This is Genius



World Forum

There's been a lot of loose talk about a New American socialism. That's not just obfuscatory, it's self reinforcing. So I'm going to do my bit to nip this while it's small.

Socialism is a economic and political theory that advocates for government control of means of production. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism

No politicians are promoting any substantial increase in American socialism.

The error seems to stem from the idea that trying to remedy an economic collapse by giving management of billions of dollars to the very people who created the economic collapse because they mismanaged billions of dollars is Socialism. It's not Socialism unless the government actually gets control of the means of production. They don't have control of means of production- they get next to nothing of value in return- so, whatever it is, it's NOT Socialism.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni

Today at the IRON LABYRINTH we're going to have sunshine and blue skies and bunnies and kittens and cookies and balloons and happiness and joy...


On second thought, no. No, we won't. I like things just the way they are.

Surprised?? I thought not.

No, we won't do that but I have noticed a layer of dust about the LABYRINTH lately... I've been meaning to sweep up a bit and so I'll ask that you mind the dust while I make some new installations.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Inability to FOCA on the real Issues

I find it ironic that many of the same persons and groups who argue so vocally for small government, individual determination and low taxes also argue vocally for federal government involvement in issues which present no clear federal question or against federal legislation that promotes such ideals.

For example, consider the contentious Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s110-1173

Many self-labeled Republicans are strong opponents of FOCA. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2170182/posts

I submit that FOCA is perfectly consonant with the ideals outlined in the Republican party platform. http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/

That is, FOCA explicitly affirms the right to privacy, the right to individual determination, and only acts to limit federal authority. These are core Republican Platform positions and opponents of FOCA who are not just Republicans, but are Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, oppose them.

The dichotomy amuses me…

I had a friend inform me that the Republican party platform statement "Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life" http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/Values.htm
is the sticking point. I maintain my position; FOCA is perfectly compatible with the Republican party platform statement "Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life". FOCA says "We won't discriminate in the allocation of federal funding based on provision of abortion. The republican platform says, we won't support provision of funds for abortion. These are NOT contradictory positions; they are perfectly reconcilable- Set the funding to zero.

Moreover, an equal zero funding level is also perfectly compatible with the republican party platform values of 1) Ensuring equal treatment for all, 2) Controlling spending, 3) Empowering the states, etc. I could go on but I think this bill is demonstrably compatible with the stated Republican values.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Free Market

There's been a lot of talk lately about the economy. That should come as no surprise, by every common metric it's in the dumper; accordingly, it's a common subject on the news. You can't get away from it and, at least for this post, I won't either...

It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I’m not terribly impressed by American news media. They generally do a terrible job of identifying relevant issues in their stories and reporting the relevant facts necessary to draw helpful conclusions.

Fortunately for you, I’m here to help.

As most people know, several large companies have approached the Federal government via the United States Congress seeking bridge loans, bailout, hand-outs, or just large sacks of unmarked tens and twenties.

Without naming names, among such organizations are companies identified as “too big to fail”.

That a loaded term: “too big to fail”. In good times it means organizations so large that they cannot fail. In bad times it means organizations so large that we cannot allow them to fail for fear of the consequences.

The ironic fact here, the one that the above referenced news media sources have failed to report upon is that these same organizations that are “too big to fail” often resort to calls to allow the free market to control their activities.

The free market is by definition an atomistic market. Players in the market so big that they are “too big to fail” are, by definition, players with huge market share. Such a market is NOT a free market.

For sake of example let’s consider the US automobile market. If we estimate that at least 95% of the US auto market is controlled by Chrysler, GM, Ford, Honda, and Toyota, then the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) for the US auto market is AT LEAST 1805; that’s a concentrated market by definition. http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/public/testimony/hhi.htm

According to such estimates, markets involving the above auto maker organizations are not free markets; they are concentrated. The players may be considered trusts by some definitions. Attempts to preserve such trust organizations should be illegal under the Sherman Act. Offering money to preserve trusts should be a non-starter.

It’s sad that US antitrust regulation has been so lax that the US in a situation where it’s confronted with trusts demanding preservation in order to preserve the US economy as a whole. One of the fundamental ideas of antitrust law is to avoid allowing a small number of companies to hold our economy hostage by their threatened failure; if their success is that critical to our economy as a whole, and the nation's welfare as a result, that they cannot be allowed to fail, then the nation should have voice in their actions if not their very existance. Preserving such organization in the short term may be a necessary evil but preserving them in the long term will perpetuate the problem.

I submit that organizations presently asking for bail-out style monies because they are "too big to fail" should be subject to antitrust proceedings in the near future in which they should be subject to a strong presumption that they are trusts and subject to break-up accordingly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

White Month

I've made some dramatic changes in my diet in recent days.

Theoretically, these changes are positive: less sodium, less fat, less meat, less calories... Etc.

In a country where 127 million adults are overweight and almost half of those are obese, less is a good thing, right? http://www.obesityinamerica.org/bythenumbers.html

At least that's the idea:

1) We plan meals. I mean REALLY plan meals. Have you ever sat down with a cookbook and parsed out line by line the nutrition information in every single crumb you put in a dish? It's boring. It's the "bug-hunt through spaghetti-code" version of cooking. How many calories are in a clove of garlic? How much sodium is in a banana? My wife is helping to shoulder this chore but it's no more fun for her I'm sure...

Of course once that's done, now it's time to parse out what fraction of a pot of food, is a serving. How much is appropriate and heathful to eat in one sitting? Volumetric or mass measurements might be the most accurate but if you lack good tools for such things, improvision is necessary. The other day I took a RULER to a pot of chili to determine how much there was (comparing height of liquid at a substantially constant area gives a meaningful approximatation of volumetric comparision) and how much a serving should be...

2) We schedule meals. 14 meal plans gives a two week rotating schedule of meals.

3) I work out. I've changed my workout to six days a week from 2-3 days a week.

I've been doing this for three days. Our plans cover doing this for another 200 days... I should be tickled; we're eating more nutritiously and more healthfully in a manner that is less expensive, more sustainable, and more environmentally conscious.

I'm about ready to club a large animal and eat its flesh raw.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wrong on torture??


I can hardly believe that I live in a country where this is actually a matter for political debate. That wasn't the case just a few short years ago. A few years ago there was no credible controversy; every reasonable person agreed: "Torture is wrong"; "Things that look like torture are wrong"; "Torture should be defined broadly such that, where there is ANY doubt, we will cleave to the high ground and avoid the practice in question entirely"… Remember that?

Remember knowing that we weren't like Spanish Inquisitors, or the Khmer Rouge, or the KGB, or Nazi Death Camp doctors because we didn’t do hurtful things to helpless people?

Now we have Presidential candidates endorsing waterboarding and an Attorney General who was subject to a torture litmus test in which he was unable to denounce waterboarding as torture. Waterboarding of all F*ck!n things is almost as stereotypical of torture as the rack and the thumbscrews.

As an aside, those clowns that call waterboarding "simulated drowning" are crass apologists. It's simulated drowning the same way that skydiving is simulated falling; it's the real deal only with the ability to stop almost at will. This isn't some virtual 3-D hologram thingy; it's real water entering real sinuses and real trachea and real lungs causing real pain…

If you don't know that waterboarding is crossing the line into torture, I submit that you are either so na?ve or so morally bankrupt, or both, that you have absolutely no business leaving your house unguarded much less being the highest law enforcement officer in the United States.

I'm waiting for the inevitable backlash when an American soldier is subject to such methods and the same people and government supporting such things now, realize that they're left with only hypocritical arguments and unbelievable denouncements about how they think that such methods are wrong…

Where's your moral high ground now?