Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sustainability: Not just for environmentalists anymore

The public unions in Wisconsin and in other states may feel like they have a target on their backs in the here and now - and they do - but it's the future for everyone of us that's at stake. States and municipalities are facing collective liabilities in the trillions of dollars due primarily to promises made to public employees. These promises in many cases defy all common sense, in a few cases they defy common decency.

When a public servant can retire at the ripe old age of 55 and collect a benefit check from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the rest of their lives with paid health insurance thrown on top it's no wonder we have an unsustainable situation. The rest of us working in the private sector would be lucky to retire at 67 with no pension and a (devastated) 401K and only Medicare to look forward to. Will there be Social Security in 20 years for those of us who paid 7% of our wages into it for 40-50 years? Many state a municipal workers don't care, why should they?

Traditionally public employees enjoyed very good benefits and job security, and that was just fine. It was assumed that they were paid a little less as compared to their private sector counterparts. That part of it is probably not true anymore. The average wage for a Federal employee is reported to be over $80,000 a year, there is no way the private sector can claim that. Even factoring in the education level differences it's clear that government workers are getting sweetheart deal when it comes to wages and benefits - including generous vacations, educational opportunities and even sabbaticals.

The problem is that since the day public workers have been allowed to unionize they have had direct involvement with determining who sits across the table come contract negotiation time. They have essentially bought sympathetic bargainers through the election process. Unions fund political campaigns and then reap the benefit of the symbiotic arrangement. Since there was an ever rising revenue stream while the economy grew this worked for them. Today, however, the party is over, state and local governments are broke. Governors and legislatures face the possiblity that the jobs that have been lost are not coming back. Unlike the Federal government they can't just have the treasury print more money. Something's got to give.

Gov. Scott Walker simply must not back down. He does need to come across as reasonable and fair and that means explaining with simple facts why this has to be done - and now. It's all about sustainability.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Facebook drama

I was on Facebook the other day and came across a post by one of my so-called "friends" rallying the troops against Wisconsin Gov. Walker and his stance on public union collective bargaining. One of her commenters, a young woman, falling right into line, threw out a bomb that went something like: go figure... corporations, modern day mass murders and thieves.

Several other commenters chimed in bolstering her rather ridiculous statement. So I thought I'd have a little fun. You see people who make such preposterous statements don't expect to be challenged. In my initial reply I simply turned the tables and made a mildly preposterous statement about public unions, something like: go figure... Public unions, selfish budget busters, why should they pay ONE DIME for their own health care and pensions.

What followed was a lashing out by a liberal who was just infuriated that anyone would challenge her world view. My second reply simply said: Incendiary language perverts the discourse, it's unhelpful. Just like the Madison protesters carrying their signs comparing Gov. Walker to Hitler, while very original having never been tried before, does not an argument make.

Well, the floodgates were wide open now. This young woman was beside herself with rage. She posted 5 incoherent flaming posts direct at me. There was no attempt now to engage in a dialogue, only lashing out. When I logged back on to Facebook her comments had been deleted, most likely by herself, and that was fine, I deleted mine as well.

The thing to take away is evident. Liberals feel free to flame anything they don't like, regardless of how utterly preposterous it is. When challenged they go nuts. Are some corporations mass murderers and thieves? Probably. I'll bet it wouldn't be too hard to dredge up evidence were a rouge corporation was in some way partly responsible for mass murder and certainly even easier to find thieving corporations - but these would be extreme exceptions not the rule. Just as it would be possible, I assume, to find responsible public unions.

Was her initial post tongue-in-cheek? I don't think so, at least nothing that followed would have indicated that she didn't really believe that corporations were evil. Was she exaggerating? Yeah probably.

It was fun and I dare say instructive. But then I've seen it before. When I used to go to the Daily Kos and Democratic Underground websites and try to post reasonable retorts I found myself under attack or my posts deleted almost instantly.

I probably will stay away from getting political on Facebook, but I just had to stir this one up...


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Chart

This chart has been floating around the Internet for some time but it is so amazing that it's worth sharing. What brought it up was some mind numbingly stupid comment by George Stupidnopolis on ABC. Apparently Obama's 2011 wildly high budget deficit is George W. Bush's fault.

I am not in the business of defending Bush's spending. He had a complimentary Republican Congress through 2006 and frankly many on the right were dismayed by the profligate spending by so-called fiscal conservatives. But just looking at the chart it becomes clear that #1.) the 2001-2003 tax cuts did not balloon the deficit. In fact the deficit was in a downward trajectory until 2007 and #2.) something changed in 2007.

Obviously the Congress changed hands in 2007. The Democrats - Nancy Pelosi -took over. Until TARP was passed in late 2008 the deficit was seemingly manageable. TARP was dismaying, but it has been deemed successful by almost any measure since most of the money has been paid back. Only AIG's share and Obama's bailout of GM and Chrysler have yet to be paid back - but then the government owns a substantial share of GM and AIG.

So what really went wrong?

Start with 800 billion in ineffective stimulus and add a shaky economy and presto a trillion dollar deficit as far as the eye can see. This recession was primarily a result of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown with its many villains spanning government and the financial industry. As deep and profound as this crisis was we should be seeing light at the end of the tunnel but we're not. Why? Well, the Obama administration doesn't leave an encouraging taste in anyone's mouth. Business is wringing every ounce of production out of their current employees (just glad to have a job) and racking up profit and fat bank accounts. Until business is comfortable there will be no hiring. Revenue to the government will continue to stagnate, social spending will escalate and the deficit will grow.

We have to get these guys out of the White House in 2012.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Political Correctness Distilled

For some reason I find the subject of Political Correctness fascinating. I guess I'm not the only one. Bruce Charlton, a professor at University of Buckingham, UK, authors a teaching blog called Bruce Charlton's Miscellany that delves deeply into the subject. Lately he published an interesting digest of what Political Correctness (or Post Christian, if you will) really is. I want convey the way I see it - my comments in red.

For PC the ultimate evil is selfishness - therefore the highest good it can conceive is unselfishness: i.e. altruism.

This worldly altruism is operationalized in terms of the allocation of 'goods' (money, power, status etc).

But PC sees humans as innately selfish - therefor the allocation of goods must be done impersonally - in practice, by rules and bureaucracies.

The organizational enforcement of Political Correctness is primarily through government and NGO bureaucracies because they are normally faceless non-individuals. However, the PC attitude is practiced in nearly all organizations to prevent any possibility of public shaming. In order to be spared the PC wrath most organizations and individuals simply play along. Any that stand against conventional PCism suffer a robotic and unrelenting attack. A good example of a specific organization under PC assault is the Boy Scouts of America. Or, of course, the Republican Party in general.


What governs the principles of PC? Reaction, rejection. The past is tainted. There must be a fresh start. The good is the opposite of what people used to believe. Hence moral inversion.

This is the core of PCism. To color traditions as backward and invalid is the PC way. In Western cultures Christianity in particular must be invalidated. We see the ultra toleration of Islam, an intolerant religion, and the routine intoleration of Christianity's mores, symbols and holidays by the media and by secular institutions. By extension traditional American values of individualism and the ownership of private property must be denigrated at every turn.

The fact that all this is anti-spontaneous, anti-natural, alien, scary - is actually taken as a sign of its virtuousness. The truly altruistic must sacrifice themselves.

The mass media is essential to this since it fills our minds everyday, continually displacing the past - so whatever is in the mass media is reality.

The mass media and the education cabal has attempted to rewrite much of Western history. For the incurious and self absorbed what they see on TV is truth, history is unimportant and passe. Even when history is presented factually the modern sheen of PCism is applied to the motives and actions of historical figures in order to discredit them as self serving misogynists.

Atheism leads to this-worldliness, and to relativism, and to the working rule that the inversion of the traditional is virtuous.

Reinforcement for this tendency comes from population growth, meritocracy, division of labour, prosperity and the mass media.

Unlimited mass immigration then favouring immigrants over natives, damaging economic productivity by taking from the productive and giving to the unproductive (in order to generate dependency), enforcing laws with zero-tolerance against the well-behaved while being soft on bad people, foreign policy which attacks allies and builds up enemies, attacking normal sexuality and the family and allocating status to everything else - all the usual stuff.

The fact that we see this everyday has made us numb to its insidiousness. A traditional family of a mother, a father and few children is often treated as odd in popular culture, where the father is either enslaving his wife and damaging his children or he is completely and utterly inept (except the Huxtables, of course). Whereas racially blended or homosexual families are enlightened and rightous, beyond reproach.

It has gotten to the point where the truth is skirted, often on critical issues, because it is impolitic to actually verbalize plain facts. A study that concludes based on the facts that black men commit more crime will not get cited except in the most obscure journals. A incident that involves Islamic terrorism is couched in conciliatory or apologetic language regardless of how egregious the act. Celebrities, CEO's and politicians are shunned and even forced to resign if they stray by speaking of obvious truths. Clumsiness is not a sin.

PCism has become entrenched and immovable. It is the very reasonableness of human nature to not want to offend unnecessarily that gives political correctness surface validation. The problem comes when reasonableness crosses the line into unreasonableness. When the power of government policy or law enforcement (like hate crimes) is applied based on political correctness and not objective facts we are all a little less free. Piece by piece, issue by issue PCism destroys freedom. In the end PCism is enslaving, and inhuman. Until we systematically and forcefully reject it we will continue to lose individual freedom.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Which will blow first? Yellowstone or the Treasury

We are all aware that popular culture has a small obsession with the year 2012. According to the ancient Mayan calendar either the world (or the Mayan calendar) will end on December 21st 2012. Well, count me as skeptical that some coincidental alignment of the stars will blow the world apart. However, 2012 could see the world as we know it change beyond all recognition as a result of two looming cauldrons of disaster bubbling to the surface of our lives.

I read somewhere that the cauldron of the super massive volcano that is Yellowstone literally raised by 10 inches recently. This is a land surface of many, many square miles - spontaneously raising 10 inches!

There has been increased volcanic and earthquake activity around Yellowstone recently. They say that evidence points to a massive eruption every 500,000 years or so. It's been more than 600,000 years since the last one. If it blows life as we know it here in America will end. The whole world would be affected, possibly causing mass extinctions and the death of millions upon millions. This is a truly frightening prospect.

There is another disaster that could also cause life as we know it to end. That would be the default of the United States Treasury. Some believe this would be literally impossible, but it will get to the point where the interest alone on the national debt can not be paid. Simply "printing" money won't fix it if the value of the dollar is zero. If the U.S. defaults the economy would grind to a halt. The world economy will crash. Human suffering would be unlike anything we've ever seen. The real scary part is as we are driving off the cliff we are accelerating. America collectively stomped on the gas pedal by choosing the Obama regime.

Obama aside, does anyone really believe that politicians have the answers or more importantly the courage to set things right? Not me.