Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Suggestion 4: Watch out for a supra-national aristocracy


Suggestion #4) Make government agile enough to deal successively with the new Global Players.

We've heard a lot about the benefits of an international economy that is globalized, fast-paced, information-driven and “flat.”  But there are also worrisome downsides.  For example, when international elites and corporations can shift funds at the speed of light, jet to new locales, recharter or relocate headquarters at will and seek best-deals with whatever government they like, this puts severe pressure on the two hundred slow, stodgy “legacy nations.”

These older behemoths, tied to static territories and accountable institutions, have much slower reaction times.  They -- and especially their middle classes -- must shoulder the burdens of maintaining infrastructure, educating the workforce, pensioning the elderly, resolving disputes, and keeping order, even as they are fast losing track of their tax base.

And now, those legacy commonwealths are being asked to rescue the same caste that called themselves financial geniuses, after they spent two decades expressing contempt for the nations that made their wealth possible.

Note that this is not exactly the same problem that was addressed in Suggestion #3. In that case, I suggested that radical transparency might reduce or neutralize the rampant and often cryptic cheating that threatens to shatter our social compact.  Indeed, it is the only way that honesty, balance and trust can be re-struck without inviting waves of new bureaucratic meddling that - well-meaning or not - would surely open even more avenues for cheating.  Ironically, folks on the right reflexively denounce radical transparency, even though it is compatible with every theory of capitalism.  Indeed, it might be open market capitalism’s last and best hope.

But this time, we’ll shift to an issue that is a little different than using light to heal corruption.  Here, I want to talk about how super-empowered and ultra-mobile elites have a new and growing structural advantage that they would retain, even if everything were transparently legal and open.  It is the ancient problem of aristocratic advantage, and it is worth noting that only one civilization ever solved it -- for a while.

We’re all very proud of the flat, mobile and egalitarian social order that emerged in America after the Second World War.  (That is, if we squint past little problems like racism, sexism, etc.)  We grew so used to it, across just two generations, that even mentioning “aristocracy” is tantamount to waging despised “class warfare.”  We tend to forget that, as recently as the Nineteen Thirties, even the United States used to be riven by deep and bilious resentments between the masses and those few who passed down privilege, they way their children might inherit eye or hair color .

It was the typical way in nearly all past civilizations, all times and all continents, and you can’t help but to realize that there is a relentless and all-but ubiquitous, natural attractor state -- one that is not good for democracy, freedom, or market capitalism. It is, in fact, the condition that Adam Smith railed against, in Wealth of Nations, wherein he inveighed far more against collusive aristocracy than he ever did against socialism.   One doesn’t have to be a socialist . Indeed, any honest anti-socialist can also see that momentum is building toward the re-creation of an unaccountable, quasi-feudal, aristocratic caste system.  Only this time, on a truly global scale.

And no, I’m not talking about revolution, or sending tumbrels through the streets.  The calm progress that our parents and grandparents made, in resolving class injustices without at all hampering the wealth-incentivized cornucopia of market capitalism should inspire us. What they accomplished, we should too, with innovative and moderate solutions.  Clearly, it's time to put some fresh ideas on the table.

Let’s start by throwing out the hoary old “Left-Right Political Axis,” which has become a metaphor of crippling stupidity.  After Republican administrations incurred 98% of all US indebtedness and economic failure, in an era when capitalism, small business and stocks always do much better under Democrats, who then is the better defender of Free Enterprise? Perhaps we can shrug off that insipid, strawman fear of government, at least long enough to use it for what government does best -- addressing acute and temporary problems.

(If we set aside the routine matters of defense and delivering justice, one can argue that chronic issues are where government bureaucracies tend to stagnate and fester, while well-chosen incentives can stimulate market forces to deal with such long-term matters effectively, over time. On the other hand, governments seem best suited to deal with urgencies, shocks and the unanticipated. An oversimplification, but one with few noxious or tendentious side effects.)

One case in point.  We should not be afraid of nationalizing failed businesses -- like General Motors or Citi Bank -- so long as the intent is to offer them on the block later, when things settle down.  This isn’t nationalization in any radical or permanent sense.  Moreover, those who praise markets should not be offended if the people’s government takes advantage of an opportunity to “buy low and sell high.”

A toxic example of “white flight”

Let me conclude here with a second, possibly more lefty-sounding case in point.  (Note though, that this is from a fellow who once was a keynoter at a Libertarian National Convention!)

Anyone can see how badly the nation’s airlines and airports are deteriorating.  Now add in the grotesquely expensive and humiliating TSA security experience and you realize that we are living through a serious decline in the American way of life.  For a traditionally and joyfully mobile people, nothing like this has been seen since the collapse of passenger railroading, in the sixties.   Many factors are being blamed.  But seldom mentioned has been the flight of the aristocracy from first class.

See also: Airline Deterioration and the New Elite.

I can barely remember the last time I encountered anybody truly rich or famous riding first class.  Today, that section is for weary second-tier managers and upgrades thast help the companies soak up frequent flier miles.  Service has declined as a result, of course.  But the key question is: where have the rich folks gone?

The answer is -- to charter and private jet terminals nearby, where they aren’t frisked and probed.  Where they need share none of our inconveniences or humiliations.

Note this basic historical fact: when the aristocracy abandons a mode of transit, or any other aspect of public life, decline sets in. Remember, these are society’s most influential people.  If they were sharing the pain, they would be the loudest and most effective at pushing for improvements!

A suggestion?  At minimum, the charters and private jets should no longer be taxpayer subsidized.  Indeed, this “new white flight” to private, secluded services, ought to be taxed, like any other vice.

As a general priciple, the same logic holds for countless other ways that elites have learned how to benefit from our nations, from their fellow citizens, while floating away from responsibility, like butterflies.  Like gods.

Continue to the next suggestion: #5 Avoid a crisis caused by "just in time"

or return to the beginning of the series: Time for Real Change: Suggestion to the New Administration


Acacia H. said...

I'm going to go off on a tangent (it's not just my wont, it is my tradition!) for a moment to talk about one key aspect that I am surprised you've not mentioned already: the sciences.

More specifically, I want to mention NASA and our "new endeavor" to return to the Moon and establish a long-term base there.

There are multiple problems with returning to the Moon (or going to Mars or indeed creating a permanent presence in orbit and encouraging industry to start building factories and the like in orbit). The primary problem is cost. It is difficult and still somewhat dangerous to get into orbit.

And the alternatives to strapping yourself to the top of a controlled powderkeg and detonating it (and hoping it doesn't blow you apart) are theories that require technologies we either lack or are in the infancy of developing. Talk of space elevators and the like are wonderful in concept, but they aren't especially practical. Other approaches also have significant problems in development and cost.

However, these pale in comparison to the sociopolitical consequences of returning to the Moon. Space has become a field of national competition once more. China is seeking to go to the Moon, and other countries are eyeing our closest celestial neighbor as well. If we start rushing to reach the Moon once more, tensions could arise between nations concerning territorial rights and development and more. Yet these problems are the main reason we need to reach the Moon and establish a long-term presence there.

There is a solution to this, and it is one we've some practice with: a coalition effort to reach the Moon and establish a multinational base on its surface. The International Space Station is a prime example of what we can do as a global community if we work together. While there have been hiccups and drawbacks in building the ISS, it revealed one important fact: we, as a global community, can work successfully together on a large project.

By pooling our resources with the European Community, Russia, China, Japan, India, and any other nations that wish to reach for the stars, we can reduce the financial cost (as it would be shared), increase scientific learning, improve trust among nations, and create something together.

In addition, by working together and spending resources on a project this big, peaceful relations (and diplomacy) are encouraged because the consequences for abandoning this collaborative effort would be to abandon all those resources invested in the global lunar project.

And if we as a global community work together to establish a international community on the Moon, then we can continue such collaborative efforts and perhaps work to start mining local asteroids and splitting their resources, sending new probes (and perhaps even manned missions) to the Outer Planets... and even go to Mars.

The important thing is to work as a global community on this. By sharing the costs (of research, construction, and more), more money can be channeled into the project compared to that of one single nation, especially in these troubled economic times. Further, the sociopolitical consequences of working together on such a project can only help encourage diplomatic and peaceful relations between the largest nations and nation-communities on the planet.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Anonymous said...

a little off topic but apparently the R'oils were involved in the Mumbi attacks.


I think we know who the bad guys really are.

Anonymous said...

Not at all sure why you imagine "folks on the right" would not welcome real transparency. There is folly a'plenty to be exposed in all quarters. Indeed, since we believe that the traditional watchdogs turn a blind eye to certain political factions, real transparency would be a refreshing change.
Today the Governor of IL was arrested on sundry charges, including attempting to sell Obama's Senate Seat. And as news it falls a couple of notches below Oprah announcing that she weighs 200 pounds! Some versions of the article even fail to mention that he is a Democrat, although it is inconceivable that a Republican so accused would be allowed this courtesy.
Of course you refer to economic transparency. Lots of open field there too. Lets start with an honest look at the funding shortfalls of public employee pensions (are there even private pensions left to bother with?) and what promises have been made to subsidize them with public money. And lets have a full accounting of Congressfolk lobbied by the financial industry in recent years.
Heck, I can take transparency if you can!

Acacia H. said...

Dude. I'm Libertarian at heart. I voted against McCain (though I do feel Obama appears to be a decent enough chap, and better to have him as President now rather than before he's had a chance to rot on the vine).

I would LOVE to see transparency in government officials. Let's lay bare their dirty laundry and oust the whole bunch of them, Democrat and Republican. Then let's get in some more decent people in there, or at the very least people who realize they will not be able to hide their crooked dealings and thus behave themselves out of fear of being prosecuted.

For that matter, Dr. Brin seems to me to be more centrist than liberal. He's aligned that way for the moment because it's the best method of throwing out the neocon thieves that took control of the Republican Party. But if you listen to his comments about gerrymandering, you get the impression he doesn't expect Democrats to behave much better, and that in time we'll have both parties undergo purges of their corrupt and corruptive elements.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

The IL guv is clearly a complete loon. He and Spitzer showed levels of cluelessness about discretion and secrecy that are almost charming and encouraging, They showed no signs of being remotely in the in-crowd who really know how to do big things in secret.

Anonymous said...

Nice as it sounds, I don't think it's smart to go for an international coalition.

It destroys the national pride motivation for shelling out big money. And it knots up approval of even obviously beneficial cooperation, such as paying Russia to use their rockets, in national political issues and security theatre.

Anonymous said...

LOL, I agree, sucks that we have liars and thieves running things, but at least we have ones incompetent enough to be easily caught. Sad that the quality of elected criminals has fallen so low. And thank whatever Powers That Be we appear to have a cavalry of grownups on the horizon.

I like the multinational space concept, we have enough new nationalist jockying down here in the polar regions, we don't need to be confrontational and waste resources in competetive redundancies in space. As the population continues to grow, we have to get used to working cooperatively and combining resources to benefit the most.

daveawayfromhome said...

"even mentioning “aristocracy” is tantamount to waging despised 'class warfare.'"

The only people saying this are the aristocracy and their court. The rest of us might think it, but we know who's losing.

Unknown said...

I wonder if I might offer a "suggestion for a suggestion" since we are on the general subject of concentration of vast wealth in the hands of a few elites, who are now so powerful they can just skip from country to country at will.

This is the revival of the notion that money in its basic form is nothing but a medium for distributing goods and services made to those that consume them.

Our perennial problem has been that with each business cycle, the total amount produced is greater in value than the total amount paid out in wages, salaries, dividends and such. To make up the difference, money is created through loans. What this means is structurally, the "overproduction" of the world is presumptively owned by the financial institutions and becomes debt for the rest of us. This inevitably means that as the economy grows the amount of debt also balloons to cover the shortfall in purchasing power until finally, as we are seeing, the whole debt structure collapses under its own weight.

The unusual suggestion I'd like to draw your attention to is called Social Credit. It in essence proposes that additional money is created not through bank loans but through a national dividend. I think it would be a just recognition that raising the efficiency of production and distribution through the free market should be of benefit to the entire human race, not just the tiny fraction of it known as bankers. I am over simplifying here and I don't doubt this will immediately draw cries of "socialism!" and "hyperinflation!" but I really think it needs another critical look by anyone who considers our original three inalienable rights as important as the continual hoarding of wealth.

You can find more under Social Credit in the Wikipedia, and of course Heinlein's first book was basically a fictional utopia based around the idea. I'd also suggest looking over this more recent paper expounding on the possibility, written just prior to our current credit collapse, by Richard C. Cook and hosted at Global Research:


Anonymous said...

As to whether Gov. Blago is crazy, I am not sure. Some folks from IL who know whereof they speak seem to think so, but there is also the possibility he is trying to set up a John Gotti defense. Likely with the same outcome.

Of course you have to define crazy. Given enough power and adulation men (mostly men) will start to believe in their special status to the exclusion of common sense. It often ends badly, in a bathroom stall in Minneapolis, or off a bridge at Chapaquiddic...

The transcripts do not spell it out, but realistically the only thing Blago could have wanted from Obama is to have the Justice Dept hounds called off in exchange for a favorable Senate pick. Money is no use in prison, and the fact that Blago was under active investigation was no secret at all. I suspect Obama, who is considerably smarter, said no dice.
Now, given the stinky political environment of Chicago/IL politics, there may have been an attached threat. Who knows what Rezko and Blago could say if sufficiently motivated?

But I do not wish for that. We need effective leadership, not an emasculated Presidency.

There are places in America where corruption in its old forms persists. Chicago for sure. Alaska due to the petromoney floating around, Louisiana due to the weird French based legal codes.

I agree though, its a long way from K street where the big money plays. Will it continue to do so?


Ilithi Dragon said...

I think Robert's suggestion of a multi-national space endeavor (to the moon, Mars, whatever), is a very good idea. I was just talking with a friend last night, and he suggested the same thing, but not out of concerns for any socio-political conflicts between nations and cultures that would arise, but because of the hope and inspiration such an endeavor would give us. In the last forty years, we haven't really had any Great Project to inspire us, to lift our spirits and capture our imaginations and hope for a better future. The race to the moon and the following Apollo missions was the last great endeavor that our culture really got behind, and it really affected our society, both in the quest itself, and that day when Neil Armstrong took that fateful step. And even though our space race was mostly a national project, that day made the entire world stand still and watch with bated breath. Imagine what another day like that could have on our society if it were a GLOBAL endeavor. Returning to the moon, or setting foot on Mars, would be such a profound moment in history, potentially revolutionary, if it were a global endeavor. To be honest, I think that is something that we truly need at this juncture - some great quest we can all undertake, to unite us, get us working together, and give us real, tangible hope for a brighter future.

Rocky Persaud said...

Umm... bad idea, or very bad idea?
Fox is beaming The Day The Earth Stood Still remake into space.

David Brin said...

"Looking for that special Xmas present? Say, for that special someone who loves nonfiction TV like Mythbusters? Here's something even better! A hard-to-find classic of rapid innovation.


For your favorite literary intellectual, how about a grand tour of amazing ideas and fresh insights into science and popular culture?


And of course there's fine, collectable science fiction!"


While I'm at it, see some anthologies edited by Thomas Easton that argue both sides of several environmental issues... He did three anthologies for McGraw-Hill, each with 19 issues, each handled with a pair of opposing essays. Two are environment and energy:



David Brin said...

When Baby Jesus disappeared last year from a Nativity scene on the lawn of the Wellington, Fla., community center, village officials didn't follow a star to locate him.
A GPS device mounted inside the life-size ceramic figurine led sheriff's deputies to a nearby apartment, where it was found face down on the carpet. An 18-year-old woman was arrested in the theft.
Giving up on old-fashioned padlocks and trust, a number of churches, synagogues, governments and ordinary citizens are turning to technology to protect holiday displays from pranks or prejudice.
About 70 churches and synagogues eager to avoid the December police blotter jumped at a security company's offer of free use of GPS systems and hidden cameras this month to guard their mangers and menorahs.


Jeez I should have shown this as a scene in EARTH.

Rob Perkins said...

The atheists in Washington should have put it on their sign. Probably didn't think anyone would be so brazen...

Anonymous said...

Walt Disney Inc. needs no help in selling its products, but I'd suggest WALL-E as a sneakily subversive gift for young relatives whose parents are novelty-phobic. A cartoon about a cute robot? Why, nothing dangerous about that.

"jugonse:" Hmmm, sounds like an obscure adjective.

Tony Fisk said...

Keep your Jesuses in a faraday cage in future?

(That *would* have made for an interesting headline!)

Question on the decline of first class: apart from the dearth of really wealthy folk, what services have actually declined/been withdrawn?

inguills: those thoughts that never quite make it to print, either from inherent shyness or a sense of self-preservation.

Anonymous said...

The unusual suggestion I'd like to draw your attention to is called Social Credit...

Alberta had a Social Credit government for decades (ending about 1971, as I recall), BC had them in and out of office up until the nineties, and the Creditistes were a viable force in Quebec politics up until the late seventies. All of the provincial SC parties vanished, leaving nothing but a faint but persistent whiff of anti-Semitism, at least in Alberta. For the last three decades of their existences, they were essentially hard-right and had no use for Social Credit ideology except for whatever aura of fairness went along with the name, and of course the indefinitely-deferred idea that voting these jokers into office would somehow result in greater social justice.

- Lars

Acacia H. said...

Speaking of the Gay Marriage Amendment Ban in California, one concerned citizen is resorting to the time-honored use of satire to drive home how idiotic a ban on gay marriage is.

Nukees, a webcomic that deals with nuclear engineering students, is parodying the recent ban with Proposition NA, which would ban atheists from getting married because marriage is a Biblical practice and atheists don't believe in the Bible.

Of course, I recommend Gav's comic on general principles (as it's smart and funny). But definitely, spread the word. Because if we can show how ridiculous a ban on gay marriage is by changing the minority to atheists or another minority... perhaps we can shift public opinion on this.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

Are atheists a minority, though?

billus: the nauseous feeling that arises when I goes to 'ell' for making such suggestions ;-)

Brian Claymore said...

Off topic, but relevant for fans of science. While it has not been officially confirmed, all major media outlets are reporting Lawrence Livermore Lab director Steven Chu will be Energy Secretary. He is a Nobel Prize winner in physics and seems to have a very rational and informed view on energy policy. He is also knowledgeable about the national lab system, which is a big plus.

If this becomes official, I would say this is a good news for science in this country.

Anonymous said...

More on Brian's post:


This guy sounds like he's a quality pick. While his major areas of advocacy are solar and sustainable biofuels, he's also pro-nuclear, at least as an alternative to coal and oil.

Anonymous said...

All these proposals involving transparency and taxes just won't work. The super-rich don't care about an extra tax, and they publish all their financial activities, the activities are just so phenomonally complex that no one can understand them.

No, what we need is something simpelr and more drastic.

1. Shut down private jets. Force the super-rich to fly first class like everyone else.

2. Restrict capital flows across borders. You can only pull out 5% of your money in any given year.

3. Eliminate stock options as pay, as Joseph Stiglitz suggests.

4. Restrict by law the maximum ratio of CEO-to-worker pay. No more 1,000:1 ratios. Peg it at some high maximum, like 75:1.

And so on.

Incidentally, here's a solution to Detroit's woes...but no one sign that Obama or anyone else will make use of it.

Matt DeBlass said...


Sounds like Detroit really does need more people like Goodwin. It's just looking like they've been better at making excuses than making cars in recent years.
I was just having a conversation the other day with my mech-geek brother about why nobody's making diesel-electric hybrids. It almost seems too simple an idea.

"untlys" hmmm... sounds to my like a British firm specializing in the manufacture of trouser suspenders.

Anonymous said...

I have just read the Godwin post.
There are some good ideas along with some outrageous hype
After 24 years in the diesel performance game I can say that nobody is going to get 50% improvements in efficiency.
100 mpg is also not going to come from an old monstrous luxury car.

Gas turbines were powerful but thirsty - simple thermodynamics the input temperature is too low.
Now if one of the ceramic units can be made to work and the temperatures increased ...

My main point is that anybody reading this article will see the hype and ignore the whole thing.

A minor point diesel cars are much better than petrol (gas) cars in town as the engines do not lose as much efficiency at part load.
As a result the hybrid technology may not give as much improvement
(The extra cost may therefore not be economical)

Fake_William_Shatner said...

Supra-national aristocracy?

I commend you sir, on finding a much more palatable way to describe the Powers That Be, the Illuminati, or the Tri-later committee. Yes there is an international cabal, set against Democracies and the middle class, but somehow people have been brain-washed to think that conspiracies don't happen. Why do people pay half a million to be part of a Country Club? To conspire on the golf course - what else?

But I have to rant. I'm mad as hell;
Just released, the LBJ audio tapes. The Nixon campaign was blowing up the ability of Lyndon Johnson to end the Vietnam War. This treason resulted in the death of over 20,000 soldiers. They were negotiating with the Viet Cong to hold on until after the election. (Remember, Nixon was a protege if Prescott Bush). LBJ got wind of the conspiracy, but did not want to release it, and stops the reporter from the Christian Science Monitor from releasing the information -- he wanted it stopped in the best interest of the nation.

FDR did the same thing, when the Wall Street Banksters conspired to overthrow the government with the help of General Smedley Butler. Perhaps Prescott was taking revenge for FDR censoring him for his involvement in helping Nazis to move funds to banks in Argentina and other locations. Remember this when you think about later connections with the Cuban mafia, and why the Bush family has always been after Castro for kicking out the mob.

And again later -- so much like pappy Bush, helping the Reagan campaign, by giving the radicals in Iran missile parts AFTER the hostages were finally released. Just a sample of the shenanigans; Bill Casey-- the man who brokered the deal for the Iranians to hold the hostages. The morning of his day of testimony before congress, he has a sudden seizure and in Bethesda Naval Hospital, they removed the Left Parietal portion of his brain -- the part that controls speech. Wow, what a fortunate coincidence. Like the Destruction of building 7 that held FBI documents on ENRON and the Bush families involvement in many billions of fraudulent Federal Notes.

>> Against that backdrop, just look at how Fox News is handling the Bloggo story, even a newspaper condemns Obama in questions while asserting it was his call to undo a corrupt veto that helped to nail Bloggo in the first place.

Now begins the "trashing" of Obama. Did we ever expect otherwise? Every single bad thing that happens in the state of Illinois, will be connected, with fact or just a question mark at the end of the sentence. By the time the retraction will be issued for the "first scandal" the next two innuendoes will be catapulted.

The soul of the Republican party is lead by traitorous bastards, who have always used war, the courts, and trade, to diminish the power of the electorate and for their own gain. Once again, more politics are being played -- while America teeters on the verge of ANOTHER Republican economic depression. When do you think these people would say; "OK guys, let's call it quits, our country needs us." No, all for the country club -- these bastards are doing everything they can to bust unions and screw our country.

If Obama ever had the notion that he could "just move on with the business of government" -- he needs to put that idyllic notion aside. He will be convicted in the court of Republican Opinion. He needs to keep them busy, defending themselves from their many REAL crimes. He needs to make investigating treason, war profiteering, and conspiracy to destroy the middle class and subvert our Democracy his MAIN ISSUE. The Ship of State cannot sail with a hole in the boat.

>> The Democrats, keep burying the hatchet and turning swords into plows -- and the Republicans keep betraying the country and stabbing Democrats in the back. Stop it. The Scorpion is always going to sting the frog because that is his nature.

Carter didn't blow the whistle on Bush's father and Reagan (though I learned a bit of why he didn't)
LBJ didn't blow the whistle on Nixon.
FDR didn't blow the whistle on Bush.
JFK didn't blow the whistle on Bush, having plotted the Bay of Pigs (the CIA actually rented boats from their oil company and it was originally code named for the oil company; Operation Zappatta).
Clinton refused to go after Iran/Contra. How did that work out for him? For every missing paper -- there was a investigation, and does the press even cover that Cheney had a paper shredding truck outside of his mansion for months?

Forget the farce that was the Second Gulf War -- The first Gulf War was engineered -- the Kuwaiti royals got rid of a Democratic uprising and were out of the state when it was invaded -- must be good luck. It was that scum bag James Baker who told Saddam that he could invade in the first place -- to stop the Kuwaitis from slant drilling their oil. Then, in a well rehearsed tear-fest, the Kuwait ambassadors daughter tells about babies being thrown out of incubators. Good, tried and true war baiting.
I could make a list for every Republican administration, and the following Democratic one that decided that the nation needed to heal. Now we have $3 Trillion already stolen by financial banks, and another 6 more on the way. They are making sure the silverware is not left when they leave the White House and they will be throwing rocks at the windows funded by stolen money for the next 4 years.

None of the bad guys at the top of power in this nation in my lifetime, have paid for their crimes. They get cushy multi-million dollar talk show gigs. I am sick to death of it. And if Obama doesn't cut these cancerous legions out of the nation -- they are going to finally kill our Democracy this time around.

Ilithi Dragon said...

You have a very good point, WS, and unless you're in denial or massively misinformed, it's hard to refute.

While we're on the subject of unusual suggestions, I'd like to make one of my own: Remove the option to automatically vote along party lines, and any mention of all candidates' political party from the ballot. This wouldn't prevent people from voting along party lines anyway, something I personnally find abhorent and undeniably lends to the power of political division and culture war, but how many voters actually know the names of all the candidates for their party in their districts? It wouldn't be a perfect resolution, but it would be a step towards breaking the stranglehold of power the political party system has on our government, a system that has been ruthlessly exploited by people on both sides, especially those with ill intent, and makes it much, much harder for people not already in the 'country club' of one political party or another to get office.

If people don't know which political party the candidates are from, they'll either make a random guess (which, I would argue, is better than voting along party lines, because it blunts the effectiveness of culture war as a political tool), or do more research of the candidates (which would only be a good thing). And, if they don't cast a vote or make a random vote because of it, it would only give more power to the people who actually DO know what's going on, and are making informed decisions.

But that's just one unusual idea from a firm independent who despises the political party system as a whole.

Clogge: Old English spelling of a drain blockage

Rob Perkins said...

I'll take part in any fight against any one looking to close down any part of general aviation. If we want to stipulate that execs who take bailout loans give up their jets, that's one thing, but GA is half the U.S. air fleet.

I could go on, but I'm already boring y'all.

Ilithi Dragon said...

I agree with Rob - shutting down private planes would be a bad idea, and a Bad Thing in general. The answer doesn't lie there, and there would be no way you could legally regulate the industry in such a way that the execs couldn't work around without unfairly restricting the non-exec pilots and passengers, and as Rob said, killing half the US air fleet.

Anonymous said...

I saw a video of WTC Building 7 that showed both the intact front of the building plus the back side with a huge triangular gouge. So the building wasn't knocked down for no good reason.

Further, about a year after 9/11, I met a woman who had worked in Building 7. She and her co-workers saw the fuss with the two towers but didn't know what was going on. She went out to get a portable radio from her car, but by the time she re-entered the building, her co-workers were being evacuated. Even while the towers still stood, the people in Building 7 knew there was something wrong with their building, too.

Rob Perkins said...

A comment about this: Looking for that special Xmas present? Say, for that special someone who loves nonfiction TV like Mythbusters? Here's something even better! A hard-to-find classic of rapid innovation.

For $24.95? For 44 minutes of television, however good?

Lessee... I paid $3.65/episode for a season of one of my favorite TV shows... iTunes sells their eps for $2/each... and I'm thinking that the History Channel people are robbing David and the other participants of good high-volume residuals by pricing things so high that no one will want it.

For that matter, why isn't Bill Nye's excellent Science Guy series available for download legally yet? That show would be a homeschooler's dream-come-true, but the set costs over $3000!

Ilithi Dragon said...

I actually used to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy while homeschooling when I was a kid. Rob's right, it is a wonderful resource for a homeschooling student. Which is probably WHY it costs so much. Don't want our kiddies growing up learning facts on their own, now, do we?

Krock: The current administration.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

Anonymous said...
All these proposals involving transparency and taxes just won't work.

I like your proposals.

I'd also add that stocks cannot be traded in less than two years for anything but a financial emergency -- forcing them to become actual investments again rather than speculative gambling that they are now.

Unknown said...

Alberta had a Social Credit government for decades

One of these things is not like the other...

Lars, this is true that across the Commonwealth many political parties have taken up this notion of Social Credit. However, describing something as a "Social Credit government" is meaningless unless it is actually capable of issuing currency and setting bank policy. I'd just like to point this out in case anyone was under the impression an actual Social Credit currency has been tried. One might argue that the Second Life virtual world operates under a variant of it, but "foreign" exchange there (converting back and forth to dollars) is such a dominant factor it's hard to say whether it's a succesful test of the idea.

Anonymous said...

We don't really need any regulation on how long someone must hold a stock, just a 2% transfer tax.

First, it would slow down the churn, second, it would flood cash into government coffers during periods of (relative) volatility.

Private jets are big fuel wasters, and you couldn't produce more CO2 per passenger mile unless you traveled in an M1A2 Abrahams. Alone.

They're also extremely potent missiles in the hands of any suicidal freak. I mean, Phil Specter travels on private jets. Certainly doesn't make me feel safe.

Outlawing them doesn't mean outlawing all private planes, of course. If the filthy rich want to stay away from unwashed hordes badly enough, then they can take twice as long to cross the country.

I'm not going to storm the Capitol over it, but it's not really a bad idea.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

Ilithi Dragon said...
I agree with Rob - shutting down private planes would be a bad idea, and a Bad Thing in general.

I think a good compromise would be that ONLY commercial passenger planes over 50 people can fly at the big airports -- but that is solving an issue with air traffic congestions, not necessarily what ANONYMOUS is saying.

A lear jet is taking up the same flight window as a 777 Jumbo. It's a cost shifting on the rest once again.


NIST has reversed its earlier denial of freefall and acknowledged a period of freefall comparable to this analysis in their final report on WTC7 released in November 2008. They did their own measurement with a point near the center of the roof line and came up with an acceleration of 9.81 for approximately 2.25 sec. Their report did not, however, face the consequences of this acknowledgment: that ALL RESISTANCE was instantaneously removed across the width of the building, supporting pre-planted explosives as the cause of the collapse.
(Original comment comments follow)
Contrary to the August 2008 NIST report on WTC7, the acceleration of Building 7 is measured and is found to be indistinguishable from the acceleration of gravity over a period of about 2.5 seconds of fall.

Worth a look. The NIST guy is totally caving in on himself here (no pun), because he was caught in a lie, trying to fix the facts. The building fell at free fall and this has been verified. As did the other buildings. I don't need any other information to tell me that charges HAD TO BE SET. OK, maybe an acoustic destructo space beam -- maybe.

Folks, something only falls at 9.8 m/s/s if there is no resistance. If there is no resistance, than the weight of objects in the building is NOT making the building collapse. If there were a pancake collapse, say on the North Tower, it would have taken at least 60 seconds to fall, as each floor overcame the floor below.

I also have a hard time with this theory that architects are designing buildings with more horizontal integrity than vertical -- which is what is required to have one corner of a building pull the whole thing straight down. Apparently, I haven't seen the chairs that, when one leg is kicked out, the entire thing turns into a fine powder dust and falls in on its own footprint. Say hello to Mitzleplick when you get to that dimension for me, OK?

>> THE POINT IS. I was pointing out just one of many examples of TREASON. Politicians like Nixon, actively plotting against the best interest of America, our forces, and the lives of our people so that they can get into power. I've just told you that at least 20,000 lives were lost, so Nixon could be President. Are we talking about squeamish people? We lose so many more people, for preventable reasons, because people get lots of money to let companies pollute, or cut corners, or whatever. They are stealing TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS on Wall Street right now. Don't think a complex conspiracy can happen? The Bankruptcy Reform Act was designed to keep people on the hook, for home foreclosures -- it was 4 years in advance of the housing market collapse. Not only did they NOT WORRY ABOUT THE REPERCUSSIONS, they fired people who did.

What is the downside to running a bank into the ground and pocketing some of the money? Obviously, even amongst a collesction of smart and informed people -- like we have here -- you can perpetrate the most amazing schemes right in front of people and get away with it.

YOU ALREADY KNOW, that most wars are false flags and created to funnel profits from us to big power brokers. This is also adding What about my comment there? Other than WW II and the revolutionary war - they have all been fights about moving money from the people to the power brokers -- INCLUDING the civil war, which was about trade issues.

So really, what is the quibble about? If you can steal a trillion dollars, start a few bogus wars, and get away with it -- what other BIG crimes are there and what is this nonsense about them not being able to pull it off? They certainly can't be worried about the consequences, because people here are sleep walking.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

Jester said...
We don't really need any regulation on how long someone must hold a stock, just a 2% transfer tax.

First, it would slow down the churn, second, it would flood cash into government coffers during periods of (relative) volatility.

I was going to also recommend the transfer tax -- which should absolutely go into effect to pay for he Wall Street handout.

Reducing CHURN is exactly what should happen. The POINT that justifies stocks, is that it helps business raise money for improvements. If it is merely a gambling chit to track your winnings, and all the companies are putting money into stocks, rather than improving their business -- stocks are then useless for their intended purpose.

Give investors some return -- but the 15% YOY or more is not sustainable. Making money merely on money, does absolutely nothing for the economy. I want people to make a living on their own labor FIRST. That is they way 90% of us are going to make most of our money.

Rob Perkins said...

I think a good compromise would be that ONLY commercial passenger planes over 50 people can fly at the big airports -- but that is solving an issue with air traffic congestions, not necessarily what ANONYMOUS is saying.

A few years ago I completed a Private Pilot Certificate. I assure you, the big airports already have rules such that littleplanes can't really land there. The landing fees for the Class B airports are enormous; just touching down at Kennedy costs hundreds of dollars, for example. And Mayor Dayley in Chicago has been brazen, in the past, about his contempt for GA, by digging up the Miegs runway.

A lear jet is taking up the same flight window as a 777 Jumbo. It's a cost shifting on the rest once again.

Incorrect; the Lear lands in a smaller amount of time, and on shorter runways; its window is smaller than a 777. Unless you're talking about spacing around STAR junctions under IFR rules?

The FAA is funded by a fuel tax, the airports by fuel surcharges, plus whatever landing fees they can get. GA is already not in the large airports, or they're paying dearly for the privilege. Some places, like San Francisco, are said to be downright hostile.

David Brin said...

Daggat... har!