Either the Citizens Rule, or the Government Does

I got into a little Twitter discussion on the subject of what the government may do to shape public opinion and/or withhold information from the public. This was in response to a David French piece defending the Biden Administration over its actions on social media. I couldn’t read the French piece because he’s got me blocked (I’m soooo sad about that…) but the gist of it seems to have been that the government has First Amendment rights and so it can tell people it would like something said, or taken down, and if the private actor then says it, or takes down the offending information, then its all good. This is, of course, absurd. But that didn’t stop people from defending at least the concept if not all details of French’s assertion. And so my little discussion.

My prime assertion is that the government may not shape public opinion nor may it withhold information from the public. My view of the government is very much that it only has authority delegated from us and thus it may not use it’s authority in any way against us (except, of course, when we break the law and cause harm to a fellow citizen; but even there it is using it’s delegated authority to defend the citizen). But in addition to that I asserted that the government may not properly withhold information from us. Once again, it is our government. We own it. It is our employee, as it were. It only has power as we assign to it – and so it can’t possibly hide things from us because we can’t judge it’s conduct unless we know exactly what it is doing. This generated two objections.

To my first point, it was said that my view was simply silly: the President has the Bully Pulpit and so of course can shape public opinion. That, in fact, the government doing what is does must shape public opinion.

My response to that is the President, speaking from his Bully Pulpit, is not doing anything different in kind from what I am doing writing on this blog. To be sure, the President will get a lot more airtime than me, but he is still just stating his views and asking people to agree with him, just as I am. It is a pity that I don’t have a national audience, but no one is actively preventing me from having one. In theory, someone in the MSM could see what I write, decide it is newsworthy, and presto my views are all over the place. The person holding the Presidency has a huge advantage over anyone who doesn’t hold the office in getting a message out – but it is still just getting a message out. We get into a whole different territory when the President is deciding what messages may get out.

It might seem like a small difference, but it is crucial. My rights are not violated if the President’s view that I disagree with is broadcast far and wide. My rights are not violated if the MSM refuses to present my blog post to a national audience. My rights are violated if Biden were to call my internet provider and tell them to shut down my internet access so that I couldn’t post on my blog. And it wouldn’t matter what reason Biden used to justify the ask: he could say I’m a horrible, lying terrorist who no decent person should listen to. Heck, he could prove I’m all that and he’d still be violating my rights. The government must not do any such thing to me or any other citizen. I have access to whatever platforms I can pay or or which provide themselves free to users and the government must never, under any assertion, interfere with my ability to use either a platform I pay for nor one which provides itself free to users. Complete hands off. It doesn’t matter if I’m lying my a** off or slandering people six ways to Sunday: the government, which only has the authority I gave it, must not interfere with my lawful actions.

To the second objection: what about military secrets or information related to an on-going criminal investigation? Surely the government must be able to keep that from us, right?


Once again, it is our government. It must justify itself to us. We own it and must know what it is doing in our name. Saying the government can keep something secret from the citizen is like an employee asserting a right to keep vital information about the job from the employer. We have to know – how else can we decide if our interests are being served?

I’ll point out that Lincoln won the Civil War with hostile reporters all over the Union Army. He didn’t have a public affairs office. He said what he wanted to say, gave his orders to the generals and then suffered the pain or enjoyed the praise from each action. I’ve talked about this a bit before – the only purpose secrecy serves it to allow the government to hide things. Usually it’s worst mistakes. How many times have we seen some massive, government screw up only to be blown off by the government saying “we can’t comment on an on-going investigation”? Of course they can’t comment: they screwed up. And now they’re just trying to bury it until time passes and people forget about it. “Military security” might as well mean “we messed up and won’t tell you”. As for criminal investigations – not talking about the ongoing investigations meant that things like reports of young, Arab men taking flying lessons in the USA didn’t come to public notice.

Certainly there is a risk to both military and police action if it is all done out in the open but I think that the risk to liberty is greater. And my bet is that for every police or military loss due to disclosure we’d gain ten victories because screw ups aren’t hidden and are fixed in a timely manner. But even if you could show that openness is a net loser, we still must insist upon it. Once again: our government. It is doing things in our name. Things which may cost us our lives and our fortunes. Things which we are morally responsible to God for. We simply have to know.

And by knowing and by preventing the government from interfering with us, we shall be Citizens. We shall carry out the primary activity of Democracy which is not voting: it is self rule. It is deciding what will happen and then watching as our delegates in government carry out our instructions, and punishing them if they get it wrong.

And in the end, either we, the Citizens rule or the Government rules – and tells us what we can say, and hides information from us which could make the government look bad. For myself, I prefer to be a Citizen.

Madison Avenue (You Know: Bullsh**) Governs America

There are persistent rumors that the Beatles didn’t play their own instruments. I recall first hearing such in the 1980’s. Probably no way to every fully prove or disprove the rumors. One thing has always struck me about the Beatles – they stopped touring in 1965. The official reason was that it was a hassle and the stage equipment couldn’t reproduce the studio sound. I can understand the hassle part of it, but in 1967 Monterey Pop happened with Hendrix giving one of his best live performances. If Hendrix could do it, so could the Beatles. But they didn’t. Gigantic amounts of money were left on the table as any Beatles tour especially in the wake of Sgt Pepper’s would have been a monster of attendance.

And that gets me to thinking that maybe they weren’t all that good…and so the rumors of session musicians re-recording Beatles tracks after the boys went home for the day sound credible.

Don’t get me wrong: they had some very good things going on there. Some of the lyrics that they wrote are sublime. McCartney by accounts of other musicians is a top flight bass player. But everyone agrees that Ringo is a merely competent drummer while neither John nor George were very good guitar players. It could be that the difficulty of what was being produced from 1966 on simply stymied the Beatles‘ in any desire to tour and so expose their limited range of musical talent. Back then, a live performance required band members who could hit the notes precisely – they didn’t have the electronic tricks that allow modern live performances to go ahead even on the thinnest talent. And even very talented musicians like those in Rush used such tricks because, hey, there’s only three of them and if you wrote a song using six instruments at once, kinda hard to pull that off with just the three of you on stage.

I bring this up because it doesn’t matter and it also illustrates how a public face is manufactured in the modern world. We of a certain age all have a mental image of the Beatles…and some of it is probably true. But a lot of it is marketing. Lots and lots of marketing. Lots and lots, that is, of people spinning things for a certain effect.

And that brings me to my real point: they don’t just go it for rock stars. They do it for anyone they please. I was trolling through Netflix the other day looking for something that wouldn’t be actually bad to watch and up pops an ad for Mayor Pete. A bio-pic on Buttigieg. It looked nauseating because even from the few clips in the ad you could tell it was hagiography: what a wonderful guy! I bet in there are bits about his “struggle” growing up gay in Indiana (as if anyone cared) and his vision for America…which is cloudy as he was recently talking up racist roads while supplies piled up in ports. What are they doing? They are prepping him for 2028. Not 2024: that is Kamala’s. There’s a chance she gets so horribly unpopular that the Democrats opt for someone else, but absent a complete Team Pudding Brain meltdown, she’ll be the standard bearer in 2024. And they know she’s gonna lose. So, here’s Pete – the future! But, what a complete zero! From a well off family, he from infancy has been on The Track – the set of schools and accomplishments which are designed to provide credentials. He’s got his Kennedy prize, his degree and his Rhodes Scholarship. He’s been a product all along – and now they are trying to sell him to all of us.

But this is what we get, right? It is what we’ve gotten for a long time. It is how we got Bill Clinton and Barack Obama…and the Bushes. If you are favored by birth or the luck of who likes you, you get the process – you get to check off all the boxes and you get to rise ever higher. As long as you don’t upset the people guiding you along the path, your life is set. Only a very few of such will get to be President simply for space and time limitations…but all of them, rely on it, have that ambition. It is fed to them. They are called brilliant (they get awards that prove it!) and kind…and the MSM only speaks well of them. And they get to have absurd bio-pics made about their lives and they’ll get those cutesy interviews on daytime TV (Side note: in The Man in the High Castle – one of the few things worth watching on TV the past ten years, though it ended a little lame – the writers beautifully captured this in a scene where the wife of the Bad Guy gets such a TV spot and it is horrid cringe, on purpose…).

And it doesn’t matter how badly you screw up! Just like the packaged rock star will have things smoothed over, so, too, will you! David Bowie could go on a year long drug fueled bender where hundreds of people see him acting like a complete lunatic…and, hey, not a peep in the press about it while it was ongoing and only years later in some sort of retrospective is it brought up. Bowie was the product and the people who packaged him weren’t going to let something like massive drug use wreck the program. You’ll notice that the rock stars don’t often die of OD’s any longer…because they’ve got minders who make sure they don’t. Nobody is going to invest massive resources in another Hendrix, Joplin or Morrison again only to have it end with the product drowning in their own vomit. Someone like Buttigieg can louse things up six ways to Sunday (as, you know, he currently is with transportation) and that won’t matter. It’ll be smoothed over. He won’t be asked the difficult question which would expose the fact that Rhodes Scholarships are passed out on connections not smarts. The marketing program will continue…and if Buttigieg winds up as President and we then get to experience his complete incapacity on a nationwide scale, he’ll still be protected. After all, after he’s done destroying the nation in the White House he’s still useful for grifting book deals and providing a bit of star power.

Sure, every now and again someone on The Track has to be sacrificed for the greater good (ie, so the reality can continue be covered up as the proles are given a pre-selected victim to hate). Weinstein is the most recent example of this and he got it really bad in the form of a criminal prosecution. Former Governor Cuomo seems to be set to get that axe, as well: but you and I know how rare that is. Toobin is the more usual course: gets caught spanking the monkey on a Zoom call and in a couple months he’s back at it on CNN saying Trump is stupid (perhaps he is – but he wasn’t yanking the crank in a meeting, sport). Right now, former Senator Franken is rehabilitating his career. Doubt he’ll go for elective office again…but you can already see the future in that he’ll be back intoning solemnly how lousy we all are pretty quick.

Different careers have some slight differences in them for those on The Track, but its really all the same. For an Army officer hoping to be a general one day, getting the ticket punched as a combat vet is a crucial as the guy on the Tenure track to get published…that the combat might well have been a lost battle and the published article sub-literate drivel doesn’t matter. The Credential is “combat vet” or “published author”. The box has been checked…they are now absolutely better than everyone who hasn’t been in combat or published and they are just as good as the successful commander and the brilliant author. But, even better than that – if you’re on The Track, your credential is worth more than someone not on it. Your fellow Lt Colonel with his pesky ideas about combat readiness will be removed from the promotions list by those helping you along…and so his victory over the enemy will mean absolutely nothing while your bronze star for not getting more than 20 of your own soldiers killed will shine brightly.

Here’s the really bad news: we’re on the third or fourth generation of people selected for advancement based on wealth and/or connections. It has been happening since the 1950’s. Dolt A begat Dolt B who begat Dolt C…who really likes the cut of the jib of that intern who got the gig because his Mom is friends with the person passing them out. It is a huge negative feedback loop and each generation is worse than the previous because the one thing the incompetent can’t stand to have around them is someone competent. These people don’t look for someone better than themselves…they’re forever on the look out for the most mindlessly pliable person available. This is why things progressively suck…why even very basic things are being done badly. Why, you know, cargo is piling up in ports when we’ve were moving cargo easily just a few months ago and the guys in charge haven’t the foggiest notion of what to do.

We make our jokes about burning it all down – but in a real sense we must do it. Any random 100 people pulled in off the streets and placed in charge of, say, the FBI will better ensure criminals are caught and justice is done than the people currently in there. They can’t possibly do worse…and as they would go in with the mindset of catching bad guys and protecting the innocent, you’d actually get at least some of that…unlike now, when we get none of it. If we win in 2024, we have to top to bottom start getting rid of the credentialed incompetents. We have to: if we don’t, these idiots will destroy the country and then insist that China give them a medal for it.

In 2021, it is Thinkers vs Mindless

The recall in California and the Canadian election show why the Covid fear-mongering is kept up: very large numbers of people are deathly afraid of the disease and will vote for whoever promises to keep them safe. As if anyone can do that – but, we’re dealing with people who lack basic knowledge of how the world works.

Who are these people? Well, they might have college degrees, but it isn’t like they learned anything; especially not anything outside a hard science. But even those who get degrees in engineering, still nothing beyond that. Used to be, a college education meant you got a fair amount of languages, art, philosophy, theology, history and law – and this regardless of what you might have been aiming at for a career. But what all that did was train the mind to think. College doesn’t do that. Even the best doctors and lawyers emerging from higher education these days can’t think. They can only regurgitate what they were told…because they weren’t told anything else.

You might think they’d eventually get annoyed by not thinking – you know, being surprised all the time that things don’t work as you were told they would – but a person who’s mind hasn’t been trained to think doesn’t realize what is missing. If things go wrong, they have no way to assess the facts and arrive at a conclusion. All they can do is stare blankly until someone else tells them what to believe about it. And that instruction is always close to hand: via TV and social media, you’ll be told what to believe!

Now, what about those who have no college education? Surely, they can’t think, either, right? Well, not quite. A welfare bum sitting on the couch eating Cheetos doesn’t think…but anyone who works for a living, who has to produce results in order to eat, thinks. There’s no other way to do it. Regardless even if it is a mindless assembly job, you still have to think about what you’re doing. Same thing, but more so, with activities like plumbing, auto repair, home construction, farming, etc. A plumber might well be inarticulate unless he reads in his spare time, but if he’s plumbed for more than a couple years, he had learned how to think…because mapping out how to do the job in front of you takes the ability to consider the unexpected and find a solution from a variety of alternates. On and on with the rest of such jobs. If you can’t think, you can’t do them.

And there is our real problem: a huge number of people who can’t think are yet able to vote and they vote as they’re told: in California and Canada, they just swamped people who know how to think – people who can balance the risk of a disease 98.12% survivable against the need to get things done. You and I – we being thinkers – are fully capable of assessing the risks of going to a large gathering, unmasked, amongst those who may or may not be vaccinated. As for me, given that the Mrs has a mild case of COPD, I would avoid such a thing because I know that people with underlying conditions are at much higher risk of severe complications than those without. We’re also able to see that the number of people under 25 who have died of the disease informs us that there is nearly no risk to youngsters gathering…so, kids, go have a party!

But the people who vote against us can’t do that. They simply don’t know how. All they know is that the disease can kill and the TV keeps telling them that its really dangerous and there’s that guy on Facebook who told them that hospitals are overflowing with the sick. So, best to go along with mask mandates and vaccine passports. Because the TV says that will keep you safe.

We’ll find out next year just what proportion of our population is thinking and what part of it is essentially brain dead. The better the Democrats do, the most stupid we’ll turn out to be.

Coronavirus is the Real World, and It Came Knocking

New York City has turned in a disaster area for Coronavirus. It is overwhelmed with cases and hospitalizations – and it is overwhelmed because it simply wasn’t prepared. Let us pause for a moment and review some salient facts:

The 2020 fiscal year budget for New York City is $92.5 billion. That’s about $11,500.00 in government spending for each person in the city. That is quite a lot of money, don’t you think?

Prior to the crisis, an N95 mask could cost less than one dollar. One dollar. So, for 8 million dollars out of the 2020 budget, NYC could have provided a mask for every man, woman and child in the city. After spending that 8 million dollars, NYC would still have $92,492,000,000.00 left over. If you want to have your eyes glaze over, you can read the entire NYC budget – I went through it a bit and found millions of dollars being allocated for such crucial things as replacing the skylights in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and providing illegal immigrants funds to defend themselves against deportation.

In addition to that, the directory of New York City is handy for you to see what the city is up to – among many, many other things, they have:

NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate Policy and Programs
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
Four different listings for housing departments
New York City Commission on Human Rights
New York City Loft Board
New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission

And on and on like that – and, rely on it, these things are staffed to the gills with people who make high salaries and get excellent health and retirement benefits. None of these things, though, provide a mask for a nurse working a Coronavirus ward. What is a city government supposed to do? Easy:

Water supply.
Police protection.
Fire protection.
Waste disposal.
Maintain public thoroughfares.
Non-Police/Fire Emergency services.

That’s pretty much it. Anything beyond that isn’t necessary for the city to function. That you might want to have it do other things is all well and good, but the purpose of the city is those six things – and only after those six things are completely done do you have anything left over for additional wants. New York City – like most governments – has got this all backwards. They act as if their primary function is to provide economic opportunity, to end bigotry, to make art – to do just about anything but what the government is supposed to do. The city has been living in a world of make-believe – a world in which the bad things simply won’t happen and so the crucial things can be slighted in favor of fashionable vanities.

Coronavirus has changed that. The real world does, indeed, exist and it is very insistent that we deal with it.

I’m not here just to knock New York City – as worthwhile as that exercise is – but the whole attitude of a world which has been whistling past the graveyard. It isn’t, after all, New York City’s fault that it can’t just make masks in the city. New York used to be a manufacturing powerhouse…but various taxes, regulations and trade policies over the years moved that capacity out of New York. And out of the United States, of course.

What Coronavirus is teaching us is that we have to act like adults and do the important things – and only after the important things are done can we spare any thought or effort to other desires. We have to build back our manufacturing capacity. We must stockpile the necessary equipment for emergencies. We have to make sure our transportation system is durable. That our water supplies are secure. That, at need, we can live for an extended period of time without one thing coming in from outside the United States. In other words, we have to start being adults, again. Cruel as that might seem.

One of the crucial parts of getting back to reality is to directly ask the people in charge just what the heck did they think they were doing? DeBlasio can be raked over the coals – and should be – but he’s not the only one out there spending money trying to keep immigration laws from being enforced. He and a host of others – including many Republicans – have prioritized all sorts of useless garbage over the necessities of American survival. To put it as bluntly as I can: because our leaders have had us spending on trivialities, Americans are dead of the Coronavirus. It is that one for one here, guys: because if we had been as prepared as possible for this – and had acted like adults at the first sign of trouble – many people now dead would still be alive. And many who are going to die wouldn’t. The vanity project of having a green new deal in your home town might have produced a glowing editorial, but it also produced a corpse. Or dozen.

And we had better get serious about this soon – because Coronavirus, by all historical standards, is mild. This is the alarm in the middle of the night waking us up to the threat…and if we don’t take it seriously, then we will pay a very high price in blood.

Challenge: Name Something Positive the Government Has Done

Yesterday on Twitter I saw a comment claiming that the rise of Trump is due to some decades of Conservatives asserting that government is bad – I retorted that the rise of Trump is due to 100 years of the government never getting anything right. That was a bit of a Twitter thing – you only have 140 characters, so you have to be brief and this can lead to exaggeration for effect. But then I started really thinking it over, and it occurs to me that my mind had just latched on to a salient fact.

Our Progressive friends would roll that around a bit and might come up with something like “roads”; this in keeping with their basic view that all goods things come from government. But here’s the thing – outside my neighborhood right now, the road is ripped up. There wasn’t anything wrong with the road – no potholes or cracks. It had been redone a few years previously. They didn’t install new sewer or power lines. All anyone can see is that they ripped up a perfectly good road to lay down an exact duplicate of what was destroyed. Go ahead and Google “Roman roads” right now – you’ll find all sorts of pictures of 2,000 year old roads which are still in pretty good shape. If government is doing roads right, shouldn’t they last a bit? Think about it – it is, bottom line, rock laid flat over dirt. This is not a complex engineering task. Anyone want to place bets on how long our Interstate system would last if we stopped re-doing it every couple of years? I drive to St. George, Utah on a fairly regular basis and the Virgin River Gorge is almost continually being redone. Don’t tell me we can’t build it once for all – but we don’t. And I can only suspect we don’t because if we did, there’d be less government money to shove at well-connected highway contractors. I know that cars and trucks cause more wear and tear than ox carts of Roman days…but we’ve also advanced in science just a bit since then and there simply must be a way to build a road which will last with very minimal maintenance (outside of large natural catastrophes) for centuries. Sure, it’d be vastly expensive to build such roads…but once built, we wouldn’t have to worry about it for a long, long time.

Schools? They barely make kids literate these days – don’t think that the racists who have popped up of late are old, white people…from what I can see of them, they are mostly young people and that means that they are products of our current education system. Or, rather, current mis-education system…and coming out of school absolutely ignorant of history, they are falling prey to hate-mongers who know how to use “cool” imagery to sucker people. College is even worse – you can pile up debt to get a degree which is absolutely worthless…and even the hard sciences are now being infected by political correctness so I’m starting to worry we won’t have sufficiently qualified engineers in 20-30 years to maintain the technical aspects of our civilization.

I read today that the military is spending time teaching soldiers about the evils of “white privilege”…I’m sure that’ll come in handy when someone is shooting at you. Cars and houses cost vastly more than they should thanks to government tinkering with what the “experts” think should be in a car (needless to say, the experts making the rulings have probably never built a car or a house in their lives). Milk, bread and meat is also more expensive thanks to government – which figures that humanity, which has been managing to feed itself for 100,000 years, wouldn’t know what to eat if a government nanny wasn’t present. Medical research? Let’s just talk about how much longer it takes to get a treatment or medication on the market thanks to government…and how much more expensive it is because government “helped” everyone along the way.

So, just name it – name one thing you think government has done well.

Money is Power

The market capitalization of the ten largest US corporation is about $3.5 trillion. The United States government will expend about $4 trillion in fiscal year 2016. The ten richest Americans are worth about $456.9 billion.

Think, for a moment, what you could do with one billion dollars. If you had 1,000 family members and friends, you could make each of them a millionaire. If you dumped the whole lot into a short-term bond fund, you’d make $50,300,000.00 per year…or, to put it in terms of a 40 hour work-week, you’d be paid $24,182.69 per hour. For doing nothing. And you wouldn’t even be touching your billion dollars. Now, multiply that by about 8,000 and you’re at what the largest corporations, the government and the richest people in America have. Those are resources beyond imagination. Who could you not buy off? Who could you not convince to do things your way?

To be sure, those who have a deeply-instructed religious/philosophical mind would be beyond your power…but this is a small minority of the whole. So many people would present themselves at your beck and call that you could safely ignore those outside your influence…or destroy them if they became an irritation. Yesterday, it was announced that those who had made the videos showing Planned Parenthood selling baby parts have been indicted. Think about that for a moment – Planned Parenthood is deliberately breaking the law and it is the people who exposed the law-breaking who are under indictment. This is what you can do if you have lots of money – and thus have lots of power…and Planned Parenthood is awash in cash to buy influence to put down people pesky enough to look into their doings.

We all remember the O J Simpson case – the evidence was, to say the least, pretty strong that he had murdered two people in cold blood. We don’t know, precisely, how much money Simpson spent on his defense (for some reason defense attorneys are reticent about telling us of their fees for such cases), but the estimate at the time was about five million dollars. O J, to put it in a nutshell, purchased a not-guilty verdict. Marc Rich was indicted for a variety of crimes…but one million dollars donated to the Democrat Party, $100,000.00 to Hillary’s 2000 Senate campaign and $450,000.00 to Bill’s Presidential library and, presto!, a pardon. A bargain for a guy who was worth north of a billion dollars. And wouldn’t it be great if you could buy yourself out of a long prison sentence?

But, you can’t. I can’t. Very likely, no one even in your remotest relations and third-degree-separation friends can, either. Nor can we buy our way on to television, nor into lucrative book deals, nor into the halls of power to pitch our case. We don’t have enough money – we don’t count. Because money is power. If you wonder why the GOP leadership kept on getting it wrong and, eventually, set the stage of Donald Trump to bollix up the whole GOP primary in 2016, look no further than the money. The GOP leadership wasn’t interested in what we cared about – they continued to do whatever it was the money wanted done…and, here we are.

Hillary rather infamously said a few years back that for our own good, they’re going to have to take some things away from us. She means what small amounts of money and property we’ve got – she’s certainly not going to take away the money of those who are keeping her and her family on the gravy train. Sanders talks about making the rich pay “their fair share”, but if you think he’s ever going to Soros’ house to demand a billion dollars of his money, then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Remember, aside from a few of clear mind, those in government are in government because someone with a bucket of money helped to put them in government. People are usually not interested in killing their goose that lays the golden eggs.

Where am I going with all this? Well, our Founders wrote a great governing document – our Constitution (currently hibernating) – with all sorts of things put in there to make sure government couldn’t do things (and just what part of “shall not be infringed” do you not get, liberals?) but here we are, a bit more than 200 years later, and government is doing all sorts of things which violate the letter and spirit of the Constitution. How did this happen? People with lots of money purchased influence and got the government to just go ahead and do things it isn’t allowed to do. To be sure, this was often done with the official consent of the people – if we elect a Big Government liberal, then no one should be surprised when that Big Government liberal goes nuts with power.

What is missing from our Constitution is some mechanisms which would make sure that when money talks, the law and morality speak louder. Our liberals – because they are nitwits – think that the solution to the corruption of money is to make sure the government has all the money. As if the people in government, in control of vast sums, don’t dip into the till for themselves and their cronies…nor use the money of government to induce people to act against their own best interests. We can’t get rid of money, no matter how you slice it – and we can’t get rid of rich people, either (even under the Soviet Union, there were people who were quite rich…they just made their money off government instead of off providing a good or service the people might want). But we simply must do something to mute the power of money.

I’m sure if we ponder it for a while, a lot of solutions could come up, but I think the best immediate solution is term limits. It is easy to buy a guy in his 20’s and he stays bought into his 70’s after he’s on his 5th Senate term. Much harder to buy Congress over and over again every few years. But we can’t just limit the number of years people serve in an office, we also have to make it so that no particular office is an immediate stepping stone to a different office. The Romans, under the Republic, had it that you couldn’t take a different government office until five years after you left your last office. And that is a grand idea. No more having people just step from city council to State Assembly to the House to the Senate and having a 50 year long uninterrupted career…and in all that time, continually doing the bidding of those who have the money. It would work like this – you get elected to the House and then you can serve three terms and then you’re out…and once you’re out, it is five years before you can even seek a different office; any office. You’re just out of politics, completely…hopefully to be entirely forgotten after two or three years, so there’s less incentive for you to try for a different office down the road. But, even if you do, at least we’ve got five years to see how what you did turned out. Before you face the voters again, we’re going to know what happened with those great-sounding laws you helped to pass. We also need to apply term limits to government service…no more than 20 years entrenched in the bureaucracy, and no fat pensions, either; 401k’s for everyone. Having a permanent class of bureaucrats also doesn’t work well for us because they, too, fall under the influence of those with money (or become influence peddlers, themselves). Government service should be, outside the military, a short-term duty civic minded people take upon themselves…not a life-long sinecure for corrupt and stupid people.

At all events, we have to do something – we can’t just let our Republic go down due to the corruption of short-sighted, power-mad nincompoops who make a career out of politics. Money needs to be shut up and the will of the people needs to prevail.

UPDATE: One of our Progressive lurkers decided to call me out on this – naturally, the objection to the post is not related to the subject at hand. The objection is that I spoke disparagingly of saintly Planned Parenthood. How dare I! After all, an organization dedicated to killing unborn children could not be other than of the highest morality! At all events, the left is assuming that the indictment of the makers of the videos proves that it is the video makers who are in the wrong – and they love to point out that the DA is a Republican and was appointed by a Republican governor and, therefor, there can be no other conclusion than THE VIDEO MAKERS ARE EVIL EVIL EVIL!!!!11!.

Well, not quite – Devon Anderson was appointed Harris County DA in 2013 succeeding her late husband in the position. While Anderson is indeed a Republican, Harris County is one of the few Democrat counties in the State of Texas (Obama won the county, narrowly, in both 2008 and 2012). Houston, which is the county seat of Harris, hasn’t had a Republican Mayor since 1982. In a very odd bit of business, Anderson didn’t indict abortionist Douglas Karpen, who’s activities were very similar to the abortion shop of horrors run by Kermit Gosnell, now serving life without the possibility of parole in Pennsylvania. Anderson is up for election in 2016 and the $25,000.00 odd dollars donated to her campaign by Douglas Karpen’s attorney will probably come in handy. Meanwhile, indicting PP would probably not have worked to Anderson’s advantage in November.

You see? Even if one wishes to suppose that Planned Parenthood is guiltless and that those mean, nasty Pro Lifers got what is coming to them what we have is a system where a person is made DA because of the political connections of her late husband and who is taking donations from people who defend those allegedly under investigation by the DA. This is what I’m on about with Money is Power, folks…

Carly Fiorina and the Limits of Executive Ability

There has been much comment on Carly Fiorina’s tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard – some calling it a complete disaster, others calling it a success. For political purposes, what is most important to remember is that Fiorina was running neck and neck with Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010 until Boxer came out with an ad attacking Fiorina’s actions at Hewlett-Packard. To be sure, the Boxer ad was lurid but the bottom line is that it worked: there’s nothing a Democrat likes better than to run against the CEO of a large corporation. It just works perfectly: the former CEO is, of course, very rich and, also, probably made at least some decisions which can be second-guessed (or monstrously twisted) in hindsight. There really is no defense a GOPer can have in such a situation (Democrat CEO’s who run for office are not so handicapped – because the MSM simply won’t give the Evil CEO meme any play and, of course, the GOP is ill-positioned to attack CEO’s in the public mind).

There is an element, though, in Fiorina’s tenure which I think important for all of us to notice – from Bloomberg Politics:

Carly Fiorina said Sunday that neither she nor Hewlett-Packard should be faulted for the sales of millions of HP printers in Iran when such business was prohibited by U.S. law.

Appearing on Fox’s Fox News Sunday, Fiorina said that despite being the CEO of HP when the Iranian sales took place via a third party, she was unaware of them.

“First, HP, you need to remember, was larger than each of the 50 states,” Fiorina said. “It’s a larger budget than any one of our 50 states, and a global enterprise. And so it’s impossible to ensure that nothing wrong ever happens. The question is what do you do when you find out.”

“Are you saying you didn’t know about it?” host Chris Wallace asked.

“In fact, the SEC investigation proved that neither I nor anyone else in management knew about it…” she insisted…

There are two things which will make me doubt a statement:

1. The prior knowledge that the person is a habitual liar.

2. That the statement is just absurd from the get-go.

I have not seen any evidence that Ms. Fiorina is a habitual liar so I will not accuse her in this instance of being such. For the second part, it is not an absurd statement. Ms. Fiorina prefaces her answer by noting HP is larger than the 50 State governments. This is no exaggeration – HP has more than 300,000 employees and more than $110 billion in revenues. That revenue amount is about the same as the State of California; all other States go from “a lot less than HP” to “this would be HP’s chump change”. It should be noted that HP has a reputation for being one of the most honest companies out there – and for our Progressives, it is all squeaky clean on Progressive politics: even Greenpeace gives HP high marks. On the other hand, in 2014 HP had to fork over a $108 million fine because they were bribing officials in Russia, Poland and Mexico to secure contracts. To be sure, the bribe case was long after Fiorina left but I bring it up because it shows this point: it is highly unlikely that the CEO of HP has more than the haziest notion of what is going on, day by day, in HP operations.

The bottom line is that once an organization gets above a certain size, no one can really know what is going on. The boss only knows what his or her immediate subordinates choose to reveal. Of course, a diligent boss can harass the staff into providing more information, or taking more immediate action – but even then, only about things which occur to the boss. If the boss doesn’t take a mind to a particular issue and no one volunteers any information about it, it simply will not be known. The best executive in the world with the most noble motives simply will not be able to oversee the entirety of an organization once it is too large. And too large probably shows up above 10,000 people for most executives, and about 100,000 for the best. To put it in perspective – Douglas MacArthur had three armies under his command at the peak (6th, 8th and an Australian army); Dwight Eisenhower had 9 (1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th, 15th, a British, a Canadian, a French and an Airborne army). MacArthur nimbly moved his armies over thousands of square miles of ocean and land and no forces under his command ever lacked for any necessary item…Ike’s armies ran out of gas – as in gasoline – just when they could have finished the Germans off. MacArthur’s forces were small enough for him to keep control – Ike’s forces were so sprawling that no one was keeping tabs on making sure the supplies got there, regardless of any difficulties.

Human beings are not built for managing massive enterprises. We just can’t do it. We’re not smart enough or energetic enough. The fundamental problem with Big Government, Big Corporation or Big Anything is that no one can mind the store. No one can grasp the whole thing and make it go the desired course. You can by diligent efforts hammer it into getting a few desired things done, but you can’t watch and regulate the whole mass. If someone – or 10,000 someones – are goofing off out of 200,000 people, how can the boss possibly know? Only if something really bad happens. And the bad things will happen because people are people – in any aggregate of humanity there will be a subset which is stupid and/or corrupt.

With a private corporation it isn’t to terribly bad because the bad shows up faster and demands action sooner – or even the big bosses will be out of a job. With government, it is just terrible. You see, a bureaucrat at the VA gets paid the same whether he processes one claim or twenty claims in a day. There is no incentive – other than personal honor – for him to work diligently to process the twenty. And, so, very often only one gets done – and to make it even more hideous, that bureaucrat processing one a day, if he gets caught, is protected by civil service laws and contracts from being fired. This actually works out as an incentive to goof off.

Any candidate saying they are going to make government work is kidding us – and themselves – unless the primary action of reform is to make government smaller. At least in the sense of breaking it up into smaller entities which are easily accountable to the people’s elected representatives for performance. But best in the sense of just having a lot fewer bureaucrats. More of them merely means more of them to make mistakes – and less chance that anyone will catch the mistakes.

We laugh when we hear Obama’s claims of “I read it in the papers” when yet another disaster besets his Administration. And, true enough, some of Obama’s claims are laughable – but not all of them. For the simple reason that he probably really didn’t know until the story broke. Until the disaster happened, that is. But we don’t elect Presidents to not know what is happening – but we can only have a President in the know if the organization is small enough for him to keep an eye on. We’ll never have effective government until it is smaller – no matter who we place in the White House.

Government: Just a Word for Lines We Stand In Together

Yep, the bigger we make government and the more power we give it, the better – via Hot Air:

The number of veterans seeking health care but ending up on waiting lists of one month or more is 50 percent higher now than it was a year ago when a scandal over false records and long wait times wracked the Department of Veterans Affairs, The New York Times reported. The VA also faces a budget shortfall of nearly $3 billion, the Times reported in a story posted online ahead of its Sunday editions. The agency is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other significant moves to reduce the gap, the newspaper reported. In the last year, the VA has increased capacity by more than 7 million patient visits per year, double what officials originally thought they needed to fix shortcomings, the Times reported. However, the newspaper added, department officials did not anticipate just how much physician workloads and demand from veterans would continue to soar. At some major veterans hospitals, demand was up by one-fifth, the paper reported.

Our Big Government liberals will naturally call for more money and more bureaucrats. They will never understand that the primary purpose of government, as conducted by its officials, is to increase the power and wealth of government. Even when we restrict government to its most narrow, constitutionally-mandated powers, those in it will still be seeking after themselves, first – and the people, at best, a distant second in their concerns. It is just the way things are. People are like that. A bureaucrat has a choice in how to spend his day: vigorously working for the people (for which he will get no additional pay or benefits), or vigorously working the system to benefit himself. Guess which way things go? And this is true even if a majority of the bureaucrats are selfless – it only takes a few in the mix who are self-serving to ensure the whole system is screwed up.

The bigger the government gets the less capable it will be in doing what we want it to do. You see it, yourself, every day – schools that don’t teach; roads that are in disrepair, etc. We’re spending vastly more – in real dollars and per capita – on all things government than we ever were and things just keep getting worse. More run down, more difficult to accomplish, more lengthy in process, more expensive in the end. We need to spend a decade repealing laws and cutting down the size of government just to get to a point where the human mind can start to comprehend the scope of it and decide what to do.

The Democrats’ Hot, New Plan: More Social Security


Social Security has a long-term funding gap that just keeps growing. Neither political party has a plan to pay for the promises we’ve already made to people contributing to the system. But Democrats are bringing a new idea to the table: make even more promises.

Almost all Senate Democrats have lined up behind a proposal by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to expand benefits for current retirees. Liberals are exulting that Warren has shifted the politics of Social Security to the left: Where once we were debating cutbacks to the program, now we’re debating benefit increases. Too bad that also means the debate is shifting further away from fiscal reality.

Social Security is becoming a worse deal for each generation. Those now joining the workforce are expected to pay more into the system than they get out of it. Warren’s plan is to shower more money on the current generation of retirees, but without increasing the deficit over the next 10 years. That means, in all likelihood, raising taxes on current workers while also increasing the program’s long-run fiscal deficit…

Now, in raw politics, this is a good idea – you see, elder voters are increasingly trending GOP and they tend to vote very consistently…thus playing a huge role in the anti-Democrat blow-outs of 2010 and 2014. In 2016, which is expected to be a close-run race, getting a few more elderly voters to pull the lever for the Democrats might make the difference between President Hillary and President Walker. So, off we go: raise social security benefits for current retirees and hope that out of gratitude they vote for you.

Of course, as noted in the quote, this can only be done by increasing taxes on current workers and it would also, naturally, put a heavier strain on social security in later years. The bottom line is that social security just doesn’t work – it is predicated upon a very large number of working people supporting a relatively small number of retired people. Trouble is, the work force keeps getting smaller and the miracles of modern science are keeping us alive ever longer. My father retired in 1992 at the age of 65 and died in 2009 at the age of 82 – seventeen years of picking up the SS check. Suppose I live 10 years longer than my dad did…even if I retire at 67, that will still work out to 25 years of SS payments for me. And a kid of 25 today might easily live until his late 90’s, or even longer. Meanwhile, we’re not having all that many kids. The program eventually goes belly up. But what is that to Democrats? What they need is a way to buy votes now – what will happen later is irrelevant; whatever happens, their program to deal with it will be to promise more free stuff.

Ok, so how do we fight against this? Can’t just say, “screw the old folks”. That would just play into Democrat hands. We have to come up with some sort of program which both benefits the oldsters while also helping out the younger folks who are paying for the goodies. My preferred option is to start implementing a privatization of social security without being too explicit that full privatization is the ultimate goal (politics is the art of the possible, folks). Something along the line of “10% of the money you pay into ss, today, will go into a private account owned by you and your heirs”. Whatever we do, we have to do it well – because this will be a potent weapon for the Democrats in 2016.

Social Security Hitting Kids for Parents’ Debts

This is just hideous:

A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.

When Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.

No one seems eager to take credit for reopening all these long-closed cases. A Social Security spokeswoman says the agency didn’t seek the change; ask Treasury. Treasury says it wasn’t us; try Congress. Congressional staffers say the request probably came from the bureaucracy…

This is just a desperate ploy from a government which is greedy for every dollar it can lay its hands on – but it also shows (if ObamaCare didn’t clue you in) that no one in government really knows what is happening…its all done behind the scenes with lobbyists and bureaucrats and staffers inserting things into bills and regulations without anyone accountable to the people really knowing what is going on.

This, of course, needs to be repealed – it is un-American to seek to collect debts owed by one person from another.  If the person who owes the money is dead and there’s no estate to collect it from, then the debt is a write-off.  Whether or not anyone in Congress will step up to fix this particular problem remains to be seen – but the ultimate fix to this is to prohibit Congress from passing laws of more than, say, 10 type-written pages…and to prohibit the bureaucracy from implementing new regulations (which also must not be more than 10 type-written pages long) before Congressional approval of each new regulation.

UPDATE – technically unrelated, but check out what is happening with the Bundy Ranch in Nevada.  True, its a dispute over grazing rights which has been going on for decades…but whatever one wishes to think about the particulars of the case, why did Uncle Sam whistle up an army to round of the man’s cattle?  Why make a “free speech” zone?

Given that this is Nevada and we have Harry Reid and the BLM is involved, I’m immediately suspicious that this is just another corrupt land deal – there are stories that this land is to be set aside for a solar plant with a Reid son involved.  I’m not so sure about that – this has been going on too long for that (since 1993).  I’m more thinking that since it is some really nice countryside (and the Virgin river runs year-round through it as it heads towards Lake Mead) that someone has a mind to build some resorts out there – and ol’ Harry has been more than once involved in screwy land dealings where, hey presto!, BLM land is made available to the “public” and Reid cronies make a killing.