Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pascal's Wager

A guest post from beliefnet

fler0002 1/15/2004 11:15 PM

And we also discover that only those who believed in God and gave their lives to Him will enter into heaven and those who didn't will go to the torment of hell... what then??

What is it that you find to love in a deity that threatens you with eternal torment if you make one wrong decision?

Does a perfect deity sound like one who feels that it is just to torment you forever because of a choice you made based on the limited knowledge, and some erroneous knowledge, that you had when you made the choice?

Or does it sound like a shell game designed to play upon your fears in order to persuade you to believe?

Does it sound like a policy that benefits the church more than it benefits the believer?

Does it sound like a plan to intimidate the uncertain by depicting their 'loving' deity as one that is bigger, stronger, and incomparably more vicious?

Does it sound like a plan that not only creates fears of what happens after death, but also creates in humanity fears of each other? Fears of any tolerance for anything other than what is sanctified by the church. Fears that turn into hatreds. Fears that turn into witch hunts. Fears that turn into jihads, crusades, and terrorism. Fears that turn into sexual abuse.

You are welcome to indulge yourself in all those fears. I for one have chosen to use reason to dispell them. I don't have to live with those fears, and consider Pascal to be a coward.
 If Pascal had a delete button he would have used it for this brain fart.  If I were guaranteed an eternity of bliss worshiping the glory of God, it is still a bad bet. Even if I bet on the right God. And spent the right amount of time learning how to worship the glory of God. What do I win? An eternity of more of the same. Talk about SSDD."

 The only life that counts is the one that begins with birth and ends with death. It is the only one we can be sure of, and Pascal's wager fails on the plethora of possible God bets each with different rules for living. So we live as if the only important contribution we can make is by living according to the best interests of our chosen society. The agnostics among us suggest that if God is the Maitre d' in the afterlife that is all Hesh would care about anyway.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Douchebag Tax

 Many years ago I proposed a tax with the unfortunate acronym of VAST.  Value Added by Status Tax.

 In concept it was very simple: For each category of consumption a basic level of value would be established:  A public bus seat mile for transportation, a simple diner for a meal out, a street market for groceries, a basic Ford or Chevy for a car, a Boston Whaler for a boat, etc.  Any vendor charging more than the basic level value would be required to add a substantial tax based on the price paid minus the basic level.  If a family meal out were determined to have a basic value of $10  restaurant charging $25 would be required to charge tax on the extra $15.  A restaurant charging $100 would charge tax on the $90.  If well over the basic level the tax would show on the receipt as the Douchebag tax.  Each category would have its own rate to give politicians something to argue about, with luxury categories taxed at a much higher rate. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

UBI and Economic Systems

 UBI might be a way to save Capitalism from worker exploitation, one of its major failings.  Capitalism is based on using resources effectively to maximize return on investment of capital.  One important resource is labor.  There are few incentives in Capitalism to provide adequate compensation to laborers.  For most jobs in a free labor market recruiting and training costs are minimal making employee turnover a non-issue compared to pay scales driving pay and working conditions to minimum legal standards.  Even in higher skilled jobs where recruiting and training costs are significant immigrant labor can drive average compensation down if visas are easily acquired by the Capitalist. 

 With a UBI recruiting and training costs become significant even for entry level jobs, as enterprises must entice employees to accept time constraints and cooperative work in competition with unlimited free time and independence with subsistence living costs covered.  Wages, working conditions and benefits would be an important part of the exchange.   

 Enterprises must also compete on quality of products especially in service industries, as entry level entrepreneurship is essentially risk free.  Employed workers with a bit of extra disposable income might choose to become capitalists by backing an entrepreneur with capital rather than labor.  E.g. Leasing a taco truck for a latino family with traditional food preparation skills.  A risk free transactionon both sides. The capitalist still has his job and if the truck doesn't pay a competitive wage for the entrepreneurs plus a return on the lease, at the end of the lease everybody goes back to the status quo. 

At higher skill (and pay) levels working conditions, hours and time off, benefits and other intangibles, will be a competitive necessity to retain high skilled employees that can easily save enough FYM to become a competitor.  Employee spin-offs will be an important source of competition in most industries even ones with extremely high entry costs.  See Lucid Motors as a recent new entry in the automotive industry.  

 An alternative economic system to Capitalism (never before tried) that might work is based on a UBI with a slight surplus over subsistence (UBI+) where people buy goods and services direct from the producers via apps like Amazon or Lyft with the producers funding their means of production via loans from the local thrift institutions that float the UBI, surplus and accumulated savings for speculative productivity aids.  Neither the thrift institutions nor the government would invest in or subsidize productive facilities.  Government spending on infrastructure would be treated as a consumer good.  Government itself would be as usual a slush fund for politicians. 

 The money supply would be managed by the Government by regulating the amount of the surplus to balance supply and demand in the economy.  

The government providing the UBI+ would collect taxes using a progressive income tax on producers, or a VAST progressive VAT on consumption.  Links to both are below the fold.


A thorough analysis of the tax effects of UBI based on income taxes.  
Hat tip to @miniver 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

UBI and VAST Stories

Jennifer and Kevin both of whom graduated in the middle of their class at the state college, without looking back quit their minimum wage jobs, all 4 of them, when UBI* was implemented and nostalgically bought the house Jen grew up in in the near suburb Jen's parents moved out of just before the neighborhood was redlined by the mortgage companies.  Her parents could see the transition coming and "took the money and ran" to a more desirable suburb.   Like many similar suburbs the expected influx from the Hispanic and black neighborhood never happened as the necessary infrastructure of clubs, stores, and restaurants was missing in the area and it was too far from the existing enclaves to be a desirable step up.    They had been living with Kevin's parents like most of their friends, but used the first of their UBI payments to move and unboard their new house.  Kevin's parents didn't charge them back room and board, and even loaned them the money for the down payment on the house. They were confident that they had brought the kids up right and they would find ways to supplement their UBI to pay them back. 

Jen and Kevin had chosen their neighborhood carefully: The houses were small but basically sound, an infrequent but reliable bus line ran through the area, and there was a defunct strip mall in walking distance with a large store suitable for a coop grocery/household goods store. There was some damage but Jenifer had some basic carpentry skills.  Her dad even gifted her his workshop tools which he hadn't touched since he moved to the country club suburb to indulge the passion for golf he shared with his family.  Several of their friends were artisans and aspiring restauranteurs.  Their local silo on Facebook had been hot since the UBI was announced.  As none were planning children in the near term the neighborhood school was targeted as a craft center.  

Kevin's subsistence job was a "manager" in a fast food franchise.  His chain like all the others found that the kiosks and robots could sell the loss leader dollar menu just fine, but that the profit making up-sale items were spoiling on the shelves.  Since Kevin was high functioning Down Syndrome his former boss was eager to get him back on the payroll at his former subsistence wage and working conditions but with Jen's social work degree to help with the negotiations, Kevin was able to argue that since the kiosks handled the VAST** calculations his up-sale personal skills were worth substantially more.  Sure enough, with Kevin roving the kiosks, helping as "needed" there were always long lines at his bank of kiosks, up-sales skyrocketed and the store became a notable VAST* contributor in the sea of basic meal stores.


Ashley was successful among her peers. She had a responsible job with reasonable hours that enabled her to "have it all:" after school care, a home, a paid for adequate car, and family health care from her employer. What her peers didn't know was that those frequent lunches with her boss included a dessert of rape for Mr. Grey. It was part of the job for Ashley. After school care, etc. left her no choice but to "Relax and enjoy it." A few months after making sure that the UBI would cover everything but the after school care, and banking most of her paycheck, she was able to let Mr. Grey know one Friday at quitting time that the rape was over along with her job.  Ashley had used those few months of after school care to get her resume polished, the cover letters and recommendations lined up and in envelopes that went out Saturday to the head hunters in her field.  She wasn't too worried, she had frequently thought about tightening her belt and being a stay at home mom although that wasn't her first preference, and the after school care paid for with her fuck Mr. Grey reserve gave her plenty of time for interviews.

Hat tip to Nyah Wynne Nyah Wynne from Facebook for Ashley's story concept.


Alexia aka Alex G. in the business world moved into an abandoned school as a rental housemate with a neighbor of Jen and Kevin and with a group of artisan friends lobbied for rights to the school.  She invested her entire savings in code compliance and renovation of the school library/stage.  She had always dreamed of becoming a promoter for her friends' bands, but neither she nor her friends had the time to develop the level of professionalism to support a local venue while working two or three jobs to support their art.  An older couple she knew who were employed at a downtown restaurant heard about her venture and asked if they could run a bistro and bar in her venue using the school kitchen for catering. They had their eye on the cafeteria as a restaurant, but the startup costs of the bistro were more in line with their resources. They had some savings that they could invest and Alex recognized the value of turning her venue into a nightclub to attract established entertainers to her little venue, using her friends as openers.  The city was happy to cooperate as nightclubs were good generators of VAST revenue.  The basic retail beverage category was a generic soda, and fancier drinks and called liquors were in a respectable VAST category. 

Mary and John adapted the kitchen to modern standards with untaxed pick, place and flip robots for the basic bistro foods. John was an excellent chef so made to order gourmet meals were added to the menu.  Each table had an electronic order pad for the basic items with a note that the servers had the day’s specials.  Servers were a relatively low cost employee as many people enjoyed the work and the basic untaxed floor was low so servers to the basic meal tables were a nominal expense.  Servers with up-sale skills shared the added value of the gourmet meals with John and both were subject to the VAST tax on services which was built into the price of the up-sale on which the VAST goods tax was paid by the consumer.  It is little wonder that communities liked nightclubs.  Mary chose not to charge for the added value to her hosting services and paid no VAST but took the added value as profit in the business.


This group of stories (A work in progress. All are invited to create stories with or without VAST in the comment section) explores a society with a *Universal Basic Income (UBI) and a **Value Added by Status Tax (VAST) The basic assumption is that the evolving world standard of a right to medical care, education through whatever level you can get admitted to, including vocational education, basic transportation infrastructure, and UBI is funded by a progressive consumption tax.

**VAST For each category of goods and services that people and businesses use a basic level of subsistence is established that is untaxed. Home meals basic unprepared food at a local store is a home category. Simple restaurant meals as in licensed and inspected food trucks or push carts, and fixed shops selling basic take-out meals with or without indoor seating. For skilled work establishments space for a person and herm tools. For an office a cube with a computer and desk. For retail, self-selection kiosks and a central check out.

A basic wage, that is a wage necessary to induce an unskilled UBI recipient to commit to a standard work week job, is untaxed. Skilled services would be taxed on the percentage of the basic wage that is needed to attract the specific skill. The wage VAT is a cost of doing business, necessary to induce the worker to accept the job.  The worker is not subject to additional taxes on income until is spent on consumption.  Robotics could also fit into the VAST framework. The cost of a dumb pick and attach robot might be assigned as basic. More sophisticated robotics would be subject to a VAST schedule.

A community would establish a basic value for each category.  Any enhancements to these basic levels would be reflected in the cost of the goods or services. A downtown restaurant with tables, service staff, concierges, and fancy decor would cost many times the basic value. Up to 2X basic, a 1% VAT based on the increment over basic would be added to the bill. At 3X basic, the VAT would go to 2%.  At 4X basic the VAT would be e.g. 4%.  At 10X basic the VAT might be 20%. At some point the VAT would reach 100% that is, half the cost of the good or service would be VAT. Levels would be adjusted according to the values of UBI, medical, and government services needed giving politicians at all levels something to argue about. Localities might for example impose a VAST to fund operation and improvements to local infrastructure. Note that wages, capital gains, and net worth of a business or estate are not taxed at all until value is withdrawn and converted to consumption. 

**UBI is a stipend paid to all citizens and legal immigrants by direct deposit that is just adequate for all basic needs: housing, food, recreation, transportation, etc. A basic assumption is that in all modern countries single payer health care, education, and basic infrastructure is in place.  The UBI is unrestricted in use, the recipient may spend it as they please, trading off housing, food etc. without restrictions except that no other support is provided by the state.  Savings is not structured into the UBI which is intended to be basic needs only.  Any employment or self-employment income is supplemental to UBI and does not affect the basic stipend.  UBI is not subject to tax, as the assumption is that in a VAST system consumption supported only by UBI must be in the basic category to make ends meet.  Nicer goods and luxuries in higher VAST categories would be supported by employment of some variety. 

If an income tax is preferred a graduated tax would be imposed on all income in excess of UBI no matter how generated.  That is any income other than UBI must be reported and taxed accordingly.

Original post 1/5/17      

Subsistence Spending and the Hood Economic Multiplier

A person choosing not to work would necessarily spend every penny of UBI just to stay above the poverty line. Almost none of that would go out of the neighborhood. Even bus fare to the MegaMall is not figured into the poverty line.  Since poverty economies are generally cash economies, and the savings rate is essentially zero at the poverty line, the economic multiplier of each external dollar to the community is huge. Whether that external dollar comes from UBI, street vending, busking, or graft, that dollar supports many local businesses most of which buy locally. with cash.

A good lay explanation of the multiplier effect can be found here:


Monday, February 27, 2017

Pournelle Codominium Series.

The warning in the above about potus military spending plans and ties to bare chested horseback riders should be a clear warning to the rest of the world what is in the near future.  Potus will be unchecked in the USA and the bare chest is of course already unchecked in Eurasia.

To expect the rest of the world especially southasia to watch this happen without any response is rather naive.  I don't know about the rest of you but I plan to stay out of certain areas of the midatlantic for the near future.  The cure for hoof in mouth disease is neither gentile nor safe for animals caught in the roundup.

I hope I am wrong, and that the response will be cyberwar, but that is an expensive and problematic undertaking. 

Why Clinton-Obama Lost

Clinton-Obama lost the 2016 election right after the Convention when they told the progressive wing "Fuck the platform.  You can kiss Hillary's ass in the election.  You have nowhere else to go."  Forget the emails, forget Benghazi,  Clinton could have got them both by out of the news, even Fox News,  by simply coming out strongly for Single Payer ACA, The Robin Hood Tax, or  Subsidies: None or Tax Breaks for the Fossils.  (SNOT B for Fossils) Even Fox would have had to attack any of the above to protect their ad  base.  Instead Clinton waffled on DAPL just before the election, sealing her fate as just another puppet of the oligarchy.  

The 2016 election was about fucking the oligarchy and Trump conducted a Gish Gallop campaign on fucking the oligarchy. But lies are effective while the truth about supporting the oligarchy is fatal.  

If there is a country left for the 2018 election, which I doubt, the American Families Party will control CA, NY, MA, WA, OR, MN (Ellison will take his base over.)  IL, NV, PA and maybe even WI are reasonable choices for AFP control.  The Progressive Democrats, having been fucked over in the DNC Chair election, will have no choice but the AFP.  I am already on the AFP mailing list, and have deleted all DXCC, Pelosi, and similar from my email feed. I am sure I am not alone.  

I have no suggestions for the Neolib Dems.  Nor do I care. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

On Non-Violence

There are other forms of non-violence than standing around holding signs. I contributed to the Standing Rock Legal Defense Fund which is supporting protest with legal action. Including holding individuals responsible for violent orders among other more important issues of sovereignty, Treaty compliance, illegal actions of DAPL individuals and corporate "people."

Supporting journalists charged with felony reporting, including suing those testifying individually with sedition for unconstitutional infringement of the first amendment.  Just getting them acquitted on constitutional grounds is nonviolent action but so is suing the bastards individually.  Holding individuals personally responsible for their own shit is much more effective as a deterrent.

The Second Amendment explicitly enables a "well regulated Militia" to bear arms as necessary to the security of a free State. It does not define what constitutes security of a free state, Rogue LEOs even CICs may in fact compromise the security of a free State. Violence directed at those infringing on constitutional rights of the citizens of a "free State" is not only legally but morally required of a well regulated militia. The only real question is whether BLM or previously the Black Panthers were a well regulated militia. I was on the jury of the trial of the Young Lords the Hispanic version of the Black Panther trial going on right down the hall to litigate essentially that specific question. In both cases the leaders were acquitted.

The first two clauses of the military oath both for officers and enlisted personnel are "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;"  It seems to me unsurprising that the ND violence stopped when the 2000 or so Vets arrived in support of the Water Protectors.  It seems that they didn't believe the Vets assertions of peaceful protest only.  Frankly, neither did I.

The last and most important is what kind of violence demands a violent response.  Does slugging a Nazi justify a violent response by the LEOs.  Should they kill the assailant as he surrenders with his hands up? (He appeared to be a minority, but I could be wrong.  No matter some LEOs consider themselves to be judge, jury, and executioner on the topic of threat to a LEO.)  Should non-violent protesters take him to court for assault?  Should the non-violent protesters take the Nazi to court for sedition? 

Non-lethal assault by LEOs can be considered to be violence justifying a non-lethal violent response.  Must non-violent protesters just stand there or should they  take names and badge numbers of LEOs using non-lethal violence to hold the LEOs and their supervisors accountable.  Admittedly standing in the face of non-lethal violence may be an effective tactic as it generates public support but it is not the only acceptable tactic.  Overwhelming numbers may permit those peacefully assembled to flank a portion of the attackers and use non-lethal violence to take names and badges for pressing charges.  

There is always a possibility that an official response to non-violent protest will  become lethal.  Some overzealous antagonist may shoot into the crowd peacefully assembled.  If that occurs violence may be justified and necessary for the welfare of the state.  Once again the appropriate response is a tactical decision: do nothing but succor the wounded in the hope of garnering overwhelming popular support; use overwhelming numbers to obtain names and badges of perpetrators forcefully but non-lethally; or if numbers are insufficient use stealth to make an example of the shooter by using lethal force.  A classic tactic is a sniper masked by the turmoil; the other is a hand weapon in a crowd behind the shooter.  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Restoring Democracy in the USA

Democracy died in America when ALEC took over the GOP with big money and a program. The Democrats had no real response with either money or a program to counter ALEC. In fact for the most part the Neolib Democrats took the practical route of supporting the oligarchy in the futile hope of trying to advance their tepid social programs. 

It may be that the Warren/Sanders anti-oligarchy program has a chance on the Left Coast and the Northeast but whether they can rescue the rest of the country is an open question. I am not optimistic. I can see how it can be done one state or metro area at a time, but getting the hinterland to fall in line is a faint hope. Not impossible, single payer medical care and strong social programs have their attractions, but these can be pre-empted with vouchers and hate.

I am following New York politics and for the most part New York is totally ignoring DC to create essentially a self governed state.  Cuomo's New York Promise 
We passed Marriage Equality, Paid Family Leave, and a $15 Minimum Wage, while implementing new regulations that will help ensure whatever happens on the federal level, women will have cost-free access to reproductive health services.       
I expect that the same general programs will happen soon in California although Gov. Brown is not leading the way.  The Progressives nonetheless won control of the CA Democratic Party and San Francisco is leading the way in progresesive action and explicitly rejecting the POTUS anti-immigration initiatives.  

The latest Dem reaction to a replacement for Obamacare suggests that we are in for another few years of totally dysfunctional Federal Government.  If the states don't like POTUS executive orders they will just ignore them and do what they will.  Also it is clear that Federal funds will be worthless in the near future as no one will buy the debt to fund spending.  The rich cities and states will do OK without them but the crash in the states that depend on Federal funds will be catastrophic.  

Trumps latest threat to invade Chicago and now Philly if carried out will be an interesting test of what power POTUS has over a large city or state.  Just guessing, but it will be the shortest civil war in history.  I doubt that any military personnel will risk obeying that patently unlawful order.  The Nuremburg precedent is too recent. That is if much of the military remains after the resignations.      

Friday, January 20, 2017

2017 Inauguration Day Special. Balkanization is Now Complete.

The alt-right has done just what they said they were going to do: Make the Federal Government irrelevant to the governance of the USA? Many states are doing their own thing now about infrastructure, education, health care, housing, etc. with varying levels of success.

Musk is running the energy, automotive, and space programs. Zuckerberg is running communications. Google is running IT. China is running defense. The Native Americans are running land management. All the money in the USA isn't going to get much more fossil fuel out of the ground which incidentally is what all the money in the USA is trying to do. When the world recognizes that there will be a financial crash that nobody will notice as the Yuan is now the reserve currency for the world.

POTUS is taking weekends off. The Legislature is passing meaningless laws. The Supreme Court is ignored by everybody. The military is wasting what money it has left. And the voters have no relevance at all outside their own states.

There are a few States that are well governed, a few that might be in the near future, and a lot of failed states. The Federal Government has just abdicated all responsibility for any of them. Welcome to the next gen BSA or as I prefer to call it The Jefferson Republic.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Humanism and Cancer.

From a friend's facebook post:

I have enjoyed this medium for a long time. I love you all including the asses, but no longer want to socialize here. I'm going to stick with my kind as suggested. God help you in the future with this mess.

Build your silo and kick out the asses. It is a social media. Social groups have standards of membership or they can't survive. "They drew a circle that kept me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout." (Edwin Markham) And I own that circle. They are not welcome. There are times when inclusiveness fails. I never liked the end of the complete quote, 

I am a radical humanist in that all people are initially included in the humanist circle. They can opt out if they wish by behavior incompatible with humanism. This does not mean they are not still human it just means that they may need to be controlled or eliminated humanely for the protection of humanism.

Humans and humanism are prone to cancerous growths. I did not hate the cancer that was destroying my vocal instrument. But it could not be allowed to do so. The only choice was to poison all rapidly dividing cells in my body, dangerous to be sure, and in fact nearly fatal, but it was a risk I had to take to continue to enjoy my instrument. 

The cancerous cells in humanism must be treated in the same way. Do what it takes to eliminate them even if it is dangerous. If they take over the body politic humanism will be dead anyway.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stories and Tips about Traveling for a Living.

You know you travel too much when the receptionist at the airline club greets you at 6:30am with "I see it is Omaha this week," and hands you your boarding passes.  (Before TSA.) 

One thing I learned early on, was to stay at the same hotel chain and always ask for a right hand room.  That is the door is on the left and bed etc. on the right.  That way when you get up in the middle of the night to get rid of the used alcohol you know where the furnature is and don't run into it.  An equally important habit was to unpack as soon as I got to the hotel, hide all the evidence that it is a hotel room, and turn it into home even if it is for one night. The familiar setup of the right hand room makes it easy to forget it is just another hotel room.

 Take advantage of any cultural opportunities, preferably with a client or acquaintance, but solo if necessary. You can usually turn a seat mate into an acquaintance with a little effort or a drink at intermission.

 A fun NYC Blizzard memory was one I missed. I barely made a plane in Lincoln Nebraska when the gate agent asked if I wanted to spend the weekend in Lincoln or Chicago. I asked why and he said they have just shut down the entire East Coast. I called my favorite hotel at ORD and booked a room with key at Concierge Desk. They asked on Fri? Why. I told them EC shut down. Some shouting on the other end of the line. When I got to the concierge he said thanks to you we were able to keep the day shift on overtime, here is your key to the Luxury Suite as a reward. It was there I listened to Koch tell everybody to stay home and have a weekend party.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Not Left Wing

A decent and useful exposition of the traditional leftist positions. 


You don’t have to like me. You just have to believe I’m a human being.

The article above is an eloquent exposition of one the major tenets of humanism.  Once anyone, for any reason, becomes the enemy, the adversary, or in some sense other, and they forfeit humanity in the tribe or movement mores all hope for reconciliation is lost.  

You don't have to like herm or herm cause, but if you decide that hesh is less than human all that is left is hate.  And hate always leads to self-destructive actions.  You may oppose herm and resist as possible, or even ostracize herm if some reconciliation is impossible, but it is critical to remember that all are human, doing the best they can as they see it for humanity. 

It may be that another human or group of humans may opt out of the humanist circle by their behavior and it may be necessary to isolate them or eliminate them as humanely as possible, but they are and must remain human. 

Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes.  Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend.  If not you can kill him without hate -- and quickly.  Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love, Robert A Heinlein, 1973. 

Identity Politics.

The problem with identity politics is not class but divisiveness. If Black Lives Matter were Marginalized Lives Matter they would have a much more saleable product. As soon as any group no matter how important their grievance is, puts that grievance against the rest of the world as special for their group the rest of the world will identify a similar grievance for a group and create an us vs. them situation. 

How about Victims of Law Enforcement Discrimination Matter Anyone jailed by a corrupt judge, stopped and frisked by a cop, was a victim of civil forfeiture, women stopped and propositioned by a cop, or a bunch of other things that disproportionately affect blacks and hispanics now have a common cause. Sure the most affected will lead the way but not draw attention to their group for discrimination.

Advocacy politics has a place but only when they make common cause with all in the same situation. If the Hispanic Caucus, and the Black Caucus and the poor feminists caucus were working with Warren, Sanders and others to break the banksters that prey on them all they would have a much stronger political story to tell. One of the reasons Black Lives do not matter is that for decades they have been redlined out of the middle class by the banksters. The enemy is not the white male supremacists or even the white supremacist cops, it is the banksters who kept blacks and to a lesser extent Hispanics and single women locked in the ghetto even when it is a nicer ghetto.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Fables

As for the point in question here: yes, I know your dim memories of your 3rd grade history textbook is telling you that the first Thanksgiving was a happy union where the nasty Indians who had been capturing hapless Englishmen finally did something nice for once and helped the poor Pilgrims survive a harsh winter, but no, that didn't happen.

The actual history is that the first Thanksgiving feast was called by John Winthrop as a celebratory feast to welcome home the soldiers that had just massacred the entire Pequot tribe, who they'd declared war on because they wanted the land, and used as an excuse the fact that the Pequot had killed a slaver.

The original post on Facebook has been deleted. For the time being it will be unattributed.  But it is too good to pass up.

I learned a nicer version in my youth where the Pequots were not savages but recognized the plight of the innocent, distressed Pilgrims and set a feast before them.  Somehow Pocahantas was involved in the scene.  Not being a history buff by design especially in the third grade, the whitewash I learned remained as a nice fiction for the celebration. 

The family and friends dinner with thanksgivings common to all traditions became the focus of the holiday.  Almost as many thanksgiving fables were around the tables as there were people so the traditional ones were lost. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Jefferson Republic

The Unanimous Declaration of the City States of the Jefferson Republic.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these communities and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the party of the President  of the United States of America is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have limited the voting rights of all people by gerrymanders, voter ID laws, apportioning polling places to favored populations, and outright voter intimidation.

They have suppressed peaceful demonstrations of dissent with the improper use of military and police powers.

They have refused entry to the country based on religion and country of origin and have coerced legal immigrants to rescind their right of entry.  

They have abetted foreign interference in the election process of the country by foreign entities known to be enemies.  

They have given preference to nations in which the POTUS has existing business interests in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.   

They have failed in their constitutional duties to fill vacancies in necessary judicial offices.

They have imposed religious law on secular citizens.

They have encouraged assault against women and minorities.

They have discriminated against minorities in law enforcement including but not limited to stop and frisk laws, escalating minor violations through unwarranted use of deadly force and draconian sentences to private prisons for minor infractions.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the Jefferson Republic as a result of an affirmative plebiscite by three fifths of all adult human residents of the individual states on the 18th, 19th, and 20th day of February in the year 2017 appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these States solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Former United States of America and that all political connection between them and the Former United States of America, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

With Honor and respect to the Late Thomas Jefferson of the Virginia Colony.

Pursuant to This Declaration

The Jefferson Republic will be governed according to the Constitution of the United States of America as interpreted by SCOTUS as of the 31st Day of August in the year 2005.  The Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission SCOTUS decision of the 21st day of January in the year 2010 is by this declaration null and void.  

All officials duly elected to State and Local offices shall continue in their duty to their constituents or resign their office.  Officials
duly elected to National offices of the United States of America will transfer their allegiance to the Jefferson Republic or resign as their conscience dictates. 

An election will be scheduled in the Jefferson Republic on November 11-12, 2017 with all human residents over the age of 18 years eligible to vote.  Voting will be preferential among all individual candidates for office.  Slates of officials pledged to specific candidates are specifically prohibited.  Election districts will be contiguous and boundaries will conform to natural geographic divisions and/or historical city and village boundaries.

Other states, and/or major metropolitan areas may elect to join the Jefferson Republic by an affirmative vote of three fifths of all residents over the age of 18 to abide by the currently existing laws of the Jefferson Republic at the time of the vote.     


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why Reading is Fundamental.

This post was stimulated by the following retweet.
Jonathan Korman
3 hrs · 

Retweeted Naval Ravikant (@naval):
Text is precise, compact, indexable, transmissible, translatable, asynchronous & quick to absorb. Intelligent, busy people prefer text.
@naval is obviously talking about SMS text, but it is even more apt for extended texts. Please note the efficiency of a good tweet.  (If I had more time I might use Twitter.)

People have always asked me why I never got into movies, YouTube (except for music), or TV especially movies and TV shows based on books I have read and liked.
The most important reason is that I learned to read before I had even heard about movies and TV which hadn't become popular yet.  I read everything I could get my hands on. I once had a race down a school library book shelf with another reader friend of mine.  I had an adult library card at 8 yo. courtesy of my activist mother who went to bat for me at the local library which I used almost exclusively as the young adult section books were off limits to my elementary card.  I frequently strayed into the adult fiction section and found that I could learn about important social issues there more efficiently than in the news or the history sections.  A good fiction author must write believable stuff in order to sell no matter what the genre.

For me the most important advantage of text is that you must supply your own emotional context to text.  Visual and even aural media are designed to manipulate the emotional state of the consumer.  Humans are story driven, and the invention of writing gave readers much more control over the emotional impact of the story.  Not completely, of course, a good writer can influence the emotional content of his words, but the reader has a chance to process that emotional content at leisure if desired.

Another advantage of text is that it clearly indicates the intelligence, education, and sophistication of the writer by asynchronous textual analysis.  A speech or video may sound plausible, but analysis of the transcript is critical to evaluating the plausibility of the actor.