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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Too cynical?



What if I was wealthy? Now, what if I wanted to set up a system in which there would be professionals, whose sole job it was, to make rules that would protect my current wealth and encourage favorable conditions for my future wealth? I could call my rule making professionals, politicians. Of course, I would prefer to simply appoint them to office but the masses would not stand for such a blatant move. Alternately, I could institute an appearance of democracy. Luckily for my interests, it wouldn't need to function in a true democratic manner, though it would need a democratic patina. The tricky bit would be to ensure that average folks perceived an opportunity to be fairly represented. This wouldn't present much of a problem. I could use my wealth to limit the choices to those that are either my direct representatives or financially obligated to me. With the basics in place, all I would need is for my politicians to smile amiably, do as little as possible, and make continuous references to high-minded values like liberty, justice, and such. When those ideas fail to produce the desired levels of compliance, I could always resort to the 'nuclear option'. Patriotism. Many, in my working classes, have no idea what it all means but they seem to get all weepy and pliable when they hear it. No surprise, it's my personal favorite crowd mover.

Now all I would need are agents to ensure that my plan stays on track. Obviously these would be wealth protection agents but such a label would be unnecessarily transparent. I would need to find a more palatable label. Now for the tricky bit. I will need to have rather a large number of them in every community. As the costs of such a standing army would seriously cut into my wealth accumulation, I need an alternate funding scheme. Wait. I believe that, with a bit of finesse, I could arrange for average people to pay the bulk of the cost for my army if I refer to them as law enforcement agents. Yes, that will do nicely.

If I were a comic book villain, I would be licking my lips salaciously while twisting the ends of my comically thin mustache. The question is, what would the hero do?


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Muy Ocupado




Wall Street is always occupied. One of it's major "occupations" is the transfer of wealth from average people to the wealthiest people. Currently Wall Street is also occupied by protestors who, as far as I can gather, have some problem with the system that encourages this transfer of wealth. What I've also noticed is that they lack a unified strategy to get what they want. Some of the protestors no doubt believe there is a vast shady cabal involving the Federal Reserve Bank, the major banks and credit card companies, the Rothchilds, the Freemasons, and others. I can't prove that such a sinister cabal does not exist. I can illustrate that it is not needed to explain the current woes felt by the protestors and many others.


What if the people occupying Wall Street
went to the right place but said the wrong thing?

What if the heterogeneity of their message (think: lack of uniformity) hinders their message?

What if it matters less whether you personally want to save the whales, stop fracking, or simply have an opportunity for a decent job at a living wage?

What if the core idea is common to all the messages?

What if capitalism, in its current form, has been at the heart of all the problems?

Furthermore, what if there is no shady multinational cabal?

What if the absence of this cabal is based on the principle: the simplest answer is generally the right answer.

Simply stated, What if no sinister organized structure is needed because the people who control everything don't need to have any meetings?

What if their goals are obvious and their methods straightforward and, often, completely legal?

What if the one percent, who own most of everything, simply know what needs to be done to keep the system rolling along to their advantage and they simply go about it in a deliberate and ruthless fashion right in front of our faces?

Now for the disturbing questions.

What if, by sheer numbers, we could put an end to the ruthless concentration of wealth by a few and to the detriment of the majority?

What if we need not raise a hand in anger to do so?

What if we simply say, NO?

This is too easy, right?

What if the protestors are standing in the right place but expending their energies on the wrong group?

What if we assume that the one percent has no interest in changing a system that works in their interest?

What if we assume that the one percent feel no guilt and, in fact, have a set of rationalizations in place to justify their actions?

What would be their motivation to change that system?

What if the protestors realized that the people stopping the progress of their cause are standing among them– in the ninety nine percent?

What if many in the ninety nine percent have been convinced to vote against their own economic best interests?

Sure, they have voted this way largely due to a cynical manipulation that has been heavily funded by the one percent. However such a dastardly plan would not have traction unless many regular folks bought into those lies and half-truths.

I know. I get it. Most folks don't want more questions. People are hurting and they want answers. And rightly so.

The answer is that we are dealing with a simple concept from which simple answers don't easily flow. My guess is that things will need to get really bad before enough of the deluded members of the ninety nine percent join the progressive ranks. From this we will elect politicians who possess the political capital (think: poll numbers for lack of better criteria) to regulate the corporations and stand firm in the face of the one percent.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

O Canada

Canadian Commission on climate change


O Canada.

It seems that you are badly in need of some of our leaders. Leaders with a "can do" attitude who don't let a few facts and figures get in the way of progress. The bright side for you good folks is that many of us would be happy to send them north of the border. I can see by that confused look on your face you will need a bit of background on this.

Apparently your National Roundtable (commission consisting of business leaders, academics and researchers) recently issued a report claiming that climate change is going to cost Canada billions per year in the coming decades. These costs will incur from diseased forests and the resulting loss of timber, flooding as the sea rises, and on and on.

Luckily we in America are blessed with a plethora of leaders who do not recognize climate change as a real problem. For those Canadians not accustomed to edgy innovative American-style problem solving, let me spell it out. We will give you our climate non-believers who can set your energy policy and bingo presto- you are ahead of the game to the tune of tens of billions of dollars! Or for those of you who still think in Brit-speak, tens of thousands of millions.

I would like to caution you that the contract will call for you to keep them. Please see the no-take-backs clause. Also there is no warranty stated or implied. What you see is what you get.

So how about it. Think of it as a gift. Rather like when the French gave us the statue of Liberty. I can assure you, though the politicians will age and wither, the effects of their good ideas and sound policies will last for many generations. Come on, be a good neighbor. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BBC news anchors gobsmacked.http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-09-27/wall_street/30203224_1_hoax-trader-bbc-news



After viewing the short video at the above link and upon brief consideration, we can see that capitalism is a conscienceless activity. Is this not the very definition of sociopath? Without conscience. Thus, the system that occupies much of the human and non-human resources of this planet is sociopathic. There are two tricky bits here. The first is, when we use the term sociopath, as applied to a human, we assume (and rightly so) an almost one-to-one correlation with sociopathy and, what we will briefly refer to as, evil. The other problem is our difficulty seeing the otherwise obvious fact that the game can be without conscience while many or most of the participants in the game are not sociopaths. For my money, (excuse that little tehehehe moment) this is a clear demonstration of both emergent properties and unintended consequences. That is to say, the finished product (capitalism) adds up to more than the value of the individual components- but not necessarily in an optimal way. Also the behavior and outcomes of the system do not reliably result in net enhancements for all the parties concerned.

Now, are there variations of capitalism where constraints are placed on certain behaviors and it is, to some degree, regulated? Sure. Can such constraints and regulations blunt the negative effects of the conscienceless system? Often. Can humans apply policies that take advantage of the system's positive traits and apply the results for the benefit of societies? Arguably. There are places in the world where this is done with varying degrees of success. One could argue that a thoughtful observer might learn from the more successful examples and bring some of this knowledge to bear in places that are currently experiencing difficulty. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Elizabeth Warren is great. I would only argue that her list is too short. How about this, you were healthy enough to pursue your wealth, in part, because of the government involvement in health care and disease prevention. The CDC comes to mind. Not enough? Your efforts were not hindered by unnecessary tragedy and disease afflicting your spouse and children. Again think CDC along with others that do things like provide safety standards for everything from the stove in your home to the luxurious and outsized SUV that takes your offspring to school and soccer practice. What about the bridges and tunnels travelled by that same SUV?  Who employs the engineers and other personnel that set standards for and inspect those bits of infrastructure? The list goes on and on.

The problem is that Ms. Warren's message will fall on two kinds of ears. The ears of certain types of successful  people and the ears of everyone else. In the ears of the former group, everything in their personal reality whispers to them, "you are wonderful and deserve every dime you acquire". (Think of a luxury SUV commercial and you'll hear some of the whispers.) Even rational words spoken by a calm qualified person are unlikely to penetrate such invisible but formidable armor. This argument, though important to realize, leads those of us endowed with the 'other ears' to infer that we could simply out vote such people with our superior numbers. The sticky bit of the problem is that many of our neighbors who share the more common ears quietly strive to hear the siren-whispers of those same voices.

Monday, July 4, 2011

still more on Hamburg, Germany

You may have hear of Tex-Mex cuisine but I bet you don't know Ham-Mex. That is unless you've been to Jim Burritos Cantina in the Sternschanze (a section of Hamburg locally known as the schanze). The atmosphere is quirky with Mexican wrestling posters adorning the walls. The only down side, it was distractingly noisy when busy, which would basically cover the time between opening and closing. The burritos are large and tasty. Mine was chorizo to which I added liberal doses of my favorite among the numerous hot sauces available.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187331-d1340953-Reviews-Jim_Burrito_s_cantina-Hamburg.html

Got a nasty shock the other day when I checked my bank account to see if the ATM withdrawal (of Euros) had shown up. It had. All I can say is, the percentage that it cost me to convert dollars to Euros was enough to piss off the pope and I have the lowest available rate through my credit union. So, on top of the fact that the exchange rate is piss-poor going from dollars to Euros, I had fork over quite a few bucks for the privilege. Note to travelers, check with your financial institution regarding the cost of withdrawing money before coming to Europe. You will really have no choice but it could avert a nasty shock. Many institutions charge a fee on top of a percentage for every transaction. Also, many establishments here do not accept credit cards. I don't mean that they, for instance, don't accept American Express. I am saying they don't take credit cards at all. Oh, and by the by, when you find a place that does accept your card, each of those transactions will cost you something over and above the lousy exchange rate.

I have much more to tell, but it's late. I will quit here and upload to the blog and make a link from Facebook to the blog- because I can't trust Facebook to do it automatically.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

more on Hamburg

More on Hamburg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbe_Tunnel_(1911)

There are many parks and green spaces in the city. Also the place is very clean overall. With that said, they really do have a graffiti/tagging problem in some areas here. It really stands out because of the otherwise clean orderliness of the city. I found it a bit shocking and sad. Surprisingly, I did not find the occasional squatter building to be as discouraging as the graffiti. They were ill kept but somehow it seemed like they belonged in a weird way to this subculture/counter-culture/anti-war/no-nukes/anti-capitalistic folks that at some level I root for. Still it is evident that many of these squatters also have drug and/or alcohol problems. Some things are the same everywhere.

As in most of Europe, they are very connected to their history here. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It is commemorated on placards and with statues everywhere.

In Jade and Martin's neighborhood there is a much higher percentage of babies an children than most neighborhoods. It seems very kinder and family friendly. Half the people you pass have a stroller or a baby in a sling of some type. This is unusual in that Germany has a low birth rate and they currently offer incentives to German citizens to become parents. In short, this will be a nice family type neighborhood in which my granddaughter can grow and thrive.

The Comfort townhouse is quite spacious and attractive with wood floors, high ceilings, and a little garden area out the back door. Given the average size of German homes in the cities, this is like a little palace. They did well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Impressions of Germany

Impressions of Germany

After a week in Hamburg, my daughter asked me what I thought of Germany.
The bullet point version is, it is quite pleasant here overall. Most people have been helpful and courteous. Many speak English, which is very convenient. I have picked up some German, but frankly, most Germans have better skill with English than I do with German so there is no point in my unintentionally butchering their language.

What follows is the extended version of my impressions.

Coming from the point of view of an American, Germany is not an exotic place. Sure, it's different, but in terms of day to day interactions with people and systems, the differences are often minimal though quirky.

The stores work largely the same way except they charge the customer for a sack.  Also apparently one does not purchase baby related items at the grocery. Baby food, diapers, baby wipes, etc are obtained at another store that is roughly analogous to an American drugstore. The major difference about this store is, one does not buy drugs there. Most drugs and medical related products are sold at an apoteka (think of the old time name for the druggist, apothecary). Also Germans don't care for big stores even when they have the space. Walmart, Costco, even an American grocery would be unimaginable to most Germans. One thing this old liberal, pro-worker, semi-socialist appreciated was that many cashiers are seated at their stations. In general, non-professional workers seem happier and better treated.

Other differences? Bicycles are ubiquitous. Cafes also. Bars? You bet, and perhaps only second in number to cafes, but they are rarely large. Think neighborhood corner bar.

Here is an observation. Germans get nervous if they are more than fifty paces from bread. This, one reasonably infers from the number of bakeries. Oddly, they feel the same way about ice cream. My million euro idea is (shhh, don't let this get out) a chain of bakery slash ice cream shops. My theory is that I merely need to mention bread and ice cream in the same name and I will control their hearts and minds. I scream, you scream, we all scream for bread & ice cream.

What other helpful/interesting information can I offer? The toilets and faucets all work similarly to ours, which is convenient.

in the do's and don'ts category let me address ones duties as a pedestrian. Cross at the green and not in between. Far from being a cute children's rhyme, they really mean it! Wait for the little green walk signal. Seriously. Wait for it. I'm not kidding. Unless you are trying to incur the glaring disapproving stares of your fellow pedestrians, not to mention panic stricken drivers, just wait. I know you will feel tempted. Perhaps you've carefully checked in every direction and seen no approaching traffic within a kilometer (a skosh over a half mile) and you are thinking- surely they can't possibly mean wait even now. Save any rebellious I-go-my-own-way thoughts for some other outlet because I can assure you that, yes, they do.

There is more to come in the next installment. I need a bread and/or ice cream break.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

You big bully



It is horrifying, no doubt.

I read the article and I noted that not much was said about solutions. The common wisdom that we have now come to expect on stories of this type was included. We should "look for signs" of bullying (or drug use, or any number of other things) and we should have a conversation about it. Obviously I am not coming out against keeping an eye on your child and his/her well-being and nor would I advocate against discussing issues. My point is, why is this best advice offered? In my opinion, it is because solutions are the tricky bit. I was reminded of the old Mark Twain quote: "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." It is easy to say bullying is bad and hurts people. It is really quite another thing to talk about fixing that as a society.

Maybe we will start by employing the tactics and policies we've employed on other issues. We will declare war on bullying. I personally appreciate this as we don't get to declare war on a verb all that often. This is entirely unlike the 'ism' category. We are especially fond of declaring war on those. I think it is mainly because most of your 'isms' involve a system of ideas (communism, terrorism, etc.) and we are naturally well disposed to find a set of ideas with which we disagree. Then it is a short hop to declaring war on them. This makes us feel better immediately irrespective of any results out on the battlefield. The mere act of declaring the war is like a national salve for Americans.

Once we've declared war on bullying, we are going to need an army to fight that war. We won't call it an army because that word makes us uncomfortable. As it turns out, we are a very warlike people but we don't much care to see ourselves that way. This leads us to couch things in less direct terms. Maybe we could use Anti Bullying Protection Force. They could be a branch of the TSA which is part of Homeland Security. Given that so much of what we are about is declaring war on things, I think it might be great to run most of our government under that umbrella. It would be great for jobs. All those ABPF officers will use their paychecks to go out and purchase goods made in Malaysia, Korea, China and Japan. A total win-win.



 As far as kids getting bullied, don't expect much change in that situation. We can't even accept the fact that most kids are bullied by (insert drum roll here) other kids! This makes us very uncomfortable. Why? A number of reasons come to mind. One is that half the time we are idealizing children as little angels send directly from God. This flies in the face of the fact that children are selling dangerous drugs to other children, bullying other children, abusing other children, and on and on.

I know what you are thinking. He only accounted for half the time. Very perceptive. The other half of the time we are demonizing children. (Hey, no way!) Yes, I'm afraid so. As soon as children don't act like the little angels we've idealized them to be, we arrest them and try them as adults. Ooops. Didn't we engineer separate categories into our legal system in order to reflect what we instinctively know about them? Children are different from adults in their understanding of the rules and their ability to predict and comprehend the consequences. Well, yes, that's true. However, as soon as that became uncomfortable, we just bent the categories to fit our rage. So who's the bully now?








Sunday, May 15, 2011

Frenetic Lives

What if we are victims of our own success?

What if we are designed to assimilate change at a more modest pace?

What if the profound changes in our lifestyles over the past century have lead us

from an old world with, arguably too few choices, into a dazzling new world

with too many choices?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wingless

Immigration is an issue on which  reasonable people can hold a broad spectrum of opinons. I am not discussing immigration here.

Illegal immigration is another thing altogether. I consider it a 'wingless' issue. There is no right-wing position nor left-wing. It is an elegantly simple problem at it's base. It behooves us all to control/monitor those who enter into and/or live in our country. This is true for any number of reasons. It is also benefits the very people we scrutinize.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42253545/ns/us_news-enslaved_in_america/

What more would we need to know?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

12 Step America

The First Meeting is the Hardest


"Hi, I'm America and I'm addicted to superpower status and its application through military might."

"Hi, America", my fellow attendees chimed in unison.

"I want to come clean right up front. I'm still using."

Collective gasps and tsk tsk noises.

"I know, I know. But, seriously, I figured I'd get off ground zero by trying to wrap my head around step one. You can imagine my horror when I wasn't able to get past the first sentence before running into the word powerless."

Chuckles and eye rolls from the other twelve steppers.

"Aw, c'mon, guys. I'm trying here. I'm thinking if I could start with something like, I feel a bit  less powerful than I did for the last century or so, and I"m OK with that."

This remark is met with disdain bordering on pity.

"Hey, man, how about a lil slack for the only super-power in the room? Give me a U, give me an S…awww hell, whadya want from me? Yeah, yeah, I know but- try and imagine this, for all intents and purposes, I was a 'higher power'"!!




**To be continued...

How far will Newt-the-toot** go for support?

All the way, of course.


On Sunday, Gingrich was the keynote speaker at Cornerstone Church, a San Antonio megachurch headed up by Pastor John Hagee, who offered John McCain a crucial endorsement during the '08 campaign. But McCain later disavowed that support after several controversial comments Hagee had made.

Note: This Hagee is the same one who claimed the New Orleans had suffered the Judgment of God (via Hurricane Katrina) because of its level of sin. He also suggested that Hitler had been doing God's will by targeting Jews. He has made other ignorant statements but do we really need to know anymore?

**I call him Newt-the-toot because it is difficult to discern his flatulence from his speeches. It all has that aroma like someone left the coleslaw out in the sun.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Advent of the Powerless Giant

After one sieves the President's remarks, it seems clear to this observer that America has entered a new phase. It is clearly no longer feasible to proceed on the basis that America can 'kick the ass' of any and every problem on our own shores or elsewhere in the world. That nineteenth or early twentieth century thinking is outdated. Apparently we can't quite bring ourselves to say it out loud. For now the plan appears to be, dance around it, sound tough, sound decisive, hope for the best.


The facts are not difficult to find or understand. America is still involved in two wars. Though for the record, the President only referenced the war in Afghanistan in his remarks this morning. I suppose we are meant to believe that the whole deal in Iraq, because it has slowed in recent months, should be considered finished. In regard to the wars (I feel comfortable to use the plural), we have soldiers who are on their fourth or fifth rotation. We have equipment that has been battered by years of use. We are in a recession and will be for years to come. We are heavily in debt. There are any number of emergencies in the world right now that America has done nothing or had a role insufficient to change the situation. I don't intend to suggest that America or Americans don't care. My assertion is that we have a large discrepancy between caring and action. This is not intended as judgment. Just the facts.

Here's a thought. What if many of the long-time world powers felt similarly? Not in the future. Now.
I submit that this is the real state of things. Why should we bother to think about where we really are? What if making policy for the future depends on basing ones actions on the extant facts?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oh, it's a tea party. Red queen, mad hatter and all...

I concede that I am largely cynical about Americans lifting their heads to recognize their corporate overlords, never mind rising from their knees to oppose them. Today, I am less certain of the outcome. Is it possible that, at long last, right-wing overreach will shake us from our torpor?

My note of caution. Remember 9/11. By this I mean, not so much the awful day, but the fear, loathing, and general bad behavior that resulted. I know this is akin to sacrilege. We prefer to memorialize our fallen citizens by accentuating the positive. We tend to dwell reverently on the heroic actions of fire fighters and other first responders. And rightly so. The problem is that we tend to do this to the exclusion of some rather heinous events that shortly followed those tragic days.

I suggest that we also recall the power grab that ensued with things like the so-called Patriot Act, the invasion of Iraq, and on and on. Americans are really quite good at coalescing in a determined manner following a tragedy. They are, arguably, less good at identifying those at whom they should direct their efforts.

What is our 9/11 for 2011? The fallout from the economic crisis coupled with the Republican/Tea Party sweep in recent elections. Now we have folks who, as often as not, believe their agendas are sanctified by a higher power from the outset. Just to make things more dicey, the elections have armed them with legislative majorities and gubernatorial  seats across the country.

In short, the workers and middle class of this country need to stand on their hind legs and demand fair treatment. However, each one should keep his wits about him. Don't underestimate the extent to which righteous idealogues will go if their long sought goals begin to slip away. Keep in mind that even when they are the majority and control almost everything, they are able to perceive themselves as an oppressed beleaguered minority. With this mindset, these same people who blather on about the 'rules' and 'personal responsibility' will chuck that baggage in a New-York-Minute if it serves to secure their aims.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

At times like these...

Yes, most of us can agree that, people who picket the funerals of gay people are despicable. 
However, it behooves us all to remember:
 
"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for
people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
-- Noam Chomsky

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Eight year old arrested.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orange/os-8-year-old-arrested-tantrums-20110225,0,44851.story


Welcome to post 9/11 crazy thinking. We have a newly organized America.  I call it: I'm-scared-shitless-there-are-terrorists-hiding-under-my-bed America. In the new America we criminalize everything. If a child is out of control and clearly needs major help, do we intervene and start the child on a mental health/medical health path? No. We arrest the child. No surprise really. It's what we've done to mentally ill adults for decades now.

We, as a society, decided to shut down the state hospitals and toss those people on the street. In a few places there was a thoughtful increase in community based service for these folks. Much of that did not last. Even more of such services began to lose funding as a result of the recession. Yes, I know the arguments about state hospitals having less than stellar performance and conditions. But, seriously, our response is to throw out the baby with the bathwater? Was there even a serious discussion of cleaning up those abuses and putting systems in place to monitor for problems? Draw your own conclusions.

How could this be in a country like America? A country where the six o'clock news could broadcast a two minute story about a homeless puppy and before the commercial break the station would be flooded with offers to adopt poor Fluffy. Well, as it turns out, our sharing and caring has certain limits when it comes to our fellow citizens.

"No way, man. That's just cynical."

Just follow the money trail and, again, draw your own conclusions. Also, lest we forget, the new system allows for some of our favorite activities. Blame and Judgment. Sure, at some level, we know we 'shouldn't' enjoy those, but they just feel so self-affirming- in that "I'm OK, you're screwed" sort of way. How could we resist?

Of course the problem is we now spend as much or more to clog up our jails, court systems, and eventually prisons with people who don't belong there.

I will leave it to the reader to guess what group of people brought us this lovely scenario. Oh, by the by, if you think it was only those zany right-wingers who changed the game, guess again. Soberingly, goofy liberal thinking played into it as well. I don't feel a need to recount the history as it is readily available to those who wish to inform themselves.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

abc news future of god debate

It turns out that there was a big flaw in the arrangement of the debate. The non-believer side was well cast. The fact that the two believers were quasi-deists obviated most of the thoughtful argument. By deist I refer to those who invoke an all-encompassing, loving-force type god. While such thoughts are crowd pleasing and great for warm fuzzy feelings, they don't offer much meat for serious discussion/debate. Especially given that the fundamentalist Christian/Muslim/Jewish practitioners are the ones who cause the most havoc in the world. The post modern deist argument could be nut-shelled as "God is Love and Can't we all just get along". And who is prepared to argue against that? The problem is that such diluted god-talk leaves one no closer to the solutions for life's pressing problems. We've all been taken round a big fuzzy circle and, in the end, left to figure out the answers for ourselves.

Still, it was worth watching, if for no other reason than to see Oprah's guru, Deepak Chopra, dethroned by truly intelligent thoughtful people. I'm certain his followers will perceive him as being set upon by atheist hounds. Everyone else will be able to watch him clumsily grasping at any handhold when confronted by those who are not so easily impressed with mystical jargon. It is my belief that he was exposed as the opportunistic hustler with the bloated ego that most of us long suspected.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-8-Yxdphsg

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Japan: Bust, Boom, Bust.

I grew up during the era when Japan was the place from which came our cheap plastic crap. My friends and me would laugh derisively at anything inscribed 'made in Japan' . We, along with the rest of the world, were more than a little impressed by Japan's evolution as a powerhouse economy and producer of high quality precision goods. I'm certain I never considered that the whole thing could go so far in the wrong direction and so quickly. Sure, the Japanese still manufacture much of the highly sought after goods in the world from cameras to automobiles. However, their organization, dedication to detail, and discipline have apparently not saved them from the same greed, poor planning, reckless spending, and half-baked economics that other first world nations practiced. The list of such nations would include, most notably, the U.S.A.

This sobering piece by NPR is worth a look: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/01/28/133310924/why-you-should-be-afraid-of-japan

Friday, January 28, 2011

The kid your mom wouldn't let you play with.

It just occurred to me that the U.S.A. has become the equivalent of that kid. We clearly have the bully-thing going. Give me your lunch money or I'll smash your face. We substitute ideas like, if you don't practice government in the manner we would prefer, we'll smash your face. Or, my personal favorite, you are not 'free enough' so we will smash your face. To be fair, we aren't exactly like the schoolyard bully. He eventually got tired and went home. Once we have begun to get-up-in-your-grill, count on us never going home. We don't get bored. We don't pause. We don't wander off to focus on something else for a while.


Then there is the whole drugs and violence thing. Briefly stated, our citizens have a huge appetite for recreational drugs. This appetite is overlaid with our innate puritanical attitudes (as expressed through our so-called War on Drugs). In short there are good people and bad people. Bad people 'do drugs'. We must hunt down and destroy bad people. However, by our own definition, a huge number of our own citizens are bad people. Luckily we have a time-tested playground-inspired plan to deal with such cognitive dissonance. As a nation we close our eyes, we put our fingers in our ears and commence to running around making mindless blathering noise. A discrepancy ignored is a discrepancy solved. Well played, America.


Some of us are thinking, isn't there a flip side to this coin? As it turns out, yes- though it is only fractionally different from the obverse side.


It seems that our largest trading partner is Mexico. One point for all the Wall Street Journal readers who were thinking Canada. However, Canada is our above board trading partner. The largest single transfer point for illicit drugs entering the U.S. is Mexico. This is incredibly convenient. It allows us to rationalize our demonization of Mexico and Mexicans who, after all, don't look as much like us as Canadians. Also our appetite for drugs along with our War on Drugs, creates the perfect marketplace for the millions of assault-style firearms we produce. The circle is complete.