Thought for the age

Governments have no resources. They only have spending power insofar as they can arrogate to themselves a percentage of private production; meaning government spending is a consequence of economic growth rather than an instigator. The same applies to “money.” It’s not wealth; rather it’s an agreement about value that enables the movement of actual wealth. In short, abundantly circulated money is a consequence of production as opposed to an instigator.

Forbes article via RealClearMarkets

Space news this week

Articles at Space.Com, SpaceNews, etc.

NASA Has decided to launch one of its astrophysics craft on Falcon Heavy as well as the first parts of Lunar GateWay. These had putatively been ‘assigned’ by congress to the Senate Launch System also known as the Space Launch System (SLS) or what I call the Big Boeing Boondoggle (B3). Hopefully this is a sign of NASA and congressional common sense (I known! Who’d’a thought?) The B3 made some sense until Falcon Heavy was proven now it’s a vast resource ($ and brains) sink that we could do without.

So Boeing is also screwing us because NASA once more has to go to Russia to buy seats to the space station. The notes all imply SpaceX Dragon could cause this…but the reality it is only because Boeing Starliner is late and still in question.

On other Boeing Space Crap, why is it that we have paid billions for the Orion spacecraft for ‘ ‘ Deep SPACE Exploration’ ‘ and that looks a lot like the StarLiner which we paid some towards as well? OK Boeing put up something towards StarLiner…but look I work(ed) in this sector for a long time. Companies in it rarely really put much if anything up in reality. They game money and work are fungible. The contractors make the money coming in for one program cover work that they use on others, calling it ‘in kind contribution.’ And it is, in a green eye-shady way but not in any sense like work coming from the real cSpace sector.

Looking at SLS and new push into space, and the SLS and Orion craft, Boeing and NASA have evolved into a ‘married couple.’ Congressional parsimony and special interest driven oversight cause this all the time. NASA cannot really compete anything in the system because once Boeing got the main contract they could make it far too expensive for anyone else to get the work. Boeing then pulls in subs from all over the country (with political weight as important as technical or cost) to make sure that congress stays satiated. This is a negative way of looking at it and you can spin it positive with some ‘necessary’ downsides. The reality is that for large government programs (due to regulation, oversight and parsimony) you get very very little choice once the program is past early concept. Costs are baked in and out of control almost as soon as metal starts getting bent.

It’s cold and I’m cranky…nuff said…cheers

Of ratchets and slopes, slippery or otherwise

Crossbow and the crank/ratchet for cocking it medieval period, WikiCommons

As commented on before I pay attention to Scott Adams of Dilbert fame as an interesting thinker with a fairly well defined but undefinable political gestalt. Uber liberal realist Trump supporter is maybe the best description.

One of his mantra’s is that Slippery Slopes are Not a Thing.

The following is my interpretation of his position.

A point of view/policy item with a broad ‘option space’ and supporters on both ends, say like gun control, will slide in a direction that is acceptable to the general polity (something like the Overton Window) until some point it will no longer be acceptable. Those who wish to push the policy towards one end or the other will eventually meet resistance and be unable to move the policy further ‘their way’ until some change occurs. That change may move the policy ‘back’ or ‘forward’ but it is acceptability that controls. This says that the idea of a ‘slippery slope ‘with its imagery of reaching a point where you lose control and slide to some end point it false on its face.

Having thought about this I agree with the premise in a general sense.

Two, I think important, quibbles:

1) That in a highly emotional and very dynamic situation such as one might have in the ancient Demos of Greece, or say a Constitutional Congress, a French State Committee…, the slippery slope appears to me to be a real threat. The whole of the polity is in the fight as it were and there is no stable base of opinion to dampen high flights of rhetoric and emotion. In such situations you have a tendency to move to the end state without the intermediary and if this is then enforced on the outside world the results are likely to be calamitous if the topic is one with a high degree of emotional attachment with the broader public. The Demos were tiny isolated city states and they killed a few important people and destroyed themselves but it was in the end fairly evolutionary. The US constitution was very conservative in its basis and while the result was ‘liberal’ it was not that crazy and was in line with most of the populous, plus it was a huge area with a tiny population, where malcontents could often go west if they wanted. The French Revolution was a bloody multi decadal disaster because it didn’t have any other damper than time and blood….To a large degree I don’t see this as that active other than in a Social Network Today…to some degree it explains some of the crap that goes on in odd corners of the web.

2) More important than 1) is the fact that the ratchet is IMO real. That once a law or regulation is in place it tends to create a new baseline and constituency. If the issue is fairly hot there will be pushback but in general people are for stability and a law or regulation will become entrenched. It only takes time for that to then be the jumping off point for a new effort to extend whatever policy. This may not be very logical on its face but it is a reality and is one of the reasons that any human system tends to atrophy with time. So the party who tends to desire more law and regulation have a tendency to have the edge here and they will turn the crank on the ratchet whenever they get the chance.

While England is not the US in any sense one should look at it as a bit of a case study, though the lack of the 2nd Amendment is a huge factor. A century ago guns were rare more because of their cost than anything else. Then regulation started to build up. Because of no 2A and it was very gradual there was not much push back. Today not only is any kind of firearm in private possession effectively illegal so are any edged/pointed device inclusive of scissors. The ratchet is real…the slippery slope is a thing only in very constrained cases.

For Values of Duh

I used to be an IEEE member though I am an ME. IEEE spectrum is a great tech magazine and site. They have an article up Why Aren’t COVID Tracing Apps More Widely Used? , that seems a bit clueless, it starts…..

a new study suggests that trust and transparency are barriers for broader acceptance of the apps

Sub head of above

So…they needed a study to find this out? A type of app that tracks your location at all times and provides that to an cloud AI so it can figure out who you have been talking to, has trust issues, given what we KNOW about big tech?

Sheesh….

The Woke Purge is Beginning

From Maggies Farm: The Woke Purge is Beginning in total because it’s short and very clear:

“ Parler being dumped by Amazon Web Services wasn’t the first shot. Gab was in 2018. Gab is still around, though it is private now and subscription only. That may be the future for Parler and others like it which fill a need.

But going private isn’t the only solution, there are other solutions. But private is probably bes. However, being aware and adept at meeting the Progressive/Leftist challenges to free speech is essential. I am particularly fond of The Mises Institute’s approach.

This is a space in which I’m uniquely informed and aware. I’ve been seeing this slowly developing for years, and it’s been a growing concern. I’ve been told for years “oh it will never get that bad” and now it really is that bad. Many said Net Neutrality was necessary because the provider of the pipes would throttle, reduce and limit ability for sites and apps to work. Ironically, the purported supporters of Net Neutrality are the very same businesses who are throttling free speech – you know, the free speech they felt Net Neutrality was required to prevent OTHERS FROM THROTTLING THEM. Except, they will argue, ‘this is different’. It’s not. And Net Neutrality would have given these tech oligarchs more power to do this very kind of thing.

That said, because all this has happened slowly at first, then suddenly (due to the Capitol incident), Hemingway’s description of bankruptcy fits these moves restricting the freedoms on speech very well. When it’s taken, unlike bankruptcy – which is usually noticeable, this is going largely unnoticed and unmentioned. Or, at least, it’s being done in a manner many consider ‘acceptable’. Because the main beneficiaries are the very groups doing damage to free speech – the tech oligopolists. Who know ‘better than you’ about how things should be done, how you should live your life, and what you can or should say.

Don’t get me wrong. Tech in’t bad. Social media isn’t bad. It’s not inherently evil. It is ambivalent to morality. But individuals themselves can be good or bad, and as a result can have overbearing and long-lasting impacts on our realities. I’m sure Gutenberg was not loved by leaders of the day and “War of the Worlds” certainly sent many scurrying to talk of the damage radio can do. TV was described as a “vast wasteland” and Bill Gates felt there was little commercial value to the internet.

What is happening now requires individual awareness and action. It does NOT require fighting or violence. Just intelligence and smart, cordial and meaningful action. The Progessives are just starting, in my view. I don’t believe violence will help solve issues – it will be used to justify positions. But being louder, smarter and more aware will make a difference.Posted by Bulldog in Hot News & Misc. Short Subjects at 17:06 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
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Freedom vs Liberty

We talk a lot about freedom but it seems to me that this is a word that has a lost its gravitas in the current era. Maybe the older more difficult word liberty is the one we should use when we talk about fundamentals.

Freedom starts with that word Free, which may have had a noble meaning once but essentially triggers the ‘free stuff’ consumer sales instinct today. Free education, Free care, Free food, Free….whatever it is you think someone should have a right to for whatever reason.

The very word Free has been degraded to a economic term that means ‘worth less’ or worthless. One could see this as intentional neo-marxist thought war. It is certainly one of the reasons that a lot of low info types don’t realize that what they are asking for is has a great cost. Gov’t Free stuff is not free.

The word Liberty still has its gravitas. When you say you have liberty of conscience, liberty of person, liberty of property, liberty of word, liberty of action, you are saying things that seem to have weight and maybe make you and others think.

The US was set up as a nation of individual liberty, the individual sovereign over the government, the state strictly limited in its ability to interfere with the individual.

Giving up Freedom of speech to some seems almost trivial, it was free after all right? But if you are saying the government is effectively limiting your liberty of conscience, word and action, I think even those with a limited understanding of the issue might think again.

My read on the Capital crud storm

So I got a concerned eMail from an aunt in England after the crud storm in DC yesterday. Below is my way longer than she probably wanted explanation of what was going on after pointing out that the ‘broke’ media over reported something while casting the worst possible light on it. Below that is a take on the political posturing that led up to it.

The reality is that 4 years ago the Democratic Party screwed up and did not cheat sufficiently to beat the groundswell of support that carried Trump to the presidency. The apparatchiks who thought they had a lock on the future of the country were horrified.

They started a low level insurgency in the gov’t and in the streets where of municipalities where they had absolute hold. Make no mistake, up until yesterday every place you heard about that was having street protests and really riots and violence were in deeply Democratic centers where the mayors and councils could neuter the police and had already neutered the ability of the people to push back.

This last time the Democratic Party was prepared for the Trump support and overwhelmed it. To my mind it looks like cheating put Biden over the top, but that is hard to prove since it would have been a passively cellular network of cheating in densely populated centers they already controlled. Suppressing Trump votes (which were still huge by historical standards) and expanding their own. Much of the issue both pro and con were changing the rules due to ‘COVID’ and a huge concerted drive by both sides to expand the vote, providing a jungle of confusion regarding the reality.

What is going on now is a knock on to that. The reality is that the laws regarding our national elections (in a republic of very differently governed states) are Byzantine in their complexity. What I think few have realized until this last 2 months is that the system has no real way of dealing with systemic breakdown in voting which is highly state centric. While the ‘news’ says that the thousands of accusations of fraud have been ‘proven’ invalid nothing like that has happened. Except in a few trivial cases nothing has actually reached the point of presenting proof. In every significant case the court has refused to take the case because:1) The protest should have been made before the election, once the election happened the protest is void (even though there was no time before the election to know what was happening.) 2) The person(s) making the protest had no standing because they were not directly harmed. 3) The court did not have jurisdiction and thus even if they took the case could not remedy any fault found. 4) The court did not have any remedy period…which is essentially what the US Supreme Court said when the States protested other States patently fraudulent election results.

The above and Trumps refusal to back down is what triggered yesterday which was very peaceful until an idiot shot an unarmed protestor in the capital building where she in fact had something of a right (as a citizen) to be. It should also be noted that this was a Potemkin affair, the Mayor (deep rabid Democrat) pulled the police and closed things down to enable violent rioting (that did not happen.) Also pulled the police from the capital and the protective services essentially did not push back when the crowds started building up. Then the politicos went into deep political posturing for the cameras thus providing all sorts of wonderful propaganda fodder for the ‘new.’

Should the invasion have happened, no. Did Trump make it possible, yes. Did his opposition PULL the crowds in for propaganda purposes, YES. Did the capital burn down or suffer any significant damage, NO.

What you see is the marxist left pulling the liberal idiots into their grip so that they can start stripping the country of its assets as they have been doing in the UK for the last couple of decades (from my view over the pond.)

An interesting blog piece on the background I discussed above from Mark Tapscott at Instapundit:

“….. the more fundamental question is whether Congress has the authority to set aside a state’s Electoral College votes. In my view, there are two key aspects of the question:

First, is there sufficient evidence of fraud in states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and others to justify the decisions of Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri to register objections to the acceptance of their Electoral College votes? I haven’t had the opportunity to review all of the evidence for all of the allegations, but, as explained, for example, in this
“American Thought Leaders” interview on The Epoch Times with the Data Integrity Group, the evidence of vote manipulation in multiple states is substantial and cries out for a critical investigation.

Second, Congress has an absolute right to set aside the Electoral College votes, according to President Abraham Lincoln, who
told Congress on February 9, 1865, that “the two Houses of Congress, convened under the twelfth article of the Constitution, have complete power to exclude from counting all electoral votes deemed by them to be illegal, and it is not competent for the Executive to defeat or obstruct that power by a veto …”

The
process seen in Wednesday’s Joint Session, interrupted as it was by the riot around and within the Capitol, was conducted as prescribed in the Constitution. Each properly framed and submitted objection to the acceptance of a state’s certified Electoral College votes gets two hours of debate in the Senate and the House, at the end of which members of both chambers vote on whether to accept or reject the objection.

Congress considered objections in 1969 (the “faithless elector” of North Carolina) and 2005 (Democrat objection to awarding Ohio’s votes to President George W. Bush) under this process and rejected the propositions. But Congress could have accepted the objections, which would have left Electoral College votes on the floor.

This reality should not surprise anybody who is familiar with the manner in which the Founders wrote the Constitution as a “legislative supremacy” document. So long as the Senate and House are of one will, Congress has, as Willmoore Kendal and George Carey
wrote, “all of the ultimate weapons in any showdown with either of the other two branches.”

Congress doesn’t like a program or action favored by the President? Congress can defund it. To cite but two examples: Congress doesn’t like how the Supreme Court is ruling? Congress can change the composition of the Court. If Congress has the will, the Founders gave it the power to do pretty much as it pleases so long as it respects the Bill of Rights.

Bottom Line: There is substantial evidence that Congress could have relied upon,
had it chosen to do so, in deciding to exclude the Electoral College votes of any of the challenged states Wednesday and thereby made either Joe Biden or Donald Trump our next Chief Executive.

Had I been a senator or representative Wednesday, I would have voted to uphold the challenges presented for Arizona and Pennsylvania (as well as those planned prior to the riot for Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada), on the basis of the Data Integrity Group’s statistical analysis, not because doing so would have given Trump another four years in office, but because somebody ought to go to jail after pulling off what is likely the biggest election theft in American history.

Either we have honest elections or we don’t.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader CptNerd for
this link to much easier to read version of the full Lincoln quote. I used the Congressional Globe link because the whole page makes interesting, though difficult to decipher in places, reading.”

Nuff said…

American Fascism, Political-Industrial-Oligarchic

The Threat of Authoritarianism in the U.S. is Very Real, and Has Nothing To Do With Trump

Glenn Greenwald
Journalist; co-founder, The Intercept; author, No Place to Hide and forthcoming book on Brazil; animal fanatic & founder of HOPE Shelter.
(L-R): Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY,TOBIAS SCHWARZ,ANGELA WEISS,MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Unfortunately on the nose. We do not have a representative democracy we have and probably have had an Oligarchic Republic. This only becomes more obvious as the Republic (power split down to and exercised at various geographic/social sub units) is over run by the federal (central) government where the oligarchs can focus their power to get the biggest bang for their bucks.

The confusion and purposeful distortion of the words/meanings of-democracy, representative-democracy, republic, federal…and others is probably more important than the issues with the presidency. The more centralized power is the more important controlling the levers on that power becomes.

Meaning of Liberty

Triggered in the best possible way by the following, Benjamin Constant, writing on meanings of liberty, ancient vs modern, in 1819 France. Read the whole thing it is shockingly applicable today.

This is related to the idea of todays forming Neo Feudalism and to a degree the concept of the Individual and sovereignty.

Constant lays out that in ancient times liberty (for the tightly defined citizen) was extremely broad and powerful, in Greece and early on in Rome, the citizens as a body had essentially unlimited power to wage war, make piece, expel, execute, as far as their power extended. But as individuals they were controlled, watched, forced to conform. This was possible because the citizens were a smallish percentage of the total population and well enough off to spend a huge part of their time debating.

In a practical sense these citizen assemblies were more like our Legislators than our citizens, though with arbitrary and absolute power. But Constant follows the traditional line and does not make this distinction. In part because he still lived in a world of urban aristocratic elites supported by a huge rural underclass.

In counter to ancient liberty he explains modern liberty as about the individual vs. arbitrary power of any kind. Essentially it is about the individual and their ‘happiness’ in the sense of controlling their own life and own concerns with the expectation that society and the hand of society (the government) has strictly limited power to interfere.

He points out that individual liberty is what humans really want but in the case of the ancients were willing to sacrifice for collective liberty since in their small and always threatened polities it was glaringly obvious that it was cooperate or be enslaved.

That stark choice is still there but hidden by the immensity and generally good living of the modern world. Governments span continents not little seaside towns and in the developed world we never want for goods unless we are ‘unlucky’ in some way. So the real power of gov’t is far from obvious to most, if you go along you get along and only criminals or sociopaths get in trouble…right? If everyone is on the same page maybe, but in a world of oligarchs, elites, yeomen, plebs and deplorables everyone is not on the same page any longer.

During the later 19th and through the 20th century there was, in the west and US, in retrospect, a fairly concerted effort to keep everyone on ‘the same page ‘ But as the echoes of WWI reverberated, the liberal republican concepts came under increasing threat from political philosophies we call communism, socialism, marxism, fascism, and their social outreaches of materialism, deconstructionism, etc. The ‘conservative-liberal’ mainstream dealt with the geo political threats fairly well but the social political attacks came through chinks in the armor that ‘freedom of expression and thought’ leave wide open. Children and Intellectuals are particularly attracted to the avant-garde, new, kind, progressive, and while many of them grew out of it as they moved through life ,all too many became entrapped in the mind fog if they did meet the real world of real people and real trade offs that the schools of hard knocks provide.

And so we are today a country, a civilization under threat of our own success. The varigated liberty of the constitutional republic has been hollowed out due to pragmatic, lazy, risk averse decisions by the interlocking social, fiscal, judicial, etc elites.

We deconstructed education, society, civility in the name of equality but without a consensus of what was going to replace those things and others. Deconstruction occurred in the shadows, the termites were at work on the frame with no replacement under construction because no one could agree on even a need as long as the old structure was there. Unfortunately no one told the termites to stop.

As this became somewhat obvious there were those, maybe many, who said, ‘let it crash,’ ‘let it burn,’ ‘tear it down’ because it represented something that they defined as completely evil, even if the same underpinnings being eaten away kept the roof over their head and provided protection for their food and defined their safety from the wild.

The problem is that the people who most want it torn down least understand what it took to create and what it protects them from.

If you look at things a certain way you can see the US, the West sliding towards something all too like the Chinese model. Perhaps a kinder gentler version but that is no certainty.

Is there a way out? ?

Was there a way in?

My view is that we stumbled and mumbled our way here. Reality is that nothing here was planned. We live with the contingent outcomes of unplanned inputs. it is possible that this outcome was expected by some but they are unlikely to have had any ability to direct it.

It does not really appear possible to plan anything like a society any longer unless it is a subset of self selected actors. And since humans are human no such society will last longer than about half an average human lifetime.

So?

It is what it is.

Don’t see evil around every corner, there is evil in the world but it is rare in the wild. Most people just believe what they believe they learned somewhere. They are most likely wrong (as am i.).

And remember this, over the sweep of time things have been getting better for more and more (in absolute and relative terms) people across time. There have been crashes and horrors but most people most of the time were relatively happy. The up slope was ver, very low ten thousand years ago but it has been steepening as it goes. While the whiners all see disaster ahead the reality is that there are solutions for every problem we (as a world civilization) have. Where we are going in any one part at any one time is always a bit of a random walk but that walk is usually uphill (in the best sense.)

Stay strong, be happy, work at making a difference.

Oligarchic Jousting vs republicanism

The IM-1776 review Neo Feudalism or New Class War is ,as good non fiction book reviews should be, a thoughtful look at the books and discussion of the core thesis.

Michael Lind in The New Class War and Joel Kotkin in The Coming of Neo-Feudalism both demonstrate the defunct nature of the ‘socially liberal, fiscally conservative’ worldview that dominated post-Cold War politics. Lind’s central contention is that, because it creates vast power inequalities, class matters as much now as in pre-modern politics, in spite of our democratic aspirations. Kotkin, on the other hand, argues that class divisions now resemble the Middle Ages specifically. Both books herald a society we should strive to avoid.

IM-1776, Neo Feudalism or New Class War, Henry George

As a side note IM-1776, an online magazine, appears to be a very promising source of thoughtful discussion on society from a somewhat acerbic point of view.

Have not read either book, but have them on the list of possible future reads. Possible because from Mr. George’s review I have to say that I have absorbed much of what they think from a broad swath of other reading and my own thinking on the topic of where we are and where we might be going. It is also interesting that Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) our populist public philosopher seems to be paralleling the threads woven here but I see his perceptions as being driven from dynamic understanding of the online gestalt rather than analytical sourcing.

Put rather bluntly the gestalt of the populace regarding their own nation is largely illusory. That while the theory and form of gov’t is one thing the reality is largely different. While we think this is a republic where the ‘will of the people’ rules the reality is that a small number of people establish what that ‘will’ is through control of the focus of the media and the ‘rules of the game’ via law and regulation.

If you look beyond America, at some extreme examples, you may see a distorted mirror of this. That in places like the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, the ‘people’ who could rise up and blot out the ‘establishment’ don’t. Because the ‘hive mind’ that is our base perception is convinced that the status quo is as good as it gets or at worst is so ingrained with everyone else that your rising against would be useless.

Recently Scott Adams pointed out that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook invested 10’s of millions in changing the voting rules in many places to increase the % of people voting. That you might see this as a driving factor in why certain places saw unprecedented voting, which tipped the balance to Zombie Joe instead of Orange Man Bad. (Now I happen to think that unprecedented levels of cheating had something to do with this as well but am willing to see MZ’s contribution as having a large, perhaps overwhelming effect… perhaps by making cheating easier?)

So Scott Adams said, (roughly) maybe Mark Zuckerberg’s is really the only vote that counted in this last election. Please note that Scott Adam’s is purposefully hyperbolic in many cases to get his thoughts to stick ‘directionally’ (which is how he sees a lot of Trump’s messaging on Twitter.)

What has evolved in the Post Cold War west is a form of Oligarchy with a surface wash of Republican representative democracy. The forms that Japan, Korea, Europe, even Russia and China took on are in essence what we have evolved to. You could say that the US was ALWAYS this way to some significant extent. With the Oligarchs jousting, politely’ each other and to a large extent, ‘following the will of the people.’ And if that then those other states maybe saw this more clearly than ‘we’ did and followed along since it clearly left the Oligarchs in charge while also providing them a safety buffer against the pitchforks and tiki torches.

If this is the future (and maybe it explains the past?) then one has to hope that the oligarchs who manipulate (for that is what it is) the people’s thinking have the best interests of the country in mind and are smart enough to know what that is before the results of past actions come to fruition. Because the rest of us are going to be suffering when the ‘best minds’ screw up.