Free Markets, Free People


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2016 California Ballot Propositions

Once again, it’s time to look at the ballot propositions the special interests…er…voters of California have gotten on the ballot for the Voters to approve.


Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new construction and modernization of K–12 public school facilities; charter schools and vocational education facilities; and California Community Colleges facilities.

NO. California voters are suckers for every single school bond issue, even though it takes up most of the state budget, and we spend loads on schools. Which, essentially, graduate illiterates.


Extends indefinitely an existing statute that imposes fees on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal health care services, care for uninsured patients, and children’s health coverage.

NO. This is a sleight of hand deal that keeps the fees, but removes the requirement that the $3 billon collected be spent on health care.


Requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for certain projects if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion.

YES. Not that it’ll do any good, given the voters’ propensity for approving bond measures, but ineffectual fiscal constraints are better than none.


Prohibits Legislature from passing any bill unless published on Internet for 72 hours before vote. Requires Legislature to record its proceedings and post on Internet. Authorizes use of recordings.

YES. The CA Democratic Party opposes it, so I assume it’s an unalloyed good. Also, it’ll stop last minute gutting and amending.


Extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000, with revenues allocated to K–12 schools, California Community Colleges, and, in certain years, healthcare.

NO. These increased taxes were supposed to sunset in 2018, but Democrats, being good Democrats, think they can spend your money better than you can. Beside, if you’re rich, you probably don’t deserve it anyway. Well, I say, screw the commie bastards.


Increases cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increase on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine.

NO. Go back to 1670, you self-righteous Puritan jerks. I don’t what’s worse, the Puritanism, or the greed to extract every possible cent they can from the populace. Oh, also, only 13% of the money goes to smoking cessation programs. The rest goes to health insurance companies.


Allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons. Authorizes sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, and education. Provides juvenile court judge decides whether juvenile will be prosecuted as adult.

YES. But kind of an ambivalent yes, because some “non-violent” offense classifications actually…aren’t. Overall, though, I’m not sure why non-violent offenders need to be kept in prison, so I’m for it, on balance, even though I know the CADoC will find some way to screw it up.


Preserves requirement that public schools ensure students obtain English language proficiency. Requires school districts to solicit parent/community input in developing language acquisition programs. Requires instruction to ensure English acquisition as rapidly and effectively as possible. Authorizes school districts to establish dual–language immersion programs for both native and non–native English speakers.

NO. Basically everything the paragraph above says is untrue. What it actually does is eliminate all of the restrictions on the legislature to alter California’s English-only policy. In other words, under the guise of preserving English-language instruction, it gives the legislature the power to repeal it by a simple majority vote.


Asks whether California’s elected officials should use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment to the federal Constitution overturning the United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

NO. Basically, this a proposition that authorizes the CA legislature to ask Congress to overturn Citizens United. California Democrats love this, because they’re stupid.


Requires adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations. Requires producers to post condom requirement at film sites.

NO. Both the California Democratic Party and California Republican Party oppose this measure, because no one wants to see porn ruined. Oh, and also, no one wants to lose that nice porn tax money to Florida.


Prohibits state from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at price over lowest price paid for the drug by United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Exempts managed care programs funded through Medi–Cal.

NO. In the real world, what will happen is that the price cuts the VA gets will simply disappear, and medicine prices for veterans will increase, rather than prices decrease for all Californians. The VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, and Vietnam Veterans of America all oppose it.


Repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to existing death sentences. Increases the portion of life inmates’ wages that may be applied to victim restitution.

YES. I have no objection, philosophically, to the death penalty. But we do an awful job in California of imposing it. I don’t trust this state with the power to kill me.


Requires background check and Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Prohibits possession of large–capacity ammunition magazines. Establishes procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by specified persons. Requires Department of Justice’s participation in federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

NO. This is another attempt to effectively repeal the 2nd Amendment. I will never compromise on this.


Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older. Imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Provides for industry licensing and establishes standards for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation.

YES. Being of a libertarian bent, I don’t think it’s any of the government’s damn business if I want to smoke vegetable matter. Oh, and the war on drugs has been a practical failure, and has done much to restrict liberty.


Redirects money collected by grocery and certain other retail stores through mandated sale of carryout bags. Requires stores to deposit bag sale proceeds into a special fund to support specified environmental projects.

NO. So, this is confusing. In an effort to reduce plastic bag sales, the Legislature mandated that grocery stores sell paper carryout bags, but allowed them to keep the money from these sales. A “Yes” vote on this proposition would keep the bag requirement, but take away all the sales revenue and give it to the general fund. It’s another money grab by Commies.


Changes procedures governing state court challenges to death sentences. Designates superior court for initial petitions and limits successive petitions. Requires appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to accept death penalty appeals. Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods.

NO. The opposite of Prop 62, this initiative will make killing convicts a bit easier and quicker. So, I guess we’ll see if Californians want the state to stop killing people, or do it faster. Or—and this is possible—both. (Though, obviously, if Prop 62 passes, this proposition becomes irrelevant, even if it passes.)


A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, a statute that prohibits grocery and other stores from providing customers single–use plastic or paper carryout bags but permits sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags.

NO. I use these plastic bags to clean dog poo from my back yard.  A “Yes” vote means each bag will cost me ten cents. Screw that. Oh, and food poisoning from reusable cloth/paper bags will kill some number of children and elderly people each year.

That’s this election’s ballot measures, and glimpse into what political life is like in California.

Less than five months before this program terminates

While Not AmericaDestroyed
   AndAlso Date.Now.Compare(#20170120#) < 0
End While

It looks like the AmericaDestroyed flag isn’t going to quite make it to true before termination by the date condition.

Apologies to any of you Java or C# devs. I still use Visual Basic as my main language. Besides, it’s a bit easier for non-developers to follow.


An update to my discussion about our presidential candidate Hildroid Clintabot

Four days ago, I gave my unserious take on our presidential election, including the explanation that I couldn’t support the android candidate for the Democrats. I mentioned that her honesty and humor modules seemed to have problems.

After that, the candidate admitted to having a short circuit. A surprising admission for a robot, but perhaps it was a side effect of an attempt to fix her honesty module. She also admitted to an intention to raise taxes on the middle class, which seems odd when many middle class taxpayers currently send almost half of what they make to various levels of government. I find it hard to believe that middle class taxpayers want to send even more. Again, perhaps the attempted fixes to the honesty module are responsible.

The reptilian alien candidate lost little time seizing on these admissions:

In addition to the earlier faults I mentioned in the android’s programming, it appears that the stair-climbing module is quite buggy:

It’s been a problem for a while, apparently:



I’m sure the DNC’s has a team of programmers and engineers feverishly attempting to fix or hide these flaws.

The wages of Socialism

“Wages” being a euphemistic term in this case:

Home to the world’s worst economy, Venezuela is beset by severe food shortages, riots in the streets and hyperinflation that’s closing in on 700 percent. World oil prices have plummeted — and Venezuela relies on oil for 95 percent of its income.

Agriculture was neglected as Chavez and Maduro placed all their economic chips on crude and elected to import goods from abroad while spending on social programs that rallied the poor behind the government.

But now Venezuela has no cash to import food or other essentials. And because Chavez nationalized so much industry, it has no private sector to compensate.

So Maduro has now issued an executive decree that subjects all workers to being forced to work for 60 days (or more, “if circumstances merit”) in the fields, growing badly needed food.

Economically, the move makes no sense. Morally, it’s barely one step up from government-sanctioned slavery.

And there’s a Senator from Vermont that would love to see the system that is sliding into slavery at work here.  More intriguing is the fact that there are studies out that say that Sanders should have won the primary election that was apparently fraught with fraud and rigged from the beginning.  Think about that for a minute.

What does that say – other than total ignorance – about those who felt it was a good idea to “feel the Bern”?  Not that Bernie would have had much success in passing and implementing his programs.  I’m simply making the point that a significant portion of our population thought this potential tyrant was the best choice because – historic blinders, ignorance or both.  Not that anyone is getting a particularly better deal with the two nominees of record (one a crook and the other a clown).

What continues to puzzle me is how Venezuela, which is in the news every single day and pretty much implemented every one of Bernie Sanders policies and programs, is ignored so resolutely by these people.  How do you do that and call  yourself intellectually honest?

But considering their second choice, honesty – intellectual or otherwise – doesn’t seem to be much of a priority.

So there’s that …


Hillary’s challenge from the even farther left

How unattractive a candidate is Hillary Clinton?  Well, first she’s not the first female to nominated for president by a US political party (you have to put “major” in front of “political party” for that to be true and only if you think that difference matters).  The Green Party has been doing it for years.

Speaking of the Green Party, this is how unattractive a candidate Clinton is … among her own kind:

Now that Hillary Clinton has officially won the Democratic presidential nomination, chances are we’re going to hear a lot more about Jill Stein. The Green Party candidate, currently polling in the low single digits nationally, has been gunning for the support of disaffected Bernie Sanders fans, urging them to “keep the revolution going” by getting behind her own long-shot White House bid. Tuesday, she was on hand at the Democratic convention to meet aggrieved Sanders delegates, some of whom formed a small crowd around her to chant, “Bernie or Jill.” Thanks to progressive grassroots rage, she may well peel off a few percentage points of the vote come the fall, when she’s expected to be on the ballot in about 47 states.

That would be lovely.  In fact, I’ve read in more than one place that votes for the Johnson/Weld libertarian ticket might actually find votes on both sides of the political spectrum, those from the left coming from “dissatisfied Democrats” who can’t stomach Clinton. How bad is it when the chosen candidate (she was certainly not “elected”) can’t even dampen the fire of contention in her own party?

And, finally, a recent poll found Clinton’s unfavorable rating to be atmospheric in relation to other presidential candidates in recent presidential elections.  Like not even close!

Look, we all know Stein is Sanders in a skirt.  An unrealistic, economically illiterate Socialist platform based on wishes, hopes, unicorns and rainbows.  But frankly, if it’s enough to siphon off votes from Clinton, I say let the unicorns stampede.

This could end up being a very interesting election after all.


Awaiting Act II of the charade called “democracy”

Act II, of course, being the Democratic National Convention where the fix was in from the beginning for the chosen son, or in this case witch.

Everyone expected the RNC to be a circus, but this particular convention promises to take the cake.  Thus the 4 mile fence they’ve built around the venue to keep the plebs at a distance.

So, Democratic voters, you really thought you had a role in all of this?  Bwaahaaahahaha.  You hadn’t a chance of deciding.  Your vote was simply part of the stage props necessary in the attempt to keep the facade of “democracy” alive.  The Superdelegates picked long before the first vote was cast had already decided the contest.  You were window dressing.

And I have to tell you, I am loving the Wikileaks DNC email dump.  Latinos are part of the “Taco Bowl” constituency.  Just shut up, grab a burrito and vote for Hillary.  They’ll ignore you later.

Meanwhile, it appears “Clinton, Inc.” is having a pre-move in sale:

The documents, which were circulated among top DNC officials in April, could raise legal questions for the party, says Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.

“The disclosed DNC emails sure look like the potential Clinton Administration has intertwined the appointments to federal government boards and commissions with the political and fund raising operations of the Democratic Party,” Boehm told The Daily Caller.

“That is unethical, if not illegal.”

The claim now circulating is the DNC server was hacked by Russia.  But Hillary’s server?  As safe as the gold in Ft. Knox, rest assured.

What a world we live in.  We have two of the worst candidates – that’s right, there is no “lesser of two evils” this time – running for a job in which they’ll each try to outdo the current worst president the US has ever suffered under.

As for the profession of “journalism”, you know what to expect:

At the beginning of the Republican National Convention last week, NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer confronted presidential nominee Donald Trump about dialing down the intensity of the passions percolating at the event. “Would you be willing to make a pledge to speak to everyone involved in this convention and say, ‘Please tone down the rhetoric’?” Lauer urged. “Can you say to the people who are going to take to that podium this week, ‘No personal attacks, no vitriol, keep it civil?”

The irony there is that political journalists themselves, Lauer included, have become as inflammatory as the politicians they lecture about incivility. In the aftermath of last month’s Orlando terrorist massacre at a gay nightclub, for example, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper badgered the increasingly offended Attorney General of Florida interminably about her stance on gay marriage. More recently, Fox News’ Shepherd Smith berated Gov. Bobby Jindal for using the “divisive” phrase “All lives matter.” CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who wears her biases as openly as her keffiyeh, hammered away contentiously at British MP Daniel Hannan for nine minutes over the recent Brexit vote.

Screw it.


Vote Properly, You Virulent Racist!

It’s been interesting watching the commentary about the British electorate’s choice to Leave the European Union. In many ways it reflects the pre-Brexit arguments of the Remain camp, which was essentially that all right-thinking people should vote remain and that those who didn’t were just racists and nationalists. That sort of analysis has even leaked into supposedly non-political outlets like Jalopnik, one of whose stories about Boris Johnson’s checkered career as an automotive journalist began with this:

Boris Johnson, the flop-haired ex-mayor of London, has been an outspoken supporter of Brexit, or however you call the thing where old scared racist people in the UK want to keep brown people out of their country and think that ditching the shitshow that is the EU is going to help them with that.

Well, there you go. A perfectly condescending dismissal of any idea that leaving the European Union had any intellectual support at all.

Less blunt was the New York Times, who began an article about the residents of Sunderland, a strongly Labour constituency in northern England that voted overwhelmingly for Leave, thusly:

Sunderland stunned the country when voters overwhelmingly opted to leave Europe in Thursday’s referendum, by 61 percent to 39 percent. It was a far higher vote for Britain’s exit than pollsters had predicted, and it was the first sign that Prime Minister David Cameron’s gamble on staying in the bloc had lost.

Sunderland’s citizens seem to have voted against their own interests. Not only has the city been a big recipient of European money, it is also the home of a Nissan car factory, Britain’s largest, and automobiles produced there are exported, duty free, to Europe.

The citizens of Sunderland seemed not to have been impressed by this or other advantages, such as:

They can swim at the Sunderland Aquatic Center, a £20 million project with an Olympic-size pool that the European Union helped finance. They can send their children to the sleek, modern Sunderland University campus, which also received union financing.

European Union money also helped establish Sunderland Software City, a business center that offers support and advice to aspiring software entrepreneurs.

Sounds great, except…

However splashy these projects may be, they remain largely inaccessible to Sunderland’s working class. Many cannot afford the £30 monthly fees at the Aquatic Center, and people in the nearby Washington neighborhood said they had never set foot inside.

As for Sunderland University, the tuition, which the government recently raised, is too much for many young people.

The article goes on to note that Sunderland has one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK.

So, how is voting Leave a vote against their interests? Well, let’s hand wave our way past that question, which, really, no right-thinking person would ask.

No, on second thought, let’s not, though to properly unpack this, we have to consider many things.

There’s a growing sense, not only in Great Britain, but in the US as well, that the elites, or the political class, or whatever you’d like to call them, are incompetent and have been leading us astray. And the response from elites is to call those criticisms illegitimate. Those doing the carping are assumed to be racists or nationalists, both of which, of course, are unpleasant, dirty types of people. Both the UK’s Leavers and the US’s Trumpers share some commonalities. Among them are skepticism over free trade and free immigration; concerns that elites dismiss as foolish and uneducated. And, of course racist.

But perhaps the Leavers weren’t so concerned with brown people because they were brown, but because they were concerned at seeing buses being blown up in London, British soldiers being beheaded in broad daylight in the High Street, and dozens of children being raped for years in Rotherham. Perhaps, the British people have come to wonder about immigration because many immigrants seem less interested in becoming British than they are in making Britain more like the Middle East. And, maybe, just maybe, the Leavers prefer to live in Britain, in the free and modern culture that has developed over the last 1,500 years, rather than go back to live in the year 692. Maybe they wouldn’t be any more interested in living in the 13th-century culture of Richard the Lion-Hearted any more than they are in living in the Dark Age culture of Middle Eastern immigrants.

When people come into your country from elsewhere, they don’t do so simply as fungible economic units, but as real people, who bring along cultural and political ideas that may conflict those that are traditional in your country. It is almost at the point where elites cannot even conceive of an argument that implies the superiority of one culture over another, so they dismiss this argument as nationalism and nativism. But, the thing is, a free society that continually imports immigrants who have no interest in individual liberty, religious freedom, and political pluralism, will eventually have none of those things. The problem isn’t race. It’s culture.

National sovereignty means something. At the very least, it means that the people of a country have the absolute right to restrict immigration to the sort of people that will, in their judgement, benefit the country, and, once the immigrants arrive, to force them to assimilate to the country’s national culture more than the country accommodates the culture of the immigrant. No obligation exists, in any sense whatsoever, that requires the people of a country to allow entry to immigrants who desire to transform the country into something different. It is entirely legitimate to reject calls for sharia in the UK, just as it’s entirely legitimate to be upset by seeing political protestors in the US waving Mexican flags or wearing “Make America Mexico Again” hats, explicitly letting us know where their primary political allegiance lies. Nor is it illegitimate to wonder why such people are in this country, and not in the corrupt shithole of a country that they so obviously prefer, yet so oddly fled.

Even on an economic level, questions of culture and country aside, people know whether they are better off today than they were 20 years ago. That’s true whether you’re an unemployed shipbuilder in Sunderland, or a textile worker in North Carolina, where about 650 textile plants closed between 1997 and 2009. A carpenter in Norwalk, CA, where low wages due to nearly uncontrolled immigration from Mexico and points south have made it impossible to raise a family on a tradesman’s salary, can see it happening, just as a plumber in Lincolnshire can see his wages drop as an influx of Polish tradesmen pour in.

One of the interesting demographic results of the Brexit vote was that people over 50 years of age were overwhelmingly in favor of Leave, while people under 30 just as keenly supported Remain. The standard explanation, as Jalopnik presented it, is simply that older people are reflexively racist against “the brown people”. Conversely, I submit that the older people have a breadth of perspective that enables them to judge what the country was like prior to submitting to the EU, compare it to the country’s situation today, and determine whether the result is an improvement. They’ve seen industry leave the north of England and an influx of immigrants who either don’t seem all that interested in becoming British or whose arrival has depressed wages for working people. Apparently, they’ve decided that’s not the Britain they were promised in 1975 or the one they want to leave to their children. Perhaps their children disagree, but those children have never had the opportunity to learn that things could be different. Indeed, they’ve been constantly taught the opposite by an education system and popular culture that characterizes Euroskepticism, as well as skepticism about free trade and unrestricted immigration, as aberrant and racist.

Now, it may be true that free trade is a net benefit. But even in the best of circumstances, such as assuming that NAFTA and the WTO are actually free trade agreements—a dubious assumption1—the benefits of free trade are widespread and diffuse, while the closure of textile plants and steel mills leave highly visible victims and long-term job losses for certain communities. That’s a political problem, not an economic one, and it’s one that elites haven’t addressed well. As a result, it’s biting them in the ass, whether it’s an unexpected Leave win for Brexit or an unexpected presidential nomination for Donald Trump. Remember, the Leave vote won even in the traditionally Labour-voting constituencies of northern England. Either working people don’t understand what’s going on in their own lives, or the promises of the elites haven’t been born out by their actual experience. Which is more likely?

But let’s go even further. Even if you could prove that, on balance, free trade is an unquestionable economic benefit, people might still prefer to be measurably poorer if that’s the price that must be paid to maintain their traditional social and political cultures. (This has even more relevance in the case of the EU, because the EU actually has power. Imagine if NAFTA had an unelected Commission in Ottowa or Mexico City that could impose laws on the United States.) Perhaps people don’t regard their economic interests as important as their national or cultural interests. It doesn’t matter what elite opinion thinks the people’s most important interests are. In a democratic society, ultimately, it only matters what the people think they are. People get to determine their own priorities, and not have them dictated by elites. The people get to answer for themselves the question, “In what kind of country do I want to live?”

Of course, I would argue that we don’t have truly free trade or, increasingly, a free economy in the United States. The Progressives  always look at the rising income inequality and maintain that it’s the inevitable result of capitalism. That’s hogwash, of course, and Proggies believe it because they’re dolts. But the problem in this country isn’t free trade—we have precious little of it—or unrestricted capitalism, since we have precious little of that as well. The issue behind rising income inequality isn’t capitalism, it’s cronyism. Income isn’t being redirected to the 1% because capitalism has failed, it’s happening because we abandoned capitalism in favor of the regulatory crony state and its de facto collusion between big business/banking interests and a government that directs capital to favored political clients, who become “too big to fail”. It doesn’t matter, for instance, whether the president is a Democrat or Republican, because we know the Treasury Secretary will be a former—and future—Goldman Sachs executive.

Indeed, what we call “free trade” nowadays isn’t the Theory of Comparative Advantage in action. It’s corporations being allowed to ship jobs to low wage countries overseas to offset the cost of regulatory burdens in the US that restrict competition from new entrants to the market. That works great for large corporations.  Not only do they get to offset the regulatory costs by overseas production, but slower job growth in the US flattens domestic wages, too, and sends millions out of the labor force altogether. For working people, the biggest financial rewards from the current “free trade” regime seem mainly reaped by large business and banking interests. Again, people know if their own lives are better or worse than they used to be, and if the promises of elites have been born out by their own experience.

The game is increasingly stacked against small business. We’ve made it harder and harder for working people to start or stay in business, restricted their access to finance and capital, and forced them to knuckle under to onerous regulatory burdens. Even with flat middle class wages keeping labor costs in check, the regulatory burden restricts small business formation. As a result, working people have begun begin to feel trapped. They see no way to improve their lives and they can see their own incomes stagnating—as middle class incomes have, in fact, been stagnating for at least 20 years.

Add to that the additional downward wage pressure that everyone agrees is the inevitable result of increasing the supply of labor through large-scale immigration. Then top it off with immigrants refusing to assimilate to culture of the host country in seemingly greater numbers. Now you have all of the necessary elements for a political revolt by the people the elite see as the rubes and hayseeds in flyover country. Rather than foreseeing and trying to ameliorate the results of these trends, the elite have chosen to ignore them at very least, or dismiss them with contempt at worst.

Most people, most of the time, are perfectly happy to let elites run the country. After all, it seems to make the elites happy to run run things, and as long as they’re reasonably competent at it, and do it reasonably unobtrusively, no one much seems to care. But when elite competence is compromised by faulty ideology and cronyism, people become unhappy. And when the elite response to complaints is dismissal or insult, political problems begin to bloom. People begin to think about politics. They begin to do things. It is no coincidence, as our Soviet friends used to say, that the last decade has seen the rise of the TEA Party, the Occupy Movement, and the Trump phenomenon. People of all political stripes are becoming unhappy.

I think we’re about to watch the elites start paying a price for their incompetence, inattention and contempt. Euroskepticism is on the rise elsewhere in Europe. If EU membership were put to a popular vote in the Netherlands, Spain, or Sweden, there is a good chance that Leave would win there, too. Indeed, it’s possible that a vote to leave the EU might even win in France, the nation for whom creating and strengthening the EU has been the primary policy goal for 60 years.

Perhaps the “Vote Remain, you virulent racist!” PR campaign for staying in the EU needs a bit more thought.

So, too, does the idea that Donald Trump supporters are all rubes and hayseeds. However much we might dislike the messenger, and Trump is certainly dislikable, and however slim his personal characteristics make his chance of winning the current election, the fact is that his message has gained much more ground than most thought possible a year ago. The key elements of that message are the same ones that resulted in a Leave vote in the UK. In the hands of a more astute politician, how much more effective would that message be?

I leave it to you to ponder the answer to that question.


1 By the way, free trade doesn’t require agreements and treaties. It just requires that government not interfere with trade. If there’s a treaty involved, you can be virtually certain that some industry is being protected.

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Science vs. “science”

Megan McArdle touches on one of the great political truths of today:

Ask a Washington dinner party full of moderately well informed people what will happen with Iran over the next five years, and you’ll end up with a consensus that gee, that’s tough. Ask them what GDP growth will be in fall 2019, and they’ll probably converge on a hesitant “2 or 3 percent, I guess?” On the other hand, ask them what’s going to happen to the climate over the next 100 years, and what you’re likely to hear is angry.

How can one be certain about outcomes in a complex system that we’re not really all that good at modeling? Anyone who’s familiar with the history of macroeconomic modeling in the 1960s and 1970s will be tempted to answer “Umm, we can’t.”

And that’s sort of the root of the problem, isn’ t it?  The “science” of “climate change” is based in modeling “a complex system that we’re not really all that good at modeling”, just as in years past economists attempted the same thing with similar results.

So, how is the inability to capture all the variables, even variables of which little is known at present (and, dare I say it, some unknown) and put them in a model and claim … “science”.  Seems to me its a guess at best.  That’s certainly what economists found when they tried to model economies or even parts of economies.  The number of variables is just too vast and the knowledge of those variables is imprecise at best.

McArdle goes on to talk about the experience of economists and how models have pretty much been put in their place in the “dismal science”.  They’re aids, but they’re certainly nothing to bet your career or economic policy on.

Somehow, however, that’s not been the case with climate models – even when they’ve been shown to be horribly inaccurate time after time (in fact, not even close and have such a tenuous grasp on the mechanics of climate they can’t even reproduce the past).

That’s not stopped those who proclaim the “science is settled” from attempting to vilify and condemn those who disagree.  Money grafs from McArdle:

This lesson from economics is essentially what the “lukewarmists” bring to discussions about climate change. They concede that all else equal, more carbon dioxide will cause the climate to warm. But, they say that warming is likely to be mild unless you use a model which assumes large positive feedback effects. Because climate scientists, like the macroeconomists, can’t run experiments where they test one variable at a time, predictions of feedback effects involve a lot of theory and guesswork. I do not denigrate theory and guesswork; they are a vital part of advancing the sum of human knowledge. But when you’re relying on theory and guesswork, you always want to leave plenty of room for the possibility that your model’s output is (how shall I put this?) … wrong.

Naturally, proponents of climate-change models have welcomed the lukewarmists’ constructive input by carefully considering their points and by advancing counterarguments firmly couched in the scientific method.

No, of course I’m just kidding. The reaction to these mild assertions is often to brand the lukewarmists “deniers” and treat them as if what they were saying was morally and logically equivalent to suggesting that the Holocaust never happened.

And that’s where we are.  McArdle ends with a plea for sane and objective discussion but in my opinion, that ship sailed when we saw state Attorney Generals band together to prosecute “deniers” under the RICO statutes.  Of course that doesn’t change the science or “science” but it does make it much more difficult to dial back the rhetoric.  There is a reason for that:

The arguments about global warming too often sound more like theology than science. Oh, the word “science” gets thrown around a great deal, but it’s cited as a sacred authority, not a fallible process that staggers only awkwardly and unevenly toward the truth, with frequent lurches in the wrong direction. I cannot count the number of times someone has told me that they believe in “the science,” as if that were the name of some omniscient god who had delivered us final answers written in stone. For those people, there can be only two categories in the debate: believers and unbelievers. Apostles and heretics.

This I wholeheartedly agree with and the actions of those who believe in man-made climate change constantly validate my position. This has moved well beyond objectivity and rational discourse.  It is into the realm of religious belief.  It is interesting which side of the ideological curve tends to believe the “science” presented and to agree with the oppressive sanctions offered to silence those who disagree.  The same ones who will tell you they’re “progressive”.  For those of us who read a bit, we know the history of “progressivism” and what is happening on the “progressive” side of this issue is exactly what you’d expect from them.

Now apply that knowledge to other “progressive” ideas and policies and you’ll soon understand what their end game looks like.


So now what?

Now that it seems it will be Trump or Clinton – two sides of the same coin.  No.  Two of the same side of the coin.  What is America, you know the country that the Obama administration left badly listing to port and rudderless, going to do now with that … choice?

As I and many here have pointed out, it’s not the politicians fault that those are our choices, it’s the voter’s fault.  They do what is necessary to get elected and stay there – the voters enable both of those things.  And then don’t pay attention to what’s going on, become party bots and go to the polls to pull one lever or another … as instructed.

I’m also enjoying a bit of irony.  Mainly at the expense of those who, in the past, have always told me that a vote for a libertarian candidate or being not willing to vote for the prevailing GOP candidate is as good as a “vote for the other side”.  Now that it appears that Trump will be the GOP’s candidate, I’m hearing a completely different tune from many of them.

The GOP has been known for quite some time as the “stupid party” and that moniker seems quite accurate and appropriate at the moment.

As for the Democrats, well they have an equally disgusting choice as their candidate.  She’s a criminal and as big a con artist as is Donald Trump.  She is, in the parlance, a grifter.  She, like the joker in the Oval Office at the moment, has never accomplished a thing in her time of “public service”.  In fact, the only thing she has going for her right now is she’s a woman – for the first “woman president” vote.  Of course we’ve just suffered through almost 8 years of that sort of first and apparently the country has a masochistic streak that is yet unsatisfied.

I mean either one of these idiots is an abysmal “choice” so it is clear that if either is elected we’ll again be led poorly and ineptly right toward the abyss.

It’s the perfect ending for a once great republic – regardless of who wins, we’ll end up being led off the cliff by a NY liberal.  How … apropos.

In the meantime, the libertarian party’s membership is booming.  Of course those coming on board are no more libertarian than Donald Trump is conservative.  But then, its about the only reasonably agreeable and calm port the defectors can find in this political sh*t storm.


Two real world examples of socialism and big government that leftist voters ignore

It isn’t like you have to go back ages in history to see governing models that don’t work.  The recent end of the Cold War provided perfect examples.  But they collapsed in the ’80s and our younger generation has no memory of the hardships the people of those countries suffered under socialist totalitarian rule.  They also give indications that they think government is the solution for all our problems instead of understanding that for the most part government is responsible for many of our problems.  It seems they think that if we just had big government, everything would be lovely.

The “Feel the Bern” crowd are enamored with “social democracy”.  They like to point to Europe and pretend that the system is a desirable one.  But instead of pointing to Europe, perhaps they should cast their eyes to the south – to Venezuela.  They might find it, oh, I don’t know, enlightening:

In 1999, Venezuela was taken over by Socialist who promised that he would punish big corporations and redistribute wealth to “the people” to provide health care, education, infrastructure, and even out income inequality. (Sound familiar?) The American Left cheered. Celebrities like Sean Penn and Danny Glover praised his Democratic Socialist economic measures. Chavez systematically nationalized the oil, banking, agricultural, food distribution, telecommunications, and power industries in Venezuela; because running them as social democratic communes would eliminate “greed” and give the people lower cost goods and services. The American Left praised him for “democratizing” the Venezuelan economy. When Chavez shut down opposition TV, radio, and newspapers the American Left defended it as necessary to protect the Revolution.

The American Left likes to pretend now that Venezuela isn’t a real example of Social Democracy; but up until the economy collapsed (as every sensible person knew it would) they were Chavez’s biggest cheerleaders, as the links above (or any Google search) shows.

It is, of course, a horrific example of a socialist takeover, but a typical one.  A once well-off country with the most proven oil reserves in the world reduced to literal poverty.  Food shortages, other commodity shortages, you name it, you can’t get it there.  Oh, and about those oil reserves?  Well it seems that Venezuela has an energy crisis.  And the government’s solution?  Well it said everyone should take Fridays off (yeah, screw productivity – that’s a capitalist construct) and this bit of brilliance:

Last week, his government said it was shifting its time zone forward by 30 minutes to save power by adding half an hour of daylight.

Socialism … in Venezuela’s case they’re actually feeling the burn.

Then there is Brazil.  Brazil is the lover of “big governments” wet dream.  Or as it has now become, a nightmare.  Brazil is a failing state and the primary reason that it is failing is because of the premise under which it has operated for decades.  Big government paternalism:

For all its modernist appeal, it was one more expression of the country’s long and troubled attachment to the concept of a giant paternalistic state, responsible for managing the affairs of the entire society, from its biggest companies to its poorest citizens.


“The problem is, from time immemorial, Brazil’s political leaders only see one way forward, the growth of the state,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former leftist intellectual who sought to reduce the size of Brazil’s government while president from 1995 to 2002. “But you need another springboard for progress, that doesn’t exclude the state but that accepts markets. This just doesn’t sink in in Brazil.”

Many wan’t to blame Brazil’s problems on corruption like the corruption scandal now rocking the nation.  But the corruption arises from the base problem … big, unanswerable government:

While many observers of Brazil’s predicament have focused on the country’s corruption, that may miss the point. Brazil’s deeper problem lies in the failures of its Leviathan state, which has perennially reached for the utopian visions embodied in Brasília but instead has produced recurring cycles of boom and dramatic bust.

Of course there a huge lessons to be learned from these two countries that apply to this country and the current political arguments now being made.  All, to some degree or another (with Socialist Sanders being the extreme) argue for both social democracy and bigger government.  We apparently don’t learn from other countries but insist on learning the hard way, by repeating what has already failed any number of times.

That’s because of arrogance and the belief that the only reason any of this hasn’t worked in the past is the right people weren’t in charge.

With the class of politicians we have running today, Hugo Chavez would be a better choice to run their ideas.

And we all know how well he did.


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