Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hubris - Attempts to Act As A Deity

http://blog.independent.org/2012/02/22/this-man-was-almost-elected-president-of-the-united-states/
Al Gore, who came within a few hundred votes of being elected president in 2000, has designed a blueprint to overhaul capitalism to create a sustainable capitalism that will support lasting economic growth. He says that the way capitalism is now practiced does not “...incorporate sufficient regard for its impact on people, society and the planet.”

Perhaps I'm just mis-judging him because he's so well intentioned in his hubris.  Few things would frighten me more than the idea of Algore pulling all the strings.

He's right, however, in his assessment of how well capitalism is working.  With all of the mal-incentives provided to capitalists by government, there's no question that vast quantities of human capital are being wasted.  It could be much, much better.

Dirty Downward Dog

This article is fascinating for a multitude of reasons.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/health/nutrition/yoga-fans-sexual-flames-and-predictably-plenty-of-scandal.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

A couple for starters:
- "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."  If you remove the limits which constrain a man living in community with peers, the man will behave like a power mad sonovabitch be he politician, guru or just a man with too much power generally.  The reason we hate the Weiners and JFKs of the world is that they tell us they do what they do for our benefit, and then get to work serving their own benefit - well, those who actually notice what these lying SOBs do tend to hate them.  No one cares that Trump or Hefner were "misbehaving"; anyone fooled by them had it coming.
- Interesting that researchers are seeing these connections to yoga poses and hormonal change/improvement, and other markers of increased reproductive health. 
- There was a similar scandle some years ago regarding Budhist monstaries and the leaders therein.  Back to point number one above.

It is interesting to see the origin of yoga compared with its image today.  It makes perfect sense to me that a practice designed to benefit the spirit would also benefit the reproductive system and its imperatives on behavior.  In another blog, I write about the Paleolithic model of nutrtion and health.  A certain indicator of health for any animal is reproductive capacity; from the biological perspective, that's why we are here.  In short, anything that improves health should be expected to improve reproductive function and the supporting hormonal mileu.  Likewise, anything that punishes your reproductive health could be expected to be health decreasing over all.  In short - biologically speaking, spiritual health and reproductive health shouldn't be viewed as separate entities, they should be thought of as two sides of a single coin, that being a healthy thriving human.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Electric Cars, So Virtuous, So Pure

Samuelson on Murray

America's distinctive beliefs and values are fading, says Murray. Maybe. But our history is that the bedrock values -- the belief in freedom, faith in the individual, self-reliance, a moralism rooted in religion -- endure against all odds. They've survived depressions, waves of immigration, wars and political scandals.  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/02/27/the_real_class_warfare_113256.html

The bedrock values he mentions - are they really those?  Do "Americans" still believe in that?  Isn't the current narrative that life is too hard, and people too incompetent to make it on their own?  Don't the folks in need think someone's coming who will give them what they need?  And don't they largely think that they deserve what they need?  I think too many people neither understand or desire freedom.  What they seem to want is to be taken care of.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Would Politics Be Like Without Double Standards?

This phenomenon reminds me of a quote I heard from Steven Covey. 
"We judge others by their actions, we judge ourselves by our intentions."
This seems to apply to those we deem as "our" party; I don't know of any other explanation for how otherwise rational voters could support the folks they do, when they know for a certainty those folks like to them day in and day out.

From the link below:
When Barack Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, he declared that marriage is between a man and a woman. For the most part, his position was treated as a nonissue.

Now Rick Santorum is campaigning for president. He too says that marriage is between a man and a woman. What a different reaction he gets.

There's no mystery why. Mr. Santorum is attacked because everyone understands that he means what he says.

President Obama, by contrast, gets a pass because everyone understands—nudge nudge, wink wink—that he's not telling the truth. The press understands that this is just one of those things a Democratic candidate has to say so he doesn't rile up the great unwashed.

It's arguably the most glaring double standard in American life today.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"It Will Not Get Done"

The entitlement programs, public education, housing programs, foreign aid, they all are based on this premise:

"If some good thing must be done, and government does not do it, it will not get done, so even if we know government will do it badly, it's better than nothing, even if it requires the use of coercive force and insults liberty in doing so."

I don't believe that.  I believe that people will do the goods that need to be done.  I believe they will do those things even if those who don't think so are not there holding a gun to their heads to make them do it as those with guns would have them do it. 

I do believe in cooperation.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Can We Survive Our Safety Net?

Through sickness or accident, some workers had to retire early. They, too, deserved protection. For many years, the costs were modest. But in recent decades, they have exploded.
Consider. In 2010, Social Security's disability program cost $124 billion plus another $59 billion for Medicare (after two years, disability recipients automatically qualify for Medicare). This exceeded $1,500 for every U.S. household. For the past two decades, disability spending has increased at a 5.6 percent annual rate, compared with 2.2 percent for the rest of Social Security. As a result, disability represents nearly one in five dollars of Social Security spending, up from one in 10 in 1988.
All these facts come from a fascinating paper by economist David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The disability program, Autor writes, is a "central component of the U.S. social safety net" but doesn't help "workers with less severe disabilities" to stay in the labor force (By law, recipients can't be employed because disability is defined as the inability to work.) This means Social Security collides with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which aimed to keep the disabled in jobs.
Guess which prevails. One program, Social Security, pays the disabled not to work; the other, the ADA, simply encourages their work. Money wins. In 1988, 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women aged 40 to 59 received disability benefits. By 2008, the men's rate was almost 6 percent and the women's, 5 percent.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/02/13/our_budget_quagmire_113102.html

Not much to say about this one except how obvious is it that the money being pumped into "safety net" entitlements is clearly going to cause more people to need more of same.  Greece anyone?  Stall buffet is on, but there'd still be time to avoid the death spiral if our politicians were politicians.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Living In A Crazy Suit

A particular problem is that he betrays little indignation at any of our problems and their causes. He's always sunny, pleasant, untouched by anger. This leaves people thinking, "Excuse me, but we are in crisis. Financially and culturally we fear our country is going down the drain. This guy doesn't seem to be feeling it. So why's he running? Maybe he thinks it's his personal destiny to be president. But if the animating passion of his candidacy is about him, not us, who needs him?"
Mitt Romney's aides are making the classic mistake of thinking the voters want maturity, serenity and a jolly spirit. What they want is a man who knows what time it is, who has a passion to reform our country, and who yet holds these qualities within a temperament that is mature, serene and jolly. Newt Gingrich has half the package: He has a passion to reform, but it exists inside a crazy suit. Mitt has no particular passion within an obviously sane suit.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203824904577212832724317096.html

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's The Sun, Stupid

SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, your precipitous withdrawal from RWE management is reminiscent of the scandal surrounding Thilo Sarrazin, who was forced to resign from the board of Germany's central bank in 2010 following the publication of his controversial book on immigration and integration.
Vahrenholt: This isn't a precipitous withdrawal. Besides, I don't need Thilo Sarrazin as a role model. I also didn't need a role model when I drew attention to risks in the chemical industry in my 1978 book "Seveso ist ├╝berall" (ed's. note: Seveso is Everywhere -- a reference to the infamous Seveso chemical spill in 1976 in Italy). Today, I want new scientific findings to be included in the climate debate. It would then become clear that the simple equation that CO2 and other man-made greenhouse gases are almost exclusively responsible for climate change is unsustainable. It hasn't gotten any warmer on this planet in almost 14 years, despite continued increases in CO2 emissions. Established climate science has to come up with an answer to that.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,813814,00.html

Two points to note.  First, folks who have said the science is settled, and folks who didn't disagree when that was said, have a little sunny side up egg on their face as it becomes more apparent daily that the science wasn't ever even close to being settled.

Two, who could doubt how many people are silenced in their scepticism?  The effect of daring to opine that "climate changism" may not be the gospel truth is treated in manner not unlike what would have happened if JFK had admitted to being the wretched wretch that he was (http://www.tnr.com/print/blog/timothy-noah/100566/jfk-monster).

If I feel some pathetic self satisfaction that I always saw through the image of the former President and virtually always considered him with distain - though I am now aware of how little that matters - it bewilders one to consider:  if the average 1960 American could be seduced by the image of Camelot and JFK, if there any hope that we might one day choose not to be captivated by those who would deceive us to advance their ambition in the name of our well being? 

You could be a quantum less horriffic a human being that JFK and still be far too human to be admired as much as our generation, and our parents' generation, adored/adores political leaders.

NYT's Omniscience and Touching Faith In Government

A stubborn standoff is playing out this week between a nearly bankrupt Greece and the wrongheaded European partners it needs to pay its bills. The outcome is, sadly, foreordained. Greece will have to give Europe all or most of what it wants. It cannot survive without Europe’s money, even if it chokes on Europe’s conditions. By now, Europe’s leaders should know this approach will not work.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/opinion/greek-tragedy.html?_r=3&ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=print

Translation - even though no one else can effectively predict the future, we can, and are so proud of our ability that we don't mind telling Europe's elected leaders how wrong headed we think they are.

Greece has contributed mightily to its problems. For years, the government falsified deficit numbers it provided to Europe, giving it cover to amass unpayable debts. A new government elected in 2009 blew the whistle, accepted a European Union bailout deal and then failed to deliver on market-opening reforms. With austerity measures shrinking the economy and tax receipts and European Union blunders raising interest rates, it also missed deficit targets. Europe’s frustration is understandable.
Translation:  If we didn't believe so mightily in the power of government to do good, we'd say you shouldn't trust governments, which make decisions based on political viability, to run stuff.  But we do.  So, instead of saying that you can't trust governments to run stuff, we'll point our finger again at the EU for running stuff so badly.  Because you see, it's not so much that we can't trust governments to run stuff, it's just that we've had such bad elected leadership for the last few years.  Indeed, we just need better politicians, who are as smart as we are, and all would be well.

In a democracy, majorities can be mobilized against special interests if they can see the economic benefit to their own lives.
Translation:  It's pretty easy to get people to vote for you if you can confuse them into thinking you'll give them something that used to belong to someone else, while allowing them to believe they are justified in getting something that used to belong to someone else.  A cynic would say that's why democracy is such an ignoble form of government.  We just think some groups are more equal than others, and that naturally plays out in way the political class divies out the spoils of capitalism.  Hey, there's no way to make people equal, so naturaly those more equal than others will find a way to get ahead via the coercive power that comes along with politcal connectedness.  It goes without saying that such a natural consequence of an all knowing and all caring government is hardly as wretched as people who get ahead by making profits! (And we ask you, is there anything more soulless than profits?) 

So that's what the NYT meant, as far as I can tell.  As for me, I just feel bad for the poor fools who gave their liberty to politicians thinking it meant they could sit back and soak up the benefits of political largesse, and now realize they can neither care for themselves or their children and have little prospect of changing things in the near future.  I admit that I can't predict the future of the economy, but a not so bold prediction I would be willing to venture is that the Eurozone is not about to elect a bunch of smarter politicians who will do a better job than the present bunch is doing.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Classic Quote, Goethe

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must
do."
-- Johann von Goethe

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's the Sun, Stupid


‘The ten-year projection remains groundbreaking science. The period for the original projection is not over yet,’ he said.
Dr Nicola Scafetta, of Duke University in North Carolina, is the author of several papers that argue the Met Office climate models show there should have been ‘steady warming from 2000 until now’.
‘If temperatures continue to stay flat or start to cool again, the divergence between the models and recorded data will eventually become so great that the whole scientific community will question the current theories,’ he said.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2093264/Forget-global-warming--Cycle-25-need-worry-NASA-scientists-right-Thames-freezing-again.html#ixzz1lC0LiSfP



Wait ... the sun matters?  


Has anyone told "Algore and the Chicken Littles" yet?


HT:  crossfit.com