Thursday, March 31, 2022

Science & Tech updates and incredible marvels!

Taking another break from war, pandemic & politics. Though again I think our paladins in all of those realms could benefit from my book of fresh tactics, Polemical Judo... 

== Wow, just wow ==

The eeriest news during an eerie month? Was the 1983 Christopher Walken film Brainstorm prophetic? According to a recent report“After an elderly patient died suddenly during a routine test, scientists accidentally captured unique data on the activity in his brain at the very end of his life: During the 30 seconds before and after the man's heart stopped, his brain waves were remarkably similar to those seen during dreaming, memory recall and meditation, suggesting that people may actually see their life "flash before their eyes" when they die.”

And fantastic! A team has found the wreck of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance more than 100 years after the vessel was crushed by ice and sank near Antarctica. One of my lifelong heroes.

== Our biological world ==

While I prepare to restore my pastime as a honey beekeeper, it is a good idea to remember that there are other, important kinds of buzzers out there, including the humble (and endangered!) bumble bee! 

Homes for bees: Bee bricks: In southern England, a new law calls for new-building construction to include special bricks designed for bee nests. Not honeybees but native stingless kinds that also are needed.

Expanding our definition of food: Lobster, once despised, is now a delicacy. The same could happen with insects, this video argues. Useful for space colonies as well.

 A bacterium single cell is visible to the naked eye, growing up to 2 centimeters and 5000 times bigger than most other microbes. ‘What’s more, this giant has a huge genome that’s not free floating inside the cell as in other bacteria, but is instead encased in a membrane, an innovation characteristic of much more complex eukaryotes.’ 

At a recent (zoomed) CARTA conference, Mark Moffett of the Smithsonian gave a talk: “Ants and the Anthropocene” that suggests humans aren’t the only species who are aggressively altering the planet. Kneel down anywhere in California or the south of France or a hundred other places and you’ll see Argentine ants (AA) who hitchhiked on human transports, then expanded to extinguish almost all native ant species, in part by making super-colonies who cooperate in taking over the land. Fire ants, who have done the same thing in the US south, coincidentally come from the same Argentine flood basin! They became so ferocious amid millennia of fights in one spot, And now the battle of two rival species is worldwide, including fire ant infestations in California. There are some exceptions to Argentine ants’ super cooperation. California actually has five super colonies and they battle incessantly, with one boundary just a few klicks from our home!

Might a solution be as simple as a virus that changes and randomizes the scent signatures of these super colonies?

== Ah, Covid ==

Despite so many deaths (almost a million in the U.S. alone), this pandemic was mild by sci fi standards, and may be looked back-upon as more of a live fire 'drill' that left us better prepared for the real thing. The stunning speed with which half a dozen different vaccines came forth must be daunting to any villains out there, planning bio-war. Indeed, the U.S. Army's entirely new vaccine may be the future. Apparently it offers 12 sites to attach any antigen stimulant you want. And thus could simultaneously immunize vs, all known coronas, including those responsible for half of all common colds.

Oh, and the pandemic also made clear which of our neighbors are stark-jibbering-loony science-hating cultists. Our earlier notion that they can be talked into reason was revealed as a mad delusion, in its own right. Though I believe there are polemical tactics that could peel away just enough to make a gig difference, this November.

== Insights into humanity ==

Scientists have gained new glimpses into how our brains lay down memories - which could shed light on memory disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. 

Researchers have calculated that lead exposure from car exhaust shrank the IQ scores of half of the American population. But it would have been far worse, except for the campaign circa 1970 to overcome massive trog resistance and ban lead from most gas. I was involved

Superdeterminism? Does quantum mechanics rule out free will? 

Wow. A unified genealogy of modern and ancient genomes: “We present a unified tree sequence of 3601 modern and eight high-coverage ancient human genome sequences compiled from eight datasets. This structure is a lossless and compact representation of 27 million ancestral haplotype fragments and 231 million ancestral lineages linking genomes from these datasets back in time.”

Why do we age? Robert Lustig’s list of aging processes that take place at a cellular level includes: glycation, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction,, insulin resistance, membrane instability, inflammation, methylation, and autophagy.

More than 350 blind people around the world with Second Sight’s implants in their eyes, experienced a miracle of partly restored vision, only to now find themselves in a world in which the technology that transformed their lives is just another obsolete gadget that (unsupported by the now bankrupt company) may fail at any moment. Neural implants—devices that interact with the human nervous system, either on its periphery or in the brain—are part of a rapidly growing category of medicine that’s sometimes called electroceuticals. Some technologies are well established, like deep-brain stimulators that reduce tremors in people with Parkinson’s disease. But recent advances in neuroscience and digital technology have sparked a gold rush in brain tech, with the outsized investments epitomized by Elon Musk’s buzzy brain-implant company, Neuralink. Some companies talk of reversing depression, treating Alzheimer’s disease, restoring mobility, or even dangle the promise of superhuman cognition.”

== It’s a virus! ==

One-fifth. Nearly 20% of cancers worldwide are caused by a virus. These viruses don’t cause cancer until long after they initially infect a person. Rather, the viruses teach the cells they take over how to escape the natural biological process of cell death. This strategy sets these altered cells on a path for other genetic changes that can cause full-blown cancer years down the road..All known viruses can be categorized into one of 22 distinct families. Five of these families are called “persisting,” because once a person is infected, the virus remains in their body for life. One example is the herpes virus that causes chickenpox in children and can reappear later in life as shingles. This ability to survive over the long term helps the virus spread from person to person.

There are seven known viruses that can cause cancer. Five of them are members of persistent virus families. The human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV and known to cause cervical cancer, is in the papilloma family. The Epstein-Barr virus, which causes Hodgkin lymphomas, and the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated virus, are both in the herpes family. The human T-lymphotropic virus, which can cause a type of leukemia, is what’s known as a retrovirus. And Merkel cell polyoma virus, which causes Merkel cell carcinoma, is in the polyoma family.  All five of these viruses contain genetic code for one or more proteins that teach cells how to avoid cell death, effectively immortalizing them and promoting cell growth. The cancer cells that develop from these oncogenic viruses all contain their original viruses’ genetic information, even when they appear years after the initial infection.

And if all of that sounds familiar to some of you who have read my story “Chrysalis” in my Best of Brin short story collection, well, I only predict the future, I don’t make it happen.

All of which… plus Covid… reminds me to periodically offer up this song from 1979’s Unpacking the Eighties (on NPR).


Back in the Pleistocene,
When we were still marine,
a virus launched a quest,
to be the perfect guest 
And re-arranged our genes.

So to this very day,
Whether you grok or pray
all your inheritors
count on those visitors
And what they make you pay.


It’s a virus,
It inspired us,
to rise above the mud.
It’s a virus,
It’s desirous,
of your very flesh and blood.

Now I know your body’s burning,
But don’t give up the ghost.
Tiny viruses are turning you
Into the perfect... host.

(More verses in comments ... and yes, I made up one of the verses, myself.)

== And is anything blurry, yet? ==

Finally.... Is anyone interested in reviewing an advanced copy of a book about how our human senses change as we age? By an old college chum of mine. See 1st comment, below.

Friday, March 25, 2022

It’s primary season. There’s a trick to multiply your citizen-influence.

I have (with others) inveighed mightily against the cheats that have come close to ruining American democracy. For example, elsewhere I oft claim blackmail is the sole plausible explanation for the behavior of so many in Washington DC. I recommend easy ways to find out if I’m right.  

Even worse is gerrymandering, abetted by the wholly-treasonous Roberts Doctrine, that has warped US politics, shifting power from the General Election to primaries, where radicals exert vastly amplified influence.

See “Radicalization by primary has driven the GOP mad.” Though - at risk of being accused of ‘both-side-ism’ - the same thing has happened (to a lesser degree) on the U.S. left. 

In a hurry to learn the ‘trick’ to amplify your vote-power? 

Then skim down past the following explanations, to the *** part...

... where I describe a practical way that YOU… and maybe 50 million Americansmight restore your sovereign power as a citizen.

 == Why do I keep trying? == 

My own past efforts to urge judo tactics on our ‘generals’ leading the Union side in this phase of U.S. Civil War include a book — Polemical Judo -- containing almost a hundred agile tactics to break a gone-mad Republican Party’s hold on many institutions, states and 40% of our neighbors... asking: “Have you noticed a path past those trenches and around that mountain?” 

Alas, among political castes and pundits — even good guys! — new ideas and methods are not-welcome. Oh, there are paladins like AOC, Stacey Abrams and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, who must spend inordinate time corralling flakes eager to repeat their betrayals of 80, 88, 94, 2000, 2010 and 2016, spurning the only coalition that stands any chance of stopping the forces of darkness. See Five devastating rebuttals to use those who would split our coalition.

If November 2020 was our Gettysburg, turning the tide from Trumpism, science-hating idiocracy and treason, remember that it took another 20 months from Gettysburg to Appomattox and America’s rebirth of freedom.

So here’s my top suggestion for how citizens like you might help fight the wave of Holnists trying to wreck our Great Experiment.

== The essence of this crime ==

The Roberts majority on the Supreme Court has one mission, above all. Not abortion or corporatism, but to preserve gerrymandering - the sole thing keeping the GOP relevant in the House and in state legislatures. Without it, there might still be a Republican power in the U.S. Senate. But the party would collapse almost everywhere else.

Crucially, gerrymandering lets politicians choose the voters, instead of voters choosing politicians. It creates mostly ‘safe” districts in which the General Election is a farce. 

The only balloting most reps and assembly members fear is their party’s primary, explaining much of today’s riled-up radicalism of U.S. politics. See how the New York Times made a game to help you understand it

And the sole top priority of John Roberts is to protect this situation.

Do you live in such a district, frustrated that you will never, ever get to help elect someone you like, or thwart representatives you despise?  Then skip ahead to the next section ***

Only first… how does this foul cheat endure, in the face of a vast American consensus against it? John Roberts even admitted that it’s loathsome and inherently wrong. In order to protect it, he concocted the Roberts Doctrine, that the U.S. Supreme Court has no business ruling on the processes and procedures adopted by sovereign state legislatures. Not even when they are cheating voters in order to maintain power that large majorities want to take away from them!

Of course this ploy is an absolutely stunning sham! Since the Supreme Court has intervened countless times in such matters. In fact, Roberts avows that Congress could overcome gerrymandering, if it chooses, via the Voting Rights Act. Hence, a top priority of McConnell & co. has been to stymie that.

In defense of his Doctrine, the Chief Justice contrived an even more amazing rationalization — that while gerrymandering is ‘regrettable,’ alas ‘no remedy” had been presented without flaws of its own.  

Okay, sure, giving the job of forging fair districts to a neutral commission can pose problems too, maybe 1% as bad as letting legislatures do it!  But… what if Biden sent the Solicitor General back before the Court with a fresh approach? One that cancels all of JR’s rationalized excuses? 

If you're curious, see the Minimal Overlap Solution that I offered in Polemical Judo, and summarized here.

There is pushback against gerrymandering! Barack Obama is trying to persuade Democrats in Illinois and Maryland to join a swell of fellow blue states in banishing gerrymandering, even if that would briefly disadvantage a few local, DP politicians. The nasty cheat would hence become a universally Republican crime. The same way that blue states have been leading the way out of the thrice-damned Drug War. The fight continues at many levels, with GOP led state legislatures (as in Texas and Ohio) aggressively applying the Roberts doctrine, using power gained by theft and cheating to empower themselves to cheat and steal more.

Late news:  A state court in Maryland has struck down the Democratic-drawn congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander, ordering the state legislature to redraw the lines for the 2022 election.  Of course! These MD judges were Democrat-appointed and hence professionals, not hired shills. Any sane jurist would rule against this cheat, even by his or her own party.

Alas, some of the same lawyers are blocking reforms of gerrymandering in Texas.

Reforming this travesty through normal processes will take forever. And hence my key point. You don’t have to wait for politicians to solve this!  

== To hell with labels! Register in the party OF your district! ==

All right, that was a lot of hot air. Lots of words and tl:dr details. 

Will you finally get to the point, Brin? 

How can I get my voting power back, 

even if I live in a gerrymandered district?”

*** Okay here's the fundamental: 


Consider: Gerrymandering lumps birds-of-a-feather till each district is “owned” by one party or another. Democratic voters in a Republican-owned district – or Republicans in a Democratic-owned district – will never cast a legislature vote in the only election that matters: the majority party’s primary.

Unless… you hold your nose and re-register with whatever party owns your district.

This holds true whether you’re a Democrat in a Republican district, or vice versa.

If your district is gerried to contain mostly Republicans, then maybe it should be represented by a conservative person! 

But, as a district resident, you deserve to have some say in which variant of conservative it will be! 

 - A Tea Party radical? 

 - A slavish oligarchy-servant, or Nazi, or Roy Moore-style pederast? 

 - Or else perhaps a genteel negotiator, like a Goldwater or Buckley? Such a person may not be the AOC-type you'd prefer. But sanity counts! As does a willingness to negotiate. And to be fed up with Trumpism.

Conservative radicals will scream if they detect former Democrats or Independents doing this! Non Trumpites who attempt this kind of judo must be aiming to sabotage the Republican primary! But any large numbers who switch will have one goal: to recover a meaningful say in a district that had disenfranchised them. 

 - To vote in the only election that matters.

 - To vote for candidates they disagree with less – or who at least aren’t perverts or crooks. 

 - That's a reasonable criterion.

Would it stick in your gorge to register Republican?  

(Or would it gall a conservative in Ilhan Omar’s district to register Democrat?) 

Does a label change your principles? 

Remember Republicans of yore – Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower – and sign the damn card! 

In fact, this tactic has a century of precedents – generations of Republicans registered as Democrats in the old-time “solid south,” for exactly this reason: to vote in the only election that mattered, the Democratic Party’s primary! 

They can hardly complain now.


Picture the majority party primary in each gerrymandered district becoming the de facto general election, with all voters participating. Screamers and radicals would lose potency. Representatives could no longer pick which citizens to ignore by their party registration. 

Moreover, if enough Democrats and independents re-register as Republicans, it will screw up their calculations, their polls, and the data they use to gerrymander! That, alone, will be citizen revenge upon a cynical political caste. 

And it has no effect on your freedom to choose in the general election.

Can’t stomach registering as a (pick your poison) Democrat/Republican? Get over it! Partisan labels made this mess. Grin at your friends’ shocked reactions. 

Then recruit them, rebelling against a political scam. 

If fifty million Americans do this, we’ll show the politicians: “you can’t take us for granted, nor fool all the people, all the time.”

== Finally: This sort of trick should not be necessary! ==

I did this in California, back when we had classic primaries-by-party. Then, in a terrific reform pushed by the Berggruen Institute and others, CA voters establish the best electoral process in the nation, turning to a universal-open primary that's in-effect a first round general election, so that in November the top-two vote-getters face each other.

 It is in fact a crude version of preferential or rank choice balloting, which is starting to gain traction in some places. Positive effects abound, including a decline in primary-driven radicalism and an unexpected empowerment of minority party voters in many districts.

But that's a discussion for our lively comment section, below.



[1] In some states (AL being one) you don’t have to register a party affiliation to vote in their primary! Just tell them you want the other party’s ballot. It does mean you have to stay in the same "lane" in any runoffs, of course. But it also means you can influence the real election, without having to actually join a party you detest! 


LATE NEWS: The Supreme Court stays out of key state rulings on partisan gerrymandering, for now.  Within the last month, state courts in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania drew new congressional district maps after finding that their state legislatures failed to adopt plans that met state constitutional and statutory requirements. Republican-aligned groups then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the state court decisions and adopt a newly advanced — and some say radical — theory that would bar state supreme courts from ruling on election disputes involving federal offices.

On Monday, the court declined both of those challenges, a relief to voting rights advocates but likely only a temporary reprieve, as four of the court's conservative justices indicated their desire to intervene.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Space: wonders from within our solar system - and beyond!

Soon I will be flying to DC for the annual orientation meeting of NASA's Innovative & Advanced Concepts program - (NIAC). Have a look at some of this year's seed grant award-fellowships to study possible technologies just this side of science fiction!

Of course last month's most exciting news was NASA's successful launch and deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope - the largest space telescope, which will help illuminate the mysteries of the cosmos! Here's amazing video of the observatory's separation from the Ariana 5 rocket in space. We are already getting the first images. 

This was the step that had me tense: the latching of the secondary mirror - and the unfurling of its tennis-court sized sunshield. The telescope has now reached its final destination at L2, a million miles from Earth. First public light - last week - was fabulous!

One thing I learned: in order to zero in on a target, the whole spacecraft rotates, but must keep the shield blocking any sunlight or Earthlight. That means Webb will not have much freedom to choose targets at-will, but rather will study distant vistas on an opportunity basis, during its yearly solar orbit. Unlike Hubble, it won't normally be available to swing around toward just any transient phenomena. In a given week, it will have a pretty narrow, ring-like array of possible targets to sample-study. Inside those rings, it will likely be magnificent! So next time there's some transient event out there, like an 'Oumuamua, don't go shouting 'give us the Webb view!' A good reason to keep Hubble.

And more.... NASA will further extend our vision of the cosmos with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, which will provide data on magnetars, supernovae and black holes. And NASA has an ambitious launch schedule for 2022.

LISA- Laser Interferometer Space Antenna - will be an ESA-led and NASA supported mission to deploy laser interferometer arrays into an orbit that follows Earth’s, bouncing beams across distances much larger than our planet. The Europeans have been working on the concept and testing it for decades. Now we may be ready soon to study gravity ripples vastly more sensitively than the already magnificent (and Kip Thorne-led) LIGO array.

Meanwhile, we have fantastic results from our Juno probe orbiting Jupiter and probing the storms down below even 500 km. Helping to illuminate our own weather patterns, these discoveries are simply amazing… almost as amazing as the spectacular competence of an enlightenment civilization that does such things… and the cosmic unlikeliness that citizens of this civilization simply shrug off or ignore such wonders.

And for the first time, a NASA spacecraft has 'touched the sun.' The Parker Space Probe, launched in 2018, first reached the sun's corona a few months back. The probe will approach the sun 24 times over its lifetime, sending back data about our sun... A good reason to revisit my first novel, Sundiver!

== Wonders beyond our solar system ==

We've long known that the planets of our own Solar System emit powerful radio waves as their magnetic fields interact with the solar wind, but radio signals from planets outside our solar system had yet to be picked up. Till now. “This discovery is an important step for radio astronomy and could potentially lead to the discovery of planets throughout the galaxy." Red Dwarf stars have much more powerful magnetic fields than the Sun's, and the exoplanets we've found orbiting them can be much closer than anything in the solar system; hence interaction might generate powerful radio emissions. This promises a powerful method added to the quiver of planet hunters.

Astronomers caught a 2020 supernova in the act way earlier than ever and the data will be powerfully revelatory. “This is a different situation, because we really know what’s going on and we actually see the death in real time.”

Observations of circumstellar material in close proximity to the star were made by Hubble just hours after the explosion, which, wow. The star shed this material during the past year, offering a unique perspective of the various stages that occur just prior to a supernova explosion.

A bright red dwarf system just 150 light years away has planets orbiting perpendicular to each other. Creepy. 

Intriguing... Scientists find dark matter “bridges” that may reveal the future of our galaxy. A new AI-generated map of dark matter shows previously undiscovered filamentary structures connecting galaxies.

Black hole star destroyers: When a star gets so close to a black hole that the tidal force results in material being stripped from the star… simulated eight ways vividly (!) in this video.

== And finally ==

The BBC did a 5 part history of Earth’s evolution and I am in this final episode: The Anthropocene. It’s very entertaining and lively and informative. Very well-edited! Glad to participate.

One of my colleagues is offering an onliner primer on black holes and how a small one might have… well… See “Tunguska Seminar 05” by Bill DeSmedt, author of Singularity and Dualism.

From the Portalist: a worthy collection of science fiction novels, old and new, that explore deep space... including tales by Poul Anderson, Samuel Delaney, Ursula K. Le Guin, Nnedi Ororafor, Christopher Paolini... and my own Startide Rising.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Is Russia triggering a cleansing surge against financial secrecy? And stuff about Crypto!

Sometimes it's the dog that didn't bark in the night. The expected thing that did not happen. 

For example, where is the Russian cyber war that everyone expected to be one of Putin's spasms, unleashed against the West when he grew desperate? Weren't all our banks and pipelines and power grids going to collapse, at the very moment he gave a nod? Is it possible that our nerdy protector castes and their tools - and even out utility companies - turned out to be better than expected? Or Kremlin basement-dwellers much less competent?

Moreover, has anyone else noticed a plummet in the number of trolls on social media, now that Moscow is cut off from most? Has the vast Kremlin agitprop machinery collapsed, as Wired suggests? 

"The Kremlin has spent millions in terms of dollars and hours in Europe alone, nurturing and fostering the populist right (Italy, Hungary, Slovenia), the far right (Austria, France, Slovakia), and even the far left (Cyprus, Greece, Germany). For years, elected politicians in these and other countries have been standing up for Russia’s interests and defending Russia’s transgressions, often peddling Putin’s narratives in the process." 

And even more important, networks of American Q-nuts and Fox-watchers who till now never questioned even Twilight-Zone-level absurdities and schism-ing previously verbotten things called ... 'facts.'

Interesting article and we can hope it is true. Though, even if the Kremlin's surficial agitprop webs are dissolving, that still leaves in place the part of the Kremlin's influence web that is most powerful at swaying big swathes of Western elite castes, and through them millions of our most gullible neighbors - a part that no one, anywhere, even slightly talks about. (Except me, duh.)
Going back to czarist times, Russian secret services always, always sought foremost to entrap and blackmail enemy elites getting them to then serve as agents and moles. If Borat could do it accidentally to Rudy Giuliani, how hard can it be? And do you have even a remotely-plausible alternate explanation for Lindsey Graham? Or Ted Cruz or (hell yes) Susan Collins?

Again, there is one thing that Jobee could do to overnight restore health and vigor to America and Western civilization, though amid a few months of painful, searing light. That would be to establish a truth and reconciliation commission charged with recommending clemency in exchange for folks stepping forward with revelations about bad-things. Especially turning tables on their blackmailers.

If I am wrong about that being a big problem, possibly a cancer on us all... (how can I possibly be?)... then where would be the harm? But if I am right?

A few dems - and a whole lot of goppers - would have to retire. 
We may see more women in Congress, as a result. 
We'll be saner, better... and clean.

== Is EARTH Coming True? ==

Are we seeing - as predicted in my novel - a Western Revival and push back against World Oligarchy? First came a landmark deal agreed upon by the world's richest nations as one of Biden's first endeavors - a global minimum rate of corporation tax placed on multinational companies including tech giants like Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. Late last year, finance ministers from the Group of Seven, or G-7 nations agreed to a global base corporate tax rate of at least 15 percent.  Companies  with a strong online presence would pay taxes in the countries where they record sales, not just where they have an operational base.

And now, amid the furor over Russia's insane invasion of Ukraine, Western nations are hunting down assets like yachts and mansions set up in London and New York and Paris by Putin's fellow "ex" KGB agent oligarchs, billions stolen (with Bush-Cheney collusion) from Russian citizens by those former, sworn Marxist-egalitarian*) commissars and sheltered behind shell corporations. 

Will the U.K. and USA actually end that dismally vile practice across the board? No way! Not yet, that is. These baby steps are far short of the general transparency of ownership that came (fictionally, alas) out of my "Helvetian War." And far, far from enough! But at last some of my large scale 'suggestions' are being tried. 

Now to get all fifty U.S. states to pass a treaty among themselves, banning 'bidding wars' for factories, sports teams etc... with maybe a sliding scale tilted for poorer states or low populations. A trivially easy move that'd save citizens hundreds of billions.

And while we're at it, let's overcome the treasonous GOP resistance to fully funding the IRS to audit the rich.

== Other transparency news ==

ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits.

Taken together, it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The results are stark. According to Forbes, those 25 people saw their worth rise a collective $401 billion from 2014 to 2018. They paid a total of $13.6 billion in federal income taxes in those five years, the IRS data shows. That’s a staggering sum, but it amounts to a true tax rate of only 3.4%.  

Over the longer run, what we need is the World Ownership Treaty. Nothing on Earth is 'owned' unless a human or government or nonprofit claims it openly and accountably. Shell corporations go only one-deep to real people.

Note that this would not be 'socialism'! No tax rates would rise, no confiscature. Just trillions in wealth cached out of sight by cheaters added to tax rolls while rates for law-abiding taxpayers would go down.

In fact, so much illicit property would likely be abandoned by criminals etc. that national debts could be erased and the rest of us could have a tax jubilee. Don't believe that? Do the math. Offer wager stakes.

== The Crypto era? ==

Is that proposal moot, in an era when ownership can be masked with digital, crypto-property?

Well, first, I actually know a little. I've consulted with a number of companies about the coming era and I speak at "NFT Con" in San Diego on April 9-10. 

All right, there is no way to "ban" crypto currencies in general! But there is an approach to making them much more accountable to real life law, though I see no one mention it. 

Let's start with an ironic fact. Blockchain-based token systems are not totally secret!  Yes, they use crypto to mask the identity of token (coin) holders.  But those holders only "own" their tokens by general consent of all members of a communal 'shared ledger' that maintains the list of coins and which public keys stand ready to be turned by each token's owner. In that sense it is the opposite of 'secret,' since the ledger is out there in tens of thousands of copies on just as many distributed computers. Attempts to invade or distort or corrupt the ledger are detected and canceled en masse. (The ecologically damaging "mining" operations out there are partly about maintaining the ledger.)

All of this means that - to the delight of libertarians - it will be hard to legislate or regulate blockchain token systems. Hard, but not impossible. For example, the value of Bitcoin rises and falls depending on how many real world entities will accept it as payment... and governments have been hammering on that, lately, especially China.

There is another way to modify any given blockchain token system, and that is for the owners themselves to deliberate and decide on a change to their shared economy... to change the ledger and its support software.... 

...and I'll elaborate on that in another posting. If the world lets us.

Meanwhile, hang in there. The enlightenment is fighting back. Be prepared for good or bad. Help those on the front lines.