business sector to be a very BAD idea.  I don't like paying for people who basically sit in offices generating paperwork for each other, making things ever more complex and hard to do and charging us poor schmuck consumers for services I never asked for and personally find worse than useless.

Just my opinion.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

What Next? Road Control Laws?

Without roads people wouldn't be able to drive
cars anywhere so they wouldn't have car
accidents anymore and the middle class would
be preserved - right?

I took two graduate courses in statistics and research. One thing I learned is that Benjamin Disraeli’s purported comment about statistics is true.  There are, in fact, “Lies, damned lies and statistics.”  Used properly statistics can be quite useful. They show us which medications work, what problems our society needs to solve and Mark Twain’s overall negativity at different stages in his life.  The study was based on the number of times he used a form of the word “NO” in Huckleberry Finn vs. Tom Sawyer.  It’s burning issues like that now that really show off the power of statistics. 
We are constantly showered with meaningful statistics on the news, in books, magazines and even in our Sabbath sermons. For some reason we accept cold mathematical statistics as proof over almost any other form of persuasive data. After all, how can math lie?
Well you might ask.  The truth is, math doesn’t lie.  People lie. They just use math as a tool to support the lies.  One group uses statistics to prove that gun control doesn’t work.  Another uses statistics to prove that it does.  Throw in a few logical sounding anecdotes and you’ve got enough proof for your average drive-by consumer of information - whichever he happens to hear that most closely meets his already preconceived notions.
I stumbled across an interesting set of statistics from the WHO today that I’d like to throw out there for your consideration and to point out how you can get a wrong-headed conclusion from any statistic.  I was looking at worldwide causes of death as parsed out by the income levels of the country in question.  Of the top 10 leading causes of death, the first nine are all forms of disease. The slaughter caused by so-called “natural causes” runs to a staggering 28.32 million deaths annually. We don’t get to the first non-natural cause of death till we get to #10: Road traffic accidents.  More than 1.21 million people die as a result of road-related accidents.
These roads must be stopped.  Ah, but “No!” says the chairman of the American Automobile Association. “Roads do not kill people.  People using roads kill people.” 
Immediately the chairman of the Amelgamated Society to Stop Highways and Open Lanes from Existing shoots back, “Well that’s just absurd. Everybody knows that when the nation of Lower Bulemia banned roads altogether, road-related accidents dropped by 46%.
Next thing you know, you’ve got some fool in Congress sponsoring a National Roads Limitation Act, especially after he sees polls that say that 52% of people in his district support the idea.
Or better yet, let the progressive socialists get hold of it.  Did you know that according to WHO, road accidents are highest among middle-income nations; ranking seventh in total deaths in middle income nations. Road accidents don't even show up in the top ten causes of death among poor and rich nations.  So, now roads are obviously a threat to the middle class.  Amid much hand-wringing and cries of “What shall be done to save our middle class from all the road-related carnage?”  The media starts pouring on stories about how roads are at war with the middle class and they lay the blame at the feet of the construction companies that build roads.  If it wasn’t for their incessant greed which drives this road-building madness, thousands of innocent middle class people would still be alive and actually going to the polls themselves to vote for Democrats.
“I know,” some bright would-be member of central planning says. “Let’s get rid of roads and we can all ride trains.”  The reasoning is like this.  Poor people don’t drive so that’s why road accidents are fewer in poor nations.  Rich people don’t need to go anywhere on roads, the central planner reasons, because everything gets brought to them by the middle class and the poor, so they don't need to drive on roads. Either that, or they fly helicopters, take their yachts or hire chauffeurs. In any case, the top 1% don’t need to use roads which road accidents don’t make top ten list. 

Therefore, using our best Socratic logic, as learned watching David Letterman on late night TV, road accidents makes the top ten death toll in middle income nations because:
  1. Using roads is what kills so many middle class people. 
  2. If these roads didn’t exist, middle class people couldn’t use them.
  3. If middle class people could no longer use roads and used trains instead then…..
  4. The death rate by road related accidents would go down if we passed a law banning roads.
Voila!  Something gets done. A law is passed.  Passing a law is always the solution step on any progressive's list of logical reasons we must do something about anything that shows up in the news. Remember the progressive creed. Never waste a good crisis! And to the progressive socialist, passing a law is always the thing that must be done since passing laws, according to their creed, solves everything.

Of course, nothing ever actually gets done about reducing the number of roads cause to the surprise of central planning, people actually need roads and trains are too danged expensive.  A new federal bureaucracy gets created, however.  It becomes more costly to build roads what with all the new paperwork.  The existing roads deteriorate because instead of maintaining them, the funding is going toward paying for the new road reduction regulations.

And the final kick in the teeth - death by train wrecks rise.
But, what about the dingbat who thought the whole thing up? Well he gets himself re-elected because the media trumpets said dingbat’s spectacular success at getting “important” legislation passed and nobody bothers to ask whether any of his legislation did any actual good.
And civilization careens merrily on down its poorly maintained roads toward a certain destruction of its own making.  God save us all – or at least the 52% of us who want to be saved according to a recent Gallup Poll.
© 12/22/2012 by Tom King

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let's Write Some MORE Laws - That's the Ticket!

(c) Tom King
License  Some rights reserved by jurvetson

After a week like this one, we're sure to see a string of teary-eyed politicians telling us we've got to do something to prevent these kinds of tragedies from ever happening again - as if politicians have the power to stop anything bad from ever happening or causing anything good to happen for that matter.  Politicians live to make laws.  It's the politician's raison d'ĂȘtre. A politician does not feel like he or she is a politician if there's not a law passed with that politician's name on it.  The media encourages that by remarking sagely as to the number of laws named after a politician when the pundits and political hacks are evaluating said politician's career (usually after the former senator, congressman, mayor, etc. is safely dead).  Passing law is the mark of political success.  I've never heard of a politician being praised on the six o'clock news for getting rid of laws, have you?

It makes sense then that in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings that politicians would feel and overwhelming urge to pass a law. And you can bet it will be a gun control law.  The thinking is that if you get guns out of the hands of these people, then they can no longer go on shooting rampages. Only they won't go that far because the NRA is too powerful.  They'll just reduce the legal size of magazines, figuring criminals won't be able to kill as many people if they can't shoot so many without reloading.

Problem is, these guys aren't criminals that shoot up schools and shopping malls. They're people who should be in a mental hospital.  Virtually every one, from the guy who shot Gabbie Gifford to the autistic kid who felt no pain in Connecticut, virtually every one was identified as mentally ill at some time prior to their shooting rampages.

Making the gun harder to get is not going to stop them.  Making magazines smaller or doing away with semi-automatics isn't going to help.  Charles Whitman killed 13 people, an unborn child and wounded 32 others. He seemed normal enough, even exemplary in his behavior. He was an Eagle Scout and ex-Marine.  He used only bolt-action rifles, a shotgun and some pistols. He had no automatic weapons. 

A gentleman with a handgun stopped a man this past week who attacked people with a knife and was set to start a mass slaughter. He didn't have a gun.  An off-duty cop working as a movie theater security guard at a San Antonio mall stopped a man who was planning to shoot up the place.  The people who do this kind of thing are not generally working with both oars in the water.  Sweden has the most restrictive gun laws in the Western world and a terrorist managed to kill 70 unarmed people at an island resort there.

Even though these things are horrific, they aren't really getting more frequent.  We just hear about them more often because we have 24 hour news and, as political commentator Armstrong Williams aptly noted, "If it bleeds it leads." Still, when we hear about this stuff, all of us are seized with a desire to make it stop.

The problem is, you can't stop it. Evil and lunacy exist in this world and will, on occasion, strike.  We decided almost three decades ago that putting people willy nilly in insane asylums was a bad thing to do.  Government-run asylums, we discovered, were terrible places.  So we turned them all loose - or at least most of them.  That's how the government solves a problem. If there are people locked up unjustly and you demand they stop doing it, the government just lets everybody go. Big government is not subtle We had an explosion of homelessness after the great release experiment in the 80s when all those who had been in institutions hit the streets with no place to go.

The problem with the folks at the government being the ones to stop school massacres is that the government always takes a sledge hammer approach to any problem it tries to solve.  You don't get a lot of nuance in decision-making when it comes to laws being written in Washington and designed to provide a one-size-fits-all solution for 350 million people.

So, they jump on gun control as the easy fix for what is actually a mental health problem. People can't get help for mentally ill loved ones who need it.  I know. In my own family I've had to watch loved ones with mental illness deteriorate to the point that they attempted suicide quite spectacularly. I've got a loved one living in a storage building 3000 miles away and I'm too broke to help him.  The system tries to do as little as possible and only helps when they absolutely have no other choice. Any kind of even temporary committment is next to impossible because they fixed that in Washington back in the 80s after a Mickey Rooney movie about the subject of unjust mental incarceration.  It was widely viewed and in true Washington fashion, laws were passed to "make it stop".

Our mental health system is a wreck. In working with therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, I've experienced first hand what they go through in trying to help patients. I spent two years in a graduate rehab psych program and worked in mental health programs for 25 years.  The average mental health practitioner walks among his patients like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs (occupied by lawyers).  They are so hemmed in by regulations and potential lawsuits that people who should be taken off the streets for their own good as well as the safety of the community can't be.  Sometimes a mentally ill person volunteers for a stint in the hospital, but if they volunteer, they can check themselves out whenever they want to, like when the killin' urge comes over them.

I worked at a treatment center for kids and watched severely disturbed kids turn 18 and be turned out into the world with virtually no supports. That's how the law worked. Some places tried to provide them help - usually faith-based facilities with church partnerships to help the kids integrate into the community. Most such programs operated without public support and under the disapproving eye of state mental health authorities.
In the past 30 years, we've learned more about the human brain and how to treat it and what to expect of various types of brain diseases.  Yet with all this knowledge, we find ourselves prevented from doing the very kinds of things that would prevent people from going berserk and shooting up an elementary school.

But that's what happens when you get politicians doing hip shot law-making. You want to prevent mass murders in our country?  Two things:
  1. Protect likely targets.  If a movie theater can hire a sharp-eyed security guard, a school can.  Off duty cops have the training and are always looking for extra work. Ex-military guys can be trained for the work and lots of them come home looking for jobs. Protecting kids is a job they were trained for.
  2. Get those with violent mental illnesses off the street.  Yes it will cost money, but not nearly as much as the massive bureaucracy needed to manage the highly restrictive gun control laws that are being proposed right now.  And hospitalization is not a life sentence. Proper treatment and medications can help unstable people cope and learn ways to avoid going out of their minds and committing these heinous acts.
Charles Whitman, the University of Texas Sniper, left a note. In it he said if his life insurance was any good, to pay off his debts and give the rest to mental health research so they could find out why he was compelled to kill all those people. 

Everyone asks why this happens every time it does. Some blame it on the devil. Others blame it on God.  Some, like the president in his memorial speech in Newtown, do both. Obama remarked that evil exists in the world and then qualified that by saying "God called them home". So we've assigned blame to both God and the Devil.  Throw in Republicans and the NRA and that should spread the blame around even more.

We look for a reason for the unreasonable, when these things happen. There is no reason other than the obvious one.  When you ask God to leave you be; when you tell Him you want nothing to do with Him, He goes away and leaves you alone.  We've no excuse for asking where God was.  We've asked Him to stay out of our schools.  We've left the crazy people out on the streets, uncared for till they lost their minds altogether.  And worse, when the angels left along with God, we didn't replace them with security guards.

If we're not willing to open our schools to God's protection and if we insist on trying to solve this problem in Washington instead of in our communities, homes and churches, where things like this happen, then the carnage will continue unabated. We cannot keep waiting for the government to do for us what can only be done by us.  We do not have to wait for permission to fix our own communities; to make them safer.

God will make things right in the end, despite our best efforts to muck it all up. While I don't believe He chose how those kids would die - that He "called those children home" as the President suggested - I do believe He will take them home one day when He comes back to clean up our mess. 

God help us all when He sees what we've done to this place.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Relax? I Don't think So.

St. Stephen takes one on the chin for the team.
A friend posted a cute picture of babies leaning back in lawn chairs with the caption, "Relax, God is in Charge!"

We all post cute stuff like that all the time. The point is to reassure our brothers and sisters that ultimately everything is going to be alright.

And it is.

In the end.  The problem is, if you read the stories that come down to us in scripture, leaving God in charge is not an entirely relaxing proposition.  I mean God's record for providing comfort and relaxation for his children is not very good.  Now I'm not saying that everything God does to us isn't for our ultimate good.  I suspect when it's all said and done and we're sitting on our verandas in the New Earth sipping peach tea and nibbling cashews and pistachios, we'll say, "You know, I'm glad God let that happen to me."

But it's almost ALWAYS easier to appreciate some things long after they've happened to you.  I imagine all these guys would have chosen for things to be a whole lot more "relaxing" if they'd been laying out the events of their lives.  Here are some examples:

Noah - Nice house, Family.  Position in the community.  God asks him to preach the end of the world and build a honkin' big boat.  So for more than a century Noah bankrupts himself and wears out his body and his sons' bodies building a boat the size of a small aircraft carrier with nothing more than hand tools. Noah died much younger than his father and grandfather, probably as a result of the stress.  People laughed at him the whole time he was working on the boat.  Then he gets to spend 40 days rocking up and down in a boat at sea in the middle of the worst storm in history then spends the rest of that year feeding animals and hoping the water will go down while living cheek by jowl with family in very close quarers. Then when it's done he gets dumped out in a barren land to start all over clearing away the mud and debris and trying to scratch a living out of the devastated ground.

Jacob - Gets run off by his homicidal brother, sleeps on a rock, get cheated out of a wife by his uncle, cheated out of his pay by his Uncle and to add insult to injury has his leg jerked out its socket in a wrestling match with an angel no less.  He's blessed with two wives who fight constantly, 12 sons that fight among themselves constantly, murder his neighbors and sell one of their brothers to Egyptian slavers.

Joseph - Gets sold to Egyptian slavers by his brothers, gets accused of a death penalty offense by his master's slutty wife, gets thrown in prison and forgotten by everyone he ever helped or did a nice thing for.

David - Peacefully tending sheep and some prophet comes along and pours oil on his head.  Next thing you know he's hiding in caves and the King has soldiers running all over the country looking to murder him.  Why?  No reason. The king's nuts.  God called David a man after his own heart.  Then his own son tries to murder him and stages a revolt.

Elijah - Preaches what God tells him to faithfull, gets hounded from one end of the country and winds up all alone in the mountains eating scraps brought to him by a bird while soldiers scour the countrysided. 

Elisha - Carries on Elijah's work.  Winds up surrounded by thousands of enemy soldiers with one mission on their minds - Kill Elisha!.

Isaiah - Nice man. Prophesied Jesus' coming. Wrote some of the most beautiful passages in scripture. I think the King sawed him in half for his troubles.

Jeremiah - Bit of a gloomy Gus, but he did pass along the messages God told him to.  Was stoned for his efforts to obey God.

Only one of Jesus' disciples died a natural death.  All the rest were murdered, some were tortured and none of their deaths were merciful.  The only one who died of old age was boiled in oil once before they allowed him to expire on his own.

Jesus himself was brutally killed by the leaders of his own church.


I don't think that's in the cards these days.  It may explain why I'm living literally day to day right now.  If anyone has a small cabin in the woods they'll rent me cheap, I'd like to talk to you about it. I don't think things are going to get much better for a while.  Call me a pessimist, but I don't think God's mercy has anything to do with my comfort. Until I can figure out what he wants to do with me next, I'll just ride out the storm.

"Oh, but you left out the rest of those stories," you may protest.  Much good came out of all these.  Joseph became number 2 in Egypt, David was King, Jesus saved us all.

Precisely my point.  If God sees something good He can make out of the events of your life, He has no compunctions about making your life miserable to accomplish that good.  Paul says in Romans 8:28 - "All things work together for good to them that are called according to His purpose."  You should know that going into the deal.  There is nothing in that promise that says you'll be comfortable, wealthy or even well-liked.  Anyone who says differently is building a crystal cathedral or selling prayer cloths blessed by the saints in Jerusalem.  Paul, by the way, was beheaded shortly after he wrote that passage.

When you sign on as a Christian, you don't sign up for a comfortable voyage through life, my sailor friends.  You sign up for a profitable one, true, but don't expect to get paid till the voyage is over.

Tom King -
From a cheap hotel room in Puyallup, Washington in the midst of an almighty great storm

Friday, October 26, 2012

Muzzling Pastors With the IRS

Should the IRS tax churches that engage in politics?

Rick Cohen in a recent Nonprofit Quarterly piece, suggested that allowing pastors to endorse political candidates or speak out on political issues is somehow bad for the nonprofit sector and that churches that engaged in political speech were somehow at odds with the constitution.  I respectfully disagree. 

Every nonprofit lobbies for their party (usually Democrat) in some way. Whether they call it "educating the public" or "informing our representatives", it's obvious which political camp any given nonprofit 501(c)3 is sitting in.

Churches are not strictly in the same category as the mainstream 501(c)3.  Churches are, in fact, a unique segment of the nonprofit sector, protected four ways in the Bill of Rights - freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and freedom of the press (should they have one). Historically, churches have always been a factor in political activity in America. During the Civil War, it was largely church folk that pressured Lincoln to make the war about ending slavery. Powerful speakers rose in pulpits across the land (even a few brave souls in the South did) to call for the end to the pernicious institution. The Revolutionary War was practically organized in church houses across the country. If the IRS had taken this attitude during the 50s and 60s, Dr. Martin Luther King would have had some difficulty fighting for Civil Rights.  Remember, Dr. King was a preacher.  And it was church people that forced the Congress to take up the issue of Civil Rights - both black and white church people exercising their rights of free speech and assembly.  Churches were burned and bombed, but they stood firm.

And the desire to muzzle political in churches, I have noticed is never applied to liberal pastors like Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton who both speak wherever they want to and have, so far, not left a trail of tax-paying churches in their wake.

Freedom of Religion is not Freedom From Religion. As unions, political parties and advocacy groups speak for workers, population groups and people of various political persuasions, so churches speak for the members of their congregations. To muzzle pastors is absolutely unconscionable. It is to silence people because of their creed and we would certainly not condone silencing people because of their race or color.
Churches are in no way profit-making enterprises. When naughty pastors misuse church funds they should be arrested and thrown in jail and taxed. I know of few Christians who would object to that. When churches profiteer off their members, they should be investigated and taxed like all git-out! BUT to muzzle this country's clergy for instructing their congregations regarding things political is unconscionable and deprives the political process of a key element of decision-making - a conscience.

This attack on churches through taxation is little more than an attack on religion itself.  Like the so-called gay marriage initiatives, the quashing of religious political speech is little more than a thinly veiled attack on the Christian faith itself.  It is all about misusing the "fairness" argument to make the case for forcing institutions of faith out of the public square and back behind the church's closed doors.

From there it is but a short step to forcing the church underground and out of the public eye altogether, as though it were some sort of perversion rather than an expression of faith and belief.

Perhaps we should change the designation of churches to separate them from nonprofits that accept federal and state grants. If churches accept government money, then fine, they need to shut up about politics. BUT so long as a church operates as a religious institution and is in fact, not for profit, operates ethically and accepts no support from the government, then by all that's holy let them speak up and say what they will.

Labor Unions are tax exempt, although donations or payments to a union are not tax exempt.  But then that makes sense.  Unions are designed specifically to enrich their members by brokering deals with employers for better pay and benefits.  While church donations are exempt from taxation, their purpose is not to enrich their members.  Church members don't strike against God or the government for better pay, for instance.

Unions are essentially profit-making entities. They earn raises and benefits for their members. that is their chief purpose. That's a whole different story from churches.

Churches, just like unions serve as a critical voice for their people.  Throughout US history churches have traditionally been the conscience of our nation. Perhaps you don't like churches, hate pastors and have nightmares about the Sunday School teacher who used to wag her boney finger at you and tell you that you were going straight to hell because your hair was too long or your skirt too short. Well too bad. Sorry for your trauma, but that gives you no excuse to silence people of faith, just because you have a problem with religion in general or some religious people in particular and have chosen to remove yourself from their company.

Churches have a perfect right to exist and if unions can do the political organizing that they do, then so can churches. I listened in on an SEIU meeting a few weeks ago. It was little more than a rally for Democrat candidates.  The leaders manipulated the truth throughout in an attempt to frighten members into voting for Democrats. For some reason that's not troublesome, while Pastor Bob's telling his members that two dudes sleeping together is immoral is no matter what some arbitrary law says on the subject is somehow a threat to the Republic.

Turning the IRS loose on churches that speak their mind, is hypocritical, especially when it's Democrats pressing for churches to be punished for political speech.  In the past month, I've watched a parade of liberal pastors appearing on commercials in support of an initiative here in Washington State to legalize gay marriage.  I plan to introduce evidence to the IRS calling for the same level of scrutiny for the churches that employ those liberal pastors that the IRS applies to scrutinizing conservative pastors who endorsed candidates during the recent "Pulpit Freedom Sunday". Oh, and what about the church pastors in this country who accepted "sermon notes" from the Obama administration to guide them as to how to support the president's policies from the pulpit.

What's sauce for the goose and all that.....

I'm just sayin'


Friday, October 19, 2012

Tragedy in Texas - White House Responds

Dateline: 10/19/2012 - The White House

Within minutes of the announcement that the beloved symbol of the Texas State Fair, "Big Tex" caught fire this morning and burned, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney released the following statement:
  • Our hearts go out to the people of the great State of Texas. The president wants everyone to know that no effort will be spared to catch and punish the perpetrators of this outrage. Former president, Bill Clinton, has volunteered to lead a task force of FBI agents and several cute interns who  are looking into reports that notorious right wing terrorist, Glenn Beck has established a secret terrorist cell in the Dallas area thanks to the failed policies of George W. Bush.
The president was unavailable for comment say White House sources due to his not knowing about it, having skipped the morning security briefing to play golf with a Hungarian-American donor. Carney promises that the president will "give a damn" should the subject come up on one of the talk shows he's scheduled to appear on this coming week. 

Big Tex tragedy unfolds.
 Officials of the Texas State Fair have already issued a no-bid contract to Houston-based Halliburton for reconstruction of Big Tex. In a press release to Fox News, Halliburton CEO, Dave Lesar, promised to "Have him back up in a couple of days."

The new and improved "Big Tex" will be made largely of kevlar and concrete, according to Dallas architect/designer, "Ox" Buchanan, who, according to sources within the State Fair, volunteered his services to Fair officials even before the fire was fully extinguished.

Governor Rick Perry announced that he would send a Texas Ranger to Dallas to handle the investigation and shoot the "friggin' little Yankee perp". Minutes after the governor's announcement Chuck Norris called the governor and reportedly begged, "Oh, please let me....."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Separated at Birth? Joe Biden & Walter

JB:  That Ryan guy really p*&%#'s me off.....
Walter:  So why didn't you tell him to "Shut the h%#$  up?
JB:  I was afraid it would make me look rude.
Walter:  Shut the h%*$# up!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Open Letter to a Liberal Snob

Response to a Salon.com post on how pointless Sarah Palin is.

"The peasants are revolting!"
I love it when you libs spend all that energy explaining how some conservative or other is pointless. If Sarah Palin is so pointless, why are you guys so perturbed about her? If she's like all the other people over the years that liberal pundits have proclaimed either stupid, trivial or, now, "pointless", you may be in trouble. I read in the Times and New Yorker recently how Glenn Beck is an idiot and stupid and far beneath notice of the author of the piece - though he did manage to notice him enough to write an article about how stupid he is. Next thing I know, the same guys are whimpering because the New York Times bestseller list is dominated by books Glenn Beck has recommended, pushing off all the glib liberal pundits that used to live there in cool intellectual security.

Hey, Glenn has people reading again. He’s not just selling his books; he’s selling millions of books for obscure professors and academics, newspaper columnists and freelance writers. Where's the kudos to him for that! The publishing industry must be loving the sales numbers. They're probably scrambling right now looking for the next conservative blockbuster they can get him to recommend. All the while, you can bet their staff holds its collective pseudo-intellectual nose (not forgetting to endorse those paychecks when they deposit them, though).

From articles like this and others in the liberal blogosphere, it's obvious that you guys really do think regular folks like me are complete idiots that never check out anything but simply stumble around blindly doing as we're told.

Well you're wrong. What scares the willy out of the progressive left right now is that the conservative tea party movement doesn't seem to be collapsing. The mythical payoffs from big insurance were supposed to run out and all those grandmas and grandpas and guys in overalls and feed store caps were supposed to stop coming to rallies once they weren't being paid anymore
What happened? Why are the rallies growing ever larger? Why are we dominating the bestseller lists? Why are news media that offer a conservative viewpoint burying the mainstream media that sits solidly on the left? Why are the incumbents in both parties that got our country into this mess in the first place dropping like flies in the primaries (or bailing out while they can still collect their pensions)?

You may not like us, Bub, but we're real and we will not go quietly into that good night as we were expected to (and yes, we do read poetry). You may think we are just a collection of the most stupid people in the country and that we are being herded sheep-like by golden-tongued radio personalities.

Keep thinking that and you really will continue to be utterly surprised as we stand up en masse to oppose the blind rush to socialism that the left has been engineering for so long.

Once, the lower 50% of the IQ range in this country belonged to the Democrat party and voted blindly because they were told (more like chanted at really) that Republicans were rich exploiters and besides FDR saved us from the depression. Unfortunately for Dems, the conservatives are beginning to dip down into the loyal Democrats for new converts. Simple folks are beginning to hear a coherent message from conservatives like Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and others that makes sense to them. The Democrats are doing stuff that makes them so mad, they’ve forgotten FDR and the propaganda about how evil Rush Limbaugh is supposed to be. They’re having a little listen and discovering that the evil conservatives are a lot more like them than are the spokeswomen for the “People’s Party”.

You're losing them and you haven’t a prayer of gaining any traction with the diverse and often very bright set of folks that have taken up the tea party banner. As people grow more angry with what the federal government is up to, you’ll see more folks lose their fear of being seen publicly to align themselves with the tea party. The crowds will continue to swell and the ratings will continue to rise.

You libs remind me of the fat burghers in Europe who lived constantly in dread that the peasants would figure out what was going on and rise up and murder them in their beds. Of course, they were also constantly trying to figure out how to keep the peasants fed (but not too well fed), how to keep them quiet, but busy on the farms and how to work them to a stupor so they wouldn’t have time or energy to figure out how scared the barons and earls really were of them.

It won't happen like that here. America’s peasant class is well fed (by its own efforts), but not so quiet. America’s one of the few countries in the world where obesity is a problem among our poor. It’s kind of odd really.

It is nice that you fear that we’ll murder you all in your beds. It makes for some really entertaining media. We enjoy watching jumpy liberals look for boogers at every tea party rally. Some of you guys have even resorted to manufacturing boogers and taking them to tea parties – I suppose to relieve your anxiety. By the way, you need to work on being a little more subtle when you misspell words on signs. The gun-toting Nazis in the group can pick you out like an orange pig in yellow grass.

I mean after all the tea party people are supposed to be gun-toting Nazis aren’t they? The progressive ideology says so. If the tea party folk aren’t gun-toting Nazis, what else could be wrong with progressive ideology? And that thought is apparently unthinkable to the progressive mind. We see that in socialist countries where the news reports vary widely from actual conditions on the ground in those countries. The elitist socialist will not tolerate variance from his ideology, even in the face of reality. Better to manufacture evidence than admit the ideology is flawed.

People tend to see the world through their own prejudices, beliefs and attitudes. Thieves see everyone as a potential thief. People who love power think everyone around them wants to take their power from them. After all, it’s what they’d do if the tables were turned. People, who think they are smarter than everyone else, tend to view others not in their “class” as stupid. They delude themselves into believing that most everyone except for themselves and their circle is stupid and that they should, somehow, be smart enough to figure out how to make all those stupid people do what they want them to do. They are, after all, stupid and incapable of governing themselves. The ideology says so.

What you've done, though, is finally get the attention of all those folks you thought were so stupid. You see, all those wonderfully diverse and intelligent folks out there who were content to let you guys play power games for all these years, so long as you left them alone to do their business and live their lives, have suddenly realized that you guys are really starting to mess things up. When you start diddling with people’s paychecks, you get their attention. You're taking their money for things they don't want to buy. You're mortgaging their children's futures

And, yes, Virginia, conservatives have learned, to your horror, how to use slogans effectively - a propaganda technique you always hoped we were too stupid to figure out. People with no interest in technology or the Internet have picked up this useful tool and the propaganda techniques to go with it in response to the threat they see from progressive socialism. And they are using it to devastating effect. Grandmas and grandpas are networking and organizing in a way that would give Saul Alinsky an orgasm if we all were progressive socialists.

Ah, but there's the rub. Once again, an enemy of America has misunderstood the character of the nation and badly misjudged. The Japanese did it back in the 30’s. They thought our preoccupation with business and digging ourselves out of a depression and our love for peace and our tiny military, meant we would fold easily once confronted with the might of the Japanese Empire. After all, Americans are far from warlike was the thinking. The resulting war, which had been going quite well for the Japanese up until they won that great "victory" at Pearl Harbor, turned out rather badly for them once Americans got into it..

The progressive movement thinks that free market capitalism is an "antique" notion and that folks will gladly give up capitalism and a few of our freedoms and privileges as Americans - at least a few at a time - in exchange for small payoffs like healthcare. They think, despite evidence to the contrary, that the time is ripe for the really smart people to finally fix things. They see themselves creating a world without hunger, ill health, homelessness or joblessness. What could be better than that? Oh, and the fat burghers who help create this new worker’s paradise will get to keep their treasure and prestige while the proletariat and working middle class and working wealthy will level out into a nice dreary gray sameness under the benign control of the new government. And the so-called classless society the progressives fantasize about will pretty much ossify the classes into just two - the elite leaders and the proletariat.

Imagine the shock when they begin to reach for our liberties and get their fingers bit off.

It'll be quite a shock to the ideology that believes the ignorant masses will go quietly into that dreary dusk of a once-thriving civilization. But, the left isn’t there yet. They’re still true believers like the arrogant Japanese military leaders in the heady days after Pearl Harbor. They didn’t yet realize they were doomed.

You see, we have help coming soon, from a quarter that no amount of central planning can prepare for. Whatever gains the progressives think they are making, whatever powerful coalitions they think they are creating, they are simply binding themselves into bundles - just like the ones I put out by the curb on Tuesday and Friday.

The brilliant Japanese admiral, Yamamoto, said it best when he lamented after Pearl Harbor that he feared that all they had done was “…waken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Tea anyone?

Just one man’s opinion….

Tom King
(c) 2010 originally printed in "Uncle Tom's Traveling Salvation Show" - Open Salon, May 5, 2010

In Their Own Nest

More Gloom & Doom for the One Percenters From the New York Times.

A Libertarian Friend sent me a link to the New York Times.  Reporter Chrystia Freeland believes the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. are so busy protecting their own piles of wealth that the rest of us can no longer rise in the world and escape our own class. Predictably, she tells us that it’s much better in Europe if you want to rise into a higher class.

The temptation is to abandon ship.
Well, duh? Europe has more classes than Carter has liver pills. The place is a monument to the class system. A 15 cent raise will get you in a more elite social group over there. She goes on to quote champions of free market capitalism like Karl Marx and several of Barak Obama’s advisors and concludes that America’s 1% oligarchy is destroying the very system that created them. Why she should lament that puzzles me as I thought Progressives wanted a classless society. So where's the need to rise from your class unless you're in a hurry to get one of the higher class statuses BEFORE the Progressive Apocalypse freezes everyone in place.

Surprisingly, I agree with Ms. Freeland with regards to the 1% oligarchy protecting it's own butt. That's what I've been saying for years. What I don’t agree with is who she and the pundits of the NY Times see as the saviors of the middle class.

The Dems had every opportunity to do something about the often pitifully low tax rates enjoyed by the super-wealthy, simply by closing loopholes in the tax codes. They don't. They never do. They spout all this crap about the unfairness of it all and then they sell their souls behind closed doors for campaign contributions, weaving elaborate money protection schemes into the tax codes to protect the very people they castigate publicly. Oh, yeah, they’ll bump up the tax rate all right, but it won’t affect the 1%. They will continue to buy protection for their own fat piles of money.

The ones that will get hammered are the working wealthy – the ones trying to break into the upper income brackets. It’s the job creators that will become the actual victims of all the Occupy/Progressive symbolism. The Dems are not trying to end the class system. They’re trying to make it fair!

And the tea party, the group that most opposes the elitist sweetheart deals the giant corporations get from the government and who believe that abusive financial giants should be allowed to come crashing down instead of getting bailed out by the rest of us when their card houses come fluttering down – we are the ones who get castigated as extremists by both the left and the so-called` moderates in our own party. The Libertarians aren’t any better. They offer us legalized marijuana, conspiracy theories and isolationism and not a snowball's chance in hell to win an election.

The heartland is increasingly left with nowhere to go, politically.

I think we may be at the fall of the empire. The mainstream media and academia all believe we should trade the corrupt wealthy elitist manipulated mess we have now for a big bloated elitist government spouting progressive rhetoric while continuing to support the exact same corrupt wealthy elitist manipulated mess we have now.

The only hopeful thing going in American business right now is a burgeoning free market space industry. I think a lot of people would like to get off the planet, go somewhere and start over and leave Earth to stew in the vast swamp of its own corruption.

I think the private space race may be a manifestation of this feeling we all have that we need to get out of here before it all blows up in our faces. Look at the people that are driving it – working wealthy entrepreneurs like Paypal billionaire, Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson working with aerospace cowboys like Burt Rutan and Robert Bigelow. Those are the guys that will get squished by the progressive’s misguided efforts to “make ‘em pay”. I think most Americans are beginning to suspect that all this is going to end badly.

Look at all the dystopian, post-apocalyptic TV shows and movies lately. Hardly anybody thinks things are going to turn out well. I certainly don’t. As a Christian I figure Jesus has already loaded up the bus and is comin’ to get us. All I can do is pray daily, "Even so, come Lord Jesus."
It would be kinda fun, though if He had to pick some of us up off the moon or Mars, though when he does come.

Tom (c) 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Screwing Around With the Constitution - Is This a Concerted Effort to Suppress Religion

 The IRS recently threatened to go after the nonprofit status of churches whose  pastors included political ideas or instructions in their sermons to their congregations or in their literature, brochures and pamphlets. Cruise the net and you'll discover tons of angry vitriolic calls for Christians (mostly) to sit down and shut up where politics are concerned, calling for the muzzling of religious groups under the principle of "separation of church and state".

Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in the separation of church and state.  The constitution (the amendments part anyway) clearly forbids the government to establish any state religion and not to meddle with churches governance or the exercise of the principles of any church's faith by it's members.

The Amendment which guarantees these rights, however, does not, forbid religious people or their leaders from sticking their nose into government by lobbying or the exercise of the freedom of the press, speech or assembly.  The establishment clause is a one way prohibition.  It clearly restricts the government from meddling with one's religion, not vice versa.  Free exercise is a right of the citizenry. The government is not allowed to interfere with that.

Pastors, under the free exercise amendment can say whatever they want to, ask their members to vote anyway they want to and even lobby if they wish. If union leaders can do it, why not pastors.  Union leaders instruct their members as to how to vote all the time and nobody's going after them for that!  I listened in to a live SEIU union teleconference in Washington State last week that was nothing less than a political rally for Democrat candidates.  The freedom of assembly, speech and the press allows them to do that.

Trying to say churches cannot do the same thing is at the very least trying to game the system in favor of nonreligious groups and at worst an attempt to suppress the free exercise of religion at worst.  If nonprofit animal rights and environmentalist groups can do what they do and maintain their nonprofit status, churches must be allowed to do the same.

The American Constitution is a unique document in that it protects citizens from the government. Nowhere in there is anything that protects the government from it's citizens.

I'm just sayin'

Tom King

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Disappointment’s Haunting All Their Dreams….

© 2012 by Tom King
The split screen was unkind to the President.
If Mitt Romney manages to avoid shooting himself in the foot and wins this election, then for a long time after his inauguration is over and done, pundits, political consultants and Democrat true believers will be still shaking their heads and wondering how things went so very, very wrong.
After all, they had this guy. They were so certain sure. I mean, how could Obama lose when Mitt Romney had so much going against him?
  1. He is a Mormon. No self-respecting conservative redneck Christian was ever supposed to vote for a Mormon so that meant he would certainly lose the Christian right?
  2. He’s rich. The Occupy Movement was supposed to define Romney as one of the privileged exploiters in the top 1% - something guaranteed to turn the proletariat 99% against him, or so, their Marxist professors assured them.
  3. He presided over the creation of a state health care system while he was Massachusetts governor. This should have turned all the hard right fiscal conservatives against him.
  4. He was the Republican candidate most diametrically opposed by Ron Paul in the primary. The Paulistas were supposed to reject a Romney nomination and carry Ron Paul on their shoulders into the presidential race as a third party candidate and divide the Republican vote. How could Ron Paul not lust for the presidency so much that he would take the opportunity to bask in all that national attention? Surely he knew he’d have the support of the mainstream media. How could he do something as principled as consider the good of the country over his own ego? Isn’t he a politician after all?
  5. He laid off workers as president of Bain Capital. This was supposed to undermine his reputation as a job creator and turn all the unions against him – even the coal miners who could be counted to vote Democrat despite Obama’s anti-coal rhetoric.
  6. He’s awfully white. The minority vote was supposed to be solidly against him.
Romney, like McCain before him, was supposed to be a political straw man; an easy target for the charismatic Barak Obama, the emblem of hope and change, the brilliant speaker and the “clean and articulate” black person. Working hand in glove with the mainstream media, the Obama campaign pummeled Romney’s primary opponents for him while smoothing his way to the Republican nomination – even inducing Democrats to vote for Romney in the primary to insure he would be the candidate.
In focusing so hard on setting up the Republican Party to lose the 2012 election, President Obama’s handlers failed to notice that the president’s policies were a disaster.
  1. The new tone from the American president was supposed to send people into the streets around the world to cheer the new and improved United States foreign policy. Even Islamists were supposed to like us. Instead, if anything, things got worse. We’re hated more than ever. Terrorists are hitting us on our own soil again, murdering diplomats and continuing to blow themselves up willy nilly, even though we left Iraq like we were supposed to. 
  2. Obama was supposed to save us from the disastrous policies of George W. Bush and save the economy. In reality, the stimulus packages did little for the economy besides give corporate bigwigs a golden parachute and jack up the national debt beyond what anyone can imagine and put us heavily into debt to China, which doesn’t really like us much. Unemployment is higher than any time under President Bush and persisted throughout the Obama administration. The economy is relentlessly bad and small business has pretty much lost hope.
  3. Obama was supposed to unite America and end partisanship in a burst of rainbows and unicorns. Instead, the country is more sharply divided along political lines than it has been since 1859 and we all know what started up in 1861. I saw a political cartoon the other day showing a small businessman boarding up his windows “in case Obama is re-elected”. He should probably go ahead and keep them boarded up if Romney is elected. It could get ugly!
  4. Obama was supposed to close Gitmo and end the war and stuff. Gitmo is still open; troops in Iraq went from being soldiers to “advisors as though that counts as withdrawing. We’re mired in Afghanistan under rules of engagement reminiscent of those that hamstrung G.I.’s in the Vietnam era. Obama, almost reluctantly and at great personal risk to his political career, ordered Seals to capture Osama(with a “U”) Bin Laden, then saw his staff leak so much information that it compromised the security of intelligence assets, got people arrested and probably more than a few killed. A helicopter full of Seals wound up shot down shortly after the operation. The timing was more than a little troubling.
  5. Obama was supposed to give us universal health care and lower the debt in the process. Ironically he did get the bill passed, but the whole “you can’t see what’s in it till we pass it” strategy left Americans deeply suspicious of the bill and rightly so. Reading the bill brought forth a litany of horrors that shocked the economy into inactivity. Homeowners who were supposed to not lose their homes lost them anyway. Small business took cover and stopped creating jobs. Corporate giants chose to sit on their piles of money till the dust settles, if it ever does.
  6. Obama was supposed to collapse the economy by overloading the government with entitlement spending. The American economy proved more resilient than Obama advisors Bill Ayers or Frances Fox Piven counted on and the Progressive Millennium did not arise from the ashes of capitalism like it was supposed to.
  7. He was supposed to bring true equality and opportunity to all minority Americans. They were supposed to march lock step to the polls because Obama was a man of color like them. In his first term he became a man at odds with the church that the majority of members of one of those “reliable” minorities belong to; a man who is being burned in effigy by mobs of the minority whose schools he attended as a child; a man who has done more to increase the numbers of his own ethnic group who are joining the Republican Party, the tea party and other conservative groups than any president in history; a man on whose watch saw black unemployment rise to almost double the unemployment rate of the general population. Between inflation and falling wages, guess who got hit the hardest by the recession?
  8. Finally, the mainstream media was supposed to make this election a walk in the park. Unfortunately for the president, the failures of his administration have left blood in the water and reporters are more closely kin to sharks than sheep. If he looks like he’s losing, the MSM will rush it’s armies of pundits to the nearest microphones and get it on record that they knew Obama was toast long before the election.
The president’s mistake was confusing sheep with sharks, cats with dogs and freeloaders with fans. The media smells blood and circles the source in a feeding frenzy. The almost-feline prides of pundits wander away to look for someplace where they will be better fed and will look more attractive. The mob will turn on him because they expected free housing, free food and their car payments to be covered with cash from the Obama stash. All they got were free cell phones.
Seriously, there could be pitchforks!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cut-Rate Community Organizing Disrupts Traditional Political Advocacy

Even the Anarchists are whining. The traditional methods of grass roots organizing are being challenged by the low cost community organizaing tools being offered by the Internet and the new technology.  Here's the problem as they see it. 

Advocacy groups with absurdly small budgets can have a surprisingly large impact on public opinion, on the vote and on the actions of politicians.  Where once large budget political groups could virtually buy themselves a grassroots movement, the new amazingly cheap communications technology has muddied the water with second opinions.

There is an old adage that "What is "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."  When the Internet first appeared, pundits feared that the web would intrude into our lives in a downright Orwellian fashion.  To their surprise, the Wild West country of the World Wide Web, rather than supressing opinion and free expression, actually encouraged an incredible outburst of creativity, free speech and political debate. It seems few people care whether or not Big Brother is watching all this (and he probably is) Talented individuals have proved capable of influencing public opionion profoundly, creating high quality films, essays and promotional pieces that regularly get millions of viewers from being passed around on Youtube, Facebook and talked about on Twitter.  These rogue public opinion shapers are able to bypass all the traditional filters like network news media, editorial boards and publishers and speak directly to the public.  It's little wonder that the leaders of last century's great political movements are 'disturbed'.  All the tools they have worked so hard to establish control over are suddenly becoming obsolete. 

Technology has had a powerfully disruptive effect on good old boy networks everywhere, whether they be corrupt county judges and their cronies, unions, corporations, anarchists, Marxist progressives or the local garden club. I've been involved for some years with a small npo that teaches other small nonprofits how to do what I call "fund-raising without permission". This group helps train and organize collaborative projects that skirt the traditional "permission of the local elders" track that for decades has limited the numbers and types of charitable activities that are conducted locally. If you didn't have the blessing of the local equivalent of the Skull & Bones Society, you just couldn't raise money for your cause.
After almost 15 years of teaching grant-writing and community organizing, things have changed dramatically in the area. One bank complained that local groups were creating "too much affordable housing". Others complained that there were too many nonprofits in town for them to control. City officials, on finding out a group had applied for funds to develop affordable senior housing in a town that advertised itself as Texas' first 'certified retirement city' was quite upset. "We don't want to attract THOSE kinds of retirees!"

One group I worked with was actually able to co-opt a member of the ruling elite who called in a favor and got us federal funding for a transit project that helped people with disabilities get home from second shift jobs. Many such things were done that would have been impossible without the Internet and the technological tools that have burst upon our culture in the past couple of decades.

But as I said what is sauce for the goose......

As we've gained access to new more sophisticated communication resources, talented organizers have risen who care about doing what's good for the community. We work across political lines without stopping to ask who among us are Republicans or Democrats. The question, in an organization with an absurdly small budget tends to be, not what is good for my union, my party or my company, but what is good for my children, my community, the poor, people with disabilities or our seniors.

The troublesome Tea Party rose so quickly because of the Internet and social media. Social media provided a perfect organizing tool. Whatever you might think about the values and beliefs of the Tea Party, it is as thoroughly grass roots an organization as you'll find. If you don't believe me, check Craigslist under "nonprofit jobs" and see how many "re-elect Obama" paid jobs are being offered by organizations like SEIU and ACORN (or whatever it's calling itself now) versus how many paid "Elect Romney" jobs are being offered by the Tea Party. Hint: I have yet to find a single paid Tea Party job and I've looked.

I do agree that the new low-cost advocacy is going to be a disruptive development, especially for those with powerful ideologies. The ability of poorly funded groups to slug it out with massively funded political action committiees dilutes the power of the pursestrings to some extent. It's not entirely gone, but as an ever-larger segment of the population becomes tech-savvy, it's only goint to make political cow-herding more difficult. Demographics that certain political groups have always found "reliable" are no longer reliable as the Republicans found out in the last election when they pushed a moderate onto their conservative base and expected them to show up at the polls and vote as instructed. The Obama administration is discovering to its dismay this go-round that it's base is beginning to think for itself and may not just pull the lever because they've been told to.

As in every new cultural upheaval, there is potential for great good and great evil. If the wise amongst us don't keep their heads and learn to use these new tools for the greater good; if they keep using the old kiss some babies and vote the graveyard tactics, things will blow up in their faces.

And perhaps it's a good thing if they do. And perhaps with access to a better understanding of history, we footsoldiers in the infowars won't wind up in a political version of the first World War where the generals, using the tactics of the 18th century, marched blindly obedient soldirs into the guns of the 20th century.

Hopefully, we're smarter than that these days.We certainly have access to better quality information and organizational tools than we ever have in the history of the world. . One wonders whether the next war will be fought to preserve the freedom we've come to enjoy on the World Wide Web.

Tom King

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Liberal Logic: Utopia by Pronouncement

(c) 2012 by Tom King

Liberals have always wished for a world in which poverty did not exist and, God bless ‘em, they actually believe it’s possible.

It is not. Jesus said that the poor would be always with us in this world. That’s because, so long as men lust for power over their fellows, there will be inequity.

The great liberal error is the belief that secular power can be wielded to force society to be kind and merciful and fair - that Utopia can be had by legal pronouncement.

Unfortunately, power corrupts, however much the left wishes to believe that it does not. By limiting the power of the new American government over the daily lives of its citizens, our founding fathers created an economy in which, not only was success possible, but also one in which success was more probable than virtually anywhere else in the world.

I remember when I was 4 years old I had a train set. My mother forbid me to plug in the transformer myself. One day I asked her to plug in my train set, but she was watching “As the World Turns” and told me to wait till it went off. I didn’t want to wait, so I grabbed the plug firmly with my index finger between the prongs and plugged it into a wall socket.

There was a loud pop, the lights flickered and Mom found me on the floor sprawled across the train tracks wondering who I was and why I'd been born.  I learned that day, the danger of putting too much power in the wrong hands.

Knowing politicians as we do, is there ANYBODY that truly believes that putting more power in their hands (what with their collective track record) is a good idea? Does anyone believe that giving massive power over our economy, our medical care, our housing, our jobs or the education of our kids to this incredible collection of massive egos is going to result in everyone being elevated to equal status with our elitist overlords?

Not bloody likely!

You can't create Utopia by declaring that you've created Utopia.  Utopia is only possible if it is peopled with perfect people. An Earthly Utopia will, therefore, never work. No amount of laws will accomplish it.  After all, Christ gave us one simple law - the Golden Rule. If we all obeyed it, there would be no more war, no more poverty, no more evil. What makes anyone think that adding a bunch of legal addendums to that one basic law will mean people are going to go, "Oh, that's what 'treat others the way you want to be treated' means!" and suddenly break out in goodness.

Won't happen. We're going to have to wait for heaven.  If you don't believe in heaven, then you're just waiting around trying to figure out how to make yourself relatively happy by grabbing your share before the whole thing goes to hell in the proverbial handbasket or you have a coronary and drop dead.

I'm just saying.

Tom King

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's That Big Old Space Heater......

Recent coronal mass ejection on the sun.
 Here's what the sun's been up to this summer. Anybody wonder why the unusual heat? Hint - it's that big danged atomic heater at the center of our solar system.....

This summer, the sun got jiggy with it and ejected a whole shipload of very hot plasma.

This summer's heat and drought is probably not your fault for driving your kids to soccer practice in the family Ford Explorer.

If the globe is warming and you can't figure out why, try going outside around noon, stand in an open space and look straight up.  That bright lighte is monstrous semi-controlled atomic explosion, bubbling away up there, pumping out heat and light. Sometimes it gets hotter, sometimes cooler. As of yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency has yet to discover where God put the thermostat.

(c) 2012 by Tom King

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Activists Beware - Boycotts are a Two-Edged Sword.

From an original comment posted on Nonprofit Quarterly:  by Tom King (c) 2012
    Chik-Fil-A employee takes water to thirsty gay protesters.
  • The above referenced NPQ article was headlined: Boycotts; They Still Got It! Chick-fil-A Reportedly to Stop Funding Anti-Gay Groups.  In the article, editor Ruth McCambridge reported that the boycott of "Chick-Fil-A" had been successful.  When I commented that maybe one shouldn't gloat over the success of these kinds of boycotts, since the result was that Chik-Fil-A cut off all funding to any political group and that other corporations were likely to follow their example - especially since, as I pointed out in a comment that boycotts are a two-edged sword.  Ruth wrote back complaining that she wasn't gloating, but that maybe she was in the headline, but she stood by "the process point" which seemed to be "Nanny nanny boo boo, we beat Chik-Fil-A."

I didn't mean to disparage the article when I used the term "gloating". The article was fairly balanced for NPQ, though the headline was not.  Nor did I wish to get into a debate over semantics, which is what this whole thing is about in the end.

As Rush Limbaugh opines on a regular basis, "The law is a teacher." The LGBT folk, in insisting that same-sex alliances, be not only legalized, but called "marriage", have recognized this principle. Let's face it, the reason for their insistence that it be called "marriage" and not some sort of "civil union" is because they hope to teach our society that same-sex relationships are no different from traditional marriages. For conservative Christians, it's an attempt to legitimize what they believe to be a "sin" by simply renaming it.

Not that there is not already plenty of that going on, just not that many sins get canonized into law. Suppose a law were to be passed that redefines robbery as something else, like, say, "redistribution of wealth". Suppose we decided to call lying something else, like say, "political speech". We've already lost the redefinition fight over "adultery" and "greed" (now called "true love" and "good business"). Seems a shame to plant our flag over gay "marriage", after letting the rest of it slide.

Ah, well, I suppose the whole thing is a lost cause. The Bible does say some pretty bleak things about the condition of the world at the end of time after all. The confusing thing is that while we've learned a lot as a culture in America about the Golden Rule, we seem hell-bent to legislate any other form of morality out of existence. It seems like everybody's got a favorite sin they'd like to get made legal. While I have no problem with people committing all manner of sins so long as they aren't committing them against me, it does bother me to be villified for believing something is wrong that I know to be wrong. We should be careful about that.

The pro-Eugenics crowd in the early part of the last century attempted to create laws that would alter long-held beliefs about who had the right to live and who did not. Legislating morality is always a dangerous business. One of the reasons I like the English language is that there are so many different words in it, that you can always find a precise term for everything. Co-opting an existing word for other purposes tends to muddy the language, which is, of course the point of calling a same-sex union a "marriage".

Shakespeare once wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Apparently, the LGBT lobby doesn't think so. Conservatives like me do.  Give LGBT couples the rights, but for heaven's sake, call it something else. The whole issue is a difference of opinion that should be debated openly. I hope it doesn't degenerate to dueling boycotts. This country is in tough enough financial shape without politics suppressing business.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Karl Marx Was a Goblin....

Frederic Bastiat called socialism "legalized plunder".  My friend Sophia, apparently an admirer of Karl Marx, disagrees.  She says this: 

  • Capital already exists and is already owned. Where did it come from?  It came from labour. All capital is the product of labour, therefore labour has a claim on all capital. It is not abstract means of production that the workers should control but the means which already exist.
The idea that all capital comes from labor seems to swim against the direction that money actually flows.  Capital (or profit) as far as I can see originates when consumers pay for goods and services.  The company uses that income to pay workers.  So if anything, capital comes from consumers and is passed to labor by capitalists.  The fact that labor is also a consumer doesn't change that. AND Management (those greedy old capitalists) are also consumers.

It's like the water cycle. Water evaporates all over the place, collects in clouds which rain on the land watering the fields.  The excess runs off into streams and from there to rivers and on to the ocean where it evaporates again and makes clouds. Money works like that.

Sophia and Karl would have you believe that the economy (the financial water cycle if you will) actually runs  counter to its natural direction. Capital is, they say, stolen from the workers to enrich the wealthy capitalists. Odd that they conveniently leave out consumers in this model, inserting them later when they want to look like populists. Classless society advocates would have you believe we can create a society where consumers deposit money directly into the pockets of labor.  Of course, the pockets of labor are on the other side of the same pair of pants.  When you need some consumer cash again, the worker must transfer money over to their consumer pockets, from whence they transfer the cash back to their labor pockets and so on, ad infinitum.  Of course, this all happens AFTER they've cut out the evil capitalists and eliminated them as large scale consumers and reduced them to pocket-swapping labor and monumentally screws up the economy.

Which confuses me, because they also believe there is an elite group of smart people who by virtue or their great brains, their pure hearts and their unbounded courage can centrally plan all our lives for us and create a utopian society where everybody is the same, no rich, no poor, no war, no religion.  The whole thing is either a John Lennon song or a Wizard of Oz sequel they're going for, I'm not sure which.
The Marxian model seems a classic double bind where two opposing beliefs exist in one man's head and it locks him up so he cannot move forward.  It could explain why liberals seem to be crazy. 

I had the same problem with the goblins of J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter books. The goblins, if you remember, are the bankers of the wizarding world.  They run Gringott's, the wizard's bank. The problem with the goblins is this. They make their living by taking gold from humans and making things for the humans.  They, however, believe that anything they make should revert to the ownership of goblins once the person who holds the object dies.  This makes perfect sense to them.  They made it, so it's theirs.

So what do they do for a living?  The goblins run wizard banks where the wealth and precious objects, many of goblin make, of generations of wizards are stored in highly secure vaults. These vaults, by the goblins own policy, are held to be inviolate, no matter that they believe that much of the treasure that they are protecting is of goblin make and therefore actually belongs to them.  It is a point of pride (and good business policy) that nothing is ever stolen from a Gringott's vault.

They may believe that everything they make still belongs to them in theory, but in practice they know that if they actually took back the things they believed were theirs, their banking and jewelry/weapon-making businesses would shut down. Customers would not keep their things where goblins would take them back so the bank would close. Customers would not order goblin-made items because paying for something wildly expensive that you could not even pass on to your heirs would not make sense to anyone but goblins.  Therefore goblin business rumbles along with a set of beliefs that contradict what they have to do in actual practice in order to keep making a profit off the wizarding world.

It's little wonder that the goblins of Harry Potter are devious, irritable little creatures. There is a conflict between belief and practice within the whole goblin economy that plants the seeds of insanity.  Goblins believe that wealth comes from goblins while in actual practice, goblin wealth, as they well know, comes from gold paid them for goods and services by wizard customers. If humans believed as goblins did, then, since the money collected by goblins, actually comes from humans, humans ought to have a perfect right to take back any money they have paid a goblin for a service or product from them when the goblin dies, since the gold originally came from humans. Goblins would have a real problem with this were wizards to actually try to put such an idea into practice.

Karl Marx had the same problem as the goblins. His philosophy hinges on the belief capital comes from the labor of the working class. At the same time it is obvious that unless the consumer buys those goods and services, labor would receive no capital for its labors.  The accumulation of capital in the hands of a few is supposedly evil.  So how does Marx propose we solve that problem?  By taking all that capital from the hands of those "few" capitalists who accumulated it and giving it to the government "few" to redistribute to labor.  So instead of rich people having control over all the capital, we give it all to bureaucrats.

Goblins if you will.

I could also point to Douglass Adams' Vogons to illustrate the hazards of handing power and money to bureaucrats, but I think the point is made.

Karl Marx is a goblin.  Perhaps that's why he looks devious and cranky in all of his pictures.

Just one man's opinion,

Tom King